Wishing upon a star: How the Internet is increasing the ability to make our dreams come true




By Eric Hebert.

Growing up in a rather lower-middle class household, it seemed obvious after graduating high school where I was headed. Go to college, get a good “job�? doing something mommy and daddy would be proud of, one that has nice benefits and such, and that’s about it. I wanted to produce and direct movies, but really, what were the chances of that happening? I knew right off the bat that after I got my film studies degree I’d probably jock some camera at the local ABC affiliate for a living, and that’s if I was lucky. My dream career seemed so out of reach.

Not soon after did I drop out of school. I figured, the only way I’m gonna do what I want is if I have the money to pay for it, and that means starting my own business. Sales jobs followed, one after another, as well as my interest in anything business. Get-rich-quick schemes developed (I’m talking about you Don Lupre!) as I ran into walls left and right. I even went as far as receiving phone calls from some guy in Africa who owned a large oil corporation and wanted to transfer the funds-well, you know the rest of THAT story. Needless to say, I laid in bed sleepless every night, wondering how I could channel my creative juices into something that the world could at least NOTICE. Then maybe I could build that momentum into a business, and someday make my movies. Where was I to turn?

It’s been three years since I went to that silly internet marketing seminar. Another get-rich-quick scheme it may have been, but something happened there, something magical: I realized the awesome power of the internet and how it was going to change the world: change business, change voices, governments, change us as people. “You mean I can advertise on Google and Yahoo for just a couple of dollars?�? That was the first big eye-opener. Up until that point, if you wanted to advertise, whether it was on TV, radio, or in magazines, you had to have some money. Usually a nice chunk of money. I knew that with targeted paid adverting on Yahoo or Google I could market a product or service for just a few bucks, even if for only a small period of time. It was liberating to know that even the little guys could compete right there with the big boys.

Along came search engine optimization. “You mean if I start a website about making movies, and produce enough content with researched keyword phrases that attracts links for other websites, that I can attract hundreds or thousands of viewers interested in reading my material?, with no significant cost�? It was like a minefield in my head, bombs bursting with thought as I realized the potential. I knew that, if you built a solid website about a specific topic that got enough people to it, then you could build a business around it. And if you built a business around it, then you could build a brand. And after enough money was made, you could finance the movie, and sell it with the brand name. Eureka.

As I dug deeper into internet marketing in early 2004, the industry was growing immensely, as did my ideas for how these technologies were opening the doors of opportunity for literally anybody who had an interest in anything. Affiliate marketing enables the fashion major to sell clothing, the rock band to showcase their favorite instruments, the budding director to sell his top 100 films. Optimization turned the heavy equipment operator making $25,000 a year into a heavy equipment journalist making twice that. The struggling artist who just wanted to get the word out all of a sudden became famous through the social net-o-sphere of My Space and Facebook. Mash-Ups, viral videos, blogging, open source, oh my! Every month a new technology made the world smaller and the opportunity to get a voice heard drew closer than ever before.

If there is one thing I’ve learned in five years of business research, it’s that you need one of two things to start a business: time or money. If you don’t have one, you have plenty of the other. Years ago one without any money one had little chance of starting a business and realizing their dreams. With the technologies available today, we have the ability to showcase our talents to the world and discuss our passions with anybody who’s interested. We no longer need large sums of money to get the ball rolling, because we all have plenty of time to spend preaching our gospel. Once the world understands the opportunities the internet has placed in front of them, many things will change, and many will walk down a path that they may have never thought existed, a path to a dream that may finally come true.