I passed my four year anniversary at WA a couple of weeks ago, and I only noticed because I got one of those notifications from Adsense about having used them for 4 years.

Time flies!

I was thinking back to the things I thought about when I first came in through the WA doors, which were very different back then, and how much of it lived up to my expectations.

Back then I was a 27-year old who was supposed to be a fully-fledged adult, but who hadn't really found his way yet. I expect in another 4 years time I will look back at my 31-year old self in a similar light though!

Finding wealthy affiliate definitely changed my life, hands down. However, I'd say it was a tool and a guardian that helped walk me through the journey in those early days. It certainly laid out a path as well.

Only I could actually follow the path and take those steps though. You get out of WA exactly what you put in, and by that what I mean is, you have to keep going, keep learning, and grow.

Don't get distracted by ambassadorship like so many of us do (I was rank 8 for a while, before I realized I was getting upset about my ranking slipping, and decided to just let it slip some more).

To be honest though, WA was like a drug in the first few months, and I think that's a large part of what keeps beginners going at such blistering pace. How many times do you see someone who is new here saying they're on their 5th article for the day? It's incredible, I can barely write 5 a week now, and I drag my feet about 5 a month.

Anyway, let's get some structure going to this post. I want to talk about some things I thought/hoped about myself, WA, and my internet marketing future when I first joined, and how much they lived up to reality.

Bear in mind this is just my reality and everyone gets a different experience.

I Thought It Would Be Much Easier

I remember the goals thread. I don't remember all the details I wrote, but I do remember that one of my goals was $1,500 per month within 6 months.

This isn't THAT unrealistic, but it actually took me 18 months. I mean, it took me 6 months just to really get a handle on what I was doing and for my sites to start gaining any real momentum.

I see people all the time in the goals thread setting all sorts of different goals. Some people make ridiculous claims (a million a month in 3 months working 2 hours a week), and others set ones that are more achievable, but actually somewhere short ($500 per month only).

Goals are great because it really is true that the act of putting your goals out there in the world makes them more achievable, but it can also be frustrating when you don't quite hit them, especially when you are a beginner and you're looking for proof that this thing works.

Equally, your income doesn't go up in a straight line. You could have an article on page 2 of Google after 9 months, but then on month 10 it hits page 1. Your income would jump up overnight with all the extra traffic you get, but in month 9 you'd have been thinking "This is never going to happen for me".

I think a recurring theme of my early months (years?) was expecting bigger results than I really got. Every time I found a new keyword with good search volume I'd imagine the buckets of traffic I was going to get, and I'd think about how much money I'd earn when 90% of that traffic converted.

Doesn't quite work out like that in reality. You can get big traffic, you can earn big bucks, but it's just going to take longer than you expect.

As an aside: The time it takes you is still a very short time. My company is only 3 years old and now on course for $500,000 in revenue in 2016, that's huge..I just thought it would only take a week back when I started.

Your Biggest Problems Will Be Internal

Leading onto my next point, I realized that most people's problems are internal. You might be focused on why your rankings aren't increasing yet, or why your traffic isn't earning you money, or why you can't write good content, or whatever your external problem is.

Dealing with these problems is fine in the long run because your content DOES get better, your rankings DO go up (sooner or later) and the money DOES come...as long as you can convince yourself to keep at it. This might mean trying something different, investigating better, and generally improving your skills...it doesn't really matter what you have to do as long as you can keep yourself doing it.

The internal problems you face are a lot more emotional and can be harder to overcome.

When you are frustrated about your rankings, what you are thinking inside might be...

....Am I really going to succeed at this?

....Am I actually a good marketer?

....Is my time being wasted?

....Will I have to admit defeat and deal with the inevitable crushing feelings of failure?

I know I felt these fears a LOT in the beginning, and even today I still sometimes feel like I'm just a guy who is playing at marketing rather than actually quite good at it.

This afflicts us all. I read recently that even Agatha Christie, after becoming one of the best selling authors of all time, felt that she was just pretending to be an author.

My suggestion for overcoming this fear is to collect all your little wins and keep them in your mind when you have doubts.

Like "six months ago I didn't even know what Wordpress was and now I can build a site in an hour" ...whatever you can use to remind yourself how far you've come.

Seriously, learning to address this fear/doubt/emotion is going to make you stronger..and not just in business.

I do the same when I have a bad day running. I might be frustrated because I didn't hit the time I wanted, or worse, I had to stop and take a breather earlier than planned. I just remind myself that a few weeks before I couldn't run anywhere near the same distance or time, and it's all a process of improvement.

I usually smash that time on the next run.

And Finally...You Never Know Where This Will Take You

When I first started out, I just wanted to have a few affiliate sites making me passive income. I still like that idea, but I accidentally went and built a company with a growing team and growing sales.

I appear on podcasts, guest posts, various large websites, and I'm considered an influencer in my space.

Many friends have got into affiliate marketing because they've seen what I've created, and I like to think I've earned a bit of respect off the back of that!

I say this because building a business was the best thing I ever did. All the hangups and issues I had in my life suddenly seem very conquerable. I have more confidence in everything and I know that I can achieve a lot now because I've learned how to keep going and get better at something little by little.

I was getting so out of shape until I realized that going to the gym was so easy compared to building a business. In business, you have no idea what will work and what won't work.

With the gym, all you have to do is go! It's so easy!

So I think my final thoughts here would be that when I look back on my past four years, I think to myself "wow, didn't see that coming" and I definitely didn't see it panning out like this.

You will be the same when you look back at your own journey, whether it's 4 years from now or 4 minutes from now. You might not look back on your journey as favorably as I look back on mine, and that's ok, because the journey has twists and turns and we analyze it way too much.

I guess what I really want to say is that if you're here and you're working on this here business thing, understand the potential it has to change your life, your personality, and your wealth.

I've had a few hobbies before, this one is definitely the best.

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LilibethT Premium
Thank you for that great words of encouragement. It sure is tough when we are new to this business and we have heard about people's successes and yours but not sure if we could attain that with our efforts (although !'m speaking for myself here). But I will keep moving forward and not give up! God bless to all your endeavors!
Lbath5 Premium
Dom, Congratulations on your success and thank you for sharing your thoughts on how you achieved success. I agree we will all get there at our own pace, but it is always good to hear from someone that did not give up.
I am going to bookmark this for when I need a little boost of confidence or a dose of reality.
Best wishes on your continued acheivements.
AfqmBiz Premium
Dom, thanks for your input that just those pieces I am looking around to mix it up. I am giving myself around two years. 1st year, learning, giving yourself an education apply then try master.

then it is time finding the water test it yourself. Along the way require learning different ball game arts and pick it up from someone that willing to guide in any means possible to help ensure the "picture we draw" gets very much our own style.

I found last week when some result starts to trigger us, it is time for me to swim to reach all aspirations as the 2nd year all about applying then measuring our enterprise dealing. if the signal is correct, I will be experiencing same things you shared above.

My school of thought and learning always a hard-knock type surviving with only a fishing rod not a fish on the plate. Like some parts, you show me off just reapplying what works for you. When start getting to the level you are in, it is time for me to share "way to do it" for someone to be on the same path we've been through before. Thanks for your simply brilliant input above :)
feigner Premium
Thanks for that Dom, i have come across a few of your other posts and thought - he's someone to follow but never did.
This time i will.
congratulations on your achievements, as you say half of the time it is a thought process that will cause you to quit. being able to get through this will help you achieve the goals you want.
i think i am at the point where i need to step up or step out, although i am paid up till year after next so....
with the help and support you get on here it can keep you going when times are tough
again thanks for the post
Me4TheWin Premium
Thank you, Dom! This was exactly the motivational article I needed to read today. I'm coming up on 5 months with WA, and still having so many internal struggles. It really helps to hear that this is normal, and to get some tips for turning my thinking around. Wishing you much continued success!

NEH Premium
Dom, this was just the best time I could have read this post. I find your blogs really encouraging and I really relate very much to everything you've said. It's funny, I've been at WA since August 2015 and I definitely thought it would be quicker, I think when I started I thought I could definitely make some reasonable money within a few months... slowly, the reality did start to come into focus - I was going to be in this for the long game. My journey started slower than it should have done, because I started on several sites over a few months initially - but it was all a learning curve and I'm still learning every day. Thanks!
Ardjuna90 Premium
Such an inspiring post, thank you for sharing! I feel like you, when you started out. Optimistic ideas and ideals.. I haven´t really spent any time on WA the past couple of months and feel guilty for not doing so. Getting back into it is more difficult than I thought. Reading your story makes me want to put in the effort again. I will continue!
seanchase Premium
Wow is this blog is a real eye opener, to say the least. To go so far as how you did and the successes that you've achieved, that still remains a dream for so many. You set yourself apart from the rest by your actions and results. In turn you came back here to say in so many words if I can do it, you can do it too! Thanks for sharing!
BeMyExpert Premium
Fantastic insights, realistic expectations and I am still inspired I CAN DO it!

I don't care if I have to work my J.O.B. for 6 more years and when I am done I only have HALF the success you do (250K earnings in 2022)... I'll TAKE it!

Thanks for being frank about the work involved. I am committed to 3 hours per day 7 days a week. That's a lot with my other JOB but find you and following you is like finding a gold nugget on the ground:

I'm on the right path!

Thank you so much!!
NWTDennis Premium
Not sure if you meant this 4 year look back to be motivational or just an honest review of your path to success. Either way, your willingness to share speaks loudly to one of the hidden benefits of being part of this incredible training platform we call WA.

That is being a part of the WA community. Thank you for sharing Dom. Your insight and advice are definitely inspiring.
Donnie58 Premium
Excellent motivational post, Dom! I needed this.

I've been at Wealthy Affiliate two years now and would probably be earning some money if I hadn't went down some dead-end roads.

I believe I'm on the right track now, but it's like starting all over again!

This post encouraged me! Thanks!
LLiu Premium
Hi Dom,
I really enjoyed reading your journey here at WA. I totally agree with all that you have said of the ups and downs of the journey to success. WA is so amazing and not to give up on your dream of what ever it may be.

My hat is off to you Dom and all your determination and drive. You have expressed in such a way of how a person can achieve and how disappointment will keep a person from succeeding in there dream and goals of success!

I hope you will keep on achieving the success and goals that you want in your life and happiness! You most certainly have not only helped others here at WA, but have given each of us what one can achive if we just don't give up.

Blessings to you,

Linda :)
seanchase Premium
How beautifully said.
Anh Premium

What an inspirational post. I always love hearing about mindset shifts from the successful folks like you.

I've been working on my online business for a year and can relate to most of the things you said. I'm still on my way though, and have so much more to learn and overcome.

I couldn't agree more on your second point about how your biggest problems are internal. Most days when I'm working and planning out my campaigns, I'd ask myself if I really have what it takes, how can people buy from me, I'm not a good communicator or influencer etc. although rationally speaking, I know I've gotten very far from where I began. And if I keep going, I can make something out of it.

Thanks for sharing!

3chas80 Premium
Wow, quite impressive Dom! It is inspiring to hear people who are this successful putting it all out there to share with all of us.

Thanks for allowing us to know how awesome WA has been for you!

I truly hope to somehow achieve something close to what you have. A truly amazing story! Congratulations on your success!

gappleby Premium
Excellent post, Dom. Congratulations on your success, and - in a way - more so on the progress that created it. Doing the right things, adjusting when things aren't working and staying with it absolutely pays off, doesn't it?

You've simplified your journey beautifully. And the cool thing is that there's nothing that you did that anyone at Wealthy Affiliate can't do, too. You've shared nothing that is extraordinary, superhuman or out of anyone's reach. We just have to choose.

Thank you for that and again, congratulations.

And the best is yet to come, you know.

The Entrepreneur
weemrst Premium
Hi Dom. Just want to say, if I may, that this post is by far the best I have read during my 3 months membership. Anything else that I could write might sound cringeworthy so I will end it there and thank you for a very level-headed and well worded post. Take care.
BushiAntz Premium
Well done, Dom on continuing to grow as a entreprenuer. Sometimes it really is refreshing to hear that someone of your level or even Kyle's level still find difficulties with your business.

Since I have spoken to you within Private messaging & I have read quite a lot of your articles, what are 2 things that you would tell yourself 4 years ago if you could go back. (Not to do with money just 2 things you would general tell yourself).
ShanLeigh Premium
Hi Dom,

I just joined Human Proof Designs and had my first lesson. You can never learn too much when it comes to affiliate marketing. Looking forward to the rest of them, as I do promote Amazon on my site.

So good to hear what you have been capable of within four years and I hope I have success in the future as well.
VinceP1 Premium
Good post Dom ! Very down to earth and very inspirational.

Things do take time, but you have to keep with it and evolve as you learn more. Life is learning after all.

Many folks are too hard on themselves. I like the part about reminding yourself about your little successes. Excellent point.
Mark Tait Premium
Good reminder Dom.

I too once noticed my rank was under 20 - then I realised I wasn't working on my business - so now I'm comfortable with helping here, and working for myself (and learning from others).

I saw your post come up as I was adding to my Christmas site - which I actually started last year. However, it was too late in the year to do anything for 2015 - but I already knew that. I was planting a seed for this year, and next year, and the next...

I've seen loads of people come here (and other places) setup a site and just expect money to come flooding in the next week... that's just what some of the so called guru's promise - not real life.

Building an online business needs just as much effort as building any business - but if you learn a little every week (or every day) and put it into practise, then you can't look back in a couple of years and say "if only I'd tried...".

I'm plugging away at my Christmas site just now - later tonight, I'll be working on my author sites for another angle - my hobby site for the night sky is still a hobby - but has great potential, maybe into next year - for creating an income.

My booking and travel site is still earning after 14/15 years.

I love doing all this - it's a professional hobby :)

I continue to follow you and your HPD site in particular for great insights into what works, what doesn't... and just generally some great info on building a business.

All the best, Mark
Everlight Premium
Thanks Dom for such an inspiring post :) Just a quick question.

Back then where you're just started into the affiliate marketing world, did you ever have 'certain feel' that Wealthy Affiliate will 'change your life drastically into something much better'?

Sorry if it sounds a bit strange question.

DomW Premium
I had hope and I kind of knew that if I kept at it something might happen, but I don't think I really believed it deep down.