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It’s been 2 months since I’ve returned to blogging and honestly feel like I’m back home. This is where I find peace and happiness and know now with certainty that I want to make writing an instrumental part of my life.

In the 2 years I was away, my life has changed dramatically. Quitting my job, selling my house, and getting divorced are some pretty major events and I’ve taken this time to really reflect upon who I am and what I want to do with my life.

These thoughts led me back to this blog.

A Brief History Of This Blog

In October 2010, I created Ending The Grind out of frustration. I was frustrated with my job and wanted a place to vent. I was also frustrated with my marriage, my past choices, and subsequently, my life.

I jumped into writing and I wrote with passion. Passion fueled by anger, remorse, and fear but also with a sense of hope. I knew there was a better way to live and I was going to fucking find it!

And I took to it like a fish in water. I went all in.

I spent every waking hour I could learning about blogging and developed a growing community of like minded people. I read blog post after blog post trying to learn the tricks of the trade and become as knowledgeable as possible.

How do I get more traffic? How do I connect with people on Twitter? How do I create an income online? There were questions running through my mind every day and night.

 

The Rise

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It was all so surreal in the beginning. I wrote and wrote and people came by the dozens, then the hundreds, then the thousands. The more I shared, the more people seemed to care. The more personal I got, the more connections I made.

I made friends online and off, talked with dozens of highly respected entrepreneurs, and began to run in some high profile Internet social circles.

I spent hundreds of hours creating my blog into exactly what I wanted and I was damn proud of what I’d accomplished. I worked with web designers, social media experts, was mentored by some amazing and successful people, and interviewed some incredibly talented individuals. I wrote over 200 posts and received more than 4,500 comments.

And to top it all off, I launched my Year Of The Grind project in early 2012. I had the Freddy Krueger of blogging, Danny Iny as a business partner and was finally starting to see some of my hard work paying off.

I received email after email from new bloggers asking how I was getting so much traffic or how I was able to create such an engaged audience. I had interview requests, guest post invitations, and felt like I could accomplish anything.

And had I not stepped away when I did, I honestly feel as though I would have had tremendous growth and success.

 

The Fall

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And in the midst of all the positive things happening on the blogfront, things were declining fast on the homefront. My marriage was suffering more and more with each passing day. What free time I had was spent connecting with some faraway stranger in cyberspace and not with my wife, who was on the couch 10 feet away.

Blogging had taken over my life and was on my mind 24/7. I felt like I had only one choice if I wanted to stay married. So I walked away from blogging.

Less than 2 weeks later, my site was hacked and all my traffic was gone. And I didn’t care. I let it sit for a while, prompting the following Google warning message:

hacked

And that pretty much eliminated any remaining potential visitors!

I didn’t want to pay someone to fix the site, since I wasn’t certain I would return so I made a few calls to BlueHost to see if they could help me. In their attempt to help me locate (and remove) the malware, I inadvertently deleted a number of files, including all the images I had used since I started.

Oops.

It didn’t really matter to me though and I let it sit idle for months.

And as I continued to focus on my marriage, I couldn’t help but to think about the lost opportunity I had. What if I had stuck with my site? What if I had completed my 2012 project? What if Danny and I launched a kick ass product and created a lucrative revenue stream?

What if? What if??

Now, I’ll never know what might have happened had I chosen to stick to my plan and completed what I set out to do, but I am OK with that.

All I know is that I have the ability to start over and create something even more incredible this time around.

And that’s exactly what I’m planning to do.

 

Rising Again!

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When I came back in January, I wrote my “first” post, Reawakening The Grinder, with no plan for the future of this blog.

I did know however, that I would have a long road ahead of me but didn’t realize just how challenging it would be. I foolishly believed that once my old readers realized I was back, they would come in droves.

They didn’t.

The above screenshot is my traffic since I’ve returned. When I left in 2012, I was getting roughly 700 visits per day. I now have 25. I feel like I am starting over from scratch and in a sense, I am.

But instead of whining about it, here is how I plan to recreate my traffic:

  • Guest posting. Although this has long been a popular strategy for getting traffic to your site, it still works. I do have a guest post strategy and have recently started writing for other sites including LifeHack and DumbLittleMan.
  • Writing “must read” posts. Creating great content should be a given. If we are not writing great stuff, then we should expect to lie in the average pool. Writing exception stuff, stuff that people have to talk about and share is how to become a standout.
  • Connecting with other bloggers. I’ve recently started commenting on other blogs, sharing via social media, and reaching out to people. This business is all about connections and who you know. My plan is to be everywhere and to be known to everyone in my niche. I’ve already started emailing individuals I want to associate with and possibly work with in the future. And I’m just getting started.
  • Being creative. Just following in the footsteps of others is not enough. I have a lot of exciting ideas for this blog and can’t wait to start launching them..

 

Evolution Is Mandatory

Someone once told me “for things to get better, you have to get better” and it’s so true. For things to change, we need to change.

A perfect example of this is my friend, Tom Ewer from LeavingWorkBehind.com. When Tom and I were in a mastermind group in 2011, he was struggling to grow his online business and was making little or no money.

He had the same concerns that many of us have; how do I reach my target market? What is my target market? How do I become insanely useful to them and offer tremendous value? How can I create a sustainable income doing this?

And guess what? He evolved, he changed, and he figured out the answers to these questions. And if you look at his site, you will see a great resource for aspiring freelance writers. He is now making a full-time income doing what he is best at and what he loves to do.

And that’s what it’s all about.

 

Teaching An Old Dog…

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I’ll be the first to admit that I’m old school. I’ve always thrived on routine and sticking with what has worked in the past.

I still use a paper calendar, write all my to do lists on a notepad, and only recently upgraded to a smart phone (LOVE the iPhone by the way!). I like parking in the same spaces when I go to the store, taking the same paths when I walk, and driving the long way to my destinations because I know the routes well.

But people evolve. I need to evolve. My writing needs to evolve. What inspired someone in 2011 is not necessarily the same as what inspires them now.

I often feel like I’m that guy who is still stuck in the 80’s. I still find myself writing about the same topics in hopes of recreating exactly what I have done in the past. Well, I know now that that doesn’t work. Blogging, Internet marketing, and social media all move with the times.

And I just may find myself irrelevant if I don’t evolve as well.

This isn’t easy for me but I’m working on it daily. I’ve got a lot of catching up to do for the 2 years I missed and am very much game for the task.

I guess this is a very long way of saying that change is coming. And lots of it. There are a lot of great things on the horizon and I hope you’ll be a part of them…

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