How Many Hats You Wear?

How Many Hats You Wear?

GOYANG, SOUTH KOREA - NOVEMBER 17: A South Kor...
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Ground Zero

I started out selling on Ebay. I didn’t know much more than HTML. I knew nothing about SEO. And I knew that some people had made money with affiliate programs. It was sort of like being a freelance salesman.

A Year Later

I started playing around with PHP. I had bought my first domain. And I was learning SEO. I had yet to make more than a few hundred bucks in a month from affiliate programs but it was a start.

After Another Year

My day job was my second main source of income. But my sites looked like crap. Time to pick up some design books and at least understand what made a page look good.

Down the Road a Bit

Blogging was something I could not ignore. Social media marketing was something I laughed at for a bit, compared to SEO. But I had learned my lesson about laughing at things before I gave them the attention they deserved.

Now

As you see, the hats I wear didn’t diminish. They grew. Do you need to eventually hit all of them? Not if you can hire out. But it also doesn’t hurt to speak the language.

The time I have to wear any one of these hats is much less than it has been before. But I still manage to at least keep an eye on each of these duties. And a few ground rules helped out along the way:

  • You can only ignore a new technology so long. If your kid is talking about Twitter and you don't have an account, you are behind.
  • Be truthful with your abilities, but notice wear you lose yourself. Pick the duties you will hire out for eventually because you know you aren't the greatest (i.e design for me). But if you do enjoy it, remember that (i.e design for me). You may need something to keep you in the game when you seem to be beating your head against the wall.
  • Force yourself out of your hole regularly. Some of these hats may get stuck to your head for a while. There are times when that is necessary to finish a job up. And there are times when the job has to wait. Tunnel vision is not an option.
  • Never assume that because you read something once, you know it. Read it until you do it. And reread it again at regular intervals to be sure you are still doing it. I reread the same books and posts on SEO, Blogging and the like at regular intervals just to make sure I am sticking with it.
  • Batch what you can. You will find that all of these jobs require a different part of you. And switching gears takes time. So spend enough time with one hat on to accomplish something. I can for the most part forget about writing for hours after I deal with code. They just don't play well together in my head.
  • Anything you learn can give you an edge. Just taking things one step further than everyone in your niche can work wonders.
  • Don't stick to your niche when it comes to tools, techniques or marketing. Look around. I have learned that niches are kind of incestuous. Pull from everywhere.
  • Learn the power of software. It will save you time. Automate what  you can. Browse software, Wordpress plugins and Firefox addons regularly for new tools.

That’s what I have. What are your tips for wearing multiple hats?

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Stephan Miller

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Kansas City Software Engineer and Author

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