An "A" For Effort

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There are no shortcuts.

You know this. You’ve been told this a million times. Digital Marketing and Social Media are not cheap, free and easy. That’s not true. A lot of the platforms and channels are free and some are relatively cheap. Most of them are easy to join and get engaged with. So, then, what is the challenge and why can’t everybody make it work best for them?

It takes a lot of effort.

Just because the ability to connect is free, just because you can do so with a very limited budget (re: cheap), and just because the technology has advanced to the point where anyone from a young child to a senior citizen can figure it out, that doesn’t mean that everybody is going to take the time and put the effort into really making both the content and connections come to life and be effective for them.

Don’t hate the player… hate the game.

I always hated that line. It is the textual version of sticking your tongue out at someone, but – in the case of success in the online channels – it is true. The ones who are successful are not (necessarily) better than you, more experienced than you or smarter than you (no offense to those who are considered successful). More often than not, they’re simply putting in a ton of effort and the effects of that effort are more connections and content that is shared more. Take a look at Chris Brogan, Amber Naslund, Gary Vaynerchuk, Julien Smith, Kneale Mann or many others. Look at their output. Not just on their own spaces but their activity in other spaces. Look at what they’re doing when they’re not online. Look at how they network, organize, think and build. Now, look in the mirror and ask yourself this: are you putting in the same amount of effort? If you’re putting in the same amount of effort – at this point – ask yourself what level of effort might be needed to surpass them?

Now, ask yourself these really tough questions:

Do you really want to put that kind of effort into anything? Why? What outcome do you hope to achieve? The truth is that it’s easier to throw stones or to say "I could do that too," or even to be critical of the things these people are doing. The harder part is to rise above that and actually prove it. See, in the past, you might be able to say that your written words are better than most of the articles you can find in Rolling Stone magazine. It would be hard to prove you wrong, as it was hard to get any kind of article into a magazine of that caliber, but that’s not the case any more. Now you (or anyone) can have a thought and publish it for free (and fast) in text, audio, images or video, instantly to the world. You can have all of the excuses in the world, but none of them can be related to the actual publishing and distribution.

Back to Chris Brogan…

He posts twice a day. He has a company called New Marketing Labs. He has another company called Human Business Works. Along with his main Blog, he’s also got another one called Man On The Go and recently launched another one called, Escape Velocity. He’s written two books (Trust Agents with Julien Smith and Social Media 101) and is in the middle of writing his third. He helped launch a membership-based marketing forum called, Third Tribe Marketing. He frequently puts out an e-newsletter and he manages to speak all over the world, contribute to other people’s blogs in the comment section, maintain a 150,000+ person community on Twitter, a Facebook presence and still has time for a young family. That, my dear friends, is effort.

Amber too…

Amber Naslund hasn’t been Blogging forever, but she does it so well (check out Brass Tack Thinking). See how active Amber is in the comments. See how active Amber is on other people’s Blogs. Check out what she’s about on Twitter. Beyond that, she’s also frequently speaking around the world. She was recently named, VP Social Strategy for the social media monitoring company, Radian6 and her first book, co-written with Jay Baer called, The Now Revolution, comes out soon. Did I mention she is a single mom?

It’s about the effort.

A great body? Put in the effort to diet and exercise more. A smarter mind? Put in the effort to read and learn more. A better job? Put in the effort to make your current job better or increase your skill set so that you can move forward. The people that are successful know the one trick: it’s not about luck… it’s about effort.

I know you can do it. Put the effort into it. The results will blow your mind.


  1. Well said. People tend to look at the end result but not at the actual effort involved in getting there. Knowing where you want to go is key before starting anything. Thanks!

  2. Thanks for the awesome post Mitch! I am new to blogging and social media and this post is great. I am starting my blog so when it is up I will definitely pass it your way. It is easy to feel overwhelmed with those that are established, and this put everything in a good perspective. Be well post soon!

  3. Great post, Mitch.
    Funny how in this age of instant gratification from 4G and interoperable app mashups, we forget that all these time-saving conveniences were created by someone who worked their ass off to build them.
    I heard a fitting quote a little while ago – “Online influence is a slow burn” – but if you don’t feed a fire, it will go out. GaryVee said, “You can do a lot of damage between 9pm and 2am,” (like posting comments at midnight).
    The catch-22 is the actual effort required which takes time, money and discipline, all of which, again in our age of instant gratification, are in short supply.
    Time and project/resource management skills should be fundamental parts of life’s curriculum, because without them, you’ll burn out trying.
    I have the utmost respect for all the names you listed because of the effort they put forth and the status they have earned from it.
    If only someone could put in the effort to finally build a solution to traffic, those of us in the GTA at least would have 3 extra hours a day to get stuff done…

  4. Hi Mitch,
    Great post. I’ve always been amazed by the output of the sort of individuals you have mentioned, and how they juggle the demands required to make themselves a success.
    ‘The truth is that it’s easier to throw stones or to say “I could do that too,” or even to be critical of the things these people are doing. The harder part is to rise above that and actually prove it.’ – I couldn’t agree more.

  5. Glad I followed Chris Brogan’s link to your blog! I completely agree that it’s all about the effort you put forth. As for point #5, I have it on good authority that Ambers rule ;->
    Amber @WordsDoneWrite

  6. When an entrepreneur asks me if I would be willing to consult with them I simply ask one question, “Are you willing to do whatever it takes to succeed?” The TRUE answer to that question by in large will determine their level of success.
    Great post, thanks for sharing!

  7. I wondered why my treadmill wasn’t getting me in shape under that layer of dust. It’s quite an honour to be included on this list and I think I have a lonnnnnnnnnnng way to go but thanks for the kick in the pants!

  8. Love it Mitch!
    And without sucking up too much, I find a ton of inspiration in your work and efforts. Always driving your readers to learn and consider the many angles and perspectives of marketing, thank you for that.
    Great post.

  9. Very thought provoking article. I’ve always wanted to know how these people with kids have so much energy! After the full day of work, doing supper, cleanup, and putting the kids to bed, it’s all I can do not to pass out right then and there!

  10. Thank You Mitch, thank you.
    An excellent post yes, but more it is also touching on one of the biggest misconceptions out there.
    I find myself talking to many who get hung up on the first two points you raised. They feel entering into this crazy world will take either to much money, i.e. setting up a blog, linking it to their website ext. Or they think it all has to do with technical skill.
    Yet you hit the nail on the head, as those first two points matter very little. I found your final two points about Chris Brogan, and Amber Naslund to speak values about the commitment that is needed. Not only to sit in-front of Twitter, but to write, speak, and almost more importantly, interact and share with others.
    Excellent post, and thanks for writing it!

  11. Another great post Mitch.
    It’s so true that it’s the effort that makes all the difference. I like to think that I’m working hard, but compared to the people you mentioned here (and even you) it makes me feel like I’m more moving at a turtle pace.
    Time to step my game up if I’m going to make you all eat my dust…. someday.
    Sheldon, community manager for Sysomos

  12. I couldn’t agree more. There are tons of posts out there teaching you how to build 1000 followers on Twitter, how to write amazing blog content, how to be influent and successful. Some are honestly useful, some sound to me like a shortcut to cut on what you mention so much here, effort.
    Before complaining about the kind of results out of social media, one should really examine the amount of effort they are putting into it.

  13. Hi Mitch,
    This was a very inspiring article. I think of my new business as a newborn baby. That’s the attention, focus and love that needs to be put into it. I actually have a photo of a newborn baby sitting on my desktop so that when I get exhausted, I remember why I’m doing this – I believe in my business and I want to make it work.
    One of my burning questions is… when it comes to social networking, for someone like me just starting out, what are the priorities? There are so many ways to go, so many choice of how to spend your time. And time, being the most valuable and also most scarce and precious commodity, we need to whittle it down and focus.
    This is my biggest struggle right now. As you know I’m such a fan of your work and your insight. I tend to pick and choose my “sources” so here I am coming to my #1 and most preferred one – you!
    Thanks, and keep up the great work!

  14. Hi Mitch
    Thank you for such an encouraging post. I am new on the blogging scene and have realised it takes lots of time and effort, I have also realised that it will take quite some time to get “noticed” but I have been encouraged by your post not to give up.
    I look forward to reading more of your posts

  15. Such an inspirational post, thank you for the reminder about hard work! I don’t understand how Chris Brogan and the rest do it, it seems there aren’t literally enough hours in the day to do what they do, but somehow they do it! I work full time and am working on a start-up on the side and I’m exhausted. But I’ll keep chugging along using Chris and the rest as my inspiration.

  16. There’s a full chapter in my book, Six Pixels of Separation, called, “In Praise of Slow,” that speaks to your notion of the slow burn. You have to have the patience it takes to build truly valuable relationships.

  17. Being critical is important… it fosters different thinking and different conversations. Taking shots at people simply because you can without putting in an equal amont of effort is a very weak position, from my perspective.

  18. I think there’s a huge chasm between putting in a lot of effort and “doing whatever it takes.” The truth is, I’m not willing to do whatever it takes to be successful – for many reasons. I’m willing to put in a ton of effort, though 😉

  19. We all have a long way to go… the point is that some of us know it and just keep saying it, while others (like you) put the effort into the hard work of driving that “long way” just a little bit closer… inch by bloody inch.

  20. It would be self-serving to include myself in the Blog post, but thanks for acknowledging the effort. It’s Saturday afternoon and this is my break: 1 Blog post, prep 2 Podcasts and respond to comments here on the Blog. I’ll take a shorter nap… put in a little bit of extra effort 😉

  21. They have the drive and they’re putting in the effort. Gary Vaynerchuk has a newborn! You’ll note in the comments, he pushes a lot of his work through from 9 pm to midnight. It’s all about choices (and yes, those include healthy ones).

  22. People worry to much about what it will cost and how it will be done instead of worrying about the really important stuff like: once it’s done, how am I going to be interesting, relevant, consistent and engaged. Those are the monster questions.

  23. You need to find your own pace and pulse – your mileage will vary, but if you are comparing yourself to Chris Brogan or Amber Naslund, start really analyzing what they’re putting into this space… it’s mind boggling.

  24. …and as more and more voices join, you do have to out-effort those people too… it’s not easy. Just look at Chris Brogan – he’s now up to two posts on his Blog every single day… talk about effort!

  25. You won’t have to think about where to spend your time if you develop a strong strategy on the front-end. Figure out where you need to be – how often and doing what – and then create a schedule… and stick to it.

  26. Wow Mitch, you’re really walking the talk by responding to every comment! Impressive man!
    I just wanted to add my own effort story.
    About a month ago, I decided I was going to start actually following the advice of Canada’s food guide and drinking 8 to 10 glasses of water a day. It wasn’t easy. It took effort – the effort of changing old habits. But i did it. I did it by always having a water bottle in my hand and drinking mouthful after mouthful.
    The result is that I feel physically great because of the water and mentally great because of the discipline.

  27. I think sometimes we forget how much hard work people do in order to be as successful as they are. Success, unfortunately, doesn’t happen overnight.

  28. Whenever people ask, “How do you find the time to [fill in the blank]?” I tell them I don’t find the time, I make the time. (Of course, it helps when you have passion for what you’re doing.)

  29. Interesting post, and for once I think I learned a bit more than I already knew.
    I like the part about effort, and I do believe there’s a great component to it. Actually, I’ve written a post that will pop up tomorrow where I kind of talk about comparing myself to some people who were named on a top 50 bloggers list, which includes some folks you mentioned here, and I came to the conclusion that the major difference between myself and them is the networking part. After all, I have 3 blogs, have written two books, and write 300 posts a year on my most popular blog.
    So, 2011 becomes the true year of networking and influence; just have to make sure I do it correctly. Great thought provoking post.

  30. I’ll be the umteenth to say it, great post! The effort required in making anything succeed is usually the hardest idea to pass along. It happens even more in social media. People see FREE ENGAGEMENT and automatically assume FREE=EASY. Not the case at all. I’m working toward improving my skill, and my drive, this was just the kind of post I needed to keep it going.

  31. Let me know if your last mile was, indeed, the networking… you’ll know soon enough. Keep in mind, there are many well-known Bloggers with tremendous authority that don’t do much networking.

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