Created at the age of 13, "The Minecraft World" was another one of my most ambitious and educational failures.
What it was
Since I created this project way back in 2012, I don't remember the exact reason why I started it. All I know is that I was thinking big; too big. The Minecraft World was a website that aimed to be a community hub centered around unique content for all things Minecraft. The website had over a dozen original Minecraft characters skins available for download, a texture pack, it's own actual Minecraft server (which is the only part of the project that technically didn't fail), a message board, a blog/news section, a chat room, and plans for much more. Thanks to the wonders of internet archiving, the parts of the website that were finished can still be viewed today. Scrolling the remnants of the home page, you can even see a few blog posts and articles that were written by myself and my team.
One of the ways that I attracted users to the site was by offering to design custom Minecraft character skins for free. An archived version of the "request a custom skin page", shows that I received and fulfilled around 50 orders. The idea was that, if the users liked the skins I designed, they might also like the other parts of the site. Every so often, a user would click on an advertisement provided by Google Adsense. Besides donations, that was the only source of income for The Minecraft World.
What went wrong
As you can tell by the descriptions in the previous section, The Minecraft World hosted a very wide variety of content. This is actually why it failed. I didn't realize it at the time, but the entire idea for The Minecraft World was much too broad. The fact that this was my first "real" website also didn't help. There was simply no way for me to host the amount of content that I had planned, especially if I was designing it all (or mostly) by myself. I was simply too inexperienced and naive to take on a project of this size. Although progress was slow, I kept at it for around 6 months or so.
The lack of content was the main reason for this project's eventual failure, but a completely different event is what triggered it to fail. Did I forget to mention that a good portion of my user base was made up of family? Well, it was... Turns out that a few of my relatives were trying to support my endeavor by clicking the site's advertisements every day to generate ad revenue. When Google Adsense suspended my account for breaking their terms of service, I just decided to call it quits.
What I learned
The Minecraft World introduced me to a lot of concepts that I would use many many times in other projects. It was my first time renting professional web-server hosting, first time purchasing and setting up a custom domain, first time earning advertisement revenue, first time operating a Minecraft server, and more.
Besides all of the technical and business knowledge that I gained through this project, The Minecraft World was also the foundation for two of my other successful projects. Almost directly after closing The Minecraft World, I created my next website, Minecon Central. This new project learned from the mistakes of The Minecraft World and kept to a much more manageable niche. As a result, Minecon Central received well over 100,000 unique visitors and close to half a million page views. Additionally, I decided to keep the Minecraft server, but operate it as a separate entity. Eventually, this server even became profitable.
I learned so much from this failure that I honestly think I wouldn't be the same person without it.