17 Jan The 4 Pillars to Starting a Blog or Online Business that Actually Matters (& grow it by 160x in 2 years)
“Without the right tools, little is possible. With the right ones, everything is.”
*Note: This is the first article in the “Monetizing Your Passion Online” series I’m running for the next few weeks. Can’t wait to hear what you think!
For the last two years, people have asked me, almost daily, how to start a blog or begin to make money from a passion over the web. And a huge percentage of the goals you’ve all shared with me involve taking the first step in making this happen. It’s time to provide you all some guidance (just as I was so kindly given over the years).
Not to mention, just yesterday I was on the phone with a good friend who’s in his second year of a top ranked ‘entrepreneurial’ business school, and he asked me the following: “Scott, what resources do you suggest I spend time with to learn about starting a blog and using social media? There isn’t really any course on this offered at my school.”
Don’t even get me started…
Bottom line: The world desperately needs guidance on how to start a blog that matters!
So I’d like to share with you the people and tools that have made this site what it is (in future posts, I’ll also tell you exactly how Live Your Legend’s business works and even the details of how it makes money). I hope it adds some clarity to the path we’re all capable of walking.
Now onto the good stuff.
Why everyone needs a blog…
Sure, I’m a bit biased, but nowhere and in no time in history have I see a more valuable, simple and inexpensive tool for exploring a passion, helping people and building a business around it.
Whether you want to lead a revolution to get kids to eat healthier, overthrow a dictatorship, leave a legacy of life lessons for your kids, build a business that can be run from anywhere, land your dream job, or simply make the world smile or laugh a few more times each day, a blog and social media are the most powerful tools I’ve come across for doing so. They change the world every day. And they have the potential to enhance, if not completely redefine, any project that you work on.
Many of you have already told me that you want a successful blog or want your current blog to be successful (I get that question at least once a day). Good. We’ve identified the problem.
The challenge is where to begin.
On starting a blog that matters…
Last I checked there were over 1 Billion websites (and likely a lot more – exact numbers are hard to find). And back in 2008 Technorati estimated that over 184 million of these were blogs (& that number has no doubt gone up considerably).
Thousands, if not tens of thousands, of new blogs get started every day.
Many of them you’ve never heard of. And many of them you never will hear of.
Live Your Legend was one of those for nearly four years.
It sat collecting cobwebs with maybe 10 or 20 people stumbling upon it each day. Subscriber growth was exactly 0% (stuck at 111 to be precise – 95 of whom I knew personally and were just being nice).
This went on for years until I met Corbett Barr.
In early 2010 I met Corbett over some beers in SF with two other guys I met on Twitter (sounds a little weird I know, but go with it). He soon became a friend and mentor and later became the mastermind behind the relaunch and rebrand of Live Your Legend that occurred in mid 2011. He walked me through every detail from naming, branding and design all the way to backend coding, business model and launch plan – not exactly your average web designer.
The rebrand Corbett led caused this site’s following to double inside of three weeks (from 3,500 to 7,500 subscribers at the time). I was floored.
Focusing on the right strategies makes all the difference
Since I met Corbett, and a few others, this blog has grown from 10 visits a day to 4,000. From 111 subscribers to over 70,000. From a side project to a full-blown multiple six-figure business. It now ranks among the top .006% all sites on the planet. All of this is still hard for me to believe – I’m incredibly grateful and continue to be in awe of it all, and the fact that you’re even here reading this (thank you!).
Looking back it can feel and seem like this happened overnight, especially to those who have only recently joined our community. Trust me – it couldn’t be farther from the truth.
I spun my tires for years until I was exposed to the strategies that actually made all the difference.
So what separates average blogs from the ones that change the world?
Simply put there are four fundamentals that must be followed to create a blog that matters:
1. Have a cause worth following. In the words of leadership expert Simon Sinek: people don’t buy what you do, they buy why you do it. This goes for buying into ideas as much as it does for buying actual products. You must have a purpose that matters to you more than anything else. And then be able to communicate that purpose, that Why, in a way that connects with others and makes them want to join you. Not because you believe what you believe, but because they believe what you believe. Changing the world by doing work you love, is my cause here.
2. Help people. Nothing good happens in business (or life) if this is not the first thing you think about. And your Why will guide how you help people. If you are not helping others with a massive problem, you should move on to something else, period. Nothing feels better than helping people in a way that’s unique to who you are. Get that right and anything is possible. It begins and ends with serving others. When in doubt, give. Just give. The rest will take care of itself.
3. Write mind-blowing content. Corbett so eloquently calls this “writing epic shit”. Nothing experiences long term success if it’s not high quality. Especially in the online and written world. Standards are sky high. If you write crap (or produce crap videos, or whatever your medium is), you will get crap results. All the social media tools, tactics and strategies in the world won’t do a thing for awful content.
The good news is that if you have a deeply passionate cause and do everything you can to help people, the epic content will likely follow. Fill your site (and others’ sites, via guest posts) with the best you can possibly produce. People will start to notice.
4. Make real connections. Just because you’re online does not mean you can sit in your basement and write all day and night. The online world runs off personal connections, just like everything else in life. Communicate with people over social media, skype and yes, in person. Get out and spend time with people in the flesh. Go on workouts, grab some beers (maybe even get drunk) or have them over for a dinner party.
People want to help people they know. My friends and I link to each other all the time. I’d only link to them if they nailed the first three things above (which they do in a huge way – that’s exactly why I’m sharing Corbett’s community and tools with you below). But it’s rare that I’ll promote someone who satisfies the first three, but stops short of the fourth. Everyone wants to help their friends. Go make some.
And this doesn’t just go for influencers either. You absolutely must doing everything in your power to surround yourself with inspiring, passionate people who support you and refuse to let you fail.
This changes everything. You are the average of the people around you – they’ll either raise you up or tear you down. You choose. The path of an entrepreneur can be much too dark and crazy to go at it alone. I could give you the best career and business building tools on the planet, but if the people around you tell you you’re crazy and stupid for using them, then it’s all for nothing. If you only do one thing, find your people. The rest will take care of itself.
The Daunting Gap Between Concepts & Application
So there are the four pillars to build a blog that matters. Easy enough, right?
The problem is there are a lot of details that go between each of those steps. Like a whole lot.
While concepts are simple (they usually are), the implementation can feel quite a bit more complex and requires unbelievable focus and massive hard work (as it usually does).
The reason that most people who want a successful blog end up never having one or it never goes anywhere, is either because they never started or they never knew the right steps to take. Nor did they have the confidence to take them.
Massive confidence (and dedication) seem to magically appear when you know the path you are following is one that’s proven to work – an you have a like-mind supportive community who’s got your back.
We need a detailed process for building a blog that matters
I’ve been wanting to create a detailed blogging guide for a while now. But the thing is, there are a lot of other people who could do it a lot better than me.
One of them is Corbett Barr. And he actually recently created just that. His course is appropriately titled: How to Start a Blog that Matters.
The guy’s track record is pretty bad ass (Live Your Legend is just one of many examples – and happens to be a case study in the course. 😉 He built his firs six-figure blogging business inside of 18 months and is the guy behind the incredible Fizzle community and online entrepreneur video training library (formerly ThinkTraffic.net and CorbettBarr.com). He is also one of the most honest, transparent and helpful people I’ve met online (or in person).
If you’ve been thinking about starting a blog (or rehabilitating an old one), this course will change the game.
And here’s the really beautiful part: For a limited time you can try out the full course (and a comprehensive online entrepreneur training program) for 30 days, for one dollar
Since Corbett first created Start a Blog that Matters, he’s done something incredible. He’s rolled up all his individual courses into Fizzle – one focused online community and monthly membership dedicated to training passionate people to build an honest online business, and building a successful blog is at the core of that.
The formal tag line for Fizzle is Honest Online Business Training – and the community of entrepreneurs who won’t let you quit.
I believe what they’ve built is the most useful, high quality and well-run community and training for online entrepreneurs I’ve ever seen. I continue to be in awe with how much they over-deliver on value. And because they want new entrepreneurs to have a chance to check it out, without the risk, they’ve made the two weeks free.
Here’s a bit more about what’s inside:
- The most active & supportive entrepreneurship community, where you can get peer accountability, take part in challenges, get feedback, find people to help when you get stuck
- Over 100 hours of video training (including courses from well-known instructors like Pat Flynn, John Lee Dumas, Leo Babauta, and some proven programs like Book Yourself Solid and Start a Blog that Matters)
- Weekly coaching calls & unlimited email/forum support from the Fizzle team
- In-person meetups in major cities around the world
- Discounts on the best tools & services for entrepreneurs
I’m honored to be one of their blogging case studies and to have my own Fizzle course on Building Genuine World-Changing Connections (also included for the $1 trial).
I cannot wait to see what you think of Fizzle!
Also, I have a bonus for you – A free copy of Live Off Your Passion ‘Lite’
If you’re interested in starting a new blog, I’m confident Fizzle will be the only course and community you’ll need (because Corbett nailed all 4 Pillars above and is notorious for over-delivering).
If you join Corbett’s Fizzle training through my partner link (which I do earn a small commission from – this bonus is me saying thanks!) and you decide to stay past the first month, I’ll give you a copy of the the ‘Lite’ version of my Live Off Your Passion eCourse, which includes a nearly 100-page written guide and associated workbooks full of exercises, activities and experiments for identifying your passion and building a career around it (The full LOYP course is $197).
I see Live Off Your Passion as a pretty perfect compliment to Fizzle – LOYP helps you find passion and then Corbett will help you build an online business around it.
How’s that for a fit?
In order to get your free copy of Live Off Your Passion you must:
- Purchase the course through my partner link.
- After your first month, send a copy of your receipt to firstname.lastname@example.org along with your name and best email address so I can send you the course download link.
I’m changed (and grateful) because of my blog
The people I meet. The passion I have. The way I can help people. My belief of what’s possible. The experiences I have. The life I live. The community all of you have helped create here.
All of it, and I do mean all of it, has changed as a result of my blog. It changed because I decided to put some of my ideas up on the web a few years ago.
Who would have thought what it would become.
I want the same for you. And it’s more possible than you realize.
All you have to do is start.
Corbett and I are here to help.
P.S. And if nothing else, the video from Corbett and his partner Chase on their welcome page is hilarious. And shows how talented these guys are with video training. Have a look here!