We are business owners.
It’s inevitable that sooner or later we feel like we are beating our heads against a brick wall.
Comes with the territory.
Too many things need to be done.
Too much needs to be learned.
Not nearly enough readers/customers.
Not nearly enough profit to make all the sweat, blood, and tears seem worthwhile.
That’s the stage I am in right now.
And when I said I felt like quitting, I wasn’t joking.
Why Am I Writing This Post?
Simply put, to get a pat on the back.
To hear from you that what I do matters.
That it somehow makes a difference.
Slight exaggerations and buttering up would be gratefully accepted.
And no, this is not the only reason I am writing this.
I know that you’ve gone through this before and will inevitably go through this again.
Feeling inadequate, ill-equipped, ill-prepared.
Feeling like an imposter and a fake.
And I am here to tell you that you are not alone.
Why Going Through a Funk Is Natural
We see so many online success stories.
It seems like everywhere we look, other bloggers/business owners are doing way better than we are.
We see them posting their income reports, screenshots of their enormous paychecks, their names mentioned with reverence everywhere we look.
And it’s rare thing that we actually hear true stories behind such successes.
Like the kind of story Joanna Wiebe told us in her recent guest post at TGC “Exactly How I Wrote an Ebook That Made $10K in 1 Week“.
In that post, she said:
“Like the most successful people on earth tell folks like moi: there’s no such thing as an overnight success.
You have to work for a decade to become an overnight success.”
I love that.
It’s way too easy to forget when looking at what looks like “overnight” online success stories that they most likely are a result of many previous failures and trials.
The Truth About My “Overnight” Success
I started Traffic Generation Cafe in July of 2010 – just over a year and a half ago.
In six months, it became one of the authority blogs on anything related to getting more traffic to your site.
It became so popular so quickly that most of my readers just assumed that it’d been around for a long time.
Sounds like a Cinderella story so far, doesn’t it?
Sure it didn’t take long to build a popular blog.
However, the knowledge, experience, and wisdom to do it right came from several unsuccessful attempts to carve my own online space.
My First Online Fiasco
First, I tried an MLM company, Ameriplan.
This was actually the first time I even knew there was such a thing as building an online business.
I was very gung-ho and ready to build my online empire.
I learned everything I could about the business. I overcame the fear of making phone calls and talking to people by making myself talk to as many people as I could.
I had a few “recruits” within the first month.
However, I quickly realized that building an MLM business was very similar to filling a leaking bucket with water.
The more water you add, the more of it leaks out through the holes.
The more people you recruit, the more of them realize that it takes enormous dedication, time, and money to succeed and leave.
Valuable Lessons Learned:
You can’t be just “one of”; you have to become “the one” to rise to the top.
I learned about attraction marketing and becoming the lead magnet, rather than convincing people that they should listen to you.
My Second Stepping Stone
At some point I realized that working as hard as I was with each person on my team and collecting measly $15 per month for it wasn’t a smart way to build a business.
I wanted to acquire more practical knowledge on how to make an online business work.
Check out this awesome post by Ian Lurie Information is free. Knowledge is not. to see what I mean.
Plus, I followed the logic “It takes just as much effort to recruit someone into an MLM business that pays $15 per person as it does into a top-tier opportunity that requires a $2,000-$3,000 investment.”
So I joined YourNetBiz.
This was the first time I realized that a replicated company web page was not going to cut it, that buying leads was not a good way to go, that the best way to get targeted leads was by generating my own, and that the best way to do that was through SEO.
I never heard of SEO before that.
Learning more about all of it was both grueling and rewarding.
I finally managed to put up my first lead capture page and actually get it ranked at the top of the first page for anything YourNetBiz related.
If you are curious, you can still see the page here, but please don’t sign up for more info, because you won’t get anything you don’t already know.
Valuable Lessons Learned:
- It’s up to YOU to build your business.
- No mentor or company training will do it for you.
- Building a business takes knowledge.
- You are responsible for people that actually trust you with their money to realize their dreams.
- You can’t realize their dreams because there’s no such a thing as a “duplicatable system”.
- You can’t duplicate someone’s success. The only way to succeed is to carve your own path.
One of the things I did while with YourNetBiz was creating my first blog.
Even though I had no clear understanding as to why I needed a blog for my business and that blog was a miserable failure, it served as a springboard to creating Traffic Generation Cafe.
Side Note: Just in case you are wondering, I don’t promote YourNetBiz any longer.
Mostly because I couldn’t really promise anyone they could be successful online and couldn’t really tell them with clear conscience that I could teach them how to do it.
Traffic Generation Cafe Was Born
One thing that was incredibly clear to me at that point was the fact that my online business was as good as non-existent if didn’t find a way to reach my target audience.
I knew I needed to learn how to get more traffic.
I also figured that other online business owners were most likely struggling with the same problem.
A quick search with Market Samurai confirmed that terms like “traffic generation” and “web traffic” were indeed highly searched.
I already had a PR2 blog with customized Thesis theme, and now I had a niche.
The rest was just a matter of creativity: an overall theme (“Cafe” sounded warm and inviting and right up my addiction to coffee), a header that reflected the main topic of traffic generation (very important for conversion optimization), and a new domain name.
To say that I didn’t know what I was doing in the beginning is an understatement.
However, I’ve learned a lot from my past mistakes.
I’ve managed to acquire practical, actionable knowledge, and not merely information, on how to “lay the golden eggs”.
How exactly did I turn Traffic Generation Cafe from a blog no one ever heard before (although they’d swear they’ve been hearing about me for years) into a hustling and bustling traffic generation hub?
Yes, Traffic Generation Cafe appears to be a success.
I have some incredible readers who support me through thick and thin.
Other bloggers like my content and share it with their readers and followers.
Google sends me a healthy portion of my traffic.
Or wait a minute… That’s right, my blog just got spanked by Google!
I am nowhere to be found for some of the keywords I used to have a strong hold on!
I bet it had something to do with the latest changes that are sweeping the search engine rankings, and Traffic Generation Cafe is one of its many victims.
Usually, they are kind enough to give you heads-up when you are doing something wrong via a message in your Webmaster Tools; like this:
But no… My GWT peacefully proclaims “No new messages or recent critical issues.”
Does it have something to do with the recent mass de-indexing of blog networks?
Anything is possible, of course; however, the vast majority of my links do come from natural link building.
Let’s see… What else do I want to mope about…
My latest income report wasn’t so hot and I am afraid to even imagine what this month bottom line will look like, considering that my life is completely upside down right now and I have but a couple of hours per day to give to my business, IF I am lucky.
I know, I know: even though my income was lower in February, I still make more than most bloggers.
However, if you had the kind of traffic I do, wouldn’t you expect more?
Exactly my point.
Then there’s the self-doubt issue.
Why Would Anyone Listen to Me?
Seriously though. How did I become an expert on traffic?
Hearing “Wow, that was great advice, Ana; I never thought about it that way” is great, but it also creates a lot of pressure to “produce” in the future.
What if my next piece of advice or a post won’t be so brilliant?
Once again, the reason I am spilling the guts here is to show that NO ONE is immune from feeling down or even wanting to quit – happens to me about twice a day.
Take a look at what one of my regular readers, Ryan Oakley, said to me in an email (I am posting it here with his permission, of course):
“Here’s my quick story that has me….I don’t know….questioning my online business and my motivation to create and publish.
Ever since reading 4HWW (4-Hour Work Week), I have been trying to “get out” of my 9-5 engineering job.
I love the “idea” of running my own business, but I’m a bit of a flake — moving from thing to thing.
No much for results. Just kept consuming info….not acting on it.
Finally, I invested $1500 on the IBM Coaching and put my money where my mouth is.
Good news is that I forced myself to just PICK a niche and run with it – despite my fears or concerns.
I chose a good niche, I think, on many levels…..teaching photo enthusiasts how to become profitable and fulfilled wedding photographers.
There’s money, passion, lots of how-to info needed, and a ton of affiliate marketing programs I could sell.
Sounds great, right?
Well…….I feel like a bit of a fraud.
Though I have shot weddings professionally, I do so part time, and have about 8 under my belt in the last 5 years.
And I have ZERO clients/gigs lined up for 2012.
Yet, I somehow think that I can be an “authority” on the subject?
Now I know that I don’t need to be THE guru, and that as long as I teach what I learn and be authentic in my experience, then I should do ok………on ONE condition……I bring PASSION to the subject.
I struggle with that.
I’m in a photography funk. I don’t shoot photos for fun or for profit.
All I want to do is create tutorials on different photography products I’ve used…..
I just seem fake. Inauthentic.
And I wonder:
– should I give up and keep the PASSION search going and see what comes next (no ideas)
– keep going, knowing that passion will return.
Thanks for hearing me out.
PS. My blog is getting traffic and is fairly well responded to.
I’m making affiliate sales through an extensive SmugMug tutorial video series I created.
So the “system” is working…I just don’t know how I can put in the future work to maintain and grow it.
And the more traffic I get, the more paranoid I get thinking that someone will finally call my bluff and say “YOU HAVE NO AUTHORITY TEACHING THIS CRAP!!”
It does to me!
And here’s what my friend Danny Iny had to say about it in our recent conversation on the subject:
“It’s completely normal to feel like an imposter – there’s even a name for it, the “imposter syndrome”.
We all feel that way to a certain extent.
It doesn’t matter how many successful campaigns you’ve ran, how much traffic you’re getting, or how big your list has grown, there’s still a nagging doubt in the back of your mind wondering if *this time* it isn’t going to work… if *this time* people will finally realize the truth.
Rationally, you probably know that it’s the voice in the back of your mind that needs to realize the truth – that you know what you’re doing, and you should trust your skills and expertise.
But the voice is still there.
My advice? Don’t wait for the voice to go away, just ignore it.
The best way to kill it is with an avalanche of insurmountable evidence.
But still, that voice is one resilient little bugger… ;-)”
I am off to collect the evidence.
A couple of things before I go though.
1. I want to hear your stories!
You and I both know that no man/woman is an island.
It’s extremely helpful for us to know that we are not alone in our downturns, especially when it comes down to our online businesses.
Running a business from home doesn’t mean that you are ISOLATED and alone.
So share your story!
2. Share this post with others.
If you and I need this kind of support, so do all other folks who dream to build a solid online business.
Share this post with them and let us all be encouraged.
3. Do something about it.
Whether you are in the upturn or downturn of your business, listen to Danny Iny’s advice:
The best way to kill it (feeling like an imposter) is with an avalanche of insurmountable evidence.
Now I am done.