How do you use the Internet to become rich and famous? I paraphrase but it’s pretty much the question that came up at blog club (which I talked about in the last post.)
You know I don’t know the answer to this, after all I’m neither rich nor famous. Not knowing never stops people giving advice so here is my answer anyway:
Stand out from the crowd. There are lots of people on the Internet, to be rich and famous you only have to appeal to a tiny percentage of them. This is different from every day life where a little conformity helps us get along. Be remarkable in other words: worth being remarked upon.
Say you wanted to visit and write about Ireland, does that make you stand out? What if you said Ireland was such a hospitable country that you’d always get a lift if you needed one. If you said they are so hospitable you’d get that lift even if you had the inconvenience of a fridge with you. That book is Tony Hawks’ Round Ireland with a Fridge. That’s a travel book that stands out; one that I just remarked upon.
On the Internet it pays to be nice. Consider me an old wife when I say ‘show interest in other people and they’ll show interest in you.’ On twitter people often follow you when you follow them. If you write a blog post expanding on someone else’s post you’ll likely pique some interest. You have to be genuine, shameless self promotion this way is annoying and will have the opposite to desire effect.
Sensible use of technology
I am often asked how to get websites to the top of Google. Occasionally I get the impression that my questioner believes there is a magic trick. In fact Google works hard to push useful and interesting sites to the top of their searches and that is where effort should be spent rather than looking for tricks. However saying that Google uses computer programs to read websites and if you can help those programs understand your site correctly that will improve Google’s estimate of the useful / interestingness of your site. The practice of dropping hints in your pages to improve the accuracy of search is called search engine optimisation. Knowing some basics of SEO is helpful but more than that belongs to the realms of astrology. Look at the periodic table of SEO as a nice starting point if you are interested.
Awareness and Luck
As soon as one route to riches has been found road blocks quickly go up. As everyone piles into a gold rush few make it out with a fortune. The key then is to have many routes.
Richard Wiseman in his book The Luck Factor describes the difference between people who consider themselves lucky and those unlucky. It turns out people who are in the lucky camp are far more aware of alternate ideas and paths in life than those in the unlucky camp. In fact they seem more alert to all possibilities. Richard describes an experiment requiring a subject to enter a shop to perform a task. A 10 pound note is placed near the entrance to the shop. Subjects who consider themselves lucky see the tenner and pick it up, those unlucky subjects are so focused on the task in hand they miss the note altogether.
You might think tenacity is counter to my suggestion of having many routes available. But as I said in my not flogging a dead horse blog post not giving up is not doing the same thing over and over again.
Nicholas Taleb in The Black Swan describes his strategy for making money on the markets. He invests knowing most of his investments will fail and he will lose out. However he picks these investments because he knows a fraction of them won’t lose money and will in fact make lots of money indeed. Nicholas Taleb is a wealthy man.
However making investment after investment which fails and loses money is as you can imagine no fun at all. It must require a large degree of tenacity.
(By the way this isn’t the investment strategy that big banks use that got us all in the financial mess we are in. They invest in lots of investments that mostly pay off but occasionally lose and lose very big. Imagine being late for a plane and driving like a maniac, overtaking on bends to make up time to catch your flight. Most times there isn’t a truck coming the other way and you catch your plane, but just once… This is the game the city plays.)
So there is my guide to being rich and famous, I hope you succeed and I’ll be along in a minute.