If there is anything you pull from this post, it’s this: No matter how far you fall, there will always be an up.
Getting Too Comfortable
There is no room for comfortable people in the world of online business. There will always be a new, faster, more intelligent individual ready to take your place. You’re either forced to evolve or die with everyone else.
The largest mistake I’ve made is getting too comfortable with my work and websites. At its peak, one of my main websites earned a cool $1.5k between Amazon Associates, Clickbank, and Adsense. Once Google Penguin hit, things went into a free fall.
The culprit to my failure was feeling “okay” about not pushing out fresh content and building links. I relied too heavily on the big, popular posts to keep my traffic up. Likewise, the links I’ve built over the years were becoming less and less valuable in the eyes of Google but I didn’t feel the need to invest time toward new link building techniques.
What hit hardest was my involvement with Murlu. I felt so passionate when I first launched this blog but found myself troubled and burnt out. I couldn’t pull myself to push out new content, work with other blog owners, or get the big projects done. Now, Murlu is sitting at a shell of its former self because I’ve been so disinterested in the topics and community.
The Reality: I love the work I’ve put into my websites and the people that have become part of the community. I owe it to everyone for where I’m at today. The trouble comes from my own insecurity with my work (never feeling that it’s good enough).
The Takeaway: Keep going. You will have a time when everything comes into place but that doesn’t mean you stop to relax because that’s when your momentum turns backward. You need to create a schedule and strategy that will keep you moving forward without overexerting yourself to the point of burn out. Take mini-vacations and come back refreshed. Always learn something new. Grind.
Becoming Discouraged from Others Success
Seeing some 16 year old developer making a million dollar game or some senior citizen strike it rich with a basic idea will always be somewhat discouraging because you’re unfairly comparing yourself.
I hit a point where I felt as if my work meant nothing. I was stagnant with my earnings (comfortable) but didn’t see myself reaching a higher level because I gave myself the excuse that “these people already gobbled up the market”. But then, I see someone younger making major waves because they’re passionate about their projects.
You’ll read success stories and plant yourself in their shoes. For some, however, you’ll be discouraged by projecting yourself because you’ll take a look around at what you’ve accomplished and tell yourself it’s nothing. You use the success of others to justify not working toward the bigger goals.
For me, it was two sides of the coin. On one hand, I had been publishing income reports as a way to encourage people about what’s possible through online business. On the other, I would read reports from my peers and people I looked up to but it just seemed to pull my mood down. I felt that my work would never reach their level even though I had built something truly spectacular – I wanted something more and that discouragement made me freeze up from taking action.
The Reality: I compared my success too much with those of others. Likewise, I allowed my success to be a douche when it came to working with certain individuals. The combination of comparing yourself to successful individuals and beginners set me in a funk where I didn’t care for getting better nor doing the small interactions that is the real key to success (working with passionate newcomers).
The Takeaway: Never mind the bollocks. Realize that you have balls to go after your passion. Things take time to show the real fruits of your labor. Look at those above you as a friendly challenge and source of inspiration while those at a similar starting point in your past to be the next up-and-comers, the people you want to reach because they’ll soon be on your level (or greater).
Listening too much to the Ego
In Thailand, the country is predominantly Buddhist and so I found myself with a lack of ego, I felt at peace with the world around me.
However, back into the U.S., I got cutthroat. A different mentality. I wanted it all to myself whether it’s my free time or the income I was earning. Unfortunately, these actions allowed my ego to inflate and I quickly forgot what I learned while traveling abroad.
The unfortunate side effect of an inflated ego is that you begin to place barriers. You’ll even set up walls around the ones you love. And, in business, you stop caring about the people that helped get you where you’re at today since you’re not on their perceived level. I felt this. I let it get to my head. I stopped helping those that needed it most.
Once I stopped caring about the little guy, I found myself losing opportunities. I gave up responding to people because I felt it a waste of time. I saw myself as a player in the market. At the same time, I was a small fry to those above me so I hit a middle ground where I wasn’t helping the important people and was just trying to please those that didn’t mind me. All of this hurt my passion and drive.
The Reality: I’ve settled. I let my ego deflate. I’m back down to square one. I drove away too many people just to get some work done and I’m paying the consequences for it. I’ve been withdrawn from the people that matter just to get a pat on the back. Not anymore. In a lot of ways, this mistake has given me a second chance to be a good individual and now that I know the consequences, I won’t be making the same mistake again.
The Takeaway: Never allow your success get the best of you. At the end of the day, what matters most is your family and friends. Sure, you can buy more stuff but you can’t rebuild a friendship that you destroyed. Throughout all of your work, always make sure that you’re taking care of your mental well-being and that you remain humble.
Expecting Things to Fall in Place
There was a time when I thought I rolled over the bell curve of success and everything was just going to fall into place. I felt my momentum was strong enough to carry itself but … I was dead wrong.
I got too cocky when it came to landing freelance clients since many reached out to me. I denied work for those that needed it most because I was snotty about how much I’d make. I thought Murlu was just going to take care of itself because I “had done enough” to get traction; the same would have been said about my other projects.
Unfortunately, it doesn’t work like that. Nothing is going to fall into place and if it feels that way than you’re not aware of the hard work you’ve done. The only time things “fall into place” is if you pony up and grind through the hard parts and when it does, it’s because you made it happen, not because of some luck of the draw.
I had pushed my work as hard as I could and told myself I deserved a break. I took too long. Things began to slip back but I couldn’t see/feel it. I thought I had built a brand strong enough to handle itself, that it would take me where I wanted from just done a few updates here and there. It doesn’t work like that, at all. The only reason why I got to where I am was from the relentless work I put in.
The Reality: Many of my business ventures and projects are performing at a fraction of what they were. I spent too much time away from the active duties. I stopped seeking new clients, writing new posts, and networking with passionate individuals. I now see that there isn’t a bell curve but a constant, uphill battle. It doesn’t matter how far along you are – it’ll always mean more work on your behalf.
The Takeaway: Never stop aspiring for greatness. Don’t allow a string of success be a sign that you’re doing it right because it could have been a fluke. Set your goals, reach them, and set some more. Never stop becoming a better individual even if you feel you’re out of time because the reality is that you’re just making busy work. Do the big things that matter, constantly.
Delaying the Bigger Wins
On the note about momentum, my greatest mistake was not going after the bigger wins when I had the attention of the community.
I have been putting off the creation of a premium product for years now because I never felt that it was the right time, I was discouraged with what others had been releasing since they beat me to the punch, and that it wasn’t good enough.
The thing that makes you stand out is striking when the iron is hot. I should have created products a long time ago so I had a direction. I found myself lost, mindlessly creating new blog posts, commenting, and going off on tangents just because I didn’t have something bigger and better to promote. What I should have done is launched a product six months after the blog started and used every post to solidify my expertise and generate sales.
The Reality: I let everything get to my head. I now know that I’ll always have a nagging feeling that “it won’t be good enough” but I now tell myself that it truly is since I have years of experience under my wing and I have the ability to offer something unique. After four years, I’ve finally found a direction for Murlu and that’s quite scary to say (especially when talking business).
The Takeaway: Never feel as if you’re not good enough. Get something out there even if it sucks because you can always make something better. Additionally, you’ll learn a lot more about what you’re capable of and what to do next time if you have something that will give you feedback. It’s rare that a business starts with a highly successful product – so why should yours? Keep making mistakes just as long as you’re falling forward.
Why It’s Never Too Late
It’s never too late to get started with an online business.
I don’t intend any of this post to paint a negative outlook for your online projects – just to bring attention to some of the pitfalls you may experience along the way.
There are some of you that will hit the ground running. You’ll find your success in no time with the right attitude and passion.
Others will find it difficult to overcome the initial hurdle but once they’re beyond that point, it’s just a matter of keeping the momentum and not letting their work get to their heads.
Everything is a learning experience and even when you’re low, it just means you have all the opportunity to get back up.
I’ve learned a lot over the last few years about online business but more importantly: myself. I wouldn’t take any of it back. Despite my mistakes, it’s made me who I am today and for that, I’m thankful.
Now, get on out there and start something. Anything.