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The Small Army Strategy: A Guide for Turning Fans and Followers into Fanatics and Friends for Life

The Small Army Strategy: A Guide for Turning Fans and Followers into Fanatics and Friends for Life by Srinivas Rao

Here are some of my favourite excerpts…

This book isn’t about how to get more traffic or increase the number of subscribers to your blog. Those things are potential by-products, but not the goal. The goal is to treasure and nurture the attention you already have. That’s what I believe causes blog readers to turn into tribes and content to turn into movements.

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As an artist you start to find a voice. You stop looking to the mentors, experts and people who came before you. You realize that to be seen as an artist you must become one of those people. You realize that following formulas and prescriptions designed to create a similar result for every person who uses them is a recipe for mediocrity. The linear process which you have followed to the letter falls apart and you finally come to terms with the fact that creativity is not linear. You take bigger risks with your content and the response is polarizing. People either love you or they hate you.

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The entrepreneurial evolution takes place when you realize that simply being an artist isn’t going to pay the bills or turn your blog into a business. Everything that came before was necessary to get to this point, and now you embrace experimentation because it’s at the core of growth. You detach from outcomes, focus on process and let the chips fall where they may. You find it inside yourself to watch everything fall apart, pick up the pieces and start all over again, now as, part novice, part-mechanic, part-artist, all of which combined turn you into an entrepreneur.

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As you think about how to grow your tribe and build your network over the next couple of months give some thought to what emerging talent you may be neglecting. Then, start reading their blogs and providing a lifeline to them.

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1. Email Subscribers There’s not one person who is successful that won’t tell you that your email list is what generates your money. A few months back I made a very conscious decision to focus on this group of readers, and interestingly enough I have a much deeper connection with my readers. My traffic is higher than ever before, and my blog is growing faster than ever before. This is your “silent majority” and this is who you need to cater to.

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3. Open Rates It’s nice to have a list, but if nobody is opening your emails than it doesn’t matter. A list of 50 people who talk to you is better than a list of 5000 who ignore you. I recently decided to clean house on my email list and deleted almost 350 people from the list because they hadn’t opened any of my emails in the last 4 months. Don’t be afraid to let some of your subscribers go.

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If you’re in this to make money, then this is the only metric that ultimately matters. When I recently spoke to a business coach she told me something really interesting. There are people who make plenty of money online that you’ve never heard of. Do you actually measure the revenue you generate? Even if it’s $100, make a point to measure it.

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How to Diversify 1. Read Fiction One of the easiest ways to start diversifying your input is to start reading fiction. The beautiful thing about fiction is that it’s the byproduct of imagination. As a result it will get your imagination going and enable you to start creating things that don’t exist. 2. Read Children’s Books This might seem a bit silly to some of you. But one place where children have most of us beat is in their creativity and imagination. Just talk to a 5-year-old and you’ll wonder if maybe he or she should be the next creative director at your organization. Another book that I discovered on Maria Popova ‘s site that’s more like a creative workbook is Keri Smith’s How to Be an Explorer of the World . Pick up a copy of a Dr. Seuss book and pay attention to how it inspires you. 3. Read Content Outside Your Field Our obsession with authority has too many people reading nothing but blogs about their industry. But by reading content that falls outside your field you can pull ideas and insights from other disciplines into your work. I recently was asked to write a guest post for a really popular blog on the subject of taking risks. So the other day I returned to my personal love for surfing and picked up a copy of Saltwater Buddha, which enabled me to use riding waves as a metaphor for taking risks.

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Written content is not the only place you’ll be able to find inspiration and break molds. In Tina Seelig’s book inGenius: A Crash Course on Creativity , she writes about the power of keen observation and how it can lead to creative breakthroughs.

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Maybe it isn’t that there’s nothing new in blogging, but that we’ve been stuck in an incestuous circle of social media marketers, lifestyle designers, and personal development bloggers. Just so we’re clear, I’m not pointing fingers. I fall into those same incestuous circles! Innovation and new ideas can’t diffuse throughout the social web when experts spend all their time talking to experts. That’s why I believe it’s important we not only embrace new and emerging talent, but also take steps to get outside of our comfort zone and expand our horizons. Here are five ideas on how to do that …

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Every few months I literally unsubscribe from nearly every blog I read. This enables me to accomplish a few things. First, I’m able to prioritize which blogs have become the most important to me. Second, it forces me to look for new blogs and creates an opportunity to connect with new people. As a result my network continually expands. Subscribe to a few blogs that have nothing to do with your industry but that you just find interesting.

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2. Pick 5 new people to follow on Twitter and build a relationship with them I’ve never particularly cared too much about the number of followers I have on Twitter, which might seem sacrilegious, but it’s been a big part of my philosophy on building relationships. What I’m more interested in is who is actually following me. Every few days I read the bios of my new followers and pick a few to engage with. The amazing people I’ve found by doing this include successful entrepreneurs, artists, published authors, literary agents, and many other people who are doing amazing things online. This has been a great way to broaden my own horizons and connect with exciting new people.

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In Tribes, Seth Godin even cites writing a manifesto as one of the most important things you can do to build a tribe.

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If you take a look at the Manifestos that I mentioned above, you’ll notice that the design work is impeccable. Even though they are completely free a great amount of attention was given to the details. You might wonder why anybody would invest so much in something they are giving away for free. It sets a standard and amplifies impact. The value of good design can’t be overstated. Same words and bad design will reduce the effect. Think of this way. Imagine your favorite action flick minus the special effects. The dialogue and the storyline are the same, but it won’t have the same impact on you.

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Chris Guillebeau cites his world domination manifesto as one of the major turning points in his journey. The manifesto has been downloaded over 100,000 times. He’s gone on to publish two books, become a household name on the social web, and is working on his third book. It’s hard to argue with those kind of results. 2. Life and Times of a Remarkable Misfit AJ Leon launched his blog two months ago. But he did something quite unusually. His second blog post was an incredible manifesto. It’s been downloaded over 50,000 times and create a cult like loyalty to his work.

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I have to give credit where it’s due for this idea. Chris Guillebeau told me he emailed every single newsletter subscriber personally for his first 10,000 subscribers. While each one may not have had an impact, the cumulative effect was incredibly powerful. You can’t really argue with his success. I’ve made this part of how I treat my email subscribers and I recently received this email in response. Thanks for your email! Of all of the resources that I subscribe to, I don’t think I have ever received an actual personal email that wasn’t an obvious use of email marketing personalization features. Your content is awesome, and I am finding it really helpful! Just to be clear, while this is a tactic, if somebody does respond to you, that provides a chance for you to take that relationship further. You’ve just discovered a super fan. Be genuine and engage them.

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On the other end of the screen is a person going through their own battles, their own challenges, and their own bullshit. You must never forget that. You can feed them with disagreement, criticism, and subtle knocks at their work. Or you can feed them with encouragement, inspiration and courage.

 

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