Kens views on how to write a good article in a few hours...
Hi to all,
I've spotted a couple of questions that are easy to answer and that should be helpful for many. I know of one, in particular, that should help many because I periodically check a web page or two, from folks who post in the forums...
I sometimes ("often," even) find myself thinking why the page was only taken to "good." Judging from the author's knowledge of the material, I am certain that it could have been "GGGRRREAT!"
Also there are 2 very recent "Nori-stories" that corroborate, as well. I'll include them below. Some of you and Nori are why this question resonated...
#7 Do you have any particular method to write a good article quickly (i.e. in a few hours)?
I can help out here with a pretty quick answer. So let's do it now.
First, let's define "good" by what "good" is NOT...
It's real easy to mix up the two.
So let's change "good content" (in the question) to "stand-out content."
THAT rarely comes streaming out of your keyboard. It forces you to "think different," to be dissatisfied with "good," and it's impossible to confuse with "good enough."
As I posted recently in the 80-20 thread, creating stand-out content is more of a 95-95 activity. Basically, I said that the more effort you put into it, the more your readers will get out of it (up to a point - details are in the 80-20 post).
The good news is that most posts by bloggers and most web pages (of theme-based content sites) are simply NOT written with that "STAND OUT" mentality.
Big companies emphasize quantity over quality from employees, and most solopreneurs fall into the same "good enough" traps.
So why NOT push yourself above them? Split from the herd!
It takes time to take a web page to THAT level.
I just had this conversation with Nori an hour ago. One of
her part-timers has gotten lazy. The language is not
active. Some sentences are sloppy. In short, there's NO
effort to push from "good" to "great." NOT acceptable.
The reality is that it takes time to write material with IMPACT. HOWEVER, you CAN shorten that time by working efficiently...
The 2 Ps of "Stand Out Content" are Preparation and Polish
Since I am not beneath using corny metaphors to help you remember, let's summarize this approach as follows...
You need 2 slices of "P Bread" to make a "Stand-out Content Sandwich"....
Read the TNT article on storyboarding...
It is not so much about HAVING to use the template (although that's useful discipline for those just starting out). It is about having a consistent structure/system BEFORE you write.
Take 15-20 minutes to outline the page. Add a few notes as they enter your head (they may disappear otherwise). Gather photos (which often provide ideas for structure and flow). PREPARATION and PLANNING will...
i) save you much more time on the backside
ii) guarantee you consistently higher-quality.
REALLY understand what the page will cover (and what it won't). You won't "luck into" a well-structured page if you PREPARE for it first.
Once you do that, go ahead and write your page, following the principles of MYCPS!, the way you do now. And don't miss this recent article
Take it to what you believe is the best of your ability.
When you think it's ready to publish...
Don't! Instead, move to the 2nd P.
THIS is where you go from "consistently good" to "stand out." First, read the page again....
i) Read it for flow. Will you lose the reader? Are you drawing him/her through, irresistibly? Smart use of headlines throughout?
ii) Read it again for flaws. For example...
- redundancy - unless it's for effect, don't say the same thing twice
- repetitive over-use of certain words (we all lean too much on certain words that tickle our fancies)
- generic/easy language (ex., "tastes terrific" instead of any one of 10 food-specific adjectives that the reader FEELS).
- bad grammar and typos (typoos are unforgivable - and I'm not a grammar Nazi, but there are limits).
Two days ago, Nori asked me to take a look at her review of
the newly renovated Malliouhana resort. After reading it, I
realized that it was "good enough" but not the "great stuff"
that she was hoping it to be.
So we turned "my blessing with a few minor comments" into an
exercise instead. Working side by side with her, there were
probably 25-30 spots that we improved.
The content was all there, though! She thought that
made it ready to be published. It's all too easy to get into
a "good enough" rut. And most importantly...
There was NOTHING in the improvements that she could not
have done herself. So (and I am repeating myself, and yes,
it's for effect)...
An UNSATISFIED eye, at this point, will turn what you think
is "ready" (but it's not) into "stand out."
iii) Read it ALOUD for voice. Is the page uniquely YOU or is it merely a small cut above Wikipedia? BE SEVERE. Re-write as needed.
If you can't be severe with yourself, read it to someone who
knows you really well. Where you feel embarrassed... FIX. If
you don't want to finish reading the page at all... re-write!
What else may you recognize while reading aloud? Another two examples...
i) You may not be sure of (or are missing) a fact. Instead of bluffing your way through, research it. Make research a habit - you will grow stronger built-in authority.
ii) If a sentence is awkward or isn't quite right, WORK it. NEVER accept it.
iii) Run-on sentences. Getting out of breath? Cut the never-ending sentences down into 2 or 3 shorter, active ones.
I could go on and on, but I promised it would be quick. You get the idea, in any event. So let's wrap it up...
POLISHING is all about NEVER accepting. POLISHING TIME really makes a difference.
I've saved you time with the first P, enabling you get to "good" more quickly... consistently good.
But I'm taking that time back with the second one.
The outcome though is that you'll take that page from "good (enough)" to "consistently stand out." That will, by definition, separate you from most of the competitive pack.
And THAT is more than good enough! :-)
OK, that gets us off to a nice, easy start. I believe this should help quite a few "raise it a notch or 3." If you truly apply this, your "P-sandwich-generated" content cannot help but impress like crazy!
All the best,
The 80-20 Approach to SBI! (and to Life Itself!)
By Ken Evoy
This is not a short article. But every minute you spend reading it will save you many wasted hours down the road.
So it's important!
If you are just getting started with SBI!, we'll look at how to "invest" your time generously during the first 5 DAYs of the Action Guide... in order to both "save" time as your business develops and end up with a far more profitable business.
And if you're a seasoned SBIer who struggles with an impossibly long (and ever-expanding) "to do" list, we'll cover coping strategies for that, too.
The essential secret? Accept that there will never be enough to time to do everything. Then "smart prioritize" your way to your goal.
But I'm getting ahead of myself. Let's begin at the beginning...
At a quick glance, "80-20" appears to be a simple principle that, taken literally, implies that you can attain 80% of the benefit of some projects with only 20% of the effort.
(Replace the word "benefit" with "effect" or "functionality" or "income generation" or whatever the appropriate "measurable" may be, depending on the nature of the project.)
The corollary is that, in order to get the remaining 20%, you'll need to expend much more effort, four times as much if you take the 80-20 literally. The implication is that it's just not worth your time to complete the remaining 20-80.
We could leave it there. But exploring this leads to some useful advice for time management in general, such that you get the most out of every aspect of your life, from every hour of your life.
Let's begin by looking at...
Misconceptions About 80-20
First, 80-20 does not imply unacceptable results unless you give it a full "100" effort, although I can see how people reach that conclusion. The topic needs a wider context to accept that "80" is often "perfect," given everything else that calls for your time.
The second misconception? Some think that 80-20 is a universal principle. But it does not apply to all projects.
The quality of the outcome for some "to do's" is directly proportional to the quality and amount of work that you put into them. These projects usually show "diminishing returns" towards the end. For example...
Writing a web page...
You can churn out a mediocre page that's acceptable, but that will inspire no one to follow you. It's not good enough to call 80-20, nor is it terrible. Improving it (to where it must be) won't be an 80-20 event...
Add well-composed, original photos, change passive voice to active voice, add unique insights and experience. Then comes the final proofing, not just for typos and grammar, but for the page's construction and ordering of the content.
Be careful. This last stage can lead to endless tweaks that make little difference ("diminishing returns"). So knowing when to "call it" is important.
Writing a web page is a "95-95" project - it takes a 95% effort to get a 95 "percentile" page (i.e., better than 95% of the content level from competitors). At 95%, you stand out.
And that is good enough because getting to 100% is usually going to take a "200" effort. I'd be happy with anything that ends up in the 95-100% level, but I would not tweak if forever to get to 100.
At 95, it's best to publish and then, if you like, revisit it two weeks later, with fresh eyes.
Writing web pages is generally not an 80-20 project, not if you want to stand out. There are exceptions - some pages just seem to roll off the tongue and onto the screen perfectly. Enjoy those, because writing is generally hard work (what your visitor gets is usually proportionate to the caring time that you put into it).
The third misconception is that the two numbers must add up to 100. That makes no sense because results (first number) and effort (second number) are independent variables. Adding more to one does not mean that the other must decrease so that the total is 100.
And yet, I regularly use "90-10" to connote a more extreme version of 80-20 - that you get 90% of a project's potential with 10% of the work. Bad habit, but it communicates more easily.
So what do those two numbers mean?...
The first number denotes quality, or the level of the outcome (whether it's taste, value of a Web page, car-driving experience, etc). It can mean the "percent of perfect" when you know what "perfect" is.
We all know what "perfect" looks like for a task such as washing the car. But page quality is a "mooshier" concept. Yes, we have a general concept of what makes a great page, but "great" is too subjective, harder to judge than a clean car.
So let's add a second consideration: the level of your best competition.
It gives you an advantage if you can consistently deliver a 95% page, where "95%" reflects an outstanding page that is also better than the level of the competition in your niche.
When you compare your content to your competition, you won't fall into the trap of blessing a mediocre page as "outstanding" (we all fall in love with our own material).
In short, if all your content is "stand out" material that has its own strong voice, you are going to do very well (assuming that you've done DAYs 1-5 well enough to deliver a strong niche with a solid monetization plan).
And that's more true than ever in this social era (which enjoys liking, commenting-on, and spreading stand-out material).
The second number has never really been well-defined. It has always been "the part that adds up to 100 once you set the first number."
But it actually represents time - and time simply "is what it is."
For the purposes of this discussion, let's define "100" as the effort required to deliver either...
• a perfectly clean car (i.e., when a standard is easy to measure), or
• a "stand-out" result (i.e., it takes 100 to deliver a 95% percentile result). If you want absolute perfection (rarely advised), it may take a 200 effort (indicating "diminishing returns").
Ever noticed how restaurants slide from outstanding to very good over time? All but the very best do.
In Canada, there's a fast food chain called "Harvey's." When it first launched, it was "100"...
The hot dogs and hamburgers were top quality and cooked over real charcoal. Fries were hand-cut in the restaurant from potatoes that arrived in burlap bags (my Dad would ask for the burlap to insulate his roses from the winter!)
Honestly, they were probably the best dogs and burgers that I've ever had. But...
As it grew into a mega-chain, the charcoal became propane, the dogs and burgers dropped a notch in quality, and they switched to pre-cut, frozen fries.
If you had never had the original product (100-100), their 80-20 product was fine. 80-20 is the reality for "big business" (Apple notwithstanding!). 80-20 is perfectly acceptable.
Why is that anecdote important to our discussion?
Because big companies give you the opportunity to stand out and win your niche. Efficiency counts. Writers have a time limit, a quota to fill.
In this day and age, turning out 95's will steadily put you into the game. You may accept an occasional 80-20 that comes tripping out of your fertile brain. Few pages tumble out of your keyboard, but if one does and if a re-read shows no easy way to deliver a 95 percentile, I'd consider moving on (if it's not a pivotal page). I have lots of other things to do -- the odds are that some are more important.
But your general aim, with web pages, is "95."
OK, with misconceptions cleared and numbers defined, let's generalize "80-20" to mean that you can achieve most of the potential of some kinds of projects in a relatively small amount of time, compared to the much greater time that it would take to achieve perfection.
Naturally, the implication is that 80-20 won't deliver a project that is as good as it could possibly be (i.e., perfection). But "80" is still pretty good.
For those who really obsess on perfection and therefore reject 80-20, that viewpoint is perfectly valid. But only if you really had nothing else to do with that big juicy chunk of "unused time."
The problem is that we all have many other things to do. And so...
80-20 must be put in that larger context to appreciate and make the best use of the concept.
Since our time is limited, the real implication is that you can get much more done when you apply 80-20 wisely, and usually should.
There's much more to life, many more things competing for your time. Almost surely, something else could make better use of that time. Let's go there now...
80-20 in the Context of the Really Big Picture: Life!
Each and every project, whether it be child-raising, cooking dinner, learning to speak Spanish or doing SBI! is governed by...
1) The goal of the project (and its importance), and
2) The amount of time that you are willing to assign to it.
The importance of the goal helps you prioritize and decide how much time you will give it, compared to the other projects in your life.
There are some mighty important projects in your life, all competing for your time...
• the raising of children
• attention to your spouse
• "the job" (which, for most, provides the essentials of survival such as food and roof-over-head, as well as entertainment, vacations, etc.)
• the 1,000 daily chores of living (from groceries/meals to car maintenance to dental)
• your own mental health (which means the need to slot some time for relaxation, hobbies, etc.).
Here's the only possible conclusion: There are not enough hours in the day to do everything to perfection.
If the day could expand to fit everything in to perfection, let's see how it would look...
• We'd set aside 6 hours to home-school our children, and for some other quality time, and to arrange social and other activities to round out what they miss from going to school, etc.
• We'd be devoting at least 4 hours of 1-to-1 attention to our life partner, like when we were dating (relationships suffer with inattention).
• We'd be working 12 hour days to make ourselves absolutely indispensable to our bosses, accelerating promotions and increasing income as we climb the ladder.
• Chores would chew up another 2 hours (I'm leaving out perfection here!)
• Of course, we'd be relaxing - reading, surfing, watching TV, playing sports, doing hobbies, etc. - for at least another 4 hours to de-compress from the 24 hours that we've already put into the first 3 activities (um, not that the spousal attention is stressful or anything!)
• And then we'd need 8 more hours to sleep.
Hmmmm. We need a 36 hour day...
Houston, we have a problem!
There are only 2 solutions...
1) Slow the planet's rotation around the sun by 33% so that it takes 36 hours to complete 1 day.
2) Accept that some things are going to be done sub-optimally but generally satisfactorily (80 percentile, say), which frees up much-needed time for other matters.
When you identify an 80-20 project, that "unused time" can usually be better prioritized than spending it on a little more gain. And some projects are going to have to be downgraded to below 80-20.
Let's see how that applies to life itself...
Once children arrive, parents spend less "quality time" with each other out of necessity. With a little luck and some "working at it," there's an unspoken hope and understanding that applying the 80-20 to their time together will not break the relationship.
More couples would survive intact if they actually talked about this reality. They could look upon their early, pre-child years together as the 20% effort that delivered 80% of a strong partnership that will last a lifetime, even with less attention (time) devoted to each other for, gulp, 20 years!
Basically, we parents accept paying less attention to each other as other priorities (children, job obligations, etc.) emerge. The "unused 80" will be re-allocated for the next 20 years.
It really would be healthy to actually discuss that. Most just sort of drift into it, which often raises resentments, stressing the relationship. Either way, though...
Your relationship is being "80-20'd."
Soon, your children need to be educated. Most people accept not home schooling (and passing on private school due to the high cost, which also amounts to time since time is money).
You figure that you'll get 80% of the benefit with public school (hopefully) with 20% of the effort (making lunches, after-school activities, perhaps some volunteer work).
So far, we've 80-20'd the relationship and education of the children in an effort to fit a 36 hour day into 24. And we probably cut 8 wonderful hours of sleep down to 6 (a little cranky some days?).
Life is full of 80-20s where we do accept less than perfection. We have no choice in the matter due to the competition for your time. It works out with varying degrees of success -- half the relationships survive and the children get educated.
Oddly, though, relaxation is one spot where few are willing to compromise. Whether it's TV for us older folks, or gaming/chatting/social on the 'puter for our kids, we pour tons of time into relaxation of all sorts. Too much time, frankly.
And statistics show that the numbers are not decreasing.
The 80-20 of SBI! as Part of Life
Life's demands set a good context for SBI!. I mean...
How the heck does SBI! wedge itself into a life that needs 36 hours per day and where folks have already 80-20'd down to 24?
SBI! is the common denominator that links all who are here. So it's a particularly interesting and relevant discussion. How does SBI! compete for your time?
The best way to think this through is with careful analysis. It not only helps make decisions, it sets the stage for a more serious and disciplined effort. When you clearly understand what you are giving up for this opportunity, you're not going to approach it casually.
Let's look at the "Big 2," applying them to SBI!...
Let's say that an SBIer wants this business to generate $1,000 per month within 18 months (a reasonably representative situation). That provides "proof of concept" that it can become much larger from there, even bring a level of independence to one's life (which is important in an increasingly unstable economy).
Your own situation may be different...
•SBI! may be a hobby for someone who is retired, where even $500/month of income is a nice plus for an enjoyable and fulfilling pastime. Heck, you have too much time to pay attention to your spouse!
•Or SBI! could be a full-time undertaking with a much bigger goal. Your spouse (if you're married) must be understanding and both of you must be motivated to succeed at this level.
Whatever your particular circumstances are, determining your goal (and how important it is, relative to everything else in your life) is critical. It helps determine the second factor...
Let's say that 15 hours per week is what you can spare. The most obvious place to grab some hours is from the over-allocation to "relaxation"...
You are willing to give up 2 hours of TV time in the weekday evenings, and 5 hours on Saturday.
This impacts others if you have a family. So, for example, "hubby" (assuming a female SBIer) has to sign on to take the children for a nice outing every Saturday, leaving you with a quality block of quiet time.
There's no 80-20 when determining "time for SBI!." The more time you put into SBI!, the more you get out of it. Allocate what you can without stressing yourself and the family beyond endurance. Done well, and with the support of everyone, it can work out very nicely.
Many SBIers also discover the joys of working on a subject that they love, and gladly allocate more. When visitors start arriving and fans start following, the joy of reaching others can shoot the passion through the roof.
Others, though, have other time requirements that can't budge, no matter how much time they'd like to add to their allocation.
That's OK, as long as you keep goals commensurate with time (and vice versa). In this example, the SBIer allocates 1,200 hours of time over the next 18 months to reach an income of $1,000 per month.
That's reasonable, assuming you execute well and, as we'll see, don't go too fast on DAYs 1-5.
Married or not, this approach is particularly strong because you keep a concrete goal ($1,000 per month within 18 months) firmly in mind. That will keep your mind on the fact that you're building a business. There is nothing like a clean, measurable number to keep you on track, and on the right tasks.
If you are not thinking like this already, start now...
1) There's no room in your "SBI! time budget" for an hour spent on an activity that is not moving you closer to $1,000 per month.
2) Keep your monetization plan on hand, and in mind. Be on the lookout for even higher-paying, money-making models. Ideas come to primed minds more readily.
The Nitty-Gritty of 80-20 Within Your SBI! Business
So far we've "80-20"-fitted SBI! into "life" according to your goal, and its importance to you and your loved ones.
It's a good approach, consciously measuring SBI! against life's other major consumers of time...
• You won't waste so much time on distractions like TV and YouTube, but leave enough for whatever you call "entertainment" or "relaxation."
• You'll have buy-in from those who matter to you that this is a serious endeavor. Support from loved ones who respect the effort, and its importance to your collective future, can really help.
• You'll be fully engaged, constantly mindful that this is as much a business as an offline, local business that required you to invest $100,000 to start it up.
Now, let's talk about the nitty-gritty of 80-20 purely within your SBI! business. We'll see that parts of SBI! are "95-95." However...
Allocating time with SBI! as outlined here, when most others don't, becomes the long-term 80-20 for success.
(If that doesn't make sense yet, it will.)
When you get the first 5 DAYs absolutely right, you sail through what follows. Most of those who skip or skimp on the same process (if they do it all) wonder why so much effort yields so few results.
In other words, investing a "95-95" effort into the first 5 DAYs of the process will deliver 80-20 results for the entire rest of your business-building efforts.
But I am getting ahead of myself. Let's start at the beginning...
Whether you are just starting out or have been doing SBI! for years, you have a motivating goal (the level of income, independence, etc.) and the time that you have allocated to SBI!.
No matter what the number is, it's the time restraint that limits the progress toward your goal. Logically, therefore, you want to make the most out of every hour.
If you waste an hour on a low-yield project (ex., reading blogs on Internet marketing) or if you obsess on a teeny detail for too long (getting a photo dead-bang centered when no one else will notice), you are setting yourself back.
Let me repeat that...
If you waste an hour on a low-yield project or if you obsess on a detail for too long, you are setting yourself back.
Think Long-Term 80-20
When you first start out, SBI! is a linear track. There is one best way for any complex project and, just like any such project, it involves preparation.
In the case of building a "theme-based content site" as the core of your online business, preparation includes tasks like brainstorming, researching, molding the perfect niche and approach, and finally developing an optimal monetization plan.
Take a month or two if you have to. It's pure 95-95 work -- no shortcuts. But when you approach your business this way, you will have completed what few competitors do.
And that is where you gain your long-term 80-20.
When you choose well, the amount of time required to get results is less. It's like sailing with the wind at your back. And the results (converting traffic into higher $-per-visitor numbers) can be orders of magnitude greater.
As you move deeper and deeper into SBI! (beyond the Action Guide and into the HQs), the pathway becomes less linear, although the quality of DAY 1-5 work and the basic C T P M principles remain the driver.
One social media channel may work better for one SBIer, while another discovers that personal-social networking is incredibly powerful for her particular niche.
Whatever your particular set of "to-do's" may look like, the building of an online business has many tasks competing for your time. That list will always exceed the time available. You can't do everything, let alone do it to perfection, not even if you had 80 hours per week.
And that is where 80-20 thinking comes into play...
You must decide upon the 80-20 because there most definitely is one sub-set of tasks that will deliver the most benefit. It varies depending where you are with your business. And it's a definite transition point to recognize...
Changing Gears, from 95-95 to 80-20
When you first start SBI!, you have the benefit of focus. Nothing is optional or unimportant. All you have to do is take the Action Guide seriously and follow it.
But as you grow beyond the Action Guide, and as your snowballing traffic reaches 500 visitors per day, you are no longer working linearly (one task at a time, to the best of your ability).
Monetization becomes critical, and some people have a "thing" about making money. It's almost as if they feel they don't deserve to, or that it dirties the site. If that resonates at all with you, I won't try to change your feeling about it. Just recognize it and work through it because...
This is business!
If you don't let "making money" move up to the top of your list of things to do, you will be forever spending all your time creating content, doing social media, and on and on...
They all call you, and we humans tend to do what we like to do, not what is best for us.
You simply must learn to focus on what will get you to your income goal.
Before traffic builds, you will be focused on creating content: stand-out content. That's a 95-95 effort. Luckily, most people (on the Web as a whole) don't work hard enough on creating the best content possible.
The occasional 80-20 page, if one should just fly out of your keyboard, is fine. But generally, and for all your key pages, you want those pages to shine. Good information is not enough...
It must have flair, be engaging, usually illustrated with photographs (ideally original). Videos are easy nowadays, so use them where appropriate.
Having at least one "active" social media channel is now also a must. That will usually be Facebook. As much as Internet Marketers like to dismiss Facebook, all you have to do is go into any library, café, even senior homes...
They'll be using Facebook.
That said, there's nothing wrong with starting with Twitter, if you have the type of business that would best fit it.
Google+? I keep telling Nori to do an occasional post there, out of some superstition of mine that it may matter to Google. But there's no one there.
Facebook owns social, in general -- "general" being the operative word.
If your particular sub-niche of, say, photography uses G+, then that is where you'd head.
If you're after professionals, it's LinkedIn.
Highly visual niche? Instagram and/or Pinterest.
It's all in the social sections of the TNT HQ, but you should see where I'm heading...
Pick your first active social effort carefully. One channel will be the best 80-20 choice. It may seen intimidatingly overwhelming, but honestly...
It's fun, interactive, extends your reach and it sure beats the bad old days of link-building! And, as you build your following, it gives you a third strong way (the first two are your e-zine and RSS) to market your product directly to folks who are your biggest fans.
As you work your way through the Action Guide, 80-20 thinking should move you through content as a priority, then blending in the marketing of your content through social media, RSS, etc.
C T P M is better than ever with the increasing number of ways to reach people.
You'll assess more and more options (as opposed to "musts") as you move into the HQs. Read carefully and make 80-20 choices.
If you've done your work in the first 5 DAYs well, you can't help but build traffic. And then?...
As traffic grows from 100 to 200 and upwards, you want to start monetizing both it and the followings that you have been growing. So...
Your 80-20 thinking prioritizes Monetization to the top.
And yet, only a few people are actively involved in the "Make It!" thread...
You don't need to read it all at once, just the first parts about getting an idea. That's what you need to do first...
Get an idea! A good one!
Your own product, more than any other way to monetize, is where the biggest money is.
For those who are over 100 visitors per day and growing...
• Review your overall "to do" list.
• If you don't have an idea for your own product yet, allocate 2 hours per day to read the "getting an idea" sections in Make It!.
• While reading the "Make It" series, make a "to do" list of brainstorming techniques. Allocate 1 hour per day to doing them until an excellent idea comes.
• Spend an hour daily in the MHQ, too. There are more than 10 ways to skin the monetization cat. Do not skim. Apply each strategy to a thumbnail sketch of your typical visitor.
Seriously, no goofing around. Do it. It takes a while to develop even a simple product of your own, so start allocating some time to it. Ditto for the other models.
If your goal is tied to income, it's silly not to work on the best money-making strategy.
Once an idea for a product comes, and/or you decide upon some other strong way to generate income, the "to do" list grows. Since this is the 80-20, you reduce the time for other tasks.
When a project is a "go" (i.e., it passes all your due diligence), moving your own product ahead may take up all of some days.
So be it.
Your site can handle a few days of stasis. Other days, when your "monetization to do" list is waiting for replies, etc., move to the next most important (non-monetization) item.
Using 80-20 to Manage Your "To Do" List
Continuing with more advanced SBIers, you must have a prioritized list of "to do" items. You should never wake up with a "what do I feel like doing today" mindset.
If you don't have a list, skim the AG's checklist of things to do and start copying-and-pasting the ones that matter to you into a list. Augment with ideas from the TNT HQ and MHQ. Then...
Move the most important 80-20 item to the top. For more advanced SBIers, it's going to be monetization.
Just one item goes into your "80." I know you'll want to put more than one, but basically you need to spend as much time as you need on it until there's nothing left to do.
Then you can move down.
If you are monetizing passively (we advise active, though), analyze your AdSense income to figure out if it's worth the real estate you give to it. If it's decent, read the articles on how to maximize it -- for now, until you can replace it with something better, which should then become the priority.
One item as "the 80" focuses the mind and your actions.
Naturally, there will be "daily-maintenance" tasks that do much to move you to your goal. For example, using Monitor It! to follow RSS feeds of your niche will give you opportunities to reach out to influencers. That's 15 minutes per day, so I'm not saying to drop that...
But do it last. Otherwise, 15 minutes has a funny way of becoming 2 hours when reading articles and reaching out. So resist the urge to follow every link from every article. And, when looking for chances to reach out to an influencer, you have the non-time to be selective and wait for an excellent opening.
Monitoring feeds provides excellent fodder for Twitter material. Something is bound to spark a thought, sometimes as simple as sharing an outstanding article.
You can do one heck of a lot with the "20" part of 80-20 if you plan well! For example...
• Creating content, when you already have 200 solid pages, drops down the list. Do it when all the other balls are "in the air" (i.e., you're waiting for answers from people). Write one page per week, or every two weeks, or even none for a month... your site is evergreen and can stand it for a while.
• Some work, like active social, is on a schedule -- perhaps 20 minutes every second day for a great Facebook post (wait for a super seed to stimulate that).
•Cut email down. Turn off that blasted automatic ping every time mail comes in. Then check only once per day, twice max (with the second being the last thing you do).
For more advanced SBIers, I hope that gives you some ideas (it's certainly not meant to cover everything) on how to "80-20" your list of things to do, with the "BIG M" on the top. So...
What moves you the most toward your goal?
It's going to be monetization...
Even if you feel like you are back to the first 5 DAYs, doing a lot of researching and thinking with little results to see yet, the breakthrough idea for a strong product will send you flying toward your goal!
For Those Starting Out
Let's take a look at five of the big time-allocating decisions. It's much simpler...
I've never thought about it in the following terms before, but they are all 95-95 tasks. There is nothing 80-20 about them in the short-term. But doing them yields those juicy, long-term 80-20 results.
We talked about 95-95 earlier...
Not doing them will speed you up now, but you're going to lose a heck of a lot of time in the future -- in that you'll be working harder for less progress toward your goal, and that's for as long as you're trying to build your business!
They're 95-95 short-term, but they're 80-20 when considered in the long term. Investing time here pays off!
I hope no one has skipped these or done them sub-optimally (although I know from our log files and database records that some do!). For those just starting, none of these are optional (very little in the first 5 DAYs is). Let's review examples...
1) Niche-and-keyword brainstorming and research
Follow the process laid out in the Action Guide well, building out a solid MKL, exploring and expanding upon possible new "side- or sub-niches" that appear, and finally architecting your site.
Some just do a one-time vertical-brainstorm of the Site Concept Keyword. That's better than nothing, but rigidly pre-deciding your Site Concept beforehand eliminates "what could have been" (i.e., probably something much stronger).
Most non-SBIers just pick a domain name and get to the "real work of site-building." Quite a few of the "smarter ones" will use a free tool to do a single vertical brainstorm to get going.
But they're assuming that they start with the perfect concept (not likely). In the rush to get a list of in-demand topics, they're unaware that building a site is not the "real work"...
You're building a business. That is "the job!"
And a good business requires a strong foundation, an original one, one that has been exhaustively explored. You might end up with your original idea after all that work, but we know for a fact that many improve the concept substantially, and some change it completely! So...
Invest in that strong foundation. We saw the proof of this value first-hand many years ago...
When we launched the first version of Brainstorm It!, hundreds of SBIers asked to change their domain names! They had discovered better niches or sub-niches, or smart twists of their niches, etc. Yes...
Complete start-overs. But at least they realized it...
Imagine how many solopreneurs are out there, right now, doing the same thing. They're painting themselves into low-potential corners, and don't even know it. The fast start is usually a false start, but they won't realize this 20-80 decision for a long time.
But when you make the best choice possible, optimizing to the perfect niche makes it all so much easier and more lucrative for everything that follows. It's slower in the short-term, but it's truly 80-20 in the long run.
Also, think about the originality...
If you just do a single vertical-brainstorm and then get going, you're doing what so many others are doing. You picked "the obvious" and then brainstormed the same set of keywords.
Push beyond to find something new, some new way to spin, etc. Instead of "yet one more site about ________," you'll have turned it into something different and interesting.
Do something that others are not. Find the unique sub-niche or twist. Put your voice into it!
Again, although it feels like you're losing time here, pushing this to the max until you find a really great approach is long-term 80-20.
A successful business does not happen overnight. Maxing out your effort now will yield time savings and higher income. Compared to "get started fast," it's the real 80-20 way to start.
2) Picking a domain name
Do you just register the domain that was in your mind when you purchased SBI! (because "I know what I want to do")... or do you agonize over finding the perfect domain, based on your research and following the SBI! set of recommendations for the perfect domain?
Believe me, getting that right yields huge "time" and "goal" rewards down the road. A longer, more generic domain name is at a disadvantage to a shorter, more memorable and brandable name that still hints at what you're about.
Think of names like "LinkedIn" or "Facebook" or "Twitter." "Google," a totally idiosyncratic name, is a bit much for a solopreneur to establish. "ShortSnips" may be a more memorable name than "Twitter" for us, but "Twitter" still connotes what's happening and delivers cool brand-ability.
If it takes you days to come up with the perfect name, if you have to read books on naming products to learn even more, that's fine. The long-term makes the extra work you do now pay off in 80-20 spades... forever.
Sure, you fall behind your competitors. (Heck, look at how many web hosts ask you to enter your domain name as you sign up with them!) But remember... good things happen later if you do everything correctly now.
So, happy tortoise, let the hares run ahead from the start line. It's you who gets more results with less work over the long haul. It's the tortoise who crosses the finish line first, faster and mightier.
3) HTML or BB2?
Of course, sometimes the faster way is also the better way...
But that small advantage has no major enduring value. The real value is in your body of work, not your coding. This is one of those skills that you "hire" as needed, not learn. For example...
If you had an unshakeable faith that some special feature was an absolute must, you could hire a freelancer to insert a special feature into a Raw HTML Block in BlockBuilder.
Taking it a step further...
What tool you use to create your site (WordPress, BB2, HTML with your own editor) will not be a determining factor in the success of your business. The 80-20 of successful businesses, online or off, is always about nailing the basics...
1. strong concept (niche selection and monetization mix)
2. excellent execution of the basics (content, social, monetize).
BB2 is more than "good enough" to build a site that generates traffic, PREsells and monetizes. And there's more to it than that. The website used to be "the all," but now it's "the core," around which everything else that you do feeds into.
So unless you're already strong in HTML, learning this skill is a 20-80 use of your precious time, not just for the first months that it will take, but with the ongoing "keeping up" of it all.
4) Choice of RSS feeds
Do you follow RSS feeds that are related to your niche, or those that are all about Internet Marketing (and SEO and graphic design and web technologies, etc.)?
Tracking feeds that are about your niche keeps you right on the edge of what's going on, provides options to reach out to influencers, etc. It's relevant!
Meanwhile, Internet-biz-related feeds are not your niche. Following them makes as much sense as the owner of an offline "luxury pet hotel" subscribing to Harvard Business School publications.
And that's especially true here since we already cover those for you, so you won't miss anything important. Given your limited time, keeping up with your own niche is part of the 80-20 business-building SBI! process.
Trust me on this...
There is nothing happening at this very moment that will make a substantial difference to your business outcome. If there is, we'll let you know once we're sure that it will "stick."
I can't deny that you may pick up a little tip here or there that we may not pass along, since we try to minimize what we cover to the most important material. But the benefits of that, compared to the work required, and especially when compared to using that time to "nail the basics"?...
It's just not worth it, a classic example of 20-80.
Please remember: it's all about sucking the very most out of every minute you dedicate to building your business. Staying on the cutting edge of your niche, following your niche's thought leaders, interacting with influencers -- that is where the 80-20 is.
Monitoring your niche is a must. It takes 15 minutes per day, with massive benefits (ideas for new content, using it for personal-social, embedding yourself into your niche).
Start with Monitor It! and then fine-tune, adding new blogs that are phenomenal (you'll discover them through your "starting" feed that Monitor It! delivers) and deleting feeds that waste your time.
Did you take DAY 4 seriously when you got there, researching your monetization options and making a plan?
Or did you read it only once ("skimmed"?), saying to yourself that you'll "figure out the monetization part later?"
Or, worst of all, did you skip it completely in your rush to "get started." I know how much you want to write that first page, but if you're thinking correctly...
You have already got off to a great start with DAYs 2 and 3. Don't do it half-way and skim DAY 4.
Yes, monetizing is a way off. That's why it's the least read/watched of the first 5 DAYs. But it's the most important in the long run. Monetization, after all, is the goal.
So it's vital to do it now, and to do it well. Money (and the making of it) must be on your brain! Soaking your brain with the various options will pay surprising dividends.
Do not underestimate the incredible power of the subconscious. Feed it!
For those just starting, I hope the message is loud and clear. If your brain has "money" seared into it, if you're measuring everything you do against your goals (and if you're thinking longer term than "must get to DAY 6 now," you're going to develop and execute much higher-paying money-making models than AdSense.
Think "money." This is business, after all.
We designed SBI! so that you get every single second's worth out of the time that you're able to put into it. It's why we suggest "blinders." There's more than enough to keep you optimally focused.
The first 5 DAYs are pure "long-term 80-20"... if you nail the major 95-95 tasks first. While others whip out pages and blog posts, you're falling behind.
But after that, the wind is at your back and in the face of the competition.
You're pouring your efforts into another brilliant/different web page, an engaging Facebook post that grabs engagement, and finally developing the first product of your very own.
Investing your hours wisely in the early DAYs may seem too "tortoise-y" at first. Few non-SBIers do all that hard work. Why?...
1. They only know small bits of some of the process (not the total process).
2. They lack the coordinated set of high-quality tools, or can't afford them.
3. The "fast track to creating content now" is irresistible.
Some conclude that "this online biz stuff is impossible" when, in fact, they've made fundamental errors when it counted.
So "doing it" (where "it" is the Action Guide) gives you a strong starting advantage, even though the hare does take off. All you have to decide is to do one thing...
Follow the Action Guide
We live in an increasingly short-term-thinking, impatient society. But it's still the prepared tortoise who wins the race to the finishing line of a profitable online business.
The Action Guide will not be as effective if the correct mindset is not present. You should approach SBI! as a "time miser"...
• Think of each hour of your time as a $100 bill -- this will help you invest it rather than spend it. And...
• Focus on the goal (your income target). Be obsessed about it!
When time and goal are always in mind, you'll be focusing on your business like few solopreneurs do.
Combine the long-term 80-20 results of the best MKL possible, a strikingly brandable domain name, regular input from (and interaction with) the sharpest minds in your niche, strong and active social media that engages, and a solid and (hopefully) "active" monetization plan that is always top-of-mind...
You will stand out!
And that is a remarkable thing. Only a couple do that in any solopreneur-winnable niche.
Few people or companies do what you do, which is what makes it as doable as ever (perhaps more so, thanks to social media).
Yes, it's work. But it's time that's used optimally. Despite that slow start, you will become more accomplished and see superior results, with less time.
In short, by starting out 95-95 and evolving into intelligent 80-20 management of your time... you will stand out.
Put yourself into the 95th+ percentile.
You may not be convinced that you have that degree of success in you. But why not? You have the right mindset, approach and tools. You work with a subject that you know and love.
Of course, you need to play to your strengths. For example, I've stood out in toys, playing cards in Las Vegas, niche investment software, Internet marketing books, and then SBI!...
But you won't find me starting up a wilderness tour business!
All of my decisions started with the optimal use of limited time, applied to what I knew well, whatever skill that I happened to have. I always had a goal and moved towards it.
That is the critical foundation upon which you invest time and execute.
Execute with conviction and confidence. Grind until the outcome has no choice but to deliver your goal.
Sadly for society, but happily for you...
Fewer and fewer want to do the work that it takes. Consciously or not, they take the fast track. "Shortcutting work" brings us all the way back to the concept that has been part of SBI! forever...
It's not work if you love what you're doing.
Stand out with a growing profitable business that was built on the 80-20 foundation of good choices and optimally allocated time, one that is on its way to meeting your goal.
Storyboard... The Best Way to Build a Page
The best and quickest way to build or edit a page is to first lay it all out in your text editor or a word document, like a "storyboard," so that you know exactly what you want your page to say and look like.
An "outline" template keeps you organized and lets you see how your page is shaping up as you storyboard it -- and that is the key to saving time.
Make a duplicate of this file and complete fully.
Before starting the page, make a list of graphics that I'll
use on this page. Upload new ones now.
IMAGES THAT WILL BE ON THIS PAGE
List all graphics for this page. As I "use" each one from
the list in the blocks below, remove from this list until
the list is gone. This reminds me of how my story and the
pictures will all fit together, ahead of time.
Next, let's get started with the Page Information...
KEYWORD: (Specific Keyword alone is sufficient)
(check Master Keyword List for Specific Keyword)
NAVBAR BUTTON NAME -- TIER 2 (Or NO BUTTON -- TIER 3):
=========== START PAGE ITSELF ===========
Now, complete the rest of this template, storyboarding
everything here. When finished, remember to check spelling.
PREVIEW IT!. Tweak as needed.
Then ANALYZE IT!. Tweak as needed.
Then BUILD IT!.
TYPE: HEADLINE (First block is always the headline)
=========== BODY OF PAGE ===========
**** Reduce or add # of Blocks as required ****
=========== ENDING OF PAGE ===========
TYPE: TEXT, for link to the Teaser for more info
TYPE: RAW HTML, for BREADCRUMB LINK(S) to home page
(and TIER 2 page, if applicable)