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.

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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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How to Close the Chapter on 2020 & Eliminate Personal Baggage

How to Close the Chapter on 2020 & Eliminate Personal Baggage

Last year was last year. This year is this year.

But sometimes it’s hard to make that kind of hard and fast demarcation. Especially when this past holiday season was unlike any other.

Without knowing, we end up lugging old baggage into the new year that doesn’t even belong. It’s as if resurfacing old pain for the sake of being justified in our victimhood.

Ouch. I know that one stung a little.

But if we want to be at our best, we must clear the way for a new year. Here’s what I’d encourage you do immediately.

Journaling Exercise #1: Decluttering & Detoxing

When it comes to starting your year right, I know of no greater authority than Michael Hyatt. And what follows stems from his post called Seven Questions to Ask About Last Year.

Before getting started, he suggests going to a quiet place with a journal, pen, and a cup of coffee. Good advice.

Once you’re ready, take some time to answer the following questions. For more ideas on what your answers might look like, you can refer to Hyatt’s post linked earlier.

  1. If the last year were a movie of your life, what would the genre be?
  2. What were the two or three major themes that kept recurring?
  3. What did you accomplish this past year that you are the most proud of?
  4. What do you feel you should have been acknowledged for but weren’t?
  5. What disappointments or regrets did you experience this past year?
  6. What was missing from last year as you look back?
  7. What were the major life-lessons you learned this past year?

I have been religiously asking myself these same questions every year since 2014 and have even done so in a public way. You may find some value in my answers too.

Whether you share your answers with others is up to you. But public accountability can help with follow through. If you struggle with action, share publicly.

Journaling Exercise #2: Reflection & Resetting

Every winter, I get together with my mastermind group to reflect on the year past and set goals for the year ahead. This year, for obvious reasons, we had to do this virtually.

The following questions will help you identify tasks and projects to prioritize in 2021.

Although the term “business” is used here, it’s interchangeable with “career,” “projects,” “creative efforts” or otherwise.

  • List the things that went exceedingly well for your business in 2020. Feel free to include personal wins, as the two are often interconnected.
  • Is there anything holding back your growth that you have been putting off, that would have the greatest potential to positively impact your life and business in 2021?
  • What are the top things from 2020 that have given you the greatest results in your business?
  • Time travel to December 2021 and imagine where you’ll be. What will you have accomplished? What will you be grateful for? What would excite you most about what you achieved?
  • Now that you have defined where you want to go, where are you now? What is the gap? What needs to happen to close the gap?
  • Optional: If you’d like, you can now set goals for 2021 and subject them to scrutiny. If there’s anyone you trust to give you constructive feedback, ask them for help.

I shared this process with my friend, Mabel Wong of Dermaly last year, and she found immense value in it.

Having answered the above questions, identifying what to do next in your efforts becomes much easier. And you get to see for yourself what is working and what isn’t.

Step #3: Delete Last Year’s Emails

“What? Delete all my emails? Are you nuts!?”

Right about now, you’re probably feeling tightness in the pit of your stomach. Because you’re about to confront something that makes you feel uncomfortable. This is normal.

It has been my observation, however, that we tend to resurface what is unfinished and what went wrong when we hold onto our emails from the year past. We get to roll defeat around in our heads, when we know deep down it’s only causing anxiety, and because we’re not in action, whatever didn’t go well isn’t aligned with our values.

Here, “values” refers to how you spent your time and money this past year. Not what your stated or aspirational values are, which often aren’t in alignment with your bank balance or calendar.

Now, I’m not suggesting you don’t back up contacts or archive important messages. Please do.

But clearing your inbox gives you a clean slate. It stops you from circling back to the incomplete and irreconcilable in your life.

Clearing your inbox gives you a clean slate. It stops you from circling back to the incomplete and irreconcilable in your life. Click To Tweet

2019 was a difficult year for me (there’s a reason I’m referencing 2019 and not 2020 here). For a variety of reasons. I bit off more than I could chew, and even though I kept chewing, I just couldn’t finish it all.

I disappointed clients. I dropped the ball on projects. I felt exhausted and couldn’t maintain a high level of performance. And the worst part of it was that I came down on myself. Hard.

I achieved a great deal in 2019. Even then, there were sins of omission and commission that weighed heavy on my shoulders and my heart.

So, the question is, do you want to drag that kind of baggage into another year? Or do you want to be done with it?

This is not an excuse to shirk commitments. This is a way to say “goodbye” to those things from last March you know you’re not even going to touch. Because they aren’t in perfect alignment with your true values.

You will never get around to those things. Let stakeholders know you’d like to make it up to them in some way and move on.

Final Thoughts

What would it mean to you to be able to start the new year fresh? What would that make available to you?

Would you be able to accomplish more? Would you feel better about the past and be able to bring more of your awareness to the present?

Take some time for yourself. Sit down with your journal and reflect. Write down what comes to mind.

2021 can be a better year than 2020. You just need to make a little time to process what has already happened, and what no longer is.

How do you clear the way for a new year? What do you do to make sure you’re not carrying baggage into the next 365 days?

Let me know in the comments.

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How to Overcome Perfectionism in Creativity

How to Overcome Perfectionism in Creativity

At times, I have wrestled with perfectionism.

And I know many people, even those in my inner circle, who struggle with perfectionism.

It’s okay to admit it. You’re in good company.

The question is – how can your overcome it? Can you reframe your perspective? See things from another point of view? Distinguish your fears or hang ups?

Here are three ways I’ve successfully overcome perfectionism.

Publish More

I have found one of the best ways to overcome perfectionism is to publish more.

Don’t like your voice? Record 100 podcast episodes and put them up on iTunes.

Don’t like how you look? Film 100 videos and upload them to YouTube.

Think your music sucks? Make 100 songs and distribute them through CD Baby.

I promise you will feel differently about your work if you just focus on creating and publishing for a while, without getting caught up in anything else.

I’m running a tight ship here on my blog these days, but trust me, when I was getting started, there was no form, no plan, and no intended audience. I just started writing. And my early posts are still in the archives for anyone to see.

Even though I’d had over a decade of experience building niche sites and building traffic to them, I still had to find my voice for this new undertaking.

Some will say one amazing piece of content is worth more than 100 pieces of terrible content. But what if you can’t get to that amazing piece until you’ve gone through the 100 terrible pieces first?

Trust me, all your heroes have practiced too.

If you really feel you need to create a spotless record, then publish under a pseudonym. You can always take the “greatest hits” and publish them under your real name or artist name.

One of the reasons you’re worried about perfectionism is because you haven’t published enough. Because when you publish frequently, you realize people don’t care that much anyway, and you were better off getting started yesterday to build some momentum.

One of the reasons you’re worried about perfectionism is because you haven’t published enough. Click To Tweet

Start with a Minimum Viable Product (MVP)

Lately, I’ve been working on a new website/membership platform. I’ve spoken elsewhere about this, but for whatever reason I kept putting it off even though it represented a great opportunity.

Sidebar, I’ve recognized that there’s a big difference between unfamiliar and uncomfortable. Unfamiliar is when you’re treading into unknown territory. Uncomfortable is when you don’t know how to act in a situation.

Distinguishing the two gave me access to something I didn’t have before. I started to see that I wasn’t uncomfortable building my new website. I was unfamiliar with the new platform. And I was kind of dreading having to learn new tech.

So, getting back to the point, we often feel like we should work on something until it’s perfect before the world ever sees it. It’s amazing how much this can slow you down.

Instead of trying to get everything perfect on my website, developing all the copy, getting the graphics to sit and look right, working on all the boring disclaimer pages, I just started blocking everything in.

Logo goes here. Menu goes there. This button leads to that page. And so on.

It wasn’t perfect. I knew I would need to adjust the size of the logo, swap out the typography, add more copy, flesh out the boring content pages, and more.

But I realized there was no need to put makeup on something that wasn’t even out there working for me.

I’d heard about starting with an MVP before. I just didn’t fully understand the wisdom in that until now.

If you start with the basics, you’ll be able to bring your project to market sooner, get feedback on it, and even start making money with it, if that’s your goal.

If you start with the basics, you’ll be able to bring your project to market sooner, get feedback on it, and even start making money with it, if that’s your goal. Click To Tweet

Plus, you can still make it better later. But that extra 20% of greatness probably won’t matter to most of your audience, and it probably won’t make your project that much more appealing either. Patreon CEO Jack Conte expressed similar sentiments with me regarding his musical efforts.

Remember How Good it Feels to Finish Something

Until you make the decision to get started, stay started, and remain started until something is finished, goals and to-do items are allowed to sit on your calendar indefinitely. And the longer they stay there, the more anxiety they can elicit. No wonder we begin resenting our own projects!

It has been my own experience that, over the years, I have not always been the best finisher of projects. I have started many, and many were completed. But I’m acutely aware of the books I have yet to complete, the music I have yet to release, the courses I have yet to launch, and more.

Sometimes I overestimate what I can do in a year. Other times, I just don’t prioritize well enough (remember the unfamiliar/uncomfortable distinction from earlier – it helps!).

In times like these, I try to remember how good it feels to finish something.

My biggest accomplishment in 2020 was launching my latest book, The Music Entrepreneur Code. Although I did complete other projects, the main reason I feel this was my biggest accomplishment is because though I teed up a bunch of other projects, I never finished them (hopefully, I’ve set myself up for an amazing 2021).

My second biggest accomplishment would be publishing daily since the end of July.

The point is that you can make finishing a habit. You can learn to focus on one thing at a time (recommended), and you can get in a powerful momentum cycle by doing so. Doesn’t that sound great?

You can make finishing a habit. You can learn to focus on one thing at a time, and you can get in a powerful momentum cycle by doing so. Click To Tweet

Just remember – it takes work and discipline.

Perfectionism, Final Thoughts

If there’s one thing I know about perfectionism, it’s that it can’t be overcome by sitting around and thinking about it. But it can be overcome by action.

So, the ultimate question is, what will you do next? What actions will you take today?

How have you overcome perfectionism? What has worked for you?

Let me know in the comments.

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Why Blog? Here Are My 31 Reasons

Why Blog? Here Are My 31 Reasons

So, what’s the deal with blogging all the time?

Isn’t video where it’s at now?

Do you have an ulterior motive when it come to your publishing efforts?

In this post, I share my 31 reasons for blogging, some of which are for career reasons. But you will find there are many other benefits to blogging that make it a win-win.

1. Inspire Creatives & Creators

Music Entrepreneur HQ exists to help musicians create the life they love through music.

The Indie YYC’s mission is to inspire artists in pursuit of independent creativity, independent thought, and independent life.

And the reason I publish daily on my personal blog is because my mission is to inspire creatives and creators.

Do you notice a running theme?

I am under no delusion that I can inspire anyone without being inspirational. Which is why publishing daily has become even more important to me. Developing the habit, showing up, and doing the work is what turns a snowball into an avalanche. It’s also what distinguishes a pro from an amateur.

Developing the habit, showing up, and doing the work is what turns a snowball into an avalanche. Click To Tweet

2. Build an Audience

I will continue to work on many things – music, books, courses, businesses, communities, and more. I’ve put my blood, sweat, and tears into these projects, which I believe are all worthy of an audience.

No matter what I end up doing, I will always need an audience. It doesn’t need to be large. It just needs to be engaged.

So far, though I have had some minor successes, I have not built a large audience on any platform. But looking at all the things I’ve done so far, blogging has proven the most effective activity for building an audience of any I’ve tried.

3. Build Awareness for My Projects

I have a page dedicated to my projects, which I reference often in my blog posts.

Not all projects are tied to money, and as I’ve already shared, inspiration is at the core of all of them.

But it also goes without saying that if there’s no money, there’s no mission. Projects need to be at least self-sustaining to be workable, though I typically give them plenty of time, attention, and nurturing to get to that point.

4. Develop Content

It may seem as though publishing is the final step in any creative effort, but the reality is that whatever you end up publishing could end up being the first iteration of many to come.

Musicians will publish music, only to have it remastered and re-released again later. Sometimes, they will publish live, acoustic, or even revised versions of the same music.

People vote with their attention, and you never know when you might strike a chord with an idea that’s worth pursuing further. Publishing daily gives you an opportunity to see what might have some resonance sooner rather than later.

5. Develop Product

Whether it’s blog posts, eBooks, books, podcast episodes, audiobooks, presentations, courses, or otherwise, writing is typically at the foundation of all things I develop. Some of the content is unscripted but much of it has been thought through in advance.

The things I publish could form the foundation for the products I later deliver, and in some cases, are little snippets of the product in finished form.

Most recently, I completed a series on life transitions in 16 days. This could easily be turned into a book, eBook, audiobook, or otherwise. I’m looking into this possibility.

Many years ago, Darren Rowse of ProBlogger launched an eBook called 31 Days to Build a Better Blog. All the content is on his blog, available for free. But there’s something about bundling up all that content that appealed to buyers. This has been an enduring and successful product for Rowse.

Blogging is going to appear like spinning wheels to some. The way I see it, the more strategic and intentional I can get with it, the more opportunities I can ultimately create for myself.

6. Document My Journey

I come from a family of teachers. My dad was a teacher. My mom was a teacher. My sister has taught at different times in her life. Many of my aunts and uncles are teachers.

It’s quite easy for me to go into “teaching mode,” even in my publishing efforts. But that isn’t my intention with the blog.

More than anything, I intend to document and share my journey. Because I haven’t “arrived” by any stretch of the imagination, and I don’t expect everything I’ve published to this point has been brilliant either (hopefully, it’s getting better).

I’m off to a good start, but in many ways, I’m just getting started.

7. Legacy

God willing, one day (hopefully soon), my blog will prove useful to others.

I have documented my journey through good times and bad times, through trials and tribulations, through twists and turns, surprises and shocks.

I do not plan for legacy. But if what I’ve documented proves useful to just one person many generations from now, I’ll be elated.

8. Develop a Valuable Skill

Communication is an incredibly valuable skill, and in these fast-paced, microwave, social media drenched times, it’s becoming more of a lost art by the day.

No matter how popular videos or podcasts or presentations become, the written word will continue to touch, move, and inspire people. It allows people to tap into their imagination, which is more powerful than most realize.

Writing is a valuable and rare skill, though in some ways it is also becoming commoditized.

9. I Love Writing

So, let’s keep this in perspective. My first love was arts and crafts. As a child, I loved drawing, painting, crafting… basically anything to do with creating.

Since I grew up in Japan, when I returned to Canada as a teen, writing in English was not one of my strengths. But I started to take interest in it because I began building websites.

Before I knew it, I was obsessing over vocabulary, spending time in Reader’s Digest, dictionaries, thesauruses, encyclopedias, and other sources.

It was also around that time that I began taking a stronger interest in music, which basically replaced my drawing, painting, crafting, and so forth.

But writing stuck with me through the years, and so did music and building websites.

Some people call me a writer. That’s not quite true. I am just as much an artist, musician, web designer, podcaster, presenter, teacher, and more.

But I can’t deny that writing brings me joy, even if it’s a lot like having homework every day for the rest of your life.

10. Organize My Thoughts

How do you know how you think about a specific subject? How much do you really know about it?

Here’s a good way to find out – write about it!

It has been my experience, as well as the experience of some of my friends, that we know way more about our areas of study than we realized. But it was only through blogging, writing, and content creation that this became apparent.

If you want to collect your thoughts on anything, try writing!

11. Generate & Explore Ideas

I often spend time thinking out loud. I’m sure, at times, it seems as though I have no clue what I’m talking about (which is probably true), though at other times, I hit on something that matters to others.

At the foundation of most projects and products is an idea that resonates, and by publishing daily, I get to see what you are searching for and are interested In, both in the short term and the longer term.

12. Reinforce My learning

I’ve often shared about things I’ve been learning as I continue to live out my mission. But it’s human to forget some of what you learned.

By documenting my journey, I get to look back on the things I’ve learned. I get to execute on the ideas I’ve documented and shared. I can re-presence myself to things I may have otherwise forgotten about completely.

13. There Will Always be Something to Write About

Every few years, speaker Mitch Joel announces the death of blogging. I get what he means. You can’t publish a few sentences on LiveJournal and expect 10 thoughtful comments on it anymore.

But blogging, or at least content marketing, isn’t dead. The written word still drives more traffic than multimedia content like podcasts. And depending on where you’re putting your focus, it gets more traffic long term than YouTube videos too.

You can do well on any channel. But I’ve been podcasting for over 11 years and I have never seen more than about 3,300 downloads per month. I have been publishing videos on YouTube since 2009, and I do not have a single video with over 85,000 views, or a channel that has crossed the threshold of 200 subscribers.

(if you want to help me get there, please take a moment to subscribe to my main channel.)

Now, it’s important to realize that when you make videos, the video is the product. When you blog, the blog is just the content. The product is something else.

Either way, there will always be something to write about. Just look at what unfolded in 2020. Whether it’s current events, technology, or otherwise, someone somewhere will always want to be inspired, informed, or entertained.

14. Portfolio

Over the years, your blog becomes your portfolio. And every creative and creator should have a portfolio. Not to be hired, though that could be a happy byproduct of logging your work.

Your portfolio is an extension of self. It shows who you are, where you came from, where you are now, and what you’ve done. And few things could be more human than that.

I know about all the products I’ve made that I currently support. But I’ve forgotten about the many legacy products I longer do anything with.

My blog helps me keep track of all those things, and it becomes my voice in the world.

15. Stay Sharp

A creative can become complacent at any level. I say “level” here as though there are places to get to, which is only true if there is something you aspire to. If your art or your projects make you happy, and that is enough, then that is enough.

A creative can become complacent at any level. Click To Tweet

But every day we have a choice. We can show up and do the work, or we can sit on our laurels.

No matter how much you think you’ve accomplished, no matter how much of a contribution you think you’ve made, no matter how tired you are from working on that last project, there is always something more to give within you. The creative spirit never dies.

If you want to stay sharp, show up and do the work, even when you don’t feel like it.

16. Be Generous & Give Back

It’s easy to think that anyone who publishes daily or blogs all the time has an ulterior motive. But you can dig into my archives and mine for gems at any time. Everything there will remain free, forever.

I don’t have ulterior motives. My motives are quite clear, and you can read all about them in this post.

No one in their right mind would put this much effort into blogging if there wasn’t a generous spirit behind it.

Generally, I don’t interrupt my posts to do product pitches anymore. I will passively mention my books, courses, and anything else I’m working on, but you generally won’t hear me say, “hire me for your next writing project NOW!”

See, I can’t convince you to do what isn’t of any interest to you to begin with.

Sharing is generous. Especially when you share freely, openly, and candidly about what you’re learning and what you’re doing.

Sharing is generous. Especially when you share freely, openly, and candidly about what you’re learning and what you’re doing. Click To Tweet

17. Create Contacts

People notice when you write about them, even high-profile people.

Now, when I mention an entrepreneur, a YouTube personality, a Forbes contributor, and the like, rarely if ever do I hear from them.

But I often do hear from people who are grateful for the PR and exposure, people in the same industry, or content creators who aren’t as well-known.

You can create many connections by blogging, and you can double and even triple your results by leaving thoughtful and insightful comments on other people’s social media posts.

I’ve booked many a podcast interview by interacting with others on social media.

Today, I know people all over the world – Canada, U.S., U.K., Japan, Finland, Australia, New Zealand, and more.

Blogging can broaden your world in a big way.

18. Promote My Friends

I have been very intentional in sharing about my friends (fellow creatives and creators) in blog posts, podcast episodes, books, and more. I even did this in my latest podcast episode.

I don’t know how much they benefit from my mentioning them. But even if it results in one new follower or fan for them, I think it’s worth it.

This is a part of my ongoing efforts to be generous, supportive, and inspirational.

19. Share The Love

Whether it’s mentors, coaches, my Dream 100 or otherwise, I get to honor all the great people that have shown me the way by showing up daily. I get to give away credit and put a spotlight on those who have been beyond generous to me. And I get to pay that forward too.

20. For My Future Self

Today, I might hate sitting down to write (I don’t – but occasionally, such as when I’m not feeling my best, it’s not a walk in the park). But I know my future self will thank me if I stay consistent and keep doing the work.

I have not reached the level author Derek Sivers is at. He says he does everything in service of his future self. Wow.

But I know I will thank myself later for the effort I’m putting in now. That makes it worth doing.

21. Build Trust & Credibility

I’m aware that many entrepreneurs use various psychological tactics to sell. And that’s their way. My way is to build long-term trust and credibility with my audience.

I know that my way takes longer. But that’s okay because I know it leads to better long-term results.

22. Build Authority

With regards to Music Entrepreneur HQ, I’ve had several people tell me “your presence in this space is hard to ignore.”

That tells me I’ve been able to dominate a niche and build authority in it. And because of that authority, when anyone needs anything as applied to modern music entrepreneurship, they’re going to come to me first.

23. Generate Traffic

Blogging helps you build traffic to your website. You’ve probably heard that before.

But as with anything else, it will do nothing for you if you don’t stick with it.

My goal is to generate a large amount of targeted, engaged traffic over the long haul.

24. Grow Social Media Following

Because of the goings on in 2020, I could see myself ditching Facebook and Twitter completely. I might even minimize my use of YouTube.

But I will continue to leverage different platforms like Medium, and to that extent, I will always be looking to build my following.

Again, a targeted and engaged following is more valuable to me than an artificial one, which is why I’m not relying on being a flash in the pan.

25. Marketing & Promotion

As I’ve already shared, I concentrate on this less, because I know it’s a long-term byproduct of the short bursts of effort that go into blogging.

But there’s no beating around the bush with this. Whether you call it building a following or sharing your works, ultimately marketing and promotion is at the heart of it. It’s just the terminology that may not sit well with some.

26. Generate Money on Medium

I’ve made it clear that I would like to up my Medium game, and I have been doing exactly that over the course of the last five months or so.

(I’ve been experimenting with the platform for much longer than that, but I’ve been taking it more seriously here in 2020.)

My efforts are starting to pay off, as I’ve effectively tripled my income from Medium, but right now that doesn’t amount to more than a cup of coffee.

Still, I’m constantly exploring and trying different things, and there are new platforms popping up all the time. Medium is just one among many now.

27. Take Advantage of New Opportunities

Medium is just one opportunity. Apparently, Quora has a partner program too.

I’ve been messing around with Tumblr, Blogger, and HubPages for years.

I’m also a little curious of News Break, Weebly, Ghost, and so forth.

And I’ve experimented with many others over the years, like InfoBarrel.

So long as I’m writing, there will always be new opportunities, and I will always be able to take advantage of them fast.

28. Make Money from Self-Publishing

A great deal of effort goes into everything I write. This post, for example, is about 3,200 words in length.

Tell most people to sit at their desk and write 3,200 words, and their eyes will glaze over.

I like to leverage my writing wherever and whenever possible. Syndication and distribution is just the beginning.

Content can also become eBooks, books, audiobooks, courses, presentations, and a great deal more.

Inspiration and generosity are at the foundation of what I do, but I believe in being shrewd about repurposing and leveraging the things I’ve created, too.

29. Create an Income from Writing

I have been making a healthy income from writing in different capacities since 2016.

But it certainly can’t hurt to maintain a presence online. My services may not be for everyone, but there will always be those who want it. And if I keep writing, those people will find me. I have a lean stable of high paying clients, so generally, I don’t need to go looking for more work. I can let it come to me.

If you want to see examples of my writing, all you need to do is go through the blog archives.

30. Repurpose & Monetize

I’ve hinted at this already, but so long as you’ve got content, there will always be new opportunities to repurpose and monetize it.

Monetization is secondary to all other things mentioned here, but as I said, I believe in being shrewd when it comes to exploiting copyrights. I feel it is the responsible thing to do as a creative or creator.

31. Sell Services & Products

I’ve mentioned some of my services and products throughout this post in passing. But you won’t find a single sales pitch.

It’s a dead horse now, but as I’ve said, leveraging your works is the responsible thing to do as a creative or creator.

Leveraging your works is the responsible thing to do as a creative or creator. Click To Tweet

If the occasional person decides to work with me, that’s more than enough for me.

Final Thoughts

Depending on where technology goes, perhaps there will be no reason to write in the future. I’m not discounting that possibility.

But for the time being, I can think of more reasons to blog than not. And because it’s fun to me, and there are still opportunities to tap into, I see no reason to stop.

Maybe blogging isn’t for you. That’s okay. The message is to follow your heart, be generous, and exploit your creative works to the greatest extent possible. It’s your responsibility.

Do you blog or create content? Why or why not? What have you learned and gained from your publishing efforts?

Let me know in the comments below.

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How to Boost Your Creativity with a Journal

How to Boost Your Creativity with a Journal

If your creativity needs a kick in the pants, then it might be time to start journaling.

I’m not talking about starting a diary. I’m talking about writing intentionally to capture inspiration in everyday ordinary circumstances.

But how can we go about that?

Here’s a guide on how to boost your creativity with a journal.

Journaling Forms the Foundation

This summer, I engaged in a personal development program that revolved around keeping seven daily habits for 21 days.

(Actually, I ended up taking the course twice.)

I chose journaling as one of my core habits both times, because I knew that if I spent more time in reflection, I’d begin to identify patterns and become clearer on what mattered to me.

Since then, I’ve been using my journal to take notes on the books I read, dream up products and marketing strategies, and even engage in my #StrategySunday planning sessions.

The reality is, there are some entries I will never look at again. And there are more ideas in my journal than I will ever get around to implementing or using.

Despite that, my journaling will form the basis of many things I write, publish, create, execute, and more.

Would you like to boost your creativity? Here’s how to do it with your journal.

Speculate on Possibilities

The number one thing that stops creatives and creators from journaling is perfectionism.

The number one thing that stops creatives and creators from journaling is perfectionism. Click To Tweet

Even when we don’t necessarily have all the right questions, we still try to get all the right answers, like we were frazzled teens facing our final exams in high school.

Quotes like this don’t necessarily help:

The quality of your life is a direct reflection of the quality of the questions you are asking yourself. – Tony Robbins

I’m not saying Tony’s wrong. But we need to leave high school in its proper place – in the past.

But that’s why, instead of trying to be perfect, I like to speculate on possibilities.

For instance, I might ask myself “how am I going to market my next book?”

Then I will proceed to brainstorm ideas. And no idea is a wrong idea because I’m just speculating on possibilities. I’m not trying to be perfect.

If I am stuck in any area of life or business, I find this to be a valuable exercise. It helps me come up with more ideas where I might be otherwise stopped.

Next time you’re stuck, maybe try speculating on possibilities instead of merely brainstorming or trying to ask the right questions.

Make Note Taking a Habit

How many conversations, meetings, or events do we sit through without takeaways? In the age of “Zoom Gloom,” quite a few, right?

While I don’t want to come across as a productivity fiend, you may as well not have attended a meeting you didn’t take notes on.

You may as well not have attended a meeting you didn’t take notes on. Click To Tweet

Meetings and conversations are a treasure trove of useful information and inspiration just waiting to be captured.

For instance:

  • You might hear about a book or resource that intrigues you and want to look up later.
  • You might hear a sentence that could be turned into a poem, blog post, book, or a song.
  • Action items may come up in conversation, and if you don’t write them down, you may forget them.
  • You may have spur of the moment inspiration that needs to be captured then and there.
  • And so on.

I’m not saying every conversation or meeting has got to be productive. I’m just saying every conversation or meeting is an opportunity, and the opportunity is to listen for inspiration.

Document Your Journey

Documenting your journey is also something you can do with a blog, as it gives you the opportunity to let others in on what you’re doing.

Either way, writing down your thoughts, ideas, feelings, and so on, can have more long-term value than you even realize.

First, writing is known to help you organize your thoughts. Many people try to organize their thoughts first, and then write. I suggest going about it the other way. This is not a term paper. Practice will make you better. Just get started and don’t worry about today’s journal entry or blog post.

Second, writing helps with memory retention. If there are things you want to remember for later, you should certainly write them down.

Third, the opposite is also true – you can also journal away emotional baggage. Oftentimes we feel stuck, not because of present circumstances, but because we think the past will just keep repeating itself in our lives. Try on the idea that this is within you, not outside of you, and see if you can journal it away.

Fourth, you can return to your journal entries later and scan them for memories, thoughts, ideas, action items, and anything else you’ve taken down. Many songwriters and poets like to begin with a great title, and you just never know where a great title might be hidden.

Finally, your journey can also help and inspire others.

Final Thoughts

There are many ways to journal, and more benefits than I can count. So, the above should not be considered comprehensive.

The point is to get started and stay started. Don’t worry about trying to get it right or being perfect. That’s not the point.

Your journal is only valuable or helpful to you to the extent that you use it. So, start using it!

How do you use your journal? What’s the greatest value you’ve derived from it?

Let me know in the comments.

The Music Entrepreneur Code paperback

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

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