Seeing adverts concerning how to make a living, or even become rich, online is an everyday occurence for most. People tend to brush such ads aside as nothing more than scams, and ignore them. But can they be sure? Are they perhaps blundering their chance at financial success by mistrust?
Quite a few Icelanders make a living by various online means, such as poker, betting sites, online stores, news-webs and other types of websites. All of this seems to require some effort and time. For online stores this work happens mostly outside of the web, and revolves around packing and sending orders. Icelanders who are making money from all kinds of activity on the web have some notoriety in society, but their success seems far removed from the enticing promises of quick money we often see in stories and ads. Atli Fannar, founder and editor of Nútíminn.is, and Heiðdís Austfjörð of haustfjord.is web-store and a popular beauty-centric “Snapchat” are examples of people of this kind. Looking at their work and online presence reveals the amount of effort and time required on their part to make their companies work. Atli constantly updates his website with new content, and he is prominent on social media, promoting content from his website all over. Heiðdís can be seen reviewing and showing off products on her “Snapchat” every single day, and orders are received in a timely manner when ordering from her website.
Based on their content and marketing strategies, it's obvious that Atli's and Heiðdís's user base is predominantly Icelandic. With the WorldWideWeb being the giant, universal phenomenon it is, there must be at least a few Icelanders that look beyond our digital shores to make their livelihood from a larger pool of netizens.
Inga María Guðmundsdóttir and Ísak Atli Finnbogason have both made stabs at having their income come from the Internet, but by radically different means. Inga María is a librarian from Ísafjörður, a small town in the Westfjords. She runs DressUpGames.com, a page that hosts a collection of dress up games both produced by herself, and from other sources around the web. Most of the site’s income comes from advertisements. Inga started her website in 1998, in the early days of the internet. She did it purely out of enthusiasm and fascination with the web and it's scarcely explored potential, but she did not set out to make money off it. “I was introduced to the Internet when I was working on my library-and information science degree in 1993–1995.” She does not think it takes all that much effort to start a website. “The main thing is coming up with something that piques peoples’ interest and is original”. Good ideas don't grow on trees though, and according to Inga it was just as challenging to have original ideas when the Internet was new as it is now.
In order for ads the website needs to provide a lot of fresh content to guarantee a sufficient number of regular visitors, along with enticing new ones. With that in mind Inga works on her website every single day. She says that work-free days have been few and far between these last few years, and come only when something explicitly prevents her from working. The work that's put into the website seems to pay off. She quit her job as a librarian when the website started producing significant revenue, and has since focused on maintaining and updating her website.
Ísak Atli, on the other hand, makes all of his money from online poker. As dissimilar as his chosen means of income is to Inga's, it still requires a good amount of effort. Even though Ísak is a poker enthusiast, he says that's not his biggest reason for choosing this way to make money. It's convenient for him to be able to open his computer wherever there's an Internet connection and simply start working. This provides Ísak a certain freedom, and that freedom is what he so loves about this “job”. The money does not appear on it's own though: “It's a lot of strenuous work. It's most trying psychologically” he says. He admits it's sometimes tough to stay focused and determined during long slump periods, but it always turns around in the end, and the key is to power through.
Ísak is a poker enthusiast, and feels that helps him in his work. Putting in the necessary hours would be a big challenge if he did not enjoy it as he does.
These individuals, whose lives, situations and means of income are vastly different, have a similar core experience. As Ísak deftly puts it: “ If making money online was easy, wouldn't everybody be doing it?”
The web seems to offer a million-and-one ways to get rich fast, but if you delve deeper, a common agreement emerges. Making money online -and being one’s own master is possible. But it requires real effort and diligence. When you get down to it, the Internet is really but a digital representation of the society using it. The same basic rules apply as in the world we walk around in, outside of web and media. Ambition, audacity and hard work gets people far. And more often than not, if you see people working hard, you see them reaping the benefits, both out of and inside the world wide web.
Text: Tómas Ari Gíslason
Translation: Tómas Ari Gíslason