Nonlinear Growth and the Dot Com Mindset

Slow and steady wins the race. We’ve heard this adage so many times before, it borders on cliche (if it hasn’t crossed over already). It’s the same reason why so many health and wellness experts advise advise against starting some fad diet or ramping up your exercise routine too quickly. That’s how you end up with the yo-yo effect of yo-yo dieting. You might lose a lot of weight in the beginning, but then you’ll plateau, lose motivation, gain the weight back, only to start the cycle all over again.

That’s why you’ll hear so many people telling you that slow and steady wins the race. It’s not about getting the biggest change as quickly as possible (read: “get rich quick”), but rather about establishing routines, habits and systems that allow for long-term, sustainable change. They say the same thing when it comes to investing and retirement savings. Steady contributions, coupled with the power of compound interest and multiple streams of income, is how you’ll achieve your retirement savings goals.

The Online World Is Different

And, truthfully, that makes a lot of sense in a lot of different contexts, whether you’re talking about trying to lose weight or save money. But it’s not nearly as true when it comes to making money online, particularly if you have any interest in influencer marketing or otherwise expanding your reach and potential on social media channels.

I’ve said before that you shouldn’t build your online business on rented land. By this I mean that while platforms like Facebook and Instagram and Twitter are certainly remarkably valuable for reaching new and existing audiences, you will always be at the mercy of their algorithms and platform changes. One swift change of the algorithm and your earning potential could plummet. The house of cards could come crumbling down tomorrow and you’d have no real recourse.

That’s why your business needs to be bigger than single platform.

Forget About Slow and Steady

But even that aside, you have to recognize that your growth on any of these platforms (or even on your blog directly) is probably not going to be linear. It’s not a slow and steady growth that you’ll experience. You won’t build up your audience and views and clicks incrementally. It happens in fits and starts, spikes and valleys. This nonlinear growth is very much the norm, and it’s a big part of explaining why you’re not making money on YouTube (but you could be making a lot more tomorrow).

Let’s start with a more traditional, conventional mindset. You decide that you’re going to put up two new videos every week on YouTube. Your first video might only get 10 views. The hope is that your second video will get more than that, your third even more than that, your fourth even more than that, and so on. A linear progression that propagates a positive feedback loop. Each time you put out a new video, it does better than the one that came before it. Or even if we were to look at this on a more macro scale, you might hope to see more views month-over-month, year-over-year.

For better or for worse, that’s probably not how it’s going to work. Chances are your first 10 videos aren’t going to be seen by very many people. Maybe your first 25 videos won’t be seen by very many people. This can feel really disheartening, because you feel like you’re being consistent, but you’re not getting that instant gratification and reward of positive growth. You’re tempted to throw in the towel, because it doesn’t appear to be working.

Huzzah! Huge Success?

And then, miraculously, video number 26 racks in way more views than any of the others. While you wouldn’t go so far as to say it went “viral,” it’s many multitudes more successful than any of your videos that came before it. It’s a huge spike. You think that you’ve hit on the proverbial gold here, and it’s a sign of incredible things to come. Except video number 27 tanks. For most people, again, that’s really, really disheartening and discouraging.

But if you apply the dot com mindset, that you’ll know that success on the Internet — just as much as success in the offline world — is almost always a nonlinear progression. Sometimes, all it takes is one “viral” hit or one “big break” to push you over the edge. They say that the first $100 is the hardest to make. But once you do, you’ll understand so much more and be much better prepared to earn the second $100, and then your first $1,000 and beyond.

You just have to keep an open mind, be willing to experiment, and stick around for the ride.