“Who is Justin Bieber, anyway?” (Sorry, couldn’t resist.)
Bieber is an overrated, overpaid (disclaimer: editorial opinion) 15-year-old singer adored by millions of pre-pubescent girls. Last February, he (or his handlers) decided to chop off his signature, sideswept hair.
Who on the planet cares, you say?
Well, at least one person does. His name is Jay Foreman, a 49-year-old toymaker in Florida.
Foreman, CEO of the company The Bridge Direct, didn’t have a clue that his major product was obsolete. Until, that is, he heard the screams and saw his employees running out of their offices, wild looks on their faces.
Because they had Google alerts set up for Justin Bieber, they were the first to know.
Foreman was the guy lucky enough to get an exclusive license to make and sell Bieber dolls in 2010. In that year, he sold 4 million of them and made more than $100 million on the line. This year, he was already in the first line of production for the 2011 holiday season when news of the haircut broke.
Because of Justin’s little trip to the barber (okay, the fancy Hollywood stylist), he lost $100,000.
In a CNN story, Foreman said, “I’m glad he didn’t go for a Mohawk. That would have been a real problem.”
Sure, this is an extreme example. But change happens. People come and go. People die, even.
At the very least, people get haircuts.
So why, on God’s green earth, would this possibly interest bloggers and writers?
For me, the reminder is: Don’t hitch your wagon to someone else’s star.
When I was a freelance writer, I learned (through a very painful lesson), not to attach myself to one huge corporate client—even if they were giving me boatloads of work.
Because when the manager I had developed such a close relationship with suddenly left and the new person had her own favorite, go-to people, well, you can just guess what happened.
Blogging as a business or way to build an author platform? Same thing.
I love to collaborate, cooperate, partner with other bloggers. Play the game so we both win.
But I also believe strongly in creating my own stuff, too. And having lots of irons in the fire, so if one venture doesn’t work out, I can jump to the next one.
I like having my blog as my own home base for marketing and self-promotion, instead of being at the sole mercy of Twitter and Facebook to spread my message and brand. Because, frankly, I’m just renting the space from them. I don’t own it.
So what about the toymaker, Mr. Foreman? Did he change his habits?
Turns out he did not. Actually, he remained hilariously optimistic about the whole situation.
“The haircut wouldn’t be the biggest problem,” he said. “If he was photographed smoking a hookah pipe, for example,” he added. “Now that could doom a small toymaker.”
What do you think?
Is a business built on one product over which you have little control a good idea?
If you are a writer, do you try to diversify projects and clients so you are not so dependent on one?
Do you think it’s important to have a home base like a blog, so you always have control over your message?