I decided to stop whining this week.
I mean no one was listening, so I’m already saving time.
Now I have all this spare time on my hands so I wrote down what to do in 2021, the next 12-Week Year is looming at the beginning of January, and I am mad for it!
How and when to make a JFDI decision
I’ve been part of a UK based group of freelancer content marketers for around five years now.
It is very accurate to say we’ve all grown together by having online calls and 90 Day Writing challenges every week for all that time.
I remember in 2016 when he was pondering if it was worth the effort or if he’d be any good.
I can’t remember when, but I remember Col deciding to “just fucking do it” (JFDI) – I think we were in a mastermind group call together.
Then a few weeks later he’d gone from a ‘shaking wreck’ to knocking out videos like Roger Federer knocking out tennis shots.
After what seems like ten minutes later Col had over 500 views on videos, then 1000 and now many of his videos have been watched over 50,000 times.
90 Day Writing Challenge
So it was the last week of the latest 90 Day Writing Challenge, where we all submit content by midnight Sunday night and then Martin and Lyndsay feedback on a call every Wednesday.
Yes, that is right, we have an accountability group to submit our published work on Sunday, and two highly skilled pro grown-ups feedback every week.
How could you NOT SUCCEED in these conditions?
I’ve been doing this for around five years now, and I still find it hard, the challenge that happened over the summer was the first one I’d done every week without fail EVER.
I was super pleased, my all-round ability and focus had grown like never before — writing, figuring out my messaging and fine-tuning a sentence is such a part of my life.
But this last round, I skipped a few weeks, I found it hard to get my rhythm, because so much was going on in life and work.
I did not know what to do.
Why did I drop the ball in the challenge?
I’d gone from building a ‘freelance practice’ selling marketing consultancy to being a ‘Chief Operating Officer’ (COO) who is building a company, team, marketing plan and everything else that goes with all those OOO’s.
I’ve met a lot of ‘COO’s’ at conferences, but I was unsure what they do all day to keep their jobs.
So I shot over to audible and typed in ‘COO”, up popped Tim Cook, by Leander Kahney and I read it in two days.
Tim was COO of Apple before Steve Jobs died, and grew the company more than ever since.
What does a COO do all day?
Strategy and make sure there is enough money in the company so everyone can get paid.
I can do that.
I LOVE strategy – and my Clifton Strengthsfinder tells me I’m good at it so I’m ok!
The feedback on my work
So anyway, there I am listening to the feedback on my last blog in the 90-Day Challenge, and Martin goes into my content and starts highlighting where it lacks clarity in the headers and then goes into the headline and how it should be better.
I snap for a second, don’t you know what I’m going through?
I only just sorted the writing and figured out messaging – now you want the headline done too?
And then I think, fu<k me Martin is right.
Well, of course, he is right.
That is why I turn up every week for this ‘content kick in.’
Why do you do that?
I particularly trust the judgement, style and values of Martin and Lyndsay their book Content Fortress will show you why I love them.
But this content skill building – does it ever end?
No, and that is the point – the quest for clarity and connection in our communication is never ending.
Are we there yet?
It went much faster when I had the guts to ask for help after the first week.
All these people are making little actions, thinking and checking things to make the whole thing happen.
I love it.
My head hurts and I still love it.
We’ve listened to interviews in the Otter app, researched and designed slide decks (thanks Mohamed and Annija) mapped out wireframes, jumped into calls at a moment’s notice, debated the exact word or term.
We’re using the ‘StoryBrand way’ and ‘Big Five – Content Marketing Topics’ as our framework and putting our own spin on it all.
StoryBrand Website Process
What came up is how unbelievably unclear some stuff we intended to use was.
What was even worse is that I was excited about some lines that were the marketing equivalent of putting a photo of a dead baby seal on an origami website for children.
See, that is why you need good people around you – like the ‘we’.
So, back to Martin
What Martin pointed out to me I already knew.
I’d rushed the whole headline thing.
It made sense if you knew me, but anyone else?
The harsh reality is this:
No one gives a flying F@<k what you have going on, especially when they land on your website and can’t work out in 5 seconds what it is about.
If you’re not super clear about helping people, they won’t stick around to work out what you do.
Everyone wants to be Apple
Everyone wants to be Apple, but they load their websites up with hundreds of things.
All these things confuse people, and when you confuse people, they don’t do anything.
People forget Steve Jobs cut Apple’s product range from something like 300 things to 10, and between product launches, the company gradually grew in revenue and profits.
>> Fun fact — it took Apple 42 years to become a $1 trillion business, they became a $2 trillion business in the space between March and August 2020 – Source: Post Corona In Crisis There Is Opportunity – Scott Galloway
Said another way they sold A LOT of Apples in the first few months of COVID 2020.
The real price of confusion
In StoryBrand the constant riff is — ‘if you confuse you’ll lose’ – with messaging, ‘cute and clever’ words, flashy graphics and a whole host of other things.
But I think the most significant price you pay is confusing yourself.
Around a decade ago, I worked out how to make a website, well, I had to get other people to ‘make it’ — but I could not stop making websites and buying URLs.
Only a few of them ever happened.
I had no idea how much time I should spend on each site.
When I got down to a couple of websites, life took off.
All change please – JFDI
A few weeks ago, I started to get clarity on my new role in life and business, and again I can’t remember where I was.
Still, I started to unsubscribe from all the email newsletters about building an online course, company, product and everything else — I know where to find them if I ever need them.
I remember in 2004 as I was starting to ‘end my drug taking career’ the girl I was dating stopped dating me because I’d been out ‘one last time’.
The crap thing is I’d promised her I had quit everything, she was not a fan of ‘4 am party Bernie.’
I was sick and tired of ‘4 am party Bernie’ too, so I could see her point.
She told me I had to have the guts to close the door on ‘partying’ and throw away the key.
One ‘last night out’ did not work, after all this was my life not the Rolling Stones never ending ‘Last World Tour.’
And I felt like a sad sack of shit as she explained her position to me, she was not angry she was kind and honest.
She pointed out I’d made a decision to break the promise – as you can see she was way more mature than I was.
So when another girl, now my wife, had the same conversation with me a few years later I made the decision to stop right away.
In fact, I think I made the decision to commit to everything else and a whole new world opened up and that is how I stopped.
Like Col and many others, I decided JDFI – I mean what else are you going to do?
Watch Netflix and tweet?
Crossing the Chasm
For years, I’ve resisted a job, regular paycheque and walked the path of the freelancer warrior.
Now I feel like Indiana Jones in the Last Crusade when he does the walk of faith over the chasm.
It is scary, but I have faith.
I love the people I work with at Velvet and PayPugs.
The speed at which we all solve problems is amazing, I am still very unsure how it happens so fast.
From building the tech we need, finding someone in the team who ‘knows that thing’ (Annija & Rinalds) to settling beautifully with Salesforce (Jeannine) and hundreds of other little wins.
Talking of my friend Jeannine, she is also my fellow COO for PayPugs in the Netherlands and long-time Coworking Assembly collaborator.
Jeannine is watching my step as I move from ‘Mr Freelancer ‘ to being part of the ‘well-oiled machine’ we’re all building together.
It is way less painful than I thought, and I can’t help thinking the most painful part is making the decision to step out, not the work ahead.
I heard somewhere that ‘worrying is praying for things you don’t want to happen.’
It is worth noting my anxiety level has dropped in the last few weeks since I decided to JFDI.