In this blog post, I will cover the Lean Startup Mentality. What it is, how it works, and how it applies to your blogging business.
Let’s get right into it.
The Lean Startup was a book written in 2011 by Eric Reese. And it changed the way that people think about how to build businesses, how to make technology companies, and the strategies behind how to create and scale large companies.
There were about ten different main tactics or ways that businesses scale and ways to think about this lean startup methodology in this book. It’s a system.
A lot of this can apply to your blog. I will cover a lot of these different methodologies and how you can think about it when you’re starting a blogging or information business.
The first one is to build, measure, and learn.
In the startup mentality and in this book, when you’re creating a tech company or a blog, this is all based on data. Build, measure, and learn in a startup is we make, say, a new product update for our tech company or add a new feature in our product.
We measure the results based on customer data and feedback, and we learn based on that information. It’s thinking like a scientist.
It’s like we create something. It has a direct result that we can test with data and conversion rates, and then we learn from that. And this is one of the most important things when it comes to blogging as well.
When you think about creating content, creating an information business. It’s essential that we base our decisions on data. We’re not just writing a bunch of content that we hope works.
We’re not writing, we want to go into one specific niche, and we’re forcing it. Build Measure Learn is the opposite of the traditional advice that you get from many other authorities in the space that tells you how to build a niche site or build a blog.
They tell you to create content in a specific niche. Go after long-tail keywords. Write things based on these tactical things like keyword search volume and all of these things.
But when you think about a blogging business and scaling a blogging business, you have to try and test and tweak different things.
The problem with that approach is that you can’t build, measure, and learn. You’re pigeonholing yourself in a tiny area.
When it’s the brand of you, and you’re building your blog like a real business, you need to test different content areas.
For example, my blog, which I created at Aim World Group.com. I didn’t create it at Email marketing guy.com, or I would have been pigeonholed in one area. I didn’t even call it digital marketing something.com.
I didn’t know what was going to work. I used my blog as a digital resume. I built, measured, and learned as I went, and I found that what I thought my blog was going to be was not what Google thought I was an expert in.
I started writing things about digital marketing, Email marketing, and web hosting, and I didn’t know what I was doing as much as I do today, and I realized, wow, a lot of this stuff’s are competitive.
I couldn’t understand, but I saw based on data, based on Google search console data which I was getting impressions for early on, based on Google Analytics traffic, what was starting to rank.
That’s how I found and measured the results that I was seeing. I was writing these posts. I was measuring results and then honing in and going after that niche more because that’s based on Google knowledge graph or what they think you’re an expert in.
Blogging in the build measure learn scenario isn’t about writing content you want to write and forcing it and thinking and hoping and praying that it ranks. It’s thinking like a scientist.
It’s trying different small sub-niches within a broad niche. For example, if I had a home blog and wanted to write about home lifestyle things and transactional posts.
Maybe I try a few kitchen areas, kitchen idea posts, a few things related to living room things, a few things related to smart home devices, just trying these little different sub-niches.
If you have one big niche, trying and testing different categories to create the brand of you, seeing what Google starts rewarding and then honing in on that. You’re measuring the results and then diving into what works. That’s step one in the Lean Startup Methodology.
Minimum Viable Product (MVP)
This is very important when it comes to your content strategy. In any tech company, there’s what’s called an MVP or minimum viable product. When you think about creating software, for example, how much time and work do you want as a company to put in.
Are they going to perfect it 100% and put all of these developers’ resources into one specific product, then spend hours and hours and hours and months making it perfect? No.
They’re going to get to the minimum viable product, which is the minimum amount that still makes it a good product but not putting in that extra time and effort. They don’t need to. They need to test. This goes back to Build Measure Learn.
We don’t want to go 100% and put all this effort in and then realize, hey, that didn’t even work. One example of this is Microsoft Zoom. For example, Zoom was a competitor to the iPod, and Microsoft put all these resources into creating this MP3 player.
All these resources created this huge product, this brand, launched it, advertised it, promoted it, and died because they didn’t build, measure, and learn.
They were trying to force something down their customer’s throats. Microsoft is not a music company. They’re a software company for business. They were trying to force this on people.
They put all this time and effort, and it didn’t work. The same applies to blogging, where a software company creates product updates over time in a minimum viable way and then improves.
It’s like not climbing all the way to the mountain top at once; it’s making the baby steps that you need to get there.
In a blog, for example, this gets to the content machine, and it’s about how you are structuring and scaling your content marketing efforts.
When I first started my blog, I wrote this article about psychology. It was a personal development article that was pretty long, but I didn’t know how to monetize a blog years back.
I wrote this long article, and I glossed over it, wrote it down, and edited it ten times, and wanted it to be perfect.
I was so scared of publishing it because people might read it, and then they would judge me, and I put all this work into it, went to 100%, published it, and no one saw it. No one read it.
I put all that work in probably 10 to 20 hours of writing time, and I didn’t build measure learn. I didn’t create a minimum viable article. I created an insanely optimized article that was too much work.
When you’re thinking about minimum viable posts or products, I talk about it in the course; I show you exactly how to create with templates, minimum viable posts, and minimum viable websites. Everything is updating and adapting and can change in blogging.
There’s a strict formula when thinking about minimum viable products and minimum viable content. With the blog, we’re creating content, and this is an information business.
We’re not creating physical products. We’re not developing software. As bloggers, our information is the product.
We’re mediating purchase decisions. We’re writing blog posts. A minimum viable post is an idea behind that in the content assembly line. It’s something like; we’re not going to write a perfect article out of the gate.
We will create a minimum viable article using the right SEO tools to optimize it for search engines, get it written or outsourced in Google Docs, and publish it quickly.
No one’s going to see it for a while because it’s usually not going to rank on Google for a long time. It could be fast, but usually, it’s not. It takes a little bit of time. Write a minimum viable article, publish it, then the strategy of the content assembly line begins.
We’re building links to this article. We’re building authority to it with guest posts and outreach, and then, once it starts getting to page three, page two, that’s when we come in and update it again in a minimum viable update.
We created a minimum viable blog post, we got it to a level that’s acceptable enough to read and is optimized for search engines with SEO tools, got links to it, and pushed it up. It’s a crawl to the top, and then over time, we updated it for human readers, and that’s kind of how it works.
It’s a process and a system to get to ranking. It’s not like creating a perfect article out of the gate because we want to scale. We want to create a lot of different content and test things.
That’s how you think about the minimum viable product. Write a blog post, publish it if it’s good enough, and move on. That’s a big slogan that we’ll cover in the course. Perfectionism is an enemy when it comes to this stuff.
Another lean startup mentality item is the pivot, which is crucial when it comes to blogging. The pivot is the idea of pivoting into a new area.
When I Think of a pivot in a technology company, what could happen is you think that your product is one thing, but you discover a pivot point, and you shift your strategy to a new area.
There are a lot of technology companies that started as one thing and found a new feature, and then maybe that feature became the product, or they discovered their customers wanted this, and then they shot to that idea and that part of the software.
You have to be able to pivot and adapt. Any business needs to pivot. Think about COVID and like what happened to restaurants and what happened to traditional brick-and-mortar businesses.
You either adapt or die when it comes to business. For example, if you’re a restaurant and didn’t shift to delivery or make pickup easier or change the menu or do these things, that, most likely, the restaurant would fail.
You have to pivot to the marketplace, and blogging is no different. My blog was successful because I started it with a no niche name. I gave myself a vast area that I could pivot into. I didn’t go after one specific small niche.
Let’s say I was in E-commerce, and I had a lot of experience in eCommerce technology, and I
just covered that. And I called myself Ecommerce Guy.com. This is a niche, and I can talk about Ecommerce platforms, dropshipping, and Amazon FBA; I can compare the platforms. I can talk about how to optimize your product pages and how to get traffic and SEO and all that stuff.
What happens when I try all that content, and it doesn’t rank, or I’m not finding traction in that niche.
Now I’m stuck with this domain name called the Ecommerce Guy, and I can’t change what I’m talking about. I can’t talk about online courses, blogging as much, podcasting, and other areas in my niche.
The same thing is true for any niche. Let’s say you’re into home gadgets, and you call yourself the smart home expert. You start talking about Nest and Smart Light Bulbs and Amazon Alexa and these gadgets and reviews.
But what happens if that content doesn’t work? What happens if those posts never rank, or you’re not getting traction, or it’s too hard to get links, and you’re in this little area.
You can’t pivot. You pigeonhole yourself into a small niche, and what happens with those small niche sites that don’t find success? They are easy to quit.
That’s the problem with niche sites and what people teach. You can’t test things when you already start with the end in mind.
No niche site formula says, I’m going to go after this niche based on data, based on numbers, and it’s going to work. You can’t guess what’s going to work.
I’ve seen this building my blog up to a seven-figure business. Things that I thought I would rank for I didn’t. Things that I didn’t think I’d ever rank for I did. It’s up to Google. It’s not up to me. And I pivoted into what worked.
I had to be open to the opportunity for different things. I wasn’t forcing blog posts down Google’s throat and telling them I needed to rank in this.
And that’s what is called living in the middle. You’re not CNN, you’re not a major site, but you’re not a tiny niche site. You are the brand of you, and you can adapt and pivot that content based on what works in finding sub-niches. That is super important.
Continuous deployment and Small batches
Another few in the lean startup mentality are continuous deployment and small batches. They kind of go hand in hand.
There is continuously updating stuff in any software company, so developers and product developers create new product updates and just launch them right into the product, right into the live version of the tool.
They don’t create six months’ worth of stuff and then update it. They’re updating consistently in making the product better. Making the software better in small batches, not huge batches, and this goes back to MVP.
We’re not creating some insanely colossal update. We’re updating over time, and this works with blogging too. When I look back at my blog when I first started, it looked like trash, to be honest.
It wasn’t the worst thing in the world, but it certainly looks a lot better today. My articles weren’t all that great yet. The layout wasn’t good, but over time, a blog is a living, breathing thing; you can update it at any time.
If an article doesn’t work, you can delete it or 301 redirected or just keep it there. It just lives there. It’s not the end of the world. No one will find it. Try other stuff.
I’ve probably changed my homepage call to action and message a ton of times, just trying to figure out what my blog would be.
I didn’t know my niche at first. I had no idea, but I could find that over time, based on continuously updating my site and making those small daily decisions.
For example, I just need to change this little paragraph here or change these blog post images. They look horrible. A blog is a digital asset that you’re growing over time based on the brand of you.
If it’s just a tiny niche site and it fails, then it’s deleted. It’s pointless. You wasted all that time. If it’s your brand, all you have to do is use it as a digital resume, test content over time-based on what works, and then something will work.
You’re building links to it. You’re continuously deploying updates in small batches.
Finally, constant innovation in the book says that continuous innovation creates radically successful businesses. That’s true. You have to innovate; you have to adapt.
You can’t try one thing and just keep trying and trying and trying and never making traction. That’s the definition of insanity, trying things repeatedly, expecting different results.
Constant innovation is another part of the lean startup mentality. What does this exactly mean, and how does this apply to blogging?
When you think about a blog, it’s not a software company, and it’s not a tech company. But we’re competing with those same huge tech Companies when it comes to search
engine results. Your information as a blog is the path to financial freedom.
Doing this startup mentality and treating your blog like a startup, how to outsource all your content effectively, and perfecting an outline so any writer can make it good in Google Docs.
Doing all these things, but it’s an information business. A blog is an information business. You are the product your posts are the product.
It’s great I don’t have to worry about software development and customer service and product updates and customer success and retaining customers and all these things that a software company with 100 employees needs to do.
However, I can just write content. Mediate purchase decisions in my niche, and that’s all I have to do. As an information business, you are the product, but thinking like a startup is starting to think like a scientist.
Think in a data-driven way based on mini viable articles, based on constant innovation, based on finding your niche.
I didn’t find my niche for the first, probably six to nine months. I put it as my blog’s name and then found my niche over time. That is the magic formula to this and that no one talks about.
They say go after a niche site. Go after these metrics on Ahrefs, create a niche site based on this, and then succeed. And that’s why so many blogs fail because you can’t guess your way based on data. Ahrefs and Google trends are great tools, but they’re not perfect.
Keyword difficulty is a number. You can’t base a business on that. You have to base it on the brand of you, on thinking like a startup, on constant innovation, and on finding your niche over time.
Those are some of the principles about how that applies to blogging. We’ll get into the content strategies and how I get these minimum viable articles written in an easy way to upload into WordPress.
If the article is good enough, moving on is a good mentality. We start by writing for search engines first, getting it to a minimum viable post, getting it to start ranking, updating it over time, and getting links to it. There’s a whole system, and we talk about it in the course.
In the Lean Startup Methodology it’s build, measure, and learn, minimum viable products, pivoting based on data, continuous deployment, small batches, and constant innovation. These things also apply to any online business, especially your blog.
I hope you found this helpful. I’ve plenty of more content and exclusive content in the email list, so please join that list below. Not many people are talking about this when it comes to blogging.
I think blogging is very different nowadays. It’s not a simple journaling and update site anymore. It’s an information business, and you’re competing against companies and brands, not just other bloggers. So, you have to up your game. It’s not impossible.
You just have to apply these newer strategies that we cover in-depth in my course and more on the email list. So, please join. I hope you found this article helpful, and I will talk to you soon.