My #1 Regret – The One Thing I Wish I’d Done Sooner With My Online Business…

During our Cross Blog Conversation, Nicole Dean asked me:

What is the one thing that you wish you’d learned or applied sooner in your business? Maybe something you knew, but didn’t act upon until later and then wished you had. (see post)

Great question, Nicole! I can tell you straight-up what my #1 regret is and I have no qualms about sharing it...

It's simple: I wish I'd niched myself better.

Of course, back when I started my online business (~1997) "niche marketing" and targeting micro-niches was not the trend. The 'greats' online at the time all had a very broad focus: - a website devoted to everything "work at home mom". Amazon and eBay were just gaining momentum, both large sites with wide audiences. The first really popular "internet marketing gurus" were Corey Rudl and Ken Evoy (SBI), and the focus there was broad as well - development, marketing, affiliate programs, etc.

I actually started out in a service-based business, offering web development and marketing plans. My client base was a garden variety, from solo entrepreneurs to multi-million dollar corporations and everything in between.

Over the years, and especially when I began to focus solely on online business (vs local business), the questions and consultations grew exponentially. The "do it yourself" market was growing rapidly, and people were coming to me more for advice than for services.

The questions might be anything from how to upload files or install scripts to how to edit photos and create graphics. In an effort to keep up with the requests (and also maintain my sanity!), I started a newsletter on the side that offered "weekly tips". My goal was to use that venue to answer questions everyone had, instead of answering many of the same types of questions one-on-one via personal correspondence (which quickly became impossible).

That newsletter outgrew the Inbox within a couple of years and expanded into a website and discussion forum. You'll find it online at Self-Starters Weekly Tips.

And it just keeps growing 😉 . I've since closed down WSN (pronounced "wesson", short for Web Service Network). I still operate under that name, but no longer offer services or manage the international web development team. For the last few years I have focused solely on SSWT and the do-it-yourself market.

I say "last few years" - time flies! I think this Spring will mark 5 years, though as I mentioned the newsletter has been online even longer than that. At any rate...

Its very difficult to "be all things to all people". Impossible, really. I find myself struggling to write up an issue that will appeal to each reader out of the thousands that are subscribed. Not everyone blogs. Not everyone promotes affiliate programs. Etc.

This is not the only website that I have that struggles with that issue. While you can easily optimize the different categories and even individual pages of a site to target a particular type of reader... you would have to create multiple mailing lists and follow-up series to really make it work.

Not ideal.

A few years ago I had the idea to segment my "weekly tips" list into groups with specific interests: copywriting, affiliate marketing, passive income, network marketing, blogging, etc. I would keep the main list of course, but simply segment them for more targeted tips.

The idea of it is overwhelming at this point, of course. I try to keep the tips that I send out of interest to the subscriber base as a whole, and then offer more focused topic groups at the associated discussion forum.

Its working, so its all good - but it certainly doesnt make my job easy 😉 . Fortunately I have a terrific group of readers who express their appreciation openly, offer excellent feedback, and submit topics and questions they'd love to hear more about.

So there you have it... that is the number one thing that I wish I had applied sooner in my business... a tighter focus.

Now, a question for you if I may, Nicole -

Earlier this year you mentioned that you were outsourcing some of your work. Do you find it hard to keep good help, or is that all working out beautifully? Can you share some tips on choosing freelancers or virtual assistants?


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About Lynn Terry

Lynn Terry is a full-time Internet Marketer with over 17 years experience in online business. Subscribe to ClickNewz for the latest Internet Marketing trends & strategies, Lynn's unique case studies, creative marketing ideas, and candid reviews...more»


  1. Sandy Naidu says

    Thanks for answering in such great detail Lynn. Very informative.


  2. You're most welcome - glad you enjoyed it! This is the reason, of course, that I do my best to "share the wealth" when it comes to tips & resources for targeting niches and researching markets. It is without a doubt one of the most important factors in a successful campaign or business model...

  3. I totally agree with niche focus. I currently have 2 separate niches that I focus on, and they are somewhat broad too so I know what you mean by overwhelming!

    The internet is expanding and changing so fast that a tighter focus almost becomes a necessary.

    Great topic.

  4. I actually do 'start over' with each new website or product I launch, and I am much more careful now to develop sites and advertising campaigns around a very targeted niche.

    What worked 5 and 10 years ago, is not the same as what works today... but the key to this business is to keep an eye on those trends and change with them from year to year.

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