Increase Your Chances Of Online Success Ten-Fold By Doing This One Thing

So here’s a thing about me: I get excited easily.

If I get a brilliant new idea in my head I’ll obsess about it, and then grow it and grow it in my head to the point where there’s no way I could ever actually follow through with every aspect of my brilliant plan all at once.

A great example is my golf road trip to the mid-west last year. I was going to play 14 top courses in 14 days, and document the hell out of it in order to grow my new golf brand. Cool idea, right?

I was going to take photos of every hole, shoot videos on the course, interview each of the head pros, and get content up in real time every single day.

“Everyone is going to love this!”

What I didn’t factor in, was the fact that I’d be playing golf for 5 hours a day (which can be more tiring than you’d expect), be driving as much as 6 hours at a time, and I had a business I had to maintain throughout the whole process.

All of a sudden my documentation extravaganza didn’t end up being so feasible.  The result was some mediocre videos, and it taking me 6 months to get all of the course reviews written.

Had I focused on just doing one thing really well, it would have had a much greater impact than the same amount of effort spread across too many mediums and ideas.

Unfortunately, every day I talk to people who are trying to do the exact same thing with their new online businesses.

They get excited, and then they read about all of these different ways to grow a brand and make money, so they want to do them aaaaaaall.

“I’m going to have a blog, and consulting services, and write an ebook, and have a podcast, and  do a you tube channel, and manage 4 different social media accounts (have you SEEN my Pinterest Boards?!), all while traveling the world and having the adventure of a lifetime.

Yeah. Right.

Any of those can be really powerful tools, if you do them correctly. But unless you have a large team and a lot of money, you’ll spread yourself way too thin if you try and do it all at once.

Increase Your Chances of Online Success…

So what’s the one thing you can do to increase your chances of online success?

Simple: Do Less.

If you want to start a blog, that’s great! But focus all of your time, effort, and energy on writing and promoting the best damn blog posts you can.

Let’s say you have ten hours a week to work on your new blog.  You’ll be hard pressed to write, edit, and market one really good blog post. You’ll have even less time if you’re doing things like commenting on other blogs, emailing others in your niche, pitching guest posts etc.

Now let’s say on top of that you try and do a You Tube channel at the same time. You Tube is a completely different beast, that has a similar, if not a steeper learning curve than running a blog.

You not only have to come up with content, but you have to shoot it, edit in a way that’s interesting, promote, and on and on and on.

See where I’m going with this?

If you want to be successful online, pick one thing and work really hard at it. Once you see a certain level of success, then add one more thing.

The One Thing You Should Focus on When Starting

So where should you start?

All of those different mediums sound fun and interesting, but where will you get the most bang for your buck?

I’ve said it 100 times before, and I’ll say it 100 times again: start a blog, build your audience.

The power of having an online platform is insane. If you build up your audience and email list, launching something in the future becomes much easier.

There are always exceptions to the rule, and that’s why so many people convince themselves they can be different. But if you want the best chances of growing your online presence and building a brand that will last, focus on your blog first, and everything else as it grows.

Alternatively, if making money is the most important thing for you right now, then pick an online skill and freelance it. Put all of your time and effort into that. Don’t try and do that, and build an e-commerce store, and ten niche sites.

Decide what your primary goal is, and do the one thing that will give you the best chances of success.

Do you have any stories of trying to do too much at once? Let us know about them in the comments!

Image credit: Less is More

Jamie Alexander August 26, 2014 at 8:54 am

Haha, you got me on the second last sentence.

I’m trying to build a service-based business and an e-comm store at the same time.

My service-based business is just so I can find better paying clients to slowly reduce the amount of freelance SEO articles I’m writing at the moment and the store is a very long-term project, but I’m definitely going to be spending more time on the service-based business until it’s profitable like you said.

None of them are related to the blog I use when commenting, which I stopped working on about 6 months ago.

I’m actually reading ( listening) to The One Thing at the moment, but I want a store and a service business so not following it to the letter.

Luckily I can probably work on then for about 30 hours per week at the moment (about 5-10 on store and 20 on service).

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Nanci Casson August 31, 2014 at 6:00 pm

Hi Jaimie
I am actually doing the same as you. I am working on a service site and an e-commerce site. I am in between jobs now so working on these two sites have sort of become my job. They are not profitable yet so I am looking for a job to support myself for now. Luckily for me I have an awesome emergency fund and could probably go a few years without a job but I would rather not burn through my savings if I don’t have too.

I am devoting about 10-12 hours a day on my sites. I also have a blog and I can see traffic beginning to increase …..woohoo. On average I only post on the blog once week and respond to comments. I’ve been really promoting my other two sites like crazy and I am starting to see some feedback. I’ve eve made a few sells on my e-commerce site so that is really pumping me up and I signed up another restaurant on my service site. So in a matter of just a few weeks I am seeing significant movement on my sites resulting in either a purchase or sign up. Persistence is definitely key.

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Chris August 26, 2014 at 10:28 am

Very good advice Sean. What I struggled with early was much as you describe and what I’ll call tactical hell. I thought I needed to do SEO, host a webinar, start a podcast, create infographics, pitch the media with Help a Reporter Out, focus on growing my Facebook fans, design a beautiful logo.

I should have focused on just two things 1) writing and 2) promoting content. It took me a long time to realize that. All that other stuff will come in time as you grow, and you might figure out that most of it isn’t important or right your community.

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Sebastian Aiden Daniels August 26, 2014 at 10:37 am

I totally relate to the golf story. I fall into that same damn trap all of the time. I have visions of how awesome it will be and all the success I have and then when the time to do it comes, I realize, “Fuck. This is going to take a lot of work.”

I agree that focus has to do with everything. It is so easy to get spread out and then not excel at everything. I wish I had all the time to do everything I wanted. Learn French, then Italian, write and direct movies, write some more books and more. I’m not hypomanic and cracked out on Adderall so I can’t achieve that and it wouldn’t make me happy. I am much happier focusing on one or two things aka blog and social media marketing then I am trying to do everything.

I also think aiming high with low expectations is key. I always get into the trap of thinking things will work out better than I expected and will come faster when in reality they don’t. This ends up making me quit before success comes. I’ve finally put a curb to this and I am just taking it one day at a time.

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Andrew Elsass August 26, 2014 at 3:09 pm

Your posts always have the weirdest timing with me, Sean.

This post helped me catch myself trying to write query letters, a full synopsis, and a manuscript for my first traditionally published book while also doing freelance writing/editing and trying to build that up as a lifestyle business, while ALSO trying to write quality blog posts and build my readership there.

My rationale was that all of these would kind of ‘compound’ each other (being traditionally published would have people looking me up and going to my blog and then hiring me when they see I freelance). On top of all that, I have a 9-to-5 job. Really, each was just distracting me from the others and slowing my progress toward my goal (location independence).

Hypothetical question for you–if you have two viable options that could feasibly help you meet the same goal, what kind of factors do you look at to help choose over the other?

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Debashish September 1, 2014 at 10:31 am

Hey Andrew,

I can totally relate to this. I have a 9-5 job and was trying to do all sorts of thing on the side – freelancing, researching and sending cold pitches to possible clients, working on developing a content marketing biz, AND building my blog.

After talking to a coach, I realized that having too many things on my plate was causing slow progress in each of them. I decided to focus on only one thing – building my blog. There were 3 factors which helped me decide. (1) What do I want to be known for (2-3 years from now)? (2) Which do I enjoy the most? (3) Do I need to make money right now? (My answer was no).

Hope this helps.

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Carl August 27, 2014 at 2:30 am

Great post Sean and just what I needed to hear!

I recently lost my house and had to quit my job due to location issues, so whilst i’ve been applying for work I’ve been thinking about how to try and turn my online life into something rewarding.

To say I’ve been discouraged would be quite an accurate description. I’ve been thinking of ways to case study my life and that exact problem of having so many platforms to choose from arose. I think I’m going to stick with blogging for the meanwhile.

Thanks again for the great post – I’m sure you already know but your content does make a difference!

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Sean August 28, 2014 at 12:30 pm

Thanks for the kind words Carl, really appreciate it!

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Chas August 27, 2014 at 3:52 am

Great advice. Focus is key. Simplicity is eloquence. “The ability to simplify means to eliminate the unnecessary so that the necessary may speak.” ~Hans Hofmann, Introduction to the Bootstrap, 1993

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Sean August 28, 2014 at 12:29 pm

Great quote!

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Richard Silver August 27, 2014 at 8:44 am

You are absolutely right! When I started my own business, building the audience or getting more and more potential customers interested, those are the key things that you should do at the beginning – to spread your idea. The startup plan is a nice thing and it sounds easy but we all know it isn’t like that in real life. It’s better not to consider yourself to be a superman who can do it all, but we should choose the one most important thing and focus on it. Start doing it simple and when you are good at it, you can expand! How do you manage all your online activities and accounts? Inspiring!

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Leroy Smith August 27, 2014 at 10:11 pm

Having joined Location Rebel just a week ago and wanting to do so for over a year I know the feeling.

The “wanting” to go back inevitably sends you home.

For now I’m just focusing on SEO writing, once I’m moving forward all my “grand” ideas that iv parked will be revisited and if they any good put in motion.

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Sheralyn August 28, 2014 at 7:19 am

“They get excited, and then they read about all of these different ways to grow a brand and make money, so they want to do them aaaaaaall.”

Yup, guilty as charged lol Just a day or two ago I signed up for this free e-course to learn to code apps. Then I looked at the course contents and started to wonder what the hell I’m doing – there is no way I have time for that… and the blog (post-less for a few months now), and my travel site, and my writing biz and… the list goes on lol Trouble is it ALL sounds so interesting and I really, really want to do it all… not enough hours in the day though.

You give good advice as usual! :)

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Sean August 28, 2014 at 12:27 pm

Thanks Sheralyn – I cant tell you how many times I’ve started one of those free coding classes :) Finally realized I know enough to know what I need someone else to do haha

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Soren August 28, 2014 at 11:51 am

Less is indeed more…
It is just so difficult to focus on 1 project when you are fired up about 1o!!!!
For me it is also a bit about finding my own feet. I have sort of got the mentality that if I do not try everything out first, then I might end up walking down the wrong alleyway. That’s at least the excuse I use to persuade myself to have a swing at everything, despite good mature folks like yourself telling me it leads to self destruction.
Really enjoying your blog!

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Sean August 28, 2014 at 12:26 pm

I totally get that – and think it’s fine to a point to go that way. Once one thing has traction however, you should focus on that thing until it’s sustaining itself. Then slowly test/add in other aspects of the brand.

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Enzo August 28, 2014 at 2:42 pm

Great post! Before I joined LR I was struggling about what to do next. There is just so much information these days that you want to just try it all!

So I want to thank you once again Sean for motivating me and making me join LR.

Currently focusing on SEO-writing and going to see where that gets me.

Thanks for posting these helpfull blog posts!

Cheers,

Enzo

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Dave August 28, 2014 at 3:05 pm

So true! I have a million ideas but I’ve been narrowing my focus lately. I have one thing I’m spending most of my time on now. I’ll break it up with working on a side project for a bit here and there before diving back into the big project. I realize that I need to spend quality time and get it off the ground and successful before trying to go after the next big thing.

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Geno August 28, 2014 at 9:57 pm

Whew… I gotta bookmark this post and read it every time I get excited about yet another million of ideas rushing in. One at a time, work ‘em slowly. Great advice!

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Becca Britten August 28, 2014 at 10:13 pm

This is exactly what I get caught up doing every single time. I get frustrated at the lack of blog followers and begin the next thing. There’s always something else to get excited about, something that is growing faster than the first thing I picked up. I even have half empty coffee cups laying around the house at the end of a work day. What does THAT say?

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Josh August 29, 2014 at 8:47 am

Definitely needed this. It only takes a minute to think up a year long to do list that won’t happen. Literally just wiped my ideas down to the core projects.

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Julian August 29, 2014 at 8:28 pm

Sean,

Do less — I absolutely agree. Even though I’ve been at this for years, it’s ironic that I came across this post as I’m actually do exactly that. For example, rather than creating 100 niche websites a month, it’s going to be more like 10. I honestly don’t know who the heck can manage anything more than a website and a youtube channel. Haha. Interesting content you have on your site.

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Lori August 31, 2014 at 8:39 pm

Great post, Sean. Your topic is so timely! Focus has been the theme for me last week which was a pivotal life changing moment for me. I withdrew from graduate school (I’ve literally been in college for 20 years!). I’ve completed coursework for my PhD program. You see my problem has been wanting to do it all. Work on my music, get a doctorate, start my company, build apps! Whew! Got it out. Now I want to follow my passion. The trouble is I have several. I’ve been compelled to start a blog. When I stumbled on your web-site about a month ago, I’m thinking I should. I have several ideas. Right now I am trying to talk to people to get some feedback.
Even my academic mentors mentioned to me about focusing on one thing and then moving to something else. My husband has been very successful at doing that and now I am trying to to make myself focus so I can be successful like you guys! The tricky thing is what do I do now. I would like to generate an income. However, I want my next step to be well informed and strategic. I’m going to give this month some time to explore possibilities before my birthday at the end of month. I appreciate any feedback from anyone. Funny, I’ve given so much advice to people on choosing a career, applying to college and even online shopping, I am in need of advice. Thanks again, Sean

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Leandro September 17, 2014 at 5:33 pm

I can totally identify with this as my brain sometimes gets hyperactive at the thought of new ideas or ventures. Timely too as it applies to what I am working on now.

Well written post as usual and you are absolutely right, we should always strive to do less. Currently reading about “lean” and “minimum viable product” which is interesting. Master one thing, move on to the next, going to read this post and let it soak in.

Cheers
Leandro

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Corey Roncoroni September 27, 2014 at 6:12 am

Can’t say how much I needed this. Reminds me of a similar article I read about how CEO’s spend their time and how they don’t work all hours of the day like some people think they do, they simply do what is most important and effective with their time. It’s funny how we always tend to over complicate the process and feel like we are progressing when actually a little more focus and energy put into one thing can give us tremendous results.

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