Assemble a team of mentors, then follow their lead.Dec 05, 2023
When I first started creating online content and building my online platform, I wanted to make it sustainable over the long-term. For it to remain a long-term project, I knew it would need to generate revenue. I’m not a greedy person, nor am I overly enamored with money, but I am realistic about its stewardship and use.
Maintaining an online platform is an expense. You’re going to pay to host and market your content. You’re also going to incur expenses for things like microphones, cameras, computers, postage, and accounting services.
On top of that, you’re probably going to want to set aside a portion of your revenue for ongoing education. That may come in the form of coaching, groups, courses, and books. So revenue really is something we need to consider generating if we’re going to fund what we’re trying to build online.
This right here is why many people don’t stick with their platform very long. The need they have to generate an income is real, but they struggle to know how the informational content they’re creating can actually become a monetizable commodity. And some online influencers, particularly those who operate in the non-profit or faith-based spaces, struggle with whether it’s even proper for them to earn an income from what they’re creating.
In my early days of creating online content, I really wrestled with these questions. I was in the process of creating written and recorded content for others to utilize, but I often felt like there was some sort of code I needed to crack for everything to work and for what I was doing to generate a sustainable income that would fund my desire to provide more and better content over the long-term.
Once I exhausted my own ideas, I started looking for help from others. I went on the hunt for a team of mentors who could help me figure out what I was missing.
Mentors can come from a variety of places.
I found some of my earliest mentors through books. Basically, I searched for things that had been written in the world of online entrepreneurship and content creation. At the time I began my search, books on these subjects were limited, but thankfully there have been a helpful trove of content that’s been produced in the last few years in particular.
I also found great mentors via the world of podcasting. Podcasts gave me a goldmine of ideas and they also introduced me to names I wasn’t familiar with. I would literally listen to shows with a pen and notebook on hand so I could keep track of the ideas I was generating by listening to interviews and solo shows.
Podcasts eventually led me to YouTube. On YouTube, I found additional long-form content that was being created by other entrepreneurs. I didn’t utilize it as much as books and podcasts, but I definitely found it helpful. I definitely utilize YouTube much more now than I did in my early days of content creation.
Online content led me to online groups. It’s one thing to be able to consume content, but it’s another thing altogether to be able to interact with mentors and like-minded groups of entrepreneurs. Over the years, I joined several groups and derived benefit from each one of them. This created a desire within me to engage with additional mentors in a face-to-face kind of way.
Coaching was my next obvious step. This, by the way, tends to be an option that can be a little pricey, but it often leads to quick results and the exposure of blind spots. It’s a real blessing to be able to borrow a mentor’s wisdom and to ask him or her to speak directly into your struggles.
I have also found some of my mentors through attending conferences. This can be a great way to meet groups of people all at once. It can also be a great context to work on new ideas because it interrupts your routine and takes you away from some of your daily responsibilities (which can sometimes be distracting).
For a long time, my wife would hear me use this phrase, “I think I’m close to cracking the code, but I’m not there yet.” I was speaking about the “code” to developing a sustainable and profitable online platform. Thankfully, the day came when I finally cracked the code and I want to let you in on one of the biggest secrets I learned when I assembled my team of mentors.
Many of my mentors shared valuable information, but they didn’t tell me everything I needed to know. I don’t think this was malicious on their part, but when I noticed this pattern, I realized that cracking the code wasn’t going to come from listening to their words alone. I needed to do something else. I needed to take a close look at what they were actually doing.
Here’s what I observed my mentors doing, even though they didn’t always articulate this as clearly as I would have appreciated.
1. They figured out what people wanted to learn from them.
2. They started serving people for free until they got good at what they were doing.
3. They started producing free content and making themselves visible on other platforms.
4. They started creating their own products and services for people to purchase.
5. They established their authority in their niche and made themselves easy to find.
6. They didn’t rely on a single source of monetization, but developed several.
7. They raised their prices to a sustainable level over time.
It took me a while to learn this process, and obviously each one of the concepts I just mentioned could be developed further, but here in Platform Launchers I’m trying to be a mentor to many to show you the code isn’t as hard to crack as I once thought it was. It took me longer to do what I’m doing than I hope it takes you.
Recently, a podcast listener reserved a coaching hour with me. At the end of our conversation, she thanked me for making integrity a staple of how Platform Launchers is being run. She told me that in the past, she paid for help from another mentoring source only to be told that she needed to start her mentoring process over and head down a different track. This was after investing several thousands of dollars in their products and services.
I mention that as a caution when you’re looking to assemble your team of mentors because I’ve had things like that happen as well. I had one mentor give me incomplete information and another attempt to throttle my business from gaining momentum. Most of your mentors will be solid and honest, but if you ever discover that a mentor’s character doesn’t match their public persona, move away from them quickly. Not all mentors are cut from the same cloth.
So where are you looking for mentors? Does your search for help look similar to mine? How close are you to “cracking the code” in your own business?
© John Stange, 2023
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