The doing what you love question

My fairly recent article, “motivations for starting an online business“, had received an interesting question because I quoted a line from a book, and this view was questioned.

I’m never a person to suppress a good question and by looking further at the article, there is definitely some room for ambiguity so rather than simply just replying to the comment I decided to write a whole article about it. I’d actually like to thank Andrew Warner, before I get started, for allowing me to expand on this idea. It is definitely one core part of the article that left a lot to the imagination….

The Doing What You Love Question

AndrewWarnerQuestion

Andrew Warner of Shadeofinfo.com was kind enough to comment on this article about motivation.

Andrew does summarise points I agree with based on this rather throwaway statement by Kevin Duncan.

The truth about work

In life, how often do you do what you love? I think you may find that in life there are a lot of points where life is just a grey grind of gruelling work.

With online business I would also agree that on the most part, you may have to chase your customer and find something they are buying in order to optimise your return. This may not necessarily take you in an area you are comfortable, or enable you to stake yourself in something you love.

So is this statement completely useless? Defunct?

How about an alternative

In Andrew Warner’s view you don’t necessarily create a niche or sub niche for business in an area you love.

When does “doing what you love” best apply?

Often, it doesn’t matter how much competition there is for something as long as you bring your passion and enthusiasm to it.

Google as a search engine came a long time after the traditional search engines started, and through simplicity and a change in the game, cleaned the clock.

Red Bull came to Formula 1 seemingly from nowhere (with a hunk of Austrian energy beverage money) and Sebastian Vettel stormed to victory 4 times against the established big teams. This was no less impressive than the Brawn team steaming to victory with Button behind the wheel. The Brawn team later became the Mercedes team and once again, the silver arrow is set to demolish the opposition this year in rude form, at time of writing I’m not sure which driver will be holding the trophy.

What do all these companies share in common?

They do what they love. They are committed to the win. They have “form” from past victory and they carry this into everything new that they do.

So this redraws loving what you do into loving the process. It’s going to be poop at times but because you are interested in the process and passionate about your work, you are more likely to stick with it.

Are there examples of loving the process?

There certainly are. Pat Flynn is a good architect of such winning processes and you can see the attention to detail that he lavishes into his niche projects. His most recent niche site dual (2.0) challenge comes in the form of Foodtruckr.com. It is a site he has built from the ground up, starting with absolutely no knowledge of foodtrucks other than from being a customer. Whilst Pat may have no particular love of the food truck industry, he has a passion (love) for helping people and providing useful information and he has been able to create a minimum viable product (something he can sell) to fulfil the monetary aspect of the site. His creation of Foodtruckr also feeds his nichesitedual site and in turn provides even more ammunition for people to take out hosting through his Bluehost affiliate links. Through linking up all of his activities he has created a powerful engine for cash income.

The important point that Kevin Duncan made about “doing what you love”

In doing what you love, you are able to maintain forward momentum during the hard times, and there will be hard times where your motivation will be challenged by the lack of results.

If you have a love for what you do, you are more likely to override these setbacks.

As Andrew Warner argues, you could potentially find that what you are doing is far from what you love, but is paying the bills. As I have redefined, loving the process enables you to perform any task with resilience as long as you love what you are doing and have faith in the journey.

Is there something to voids of interest?

The problem with niches are that if you go too obscure, your target audience is very limited. Whilst this is great for an enthusiast who has no aim to reap monetary divination, its terrible for a bandolier wearing entrepreneur. If the target words you are trying to rank for barely raise a whimper then you are probably on for a bit of a dull time. Your options might include waiting around until the area matures (in which case you are able to claim a historical advantage) or you might need to diversify into some more productive rankings which may ultimately steer you off course and make your effort a mixed  bag.

So if you are a fan of tiddlywinks, it is quite likely that you will not become a storm in the Entrepreneur front if you try to market this aggressively.

A short checklist:

  • You’ve got to make sure what you love has an audience (because in business, you need to fill seats, wrestle tigers and take names)
  • You’ve got to make sure that audience wants to buy something (or can be persuaded by skilful artistry)
  • It is important that what you do is not diminished by doing it as a job (the hobby to income threshold is something to consider) because sometimes by over producing you may take the shine off something you enjoy and you won’t find out until you try the conversion.
  • You should trial how many potential posts you could write about the topic, less than 50 and you may struggle to keep this going.

Motivations for starting an online business

Blogging can be fun and is a great way to social. Blogging can also be a way to entrepreneurship. Being an entrepreneur means that you are running your own business and as I have mentioned many posts ago, an entrepreneur doesn’t imply success. You can be an Entrepreneur and be failing (but you are still an Entrepreneur).

Motivations for starting an online business

Motivations for starting an online business

Image Source: Pixabay

 

Kevin Duncan, author of “What you need to know about writing a business”, raises a number of good points on why you might aim to strike out on your own and highlights these as positive points:

  • I hated my boss
  • Couldn’t stand the politics
  • Frustration with current job
  • Got fired or made redundant
  • I am, or I became, unemployable
  • Convinced there must be a better way
  • Wanted to be my own boss / have more control
  • The chance to use my brain for my own benefit
  • Run my life as I want
  • Life changes everything
  • Wanted to take a risk
  • Always wanted to
  • Wanted the challenge
  • Wanted to create my own dream job
  • Spotted an opportunity
  • Had a safety net
  • Wanted to make a lot of money
  • A combination of fear and ambition

But on the sharp end of the reasons why you might want to change things up, Kevin indicates 6 key areas where you might be thinking rather negatively:

  1. Petulantly trying to prove a point
  2. Revenge against a former employer / employee / rival
  3. Just in it for the money
  4. Wanting a short term fix
  5. Deciding on a whim
  6. Diving into an idea you have not considered until recently

Looking deeper at the negatives

Petulantly trying to prove a point is a bad way to go. Looking like a rant monkey on the surface is not going to get you to the end zone. It is more likely to attract ridicule.

Revenge is mine sayeth the lord. Quotes aside, revenge is a dangerous emotion and most of us will have some first hand experience. It is born of rash thoughts and can lead us take less than rational choices.

Being just in it for the money is the quickest way to ruin. Brilliant things are born of passion, enjoyment and a connection to what we do and what we do well. The smell of money wrangling hangs on certain bloggers and it can be off-putting.

I hope that any sensible blogger knows it takes ages to get to a critical mass. You can’t truly effect a short term fix without having learnt the hard way. I don’t believe in first try heroes but you have to expect that you need to put in some quality time to get things up to speed. There are very few quick paths to victory, especially in the hyper competition sea.

Decisions made on a whim are incredibly whimsical. This ties in very closely to wanting a short term fix. If you make decisions on a thought you had one day, don’t be disappointed if you get bored with the idea very quickly. You are then tied to something you painfully have to end, or worse, suffer for a few months before giving up.

Making that dive is also a risky move. Taking Blog Prefect as an example, I took a period of 3 months to decide on what I wanted to do and in retrospect, wish I’d spent longer but overall I was happy with the direction. I do occasionally get some itchy feet on the whole idea and there have been some of the bigger bloggers who’ve felt rather nervous about their babies as far as a year to two years into the project. It is hard to say what is too short a time but I’d say that anything less than 2 weeks without a team of people to chip in, is not going to go as well as you might hope.

 

A nod to implementation

The implementation of an idea is the most important part of applying a strategy. Having an implementation plan when starting out is crucial. My implementation plan for starting Blog Prefect was sketchy and devoid of some key elements which were added in contingent fashion after the fact. As you start to build your blog more and more, you start to build capabilities which aid you the next time you start because you’ve had time to learn what works and what doesn’t, you know what toolset you need to succeed, even if your idea is completely different to your previous effort.

Having those basic building blocks, having a network that already knows you and knowing that you can do it are all pre-requisites to doing things awesome. You can’t get there without laying down your first try, and your first try could make you or break you (specifically defeating your will).

 

Conclusion

Kevin Duncan finally highlights that “doing what you love” is the best strategy. Doing what you love enables you to wrestle through the painful and hard times. Those times where the challenge outweighs the result. Doing what you love allows you to bounce back from the setbacks because you love what you do and have a vested interest in overriding the failures, and riding your way back to success.

Have you thought about UX on your blog

UX refers to User eXperience a bit like UI referring to User Interface. When you perform a UX review you are trying to determine your User’s journey and how to best serve them with the information they are looking for in a simple fashion. Through breaking down and eliminating complex steps, and making sure there is no redundancy, your users will have a better experience.

Have you thought about UX on your blog?

Have you thought about UX on your blog

The common way to murder Sims in the Sims 2 was to remove the handrail from the side of the swimming pool, sealing the fate of the poor sim. Having a bad User Experience on your blog could spell a similar fate.

UX is crucial in reducing your bounce rate because ideally you want your audience to view a few critical areas on their visit (depending on what the end goal is). Every long path and dead-end is another place your user may end the journey.

Interesting myths about UX

This is a basic list from UXMyths.com which goes into quite some depth within 32 principle myths that you should consider about your visitor’s journey.

UXMyths

A collection of 32 Myths as depicted by UXMyths.com

So where does this delightful and meaningful journey start?

There are two obvious places that a User’s journey may start:

  • Welcome page
  • Blog Post

Other places include:

From a specific page where you might have driven some traffic.

 

Two questions you should ask next

  • Question 1: What do you want your audience to do?
  • Question 2: Where do you really want your audience to get to?

The answer to both these questions should help you to determine what steps you need to take in order to get people to the right place and streamline your site. Everything else is just window dressing.

 

Starting with the welcome

My welcome page has always been problematic and traditionally I’ve made strong starts but this page is the exception to that rule. I have to think more about where my audience needs to get. My welcome page generates the majority of bounce because it is not converting people to take deeper steps. Traditionally when my site had the blog as the main page, it performed better (despite what all the experts say).

I have considered on a number of occasions that the welcome page would be a good place to start some split testing (see more on split testing over at digital dancer on my guest post there) because it is the kind of page that I can monitor which essentially remains static.

Going by UXMyths, I shouldn’t worry so much about this because it is a myth that the Homepage is the most valuable page (item 16 above). However, it still bothers me that it doesn’t generate the right response so my plan is to replace what I have there already, put a video in place and get a few buttons to take people places using the KISS strategy (Keep it simple, stupid!).

From the posts

I want to drive some form of cross link that is enticing enough to drive people around the site. Often I get a fair bit of movement from post to post so the situation is a little different from my welcome page. This will help drive an inner mesh which is helpful keeping people on the site.

 

Goals of a visitor

Goals are a particular analytic term that newbie bloggers will become more and more familiar with as they begin using analytics, especially if they blog for an income but in truth everybody has a defined goal in mind that they want to achieve.

My goal is to increase my authority and readership and my most important task is to get people reading.

I have to increase my output and viewings based on improving how people get to my work. I have over 150 articles on the site so have a lot to tempt visitors with but this needs to be organised in a clear way.

 

Have you thought about your visitor’s journey recently?

One of my failings has been that in order to preserve my stats in a scientific way, I don’t do my own trawling through the site and I can’t assess whether visitors on my site are having problems. As part of a change I have in mind for next year, this stat preservation will be alleviated by a change I am going to make which I will reveal soon.

You should be thinking about your user and the kind of journey they are going to have around your site.

If a tree falls in a forest would a blogger hear it

I never shy from writing a slightly wacky article from time to time but this Monday seems like a brilliant time to go into an unusual analysis of last week with no posts written. I am currently deep in revision for an exam and the company I work for is also busy receiving a new aircraft type which is quite different to ones we’ve seen before and we seem to be modifying it some before we’ve even received it.

I wanted to get to the title of this article because I was rather intrigued to see the amount of traffic occurring even though I had written exactly nothing last week for a whole 7 days. Of course, I have been writing things in the background and I hadn’t backed away from social media but I was not actually publishing anything. Yet, many visitors still came. I am not surprised by this, I have much more content than I started the initial campaign with back in June 2013.

If a tree falls in a forest would a blogger hear it?

If a tree falls in a forest would a blogger hear it

Image Source: Commons by Rob Burke

That’s not the exact question asked, that is not the exact philosophical question posed but go with me on this 🙂

Yes, I’m talking audience

Do the audience still turn up at your doorstep if you are not looking?

That is probably a better question for a blogger.

The answer is YES.

 

The stats don’t lie!

ForestWeekStats

You can laugh at 49, you can cry about 49, but 49 is not zero.

ForestWeekStatsGA

There were weeks when there definitely wasn’t any sound and I am not willing to pass silently longer than a week to discover silence becoming more of a common factor.

ForestWeekStatsAlexa

My bounce rate has risen a little but is still low according to Alexa.

 

Optimism

I know that there are many bloggers out there who start out blogging and lose faith along the way but there is a vital lesson that you should remain optimistic. It takes time to build up a head of steam because your network has to grow and your nexus has to increase. As you start building up your capabilities, you get better at doing what you do and in turn start building a unique offering to the audience. This helps position your blog in an already crowded market.

 

The web is a web

In order for you to continue to grow favourably you have to ever increase your network. If you were to take spiders in nature as an example, they take a while to locate the optimum area to start collecting flies. A spider  remakes their webs every so often when they start getting holes in their network and they become very adept at catching their prey, but like bloggers, spiders have to wait for their prize to turn up and can only do so much to prepare for their arrival.

So in order to be a kick-ass spider when blogging you need to:

  • Assess your social media strategy every so often
  • Make sure your you are targeting the right people
  • Grow bigger networks as you get more confident
  • Don’t get too comfortable in one place for too long (don’t be afraid to move outside your territory)

 

In conclusion

Trees do make a sound when they fall in the forest if nobody is there to hear them, people will come to your blog if you make the effort and there are many adept spiders in those trees utilising their keen ability to make webs to catch their prey. You will eventually become a kick-ass spider or like many unfortunate casualties, you’ll give up. It’s all a matter of your state of mind. If you perceive yourself to be a winner, you’ll make it happen, you’ll drag it over the line. One big success can outweigh many small failures so it is more about developing a coping and learning strategy to succeed from the ashes of your failures.