A 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.
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.
Establish 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.
- 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.
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.
The second graphic shows a focused effort to tackle the obstacles that advance you toward your Target.
Can you see how this strategic focused approach will get you to the Target faster?
How The Challenge Actually Unfolded
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.
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?
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!