My worst fears came true. In the summer of 2004, before I was Remarkablogger, blog consultant, my business was different. It was also failing, bigtime. I was working as a contract instructor for a computer training company, but I wasn’t getting paid enough because they couldn’t sell enough training. Things were getting tight. We needed extra income, so I started my little web design business.
I modeled it after what I thought a web business was supposed to be. I had a static website with a few pages that described what I did and how I did it. It was “brochureware”. I had hopes and dreams of success. Luckily, I landed a local client who cut me a check for over $3,000 for my first real job. I felt like a success.
The client dreamed up a bunch of schemes and I thought I had lucked into this fat pipeline of money. I thought he was a little weird, but it wasn’t until much later I found out the surprising and twisted truth: his judgment was impaired by over-prescribed medications. He had the illusion that he was some kind of business genius who could do no wrong.
When the bottom fell out for him, the poor guy had to sell off a bunch of his assets and get some longtime friends to take over his business affairs. And because he was my only source of work at the time, that meant the bottom dropped out for me, too.
The weight of the situation was emotionally crushing. My family depended on me, and I let them down. My wife had to work odd jobs she hated. We went through some tough times and had to file for bankruptcy.
The Lessons and The Wall
There were a lot of lessons from that experience. But there was also something else. I hit a mysterious wall, and I didn’t see how to break through it at the time… even though the answer was right in front of me.
What was the wall? Getting clients. I lived in the nation’s smallest capitol city (the only one without a McDonald’s and only one traffic light downtown, no joke) where a good third of the people thought the internet was evil if they even knew what it was at all. It was like I had opened up shop in the middle of a desert. Nobody came, so I closed the shop.
My business died. Totally flatlined. Gone.
Luckily, I found full-time employment, rather than contract work, and that saved my ass. I nursed my wounds until one day I realized what had been missing before. What had I missed? Perspective, for one thing. My field of vision about how to do business was too narrow, geographically. It never occurred to me that as one person I could do business with people all over the world. At that time, PayPal had not become the ever-present payment system it is now. In contrast to those days, now none of my clients are locally-based—-they are from all over the world.
The other thing I missed was how to get traffic. The answer was right in front of my face every time I wrote something for one of my blogs (which don’t exist, anymore). I was making a few hundred dollars a month with AdSense, and on my “personal” blog I was even an early “meta” blogger (someone who blogs about blogging). I subscribed to ProBlogger back when Darren only had a few thousand subscribers. And I still didn’t make the connection.
The Boing Boing Epiphany
Boing Boing was an early blog with a huge following. It is now one of the most popular blogs in the world (if not the most popular). Even back then, I marveled at their traffic. One day, when I was reading yet another Boing Boing post, it hit me: why did I visit Boing Boing so many times per day? Because they kept writing stuff that interested me.
That’s when I knew what blogging really was: it was a fantastic method for getting traffic and attention. What you write about determines what kind of and how much attention you’re going to get. And that was the secret to getting business clients over the web.
A brochureware site simply cannot accomplish what a blog can in this regard.
Blogging Saved My Bacon
When I realized this, this site you’re on right now was on its way to becoming a blog about fantasy and science fiction writing and illustration (no kidding). But my interest in that was dwindling (it may yet revive) and once I really began to see how I could profitably run a business entirely over the internet, my path became clear. I started blogging with renewed purpose. I had business objectives to meet. I turned this blog into a business by offering real business services based around what I knew and had skills in: blogging itself. My business became blog consulting, blog coaching, and blog design.
Almost as soon as I set up shop and opened my doors for business this time, I had work. And it hasn’t shown any signs of slowing. It was like throwing the big switch on Frankenstein’s monster: my business was not only back from the dead, it has super-human strength! Now, I realize the analogy breaks down at the part where the townspeople form a lynch mob, but you get the idea. Blogging saved my business.
I do not even have to try to attract clients, they come to me. How? My blog contains the information people search for when they find themselves in need of help on their blog, and I make it really easy for them to take the next step of contacting me. I’m creating more and more of this targeted content every week, instead of tossing a couple web pages out into the internet like messages in bottles and hoping somebody happens across them.
What might blogging do for your business?