Failure Stories - How did it occur, what was the damage, how did you rise again?

Sep 17, 2014
I think people need to see time and again that failure is only failure if you fail to get up and dust yourself off.

1) Have you had any big failures in your career? I don't mean small ones, and I definitely don't mean ones that happened because you're lazy and didn't commit. I'm talking about when you went balls to the walls and it didn't pan out for whatever reason.

2) How did it happen? Did the tide turn on you, or did you screw up your market research? What happened?

3) How extensive was the damage? How much time and money did you lose? Did you lose relationships?

4) What lessons did you learn? Was it worth it?

5) How did you rise again? How long did it take to bounce back? Did you go back to the same idea or go back to the drawing board?


Staff member
BuSo Pro
Digital Strategist
Sep 3, 2014
My first foray into the industry was a success but it was tied to another activity that I eventually quit due to time constraints.

EMD Micro-Niche Disaster
But then I got serious about giving SEO a pure go. After making some sites here and there, I decided to jump on the micro-niche wagon while the EMD boost was so good. I made 30 sites. I customized 30 themes, filled them up with like 30 pieces of content each. I took major care of all the on-page stuff. Everything looked good and was good.

Then I realized there was no way for me to build links to 30 sites in any normal amount of time to make it worth while. So I got a copy of Scrapebox, Bookmarking Demon, and a ton of other old tools and went to town. It worked pretty good.

But one of my old sites popped off really good. So good that I went full time. I abandoned all of the 30 sites and just let them expire while I kept working on the one good site. But, like a dummy, I had hit it with a ton of nofollow comments with Scrapebox at one point to dial in the anchor texts. That came back and bit me when Penguin 1 dropped. That site was penalized.

I had just moved to a new town, gotten into a nicer townhouse, quit my nice job, the works... and was left with zero income in a strange new place.

Mistakes Made: Spam is bad on good projects. I had to learn this lesson again. Scaling when you're not ready can lead to a catastrophe.​
Lessons Learned: Go for it. Go hard. Because you push yourself into corners where you have no choice but to learn how to make it work. And you find courage too.​

That led directly to the next disaster...

PBN Scaling
I had an online buddy at the time who was watching me crumble. He was the guy who saw the sense in making white hat authority sites long before anyone else in our huge circle thought about it. I started one then, but also used my last $800 to start a private blog network. We went back and forth and invented something the industry had never seen before, and I legitimately was the first person to offer it, and it paid off big time.

You can't even find a PBN these days that doesn't offer what I put out first. For me, it was a huge marketing angle. Now it's expected and there's no angle to it. You either have it or you don't. I won't reveal what it was for the sake of privacy.

But I gave review copies to some of the biggest names in internet marketing at the time and got them to share their reviews, and it was off to the races. The reviews were genuine because this "new thing" had so much power, and sales started coming in fast. I scaled as fast as I could, adding more domains to the network and denying tons of buyers to keep the network safe.

It got to the point where I had around 100 domains of the "average" power and started buying up really powerful domains. $6k was the highest I dropped on one at the time.

Fast forward and I had filtered buyers really well but two of them (I know and remember exactly who it was too, both are on BuSo and barely post, you bastards) started buying trash PBN links to their sites and started spamming their sites and all the PBN links they bought, tying my nice network to the trash network.

Google found it through that and went through my footprint with a fine tooth comb. They deindexed the entire network, gave all my current sites penalties whether they had gotten linked to from the PBN network or not, and even went to some of my old sites that I no longer even owned and deindexed them too. I ended up refunding the past 6 month of sales or so, it was so much money I was basically starting over again (again).

Two lucky things happened. The first was they didn't penalize my nice white hat authority site I started at the same time which was doing good, but they did hit two of my other sites that were bringing in some nice pay per call money at that point. I later got those unpenalized and sold them, which people saw go down here on BuSo. The second lucky thing was they didn't touch my expensive domains because they were so new that they didn't get enough correlation I guess to see them as part of the network yet.

Mistakes Made: Spam is bad on good projects. I had to learn this lesson for the 2nd time. Scaling a service is amazing, but when it's on a bad foundation like PBN's are, you can be guaranteed it will end. This kind of attention for introducing ground-breaking concepts to the industry makes you a target. I've had hack attempts, DDOSing my sites, all that, just for doing well. People wanted to find my personal sites to learn from them, and some wanted to destroy them because they couldn't pull it off. There's only one person from the circle I've seen get a worse treatment online. I won't even say who but they'll see this and get a chuckle.​
Lessons Learned: Services are great. I made a ton of money for having a "safe" and unique PBN. Nobody expected refunds, we all knew the risk. But I made so many contacts and got to see the sites of nearly every player in the industry. 99% of them should be ashamed of how poorly they're put together. But it also never stopped them from making money either. The main lesson is to not go into something like this if you're not positioned to say "hey, they got us" and have handled the finances correctly for the fallout. I fortunately took care of both.​
Current Day Thoughts
What I'd say now, after losing my cashflow and significant chunks of my net worth a couple times and learning from it is... go white hat and go authority sites, but don't already be full time. Because then you're bootstrapping and wasting even more time that you need to make up. That's what I did, and I might have been better served to go get a day job or roll out another, more stable, service. But instead I put my head down and grinded.

Now I'm sitting on a nice asset and it's time to scale. But I should have been scaling from day one, backed by some other cashflow. There's nothing wrong with a day job, freelancing, or offering a service. There's nothing noble in grinding away to make up for the lack of investment cash. That's how I got on my feet again. At least I had enough sense not to take a business loan for SEO. But cash injection early would have changed a lot.

Get paid however you need to, as long as it's honest, and invest it into other projects wisely.


Back War Mongering.
Jun 20, 2018
@Ryuzaki, I got a chuckle out of that, but i don't think im the person you're thinking of. I never offered anything on that forum but some of those shady fuckers on there who i thought i could trust as allies trading info and resources ect. raped and pillaged the shit out of my stuff. I then got a site bowled that was doing $900-$1100/day in commissions. After that i ranked another site back up in the pay dirt, finally got it cash flowing and got bowled again. I finally said fuck it and left that market alone. I have a good idea of who it was as a few friends told me who it was from that forum. Im still pissed about that one, anyway lol.

My mistake was being too trusting and maybe too open about what i was doing trying to help others out (some of the wrong people).

Lesson Learned: This industry isn't always a bunch of laughs and giggles holding hands, dancing under a rainbow while on the beach as the sun is setting; this shit can be dog eat dog at times. Build trust and relationships with your allies, keep your circle small (quality, not quantity), and keep sensitive information under your hat.

I could list a pile of mistakes ive made over the years doing this stuff for a living, the main lessons i have learned are to maintain honor/integrity/credibility while conducting business with others, that and always take care of your troops/men/laborers. They say karma is a bitch, i believe karma CAN be a bitch, but it can be awesome as well. I have helped a lot of people over the years and it has always came back to me 10 fold.


Digital Strategist
Nov 26, 2014
Have you had any big failures in your career?
I think at the root, my biggest failure has been bottled most generically as

"Trusting In Others"

I kinda mean that in more ways than one.

Whether it was 1 actual person, a group of friends, associates on Skype, teachers in school, my employer and co-workers, or just society as a whole.

Given enough time, everything is proven RIGHT and WRONG. There are always multiple truths depending on which side of the fence you are on AND the time spent on that side of the fence.

If I were to list out all the failures that fall under this, I would never stop typing. It would be too long and exhausting to read. Yes I went balls to the wall on all of these.

How did it happen?
I would put it squarely on my own research being the failure. When you trust in others, you shortcut looking into it on your own.

The tide can not turn against you if you are researching on your own and you get the research right. You either avoid it or ride it out completely like a surfer on top of the wave.

Putting trust in other people though, leaves a gap that failure can drive a Navy Destroyer through.

How extensive was the damage?
I've lost millions of dollars, a relationship with a prior girlfriend, and tons of time over it. In my wife's case ( her own battles with same subject ), she lost her entire family over the same subject of trust and most of her friends.

Not to mention all the arguments with my wife and kids, the feeling of depression, lost productivity from the depression, missed opportunities, etc when trust gets broken or fails.

The negative impact on you mentally and physically is immeasurable and can only be reviewed over a longer time frame as it plays out.

What lessons did you learn?
You've got to do your own research. Even if you trust someone, look into it yourself.

If you don't do the above step, then you have to tell yourself you're fine with the bad outcome if it should ever come down the line. You build up the expectation that you are good with any negative that might come from it because you didn't care enough, or because you were too lazy to look into it yourself.

If you don't care enough, then anything bad that comes from it likely won't impact you.. because you didn't care anyways.

If you are too lazy and just shortcut with trust, then you need to live with any repercussions that follow and grumble through whatever it is you have to work through to fix it later.

Basically, you're making a bet at a casino when you put trust into anything or anyone.

Are you OK with the loss if the bet turns out wrong? This is what you have to live with if you aren't doing your own research correctly.

You gotta put your roots into the ground at some time and take a stand for yourself. Don't waffle around in the winds of trust blowing around aimlessly thinking wherever it blows you is the right outcome for you.

Dig those roots in, grow tall, and bend with the winds of trust. But don't let them overcome you and take you where they will. Stand your ground and know what your outcome will be.

How did you rise again?
This is still in the making, but reaffirming in myself again was a start.

Learning that everyone else is stupid was a start. I don't mean you are stupid compared to me, but what I mean is "everyone else is struggling, everyone else has no clue, everyone is just repeating the same BS over and over again and doesn't really know".

Passing this to my kids is also how I rise again so they don't fall into the same trap.

Passing this on to you as the reader, is also how I rise again.

I might get hit by a bus tomorrow. It might be too late for me. But passing this on to you and others, the advice lives on.

I've made more "my own" choices in the last several years than I have the rest of my life combined. Not buying into the "trust of others" so to speak. It has made a world of difference.

Knowing who I was, and not what the world wanted me to be, also made a difference. You can learn more about that at

Don't blindly trust in others, unless you have researched it yourself and can live with the negative outcome.. if there should be one. Find out the answer for yourself at the very min.
Last edited:
Nov 17, 2017
I once asked a 76 year old german i met at the mall who had been to over 70+ countries what his biggest regret was

he also mentioned trust as #1

he said you could either trust upfront or you could let people prove themselves to you gradually depending on the situation

In a conservative case where downside is costly you let people prove themselves otherwise you trust upfront