The REAL Secret to Succeeding Online

by Jason Gracia · 48 comments

1“So…what does it really take?” he asked. “What is the real secret to succeeding online?”

I didn’t blame him. When I started my first online business in 2001, I was under the same spell, convinced the men and women succeeding online knew some secret code that I simply needed to crack.

While the rest of us were struggling with snail-paced tactics and low-level strategies, the super successes were playing a different game, making behind-the-scenes moves to create massive results.

I imagined it would be something like this…

My Night at The Insider’s Club

It’s midnight. I’m walking down a lonely city street when I notice a shadow leaning against a wall ahead of me.

“Hey. You looking for the secret to succeeding online?” he asks in a hushed voice, peering side to side to make sure I was alone.

Slowly, I nod. “Yeah. You got the stuff?”

“Follow me.”

He turns and leads me down a dark alley. I follow. Gripped by excitement and uncertainty, I jump as a black cat hisses at my feet when I pass a dumpster filled with old computer parts. This must be the place they all talk about.

Up ahead, a faint glow outlines a door. My guide approaches, peers again over each shoulder to make sure the coast is clear, and knocks three times…then knocks again. The secret password.

After a few seconds the door swings open, unleashing a beam of light into the alley. The shadow steps back, nods his head toward the entrance, and waits for me to enter. I accept.

The light overwhelms my eyes as I walk through the door, squinting to keep from going blind. In an instant my ears are filled with the laughter and excited chatter of the men and women inside. This is the promised land of super success.

My eyes adjust and the scene slowly comes into focus: A 1920′s jazz band plays at the front of the house, electrifying the crowd of party goers on the dance floor. Round tables are scattered throughout the club, holding the drinks of the Internet’s icons.

I first notice the bar along a side wall, a stream of faces in conversation filling every nook. Through their shifting stances I notice Clay Collins, keeping close tabs on quantities purchased and sold, his fingers rattling along a register to keep track of the latest conversions.

I look into the club and see David Siteman Garland in animated conversation with Melanie Duncan, his hands punching the air, sharing tales of his latest product’s success. At another table is Pat Flynn, earnestly explaining his plans for peaceful world domination with Chris Ducker, who listens intently. Marie Forleo and Laura Roeder are across the room, hypnotizing a group of onlookers with stories of early partnerships and life-changing results.

Derek Halpern is on his feet, speaking with gusto about the ties between psychology and business, Ramit Sethi close by to tag in when he needs to catch his breath. Lewis Howes strikes the Heisman pose for a small gathering in the back of the room, surely an introduction to the story of his football past and LinkedIn future.

A map hangs against a wall, dimly lit by a delicate chandelier. Chris Guillebeau stands before it, guiding an enraptured audience through his journey ’round the world with insightful commentary by Jonathan Fields. Corbett Barr and Caleb Wojcik sit close by, gripping their table to keep from falling down with laughter, compliments of Chase Reeves.

An empty chair catches my eye. A name card sits on the table in front of it, Scott Dinsmore written in bold black letters across its surface. No doubt in a far-away land teaching the world to live their legends.

Off in a corner, far enough to quiet the thumping sounds of the band, Brian Clark, Sonia Simone, and Jon Morrow sit, relaxed, in a semi-circle of plush cushion, listening in on a conversation between Chris Brogan and James Altucher.

In the opposite corner, guarded by a velvet rope, sits the VIP table, holding the drinks of such luminaries as Godin, Ferriss, and the wily Burchard. They clink their glasses and enjoy the view before them.

As I take it all in, one voice stands out, near a table close to the entrance. Sleeves rolled, wine in hand, four-letter words flying like poison-tipped darts, Gary V admonishes a handful of Lost fans on the need to stop watching their favorite show and start hustling.

I step further into the club. When I do, the music stops, heads turn, and a voice from the front booms: Ahh! We have a new guest! Welcome, welcome. Right this way!

A path opens before me, leading to the stage. As I take careful steps toward it, approving smiles guide me on either side, knowing grins happy to welcome another member to the club. We were once in the dark, but after we discovered the secret, everything changed.

I reach the stage and hoist myself up. An empty chair waits for me. As I take my seat, the entire club gathers round, ready to share the one thing I’ve waited for my entire life. The REAL secret to success.

I rub my hands together, ready for the key to quick riches and fame. The group of icons murmurs quietly, waiting for the moment when the truth finally hits me and changes my life forever.

A spotlight flickers on, illuminating the space in front of me, just off the stage. I see a mic stand, and up to it walks Gary V. He taps the mic, clears his throat, and leans in, moments away from sharing with me the real secret to success. I can hardly wait. 

Hey, moron, there isn’t one.

Fade to black.

The Truth

As the years went on and I began to experience some success, the truth started to come into shape. A few more years and the truth smacked me in the face. I get it now.

I remember looking for the secret, thinking if I can just figure out what it really takes, if someone can just tell me the actual steps, I’ll do it. At the same time, I’ve now worked with many of those super successes, I’ve seen the inner workings of their empires, and I’ve discovered firsthand what it really takes. It’s nothing like I imagined.

I’ve struggled with the gripping fear of mounting bills and I’ve enjoyed the elation of $10,000 days and I can safely say the secret to success is letting go of the Secret to Success.

There is no secret, no behind-the-scenes magic worked by the biggest names in the industry. There are no special moves or methods that, once uncovered, will change your business overnight.

There is only the truth: Success is a matter taking one successful step after another.

Brendon Burchard just finished another million-dollar launch. How did he do it? He added email subscribers to his list, provided value, developed a product, and sold it.

Yes, he’s a savvy businessman who uses many systems to grow his empire, but it isn’t anything you can’t do or aren’t already doing. He has no trick up his sleeve, no mysterious power shared alone among the gurus. He’s simply doing the right things, day after day.

Selling over $900,000 of my programs began with a single sale.

One sale. Then two.

I slowly but surely moved forward, doing promotions, adding partners, advertising in newsletters and on blogs. The results compiled and eventually led to six-figure success. But a hundred thousand dollars started with one.

Don’t get me wrong. There are many moving parts to a successful online business (and I’m here to teach them all to you), but don’t be fooled into waiting for the secret–it’s never coming.

The Dangers

That’s the danger…the waiting.

People who suffer under the myth avoid taking action because they’re waiting for the REAL thing to show up. They buy just one more course, hire just one more coach, read just one more post.

I clearly remember hiring a millionaire coach, confident she was going to reveal earth-shattering advice that would revolutionize my business after a single session. I simply had to figure out her secret.

I hadn’t taken any real steps forward. Why waste my time and effort on small moves when I could leap ahead with the actual keys to making millions? She shared no secrets. She had none to share. Her millions came on the back of hard work, proven systems, and consistent growth.

Ahh, but you’re not out of the woods just yet. There’s another danger. When you believe there’s a shortcut to massive successes, you ignore the small ones along the way.

An old client of mine was an expert in writing sales copy. After helping her put the pieces of a winning business in place, we flipped the switch and it went live. And it worked. Within days she had paying clients, which, given the fact that 99% of websites don’t earn anything, was incredible.

But it wasn’t overnight riches.

My client was disappointed. She wanted to know the REAL secret, as if I had been holding back the truth path to success. Her disappointment grew and eventually she gave up. Little did she realize the keys to success were already hers; she had the golden ticket in hand and simply had to expand what was already working.

The myth killed a sure thing. 

The REAL Secrets to Success

If you want to succeed online, my friend, I want you to do three things: First, let go of the myth. Second, build a solid business that delivers results to you and your audience. Third, grow that business.

Six- and seven-figure experts aren’t working magic. They’re simply following small steps, one after the other, building on proven results and repeating the process day after day.

And, apparently, they’re living it up in the 1920′s.

_____

What Do You Think?

Have you been taken in by this myth? (Perhaps even now?) Have you discovered the truth? What did that do for you and your business? I want to hear your stories, insights, comments, and questions, so click below and share your tale.

Comments

Dean

First off – This was an incredible story Jason. Your way of keeping me engaged was incredible. This may the first article I’ve read every single word of in a while.

Second – I’ve been that guy and still find myself forgetting that we all need to take baby steps, our first product launch, our first sale, our first.

I think it’s something I need to shake into my head, I’m an action taker (hugely) but I always feel like I need more and more.

It’s the myth.

Knowing how incredibly transparent, authentic and knowledgeable you are I think it’s safe to say it’s time to leave this secret myth behind.

Thanks man!

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Jason Gracia

Dean,

Admitting you have a problem is the first step to recovery. :)

It’s only natural to believe in the Secret to quick results. It’s the unnatural among us who recognize the truth, that progress is a matter of inches compounded, not of miles leaped.

I’m happy to say that you’re becoming more and more unnatural every day. Keep it going.

Jason

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Yazminh

Omg, so you have everyone I want to read and learn from, so now that includes you! Great tip (and tip-offs) – thank you! Am looking forward to reading more from you! :)

(Btw, you were spot on about that Dinsmore guy.)

Yazminh
Live Your Legend Local Ambassador ;)

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Jason Gracia

Yazminh,

They are quite a group, aren’t they? Thank you so much for joining our community and share your thoughts. I truly appreciate it and hope you’ll be back for more.

We need people like you.

Jason

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Christopher Stafford

Brilliant post Jason! Entertaining, captivating, unique and fun….love it! Oh, and great message as well. Great job!

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Jason Gracia

Christopher,

Thank you for your support, my friend! I loved writing it, but the response is far more than I expected. That’s what I love most. As the message gets through, real progress can be made.

Jason

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Stephen Lahey

Build your business on the solid ground of a hungry market and work hard. So true.

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Jason Gracia

Stephen,

Success isn’t easy, but it certainly is simple. We like to make it far more confusing and complex than it is, often to avoid the heavy lifting of putting one foot in front of the other. As much as people try, you can’t avoid the facts–to make something happen, You have to MAKE something HAPPEN.

Jason

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Joshua Wayne

What a great post Jason. A question I can DEFINITELY relate to. Thanks for sharing so succinctly and poignantly.

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Jason Gracia

Joshua,

As the inspiration, I’m more than jazzed that you enjoyed the story and message. Even better is the fact that you’re doing it, you’re taking those steps forward and you’re getting results. This story shared the wrong idea and the right idea. Luckily for me you’re all about the latter.

Jason

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Beth

I want to go to that place, sounds like it would be the MOST fun, having drinks with you, Chris Brogan, Tim Ferris, Marie, Laura and Melanie. What a great post and what a great writer you are!!

The one thing I think so many people miss is that these “overnight” successes weren’t overnight at all- there are years of failures, small victories, changes in their businesses BEFORE the success came. At least knowing that it gives me the strength to continue moving forward, baby steps, working with the people that have come to know me and that love what I do, and want to help me succeed- like you Jason :)

My business is getting better and better and next year I know I am going to break through the 6 figure mark, because I almost made it this year-

The secret- just keep plugging away….it will come.
thanks again for always providing everyone with such inspiring and GREAT information!

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Jason Gracia

Beth,

Once again you’ve made me fall in love. Your comments, thoughts, insights, and stories appreciated more than you know.

And I couldn’t agree more–the myth of overnight success has killed (and is currently killing) countless hopes and dreams. People like to focus on the pretty package, all neat and tidy. They quietly ignore the raw hustle and hard work that went into that package, the years of learning, of trying and failing, of struggling while growing. When it comes to building a solid business, the myth is a death sentence.

Every great man and woman has a history of less than great moments. But they learned from them, grew and evolved, and continued striving. They turned failures into lessons, and lessons into progress.

I’m so proud of what you’ve done and what you’re about to do…six figures! That’s fantastic, Beth. We are all so thrilled for you and I am so lucky to have someone of such heart and mind in this little community. Means the world to me.

Jason

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Jen @ Daycare In Demand

Great post, Jason! (You have quite a flair for dramatic storytelling :)

I have definitely fallen prey to this myth in the past, and I just keep reminding myself: “better done than perfect.” Keeps me moving. I can adjust course if necessary, but (to mix metaphors) you can’t edit a blank page.

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Jason Gracia

Jen,

Another example of this important principle in action. From the start of our relationship, you were one for action. You planned, then executed. You learned, then improved. Repeat. That’s why you’re getting results.

We would all do well to model your approach. Then, instead of waiting for the big secret to change our lives forever, the bulk of would-be entrepreneurs would actually be taking action and bringing themselves one step closer to the goal.

Jason

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Scott Dinsmore

Great piece! Love the storytelling and an honor to be a part of the club :)

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Jason Gracia

Scott,

Was there any question about your membership?

Perhaps next time you won’t be so busy and can actually join us inside the joint.

Jason

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Casey

Awesome post Jason! I loved how you told the the story…kept me engaged right to the end! And you wrote this article for me, right? ;) My best line of the whole post was “When you believe there’s a shortcut to massive successes, you ignore the small ones along the way.” It’s easy to forget these with impatience and the constant search for the “secret ingredient to success” but it’s about the journey and acknowledging those small wins that counts. This is what helps with overcoming the myth in my experience.

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Jason Gracia

Casey,

You picked out the perfect line. Not only does the myth keep people from starting, but it sadly blinds others to the progress they’re actually making. I’ve seen this with clients, up close, as I’m sure you have as well. Heartbreaking.

Positive acts, day after day, add up. Like compound interest, a small act can lead to colossal results.

Lucky that I have clients like you who understand this through and through.

Jason

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Deniz Turkcu

Excellent post dear Jason. Thank you for the reminder, I think it was in the air and you have put it very nicely and bravely out there. My business started to grow when I have realized my hidden addiction to online information out there and while I was being inspired, months were passing by and I was still not able to pick an audience and start from there. But now things are getting in order and get done, also your encouraging post to me reminded me that only if I could shine, I could inspire others and that really showed me the path.

Start ups are difficult but possible with baby steps as Brian Johnson would say. However, still I cannot get rid of the desire to buy expensive coaching products and assistance from the experts. It is important to not get addicted to inspiration:) or information and manage the time efficiently wrt learning and creating.

Thank you for your guidance.

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Jason Gracia

Deniz,

You are a shining example of before and after, so I thank you for sharing your story. You know better than most the dangers of falling prey to the myth. You also know what happens when you put it behind you and start to actually move forward.

Education is fantastic, as long as it’s not replacing action. Keep learning, keep growing, keep evolving, but, always, keep moving forward.

Jason

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Lee

Great post Jason,

A fantastic reality check but also an endorsement of the facts. I look forward to learning more about your story!

Regards,

Lee

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Jason Gracia

Lee,

Thanks for reading! I’m thrilled to have you join the community and look forward to sharing more–and getting to know you and your business. :)

Jason

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Alixandrea

What a great story Jason! It’s especially helpful that you have listed so many Internet superstars who we can read up on, and see how they do things. I’d love to join that club just to meet these guys, secret or no secret. Although I have to say I wouldn’t be up for the 1920′s jazz… ;-)

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Jason Gracia

Alixandrea,

Learning from this group will set you on a clear path to success, without a doubt. They have helped me along the way with their friendship, wisdom, and example. However, to ensure we don’t lose you, I’ll swap the music next time for something a bit more…contemporary?

Jason

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Alixandrea

Even just a mixture of musical styles to keep everyone happy would do Jason! ;-)

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Jason Gracia

Very well. Next story is going to mix it up!

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Michael Knouse

This is brilliant, Jason! This is such a timely message…keep moving forward, taking baby steps, building on results and repeating what works. You are a master at breaking down the truth in new and inspiring ways. Well done!

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Jason Gracia

Michael,

Thank you, truly. I have to say, though, that your summary of the piece was equally powerful. In one short sentence you outlined the path to success, no jazz band needed. :)

Jason

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Michelle Dale

LOL I see a motion picture in the making there.

From my experience success comes, very basically putting it, down to two things, the wholehearted belief that you can be successful, and consistent action to move towards it.

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Alixandrea

Michelle, what a beautiful encapsulation of the essential facts!
Success = Belief + Consistent Action
How perfect! :-)

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Jason Gracia

I’m with Alixandrea. :)

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Susanne

What a wonderful success formula, Alixandrea :-)

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Alixandrea

Credit definitely goes to Michelle for thinking of it, I just wrote it out differently. :-)

I have it posted up on my fridge now, along with some inspirational quotes I’ve been collecting.

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Jason Gracia

Michelle,

Here, here! After so many years making so much progress, you have the experience and results to lead the way for the rest of us. Belief and action…like chocolate and peanut butter, an unstoppable combination.

Jason

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Susanne

Thank you, Jason, for you telling the truth about having success with an online business… I’ve been booking so many classes …. and hesitating to dare and put my offer online. – It’s good you remind me to DO the small steps necessary to become successful. So I’ve to be courageous – using the above success formula given by Michelle and Alixandrea: Success = Belief + Consistent Action

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Jason Gracia

Susanne,

I know exactly how you feel. There are so many doubts, worries, and fears that show up at our door, knocking as loud as ever, the moment we step forward to do something that matters. Ignore those knocks…unwelcome guests.

Put that offer online for the world to see. That will be the first of many steps that take you towards your business goals and personal dreams.

Jason

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Laura G. Jones

Thank you so much for that, Jason. What an awesome story! I agree with some of the other commenters, I see a motion picture in the future ;)

The funny thing is, the true wisdom comes from outside of this world of knee-scraping success-seeking entrepreneurs. When I was in the trenches of constantly preparing and studying and rehashing copy and never taking any action, it was my husband who told me the biggest entrepreneurs he’s heard of and worked with didn’t ask their coach what to do before they took every single step. They were bold, they had a dream, and they weren’t afraid to work their butt off – even if it failed. And when it did fail, they got right back up, dusted themselves off, and learned the lessons – but kept on going.

Such a valuable lesson indeed. Thank you for sharing!

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Jason Gracia

Laura,

I couldn’t agree with you more. Action, movement, execution…whatever the word, actually doing something–as opposed to eternally preparing–is the key to it all, whether you want to learn how to play guitar, restore a Corvette, or build an online business.

Jason

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Rebecca Tracey

Hey, you forgot to invite me to the party ;)

Great post!

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Jason Gracia

One day! :)

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Melody Granger

LOVED the story of the secret to success. Now I shall continue to plug away at the things that are working beautifully! (which is mostly helping my clients get fantastic results)

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Jason Gracia

Melody,

That’s what I love to hear! :)

Jason

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Adam

Excellent story telling Jason! Loved that! I was envisioning all of them how you described it, good stuff. Like Gary V says in his “famous” YouTube video (the one about Lost) from ’08 “PP — Patience & Persistence”

If there was a secret to success, that would be it. And hardwork, that should go without saying though

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Jason Gracia

Adam,

Glad you liked the post! I can safely say I loved writing it. :)

And I’m with you…hard work, persistence, and patience are keys we experts can’t do without.

Jason

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ganhar dinheiro

Hey this is somewhat of off topic but I was wanting to know if blogs use WYSIWYG editors or if you have to manually code with HTML.
I’m starting a blog soon but have no coding knowledge so I wanted
to get guidance from someone with experience. Any
help would be enormously appreciated!

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Jason Gracia

Ganhar,

No worries about being off topic–I’m here to serve, no matter the time or the place. :)

I have good news. With software like WordPress, you don’t have to code a thing. You simply type your content and hit publish. It couldn’t be easier.

Let me know if you need any further help!

Jason

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Lucy Barber

Really well put, Jason! I love the line “the secret to success is letting go of the Secret to Success.” There’s not any secret behind success taking work and persistence. It’s just that the reality that success takes diligence is hardly as alluring as believing that there is some kind of secret.

It’s funny how much energy people will put toward searching for the secret when that energy would be so much better spent on developing your business, one step at a time.

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Jason Gracia

Lucy,

Amen, sister!

“It’s funny how much energy people will put toward searching for the secret when that energy would be so much better spent on developing your business, one step at a time.”

Thank you so much for reading and sharing your comment. I look forward to seeing you around these parts again. ;)

Jason

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