In Cal Newport’s book “So Good They Can’t Ignore You”, he tells a unsettling story about a woman who decided to drop out of college. She wasn’t dropping out to take care of an unexpected infant or accepting venture capital financing for hot startup. She dropped out because she wanted to live life by her own rules.
She planned to live with abandon and only do stuff that mattered. For me, as a parent, the question “how do you plan to feed yourself?” quickly surfaced.
Passive income generated from a combination of niche websites and blogs.
I almost fell for it. You say “blog” and “income” in the same sentence and you have my attention. Thankfully, Cal pushed our young Kumbaya groupie to explain what she planned to offer on her blog…
Here’s where the trouble starts.
Her editorial calendar would be filled with posts recounting how she planned to live life on her terms, see the world, and like I said earlier – do stuff that mattered.
Its her life and everyone deserves a chance at running the race their way. Cool.
A year later, Cal checked in on our dropout and learned she had abandoned her carefree entrepreneurial plan. In fact, she was trying to look for a job, a difficult task since she didn’t have a college degree. Although she was determined, passionate, and courageous, her blog audience didn’t want to pay for her to see the world.
Cal summed up this tale with a brutally efficient analysis –
“Enthusiasm is not a Product”.
Basically, turning your intention into a product is a non-starter or in the case of blogs – turning your enthusiastic intentions into the editorial foundation of your blog.
- Starting a yoga marketing blog drawing on your lessons from marketing your first yoga studio
- Starting a gardening advice blog relying on your observations from planting your first garden
- Starting a entrepreneur advice blog using your experience as a first-time entrepreneur
You get the picture. Readers might enjoy the adventure but they are far less likely to fund it via product, service, or coaching purchases.
Let me hit a bit closer to home…
Before I started Pushing Social, I started a blog called MarketingMutt. This blog was going to be my platform for teaching people how to make money online. The problem was that I hadn’t made any money myself. I was enthusiastic but broke. For some reason I thought that people would pay for my observations. Nope.
When I started Pushing Social, I drew from my experiences creating successful social media programs for Fortune 10 companies and well-known organizations. Cal Newport calls this practical experience, “Career Capital”. This Career Capital is relatively easy to trade for revenue. People will pay for real and relevant experience.
In this case Enthusiasm isn’t the Product – Demonstrated Expertise is.
Tough But Valuable Introspection
For a moment, I challenge you evaluate your blog based on its ability to change the experience, fortune, and/or perspective of your readers. Can you draw from a deep well of struggle, practice, experience and expertise? Have you adopted a mindset that pushes you to get better at what you do?
This activity, the fruits of this labor, is valuable. You have a great chance of succeeding.
I know that this post might be a nudge toward shutting down your blog or changing directions. That’s fine, better now than later when you are disillusioned and desperate.
But Be Careful…
Don’t give up too soon. The first step is understanding that Enthusiasm isn’t a Product. The next step is fixing the problem. You win be taking action and getting clarity. This is the intent of this post. Don’t confuse the slow but steady improvement of your blog for failure.
If you are mastering a valuable skill (which means people will pay you for it)and learning how to communicate your value then you should stick with it. Get clear on what you offer and push forward.
Successful content marketing works when you can be realistic about the match between your expertise and your reader’s (and future customer’s) needs.