#297: Copying What Your Peers Are Doing

Many writers make the mistake of copying the strategies their peers are using … and doing it blindly.

By “blindly” I mean you don’t take into account your peer’s target market, goals, preferences, experience or any other nuanced factor that explains WHY they’re doing what they’re doing.

Take social media or content marketing, as two examples. It’s very easy to look at what some of your peers are doing on Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn and feel like YOU should be doing the same thing.

Or you see that someone you admire does a lot of blogging. Or they write guest articles for outside blogs. Or they appear as a guest in other podcasts.

And you start to wonder, “Hmmm… am I limiting my success by not doing the same thing?”

In today’s podcast episode, I explain the danger of blindly following what others are doing—and use investing as a way to illustrate.

The notes that follow are a very basic, unedited summary of the show. There’s a lot more detail in the audio version. You can listen to the show using the audio player below. Or you can subscribe on Apple Podcasts, Spotify, Stitcher, Google Podcasts, Amazon Music or wherever you listen to podcasts.

Asking yourself whether you should copy your peers is a valid question.

But most of the time we conclude the answer is yes without considering WHY they’re doing what they’re doing—or if it’s even working for them! We see the activity … but we know nothing about their results.

Further, what makes sense for Bill, Susan and Melinda may not make sense for us. Bill, Susan and Melinda have their own objectives, preferences and experiences. And those may not apply to you.

You’re Playing Different Games

Morgan Housel makes this point in his outstanding book The Psychology of Money. Specifically, he urges readers NOT to take financial cues from other people, because they’re likely playing a different game than we’re playing.

For example, my good friend Bill spends his weekdays trading stocks. He does very, very well with this. And believe me, it’s very tempting to ask Bill for stock tips.

But the thing is … Bill is playing a different game than I am. He’s making profits by holding stock positions for just a day or two—sometimes even just a few hours.

I, on the other hand, can’t dedicate 40 hours a week to researching and monitoring my investments. Instead, I want to make investments I can hold for a long, long time.

So I should NOT take investment advice from Bill.

At the same time, Bill should NOT take investment advice from me—because I’m a buy-and-hold type of investor playing a very different game.

In fact, Housel says this is precisely why financial bubbles get created and why they burst. You have way too many people jumping on a bandwagon that’s not right for them. But the FOMO is too hard to resist—so people take action that make no sense for them.

What Bill does works for him because his strategies are aligned with his goals. Meanwhile, what works for me is aligned with my goals.

Use Your Filter

Coming back to the world of freelancing, this doesn’t mean you shouldn’t ask your peers what’s working well for them. It simply means that you should run everything through your own filter.

Make sure that whatever you’re thinking of implementing is well aligned with YOUR goals, preferences and experiences.



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