6 Things I Wish I Knew Earlier In My Business

If you’re not learning, you’re dying.

Sounds brutal, but it is something I believe. There’s no such thing as just coasting… and if you stay the same, then you’re actually shrinking.

I’ve been blogging for about 25 years now. I’ve been running an online business almost that entire time. I’ve been using WordPress since it’s inception. And I’ll tell ya…

I’m always learning. Always finding something new. Always finding out something I could have done differently before.

One of the joys of what I do, too, is that I get to help others follow in my footsteps. Not necessarily to do exactly what I do (in terms of niche), but just to build and grow an online business. These days, I help a lot of people build membership sites and build their WordPress site. And I draw from a ton of experience not only in terms of tech and tools, but also trial and error of an entrepreneurial journey that is longer than 2 decades now.

So, I thought I would just share some random “aha”‘s. Things I wish I had known or taken more seriously much earlier.

#1 – Keep Things Simple.

I’ve spent a lot of time over-engineering things and building things I thought were cool at the time… only then to come to view it as a lead weight around my neck.

I’m talking about fancy marketing automations, fancy sales pages, custom-coded stuff in my site, etc.

And then once I realized what a pain it was, I had to once again spend time to undo it.

Keeping things fairly simple just gives more power. More ability to focus on the things which grow your business. Don’t fall into the trap of pursuing eye candy or fancy stuff you saw on some other person’s website. You don’t even know if it is working! It is easy to assume the stuff you see on other sites much be out of some well of expertise and success, but trust me… many times, those people just built some fancy thing and wish they hadn’t.

Chart your own path. And keep it simple.

#2 – Don’t Spread Your Business All Over The Place.

By this, I mean don’t take all the various important components of your online business and spread them all over a host of third-party, hosted solutions that each cost you monthly.

And this one isn’t about the money. I have no problem spending money if it makes sense.

This is about the “pain in the ass” factor of having pieces spread all over and then having to worry about integrations to make it work.

I’ve used third-party landing page software, third-party email list hosts, third-party shopping carts, schedulers… you name it.

Now that I have it all “in house” in one integrated package on my site, it is SSOOOOOOO much easier to operate and maintain. It works beautifully. Also happens to cost less, so that’s good, too.

#3 – You Don’t Need “Thud” In Your Offer To Make Money

It is easy to get stuck in the idea of “overdelivering”. It sounds good. Give the customer more than they expected, right? Makes total sense. Except…

It overwhelms everybody. Including yourself.

You see it with people creating “ebooks” that are long with tons of pages that barely anybody will ever read. Or membership sites with so much content nobody knows what to do. Or courses with so many modules and lessons that nobody will ever complete it.

I’ve made all the mistakes. My first course (Blog Masters Club) was 16 damn modules. It is still available in the course library, but it was so large nobody ever finished it. I’ve over-promised in my membership site, too, and burnt myself out trying to keep up.

It doesn’t work. Customers don’t get the results, and you end up doing poorly as a content creator.

It is much better to create few products, and make the products you do create much more streamlined and laser focused.

I will never create a big course ever again as part of my membership. The few I do plan will become the handful of flagship courses I will offer. They will be available at a reasonable, one-time cost. All other training I do for members will be one video. Never more. And I will keep it as short as possible. The kind of thing I can sit down and create in a morning.

#4 – Build Your Content With The Future In Mind

When it comes to your blog, I don’t recommend anymore that you treat it as a traditional blog. Not unless you’re in the news business or just want to do personal journaling.

Instead, think of your future body of content. Envision the ideal scene of what that body of work should look like. Outline the topics it should cover, the major categories (or content silos), the marketing that should be integrated into it… and then strategically create the content to turn your content library into your ideal scene.

Just don’t…. blog. Don’t write for the sake of the calendar. I did a lot of that back in my earlier days and I’m currently deleting almost all of it because it serves no useful purpose.

On a related note…

#5 – Build reusable calls to action you can manage later

As you create (or update) content, you need to put calls to action for offers and lead magnets within the content. Stuff which is part of the content itself will always convert better than stuff stuffed off into sidebars and headers.

You want to set something up that you can easily manage later because you will need to maintain those calls to action even on older content. A few things I recommend are:

  • Build your calls to action using the block editor right inside your post. Once it is built, turn it into a reusable block you can then reuse across the site.
  • Use Advanced Custom Fields to add some fields to your posts where you can make internal notes about what CTAs are in use, or any other notes. You can also use a custom date field to set a date for you to circle back and make updates to that post. You can then sort your posts by that date.
  • Use the Admin Columns plugin to customize your blog post list and show those custom fields in the main post list. Makes organizing your content based on your workflow and marketing much easier than a raw, default post list.

Lastly for today….

#6 – Stick With Native Gutenberg blocks for your content.

I don’t recommend crafting any of your content with a tool which is hard to get back out of. That includes using a page builder to write your blog posts. Don’t do it. I feel bad that I ever recommended that to others.

The reason is portability. It can be difficult to back out and switch tools later.

If you write your content with the default block editor, not only is it faster but you know it will adapt to any future theme changes because it is all using native WordPress blocks.

OK, that’s it for now.