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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#StrategySunday – January 17, 2021

#StrategySunday – January 17, 2021

Each week, on Sunday, I spend time planning for the week ahead.

As creatives and creators, we’ve always got a lot on the go, and as I continue to engage in these planning sessions, I’ve become even more present to the fact that it’s best to be on top of everything that’s coming up in your week.

Here’s what I went over this week and what came out of it.

Minutes

I call this “minutes,” but it’s just a list of items covered during the planning session. I care more about the fact that I have a solid big picture view of what’s coming this week rather than how much time was dedicated to each item.

Here’s what I went over today:

  • I reviewed the last two #StrategySunday sessions – January 3 and January 10.
  • I went over my content responsibilities for the week.
  • I reviewed my musical responsibilities for the week (I recorded a new song and have the opportunity to distribute it).
  • I went over the products that are nearing completion.
  • I listed and reviewed my admin duties for the week.
  • I speculated on self-care for the week.

Lessons

Was there anything interesting that came out of this week’s reflection and planning session?

  • For the most part, I find I am on track. Sleep has been gradually improving. I’ve been productive work wise. But I didn’t have as much energy this past week as I hoped I would. And that means that while I accomplished much, I didn’t quite fulfill on everything I’d planned. Although not a new lesson, what I can clearly see is there is work that energizes me and work that devitalizes me. That’s an area worthy of more speculation.
  • Most days, I was able to finish my work somewhere around 4 to 6 PM, even if I had a bit of a late start. Having a reason to finish early is generally motivating, and it prevents work from expanding to fill the entire day.

Ideas

Were there any ideas that came out of this week’s session?

  • Seeing as how I was able to write and record a song in about four hours on Saturday, it alerted me to the fact that I could be pumping out considerably more music.

Final Thoughts

So, that’s what came out of this week’s #StrategySunday.

If you need more inspiration, be sure to refer to the weekly digest.

Thanks for joining me. See you again tomorrow.

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Weekly Digest: January 16, 2021

Weekly Digest: January 16, 2021

Hey, creative and/or creator! How was your week?

Here’s what I got up to:

David Andrew Wiebe

I write to inspire creatives and creators just like you. And I’m always open to suggestions.

Here are the posts that went live this week:

>> Subscribe to the daily blog for creators and creatives

>> Follow me on Medium

Music Entrepreneur HQ

I have been giving modern music makers the tools and mental models they need to create the life they love through music since 2009.

Here are the posts that went live this week:

>> Grab a free guide to grow your fan base and music career

The Indie YYC

I host a weekly series called Creative Entrepreneur where I share weekly podcast content.

Here’s what went live this week:

>> Don’t forget to like our Facebook page

Random Things I Dig

SparkToro is an incredibly useful digital marketing tool.

Final Thoughts

Thanks for your creativity and generosity. Keep it up!

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Choose Your Association Wisely

Choose Your Association Wisely

In life, there are few influences as dominant as your association.

We could look at your top five friends and guess correctly that you are about the average of all of them.

We could look at your top five friends and guess correctly that you are about the average of all of them. Click To Tweet

You make about the same amount of money as them. And your attitudes towards politics, marriage, spirituality, and other important life matters are also the average of those around you.

Maybe you aren’t unlimited. But you also don’t know just how far you can go unless you’re surrounding yourself with people who consistently challenge you to be more.

If you’re feeling down or lacking motivation, take a close look at your association. Do you see any common themes?

Does your association leave you feeling devitalized? Are there emotional vampires lurking around every corner? Do the people you know keep crying about their victimhood and “special” circumstances?

Even if you’re the most virtuous person on earth, at some point, this is going to weigh on you. You can only be a hero for so long.

But the reality is this:

It has never been easier to associate with people who challenge you to go the extra mile.

I follow people on Twitter who inspire me.

I watch YouTube live streams hosted by eight-figure entrepreneurs.

I take courses from seven-figure lifestyle design coaches.

I read great books – and I don’t even pretend to know what they’re saying half the time.

I’m not here to tell you to change your association. Instead, I suggest prioritizing your association. Choosing the inputs that will make a difference for you short term, and long term. Because, while you may never reach the pinnacle, or even know your full potential, you will at least come away feeling like you can achieve more.

This is not the comparison game. If it were, I would not even make the finals.

This is your life. And your time is your most precious resource. Who do you want to spend it with?

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How to Write a Non-Fiction Book

How to Write a Non-Fiction Book

Per Meg Dowell, 81% of people want to write a book someday.

But writing a book requires persistence and tenacity. You must have the dogged determination to keep going, even when you don’t feel like editing 300 pages of content you just finished writing.

And even if you do finish a manuscript, there’s no guarantee that it will be anything revolutionary. Putting the finishing touches on your manuscript isn’t the end, either – then comes cover design, book description, author bio, getting reviews, marketing, and more.

There are many ways to write a book. Though some methods can easily lead you down the wrong path.

Here are some thoughts on how to write a book and different methods you can use to achieve that end.

The Hunt & Peck Method

This is how most beginners get started.

If they were self-motivated enough to begin the process of writing before being told how, they probably ended up with a hunt and peck manuscript.

In this case, “hunt and peck” does not refer to typing methods. It’s basically the general attitude of “let me write about this” and “let me write about that.” You end up writing about anything and everything, regardless of whether it’s related to the core topic, and generally make little to no progress.

If you’re familiar with the story of how I wrote my first best-selling book, The New Music Industry, then you will know that this is exactly how I got started. And you will also know that I scrapped that draft, despite being thousands of words into it.

On this, the experts are right. Starting without a plan is unwise. If you end up publishing your “hunt and peck” book, you will probably look back on it with some sadness, knowing you could have done much better.

Starting without a plan is unwise. Click To Tweet

But mistakes will be made, and sometimes you just don’t learn any other way. At least you started writing, and that’s a big step in the right direction.

The “Let’s Put a Word Count on Each Chapter” (or the “I Learned from My Mistakes”) Method

I scrapped my first run at The New Music Industry. But my second manuscript made the cut.

By that time, I’d published hundreds of blog posts I could use as a starting point. And with one failed attempt behind me, I was much better prepared to write a book I could be proud of.

I knew that I wanted the book to reflect my experience – something that was absent from my first go at it. As much as possible, I wanted to talk about what worked and what didn’t work for me, so that the reader could benefit from my experiences and go further with their music career than I ever did.

I kept writing and editing sporadically for a couple of years. But that finish line still seemed a long way off. So, I finally committed myself to writing 5,000 words per chapter. Some chapters already had more than 5,000 words, but several others needed some work. This gave me clear milestones to work towards.

And I began to follow a bit of a format for each chapter, based on some of the reading I had been doing. David Hooper’s Six-Figure Musician (affiliate link) served as a bit of an inspiration. James Moore, who authored the foreword, also gave me same great tips.

That’s what got me to the finish line. If I had never committed to that word count, then who knows how much longer I would have spent messing around with the book. Maybe it would have never seen the light of day.

I spent a lot of time preparing for the launch of the book too. I went back and forth with cover ideas and spent a lot of time collecting praise. But I think it all paid off and The New Music Industry became a best-selling book I can be proud of (even if it’s begging to be updated). It continues to sell to this day.

The “I’m A Mind Reading Guru” Method

I’ve read enough books on how to write a book to know that the experts basically tell you to:

  • Step into the shoes of your target audience
  • Turn common audience questions into chapters
  • Use the expert’s magical, proven interior layout
  • Craft a compelling title
  • Write a compelling book description and author bio
  • Get 10 to 20 reviews for your book
  • Send 100 copies of your book to influencers
  • Sit back and watch as the royalties roll in

Sound familiar?

If this works for you, I’m not here to judge. But I see several problems with this, especially for newbies, who are probably going to follow the method, come up with an inferior manuscript, and feel disappointed when royalties don’t roll in by the truckload.

So, let me address the above point by point:

  • Unless you’re a mind reader, you can’t know what your target audience wants
  • If you’re just going to turn the questions into chapters, why not write blog posts instead?
  • Author and expert marketer Dan Kennedy always says do what works – if the old works better than the new, why change it?
  • The title of the book should be connected to the book’s core premise, which has yet to be defined
  • This advice is confusing at best – some experts will say Tim Ferriss’ book description is awesome, while others say it’s awful (so, what does a good description and author bio look like, anyway?)
  • Reviews help in a lot of ways, so no disagreements here
  • Don’t send any books to anyone unless there’s a strategy behind it
  • Sorry, we’re not in the wild west anymore – everything you create must be promoted

The Top-Down Method

There’s no denying that I’m opinionated when it comes to writing books.

But I have read hundreds of them, have written five, and have had three best-sellers. I have also read my share of guru miscarriages that were supposed to be genuine game-changers.

Their books will do fine, I’m sure, because of their fame and reputation. But so far as writing and relaying valuable information is concerned, they violate good sense at every step, and even leave you feeling frustrated as an independent author, knowing you could do much better work.

The top-down method is how I suggest others approach book writing. And it’s incredibly simple.

You don’t know how many times I’ve talked to people who said they had a manuscript but couldn’t imagine publishing it as is, because it wasn’t organized, the content was all over the map (hunt and peck), and the ideas needed to be brought home. That’s basically what happens when you follow any of the other methods described above.

The top-down method is this:

  • From a bird’s eye view, what is your book about? What’s the core premise?
  • What three to five supporting points do you want to share with the reader?
  • What questions do your readers have, and how could you tie them in with your supporting points?
  • Add summaries to each chapter, so the reader can walk away with actionable steps
  • Don’t use more words than needed to communicate your arguments – it’s not all about the word count

If some of the previously mentioned gurus had followed these steps, they may have ended up with a book worth reading.

Instead, they came across incapable of finishing a single thought before jumping to another. They may have been successful in fluffing up their book, but they weren’t in getting more than a couple of useful ideas across.

I think you should think about what you want to say. Come up with your supporting points. Then, tie those into audience questions. That way, you will get to say what you want to say. And your perspective will have been expressed. Your thoughts on the matter may be more valuable than you even realize.

If you are cornered into answering common audience questions, then your book will be like everyone else’s. And what good is that? You never get to say what you want to say, and your voice gets lost in the mix. The reader never gets introduced to your unique solution.

Write the book that you want to write. And use the above to organize your ideas.

Key Takeaways On Writing Non-Fiction Books

I’m taking my own advice and summarizing the key takeaways here:

  • Fail early. Your first attempts at writing a book will probably fail. Don’t get down on yourself. Scrap the first draft and try again.
  • Write openly and transparently about your experiences. Otherwise, you may not have anything new or original to say!
  • Take expert advice with a grain of salt. Especially if they are saying, “this is the new way – violate at your own peril.” It’s all garbage if the “old way” still works.
  • Promote like your life depends on it. No book sells thousands of copies without a heavy push.
  • Leave your reader with action steps. Many authors assume the reader knows what to do next after reading a long, drawn-out chapter with too many examples to process. Simplify it for the reader by creating summaries and action steps.
  • Word count doesn’t matter. Perry Marshall’s Detox, Declutter, Dominate (affiliate link) is a mere 8,000 words. My last four books were somewhere in the 12,000 to 25,000 range. It’s not about word count. It’s about saying what needs to be said clearly and succinctly!
  • Read plenty. You will get a better sense of what a good book is, how to structure one, and how to write one of your own.

Final Thoughts

As I said, I am rather opinionated when it comes to book writing. That isn’t to say any method is perfect, including my own.

But if I were you, I would take guru advice with a grain of salt. Instead of taking their course on writing a book, read their books. Find out if they’re any good. If not, move on. Find another book.

The more you read, the better you will become at writing and knowing how to structure a book. There are many excellent books out there, and if you want to be a writer with any longevity, you should always be reading and learning new things.

What is your method for writing a book? What has worked best for you?

Let me know in the comments.

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The Myth of the 8-Hour Workday

The Myth of the 8-Hour Workday

Unless we’re working at least eight hours per day, many of us don’t even feel entitled to our monthly paycheck.

Yet, I know more than a few writers and entrepreneurs who’ve improved their income and lifestyle by drastically reducing their work hours (I have experimented with this myself with some success).

So, how does that work? Why would you want to deviate from the proven standard? Isn’t eight hours the ideal amount of time to work in a day?

Here are some thoughts worth considering.

Rethinking the Hustle

The 12- to 16-hour hustle has been held as the golden standard by the likes of Gary Vaynerchuk or Grant Cardone. You can even find Entrepreneur and Forbes articles that in essence say while you can’t control much else, you can control your work ethic, and working 80 hours per week will virtually guarantees your eventual success.

As creatives and creators, we tend to side more with this type of thinking than with the standard employment model.

Having tried the hustle, though, I can honestly say it wasn’t for me. Instead of spending more time on a few priorities, I found myself adding unnecessary tasks and projects to my already too long to-do list. So, I ended up being spread out even more. I burned out too.

(I talk more about some of the changes I’ve recently made to my routine later).

I often think to myself – I can appreciate that these known experts have such an amazing work ethic (and in some cases – but not all – amazing businesses). But I feel like they could be exponentially more productive if they a) systemized, b) delegated more, and c) slept more.

SuperFastBusiness founder James Schramko suggests we return to the 8/8/8 model. Eight hours of work, eight hours of recreation, and eight hours of sleep. Even then, he says, eight hours for work is quite generous.

People often say they wished they had more time in a day. But when you split up your day into three equal parts, it’s easy to see you’ve probably got some major time leaks that could be – and should be – plugged.

When you split up your day into three equal parts, it’s easy to see you’ve probably got some major time leaks that could be – and should be – plugged. Click To Tweet

If you’re in the hustle, it’s doubtful you’ve got eight hours left over for recreation. You’re probably not sleeping eight hours per night either. And that, to me, seems like a major disadvantage and a formula for exhaustion, fatigue, burnout, and even mental instability.

But eight hours of work is still quite extensive in the grand scheme of things. Let me show you my work…

Can You Stay Focused for a Full 8 Hours?

If you think you can, try it. Do deep, intensive, focused work (not light admin tasks) for a full eight hours. Lunch break allowed. See how it feels.

I’m not joking. You should give this a try, just so you can say you’ve done it and see how it differs from condensing your workday.

Codebots found that the average employee is only productive for three hours per day, or an average of 12.5 hours per week. That’s about 30% of the time they’re at work.

Now, I know I’m not talking to average people in average jobs with an average work ethic. You’re a champion, and you can get more done in less time.

But we should still come to terms with the fact that we’ve got maybe four to six good hours in us per day. We aren’t machines.

Outside of those four to six hours, we can still engage in reading, meditation, and exercise, which most would consider productive, and would likely add to their overall productivity.

Having this perspective is helpful, as it has us evaluating our task load and prioritizing what needs to get done on a given day. Which is exactly what we should be doing.

The Key to Getting the Right Things Done

I recently shared a little bit about what a day in the life of David Andrew Wiebe looks like.

I’ve already made some adjustments to my schedule, based on some of my recent reading.

First, I’ve recognized the value in what Perry Marshall calls “Renaissance Time.” He suggests spending an hour or two per day, first thing in the morning, connecting with intuition (or spirit) and reading something before Gutenberg.

(More on this in his book, Detox, Declutter, Dominate: How to Excel by Eliminationaffiliate link.)

Although I don’t follow Marshall’s advice to a tee, I do set aside an hour at the top of the day for Renaissance Time. I’ll spend a bit of time meditating and spend most of the time reading. On the odd day, I might go for a walk during this time too.

The more you’ve got to do in a day, the greater the value of Renaissance Time. The takeaway? Prioritize and guard it, not matter what!

That was the first change I made. The second change I made was this:

With all my time blocking efforts, I noticed I was still trying to take on too much in a day. And maybe even being a little too rigid based on how I work best (I like working on multiple projects and multi-tasking).

Instead of saying “this goes here and that goes there,” which is still a basic structure I follow, I’ve been finding that it makes more sense to work on three things per day. That’s it.

I used to think this was a problem. Because inevitably it meant I wouldn’t get around to some priority. But then I realized that if I changed my approach, I’d make more money in less time and create more time for my priorities long term.

The first thing I work on is an article like this. The second thing I work on is an article for a client. And the third thing could be anything else I’ve got on the go – another client piece, a podcast episode, a video, some music, website work, book writing, course creation, or otherwise.

Instead of working a few minutes here and 40 minutes there on these things, I get to give a couple of hours of focused effort into just a few things. And I make more progress that way long term, even if it looks like I’m getting less done short term.

No Matter Your Ambition Level, 8 Hours Should be More Than Enough

Historian and author C. Northcote Parkinson said:

Work expands so as to fill the time available for its completion.

That’s Parkinson’s Law.

If he’s right, then it almost certainly means we can accomplish more in less time.

Last year, I experimented with four-hour workdays. And while my clients didn’t seem to appreciate my efficiency (not because the quality of my work suffered, but because they themselves didn’t feel like they could pull off a four-hour workday), I found my focus sharpen like a laser. When I sat down at my desk to work, I was there to work. I systematically shut out distractions and stuck to my hours like my life depended on it.

Eight hours is a lot of time. Especially if you’re adequately systemized and are in the habit of delegating tasks you aren’t good at and don’t want to do. Even if you aren’t, you’d be quite amazed at how much you can get done in that time given half a chance.

So, when you think you’ve got eight hours of work, see if you can condense it down to four hours. If you think you’ve got 12 hours of work, try to do it in eight hours. If you’re crystal clear on what you’re out to accomplish and are deeply focused on what you’re working on, you’ll be surprised to find you can fit more work into less time.

Final Thoughts

I know that, as a creative or creator, keeping to a four- to six-hour workday can be tough. Some days you’re going to go for 12 hours. Some days you’re going to go for longer. Some days you may only work for two hours. And that’s okay.

But just remember that, after a certain point, you’re not effective. Red-eye domain name buyers usually regret their purchases after the fact. And by that, I mean your overall efficiency and judgment tends to suffer when you aren’t adequately rested.

Red-eye domain name buyers usually regret their purchases after the fact. Click To Tweet

If nothing else, go back to the 8/8/8 model. Give yourself a proper eight hours of sleep. Give yourself the opportunity to have a social life. And work the other eight hours – but be disciplined, focused, and crystal clear on what you’re setting out to accomplish. You might just find you need less.

How long do you feel you can focus on work in a day? What has worked best for you?

Let me know in the comments.

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