Can an introvert get good at marketing?

Today I want to discuss the value of embracing your creative boundaries. And how boundaries actually make better art, and help you get better at sharing what you create. Let’s dig in…

Limits Help Art

I’m reading Keith Richards’ autobiography, and when he discusses making the Rolling Stones’ most successful albums, he talks about how limits make the process much better from an artistic standpoint. Keith embraces two different creative limits:

  1. He’s a guitarist and songwriter. A guitar has six strings. Keith removes one of them. So here is a guy writing music for a famous rock band, which would traditionally want the biggest sound possible, and he’s removing the low E string. Which string is this? Well, in my experience, this is the string that many rock musicians rely on most. It’s a deeper sound and packs a big punch. Keith literally removes it from his guitars.
  2. In recording albums, he prefers to use an 8 track recorder. What this means is that to record a full band, each sound would have it’s own track that would then get mixed down to the song. So maybe drums on one track, lead vocal on another, etc. Nowadays, you can really just have unlimited tracks during recording. He put his preference for the 8 track limit this way: “[Using] sixteen and twenty-four tracks.. made it much more difficult to make records. The canvas becomes enormous and it becomes much harder to focus.” For Keith, less is more.

I spend so much time researching how successful writers, artists, and creators have found their version of success. What do I find time and time again? Their art took a massive leap forward when they faced creative boundaries. When they didn’t have access to seemingly essential tools. When they lost what felt like an essential ingredient to their process. When they had a ridiculous time limit. Or some other barrier that easily could have caused them to stop.

But they didn’t. They thrived. That limit was what they needed for a massive leap forward.

We All Have Boundaries

This applies to how we share as well. We all have boundaries. We all have preferences that feel like they are rules set in stone. E.G.: “Oh, I would never talk about myself on social media, that’s so gauche.” Or, “Everyone I know hates email. Sending a newsletter would only annoy people. I won’t do it.”

The one I run into most often is this: “I have a hard time sharing because I’m an introvert. Marketing just isn’t for me.”

Now, I will say this up front: every one of us is unique. Only you can determine what you are comfortable doing. I’m encouraging you to be open minded, but in the end, I respect that you have to do what feels right to you. That said, I would encourage you to embrace your boundaries. And in doing so, find a way to move towards your creative goals even with those boundaries.

I am a massive introvert. Much of my day is spent either:

  • Locked in a room by myself.
  • Locked in a house with three other people who I love dearly.

And I thrive like this. I’ve heard the introvert thing summarized like this: “introverts are depleted by social interactions, extroverts are filled up by them.” For myself, I do find that after I give a big online presentation or have a series of back to back phone calls, I need to take a nap. Yes, I’m a napper. Every day, for well more than a decade. I love naps.

But of course, that doesn’t mean I don’t like people. I love people! And I actually love connecting and having deep conversations. I mean, if you have ever met me, seen one of my workshops, or listened to my podcast, you hopefully get a sense that I love talking with people and am incredibly passionate about the connecting with writers, artists, and those who create.

It would be easy for me to say: “I’m an introvert, therefore I can’t put myself out there on Instagram.” But three thousand posts later, clearly I can. Or to say, “Do not ask me to be on video, I’m more comfortable in real-life conversations.” Yet I have recorded and shared thousands of videos over the years. And, I really like it, here’s one. I’ve made my own version of introversion work for me. I have embraced my boundaries, and in doing so, use them to ensure I can still create and share.

My boundaries are not meant to limit my life, but allow me to show up more fully to what matters most.

These limits have allowed me to show up with total presence and authenticity. You have your own version of all of this. I’m sharing my experience simply to illustrate that one can have serious preferences and still thrive in how they share and connect. My entire week is spent chatting with writers! I meet new people all the time! And I’ve developed ways to do it that feel comfortable for me.

Embracing Your Boundaries Helps You Share With Authenticity

To share with a sense of authenticity, I would encourage you to impose limits. This helps stave off a sense of feeling overwhelmed. I have this conversation with writers all the time, that in embracing how to share their writing, they are trying to master so many skills at once. It’s a lot. Take it one step at a time. Sometimes I think of it as a literacy… learning how to communicate what you create and why, learning how to write a newsletter (and how to send it), how to share on Instagram, how to send an email to a podcaster, how to ask for a book blurb, etc. The potential list of tasks for developing your platform as an author can be long.

The solution? Do less. Consider how you share as a craft that you develop. So perhaps instead of being active on Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, and a newsletter, you pick just one of those to focus on for awhile. But then, you show up all the way. You view it as a craft, not a tasks you do begrudgingly.

Or perhaps you flip how you think about social media, Instead of thinking of it as a way to gain attention for your writing, you view it as a tool to celebrate the creative work of others. So you promote other writers, you reply back to them in supportive ways, and you wake up each day considering how you can truly make a writer or reader feel seen today.

Recently I wrote about this topic in a post titled: Want to grow your platform? Do less. It’s applicable here. I also recorded a podcast version of that, so you can hear me talk about it. Then I recorded a video of that:

 

Yep, that’s me the introvert sharing via text, audio, and video. And loving it. I respect my boundaries and preferences. But when I consider how I want to spend my days — supporting writers and creators — I find ways to still create and share even with those boundaries.

As you consider your own goals in how you share what you create, I would simply encourage you to explore this for yourself.

Thanks.

-Dan

The marketing advice few writers want to hear

I was watching a video from a gardener the other day who has 56,000 subscribers on YouTube, and 11,200 subscribers on Instagram when she dropped a huge piece of marketing advice. She was putting out bouquets of flowers to sell at her farm stand, when she said:

“I take a picture of all my flowers, and immediately post on Facebook and Instagram. I used to post on my professional pages. Then I started posting that I was open on my personal pages, and that REALLY helped me out so much. It was that realization that the people buying my flowers are really my friends and neighbors. So getting it there on my personal pages really helps me out.”

 

This is the lesson that many writers and artists miss. Why? Well, often when we dream of developing an audience, we picture this:

STRANGERS.

I’ve asked this question to writers many many times: “Would you prefer people you know buy your book, or strangers.” Their face lights up with unquestioning certainty: “STRANGERS!”

Of course, every one of us only knows a small number of people, so we want strangers because that means there is a wider potential audience for what we write. But there are many writers I’ve spoken with who literally hide their creative work from friends and colleagues. And not because they find the subject matter to be embarrassing, or they feel it will negatively impact their job or friendships or anything. There can be a wide range of reasons:

  • They just don’t want the judgement from those they know.
  • They want to “make it” on their own, without feeling their friends and family were goaded into helping out. Or like they were calling in favors, and people were taking pity on them.
  • They don’t feel those they know will buy or like their book.
  • They don’t want to try on a new identity of “writer” to those who already know them in other roles (mother, sister, co-worker, accountant, etc.)

But what I often find is that to build momentum in how your creative work is shared, it starts with those you already have a connection with. Publishers know this. That is why if you sign with a traditional publisher, one of the first things they will do in terms of marketing is send you an “author questionnaire.” This document asks you to list out everyone who knows you. They want to know if you were in a sorority 30 years ago, what companies you worked for 15 years ago, and so on. Why do they care about every single person you know? Because that is where they will start with their marketing. They will look for opportunities within your existing network, because they know that people who already feel connected with you are more likely to purchase the book, or amplify it to others.

We all start with zero platform. My first email newsletter was sent to 9 people I worked with. I went office to office, asking permission to send it to them. Could I have dreamed that one day strangers would receive it? Sure. But I started with those who already knew me, and trusted me. I say this all the time, but your author platform is two things:

  1. Your ability to effectively communicate what you create and why
  2. Establishing a sense of trust with those you hope to reach

More than 15 years later, this newsletter does reach thousands of people. Are many of them people I have never spoken with directly? Sure. But many of them are people I know from my workshops, from social media, from a wide range of interactions and conversations. And that feels amazing.

If you don’t learn how to talk about your writing with those you already know, how will you ever know how to share it effectively with strangers?

I’ve been redoing my Key Messages, the core beliefs that drive what I create. What this has me doing is a deep dive inward about why I do the work I do. But it also has me in conversation with people, considering what language really speaks to people. I would encourage you to do that same thing. Learn how to talk about your creative work in a way that gets people to lean into those conversations, instead of turning away. One where it grows your identity as a writer or creator.

Some of your biggest and most unexpected “wins” as an author will come through your network. The distant cousin who learns of your book, and recommends it to someone he knows, who then invites you to their book club. Or the old friend who knows someone who runs a big podcast and invites you on as a guest.

Of course, over time, your work will reach strangers. But those strangers will also become acquaintances, repeating the cycle.

When they were just starting out, The Beatles dreamed of wider success. But their first audience was Paul’s dad in the other room. John and Paul were writing music in one room, and just finished creating “She Loves You.” Then, they walked into the next room and played it for Paul’s dad.

This is where sharing begins. Where we are. With what we have. With those we know. I’m not encouraging you to do anything that makes you seriously uncomfortable, but I don’t want you to overlook the value of sharing what you create with those around you. You never know the magical places it may lead.

Thanks.

-Dan

Generosity should be your platform

Next week I’m teaching a class that Jane Friedman is hosting! The title: “I Hate Social Media–Now What? How to develop word-of-mouth marketing, and get the publicity you want, with or without social media.” There is a $25 fee, and it will be a fun class. I prepared a brand new presentation just for this session. Register here.

Okay, onto today’s post…

So I saw this the other day, a new video from someone I follow on YouTube:

 

That is Rick Beato. In the past few years, has quickly amassed almost 3 million subscribers, creating videos analyzing music. With his newfound fame, he’s been landing in-depth interviews with Sting, Peter Frampton, Brian May and may others. In the video above, Rick is using his platform to give attention to a musician he greatly admires, but who hasn’t amassed much of a following online.

What Rick is doing here is shining a light on someone with generosity. His 11 minute video discusses why this other musician is so good, and encourages viewers to follow that musician on Spotify, YouTube, etc.

I love this.

Of course, the value of this kind of generosity is easy to see when it’s Rick with his 3 million followers. But you have this same power. You have the power to shine a light on writers, artists, and creators who inspire you. Your platform as a writer can be infused with generosity. In many ways, amplifying others is built into social media, via the “like” and “reshare” buttons. But what Rick is doing here is next level. I challenge you to do the same. And to be honest, I’m challenging myself to do the same.

Instead of just recommending a book here and there, instead of just doing a #FollowFriday on Twitter, instead of just linking to someone, what if you gushed about them? What if you celebrated them in a big way? What if you honored what they create? What could you do that would make their week, their month, or even their year. (Yes, I lifted that from the Friends theme song.)

What if you took on the role of someone who shares with ridiculous generosity? Back in December on my podcast, I did a profile on Zibby Owens titled, “What Zibby Owens Can Teach Us About Establishing Your Platform.” When she started her podcast interviewing authors, she didn’t just do one a month or one a week. At first it was one every 4-5 days. But then quickly it was one every 3 days. Then one every single day. Seriously, go look at her archive of podcast episodes, scroll alllllllll the way back to the beginning, then just look at the dates as you move forward in the list.

This is what generosity looks like.

It’s also what building a truly astounding career looks like. Every time I look, Zibby seems to be launching some huge new venture. It’s just amazing. I don’t have a way to characterize what she is achieving beyond how she describes herself on her homepage: “Zibby Owens. Author, Podcaster, Publisher, Entrepreneur, Book-fluencer, and Mother of 4.”

Why do this? Why focus on generosity when you may be approaching the idea of developing an author platform specifically to focus people on your writing? Well, for one, it feels good. I mean, the world is a complex place, if you can create a little bit of good in the world, that is a very — VERY — welcome thing.

So much of what it means to develop a platform is to not only grow awareness with what you create, but a sense of trust with readers and those who may share about your work. What gets people’s attention? To be seen. To be recognized. To feel an authentic connection. Of course, you want that for your work. But what if you initiated? What if you modeled the behavior you hope from others?

Want others to notice you? Notice them first.

What if you:

  • Identified other writers that your ideal readers may know.
  • Were then ridiculously generous in promoting their work.
  • Used that as an excuse to make a personal connection to the writer. And maybe even the readers.

This is work. It requires you to consider what other books your ideal readers already like. So many authors struggle with this. Then, it requires you to consider a critical question: what would truly support this author? I mean, beyond a retweet. Is it to give away their book? Promote their newsletter? Get people to an upcoming event?

Empathy is key here. To consider a metric that would really matter to this author. Something that would grab their attention. Some ideas:

  • Can you promote a book from someone that has been out for a year. Can you spend a week doing it? Like, you give the week a theme, you create a virtual party, you have some friends help you out.
  • Could you bake a cake with an authors book cover on it? Or better… bake cupcakes, but decorate each one as a different character from the book. Then share that on social media, maybe send them to the author.
  • Could you send the author a letter, written with a fountain pen, just gushing about their book? Seal the letter with wax, send them a photo of their book in a prime place on your bookshelf.
  • Could you organize 20 people to show up for an author event — all in costume from the book?

Are these ideas bonkers? Yep. Would every one of them get the attention of the author. OH YES. And of course, I’m just brainstorming here, there are thousands of other ideas. My point is this: don’t do the obvious easy thing. Go overboard. For writing. For art. For readers. For supporting the things you want to see more of in this world.

Oh, and this is applicable for reaching influencers too. But you don’t have to start there. Find a writer whose book could use some love. Then, deliver it.

Thanks.

-Dan

To engage readers: be consistent & delight them

Today I want to discuss two strategies for effectively marketing your writing that may seem to conflict with each other. Yet, both are essential. Here they are:

  1. Consistency Matters
  2. Delight and Surprise Your Audience

Let’s look at an example. This is a chart showing the growth in subscribers to an email newsletter. It’s similar to what a writer I’m working with is experiencing:

 

The line going from the lower left to upper right represents the number of newsletter subscribers. So you see two things here. The first is the big jumps, where there is a steep incline illustrating rapid subscriber growth. These were moments when something that the writer shared went mini-viral, or where they were featured by someone else who has a large audience. They are moments of “delight and surprise” where you message resonates and spreads rapidly.

Then you see the periods in between those moments, where there is slow but steady growth incrementally, one subscriber at a time. It is not as dramatic, but that is the difference between ending the week with 10 new subscribers than when you started. This is the value of consistency. Of sharing regularly, connecting often. That between periods of viral growth is steady growth.

Okay, let’s dig in to both strategies:

Consistency Matters

Last week I talked about understanding your goals as a writer to grow your platform, and focusing on conversion. So of course, this could be milestones such as book sales, book reviews on Amazon, newsletter subscribers, speaking invites, Instagram followers, etc. When you know the actions you want people to take, and you consistently focus on encouraging those actions, you will likely experience growth towards your goals.

So: just be consistent.

The other day I was reading an article about the advice that a leader in the technology space was giving to the many companies they work with. The context was how to plan for surviving an economic downturn. Among their advice:

“You can often pick up significant market share in an economic downturn by just staying alive.”

My translation: just focusing on the basics can ensure that your vision lasts and grows, even as others stumble in a difficult market. There is that famous quote that “80 percent of success is just showing up.” I’m simply encouraging you to consistently:

  1. Share your voice.
  2. Show up in the lives of your ideal readers.

Focus on the basics and do them well. This doesn’t sound difficult, but so many writers miss it. Whenever I’m helping an author create or optimize their website, we will look around at websites from comparable authors. What do we often find? That it’s easier than you think to create a great author website, because so many others seem to be filled with errors or missed opportunities.I am not trying to be judgemental or negative here. But what we often find on websites:

  • A contact form that gives an error when you try to use it.
  • A bio that is wildly outdated. It ends with something like, “I’m looking forward to good things to come in 2016!”
  • Banners on the homepage that are outdated: “Pre-order my book now! Publication date: September 2019.”
  • Dead ends: they still link to their Google+ account (this entire social network no longer exists) and to their Tumblr account, which they last updated in 2014.
  • Missing information: They don’t mention their new book, where they are speaking, or even the link to their Instagram account where they show up every day.

So just getting the basics right — accurate and updated information — will make your website be more effective than others.I’ve said this many times, but your platform as an author is about communication and trust. Your ability to share what you care about in a meaningful way, and to develop a sense of awareness and trust with those you do connect with. Consistency does that. What is the opposite? The old expression: “fly-by-night.” Someone who drops in when they have a book to sell, then disappears until they have another book to sell you years later. When you only show up in the lives of your readers when you want a transaction, it is no surprise that the readers feel that their connection to you is “transactional,” based on what you want from them.

When working with my writing clients, we develop an entire system to stay consistent in how they share. We develop their messaging, editorial calendar, schedule, and so much else. This doesn’t have to be complicated. Consider: how can you share your voice once a week? How can you show up in the lives of your readers once a week? Start there.

Delight and Surprise

What do your readers really want? From your books? From your appearances at book readings? From your sessions at a literary festival? From the essay you publish in a major publication? From your email newsletters? From your social media? They want to be delighted and perhaps surprised. This can happen in many ways:

  • The memoir reader who is surprised to finally feel seen in your story. They are shocked that someone put into words what they have felt their entire lives. It is a respite during a difficult year, the rare moment of delight.
  • The nonfiction reader who was surprised to find a truly compelling new way to approach a topic. And one that empowers them to take practical steps forward in a way that feels totally doable. For the first time in a long time, they feel delight in approaching this topic in a meaningful way.
  • The fiction reader who wants a story to grab them in an unexpected way. They want to read long into the night, and find that your book has allowed them to enter a compelling new world that sets their imagination on fire.

Yes, this can happen in a Tweet. An Instagram post. An email newsletter. It is common for someone to spend their day under the weight of responsibility. To their job. Their family. Their obligations. They look at social media hoping for something to pause on. Something that will delight and surprise them. They look to their email, to events, to essays for the same reason.

The “social” aspect of social media allows them to find this by seeing what others are talking about. To feel a part of this discovery process, and the conversation and reactions that happen because of it. Just like, decades ago, you would go to the office or show up somewhere, and everyone was talking about some TV show from the night before. You wanted to be a part of it.

The people who follow your work want a meaningful experience. That can be deep. It can be fun. It can be somewhere within the full range of human emotions. Create experiences for those you connect with. Delight and surprise them.

I spend a ridiculous amount of time on YouTube. What is the biggest thing on that platform? Reaction videos. These can be many things across a wide range of topics:

  • Unboxing video
  • Video game reactions
  • Song reaction videos, where someone listens to a classic song for the first time
  • Trick shot videos where it takes thousands of tries to get it right
  • Yard sale hunts and hauls
  • Yard cleanups
  • Building things, which covers a wide range of industries, from cement contractors to cobblers

I went to YouTube just now and immediately saw these three videos being recommended to me, all of which focus on reactions:

 

What will she think of Pulp Fiction? What did that person find at a yard sale? What will the woman’s reaction be to the yard cleanup? With a simple thumbnail and headline, they tease delight and surprise. Why are reaction videos so big? Because they promise the unexpected. They promise a real human moment. There is anticipation built in, and then… WOAH!!!! SOMETHING TOTALLY UNEXPECTED! SURPRISE! And… delight.

When working with writers, we focus on identifying their ideal audience with a great deal of specificity. We then conduct marketplace research to identify where those readers show up and what engages them. In doing so, we gain a lot of insight for how to come up with messaging, a content strategy, and marketing that can help reach their readers.

You may be looking at that chart at the top of this email and thinking, “Hmmm, it seems that ‘delight and surprise’ is where most of the growth comes from. Why not just focus on that, and not worry about consistency and systems?” And there is definitely a logic to that. The issue I have found is that consistency creates the opportunities to delight and surprise. It pushes you to create and share more often, increasing the likelihood of something delighting and surprising. You don’t always know what will go viral. But showing up to create and share consistently ensures you will find something… eventually. And in the meantime, you are sharing your voice and growing your audience. One day at a time, one person at a time.

And isn’t that the life of the writer and artist?

Thanks.
-Dan

4 critical steps to growing your audience

Today I want to talk about how to reach your goals as a writer. That may be book sales, or book reviews, or appearances, or getting essays published, or developing a following, or so much else. I will cover four key areas from a marketing perspective:

  • Proximity Matters
  • Focus on Conversion
  • Understand The Marketing Funnel
  • Double Down

Okay, let’s dig in…

Proximity Matters

So I’m reading the autobiography from an actor. It’s not someone I care about one way or another, but I simply heard the book was good. It’s Stories I Only Tell My Friends by Rob Lowe.

Early in his life, he lived in Dayton, Ohio, and found it difficult to catch a break with acting or entertainment. His big accomplishment at the time was being part of a singing group called “Peanut Butter and Jelly.”

But then, his mom moved his family to Malibu, California, not for any reasons related to acting. Suddenly, we see how proximity matters:

  • His neighborhood friends who he shot student movies with? Emilio Estevez, Sean Penn, Charlie Sheen, Chris Penn, and others who would find success later on. His house was 4 houses away from Martin Sheen.
  • He was classmates with a young Robert Downey, Jr. and hung out with Tom Cruise before either were famous.
  • The TV Show Charlie’s Angels recorded an episode at his brother’s school, so Rob showed up and asked advice from the people working on set. Someone told him, “Write a letter to Aaron Spelling, who produces this show.” Rob did, and got a reply back.
  • At a Dodgers game, he met the head puppeteer on the Muppet Show, who invited him to visit the set and show him how the production works.
  • At a different game, he also met someone who would later become his agent.
  • His aunt and uncle worked special effects on Star Wars, and gave Rob an early visit to the studio during filming. He saw all the ships and costumes a full year before the rest of the world.

Did any of these specific connections lead to later success? Nope. But he was immersed in the industry, developing his network, and undoubtedly these experiences and connections helped in some way. He was able to understand the true inner workings of various aspects of the entertainment industry. He could see how a sound stage worked long before he was paid to set foot on one. He would have hundreds of conversations of the experiences of other actors and filmmakers, as he formed his own trajectory in the industry.

This reminds me of an interview I once heard with MTV VJ Martha Quinn, who shared the best advice she was ever given:

“Martha, you’ve got to get in the life. You’ve got to go where the life is happening that you want to be in.”

She concluded: “Be involved in whatever you want to be.” The context is this: Martha wanted to get into radio or journalism, and the result of that advice was that she moved to New York, where she got the gig to launch MTV.

This is why I encourage you to show up where your ideal readers are. Because even that prompt begs so many other questions for you to research: who are my ideal readers, what else do they read, what engages them, who do they follow, where do they show up, and on and on.

Proximity matters. If you are distant from your readers, if you don’t know who they are, where they show up or how to engage them, is it any surprise when they don’t magically appear when you release your next book?

Find your ideal readers. Then go to where they are. Get involved. Have conversations. Be a part of what they are a part of.

Focus on Conversion

People who succeed often focus on conversion. That is a sales term. A “conversion” is when someone goes from being a prospect to a customer. That is sometimes when money changes hands, but a conversion point can be many things: a subscriber, a follower, speaking at a book club, getting book reviews, etc. Consider: what is the one metrics that matters most to you?

The other day I was watching a video that showcased artist Zach Hsieh’s rise on YouTube. He now has 24 million subscribers. MILLION. And half of those he amassed in a single year. It’s astounding.

I hadn’t heard of him before, so when I went to his YouTube channel I saw this as his banner up top:

 

Here is someone who has more subscribers than any of us can imagine. The very first thing he asks? “Please subscribe.”

This is someone who is laser focused on the conversion point — the metric — that matters most to him and his business. To get that subscriber leads to various ways he can engage with a member of his audience. Which leads us to…

Understand The Marketing Funnel

So many writers and creators focus on the idea of getting a sale for their book, but they don’t understand the journey to that sale. The sale of your book is not the goal. It is part of a much longer process of someone becoming aware of your work. Considering it. Testing it out. Engaging with it. Then… finally… they buy your book.

But that isn’t the end.

Your hope is not just for $10 or $15 or $20, is it? No, it is for them to read the book. To appreciate the book. To have it move them. Perhaps then you hope they leave a review, or tell a friend, or support your work in some other way, or buy your next book. The book sale is only midway through the marketing funnel. This is a typical marketing funnel (from my book, Be the Gateway):

 

Conversion is only halfway through it. From there, you hope to develop true fans of your work, who will recommend your books to others and look forward to what you write next.

Consider that progression to your conversion points. Where you create value, and where you have meaningful engagements with your ideal readers. Because your platform is not how many followers you have. It is how much trust a single reader has with you.

Double Down

You can’t half bake this. If you truly want to reach your goals as a writer, I encourage you to double down it on. To care about it more than anyone else will, because, well, that’s the reality.

Go beyond “best practices.” Why? Well, if pursue “best practices,” that means you are doing barely enough. A copy of a copy of a copy of what everyone else is doing. In the most minimal manner.

Recently I’ve been researching the career of Quentin Tarantino. Do I particularly like him as a person? Nope. Do I agree with all of his decisions? Nope. So what am I learning from his career? Well, it goes back to a quote from many years ago from Scott Johnson:

“Caring is a powerful business advantage.”

Quentin loves movies and is legendary for his research and obsession with them. It’s fascinating to listen to how he crafts a movie, the level of detail, to hear him talk about aspects of film I had never before considered, and hear from others who tell stories of his total obsession with film. Here is a photo of him before he became a filmmaker, of course, working at a VHS rental store. Everyone working in this store would say they love movies. But with Quentin, it went to a whole new level:

 

What resonates with me about people who succeed in their creative field is their depth of focus. Their ability to care more about this than anyone around them. A lot of times that just comes down to getting involved, having conversations and experiences. For Quentin that was simply spending thousands of hours… watching movie. Reading about movies. Experiencing movies.

I am listening to an hourlong podcast with Quentin where he lists every movie he saw in the theater in 1979. He was 16 years old that year. Let me ask you: how many movies did you watch when you were 16? Well, for Quentin, it was more than 65 movies. In the theater! But more than that, as he discussed them, he talked about who the directors were, who the cast was, he put each movie in context, but also honed in on details. And that’s just one year from his life. A typical comment from a listener of this episode:

“Being about year older than Tarantino I can totally relate to all of this…I’ve seen and heard of most of these films, but even NOW there are a few films mentioned here I’ve NEVER heard of until now haha…and I thought I was a fairly well-versed film buff, but Tarantino has me beat on that one by a country mile. He’s a virtual walking encyclopedia of film going back to the earliest Hollywood movies INCLUDING [international] films.”

Maybe you can’t move to the city you feel your career may thrive. But thankfully, because of the internet, you can email nearly anyone. You can show up to online groups and virtual events. You can follow and engage with like minded people through a variety of channels online. And you can share your voice. This is powerful, so much more powerful than we make out.

I’m sure if I walked into that video store in the 1980s, Quentin would have a powerful voice about what I should and shouldn’t watch. But when I left those walls, his voice would disappear.

Today, with newsletters and social media and email and video and so much else, your voice can move beyond the four walls where you sit. That is an opportunity in developing your author platform, if you want to take it.

How you share is a craft. Oftentimes your focus should not be on constantly following the latest trend, but going deeper into these strategies:

  • Proximity Matters
  • Focus on Conversion
  • Understand The Marketing Funnel
  • Double Down

Thanks.
-Dan