It’s been 14 years since I’ve been in the digital marketing space. I could easily write multiple volumes of my business mistakes.
At that time, I’ve done my fair share of mistakes. I lost opportunities, I said “no” to several more opportunities, I didn’t make good use of my assets, my website was barely functional, I never bothered generating leads, I didn’t get into any of the “gold rush” stuff such as e-commerce, dropshipping, or selling eBooks.
I wasn’t impressed by Frank Kern and his online Syndicate. I don’t care how good a marketer Anik Singhal is and although I made more than a million dollars by the time I was 29, I couldn’t be a Ramit Sethi.
I just did what most self-employed professionals do — strive to get by, get clients, manage clients, get paid, pay the bills, save up enough, and continue to work again.
I don’t know you. I don’t know where you are starting from or the kind of business you do. But I am sure you’ll end up mistakes the way I did. The smarter way to go about it is to look into a decade of my mistakes and try to avoid them.
Here are some of the business and marketing mistakes I did (so that you don’t have to):
Underestimating Web Hosting
As with most people, I took up a shared hosting account when I first got started so that web hosting wouldn’t be a strain on my cash flow. The trouble with web hosting is that it’d feel like dating or a new marriage for a few years or until all hell breaks loose — whichever comes first.
For 6 to 7 years, I absolutely had no issues with my web hosting provider, until I did. By then, I had three websites (each with a blog) and I had a tight schedule just trying to write up blog posts for all the three websites.
Slowly, but surely, the shared web hosting provider I was depending on started squeezing my sites out of their pool. They started injecting vulnerable scripts and making my life miserable by asking me to upgrade to this or that until I had to let go and move on.
Not to mention, all of the three sites were as slow as molasses. Fast forward today (after losing 2 out of the 3 websites I had), I moved to Flywheel a couple of years ago and now I certainly don’t think about hosting anymore while my site is hosted on the Google Cloud Platform, comes with a free SSL certificate, and more. Now, I am as happy as a clam.
Meanwhile, I only recommend either Flywheel or Kinsta or WPEngine for my clients.
Nothing else will do.
Being Indifferent to Web Design
While I won’t ever declare that my website (and this blog) is anywhere near “good”, it was far worse earlier. If I did dare to put my website up for a UX/UI audit, any average UX/UI professional worth his or her salt would ever consider even auditing my website — It was that bad.
When I started 14 years ago, the WordPress ecosystem isn’t as healthy (and growing) as it is now with tools like Divi and Elementor.
We didn’t have Webflow then and there were certainly no artificial-intelligence driven logo builders or website builders those days.
I should admit that I shouldn’t have been so lackadaisical about the website design. With what I know now, I should have at least tried to build the website good enough so it’s primed to generate leads.
Not Blogging Regularly Enough
God knows that I love blogging. I provided ghostwriting services for as long as I lived I guess. But there’s only so much a single person can write in a day. Combined with lack of motivation (and energy), I barely ever wrote for my own blog. Sadly, all of that time, energy, and writing was for clients’ blogs.
For more than 14 years now, I just kept writing and blogging and all the other good stuff for clients (and not much for myself).
But I should have. For someone who writes at least 6000 words per day and can write up to 10,000 words per day (if push came to pull) without sacrificing quality, it’d not have been that hard for me.
I didn’t. I lost my time. I threw out the opportunity to have done better, out with the bath towel.
Even now, I still think I am not doing justice the fetchprofits blog by just trying to write 3 blog posts per week. I could four or five per week, maybe?
Not creating something valuable as lead magnets
Lead magnets. Those things that I’d always advice clients to have, to create, and to distribute to help grow their email list (see below). Despite all the preaching I’d do, I barely created any lead magnets for myself (mostly since all my time would go into creating lead magnets for clients).
If and when I did manage to create eBooks, reports, or checklists as lead magnets, I still wouldn’t have a proper system in place to deliver these lead magnets and grow my list (see below).
Not Generating Leads (& Growing an Email List) From Day One
If there’s anything on the list I am the most guilty about, it’s the fact that I didn’t care enough to grow my email list. I could have just used OptinMonster from the day I started blogging and started promoting posts on social media.
At the present rate of generating around 5 leads per day purely from organic traffic, for at least 14 years, you can only imagine the number of leads or subscribers I’d have missed out so far.
Heck, even those times when I started, I still had access to email service providers like MailChimp which had all the features and tools needed to grow and nurture my “list-that-could-have-been-there-but-isn’t”.
While I still use Mailchimp, I primarily use Drip’s advanced email marketing software to grow my email list now.
Not embracing ecommerce and selling digital products
The trouble with providing services? You are stuck to a different kind of hamster wheel. You trade time for money and you’d never know when your next paycheck comes from. This is the reality of freelancing.
I don’t know about you but I hate trading my time for money. I’d like it if I didn’t have to.
It wasn’t until the end of 2018 when my savings started coming through and I didn’t really need to work as hard as I did all these years.
Though I am late, I knew I had to sell my own products. I now sell courses, and it’s a journey.
This is a side hustle and I am yet to make anything good out of it.
Not Starting Online Courses Sooner
Ever since I started providing digital marketing services, I was good enough to teach and train others. I already did that as a part of providing services to clients.
Since all of my clients were remote, I’d normally deliver consulting or coaching using Skype those days. Or using millions of screenshots within an email.
I should have known that by creating modules that explain how to do this or that with a structured flow and in logical sequence could have helped me create online courses. I just didn’t think in that direction.
Even when I did start contemplating about online courses, I dilly-dallied for several years thanks to all sorts of other issues such as lack of a proper LMS that can work with WordPress, the Imposter Syndrome, and the sheer lack of confidence that online course creators need to get started.
It was only because I found Podia to be an incredibly easy, effective, and powerful platform for online courses, digital downloads, and memberships that I started taking creating online courses seriously.
I am making some progress with Podia now with about 2-3 courses ready for consumption.
What are some of the mistakes you’ve done with respect to your business?