“I’m not hungry,” I told my grandmother one night at the dinner table.
My stomach was in a knot. Food lost its taste a long time ago, but this was the first time in my 28 years that I’d turned down my grandmother’s meatballs. For an Italian grandson, this kind of behavior can get you condemned.
I had a blank, vacant stare, but my mind was racing a mile a minute. I was obsessed with my business.
More specifically, I was obsessed with finding new customers.
I still wasn’t generating enough sales to keep the lights on.
I must have bought every damn social media and marketing course on the internet, looking for that one “magic bullet” that was going to turn everything around.
I spent hours reading blog posts extracting every idea that I came across and prayed that the next post would have the answer.
The more strategies and tactics I tried, the more time I would waste. And the more time I would waste, the more frustrated I would get.
Now here I was, in front of the best meatballs on the planet, and they could’ve been overcooked brussel sprouts for all I cared.
Falling into quicksand
What if I told you that online marketing was like quicksand?
The theory goes something like this:
Any company or business owner can set up a blog, a Facebook Page, a Twitter account, and a Linkedin Profile. You go gung ho for a few months and spend hours writing blog posts, leaving comments, and networking.
And when you realize you aren’t generating sales, frustration and desperation replace optimism and enthusiasm.
It’s like you’re stuck in quicksand. You’re desperately clawing your way out, latching on to every new strategy that comes along. But the more effort you put in the deeper you get, until you’re completely overwhelmed, barely able to breathe, with no chance to succeed.
The paradox of choice
The good news about quicksand is that there’s a bridge to get across.
The bad news is in order to cross the bridge, you may have to start over.
You see, the reason we marketers get stuck in quicksand is because there are too many strategies, tactics, and options to spend a finite amount time and energy.
You wind up spending an hour a day on Twitter, an hour a day on Facebook, a couple hours a day writing blog posts.
If you’re an entrepreneur or small business owner with clients to serve and products to build, when are you supposed to run your business and spend four to five hours a day growing multiple marketing channels?
Starting over from scratch
You can’t. Or at least, I couldn’t.
There just wasn’t enough time in the day for me to be everywhere, and I was failing at everything. Soon after the great meatball fiasco, I had a thought:
What if I started over from scratch?
But this time, instead of doing everything, I was only going to do one thing.
After looking at which strategies would give me the biggest bang for my buck, I chose guest posting.
I immediately stopped every other social media strategy, which was unheard of for a guy trying to make it in the marketing industry as a copywriter.
I threw out 10 months’ worth of blood, sweat, and tears. I stopped all Twitter activity, abandoned my Facebook page, and there was a point in time where I actually forgot my Linkedin password.
What’s the point of wasting time on each of these platforms if I wasn’t going to use them correctly?
People told me I was insane. They said things like, “You can’t be an entrepreneur in 2010 and not be on Twitter.”
The power of focus
At first, I thought I was insane too. But then I found it liberating and profitable. I went from spending 4 to 5 hours per day on social media to 2 hours per day guest posting.
I became a much better blogger and writer. And I poured more time and energy into building relationships with my audience and several influential bloggers in my niche.
Prospects saw me as a marketing expert and not just another guy on the street looking to pedal my run-of-the-mill services.
My email list went from a few hundred subscribers to a few thousand subscribers.
And the number of clients I signed up per month quickly shot from zero to 5 to 6 per month.
You can bet when Grandmom made meatballs again, I had seconds.
The key to successful content marketing
Words like “engage” and “social currency” have become so embedded into our lexicon, that we don’t stop to analyze whether or not they’re valid to our business goals.
I too, was seduced.
But if you’re like me, the only reason for doing content marketing is to make sales and build your business.
And in order to do that, you only need to do three things:
- Drive traffic.
- Build authority and trust.
- Convert that authority and trust into sales.
In my opinion, the key to online marketing is to master one way to drive traffic to your website, and one way to convert that traffic into sales.
The good news is, if you’ve been reading Copyblogger for any length of time, you know how to do this.
But just in case you forgotten, there are articles here that will show you how guest blogging can grow your business.
And finally, Beth Hayden is credited with writing one of the most comprehensive Pinterest guides on the internet.
When should you start over?
Unfortunately, I can’t answer that question for you. It’s something you’ll feel in your gut (or, maybe those numbers on your spreadsheets are making it obvious).
But if you find yourself scouring endless marketing blog posts and buying every marketing course, looking for a magic pill, then it might be time for you to start over.
Because chances are you’re stuck in quicksand … and, the more you struggle, the deeper you’ll sink.
I’ve been there. When obsession turns into madness and the things you once enjoyed cease to bring pleasure.
So do yourself a favor — slow down and take a deep breath. Losing your appetite and offending family members is no way for a content marketer or entrepreneur to live.
Liberate yourself, your time, and your soul.
Go ahead and start over. You’ll feel better. I promise.