Ever hear of Ben Settle?
Most days he works something like 20 to 45 minutes. His daily workload consists of writing one email to his list.
He wakes up, pounds out an email and calls it a day.
Sounds sweet, right?
Heck, it’s a workload people working a full time job could manage. Get home, have dinner, bang out an email and fire up Netflix. It’s certainly a lifestyle many people yearn more.
I suspect Ben has a few big work days during the month. His emails sell a monthly print newsletter. The monthly newsletter is very well done so he puts work into that. But that’s about it. 1 daily email and one monthly print newsletter.
That’s the epitome of the K.I.S.S. principle.
I have no idea how much he makes, but I bet it’s a lot.
While on the surface he teaches a simple method for successful email marketing, his message is deeper. His deeper message is master one skill and focus on that. Keep it simple stupid.
He’s a copywriter. A good one. So that’s all he does.
Ben could get on the internet marketing hamster wheel doing SEO for his site, social media promotion, launch 5 products with fancy funnels, recruit affiliates and whole lot more. He doesn’t do any of that. He writes copy and teaches how to write copy. He sells one monthly product.
I needlessly complicate everything
I’m ridiculously guilty of complicating my online business even though I know the one thing I’m good at and enjoy. I’ve simplified my business quite a bit over the last year, but still fall into old bad habits.
The One Skill I’m Good At (and Enjoy)
What I like doing, and it’s taken a while to understand this, is building up content rich sites. I enjoy writing non-fiction. I enjoy discovering topics that will perform well with search engines (i.e. long tail with low competition). That’s it.
I’m a content guy. Always have been. Yet, I’ve complicated my online business doing things I’m not good at and am not interested doing.
Let me give you an example.
I get excited at the prospect of hunkering down for a 2 hour keyword research session looking for keyword and topic gems.
I enjoy writing articles on topics I like. I don’t have a problem outlining long articles for writers.
I get giddy publishing great content knowing that there’s a good chance that content will generate a good ROI.
At the end of the day, I like and am good at building content-rich sites that attracts traffic (without promotion).
The “without promotion” is important.
Tasks I Don’t Like Doing
I despise promoting content and promoting myself, be it social media posting, outreach, proactive link building, networking… I despise it all.
I don’t like making videos or slideshows.
I loathe anything that requires careful organization and administration, which is the big reason I’ve not expanded any of my niche sites into e-commerce sites.
I can’t write copy to save my life. I wish I could, but I can’t. This includes clickbait and sales copy.
I neither like managing people, nor am I good at it.
I can’t design a logo, let alone graphics, websites or anything requiring an aesthetic eye. My best efforts are childish at best.
I can’t code and have no desire to learn.
I’m only mildly interested in crunching numbers. I don’t mind crunching numbers at a superficial level to get a birds’ eye view. I’m certainly not a number cruncher.
I’m not meticulous in that I don’t track or analyze all that much. I do the bare minimum.
Just thinking about these tasks fatigues me
I get excited and am energized doing work that involves planning, creating, organizing and in some cases, writing content for my sites.
While I hope all published content will make money in the long run, sometimes I publish stuff I know won’t make money, but I want to publish it anyway because I enjoy creating it.
I hit publish and then it’s time to promote on social media and promote in my email newsletter.
Such simple tasks.
Doesn’t take long at all either.
Yet, a heaviness hits me. I trudge through posting to social media channels. Writing the simple email for the email newsletter saps me of energy.
Then I think to myself, I need to do some outreach for links. But I can’t do it. I tell myself I’ll do outreach later. Later never comes because the thought of contacting 20 people is unthinkable.
I know I sound like a whiner. Posting to social media is not arduous. Writing a promotional email is hardly difficult nor time-consuming. Contacting 20 publishers is easy.
The thing is those tasks bore me. Sap me of energy. While they generate results and definitely are usually worth it financially, it’s not what I love doing.
Does this sound familiar to you?
Do you feel obligated to do a million things every day because you’ve read or learned that it’s all necessary? That you won’t succeed unless you do it all?
Perhaps it wasn’t one person who says you need to do it. It’s more likely a conglomerate of people. One blogger says “you gotta do outreach and promote your work.”
Another blogger says “Pinterest is the magic pill. Get on Pinterest and milk it for easy, free traffic.”
And yet another blogger says “the money is in the list.”
Someone else is making a killing selling unusual trinkets on Shopify.
You read “publish, less, promote more.”
“The best links are PBN links. Build a PBN and rake in traffic.”
It’s too much. I’m done being a Jack of All Trades and an Ace of None.
The tasks aren’t necessarily worthless
I’m not suggesting that email marketing is bad or that becoming a Pinterest rock star won’t work.
Every task above listed that I don’t like can work wonders if it’s something you’re good at and enjoy.
In many ways I wish I were an awesome copywriter. But I’m not. I’m a long tail keyword content guy (publishing plenty of it).
I can’t write clickbait titles.
I completely lack the organization skills to manage huge PBNs for aggressive SEO.
One Skill for Me Has Built Up Reasonably Successful Websites
I got into building up an online business via blogging for a brick and mortar business. I did well with blogging and never stopped. My next success was publishing niche sites promoting products with affiliate links. I then incorporated display ads into larger niche sites. The foundation of all these successes, with one exception, was content.
The one exception was the 2.5 years I did well with ad arbitrage, which was largely content oriented, but included quite a bit of ad buying.
Otherwise, content is the thing that works for me. While the thought of publishing millions of words sounds like dreadful work for many people, for me it’s second nature.
Not the most lucrative, but it’s enjoyable
Here’s the kicker. The way I run things leaves a ton of money on the table. I’d earn far more money if I invested into adding an ecommerce section to my niche sites selling stuff. Margins would be 50% to 80% vs. the 4% to 12% I earn now with affiliate commissions.
If I invested time into link building, my sites would definitely have far more traffic. However, while I do build some links, I don’t like doing it so I don’t bother scaling it like the guys at Authority Hacker.
If I put more time into Fat Stacks, especially courses and promotion, Fat Stacks would be far more lucrative.
I’m sure if I put as much effort into email marketing as I do into niche sites I’d earn more.
On and on it goes.
But, money isn’t everything. Besides, I’m probably better off financially focusing on what I like doing and am decent at. I could practice copywriting for years, but I’d never be an ace at it.
The Point: Figure Out What You’re Good at and Like in Your Biz, then Focus on it as Much as Possible
I’m not saying you should never do things you don’t like. I still promote content on Pinterest extensively even though it’s not my favorite thing to do. I run email newsletters with tens of thousands of subscribers. Sometimes you have to do things that aren’t your favorite tasks. Fortunately, these tasks don’t take much time each week and the pay off is worth it. If these tasks did take a lot of time, I wouldn’t do them.
You might opt to outsource the stuff you don’t like (but outsourcing opens up another whole can of worms, namely, managing people).
What I am saying is identify what you’re good at and like doing, then structure your online business around that. Leverage your interest and skills. Focus on it and minimize tasks that don’t interest you.
The result is you’ll master one or two skills which will help you build your online business much, much faster. The rest of it is noise.
If you can write clickbait content, do it. Even though Facebook is toast for free traffic, if you’re a great copywriter, you should be able to make it pay with paid traffic or email.
If you love coding, set up a coding business. Maybe it’s creating some software. Or, you become a coder for hire. It’s possible you like coding and writing. If so, publish a blog about coding.
If you love graphic design, set up an online business where graphics are the basis of the business.
You get the point.
Why not outsource all the bad stuff?
Outsourcing is bandied about as if it’s the easiest thing to do. Outsourcing and/or hiring VA’s takes work too. It’s called managing.
If you’re a born manager, set things up so you can manage.
I’m not a good manager. I employ VA’s, but I don’t think I could set up massive VA organizations like Dom Wells at Human Proof Designs. More to the point, at this point, I’m not interested in doing so.
If you’re not a manager, do as little of it as possible. The mark of a successful business is not how many employees you have. It’s not entirely about profits (although you need some profit, just like in some cases you may have to hire employees).
A successful business is one you enjoy running and that provides you a living.
Jon runs the place around here. He pontificates about launching and growing online publishing businesses, aka blogs that make a few bucks. His pride and joy is the email newsletter he publishes that’s “the best blogging email newsletter around.”
Hyperbole? Maybe, but go check it out to see what some readers say.
In all seriousness, Jon is the founder and owner of a digital media company that publishes a variety of web properties visited and beloved by millions of readers monthly. Fatstacks is where he shares a glimpse into his digital publishing business.