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We share a lot of success stories here, but it hasn’t all been sunshine and rainbows over here. A LOT of mistakes were made along the way — still are, if I’m being honest. But thankfully far fewer.
We’ve started a few successful blogs now an by far, most of the biggest blogging mistakes were definitely made in the first few months of trying to get the very first blog off the ground.
I’m going to share with you how this first blog failed in a truly spectacular fashion.
And I’ll preface it with the fact that we DID find success just a few months later with the very next health blog that we started. The second blog earned $103,456.98 in its first year.
From there, we turned our online business into a 6-7 figure empire (see yearly income reports for more info).
But like I said before, things got off to a rough start. First, let me define what I mean by “failed” when I say that our first blog failed.
The goal with this first blog (and each one after that) was been to make enough money to replace our full-time jobs and create more freedom in our lives. We started a blog because we wanted to:
- Quit our jobs
- Work when we wanted to
- Be in control of our income
- Become 100% FREE to design our lives exactly how we wanted
So, I’m defining blog failure, in this case, as not making money OR accomplishing these goals.
The First Health and Fitness Blog
The truth is, looking back, the first blog idea wasn’t actually too terrible. The reason the idea flopped like a fat fish on a wet marble floor was mostly due to terrible execution.
If you didn’t know, you can check out old versions of websites using a website called Wayback Machine. It can be fun to look back and see how far you’ve come.
As youngish twenty-somethings trying to stay healthy while drinking and partying with friends, that didn’t seem like the worst topic to blog about.
Why the hell not, right?
It was a crude blog with lots of humor. Here are some photos from it:
Basically, the plan was to get a little drunk… you know, to bring out the creative side, take photos of recipes, write explicit text on them, and enjoy every bit of the process.
It was fun and stupid and everything in between. Everything was great except for a few teensy tiny problems:
No one was reading the blog. No one cared about it. And we had made exactly $0 from it.
Other than that, things were great! 🤦🏻♀️
Let’s look at the five reasons why this first blog idea failed and break this down from the perspective of a now-successful blogger.
We put ”us” first.
All of the content was centered around the creators — rather than the audience. It was all about us.
I actually see this quite often in the blogging sphere.
Content creators are often more concerned with how other people view them and work on stuff they like rather than focusing on helping their readers with their problems and needs.
And I get it. Because when you are first starting out, you don’t have an audience yet and don’t really know what that future audience is interested in.
But the assumption is a dangerous path to be on for too long.
We were as guilty of this as anyone. Jokes aside, there was a lot of hard, sober work put into this blog. But it still turned out to be selfish in nature and the worst part was, we didn’t even realize it at the time.
But it was selfish in nature (without realizing it at the time, of course).
The difference with the second health blog is that the content was solely focused on the needs and wants of our audience.
It actually had very little to do with the content we wanted to create and had everything to do with the type of content we knew our audience liked and responded to.
We didn’t really want to write weight loss posts for middle-aged women for the rest of our lives, but it turns out that it was exactly what our audience was looking for from us.
So, we chose to listen and follow the audience, which led to following the money. We went on to earn over $20,000/month from this website and this decision.
Now, before I lose you… I know what you’re thinking.
“I have to write about stuff I’m not interested in!? That sounds miserable!”
No, you don’t have to. You should always enjoy what you are doing, but it doesn’t mean that you will love every second of it.
Sometimes, there is more money to be made in areas that you don’t love as much and you have to decide what direction you want to go in.
Knowing what I know now, we would have been able to be successful with the first blog at some point. But some things would have had to changed and we likely would have had to become influencers along the way — something that was never in the cards for us.
The health blog turned out to be something that we weren’t as passionate about but it provided us with:
- the financial freedom to quit our jobs, travel, live life the way that we want to
- and pave the way to start Create and Go, which IS a passion project
Success can also make you feel happy, as long as you find fulfillment in what you do.
The key is to focus on what your audience wants, needs, and responds to (not what you want to create) ESPECIALLY if financial freedom is something that you want.
Pro Tip: If you aren’t sure what that is in the beginning, create a lot of different types of content and see what your audience is most attracted to.
That’s how we began to figure it out when we started driving more traffic with Pinterest.
All the wrong moves were made in all the wrong places.
I once spent over 7 days trying to come up with a mission statement.
That wasn’t all I did, of course. But I still let it consume at least some of my thoughts for a good week.
7 &^$(%*^ DAYS!
It’s like the entrepreneur who files for an LLC before a single person has purchased their product (something I am also guilty of).
It’s dumb. Don’t do that.
A mission statement should take you 30 minutes to make and then you should move on. If it doesn’t come to you in that time frame, let it go and focus on something else until it becomes clearer.
Entirely too much time was spent on:
- How the blog looked
- The mission statement
- The about us page
- Other less important, asinine things
And entirely too little time:
- Learning WordPress
- Creating original content
- Creating content people actually want
Unfortunately, there is a bit of a learning curve to truly understand what are the most important tasks to focus on in your business — the ones that bring you closer to growth and success.
These are the strategies that we share in our blogging courses and they are aimed at saving you a ton of time that you would otherwise waste on learning and trying things that don’t matter (or work).
Monetization was prioritized over building an audience.
Think of it as having your very own lemonade stand, perfectly positioned, in the Sahara Desert.
You can have the dopest, freshest, most lemony-lemonade of all time, but you’re in the damn desert… you ain’t making any sales, partner.
We spent a full month creating two totally awesome weight loss programs that absolutely no one purchased.
We were sitting there in the desert like “Where’s that money, though??”
In order to make money with your blog, you have to have two things:
- High-quality traffic
- Proper monetization methods in place
By proper, I really just mean intentional. Throwing up affiliate links all over your blog, crossing your fingers, and hoping it works is not a sound strategy.
It’s the combination of those two items that will lead you to success as a blogger.
We tried to run before we could walk. You’ll never make a dime if you don’t have anyone to sell to.
Thankfully, we discovered how to get traffic from Pinterest pretty quickly. We now focus more on Google SEO traffic.
Build an audience first. Learn what they are interested in. Then create that thing and sell it.
Building an email list wasn’t a priority.
I remember reading about email marketing and hearing from so many others how important it was to build an email list.
But, like most new bloggers, I disregarded that advice, mainly because:
- I don’t like emails;
- Therefore nobody likes emails.
- Let’s not do that.
Solid thought process, right? 🤦🏻♀️🤦🏻♀️
While MUCH has changed in the world of blogging over the years, this has not. There is no single way to better turn a prospect into a fan into a customer than through email marketing.
Collecting emails FROM DAY 1 when you start getting visitors to your blog is one of the most important things you can do.
It may not be fun and you may not even like email, but it’s Capital-T true.
And by far the best email marketing tool you can use to create and send emails to your audience is ConvertKit. It’s what we’ve been using for years now, and it also now comes with tons of landing pages and opt-in forms that you can use to get more subscribers to your blog.
We didn’t have guidance from the right people.
It can be hard to define what a blogger is. You fall into all of these categories or labels of entrepreneurs, bloggers, online creators, influencers… So which is it??
I think that made it more difficult in the beginning to find successful people to follow. I know that I didn’t identify as a ”blogger” for a long time, therefore I didn’t find any advice on blogging.
And when you Google “make money online,” a WHOLE LOT of varied, fragmented, and downright awful information comes up. Most of the “guidance” we found was from marketers teaching about marketing and gurus teaching about how to be a guru.
We participated in course launches about launches.
Watched webinars on webinars.
And bought a whole lot of other courses and software that was utterly unnecessary at the time. It was a lot of generalized information meant for the masses, and we didn’t yet know how to personalize that to our own business.
You need to find someone to follow who is honest, genuine, and already successful in the very specific area that you are trying to be successful in.
If you’re a YouTuber, find a course from a successful YouTuber. If you’re a blogger, find some blogging courses from successful bloggers, and so on.
We’d love you to learn from us, but if we aren’t your cup of tea, that’s okay too. Find someone who is.
Make sure to find someone that you think exemplifies good values and one that you can trust and look up to for inspiration.
How to Know When It’s Time to Quit or Start Over
I’m adding this section in as an update to this article because it’s a question we get from our audience fairly often.
I wish I could give you a definitive answer, but this is really a personal decision. Whether you want to keep pushing forward or chalk it up to a failure and start over.
For me, the decision to scrap the first blog stemmed a lot from the feeling of just being SO far off the mark. It was like there were so many things that just weren’t right that there wasn’t an easy way to fix it or come back from it.
The first blog was comprised of failed products, no email list, a bunch of content no one was interested in, not much traffic, and really nothing to lose at that point.
Sure, the content could have been deleted or changed to try to “revive” it from the dead. But a fresh blog, a fresh mindset, and a fresh start felt like the better move.
We looked around at other successful blogs to get ideas for the kind of style we thought might work for us. We were pretty open at this point after the recent failure.
It was honestly more of a gut feeling than anything else. Starting over felt like the right thing to do.
I’m not sure if that helps you out a whole lot. But you should really think about it before you make that decision. In this case, there wasn’t much to lose, so it made sense.
The time that was put into it was already a sunk cost.
I know it’s dark down there in the trenches… What we call the “poop phase” of blogging, but there is a light at the end of the tunnel. I promise.
In summary, here are the main reasons why our blog failed:
- Creator-focused rather than audience-focused. If you want to succeed, your content has to be centered around solving other people’s problems, not always your own.
- All the wrong moves made in all the wrong places. Forget about your mission statement or that dope logo and focus more on providing value to your readers.
- Monetization as prioritized over building an audience. You need both great traffic and a great product to make money.
- Building an email list wasn’t a priority. Turn your readers into subscribers as soon as you start driving traffic!
- We didn’t have any GOOD guidance. Find guidance from people whom you feel that you can truly trust and who will shoot you straight.
Read Next: Best Blogging Tips for Beginners
If you enjoyed this article on how our first blog failed or have any questions, please feel free to leave a comment below! We’d love to hear from you!