It’s 2am. Everyone else is asleep, but you’re still illuminated by the glow of your laptop screen.
You have 23 browser tabs open, and you’re clicking between them sporadically. Google Analytics, Keywords Everywhere, Search Console, SERP results, KGR spreadsheet, your niche site…
Your breathing is shallow, and your mind is racing:
- “I haven’t published anything today. I suck.”
- “If today is any indication, earnings will be down this month.”
- “My competitor’s site is so much better, and they’re so far ahead.”
- “I’ll never have the authority to rank for high-traffic keywords.”
- “What if Elizabeth Warren taxes Amazon into oblivion, and they end their affiliate program completely?”
- “I should cut my losses. This is never going to work.”
It’s official: you’re a worry wart.
Welcome to the club because I’m right there with you.
January is the perfect time to tackle anxiety head-on. Many niche marketers saw a nice uptick in traffic and earnings in December.
The holidays are over now, though, and it’s back to reality.
In fact, this may be the first time my earnings decrease since starting my site ~15 months ago.
Not gonna lie — that hurts.
It dampens my enthusiasm, casts doubt on my approach, and threatens to bring out all my anxious tendencies.
Luckily, I have the tools to get back on track, financially and mentally.
In this article, I’ll share my top eight mindset and tactical tricks for worry warts:
- Begin as you intend to proceed
- It’s a game of persistence
- Learn a lot, but not too much
- Google giveth and google taketh away
- Comparison kills
- Diversity your income
- Keep a tech person on speed dial
- Take care of yourself
1. Begin as you intend to proceed
When it comes to mindset, this is one of my all-time favorite reminders. In fact, it’s written on a sticky note next to my workspace.
How you begin a project sets the trajectory for your success — or the lack thereof.
Creating the right habits from day one helps you stay the course and weather all the ups and downs. For example:
- Look before you leap: I learned about the opportunities and challenges of niche marketing before jumping in. A year in, I use that same approach when considering new tools, systems, or strategies for my site.
- Be planful: I created one master spreadsheet to house my content ideas, KGR calculations, budget tracker, and article checklist. A year in, I still use it to religiously document what I want to do and have already done.
- Build for the future: I picked a niche I love, created a brand and site design that are timeless, and prioritized content formatting and editing. A year in, I don’t have to waste time switching niches, updating my site design, or cleaning up crappy content.
Even if you’re years into a niche site, you can always begin again — the right way this time.
2. It’s a game of persistence
In my article about keeping the faith, I included a quote from Doug:
“If you need money fast, get a job. Affiliate marketing isn’t a get-rich-quick strategy.”
If your motivation for starting a site is getting rich in a hurry, stop right now. You won’t enjoy the process enough to survive the startup slog.
Before I even picked a WordPress template or drafted a single article, I wrote down “my why.” I even included a list of reasons titled “why this will work.”
When times get tough, I return to those words. I revisit the motivation and confidence of my past self who 100% believed I would succeed.
Slow and steady may take longer, but slow and steady can still pay the bills.
3. Learn a lot, but not too much
Before hearing Doug speak on a podcast, I had no idea the world of affiliate marketing even existed. Suffice it to say, I had a lot of catching up to do.
I’ve always believed that knowledge is power, and in most ways it really is. Educating yourself about things like SEO, site speed, and list growth is super useful — until it’s not.
At some point, you have to stop Googling, stop Facebook grouping, and start working.
If you begin to feel overwhelmed by all the things you “should” know (but don’t), press pause.
Go back to the basics — write an article, add 3 KGR terms to your content list, request 3 backlinks. Do the things you already understand and can execute well right now.
4. Google giveth and Google taketh away
One of the most panic-inducing scenarios is hearing about other niche marketers who got annihilated by Google algorithm updates.
While the rational side of our brains realizes we don’t know the full story, the Nervous Nelly side of our brains goes into full-blown “I’ll be next!” mode.
You have to make peace with the fact that a lot of the things that impact your earnings are outside your control.
I now make a point of not clicking articles about algorithm updates, engaging in Facebook group swirl, or changing how I do what I do.
Build a quality site with quality content, don’t do shady stuff, and trust that the cyber-universe will reward you in the long run.
5. Comparison Kills
Comparison culture is the kiss of death for Worry Warts. Sure, it’s inspiring to read the occasional overnight success story. But those are the exceptions to the rule — and the rule is growth takes time.
Listening to the advice of people with millions of monthly visitors, or folks that rake in more money in a single month than I make in an entire year, isn’t motivational.
The gap between where I am and where they are is too chasmic.
The niche marketers I want to follow and engage with are those 2-3 steps ahead of me.
Learning how they got from 1,000 to 2,000 visitors per month can actually help me. Hearing about what they did to double their income from $2,000 to $4,000 per month can inspire me.
Hearing how someone went from 1M to 1.5M page views makes me feel like an under-performer. Our experiences aren’t apples to apples. They’re apples to llamas.
6. Stay calm and diversify
As a professional freter, “What if the bottom falls out?” likes to run on a loop in my head.
What if Amazon slashes affiliate rates again? What if no one clicks through today? What if Pinterest stops suggesting my content? What if I make enough to quit my day job one month only to get wiped out by a Google update the next?
That’s a lot of what ifs, and they can feel pretty scary… especially at 2am on your third pot of coffee.
Diversifying your income streams (e.g. several affiliate programs, display ads, info content) is one of the best things you can do.
For me, that translates three affiliate programs, display ads, and writing some paid guest posts for other publications. If one income stream suddenly dried up, I still have other levers I can pull.
7. Keep a tech genius on speed dial
When it comes to software and websites, in general, I’m plenty proficient. But formatting articles and clearing cache isn’t what keeps me up at night.
It’s getting locked out of WordPress. It’s having my site go down. It’s encountering advanced technical issues I’m not equipped to handle.
That’s why I always want to have a tech genius at the ready.
Mine is a freelance developer in Scotland, and he’s familiar with my site, plugins, hosting, etc. He even put together a step-by-step “Disaster Plan” for my site just so I can sleep easier.
8. Take care of yourself
Anxiety is tiring enough without you fueling it with lack of sleep, unhealthy eating habits, or endless multitasking.
Think about your nervous “triggers” and systematically work to keep them at bay.
For me, that means:
- Don’t check monthly income until the 15th. Seeing a couple bucks five days in sets off major alarms in my brain. By waiting a few weeks, I can concentrate on the tasks at hand and only check in once there’s a motivational amount of money waiting for me.
- Pause inbox when you need to concentrate. The last thing I need when I’m writing an article or doing keyword research is that new email ding! I block out time on my calendar and use Boomerang for Gmail to hold onto incoming messages until I’m ready.
- Take care of yourself. Sleep. Eat somewhat healthy. Exercise. Laugh. Pet a dog. (Actually, pet ALL the dogs.) When you get run down, it’s easy for your mind to run wild with nightmare scenarios.
Or, it’ll be fine
If you can relate to my angst, take comfort in the fact that nerves can be managed and you can run a successful niche site.
We’re all too willing to weigh worst-case scenarios, doom-and-gloom possibilities, and crash-and-burn outcomes.
What we forget it to consider the far more likely outcome — most of that bad stuff will never happen.
That’s why “Or, it’ll be fine.” is my niche marketing mantra for 2020.