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25 Mar 2010

Do You Really Know What You’re Doing?

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the truth about bloggingChris Brogan’s post about redrawing lines really got me thinking…not so much about the time I spend interacting with people, but the time I spend working on my business.

I’ve thought a lot about the preconceived notions I have about what I must do as a platformer…things that everyone says to do even though they might not know why…other than because someone told them to and they’re just repeating it.

Because I’m involved in a lot of JV projects (3 biggies at the moment), I’ve been stretched for time. But the funny thing is that it’s not the actual product work that keeps me busy, but the small stuff…like:

  • Accounting
  • Customer Service
  • Shopping Cart Maintenance
  • Scheduling
  • Posting to my blog (not writing, but posting)
  • Finding Images
  • Commenting
  • Responding to emails
  • etc

It’s those little 30 second – 5 minute tasks that knock me out of my rhythm and/or weigh heavily on me when I put them off. So I’m looking to fix that by hiring a VA (finally).

Questioning the Status Quo

But those aren’t the things that I’ve been questioning…they’re essential tasks and they have to be done by someone.

However, there are a lot of tasks that take my time that I’m not so sure I need to be doing. These are the kinds of tasks that people say you should be doing…so much so that you’re considered a fool if you don’t.

These are the tasks that I’ve been analyzing as I wonder if we’ve stopped measuring results and instead measure how well we follow the rules.

For example:

Blog commenting:

There was a time when blog commenting worked very well, but I’m not so sure anymore. Do you comment because you want something in return or because you had something to say?

Does anyone really pay attention to commenters outside of their own blog?

When was the last time you bought a product from someone that you found via blog comments?

Does it really matter if blog comments are disabled?

Does it turn you away…really? Does it matter to you that I respond to comments, or is it nice but not necessary/

What about guest posts?

How many bloggers have you found via a guest post on a popular blog? Do you subscribe to them? Have you purchased anything from them?

Post frequency…

I know a few bloggers that only post weekly, and they’re doing just fine.

Some bloggers post 1,000 word posts, while others post 200 word posts.

Chris Brogan posts every day…does that influence you at all?

What would happen if someone quit posting on a blog and instead just focused on making really great stuff.

Would you still buy a product from someone that didn’t blog? What if they only posted weekly, bi-weekly, monthly?

Free ebooks

Do you really read all of those free ebooks that people give away?

Have you read mine? How many ebooks do you have sitting on your hard drive that haven’t been touched?

Are we doing these things because they work, or because we think we have to? Are we experimenting and testing new practices, or are we stuck in what used to work?

Is there anyone innovating? Will they still be telling us to do this stuff 10 years from now, or will there be new lists of essential tasks?

The point that I’m trying to make is that it’s foolish to give advice unless you’ve found (and measured) something to work for you, just as it’s foolish to accept advice without verifying it over time.

I can’t help but wonder what would happen if I stopped every practice, save creating great products.

No commenting…just writing books.

No guest posts…just creating products.

No blog posts…just marketing my stuff.

If something is great, then it’s going to sell. Someone will find it and light a match underneath it.

If something is shitty, then no amount of blogging is going to help.

A blog can be a great marketing tool, but I’m not so sure all of your effort should be focused on driving traffic to your blog.

Millions are made every day without blogs.

Products sell, and good products sell more…

Here’s my thought…blogs are a distraction from the real work, which is making a product and selling that product.

What do you think?

By the way, if you want more talk like this, buy Claiming Your Destiny for 10 bucks and join the members area.

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  • http://www.petershallard.com/ Peter Shallard

    Brave post Nathan,

    I think you could be right – or at least have a point. Admitting that is unsettling for me though, since I've just recently started focusing on blogging (and less and less on my offline business).

    I'd want to be pretty damn sure that my product, if I was focusing on it 100%, was pretty damn remarkable. In fact, it better be the new sliced bread.

    But only one idea out of a million turns into this kind of empire… the rest require a platform for people to spread the word.

    That doesn't make the other 999,999 ideas shitty, but they're just not as revolutionary.

    Whenever a status quo is created, so is an opportunity for a revolutionary individual to break it.

    All the things you list (commenting, post frequency etc) have become a blogosphere status quo.

    Someone willing to cut through that, with something totally new and fresh… will win big.

    Then, everyone will do what they did and a new status quo will emerge.

    The question is – do you (or anyone else reading this) have what it takes to be the revolutionary that the blogosphere status quo is waiting for.

    - Peter Shallard
    The shrink for entrepreneurs

    PS This is by far the most insightful post I've read in months. Seriously.

  • http://www.babystepstofluency.com/ Fiona Verschoor

    I know that I spend a shit ton of time doing the general admin stuff when I could be making products or whatever… necessary evil really. Though if you need a VA… wire me some money and I'd be interested. :)

  • http://jimijones.com/ Jimi Jones

    Interesting post with many points I have thought about lately. I've decided to revamp my daily routine to allow more time for some critical projects, otherwise it's the same cycle of tasks which begin to feel like a rut after awhile.

    So I will do less of some things in order to do more of what I really want to get accomplished, not because anyone told me to do this, but because I have a burning desire for something different.

    As for you, I think you could get away with not posting and commenting as much because of the brand you have established. You could continue with product creation projects and the like without loosing your base, just my opinion. But this is something that one has to work toward, build some cred and have some accomplishments in order to pull it off.

    This post is powerful, man.

  • http://website-in-a-weekend.net/ Dave Doolin

    Well, this is just growth, that's all.

    There is a time to comment, a time to guest post, a time to tweet, and all those times pass as we outgrow the need. Situations change. Everyone says “Images” but they are a hassle, and I don't see that it affects my traffic one way or another.

    Commenting, the ugly truth (and Dave Navarro speaks it): some blogs yield customers, some don't. Know the difference.

    I bought Henri's Article Marketing package this morning. Found him via guest posting somewhere I'm sure, probably Srini's site. I bought because he is a legitimate 5 figure blogger and he talks sense.

    I read a lot. But I also read very fast. Like, really, really fast with pretty decent retention.

    Here's my hunch, Nathan: you are at a point where you don't have to write or comment daily. You might get away with weekly or even biweekly at this point, until you're ready to start another launch cycle. Then (I suspect) you might find it worth your while to jump back in the fray.

  • Mike Korner

    I sense you questioning a lot of things in this post Nathan. I'm in the process of launching an online business and I've been moving slower than some people advise because because I've taken time to watch and learn from smart people like yourself so that my eyes are wide open when I launch. What I've observed is that life online is hard when you want to become a small giant. I know that the 24 hour per day barrier will rear its head sooner than later so I have to be prepared to retain the truly vital things for me while letting my eventual virtual team handle the rest. Ultimately, it is a great problem to have but it is a problem that has to be dealt with.

    Regarding a few of your questions . . .
    - Yes it matters to me that you respond to comments. We have enough people just preaching in the world. Intelligent conversation is always appreciated. I guess the reverse question is whether it matters to you if we comment. I don't like blogs with closed comments.
    - I have found several bloggers via their guest posts. I often subscribe, and I have definitely purchased from them.
    - I read a LOT of ebooks, free and not. I haven't read all of the ebooks I have on my hard drive yet, and this includes a couple that I paid for haven't gotten to yet. I have read your “10Ways” ebook though (and found it to be very good).

    For what it's worth, I think blogs, free ebooks, and other free things are very important marketing tools. When I'm looking for an expert to learn from or work with, an ebook helps me assess their credibility, thought leadership, and persona. There are a lot of roles that are commodities today. Thought leadership and personality are ways to differentiate.

    Posting every day is not required though. Honestly, I get so much email and RSS traffic that I can't keep up. It's funny that right now I'm at the point where I appreciate the bloggers that post once a week far more than the ones that post every day.

    Just my two cents worth.

  • http://josephratliff.com JosephRatliff

    When blogs started…it was because people liked expressing thoughts on the web(log)…

    Then, this little thing called Adsense came around…and people said “Man! I can make money with this thing”…which led to garbage templates etc… but that's another story…

    Then, someone thought “Cool! I could use these in my marketing, even make money from a blog!”… but by that time, other people were just blogging to blog, and didn't like it that someone could make money from a blog so…

    The “rules” started being made.

    My historical account has a TON of holes in it, and may not be all correct, but hopefully anyone who reads this comment can take this away from it:

    Until there are letters in front of these supposed “rules” that make them laws (in WA State that would be R.C.W.) … then you make the rules for your blog.

    You will attract the readers you design it to attract…you can comment, or not comment…you can sell on your blog, or not sell on your blog…write when you want to, etc…etc…

    Do you see the common theme here? You.

    It's your blog, it's a reflection of whatever you want to use it for, and the objectives you want to achieve. If that's to engage people in conversation, cool…if it's to market your business, product, or services…cool too.

    As long as you do it legally, morally, and ethically…no one except you sets the parameters you blog by.

    Rules? What Rules? :) (Nathan, you know what I mean…)

  • http://happyandblue2.ca Happy and Blue 2

    I stop reading blogs if the comments are disabled. Especially if the person keeps asking a question with the post. That really, really annoys me.

    I have no desire to do guest posts nor do I read them very often.

    I read the ebooks I download and I have bought products from bloggers I read.

    Personally I've never been good at being told what to do and I doubt you are either.
    My choice is to do what I think is right for me.

    It's fine to listen to other ideas but you have to decide what works for you and what makes you happy.
    The rest of it needs to be dropped or given to someone else to do..

    Most if not all great people did something that was outside of the norm. They forged their own path while others followed conventional wisdom..

  • http://www.pursuitofchange.com/ Mike Tiojanco

    I agree with many of the above commenters. I think you're at a place in your business where you've built both an audience and authority.

    That's not to say you can get by with putting out crap – especially in the products that you're charging for. It just means you're at the point where you *can* afford to focus on the real revenue generating activities.

    As far as the responses to comments – I think I'd still respond to comments on your own blog. As long as you're using your blog as your platform, it's still where you engage with your audience and your customers. The new customers will probably still want the conversation with you before feeling comfortable purchasing from you.

    The other businesses may not need that, but I think nathanhangen.com still does. It's where you show you're a person and not just a business. A big reason I signed up for BBP was because it was run by people – not just an automated or video course.

  • http://www.pursuitofchange.com/ Mike Tiojanco

    Man – all that being said though – I just spent 10-15 minutes thinking through that response instead of writing for my blog. So maybe you win.

    (Yeah – I replied to my own comment.)

  • http://twitter.com/timzager/status/11075182671 Tim Zager

    RT @nhangen Do You Really Know What You're Doing? | Nathan Hangen http://bit.ly/ajXdvG

  • http://www.blackbeltguide.com/ Marc Winitz

    Very thought provoking Nathan, I appreciated this. The one that makes me laugh is the whole length of post argument which I find to be pretty silly There are reasons to do short and long posts, and it depends on what one wants out of the blog that drives length and ultimately frequency.

  • http://twitter.com/kevincumbria/status/11076135544 Kevin Tea

    RT @nhangen: Do you really know what you're doing? http://bit.ly/9hhyZY

  • http://topsy.com/trackback?url=http://nathanhangen.com/blog/do-you-really-know-what-youre-doing/ Tweets that mention Do You Really Know What You’re Doing? | Nathan Hangen — Topsy.com

    [...] This post was mentioned on Twitter by Fabeku Fatunmise, Kevin Tea, Nathan Hangen, Nathan Hangen, Jimi Jones and others. Jimi Jones said: @nhangen asks: Do You Really Know What You're Doing? | Nathan Hangen http://bit.ly/ajXdvG [...]

  • http://zemalf.com/ Antti Kokkonen

    Blog commenting = if you have something to say + “introducing yourself” to the blogger by saying something meaningful. Guest posting = capturing new audience, expanding your reach. Free eBooks/posts/video/podcast = lure for capturing leads + value for your subscribers.

    From these three, I'd choose guest posting over free giweaway, and free giveaway over blog commenting. I'd somehow connect free giweaway to the products you're selling.

    I agree that business is about making sales. First you have to be making sales, and then it's about making more sales. Blogging is part of the process, not the thing itself. No one is making money blogging, people are making money through sales, for which blogging can be part of.

    As for that business, since you have so much going on, I'm surprised it has taken you this long to hire a VA. With growth you have to find the balance… do you really need another JV project on top of what you have? Do you really need to start one more when you finish those that you have now?

  • http://www.notaproblog.com Jordan Cooper

    Nathan, you already know I feel the same way as you with many of these points.

    95% of the work is likely not the stuff that *really* earns you an income. It's the 5% you do with true brilliance that provides a heap of value to others.

    Brogan made a very valid argument recently that I totally agree with the mindset. Instead of replying to individual e-mails, comments, etc. – he would much rather write an entire blog post to address it. This way the reach of his reply would cover FAR more many people in public – and help many more than just the one person who contacted him.

    Say what you want about “personal touch”, but I tend to feel the exact same way. Sitting down for 30 minutes typing up a reply to someone, I always think to myself “it seems like such a waste this reply & information is only going to one person”.

  • http://www.functionality.net/ Brent

    Way to shake it up. Coming from the eCommerce world all this blogging stuff is kind of strange for me. It's nice to see someone questioning the status quo.. as you said.

    Even if it is just for 1 blog post.

  • http://twitter.com/mikecj/status/11084606036 Mike CJ

    Do You Really Know What You're Doing? | Nathan Hangen http://bit.ly/ajXdvG

  • http://www.mikeslife.org Mike CJ

    It's a moving feast – and something you need to pause and take stock of at regular intervals. You've hit that point and so has Chris.

    The fact is the requirements of our businesses change over time – as it does with any business. In the early days of our real estate business all the effort went into finding portfolio to sell. Then we reached a point where people were coming to us, so that effort simply stopped, and we were able to shift focus to the next thing.

  • http://twitter.com/notaproblog/status/11086873549 Jordan Cooper

    I like to question the status quo myself… @nhangen Do You Really Know What You're Doing? http://bit.ly/ajXdvG

  • http://web2andmore.net Kevin Tea

    Some time ago you published a series of posts that had me worried. They were very driven, very focused. It also seemed that they were dismissive of people that weren't on the same path. I may well have got that wrong about you as I know in the months that I have known you there is a deeper,collaborative and helpful guy, but that was the impression at the time.

    I thought to myself that this was amphetamine blogging, full speed ahead and I recall commenting that taking time out to chill and smell the flowers was important. Have you run into a brick wall?

    Blogs have many purposes, work at many levels and at different times depending where you are on your journey. For you your blog is a vehicle for your business. For me it's hobby-plus which is teaching me a lot and refining my ideas about another blog which could make me money. For me it is all pretty straightforward – I research, I write, I publish. Your business has a stack of different responsibilities that will tug at you – the blog is just another tug.

    I am not a Christian but I find this from Ecclesiastes particularly wise – sing along to the Byrds version if it helps you :-)

    To everything there is a season, and
    a time to every purpose under heaven:

    A time to be born, and
    a time to die;
    a time to plant, and
    a time to pluck up
    that which is planted;

    A time to kill, and
    a time to heal;
    a time to break down, and
    a time to build up;

    A time to weep, and
    a time to laugh;
    a time to mourn, and
    a time to dance;

    A time to cast away stones, and
    a time to gather stones together;
    a time to embrace, and
    a time to refrain from embracing;

    A time to get, and
    a time to lose;
    a time to keep, and
    a time to cast away;

    A time to rend, and
    a time to sow;
    a time to keep silence, and
    a time to speak;

    A time to love, and
    a time to hate;
    a time of war; and
    a time of peace.

  • http://twitter.com/skooloflife/status/11093126219 Srinivas Rao

    Do You Really Know What You're Doing? | Nathan Hangen http://bit.ly/ajXdvG

  • http://nathanhangen.com/blog Nathan Hangen

    Well Kevin, I am a very driven guy and honestly, my journey is for me and anyone else that wants to come along. I'm collaborative by nature, which is the reason I do JV's so often, but I'm not really in this business as a hobby, which is probably where our differences are.

    I'm not really at a brick wall at all, just looking to refine what it is we think we know about blogging in order to toss out the stuff that isn't necessary.

  • http://nathanhangen.com/blog Nathan Hangen

    Thanks Mike.

    I really didn't want this post to be about me and my struggles, because really although I'm doing some of my own re-evaluation, I'm just really wondering why we do the things we do and if they are really necessary.

    I've come to a point where I think that a great product trumps any amount of blogging. Just a theory, but who knows I might be willing to test that theory.

  • http://twitter.com/onbloggingwell/status/11093468266 On Blogging Well

    Do You Really Know What You’re Doing? by @nhangen | http://bit.ly/dh1hWq #business #blogging

  • http://nathanhangen.com/blog Nathan Hangen

    Well Brent, I'm big on questioning things because I think it's the only path to innovation. I'm also not looking to waste time doing things I don't need to do. Tim Ferriss had a lot of things right in the 4HWW.

    I respect blogging as a tool, but often wonder if it really matters as much as people think it does.

  • http://nathanhangen.com/blog Nathan Hangen

    That's a great point, and I can't remember where I saw something similar, but it's been a while ago. Still, I haven't implemented that, in part because I've tried to stick to a similar theme here and stay on point…but the idea has a lot of merit.

    I love replying to people and hanging out on Twitter and on other blogs…but at some point it's important to re-evaluate the effect of that activity.

    I keep looking at companies like 37 signals that blog but don't really focus on it. They offer a real service that works great and they make a ton of money…Jeff Bezos is a principle investor…etc. They're doing just fine.

  • http://twitter.com/kbloemendaal/status/11094111420 Keith

    RT @nhangen Do You Really Know What You're Doing? | Nathan Hangen http://bit.ly/ajXdvG

  • http://nathanhangen.com/blog Nathan Hangen

    Kevin, you've got me curious now though…which posts were you referring to?

  • http://nathanhangen.com/blog Nathan Hangen

    Well Antti, like I said…it's not really the JV's that are taking my time…it's the stuff that I've been “trained” to do.

    For instance, when I'm looking for something to work on…I get this urge to write more content, comment on blogs, etc when I could be writing another book or refining my products.

    I'm not really concerned about myself, because I'll figure it out, and like I said above I didn't really want to make this about me. My primary concern here is questioning why we do what we do and if we really know how well it works or if we're speaking in theory.

  • http://web2andmore.net Kevin Tea

    Blimey! I'll try and track 'em down over the weekend.

  • http://nathanhangen.com/blog Nathan Hangen

    I've gotten in a habit of writing 1k + word posts and now am slightly afraid to post anything shorter…not because of anyone's comment, but just because that's my routine.

    Breaking routine can be tough!

  • http://nathanhangen.com/blog Nathan Hangen

    Thanks Mike.

    I just have a tendency to put more emphasis on quality products than I do on quality content. Some say you need both, but when all else fails, it's the products that matter (in my opinion).

    I comment here because I enjoy the interaction, but I also understand why guys like Seth and Leo turn off comments. Simply a shift in priority.

    My favorite thing to focus on lately is spending time with my customers, which is why I have so much fun in the BBP and in the members area here.

  • http://nathanhangen.com/blog Nathan Hangen

    You don't read Seth Godin's blog?

    I don't read Zen Habits, but not really because of the disabled comments. In fact, when I first read about him removing comments, I got mad. Eventually I realized that I was only mad because I didn't think he cared about his readers, but as I saw him interact on other places, I realized that was wrong.

    I'm just trying to question my own perceptions of what's necessary and if what I'm perceiving is really accurate…but like you said…convention and innovation don't lead down the same path.

  • http://happyandblue2.ca Happy and Blue 2

    I don't read Seth anymore. It's petty I know. But if Seth, or anyone else for that matter, are going to ask me a question in a post then let me answer it.
    Where the question is posed. Not on another medium I may or may not use.

    I get the whole comments turned off thing. Or the not responding to individual comments thing. I'm ok with it.

    But, like you, I have limited time. And I prefer to spend that time on sites that either provide me with some form of interaction with the author or just give me information and leave it at that.

    Seth is often brilliant in his observations but I feel I learn more through the comments of the author and the other commenters on other sites..

    I'm trying to focus on my site and my goals at the moment.
    As such I'm far more picky about what or who I spend my time on.

    Nathan, you are a talented writer with or without Seth (example, not a bash) or anyone else. You don't need them beyond gaining inspiring thoughts to push you to do your own thing. I don't even think you probably need inspiration from them at this point. Your products sell because they provide value for the money.

    Thanks for responding to my comment. I appreciate that..

  • http://hotblogtips.com/ Keith Bloemendaal

    Nathan, I look at it this way, the blog (in most circumstances) was the tool that either indirectly or directly made being able to offer those products possible. While people like Frank Kern and Andy Jenkins seem to have figured out ways to get their products out there without a blog, most aren't able to do that.

    I look at comments differently than some people do, I used commenting to get my name out there, and if done properly is one of the best promotion tools I have ever used. And it isn't so much that the comments attract readers to my site that will most likely never buy anything from me, it is that getting your name out there helps to get noticed, other bloggers may see your content and decide that it is worthy of linking to, this is something to me that is huge in bringing traffic that will actually buy something because it helps your SERP rankings.

    I leave a comment when I have something to say, but there are indirect benefits to doing so, the same goes for blogging, there are indirect benefits….

  • http://nathanhangen.com/blog Nathan Hangen

    Exactly…and the point of this post is to say that maybe the rules we thought existed for our own good might not be the best ones to follow for our own business. It's up the the individual entrepreneur to try, test, experiment, and analyze what works.

    I'm looking forward to your book.

  • http://josephratliff.com JosephRatliff

    Testing…exactly, the advice you would hear as a marketer. Not everyone who blogs is a marketer, or entrepreneur etc… but that doesn't mean that testing doesn't apply.

    You should still test to see what works for you, because in the end, it was you who made the decision to start a blog.

  • http://olegmokhov.com/ Oleg Mokhov

    “A great product trumps any amount of blogging.”

    Not a theory but the truth, Nathan :)

    Just look at the artist Burial. More popular than ANY other dubstep or dubstep-related artist over these past few years. Heck, Kanye West even blogged about him.

    But he was anonymous until only recently, doesn't perform live or DJ, does almost zero interviews, doesn't have any website/blog/online presence (his only one, MySpace, he's basically abandoned).

    So if he didn't do any of the things he was “supposed” to do, why did he become so popular and critically acclaimed?

    Because his music (the product) was great. Really, really great.

  • http://nathanhangen.com/blog Nathan Hangen

    Right, but I think we're missing the big picture here…99% of businesses made money without a blog. Sure, if we're talking strictly making money online..yeah, maybe much more need a blog…but why limit ourselves?

    I've said it before, but there's a huge audience of people out there waiting to buy stuff that don't know how to find/read/navigate/subscribe to blogs. They just don't do it.

    The problem I have is when we get caught in a paradigm that forces us to cater to a specific audience, which is that of bloggers. The reason Kern doesn't need a blog is because he doesn't market to bloggers.

    37 signals could get by fine without a blog because their product is awesome. Same with my favorite Mac app…things.

    Sure, I'm not saying it doesn't help with SEO and marketing…I'm just asking how far we need to go? You say there are indirect benefits, but how many of those benefits have you measured?

    This isn't a knock on you Keith…just food for thought for everyone based on your example.

  • http://nathanhangen.com/blog Nathan Hangen

    And I found Burial not because of a website, but thanks to Amazon's similar music finder…they don't need a blog either :)

    Great example.

  • http://zemalf.com/ Antti Kokkonen

    I think we are doing a lot of things because we think that's what we are supposed to do. If one is brave enough – a way to see if you are supposed to do something, is to stop doing it and see what happens. If nothing happens, it wasn't that important anyway.

  • http://hotblogtips.com/ Keith Bloemendaal

    Do we have to have blogs to market, of course not. But it is certainly a good tool to use, take out the MMO and Blogging about Blogging niches, and I have used blogs to promote offline businesses to the point of not needing any other marketing, only the blog. That is measurable, because I did no other marketing, no other advertising.

    Yes I agree that 99% of businesses made money without a blog, and I can sometimes limit myself by only thinking that way sometimes, probably because I work from home and am not a traditional business.

    Should we be seeking other ways to market, hell yes we should, but that would include work to accomplish. We, as online marketers, have gotten lazy (myself included).

    And stop pickin' on me!

  • http://nathanhangen.com/blog Nathan Hangen

    Thanks for the feedback.

    I agree with you in many ways…trying new things…conversing instead of preaching…using a little bit of every tool in the toolbox.

    My problem is when we keep using that same tool, even though it's rusty and doesn't work the same as it used to. Maybe it's time to take a look and see if it can be polished. If not, get a new tool.

    IMO…too little thought leadership in the world…I'm trying to do my part…at least I promise to try :)

  • http://nathanhangen.com/blog Nathan Hangen

    I see where you're coming from, and I appreciate your feedback. Although I didn't really want this to be about me that much…I can appreciate your insight because it's spot on.

    My particular problem now is not only learning how to get to 6 figures, but how to get to 7, and then 8.

    I love blogging because it connects me with people like you, but I'd rather meet a few people over coffee than thousands in a blog comment section. It's hard to make a difference when there isn't any accountability.

    As you know…I'm not really in this business for entertainment.

    More than anything, I just want people to make a habit of not making habits.

  • http://nathanhangen.com/blog Nathan Hangen

    Yep, it's amazing how those repetitive tasks can keep you from growing. It starts small, and there's always a new task to overcome…the problem is being aware and present enough to realize it.

    Thanks for your feedback and the honesty within.

  • http://nathanhangen.com/blog Nathan Hangen

    Is it a necessary evil?

  • http://nathanhangen.com/blog Nathan Hangen

    Peter,

    First of all…thanks, I really mean that. If I can do that just once every few months then I'll feel like I've done my part.

    What you said in the tail end of your comment is dead on…the innovators and thought leaders…the ones finding problems and solutions before anyone else notices them..will win big.

  • http://www.babystepstofluency.com/ Fiona Verschoor

    Well, it's gotta be done… you can outsource it, but still. It's a necessary evil for me currently… until I can bribe someone to take care of it for me. :)

  • http://www.thesuccessfulsinglemama.com/ Tracy

    I'm sensing a theme here – a few days ago you were riffing on social media, and questioning the necessity of being “available” to your audience/customers a la CB – and I think the comments so far have reflected that. I know you don't want this discussion to be about “your” situation but, in truth, it will be, as each of us is going to talk about or take the path that makes most sense for us.

    Having said that, I appreciate you playing devil's advocate and throwing it out for us to question for ourselves.

    Personally, I like the opportunity to respond. Blogging for me has always had a particular beauty because it IS about conversation; the ability to share what we learn, both with the writer of the post and the community built around it, is one of the great advantages of blogging over most other digital medium – hell, with most other forms of communication. We can be as connected or as distant as we wish to be in engaging with blogs and bloggers.

    Yes, it can be bloody time-consuming, both to respond and to answer. But blogging is what it is – a conversation. If you are finding that you need to move to a different model to suit your business delivery and focus, then you will make that work for you, I'm sure. You'll carry along a strong customer base that you built through your blogging and other communications, and they will continue to blog, tweet etc about you and your work, just as they do about Seth, Leo etc. As Dave said: “situations change.” Are blogs a distraction from the work, or a tool that is part of the evolution of that work?

  • http://nathanhangen.com/blog Nathan Hangen

    I think you might have me wrong…I wasn't knocking being available, but the vision of social media as some sort of salvation to the world's marketing woes…that it's great, but it's just a tool.

    Also, that it's important to take an honest look at relationships and start getting real with people instead of using them…if that makes any sense.

    Devil's advocate is exactly what I'm trying to do here. I don't want anyone to think that I don't value them, whether it's a reader, commenter, or customer…just asking people to examine their practices to make the most use of their time/effort.

    Like we talked about today…conversation is great, but sometimes it is distracting. We have friends on Buzz, Twitter, Facebook, chat, Skype, etc…it can be exhausting!

    However, and this is probably the most important point from my end…I enjoy doing this, and there's something to be said for being able to bootstrap a business in the way we're all doing. Building powerful relationships and powerful business assets at the same time…amazing.

  • http://remarkablogger.com/2010/03/27/link-journeys-for-march-27-2010/ Link Journeys for March 27, 2010 – Remarkablogger

    [...] Do You Really Know What You’re Doing? – Nathan Hangen kills it with this one. He’s asking the right questions. [...]

  • jackie861

    Nathan,

    I have a lot of ebooks on my hard drive. I've read some of them and some of them I have not. They're in the “to do pile”. I'm still working on being diligent about posting weekly, reading my comments and replying to them, learning all I can about this business and a variety of other things.

    I'm getting better at organizing and following through on my plans. Still I get distracted by all the great ideas that are passing my way. Wow, to lead such a life and then record the failures as well as the successes is mind blowing to say the least.

  • remarkablogger

    I love the questions you're asking in this post. It's tough work but rewarding if you ask yourself the tough questions and answer them for yourself.

  • http://twitter.com/riverwoodwriter/status/11195352286 Elizabeth Cottrell

    RE: @nhangen "Do You Really Know What You're Doing?" Gr8 questions we should all be asking ourselves http://bit.ly/a78R95

  • http://www.riverwoodwriter.com/ Elizabeth H. Cottrell

    Fantastic questions, and Remarkablogger and others are right…we NEED to be asking ourselves these questions, and the answers will be different for each of us, depending on where we are (Dave Doolin & Kevin Tea spoke well about timing).

    Like Mike Korner, I'm in the “about to launch a blog” stage and high learning mode. I do notice when I see bloggers I respect commenting on other people's blogs, and it gives credibility to the post as well as reinforces my sense that the commenter is an expert. Impossible to measure value in terms of sales, but I believe some value is there. It is part of the community effort we speak of so proudly.

    However, your overall point–that we can't do it all and we must be honest about evaluating what's most important and do things for the right reasons (not because someone else said we should)–is a GREAT message. I'm declaring war on the Tyranny of Shoulds! Thank you.

  • http://www.riverwoodwriter.com/ Elizabeth H. Cottrell

    Fantastic questions, and Remarkablogger and others are right…we NEED to be asking ourselves these questions, and the answers will be different for each of us, depending on where we are (Dave Doolin & Kevin Tea spoke well about timing).

    Like Mike Korner, I'm in the “about to launch a blog” stage and high learning mode. I do notice when I see bloggers I respect commenting on other people's blogs, and it gives credibility to the post as well as reinforces my sense that the commenter is an expert.

  • http://twitter.com/lacommunica/status/11246391776 Gaby Feile

    To reflect your blog activities RT @nhangen Do You Really Know What You're Doing? | Nathan Hangen http://bit.ly/ajXdvG

  • http://LisaMorosky.com Lisa Morosky

    Waiting on that to-do list, Mr. Hangen. ;)

    This post makes me smile. For 2 reasons:

    1. I love when people have epiphanies.
    2. It makes me feel normal for living and preaching the same things, in a sea of rules and regulations that most people don't seem to question.

    My new business theme is this: do what's important. Such a simple concept, but we get so befuddled about it. If there's not a new blog post on my blog, well it's because the business portion (i.e. clients) is busy – and that's the purpose of my blog, to get clients, so…score! If my newsletter goes out every 2 or 3 weeks instead of weekly, so be it. The money-making activities come first.

    It's been enlightening to see your thought-process, growth, and commentary the last couple months. I feel like I've had a front-seat in watching how your business has grown – missteps included (which is just as important to see, from my perspective). It's cool to know you. :)

  • http://nathanhangen.com/blog Nathan Hangen

    The problem is there are so many great ideas! Never thought that would be a problem until I tried to act on ideas of my own.

  • http://nathanhangen.com/blog Nathan Hangen

    War on the Tyranny of Shoulds…I like that!

  • http://nathanhangen.com/blog Nathan Hangen

    It's almost complete, I promise! Waiting on Mike to quit partying over there in Lanzarote :)

    So glad we met at bwe…so much has changed since then, but most of it good change.

    I love your attitude on the blog…I have this tiny case of perfectionism I need to overcome, but I'm working on it.

  • http://twitter.com/camplommer/status/11343363515 Cameron Plommer

    Do You Really Know What You're Doing? | Nathan Hangen http://su.pr/265ifr

  • cameronplommer

    Love all your points. I've written about a few of them myself in the past.

  • cameronplommer

    Love all your points. I've written about a few of them myself in the past.

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