This guest post is by Alexander Heyne of Milk the pigeon.
You’re paralyzed. You started reading how to drive more traffic to your blog, write viral content, and make money online…
Three hours later you wake up and realize you haven’t actually done anything.
You think you’ve had a productive day, and can visualize the influence and money in your future, but time passes and it never comes. You repeat many days like that, and wonder if there is something wrong with your strategy.
Meanwhile there are stories of success all around you—some random teenager built an online empire and raked in $5,000 a month easy; another guy built a company to six figures in two years using his blog; someone else landed a book deal via their blog.
Slowly, over time, you begin to lose interest because your success doesn’t match that of others. You say you gave the blogging thing “a good run,” and you quit.
You probably never realize the rookie mistake we all make blogging.
And you probably never consciously ponder the one oft-forgotten principle that all high achievers regularly make use of.
It is so intuitive and simple that we merely nod our heads and get on with our lives, never seeking to apply it. If it’s obvious, I’m probably already doing it, right?
Rookie mistake 101
When I first began projects in college, I would spend days researching a topic before I even started doing any work. I had dozens of web pages saved, links in a word document, and books checked out from the library.
So imagine me starting a blog: hundreds of pages of word documents, dozens of websites saved, potential affiliate programs mapped out to buy, hours upon hours spent researching.
I later realized that this was a massive rookie mistake.
Ultimately, you have to build your project, right? Whether it’s an essay, a proposal, a blog, or a house, it requires physical work.
And I realized that I (as well as many others) am prone to excessive information gathering, which hurts you in two main ways:
- It falsely makes you believe you are actually getting work done (you aren’t).
- The amount of information you acquire tends to be inversely related to the work you get done.
This pattern is exactly the one most bloggers, business owners, and Internet users find themselves in—collecting, hoarding, and storing information without any application or usage.
The cause of this rookie mistake is simple—we are at a very specific disadvantage while working today. It’s Google. I suspect our conundrum is a 21st century one: 100 years ago people didn’t have the option of researching themselves to death. There was just working, and learning from experience.
And if we get to the bottom line here, I bet you’re probably trying to build influence and make a living in the process, right? So let me help you point out a big mistake I made for most of my life, and how I helped fix it.
After I realized I was wasting a ton of time on the Internet without actually setting my foundation set at all, I came up with a personal rule.
I would record the amount of time I spent researching, reading, and collecting information. And I would record the time I spent doing work. The amount of doing to researching had to be a 2:1 ratio. I had to be doing twice as much as researching.
If, for example, I did some research on making a niche website, and it took me four hours to accumulate the information, I would then have a “due” of eight hours of work to do. And in that time I would no longer permit myself to do research of any kind. It was purely work.
Maybe that involved thoroughly doing some keyword research to find a niche that has high traffic and low competition. Or maybe I spent time outsourcing and getting the initial, bare-bones website up. Or perhaps I decided to send emails to five people running niche websites to ask for help in avoiding beginner mistakes.
But the underlying principle remained the same, and that was the most important part: Get work done immediately.
Having rules or principles that guide and govern your work will largely determine your success, and make it many times easier and more efficient. Make or find a system, and stick with it.
Rookie Mistake: Collecting information excessively in place of actually getting work done.
Fix: Utilize the 2:1 ratio. Spend twice as much time working as you do researching and reading.
Killing the overwhelming stress of choosing
I went on to apply this strategy when I started my blog and wasn’t having a lot of success getting traffic. I was spending hours upon hours reading every blogging strategy, printing off notes, making lists, reading success stories—but never getting anywhere.
So I applied the 2:1 ratio in combination with Strategy #2: Having a master plan and minion plans.
This is one of the single most effective ways to mitigate the stress of having so many options and so much information to deal with.
Here’s what I did when I first started my blog: I spent three days Googling “traffic strategies” or “getting more traffic” and made one huge word document. There was a list of about 100 tactics, including:
- posting in related forums
- other blog commenting
- guest posting
- submission to blog directories
- social media
Next, I made two business plans for my blog: 1. A main plan (master plan) and 2. a set of monthly mini business plans (minion plans). I then took one strategy from my list to apply for the entire month to that month’s minion plan.
Just one. That ensures you’ll actually do it and won’t be overwhelmed.
And finally, I got to work. As an example, check out my first four months of minion plans:
- Month 1: Establishing a Twitter account and adding ten related users a day. Also, being active for two ten-minute periods at different parts of the day to re-tweet content from others.
- Month 2: I focused on browsing my Twitter stream for people who wrote related content, or content I just liked. And then I read them every time they wrote a new post, wrote a well-thought out response and began establishing relationships with them.
- Month 3: I spent time researching SEO and compiling my own list of rules to remember when writing a blog post.
- Month 4: I created a definitive document of points to consider before I click the Publish button on any new post, such as emotional appeal, novelty, relation to theme, other posts I want to link it to, “feeling” of coherence, etc.
See where I’m going with this? The system makes your life a million times easier, keeps you focused, and helps you stay on track without needing Xanex for the option and information overload.
Best of all, it ensures you are getting actual work done. Because after all, everyone “knows” how to make money from their blog, right? Everyone “knows” SEO, right? And everyone “knows” affiliate marketing.
But if you ask the readers of some of the biggest blogs in the world how many of them are making (any) money, I bet 90% don’t have an answer.
Make your master plan and minion plans tangible on paper, and you’ll become serious. Once you’re serious you’ll see serious results.
Remember the oft-forgotten knowledge: only action breeds results. Do something, anything! Focus on one thing at a time only via a minion plan, and keep general direction with a master plan.
I can directly attribute my initial failures in university, business, and blogging to a lack of knowing Rookie Mistake #1 and lack of remembering the Oft-Forgotten Knowledge. And the closer I looked, the more I realized they are common among others too.
So the next time you realize you’ve spent several hours reading, researching, or pondering your blog or business, remember this statement: only action breeds results. And then get to work—sow your seeds, grow your army, and create your legacy.
Milk the pigeon is about killing that lost feeling, standing out in the crowd, and living a life of greatness.