Crippled CEO Blog #077:
I was originally going to send this as advice in a text message, but then realized y’all might also find it useful. Also, she reads the blog, so it’ll be fun when she sees it. (She won’t get mad, will she? Nah.)
She’s been struggling with a likely common conundrum — one I struggled myself with, but via a different platform.
She believes, with excellent reason, that optimum success in her particular freelance industry requires a large and engaged Instagram audience, but abhors the thought of doing what’s required to achieve that result. She doesn’t enjoy the process, or the effect it has on her as a person. But she does want the success she sees the top performers in her space enjoying, at least in part, from their IG prowess.
Instagram does work. If you enjoy the work that goes into flourishing there, and you’re good at it, you will have good results. And that’s exactly what you’re seeing there: people thriving in the place they belong.
The problem is that if you, as a consumer of content, do most of that consuming in one place, only see people succeeding there, that seems to be the only path forward.
If you spend most of your time on Facebook, you think you need to do well on Facebook. If you’re on Pinterest all the time, you think Pinterest is the key. When we set up a new dealer, if they are an avid TV watcher, they tell me they want to try a TV commercial.
It happened to me. The platform I spend most of my time on is YouTube. And so, I saw all of the people that I look up to, doing what I want to do, killing it on YouTube, and decided that was the necessary path to success. The problem is that I am a cripple who looks crippled, who talks faster than people can understand, who can’t hold a camera, with zero video editing skills — YouTube isn’t for me. You know what is for me? Writing a weekly blog. It uses the things that I am good at and enjoy. Also, managing a team of specialists for all the other things. I’m good at that as well. That’s what works for me.
If the idea of posting constantly to Instagram gives you anxiety, then don’t do it. You don’t want to follow other people’s roadmaps for their success. That works for them. But you are a different person, with a unique set of skills, talents, values, and preferences. Maybe you’re better off making longform YouTube videos about the state of your industry, or sharing the unique way that you do your craft. Maybe fun TikTok videos are the right thing for you. Maybe you host a podcast/YouTube channel where you interview the top performers in your space, and you then become a coveted authority due to the host advantage (which I previously wrote about here: https://crippledceo.com/2020/11/crippled-ceo-blog-055-the-host-advantage/). Maybe you create a documentary/docuseries following the path of your business, detailing your growth and improvement, and/or your development of a new innovation you are creating. Maybe you write a weekly blog and post it on Facebook. Maybe you create and sell an online course for other practitioners, and you not only get income from this course, but its existence makes you an expert/authority/thought leader, allowing you to charge a lot more — the goal with freelance work, always, is to have the smallest number of hand chosen dream clients as possible, whom you charge a rate most would think is crazy. Or maybe you just spend all of your time focusing exclusively on your craft, let your reputation grow organically, nurture your customer evangelists, and get to your dream client scenario that way.
You want to double down on your strengths and do what you enjoy. If you’re doing things that make you happy, that you excel in, then eventually you will win. It’s inevitable. It’s a bullet proof recipe for success. Trying to force yourself to do what works for other people rarely works out for the best.
And it is important to remember that, as counterintuitive as it sounds, we have learned from Seth Godin that we are seeking the MINIMUM viable audience — we are trying to focus on the subset of customers who will be ecstatic with our work, for whom we are the perfect fit. We are looking for our tribe. Kevin Kelly wrote about the concept of 1,000 true fans — that if we can get 1,000 people who really adore our work, who spend $100-$200 a year on us, we can do really well. Likewise, if we can get 100 people to pay us $1,000 a year, we are also doing pretty well.
And if we are only looking for our fan club, our tribe, our dream customers, then chances are they are going to be the kind of people who will appreciate our unique approach. They will like that we don’t promote our work in the same way as everybody else. To them, we will stand out amongst the herd.
And that’s it. If you are stressing out because you think that the best way to market yourself is something you either don’t like or you aren’t good at, I have good news: that makes it the wrong choice for you. It definitely is the right choice for those other people who excel at that thing. But you are different. You have a path that they can’t do, and down the road, maybe they’ll be looking at what you do, envious, wishing that they could do the same.
(I’m not even going to tell you about the path your mom takes. She definitely does get my text with a link to the latest blog every Sunday, though. Just send a message to 484848 with the word CRIP and you’ll become an instant VIP.)