If you’re a regular Copyblogger reader, you get good advice about five times a week. Excellent advice, really. Stellar.
Especially on days when I’m posting. (Preens.)
Wait, what was I saying again?
Oh, right. You get really good advice, for free, five times a week. Very frequently, this advice would cost you upwards of $150 an hour for a consultant to tell you the same thing.
So when was the last time you actually put any of that advice into action?
Where’s your follow-through?
Are you all thought and no action?
Many of you might say, “I put advice into action all the time. Why, just last week I read a post right here about how using social media would help my blog, and I went and got right onto Twitter and tweeted all day. And it worked!”
Good for you. But did you do it the next day? Did you do it the day after that? Did you make a plan about when you’d get on Twitter each day, what you’d Tweet about, and how you’d tie that strategy to your business goals?
(And maybe just as important, did you come up with a plan to keep you from doing something other than tweeting all day?)
What about posts that offer advice on what you work at every day?
If you thought Jason Cohen’s post on how to write more magnetic copy seemed like sound advice, did you bring his 10-point checklist to your next blog post and double-check to be sure you hadn’t missed any?
Do you have Dan Zarrella’s post on the hard data behind Twitter headlines in your bookmarks, so you can pull it up and reference it when you want a tweet to spread like wildfire?
Most people don’t actively put a lot of thought into the advice they receive, other than thinking, “That sounds like a pretty good idea.” People read quickly and move on. They have good intentions, but they never do anything about them.
The road to hell is paved with good intentions
You probably read blogs every day, blogs on marketing or entrepreneurship or Zen or gardening or getting your dog to behave.
Are you putting any of the advice you read there to regular, everyday use?
Sure, you’re reading the posts, and you’re thinking about the counsel offered. You might even comment. But you probably don’t commit to taking action and maintaining it consistently over at least two weeks to measure the results.
Think about it: Is there an action you do every day that you can trace back to a particularly savvy blog post written by a smart person giving good advice?
If you aren’t consciously putting good advice into action, you might as well not waste your time reading blog posts. You’re not getting anything out of them. Take that time and find something else to do, like shoveling snow or playing Frisbee.
Make a plan
The advice you read on blogs is, by and large, useful. Some of it may be information you already know or tricks you’ve tried in the past. But in general, most highly respected blogs offer nothing but really good advice. They have standards and stick to them, making sure they provide value for the reader.
But you’re the only one who can actually benefit from that value and follow through on that advice. Nodding your head as you read isn’t really enough.
The next time you read a blog post and think to yourself, “I should be doing that,” take action.
Bookmark the post. Stick a Post-it reminder somewhere obvious on your computer. Use red pen. Use big, bold capital letters. Grab your to-do list or scheduler and get that reminder in there.
Tell yourself that you absolutely, definitely, are going put that advice into action. And do it.
This means that if you read a smart blog post about how to write more powerful sales copy, and you know you don’t write very powerful sales copy, you bookmark that post. You take your schedule and block out a 15-minute practice session on powerful sales copy for every single workday for the next two weeks. And when you sit down for that session, go back and look at that post.
Step by step, line by line, apply the words of wisdom to the task at hand. If the post says to check for passive language, check your sales copy for passive language. If it says to use dynamic verbs, check every single verb in that copy to be sure it’s dynamic enough to compete in the next Summer Olympic Games.
Quit thinking about posts and start putting them into action.
Go a step beyond
Got the little stuff down? Scale it up.
I know at least three marketing blogs that, if you were to take their entire archives, have basically given their readers an entire executable marketing plan. The only work is putting all that advice into the right order.
Get a pen and a notepad (or open up a word processor) and start putting the advice in those blog archives into an order that makes sense. Go through every post, and leave out anything that you don’t think will work for you or that doesn’t mesh with your business.
By the time you’re done reading through those posts and putting the advice into action, you’ll have a free marketing plan that would have cost you thousands of dollars for a consultant to lay out for you. And your business will certainly already be benefiting from your active efforts.
That’s the ironic part. If you had had to pay for this advice — if you had laid a cool three grand on the table and received this marketing plan in return — you would damn sure have put at least some of it into action.
Lucky you: you can get that advice for free. But it’s by no means worthless, so put it into action while you can.
About the Author: Start rifling through the archives at James Chartrand’s blog, Men with Pens, for great action-minded freelance writing business advice. You’ll find what you need to rev up your freelance business.