by Dan Oshinsky on October 15, 2012
“Ignore the money and the news. Find good people who make wonderful things, and help them do it.” — Erin Kissane
About once a month, I get an email from someone I don’t know. The email reads as follows:
I’m a huge fan of Stry.us. I’m thinking of starting my own news site devoted to long-form journalism. I was hoping I could talk with you about how to get started.
I have gotten a lot of these emails, and I’ve followed up with almost all of them. Of the people who’ve emailed me, a small number have actually gone on and done something. A much larger number shoot me a couple of emails or maybe spend 20 minutes on the phone with me before deciding not to take on their dream.
This is what I’ve learned from the conversations with all of these people. The lessons here are from the journalism world, but they’re pretty universal themes, I’ve found.
1. People Rarely Follow Their Effort — People tend to think about their own passion first. They’re told that if they care about something, they should focus on that.
But I’m a believer in what Mark Cuban once said:
“Don’t follow your passions, follow your effort. It will lead you to your passions and to success, however you define it.”
Everyone I’ve talked to about starting a long-form project has been incredibly passionate. But only a handful have actually gone through with it.
Why? Because not everyone is willing to put in the time and deal with the pain that comes with starting something great.
I know this: Just proving that you’re willing to do the work is a differentiator in this world.
2. Having a Team Matters — The people who’ve gone forward with these projects always have a team/tribe behind them. Even if it’s just a few readers who are really excited about the project. Even if it’s just a few people who want to copy edit stories.
The people who go forward have always found other people who buy into the dream, too. It’s much easier to quit when it’s just you.
3. Experience Only Takes You So Far — Some of the people I’ve talked to have had lots of experience in the news world. Some have had very little.
But when you’re trying to start something big, experience is only a small part of the equation. I’ve said it before: You also need time to make it happen, and a great team behind you, and a lot of hustle.
The people who say they can’t do something because they don’t have enough experience are usually just making excuses for themselves.
If you want to start something, then do it. But please, remember: Anyone can start something. What counts is that you follow through. That you hustle. That you do the work.
There are people in this world who talk, and there are people in this world who do.
Be the latter. We need more of them.
That inspiration at top comes via @coffeeeater.