I’ve been making a living as an online entrepreneur for the past 9 years and I’m soon approaching 30 years of age.
Reflecting back, I’ve been thinking a lot about where I want to take my business. In the past I admittedly fell for quick fixes. Yep, I’m talking about black hat methods and systems offering quick riches.
In this post, I’d like to expand on my thoughts and lessons learned from my experience with these short-term tactics.
How I Lost Almost Everything Overnight
As I mentioned, I fell for quick fixes and there were consequences.
Sure, what I was doing worked and I even scaled my site up to a point where it was making $1,200 per day and growing. Things were great until a competitor spammed hundreds of thousands of negative links to my site. Let’s just say that this competitor linked my website to totally unrelated sites with unrelated keywords that are too explicit to put on this blog.
As a result, my site was penalized by Google.
To put it into perspective, I had everything up to a point where it was all automated and I could freely walkaway knowing that I’d still end the day with a good amount of sales. I had a team of three staff who would fulfill the orders so I didn’t have to.
Little did I know, Google was about to slap me…
I Wasn’t Looking At The Big Picture
What I was doing was short-lived but a big lesson I learned. I was naive.
When I think about my mentality today compared to when I first started in 2005, it’s changed a lot. When I first started I didn’t even think about the future. I saw this “Internet thing” as extra cash I could make on the side without looking at the big picture. I didn’t want to plant the seeds, nurture it, and enjoy the benefits after long months of waiting.
Nowadays, I think about where is my business in 5 years time? 10 years time?
Today, the future is more important to me than making a quick buck or two. I want to start a family within the next 3-5 years and that’s something really important I’ve taken into account when building my business.
Just imagine having lots of responsibilities like paying the mortgage, a car to pay off and a family to feed. If your site goes down, where does that leave you?
This is not some sort of scare tactic. This is the reality, and it sure gave me the wake up call.
Tired of Fighting Google Animals
Back to the story of my site. It really wasn’t until Google hit my site with one of its algorithm updates that they penalized my site. Note: Google periodically changes its algorithms to serve better and more accurate results to users. In my case, it was the Hummingbird update and Penguin 2.1. If you’re wondering why the “animals”, they are basically code names for major Google updates.
Most of my rankings disappeared and my site pages were no where to be seen on Google. Only a few pages remained with good rankings and still generate some sales.
Anyway, I spoke to a few SEO guys and they suggested to either get the negative links disavowed or start all over. The obvious choice was to start all over. Why? Because if I were to get the bad links disavowed, I would have had to contact each individual site owner to remove the backlinks, and I’m talking about HUNDREDS of THOUSANDS of links, not a few dozen. It’s mere impossible to get removed unless you have nothing else to do or want to spend hundreds of dollars on a disavowing agent.
Don’t Rely On Google To Send You Traffic
This is another reason why you should never put Google and other search engines as your number one priority for traffic generation. You just can’t rely on it. One day you’re on page one and the next you could be on the 10th page.
I was anxious about not being able to control where my site and business was heading.
I’m not saying that you should never optimize for search engines, because any traffic that search engines sends you is always great, but you just can’t build sites and beg on your knees for Big G (Google) to say “Hey, you’ve waited long enough and we see your site has satisfied our algorithms. Let’s put you on the first page now.”
Don’t Put All Your Eggs In One Basket
My site that was affected was in a highly competitive niche where competitors would stuff you over. Put all your effort into just one site and you’re doomed.
It was lucky that I had other sites and products that were making money otherwise I would have had lots of bills piling up.
This same rule applies with anything. For example, if you have a PayPal account, it’s at risk of getting compromised so you need a backup so that you can continue accepting orders.
Ultimately, you want to make sure you stay safe by diversifying your business.
Stop Chasing The Magic Pill
Most of us want the easy way, no doubt. We’re only human. We would rather have a short-cut than to put in the hard yards. We want to see results right now, today. Not next week or next month.
We get into this desperate situation where we would compromise anything to be able to get faster results.
However, if you really want a future for your business, then treat it like a real business.
The same can be applied in all areas of your life such as fitness and health. There are lots of fads out there that end up being yo-yo diet plans. It’s only a temporary solution.
I’ve Been Staying Positive – Here’s What I’ve Been Focusing On
I am going back to basics and focusing on building my brand and reputation.
My main aim is to build my platform, i.e. – my blog. This is the core part or central hub of my online business which allows me share & connect with my audience and build my brand.
More specifically, here’s where I’m putting most of my effort:
- Content creation. I’m writing blog posts, recording videos, creating mindmaps, recording podcasts and offering other downloadable training material.
- Email marketing. I’ve never stopped building a list of subscribers since I started. This is the most fundamental part of building a long-term, sustainable business. You always need a way to contact your audience at YOUR control, not anybody else’s or any other platforms.
- Social media. I’m investing in Facebook Ads to get new leads and Facebook Fans. Other ways I’m using social media: Getting involved in forums, Google+ Communities, LinkedIn Groups, blog commenting, YouTube, Twitter and LinkedIn.
I don’t put all my content on social platforms like Facebook. You want to use these platforms to drive traffic to your main hub – your site/blog.
- Product creation. I am always working on creating products around what my prospects want help with, whether it’s a short report or a complete video course, product creation is my way of giving extra value, and at the same time monetization.
- Membership sites. I am a firm believer in membership sites. If your customers have purchased once from you, there’s a good chance that they’ll buy from you again. Like the saying goes: “It’s easier to sell to existing customers than to find new customers”. If you’re only selling one-off products, you’re leaving a whole lot of money on the table.
The average retention rate for my membership sites is around 8 months. So on average, my customer lifetime value is about $100 (not including any further purchases they make). If I have 100 members who join, I know for a fact that I’m going to make $10,000 from those 100 members.
So with that said, you should implement some sort of recurring offer into your funnel.
Okay, so this all sounds like a lot of work, but I’m simply sharing what’s working for me right now and what I’ll continue doing for years to come.
Not to get off topic but I’d like to mention that I’ve built a good team of A players who assist me in shaving off hours of my own time in doing all the work. You name it – designing, writing, administrative, support and programming.
Don’t get me wrong, I don’t outsource my blog posts! Every word you’re reading now was written by me. Although I’m not the best writer, I would rather have my words written from my own heart than from someone else’s.
So that’s the future of my business.
But Don’t Listen To Me – You Be The Judge
We all go through our own paths. We try new things and learn from our own failures.
What I went through was based on my experience.
To this day I’m still implementing SEO, no doubt. Every Internet marketer needs to at least know the fundamentals of SEO. I just don’t rely on it as much as I used to.
As for black hat methods, I have nothing against it. Indeed it works. In fact, some people’s business revolve around just these sorts of quick methods. If a site goes down then they move on and create another site. That’s great for them but personally, it’s not for me and I wouldn’t recommend it if you’re looking to build a strong business.
It’s been tough to find out what works and what doesn’t. Sometimes you wish that someone should have just told you all about it.
I’m telling you now through my own story and experiences and do hope my message has either made you re-evaluate what you’re doing or to keep moving forward with your business.
At the end of the day, you decide what works for you and what doesn’t. You find out from doing your own experiments and build your skills and business from there.
I learned the hard way but I’m kind of glad I did. It’s brought me to where I am today. If I hadn’t gone through what I did, I would have kept chasing that magic pill.
I’d love to know what you think about the story I’ve shared.
Where do you see your business or yourself in the next 5 or 10 years?
Have you experienced a similar scenario where you site was penalized by Google? And if so, have you recovered?
What steps have you taken to ensure your business stays afloat?
Let me know your thoughts in the comments section below…