⭐️ Stop wasting time and work on things that serve a purpose

An incredibly useful filter is to ask yourself: What’s the purpose?

There are really always two parts:

  • Why am I doing this? What’s in for me?
  • Why would anyone care? What’s in for them? What’s the job that gets done?

I’m currently using these questions to filter my project and content idea lists.

Surprisingly often, there is no clear purpose. And everything that’s not serving a clear purpose gets removed from the list.

This helps me figure out where to put my energy.

Another less obvious benefit is that it allows you to check if you actions are actually aligned with your long term goals. You do this by looking at all the projects and content you created during the past few months and then labeling them depending on the purpose they serve.

This is not a fun exercise. Oftentimes you find that you wasted a lot of time on stuff that has no real place in your game plan.

Let’s make this a bit more concrete.

For example, what are the different reasons to create content?

It attracts backlinks.

If search traffic is a meaningful part of my game plan, creating content as backlink bait makes sense. However, only a small set of content types has a realistic chance of attracting backlinks.

This is where the second part of the equation comes in.

Why would anyone link to this particular piece of content? Does it provide an authoritative answer to a specific question? (E.g. “How many bitcoin holders are there in the US?”) Is it the best or only resource that explains a specific concept or idea? (E.g. “Unbundling Reddit”) And is there sufficient evidence that anyone actually cares about this question or concept?

It generates traffic.

This includes SEO-optimized content and content optimized for social channels.

Again you need to check if there is sufficient demand and if it is realistic that you will get search traffic any time soon.

For social channels, you need to have a proper understanding of the kinds of content that does well on a specific platform and how you’ll need to position it.

But generating traffic is not a means in itself. You need to have a good reason why you want to generate traffic (grow email list, sell something). Ideally, there is a proper funnel in place.

It generates revenue.

This obviously requires that you put the content behind a paywall and are able to distribute it in some way.

One example would be when you have an existing audience and your content helps them solve a specific painful problem.

It deepens your relationship with your existing audience.

To achieve this you need to share real stories from your life.

And this only makes sense if you actually have an audience and want to deepen your relationship with it. You also need to be aware that content in this bucket only very rarely brings in backlinks or leads to meaningful traffic.

Moreover, it also needs to serve a purpose for your audience as well. Unless you already have a deep relationship with your audience or sharing secrets or earned insights, they probably won’t care.

To keep your name top of mind.

If you want to increase your luck surface area, it makes sense to spend energy to make sure your name stays top of mind.

Especially on today’s internet, you’re invisible and quickly forgotten unless you publish something on a regular basis. Moreover, everything you put out there gives people an excuse to reach out to you.

Hence even if you’re just sending out short “postcards” it’ll make it a lot more likely that opportunities find you.

Examples are building in public on Twitter or sending out a short curated newsletter (e.g. Tim Ferriss’ Five-Bullet Friday, Shaan Puri’s 5 Tweets Tuesday, or James Clear’s 3-2-1.)

It helps you think things through.

Sometimes when I’m confused about a specific topic or challenge, I just start writing. This always helps.

However, doing this obviously only makes sense if you actually care about the issue and understand that this is what you’re doing.

And in the best case scenario, you’re able to clean up your writing a bit and then use it to get traffic or send it to your existing audience to keep your name top of mind and deepen your relationship with your readers.

Yes, this is precisely what I’m doing with the text you’re reading right now.

I wrote it to check if what I’m doing actually makes sense. But I’m also sending it to my personal email list since many of my readers appreciate it when I share how I’m approaching a challenge like this.

So let me know if that’s the case with you!

Written on March 25, 2022

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