Building a 6-figure website is difficult. It sure was for me. The first 4.5 years of writing content, I made almost no money. But between years five and seven, I was able to build my content and grow into a 6-figure entrepreneur.
There’s a lot of lessons I wish I knew in the beginning; they probably would’ve saved me years of struggle and failure. Here are five surprising lessons I learned after I became a 6-figure publisher, and I hope they can help you too.
Lesson #1. Success Can Happen a Lot Faster Than You Think
Less than 12 months after opening his restaurant Rodney Scott’s BBQ, chef Rodney Scott won the James Beard award — one of the most prestigious chef awards in the world.
At first, he couldn’t believe it. It seemed impossible he could win such an honor, so fast.
His family helped remind him of the truth — he didn’t win the award for the 12 months at his new restaurant; he won it from the 30+ years of barbecuing he did before he even opened his restaurant.
Success as a publisher can feel similar. You might’ve spent years trying, experimenting, failing, and trying again, to no success at all. Suddenly, one of your new sites blows up, bringing in 10x your usual traffic and revenue seemingly overnight.
Keep going. There’s a lot to learn, and your previous failures may be exactly what you needed to experience to move on to the next level. Every lesson you learn now will help you in the future.
In the words of multi-million dollar entrepreneur Robert Kiyosaki: “The process is testing you as well as teaching you. If you pass the test and learn the lessons, you get to go on to your next process. If you fail a test and quit rather than retake the test, the process spits you out.”
Keep learning. You never know when those old lessons will open a doorway to massive success.
Lesson #2. Your Odds of Success Increase With Each Month You Stay in the Game
If you take a look at some of the world’s most successful entrepreneurs, you’ll see that these people usually weren’t superhuman geniuses; they just stayed in the game long enough to learn the lessons they needed to learn.
World-famous comedian Steve Martin once explained his path to success: “Perseverance is a great substitute for talent,” he wrote. “My course was more plodding than heroic: I did not strive valiantly against doubters but took incremental steps studded with a few intuitive leaps.” The truth is, you don’t have to be an expert who has all the answers and never makes any mistakes. You just need to keep learning.
It may feel exhausting to stay publishing, month after month, with no end in sight. It can be discouraging to see little to no apparent change in your metrics.
But every month you stay in the game, you learn more lessons. You get more experience. You discover new tactics, and discard old ones that don’t work. These are the lessons that will ultimately combine to help you reach significant success. As Seth Godin wrote in his best-selling book The Dip: “The difference between a mediocre sports player and a regional champion isn’t inborn talent — it’s the ability to push through the moments where it’s just easier to quit.”
If you stay in the game when others quit, you’ll learn far more and be able to use those hard-won lessons for your website in new, dynamic ways.
3. You’re Going to Need to Learn a Lot of New Skills, Tools, and Behaviors
When I first started out as a publisher, all I knew was how to write blog posts (and to be honest, they weren’t even that good).
Years later, when I had built a 6-figure business from my website, I reflected on all the new skills I had learned that helped contribute to my success:
- Affiliate marketing
- Building an email list
- Hosting a webinar
- Creating sales videos
- Video content marketing
- Social media advertisements
- Hiring freelancers
The list goes on. The point is, I needed to learn a ton of new skills, tools, and behaviors in order to become a 6-figure publisher.
You’ll probably hit ceilings and limits if you don’t continue to invest in yourself and your business. Learning new things is a natural progression of successful publishers, because your world is always changing — the market, your platforms, search engine algorithms, etc.
If you don’t continue to learn, you risk stagnating and plateauing as a publisher. But if you continue to learn new skills, your business will continue to grow.
4. What Worked Today Might Not Work Tomorrow — Stay Adaptable
Every year — heck, every month — there are significant changes that happen to your market, your platform, your social media channels, even just in your personal life. What worked today might not work next month…or even tomorrow.
Of course, there are fundamentals of a successful site you need to implement if you want a chance of reaching a 6-figure business: consistency, good SEO, high-quality content, etc. But there are countless other variables that factor into your site, and if you want to stay relevant and successful, you need to stay adaptable.
Here’s an example. I was posting content on 3rd party platforms like Medium, Quora, and other big publications in my niche. This was working very well, and I was getting hundreds of thousands of monthly views from these sites. But over the course of six months, my traffic from these sites dropped by over 70%. I didn’t change my strategy or do anything different — these platforms suddenly changed their algorithm and that was that.
A lot of my colleagues were left with nothing. They didn’t know what else to do, and many of them stopped publishing entirely.
Not me. I chose to invest in new business tools, rethink my content, develop new income streams, and more. What worked six months before didn’t work anymore, but I was able to survive (and earn more revenue than ever) by staying adaptable to the current content trends.
5. Multiple Income Streams Are Key For a 6-Figure Website
A lot of other publishers I knew fully invested in one income stream, like advertisements.
But then a Google update would roll out, or they’d run out of content ideas, or even just accidentally mess up some tool with their monetization. The result? They’d lost the majority of their traffic and revenue almost overnight. If their one strategy failed, the whole business suffered.
I didn’t want to end up with all that stress and instability, so I chose to diversify my income streams. I was able to build up several non-ad-related income streams like online courses, affiliate links, coaching programs, etc. That way, if one stream didn’t do that well one month, I’d have several more to make up the difference. It also increased my overall monthly revenue.
The best part about this? You can set up several new income streams very quickly, with very little work. Affiliate marketing is an especially easy one, and making automated online courses doesn’t take long, either.
Want more money (and less stress)? Create multiple income streams for your site.
Bonus Lesson: Hire Freelancers!
Once my business was really rolling, there was simply too much to do for one person to handle. I wanted to expand and create new products; at the same time, I needed to publish more content, I was getting requests for podcast interviews, requests for my services, and a slew of new customers for my new products.
There’s no way I could’ve survived if I didn’t hire people to help me. You may think investing $100, or even $1,000 dollars in your site is a lot of money…but if you can find the right professionals to do the right work, this investment could give you a massive return.
The digital publishing world has been evolving for over 20 years, and it will only continue to change. Strategies that worked a year ago might not work now; strategies that work today might not work next month.
The key is to create a baseline of consistent, high-quality behaviors on your site: creating great content, using smart SEO strategies, and hiring the right people to help. Creating a 6-figure website isn’t easy, but it’s definitely possible if you work on the right things and spend your time in the right ways.