As I dive deeper into formulating marketing plans and writing sales copy for upcoming Pygmy Nuthatch projects, I’m becoming more keenly aware of the fact that there’s a LOT of spammy sales lingo out there. Even people I generally respect in the world of business and creativity fall into this trap sometimes.
For example, I won’t name names but I just deleted an email out of my inbox that started with this:
Something must have went wrong… Because we still need you to confirm your address for your FREE 6-part video <Insert Product Name Here>.
No sir, nothing went wrong. You don’t need me to confirm anything. I never requested this from you in the first place. I don’t care if your 6-part video is free. I’m just not interested in your product. Sorry!
Now I get why people send stuff out like this. I get why people put up landing pages with this kind of spammy sales lingo. They work! So do popup email subscription forms that websites thrust in your face and make you click X to close. Over and over again studies show that email signup popups convert very well.
But the question is, at what cost? Sure you might convert 2%, 5%, even 10% of your audience. But what if you’re also turning off 5% or 10% of your audience? What if you’re pissing off some of the very same people you’re trying to attract? What if your disrespect for your audience’s intelligence and your disregard for good user experience is actually working against you?
I know that I could start employing tactics on this blog right now that would bring me more email subscribers. I know I could start using my mailing list in certain ways to convert leads into customers and make real money. But I’m just not willing to go there.
I’m not comfortable with compromising my values to make a quick buck. It’s just not worth it. There are other ways to make an honest living. I would rather grow my audience and subscriber base organically and honorably. I would rather be known as the guy who is respectful of his audiences’ time and attention and who prizes good user experience over annoying sales techniques. And if that hurts me in the pocketbook in the meantime, so be it.
What are you doing in the pursuit of success as an independent creator? I’m not here to judge. But I encourage you to think through the decisions you make for your marketing strategies and how the ramifications of your ideas will affect real people.
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You have to be a little bit crazy to pursue your calling, because at times it will seem to everyone around you like you’re chasing after something that’s just not possible. And if you’re not careful, you’ll start telling yourself that too. Oh that idea is too outlandish! Too ambitious! Too controversial! Too unrealistic!
But here’s the thing: if that’s how you feel, then you’re probably doing exactly what you’re supposed to be doing.
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I feel like I’ve spent my whole life trying to find a “theory of everything” to tie all the things I most love to do together into one pursuit. Like somehow, if I get the mixture just right, I can blog and write music and create software and record podcasts and comment on the latest Apple news and produce videos and open an art gallery…all at the same time for the same audience.
I’ve finally come to realize that this is likely never going to come to pass. And that’s fine. With the wisdom that comes from experience, you begin to realize that seasons in life come and go. Sometimes you feel an urge to focus on one particular skillset, one particular customer base, one particular industry. You turn your attention onto that for a time, and then the season changes and something else comes along to light a fire in your belly.
My advice? Don’t fight it. Roll with it. Not everyone will like everything you do. Some projects you undertake will resonate with a lot of people, others perhaps not. What’s most important is that you don’t engage in self-censorship. Don’t sideline important aspects of your creative soul just because you’re afraid of how others might take it.
After George W. Bush concluded his presidency, he moved back to Texas and took up painting. Probably not the first thing anyone would have guessed he’d do next after leaving the White House, and there were plenty of people ready to scoff at the idea of President Bush at an easel with a brush in hand. But that’s exactly what he did, and it’s now a common acknowledgement—even among many of his political critics—that he’s actually a pretty good artist.
I suspect you won’t be stepping down as President to reach for the blue ochre any time soon, but it’s very probable your career as an independent creator will morph and evolve over time. Don’t do what I’ve done and agonize over every little shift in focus and interest. Embrace your insatiable curiosity! Every true artistic breakthrough is born out of discontent with the status quo…even if that status quo is your own.
The one problem with being a web designer and a blogger is the temptation to continually be tweaking how things look. Well, I gave in to that temptation today and updated the typography here on Pygmy Nuthatch. I have some larger design changes in mind, but these days I always start out a design project with a look at the typography first. And when I found some new typefaces I just loved, I just couldn’t resist updating the site now rather than wait for bigger design changes to come.
The body font I’m using now is Le Monde Livre, designed by Jean François Porchez of Typofonderie. I like the slightly chunky feel of the serif letters which blend well with the new heading font—Apoka by The Northern Block.
I’ll miss my uppercase bold italic headings of the previous design, but overall I’m quite pleased with the changes. I hope you like them too!
I’ve had my George Bailey moment.
I’ve experienced that moment of hot dread when you look at your dwindling income and your mounting expenses and realize there’s absolutely no way to make that ledger add up.
I’ve been there when Christmas is coming and you feel like you must have made Santa’s naughty list because the only holiday present you have to look forward to is a late notice from your landlord.
I know all too well that feeling of panicked desperation where if things don’t turn around FAST, you know you’re in for a world of hurt.
What do you do when your gigs dry up? What do you do when your digital product sales drop like a stone? What do you do when your family’s clamoring to go shopping at the mall and you’re wondering how you’ll go shopping for a tank of gas?
Do you hide in your closet? Stay in bed and don’t get out? Drive off into the woods and scream? Cry on your partner’s shoulder? Get on your knees and pray?
Yes. All of those things and more. And then you get up, put on some fresh clothes, pick up the phone, and call an old client. A friend. A potential lead. You post that “looking to pick up another client” message in your industry networking group. You polish up your marketing collateral. You search every damn job board you can think of and start making connections.
Oh, it’s not easy. It’s frustrating and hard and it sucks. But I’ve done it. And so can you.
“They say that money doesn’t matter if you love your work–
Who would say that?
Probably some penniless jerk!”
–Mr. Krabs, the SpongeBob SquarePants Musical