The Lie: If You Build It, They Will Come

I started building this site in mid 2018. Watching it grow has been exciting! I’m often humbled in the blogging community by fellow bloggers who are impressed at what this site has been capable of achieving in just a few short months. Moments like those are firm reminders I’ve become oblivious at times to the desperate feeling of getting that first visit to a site and how difficult generating consistent web traffic can be.

Further growth is on the horizon, but in many ways, I feel like I’ve finally “made it” – pages are getting found on Google daily, getting shared, and the site is getting affiliate link clicks and banner ad views! Thank you for your support!

It would be easy to boast that all of that was accomplished in just 6 months from the point I bought the domain name and wrote the first blog post here.

And that would be the truth…but it would also be a lie.

The thing is, it wasn’t long ago that I was staring at a blank screen in awe of any blog capable of getting even a single organic click and wondering how people go from buying a domain to getting quality traffic in under a year…or at all really.

That said, getting ranked and finding success with this blog doesn’t really start 6 months ago. It starts 8 years ago when I decided I wanted to build a website for the first time.

In 2011, at the age of 23 and newly married, I built as a community for young couples. Remnants of it still exist on Wayback Machine as a haunting reminder of late nights seemingly wasted.

I saw that the domain has changed hands a few times over the years in various forms. Under my ownership, I was so sure it was going to be a hit, filling a niche I felt was underserved in people supportive of young marriages.

Ironically, I would later blog about divorce as the result of insecurity amidst young marriage, but at the time I was convinced that from the pure size of the online population there just had to be others out there looking for a supportive resource for their young marriages.

I was going to be that resource.

I was sure if I just built it, they would come.

They never came.

The website failed.

And I would repeat that failure with 8 other sites, including an ambitious Mustang forum I felt checked the box of features that no Ford Mustang community site had. It is a very difficult task to pull loyal members away from the sites they love, and so today that site serves as merely an example in my portfolio.

As much as I look back thinking of all the hours and money wasted on sites that never found end-user interest, the fact is, all of those hours, all of that money, and every one of those sites played into my ability to do a little bit better with each subsequent site until finally the stars aligned from the knowledge I had gathered.

See, the truth is, with the exception of the anomaly first-time blogger that finds immediate success, the vast majority of websites (and serial entreprenuer endeavors in general) are littered with years of failures and lessons learned.

My blog didn’t succeed as a result of just 6 months of effort.

It took 8 years of learning, 8 years of patience, 8 years of SEO experience, 8 years of figuring out WordPress, and 8 years of throwing ideas at the wall until something stuck.

For years, I was a blogger on outside looking in with 0 organic clicks, 0 page views, and 0 revenue. As I continue to move the bar a little bit higher, I’m proud to feel like I at least have my foot in the door to experience life on the inside.

I could give you a sales pitch that suggests all you need to do is follow some 5 step program to find wealth, but just as I learned all the “rules to dating” are a bunch of crock, I’ve also learned that you can’t just do something and follow some sort of recipe of success in business.

You have to do more than build it to get people to come.

I consider myself a bit of a serial entrepreneur. I know that word gets thrown around a lot to the point there’s a chuckle to be had at the idea of improving a Tinder profile or enhancing an Instagram bio by including the word “entrepreneur” in it. It has become low-key slang for being unemployed and trading penny stocks on Robinhood with big ambitions for making a pitch on Shark Tank.

As I’ve expanded my entrepreneur endeavors into web hosting and web design, dabbling in real estate, and of course being a blogger bro’, I’ve learned that sometimes being the butt end of the joke in people not believing in you is just part of the job title. But the bigger lesson I’ve learned is that the idea that “if you build it, they will come” is an absolute lie.

And yet, it is that belief that causes so many people to fail.

It was that belief that so often caused my own endeavors to fail.

I would work diligently on a project, invest in it financially, convince myself it was the coolest thing ever and that because I was passionate about it, other people would love it, too.

Mere months later I’d find myself becoming increasingly frustrated that the project wasn’t getting noticed and letting that manipulate me into believing that maybe it was just a shit idea. Then I’d justify it as a waste of continued effort and shut it down to move onto something new.

Sometime later I’d see an advertisement and learn of success someone else is having with that same exact thing and I’d think to myself, that was my idea. I’m the one that came up with that first, why didn’t I find success with it? Because, just coming up with it, just building it, just prototyping, just existing isn’t enough.

Yet time and time again, people will create something amazing and lose interest in continuing the pursuit of it when they can’t figure out what more they need to do.

In Start-Ups you see this often in elevator-style pitches that suggest all a startup needs to do is just get 1% of market share to succeed. As though just creating an alternative option to customers is enough to steal market share alone.

With blogging, you see it when people upload a post and then question why the magical Google search box isn’t bringing them visitors. It’s easy to assume that because there are so many millions of people searching stuff each day that statistically a few of them will type in something that gets you found, but unfortunately that’s not the case.

Employees display this mindset when they work hard and expect a raise without proactively speaking up about their salary. In an ideal world, management would just take notice of everything you do and reward those things – and some companies are that way. Ultimately, though in most cases you need to speak up with why you deserve to move up the career ladder.

In small businesses, this concept bugs me because it is what they use to guilt trip customers into supporting them for the mere fact they exist as a small business. Just because your business is family-owned and existed for 15 years on the square doesn’t mean you are entitled to customers.

Multi-level marketing schemes sell this “if you build it, they will come” mindset where people think riches await if they just sign up as a herbal supplement distributor. I’m going to tell you right now, selling crappy face creams and non-FDA approved weight loss supplements just by posting a link to your Facebook isn’t going to cut it.

Or you see it in dating when people “heart” another person’s status as their only hint of interest, go to a bar and don’t approach anybody, or assume someone else is just going to pick up their subtle hints that what they want is more than friendship.

If you want success, you have to go get it!

It isn’t enough to just exist or build something you’ve convinced yourself people will want because you think it’s cool, you have to go out and put the effort into finding the people who will think it’s cool, also.

The obligation is on you to reach out!

I realize that is difficult because it often means facing rejection over and over.

Only recently have I come to get a kick out of getting on Google Analytics and seeing people browsing my site – it’s a huge motivator to keep going that didn’t exist in the past. It’s a lot easier to eat costs associated with a startup when you at least know people are wanting what you offer. Not having that consistent dopamine hit of seeing real analytics results as validation for the work put into the content makes continued creation of the content difficult if done at a loss.

I’ve been in that position, so I know it is easy to feel frustrated when you’ve got this great idea people don’t comprehend, don’t value, or don’t believe in. It becomes increasingly difficult to remain passionate about it as you watch weeks turn to months feeling like your idea is going nowhere while others find success right away like there is some secret sauce you don’t know about.

Truth is, just as no one shows you’re their worst days on Instagram, no one that highlights the success of their blog or business with their income statements or “we ranked in 2 weeks” comments is showing you all their work that never took off that helped them piece together what does work.

Don’t get caught up in what your idea isn’t doing today and don’t lose hope. No one out there that appears to be an overnight sensation is truly an overnight sensation because they exist. There is a wealth of effort behind them.

Moral of the story is don’t get too caught up in what your blog isn’t reaching today, just keep at it and keep patient, keep improving, and keep learning. Keep hustlin’, because this isn’t “The Field of Dreams”.

Sharing is caring, so slap those social share buttons!  Then give this article a comment and always remember bro, scrub your balls.

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Hi, I spewed out all the shit you just read! I like long walks on the beach (but I'm mostly surrounded by cornfields), challenging the status quo of the dating scene, fucking all the rules of dating and encouraging men to live their best life. When I'm not trying to keep the lights on around here and raise two little girls, you can find me drinking and partying - you know the key Wallstreet success...ballin'.

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