How to Stay Motivated in Online Business + “9 Years” Update #3

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9 Years to Month 1 – Update #3

…the journey continues.

I’m back for another not-so-quick update for the journal. As I mentioned in some of my first posts, this journal is meant to help me stay on track and remain accountable and motivated. It seemed to be working through November… December is turning out to be a bit more difficult (we’ll discuss that in next month’s preview section).


TL: DR; & Summary

I’m making an authority site out of one of my “simmer sites” that I’ve had for over 9 years. I’ll only focus on content for the first year – with a goal of 400 articles by next September. 80% of content will be informational & 20% will be affiliate content. The end goal is 1500 articles at the end of year three. The “Finish Line” for this project is a valuation of $1M.

November 2021: I published a total of 65 articles, earned my “pizza day” and got just over 1500 pageviews to my posts. I’m feeling good about my progress and hopeful that my work will pay off. But motivation is waning.


This journal should also be entertaining, informative and motivating for anyone reading (so long as the results are good) – with that in mind, let’s get into what I learned this month.

What I learned this month about motivation:

In the TL;DR above I said that I had reached pizza day. Some of you may recognize that phrase from Income School (I’m a member of their forum/course). It basically means that your site earned you enough money that you could buy a pizza with it. I’m not sure if that’s just a slice or a large from Domino’s, but I take it to mean the first $10 that a site earns.

They’ve since renamed it “curry day” which I think is stupid, but who cares, the point is the same whether it’s pizza or curry – it’s a milestone that should motivate you.

I was excited to reach this milestone. This site hit pizza day in November – exactly 2 months after going live on Ezoic!

This did its job, it was motivating. It’s a small thing, but it’s what helps me see that the work I’m putting in will have a positive result.

I was reminded of motivation this month because I reached pizza day.

Before I get into what I learned about motivation, I have a little story. I call this story “The Most Embarrassing Day of my Career”.

Earlier this spring I was walking past the office of our CEO. Their door was closed because they were on a call. As I walked past, I heard “I think we’re going to have to replace Old_Henry. Do you think you can help us find someone in the next few weeks?”.

Of course, that caused me to pause a bit and eavesdrop. Luckily, I share a wall with the CEO so I was able to hear most of the conversation. While it wasn’t easy to hear, I was glad I happened to be walking past at that moment.

They were on the phone with a recruiting firm and were engaging with them to replace me.

It turns out that I had checked my POD stats and chatted with people on Reddit & Discord enough that it had been flagged by our IT department and they brought it to the attention of the CEO. I report directly to them so it was clearly something they needed to address. 

We could get into a discussion about how they handled it and the fact that they didn’t even discuss it with me before deciding to replace me… but that’s kind of a moot point. 

Whatever the issues I have with how it was handled, the reality wasn’t flattering to me. I was being a terrible employee – especially given my position in the company.

Last year was a banner year for my business. I earned more than my day job. I thought I was close to being able to quit my job.

Once I realized that my 2020 results weren’t going to carry into 2021 I got upset, a bit depressed, and lost almost all motivation to do anything – for my job & for my business. The beginning of 2021 found me lacking almost all motivation and feeling “trapped”. I was grumpy at work and didn’t want to do anything.

This attitude contributed to the CEO feeling they needed to do some corrective action, but once they found that I’d been killing time at work by “coasting” on forums & subreddits, they had to do something more immediate. They decided to replace me.

To spare you the really long version of the story, I’ll just say that I knew where I was screwing up and how to fix it. I made an immediate change the following week.

Work got done on time, I logged out of Reddit, Discord, The Fat Stacks Forum, the Income School Forum and stopped watching YouTube videos. Then I cleared my cookies and swore to myself that I’d never log in from work again… or from home for that matter.

The change was noticeable to the point that they asked me about it the following week. I told them that I had been dealing with some things and they were behind me now.

A week after that I got called into their office and was formally reprimanded. I was written up for doing my side hustles at work & for “misusing company resources” – but I get to keep my job… for now.

This was the first time I’d even been formally written up at a job – it was embarrassing, to say the least. But it was very educational and motivating at the same time.

It also taught me how much time I was wasting chatting with other people. That was productive time that was being squandered.

I HATE WORKING FOR SOMEONE ELSE. 

Is hate a motivator? What does hating my job do for me? – it motivates me to get out!

Around the time I made my change at work, I picked up an audio version of the book Work Energy from Jim Harmer (one of the guys at Income School at the time – he has since been bought out to pursue other things).

The book helps you identify your motivators or what drives your work energy – what are the types of things that help you get lost in work. What motivates you to keep grinding even when success isn’t obvious?

I learned that I’m a terrible employee.

I didn’t set out to sing the praises of Income School in this post, but it just happens that their course & the philosophy they teach helped me get over the analysis paralysis I was experiencing in early 2020 & regain my focus in 2021.

It also helped me to realize that I needed to grind on one site for more than a month in order to expect something big to come out of this online business venture. Not 10 sites at once.

I guess hatred and anger are part of what drives me at the moment. As are pride and teaching. Both are helpful with content sites and journaling because I like to teach people and I like to be able to say that I’ve done something that few people can do or say they’ve done (pride).

What are some of the motivators that can drive your energy?

  • Discomfort
  • Anger
  • Curiosity
  • Pride
  • Money
  • Love of Teaching
  • Learning
  • FOMO
  • Something else?

Once you identify what drives your energy & motivates you, you have to do things that help you stay motivated. I knew this journey with this website was going to get tough right around now. In months one and two I was still really excited about the site and topic.

The potential was also appealing. But now that I’ve crossed certain milestones and been at this for over three months, I’m starting to feel the urge to do something else already. It’s not like it’s stuff that wastes time.

I feel like focusing on other sites that are showing more signs of success and I’m seeing other people have GREAT success in POD this Q4 – it makes me want to redouble my efforts so I can reap similar rewards in Q4 2022.

But I won’t. 

This is the grind I’ve mentioned a few times. This is when I need to double down on what I know will work 6-12 months down the road. The work I put in in the next few months is what will make it all worth it.

So, what are some things that you can do to help you stay motivated? (I’m going to just keep them as bullet points for now)

  • Remember why you’re doing what you’re doing
  • Focus on the things you can control and execute them consistently
  • Reward Yourself
  • Keep a Calendar and focus only on those tasks for each day (don’t get distracted by the future)
  • Focus on what motivates you
  • Exercise & Rest
  • Visualize what it will be like to reach your goal

Okay, I think that’s enough for now. I only have so many hours in a day and I don’t want to waste them all!

How was my productivity in November?

Results for November:

  • Pre-Published: 3
  • Published:65
  • Published Words: 92,101
  • Pageviews: 1533
  • Revenue: $10.39
  • RPM: $6.78
  • Content on Order: 1
  • Content Banked: 103K Words
    • WordAgents: ~70,000 words
    • WriterAccess: ~33,000 words
  • Expenses: $25 (total budget is $20K)
  • Valuation: -$12K @37X

Milestones Reached:

  • Articles Total: 102 (over 50 & over 100 milestones)
  • Pageviews for month: 1533 (over 1,000 milestone)
  • One-Day Revenue: $0.69/day (over .50 milestone)
  • One-Month Revenue: $10.39 (over $10 milestone)
  • Daily Pageviews: 84 (over 50 milestone)
  • Organic Backlinks: 22 (over ten milestone)
    • 138 total backlinks – most are from 301 redirects

Goals for Next Month:

  • Published Articles: 60
  • (Preview): I have 100 articles identified and ready to order. I should be placing the order in the next couple of days. I just need to keep doing the “little things” each day that help me eat the elephant. But I’m having a hard time doing anything currently. I’m slammed at work and I know what the grind feels like. I don’t want that discomfort… but I have to embrace the suck (as they say).

What Happened in November?

  • The Holidays slowed me down a bit. I didn’t do much work from the 23rd to the 29th because of travel and family stuff.

    Fortunately, I knew it was coming and planned accordingly. I ordered most of my content up-front and tried to edit/publish 2-3 articles each day in order to stay on track. As Nassim Talib says in the book The Black Swan, I Don’t Chase Trains – I knew the holidays were coming so I prepped for it. They happen at the same time every year!
  • Tweaked my publishing SOP slightly – I now add images & excerpts in the pre-publish phase. It just looks better and makes it more “complete” to Google and potential readers until I can get around to doing the final edit & publishing. 

    Also, for my own amusement, I end every article with some sort of pun. This is my “signature” and helps it feel like every article is personalized. This also helps with motivation as I feel like I’ve “touched” each article and it gives me a sense of closure when I hit publish.
  • Applied to Skimlinks & set it up (will use primarily for manual links)
    • I’ll most likely deactivate the JS on all pages that don’t have the manual links to help with site speed.
  • Moved 3 sites to Cloudways / Vultr (one of which was this case study site) – I noticed a little improvement in speed but, oddly enough, my caching with Ezoic works better now. I’ll be moving more sites in the coming weeks.
  • Did 301 Redirects on 3 of the 7 expired domains I bought at auction – two of them were just naked redirects because they fit with only one article/category. The other one was a site that I’m slowly moving & rebuilding. I still have to set up actual sites on the best domains and that will take more time. I plan on doing that as soon as I hit my 320 info article target.
  • I realized this month that when you add a lot of content quickly, your average position will decrease in GSC. It’s intuitive, but when I started to see the decline I freaked out a bit before realizing that this is normal behavior.

Okay, here’s where the wheels started to come off.

  • I noticed that a few more simmer sites were getting good traffic/impressions. I ordered several articles for them during the month (that’s why my content spend was lower for this site). The urge to focus on these sites is overwhelming. They are already getting better clicks than this site. I think adding content to them now would take off rapidly… It’s an exercise in willpower to not shift my content production to these sites. I’m tempted to add 4-7 articles each month while I’m “at it” so they continue to grow, remain fresh and it will sort of appease my urges.

    What would you do in this situation?

QUESTION

(I’m only going to ask one question each month going forward)


How do you redirect the homepage of a site?

If I’m doing a 301 redirect and I want to redirect the homepage to a category or article, how do you do that most efficiently? Do you create a “blog” page for the blogroll if you want to have some “live” content on the site? Or do you just add the home url to the redirection plugin?