After getting admission into a Graduate Business Program at TRSM at Ryerson University in Toronto, ON, Canada, on a $20,000 scholarship, I started blogging about my experiences in B-School at www.Gerry.in. It was a candid, no holds barred account. I had no hidden agenda, and no bias.
It was pure reporting of events of the MBA life. The strange phenomenon repeated. More emails from total strangers from all over the world interested in the topics on my blog! I wrote back to every single e-mail I received, and answered the phone calls. There were many interesting conversations during these to-and-fro e-mail exchanges. I learnt something new every time.
I improved my blogging techniques. I learned how to embed images and videos into the posts. I tried to be honest, and cited the sources every time. Sometimes, I summarized articles in bullet points and asked the readers to visit the original links to read the complete articles.
The traffic increased. I started out by getting a few hits a day, and then, a few hundreds, and finally, more than a thousand hits a day! I put a spot in the top right corner for paid advertisement. No one contacted me. When I started a business myself, I used that spot to advertise my own business venture! I just crossed 123,000 total views, and 35,000 views per month in December 2012! You can view the traffic numbers by clicking on link for the screenshot image of the analytics, below.
Coming from a non-business background, I did learn plenty of new stuff in business school. Blogging taught or reminded me of some principles that I could see scattered in my numerous textbooks. I have listed the lessons learned that are transferable to running businesses, followed by brief explanations.
• Solve a Problem/Fulfill a Need: Understand the pain. Offer solutions, ask meaningful questions, or start useful discussions.
• Ownership: You have ownership of your blog and your business. (When you work for others, you own nothing, unless you have shares in the company employed -- in which case, you only own a small piece).
• Revenue Inflow: Your blogs gets traffic even when you sleep. The business you own can make you money while you sleep. If employed, you are only paid for the hours worked.
• The Start May be Slow: A new blog gets very little hits in the beginning. A business may get very little attention or interest, in the beginning.
• Passion is Important: Write about what you are passionate about, and what you are knowledgeable about. Starting a business in an area that you stirs your passion may help you succeed.
• Content is King: You cannot fool everyone all the time with bad quality products.
• Offer Value-tainment / Info-tainment: Combine value with entertainment, or information with entertainment. People love humour.
• Offer Utility: People come to you because what you offer is worth their time (or money, in case of businesses). But if it is something that can be put to everyday use, it will have more benefit to user
• Make it Easy for People to Find You: Having a domain name linked to your blog address helps people find you, and for you to market it to others.
• Go Lean With Resources: Avoid wastage of space in your post with irrelevant content.
• Patience is Key: Do not give up easily. Expect a time lag. Things may work out eventually, even if not initially.
• Be Regular: Keep at it day after day. Users expect it from you.
• Monitor the Metrics in all Departments: Check user interest and blog performance.
• Build on Your Strengths: With time, the analytics will show you what works and what does not. Give people what they want.
• You Cannot Please Everybody: Not everyone will like what you write about. You will get love-mail and hate mail from readers. Use criticism to improve your product.
• Reply to User Feedback: Users are not a nuisance. They are responsible for your success. Monitor user comments, and reply to them.
• Stakeholder Engagement: Google these two words. Read all about it. Apply it sincerely. You are welcome :)
• Some People Will Waste Your Time: You will get spam messages. You have to learn to filter the necessary from the necessary.
• Do Not Get High On the Flattery: Spam messages will praise you, but mean nothing.
• Learn to Talk and Write in Bullet Points: Being brief and concise helps readers enjoy what really matters. I read articles where you have to search the whole body for the core. It is necessary for you communicate with short and specific points, and make your client do so as well.
• Understand Low Attention Span of Users: Keeping the attention of readers is not easy. There is a tendency to jump. So keep the product concentrated and delicious.
• One Day, it Takes Off: It will happen with time. There will be a sudden spurt in traffic.
• Look for Trigger Points: There are specific points that will trigger sudden spurt or growth. Look for them. Develop them further. Repeat them for better results.
• Learn by Observing Others: Monkey see, monkey do. See what makes others click and learn.
• Get Help if Necessary: There are experts or consultants in every field to help you. For example, SEO Gurus can help build your traffic. Consultants can build your business.
• Practice STP: Segmentation, Targeting, and Positioning. Enough said.
• Project Confidence: Write with authority, by being good at what you write. A pilot does not take advice from passengers to fly a plane.
• Develop (Professional) Networks: A blog with links to other blogs gets more traffic.
• User Loyalty is Not Guaranteed: You cannot control the tastes of the crowd (mostly)
• Not all Lines Succeed: I have multiple blogs. Some are disasters (traffic wise)
• Use Supplements: Images, videos, links, polls, and so on add value
• Use Leverage: Get resources to work for you. Promote your blog on other blogs, via your social media accounts like Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, StumbleUpon, Digg, Reddit, and so on. Even HuffPost :)
• Adapt to Fame and Having Fans / Followers: Getting used to sudden attention (even if in a small dose) can be difficult! Keep the peace by not getting obsessed, and by changing your activities.
• Principles Versus Profits Conflict: Should you do good, do well, or do both? Blog about high demand, popular topics, or about new topics, even if not in demand. I used to have Google Adsense links at one time, but removed it.
• Enjoy the Fruits of Labor: Enjoy the success, enjoy the process, and enjoy the interaction with stakeholders.
Many small business owners do not have training in business management, or understanding of business principles and processes. A plenty of wastage and inefficiency can be corrected in organizations. The pointers above are not exhaustive, but applying some of them may help. Cheers!
Follow Dr. Gerry Som on Twitter: www.twitter.com/gerrysom