Know your metric

When it comes to blogging or marketing, people often have different metrics for success.

Some people measure success through the number of followers or subscribers they have. Others measure it through the amount of money they make per month, either from advertisers or from selling something. Others measure it through the number of shares they have for a post, an update, a video, etc.

My metric is simple: appreciation. Specifically, it’s the number of people who tell me, either through comments or emails or in-person, that something I’ve shared or created has helped, impacted, or challenged them in some way.  If at least one person shows appreciation for something I’ve shared or created (not just gratitude, not just “thank you,” but some acknowledgement of impact), then I consider that a successful share or product or service. (More people showing appreciation = a greater measure of success.)

Keeping this metric always at the forefront of my mind helps guide all my decisions online (and offline).  It allows me to judge possible decisions based on one simple question: “Is this something that my readers or customers will show appreciation for?”  Is this something that my readers or customers will tell me, “This has changed the way I think or do things”?

If it’s yes, then I consider doing it. If it’s no, then I won’t do it. It’s as simple as that.

Of course, people don’t have to show appreciation in order for something to change the way they think or behave.  But if I think I can get that response from them, then to me, it’s worth trying.

Now what about you? What’s your metric?


Prepare, prepare, prepare

One of my favorite fables is The Boar and the Fox. It goes something like this. One day a Fox is walking in the woods and spots a Boar, sharpening its tusks against an old tree. The Fox, seeing no one around, asks the boar: “Why are you sharpening your tusks? There is neither a hunter nor a hound in sight.”

The Boar responds: “It would do me no good to have to sharpen my tusks at the time when I should be using them.”

Derek Sivers, founder of CD Baby, advises his readers: don’t start a business until people are asking you to. In other words, focus on trying to fill a demand or need – don’t just create an idea and hope people like it.

But what if, like me, you don’t know what demand you’re trying to fill? What if you know you want to start a business or enterprise, but you’re not sure what to do, who to help, etc.? My answer: Sharpen your tusks.

Prepare yourself. Start a project you can be excited about. Don’t worry about being rich and famous and powerful yet. Develop your skills and make yourself valuable. Build a network of valuable connections. Show your work.

As you develop your skills and grow your knowledge, you’ll have a much better time spotting and seizing opportunities that come your way. And because you’re prepared, you’ll have a much easier time with it.

So don’t feel bad when you hear “success stories” of people around you. Just focus on yourself, build yourself, and you’ll be fine.


Austin Kleon



Make a list of possible projects

Sometimes you have too many ideas pop into your head that take you into a million directions. You want to write a book, you want to start your own business, you want to create your own course, you want to build a website, etc.

You know you can’t do it all at once, but you also know that you don’t want to let go of these ideas. So what do you do?

What I do is create a file for each possible idea. Then I put all these “possible projects” into a folder (actually a notebook in Evernote, but same difference). And voila!

Most of the projects include ideas that I probably will never get to; but some of them do turn into projects that I’ll actually work on.

Doing this allows me not only to give an idea a chance for consideration later, but to give my mind a break by letting it not get consumed by a possible project. Right now I have 25 possible projects in there (some of which I actually did turn into real projects).

I love this practice because I never get bored now. I always have something to work on, something to apply and develop my skills towards. Maybe it’ll have the same effect for you.


Derek Sivers