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.
Well 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.
Become 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
- 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
I’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.To Your "Internet Lifestyle",