The future is a magical, mystical, and terrifying great unknown that's so incredibly unknown that it doesn't really exist. Men have driven themselves mad trying to foresee the unforeseeable in a desperate effort to try and take ultimate control over their lives. But if we knew what the future had in store with absolute certainty, then it would already be the past. They say the only way you can make God laugh is to tell him your plans - the sentiment to which is very true.
But what if your plans involve launching a successful tribe right here on DriveTribe to share your love of cars to as many people as possible, and perhaps create something that could prove handy when trying to break into motoring journalism? Is that something so implausible it's worthy of laughter, or is it within anybody's grasp – albeit, if they make the right decisions? Well, the answer to that is simple: yes.
This time last year, my tribe – Speed Machines – had barely 10 members, a pitiful amount of views, and a handful of bumps. It was cowering in a dark and unexplored corner of what was and still is a flourishing website. Now, it has nearly 7,000 members, 4,000,000 views, and approaching 6,000 bumps. My audience regularly interacts with my work, and the feedback I receive is predominately excellent (apart from the odd idiot who passes through).
Think of this article as something of a help-guide to give advice to those who're just starting out and will need to build their tribe from the ground up; to help those who've been around for a little longer who want their tribes to prosper further; and also something to help people understand whether success is something they really want. Remember: success is a spike only a select few get to sit on. And if it is to last, it won't come easy. Crucially however, it is more than possible. So, without any further ado, these are the vital stages for success on DriveTribe...
1: You'll Need To Work Hard. Very, Very Hard!
This is the obvious one, but also the most elusive. Some of the biggest misconceptions of how success is acquired surround the topic of hard work.
Firstly, as bitter a pill as it is to swallow, it's important to acknowledge that hard work is by no means the guarantor of success, nor the demander of respect. It is merely what's required to make success a possibility. How possible success is entirely depends on not only how hard you work, but also what exactly you dedicate your efforts to, and your personal vision of success.
The definition of success can be as modest or outlandish as you like, but it's important to acknowledge success in all its forms. For example: a small audience that engages regularly could be defined as more successful than a large audience that doesn't engage at all.
The most subjective and mystifying part of simply instructing somebody to "work hard" is actually quantifying how hard someone is required to work – to which there is no answer. But, just to give you some kind of an idea as to how much I've contributed to making my tribe a success over the past 13 months, the photo below shows a total word count from every article I've ever published.
Divide that out into 13 months, and it might not sound like all that much. But bear in mind this: when I publish a blog, that blog wasn't written in the moments before it was published. Some of the blogs I published just two weeks ago were in fact written and ready in my drafts 6 months ago.
I created a schedule of blogging every day other than weekends, and then for every week that passed, I aimed to have completed two weeks' worth of blogs. Everything was written in a diary that I stuck to religiously, even if completing a blog on time resulted in me watching the sun rise over the sound of my fingers hammering the keys.
The whole process involved planning the blogs, researching them, making notes, writing them, proof-reading them twice (reading them myself once, and then getting my Mac to read them back to me just to make sure I haven't overlooked anything), finding and organising photos along with the relevant credits, finding and/or creating a banner, and then posting it all into my drafts to be published another day.
As a general rule of thumb, if the workload doesn't make you question whether you want to do it as a career, and if it doesn't test your love for it to breaking point, then you aren't working hard enough. And if everything you have read so far has put you off at all, then in all honesty, this probably isn't the industry for you.
You must also prepare yourself for the possibility that all the work you put in could potentially amass to nothing. To reiterate on what I've already said, hard work does not guarantee success – but it is required to make success a possibility. The only thing that's guaranteed when you try is failure; it's up to you when you stop trying, but to cease trying is to close the door on success ever being a possibility.
People don't like admitting that hard work can also result in failure, because by being ignorant to that possibility, they keep the flame of hope alive. Hope however is a callous and capricious bitch of an imaginary entity that allures people in with her charm, and then slits their throat with the razor-sharp blade of reality. Which brings me nicely onto my next point...
2: Your Attitude Dictates How You Manage The Requisite Work
Mountains of work can very easily become the catalyst that garners the corruptive clouds of self-pity. But there's no place for self-pity in a productive mindset. The thing is however, self-pity is a parasitic emotion that feeds off and destroys everything inside of you other than itself; it leaves you a hollowed out human-doing that doesn't know how to feel anything other than sorry for yourself – and that's exactly what makes it a nightmare to conquer. The moment you do terminate self-pity however, is the moment all of your problems diminish. But it's also of paramount importance to be realistic with yourself and your goals.
It may seem like the only way to execute the amount of work required is to attack it with as much optimism as you can possibly muster, but that is a dangerous attitude to utilise. In actual fact, being optimistic can be just as damaging to success as being pessimistic because both states of mind inspire us to believe it a deeply biased vision of a future that hasn't happened, which then impacts on our present actions for the worse. Pessimism causes us to be lazy; optimism causes us to be complacent - both of which are parasites on the development of success.
It's also important to understand that optimism feeds off motivation, which isn't a fuel that a person can artificially regenerate inside of them. It is an emotion that comes and goes of its own accord, which makes it simply too unreliable to manipulate.
You may find motivation powering you along in short bursts – akin to an over-boost function, really – but by revelling in motivation and relying on it, when the tank runs dry, the resulting emotional crash can bury you under a mound of misery that you'll find nigh-on impossible to recover from.
Instead of harnessing the power of motivation, commit yourself fully to the task at hand. There may not seem it, but there is an enormous difference between being motivated and being committed. Motivation often comes from the passionate desire to be successful; whereas commitment comes from the willingness to do what's required to succeed. If you want success but you aren't prepared to put in the work, you aren't going to succeed.
You may look at the job of acquiring success as though it's akin to climbing a mountain, and to be fair, there's a truth to that analogy. But once again, your mindset directly dictates how you approach the task of conquering that mountain. By focusing on the mountain itself, taking the first simple step will be a job you procrastinate until you decide that it's too late to do anything. However, if you focus on taking that first step, and dedicate yourself to only completing one step at a time, you'll find yourself climbing the mountain that is success and surprising yourself at what you're truly capable of.
That said, even if you're capable of moving the very mountain that you are climbing up, one of the most crucial part of success is one that people don't like admitting contributes at all. It's one that you as the person aiming for success has almost no control over, yet without it, achieving success is near enough impossible...
3:…"For Sheer Dumb Luck."
As a realist, I must concede that luck doesn't really exist – at least, not how people think it does. People have to give names to things they know nothing about in order to make them feel as though they have some sort of control over them – which is why we've given a name to the unforeseen surprises in life, whether they be good or bad.
Where people go wrong though is by presuming that just because we refer to good and bad occurrences as "luck", that luck is something that can be manipulated in advanced for our benefit. In truth, the word "luck" only bears anything meaningful to reality in past tense; whereas in future tense, it depicts nothing but a fantasy.
They say that losers whine on about having bad luck, while winners make their own – which is partly true. As a person, there are many things you can do to try and engineer as much of your own luck as possible. Not many successful people will admit that anything other than their hard work and their good decisions contributed to their success. But regardless of what people say, things beyond your ultimate control have to happen in order to be successful.
Ultimately, your members are what make your tribe. Doesn't matter how frequently you post, it doesn't matter how excellent your work is, if nobody knows it's there, it might as well not be. And if that wasn't disheartening enough, actually making people aware of your material – particularly, your target audience – isn't as straight forward as anybody likes to make out.
People can't determine whether they like your work until they've read it; they can't read it until they've clicked on it; and they can't click on it until they've found it. If the right person finds it, you may find yourself being reposted to their tribe, or perhaps even being shared on DriveTribe's Facebook page, which will bring in thousands of people. This happening however isn't completely in your control.
Obviously, nobody's going to share your work if it's not up to standard, so always strive to make your work as good as it can possibly be. Other than that, there is really only two other things you can do to help yourself get noticed. One thing is to share your work to established open tribes related to the topics you write about; and the second thing you can do is write blogs about...
4: Controversial Topics
There isn't nothing people like more than an opportunity to feel outraged, and then to express said outrage on the person whom made them feel as such by berating them in a profanity filled message with CAPS LOCK ON. In order to start an argument on the internet, all you need do is express an opinion, and wait. So, if you express a controversial opinion, people line up in a virtual queue to recite their rendition of the internet's most popular elegy "This Is Why You're A Cunt..."
On the internet, if people have the opportunity to call someone an idiot, they will because in doing so they substantiate their own sanctimony. The No1 rule of the internet – which I hereby christen "The Great Contradiction" – is that everybody is right, and therefore everybody else is wrong.
The most controversial topics that people will want to click on include such things as...
Top 10 Most Beautiful Cars Ever Made
Top 10 Ugliest Cars Ever Made
Top 10 Greatest Cars Ever Made
Top 10 Worst Cars Ever Made
...and so on.
By writing about such subjects, you are much more likely to become popular. All publicity is good publicity, and if you write about things that will leave them triggered, you will gain said publicity. Be prepared though: regardless of how gently you express yourself, how much you explain that you understand such topics are subjective and you therefore aren't making a decision on behalf of everyone, you will receive a torrent of abuse.
People don't care what you say – they only care about how they choose to read into what you say. And there is nothing you can do to prevent someone from choosing to read into something you've written in a completely idiotic and abusive way. This is one area of acquiring success where the fewer shits you give, the better off you'll be.
If however you'd rather leave the controversial topics to those of us with skin made of leather, then fear not, as there are other things – and people – you can write about that will help get you noticed.
5: Ambitious, But...
By reporting on the latest news from The Grand Tour, Top Gear, or Clarkson & Co, DriveTribe are more likely to share it on their Facebook page. Even if what you're writing about isn't particularly current, and even if your article is just a few lines long, if it holds any significance to the aforementioned shows and people, then folk will want to read it. For example...
Subaru P2 – The Car That Made Jeremy Clarkson Sick
Mazda Furai – The Car That Top Gear Destroyed
The Grand Tour Season 2 – A Look At What's To Come
Remember When Clarkson Cut Down A Tree With A Machine Gun?
The Time Clarkson Subjected A Perodua Kelisa To Medieval Torture
You get the gist.
Of course, there's only a finite amount of such stories around, but people will always be interested in reading anything that has something to do with TGT or Clarkson's Crew. And when an audience does begin to befall onto your tribe, there is something else other than the continuation of regular blogs that will keep them coming back...
6: Engage With Your Audience
Always let your audience know that you value their input by responding to them and thanking them. If someone shares something to your tribe, treat it as an honour, show interest in what's been shared, and thank the person for their contribution. People are more likely to return and continue sharing their work to your tribe if they feel you value their contribution.
Show the same gratitude to people who share your work to other tribes. At the end of the day, if someone reposts your blog, they obviously like it enough to want other people to have a look at it.
Also, if DriveTribe share one of your articles to Facebook, be sure to show them your gratitude too and thank them. At the end of the day, it's nice to be nice.
Of course, all your feedback won't be agreeable, or even particularly pleasant. If someone doesn't agree with a point you make, don't interpret that as them calling you an idiot (unless they explicitly refer to you as an idiot). Remember: when you read someone's comment, you're reading it in your own voice in your own head and not the voice that the person wrote it in; therefore, you are in charge of how you want to interpret it.
Don't bother wasting your time with those who're abjectly abusive; if they can't acknowledge the existence of opinion, then that's their loss. Disagreement is a virtue of freedom, and if someone conducts themselves with decorum as they express their opposing viewpoint, respond gently and let them know you value their perspective anyway. The more dignity you exercise when responding to people with different opinions, the more discussion you will encourage. And that is a very good thing indeed for the growth of one's tribe.
Expect idiots to use your work as fodder to make themselves look like a smart arse by making unfounded and brainless quips to encompass similar idiots into bumping their comment. You can't do anything about these people other than block them; there's no cure for being a cunt.
Also, prepare yourself for one very annoying facet that you soon find people exercising: people only ever care about what you don't say rather than what you do. Doesn't matter how many interesting points you bring up, doesn't matter how much you say in your article, if you don't mention just one car that somebody feels is relevant, that's what they'll judge you on. Resisting the urge to scream obscenities at these people is an art that requires constant practice.
You'll also find that when some people comment, their comment appears to have absolutely nothing to do with the blog at hand. The reason for this usually has an easy explanation: they haven't bothered reading a word of your article, and have instead opted to lazily scroll through the pictures, and base their comment on what vague information they've gathered and twisted from them. I don't think I'll ever stop wanting to reach through the computer to strangle these people.
7: Think Carefully About What You Want Your Tribe To Be About
Obviously, your tribe is going to be about something automotive – but what particular branch of motoring will you be focusing on? This stage requires some serious thought. The subject of your tribe can be as niche or mainstream as you want. If it's too niche, not enough people will be interested at first glance to want to bother with it; if it's too mainstream, it could very easily become too much of a muchness and just blend into everything else. You can of course have multiple tribes, but I recommend sticking to just the one to focus all your attention on.
Once you've decided on the topic of your tribe, then you have to decide on a name. People's attention span is getting narrower and narrower the more they become accustom to getting information quickly and easily. They will decide whether they want to join your tribe or read your work in the blink of an eye, so if you can't hook them in with catchy yet simple title, you're going to lose a potential member.
DriveTribe recommends an incredibly simple naming system. For example, if your tribe was about Supercars, they would recommend you call it "The Supercar Tribe". I agree that this method will work well – but I also think employing a little bit more imagination to naming your tribe may pull in more members.
My tribe is about supercars, hypercars, and all things fast. Therefore, it is called "Speed Machines". I think this title sits well in people's minds and also helps them relate to the subject of the tribe quickly.
8: Create A Schedule, And Stick To It
By creating a schedule, you help people know what to expect from you and when. If you're writing detailed blogs, a few times a week is ideal; whereas if you're only producing very quick content, post at least once a day.
Also, make sure you work ahead of yourself so that when unforeseen circumstances prevent you from being able to write - and they will - you always have something in your drafts ready to publish.
To help yourself work ahead, you should have two different schedules: a posting schedule, and a writing schedule. My posting schedule was to post every weekday; however, my writing schedule was to write two weeks' worth of blogs every week.
If your blogs are quick and easy, then this won't be much of a challenge – but you'll also find any success you garner will disappear as quickly as it arrived. More detailed blogs that require more effort from you are where lasting success comes from.
As a general rule, if your writing schedule doesn't make you wonder how you're going to get it all done in time to start the next weeks' worth of writing, then you're not doing enough. Procrastination will not do because the time you put current work off to is time already allocated to completing the next load of work. If you feel like you're not going to be able to get something done on time, or you feel like you can't really be bothered, ask yourself if you could do it for $1,000,000. If the answer is yes, then you can do it; the incentive that money creates doesn't suddenly make you capable of new things. If you can do something for a million dollars, you can do it anyway, regardless of money. Always remember that.
Time is precious in the pursuit of success; hence, you need to budget time like it is money. Always budget additional hours for when things go wrong – and they will, more often than not.
There is one critical area where money and time differ however. Money is a thing which you accumulate gradually; whereas all the time you're ever going to have is given to you the moment you're born, and from there on out you spend it in increments we call "seconds". If you were to lose £10, you can earn that back – but if you lose 10 minutes, it's gone forever, causing a backlog that can never truly be made up. That's why it's important to allocate time into your schedule specifically for when everything goes Pete Tong. If nothing goes wrong however, then great! Consider yourself ahead of schedule, which is a very good – not to mention rare – feeling indeed!
Adopting this approach will change the very way you view time. You will stop referring to time in units of minutes and hours, and you will start dividing each group of 24 hours into time slots in which your work will be allocated. When you view time like this, you find yourself automatically replacing the cliché "sorry, I haven't got time" with "sorry, that time slot is already allocated". For success to happen however, every time slot you have available must be allocated to work. If you're not eating, sleeping, or having a shit, you should be working.
9: No time like the present...
So then, to summarise: work harder than you ever thought possible, stick to a schedule so people know what to expect from you and when, stay organised, adopt the correct attitude, commit yourself fully, try to make as much of your own luck as possible, be controversial, use other people's fame to create your own, engage with your audience and show them appreciation, and make your tribe about something you and many others are passionate about.
The journey for success is never really over; it just continuously evolves into more developed forms. The road twists and turns, ebbs and flows, and it's important to remember not to get too disheartened when things appear to slow. It won't take 5 minutes; Rome wasn't built in a day. If you don't love it, don't do it. The trap of life is to do things you don't like so you can continue doing those things you don't like. But if you love this industry and you want to succeed in it more than anything else, it is more than possible. Who knows, a successful tribe might be the gateway to launch yourself into motoring journalism professionally.
Now, read this article again – only this time, whenever I mention the word "success", drink a shot.
All the best!!
Written by: Angelo Uccello
Tribe: Speed Machines
Facebook: Speed Machines – DriveTribe
Banner Credit: Odyssey