I’ve been finding it harder to sleep at night as I had SO many ideas and thoughts floating around my head. I was walking around during the day with a vague sense of overwhelm.
I decided the best thing to do was to create a brainstorm mind map for everything I’m thinking about for our new home. I used my regular art journal spread over two pages (I’ve been using this exact style of art journal since I was 16… 20 years now!)
I discovered my ideas roughly fell into categories:
Since then, I’ve been back and forward about being “on” social media. Something felt off.
I’ve been thinking about it more and more, wondering what feels off. And what I need to do to move forward.
It’s now been almost two years since I started that sabbatical. And here’s the thing about having a patch of time off from social media – I noticed just how hugely the landscape had changed in a short period of time.
How post interaction was WAY down. How people were needing to create MUCH more, at a much faster pace. How the platforms were changing our capacity to bring people back to our place (i.e. our own websites) and instead were forcing us to become unpaid content creators for THEIR gain. How it was becoming a pay-for-play access.
It’s kind of like the boil-a-frog analogy. If you throw a frog into a pot of boiling water, it will GTFO of there quick smart. But put a frog into a pot of cool water that is slowly brought to the boil? It stays in there.
The same is true for social media. They started us off in a cool pot of water. And now we’re being boiled alive, but still don’t feel like we can jump out.
On Facebook, I have 130,000+ people who’ve opted-in to hear from me. On a GOOD day, I have less than 1% of those people who want to hear from me actually HEAR FROM ME. I remember in the beginning days when a single post would be seen by EVERYONE on your list, and a bunch of their mates too. And then the number kept moving down – when it was now good that I had 70% of my audience see me. Then 30%. Then 10%. Then 1%.
By contrast, if I send an email to my mailing list, I have about 15-20% open rates. If you have a smaller mailing list, you tend to have even higher open rates.
And it’s not just about Facebook either. Instagram is now owned by Facebook. It will continue to limit your capacity to engage with your fans.
Unwittingly, we’ve just discovered that we cannot build sustainable businesses on platforms we don’t own.
I’ve been bitching about this shit for years. I’ve taught all my customers to place MAILING LIST at the top of their priorities list.
Here’s what I wrote in 2014 in my Double Your Biz intensive program:
Let me drive this home for you:
You want people on your mailing list. You want people on your mailing list. You want people on your mailing list.
You want people on your mailing list more than you want them just reading your website or blog. You want them on your mailing list more than you want them pressing LIKE on your Facebook page. The highest priority is getting potential customers onto your mailing list. Your Mailing List Is Where People Buy From The Most!
Your conversion rate for sales on your mailing list is SOOOOO much bigger than any other communication platform.
That’s where people will be when they want to buy from you. That’s where people will stay in touch with you the most. It’s a great privilege and an honour for someone to respect you and your business enough to keep inviting you into their inbox.
A bigger mailing list = a bigger business for you. Absolutely.
There’s plenty of pages out there with 100 000+ likes on them. They simply will NOT be selling as much as a person with a 100 000+ mailing list.
A Mailing List Is An Important Business Asset
And it’s a big deal for your business – a mailing list becomes one of your business’ assets. For example, when I’ve applied for mortgages, one of the things my accountant highlights for my bank to approve me is that my company has a large mailing list. It’s a real asset.
If you decide to sell your business at any time, your mailing list will be one of the assets that increase the selling price of your business, because it’s a communication platform with your existing and potential customers.
You OWN Your Mailing List. You Don’t OWN Your Social Media Followings
What’s more, social media is kind of ephemeral. You don’t “own” your likes. With your mailing list, you get to keep them forever – even if you decide to move mailing list companies.
With social media followings, you are totally reliant on that platform: + continuing to succeed and grow (What if you had a huge following on MySpace? What is that worth now?) + not deciding to charge you access to your followers (hello Facebook, I be looking at you!) + not changing the algorithms and rules on a daily basis on how you can interact or advertise with your followers.
It’s not just me who is feeling like things are off. There’s an increasing number of entrepreneurs who are writing about it, and companies who are either radically changing their social media investment, or quitting it entirely.
Here’s some of the research, articles and books I’ve found.
There’s been a lot of talk (a lot from me, specifically) on why social media itself is exploitive and the companies who run social media platforms have an unscrupulous business model of selling our privacy and data for profit.
Because these platforms don’t charge users, they resort to advertising and data profiteering. Anytime we’re presented with “free software” we’ve just not taken into consideration the revenue model of the company and where us and our data fit into maximizing their profits.
We may not directly pay for social media, but we definitely pay for it with the trade-offs we make to use it. As Benjamin Franklin once said (probably), software users who trade privacy for functionality deserve neither.
This is where emails and newsletters differ entirely and why I think they’re better than social media. Companies who provide us with newsletter and email marketing software charge us for it—this is their business model. They charge well too (i.e. it’s not cheap, especially at scale). I pay over $230/month for Mailchimp so I can keep sending you emails. But this cost (the most I pay for monthly software by a lot) is worth it because it’s doubly profitable: Mailchimp makes enough money from me so they don’t have any need to sell my or my subscribers’ data. And I make enough money from my products by sending emails on their platform to cover the costs and not have to resort to ever selling data from my subscribers either. So it’s a win-win-win!
This is why I care so much about newsletters and almost not at all about social media. You won’t find me on Facebook or Instagram, or even on Linkedin.
Most fascinatingly, he rages about a recent business report which found that 60% of businesses were planning to invest more time and money on social media in the coming year, but less than 5% could state that their social media had increased revenue and profits AT ALL.
“If it’s not going to get me results, I am not going to do it.”
“You can’t go to the bank and deposit likes, views, retweets, viral explosions, social media conversations, or brand recognition. They want real money.”
“The results are depressing. The study finds that top pages are posting a lot more now because engagements have dropped by as much as 70%. Facebook changes its algorithms often, and they’re hard to follow. This makes it incredibly hard for businesses, especially newer ones, to stay on top of their marketing game and reach their intended audiences unless they shill out tons of money.”
It’s the same story for all major social media platforms. In short, social media marketing is dead. Better invest your time and money somewhere else.
It’s only going to keep becoming more difficult for a business’ posts to be seen.
Mark Zuckerberg recently announced changes to the platform’s news feed product with content from “more posts from friends and family” and “less public content, including videos and other posts from publishers or businesses.”
It’s bloody important to not have your business sustainability pegged to a company that can change its mind overnight.
Becoming overly reliant on a social media platform that you do not own is not a smart business decision.
“We’re a community and we always have been,” the brand said on Twitter. “We believe we can make more noise using all of our voices across the globe because when we do we drive change, challenge norms and create a cosmetic revolution. We want social to be more about passions and less about likes.”
“For both our personal lives and businesses, we’ve become pretty dependent as a society on Facebook — But, things have changed quite a bit over the years.
What used to be a great way for businesses to connect with fans and people that wanted to hear from you has now turned into primarily paid advertising.”
JD Wetherspoon recently created waves by quitting social media. They are a pub company in the United Kingdom and Ireland which owns 1,000 outlets bars and hotels. They had more than 100,000 Facebook followers and more than 6,000 on Instagram when they quit.
“Wetherspoon chairman and founder Tim Martin told the BBC he had always thought the idea that social media was essential for advertising was untrue. “We were concerned that pub managers were being side-tracked from the real job of serving customers,” he said. “I don’t believe that closing these accounts will affect our business whatsoever.”
Asked whether Wetherspoon’s move could start a business trend, Martin told the BBC that he hoped not: “Currently we’ve got a massive commercial advantage because everyone else is wasting hours of their time.”
A non-profit here in Australia also decided to leave social media for good. Australian Indigenous Mentoring Experience (AIME) had more than 150,000 Facebook followers, 1,200 Twitter followers and 20,000 Instagram followers.
“Today we leave social media for good.
We believe in smart people and dumb phones. We believe in human potential and intelligence. We believe in depth, nuance, simplicity, and complexity. We know social media is no longer democratic, led by advertising, and built off the same algorithms used by slot machine designers – it’s addictive, dangerous, and unhealthy.
Offline; we know and believe in the power of human relationships…
We don’t want to lower the bar and gamify real life human stories. We don’t want to be in a world where there are barriers between us and you. We don’t want a social media company telling us to spend hundreds of thousands of dollars just to make sure you can hear about what you already have selected you want to know by following AIME. Instead, we’ll use that money to employ a kid or a journalist or both, to write with depth on ideas that will allow us to make sense of the world and give us the tools to overcome the struggles that we face on this planet.”
“Facebook is now mostly a pay-to-play platform (you need to invest in advertising, making this more-challenging for non-profit organisations). It is more-difficult to see meaningful results from investing dollars in content to present organically.”
For me, I won’t be investing my time or attention to social media marketing in 2019. Instead, I’m going to be focussing my attention on my mailing list. I’m going to create good, free things to give to them and take care of the people who want to hear from me.
At this stage, I won’t deactivate my social media accounts… but I won’t be placing my attention there. I will take time to create thoughtful things, and share them via my mailing list instead.
What I recommend for other businesses
You – as the business owner – are the best person to make business decisions for YOUR business and what works for you.
If you are going to use social media, I DO recommend:
have an excellent strategy in place to move people from social media onto your mailing list
measuring your results so you know where your sales are coming from and where you should be spending your time
concentrating on your $$$ numbers, not your social media numbers.
And if you decide to move away from social media marketing, I recommend:
deciding what you are going to do INSTEAD to build and market your business. You’ll always need to market and share your story. Decide what works for YOU and your unique voice.
test what works. Play to your strengths.
measure your results so you know where to spend your time.
build your mailing list.
My point exactly.
This morning, my husband mentioned that Russell Brand is interviewing Byron Katie on his next podcast. He asked:
Did you see? Do you follow Russell on Facebook?
Of course I do. But I still don’t see shit from him. You know what social media is fucking like.
And that’s the point of it all, really.
If we love people and companies, we want to be able to hear from them. If we love our fans, we want to know we can share good things with them. And social media is increasingly not the best place for that to happen.
Tavi Gevinson used to do these awesome blog posts which were basically a collage of everything she was thinking about/creating/doing.
And I’ve been thinking I might like to do something similar. See if I enjoy it? See if it resonates?
Because there’s a lot of things piling around in my brain that feel important, maybe not important enough for an individual blog post, but also too important for a social media post.
Perhaps that’s because I think social media is increasingly a waste of time for both creators and readers.
It’s useless for readers who want to stay up to date on their favourite creators because the chances of you seeing what you want to see are next to nothing. And for creators, the chances of your work being seen is again – next to nothing. It’s like saying to a dear friend “Hey! I’ll meet you on Planet Earth!” and then never finding them again… or only by extreme chance, you know?
And I just think our creations and connections and relationships are more important than that bullshit. So I’ll be increasingly putting more energy and time into my mailing list because at least I know you’ll hear from me if you want to. I’ve got a bucketload of free stuff I want to create and give away, so I’ll do it through there.
Anyway, that’s by the by. I’m here. And I want to share. And I want to do it intentionally, and with heart.
Here’s what I’m doing/thinking/creating:
Yep – we’re moving again.
HO HO HO!
But this time! GASP!
We are only moving just down the road, not across the country!!
We are happy living in this region, and our eldest kid is at a school she loves, so we’ll stay around here for a while.
We needed to find a more permanent home as we’re in a smaller place with most of our belongings in storage. We also needed to find a place with potential for a granny flat incase we need to look after one of our ageing parents for a time.
We’ve ended up buying an acreage close by that has a house with an artist’s studio. I am THRILLED to be living back on acreage again. We left our Kuranda acreage four years ago and had no idea it would take us this long to be back on acreage again. But here we are. We’ve had so many adventures in the meantime. And now we get to love it and appreciate the experience even more.
Also: I know it can be hard to keep up with the moves I’ve had.
Here’s a list of the places I’ve lived in the last nine years:
Hilariously, we seem to be drawn to places starting with C/K. My youngest still gets confused between the words Kuranda and Canberra.
To continue with tradition, our next house is in an area called Cooroibah.
That will REALLY confuse the kids!
Another lovely piece of serendipity:
You know how I tend to call everyone possum? (Or blossom?)
Cooroibah is the Indigenous word for Place of Possum.
I no longer make promises any more about staying somewhere forever. We will be here for however long it’s right for us to be here. That may be a year or ten years. We will find out by going there!
But one thing I am noticing is how much more love and gratitude I’m feeling towards Mr D. For walking this path with me. For knowing so much of my story. For being that sage counsel when I’m losing my mind.
This month is our 18 year anniversary of finding each other. He’s been by my side for exactly half my life now. It feels like it, in a really lovely way.
I feel like I’m so much better equipped now at loving now, more qualified at understanding him. Our relationship has forced us both to grow and heal and become better humans. We’ve fought a lot, and gone to a relationship counsellor, and unravelled a lot of our family patterns, and worked out a way to form a true partnership with each other.
We will never be perfect – we are splendidly human after all! But I just feel honoured to be the one who gets to love him.
READING PROJECT CURRENTLY ON HOLD
I was going great guns with my project to read all my current books before I buy anymore. I even read 100 books in 100 days!
And now I’m on unexpected hiatus for a bit… I’ve been having lingering headaches and neck problems which is unusual for me. I have no idea if the reading is tied to it, so I’m taking a break to recalibrate to find the cause.
By the time I get back to the reading project, my book collection that’s in storage will be delivered, so my list of unread books will be substantially grown.
It’s been SUCH a bloody great course to do to get my feet wet again.
To be honest, I was feeling really nervous and unsure about what to do next after closing my Academy down after 9 years.
I thought I might need to partner with someone else to create something. But the idea for the book course floated through, and I thought it might be fun. So I caught it, and ran with it.
And it’s ended up being the perfect thing for me for right now.
I am LOVING having a contained experience to walk people through a project. I love the extra levels of accountability I can create. I am loving the engagement. And I’m loving the results… SO MANY people have already finished writing their books and we’re not even at the 40 day mark yet!
It’s thrilling me. It’s definitely given me a whole bunch of confidence and excitement. I am also LOVING using Kajabi as my new course platform. Makes me excited to create MORE THINGS! ALL THE THINGS! ALL THE IDEAS!
I love Ahn’s spirit (and my kids are rabid fans of his books). And I so deeply appreciate the compassionate way he interviews.
Tim’s story was fascinating – he has been this brilliant musical comedian for so many years, and everything he touches turns to gold. Like his award-winning Matilda musical – and his collaborations with orchestras.
And then he kind of went quiet for a while, and I figured he was overseas creating new miracles and continuing being the brilliant success he is.
And he was – he was directing a huge DreamWorks animated musical movie with huge stars involved. He spent four years working on it… only for the project to be cancelled when the company was bought out. He talked about the despair and pain of that time, about wishing he had those four years back to create something else with.
It really struck me you know – this idea of working so hard for something which doesn’t work out. I know Tim will go on to create splendid, insane miracles in other ways. I just wish we all could have gotten to see the outcome of his work.
I hope he takes all that pissed off energy, the sadness and disappointment, and weaves it into a new kind of gold.
And I’m grateful to know that sometimes our creative and business journeys take routes we don’t always want them to go. And that we’ll go on to create something more out of that experience.
As part of the experiment, I decided to not buy more any more books until I read all the ones I currently have. I LOVE buying books… and it turns out, I have a HUGE unread stack of them. I had over 200 unread books at this house… and I have most of my books in storage currently which has SO MANY MORE.
So starting mid-Jan, I decided to really get into the reading spirit, with the hopes I would get through the 200+ unread books I had at hand by the end of the year.
Three months in, I’ve already 100.
This is astonishing – far more than I’ve ever read before. A few years ago I went on a reading binge and read around 250 books – mostly romance novellas. But still – 100 in 100 days in far more than I ever have.
Here’s what I discovered along the way.
Here’s how I did it, and how you can read more:
1: Finishing the books I have has a big pay-off now!
It’s HUGELY motivating to me that I can’t buy any more books until I read what I have.
Buying books is my hobby, dammit. I love poodling about in boutique bookstores. The book sections of Big W are my closest place to heaven. A pleasant evening to me is binge watching Netflix while trawling Book Depository and making a large book order.
So, I can’t indulge in that hobby until I’ve read what I’ve got. So guess what? I REALLY WANT TO READ WHAT I HAVE, STAT.
2: I made my reading goal public to make use of my Obliger tendencies
I’m an Obliger personality – I respond excellently to outside expectations. If I make my goal known outside of myself – whether that’s publicly through my blog, or to an accountability buddy, or my husband, I am FAR more likely to accomplish it.
I’m basically a productivity show pony – I like to perform and get external approval. Sure, it’s a habit that can get out of balance, however it can be powerful when harnessed thoughtfully.
So not only did I state publicly my goal of reading all my current books before buying anymore, I created a public-facing list of them here to tick off as I read them.
I cannot tell you the thrills I have of ticking off that public-facing list. Even if nobody is looking at that list, because it’s public, I am SO motivated to get it done.
3: The more I read, the faster I get
I’m definitely picking up speed as I go. I managed to read two complete books yesterday which is a new record!
4: If a book is shit, I give it up
There’s some books I’ve started, and put aside because I can’t get into it, or don’t like the way it is written. Before this experiment, I would put it back on the shelf and think that maybe one day I would change and like it.
I’ve never had that experience though of finally picking something up and liking it. So this time, I give it 20 pages, and if it’s still shit, it gets put in the out pile.
5: Embrace the skim
Sometimes there are parts of a book which are great… and then there are parts which are tedious or hard to get through. I used to get stuck, and put the book down until I had more energy/put it back in the bookcase.
Now, I give myself total permission to skim parts that would otherwise stop me in my tracks, and start reading more thoroughly again once it picks up.
5: I have a To Gift book pile
Once I read a book, I pop it in a pile near the door of my house, and gift it on. I’ve previously also sold them online + to used bookstores.
I keep piles of books wherever I usually hang out at home – on the couch in front of the TV, in our sitting room, on our breakfast table by my bed. If I head out, I pop a book in my bag just incase I’m bored.
7: I added more reading into my day
There’s a dietary philosophy called swamping: instead of eliminating something from your day, you just add more good things in. They fill you, and you’re less inclined to eat shit.
So instead of trying to radically change or eliminate anything, I started reading using the swamping approach.
I go to bed earlier and read for at least an hour.
I read in the evenings while watching TV.
8: Put your kids to bed earlier
This is the best parenting and life advice I have for you, honestly.
Studies show that our kids are getting WAY less sleep than they did a generation ago, and this is causing huge issues in terms of mood, memory, intellectual capacity and long term health problems. (Adults are too, by the way. GET MORE SLEEP!)
They are also getting way less free time, which is important not just for cognitive development, but spiritually and emotionally as well. Kids need to be able to experience the gift of their own energy and learning to follow their own instincts and intuition.
We solve both those issues with one simple habit: we put our kids to bed EARLY.
My kids are currently 9 and 5, and they get ready for bed at 6:30, I read to them for 30 minutes or so, and they are in bed by 7.
They don’t have to go to sleep then. They can stay up to read, draw, play quietly or listen to audiobooks. They do NOT get access to screens. It’s time to either rest, restore and enjoy their own company.
Of course, we’re not crazy Victorian about it: they can still leave their bedrooms to go to the bathroom, get water, or come out for another hug.
But they know that night time is time to retreat into their inner worlds.
And what do adults do?
We PARTAY LIKE ITS 1956. Make cocktails, embrace orgy life, take cocaine.
And by that, I mean:
We watch Netflix, and I multitask by either journalling, creating, reading or working while we watch. I rarely want to watch something by being fully immersed in it.
Our evenings are super relaxed. Then we head to bed around 9, and I read for an hour or more.
I’ve had friends visit, discover the loveliness of Early Bedtimes, and gone home to institute the same thing with their teenagers. They’ve had a family meeting, talked about the benefits and why they were doing it, and their teens now go to their rooms at 7:30 for Chill Time.
Not only is it HUGELY amazing for your own sanity… but it is massively beneficial for your kids on every level too!
You will thank me for this more than anything else.
9: Book Baths Are A Sport
Most weekend afternoons you’ll find me taking impossibly long baths with a book. If I’m feeling stressed or sore, I’ll take even more. I usually read for about 2 hours or more.
My kids occasionally wander in to see what I’m up to, or to let me know they are hungry or bored. This is where I practice Benevolent Neglect – an excellent parenting practice to help my children foster important life skills. I remind them to get themselves food from the kitchen if they are hungry, and that I can assign them chores if they are bored.
They rarely interrupt now, and just tend to themselves.
I also think I am modelling TWO excellent things to my children:
They are seeing their mother undertake self care. This is SO BLOODY IMPORTANT. They won’t see a martyr. They will see a woman who is tending to her own needs. That will be a soul lesson they will carry through their lives.
They see just how adored books are. That they are a phenomenal source of education and entertainment.
So… BOOK BATH ON, WOMEN + MOTHERS!
10: Momentum creates momentum
I say this alllllllll the fucking time, and the same is true for reading books too.
The more books I read, and the more I tick off my list, the more energy I have to do MORE.
When you FINISH something, you get a surge of energy, pride and satisfaction, which keeps you rolling onto the next book.
Just start. And finish. Even if it means skimming and skipping parts that don’t resonate with you.
11: Reading heals + enlightens you
Honestly, undertaking such a large reading project has been the best decision I’ve made in YEARS. I have learned SO SO MUCH. I have been healed, enlightened and educated so profoundly. Somehow, these books have acted together in synchronicity to give me what I need at just the right time.
It’s renewed my confidence, faith and charged up my business brain once more. I can’t even emphasise enough how much it has affected me.
I started this one years ago, and only completed it thanks to the challenge. It’s one of those books that is so simple and powerful that can take a while to read because it has so many nuggets of wisdom in it.
It’s for business owners and entrepreneur who want to harness their own strengths, and execute marketing in a way that works for them. It’s an anti-hustle book, which I love. And a pro-intentional productivity book, which is right up my ally.
I’m continuing my tradition of reading graphic memoirs to develop more understanding of other people’s lived experiences (racism, sexism, abusive families, war, sexuality etc). I didn’t feel like I understood enough about the polyamorous community, so I read this one. It was a beautiful read, and I’m grateful to Sophie for allowing us this glimpse into her life.
Maybe this is because of the stage of life I’m in, but I dig a book that’s about going through the hard stuff instead of just attracting only the good stuff.
This is the story of how Starbucks totally fucked up a bunch of things, and had to fix their company from the inside out.
It’s starkly honest and brilliant. It was a thrilling read.
I went through a stage a few years ago where I felt like my company was going in a direction I didn’t want it to be. I had to fight for it, and make so many changes to align it again. And it’s back to being exactly what I know it is supposed to be, but gosh it was hard to go through.
I feel grateful knowing that others go through similar phases, and come out the other side too.
A beautifully written memoir of a dude who works in mental health who suddenly finds himself experiencing psychosis, admitted to a mental institution. It’s tragic and funny and soaked with love all at once. And I think it’s such a wonderful way to understand bipolar disorder even more.
DDT has been a mate of mine for a fair whack of time now, and she’s continued to astound me with her wisdom, grace and integrity. She is someone who walks her talk completely, and has so much gold to share. Highly recommend, along with her other two books as well!
When I was 18, I lived in Malaysia for a few months. I stayed in a Buddhist household, and the host mother would teach me about her faith and rituals. She taught me:
Buddhism isn’t a religion. It is an education for the mind. It can co-exist with other religions. It is about learning how to deal with the suffering of being a human.
Malaysia was a blooming magical experience and taught me so much. And her words held up for me over the years. As I’ve become more and more human, as more and more suffering arises, I turn back to Buddhist teachings again and again. To educate my mind.
Today, let’s talk about how to deal with the fear of failure when creating.
When it comes to writing, you might find yourself spending a lot of time THINKING about writing, AVOIDING writing, TALKING about writing and feeling BLOCKED when finally sitting down to actually write.
See how time consuming it is already… and there’s STILL no writing being done?
After working with thousands of creatives over the last 15 years or so, I know that one of the biggest reasons for avoiding creativity is that we are being held hostage by fear.
The act of creating can bring up so many fears:
“Who am I to write this book?”
“Can I REALLY do this?”
“I don’t have anything original to say!”
“What if it’s terrible? What if I try my hardest and it isn’t good enough?”
“What will my parents/partner/children/friends/business colleagues think? What if they think I am untalented or ridiculous? What if they roll their eyes at my book?”
“I’m not an expert! I’m an imposter and this book will be evidence of that!”
“What if this hurts or negatively affects any of my family/friends?”
“There are so many other things I should be doing instead of creating. I’m a terrible person/wife/mother if I spend my time writing instead of taking care of other people!”
“I do NOT have time to write. There’s no way I can fit this in!”
And on and on and on…
The excuses seem endless. The fears seem insurmountable.
NO FREAKING WONDER IT TAKES SO LONG TO WRITE A BOOK!
But here’s the thing:
Writing a book actually doesn’t TAKE that long.
The actual writing process can be pretty fast when you’re not spending your time dicking about with fears. It’s why I’ve been able to write books in a month in a couple of hours a day.
So let’s talk about how to get rid of the fear so you can actually get to writing!
Here’s some practical ways to get your fears to shush it so you can become hugely more productive and actually get your book DONE.
#1: Give your fear another job to do.
Write it a letter.
“Possum, I get it. You are trying to keep me safe. I so appreciate how much you care about me. However, you’re not helping me in doing the thing I need and want to do right now. Instead, can you please help by doing this VERY IMPORTANT JOB i.e. guarding my writing time/using my subconscious powers to find the answer to world peace/whispering love songs to my cells as I work. Thank you so much darling. Let’s go make miracles together.”
For example, when I wrote the 40,000 word compendium that became my Double Your Biz e-course, I set myself a month to do it.
#3: Give yourself even smaller, sharper daily deadlines in a compressed writing period.
That deadline for my Double Your Biz compendium? My daily goal became very simple: write 3,000 words before sunset. I was sick with hyperemesis gravidarum, and had a short window in the afternoon where I could sit upright. By the time the sunset, I would be ill again. So I needed to write as much as I could in that short time window.
You don’t have to be ill to do the same however. If I was doing it again now, I would set aside 1-2 hours a day with a word limit to have reached.
#4: Fuck the distractions.
I use a Self Control app on my computer to stop me from me being able to access time wasting websites while I’m working. Facebook, Youtube, Buzzfeed, gossip websites are what I tend to find myself visiting when I am avoiding doing something. Using an external boundary to prevent me is a massive time saver. I also don’t keep my phone in my office to prevent the Instagram scroll from happening.
Tell someone – or as many people as you can – that you are writing a book, you want to write # of words and that the deadline is _________. It’s incredibly motivating, and I always get that much more done when I know I’m being watched!
I have a friend who wants to write more poetry. She asked me to be her writing accountability partner. I agreed, and asked her to define what success looked like. Writing more poetry is a really vague goal, and you won’t know if you are being successful at it or not. She had a think and decided her goal was to write poetry for 45 minutes a day, 5 days a week. Which was awesome – it was something I could hold her accountable to, and it was a very real, concrete action she could take and know she was completing her intention.
#6: Remember it is NOT your job to second guess yourself. Your job is to create.
I deeply believe that our stories need to be heard. That the things that are inside us – our journey, our experience, our wisdom, our gold – are great gifts that are needed in the world. Our stories can heal us as we write them, and they can heal others when they read them.
I believe that when you have an idea for a book, it is a divinely ordained request from the angels. They know that this creation is needed in order to help and heal the world. And so they plant the seed with you, in the hope you will birth it into the world.
With this kind of divine ordinance at play, who are we NOT to create? When the world needs the soul gold that lives inside us, who are we to ignore that mission?
Example Time: This is not about a book. But this is about a divine writing mission.
A few months ago, I had a strange feeling. I knew I was supposed to be writing a letter to someone I barely knew. I knew this person was going through a very difficult time. And I kept having this feeling that if I just opened up a page, and wrote to him, there would be things to say.
I had fears of course: What is this person going to think? Is it going to be the right message? Will I offend their religious beliefs by sharing the message I could hear? And who am I to do this?
But I knew I needed to nonetheless. The angels have blessed me again and again. They have given me so truth and wisdom and creative ideas that have healed me time and time again. Who am I to ignore them on this?
I should say here: I am NOT someone who hears the angels constantly. I only hear them clearly when I am writing. I can take dictation from them. I can occasionally hear them outside of writing – like in a sacred women’s circle, in dreams or in nature. They also came with my daughters’ spirits when both of them wished to be conceived. But that’s by the by. I just wanted to say – I wouldn’t regard myself as being super intuitive, or someone who talks to angels everyday. Reading back over this though, I definitely sound like a MASSIVE HIPPY however. Bahahahaha!
Anyways, the angels had given me a mission. And EVEN THOUGH I was scared, EVEN THOUGH I was not sure how it would be received… I knew I needed to do my job, and turn up, and respond to that divine calling.
I did. I wrote it, sent it, and gave it up to the world. I’d done my job. That was all that was needed.
I got a long email today, months after my mission missive message. It was a beautiful thing, coming full circle. He wrote to tell me what a bad place he had been when he’d received my email, and how my writing him had felt like God was speaking to him, reminding him that he was loved. That it was a touchstone for his healing.
And it was such a blessing, of course, to know that the mission I’d been given had worked as intended. But even if I hadn’t heard from him and hadn’t known the effect it would have, I still would have done the right thing.
The right thing is to create. The right thing is to heed the call of your creative soul and the call of the angels. The feeling you receive from doing it is indescribable. It is the closest to transcendence I have ever come.
The World Needs Us.
It’s time to get out of our own way, and get on with our all important mission.
We need to write our way to our own healing… and let those words free into the world to heal others too.
Fuck the fears. There is too much beauty waiting for us out the other side.
I started off this post to you just to share about a work thing I did lately which I’m delighted with.
But I need to be honest with you, as that’s the kind of friendship we have always had. I write and I tell you about all of this: the good stuff. The hard stuff. The life stuff. The business stuff.
And the truth of it is, I am going through an excruciatingly painful personal experience.
There’s SO MUCH that is glorious and good in my world – my marriage, my kids, my health, my business… and then there is a part that feels like it has had a bomb explode in it. I can’t share the details because it involves other family members and is not my story to tell. But it’s been a devastating crisis to navigate and manage and I wonder at my capacity to still be standing.
Yesterday I found myself on the bathroom floor, on a critically important phone call, bent over in a panic attack. It’s been a long time since I’ve lost my ability to breathe like that. My husband came to find me, took the phone to calmly tell them that I was having a panic attack and would be ok in a few minutes, rubbed my back, then handed me back the phone when I could breathe and speak again. So I could carry on, doing what needed to be done.
He said later:
It was hard to know what to do. At one end of the house, there is Beth asking me to help her build a cubby fort. And then there is you, and you are going through something so painful, and there isn’t anything I can do to stop that experience.
Throughout this searing experience though… I am cognisant of just how much good there is.
Even though this fire will be life-changing for myself and other family members, I dearly hope it will result in something even better. That the Phoenix will rise from the ashes and bestow us with her blessings of new adventures and deepening connections.
I’ve been afforded some extraordinary grace, compassion and kindness. My husband, my brother and my friends have been a saving grace.
And perhaps, most of all, I told my husband this:
I feel like I am going to come out the other side of this as a different person. I feel like I am being sculpted into something more. That I am being ushered along the path that crafts me into someone with more stoicism, more resilience, more compassion. And that the pressure will turn my coal into diamonds, will bolster my spirit towards strength. I won’t be the same person as I was coming into this experience.
I will be more human. More touched by life.
My heart will be broken. The cracks will be filled up with even more of life. By god, it will be lovelier. It will be more tender and more courageous all at once.
Today, I thought I’d let you in behind the scenes on how I’ve sold well over $1 million in books.
I’ll share with you both the history and the how-to’s.
I’ve ALWAYS wanted to write a book. If you had asked me when I was four what I wanted to do when I grew up, I would have said the same thing I was already doing: writing books and making art.
The first book I remember creating was a book called Cyclone Charlie. It was the true story of our cattle farm being hit by a cyclone. I dictated it to my Mum, and illustrated each page. I still remember the page where I described how the rain made small waterfalls down the mountains.
That’s me at about that age, baby sister on hip.
Writing and illustrating books was my destiny, the thing that was sure in my bones. It was just a matter of time before that would be my job.
I started blogging when I was 21, and wrote my first book when I was 22.
That book was like a graphic memoir – I just didn’t realise that was the name for it! I just did it intuitively, combining art and words as I have always done in my journals.
To get that book written, I set myself a really short, sharp deadline: write it and have it available for sale within one month. I was working full time in the public service, so the book was written in lunch hours, on the bus, at night and on weekends.
I think that’s the thing: everybody assumes that to write a book, you need vast swathes of time. You don’t. You just need to apply your energy to the thing and get it donesville.
I know that if I set a more “realistic” deadline of say, six months, I would NEVER get the book done. Too much would come up in the meantime, and the months would go by, and it still wouldn’t be done.
By using the Wild Donkey method, I devote my focus to being immersed in getting one project done and finished as soon as possible.
Here’s a little bit of what it looked like on the inside:
Doing the short, sharp deadline mode of creating doesn’t just work for graphic memoirs either.
I’ve also done a 40,000 word business book in that time as well.(That book was then turned into my Double Your Biz e-course. I’ve retired that now, but will release a new updated business course this year.)
Again – I wrote that 40,000+ word business book when I had a LOT of other things on my plate as well. I was in the final stages of my second pregnancy, and horrifically ill with hyperemesis gravidarum. At that point, I spent most of my day bedridden, and got a small reprieve from the debilitating nausea by late afternoon. It was enough to be able to sit upright and be able to think somewhat.
I would set myself a deadline of writing 3,000 words before the sun set over the rainforest. I’d take frequent vomit breaks to run out to my office balcony and vomit over the lawn for the forest animals to eat. I’d keep writing as much as I could before the illness swallowed me whole again and sent me back to bed.
I would like to clarify here:
I am really big on sane, healthy working practices, good self care and great work/life balance. I don’t want to share this story to be a martyr of “Too bad if you’re sick! I was sick too!”
There’s all different kinds of life circumstances. In the earlier stages of my pregnancy illness, I was chronically debilitated and in hospital often, so this kind of project wasn’t going to work for me.
By the time I did take the project on, I was six months into the pregnancy and still fucked up but not AS fucked up. I also desperately needed SOMETHING to think about apart from the misery of my illness. So even though it was still challenging to pull off, it was what I needed.
I’m definitely taking the same Wild Donkey approach with my 40 Days To A Finished Book e-course… but it definitely still can be done whether you are working full-time, parenting or having “life stuff” going on.
Okay, that’s slightly off track.
Now where were we?
Ahh yes! My first book! I released it, and I sold a few hundred copies. At the time I was totally delighted. For me, it was less about profit and more about OMG! I actually DID THE THING! I WROTE THE BOOK!
Sometimes the reward of completing a creative thing is not the revenue or recognition, it’s about the pride and joy of accomplishment. As I always say:
Momentum breeds Momentum.
Completing a project like a book can help you become even more productive and feel even more fulfilled.
Honestly though, I was pretty shithouse when it comes to marketing the book. That was in the early days of my business. Now when I release books, I know the marketing of it is going to be the driving factor for its success.
I kept blogging, and started running retreats, doing coaching and running e-courses.
Come December 2009, I was working part-time at my government job and pregnant with my first child. I knew the coming year would be intense, and that the initiation into motherhood. By that point, I’d also started setting goals and discovering just how powerful that was. So I decided to give myself the gift of setting goals for 2010 to keep me sane and inspired during my first year of motherhood.
I looked around to see if there was any books out there that I could fill out to help me set goals. But everything I found had two major issues:
they weren’t comprehensive – I wanted to go deeper than just “set three goals!”
they were black and white and corporate and felt really masculine.
I wanted something that was inspiring to fill out and rainbowy AND also helped guide me through setting goals for every area of my life and business.
So I decided to create something FOR ME to use. I spent three days around Christmas time creating my goals workbook, and I loved it so much I thought it would be fun to pop online and sell as a PDF and see if anyone else wanted to use it. I thought it would be super cool if like 10 people bought it.
I went on to sell over 1000 workbook PDFs that year which was SO groovy.
hit #1 and #3 bestseller SIMULTANEOUSLY on Amazon AU for ALL FREAKING BOOKS (!!!!)
generated well over $1m in revenue (probably over $2m – I need to go back to count all the years!)
In that time, I’ve also gone through different types of publishing:
I started out selling as a PDF only
A couple of years later, I started selling it as print on demand through Amazon’s self-publishing service
A few years after that, I decided to try printing in China instead and using distribution houses in three countries. I hired a lot of staff to try and cope with the increased workload, and realised just how much I hated managing staff and logistics. I wrote about my decision to stop doing that here.
I went back to using Amazon’s print-on-demand service while I scouted for a publishing deal for the workbooks.
Me, stoked at no longer having to manage shipping logistics anymore.
There are pros and cons for all publishing routes, and what’s right for you will change over your business career. I’ll go through the behind-the-scenes details of the pros and cons of all of them in 40 Days To A Finished Book. I’ll talk about what’s more profitable, what’s easiest and what gives you the most credibility, and how to maximise all of these.
Now, let’s talk about what made the difference between selling fuck all books and selling a fuck tonne of books!
When I look back at where I started with book writing and the results I got then to the results I got now, there are some really big things I did differently.
Let me tell you the key pieces of creating book success.
#1: Writing the book is 10% of the job. Marketing is 90%.
That may make you groan, but it’s true. You need to spend WAY LONGER marketing the book than you think you need to.
If you think “if it’s a great book, it will speak for itself! I won’t have to market it at all!”… you’re wrong. Sorry mate, it just doesn’t work like that.
“Just putting it out there” isn’t enough. It’s lazy. And it is not of service to the world.
If you’ve spent all that time in creating something, you need to invest time in making sure that the people who would care about it and find it useful actually HEAR about it in the first place.
I’ll talk more about the how-to’s of book marketing in the course.
#2: The three most important parts of selling: Testimonials. Testimonials. Testimonials.
I once asked a very well-known copywriter what the three most important parts of a sales page were. Her answer? Testimonials, testimonials, testimonials.
The same is true for books.
Have testimonials for the book in the first few pages of the book – the more the better!
Give advance copies away in exchange for a review on Amazon or Goodreads.
Consider giving away books to peeps with a profile who have similar interests as your target market. You can even get a bit polished with it and do it up as a cute package. I’ve sent my books to bloggers with chocolate, tea and pens in wrapping paper – all the supplies they needed to have a gorgeous time with my book!
Ask people at the end of your book to leave a review on Amazon or Goodreads if they love it.
Collate all your testimonials and reviews on your sales page.
Speaking of which…
#3: It’s not enough just to give fucking links to Amazon. You need a sales page!
A sales page is a long, comprehensive page giving people EVERYTHING they need to know about in order to BUY!
There’s some REALLY important parts to a sales page including:
a sales video
who the book is for
how the book helps
why you are the best person to learn from
benefits and results
and a big call to action.
I’ll go into all these in detail in the course, but I really want to reiterate: STOP JUST SENDING PEOPLE TO AMAZON TO BUY. YOU NEED TO SELL THE FUCK OUT OF THE BOOK FIRST SO THEY WILL ACTUALLY BUY IT!
#4: Stay connected with your readers. They’ve got bonza ideas!
That way, I get to hear when people are confused by something, LOVE something and want more of it, ask about a certain feature or want another companion product in the future.
Your readers have great ideas. They love your thing, and they can help come up with ways to make it better and write even more books!
#5: Offer it both digital and printed
It’s SO much easier than it was 10 years ago to self-publish books both digitally and in print. I’ve tried a few services, but keep coming back to Amazon Kindle Direct Publishing. They formerly were called Createspace, but it’s all merged into one platform now.
#6: This one tip will make you WAY more money!
This one is SUCH a simple tip, but can hugely increase your $$$ income.
Get your pen and paper out, and write it down!
When you do point to Amazon for people to buy your book, MAKE SURE you are using your own Amazon affiliate link.