It was 17 December 2004 and my dream was falling apart, right before my eyes.
I had just celebrated the 2nd anniversary since I started to blog and I was on the tipping point of my part-time earnings becoming a full-time income.
I’d quit my only other employment to devote 100% of my time to blogging and had recently started ProBlogger to share what I knew about blogging for money. I had just been interviewed in a national paper about my business and all in all, I was pretty happy with how my dreams were progressing.
Then it happened. Most of my traffic disappeared, almost overnight.
I had been averaging 12,000 visitors per day to my main blog (a camera review blog that no longer exists) – around 80% of which came from great Google Search Engine rankings.
That level of traffic was enough to make a living from using the Google AdSense program (which accounted for 95% of my income).
I woke up on the morning of the 17th December 2004 to discover that my blog’s healthy Google rankings had disappeared overnight.
The result was that I was dropped to 2000 visitors a day (from nearly 14000) on my main blog and my other blogs lost even larger amounts of traffic.
Here’s how my traffic looked on my main blog at that time.
Of course, with only a sixth of the traffic I previously had I also saw my income from AdSense take a similar tumble. Rather than a full time income, I was looking at earning enough money to call it a 1 day per week job.
I was devastated.
I was confused.
I was angry.
I was also deeply embarrassed.
Not only did my friends and family know that I’d quit my job to become a blogger… so did the world because I’d talked about it here on ProBlogger.
Falling from the rankings in Google was the single biggest challenge I faced as a blogger. I didn’t understand why it had happened and I came very close to giving up blogging altogether.
Thankfully I didn’t give up.
I’m glad I hung in there because just under 2 months later I began to rank in Google again and saw most of the traffic that I’d lost return. I’m also glad because that that really tough period taught me a lot about blogging, and about business.
The Biggest Lesson Learned: Diversification
That experience taught me many things but one of the biggest lessons was about diversification and becoming too dependant on any one area of a business.
Thankfully I learned this lesson very quickly. In this post (which I wrote 3 days after falling out of Google) I wrote about my mistake of having too many eggs in the one basket.
I was too reliant upon Google for traffic and too reliant upon AdSense for income.
Rather than see this challenge as something to stop me I decided to see it as a hurdle – something to get over that would make me stronger in the process.
I decided that I would not only keep blogging but that I was going to work hard to rebuild my blogging in a way that was less reliant upon any one source of traffic or income stream.
This mind-shift led to a range of decisions to diversify in the coming months and years.
It also led me to regularly ask a simple question that helps me avoid this problem again…
Is there a single thing that could kill my business right now?
I regularly ask myself this question (in fact our team discussed it the other day). By asking it on a regular basis I get a good sense for whether the balance in my business it out and whether I need to adjust my approach to spread the risk a little.
In a series of posts in the coming days, I’ll talk more about some of the areas I’ve diversified what I do to help with this but in the mean time, I’d love to hear your own reflections upon this.
Have you ever realised that you’re too reliant upon any one form of traffic or income stream? What have you done to diversify what you do?
Stay tuned for some suggestions on how to diversify your blogging to avoid having too many eggs in the one basket by subscribing to our RSS feed or to the ProBloggerPLUS newsletter below:
UPDATE: I’ve since followed this post up with a post looking at how I diversified traffic to my blog but do plan another couple of articles in this series in the coming weeks.