I’ve been exactly where you are.
Super excited about this online empire thing, imagining myself giving notice at my day job, thrilled at the prospect of having the freedom of working from wherever I wanted.
It’s awesome, isn’t it? So much possibility, so much to learn, so exhilarating to be doing something new and promising.
Yep, I’ve been there. And you know what, it is awesome. But for many budding online entrepreneurs, including me, that excitement and newbie-ness can lead to some mistakes.
Some of the mistakes are no big deal, maybe just a wasted afternoon of work. Others can be worse. A lot worse.
Worst case scenario? You make so many mistakes that you become disheartened and give up before you’ve had a chance to succeed.
I do not want that to happen to you!
That is why I am putting myself and my big-time flops out there. I am going to detail some of the biggest mistakes I made as an entrant in the world of web equity in hopes that I can help you avoid website creation mistakes.
Read on, sister!
#1: Rushing the Research
I was a major nerd in high school, college and law school. Big-time nerd. Always did my homework (all of it), volunteered in class, did the extra reading, etc. I even loved research, still do.
But why then, I asked myself later, did I absolutely fly through the research process when starting my first site? Why didn’t I take time to:
- Do extensive keyword research
- Do extensive competitor research
- Do a deep dive into the type of affiliate products I could promote and what kind of profit those would yield
Sigh. It was a combination of impatience and lack of knowledge. I learned my lesson for later sites, that is for sure.
I can’t help with impatience (I wish I could, then I could cure myself!), but I hope I can help with knowledge about the super important research pieces that you need to do when starting a site.
#2: Picking the Domain Name Before I Picked the Niche
I’ve done this more than once, unfortunately. Without revealing any of the premature domain names I’ve purchased, let’s just say it was classic cart before the horse syndrome.
You know how it is–you’re struck by inspiration at the oddest times. Maybe you’re in the shower, or driving, or zoning out at work? You simply MUST have that domain name.
You find yourself racing to your favorite domain provider and search quickly to see if someone else has snagged this one in a million name.
Your fingers fly as you quickly type in your genius-level name. You have to hurry because it feels like this domain name is soooo good that there simply must be others out there who are, at this very instant, typing it in their own search bar to snap out from under you.
And there it is: DOMAIN NAME AVAILABLE!
Hot damn, you think. You hurriedly enter your payment information and secure that domain. Whew.
After the adrenaline wears off, you might have what’s known as buyer’s remorse.
It turns out the domain name is great, unfortunately it either has nothing to do with the niche you’re pursuing or is in a niche that is simply not a good choice for you.
Do yourself a favor and pick that niche first. Then, and only then, let those creative juices fly and unearth your epic domain name.
#3: Shiny Object Syndrome
We’ve all heard of this phenomenon, right? I took this one and ran with it. As in, hauled ass with it. This is probably my biggest beginner mistake.
I was soooo excited about getting started that I didn’t take it slowly enough. I didn’t do the research required to make good decisions and stay focused and on track.
That ended up being an expensive (and time-wasting mistake)!
Some true confessions:
- Bought a very expensive link-building course before knowing enough to realize that it used gray to black-ish hat SEO techniques (which is not something I do)
- Bought a page builder that is slow and clunky because I didn’t realize I love WordPress’s Gutenberg editor (which is F-R-E-E)
- Jumped into an excellent Pinterest course, but it was way before I was ready to get rolling with Pinterest
- Bought a number of niche reports on very specialized niches that I don’t need and shouldn’t have been worrying about that early
My advice here?
- Slow down!
- Stay focused!
My number one suggestion is this:
Don’t feel like you have to get through every training course, every podcast and every Facebook group’s wall before you can get started. Learn the basics and jump in. The water’s fine!
#4: Expecting Instant Results
Here’s another one where I KNEW going in that it wasn’t going to be an instant success. I’d read it a million times and knew from my own research that getting a niche site up and running doesn’t mean you’ll automatically start pulling in the moolah.
Even so, I was expecting to see big numbers and fast. On one of my sites, I did get really great traffic right away, which was thrilling. It was primarily due to the seasonality of the site and my pre-existing network of contacts, however. My other sites were more, shall we say, sluggish out of the gate.
Just keep in mind–that is perfectly normal! Get your mind frame adjusted to the fact that the first six to eight months is an exercise in commitment and faith in the system. It does take time. But you know what else?
It does happen!
Don’t be like sooooo many others who get discouraged at the slow ramp-up and give up, abandoning their site to the WordPress graveyard. You can do it!
#5: Wasting Time Constantly Refreshing My Stats
Consider this a corollary to #4.
This one is a little embarrassing. When I got my first site up, I was obsessed with watching my stats. I cannot even begin to estimate how many times per day I clicked over to my perpetually open tabs: Google Analytics, Google Search Console, Domain Authority Checker, Google Page Insights, Amazon Associates, MailChimp, and the new Facebook group I had set up.
- How many visitors had been to my site in the 20 minutes since I’d last checked? Better hit Google Analytics and find out.
- Had any new keywords been recognized on my site by Google Search Console?
- Did my domain authority somehow bump up overnight?
- How’s my site speed? Is it still good?
- OMG, how much have I made in commissions on Amazon?
- Did I get any new subscribers? Did anyone (gulp) unsubscribe since last time I checked?
- How was my Facebook group doing? Are people engaging? Do I need to post again?
You likely already know this, but if not, hopefully I can spare you the dozens of tiny little disappointments per day that I experienced when I was doing this at the very beginning of my site’s life.
Don’t do this! Put yourself on a stat checking schedule! Here’s why.
- It’s exhausting.
- It’s disheartening. There is little doubt that you will be disappointed if you are doing this while your site is young. There simply will not be any progress yet and that is normal! But to see the goose eggs again and again is a let down. Spare yourself!
- It’s non-productive. All of those 30-45 second checks add up! Not only is the raw time lost non-productive but the constant switching of tasks keeps you from being focused.
At the end of the day, the valuable data tracking tools that we have at our fingertips are awesome, but don’t abuse them.
#6: Not Monitoring My Mobile Site Daily
This one is pretty self-explanatory and it sucked. My first site was very seasonal and because I wasn’t checking how it looked on mobile devices, I lost a WEEK of prime time traffic. A week!! Some sort of issue that I ended up using tech support to fix was making my mobile site look like garbage.
You might as well have been looking at a phone like this when viewing my mobile site during that dead week. Ugh![iStock]
The point here is, you can’t set it and forget it. Checking up on your site (in all of its forms) is critical. Learn more about taking care of your site and don’t make the same mistake I did.
#7: Starting More than One Site at Once
Like many entrepreneurs, when I get excited about a project, I go big. I go all in. When it came to starting my online empire, that meant I fell prey to a classic mistake.
“If one site is good, wouldn’t three sites be better? I know I’ve read countless times that you should focus on just one site, but that’s for other people. I’m organized. I can handle it.”
There is a great saying by the ancient Chinese philosopher, Confucius:
The man who chases two rabbits, catches neither.– Confucius.
Or, to freshen up Confucius’s nugget from circa 500 B.C., the woman who creates two (or more) websites at once, screws the pooch.
It is tempting, very tempting. But stay focused! Get the basics down and let yourself learn from that first site.
You Will Absolutely Make Mistakes
I hope this list of my mistakes helps you avoid some of the same snafus.
No matter what, however, you will definitely make some mistakes as you begin building your online empire.
That’s okay! The key is not letting those inevitable mistakes stop your forward progress. You can do this!