SUMMARY: For years I’ve felt I was getting closer to finding my destiny as I blogged. It turns out I’ve been chasing myself; I’m already here and making it work. The journey is the reward; in my case, the reward is the destination. All that remains is to officially recognize that the destination is also the business plan.
I’ve been baffled at where the last two months have gone. I know I’ve been busy, but it doesn’t feel like I’ve gotten anything meaningful done. And that’s because I’ve been in survival mode. I picked up a month-long contract with Red 5 Studios out in California, which included two weeks of intense on-site work that took precedent over my August 8 Groundhog Day resolution post. After the project wrapped, I took a few days off, then caught up on other client work. Then I took on a couple of short-notice jobs, and poof, it’s September 9. While the spurt of work was good for replenishing my bank account, it also blew away the continuity on my own projects. I need to get that back.
Despite losing continuity, the exposure to travel and new friends has provided some excellent insights. The following one is from Google Wave with Colleen™, the ongoing experiment we’re running to keep each other “accountable”:
[…] as I was horking down teriyaki beef jerky on the plane, I hauled out the netbook and just started writing randomly about where I thought I was now compared to 5 years ago, and I had an insight. […] It’s this: my business really is just doing all the things I like. I’ve been thinking that I needed to have a business plan, or form a customer attraction strategy, find the right niche, network and promote and so forth…but you know what? All I need to say is “I’m Dave Seah, and I like these things (which I’ll share with you) and I do these other things (I’ll show you how they work). I’m approachable, and at the top of my game at what I’m doing.” […] So I think that’s my new model: promoting what I like and am learning to my utmost ability, and sharing as much as I can in my own way. Products, opportunities, and so forth will just fall out of it, as they have been for the past 5 years. Might as well just make it official. I don’t need to describe who I am and what I do. I just need to make it clear that I am here.
I’ve known for some time that my niche is not defined by my skill set. Instead, my skill set will help me find my niche. The funny thing is that I’ve been chasing the scent for five years, feeling I was so close. It turns out that I’m the source of that smell; I’ve been chasing myself in circles.
The Business Model of Me
My business model is now this:
- Be unapologetically interested in what I’m interested in, and share my discoveries broadly across whatever media strikes my fancy.
- Follow-up on the opportunities that present themselves, in the form of people contacting me.
- Profit! Mutually!
In the past, I thought I had to choose a market and then conform my efforts to meet consumer needs. However, I don’t think that’s necessary. These three statements are the heart of how I work; it is the formula for harnessing my passion. It is also the recipe for putting the journey over the destination. You can find a shortcut to any given destination, but you can’t shortcut to the journey; that defeats the purpose. You won’t stumble upon the weird opportunities or have your horizons broadened by unexpected detours, which is totally the way I am wired.
With that settled, I can stop searching for my niche and exploit the following truths:
- I know that there’s a number of people who find what I’m doing interesting, and they have contacted me with opportunities for work. Everyone has their 1% audience share.
- I know that the more I share in tangible form through articles, free downloads, and software, the greater my perceived value in the world.
- I know that the more specialized and detailed I get, the more exotic and intriguing the opportunities become.
- I know that by making my works easier to find and share, it makes it easier for my audience to grow.
My implementation challenges are still the same; I’m just more certain that it’s the right thing to do:
- Keep writing about what I’m interested in, for the people who find that interesting.
- Make useful things to share.
- Create many opportunities for people to connect with me, in the spirit of mutual gain.
My main task this past month was moving back to WordPress and getting my old content imported. DONE (more or less).
Moving forward, I think the projects that I undertake must be driven by what I’m writing on the blog. Writing is my most powerful engine of productivity; when coupled to the vehicle that is this blog, things happen. This is an interesting idea in itself.
Although I wish to deploy an unusual business model, I still need to maintain laser-focus on getting things done. The kinds of projects that I pursue will be drawn from the following categories:
- Printable CEO Forms: Putting them into a hierarchy of usefulness, and making it easier for people to find what might work for them. It’s been a mess for years, and it’s time to fix it.
Designing Software: I’ve avoided doing this because I hadn’t found a way to maintain the energy when working in isolation; I don’t know many software developers who practice the way I do. I think by applying the “blog-driven” approach, the sense of isolation might disappear. And since I’m no longer going to be constrained topically, I’ll write about every fascinating thing about development I enjoy. The prototype for this is the Agenceum Blog.
Designing Physical Product: There are so many things I’d love to learn how to make. I have learned how to sell things on Amazon.com, and there’s no reason I can’t start manufacturing stuff for either an Etsy store (hand-crafted stationery products).
Education: There are all kinds of things I would love to learn, and I’m excited about sharing the trials and tribulations of being a noob all over again. This is what I miss from my earlier blogging days, when I wrote about every crazy thing I was trying to do.
Write The Book: I’ve got 1500 posts on this website, and I think there’s a theme underlying it all. I have no idea what’s going to come out, but reviewing all the material that’s here is likely to produce SOMETHING that I think is worth sharing. Something practical, inspiring, and empowering. If anything, it might be a way of looking at things that falls out of it, presented simply as something to think about and experiment with.
p>This is the same list that I’ve had for years, but the difference is that I’m in alignment with my own desire. I never wanted to be a market or target just once niche. The reason that people will want to work with me or use my products is because they like what I’m doing because I do it well. That’s it. Markets can be served from the things I make, but it just doesn’t work for me to identify the market need first and beat everyone out in a race. It would be quite the trick if I can instead have the market notice and come to me. It’s very doable in the age of the Internet.
What I need to do now is rebuild my continuity habits that help me write every day. I’d fallen out of the habit because I thought I should be doing something other than writing, but I have finally accepted that writing is my engine, and from that all good things will come.