3 Years at WA, leaving my 9-5 job, and becoming truly independent.
Hi friend and Welcome aboard!
(That's my greeting for each of my articles on my website)
"In this age, which believes that there is a shortcut to everything, the greatest lesson to be learned is that the most difficult way is in the long run, the easiest."
This is going to be a long post, so be forewarned. I think it'll be worth it though ;) Hey I'm a writer what can I say. Also, people on my other blogs seemed to really be inspired and encouraged by what I had to say, so I thought I would continue that. What a better time than 3 years at WA this month (December 2017). Rest assured I still would have written this regardless, because getting my thoughts out has become very therapeutic and liberating for me. Heh. If you care to delve into a couple of my other posts:
I really don't know where to begin. To start off, it's been a roller coaster journey for me at WA, but I can tell you it's worth it. A lot has happened in 3 years, and it's not always pretty and doesn't always feel good.
- I left both of the jobs I previously had. The first was the bakery job that I had for roughly 3 years. I was able to resign after making more money online than I was making there on weekends. That was a great milestone because I proved to myself I could do it.
- The second was leaving my steady job at Strawbridge Studios, the one that replaced the bakery job because they offered me more money and it was more in line with what I went to school for. The way it happened was a little different than simply giving my two weeks. I asked God to give me a date to leave, because as frustrated as I was there, I still felt like it would be reckless and irresponsible to just up and leave without the proper provisions in place to make up for it (i.e. money lol).
Leaving my job
So on July 13th, 2017, I woke up and felt different. I felt refreshed like I hadn't felt in a long time. I knew something different was going to happen that day, but didn't know what it was. Long story short, I was called into the general managers office and he laid me off. The thing about it is that I had been telling people for months that it was going to happen, whether I resigned or they fired me. You know what I'm talking about. You just have that feeling deep down that things in your life are about to shift. "Don't be surprised if I'm gone tomorrow.", I told my friends. Luckily it wasn't a termination and the feeling on both sides was mutual. "You're not happy, we're not happy." I immediately agreed with him, and the meeting lasted for all of a minute and a half. It was the quickest and swiftest exit I've ever made at a job, and it felt right. God made it so easy. I didn't even have to choose a day, he chose for me! :)
Your mileage may vary
For anyone new reading this, your mileage may vary. Some people have an easier time transitioning, making money and eventually making a living out of this, and others don't.
I really haven't experienced my income take off like I imagined it would. It's been more of a steady incline, with a few really good months, some really bad months, and a lot of struggling lately.
When my site first started gaining traction, it was a like a plane taking off. What I realized after December of 2016 is that marketing isn't quite what I thought it was, and doesn't quite always work like you think it's going to, or should.
When I first started, I had this idea in my head that once I make enough from this website to quit my job, I will pursue other ventures and expand my empire so to speak.
While that part of it has come to fruition, there was something I didn't understand back then. Working on your site doesn't end. You can't just sit on your laurels. Ever. Being immature 3 years ago, I thought that once I made a certain amount online, I would always make that every month going forward.
And that's part of the myth that's perpetuated throughout the online world. People make it seem like this glorious endeavor that requires no work. Nothing could be farther from the truth. There's no "easy way out."
"Make money in your sleep!" "Work 4 hours a week!" "Make 30,000 in one month with this one easy hack!"
Now there are certainly cases where people find quick success and skyrocket their income, but for the vast majority of people, it's a slow process that requires endurance and persistence.
After my best month in December of last year, traffic started going down. In December I made just over $2000, and reached my goal for the year. January income went down, and in February I made like $600. Lol.
That made me question myself, the site, my goals, and gave me a dose of reality. "Am I really cut out for this?" "Where is the disconnect?"
In reality, there's nothing "steady" about working for yourself. It's a constant grind, and you're accountable. No one's there telling you to clock in, go to lunch, go on break, get this done, do that, etc. You're truly on your own, and while it is liberating, it can be frustrating when you feel like you're putting in the work and nothings happening.
When I left Strawbridge, I wasn't scared even though I had no 9-5 steady job anymore. I was excited, especially because the busy season was coming up.
What I wasn't prepared for was an onslaught of issues.
A few things happened that in hindsight seem minor, but were a pretty big deal to me. The major thing that happened was that the theme I'd been using since my sites inception went down for good, with no updates.
When I first found out about it, I Ignored Nathaniell's advice to switch themes even though I had a bad feeling about it. Thanks to support, I was able to re-install the theme and go on my merry way. A couple weeks later the theme went down for good, and my site appeared blank on the server. Nothing. Nada. Support came to the rescue again, and I began the arduous process of transferring everything to a new theme.
Part of this was fairly simple, but Amazon's new image policy had me scrambling to fix all of my images and deleting most of them from my site. The entire process took about a week, and in that time my traffic dropped to all time lows on a couple of different days. No big deal, I thought, as because Some of the plugins were missing (All in one SEO pack), that was part of what contributed to Analytics showing hardly any users.
I had a bunch of other issues that I had to sort through, including an SSL issue that caused my readers to receive a "This site is not secure" message. Lol. More all time traffic lows! Yay!!
The Keyword Debacle
If that wasn't enough, there was the Keyword Tool issue. I had written a ton of great articles with some insanely good low hanging fruit stats. Stuff like 120 searches per month, 21 traffic, and 8 Keyword Power with super low QSR. When I went back to check those articles, all the stats went to <10. Lol. That was a downer because I spent so much time writing for keywords that I thought were going to increase traffic, only to have them essentially become useless. This was probably over 10-15 different articles.
But WA, Kyle and Carson. We can now use Jaxxy for free and how wonderful is that!?
Income going down
For about a 4 month period, from July to October, my income kept dropping to the point where I could barely afford rent. November was a pretty good month ($1800), and I made more than I did last November, but I have yet to hit the $2000 mark since last December. Kind of frustrating, but I press on.
Here's a couple of screen shots, one of the steady airplane taking off, and the other is the reality of how traffic actually works.
December 16th, 2014 - August 31st, 2016
December 16th, 2014 - December 30th, 2017
I think a lot of this is that the niche I'm in is fairly competitive, and people are more reluctant to part with their money when it comes to music production equipment (For whatever reason).
The other part of me thinks there's some disconnect with my site, my readers, my process, and my formula, even though I'm always getting positive feedback through email and site comments. Call it doubt. I feel like after a year and almost 200 more posts of quality content, I should be making a lot more money that I am. But I digress.
It does motivate me and allows me to analyze, critique, and be objective about what I'm doing. I've been making an effort to review my articles, go back and change things, clarify, revise, and come up with new ideas.
All of that said, my stats are still increasing, but it's a much slower process than I envisioned, and at times it can be frustrating when you have these preconceived notions and they don't pan out.
Dec 1st, 2014 - December 31st, 2015
- Sessions: 12,534
- Users: 10,848
- Page Views: 19,800
- Pages/Session: 1.58
- Avg: Session Duration: 1:22
- Bounce Rate: 86.55%
- Return Visitor: 13.4%
December 16th, 2014 - June 8th, 2017
- Sessions: 449,850
- Users: 359,332
- Page Views: 654,974
- Pages/Session: 1.46
- Avg: Session Duration: 1:40
- Bounce Rate: 80.19%
- Return Visitor: 20%
December 16th, 2014 - December 30th, 2017
- Page Views: 1,124,690
- Average Time on Page: 3:34
- Bounce Rate: 79.99%
- Exit %: 68.05
- Return Visitor: 20.3%
(3/9/17 - 6/6/17)
- Total Clicks: 85,984
- Total Impressions: 1,200,095
- Avg. CTR: 7.16%
- Avg. Position: 13
(10/1/17 - 12/30/17)
- Total Clicks: 149,119
- Total Impressions: 1,461,342
- Avg. CTR: 10.2%
- Avg. Position: 14.5
- Monthly: 49K
- Weekly: 13K
- Daily: 1.6K
I started https://painterlystew.com in August, with the intention of selling my art, designs, paintings, photography, and getting into more e-commerce types of ventures.
I also started a Youtube channel to supplement my existing website, with the hope of adding more traffic and getting my brand out there. That brings it's own set of challenges, because even though you're trying not to compare your work with others, you want to improve video quality, and come up with new ideas to further polish the content and make it look professional.
A niche you're passionate about
For anyone new reading this, please take these words to heart. Do not choose a niche that you care nothing about, or one that you're wishy washy on. Don't even choose one that you kind of like! It's so important and even more mandatory than you could ever imagine to choose something that you can envision yourself in for the long haul. Because as passionate as I am about music, headphones, music production, and equipment in general, it's a real grind some days to even write one article. I'm serious. The burnouts are real, and I'm telling you right now that the only reason I'm still going is because I love what I do. It's not always easy. In fact there are some days where I want to just throw up my hands and say F it. But the love keeps me coming back. Remember that before you start.
I work out, and one of the biggest things a true, natural lifter will tell you is that you have to know the why. Why do you do what you do? Not surface level why's, but get down to the root of it. Because working for yourself isn't all sunshine and rainbows. People have this idea in their head that once I make money online it's smoooooooth sailing baby! It doesn't work like that, and the sooner you can embrace it the better.
Lifting is no different. There are a lot of reasons why I workout and try to get stronger and bigger. I was bullied as a kid growing up by my peers. I was shown no respect because I was always "The tall skinny one." I was accused of being a concentration camp survivor, along with countless other hurtful remarks. These are the things that stick with you and become ingrained, and force us to either accept the perception, or fight it. I chose to fight it because I wanted to prove to myself that I could do what others said I couldn't. The same goes for working from home. I'm sure there were many people who thought to themselves that I couldn't do it. Even my own family members! But I am doing it because I believed in myself and had a vision.
You could say it doesn't matter what others think, but deep down you know that those hurtful things affect you to some degree. They mold you into the person you are, for better or for worse. People do care about what others say and think, no matter what they tell you.
But what I found out is that there are deeper reasons for why I do what I do. It's because I have a spirit of excellence. In anything I do, I always aim to be great. Sometimes I fall short, and that's something that can be hard to deal with because I set the bar so high.
The challenge is the realization that everything in life takes work, and a lot of it. To become successful, there's sacrifice, pain, frustration, and anything else that on the surface seems negative, but is actually beneficial and will propel you forward if you let it. I always thought getting big and strong was easy. The blueprint to get there is simple, but the process is by no means easy. That's the takeaway.
Wrapping it up
So I guess the point of this post is to say this: Don't be so hard on yourself that you forget where you came from, how far you've come, and the progress you've made. One of my dreams was to finally become financially independent. As far as I'm concerned, I've done that!
Sometimes we're so focused on where we want to be, that we forget the process, and how rewarding that is in itself. This has been one of my biggest challenges throughout my life. Embracing where I am, but still striving, and not comparing myself to others, while also believing in myself that I can do it. I've got the striving part down, but now it's coming to accept myself, that I'm a unique individual, and that there's no one on the planet quite like me.
You're the same! You are the only copy of you that will ever exist, and being truly satisfied with where you are is one of the hardest things to do. We all want to be great, but nobody who's successful ever started out that way. They had to go through some "stuff" to get to the other side of greatness.
If you've ever seen Shawshank Redemption, when wrongfully sentenced Andy Dufresne has finally had enough, he escapes prison but has to go through the sewer to get out. He literally goes through S**T to become free.
What a great metaphor for life.
God bless you,