I started this process two years ago beginning on LinkedIn with little more than a desire to be better and the thought process of "I have nothing left to lose." Now here I am with my site, blog, and now YouTube channel. I don't have 10,000 followers yet. I don't have 1,000. I don't even have an email list of any sort.
I realized recently how my journey as a freelance blogger and startup technology enthusiast is exactly like that of a startup company. Startups begin with an idea and a notion. A product is developed to fit a market, then refined to meet the changing needs of its users. Hopefully along the way revenue comes into the picture, but first it's about eyeballs.
Start Up Step 1: The Product
I knew I could write, but could I write anything anyone wanted to read? What would I even write about? I took my experience and worked to frame it in a way I hoped would resonate. Sometimes it did sometimes it didn't. I threw some words on a page, published it, then watched for reaction.
The reaction was what I expected. There are so many people writing about varied subjects on the internet I needed a niche to focus upon. Merely tossing words on a page pushing the publish is the best recipe for getting lost in the blogging abyss.
So like any good founder, I asked myself if writing was really the product I was selling?
Start Up Step 2: The Market
Calling myself a writer without really defining my focus is akin to an accountant not specifying their area of expertise. What kind of accountant was I trying to be? There are so many market segments from corporate tax to personal tax professionals , auditors, forensic, and consultants. There is just no way to be everything to everyone. I had to make the same decision for myself.
I was inspired to focus on the startup technology world after I went to a local startup weekend in October of 2014. I loved the energy of the people I found. I began studying the various aspects of starting a business on a national and global scale. I soon realized the raw emotion and energy it took to be a founder. The time one must invest to even have the smallest chance to succeed was all-encompassing.
Social media was the perfect place for my new-found love. It was simple and free, and I could easily connect with others like myself. We were just starting out sharing stories of growth and failure. Social media also held down costs and allowed me to test my product often without having to continually invest capital into to product design.
I started growing, learning, and evolving my understanding. I used my enthusiasm to attend many and many people. I wrote about them. I shared their stories. Sometimes it worked and sometimes it didn't.
Then I realized my product needed to evolve beyond just writing. Or maybe my product wasn't writing after all? It was my energy and the relationships I cultivated along the way. That's what made me desirable to others. That's what I needed to refine and sell.
Start Up Step 3: Refining My Product Market Fit
I had truly defined my product. This came after realizing no one buys anything because it makes logical sense. People buy things because it feels good. The logical portion of the answer comes later when human rationalize their emotional choices.
I thought my writing would be the best conduit for my enthusiasm, but it's hard to convince someone of your passion if they can't feel the energy in your voice. I bough this site. I was a social media maniac. I focused on two platforms, and wrote about everything I could. Then I hit a wall.
To really scale my product, I needed voice and video to better convey my energy. I downloaded a free streaming encoder and took advantage of YouTube streaming beta to grow. Once again, overhead was next to nothing. I'm still testing and refining my product and presentation to best serve my audience.
This is where I'm at right now. I'm refining my brand and product. I'm honing my skills and developing new ones I know will serve my audience better. This is the journey of a startup AND a freelancer. It's all about adjustments and service.
In the end, as a freelancer I'm my own startup with my own product and passion. I want people to buy what I sell so I can eat, pay my bills, and fulfill my desire to achieve. The ONLY differences between a freelancer and full blown startup company are scale of the idea and size of the team.
I can honestly see a senario where I need more support and a full time team. I can see a time where I'm successful enough where I need a management firm, some extra freelance writers, and a bigger office. That means I've reached enough people and cultivated enough relationships to I earn the respect I seek.
It's what every entrepreneur wants: respect for their ability to innovate and have a positive effect on the lives of others through sheer effort and a desire to be better. I will earn your respect as a content producer as I grow, learn, and cultivate relationships with more and more people. Stay tuned to my YouTube channel for some great streams with really smart people.