A few weeks ago on one of my Yaro.TV daily videos I talked about solving problems by learning how other people have solved the same problem before you.
You can study other people’s solutions and then copy them to solve your problem. Easy.
Here’s the video –
A week later I published another video talking about how you can’t just blindly copy other people expecting the same results.
A trap many people fall into is following certain bloggers and leaders in your industry and then copying what they do hoping for the same results.
This can include copying how their website looks, the type of articles they write, even covering the same topics they do.
Often this practice leads to disappointment, especially when you read how the person you are copying continues to make more money and have more success, yet you do the same thing and it doesn’t deliver any result.
Here is the second video –
Gideon Shalwick picked me up after watching the second video and pointed out that I was somewhat contradicting myself, one minute saying you can copy others, the next saying there is no point because you won’t get the same result.
Gideon was right, so to clarify where I was coming from I had to of course do another video.
My point in the third video of the “series” was that you can copy techniques and solutions to problems at a micro level, yet at a macro level your strategy has to be unique to your goals and situation.
I added on to this the concept that you can never truly copy an idea as you will always implement it differently because you are a different person.
There’s no such thing as a new idea, yet there is no such thing as a perfect duplication of variables either, so every implementation of an idea is always new.
That’s what you would call a dichotomy. If you think about it too hard, you can get confused, which I may have been when I recorded the third video –
I’ve copied a lot of people and businesses in my online career.
My first attempts at blogging where largely influenced by Darren Rowse and a few others at the time who were doing really well with AdSense.
I tried writing as much content as Darren did. I tried keeping up with all the latest trends and breaking news on my blog as fast as I could. I then tried putting AdSense on my site.
My results were less than spectacular, $1 a day at best in AdSense and no where near enough traffic.
A few years later when I decided to implement a product launch, I wanted to copy the guys I had just seen do launches and make a million dollars in sales.
Mike Filsaime, Rich Schefren, John Reese, Andy Jenkins with Brad Fallon, and of course Jeff Walker, had all just done big launches and made at least a million in sales each.
I knew how these guys did it. Good product, good proof, pricing point of at least $1,000, great launch sequence content and significant support from affiliates.
I saw the puzzle pieces in my head, but I just couldn’t tick the boxes like they could. I didn’t have the same affiliate support and my proof wasn’t as good.
My launch went well, really well for a first launch, with just over 400 paying members signing up to a $47 a month subscription.
Still I was disappointed. I thought my affiliates would sell a lot more than they did. I made no where near a million dollars since it’s harder to get there with a $47 product compared to a $1,000 product.
Your expectations very much dictate your happiness. I was used to seeing bigger numbers by other people, so I wasn’t nearly as happy as I should have been, at least during that initial launch.
I found gratitude eventually of course, especially as I went on to learn what it’s really like to have a product of your own on the market and see what that launch did for my business. It changed my life for the better in so many ways.
Here’s the trap to watch out for: Copying blindly and expecting the same thing to happen to you.
The truth is that copying on the surface is easy, but copying the underlying principles is very, very hard.
The fundamentals can be copied again and again and will work again and again. The challenge is that fundamentals go much deeper than the surface, so to really copy them takes months and even years.
What people see is a person writing a blog post or sending an email or releasing a product and then watching all the traffic and sales come through for them.
It almost seems too easy.
If you go and do the same thing, if you haven’t laid the foundation for the result, it doesn’t matter how closely you copy the technique, you won’t replicate the outcome.
A person who reviews a product in a 1,000 word blog post and then goes on to make 50 sales and $2,000 in commissions didn’t get that result because of the review. The review is the trigger of course, but the work building the audience and establishing trust over time is what delivered the result.
That building process requires you do a lot of other things right, including having the right top level strategy for your unique situation.
I’ve lost track of how many times this has happened in the blogging space I work in. It’s probably human nature, yet it still baffles me sometimes.
Perhaps I shouldn’t be that baffled, since I did the same when I copied Darren all those years ago. It’s a symptom of being a beginner and lacking direction, and being caught up with someone else’s success.
What am I talking about? Copying a well known blogger with your own blog.
It happened with Darren Rowse and his Problogger blog with people, like me, attempting to cover all the latest breaking news and everything to do with the same topic.
Later I saw it happen again with John Chow. Everyone started trying to make money online by writing about how to make money online.
(An aside: Years ago John Reese published a newsletter talking about the concept of “owning more of the internet“. Like Pat’s be everywhere, John explained how if you had more content online, you had more chances of being discovered. It was the same idea, expressed differently in a different time by a different person using a different medium.)
What tends to happen is people attempt to copy these successful leaders, but alas fail to keep up the pace or the quality or they apply it to the wrong niche or just have bad timing.
What’s really going wrong here, is that techniques are being focused on before cementing a clear strategy.
This tends to happen with beginners because, well, they just don’t have a strategy yet.
There’s nothing wrong with what Darren, John and Pat did or do, they should be studied and replicated because they are all having unusually good results, but you should do it in the right way at the right time in the right situation, with the right strategy to build a base first, so the techniques actually work.
The fact is most people won’t get Pat’s results, or John’s or Darren’s by doing what they did. They are missing the timing, the follow through, the commitment, the style, the personality, the subject matter, the angles, the insights, the experiences, or any number of variables that made these people succeed.
To make things worse, after experiencing failure, you might blame your lack of success on something fundamentally wrong about you.
If someone else does it and then you do the same and it doesn’t work, the broken variable must be you right?
This can lead to a downward spiral of negativity that affects every project you work on and possibly every aspect of your life too.
Take a step back and ask yourself, do you want to do what these leaders do, are you prepared to work as hard as them, and do you understand how you will capitalise on the hard work?
Get clarity on how you personally fit into the puzzle and then make a plan to implement techniques in the right order using your own style, once you know your strategy.
I’m still influenced by many people, including the three bloggers I mentioned in this article.
However, I’m aware of what I want my blog to be about, what kind of business I want behind it and what I personally want to spend my time on. Some of this is determined by personal choice, some of it’s based on what has worked for me in the past and what hasn’t.
My strategy needs to be distinctly Yaro-focused, just as yours needs to represent you. I am not Darren, John or Pat.
To put it simply, I’ve always been about lifestyle first. Any time I feel obligated to produce more than I want to, my lifestyle tends to suffer. Hard work is okay for short bursts, but my overall business strategy must reflect my desire for a certain lifestyle and should support that lifestyle given how much work I want to do.
In my experience over the years, the best model of blogging that matches my lifestyle goal is selling information products. Because of this, my strategy presently is to build out a sustainable information product funnel behind my blog.
As a result, one of the key people I am currently following more closely than any other blogger or marketer, is Eben Pagan, or more accurately, his dating alter ego, David DeAngelo.
Why? Because Eben has a $20 Million dollar information publishing business with no office and a completely remote team.
He doesn’t need to write blog posts all the time, or work his but off for a daily podcast, or constantly publish Youtube videos. I really like his strategic model and as such I am slowly copying some of his techniques as I build out my own model.
Eben no doubt worked hard years ago to produce a quality product suite and a content marketing system to sell it (primarily a lengthy email follow-up sequence), but that has all been done. It’s now up and running and largely automated, and very much evergreen (the content still provides value and doesn’t get old quickly).
Don’t get me wrong, I love writing blog articles, doing podcasts and making videos – it’s all fun – but I want to know that the effort I put in to create this content translates into significant rewards long term. It needs to be leveraged in a smart way.
The rewards should come from the level of content I want to produce, which still delivers the kind of results I want from my business.
To make this work, the sales system behind your content needs to be tight. You really do need to rely on your 1,000 true fans. It’s about big leverage from small numbers.
Having a sales funnel and buying traffic is a much quicker way to ramp up audience and income, but you have to lay a very good foundation before you can reach that stage otherwise your advertising dollar is going out the window.
All of the big online information publishing companies know their numbers. This is one area I have never invested enough energy into myself. It’s the main reason why I switched to Office Auto Pilot last month to manage my contact database (hear more about why I switched in my Yaro.TV video here).
Most bloggers I know never lay this foundation, or even see it as an option. I didn’t (or haven’t yet!), although I knew it was a smart path to follow. I was just too lazy to do it.
It’s easier to sit back and blog now and then and promote your products now and then. That, as I have experienced, is not a long term sustainable model, although it’s still pretty awesome while you are at the peak of your success curve. However staying at that peak is a big job, made harder because the rate of change online is constantly increasing.
The important point here is that Eben, Pat, Darren, John, and all of us blogging and internet marketing success stories are worth learning from. However, you need to define your own strategy and let it guide you first.
You can cherry pick techniques from everywhere and anyone when it’s time to use those techniques to solve a certain problem in your business, but don’t do it just because someone else is doing it. Do it because now is the right time to solve that problem because it is the most relevant constraint to remove to reach your immediate goal.
It’s easy to make the right choice when you narrow things down to a predefined path and a set of constraints that are linear. That is when copying can really shine for you because your return on investment is immediate, hits the nail on the head and is much more likely to succeed because you have built the platform for that technique to be successfully copied.
Here’s to your blogging success,