There comes a time in every site owner’s career where they have to make a tough decision to completely change their business. That may mean gradual changes to their existing site or completely shutting down and doing something else. I’ve done both. In fact, I’m doing one of them now. I’m making sweeping changes to BlogAid for the sixth time in four years. I’m still here. And business is great! I’ll tell you why I never fear drawing a line in the sand, why starting over is the best thing ever, and how you can free your mind, Neo, to the truth that things can be completely different and brilliantly better than ever. Listen to the podcast.
How the Experts Get to Be Experts
They’ve been there and done that and lived to tell the story. That’s really all there is to it. One of my fave podcasts is Blogcast.FM. Srini asks the same questions of just about every guest and lets them tell their story.
After only 20-30 shows you’ll hear a pattern. In fact, Srini has a term for it called Fail Fast. All of his expert guests say their first online venture was a failure. Or, all of their first attempts at anything were just awful. That’s looking at them with hindsight from their current level of knowledge and success.
They all have something else in common. They were willing to drop a site or online business completely and so something else totally different.
You Take it With You
BlogAid is not my first rodeo. I had two other sites prior that were directly connected with this business. The first one was for site design back in the day when you had to have a coder to have a site. The second was teaching coding. That morphed into teaching Blogger and WordPress users. Both were static, HTML sites (as were others I was running at the time).
Once I really dug into WordPress and discovered all the super things it could do, I made the switch and have never looked back. In other words, I started over from scratch with a total redesign of site, content, and product.
I started BlogAid as a sister site that answered the question, “I have a site, now what?” It covered more of the user how-to and the marketing aspect. Eventually I realized that more people wanted to learn those things than how to code. So, I threw all of my eggs into the BlogAid basket.
I lost a lot of readers during that switch. I lost all of my geeky, techie folks. That was okay, because I wanted to focus on an entirely different audience. In less than six months I had more readers on BlogAid than I had gained on the other site in two years.
When you make a change, you take all of your knowledge into the new endeavor.
As mentioned, Srini’s interviews turned me on to the idea of fail fast, meaning to do something to the best of your ability and when that no longer serves, be willing to let it go and do something else. Easier said than done.
Most of us take pride in what we create and we attribute a significant investment of time and energy, and probably money, to that creation. It’s hard to let go of your little baby.
I hold no such attachments. Maybe I’m lucky that way. A decade or so in the music business helped strip away the “that’s my baby” feelings about what I had created. Songs I shared publicly were products. (My music has aired in 14 countries.) I still have songs to this day that I don’t share with the general public. They are meaningful to me in a way that I don’t want to put out there for scrutiny, so I don’t.
Okay, back to my point. You create something. Then give it feet. And then it makes its own way in the world. Next.
Maybe it takes doing that a few times to get over the feeling of cutting apron strings or saying goodbye or whatever other ritual you want to shroud it in. But, after you’ve done it, felt the joy of release and unburdening, and then enjoyed success with the next thing, you’ll get over it. Promise.
Failing Too Fast
Here’s the caveat to that strategy. You have to stick with something long enough to get good with it. If you only play baseball six months, then give it up to play basketball for six months, then give that up to play hockey, what do you think you’ll have gotten good at?
We’ve all heard the story of Babe Ruth. He struck out more than he hit home runs. He also played one sport for 22 years.
Sticking With It
I’ve run BlogAid since 2009. For the first two years I had to change the business model and my offers every six months. I thought every new product, offer, and service I introduced would be what put it over the top. They didn’t, at least not individually. Collectively, though, it’s working.
I significantly tweak BlogAid about twice a year now. There’s one simple reason. Things change. Technology changes, trends change, people want different kinds of info delivered in different kinds of ways.
I started out teaching WordPress. I still do. However, it is not the mainstay of my business. Even in the Scratch to Published classes, WordPress fundamentals take a couple of hours in the 9-12 hours offered. The WordPress Video Library is the least expensive. It’s just not the thing that people think they need to learn. It is, because it is the foundation of everything else they will do on their site. But, I’ve beat my head against the wall all I’m going to, trying to convince folks not to start with a theme.
I started with text-only tutorials on WordPress. I’ve since moved into video tutorials, podcasts, interviews, and other platforms such as social media, YouTube, iTunes, and now webinars. I’ll soon be adding G+ Hangouts. The content now includes content marketing, SEO, RSS, MailChimp, and more.
I didn’t start out with what I have now. I built it, on brick at a time, over time.
I expect at some point that BlogAid will look as significantly different from what it does now, as what it looks like now differs from how it started. It looks radically different form the previous online businesses I closed.
You Can Do It
You can radically change your business any time you want. You will lose followers and gain followers in the process. You’ll lose and gain SEO. You’ll lose some hair. It will grow back (for most of you).
You can also take a break. Twice I’ve been on the hairy edge of closing something down. But I took a week off instead. I came back with renewed energy and ideas. If you’re feeling the need to walk away, do it. No one will know you’re gone. That may also be a hard idea to swallow. But the fact is, if you don’t post anywhere online for a week or two, folks have plenty else to keep them entertained and busy. And you don’t even have to tell anyone what you’re doing. You don’t owe anyone an explanation. Just do it.
How about you? Have you closed sites and opened others? Have you radically changed your business under the same name? Do you want to make a bold change but you’re afraid of what might happen? Leave a comment and let’s chat about it and help each other.