Lately we have had a lot of obstacles in my household. Namely: stomach flu and then pneumonia and vacation (which was fantastic and is only an obstacle in terms of work productivity). These got me thinking about the four literary conflicts we all learned in school and how those might translate into the modern world and our modern work. Before I dive into the seven conflicts that keep us from our work, a few quick things.
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3. If you haven't listened to the last five episodes, I have had STELLAR guests. Here are some quick links to those.
Now, let's talk obstacles and conflict!
The long and short of my story is that I went to graduate school and got my MFA in Fiction, left with a mostly completed novel. Got an agent who loved the manuscript and sent it to publishers who loved the manuscript...and then they didn't buy it. This is basically the death toll for a manuscript in terms of traditional publishing, but the publishers did want to see more from me.
My first agent got pregnant and passed me off to a second agent who also got pregnant and retired and convinced her husband (also an agent) to read my work. Which...I still haven't sent him. He is still out there, waiting, and I touch base with him every so often. But because of two obstacles, I haven't worked on my newest manuscript, which is 80% done. Those obstacles? Kids and the mental space they take away from my ability to really write fiction and FEAR. I've already gotten so far in publishing and had all these things line up only to fall apart. It makes me a little gun-shy.
This got me thinking about conflicts and obstacles. It brought back memories of the literary conflicts---you know the ones! Man vs nature, man vs society, man vs man, and man vs self. Some of the conflicts I thought of fit into those categories, but I decided to make my own that are a little more specific to our modern life.
1. Man vs Relationships. For me, this is my kids. I DO have enough time to work, but it's more that I really dive down deep when I write fiction and it's hard for me to surface and be a decent person and mom. This could be friends, a spouse, or some other relationship that cuts down on your work productivity.
2. Man vs Distractions. For me, this is Facebook. I open my computer and if I even glance at Facebook, I snap back to attention two hours later, unsure of who I am, where I've been, and what's happening in my life. I also get sucked into trying to watch TV and work at night. Not REAL writing, but scheduling things and photo editing. I can do those things while watching the Vampire Diaries, but I am not nearly as effective or fast.
3. Man vs Technology. Though both distractions I mentioned were technically technological, I mean here things like your computer crashing, your phone screen breaking, or programs failing to work correctly. I feel sometimes like all my tech conspires against me.
4. Man vs Ability. Often I run into something I want to do online, but CAN'T. Then I'm faced with the choice to either hire someone or learn it myself. An example of this is launching the podcast. I literally launched from conception to first three episodes in two weeks. (Read how HERE.) But every time I edited and produced, I ran into issues that I couldn't fix. So I went from YouTube videos to hiring an editor to taking a session with Meron Bareket that solved all my problems. But it took TIME. Sometimes we dream and just don't have the ability to achieve our dreams. Just ask all those tone-deaf American Idol hopefuls.
5. Man vs Busyness. Do I need to explain this one? We are busy people. The end.
6. Man vs the Bank. Sometimes we have the flexibility to work undeterred by the need to pay bills. I am in a great position in that I don't HAVE to do the work I do. I would LIKE to make a full-time income, but for the moment, I can work in the off hours while my hubby brings the bacon. And the eggs. And the coffee. No, we don't have a huge budget, but we have enough. This can be a big issue for people who are side-hustling while working a full-time job. We have to eat. And live places. So the bank matters and can be a legit conflict.
7. Man vs Self. This is the big one. Some of the others we cannot change. We can't control if our computer crashes. We cannot choose when or how our kids get pneumonia. We will always need to pay bills. But we DON'T always have to be subject to our own fears or our self-doubt. Even though we do have control here, I think this is sometimes the BIGGEST conflict or obstacle to our creative work.
YOUR TURN! What are the conflicts that keep you from your creative work? Which of these seven is your main conflict with getting your creative work done?
Everywhere I turn, I find people touting programs designed to multiply your email list. But is the key to a healthy email list found in numbers? In this interview with Paul Jarvis he talks about his email, the Sunday Dispatch, and why engagement trumps numbers alone.
If you don't know Paul, he calls himself a freelancer evangelist. He is the type of person who split-tests his profile picture and who also talks about unicorn farts. With a 20-year career as a freelance web designer he is also a prolific writer on sites like Forbes, Fast Company, NewsWeek, and BuzzFeed. You can find Paul on his site or on Twitter, and but where you should really connect is through his email list, The Sunday Dispatch. Oh, and he is co-host of Invisible Office Hours with Jason Zook and he has his own podcast, the Freelancer. Here are some of my favorite Paul pieces:
NOTE: The podcast episode will be up momentarily! Having some issues this morning with...well...all kinds of things. If you are here from my weekly email, know that this will be up by the end of the day.
"People don't realize they can cultivate an audience of people they want to have in their audience."
And if you want to know more about the Creative Class (which I can tell you firsthand is an awesome investment!), you can read more about that HERE.
In episode 18 I got to talk with Darren Rowse of Problogger and this week I'm talking with Demain Farnworth of Copyblogger. I loved this conversation where we talk about being introverts, what unique things we can bring to the table when there ISN'T anything really new, and what drives us crazy about the world we're in right now. You can find Demian at the Rough Draft podcast, The Lede podcast, writing on Copyblogger, writing on his blog The Copybot, and on Twitter.
Here are some of my favorite posts/episodes from Demian:
"I think the internet is particularly built for introverts." <- AGREE!!
Quiet by Susan Cain
How to Move Your Audience from Infatuation to Love - The Lede Podcast
Why Introverts Make Good Writers
Are you an introvert or extrovert? How does that impact (or does it?) your creativity and your work?
Is blogging dead? It seems this question keeps resurfacing. I know what I think about this, but in this interview I get to hear what Darren Rowse of Problogger and Digital Photography School thinks about that question. Like many he has had a winding journey to get where he is today. And by winding, I mean he has had 40 blogs. (Yes, that is the number I meant to write. Want proof? Listen to the interview!) Being a part of the blogging world as long as he has, Darren has some unique perspective about the ever-changing blogging landscape and how you can stay afloat with all the changes.
Quotable: One of the best ways to stand out in a noisy room is to whisper in someone's ear.
I cannot TELL you how much this quote spoke to me. Love it. If you want to get a free 31-day series in your inbox all about going deeper with your peeps, JOIN ME. A few of the ideas came from this very interview!
People are constantly saying this and Darren has heard this for the last ten years. People tend to say this whenever a new medium comes along or when someone large leaves blogging. (Read this great interview Darren did with Heather Armstrong of Dooce about this very thing!) The reality is that blogging is shifting and has always been shifting. As hard as this may be to believe, when blogs to having comments (because they didn't at first), many people thought blogging was dead. Keep evolving and be open to the new movements.
One thing Darren has been doing a lot of lately is Blab, so you should definitely follow him on Blab to get notifications when he goes live!
When I heard Maritza Parra speak this summer on list-building at Podcast Movement, I knew I wanted to have her come on the show. You guys know how I feel about building email lists. (If you don't, you should read this or this or this.) Maritza shared in the session how she sold her first product to a list of 800 people and made $30,000. Now you're REALLY geared up for this interview aren't you?
Maritza hosts the Easy Online Marketing Podcast and you can find great value on her site. I would highly recommend signing up for her email list, where you can get a freebie with SO MANY ideas for freebies that are working right now to give away as incentives for email subscribers. SO helpful!!
"The whole point of a list is building relationships."
Give free content BEFORE asking people to op-in.
You want to move people toward taking action.
Maritza has subscriber appreciation days where she will have her readers sign up for a phone call or mini session with her so she can really connect.
Super targeted lists of very passionate people can be VERY successful. This allows you to be super specific in what you offer and lets you zero in on those pain points for your audience.
Consider doing real-life meet ups where you can connect with people in person. Have a Q&A and make notes of what things they want to know and learn.
Don't take unsubscribes personally!
When is the best time to send something to your list? When you have something important to say, THAT'S the time.
You teach people how to treat you, so if you hesitate or second guess who you are or your product, that lets other people know they don't have to take you seriously.
If you are giving great content, you should be able to offer paid products without feeling bad.
Add a story to what you are selling. Frame it well and as an experience.
Maritza said she has had more failures than successes, but those failures taught her more than the successes. When you fail, celebrate and try to see how you can push through.
Keep separate lists. Know why people signed up so you can speak to specific pain points.
Your freebie whole be a list-specific product, but doesn't have to be huge. A 1-2 page PDF would be great.
Do you suffer from list-building stage fright? Don't be afraid to email your list or sell to your list. If they signed up, there is something they want from YOU.
How to Involve Your Audience in Your Products
Involve them in the process. Ask what they want in a survey or give them two choices and have them hit reply to tell you.
Have a webinar or live training where you can say, "The results are in!" This lets them know that THEY were the driving factor.
Launching before you create your product allows you to know that you have an audience and a need for that product.
I loved this interview because it made me feel like I can do this. I can get over myself and my stage friend and email my list. I love the ways that Maritza connects with her people via phone calls and face to face. What is YOUR big takeaway from this? Let me know in the comments!
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