• Has This Ever Happened to You?

    I’ve seen it a million times. Someone makes a thing. Then they decide they want to share this thing with other people. So they start a business to sell the thing.

    But that’s all they do.

    A few months later, they announce, “My business didn’t work. Oh well.”

    News flash: you didn’t start a business. You made a thing. If you don’t tell people about your thing, they aren’t going to magically know about it and come find you.

    Yes, the internet and social media have made marketing a piece of cake. But you still have to DO SOMETHING.

    That movie where the guy said, “If you build it, they will come?” It was a story about ghosts. It’s not real. Even the luckiest people whose businesses “just took off out of nowhere” did something.

    You have to do marketing.

    A lot of creative people say they hate marketing. But marketing isn’t being a greasy, deceitful, slithering reptile who seduces people into buying what they don’t need or want. Marketing is telling your audience what you have, what’s great about it, and where they can get it. It doesn’t have to be all underhanded and sneaky and gross.

    Matter of fact, when your marketing is honest and transparent, it’s the best marketing in the world!

    (And if you really cannot bear the idea of talking to your audience, hire someone to do it for you. Sorry, kids, but you can’t sell to people with whom you don’t communicate. So get over yourself or get someone to do it for you. And that “someone” can be your best friend, your teenage kid, …anyone. They don’t have to be on the payroll at Young & Rubicam to get your info out there.)

    I know. I know. “But I don’t want to be pushy.” You’re not being pushy. You’re telling people what you’ve got. Maybe they’ve been looking for what you’ve got. You’re doing them a favour!

    “If it’s good, word will get around.”

    Yes. Word will get around. But you have to start that process. You have to put the word out there in the first place.

    If you want my advice (so happy you asked!), if you have the idea now, I would start talking about it. Talk on Facebook. Post on Instagram. Make videos for YouTube. Just talk about your idea. Talk about what you want to do. Don’t worry that it’s not a perfectly formed idea yet. People LOVE to feel that they were there “at the beginning”, when you were just starting out. And everyone loves insight into your creative process.

    Talk about your thing. Write passionately about it. Or make videos about it. Or post things on Pinterest. Set up an email list to tell people when you have new things. Interact with people about your thing. Do it by just being honest.

    Before you know it, you will have an audience.

    There is another word for audience. It’s “market”. When you have a bunch of people interested in your thing, you have created a market for your thing.

    Now you can sell your thing to people who want it.

    Don’t make the mistake that your thing has to be a product in the traditional sense of a product, like a thing on a shelf in a store. It could be a book or a song or a video series of you reading Jane Austen novels in silly voices. It could be something you’ve made but also something you’ve thought. It could be personal advice. It could be emotional support. It could be positive reinforcement. It could be a book or it could be a subscription to forthcoming chapters. It could be a song or a membership to a music channel. I’m sure there are a million things I haven’t listed. I’m sure there are a ton you can think up yourself.

    But you need an audience first. So start building that audience now. Your audience might even help you figure out what to sell!

    But don’t get discouraged when you don’t have a 10,000-member Facebook group after six months of daily posting.

    Remember this rule of thumb:

    It takes 2 years to build an audience.
    It takes 5 years to make an income.

    I didn’t make those numbers up. Those are proven time frames. But I have tested those numbers over and over again and they ring pretty true. Two years for an audience. Five for an income.

    Also good to remember:

    Overnight success takes on average about 10 years.

    Have a good one, peeps!

    Photo by oldskool photography on Unsplash


    Great advice! And I can speak from experience that doing Jane Austen stories in funny voices is the best thing ever.