A good friend of mine recently quit his day job and began selling baseball cards on Ebay to pay the bills. He’s done a lot more than just pay the bills, though, as he’s become his own boss and now works about 70% less than he did when he was “employed.” And his income? Oh, maybe quadrupled.
Although he’s only been at it for about four months now, he’s really improved his quality of life substantially — it’s the kind of success that makes you half-jealous but also inspires you to go out and do something similar for yourself.
But despite his initial success, my buddy realizes that he can accomplish more. Problem is, he’s not quite sure how to go about it.
Earlier this week, I was over at his house, and he wanted to know if I thought his baseball card business could benefit in any way from having a Web site. For instance, could he build an online storefront that would help him reach customers outside of Ebay?
In theory, owning a Web site provides a nice platform from which to build an audience and raise the profile of your business.
In practice, however, most Web sites end up becoming useless chunks of digital real estate, barely worth the price tag that accompanied the original domain.
As I was formulating a response to my friend’s question, I began to realize that a majority of people out there simply don’t understand how to approach business on the Web. Of course, this is precisely why so many sites become “useless chunks of real estate.”
It’s not about technology — it’s about equity
So, where do most people go wrong?
Innovation happens so fast on the Web that it’s easy to become blinded by feature-rich technology and software. We are constantly hit with messages of “the next big thing,” and so we naturally assign value to what we perceive to be breakthrough innovations.
As a result, we begin to think that in order to conduct a successful online venture, we must include all this new and excellent functionality that has become available thanks to new technologies.
God help you if someone thinks you’re so 2005, right?
The problem here is that our perception of equity on the Web has been skewed unnaturally.
Yes, it’s true that there is value in new technology. For a company like YouTube, there was unbelievable equity in their product.
But here’s the real mind blower:
The real equity on the Web lies in the content, not in the technology that helps us produce it.
Think for a second here. Do you really care how that Weird Al video was delivered to you on YouTube, or do you just care about the video itself?
The equity lies in what your content is, not how it got there.
So what does this mean for my buddy’s Web site and his baseball card business?
It means that a bunch of fancy-pants technology driving a state-of-the-art, online storefront would be a terrible investment.
Thanks to the incredible rate of innovation, even your everyday Joe can go out and get a remarkably functional online storefront. This fact alone drives the potential equity of a Web-based store into the toilet.
Let’s look at this in real-world terms everyone can understand. If you want to go buy 500 acres out in the boonies, you might expect to see a cost of about $3000 per acre. If, however, you wanted to buy 500 acres within the metropolitan area of a major US city, you might expect to pay $150,000 per acre, if not more!
The bottom line is that there’s not a whole lot of equity in things that:
- are not scarce
- are not unique
It’s true that some companies and programmers actually need to focus on technology, because that’s where their equity is.
But your equity lies in your content, because it’s the one thing you can bring to the marketplace that is both scarce and unique.
It all starts with 10 simple articles.
So, how can 10 simple articles change your life?
These articles will serve as the foundation for your Web site — not to mention the future of your business. Savvy marketers certainly know the value of 10 articles on a niche topic, and I truly believe that there is absolutely nothing better you can do for your business.
By writing 10 simple articles on a topic that you love, you’ll effectively:
- Create equity in your site.
- Add equity to your business.
Let’s say you stick with writing articles on that topic for a year, and by the end of that time, you’ve accrued 100 articles. When all is said and done, you’ll own a Web site that is chock-full of detailed, current, and pertinent articles on your subject, and you’ll likely have a very targeted (and interested) audience who have all opted to come along for the ride.
And if you never believe anything else I say, make damn sure you believe this:
Google loves Web sites like this.
In my buddy’s case, if all he had were an online storefront and a slick AJAX interface, anyone could step into his market and compete against him with their own storefront. In essence, there would be no equity in his site because anyone could replicate what he already had with their own products…
But they’d have one hell of a time trying to compete with his content.
If he had 100 articles and they had none, it would be a joke. The bottom line is that in any topic, whoever controls the information flow around that subject holds all the power.
By writing articles on baseball cards, my buddy could establish himself as the preeminent source of information on that topic. He could build a valuable Web site and a targeted, interested audience at almost no cost. In as little as 9 or 10 months, he could create so many channels through which to make money that it would be utterly ridiculous.
At that point, his only problem would be figuring out how to further capitalize on all the opportunities that he’d created for himself.
And it all would have started with 10 simple articles.