We have every excuse to not be creative. We have every excuse to not get started right now. Only we must.
You’re scared. I can tell. You are scared to create, but you must begin.
The easiest thing in the world is to delay the start. To say that you don’t have enough information. To say that you don’t have enough training. To say that you don’t know what you’re doing quite yet. To say that the circumstances are not precisely the way you want them to be. To say that the timing is off. To say that the competition is just too strong right now. To say that the boss wants another six month data gathering performed before making a decision. To say that others began and stalled out. Yet despite all this, we must start right now.
We have every excuse not to begin. I include myself in this category. I have every excuse not to write. I have every excuse not to publish the video. I have every excuse not to cut the podcast. I have every excuse not to send the email. I have every excuse not to act like an entrepreneur. I have every excuse not to lift weights. I have every excuse not to travel. I have every excuse not to get enough sleep. I have every excuse not to create. I have every excuse not to eat right. They are all unhelpful. They are all dumb. They all get me exactly nowhere. And they are all B.S.
It will suck when you start. There’s no doubt about it. You will face doubt. You will face hardship. You will face critics, the worst one being yourself. You will face people that don’t understand why you do what you do and will likely mock you for it. Worse, you won’t be very good when you start. You’ll be raw. You’ll be unrehearsed. You will not have discovered your voice yet. You’ll be wondering what to say and how best to say it. You will have a hard time articulating what you do for a living to others. You will have a really hard time allowing yourself to suck, giving yourself the permission to not be very good at this yet. Only you must begin. You must start. Now.
It is hard for us to remember what it was like to be a beginner at something, to be really inexperienced, to not know. Most of us would prefer to block out those difficulties, that hardship, the early times when we’re finding our footing. Like a professional comic looking back at his early years, it is hard not to cringe at the jokes being told. Only that snapshot in time was simply where he was at in his creative endeavor. A lot of comics start out doing impressions of others because that’s simply how a lot of them start in the joke-telling craft. Sometimes, that’s enough to land an SNL spot where impressions of popular culture still rule. There’s nothing wrong with starting like that, and then moving on to other, more serious comedy. (Have you noticed how well impressions play on all of us? If you act out other people that your audience is familiar with, it is a guaranteed laugh. Not a bad way to start out.)
Some of us start out just like the young comic, doing impressions of others, because that’s where we’re at, that’s where we are currently comfortable. And that’s OK. You started! You’re going. You’re building momentum. You’re making people laugh. You’re spreading the joy. You’re making sales. You’re doing something, a series of actions, being a creator, being an entrepreneur, that terrifies almost all other people. So what if they don’t get you? Don’t expect them to. Find your people. Attract your audience. Like that same young comic, find out what resonates with them and what doesn’t. What are they hungry for? Where are the laughs? Where are the roars? What makes them go nuts for you?
Always be testing material.
You won’t know until you get out there and test it. Nothing really happens until you test it. Go put out some new stuff to see what sticks and what doesn’t. You’re writing copy. You’re making offers. You’re testing new ideas. Some of which will not work. And that’s OK. Now, you know. The point is to always be testing, always be creating, always be seeing what else you can do. Because there’s always more creative work to be done. Remember: your creative well runs so deep that it never runs out of creativity. Never. It simply has to be tapped regularly. There’s always more creativity where yours came from if you believe it.
When you’re just starting out, the point is to create and share frequently, on a regular schedule. Get it so down, so regular, that people come to expect it from you. Whatever your publishing schedule is, stick to it. Become known for it, in fact. Be so good about it that if you didn’t show up, people would wonder where you are. Create your editorial calendar and schedule your content out months in advance if you can. That’s what the Pros do. That’s what big retailers do for seasonality. They are always planning, always thinking months ahead, pondering what their markets will best respond to next.
While it will be hard, try not to worry about whether some piece is good or not. You’re in it to win it. You’re here to stay. You’re committed. Since you’re committed, one or two pieces of content are not going to make you or break your creative spirit. They are simply a creative moment in time captured. They will mean different things to different people. Remember: meaning is subjective. If meaning is subjective, how can you know which of your content pieces will resonate the most with your audience? You can’t. Not without some data to back it up. So, try not to worry so much about whether something is “good or not.” Your people will tell you. And that is entirely the point. Eventually and quickly, you are creating for them, for your audience, for your people.
In order to get there, creating for a particular audience, you first must create for yourself. Everyone starts with an audience of one. You begin because you feel like you have something to say and you cannot help but say it, if only for you. Why do people start blogs? Why do people blab on IG? Why do people express strong opinions about things that really do not denote them? Because they want to feel heard. They want to feel like they belong. They want to feel like what they’re doing and creating matters. They are injecting meaning into the thing, the blog, the video, the social media conversation, and they are engaged. Never underestimate the human need to feel heard.
How best to start? Listen. What are people saying they want or need help with?
One of the best uses for social media and its various groups is the ability for someone new who wants to help to listen in on the conversations and see where the wants and needs are. What do people need help with? Where are the gaps in knowledge? What product is just OK, and can be made better? Where do people need more training?
All businesses exists to solve problems, and everyone of us has problems. They’re widely distributed. I may have already solved your problem and vice versa. I possess knowledge that you don’t. By sharing that knowledge through education or training, we add value to other people. The best marketing, in fact, is always training. You’re moving people from where they are to where they want to be. And if you can prove to them that you can do that, perhaps initially for free, giving them a taste of what’s to come, you’re doing exceptional marketing.
What people want is transformation.
What moves people is having their problems solved. People want transformation in their lives. While it can be a big desire for a big life change, it can also be something smaller that has been bugging them for awhile, something nagging that needs attention. If you can help them solve this nagging issue, this little thing that keeps persisting in their life, they will love you for it and they will remember you for it. You don’t have to solve all their life’s problems. You only have to start with one. Start with just one. Move them closer to where they want to be. Get them a quick win, building momentum.
Don’t underestimate how important small, quick wins are too people.