Anyone who has never made a mistake has never tried anything new - Albert Einstein
The greatest mistake you can make in life is to be continually fearing you will make one – Elbert Hubbard
I would imagine that almost everyone that runs a successful blog gets asked this question regularly: How did you create a successful blog? As I look back at the last year, I see the progression of this site as a series of mistakes, followed by a series of corrections, lessons learned, and then progress.
I have to admit that I have made some pretty big mistakes, but I am truly grateful for those mistakes. Each one of them has helped me to get to higher and higher levels of exposure and success. I wouldn’t trade them for anything. I hope that they are as helpful for you guys as they were for me, here they are:
1 – I didn’t nail down my brand name.
In the beginning I frankly didn’t understand the power of branding and had no idea how to brand my site. Deciding on Court’s Internet Marketing School helped on like a thousand different levels, including helping a ton with our ranking for ‘internet marketing’ in Google. The name also helps people to understand what we’re about here.
2- I didn’t promote my RSS feed.
My goodness. When I think of where I could have been I almost get sick. As of today (4-9-2008) the site is sitting at about 2,500 subscribers, and there’s no doubt that if I would have promoted my feed from the beginning I could have double that amount.
RSS is truly the holy grail of blogging. It provides you with the leverage you need to build links and have success with social media. It also creates a great situation for affiliate marketing and sales of personal products, and long as you are trustworthy.
With the first six months of work I was only able to create a subscriber base of 250 subscribers and I felt that I was really behind where I should have been. A sudden panic helped me to shuffle my approach – I reworked many trafficked posts to promote the feed, created a much larger RSS button, and created a section that invites people to sign up via RSS at the end of each post. Wow, it’s made a huge difference.
3 – I lost my life balance.
Blogging can easily become an addiction that takes over your life. I have always been unusually driven to be the best at everything I do, and blogging was no exception. About five months ago I realized that I just wasn’t happy. I found myself all out of whack – physically, emotionally, socially, and spiritually. This started to negatively affect my work and I saw that I needed to make a change.
I have made some pretty big changes since then, including switching to a regular 8-5 work schedule so that I can workout everyday, study, have a normal social life, and spend more time with family. I’m a lot happier now and what do you know… the site has improved amazingly since implementing those changes.
4 – I didn’t add a contributor soon enough.
In a lot of ways, Mark has been a mentor to me. He has taught me a ton about marketing and business in general and quite frankly I have absolutely no idea why he hasn’t been contributing for at least 6 months. His contribution has helped free up thinking time for me, which has improved my work, and he has contributed some amazing stuff to the site – stuff that I couldn’t have done myself. Doh!!!
Since the beginning of Mark’s contribution, we have been able to post more often on the site, which has led to a very significant increase in traffic and RSS subscribers.
I would highly recommend finding contributors, mentors, and partners that have talents and abilities that are outside your skill set. We have been able to do a ton of stuff together that frankly, I could never have done on my own. We also have another business partner, Cade, who does stuff for us that I can’t even wrap my mind around, let alone do myself.
5 – I didn’t think I needed relationships with other bloggers.
Frankly, I started this site based on the fact that I knew I could create traffic with my SEO abilities. SEO has worked out very nicely for me in the last year, but I really missed out in the beginning by not connecting with other bloggers. It took seeing some other bloggers who were able to build RSS counts of 1000+ in a single month for me to see how important it is to get to know other site owners and bloggers.
I am now a lot better socially but I can’t help but think what could have been…
Along these lines is the fact that I haven’t linked out enough – I haven’t helped enough of you to get exposure. I came to this conclusion lately, which is why I started Court’s Links, which is there solely to help you guys out. I hope that it has helped some of you and I will continue to do it. If you would like to participate, please visit my contact page and send me a cool post that you’ve written. Here’s what I do with them: Court’s Links.
These mistakes are simply the biggest five of many, many mistakes that I’ve made (and hopefully corrected) in the last year. I hope that somehow I can make five bigger ones this year because if I do, the site will grow that much more.