Years ago I used to play poker. Not professionally, but often enough that it was more than a hobby. I played in local casinos and through it earned a little bit of spending money on the side. Eventually, I learned that it wasn’t something that I wanted to do long term even though I was good at it. However, I did pick up some lessons along the way that I still apply in my life and even translate over to blogging.
Money isn’t Everything
This was the main reason I decided to quite poker for good. I realized that it was a game where the only goal was money. Every move you think about was how to maximize your profit on a hand. If you decide to play poker for a living, then you have no friends at the poker table because you want to fleece everyone there.
I realized that there should be more to life than just money. I didn’t want to spend all my time sitting around at a table scheming at the various ways that I can bet, bluff, outplay, or otherwise trick everyone there out of their money. It just wasn’t something that I could go home and tell my family about and feel proud about. I wanted my life to be more meaningful.
I think that in order to have a successful endeavour, it can’t be just about the money. Running a blog is the same way.
Many people may think that earning an income from a blog is all about making money. However, if that was the only goal, I don’t think the blog will go far. Instead, I believe that the key is giving value to the reader. If you give away valuable information, people will come.
Then you have a healthy symbiosis. By thinking about different ways that you can give instead of receive, you will have much more success. More and more visitors will come to your blog because of the value that you provide. This in turn will organically lead to profit.
Make the Correct Choices
One of the dichotomies of poker is in order to win, you need to focus more on making the correct choices than in making money. You can win money by making poor choices and you can lose money by making the correct choices. However, if you can’t distinguish between the two, overall you will pick up bad habits and lose in the long run.
Life and blogging is the same way. You have to focus on making the best choices. Sometimes the result, by a twist of luck might not turn out the way you want, but take heart in the fact that you made the right decision in the first place.
Take black hat seo as an example in blogging. In my mind, black hat seo is a bad decision. However, in the short term, one can find a lot of success with black hat tactics. In the long run, a lot of people lost when Google changed their algorithm. Whereas, those that practice white hat or organic seo, might have had slower growth in the beginning, but they weren’t affected by the Google hammer.
Don’t let short term results affect whether you make the correct decision. Things will work out in the end.
Manage Your Money Well and Don’t Get into Debt
I also learned that it’s a lot harder to try and climb out of debt than it is to start out ahead. If I lose $10, then in order to get ahead, I need to make back my $10 dollars first. If I am able to manage my money and stay out of debt, it’s easier to make a profit.
This may seem like common sense, but many people take unnecessary risks and get into debt. Then they have to climb out of the hole and it may take them hours or days to get even. If they were smart and managed their money better in the beginning, they would not have that problem.
I see it time and time again. Be smart about how you invest your money. Sure it’s necessary to put in an investment in order to get a return. However, you need to assess your risks intelligently and do your best to stay out of debt.
I took this lesson over to blogging. I managed my spending tightly early on, keeping to reliable shared hosting that didn’t cost me an arm and a leg. Then I focused on making correct decisions, giving value and getting a return on my investment before spending more money. I then made it a rule not to spend more than I was earning, so that I stayed ahead.
Know Your Target Audience
Knowing the people at your table is much more important than understanding all the technical rules and strategy in poker. If you know and understand your opponents, you know how to interact with them in the best way to play your hand correctly.
Of course, in business and in blogging, they say that you need to know your target audience. This is the same concept. One can learn all the techniques of seo, blogging, css, html, coding, etc… But unless you get to know your audience and learn how to communicate with them, you will have a hard time being successful. The key is communication. You can’t learn that from a book.
You Can Make Money Online
Of course, as brick and mortar poker grew in popularity, there came about a growth of online poker sites. I tried that out as well.
I think many people were sceptical about the internet back then and even more sceptical about something like making money online or playing poker online. I was a bit of the adventurous type so I was willing to try anything.
While there are some differences: It’s harder to get to know your opponent online. I found that it’s still possible to play successfully and make money online. Back then we got checks in the mail, but it was exciting when they arrived. The experience made me more comfortable with managing money online and the concept of making money online. I knew it was possible from my own experience.
Later on, long after I stopped playing poker, I discovered other ways of making money online, such as blogging. I found more meaning in these activities and was more comfortable online because of my previous experiences.
You Can Learn from Any Experience (Even Bad Habits)
I talk about my past playing poker to give an honest account. However, I think that it was a bad habit. Not that it can’t earn you money, but to me, it’s not a meaningful endeavour. It doesn’t enrich anyone else’s life. It doesn’t give back to society. I think it devalues the meaning of money in general to the ones who play.
Frankly, it was a bad habit. But do I regret that period?
If I learned nothing from the experience then I would regret it. However, it was a life experience for me and I learned from it. I learned some hard life lessons. I learned more about myself. In the end, I changed in a positive way and I feel I am a better person for it.
The one big take away is that there is a good lesson that can be learned from any experience, even the bad ones. The only thing to regret is not learning from your mistakes. Mistakes truly do make you stronger as long as you learn from them.