These weren’t just regular guys off the street, these were people who’ve gone the distance in their respective niches and make an impact every day.
These are people I love, respect, and owe a lot to.
When I knew nothing they educated me, when I had nothing they supported me, and when I did well they congratulated me.
But, I was surprised at what they told me.
“It’s a crowded space, are you sure you can position yourself as an expert?”
“Marketing has been beaten to death, what new insights can you offer?”
“I don’t know Daniel, you’ve got other things making waves already, just stick with what works.”
These answers surprised me to say the least, but it also made me think long and hard about my decision.
They were right; I was entering a crowded space.
They were right; it would be difficult to position myself as an expert.
They were right, I was already doing well for myself and there was no need for me to add more to my plate.
But, and this is a big but.
I had a unique perspective.
And most importantly, I was in love with my competition.
Before I continue further, I want to say I’m an advocate of having no competition.
It’s exhausting trying to look over your shoulder all the time because you’re afraid of being put out of business.
I like to think of people who would normally be considered competition as my fellow creative entrepreneurs.
The people who’re putting their futures on the line to solve the problems of their fellow man in new and unique ways.
This is a guy who seems to be everywhere at once.
A contributor for Forbes, Entrepreneur, and other magazines I didn’t bother to look up.
He runs Kissmetrics, Crazy Egg, Quicksprout, and his personal marketing blog Neil Patel.com.
Rather than get overwhelmed by the sheer amount of content he needs to create, high quality content, he just steps up to the plate and does it day after day, week after week, and month after month.
It’s because of this consistency he was able to become so successful and make a name for himself.
I looked at what he did and decided to up my game.
Don’t get me wrong, none of my websites have ever been ugly, but they’ve never been gorgeous either.
Regina is someone who’s unafraid to be herself, if you don’t like the way she does things then keep moving.
She has one of the most thoughtfully designed websites I’ve seen in a long time and I know it does the job it was built for.
Subtle elements come together to make her website unique and it invites you to spend time, get to know her, and understand what she has to offer you as an individual and a business all wrapped into one.
Bryan is an interesting one. He creates huge amount of content around exactly one thing.
Every email he sends and every blog post he creates is about the best way to engage your subscribers, launch a product, or learn from someone else.
It’s uncanny really, never running out of things to say about one particular topic.
Brian got me over the hump of trying to talk about everything for everyone; can we say content calendar and The Pristine 35?
He basically went against all conventional wisdom when he started his blog, Backlinko, a few years ago. Teaching SEO is one of the most crowded spaces you can enter and he did it well.
When he started, he threw out what most, if not all, of the “established authorities” were doing; you can see the results of that decision yourself.
You can do the opposite and as long as it works, you WILL build a massive following.
That’s one of the many reasons why I experiment with conventional wisdom time and time again. Not only is it fun, but who wants to be like everyone else?
Ramit has been practicing his art for a very long time, over ten years.
Since a year of internet time is equal to seven years in regular time, he’s been practicing for seventy years.
That’s a hell of a long time and it shows in everything he does.
When you open his emails, he weaves a story for you to follow and interact with before he ever thinks about trying to drop a buy button in front of you.
That’s why my emails will never be an uninterrupted stream of products for sale, it’s just tacky.
You can test them out here, I promise not to disappoint.
Noah and his Sumos are some of the most informal bunch of people you’ll ever meet. They call everyone Sumolings and if you don’t know better, you’d think they were playing with their content and business.
But they’re dead serious when it comes to making great software and getting you some crazy deals from all over the web.
It’s not so much what you do, a lot of people sell software, but more of how you do it and with whom.
He and his team have personality for days. Point, blank, period.
From them, I gleaned one of my most important insights, a team is better than a one man show and that team will make you or break you.
(Even though one man may be the face of a website or organization, you better believe that face has a team that he works with).
I emailed Ann the other day for some creative ways to get more traffic and you know what she told me?
“Create remarkable content Daniel.”
I’m paraphrasing of course, but it helped me remember that no matter how much you spend on advertising, no matter what you do to promote it, and how much SEO you do; your content still speaks for you.
Ann forced me to remember it’s way more important to create stellar content than anything else.
Content with a purpose, content that converts, and content that helps both you and your audience make an impact.
I do an insane amount of reading, learning, and experimenting. I look around at the best of the best and I try and understand what gave them their competitive edge.
I don’t do it to mimic them because you can’t mimic someone’s essence. I do it to learn from them.
There’s no reason to reinvent the wheel when you can incorporate what the best people in your niche did and are doing to build something completely unique.
That’s at the heart of what a creative entrepreneur, a growth scientist is.
Instead of despising your competition and thinking they’re beneath you; follow them, learn from them, and create something so unique your competition will have no choice but to return the gesture.
It’s an illicit love affair, are you willing to have fun with it?