Stacy Fleetwood

Blogger, Internet Marketer, and All Around Smartass

Challenge Summary – 90 Day Blog Challenge

Internet Marketing ChallengeA little over 90 days ago, I found myself assessing my online business.  I came to the conclusion that I was going to either quit, and take another direction in life, or pick one online business strategy and bust my ass to make it successful.  Somehow during the time I was mulling over that decision I was introduced to Marketing with Alex by Alex Jeffreys.  I can’t describe how I felt as I went through that training, other than to say that I knew exactly which path I was going to take and I was excited and confident in taking on the challenge.

OK, I can actually describe it.  I was exhilarated and doing back flips.  I wasn’t taking a deep breath and crossing my fingers with hope; I was and still am CERTAIN that this business will be how I achieve financial freedom and wealth.

The Origination of the 90 Day Blog Challenge

My day job includes big projects (I’m talking save millions-of-dollars type projects) and strategic ways to manage those projects.  I’ve gone through extensive training on project management, so I brought some of those tools and techniques into my own strategy for developing this business.

You see, in the past I viewed my online business as ‘different’ from my day job.  It was unconventional, so for some stupid reason I thought I could stay away from things I didn’t want to do, didn’t want to take the time to do, or were out of my comfort zone.  Folks, that is a sure fire way to stifle progress.

I Needed to Declare a Goal and Timeline

This time around, I started with a ‘stretch’ goal and a timeline with which to meet that goal.  A stretch goal is one that is likely unattainable, but isn’t impossible to achieve.  This kind of goal drives creativity and encourages you to push beyond your comfort zone.  You don’t just learn knowledge about your business on this journey, you learn about yourself and what you are capable of.

I knew that my old way of looking at my internet business (finding a method that would allow me to stay in my comfort zone and still make lots of cash) didn’t work, so I set out to do the opposite.  Bust out of that comfort zone in every way.

online business goal setting

The Goal and Timeline

To hit $4,000 in 90 days.

This would be a hell of a stretch, but that is the income amount that I need to meet every month, and I wanted to see if I could hit it in 90 days.

The Strategy

Internet Business Target GoalEstablish a ‘Vision’, meaning an ideal end state.  For me, my ideal end state at this time is to have a website and subscriber list that together provide a minimum income of $4,000 a month.  In order to get to that end state, I need to plan out several short term goals that move me closer to that vision.  I call those ‘Targets’.  My first Target was generating $4,000 through the website and subscriber list.

Target 1 – Hit First $4,000

In order to hit that first Target, I had to assess where I was starting from.  See the T graph below for the assessment of my ‘Current State’ at the beginning of this journey.

t graph

Potential Obstacles:

  • Time constraints – working a full time job, and having a family and responsibilities can make it hard to squeeze out time for my business.  Sometimes I have to take time when I can get it.
  • Frustration – there are a lot of things that I will have to spend the time to teach myself.  This usually involves trial and error and figuring out things the hard way.  That is also called learning :) .  Though it is learning, it can still be quite frustrating when working through it.
  • De-motivation – putting in a lot of work, taking time away from my family, and acquiring skills and knowledge with no monetary rewards can be quite the motivation killer.  No one wants to work for free, but there is going to be an upfront investment of time and energy that does not see an immediate return on the investment.  That’s usually how starting a business goes.  I will have to remind myself of that.

 

Internet Business Obstacles

How to Overcome Those Obstacles:

Time constraints – Plan out best use of time, and roll with changes.  There will be things that happen that cannot be controlled, that’s just life.  I can’t change that, but I can continue to strive to make the most of my time.  If I only get an hour, I’ll have a plan for what needs to be done so there won’t be any time wasted trying to figure out what I should be doing.

Frustration – As I learn and figure out how to forge my way ahead, I’ll just have to choose to not let it defeat me.  I’ll go ahead and accept that it is coming.

Here’s the thing, if you are not getting frustrated, you are not trying hard enough, or you are not working on a task that is far enough outside your comfort zone.  Now, that doesn’t mean that all of your tasks have to be hard, or outside your comfort zone.  However, it does mean that when you get frustrated it is usually because you are tackling something that you don’t know well, and you have to work your way through it.  It is probably taking longer than you would like, and you may even feel like you won’t get it.  Understand that if this is taking place, you are LEARNING, so use it.  Let it advance you, because you will learn what works and what doesn’t as far as moving you closer to your Vision.  So, you will get frustrated – USE it.

De-Motivation – Finding peers in my niche/related business is the single-handed best way to beat this obstacle.  I will not feel alone in my struggles and a lot of times peers will either have some ideas for getting through a slump, or at least understand the struggle and be in my corner supporting my efforts to push through.

 

An Important Note About Obstacles

The thing about obstacles is that you will recognize some right from the start, and yet others will pop up along the journey.  The thing that you need to consider is:

Will overcoming this obstacle move me closer to the target, or can it wait?

You don’t have to address every obstacle that comes up.  Think about this.  When I approached product creation, I realized that I didn’t have a method for selling that product yet.  I didn’t have things set up to receive money or a method for folks to purchase a report.  That is an obstacle for my business, but I can put it aside for now because the Target that I am working toward right now is getting the product created.  I need to work on obstacles that stand in the way of that.  See the below graphics (they are not pretty, but they get the point across :) )

Lack of Focus

This first graphic shows how we typically handle obstacles as they pop up.  We work on the ones we think are important.  There is no contemplation on whether or not overcoming that obstacle moves you toward the Target.

Obstacles

Focus Driven

The second graphic shows a focused effort to tackle the obstacles that advance you toward your Target.

Approaching Obstacles with Focus

Can you see how this strategic focused approach will get you to the Target faster?

 

How The Challenge Actually Unfolded

Planning

So, with basically starting from scratch I took to pen and paper to write out my plans.  Following Alex Jeffreys’ training, I planned out my first month and from that I planned my first week, and then my first day.  Every evening, I planned my next day and every Sunday I planned my next week, and toward the end of each month I planned my next month.

What this did was give me direction so I could focus on which tasks I needed to do in what order so I could keep progressing forward towards my Target.

 Blog Challenge Graphic

What Major Tasks Got Done Over the 90 Days?

Three months worth of work is a lot to summarize, so I’ll try to hit on the most important things I did that moved me forward in my business.  Here is a list of the things I did that advanced me toward my Target:

  • Niche selected
  • Site built, secured, optimized, backed-up
  • Figured out how to build a list

-learned email marketing in general

-studied other list builders in my own inbox

  • Info Product Creation
  • Squeeze Page Creation
  • Aweber – signed up and lists set up/optin-forms created

-Learned to utilize list Segments

-Learned to track subscriber sources

  • Picked major forums in my niche – signed up/posted/created signatures and profiles
  • Found blogs in niche, posted relevant comments
  • Assessed competition
  • Learned how to utilize Solo Ads-

-Importance of tracking

-How to create email swipes

  • Foundation for Social Media Presence
  • Submitted Press Release
  • Built Autoresponder series
  • Google Analytics and Webmaster tools
  • Split Testing
  • Graphics – Learning GIMP
  • Videos – Creation and Ranking

-Learning Cam Studio and Windows Movie Maker

-Learning to Upload and Manage on Youtube

  • Building and Understanding Sales Funnel
  • Found Affiliate Products I Could Stand Behind

 

Result – Current State Now

-          Created two 20+ page products – used as freebies for giveaways and solos

-          Reputation – Brand established and continuing to build

-          57 indexed pages of content

-          79 comments

-          203 subscribers

-          1,593 unique visits

-          Google +, Twitter, and Facebook pages supporting the blog

-          2 videos created with Cam Studio and Windows Movie Maker and uploaded to Youtube

-          Incredible peer relationships established

-          9  email autoresponder series

-          6 lists on Aweber, and learned to utilize segmenting

-          Increased knowledge of solo ads, creating email swipes

-          Increased knowledge of creating html squeeze pages

-          Increased knowledge of split testing with Google Analytics

-          Increased knowledge of video creation and uploading/managing on Youtube

 

How Many Hours Did I Work?

I work a full time day job, so commute included I am away from home for approximately 11 hrs four days a week.  Then, I get a three day weekend.  Most of my Fridays are spend working on my business, and much of the weekend as well.  I’ll spend 10-12 hours on a Friday working, and I average around 12 hours spread out through Saturday and Sunday.

During the workweek, I do try to get in anywhere from 1 to 3 hours a day.  I will get up an hour or two early and get work done when it’s quiet.  I’ll also work after dinner for a few hours, but sometimes this is a challenge as there are days where I’m exhausted from the workday or my family needs me.

I also had a few weekends where I was traveling due to a family issue.

So, with all of that being said, I estimate that I spent approximately 3.7 hours a day for 90 days, or 25.67 hours a week for 13 weeks.

 

How Much Did I Spend?

expenses

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

How Much Did I Earn?

A whopping $50! Here’s the deal.  In building out this blog and earning subscribers during this first 90 days I realized that monetizing this blog based on my authority and relationship with folks was going to come in time.  I wasn’t about to gain someone’s trust and start selling selling selling.  Not my style.  My goal is for long term readers and followers of my blog/newsletter.  Establishing relationships and providing value that helps them advance their threshold of knowledge and in doing so earn money when products of mine or affiliate products that I promote fit their needs.

In this first 90 days I dedicated my time to building a brand, a reputation, putting content out there in the form of free reports and blog posts.  I did build sales funnels in a way so that I could earn some income through offers available after people opted in.  I did not see a lot of success with that, but I have not really utilized those funnels much as I only did a few solo ads.  I still have a lot to learn with optimizing that method.

Bottom line here:  I learned early on that I was not going to sacrifice my reputation and how I want my relationship with readers to go for the sake of earning quick short term income.

 

What Overall Lessons Did I Learn?

-   Press Release was biggest waste of time and money

-   Time management could be better

  • Going to get a time tracking software
  • Look at where time is spent, get real ROI numbers, more pressure for productivity and more of a sense of being ‘clocked in’

-  Ignoring SEO and keywords was OK in the beginning, so I could focus on setting up a blog for readers, but as I continue on I will work toward including SEO and keywords in order to get some SE traffic.  Ignoring that is pointless, and I can write for my readers without ignoring keywords.

-  Forums and blogs can suck you into rabbit holes and your productivity suffers. I need more discipline here to stick to a set time for this task

-  Organization of forum and blog participation needs a tool.  I did not fare well on my own.  I will be looking into a tool for this, or either creating my own checklist and schedule.

-  Traffic sucks.  Seriously.  You can put your heart into a site, be a brilliant writer, and have some kickass content…and it means nothing if people aren’t coming to your site.  This isn’t field of dreams…If you build it, they won’t come!  You have to then go out and promote.  I didn’t do anything in my first 90 days to bring in organic SEO traffic.  You might say I am gun-shy after all of Google’s shenanigans.  I will be working to get search traffic in the next 30 days.  I won’t work to get traffic solely from SEs, but I won’t ignore them either.

-  As organized as I tried to be, I could still get better at it.  I would give myself a score of 65 out of 100 for organization and planning during the Challenge.  I tried to plan and stay ahead, but there were far too many times where I sat down to work and fumbled around trying to figure out my priority.  I should not have that.  I should have daily plans so that I know exactly what needs to be done next.  When you have to find time to work, you want to get as much out of that time as possible, not go through the motions of clicking around and not getting something accomplished.

-  Safeswaps was not worth the money after all.  $29 a month wasn’t worth a few solo ads.  I found some solo providers in a Facebook group that I am part of, as well as, on the Warrior Forum.

-  SafeLists like ListJoe, Bweeble and ListBonus were not worth the time.  I got some eyes on my blog, but these folks for the most part don’t seem interested what I am saying.  The thing about traffic from those sources is, if you are in IM, then the folks who visit your site will likely be in your target audience, HOWEVER, they will click your link to and stay on your landing page just long enough to get credit and then bounce.  You see, on those sites you get credits for clicking links from other members, so in essence you have plenty of uniques, but you may wonder why you aren’t getting any comments, conversions, etc.  The reason would be they are just looking for credit, and don’t really care about you or your blog.  This dilutes your analytics, and might make you think your offers or pages need tweaking for higher conversions.  The truth is, your traffic just needs to be more targeted toward an audience who wants to read your info vs one who wants to get credit for clicking on your page.

 

My Plans for Going Forward

-  Implement time tracking software for better time management and to get a better understanding of ROI on each venture

-  Bust ass on some article and video tutorials in an effort to get some organic search engine traffic

-  Organize and schedule, either myself or with a tool, my blog and forum posting.  I need to be a constant presence, not comment once or twice and disappear.

-  More disciplined planning

- Get my solos form Warrior Forum and FB group

- Devote quite a bit of time to making quality videos, not just for ranking but for effective communication to you guys.  This is something outside of my comfort zone for sure, but it is something that I really feel is needed and will help me engage.

- Focus on the short term targets that move me toward my vision.

- Continue honing in laser sharp focus

- Continue keeping you posted

 

 Summary of the Summary :)

That is it for the first 90 day challenge.  I have much more up my sleeve, and will be delivering case-study style information and tutorials to you along the way.  Look for the next 30 day project to come in the next few days.  I will be doing a couple of short term ‘bursts’ over the next few months in an effort to advance me toward my vision – financial freedom!

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17 Responses to “Challenge Summary – 90 Day Blog Challenge”

  1. Anthony says:

    Wow thank you for sharing. This is what i need for my own bussiness. I have learn a lot of your describsion.

    • Stacy says:

      Anthony,

      Set up a challenge for yourself and post it to your blog. It doesn’t have to be 90 days, just find a stretch goal and give yourself a timeline. Working toward that goal in front of an audience will push you in ways you can’t imagine. It’s an incredible growth experience for sure!

      Stacy

  2. Stacy,
    Wow, what a wrap up, what an education. It is amazing to see how much you have learned in just 3 months and I can see the growth in you personally also.

    I hope everyone on your list reads this, because it puts into real personal terms what it takes to learn and become successful at web marketing, vs playing the internet marketing lottery.

    I am looking forward to your 2014 posts.

    • Stacy says:

      Larry,

      Thank you very much!

      I hope everyone on your list reads this, because it puts into real personal terms what it takes to learn and become successful at web marketing, vs playing the internet marketing lottery.

      Bingo my friend. I am so happy that you mentioned that.

      I am working on my plans for tackling 2014. I have a ton more in store, but in an effort to not burn myself out I am taking a quick break through the holidays and I plan to hit it hard after.

      Thanks for stopping by and giving your feedback. I really appreciate it!

      Stacy

  3. Julia says:

    All I can say is thank you for all your hard work and documentation. I was too busy to keep up for the last month, but was also kind of waiting to see what would happen in that 3 month period. Now if only some other helpers out there (nuff said!!) would be so honest!

    About organic SEO, it seems like you went about it the best way. Find keywords after you write your article. Don’t write based on exact keyword phrases. Still, those keywords are what helps to bring in the right organic audience vs. the wrong one.

    In my blog, I focus on green cleaning. But i have targeted a number of high search keywords that are not about ‘green cleaning’, but just ‘cleaning’. so guess what? I have a very high bounce rate, just from that alone.

    Happy Holidays, if you have time : )
    ~Julia

    • Stacy says:

      Julia,

      Thanks for checking in! I hope all is going well with you. I’m trying to take a break for the holidays so I won’t burn myself out…but I can’t seem to stop working!

      I hope you have a great holiday. Be sure to check back after the holidays to see what I have up my sleeve :) .

      Take care,
      Stacy

  4. WOW! Now that is one hell of a post! You shared a lot of great content there and more importantly, learned a LOT from your efforts!

    I know I did;)

    Best regards,
    Darrin

    • Stacy says:

      Darrin,

      I learned SO MUCH! It’s incredible what that increase in knowledge and experience does for your confidence. It’s quite motivating!

      Stacy

  5. luke corden says:

    How’s it going Stacy? I thought I’check in now the initial euphoria of finishing your challenge has subsided. What’s your new plan? I know you’re gonna be pushing on in 2014, right?

    • Stacy says:

      Luke!

      It’s going great my friend. The euphoria really had my head spinning with what I want to tackle next. I am working on my plan for my next phase, but I had to take a little break from the work itself. I put so much time in during the challenge, I didn’t want to burn out and lose my motivation.

      2014 is going to be the year. I am coming out guns blazing and ready to take on the world!!

      Stacy

  6. Bill Darton says:

    Great Work Stacy! You have done a fantastic job of bringing reality to the weird/wild/wonderful world of Internet Marketing.

    FYI, I searched your name after reading one of your testimonials which I believe was on one of Alex Jeffreys’ sites.

    I look forward to hearing more from you in the new year. In the meantime…

    All the best to you and your family during your Holiday break.

    • Stacy says:

      Bill,

      Thank you! Internet Marketing is definitely weird/wild and wonderful! I like that description :)

      Definitely stay tuned, 2014 will be my breakout year and I love sharing the inner workings of what is working and what isn’t.

      Have a great holiday season!

      Stacy

  7. Susan Velez says:

    Hi Stacy,

    Wow seems like you did a lot and learned a lot in 3 months. Now you have an idea of what really works and what doesn’t. I don’t see anything stopping you from reaching your goals in 2014.

    I will definitely be checking back to see what you share with us.

    I look forward to following you reaching your online goals. Have a great day.

  8. Ian says:

    Hi Stacy,

    This is one of the richest blog articles I’ve read in a while — and I read 30+ a day!

    I am inspired to adopt this goal and timeline.

    Thanks for making a positive impact on my day, week, month and potentially next 90 days.

    • Stacy says:

      Ian,

      Thanks so much for the kind words. Your comment actually inspired me to create another 90 day plan! I kind of got derailed for a little bit, which I will be blogging about soon, but I am working toward a different goal at the moment and things are moving along with that…even if they are moving slower than I would like.

      Thanks for stopping by, and making an impact on MY day, week, month and next 90 days!

      Stacy

  9. Hi Stacy,
    Everything you have written there could have been about me! Except for such accurate documentation. I have relied too much on memory for what I did and what I should be doing next.
    I agree 100% about safelists and traffic exchanges. Eyeballs see the site but they don’t want the content, they just want the points towards their next ad. Ironic as no one will read that either.
    Like you, I have self-penned ebooks ready to go behind squeeze pages and offers on the download pages as well as review pages here and there and a bit of concentrated effort over my 6 months since I started brought me a total of $120.
    So as it stands – we’re on a par, which is a great relief to me really. I worked my way through Marketing With Alex (the old one) and it all made sense. I admit to not doing as much as I could (let alone should), so I know I should have done a bit better.

    My aims for next year are more blog hopping, more articles for both my sites and article marketing places, more self penned, bigger products that will include audio and video in the style of Alex, so few personal appearances (I have a great face for audio).

    May I say, all the best to you and keep telling us how you’re getting on. If you have time, please feel free to call back to my site and comment (links are ‘dofollow’ so more SEO juice!).

    Regards,

    Steven Lucas

    • Stacy says:

      Steven,

      I think there are SO many bridges to cross when you are starting out that it seems nearly impossible to hit that home run right out of the gate. In other words, I’m betting 99% of people who put forth the effort we did get around the same results we did. The learning curve in the beginning can beat you to death if you let it! BUT, pushing through and constantly learning, assessing, and moving forward is the way to go, and it sounds like that is exactly what you will be doing. I will as well.

      You nailed it here: “bigger products that will include audio and video in the style of Alex”. Depending on your niche, this is what most people are expecting now. This is exactly what I am doing. I should have my first ‘big’ product ready for launch this month. I’ll keep you posted.

      Thanks for stopping by. I love hearing from you and getting updates on your business.

      Stacy

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