Real Talk On Recent Pivots At The Blog Marketing Academy (And Why)
Some real talk about the recent changes at the Blog Marketing Academy… and some adjustments being made moving forward.
It is possible that you’ve seen a shift in my focus here at the Blog Marketing Academy. Not a drastic shift, but a shift nonetheless.
And in this post, I’m just going to make it official.
And I’m going to take you behind the scenes on what’s been going on with me.
I’m not sure I would call this a “pivot” or not. The word pivot is used a lot by entrepreneurs and you saw it used a lot during the outset of the pandemic. But, usually that word pivot sounds like you’re making a radical shift. Going a completely different direction or changing your entire approach.
That’s not what I’m doing.
But, to start the story, let’s start off with a little background…
When I Lost Interest In My First Business
I remember when I finally realized that I was simply tired of running a technology site. It was my first online business and I had made it quite successful. But, being in my second decade of running it and watching the tech niche change so much, I didn’t have a spark for it any longer.
The technology niche was fun for awhile. A lot of independent sites doing reviews and we all supported each other. Over time, however, you started to see sites gobbled up by larger corporations. Computers became more of a commodity. Before long, independent sites were being drowned in a sea of big corporate media empires with large budgets and big journalist staffs.
Not only did it become harder to get attention in that niche, but I was simply tired of it.
It became… a job.
I kept it going because I didn’t know what else to do.
In 2008, I started what would become the Blog Marketing Academy and I did so because I wanted to go into another niche. And I had just spent well over a decade doing content marketing and running an online business, so I figured I had way more experience than most people talking about it.
That original tech site ran parallel with BMA for awhile. But, it was shrinking in position in the market. And I didn’t care.
Eventually, I sold it. And I was happy to part ways.
Today, my original tech site no longer exists. It was shut down by the current owner and the domain simply redirects to another.
Is History Repeating Itself With The Academy?
As I said, Blog Marketing Academy started in 2008. It wasn’t known as such originally (I changed the name a few years later), but this site has existed in one form or another for over 13 years now.
And I’d be lying if I said I was just as enthusiastic about it as when I began.
Was Blog Marketing Academy going to go down the same path as my first site?
It won’t (more on that below). But, I was feeling some of the same apathy.
I’ve had those days when I didn’t want to create another piece of content. Where I felt as if I said everything that needs to be said and all that’s left is to repeat myself.
I’ve had those days when I just get tired of answering the same question…. again.
I must admit, I’ve had those days when some person emails me about some vague niche idea they want to magically turn into a revenue-producing business…. and I think… “It isn’t going to work. Just stick to your day job.”
Every now and then, I’d get a spark and I’d create something I thought would be super helpful to those folks. Only to be met with a lack of engagement. They were so distracted, they didn’t notice. And if you push too hard, they’ll unsubscribe and call you pushy. Yet, come back and ask the same question…. again.
I don’t want to give the impression that I’m negative on this whole business. I’m definitely not. I still love what I do.
But, I’m human.
I don’t enjoy repeating the same things over and over and getting lackluster results. I’m not talking about results for me…. but results for THEM. Unfortunately, the emphasis on “starting from scratch” and other newbie topics here at the Academy was attracting a lot of “tire kickers”. People who like to dream, but not do.
I had cast too wide a net. And I wasn’t serving people (or myself) in the most effective way.
Here’s Something I Noticed…
There’s been a few times now when I would walk out of my home office. My wife would be in the kitchen and we’d be prepping dinner. And…
She could tell I was excited about my work. I had been in “focus mode” all day. Just living “in the zone”. Sometimes, I’d even entertain the idea of doing some work at night! What was wrong with me?!
But, my wife knows me. And she recognized a common denominator on the times when I felt like that. It even became a bit of an inside joke between us.
That common denominator was…
I was working on my own technology stack for my site. Working on the tech stuff. The “plumbing”, so to speak.
I get excited working on the tech side of this business. Not in there being the uber-nerd, but in building the systems to better scale our businesses and…. our humanity.
It probably shouldn’t be a major surprise. After all, my first business was literally a tech site. I also did a lot of web development and even created my own content management system that rivaled Wordpress itself back in the early days.
I’m no stranger to web technology.
And I like doing it.
And so my members and readers here at the Academy may have noticed a lot of changes.
Changes to my tech stack. Tweaks to the design. And more posts talking about plug-ins and tools.
There’s a reason for that.
I was more interested in it. 🙂
I also noticed something else…
I was getting a lot of tech questions from members and students. By far, most engagement I got from my community was related to tools, plug-ins, themes, hosting, etc. Not only that, when I advised them on those matters, people would listen and act. And get results!
It is quite a different feeling from having some person who is confused about their entire life direction come to me wanting to make thousands of dollars as a “life coach”. I can’t help them and frankly have no desire to.
Coming To Grips With My Own Superpower
Let me just talk about myself for a bit here…
Everybody has their own core strengths. Their superpower, if you will.
What I believe I’m pretty good at is marrying technology and people.
I have a pretty good understanding of people and how they tick. I understand marketing fairly well. I can talk conversion, offers, sales funnels and the like… all day long. I can talk business systems and feel I’m pretty good at it.
But… I am also really good at the technology. And at building systems that power all the stuff above. I understand that stuff at a conceptual level. It isn’t complicated for me.
I am definitely not an uber-nerd. While I know how to do some coding, I’d very much prefer to avoid it. When it comes to online business technology, I’m more like a plumber or a mechanic. A mechanic understands the car, but he doesn’t build the individual parts. He buys them and slaps them on and makes adjustments.
I feel one of my core strengths is in bringing simplicity to complicated things. I’m good at communicating and helping others understand things.
So, that’s my sweet spot.
I’m really effective in that zone.
Contrast that to having another newbie come in without any clear business direction, looking to me to somehow show them how to extract money out of nothing. Honestly, I can’t help them. I don’t WANT to help them. Too often, I feel I have to become their shrink. Perhaps the fact that I have had so many personal development folks find their way to this site is why that has happened.
I’m perfectly aware that I did that to myself. My mis-targeting my content and therefore attracting those kinds of people. Much of that was because I wasn’t being clear with who I am best equipped to serve, but instead was solely listening to the market. And it become a feedback loop that led nowhere good.
And now, it is time to correct that.
Making The Pivot Official
As I said, this is not some radical sea shift in the focus of the Blog Marketing Academy. I look at it more as sharpening my focus.
It is about human to human business… powered by Wordpress.
The focus remains on building businesses and the systems that power them. I will still be talking about business, entrepreneurship, conversion, and the like. However, you will definitely see (and have likely already seen) a stronger technology element to it. You will see me continue to talk about Wordpress, themes, plug-ins, online business tools, etc.
It is about building the business and tech systems to scale YOU and enable you to serve more people in a scalable way.
We’re building the rails for focusing and harnessing people’s energy and attention online.
Internal Changes To The Business
Over the last few years, my long-time readers and students have watched my business move various directions and go through various changes. Both in terms of focus and the software.
Students have seen me change shopping carts. They’ve watched the membership site go through a bunch of changes. They’ve seen training that starts and… sometimes doesn’t actually finish.
This isn’t because I was being lazy or couldn’t make up my mind. 🙂
It was literally me searching. Trying things and seeing how they worked. Let’s just say…. there’s a reason the membership was called “THE LAB”. Because, everything was a giant experiment.
Sometimes, I admit, I just lost my mojo. A symptom of doing something that was not in alignment with… me.
As a result, some things got a little overly complicated internally as I tried various things. So, along with a sharpening of focus in terms of content, I’ve also made some other changes to the business…
I have been offering “done for you” and “done with you” technical services for several months now. Which, once again, has me in there literally putting my hands on other people’s sites and building the systems for them.
In the world of “gurus”, this kind of “time for money” work is considered a bad thing. But, I look at it differently.
First, I’m obviously good at it. And the clients I have worked with definitely value and appreciate the work I do for them.
Secondly, I’m very overt about positioning this work as a kind of “hands on coaching”. In other words, yeah…. I’ll get in there and build it, but I’m also coming into this with far more experience and expertise than most. And they know it. And, frankly, if I ever got the feeling a client was treating me as an employee or just as their “web guy”, I’d fire them so fast their head would spin. Doing service work works perfectly fine if you position it accordingly.
Lastly, I love that I can get real, tangible, predictable results for them. We can both look at it, point at it, and know something was accomplished.
Contrast that with somebody getting a big pile of videos to watch and being left on their own to get anything done. Too often, they were too overwhelmed and confused to do it.
So, all this to say…
The Blog Marketing Academy now has an agency component to it, too.
I’m enjoying it. My clients definitely get tangible results. And I like that.
A Simplification of Coaching
I’ve always done coaching my own way.
I know all about “high ticket coaching” and I take nothing away from it if it is done right and by capable people. But, I also feel as if the high-ticket coaching space has too many fakes in it. Some of the pricing seems like it is self-important and done solely as positioning. And, I’ve seen way too many of the “products” of these high-ticket coaches and those people are just as confused as the next guy.
I’ve literally lost count of the number of people who told me they felt like they got more concrete, actionable advice from a one-hour call with me than working with some other coach that charged them a few grand.
I know ALL the marketing stuff about this just as much as the next guy.
Charge high prices so people are more invested in the outcome. Charge based on the value of the outcome and not your time. Yada yada. I get it. But, too often, these coaches that do it have no system. Or it becomes a one-size-fits-all thing that their client just doesn’t resonate with.
I didn’t want to do any of that.
Not only that, I like my simplicity. And my time flexibility.
So, I’ve always charged a way more reasonable fee for coaching calls with me.
For awhile, I did Platinum Coaching but I have discontinued it.
Now, everything is done using a simple credit system. A credit can be used for a call or for tech service work.
It is simple.
I like simple.
And, it seems like my clients do, too.
And even if it seems to violate some of the usual “guru” advice, I’m fine with that. In the end, I design my business the way I want to design it for myself.
And Then There’s THE LAB…
The membership site here has been known as THE LAB for a long time now. It was a separate site. Part of the simplification and re-focus of the business meant combining the sites back together again.
You can learn more about the technical changes behind the scenes here.
But, there’s also the branding and focus changes of the membership itself. For instance:
- I quit doing office hours.
- I merged some of the various sections of the LAB into one.
- I’m going to stop referring to it as THE LAB.
I stopped doing office hours for 3 reasons: (a) Lack of engagement since it was mainly the same core group showing up every time and I had literally hundreds of LAB members that never showed up., (b) It was expensive to maintain the systems to be able to do office hours, and (c) It consumed too much “head space” for me given the small group of people who cared and I could use that mental bandwidth for other things.
THE LAB is now simply… the Blog Marketing Academy. No need for two separate brands. Membership is free and gets access to certain perks, and then if people want to upgrade to get all the courses and other resources, they can upgrade to the PRO membership.
It is simpler. I like simple. 🙂
More of the training will be shorter form. Courses will be much easier to consume. Frankly, I think shorter works better for attention spans and that means more results.
There will be less emphasis on big courses and instead on smaller, more topic-focused, outcome-driven courses. They will cover business strategy as normal, but there will be more tech focused things coming to the membership.
While I will go ahead and finish the new Business Building Bootcamp for those people starting from scratch in their business, that will likely be the last that I specifically create training for that phase of business. That Bootcamp will eventually replace The Roadmap and the original (unfinished) Roadmap will no longer be used.
The PRO membership will begin to evolve more to smaller, more actionable trainings in a big library (ala Netflix) and less on big kahuna courses that are more overwhelming and, frankly, harder to make.
As for pricing, for now I am maintaining a lifetime pricing model. Different from many other membership sites.
It is about simplicity, once again.
For those who are interested, I hope this has given a little insight into the behind the scenes thoughts on various changes to the Blog Marketing Academy and why you’ve seen some things shift over the years.
Essentially, every business is a reflection of it’s founder.
And in my case (as the founder), I feel as if I lost sight of what I’m good at and what I most enjoy. I was going down a route that wasn’t totally in alignment with myself because I thought that’s what I needed to do.
And unfortunately, I began to feel more frequently about Blog Marketing Academy as I did with my technology blog. I was uninspired and a little bored. That’s not fun.
The symptoms were over-complication. Unfinished things. And an overall feeling as if I was trying to go too many directions at once.
Usually, when things have gotten complicated, it is a symptom of a system breakdown. Somewhere along the lines, things went weird.
So, with the various tech changes I’ve made recently…
… and the shifts in focus of my content…
… and the changes to my delivery and the things I am doing…
… my goal is to re-align the Blog Marketing Academy with me.
To once again make a business that I enjoy running. That doesn’t make me go cross-eyed. That I feel like delivers real results for people. And… is in alignment with my own superpowers.
All businesses have to be designed to fuel the life you want to live. They need to be designed not only to serve the market, but to serve yourself, too. And, really… the business only works when BOTH of those things are happening.
Wow, David – I applaud you. What matters in life is that we feel good about what we do each day, otherwise what’s the point. It’s so refreshing to hear something spoken from the heart. This sounds like a great new adventure and I will be following alongside and cheering you on.
Awesome post Dave. Thanks for all your help in the past and really looking forward to your assistance in the future. Safe travels!
Very excited about this new direction!
Thank you for all the work you do.
Don in Orlando
Thanks so much for sharing your thoughts. It reminds me of why I first contacted you. When I read your writings, listen to your videos, or speak with you on a call, I always feel like your are being REAL. Your knowledge and expertise is always apparent, but you also grasp the human side of things. And you bring a lot of common sense to a realm that is often hyped up by the gurus and wannabe gurus. You are very easy to trust and I greatly value your time and expertise.
Thanks for sharing your heart with us. It inspires me to share more of my thoughts about my business with my clients. I hope that these changes will result in greater fulfillment for you as you go forward.
Thanks, Greg. 🙂
Thanks David. As a vocal coach, I’m coming to the realization that my members will always need me to hear what they are doing with their singing, so they know if they are doing things right or not. Fortunately, I’m good at teaching and enjoy this part very much. I can relate very much to your focused direction. And I can attest first hand to your excellent technical skills and coaching. Your post had the effect of making me feel very fortunate I am a member of your academy. Thank you!
Thanks, Chuck. 🙂 Really appreciate it.
Love your honesty and awareness here, David. Very refreshing. As one of your clients that uses (and loves!) the credit system and your service, I’m intrigued to know what you meant by this statement: “And, frankly, if I ever got the feeling a client was treating me as an employee or just as their “web guy”, I’d fire them so fast their head would spin.”
In other words what does the ideal client relationship look like from your perspective?
Hey Mark. Yeah, the video was off-the-cuff so perhaps I should have been more clear about that. It is simply a matter of positioning. Clearly, when it comes to having people do website work, there are people who commoditize themselves and go compete on the likes of Upwork. And because of how they position themselves, they can attract clients that treat them like an employee. They can be really demanding, impose deadlines, etc. I’ve seen it before with other people who do full-time web dev. And that’s what I mean. If somebody did that with me, they’d be gone.
The great news is, I’ve literally never had anybody do that since I began offering tech services. 🙂 My clients are all cool, including you. 🙂
PS, this post really got me thinking as well. I think it’s very easy to measure our business return solely on the financials. I mean the numbers are objective and don’t lie, whereas ‘satisfaction’ is grey and subjective. Also, the world tends to measure business success via financial metrics so there’s a natural tendency to do the the same. What you have done seems to have involved some deep introspection and then ‘pivoting’ to help ensure the overall return (financial and enjoyment etc) is more aligned. Not easy and requires going against the grain as well as having the awareness to actually understand how to optimise the subjective return. I really liked this post.
Thanks. Yeah, for me, obviously money matters. But, so does lifestyle. I have to like what I do and it needs to suit the other things in my life. It all goes together.
Hi David, I’ve been following you since the days of PC Mech and your partner Rich Menga. I always enjoy what you put out to your members. I always enjoy the technical aspects of your presentations. I’m looking forward to the changes. As you said, you have to be happy and content with what your doing. Have a good time in NC.
Thanks, Ed. 🙂 I appreciate it.