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Why Those Borrowed Big Gun Blogging Tips Aren’t Working For You

“As to methods, there may be a million and then some, but principles are few. The man who grasps principles can successfully select his own methods.”  – Ralph Waldo Emerson

As content creators, we get mired down in the details way too often. I’m not saying that detail is a bad thing. It’s not. In fact, I’m a firm believer that paying attention to the little things is one of the keys to success in any endeavor.

But out of sheer desire it’s very easy to turn a method into minutia: Small, insignificant details that don’t really benefit you or push you forward.

It’s much more valuable to learn the principles of creating a something successful online. Then, as Ralph Waldo Emerson suggests, select or create your own methods.

A principle is a fundamental or general truth. And most of the online authorities out there are pretty generous about sharing blogging tips and the principles of how they do what they do so successfully.

Why then do we as up-and-coming bloggers get tangled up on trying to replicate other people’s blogging tips and the minutia that comes along with it? What’s the real problem?

Time To Check The Mirror

Consider the fact that your lack of progress may be because you’re not focusing on the principles that will propel you forward. Maybe the problem is that you’re seeking out a tactic, short cut, or magic pill.

I’m not scolding anyone here. I do the same thing at times. It’s human nature. On the surface, “right now” always sounds more attractive than “in six months”, doesn’t it?

But the truth is that more often than not good things – significant things – need time to develop and grow.

There are two ways to look at this: In Danny’s famous post about why guru strategies don’t work, he rightly makes the point that you have to execute the right strategies that are appropriate to where you are in your development – not something that worked for Guy Kawasaki when he hit the 100,000 subscriber mark. It’s apples and oranges. It doesn’t translate.

But even when you are executing the right strategies at the appropriate time for you – it’s tempting to look for the boiler plate solution – to copy someone else’s methods. That’s a mistake. What you really need to be thinking about are principles more than methods.

What Your Nephew and The NFL Have In Common

Principles are basic fundamentals – and fundamentals are vitally important. That’s why football teams full of 7 year olds and NFL teams full of professional athletes both do tackling drills in practice every day. They’re that important.

Even though so many of our online heroes share the principles of their success with us freely, many new or emerging bloggers… well, frankly – screw up the intended message by focusing on their methods instead.

Beware the “How” and “What”

Tactics often answer the question “what?” or “how?” – while principles answer the much more important question, “why?”

Let’s face it. If you don’t fully understand the “why” of the principle, you can’t very well expect to effectively pull off the “what” and “how” of the tactic.

Let’s take a look at three examples of what I mean.

Derek Halpern – Social Triggers


A lot of people use Derek’s home page as a good example of what a landing page should be. What is it that we, as students of online marketing, should be learning from this home page?

  • That your logo should be in all lowercase letters?
  • That you need a human head on your home page to convert more visitors?
  • That purple is the secret link color that drives more people to subscribe?

No, no, and no.

And yet I’ve seen several sites knock off those exact things. What are the odds that copying the way Derek constructed his home page will produce the same results he has enjoyed? Pretty slim. If you’re copying those methods without understanding why you’re doing it, you’re focusing on the wrong things.

Now let’s discuss why I think this is one of the best landing pages around. If we look at the principles behind Derek’s landing page, we can actually learn quite a lot about why it works so well for him.

  • Simplicity works.
  • White space is friendly and easy on the eyes.
  • A short, simple message is more easily understood than a long, complex one.
  • A testimonial from a respected figure above the fold provides powerful social proof.
  • Having two ways for someone to subscribe above the fold is a good idea.
  • A compelling graphic that points (in this case, the nose) toward the action you want the visitor to take calls attention to that action.

Put those principles into play and you’re on to something.

Let’s look at another…

Danny Iny – Mirasee


It’s not news to any of us that Danny’s widely known for being a guest posting machine – especially in his first year of blogging. As you probably know, his guest posting tear of over 80 guest posts during that first year earned him the nickname, “The Freddy Krueger of Blogging.”

Some time ago, Danny released a course called Write Like Freddy that very clearly teaches the guest posting principles that worked for him. He’s even shared a good number of those principles for free outside the course. And yet, you don’t have to look very hard to see people trying to execute the “what” without understanding the “why” behind it.

So as casual observers of Danny, what lessons are we to take from his success?

  • That once you write 80 guest posts, you’re “in?”
  • That the point of a guest posting campaign is to be seen in as many places as possible as quickly as possible – on any blog?
  • That the quantity of guest posts you write is at least as important as the quality?

Again… a swing and a miss on all accounts.

The truth about how Danny executes and teaches guest posting is based more on the following principles, among others…

  • Writing many guest posts is a good thing, but fewer posts pitched to strategically targeted blogs is much more useful than throwing pitches out there willy-nilly to anyone who will accept them.
  • The number of guest posts you write isn’t as important as the quality of what you write.
  • You need to constantly work hard to become a better writer or your blogging career will be a short one.

Those are some of the real attitudes behind Danny’s blogging success and stellar guest posting reputation. Simple but valid principles that we can all put into play.

And lastly…

Corbett Barr – ThinkTraffic


This is another classic blog post that makes a great point, but at the same time is often taken out of context by the very people Corbett intended to help when he wrote it.

You’ve seen people write about epic content all over the blogosphere ever since Corbett coined this phrase. But have you noticed that often the message has changed?

Some of the misconceptions include…

  • Epic means it has to be long.
  • Epic means it has to be jam-packed with statistics, graphs and other data.
  • Epic means that it needs to be edgy and peppered with curse words.

Not so. In fact, to make my point I’m going to steal some lines straight from Corbett’s famous post.

  • Epic makes people think, inspires, changes lives, creates value and blows them away with usefulness.
  • Epic doesn’t mean long (a sub head from the post).
  • Epic comes from experience.

That’s it in a nutshell. Those are the principles of Corbett’s epic shit.

So why does this post get taken out of context? It’s not because it’s poorly written or confusing. It’s pretty straight forward and easy to read if you ask me.

Again – the problem is with the student, not the teacher.

Stop Looking For Magic Methods and Silver Bullet Tactics

Focusing on the one size fits all blogging tips and methods has to do with a tendency to seek out quick and easy answers.

Stop wasting your time and effort looking for the magic method or tactic that is going to change everything today. It doesn’t exist.

Derek’s landing page works because it is based on solid marketing principles – not because there’s a human head on his home page or because his logo is in lowercase letters.

Danny is a prolific guest poster because he used intelligent business principles to plan his guest posting campaigns and worked insanely hard at becoming a better writer – not because he just shot proposals all over the blogosphere.

Corbett Barr’s epic shit works because it’s based on the principles of writing great content and providing tons of value – not because it’s excessively long. It’s barely over 1,500 if you’ve ever wondered.

Always Start With “Why”

So by now, you’re probably assessing whether or not you’re spending your time implementing useful principles… or whether you’re spending it trying to duplicate pieces of someone else’s methods and obsessing over minutia.

If you find yourself executing blogging tips and details without really knowing the why behind it, you might be headed for trouble.

But, as Ralph Waldo Emerson points out – once you understand the principle (the why) your chances of executing methods and tactics successfully increase substantially.

Time to share your experiences.

How do you use the tactics, methods and principles you learn online? Have any tips to share? Let’s discuss it in the comments.

About Gary Korisko

Gary Korisko writes about The Art of Genuine Influence on his blog Reboot Authentic. Download his free eBook, How to Alienate All The Right People - a real world guide to breaking away from the herd and doing something special.


    1. GaryKorisko ( User Karma: 0 ) says:

      You’re very welcome, Lacey. I’m glad you enjoyed it… and I enjoyed your pun, too 🙂

  1. Razwana says:

    Gary – I love this!

    The point of finding the ‘magic pill’ is actually finding your OWN. Pick a principle and make it work for you.

    Personally, Danny’s method of writing 80 GP wouldn’t work for me as I simply wouldn’t enjoy it. And that’s my pill – doing the things I enjoy. Doesn’t mean it’s rosy all the time, but it means there is a little more fun in what I do.

    The three examples you used were spot on. Rock solid. Woo !

    1. Gary Korisko ( User Karma: 0 ) says:

      Razwana –

      Sorry it took me a while to reply. Thanks so much for the “woo!” And you hit on something important there: doing the things you enjoy. Great addition to the conversation!

  2. Kristen Hicks ( User Karma: 0 ) says:

    Great distinction!

    There’s something to be said for using templates and models provided by people who have seen them work, but on their own they don’t give you everything you need.

    Even when you recognize the importance of principles vs tactics, it’s easy not to consciously focus on the difference when putting recommendations into practice. In part, because it’s a distinction that doesn’t always stay top of mind (thanks for the reminder!) and in part, because the principles take time to internalize.

    Tactics are easy, changing your whole view of how to best approach a problem is harder.

    1. Gary Korisko ( User Karma: 0 ) says:

      Hi Kristen!

      You’re right on point. Another part I think a lot of people find hard to swallow is that even after you learn the principles, you’re not “there” yet. In fact you’re just getting started at that point. Using good principles effectively takes time and fortitude. And for impatient people like… oh, let’s say… *me* – that can be tough at times 🙂

      Thanks for jumping in!

  3. Melissa says:

    Hi Gary. Great post! I loved how you used actual big-time blogger websites as examples.

    I, like many, want everything to happen now. But what I’ve learned so far from those that I respect is it really comes down to hard work and building relationships — old school tactics using tools of today. There are not shortcuts to building relationship — with other bloggers, with potential clients, or blog readers.

    Instead of trying to copy the details from observing how A-list bloggers attack their work, I have really learned so much more from them by identifying the knowledge I think I need with the “expert” that models the kind of blogger I want to be. These people are churning out extremely good content, lots of it free. But when you find someone you like, and your wallet allows, BUY their programs. Some are expensive, but many are a bargain when comparing the cost of the content with the time it may take you to learn the material on your own. Of course, check reviews of those that have purchased before you and decide for yourself if the price tag is worth it.

    Thanks for the post!


    1. Gary Korisko ( User Karma: 0 ) says:

      You make a great point Melissa – There’s nothing new under the sun with regard to the fundamentals of good business relationships. Tools change and venues change, but people are people – so relationships remain *so* important.

      I’m glad you enjoyed the post & thank you for sharing your ideas.

  4. Kimberly says:

    Very sound advice, Gary, thanks for such a thorough and implementable article.

    When I first started blogging a few years ago, I did my fair share of focusing on tactics. You know, some of that stuff works, but you’ll only gain real traction from “tactics” if you’re clear on who you serve and how you can help them.

    A much more effective thing to do is to get clear on your audience and what they need and want, then put everything you do through that filter: Will this help my audience? That’s the single best thing I did for my blog/business — getting clear on my ideal audience and how I can serve their needs and help them meet their goals. It was a long-ish process, but very well worth it.

    I’ve been following Danny, Derek and Corbett for some time now, and what I love is that they really understand the whole audience-building thing, and building an audience of people who love what you do happens when you focus on principles, rather than tactics, as you point out here. : )

    1. Gary Korisko ( User Karma: 0 ) says:

      Hi Kimberly.

      I like the filter analogy. Very apt. You’re right – the filter you mention does help put things in proper perspective. You’re also right about it taking time to develop. I think a lot of “us” expect instant results and it just doesn’t usually work that way.

      Thanks for sharing your take!

  5. Laura Leigh Clarke ( User Karma: 0 ) says:

    Hey Gary – awesome post. I love how you call out the misconceptions around those three case studies. Great to read.
    I couldn’t agree more. Newbies are always looking for the “one thing” that is going to change their business. I do loads of initial consultations and it’s a challenge to get folks who are new to this game to understand that it’s not just about having their strategy mapped out – which is of course a great start.
    The real results come from implementing the strategy and understanding the nuances – which is where having a good coach or mentor comes in. As you point out, you need to have the understanding of the psychology behind why you’re writing something in that way, or why you’re using purple instead of blue on your hyperlinks – so you can apply it in a way that works for your blog/ business.
    And of course when you do understand the principles and psychology behind the what you’re doing – that’s when you can turn on the tap and make money. That’s when your campaigns and efforts really start to pay off. Everything else is just spinning the wheels.
    Sage advice as always Gary. Thanks so much for sharing 😉

    1. Gary Korisko ( User Karma: 0 ) says:


      You always impress me with your firm grip on business psychology, so coming from you that’s a huge compliment. I agree that coaching/mentorship is key. I’ve had the great fortune of having a couple great ones. Danny for instance has been invaluable to me (and many other people) in learning the “why’s.”

      Thanks for the insights!

  6. Gary Korisko ( User Karma: 0 ) says:

    Well, Bobbi –

    That’s one mouthful of an acronym, but one worth remembering for sure. And you’ve helped me “leave the rest” just recently, haven’t you? You’re someone who’s good at studying the “why” before you do.

    Thanks for the visit! 🙂

  7. Bobbi Emel says:

    Great points, Gary. I find it really important to follow the TWYWALTR approach when learning from the big guys: Take What You Want And Leave The Rest. There’s a ton we can learn from people like Derek, Danny, and Corbett – and I have! But just copying them would have definitely taken my voice and style away from me. Instead, I try to study their principles, as you say, and see what works best for me, my blog, and my readers.

  8. Ti Roberts says:

    Fantastic post, Gary; very detailed indeed.

    I stopped looking for the magic and silver bullet methods a while ago. I’ve learned that simplicity really is the best when it comes to invoking the desired action. And that quality is certainly does trump quantity.

    In regards the the simplicity principle: All of my squeeze pages are very simple and plan; some would consider them old school and outdated. However, they convert extremely well. Usually at 50%. So, yes, I totally agree that simplicity out preforms all the “bells and whistles” and flashing lights.

    Concerning Danny’s guest posting campaign, I’m definitely in agreeance with it.

    In my first five months after I relaunched my blog last year, I published 3 guest posts. These were all *unsolicited* guest posts from 3 top bloggers in my niche, Including Ana Hoffman of Traffic Generation Cafe. And they were a result of the solid business building principles, principles that tie right into Cobert Barr’s Epic Shit.

    I focused on writing insanely valuable content, content that you would expect people to pay for and I gave it all away for free on my blog. In efforts to promote my content, I did A LOT of networking and reaching out to other bloggers’ in my niche, including becoming an active participant their community by leaving a high amount of quality comments on their blog posts.

    This resulted in the those top bloggers engaging with me, noticing my content and asking me to guest post for them.

    So I can attest that these principals that you speak of do indeed work for all bloggers in any niche.

    Again, this is a really fantastic post, Gary; thanks for taking the time to write it up and share it with us.

    I’ll be sure to share it with my social circle. I’ll also comment and share it on BizSugar.

    I look forward to connecting with you more soon.


    1. Gary Korisko ( User Karma: 0 ) says:

      Thanks very much, Ti – for the nice comments and for sharing your story.

      It illustrates the point of the post very well. I look forward to hearing more from you, too!

  9. Mike Devaney says:

    Very pointed article…sometimes as a student reading constantly about marketing theory , copying successful writers verbatim feels like progress.

    Which would be missing the point!

    I’ve heard Danny say you have to become so familiar w the fundamentals of marketing first so that you know them at a deeper level. That takes time…(un?)fortunately.

    1. Gary Korisko ( User Karma: 0 ) says:

      Exactly Mike. The constant effort to learn and grow can sometimes work against us, can’t it? Sometimes it’s best to step back and take a good, hard look.

      The interesting thing is that we wind of emulating (copying) someone else who became successful because they did “their own thing.” Kind of ironic when you think about it 🙂

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