A few weeks back at Chris Guillebeau’s Ann Arbor book tour stop (BTW, I’ll be at the Dallas stop on Oct 22 with some friends from Austin; see you there?) a group of us were talking about how great the blogging community is.
Spending time at BlogWorld this past weekend has only reinforced these thoughts. (I have lots of written/video ideas as a result of the past few days. Video will have to come later since I can’t edit on a netbook.)
Blogging is the only business I’ve ever been involved in where your “competition” wants you to go out and kick ass. It’s the only business I’ve been involved in where I genuinely feel like people actually care about me. And, to be honest, it’s the only business I’ve been involved in where I genuinely care about my fellow “competition.” (OK, enough with the quotes!)
I don’t know if it’s possible to find another business where this is the norm. (If you’re involved on one, please let me know!)
But there’s a key to get that support. See, there are millions of blogs and hundreds of thousands of bloggers. The majority are not doing anything worth a damn. And that’s OK, because a majority are probably also personal blogs that aren’t meant to be used as anything more than a journal.
If you want to parlay blogging into any sort of business, whether part time or full time, what you need to do can be best summed up by Darren Rowse:
“Build something real. Build something that matters.”
If you build something real and build something that matters, it will be impossible not to find support. The whole reason I do my Sweet Shit Saturday posts is because I like to give back and support others who are building something that matters. Sometimes that’s a newer blogger, sometimes it’s an established blogger. It doesn’t matter where you’re at at this moment, if you take Darren’s advice things will progress positively.
So the next logical question is …
How Do You Build Something That Matters?
It’s simple and it’s not so simple.
It boils down to this: solve problems.
If you solve problems you’ll create something people care about. Every single thing you do doesn’t have to solve a problem, but the collective whole should.
I’ve come up with 3 simple ideas that will help if you’re stuck solving problems.
1) Solve your own problems.
If you have problems, other people probably have that problem as well. If you chronicle solving your problems, others will learn from you because you’ve created something of value to them, something that matters to them.
You’ll see this from every single person you probably pay attention. Some way, somehow, they are solving one (or more) of your problems.
Quite a few of my articles, especially my early articles, were based on my own problems I solved. Like dandruff or excruciating stomach pain. From the beginning most of my thinking revolved around how I can solve problems. Even how to stop having problems.
2) Ask your readers what their problems are.
This is easily accomplished using a free online survey.
If you have a very small audience you can still use this. Even if only 1 person fills out your survey, at least you know exactly what one person would like you to help them with. Fantastic! As your audience grows they’ll give you more and more ideas.
A variation of this is to pay attention to your comments and e-mails. These days I get more than half of my blog ideas from comments or e-mails. Not only does this make writing what you want easier, it means I’m writing exactly what you want.
3) Add your own commentary to problems that others have solved.
Let’s say that you’ve taken another person’s advice and solved a problem using their ideas. Write about your experiences and be sure to give that person lots of credit. (Remember the beginning of this article, support each other!)
Follow these 3 strategies and you will building something that matters.
So take some time right now and ask yourself: “What problem can I solve today?”.