“If you're too big to fit into fashion, then you just have to do your own fashion.” – Vivienne Westwood, Born Apr. 8, 1941.
When I first went freelance and was trying to figure out this whole guruhood-as-a-business-model thing, I had a worry.
What is going to be my “thing”? What is going to be the difference that makes me a worthwhile choice in my marketplace? Why is anyone going to follow me and do what I recommend?
Tough questions. Me being me, I put them on the back burner and procrastinated finding answers.
Instead, I figured, just start doing the “stuff” you know you’re supposed to do and maybe come back to that philosophical raison d’être stuff.
I’d need a website. And a portfolio. And a book. And some products. And an email list. And and and…
I got started. And failed. And failed. And failed.
I’ve tried writing the way other people have done it.
I’ve tried creating products the way other people have done it.
I’ve tried promoting my stuff the way other people have done it.
None of it was working because I couldn’t finish. If I did finish, I hated it and didn’t want to share it because it wasn’t “me” and I didn’t want to have to be a phony every day just to make my living.
Other people’s “thing” just didn’t fit. I didn’t know it wouldn’t fit until I tried it on. I didn’t know what I didn’t like about their styles and modes and methods until I got my hands dirty.
This is where the extinction line is for most people, I think.
If I had stopped there, I might have convinced myself that writing, teaching, selling, and all this were just not for me.
After all, I tried it, and it didn’t work.
I might have mistaken the undesirable work activity with the desired work output. I might have psyched myself out of this whole thing.
But instead, I just kept messing around, trying to reach my end goals, but playing with the process needed to get there.
Not because I’m determined. Because I’m stubborn. Not because I’m smart. Because I was screwing around on the Internet all day anyway – may as well screw around with this for a bit each day.
I decided what I didn’t like doing at all and eliminated it.
I decided what I did like and figured out how to do more of it.
I figured out how to make it work for me.
And here is the important part – I made these processes and personal work “innovations” INTO my “thing”.
What is different about me – different from everyone else who does what I do?
The way I do it is what’s different.
The reasons WHY I do things the way I do are what I have in common with my audience.
And I DO have an audience, and I DO have a successful business. And it’s because when I found out that other people‘s ways of doing things didn’t fit me, it revealed the path to something that did.
And SHARING that path is what I do for a living now.
Is it THE way for EVERYONE? No. But try it on, and you might like it. At a minimum, take what you like from what I do and use it to make your own thing.
You have to.
<!—- lagniappe So, here are some hopefully helpful suggestions on how to find your own vein of productivity to help you get your own unique work groove - not just to get more done, but to create your own flavor and stand out in the market. 1. Find someone who is doing what you want to do - content/product/service-wise - and try to imitate them at first. See how you can arrive at the kind of output they are doing, and see how that feels. 2. Reflect on the process. Where does it feel like unnecessary labor? What parts don’t do anything for you? Can you trim them, or do it a different way? One personal example for me was that every video course out there seemed to be done with PowerPoint slides. I don’t hate making them - in fact I get too caught up making them and it would take me forever. So instead, I just used the same mind maps I used to create the course material and showed those on screen. No slides. People ended up liking the stripped down presentation. 3. Try variations that seem interesting to you, but not just in isolation - put it out there and ask the audience what they think? Test their preferences. Don’t let a presumption about what you believe the want tie your hands. 4. Look for efficiencies and places where you can “wing it” and try to create more opportunities for those. So for me, that involved writing ahead in batches, and publishing on a schedule, because I am not great at writing on a schedule. Another example is that I have gotten good at improv when doing video, so for trainings, I have learned that I don’t have to script as much for myself as I do for clients, because I can just riff and create it on the fly with nothing more than a checklist. I don’t want to overload, so I will stop there, but those tips above should show you the path to starting with something successful that works for someone else, and using that as a basis for developing and refining your own ways from there. Not starting from scratch, but a cutting away and replacing process. Hope it helps! —->