It was way back in 2008 when I wrote about My Dot Com Lifestyle in Japan. In which I egotistically described how I’d quit my teaching job and was living off internet earnings while sitting on my ass.
So how did that turn out?
Not quite as well as it started. You see, I had seven websites in the childhood education niche – the ones making money, yet I spent all my time working on passion projects (namely JapanSoc, Hotaru CMS, and KA50K) which weren’t earning me anything. Within a year, the Adsense income had peaked and started a very, very slow decline that still continues today. My earnings are currently less than a tenth of what they once were.
As the money dwindled, I started teaching a few English classes, and before I knew it I was back on a full-time schedule, running an English school out of my house.
Where did I go wrong?
Certainly I had found a profitable niche, but I can’t say I was ever really passionate about it. I mean, I was making hundreds of math worksheets for goodness sake…. yawn! Anyway, I let the websites stagnate and now they still look much like they did in the 2000s.
Other factors such as increased competition, Google rank changes, the dramatic shift to mobile, and homeschool moms realizing they were actually clicking ads. They all contributed in one way or another.
Rubbing salt in the wound
What worries me now is that my current source of income – English teaching – is also taking a hit. In that market, too, there’s increased competition from cram schools, online companies like Cambly and DMM Eikaiwa, YouTube teachers and smartphone apps. The coronavirus pandemic has accelerated the shift from in-person lessons to online, and little schools like mine are the ones that suffer most. The safest lessons are the kindergarten ones, but I no longer teach those since I’m not as young and energetic as I once was.
Going full circle
Since I can’t rely on my teaching income to last, I’m looking to earn money online again.
I’ve started working on yet another childhood education website, but one for the modern era. Not wanting to make the same mistakes of the past, this new one will:
- Be on a topic I’m actually interested in: Japan’s “Eiken” English test
- Be unique in that I haven’t found another site quite like it
- Be my sole focus, and one I will add new content to on a regular basis
- Work just as well on mobile as it does on a desktop PC
- Have a companion YouTube channel and other social media channels
- Include other forms of monetization, not just Google ads
- Grow over a 10-year plan that I’ve put together
I’m quite hopeful that I can make this work, but I won’t be bragging about it this time. :pIf you like, you can find me on Twitter at @nick_ramsay. I'd love to hear from you!