Finding Your Tribe: Sage Advice from Blogging Chieftain Seth Godin
Do you feel pressured to create a tribe?
By “tribe” I mean a group of people who read your blog, become fans of what you produce, and remain loyal followers, loving and respecting you along the way.
In other words, a large internet following.
I know I did (big time) when I first started blogging for income back in 2012.
Because that’s what all the chieftains were telling me to do.
If you want to earn income with your blogging, you should feel a burn to build a tribe.
Just don’t focus on it.
Let me explain…
Once I started roaming the internet plains in search of knowledge, I soon noticed there were many programs on “how to build a tribe”.
I visited the campsites of every online medicine man (influencer) in my niche that I could find, and they all beat the same drum…
Become a Tribal Leader! (For Only $972)
Guru. Rockstar. Ninja. Most use these monikers instead of “Chieftain.” Even today.
Side note: Anyone who calls themselves a Ninja, Rockstar, Sherpa or Guru is probably not actually one.
Doesn’t matter what they go by. Most still have this mentality…
“Do XYZ, and you will get to join me at the campfire and smoke the peace pipe, because I’m a guru and I said to do it.”
They tell us what to do and we do it, without questioning it.
Who wouldn’t love throngs of folks doing what you say without question?
Well, me. I don’t want that.
Now If we’re honest, becoming an online guru that people respect and want to emulate is a seductive thing to chase. I once chased it myself.
Because nobody want’s only 20 people on their email list. They would trade that for 20,000 in a heartbeat.
Unless you don’t care who reads what you write. In that case, you live in a blessed era, because now you can easily do that for less than $45 bucks a year.
But most of us want the outward signs of success along with inner satisfaction. Metaphorically speaking, we want to wear a “headdress” like other internet chieftains wear.
You see them proudly show off their tribal garb and, truth be told, we would too if we owned a dazzling Sagamore display filled with these colorful feathers:
•Selfies in Exotic Locations
•Photos of their Latest Toys
•Social Media Followers in the hundreds of thousands
•NY Times Bestselling Books
•Various “Awards” (you have never heard of before)
•How much money they made last month (of course it’s a HUGE figure)
Now who wouldn’t want to have feathers like these in their cap?
Let’s be real, many folks blog because they crave a huge following that leads to material wealth and fame, which is a normal human desire.To reach blogging success, the key is to channel our vain desires properly.
So if you yearn to become some variation of an internet sachem, that’s normal and a noble goal, because most of you reading this want to ultimately be a source of (good) change in this world, and your blog niche is YOUR vehicle to do that.
So how do you get there? That’s my point to this post: let’s pause and consider how to best go about “building a tribe.” If you want to lead a tribe, what’s the real way to get there?This is a question I think every new blogger with big dreams and high ambitions should examine.
And to find some answers, let’s now consider something Seth Godin said. His quote boils down to the one simple truth that could change your life.
Wise Words From a Reluctant Mega Rockstar Ninja Guru
If you don’t know who Seth Godin is, he happens to be one of the biggest online marketing GURUS on the planet.
What makes him different is the fact that he doesn’t want to be known as a guru, and he likes it when people he meets don’t know who he is. I’ve heard him say straight out that fame does not do anything to make his life better.
Yet he is famous (to many. Fame is relative, for sure.)…famous enough to have over a millions subscribers to his blog. Several NY Times Bestsellers. Keynote speaking at huge industry conferences.
The more I listen to Seth Godin share advice, the more enlightened I become to what works and doesn’t work in the pursuit of online success.
For example, earlier in the year, Godin was interviewed by Jeff Goins on his Portfolio Life podcast.
I want to share something Godin said about online tribal leaders and his preferred method to building an internet following…
Here’s an excerpt taken from the conversation between Goins and Godin:
Goins: “Seth, you once said to me that you’re trying very hard to not be a guru. And yet, this is the way that I hear a lot of people still refer to you as a marketing guru, and if we look at your career, at least the public part of it that I’ve watched and still continue to see, it seems that at times, you’re sort of being thrust into the limelight or on stage and I don’t think you’re afraid of that, but you’re always finding subversive ways to avoid celebrity.
For example, kind of bypassing the bookstores, your book, What To Do When It’s Your Turn, isn’t even on Amazon. Although I did see some copies that somebody was selling. You know, so you’re bypassing some of those channels and going directly to the fans and, you know, when Yahoo acquired YoYo Dine you became the VP of Marketing There, and then you left after a year…Talk about that. When do we, when we want to make things better and change and impact the culture, when do you kind of lean in to your influence and when and why do you find different ways of connect with people?”
Godin: “Well let me clarify one thing: I was never the VP of Marketing. I was VP of Direct Marketing. I don’t want to take more credit than I should.
The guru thing works like this: Guru say, “You should do this because I’m a guru.” That’s really seductive, because if people buy in to it, they’re more likely to do it. And then you get the credit and you make change happen. It’s dangerous because you’re asking people not to think for themselves. And I’m willing to sacrifice the amount of change I make and I’m willing to sacrifice the number of things I sell because I don’t keep track of how much I sell, because in exchange for never ever saying to people, “Don’t think for yourself.”
Because, I think the only scalable way that we’re going to heal the problems around us and reach our potential is if we can educate each other and trust people to think for themselves. And most of the things I see wrong in our culture is because tribes, selfish tribal leaders have insisted that their followers do something that is not in their long-term interest, and they do it for selfish reasons, and if we can get past that by undermining the top down, do what I say because I’m in charge mindset, I think we’re all going to be better off. But I would be a hypocrite if I said to people, “Do it because I said so.” So that’s why I’ve tried to resist that idea of “I’m a guru, here’s what I say.” And I’ve tried to defend my concepts and ideas with examples and stories and open up the thinking so that other people can think for themselves and if they come up with a different approach…that’s sort of the philosophy.
And in terms of being “famous”, I’m delighted that I’m not famous, almost no one I meet knows who I am, which is perfect. And, I have no hope or desire to be more famous. It doesn’t make my life better.”
Goins: “Fame seems seductive for those who want to influence and make the world better. How does influence differ from fame (I’m sort of stacking questions here but I’d like for you to unpack that briefly).”
Godin: “We live in a culture where people want to buy stuff from famous people. They want to go to a restaurant where the chef has been on television. So I guess the question is, what’s your goal when you open a restaurant. What’s your goal when you run for office or work in a government agency. And, you can certainly rationalize becoming famous as a way to achieve your goal, but I think we have plenty of history to show there are many many changes made by people in the world who are not famous.”
Goins: “Well said.”
The Secret to Finding Your Tribe is…
How? By serving those who want to connect.
But you must put yourself out there first.
That’s the core of Seth Godin’s message throughout all his talks and books.
In our pursuit of blogging success, if we focus on becoming a tribal leader, we slow down our growth. Thinking about our own status causes us to focus on trying to impress people, which is not serving them. It is annoying and off-putting. This retards progress, because your blog visitor has their own needs, and they hope your blog will provide some sort of solution.
If you aren’t serving something useful, and are instead trying to impress, your website visitors will be gone in less than 60 seconds.
Because here’s the thing, you don’t have to be famous to be a happy blogger that makes money.
There are many unknown people quietly killing it out here in the blogosphere. People who don’t get recognized at Wal-Mart. Funny but it’s true, they don’t even get recognized at their industry conferences.
They just silently crush it.
3 Closing Thoughts
1. Becoming an authoritative expert (guru) takes time and experience, and the only way to get there is to serve people.
2. Finding your tribe does not involve chasing colorful feathers blowing in the wind, so you can glue together an impressive looking headdress.
3. Better to serve others in anonymity while generating solid income than to be a chief with no (loyal) tribe.
Agree? Let me know in the comments below what you think.
Photo Credit: Seth Signing by Peter Bromberg CC BY-SA 2.0