I spent the weekend at Embassy Suites in Grapevine, a suburb of Dallas known for its wineries and adorable main street shopping. I didn’t see any of that though, because I was there on a mission to learn as much as possible in two days at the Blog Elevated Conference. I barely left the hotel, which was fine because everything I needed was right there. We even got a code at check-in to use at the vending machines. We entered the code and then got anything we wanted. It was like Christmas and a candy store all rolled into one. If anyone asks, we were NOT the ones who cleaned that thing out…around midnight on Saturday…definitely not us….
That mission to learn (and eat as many Doritos as humanly possible) was a success. Every session had insight into either technical, business or motivational mindsets necessary to succeed in any business. These tips are so applicable to any industry, and some of them are great reminders even in your personal life. The following are my biggest takeaways from the conference and are the top 10 things I learned that would apply to any business
1. Start now. Don’t wait until you have a guarantee of success to try for something. Don’t wait until you’ve thought through every detail and planned for every situation. Just start. Once I made the decision to do a blog, I had the site up and running and was posting within a month. I knew that if I waited it wouldn’t happen, so I jumped in head first. I’ve worked hard since then to figure everything out, but if I’d waited to write my first post until I knew everything, I wouldn’t be a blogger today. I’d be someone who wishes they’d started a blog. Which would you rather be?
2. Invest in yourself. Consider yourself a brand. When a company is marketing its brand, it allocates a budget to the campaign. Show that you have confidence in what you’re doing by investing your time and money to grow. After that long weekend, all I wanted to do tonight was crawl in bed early. The better decision was to leverage the energy of the conference and start putting some of the tips into use. I’ve been working on multiple projects for the past 5 hours, making this a sixteen hour day when you add in the hours at my job. I’m okay with giving that time though, because you get out of it what you put in.
3. Know your audience. My blog is not for me. It feels like it should be because it’s about my life and interests, but it’s not. It’s for you, the reader. In business, you’re lucky if you get to work at a job you love. But no matter how much you love it, at the end of the day, you are working to deliver a product to a consumer. And the consumer is only buying if you’re selling something they want or need. The best way to know what your audience wants is to know who your audience is.
4. Consistency is key. To build trust with your audience (or consumer) you have to deliver what you say you will. Sometimes, without you saying anything, a customer has expectations of what you’ll deliver based on what you’ve done in the past. Make sure you’re delivering what you say you will and when. I made the decision that I want to post every Tuesday and Friday morning. That’s my plan going forward, because I want to build a reliability on par with the professionalism I want this blog to exhibit. I owe it to my readers to post regularly, so you have something new when you check back with me.
5. Don’t compare. Your blog or business is unique from everyone else’s in content and point of view, so why are you comparing your numbers and metrics? Be you and don’t worry about what everyone else is doing. I heard something on the She Percolates podcast this week that is so relevant at all junctures in your life. To paraphrase, they say don’t compare your beginning to someone else’s middle or end. You have to start somewhere. Put in the work now and put on your blinders. Eventually people will look to you as a source of inspiration and experience.
6. Stay current, or even better, stay two steps ahead. Business is fluid. The only thing you can rely on is that conditions will change. Be knowledgeable about your industry and never stop learning. Any certified professional will tell you that they have to accumulate so many hours each year of continuing education credit to keep their certification. Follow their lead. Educate yourself on trends and look to where your business will be in five years. Try to beat it there instead of chasing after it.
7. You don’t need 100 if you can get the 10 who are buying. I just took a break to see how many likes I got on my last Facebook post (13). A number that low will keep me clicking back to look for updates and have me wondering what I did wrong. While it is important for a business to understand how its content is engaging the audience, these days we place a lot of value in collecting likes and shares and public buy-in to what we’re doing. Just keep in mind that it’s better to cultivate a relationship with 10 customers who are buying than with 100 who give you a like and go on with their day. A ‘like’ won’t pay the bills, and the quantity of them has nothing to do with your worth as a business or as a person.
8. Embrace the silence. Do you ever just turn everything off? No music, no television, no audio books, podcasts, nothing? I used to think I was a brilliant multi-tasker. I would pull all-nighters in college with the t.v. going while I cleaned my house. Yeah, I was tired in my exam the next day, but look how much I accomplished! In the very recent past, I made the choice one day to just turn it all off and concentrate only on what I was doing. I finished in half the time it would’ve normally taken me. And I had all these ideas for making it better and ideas for new things to write about. That was the moment when I realized that t.v. is sucking all the creativity out of me. I used to turn it on as soon as I got home every day, so I would have
mind-numbing background noise in the house. Now I only watch about 2 nights a week, and only for an hour or 2 on those nights. It’s made a HUGE difference in my productivity and the quality of my output. Learn to live in the silence. You will be better for it.
9. You can’t do it all. Identify the things in your business or life that take the most time and add the least amount of value. On a personal level for me that might be keeping my house clean. While a clean house adds a lot of value to my life (and sanity), I have a limited number of hours at home every week that could be better used for other things. On my site I’ve spent a lot of time learning how to do different things (amateur hour web design), because I wanted to do everything myself, from start to finish. I probably would’ve served myself better if I’d hired someone to set up my webpage so I could focus on creating the content. Setting clear boundaries and priorities will help you identify which areas need to be outsourced.
10. You’re not alone – find a community. If you’re struggling with something, someone else is too. Find a community of people who understand what you do, and can help you with advice or tips or encouragement. There is value in human capital – tap into that whenever you can.
Go check out the Blog Elevated site for more info about the weekend and the speaker bios.
Did I miss anything? Let me know what your best business advice is, blogging or otherwise, in the comments below.
Want to see what else I worked on tonight? Go check out these other sights for a preview of changes to come on my site:
Also go follow me on Instagram if you don’t already. I post exclusive content there that you generally won’t see here or on Facebook.