My Best Articles from 2020

My Best Articles from 2020

In late December 2019/early 2020, I started reviving DavidAndrewWiebe.com.

It was never entirely “dead” per se. I continued to update it with my latest music and shows through the years. But something inspired me to pick up the slack and start building out the site again.

That is another story for another time, but suffice it to say, 2020 was a big year for my personal website and blog. Especially since I started publishing daily towards the end of July.

Here, I’d like to share what I think are my best articles from 2020.

What is a Personal Assistant?

Read What is a Personal Assistant?

Early year, I started receiving a variety of questions relating to entrepreneurship and business. So, I started answering them on my blog. If people were asking for it, then there must be a demand for it, or so I thought.

And with this article, I felt I was able to answer the questions thoroughly and concisely.

How to Generate More and Better Ideas

Read How to Generate More and Better Ideas

It’s not about how good ideas are. It’s about how well you execute against them.

This is true, and there’s no value in just being an idea person. At the same time, ideas can foster inspiration. And that can lead to breakthroughs in your work. So, you can’t underestimate the value of ideas. Just remember to store them or use them. Otherwise, they’re of little use.

Why You’re Not Achieving Your Goals

Read Why You’re Not Achieving Your Goals

A simple, concrete, hard look at why people don’t achieve their goals. Hint: It’s not because they didn’t set SMART goals.

First, you must set your goals. Second, your goals must be written down. Third, you need to create a strategy to accomplish your goals. And finally, you must action your strategy.

Have a read through the article for more detail.

Killing Marketing by Joe Pulizzi & Robert Rose Book Notes

Read Killing Marketing by Joe Pulizzi & Robert Rose Book Notes

I do quite a bit of reading, and one of the ideas I was beginning to explore early year was publishing my book notes. Based on how this piece turned out, it makes me think I should do it more.

Killing Marketing was an interesting read. Mainly because I didn’t find much value in it until I reached the middle chapters. Which makes me glad that I started speeding through the introductory chapters to get to the better ones.

First Step to Building Excitement for Your Music Release – Issuing the Release

Read First Step to Building Excitement for Your Music Release – Issuing the Release

This post was an outgrowth of my interest in project management. And even though I’m not sure all musicians understand just how useful and powerful issuing their release is, if they want to learn the ins and outs, there’s always this article.

How to Make Viral TikTok Videos to Build Your Music Career

Read How to Make Viral TikTok Videos to Build Your Music Career

You’ll often find me experimenting with social media. That said, I rarely deviate from my core focus, and this year, that’s Medium, Twitter, and to a lesser extent, YouTube.

Still, I felt it important to cover this timely topic for musicians, especially while I was still publishing my experimental newsletter, Music Career Tips Weekly last year.

How to Get Your Live Streaming Concert Game Down Pat

Read How to Get Your Live Streaming Concert Game Down Pat

This was another timely piece aimed at musicians. Since the live music industry was (and continues to be) affected by COVID-19, I felt it important to highlight tactics musicians could action to grow their music career, even in 2020.

Beginner’s Guide to Affiliate Marketing for Musicians

Read Beginner’s Guide to Affiliate Marketing for Musicians

As creators we’re often quick to say, “the money doesn’t matter.” But when push comes to shove, we quickly come to the realization that making a living from our passion is not a sin.

Making a living from your passion is not a sin. Click To Tweet

In this guide, I share a simple, integrated way musicians can start making more money from activities they’re already engaged in.

You Were Only Ever Meant to be You

Read You Were Only Ever Meant to be You

In this short piece, I share a simple message on being your fully expressed, authentic self.

How to Create Systems as a Creative

Read How to Create Systems as a Creative

SYSTEM stands for “Save Your Self Time Energy and Money.” It’s a reality artists often aren’t too quick to embrace, but if they do, they’ll find themselves with more time, energy, and money to work on the things they care most about.

Alternative to Bandcamp, Nimbit & Gumroad?

Read Alternative to Bandcamp, Nimbit & Gumroad?

An article in which I highlight the value of Sellfy of which I am an affiliate. But honest to god, it’s an easy-to-use eCommerce platform for all creatives and creators.

How to Get a Booking Agent

Read How to Get a Booking Agent

After my podcast interview with Jack Forman of BiCoastal Productions, I put together this piece to highlight his and my perspective on getting a booking agent. It’s mostly written with musicians in mind, but even if you’re a dancer, actor, public speaker or otherwise, you will find this valuable.

4 Insidious Music Entrepreneur Myths Debunked

Read 4 Insidious Music Entrepreneur Myths Debunked

Here’s a post with a lot of attitude. I wanted to address some of the naysayers who don’t properly understand music entrepreneurship, which is exactly what I did in this popular piece.

Productivity in Music – Does it Matter?

Read Productivity in Music – Does it Matter?

At the time of its publishing, I boldly declared that this was the best piece I’d ever published on productivity. And you know what? I still stand by it!

Setting Goals for Your Music Career

Read Setting Goals for Your Music Career

A piece about the importance of setting big goals and how to make them a reality.

The Shiny Object is Often Just a Distraction in Music Entrepreneurship

Read The Shiny Object is Often Just a Distraction in Music Entrepreneurship

In this article, I share some of the most critical things a musician should know about money. These lessons were hard earned.

Why I Don’t Think 1 Cent Per Stream on Spotify is Going to Save the Music Business

Read Why I Don’t Think 1 Cent Per Stream on Spotify is Going to Save the Music Business

The title kind of says it all. But I cover several things that appear to be coming down the pike that creatives may not even be aware of.

Should I Start with a Single, EP, or Album for My First Release?

Read Should I Start with a Single, EP, or Album for My First Release?

There are certainly more than a few voices covering this topic. And opinions are quite diverse.

Here I share what I think is the best way for musicians to get started, because it creates more opportunity.

4 Myths That Stop Musicians from Building Their Team

Read 4 Myths That Stop Musicians from Building Their Team

I’m sure I’m not the only one that is sometimes stopped by the prospect of building a team. I’m a Sigma male through and through, and that goes a long way towards explaining my lone wolf tendencies. But I know I’m not alone.

This piece got quite a bit of traffic throughout 2020, and I think it’s a great tool for discovering where you might be stopped in collaboration and working with others.

The 4 Pillars of Success

Read The 4 Pillars of Success

This article will probably live on as an underrated, “oh that’s so obvious” kind of resource. But I still believe 100% it was divinely inspired. Spirit showed me what I didn’t understand about success. And I continue to return to these pillars when I feel lost.

Do Musicians Still Need a WordPress Site?

Read Do Musicians Still Need a WordPress Site?

This article is basically about sales funnels and tools you can use to build them. But the key takeaway here is threefold:

  1. Having a centralized website (funnel hub) that leads to all your funnels is still wise.
  2. Funnels don’t serve every type of customer. Some are even turned off by multi-step sales funnels that keep throwing more and more bonuses at them.
  3. Don’t just create funnels. Create products too. And sell them in a genuine, authentic, value-adding way.

What’s the Best Way to Get My Music Videos on Vevo?

Read What’s the Best Way to Get My Music Videos on Vevo?

Music videos aren’t just a great promotional tool. They can also help musician make money – directly, and indirectly.

Vevo is a well-recognized entity in the music video space, so it’s no surprise musicians want to know how to get their videos on Vevo.

YouTube Marketing for Musicians: An Up-to-Date Guide

Read YouTube Marketing for Musicians: An Up-to-Date Guide

I am sometimes asked what my best tips for YouTube are. I have a few channels with small, engaged followings, though I certainly wouldn’t say I’m the king of the Tube.

Still, my best advice for today is summed up in this guide, and it was inspired by people who are doing far better on YouTube than I am.

Getting Your Music Featured on Spotify Playlists

Read Getting Your Music Featured on Spotify Playlists

The mere mention of Spotify lights up musicians everywhere. And the fascination has a lot to do with widely publicized success stories (rare) and algorithmic exploitation (Spotify will be putting an end to that soon, if they haven’t already).

But getting playlisted is still worthwhile, and in this guide, I share some unconventional, outside the box techniques.

Making it to the Next Level

Read Making it to the Next Level

It’s human to want more. But the question that follows is, “how do I make it to the next level?” That’s what I elaborate on in this piece, from a spiritual perspective.

Stop Reinventing the Past

Read Stop Reinventing the Past

As creatives and creators, we tend to make ourselves look as good as we possibly can. We sugarcoat the past and glorify the present. Which is almost always coming from how we listen to others and wanting to look good or avoid looking bad.

I still contend that you can be successful in your chosen industry or niche by being fully authentic and genuine. There’s no need to constantly remind yourself of a horrific past, and the future is whatever you want it to be.

How to 4X Your Medium Traffic in 80 Days or Less

Read How to 4X Your Medium Traffic in 80 Days or Less

As noted earlier, Medium is a core part of how I’m building engagement right now. And in late October/early November, I started to see huge growth in traffic to my Medium articles. While this sudden surge didn’t last, I have held steady at about double the traffic I had before it happened.

So, in this article, I talk about several things you can do to grow your Medium traffic faster.

I’m Worried About Posting Too Often

Read I’m Worried About Posting Too Often

When I talk about publishing daily, inevitably there are those creatives and creators who feel like they would be overwhelming their friends, followers, or audience by posting so often.

Now, right now I can tell you that I probably tweet 30 to 40 times per day on Twitter. Not daily, but even on lesser days I probably tweet at least 10 times. So, that should tell you something.

Anyway, if you need a little perspective on this, have a read through this piece.

How I Accidentally Weaned Myself off Social Media

Read How I Accidentally Weaned Myself off Social Media

Now, in some ways this is the opposite of what I just said about posting more often. But the truth of the matter is that this is more a lesson in curating your social media feeds (a topic I promised to elaborate on in the future) than anything.

What’s the Best Funnel Builder?

Read What’s the Best Funnel Builder?

The best funnel builder, in my opinion, is the one that allows you to build an all-in-one website, membership site, course platform, forum, and more. Have a read through this article to find out what that is.

How Dare You Call Me “Unlimited”

Read How Dare You Call Me “Unlimited”

“How could you possibly say that I’m unlimited when everything is going wrong for me?”

It’s an odd question, and I’m not even sure it was sincere. But in this post, I look at how this is true, at least from a spiritual perspective.

Do You Still Make Music?

Read Do You Still Make Music?

Apparently, some people thought I was becoming all about my books. So, in this article, I wanted to address that.

But people found this commentary especially interesting. Maybe because it’s not the type of article you often see out there. Either way, that’s why I included it on this list.

Meditation – What Works for Me

Read Meditation – What Works for Me

Meditation became a major focal point for me, especially in the last few months of the year. So, I thought it prudent to cover my discoveries and thoughts on meditation at length.

The Mirror Principle

Read The Mirror Principle

The mirror principle is always at work. It’s the idea that our outer world is always a reflection of our inner world. Understanding this at a deeper level allows you to navigate life’s challenges with greater ease.

A Powerful Morning Routine I Stumbled on

Read A Powerful Morning Routing I Stumbled on

Although it’s fair to say I don’t follow this routine to a tee anymore, I still live some variation thereof. I have found exercise, meditation, and reading to be valuable in any routine I live out.

5 Simple Habits to Support Your Creativity

Read 5 Simple Habits to Support Your Creativity

This one ended up becoming a bit of a favorite too. Maybe because it’s a listicle?

But honestly, there are some good tips here. Have a look for yourself.

How to Get Your Side Hustle off the Ground

Read How to Get Your Side Hustle off the Ground

It’s not as complicated as you might think, and in this article, I cover exactly what’s involved in starting your own digital side hustle for some extra dough.

Priority vs. Productivity – Which is More Important?

Read Priority vs. Productivity – Which is More Important?

It’s possible to get many things done in a day. But what’s the point? If you can’t answer that question, then all you’re doing is getting things done.

But if you prioritize and put first things first in your day, you will achieve more of what’s important to you.

How to Boost Your Creativity with a Journal

Read How to Boost Your Creativity with a Journal

There is more than one way to use a journal, and it can be a powerful tool for boosting your creativity too. Find out how.

3 Ways to Stop Frustration & Keep Growing Your Business

Read 3 Ways to Stop Frustration & Keep Growing Your Business

When you become frustrated, it’s easy to stay frustrated. So, how do you get out of that harmful, unproductive cycle? That’s what I look at in this piece.

Why Blog? Here Are My 31 Reasons

Read Why Blog? Here Are My 31 Reasons

Seeing as how I publish daily this question is sure to come up sooner or later. I thought I would address it early.

How to Create an Irresistible Offer

Read How to Create an Irresistible Offer

There are offers and then there are irresistible offers. In this post, I cover several ideas that will help you make your offer more attractive to your audience.

7 Recommended Books for Self-Improvement

Read 7 Recommended Books for Self-Improvement

Self-improvement is an area I’ve been focused on since 2009. Naturally, I’ve read my share of books. In this post, I cover what I think are some of the better ones.

How to Overcome Perfectionism in Creativity

Read How to Overcome Perfectionism in Creativity

Something virtually every creative wants to know. Maybe some of my tips will help?

Final Thoughts

When I started rebuilding my website in 2020, I had no idea what it would grow into. But as I started gaining clarity and momentum, it became more obvious. And you can see from the about page as well as the projects page that I’ve been able to fill in the blanks along the way.

I’m excited for what 2021 holds, and the ways in which the site will continue to grow.

Which article was your favorite? What would you like to read more about?

Let me know in the comments.

The Music Entrepreneur Code paperback

Shh… Don’t tell anyone. Only the cool kids are talking about it.

Get your copy of The Music Entrepreneur Code.

Embrace the Imperfect in Your Creative Efforts

Embrace the Imperfect in Your Creative Efforts

Many creatives feel as though they can’t put anything less than perfection out in the world.

This shouldn’t come as much of a surprise when you consider how social media actively encourages this behavior. It constantly has us comparing our lives to those of others and their perfectly manicured profiles. And we make a lot of assumptions about how good they must have it. Much of this can happen at a subconscious level without us even noticing.

It would be wise to consider just how self-involved and insecure we’ve become. Because that makes us the perfect consumers. And we end up concluding that we can buy our way to happiness, or at the very least, momentary relief.

“If I just buy X, I will look better, feel better, be better…”

Creatives and creators often say that they want their work to mean something. That they do what they do because of those it has the potential to impact.

Consider how brave that is. Because in essence it’s saying, “I will show up for my audience and fulfill on my purpose and promises, even if I am not at my best. Even if it makes me look bad.”

The question is whether reality is matching expectation.

If you are waiting for everything to be perfect, it will never be.

If you are waiting for everything to be perfect, it will never be. Click To Tweet

And if you find yourself polishing your projects endlessly, then consider exactly how long that has gone on for.

“Done” and “perfect” are separate.

Experts often say, “you can’t change what’s already out in the world.”

To a degree, this is true. Whatever you’ve posted online will be stored in the cloud in virtual perpetuity.

But that doesn’t mean you can’t re-record your first album 10 years later. It doesn’t mean you can’t add another brush stroke to your painting. It doesn’t mean you can’t update your course after you’ve received some feedback from your audience.

It’s hard to appreciate the value of a minimum viable product (or minimum viable project) until you’ve published and tested it for yourself. My second book, The Essential Guide to Music Entrepreneurship was in fact a minimum viable product upon its release, and it continues to do well.

In the last few years, I have been embracing minimum viable, more than ever. And I find I get to 80% completion much faster. It helped me see that the remaining 20% is just makeup. And that makeup might make me feel better about the product, but may not make any difference to the people who’ve been waiting to consume it, engage with it, buy it or otherwise.

I have been embracing imperfection in my blogging efforts. I publish daily. This doesn’t mean I give myself permission to slouch on creating great content and editing. But I am aware that my some of my pieces could be another five to 10% better if I gave them more attention.

I see it as a question of whether I want to test many ideas to see which resonate or bet on a few that seem like amazing ideas.

Generally, what has worked for me is the former. Focusing on many ideas, and then whittling them down to a smaller subset of ideas that outperform the others.

I don’t take it for granted that I am a genius. I don’t think I am. If I am, it’s only because I continue to apply myself day in and day out.

Which is why I don’t bet on a few seemingly amazing ideas. I don’t think I’m here to invent the next Facebook.

Here’s another way to think about it:

Would there be more pain in publishing more, knowing it’s imperfect, but finding resonance sooner…

Or would there be more pain in only publishing what you deemed “perfect” and found no resonance whatsoever until much later?

For me, at least, there would be more pain in the latter.

I don’t publish daily thinking all my content will be consumed, engaged, or even appreciated. But I do it because I have it as my mission to inspire creatives and creators. And as far as I’m concerned, it’s the baseline requirement to be at the table.

You can publish perfectly, or you can publish. Oftentimes, they are distinct from each other.

The Music Entrepreneur Code paperback

Shh… Don’t tell anyone. Only the cool kids are talking about it.

Get your copy of The Music Entrepreneur Code.

Keeping Your Personal Productivity Private

Keeping Your Personal Productivity Private

You can get more done in less time. I don’t think this is lost on ambitious creatives and creators.

I continue to see new tweets, stories, and even courses revolving around having definite boundaries around one’s work schedule, and even keeping to four-hour workdays.

And I think it’s great that there is a growing anti-grind movement, or at the very least, pro-effectiveness movement. Personally, I think pro-effectiveness is the best way to think about it, since what you resist, persists (being anti anything tends to create more awareness for the very thing you’re resisting!).

Further, I like to differentiate productivity from effectiveness, where effectiveness is getting the right things done, and productivity is just getting things done. That difference is huge as applied to keeping your workdays shorter.

Something I’ve learned through experience, though, is to keep your personal productivity private.

Now, there’s nothing wrong with sharing about your productivity in a tweet, story, or course. If you’re trying to build credibility with your audience, you’d better be able to show them how you can get more done in less time. No one is going to believe if you don’t have evidential, or at the very least, anecdotal proof.

It’s with clients that we need to be more tactful.

I had an ugly situation unfold about a year ago, where a client was clearly more interested in how long I had worked on their project than the quality of work delivered. It may seem silly to freelancers, entrepreneurs, or those who live unconventional lives, but much of the world has operated on the traditional 9 – 5 model for a long time and it’s deeply embedded in culture. Evenings and weekends offer workers a rare escape from the soul-crushing corporate grind.

I have bucked convention at every turn, done things at my own pace, and have always taken my own approach to work and life. It’s the only way things have ever worked for me. So, you can see where there’s some tension.

But some people just care more about the hours you’ve dedicated to their project than how good of a job you did. Probably because they never get to work less than eight hours per day.

Which is also funny, because I don’t know too many freelancers, entrepreneurs, or unconventional lifers who haven’t done the 12- to 16-hour grind at times, to get a project done, to deal with a sudden influx in demand, or to put out fires. And that’s the part that most conventional workers don’t know about.

But whatever your processes are for getting things done faster, they should be considered proprietary. No mention of them should be made to your clients. Because this is what they are paying you for.

Whatever your processes are for getting things done faster, they should be considered proprietary. Click To Tweet

It doesn’t matter that you can bang out 2,000 words, design a logo, or put together a commissioned illustration in an hour or less. Only you (and potentially your students) need to know that. What clients want to know is you slaved and pored over their project. They want to know that it was given the proper attention and polish it deserved.

So, be strategic with who you reveal your personal productivity to. In most cases, there’s no value in disclosing such details to your clients.

The Music Entrepreneur Code paperback

Shh… Don’t tell anyone. Only the cool kids are talking about it.

Get your copy of The Music Entrepreneur Code.

5 Books I Read in 2020 That Made a Difference

5 Books I Read in 2020 That Made a Difference

If there’s something you want to learn, there are few activities as valuable as reading books.

Authors often share their best ideas and tips in their books. And considering you can get most books for about $20; you’d be hard pressed to find a more valuable resource.

Here I share five books that made a difference for me in 2020.

Killing Marketing by Joe Pulizzi & Robert Rose

Killing Marketing book

Joe Pulizzi is the author of Content Inc., one of my favorite business books. And Robert Rose, of course, has a long history with Joe Pulizzi, especially at Content Marketing Institute and with the PNR with This Old Marketing podcast.

And then you have the two teaming up to write a book. What could possibly go wrong?

Well, as I shared in my book notes on Killing Marketing about a year ago, the first few chapters seem to waffle endlessly on what is bound to be a forgone conclusion for forward thinking marketers. Pulizzi and Rose were clearly writing to traditional marketers who have yet to understand or embrace digital best practices.

The middle chapters are where the book delivered a goldmine of proven strategies, tactics, and ideas one could apply to their enterprise, or even their small independent business. From revenue streams to qualities that make an e-newsletter successful, there were multiple gems worth mining for. I just wish the book focused primarily on these, but as they say, the best part of a book is usually about an hour into it.

Killing Marketing (affiliate link) alerted me to aspects of digital monetization and marketing best practices I wasn’t even aware of. And it reminded me of key takeaways I already knew. I experimented with an e-newsletter in 2020, and my discoveries in this book served as the guiding light.

No B.S. Business Success in the New Economy by Dan S. Kennedy

No B.S. Business Success in the New Economy by Dan S. Kennedy

It’s because of No B.S. Business Success in the New Economy that I no longer judge Dan Kennedy books by their title or cover. This book is a veritable goldmine for entrepreneurs and independent creators, even though Kennedy’s target audience is primarily professionals.

What does it take to succeed in business? What is the mindset required? How should you think about relationships and connections as applied to ambition? How do you structure your inner circle? This book will answer every question posed and more.

About the only downside I can think of is that I wish I wrote the book. Because it will leave you feeling empowered and better equipped to handle any challenges that come your way.

No B.S. Business Success in the New Economy (affiliate link) should be on the bookshelf of any ambitious creative or creator and it should be devoured from cover to cover more than once.

Speak to Sell by Dan S. Kennedy

Speak to Sell by Dan S. Kennedy

You should only open your mouth when you are ready to sell.

You should only open your mouth when you are ready to sell. Click To Tweet

If I were to sum up legendary marketer Dan Kennedy’s Speak to Sell in a sentence, the above would be it.

This is not a how-to book. Kennedy doesn’t tell you how you can turn every presentation, radio interview, podcast interview, webinar, or otherwise into a money-making opportunity. But he tells you why you should approach every engagement that way.

When you understand just how disciplined Kennedy is about his work, and the lengths he will go to protect his personal productivity, it shines light on why Kennedy has always approached the opportunity to speak in this manner. He is always looking to maximize results from every effort, and he puts lesser entrepreneurs to shame with his work ethic and vigilance.

From Speak to Sell (affiliate link), I understood that there must be a purpose behind every public message you share. If there isn’t, you’re just speaking. But when you are clear on your intention, you are speaking to sell.

Sex Money Kiss by Gene Simmons

Sex Money Kiss by Gene Simmons

Kennedy’s Speak to Sell soon led me to Gene Simmons’ Sex Money Kiss. And it wasn’t long before I saw just how philosophically aligned the two are.

I don’t think any musician or creative can come away from Sex Money Kiss uninspired. When you understand that Gene Simmons considers himself lucky that he gets to make money at something he loves, and when he was first getting started, he was happy to be able to do it on evenings and weekends, you see that he’s far more pragmatic than he’s often given credit for.

Sex Money Kiss is not in the voice of a Rockstar who has conquered sexual and musical mountains. It’s in the voice of a caring father who wants to pass on his best advice about life. And there is far more content in the book than most readers would even suspect. Simmons puts some professional authors to complete shame (I read my share of awful books this year too, and one specifically was by a well-known marketer).

Simmons’ relationship and marital advice will be shirked by some readers. But Simmons is about the only figure who will help you understand that every decision you make is a monetary decision and that perspective is as valuable as it is rare.

Sex Money Kiss (affiliate link) reignited my passion. And it helped me see the world from a different perspective. It offered practical advice on how to structure my days and weeks. It helped me to see the financial implications of every decision I make, including relationship decisions.

Traffic Secrets by Russell Brunson

Traffic Secrets by Russell Brunson

Russell Brunson is infamous in the digital marketing world – for good reasons, and for not so good reasons.

But if you had read some of his earlier works, and thought to yourself, as I had, whether this man would ever find his stride as an authority, Traffic Secrets banishes any doubt from your mind.

Brunson makes a bold move here, as he now has in his catalog a book that will need to be updated at least every two to three years, as it specifically mentions platforms like Facebook, YouTube, Google, and so on.

If 2021 so far is any indication, there could be some massive upheaval in the social media space. Though I will withhold any specific comments as to what I see coming.

Regardless, Brunson is smart in clarifying that a) there are many sources of traffic available, b) traffic is platform driven, c) how we use these platforms is based on what’s working now (algorithm dependent), and d) you only need to focus on one channel to make seven-figures in your business. At the end of the book, he notes publishing daily and developing your Dream 100 connections is enough to cross that threshold.

After reading Traffic Secrets, you will get that if you’re engaged in digital marketing, there’s no need to reinvent the wheel. You can pick a suitable platform (based on your audience and the type of content you’re creating), learn its ins and outs, emulate people who are more successful than you are, and with persistence find traction on your chosen channel.

If you thought it was all upsides, I will say this – I kind of wish Brunson read my writing tips. There are some things about the way he writes that drives me insane. And that’s coming from someone who also doesn’t follow the rules 100% of the time.

With Traffic Secrets (affiliate link), I’ve been able to take my Medium, Twitter, and YouTube game to the next level. And those are the platforms I intend to focus on in 2021. If anything, I’m doing more with Medium and Twitter than YouTube.

Final Thoughts

My reading habit was on the uptick in 2020. But I’m looking forward to reading and discovering many more great books in 2021.

What will you be reading in 2021?

Do you have any recommended books?

Leave a comment and let me know.

The Music Entrepreneur Code paperback

Shh… Don’t tell anyone. Only the cool kids are talking about it.

Get your copy of The Music Entrepreneur Code.

How Content Marketing Works for Creatives

How Content Marketing Works for Creatives

There are different ways to promote your works.

But I don’t know of one artist who doesn’t need to promote their works, even if it’s just starting a mass movement among fans.

Content marketing is largely considered the “modern” way in the business world and it can be incredibly effective. But why is that? And can it work for creatives too?

How You View Content Marketing Shapes Everything

It has been my observation that some creatives don’t even like the term “content” let alone “marketing.”

If that’s where you get stuck, then rest assured no progress will be made, and you will not effort to understand content marketing let alone recognize its benefits, utilize, and profit from it (“profit” being another term that could leave a creative feeling uncomfortable). Perhaps it would be best to pursue other channels.

To tackle this mindset issue, though, it’s important to understand a few things:

  • Important ideas, through the ages, have been shared in the written word. If it was written before the printing press, and it has survived, it was clearly an idea worth keeping and spreading. Although I do not take it for granted that your content marketing efforts will land in the domain of blog posts, articles, or more generally the written word, the point is that content marketing is the sharing of ideas and knowledge.
  • Content marketing isn’t new. If you’ve ever engaged with a piece of direct mail, a newsletter, a magazine, or otherwise, you were the willing participant in content marketing, which predates the internet.
  • Content marketing is honest. It begins with relating to your target audience. Sharing about yourself, building rapport and trust. Talking about things that matter to your customer. Sharing valuable information that benefits their lives. Then, and only then, do you ask for their contact information, and eventually, the sale.

There are more points I could offer to convince you, but both you and I know you will not be sold on anything you don’t have an open mind about.

You will not be sold on anything you don't have an open mind about. Click To Tweet

So, I leave the rest in your capable hands, to do your research and to come up with your own conclusions.

What can Content Marketing do for Me?

People sometimes ask how it is that I drive traffic to Music Entrepreneur HQ or sell my books. And though some find it hard to believe, most of it was built on the back of content marketing in the form of blog posts, infographics, podcast episodes, and videos.

I’ve experimented with advertising, sure, and have done my share of Search Engine Optimization (SEO) work too. Although, let’s be honest – much of SEO is predicated on the publishing of fresh content.

If this is still a little abstract for you, then have a look at how Music Entrepreneur HQ has done traffic wise in the last 30 days or so:

Content marketing traffic

Sure, there was a rather obvious dip during the holiday season, but most days the traffic holds at 300+ visits per day, and even exceeds 400 some days. And this is largely based on work already done, not on the back of fresh content. Generally, I only publish once per week on Music Entrepreneur HQ these days.

If you don’t understand what 400 visits per day (or even just 200 visits per day) could do for you and your art, then I’m not sure I can help.

Why Content Marketing?

I saw others succeed with it. So, I thought to myself – “why not me?”

In 2007, I learned that Steve Pavlina had built an entire income on the back of blogging (no advertising). And in ensuing years, I learned about the likes of Darren Rowse, Pat Flynn, James Schramko, and many others who’d done amazing things with content.

I think what cemented it all for me was my reading of Content Inc. (affiliate link) by Joe Pulizzi, which still stands as one of my favorite business books. I was already knee deep into content marketing when I had read the book, but reading it made me present to the fact that the opportunity was even greater than I first thought it was.

Now, there are plenty of extraordinary claims about content marketing if you go looking for them. But I wouldn’t get too caught up in those, unless they offer actionable tips to help you improve your content. Generally, there are no shortcuts to success.

But if you stay consistent, continually improve, and publish on a set schedule, you will see results in six to 12 months.

This is exactly what many creatives don’t do, as they start and stop, and sometimes stop altogether after publishing once or twice.

It’s rare that anything works as rapidly as we wish it would, and if not done in a strategic way, content marketing will a) not work, b) attract the wrong audience, c) not build an audience whatsoever, d) disappoint people who started following you, e) not make you any money, or f) some or all the above.

Trust me, I know. I have made most mistakes you could name.

How to Make Content Marketing Work for You

You share your work, and people become interested in it. And that builds an audience. That’s the essence of content marketing.

If people don’t know who you are or what you do, it makes it much harder to gain them as subscribers or customers.

And that’s the “why” of content marketing, which is more important than the “how.”

But in this section, I offer some tips on how to execute.

Talk About What Your Audience is Interested in

If I’m starting to sound like a broken record, then remember that reinforcement comes through repetition.

Reinforcement comes through repetition. Click To Tweet

Learn as much as you can about your audience. Keep notes on them. And be sure to talk about them as well as their interests in your content.

And be sure to share about yourself. Each insignificant detail matters (e.g., “I’m married and have two kids,” or “I was in the Girl Scouts”) as there will always be someone in your audience who can relate to it.

If you have been reading my works for any length of time, then you will know that I am fluent in Japanese, as I grew up in Japan!

Pick a Channel & Stick with it

I plan to elaborate on this in a future blog post, but the key here is to choose from blogging, podcasting, or video and stick with one channel until you find success. Branching out is unnecessary, and marketer Russell Brunson even says you can make up to seven-figures by focusing on publishing to one channel. Which is probably more than most creatives even aspire to.

If you’re going to blog, Medium is the best place to be.

If you’re going to podcast, check out Anchor.

And if you’re going to run with video, you might assume YouTube is the best place to be, but you might try a platform like Facebook or LinkedIn instead, where video tends to stand out a little more. And you can always distribute or syndicate your content across multiple sites using a tool like Repurpose (affiliate link).

(By the way, any content you create should be backed up to your hard drive. You never know when these platforms could change or disappear completely, and I don’t advise building entirely on rented land.)

Based on my experience, I can only recommend blogging or video though. Podcasting tends to be an uphill climb to the tune of at least five years. I have been podcasting for over 11 years and haven’t even come close to my listenership goals (might be time to take my own advice and leave the “loser” behind).

Use Noah Kagan’s Law of 100 to determine whether you enjoy and get results from your chosen channel. Or, if you’re more daring, try publishing daily for a full year and see where it takes you.

Stay Consistent

I’m not asking you to be a robot or to do this perfectly. I’m just asking you to be consistent. Because content marketing, by definition, is the ongoing creation and publishing of valuable content.

Content marketing, by definition, is the ongoing creation and publishing of valuable content. Click To Tweet

I know ambitious people who started out with the best of intentions and still missed some days or weeks.

With my podcasting efforts, I usually end up publishing 48 episodes per year instead of the anticipated 52.

But when and where possible, be programmatic in your publishing. If you’ve chosen Sunday at 7:52 AM as the day and time your content goes live, then keep publishing weekly on Sunday at 7:52 AM.

If you don’t do it, it will not work. But if you keep showing up, you will reap the benefits.

If you don’t do it, it will not work. But if you keep showing up, you will reap the benefits. Click To Tweet

Iterate

The more and longer you do content marketing, the more useful data you will have ready at your fingertips.

You’ll write pieces that you think should do well, that end up bombing.

And you’ll write pieces that you think are obvious nonsense but end up exploding.

The trick is to keep improving. Practice Kaizen – gradual improvement.

Keep an eye on the stats and figure out what’s working. Do more of it. And try to do less of what isn’t working.

Sometimes you will create simply because you feel like creating. Trust me, with thousands of pieces published online, I’ve been there.

But as I said, strategy is par for the course. Content marketing doesn’t work without strategy. Find and use whatever feedback mechanisms necessary to keep iterating and adjusting course, as necessary.

Don’t Worry About Search Engine Traffic

Don’t buy too heavily into tails of ranking in search and winning the instant traffic lottery. Yes, this is still possible, but unless you’re paying $99 monthly for a tool like Ahrefs, doing your keyword research and have a backlinking strategy, I can almost assuredly say this is a race to the bottom. Because SEO is a skill like anything else, and it’s tough to learn while you’re still learning how to create great content, which should be your initial focus.

In time, you will get search engine traffic. There are a variety of reasons why this is true, including the fact that you will begin to rank higher for your name, your projects, your poems or lyrics, your photos, or otherwise. In short, this goes a long way towards exposing why coining your own terms is a good idea.

And you will also be able to tap into organic sources of traffic like social media. To me, social media is mostly pointless without a content strategy though. Because otherwise, what do you have to share?

As you grow your email list, you’ll also be able to share your content with your subscribers and continue to build a relationship with them.

So, again, traffic will build with a lot of patience and tenacity. And it will come from various sources. But don’t count on it. Don’t write for search engines. Just make things that are interesting to you and your audience.

Have Fun with it

Content marketing, as with anything else, can become a bit of a grind given time. So, if you’re not having fun with it, it probably isn’t worth doing.

As an artist, you know as well as I do that people sniff you out if you aren’t passionate about what you’re doing. Why stick to anything you don’t have much enthusiasm for?

It seems to fly in the face of strategy, but this is mostly how I decide in what to engage in. Will I make a video about my blog posts? Only if I think it’s going to be fun!

Get used to thinking long-term because instant gratification with content marketing is rare. Focus on having fun, and the journey will prove more rewarding and you’ll stick with it for longer too. And it takes sticking with it to see any results.

Content Marketing, Final Thoughts

At the end of the day, content marketing doesn’t work all that differently for creatives than it does for anyone else.

What’s important to understand is its purpose. If you are unclear as to why you would do it to begin with, then there is no point in starting.

Content marketing adds value to your audience. And people who like what you’ve shared are more likely to become an email subscriber. An email subscriber is more likely to become a buyer. That’s what’s at the core of it.

Do you use content marketing to build awareness for your art? How have you utilized content marketing to benefit you?

Let me know in the comments.

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