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The Art of Failure Part 1: What Has Been Holding You Back?

I get emails all the time from readers that are still having difficulty making money with their online business.

I’ll be honest, the world of online marketing is no bed of roses, and can be extremely difficult at times. However, becoming successful is far from impossible.

There are hundreds, if not thousands of people that make millions of dollars online every single year; some of which make millions every single day (Jeff Bezos, Mark Zuckerberg, Larry page, and Sergey Brin are all examples), so to say that you can’t make a healthy chunk of change online as well is preposterous.

But if there’s so much money out there, why isn’t everyone successful at making a living online? In the next 2 blog posts, I will be showing WHY so many people fail and what you can do to overcome it.

Let’s get started!

Do You Suffer From SOS?

Shiny Object Syndrome (SOS) – To become distracted by new ideas (whether they’re yours or presented by someone else), causing the internet marketer to never finish what they’ve started.

Here’s an example; you’ve bought the courses, and the ebooks, and downloaded all of the latest plug-ins….now what? You buy more courses, and ebooks, and download even MORE plug-ins. Sound familiar?

It seems to be a growing trend: small business owners are becoming easily distracted by too many ideas or the latest fad, leaving your mind to wander in a million different directions and never completing what you started. This loss of focus is costing you hundreds of hours of productivity. Lost time, lost money.

It’s easy to get excited over something that’s brand new or makes wild claims, but is it right for your business? How many different marketing techniques do you really need to research before you find one that fits?

The answer is simple. You’ll gain more experience from trial and error than any course you can find online. Choose a method that has been proven to work and go with it. If it doesn’t pan out, then at least you’ll have an idea of where you went wrong.

The magic formula to internet marketing success is hard work, not shiny objects. Don’t become another statistic.

Treat Your Business Like a Business

Thousands of people are drawn to world of online marketing every year because they were duped into believing the hype that they would spend their days living on a secluded beach while working only a few hours a day. In reality, this is bullocks.

Sure, there ARE internet marketers that live a laid back life like the one I described, but most fail to realize the incredible amount of work that was required to reach that point in their career.

Here’s a quick story;

Several years ago I met a man that specialized in the hospitality industry. Over the course of 20+ years, he has held every job title in the restaurant business.

He said that the most demanding position he has ever held was as a restaurant owner / entrepreneur. He regaled me of stories of how whenever he would open up a new restaurant, he wouldn’t sleep or eat for days and would often lose several pounds in the first week all because he was so obsessed with ensuring his business was a success.

Right now, you may be thinking to yourself, “Well that sounds rather crappy”, and you’d be right.

I asked him if he really thought that all of  the hard work was really worth it, and what he told me was eye opening.

He would be the first one at the restaurant in the morning and the last to leave late at night. Because of this sacrifice, he now owns numerous successful businesses all across Europe while he teaches courses at a local University in the United States in his spare time.

He told me that he had made enough money from all of his years of hard work, that he could easily retire today and live financially free for the rest of his life.

Internet marketing is no different. For those that believe that all they have to do is create a website and the money will come rolling in are dead wrong. First comes the hard work, then comes the other benefits of living the life of an online marketer.

Now, I’m not telling you that you should potentially sacrifice your health and mental well being, but you need to treat your online business as if you were launching a new brick and mortar business. There may come a time when you only get 3 hours of sleep a night because you’re doing what is necessary to reach the top.

It takes patience, countless hours of dedication, and most of all, persistence.

You NEED To Become An Expert

Often times, I run into people that have chosen a niche that they have no experience in because they believe it will lead to more revenue. There’s nothing wrong with this.

What I do have an issue with, is the people that choose a niche simply because they believe it will bring them more money, but have no interest in actually learning about that niche, and then come crying to me when they aren’t making the type of money that they expected.

They may know how to market, but they know little to nothing about what they’re actually marketing.

Imagine if you went to the show store and asked for the latest pair of Nikes, and the clerk brought you a pair of tap dancing shoes? Then, while browsing the running shoes, you ask a different clerk what the difference was between two pairs of shoes. He simply shrugged his shoulders, and said that one was on sale for 20% off.

At this point it would have become readily apparent that the people working at this shoe store know absolutely nothing about shoes. Would you take their suggestion on what pair of shoes to buy?

Maybe? Maybe not.

Now, let’s change the scenario up a bit. This time, when you ask the clerk for the latest pair of Nikes, he not only provides the right pair, but also helps you try them on. Then, while browsing the running shoes, he takes the initiative and explains that the padding in the arches are different for each shoe, and that the selection you make should be based on how your foot lands while you’re running.

He then asks you to jog a few paces and points out that you tend to over-pronate, in which he explains occurs as weight is transferred from the heel to the forefoot and the foot rolls inwards. He then helps you select a shoe that would perfectly support your feet for maximum comfort.

Would you buy from this clerk? I know I would. That guy knows what he’s talking about, which makes my buying decision much easier because I feel like I’m in good hands.

The consumers aren’t stupid. They can smell the difference between someone that knows what they’re talking about and someone that is simply trying to “fake the funk”.

People WANT to buy from people they view as being in the know. It’s ok to pick a dry niche, but you need to do your best to understand everything about it.

If you’re not an expert in your field, then you better become one, because in the mind of the consumer, it makes a world of difference.


If you happen to fall into any of the internet marketing pitfalls that I listed above, then it’s not the end of the world. In fact, it’s just the beginning.

Now that you’ve effectively identified what has been holding you back, you should be able to easily overcome it. Success is now within your grasp!

In the next post in this series, I will delve deep into the most critical problems that internet marketers face and exactly what they need to do to continue on.

As always, if you have anything to add, feel free to leave a comment in the section below!

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About Sean Donahoe

Sean is one of the most recognized industry leaders in business and marketing. As a popular speaker, author, consultant he has helped over 50,000 students world wide find success in their businesses and has consulted with Fortune 500 companies and businesses of every size grow and thrive...


  1. Oh Sean you are right on point with this post! As an owner of a digital marketing agency for over 10 years, I can’t tell you how many times I’ve bumped into all you have said here. First in my own business and then over and over again with clients.

    Bright shiny object syndrome is brutal. Many tend to live by the premise that the “grass is greener on the other side” so they are quick to abandon one marketing technique for the newest sexy one… over and over again!

    Thank you for this great read… one cannot hear this kind of wise advice enough.

  2. Do you know what sean, iv been trying to make internet marketing to work for 12yrs now and made a measly $800 in that time and this article has hit the nail right on the head with sos, iv spend 1000’s on courses that promise you the world and maybe they do, but i never know as i never take action, i do i little bit of each course then a bright shiny one comes along and takes me away from the one i was doing, so i need to focus on one and just do it and ignore all the others that comes along, thank you for this much needed article thats made me think to stay on one course thats been proven to workand shade out all the new ones that comes along.

    Thanks Again…..

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