sunset-hawaii

Someone once said, “If you’re coasting, you’re going downhill.”  I couldn’t agree more because it takes hard work to get things done.

If everybody knew nothing was impossible, there would be a lot more people working arduously towards their goals.  I’d like to think that the Yakezie Network has proved positive collaboration leads to incredible realities.

In 2011, we welcomed the Beta and Gamma class to the Yakezie family.  We also gave away over a couple thousand dollars to six very deserving Yakezie Writing Contest winners to help with their educational efforts.  Finally, we crushed our collective goal of generating more than $100,000 a month in incremental income.  Who would have known it’d be so straightforward?

If we don’t capture our past and reflect, we run the risk of running through the same motions over and over again.  Let us learn and move forward.

LEARNING POINTS

* Giving is hard.  When we launched the Yakezie Writing Contest (Scholarship), I was full of excitement and vigor.  I wanted to run a Yakezie Writing Contest every single month to help three deserving writers win over $1,000 to be used for school.  We quickly ran into a snafu with Paypal who wanted us to register as a non-profit, or else the Yakezie account would be frozen.  The account was frozen for a month, and I had to write an e-mail and a letter to them saying we are not a non-profit organization, and that our Yakezie Writing Contest is just one of our ways of helping others.  That was a stressful, time-consuming, and painful process which ultimately got resolved.

In one Yakezie Writing Contest round, we had over 1,300 submissions which bogged down our site and led me to create a Yakezie Writing Contest Committee to go through all 1,300+ essays (1 million words) to choose 60 finalists.  We had to develop/program an entirely new system for all of us to efficiently read them at once and choose the best.  This process took countless hours to build.

When we finally built the screening system to handle all these submissions, FastWeb changed the contest submission guidelines on us because we found a sponsor for the contest.  Our contact there also disappeared, and they didn’t get back to us in time for our next contest deadline.  Our original webmaster who built the screening system needed to start focusing on the development of Google+ and left, leaving me without a wingman to continue.  Special thanks to Suba from Wealth Informatics for helping take Chris’ place.  Consider hiring her for all your blogging technical needs.

Giving should be easy, but I’ve learned that if you want to do it a certain way, and give via a meritocracy, it’s incredibly difficult.  No wonder why so many folks use a random selection process to give money away.

Going forward, the Yakezie Network is going to target 2Q and 4Q as the two times for the Yakezie Writing Contest.  I’d like to get several Members to join me again on this charitable effort.

* Life gets in the way, but don’t let it.  If you can speak forever, you can blog forever.  However, for whatever reason, something happens and people quit.  Half the battle of creating a good online property is just being consistent.  Sure, there will be times when you don’t have time.  That’s why you write ahead and have a backlog of posts to draw from.

There’s always something going on in the world.  Write about that.  There’s always a personal finance situation going on with you.  Write about that.  Just keep going.  You don’t always feel like you have to write amazing content.  In fact, most of our content will probably be mediocre at best.  But our mediocrity can be considered golden in other circles.  Don’t think otherwise.  Just continue.

I don’t have time for this” is just an excuse not to write or connect.  Just like traffic is an excuse for being late, or the convenience of processed cheap food is an excuse for being out of shape.  We make too many darn excuses for things we want or want to become.

* People want to help, you just have to ask sometimes.  I have no doubt if any of us ask any other Yakezie Member to help out on a project, we would oblige.  I personally have a very difficult time asking for help because I don’t want to bother anyone.  The way to ameliorate the guilt of asking is to ask in a polite way to the right person.

No, you can’t just go to anybody out of the blue and say, “Please write a review of my product and promote my work.”  But, you can certainly ask someone who you know, and who has seen you be an integral part of the community.  Always end your request with thanks, and ask what you can do for them.

I need help with the Yakezie Writing Contest.  We need someone to set up and manage the system, a team to market the effort and connect with representatives in the field of giving and eduction.  We need a team to go through the submissions, manage the publications of the finalists, fund-raise, find a sponsor and connect!

* You can’t help everyone, even if you want to.  As one of the many leaders of the Yakezie Network, I’m constantly asked how to do this, and what do I think of that.  I’m honored folks have come to me for advice and I do want to help.  What I can promise you is that I’ll be honest.  Hence, prepare for good and bad feedback.  I also promise that what you reveal to me will be kept private.

Sometimes, the number of requests becomes overwhelming, so I encourage those with basic questions about the Yakezie Network to ask anybody in the entire community to help you out.  The directions are all there, you just need to spend time reading them thoroughly.  In fact, I think all the answers to your questions are in the Yakezie Forums.  Just remember to ask the right way.

* You can’t make people do what they don’t want to do.  The only thing I can do is build a framework and set some guidelines for the Yakezie Network.  I can’t make anybody retweet your post, write a comment, contribute a Yakezie Member article every three months, donate to the Yakezie Writing Contest, participate in a leadership roll, and financially support the Network.  I can only suggest.

Everybody is free to choose their own way, given we all have different demands on our time and different philosophies.  If you start trying to make hard fast rules, it just boggles down the system.  The one underlying motto which I hope bleeds into our culture and everything we do is to “selflessly help others.”  Everything else should take care of itself.

* Making money and a living online is straightforward, despite Sandy’s post that you probably can’t.  If you read the comments carefully, it seems like plenty of people make a living on-line, surpassing $5,000/month.   All it takes is: consistency, dedication, time, passion, and being market savvy.  If you write interesting and relevant content 2-4 times a week for 5 years straight and are a part of the Yakezie Network, you will be able to live off your online endeavors.

Do you think you will actually fail if you spend 20-40 hours a week on your site producing content, building relationships, and being a good community Member for 60 months straight?  I highly doubt it.  You might fail in your discipline of working 20-40 hours a week online, but that’s a different matter altogether.  Not putting in the time simply means you don’t want it bad enough and cherish other things more.  That’s fine.  Just don’t question why you can’t make a living online when the time comes.

Being a part of the Network is like having a “Power Up” option.  You might never push the button, but know that if you do, you will see a tremendous boost.  It’s those who have figured out how to harness the power of the Network and utilize the brand who have been most rewarded.  Just be careful not to be distasteful, and never forget who brought you to the dance.

HANG ON FOR THE RIDE

There will be ups and downs no doubt.  You will feel like quitting as I’ve felt like quitting many times before.  Don’t.  More often than not you will regret pulling the chord too soon.  Can you imagine if you sold your blog for $10,000 in year one but realize you could have had so much more fun, and made $50,000 in profits at the end of year two?

You might start gaining traction with your own site and grow a big ego.  Don’t.  Instead, remember back to the days when you just started and be appreciative.  Pretend you have few subscribers and make hardly anything.  Ask those who are much smaller than you for their advice to keep yourself humble.  Continue helping others.

Some people dread the passage of time because we’ll grow gray hairs, find a few more unwanted pounds and get old.  In the online community, time is an elixir.  The more time we exist, the healthier our endeavors become.  Cherish every single hour you spend.  You’ll realize one day all of it was for everything.

Happy New Year Everyone!  Come check out my predictions for 2012 if you have time.  I talk about the economy, the markets, and some important thoughts on the Yakezie Network.

Sam

Photo: Sunset in Honolulu, 2011. Sam.