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You’ve likely heard a lot of SUCCESS stories from us, but it hasn’t all been sunshine and rainbows, folks.
We made a LOT of mistakes along the way. And we still do, if we’re just being honest, although not as many as in the beginning.
The biggest blogging mistakes were definitely made in the first few months of trying to create our first health and fitness blog.
I’m going to share with you how this first blog of ours 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 and wellness blog that we started.
We went on to make $103,456.98 with that second blog in its first year.
And we make over $100,000/month blogging, as evidenced in our income reports.
But sweet baby J, it didn’t start that way…
First, let me define what I mean by the term “FAILED.”
We’ve been sending out surveys and quizzes recently and when asked the question of “What is your reason for wanting to blog?…”
76% of people said “to make money and become financially free” as their #1 or #2 reason.
Ditto, my friends. We started 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
We are defining blog failure, in this case, as not making money or accomplishing the goals that we had for our blog.
If those are not your reasons for starting a blog, then this post may not resonate as much with you. I understand that a blog can be a personal diary for some without any intention of monetary gain.
That’s why I wanted to clear up how we defined “failure.”
We also have a related podcast episode on our blog failure if you’d prefer to listen to the story:
Our First Health and Fitness Blog
The truth is, looking back, our first blog idea wasn’t actually a terrible idea!
I’ve done worse for less.
The reason our idea flopped like a fat fish on a wet marble floor was mostly due to our 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, we figured we could blog about that topic.
Why the hell not, right?
Combining the two things we loved… It was a crude blog with lots of potty humor (something Lauren and I love). Here are some photos from it:
Basically, we would get a little drunk, take photos of recipes, write explicit text on them, and laugh our asses off like a couple of insane hyenas.
It was fun and stupid and everything in between.
Everything was great except for a few teensy tiny problems:
Nobody was reading our blog, we had made exactly $0 from it, and nobody cared about it.
Other than that, we were doing great! *facepalm*
For all of you preferred video learners out there, here is a video of this topic (plus some extra tips!) from our YouTube Channel below.
Let’s look at the five reasons why this first blog idea failed and break this down from our perspective as now-successful bloggers.
We Put Ourselves First
All of the content we created was centered around ourselves and what WE wanted to create.
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.
We wanted to get hammered drinking mimosas and sloppily taking photos of our “healthy” recipe creations. Oh, and make money from it. Ha!
But it was selfish in nature.
The difference with our second health and wellness 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 Lauren and I wanted to create and had everything to do with the type of content we knew our audience liked and responded to.
You think Lauren and I wanted to write weight loss posts for middle-aged women for the rest of our lives??
But that’s what THEY need, so we sucked up our pride and did it for a full year + of our lives.
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.
We could have made some money from our first direction at SOME point, but we wouldn’t have made enough to quit our jobs, design our lives, and accomplish the OTHER goals that were important to us.
The health and wellness website turned out to be something that we weren’t as passionate about but it has provided us with:
- the financial freedom to quit our jobs, travel, live life the way that we want to,
- and the ability to work on the projects that we are truly passionate about (Create and Go!).
And those things make us happy!
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.
We Made All The Wrong Moves in All The Wrong Places
I once spent 7+ days trying to come up with our mission statement.
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).
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.
We spent entirely too much time on:
- How our blog looked
- Our mission statement
- Our about us page
- Other less important, asinine things
And entirely too little time:
- Learning WordPress
- Creating original content
- Creating content people actually want
Now we understand what matters and what doesn’t matter when it comes to blogging.
Honestly, this is why people buy our courses in droves at Create and Go.
It’s not that Lauren and I are super geniuses, although we do know our shit when it comes to blogging.
But it’s more because our courses can save you a TON of time that you would otherwise waste on learning and trying things that don’t matter (or work).
We Tried to Monetize Before Driving Traffic
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 digital products that we thought were absolutely awesome — that 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 monetization, we mean not just slapping up a link to some rando affiliate product and crossing your fingers that someone will buy.
It’s the combination of these that will lead you to success as a blogger.
This is also around the time we started learning more about Pinterest. The more we got into it, the more we realized Pinterest is the peanut butter to the jelly that is blogging.
Read this article on Pinterest traffic for bloggers next if you’re interested in learning more about how we did it and how you can.
We Didn’t Prioritize Building an Email List
Despite everyone on the internet telling us we HAD to collect emails, we thought:
- We don’t like emails;
- Therefore nobody likes emails.
- Let’s not do it.
Solid thought process, right? *Another facepalm*
Many of you new bloggers are probably somewhere in that camp as well.
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 over two 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 Any Good Guidance
I think a lot of this goes back to the fact that we didn’t actually identify as “bloggers” for the longest time.
We just thought we were starting a health and fitness website and trying to make money online.
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 we didn’t need at the time.
We just didn’t realize it at the time, but advice from these people needs to be taken with a big, fat grain of salt.
Monetizing and growing a website that’s in a niche like knitting or health, is very different from one that teaches people how to make money online.
The truth is that it’s much easier to sell when you’re teaching people how to make an income.
We know because we now do it. But only AFTER earning six figures with our health and wellness blog.
While this absolutely does not mean you should start out teaching people how to make money online — it’s dishonest at best and a flat out lying at worst if you haven’t actually made money online yet…
It DOES mean you should be paying close attention to who you are taking advice from.
We would have made money A LOT faster had we started with the knowledge we give in our courses or in these articles and were always more passionate about the business side of blogging because we both have a college degree in business.
BUT other than selling my first eBook out of college, I didn’t have the level of personal experience to blog about making a serious income online.
So, Lauren and I decided to blog about health and wellness, a topic that we both were very passionate about and knowledgeable in. I was a certified personal trainer and nutrition specialist and she was a former vegan for two years. It was a great fit for us.
Only after taking our health and wellness blog to over $10,000/month did we start Create and Go.
Bottom line: Be wary. Be skeptical.
Even of me.
I’m no saint, y’all.
I sell courses too.
While I think they are the best in the biz, it’s easy to look at someone who has the success that we do and think “These two baboons must have all the answers.”
We don’t. While we do our best, we have flaws as well.
How to Know If It’s Time to Call It Quits on Your Blog and Start Over
I’m adding this section in as an update to this article because it’s a question we receive fairly often from some of our bloggers.
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.
Lauren and I ultimately decided to scrap our first blog because we felt like we were SO far off the mark.
We were doing so many things wrong that there really wasn’t any “fixing” it.
We had 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, we could have deleted or changed all of the content to try to “revive” it from the dead.
But we felt like a fresh blog, a fresh mindset, and a fresh start was the only way up for us.
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. We didn’t have a whole lot left to lose at that point, so we went for it.
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:
- We were selfish. If you want to succeed, your content has to be centered around solving other people’s problems, not always your own.
- We made all the wrong moves in all the wrong places. Forget about your mission statement or that dope logo and focus more on providing value to your readers.
- We tried to monetize without traffic. You need both great traffic and a great product to make money.
- We didn’t begin building an email list right away. 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!