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Project Leonardo: What I've Learned After One Month
Editor’s note: This is a guest post by Cory Huff and part two of a series on Project Leonardo.
A month ago I wrote about living in my Zone of Genius. A Zone of Genius is the thing you do so well that it seems effortless to you, yet people are amazed that you do it so well. For me, that’s a mix of enthusiasm and digital marketing. I’m using my Zone to launch 12 niche websites in 12 months. You all have stepped in since then, submitting more than 50 ideas for niche websites.
Some of the ideas were bad. But some of the ideas were very good indeed. I rejected the bad ideas out of hand. I scheduled phone calls and spoke with everyone who shared good and very good ideas. Because I know you will ask, here's a partial list of ideas: board game reviews, grain mills, the link between cancer and nutrition, cryptocurrency, vocational training, travel, and product reviews of various items including sunglasses, hoodies, and shoulder bags. Feel free to take any of these ideas and run with them.
I was surprised how many people who have existing businesses wanted to hire me as a coach. Because my Zone of Genius works best when mixed with people, I was tempted to take on all of these and see what I could do. I took on two because I think they are promising. But I also made a business decision that, because I want to own the niche sites and have them become passive income in years to come, I would not coach more individuals and instead focus on building the sites.
I have hired a writer to begin writing content for the first couple of sites. I have also had development meetings with three of our content partners. They are hard at work putting their writing together.
Sifting Out the Tire Kickers
The initial idea for Project Leonardo was that content partners would be paid a percentage of the revenue in exchange for creating blog posts, videos, and other content. I have had a couple of partnerships before, so I dusted off an old joint venture checklist I keep in Google Drive. I put together my initial version for a contract and lo and behold, when people saw what was expected of them, several of them decided the project was not for them.
That’s fine. Project Leonardo isn’t for everyone. But it is for some people, and these people suggested changes, followed up, and advocated on their own behalf. I always appreciate people who sweat the details. They are usually excellent partners as long as they can be patient with my ready, fire, aim habits.
There's still an almost overwhelming amount of work to do. Websites need to be finished. Our content writers are hard at work writing, editing, and revising their 10 articles. Those are the big things, but a lot of little things go into moving Project Leonardo from idea to reality. I’m managing the entire workload by documenting it every step of the way. This will help not only get the work done in a timely manner but also allow for replication and refinement. (I’m putting everything in Asana, my favorite task management app.)
How does all of that relate to living in my Zone of Genius, the point of this entire project? I decided the best way to evaluate my success rate is to look at my calendar. I do this once per month. I add up the hours doing various activities and put them into categories like writing, coaching, marketing, content creation, and administrative work. All of the activities I do fall into one of four areas: incompetent, competent, excellent, genius. I currently spend about 50% of my time in the genius and excellent categories. This is pretty good for most entrepreneurs, but I would like to get to 80% in the genius category.
Since my Zone of Genius is enthusiasm, I foresee having a small team of writers and content partners who share their knowledge and expertise. I will support and coach them while helping them make money through the niche sites. Being surrounded by people doing good work allows my natural Zone of Genius to kick in and make the project better than it would have been. (Tweet this.)
We hope to launch the first niche website towards the end of October or early November. I will report back once we've launched the first site or two to let you know how things are going.