While growing my online business over the last 10 years I have made a lot mistakes. These mistakes have ranged from those that can be considered very minor that had no real consequences to huge errors that ended up costin me considerable amounts of time, effort and money. Out of all the mistakes that I have made during this time period, the biggest one has to be the fact that a few years ago I became complacent with my success and neglected my affiliate network. This has led to a 70% decline in my income from this area of the business and made once great sites virtually useless. Here’s how it happened.
When I first started out in affiliate marketing I had set a goal that I wanted to generate $1,000 a month in profit from my sites. I started out with a single site and still clearly recall the day I received my first cheque for $36. It wasn’t a lot but I was extremely proud of it. Instead of being frustrated by the small payday I registered new domains, found new products to sell and researched SEO tactics that would help me improve my search engine results.
A few months later I had clawed my way up to a few hundred dollars a month in revenue and had multiple websites that made their debut on the first page for relevant search terms. I discovered longtail keyword phrases at this time and began targeting them. I found that they not only brought in some highly targeted traffic but also converted much better and were easier to get top 3 rankings. Traffic continued to improve and I eventually grabbed the coveted top spot at Google and Yahoo for many of my site’s main keywords.
It took 8 months from the time I received that first cheque to bringing the business to the point that I could cover my expenses and take home $1,000 a month. Some months were better but I always seemed to be able to keep it to at least that figure. I had come up with a fairly successful system that saw far many more hits than misses and things were going very well in my mind. This is where I made the biggest mistake of my online career.
I had a series of coiled notebooks with projects that I wanted to move onto next. My original plan was to flip a few of my existing websites and use the proceeds to fund new projects. The sites were relatively valuable because they had top search engine placements, tons of organic traffic with little or no paid advertising, and were bringing in revenue each month. I had some great offers on a few of my top sites that would have allowed me to fund new projects, expand my network of sites and move from being the guy who did all the work to the guy assigning the work by using freelancers.
Instead of moving in that direction I decided I couldn’t part with any of my sites. I realized I was in love with each and every one of them. I had worked very hard to make them successful and there was no way I was going to sell them regardless of what it would allow me to do. As foolish as this seems in retrospect, this wasn’t the mistake. The mistake was that I became satisfied with the results and stopped developing new properties and projects. Worst of all, I stopped working on the sites figuring the passive income would just keep rolling in.
I wasn’t completely wrong in that assumption as things continued to do well for a few years but things started to change somewhere around February 2011. Google started doing some crazy things to their algorithms and I started losing traffic. I didn’t panic at first and took several bandaid approaches to try and correct the sites. Recovery was limited and by the end of 2011 some of the sites were absolutely useless buried deep in the pages of search engine results.
My income continued diminish which caused me to go into full blown panic mode. I struggled to keep what little traffic I had and then the changes in 2012 that Google implemented pretty much put the nail in the coffin of many sites. Sales took a nosedive. My overall monthly income dropped 70% in a period of two years leaving me to rely on my other service based businesses for a majority of my income.
This January I began reviewing those old coiled notebooks of mine and started on some new projects. I have already launched a few new affiliate sites and am planning on launching some niche and authority websites in the coming months. I have set some new goals and once those are achieved you can bet I won’t be resting on my laurels. I plan on learning from my mistakes.