Organizing all my side businesses and getting focused

Sometimes it’s good to take a break from it all and let time mend deep wounds. My $100k loss in the stock market this time last year hurt quite a bit, and while it didn’t wreck me financially, it was a big enough hit to my bottom line that I swore off stock trading forever. It was at that moment that I realized that I simply didn’t have the mental capacity to manage big risks like I was taking, while at the same time making me realize that I shouldn’t have been taking those big risks in the first place. Live and learn, right? Sometimes you’ve got to lose big to learn the really important lessons.

I’ve been focusing on my online web projects since then, making a bit of progress, but I’m still not making what I want to be every month. I’m currently averaging $480 in side/passive income a month outside of my day job, but it’s still quite a long way from my $10k/mo goal. The good news is that the past few months have been good in terms of cleaning up my portfolio of projects and I’ve done well to purge the projects that haven’t been seeing results for years. Letting go of projects has always been a weakness of mine and it really hurt to cut the cord on several of them. But now that several months have passed (and I’ve had more time to focus on more profitable things), I admit that it feels really good. I’ve should have done that a long time ago.

My current portfolio of income-producing projects

Before I started my purge, I was running 11 websites with nothing else (no stock trading, no offline sales, etc). There were only three of those websites that I was actively working on, and the rest were just sitting collecting dust – so it’s not like I was spreading myself too thin trying to manage 11 brands or anything.

At first I decided to delete all but the 3 I was still working on, making one of them my primary project. That primary website would occupy 90% of my available time, giving 10% to the other two – just to keep them alive. But then it hit me. Why delete fully-developed income-producing websites that I’ve spent years building? None were making big bucks (we’re talking less than $2/mo here) but still. It’s income, and more importantly, valuable eyeballs on my content every day. It does me no harm to leave them up and running, no matter if I plan to continue adding content to them or not.

I’m leaving all of my content up, but I am merging several sites together in order to get things a bit more streamlined. There was a lot of content overlap between them anyway, so it seems like the right thing to do. It should improve my web rankings as well since I’m making those merged sites richer in overall content.

After the merger, I will be down to 9 sites. I’m also considering merging another two which would bring the total to 8.

My plan going forward

Most entrepreneurs will tell you that it’s foolish to have too many active projects going at once. Focusing on one project on a time, building it up, and not moving on until a certain level of success has been achieved is the path to success. I get it, and I agree with it enough to advise others to do it as well. Unfortunately, I’ve never had success working like that. I’m prone to anxiety, and I’ve found that the bigger my projects get the harder the anxiety hits. The pressure of trying to be “huge” is not something I can cope with very easily, and I’m much more comfortable tinkering with a lot of little things on my own schedule.

I also suffer from an obnoxiously short attention span. As hard as I try, I just can’t commit to one project at a time. I have too many interests and I’m always being lured by something new after a week or two. I really envy entrepreneurs like Ben Schlappig who can stay laser-focused on one thing at a time – I just can’t. I said a lot of these same things a year and a half ago when I wrote about my entrepreneurial personality, so this is nothing new to me. I’ve always been this way.

So if it isn’t obvious by now, my plan going forward is to do what I always revert back to naturally (without trying to fight it like I have been): just build stuff. Build. Deploy. Build again. Deploy again. In addition to the 9 websites, I’m also going to start selling things on eBay. I’m looking for as many sources of income as I can – all working together to turn cents into dollars.

I’m also going to start trading again. Yes, that’s right. I know that I swore off stock trading forever, but I’ve decided to get back in the ring and take it easy this time. I’m not going to swing for the fences like I used to, and all I’m looking for is small wins. $50 here. $100 there. The only thing that will be similar to before is the fact that I won’t be day trading. This will be entirely swing trading, meaning that I’ll stay in a position long enough to make money. I don’t need to make a lot – just enough to add it to my pile of income from other sources every month.

So here we go. Back on the horse. Back in the saddle. Yee haw!

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