For those who have never heard of Sun Tzu, he was a general for a Chinese emperor sometime around 2 BC. This is the same period of time that produced one of the most famous thinkers that the world has every known, Confucius, whose tidbits of wisdom are read every time you crack open a fortune cookie. You might laugh, but centuries of wisdom can be found in those little cookies.
Sun Tzu was renowned for being a master strategist and having the ability foresee how the conflict would unfold before it even happened. He could anticipate his enemies moves and counteract them before they even knew what happened. Under his tenure as General, his King went on to rule the most powerful state in China and together they conquered any state that dared to stand before them. Sounds kind of fun, right?
Can we as bloggers learn anything from Sun Tzu? History reveals many lessons, if you are smart enough to pay attention. Life in general teaches us lessons everyday, were just moving to fast to see most of them.
Knowing that Sun Tzu was a conqueror, you might see him as nothing more than a brute. A heathen who might have difficulty forming a coherent thought, but you would be way off target. Sun Tzu, as I stated earlier, was a master strategist and quite the big thinker.
He was made famous in the book The Art of War and is widely known for his tidbits of wisdom. Corporate boardrooms across the country emulate his actions and use his thoughts to form strategy so lets see if we, as humble bloggers, can learn anything.
The Wisdom of Sun Tzu:
Know the enemy and know yourself; in a hundred battles you will never be in peril. When you are ignorant of the enemy, but know yourself, your chances of winning or losing are equal. If ignorant both of your enemy and yourself, you are certain in every battle to be in peril. – Sun Tzu
This might seem like a quote that might not apply to bloggers but the way I interpret it for myself is that you need to know what you are getting into when starting your blog. Know your topic, know the major players, know who and what you are up against. Only YOU can know whether your character, knowledge, timetable etc all are capable of the task otherwise you will be defeated and probably quit before you really get going.
In war, numbers alone confer no advantage. – Sun Tzu
I have read a lot of debates over posting schedules and whether a high number of posts or a low number of posts yield better results. I have even seen bloggers trying to run 10 different blogs, with all of them being ho-hum rather than one being extraordinary. If you can run more than 1 and make them great, then I envy you but I have yet to see a single A lister running more than 1 blog. Sun Tzu could have answered these questions as far back as 2BC as he knew, numbers arent the advantage its the quality of the planning, the execution of the strategy that will always win.
You can find mediocre posts and blogs everywhere, the truly extraordinary ones are few and far between.
To not prepare is the greatest of crimes; to be prepared beforehand for any contingency is the greatest of virtues. – Sun Tzu
If you are going to write authority posts then you want to prepare before every posting session. Do your research, make sure you are fact based, make sure that you know as much about the subject as you possibly can. If you sit down at the computer without a clearly defined plan then you are almost sure to produce substandard results. If its a fluff post then no problem, but your authority posts or pillar content need to be the best they can be.
Thus those skilled in war subdue the enemys army without battle . They conquer by strategy. – Sun Tzu
It has become quite fashionable as of late to try to get ahead by being shocking. Some bloggers do this by attacking the A-Listers, insulting them, their blogs, their mothers whatever they think might add to the shock value. This may provide at best a short term lift in traffic, maybe a few links but honestly it has been so overdone that nobody pays much attention to this kind of stuff anymore. Sun Tzu wouldnt approve, and if you called his momma names .youd be the guy in the picture at the top of the post. The one on the ground that is.
If an enemy has alliances, the problem is grave and the enemys position strong; if he has no alliances, the problem is minor and the enemys position weak. – Sun Tzu
This part really bugs me. Ive read posts lately where bloggers admit that they will not help other bloggers. They wont link out, they wont mention the other blog, they are afraid of losing readers and readership. Sun Tzu recognizes the value of alliances, he knows that to win you need friends. You need a network, you need partners. I am a strong advocate of partnering with other bloggers to help each other, as you can see from my partners post. If you contribute to my blog or success then I will do anything I can to help you with yours. These other guys would have been kicked out of Sun Tzus army for not having a backbone. No confidence. No Chutzpah. Sun Tzu wouldnt stand for his men not helping each other out.
Even enemies will help each other if they are together on a boat that is in trouble. – Sun Tzu
Small bloggers ARE in the same boat. We are all trying to increase our readership, increase our traffic, maybe make some money from the blog. Why wouldnt we help each other. Its easy to stay on top when you are on top, its ust hard to get there. Kind of like it being easy to make money, once you have some. Ive flogged this subject to death .but dont be dumb. Build your network and help your fellow bloggers, it will pay you back 10 fold.
I will leave you with one last quote, not from Sun Tzu, but another man who knows a thing or two about winning a conflict.
Victory belongs to the most persevering. – Napoleon Bonaparte
Napoleon knew that to win requires perseverance and too many bloggers quit after just a month or two. They get frustrated by a lack of early success and they came into it with unrealistic expectations. John Chow, Shoe, Darren Rowse, they all blogged for YEARS before finding success. Why would you think that you will find it in a month or two. Can you really be that much better than they are?
You might be, but if you quit after two months, the world will never know. Neither will you.