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The #1 Reason Why Most Blogs and Businesses Fail (And The 3 Questions You Need to Answer to Save Yours)

The #1 Reason Why Most Blogs and Businesses Fail (And The 3 Questions You Need to Answer to Save Yours)


    You’ve got a blog, you’re working hard cranking out posts consistently, you have a developed social media strategy, a solid game plan, and you’re doing all the right things.

    Or so you think.

    Maybe around month 6, or month 12, or month 18 you just hit a wall. Things aren’t progressing as quickly as they should or your stuff doesn’t seem to be catching on. Facebook “likes” are roughly the same week after week, you aren’t getting many new twitter followers, and you start wondering if what you’re doing matters after all the work you’ve put in. You’ve been contemplating making a paid product but your intuition is telling you that it’d probably flop at this point and be a waste of time.

    You’re stuck.

    But you’re not ready to throw in the towel and call it quits yet – you’re taking some time off to re-analyze, re-focus, and re-vamp your strategy. Through my own failures and the advice of many others, I’ve learned that there is 1 major reason why many blogs and businesses fail. 

    The reason they fail is because we’re all told to start a blog or business about something we’re passionate about. Except we’re never told that what we’re passionate about isn’t what matters. It’s what our audience and clients are passionate about.

    So in case you’ve hit that wall, things aren’t going well, and you’re losing hope that you’ll ever make a living from what you’re doing, here are the 3 questions you need to answer to save your blog and business.

    1. What problem do you solve?

    “You must offer what your potential clients want to buy, not what you want to sell or think they should want to buy.  You must be able to look at your services from your client’s perspective – their urgent needs and compelling desires.” – Michael Port in Book Yourself Solid

    Many people blog about whatever interests them.  They pick their passion and just start writing about it.

    Think about that for a moment.

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    Most of you probably say, “Well yeah, duh…I talk about what I like talking about,” and keep reading without thinking any further.

    But ask yourself this: Is there proven interest in what I’m writing about? Is writing about your passion (your best interests) really the best thing to do, or is writing about your audience’s wants (their best interests) the best thing to write about? There’s a reason why blogs about daily life or just generic musings about life generally don’t grow large quickly, while blogs about blogging grow quickly.

    Why?

    The sad truth? No one cares very much about what I personally write about daily life.  I don’t solve anything.  But people who read blogs about blogging are looking for a solution to a problem.

    • How to get more traffic.
    • How to get more subscribers.
    • How to create a product.
    • How to make more money on the side.

    And what you think your audience wants is rarely what your audience actually wants. If you can’t immediately, intuitively say “my blog solves xxx problem” you’re in a bad position.

    How to fix it: Sit down and write down the top 3 problems you think  your audience has.

    Now sit down and use the following 2 methods to figure out what your audience actually wants:

    • Look what’s popular around you. Products/services/niches that have proven demand are usually found all over the internet. What comes to mind? Weight loss, blogging, making money online. These topics are ubiquitous so you know they are in demand.
    • Ask using 3 tactics. Assuming you already have your blog going for a period of several months, employ the following 3 tactics to get more information about your audience:
    1. Provide two parts to your opt-in email response.  If you have some sort of offer you give for subscribing (an ebook, free course, etc.) use part 1 to say “here’s your free course” and use part 2 of the email to start a conversation. In the second part of your email write: “Wait, before you go, respond to this email and tell me your biggest problem or struggle right now.” The second part was a blogging tactic I learned from a friend, and immediately after I applied it began receiving dozens of personal “I need help with xxx” type responses. Free market research.
    2. Directly reach out to new readers. Have comments from people you haven’t seen around before? Send them an email saying thanks for stopping by and asking if they need help with any current struggles.
    3. Free Consultation via skype. Directly reach out to your list and offer them the opportunity to have a 15 minute skype conversation with you.  It’s a great way to connect with readers more and also figure out their struggles.

    So what are your audience’s problems? If you’re a blogger those may be: getting more traffic, getting more engagement (return visitors), and developing a product that sells well. If you write about health and fitness your audience’s top problems may be fat loss & muscle gain. If you write small biz information, your audience’s main problems might be figuring out how to find good business ideas to turn into a business, finding more clients, and getting the word out about your services. If your niche isn’t so clear cut – self help for example – you should still talk to your audience because self help is a huge category and your audience definitely will have trends regarding their problems.

    Remember that the problem is not always what you think it is. You need to empirically research your audience’s needs, and not guess.

    The truth is that if you’re not fixing a specific problem or set of problems, it’s going to be much harder for your audience to figure out what’s going on with your blog. And it will be much harder for you to get paid for the work you do.

    So…what problem do you solve for your audience?

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    The answer should immediately and intuitively come to mind — if it doesn’t, you have thinking to do.

    2. Determine the biggest result your audience/clients get 

    “What is the number one result you help your clients achieve or get?”

    So let’s say you’ve got your blog/business. If you can’t immediately say “my blog answers x problem” you are in for a rough trip. The purpose and function of your blog (and the problem it solves) should be instantly present in your mind. If you’re stuck thinking, “Well, it might be A, or it might be B, it’s kind of a hybrid, I’m not quite sure yet,” then you’re going down the wrong track.

    The biggest result you give your clients (your audience) should also be clear as day.

    • I help blogs get more traffic.
    • I help people lose fat.
    • I help cubicle slaves get clients for their own biz so they can quit their day job.

    Clear as day, straightforward and easy to share at a cocktail party in 3 seconds.

    If you can’t specifically say what benefit people get come from coming to your blog, from reading and digesting your content, you’re in trouble.

    How to fix it: Your audience’s problem should be obvious, and so should the solution you provide.

    In fact, these are the two most important factors in developing a successful business.  If you don’t solve a problem, and you can’t specifically say what benefit your clients/audience will achieve, why would people stick around?

    Sure you can get people that stick around for fun, or because they enjoy your writing, or because you talk about lofty aspirations, but the majority of people are searching for a solution to a specific problem or ailment.

    Provide specific results for a specific problem and your blog will thrive.

    3. How good of an investment is your product/service/content?

    “Do potential clients within your target market see your services and products as opportunities that will give them a significant return on their investment? Clients should get a return of at least 20 times their investment. “ -Michael Port

    When people compare online products to offline ones, they sometimes comment on how a $50 ebook is a huge ripoff. Or how a $120 affiliate marketing course is such a scam.

    But are they really? What if you pay $120 for an affiliate marketing course, and then spend 6 months setting up a couple mini sites?

    Let’s say after 6 months of work, 1 site brings in $300/month. After a year of income ($3600) your $120 was just returned 30x. That’s a good financial investment.

    Or, what if you spend $100 on a class on getting more clients?

    Within a month you have your first client paying you $100 an hour, once a week, every week. The next month you add on another client. The third month you add on a third client. With the addition of your third client, you’re making $300 a week, or $1200 a month.

    And it all started with a $100 product or mini course.

    That’s a good financial investment.  But your audience needs to know that. So you honestly need to ask yourself how much of a return will your audience get from what you give, and how tangible it is.

    The sad truth is that the less tangible your return is (e.g. “happiness” “peace of mind” etc.) the harder it will be for your audience to find a reason to pay you product-wise.

    Happiness is obviously important, but in terms of having people pay you, it’s much more intangible and thus hard to quantify and guarantee, and so is the return for your audience. The easiest way to turn something intangible into something with a clear reward is…. You guessed it, make it tangible, or make the intangible benefits a side-benefit.

    So instead of offering “peace of mind” “feeling like your time is worthwhile” or the like, you might say, “find your passion and turn it into a business that pays you.”

    The physical return you can guarantee? Money.

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    Other returns? Happiness, meaningful work, peace of mind.

    You need to be totally clear about what result your audience / clients get, and even if you’re dealing with a somewhat intangible niche you can make it physical and the returns very real and easy to quantify.

    How to fix it: If your service or product isn’t a worthwhile investment, people won’t come back.

    People will be very hesitant to fork out money for your product or service offered unless they are sure that the investment they put in will return many times over.

    And they will have a hard time forking over money for a product or service where they can’t quit measure what they’ll get out of it.

    The problem with intangible rewards like “happiness” or “peace of mind” is that it’s hard to estimate the return on them because they are intangibles.

    The solution is to use those as side-benefits, and instead make the main benefits more tangible.

    You need to mention that your “get more clients” course is both a smart financial return (“$1000 in 6 months guarantee”) and a smart emotional return (“quit your day job to do work you love”).

    So…can you prove that your product or service or blog content is a good investment for people? How?

    Having immediate, clear answers to these 3 questions will already set you ahead of most bloggers that aimlessly shoot for dreams of financial independence.

    And if/when that day comes where you’re about to throw in the towel: make a cup of tea, sit down, and ask yourself these two questions:

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    1. What problem does my audience have?
    2. What specific result or solution can I provide to fix that problem?

    Turn your only focus into helping your audience and clients achieve what they want, and you’ll find a much clearer, less messy road to success.

    (Photo credit: Desperate Businessperson via Shutterstock)

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    Last Updated on August 20, 2019

    How to Set Financial Goals and Actually Meet Them

    How to Set Financial Goals and Actually Meet Them

    Finances can push anyone to the point of extreme anxiety and worry. Easier said than done, planning finances is not an egg meant for everyone’s basket. And that’s why most of us are often living pay check to pay check. But did anyone tell you that it is actually not a tough task to meet your financial goals?

    In this article, we will explore ways on how to set financial goals and then actually meet them with ease.

    5 Steps to Set Financial Goals

    Though setting financial goals might seem to be a daunting task but if one has the will and clarity of thought, it is rather easy. Try using these steps:

    1. Be Clear About the Objectives

    Any goal (let alone financial) without a clear objective is nothing more than a pipe dream. And this couldn’t be more true for financial matters.

    It is often said that savings is nothing but deferred consumption. Therefore if you are saving today, then you should be crystal clear about what it is for. It could be anything like kid’s education, retirement, marriage, that dream vacation, fancy car etc.

    Once the objective is clear, put a monetary value to that objective and the time frame. The important point at this step of goal setting is to list all the objectives, however small they may be, that you foresee in the future and put a value to it.

    2. Keep Them Realistic

    It’s good to be an optimistic person but being a pollyanna is not desirable. Similarly, while it might be a good thing to keep your financial goals a bit aggressive, going out of the line will definitely hurt your chances of achieving them.

    It’s important that you keep your goals realistic in nature for it will help you stay the course and keep you motivated throughout the journey.

    3. Account for Inflation

    Ronald Reagan once said – “Inflation is as violent as a mugger, as frightening as an armed robber and as deadly as a hitman”. And this quote sums up the best what inflation could do your financial goals.

    Therefore account for inflation whenever you are putting a monetary value to a financial objective that is far away in the future.

    For example, if one of your financial goal is your son’s college education, which is 15 years hence, then inflation would increase the monetary burden by more than 50% if inflation is mere 3%. So always account for inflation.

    4. Short Term vs Long Term

    Just like every calorie is not the same, the approach towards achieving every financial goal will not be the same. It is important to bifurcate goals in short term and long term.

    As a rule of thumb, any financial goal, which is due in next 3 years should be termed as short term goal. Any longer duration goals are to be classified as long term goals. This bifurcation of goals into short term vs long term will help in choosing the right investment instrument to achieve them.

    More on this later when we talk about how to achieve financial goals.

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    5. To Each to His Own

    The journey of setting financial goals is an individualistic affair i.e. your goals are your own goals and are determined by your want to achieve them. A lot of times we get on the bandwagon of goal setting only to realize later on that it was not meant for us.

    It is important that your goals are actually your goals and not inspired by someone else. Take a hard look at this step at all the goals you’ve set for after this step, you will be on the way to achieve them.

    By now, you would be ready with your financial goals, now it’s time to go all out and achieve them.

    11 Ways to Achieve Your Financial Goals

    Whenever we talk about chasing any financial goal, it is usually a 2 step process –

    • Ensuring healthy savings
    • Making smart investments

    You will need to save enough; and invest those savings wisely so that they grow over a period of time to help you achieve goals. So let’s get down to ensuring healthy savings.

    Ensuring Healthy Savings

    Self realization is the best form of realisation and unless you decide what your current financial position is, you aren’t heading anywhere.

    This is the focal point from where you start your journey of achieving financial goals.

    1. Track Expenses

    The first and the foremost thing to be done is to track your monthly expenses. Use any of the expense tracking mobile apps to record your expenses. Once you start doing it diligently, you would be surprised to see how small expenses add up to a sizeable amount.

    Also categorize those expenses into different bucket so that you know which bucket is eating the most of your pay check. This record keeping will pave the way for cutting down on un-wanted expenses and pump up your savings rate.

    2. Pay Yourself First

    Generally, savings come after all the expenses have been taken care of. This is a classical mistake which almost everyone of us do. We pay ourselves last!

    Ideally, this should be planned upside down. We should be paying ourselves first and then to the world i.e. we should be taking out the planned saving amount first and then manage all the expenses from the rest.

    The best way to actually implement is to put the savings on automatic mode i.e. money flowing automatically into different financial instruments (for example – mutual funds, retirement corpus etc) every month.

    Taking the automatic route will make us lose control of our money and hence will compel us to manage in what’s left with us thereby increasing the savings rate.

    3. Make a Plan and Vow to Stick with It

    Budgeting is the best to get around the uncertainty that financial plans always pose. Decide in advance how spending has to be made.

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    Nowadays, several money management apps and wallets can help you do this automatically. It’s easy and who knows, you may just end up doing what people fail to do.

    At first, you may not be able to stick to your plans completely but don’t let that become a reason why you stop budgeting entirely.

    Make use of technology solutions you like. Explore options and alternatives that let you make use of the available wallet options and choose the one that suits you the most. In time, you will get accustomed to making use of these solutions.

    You will find that they make it simpler for you to follow your plan, which would have been difficult otherwise.

    4. Rise Again Even If You Fall

    Let’s be realistic. It’s not like the world will come to an end if you made one mistake. This isn’t called leniency but discipline.

    If you fail to meet your budget for a month, don’t give up the entire effort just like that. Instead, start again.

    Remember that flexible plans are the most realistic plans. So go forward and try to follow your financial goals as planned but if for some reason, the plan gets out of hand for you, do not give up on it just yet. This has a lot to do with your psychology rather than any material commitment.

    All you have to do is to stay on the road and vow to stay on it, no matter how much you fall down.

    5. Make Savings a Habit and Not a Goal

    In the book Nudge, authors Richard Thaler and Cass Sunstein advocate that in order to achieve any goal, it should be broken down into habits since habits are more intuitive for people to adapt to.

    Make Savings a habit rather than a goal. While it might seem to be counter intuitive to many but there are some deft ways of doing it. For example:

    Always eat out (if at all) during weekdays rather than weekends. Usually weekends are expensive. Make it a habit and you would in turn be saving a great deal.

    If you are travelling buff, try to travel during off season. Your outlay will be much less.

    If you go out for shopping, always look out for coupons and see where can you get the best deal.

    So the key point is to imbibe the action that results in savings rather than on the savings itself, which is the outcome. Focusing on the outcome will bring out the feeling of sacrifice which will be harder to sustain over a period of time.

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    6. Talk About It

    Sticking to the saving schedule (to achieve financial goals) is not an easy journey. There will be many distractions from those who are not aligned with your mission. And it would be rather easy to lose the grip over your discipline.

    Therefore in order to stay the course, it is advisable that you keep yourself surrounded with people who are also on the same bandwagon. Daily discussions with them will keep you motivated to move forward.

    7. Maintain a Journal

    For some people, writing helps a great deal in making sure that they achieve what they plan.

    So if you are one of them, maintain a proper journal, where you write down your goals and also jot down the extent to which you managed to meet them. This will help you in reviewing how far you have come and which goals you have met.

    Use this journal to write down all essential points such as your short term, mid term and long term goals, your current sources of income, your regular expenses which you are aware of and any committed expenses which are of recurring nature.

    When you have a written commitment on paper, you are going to feel more energised to follow the plan and stick to it. Moreover, it is going to be a lot more easier for you to follow you and track your progress.

    At this point, you should be ready with your financial goals and would be doing brilliantly with savings; now it’s time to talk about the big daddy – Investments.

    Making Smart Investments

    Savings by themselves don’t take anyone too far. However savings when invested wisely can do wonders and we are at that stage where we will talk about making smart investments.

    8. Consult a Financial Advisor

    Investments doesn’t come naturally to most of us therefore rather than dabbling with it ourselves, it is wise to consult a financial advisor.

    Talk to him/her about your financial goals and savings and then seek advice for the best investment instruments to achieve your goals.

    9. Choose Your Investment Instrument Wisely

    Though your financial advisor will suggest the best investment instruments, it doesn’t hurt to know a bit about them.

    Just like “no one is born a criminal”, no investment instrument is bad or good. It is the application of that instrument that makes all the difference.

    Do you remember we talked about bifurcating financial goals in short term and long term?

    It is here where that classification will help.

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    So as a general rule, for all your short term financial goals, choose an investment instrument that has debt nature for example fixed deposits, debt mutual funds etc. The reason for going for debt instruments is that chances of capital loss is less as compared to equity instruments.

    10. Compounding Is the Eighth Wonder

    Einstein once remarked about compounding,

    Compound Interest is the eighth wonder of the world. He who understands it, earns it… He who doesn’t… Pays it.

    So make friends with this wonder kid. And sooner you become friends with it, quicker you will reach closer to your financial goals.

    Start investing early so that time is on your side to help you bear the fruits of compounding.

    11. Measure, Measure, Measure

    All of us do good when it comes to earning more per month but fail miserably when it comes to measuring the investments; taking stock of how our investments are doing.

    If there is one single step where everything (so far) can go wrong, it is at this step – Measuring the Progress.

    If we don’t measure the progress timely, then we would be shooting in the dark. We wouldn’t know if our saving rate is appropriate or not; whether financial advisor is doing a decent job; whether we are moving closer to our target or not.

    Do measure everything. If you can’t measure it all yourself, ask your financial advisor to do it for you. But do it!

    The Bottom Line

    This completes the list of tips for you to set financial goals and actually achieve them with not so great difficulty.

    As you can see, all it requires is discipline. But guess that’s the most difficult part!

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    Featured photo credit: rawpixel via unsplash.com

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