As a freelance writer and a work-from-homer, I tend to get pretty annoyed when people ask me, "How do you make money online? I want to do that!"
The owner of the barn where I used to board my horse was the epitome of the type of person who usually gets taken in by these myths. He had retired early, needed money badly, and was convinced that if he gave his email address (and sometimes, his credit card number) to enough people online, eventually he'd find a get-rich-quick opportunity that wasn't just a scam.
How many times have you heard the following questions or statements, either from people you know or those you meet in passing?
"I want to learn how to make money online! Can you help me?"
"How can I do that?"
"So that's what you do — you just write?" (Said as if you just told them you get paid for breathing)
(When you explain what you do) "I can do that! Is there a website you sign up with or something?"
What these people don't seem to get is that for every genuine freelance client, there are 101 scammers just waiting to take advantage of the poor unfortunate souls who can't tell the difference. My old barn owner was forever telling me that such-and-such company had taken money out of his account, or that his inbox was full of spam. In fact, at one point he had tried so had to find a way to make money online that he actually had to change all of his account numbers to prevent the numerous charges that kept hitting his account!
As any successful freelancer knows, writing is a business, and businesses require work. As Wesley says in The Princess Bride, "Anyone who says differently is selling something." Real business opportunities — whether for writing, graphic design, investment banking, or even selling pinatas — don't happen overnight, and usually don't make you rich (quickly or otherwise), either.
My problem is deciding what to tell people that ask these questions. In my experience they are usually somewhat inept, and don't really get it when you try to explain that it doesn't really work that way. What do you usually tell people when they ask you dumb questions like these?