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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You should blog even if no one is reading your site.
You have to enjoy blogging. When you’re doing something you like very much, other people will like what you are doing!
I would like to remark that your taste might not necessarily be thesame as that of others, so you really have to consider the market
When i saw the caption first, i was like what are you saying. In me i told myself even before i began reading that being self-centred can in no way help one’s blog. But when i got to the quote “we just build stuff we want to use, if we need it they do”. I had to start reading with a different picture in mind. I think the self-centred principle is not bad afterall
Great analogy with parenting!
Thanks for the explanation.
I think Brain makes a great point. We can ask ourselves if we’re part of the market we’re trying to reach. If we are, then we can create things for ourselves that should also be beneficial for our readers.
Indeed, it would be great if you write about what you really want and what really interest you but if you are a profit oriented blogger then you must know what is the need of others and do they know the niche your talking about? Yes it is better if you know what you write and what you’re talking about but knowing the need of the readers is one big factor.
Hey Dee, glad you liked the report.
I think the key here is to understand whether you’re part of the market you’re trying to reach. If you are, there’s a good chance that the things you want, need, or find interesting will match up with the audience. If so, things get much easier.
But it’s still about them more than you. It’s just you happen to be one of them. 😉
You know….I never thought about this until reading your post. It’s true! The blog posts that got the most reception were the one that I wrote for something that I was extremely passionate about. When you do something for yourself, you are doing something you feel there is a need to. Totally unrelated, but then it is, I read this parenting book called “Scream-Free Parenting.” In it, the writer discusses how you need to be selfish and think about you because if you aren’t happy, then the kids aren’t either. Same exact reasoning. Great post!