I’ve often said that there’s an abundance of free resources available: Articles, blog posts, eBooks, physical books, events, conferences, trade shows, magazines, newsletters, podcasts, videos. And what I’m starting to discover for myself is that there are some learning methods that are disproportionately better than others.
Number one for me is newsletters. Newsletters contain very specific targeted information. The one that I subscribe to is Dan Kennedy’s No B.S. Letter. It contains information on marketing and sales and copywriting.
And whenever I read these newsletters, I come away feeling inspired, with great information in hand. Ready to act on a few things I’ve learned in the newsletter and get into action in my business.
Number two is books. Books go very deep into a singular subject. It’s like downloading the author’s brain into your own, adopting their mental frameworks, their methodologies, their thought processes. You get to try them on for yourself.
And I think there’s really something to sustaining your thinking on a singular subject for a certain amount of time. There’s something magical about it.
Just like reading newsletters, the information is super targeted, but it’s also deep, it’s going very, very deep into a singular subject. And that has a way of getting me into flow and inspiring me because I’m making new connections.
3. Video Courses
Number three is video courses or home study courses or whatever you want to call them. These are excellent sources of information as well.
Typically, they’re even more focused than let’s say a newsletter or a book. You might be learning specific aspects of digital marketing like email, or how to use Facebook or things like that.
And while I have not always found them to be the most inspirational sources, certainly not as inspiring as a newsletter or a book, in some cases, I have come away from courses feeling lit up with the actionable insights I could now take to my own business.
And then number four for me is audiobooks.
Now in a way this goes hand in hand with books. The difference I suppose is that you can listen to podcasts or audio programs or audiobooks in your car as you’re driving about.
Over the years, that’s really been the number one place for me to listen to these. But at one point, I was so obsessed that I even listened to them in the bathroom.
But compared to something like a podcast, which I don’t always find inspiring. I don’t always find new information to act on. And the subject matter being covered may not always be relevant to me right now. I can intentionally go out and find audiobooks that are relevant to me and are speaking to my situation and are sure to leave me with insights I can use in my business.
So, while there are a lot of great resources out there, the point is to invest in your education. You’re going to value these resources more. I pay for newsletters, I pay for books, I pay for video courses, I pay for audiobooks. Whichjust goes to show that I am more heavily invested in those than a blog post I read online.
What learning methods inspire you most? I know a lot of people say they like to watch videos. And there are certain visual things like how to tie a tie. That’s better suited to the video medium than say the audio or written word. But with a lot of how-to information, I’ve personally found that video is often unnecessary.
Either way, I would love to hear which sources of information and which learning methods work best for you.
I have thousands of published blog posts and articles across the internet. The only reason I know what works for me is because I have the stats.
Even then, I don’t always know what works, and the stats are deceptive, because I’ve written plenty of great works that should have gotten more attention and for whatever reason didn’t catch fire as they should have.
That’s content marketing. Sorry to say, it’s not all within your control. If in doubt, start publishing. You’re probably oversaturated with information already, like a drenched sponge. You can figure out the best automation tools later.
Rule #2 – Be Consistent
Look, things sometimes slip through the cracks. We all miss deadlines, drop balls, or mess up from time to time. It’s human, and it’s okay.
But without consistency, you don’t have a content marketing strategy. It just doesn’t work (also see Rule #5).
You want to generate and publish a specific number of content pieces that doll out at predictable times – especially as applied to bigger pieces of content like blog posts, podcast episodes, and videos. Basically, you want your content to roll out programmatically.
Generally, that means multiple times per week, weekly, once every two weeks, or once per month. Any less than that and you must be a genius like Brian Dean, but I think the odds are slim…
You need to get your vehicle in motion and catch a bit of momentum before we worry too much about the payoff. So, fire up that Pinto and let’s get to cruisin’…
But do this one thing and you should see real business results. Include a call to action in every single one of your posts to sign up for your email list. And it doesn’t need to be salesy or in your face. Honestly, it might hurt your chances if it is.
If you’re committed to the regular publishing of content, and want to see real business results from it, prioritize growing your email list through call to actions. Your list is too small right now, and it needs to be bigger before you worry about income let alone other projects.
Rule #4 – Model, Model, Model
In other words, don’t reinvent the wheel. Instead, next time you catch yourself scrolling through Instagram (which I reckon is often) pay attention to what catches your eye. If it worked on you, chances are it’s going to work on others too, right? So, take the idea and make it your own.
Learn the essentials of copywriting, especially headline writing. The clues are everywhere – magazine covers, popular blogs, the emails you open every day… You’re no Steve Jobs, and you don’t need a new way of solving an old problem.
Whenever I’m making new graphics for my content, I don’t come up with original designs. I’m not that great of a designer to begin with. It’s just that my daily work requires I spend time inside Photoshop. So, I go and find designs I like and model them. Let someone else worry about color theory.
Keep in mind, though – modeling is not stealing. You can get in trouble for plagiarism, so don’t do it! You’ve got to put your own spin on it to make it yours.
Rule #5 – Track
Content marketing can feel like an uphill battle when you’re doing it sporadically, expecting specific results, and not even tracking what you’re doing!
I’m not asking you to invest in complicated analytics software. Go back to the first rule – keep it simple! We don’t need enterprise solutions to get results as content-preneurs.
No, but if, for example, you made three social media videos per week, and posted them to Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, YouTube, and TikTok, over the course of the next six to 12 months, you would see your following increase, even if only by a small margin. No arguments.
If you don’t track, you won’t know. And you’ll be discouraged for no reason. So, no matter where you might be starting from, document where you are now, and return to those numbers in six months (in the meantime, don’t obsess over the stats). Again, you will see results!
Bonus Rule – Read Content Inc.
Joe Pulizzi’s Content Inc. is the best book on the subject, and it kicks off with a direct to bloodstream injection of espresso-based inspiration. Guaranteed or your money back (no, sorry, I can’t make such guarantees – but hey, it’s really, really, good).
Buy it. Devour it. Take notes. Then commit to implementing everything you learn. Return to the well for watering as needed.
Most productivity advice originating from the mainstream and even the gurus are thoroughly unhelpful or plainly bunk, as they seem to be under the mistaken impression that all of us only have one job, freelancing career, business, or client.
If you find yourself in a position where you can freely choose what you want to work on, and for how long, discard this – it’s not for you.
For most of us, the reality will be moving multiple projects forward simultaneously. Once you’ve accepted this, and I stress this – once you’ve accepted this – you will be ready to move multiple projects forward powerfully.
Project Management is the Bottleneck
At the risk of beating a dead horse, there are no textbooks on project management, as people lucky enough to be tasked with the responsibility, unless especially talented or experienced, find themselves needing to invent a system in a company that’s reluctant to set forth the necessary resources for a new initiative, and want to do everything by the book.
I’m a champion of artistic success, and as such I’m aware that I’m speaking to creatives, freelancers, and entrepreneurs.
But understand – even if you’re mostly a one-man or one-woman show, having no structures in place will be the downfall of your success in moving multiple projects forward. Without structures, you will drop the ball on projects, experience major cash flow problems or lose income to prolonged silence and neglect. And no whiz-bang invoicing system will save you the trouble. Read this paragraph again.
We need structures, though complexity is unnecessary. A simple written list of projects can serve as a good reminder (just beware of it blending into your environment so you don’t even notice it anymore). As well, there are tools plentiful enough to satisfy most personalities and inclinations – Evernote, Google Drive, ClickUp, Asana, or the now trendy Notion. Pick something, commit to its mastery, and make it your own. Start simply and don’t second guess.
Crack the Whip on Your Time
As a passionate adventurer, I take it upon myself to dig for the gold in countless resources, whether books, courses, mastermind groups, coaching programs, or otherwise.
No one can give you the tough love you need like author Dan Kennedy, especially in his timeless book No B.S. Time Management for Entrepreneurs. And while his methodology may appear draconian to the microwave success crowd, it’s worth reading for the mindset alone. Let it impact your workflow, and you will expand beyond any level of productivity previously imagined. Anything else I could say in this regard would be redundant or a pale imitation.
Nir Eyal’s timeboxing process would also merit a look, as I have personally experienced great success taking on blogging daily, a yearlong intensive leadership program, community projects, staff writing duties, freelance and ghostwriting clients, and multiple business projects simultaneously. And I still workout at least three times per week, meditate most days and have time enough to wind down for a couple of hours each night.
Act with Great Urgency
There is no time to sit around waxing eloquent about the theoretical. You’ve committed to multiple projects, and now it’s time to put your money where your mouth is. Don’t wait to get started. Don’t expend more time and energy on planning and project management. Don’t try to fine-tune your routine or time management processes. It’s time to act with urgency.
As actor Will Smith says:
Bite off more than you can chew… Then chew it!
Start chewing now. Don’t wait until later. Adopt the mantra “do it now” and have it lived in your life.
And as you get into motion, you will recognize that there isn’t time enough to be tired or sick. There isn’t time enough for excuses. Only time to do and restore integrity when and where you are out of it.
Create a start and end time for every activity, and unless completely impossible, move every project forward every single week.
Create Margin for Hired Help
If your fees are barely enough (or not enough) to keep you afloat financially, increase them immediately. Your personal solvency is paramount to your initiative’s future success.
In most projects, there will be opportunities to outsource the workload, if not in whole then in part, and that will bring some relief to the project load. Over time, you can create even more leeway.
Smart entrepreneurs won’t outsource everything, though, and will instead discover and feed their passion for marketing and continue to sign paychecks and monitor staff activity.
My book, The Music Entrepreneur Code, introduces several real productivity techniques I use to get results. It was written for musicians, but freelancers and entrepreneurs alike have benefited from the read.
Let go of the need to fight against multiple projects and instead embrace it as a way of life. Get good at advancing every project every week of your life.
Late December / early January is one of my favorite times of the year. I love spending time thinking and reflecting on the last 365 days, as well as what I seek to accomplish in the next. And as I’m going through my year-end routines, I’m usually consuming quite a bit of content as well, because I find myself able to see it with new eyes and hear it with fresh ears.
Here I will share some of the golden nuggets I picked up in the last couple of weeks.
1. Do More of What Works & Tap into Trends
For me, this is not a new realization. It is a revisitation, though, of a critical productivity and business-building principle.
Success leaves clues, and content is the trail. If you’ve been publishing for any length of time, you should be able to identify the unicorns among your donkeys.
2. Successful People Move Multiple Projects Forward with Great Urgency
When I heard these words exit from the mouth of author Dan Kennedy, I felt as though I was being given permission to embrace this behavior. It’s exactly what I needed to hear.
See, most of us try to do everything step by step, one step at a time, just as school taught us to do. Kennedy contends, though, that successful people categorically don’t exhibit this behavior. They move multiple projects forward with great urgency.
This reflection is already changing my mindset and conduct. I am now more grateful for the work I have, and I’m more intentional about making progress in the areas that matter.
Whether you’re a freelancer or entrepreneur, if your compensation relies on making things, when and where possible, take the same work, and repurpose or repackage it. If any part of you thinks this disingenuous, you should know that bloggers like Darren Rowse have had great success with bundling up free content and turning it into products.
A blog post can become a series of blog posts. A series of blog posts can turn into an eBook. An eBook can turn into a series of eBooks. A series of eBooks can become a book, and then a course, and so on.
And it doesn’t just work in linear but also in parallel dimensions. For instance, a blog post could form the foundation of multiple tweets, ad copy, a newsletter, a podcast episode, a video, and more.
What you’re reading now will go on my blog, on Medium, and in a future book, at minimum. When and where possible, look for multiple ways to get compensated for the same work.
5. Don’t Make What You Can Never be Compensated for
I’d heard this before, but this time, it really hit me between the eyes.
I’ve had a few failed launches in my time, especially in the last couple of years. And what I’m seeing now is that a) you need to know your audience, what they will pay for, and how they like to be talked to (direct, indirect, urgent, etc.,) b) even when you have the right product, desperation still stinks, and c) sometimes your hard-gotten email list is made up of a bunch of freeloaders.
If you’re creating for fun, that’s a whole other thing. But entrepreneurial endeavors aren’t a walk in the park, and you need to be thinking ahead. If you can’t foresee being paid for it, don’t make it, and if in doubt, take pre-orders to validate its viability.
People like to work with those they perceive as successful, and it doesn’t matter much whether that perception was created or imagined. if you can create it, prospects and customers will be more amenable to throwing bigger sums of money your way.
7. Build Personal Satisfaction into Everything You do
Dan Kennedy says the idea that you need to set up your business around things you don’t want to do is erroneous. When and where possible, he says, build personal satisfaction into your business, and put it ahead of profit.
Home court advantage is a real thing, and if you can get people to come to you instead of you having to go to them, it automatically puts you in a position of power, and the psychological effect is a client who is more likely to heed your advice and get results from your guidance.
In every area of business, it’s worth exploring opportunities to create more satisfaction in your work.
8. The Less Flexible Time You Have, the More You Accomplish
Some would certainly argue against scheduling to the hilt, but I tend to resonate more with Dan Kennedy’s methodology of scripting one’s day.
There’s a finite amount of time to do everything, and every activity should have a start and end time. And where most people get stuck is in establishing a proper end time for all their activities. When you schedule activity with an end time in mind, you necessarily put more restrictions on yourself and others. You start to say things like, “it will be done by 2:30 PM, because it needs to be done by 2:30 PM.” And you make it so.
Constraints lead to increased productivity when you treat time blocks as a matter of do or die, life or death.
There’s a longer, harder way of doing everything. You can start a book from scratch. Or you can draw upon content already created. You can make a new course. Or you can update an old course and make it better. You can seek out inspiration. Or you can create everything from scratch.
But just because you spent more time on something, put more effort into it, thought more about it, doesn’t mean it’s going to pay more. Identify the direct path to achievement before blazing a new trail, especially if your income depends on volume.
10. Do Something Daily to Bring Fresh Blood into the Business
Dan Kennedy says you don’t ever want to rely on one channel to bring in new business, even if it is effective. He says he’d rather have you focus on 10 channels that “sort of” work versus one that’s amazing. What I get from this is that one is the most dangerous number in business, and single-source dependency is setting yourself up for disappointment.
11. You Can’t Make Money Doing Anything Other Than Marketing
You aren’t in the business of writing, making music, coaching, infoproducts, or dentistry. You are in the business of marketing. This paradigm shift is a challenging but ultimately rewarding one. Businesses rely on cash, and cash is only generated with marketing.
Specialists tend to command greater income and more respect from their clients. Entrepreneurship is challenging enough without inevitable dream stealers and time wasters, and you are better served creating strong positioning in the marketplace, such that people respect you and your advice from first contact (which, by the way, is a commodity if people don’t pay for it).
Feng Shui expert Marie Diamond explains that many successful people reach a point of impasse on the way to the top. They work on their mentality, their spirituality, even their talents and gifts, but they get to a point where there’s no moving forward, and they’re missing just one thing – their environment is not consistent with their commitment.
To create a life harmonious with your goals and dreams, it is necessary to create an environment where you do your best work. An environment that reminds you of the success you’re creating, not the failures you’ve endured. Everything in your environment affects your subconscious. If you’ve been hitting a wall, it’s time to transform your life by transforming your home. Eye-opening.
To remain efficient, I have often opted for fast and easy ways of creating content. Set up a couple of spaces for writing, podcasting, and making videos or going live, and share a timely message.
What I learned listening to copywriter Jim Edwards is the importance of keeping things fresh and interesting. There are so many ways to relay a message – rants, lists, reviews, critiques, how-to guides, and more. Not to mention, if you’re making video content, you can vary up your background (filming location), wardrobe, and more. With every piece of content you create, there are hundreds of variables you can control to drive up engagement.
It’s easy to sacrifice creativity and forethought for efficiency. But is it worth it? If you want to keep things interesting for your audience, you want to keep your content fresh.
I’m looking for guest co-hosts for the podcast. Could you be the next co-host of The New Music Industry Podcast? If you’re a go-getter, you will find a way of getting in touch with me without me providing a link.
If you enjoy The New Music Industry Podcast, you’re going to love Members Only Audios. And it’s a great way to support the ongoing creation of great content, kind of like supporting someone on Patreon, except you get way more than a few extra bonuses. You get the entire archive of audios published to this point; PLUS new content added weekly.