Ever hear the expression “never put all your eggs in one basket?”
It sounds like sage advice, but does it work? Can you build a profitable online business by diversifying?
Probably not. Diversification is a great strategy for someone who already achieved success. However, if you’re getting started, you should, as Andrew Carnegie says, “put all of your eggs in one basket, and then watch that basket.”
I know this goes against what many of you believe, but hear me out.
The Battle of Julu
When I first read Predictably Irrational by Dan Ariely, I stumbled on the fascinating story of General Xiang, a courageous Chinese general from more than 2,000 years ago.
“Who was General Xiang, and what does he have to do with online business,” you ask?
In 207 BC, General Xiang advanced the small Chu army towards Julu to wage war against the huge Qin army. After crossing the river, he had his troops burn the ships and destroy all but 3 days of supplies, which successfully eliminated any chance of retreat.
Since the Chu army of 30,000 was about to fight the Qin Army of 300,000, you might think Xiang was crazy. However, the results tell a different story. Xiang’s army won nine consecutive battles, and then opposing Qin army surrendered.
What happened here? The theory is, since the Chu army had no other option, they had to win and their fighting demonstrated it. In other words, they put all their eggs in one basket and watched that basket.
Online, it’s no different. When you’re getting started, working on several projects sounds good. However, the odds are against you. Many more people fail at creating a profitable online business than succeed. If you want to be one of the few who do succeed, you’ll need that laser focus you develop when you have no other option. So, focus on one project at a time.
The 10,000 Hour Rule
You’ve heard about the 10,000 hour rule (it was made famous by Malcolm Gladwell in Outliers). K. Anders Ericsson discovered that elite music performers—more specifically classical violinists—all had one thing in common and it was at least 10,000 hours of practice before becoming a professional.
Again, online it’s no different. If you want one project to succeed, you must put in enough hours. And how do you expect to put in enough hours if you have 4 different projects? The short answer is, you can’t.
For example, when I first got started online, I tried building several different blogs—a fashion blog, a fitness blog, a celebrity blog, and a dating blog. For the first 4 months, I floundered. Nothing was working.
Then, it hit me! In March 2006, I decided to focus on the celebrity blog. Shortly thereafter, my site grew exponentially, and within a year, I was generating several million pageviews each month.
Why did focus work? Well, when I was attempting to build several blogs, I spent the bulk of my time writing content, which meant I wasn’t marketing my content. Once I spent less time writing content and more time marketing my content, it paid dividends.
Let’s say you think you’re able to spend enough time writing and marketing your content. Should you still focus on several different projects at once? The answer is still no. Unless your site is self-sustaining—does not require daily effort from you—you should push yourself to work on just one site.
The Power of Deliberate Practice
Remember, if you want to succeed online, you’ll probably need to log thousands of hours. And in most cases, it’s not just busy work so you can’t put in 16 hour days to make it work. Instead, you’ll have to push yourself each day and that can be exhausting. Geoff Colvin, in “Talent is Overrated,” calls this deliberate practice.
What qualifies as deliberate practice for a blogger? Here’s a list:
- Do you write content? Learn how to make it better.
- Need people to promote your products? Craft personal pitches to specific people (mass templates won’t work).
- Want higher search rankings? Spend time building links or learning about other aspects of SEO.
- Need your next article to go viral? Stop thinking its luck and discover how to create viral content.
This is obviously a short list, and it’s not complete. However, if you’re building a website, you know what you have to do. The advice doesn’t change. You just need to put the time in.
How to Log Hours in Seconds
10,000 hours is a ridiculous amount of time. As a matter of fact, it’s so much time that it may discourage some of you. Don’t worry, though. There’s a way to log 10,000 hours without actually putting in that much time, or in other words, you can log hours in seconds.
“Whoa, what are you talking about” is probably what you’re thinking, right?
Instead of logging the hours yourself, you can borrow time. Instead of spending 1,000 hours building an audience from scratch, borrow an audience from someone else (guest posting, for instance).
What if you need help increasing your conversion rates? Find expert content on the subject and devour it. Someone else already spent the time doing the research, now you need to implement it.
The Bottom Line
Put all of your eggs in one basket, and watch that basket. You have 10,000 hours to log before you succeed, and spreading yourself too thin will prevent you from building a profitable online business.