Are Stealth Fliers Doomed?

I have read a lot of blog posts, opinions and teachings online, even from a previous mentor, saying that to be successful online, you have to brand yourself high profile, develop your own product, make it go “viral” and be the “buzz” on all the social networking sites.  And that unless you are adding thousands of new followers on Twitter each week, you don’t “get” the importance of it for developing your online brand.

Maybe.

And some act as if there is no place for you online unless you make yourself highly visible and position yourself as the “go to” guy.  So if you are don’t want to be in the spotlight, and are uncomfortable aligning yourself with the mega-star gurus, then you had better quit the internet now or focus on an online support role such as a forum moderator.

I totally disagree.

I think there is a place online for everyone who wants to be online.  If you play to your strengths, understand your core competencies and talk in “your own voice”, then you will find your own market.  And there are still very good businesses to be hard through automation – which doesn’t require you to have a “name” online.

I agree that if you thrust yourself into the spotlight, it’s highly likely that you’ll develop a wide customer base and more quickly, than people who don’t, simply because more people will gain “fast exposure” to you. 

But you will also have customers even if you prefer to fly “under the radar”.  After all, there are lots of people who have made very good money by doing just that, like Michael Green and Chris Freville.  And if you just said “who?”, doesn’t that prove my point?

So, which way do you go?  Follow the pack to guru status or fly under the radar?

Actually, the choice is not consciously yours.  How you become successful online depends totally on your personal style and preferred method of working. 

If you are independent, free-thinking and largely self-reliant, someone who doesn’t need a great deal of social interaction, you will probably be more successful playing to these traits and staying “low visibility”.  But remember that this strategy takes time and effort to build business momentum.  If your work is high quality, you will get more loyal customers.  In time you will be the big fish in your small niche market.  Having “cracked” one niche market, you will find moving into another easy because your name will not be highly identified as a niche specialist, outside your niche. 

On the flip side, if you are a party animal, someone who thrives on not just “playing hard” but being seen to be playing hard, someone who desires to be “known” as a guru, then you will get more out of being “high profile” online.  Becoming widely known and highly visible will certainly catapult a fledgling business into a cash cow far quicker than the “under the radar” approach.  However, there is a risk that a high profile “guru” cannot enter other niche markets without losing credibility as an expert.  (Hence the common use of “niche names”).

So when you start your online business, decide what kind of person you are (ask your friends and family if they agree!)  Follow the business development profile that suits YOU.  If you aim for “high profile”, when you’re really a “stealth flier”, you will be uncomfortable in your role and less successful than you would have been if you were “true” to yourself.  Likewise, trying to be a “best kept secret”, when you want to shout “look at me” is similarly doomed. 

Be yourself online.  Stay true to you when branding and marketing yourself online.  That’s what the true “gurus” do. 

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