14 Steps To Overcome Shiny Object Syndrome

Brian Petersen
8 min readSep 13, 2020


You might have heard about the shiny object syndrome, but what it is, and is it something that you have experienced as well?

First, let me be brutally honest — when it comes to buying “shiny objects,” I am personally not a saint myself.

During the years, I have attended countless free webinars promoting a new product launch.

I have purchased endless digital SEO products, courses, programs, and software.

If I look at my hard drive or login into my Appsumo or JVZoo account, it is a bit scary to see all kinds of purchases on various topics.

If I have to be honest, 80% of the stuff that I have been spending money on ended up in an untouched folder, my hard drive with no further action.

Some of the products turned out to be pure crap. Some courses, I looked at the first lesson and skipped the rest.

The rest falls into the category “it seems pretty cool, I better check that out later” (yeah right!).

When I look at all the crap I have bought in the past, I often wonder what on earth makes me purchase it in the first place.

I know perfectly well that I would never become a graphics designer or a professional video editor, or social media guru.

But still, I have managed to buy products in those categories as well.

At the beginning of my SEO journey, I guess I was fascinated by all “push a button rank fast objects” available under the sun.

Since it’s only $19.95, what can go wrong? (Yeah, right!)

Yep, I did hit the refund button some times, but in the end, the majority of those shiny objects turned out to be a bad investment.

The reality I faced was that hasty decisions caused those purchases.

They distracted me from carrying out my essential tasks and from following my current plan.

The bottom line, this drained me from mental energy and did not provide any genuine personal value to my small business.

What Is Shiny Object Syndrome?

(Image: Jan Sullivan)

In the business world, shiny object syndrome has been identified as the tendency of entrepreneurs to start projects based on ideas without adequately assessing the long-term goals, feasibility, and sustainability of the projects, which leads them not to complete anything.

These business owners tend to take their companies in many different directions. This tendency has been likened to the way children chase after a shiny object and, after reaching the item and seeing what it is, quickly loses interest and goes after something else that captures their attention.

Source: (developgoodhabits.com)

What are some shiny objects?

  • software that promises instant results and revenue
  • Digital courses in various topics
  • New business models, a special approach, etc.
  • Marketing or special advertising strategies
  • Social media advertising tools
  • SEO tools that promise rankings within days

A bad habit that might turn into an addiction

A shiny object can turn into a good investment, but if you always chase the “next big thing” that can rank your website in Google overnight and keep buying products, there is a good chance that you suffer from shiny object syndrome.

Your rational mind tells you that you don’t need to buy a product or program, but there is this inner voice in your ear telling you, “what if you are missing a potential goldmine”.

What if this is the missing link, the magic silver bullet, or new business idea or revenue stream (yeah right!).

Especially with SEO products, it is easy to get carried away — maybe you could rank Youtube videos on demand, becoming a specialist in lead generation. (Or a jack of all trades and a master of none!)

You might even find another shiny object promising that you can start a drop-ship business overnight, become a social media specialist, or grow your Instagram or Twitter account to one million followers in just 30 days.

You might as well be featured at Forbes as the new Warren Buffet while you are cornering the stock market (Yeah, right!)

The reality is that every new purchase removes the focus from your work and your original goal.

Eventually, constantly changes of focus on various topics leave you with an empty wallet and a lot of unfinished projects without any significant gains.

It is expensive feeling like a small child, getting excited, and buying useless products.

Constantly chasing the next new idea or opportunity results in procrastination — it is almost impossible NOT to fail.

You think that you are doing something new, but in reality, you are just buying something different and put a different project on hold and postponing your real work.

A business is not built within a few days on a rapid stream of new ideas. So better change your focus and work on a project instead of an idea.

Being an entrepreneur chasing a business idea

SEO is fascinating, and it is a relatively cheap way if you are an entrepreneur who wants to start an online business.

Just like any brick and mortar business, you need to set a long term goal. There are no shortcuts and no shiny things that can bring any real value to your core business.

In the digital world, we are facing distractions all day long — ads on Facebook, Instagram, an interesting blog post, or podcast episode.

Even we perfectly know that it is not an add on Facebook or an image on Instagram that is helping us maintain effective time management, we seem to keep those distractions take place.

If you want to succeed with SEO, you need to learn the basics, set long term goals, and stick to your business plan.

Do you suffer from shiny object syndrome?

How to Break Shiny Object Syndrome
  1. Do you buy products or services you never put into action?
  2. Do you easily get distracted by sales letters or ads for digital products?
  3. Have you bought several domain names but never built the websites?
  4. Is your business plan or idea in your head instead of in writing?
  5. Do you often change your workout routines because of a new idea or product you bought?
  6. Do you constantly start new projects but never finish them?
  7. Do you have a feeling “that it is probably my fault that this product doesn’t work as described
  8. Do you often feel stressed or maybe depressed?
  9. Do the feeling of fear of missing out on a product if you don’t act immediately?
  10. If you look at the products you have bought, have you used more than 50% of them?
  11. Do you make money out of the products you have bought?

If you can answer yes to 5 or more of the questions above, there is a pretty good chance that you are one of the millions of small business owners suffering from shiny object syndrome.

14 Tips On How to cure shiny object syndrome

The only thing you are not able to replace, no matter how much money you make, is your time. Time is your most valuable asset.

It would be best if you always tried to avoid short term goals and focus your hard work to reach the finish line.

Here is a list of steps that I have made that have helped me improve and to change my focus:

How you can cure shiny object syndrome by changing habits
Photo by William Farlow on Unsplash
  • Unsubscribe to all mailing lists that don’t provide 80% value and 20% promotion
  • Avoid spending too much time on social media. Just browsing Facebook is not only a time robber, but you also get exposed for ads (and funny enough, FB knows what you are interested in!)
  • Examine the sales funnel of every shiny idea or object you are tempted to buy (are there any upsells, down sells)
  • Make sure there is a money-back guarantee (put the purchase in your calendar if you haven’t used it within a week no matter what your excuse are, ask for a refund (you are never going to use it anyway)
  • Use your comon sense: if a product sold for $47 and claims it can make you $5000 within 30 days, why does the vendor not hire 50 people so they can use the product and make him even more money? ;-)
  • Look up positive reviewers on Facebook, Twitter, Linkedin or other social networks — reach out and ask them (perhaps they are paid, reviewers)
  • Join or form a mastermind group on Facebook or Linkedin with 4–5 team members you trust. Talk about products and the pros and cons of buying (test together if you buy)
  • Ask yourself before you make a purchase: Does this product or course tap into my overall strategy, and does it help me to reach any short term goals?
  • Is this a “just in time learning” is this something you needs to learn right now, or would it be better to focus your time on your primary target
  • Set a goal of never buying a product within the first 24 hours after you first saw it. Often you realized that after a good night’s sleep and some investigation, that product doesn’t seem so shiny afterward.
  • Be careful with free webinars. There is no such thing as a free lunch — the vendors know perfectly well how to use the marketing psychology and scarcity to make you buy!
  • Get a coach: Especially if you are doing SEO, you can bypass a severe learning curve and avoid many pitfalls. You can save a lot of time and money and bad decisions if you get a private coach.
  • Focus on your goal setting and your business goals — never buy any shiny objects that you cant fit into your current workflow.
  • Maintain a proper overview of your ongoing process — consider using a free tool like Trello to set up your daily tasks and measure the real impact on your business goals

Final thoughts

Final thoughts
Photo by Kev Costello on Unsplash

If your main focus is on shiny objects and short term goals all the time, you are not going to see much impact on your business venture.

Working with clients, I have witnessed how shiny objects have caused negative effects on their Google rankings.

If you constantly neglect your real personal priorities and keep doing the same things that you have always done, then it would be a miracle if you would experience any real impact.

Loving innovation is not an excuse to keep buying shiny new things.

Don’t spend the majority of your time on social media constantly chasing the next new idea, tools, tips, or opportunity that “might work.”

There is a blooming marketing industry that works on one single goal: to make you buy!

You need to devote your full attention and challenge your focus on acquiring the necessary skills to improve your current business.

Next step in your personal quest for SEO knowledge?

I know that, especially if you are new and trying to learn SEO, it can be challenging.

That was the main reason why my partner Fabian Pott and I launched our blog.

We focus on what works, and if we review a product, it is because we use it ourselves in our own business.

We also share insights and research to figure out which tools that work for us and share our tips.

If you are curious about some of the topics above, then visit us and sign up for our free newsletter and grab my book “SEO in 2020”.

Looking forward to seeing you at SEO Geek Lab. Until then, stay clear of the shiny object syndrome psychology. It is not impossible! ;-)



Brian Petersen

My SEO journey started as a hobby that turned into a living. I love testing and tweaking, and coaching. Someone is going to rank one on Google, so why not you?