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I first heard about Gary Vaynerchuk (the author of Crush It) in a video of a talk he gave at the Web 2.0 World Expo (I’ll embed the video at the bottom of this post) in 2008.The title of his talk was “Do What You Love (No Excuses!).” I was super inspired and psyched by the talk, and it made me feel good knowing that there were other people in the world who couldn’t imagine doing anything for a living other than what they love to do.
Then I came across Gary’s book. I knew I had to read this book from the second I read its title and subtitle: “Crush It: How to Cash In on Your Passion.” Pretty great, right? I mean, that’s what everyone wants to do: make money doing what they love. I ordered the book off Amazon and it sat around in my “to read” pile. Eventually I picked it up, and I ended up reading the whole thing in one sitting. And I’m glad I did!
So let’s start out with a quick bio of the author. Gary V’s family moved to America from Belarus when he was a kid. His dad started a liquor store. Little Gary had the entrepreneurial bug from an early age and learned about business through buying and selling baseball cards. He took over his dad’s store and started Wine Library TV, a video blog about wine. The video blog helped him grow his company from $4 million to $60 million in five years. He’s now an internet business guru type guy, and he still keeps Wine Library TV going every day. That’s pretty much all you need to know.
As stated before, the philosophy behind the book is that you can make a living doing what you love. The formula Gary Vaynerchuk gives for this (though not in so many words) is pretty simple, and here it is:
Your personality + Your blog + Social media + Tons of hard work = Traffic = Business opportunity
This is not proprietary information, and this is nothing new. It’s something that I already understood before reading the book, but I don’t know if I really believed it wholeheartedly. But Gary V does. He is adamant about it to the point where I almost felt like he was going to reach out of the book and punch me in the face if I didn’t believe him. He says that you can turn ANY niche into a profitable business if you stay at it long enough.
The example the author gives of is worms for fishing. You might say, “Gary, that’s dumb. No one can make a living off of blogging about worms.” But he explains that you build up a content-rich site, infused with your own personality, and get traffic to your site. When your site gets big enough, when you stick with it long enough, when you get enough traffic, someone will come to you with a business opportunity about fishing lures or growing worms or something, and before you know it, you’re in business and making money doing what you love.
Now here’s a quick side note. I thought that the book would focus on you making money from your site by selling ads or creating info products or something. But I felt like the focus was more on manufacturing and selling products. I read so much about selling info products that this was kind of a nice change of pace.
Even after reading the book, I’m still a little bit skeptical. Do I think you can turn ANY passion for ANY niche into a profitable business? No. No matter how passionate you are about cinder blocks to hold up your bed so you can store more things under it, I will venture to say that you’re never going to get enough traffic to your blog to make it of interest to cinder block manufacturers. But even as I say that, I feel a little twinge of guilt. Gary V says it’s possible, so who am I to say he’s wrong? He’s much more successful than I am and seems to know what he’s talking about.
Here’s the thing that gets me, though: Gary’s niche is wine. It’s obvious to see how that could be successful. I can see how there are a ton of marketable, potentially profitable niches out there that you could make money in. I’d like to see more case studies documented in smaller niches.
Another things that kind of gets me: Gary inherited his wine business from his dad. It was already grossing a few million dollars each year in sales. He already had that security. It’s easy for someone like Gary to say, “Make money doing what you love!” when you’ve already got a profitable business that happens to be in line with doing what you love! Still, I trust him because he has also created his own media empire from scratch.
One thing I wish he would have addressed (maybe it’s in there and I just missed it??) is that all niches are not created equal. Some niches have potential to be more profitable than others. Wine is more profitable than cinder blocks, for example. Another thing is that there is more room in some niches than others. Even if you DID somehow manage to have a successful blog about cinder blocks, is there room for dozens of people to make their living blogging about cinder blocks?
My number one takeaway from the book? Work really, really hard and you’ll be successful. That’s a pretty basic takeaway, but when you read Gary’s story and his tips, it gives you a deeper conviction that it’s possible. And that’s why you should buy this book. The book inspired me to work harder on what I’m doing so that I can make my dream a reality. And for that extra motivation, the book was worth it.
And Gary, if you ever read this… More case studies and examples in the next edition would be great!