I overcame a 20-year hurdle by investing only a buck per day. Here’s how.
I’ve been blogging for over two decades, probably before the word “blog” even existed. But like many other bloggers, I’ve written inconsistently, occasionally ranting about random topics without a clear purpose or sense of direction. If there was one word to describe my online presence, it would be “erratic”, which ironically was the name of a school newspaper I published back in high school.
My erratic life
Ah yes, high school. I remember vaguely selling newspaper ads, offering to design them too and thinking “I actually like doing this kind of work more than selling sandwiches at Arby’s”. Shortly after high school, I tried to start my own graphic design business on the side, then again a few years later, then again many more years later out of necessity during the Great Recession.
But, I’ve always struggled with focus and doubt.
Lack of focus and fear have always prevented me from moving forward and building a growing, profitable business. Instead of building a profitable business, I waste time comparing myself to others or obsessing over fonts instead of creating useful products and services. Out of frustration, I tell myself “I’m just going to lose anyway”, hang my head and play video games. At least then, I can finally win.
Are you tired of losing?
Maybe you’re tired of losing too. Maybe you’ve got a side business you’ve been trying to see take off. Or maybe you’re an entrepreneur who’s struggling with paying the bills. Maybe you’re thinking “I’ve blown it X times before, and I’m just going to blow it again.”
Well, this year for my birthday, I decided to finally get some help. For my birthday, I bought myself a membership to Michael Hyatt’s Platform University. I came with one goal: to learn how to create consistent content that would eventually lead to making a profitable business.
Why would creating content lead to a profitable business? Because I realized that I could use consistent content to either gain profit through either support services (e.g., web design, development, etc.) or selling products like online courses or workbooks. Yes, it took 20 years because I’m that slow, but I’m sharing this with you in case you’re interested in running your own business, whether it be full-time or on the side.
Here’s how I know that distributing free content can lead to sales: I’ve bought stuff from people who’ve given free stuff to me. For example, I first started listening to Michael Hyatt’s podcast for about a year and then heard he was publishing a new book he co-wrote with Michael Harkavy, Living Forward. I was so impressed with Living Forward that I figured subscribing to something that cost less than a dollar a day couldn’t be a waste of money. I think I was right.
Okay, just so you know, I’m not an affiliate and don’t make a cent from the sale of any of this. I’m just sharing my 20-year struggle, my experience and the results I’ve gained so far:
What I got from Platform University in 2016 for less than a cup of gas station coffee
Gaining clarity on my message
I cannot emphasize enough how scatterbrained I was. Here are some of the steps Platform University walked me through:
- First, I conducted a survey of my current readers, which were almost none because my blogging had been so inconsistent in the past. Seriously, I was starting at ground zero. I also surveyed people via email, people I though my use some help.
- I then wrote a proposition of my core values and what I could offer people. One thing I realized is that I’m not the best web designer or developer out there – not even close! But one major way God has gifted me is in finding web design and development solutions that are faster, cheaper and easier. Not to brag, but I can save people time, money and effort. So my proposition is now: “I help people design and develop their website so they can confidently serve more people with less time, money and effort.”
- I also created a brand slogan which echoes that same theme: “Designing solutions so you can serve more people with less effort.” For too long my slogan has been something like “designing great artsy-fartsy designs”, but now I realize I’m designing solutions to problems.
Creating a plan for creating consistent content
- I selected my primary content categories: I focus on web design from a small business perspective, also covering WordPress since it’s my content management system of choice.
- I determined my voice in how I would write: I would be opinionated, yet humble enough to admit my two decades of failures; humorous without being snarky, and accessible to folks struggling with their website.
- I committed to a publication schedule: One blog post every week no matter what – no more, no less. Recently, I started a weekly newsletter, but it’s essentially a link to my latest article plus collected resources, tutorials and freebies I’ve collected over the week. (BTW, you can subscribe by punching in your email address at the bottom).
Some other takeaways include:
- Streamlining writing: Thanks to the Platform University interviews with Jeff Goins, Ray Edwards and Donald Miller, I’ve learned to cut my writing time to 45 minutes a day and write up to 3 posts per week. These interviews alone are worth the money I spent because it’s saved me a bunch of time.
- Batch scheduling: I wrote most of the content for my daily 12 Days of Christmas over Thanksgiving break and then scheduled them for posting. Doing this freed up a bunch of time when I needed a break.
- Learning to repurpose existing content: My Preparing for a Fruitful Website workbook (available as a freebie if you sign up below) started as a series of jumbled posts but then because a useable tool worth selling.
There’s more that I could mention, but I’ve already gone long on this article. In summary, I think investing less than a buck per day into Platform University was the best buck I spent for all year. If you’re curious, check out Michael Hyatt’s free podcast: This is Your Life for an idea of what I’m talking about.
In the meantime, if you’d like to get more insights like this sent to your inbox, sign up for my gluten-free and spam-free newsletter. You’ll get my bonus workbook on how to prepare for a fruitful website if you sign up.