The question is, how do you use time as a tool? How long should your content activity take you, actually?
The short answer is: As long as it takes.
I’ll illustrate what I mean with a story. Stay with me.
Back in about 2006, I was intensely bugged by the need to develop an alternative to a publication for which I was writing. It wasn’t being what I’m going to call ‘genre inclusive’ (it was in the music industry). I’d started dreaming of a publication that would tick all my boxes, and all my readers’ boxes. I knew what I’d do, how I’d do it, what kinds of things would make the readership tick. I knew what the team would need to feel like family. I dreamed about it for probably a year.
The opportunity to do it finally slid onto my desk in 2007.
I didn’t hesitate. I didn’t do any of the usual, financial due diligence. I just grabbed the opportunity and got moving.
Taking action almost every single day, getting that beast moving took a long time.
Like, a year, maybe more, to build.
Meaning: From idea to execution was at least two years.
The payoff was completely worth it: The promotion yielded fans before they’d even seen hide or hair of the product; everything we published was picked up and promoted by our robust fanbase; and we scaled fast. That publication was launched beginning of 2008, and acquired by another company around the end of 2010.
To go back to the build: Two years is a long time in anyone’s books! It’s a lifetime in today’s move-fast-and-break-things society.
It’s true that I could’ve done it more easily, more quickly, probably more cheaply. I could have gotten that baby up off my desk and functioning within three months, no problems.
Would it have yielded the uptake and growth if I had?
Using time as a tool meant that I achieved a whole lot of critical things. These included:
- audience and user research
- effective structures and taxonomy
- governance and policy
- custom functionality
- custom design for multiple marketing applications, and a known, planned promotional cycle
- a full year of promotion, pre-launch, to build excitement (and buyers)
- forward planning
- editorial rules
- the best contributors I could find.
The result? It went off like a firecracker for the three years from launch to acquisition.
Ok, so if this seems like it doesn’t apply to YOU, then you have missed the lesson.
The lesson is: When you view your publication as a product, your perspective completely changes.
How long would you spend developing a product for your business?
Right. You’d do it for as long as it takes to ensure success. Product success and publishing success are the same thing: Both exist to make you money.
Rushing into a publishing product of any kind is not going to win you the hearts and minds that you need to win. Inside a business, those hearts and minds are both internal AND external.
Time allows you to learn, and test, what it is that’s going to form your blend of persuasive honey. Conceiving publication products is one thing; executing on them so that you have a drooling audience waiting for their release is quite another.
Now, a warning.
You can use time as a tool. But you can also use it as a crutch.
I say ‘as long as it takes’ — but not any longer. If you don’t prioritise the work, aren’t smashing out what needs to be done, are delaying because of fear or anxiety that it “isn’t perfect yet”, it’s not using time as a tool.
It’s using time as sabotage.
You can rescue your time by understanding how you spend it, by signing up to Rescue Time’s Free Forever plan. We use this app daily, and have done for the past five years. And our productivity gains have been immense:
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