I’ve been thinking a lot, lately, about what influence actually is.
Until fairly recently, I used to think (online, especially) that it was measured in numbers: visitors to your site, retweets, sales, RSS Subscribers, Aweber subscribers, etc.
Not to poo-poo those ‘metrics’ at all, but that isn’t close. Consider: at the height of this site (and it’s far, far from at its height), I used to get something approaching 2,000 visitors a day, and more on traffic spike days (I got linked from Lifehacker and a couple of other “a” team sites.
I used to have something like 15k twitter followers.
I used to have a mailing list with 10,000 people on it.
And I was broke.
And I wasn’t really able to reach people. I was “alright, I guess,” or “kinda pompous, but we can deal with him.”
I wasn’t able to turn my “tribe” as it was into anything (loads of reasons – that’s another post, but mostly I sent signals of mediocrity/indifference). I had all the numbers I set out to get, but I had virtually no influence. Worse, I was a fading, failed hustler. Nobody likes an old hustler that didn’t turn the corner.
Right now, I have a negligible web presence. This site has 200 RSS subscribers, I flushed my Twitter profile (I still post, but it’s got 8k people or something, and I’m guessing it’s 2/3 bots). I get about 1,000 visitors a day, mostly on a couple of posts that are specific to the Mortgage industry.
Yet, I would argue I’ve never had more influence in my life.
- 5 bestselling authors are my clients (plus a couple more that will sell very well).
- I have a connection at every major Startup Incubator.
- The work I do is the “last mile” in almost 50,000,000 worth of software sales per month.
- I have 75+ paying clients, including giant media conglomerates that would “do me a solid.”
- I can (and have) get something posted in almost every major tech blog.
I could go on and on, but this is a different type of influence. I don’t know where it leads, but it’s certainly more secure than relying on the goodwill and support of an industrial age industry (Real Estate) that I never liked much (the money was green, and I didn’t have any clue.)
What’s interesting is that I’m very easy to overlook now. I don’t have the whole schtick following me everywhere (Truth be told, I believe that that was something of a repellant to gaining good quality business). I am just some guy that got something done. That’s a better posture.