If you haven’t yet heard the phrase information overload as related to your online business, you will soon. Unfortunately, not only will you become familiar with the phrase, you are very likely to experience the feeling. Information overload eventually, if not sooner, happens to the majority of new Internet marketers. When I first started my online business, I already knew a lot about technology and some about building websites. But as I progressed, I definitely had many bouts with information overload. And yes, at times it threatened to overwhelm me.
The main problem with feeling overwhelmed is that it can “shut you down.” Instead of energizing you to work harder and learn more, it often makes you (well, me, really) want to retreat. All I want to do is crawl under a blanket and hide. Or binge on chocolate. Either one allows me to avoid that overwhelmed feeling. This happens when I convince myself that I have simply have way too much to learn. And then I tell myself that I that I have to learn it ALL, now!!! This idea that I have to acquire this excess of knowledge immediately causes negative feelings that hurt my productivity. Feeling overwhelmed, frustrated, and more confused than before I even started ensures that I lose focus. Not good!
Information overload happens easily with this industry because there are so many new concepts you have to learn. Each concept can lead to an endless array of opportunities and possible outcomes that can send you down multiple rabbit holes as you struggle to untangle everything.
Causes of information overload
For example, you can be a product owner and an affiliate at the same time. You can use article marketing, social marketing, or pay per click campaigns to sell either your products or affiliate products you are marketing. Then you have to start learning what all those initials mean like SEO, PPC, PPV, CPI, CSS, CRM, PLR, CMS, B2B, B2C, FBX, and even ESP. No, not the reading your mind type of ESP.
As a newbie, you may not know much about any of the above. Suddenly, you have been thrust into an environment where everyone’s opinions differ. At the end of the day – heck, maybe even by the time you get your first cup of morning coffee, you don’t know where to even start learning all this stuff.
Believe you me, I have been there – in fact, sometimes I go back and visit old man Overload when I am trying something new. But, these are some of the things I have learned to do to avoid staying overwhelmed for long.
Calming down when panicked
The first thing to do is to take a deep breath. That’s right – a deep breath. Now. Now scream at the top of your lungs.
Just kidding, everyone. Take another deep breath and then work to calm down those feelings you are having. Easier said than done. So, how do you reduce this panic? The next two key steps are internal. The steps you need to take to bring a sense of calm require you to rethink. Or, to think differently, as it were. This “rethinking” will take the pressure off of you because many of the feelings you are having are a result of pressure you have put upon yourself.
Rethinking what you need to know
The first step is to realize that all the information you need to digest isn’t going anywhere. The information will be available to you tonight, next week, and a year from now. Or longer. So, you can take your time learning everything you need to learn because the information will continue to be available. When you are ready for that next step of learning, the information will be waiting for you.
The second thing that it is hyper-important for you to internalize is this: It is OK if it takes you longer to learn all the information you need to learn to build your business. Often, we put a limit on ourselves thinking that we HAVE to start making money in the first month – or even the first year. In reality, we all start at different places. So, it will take us different amounts of time to start making money. Make plans and set goals – but if you don’t meet them, don’t panic. Just revise your goals. Measure progress and only compare yourself to yourself. Whatever you do, don’t compare yourself to some blogger that tells you they made $6000 the first month they started blogging.
Calmer now? Good. Because, the bottom line is this. It is very very difficult to learn something new when you are in a panic. So, now that you are calm, how do you move forward to learn everything that you do need to learn?
Work on chunks of information
One thing I have to avoid is going off in many different directions at once. My ADD can kick in and I can easily go into a frenzy of downloading courses, subscribing to newsletters, downloading eBooks, etc. Then, I feel like i have to learn it all. Now – mind you! NOW! And, pressure mounts. So, to avoid putting this pressure on yourself, don’t invest in a guide about Google AdWords, another about Squidoo, and another one about Private Label Rights all at the same time. This will increase your pressure to learn it all. Now, now, now. NOW! Instead, work to learn one concept at a time.
There’s an age old riddle that you can use to calm yourself. It goes like this: “How do you eat an elephant?” Answer: “One bite at a time.” Well, Internet marketing is your elephant. You have to choose whether you want to eat the ear, the foot, or the tail section first. Then move on to the next part. Most of the time, it doesn’t matter whether you start out learning about social marketing before you know the ropes of article marketing.
The idea is instead that as you educate yourself about one concept, put that knowledge to work for you. For example, as long as you read the social marketing guide and apply that insight to a method of making money, you are making progress. Once you have that mastered, move on to the next concept. You are looking for progress, not perfection or even absolute expertise.
Focus on the most important concepts first
Some things won’t make sense to learn before others. If you know you have no money to start with, then don’t buy (or even download for free) a guide about pay per click marketing because you will not have the money to do this yet. If you try to learn it while you are also learning about everything else, then you increase your sense of panic. Instead, start with something you can do.
As you are working to learn everything, try not to rush forward too fast. I had this problem when I first started because I fell into the “Learn how to build a blog in one day” trap. Because I wanted to make a million dollars overnight. You understand – right? Anyway, I threw that thing together fast. Not one day, but fast. And started loading it with articles.
Then, I found out it is better not to just throw out articles because they need things like photos. And SEO tweaks. And Pin content. And. . . Well, you do get the idea. When I thought I had to do it all fast, fast, fast I quickly became overwhelmed. Panic set in. I had to learn more and learn it faster. Then, I had to find out more about that. Whew!
Search for support
When I couldn’t even think through the panic, then I had to remind myself to just sit back and start nibbling on the elephant. In essence, I had to start over at square one and decide what I needed to know to move forward. At that point, I decided to invest my time in a company that provided training and a step-by-step way to move forward. They were instrumental in providing support and guidance when I got lost. And could provide information on every topic I needed, when I needed it to move forward. And helped me understand what I needed to learn first, then next steps.
The great thing is that they provide an intensive course for free that will step you through the process without cost. If you decide they are worthy and I think you will, then you can move forward to get advanced and ongoing support and help. In this way, you can immerse yourself in one topic or concept before moving on to the next.
Regrouping to avoid panic
Now, having shared this, I wish I could say that I never suffered from information overload again. But, I think this is something that Internet marketers fall prey to all the time. This is probably because things are changing so fast online and new products or methods of making money seem to be available every day. Algorithms change. New products or plugins become available as others fall to the wayside. Updates happen.
So, when I begin a new tactic, I have to begin learning anew. When this happens, I still take a deep breath. Then another. Then, I remind myself that the information will be there tomorrow. And I will master it and be successful at a pace that meets my knowledge, skills, and schedule. I eat that elephant one bite at a time. And you can too. Indeed, always remember – You’ve got this!