On his most recent podcast, Mike Cernovich repeated the mantra “stay busy, be useful”. This got me thinking, how have I, as Caleb Q. Washington been useful and how can I be more useful?
I’m a nobody online, so how can I be useful? I write this blog and have a Twitter under this pseudonym. I’ve got less than 300 Twitter followers and any traffic this blog gets is from having someone with a large following link to it. While I do a few things to net some money from this effort, like affiliate links and my first short story, this isn’t much of an income stream for me. I don’t care to create and maintain a large following. This is purely a way to make the most out of things that don’t fit neatly somewhere else.
When you’re a nobody online it can be very hard to be useful to others. You can create great content and not be useful to anyone because they’ll never find your site.
However, being useful isn’t as hard as you’d think. Instead of trying to be useful to a crowd of people who may never find you, you can be useful to one person at a time.
You can help one person at a time by spreading thier content and adding value to it.
Like @JohnRiversToo said, “yes and” is a good rule for adding value.
That’s why when I was frustrated with the way the US was fighting ISIS, I used a newly released book I thoroughly enjoyed as a framing device. I got to talk about what was on my mind, and I got to expand upon the points made by an interesting book.
What was the result of that post? Vox Day (the book’s editor) linked to it on his blog and as a result several thousand people visited my site to read the full article. According to my affiliate reports, I got credit for selling nine copies of the book, and about 30 Castilia House books total. That doesn’t include the people who did the same thing based on just the excerpt on Vox Populi.
So how was that post useful? Not only did I write something thousands of people found interesting, and helped dozens of people find an enlightening book, I made some money for people who I respect and enjoy free content from. It wasn’t much, but it was enough for them to buy a drink or maybe a dinner out.
Even when articles themselves aren’t successful at first, or aren’t directly tied to a particular product, they can be useful in the same sorts of ways via combination.
My most widely viewed blog post to date is “The Making of a Hard Right Winger”. Thousands of people read that article, hundreds shared it in Twitter and many blogs linked to it. It spread out from the corner of the internet where I reside into the larger stream. That in itself is useful. But it proved to bring life into articles that didn’t catch on on their own.
The article that I had written prior to that one was a look at how Gorilla Mindset was adding value to my life six months after I read it. Mike Cernovich RT’d the article, but it wasn’t something people were not interested in. My guess is people who follow Mike or I had either already read Gorilla Mindset and already knew its value or weren’t interested in it at that point. But when thousands of people came across the next article, some of those people found my Gorilla Mindset post. It led to the sale of a handful of copies of the book.
As a result, those articles combined were ultimately useful in the same way: Thousands of people found good and interesting content; a few people were introduced to a fantastic book, and someone I respect who puts out great free content made a small amount of money.
What’s great about this is I know I am providing value to others, however small, in what might otherwise be a strictly narcissistic exercise. Even as a small nobody on the internet, I can occasionally find ways to be useful to people who I have benefitted from.