Have you thought about making profits from your blog?
Most folks that write to me asking for advice on blogging are looking for ways to make a little money for their hard efforts with writing, networking, and growing their blog.
It makes sense; we all want a little in return for the hard work that goes into blogging. However, profits are difficult to come by regarding the two forms of revenue most think of with blogging:
It’s difficult for 99% of bloggers to make money this way. Obtaining the traffic bloggers use as justification for ad revenue takes lots of time and effort and most bloggers simply give up before reaching that level.
Ad revenue to support blogging can be done, but there is another option you can consider…
You can focus on obtaining freelance, part-time, or even full-time work as a writer for major publications.
While you probably need some kind of short list of accomplishments and certifications or the like, an actual resume is no longer important when it comes to finding a meaningful job.
The work you do online will be what defines you if you’re looking for quality work in the online world. If you’re writing a blog then your posts are your resume. The way your blog looks represents you and the quality of work you share with your audience.
What Publishers Want
The ability to steadily grow an audience that cares about what you have to say is huge when it comes to publishers that are looking for quality writers. They want to build their own audience as large as possible since their revenue is built on advertising and subscribers (which compete against each other in my opinion).
Prove that you can consistently write interesting content while steadily growing a loyal audience and you’ll be a prime candidate for publishers – online and offline.
What Publishers’ Readers Want
As a way to focus your writing for the publisher audience it would make sense to pick out a handful of publications you would imagine working for and write your content with their readers in mind.
Say for example you choose Field & Stream as a place where you could blog.
Figure out what the readers of Field & Stream are interested in reading. Go beyond the obvious (they like fishing and hunting). Think about the details they like reading.
Look at the articles already being published in the print magazine and on the online blogs. What are the most popular articles on the Field & Stream Website? Learn what their audience is already craving regarding online content and write some posts using their successful patterns.
The most popular articles from my own quick look at the site points to lists, how-to articles, and good stories about hunting and fishing that strike an emotional nerve with readers.
Figure out the publications you’d like to write for and work to find the article formulas that will attract the attention of their readers. The publication’s decision makers will take notice if you’re attracting their audience.
And also link to their articles and mention the publication’s name…the decision makers will get notices if they’re apt at the online world and they’ll check you out.
Reality of Profits
Now, before getting all excited about the prospects of a new writing job for Field & Stream please remember that most writers don’t become millionaires.
However, it’s possible to turn your love of writing about the outdoors into a decent secondary source or in the best case a primary source of income for a comfortable lifestyle.
Writing and publishing articles on your own blog is a great way to build your archives and build you understanding of the type of content people are interested in. As a result of this knowledge, you’ll be able to potentially land some writing jobs that can lead to some good secondary income.
If you wish, there are also opportunities to write content that people are willing to purchase. You could write a how-to book and share the profits with a major publisher. You can use their clout to help you promote the content (say for example a book) while giving them some of the revenue in return.
Deer & Deer Hunting has a great collection of how-to books on deer hunting. They do research and analyses on everything to do with deer hunting and avid hunters pay a good deal of money to read what their writers have to say.
You can take a similar approach as your grow you audience and begin understanding the type of content they would be willing purchase.
Making profits online is difficult in the sense of advertising and affiliate revenue.
And while making secondary income by becoming employed as a writer for other publishers is difficult as well, it may be a more obtainable goal for most bloggers.
Growing an audience takes time and ad and affiliate revenue require large audiences. Most bloggers will simply give up and not be willing to put in the time and effort to grow a huge audience that can generate substantial secondary income.
Try focusing on a gaining some income from writing for other publishers and you might be able to turn your hobby into a real source of secondary income sooner.
What are your thoughts?
Do you have experience with writing for other publishers?
I’m not sure if ESPN was the originator, but the world’s most popular sports news network knows how to keep their viewers’ attention even when their current segment isn’t that interesting.
The bottom line sports ticker was a great way to keep viewers’ attention with updates even if a particular set of the audience isn’t interested in the main story being addressed by the sportscasters.
The strategy worked well with sports fans as most only want updates on their team. If the main story being headlined had to do with anything other than some viewers’ team, those viewers were likely to look to other sources for updates on how their team was doing. With the sports ticker, those fans could stay tuned to a particular staying waiting for their teams’ update and score to scroll across the bottom. It was a great way for sports stations to keep viewers by providing a value-adding service.
Online Websites are starting to take notice to the bottom line sports ticker of TV stations like ESPN by broadcasting updates and promoting other content with a ticker or some kind of update section while the main content is still being headlined.
Let’s take a look at a few of the sites that are taking advantage of the ticker update and look at a few ways you can take advantage of the ticker strategy for your own blog or Website.
One Site Using the Ticker
Some Websites understand that keeping the attention of visitors is important to driving revenue. As a result, these sites are using strategies to that add value to what a visitor may value even when the interests vary from person to person.
National Football Post
The National Football Post entered a competitive arena when they started providing expert commentary and news updates for NFL fans on the Web.
The site has had impressive growth since its launch due in large part to their unique expert commentary from various experts and view points in the world of the NFL:
* Player Perspective – Matt Bowen – Former NFL Safety
About a year after the site launched they did design overall and introduced their version of the update ticker.
The bottom line ticker of the National Football Post scrolls through the news updates that the site updates regularly with news from around the NFL. The ticker is always at the bottom of every viewer’s screen (unless the viewer closes the large version of the ticker). As I mentioned before, NFP provides expert articles and podcasts for NFL fans and these articles are their main attraction. For an example read:
However, certain NFL fans are going to visit the site looking for news related to their team. While the biggest news of the day is usually covered in the headline section of the site and while other important news is highlighted to the right of the page under Hot News & Rumors there are still updates that certain viewers want to see.
This is where the National Football Post implements their bottom screen ticker. Fans can come to the NFP, read their articles while watching the bottom ticker for news updates on their favorite team.
Ways to Take Advantage
Every blog and Website can become a source of news and updates by shaping their own form of the bottom line ticker.
The ticker doesn’t have to be at the bottom of the Web page and it doesn’t have to be as up-to-the-minute as the ESPN ticker. What your site’s version of the ticker has to provide is short snapshots of content that your viewers will find valuable.
One of the easiest ways to do this is to use embed the Twitter Widget on your site. If you regularly provide valuable updates via your Twitter feed, you can embed your update widget on your site. This way, while your visitors are reading your headline content, they can see what your last few Twitter updates have been. Perhaps the main article just isn’t of interest to them as they get deeper into the article (it happens and it’s alright), but they see that you’ve highlighted an article from your archives on Twitter and their interest is again piqued. Perhaps they’ll click on the link from the embedded Twitter feed and go to the archive.
There are lots of ways to highlight content on your site while your readers are reading your current content. You could have an area to the side of your blog posts that continually scrolls through your archives, popular posts, most commented posts, etc. You could have a bottom line ticker like the National Football Post has, but yours could scroll through the best comments on your site. This would be a great way to highlight your readers.
The only limit to what you can do is your own imagination.
The benefit of using something like a bottom line ticker is to provide value to your visitors when they may not be interested in the current content you’re highlighting on your site.
ESPN has used their bottom line ticker to provide updates, including scoring updates, to their viewers so that viewers don’t change the channel when all they want is an update on their favorite team.
The National Football Post has taken this cue from ESPN and implemented their own version of the bottom ticker on their page. The NFP version provides hot news and rumors from around the NFL so that while visitors are reading the in-depth articles written by the expert staff they can still stay updated on what’s happening around the NFL including news about their favorite teams.
You can use the bottom line ticker strategy for your own site. Visitors won’t always be interested in your current highlighted content, but don’t lose their interest completely. Highlight your content in other ways to keep their attention.
Keeping interest will lead to growth with your site while providing value to your visitors.
Alan Jackson is one of my all-time favorite singers and songwriters. With his music and words, he tells simple stories that pull all emotions out of listeners. Jackson tells stories of family, growing up, girls, appreciating the simple wonders in life, and all the struggles along the way that make us appreciate all the good. After 20 years, 15 albums, 25 number one singles, and 50 million albums Alan Jackson is still playing for sold-out stadiums and recording hit music. Sometime in the late 1980s, Jackson came up with the title and main hook for one of his biggest hit singles, Don’t Rock the Jukebox.
I think it’s an apt comparison to look at the song writing process and the blog writing process. Writers for both communication mediums look for a content format, a voice, and a marketing effort to put their versions of life’s little stories into the minds of specific audiences.
I’m always fascinated by the stories behind the songs we learn to love. There always seems to be a unique story of inspiration behind the best songs. It’s usually something unexpected that occurs that sparks creativity in the songwriter and the magic takes over after that as the writer(s) format their inspiration into words and music that will connect with an audience looking for inspiration themselves.
Let’s take a look at how you can use the same technique for your blog writing…
In How to Write a Blog Post I discuss that it’s important to start with the title of a blog post when you set out to write a post for your audience. However, coming up with an inspiring title is often the most difficult part of writing a blog post even though it may seem like it would be the easiest.
In songwriting, it seems that some of the best songs titles or hooks, come out of single moments of inspiration – eureka moments. The idea for Don’t Rock the Jukebox came at an unexpected time for Alan Jackson, but he was able to recognize the clever lyric and put it to a good country melody.
Inspiration for your blog titles can come from any source and at any moment in time. Hanging out with friends, family or co-workers can potentially lead to some conversation that will result in a classic blog title. When you’re sitting in your tree stand watching the woodland critters runaround can spark a thought that can turn into your best blog post.
Opportunities for great blog titles happen each day in your life and the reason they often lead to the best blog posts are because your own experiences are often similar to those of your audience. And when you take a clever outlook on something that happens to you in your life it’s likely your audience will connect with your message.
Alan Jackson realized he had a clever hook with Don’t Rock the Jukebox. He also must have realized that he and his audience all shared the same outlook on music – Don’t rock the jukebox/I want to hear some Jones.
Be aware of your inspirational moments and write about your passions. This is how you’ll connect with your audience through blogging.
Let it flow
Sometimes the titles you come up with using this method of inspiration will tend to be a little strange or even on the edge of ridiculous. Don’t worry, let your supporting thoughts flow as your outline your blog post and fill in the body with content that builds on the idea you came up with when you wrote the blog title.
I think the writer’s at Copyblogger have a great knack for writing posts based on clever blog titles. Some of their titles border on ridiculous, but they know who their audience is (bloggers) and it’s for this reason that the titles usually make sense to readers while also standing out as interesting titles that readers can’t help but click on when browsing the Web for content.
I’m sure that when Alan Jackson sat down with his producer, Keith Stegall and co-writer Roger Murrah there were a few laughs shared as they thought about the clever hook they were basing a country song on. However, out of this writing session came a song that captured an emotion the audience shared and the writers and musicians were able to capture a mood that the audience wanted to hear repeatedly for many years.
When you come up with a great idea for a blog post let your imagination and creativity run. Let your thoughts flow as you get caught up in the moment of capturing inspiration with words. When artificial barriers don’t hinder your true feelings and emotions you’ll see that the points you express will connect with others who share your same worldviews and sentiments towards the topic of discussion.
Let your creativity flow as you take a seemingly ridiculous title and create a passionate blog post.
Coming up with clever, eye-catching, and relevant blog titles is no easy task. Yet if you can learn a few tricks from writers, you can figure out ways to make sure you’re capturing all of the wonderful blog post ideas that happen around you each day.
Songwriters come up with clever song titles (or hooks) to songs at times when they least expect it, yet they’re always ready to at least jot down an idea so they can build on the idea later. Alan Jackson recognized a quality country song title with Don’t Rock the Jukebox at a moment he probably least expected. He kept the title in mind and later let the creativity flow as he sat down with his songwriting partners. The result was a catchy, classic country song that still finds relevance with audiences today.
Inspiration can strike at any moment when it comes to songwriting and blog titles. Will you be ready to capture the moment the next you’re sitting in front of your computer, hands on the keyboard when all of a sudden somebody bumps your hands and you say…
Don’t Rock the Blog Title
I wouldn’t leave you hanging without sharing a video of the story behind the great country song Don’t Rock the Jukebox on CMT.
We were playing this little truck stop lounge in Virginia. I took a break and walked over to the jukebox and Roger, our bass player, was over there and one of the legs was broken off the jukebox and it was wobbling around and he looked over at me and said…
I heard a new song on the radio a short while ago as I was driving home. The first thing that caught my attention was the melody. Then I started listening to the lyrics and they really stuck out to me as unique.
The song was Red Light and I wasn’t sure exactly who the artist was.
Being the inquisitive person that I am, I went home and immediately looked up the song and found that the artist was David Nail.
Now, two things stood out about this song and David Nail and the interesting thing is that both of these things relate to entrepreneurship and blogging:
Going against common beliefs and understandings
Let’s dig deeper into how they relate…
Go against common beliefs and understandings
Red Light is interesting and turns every country music song cliché on its head.
If you listen to the lyrics of the song you’ll realize that the storyteller, in this case David Nail, is talking about his girlfriend breaking up with him.
The interesting thing is that he realizes that he didn’t think it would be sunny and nice outside when it happened. He always assumed that when someone breaks up with you that it’s raining or dark or any of the other visions we all get when we listen to breakup songs.
He also notices that others’ lives are seemingly happy around him while his life is coming crashing down and changing as he knows it.
I like this song number one because it has a great rolling melody, but I’ve been listening to it over and over again lately because I love how the song’s story puts a new twist on our thoughts about breakups and yet the lyrics still make sense.
It’s always important when you do something different that it still makes sense to people.
I hope this song will be a big hit for David Nail. I think he’s found a good song here that stood out to listeners on the radio and other channels of communication on the Web and people are connecting with the message and the new twist on something that affects us all.
An important thing to remember whether you’re launching a new hunting business, a new product, a new service or if you’re just trying to increase your presence on the Web is that you have to stand out a little bit so your audience will notice.
Sometimes to stand out you can do something that completely turns your audience’s current understanding on its head.
That’s how the best ideas and innovations often come to be – people come up with things that seem completely new, but make perfect sense.
It could be something as easy as writing about a topic for your hunting business on your blog and taking a new direction with the post.
There are lots of ways you can do things completely new and different that will stand out for your audience.
If you’d like, you can share your ideas for doing things different in the comments.
Another thing I thought about after I figured out that David Nail was the singer of Red Light was the fact that I remembered him from a few years ago.
For a few summers I worked at the Wausau Country Club in Wausau, Wisconsin and I remember working in the bag room listening to the radio in the summer of 2002 and a new song came on the radio called Memphis. I remember it was brand new and I think the disc jockey was actually doing one of those song versus song deals where people call in and vote for their favorite.
I remember hearing Memphis that day and thinking it was a pretty good song, but after that I never really heard it again (it must have lost that day).
Well here we are seven years later (an eternity in the music business) and David Nail got a second change on a major record label to fulfill his dream of being a country star.
It’s a neat story of persistence.
I’m sure most people would have given up somewhere along the line in those seven years, given up on their dreams after the initial shot at the big time didn’t pan out. It would be easy to lose confidence, go back home and take up a simple job and live until you die.
Maybe it’s because David Nail really loves singing and playing music, maybe music is all he really knows how to do, or maybe it’s a combination of both.
Well I’m glad he stuck with his dream and I hope it works out for him because I as an entrepreneur I can relate to his struggles and persistence.
It’s always a struggle with most things in life worth achieving.
Things usually don’t work out the first time or even subsequent times. It’s often those determined (or crazy) enough to stick it out trying to reach their goals that find ultimate success and happiness.
When you’re trying new things to stand out on the Web you’re going to hit road blocks and things are going to happen that might break your confidence a little.
Don’t worry about it too much. Things are always up and down in business and on the Web and just because something doesn’t work out as you plan today doesn’t mean you won’t find success in the future.
I was happy to hear David Nail back on the radio with Red Light.
The song stood out among the other noise on the radio because it took a different approach to a subject that affects us all at some point in our lives.
It was also good to hear David on the radio too because it was seven years ago since I had last heard about him.
He was able to keep persistent and make his dream come true and while Red Light is still climbing the charts I hope it launches him into superstardom.
You too can succeed by learning from the route that David took to find his niche for success in country music.
Find your niche and stand out by doing things just a little different than everybody else and stick with it until you start gaining traction.
The other day, Kendall Card (@Camofire) of Camofire.com sent me (@DayneShuda) a message via Twitter.
He was excited about blog commenting activity that occurred on Camofire’s site over a weekend. Kendall had some great back and forth conversation with Camofire clients and there seemed to be some meaningful connections being made.
This gave me the idea for a new series here at Hunting Business Marketing – Successful Hunting Business Highlight.
I’m happy to have Camofire.com be the first success story featured.
Let’s take a look at why Camofire.com (and Kendall) succeeded…
Camofire.com is set up so that each day there is a hunting product available to purchase at ridiculously low prices (way below retail).
Each day you can visit the site or sign up for daily email alerts via the Daily Shooter to get the latest deals on hunting gear.
What’s great about this payment model is that it’s unique and memorable. Plus, customers get caught up in the action. You can see comments on the Camofire.com Blog (more below) where customers are talking about hitting Refresh over and over (Just like Ebay…) waiting for an item to sell out so they can look at the next item.
The process is very involved and it’s this experience (along with quality products and good participating by the people involved with the business like Kendall) that lead to loyal customers and long-term success on the Web.
Check out the Camofire.com blog, the Camofire Forum, for more product descriptions and conversation.
There were a ton of great comments on the blog and Kendall was right there the entire time connecting with the customers. He was answering their questions and providing valuable information about Camofire.com and Sitka.
He was thankful for referrals, mentions, and comments left by all of the participants.
This is a great example of successful hunting business marketing.
This particular Sitka Saturday was so successful that Kendall and the team at Camofire.com had to extend it to Sunday (thankfully they had inventory).
Benefits of Using a Blog
This use of a blog by Camofire.com and Kendall is a great example of how a blog can be a valuable resource not only for a hunting business, but also for the customers of a hunting business.
The connections and conversation that took place on the Sitka Saturday post were fun, involving, and valuable for all parties involved.
This is the type of connection that defines what the Web is all about.
Having a blog for your hunting business is about forming meaningful connections with your customers that will ultimately lead to long-term, mutually beneficial business relationships where your goods and services are provided for your customer’s hard-earned money.
A blog, as Camofire.com and Kendall show, is one of the best ways to communicate and connect with your customers. It’s especially important to be interactive. The customers of Camofire.com love that Kendall was right there with them responding to their comments. It made them feel connected to the company and likely pushed a few over the edge in deciding to purchase hunting products from Camofire.com.
I’ve written about the importance of having a blog for your hunting business before:
Let’s take a look at a few more ways you can do “something a little more” with your hunting business on the Web to gain the attention of hunters.
Images, Graphics, and Photos
If you have read one or two posts on this blog, you’ve probably noticed that I like to use photos in every post. I think they add some visual interest to the written content. I try to relate the photo to the topic of the post as best as I can, but sometimes I just pick photos I like. 🙂
I have even highlighted photos specifically in some of the hunting business posts:
Images, graphics, and photos add a little extra something to blog posts and Websites. Your visitors and potential customers do not only learn about your business with your text content.
Hunting businesses do a pretty good job with showing images and photos on their sites. Hunters love photos because the photos tell stories. Photos can especially bring about memories even if the photo isn’t of your own memory.
Images make us all feel emotions and that includes the buying emotion. A quality image, graphic or photo may be just the little extra something you need to convince your customers that your business is the answer they’re looking for.
I’m a big fan of the Creative Commons License. Most of the photos you see on this blog are used with the convenience of the Creative Commons License. All of the content on this site is licensed under Creative Commons as well. This means you can use any and all of the content here with attribution.
You can use the Creative Commons License to share content on your site that adds a something more to the content you create.
Your Own Photos
As I mentioned above, you can use photos you shoot or that you have taken by a photographer to showcase the benefits of your business for your target audience.
Take some photos to show your customers the value your business can add to their lives as hunters. Photos can add visual evidence on top of your text that may be what convinces your customer to request your services or product.
Graphic images are creations of artists using computer software or something hand drawn. If you find that your competitors’ sites are full of good photos and it would be difficult for you to stand out, try creating some unique graphics with computer software or with your own hands. If you don’t have the ability or the time to create the graphics yourself, there are tons of wonderful designers (Sarah Hicks) you can get in touch with who will turn your visions into remarkable graphic images that make you and your business stand out.
Video and Audio
Video and audio content are two more ways you can add something more to your blog or Website.
You can create your own video and audio content or you can use the content of others and use it (with permission or attribution) to enhance the value your content provides your target audience.
I like to occasionally use videos from You Tube on this site to add a little something more to the content I write.
Here are a few of those posts (Some of the videos may not work as embedded content since some intellectual property owners don’t believe in sharing their content with people who may otherwise never discover it):
It’s easy to share videos on your Website or blog with services like You Tube. There is also plenty of existing video content on these video sharing sites for you to use to enhance the value you provide your customers with the content you create.
You can also create video content of your own and share it on your site (via services like You Tube or via your own video software).
Audio content is similar to video content except there is obviously no visual involved with audio.
A few ways you can do something more with audio content to stand out is to record interviews with relevant experts. Find the people your customers want to hear from and ask these experts the questions your customers would like answers. Then you can post your audio content on your site so you listeners can download it with iTunes and listen at work or in the car. Also include the audio content on your site so your customers can easily share your audio and listen to it on your site.
Another way you can do something more with your Website or blog is to share your own subjective thought.
People will pay attention (and often pay) for others to interpret information and provide subjective thoughts on matters that are important to them.
Don’t be afraid to share your thoughts, insight and opinions when it comes to interpreting news, facts, or happenings as it relates to you, your customer, and your business. Be confident that you’re an expert in your specific field of the hunting industry. You do have insight and something more to offer your target audience.
Provide your own and unique thoughts on the things affecting your target customers and you’ll stand out from your competition.
In a similar vein as providing your own thoughts, sharing edgy content is another way you can do something more to make yourself and your business stand out.
Find a way to discuss your thoughts on the topics in your specific area of the hunting industry that your competitors are afraid to address. If there are controversial topics concerning your niche in the hunting industry than you can be sure your customers have their own questions and concerns.
Be their source of information. Provide valuable and thoughtful insight for their benefit. They may not all agree with you, but most will respect you if you take a stance based on your principles. Show that you have the best interest of your customers in mind and your customers will be passionate about your company. People appreciate it when businesses show (not just tell) that they’re willing to do something more for the customers’ benefit.
There are things you can do to make your business stand out from the competition.
Content such as photos, images, and graphics can add visual interest to the content you create on your site. There are lots of ways to take advantage of the visual content others create such as Creative Commons (CC works for all content, not just visual). You can also create your own unique visual content or have a designer make graphics and visuals that enhance the vision you’re trying to present to your customers.
Video and audio are two more ways you can do something more for your customers. Listen to what your customers are asking you to provide and try enhancing the solution to their problems with video and/or audio. It might be just enough to make your business stand out and lead to a new sale.
The final example of how you can do something more to provide value for your customers is to address topics while providing your unique thoughts and subjective insight. People like subjective thought and it stands out on the Web because most businesses go with the middle of the road, watered down, politically correct thought.
Don’t take the easy way out – be subjective.
Most of these little things do take extra time and effort, but with competition for attention so fierce on the Web, it’s definitely worth it to make sure your Website stands out from the rest. And to stand out you might have to do “something a little more”.
I don’t particularly favor the phrasing of this description, however.
I prefer to think of Robin Hood as a patriot of the individual. He robbed the political elite to give back that which was originally stolen from the individuals of a society. It’s the political tyrants, kings, and monarchs who steal through taxes, fees, inflation (debasement of coins or notes), and other methods of capital consumption.
Robin Hood simply worked to return what rightly belonged to the hard-working individuals of the Nottinghamshire (Sherwood Forest).
My theory of course cannot be proven. Robin Hood simply could have been a common thief who stole from hard-working individuals to give to other hard-working individuals, but I like to believe my theory.
Tyranny has always been a common theme in the history of the world and as long as there has been tyranny there have been patriots who have stolen the hearts of individuals as heroes.
But this post is not about tyranny.
I’d like to highlight a few ways you can use the Robin Hood Approach to help build your blog.
Stealing from the Rich
One of the things individuals are willing to pay for is the interpretation of information. We are all looking for insight into the world around us. We want to be told what to think about the various occurrences, facts, and happenings in our lives. Sure, we try to figure it out on our own usually, but the interpretation from others is usually where we look for understanding.
So, in regards to blogging, ‘stealing from the rich’ simply means looking at the information experts in a given field provide and interpreting them for your followers.
For example, you’re an outfitter and the recent hunting statistics have come out for your area. Numbers are just numbers, but what your potential clients might be looking for is the meaning of the numbers. What does the harvest count mean to them? How does it affect your property? Or, what are the crops statistics for your area this year? How will the crops affect the wildlife on and around your property? What do the statistics mean for your entire area?
People look for interpretation.
By ‘stealing from the rich’ (taking information from experts or official reports) and providing your own thoughts and insight, you are creating something valuable for your readers.
Help your readers understand what the world means around them and you’ll be on your way to deep connections and hopefully win-win profit scenarios.
Giving to the Poor
One of the things I’m a big fan of is the Freemium business model.
Just as Robin Hood felt he needed to give back to individuals in his community, those who use the Freemium model for blogging or content creation feel they need to give something to their followers.
By providing some of your insight and expertise free of charge you are showing a willingness to share and provide value to the hunting community.
Now, maybe all Robin Hood wanted from his giving was recognition or perhaps it simply made him feel good about himself, but it also works for businesses-for-profit. By giving away some of your content for free, you can entice your followers to perhaps buy your book, pay for deeper and more valuable blog posts or articles, or to belong to group of like-minded individuals who share insight into the online hunting world.
Giving to the poor is important.
Your followers are not poor in the sense of monetary needs – they are poor in the sense they are starving for interpretation and information that will add value to their lives.
Give it to them and perhaps you’ll be rewarded for your kindness.
Robin Hood was known as an excellent archer. It helped to grow his legend.
The thing about being an expert in something is that you show your willingness to work to be the best. It doesn’t matter if it’s archery, blogging, forum conversations, etc. If you show that you are willing to work to the point of being an expert at something, people will respond and seek you out (and often pay for your services).
Just as Robin Hood worked to be the best archer he could, you need to work to be the best in your chosen hunting niche. When people are looking for information and interpretation they will seek the source they find most credible.
If you’re the expert, they’ll come to you.
The Power of the Individual
“The Sheriff calls us outlaws, but I say we are free! And one free man defending his home is more powerful than ten hired soldiers. The Crusades taught me that. I will make you no promises, save one: that when you truly believe in your hearts that you’re free, then I say we can win!” Robin of Locksley (Kevin Costner) from the film adaptation Robin Hood: Prince of Thieves (1991).
The true power and magic of blogging or creating content does not come from a hired writer. You can’t pay for content and expect to get the same results you will if you create the content on your own. Your intentions, of course, are profit-driven for yourself or for your business, but there is an importance difference.
When you pay for writers to create content, whether freelance or in-house, the writer most-likely will not create quality content for your blog or Website unless they would first be willing to write the content for the benefit of your followers. It’s a tricky situation to find the right writer who knows exactly what your blog or site is about and who can focus on writing content that is valuable to your followers.
Now, I’m not saying hiring people, in-house or freelance, is bad. Both are essential for building a strong collection of content that you can build a profit stream from. The important thing to remember is that the focus should always remain win-win where your customers win by gaining valuable and beneficial knowledge that will allow them to improve their lives as well as provide value for you – whether it is for profit or pride.
When you yourself write content, you are creating something of value for your followers. As the leader of your blog or Website, you likely know what your customers would like to know. With a blog, you are working to build a profitable connection with your followers. You want to improve their lives while improving your own.
You and individuals within you business are defending your unique points-of-view. You are creating content for the right reasons – to benefit all parties.
This is more powerful than any number of “hired” writers you could find to simply build content on your blog or site.
Robin Hood’s most enduring quality was his willingness to improve the lives of those around him. He worked to protect individuals’ right to pursue their own happiness. He robbed tyrants to give back capital to individuals.
With blogging, your vision should be to improve the lives of your followers. Work to provide the most benefit to your customers and you’ll be rewarded with respect and profit.
There is no trick to blogging, but taking a few tips with a unique perspective just might give you the understanding you need to succeed.
John Mellencamp’s career has been one of the most unique paths to success for any individual. He was signed at a young age and put out a few records that failed to catch on. He was young, married with a child, and doing everything he and his band could do to make it as a rock star.
He eventually found his niche making a hometown, garage band breed of music that came from his heart.
He touched a generation in the ‘80s and ‘90s and when that generation had kids, John’s music lived on and touched an entire new legion of fans.
While John’s biggest hits were occurring when I was only a young child, I remember hearing his songs on classic rock stations. His voice and ability had the rare trait of standing out on the radio or anything that played music.
He’s a true individual.
So what can a hunting business owner learn from John Mellencamp?
Let’s take a journey through his career and connect the dots between Johnny Cougar and the hunting industry.
Johnny Cougar (Doing whatever it takes)
John’s early career consisted of spending time playing in the typical barrooms and taverns. He was living in Indiana and traveling to New York to try and make the right connections that could land him a recording contract.
It wasn’t too long before he met the right people and landed his first record deal. A young guy with a recording contract and the power of a big label should have meant big things right?
Not for Johnny Cougar (John claims the name was done without him knowing).
After some unsuccessful albums he was released from the big label.
John eventually landed on Riva Records (Rod Stewart’s manager was founder) and found some success with a single (I Need a Lover) in Australia.
Another record followed that John says he isn’t proud of and then things started to get interesting…
Just like you, I, and every other hunting entrepreneur, John started out with a dream to make it big. He was willing to do anything it took to become successful.
Now it seems there are 3 ways to make it big no matter what you’re trying to succeed at:
Long struggle, never catch on big, but have a small following
Long slow climb to the top
John’s career had an early burst of success followed by a just-as-fast decline.
You may experience the same career path as John or you may create your own path via a similar approach to one of the three mentioned above.
It really doesn’t matter the path you take because yours will be truly unique.
What matters is your unrelenting drive to succeed.
Johnny Cougar could have given up after being dropped from the major label deal at a young age. He had had a taste of the big time with a short bomb of a career.
I’m sure there were a lot of people in John’s life telling him he couldn’t make it after that incident.
Are there people telling you the same thing?
Don’t let them.
Continue doing what you love and continue working for your success.
Your own career might start to get interesting itself…
American Fool (“3 good songs…and…filler”)
As with all legends, whether it’s rock stars, inventors, writers, entertainers, whatever: there comes a point when their lifelong work of experimenting and expanding into the unknown finds something that strikes people as unique yet impactful.
When successful people make it big it’s the result of many failures and one big success.
The true great ones continue to fail and succeed for their entire career.
The trick is to continue expanding yourself while trying to hit on something that connects with people.
When Johnny Cougar released American Fool he called it an album of “3 good songs…and…filler”. This is an interesting take on an album that would become of the staples of American popular culture in the 1980s.
So what did John find that connected with people?
The songs Hurt So Good and Jack and Diane were catchy, fun, sing-a-long, relatable, and unique.
There was nothing on the radio (No MySpace radio in 1982) that sounded like Hurt So Good. This song connected with adults (memories), teens (good times), and kids (sing-a-long melody).
Even though the rest of American Fool may have been “filler”, the two impactful songs on the album allowed John to stumble on his niche. He had found something that connected with people.
He had found his formula for success. The rest of his career would be spent refining the formula while continuing to experiment with new things.
The way John Mellencamp made it big was by testing, experimenting, and continually pushing the limits of the status quo until he found what connected with people.
The difference between you and the others that give up in your wake is your ability to continue to innovate until you find the formula that connects with the hunting audience.
Where others fail and quit, you will fail and continue failing knowing that no matter what you will eventually find something remarkable.
For the hundreds and thousands of oh-so-close rock stars there are only a few John Mellencamps.
You have to be willing to take the failure that comes before success. And then you have to be willing to accept more failure while building up your success.
I always like to refer to the story of LL Bean. When the original LL Bean catalog was sent out there were 100 orders. Of those 100 orders, 90 were sent back to Bean due to faulty construction. This would ruin most start-ups right? Not LL Bean. He took out another loan from a friend, rebuilt the boots and sent them back out to his new customers. And as they say, the rest is history.
Don’t give up before you reach your success formula.
And once you find it, continue building on your success all the while continuing to expand your own creativity.
John Mellencamp (Branding)
Johnny Cougar becomes John Cougar Mellencamp becomes John Mellencamp
The next seemingly logical step in the John Mellencamp Guide to Hunting Industry Success would be to talk about his string of hits through the rest of the ‘80s and into the ‘90s.
But that isn’t my style.
I’d like to take a step back and chat about the branding behind John Mellencamp.
Despite John’s claim that he wasn’t behind the handle Johnny Cougar, it stuck with him through his breakthrough success.
He may not have liked the name, but he did continue using it for awhile.
It’s an interesting case of branding. The record label that John was on obviously thought the name “Cougar” would be more marketable than Mellencamp. When he moved to his second label he became simply John Cougar instead of Johnny.
This lasted through American Fool until John convinced them too change it to John Cougar Mellencamp. And eventually with 1991’s Whenever We Wanted he became John Mellencamp.
It took John a long time to change his brand name, but during his entire career he was building his actual brand.
So how important is a name?
Your business name your actual name are what people call you. This has lead to some confusion throughout John’s career as some people still call him Johnny Cougar.
But what all of his fans recognize (no matter what they call him) is his music and his energy.
People connect with John and his music – not his name.
It’s often said that the most important part of starting a business is the name.
But is it really?
Sure your name is important for memory, uniqueness, and even things online such as SEO. But what is your audience really finding when they discover what you and your business have to offer?
They’re discovering your content, your product, or your service.
They will call the thing they discover by whatever name you slap on it, but what they actually remember is the thing itself and how it benefits them.
Your focus needs to be on the benefit you provide your audience – not on a name.
Figure out what you can create that will add benefit to your audience and then create the name, logo, and marketing designs to complement and take it to the next level.
The design and marketing of your product is just as important, but don’t forget about your customer. Let the design of you logo and other marketing designs connect with your customer and with you and your business.
Once you figure out what you and your business are about you can seek the help of great designers to help make your product attract even more people to your audience.
Farm Aid (Giving back)
In 1985 John helped start Farm Aid. The concerts have raised tons of money and more importantly they’ve raised awareness for the local farming community – something that used to be a staple of American production.
The motive was pure, some of the methods were not, but either way John was doing the best he could to give back to his audience.
He wanted to provide more than just a musical voice for individuals around the nation that connected with him.
Giving back in a charitable way is not far from what your business focus should be in the first place. In business, you’re trying to provide something that will improve the well-being of a customer. In return for your hard work you are hoping to benefit yourself through payment of some kind. You aren’t forcing anyone to give you anything. You are trying to take what the world gives you and create something of use for someone else and in exchange you expect the same.
Giving back for charitable reasons has the same concept, but what you expect as payment is self-gratification. You feel good when you do something beneficial for someone else. It makes you happy when others are happy.
Giving back is important – both for profit and not for profit.
The lesson is to always put your audience and your customer first no matter which goal you have for yourself.
Johnny Cougar certainly has had an interesting journey to success to become the John Mellencamp we know and love today.
His lessons of struggle, success, more struggle, and ultimate legendary status can be inspiration for any business owner including someone like you who wants to reach ultimate success in the hunting industry.
It’s nice once and again to look outside of our normal perspective and learn from the lives of others.
The one lesson I take from John’s success is to focus on what your audience wants and never stop until you succeed.
Accept and learn from failure.
Ultimately you will succeed.
And now…a list of great Johnny Cougar songs [all videos]:
I have definitely been on the receiving end of too much promise with no delivery and I’m sure I’ve been on the other end as well (my apologies to those I’ve shorted).
In today’s world, the Web provides customers with an unlimited number of replacement products and services.
As much as we like to think we’re the only one in a certain industry, it’s simply not reality. Even if you’re the first company to do something in a field there will soon be companies that copy your exact formula and improve on your formula.
So it’s important to remember who your customer is and to under promise and over deliver on those promises by surprising them with remarkable content, products and services.
A few quick tips for hunting businesses on how to stay ahead of the competition
Never stop thinking and sharing ideas (of how you can help your customer)
I work for a footwear catalog company and it has really been a great learning experience for me. When I applied and interviewed for the job of a catalog manager I had no idea what I was doing. My boss gave me the opportunity of a lifetime and I’ll be forever thankful.
As a result of my job, I’ve learned that thinking of new ideas, strategies, and tactics is one of the best ways to improve a catalog, email, and Website images.
Basically all I try to do at my job is to encourage the designers (the true artists) to experiment and try a lot of new things. I do my best to give some direction, but really I know very little about how to design remarkable creative so I’d probably be fired without them.
They continually come up with new and edgy images and ideas. It’s great for me and I hope that they get benefit out of the process as well.
For hunting businesses, I’d suggest to continually go to your customers with new ideas, new experiments, and new procedures.
Don’t wait for your customer to come to you with a problem.
By the time they come to you it’s probably too late.
Listen to what they’re saying and answer their problems before they even know they have a problem.
It sounds simple, but I can attest that A LOT of businesses do not attempt to do more than their contract requires.
The people and the businesses that do the simple extra steps are the ones I see as valuable and the ones customers really value for their needs.
Keep consistent communication on the progress of a project
One of my pet peeves is businesses that don’t keep me in the loop when it comes to a project I’ve hired them to do.
Sure I probably come across as an annoying customer, but don’t customers have the right?
Shouldn’t businesses expect customers to be annoying?
Should businesses beat their customers to the punch and contact them at every step of the way before the customer starts wondering what’s going on?
Even if you think it might not mean much, you’re at least giving your customer some play-by-play information to keep them in the loop.
The work you’re doing may seem unimportant to you, but to your customer it is very relevant.
I’m seeing in today’s world that the businesses on the Web that actually listen to the customers are the ones who are succeeding. The businesses that put themselves first are the ones who do not succeed in their transition to the Web (newspapers anyone?).
Focus on your customers and put them first.
Focus on keeping consistent contact with your customers. It may seem silly to you, but to your customer it will be very valuable.
Don’t give your customer any reason to leave you and go to the next competitor.
Top Gun is full of memorable characters. The flick is overstuffed with quotable lines and even karaoke numbers.
People still connect with the characters in this movie.
Your goal for your business should be to create your own character and connect with characters to build up your audience. Create characters within your business.
And just as the F-14 was a character in the movie Top Gun, your products should be characters too.
To gain a better understanding of the movie producing duo’s success…
Here’s the Simpson/Bruckheimer guide to characters
Characters Appear Larger Than Life
While it’s easy to appear larger than life on the big screen, the characters that Simpson and Bruckheimer focused their movies on did live life larger than most.
Live your life large on the Web. Meet new people. Engage them with conversation. Ask them questions. Make them feel like they’re the most important person in the world.
Do this and to them you’ll be a larger than life character.
Characters Do Strange Things
Have you ever played volleyball in blue jeans in the Southern California heat? I haven’t, but I can only imagine that it wouldn’t be very comfortable. But it sure looks cool. And the ladies apparently like it when you flex while checking your wrist watch.
These are strange character traits, but they stand out to observers.
In order to stand out on the Web you’ll have to create your own unique nuances. Create your own unique voice on your blog.
This is how you’ll stand out and attract an audience.
Characters Have Flaws
In the Simpson/Bruckheimer movies the characters had flaws. By showing these flaws, S/B allowed the audience to relate to the characters.
Flaws show the human side of larger than life characters. Flaws allow audience members to see themselves in the characters. And if the audience can relate to the characters’ flaws they can relate to their successful attributes as well.
This is empowering.
Don’t be afraid to show your flaws on the Web. You’re not perfect and nobody expects you to be.
Your audience will relate to you if they see you as equally human.
And if they can relate to your flaws they’ll also be inspired by your success.
Most Importantly, Characters are Memorable
More than anything the characters in the S/B movies were memorable. For all of the reasons mentioned above these characters will stick in our memories forever.
We and others will remember the songs, the lines, and the nuances of the characters.
True characters are memorable.
In order to have a successful business on the Web you’ll have to make yourself memorable. You’ll have to work to build your own character.
You want people to quote you; to talk about your unique personality traits, and to ultimately share your content with others.
Don Simpson and Jerry Bruckheimer understood the importance of characters. Their ability to bring characters to life on the big screen allowed them to become two of the most successful characters in the picture industry. They themselves were characters, which gave them a step-up on the rest of the producers in Hollywood.
To succeed on the Web you’ll need to build your own character.
Appear larger than life, do strange things (not too strange), acknowledge your flaws, and most importantly be memorable.