Most writers, and most entrepreneurs I’ve met, go through periods of discontent and even depression related to self-worth. There are real difficulties in creating something “successful” or “meaningful.” Have you had trouble with the business blues, or the creative crashes?
I know I’m not alone. Thankfully I am usually able to snap out of my funk or escape any panic pretty quickly.
To get back on track, I have to remember I am doing the best I can under the circumstances, and I have to trust myself with my priorities. When I get that mental framework right, thing shape up and I feel better.
I am lucky, I think, to be an optimist. Also, I have a real relationship of value with my audience. Not to mention my family. And trees–yep that’s me>>
(If you’re new here, welcome! Please stick around. I have the occasional life-changing epiphany to share. The tree hugging is only a side thing. But come on, how awesome is that tree? I had a nice Florida vacation.)
Anyway, lately I’ve been struggling with the knowledge that I have a small audience. Small for a blogger, small for a salesperson, and most of all, small for a helpful messenger.
I guess I was willing to tolerate that as a natural state for a year or so, but now it’s been at least that long and I’m getting tired of it.
And a little frustrated.
And sometimes, scared.
Because I’m working so hard! What if this is all it amounts to?
What It Is
My ego is telling me this can’t be right, “it” should be different. I WANT it, sometimes desperately, to be different. But nonetheless: it is what it is.
Do I deserve more reach, shares, money, etc.? Is it about quality, output… KARMA?
Reading all that back, I wonder if I’m starting to sound angry or greedy or ignorant even.
If you have read my 30-Minute CopyMaster book, you know what I mean. I try not to let any of those doubts slip into my copy (or yours!). It’s not good for business, if you want to serve your customers and last a good, long time.
So this post is only to commiserate and let you know, yep, at times I feel this way, too. Think about it: I write terrific copy for terrific clients, and they have amazing products or services, plus beautiful websites or tons of technical ability, and so on. I love it.
But often, they are doing much better than I am with audience, sales and growth. Or, they are starting up, and will fast outpace me. Or the amount I need to charge for what they get is not the amount they are able or willing to pay, so they don’t become clients at all.
So. What’s to love about that?
Well, first of all I have been able to directly help many of my readers, whom I literally feel true affection for. And I have been thanked, personally. This love fest has been enabled by my baby steps online, which has given me close access to my small audience.
I’ve made mistakes, and pivots, too. I know it’s been easier to turn this light little raft around instead of a Titanic of a site.
Sure, I wish I could do more, for more people, and meet my own goals in a more timely fashion. But that’s my story about my self-perceptions. We need to head back up to the top of this post to remember, I’m doing the best I can under the circumstances and…
…it is what it is. And that’s what I’m working with.
Don’t Be Greedy, Grasshopper
We want all these things, and that’s natural. We can work for them, and that’s fine, too.
The highest use of our skills and abilities is to benefit others.
So am I doing a lousy job if I’m not able to maximize my reach and capitalize on my skills in every single way?
The paradox is, we can’t attach ourselves to expectations of what exactly is going to happen when we do stuff. It simply doesn’t work that way.
Most of us follow examples of “success” online. It’s inspiring. We have a chance at anything we put right action behind. We can ask for what we want, or feel we deserve, and we can hope to get it, too.
Still. No outcome is guaranteed. The footprints of others aren’t an exact fit for anyone’s journey, and all our experiences will be our own. That’s why you can’t have an exact formula for writing, or marketing, or business, or life.
But you CAN cultivate a strong, enjoyable path for yourself in all these endeavors.
It’s all about relationships. And intentions.
For better and worse, richer and poorer, in sickness and in health, if you’re going to do this thing for the long term, you and your readers are going to have to love each other. That requires you to be well-intended and generous. Giving. Cuz love is a verb. (<<Tree hugger alert!)
The secret to great relationships (business or otherwise) is that they’re not really give and take. They’re give and give.
But when insecurities (and bills) start piling up, we can start to feel (and market) like business is for the taking. And we might not even realize it.
How Greed Reads
In The 30-Minute CopyMaster, I wrote this (condensed excerpts):
We’re definitely not opposed to making money! But it’s not about us.
What you can get for your offering is surely a business problem you must confront and solve. But it cannot show up in your marketing copy, which has the job of reinforcing a relationship of value to your audience.
The answer is to cultivate generosity in your messaging instead.
This changes sales pitches and pushiness into positive connections.
When greed shows up in your writing, it means your copy can’t let your value shine. Focusing on getting a sale (or a click) can create a “hard sell” and turn off your audience. When I do a copy sweep for clients, I help them remove any “greedy” copy tone and choose a more giving vibe. I suggest you master the:
A. Number of calls to action that require something from the reader, instead of offer something to the reader
B. Product and Service pages where Pay Now buttons and $Prices are the hero copy and outshine the benefits copy
C. Excessive opportunities to buy, especially early in the sales cycle, for example, on a homepage or in introductory copy
I have felt uneasy about my pen to ZEN work lately because I have not been cultivating generosity as much as I like, in the way I know is right for me.
For example, I’m still not sure about this slide-in sign-up form–what do you think? I also have hardly made time to post, or email. My priorities are so jumbled.
CopyMaster, heal thyself, then.
I need to get back on track. More posts! More support and advice! More bad puns; it’s been too long! And fewer demands. Because I love and respect you. Let’s hug!
It Works for Big Writers, Too
Just in case you don’t believe me about the generosity thing, I wanted to share a few links with you to show how the concept applies to other writers’ work, and how it leads to success for those who are willing to trust in goodness. And possibly be patient.
- From successful blogger, writer and coach Jeff Goins: What You Get from Giving: the Paradox of Generosity
- From prolific author, travel writer and public television host Rick Steves, How to Be a Travel Writer: Be a Generous Teacher of Travel, Not a Travel Agent
- Author and teacher John Gardner, who wrote the book On Becoming a Novelist considered an indispensable guide to the craft, states the need to write “generous fiction.” The opposite of this is described here:
Sound advice for marketing writers as well. What do you think, partner?