If you could speak to the brains behind the TED Talks videos, Google's Webmaster community, my.barakobama.com, the Net's most successful advertising entrepreneur, and a celebrity Tweeter with some 5 million followers, what do you think they would advise?

Not what you'd expect.

For our book Pioneers of Digital, we met the innovators behind those and 15 other groundbreaking pioneers to ask them the secrets of their success. We discovered that their stories and approach to their work had much to do with their success as their ideas.

In their words, we traced their journeys and asked them what advice they would share with others who are aiming to emulate their success.

During the process, we also established 10 lessons that those pioneers identified as key ingredients of becoming a digital pioneer.

1. You don't have to be original, just relevant 

Gurbaksh Chahal, the entrepreneur who went from selling printers online at 16 to becoming a pioneer of online ad space, is forthright in his view that new online businesses need to adapt existing ideas, but must make them better, and they must be more agile to market responses.

Customers need to understand your business first, so see what people are already doing that works, and do it better. Then introduce your new ideas. You first need traction on what people are already doing—existing behaviors, existing products.

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image of Paul Springer

Professor Paul Springer is head of research at Buckinghamshire New University in the UK. He advises communications firms, regulatory bodies, and educators in the UK, US, China, and Saudi Arabia. He also authored Ads to Icons.

Twitter: @drpaulspringer

image of Mel Carson

Mel Carson is founder of Seattle-based digital consultancy Delightful Communications, which helps businesses and individuals understand and successfully apply social media, digital PR, and personal branding strategies. He's co-author of Pioneers of Digital and the US brand ambassador for Majestic, a publicly available link intelligence database and toolset for marketing, advertising, and PR professionals.

Twitter: @melcarson