Are You Waiting For Someone Else To Make You A Success?

Earlier this week I read a post by a guy named Mark Schaefer, who writes a blog called Business Grow, titled Why Are the Social Media Elite Ignoring Us? It was really a post responding to a question he was asked as to how to get the top social media and internet folks to notice us and, by extension, help us get bigger on the blogosphere.

by h.koppdelaney

I like how Mark responded to the question, and he wrote one line that I thought was the best takeaway in the whole conversation: “Start your own sphere of influence.” Goodness, how powerful a statement is that, especially to someone like me who’s talked a lot since the last third of last year about the topic of influence?

It’s interesting because it also touches upon a post Danny Brown has recently on diversity in social media, or kind of a lack thereof because, though there are many minorities in social media, many of “us” aren’t really recognized by the at-large folks who book conferences or read other blogs and decide to recognize people for their blogging prowess all that often. There were a few people who said they don’t want to be recognized because they’re minority, but would like to be recognized for being good, and some of them are very good indeed.

There’s really a fine line between being successful and just being considered as good. People that participate on American Idol are very good; only a few of the winners have been successful, and a couple of non-winners have been successful as well. What this shows us is that sometimes, even with a great boost from something or someone big, you might not really end up being considered as one of the best. How many American Idol winners and runnerups have failed to capitalize on what has to be the biggest boost their careers could have ever had?

At the same time, how many people do fairly well because they’re captured the attention of a loyal few? I like to think of our blogging community as a loyal few. We visit each other’s blogs and get to know each other’s names and what we like. We comment on each other’s blogs and help to encourage each other. Some of us buy from each other if there’s something we find of value because we trust the other person after awhile. And we’re there for each other if need be; I don’t know how many causes I’ve taken up to support my blogging friends over the years.

It becomes incumbent for each of us to find our ways of being taken seriously by the blogosphere, or social media sphere, if that’s what we’re shooting for. It’s also up to us to produce what we feel is the best we can offer to others when we blog or interact in some fashion online. Sometimes it’s a lucky break, sometimes it’s the wealth of what we produce, and sometimes it’s just not going to come.

How does one person write for a year and end up with thousands of subscribers and followers and another person write for 3 years and end up with maybe 100 people following? I don’t know, and I’m betting the people who succeed don’t really know. But they didn’t sit around wondering how it happened; they did what they had to do, and it came to them. And if it came to them, it can come to all of us.

Don’t wait for someone else to make you a success; be successful all on your own. And if you ask me, if you’re consistently writing in your blog, you’re already successful.

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Even Top Bloggers Think It’s Mainly About Content

I was recently reading a post on a blog called Social Media Examiner called 17 Ways To Grow Your Blog From Top Bloggers. In essence the writer, named Cindy King (it’s one of those sites with multiple writers), asked 17 bloggers of some worth (the site had a contest to determine the top 10 social media blogs) their thoughts on growing their blog.

by Stepan Radibog

Setting up my own criteria in gauging their responses, I came up with 4 categories of responses. Yeah, they’re kind of sketchy, but that’s why we all get to create our own categories of stuff. Anyway, here they are:

Content – 12

Subscriptions – 2

Community – 1

Freebies – 1

As you can see, out of 17 respondents 12 of them, about 71%, believe that one’s content is what determines how much a blog has the opportunity to grow. I find it interesting, not only because I fully agree with that, but because it seems that none of the 17 mentioned marketing, which some bloggers have been writing about recently in saying that it’s more important than content. The one person who wrote about community, Mitch Joel of Twist Image, wrote that he believed it was in building the community, which I also agree a lot with, but overall it does all start with content.

It seems that I only have 6 posts using the tag “content”, but I’ve talked about blog content in around 390 posts. I have always believed that content is king and it drives everything else one might think about doing. With the best marketing in the world, if you get people to your blog and your content stinks you’re one and done and your credibility is gone. If you write things that get the attention of enough people that like to come back on a consistent basis, then everything else falls into place and, oddly enough, they’ll end up doing some of your marketing for you in ways you can’t imagine.

Of course, a few of those commenting about content wrote that thing you know I hate in general, talking about high quality content without defining what it is. At least one person totally got it right, a lady named Gini Dietrich, who writes a blog called Spin Sucks (hate the name but like some of the content) when she said:

“if people begin commenting to one another and you can be graceful about differing opinions, your subscriptions will increase because people will be coming to your blog for their daily brain food.”

Let’s face it; 71% is a pretty nice number if you need one to encourage you to think more about your content than anything else. At least think of it first, then go about the rest of your business.

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5 Keys To Winning Poker Tournaments And Blogging

By now those of you used to reading this blog know that I love to play poker. I have written a few posts comparing poker and blogging, including one of my favorite posts from December called 5 Things Bloggers Can Learn From Poker. I’m kicking this one up a notch and I’m going to talk about winning poker tournaments. Did I win a poker tournament? Stay tuned as we go through these 5 keys.

50 Las Vegas Premier 9g Pro Casino Clay Poker Chips

1. You have to prepare for the long haul.

Poker tournaments are long. If you’re in a very large one in person it could take days. The main World Series of Poker tournament takes more than a week, not including the final table. Small online poker tournaments will take a couple of hours to complete if you’re trying to win. Larger tournaments, 5,000 people or more, will take as many as 8 – 10 hours. You get breaks, but you have to maximize your time. If you’re lucky and have lots of money, you can extend your breaks some, but you’ll be losing money while you’re gone so you can’t be gone long.

With blogging, if you’re going to do it you need to be ready to do it for the long haul. I just hit 3 years in December for this blog, and just hit 6 years on my business blog. I still have plenty to say on those two blogs and my other two blogs, and I’m prepared for the long haul. I’ve taken breaks here and there but taking too long a break on your blog means you could be losing readers while you’re gone, so don’t stay away too long.

2. You have to know when and when not to take unwarranted risks.

In poker, sometimes you going along well when you decide to play a hand that’s somewhat questionable. Even if the cards look strong, you have to try to base your play on what your opponent is doing as well. You have to evaluate your risk based on whatever pattern you notice in that person and where your money level is at the time. Sometimes you have to let go of a pretty good hand that you’re unsure of to survive to play another hand and still have the power to do something great.

In blogging, you have to decide when it’s your obligation to take on a controversial subject and when you need to pull back and either leave something alone or tackle it in a much different way. Even if you feel strongly about something you have to think about whether you want to take a chance on alienating a lot of people or whether you can change how you address something so you still get your point across but don’t make people mad because you were too blunt in your opinion. Every once in awhile it’s best to leave it alone and go after something else.

3. Sometimes you have to do it your way instead of listening to how someone else tells you how to do it.

In poker, you had all these pundits that talk about pot odds and how many big blinds you have left based on how much money you have. The other day at the casino I went all in and this guy called saying it wasn’t all that much money to call and that he couldn’t leave it all out there because he just might win, even though he knew I had to have a great hand. And I did, aces, and I won. Poker manuals would say with that kind of money in the pot you have to go after it, but if he’d folded he’d have saved $60 he could have used for another hand. In a poker tournament, as long as you have chips you have the opportunity to get a good hand and get yourself back into the game, no matter how many big blinds you have; pundits aren’t always correct.

In blogging, there are a lot of people who tell you what you should do. Heck, I’m one of those people who kind of tells you what you should do to be a better blogger. But everything I say might not be the right thing for you. If I say write something every day and you can’t do that, then don’t try keeping up with me on it. If I say write longer posts and that’s not your style, then don’t do it. True, there are some things I say that are absolutes, but that doesn’t mean you need to deliver them in the same way I do. Trust your own instincts; even I might not be right all the time as it pertains to you.

by Viri G

4. If you’re going to try to win a poker tournament, you need to pay attention to what’s going on around you from time to time.

When tournaments are going on for a long time and you’re still hanging around, you need to start paying attention to how a few players play the game. For instance, there was this guy the other day that raised on almost every single hand, and he raised big. His idea was to get people to fold their cards early on so he could incrementally build up his chip stack. So, what I did was just keep folding my hands until I had a really good one, then when he raised I raised way over his hand and dared him to commit. He kept folding when I did that, and soon others realized the same thing and 6 hands in a row someone re-raised his bet, which finally made him stop doing it because he was just throwing away money on hands that weren’t worth it.

In blogging, you need to pay attention to what’s going on with your blog. If you’re answering people’s comments with questions and they never respond, you need to verify that people are seeing your responses; you might need to add a new plugin to your blog for that very thing. If you have a plugin that’s supposed to be sending your posts to Twitter or Facebook automatically, you need to verify every once in awhile that they’re working. If you’re post-dating your posts you need to make sure that’s working. If whenever you write a blog post, you need to preview it, especially if you’ve added links or images, to make sure things are where you’re hoping they are. And every once in awhile you might have to change your blog around some if you think things aren’t working in some fashion for you. Don’t throw away your time without knowing what’s going on.

5. When you get to a certain point and you’re still doing well, why not take a shot at winning?

In poker, you’d think everyone was actually trying to win the tournament, but you’d be wrong. Some people get really tired and have had it. Some people are just hoping to make the money and when they do they’re happy for it and ready to leave. To win a poker tournament, you have to be willing to grind it out, to play the odds, to bluff here and there without too much risk but enough risk to make it worthwhile. And if you maneuver yourself well, you have a great chance of winning it all.

With blogging, some people get to a certain point and think they’re doing well enough and then seem to stop trying. At one point they were writing 5 posts a week, and suddenly they’re writing one every 2 weeks. If they were paying attention, they saw how well their blog was doing with more posts and more visitors, and maybe they were even making money; who knows. If you’re reached a certain level, that’s when it’s time to figure out how to kick it up another notch, how to win it all, and then be ready to reap the benefits of it all. If you can do that, you and your blog will be winners, and you’ll earn great accolades, a great sense of satisfaction, and maybe even some money.

Okay, did I win a poker tournament? No, but I finished 2nd in an online poker tournament, and you know what? It took doing all those things and more to get to that point. It took 8 hours, and when it was just me and the other guy playing head on I even took the lead. And I finally went all in with a hand that was pretty good but marginal, and he called and had the better hand, and that was that. But I earned my money, had my best showing, and my confidence has shot up dramatically. That followed a great day last week at the casino as well.

If I can win at poker we all can win at blogging; let’s all go for the win!

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4-Hour Work Week – Lifestyle Review

I know what you’re thinking; two things in fact. One, didn’t you just see this picture a couple of days ago? Yes, you did. And two, if this is a post talking about a book then why not call it a book review instead of a life review? Hey, it’s me, so I have to do something a little bit different. After all, my buddy Marelisa just wrote on it as well, giving it a much different take than just a book review as well.

4-Hour Work Week review

You know, one of the things about speed reading is that, when you’re doing it kind of for pleasure, you tend to stick with stuff that you’re specifically looking for and thus you’re normally happy with what you’re reading. If one is speed reading something they don’t like it won’t stick, and thus it becomes harder to speed read.

I actually read half of 4-Hour Work Week by Tim Ferriss at Barnes & Noble many months ago and was really enthusiastic in what I’d read. The concept of finding ways to reduce one’s workload and stress load were very appealing to me. And I understood some of the concepts that could get me there. It was enough to get me to buy the book and read it more thoroughly.

Part of me is now wishing I hadn’t done that. The early concepts I got from the book are still valid, and yet I found myself not enjoying some other parts of the book as much, to the extent that at a certain point I started speed reading some of it again because I just wanted to get past extraneous stuff that I knew I didn’t care about.

First, let’s talk about what I liked in the book. I liked his concept of finding ways to free one’s time so they can do more of what they want to do, which in Ferriss’ case is travel. He set up many ways to get this done, from outsourcing some of the things he didn’t want to do to giving people working for him more power to make decisions for himself. What a life for someone with many interests.

I liked his talk about moving towards minimalism in many ways, including how he travels with luggage at less than 10 pounds; man, that would be sweet. I also enjoyed some of the “case studies” which he was able to include in this particular book because it’s updated and expanded with stories that weren’t available at the first printing, since obviously people hadn’t read his book yet.

I also liked him talking about not being available to everyone 24/7 and having some down time when you really need it. In relating some of this to my life, I rarely give out my cell number because I don’t want everyone being able to always reach me. If my phone rings in the car, I know it’s one of only 5 or 6 people. If I’m out of town, I might give it to a client I’m working with at the time, but I also know that once the assignment is over that’s one less person who’ll ever use that number again.

Now let’s talk about what I didn’t like about the book. I didn’t like that it concentrated so much on travel. Probably 20% of the book covers that topic, and that’s not the book I wanted to read. I thought that some of what I read was irresponsible. For instance, at one point he talks about how one of his plants ended up being closed while he was gone, yet he had fun doing this or that by being unable to be contacted. In other words, his fun was more important than all the jobs that were lost because he decided not to concentrate on an aspect of his business; that’s shameful and affected the lives of a lot of other people.

Tim Ferriss

I wasn’t crazy about the way he and some of his case study people outsourced certain things such that someone else took care of aspects of their personal lives and pulled them away from personal contact. For instance, he tells the story of giving an assignment to college students to reach 3 celebrities and get them to answer 3 questions within 24 hours. However, as a celebrity himself, he’d have never been available to be reached for any student that decided to reach out to him.

Being in business and telling people to only check their email once a week for about an hour or their phones for the same amount of time kind of irks me. True, both can kill time, but if you’re in business you might just have to suck up some of that. Then again, he does have other people handling most of this stuff for him; how many of us could do that sort of thing as readily?

There’s also the advocating outsourcing everything at the cheapest price possible, which leads to him and others sending a lot of their business out of the country and really being kind of smug about it. Yeah, I’ll admit that one of the things that irks me a little bit is not using workers in one’s own country if the only difference in quality is price. That might be a minor sticking point, but it’s one I have so I thought I’d mention it.

To be fair on that last point though, the concept of finding things one can outsource to someone else isn’t a bad one, even if it costs you a little bit of money. Something I absolutely hate is making cold calls of any form; I find reasons not to do it, preferring email or only wanting to talk to people from whom I know there’s already some kind of interest in what I have to talk to them about. Right now I’m contemplating hiring someone to handle a few hours of phone calls for me in one of my industries so I can work on something else. I already have an accountant that handles my bookkeeping and such, and I have a guy who cuts my grass, and let me just get one big contract and I’ll be outsourcing some other things that I not only don’t have time to do, but don’t want to do.

Where do I come down in the end? I think it’s a book many people still need to read because it does get one thinking about ways to make their lives simpler, even to possibly learn how to work it out with your employer so you can not only work from home, but potentially work while being mobile with the feeling that you’re actually sitting at home. True, I have some things I didn’t like, but overall this is a book that, if you’re looking to change your life in some fashion, you need to break down and read.

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