Note from Corbett: the following guest post is a little different from the usual, partly because it starts with a video, and partly because Chris isn’t your typical blogger. Chris is one of the few business-related bloggers who can claim to have built a 200+ person company. He and I have become friends over the years (first online then off), and I recently had the chance to help Chris with a significant new direction for his online brand and blog. He just completely rebranded and relaunched his blog and has some very interesting lessons to share with us today. I’m really proud of Chris because this level of change isn’t easy to make when you’ve already had some success. See what I mean in the report from Chris below. I wish more bloggers would ask themselves hard questions like these. This is how you get past surface-level success and onto something much more meaningful and lasting. Take it away, Chris.
Note from Corbett: the following guest post is a little different from the usual, partly because it starts with a video, and partly because Chris isn’t your typical blogger.
Chris is one of the few business-related bloggers who can claim to have built a 200+ person company. He and I have become friends over the years (first online then off), and I recently had the chance to help Chris with a significant new direction for his online brand and blog. He just completely rebranded and relaunched his blog and has some very interesting lessons to share with us today.
I’m really proud of Chris because this level of change isn’t easy to make when you’ve already had some success. See what I mean in the report from Chris below. I wish more bloggers would ask themselves hard questions like these. This is how you get past surface-level success and onto something much more meaningful and lasting.
Take it away, Chris.
(If you don’t see the video above, click here.)
Although I had always enjoyed reading and writing I really didn’t know if I had the ‘chops’ to create and build a really popular blog. “Trying won’t hurt…”, I thought to myself, and so I launched my first blog, Virtual Business Lifestyle in early 2010.
Over the course of the next 2+ years it became a pretty popular blog. I also kicked-off a podcast, under the same name and had the chance to interview some of the internet worlds biggest names, such as Leo Babuata, Chris Brogan and Darren Rowse – as well as our illustrious leader, here at Think Traffic!
It was fun. I got to help lots of people, make plenty of new friends and generally have a blast… However, something changed.
I started asking myself a lot of questions. Questions that, following chats with many other bloggers, I realized weren’t confined to my own little self-conflicting world! It seemed that almost everyone I spoke to had, at some point or another, asked themselves the same questions.
There were a lot of questions in this virtual list of self-doubt, but it was quite clear that there were three that stood out as ‘being present’ in every successful blogger’s thought process, at some point in the past.
Today I present to you those questions. If you’re a blogger, as mentioned, you’ve probably asked yourself them before. If you’re contemplating starting a blog you’ll be able to get a head start on hopefully getting it ‘right’ in an easier, less timely fashion that I did!
Along with these questions, there are a few Action Steps I’d like for you to take. Otherwise, all you’ve done is wasted time reading another blog post, lets face it!
So, here we go…
#1: Are you bringing REAL value?
Not long ago, I got a tweet from a reader. Nothing strange in that, as I use Twitter a lot. However, this was from someone that had come across content that I had produced (in this case it was a 5min video walk-through on how to update to the new Twitter profile), and then taken action on it. He actually used my video tutorial to update his own Twitter profile. And then, tweeted out to the world about how ‘super easy’ my post was to follow.
Another recent example of bringing value to your readers was another tweet I received in regards to my free ‘New Business’ Bootcamp course. Based on what this reader learned from me, directly, he is now going to start podcasting.
Effecting change – THAT’S what I’m talking about!
He wasn’t the only one that did something like this. Many others shared the post.
This is exactly the type of content that we, as professional online publishers (if you don’t see yourself as such, it’s a good thing that you’re reading this post today – because that’s what we should all strive to become, as bloggers!) should be looking to create with each and every piece of content that we put together.
Merely ‘talking’ about this or that is easy. Anyone can do it, and many do just that – talk. And I guess, there is a place online for that type of content; however, I want to do more than just talk (and anyone that knows me, knows I love to talk!).
I want to adopt and inspire change as a blogger.
But, most importantly I want to be personally responsible for helping people make changes, regardless of how big or small those changes end up being, that will help them build and grow their business somehow.
1st ACTION STEP: Look through your last 10 blog posts. Were they shared by at least a few people? What kind of comments did you get? Did people thank you for creating the content? Did it produce positive change in their thought processes, or the way they are doing whatever it is they are doing? If not, study some other bloggers and see what type of content they are producing that do all these things – and then do likewise.
#2: Are you consumed by ‘the numbers’?
Some time ago, Corbett posted on the subject of vanity numbers. You know, subscribers, comments, email open rates, Twitter followers, Facebook fans, etc. I read this post in earnest, as we had spoken on this subject before and he had promptly put me in my place in regards to the subject.
As bloggers, its natural for us to want our ‘online numbers’ to increase regularly. I mean, we’re producing all this content and to NOT see the number of people enjoying and digesting it is a little brutal, lets face it.
However, getting to the point of focusing more on the LACK of growth and not the ACTUAL growth that we’re enjoying is, lets fact it… total bullshit. Why beat yourself up for no reason? The fact is that if you are creating solid content on a regular basis, your numbers WILL go up. They will go up slowly at first and then eventually (for some this happens sooner, rather than later) you’ll hit a tipping point. A catalyst for explosive growth.
This could be because of a post that went ridiculously viral, or perhaps a video on YouTube, or the fact that you launched a new podcast on iTunes, and a boat load of new people ‘found you’ for the first time in Apple Land.
What I’m getting at is that as bloggers we really should stop looking at these numbers and really start focusing on our content. That is, at the end of the day, what we’re going to become known for, right…?!
2nd ACTION STEP: Are you checking your Feedburner stats several times a day? Logging into Aweber to see how many people opted-in yesterday? Continually hitting ‘refresh’ on your Facebook page to see if your Like count has increased? If so, then STOP! Instead of wasting time (and that IS was you’re doing!), sit down and plan out your next 5 posts. Posts that will be so jam-packed full of awesome, actionable content that all of these ‘numbers’ will increase naturally – without you peeking over their shoulders all the time!
#3: Are you HAPPY doing what you’re doing?
As 2011 came to a close, I took a really deep look at my blogging, and realized that there were several things wrong with what I was doing. If I’m to be really honest, I actually started to almost dislike blogging. My blog was a 4-Hour Work Week style blog, with plenty of ‘entrepreneur’ thrown in.
However, after almost 2-years of blogging, lifestyle design topics became boring to me. Throughout the course of those two years I had personally achieved all my own goals in regards to the lifestyle I was striving to create for myself and my family, and I wanted to interact with more ‘real’ entrepreneurs, not just 4HWW-wannabe’s and location independent peeps (there is nothing wrong with these groups of entrepreneurs, I just wanted something more!).
Simply put, I wasn’t happy.
I sat down with one of my closest online buddies in his hometown of San Francisco (you might know him… his name is Corbett!), and over a couple of cups of coffee it became even more clear that I needed a change if I was to continue blogging and creating online content.
That coffee chit-chat was just the beginning. Many hours via Skype later (even when he was on holiday in Mexico!), myself and Corbett had worked on everything from reader profiles, what my new USP would be, all the way down to rough design concepts. These sessions provided a massive amount of clarity, and that clarity brought about a very real view of what blogging meant to me, and why I wanted to continue. But, more importantly, I now knew HOW I was going to continue.
I decided to make a big change.
That change was completely gutting VBL and starting again over at ChrisDucker.com. It included, amongst other things, a brand new design and a free video bootcamp course for my opt-in offer. But, most importantly a whole new focus on what I was going to be about.
I want to create some seriously awesome content, as well as inspire and help people on the subject of starting and growing businesses using new media; online video, blogging and podcasting – and include a ton of entrepreneurial wisdom (I’ve been in business 21-years) and plenty of the Chris Ducker spirit thrown in for good measure!
But, most of all, I want to really enjoy my blogging again. And… I am.
3rd ACTION STEP: Ask yourself if you are really enjoying what you’re doing. If you’re not, then create three different reader profiles. Ideas of what ‘perfect’ readers of your blog would look like – this is what Corbett had me do and it was an utter game-changer for me. Then, start to ask yourself what type of content you can produce, and in which formats, to inspire and help these people the most.
I was a ‘traditional’ brick ‘n mortar business guy all my life – until I started blogging. I’ve often been asked if I could go back and start over again what I would do differently. My answer, at least for the last couple of years has been “Get started with blogging earlier”.
Blogging is a remarkably easy way to affect change and inspire people.
However, if all we focus on is ‘traffic’ or ‘numbers’ we’re looking at things the wrong way. I was like that a while ago. I’m not anymore. And, let me tell you, I am by far a much happier, healthier and more motivated blogger myself now, because I asked myself these questions.
Please do the same. Today.