Can You Really Outsource Your Blog Audience? Why You Need to Take Control of Your Online Platform
It matters not how straight the gate, how charged with punishments the scroll, I am the master of my fate, I am the captain of my soul.” — Invictus
You got in this because you desire freedom.
The freedom to make money on your own terms, the freedom to realize your own vision, and the freedom to build something with impact.
To stay true to these ambitions, you must retain control.
Let me paint a picture to illustrate this point…
Imagine you’re a comedian.
Like Dave Chappelle at the beginning of his career, you perform stand-up in a public park.
You soon draw a small but captivated audience.
These fans buy your comedy DVD on the spot and give you their email so you can notify them of your next performance.
Now imagine other standup comedians get the same idea. They start performing in the same park.
There’s a sea of voices at the once quiet park — all vying for attention.
People that would have been converted into core fans (if they saw you alone) are distracted by all the hoopla. Eventually, they leave — forgetting you altogether.
And your core audience can’t even enjoy your performance because there’s too much noise.
When you relinquish control to third parties like social media, you choose the chaos of a crowded public park.
As a result, your voice is diluted, potential fans are distracted by the chaos, and even your ride-or-die fans can’t see the show properly.
Sure, staying in that park full of buzz and excitement is intoxicating.
“Wow look at all those people. Maybe I can get a ton of new fans,” you say to yourself.
But, at the end of the day, you were much better off with a small, dedicated audience all focused on you.
It’s better to have 5 people truly listening rather than 500 who can barely hear.
I say this to you as someone who recently made the mistake of performing in a park with a myriad of voices.
I started putting my writing on Medium rather than my own blog.
Let me tell you what happened so you can learn from my mistake.
Why You Shouldn’t Write For Medium
When I decided to get back into blogging, seemingly everywhere I looked people said:
“You should post your content on Medium instead of a regular blog. That’s where the traffic is.”
At first, I stuck to my guns, but – after seeing many successful people choose the platform – I caved.
For the uninitiated, Medium is basically a social media platform for blog posts. Many have dubbed it “blogging 3.0”.
Medium’s main draw is the Medium editors can “curate” your article on their website — instantly giving it hundreds or thousands of views.
I was pretty successful on Medium. A very good curation rate (when the Medium curators select your story for promotion) is 50% but mine is around 75%. I’d constantly see writers complain that their last 5–10 stories didn’t get curated. One time I got 7 stories curated in a row.
I say this to illustrate that I wasn’t a failure on the platform. Yet, I got next to nothing for all my efforts.
In return for countless hours, I got paid less than minimum wage. In addition, the “audience” I built on Medium was almost useless. Like social media, my followers were distracted by countless pieces of content. So, they barely actually read my work.
So why did I keep going?
The glamour. Views are way higher than if I just posted on a blog. Plus, there’s the joy of getting “claps” (basically likes), seeing your follower count go up fast (a big actor even followed me), and the validation of getting chosen (curated) on the platform.
I felt like a king, but in reality, I was a peasant. Without real control, “success” is smoke and mirrors.
Knowing what I know now, I would take 10 views from loyal followers over 1000 views on Medium any day.
And so, I quit.
3 Reasons To Quit Social Media (And Other Platforms)
I should have listened to Alex when he said…
“Be in control of your business.”
He told me that smart digital entrepreneurs are increasingly realizing that third-party platforms aren’t worthwhile.
I have seen this personally over and over again. Yet, I was still foolish enough to think “oh this platform (Medium) is different.”
No, it’s never different. Here’s why:
1. They Can Take It All Away
At the drop of a hat, Medium decided to make changes to their platform.
They started promoting in-house publications at the expense of independent writers. Then, they changed the design of the website to heavily favor featured content — making your follower count almost completely useless.
Third-party platforms dictate what “your audience” sees. Most of the time, that isn’t you.
Think this is something unique to Medium? Not at all. YouTube did the exact same thing. Overnight, they made subscribers dramatically less valuable, destroying small creators.
Not to mention, you can easily get banned from any third-party platform – even if you’re just taking donations.
2. There’s Too Much Noise
It didn’t matter how good my Medium blog posts were because they were surrounded by distractions.
There’s an infinite amount of content. What human can resist clicking away and forgetting about you?
Not to mention, my articles are surrounded by completely unrelated authors from around the Internet, oftentimes not too far away from overly offensive content and controversial topics.
It’s the same with social media. You could post a great post that your audience loves, but it’s instantly forgotten under a swarm of posts – gossip, politics, and god-only-knows what else.
Not to mention, this noise isn’t just external — it also affects you.
For instance, I significantly watered down my own voice when I wrote for Medium because I knew doing so would help me find success on the platform.
You will likely do the same when you post to social media.
Again, this is nice short-term (people like you), but it’s shooting yourself in the foot long-term— whitewashing what makes your vision unique.
3. You’re Wasting Time
Sure, the time spent on other platforms can help your business a little, but consider the opportunity cost.
For the majority of businesses, time is better spent developing your core audience (slow and steady), improving your product, etc.
When you realize that the “results” of external platforms are mostly fake, it becomes clear that you are not getting enough out of your time investment.
Be Your Own Medium
Anyone who truly cares will join your email list — not just follow you on Twitter.
So don’t worry about missing out on all the hoopla.
Instead, go your own way by cultivating a loyal audience. Target a smaller group of core fans.
The 1000 true fans approach still applies in 2020. In fact, it’s even more applicable in this noisy day and age.
We can even go further and say…
100 true fans are worth more than 10,000 social media followers.
Spend time creating and marketing a business that focuses on this concept, and your chances of success increase.
Keep your eyes on what matters — your business your audience, your product — and you’ll build something powerful.
It will take time, but it’s the only way to find real success online.
An Alternative To Social Media
Want to experience many of the benefits of social media without the noise?
Then let me introduce you to the Stream — a powerful feature of Marketers Delight that brings the best of what we love about the social media format without all the noise.
The Stream provides a direct line to your core fans and turns your site into your own social network.
While blog posts and other kinds of content take longer for you to create, posting to your Stream gives your audience a place to check back to your site regularly—and that is crucial for community building.
Published a new blog post? Share it to your Stream. Make a new selfie video? That would go perfect on your Stream. Read a new book? We have an integration with our Bookshelf feature built right in!
The Stream is just about you and your message. Your core fans will eat it up.
This is a unique feature included within your purchase of Marketers Delight.
If you want to learn how powerful this feature is check out Ray’s great list of ideas for using the stream and my post for some additional ideas. You can also visit the official MD Stream here.
Keep In Control (As Much As Possible)
Look, I know we sometimes have to relinquish a little control to these external platforms.
But, the less control you give away, the better.
Only relinquish control when there is clear, massive benefit.
And always focus on long-term success over short-term gratification.
My negative experience with Medium is a microcosm of what happens when you choose what is expedient over what truly matters.
Now, let me end with some tough love...
The harsh truth is — if you can’t build an audience without external platforms, your core business probably isn’t compelling enough.
Think back to the stand-up comedian example from the beginning of this article.
If you’re Dave Chappelle, you will gather a loyal audience – even if you start in a local park with hardly any people. The word can and will spread.
If you find yourself fighting to be heard, maybe your “act” just isn’t good enough yet.
Maybe you need to step back and really focus on making your business/blog exceptional.
Because, if you’re truly good, you will find a core fan base.
When you focus on providing something truly amazing — slowly but surely — you will build something that matters… that your fans love… that you can be truly proud of.
If, you take the easy path instead, you will be here today and gone tomorrow.
Those who rise to the top, take control of their own destiny.
So, hold on to your unique vision.
Hold on until your knuckles turn white.
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