Work Small to Go Big

dear company X
To Whom It May Concern

Got an email yesterday from an internet promotional firm, Company X* today. The first line hit me like a shot of fear, pulled straight from the freezer.  “A website is only as good as the kind of traffic it has,” the email read.  The only measurement of my writing, the email’s author suggested, was in the number of visitors who come to my site. The email wasn’t done there. If I really cared about the perceived value of my blog I would invest in Company X’s services to boost my organic page ranking on Google. I would email right away to sign up for specialized SEO improvements and program for other B2B thingamabobs.

Rather than write a vengeful response, I hit delete. It was the kindest thing to do for everyone involved. Because there’s no point in getting upset, angry, or hurtful.  This little blog isn’t trying to compete with Corporate America or The Number One Website in America. What that salesman was selling doesn’t apply here. My writing is quiet industry, not big business.

Now I’ll be honest with you. I hear plenty that sometimes makes me wonder about this stance. There are plenty of sources that are quick to remind me that if I don’t stay ahead of SEO/Marketing/or traffic rate monitoring I’m already too far behind to catch up. But I know in the center of my being that the only way for me to truly succeed is to think differently.

Being an entrepreneur or blogger today doesn’t mean following the same rules as big business. We gotta work small to go big.

Outside of Industrialist Thinking

Seth Godin — an entrepreneur, marketing guru, and best-selling author of over a dozen books — proposes that successful entrepreneurs of today need to avoid the industrialist mindset and be creative in our approach to business.  Unlike the olden days of success measured by the millions, the entrepreneur of today can’t expect to win over the entire world. The modern businesswoman must figure out how to deeply impact a thoughtful few.

If we create something special that can inspire or profoundly move just ten people, Godin suggests, those individuals gush to a handful of friends about the great thing they just found. Those friends will tell ten people, and if you move that group too, you’ll watch as your work creates a fully vested, heart and soul marketing campaign for your unusual website/brand/product. By working small and thoughtfully, you can grow big from the bottom up. Momentum builds.

Go Big by Working Small

The industrial mindset of our grandparents’ generation requires us to buy into the scary idea that if we don’t reach the same measurements of The Big Successful Companies and Industrialist Leaders (think Google, Ford, Apple, General Mills) than the safest thing to be in life is a cog in the wheel.

But for today’s business market — where individuals start thriving businesses with food trucks, small restaurants, blogs, Etsy Shops, and self-published books–these old-world measurements don’t work. For people like you and me, there’s just not enough money (or time) for any of us to out-bid or out-analyze the data of any of those big corporate websites. The industrialist concept only serves Big Companies because it keeps people scared enough to invest valuable time and money into buying their stuff: more Google Ad words, SEO optimization software, and the newest widget/gadget/technology.

So when I get an email like the one from Company X, I have to remind myself that my job isn’t to invest in some panic-laced marketing SEO/Page Rank promotional tour. My work is to continue concentrating on creating content that touches an important few. My modus operandi must be in investing in doing good work that matters.

Viral Marketing 

Seth Godin talks a lot about building tribes**. Godin says, “by interacting with others you have the platform to create something new. Something that changes everything.” Godin knows what he’s talking about. He sold millions of copies of his books without book tours or using Facebook. He sells books by making a difference in the lives of people like me who can’t help but tell the world about how inspiring his work is or how you need to sign up for his weekly emails, or buy one of his 14 books!

So if you like what I’m doing here on Foodwoolf–or any other site that you think deserves some grassroots promotion (like my amazingly talented friends Michael Procopio–Food For The Thoughtless or Tamar Haspell–Starving Off The Land, or this guy, Ian Ruhter, on his process and the camera he built)–tell a handful of friends about them.  Share a post that moved you or made you laugh.  Leave a comment.  Let us know what we’re doing right.

And lastly, thank you for coming by and being a part of this mini-revolution. I’m grateful I didn’t need to give Company X one penny in order to find you.  You’re priceless.

*Not the company’s real name

**Listen to Seth Godin on Krista Tippet’s Public Radio show On Being about the subject. It’ll blow you away!


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Food Woolf Written by:

Brooke Burton is an Los Angeles-based restaurant professional and hospitality expert. She is a freelance food writer, speaker, and co-author of The Food Blog Code of Ethics.


  1. Great approach, healthy way to look at blog/traffic/business/etc. After reading CK’s recent post on The Current State of Individual Blogging, and struggling to keep my passion going when life gets in the way, this post mirrors my thoughts on what really matters.

  2. Kelly
    March 29

    I love this approach, Brooke! My blog doesn’t have huge numbers and for a while I struggled with the approach to content I had–did I want to teach people? Show pretty pictures? Tell stories? What was I contributing to the Internet? For a while, I was certain there was a formula…the angle of a picture. The number of words. The fanciness of a dish. That damn readability test that my SEO plugin is always squawking about. And then, last month I decided to just do things my way…and to not beat myself up for it if I didn’t have thousands upon thousands of hits. I posted peanut butter eggs, something stupidly simple and thus a stray from what I’d normally do…and they went viral. And the number of offers I got doubled. And I sent out my first no (I usually passively delete after worrying that I’ll be blacklisted). It felt empowering and wonderful. Thank you for bringing refreshing posts to my blog reader and reminding me to stop and reflect every now and again 🙂

    • March 30

      Go Kelly! I’m so happy you’re following your bliss! Keep going!

  3. Thanks for this post. Whenever I come to your blog, I find a grain of epiphany.

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