By 2004, I was running three websites. My personal homepage, a Pakistani music blog and a web forum. All on the free domains with .TK extension provided by the government of Tokelau an island in the south pacific with a population of 1500 people. The goal of the government of Tokelau was to create awareness about their country in the world in order to raise money to fund education, medical & development of the 1500 residents of the island.
Around the same time, I learnt about the commercial aspect of the internet. While I wasn’t eligible to sign up on the mainstream programs like Adsense for not having a .com domain extension, I quickly found an alternative program called MarketBanker, later rebranded as AdBrite. After serving ads for 10 months, MarketBanker sent me the first pay-check. My mother found it lying around in the lawn outside our house. It took 8 weeks to arrive, 6 weeks to cash and 20% of the money was lost to bank fees and commissions.
Although the check was only for $22.08 and it took 10 months in order to make this money, I was very excited as I realized this was going to be much bigger than just a pastime hobby.