Remember the Marie Kondo craze?
She’s the decluttering expert with the best selling book “Spark Joy“.
She became an instant celeb in 2019. Check out the Google Trends chart for “Spark joy“.
Her catchphrase is “does it spark joy?”
That’s what you’re supposed to ask yourself when deciding whether to keep something or throw it out (or list it on Craigslist, give away, etc.).
Everything that doesn’t spark joy has to go.
I love this test.
Most stuff I have is junk. I don’t use it. I don’t appreciate it.
I have to admit a lot of what I have does not spark joy.
It’s a tough threshold to meet.
It reminds me of the legal maxim “guilty beyond a reasonable doubt.”
That’s a massive threshold for prosecutors to cross.
Courts have interpreted it to mean “no doubt”. This is good. Despite this, innocent people are still found guilty.
Back to sparking joy.
It’s not only relevant to clutter and junk.
It applies to things we do and time.
Just as we have limited space in our houses, we have limited time and energy.
How we use that time and energy is important.
Now, I’m not naive to think every waking moment can be joyous. It would be nice but everyone has to do things they don’t want to do. It’s called life.
Likewise, while I don’t like clutter in my home, I’m not literally going to toss everything that doesn’t spark joy. I’d end up with nothing.
But my list of things that spark joy is not short. In fact, I put one together in the P.S. section. It’s longer than I thought it would be. How does it compare to your list?
The sparking joy test with respect to your online business (or any business) is fairly easy to apply.
Time is a scarce commodity. We only have so much of it (unless you’re a non-dualist along the lines of Nisargadatta, but I’ll leave that for another discussion).
When you can choose from two work tasks, choose the one that sparks more joy.
Like time, your energy is limited too.
Joyous tasks don’t drain energy.
If you’re just starting out, you have to do it all, both the joy and the pain.
As the money grows, you get to enjoy choices.
- Do you want to write on a particular topic or send it to a writer?
- Do you want to create the pins or send it to a graphic designer?
- Do you want build up an Instagram following or a YouTube following?
We can seldom do it all.
So we must choose.
All else being equal, you might as well choose what sparks more joy.
Again, I’m not so naive to believe that we should be able to only pursue joyous activities.
If something sparks joy, are you good at it?
No. Often we’re good at stuff we like but it doesn’t necessarily follow that we are good at stuff we like.
I love skiing but I’m not very good. Same with tennis, Mario Kart and pretty much most of what I do.
Likewise, just because you’re good at something, doesn’t mean it sparks joy.
I’m good at writing product reviews, but it doesn’t spark joy. I’m good at washing dishes by hand (I should say fast, which is good in my books), but it doesn’t spark joy. I’m good at digging ditches, but that doesn’t spark joy.
Which is why, if you can, choose to focus on tasks that you are both good at and sparks joy.
How do you know if you’re good?
You might be thinking this is a stupid question, but it’s not. On the surface, you might think “well of course I know if I”m good at something. You just know.”
I could go play tennis with a bunch of beginners and it appears I’m good because I beat them. But in the big scheme of tennis, I’m terrible.
With online work, we’re fortunate because we can track results quickly which is usually a decent marker of whether we’re good at it.
I’d sooner base whether I’m good at something from data than what I think.
If you post articles to Facebook and 30% of them get viral traffic, it’s safe to assume you’re good at penning clickbait content that works on social.
If you amass 2 million YouTube subscribers and maintain a high subscriber view rate, it’s safe to say you’re good at making videos and running a YT channel.
If you get over 1 million monthly visitors to a niche website, it’s safe to say you’re a decent niche site publisher.
If you attract new freelance clients via word-of-mouth, you’re obviously good at whatever freelance work you do.
Sometimes you need to drill down
For example, I happen to get well over 1.5 million monthly visitors to my niche sites. Overall, I’m pretty good at publishing niche sites. I’m not the best but I’m satisfied with those results.
However, I’m not good at all aspects of publishing niche sites. I’m not good with graphic design or coding or spotting spelling mistakes. I don’t hold myself out as an SEO.
I just happen to be good at a couple of tasks that actually make it work. Those tasks are keyword research and delegating content systematically. I’m also okay at site structure and a few other on-site SEO tricks.
I don’t do much beyond that.
Fortunately, that’s all it takes otherwise I’d be hooped.
This long-in-the-tooth, directionless email boils down to the following:
As much as possible, limit your business tasks to what you enjoy doing (sparks joy), are good at and that get results.
Either skip the rest or hire it out.
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.