6 Incredibly Bad Habits Which Plague People Trying To Build An Online Business

By David Risley | Last Updated on February 9, 2021 |

Time for some good ol’-fashioned plain talk today.

Here’s the thing…

If you are a reader of mine, then chances are you are trying to build up an online business based around your blog. I’ve been working with people like you for about 9 years now. I see a lot of the common stumbling blocks. Problem is…

Most of the common stumbling blocks are totally under YOUR control. And all too often, you just don’t do anything about it.

Why Having A Job Is Easier Than This

While there are a lot of negative points to having a 9-5 job, the truth is that it is actually easier than trying to build an online business.

With a job, you live within the confines laid out by somebody else. You play by their rules. You do what you’re told. You do it well enough and out pops a paycheck.

Shawshank-Redemption-04_510Once you go into the uncharted territory of online business, then you’re on your own. You’re like a pioneer. All of a sudden, the rulebook is gone and you’re the creator of your own rules. You have nobody to impose discipline on you.

You ever seen the movie The Shawshank Redemption? FANTASTIC movie. If you recall, Morgan Freeman’s character was in prison and he was afraid to leave prison. He saw what happened to some of his fellow prison mates when they were released. Free from the structure of the prison, they lost themselves and committed suicide in many cases.

In many ways, the quest to go independent is alot like that. The J-O-B imposes structure. Without that structure, we’re on our own. And it doesn’t always go well.

The First Step To Handling It Is Seeing The Problem

Regardless of all the training and support out there which is available to help you (and this is exactly what Blog Marketing Academy LAB is all about), the truth is that YOU have to be conducting yourself in a manner which is able to actually make forward progress.

All too often, I see people doing certain bad habits and confusing them for forward progress.

The first step is to stop these bad habits – and that requires being aware of what they are.

So, these are some of the biggest bad habits I see many people doing which are impeding their success in the growth of their business.

#1 – Comparing Yourself to Others

Bichon maltais blanc assis & coquin sur fond blancWhen you want to make money online, one of the first things you often do is search the internet for how to make money online, or how to make money blogging. And you come across people who are talking about it. And often they talk about how much money they make.

Pat Flynn, from Smart Passive Income, publicly posts his monthly income reports. It is a popular feature of his site, and many others have done the same. I actually used to do the same thing, but have since stopped. Why is that?

… because I believe it leads people into making comparisons between themselves and me, or themselves and Pat – or whoever.

You get inspired by the money, then the next move is to try to do what they have done instead of charting your own path. Instead of doing what you need to do, you’re instead left trying to copy somebody else. And if you don’t get the forward movement, it is pretty deflating.

Plus, income reports put the emphasis on the income and not what actually creates that income… which is delivering value to others.

You can use others for ideas and for knowledge, but the only person you should be comparing yourself to is yourself. Your past self.

Keep this in mind…

What you see online is the public face. You’re seeing their highlight reel.

[clickToTweet tweet=”Don’t make the mistake of comparing your behind the scenes to somebody else’s highlight reel.” quote=”Don’t make the mistake of comparing your behind the scenes to somebody else’s highlight reel.”]

#2 – Tackling Way Too Much At Once

Another mistake I see people making is trying to figure out every last ounce of this business before delving in. Personally, I think they are just delaying things because they fear they will fail.

If you don’t have your blog set up yet, you have no business trying to figure out how to make great Youtube videos, or how to conduct split testing. You’re getting WAY ahead of yourself. You only need to focus on your next step – and nothing else.

If you haven’t begun building your list yet, don’t waste an ounce of thought worrying about opt-in form split testing or anything like that. Your sole focus should be on getting an opt-in form up – ANY opt-in form.

There is the idea of “just in time learning”. It means you only spend the time learning exactly what you need to do the next thing you need to do – and you put the blinders on everything else.

[highlight]What most people are doing to “learn” online marketing is much like trying to teach a kid to swim by throwing him in scuba gear and tossing him overboard.[/highlight]

This is the big idea behind The Online Business Roadmap, found inside the Lab.

One of the big reasons Lab members make progress with The Roadmap when they don’t otherwise is because it imposes “just in time learning”. You follow the Roadmap…. one step at a time. And it ensures you don’t try to tackle everything at once.

If order of progression when building your business is a huge confusion for you, definitely check out The Online Business Roadmap.

#3 – Overwhelming Yourself

Information overload and overwhelm are two of the biggest constraints to people looking to build their online business. Thing is… in almost all cases, they’re doing it to themselves!

[clickToTweet tweet=”If you’re overloaded with information, then here’s a trick for ya… STOP READING THE INFORMATION.” quote=”If you’re overloaded with information, then here’s a trick for ya… STOP READING THE INFORMATION.”]

The online world is designed to suck your attention relentlessly. It is designed to make you feel like you have ADD. Don’t blame it on ADD… that’s just a cop out.

It comes down to realizing that you are in the driver seat when it comes to what you consume. Nobody is forcing you to practice information gluttony.

If you deliberately put yourself onto an information and news diet, you’ll be AMAZED how quickly the information overload disappears and you’ll be able to focus.

Inside the Lab, we have exercises inside the How To Step Into Your A Game course that will help you cure information overload…. freeing up throughput for you to build your business.

#4 – Talking Yourself Down

You get what you validate. And, when you validate your shortcomings by focusing on them, you’ll just magnify them.

I get emails from my new subscribers about their big challenges. And I pay attention to the language which is used. And I see people kinda bashing themselves silly, unfortunately.

When you validate your problems as reasons why you can’t do this, you’re letting yourself down. When you use language like “I hope” rather than “I will”, then you’re validating the concept of failure and letting yourself down.

Less living inside your head. More living the world around you – and taking action.

I have built this concept into The Roadmap by having “pitstops” throughout where members submit their wins. No matter how big or how small, members will tell me about the progress they have made.

Positivity or negativity toward things is a learned skill. You might have a natural tendency toward one or the other, but you have control over it. You can train yourself to be more of an optimist by taking time each day to list one or more things you are grateful for.

Being grateful is literally injecting beauty into the world. It is something to strive for.

#5 – Trying To Do It All By Yourself

m123194294Sometimes we do have constraints that bump right up against our lack of skills.

Common for many in this business is lack of technical skills. And this is often coupled with #1 where you see other good looking blogs and you try like hell to make your own look that good despite not having the skillset to do it.

You have two options here:

  1. Do it by yourself.
  2. Hire somebody to do it.

Now, going the “do it yourself” route is a viable option for some, but I see some people basically grinding their entire progress to a halt over it.

In the “real world”, you hire people all the time. You probably hire somebody to fix your car, or to do major repair work around the house. You hire them because they’re the expert and you want the result quickly.

So, WHY is it that we lose this perspective when it comes to the Internet?

Why do you pay the auto shop a few hundred bucks to fix your car rather than try to do it on your own? Probably because you need the car to work so you can use it as quickly as possible. Plus, you don’t know how to fix the car yourself, most likely.

Yet, when it comes to certain things we do online, we get stuck in the “only one” mindset. We operate as if we’re the only one in the world who can do it.

But, you think… what about the money? Hiring people costs money. And, you don’t want to spend money you’re not making yet – and you might not have confidence in your ability to get the ROI from hiring somebody.

I get it. But, sometimes it makes perfect sense to spend a little money in order to alleviate a constraint which is holding the entire show back.

In a world with sites like Upwork and Fiverr, there is really no reason not to get a little help. Here at the Academy, we also have a tech support service if you wanted to see if it’ll work for you.

And I can tell you from experience that you are validating your progress when you hire somebody to get it done for you – or to shorten your runway. When I began investing in my business, my business took off.

#6 – Reinventing The Wheel

Closely related to #5 above is when you try to do something yourself or the long way just to avoid buying a tool dedicated to the job.

Again, it makes little sense in the scheme of things. You’re delaying real headway all over a few dollars.

An example would be trying to hand-code your own sales page with HTML or trying to hack a free theme into something decent rather than use a tool like Thrive ArchitectΒ to do it. Thrive will not only make it much easier, but the result is usually much better looking.

There are a lot of tools I recommend and use in order to make things simpler and easier. In some cases, you may be able to accomplish the same outcome manually, but it would be like trying to start a campfire by rubbing a couple sticks together when you could just buy a lighter. πŸ™‚


These self-defeating habits are the ones I most often see stopping people from getting where they want to go with their blogs and businesses.

Are you doing any of them?


About David Risley

David Risley is the founder of the Blog Marketing Academy, a veteran blogger and online entrepreneur. He founded this site in 2008 after growing his initial technology blog into a commercial success. He has taught and/or coached multiple thousands of students, across a wide variety of niches. He also has a keen skill in the technical side of Wordpress and helps clients build their own platform. He is based in Florida, loves RVing and crypto, and an occasional cigar. Oh, and sushi. Read his full story.

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  • Shantanu Sinha says:

    Hello David,

    Great tips over here πŸ™‚

    Indeed when we are running our own business, then we are playing by our own rules. There is no one to impose actions on us, like the 9 to 5 job.

    These all are the pin points, mainly #1 and #3. Every body is unique and they can be matched, so we need to stop comparing our selves from others and the most important, Internet is the vast source of information, and if we spent 5 to 6 six hours here the brain could be over flowing, so we need to watch out for the correct information.

    Thanks for the share.


  • Yes…yes…yes…yes…yes. Fear of failure is my big killer. Maybe because I’m older. You see these young bloggers and youtubers just having fun and being free with their views. Just have to bite the bullet with my eyes closed.

  • Hudson W. says:

    Very well written blog. I am completely agree with you.

    Especially #3, about overwhelming part. I do agree on this as we study a lot of stuff daily on internet which contradicts each other, and finally confuse us.

    I recently came across a post on a blog (http://www.ishir.com/blog/1610/matt-cutts-stick-a-fork-in-it-guest-blogging-is-done.htm) which says guest blogging is dead now and this was the statement officially from Matt Cutts itself.

    However, a few months back he advocated using it only if it seems genuine and one don’t overdo it.

    This made me highly confused whether to further dig into guest posting or not, however I still think it can be useful in some ways.

  • Julien David says:

    No. 1 is a particularly good advice. When you compare yourself to others and you see them as more successful than you are, it will lead you to No. 4. And that’s is still what I have to learn and what every one who wants to start a business should learn as well.


  • Bill Flynn says:

    Guilty on all counts!

    Especially #3, which in grad school we used to refer to it as “analysis paralysis”.

    I printing this out and tacking it to the office door.

    Well written words of wisdom, but that’s why I follow you!


  • Craig McBreen says:

    Hi David,

    1. Completely agree with #1. In fact I think this is what leads to people spinning their wheels, ’cause they try to be somebody different each month. Stick to it and stay the course … it takes a while folks.

    2. Was me and I was too focused on perfection. Cured of that now though.

    3. Information gluttony will suck the life out out you and kill your business drive.

    4. Yep.

    5. You have to spend money to make it πŸ™‚


  • This is a very great article for every blogger in the making

  • Laynie Kelly | the Marketing Muscle says:

    Simple, realistic and obvious advice. I should say common sense, but sadly it’s not common these days.

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