Focus or Fail

A thread by Chris McLeod that I commented in got me thinking about focus. Raj has mentioned a couple of times about his zomblogs, and it seems part of the problem is an affiliction I am very familiar with;  an addiction to starting projects.

I love starting new projects. The invention part is my favourite bit. I’m aware enough of this part of my character that when it matters I know how to deal with it but if I left it unchecked I would start a new blog every day and never look at it again! What I see in my own work is if I focus my projects do well, if I do not focus they fail.

Don’t get me wrong, I am not saying you should only have one blog. There are many advantages to having several blogs running in parallel

  • Spreading risk
  • Network effects
  • Variety keeps your interest
  • More income
  • Learnings from one used in rest
  • More opportunity to make contacts
  • Testing ideas

With so many advantages I would recommend anyone have at least a go at one more blog. The problem comes when you spread yourself too thin or try to do too many new things at once.

Each blog needs to have a lot of effort put in at the start to ensure it takes root. You need a good body of content so you have at least a small archive. People need to see more than a “hello world” post to decide if they want to stick around or not.

One you have a new blog up and running though you can reduce your time commitment to it down to posting a few times a day and tending your daily comment and spam crop. That is when you have the opportunity to start a new one.

How many blogs are too many? Only you can decide that. It’s based on how much time you have, how much energy you want to put in and how difficult the topics are to find and generate content.

The other problem of course is you really do need to start. I had a phase of buying domains and not doing anything with them, or I would get as far as building a “coming soon” homepage full of promises of how great the new blog will be if I could only get off my big fat arse and build it.

While you might have grand plans for your new blog the only solution to this problem, if it is one you are at risk of falling into, is to actually build something (anything) no matter how imperfect and get it started. Commit to updating it with content and improve as you go along. It is better to have a maintained blog with a default theme rather than a beautiful but contentless blog left to rot.

Some blogs deserve to wither, they are experiments that don’t pan out. That’s fine providing you really did put in the effort. Remember it is hard to judge when a blogs tipping point will be. It takes months before you know a blogs real potential in traffic and income.

For myself I resolve to either drop my domains or do something with them. After our crazy current schedule is more quiet and sane I will create a new blog and actually stick with it.

How about you? Do you find the “million domains and not doing anything with them” experience of Raj and I familiar? Or do you have only one blog and can’t understand anyone wanting more? Let us know ..

7 thoughts on “Focus or Fail

  1. Chris, as always these are very good points you are talking about! i have four comment from my point of view.

    Simple commitment to ‘time management’. In the evening I take the calendar page of the next day and write down what I did not do today. This empties my brain. The next thing is that I write down on that calendar page what will be my goal(s) for that next day. I simply try to scribble a kind of time forecast for future periods.

    If you are running multiple projects in multi-mode it helps a lot to have a checklist. Experiences from one project should always result in checklists for future projects. Get structure in your tasks.

    I personally have always had problems in finalizing ‘projects’. It’s always an ongoing living thing. Blogs and their niches might have a life cycle. There are phases when a niche is not so interesting. What can you do? You can’t force it. Reduce the attention and run it in hibernation mode. The subject will come back. An author is no machine. If you are lucky you have a team … that really helps to get out a professional product. Concentrate on the things which are most appealing to you right now.

    One last important remark. Start early and keep the project in the start phase as long as you can afford it! Play around, call it alpha, beta, whatever but don’t say too early that it is in ‘real’ production mode. If you go public too early (synonym: start too late) you will get mistakes which could have been eliminated by more testing. The picture I have is ‘setting up a server’. If you push that server too early into production then you commit yourself to the 7/24 situation instead of testing all the services until you are 100% sure that the server is doing a reliable job.

    Successful examples: Google lab projects, Flickr

  2. Yes, I have the same characterstics. I believe this is because my creative side is the most developed one. If you want your company to not fall into trap of just chasing ‘new/interesting’ things you could team up with a more static and intellectual person. If you also want to have an eye for personal issues, getting an more emotional person in the team would be a wise thing. For a good team you would need a balance of intellectual, emotional and intellectual people.

    By the way I have 9 blogs. Started not to long ago and slowely growing. After the last Google dance I am at PR4 for most of them. So far having multiple blogs has not done me wrong. Although they all are in similar areas, the areas that I am interestd in: LCDs, projcetors, home-theatre, home-automation… So maybe that has helped not to drop a project so far.

    On the other side I am still eager to set up some affliate website, something like ukoffer. And I still have some websites that received little maintenance attention the last couple of months.

  3. Chris, insightful as always

    As of yesterday, I am dropping domains and going on hiatus from several of my active blogs as well as the zomblogs. I realize that for some of my blogs, I really don’t have anything worthwhile to say that isn’t already being said by hundreds of other bloggers

    What I’ve also realized is that my style of writing about a ton of topics is more suited to either a website or a magazine, not a blog. That said, I’m clearing a lot of projects off my plate for at least 3-4 months and reorganizing my efforts.

    Of course, being unable to resist new projects, I’m also starting several new ones and buying new domains 😀

    For anyone that’s unsure about their blogging career, may I suggest Steve Pavlina’s excellent self-development blog, There are too many great articles there to mention just one. After one week of reading his very long articles, I started having revelations about my career, something that hasn’t happened in 7 long years. I’ve been having revelations almost daily for a week now.

    Steve talks about a “30-day trial” commitment to a new project or activity, which gives you a graceful way out. The significance of “30 days” is that this is how long it typically takes to form a new habit, good or bad. He also asks you to decide what you want to do with your life. Reading his articles really has been life-changing for me, or at least perception changing, and has helped me clear project clutter.

  4. Staring a new project is WAY more fun than “working” with existing ones. It is a very bad habit of mine as well and I am always starting more sites/blogs than I’ll ever have time to work on. More sites that run themselves are what I need.

  5. Hah, you are welcome to any I don’t keep. Most are from my affiliate marketing days so are very product focussed, though some might work for blogs.

    Yeah a little more than your comfort zone is probably good for some people but I know for me I need to not push myself too hard for too long as my batteries soon drain and that is bad for your health.

  6. If you’re dropping any domain names, mind if I have a look at the list?

    I’m juggling a few projects myself, and one thing I’ve noticed is that if you get too overwhelmed by starting too many projects, you might end up sabotaging the projects you really care about. On the other hand, I’m not a big fan of being cautious when it comes to new ventures.

    So where do we strike a balance? My best guess would be to always take on a ‘little’ more than you can handle, just to keep you on your toes and firing at all cylinders.

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