• Nicolas Cole Featured Contributor.

What do digital marketers and modern day entrepreneurs have in common with headset-screaming, viciously competitive professional gamers?

Way more than you know.

When I was 17 years old, I became one of the highest ranked World of Warcraft players in North America. My dream was to compete on the big stage. I also had one of the first e-famous gaming blogs on the Internet with over 10,000 daily readers. My goal was to both compete and be a journalist in the still infant (but soon to be big) industry of professional gaming.

This was long before the golden era of YouTubers and Twitch streamers hit the scene, back everyone thought blogging was a “trend” and nobody thought you could make a respectable living online—especially in gaming.

10 years later, I can confidently say that the entrepreneurial lessons I learned through competitive gaming gave me the foundation for the digital nomad life I now live as a writer and personal brand consultant. In fact, I just published my first book on the topic, titled, Confessions of a Teenage Gamer. And on top of that, I am launching an online course through a new startup in the gaming scene, LVLUP Dojo, teaching aspiring professional gamers how to build their own personal brand online.

What lessons, exactly?

1. See Yourself In The 3rd Person

Gamers have an incredibly innate ability to brand themselves on the Internet. Look at any well-known gamer and browse their social pages, and you’ll see a level of personality most successful entrepreneurs can barely manage to create for themselves. Gamers know the value of having their headers look professional, or clever, or visually engaging. They know how to take mean comments from their social channels and turn them into hilarious memes that work to their advantage. Gamers know how to turn themselves into a character.

This is what you need to do for yourself, as an influencer and thought leader. What is your character? How do you want to be perceived, especially online? How can you sculpt that image of yourself to be one that vibes with your intended audience?

2. Understand What Your Audience Is Looking For

The truth is, personal branding online is a game. Social media is a game. It’s a game of engagement, of attention, of who can create stuff worth looking at, watching, reading, sharing, ‘liking,’ etc.

In order to “win” at this game, you have to have a very firm understanding of what it is your audience wants/is actively looking for. You have to try out so much content that you begin to have data to steer your decisions. You have to study your audience’s behavior, and pick apart patterns or trends within the content they engage or don’t engage with.

Social media and digital marketing is a game.

3. Study Your Competition

In competitive gaming, you would never go into a fight or a match unprepared. Every competitive gamer knows the value of relentlessly studying their competition.

The same goes for digital marketing. You have to spend a considerable amount of time studying what the other people in your space are doing so that you can do it better. What content of theirs is most popular? What types of content can you steal for yourself? What are they doing that you could do better? How can you tap into their audience? Or how can you collaborate with your competition in a way that helps you both win?

4. Growth Hacking Is Essential

In every game, there are rules that players are supposed to follow, and then there are the rules you realize you can break and use to your benefit.

Any and every digital platform operates the same as a video game. It has certain parameters, and the players that study those parameters obsessively learn how to use them to their advantage. For example, the most popular growth hack for people looking to quickly build their social followings is to follow/unfollow a ton of accounts. Obviously this wasn’t the “intention” of Instagram or Twitter, etc., but it is a way to use the “rules” of the platform to your advantage.

Every platform has these sorts of hacks. Sometimes, growth hacking is simply grinding out boring tasks such as commenting on a million different photos or videos. But at the end of the day, it’s all about learning the rules of the platform—and then learning how to break them.

5. Consistency Wins In The End

All gamers know the pain and agony that comes with what are called “daily quests”—assignments in the game that must be performed, yes, daily. Like chores.

However, as boring as they might be, they also cultivate a certain work ethic that many digital marketers and entrepreneurs struggle to cultivate in themselves—consistency. Everyone has a hard time with consistency, because in some way, shape, or form, it is boring. Doing something day after day after day becomes repetitive, and it takes discipline to be able to execute effectively despite the fact.

All the successful digital entrepreneurs out there know the value of consistency. Their success didn’t come “overnight.” It came after weeks and months and even years of hitting the pavement every single day. This is arguably the most important lesson I learned first-hand through gaming as a teenager.Opinions expressed here by Contributors are their own.

Nicolas Cole is a writer and essayist, and Top Writer on Quora with over 10,000,000 views. His work has been published in Time, Forbes, Fortune, Inc., The Huffington Post, Business Insider, and more. He is a columnist for Inc Magazine and is best known for writing true stories about self-development. You can follow him on Twitter @Nicolascole77