An Early Mistake That Causes Some Websites to Choke (Video)


This post is for all the beginners or those who have tried to create online stores, forums or interactive websites and could not get them going.

But first, check out a few emails I’ve received recently.  See if you notice any similarities among them.

Hey Lisa,

I’m ready to quit.  I have been trying to make money online for nearly 2 years.  I’ve tried everything from Empower Network, Clickbank to affiliate marketing and AdSense.  Nothing seems to work.  Can you recommend the best way to make money online?


Hi Lisa,

Been following you for awhile and saw your video on Clickbank.  What products do you recommend I promote?  Can you share your top earners?


Hi Lisa,

What kind of website is best for AdSense?

Thanks in advance,

What vs. Who

One big mistake I see people making is they focus waaaay too much on WHAT they want to sell and HOW they want to make money, and don’t spend enough time on WHO they want to target.

Obviously you need to dedicate time to all areas, but many people become blinded by the potential income too early so the primary focus is AdSense clicks, the “best products” to promote, etc.

I often hear about the crazy amounts of money spent on design and development for online stores, but there has to be a plan for how people will actually find your sites to make a purchase.

This is the very reason turnkey systems are so attractive to people who want to make money online.

Most companies don’t educate people on the importance of building a niche audience first, which takes work.  And the formula/process is different for every site.

People get lured in by the ready-made website or online store with the bells and whistles, but setting that up is sometimes the easiest part. Attracting converting customers is more challenging.

There’s nothing turnkey about a website if you don’t have a targeted audience to sell to.

natural hair t shirts

My natural hair T-shirt store is having a record year.  No, I’m not making a ton of money with my Zazzle store, but it’s doing pretty well.

Well enough for me to dedicate part of the last month to developing new shirts upon request from a few forum members.

Sure, I could have created the store without a website and used social media, FB ads and word of mouth to promote it, but I feel it would have been a lot more challenging to generate sales.

And I didn’t really focus on promoting the store until AFTER the site, forum and YouTube channel were developed and active.

The Bottom Line…

Have a clear vision of WHO you want to reach and not just what you want to sell.

Build an audience FIRST through compelling content, video, podcasting, etc. and it becomes much easier to make money in the future.  Your audience may even give you ideas for what to sell through their questions, problems, comments, suggestions, etc.

Now, I will admit.  This is not the only way to generate customers.  Obviously content publishing/blogging is not for everyone and may not be best for every site’s model.

But if that’s what you plan to do, it has its advantages if you want to expand your website and create an online store, forum, interactive site, etc.

I created a video to illustrate this very point.  If you’re just starting out, it may cause you to adjust your approach.

Hope it helps!

Name: Email:


  1. says

    I think we miss this important aspect, ie, targeting your audience, because we believe in our products and assume that others will AUTOMATICALLY believe in them, too. We get antsy, with desires to be that ‘overnight success story’ that we hear about on those late night infomercials, lol. While we may have an actual business and it looks good, we don’t utilize all of our business mind to ensure it’s success.

    Add comparing your business to others and you really compound the problem!

    Thanks Lisa for this post. The ‘we’ I mentioned above includes me, too, lol. It’s back to the basics drawing board for me!

  2. says

    It is really sad when people spend so much money on just setting up a website when it can be done easily and cheaply just following some simple (and free) online tutorials. That is the biggie; starting out a business with a big debt, then trying to catch up! :(

    The whole beauty of an online business (especially blogging) is that you can start out very cheap; just basic hosting and a domain-name. Even if all you do is throw some Adsense on the site, the site will pay for itself from the very beginning and may even earn a bit of positive cashflow. Okay, it may only be a dollar or two, but it’s something! And people can make the site grow from there the way you described; by growing the audience!

    I think the mistake people make is that they think in terms of a traditional business; which usually means significant financial investment from the beginning. They can’t comprehend that you can start out a business with a $15 initial investment, plus a $5-$10 monthly expense. They think there is just something wrong with that picture. But there is nothing wrong; it is just different. ;)

    My heart goes out to people who put so much money up front and never see a return. Especially in this economy that just hurts! Especially since many people try the online route because they lost their job, or still have their job but with a reduced paychecks. :cry:

    Thanks, Lisa, for the reminder where we need to keep our focus! BTW, I have the same experience! More focus on helping, on interaction with readers, the I get conpensated. It is really a beautiful concept! :)

    • says

      You’re right. When I think about what I’ve made versus what I’ve spent, I would have NEVER been able to do that with a brick and mortar business. So some can argue that websites should be free but if you think about how cheap this all is compared to a regular business. The bigger investment is time and patience. Unfortunately some people don’t have a lot of that these days. :)

      • says

        You guys are just nailing it hard! I mean I’m only 2 months into the industry but I have had enough sense to realize all this and of course thanks to people like you Lisa I’m so enlightened. I can’t agree with you more that TIME and PATIENCE is the bigger investment here. Your post also confirms something I’ve learned recently: the WHO matters a great deal than the what, right there at the niche selection stage. Keep up the good work. You’re the blessed!

      • says

        Hi Lisa
        I totally agree with you. The big investment nowadays really is in “time and patience”
        Also, I am truly happy that Google have taken their stance against all the adsense/affiliate sites that have zero content. All they did was block up the search results.

        We are getting to a time now where talented people/writers and communicators can achieve great success through their sites/blogs.


  3. says

    Thank you for this reminder. I initially started my site as a hobby and to help others because I kept getting asked the same questions all of the time. Sometime I lose sight of that and get focused on trying to figure why I’m not making money instead of sticking to my main goal which is putting out quality content to help others.

  4. says

    hello lisa that’s really very important post. the first email question are really related to my statu. and you’re right when you say that people are only working for WHAT and WHO…. yes but nobody work hard for target people that’s the important step that really need speend most of our time maybe it will take long time for some people but the result will be really great if thet follow all what you show here.

    anyway thank you Very much lisa and we’re waiting your next post

  5. says

    Grade A material, Lisa. So glad I discovered you. The video and blog spoke exactly to my situation. I wanted to start a line of notebook journals to inspire people to write (just as I love to do), so I created a Zazzle store. However, from the jump I knew that wasn’t enough, and had a mentor give me many suggestions. So I created a blog and Youtube channel. At first I wasn’t sure as to what to present, but I just told myself that everything I needed to know will come to me. And it does. So like anything, it all takes time. Meanwhile, I’m having fun and taking pride in my work.

    Still, I have a question. In the “who” section, what do you do when you’re fully of ideas that aren’t specific to any one audience? On my blog I combine my drawings, stories, and reviews alongside my desire to write entries meant to uplift others (I do this in the process of my own uplifting). While I am having fun doing such, I also worry that my message is unclear or convoluted. I walked into this telling myself that the best thing I can do is be myself. I don’t have all the answers nor any marketing education. So many times I feel like all I have is me. I’m an Aquarius by the way. So that just might be a factor.

  6. says

    Yes i agreed with you like if we will catch mistakes in starting then it would not hurt deeply but if you will give more and more time to hidden mistakes then it could be prove costly for you.

  7. says

    I think the mistake people make is that they think in terms of a traditional business; which usually means significant financial investment from the nailed it thanks for posting valuable article

  8. says

    I am finding that a lot of my new clients are already trading or working with a good solid following on Facebook and twitter, looking to get a website or store to meet the demand. This seems to be the way forward. People who can’t or can’t be bothered to gain a following should not bother with a website as it would be a waste of time.

  9. says

    I totally agree with you that the turnkey businesses do not work. Sure they are easy to set up, but what no one tells you is that getting the traffic and the customers is going to be the challenge.

    I think we have all been there. Well I can say I have been. I love your T-shirt store site.

  10. says

    Hi Lisa,
    This is Madhu. You are my best teacher for ever to make websites and earn money..your Posts are really nice and very helpful..Mostly Iam a very Big Fan Of uuuuuuuuuuuuuu
    Thanks for sharing ur Knowledge…
    Could You Train me On SEO?????????????

  11. says

    Just starting to compose the website-actually started once but due to my mistakes had to restart! Thanks for the reminder—yes I was heading “deep” into the content and not addressing comments that pertain to the clients that really need m information….

    Technical question: can you tell me where yo went to find the frame of the chock-board and the font to resemble writing with chock-that you used in the video–I really like it!
    Enjoy your site and plan to use it more!
    Thanks, Mike Elder

  12. says

    Great lecture, Prof. Irby. Will we be seeing you in the hallowed halls of Business School?
    Heck, you could save kids a ton of tuition fees with this common-sense approach to building a business.

    Congrats on the growth (get-it?) of NC.

    I remember when it was just taking root. Okay, I’ll stop now. LOL



  13. says

    Lisa, when you think about it, this is what most people do when they are deciding how to make money or pick a career – even in the offline world.

    They base their choice on which career they think can make them the most money and so many of them invest thousands of dollars on a college education only to find out that after they graduate that can’t get a job or even worse, they get a job and end up hating it.

    It’s pretty sad.

    When someone is lucky enough to find something they really love doing and it benefits others at the same time, it’s a real blessing. Well I should say – especially when you can make lots of money doing it. :)

    • says

      Such a great point Ileane! In fact, I did that myself. I majored in Accounting because of the money and ended up HATING the courses. Thank goodness the Internet came along to put me on the right track because I was headed in the wrong direction all because of focusing on what makes more money. Very, very true!

  14. says

    I wish I understood this concept when I first got started in IM. And I admit, even after being in IM for a few years, I still didn’t fully understand this concept, but now I do.

    I just gave some input on a question similar to this on WB this morning, Lisa. This same concept applies to social media marketing. It’s so much easier to build a strong following on social media AFTER you’ve already built an audience on your blog/website.

    The same goes for monetization. You have to focus on the audience first, then the money will come as a byproduct of your community/audience. Or you might even get inspiration for products/services that you can make available to your audience once you understand what they need and want.

    And another thing is that if you focus on the WHO and directly engaging your audience where they gather, the monetization part isn’t as hard and it doesn’t take nearly as long as most people think. As you mentioned, Lisa, the reason why most people go so long without making money is because they’re not focusing on the right things in the first place.

    Thanks for taking the time to share your insights with us. I’ll definitely be sharing this post with my network. :)


    • says

      Ti, you always have such well-thought out points to make. And I didn’t get it right the first time either — many people don’t. That’s why failure can be our best friend because it teaches what to do the next time. Thanks for coming by!

  15. Ash says

    Hey Lisa I think I’ve had a brainwave. I have struggled for ages thinking of what keyword to focus on, my problem is some are too restricting while others allow leg room but are too vauge so I am thinking of targetting and audience rather than a keyword and use a branded domain name and build and audience through longtail keywords in the posts and social media. Has anyone done this before?

    • says

      You can target an audience but it still comes down to keywords because you have to think about what those people search for? So that’s why you can’t really just focus on one aspect. So let’s say you decide to focus on women who want to play golf. You still need to determine what keywords those people are likely to search for? Otherwise how would they find you? Maybe if you could give me an example (without revealing your niche) I can better assist.

  16. Demola says

    Hey Lisa, thank you for the insightful video. I have touched the critical part am looking for and do expect my success story soonest. Thanks a lot!

  17. says

    Well said! I always believe what’s in that person rather than what they can do. If the person’s hardworking by nature, they can do tons of things.

    If people aren’t making money, it’s obvious their processes aren’t right. Just have to sit down and crack their brain to find a way to measure success. From there, twit their way around.

  18. Phoebe says

    I have learned so much reading this Blog , the Forum and Videos.
    Even though I have a home office setup, and all the tools I need to to make money online- I can still get discouraged and “quit”. I have quit so many times I lost count.

    I told myself ,”I give up” but I need to remember that I made thousands online before I had my own websites.. ( I had a really lucky ad ).

    Now I am learning a new way of Niche Website creation and I have to learn how traffic works. Since this is not a ad and not CPA marketing.

    Procrastination is my worst enemy.

    I have been in affiliate marketing over 5 yrs and still learning something new every week.

  19. says

    I believe we all think about the money. The key is not letting it control our decision making. I am relatively new to online marketing and I am currently going through the social media process. I am working on becoming well known on three social media platforms. Boy…is it tough work! The posts, thinking up great content etc. There is no money directly in it but I am constantly engaging with people and slowly building up my social media presence. Once we all think long term instead of short term then it becomes easier.

  20. says

    Hey, Lisa!
    Another great post. I’m glad to see that you’re still selling on Zazzle.
    I need to start putting up new products on my Zazzle store – been letting it slide a bit.

  21. Daniel says

    Pls i’m having a problem of signing up in click bank. it seems like my country is not allow…i’m from nigeria. pls can there be any remedy?

  22. says

    The main problem is most of people comes in blogging by getting attracted watching the money can be earned here and ends up getting nothing. So you should start blog bcoz you like not bcoz you wanna earn big . If starting is good money will start flying in.

  23. says

    What most people don’t understand is that the money will come later rather than sooner. The important thing is to build on the foundations of your website first, stop procrastinating about when you’re going to do your SEO or build your content, then start complaining about where you damn money is.

    Just like anything, a good foundation is where it all lies and there’s no way but up.

  24. says

    You are perfectly right and I think that almost every beginner is prone to fall in this trap. From my experience in online marketing world I can say that focusing on developing quality and targeted content is a lot more important than only focusing on the potential outcome. Usually it takes some work but the end result definitely worths the time.

  25. says

    It is quite sad to see more and more people making websites for a quick payday. I get put off a lot of websites because I go on it and I know their articles are only there for one reason. People underestimate how crucial it is to get close to your audience and consistently producing good quality content. Lisa, you are a godsend for the internet. Your articles are always full of passion and we can see you love doing it. Keep up the good work :)

  26. says

    No one knows knows about rushing to do something and being lured into spending money by some fast talker, like I do. About 7 years ago I found myself with a little money to spend and wanted to start making money online. Instead of me proceeding with caution, I jump right in full speed ahead.

    To make a long story short when the smoke had cleared, I had invested over $5,500 dollars in this turn-key site. My total profit from this venture was a total of $3.00. I never cashed the check, I decided to keep it and allow it to be a reminder that if something sounds too good to be true, it probably is.

    Feel free to read about my story here:

    Lisa, I actually sent this post to my wife who is taking a step back and really trying to ensure she is targeting the right audience to her seminar site. Once again, thanks for sharing valuable info.



  27. says

    Your spot on there Lisa its all about providing quality informative information for the readers. To many people look at the end goal of purely making money. Create a good website with great information people will come and you may even make some money.

  28. says

    Universal law dictates that a man’s success is measured by how much his service helps others. The more your service/product/message aids mankind, the more success you reap.

    PS. Being natural myself, I couldn’t help but enjoy your t-shirt designs. However, I notice that Zazzle only offers Caucasian models (which in itself is a bit ironic, is it not?) *smirk*

    • says

      Ha ha ha! Yes and having a natural hair site, I would really appreciate having the option of using models that match my theme. They used to have an African American model but took it down for some reason.

  29. says

    Hi i love your blog and specially your hair..It looks good and classy..Coming to your topic its very informative…Many leaving mistake when they create website..well you have provided a nice solution..

  30. says

    I think for a new blogger must have patience. Its very important for success. Then he need to read famous bloggers biography. It will boost his confidence. Then he can start blogging

  31. says

    I totally agree with you that the turnkey businesses do not work. Sure they are easy to set up, but what no one tells you is that getting the traffic and the customers is going to be the challenge.

    I think we have all been there. Well I can say I have been. I love your T-shirt store site.

  32. says

    It is a nice post. It was useful to me. Forums and youtube can generate a great amount of traffic to your websites. Development of website is an easy task compared to getting traffic towards the website.

  33. says

    Hi Lisa, thanks for sharing this website. when i read email from your readers, i have to say, it is nothing new. And it’s not only happen in the internet, in happen everywhere in everyday life. It’s about mind set, and attitude of success. People tend to think that wealth can be built over night. Many expert, self-help books, motivator, article of how to make money online, talking about how easy it is to achieve abundant money. People then forget, that to get into that status, consistency, focus, still need to be done.

    Success is not a target, it’s an ongoing process. When we said to people we can help them to gain money; we actually use some of marketing technique to make people believe on us and buy on us.

    Not everyone like you. Most of people stop tutoring and mentoring their customer once they finished “buying” from them.

    Anyone who just started their way to make money online, must be guided one step out of time. They must be told to keep their mind open and that they are many things to learn, before finally begin to taste the success they wanted.


  34. says

    Like above ones I am also the one who is struggling to make money online, I thought I should quit for several times but I don’t know everytime I think of quitting I stop and ask myself “What let me go for this long”? everything will go in waste?

    So I am here with a new blog and will be following this post and will make sure that I wont make the mistakes again.
    Thanks Lisa

  35. says

    Web designers and developers know enough about sales and marketing to do effective Website planning. And too few entrepreneurs know enough to realize they aren’t getting a site designed to make sales and grow their business.

  36. Norman Brown Jr says

    You know Lisa, I got bit by the Internet bug after I could no longer work after I got sick. I ordered a kit from an infomercial. I adapted it to fit me. and started selling seasonal items on eBay. I generated a lot of sales, but then PayPal reared its ugly little head. I got frustrated and never recovered. Today I am gonna start by following your lead as well as, your followers. I will also evaluate my niche, it worked on eBay but I don’t know how well it does in other platforms.


  37. says

    I takes focus to avoid letting how much money you can make in a particular niche blind you. Building a website and content around who almost always guarantees success because there is always the opportunity to add value. I have been trying my hand in blogging for 2 years and have learned an invaluable lesson that focusing on people (who) and not what as you pointed out in this article makes a tangible difference if you want to succeed.

  38. says

    Hello Lisa, I stumbled on your site while searching for information on RSS stuff. I really love this post on why people fail in online business due to early mistake. I have really learnt all along from other people’s comments. In fact, looking through your work with a good appraisal I will never hesitate to recommend your site to anyone who wants to earn a decent income on the internet as a start up place for basic understanding of the steps to follow. I have gotten a lot to learn from you. Thank once again for the post.

  39. says

    Hi Lisa,
    very nicely explained by you that too many people focus mainly on making money online fast rather then focusing on the target group so that’s why they don’t succeed in doing so.
    In other words we can say that they are searching for shortcut’s to do so. But in real means to get successful one has to find out the interest of the target group. This information is of great help to all related to making money through blog. Thanks for sharing such a valuable experience.

  40. says

    Great post! I think the biggest mistake is giving up to soon. One of my sites took 2 years to earn money. I thought about ditching it, but actually completely forgot about it for a while. Then it started making money in january. Two years after I launched it.

  41. says

    The biggest mistake which i do in blogging is lake of knowledge of Search engine optimization. Years ago i Start my blog with new passion but that time i don’t have any knowledge about Right Plugin and how Search works And after that i get demotivated but wanna thanks 2createawebiste and It’s official channel on you tube. Lisa i don;t have any word to say thanks to your Video. Overall Nice article.

  42. says

    Every blogger do lot of mistake while starting a new blog. The biggest one of my life is to selecting the right niche. Due to lake of knowledge i unable to select the right topic for my blog but at that time i watch all the videos of you You tube channel and get the right way how to do it. Overall nice article

  43. says

    If you believe in fate, then I should say, luck is also important. I know people who do not have any specials skills. But since they are lucky and works smartly, they are making a hell lot of money.

    • says

      I guarantee these people have skills. They are probably just so skilled that they make it look like it’s luck. Making money always takes hard work unless someone gives it to you.

  44. says

    My site is 11 years old. I had problems because I did not know anything about how to increase my ranking. I incorrectly assumed that my web designer see up the sit to maximize how I would be seen by google. When I finally asked for my log in to WordPress I learned a lot. Basically my site was nothing more than a Billboard. It was visually appealing, But zero had been done to suggest to Google that they should spend the time looking at it. There had not been any SEO work done. The site was not interlinked. There were only a couple of links that went out. There was not even a sitemap. And certainly I was not told to have other site list my website.

    I am working on all of this now myself in between actually being an accountant. I guess as they say: if you want something done right; do it yourself”.

  45. says

    Thanks for your efforts. Saw your Video – very nice. But I still eager to know if I need special attention to google guidelines while Penguine 3.0 reliased now in 2014 ?

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