There are no shortcuts.
You know this. You've been told this a million times. Digital Marketing and Social Media are not cheap, free and easy. That's not true. A lot of the platforms and channels are free and some are relatively cheap. Most of them are easy to join and get engaged with. So, then, what is the challenge and why can't everybody make it work best for them?
It takes a lot of effort.
Just because the ability to connect is free, just because you can do so with a very limited budget (re: cheap), and just because the technology has advanced to the point where anyone from a young child to a senior citizen can figure it out, that doesn't mean that everybody is going to take the time and put the effort into really making both the content and connections come to life and be effective for them.
Don't hate the player... hate the game.
I always hated that line. It is the textual version of sticking your tongue out at someone, but - in the case of success in the online channels - it is true. The ones who are successful are not (necessarily) better than you, more experienced than you or smarter than you (no offense to those who are considered successful). More often than not, they're simply putting in a ton of effort and the effects of that effort are more connections and content that is shared more. Take a look at Chris Brogan, Amber Naslund, Gary Vaynerchuk, Julien Smith, Kneale Mann or many others. Look at their output. Not just on their own spaces but their activity in other spaces. Look at what they're doing when they're not online. Look at how they network, organize, think and build. Now, look in the mirror and ask yourself this: are you putting in the same amount of effort? If you're putting in the same amount of effort - at this point - ask yourself what level of effort might be needed to surpass them?
Now, ask yourself these really tough questions:
Do you really want to put that kind of effort into anything? Why? What outcome do you hope to achieve? The truth is that it's easier to throw stones or to say "I could do that too," or even to be critical of the things these people are doing. The harder part is to rise above that and actually prove it. See, in the past, you might be able to say that your written words are better than most of the articles you can find in Rolling Stone magazine. It would be hard to prove you wrong, as it was hard to get any kind of article into a magazine of that caliber, but that's not the case any more. Now you (or anyone) can have a thought and publish it for free (and fast) in text, audio, images or video, instantly to the world. You can have all of the excuses in the world, but none of them can be related to the actual publishing and distribution.
Back to Chris Brogan...
He posts twice a day. He has a company called New Marketing Labs. He has another company called Human Business Works. Along with his main Blog, he's also got another one called Man On The Go and recently launched another one called, Escape Velocity. He's written two books (Trust Agents with Julien Smith and Social Media 101) and is in the middle of writing his third. He helped launch a membership-based marketing forum called, Third Tribe Marketing. He frequently puts out an e-newsletter and he manages to speak all over the world, contribute to other people's blogs in the comment section, maintain a 150,000+ person community on Twitter, a Facebook presence and still has time for a young family. That, my dear friends, is effort.
Amber Naslund hasn't been Blogging forever, but she does it so well (check out Brass Tack Thinking). See how active Amber is in the comments. See how active Amber is on other people's Blogs. Check out what she's about on Twitter. Beyond that, she's also frequently speaking around the world. She was recently named, VP Social Strategy for the social media monitoring company, Radian6 and her first book, co-written with Jay Baer called, The Now Revolution, comes out soon. Did I mention she is a single mom?
It's about the effort.
A great body? Put in the effort to diet and exercise more. A smarter mind? Put in the effort to read and learn more. A better job? Put in the effort to make your current job better or increase your skill set so that you can move forward. The people that are successful know the one trick: it's not about luck... it's about effort.
I know you can do it. Put the effort into it. The results will blow your mind.