The Pareto Principle - Observe, Analyze and Repeat

by Sam

The Pareto Principle, the rule of 20/80 can be applied nearly every subject, including internet marketing and online writing. Here is how ...

In a nutshell, and as it refers to internet marketing and online writing, the Pareto Principle states that 80% of all our success comes from 20% of all our efforts. In terms of writing online, this means that 20% of what we write, and publish!, are responsible for 80% of our income. Either directly via Adsense, Amazon etc or indirectly by driving traffic to our own sites and businesses. Knowing about the Pareto Principle and working with, and not against it, can make the difference between success and failure. If you want to know more about the other applications of the Pareto Principle and its mathematical background, the next paragraph contains a handy link to the respective Wikipedia article.

:The term "Pareto principle" can also refer to Pareto efficiency. The Pareto principle states that, for many events, roughly 80% of the effects come from 20% of the causes. It is a common rule of thumb in business; e.g., "80% of your sales come from 20% of your clients". Mathematically, where something is shared among a sufficiently ...
Vilfredo Pareto
Vilfredo Pareto
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Pareto Principle - What is succes?

Only you can define what 'success' means for you and to do that you need to write your own business plan. If you don't know what you want, you don't know if you are successful or not. Here some types of success that can be achieved with internet marketing, article writing etc.

  • Money - Most of the people that get started with internet marketing want to make make money, either with Adsense, Amazon, other affiliate programs etc.
  • Exposure - Others write online to get their name out, to establish themselves as an authority in their field and / or to promote their own book, product, service etc.
  • Finding work and gigs - And others again use their online articles to promote themselves for certain jobs, for example as freelance writers. They are using their published articles as both, a means to find new customers and an online portfolio to show off their work.
  • Combinations - And obviously some, or all, of the above can apply at the same time. For example an online writer that wants to find, primarily, new writing gigs (customers) might chose to monetize his or her articles at the same time with Adsense.


To know if you are successful, you need first to sit down and write your business goals down.

What do you want achieve with your articles?

Pareto Principle - What is already working for you?

The perhaps most important bit is to observe what is already working for you. Here is where you will discover that the Pareto Principle applies also to you. Make a list of all your online efforts and see which ones contribute the most to your success and which ones not. To do this you need a certain amount of data, i.e. which articles have driven the most traffic to your own website, which articles sell best in forms of products or which articles get the most 'clicks' in Adsense. Below an article I have written earlier that explains how to connect Adsense and Analytics for better data, check it out, it ain't difficult ;-)

If you have collected all this data, you should now see what is working best for which purpose. Now to the next step. For this you need to

To know if you are successful, you need first to sit down and write a business goal down.

Make a list of the top 20% of your articles that convert best for you.

No, don't run screaming now, it is really not difficult to connect your Adsense and Analytics accounts and the benefits of doing so are huge!

Pareto Principle - Analyze your success

We often get hung up by analyzing what doesn't work, instead we should analyze what works. This puts us not only in a more positive mind set, it also is more effective. As the saying goes 'chase the winners and forget about the losers' ;-) As I don't know your goals, I can only give you some tips on how to analyze your successful pages.

Topic - Which topics tend to result more in sales, which ones more in clicks?

Style / Layout - Does a certain style of writing or page layout has an influence how well your article converts?

Traffic - Which article gets the most traffic, why? From where? And which article drives the most traffic to your main site (if you have one).

At the end of this, you should be able to have a detailed description of the top 20% of your articles that answer the following question:

What makes this article so successful and which of my goals (if you have more than one) does it support best?

The Pareto Principle - Repeat what works, forget about the rest!

Often we spend far too much time in 'improving' things instead of repeating what we know that it works already. So, instead of going back through your old articles and spending time improving them, write new ones modeled on the ones you know work. I don't mean with this to write about the same things over and over again, just to copy your system, but not your content. For example you noticed that a certain baby product you have written about converts very well to Amazon sales. You check that article and copy its cute layout etc to write new articles, about new products but in the same style.

Or you noticed that every time you write about a certain topic, you get more visitors to your own website that followed a link you put at the end of your article. If increasing exposure is one of your goals, I would certainly suggest you write more about this topic.


Applying the Pareto principle to what you do means to

  • Determine your top 20%
  • Analyze your top 20%
  • and repeat what works well

This way you put yourself not only in a more positive mind set, you also will reach your goals faster. It is tempting to dwell on things that didn't work out like we imagined they should and waste time with them, but in my experience this time is far better invested by repeating what already works for you. And that might well be something very unique that nobody will be able to copy easily ;-)

Click to Read More!

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Updated: 02/16/2012, Sam
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Sam on 02/22/2012

Hi Bhavesh, nice to meet a fellow perfectionist ;-) Yes, more data is always better (says the geek) I hope to get to 100 articles on Wizzley soon, that would help with evaluation! But until then, we just have to go with what we have, don't we?

Bhavesh on 02/22/2012

Never thought about applying the 80/20 rule to my writing. I think it's a great idea. I am a perfectionist and often end up spending a lot of time doing things that may not bring me the best rewards. Having said that, I need to have a larger sample of articles to analyze - catch 22! But I think I am already getting some clues as to what I need to more of and stop worrying about the rest.

Sam on 02/12/2012

Yes Jimmie, I do fall in the same trap frequently, trying to improve what is not work instead of repeating what has proven to work! I am curious to see / hear about was is working for you, when you are ready to share it ;-)

Jimmie on 02/12/2012

Thanks for reminding me of this. I've heard it simply as the 80-20 rule. (I guess we should give Mr. Pareto credit!)

I appreciate your advice to focus on what works and do MORE of it. It's amazing how I get obsessed with tiny things that are not working well or are giving slow and small rewards instead of duplicating those things that are producing great results. It's a real "duh" kind of advice yet so needed for many of us. I tried something new this year that caused me to get more "success" (not going to define what that is in my case) in a month's time than years of other combined efforts. WOW. I seriously need to rinse and repeat! Looking for how to duplicate my success.

Sam on 02/11/2012

And for dogs ;-) Yes, it is more fun and it also changes your mind set from 'OMG I am a loser', to 'OMG, I am successful at something'. Makes a huge difference, at least for me. As for the validity of the Pareto Principle, ask any person that has a brick and mortar business, they will confirm this. Same for people that have other people working for them, 20% of the people contribute to 80% of the success ... I have yet to find something where it doesn't apply ;-)

Sheri_Oz on 02/11/2012

This is an interesting approach. It is definitely more fun to examine successes than failures. It is the same principle as raising children - if you praise them for their good deeds and successes and ignore their less successful behaviours, they generally want to repeat what they did well and their less desirable behaviours extinguish. (It works for husbands as well.)

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