If you write a blog, the bad news is you have millions of competitors.
The good news is most of them suck.
The same problems come up again and again, keeping bloggers from building a real audience for what they have to say. So how about you? Do you commit one of these seven deadly sins with your content?
This is the big one.
Here’s how making money with social media works:
You give away information of value. Maybe it solves an important problem. Maybe it makes people laugh. Maybe it makes life a little less boring to millions who are getting through a day of cubicle hell. Whatever.
You give. And then tomorrow, you give some more. And the next day, you give more.
After a heck of a lot of giving, you make a terrific offer and you get to ask for something in return. And a small fraction of your audience will respond.
How can this possibly work? Because if what you give is valuable enough, it will attract lots and lots of people. It’s roughly the same amount of work to give terrific content to a million users as it is to share it with one.
But to each individual reader, you’re giving much more than you’re asking for.
This is why so many “get rich quick” schemes don’t work, and why they’re particularly ill-suited to social media. They’re about taking. They’re not about giving.
Here’s why I don’t do much social media and content marketing consulting any more.
The 1,000th time I heard a client say, “But that sounds like a lot of work,” my brain exploded.
You know what’s a lot of work? Running a bricks and mortar business. 12 hour days, 7 days a week, 52 weeks a year. Maybe after a couple of successful years you’ll let yourself take a weekend off.
By contrast, running a content-based business is a lot of fun, with wonderfully low overhead, few to no employees, not much stress (by comparison, anyway), and yes, less work.
Not no work. Less work.
I don’t think there’s a blogger in the world (ok, except Leo) who hasn’t been frustrated at the three- or six-month mark when things just aren’t moving as fast as we want.
It takes some time to build an audience, and momentum is your friend. Most of us don’t take off like rockets. We build slowly at first, then the snowball starts to grow.
If you’re not finding the audience you want yet, ask yourself:
- Is my topic actually interesting to someone other than my mom and my cat?
- Do I give my readers more than I ask to receive from them?
- Am I working on cultivating a network of like-minded bloggers, and supporting their work as much as I hope they’ll support mine?
If the answers are yes, you’ll need to cultivate a little patience. Maybe even a good dose of stubbornness. Trust me, I know it isn’t easy. Read The Dip to keep yourself motivated while you get there.
Blogging isn’t like traditional advertising, where you spend more money to reach more eyeballs. In social media marketing, the currency you pay is being totally amazing.
If your content is lame, you don’t find an audience and your message doesn’t get through. If your content is fantastic, you’ll find a nice-sized audience who love what you have to say. Many of those folks will be happy to give you additional money to get more of what you offer, whether in the form of an ebook, consulting time, a comprehensive membership site, or just a snazzy t-shirt.
To paraphrase the sales and motivational speaker Zig Ziglar, lame bloggers have skinny kids.
Some may disagree, but I think it’s totally fine to start your blog wanting to be someone else. That might be because I started my first blog wanting to be Seth Godin.
I didn’t become Seth (the hairstyle wouldn’t suit me anyway), but I did find a wonderful audience and a niche in which I could make real contributions.
It’s great to be inspired by a big blogger. But in order to create your own audience and your own place in the blogging world, you’re going to have to find your own voice.
Why not instead be:
- Weirder than Dooce
- Godin with a Potty Mouth
- Marketing Profs for Hippies
Maybe you’re Problogger for drag queens, or the Chris Brogan of healthcare.
Be inspired by others, but find your own place.
Interestingly, that place is often defined by the people you serve. Think more about them.
It’s lovely to put your heart into your content, to infuse it with your personality, to come across as a real and likeable human being.
The game still ain’t about you, baby.
Some people are naturally attracted to topics that other people care about. Others aren’t. Don’t try to sell broccoli ice cream, even if that’s your favorite.
Boorishness usually comes from one of the other deadly sins. Selfishness being the most common.
You know that guy at the party who just refuses to shut up? The one who lectures you for 45 minutes about his Warcraft collectible figurines, without ever noticing that you’re desperately wishing you had a cyanide pill so you could quietly end it all?
Don’t be that guy.
About the Author: Sonia Simone is Senior Editor of Copyblogger and the founder of Remarkable Communication.