One Person Rule

The “One Person Rule” That Can Change It All

Derek Perspectives, Travel Tips & Advice 100 Comments

One Person Rule

When I first began this blog several years ago, it was purely an experiment. I knew absolutely nothing about blogging and I had never really written much before, especially not for an audience.

I also had no idea how to attract readers, although that didn’t bother me since I never believed it was even possible for anyone apart from a few family members and close friends to be interested in what I had to say. Heck, I didn’t even know what I had to say or what I wanted to say.

And it turned out that my family and friends weren’t as interested as I had imagined anyway. After all, they were already familiar with my travel experiences since I had been traveling for ten years by the time I started WanderingEarl.com, so they understandably had little reason to hear about it all again.

Regardless, during those first couple of months, I wrote some posts anyway, mostly focusing on my experiences in Sayulita, Mexico (where I was living at the time) and some general travel thoughts. I wrote for fun, didn’t pay too much attention to the final result and didn’t care if someone actually read it.

Then came Angelline.

I Can Be A Blogger!

Angelline was the first person to comment on my blog who wasn’t a family member or friend or friend of a friend. She commented on my post “Travel Rule: Buy Something, Throw Something Away” and I recall very clearly the morning when I returned to my apartment in Sayulita after a lengthy, and disappointing, surfing session, turned on my laptop and saw her words. She had written:

“Hey Earl, I’ll be packing next weekend for our upcoming trip to Puerto Vallarta (maybe I’ll see you in Sayulita)…anyway this blog has helped me re-think my packing plans. I will pack with the thought of any chacharas I buy in PV must include the rule of giving something away that I brought with me from home.”

My first reaction was, “Holy sh*t! Someone commented!” and then, after reading the comment over and over about a dozen times, I began running around my apartment giving imaginary high-fives to, well, every single one of the imaginary people that suddenly filled my bedroom, kitchen, living room and balcony.

And that’s the moment that changed the course of this blog.

A Few Beers & A Realization

After my high-five session had come to an end, I sat down in a chair with a bottle of Pacifico beer in hand and I did some thinking. First, I contemplated the idea that somehow, a random person out there in the world had not only found my blog but was actually interested enough to write a few words in response. That notion was absolutely mind-blowing and I wanted to try and understand what it all meant.

After a long while (enough time to drink a few beers) I eventually reached a simple, yet life-changing, conclusion.

If one person can find my blog, it is reasonable to believe that hundreds or thousands of people should also be able to find it. If one person is interested in what I write, there must be others who would be interested as well.

Holy sh*t! No way!

And, you guessed it, after this realization of the “One Person Rule”, I quickly found myself giving another round of high-fives before heading out to celebrate with actual human friends late into the night.

There was still plenty of work to be done of course, but the foundation had been set. The fact that one person had left a comment opened the door to endless possibilities.

How You Can Use This Rule In Life

If you’re starting your own blog, I encourage you to use this rule as well. I’m telling you, if one person has commented on your site, there’s no reason why you can’t enjoy 10 or even 100 comments on each post. Whoever that one person is, there are more people out there on this planet of 6+ billion who think the same or who are looking for the exact same information. As a result, your audience is definitely out there somewhere…you just need to go and find them.

Not a blogger?

Well, the “One Person Rule” applies to almost anything you may want to do in life. Just think…

When you seek out and find at least one person who is doing exactly what you want to do in life, you’re bound to enjoy a major boost in confidence and motivation.

Perhaps you want to travel but you have student loans to pay off or you can’t decide between starting a career or taking a year off to explore South America first or you really want to go to Australia and Asia but don’t know how you can fund that trip… concentrate on finding another person who has been in your situation and managed to make it happen. With the reach of the internet, it shouldn’t take you too long to find one person out there who has done what you want to do. Read their story, contact them and ask your questions and make the realization that if this one person has achieved such a goal, there is a great chance that you can do the same.

Maybe you want to start a business…what’s your idea? Email people you know and ask what they think. If one person replies that your idea would be very useful for them, well, chances are there are more people that will think the same way. One person is all it takes to gain momentum.

Do you dream of creating an actual lifestyle out of something that you’re passionate about? If you just sit around on your own thinking about how to turn your love of wine or horses or painting into something more than just a hobby, you’ll probably lose motivation at some point. You’ll start to ask yourself “How do I take the first step? Is this really possible? Am I being unrealistic?” and you’ll answer those questions with “It’s not going to work. I have no idea what to do. This is useless.

Instead, I say, find one person who has already turned their passion into an actual lifestyle/career/job and learn directly from them. See what mistakes they made and listen to their advice, while always keeping in mind the “One Person Rule”. Use that one person you find as a constant reminder, as an unbreakable foundation of confidence and motivation, and the chance of you losing hope and giving up in frustration, will greatly diminish.

One Person Rule - Surfing in Sayulita

Let’s come back to this blog for a second. The truth is that everything I’ve done in relation to this site has been based on this “One Person Rule”.

– One person asked me for detailed information on how they could get a job on board a cruise ship and so I created my “How to Work on a Cruise Ship” guide. I reached the simple conclusion that if one person needed this information, there must be plenty of other people who were interested as well.

– Last year, one reader asked if I had ever thought of creating small-group tours to offer through this blog. I hadn’t thought of it before I received their email. It got me thinking though and, again, I reached the conclusion that if one person was interested in joining me on a tour, there could very well be many others. And that’s how my Wandering Earl Tours project began.

And those are just a couple of examples out of many instances where I’ve used the “One Person Rule”. In fact, if you leave a comment on this site and you ask a question, I will often use that question as the focus for an upcoming post. The reason is exactly what I’ve been talking about above. If one person is looking for that information, many people are probably looking for that information.

Keep in mind that I’m not trying to claim that following this rule makes everything easy. It merely provides a useful tool to base your decisions on. Hard work is always required, especially after making the realization that other people are interested in your idea or in your blog posts or after you find someone else who has managed to achieve similar goals to your own.

It’s not as if every post I wrote after “Travel Rule: Buy Something, Throw Something Away” was suddenly read by thousands of people simply because I now believed it was possible! But at the same time, I would never have started putting endless hours of effort into this site had I never received that original comment.

The first step towards anything, as they say, is typically the most difficult, and in my opinion, the first step is believing that what you’re trying to achieve is actually possible. The “One Person Rule” makes you believe.

And in my case, both in terms of this blog and my life in general, I have Angelline to thank for that.

What do you think? Have you used something similar? Does the above sound reasonable to you?


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Comments 100

  1. Noel

    Thanks Earl for another great and inspiring article. I’ve been traveling for almost 10 years now, and have started travel blogging a couple of years back, but the lack of success and my lack of knowledge about website have discouraged me a bit. Although I’m still finding my niche, I can draw inspiration from this “one person rule”. Thank you

  2. Kyi

    Hi Earl,
    This post is very encouraging. I’m waiting for this exact same moment to come. I’ve just started into blogging very recently.

    The traffic is quite low on my blog , not more than a couple of visit per day. Since English is not my first language, I also have to struggle and spend huge amount of time to write even a short post.

    But you’re the inspiration and I’ll try to keep up with my blog.

  3. Jaunting Jen

    Hi Earl,

    I started a blog just a few weeks ago to share my love of history and travel and I was so excited to get my first comment and my first follower. Now I have 40! Your blog has also been a great inspiration to me. I have been making arrangements to quit my job and go travel. I rented a storage unit and bought a backpack (Kelty 50s are going for less than $60 now!). All that’s left is give the notice at my apartment complex and choose my first destination. I can’t decide between Turkey, Greece, Croatia, and Romania!

    1. Wandering Earl

      Hey Jen – All great destinations so I wouldn’t stress about it too much! Just choose one that jumps out at you and go…you’ll get to all of them eventually.

  4. Matthew Cheyne

    Earl, thank you so much for this post. To say that it is inspiring would be too modest. It’s uber inspiring. For a long time now I’ve wanted to start writing articles and sending them to online publications to be published. I’ve also and this is more important in relation to your blog post, wanted to start blogging as well. My idea as it stands at the moment is to save up for a trip to New Zealand, eventually go there, write up a whole lot of blog posts while I am over there and then put a website up using WordPress and take it from there. I have a few ideas as to the name floating around in my head but I will keep them to myself for now. But the whole crux of what I want to blog about travel wise is to be all that you can be regardless of what limitations you may have in life, perceived or otherwise. There are a lot of people out there who don’t travel because they believe they can’t. One group is those with disabilities. They have the same hungers and desires that other people have but nobody is blogging about them, for them or to them…yet. I want to create a blog that appeals to not just able bodied people but those who are not able bodied as well. I already have a couple of For Dummies books on blogging sitting on top of my printer waiting for me to open them up and read them. I think you may have just pushed me over the line here into doing something about it. For that I humbly and deeply thank you 🙂

    1. Wandering Earl

      Hey Matthew – That’s such a great idea and I think you’ve picked a truly admirable niche. I look forward to seeing the results and hope to cross paths one day as well!

  5. anthony

    Hello Libby

    I love to meditate, I should do this more often. The UK is a dark place sometimes…even though I am happier than most. I know I need to make a move.

    Thank you for your encouragement

  6. jonny

    I discovered the entire world of travel blogging through you, Earl! I stumbled across your cruise ship e-book and bought it, before delving heavily into the archives on your site. Now I follow various blogs and have become focused on accomplishing my travel goals…you were my one person! thank you so much!! jonny

    1. Wandering Earl

      Hey Kristin – Oh yes it is! Figure out why they follow your blog and offer more of the same…and your numbers will increase.

  7. Melissa Adams

    Hey Earl,
    I love the “One Person Rule” concept. Now that you rule in the blogoshere, can you tell us how you attracted so many followers (including me!) after Angelline?

  8. Fie

    Thank you for such a wonderful and positive post on how we can make things happen with the One Person Rule. I was excited when I received my first comment on my blog as well and look forward to reaching out to more audiences after reading this!

  9. Linda

    Love this post. TBH I’m a bit inured to “self-help” advice (although much of it is good), but this is practical and breezy, and not preachy. You totally get the point of getting across a piece of great advice without droning on about it or being smug (which, sorry, but many folk do). Always open to more advice from you!

    1. Wandering Earl

      Hey Linda – I think the key with such advice is to understand that this is based on my own experiences and that it might not be the same for everyone. So, I can only offer what has happened to me and the realizations that I’ve made and hope that it might seem useful to others. I’m not a big fan of the preachy method either 🙂

  10. Adam Finan

    Hey Earl,
    I started my blog in February and it was 4 weeks and 10 posts before I got a comment.. Mr. Jonny Blair from ‘don’t stop living’ was the culprit and I was happy to get it.. Now it is a bit more regular and coming in on 100 over the whole site.. Its just about keeping involved and posting regularly with unique content.. Now my friends ask me to write posts about certain places and topics!

  11. Gaelyn

    I love your “one person rule” and can totally identify. When I started blogging five years ago I had no idea what I was doing. Thought my friends would be interested in what I’m doing but not so, turned out to be strangers who aren’t strangers any more. In fact my first big step off the continent happened because of a fellow blogger who I am now very good friends with. I’ve always wanted to travel, write and get paid for it. Even though the last hasn’t happened yet I’ll keep plugging along, because it’s fun and gratifying. When I get even one comment on a post, and now usually more, my blood pressure goes up and I do a little happy dance. Great post to inspire.

  12. Lindsay

    Earl, I love this post! It gives me great motivation to keep my blog going. I’ve had nice comments from a small handful of people and I know that excitement you get when you receive one. Now I want to keep writing knowing that maybe some day I’ll have as many readers as you do!
    Cheers and thanks!

  13. Noor

    Thanks so much for this Earl! I started my first blog yesterday and haven’t even set it up properly yet (can’t work out how to change the background colour I’m *that* much of a rookie!). I didn’t even mean to publish it but did so by accident, keeping my other stuff in draft form till I get the blog looking presentable.

    Your post really is perfect timing. My blog is going to be how to move to Thailand (specifically Chiang Mai) and getting established here (as well as my other travels) and just before I read your post about a friend emailed to ask me about renting houses and motorbikes in Chiang Mai. One person asked me a question so I’m going to follow your rule! Thank you!

  14. Erin

    I love giving high fives to imaginary people too! Thanks for this great post. It’s really true and it’s all bout finding that one person and going from there. Thanks for the reminder.

  15. Steve C

    Pacifico! Great choice, as it’s my favorite too. I have a six pack in the fridge as we speak. As it’s not “Beer Thirty” yet, or I’ve not started my blog yet to get my first comment either ……….

    You’re in Great company with the originator of the “One Person Rule”. Confucius say: “Every journey starts with a single step”, (probably a paraphrase). I like the way you have incorporated it into your blog and it looks like it’s got people’s attention.

  16. Kate Convissor

    Ummm. Maybe a couple caveats…If one person can find my blog, then it’s reasonable to believe that hundreds or thousands of people can find it.

    Yes, that may be reasonable, but does it also follow that thousands will become followers? That one travel blog among millions will rise to the top of the heap and become “successful” and popular? Not so sure.

    After following the “never,ever, ever” give up rule for longer than I care to remember, I’ve concluded that the road to success is littered with folks who starved to death while never, ever, ever giving up. You only hear from the ones who made it.

    That said, I also think that one’s definition of “success” may evolve over time. Instead of being a successful novelist, I eventually defined success as being able to earn a living as a writer. Not as sexy, but still satisfying.

    Now, not so sure I’ll ever reach the stratosphere (or thousands of followers based on the rule of one) as a blogger. Not so sure I care.

    1. Wandering Earl

      Hey Kate – As I mentioned in the post, this is only the first step. Having that one comment means that there should be other people out there who are just as interested. There is plenty of hard work to be done after that to define the audience, offer content that interests them and to attract them to follow. Yes, there are millions of travel blogs, but if you find your own voice, your own niche, there will be people who will follow once you figure out how to get your blog in front of the right audience.

      But hey, seems like you’ve figured things out as well with the re-definition of what success means to you! And that certainly works just as well 🙂

  17. anthony

    Hello Scott

    I will check out the book. We have so many opportunities out there, and I suppose what ever we choose we can make them work.

    Thank you
    Anthony

  18. Jason Mize

    Hey Earl, great post! It’s really is a good (and scary) feeling when someone you’ve never met before not only reads the words you’ve written but also finds them useful enough to stop and comment on them. We love that people are now finding our blog informative enough to use it as a resource and to also contact us directly for advice on planning their own moves to Mexico. That being said, whenever we get a new comment I still hand out imaginary high fives (and sometimes real ones) to everyone in the room! I think your rule is a very important reminder to many bloggers not to get discouraged, especially in the beginning, if they aren’t getting a ton of feedback. I know that a similar thought process helped us out in the beginning and still does to this day. Thanks again for the insight!

  19. Libby Scheele

    Meditation. Meditation. Meditation. Calm the mind and you will find that your vast resources will finally be used. You have been trying to calm your mind with weed and alcohol. This is very, very common. But it can bring you to a frustrating place where you don’t get the big things done. Just lots of spinning in little circles. Meditate. Meditate. Meditate.

  20. Claire

    This is such good timing, as I just received my very first comment on my blog two days ago. I had no idea I’d be so excited by that, and I’m glad I’m not silly for being so cheery. Thanks for sharing this!

  21. Sacha

    I have recently gotten my first comment on my blog too. Was so so exciting and thrilling. Do you have any recommendations/advice Earl for the next blog steps with reaching your target audience and gaining more followers?

  22. Scott

    I bought a book “The Worlds Cheapest Destinations” Tim Leffel

    Just thinking if you can just relax and no worries on financial then you will write your book.

    Cheers Scott

    PS website blog is not up yet

  23. Matt Rae

    You got it Earl!

    Starting out getting that first “That’s awesome” or “Sweet idea” can go a long way in validating your ideas. Just think, that ‘one person’ gave you the motivation to build up enough popularity to regularly rank into the top 20 travel blogs around the world – pretty solid.

    We went/continue to go through similar moments while building tripzaar.com. When we’re thinking about releasing a new feature, it’s not until we get that “One” who loves the idea that we have the confidence to move forward with it.

    I would add a couple of points however. The first “one person” is an excellent starting point – it builds motivation, and inspires you to go ahead with an idea you may have been unsure of. At some point (an I’m sure you’ve experienced this) you begin generating handfuls of “one person” ideas. We run into this regularly, where users will regularly throw out ideas that they want to see on the site, and it just isn’t feasible to do them all (and some may even conflict). At that point it almost becomes a matter of “The most people” to allow you to prioritize which to do first.

    But at the end of the day it comes down to that first person who gets the ball rolling.

    Great article Earl!

  24. Shane

    I’m feeling a bit sorry for poor Adrian, who beat Angeline by a day. He didn’t inspire a blog post or get a single high five. Poor, poor Adrian 🙁

  25. Ali

    When I have an idea, I often think, “is one interested person enough?” So this is a refreshingly different perspective. But it completely makes sense, if one person is interested or helped or whatever, it’s logical to think that there are many more. I’ll have to remember this when I start doubting ideas.

  26. Anthony

    Hi Earl

    I believe in the ‘one person rule’ too. Because I have intended to right a book to help working class men improve their lives by revealing how they can build confidence and create new opportunities for themselves. Because I was once a shy, miss guided teenager/early 20 something. And at the age of 25 I picked my self up and took my life on an incredible journey. I started college, University, night school and got myself a series of jobs that improved myself esteem, plus I have travelled alone 3 times.

    It’s just I have suffered from procrastination and finding the time in between work to finish the book and start my blog. This is where you come in. I have been reading your blog now and I am totally inspired.

    I am now turning 40 and have achieved more than many men will in their lifetime in just over 15 years. I believe I can help many men transform their lives with my knowledge and techniques.

    I am now in the process of renting my house, selling my car and I think I will go to China and lock myself away from all the distractions to write my book and keep fit and healthy. They don’t drink alcohol that much in China, they love their health and they certainly don’t smoke weed which is a hindrance here in the UK, that if you want to get anything done. And it’s affordable.

    Does anyone have any better ideas how where best to go an hibernate to get my book completed, and start my blog without the distractions of modern day life?

    I have toyed with Thailand, India, Nepal etc

    My next step will be to travel as I see fit.

    Thank you
    Anthony

    1. Mirva

      Hi Anthony!

      I have a suggestion for you in terms of a place to hibernate… last year I visited some Couchsurfer guys in Morocco in their “sand castle” hotel in the Sahara Desert. Looking at the magical dunes that started at their backyard, I was thinking how this would be the perfect spot for writing a book. It’s peaceful and beautiful, and there are no distractions as the surrounding town is tiny. You can read about the place in my blog: http://writeronthemove.com/2012/01/30/salam-alekoum-from-morocco. I also wrote an article about the sand castle hotel, which is here: http://writeronthemove.com/2012/04/01/my-article-about-morocco-in-helsingin-sanomat.

    2. Wandering Earl

      Hey Anthony – That sounds like a plan you have and I certainly look forward to seeing the progress with your blog/book! And I believe some other readers have left comments about other places you might want to look at to hide away for a while.

  27. Paul

    Nothing better than having people you don’t know buy your products. Anytime you follow your passion and turn hobby into vocation, one of the greatest problems is that it is all so personal that something not selling the way you think turns into a major rejection from the whole world. You expect your mom to pick up a copy, but when Jane Smith in Casper, Wyoming orders, you think, “Wow, people really dig what I do!” I can relate to that confidence boost, and appreciate the idea to keep that one anonymous person in mind. Thanks Earl, and Happy Journeys!

  28. Forest Parks

    I’ll be honest Earl, seeing how your stories had reached so many was part of the reason I finally jumped on my travel site. I loved reading your stories and felt that in time I would be able to build up a fair few of my own that I would like to share.

    I have had very high trafficked blogs in many niches but they all started with the jubilation of one comment from one person.

    My travel site is still small but I really love seeing every comment even though they are not flooding in.

    1. Wandering Earl

      Hey Forest – That’s great to hear and if you still get excited about the comments, as I do too, you’ll be even more motivated to continue writing content that hopefully attracts more readers!

  29. Gilbert

    Amazing thoughts about this Blog … inspiring. Your Blogs are always welcome into my world. I find them inspiring and motivating. Soon I’ll be free from commitments and one of my goal ”to do list” is to meet you and listen to your travel experiences. Life is a journey and life is beautiful. Have a great day my friend.
    Gilbert

  30. Passport Dave

    Great post WanderingEarl! The one person rule is spot on in so many occasions in life. When encountering tough times and many obstacles it is easy to be thrown from your goals. However, when you continue to see the success story of another just like yourself, it becomes much easier to gain back that motivation and meet the goals in life you had once only dreamed of.

    It is this exact site in fact that has inspired me to get out there and travel. After I first came across WanderingEarl.com, I realized that it was possible if you had the drive. Fast forward to today and I now have a one way plane ticket booked to Thailand routing through Hawaii and Guam for some nice detours.

    Once again, another amazing article and I hope more people realize that anything is possible and made even easier by finding that one person who has already succeeded.

  31. Anita @ No Particular Place To Go

    I first stumbled across your blog when I began researching how we (my husband and I) could change our lives so that we could retire early to become perpetual travelers. Before your blog I hadn’t realized that there were so many other, “mainstream” people who wanted to jump off the treadmill. We’ve been on the road ten months now starting in Play del Carmen taking a TEFL Cert course (a huge thanks to your posts). We started writing our own blog a couple of months ago so we also know how nice it is to know that someone is reading. Thanks for your posts and for sharing your experiences. Anita @ No Particular Place To Go

    1. Wandering Earl

      Hey Anita – It’s awesome to hear your story and that you’ve now been on the road for so long. Here’s to another 10 months of adventures!

  32. Owen

    This is so beautifully put Earl! I know of several people for whom you’ve been that person (I’m one of them) and I’m sure there are dozens, if not hundreds, more. Thank you! 🙂

  33. Mike (Nomadic Texan)

    Earl,
    Being a rookie and having gone through this scenario, I completely get it when you mention the “One Person Rule”! I remember every first from my blog and how excited each item made me. I am a little older than you so I didn’t run around the room giving high fives, but I did stroll around it! Ha! Thanks for sharing senor!
    Mike

    1. Wandering Earl

      Hey Mike – I was thinking that as I got older, I might end up giving more high fives to even more imaginary people…glad to know your mind is still functioning so well 🙂

  34. Wil @ Where's Wil

    Every day the world becomes more and more flat. Technology lets us learn and share.

    It’s amazing how blogs inspire people to do amazing things when 20 years ago, those people felt alone.

  35. Debby

    Really inspiring blog post Earl! I’ve come to know a lot of people through blogging but the travel blogs really attracted me so I guess that was the first step. Now I’ve reached the point I’m actually planning my first own backbacktrip 🙂

  36. Andrea Rice

    Hi Earl!
    Thanks for writing this….I am currently in the process of turning my writing (blogging) and traveling hobby into a career….and know all too well that some days the doubts can sink in, but in the back of my mind I know its possible, and your blog is a great reminder of that….the true gem of this article is the idea of giving something away from home, and taking the memories and the trip with you….I will try this on my upcoming trip to Honduras…..I like the idea that we can leave our mark on a location, people, and places, and vice versa. It’s how the world stays interconnected. 🙂

  37. Michele

    maybe the theory build it and they will come works with blogs too 🙂 I had a look at your page about throwing things away. We host couchsurfers and many turn up at the train station laden with a backpack, front pack and then a shopping bag in each hand…..does my head in I just don’t know how they get around at all carrying all that crap 🙂 We are light travellers and hope to be nomads soon with roughly 8kgs each time will tell if it is possible.

  38. Indrani

    So interesting and so true! I think definitely magic starts to happen when you believe it can… I know so many times that I felt something was so out of reach, so impossible, and then it turns out it wasn’t even a big dream at all to start with! It wouldn’t hurt for all of us to dream bigger, even when we think it’s crazy. I’ve seen what you’ve said in other ways in other places, but I like how you’ve said it – I really think the whole “one person rule” thing is not a bad idea at all to let take hold of your mind 🙂

  39. jennifer

    I too got so excited when I got my first “not a friend” responsse on one of my posts. Same with my first Facebook like.

    I like the “one person rule”. I had been encouraged by a lot of my friends to start a blog because they love my writing style. But yet, they are not really giving me much support in terms or comments and stuff. I had to realize that up until now, my “writing style” was left to things we had in common. Traveling though, is a subject they are probably sick of reading. So I have to use the “one person rule” as an inspiration to continue.

    1. Wandering Earl

      Hey Jennifer – Don’t worry about such support because at the end of the day, your family and friends aren’t really your audience. Concentrate on helping others who are not sick of reading but who are very interested in learning as much as possible about travel.

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