Inside My Brain

Thoughts about startups, tech, marketing, and life

CATEGORY: 30 days of blogging

Platforms vs. your website – interesting readership stats for my “Quality vs. Quantity” post

Two days ago, I penned a blog post called “Quality vs. Quantity – which should you focus on?“, which led to some interesting viewership results.

I published it on this site, Medium, and LinkedIn, as I do with most of my blog posts.

On mikewchan.com, the post got 88 views and 4 shares.

On Medium, the post got 70 views and 2 “Recommends” (the equivalent of a “Like”).

On LinkedIn, the post got 1,683 views, 353 Likes, 86 comments, and 82 shares.

What the hell is going on here?

First of all, it’s not surprising that mikewchan.com has such few views. I only have 40 people on my email list. And although I shared the article to 7235 Twitter followers, we know that only a tiny percentage of people see those tweets.

Ideally, it’s best to build a big email list, have direct access to those people’s inboxes, and drive as much traffic to your site.

But nowadays, with so much noise and so many people creating massive amounts of content, that strategy just won’t work on its own.

So you need platforms and networks to help get readership.

Yet I have no idea what happened here with the two platforms to which I posted the article.

I have 1100 followers on Medium yet only garnered 70 views. I have no clue how their algorithm works and how articles are distributed.

I have over 3300 connections and followers on LinkedIn. Having more followers will obviously drive more views, and the connections I have on LinkedIn are much stronger than those on Medium.

But nearly 25x more views than on Medium? And I got more comments and shares on LinkedIn than I did total views on Medium. I don’t get it.

The problem with platforms is exactly that – it’s tough to decipher how their algorithms work, your readership numbers are completely dependent on them, and they can change at any moment.

I guess I should get back to building my email list.

This is day 20 of my experiment to blog for 30 consecutive days.

Keep on growing

Business, careers, and personal life are all about growth.

In business, it’s not about how big you are, but how you’re growing.

You can be a small startup with 10 customers today. But if you only had 5 customers last week, that’s huge growth, and you know you’re on your way.

And when you lose one or more of those customers (and you will), you need to learn and grow from it. Understand why you lost that customer and what you can do in the future to retain them. That’s growth, too.

In you career, the most obvious form of growth comes in the form of being promoted at your company, climbing that corporate ladder, and earning that larger salary.

Your career can grow in many other ways. You can grow by learning new skills, creating new relationships, and working on projects outside of your comfort zone. Career growth doesn’t always equate to salary or title growth.

And you can certainly grow in your personal life. Your family may grow, your commitments may increase, and your priorities may change. You can find new interesting hobbies, meet new people, and explore different regions of the earth. That’s all growth of your experiences.

Always think about how you can grow, whether it’s your business, career, or personal side. Because that’s what life is all about.

This is day 19 of my experiment to blog for 30 consecutive days.

Quality vs. Quantity – which should you focus on?

There’s a never-ending debate between quality and quantity, especially in my worlds of marketing and startups.

It’s hard to have both quality and quantity at the same time; they have an inverse correlation.

The more you do, the lower quality your work will be. The higher quality your work is, the more time it will take for each task, and you’ll complete fewer tasks.

So which is more important?

There’s a big debate about quality vs. quantity in the marketing world.

Content creation is a key part of marketing, and many companies try to pump out lots and lots of content so Google can index all of their articles and they’ll be higher on the search rankings. Sometimes this works, but it’s a grind and can cost a lot of time and money.

Then take SEO master Brian Dean. His blog, Backlinko, garners almost 120,000 unique visitors per month and a 7-figure income. And he has only written 32 articles in just over 3 years. That’s less than one blog post per month! He writes super-long articles that have a ton of value. That’s clearly quality over quantity. Not everyone can create these very long, in-depth articles, though.

Now let’s talk about the startup world.

Conventional wisdom says to do one thing and do it well. Hone in on a single problem, research it, perfect it, create a solution for it, and focus, focus, focus.

Then there is this guy who has launched 12 startups in 12 months. He built and tested a bunch of ideas to figure out what had the most potential.

Or there are venture capital firms that make only a few investments per year but focus on industries where they have expertise. Then there is 500 startups, who is playing moneyball and investing in a large number of startups (way more than 500) to diversify and spread out their risk.

It comes down to your particular situation, your mindset, what resources you have, and what you can execute.

I think there are pros and cons to each approach and you have to find the balance of what works for you.

This is day 18 of my experiment to blog for 30 consecutive days.

Why satisfaction is more important to achieve than happiness

In yesterday’s post, I wrote about how I was happy about where I am in my career, but not at all satisfied.

I wrote about this a few years ago, and it keeps coming back to my mind, so I wanted to revisit it.

There is a huge difference between the two, and I think satisfaction is more important to achieve than happiness.

In most situations, satisfaction is easier to attain than happiness.

If you watched a decent movie, you might be satisfied with the way you spent your Friday evening. But if you watched a great flick, you would be really happy about the $10 you just spent.

If you had dinner at Burger King, you’d be satisfied with your full stomach. If you had a prix-fixe meal with the wine pairing at a top restaurant, you’d be really happy with your full stomach.

Most people strive for happiness in life. This is certainly a wonderful goal to reach for and attain.

But I think satisfaction is more difficult and more important to achieve. And a lot of it comes down to competitiveness and ambition.

If you’re a runner, you might be happy with the time it took you to finish that 10K. But if you’re competitive, you’re likely not satisfied and know that you can run faster.

If you’re a movie director, you might be happy with that last scene. But there might be a part of you that knows it could have gone better, so you’re not satisfied until you get it perfect.

Like I mentioned in yesterday’s post, I’m very happy with my career. I’m working with a great team and doing what I want in the industry of my choice.

But am I satisfied? Hell no.

I want to develop a product that impacts millions of lives in a positive way and build a lasting company that generates revenue and creates jobs.

 

I’m also very happy with my personal life. I have a wonderful family and live in a great condo in an awesome neighborhood of Washington DC.

But am I satisfied? Hell no.

I want to get better as a husband and dad and raise my daughter to be a beautiful, successful woman. I want to travel and see more of the world. I want to continue to grow and cultivate my personal relationships.

I’ve achieved happiness for a long time. But satisfaction has been eluded me so far.

I’ll get there someday.

This is day 17 of my experiment to blog for 30 consecutive days.

What’s the right way to assess value?

My wife and I are searching for a new home to better accommodate our growing family, and we recently visited one that we really liked.

The house is great. It has 3 bedrooms, 3.5 bathrooms, a finished basement and attic, and a covered garage. It’s really spacious and everything is brand new. The house is located in a hot neighborhood where a few of our friends live. It’s an excellent home for our family.

After leaving the tour, we talked about our thoughts of the house and how we would value it. We looked at the spaciousness, the newness, the covered garage (a rarity for single-family homes in DC) and how our family would fit in.

Basically, we looked at the value of the home in and of itself.

Then we asked our agent to run a comparative market analysis, and we saw a few comparable homes on the same block that sold for a much, much lower price.

Our valuation was immediately altered.

That got me thinking – what’s the right way to value the home, or anything, really?

Do you value the item independent of comps, or do you let comps influence your thinking? Or some combination of both?

I then started pondering about how this can be applied to careers.

For instance, I’m pretty happy with where I am at right now in my career (though not satisfied; more on that in another blog post). I work with people I really like and I’m doing interesting work in the industry of my choice.

But when I compare my career to other people’s, I sometimes feel like a failure.

I see that others make more money. They may have big titles at big companies or have raised a bunch of money for their startup. Or they are younger and have achieved more success than me at my older age.

There’s a danger in comparing, though.

The comparisons may not always be accurate. You’ll never have perfect information. There may be more than meets the eye.

So what’s the right way to value a career, a home, a company, or anything?

Food for thought.

This is day 16 of my experiment to blog for 30 consecutive days.

Setting high expectations

People have told me with confidence that they “under-promise and over-deliver.” Is that a good thing?

I get that managing expectations is important. And maybe in some situations, under-promising and over-delivering is the right approach.

If you’re working on client projects, you may want to be conservative when setting expectations on timeline and costs.

If you’re searching for a house or car and you have a limited budget, you probably shouldn’t expect to score a mansion or a Benz.

But in other situations, I think under-promising and over-delivering is a crock of shit.

Why not shoot for the moon?

To achieve big goals at work, you’ll have to work really, really hard. Even if you don’t achieve that big, hairy, audacious goal, you will have pushed yourself, worked your ass off, and learned a ton.

It takes a certain mindset to set big goals. You need to be be prepared to fail and accept that failure is part of the process.

But you’ll likely get a lot further than if you under-promise and over-deliver.

Next time you’re setting goals, think about throwing some audacious ones in the mix. I think higher expectations can lead to great things.

This is day 15 of my experiment to blog for 30 consecutive days.

The Pomodoro Technique – a game changer for time management

I’m always testing new tools and tricks to be more productive, and I have to say that the Pomodoro Technique has definitely changed my work life for the better.

If you’re not familiar, the Pomodoro Technique is a time management approach where you concentrate solely on your work, with no distractions, for 25 minutes. This is one Pomodoro. After that 25 minutes is up, you take a 5 minute break and do whatever you’d like. You then repeat this throughout your work day.

After 4 Pomodoros, you can take a longer break, like 10 or 20 minutes.

To time my Pomodoros, I use an online clock called the Tomato Timer. I’m using it right now. I aim to complete this blog post in that 25 minutes.

There are times when a task or project seems so big that you have no idea where to start, and many times you don’t start at all. The Pomodoro Technique helps you break down these tasks into little chunks.

Using this technique helps you concentrate on the task at hand, knowing that you’ll be working for a finite amount of time until the next break comes around. It just makes big tasks less daunting.

The great thing is that it’s so easy to implement. You don’t need to learn how to use a new piece of software or change how you think about executing tasks. You just work for 25 minutes, take a break, and do it all over again.

And it’s amazing how much work you can really get done in that 25 minutes of full concentration.

Give it a shot and let me know what you think!

This is day 14 of my experiment to blog for 30 consecutive days.

Seeing things that others don’t

Seeing things that others may not see is one of the most powerful skills that you can have, and it can give you the ability to create massive success.

I thought about this last night as I watched the movie The Big Short. If you haven’t seen it yet, it’s a great film about the financial crisis of 2008.

In a nutshell, back in the early 2000s, there were a ton of crappy mortgage loans handed out to unqualified homebuyers. Michael Burry, an investment fund manager played by Christian Bale, saw signs that these loans would go to go into default soon. And he predicted this waaaaay before anyone else did.

He bet huge that the housing market would collapse. Everyone thought he was crazy. He wasn’t. And he won big.

Seeing things that others don’t isn’t limited to predicting the future, like Burry did.

For instance, back in 1998, Google saw that all the existing search engines were absolute crap, identified why, and built a better one.

Sergey and Larry didn’t have a crystal ball. They just saw a problem, a problem that no one else really saw, and solved it.

Peter Thiel, the founder of PayPal, often asks entrepreneurs to “Tell me something true that nobody agrees with.” (I ask this question in my podcast, and the answers my guests provide are always interesting.)

If you can answer this question, you’re seeing things others don’t.

I’m not sure if this skill is can be learned or if people are born with it.

But I imagine it’s an amazing thing if you have it.

Can you see things others don’t?

This is day 13 of my experiment to blog for 30 consecutive days.

I don’t feel like blogging today. But I’m going to do it anyway.

I just tried to write two blog posts about other subjects, but was unsuccessful.

I’m just wasn’t feeling it.

I was struggling to come up with coherent thoughts and the words weren’t flowing from my fingertips when trying to write about those subjects.

So I decided to write about the fact that I don’t feel like blogging today.

It’s kind of a copout, but that’s what is on my mind right now.

There is a lesson here – sometimes you need to do things even if you don’t want to.

I set a goal to blog for 30 straight days to see if I can form a habit of writing. Today, day 12, is the first day where I’ve hit a bit of writer’s block.

If I didn’t blog today, my goal is shot. That would suck.

There will be many times where you won’t want to do something.

Maybe it’s at work, where you have a menial daily task that you think is worthless.

Do it, do it.

Maybe it’s going to the gym. You had a long day at work, you’re exhausted, and working out is the last thing you want to do.

Do it, do it.

If you skip out on that task or workout, it’ll be easier to skip it the next time you don’t want to do it. And then you’ll go into a free fall where you won’t get anything done at work and get fired, or never go to the gym again and gain 100 pounds.

I exaggerate, kind of.

In all seriousness, skipping out on tasks when you don’t want to do them can certainly have negative effects on your productivity, health, relationships, and other things. Little things add up, good and bad.

So just do whatever you need to get done, even if you don’t want to. It’ll feel good to cross that task off your list, and you won’t have to worry about losing your job or gaining 100 pounds. 🙂

This is day 12 of my experiment to blog for 30 consecutive days.

What does it mean to be “creative”?

What image comes to mind when I ask you to think of someone who is creative?

You might picture some hipster web designer guy wearing a flannel shirt and skinny jeans and sporting a handlebar mustache.

Or a female artist with a funky haircut, black leather boots, and a bunch of tattoos.

Or some eccentric actor with long hair and a perpetual emo look on his or her face.

I’m totally typecasting here, but that’s my point.

I think people who don’t think they can be creative, can be. And those who are creative don’t always look the part.

“Creative” comes from the word “create,” and everyone can create.

You don’t have to be an artist, designer, actor, or musician to create.

Anyone can create a blog post.  Anyone can cook a meal. Anyone can devise a solution to a problem.

I’m being creative right now by writing this blog post. This article didn’t exist 30 minutes ago, and now it does. It might not be a painting by Picasso or a novel by Hemingway, but it’s something that I created.

A software developer creates software. Though computer science is, well, science, there is certainly art in code.

An accountant can be creative in how they do the books (but not too creative, as the IRS or SEC will be suspicious). Accounting is regarded as one of the most boring and uncreative professions, but accountants create solutions to financial problems.

The next time you think “I’m not creative,” think again. You can certainly create, and you don’t have to wear skinny jeans to do so.

This is day 11 of my experiment to blog for 30 consecutive days.