These are the things I learned after spending $3,000+ in a span of three years.
This list is not in any particular order, so bear with the random ordering.
1. I can’t manage to grow a few sites altogether.
2. I wasted my time doing unimportant tasks (that are going to be revised in the future, anyway).
3. I focused too much on trivial and non-essential tasks (setting up newsletter box, choosing plugins, etc).
4. I wasted my MONEY on things that are non-essential (logos, backlink research) while I should spend them on what matters (articles!).
5. Don’t target high competition keywords in the beginning, you’ll lose.
6. I should write money posts to make more money. (UPDATE August 30th, 2020: After seeing what premium ad networks can do, I think informational posts are also great for monetization purpose.)
7. Books are great, but they’re cheap, so the commission will also be low. (UPDATE August 30th, 2020: I’m planning on growing Multipotens to be a book blog, turns out although the commission is low, the scalability is great and it’s relatively evergreen, also the RPM for ads is not bad).
8. Spending time and resources to chase mediocre, spammy and irrelevant backlinks is not worth it. (UPDATE August 30th, 2020: Chasing backlinks is very risky now since Google are getting better at analyzing and ranking pages. I will stop chasing links from now on, whether it’s spammy or high quality, and stick to the fundamentals, which is to create good content and scale it.)
9. Do SEO like there were no search engines (genuine networking and outreach).
10. Too many options and potential buyers will be confused. (UPDATE August 30th, 2020: For products that people will only buy once in a few years, Top 5 Best X Products is sufficient. No need to write Top 10 anymore just for the sake of being a Top 10.)
11. Native writer is the way to go. (UPDATE August 30th, 2020: But local writer is much cheaper, just sayin’. Look for people that have a decent English skill on r/indonesia)
12. So many plugins and features are unnecessary, minimalism is the way (also less plugins means more speed).
13. I don’t need a premium theme, I just need a great framework with the standard theme (Genesis).
14. Again, games are great, but the commission is too f*cking low. (UPDATE August 30th, 2020: Don’t rely on commission, because they can control the price. Games are great, but I should monetize it with ads, preferably premium ad network.)
15. There are low competition untapped keywords out there waiting to be discovered.
16. Most mainstream gurus make it sounds easy by only showing the success and good part, they hide the ugly and dark side of whatever they’re teaching.
17. Opt for forums or Reddit instead where people share their case study and reveal the good and bad part of affiliate marketing and SEO. (UPDATE August 30th, 2020: But you should realize that the top threads are also biased towards the successful ones.)
18. Just because everybody is doing it, doesn’t mean it’s the best way to go.
19. Finding the niche is absolutely important, I always underestimated this part.
20. Most of the time, I don’t need premium tools, the free ones are just good enough for my needs.
21. A general writer on Fiverr can’t write a 6,000 words on brain training apps.
22. Almost all freelancers says they can provide “high-quality” content, and most of the time, they can’t.
23. Buying social proof service isn’t worth it (shares, comments, pins).
24. Social medias are overrated when it comes to affiliate marketing (they don’t convert well).
25. When someone offer you something, don’t quickly delete their emails (I’ve missed a lot of opportunities).
26. Always be polite, even when you’re the one holding the high cards.
27. Skyscraper technique has become overly saturated and ineffective (don’t follow mainstream techniques, instead, invent your own technique by understanding the basic principles first).
28. Ask stupid questions, get stupid answers.
29. Voting your own submissions on Reddit with different accounts can boost a short-term traffic, but in the end, it doesn’t even matter.
30. Too many affiliate links can hurt both conversions and traffic (don’t be greedy).
31. Buttons are not the way to go (they look spammy), use text links instead. (UPDATE August 30th, 2020: A nice looking button, however, will converts just great.)
32. Include FAQs on posts to target more long tail keywords. (UPDATE August 30th, 2020: Bad idea, just include whatever necessary and keep it lean, Google is a search engine designed to show people what they need, so you should make a content that satisfy people. Make the content provide everything that is necessary, but don’t stuff with additional non-relevant information just for the sake of making it longer than the competitors.)
33. I don’t need to write with a perfect grammar to be able to rank on Google (most people doesn’t even care about it, as long as it’s not too bad).
UPDATE August, 2018:
34. Never choose a niche that you don’t have an expertise on.
After Google updated its algorithm regarding the E-A-T and YMYL content, some of my best performing posts (supplement related) went down making my Amazon earning decreased significantly.
What is the key takeaway?
Niche like law, finance, health, and expensive hobbies requires certain credible expertise because they can affect someone’s health or financial status significantly.
If you’re blogging about these niches, make sure you’re a real expert on those niches.
35. Just because the study says that the average content on Google first pages is about 1800-2000 words, doesn’t mean longer content is better.
For example, people need to get as many information as they can when they want to buy a laptop, but will generally buy a book just because the title is attractive.
Key takeaway: Expensive items require more words to cover all the information needed, while cheaper items can get away with a relatively medium-length content (about 1000 words or more).
After all, do we need to create a 10,000 words monster post just for “10 Best Toilet Papers (Reviewed & Ranked in 2018)”?
UPDATE July 28th, 2020:
36. Those so-called ‘necessary’ SEO plugins (such as Yoast) are not necessary at all.
Most premium themes already have all the essential features (custom meta title and meta description). In the end, a default WordPress installation is enough for Google to understand your site. In fact, most websites in the world are hosted using WordPress as their platform. It would be absurd if search engines can’t understand WordPress sites.
After all, the next WordPress update (5.5) will include a built-in sitemap, so there is no reason to use Yoast anymore (at the moment I’m still using Yoast because they offer XML sitemap generation).
UPDATE August 30th, 2020:
37. Again, minimalism is proven not only a way of (daily) life, but also a way of designing websites. People rarely click the menu on a website, so don’t stuff hundreds of links thinking it will help them to navigate. It will hurt the SEO from the technical aspect. Also, test whether or not people are clicking what you offer on the sidebar. I bet most people don’t even look at the sidebar. After all, most people use their smartphones so the sidebar will be pushed down at the bottom.
38. If you want a passive income, like VERY passive, choose evergreen niches like pets, books, or gardening. Tech and other niches where you have to keep splurging and updating content is very profitable, but the competition is way fiercer and it’s not really passive compared to, let’s just say, pet niches.
39. Always keep up with what’s changing in the business world. People 10 years ago still write comments on blogs, now only bots do. If you want conversations from your audience, start a YouTube channel instead. People are more likely to chat on YouTube comment section rather than on a WordPress blog. It’s also good to expand your niche website with a YouTube channel. I disabled the comment feature on most of my websites because it’s almost useless. Better remove it so the websites will be lighter and faster.
UPDATE October 8th, 2020:
40. Keyword in the title is still somewhat important, especially for YouTube. I titled one of my videos ‘best Xbox sports games’ and it didn’t rank for the search term ‘original Xbox sports games’ despite I added that exact keyword in the tags and although the video itself is about the original Xbox sports games. AI is still not that smart yet, apparently. After I changed the title to ‘best original Xbox sports games’, it rank quickly to #1 in a matter of hours.