Brian Clark from Copyblogger recently released a free report entitled The Lateral Action Guide to Becoming a Creative Entrepreneur. I just finished reading it and like most of Brian’s stuff, it was very good.
I was surprised though at one of his recommendations. He advised aspiring entrepreneurs to be self-centered.
He pointed to 37signals, a popular software company that’s become very successful by only creating products that they themselves would find useful. On page 14, he quoted the CEO, Jason Fried:
We just build stuff we want to use. If we need it, they need it.
It was surprising to see this principle from Brian because one of his main tenets is focusing on the needs of your audience. I was a little confused but as I read on, Brian demonstrated that self-centeredness and focusing on your audience doesn’t necessarily contradict each other.
If you’re like many bloggers, you’re in a niche that you’re passionate about. Therefore, you are part of the audience you aim to serve. If you can create something that will help you, it will probably help your audience too.
Consider one of Brian’s products, the popular Thesis theme for WordPress. As a writer that’s not skilled in tech or design, he could sympathize with the barriers writers face when publishing online. Therefore, he partnered with a designer to create an easy-to-use, attractive theme.
Here’s another example. Pat Flynn setup a blog as a reference tool to record his notes for an upcoming architecture test. He was not looking to make money. But because of his notes, his blog attracted traffic and multiple readers told him he should write an ebook. He wrote an ebook based on his notes, did some research about online marketing, and then started selling his book. Soon, his blog was earning him a full-time income. You can listen to his story here.
I read somewhere in an interview that Perez Hilton, the popular celeb gossip blogger, blogs for himself and doesn’t really focus on traffic. He said he would blog even if no one was reading his site. That’s how much he enjoys writing and following celebrities. And there must be many other celeb gossip fans since his blog is one of the most trafficked sites on the planet.
I looked back at my best posts on various blogs and found that I wrote many of them as warnings to myself. For example, I reread this post when I’m tempted to overextend myself and manage too many blogs. And I wrote this post to increase my patience and to remind myself that successful blogging is a long-term project.
It can often be hard to figure out what your audience wants. But if you consider your own needs, you might just find that they are similar to your audience’s needs.
What do you think about the self-centered principle?
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