In every business endeavor I am involved in, including building content websites, I rely heavily on the Pareto Principle — more widely known as the 80/20 Principle.
If you’re unfamiliar with this idea, the Pareto Principle states that for many events, roughly 80 percent of the effects come from 20 percent of the causes. More simply, 80 percent of the results come from 20 percent of the efforts.
Management consultant Joseph M. Juran suggested the principle and named it after Italian economist Vilfredo Pareto, who — while at the University of Lausanne in 1896 — published his first paper “Cours d’économie politique.” Essentially, Pareto showed that approximately 80 percent of the land in Italy was owned by 20 percent of the population; Pareto developed the principle by observing that 20 percent of the peapods in his garden contained 80 percent of the peas. (Reference: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pareto_principle)
Think about this rule for a few minutes. It empirically demonstrates that 80 percent of the things you do are not effective, or do not contribute to your success. Building a business, or doing anything for that matter, without understanding and applying this rule can cause you to waste a lot of time, energy, and effort.
It is absolutely critical to apply this rule to your content marketing efforts, especially in deciding which channels to use to reach your audience. If you determine that your audience listens to podcasts regularly and they don’t consume a lot of video, then don’t waste time there. If after one year in business, your Facebook page has generated zero sales, yet your Twitter account is landing new clients, focus less on Facebook and increase your use of Twitter.
This rule should not only be followed in starting or building your business, but I recommend utilizing it for every aspect of your personal and professional lives. Your time is too valuable not to. If you are not good with finances or bookkeeping, pay someone else to do it. If one of your businesses is not profitable and one is extremely profitable, dump the one that is not and focus on the one that is. If you hate cleaning and are financially stable enough to hire someone once a week, make the investment.
In practicing the 80/20 Principle, you may just discover that you can build an entire brand and business by only creating videos and publishing them to YouTube. It’s up to you to figure out what your 20 percent is, but the 80/20 Principle can be an amazing guide to help you find it.
If you want to learn more about this principle and how to effectively apply it, consider reading Richard Koch’s books on the topic, or The Four Hour Workweek by Timothy Ferriss (which is something of a manifesto for online content business owners).
Let’s start practicing the 80/20 Principle.
Author of The Content Marketing Equation