This is a guest post by Nate at IMfuse. I think he offers some great advice on some of the more motivational aspects of being to becoming self-employed full-time. As a caveat, obvsiouly being self-employed full-time is not for everyone. However, these are certainly some great points that can help many of you stay motivated.
I’d be willing to guess that anyone reading Spencer’s blog who is actively engaged in building niche sites outside of the time commitments of a “real job” has aspirations of developing that part-time work into a full-time reality. Most of us begin this journey because of the vision and hope associated with developing a successful online business that has the power to change some part of our lives through increasing our income, providing us with location independence, or freeing us from trading an hour for a wage through passive income.
I feel very fortunate to have been able to scale up my sites to a full-time income and I’ve been able to walk away from holding a “real job”. As with most internet marketers who make the leap, there have been successes and failures, challenges and rewards. Running your own business isn’t for everyone. There are inherent risks in any type of business and as Spencer has mentioned several times before here at Niche Pursuits, building niche and authority sites is no different. However, if you do want to eventually take the plunge and can accept the risks, I wanted to share what I feel are the top three challenges for aspiring full-time internet marketers and how you can begin to tear down those walls.
For anyone wanting to scale their sites up to a full-time income, the single biggest challenge is time. Perhaps you have a demanding day job, friends, family, children, and a host of other commitments. How do you find the time to put in the effort to take your sites from earning a few extra bucks a month to providing enough to cover the bills? In my experience, building and growing a business, even on the internet, is most often anything but “passive”. If you want to keep growing and earning more revenue each month, you’re going to need to be effective with the time that you do have to work on your sites.
The most critical element of my success in going from part-time to full-time was effective management of my time. I worked a little on my business every day of the week while I was making that transition. But it wasn’t working on my business every day that made the difference. It was knowing exactly what I was going to do each time I sat down at my computer.
I laid out a schedule for each week prior to the beginning of that week. For each day of the week, I had a set of specific action steps to take. In the early days, it was broken down into “types” of actions, for example, writing content, link building, keyword research for new sites, etc. By grouping these types of actions together, I was much more effective. If I sat down to write content for site A, it was much more efficient to also write content for site B once I was in that “creative” frame of mind than to start building links for site A.
Know exactly WHEN you are going to sit down and work on your sites and exactly WHAT you are going to do. The schedule kept me on track. It held me accountable. Instead of watching TV in the evenings, the schedule told me I had a “job” to get to. Of course, you have to have some time for fun or you’ll burn out on it, but schedule in what you know you can handle and then hold yourself accountable for those time slots.
Additionally, never include activities like checking email and reading your favorite internet marketing blogs during this scheduled time. I used to start my niche site working sessions with a quick email and Twitter check and would burn an hour before realizing it. There are far too many tasks like this that can be done on a mobile device at other times throughout the day to litter your action time with them.
One of the biggest mistakes I see beginning and part-time internet marketers making is not treating their activities as a business. When we see our internet marketing activities as a “hobby” that may or may not pay off down the line, we lack the serious belief and focus required to truly feel that the sacrifice now will be worth it later on. In order to go from “dabbling” to full-time, you need to commit to treating your niche sites as a business. I’m not saying that you need to run out and file for an LLC, I’m referring simply to a state of mind.
This creates a range of potential complications that can prolong the journey from part-time to full-time, but the area where it impacts that process the most is in not re-investing in the “business”. Now, I’m a proponent of executing most of the activities associated with building, ranking, and monetizing your first couple of niche sites on your own so that you can learn the fundamentals of the process. However, once you’re ranking and earning through your first few sites, the most efficient and effective way to scale up your income is to keep creating new sites. And if you want enough sites to provide a full-time income, you will reach a point where you simply cannot create all the content and build all the links.
I got comfortable early on with taking a portion (sometimes up to 50%, but even now up to 25%) of my earnings and re-investing them into content and link building for new and existing sites. Learn how to effectively outsource on a small scale with some test projects and over time, you’ll learn the ropes well enough to apply it to most of the activities required to run your sites.
The biggest hang up I had when I was debating whether or not I should make the leap to full-time was always doubting whether or not I had gained the necessary skills to become successful. The internet marketing industry changes rapidly. Google makes algorithm changes and we spend hours trying to find a guru who can make sense of the latest chaos. It causes us to doubt our instincts and the foundation of knowledge we’ve built. This constant doubting can keep us prolonging the journey indefinitely.
Throughout my time in internet marketing, the most important lesson I’ve learned is that the only constant is change. The internet is an incredibly dynamic landscape where information is created and then shared worldwide in seconds. It very much goes against the grain of traditional professions like accounting or law where the old standards evolve over years and decades. Face it: you’re never going to know everything there is to know about this industry. And you know what? No one else does either. We’re always trying to evaluate the changes happening around the internet at any given time and all we can do is inform ourselves and set aside time for professional development each week.
For the last year and a half, I have dedicated Friday afternoons to catching up on trends and news in internet marketing and thinking about how that might affect my business. But I don’t dwell on it. For the most part, I keep doing what I’m doing and modify that with a tweak here or there, making one measurable change at a time.
Regarding confidence, again, running your own business isn’t for everyone. However, the one realization I had that gave me the push I needed was that nothing is permanent. Even in the most stable corporate environments, there are no guarantees that our job will be there tomorrow. Make peace with the unknown and you’ll develop much more confidence both in your day job and in building your own business.
I would also highly recommend engaging with other aspiring or current full-time internet marketers through a private community or mastermind group. I was fortunate enough to be part of a great four-person mastermind group early on in my journey and having the opportunity to exchange ideas and share concerns was vital in reducing the time it took me to go full-time.
The road to “full-time” isn’t easy. But if you’re willing to make the necessary sacrifices, put in the time, and commit to continual professional development, you can increase your odds of success. I can tell you that in the long run, it’s all worth it.
Nate is a full-time internet marketer with both niche and authority sites. He is a member of team imFuse, a site dedicated to providing actionable information for niche and authority site builders. You can subscribe to the imFuse newsletter and get the first three videos from their premium Niche Site Video Training Series for free!
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