Your First Website Doesn't Have To Be A Home Run

Last Update: February 20, 2018

Image: Working from Pismo Beach over President's Day weekend!

As a new member, it can feel like you're under a lot of pressure to "make money fast" or at least prove to yourself that your WA membership is worth the cost. Why am I spending $49/month if I'm not making money yet? I need to make sure I'm not wasting my time or money here!

While I can sympathize, since was in your position back in 2010 when I joined, I also have some new perspectives after almost 8 years of membership.

One essential piece of advice I learned from my first couple months inside the community is that your first website doesn't have to be a "home run".

  • You don't have to pick the "best niche"
  • You don't have to build a website that will last the rest of your life
  • You don't have to make money with your first business

It's OK To Fail!

I've covered this previously with my post: 5 Failed Websites From Nathaniell but that was just the tip of the iceberg. Over the years I've owned 100+ domains and had 60+ active websites going at one time.

Was it worth it to have that many? No. I'm narrowing it down each year and currently work on just 3 websites.

However, the experiences I gained from failing so many times have been worth the effort. Now I know a lot of what NOT to do, and can dole out advice based on personal experience instead of just repeating what other say. So overall, the many failures of my newbie errors were worth it.

You Can Always Restart

Doing work wrong then having to redo it sucks. It would be a terrible, sinking feeling to work on a website for 3 months, then figure out you don't really like the niche any more or you were making some grave mistakes along the way. Having to "restart" after 3 months of work would make it seem like you just wasted 90 days and $147 dollars (WA membership cost for 3 months).

However, nothing is ever wasted! Here's a blast from the past (2013 post): In Learning, No Time Is Wasted (Tip #3).

Consider this: What took you 3 months the first time around will now take you only 1 months. Next time? 1 week. Now you're a professional WordPress website manager! Oh, and you're also an SEO expert. Oh, and you're also a content marketer that can get paid to write articles on places like UpWork.

So although your first website "failed" you succeeded in LEARNING how to build an online business. Plus, you got some in-demand online marketing skills and are on your way to learning more. (Read more: How Much Are Your Online Business Skills Worth?

A Few Months VS A Lifetime!

Let's get back to the common misconception that your first website has to be awesome. Realistically, a few months won't make that much of a difference in your lifetime. It may seem like a long time now, but in 10, 20, 30 years, you won't even think twice about it.

When I start a new challenge, I always ask myself the The 10 Years Question (my own invention!). The idea is that if I failed at this for 10 years but then suddenly became a success would it be worth it?

In other words, if I failed at building a good niche website for a long time but then suddenly became a success and could enjoy the rest of my life as a "success" would it be worth it? For most people, the answer is yes.

Don't look at the near future of making mistakes. Look at the long term future of "getting it".

Don't Feel Pressure

In other words, don't feel pressure to be an instant success with your first website. It quite possibly could just a be a domain that expires next year or a project you laugh at a couple years down the road.

In fact, let's just assume it's going to bomb (it might not). Who cares? The next one will be better. And the next one even better. And so on....

The point is, whether or not your first website makes money isn't important.

What's important is that you are taking the first steps to learning how to build an income generating online business. Take your time, engage in the process, and keep your eye on long term goals (while taking short term action).

Experienced members: Was your first website an instant success?

New members: Were you afraid to start your first website because you thought it would fail?

Join the Discussion
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Recent messages
DClay6 Premium
Great post. Just what I needed as a new-ish member. I feel like I am taking my time with my first niche (could be good thing or a bad thing) because I want it to succeed. I know this is a niche I am passionate about, that isnt the question. Its getting it to work so that I dont fail and have to resort to a niche I am less passionate about.
nathaniell Premium
If you are passionate about it, you can doubly take your time. All content you create now will still be online in 10 years, so make sure it's good, otherwise (like me), you'll have to go back and edit the low-quality stuff. That can be a real bummer.
jvranjes Premium
So I still have a long way to go; I also have 3 sites which I am working on, but have only 2 abandoned (so far).

Assuming that you have had success and failures in niche sites, what is the best strategy? What kind of sites to build, lists only or individual posts, mixture perhaps? How broad to go? Lists posts site imply a very broad niche otherwise the number of such posts becomes limited.

I have an issue of a very narrow niche site, so now have no items to write about. The site will eventually die out I guess. What to do with it, how to prolong its life? The title is such that it limits the niche.

Perhaps I am overusing this place, sorry.
nathaniell Premium
Those middle questions would require some in-depth answers Jovo! Send me a PM and we can go over them.

Discovering your niche site is too narrow can be a problem, but I don't see an issue with expanding content outside of the narrow title.

I had a website about motion sensor sprinklers that did OK, and I expanded it to be an "anti critter invasion" website. I made some sales of electronic critter repellers even though the domain name didn't match. People don't care about the domain name so much if the content is relevant.
MiaL Premium
Thanks for the perspective Natahaniel. As someone who wants everything right now I have to keep reminding myself of this. I’ve been here for less than 3 months. I bought a domain and treated that as my “training” website. Whilst I don’t love it, I view it as the way that I learnt how to do it. I may return to it in the future, or I may not. I bought my 2nd domain 7 weeks ago (feels like I’ve had it forever!?) and I could write about it every day. Setting it up was so much easier the second time - that first website taught me how.

Anyway, thanks so much for your perspective. I always value hearing from the experienced members about their trials and tribulations over the years.
nathaniell Premium
Sounds like you're pretty happy with those three months of "training" Melissa. It really can be helpful to do things that way. It's just a hard sales pitch to tell new members "Work for three months, then start over" LOL

Best of luck with your new site!
hagstf Premium
Hi Nathaniell
Thank you for writing this post.

When new and just starting out, you keep hearing "don't quit, don't give up" but that doesn't mean you have to stay with a niche that clearly isn't right for you.

I learned that lesson the hard way and stayed with my first niche way too long.

As I read this post it reminded me of an old saying.

Not sure if I am quoting correctly but it goes something like this:
"I am the overnight success that was 10 years in the making"

Let's hope it doesn't take that long though :)
nathaniell Premium
It's SUPER hard to tell if you should quit a niche and start a new (better) site, or stick with the plan and see it through. To this day, I don't have great advice of what to do in the situation.

Sounds like you are confident about your decision, even if it was later than you'd have liked. That's a step in the right direction man.
cbarnes1 Premium
Great advice.

It sucks to fail but in the end you should learn from the mistakes.

First mistake for me was picking a free theme and then having to change to a better one.

Second mistake was changing hosts a couple times.

Whatever things that you do should be based on the long term.
nathaniell Premium
Those all sound like familiar problems I went though. I cycled through several hosts and themes in the beginning. Now I have my standard things I use for my business and I don't have to think about those aspects so much.