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.
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.