Don’t be discouraged by the numbers

Human beings (accept for the prophets, i will tell you the story after the post) are affected by the results of our actions, I guess that’s our nature. If we relate it to blogosphere, it’s all about traffic, RSS subscribers, number of comments blog posts etc. Bloggers get happy when their blogs’ traffic increase, when their comments on the posts increase and their RSS subscribers increase… etc.

And opposite is true, when the traffic decreases, the number of comments decreases and RSS subscribers drop, bloggers get upset and demoralized. Eventually they may even abandon their blogging because of the declining stats.

My advice is “don’t bother about the numbers!”. (Yes, I know it’s easier said than done but…) Just do what you have to do (i.e blogging) and keep blogging, don’t bother about those stats. Because if you are good at what you do, you will eventually succeed.

I guess in order not to be bothered much about the stats, you need to overcome a certain barrier. In my view this barrier consists of thoughts like: I have too few readers. My traffic is too low for me to succeed in blogging. What will people say if i write in certain manner? I have to write/behave/attend conferences like “top bloggers” to be accepted by others…etc

Reason for the discouragement

Usually one of the main reasons for the discouragement is, it’s when you blog for the wrong reasons. People blog for various reasons, and if you blog for specific reason like “making money online” only. Then, there is a high probability that you will stop blogging when you hit the bottom. In other words, when your blog stops making money, you won’t see any reason to continue blogging.

Of course, it depends on the projects. Sometimes you launch a project just to make money. So, when the project doesn’t make money, it’s better to just discontinue the project. Continue reading

Learning from mistakes – Story of Daud AS

Two brothers came to Prophet Daud (peace be upon him) (Prophet David in Bible) and said

“Judge between us, we are in dispute”.

One of them said

“This is my brother. He has ninety nine sheep and I have one sheep. He is now forcing me to give up my single sheep to him”.

So, prophet Daud without listening to the other brother said

“He has undoubtedly wronged you in demanding to add your single sheep to his flock. He should return your sheep to you!”.

Once he has delivered his judgment, two brothers disappeared into the air. Propet Daud realized that these were two angels and that he was just tested by God and that he made a mistake — he didn’t listen to both sides of the story before delivering his judgment.

So, he fell prostrating asking for forgiveness from God. And God forgave him. (Quran 38:21-25)

When mufassireen (interpreters) of Quran talk about this story they say that Daud after the mistake was a better Daud than before the mistake. In other words, after the mistake he was wiser and more knowledgeable than before.

Moral of the story:

Mistakes can be a great source of knowledge if we derive lessons from them, and learn from them.

About a month ago, problogger posted a blog-post on his blog asking readers “What is the biggest mistake you have made as a blogger?“. I am not sure if you have read this post and comments under it. There are over 200 comments where readers share their mistakes as a blogger and how their mistakes affected their blog negatively (directly or indirectly).

So, if you haven’t read it, go to the page and go through the comments. There are a lot of lessons to be learnt for everyone.

Paying attention to the right stuff, and learning how to sacrifice

Update: This came to be known as Lean Startup, popularized by Eric Ries in late 2008.

prioritize.png Last week in my MBA class (Management Control Systems) I had a case-study about “Balanced Scorecard” and how it was implemented in a particular company in the banking industry. Obviously the company had a lot of challenges and issues during the BSC implementation.

One of the lessons from the case was, for the BSC to be implemented successfully and fully, you need to keep improving it as the implementation phase moves along. One of the reasons cited for BSC implementation failure was because some companies want a perfect BSC – from the start. But that’s not possible, since BSC is a continuous thing, which has to be improved, changed, and adjusted over time.

Relating it to web-projects and Startups

This case-study reminded me of few occasions where I noticed how some people want everything to be perfect. They pay attention to the wrong (or shall we say less important) parts of the project. Every project consists of different parts, if it is a web project for example, then it could be divided into design, development, choosing hosting, choosing domain name, marketing, advertising etc.

However in order for the work to begin, you only need design and development (i.e scope of work) first. So don’t waste your time thinking how you will promote the website after its completion. Similarly, if you just want to test the waters whether the project will work or not, then don’t delve too much on the design of the interface. Just get a functional user interface that will do the job fairly and see if your project will stand the test. Because I noticed that some people will spend so much time perfecting the design of the website that they delay the launch of the project, or even worse the project gets not launched at all.

Because in most cases, it’s not the user interface that determines if the project will work or not. It’s the IDEA that determines the fate of your project. If your idea is good, then even if your website is not that “good looking” – it will still work! But not vice versa. You might have the best designed website, but still fail.

Lessons to be learned

So, in conclusion; first prioritize your tasks, identify the parts that are most important for the project to be completed. Once you have identified, work on those important parts first. Don’t waste your time on the tasks that will follow after the project has been completed.

Secondly, try to learn how to sacrifice on the design. Yes great logo is important for the brand, but don’t search for it for months until you delay the project. Same goes with the design of the website, some people spend so much time on the design that the real objective of the project gets forgotten.

Personal Theory: Top bloggers don’t read other blogs

I have this feeling that top bloggers do not really follow other blogs. I think they are too busy to read other blogs (probably busy with their own blogs or working on other projects). And even if they followed, I presumed that there must be only a handful of blogs that they really followed on daily basis.

In order to test whether my theory was true, I tweeted some of the top bloggers and had two of them respond. One was Jeremy Schoemaker of Shoemoney.com and the other was Michael Arrington of TechCrunch.com Below is their replies to my question “How many blogs do you read daily?”.

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I also sent one line question through email to few top-bloggers and two of them responded. One was Yaro Starak of www.entrepreneurs-journey.com, and the other was Darren Rowse of www.problogger.net

Yaro said:

Usually zero, but every few days I’ll spend some time checking about 5-10 of the leaders in my industry.

Just after I was starting to think that my theory was in fact true, I received an email from Darren.

Darren said:

I track around 700 blogs – however I don’t read them all (I scan) and I wouldn’t do that on a daily basis. For me there are probably 50 or so that are on my daily read list but the rest would be weekly.

So, again it’s a tie. Not really a tie, but there are people on both sides. But if we were to follow the rules of statistics and make a statement on the poll results. It would read something like this:

75% of top-bloggers either followed no blogs or followed less than 10 blogs daily.

Lesson to be learned from this

If you spend your day reading blogs (tens of them) and do not really do much other than reading blogs (like working on your own blog, working on your personal web projects..etc) then you might want to re-evaluate your reading habits.

Because, these top-bloggers are successful not because they read tons of other blogs, but because they know what to focus on, how to prioritize their daily tasks, and most importantly they know how NOT to waste their time reading so many blogs daily.

Because, at the end of the day, if you do not take action (i.e do something: launch a new niche blog, work on a web project, or make a new software… etc), reading hundreds of blogs daily won’t make you successful. The difference here is “reading only and doing nothingvsreading important things from selective blogs, learning from them, and then making use of this newly acquired knowledge – applying them on your personal projects“.

Your say…

Now, let me listen what you have to say about this theory. Do you think top bloggers read many blogs? And what should be a healthy dose of reading blogs daily? Do you think reading too many blogs will affect your own productivity negatively? Look forward to your comments.

Assessing Your Blog’s Strategic Competitiveness

In strategic management, in order to have a sustainable competitive advantage in a resource based view, you need to have a resource(s) that are valuable, rare, difficult to imitate, and difficult to substitute. If your resource has all of the above mentioned characteristics, then you can be sure to have a sustainable competitive advantage, at least for some time. Because sooner or later your competitors will start to imitate. And if you do not keep innovating, your competitive advantage will be short lived really really fast.

How can we relate this view to blogging? Well, blogging needs a strategy too. And you can easily find where you are in terms of your competitiveness against the other fellow bloggers with this table. Based on your answers you can find your competitiveness level on the right.

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Of course, you should be targeting for the all-red line – sustainable competitive advantage. In other words, if you are in all-red, it means that your posts are

  • beneficial to the readers,
  • they are difficult to find on other blogs,
  • your writing style is unique (difficult to copy),
  • you have a personality that is charismatic
  • you have an expertise in certain field that nobody else has.

If you find yourself anywhere in 1 to 3, then you should identify where you are lagging behind, and then come up with a strategy to target that weakness. Of course, if anyone is in the 1st line (competitive disadvantage) then he/she is just wasting his/her time with his/her blog. Because if you are in competitive disadvantage, you better do something really fast or just stop blogging.

Gmail Productivity

I have been using Gmail with “shortcuts on” mode for some time, and I should say it’s great. It saved me a lot of time. It’s especially useful when I use my notebook, because I don’t have to use the touchpad for navigation. Touchpad can be a really pain sometimes.

One of the challenges when you start using Gmail with shortcuts is to remember which keys does what. It’s quite a hassle to check the shortcuts page for info. And I think it’s one of the reasons why people feel lazy to enable shortcuts, because they do not want to keep going back and forth learning shortcuts.

But luckily Gmail has a better solution for it, that some of you might not know. After you have enabled shortcuts, pressing Shift + ? will bring up a semi-transparent layered window with all the shortcuts their functions. Below is the screenshot of this window while Gmail is in Compose mode. This works anywhere in Gmail, as long as you are logged in.

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So I hope you will be more productive knowing this gmail tip.