3 Years at WA, leaving my 9-5 job, and becoming truly independent.

Last Update: January 01, 2018

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."

-Henry Miller

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.

Down months

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.

Site Problems

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.

Stats

Google Analytics

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%

Google WMT

(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

Visitors

  • 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.

The Why

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,

-Stu

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texasprinces Premium
Thank you for the inspiration!

I always get the impression that even family members don't believe I can make money with my own business online. So I get what you are saying.

I was in IT for 20 years and got laid off from my job recently. I could look for another IT job but instead I am just going for my dreams to have my own profitable online business. I am not giving up either. :)
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RichieR Premium
You've learned a great lesson in life fairly early (only a guess, but I think you're in your 20's).

This is the second time I've been in business for myself. The first time was as a professional photographer. It took me about six to seven years to get to a comfortable income. I seldom worked less than a 60 hour week in the 38 years of operating my studio.

During that time I helped put five kids through college, attended Bike Week in Daytona 20 times, and enjoyed my life most of the time. But it was work, lots of it, and keeping up my education, adjusting to changes and handling clients and employees who could be equally a pain in my hind side. In about a year and a half the combination of phones with good cameras built in and Facebook put me out of business.
I was in my 60's, so I retired.

Years passed, boredom got me working part-time and the income helped with a few pleasures my wife and I enjoyed.

Now I realize I need to work from home. I really think it was God's way of reminding me that my first love was writing. So here I am, taking up a lot of your comment space, simply to say. I agree with you. It's work, it's rewarding (even if you don't make a cent), it's rewarding (when you do make a few bucks), there should be no comparing, and don't take short-cuts.

Very nice article, btw, keep it up...I look forward to following your success.
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MichalB Premium
One heck of an article.
I like the way you explained how the real world works.

I am struggling myself and I know I will be.
I just do not see the point of quitting or giving up.

And thanks to articles like this one, Stu, I am sure I will be doing great; and the going thru that S**t will make me stronger person.

Thanks again
cheers
Mike
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StubearBlack Premium
It's all about the process! I'm still learning how to enjoy it. It can be tough for sure. Don't give up!
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mbouteiller Premium
Wow... amazing inspirational story here and thank you for sharing! Excellent success and you really worked hard on your site.

Never to late to say this... Happy Blessed New Year to you and I wish you continued success in your online business. Great health, happiness and much love!

Kind Regards,
Monica
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StubearBlack Premium
Thank you Monica! Hope you have a great New Year as well. :) I appreciate your kind words.
-Stu
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NatNiches Premium
I appreciate this because it really honestly shows just how tough all this can be. I can totally relate to your up and down struggle there and the burnout reality. Still, you've done so well and I really hope that the next year sees a big income shift for you! Nat
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StubearBlack Premium
Me too Nat! It can be extremely trying at times, but I love it so that's why I keep coming back. Hope you're doing well :)
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Zarina Premium
When you said "I am a writer what can I say" I remembered you (when I read your $200-250 post a while ago, somehow it is this part that made me remember you lol).

Love the way you write, Stu :) Hope you figure out where the disconnect is and get back to making $2,000+! :)
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StubearBlack Premium
HI! I remember you too! I hope I figure it out too LOL. Thanks for the compliment. :)
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Robg1 Premium
Love your final message of the post. I defo hear you regarding up and down sales. My site is about growing food at home and gardening. Summer months sales come in but it does go quiet for many months of the year. Just keep on pushing!! However, looking at your stats of 49k visitors a month (which is a fantastic number of visitors), I would except you to be making a lot more. Perhaps look at tweaking what you have into better converting pages or building an e-mail list.. I'm not an expert but that may be worth looking at.
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StubearBlack Premium
Yeah, I know there's a disconnect somewhere, but I just can't figure it out at the moment. All of my stats are good, click through rate to my site is good (10%), and 6% are going to Amazon (for December). If even 2-3% go to amazon that's considered really good. My CTR has always been much higher than that. I want to chalk it up to people are just really reluctant to part with money in this niche, but I feel there's got to be something small that I'm doing wrong that could help me break through this wall that I can't seem to overcome. 99% of visitors to my site leave really nice comments thanking me for my work, I get emails all the time asking for advice, comments asking for recommendations, etc. My site runs really well, it's simple in structure and layout. People read through my articles as my time on page is really good. I even re-visited a lot of old articles and spruced them up. Perhaps I can go back and do it again. I feel I'm becoming an authority, and I'm definitely not complaining, but I know there's something missing.
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bpais1 Premium
You have presented a very compelling life story that I, for one feel very privileged to read!

A niche that we are truly passionate about is the main key, as you said. And,even with that, we will definitely have to do a breast stroke through a pile of S**T on occasion.

I also thoroughly enjoyed Shawshank Redemption!

Jim
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StubearBlack Premium
The movie really lives up to the hype, and is a perfect example of how we shouldn't give up in life even when things seem impossible.
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NemiraB Premium
This movie is a favorite of mine. I do not watch it more, but I remember all scenes with Andy's efforts to stay sane and find solutions when everything seems to be lost in the world of insanity. Compliments on your success and best of luck in the next year:)
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StubearBlack Premium
Andy Dufresne is the ultimate role model on how you should deal with life. He never gave up!
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Defiant6 Premium
This is one of the greatest posts I've read here! Thank you so much for sharing! This shows that members here, especially successful ones, go through so many major struggles and not everything goes smoothly all the time, but you show what persistence and a will to move forward through the difficult times, can yield. I certainly have been struggling lately especially the 2nd half of this year and have struggled to even update my website just once a week. I lost my focus, my will, and my passion and so now I've decided to do a complete reset in 2018. I realize that my passion in my niche fizzled out and I stopped immersing myself in it as well as got distracted by shiny objects. I plan to completely go through the training again here at WA and as well as jumping back into the deep end of the pool so to speak in my niche.
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StubearBlack Premium
Yes, I can't say it enough: A passion for your niche is an absolute must. I know you will succeed this year, because you recognize what the problem was and you're actively doing things to fix it. Stay focused and keep me updated!
-Stu
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DarleneB Premium
What a great & inspirational post. You've done an amazing job in just 3 years. Just think of where you'll be in another 3 years. Like you mention, It takes a lot of work but it's so worthwhile. I love the fact I don't have to go to a job I hate anymore.
Happy New Years & all the very best to you in 2018.
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StubearBlack Premium
Thanks Darlene! It's truly liberating but can also be quite a challenge at times! Best to you and yours as well, and Congratulations on your achievements!. Be blessed!
-Stu
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DSweat1 Premium
This is valuable information to spread. I'm in a similar niche but have only been at this since August and I definitely know what you mean about it being hard to write about even though I love it.

Posts like this are good fuel for inspiration and motivation to keep writing away.

Congrats on becoming finacially independent, that's a huge accomplishment and ultimately probably the same reason we all joined WA.

Thanks for sharing :)

Dom
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StubearBlack Premium
Thanks Dom! Keep pushing! Writing is fun but can become a chore at times. This is why being passionate about your niche is so important. Thanks for the kind words my friend.
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RyanGooding Premium
Man Stu.. this really pulled something out of me man. Your very inspiring and the fact that you made it to where you are is exactly what life is all about. God bless you, my friend, take care of your self now you deserve it. Have a HAPPY END OF THE YEAR.
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StubearBlack Premium
Thanks man hope it encourages you moving forward. Thanks for the well wishes. I hope you have a blessed New Year as well. Let me know if you ever need help.
-Stu
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