The most important thing any business or person can do is build a Go-To-Market (GTM) strategy. This is how you will sell yourself or your product in a market. How do you know it’s working? Simple. Some measurable metric is moving in the right direction and you’re making money. I call it hitting pay dirt.
I realized I had become an “old stick in the mud.”
I approach most of my life as a game. I’m not a gamer in the sense that I sit in front of an Xbox all day, rather I like to play a game called life. I like to poke and prod things. I like to break the unbreakable and I love to tinker. I learn more from trying new things, seeing what works, and tossing what doesn’t work.
You can’t fake passion or authenticity.
This past summer I took a long hard look at my web properties and took note of what was working and what wasn’t anymore. What I discovered during that analysis and reflection made me cringe and feel angry. I realized I had become an “old stick in the mud.”
Everything I did wasn’t working anymore because the metrics were in a long slow decline. I was letting the market pass me by because I wanted to keep things the way they were and didn’t keep an eye on the ball.
So I started to make changes in August and it’s paying off in spades.
A new go-to-market strategy
This took me a long time to internalize because I’m a big fan of blogs. I love the indie web and loved the old blog rings. Somewhere along the way the market moved toward a more siloed approach and I hated that but I had to make peace with it because so many of my readers went to Medium or Substack.
Why was I fighting this? I always talk about fishing where the fish are, why was I casting my fishing line in a paved parking lot? I was being stupid so I made some changes. I decided to embrace Medium and focus my writing energies there.
Lesson learned: Fish where the fish are. Go where the most people are for your niche/industry.
The next thing I changed was my inspiration, or rather I let inspiration find me again. My family and I took a long vacation to the desert Southwest and I got inspired to write about nature, climate change, sustainability, and travel. I saw something that bothered me and I felt it was my duty as a human being to call out those injustices.
…I saw that I caught the Dragon’s Tail
I didn’t care if anyone read my articles on those topics, I just wanted to write and make my voice heard. I wrote with passion, sincerity, and authenticity. About a month later my voice started to resonate with Medium readers. My follower count skyrocketed and my earnings ballooned. Granted, I can’t make a living off it but an eerily familiar pattern is starting to emerge.
The viral-like activity reminds me of when I wrote my RapidMiner tutorials on my blog. I turned my passion for data science and machine learning into a full-time career in a new field.
Lesson Learned: You can’t fake passion or authenticity. Readers pick up on bullshit. Get inspired and write your heart out.
After I started writing my heart out I monitored my stats. I know there is a lag effect because it takes time for SEO and the internal Medium distribution to work. About a month later I saw that I caught the Dragon’s Tail. My follower growth exploded and I beat my previous best record of follower growth by 100%. I confirmed that I hit a nerve and I started to optimize my writing by adding “Follow Me” and “Read More On This Topic” sections at the end of the article.
Lesson Learned: Measure and optimize. If you’re not seeing follower growth or changes to your income then something is wrong.
All this can blow up!
Any market is fluid and I expect Medium to change its engagement algorithm whenever it feels like it. Part of my success so far has been aligning with it. I plan on diversifying my content strategy so I don’t get slammed if Medium “blows up” or gets sold.
No matter what I do to figure out this diversification strategy, I will follow the three lessons learned above. You should too.