For weeks, my oldest has talked about fishtails and zippy chains, singles and starbursts. This past weekend, he finally earned enough money for a loom of his own and has been making rubber band bracelets pretty much all day.
As a marketer, I’m always intrigued how these products seemingly come out of nowhere to become the new hit product. So when I read an article from the NY Times about Cheong Choon Ng, the inventor of the Rainbow Loom, it dawned on me that his success story could apply to bloggers too.
Here’s a short excerpt:
Rainbow Loom began as Mr. Ng’s attempt to impress his two daughters, Teresa, now 15, and Michelle, now 12. One afternoon, the girls were making bracelets out of small rubber bands, and when Mr. Ng tried to join in, he found that his fingers were too big. He went to work creating a wooden board with push pins, which helped improve his dexterity but was too bulky to win his daughters’ approval.
Mr. Ng persisted, adding rows of pins. “I was putting pins on two and three and four rows, crisscrossing the rubber bands and making big bracelets,” he said. Finally, the girls were hooked, and they began to use the board to make gifts for friends and neighbors.
Isn’t that cool? As I read this article and a few others about Ng, I realized that us bloggers could really learn a lot from him…
1. Don’t Give Up Too Soon
What might seem like an overnight success rarely is. Ng started selling Rainbow Loom kits in July 2011! However, he ran into a string of problems. He only a modest amount to invest in getting the loom manufactured and major toy stores weren’t interested in carrying the product. It took time and effort to go from a time of struggling sales to currently having more than a million Rainbow Looms sold (I can only imagine what’ll happen once the holiday season hits).
He also went through 28 (yes, TWENTY-EIGHT) versions of the loom to get it how he wanted it. How’s that for persistence?
When it comes to blogging, you also can’t give up too soon on your blog nor your ideas. Your blog will morph and change as you continue blogging, sometimes in just small ways and sometimes in big, gigantic, humongous ways (like starting a completely new blog). You might try new things that fall flat (like a new blog series or an e-book), but don’t shut down the computer just yet. Use those mistakes as lessons and learn from them.
2. Apply Your Work Experience (Even the Non-Obvious Stuff)
Ng was a Nissan engineer when he invented the Rainbow Loom in his spare time. Yet he applied some of his work experience to help with making the loom.
But not just in the ways you’d expect. Softer skills he learned on the job came in handy too, such as the idea of the “lessons learned system,” where you do a step-by-step critical analysis. You “trace the problem all the way back by asking why did the problem happen, and why did the cause of that problem happen and so on and so on until you find the root cause. And then figure out how to fix it so that it doesn’t happen again.” That system helps take him first prototype to the loom you see in stores.
What skills from previous jobs can you apply to your blogging? The skill might be something obvious, like writing content that uses your professional background (like an art teacher blogging about art). Or it might be less obvious, like a method you learned or a development training you took (such as a course like 7 Habits of Highly Effective People). For example, in Content Brew, I teach bloggers how to mind map to generate ideas. Many bloggers commented that they had done mind mapping at their jobs but never thought to apply it to blogging!
3. Don’t Make People Think Too Hard
Earlier I mentioned how the Rainbow Loom got off to a slow start. A big part of the reason was that people didn’t know how to use the thing! As Ng tells Fast Company, potential buyers were confused by the loom and didn’t have time for explanations from him or demonstrations by his daughters. So what did he do? His daughters started posting educational videos online to show all the different bands you could make with the loom.
Don’t make people think too hard to figure out what you blog about. You really only have a few seconds to make a first impression when a new visitors lands on your site. So make it über clear what you blog about by leaving hints around your blog: an About blurb in your sidebar, main topics in your navigation menu, maybe even a descriptive tagline. In addition, make it really, really easy for people to find your content: a list or drop-down of categories, search box, helpful navigation menu, list of popular posts and so on.
Which one of these really hits home for you?