One of the biggest and most profound changes that you’ll need to make if you want to be successful online is you’ll need to shift your mindset. You’ll need to remove yourself from the more traditional line of thinking that tells you a certain number of hours worked results in a certain amount of money earned. That’s how an hourly wage works. That’s how a salary works. That’s now how working for yourself and running your own business works. That’s not how making money online works.
It’s not about trading hours for dollars, as John said over a decade ago. It’s about figuring out how you can put in fewer hours and yet bring in more dollars. This is completely counter-intuitive, but it is precisely the kind of questions you should be asking yourself. For my part, I’ve found great value in synergy and cross-pollination.
A One-Track Mind
Let’s put it this way. The more conventional line of thought would tell you that when you sit down to work on a particular task, that task is in service of a particular project, and that project is helping you move toward a particular goal. The relationship is very linear. The purpose is very singular.
The reason why I’m going to the store is because I want to buy a jug of milk. The reason why I want to buy a jug of milk is because I want to have milk with my cereal tomorrow morning. The reason why I want to have cereal is because it is a quick and nutritious breakfast. Going to the store serves a single purpose and moves you toward a single goal.
Do It Once, Profit Again and Again
Now, let’s look at this in an entirely different way. What if everything you did (or at least a lot of what you did) actually served more than one purpose, all without any real additional effort on your part? This is entirely different from multitasking, because you’re still only working on one task at a time; it’s just that the single task is contributing to multiple projects and multiple goals.
Here’s a simple example from my own professional life. I decided to start vlogging on a weekly basis around December 2016 and I committed myself to a full year on this video schedule. It’s partly an experiment and it’s partly in an effort to “exercise my creative muscles,” so to speak. The actual number of views don’t matter as much, because it was about having another platform and enjoying the learning experience.
The vlog itself — scripting (where necessary), shooting, editing, publishing, and so on — is one project, leading toward one or more goals. But it’s not at all self-contained. I’ve been able to parlay my experience with the vlog into articles that I’ve since written here on John Chow dot Com, like my tutorials on YouTube end screens and YouTube cards.
The “research” required to write those articles came from the work that I had already put in with creating the vlogs. I’m integrating my content across multiple platforms, all without actually duplicating the content itself. I’m extracting additional value by re-purposing what I have already done.
This is similar to how I approached both of my solo books: Beyond the Margins and, more recently, Beyond the Baby Babble. I used some of my existing blog posts that I’ve written on relevant topics as jumping off points, expanding and building on that content with additional information and new insights to expand them into the fuller books. There’s value in there, even for people who have been reading my blog for years. I’m using what I’ve already done and adding to it.
Milk It For All It’s Worth
Stop thinking that any one thing you do can only serve one purpose and move you closer to one goal. When you go to pick up that jug of milk, maybe you should walk to the grocery store to help achieve your fitness goals. And while walking, you might snap a great picture for your Instagram to grow your social media presence. It’s not just about having cereal tomorrow morning.