Success, One Mistake at a Time

Success, One Mistake at a Time

I am a dumbass when it comes down to it. I was going to list a whole bunch of mistakes I have made here, but then realized that some of them make me cringe when I see them. I start a project as a perfectionist and when I finish it, I am an impatient asshole. And my running stats are win one and lose five or something like that.

The one thing that I see that separates me and many other online marketers from a lot of people who I have met and who have asked me how to make money online is that I am not afraid of looking like a dumbass. I also am not afraid to break something.

This is not rocket science. This is not brain surgery. No one is going to die if I mess up. So sitting and thinking about what I could do if only I knew how is not going to get me anywhere. And I thought this was what being American was about, a "do it yourself" attitude. For those reading from other countries, I am not a flag waver but I will use it for effect.

But some time ago a lot of us got lazy. We don't have to know about how the car works. We have a mechanic. We don't have to worry about our health or what we eat. That's what doctors are for. We don't have to worry about our kids. That's what the schools are for. There is always someone to do it for us.

Even school. I can't learn that. I can't afford college. What? Everything is in a freaking book. A piece of paper on the wall doesn't help me with my advertising campaigns. It doesn't get me higher pay from my boss, me. And it better be printed on gold and cover the whole wall.

I had to learn some things because I was flat broke. I have been doing that since I was a kid. We couldn't afford some things when I was young so I build things like scale catapults out of tree limbs that could launch random objects over the neighbor's house. Beat that with your BB gun.

Money didn't stop me when the only real requirement was knowledge and action. The computer books from the clearance rack at Compusa would be good enough to start and that's how I started. Or I could have just dreamed about the time I could afford a $60 book. Anything that can stop you, will.

So you want some mistakes. Here goes:

I had a site called My first. I used all the seo techniques I learned to get it ranked. But I didn't know how to check the rank at the time and I wasn't sure how to monetize it. It was a year before I did. A few weeks after I did I was making $100 a day from it. I could have been making that much the whole year before that.

But that is not the end of that story. I monetized it by republishing the Clickbank marketplace on the fly without any caching. So basically you would land on a monetized page and the script would grab a page from Clickbank and print it out. Each and every time. That would have eventually caused an issue, but Google got me first and banned my site.

I built a site that took the top 100 search phrases expanded them by using the Overture keyword tool and then used a blog search engine to find matching posts. It was just an experiment. It wasn't monetized in any way. That SOB got some traffic. I could look at my stats and find hot "long-tail" terms right away before that term "long-tail" existed. But again, I did it with out any caching and the blog search engine I was using frowned on my site and cut me off.

I built a social bookmarking site when there were only about 50. On a shared host. It was a few months before the host said I had to shut it down. I was using more than my share of the processor.

First hand experience is better than learning from a book. I know the consequences of my mistakes first hand. I didn't break anything. Google banned a site, but from what I learned, I had a new site making money within a couple of months. And now I catch issues similar to this within a week or so.

Which is why I giggled a little when the last round of Google updates went around. "Stop whining. I had a site banned and came back. You just lost your blue ribbon for a while. Boo frickin Who"

There are other hosts and other sites and other ways to make money. I did not mention all of my mistakes. I have been through five hosting providers and it wasn't my choice to leave. Now I lease my own box.

It hasn't been easy. I actually had to get off the couch every once and while and do stuff myself. Well I guess that's a lie. I work at the computer.

So my #1 piece of advice. Don't be afraid to break things. Don't be afraid of being stupid. Don't be afraid of anything that keeps you from moving forward, because fear is your enemy, Yes, people used to get burned at the stake and hung for mistakes and for being different. Now they only get sent to Guantanamo. Not that bad.

Stephan Miller

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Kansas City Software Engineer and Author

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