There are people, moments and ideas that help you succeed in the online world, allowing your thoughts to take flight and be transformed into profitable realities. Just as these positive boosts are spread across the Internet, so are those who will most definitely prevent your success.
You might think lack of proper skills, not enough information, powerful competition, not enough connections are some of the main reasons while those trying to build a successful online business fail. You would be wrong. The dirty truth about the biggest wall standing between you and your online success is quite different. Ready to find out what it is? If you are, read on!
Your biggest challenge, your biggest enemy and your toughest foe when it comes to online success is called distraction. Yes my friends, the Internet is filled with all the bling, the funny comments and the interesting people that will sidetrack you in an instant. The latest videos, games, funny commercials, adventures of cats, dogs and babies, funny comics, interesting webinars, the freshest photos of celebrities you just need to stay updated with, new software, new products, new info-packages and books, old friends you’ve just discovered on your Facebook page, some guru of a field that suddenly is engaged in a meaningful conversation with you…
Any of these sound familiar to those of you who work in the online world? They do to me! Have you ever tried to think of how many hours these distractions translate into? It will make your head spin and in many cases, you will see you sometimes waste half of your “business hours” indulging in these shiny distractions
The other dirty truth about distractions and online careers
If that’s not scary enough, here’s the other dirty truth about Internet success. While with all the other jobs you might just go offline on all the social channels that distract you, thus saving time and investing your efforts where they are most profitable, you, the online entrepreneur or Internet professional, cannot do that! This is not news to you, but Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, and all the other social sites are your bread and butter. You also have to stay current with all the software in your field, you have to read about new trends and new ideas, you have to meet the A-listers and attend webinars – they will teach you how to work better and be more effective. Your biggest distractions are often times the keys to learning how to make more money online… Paradox? Maybe. Big pain in your behind? Definitely.
Stick to business, cut the personal? No way!
You might think that keeping your eyes on the prize will help you. You’re there for a business purpose, so everything you do online should be strictly business. Right! Only that’s counterproductive. Most people, the end customers mainly, are there for fun and games mostly. They also engage in shopping, in following brands, in following important causes and investing their money wisely. They might also be looking for a job and so on, but it’s mainly to connect with friends and be entertained!
People want to interact with other people. If you’re not all about pushing your products on them, they will most likely keep interacting with you. So while distraction is preventing your online success, allowing yourself to be distracted will most likely gain you customers. Tricky, right? That’s the beauty of Internet endeavors in the end.
While nothing really started with the Internet, it all became a lot faster and lately a lot more personal. Everything is one on one and the relationship you build with whoever is selling you something is far more important than the actual benefits of said product or service. Everyone has a few competitors, the time of really new products is far gone. We merely expect something faster, better, shinier, but that’s it. We love the brands that seem to love us back! If they reply to a Twitter question, a blog review or a Facebook praise, we will love them instantly. More so if they help us with our problems on the spot and they manage to keep us entertained while at it.
The Dirtiest Truth about Internet Success
There are ways to keep distractions to a minimum. The simplest ways is to work for an hour or two, then take a break from ‘real’ work and engage in distracting tasks, such as talking with your communities, chatting with friends, reading a new ebook and scheduling a webinar. Then go back to more tangible work goals, and so on.
But the dirtiest truth is that you will have all the social apps on your phone, you will become a Facebook, Twitter, Foursquare, Youtube and everything else addict. You will check your email every 15 seconds when on your free time and due to the all the welcome distractions in your online business, you’ll probably be spending far more hours working than if you had chosen a different career path.
I know I have to be the first of my friends to check in everywhere, that I just have to reply to all fans comments on Facebook pages, that Twitter questions and mentions need to be dealt with on the spot, same goes for emails from clients or peers or friends… Everything happening over the Internet is a priority.
Yes I spend about 10 hours a day in front of my computer. Yes, my very smart phone needs recharging almost every day. Yes, I have all the gadgets you could think of and on any trip I amaze everyone with them all. My hotel’s Internet connection is more important to me then their location or than how large the room is. I choose coffee shops based on Wi-Fi and whether or not I can recharge my laptop, not only coffee. I talk to my Friends on Facebook almost every day, but see them once every two weeks.
On the other hand, Facebook and Twitter and my blogs bring in more clients who want me to handle their online business, my Internet projects are all making me some money, even if that is not their main purpose (which is promoting my business). I also have a confession to make: I love every minute of it, even those painful hours before I get back online! Or the profound hate I have for the Internet provider when my connection is not working :D And I wouldn’t change it for the world!
But what can you really do?
Of course, agonizing about how hectic your life is won’t cut it. So what can you do when you have to be online to check replies, Google alerts and customer feedback, but you also have to get some work done? Here are a few tricks I have picked up along the way:
Going all automatic won’t help you, but some things you can schedule – you can program a hello and a few tweets, Facebook updates, LinkedIn postings and so on. This will take care of a big chunk of your social media effort and will allow you to check in two-three times a day to reply to questions, retweet or share interesting articles posted by others and genuinely engage with your community.
There are many apps that allow you to schedule social media content, but my personal favorite is Hootsuite. It’s web-based, so easily accessible and it posts to several social media channels, allowing me to use one tool for all, not several.
Another aspect you need to keep in mind is your blog postings – you can write in advance when you have the time and schedule them in your blogging platform so that they are published whenever you need it. This way you won’t discover, in the middle of a general mess, that you have 30 minutes to produce and interesting new story for your blog.
When you publish fresh content on your blog or website, it also needs to be promoted. If the post itself is scheduled, why not make sure it is sent automatically to all the social networks that matter? Use NetworkedBlogs to have them posted to Facebook, a plugin of your choice to tweet the new article, use LinkedIn rss-pulling feature to promote fresh content. Things get done even if you forget exactly when a fresh post was scheduled and you have time for something else
3. Log off!
I know it is scary! The idea of turning your back to the Internet is frightening, especially when it’s your operation headquarters. So you can either log off if you can resist the temptation, preload everything you need and work from somewhere where there is no Internet connection, or, if it’s writing you have to do, use a tool like Dark Room – it will zone out all distraction, present you with a black screen and invite you to write your business plan, blog post, product feature or anything else you need to get on paper.
What do you do to handle the unavoidable distractions and make them work in your favor?