Success depends on a skillset, not just a skill: Blogging, Marketing and IM

After yesterday’s post from J. F. Straw, I ‘d would like to share with readers a discussion I was having with a friend on this very topic:

Steve Sutherland, the "The Start-Up Expert" wrote:

I hear that all the time on WarriorForum – stick with one thing, choose one business model and persevere until you succeed. Unfortunately my business model involves content creation, copywriting, website development, article marketing, other SEO techniques and pretty soon email marketing etc! (Hardly getting good at one thing).

And in the same breath and email:

Sales are up anyway …!

So he was doing something right, for sure! However, I was turning this over in my own mind when I wrote my reply to him, and also to you:

I don’t think they mean get good at one (discrete) task, I can’t see how success could be based on one task, ONLY. I think they simply mean one business (this may involve multiple tasks) but keeping the focus on what YOU are good at. It doesn’t mean you have to be a MASTER of all trades! Obviously, you have to be reasonable at all of them and in some tasks you may have to be even better.

For example, when you buy a car, you could choose a Ferrari that excels in speed and acceleration. But the repair bills for simple things like oil changes are huge, AND, you won’t be able to drive it on less than standard roads. So you look for something more reasonable, say a Toyota. Toyota excels in producing great cars at affordable prices, but NONE of them will race as fast as that first car you looked at. However, that is their focus. And their customers like that. Toyotas are successful, not because they everything perfect, but because they do well in most important areas: engine capability, comfort, economy, efficiency, pricing, and repair service. They may not be the best, fastest, cheapest, MOST reliable, most comfortable, most powerful… but they are certainly successful. I think that’s the point.

I think the focus is what you said earlier: "The Start a Business Niche Expert". You’ve found a number of useful and sellable products, developed a marketing approach and put it into action more than 8 times already. Even better, you’re getting great feedback on sales/visitors on what sells, what is profitable, what works, and more importantly, what doesn’t. That is YOUR thing, isn’t it?

Even as a blogger, you have to know a bunch of skills, in some ways similar to Steve’s skill set, but you also have to know how to use WordPress, LiveWriter, and a whole bunch of skills. Being even a moderately successful blogger requires development of more than one skill, even though you may excel at one particular skill or subset of skills. Without some grasp of other skills, you will not achieve your aims.

What do you say, gentle readers?

Great Ideas: It’s easy to lose them, so don’t.

Grahame Green, the famous English novelist, was in many ways an inspiration for many writers. Dare I say, bloggers, too. For me, he was an inspiration: he was reputed to keep a journal near his bedside so he could write down many of his ideas, some of which would work their way into his novels. I don’t know if this is true or not, a couple of cursory searches indicated that it was not.

Whether or not it is true, it highlights a problem I’ve been having recently: keeping a track of those flashes of insight, ideas for posts, quotes, and other memes that come to me, as the muse does. Whenever I have one of those flashes of optimism, I really try hard to remember it so I can use it in a post later in that day.

The sad thing is: I then sit down to blog about those very topics, only to find that the ideas are evanescent as the warm winds of September in Taiwan. What am I to do?

So I have adopted several means to help record them: I’ll use email to send notes to myself, it’s easy to open, and create, and save. If a computer is not available, then I’ll keep some notes in my little notebook, small enough to fit inside my own wallet. If not, I’ll find scraps of paper to write down whatever I need to remember. Then I’ll collate the notes into titles or first sentences, and save them in my blog.

The result can be quite effective, but if not done properly, it will fill up notebooks/wordpress with numerous headers. These are easily recovered but making sense of them later is often a challenge, especially when the original mood is gone.

For example, I wrote a long half post about frustrations dealing with our photocopy company, then I saved it. A month later, the original mood is gone, facts are half-remembered, and I wonder if I will ever write it. At least I have the basics that I could write or re-write as needed. If I didn’t have these, I wouldn’t have the choice to develop the post or not.

So, if you are stuck for ideas: remember – your best ideas will often come to you at very odd times. Find a way to take some notes so that you will have a list of topics that you can write about when things are a little dry.

Tools I no longer use: on InvestorBlogger

Hyder really got me going when he posted a list of tools he’d never use again, I’ve installed and removed dozens of scripts and I keep testing stuff out…. My list is surprisingly similar.

Tools I do not use much any more

  1. SocialSpark*
  2. PerformancingAds (they lost my money)*
  3. Alexa (for increasingly inaccurate stats)
  4. TopSpots*
  5. BlogCatalog (too much like MyBlogLog)
  6. Dreamhost Referrals (never had one successful referral)
  7. TTZMedia*

Tools I would never use again

  1. Scribefire
  2. Widgetbox
  3. Sitemeter
  4. Smorty
  5. Blogsvertise*
  6. Blogitive
  7. SponsoredReviews
  8. AdBrite*
  9. AdToll*
  10. NewsRoom*
  11. Picasa Online
  12. CafePress
  13. A GuestBook or Hit Counter (so 1990’s!)

*these sites marked all owe me money (in some cases more than $10). In total, I’m owed about $60 which would be better in my bank account than theirs.

These are the tools I can think of right now, but I’m sure that the lists could be much longer if I thought about it.