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This guy is delusional about building a blog, but see how I'd bring him back to reality
Last Updated January 16th, 2014

Whether you’re looking to do something you love,  trying to build a business, or just sharing your message (and expertise) with the world, it’s no secret that I believe you NEED a blog…

…And you should begin building it (or growing it) TODAY.

I’ll share why in a second. First:

The other day I received an email that was a little disconcerting. They wrote:

"I just subscribed to your blog. I have a blog, and I want a $1 million content business by the end of the year. I’m at $0 currently with 60 subscribers."

What’s wrong with this picture?

Well, I got this email in the second week of January, and 2 weeks in, and it’s not looking good.

But aside from that, the BIG problem with this email is this:

He was a Delusional Dreamer.

You see, I’m not going to say doing something like that is impossible…

(Back when I started Social Triggers, I soared to the top of the market. I went from being a nobody to being the guy who got written up on FastCompany.com. I went from speaking into a mirror to speaking to audiences of 1,000. The fact that I built a highly profitable business was the bonus).

…but it’s going to be TOUGH.

My dirty little secret is that I’ve done this before. Several times in several industries. I had the systems, skills, and experience to make it all work.

And check it:

I didn’t even have a $1 million content business in the first 12 months.

I also never even thought I’d build something that large in the first 12 months because I wasn’t a delusional dreamer.

Instead, I fancied myself a Reasonable Realist.

Now, take a look at this revenue growth for Social Triggers over the last few years:

revenue growth for Social Triggers
What do you see here?

Things are going well, obviously. But look a little deeper into this graph for a second.

Zoom in closer to 2011. I had almost NO revenue for Social Triggers. Then in 2012 and 2013 things spiked up drastically.

What’s the big lesson?

I couldn’t reap the rewards of 2012 and 2013 without first burying myself in the mud in 2011.

I couldn’t create videos like this:

Good social triggers tv

Without first creating videos like this:

Bad social triggers tv

And that’s the BIG PROBLEM with people who are looking to start (or grow) their businesses today.

Like the delusional dreamer who emailed me, they want their first year to be BIG.

I get it. Who wouldn’t LOVE to have a great first year?

But since they focus on their big first year, they refrain from ever starting.

They keep their head in the clouds and never experience a year like my 2011. And that leaves them mired in mediocrity.

They say things like:

"I don’t have the time for it right now…"

"I’m not sure what I should do first…"

"I’ll do it later…"

But no one who ever achieved anything ever said any of these things. Especially when it comes to building a blog.

As a matter of fact, if you look around at some of the most successful people, you’ll find that almost no one goes from 0 to a million in their first year. It’s usually years of slow growth first before they "pop."

This is because they approached their businesses as Reasonable Realists. Instead of dreaming about "hitting the lottery," they focused on the MOST IMPORTANT THING:


Now the question is, can you bypass those years of struggle?

I believe you can, with the right education and training.

You see, most people sit back and try and figure it out, which is why they struggle for 1, 2, 3, or 5 years before they get anywhere.

And that’s why one of my favorite quotes comes from John Maxwell:

"Smart leaders learn from their own mistakes. Smarter ones learn from others’ mistakes–and successes."


Now let’s circle this back to blogging:

There are some people who think talking about blogging in 2014 is like "beating a dead horse."

But that’s spoken like a true FOOL. And in the words of MR. T, "I PITY THE FOOL."

I know there are people out there who either:

a) have not started their blog yet (and know they should)


b) have a blog that hasn’t yet started to yield a return.

Here’s the deal:

I believe everyone needs a blog, whether it’s for their business or for themselves. And I believe everyone should build their blog the right way in 2014.

If you’re one of the people who haven’t started a blog yet, do yourself a favor and start a blog today. Set one up for the first time by following this tutorial.

(Even if it’s just yourname.com).

If you’re one of those people who have a blog (but you’re unhappy with the growth), then start growing it.

(And if you know someone who can benefit, send them a link to this blog post and tell them to get on the email list).

Next week I’m going to share more about how you can start building your blog THIS YEAR. I’m also going to open enrollment for Blog that Converts, the step-by-step system for building a blog that fuels your business.

So, if you’re not on the email list, HOP ON IT. If you subscribe today, I’ll give you access to a free ebook where I walk you through “How to Get Your First 5,000 Subscribers.”

You could delay doing all of this, and that’s fine aside from one key point: The further you push out your start date, the further away you are from your "good years."

So, let’s get started TODAY.

We’ve all got a little "Delusional Dreamer" in us, and that’s okay. But let’s try to all be "Reasonable Realists" from this point forward. Especially when it comes to OUR businesses.

P.S. In the mean time, if you’re wondering "Why should I build a blog?" Read this article right here. It’s an older one, but it’s more applicable today than ever before.

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75 comments Leave a comment

wow!! what an article πŸ˜€ you should have a dream but at the same time you do possess the skill to make that dream reality. i also built my site from the grass root level, using my skill i’m earning significant amount of money now. my advice is be a dreamer, at the same time create a burning desire to make that dream come true.

Sarah Walker

Can you at least give us ONE tip on building a blog that converts right now? I don’t want to wait until Christmas πŸ˜‰

Ivan Widjaya

What an inspiring lesson. What is surprising is that most beginner bloggers start out with big dreams. That’s because of all the get rich quick schemes on the Internet. It’s nice to see a little bit of reality in all these delusions.

Alison Smith

This is a very timely article for me. I created my website only 7-months ago, and it’s hard not to get caught-up in comparison-syndrome. I spent the last week being so worried that I wasn’t doing the right things because my list is building so slowly. But, in the end, that is reality. Hardly anything successfully explodes onto the scene. Thanks, Derek, the reminder is greatly appreciated.

Jane Frankland

This is a great post Derek & one that I’m sharing. I now know that an online business operates as per a J-Curve model. Your graph demonstrates this beautifully. Now I’ve built a 7-figure business before (within 2 yrs too) but it was a consultancy – very different. Building an online business takes much longer, but if you persist, with time, it’s totally possible. BTW I couldn’t agree more about taking a shortcut via those who’ve done it before. The trick of course is to know who’s genuine πŸ˜‰

Paul Jordan

Definitely true that getting noticed is a lot harder than it used to be. People starting out need to be totally new and original to even get noticed. No good copying just what everyone else is doing.

Akash Agarwal

The main benefits of blogging are exponential because instead of serving your viewers you are serving someone else’s audience. Thanks for sharing such nice article.


Your really know how to turn random visitors to subscribers…

Craig McBreen


I’m two years in to a 2-5 year plan. How’s that for patience πŸ˜‰

I like Sonia Simone’s “Surviving β€œContent Shock” piece where she wrote about “Rainmaker Content.” Content that solves problems, brings forth passion and authority, finds a fresh approach to a topic and makes it interesting to read. That’s the recipe.

A blog works, but it also takes time to find the approach that truly works for you, to network properly, and to build the type of authority necessary to make it all work.

Jon Dickson

It seems like far too many people I talk to have unrealistic expectations on making a business successful and what it takes. Everyone wants to get rich quick but no one wants to do the ground work. Thanks for this post. I know a few people that would benefit from it.

Stephen Anderson

Just do it now. Not then, not next week, not in July 2015, but now. Once it sup and running I can always edit it, and if i really have to, I can get rid of it and start over – using the knowledge I gained the first time around.

Would I like to make a million dollars a year from my blog? Absolutely, yes. But do I have to get mine up and going first (I am doing that)? Absolutely, yes.

Thank you Derek. Social Triggers is extraordinary.

Jon Brooks

Was I the only one who felt a little burnt when he made fun of 60 subscribers? hehe.

Great post.


I have to admit i was naive too when I started 5 years ago. I thought when I started my first website called Remember Me it would be the next big thing. Honestly, like you said that having the skills and doing made it more possible. That’s the truth. It takes years to get good at something and starting a blog or a website is decepitvly easy.

Maxwell Ivey

Hello; Thanks for another wonderful inspiring post. I got a laugh out of that email. Last year was the sixth year of my website and I’m now in the 2nd year with my blog. I sold 470,000 dollars worth of amusement equipment and made $11,000 in commissions received. that is less one large fee of 25,000 that is still outstanding but will probably never be received. So, you have to do the hard work before the growth starts to show up. I’m hoping to sell 1 million worth of items this year. I also hope to ad revenue from banner ads and sponsorship. I just started recording my own videos and they are getting good response so far. there is nothing wrong with dreaming as long as the dreams are not delusional and they don’t keep you from taking action. thanks again for the post and take care, max

Lauren Lund | Code Culture

Hi Derek! I couldn’t agree more with this post. I’ve only JUST started blogging and although I don’t have a “million dollar content business” (I only have about 8 posts so far), I get new requests for web design work EVERY SINGLE THURSDAY at 10am when I update my blog… I’ve mastered the art of sharing my posts, following your 80/20 suggestions, and it’s helped my business to stay busy (and grow much faster than I could have expected).

Thanks for your rad advice! I’m excited to see how my revenue 3 years from now will compare to this years as I continue down this road… That will be the true test! I’ll be sure to keep you updated πŸ™‚

Isaiah Hankel

Great post, and I completely agree that everyone can benefit from starting blog. One of the keys for me was finding my purpose, and the message that I wanted to convey to others. As soon as I had a clear purpose for writing, everything else fell into place.

Kevin Johns

I think one of the major challenges during that early phase of buidling an online business is knowing where to spend borrowed funding. Look at Derek’s videos for example. The new videos look a lot better than the example of the videos, but the new videos cost a lot more to make too. Hair cuts, costuming, lighting, backdrops, and quality audio and video all cost money.

So do you start with low production values and only go for the high quality stuff once you are pulling in revenue, or do you spend the credit to produce the high quality stuff right from the start? I’m still not sure.


    I think that there is a way to do it all in a low budget situation without the need to borrow money. Especially since one doesn’t have an audience to wow with production value.

    What I suggest is to concentrate in providing valuable information. The value comes from great content. Not necessarily from pretty white backgrounds.

    All you need is an iPhone, and a plain white wall to start. Build an audience, then upgrade to a shiny new camera and a light kit with the profits.

Patrick McGilvray

Love this Derek! I always stress the importance of building a helpful, meaningful blog to all of my clients. I often get pushback – “how can a blog possibly help MY business?” The answer is clearly “How can it NOT?”


Spot on Derek. People want to go from A immediately to Z rather than going from A-B-C etc.

Sid Kassidy

You are awesome! Thanks!


Yea, I remember when I wrote my first Blog Post. I was like “Why didn’t I get 100 comments on it, like other blogs do.”

Truth is: You have to BUILD your blog πŸ™‚

Ron Lum

This post wasn’t about psychology studies applied to business like you normally do, but it was something more applicable to everyone: dealing with the challenges of being self-employed or an entrepreneur. It’s amazing that some people can’t have a realistic expectation of business scaling and that people can’t accept the fact that all the trial & error, making mistakes, and optimizing that goes on in the beginning of a business does make for a rough start, but it’s all in the name of having a more efficient and profitable future. Great post.


Marsha from YesYesMarsha.com

This was really inspiring. I’ve been looking at my goals, and sort of fluctuating between being a DD and an RR. I mostly came down on the side of RR, but it’s grounding to hear this from you. Thanks!

Kristen Poborsky

Hooray Derek – you are right on the money with this! I tell my clients all the time that Content Marketing (blogging and sharing content) is one of the most important things they can do to build their business. But it doesn’t stop there, they must track what’s happening and then adjust their content to reflect the likes of their tribe.

I do what I tell my clients to do and blog on a regular basis. I am personally experiencing growth just like you mention in your article. Because sharing content is a great way to market your biz.

I purchased your training and do what you recommend – and it works!


I believe a lot of the ‘want BIG now’ attitude comes from watching shows like X Factor. We see people come out of nowhere and end up winning and getting a career out of it. What we don’t see is those contestants didn’t just get up that morning and decide to audition, they had been working away for years to perfect their skill so when that opportunity came along ‘one day’ they were ready.

Fitness Inspiration

This is exactly the motivation I need to continue. I’m only six months into my blog/podcast and I sometimes get discouraged about where I am today.


Fitness Inspiration

Thanks for this, Derek. This is exactly the motivation I need to continue. I’m only six months into my blog/podcast and I sometimes get discouraged about where I am today.



Oh man, it is so easy to get stuck in that “I can’t do anything yet because it’s just not ready, I’m not ready, the timing isn’t right, etc..” type of mindset when first starting out.

The prospect of starting out can be tremendously overwhelming, but honestly the only way to conquer it is to just jump in head first and start learning. It is actually a HUGE relief to just get started, even if you feel like you don’t know what you are doing!


Hey Derek,

a friendly kick in the butt – thanks!

Another thing I have read is to yes, have a blog, but focus even more on guest posts – even if you do not have that much content on your own site yet.

Have you used guest blogging / posting for yourself, and if so, how did it work for you?

Have an excellent day!



The fact that you just quoted John Maxwell and Mr. T in the same article makes me love you more than ever. πŸ™‚


Crazy sexy fun traveler

I agree. It’s important to take action asap πŸ™‚ Good luck to everyone!


This is so helpful! I need that constant push to just get going on my blog. I “started” a blog about 8 months ago, but I probably only have about 8 blogs posted. Its pitiful! I get so caught up in “getting it perfect” that I’m not giving myself the slack to just get out there and write. Good reminder! I’m looking forward to your Blogs that Convert program.


Nothing wrong with being a dreamer but as you say, need to have a foundation as well.


Gee, that sounds reasonable. Sure, thank you, you must do many other things, too. I started a blog in 2010 writing 1-2 articles a week, every week. Not much better now. Had a list of over 4,000 subscribers, who downloaded my free 9 ebooks. A bi-monthly newsletter. Not much better now… Must be doing something wrong, but what?

Stan Eigi

True. I totally agree that these are just delusions (we all have our delusions, don’t we?). It’s applicable to anything that takes time to grow: from a blog to a city. You can’t expect to be a super-beginner who reaped the fruit of his labor immediately after starting a blog… Great eye-opening article.

Scot McKay

The secret is that small successes beget larger ones. That’s the mindset to have.

He who celebrates the small successes uses them as springboards to the next level, and so on.

Going from zero to $1M is too big a first step indeed.

Matt Lewis

Mash potatoes and gravy, Derek! I love your stuff. Thank you. I’m still way in the mud and learning the basics but thanks to mentors like you, P. Flynn, and others who do it well, at least I have started and I’m figuring some things out. Still planning and cooking but at least DOING and not making excuses. Thanks for the encouragement and inside scoop.


Great article Derek. I am in the online poker industry. The amount of emails that I get from delusional dreamers is astounding. All they want to know about is how long will it take until they can make xxxxxx money per year. It gets really tiring answering them in fact because this is NOT the way it works at all. The fact that they think this way is almost a sure sign that they will fail in fact. I might just start pointing them to this article instead! πŸ™‚


Hey Derek, great post!

I believe that what everyone needs is dedication, content, actionable tips, and lots and lots of patience. I really think that if your blog only has ONE reader, that is all it takes to get started! You are already helping out someone! I have been writing at my blog for a year now, and IΒ΄ve only got a bunch of readers, but I love them very much, and if they read my posts, I do the writing for them!

Wendy Nicole Anderson

This message was spot on for me as well as all of the comments. I am in my first 9 months of my business as a life coach. I started out with the mindset that I would be in full profit mode in 3 years and this post today help validate that. It has been a huge learning curb for me. I have started a blog, but I am not being consistent. Not sure about how to increase readership and engagement. I am determined to keep learning and pushing. Thank you for being real and inspiring. I really enjoy your emails and videos. You make total sense to me.

Barbara McKinney

This is the problem of almost all businesses right now. They think that success can reach in just a snap. I think it’s time for us to face the reality, pull up our sleeves and let’s get to work.

Matt Schmidt

One of the catchphrases of internet business that still hold true:
‘It’s a marathon, not a sprint”,

Social Briton

.. hey, LAY off the crisps, mate! πŸ˜‰


Great lesson and take away just from that video comparison. Never knew your videos were of such quality way back then!

The Get In Shape Girl

What a fantastic post Derek!! I can’t wait to share it with some of the ladies I’m mentoring as they begin their own online personal training businesses!!

Lise Halskov

Great article, Derek. I guess people are trying to find the latest miracle cure. Like with training or losing weight, it may sound wonderful to just get an instant “fix”, but guess what: It takes a lot of work, no matter what.


Hi Derek,
Thanks. I’ve started a blog in the area of personal development. I have quite a lot of knowledge in psychology and NLP and I love these matters. There’s one problem, though. I have this passion I’d like to blog about but I don’t know who my ideal reader is and what they want. How can I find that out? I tried checking out similar blogs but I can’t find others like mine. Usually they’re wishy-washy and I prefer to post about science and tried-and-tested tips. How can I find the answer to my question?

Vanessa - Natural Family Today

This is so true. I am in my 3rd year of my current blog and I am just now starting to see some profit return. Granted, I wasn’t always blogging for profit. I only got serious about profit and growth this past year and my readership has grown by 600%. The other important thing is to never stop learning. You never “figure it out”. As a blogger, your methods and tactics have to be ever-evolving based on what is getting you the most traction.

And I completely agree with you that you just have to START. You have to pick something and do it, even if it means making mistakes. Yes, even big ones. Make no apologies. Roll with it, and your readers (usually) will, too.

Adam Roseland

This guy is totally sane. It is my goal to start as qb in the superbowl next year, so I should link up with this guy so we can chart our progress together πŸ™‚

suzen pettit

I’ve been tracking your success since late 2011 Derek, mostly because that is when I started my own business and blog. sad to say that my success hasn’t exactly exploded to the same extent that yours has , but i have my own set of excuses for why this is so ( single parenthood, etc.). that being said i took your blog that converts program and it has definatly made a difference in the steps that i take and the leaps in business ( and ranking) in the past year. the other secret that seems so simple but so many miss is that you must, must, must do good work in order to accrue more business. seems like a no-brainer but people miss this really important factor. good work, or better yet, great work. that’s what makes you sticky in peoples minds and leads to referrals.


Love the contrast of the old and the new you!

What ever happened to the snazzy vest; also, was there a reason you were missing a button one day?

Seriously, you are a role model and inspiration!

Brian Carr

My takeaways from this post was that you need to have systems in place to help fuel the growth. For me, I believe that has been the largest thing holding back the growth of my blog. I have a 12,500 person mailing list, yet I haven’t come up with good enough systems to continue to grow the site and sell to the list.

Don’t get me wrong, I’m pleased that my blog has made about $20,000 in revenue during both of its first two years, but I also know that with a little oomph it could and should be at 20x that amount!


There should be a second graph here demonstrating the correlation between your haircut and your revenue – for sure your cuteness has increased dramatically over the last 3 years as well!


Good one Derek,

But, don’t you think it’s a good time now to invest some of the revenue in the business again and built a nice MOBILE SITE.

It’s really tough to read your stff on mobile.

Chris Lalor

Thanks Derek. I recently start my blog called Life Insurance Shopping Reviews. I am in a very competitive market. Your emails and ebook have been a great help & inspiration.
Chris Lalor


This was a great reminder today. I’ve started, but now I’m in the keep going until I see results phase. There is so much to learn and do between starting and arriving though. I’d better get to it!

Jim Wang

In my first year of Bargaineering, I made like $3,000 and that mostly for signing up for things myself through an affiliate link. Year 2 was closer to $30,000 and then it spiked to $300k and then $700k in subsequent years.

If you want to find pearls, you gotta get into the mud and crack open a few oysters.

    Brian Carr

    Jim – wow, that is incredible! I’ve got to ask – how did you make such a substantial jump?

      Jim Wang

      Hard work and persistence? πŸ™‚

      Actually those were important, but the reality is I discovered how “things worked” online in terms of making money. Affiliate marketing, advertising, and all that were unknown to me that first year.

      That, plus the rise of personal finance blogging, some strategic choices in what to go after, and “linkbuilding” resulted in those gains.

Brandon Devnich

Derek, that’s perfect. Thanks for layout out what should be obvious to everyone.

We all get a little “Delusional Dreamer” once in a while. A new product or service is offered and “if only I move X many units, I’ll be RICH!”.

But then reality hits, when not even a tenth of those “if only” units move because you expect magically customers to buy “your thing” without doing a ton of extra work in marketing.

Been there, done that.

Started our own business in a storage room 13 years ago and we didn’t see good growth for a couple of YEARS. Our growth was a few of those 2011 years before we started seeing the 2012 growth-style spike.

This article was a good reminder to keep your expectations in check, and do everything you can today (not tomorrow) to make your venture a success. Thanks again!

Anthony Tran

Well said Derek…. often people focus on the perceived instant success, but they don’t know the back story of how many years and how much hard work was required to get to that launching point. I really like your before video picture and after. It doesn’t have to be perfect… it just needs to first get out there… and learn and adjust along the way. Great stuff!

Kumar Gauraw

This is awesome Derek! I have been following your blog since you didn’t even have any video and I know how much work you have put together to bring it where it is today (not just that background πŸ™‚ )

Thank you for sharing your own testimonial and giving hope to those in trenches and persevering to make it happen. It does take hard work, perseverance and a lot more overcoming to become an overnight success πŸ™‚

Great post Derek! Enjoyed reading and going to share now!


Sarah Jordan

Derek, I loved the flashback to “vintage” Social Triggers footage! Thanks for showing that we all have to start somewhere. It doesn’t have to be perfect, it just has to be done.


    It just has to be done! So true Sarah!
    I’ve wanted to do video’s for a while for my website but I keep putting it of out of fear of looking like an amateur. But looking at your cute little haircut made me realize that I have to start somewhere too.
    White background or not.
    Thank you Derek!


“look at how white this background is!”

Hahahaha…People don’t know the struggle man!


My goal is to double my income this year.

I once was told that the reason ants can carry 100x their own weight is because Zero times 100 is still Zero. Go figure.

So reaching my goal should be no problem. And I think it’s realistic.

Adam LoDolce - Sexy Confidence

Hi Derek, this is totally right on. It takes time and effort and building to get a blog moving. It’s taken me 6 months to launch SexyConfidence.com with ZERO revenue. Now it’s finally a revenue source. But that’s ALL I did for 6 months (since I had lunch with you actually!)

John Shea

I think it’s awesome people have ambitions and goals but 0 to 1 million in a year is not exactly realistic.

I’ve found consistency, focus, taking action and believing in yourself are all keys to achieving your goals. 2 years ago I was not making any income online, struggled for a long time and let my friends make fun of me the whole time but I knew if I kept going, kept learning I’d eventually start seeing results and now I am.

I’m not any where close to a million but if I keep going, sure anything is possible if I stick with it. The same goes for anyone.

Karim Boubker

It’s is true that the first few years of blogging should be more focus on building and creating a reputation within your chosen industry… but it seems like this blog posts is steered towards the idea that the way to approach blogging has changed in 2014…

If so, in which way has it changed… and what is the more important than ever now?

Frank Giovinazzi

Thanks for this, that revenue chart is awesome and funny at the same time, and perfect timing for me. I am in the 13th month of a new business and it was paying the rent by month 10 and I am pushing to get it into real income territory this year. And I agree, you have to lay the groundwork, intelligently, before you even get to the starting line.

Josephine Bila

Thank you for being honest about this, Derek. I think it’s so easy to get discouraged when things don’t seem to be going fast enough. We don’t typically see the evolution of an entrepreneur, just the end result. I get upset thinking I’m not working hard or fast enough. The truth is, I’m learning and doing as much as I can. Things will progress in due time and I shouldn’t expect to be an overnight success. No one should expect that.

    Ryan James

    Well said Josephine!

    I couldn’t agree more. The revenue chat sure speaks volumes as well.

    Slow and steady wins the race.

      Josephine Bila

      Thank you, Ryan!! YES! πŸ˜€


Skills and training definitely make it easier, but there’s nothing more important (no matter what your goal) than setting – and stating – your intention.

If you are the sort who hits the snooze button 5 times and then complains that you aren’t productive and “can’t get up early”, then you haven’t set your intention to change your scenario. If, on the other hand, you have to get up at 4 am to catch a flight to Barbados, I bet you won’t be hitting that snooze button! That’s because, in this one instance, you’ve set your intention to get up when you meant to.

You’re right. Whether it’s a blog or anything, all you have to do is start. And then set your intention to keep going.

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