Panic As Fuel

Panic As Fuel

I am a relatively organized and driven person, but I do get comfortable. Comfortable is spending way to much time exploring and not enough time marketing and getting links. Comfortable is putting off my 4 hour sessions of work that I do on the weekends and settling for the couple hours a day spent on my daily to do's.

Then something happens. What is something?

  • The basket all my eggs were in gets banned by Google.
  • Other Adwords advertisers advance heavily on my campaigns for days before I notice it.
  • Due to a bookkeeping error, my credit card bounces at the hosting provider and Adwords at the same time.
  • A Clickbank vendor gets my account put on hold because he thought it was unfair that I ranked higher for his product than he did.
  • A site slowing slips to half the traffic it once had and I haven't noticed.
  • I upload the wrong file to the wrong place and kill off all of my landing pages for a day while the ad money keeps flowing in.
  • I transfer a domain and forget to update the nameservers and don't even check until sales show the issue.

Initially, I am the deer in the headlights or Chicken Little, you choose. A bunch of expletives, a few pity parties, and a couple of "Whoa is me" thrown in for good measure. And then I go back into "I'm a newbie, but I need to make $1000 in two days" mode. I grasp at anything to make the money come in a little more and I try to do everything at once.

But if I let that initial phase blow over, something my wife taught me, everything becomes more clear. Comfortable is gone and stops blinding my path. My focus goes to the issue that caused the problem and the plan that I had before the comfortable period stopped me.

The 5000 ways to make money stop chattering in the background and I go back through my notes and to do list and take out the Samurai sword. Cut and burn time. I create a new list of only those things that will move me forward now. The long term goal are still there, but short term goals help with focus. This list I order by the estimated effect on sales and the degree of difficulty.

I liken it to the two times we have had a flood. Yes, two. One in Phoenix and one here, a year after the first one. All the hoarding, all the saving for a rainy day is done. Everything goes in the trash. Well, not everything, but all those things that just sat there because there was space for them. After the initial freak out following our second flood, I was happy. Happy to get all the crap out of the basement. Now we will be renting a small dumpster every year and acting like we had a flood.

Once I am done with my list, I move. It is these times I am most efficient. Things get done at a lightning pace. By then I am happy to be panicked. I may not check my sales stats so that it can continue at least enough to blast through the old comfortable period and into a new one.

For now that works. Because those comfortable periods always seem to come back. So I am thankful for the small blessing of shit hitting the fan every once and a while.

Stephan Miller

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Kansas City Software Engineer and Author

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