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The Emotions of Experimentation in Online Business

Wandering Aimfully Through Our Podcast: What is it all for?

The Emotions of Experimentation in Online Business

How do we deal with all the emotional ups and downs that come with experimentation especially if our business experiments things fail?
Jason ZookJason Zook Jason ZookJason Zook

Written by

Jason Zook

Listen to our full episode on The Emotions of Experimentation below (with full transcript) or find our podcast by searching What is it all for? in your favorite podcast player.



Five Key Takeaways for The Emotions of Experimentation

1. Remember WHY you wanted to experiment in the first place

We know how crappy it can feel when experiments fail. When it comes to our own experiments in online business, especially with our YouTube content, we remember how we felt the moment we wanted to do something different (i.e. we got bored with our own content and were not having fun filming). Although our experiment to try a different YouTube video format didn’t work out, what helped lessen the blow of having “failed” with that YouTube experiment was reminding ourselves of WHY we decided to run with those ideas in the first place.

2. Realizing people don’t care (or notice) as much as you think they do

There’s a self-consciousness that follows where you feel judged or embarrassed for putting yourself out there. It’s like every time you hit publish on a piece of content, you think everyone is just waiting for your photo, video, story, podcast, article, email, etc to show up. Or similarly, if you try launching a new product and the sale doesn’t go very well. Or you try a weird off-the-wall content idea and nobody seems to notice or care. The good news is, even when experiments don’t go to plan, most people who are following or subscribed to you don’t really notice.

Back at the beginning of Wandering Aimfully (2018), especially the first year and a half, we felt like we were throwing spaghetti at the wall every month with our content and marketing. If you just looked at us from the outside, you’d be like, Wow, these people are just doing a lot of stuff. From our side, it could be we looked at the numbers and thought Wandering Aimfully was not growing, i.e. people aren’t buying and we think everyone thinks we’re failing. But really, everyone’s just like, Yeah, they’re just doing a bunch of things. Fast forward three years later, and we’ve hit our enough number in business and Wandering Aimfully feels like its hit a great stride!

3. Experimentation might look like flakiness or unsureness from the outside

This is a big concern we hear about from our email subscribers and our WAIM community members: They’re afraid that experimenting looks like flakiness or unsureness and they feel self-conscious about that. What we would say (and do say) is that might be the case. It might look flaky and like you’re all over the map, or it might be like you can’t land on an idea, but remember that that’s not what people are going to be thinking when you finally do find the thing that works!

You have to withstand the discomfort of whatever you think that judgment is, which, by the way, as we mentioned, people probably are not even paying close attention. But if they are and they’re judging you, and if that really affects you, remember that there’s going to come a time where, if you can just keep experimenting, something is going to hit, something is going to work, and people don’t have a very long attention span or memory. They’re going to perceive you differently when that happens.

We all know it would be great to be completely separated from people’s judgments of us, but we’re human beings. We want to be accepted. As a reminder, if anyone is judging you for “flakiness” or experimenting, they probably want different things than you want. There’s no point in trying to see your life through their lens because they’re judging you against their own set of values and that’s okay. That’s good for them. But don’t judge your own life based on their values. Judge it based on your own.

4. Remember that uncertainty is relatable

None of us knows exactly what we’re doing right out of the gate in online business. The point we want to hit on here is just finding a way to turn something that maybe you see as a negative, maybe you haven’t gotten your offer quite right yet or you haven’t figured out your marketing channel, and spin it into a positive. Have confidence about the fact that you have the courage to risk uncertainty and to try different things and see it as a pro thing about yourself and not a con. It’s all a win-win because if you’re the type of person who wants to grow and who wants to figure things out and has curiosity, of course, you’re going to be the type of person who tries different things, and not all of them are going to work. But you see that as a character asset, not a flaw.

5. The more experiments you do, the easier they get and the less pressure you feel

The big thing here when it comes to experimentation is, if you’re not a big experimenter or if you’re not someone who has been doing this a lot, it’s going to be hard to get started and you’re going to feel all this pressure and these up and down emotions. But the more experiments you do, the easier they get and the less pressure you feel. Like we said earlier, if you look at your business in a couple of years in the full picture of what you’re working on, that’s just one small experiment in your laboratory of things that you’re going to try to make your business succeed or to help it grow in some sort of way.

If you feel like you’re throwing stuff at the wall to see what sticks, know that you’re completely on the normal path to business ownership. Experimentation is a BIG part of the business process and so are all the emotions that come along with it!


Show Notes for Episode 141: for The Emotions of Experimentation

This week, we hope to normalize the feelings and the roller coaster of emotions that can happen when you embark on new experiments. We share some specifics as it relates to all the experiments we’ve run on YouTube. We also share a recent YouTube experiment that didn’t go well and how we’re handling that.

We hope you walk away from this episode feeling motivated and excited for your own business experiments but also remember that your self-worth shouldn’t be tied to the things you try to grow your biz!

✈️ Our pramvel takes you through our two weeks spent in Leicester, England. We share the ROUGH drive getting to Leicester from London, then we talk about the awesome Airbnb we found, and we go over how important these two weeks were for our overall year of travel.

💎 The visual metaphor digging for diamonds Jason kept referring to: wanderingaimfully.com/wp-content/uploads/digging-for-diamonds.jpeg

🏠 Check out the awesome Airbnb we found in Leicester: www.airbnb.co.uk/rooms/21048268


Full Transcript of Episode 141: The Emotions of Experimentation

⬇️ You can also download the .TXT file of the transcript

Caroline: Before we get to this lovely episode with your hosts, Caroline Zook and Jason Zook.

Jason: Hey, we know those people. They’re cool.

Caroline: They’re really cool.

Jason: We want to tell you about our WAIM Unlimited program, which is opening its doors for Fall enrollment, October 3 through October 18. This is our live, un-boring business coaching that you can get from us–I’m sorry, from Jason and Caroline Zook, who pay us to do these ad reads–every single month, you can get live business coaching.

Caroline: That’s right. So we will focus on a different topic for you to…

Jason: They’ll focus on every topic. Stay with the bit.

Caroline: Boy.

Jason: It falls off the rails quick.

Caroline: Shoulda practiced a little more.

Jason: This is a… Hey, this is an important advertisement to help us.

Caroline: This is important advertisement we have paid for. We are voiceover actors.

Jason: Yes. Okay.

Caroline: They, Jason and Caroline Zook.

Jason: Nice, nice. Good recovery.

Caroline: Will have live monthly business coaching sessions for you. If you’re a business owner and you are looking to focus on one thing every month, to improve your business, to boost your revenue, to live a more balanced life, to identify how much money is enough for you, all of these important things, to have more fun in your business.

Jason: You also get a roadmap that walks you through step-by-step how to improve your business through five big categories. And there are 36 different coaching sessions in there. There are 40 different courses and workshops that are mapped out through there. So you don’t have to feel like, where do I start? How do I get through all this stuff? There’s a roadmap that walks you through.

Caroline: It’s step-by-step, baby.

Jason: All of it. So if you want to check it out, go to wanderingaimfully.com/join. Remember, the doors open October 3 to October 18. We want to thank Jason and Caroline because we really appreciate them paying us to do these ad reads so that they could then sell Wandering Aimfully Unlimited.

Caroline: It’s kind of a weird contract that we have with them.

Jason: It is, yeah.

Caroline: Now that I think about it, it doesn’t really feel exactly even but…

Jason: I don’t mind getting paid in cinnamon rolls. You know that. Okay, that’s it. Now let’s get to the episode.

Caroline: Welcome to what is it all for? A podcast designed to help you grow your online business and pursue a spacious, satisfying life at the same time. We are your hosts, Jason and Caroline Zook, and we run Wandering Aimfully, an un-boring business coaching program. Every week we bring you advice and conversations to return you to your most intentional self and to help you examine every aspect of your life and business by asking, What is it all for? Thanks for listening. And now let’s get into the show.

Jason: And I’m here too.

Caroline: Welcome, everyone, to the podcast. What is it all for? I’m your host, Caroline Zook.

Jason: Oh, cool.

Caroline: This is my husband.

Jason: Oh, nice.

Caroline: Jason Zook.

Jason: You’re, like attaché, podcasting attaché.

Caroline: What’s an attaché?

Jason: Like a side thing. It’s like an attaché. Oh, where’s my attaché? Over there.

Caroline: I don’t feel confident that you’re…

Jason: I mean, I’m European now.

Caroline: You just add French words to things?

Jason: Sure.

Caroline: You assume attaché is a French word, yeah?

Jason: I think so, yes.

Caroline: Anything with a little “-ché” at the end.

Jason: Hey, let’s jump right into it. Just full disclosure, because we are about to pack up the current place that we’re in. We have to drive to an airport, then we have to wait to get on a flight. That’s our latest flight of the year, evening-wise, and there’s a lot of stuff we have to do, so we’re going to try and go through this episode a little bit faster. So if it feels like, wow, that episode was shorter than normal, that’s just the truth and the reality of full-time travel life, sometimes you don’t have that much time. Are you ready?

Caroline: Absolutely.

Jason: Congratulations. Pramvel this week takes us to… Pum parapum pumpum…

Caroline: Leicester, England.

Jason: Now, some of you who live in England or the UK might be going, Why did you go to Leicester? Some of you who have never heard of Leicester are probably thinking, Why did you go to Leicester? And the reason is because…?

Caroline: We found a great Airbnb and we didn’t want to rent a car.

Jason: Nice. That was a quiz and you passed.

Caroline: I was like, Why should we?

Jason: And partially because London, just the Airbnb prices are just too high for what we’re looking for to have more space.

Caroline: And as you know, we’re not big city people, but we wanted the conveniences of a city for this particular leg of our trip without the full London…

Jason: Experience.

Caroline: Experience.

Jason: The full big city experience.

Caroline: Although we did get to ride the train that was later on through London and I enjoyed that so much more than I thought.

Jason: In hindsight, should we have taken the train when we arrived?

Caroline: Yes.

Jason: Yeah.

Caroline: But I kind of know, I’m like, well, it leaves us something to look forward to. I would like to stay in London sometime for like a weekend or something.

Jason: Yeah, let’s go ahead and share, because a lot of times, again, you share only the highlight reel of this full-time travel adventure. And I want to also share the realities of some of the suckier parts.

Caroline: Oh, sure.

Jason: So we had a couple of options to get from Heathrow Airport, which is in London, right outside of London, to Leicester, which is 2 hours drive, essentially, up a pretty straightforward highway in the UK. So you have a couple of options. You either rent a car and then we would have to have a car and deal with a car. And we’ve already established that driving in the UK really is difficult for you.

Caroline: It’s really bad for me.

Jason: You could get a car, like a taxi, basically, to drive you up there, or you could take the train. And we chose, of all those three options to get a car to drive us, a taxi, a private taxi, because we thought that a flight plus a train would really put a lot of tax on you.

Caroline: Yes. And we hadn’t navigated the trains in England yet, so everything would have been new. And I just thought…

Jason: And we would have been going like, we had a train change that we would have had to do as well.

Caroline: Oh, yeah, there was a train change. Yeah. And so I just thought that’s a lot to try to… Now, the irony, looking back, is I felt great when I got off the plane, not going to lie.

Jason: Yeah.

Caroline: And I definitely could have handled that and probably would have enjoyed a train so much more.

Jason: Yes.

Caroline: Because we, unfortunately, it’s a roll of the dice whenever you have a driver. Right. Sometimes you get fantastic drivers, sometimes you get less than great drivers.

Jason: And this is like an Uber driver. This is a Lyft driver. Like anybody who has ever gotten in a car when someone else is driving…

Caroline: You’re at the mercy of someone else’s driving.

Jason: Exactly. Do you remember the Uber driver we had in San Francisco?

Caroline: No.

Jason: So many years ago? You don’t remember that?

Caroline: No, blocked that out.

Jason: It was very similar to this one.

Caroline: Blocked that out.

Jason: It was a person whose foot cannot stop flexing up and down on the accelerator pedal.

Caroline: Yeah, we’re not going to take you through all the rigmarole of it. Funny enough, I think Jason actually, it affected you actually much more, which is ironic.

Jason: The two-hour drive took three and a half hours. At about the halfway point, I almost asked him to pull over to just let us out. That’s how bad it was.

Caroline: Jason was like, Please get me out.

Jason: Because I think it was compounded for me and the un-comfortability of just being in the car with this bad driver and then worrying about how awful it was for you.

Caroline: Yeah.

Jason: So it’s like 2x the difficulty level for me.

Caroline: Which I kid you not, I closed my eyes, and I probably just closed my eyes and rubbed my temples for an hour straight and was just, like, transported.

Jason: But how long did the clock move when you opened your eyes back up?

Caroline: Oh, Jason and I were both counting the clock. This is how…

Jason: The minutes.

Caroline: Not great it was.

Jason: The minutes.

Caroline: We were counting the clock. It wasn’t great.

Jason: Should have taken the train.

Caroline: Should have taken the train.

Jason: So anyway, we got to Leicester. We had found this Airbnb many months ago, and it was basically like the top floor apartment of a four-story apartment building in downtown Leicester, and it turned out to just be fantastic.

Caroline: Loved it.

Jason: One of our best Airbnb’s of the year. It was a,basically you walk into it and you have three bedrooms on the lower level, which were all nice and like, updated bathrooms and everything. And then you go upstairs and you have a full open living dining kitchen, which we just love. But the best part was it had all these kind of garage-style windows, if you will, and there was a giant tree that wrapped around the whole thing. So it felt like you were in a tree house.

Caroline: Yeah, I think you called it like the tree, tree side…

Jason: Retreat?

Caroline: Retreat or something?

Jason: Something like that. Yeah.

Caroline: But it was very much not. And Fall… It was like just on the cusp of Summer/ Fall. So like leaves were turning a little bit and falling.

Jason: Oh, they were falling. The leaves were falling.

Caroline: Yeah.

Jason: That’s nice.

Caroline: It made me so happy going up there every morning and having my coffee. So the truth of the matter is we didn’t feel exactly at home in our element in the city of Leicester, I would say.

Jason: Right.

Caroline: But we definitely felt at home in the Airbnb.

Jason: In the home. Yeah. This two weeks for us, just to share what it’s like when you’re doing full-time travel. And this was like getting into the 8th month of full-time travel, is that you just need breaks. And the reality is that go, go, go, see places, do cool things, eat awesome food, it’s fantastic. And I am not complaining whatsoever, but I’m just explaining the fact that the reality is that you get tired and that you need time to just slow down. And also we’re running two businesses, we’re managing mental health, and we’re also trying to move to Portugal. So it’s just all of these things. And I think this time worked out really well for us.

Caroline: Oh my gosh. It was perfect.

Jason: And the only hiccup was that my asthma, which we’ve talked about in a couple of separate episodes, flared back up again. And so there’s definitely something with the hay fever/ UK allergies that really was setting me off because since leaving there, it has gotten better again, as you can hear, I’m talking without coughing. So yeah, it’s a real interesting thing just about that, that we’ll just have to know moving forward. But anyway, the city of Leicester had a lot of great things to offer and a lot of modern conveniences, which is again, one of the reasons we chose the city.

Caroline: By the end of it, I was just having so much fun, like running errands and being able to walk to run errands. I do love that.

Jason: You definitely get the reason why some people live in a city.

Caroline: Absolutely.

Jason: Those of us who are not city folk, and we’ve always lived outside of a city, it’s like, how could you ever live in a city? And then when you stay in the city for two weeks and you’re like, oh, I can order any food I want, I can walk to any store I want, I can get anything I want just by going downstairs. I see some appeal to that.

Caroline: Absolutely. You’re not trapped in a car.

Jason: Two of our big highlights of this trip, one was meeting a WAIMer named Aiza and WAIMer, for those of you who are wondering, is our Wandering Aimfully members and she actually took that train up that we should have taken from London to meet us. And it was so lovely. The best part though, besides the fact that she was lovely, because that was the best part.

Caroline: That’s the best part.

Jason: The second best part, she surprised me. Cinnamon rollers. She’s a cinnamon roller, by the way. Self-proclaimed.

Caroline: Self-proclaimed.

Jason: She knows what’s up?

Caroline: Of course.

Jason: Surprised us with Crosstown doughnuts. So it’s a cinnamon swirl doughnut. So picture, like, a nice sourdough doughnut with a glaze on top and just a cinnamon swirl throughout. Ooh!

Caroline: How happy…

Jason: Two of them, not just one.

Caroline: I know.

Jason: Oh, I was so happy that she got to bring two. I know she brought two for you to have them.

Caroline: Oh, yeah. But…

Jason: You didn’t get one.

Caroline: No, no, no.

Jason: Did you have a bite?

Caroline: I did. I had a bite.

Jason: Okay. Yeah. I can’t even remember. But what’s the second thing about Leicester that was our favorite part of being in Leicester?

Caroline: I also want to mention that she also…

Jason: Oh, yes. Sorry. I’m so sorry.

Caroline: Also makes, also makes earrings. And so she knows that earrings are the way to my heart. They’re not edible, but they are visually delicious.

Jason: Did you try to eat them? Do you know that they are not edible?

Caroline: Haven’t tried.

Jason: Okay.

Caroline: Wouldn’t recommend.

Jason: Okay.

Caroline: And so she also made me a beautiful pair of earrings, and it was just so fun. It was so fun to chat and just reminisce and kind of put a real human being face to online relationships is always fun. The second thing about Leicester… Is that what you’re asking me?

Jason: Yeah. What stands out to you?

Caroline: The second thing about Leicester that stands out to me…

Jason: This is putting you on the cusp here. You can do it.

Caroline: Is definitely the… Bagel restaurant?

Jason: Okay. I actually forgot about that.

Caroline: Yeah.

Jason: This is your first bagel sandwich.

Caroline: Babe, isn’t that weird? That’s the first time you’ve coughed.

Jason: I know.

Caroline: Why’d you just do that?

Jason: Talking about Leicest–I don’t know. No idea. It was very, like, accusatory.

Caroline: Well, no, but just…

Jason: I’m on the witness stand.

Caroline: We’ve been talking for four days now, and you haven’t coughed at all.

Jason: It’s psychosomatic.

Caroline: Psychosomatic.

Jason: You had your first breakfast bagel sandwich in, we discovered, four years.

Caroline: Four years.

Jason: Which is kind of silly thing to even bring up or talk about, but it’s just one of those things that you just forget or you don’t do.

Caroline: It’s one of my favorite things to be.

Jason: I know, which is wild.

Caroline: An egg bacon cheese on an onion bagel sandwich.

Jason: Yeah.

Caroline: And because gluten, I hadn’t and then…

Jason: You just said, screw it. After that drive that we had, you enjoyed it.

Caroline: Yeah.

Jason: The other thing I wanted to bring up about Leicester was us going shopping for the wedding attire, which we will talk about in a future pramvel.

Caroline: That’s right.

Jason: Which was just fun. We are not two people who shop a lot, but I had a really good time because…

Caroline: You did?

Jason: Yeah, there was a very specific “lewk” that I was going forward for this wedding. And it was a summer wedding in the country, which we’ll talk about. But, yeah, it was just like, I don’t know. It was kind of fun to, like, okay, let me find this out, this specific thing out.

Caroline: Right. It was fun because we were like…

Jason: In a mission.

Caroline: The mission. And it was very satisfying. This is where you and I are just, like, made for each other, because we had a very specific timeframe before… Because I had to get my nails done for said wedding. And so we were like, we’re going to go shopping and we have to get all the things on our mission list before 2:00 pm or whatever so I can go get my nails done. And we just hit the nail on the head.

Jason: We really did a good job.

Caroline: We just got all the things on our list.

Jason: You even got some socks, which is great.

Caroline: I even got some socks.

Jason: Yeah.

Caroline: No, I got the socks later.

Jason: That was a different trip?

Caroline: It was once we got here.

Jason: Oh, sorry. I thought you got some socks.

Caroline: That’s alright, it was that I showed you the dinosaur socks because anyone who’s listening to our Portugal content knows…

Jason: Dinosaurs are big.

Caroline: Dinosaurs are big.

Jason: Yeah. So anyway, I think I did a good job of pulling off our summer wedding attire mission, and I nailed that. And it was just fun to be able to sort that out. That is one thing that I think we’ll talk about in future episodes of the podcast, is just like, we have this wardrobe that you can fit into suitcases for an entire year. It covers every season you could imagine, but you wear through things quickly. And there’s the reality of this trip is coming to an end here towards the end of this year, and we’re going to be living in our new home in Portugal. And boy, are we excited to get some new clothes that feel like they haven’t been jammed in a suitcase 68 times.

Caroline: Just one or two things like…

Jason: But I think that’ll be really fun just to kind of go through that process of, thank you, clothing in our suitcases that made us through a whole year, but now I’m excited to have some clothes that I’m actually kind of excited to wear. It’s not just more like utilitarian. This is what I’m wearing when I’m on a plane. This is what I’m wearing when I’m on a train. This is what I’m wearing when I’m walking to a train.

Caroline And I think it’s kind of funny because after this year, I’ll have such a better idea of building a little capsule wardrobe because now I know what I reach for to a T in certain scenarios. I can see it so distinctly because I only have a couple of options, and so I’ll know kind of what to go with. But I don’t think we spend enough time talking about how hard it is to have the perfect amount of things in your suitcase that need to be applicable for…

Jason: Every possible weather.

Caroline: Not just weather, like differences between climates, but also differences between some countries we go to. There are just like certain clothing norms, I guess you could say. And it doesn’t matter that much, right? You kind of want to seamlessly fit into the place that you’re in. You don’t want to stick out like a sore thumb. And so it’s kind of funny to have these items in your closet that can be combined so that you fit in like a downtown Split, Croatia, but then you also fit in… I almost said this country that we’re in…

Jason: In other countries.

Caroline: In another country.

Jason: Yeah. And part of it, too. And I know some people, they just get rid of their wardrobe and they just change wardrobes as they travel. Like, I’ve heard people talk about that. But for us, we didn’t want to do that. That feels wasteful. I have all of my waterproof, cold weather, everything that has not left it’s placed in my suitcase. And I just feel like the next time I put that on, it’s going to smell weird.

Caroline: I was like, where is he going with this?

Jason: It has been smooshed.

Caroline: It smells weird.

Jason: Anyway. Last part of Leicester I wanted to share was Tommo. Keyword, Tommo. Do you remember Tommo?

Caroline: Tommo?

Jason: Tommo was the little doggy at the coffee shop. If you ever end up in Leicester, please go to Leicester Coffee House.

Caroline: Are you sure it was Tommo?

Jason: Tommo. Sure. Either way, let’s just say Tommo for now, because who cares? It doesn’t really matter. Go to Leicester Coffee house. Go say hello to Tommo. He is the little black dog that is the logo of the coffee house. He is adorable. He runs the show.

Caroline: He runs the show.

Jason: But Gail, who runs the coffee shop, makes a fantastic pour-over coffee, which we found at the very end of our trip. I don’t know why we didn’t go to this coffee house to begin with. We were just frazzled. But it was a great little coffee spot to walk around and also to see a dog go and get good coffee.

Caroline: Oh, my gosh. For 45 minutes, I just rubbed this doggo and made my whole life.

Jason: And I just sipped a cup of coffee that was absolutely delicious. I hadn’t had one in like, three weeks.

Caroline: I had a latte without any sweetener.

Jason: Congratulations.

Caroline: Thank you.

Jason: All right. That’s our pramvel. That was our time in Leicester. It was perfect for what we needed. We got a bunch of work done. We had so many Portugal planning meetings at that dining room table, and that’s when a place that’s just set up for, like, living and working works well because I could even see the place we’re at now, it would not have been conducive to that. It’s just not comfortable. There’s not a good WiFi setup. But Leicester, that place worked out. So check the show notes if you want to check out that Airbnb and you can get a little tour of it.

Caroline: Great. Let’s move on to the heart of the episode.

Jason: Okay.

Caroline: And in this episode, we are talking about a topic that we talked about many times in many different ways, which, you know, we’re big fans of, which is experimentation.

Jason: Yes.

Caroline: But we want to talk more specifically about kind of normalizing some of the emotions and the doubts that can go along with experimenting because we often talk about experimentation through the lens of using it as a tool to figure out what works in your business, right? So it’s like you have to kind of try different revenue models. You have to try different marketing channels. You have to test things until you land on something where all the puzzle pieces come together and fit. And we’re like, yay, experimentation. That’s how you get to a business that works. Right? What we don’t talk about is how it feels to experiment when the experiment fails, when it doesn’t go the way you…

Jason: Or just how it feels to experiment, period, because I think that the platitudes of online business are so easy to throw around, and even for us, we’re the same way. Like, find your Enough number and someone hearing that’s like, yeah, but what does that mean? I don’t even know where to start. It’s like, okay, yeah, we need to send you to our Enough article so you can go through it. And this is a whole process thing. Experimentation is the same way. It’s like, okay, but what do you mean? Do I just start posting on TikTok every day and see what happens?

Caroline: You could. That’s an experiment.

Jason: And that is an experiment for sure. But I think a big part of the whole talking more about experimentation and normalizing it is to discuss the fact that there are highs and lows with it. But the whole point of experimentation is to try–because it’s impossible to do it–removing your emotions from your actions.

Caroline: Yeah, exactly. And that’s the reason why the framing of experimentation is such a good frame for it because when you’re a scientist and you’re going in, you just have a hypothesis and however the results of that experiment go, you don’t think you’re a bad scientist because it turned out a certain way. It’s just very almost matter-of-fact. Like, I tried this, I thought it would go this way. It didn’t. It went the other way. Great. Now I know one way that doesn’t work. Let me try the experiment again in a different way. And I know business, especially those of you listening, who run businesses that are very much built on your personal brand or you’re a solopreneur or whatever. It feels so tied to your identity. But we need to be aware of that so that when we do enter some of these phases where you’re being a little bit more experimental. You’re trying things. You’re not so tied to the outcome that it’s going to deflate you completely and you’re not going to keep going. However, that’s a very normal emotion, and I think that’s what we want to talk about in this episode.

Jason: Yeah, I think there’s also a different roller coaster that happens with different types of experiments, because I know we’re going to talk about one, but some experiments that you run, they’re pretty emotion-less, right? It’s just like, okay, I’ve never written articles before, so I’m going to write some articles and I’m going to publish them on my website. And there’s not a lot to that because there’s not really a good feedback loop there.

Caroline: Or even like, oh, let me try this lead magnet versus that lead magnet. That is very…

Both: Emotion-less.

Jason: You’re just like, I’m doing it, and I’m hoping that some results happen. It’s not a deal. Then there are other ones that are like, oh, I’m going to start posting, let’s say, YouTube videos consistently every week. That’s an experiment with a ton of emotion attachéd to it because you’re putting yourself out there. You’re putting your face out there for everyone to see. You’re very uncomfortable in that situation, most likely, and you don’t know what’s going to happen. And a lot of times, you try to have low expectations, but it’s impossible to not see how other people’s experiments go, for YouTube channels, specifically, like, videos and views. And then you get, like, 16 views on a video, and you feel like, oh, that failed. And so I just think that there’s something to be said for the idea of experimentation. It’s not created equal for everything that you do. And just to understand that, again, all we’re trying to do in this episode is to talk more about the feelings of experimentation and normalize them so that hopefully you go into the next thing that you’re working on your business and go, okay, I know what I’m going to expect with that. It’s going to be really emotional, and I’m just going to have to prepare for that. But again, I’m looking at it as an experiment, and I’m just going to see how it goes, and I’m going to track the data, or I’m going to go into it and be like, this is an experiment. It’s not a big deal, and then I can move on to the next thing.

Caroline: Yeah, something that just came up for me when you were talking is…

Jason: Because you weren’t listening when I was talking, right?

Caroline: Something that just came up for me, specifically from listening to what you were just saying, is that I don’t think we talk about enough. Like, if you’re doing experimentation right, 99% of the things you try aren’t going to work.

Jason: Yeah, I don’t think it’s as high as 99% but I get…

Caroline: You get what I’m saying. I think we don’t spend enough time just acknowledging the fact that the very nature of that way of going about business and that way of figuring out what works in your business, setting the expectation that you are going to get more failed experiments than you are right experiments. Because the second you find something that does work, you’ve kind of ended the experimentation phase. You know what I’m saying?

Jason: And the goal is it’s, like…

Caroline: Not really ended.

Jason: Right. But it’s whatever that visual is that you can think of. But the one that I always go to is that guy that’s, like, digging in the mine, and he’s like, so close to the diamonds. And if you’ve never seen that image, feel free to Google, like, guy digging in a mine, getting close to mine. It’s a little cartoon, but it’s like the experiments are every time you’re chipping away at the hole and you don’t find a diamond. And what you have to realize is that you have to hit 99 pieces of rock before the 100th one is the experiment, which I think what you were saying, and I do think that for a lot of different facets of online business, people give up after the first swing of the axe in the mine. And what you have to realize and the mindset you have to have is, oh, I’m going to take 99 swings and I’m going to do a bunch of different stuff, let’s just say, because it’s just the most topical thing to discuss. You want to start using TikTok for your business and you’re like, okay, I’m going to start posting videos on TikTok. But you try one way that you’ve seen someone do and you don’t get much viewership and you feel really awkward and you’re like, TikTok didn’t work. It’s like, that’s only one swing of the axe. You have to go and find another way that you want to do it and then try that for a couple of different days, weeks, whatever. That didn’t work. Okay, then it’s time to pick up the axe again and swing again. And I think that’s the mindset that most people don’t have, they have the one swing, hit, don’t hit a diamond and then that thing doesn’t work and we move on.

Caroline: Right. And I think why they do that is because they haven’t figured out a way to flip it in their own brain with the swinging of the axe thing. Where to me, I wish I could reach through the podcast, your earbuds right now. And for every single person, I wish I could give them the secret that we know, which is that every time that we have a failed experiment, I get so excited because I’m just like, well, that’s one thing that didn’t work. But every time I try something new going forward, I know not to try that. And that’s one more swing of the axe and it’s like it’s such a win-win. It’s not a lose. It’s like when something doesn’t work out, it’s a win because you learn something. And I know that’s so cliche, but really, if you can find a way to reframe it in your mind as not a failure, as not something that didn’t work, but just like one more swing of the axe and you’re closer to whatever that thing is going to be, that does work.

Jason: Yeah. So let’s talk about our specific example that we wanted to go over, which… And really it’s not just this. It’s our whole YouTube channel in general, which is kind of like one of the things we thought that we could share as far as experimentation goes, that really we have never hit on a win with our YouTube channel except for one video, which is our first packing video that had its own little viral moment and got 100,000 views in like a month.

Caroline: Right. And that’s for so many reasons, right? Because we don’t prioritize it and we haven’t… But we have run these little experiments along the way where we’ve gone, okay, for the next six weeks, let’s just prioritize consistent content. Let’s not try to game it so much. This isn’t like our full-time marketing channel, but let’s just try some stuff. Give ourselves permission to try some different formats.

Jason: Yeah. And so even just taking you on a little bit of a journey besides the one that we just have written here is, in the very beginning, when we start our YouTube channel, it was, okay, let’s kind of do like it’s like a Vlog, but without a lot of extra footage thrown in. And just like, we’re building Wandering Aimfully, let’s just share how that’s going. And so we were creating these videos and we were sharing them and truthfully, it’s kind of boring. You really have to love what we’re creating to be interested and really like us. And thankfully there’s a small group of people that did, but then that kind of ran its course and then we were like, okay, well, what if we just kind of pivot and just really lean into the boring and let’s do these unedited meetings and we’ll just record these hour-long meetings that we always have just to let people in on, this is what actually it takes to talk through business stuff. And those were fine, but again, no one found them. It was just the same audience.

Caroline: Yeah. Just to bring some context, what we’re looking for here is we know that our primary purpose behind our YouTube channel is to grow deeper with our audience because we’re not devoting resources to really growing through that channel. Right. However, if we’re going to put any time into it, even though it’s for deepening, it would be nice to find an idea where it is attracting new people to our audience. Right. So that’s kind of the strategy that we’re trying to solve for. We’re not trying to be big YouTubers, it’s more of like trying these different ideas. And if we’re going to put effort into it, it would be nice to hit on something where you go, oh, like that kind of clicked with an audience.

Jason: And we had talked about that before too. It was like, okay, if our videos consistently got 1,000 to 5,000 views, that’s a win.

Caroline: That means it clicked, right?

Jason: That’s all we need. We’re not looking for… And still to this day that’s kind of where we’re at. That would be great. And I think some of our travel videos have done that pretty easily. But they’re travel videos, they’re not business videos. So it’s a different thing.

Caroline: We can’t travel for the rest of our lives.

Jason: Exactly. But then we tried our Growing Through It series which is a really good series. It’s super helpful. But the experiment that kind of failed for that one is it just takes too long. It’s just so in-depth and it just took 40 hours to make one video.

Caroline: Which is very similar to another idea that did click but was too time intensive, which was the BASSSF series.

Jason: Love the BASSSF series. So the BASSSF series is an example of, where the growing through it series didn’t really get much viewership, but the people who did find it said it was super helpful. The BASSSF series got the most viewership per video. It actually hit all the metrics you could want.

Caroline: That’s Building A Squarespace Site from Start to Finish and documenting that process. And you can see why, right? Because you’re attracting some keyword, some search traffic there. And so it took care of it from that perspective. But in order to create that content, it was deeply intensive and you could argue not entirely aligned with our audience.

Jason: Yeah, and I think that was also kind of in the phase of Wandering Aimfully where we were trying to figure stuff out. We were kind of willing to do a lot more experimentation to see what really stuck so that we could figure out our positioning. So I bring those examples up and I’m not going to go through every single video we’ve ever made in our channel. But just to share some of those experience and what we learned, experiments, and what we learned from them and then how we moved forward and we would go, okay, we don’t want to do this one because it didn’t get any dealership. But also it just took too long. Like, let’s pivot to a different one. Okay, so we’re going to start this new one and we’re going to not bring any of the previous expectations or feelings of the past videos. This is like a whole new set of videos that we’re going to do. And I think we did a really good job of never letting low viewership or low comments or just no real growth get to us. And it was always just, again, let’s pick up that axe, let’s chip away at this hole here, and let’s see if we can find a diamond.

Caroline: Yeah. And I think that’s for a couple of reasons also because I made the commitment upfront that we were always well, first of all, sorry, it’s so many things. Number one is that not all of our eggs are in the YouTube basket. So it becomes a lot easier to detach yourself from the outcome because the outcome isn’t our linchpin for income, right? So that helps. But also in my mind, I’ve just committed that like, we’re always going to keep making videos.

Jason: Right.

Caroline: No matter what they are. So that allows me to focus my effort on the input and not the output. I’ve already made the commitment in my head that I’m going to continue to experiment. So however the experiment goes doesn’t matter because it’s not indicative of whether I’m going to stop experimenting or not.

Jason: Exactly.

Caroline: So that’s kind of the mental shift that I want some people listening right now to make is I’m just committing to experimentation as a mindset. And however the experiment goes, I’m not going to let it stop me from keeping swinging the axe. What is that?

Jason: It’s a little pickaxe. Yeah, I think that’s a really good point. And the interesting thing about any experimentation in business, just to reiterate, is that you’re not putting all of your effort into one thing. And if that thing doesn’t work, then your experiment fails, then your business crumbles. That’s part of just being a good, smart business owner is realizing I’m going to be growing my business and working on my business for the next couple of years. And so video or Pinterest or TikTok, or email marketing or writing articles or creating products every single quarter, whatever, that’s just a part of the journey for me. And so I’m going to be doing all of those things. And then each one I’m going to break down and say, okay, now how am I trying to do this in a different way or unique way or a way that feels really aligned with what I want to do? So coming back to our videos, because the one format that we kind of wanted to talk about a little bit more for experimentation, now that you kind of have the stage of how much experimenting we’ve done on YouTube and haven’t even talked about a bunch of other things. So we’ve been doing these travel videos throughout this year and we kind of off-handedly came up with this format of what we did, what we ate, and where we stayed. It was like these three little buckets for each…

Caroline: For kind of each country.

Jason: Yeah. So we did one from Lisbon and we did two in Ireland and so on and so forth. But then we got to this place about six months in where we were bored of doing that.

Caroline: We were bored. It was not great for us to film because also we were running into some process friction. Because I really like to know ahead of time not exactly what I’m going to say, but I like to have it very well thought out. And Jason sees that as a script, which I don’t read it like a script, but I like to fully flesh out the sentence and then just say it in a more natural way. Whereas Jason, that really trips him up because he thinks of it like a script and he just…

Jason: My brain just stops, yeah.

Caroline: He doesn’t want to want to read from script. So we were running into a little bit of friction there and we were just like, we need to switch it up. We need to try something different. So we have this big brainstorm. We came up with this idea, this different format that we can experiment with. We thought we’ll do it for at least these four videos and we ended up not because of my eye thing, we only got two of those videos recorded. However, now having two of them published, it’s just clear that it doesn’t work.

Jason: Yeah, so those two videos, if you want to check them out, there are two Scotland videos. I’ll link them in the show notes if you want to check them out. But the idea was we sat down and we just said, okay, recording videos is not fun right now for both of us, what’s a way that we could try and make it fun? Like, let’s have an experiment of adding more fun into the videos because again, these videos are not the most important thing. And maybe in a separate podcast, if you really like this conversation about experimentation, if you want us to talk more about what about not fun stuff, what about stuff that really matters? Like how do you do that? We can talk about that in a separate episode. But for this specifically, we just wanted to find something we both got excited about. And so through a lot of paper scribbling and like a bunch of crappy ideas being thrown at the wall, we came up with this idea that seemed fun. And if you watch those two videos, it’s kind of just like little keyword thing where we would just say that and then we would just be able to kind of riff a little bit, which I loved, but we knew ahead of time what the topics were going to be.

Caroline: Yeah. And I loved it too. It was really fun to film. The problem is that now, looking back, we can see that it would be a good format for like a Q and A or something like that. It’s not a great format for any type of narrative storytelling because it comes across, the timeline is so jumpy that your brain can’t really follow the narrative of what it is, the story or what you’re trying to communicate. And so for us, just the product doesn’t match the vision that we have for it. And so it becomes clear that the experiment isn’t really…

Jason: Well, and how did it become clear if someone’s like, well, how do I know if the experiment doesn’t fail? Because two things for me were very clear because I watch our YouTube channel very closely and I’m the one who follows all the comments and the analytics. Number one, the videos got so much less viewership.

Caroline: Right.

Jason: And I thought they would get maybe more viewership just in the fact that they were very focused on one thing that was interesting and shorter.

Caroline: That was part of the experiment.

Jason: That was part of the experiment. But the second thing that I really noticed was way less comments.

Caroline: Yeah.

Jason: And for me, I think these days in the YouTube world, comments are kind of more than anything else. Like, I don’t even look at likes. I don’t care about likes at all because it’s just like, who cares? But comments to me shows that someone had an emotional response in some way, good or bad, to leave a comment. If they have no emotional response and we get no comments on a video, that, to me, means like, okay, this didn’t really grab their attention whatsoever. And I’m not saying we have to create salacious content that grabs people’s attention. We know our videos are going to, for the most part, be fairly boring, but I want them to be the least amount of boring as possible for someone to actually want to engage with.

Caroline: Yes. And again, going back to what’s your purpose? If it’s to create a deeper connection with your audience, it’s not doing that. Right?

Jason: Yeah.

Caroline: So the point I want to bring up there is, first of all, we’re always experimenting. And second of all, as much as you can kind of divorce yourself from the emotional response of that, it does suck to have an idea and to go, oh, like…

Jason: We’re excited about it.

Caroline: We’re like, maybe people like this, and then to be like, oh, no, it didn’t work out. No…

Jason: They didn’t. They didn’t like it.

Caroline: That’s okay. But we feel that feeling and we just go, okay, great, now what?

Jason: And I do think there’s a little bit of like an objective scientist yourself when you look at something like, we would go back and watch through those two Scotland videos and go, yeah, okay. I could see how this is just not as fun to watch. It doesn’t take you long in the journey. And I think the format that we had created before is a better format for telling the travel story. And I just think it makes more sense to go back to that, especially if we don’t want to try and come up with a whole new way of doing things.

Caroline: Yeah. Because normally we would then experiment again, but I do think our goals have changed where going back to the other format is totally fine, but that gets me into…

Jason: You got some tips?

Caroline: The end of this, which is, we all know that trying an experiment and not having it work out the way that you wanted it to sucks. And so I just wrote down some notes about what kind of mindset shifts or reframing ideas can help it suck a little bit less. So these are my tips. First one, remember why you wanted to experiment in the first place. So for us, I could be sad that people didn’t resonate with it. But what lessens the blow of that is remembering I wouldn’t go back and change it because remember how we felt at that moment when we wanted to do something different. We were totally bored with our own content. We were not having fun filming it. And so I don’t regret trying that experiment.

Jason: We needed something to help us pick up that pickaxe.

Caroline: Exactly. At least we made those two videos because had we done our old format, we probably wouldn’t even have made the videos.

Jason: Exactly.

Caroline: So I think that’s one big thing is just remember whether it was like, oh, I felt like I wanted to grow, or I felt boxed in by my old content and I wanted to step outside the box, or there was a reason why you decided to run the experiment. So even if it didn’t work out, like, remember why you made that choice.

Jason: Yeah. Okay. Second one, realizing people don’t care or notice as much as you think they do.

Caroline: So true.

Jason: I mean, this is one, I think, for anybody who has posted videos specifically on YouTube. It’s like every time you hit publish, you think everyone is just waiting for your video to come up.

Caroline: Or anything like, you try launching a new product and the sale doesn’t go very well. Or you try like a weird off-the-wall sales email idea and nobody replies to the email, all these things. There’s a self-consciousness that follows that…

Jason: Totally.

Caroline: Where you just go, you feel judged or you feel like, oh, how embarrassing, I put myself out there. I stepped outside the box and it didn’t work. But people are not paying as close attention to what you’re doing as it feels like they are.

Jason: Exactly. All right, the third one here, Carol?

Caroline: So the third one is that, I think this is a big concern that we get from WAIMers and people inside the community, is that they’re afraid that experimenting looks like flakiness or unsureness, and they feel kind of self-conscious about that. And what I would say is that might be the case. It might look flaky, like you’re all over the map, or it might be like you can’t land on an idea, but remember that that’s not what people are going to be thinking when you finally do find the thing that works. Right?

Jason: Exactly.

Caroline: You have to withstand the discomfort of whatever you think that judgment is, which, by the way, see previous point to people probably aren’t even paying that close of attention. But if they are and they’re judging you, and if that really does impact you, remember that there’s going to come a time where, if you can just keep picking up the pickaxe, something is going to hit, something is going to work, and people don’t have a very long attention span or memory. They’re going to perceive you differently when that happens.

Jason: Yeah. And I remember back at the beginning of Wandering Aimfully, especially the first year and a half, I felt like we were throwing spaghetti at the wall every month. It was just something different every month, and we were just throwing stuff out there. And if you just looked at us from the outside, you’d be like, wow, these people are just doing a lot of stuff. And I don’t really know what any of it is and isn’t even working. Just people don’t know. And from our side, it could be we look at the numbers and, like, Wandering Aimfully is not growing, people aren’t buying, and we think everyone thinks we’re failing, but I think that everyone’s just like, yeah, they’re just doing a bunch of things.

Caroline: And fast forward three years later and we do have it figured out.

Jason: We found the diamond.

Caroline: For now.

Jason: Yeah, it seems like it’s going back inside the mine… No, I’m just kidding. But yeah, I think that’s a big part of it is just realizing that attention span does not last or people’s judgment.

Caroline: Yeah, and also just on the topic of people judging you, because obviously we all know it would be great to be completely separated from people’s judgments of us, but we’re human beings. We want to be accepted. And so I think also just a reminder that, if anyone is judging you for, quote unquote, flakiness or experimenting, they probably want different things than you want. Right. So there’s no point in trying to see your life through their lens because they’re judging you against their own set of values, which is like, I want to stay in the box, or I don’t want to step out too far or do something weird or try something or risk. And that’s okay, that’s good for them. But don’t judge your own life based on their values. Judge it based on your own.

Jason: Final tip here is that remember that uncertainty is relatable and that no one is perfect or knows what they’re doing as much as people pretend to. And I also think this is just a good example of, we share our two Scotland videos that didn’t do well openly and publicly in this podcast to say that they didn’t do well so that you can go, okay, great. It’s nice to hear the people that I hear create a lot of content or do a lot of things that they tried something and it didn’t work.

Caroline: Yeah. And this goes back to the whole topic of the episode, which is just normalizing it. We all experience that. None of us knows exactly what we’re doing right out of the gate. And the last point I want to hit on here is just finding a way to turn something that maybe you see as a negative, this experimenter’s mindset, that you haven’t figured it out yet, you haven’t gotten your offer quite right yet, or you haven’t figured out your marketing channel or whatever and spin it into a positive. Have confidence about the fact that you have the courage to risk uncertainty and to try different things and see it as a pro thing about yourself and not a con. And that’s what I’ve done. And so, again, going back to it’s all a win-win, because if I’m the type of person who wants to grow and who wants to figure things out and has curiosity, of course, I’m going to be the type of person who tries different things, and not all of them are going to work. But I see that as a character asset, not a flaw.

Jason: Yeah. And I think the big thing here when it comes to experimentation, too, is if you’re not a big experimenter, if you’re not someone who has been doing this a lot, it’s going to be hard to get started, and you’re going to feel all this pressure, and you’re going to feel all these emotions. But the more experiments you do, the easier they get and the less pressure that you feel. And again, it’s like I said earlier, if you look at your business a couple of years in the full picture of what you’re working on, there’s not so much pressure to start a TikTok account tomorrow, and if it doesn’t work, your business is a failure. It’s like, no, that’s just one small experiment in my laboratory of things that I’m going to try to make my business a success or to help it grow in some sort of way.

Caroline: Yes. So to leave you with something. If you are in the thick of it right now. If you feel like you’re throwing stuff at the wall to see what sticks, just know that you’re completely on the normal path to business ownership. That you are right there with us. That we’re still doing that. And that experimentation is a totally normal part of the business process. And all the emotions that you’re feeling are a normal part of that as well.

Jason: Hey, what do you want to say to somebody who’s in the thin of it?

Caroline: If you’re in the thin of it right now?

Jason: Yeah. Goodbye.

Caroline: Congratulations.

Jason: And goodbye. I think that’s it just like, if you’re in the sin of it, goodbye.

Caroline: But if you’re in the thick of it, stick around.

Jason: You got to stick around. But if you’re in the thin of it, you did it.

Caroline: Just enjoy.

Jason: Congratulations.

Caroline: Great job.

Jason: Thin mints are delicious. Speaking of.

Caroline: If you’re in the thin mint of it.

Jason: Okay, that’s this episode. Hope you enjoyed it. Bye.

Caroline: Thanks for listening.

Jason: See you. Bye bye.

Caroline: Bye.

Jason: Bye bye. Good bye.

The Emotions of Experimentation in Online Business

(Big Fat Takeaway)

Experimentation is a totally normal part of the business process. You will experience up and down emotions as you try new things over time.

IT IT

This article written by

Jason Zook

(he/him) Co-head-hancho of this WAIM thing. I used to wear t-shirts for a living, now I just wear them because I'm not a nudist. You can usually find me baking things, watching JCVD movies, and dreaming of living on an island.

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