Thiefs, Beggars & Traders: On Making Money Online

The Thief, The Beggar & The Trader - On Making Money Online - CalligraphyDuring my first tries at making money online, I often encountered some kind of inner resistance to specific methods I was testing out. At several times, I had an idea I thought could work, I put in a lot of effort to get this into a state where I could put it online only to find out that I couldn’t bring myself to hit the ‘Publish’ button. The first few times I was not really aware of this, I assumed that I was just not satisfied with how my work turned out, so I kept fiddling and optimizing… but I never clicked that ‘Publish’ button.

After several iterations of this whole process, I began to realize what was going on. It was most blatant when I tried to build an online shop with customized PLR eBooks. The goal was clear: I needed to find a way to get some quick cash flow going to be able to accelerate my efforts through outsourcing. I searched for a long time to get the best PLR eBook I could find. The one I finally bought did indeed have lots of value inside, but I knew that most of the topics that were discussed in this eBook were only glossed over. I did a completely new layout for the eBook, corrected all of the typos, added some clarifications… but I could not possibly sell this under my Office No More brand, as it did not match the quality standard I had set for myself.

So, I did some more work to trick myself into publishing this eBook. I created a whole new brand under a different domain name, set up a completely separate online shop, and rebranded the eBook once more. I now have a separate online shop brand, a completed eBook, a landing page, a business account to take credit card orders, lots of marketing material… and I still did not click that taunting ‘Publish’ button!

This whole incident is about a year back now, and since then I have been able to figure out what this resistance is all about. I want to introduce a conceptual representation of this resistance and what has caused it through a metaphorical bunch of characters… please welcome the Thief, the Beggar and the Trader!

The Thief

Image of a thief stealing jewelry

The Thief is  a pretty vile creature. He lurks in the shadows of the Internet, preying on unsuspecting website visitors. He is the master of deception, and his goal is to get hold of the money of his victims without their knowing. He forcefully takes value from others.

Internet marketers are often seen as Thieves, who try to scam people to get their credit card details, sign them up in pyramid schemes or send them phishing mails. Fortunately, not many internet marketers act as Thieves, but those who have done so in the past have managed to create this negative association, and the general anonymity that the internet provides certainly helps to increase people’s fears.

Don’t be fooled by the layer of abstraction your computer provides, Thief, your behavior is as illegal in the internet realm as it is in the physical world.

The Beggar

Image of a beggar holding his hand up in the air

The Beggar does not want to be a Thief. Alas, he has no value to give, yet he asks for money nonetheless, getting by on the bits and pieces that other people don’t mind giving away without a return. He puts his hand out and lives on the hopes that enough passersby part with a few coins.

This is what most of the internet marketing crowd effectively turns out to be. They hope that the visitors that land on their website leave them some money, although they don’t provide any value in return. In this way, they manage to collect a few pennies here and there, but the real wealth they are after will never materialize in this way.

Help make the internet a better place, Beggar, and stop begging for money!

The Trader

Image of a trader making an offer with a contract in hand

The Trader wants to make a value exchange. He wants to get money from his customers, but he is willing to give them something of equal value in return. In this way, he manages to create a win-win situation where both parties get what they want out of the interaction.

He might even go so far as to ask in advance what his potential customers could need, to make sure that he may offer them as much value as possible.

He is the reason why an economy can blossom, as he seemingly manages to produce value out of thin air.

All internet marketers should aspire to be like the Trader, creating value and setting up an offer that improves the lives of everyone involved.

You’re on the right path, Trader, go on and create value!

I, Trader

In the beginnings of my online business, I was always pressed on making sure I was not a Thief. But I was not really clear on the distinction between the Beggar and the Trader. On the one side, I have a few sites now sitting on my servers that are out in the world, begging day in, day out and hoping to make a few pennies through AdSense. On the other side, whenever I was trying to sell something directly, I was never sure whether I provided any value to my customers. Was I a Trader or just another Beggar?

All the resistance I encountered came from my own moral compass which tried to keep me on the path of the Trader. Whenever there was any doubt whatsoever on whether I offered enough value, my subconscious vetoed my projects.

From now on forth, I intend to do my best to always make sure that I am the Trader. I want to create value. In fact, I want to create so much value for people that they are thankful they have paid me when the transaction is over.

This is not even very difficult to do. Just as an example, the simple fact of saving someone a few hours of his time is very valuable to most people. So, you don’t need to produce expensive physical products to have an offer to sell. Just invest your own time into something you can later sell for others so that they don’t have to invest their time themselves. I’m sure you can think of lots of ways to do that. In fact, this is how most informational products work, they are nothing but a shortcut in time.

How about you, are you a confident Trader or do you still need to beg?


Image Credits


  1. This was a really astute breakdown of internet interactions. Especially for people seeking a more freelance career path. I think it’s easy to fall into the ‘Begger’ category without realizing it. It’s so important to keep ones moral compass pointing North while exploring online career choices and/or advancement. Thanks for calling it like it is.
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  2. I guess what it ultimately comes down to, Alain, is trust and reputation. As you so eloquently explained, thieves will just try to get some money out of unsuspecting first-time visitors who will never come back afterwards. Whether online or offline, the only way to build and grow a successful business is to provide value, build trust and develop relations with existing customers.
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    • Hi Rich,
      Yes, Rich, you are right. There’s not much difference between doing business offline or online. However, the perception of these two differs strongly. Most of the time, our “primate brain” does not really grasp what this abstract online world really means, which often results in our moral judgement being caught off-guard.

  3. Eric Liddell says:

    Hey Al,

    I’m honest when I say this is one of the best articles I’ve read regarding Internet Marketing. And it deeply resonated with how I see things.
    Here’s a quote you might like:

    “The symbol of all relationships among [rational] men, the moral symbol of respect for human beings, is the trade…A trader is a man who earns what he gets and does not give or take the undeserved.”

    A small constructive criticism: a voluntary transaction won’t happen if what’s being exchanged have equal value. Only if what you’re receiving has more value than what you’re giving will you trade. Saying it is of equal value implies that it would be exactly the same to you to have one thing or the other, which means there’s no necessity for trade.

    I’m new to this, but I see LOTS of opportunities to giving real value on the internet. The techniques can be learnt quickly; what you’ve written here cannot. So you have a great advantage on this market.

    All the best

  4. great critical analysation i think that the option to find other areas to work are better like you have defined in online and offline online is something creative work average mind sometime get harder to do that

  5. Very nice post. Great job

  6. Excellent post. Thanks for it!

  7. Hi Alain,

    That’s a really great breakdown of those three types of people. I think that it would be beneficial for anyone in the IM space to take a step back and do some self examination to see which one of the three they truly are.

    The trader is the one that we should all want to be. Giving value should always be of the utmost importance and if we put other people first in this way then everything else should follow along much more easily.

    Thanks for putting together this thought-provoking post. I hope you’re keeping well and that things are going okay for you.

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  8. Learnt the lesson of trust with this post this was so helpful for me at least you i was boredom and just clicked on this site got something very interesting.

  9. Hi Alain

    This is a very interesting post and written from a well thought out perspective. It’s kinda obviously what your saying, but still so many online businesses slip into the ‘beggar’ position and just forget about the customers needs.

    The notion of ‘becoming rich’ over night online is still a plastic reality for many, so providing value comes last.

    The effort and longevity to build a good online reputation is what most people can’t handle, so they stay begging.

    And as for the ‘thieves’, they just ruin it for the rest of us!

    I stay within the ‘Trader’ mind set by not thinking about the money and try to only concentrate of customer satisfaction. I believe when you focus on the customers needs the money comes always comes afterwards.

    Thanks for a good read
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  10. Thanks for adding together this thought-provoking article. I hope you are maintaining well and that factors are going alright for you. Thanks to admin.
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  11. Great inspiring and funny article. In all the years I’ve blogging, I’ve met all three types of money making people. And I really hate beggars!!!
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  12. Really an awesome article. I enjoyed reading it. Using thief, beggars and traders as an example for making money online was a great idea. Thanks for sharing them here.
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  13. In this 3, I am the Trader. I am a win-win type of guy. I get something and give back something of equal value. This way we all end up with a satisfied feeling. I like your post by the way. Its really interesting to read.
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  14. Every blog post should having good content and that content should briefly describing the title of that blog thanks for sharing.
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  15. Thanks for sharing this nice info expect some more in near future.

  16. Truly said that only Thiefs and Beggars are making money online.Now original content and idea has no value because it gets stolen and used by others.Others doing blackhat to earn good amount of money and here we are not making a single buck with complete WhiteHat Seo technics.
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  17. Keep up the excellent work , I read few articles on this site and I think that your web blog is real interesting and Power to the People of excellent information.
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  18. I begun to think which of these three person I am as business owner while reading your article. I strongly believe that as business owner, you should have clear vision in setting your business. It should be giving the people what they are looking (it could be goods or services) in exchange for money. In that case, you are categorize as trader.

  19. It is the truth, beggars are making more money online than those who are working.
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  20. Absolutely correct nowadays everyone is just stealing money from the internet which is making Online marketplace overcrowded and hard for newbies to survive in the digital world.
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  21. Not only thief and beggars as well as there are rogues available also who cheat the people via e commerce sites.
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  22. I’m neither a thief nor a beggar, that’s for sure.
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  23. I liked the positions that you have given to various type of users here.According to me most of the newbies and unexperienced ones fall into the category of Beggars and they are always taken over by the thieves and have to work under them and thieves are also those who use short time planning for better revenues.
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  24. nice post
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  25. how can we make money online ? Is it Possible to that so…. ?
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  26. Truly said that only Thiefs and Beggars are making money online.Now original content and idea has no value because it gets stolen and used by others. i have no idea what to do.
    nice post.
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  28. That was a very good description of various kinds of people which can be seen online today.Nice work dude.
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  31. Indeed a great article thanks for sharing this concept on how different kinds of people making money online.

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  33. Haha, Good categorization. I like to be a Trader
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  34. Hi Alian,
    This post is something different, I have rarely seen this kind of post. Amazing effort.
    Thanks for sharing.

  35. Hi ,

    your article is good. keep up the good work. Thanks

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  39. Very funny actually.

  40. It was nice reading. really it is helpful.

  41. Thanks for the info, may become pious charity for you.

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  43. Interesting article. I agree with you, most times people consider online marketer as people that want nothing but their money even when they may be offering something that is of value to them.

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  44. People are seriously making money through online marketing even more than working daily. The online marketing is totally flooded making it difficult for beginners to go well. Thank you for sharing such a informative article.

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  49. HI
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  50. Great post. Initially, we all were a beggar. We don’t know how trades work. How to Deliver value to visitors. Forget value, we even don’t have any idea what to do? But gradually, we got to understand that, this is not how things works. You have to give something in order to get something.
    Thank you for an amazing post.
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  52. An interesting discussion is worth comment. I think that you should write more on this topic, it might not be a taboo subject but generally people are not enough to speak on such topics. To the next. Cheers

  53. Digital Marketing will always remain the most powerful and result-oriented technique of marketing in future – “Digital Marketers are expected to take full control of the customer experience in the coming years” I am also passionate digital marketer now days we are working for Indian client a Digital Marketing Company in Udaipur I really love to read your blog as well as the examples that you’ve mention. Thank you so much for these helpful contents

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  58. Excellent article.Most of the people are going for scams instead of making money in a genuine way, and also need to more information

  59. Very cool article, reminds me of tarot cards for some reason lol. I believe I sit within the realm of beggar and trader.

    I am at a spot where I’d like to get money if I could offer little or some quality. Then I am torned between the trader because I eventually want to provide value by taking my time and writing quality content.

    Like most bloggers, it takes a lot of time, persistence, and hard work with no validation or short payoffs to keep you going.

    Good article, I will be bookmarking this page as reminder of where i want to be.

  60. this is one of the best articles I’ve read regarding Internet Marketing. love your point of view here. looking forward for further articles like this. great job!

  61. awesome thanks a lot
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  66. this is one of the best articles I’ve read regarding Internet Marketing. love your point of view here. looking forward for further articles like this. great job!

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