There’s a scene in the movie Amazing Grace where William Wilberforce, elected to the House of Commons at the age of 21 is on his way to a successful political career when William Pitt ( England’s youngest ever Prime Minister at the age of 24) encourages his friend Wilberforce to, against all odds, fight to outlaw slavery in England.
Pitt tells Wilberforce, “We’re too young to realize certain things are impossible. So we’ll do them anyway.”
The movie is based on the true life story of William Wilberforce who did take on the English establishment and persuaded those in power to end the inhumane trade of slavery. He was too young to believe those who said this was impossible.
We see many examples of this today in youth. With adolescence often comes a feeling of invincibility and risk-taking behaviors. While some of these behaviors are dangerous, there’s a flip side to this.
The enthusiasm and unquestioning belief that one can do something, no matter what others say, is an attitude that launches many a young person to great levels of success, from record breaking athletics to highly successful entrepreneurship.
Have you noticed on some of the popular marketing forums that for every enthusiastic newcomer to Internet marketing, there is a handful of naysayers offering reality checks?
“Don’t plan on quitting your day job anytime soon. It’s impossible to make an honest living on the Internet these days. There’s too much competition. You’re going to need a lot of money if you want to make a lot of money.” And the clincher, “Making a decent living online is much, much harder than you think – just read the threads on our forum, you’ll see.”
And yet, the kids don’t see…
Children and teens are making good money online – and they’re starting from scratch – no budget except their allowance. Are they spending precious time reading “reality check” advice? Heck no. They’re too busy being creative and having fun.
It is estimated that about 1.6 million teens are making at least some money online. About half of these kids are writing content for their sites, adding affiliate links and collecting commissions. Many children under the age of 13 are also making good money online.
Lissa Daniels, at age 11, built a website by teaching herself html. When she wanted a certain shade of blue text, she’d find it on another site that used it, and then view the code in View > Source. As she built her site, snippet by snippet of code, she created a tutorial, at first for her own reference, and then to help others. Lissa’s site quickly grew in popularity. By the time she was 12, she needed money for more bandwidth. She didn’t think her parents would cover it, so she took the initiative to find an advertiser. Due to her age, several turned her down. Lissa persisted, found one, and was able to pay for the bandwidth to support 500,000 hits a month. By age 17, her site had five million unique visitors each month, and the ad revenues paid for a new car and a nice nest egg for college.
Then there’s Ashley Qualls who, having taught herself html and Web design, created a site at age 15 (in 2005), WhateverLife.com offering free layout design to other teen girls for their MySpace pages. Ashley bartered design services for web hosting. When her traffic exploded to the point that she needed a dedicated server, a much more costly investment than she could barter or pay for with babysitting money, her hosting company recommended Google Adsense. At age 17 Ashley’s AdSense checks were over $70,000 a month and she bought a house. She accomplished all this without any upfront money or even encouragement from her family other than to “Get off that computer!” Ashley simply loved designing websites and found a way to make that possible.
Matthew Bischoff, at MatthewBischoff.com, was one of the first ten people and the first teen to adopt a then new Web technology – Podcasting. He was 13. Matthew launched his own homegrown radio show “This is Escape from the World,” from his New Jersey bedroom where he talks about the newest and coolest technologies. Prior to the Podcast, Matthew blogged about technology.
At his show’s peak he had over 7,000 weekly listeners from over 30 countries. He’s listed on iPodder.org as a “Podcast Pioneer” and has been interviewed by the L.A. Times and other newspapers for his contributions to podcasting.
At the age of 12, Tom Hadfield started an Internet company from his bedroom in Brighton, England that he called Soccernet.com. A few years later, ESPN bought it for $40 million. “No one ever knew I was a kid online… All I needed to do was spell properly…” Tom told Boston.com
Hadfield has since started several new businesses, managed a global environmental education program, started an initiative to raise awareness of the genocide in Darfur, and headed up a philanthropic project in Zambia.
“A lot of people would have said that it was naive when I was 12 to set up an Internet website like Soccernet.com – but luckily I didn’t listen.” And that is the key for all the adults who are reading this – don’t listen.
Don’t listen to the naysayers; don’t listen to your self-doubts; don’t listen to those who tell you to get a “real job.” Instead, take a cue from the kids and buoy up your confidence because, as another risk taker, Henry Ford, once said, “Whether you believe you can do a thing or not, you are right.”