7 Mistakes Beginners Make Creating a Lifestyle Brand (And How to Avoid Them)

By Sean Ogle •  Updated: 05/25/23 •  14 min read

I’ve helped people with creating a lifestyle brand for themselves for over a decade at this point.

I’m all about making money online through your words and using that newfound income and freedom to build the lifestyle you want.

That’s how I define a lifestyle brand. Not working four hours a week or living on a beach. If that is what you want, go for it. But, for me, it’s spending time with my family, getting out on the golf course, and going on some awesome adventures.

My lifestyle brands have all helped me do that.

That doesn’t mean it was always easy.

I’ve made a lot of mistakes along the way.

There are dozens of people in Location Rebel Academy who have had huge success building a real lifestyle business.

But most people don’t. Most people make some crucial mistakes early on that are pretty much setting them up for failure over the long term.

Today I want to see that change.

I’ve made all of these mistakes myself over the last few years in one form or another.  What’s important is you recognize what’s happening and change course as quickly as possible.

And that can help you move forward and see success building your freelance writing business, copywriting business, or niche sites.

The 5 Biggest Mistakes I’ve Made Personally

These won’t necessarily apply to you, but if I’m going to call other people out for their mistakes, I should at least own up to mine.

Here are the biggest mistakes I’ve personally made in the last couple of years:

So based on years of research (ok, I may be using that term a little loosely) and thousands of conversations (true), here are the biggest mistakes I see people make when it comes to starting a lifestyle business.

1) Don’t Try and Recreate Someone Else’s Lifestyle

Now that books like The Four Hour Work Week have been out for well over a decade, there are thousands of examples of people building successful businesses and living happier and potentially more profitable lives in the process.

The problem with this is I’ve seen a lot of people try and emulate the path of someone else.  They haven’t figured out what their dream is, so they try and live out someone else’s.

There are all kinds of problems with this.

For one, that’s someone else’s passion, not yours.  If you aren’t totally into hang gliding, then how can you expect to make it through the long startup process to open up that kind of business in Brazil? Oh, you want to get into copywriting to work for yourself and bring in $100k a year so you can….oh wait, you don’t know what you want to do?

You’ll be even more miserable than you were before.

No one can recreate my business or anyone else’s, for that matter. It’s my unique story and years of blogging/traveling/learning that make Location Rebel and related businesses what it is today.

Before you make a leap, understand what you’re leaping toward and why you’re leaping towards it. You’ll be more successful and happier, and you won’t piss off the dude whose business you’re copying.

Action step: Really think about your why. Why are you focused on creating a lifestyle brand, and how can you use it to reach goals (not just financial) in your life?

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2) Start with the basics

That’s awesome you want to create a hundred niche sites. Oh, and you’re going to do it all in the next 30 days? With no background in SEO or marketing?! Sweet, I’m sure you’ll make one miiiillliooon dollars off of that.


How many times have you seen that one work out? Very rarely.

What’s the problem here?

Often people who go this route aren’t starting with the basics. Until you have the skills and confidence to be able to pull something like that off, you’re just going to be wasting your time. So how do you start with the basics?

Here’s the three-step process we teach in Location Rebel Academy:

  1. Learn Skills
  2. Find Freelance Clients
  3. Apply to your own projects
Are there other ways to do this? Of course. But in my experience, this is the one that guarantees results.

Learning the basic skills, things like WordPress, copywriting, and SEO, will give you a solid base for whatever online or lifestyle venture you get involved with.

Then, by picking one skill and freelancing it, you’re building confidence and a base of income that will help ensure you’ve got some money coming in when you’re moving on to step 3.

Finally, once you’ve got some confidence, then you apply all of your skills to your own projects. Anything from eCommerce to membership sites or small communities. All are great business opportunities under the right circumstances.

And even once you’ve moved onto all of those ideas…100 niche sites, as great as it sounds, are still probably a bad idea.

Action Step: Pick one or two complementary skills (like email marketing and copywriting) and go all in on learning them over the next month or two to build skills rapidly. Then get marketing and secure a few clients. Try looking at local clients first; it’s a hidden goldmine.

3) You Can Have It All, But Not All at Once

These days I’m a pretty firm believer that you can have anything you want if you want it bad enough. If my life goal was to own a Ferrari, I could make that happen — but I’d most likely be sacrificing a lot in order to achieve that. For reaching goals, I recommend the stair-step method.

This works on a much smaller scale as well.

All too often, I see people who want everything in their business when they are starting out. I received an email the other day from someone still in their day job that said something to the effect of:

Sean, really excited about getting my new business up and running. I’ve got all kinds of stuff in the works, including:

Oh, and I’m getting ready to travel through SE Asia when I quit in a few months.

The guy had all of about 2 blog posts done and hadn’t done any work on his theme.

The classic example of trying to do too much, too quickly.

All of those things are great…but not when you’re starting out.

Focus on maybe two of those things. Figure out what your main goals are, and then work relentlessly on the things that will get you closer to those goals.

You can totally travel through SE Asia, work on a blog, and maybe one other thing, but if you’re going to attempt all of that at once, you’ll half-ass everything and never make any real progress towards the ultimate goal of making that your full-time work.

Action Step: If you are super excited by a ton of things, sit down and come up with 100 ideas for each of them. Pretty quickly, you’ll start seeing where you can talk a lot about something or it’s just shiny object syndrome.

4) Don’t Be Afraid to Spend Money

This one, I get. I can be a bit of a cheap ass at times, and I totally was early on. But hindsight is 20/20, right? There are certain small investments that can pay off in spades and are necessary.

Best example?

A premium blog theme. I used the free version of Arthemia for two years before finally investing in a good-looking custom site design. But you don’t even have to take it that far.

Buy a premium theme from Theme Forest. They have solid frameworks and make it so easy to customize your site and make it look however you want. That’s all I did for my golf site, Breaking Eighty.

With free themes, nothing is ever easy, and if you do find a good one, you’ll probably find a thousand other blogs that look just like yours.

Afraid to spend for ConvertKit or SEMRush? Get over it. These tools could be the best money you spend on your business.

The old adage “You’ve gotta spend money to make money” has a lot of truth in it. Sure, you can bootstrap the hell out of your business and spend very close to zero dollars, but you’re going to make your life a lot more difficult than it needs to be.

And honestly? There are so many tools out there that offer 7 day or 30 day trials. Here’s where being organized makes a difference. If you know what you are doing and how you can use these tools, you can get a ton of information in those trial periods and save yourself.

If you’re bootstrapping, think about that. If you’re just being cheap — spend the money.

Stay in an extra night a week and take the money you saved and invest in yourself and your business — you won’t regret it.

Action Step: Set aside some money every month for skill-building, tools, or education. That way, when it’s time to spend, you’ve got some cash in the pot ready to go.

5) Building a Brand is More Important Than You Think

Often times when I see people skip mistake #2 above (start with the basics), they jump right into building an info product or niche site, and they skip one very, VERY important step: establishing truly establishing a brand.

I used to call it having a “hub of location independence.”

By having a website and building a brand online, you’re opening up so many opportunities that simply wouldn’t be available to you otherwise. It establishes credibility and makes it easier to get in touch with more influential people and businesses. It allows other like-minded people to find you, which in and of itself should be enough of a motivator for you.

Sure, being a lone ranger can be fun, but having a brand will allow you to scale things infinitely faster.

How do you do this?

Many people view a brand as synonymous with having a blog. While I think a blog can be a valuable asset, it isn’t 100% necessary.

Simply having a basic WordPress site up, with some solid info on who you are and what you’re all about, can go a long way. If I were you, at the very least, I’d have a blog component in order to establish expertise.

Even if you only write once or twice a month, it gives people a little more insight into who you are and exactly what you do.

It’s worth noting that this way of establishing expertise and authority doesn’t have to be a blog. It could be a podcast, YouTube channel, or posting on LinkedIn or Twitter — any place where you share your views on your topic on a consistent basis.

Your brand and the things associated with it are some of your biggest assets. If all you’re doing is creating niche websites, one Google algorithm change can wipe out your business.

Even if everything I have online was deleted and I had to start from scratch, there’s still value in the Location Rebel name, my email list, my reputation, etc. The bottom line, for me personally, without the brand, there is no business.

Action Step: Pick two places to build your expertise. That may be a blog and Twitter, writing a newsletter and LinkedIn, etc., go all in on those, and then once you’ve built a brand, add in more channels.

6) Take Your Work Seriously

If you’ve recently quit or are traveling around the world, a new blog or business can seem like an awesome little side project. One of my best friends, Ryan, started an awesome blog that was quickly gaining traction and making him some money. But he never took it seriously as a business.

What happened?

He let the site sit for a year, somewhere along the way, it got hacked, and then he didn’t want to pay the hefty fee to get it fixed once he finally noticed what happened.

By now, he could have had a thriving business and community, but he never took it seriously. Caveat: He loves his life traveling and living in Germany now, but it’s still definitely a missed opportunity.

Sorry bud, but had to call you out on this one.

Moral of the story? If you’re serious about building a business, act like it.

Your blog is more than a blog. It’s a business. And the people who take that seriously see a lot more success.

Build routines around your work. If you’re working on your venture full time, figure out what hours you’re most productive, and sit your ass down in your chair and do the work.

If you’re doing it on the side, do the same thing. Figure out when you can work and actually do it.

If you treat your business like a fun side project, that’s exactly what it’ll be. If you take it seriously, and treat it as your new day job, in time, you’ll be right where you want to be.

Action step: Monitor when you feel most productive and your free hours and dedicate time every day to working on your projects. And make it real focused work where you try to accomplish 1-3 things. 

7) Don’t Work in a Vacuum

I’ve said repeatedly over the years that if you want to be successful in doing this, you have to find a supportive community.  For as many people as I know living out their perfect lifestyle, the concept still isn’t mainstream.

If you tell many of the people close to you that you want to start a business on your own, they’ll probably give you a myriad of reasons as to why that’s a bad idea.

That’s why it’s more important than ever to have a solid support system while you’re working through things.

This is one of the most common mistakes I see as well. People will hole up in front of their computers and treat the whole thing like they are in a vacuum.  They won’t go out and meet other entrepreneurs, and often won’t even try and communicate with like-minded people online.

Not only are you doing your education a disservice, but it won’t be long before your sanity wears thin, and you scrap the whole thing.

This is probably the most important thing I’ll say in this post. If you’re serious about building a successful lifestyle business, find a supportive, like-minded community as soon as possible.

Here’s a great one if you need a push in the right direction.

Action Step: Make friends with other freelancers, business owners in your community, people who are in your niche, and so on. These people will be great resources to help you move forward.

Have You Made These Mistakes While Creating a Lifestyle Brand?

None of us are perfect, and we all make mistakes no matter how hard we try not to.

Consider this post a reminder.

It’s easy to let things get in the way of our dream lifestyles but focus on continually improving your business, and you’ll thank yourself later on when you have full freedom in your life.  When you don’t have to miss things like your kid’s first steps because you were at work or when you meet the person of your dreams while traveling through the French Riviera.

That’s why we’re doing all of this anyway, right? To live a life where we can do more of the stuff we like to do, on a daily basis.

If you know you want to build a life like this but aren’t entirely sure how to get started. Check out our free 6 part course. It’ll get you heading down the right path.

This post was updated for accuracy as of May 2023.

Sean Ogle

Sean Ogle is the Founder of Location Rebel where he has spent the last 12+ years teaching people how to build online businesses that give them the freedom to do more of the things they like to do in life. When he's not in the coffee shops of Portland, or the beaches of Bali, he's probably sneaking into some other high-class establishment where he most certainly doesn't belong.
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