Hellow my fellow digital crusader.
Here’s a short, but juicy list of the good and bad I did with building my online brand in 2011. I hope you soak up this post like a hungry Spongebob Squarepants – there may be some “aha” – moments and warnings you don’t want to avoid.
Achtung – strong language up ahead.
Kids, please ask your parents for moral guidance !
Let’s start with the positive:
What I did right:
Sharpening my inner voice. In the beginning of this year, my style was mellow like Mr. Marshmallow . I was avoiding going all the way to edge, hiding in a boring-ass SAFE corner and playing things semi-safe. Boo !
When I finally came to my senses in late spring, I swallowed some “What the hell” – attitude and jumped right into my ocean of epicness. My writing became more authentic and in some parts offensive, because I was fully sharing my mind without doing any CENSORING. And that meant over-the-top strange language, hefty opinions and the occasional curse word or 10. Booya.
Lesson. Safety first – this slogan doesn’t deserve to be in the online space. You’re not going to experience a harmful digital car crash so there’s no point of using your seat belts. Go full throttle and don’t worry about crashing – the worst that can happen to you is that people ignore you online. Bah. You can handle that, right ?
Caring the heck ouf of my clients. My (brand) consulting gigs were more frequent than in the year before, because I gave my all, trying to deliver the ULTIMATE value experience. I almost always went overtime, and worked my best to help my clients as much as possible. A lot of them hired me again and recommended my services, because they were clearly awesome-fied by my efforts. Win-win baby.
Lesson: Don’t like your customers, luv them so much it makes your partner jealous like hell. Gary Vaynerchuk said the most important thing you can for your biz is giving a fuck – CARING about your customers as much as you can. I agree. Don’t blow your work, BLOW their minds.
After all, they’re your life blood.
Creating a slick web design. Yeah, it won’t win any prices, but it’s still slick and a lot of people talked about it. When you build your online biz, you have to own a beautiful storefront, in this case your site. I still see so many crappy site designs from competent people, and it makes me want to puke all over myself. They’re losing biznass, because their crappy presentation screams amateur all over.
Lesson: Please don’t be lazy. If you can’t do some cool coding yourself, consider getting a friend or web designer to do it for you. Yeah, it may cost some moolah, but come on, we’re building your brand legacy here, not some stupid sand castle on the beach.
Connecting with some awesome movers-and-shakers. I have talked to some pretty kick-ass digital crusaders this year, both offline and in the REAL world. In fact, I made it a deliberate effort to connect with at least 2-3 new online influences every week. I always talk about making connections, because your network is the security of your future.
Check ’em out – they’re going to create grand things in the new year.
Lesson: Please don’t play Rambo and try to take the world all by yourself. You’re going to fail so hard it’s not even funny. Mingle with the mavericks. You will gain so much attention and value by connecting with like-minded creators, it will advance your (and their) online career so fast Angels will fall jealously from the cloud. Help each other and rocket-fy your influence.
And now, ladies and gentlemen, the bad stuff.
What I fucked up:
Failing to launch my first premium guide. I started working on my first major digital product about a year ago, and even wrote and created a lot of content. But I never shipped the damn thing. I thought it wasn’t good enough, and kept making changes until the year was coming to an end. I wasted a lot of time and didn’t learn anything, because the failure to deliver means no feedback from your customers, which is a double-waste. Meh.
Lesson. Minimum viable product – do your eproduct as best as your current skill set allows it and then sell it . No one is going to kill you if your product isn’t the promised land, and you can always offer a generous take-it-back guarantee. A lot of my friends successfully launched their guides, filling their pockets with green magic and helping many people along the way. I didn’t because I was letting perfectionism get in my way. Total crash.
Trying to create new brand while neglecting my current one. I have started “I luv Empire” in late spring and wanted to turn that side into a visual art blog. I did get 5,000 to 10,000 visitors in the first weeks, mainly due some viral visual posts. But getting traffic later was much harder, because creating those cartoons took a long time and the site wasn’t as link-established as this one (Marsdorian.com has pagerank 4, I luv Empire had ZERO). I was spreading my focus too thin, fighting on two fronts instead of solely dominating one. #Fail.
Lesson: Before you start a second blog/brand, make sure you first one is BIG enough. Worry about your current brand/blog, make it a big player in your market, and then, and ONLY THEN, should you consider starting a second one. Otherwise, you’re shooting yourself in both legs having double work and spreading your focus in too many directions. I will now concentrate on building the Mars Dorian brand.
Posting infrequently. I experimented a lot behind the scenes. But my failure in doing it publicly cost me a lot of attention & traffic. I even got mails from readers checking if I was still alive. Mars Dorian >>giant slap in your fucking face.
I was clearly listening to my lizard brain and didn’t ship a lot of my (visual) work, because I thought it wasn’t good enough. Seth Godin would triple-combo-smash my pathetic self. And very rightfully so.
Lesson: You don’t have to post multiple times a week. But you have to make sure that you’re doing it once in a while, at least a couple times a month. You have to stay active in the mind of your reader & client. I lost a lot of readers thanx too my inability to post continuously. Many peeps were pissed off and left, and will probably never return.
Don’t disappear from the screen like I did. Deliver something every week and stay relevant. Consistency is key.
What 2012 will bring
The lizard brain was clearly kicking my ass in 2011 but I’m going to grill it’s green ass in 2012.
Starting with January I’m going to post more frequently. I will include a lot of cartoons and even little cartoon stories about living and working on your own terms, infusing some edgy brand/marketing visuals into the mix.
This site is going be a hybrid between stunning graphics and edgy edu-taining content. I’ll build a kick-ass online gallery and move my site one step closer to the global entertainment brand I’ve always envisioned.
I wish you a glorious christmas and shiny new start into 2012. We’re going to rock the new year so hard the titans are going to drop their yellowed pants.