It’s the cornerstone of any successful Internet business. We all need information to learn what techniques are currently working. Without it; you’ll get left behind.
Odds are you’re in the information business. It doesn’t matter if you’re a blogger, affiliate marketer, product owner, or complete newbie; your Internet business is based on information. The question is how to synthesize information without wasting a lot of time.
The Trap of Too-Much Information
Like I said in the article about fighting overwhelm it’s easy to get caught in the information overload trap. We all want to succeed. And sometimes it seems like the best way to do it is to read everything that pertains to Internet marketing.
Too much information can be a bad thing. It’s one of those creative excuses we all make for why we can’t more forward with a project. Often it’s easier to say you’re learning about a technique than it is to try it and make mistakes. If you let it… information overload will cause paralysis by analysis.
So what’s my point?
It’s simple. While information is important, it’s also an area where people waste a lot of time. Today I’d like to talk about my method for synthesizing information and taking action.
What I’m about to discuss is important because it teaches the exact steps to become a mini-expert in any topic. After this post you’ll be able to learn ANY new concept and immediately apply it to your Internet business.
Step 1: Know What You Want to Learn
During a recent minimalist kick, I’ve tossed out a lot of stuff. One of things I found (and then discarded) was a bunch of binders full of notes about Internet marketing. What’s interesting is I didn’t do a damn thing with these notes. I sure wrote a lot. However I didn’t take action on a single thing I learned.
We’ve all been there. You want to learn everything about the Internet lifestyle. So it’s easy to load up a feed reader with hundreds of different blogs. In a way, this makes you feel like you’re getting stuff done with your business. Unfortunately the only result this produces is you’ll learn a little bit about a lot of things.
The solution is FOCUS. At the risk of sounding like Yoda: If you want to learn about something; identify what you must learn.
Don’t say you’d like to learn about Internet marketing. That’s not actionable. Instead, identify those key areas that can bring your business to the next level. Or if you don’t have a website; then figure out the ONE thing that can help you get started.
Here’s how to do this:
Get out a piece of paper and write down the techniques that will improve your business. Be specific with what you’d like to learn. That means “how to get more blog traffic,” is a better option than writing down “blogging.”
For example; here is a list of the concepts I feel can help my Internet business:
- How to increase YouTube video views
- How to creating an email sequence that converts
- How to get results with social media
- How to network without wasting a lot of time
- How to write a persuasive sales page
Right now these are the key areas I’d like to improve in the next six months. Obviously this is an ever-changing list. The point here is I’ve identified the key concepts that can take my business to the next level.
What if you can’t think of anything? My advice is to have a brainstorming session where you write down every obstacle you’ve encountered. Next, make a list of the techniques that *might* help overcome them. Finally, pick the best choices.
Step 2: Use the Right Tools to Collect Information
It’s important to create systems for collecting information. Part of this system is to use tools that save time and become part of an Internet ritual.
Your primary tool will be a feed reader. I suggest News Gator because it’s really easy to install and use. With this tool you collect blogs into a single interface. Then you’re automatically notified whenever there is a new post.
You’ll want to organize this feed reader.
First you should create a few categories that are based on why you’ve added these sites. Some will be for networking purposes. Others provide great Internet marketing training. And a few will be related to your niche. Separating them into categories makes it a lot easier to scan and identify what’s important to look at….Right NOW.
In addition you should organize the bookmarks. These should directly tie-in to the key areas you identified in the first step.
Bookmarking is an important skill to learn as an Internet marketer. It’s easy to get overwhelmed by information. So the solution is to sort each piece of information into an area that can be found in a few seconds.
The key here is organization. Create categories based on what you’d like to learn. Then only bookmark the articles with actionable items.
Step 3: Tightly Focus on One Area at a Time
As we’ve learned; information is nothing without action. Sure; we all love that warm, fuzzy feeling after reading an inspirational article. The trick is to take what you’ve learned and immediately apply it.
The one thing that helps is to focus on one area at a time. Don’t try to learn everything all at once. Instead identify that next skill/technique you’d like to develop and attack it!
For instance, let’s say you’d like to learn how to improve your results with YouTube. The best use of your time is to read articles (and watch videos) about increasing views/conversions on this site.
Focusing on a single topic is the quickest path to instant authority. You’re not learning about a bunch of unrelated subjects. Instead you’ll learn about a technique and then immediately apply it.
Step 4: Compile Actionable Information
This is where the rubber meets the road. Now you’ll compile all the information related to this topic.
Start with your feed reader. Go through the articles you’ve bookmarked in this category. And if you don’t have any, then do a search on each of the blogs you’ve targeted.
Next, you’ll check out different sites on the Internet:
- Run a search on Google using the major keywords
- Check out the PPC ads on the right
- Join email lists relating to this topic
- Watch content-filled YouTube videos
- Listen to podcasts that discuss this topic
The reason you’ll do all this is to get a broad perspective on what other marketers are doing. Don’t just listen to one person’s opinion. Instead, research and discover a variety of techniques you can try!
Third, read a few books/magazines on this topic. There might not be a lot written about it. But an ‘authority book’ on this subject can dramatically increase your learning curve.
Finally you should consider buying an information product on this subject. In my opinion, this is a great way to quickly learn the ins-and-outs of particular Internet marketing technique. Obviously do your research before buying anything.
Step 5: Synthesize the Notes into a Single Document
In the last step you’ve compiled a lot of notes from a variety of sources. Now it’s time to trim the fat! You’re going to take these notes and turn it into a single document.
This step is important because you’ll be eliminating a lot of redundant information. Plus you’ll get rid of the stuff that’s not actionable. We’re not kids anymore. And you’re not cramming for a big Internet marketing exam. So you don’t need to know things like the “history of video marketing” or “6 reasons why should use video.”
Only include information that can be immediately applied to your Internet business. For example, here are a few things I’d include:
- Reference Markers– Write down page numbers, hyperlinks, and audio/video tracks relating to an important concept.
- System Diagrams– Draw out the processes/examples from different marketers
- Step-by-Step Blueprints– Same thing. Write down the steps a marketer uses.
- Sticking Points– Annotate any questions you have about a process. Then go ask one of the experts you found in step 4.
- Action Items– Figure out a game plan of how you’ll implement the concepts you’ve just learned.
You might think synthesizing information is busy work. It’s not. Actually it’s a great technique for internalizing what you’ve learned. Re-writing this information move you one step closer to unconscious competence.
Step 6: Turn the Information into an Action Plan
I didn’t bring a laptop on my recent trip to Belize. Instead I brought something that’s very important to the growth of my Internet business – 30 pages of synthesized notes on how to get backlinks to a website.
When I wasn’t doing fun things, I was busy turning these notes into an action plan. By the time I boarded the plane back home, I had a two-page action plan.
At this point you’ll still have a lot of information. With this step you’re going to trim the fat one more time. Basically you’ll take everything and create a plan that will be immediately implemented. My recommendation is to turn all this information into two pieces of paper:
1) Reference: Same thing as step 5. Annotate any supporting documents you might need in the future. Be sure to include any relevant diagrams and system processes.
2) Action Plan: Put your notes into a series of actionable items. This will now become part of your project list
Why is this step important? Because it creates a plan that’s easy to follow. It’s been my experience that a simple process is often the most effective. You won’t get much done with pages and pages of notes. Instead it’s better to have a step-by-step blueprint that you can methodically work through.
Step 7: Take Immediate Action
Plans are nothing without action. In this step you’ll schedule time blocks were you’ll work on this project. It be could a few hours each day or during a long marathon stretch of work. The important thing is to take action on what you’ve just learned.
The trick is to make sure every item on this list is actionable. If you need to, break a down a step even further into single task. This is a great way to tackle a project that seem insurmountable at first.
Step 8: Rinse and Repeat
At a certain point, a new technique will become part of your daily ritual. That means you’ve gone from learning to doing. When you’ve mastered one concept you’ll move on to the next. All you have to do is repeat the seven steps I outlined in this post. Rinse and repeat till you’ve become an Internet marketing God. 🙂
Final Thoughts on Information Overload
Information overload is something that plagues all Internet marketers. And it’s only going to get worse! With new blogs and “Internet experts” popping up every day, it’s becoming increasingly important to have a system for turning information into action.
Don’t feel like you need to learn all at once. Instead, focus on that next technique that will help your business. Then ATTACK it with all you’ve got!
Like a lot of people, I started my online business with zero knowledge. Seriously…the only thing I used a computer for was video games and email. Beyond that, I was clueless.
What brought me to this point was an ability to synthesize information. I didn’t just read about a concept. I immediately implemented it!
The process I used to turn information into action is the same plan I’ve provided in this post. I know it works because it’s helped me become a mini-authority in a lot marketing related subjects.
I suggest a simple plan for information overload. Just concentrate one technique at a time. Keep working at till you’ve mastered it. Then move on to the next. Rinse and repeat till you’re officially an expert.
Good luck!Take Action. Get Results.