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The problem with side-projects

Published 5 days ago • 2 min read

Hi Reader,

I started my writing business by accident in 2014.

Back then, I was geeking out about productivity and gadgets.

I spent hours reading tech blogs like Lifehacker, Gizmodo and Engadget.

I started a tech blog called Work Read Play.

A side project on the margins of a day job.

I wrote and published articles about getting more done in Excel and Word and blogged about the latest Mac apps.

These articles were boring to write. And it was all but impossible for a lone Irish blogger huddled in the spare room of his house to compete with a VC-backed American media company.

So I launched a site about a topic I knew about - writing.

I published article after article about the craft, freelancing and writing online.

Later, I published dozens of articles each week with the help of a team of writers.

Over the years, my side project turned into a full-time writing business, one that earned an income from display ads, affiliate promotions, books, and course sales.

I built my site, Become a Writer Today, to millions of page views per year, relying on SEO.

Then, I got distracted.

Instead of creating products for my writing business, I tried replicating my traffic strategy for several new niche websites.

Do more of what works, right?

I built a food and drinks website up to hundreds of thousands of page views per year.

I didn’t write the content for that site. I’m certainly not the face of it, as much as I love coffee.

Instead, I hired writers to work with me. The site earned a nice profit from display ads each month for a few years.

I also started a health and fitness website and a home brewing website.

I even invested thousands in an online project that’s all but impossible to sell or even work on today.

I didn’t write the content for these sites. Instead, I hired a writing and editorial team.

Then AI lowered the barrier to entry for content website builders.

And ranking in Google became harder.

I let many of the writers go.

Don’t let anybody tell you AI won’t cost people their jobs!

Later, a crushing round of updates from Google killed off the businesses of many niche website owners because, you know, Reddit and Forbes need the traffic.

My writing brand, Become a Writer Today, still attracts lots of traffic.

My food and drinks website gets some traffic too, but I don’t have the motivation to rebuild it.

I’m in the middle of selling some sites off.

Some other niche websites I built didn’t do as well as my main business. They’re not worth as much. But they were also cheap to build, so I’ll hold onto them.

You see…

Side projects are fun, and they can pay off.

But they’re mostly a massive distraction.

I’d have been better off focusing on my main project and building alternative sources of traffic rather than pursuing multiple side projects and relying on our Google overlords.

So why am I telling you all this?

If you’re serious about earning a good living from writing online, focus on one project till it’s generating six or even seven figures in profit.

If you must start a second, pick one related to what you do.

Think of each project as a single finger on the hand that is your writing business.

For example, starting a daily newsletter pairs nicely with a ghostwriting business.

But getting into drop shipping and freelance writing?

Less so.

As I discovered the hard way, shinny-object syndrome is real.

You might earn a few hundred dollars, but you can earn far more by doing one thing exceptionally well.

I’m working with a select group of writers this month. Two spots are open in my Pro Writers Only community for June. I’ll help you extract an extra $3-5k from your business. Reply if you want to learn more.

Write on,
Bryan Collins

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My name is Bryan Collins. I'm a content strategist, copywriter and USA-Today best-selling author.

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