7 Memorable Times I Failed Woefully at Online Business (And Lessons for You)

Most people succeed at online business only after recording many fails. And I’m no exception.

Online business, just like offline brick-and-mortar business, has its own fair share of risks. There are times you’d fail due to reasons well known to you, and there are times you’d fail due to reasons you can’t explain, even after doing things near-perfectly.

Ever since I started creating blogs for passive income through affiliate marketing and Google Adsense, I’ve earned far much more money than I earned as a freelance writer. In fact, that’s why I “retired” as a freelance writer to focus fully on those passive income streams. And so far, it’s been quite fulfilling.

But the truth is, I didn’t succeed with every passive income idea I launched. In fact, many of my ideas failed woefully. But the sweet part is that the ones that ended up as successes fetched me enough profit to compensate for the time, energy, and money wasted on the failed ideas.

Now, I want to share with you some of my failed online business ideas, how and why I executed them, and why they failed. My aim here is to help you to avoid some of the mistakes I made.

my failures in online business

1. Miracet-reviews.com

This was the first affiliate niche site I created. It was a simple blog that featured posts promoting Miracet, a quit-smoking product made from herbs. The home page was a long, detailed post that explained everything a potential buyer needed to know about the product.

The site was well optimized for the keyphrase, “miracet reviews”. And there were two other much shorter supporting posts that provided additional details about Miracet. Both were also optimized for some secondary keywords.

Within a few months after I created the site, it ranked number 1 in Google search results for “miracet reviews” and several other related phrases. And it fetched me some decent commissions through the Markethealth affiliate program. Each sale of Miracet fetched me $25 to $50 in commissions, and I was making a few sales monthly for close to one year.

At some point later, I noticed that no more sales were coming in. I tried to find out the cause, and I discovered that the product was no longer in the market. And I had no choice but to close down the site shortly after that.

My big mistake was that I centered the site on a single product. If the site were to focus on quit smoking products in general, then I would have easily switched over to other similar products.

2. Venapro-reviews.com

Shortly after I abandoned miracet-reviews.com, I created this site because I wanted to continue earning my monthly affiliate commissions from Markethealth. I set up the site and implemented every single strategy that I implemented on miracet-reviews.com.

Of course, my aim was to get exactly the same result — to rank number 1 on Google for the primary keyphrase, “venapro reviews”. Just so you know, Venapro is a natural hemorrhoid cure product.

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Ordinarily, one should start seeing SEO results after five to seven months. But after waiting for nine long months, I didn’t get any cool result, and it dawned on me that the site would never pick up. Google Analytics showed zero traffic. And several manual searches for the site on Google confirmed that site was not among the top 100 sites ranking for that keyword. I needed no other proof that I’d failed.

Up until now, I really can’t figure out any reason why. But I keep guessing to date that the domain name was probably registered by someone else who had it penalized by Google prior to the time I snagged it up.

3. Oyinboland.com

I started this site when I discovered the huge volume of Google searches by Nigerians for keywords related to travelling abroad, especially to countries like United States, United Kingdom, Canada, Australia, South Africa, United Arab Emirates, Qatar, and Germany. At the start, I basked in the euphoria of having discovered one gold mine of a blogging niche.

At the time I set up the site, I had big dreams. I planned to feature detailed information on how to travel out of Nigeria to any country Nigerians are dying to visit. And ultimately, I would monetize the site through Adsense and direct adverts for Nigerian travel agencies. To me, it was a perfect idea.

With my research skills, I was able to craft detailed posts on how to get UK, US, and Canadian visas. Most of the information I rendered in the posts were extracted from the official websites of the countries’ embassies and high commissions.

But after publishing about four posts, I got tired. My enthusiasm waned. And I knew I wouldn’t be able to continue with the site because there was just no reliable online resource where I could get the exact information that Nigerians were looking for. They were not just looking to learn how to secure a visa; they wanted far more complex details that only a seasoned travel agent can provide. And since I’m no more than a bloody freelance writer, and I couldn’t find a seasoned travel agent to work with, I had to ditch the site. Yet another failure!

4. Careerandbusinessguide.com

After helping a client implement an article marketing backlink campaign that boosted his blog’s ranking for many of his target keywords, I decided to start a blog in the same niche because it appeared to me to be a low competition niche. So, I quickly conducted keyword research and pulled out a lot of keywords related to business and career growth. My goal was to build an authority site that I would later monetize with Adsense and direct ads.

After publishing a few articles on the blog, I discovered that most of the keywords I pulled out were already being ranked for by sites like Inc.com, Forbes.com, Huffington Post, and other authority sites. There was no way a new site like mine would topple those bigwigs. So, I had to quit. If only I took my time to carefully analyze the competition, I wouldn’t have wasted my resources on the site.

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5. Vitalhealthinfo.com

This is one of the first blogs I ever created. My goal from the outset was to build an authority health blog that would compete with the likes of WebMD, Mayo Clinic, Medscape, and so on. But at that time, I never realized that I was only chasing shadows.

After publishing some posts on the blog, I discovered that most of the authority health sites do shy away from topics related to natural health, home remedies, and alternative therapy. So, I decided to focus on those.

I pulled out lots of promising keywords related to those topics, but that was about all I did. I only wrote few topics myself and later outsourced few topics to another writer. In the end, I abandoned the site because it wasn’t picking up as quickly as I expected, and I was just too busy with clients’ writing assignments and other commitments (including other online businesses that were already earning some income).

Although the site is still very much online, I’m not sure of what I’ll do with it later on. I’ve been reluctant to close it down, yet I’ve done nothing to make it grow. If you ask me why this site is a failure, I’ll give just one reason: I didn’t have time for it.

6. Contentmarketingplus.com

I created this site in 2012 shortly after I understood the importance of an online portfolio to a freelance writer. My plan with the site was to publish quality articles that center on content marketing, search engine optimization, and other topics that would help me attract potential clients as a freelance writer.

But after publishing a few articles on the site, I abandoned it due to the clients’ writing assignments. The site is still online, too, but I doubt if I’ll ever publish anything new on it again.

7. Howtocreateablog.org

When I started earning decent income from some of the web hosting affiliate programs I promoted on this blog, I thought it was a smart idea to start a separate site that explains how to create a blog in very simple terms that anyone can understand.

Ultimately, I was going to earn commissions by recommending a reputable web hosting company to visitors — supposedly newbie bloggers. Since each hosting plan sale fetched $50 to $100 in commissions, I was optimistic that I would have a money-spinner on my hands in the next few months.

At the time, I thought getting to the number 1 spot on Google would be easily achieved with the exact-match domain name coupled with a few long, detailed articles. After publishing about 12 detailed tutorial articles, I waited patiently for the site to start ranking, so I can start smiling to the bank. But that never happened. Due to the lucrative commissions paid by web hosting firms, the niche was so competitive that no site would rank prominently without heavy investment in backlinks by its owner.

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When I figured the huge cost of buying backlinks, I backed out, bearing in mind that results are not guaranteed even after spending heavily on backlinks. For about one additional year, I left the site alone. But it wasn’t totally useless, as I used to redirect my clients to it after helping them to set up their new blogs, so they can have deeper understanding of the WordPress platform.

Close to two years after I created the site, I sold it to a friend who offered to buy it for N120,000. That price notwithstanding, the site was a failure because I didn’t achieve the goal I had in mind when I started it.

That’s not all…

While I’ve detailed only seven online business ideas of mine that failed, I have recorded a lot more failures. But most others died right at the domain registration phase. That is, after spending about $10 to register a domain name for an idea that looked promising at first, I’d later abandon it after discovering that the idea wasn’t as lucrative as I thought or was far more competitive than I expected.

In such instances, I didn’t waste time and energy on content creation, but I still lost some bucks on domain registration. I’ve lost count of the number of times this happened to me.

Wrap up

There are no fail-proof formulas in online business. As with offline business, not every online business idea you launch would succeed. And the only way out is to try another idea after one idea fails, while avoiding mistakes that led to the failure of the first idea.

While I have a long list of online business ideas that have failed, I also have a good number of them that have turned out lucrative and that are presently earning decent monthly figures for me. And at every point in time (including now), there are at least 2 or 3 new online business ideas that I’m incubating with the hope of turning them to profitable ventures. But the truth is, I can’t win all the time. I’ll win some, and I’ll lose some.

So, in essence, I’ve failed many times at online business, and I’ll still fail in the future, unless I stop trying out new ideas.

Your turn

Have you ever launched an online business that failed? What were the reasons why it failed? Or do you have any questions or contributions related to this post? Share your thoughts by leaving a comment.

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