Love him, hate him, or love hating him, Kanye West has become an incredibly divisive figure in the music industry and in popular culture at large. There are many people who disagree with who he is, what he does and what he stands for, but just because you disagree with a person doesn’t mean that you can’t learn something from them. And Kanye West is a treasure trove of lessons for people who want to make money online, particularly bloggers who are keen to make a name for themselves and earn a healthy living doing what they love.
Above All Else, Be True to Yourself
If there is one thing you can say about Kanye West, it’s that he has absolutely no issues with speaking his mind. He doesn’t care who is listening, he doesn’t care what other people think of him. If he believes something to be true in his heart of hearts, he’ll let you know it.
And while most of us probably don’t want to be quite as brash and unfiltered as the rapper-producer is, you’ll find that many of the most successful bloggers take on a similar attitude when it comes to their opinions. Anyone who has known John Chow for any length of time will know that he’ll always call things as he sees them, right or wrong.
There is no point in achieving any level of success–as an artist, a musician, a blogger, an Internet marketer, or an e-commerce giant–if it means sacrificing who you really are. Pursue “good business,” but always do things the way you want to do them.
Respect Your Artistry
“Everybody is a genius. But if you judge a fish by its ability to climb a tree, it will live its whole life believing that it is stupid.” That’s a quote from Albert Einstein and it certainly rings true here. You are a genius. Kanye West is a genius. You just might be different kinds of geniuses in different areas with different talents, but make no mistake about it: you are talented.
When Kanye first started out, record executives didn’t really take his rapping prowess all that seriously and figured he would be a better producer. Kanye took this opportunity, but his passion was to be a rapper. So, he maintained his respect for his own artistry, forged forward, and eventually released The College Dropout in 2004 to all kinds of fame and fortune. You have to believe in yourself first.
Learn from Your Mistakes
Many of us will remember the night when Kanye West stormed the stage at the 2009 MTV Video Music Awards, snatched the microphone away from Taylor Swift, and loudly proclaimed that while he was going to let her finish, he felt Beyonce’s music video was one of the greatest “of all time.”
West got a lot of flack for his actions. While he had every right to speak his mind (see the first point above), the manner in which he did it was unprofessional and unacceptable. At the 57th Grammy Awards, Kanye almost did the same thing when Beck won the award for Album of the Year. He got out of his seat and was walking toward the stage when he thought better of it, turned around, and sat back down.
Even though Beyonce was still disgusted by his actions, Kanye at least let Beck finish. Baby steps. Baby steps.
Concentrate Then Diversify
In an episode of Driving with John Chow, John spoke about the myth of diversification. He said that if you want to get rich, you don’t diversify; you concentrate. You focus on one specific thing and get really, really good at it. After you’re already rich and after you’re already established, that’s when you can choose to diversify.
And that’s precisely the career path that Kanye West took. While he did well as a producer (and continues to do that), he wanted to be known as a rapper first. So, he pursued that to his fullest. Since then, West has explored other business ventures, like opening Fatburger restaurants in his hometown of Chicago. In “respecting his artistry,” Kanye has also worked with fashion and design, along with his philanthropic efforts.
As a professional blogger, you are advised to do the same. Focus on one project, one area and earn your success there. Then, you can start to explore other opportunities, leveraging your earlier success and building an increasingly large and lucrative empire. Then, you’ll indeed lead the “good life” with GOOD Music.