A reader writes in, frustrated and disheartened.
He’s been writing a weekly email for two years now, and it’s not turned into big results yet.
Mostly because while he’s been working away creating articles (which his readers love), but not creating traffic.
And that’s like having a beautiful shop in the desert: People just don’t show up to see it.
So yeah, traffic. Gotta have some.
Here’s what he wrote to me:
“I probably have to really put time into getting traffic too – but you know it takes away from the art.
“I feel like I shouldn’t have become an artist but some kind of traffic guru.
“Why am I having to learn things that I will never be an expert at and which take too much of my time.
“Sorry for the moan but I think a lot of artists face this dilemma.
Yes, things can be disheartening.
And yes, lots of entrepreneurs and freelancers and artists struggle with this.
So this is what I told him:
“These are stages that we all go through.
“We feel all kinds of things (and yes, myself included): insufficient, dumb, idiot, unqualified, hopeless – you name it.
“If there’s any kind of human frailty, I’ve either lived it, felt it, or feared it.
“But in the words of the great philosopher Paul Simon: “What are you going to do about it, that’s what I’d like to know?”
“Wasting time, in my opinion that doesn’t exist.
“Not if you’re creating something.
“Not if you’re stretching yourself and giving yourself challenges.
“So you’ve put in a bunch of time, and it hasn’t paid off yet.
“You’ve done the training, but you didn’t win the marathon.
“Did you not become smarter, stronger, faster?
“Did you not learn, evolve, and grow?
“You did. So how can that be a waste of time?
“The question to ask is:
“With what I’ve put in and the results it got me, what can I do differently to get different or better results?
“I know this article [one of my more confronting ones - Ed.] is a hard one to accept: even if we want to cheer for the success others have, that doesn’t mean we don’t feel a pang at the injustice of it all, given the quality of our work and the effort we’ve put in.
“Again, present company included.
“So you’ve written 100 articles.
“Just stop for a moment, and reflect on the size of that accomplishment, my friend.
“100 – you’ve been at this game for two years?
“Realise that most 90% of artists never get to 10, before throwing in the towel and going back to the default entitlement of:
“’But I’m an artist and for that alone the universe should simply give me money, now get out of my studio’.
“So why should you have to learn things you won’t ever be an expert at?
“Two parts to the answer:
“First, you don’t have to become an expert, all you need is to become good enough at it.
“That bar is far lower.
“Next, the actual why of it: because it’s the only way.
“You need eyes on your work, that’s where it all starts.
“How you get those eyes to turn, that’s up for deliberation:
“Hire an SEO guy…
“Get interviewed on podcasts (you’d do great on those, actually)…
“Become good at social media…
“Organise a group exhibition and leverage each other’s networks…
“Get galleries to pick you up, or indeed:
“Doing what you do very well: place yourself, while painting, there where people stop to look.
“There’s no one perfect recipe, there’s only your own perfect mix – and the arduous road to discovering what goes into that mix.
“Dan Kennedy and his paid optin incentive? [A free book, but you pay for shipping - Ed.]
“Sure, that works – but don’t forget that he works with huge numbers of visitors and uses highly advanced marketing techniques.
“If he has an optin incentive that actually requires a new subscriber to part with a few dollars, that’s a perfect filter but it’s also something that requires large numbers for it to work.
“For an artist such as yourself, it’s not what I would recommend.
“But I do recommend that you don’t overthink what your optin incentive needs to be.
“If you say ‘exciting’, my fear is that you’re too focused on the size and impact of it. “Remember, you’re offering a simple solution: your work delivered automatically to those who are interested, and you’re asking for a very small return: an email address.
“The freebie you offer is nothing more than a ‘hey and here’s something extra, for free, because I hope you’ll like it’. That’s the size of it.
“Still not clear?
“Then what if you go through those 100 posts, and pick the five or six best ones, those that give a nice and personal look into your work and inspiration?
“Put them in a doc, edit as needed, include images, call it something like ‘Colour studies of life abroad – the adventures of an Englishman far from home’ or something like that, and stick it on your site as an optin incentive?
“It can be as simple as that, and from the pieces I’ve seen you write, the quality is there.
“Then there’s traffic generation, a whole different beast, and it’s got fangs too.
“Listen, why don’t we get on skype, and I’ll try to help you design a roadmap of things to do that focus on optimising what you’re good at?
“If you’ve put in this much, my feeling is that what would help most right now, is looking at the missing links and weak spots.
“I’d love to help.
“Let me know…
The problem with many of us is that we see the world in a certain way, and we can’t shift our view enough to perceive a different reality.
This is what my work as a coach is about:
Getting you to let go just a little, so that you can shift your perspective, redefine your view, context, and reality.
100 articles with little results – that’s a depressing view.
Transform that to ‘major accomplishment, taught me a lot, now let’s fix a few missing pieces’ and everything looks completely different.
As I’m fond of saying:
Whatever you think you see is 100% of the time not what the thing or situation actually, really is.
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