Growing up, many of us are raised to study hard, do well in school, and try to land that perfect job that will sustain us for the rest of our lives. While most of the population still adheres to this philosophy, a growing number of people are trying their hand at making money online. People are drawn to all the wonderful advantages that working from home can bring. You can be freed from your bosses, work at your own chosen schedule, and stay home to take care of the kids. Making money online sounds pretty great.

Naturally, things aren’t quite so simple. Making a career out of an online business is really not that different than trying to establish a brick-and-mortar business. The startup costs may lower and, as such, the barrier to entry is a lot easier to overcome, but that does not mean that you’ll be an overnight success. It’s taken me quite some time to achieve what I have as a freelance writer and I continue to work hard to try and do even better.

Maybe you’re not that great of a writer. That’s fine. One of the great things about online entrepreneurship is that there are several different avenues that you can explore. Unfortunately, so many people dive into these online businesses with unrealistic expectations of instant riches. There are some success stories that may lead you in that direction, but they are certainly the exception and not the rule. It certainly does not help that the “make money online” niche is constantly bombarded with promises of financial freedom and infinite riches.

Take this eBay business course as an example. They tell you that you can become an eBay Power Seller quickly and easily, raking in plenty of dough by selling all sorts of things on everyone’s favorite auction site. That may be true, but it won’t be easy and it’s unlikely that you’ll be buying that Lamborghini any time soon.

It gets even more cryptic when you consider programs that don’t even tell you how you’re going to make money. I found this free course on how you can make money with Google, but it doesn’t really say what you’ll be doing or how you’ll be earning any kind of income. I guess there’s little harm in giving these things a shot — the program itself is free; you just have to pay for shipping — but is there really anything to gain?

There is no such thing as easy money (unless you count winning the lottery). When considering some of these “free” online courses on how to make money online, don’t be afraid to take a chance, but don’t go in with rose-tinted glasses.