Even though Steve Jobs, Apple CEO died over a year ago, I honestly think bloggers can learn a lot from him and that is why I’m presenting this article titled 7 lessons bloggers can learn from Steve Jobs.
Brief History of Steve Jobs
Simple to a fault, Steve Jobs was no doubt an exciting personality when it came to business as he had an unbridled passion for excellence and innovation. He was a marketer to the core. By way of history, Jobs co-founded Apple in 1976 with Steve Wozniak (in his parents’ garage) but was forced out in 1985 by then CEO, John Scully and the Apple Board. He returned to Apple on September 16th 1997 to rescue it from near bankruptcy. Apple had just acquired NeXT at the time. Three years later (precisely 2000), he was named permanent CEO.
When Jobs returned to Apple in 1997, it was producing a chaotic range of computers and peripherals, alongside a dozen different versions of the Macintosh. After a few product review sessions, he felt the company should streamline its’ operations. He declared the company was going to focus on just four products. All other products should be cancelled. His colleagues were bewildered but pundits say getting the company to take this decision saved the company.
Focus was entrenched in his personality and had been sharpened by his Zen training. He relentlessly sifted out what he considered distractions. Colleagues and family members would consistently be exasperated as they struggled to get him to deal with personal issues. But that was just him. He had a laserlike focus and when he concentrated on a goal, he wouldn’t back off until he achieved it.
“We tend to focus much more, he says. “People think focus means saying yes to the thing you’ve got to focus on. But that’s not what it means at all. It means saying no to the hundred and other good ideas that there are. You have to pick carefully. I’m actually as proud of many of the things we haven’t done as the things we have done.”
The passion Jobs exhibited on his job was infectious; it was deep and trickled down to employees who exhibited deep loyalty to the Apple brand, so much so that as he battled his last illness, he was surrounded by an extremely faithful cadre of colleagues who had been motivated by him for years, alongside his wife, four children and sister.
His passion was so deep that at most times in his life he said he wasn’t running the company because of money but because of his love for the job.
His passion found a place in discipline which was deeply rooted in his personality. He was disciplined to a fault. “To turn really interesting ideas and fledging technologies into a company that can continue to innovate for years,” he says, requires a lot of disciplines.”
By the time he died in October 2011, Jobs had built Apple into the world’s most valuable company with a line of products such as the iMAC, iPOD, iPOD nano, iTUNES store, iPAD, iPHONE, to its credit.
7 Lessons Bloggers Can Learn from Steve Jobs
If you are a blogger and care to know, you can learn the following lessons from Steve Jobs and build a successful and profitable blog:
- Constant Search for Innovation
In all his years as Apple CEO, Jobs was constantly in search of innovation. Even in cases where he was not the inventor of a product, he showed that you don’t have to be the inventor to be the innovator. You can improve on someone else’s product and still make a high quality product. One of such products that Apple improved upon was the MAC. According to Walter Mossberg, the personal technology columnist for the Wall Street Journal, “he (Jobs) didn’t invent the basic technologies in that (the MAC), they were developed at Xerox. But Xerox had no ability to market them.” But his search never ended with a highly innovative product launch; he was constantly in search of innovation.
According to him, “…if you do something and it turns out pretty good, then you should go do something else wonderful, not dwell on it for too long. Just figure it out, what’s next.”
Lesson for Bloggers: In what ways are you introducing innovation to your blog? Has anything changed on the blog since you launched it? What creative and innovative functions have you introduced since you started blogging?
- Marketing Is It
Just as Steve Jobs prioritized marketing, a blog can only be successful to the extent to which it is marketed. The era of just churning out great content, hoping it would bring readers is long past and gone. Start marketing your blog now. Jobs was a master marketer, you just need to watch his product launch videos to realise that. At the launch of the iPHONE, he really wowed the audience when he referred to the iphone as 3 devices. According to him, “today, we are introducing three revolutionary products. The first is a wide-screen iPod with touch controls. The second is a revolutionary new mobile phone. And the third is a breakthrough Internet communications device."
While continuing to build tension, Job repeats the three devices several times then says, "Are you getting it? These are not three separate devices. This is one device…today Apple is going to reinvent the phone!” The crowd goes wild on hearing this but that is just who he was – a master marketer.
Lesson for Bloggers: In what ways are you marketing your blog? Do you have a marketing plan at all or you’re just going about your marketing in an haphazard way? Is marketing a top priority for you or just something you do when you like?
- Recognize What Consumers Need Before They Do
You need lots of foresight to do this. You must be able to predict what your readers might appreciate and give it to them. You can’t always wait for them to tell you. “You can’t just ask customers what they want and then try to give that to them”, he says. “By the time you get it built, they’ll want something new.”
He continues, “It’s really hard to design products by focus groups. A lot of times, people don’t know what they want until you show it to them.”
To his credit, Apple created many revolutionary products the world needed (even though we didn’t know at the time).
Lesson for Bloggers: In what ways have you predicted what your blog readers would appreciate and did you provide it? How many times do you do brainstorming sessions to be able to accurately predict the future for your blog industry?
- Building a Great Company or Blog
Jobs’ passion was to build a great company that churns out amazing products and he succeeded with it. Most times when he was what his greatest creation was; was it the iPHONE or iPAD, he’d promptly say, “No,” while stressing the fact that Apple - the company was his greatest creation because it keeps creating great products. During product introductions, he was fond of saying: “he built a highly capable company that likely will endure and thrive.”
Lesson for Bloggers: Are you building a great blog or just slapping crappy content online in the name of running a blog? What great products are you creating to keep your blog in the forefront of its industry? Can your blog survive long after you’re gone?
- Financial Profitability
Steve Job’s financial performance was astounding. According to an Harvard Business Review Blog, “if you had invested $100,000 in Apple the day he rejoined in 1997, and held that investment until the day he stepped down in 2011, your investment would have been worth $6.86 million, a 35.4% compounded annual growth rate.” That means, on average, Apple’s shareholder return grew 35% year in, and year out, for 14 years! Now, that’s awesome!
It took Jobs three years to turn the fortunes of Apple around. As a blogger,it would take some time to finally start making money with your blog but if you’re stuck with a dud blog years after set up, consider doing what Steve Jobs did - focusing and shrinking product lines, hiring people who understood his dreams and firing those who did not conform or add value in any way. You probably need a blog audit by a professional (who can look at issues dispassionately) to ascertain how to do this.
Lesson for Bloggers: Is your blog financially profitable? What products are you churning out to make your blog profitable and viable? There’s nothing wrong with having premium content that digs deeper into issues than your blog posts can contain, but are you doing them or you’ve become comfortable making pennies from the adverts on your blog?
- Patience and Long Term View
Even though he achieved a commendable financial performance, it’s worthy of note that Jobs took some years after he rejoined in 1997 to put the house in order as the company was nearing bankruptcy. It would be safe to say the company started doing well, financially in 2000, that’s three years after he took over the reins of leadership! So, patience and long-term view were vital to his amazing financial performance.
Lesson for Bloggers: Are you ready to wait for your blog to get over the teething stages and mature into a money-making tool? Or you’ve been hit by the instant gratification syndrome? It does take time to make some progress on any venture and Jobs alluded to it in this quote: “I’m convinced that about half of what separates the successful entrepreneurs from the non-successful ones is pure perseverance.”
- Think Differently
That’s one of the slogans of Apple Incorporated and I dare say it was the reason the company recorded amazing success. I guess it won’t be out-of-place to say the company always went in opposite directions (with conventional wisdom or thought). It had the courage to stand on its beliefs and execute it.
Lesson for Bloggers: If you’re thinking like your other blogging colleagues, your blog would go nowhere. The only thing that’d make your blog visible, in an attractive way, is to think and do things differently. Are you ready to do this?
Summary and Action Points
If you want to succeed as a blogger, take a cue from Steve Jobs.
- Develop Laser-sharp Focus
- Have a Strong Passion
- Build Up Discipline
- Constantly Search for Innovation
- Improve Your Marketing Skills
- Build a Great Blog
- Have Patience and a Long term view
- Be Financially Profitable
- Think Differently, Not Conventionally
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