A successful entrepreneur shares her thoughts on business success and failure.

How I (Almost) Threw My Popular Blog in the Trash


Killing my Blog You may have noticed this is my first blog post in 2013. Despite this blog receiving over 1.2 million unique visitors last year, I almost gave up on it entirely. Here’s what happened…and the huge mistake I made (which probably isn’t what you think.)

I’ve been wavering back and forth on what to do with erica.biz for a while. Unquestionably, writing this blog has had a huge influence on my life. It’s allowed me to meet movers and shakers in the tech industry and beyond, connect with people who would normally be hard to reach, and it’s even made me some money. (Though likely less than you’d guess, given my traffic numbers, as I put my focus into building my tech startup instead.) Heck, having this blog even helped me raise a small seed round of investment for my tech company–the first time I’ve ever been able to successfully pitch to investors.

With the help of meditation, I dug into my real fears and concerns about running a popular blog. Eventually, I was able to pinpoint exactly when and why writing on erica.biz lost its luster for me. I was surprised to discover that it stretched all the way back to February 2010. That’s when I made a mistake–although I only knew it was a mistake in retrospect.

I wrote a survey and opened it up to you, my readers. The survey wasn’t a mistake–I got hundreds of responses, and they were incredibly valuable. But I asked one question that was problematic. The question was: “Which type(s) of blog posts would you like to see LESS of on erica.biz?”

Here you can see the results (click on the image thumbnail to see the full-size image):

February 2012 survey results

Perhaps my mistake was not even just in asking the question, but in having those answers in the back of my mind whenever I went to write a new blog post. Whenever I wanted to write about saving money, or economic trends, a voice in the back of my head would pipe up: “But your readers don’t want to see those posts.” And I would silence myself. I wouldn’t even bother to write the post.

That was a mistake.

What Killed My Blog

Throughout 2010, I continued to write. But by early 2011, I had already started to taper off. In 2012, I only managed to write 12 posts–an average of just one a month. I had tens of thousands of words in “draft” posts that got stuck, forever, in a folder where no one but me would ever see them. Some of them were fantastic. But I had convinced myself that only posts in a narrow niche would ever see the light of day. So I never published them.

Two months in 2013 went by with no blog posts published (and over 7,000 words of draft blog posts that I’ve written this year languishing away!) before I was able to take a deep look at myself and know the truth inside of me.

I could no longer blame my lack of writing on ADHD or just “I’m too busy.” It was deeper: I’d inadvertently niched myself into a niche I didn’t care about.

Writing about “making money online” doesn’t really interest me. I don’t want to write about how to make a quick buck. It’s always been empty to me and I’ve never been passionate about writing for that niche. However, since I rank so well on the search engines for lots of “make money online”-style keywords, I felt that pigeonholed me. I wrote out the first chapter of a book on how to make money online last year, but I never had the heart to finish it. It just wasn’t exciting! How could I look people in the eye and promise them riches when I knew how difficult it was to start a successful, profitable online business?

Slowly, as I did my nightly meditations, I reformed what I wanted erica.biz to be about. The truth is, I do want to help you build a business. But here’s the catch: I want to help you build a real, profitable business. One that can employ people, make money, and provide you with endless hours of fun and rewarding work. A business where you want to get out of bed and work on it. That’s how I feel about the businesses I’ve started and run!

But it isn’t the “make money online” niche. I think you know, in your heart of hearts, that the whole “make money online” thing is a lottery ticket anyway. Yeah, there are ways you can “beat the system” for a bit–before everyone else pours in and does the same thing because some “guru” sold a product on how some asshole–I mean, guy next door–”beat the system” and got rich. If you’ll only follow these 37 kajillion steps in exactly the right order, you can get rich too! Oh, did I mention those steps take 61 days to execute properly, and we have only a 60-day money-back guarantee? How convenient.

Oh, what do you mean, you did all the steps and it didn’t work? Well, it must be your fault, you dumb ****. I mean, just look at this guy. He started out fat, overweight, and broke, living in a trailer, and now, 61 days later, he’s thin with perfect white teeth, he owns a mansion, has a trophy wife, and drives a Porsche. Obviously it’s just your stupidity that caused it to not work for you. What’s his name? Mr. X. Yeah, I can’t give away his real name because it’s classified information. Sorry ’bout that! But I assure you this product really does work. It’s like printing money! It’s a cash MACHINE!

I Couldn’t Bring Myself To Do It…

There was no way I wanted to sell a product to this market. I didn’t have the heart. I couldn’t stomach the desperation from people who were days away from getting evicted and had bought this program as their last hope. (That’s the lottery ticket side of the make money online business.)

I wrote out mind map after mind map, trying to overlap the (literally) millions of people who came to my website searching for “make money online fast” every year with a product I could actually sell to them. And finally, this year, I gave it up. I knew it couldn’t work. I bought or got free copies of hundreds of products in this niche. And the only good ones–of which there are few–are really just about setting up a website, getting traffic, and finding your ideal customer. They market to the “make money online” niche, but they’re not a “get rich quick” scheme. In fact, those products feel a lot like…teaching you how to run a real business. You know, getting customers, instead of “arbitraging traffic”.

Overwhelmingly, if you look at people who have actually made millions of dollars online (not the idiot “gurus” who make money by teaching you how to make money online and selling those asinine products, but the real ones who made provable money), you find there’s one “secret” they all share:

Bear with me here…

They SELL REAL STUFF.

I know, right? Unbelievable! They actually have customers. They accept credit cards. And they deliver real products–sometimes physical, sometimes virtual–but they’re actually selling stuff.

They are, in fact, running businesses. Just like the shopkeepers of 50 or 100 years ago, but now with new online ways of getting customers.

Bringing Erica.Biz Back

It’s high time I got back to erica.biz. So, over the next few weeks, I’m doing a revamp of my site. I’m going to stop telling you about how to “make money online” and I’m going to start sharing with you how I build and run real businesses. That’s going to be my mantra. Teaching you how to run a real ****ing business.

If you want to make money online fast, you can unsubscribe now. (And here’s a hint: The next guru product you buy will be a waste. And the one after that. Stop chasing rainbows and build a real ****ing business.)

If you want to learn how to build actual awesome businesses, with customers and products/services that you sell online, then by all means stay. (If you haven’t subscribed to my email list, now would be a good time to do that, too. As you can tell, I’m not going to send you a bunch of BS offers. But I do plan to do some fun subscribers-only stuff this year.)

And, you should know up front: I may also write on this blog about other non-business stuff, as I see fit. I’ll probably wrap most of my posts back into business lessons, since I’m all about building a real business too. But there may be posts where it’s not immediately obvious that it’s about building your business.

My Commitment to You

I’ll write more often. (Ideally, once a week, though it may take me some time to get back up to speed.) As you see fit, read, and share. If you want, send me feedback by responding to the email I send you with my latest posts. I do read them all.

I hope we’re still cool and you’ll still hang around. Because honestly, I’ve missed you. I’ve missed writing to you. I’ve missed writing about you and your business.

It’s good to be back.

Here’s to making money online…with a REAL business…in 2013 and beyond!

-Erica



Welcome to erica.biz!

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I'm Erica Douglass.
After selling my online business at age 26 for over $1 million, I created this blog to help you grow your own business quickly.

If you are motivated to change the world and want to learn from my successes (and failures!), please get my free business tips and join over 112,000 other monthly readers!

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