I hate marketing.
Not all marketing. I think there are effective, non-invasive ways to do it. But so much of what’s done online today just smacks of ‘sell sell sell’ over producing real value and doing something important. It’s all newsletter numbers and pop-ups and metrics that I can’t quite convince myself to care about.
I haven’t always felt this way. Like most people starting their first blog, many years ago I followed marketing guides I found online, all of which purported to help me grow my audience and increase my revenue. I tried most of them, figuring that I just didn’t have the experience to know why it was okay to hurl annoying advertisements at my readers, or that I lacked the sophistication to understand why blogs should do nothing but drive traffic to paid products.
I’m not entirely certain this is still not the case, that I’m not making a mistake in ignoring all that marketing advice, but I do know that I enjoy blogging a lot more now that I’ve stopped making such things a focus.
I love being able to write what I want, unconcerned about going viral or constructing the perfect headline. I love not feeling pressured to add one more list or how-to guide to the dog pile of lists and how-to’s the blogosphere has become. I love being okay with telling stories or writing essays that don’t have a point beyond telling a story or sharing a thought; no sales pitch, no upsell, no marketing ploy, no promising some kind of ‘free ebook’ if you sign up for whatever-the-hell.
My new approach is naïve, in a way, and I know this. I know that I could be selling more work by putting more pressure on my readers to buy my books and share the links with their friends and so on and so forth.
But it’s a naïveté I’ve earned, I think: I’ve put in the time so that I don’t have to be that guy. So that I can produce what I want, make it available for those who want it, and leave it at that. I don’t want the relationship I have with my readers to be a sales relationship. I want the sales, if they occur, to be secondary; incidental, even.
I’ve been thinking about this a lot lately, as I’ve written more and published more and put together a lot more products and services of which I’m proud. I’ve been trying to come up with a way to write about how much fun I’m having with these sellables — dabbling in different genres, playing with different shapes and sizes and colors of fiction and nonfiction, and experimenting with different publishing vehicles and media — without falling into the same marketing pit trap I’ve been studiously avoiding for the last several years.
I don’t want to inundate this space with marketing messages. I want to talk shop, and I want to share what I’m passionate about, but I don’t want this to become the type of dreaded, all-too-common, purely transactional exchange I’ve been trying to avoid. I don’t want readers filtering every word I write, wondering what I might be trying to sell them today, rather than what ideas I’m trying to share for the sake of the ideas themselves.
So what I’ve done is set up a separate page for my work. A place where I have all my paid offerings, some free stuff, and upcoming projects in one place, so you can see what I’ve got in terms of books, classes, newsletters, and the like. I’ll link to the site sometimes (making it available to folks who want it), but otherwise will endeavor to keep this place as marketing-free as possible.
I’m not sure if this is the ideal way to set things up, separating the paid work from the free work, and it very well may be a mistake in terms of what ‘moves product’ better, promotes upsells, and whatever the hell else I’m supposed to be agonizing over.
But the point isn’t to sell more — it’s to ensure that I still enjoy writing here, completely free, and producing the work featured over there, where I can sell it for the lowest price possible while still making a living.
It’s about continuing to enjoy my work. And holy wow do I enjoy it.
Update: April 12, 2017
Man, do I still love the hell out of my work.
And huh, I forgot that I didn’t start my Colin.io site until the end of 2013. It kind of feels like I’ve always had it, at this point. Separating it out did help me maintain my enthusiasm for the blog, I think.