In the book The $100 Startup by Chris Guillebeau, he interviews a lot of entrepreneurs and shares insights in how each one got their start. One interview that I found inspiring is with Naomi Dunford and here is what she said about business:
Remember that the goal of business is profit. It’s not being liked, or having a huge social media presence, or having amazing products that nobody buys. It is not having a beautiful website, or perfectly crafted email newsletters, or an incredibly popular blog. In larger businesses, this is called accountability to shareholders. Business is not a popularity contest.
It’s easy to look at others followers, retweets, and shares and compare ourselves, but when it’s related to business none of that matters. Sure it helps, but it isn’t the goal. The goal is profit.
Before we continue I think it’s important to define what type of newsletter I’m going to be talking about. There are basically two styles of newsletters, one with exclusive content, and another that is just an update telling you to go read this. Basically, email as notifications instead of RSS.
For this post, I’m talking about the former. Newsletters with exclusive content and it seems like over the last year that style has really taken off. But does it make sense for you to do that?
Apple reported sales of iPads declined 25% during the last quarter and pundit’s everywhere are screaming the sky is falling.
No one can predict the future and all we have to go on is what is here and now. As an Apple fanboy here is my reason for the decline of iPad sales.
Toward the end of last year, Apple released the iPhone 6s and 6s plus and before the announcement I had been debating between getting a new phone or an iPad. I already had a phone and I didn’t need a new one so I leaned heavily toward the iPad, but the more I thought about it the more I came back to thinking the phone was the right choice.
I made up my mind and purchased a 6s plus. What pushed me toward it was the better camera. (My iPhone is my only camera) It’s always with me and it has cell service.
After using the new phone for a month, I knew I had made the right decision. The screen is smaller than the iPad mini but I can still do everything on it that I could with an iPad. I watch TV, read books, write blog posts, edit images, everything but software development, which you can’t really do on the iPad either.
The only thing I’ve found lacking is some professional apps are iPad only but I can’t fault Apple for that. I’m sure the developers had good reasons to only support the one device.
At the end of the day, iPad sales are declining because of the bigger screen on the iPhone plus model.
When you first start out as a developer you find a problem and build a solution. This is how you learn and progress.
As you become older your outlook changes and you’d rather pay money to save time. Of course, you could still build it, but eventually, you hit a tipping point.
Developers are some of the worst offenders of this problem. We have a problem and spend lots of hours building or own version when we could become typical consumers.
To give a real world example of this, I decided to create a weekly newsletter and instead of paying monthly for a service I did it all myself.
After a few months, I realized I was spending close to five hours a week just getting it ready to send. I then switched to a paid service and it cut my time down tremendously. I could then spend the hours saved on more important things.
They say reading at night is good for you. It’s relaxing and gets your body ready for sleep. Typically I would agree but not with Show Your Work by Austin Kleon.
It was 10 pm, I was tired, ready for bed, and I assumed reading the first chapter would put me right to sleep. I was wrong. I ended up reading almost the whole book and then couldn’t sleep for another few hours with ideas racing in my head. Finally, was able to fall asleep around 2 am and wasn’t excited about waking up the following morning.
I’ve always been the type of person that enjoys sharing things. That is the reason this site exists and all my other side projects are around this same notion. Even though I share a lot at times I hit that burnout point and Show Your Work happened to be the right book at the right time for me. It helped put clarity and perspective to the things I want to do.
The book is fairly short, around 200 pages, and is a quick read. Here is the list of chapters to give you an idea what it covers:
You don’t have to be a genius.
Think process, not product.
Share something small every day.
Open up your cabinet of curiosities.
Tell good stories.
Teach what you know.
Don’t turn into human spam.
Learn to take a punch.
If you decide to get this book I would recommend the paperback version. It’s small in size at 6×6 but it’s high quality and has lots of little drawing and quotes included like this one.
In the past, I’ve been hesitant to share what I’ve been working on for fear I’ll never finish it. Of course, all the other fears too, like being exposed as an amateur and mocked off the internet. Austin covers all of these excuses and more.
Which brings me to one of my favorite quotes from the book about dealing with people hating your work:
Sometimes when people hate something about your work, it’s fun to push that element even further. To make something they’d hate even more.
If you have the desire to get your work seen, improve your marketing, or just want a nice book to add to your collection pick up a copy. I enjoyed it.
The joys of a new year. A time to reflect on what all you accomplished and start planning out those new years resolutions. One of the hardest parts of this process is figuring out what all you did the past year. Sure big events are easy to remember and if you keep a journal then going back through it will help fill in the gaps, but there is a lot that slips through the cracks.
A new trend that has started becoming popular is apps and services sending you a personalized yearly review based on the data they have.
WordPress sent me one highlighting the number of posts, website traffic, most popular days, and most commenters.
Todoist, featured in the main post image, sent one showing how many tasks I completed each month, when I’m most productive, and how I rank compared to others using the app.
These are just two of the services I use that did this and I loved it because it made me want to share the results publicly and, in turn, give the vendor direct word of mouth advertising.
From a business standpoint if you have the data then generating user reports like this shouldn’t be too expensive to create, especially if you are comparing to other forms of marketing, but the benefits are a more personal recommendation.
Plus since it’s all in your database you’ll be able to reuse this same marketing tactic year after year with no further expenses.