Nassim Nicholas Taleb wrote about the black swan — the impossible-to-predict event that changes everything. The terrorist attack, the earthquake, the worldwide economic meltdown.
But in the world we live in now, it’s the white swan — the ordinary, predictable event — that’s becoming rare.
Black swans show up every day. Storms and disasters … and positive black swans, too, like world-changing technology.
Unpredictability is the new predictability, and the only thing we can be sure of is that the world will look almost unrecognizably different — even just a few years from today.
You can let that scare you into inaction. That’s a recipe for getting crushed by chaos and change.
But there’s another option. You can let yourself get excited about the possibilities.
Think about some of the things we’ve seen evolve — radically — in just the past few years.
- Have you changed how you share photos with your mom?
- How you watch TV or movies?
- How you decide where to go for dinner, how you find your way there, how you ask friends to join you?
Here’s the thing — you don’t thrive in times of intense evolution by being the strongest, the meanest, or even the smartest.
You survive (and thrive) by being the most adaptable.
The evolution of affiliate marketing
Ten years ago, you could stumble into affiliate marketing and make some real money. Find an affiliate program with a good payout, create some not-great content that would rank for the keywords you wanted, and put lots and lots of ads up.
Serious affiliate marketing today looks very different.
Savvy marketers like Rae Hoffman-Dolan are creating brands that stand alone, not just junk sites with domains like BuyBlueWidgets.com. Hoffman focuses on creating points of differentiation — and her favorite way to do that is to create a superb buyer-focused site that’s the best of breed on the topic she chooses.
As she wrote in her groundbreaking article on affiliate evolution:
Instead of developing a site around one affiliate program or revenue stream, a site is developed around a topic where we can create a large and rich site covering everything you ever wanted to know about widgets, and promote bluewidgets.com along with redwidgets.com, yellowwidgets.com, widgetgadgets.com, widgetaccessories.com, widgetcovers.com and where we know there is a strong presence of advertisers bidding on widget keywords and doing widget ad buys.
Hoffman encourages affiliate marketers to create businesses, not “micro-sites” or other so-called quick systems that end up being more trouble than they’re worth. She focuses on the long game, and she keeps her eyes open.
Affiliate marketing is evolving, and it continues to evolve. Adapt, or die.
The evolution of ebooks
Even a few years ago, ebooks worked best for niche topics with narrowly defined audiences. You wrote and sold an ebook because there wasn’t a big enough market to write and sell a “real” book in a “real” bookstore. (You might also have enjoyed keeping all of the money rather than sharing it with a traditional publisher or printer.)
Today, ebooks have exploded. This May, Amazon reported that for the first time, their sales of digitally-delivered books had passed their sales of paperbacks and hardcovers, selling 105 ebooks for every 100 printed ones.
It’s now “normal” for books to live in your phone, on a lightweight device like a Kindle, or on your tablet. I know one successful novelist who’s looking for a digital publicist, because for the first time her extensive backlist is widely available to any fan who wants to buy it.
Publishing is evolving, and it continues to evolve. Adapt, or die.
The evolution of SEO
It used to be helpful to be a bit of a bad boy to be a good SEO.
It was all very Bonnie and Clyde. SEOs had tricks to stay one step ahead of the search engines, sneaky secrets and complicated technical strategies.
But every day, Google works to make the game less fun for the outlaw.
SEO today requires real content — something people actually want to read.
And that content needs to live on a real site — something that keeps the reader onsite exploring from page to page, not flitting away to read LOLCats. A business that takes itself seriously, that’s ranking on the search engines for a purpose.
(Gosh, does that sound a little like Rae Hoffman’s advice to affiliate marketers? Hm, interesting.)
Search marketing is evolving, and continues to evolve. Adapt, or die.
The evolution of your business model
How do you make money today? How did you make money 10 years ago?
Do you think it’s possible that the way you make money next year, or the year after that, could be entirely different?
Do you think the shifts everyone else is facing could touch you? Personally? Professionally?
Could those shifts touch your customers?
If you’ve got one revenue model — one way that money comes in the door — make this the year to build a second one. And then a third. And a fourth.
Our favorite business model for the 21st century
Our favorite business model today isn’t technology or green business or any of the other top-ten topics in business magazines.
It’s online education — teaching others how to surf these powerful waves of change.
If you want to hear more about it, we’d like to send you our thoughts on:
- Staying agile in an economy that’s changing fast
- The three factors that will help you narrow down the right topic for your business
- How to find your own corner of a juicy market
- The business lesson you can learn from Best Buy and the Apple Store
- The five elements of a 21st-century business that works
We’ll also have an educational seminar for you on three opportunities for wild business growth that show no signs of stopping. And we’ll give you a free road map so you can start striking out on your own, if that’s what you want to do.
Later this fall, we’ll let you know more about the re-opening of our flagship course Teaching Sells, designed for those who want in-depth help creating an education-based business.
But whether or not you join us for Teaching Sells, we’d love to get you all the free content.
You’re the only one who can make the decision to adapt — to learn and grow, so you can thrive in an atmosphere of chaotic change. We’d love to give you some tools that can help.
Sign up here to get the seminar, the road map, and all the other free content.
About the Author: Sonia Simone is Senior Editor of Copyblogger and CMO of Copyblogger Media. Get more from Sonia on twitter.