I’ve been blogging for about 7 years now, 5 of those professionally and I’ve learnt a lot about what it takes to grow a website from 0. In part 1, I am taking a look at the mindset that is required.

1 Focus On Your Strengths: What Kind Of Content Will You Produce?

I could start this article telling you about the crazy rollercoaster you will be on building a website or online service from the ground up, but first I want to take a closer look at what it takes to become a success.

The basic principle of success is doing something you’re good at over a long period of time overcoming any obstacles in your way. With time you will develop habits and get a feel for what you have to do in order to get to where you want to be.

Figure out what kind of content you can produce without effort (if it feels like a job on day one, don’t even get started). This can be funny memes, this can be poems, daily comics or even a podcast. Finding the niche that fits your character and skills is critical. There are countless ways of creating an article or a podcast. Finding something that suits YOU will give you a competitive edge. Sure, you can’t neglect the demand side, but don’t worry about it too much for now, creating demand for something is perfectly doable if you just keep at it, which leads me to point 2.

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(Content Production: Focusing On Strengths – Image Credit: FlickR user oddsock)

2 Keep It Up: Don’t Quit

It’s not sufficient to do something for a few weeks. The key to success really is to not quit and believe in what you’re doing. There will be a voice inside your head telling you it’s pointless and you are wasting your time. You need to find a way to turn that voice off and instead look at how you can create additional demand or find a market-fit: Overcoming any obstacles in your way.

Think about where you want to be and how to get there.

3 Being Flexible: Follow The Market

Ok, so you have found something you enjoy doing online e.g. creating viral Youtube videos using your old handheld camera or creating political memes for your blog following recent headlines. Chances are, your initial videos or memes will suck, but keep at it and improve your content every day. Chances are you will then have to face the next hurdles: 1) Finding a niche and 2) finding a way to monetize your activities.

In order to do that, you need to be flexible. Try out-of-the-box ideas and do things others dare not to. Your political memes may strike a nerve, so why not ask some of your local newspapers to publish them or find a popular online magazine (readership above 2m+) that would be interested in freelance publications. Get your stuff out there.

When I started out, I was frequently contacted by some large publications who wanted to re-publish some of my content, so make sure you have a VISIBLE contact form and email address on your site. Make it easy for them to contact you.

Many opportunities will emerge all by itself. Again, to get to that point you have to do this for a while and not quit after 2 weeks.

4 The Right Mindset: Stop Procrastinating

I started my first websites during an apprenticeship, so I had a lot of spare time back then. Sure, I could have spent that time watching TV, playing videogames or catching up with friends, but instead I focused on getting some things done every day. I still had more than enough time for leisure activities, but I always made sure I got some things done instead of procrastinating. And this is really where most people will fail, because they don’t have the right mindset to actually achieve their goals.

Personally, I am a doer, I get bored when I have to listen to people. I get bored when I have to follow someone else’s lead. It’s just not what I’d call a ‘good time’. I have learnt that I can pick up any skill in a quarter of the time if I simply learn it myself (by doing) instead of listening to someone and thankfully my apprenticeship gave me a lot of room to explore things by myself (which I’d hope more schools would embrace). By the time I completed my apprenticeship, I had picked up various skills that would lay the foundation for all of my online business activities that would generate me thousands in revenue every month, lead me around the world and help me negotiate deals with CEO’s of multi-million dollar companies. That’s what I call a good time.

5 Taking Risks: When You See An Opportunity

I completed my apprenticeship back in 2009, started studying online media and entered that vicious cycle again: Listening to people all day long. At the same time, I saw my online business gain traction (in terms of visitor count). I knew I had reached a critical turning point. It was now or never. I vividly remember that day when I decided to call it quits: I would keep walking around in my room deciding on what I had to do. (Un)fortunately, I had some major health issues to deal with at the time, which would require surgery just a few months later. So for me it really was a no-brainer: I couldn’t really keep up with my peers and was falling behind steadily and I was in pretty bad shape physically.

My conclusion: Drop out and start my own business, so I could work at my own schedule and be ‘free’.

Taking Risks
(Taking Risks: A Leap Of Faith – Image Credit: FlickR user TaymTaym)

Being able to take risks is something you really need to be capable of. You also need to know when it’s not a good idea to pursue something risky, however both requires immense experience to master.

6 Articulating Goals: Write It Down For Yourself To See

What it really comes down to is to articulate your goals and follow through. During my studies, I was asked to write down my 1-year goals. In hindsight, this is really when I had realized that I wanted to become an (online) entrepreneur.

I wrote two things done:

  • Grow Website To 20,000 Visitors Per Day
  • Start Company

First and foremost, I wrote down a particular number (which is an important thing to do early on) and secondly, I articulated where I wanted to be. I exceeded both goals. I not only grew my first site to 50,000 visitors per day, I also started multiple companies.

7 Willingness To Sacrifice: Is It Really What You Want?

Before you drop out of college or quit your job to pursue your own thing, it’s really important to understand what you are sacrificing. In hindsight, for me it was a blessing and a curse. Sure, you may earn a lot of money, you may be your own boss, you may have the ability to take time off whenever you feel it is necessary, you will possibly see a lot of the world and you can follow your own dream instead of someone else’s dream, but it will cost you.

You absolutely have to be willing to make sacrifices. As an employee when you’re done with your work at 5PM, you are DONE, you can stop thinking about your job. As an employer and business owner, you can’t do that. You will often work long hours and turning your mind off becomes a challenge really.

Over time you will come up with strategies to deal with the additional burden. In a recent article, I have written down a few key strategies for small business owners to lead an online business for an extended period of time.

Part 2: The Techniques & Business Sense

In part 2 I will take a closer look at the techniques that helped me to propel my sites to success: Homepage SEO, On-Page SEO and ingenuity and why many bloggers wrongfully neglect it due to ideals and a lack of business sense.