Metrics are maddening. As we pour our time, passions, and money into building our platform, we justifiably want to see progress. When you’re getting started, low analytics can be discouraging and may send you in search of quick wins or gains. But we suggest another alternative.
How do you move forward when your season of building feels like it’s going nowhere fast?
On Carpenters and Content
There’s an expression that sometimes gets spoken in high-craft disciplines like carpentry: “chamfer the edges.” A chamfer is that soft angled edge you often see on wooden furniture, though this can also be observed in metalwork and other crafts. The chamfer serves no structural purpose. It is an additional, often time-consuming detail that adds an extra sense of finish to the work. And because it softens the edges, the chamfer makes the object more comfortable for the user. A carpenter doesn’t chamfer the edges because it’s necessary. They do it because they take pride in their work. Because their why extends far beyond simply getting the job done.
If you find yourself in a season of waiting, mired in the slow slog of building your email list, you’ve actually been handed a gift. Analytics allows us to watch in real-time as little tweaks in our platform influence audience behavior. There will inevitably be platforms out there that are similar to yours. You could use that data to try and “one up” your competition. Or you could do what the carpenter does and invest in that extra 10% of craft that gives your platform a natural edge.
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Waiting is Not Wasted Time
Here are three ways to make the most of the slow season.
- Focus on your why. As our founder, Michael Hyatt says, “People lose their way because they lose their why.” Michael is a major proponent of building your subscriber list in pursuit of a profitable platform. But did you know it took Michael four years to reach 1,000 subscribers? This time was priceless as Michael tuned his platform to his motivations. He used his wait to solidify his entire platform around his why. Today, he is the head of a multi-million dollar business that regularly helps tens of thousands of people learn from and build upon his success.
- Hold analytics accountable. Sure, that latest report on Google Analytics contains some valuable information. But analytics can also become a distraction that make us confuse or forget our why. In the early stages, when your audience is small, analytics can be discouraging. We start looking for quick fixes to get a boost, and we can easily make the analytics our why instead. As your audience grows, analytics can become a feedback loop. It feels good to see those numbers rise, and before long, data can become our primary motivation. In either case, when the metrics become our why, we risk losing the very platform we started out to build. Any growth we experienced came because our readers, listeners, or audience resonated with our why. If we lose our why, it’s just a matter of time before we lose our platform.
- Make the most of your season. Not only does your season of waiting allow you to focus on your why, it also allows you to integrate more of your why into more of your platform. Like the carpenter’s attention to detail, this is a time to reevaluate your goals, your product, and your message and hold each accountable to your personal mission statement. This is the time to network, to share your why with like-minded peers and platform builders. To build relationships with the people who can spot when your why starts drifting and hold you accountable.
As your audience grows, the pace of your output may escalate. The demands of the day-to-day will increase. Now is the time to focus on the details. Because in the future, when those impressive analytics start showing up day after day, your audience may be rewarding you for something that is not your why. That large audience may not even know your why because you lost it along the way. And it will be much harder to recover at that point.
This season of waiting is a present—a gift that allows us to deepen our commitment to why we do what we do. Whatever our why is, it alone helps us to keep writing, keep speaking, and continue building while we wait.