When I started blogging 5 years ago, I had little knowledge of the industry and no clue where my journey would take me. I was at a point in my life that forced me to seek better alternatives; staying complacent was just no longer an option. So, I did what a lot of people do nowadays and dipped my toe into the realm of internet marketing and blogging.
Lesson #1: Fail, Fail, and Fail Again
If you haven’t heard it before, you will now. At the wake of my blogging career, I remember listening to Zig Ziglar, a motivational speaker from Plano, who was preaching that in order to succeed you will have to be prepared to fail – over and over again. I didn’t know it at the time but that valuable lesson soon came to resonate through the next 5 years of my life.
My first blog was an utter failure. It generated less than 500 visitors in 6 months. However, I did not stop. But I did not keep pursuing the failing idea either. Instead, I spend endless hours online searching for the next venture to dedicate my time and talent to. After all, I was young and full of ideas and time. Within a few months, I learned that Amazon is a huge powerhouse and has a whole economy revolving around it – not just the stuff you buy on Amazon. I took a few months to learn the ins and outs of everything a seller had to do to get ranked above their competition on Amazon. I didn’t know it at the time but this was the beginning of my success story.
Lesson #2: You don’t need money to hit it big
A couple of months later, I launched VagnerPrestige.com – a website offering marketing services for sellers on Amazon. With a whopping $50 investment, I was able to buy a domain and setup a proper Shopify site.
Without a penny in my marketing budget, I knew I had to get creative. So, I took the route most people take when they don’t have a large marketing budget: I wrote. And I wrote. And I wrote.
Seriously, I put out so much content that I was getting sick of writing.
I would write at least one article a day, spending at least 3-4 hours per article. I would do my own keyword research to find the best topics to write about. Then I would perform research on the topic to ensure that the content I was writing could not be found anywhere else. And finally, I would sit down to actually write the content.
Nevertheless, my work paid off. Within 6 months of launching, my website was outranking my biggest competitor on our biggest money-making keyword. I am talking about first place in Google on a highly converting keyword. You would not believe the look of excitement on my face when I first saw the Google Webmaster dashboard. But my happiness and success did not last long.
Lesson #3: Don’t Ever Get Complacent
The first chance I had, I quit my day job to focus full time on Vagner Prestige. Within 6 months of leaving my job, and almost a full year after launch, the website was pulling in a little short of $9k in sales a month. I was on top of the world. Well, I was on top in Google…but it felt like I had just conquered the world.
My clients kept asking me for more and more of my time. With only so much time in my day, I decided to hire an assistant (my first employee!) who was a very good friend of mine. I handed him a large portion of my clients and taught him everything he needed to know to keep them happy and buying from me. With double the brain power, we were able to take in more clients and process their requests faster – which translated to more money for us. Everything was going great for the next couple of months - until it wasn’t.
Then came Easter weekend 2015 and that’s when everything started to go downhill.
It all started the Friday before Easter. My friend and I were both working more than 50 hours a week trying to keep up with all the clients we had acquired. That was when he told me – completely out of the blue – that he will be traveling to Arkansas for the Easter weekend and would not be returning to work with me.
I was shocked, to say the least.
We were going into a holiday weekend with more than 100 hours of work in front us – and a boatload of cash - and he was telling me that he was quitting. I kept asking myself: How could this happen? Why couldn’t he warn me in advance?
But there was just nothing I could do.
I decided to persist and continue with the business as if nothing had happened. However, things did not pan out as planned from there. With so many projects being juggled at once, my clients instantly realized something had happened. It was no longer the well-lubed machine it was before. I started to miss deadlines because I was just too overwhelmed with the work. Eventually, that led me to lose clients. I’m not talking about losing a $100 sale, I am talking about major clients who would spend $2-3k a month on my website.
To make matters worse, since all my time was spent on trying to keep my clients happy (or just keep them period) I was no longer churning out content like I used to and my rankings in Google eventually started to slip.
Lesson #4: If You’re about to Get Hit, Don’t Stand Still like a Deer in Headlights
With my website sinking further and further in Google and no more new clients coming in, I decided that I wasn’t just going to stand there and watch my project die. I had to do something about it. After one particularly long night, I decided to marry my two obsessions: blogging and marketing.
Without many breaks, I spent the next three weeks building two websites that I believed would rescue me from the sinking ship that was Vagner Prestige and take me to the next level. The reason I went for two websites is because of lesson #1 of this article: fail, fail, and fail again. I knew that if one of them failed, I wouldn’t have much heart or inspiration to start on yet another “failing” project. With two projects built at the same time, I could promote both in the beginning and then pick whichever one performs best and run with that one.
The end result was Silent SEO Ninja and Article Blizzard. The former is now a relic on the Internet - I have not taken the site down to remind myself of how close failure can be. The latter, however, is the website you are most likely reading this article on.
Lesson #5: Don’t Ever Lose a Contact
I lend a lot of the success that I have experienced while working on Article Blizzard to the clients that came with me from Vagner Prestige. In fact, when I first launched Article Blizzard, I did not spend a penny on marketing for the first year. All I did was invite all my old clients to try my new service at a heavily discounted price. Some of the clients stayed around, some left. The important thing was that it was enough to give my business an instant head start.
Even though my clients from Vagner Prestige had Amazon businesses that might not always need the services of a content writing provider, I found ways to entice those businesses by offering them catered solutions that fit right into their marketing objectives. The most important takeaway from this is that I did not just throw away those contacts because “the two websites had nothing to do with each other.” Instead, I found a way to leverage the people I knew into creating more opportunities for me.
What lessons have you learned from blogging? Have you also been trying to juggle content creation and marketing by yourself? Let’s talk about it in the comments.