How I Struggled To Build This Blog (and how you can avoid the same pitfalls)

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We all have some type of vision for our lives that’s a little different than the one we currently lead, would you agree?

For some of us, that’s quitting our day jobs that we hate, starting a successful blog, maybe getting in shape publicly while building a following/full time income, and even just financial freedom to travel or be less stressed.

It might be a little bit different for you, but if you’ve ever wanted to become a successful blogger, or at least make extra money running a hobby blog, I’m sure you will relate to some of my experiences below.

The Struggle To Build A Blog Doesn’t Always Stem From Lack Of Experience

Building this blog has been, quite possibly, one of the most frustrating things I’ve ever done.

But not for the reasons you’d most likely think!

Most people say it’s lack of experience, lack of skills, or just not being “tech savvy” in general. As someone who grew up working with my hands, with zero computer background whatsoever, and got started by taking a free HTML class at the library, I beg to differ.

Believe me when I say:

” if I can do it, you can do it.” – School Of Digging Ditches For A Living

You see, building business websites, setting up blogs, and almost all things web related is pretty much second nature to me now. I’ve had almost a decade of experience, and at one time have managed a portfolio of over 2k sites for myself and clients combined. I’ve even made exceptionally good money some years, whether from sales via my other company, or from churn and burn affiliate sites in the past.

Surprisingly, I was able to do all of that without having to get out of my comfort zones like I’m confronted with now. Things like, building a blog around my lifestyle, putting my face on everything I do, and even going on camera to discuss issues that could turn out to be embarrassing if I do a bad job at it.

I think most of this stems from getting into the online services business early on, and building things for other people instead of myself. I’ve never really built a blog/personal website/”insert whatever you call it here” of my own, despite branding a lead gen and web services company and selling local internet marketing services face to face for several years.

Mental Hurdles And Being Afraid To Start A Blog Of Your Own

When I was first getting started, my biggest mental hurdles were fear of what people might think, failing miserably, worrying if I could develop a lifestyle blog covering topics spanning multiple interests/solutions to problems in my own life, and the big one… Would I be able to maintain my current client base, personal relationships, and business/personal lifestyle overall? How would it all work?

How would clients, friends, and family react if I started publicly talking about money, doing website or business marketing tutorials, and health topics? Once they found my blog posts and videos, how would that change things?

Or am I just being a little bitch?

Are these just excuses that stop me from doing the work to build the vision I have?

Those were several of the initial thoughts I had when brainstorming USP’s for my blog, and before I settled on a definitive concept that was congruent with where I was in life at the time. Only time will ultimately reveal the truth to some of these questions, but I can tell you, focusing on these mental barriers only breeds more of the same.

Energy flows, where attention goes.

In hindsight, “picking something and just getting started is the number one thing. You’ll figure out the details as you go along” is what I would’ve said to a younger version of myself.

Analysis Paralysis When Starting A Blog Or New Venture

A lot of the points above are a results of over analyzing something instead of just going with your gut. The best way to start a blog you believe has a good chance of becoming successful, is to throw together a half decent concept of a problem/solution you’ve experienced in your life, and get it to market. The market will let you know in one way or another if you’re on the right track, you just have to overcome that initial hurdle of the lack of feedback.

And don’t even get me started on perfectionism.

Perfectionism. The Death Of A Beginner Blogger Starting His Or Her First Blog

You won’t believe it, but I didn’t start out the way you probably think I did with this blog. Endlessly working on refining things instead of “shipping it” is probably the number one thing that held me back for over 7 months. Not that this blog is a major success right now, but the amount of time I sat on my ass “making everything perfect” is astounding.

Oh yes! If you look at when I registered this domain name, or even when I incorporated in the State Of Florida, it wasn’t until 7 months later that I actually took the damn blog out of maintenance mode! (for the love of god don’t do this… Open it up and let your domain marinate for a bit if you’re doing something similar!!!)

My thoughts were always working away at the vision, but I’ll be damned if that translated into anything tangible out in the open. This is both a frustrating experience, and one of the best lessons in life.

You can think up a grand vision all you want, but if you don’t start laying that first brick, you’re never going to have a wall. (will smith video)

You see, I wanted everything to be perfect before I “released my ideas to the public” per-say. This both fed my desire to be sheltered from scrutiny (comfort zone’ ish, but I’ll leave you with this question: is it real or imaged fear?), and kept me within my comfort zone.

It’s easy to put yourself out there for other companies and brands. Hell, I’ll pretty much do anything marketing wise to get good results for clients… I think anyone would do the same.

But to begin writing freely in the tone you often only speak in privately, and about whatever subject comes to mind? That there opens the door to unrelated topics, segregated readership, and even criticism for not following the “niche” norms in an acceptable way. (“You should hone in on a niche, not cover a wide variety of topics,” they said!)

To take perfectionism a bit further, I can’t tell you how many WordPress themes I’ve either built, installed on this blog, or customized because I lost count. And this is all before I had anything written at all! The amount of time I wasted on that alone is staggering, and it really doesn’t even matter that much in the grand scheme of things. (you can have an ugly looking blog with a good message and still do alright)

But it mattered to me.

I wanted the design to be perfect. I wanted all the content hubs to be populated. I wanted all my case studies to be complete, with awesome results to share. I wanted at least 30 badass tutorials completed, so there would be so much value when I unleashed this blog, I’d come out with a bang.

You know what really happened? Not a fucking thing.

I sat there and designed, thought up unique marketing hooks that would probably crush the best blogs out there if executed correctly, and came up with endless ideas to help people.  The amount of folders on my computer with half written blog posts in them is unimaginable.

You know how many people have been helped from those “glorious ideas” I spent hours and hours mentally masturbating to? None.

I created such overwhelm by splitting focus in so many directions, nothing came to fruition at all. The lack of laser focus, and the lack of making a realistic workable plan and actually sitting down each day to do the work, stopped me from gaining any kind of traction at all.

I’m sure you can relate… We’ve all had grandiose ideas before.

But daily, consistent action is the only thing that moves the needle. This brings me to my next struggle, and still to this day, it’s a challenge.

Disciplined Daily Action – The #1 Secret To Building A Successful Blog In Any Niche

Sounds too simple doesn’t it?  You’ve heard it before, haven’t you?

You might even be saying, “Duh Matt.”  Right?

The ongoing battle that all of us face when trying to build a successful blog (or anything really), is doing the priority daily action that’s going to propel us forward, whether we feel like it or not. (andy frisella video)

When I first started wanting to learn how to write (blog, whatever), the War Of Art by Steven Pressfield really hit home for me.

I had this idea in my in my mind that certain people (good writers) had some gift that I didn’t have. Or maybe they had some intellect that allowed them to convert thoughts into words better than I. I didn’t know some of the world’s best writers had the most difficult time writing… If that makes sense.

What One Man Can Do, Another Man Can Do. – The Edge

What I found in Pressfield’s book, is that what he calls “Resistance” is the same thing I was experiencing when I sat down to build this blog.

Some people refer to is as analysis paralysis, but Pressfield takes it a step further with how Resistance can creep up and overtake your daily habits. (or lack of daily habit to flex your writing muscle)

It’s the same thing aspiring bloggers face, and can only be overcome by repeated action to develop daily discipline. It’s very similar to the concept in The Compound Effect, in that, small actions repeated daily, are often not realized for 17 months or more.

Enter: The Compound Effect For Bloggers – The Real Difference Between Successful Bloggers & Unsuccessful Bloggers

It’s those critical minutes each day that create small incremental motions that, once analyzed 24 months later, add up to massive differences compared to your starting point.

As TV watchers, quick fixers, and get rich quick dreams we’ve been sold by the media (ourselves really), our conditioning is not congruent with the reality of what it takes to become a good writer. (insert most anything we all aspire to be: get fit, become a professional blogger, run a lifestyle business traveling, and on and on…)

So what can we do about it?

How can we create change within ourselves to accomplish our goals? Or at the very least, overcome some of these barriers to improve some parts of our lives?

These are questions I’ve asked myself many many times. I don’t think there is an end all be all answer that fits for everyone, but here’s what I do know.

For me, it breaks down into three main points.

Awareness. Education. Daily corrective action.

Awareness – What Are You Doing Wrong That’s Stopping You From Heading Toward Success?

The first is becoming aware that you’re not on the path to arrive at the destination where you want to go. There’s also the often referred to point of enjoying the journey, but at least be sure you’re headed in the right direction. Way back when MJ Demarco’s old forum was called, The Fastlane To Millions, he would hammer that point home time and time again. (I’d imagine some days he was saying to himself…”Every fucking day I say the same shit to these fuckers, but they’re STILL not getting it”!!! lol)

So to me, awareness is the first step right? I mean, how do you change something if you don’t know it needs to be changed, would you agree?

For some people this is quick and easy to realize they’re not headed down the right path. For me, in regards to building this blog, it took me about 7 months to realize I was spinning my wheels and getting nowhere.

( side note- do you realize how much content on a default WordPress install you can create in 7 months!!!!!!!!!!!! Fuck me running backwards… you can style it later for Pete’s sake.)

But you know what?  I don’t care if that’s 7 years for you… The important thing is to become aware, so you can make the right adjustments. You can’t get back time from the past, so the best thing you CAN do is not waste any more of the future.

The definition of insanity: Doing the same thing over and over expecting a different result.

Next up is education. And I’m NOT talking about getting another useless degree here!

Education – What Do You Need To Learn In Order To Progress?

Notice I said progress, not perfect. You only need to learn enough in order to progress, not spend months and months learning without applying.

Progress Not Perfection.

If you want to alter your direction after you become aware, you must feed your brain new information to stimulate different results. I.E. you must get educated on what to do differently, so you can achieve differently.

For me this was easy, but often a trap. I can continue learning and learning on a subject as long as I enjoy it a little bit, which brings us to our next point: Daily corrective action.

In Regards To Blogging Specifically – How Often Do You Think You Should Post?

Most people scoff at the idea that you must do something daily. Especially in regards to blogging, many think once a week or a few times a month is more than adequate.

While this might be true if you’re a veteran blogger, have an established audience, and have done years of content marketing to build up plenty of evergreen exposure. But how does that compare to the traffic a newbie gets? Precisely my friend.

And it’s not just about traffic either! Most of us didn’t grow up being great writers, so how all of the sudden do you expect that switch to be turned on without practice?

But let me ask you, how are you ever going to get good at something you’ve never done? Yes that’s a trick question… Do it more is the answer.

Quantity Breeds Quality.

There is another aspect to this as well, and it’s key component of daily corrective action.

Daily Corrective Action – What Is The Daily Action You Need To Take In Order To Succeed?

The purpose of daily action, is to keep you from just learning all the time and not applying anything you learn. I have done this many times over, and when I looked back, I had nothing to show for all of my “great newfound knowledge.”

Perhaps it was just building up to one day be released once I had more life experience, but that sounds like a great re-frame… 🙂  The reality is I could’ve started sooner, and you should too if you can.

Make sense?

Although this same process applies to many areas of life, in regards to blogging specifically, this made a huge difference. It was the difference between silently working on something for 7 months and having nothing to show for it, and producing something daily (badly, at first, and just now getting to mediocre) to refine and hone the skills needed to get good at it.

Refinement is a privilege you haven’t earned unless you’ve started.

For me, this made the difference between moving the needle, and staying stagnant. As I mentioned earlier, this is the critical factor that will make a difference in 24 months, just as it’s indicated in The Compound Effect.

Anyhow, I think you get the picture. Believe it or not, this seems to be an ongoing battle for me, even to this day. But after reading the War Of Art, we are not alone.

If you’re looking to do something similar for yourself, such as start a successful blog or create a side business, my best tip is to learn a little bit, but get started immediately. Like right now, like your life depends on it.

If you need help setting up your first blog, I have a step by step tutorial on how to start a blog for beginners here. Once you do that, my #2 top tip, is to follow the advanced section on how to find industry questions and start answering them. (it’s the easiest way to start a relevant content marketing schedule with zero experience).

You want to gain momentum as quickly as possible, and I’m about to show you why.

Do You Make Excuses On Why You Can’t Start A Blog And Help People? I Do.

All kinds of things usually get in the way of our success, even stupid little excuses that don’t even matter much.

If you look at your life in terms of decades, how important are these little things we all use to make excuses as to why we can’t succeed?

Don’t act like you don’t know what I’m talking about, we all do them. The thing is, success, the universe, whatever you refer to it as, doesn’t give a rats ass about your excuses.

Success doesn’t care if you make the same excuses as everyone else, and aren’t willing to give up a few things temporarily to succeed, such as:

  • Going out for beers with friends
  • Staying up late
  • Taking Saturdays and Sundays off
  • Want to take a vacation
  • Not getting up early when you can be most creative and productive

I’m actually doing this right now as we speak! It’s something I have to work at frequently.

For instance, I want to do a 30 days of blogging everyday challenge for myself, but I’m making excuses about why I can’t because I have a snowmobiling trip to Maine coming up in 2 weeks. If you’re really committed, you’ll learn to ask better questions.

An example of this that I’m looking at for myself in the above situation right now is, “this is important how can I make this work”?

Could I do the work ahead of time and schedule the posts? Yes but I’d probably kill myself working double.

Could I pay someone to create content while I’m gone? Yes but that violates my ethical code to myself, that this blog will never become a content farm or sponsored post whorehouse.

Could I find a way to source internet at the cabin I’m staying at and forgo an hour or two a night to get this done even if it’s not my best work?  Bingo.

(this is a huge stretch for me btw, because I don;’t like publishing bullshit 300 word articles that you can bang out in 20 minutes with zero thought behind them.)

I feel strongly enough about the quotes in this post, that I have a few of them hanging in my office all around the room.

mydesk

Entrepreneurship is living a few years of your life like most people won’t so you can spend the rest of your life like most people cant.

Start Giving The Most Valuable Thing You Can Offer The World And Success Will Find You

Money is like a mischievous cat; if you chase it around the neighborhood, it eludes you. It hides up a tree, behind the rose bush, or in the garden. However, if you ignore it and focus on what attracts the cat, it comes to you and sits in your lap. – MJ DeMarco

My belief is that everyone has something to give.

Everyone has had some experience in their life, some problem they’ve solved, and some kind of unique voice that speaks to people differently. In my opinion, the best way to start a blog, is not to pick the one thing you love as your primary focal point. It’s not to pick the one hobby you can’t live without. Nope.

Sure, those can be wildly successful, but usually the most valuable thing you can offer is some kind of problem/solution experience you’ve had/overcome/solved/are solving in your own life at one time or another.

It doesn’t matter if someone else has already done it. Do you know how many blogs out there that talk about health, money, and building websites? A lot, but that doesn’t stop me from developing a unique voice and helping people based on my experience.

And it shouldn’t stop you either, so get your ass in gear and get moving!

30-days-of-discipline

 

 

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Join the conversation on Matt's case studies at CleverLeverage.com as he discovers and tests new ways to earn more income, learn alternative investment strategies to net >10%, maintain good health, and turn passions into online businesses.

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