The First Rule of Building a Thriving Online Audience

The First Rule of Building a Thriving Online Audience

If you want to build a thriving online audience of fans and customers who will push you to unthinkable heights, there’s one thing you have to get right first, above all else.

Have a vision for your followers.

People don’t just want helpful tips or useful services or valuable products from you. What your potential followers really want from you is a vision for transforming their lives or their businesses into something extraordinary.

They want you to guide them through extraordinary change, and your vision must clearly articulate these four essential elements:

  1. What remarkable things you will help your followers achieve
  2. How your approach is different from everyone else
  3. Why your vision is better than the competition
  4. How you will make the change easier or more beneficial to achieve

Having vision is how you become a leader.

Creating a compelling vision is difficult, and that’s where the opportunity lies. Average people think short-term. They think about what they need to learn or do to make their lives incrementally better. They look for solutions to problems.

Leaders think long-term. They think about how to accomplish extraordinary things that might take a year or five years or a decade or more to achieve. Thinking that far into the future is hard to do. It’s also intangible and doesn’t lead to instant gratification. That’s why most people don’t have vision.

Learning about a vision when you don’t have one is an incredible experience. It’s as if someone has shown you a map of the world for the first time. Your vision can be someone else’s map.

Vision is the art of seeing what is invisible to others. -Jonathan Swift

If your followers can’t see past what they need to accomplish today or this week, showing them the invisible can earn you the status of a leader.

But first you need to develop a vision that will inspire.

How to Develop an Inspiring Vision

Before you can develop an inspiring vision for your followers, you need something equally important first. You need a vision for yourself and your own life.

You want to build an online audience to accomplish something else. How deeply have you thought about what you’re trying to accomplish? How far into the future have you planned for yourself?

Leaders are people who accomplish great things for themselves as well as their followers. They do that by having a long-term vision for both themselves and their followers.

When you started your website or blog, was it part of a bigger vision, or were you just playing around with it, trying to learn something new?

You won’t start to accomplish great things yourself until you start planning for your success. You can’t develop an inspiring vision for your followers until you have one for yourself.

Your plan doesn’t have to be perfect or set in stone. You don’t have to know what you want to be doing 20 years from now either (although it might actually help). Start with what you want to achieve within three years. Write it down. Then work backwards and figure out what you need to do next year, this year and this month to get there.

Try this free goal setting workbook from Scott Dinsmore to help you plan.

“It is literally true that you can succeed best and quickest by helping others to succeed.” -Napoleon Hill

This is how developing your own vision will lead to developing an inspiring vision for other people. Helping other people succeed is the best way to succeed yourself.

At the core of your personal vision should be your vision for how to help others. Ask yourselves these four questions:

  1. What are you uniquely passionate about and qualified to help people achieve?
  2. How can you help people achieve your vision for them in a way that no one else is doing?
  3. How will you make following your vision more worthwhile than following someone else’s vision?
  4. How will you explain why your vision is worth following?

If you develop a vision for yourself, no matter how simple it is, you’ll be infinitely closer to achieving it than you are today. If you develop a vision for changing the lives of the people you aim to help, you’ll be 100 times more worthy of following than your competitors who don’t have a vision.

And the truth is, few people have a concrete vision for the people they want to help. Just by developing your vision, you’ll put yourself into an elite category of leaders.

No Topic is Too Small for Vision

I don’t care if you’re trying to bring clean and safe drinking water to the people of developing nations, if you’re trying to help people lose weight, or if you’re selling project management software. The core of every successful business or project is vision.

Your job is to figure out how your business or project can make good, inspire people and change lives and then to articulate that vision in a compelling way. That’s the first rule of building a thriving online audience.

What’s your vision for yourself and your followers? Spend some time thinking about that and it just might change your life.

Then come back here and tell us what your vision is in the comments.

If you’re new here and wondering why all this sounds so different from the typical traffic-building advice, it’s because we’re starting something new at Think Traffic. It’s time to focus on what matters and stop passing around the same typical empty social media tips. Being successful online takes more than typical advice.

If you’d like to join our cause, sign up for free updates.

We would also really appreciate if you shared this article on Twitter or Facebook (use the buttons below).

Photo by ~jjjohn~

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  • http://www.youngprepro.com Onibalusi Bamidele

    Awesome post Corbett,

    This post is really important and I love the title!

    I have never thought about having a vision for my audience, I’ve only been thinking about myself…I think now is the time for a change. Thanks so much for the eye opener :)

    • http://fizzle.co Corbett Barr

      Awesome, glad to help. You’ll get some amazing results if you really commit to the process and focus on your readers.

  • http://wilsonusman.com wilson usman

    I’m with you on this one too, if we take a look at the biggest leaders online or offline they had a vision of some sort.

    example: Steve Jobs-“make a dent in the universe” Muhammad Yunus- “work towards creating a poverty free world”

    man I like this blog, never leave thinking shit, I’ve read this before.

    Thanks again dude… I’m gonna have to think about this one for a bit.

    • http://fizzle.co Corbett Barr

      That’s my goal, Wilson, never let my readers leave thinking “shit, I’ve read this before” ;)

  • http://livingthebalancedlife.com Living the Balanced Life

    My blog title is actually my vision for my readers, to help them live a more balanced life. What makes me uniquely qualified to talk about this subject is that I went thru a mental meltdown and burnout due to stress and overload last year. My blog details what I have done to come back from that point and how others can recover as well, or hopefully avoid getting to that point.
    This post have given me a few other things to think about though!
    Thanks!
    Bernice

    • http://fizzle.co Corbett Barr

      Hey Bernice, it sounds like you’ve thought through things quite a bit already. One tip I have is to articulate your vision in terms of benefits. What will “living the balanced life” help your readers achieve exactly? How will you help them achieve it? Balance sounds nice, but it isn’t a quantifiable outcome or particularly unique concept.

  • http://marleeward.com Marlee

    Great points here Corbett!

    One thing you highlight that I think gets so overlooked is having a vision and communicating it with consistency. I see so many people just copying other leaders in their industry and it’s killing them. Taking the time to find your voice and understand your purpose is critical to building a LOYAL audience.

    Thanks for this!

    • http://fizzle.co Corbett Barr

      Exactly, Marlee. You might attract traffic by regurgitating the same tired old thoughts, but you’ll never build raving fans that way.

  • http://www.alemja.net/blog Alexandra Jackson

    Man, this couldn’t have come at a better time since I’ve been laying down the grounds for a project that is pretty much declaring my mission. I had some doubts about it but this convinced me that is the right thing for me to do, and it all makes sense. If you aren’t declaring some sort of mission, vision or greater objective then what is your purpose for doing the things you do?

    Let’s do this!

    • http://fizzle.co Corbett Barr

      Absolutely! You’re on the right track. Building a solid foundation before you start will always pay off in the end.

  • http://www.peaceandprojects.com Melissa Gorzelanczyk

    Hey Corbett,
    I’ve started coming back to your blog to make myself think. Today’s post didn’t let me down.

    My vision feels overly simple, but I’m going to share it anyways: I just want to be truly present with the people I love as much as possible.

    I want to share the simple things in life – like an amazing view, meals made with real food, music from an actual instrument (not always the iPod) – with those I love. I’m designing a life where that is possible. Taking out some of the busy work. Filling in with simple pleasures. Doing work that matters to me.

    Keep up the great writing. Your response to Jacob Sokol made me smile.
    Melissa G.

    • http://fizzle.co Corbett Barr

      I like that vision, Melissa. Is that also your vision for your readers? How do you plan to uniquely help people achieve that? How will they know when they’ve achieved it (again, what are the quantifiable benefits and outcomes)?

      Glad you’re enjoying the blog. Thanks as always for reading.

  • http://website-in-a-weekend.net/ Dave Doolin

    This is perfect timing for me, Corbett.

    It looks like all this geekery I’ve been up to on my site is finally striking a chord with people. At least some seem to be *craving* the ability to make WordPress sing and dance, and this includes business people as well as programmers.

    I did a workshop yesterday, WordPress Hackathon over at Techliminal in Oakland (come over some time, very cool place, very close to BART) for East Bay WordPress Meetup, and took a little over a dozen people much deeper into WordPress hacking than I thought would be possible.

    One of the participants, a woman with 30 years of corporate advertising and marketing experience, even bought an Acer laptop and loaded Ubuntu Linux on the laptop. I was blown away! Not what I would recommended, but, hey, if she wants to play hardball with WordPress, I’m on board.

    Overall, I was immensely pleased by the intensity all participants brought the table. (A little surprised too.) Everyone showed up ready to dig deep and learn.

    So, what am I doing that no one else is doing? I think part of it is successfully bridging the technical world and the not-so-technical world. The people I talk to either *cannot* afford to outsource anything, or more importantly, refuse to outsource anything they don’t have a working business knowledge of. But they are smart, ambitious, and their dreams of a bright future are coupled to concrete responsibilities of here-and-now to pay the mortgage. If a little programming is required along the way, well, let’s get after it.

    • http://fizzle.co Corbett Barr

      There’s definitely always a place for people who can bridge gaps. Geeks usually take too many things for granted for normal people to follow.

      Just don’t forget to paint the whole picture. By learning all the technical wizardry you’re teaching, what will I achieve in life or business? How will my life be different?

      • http://website-in-a-weekend.net/ Dave Doolin

        I heard it again today from one of my clients: “I demand control over every aspect of my business.”

        Obviously, that won’t scale up forever, but she is adamant about understand the principles behind the marketing… and the technology. She’ll outsource it later. Actually, she’s going build a budget for in-house IT once she gets large enough.

        Given I was formally trained – credentialed – to teach pretty much the first two years of most university engineering and math curricula (and grad classes in my field, of course), I think I’m on to something. Even Feynman taught freshman classes: “If we can’t explain it to freshmen, we probably don’t understand it very well.”

  • http://millermosaicsocialmediamarketing.com Phyllis Zimbler Miller

    Corbett —

    Perhaps the most important point of your well-written and compelling post is that it is necessary to plan where we want to be x years from now and work backwards.

    There is so much that we can do each day that often the big picture gets submerged in the ongoing daily details.

    I do know that my social media marketing company partner and I have had the vision from day one of our company that we want to teach our clients how to do things themselves so that they can be in control of their own destiny.

    We started our company because we were frustrated by having to wait for others to do what we needed done for ourselves. First we got control of our own sites and goals, and now we help our clients do the same for their sites and goals.

    Phyllis Zimbler Miller
    http://twitter.com/ZimblerMiller

    • http://fizzle.co Corbett Barr

      Awesome Phyllis, kudos for having a vision from day one. Don’t forget to revisit and revise that vision on a periodic basis if necessary.

  • Dina Eisenberg|Speak Up Powerfully

    Corbett, I owe Pat Flynn a huge hug for introducing me to Think Traffic. Loved your 18 Month Manifesto and this article continues that honest, well- thought out quality I like about your style. You’re right. Typical advice doesn’t work if you want extraordinary results.

    Your excellent questions really encouraged me to think not only forward about my vision, but to reflect back on what it’s been over the course of two decades of professional life as a lawyer, mediator and Ombudsman.

    Say your truth. Be heard and prosper.

    Teaching people to use strategies and words to bring more peace, generosity and power into their own lives has been my life’s work. I’m about figuring out why people don’t talk and how to fix that. And, now it’s the focus of the blog I’m launching this April, Speak Up Powerfully.

    Asking my readers to join in something much bigger than them, that allows them to have deeply satisfying relationships and be happier at work and at home, is both inspiring and humbling vision.

    Before reading this post I had a business. Now I have a movement. Thanks, Corbett

    • http://fizzle.co Corbett Barr

      Viva la revolución! Congrats on the start of your movement. Please keep us updated on your progress.

  • http://adambeckett.com Adam Beckett

    Corbett, my vision extends far beyond my death.

    I want to encourage a highly significant reduction in CO2 levels via my existing business clients (I’m in the energy business, working with an Environment aware industry sector)

    The key is to leverage this movement via a national network of partners, that’s in the pipeline ready to roll out over the next month.

    Meantime I’m with Melissa; concentrating on the important here and now, being with people I love and being thankful for the great Life I’m leading.

  • http://www.CodrutTurcanu.com Codrut Turcanu

    Very GOOD info, as always

    I start to wonder what’s the second rule of building thriving online audiences, the leader style :)

  • http://superbadinternetmarketing.com Jeff

    You are killing it with these posts! This is quickly becoming one of my favorite blogs to read.

    I think vision is very important and I struggled with that in the beginning. The more you do, the more you realize it’s not about you, it’s about your visitors/clients/customers. The more you focus on what they want, the more successful you’ll be…as you point out.

    • http://fizzle.co Corbett Barr

      Thanks Jeff, happy to help make you think. Thanks for reading!

  • http://cashwithatrueconscience.com/rbblog/how-i-can-teach-you-to-succeed-with-cash-gifting/ Ryan Biddulph

    Hi Corbett,

    This post reminds me of the quote:

    “Don’t be pushed by your problems, be led by your dreams.”

    Being led by your dreams means having a vision. Hold this vision in the face of all evidence suggesting it isn’t coming to fruition. Your vision becomes infectious, felt by people who share a similar vision for a greater life.

    We respond to people who hold a clear and definite vision. Folks who become billionaires, the greatest teachers, the greatest leaders. These people saw realities in mind before they experienced these realities on the physical plane and that’s what having a vision is all about.

    At the core of my vision is making an impact. That’s why I leave small guest posts for comments ;) Wherever I am, I want to be fully present. I always think that I have to be wherever I am at the time.

    Thanks for sharing your insight Corbett.

    RB

    • http://fizzle.co Corbett Barr

      Great quote, Ryan. Here’s to making an impact.

  • http://www.murlu.com Murlu

    Corbett, I have a pretty interesting question though:

    What if your readers aren’t ready to take the plunge into what you have to teach?

    For example, if you were teaching various ways to drive traffic to a site but they haven’t yet started one, what do you do with these people other than point them in the direction to how they can get started?

    What I’m basically asking is how to cultivate a community which takes action and doesn’t just read.

    I think a lot of people just want something to learn each day but may not act on any of the tips – what if they share your vision but aren’t ready to chase it?

    It seems that I have a ton of posts which dive deep into a topic but I feel that no one is actually following through with what I have to offer. Is it just my topics that aren’t hitting the spot?

    • http://fizzle.co Corbett Barr

      Hey Murlu, great question. This is a fundamental principle of marketing: if you try to appeal to everyone, you’ll appeal to no one. Focus on the people who want to take action. If someone isn’t ready, it isn’t your job to talk them into it. If you start to focus on the action takers and still aren’t making progress, then yes, your topics probably aren’t “hitting the spot” as you say.

      • http://www.murlu.com Murlu

        Thanks Corbett

        Got a few ideas rattling around in my head now after reading your response; perhaps it’s healthy to alienate a few in order to reach who you really want to talk to – I do feel a bit bad thinking of it that way but at the same time, like I mentioned, I really want to work with those that will take action – the go-getters.

  • http://www.journeyofmyown.com Clayton

    Hi Corbett,

    Thanks for this post. It is a good thing for me to keep in mind with my blog. I started out just a hermit mumbling to myself on the fringes of the internet, but now that I’m getting some readers, I sometimes don’t really know what to give them to keep them interested and sticking around my blog. Thanks for the tip.

    -Clayton
    PS: Hope you’re enjoying Mexico!

    • http://fizzle.co Corbett Barr

      Yeah Clayton, when you think tactically without having a long-term plan it’s hard to keep the good content flowing. A vision will give you a much stronger sense of what to write about.

  • http://positivespinblog.com Linda from Positive Spin

    I love this site, it makes me think outside the box.
    Here’s my vision for my readers (I’ll be adding to it all week in my trusty notebook, but here’s the start…)

    I want to write dynamic, empowering posts that will galvanise my readers to take some action, however small, that will help them see the ‘Upside’ in all that happens to them.
    I want them to leave my blog with a ‘can do’ attitude and to be not only thinking about what they’ve read, but fired up to take the challenges/set the goals/make the changes/ and live the life they choose.

    • http://fizzle.co Corbett Barr

      Sounds great, Linda, just don’t forget to explain how your approach is different from other people focused on the same vision.

  • http://hearmumroar.com Hear Mum Roar

    I love this! It’s true too, all the blogs I get the most out of have this.

  • Rick H

    Corbett

    Excellent post!

  • http://www.creativerelationship.com Claudia

    Kudos for this post Corbett…I’ve been reading your post on and off for a while, but this one is the one that made me sign on and commit to having you in my inbox!
    I like the new *focus on what matters and stop passing around the same typical empty social media tips* idea.

    • http://fizzle.co Corbett Barr

      Fantastic Claudia! Glad the new focus is resonating with you. See you around.

  • http://www.hectorjcuevas.com Hector Cuevas

    I’m sold.. definitely getting started with this tonight. I read about wanting more for your customers than they want for themselves – but I never put any thought into coming up with any vision.

    I think I have an idea, I just have to put it on “paper”…

    awesome piece Corbett

  • http://satyacolombo.com Satya Colombo

    Killer synapse between heart and mind…love the way these fire when you produce your work. Brilliant.

  • http://www.CreativeGuideToLife.com Susan

    Thanks for this. I realized I know what makes me unique, and know what I want to say, but am largely lacking the long-term vision to lead. I also have a feeling what you’re really doing is telling others “this is how we’re going to do it” but then you’re also listening to determine next steps.

    You’re leading by finding out what your audience really needs. So your vision is one thing and that’s largely cemented – but the process and steps involved evolves and shifts depending on where you need to lead.

    Does the audience determine the direction? Maybe they all know they’re going across the world and they learn to trust you can get them there. But as a collective whole the entire community is figuring out if it’s by boat, air, or road.

    • http://fizzle.co Corbett Barr

      Absolutely, you need to listen to your audience, but it’s a balance. You have to present your long-term vision and approach and be clear about who you’re aiming to help. People will self-select based on your direction. If you don’t seem like you have a long-term direction because you’re constantly asking questions of your audience, you’ll have a hard time getting people to stick around.

  • http://hypno.co.nz/blogs Mike Reeves-McMillan

    My vision is to help people implement the high-leverage changes that will make their lives more manageable and free up the energy to do great things.

    That definition obviously needs to boil down more, but it’s a start.

  • http://martinairing.com/blog Martina Iring

    Great post! I struggled with finding my vision for quite a while, but when I tapped into my true passion, it was hard to believe it took me so long to get there. But it’s all part of the journey :) I am a marketer, and I am also totally obsessed with small businesses and helping them succeed. I believe that they are part of a better world. To have freedom to do what we love and make our own choices about how to support ourselves. So, I use my marketing skills to help small biz owners get to that success. But I don’t just share marketing tips. I also try to inspire my readers and get personal about the ups and downs of running your own biz.

    Love the new direction you’ve got going Corbett!

    • http://fizzle.co Corbett Barr

      Sounds like we have a lot in common, Martina. Thanks for sharing your vision and best of luck with it!

      • http://martinairing.com/blog Martina Iring

        Yes, we sure do. I finally got around to reading your manifesto last night, and it blew me away. It was like you had crawled into my mind! Gotta love meeting kindred spirits :)

  • http://learncoretransformation.com Duff

    Thanks for the reminder. It’s amazing to me how few people have any vision for what they are doing.

    If I may add a couple of my thoughts…

    1. You don’t have to be the only person in the world offering X. Just emphasize how you do it based on what you care most about and that focuses on your strengths (you’ll always have weaknesses). If you aren’t qualified yet to do things in this way, don’t lie about it (a common n00b mistake that ruins your credibility)–get legitimately qualified, even if it takes a while. But don’t confuse qualification with official credentials–if you can do what you say you can, then do it and let your success be your credentials. (Vice versa, many of the officially credentialed can’t do the thing as well as the independent who has focused on results for the customer.)

    2. You don’t have to do it in a way that nobody else in the world is doing it necessarily either. It only has to meet a need in a way that is sufficiently different (and desired) from the other fish in your pond. In fact, if nobody else is doing what you’re doing, there’s probably no market!

    3. Worthwhile is measured in worth to the customer. It may take flexibility and responding to real customer needs to figure out what this is. Don’t fix your vision too hard and fast before testing the waters of your market. You only have to be different enough for people to pay you. Note that professionalism and honesty is often a way to differentiate yourself in the market. Avoiding doing things wrong can be all you need to be successful in business; doing things right is an added bonus. Most business books say you need much more than this, but I think that’s crap–just look around and judge for yourself: most people have no idea what they are doing!

    4. When explaining your vision, keep it simple. Again, it doesn’t have to wow everybody, just your prospective customers.

  • http://www.colehaankindlecovers.com/ colehaan kindle covers

    setup our goal and keep it focus on it. thanks for sharing

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  • http://www.akosblog.com Akos

    Every idea can work. You just need to try them. Its that easy. Don’t worry if your idea fails just move on.

    This is a key thing when building traffic.

  • http://www.journeytopeak.com Jia Jun

    Nice Corbett!! :D
    My vision is to build a great blog where it will inspire and motivate people to keep walking and keep fighting in their journey towards the peak – which is success. :D
    As many people will always feel down, desperate, feel like wants to give up, I hope this blog could actually motivate people together walk on this journey with me, fighting and pursuing the success out there. :D
    Thanks Corbett. =]

  • http://malexperience.com Graham Phoenix | Male eXperience

    Vision is so important. This was a great kick in the pants for me, to articulate and publish my Vision. Reading your post made go and do this. Here is the result:
    Why I Get Up In The Morning : I Have A Vision
    It fires me up and gets me going, I work to get it to do the same to my readers.

    • http://malexperience.com Graham Phoenix | Male eXperience

      Wow… I am so stoked. It is around 24 hours since I posted my Vision and I have had 524 visitors to it. What a fabulous response to this kick from you, Corbett, Many thanks.

      • http://fizzle.co Corbett Barr

        Awesome, congrats!

  • http://surflifestyledesign.com Salvatore Greco

    Challenge Accepted Corbett!!!

    I had a vision for my blog…and this post really hit home, that I should not and DEFINITELY NOT keep that vision a secret…So as a response to this post, even using your 4 elements, I wrote a post “My Vision for Surfer Lifestyle Experience.” You can check it out here http://www.surflifestyledesign.com/the-vision-of-surfer-lifestyle-experience/.

    The 4 elements you provided, along with the other guidelines provided excellent framework for taking my vision…from my head…to “concrete” digital real estate.

    Also, I am glad I made the post, just to simply hold myself accountable for this vision.

    Thanks Corbett.

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  • http://www.decodedpathways.com Chuks

    Nice post. Insightful. I aim to do this on my blog at decodedpathways.com, a conversation about startups and decoding the pathways of founders of startups from around the world.

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  • http://www.whitelightknight.com Ross

    Hi Corbett.
    I’m very grateful to have found your guidance so early in developing my web site and blog. Im kind of a Christian Mystic / Monk / philosopher wanting to teach spiritual healing and enlightenment. I know, I need to focus and get it written, but I have many gifts that are rare in the world, and I need to help a lot of people. I’ll be following you closely. I’m very serious, and would love to have any input you could offer.
    Thanks.

  • http://www.messengersindenim.com Dr. Par Donahue

    Thanks for this great post! I appreciate it. I have a vision for my blog, my followers, and for myself. My long range goal is to help parents raise their kids to be successful men and women of character! To do this they need first of all to know how important they are in the lives of their kids, particularly their teen agers! I am highly qualified to help them because I have practiced pediatric and adolescent medicine for 40 years, and perhaps more importantly my wife and I have raised 4 kids who are all successful, well rounded, men and women of character! All have PhDs, two also are MDs. And all are faculty members at prestigious universities.
    My personal goal is to make my book, “Messengers in Denim,” a success. This goal is possible. Messengers has received outstanding reviews. (Check Amazon.com).
    I look forward to reading your other posts and using them to help me help my followers. Thanks, Par

  • http://www.so-many-places.com Kim

    I just found your site and I’m so glad I did. I am a new blogger (December 2010) writing about the process that I am currently going through of quitting my job, selling my stuff, and setting out to travel the world and write about it. I’m essentially a travel blogger, but my VISION for myself and my readers is to inspire all of us to lead a life of passion and to follow our dreams. I look forward to poking around more.

  • Michelle

    I am now addicted to your Blog…thank you for being diffirent..you cut through the crap and tell it like it is..for all to understand…

  • http://cashcampfire.com Christina Crowe

    Hey Corbett,

    Everyone, whether they sell tangible products or information, needs a way to stand out from the crowd if they’re ever going to rise to the top and get noticed. Having a vision for your followers is a perfect way to do that – because you have a set goal in place, an aim if you will, for your audience. With a set aim, you’re less likely to stray from what’s important, and you also have a purpose that makes what you’re doing worthwhile.

    Without a purpose, there’s no sense in doing anything at all.

    Awesome tips – definitely makes one think.

    Christina

  • http://heartofminneapolis.com Colleen

    I hope I’m not needlessly resurrecting an old post, but I’m thinking about this, and I admit … I’m coming up blank. Well, that’s not strictly true. What I wonder most is, how life changing does this have to be? I’m a writer – I’m a fiction writer, a freelance writer, and even a documentation writer at my current job. My “purpose” for my audience is to entertain them. I want the to enjoy the world around them (specifically where I live). Is this too shallow a goal? Is it not worthwhile to have a blog and a site that has a simple goal of being an entertaining and engaging place to talk with people about what I love about my city?

    For myself, I must admit that I began the blog to provide writing samples for my nascent freelance business, to provide a way for readers of my fiction to “get to know me,” and to meet and chat with cool people that love what I do.

    I strive to provide great content with an interesting voice, but is that purpose enough?

    Oy. I’m obviously floundering with this idea, which means it’s important, and that I’ve neglected thinking about it before. (I know my own psyche.) I apologize for using your comment box to ramble.

    • Corbett

      Hey Colleen, fantastic question and thanks for not being shy to comment on an old post.

      Entertainment is most certainly a worthy goal. Obviously there’s a huge market for entertainment and always will be.

      The size of that market makes it even more important to stand out and differentiate yourself from everyone else. Merely trying to be entertaining might not get you noticed, even with great content. Think about your favorite forms and pieces entertainment. I’ll bet the ones you really enjoy also lean towards inspiration or education as well, not purely entertainment. Whenever you walk away from a TV show or film or blog post feeling good, that’s inspiration at work. Whenever you feel fired up to change something or go out and do something, that’s education and inspiration at work, along with the entertainment value.

      The best inspirational/educational content is that which entertains. The best entertaining content is that which educates or inspires. At least that’s my view.

      Hope this helps. Cheers!

      • http://blog-therapy.com/ Marya | Blog Therapy

        Hi Corbett, no I am not stalking you. :) I recently discovered you so I am spending my afternoon today getting to know you …

        Anyway, one thing I really like about you, .. you seem to take time out to genuinely respond to people. I follow many big bloggers whos blogs are actually about helping people lead a balanced life, successful life or write/blog better. I have found them to be very stingy with their time, maybe they are spending it getting rich.. few actually said to my comments to wait for their new afordably priced product that is coming out soon … ??? is it me or is this type of attitude slightly annoying? I feel snubbed.

        Sorry for the rant ..

        Also, had to say I LOVED the last bit. Awsome stuff!
        quoting ..The best inspirational/educational content is that which entertains. The best entertaining content is that which educates or inspires. At least that’s my view.

        Looking forward to follow your fantastic stuff…

  • http://www.creativindie.com/ Derek Murphy

    Awesome post! I’ve been doing things wrong for years, and am finally taking responsibility for my blogs and providing a roadmap for extraordinary accomplishments.

  • http://beckyjoy.com Becky Joy

    I have been working with trying to find a direction, organize my thoughts and build my audience. This gives me a great new beginning to think about and try and put everything in place. Thanks.

  • http://www.checkmatesystem.com Mary

    I love this idea. I started a website some time ago but had to put the project on hold while I took care of some family matters. I started back this week actually and feel very lucky to have stumbled on this project here.

  • http://www.enlightenedresourcemanagement.com/ Joel Zaslofsky

    Hey Corbett,

    I’m rereading a number of articles that have made a large impact on me in the past couple of years and this one sticks out. I’m in the execution phase of my vision now but the wisdom you provide and approach you help people take set a great stage for the present. Thank you for publishing this. I only hope more people become aware of it and use it as a catalyst in their lives.

  • http://www.michaelwaddington.com Michael

    Great article. This has got me thinking about my business and the importance to go back to my business plan and update – thank you for the reminder

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