It’s funny when you travel down a path you’ve set yourself and find out half-way along that all the things you thought were important, aren’t important. And those things that mattered just don’t matter.
Or when you realise that a lot of the methods you have used on your journey down this path aren’t really helping you in your goals.
Or most importantly, when you get the clarity that the biggest obstacle to your success is YOU.
A few years ago I decided to leave my job as a rocket scientist for a large UK company and start a number of business ventures, one focussed on selling digital products. I spent morning, noon and night creating content and working on my websites all to produce a “product” that I’d sell.
Like a lot of people who work online I took some online marketing courses that taught me about sales copy, squeeze pages, email lists and all that. I spent time and not a small amount of cash running ads all to build up a list that I’d sell to.
It worked…a little bit. I had a small amount of buyers and some great feedback. My particular niche was fitness, as this is something that interested me and was relevant to my life. I ran and rock climbed quite a bit, also fitting in some yoga on the side. Trouble was I was starting to put on weight and didn’t like it. I switched up my training and low and behold I lost some weight. I put this simple method into a book, called The Flat Belly Fast Method and this was my “vehicle” for marketing.
Why and how it wasn’t as successful as I’d liked
The book, an e-book, was a course of sorts that helped someone lose weight over a space of 12 weeks (90 days) using small variations to diet and exercise. Some of it concentrated on High Intensity Interval Training (HIIT) where you can do cardio training in a very short period of time. It’s still a common program today, with people such as Zuzka Light and Mike Matthews recommending it in various forms – Mike has it as an addition to weight training where as Zuzka’s program has a bit more.
Anyway, looking back on this book from where I am now, I’m actually surprised how much of it was good advice.
But I cringe as well with a lot of the “broscience” that I just threw in there. Things like having to eat so many meals a day to “stoke” your metabolism and that you needed to eat breakfast (it being the most important meal of the day apparently). Considering I do a slightly less strict version of intermittent fasting now, I can testify that breakfast is just a meal – no less important than lunch or dinner. In fact you can even have only 1 meal a day if you want.
Now the reason why the book wasn’t that successful was most probably due to the fact that in reality I was skinny fat for my height. I was around 10-and-a-half stone and was giving advice on fitness. Not really the best advertisement!…not that bad, just it may have been better if I’d been the size I am now (over 13 stone/84kg).
As a consequence of this and from other thinking, I reduced the book to a free book and continued to offer it that way building up a small list of followers. In the end I stopped this and only have the site now that is being revamped with a different but also familiar message about fat loss and such.
So I was a would-be fitness guru to a small group of people for a brief moment in time. Then I slipped into the background.
Restarting and redirecting
As is often the case with entrepreneurs, your first attempts at success usually flounder. Or maybe you embarrass yourself getting into a field that you really don’t know as much as you think (like me with fitness – engineering and science on the other hand, no problem!).
I often see this idea that you can sell a product in a niche that you don’t have a lot of experience in. That you can somehow exault yourself through good marketing and placements, as well as repeating a consistent message often enough, so that you become the “expert” in that field.
Maybe this happens slowly or it happens quickly. In reality being an expert, in the long run, means you put the time in. It means you gained the experience and learned lessons from experience that no amount of theory could have predicted or covered. You learn by being in it.
So I redirected. I spent time building a website about starting up marketing, although officially it started as an affiliate site. Circumstances got in the way and a strange twist of fate meant I needed to restart this site (a story for another time) but the result was I spent much more time learning about website programming.
The result: a WordPress theme called Brightlight – that this site and others run on. It’s a free theme. You can download it from here
You can hack away at it and do what you want. It’s all open source.
My other business started to pick up and slowly I’ve redirected my focus onto things that feel less internet market scammy or that I’m out of my depth on.
But here’s the thing:
Even though I might have changed a few things in the way I started, I don’t regret for a second that I did it.
I don’t regret for a second that things failed, that I’ve got a broscience book out there and that was written by me when I was a lot skinnier.
That’s just the way it is.
It wouldn’t have lead me to here and taught me more life lessons along the way.
Don’t worry about the mess you make and make again…just as long as you’re learning and moving forward.