The following is a guest post from Jim Driscoll who is the founder and author of CriticalFinancial.com.  Jim has always had a passion for investing, saving, and all things finance related, so in 2012 he took to the world of blogging as a way to express his views and encourage others to take a broader look at the investing world.

Standing out in the blogosphere is like a worm trying to stand out in worm farm.  With a typhoon of information being offered in a tsunami of information outlets, how does a small blogger have the ability to attract more eyeballs to the worm farm? Having the ability to offer unique, captivating, and entertaining content is well, just keeping up with about a million other news outlets. There is one trait, however, which separates the great bloggers from the average ones, and to be honest, its the same trait which separates the exceptional pencil salesman from the average one.  This trait is known as GENEROSITY!

Generosity? In a take or be-taken-from world, where does this principal get you? How does being generous help bolster your web sites analytics? Not to sound cliche, but its like anything else in life, the more you give the more you get in return. There is a direct correlation between happiness and generosity, this is common knowledge. In fact, the happiest people I know are those who consistently give of their time, talent and treasure. So, where do happiness, generosity, and blogging converge at the crossroads of web traffic? Well, In the blog world we find ourselves donating our talent, and without a doubt our time, as all of us who run our own sites know this is far from a passive hobby. Generosity helps us get noticed.  By giving our wares away, and expecting nothing in return, we are living with the principle of generosity. A Starbucks gift certificate in a raffle, an ebook, a guest post on another website or just plain ol’ interesting content, all for nothing in return. These are all considered legal tender in the world of blogs, an olive branch of sorts, and by offering it free of charge you will get people to want to learn more about you. Funny things happen when generosity is our game.  And when we find a way to give our hard work away, it’s as if Karma pays us back in spades.

Are you The Grateful Dead or Metallica?

Does anyone remember the cult following of the Grateful Dead? Jerry Garcia, arguably the Dead’s patriarch, has long since passed away, but his inspiration lives on among the multitude of current Dead-like bands attracting VW busses from all 4 corners of this great nation. Very few bands have ever had an following able to rival the Grateful Dead. Even Webster’s Dictionary took note, by defining their cult-following in their dictionaries, as Dead-heads. So, how did this come to be?  What was it that the Grateful Dead do so differently? They stood out, as we all should, by being generous.

If you don’t recall, the Grateful Dead encouraged the Dead-heads to record bootleg copies of their concerts.  Heck, they would even help you record copies. After you pirated your copy, Dead-heads would hope you paid the band back by spreading the copies around by any means possible. You see, the Dead made the conscious decision that they were going to make their living by touring, not by selling albums. So, in order to eat and perhaps more important ‘smoke’, they knew they needed their art to travel. In order to be successful at this, they needed a ‘tribe’ built simply on the generosity principal. So, by their generosity, word traveled and traveled virally, and in a pre-internet era this was something to behold.

Metallica, the Yang to the Dead’s Ying

Metallica, in case you had forgotten, had a different philosophy which the Grateful Dead surely would disagree with. They decided they would fight tooth and nail to protect their songs from being swapped, even to the point of suing the Napster’s of the world, several universities, and even a thousands of fans. You’ve got to think this had a negative affect on their public persona. Metallica may be the most giving people on the face of the earth, but they appeared incredibly greedy, as if choosing to profit from every song sale were more important than their following. This had to hurt their image. So, what if they had just taken the Grateful Dead’s approach and just let it be? Not sure, but since I personally dig the band’s music, I feel the need to point out that this happened nearly 15 years ago, prior to the advent of iTunes which has forever altered the music industry in the way of online sales. Maybe Metallica would have taken a more generous approach in modern times.  But then again, maybe not.

I know that being generous with content, worked well for the Grateful Dead so I have made a point of giving away my quality content with the hopes that something good comes from it.  If not, I’m ok with that too. I think it’s better to stand out in the ‘worm farm’ by giving away your best material and creating a reason for others to come back and do business with you. Invest in making the live of people in your tribe better, you will be forever rewarded.

Happy New year Y’all!

Are you the Grateful Dead or Metallica?