You may have noticed things have been pretty quiet around here for the last few weeks. Since mid December I’ve been up in the Amazon undergoing an intense process of soul searching and reflection. Now I’m back in civilization and am excited to get back to work helping people teach English to Brazilians.
I want to take a moment to reflect on 2013 and share how the year went for Brazilian Gringo. I want to share with you the lessons I’ve learned while running an internet business as well as the mistakes I made along the way.
Today I’m going to take you behind the scenes at Brazilian Gringo and share with you what the last year looked like on this corner of the web. I’ll share with you the biggest lessons that I’ve learned while running this business and give you an idea of where we’re headed in 2014.
Lesson 1: Do ONE Thing at a Time
BrazilianGringo.com was started with the singular focus of helping English teachers move to Brazil to teach English. With this narrow focus it was easy to for people to grasp the value proposition of the site and share it with their friends. It was also easy for me to come up with ideas and stay focused.
In the beginning I wrote almost entirely about how to teach English in Brazil. I created a email auto responder series that went in greater detail on how to do this. To monetize the site I launched WeTeachBrazil, which has a ton of resources and interviews which make the process of becoming an English teacher in Brazil less challenging.
But after a while I felt like it was too confining to focus just on English teaching. I started producing content about learning Portuguese, adapting to Brazilian culture, doing business in Brazil. The problem is I wasn’t focused on any long term goal with any of these topics. Without this long term vision I bounced around from idea to idea at my fancy.
As I replaced my teaching income with other sources I didn’t feel authentic writing about teaching anymore. I stopped relating to specific English teacher problems and related to more general foreigner problems, hence the shift in focus.
This also had an impact on what kind of people visited the site. Instead of attracting English teachers whom I might build a long term relationship with, I attracted gringos of all types. While I have a lot of specialized knowledge about Brazil that could be useful to anyone, I can make a greater long term impact just focusing on English teachers.
By not having a clear focus of who I was trying to serve with this website I reduced my capability to help any specific group of people.
Implications for 2014:
A renewed focus on English teaching. Last time I checked there are a hundred and something million Brazilians who might learn English at some time in their lives. A hundred years from now I think at least 95% of Brazilians will speak English as well as Portuguese. They’re going to need help from us teachers.
Lesson 2: How not to launch a podcast
The Brazil Entrepreneur Podcast was launched a few months ago as the world’s first bilingual podcast. The idea was to launch a podcast that shared wisdom about doing business in Brazil for both foreigners and Brazilians.
A lot of people liked the podcast but it had nothing to do with my business. Its an idea that would make more sense for a blog like TheBrazilBusiness to take on rather than the guy who teaches English.
It was difficult to get guests to agree to do both an English and Portuguese episode. Some weren’t confident enough in their abilities, others were just busy. I then decided to just do English episodes since any Brazilian who is really serious about making more money with their business speaks English.
In the face of these difficulties and the realization that I started a podcast for the wrong reasons, I stopped producing the podcast.
I still love the idea of podcasting as it allows you to build a connection with your audience in a way that you can’t do with blog posts or videos. Just make sure you know who your audience is and what kind of value you want to give them.
Implications for 2014:
The Brazil Entrepreneur Podcast is going to be put to rest and another podcast will be launched soon to take its place.
Lesson 3: Do what you’re good at, delegate the rest
There are a lot of technical things that come into play when running a site like this. Site building, content creation, product development, logo design, marketing, video editing, podcast editing, just to name a few. Of those tasks, there are a few things that I’m really good at, some things I’m proficient at and somethings I hate doing.
One thing I’m good at is making videos. It almost doesn’t seem like work for me to come up with ideas for videos and film them. Video editing isn’t as much fun, but its hard to outsource this unless the person is sitting next to me.
One thing I hate doing is designing websites. I can build sites but its an exhausting process for me. For a long time I had it on my todo list “redesign site.” The first couple of site designs I had all sucked and they haunted me. I sat through a bunch of tutorials to learn how to make minor tweaks to the theme to make it look more like the way I wanted it to. It was all very frustrating.
I breathed a lot easier when I finally just paid someone to make the site for me. All of the energy I was focusing on getting the site redesigned was taking away my focus from things that mattered. I was spending less time figuring out the long term direction I wanted to take the project, building relationships with people that matter and producing content that has a serious impact on peoples lives.
Implications for 2014:
Delegate more. I look forward to bringing more people on to the Brazilian Gringo team to expand the services that we offer on the site.
Lesson 4: Be more social
For a while I was completely unaware of the impact that my site had on people’s lives. I was just creating content because it felt like the right thing to do. When people asked questions I would dutifully answer them. If someone made any other type of comment I would think, “ok cool” then move on.
What I failed to realize is the real world implications of what I’m doing here. On the other side of every page view is a human being with hopes and dreams that involve Brazil. I took my readership for granted and didn’t do the best job of connecting with people.
I really enjoy talking to people about Brazil and I especially enjoy meeting Brazilian Gringo readers. Some of the most rewarding moments of 2013 were when I got to meet BrazilianGringo readers. Its always inspiring to hear people’s stories of how they came to Brazil and what they are doing here.
I always tell people that one of the reasons why I love Brazilians is because they are very adept at building relationships. I’ve come a long way in this regard since first coming here, but I’ve still got a lot of room to improve.
Implications for 2014:
Make it easier for people to talk to me. Host more events. Attend more events. Reach out to people more.
Lesson 5: Do things that scare you
I’ve got mixed feelings about what I was able to accomplish in 2013.
On the one hand I accomplished a lot more than I did in 2012. I made an impact in more people’s lives than I did the year before, learned a lot of new things, met some really cool people and got to see some incredible new places. I have nothing to complain about.
At the same time, I didn’t accomplish any of the really big goals that I wanted to achieve last year. I didn’t take any action on them at all. Big goals by their very nature are scary. Its a lot easier to dream about them than to actually take action on them.
I had in my mind last year a certain number of Brazilians that I want to teach English to. Instead of taking steps towards achieving that number I did everything else. But the thoughts of achieving that goal never went away. In the back of my mind I knew thats what I should be doing, but I didn’t do it.
Fear only exists in my mind. Fear is not real. Fear has no power over me unless I choose to give it power. The more that I give in to fear, the more that my fears become reality. The best way to combat fear is to do what you’re afraid of and show yourself that your fear was irrational.
In the case of teaching English to a ridiculously large amount of Brazilians, I don’t think my fear is justified anymore.
Implications for 2014:
Wait and see
These have been the 5 biggest lessons I learned last year. I thank you all for accompanying me on this journey and I look forward to writing 2014’s adventure with you.
I’d love to hear from you now. What are you looking forward to doing in 2014?
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