What does it take to be successful in blogging as or for a business?
My friend Al from Coolest Gadgets contacted me for some quotes to use in a presentation he has coming up, and as usual, I gave him way more material than he could use. Rather than let it go to waste, I have written it up here as an article.
These aren’t the only lessons, but they are a start. If you like them, check out my article from 2008 that has 41 tips about the blogging side of things.
- Don’t put off the revenue side of your business. I was known as the “free guy” for too long, and that meant when my articles contained $ signs people started getting angry.
- Let people know you are in business, and don’t apologise for that!
- Once you have started making revenue, don’t put all your eggs in one basket. Diversify revenue streams.
- And I don’t mean having two different advertising networks.
- I have come to the conclusion the biggest factor that has contributed most to my career and business has been my network. A network can be your most powerful asset, but even more importantly, will play a greater role in coming years as the world economy changes.
- One of the worst mistakes I have made (a few times) is thinking I can do everything solo. We are not superheros.
- Who you know is increasingly more significant than what you know, but more important still is who knows and trusts you.
- I didn’t set out to “build a network”, but my network grew anyway by being friendly. Through my network I have learned about breaking news and industry changes, discovered new tools, tactics and techniques, gained opportunities, job offers, partnerships, and experiences, attracted introductions, referrals, traffic and links, and have received valuable advice and coaching. And, of course, made great friends.
- Make nurturing and attracting network relationships a priority, it’s one of the best investments you can make.
- Social Media is not new, so don’t treat it as something special and different. It’s just accelerated human interaction. Yes, the tools have changed since the days of modem BBS, IRC and Usenet, but the same mistakes and same challenges are there.
- Remember that there are human beings on the other end of your updates. Don’t treat people like numbers in a spreadsheet.
- Nobody owes you anything. Being approachable, generous, useful and fun will go a long way.
- Don’t worry about the people who don’t get you, focus on those you do connect with.
Managing time, money and resources
- I tried all of the productivity systems and they didn’t work for me until I realised that managing my energy levels was more important than managing my time. If I get a good sleep, feel good, and am motivated, I can get more done in the same time. In fact, when our energy levels are low, it can take everything just to get started.
- Aim for progress, not perfection.
- If you are procrastinating, try to understand why. What is it about the task or project that you are resisting. A lot of the time it comes down to fear. Fear of failure, for sure, but also sometimes fear of success.
- We have to push the boundaries of our comfort zones to achieve anything substantial.
- Managing money has been a thorn in my side because I grew up with some pretty bad money mindset issues. Remember that money is not good or evil, it just is what it is.
- Debt is not inherently bad, but spending loaned money on liabilities is not especially smart.
- Just like on the airlines, put your own oxygen mask on before trying to assist others.
- If you give to charities and causes that you really believe in then you are more motivated to really help rather than handing over cash out of guilt or a sense of obligation.
- Remember it’s ok to get a second opinion on anything financial or legal!
Building the business
- Sales and customer service are as important as having a cool product. Yes, a great product can seem to practically sell itself, but I have seen many cool products go unsold because of lame attempts at marketing.
- How you treat people will go a long way to determining if you ever get referrals, reviews, testimonials and repeat business.
- Remember that everyone in your business is in sales, everyone in your business is in marketing. We judge your whole business on every interaction, large or small.
- Run your business like you would want to be treated.
- Having worked on both bootstrapped and funded businesses, I would rather bootstrap. Grow revenue creating assets, and have the business fund expenditures (and fund itself) rather than take outside money.
- Sometimes it does make sense to take outside money, just remember that gaining investment usually means giving up control.
- Know the numbers and challenges that drive your business and build systems around those metrics and constraints.
You will notice I don’t talk about tools or technologies in the lessons above. There is a good reason for that. The tools change but in general, people don’t. Back when I started writing online articles in return for hosting space, I used HTML, FTP, and GIF images … but it was the content and relationships that made them succeed or fail. When I got advertising revenue from my programming articles, and later consulting and freelance leads, it wasn’t because of the word processor I used or my photoshop skills. When I run an online course, nobody asks if I am using Premise versus Amember before purchasing 🙂
Which all makes me realise, these lessons could easily apply to a brick and mortar business, or an ecommerce business, just as easily as one based around blogging.
Got any lessons to share, or anything you disagree with? Please share in the comments …