Want to hear something disturbing?
It’s the cry of anguish that goes out every time Pinterest changes its algorithm, and it sounds like this:
It reminds you of Nancy Kerrigan after she got taken out at the knees by one of Tonya Harding’s thugs before the 1994 Olympics…unless it doesn’t remind you of that, in which case SHUT UP because you’re younger than me.
But isn’t that what seems to be the response to ANYthing that changes in the blogging world? Something happens that smashes the Blogging Anthill, and all the little bloggers pour out of the mound, scurrying around trying to figure out WHAT JUST HAPPENED? And YOU TOO?? And WHHHHYYYYYY?
And then they start running to every “secret Facebook group” and saying how AWFUL it is, and what GREEDY PEOPLE those social media bastards are, and how is anyone supposed to succeed?
And then, based on a little “insider information,” they discover that while you THOUGHT you had to create the Perfect Pin with 800×1100 aspect ratio and an informative pin description and you had to post nine times a day for 17 days straight, NOW you actually have to create videos of yourself live on Facebook and hook them up to Pinterest through a Secret Back Door Plugin while holding up one hand and solemnly swearing to NEVER let this happen to you again.
But I have a little news for you:
It’s GOING to happen again.
Pinterest will change its algorithm.
So will Facebook.
…Yup, Google, too.
Which is why you can’t afford to make this mistake:
Never confuse tactics with strategy.
…but what’s the difference?
Sorry if ancient Roman military isn’t your thing, but that’s where this all came from, so…
On the battlefield, it looks like this:
Strategy: Soldiers are our most valuable asset. Manage them well, and we’ll win.
- Split your army up into groups with specific formations.
- Cut off our enemies from food and water.
- If possible, take their food and water for ourselves.
- If not, BURN IT ALL.
- Send out spies.
- Don’t back your enemy into a corner, get them to run instead.
- Damage their chariots.
- If possible, pick off elephant-riders with arrows.
- If not, just confuse the hell out of the elephants.
If you’re a Roman commander, you know the goal: conquer Europe. Your strategy, then, is a foundational idea — the big-picture plan that you think will get you to your goals. In this case, they believed that good management and discipline of the army would lead them to conquering Europe. (Spoiler alert: it worked!)
In light of your strategy, your tactics are the smaller actions you take because they *COULD* help you as part of your strategy.
So…let’s take the tactic of Confuse The Elephants. If that’s not working? No big deal. We can always try something else. Because there are LOTS of lovely tactics to choose from.
Let’s apply this to blogging.
(And if making money just isn’t a goal of yours, then use those beautiful brains to figure out how this applies to YOUR blog.)
Strategy: Use Ad Networks, and get as many page views as possible to make that profitable.
- Publish 3x a week
- Post 8x a day on Pinterest
- Optimize your pins
- Create live videos on
- Take glossy magazine-worthy photos
- Join link-swapping groups
- Cry in the bathroom at blog conferences
- Pray for a viral post
- Pray to figure out how that post went viral, so you can do it again
- Publish 5x a week
- Use Edgar to schedule your social media posts
- Still try to keep things personal, so you don’t look like a fake and have the Mean Girls start attacking you
See what I mean?
The strategy you decide on determines which tactics you’ll use.
And if one of the tactics you’re using doesn’t help move you closer to your goal? Then you just cut it out!
On the other hand, if MOST of the tactics you’re trying to use aren’t working — or just aren’t sustainable because you require sleep and food and friends and you’re LOSING YOUR EVER-LOVING MIND — it’s a sign that you need to pick a different strategy to get you to your goal.
Shut the front door! You didn’t know there were other strategies to choose from??
Take this one, for example:
Strategy: Use products and services, and attract people who want to buy them.
- Research your target market
- Build your authority (learn, learn, learn!)
- Find out what would help your target market
- Give it to them
- Help them see WHY they should join your tribe instead of someone else’s (part of building your brand)
- Build relationships with your readers (another part of building your brand)
- Listen to what they’re telling you
- Use what they’re saying to create services or products (small or large) to help them
- Learn how to write a sales page
- Put your Thing up for sale (yeah, I’m getting all technical on you)
- Write blog posts targeted for people who would want to buy your Thing
- Promote those blog posts to drive only the right traffic to them.
- Use social media to attract new potential buyers-of-your-thing (hint: they’re now called customers!) and build relationships with your existing ones
Now see what I mean? Different strategy, different tactics. And theoretically, they could both lead you to the same goal of making money blogging.
But here’s the danger of running an online business, randomly pulling tactics off the Internet without knowing what the heck you’re doing:
If you think your tactic is a strategy…and the tactic fails…then you’re dead in the water.
If the Ancient Romans had confused tactics and strategy, and their entire strategy was “Confuse the Elephants!” …then what would happen if the elephants were wearing blinders and didn’t notice them riding in circles on their horses? Or what if there WERE no elephants? You can’t just switch to “Confuse the Chariots!”
I’m going to take a risk and announce that the Emperor Has No Clothes:
Too many bloggers are relying on tactics alone.
Build your list to 10,000! (…tactic)
Get more followers! (tactic)
More page views! (tactic)
More likes! (tactic)
Post 8 times a day! (tactic)
Suck up to your favorite Influencer! (tactic)
Swap links with other bloggers you know! (tactic)
Leave comments! (tactic)
Guest post! (tactic)
Get #allthetraffic from Pinterest! (tactic)
That’s why when Pinterest changes its algorithm and your traffic gets slashed in half, you’re running around like little ants scurrying around after their anthill has been smashed.
…But I know you. And I know you’re smart. So I know you can handle the truth:
that STRATEGY DOES NOT EQUAL TACTICS.
If you understand the difference between strategy and tactics, then when Pinterest changes its algorithm and your traffic gets slashed in half, you don’t have to freak out. Because your business isn’t built on Pinterest alone.
If you understand this, then when you see five different bits of advice from five “thought leaders” (barf), you can sip that double mochaccino and smile, because you can instantly tell which will help you, and which won’t. Your heartbeat won’t even speed up.
Understand this, and you can stop craning your neck trying to peek over the next blogger’s shoulder and wonder, “How many page views does she have?” “What’s her social media secret?” …or one that threatens your very future as an entrepreneur:
If I can’t win by doing the same things SHE is doing, then it’s not worth playing the game.
…So what now, sensei?
Let’s simplify things a bit, shall we?
Zoom out from the anthill and give you that view from 10,000 feet?
ONE. Understand your strategy so you can choose the appropriate tactics. (tweet this)
TWO. When a tactic fails, don’t give up — just try another one that makes sense, based on the strategy you’ve chosen.
THREE. If your strategy doesn’t fit with the LIFE you want, then it doesn’t matter if it “could” get you to your goals…it’s a bad strategy for YOU. (tweet this)
FOUR. Get comfortable learning new things, but make sure you keep tactics in their place.
Because listen: Tactics are just tools. And as fast as things move in the blogging world, tools change.
But when they DO change, you don’t have to join the millions of
ants bloggers scrambling to find the Next! Big! Thing!
And strategy is what wins the war.
(hint: if you’re not yet a member of the Blog Maven community, you should subscribe to my Blog Smarter emails – I save my very best for subscribers)