Self-Inflicted Wounds (Secret Confessions from the Past 12 Months and Why I Sleep at Airports from Time to Time)
Hey, it’s me :)
It’s been awhile and I’ve been busy. But maybe this will explain what’s been going on.
I’ve been living a secret life.
Or at least it feels that way.
Sometime around 2011, things started to get really tough… Like, stay up at night tossing and turning because you’re broke and you need to think up ways to make some money tough.
It was the Panda updates.
You probably know what I’m talking about.
Over the course of 2011, the traffic on my little niche sites went from about 700 per day, to about 100 per day on each site.
And my earnings decreased by about 75% too.
You’d probably be screwed if your business lost 75% of it’s revenue too, wouldn’t you?
Plus, Mark Ling, one of the few people I really trust, was off the radar. After the AffiloJetpack launch in 2010, he essentially was busy being a dad and repairing his company from all the earthquakes in New Zealand (and apparently winning some affiliate contests that I’ve been keeping an eye on).
I had heard rumors of things in the works, but they never seemed to turn out as more than just whispers and speculation in the dark corners of the Affilorama forum.
My “Guru” Had Vanished…
With no direction, I was left with a very important choice to make.
I could either learn more about SEO. Fix my sites up and get them to rank again. Then just pray that there wasn’t another silly algorithm update being planned in Mountain View, California (maybe named “Platypus Update” this time…).
Or I could just admit that SEO was too much of a risky game to play by putting all my effort into it. I could change course and focus on different forms of traffic.
I chose the second option.
They say that if you’re on the wrong train, every stop is the wrong stop.
I needed to switch trains.
This wasn’t an easy choice.
After all, letting go of something you know so much about can be difficult. Sometimes we get so caught up in the fallacy of previous investment and we just don’t want to back out.
But then again, I left the design field despite having a masters degree in architecture simply because in 2009 no architecture firms were hiring at all (in fact, they were laying off half of their employees).
It’s good to know when you’re on a sinking ship…
Still, even today I get questions on a regular basis from people who are like “What are the best places to get spammy, low-quality links? Should I use ScrapeBox or hire some guy in Quezon City to build profile links for me? He says he’ll work full-time for only $200 per month, but I think I can talk him down to $150. That’s good right?”
Now, maybe I’m paraphrasing, but I’m not really exaggerating much.
(I also get lots of emails from people asking me how much money I make… I know they’re mostly people who remember my income reports, but I still find it a little funny that people ask me this despite the fact it would be rude in most other circumstances…)
But anyway, the choice to let go of SEO was tough.
So, I joined Clay Collins’ Marketing Program so I could actually learn marketing.
The timing was actually perfect. What is it they say? “When the student is ready, the teacher will appear…”
I just didn’t know the teacher would end up having the same name as me…
Leaving SEO behind meant I needed to actually have a product to sell. Not just send people to a $39 ebook that some guy wrote in a drunken fit over the weekend and collect affiliate commissions.
I made an ebook of my own. It was, what I consider, great information.
It did okay. Not great.
Because I needed to make it both completely unique and useful not just for customers, but also for affiliates who would be promoting it.
After all, if you’re an affiliate, why would you care which ebook you promoted, just so long as it converted well?
I had to stick out, not just to customers, but also potential partners.
So, I redesigned the entire ebook and turned it into an online course, but more on that in a moment…
At the same time, I made a shift from primarily SEO traffic to social traffic.
I met a few people in 2011 who where masters of the social media world. They were coasting along fine without even noticing the shockwaves of Panda.
Maybe I could put together a blog. Kind of like this one, but… you know… actually trying to do something with it.
So, I Started to Really Become a Blogger.
I wrote posts. I tweeted. I guest posted. I did all that.
It was a lot of fun, but it was also incredibly difficult to get off the ground.
After all, it’s easy to start a blog, but it’s so f–king hard to get a blog the attention that you really want.
Now, I’m not saying I’m a famous blogger that pretty much everyone knows like Leo Babauta, Jonathan Mead, or Sid Savara… but I’d say I probably have a lot more traffic than your average newbie blogger.
Anyway, I was doing all of this all while the army of half-asleep, half-drunk Google Quality Raters kept Panda-slapping my old websites, dinging my traffic and cratering my income. All so they could rank ehow pages and other content farms above me. Thanks, big G. Glad to know you’ve got quality as your top priority.
That time was tough. I sold my car for $7500, which I used to keep us afloat for a few months. I cleaned out my IRA too.
Things Kept Getting Worse Though.
In November, I had to do the most painful thing possible.
I let my girlfriend go back to working a job that she hated.
I cried the day that she started her job.
Autumn and winter were extremely difficult. I lived off Top Ramen (cliche, I know…) and those Baja Cafe frozen burritos. We got $200 per month in food stamps. And I tried to donate plasma too (but they said my veins were “too small,” whatever that means…).
Suddenly I was working 16+ hour days, 7 days a week.
I had to pick up the work that my girlfriend used to do. Plus, I had to pick up the slack for some SEO work that I outsourced to some guy back in June (he said it would take him 3 months–in reality, it took him 9 months–I just got the final batch of work about a week ago–but in the end, I had to do most of the work myself since my clients didn’t want to wait 9 months for him to actually do what he promised and I blew all of my budget on this guy… If I did SEO for you, by the way, I’m deeply sorry for how screwed up that whole thing was).
I found ways to claw and fight my way to some of Clay Collins’ mastermind events for the Marketing Program. I felt completely intimidated being in a room full of 10 other people who were running 6- or 7-figure businesses (all while I was walking into town from the airport to save money on taxi fare, staying at the closest one-star motel or sleeping at the airport, and living off vending machine food).
God, I was so out of my element. Sometimes, I just wanted to curl up in the corner or run away. I felt like I just didn’t belong there. After all, I only made like $1000 or $2000 per month. What right did I have to sit at a table with all those successful and talented people?
Total BS thinking, I know, but still… it’s what I felt.
But despite all that uneasiness, I kept coming, like some kind of dumb-ass who can’t take a hint and won’t go away, and, through some stroke of luck, I started to put the pieces together in my mind. Clay Collins’ Marketing Program mastermind really exposed me to the mindset and processes that you really need to be a f*cking baller.
In February and March, I made an online course, which took up all of my time. And I literally mean ALL of my time. I had to write about 10,000 words per week, make slideshow presentations, record audio, edit audio, and synch the audio and the video. (Hence… no activity here for about the past two months…)
There was no time for actually marketing. This gave me a very deep sense of anxiety.
One thing that I love doing more than anything is marketing. I love writing copy. I love split testing. I love scheming up new plans.
And I start to feel weird when I can’t do that.
But, I’ve finally come out the other end, and I’m a heartbeat away from finishing up my new product. From April onward, I’m just going to sell the living hell out of it.
Sure, I’ve pretty much been depressed non-stop since 2009–and especially over the past six months or so. It’s caused me to recoil and keep to myself more than i probably should. I haven’t been great at keeping in touch with people, and I feel guilty about that.
But no one ever promised that this ride would be easy.
So, the past year has been a massive, immense struggle. Dealing with one setback after another. Watching my life constantly get smaller and smaller.
If I knew how, I might well have actually quit marketing…
I just didn’t really know what that meant. I mean, with the economy in the tank (despite the “recovery”), it’s not like there are any real alternatives.
Plus, I constantly held on to those silly little things called dreams.
Was it necessary to go through all this struggling?
But everything I did, seemed like the absolute best decision at the time.
And it makes for a decent story, right?
And now, I’m positioned in a much better place.
Clay Collins often talks about “The Rule of 5 Ones.”
- 1 Traffic source
- 1 Conversion method
- 1 Product you’d go to bat for
- 1 Year to master those 3 things, and…
- 1 More year till you reach the 7-figure mark
I’ve (nearly) got my product (which is priced well-enough to actually afford me some room to advertise).
I’ve got a basic conversion method planned that I’m going to be constantly tweaking.
I’ve got a good traffic source in mind.
And I’ve got plenty of time on my hands.
So, $1 million, here I come!
I’ve been putting in huge amounts of time working in the past. I’m so stoked to finally devote that much time to marketing.
After all, I’m still 100% committed to making 2012, the year of the baller.
I’ve Been Around Long Enough, Though, to Know That the Revolution Will Be a Quiet One.
Small incremental improvements are more likely than some kind of huge heroic win that changes everything overnight.
But I’m ready to say “fuck you, poverty!”
How are you doing these days :)
PS: I’m not really sure if this a review for Clay Collins’ stuff or not… (if it is, this is probably the weirdest review I’ve ever written). But if for some reason, you want to join the Marketing Program or the Interactive Offer, the links on this post are affiliate links :)
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