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How to Fight Feeling Overwhelmed with Internet Marketing

by Steve Scott | Join Him On Facebook

There are a lot of obstacles to achieving the Internet lifestyle.  Sometimes it seems like you move one step forward only to get pushed back two.  In the seven years I’ve had an online business, I’ve seen countless people give up on their dreams of Internet success.

Why?

How to Fight Internet OverwhelmWell there are a lot of reasons.  It could be bad information, or a lack of motivation, or a failure to plan.  These as are all contributing factors.  But ultimately I feel people give up because they simply feel overwhelmed.

There’s an amazing amount of *noise* within the online business niche.  Every guru has their own magical formula to success.  Unfortunately no one seems to agree on what actually works.

It’s no wonder people feel overwhelmed.  You get emails each day recommending another “must-have” product.  How do you know what really works and what’s a waste of time?

I’d like to think I’ve built a moderately successful Internet lifestyle.  Yet there have been many times when I get frustrated.  Sometimes I’ve even thought about giving up.

What’s gotten me through those times is having a strategy – One that reduces those feelings of overwhelm.  It hasn’t been easy.  Today I’d like to talk about this plan of action.  Specifically we’re going to discuss eight steps that help you fight (and prevent) overwhelm:

Step 1: Focus on ONE Business

“Jack of all trades, master of none” – Geffray Mynshul

Believe me, I’ve been there myself.  You read an email from some guru promising the secrets to real success with Internet marketing.  The presentation is SO slick that you think you’ve finally found that missing piece of the puzzle.

In my opinion, emails like this are incredibly dangerous.  Why?  Because they shift attention away from your current Internet business.

If you’re getting started online; don’t have too many businesses.  This will prevent you from success.  Don’t believe me?  In my first few years I tried doing too many things.  This led to a lot of failure.

I finally achieved success when I focused 100% on a single affiliate business.

It’s easy to feel overwhelmed when you have too many Internet businesses.  My advice is to pick the one business that produces the best results and only focus on that!

Completely focusing on a single income model is one of the best ways to make money online.  Sure you’ll feel like you’re missing out on many opportunities.  However I guarantee these “opportunities” aren’t as good as they sound.

What should you do if you don’t have a successful website?

My advice is to spend a week analyzing successful business models.  A great research tool is my Start Here Page where I go over 54 different ways to make money online.

Step 2: Regularly Purge your Email Account

Let’s continue to talk about these so-called “Internet gurus.”  I’m not going to mince words here.  Most of these people are predators.  Like any carnivore, they look for weakness in their prey.   They target people who believe you can make thousands of dollars a day with little-to-no effort.

My advice?

How to Fight Internet OverwhelmBecome friends with the unsubscribe button.

Turn your email inbox into sacred territory.

The only messages that are opened are from the guys or gals who deliver quality content on a regular basis.

Stick with your favorites and eliminate the rest.

Remember, these Internet marketing gurus don’t pay the bills.  In fact, they’ll suck you dry with their promises.  So it’s up to you to be proactive and prevent the emails that only waste time or money.

Step 3: Create a Dedicated Email Account

Let’s continue our discussion of email.  It’s important to have an inbox that’s dedicated to your Internet business.  This alone will help stem the tide of information that comes your way.

What if you already have a dedicated email account?  Then take a hard look at every message that comes your way.  Let’s say you’re always deleting email from a specific person.  NOW is the time to unsubscribe from this list.

Be ruthless here.  You really don’t need most email.  So purge anything that doesn’t advance your Internet business.

Try this if you’re really desperate.  After my trip to Belize, I came back to an inbox full of junk, un-actionable email.  My first impulse was to delete these messages.  Instead I went through each message and unsubscribed from dozens of lists.  It took a bit of time.  But now my inbox is clutter-free.

Sometimes you need to take extreme measures.  Don’t delete junk email for a few weeks and let it accumulate in your inbox.  Then go through a similar purge like I described.

Step 4: Just Say NO

This step is the one area where I still struggle.  As your Internet business grows, you’ll have an increasing number of people contacting you.  They’ll want answers to questions.  They’ll send requests for guest posts.  They’ll try to get you to promote a product.  And they’ll want to talk on the phone or Skype.

Now, I have nothing against networking or connecting with readers.  But it’s very easy to feel overwhelmed when you get dozens of emails every day.

I recommend something simple – Learn how to say NO.

Create a set of rules/guidelines for what you will and won’t do.  Then strictly enforce these rules.  Write them down and add them to an autoresponder that’s delivered whenever somebody sends you an email.

You don’t have to be a jerk here.  The important thing is to let folks know you’re having trouble staying on track.  You’d like to help everyone out, but there’s not enough time to do so.

It’s up to YOU to decide what you’re willing to do.  My rule of thumb is to refuse anything that doesn’t advance your business in some manner.

I know this sounds brutal.  Unfortunately it’s a necessary evil to combat the flood of email.  If you don’t have an email plan you risk wasting hours each day responding doing things that don’t help grow your business.

Step 5: Focus on Specific Learning

It’s easy to feel overwhelmed when there’s too much information.  There are literally thousands of blogs/sites that discuss Internet marketing success.  It’s too easy to spend all your time reading and not taking action.

The solution is simple.  Only read content that directly relates to the next skill/tactic you’d like to implement.  Then ignore the rest.

For instance, right now I’m focused on the Go Large Project.  Specifically I’m concerned with increasing my opt-in rates.   So I only read content about squeeze page optimization.

Think about that next step that will help grow your Internet business.  Then read everything you can about that particular subject.  It’s not too hard to become an authority when you’re completely focused on it.

What do you do if you enjoy a few favorite blogs or websites?

Set up a feed reader that you scan on a weekly basis.  Don’t read the articles.  Instead, cut-and-paste the link into a “master learning document.”  Separate the links into categories you’ll refer to when you’re ready to learn more about a particular subject.

For instance, you can create sections on things like

  • Email marketing
  • Search engine optimization
  • Blogging
  • Affiliate marketing

To be honest, there is a lot of great free information on the Internet.  The problem is reading has become a creative way to not take action.  That’s why I recommend only reading information that’s relevant to what you’re currently doing.

Step 6: Limit Time Spent on Social Media and Forums

How to Stop Feeling OverwhelmedI’m man enough to admit when I’m not good at something.

The biggest weakness in my online business is social media and networking.  I’ve spent over six years building a successful business despite my curmudgeon attitude towards networking.

So I’ve definitely developed some bad habits along the way.

I’m telling you this because I’m still struggling with how to successfully use social media without it turning it into a huge “time suck.”

Overall, I think it’s important to network through forums and social media. The trick is to do so without it becoming the focal point of your business.

The lesson here is to set aside blocks of time for socializing.  This should be at the end of the day after you’ve accomplished the important tasks that drive a business forward.  In addition, create a set time limit that you dedicate to this task.

I’ve learned that its way too easy to get trapped into answering Tweets, Facebook comments and forum replies.

When you first get started, networking is a great way to promote your online business.  Eventually though, you’ll get diminishing returns.   My advice is to use it. But make sure it’s balanced with the critical things that move you forward.

Step 7: Do the Critical Things First

Before, I described how it’s easy to feel overwhelmed by all the *noise* on the Internet.  It’s amazing how quickly you get sidetracked by something that’s not relevant to your current business.

I recommend a solution that’s easy in theory but hard to put into practice:

Concentrate only on the actions that propel your business forward

How do you do this?

On a regular basis (weekly or bi-weekly) take a break from the computer, grab a notepad, and go somewhere quiet.

Think about your Internet business; specifically answering two questions:

1)      What routine activities are critical to the growth of my business?

2)      What long-term activities will produce more traffic and income for my business?

These two questions help determine what needs to be done and what can be eliminated.  Make sure you schedule time where you’re able to work on the routine tasks.  Then spend the remainder of your time on the future projects that generate traffic and income.

Thinking is a critical skill to develop.  It’ll help you determine the actions that will propel your business forward.  A trick I use is to analyze each task and simply ask “why” I’m doing it.  If I can’t immediately come up with a good answer, I eliminate it.

Step 8: Outsource Routine Tasks

There’s a reason I left outsourcing for last.  I feel many people make the mistake of doing this first whenever they feel overwhelmed.  In my opinion, it’s important to streamline YOUR time management skills before outsourcing.

With that said, outsourcing is one of the best ways to reduce the amount of “stuff” you have to do.

How do you use it?

It’s simple.  Identify the tasks that are part of your core genius.  These are the things that only YOU can do.  Like writing blog posts or autoresponders, networking, and creating information products.

Once you’ve determined the core genius tasks, you should outsource everything else.

In the previous step I mentioned the importance of examining each task.  Now you’ll take this one step further.  Let’s say you decide a task is critical.  But it’s something that’s not part of your core genius.  This will be a task that’s outsourced to another person.

The purpose of outsourcing is to free up your time.  It helps you concentrate on what you do best.

Final Thoughts on Fighting Overwhelm

It’s easy to feel overwhelmed with Internet marketing.  We get so much information thrown at us on a daily basis.  So it’s hard to know what to concentrate on.

I believe in simplification.  You don’t need to DO thousands of things to be successful. And you most certainly don’t need to follow all the “gurus,” who give conflicting advice.

You’ll find that FOCUS is the key to running a successful Internet business.  It’s easy to feel overwhelmed when there are a lot of things to do.  Don’t try to be everything to everybody. Instead focus on those tasks that get the best results and eliminate the rest.

Ultimately it’s your business.  Don’t let anyone else dictate how your time should be spent.  Apply these eight ideas and you’ll be on the way to reducing that crippling feeling of overwhelm.

Take Action. Get Results.




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{ 31 comments… read them below or add one }

Peggy Baron

Yes, yes, yes!

I’m a big proponent of learning what you need when you need it, NOT learn everything before you start. Get started and info on what you need to figure out next will “magically” appear. You’re probably seeing info on squeeze page optimization coming at you right and left.

I have trouble with #4, saying no, but I’m working on that. I do find it ironic that I wrote yes, yes, yes! at the top of this comment. ;)

#7 I absolutely need to improve! Thanks for the kick in the butt, Steve.

Peggy

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Steve Scott

Peggy,

Learning the stuff you need now is essential. It also reinforces the learning. By doing it right away, you REALLY learn it, rather than just having the info go in-and-out of your mind.

As for #4. That one is understandable to struggle with. It can be very tough to say no. (yes yes yes and …no was quite funny too :) )

As for #7 I do believe that a lot of success revolves around proper time management and getting your “head” in the right place.

All of this is a long term game. It is often the person who can last 12 rounds who wins, not the person who burns bright fast, but burns out.

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Sean Mathena from Find Your Peak

Thanks for a great article Steve!

I especially like the tip on creating a master learning document. My feed reader has become very bloated, and I have caught myself doing exactly what you talked about; reading to avoid working. I think the document will help focus on what to read and when.

Thanks!

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Steve Scott

Thanks Sean,

Glad you found it interesting. As much as I love to read and enjoy reading my feed, it does grow bloated over time.

I could easily spend 4-5 hours a day reading it. In some ways gaining knowledge and connecting is NEVER wasted…but it seems to me it can be a little better to be methodical about it.

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Ralph@Retirement Lifestyle

Steve,
I left you a comment on the next post before I read this one. I think you were reading my mind. This is a big start on the answer. and I only read the first two paragraphs. Thanks. Now to finish reading.

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Ralph@Retirement Lifestyle

Continuing.
Steve,
This just confirms the reason I keep returning to your site. This isn’t stuff you read somewhere. These are real lessons from somebody that I can relate to. I’t like you were eavesdropping on my thoughts and calling me out. But instead of putting me down, you just tell about a simple (though not aways easy step) that can fix what’s wrong. Now the only problem is actually doing them.

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Steve Scott

Thanks Ralph!

It is great to hear from you! It is certainly true that nothing to do with making money on the internet is easy. I think nothing that is really valuable is easy.

People that say differently are probably trying to sell you some snakeoil.

It is doable though, it all comes down to being brutal with your time and actually managing your time and efforts.

It is never “easy” but it all is definitely doable.

Thanks for dropping by and commenting. It is nice to see you again!! :)

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paul wolfe

Steve

Great post and great advice. I think what a lot of people describe as ‘overwhelm’ happens because they want to believe that it’s possible to make money quickly without working hard. And so when they see the latest guru product that tells them this, they buy it and try it. When it doesn’t deliver results overnight – and what method does? they go onto the next product. With the same results.

For anyone reading Steve’s advice to focus on a model and stick to it over time is GOLDEN. As you gain more experience you can ‘tweak’ that model to suit your own personality and to create a business that YOU like to work on and run.

Also golden is the advice to focus on one business at a time. I can tell you from experience running two at the same time is seriously hard!

Great post Steve. Keep telling it how it is!

Paul

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Steve Scott

Paul,

You make a good point. Some of being “overwhelmed” is a shock from the difference from the pipe-dreams of easy riches and the reality of the hard-work success actually takes.

In many ways it is like life. YOu get your best results from intensive skills in one area. You can get by being a “generalist” and “jack of all trades” but being REALLY good at a few things is even better.

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Jennifer Barry

Hi Steve, I really like this list because it can apply to just about every business.

#1 – I agree, spreading yourself too thin just makes you suck at everything you’re trying to do.

#2 – I am going through this process with email, Twitter, RSS, etc. I am figuring out what I find valuable and what is just distracting.

#4 – This one is hard for me too. First you have to figure out what your priorities are, then you have to figure out what gets you closer to your goals, and only then can you set limits. If you don’t, you will waste your time and a small percentage of people will take advantage of you.

#6 – I had no idea social media could take up so much time, but I eventually had to set a time limit per day. While it is important, it can get in the way of time critical tasks as you mention.

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Steve Scott

Thanks Jennifer,

I made it for Internet Marketing, because that is where my experience lies…

But I do also think it is fairly universal in its application.

#4 and #6 are certainly tough ones.
They both have a lot of reason why you WANT to do them. In fact you need to spend time on both to be successful.

But what is too much?

There certainly IS a too much, the number may vary from person-to-person but the essential fact is that at some point you need to regulate these efforts or they become the primary purpose.

At least that is how i see it. I think there may be a lot of people that drive tons of traffic using these methods who would disagree, but (for now) that is still my strong opinion

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Vivian@Flybilletter

Insightful article, Scott!

Trying to do a lot takes away your focus on what you’re really good at and what is the more important business for you. Also taking a break regularly helps you re-energize and reflect on what direction you want your business to head to.

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Steve Scott

Viv,

Thanks for the comment. YOu are right, it is all about catering to our core genius.

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Grace from Start Your Own Small Business

I love the part where you said that there is “nothing against networking or connecting with readers. But it’s very easy to feel overwhelmed when you get dozens of emails every day.”

Learning how to say NO is really very important because there always comes a point in the online world when you will feel like running away from it all, it will get so hot and fast.It is good to be firm in every online decisions you make.

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Steve Scott

Grace,

Thanks for the comment. It is certainly a fine line. This deftly desire to connect the network, but it can also be too much. Everybody probably has her own level but it is important that you have a level and know when to say no.

Have a great day.

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Alex@make money with amazon

Brilliant brilliant brilliant Steve!
So many points raised and so well written – as usual.
I agree that it is important to set allocated time to social related tasks and only focus on that which will grow your business. Ignore the fluff and. .. oh, times up.

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Steve Scott

Alex,

Haha…times up my…. oh…the click ticking. Hmmm.

Thanks for the great and funny comment, as usual. now I am off to your site to get in my 5 minutes. Tick tock. :)

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Fran the Online Writer

Outstanding post Steve. This seems like the experienced Steve Scott who know exactly where and how to go to be successful and all makes sense. I agree with every word of it hundred percent.

I do not like using unsubscribe button, as i do not want to loos any opportunity to learn, but you are right how much can we learn. Focused information regarding your business, makes you a specialist in a field.

Thanks for your insight once again

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Steve Scott

Thanks Fran! Glad you liked the post.

Not unsubscribing is understandable. I am not always crazy about it either, but when you get simply too many…it may become a must

Of course still keep subscriptions to places where you get consistent quality info. But all sites are not consistent.

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Lesley creates luxury peignoir sets

Steve, I was fascinated by your inclusion of outsourcing at the end. This is so true. I outsourced all of my business before I really go to know it, and the admin was not well done. Now I know what I’m doing I can see far more clearly what does need to be outsourced, and I know how I want the job done, the result is much better for me and for my customers.

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Steve Scott

I am a big fan of outsourcing. But like you pointed out it can be hard to do until you know enough to delegate the tasks properly, and of course know what -shouldn’t- be outsourced.

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Marie from Fallfloralarrangements.org

Email is so useful, but at the same time, such a waste of time. I get emails all the time from so called gurus, and although I don’t take the time to read them, you’re right, I don;t deleted them either. That will end today. Thanks for pointing this out.

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Steve Scott

Sometimes it is simple how these small things can interupt your day

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Lesley from Web CopyWriting

I set myself a time for answering emails that are asking for advice or information, and I try not to go over that time each day. What I don’t like are the people who ask for calls – so often they just want to chat things through and the inference is they want to use my writing service, but when we chat they basically pick my brains for ideas and I never hear from them again. I enjoy doing webinars and enjoy helping people, but some days it just seems to take up too much time. Thanks for the advice, I think after this I may just stop doing phone calls altogether.

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Steve Scott

Lesley,

I feel the same thing. Talking on the phone in general is something I have never been -particularly- comfortable with and sometimes I get that “pick the brain feeling.

ON one hand I really enjoy helping the people. I do not mind helping them, and I am glad when I am able to… but I simply do not have the time unless I resist it.

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Ana @ Increase Website Traffic

I never knew who said “Jack of all trades, master of none”, Steve; thought is was “anonymous” – just one of the pieces I took away from your post.

I have hard time saying No. It never seems that long to answer someone, but yet when I add up the minutes, they… well, they add up!

Also, love your tip on limiting the number of blogs we all read – it can feel like being in the middle of the ocean and not knowing how to swim! I recommend to sticking to 4-5 blogs max; otherwise, your reading will overtake anything else that needs to be done.

Great post, as always.

Ana

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Daca

Thank you for this Steve.
I am the very beginning, but I already feel this way sometimes.
I don’t like that “I guarantee you success” persons and I don’t read their posts. I simply know that there is no magical tip for the success. Just hard work.
But, I must say, the part that gives me a headache is that you must to do 50 different things every day in order to improve your work just a little bit. So, thanks you a lot for these guidelines. Will try to follow them.

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Steve Scott

Good call! The “pushbutton” and “easy success” people are 99.9% of the times only trying to sell something. Of course us realists wouldn’t mind a sale here-and-there but the main thing is to provide honest appraisals, and that is that it is not that easy to get started and make a buck. A lot goes into it. There is certainly a lot of hard work, time and a little luck.

There certainly are a metric ton of little things that can be done for small improvements. For people starting out I would say commenting and “connecting” is a great way to start. You get links and some people visiting your stuff (that likely doesn’t rank yet) with time the effectiveness of that tactic goes down as traffic scales, but starting out that is great thing to focus on, imo.

Have a great day Daca, thanks for the comment!

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Jason@mygolftipsblog.com

I think you hit the nail on your first tip.

When i was a newbie, i worked on 1000 project at the same time but quickly lost focus. I think it’s best to concentrate on a couple of projects.

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Steve Scott

Very true. It is common to try out a lot of different things starting out. I DO think it helps a person find the ones they really are good at/like. But in the long run there needs to be a strict limit on how many things you are working on and/or involved with. It is simply too easy to get “lost” otherwise.

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how to sell wine

Sometimes I contemplate if folks truly take time to write something original, or are they only just dishing out words to fill a site. This surely doesn’t fit that mold. Thank you for taking the time to write with awareness. Once In A While I look at a page and question whether they even proofread it.Fantastic work with this article.

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