6 Years At WA
So August 2018 was my sixth year at WA, and I decided it'd be good to write a post about it.
It's going to be really hard to write this post without using "Time Flies", so I'll just put it in the first sentence to get it out of the way.
Time really does move quickly though.
When I first started, I never would have thought I'd stick around for six years. I didn't exactly expect to quit either, it's just that six years it's such a long time, it doesn't enter your imagination.
In reality though, it goes past quite quickly.
And that's a very good thing.
You're told when you first join WA that this is going to take time, and you think "Good, that means it's something legitimate and worth building."
You might also come across members like me who've been there and done that and are literally a testimonant to what happens when you stick at this for years.
But at the same time, you're probably hungry for success, you just want to make a little bit of money to validate that this thing works.
And knowing that you might have to wait a year to reach that success is a killer.
So back when I was new to WA and I saw people who had been here for years, I had mixed emotions. On the one hand, I thought it was awesome what they had achieved and knew that if I stuck to it, I would achieve it too.
On the other hand, I really didn't want to have to wait that long...
But there's good news.
Six years have flown by, and here I am, writing to you as if you are my former self.
I've seen some really good anniversary posts in my time here too. Nate-not-really-Nate (@nathaniell) does some pretty good ones, and Veronica and Labman have done some good ones too. There are others, but these are the first ones that come to mind.
Usually these posts are a reflection on the past year, and I think that's why they're so helpful, but since I've started this post talking to the newcomers here and to "my younger self", I thought I'd do a quick recap on the various things I experienced in each year of WA, it might help put some context onto the timeline.
This was probably the craziest year of all. I came in with realisic expectations that turned out to not be very realistic. I'm too much of an optimist and totally thought I'd be earning a few thousand bucks a month within a few months.
In reality I didn't earn $1,000 per month in my first year.
I think you absolutely CAN earn $1,000 per month in your first year, but I made mistakes and had shiny object syndrome and basically for whatever reason, didn't crack $1,000 per month until year 2.
I think at some point though I decided to just accept this as a milestone that I would hit sooner or later, rather than trying to hit it by a certain point. There's no ceiling to how much you can earn online, so why put limitations on the time it takes you to hit certain goals?
Another useful thing in my first year was that I was pretty much broke when I joined WA. I did have a job, but it was just enough to pay for my monthly expenses etc, and I had some credit card debt too, so most of my leftover income went towards paying off that debt.
I think the gamechanger for me was the Black Friday promotion in November 2012, when I paid for 1 year of WA for $299. I wasn't using Jaaxy at the time either, so basically my entire expenses were sorted for a year. With WA I had training, hosting, and a keyword tool, so I basically just had to invest my own time writing content and learning how to rank my websites.
This meant that I knew I didn't have to worry about when my income arrived, as long as it started to pick up by the time my next WA fee came around.
I belive I ended year 1 making around $650 per month, but it was pretty inconsistent.
This was also a year where I tried everything. I did some writing gigs at places like iWriter, I tried making money from Squidoo and using CPA networks. Ultimately my success came when the WA training finally started paying off and one of my first content websites started earning commissions.
Shout out to @VitaliyG (called him Vitality, he loves it), for introducing me to the affiliate offer that made me my first $500 month.
After 18 months of online business, I finally hit my first $1,000 month in year 2. It was incredible to hit it, because it was such a huge milestone. $500 per month told me "This business model works and I can keep going" but $1,000 told me "I might actually be able to do this full time".
I don't really have a whole lot more to say about year 2. It was pretty much just me practicing what I had been learning for so long and growing it.
I did start HumanProofDesigns in year 2 though, which went on to earn me a lot of money, so that is something I must include in this year. Steve @ivetriedthat and Nate @nathaniell were big helps with this back then too because they helped give me a lot of advice with starting that site.
It was the first time I'd started an "authority site" and built a brand rather than just an affiliate site, so I didn't even know how out of my depth was back then haha.
A lot of the time with internet marketing, you need to just learn as you go. You learn 10x faster this way though.
I had set a lofty goal of $3,000 per month in year 3. It took me a long time to hit it, because it takes time to scale and grow a business, but ironically, after hitting $3,000, it didn't take me very long before I hit $10,000. I think it was around 4-5 more months.
This was the first year that I felt "Wow, I've actually cracked this online business thing". I finally felt like efforts were starting to pay off.
I can't really share particular strategies I did or tactics I recommend. It was really just a case of me getting better at internet marketing, doing more outreach, getting my name out there as a blogger, and things like this.
It just takes time to establish yourself as an authority.
This year was hard. Ironically, I had got pretty good at sales, and HPD was struggling to fulfil the services we were offering. I wasn't very good at building teams, and even though we had people lining up to pay us money, they were just going straight out the other door having had a bad experience.
Eventually, I hired a "right hand man" (and paid him a salary of more money than I thought I'd ever even earn myself). Together we built up a team and within 6 months the "operations" arm of the business was the most efficient part.
I think the scariest part of building a team though is the responsibility. If you don't earn any money the next month, you have a bunch of people you still need to pay, and that is a daunting prospect, one that I definitely lost a lot of sleep over.
At the same time though, having a team is what drives your business forward and what helps you take the next leap.
Looking back, I've often thought "If I could have gone down a different path where I didn't start a service-based business and could just run an affiliate site, I probably would have gone that way"
But at the same time, having a brand and an authority and a huge email list means I don't have to fear Google penalties or traffic dips, because people will always be interested in what we have to offer.
There are definitely pros and cons to running your own services/products vs being an affiliate.
This was probably the first year that things felt a bit more stressful, because when your business has been around for a while, you get more competitors, and sales start to dip unless you are able to keep yourself relevant.
The "Oh you guys are new, sounds interesting" novelty wears off and things start to normalize.
At the same time, you now have a big team and the pressure to increase revenue is even higher.
But, in year 5 I also had educated myself and grown my team and then educated my team to the point where the business doesn't just rely on me for it to make money (which is why I have time to write this epic post ha).
I think mindset is important, whether you're in day 1 or year 10, because the internet moves quickly and you don't want to get complacent.
At the end of the day, a beginner needs to have the mindset that they can do this and they can make it work, and that mindset applies to experienced people too.
This year has mostly been about rediscovering marketing and refining offers, because as I mentioned, in year 5 things got tricky and in year 6 I want to work on diversifying income.
My team and I have been growing our own affilite portfolio again so that we now have a figure figure income from our sites, and HumanProofDesigns' services aren't our sole source of income.
I don't want to have to fire people if one income source ever dries up, and I've realized that my biggest asset is my team, so it makes sense to combine these things and scale up the business in other areas.
It's very strange looking back at what I wrote about year 1 and what mattered to me, and looking at year 6 and what matters to me.
It really is a case of time flying, and you growing and developing as you go.
That's kind of the message I was saying at the beginning too. You might not be able to imagine what your life will be like in a few years time, and it is probably a daunting thing to do.
Right now you might just be thinking "Man, I'd love to earn $1,000 per month" and it seems like a mammoth task.
But every day that you work on this business you are growing, even if you're not growing your income yet. It's all a process and a time will come where you look back and think "Wow, crazy how I used to be obsessed with earning $1,000 per month and now I have completely different problems".
The only thing you have to do is just keep going.