I am bringing love to a situation that I had deemed loveless many years ago.
I can, on occasion, recall expressing gratitude for the situation because it brought money into my bank account. But love? I don’t think so. I hated the guy’s guts.
Honestly, I don’t know whether love has a chance in this scenario. I have remained repressed and largely unexpressed in this client relationship, and that’s something I can take responsibility for. I have expressed my needs when it was urgent that I do so, but I have largely remained agreeable to any requests that have come across my desk, even if they were completely unreasonable. At this juncture, they are only becoming more unreasonable and even incoherent.
I can’t do that anymore. My finances have suffered. Last year, I filed for a consumer proposal. My health has suffered. Just this year, mid-October to mid-November was specifically tough, and I am still on the tail end of recovery.
Being fully self-expressed in this client relationship could mean arguments. It could mean setting boundaries. It could mean the end of a workable working arrangement. I have already put my notice in for the end of December.
But that’s what bringing love to the situation looks like right now. Being honest and truthful about my needs. Being clear about what I’m willing to do and what I’m unwilling to tolerate.
I have enjoyed helping many people build their careers and businesses to this point. But many times, I have sacrificed myself to do that. And it’s not fair to me. Love has been missing there too. I have failed to recognize myself.
For the first time in a long time, I can see the insanity cycle at work, and love was the missing piece. And I’m tired of banging my head against the wall, trying to make a dent in the Universe where I am not appreciated, respected, or valued.
But I am not just bringing love to myself. I am bringing love to my client also. Because sometimes love is letting people know when they’re egomaniacal and bat-shit insane (in the kindest manner possible).
You need at least one backup channel should one fail you. And remember – one or more channels will fail you eventually.
The same can be said for monetization. Many businesses rely heavily on advertising and affiliate marketing (how many times have these revenue streams been impacted by changes from high up?) and haven’t built other revenue streams.
Complete Lack of Relationship Building and Audience Nurturing
When you’re focused on “traffic,” you’re focused on numbers.
300 visits today. 100 visits tomorrow. 400 visits the next day. And so on.
And the thing we forget is that there are real people behind these numbers.
I’m preaching to myself as much as anyone else when I say this, but:
If you don’t take the time to build relationships, nurture your audience, and genuinely care about the people you’re serving…
Your precious “traffic” will start looking for alternatives. People have too many choices nowadays.
Author Dan Kennedy says the greatest sin in marketing is being boring.
So, in your audience nurturing efforts, you can’t afford to be sending nothing but “Hey, there’s a new post on Conceited Guru Self Aggrandizing Fest .com). You’ve got to mix things up and keep it interesting!
And if you don’t have a passion for the audience you’re serving, please, do us all a favor and find yourself another business.
I know it’s hard to start over but understand that there are plenty of people who are more than deserving of the spotlight and have a genuine passion for the niche waiting in line to be noticed.
You can create content around every relevant keyword under the sun.
The question you’ve still got to ask yourself is…
Is there any business value in the keywords you’re targeting?
Some business owners I know gave up on the idea that the audience they’re targeting would ever respond to aggressive call to actions, so they’re perfectly content driving people to their site that may or may not take any action.
And when I say, “perfectly content,” what I really mean is they are shaking in their little booties wondering whether their precious businesses are going to collapse.
This is an easy problem to solve if you focus on personality rather than content, but we’ll talk about solutions later.
For now, let’s talk about the problem with no personality…
Zero Focus on Establishing Your Personality
Look, you don’t need to be the face of your business…
But someone or something does.
At the very least, you need a mascot.
Many creators get a little too focused on riding the content hamster wheel…
While doing nothing to establish their unique personality, interests, talents, strengths, and weaknesses with their fans, followers, and subscribers.
In a world rife with AI-generated content, humanness is going to reign supreme.
In a world where people can read, listen to, or watch anything from home, real-life experience is going to reign supreme.
Does your plan include human connection? Pressing flesh? Loving on your audience? Hosting live events?
Are you the kind of person people even want to meet?
No matter how hard you try, you can’t fool anyone. You’re not a superhero. You’re human. That’s what makes you relatable.
People are tired of hearing smart people ramble and would prefer to hear you speak authentically from the heart.
If you have no personality to share with others, of course, you’re going to end up having to rely on generating more traffic.
Sabotage is not as rare as you might be inclined to think.
Sure, casually disguised phishing emails are easy to ignore (although the scammers are getting cleverer)…
But if someone wanted to, they could launch a botnet attack against you, and you would have no way of tracing it back to the instigator (this happened to me).
It’s crazy what a little money can do.
Plus, any chucklehead could launch a negative SEO campaign against you, linking to your site from low-quality Private Blog Networks (PBNs) that Google has already blackballed.
If all your eggs are in one basket (e.g., SEO), you’re at greater risk than you might think. Because sabotage usually has a significant long-term impact.
Why Building a Following Needs to be The Focus
Building a following solves most if not all the problems “traffic businesses” have. Here’s why:
You Don’t Have to Hit the “Content Ball” Out of the Park
Many newbies think better content is what’s going to get them noticed.
True, you’ve got to focus on the content (specifically on your unique approach to it), but I have seen far too many entrepreneurs disappointed with the long-term results of trying to one-up their competition’s content to believe this is the way.
(Especially if they are copycatting content without adding any of their SOUL to it – Stories, Opinions, Understanding, and Lessons.)
The great thing about growing a following is that you won’t need to hit the “content ball” out of the park anymore. In the eyes of your audience, you can do no wrong.
There will be those who want to hear what you have to say, on just about any topic, simply because it’s coming from you.
People can get a “top 10” listicle anywhere…
The one thing they can’t get anywhere else is YOU.
You’ll Know What to Create Next
If you have a following, they will tell you what they want from you next. At times, you won’t even need to ask!
Imagine not having to guess what your audience wants from you. Imagine not having to spend untold hours setting up a sales page or creating new offers only to be met with crickets…
And instead taking dozens or even hundreds of pre-orders on your next course because your fans, followers, and subscribers have told you what they want!
One of the reasons “traffic businesses” have trouble staying afloat is because their offers are based on what they think their audience wants, not on what audiences have specifically asked for.
How do some entrepreneurs make bank on small lists? This is how. They listen to their audience and act on the information available.
Virtually everything that’s a threat to a traffic business isn’t a threat to a “following business.”
Consider the following:
Tunnel vision? Not a problem, because people want to follow YOU, and they will follow you on their favorite channels. Even if one of your accounts gets deleted, you’ll have others to fall back on.
No intent? It’s all good. Not every piece of content you create needs to be focused on intent. If you prioritize relationship building and audience nurturing, your followers will buy from you, even if you don’t do content perfectly, sometimes without prompting. Trying to sell too aggressively might even hurt you.
Sabotage? It’s okay, you’ll get by. Even if your website goes down during a launch, your followers will be like, “Oh my god, her site got flooded with traffic and it shut down!” You’ll become a legend. Your followers will DM you via social media and check in to see if everything’s okay, which is another valuable touchpoint you can leverage.
Don’t think in terms of traffic. Shift your mindset. Think in terms of people, of human beings, of individuals just like you who have wants and needs.
People don’t care how much you know until they know how much you care. So, orient your marketing message around the people who are taking time out of their days to check out your stuff.
Remember – everyone wants to feel important. Everyone wants to feel like they matter.
In a time when most people are struggling with health, finances, and relationships, if you can be a beacon of light, you will build a business that matters to others. And that will solve your traffic problem.
Spirit has brought to my attention that, even with an experiment that’s been designed around love and positivity, there are some potentially toxic downsides to it that I hadn’t originally thought of.
This is not necessarily a bad thing. Experiments are like that. You try, you learn. You fail, you learn. You succeed, you learn. It’s part and parcel of the process.
I cannot and will not diminish all the amazing things that have already happened on this journey so far, much of which I attribute to a) surrendering, and b) being rather than merely doing. Getting to be, especially in the last month or so, has been one of the greatest gifts in my life.
But reflecting on the possible downsides of the experiment has been giving me some pause.
The Invisible Stress of Failing Publicly
Stress is invisible, I know, so maybe the expression is a little redundant.
But as I’ve already shared, I have not been doing this experiment perfectly. I kicked it off at a time when I was just beginning to recover from burnout, and I’m not completely over it yet. I don’t think I have had any all-out dicey days, but I have had some dicey moments.
If I had started this experiment at my physical and mental best, failing may have held considerably less significance for me.
But right now, I don’t need more stress in my life, and I didn’t know that failing you was something that could weigh on me.
To be fair, failure was not something that was explicitly defined in the beginning. It would be more accurate to say that I haven’t been following all the rules I laid out for myself all the time.
But it is a potential downside to an experiment that was supposed to be healing and joyful. Feeling guilty for my stumbles isn’t going to produce healing or joy.
“Positive” to the Exclusion of “Negative”
This was never supposed to be a “positive thinking” experiment contrary to what the title might lead you to believe.
It was more based on the idea that the Universe responds to everything we think and feel, so all things being equal, better to dwell on the “uplifting, inspiring, and informative” versus the fluffy or negative.
Of course, life presents us with people, circumstances, and events that occur to us as positive, negative, or shades of grey in between all the time. How we define good or bad is up to us, but one inescapable truth of life is things happen. They just do.
Life tends to be more enjoyable when we feel good. And it is even possible to train ourselves to view potentially negative events as positive. But thoughts do not negate circumstances.
When I stop to think about it, the most inspirational moments in life are the ones where someone had to rise out of hardship, challenge, or adversity. In that sense, such events aren’t necessarily “bad,” but they can appear that way initially.
I don’t necessarily have the answer. It would be a cop-out to say, “Life is always in balance” or “Life is always in harmony,” but that is the closest thing to truth I can muster as I contemplate what “uplifting, inspirational, and informative” really means.
Ultimately, you never know what people, events, and circumstances might turn out to be “uplifting, inspiring, and informative” when they didn’t appear that way at the outset.
The above realizations don’t discourage me. Rather, I feel like I’ve discovered something about myself I’ve been unaware or unconscious of. I even feel like I may have understood a deeper spiritual truth.
I need to give myself some grace for being imperfect, and for doing this experiment imperfectly. It would be amazing if I managed to pull it off without effort, but then would it even be worth doing?
It has also occurred to me that these missteps are part of the journey – they are supposed to happen, so my life is reflected back at me like a mirror. I get to see how I do things and why. And there is much to be learned from that.
So long as there are things wanting to emerge out of this experiment, I’m going to keep going. And for the time being, more things are emerging.
I get it. The Medium community is trying to be helpful. But sometimes it’s a little toxic.
Out of nowhere, people come and mark up your writing like they were the master editor of all master editors.
“Comma here, bad spelling here, missing ‘to’ here…”
Or they tell you that you shouldn’t hit a carriage return after every sentence, because, let’s face it, their reading preferences are far more important than anyone else’s.
Give me a better explanation. I’m willing to hear it. But I’ve read W3C’s website and what they have to say on the matter, and they say to use short sentences and paragraphs to improve usability and accessibility.
So, before you get too carried away, oh mighty overstudied grade three English teacher, let’s set a few things straight.
English is Not English
The first time I saw the word “mum” I was sure it was slang or a misspelling. But I did some research, and I stood corrected – that is the accurate spelling in the UK.
American, Canadian, and Australian English all have certain nuances. I know because as a ghostwriter of hundreds if not thousands of blog articles, I’ve had to navigate these differences at times.
Your cereal box AI writing assistant may have told you otherwise, but to the audience I was writing to, I was using the correct spellings.
Never, ever, ever become too reliant on machines to tell you what good writing is. That’s plain lazy and often objectively false. And it fails to consider the audience. Which brings me to my next point…
I have been in the music business for a long time. I write to my audience in a particular way, because of what I know about them. And I have received many compliments for my work.
Understand – I would not write the same way to people reading a book about psychology, for example.
So, if I sneak in a creative sentence or two, don’t be alarmed! It could be that I’m creating a connection with my audience, or it could also be that I’m intentionally getting my readers to stop and think about what I just said.
You can’t write the way everyone else does and expect to get different results. You’ve got to interrupt patterns to stand out.
There is more intentionality behind the way I write than you might be inclined to think. Again, I’m a seasoned ghostwriter for industries and niches too numerous to mention, so why shouldn’t that be the case?
On occasion, I have also been known to share a work in progress on Medium, pieces that have yet to be polished to the nth degree. I should not be made a martyr for that!
Writers Should be Allowed to Take Creative Liberties
What is English, if not one of the most flexible languages in existence? If we truly want our writing to stand out, why shouldn’t we let ourselves go a little crazy from time to time?
As history has shown, language is not some set-in-stone, set-and-forget thing. The way we talk and the words we use is continually evolving.
I had to look up “AF” and “SMH” when everyone and their dog started using these texting abbreviations like they were hotter than the latest Taylor Swift track. Because I could give a crap about trends.
The point is – what is considered an incorrect sentence one day suddenly becomes the most hauntingly beautiful the next.
I’m not saying that one should break the language. I think basic conventions are well worth following.
But don’t you let yourself go crazy from time to time? Haven’t you ever attempted to craft the weirdest sentence you could?
You should give it a try sometime. It’s liberating.
Look, I understand that some of you truly are trying to be helpful. I assure you your work is appreciated by some members of the community.
You may still want to consider who you’re criticizing before you do it though.
I am in no way saying I’m beyond reproach but as the self-published best-selling author of seven books and thousands of blog articles, I have a good handle on what works and what doesn’t.
(It’s amazing how many people don’t even understand the topics they’re writing about…)
I do enlist the help of a capable editor when I need it, but as an editor myself, I do have the ability to self-edit, and you won’t find too many writers who can do that well.
So, kindly find another article to lambast. I’m doing just fine, thank you very much.
This past Sunday, I completed my two-year intensive leadership program. I must admit it was a little anti-climactic, but I’m happy to be done and I’m starting to settle in for a couple of low-production weeks (most of my time will be – and already has been – dedicated to laying in bed).
As I’m starting to find my personal equilibrium again (though gradually), I thought a productive use of this space might be to share some of the “inspiring, uplifting, or informative” videos I’ve been watching and what I’ve been getting from them.
If I have any massive breakthroughs or “aha” moments I will be sure to share those with you too, of course, though I’m embracing more and more that healing (healing of the mind, the body, past trauma, etc.) can be a gradual thing.
I’m all for miracles, and I’ve already experienced many in the last 23 days, but I am also surrendered to the sometimes-necessary journey to recovery.
Habits of the Rich
This was bar none the best video I watched recently:
In it, Ralph Smart shares five (six) habits of the rich, which are as follows:
The rich create twice as much as they consume. They focus on service and giving back, not on the money. This was my favorite insight, but that probably doesn’t surprise you. After all, I love making things.
The rich don’t keep all their money in the bank. They invest in themselves, in tools, in real estate, and so on. I continue to invest heavily in myself, but after watching this video, I also feel like I have permission to invest more in my passions.
The rich prioritize their health. They prioritize their health so they can spend more time creating wealth. This has literally been my top priority in the last month or more.
The rich associate with movers and shakers. They surround themselves with people who can help them, especially mentors and teachers. Thanks to the previously leadership program, more than ever, I am surrounded by successful people, willing collaborators, and loving mentors.
The rich are lifelong learners. They always want to learn more. They realize that one insight can take them to the next level. And wouldn’t you know it, I learned something from this video!
The rich work smart. And they even work on the weekends. They are willing to put in the time to become masters of their craft. I have not yet found a way to do this in a healthy, sustainable way, but I’m open to learning.