Why You MUST Avoid Shiny Object Syndrome

This is episode 3 of 7 of the Authority Hacker New Year Starter Series. If you haven’t been through the previous episodes, we suggest you go and check those out first.

What you will learn

  • What shiny object syndrome is (hint: it's a business killer)
  • The problem with shiny object syndrome and why it's so deadly
  • Why most people consistently fail to reach a critical mass with their sites
  • Our best hacks for beating shiny object syndrome and staying on track
  • When you should finally admit defeat and throw in the towel

What Is Shiny Object Syndrome?

Shiny object syndrome is the tendency to get distracted by new ideas.

It’s common in the online marketing space because with so many business models and success stories popping up, people constantly feel like they’re in the wrong business.

As a result, those people drop what they’re doing and start chasing the next big thing, hoping it will turn out better. Of course, it never does because it’s a lie. A mirage.

The Problem With Shiny Object Syndrome

When you see something is working for someone else, it’s easy to attribute that success to what niche they’re in, or what business model they’re using.

But what most people don’t realize is, these success stories are the result of years of hard work and countless failures. And even then, you never hear about how difficult it was for them along the way.

This is “survivorship bias”.

The logical error of concentrating on the people or things that “survived” some process and inadvertently overlooking those that did not because of their lack of visibility — (Wikipedia)

In other words, for every one person who’s making it work, there’s a hundred others who are struggling behind the scenes. You just don’t hear about those guys.

Critical Mass

As with any new business venture, it’s very difficult to find success early on.

In most cases, it takes time and effort to get something off the ground, but even more so to get it to a critical mass where things start to make sense.

If you’ve never felt success before, you won’t know how it’s supposed to work or how long it’s supposed to take. Before long, doubt sets in and it becomes more and more tempting to quit before you ever reach that point.

The truth is, most business models do work. They’re hard, but they work. It just depends how determined you are to see it through.

Examples From Our Careers

Note that our old sites which we mention below are not used anymore. Some have even been repurposed by others.


Started a travel hacking site called Neverflyecononmy.com. He learned all the basics of building and growing a site and got it to 100-200 visits per day relatively quickly. After 3 months, Mark was making around $100-150 per month in revenue until he abandoned the site after hearing success stories in the relationship/dating niche.


Started a dating site called Edatefinder.com in late 2010 despite a limited budget. After investing all he could into 10 pieces of content he resorted to spinning other peoples articles to create unique content for free. The site never really took off.


Started sites in several different niches including nursing, poetry and dating, as well as building a shaving site, apennyshaved.com, to $3-4000 a month in revenue. Despite his success, he still found himself wanting to invest in new sites rather than focus on growing his current business.

How To Avoid Shiny Object Syndrome

The only way to avoid shiny object syndrome is to choose one thing and stick to it.

That doesn’t necessarily mean you’re confined to one niche or one business model. The idea (and what we teach inside The Authority Site System) is to start small, master one set of skills, and then use what you already have to build a big business.

In order to do that, you have to tune out of the internet marketing hype. That means NOT consuming every blog post, podcast and video that gets published. That’s just not practical.

Instead, you’ll need to go on a low information diet. Only consuming information as and when you need it will help you easily avoid shiny object syndrome.

Finally, some people find accountability partners and mastermind groups to be invaluable for keeping on track with goals. After all, any source of extra motivation is worth considering.

When Should You Give Up?

We’ve talked about the importance of investing enough time and energy into something before giving up, but there will always be occassions when it does make sense to throw in the towel.

We recommend sticking to the 1 year rule. If you’ve started a site and you’re not seeing promising results after 1 solid year of grinding it out, it’s probably time to move on.

That said, if you are making some money from you site (more than $50 per month), it could be worth stacking a new business model on top of it instead of started from scratch. That could be putting ads on the site, finding more affiliate opportunities or even selling your own products.

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  1. I just want to say you guys are great. I love listening to your podcasts, I am listening to all of them and just joined the mastermind FB group. Thank you for all the info!!

  2. I have the two fold problem of not being able to keep enough passion to persist strongly on my music blog topic, and whether music might also be a dying industry. But I am a teaching tennis professional. So I am more interested in tennis. I Have started building a blog on that http://tennispr.blogspot.com/. But I am in that dry phase you speak of, making less than $50 a month. I do have contact with an established tennis blogger / reporter too. I think I will focus on the tennis, build off the music. I appreciate sites like Authority Hacker. Thank You.

  3. In listening to the “Shiny Object Syndrome” I wanted to share an article on the topic of focus:

    It comes from: Work The System – about systematizing your business.

    The guy spent 9 months one hour per day perfecting a 2 second guitar solo from Judiest Priest which consisted of 32 notes.


    The WHY… “He says studying and perfecting this tiny segment has improved every single note he plays, whatever the song or gig. ”

    Take the time to give it a read.

    All The Best,


    1. Thanks for the link Gary.

      This same principle is what Greene preaches in his classic book – Mastery.

      Granted, sticking to one thing till things start to take shape is hard, but if one can learn to fall in love with the process, the grind, the results at the end of the day are always astonishing.

      Like Jobs said;

      “The Journey is the Reward”.

  4. Thanks for the information guys. For many months I was the hopping bunny. If there was a bright star in the sky, then I followed it. Finally I stopped, and decided that I had to do one thing really well. It took way longer than I thought, but slowly and finally Amazon Affiliate was the one that worked for me. I did eventually end up doing a case study for Amazon.co.uk on their associate’s portal. The learning curve for building a successful first website was huge, and the learning process continues every day. Until that worked for me I literally tried everything else, kindle books, Adsense, CPA. For new people, or at least when I was new, the waiting months were the toughest. You work away (The Daily Grind) and zero remains on your bank account…those are tough times. (6-9 months of dryness)Looking for the shiny object can often seem better than the daily grind. Such an easy trap to fall into. My own small tip is to pick one thing and do it the best that you possibly can.

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