Having recently connected with him on LinkedIn, he thanked me for helping him through the years in building his business online. When I asked him specifically what helped the most, here’s what he had to say:
Getting a feel for the culture. I didn’t fit in at first, and one of the things I picked up from you and your crew is that I didn’t need to become someone I’m not in order to succeed and thrive. I didn’t have to buy and watch the entire Star Wars (or was it Star Trek?) series on DVD, know what pwned means or understand why a lol cat is funny.
What I had to do was be myself and be confident in doing so.
When I first started promoting my business interests online, subtly as it may have been — and for the record I’ve never spammed anyone in any way, shape manner or form — but I nonetheless faced a lot of rejection in those first 8 or 9 months.
I was banned from Digg for reasons still unclear to me, didn’t know what WordPress was or why it was superior to Dreamweaver and FTP, and was completely oblivious to most of the topics being discussed at the time by the people with whom I needed to integrate in order to develop a name for myself and be successful.
If you don’t remember me specifically, it’s probably because I went by the name of “Fat Lester” at the time, and had a now-notorious rooster (a gamecock to be specific) as my avatar.
Nowsourcing along with Greg Davies, Jay Fowler, Brian Hill and the Social Blend crew and a few others here and there really helped me learn the ropes. Culturally speaking, to someone who was more of a jock than a geek growing up and through high school and even college, to refer to it as a “culture shock” would be quite an understatement.
You and the Nowsourcing crew didn’t really adhere to what everyone on Reddit was doing (and would have made law if they had the power to do so… That bunch is pretty rigid to say the very least), you had your own style and it worked for you, and learning that the same could happen for me was the thing that got the ball rolling, got things turned around and me moving in the right direction.
I also picked up a little about technology from you, not to mention a few do-follow comment links (back then they still counted).
More than anything, your circle didn’t judge me and didn’t ridicule me. If I asked a question that seemed stupid to experienced pros, you answered it respectfully. Not everyone was like that.
I really had an absurd amount of hurdles to overcome in the beginning. More than I’d have ever imagined. A few people here and there – yourself included – helped me learn what I needed to do in order to be successful. I obviously learned some of it on my own, but would have never gotten to that point if it weren’t for the assistance and knowledge I gleaned from people such as yourself during my first year doing this full-time.
The most important of the things I picked up in part from NowSourcing is that in order to succeed, you’ve got to bring something of value to the table. Everyone thinks their product, service or what have you is the greatest thing since sliced bread, and are often genuinely surprised to learn that not everyone feels the same way.
There is most definitely a right way and a wrong way to leverage social media, content and personality marketing for business purposes. Your infographics are a perfect example. I don’t do infographics as I’ve got no artistic aptitude whatsoever, but I’m betting you can’t just slap one of those together in 20 minutes. In my case, I stick to what I’m good at, which is writing, but the same concept applies.
The real key that distinguishes the successful from those who disappear after a while is that those who succeed put in the hard work behind the scenes to create something new, useful and/or informative that people WANT to watch/read/learn about, etc. That’s ultimately the thread that defines the very fine line that separates general spamming from effective marketing – at least within the context of search, social and related channels.
Over the years, it has been clearly evident that a lot of work goes into the posts that appear at NowSourcing, and the fact that you’ve been around for as long as you have speaks to the inherent truth that content is still king, and that there are no shortcuts in the long run. Hard work differentiates the successful from not-so-successful, with the successful willing to go that extra mile in creating something of value, rather than merely hawk a good or a service.
Thanks for listening, Peter. Keep fighting the good fight.