My strongest belief (and I’d call it my own rule of thumb) is that no matter how much you read and learn, you will not know until you try. Actually doing things brings the profound understanding of how things work.
Theory is only good when applied to practice.
Therefore I am doing so much. You may have noticed my solo projects pop up here and then: none of them earns good money and all of them are priceless to me personally.
I started my own home-based business more than 3 years ago and it’s been 10 months since I started creating and promoting my non-blog projects. They all have something in common:
- Each of them has a tiny idea or concept behind it (one unique concept behind each one);
- They are not (properly) monetized (and were not launched with money in mind);
- They are run as a hobby (no serious funding).
They all are just tiny experiments.
Here are the projects:
- My Blog Guest: Guest blogging platform;
- Viral Content Bee: Social media promotion
- Twchat: Twitter chat management
So what have these projects helped me to understand in the first place? The GOLD but obvious things:
1. The Product Doesn’t Need to Be Great, It Needs to Be GOOD
Here’s a great post by Gmail founder Paul Buchheit who explains this truth by a few examples. When iPad was introduced, there followed a great deal of articles and threads discussing what is missing in the device. But what happened in the reality?
iPad was a huge success: in Ukraine we could hardly buy one in several months after the launch because they produced too few to satisfy the overwhelming demand.
Why did it happen so despite the well-discussed lack in features? Because a great product does not need all those fancy features.
What’s the right approach to new products? Pick three key attributes or features, get those things very, very right, and then forget about everything else.
Truth #1: If your product needs many features to be great, it is likely to be not that good after all.
2. You CANNOT Make Everyone Happy
No matter how much you may try. It’s just impossible. The sooner you realize that, the more focused your marketing campaign is going to be.
This doesn’t mean you don’t need to be listening to feedback but sometimes it’s just the person, not your product.
I’ll tell you a funny story.
I’ve been emailing back and forth with the new user who couldn’t understand how to use MyBlogGuest. He couldn’t do anything at all which was making me crazy. “Is the site so hard to understand???” I thought.
Then I asked the user which IM he was on to make the guiding through process easier. He said it was Google Talk. I asked him to add me to friends and sent in my details.
“How do I add friends on Gtalk?” the user emailed back. “I’ve been using it for a year and could never understand that?!”
And this is it – this is the point where I realized that was probably the user, not my site. There’s nothing bad in that: there are people who just can’t use things – so they need to be guided through. Yes, you can still engage and help those people to use your product but you should not judge your project by their feedback.
Use analytics to track the user paths, surveys and feedback forms – don’t try to please everyone, try to please the majority. This is the only way it will work.
Truth #2: You can’t make everyone happy, but (turning to truth #1), a good project doesn’t need to.
3. You Do Have Your Weak Points, the Key is to Make Them Your Strongest Ones
You (or your project) is not perfect. No one is.
Here’s my story.
Most of you know (or have noticed) that I blog in a foreign language. Yep, English is a foreign language for me; Russian is my native one. I do business in English and from abroad.
What does it mean for me? Writing a blog post takes me much more time than it would have taken a native speaker because I need to think thoroughly over each word and phrase. Thus I can’t afford writing long articles full of thoughts and considerations. I write short laconic posts trying to compensate this by providing actionable advice, useful screenshots, tables and lists. This has become my selling point.
People know me by writing short, actionable posts – few people realize that I write them because I am unable to use any other style.
Truth #3: Your (project) weak point may be your chance to stand out.
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I totally agree to point 2 you cannot make everyone happy and I think no one should even try to or think about it.
The only thing is that the product has to be good as you mentioned but your own belief in the idea behind it has to be the strongest.
Wish you all the very best for your projects.
I like #3. Knowing our weaknesses and how to overcome them will us stronger.By the way, I’m also blogging in a foreign language, English. 🙂
Your second point really spoke to me, as we are in the process of setting up an online business. I guess it is important to be confident in your product and not automatically assume that your site is at fault. There are people out there who seem to have a mental block when it comes to using the internet and it’s accompanying technology.
Thank you for sharing this concept
Wow! what a nice concept. I agree with you. In life we have our own way of doing our own thing and we should accept the fact that our ideas our different from them. We cannot please everyone but what’s important is we know exactly that we are giving our best in everything. We can expect to be on top at some point but it doesn’t mean we will be there all the time. We may encounter some defeat but what’s important is we know how to stand up and move forward.
@Bharati, thanks for your best wishes and for being part of My Blog Guest!
@Lyn, thanks for stopping by!
@Jun, join the club 😉
@Danielle, so true. The main thing is to never stop doing something!
Ann, I love reading your posts, so if your posts are products, there not good they are great.
I agree on the pleasing everyone point too. I have found even in the example you used, that a large number of people online would rather call, IM or email and ask questions then just read a FAQ section or heaven forbid explore and absorb on their own. It is sad, but true, most people don’t like to think, but knowing that you can use it to your advantage too.
As for English being your weak point…I am a bit embarrassed to say your writing and your English are much better than mine and it is my native language.
Ann, I appreciate the post and these points are truth, but how do you find the time? I know we are all given 24 hours and the reward comes from how effectively we manage our 1440 minutes.
I see the footprint you leave online everyday. Just your posts alone are full time.
I would LOVE to read and learn from you how you manage it all.
It might not be so obvious truth to many 🙂 but you nailed it Ann! Some good points – trying to achieve perfection kills the progress
Hey Alex, yes, they weren’t so obvious for me as well until the proved to be true 🙂
Thanks for stopping by! Haven’t talked to you for a while! Hope you are doing well!
This article is so nice. I think it doesn’t only apply to every project but also with us. I am glad that you wrote something like this because it open our mind to the reality. In this world, it is not only one side and most of the time there are two side of every situation and all but we have to accept that yeah we cannot please all and we are not the only the best one. But if we know exactly what to do and we’re happy doing it then there’s no reason to worry about. What’s important is that at the end of the day you know that you give your best and you do it with pride and consideration.
Terrific illustrations. I love that. Another thing is that you are so right the product doesn’t have to be perfect-as long as it works and fulfills a need. This statement reminds me of something that I heard at an OMS conference where Kipp Bodnar of Hubspot mentioned that so often brands and marketers try to wait until for perfect conditions before they take action-when so often just getting the stuff done on time will be more than enough to get the job done.
I loved number 3. I have a friend from Ukraine who once told me how much she loved the articles that I co-wrote with my supervisor at the time. “I can’t understand half of them”, she said admiringly. I thanked her for the attempted compliment and then tried to convince her that big long sentences full of latin words was not a good thing when writing. It’s amazing how many people don’t understand that simple, direct and comprehensible is sooo much better.
p.s. I wish I could write as well in my native language as you do in your second one.
Look at VHS and beta – beta was a superior product but VHS won the day. Proof your product doesn’t have to be great or perfect to succeed
I like #3. I write short posts too. 😉
So, you’re a Russian, I thought you were from the states 🙂 Actually I’ve been admiring many of your older posts (particularly your super famous hub about SEO) and I’ve even read some of your posts on SEJ, and I must say they were exceptional (that’s why I was pretty shock to know that you were quite limiting your style to short but direct posts, since I most that I’ve seen from you were long enough to educate a lot of people).
Anyway, I enjoyed reading this entry, it’s not my first time here by the way, but I couldn’t resist to comment on what I’ve just read today 🙂 Plus, you gave me an “aha moment”, saw something interesting here, and you’ve taught me something indirectly; hint: I also enjoy Zarko’s posts 🙂
I like the article sounds like i also went trough the same way. The point 2 that we cant make everyone have is perfect. I tried personally so many times but result the same 🙂
Great contribution. Appreciated.
I truly admire “Theory is only good when applied to practice”
Very nice and impressive post. Every point has weight and views are crystal clear. I like your skill and have bookmarked it so that i can get updates regularly. Thanks Simon Brent
Nice post! I like your choice of pics and pointers – especially the anecdote on the newbie user.
How do you choose your pics and where do you source them? Stock photo sites? Sorry if you answered this elsewhere.
Hey Gab, thanks for your kind words!
I use Flickr Creative Commons to find all images. I am happy you like them!
I too think experimenting is the way to go. And knowing which projects to focus on and which ones not to. Especially on the Internet.
Your articles are always appreciated Ann. I agree with you, practicality teaches a lot more than what you can learn via theory. Specially in the case of search engine optimization, exposure to projects and Google’s ever changing algorithm is necessary.