This is a guest post by Brandon Mendelson. If you want to guest post on this blog, check out the guidelines here.
“The Wrestler” is the ultimate back stage pass to the world of professional wrestling. A world of big characters and more mayhem than we can ever hope to encounter in our lives. But the world of professional wrestling also holds the greatest marketing lessons, all of which can be applied to your blog.
1. Don’t live in the past.
Randy “The Ram” Robinson’s entire existence is stuck in the 80’s. Past success is not, on its own, an indicator of future success. Do not get lazy relying on past success to benefit your blog in the future.
2. Use what you have.
“The Wrestler” was produced for under six million dollars and shot, in part, on a hand-held camera by director Darren Aronofsky. Sometimes, you don’t have resources beyond what is in front of you. Make the most out of everything you have and find free alternatives when possible.
Example: Why buy Adobe Photoshop for $700 when you can download GIMP and learn how to use it for free?
Remember: There are no longer any excuses for mediocrity. If you can’t do something well, learn to use what you have and use these tools better than anyone else.
3. Don’t spend money on your blog until you make money.
Randy does not make a lot of money, but he spends what he has on drugs and strippers. His finances are so bad, when we’re first introduced to him we find Randy locked out of his trailer due to late rent. Save your money and don’t spend any of it until you start to make some.
Starting a blog should only cost you $20 for a domain registration for two years and nothing more until you prove you are generating a profit and have a sizable audience. Only then should you make the upgrade.
Use Google Adsense until you have enough traffic and data to charge for advertising. It’s free.
Use Amazon Affiliate links gently, and only for products you would recommend to generate additional income. It is also free.
If you are not making money on your blog using these tools in a year, see #6
4. If people believe in you, they will work with you.
Bruce Springsteen, Axel Rose, and Mickey Rourke reportedly did not receive any compensation for the film. They loved the script, they understood the limitations the production had and they still contributed.
If you have a great product or blog people believe in, they will work with you. So don’t be afraid to ask everyone, in a careful fashion, to participate in your project. The worst anyone can tell you is no (or ignore you).
5. Don’t wait for a break. Make one.
The Ram works his butt off every weekend at lightly packed gymnasiums in the hope of a return to glory. By punishing himself and not playing the politics, Randy barely creates an opportunity for there to be a break. Your break won’t just happen. You must create opportunity to generate and seize the break when you see it.
Reminder: Play the politics, but play it your way. If you don’t like a product, person, or news outlet, be constructive in your criticism and not present it as an attack. Online, you can’t afford to be the one burning bridges.
6. Know your limits.
The Ram knows he is physically breaking down and continues to wrestle. If your project begins to degenerate with little measurable return over time, cut it, and start a new one.
The average success cycle for a blog is one year to generate revenue, not necessarily profit, and two years to become reputable and profitable.
7. Some products don’t go stale …
Although “The Wrestler” never touches on this trend, the past several years in professional wrestling have seen older wrestlers appear prominently on current wrestling shows.
While you cannot live in the past, value can still be found in older products. The WWE itself is a a great example of an old product that continues to operate successfully and improve with time.
The trick is to follow Mel Brook’s advice and always tweak your project. As Malcom Gladwell mentions in “The Tipping Point”, sometimes the smallest change leads to the biggest results.
8. … Other products do.
You can only go to the well so often without tweaking. An aging wrestler past his prime, who has not changed his “gimmick” (product marketing), will grow boring. “The Ram” puts on the same show that he has for twenty years. No changes.
Sometimes a product or project needs to go away for to be missed enough to demand it again (see: Hulk Hogan), other times the product / project simply belonged in the previous era and does not fit in the new one.
Just ask one of my favorite wrestlers, Bob Backlund.
9. Know your material.
Rourke is believable in his portrayal as a wrestler and the movie provides an accurate look at the behind the scenes activity of pro wrestling. If you are going to create a project in a field with established norms, literature, or other source material, learn and master the material before jumping in.
Remember: As Seth Godin pointed out after a meeting at Wal-Mart headquarters: You Can’t Out-Amazon Amazon”
10. You don’t need the best to tell the best story. No more excuses.
There’s always an excuse.Don’t make one. In The Wrestler’s case, Nicholas Cage was the studio’s pick for the role.
Cage is one of Hollywood’s most bankable actors. Darren Afronsky wanted Mickey Rourke, who has not had a hit for many years, and the studio was so wary of his casting that they reduced the budget of the film.
Although who (or what product) is better can be subjective, the point is you don’t need what others consider better to get the job done and done well.
With unlimited (and mostly) free resources available to you, there are no more excuses for a bad blog.
Brandon Mendelson is one of the most followed people on Twitter, @BJMendelson, and is the project manager for A Million High Fives. This Summer, he will set out to high five one million Twitter users and volunteer with them at their local homeless shelters. Details on A Million High Fives can be found here.