A few years ago I attempted to create an online business. It was a website called Smart Archery. In it, I reviewed crossbows. It made money through affiliate links.
I went through many challenges during this project. I had to learn how to make a website, then how to write, how to sell, how to SEO, and more. The biggest challenge for me, however, was the fact that I had to lie. I had to pretend I was an authority in a niche that I had no experience in.
I only chose this niche because, through my research, it seemed like a good one to enter — the products were expensive (which means high commissions) and the competition was low.
I saw so many people in the affiliate marketing space become very successful even though they had no previous knowledge or interest in their chosen niche, so I thought “why not me?”
At the time I was only thinking about that sweet, sweet passive income. I didn’t realize how much I would have to pretend, and subsequently, how much it would discourage me.
Every time I finished an article, I felt like my soul had died a bit. Yes, I did tons of research to make the review as accurate as possible. But the people that read about the products want to read from an authority, from someone who actually tried the product. They want social proof. And if they knew who had written it, if they knew the truth, they wouldn’t take it seriously. And rightly so.
Because every step took a lot out of me, I was never able to get out of the “valley of despair” that entrepreneurs speak of. Eventually I passed the website to someone who had more expertise and passion in the niche.
From then on, I decided that I want to honor my need to be honest. That’s why I decided to be an open book in my blog. I have this rule where, if I don’t feel comfortable disclosing something here, then I shouldn’t do it.
Although I may have done the wrong thing by pretending I’m someone I’m not, I’m extremely grateful for what I learned by doing the project. There’s the technical knowledge, but the biggest thing I learned is about myself: I don’t want to be part of anything in which I need to lie to either get ahead or keep things from falling apart.