It’s my 40th year in life and 10th year in online business, so I thought it would be the perfect time to share my Top 40 Business and Content Marketing Lessons Learned.
I hope the list will give you some things to think about. While I realize that my opinions and approaches may not resonate with everyone, I think it’s important to understand there are so many different ways to approach things. The key is to find the way that works for you.
So, without further ado, let’s get to these top 40 things…
Top 40 Business and Content Marketing Lessons
1. Working a lot doesn’t necessarily mean working hard…nor does it imply working smart. Always remember the real reason you started your business and put yourself in check. Don’t fool yourself into thinking that you’re just working hard for a short time to get the big reward later. Take time to enjoy the important moments now and every single day. Before you know, years will have passed and you’ll wonder where the time has gone.
2. There is no point in doing things solo. You’ll always hold yourself back in some way. Focus on the things you do well and enjoy, get others to fill the gaps. Whether you hire a contractor, an employee or take on business/project partners…don’t do it alone.
3. Focus on your talents and your passions, but be realistic. Many people are taught that they need to find the most profitable niche to hit it big online, but if you don’t like what you’re doing, it’s probably not going to matter much. On the other hand, not all passions turn into profitable or interesting businesses, so find the right balance.
4. Don’t compare yourself to others. You’re uniquely you and you should be proud of that. Don’t worry about what other people are doing, how popular they seem or what opportunities they’re getting. Focus on you and getting what you want.
5. Define success in your own way. Following along lesson #4, it’s important to know what success means to you. If you don’t care about money, don’t care about it. If you do care, define what you need for success and don’t worry about what anyone else says.
6. You can’t please everyone, nor should you try. This is a huge one and one that will bring you success much faster if you embrace it. I’ve said it already, but you are unique and it is that uniqueness that attracts your target audience to you. Don’t worry about those who don’t like it…they aren’t your target audience anyway.
7. Embrace your would be competitors. A lot of people worry about competition online, but there are so is much room out there, it’s better to embrace your potential competitors. They can be your biggest allies and promoters.
8. Making friends in your niche is one of the biggest accelerator to your success. I’ve talked to countless people who haven’t achieved the success they’re looking for, even though they have a great website and incredible content to offer. They’re struggling with traffic and can’t grow their list. When I ask them if they know any people in their niche personally, the answer is almost always no. DUDE…making friends is one of the easiest ways to success. You can share advice, feedback and promote one another. Things grow when you’ve got friends on your side.
9. Don’t be a social butterfly. Relationship building is good, but 99% of forum and social media participation is just goofing off and likely time better spent elsewhere. Curb yourself and focus on a few key relationships.
10. Content has always been what sets long term successful businesses apart from others. Think about it. Every big online business that I can think of has used content in some way to set themselves apart. Amazon – It’s their reviews and user-generated content that brings people in to buy. Google find the content and brings it to you. Facebook lets you connect with your friends who bring you content online. The list goes on and on.
(And pssst…notice, these businesses get the help of others to deliver you content! They don’t do it all themselves.)
11. Content is one of the simplest, least expensive and most effective ways to generate leads and sales for your business. Content helps your audience find you, it bonds you with your audience and it showcases your expertise. It’s the bomb.
12. If you’re not actively building and nurturing your mailing list, you’re stunting your business growth big time. Seriously, I don’t care if you’re a big-time A-list blogger. If you’re not ALSO building your mailing list, you don’t have that opportunity to reach your audience directly, frequently and commercially.
13. Existing customers are the key to getting more sales. Satisfied customers buy more and tell their friends. Encourage this where ever possible by giving your customers special treatment, customer-only deals and incentives for sharing your products with others.
14. Staying the course will help you get to success much faster. Flip flopping between ideas will simply cause you to flop. I’ve done it and I’ve seen so many people do it too. The people who achieve the most long-term success are the ones with stick with something and make it work.
15. Posting your blog is rarely the most critical activity for a business. If it is, your priorities may need adjusting. Mailing your lists and bringing out new products are what’s critical. I know a lot of bloggers hate it when I say that, but this advice comes from my experience and the experiences of my students as well. When you get your head out of your WordPress control panel, it’s amazing the things that can happen!
16. SEO was easy in 2002 – It’s like chasing rainbows in 2012. Diversify your traffic sources, grow your list and build your assets…and let Google be damned! That doesn’t mean you can’t practice good SEO, but making it your focus means you’ll be on a roller coaster ride for the life of your business.
17. If your children say they need you while you’re on the computer, go to them. If you’re a parent like me, you know (or will soon know) how quickly our children grow up. Carve out work time that doesn’t interfere with creating a nurturing relationship with your children. Be thankful for the interruptions. Soon they’ll be grown and they may not need you so much.
18. If you are just starting out and reek of desperation, scammers will sniff you out a mile away. If you’ve ever been taken for a ride, fell victim to a Ponzi or other money-making scheme, examine your own behavior when it happened. We are all responsible for the decisions we make and we have a large role in deciding what choices are presented to us.
19. There comes a point when you have to stop educating yourself and you just have to start doing. You’ll learn way more through trial and error than you will through an ebook, course, blog or forum.
20. I no longer believe in continuously investing in my education to improve my business. I rarely read business books, hardly ever buy Ebooks and I don’t hire mentors. Instead I choose to live, experience in my business, learn from those around me and do a heck of a lot of observation. It’s what works for me at this point in my business. You may have other preferences, but you might want to try just doing stuff instead.
21. It’s okay that a lot of people don’t understand what I do. No elevator speech is going to fully explain it anyway, so why sweat it?
22. Technology is my friend, but I don’t mess around with it more than I have to or am capable of. I hire help or choose simpler solutions to save myself a lot of trouble and tears instead. If technology isn’t your thing, it should not keep you from achieving success.
23. Customer service is a critical part of your business, but it’s a productivity inhibitor. It’s distracting, it can be frustrating and someone in a bad mood can really ruin your day. Let someone else handle it while you focus on growing your business.
24. Other people’s blogs can be useful. Blogs can help generate ideas and help you find people to connect with, but spending an hour or two reading blogs is not “working on your business.”
25. Nothing on the Internet is private. Don’t fool yourself and always act like your mom is watching.
26. If you don’t own the site you’re publishing too, you really don’t own that content. Don’t get attached to online photo albums, contact lists and videos you uploaded. They can be gone in the blink of an eye.
27. Working in batches is great for productivity. Whether it’s choosing topics for the month, this week’s email or blog posts, working in batches always makes it easier to get things done.
28. I used to think religion and business don’t mix. A lot of people still think that. They say you’ll alienate your audience if you share your faith or anything else so personal. If your religion (or politics or whatever) is so integral to what you do, be proud of it. After all, it’s what sets you apart from your competition. I’m not suggesting this for everyone, but if it’s what you want to do, don’t let others hold you back. If you need more information, see lesson #6 above.
29. There is no one quite like you, but you are dispensable…or at least you should be. Nobody (or very few people, I suppose) wants to work for the rest of their life. Build your business to a valuable asset that can survive without you. It’s what will help you ensure that you have a financially stable lifestyle of your choice in the future.
30. Tools and Software don’t grow your business, you do. There is certainly handy software that can make it easier to work on your business, but there is no secret must-have tool for success. If you’re on the mailing list of anyone who makes you feel otherwise, unsubscribe now. They don’t have your best interest at heart.
31. You don’t have to explore everything to diversify. For example, people often say you must diversify the type of content you offer. Yes, it’s a good idea, but if you don’t want to do videos…you don’t have to. People still read, they listen to audio and they love looking at pictures. Do what feels right for your business, measure your success and keep doing more of what works.
32. Listen to your audience…they can teach you a ton. I often learn just as much from my readers and customers than they learn from me. Online success for small-time publishers like you and I come from really listening to our target audiences, connecting with them and understanding what they want. Read their emails (the ones they send to you, not their private ones!), pay attention to the comments on your blog and what they say in social media. This is GOLD when it comes to building your business.
33. There is no shame in selling. A lot of people tell me that they are weary of selling anything to their list because a bunch of people subscribe or their subscribers complain. Well, if you’re in business to make money…I say good riddance. While feedback is important, the key is to build an audience of people who are interested in your offers and readily buy your products.
34. If you’re not confident, they’ll know. Further to having no shame about selling, you also have to be confident too. If you’re wishy-washy, people won’t pay attention. If you’re confident and share your products with pride and conviction, your readers are much more likely to buy.
35. Knowing the words to use are also important. Learning to be confident, goes hand in hand with understanding copywriting. When you get copywriting you will be able to find those words that make you sound confident and that will be compelling to your readers.
36. It’s okay to take a break when you just aren’t into it. Whether it’s an hour or two, a day or a few days…do what’s right for you. Always work when you’re refreshed and ready to be productive.
37. To do lists are always meant to be shortened. As our own bosses, we tend to be harder on ourselves than we need to be. When your to do list is large, one of two things usually happens. Either you work to hard or you don’t get everything done and then you feel bad about it. Make a shorter list instead.
38. Use your freedom to good things. Whether it’s volunteer work, helping people in some way or just doing extra stuff to take care of your family, embrace the freedom you have. It is unbelievable gift that most people just don’t have.
39. Appreciate and be thankful for what you have. Never take anything for granted and always remember to say thank you to your customers, your partners and your contractors. You know, the good manners stuff your mom taught you.
40. Take care of yourself. I keep seeing this saying floating around online and that’s, “Do something today that you’re future self with thank you for.” Always remember that.
Thanks for sharing your time and letting an old lady yammer on. I hope just one or two will inspire you to do things better today.