Learning From the Masters – Constant Learners are Constant Earners

The world has never moved faster. It’s the ability to quickly adapt that will separate the merely capable from the truly prosperous in this new great age. The good news is, there has never been more information readily available to everyone. For the 21st century learner, limitations are only legend.

Blogging is relatively new, and though most of the rules are still being written, it would be foolish for the budding blogger to ignore the examples already set by the first few pioneers to blaze the trail.

There is an abundance of free information out there. Much of it is good. There is however, also a ton of repetition. For those in a hurry to get where they need to go, it is a wise investment to pay for sage advice delivered by those who were walking in your shoes as little as one year earlier. For us it was inspiring to know that many of the models we looked to began to achieve their dreams shortly after their first year.

These are the 10 most important lessons we learned in our first year online:

1) Clarity over cleverness. Sure, it’s nice to be able to weave words together in a poetic way, but sometimes, especially in business, clarity trumps clever tenfold. Your readers should never have to guess at what you want for them to do. If possible, directions should be as clear as a big red X drawn on the map. Just because you can please yourself with your clever writing, doesn’t mean you’re on your way to the conversion.

2) Headlines. Grab your readers’ attention. The web is thriving with competition. Demand your prose is read by increasing the strength of your headline. This is one area where cleverness actually helps. Just make sure you deliver on your promise once you get the click through.

3) Organization. The importance of organizing yourself, work processes and resources cannot be overstated. With so much to do each day, from writing and publishing, to being social and gathering leads, it is essential that you are intelligent in how you strategize each day. A little bit of disorganization can have a cancerous effect on your overall productivity.

4) There is no competition. Do what you do well, don’t worry about anyone else. Observe what is around you and learn what you can, but focus on yourself and what makes you unique – that is what will put you on the map. It is okay to emulate those who inspire you, but you must shed the tired skin and step into your own true self as soon as you can.

5) You are not a freelancer. Freelancers are a dime a dozen – sometimes literally. Stand out by owning what services you provide. Own it, market it accordingly, and watch both your fees and client appreciation easily double.

6) Guest posts are necessary. A well placed guest post leads to increased exposure while also helping to build powerful links that will strengthen the character of your site. Consistently placing yourself in front of new and complimentary audiences is a tremendous way to build your business in a short period of time. Never deliver anything less than your best. Treat each post with the same degree of importance you would if writing for your own audience and try to write on a schedule so there is always a stream of new guest spots with your name in the byline.

7) Never be afraid to experiment. Not everything will work, but many things will. The good news is, you are sure to learn something either way. By only focusing on what is already proven, you will never be able to break new ground. Many of our experiments in the first year didn’t work, but each experiment strengthened our partnership and deepened our understanding of the way things work online.

8) Marketing is essential. Time spent (wisely) on social media yields a high return on investment. This doesn’t mean spending all day on Twitter talking about what you had for lunch. Time spent with social media is best when it is spent with strategy. Know what you are doing and why you are doing it if you expect to reap the richest rewards.

9) Openly share your knowledge. It is short sighted to believe that once you share your knowledge someone will then use it against you. Never be shy about articulating what it is that makes you great and don’t spend valuable minutes worrying that someone else will come along and use your methods against you. There is only one you. Build your business on the strength of what you know, and share that information freely. Don’t worry about your competition and don’t worry about giving away your “secrets.” There will always be new things to learn and new things to teach.

10) Authority rules! You are an authority on any subject where you know more than 95% of the population. Even that is a soft number since authority is really all about perception. Perceived authority, it turns out, can lead to more money in the bank than actual authority, since the general population and Google both look to what others decide is the most relevant expertise for any given topic. It is no longer degrees on the wall that matter the most. These days the currency’s in conversation.

Stay tuned. Wednesday we’ll be publishing the next part in our series looking back at our first year online.

7 responses to Learning From the Masters – Constant Learners are Constant Earners

  1. Jeff Hurt

    Sean:

    Some sage and great advice for those looking at having a successful carrer. Many of your tips apply to all professions and not just blogging!

    I like what you say in point #4, “Do what you do well…,” point #9, “There is only one you…,” and point #10 “You are an authority on any subject where you know more than…” I think in each of those points you are talking about following your passion, your dream and your skillset.

    I have a friend that wraps it up nicely with this: “Follow your ‘Best and Highest Use.’ Do what you’re good at, follow your passions and you’ll find yourself following your ‘Best and Highest Use.”

    Thanks Sean for keeping on keeping on.

    • Sean

      My pleasure, Jeff. I’m glad you enjoyed it. It’s been difficult sometimes this past year, because in passion doesn’t always pay as well as other things may. But no doubt, even if it’s the slower road, it’s the one I most want to walk. How I feel when I lay my head on the pillow at the end of each day is ultimately more important than how long it will take to reach the finish line.

  2. Kristin T. (@kt_writes)

    Yes! Especially to points 1, 3 and 4.

    Headlines are something I still struggle with, even though I’ve been writing for a living for 15+ years. Writing headlines for blog posts somehow seems like a whole new game.

    And can you explain the “You are not a freelancer” point a bit more? It sounds good, but I’m not sure I completely get what you’re saying. (I still use the word “freelance” to describe the work I do for clients, so I’d love more of your perspective on this.)

    • Sean

      Hi Kristin!

      Absolutely, and great question.

      I had a total light bulb moment earlier this year when I was listening to Brian Clark and Sonia Simone discussing freelance writers on the audio portion of Freelance X Factor. They were talking about how there were so many “freelance writers” who simply get lost in the shuffle, and that an excellent way to distinguish yourself from them immediately is to say exactly what it is you do. For example, “direct response copywriter” is in general going to attract a higher paying client who is looking to fill a specific need rather than the “freelance writer” who is clamoring for business amongst a sea of similar sounding service providers. Does that make sense?

  3. Adam Waid

    Sean-

    Great post! Thanks for sharing your knowledge.

    I love “Don’t worry about your competition and don’t worry about giving away your “secrets.” There will always be new things to learn and new things to teach.”

    Seems that more businesses are realizing that, but it takes time to break out of old patterns.

    All the best,

    Adam

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