Every day I get an email from someone who wants to sell me a course about building a marketing platform and making money online. Lately my eyes glaze over when reading the stuff. It’s an echo chamber that’s rife with repetition:
- Get as many eyeballs as possible on your website!
- Blog, blog, blog!
- Build your email list!
- Get more followers on Twitter and Facebook!
- Start podcasting now!
- Master video today!
Lately, though, I’ve read some inspiring posts about building an online presence that go beyond counting eyeballs.
Maria Popova on Brain Pickings
Maria Popova created Brain Pickings—ad-free, reader-supported, and wildly popular. In an interview with Jocelyn K. Glei about Staying Present and Grounded in the Age of Information Overload, Maria said something that took the top of my head off:
I read things that stimulate me and inspire me and help me figure out how to live and then I write about them. The fact that there are other people who enjoy it is nice, but it’s just a byproduct.
Leo Babauta on Building Zen Habits
Leo Babauta claims that over one million people read his blog Zen Habits every month. I have no reason to doubt him. Though I have some reservations about Leo’s content, I don’t question his integrity.
In notes on writing, Leo describes his vision of a great website:
Writers and other creators really want to make a living online, so they fill up their blogs with junk that they think will make money. But the junk is disrespectful of the reader, and so the reader goes away.
Trying to force people to be on your mailing lists by making them sign up to get stuff, or putting a popup in their faces before they can read your content, is disrespectful. Ads and affiliate stuff are tiresome for the reader.
Here’s how to make a living online: create great stuff that will help people, and build a readership. Then create great stuff and sell it to those readers in a respectful way, while still giving away your free great stuff.
In Confidence in Your Business, he reiterates:
Maybe you see people who’ve made millions online: How did they do it? Internet marketing. They built mailing lists, then manipulated those lists through emotional tactics, social proof, creating false urgency, building funnels, warming up the lists, making the potential customers think they need this or they’ll fail….
What if, instead, you had confidence in your business? You created something of value and believed it would help people? You made its value and how much it helps people your metrics.
Patrick Rhone on His Personal Brand
I live in Minneapolis, and on the other side of the Mississippi, in exotic Saint Paul, dwells Patrick Rhone.
Patrick’s wise and compassionate presence is as refreshing as a slow, deep breath. I especially enjoy his ideas about personal branding. Basically, he ignores it:
Because, I now know that worrying about “personal branding” and “social media strategy” and the rest of that silliness has ZERO to do with success….
Seth [Godin] doesn’t even host a blog on his own domain name. He uses TypePad for gosh sake! The only personal brand he has is this: He shows up, every day, with helpful advice about (mostly) marketing and life. He shows up with a desire and willingness to create things that help people be better at sales and marketing.
The only personal brand I strive to develop is genuine kindness and a desire to help others.
Are you willing to do the work? Do you, or do you not, want to help people?