The end is nigh…the apocalypse right in front us…
but before heaven descends upon us and lava rivers swallow our bodies,
let me uncover my 2012 revelations, predictions for 2013 and my MOST important blogging biz lessons that I have learned throughout this year.
I’m sure they will all help you with your OWN online biz journey.
Let’s start with the positive first.
What I did right :
I created more than I blogged.
There’s still this odd phenomenon in the blogosphere where people get famous for writing cool shit rather than doing it.
Something along these lines :
“I don’t know shiiiit about marketing, maybe because I have never marketed a product,
but hey, everyone’s doing a marketing blog, so maybe I should too !”
NO, you really shouldn’t.
In 2011, I too talked (writing and consulting) more than I created, and I shifted that ratio in 2013.
This year, I have done more and more design and actual branding work, creating real world
results and THEN blogged about it. Wowzee. What a concept !
2) I focused on my mother base
Instagram, Twitter, Facebook – they’re all online platforms with lots of followers
but obnoxious biznass models.
- Instead of making my online presence rely on such a fickle outlet, I have channeled my clients and audience all back to my home base (this blog) which I self-host. (more on that later)
3) I connected with the people that matter
When I started blogging, I wanted to dominate the blogging world Rambo-style :
Get in, take no prisoners and become successful the (Han) solo way.
I don’t know what kind of illegal liquid did flood my brain back then, but that’s of course bullocks.
Your community and peer network is the LIFEBLOOD of your online biz.
Most un-successful web creatives are unsuccessful because they DON’T have a network – no peers and or raving fan customers that recommend them.
That’s why I passionately connect with digital crusaders from around the planet – to
help each other out.
Sadly, those are the only things I got right.
Now ze bad stuff…
What I fucked up :
1) Listening to the social media circus
I realized that most social media talk (99,999999999%)
is full of nonsense and clowns…REAL clowns with red noses and circus music;
dip-dee-dip-dee-doo-dee-doo-dip-doo-dee-doooo – dancing on bears and riding
Honestly. There’s this perception that “Social Media” is that grand, elusive force that you have to master in order to be successful with your biz. Itsy-bitsy special sauce !
Which is complete bullshit with capital BS.
It’s just a tool, like a telephone, not some magic elixir that boosts your bottom line.
It’s a way to connect with your community and customers, nothing else.
I wasted too much buying into that social media deception instead of doing what
matters – creating epic shit.
2) I failed to keep a dedicated accountability group
When you’re self-employed and you have no boss breathing down your neck,
you are the only who can kick your ass.
And you’ll almost never do it.
This year, I “suffered” through several productivity slowdowns.
Of course there are a lot of productivity apps and techniques out there that help you going,
and I even use my favorite one pomodoro, but nothing’s more powerful than teaming up with
like minded biz crusaders who MAKE SURE YOU ACT ON YOUR GOALS.
I tried it several times this year and it always failed – the group vaporized into dark, undefined matter. Bad. I have to change that.
3) I didn’t master the Doing VS. Talking mode
Although I achieved much more during this year than in the last, there was still too much talking.
Talking about stuff doesn’t make you incredibly successful – shipping out work DOES.
I have shipped my guide, my cartoons, a course, slideshare sand lots of designs, gladly sacrificing my blogging time. But it wasn’t nearly enough.
I don’t want to become known as the guy with the kick-ass posts, but rather for the KICK_ass work that I create.
2013 will see me more cranking out WORK.
4) I jumped too late on the self-publishing train.
We all know self-publishing is all the fire – especially in the epub and mobi format. But the majority of the gold rush will come to a severe slow in 2013 – at least in the most important market, the USA. The rush was HOT in the last two years, but it’s become standard now. Shit, Mars, you PDF cock-sucking sympathizer. Next year, I want to tune more into the force and sniff those trends out.
—- I can summarize all these “mistakes” in two sentences :
Focusing on the puck instead of focusing on where the puck is going (failing to see trends and
the future) and failing to create enough work that matters (thanx to self-owned distractions).
Now onto the discoveries…
MAJOR revelations and surprises I made :
Your network is your only job security. About 70% of my gigs and income came through
features and recommendations from my peers this year.
Only a third of my work came through my blog.
What a revelation !
Connecting with your peers and building a kick-ass network will not only mean you get to know
cool people from around the planet, but that you also receive a constant influx of offers, collaborations and opportunities :
- I made over a thousand bucks through Srini’s blogcast FM interview. Not because he paid me, but because the interview proved so successful that it resulted in ebook sales, design and consulting gigs.
The fastest way to get grrrrreat at something is to admit that you SUCK in the first place
I looked around what people are doing creatively in the world and wondered why some are sooo great while others created bland and amateur work, even though they hustled just as hard.
I found one reason for it – the ones who kick-ass at work are more honest with themselves when
it comes to their work evaluation. They know exactly how their current skill measures against the world, and effectively work on creeping out their lack of skill the and getting insanely better at their craft.
If you want to create work that blows people away, you have to really see how your current skill
matches up with the creme-de-la-creme of the world, INSTEAD of kidding yourself and seeing your work better than it actually is.
Only if you know how much you SUCK will you be able to create awesome shit.
Seth Godin is the world’s best (book) marketer.
He has written one book called Purple Cow and has managed to best-sell the same book again and again to hundred of thousands die-hard fans, merely by switching the covers and titles ( the latest iteration being “The Icarus Deception.”)
He clearly established himself as the go-to-guy in the category brain-porn for (aspiring) entrepreneurs.
And yes, I have bought every one of his iterations because I like porn.
Aim to become NOT the best, but the only one who does what you do.
This is especially true for creatives making money through the net.
I truly believe that if someone can measure your value in a specific stats, you’re TOAST.
Everyone who aims to be the number one will eventually drop to 2nd, 3rd, 4th etc. place.
Now matter how good you are, there will always be someone younger, more ambitious and
crazier than you.
The goal then is not to be the best, but be the only one who does what you do :
You may deride them or laugh at them, but you can’t put a definite number on them. That’s because they have no competition – they’re mavericks. There is no one like them, and there will never be anyone like them. Aim to be THAT kind of person, and add your name to the list.
OWN your online presence
I have talked to biz owners and creatives who use solely Facebook, Blogger and/or other free platforms as their MAJOR online presence. Ouchieeee !
Needless to say, they all got butt-fucked this year, because of Facebook’s priority to paid content promotion and Blogger’s ability to censor and shut down every blog.
While you have to use other outlets to get traffic and attention, NEVER NEVER NEVER build your online presence foundation on a platform that’s not self-hosted. The example of Instagram trying to sell your photos without your consent just proves this. Social media platforms are fickle creatures with bad business models – they come up with obnoxious pay models that often hurt the way you build your web presence.
You will always be at their mercy, and that’s a game you can only lose.
Be self-hosted. Use e-mail list. Everything else is an optional conversion and communication tool !
I have written a guest post on Mark’s popular blog about that :
A cautionary tale: Putting your business in the hands of Facebook
Action inspires more than words
Similar to what I wrote in doing vs. action.
If your goal is inspire others to do/create epic shit,
you have to do it yourself first INSTEAD of just writing about it.
- Stefan Sagmeister didn’t teach his fellow graphic designers how to break boundaries, he inspired them by BRRREAKING them.
- Felix Baumgartner could have written the best blog post on jumping from space, but it was his actual action that hold the earth’s breath and inspired it.
Talk is cheap. Action is priceless.
Now ze future talk.
What 2013 will bring :
Self-publishing will be wayyy bigger and slowly move into the noise era, similar
to what we experience in the blogging scene right now.
Every monkey who can hit the keyboard will publish something, and that means
clutter will be the norm. In order to stand out, you have to create a product that’s
as pro as a traditionally published one :
Unique, compelling writing + eye-grabbing cover + editing = chance of success.
( Disclaimer – this “revolution” will while SLOWLY creeping into the rest of the world.
I say rest of the world even though I’m from Europe, because people here are only SLOWLY
accepting a digital ereader over their smelly-ass paper-based reader.)
In much of the Western world, mobile will the main device through which peeps will consume your site. That means that every blog design decision (email form, banner, posts etc.) must be based on how it will look on a much smaller screen. Don’t forget this !
I’m already working on my mobile-friendly redesign.
The unofficial major theme in 2013 will be DISTRACTION, and the successful people will shut down anything that will disturb their creative process. Most of the apps you use are useless – they’re funky little toys that don’t serve a purpose. I personally don’t have a smartphone, because it doesn’t positively influence my life – it only distracts me from creating important work. Ultra-successful peeps like Gary Vaynerchuk and Seth Godin know how to exclude themselves from all the social media and app world, focusing on their work and being insanely productive.
Your success will partly depend on your ability to get rid of all the digital noise in 2013 – separating what truly matters and NOT falling for shiny little things.
And last but not least…
Information won’t matter anymore, only experiences.
You job is as an online creative is not to just inform people, but to give them an experience
only YOU can give them. That used to be different just a few years ago, but with Wikipedia and so many content networks out there, pure information is a commodity.
Let me repeat that so you can burrrn it into your brain :
Information is a commodity now.
I sold my branding and marketing guide in summer 2012, and I’m still making sales because
of the way I presented it – funky designs, edgy rainbow-raped cartoons and lotz of humor.
You can probably find the information on any major marketing blog, but
you won’t get the same pleasing experience.
Every informational content that Seth Godin, Chris Guillebeau and Danielle Laporte crank out
can be found almost everywhere. We all know everything they will ever write about, but that’s not why we check them out in the first place. We want to tap into their worlds, be part of their
experience so we can create our own.
So, worry more about HOW you present your products and services, rather than WHAT you present. Make (art)work that only you can make – I will work my face off to create a website experience in 2013 that only
Mars Dorian can offer.