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If you ask me on a good day, I’d say I generally have a positive attitude towards business and don’t give two hoots about my competition.

I’ve set up communities for SEO nerds and copywriters. I’ve organised dinner parties for my so-called competitors. And I regularly help industry newbies find their feet.

So you’d think I’d have a serious stash of karma points, right?

Sadly for me, karma often lives up to her ‘is a bitch’ promise—only in reverse.

Don’t get me wrong. I’ve had a lot of awesomeness come my way, but in the past few years I’ve also suffered some seriously shitty events.
So I thought I’d share my pain in the hope of saving you from a similar problem (and ‘cos I feel like a whinge).

But I also wanted to show that, even during the crappy times, there are lessons to be learned and positives to find. I know that sounds a bit Oprah, but bear with me.


Shitty thing one: the negative reviews


A while back, I got a negative review on Google, and recognised the profile as being that of a competitor. I ummed and aahed for a while before deciding to ask why he’d written it.

Sadly this unleashed a whole barrel of crazy, and looking back, I would have been better off just ignoring it.

More recently I noticed a heap of negative reviews popping up on my Facebook Business page from people I’ve never met, which was… well, incredibly annoying.

But I turned it on its head by reaching out to clients old and new and asking if they’d flush out the bad ones by adding lots of nice, honest new ones.

Et voila, the balance was restored.

Toon life lesson: I learned a thing or two about dealing with negative feedback.

Shitty thing two: the site hack

If you’ve ever been hacked, you’ll know how totally awful it feels.

Hacks affect websites differently. For me, all my carefully crafted copy was splattered with phrases like ‘Buy amoxicillin online’ and ‘Cheap Prozac without prescription’ – not great for a copywriting website.

My Domain Authority plummeted, and my ranking dropped faster than a fat badger falling down a well. It cost me a heck of a lot of time (and a fair bit of money) to get it sorted.

Toon life lesson: I learned a thing or two about how to cope with a WordPress hack

Shitty thing three: the Facebook f**k up


Okay, so this didn’t happen to me. It happened to my husband instead. But since I built his site and manage most of his marketing, it was kind of my problem.

A disgruntled ex-employee with Admin access to our Facebook page changed the name of the page to something nonsensical. Not only was this damn embarrassing, it was also incredibly difficult to fix.
Just as with Google, you can’t call anyone at Facebook when you have a problem.

Thankfully, Gemma from Amplify FB came to our rescue and shot through links to change our page name. (Facebook makes it super hard to find these links.)

I submitted a name change request but heard nothing, and so I decided the only option was to create a new correctly named page and merge the old one with the new one.

It was a risky tactic, but thankfully it worked.

My husband now has a sparkly new page, but all the old posts were lost, which totally took the wind out of his social media sales.

Toon life lesson: I learned not to give randoms admin access to my Facebook site.

If you give access to your Facebook page to anyone else – especially in a contract situation – make sure you cover yourself.

Discuss what needs to happen when the contract ends, and include it in writing.

Ideally only give the person Editor access (rather than full Admin). That way they can’t remove you as admin of the page and take over.

If someone else is setting up a page for you, make sure they add you as an admin immediately.”

Gemma, Amplify FB

Shitty thing four: the negative SEO

I hope you step on Lego

This one was a doozy, and I’m not ashamed to admit a few tears were shed by this tender Toon.

I awoke one morning to find that 8000 or so dodgy links had been pointed at my site, all wrapped around the anchor text of ‘copywriter’.

Although there’s no way to prove who did this, I have a pretty good idea. The nefarious toad was trying to trash my ranking for this term (Google ‘copywriter’ and you’ll see I’m fairly close to the top).

After a brief gnashing of teeth, I sought advice from some fellow SEO types Andre Wehher and Aaron Agius were amazingly generous and helpful, and through them I got to grips with disavowing.

It was a time-consuming thing to fix, and a bit stressful.

Toon life lesson: I learned how to disavow, found some great new SEO tools, made some firm buddies and actually improved my ranking and Domain Authority. Take that, toad!


Shitty thing five: the big financial hit


Every once in a while you take on a client who’s just not that into you.

For whatever reason, things just don’t click into place naturally and both of you know it isn’t working.
(I’ve been incredibly lucky. In my five-year solo career, I’ve only had three of these clients.)

Unfortunately this year’s client was a biggie.

I won’t go into the ins and outs of it (no-one was at fault), but before we got too far into the project I realised it wasn’t for me.

I offered the client a full refund of their 50% deposit. It seemed easier at the time. It was a substantial chunk of cash, and I lost out big time. It took me a month or so to get back on track.

Toon life lesson: I learned to trust my instincts and choose my clients a little more carefully.

Shitty thing six: the confidence crush

Now this shitty thing isn’t the act of another. It comes from within.

Although I know many newbie copywriter amay look up to me as having ‘made it’, it’s important to note that I still have the occasional crisis of confidence.

  • I see a competitor doing some awesome shiny new ‘thing’ I wish I had the time to do.
  • I notice someone else has twice the Facebook fans I do.
  • I chat to a colleague and find out he’s doing fabulously well.
  • I meet a stream of crazy successful business types who make it all look so easy.

This makes me critical of my own efforts, and think “Am I as good as them? Is it all worth it? Blah, blah, blah.” You get the idea.

We all have the odd confidence wobble. It’s natural and normal. You’d be some crazed loon if you thought everything you did was spot-on perfect.

Thankfully, I got to chat with two very clever, like-minded souls and they set me straight. In fact, the wobble convinced me to make some fairly major business decisions that should make my work life a whole lot better. (More on this soon.)

Toon life lesson: I learned that the occasional confidence wobble can actually be good for you. And I have some pretty awesome shoulders to whinge on.

So there you go, six shitty experiences and what I learned from each one.

Over to you

Have you had a wretched experience that actually turned into an awesome learning curve? I’d love to hear about it. Oh, and if you liked the post, please share it.

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confessions of a misfit entrepreneur with Kate Toon

You might like my book ‘Confessions of a Misfit Entrepreneur | How to succeed despite yourself’ – buy it online here.


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