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Why You’ll Fail if You Focus on “Doing What You Love”Let me guess. You started your blog, shop, or business because you wanted to live the dream. You wanted to make some money doing what you love, immerse yourself in projects that are truly your own, and pursue what you’re passionate about. Sound familiar? Well, I have some bad news for you: If you focus on doing what you love, you’ll fail. Those who are truly successful in building a lifestyle business – whether that be around a passion or just a need they saw in the market – are marketers first.
- You can be the most amazing personal trainer in the world but you’ll fail if you can’t market yourself.
- You can be the best freelance writer but it will fall flat if you don’t know how to get your target market’s attention.
- And you can open the most amazing shop with all of the most popular products at the best possible prices, but guess what? You’ll be closed in no time (and stuck with all that inventory) if you can’t drive traffic to it.
Strategy #1: Stop Making Silly Excuses For Why You “Can’t” Learn MarketingI’m a relatively good digital marketer so I get the same question over and over: You must have gone to school for this, right? This isn’t the case. I started my career in Business, yes, but my major was Human Resources. I spent the first 6 years of my career recruiting employees, in staff disciplinary meetings, and knee deep in union management. Not exactly online marketing. I learned marketing completely organically. And sure, it’s easy to write me off. After all, I’ve been blogging and building online businesses for almost a decade. And, plus, I’m a millennial. I grew up in the digital age. But the raw truth is that while I did generate a decent income on my online businesses and blogs before I got good at marketing, those were different times and I was mostly selling ads. The internet doesn’t work like that anymore. I’ve learned every single thing I know about how to generate traffic to a brand new website, how to explode growth on social media and rapidly build your email list, and generate a steady stream of sales, clients, and customers… relatively recently. The cool thing is, no matter your industry or niche, you can do the same. You just have to have a growth mindset. A growth mindset is the assumption that your abilities and qualities are flexible and could grow over time – rather than a fixed mindset, which is the assumption that your qualities and abilities are set in stone and can’t be changed. In this context, you have to believe that you can learn about marketing, and that you can become good at it. You might not be now, but that’s not a business death sentence. Mostly though, a growth mindset is rare. I see this over and over with coaching clients, friends, and even family members. Unfortunately more often with my female clients, and with Boomer clients and older (though this is not exclusive to them): They believe they either have it, or they don’t. And this is just not true. So if you want to master marketing, let’s set some ground rules:
- Don’t use “not growing up with the internet” as a reason to suck at online marketing or (or as a pass to avoid it completely) unless you want to… well, actually suck at marketing.
- Don’t half-ass your attempt to learn marketing, and then throw up your hands in frustration when 3 months after your half-ass attempts nothing is working.
- Don’t write marketing off as “not for you” if the channel you’ve chosen isn’t giving you the garden of Eden you were hoping for. Try another channel. Look at what you were doing that was off. Model yourself after somebody who has been successful.
Strategy #2: Ditch the CoursesWhen you Google “how to learn digital marketing,” most of the sponsored results promote online digital marketing courses, certificates, and training. General “digital marketing” courses will not teach you anything of use. Marketing is a huge body of knowledge, spanning from positioning and product to advertising and paid media, to branding and design. The best education is execution (see Strategy #7 below), and you can’t execute “digital marketing.” If you must take a course, then choose a specific marketing function and dedicate the next couple of years to complete mastery of that function. Take courses specific to that, and ensure your instructors are qualified to teach it. Qualified means they:
- Built the knowledge base needed to create the course through experience and not a textbook
- Have a proven track record applying that knowledge within a company (or group of companies if consulting) that’s not a “teach people how to do marketing” company
Strategy #3: Look At Your Own BehaviourOne question I always ask myself when I’m trying to figure out how to do something is this:
Why did I do X?So for example, if I want to get more eyes on my articles, the question would be:
“Why did I read the last article I read?”The answer might be:
- I saw the headline on Twitter and thought it sounded interesting
- I clicked on a sponsored Facebook post in my news feed
- One of my friends sent it to me through email
- I found it on Google because I was searching for information about the topic.
“What made me buy the last information product you bought?”And the answer is usually something like:
- I attended a webinar and it convinced me
- The product had a really great bonus
- The product was something I was already interested in but it was on sale.
Strategy #4: Study Successful Companies Within (And Outside of) Your NicheI learned what I know about marketing a lot like I learned how to write bomb-diggity content: Through copying other people. OK, don’t get your shackles up. I’ve never plagiarized and won’t start now. When I wanted to improve my writing — trust me, it wasn’t always pretty — I chose to study a couple of writers I admired. I chose which writers to study by thinking about what I wanted from my own content. I wanted readers to:
- Find the content engaging and interesting enough to read the entire article and get to the bottom of the page
- Take action on the content, rather than just reading it passively and doing nothing with the information when they finished reading
- Be inspired, motivated, and learn something new from each piece I published.
Strategy #5: Have a Singular FocusIf you’re one of my clients, you’ll know this phrase (because I say it all the time):
If you chase two rabbits at once, you’ll catch neither.This is a native American saying that applies to more than just Elmer Fudd. It applies to anyone trying to learn marketing, too. If you’re trying to learn anything – whether that be a skill, a sport, or (especially) a language, the best way to do so is through immersion. Why would marketing be any different? Mastering one channel is how:
- I grew Sumo’s Instagram account from 1,000 followers to 85,000 in just 3 months
- Nico build his copywriting business to a full-time income in just 2 months
- Assya went viral with guest posting in under a month.
Spending the entire 4 hours mastering one marketing channel, getting to know it intimately and testing to see what works?Or…
Spending 1 hour on Twitter, 1 hour on Instagram, and 1 hour on paid Facebook ads? Wondering where the fourth hour went? You’d waste it to the cost of task switching.I can tell you with absolute certainty that the former option will be far more effective. The good news is, this is simple. Choose a marketing platform — whatever your target audience responds to the most — and tackle it with fervor. The bad news is, while it’s totally simple, it’s not easy. Even I get distracted between the many marketing opportunities out there. Before I let you move to the next point, I have to say this… When I say tackle one channel, I mean one extra channel. Email marketing is absolutely non-negotiatable. So is content marketing (unless you have an eCommerce store or focusing on mostly client work). For the first little while, email marketing is the one channel you need to tackle. Then, content marketing. But once you have the hang of those, pick a social media marketing platform, or a paid platform and make that your singular focus.