Let’s face it, the Internet can be a brutal place.
Please me today, thanks very much, but I might never see you again.
Entertain me, I might come back, but I might not.
Give me a free resource, I hope I have time to look at it. Maybe.
This can be dispiriting for bloggers, tied to the wheel of their editorial calendars, trying to build a community, a readership, a platform… something.
“Will it work for me?” That’s the question that seems to be on people’s minds when I talk to them about building and growing a “web presence.”
Here’s a tip, if what you want is a long-term, proven strategy that maximizes your gifts as a writer and rewards your own idiosyncrasies: Be useful.
Be Useful to Be Discovered
Sure, there are lots of ways to be useful. It’s useful some days to have a good laugh at oneself. It’s useful sometimes to have a handy Fahrenheit to Celsius converter. It’s useful sometimes to know how many picas are in an inch (6).
- Describing a basic task in a clear and simple way so anyone can understand it.
- Pointing out a mistake people often make and how to avoid it.
- Passing along a fantastic resource that really worked for you.
- Spreading the word about a special opportunity you know people will be excited about.
- Creating an experiment that many people might learn and profit from.
- Discovering a new way that others can optimize what they are doing.
Being useful can make you a hero, can make your name and ideas spread widely.
There are lots of ways to be useful, and here’s a secret: many of them have yet to be discovered.
That’s because no writer or blogger or publisher has happened to create them yet.
Why do I say “discovered?”
Because that’s the new reality, the new real estate, the new downtown.
If you can be found online, you will be found. If you make it a point to regularly put up signs and directions, you will be found more.
Discoverability Is the New Distribution
Instead of being in thousands of places, you have thousands of ways to establish a path between browsers and the place where your business lives online.
Being discoverable means you know what usefulness you provide, you know the way that people talk about what they need you for, and you act on that knowledge.
Being discoverable means lots of people will point to you: “Oh that? Go see this blogger, she’ll know!”
Pointing online creates links. Links create an avenue for traffic and more people to discover just how useful you are.
It’s not enough to just be useful, you have to have all the other parts, too. It will make everything happen faster.
This is what I’m thinking about—obsessively—as the new year takes hold.
So, again: How will you be useful in 2013?