Awhile back, I had a bit of a pondering session. I tend to have these every so often, and they are often the basis for what I end up writing that day. I ended up thinking about how winning isn't everything. Some of us, myself included, have often gotten into the mindset that winning should be the end goal of everything. But that can be incredibly counter-productive. It can lead to a lot of needless aggravation and setting unrealistic expectations.
Not every piece of content that you produce is going to succeed. That's just a given. You could spend hours crafting a beautiful essay, and five people ever read it. You sit there and wonder. With all of your social channels, with all of your promotional tactics, with how strong your page rankings are in Google, how could that happen? There are so many factors that could be completely out of your control.
Through my various ventures, I've come to realize that success can't be measured in only in sheer numbers of successes and failures. It should be measured on what you learn from those successes and failures. You always learn more from a failure. The human brain is always going to lean towards what's worked before. Human beings like success. Life's little victories are what we live for; are they not?
Sometimes you get so involved that you get too close to something. You start setting the bar for victory so high that you lose sight of the big picture. It's so easy to do this and I had to once back out of a venture that was setting itself up for failure by not stepping back and looking at the big picture. The problem is when people just keep trying the same thing over and over again. Some people become convinced that they're simply not putting enough hours into it, that the team isn't working hard enough. Unfortunately, human beings only have so much time and energy to give. Nothing is infinite.
How Could I Fail? You May Have Done Nothing Actually Wrong. But, There Was Something Missing...
There are so many times that we bang our heads against the wall thinking how could we have possibly failed when it worked before? It is incredibly likely that you didn't even do anything wrong. But you may have missed something. Yes, you can in fact do everything right and still fail because there's something you missed. in life there's always something new to learn. There's always a new channel to pursue. There's always a new niche that's opened up or about to open up. It's a matter of remaining vigilant. You need to stick to your guns. Use failure as a learning opportunity and a stepping stone, not a world-class bomb.
What made me realize this was stepping back from something that I had worked at for almost a full year. It was very difficult to finally back away. But the progress simply wasn't there and the effort was burning out. Now stepping back, I realize it wasn't that we weren't winning. We'd lost sight of the big picture. There simply was not the depth of field that was anticipated. Because of that, we were grasping at straws trying to make connections that didn't quite fit. We tried to shove not-so-round pegs into round holes.
Now I've been working on my own projects. I did have some setbacks with my website consistently crashing. There is so much uncertainty when you run into egregious site outages and your promotion efforts are wasted. I started simply losing my mind because what I had built up to become a 2000+ visitor a day site was now falling apart before my eyes. It has been my greatest success of my life. Now, I felt that my magnum opus was going to commit suicide before my eyes.
I started thinking what if it's not this and it's that? I started dreaming up worst case scenarios, that everything I had built simply couldn't stand. The nameservers my domain was hosted at were just really sucky, it seemed. Fixing it involved spending a bit more money that I didn't really have yet, as the site just began to actually start bringing in revenue. But that's the thing. Even with all it's problems, it did eventually provide just enough revenue to cover this new upgrade. As long as the site stayed live, it did manage to pay for itself. Sadly, it pretty much died after that. The site was cannibalized for future projects.
So what I realized is that I must simply use this as a learning experience. My site apparently did well enough that apparently something about the hosting wasn't enough to keep up with my growing audience. It couldn't handle the interest that the sheer amount of content that my brother and I were trying to deliver daily through our site. There was still the possibility that something in the installation of my Wordpress was messed up somewhere. I figured that it may involve rebuilding the entire site. Even though the site ended up being shut down, most of the content was integrated into another site. It was mildly inconvenient for our audience for about a week. But that content still gets views. It just doesn't earn like it once did anymore. The traffic has to be built back up.
Growing Pains are Just Reality
Any great success MUST have its growing pains. That's unfortunately just how it is. You have to struggle before you succeed 99 times out of a hundred. It's those struggles that you need to learn from and not let you crawl back into a hole. Content marketing is VERY hard. I have had countless failures where I wrote some pieces I thought were brilliant, but NO ONE ever read them.
I've learned a lot about promotion and that if you don't rise above the noise, you simply won't be heard. I have gotten far better at finding the niches that seem to get conveniently missed by others, and that's where my latest success has come from. That's what content is all about, finding your niche. Yes, occasionally you could have something go viral. But that is definitely an EXCEPTION, not a rule.
What I am saying is not anything new. Plenty of advice out there says you need to learn from every piece that you write. If it doesn't do well, there IS a reason. Just remember that you may have done nothing wrong. You simply may not have known what else you need to do to make it right. But winning isn't everything. Consistency is EVERYTHING. You need to stay on course and keep hacking away at something. Then, take time to reflect. Try and take away something positive from every misstep as well as every success.
This isn't just true in content marketing. It's true in life. I've discovered that in my own life that I became WAY too obsessed with winning. Even in my hobbies. In everything. I like to say I learned awhile ago to bask in life's little victories. At times I've been rarely satisfied with the little things. But you have to be. The little things are what matter. Even if a piece only reaches one or two people, one or both of those people could have their lives improved by it.
Consistency is everything. Winning is nice, and the more you do it obviously the better. I'm glad I've learned this lesson well through my recent failures and my one fair success. Now it's time to build off that past success to keep succeeding.
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