This is part 1 of a 4-part series in which we share the challenges we’re posing for ourselves in 2015. Join us by challenging yourself to the same things.
At this moment, I have more than 20 blog posts in a “draft” state.
Each one is what you might call epic, as in it’s 5000+ words and heavily researched.
Yet not one of those posts is ready to publish.
A few have been in my drafts since 2013. I’ve been chipping away at them. Adding, adding, adding.
I’ve got guest posts I’ve agreed to do for a heaping handful of blogs I admire. Have I started those posts? Nope. Not a one.
What’s holding me back?
Well, see, I’ve got myself what you might call a problem…
I’ve Started Taking Myself Too Geedee Seriously
I do believe there comes a point in the life of every micropreneur when he begins to believe that he’s the linchpin.
That’s where I was at in 2014.
And that’s where my frustrations as a business owner lie. I’m held back by this foolish, unfounded worry that if I’m not helicoptering, tinkering with and approving everything, the coral reefs will explode, the ozone will slip off the planet like the wrapper off a gumball, and dinosaurs will rise from the ground as enormous skeletal zombies. The world will end.
Years ago, when I was 23 and about to start law school, a lawyer named Andrew Zebak gave me this valuable piece of advice, which I’d like to share with you in the hopes that we both start living by it:
Never take yourself too seriously.
More than ten years later, it’s still easier said than done.
The Easiest Thing Is to Buy Your Own Bullshit
Perhaps you’ll remember this line from the film Quiz Show, in which the producer of rigged TV game-show Twenty-One says to contestant Herbert Stempel:
“Look, don’t start believing your own bullshit, all right? You wouldn’t know the name of Paul Revere’s horse if he took a shit on your lawn!”
To be clear: I don’t exactly think I’m full of BS.
But I do think that it’s easy to let nice wins turn into huge wins in your head, which in turn feel like they’re shaping you into something newer, bigger, better. Nice wins in point: I’ve long marveled that the ultra-cool Unbounce team seems to be, like, an advocate of Copy Hackers. (I hesitate to write that because I don’t want them to read it and go, “Hmm, why do we let that girl hang with us?”) And I was floored when Rand Fishkin walked up to me at Business of Software and introduced himself – so floored that I don’t even remember what I said in the first two minutes of our convo. I’ve had a very healthy number of very healthy job offers. Hell, I had my copywriting hero Brian Clark invite me to speak at his conference – twice.
These cool things happen. They’re awesome. But, for me, I let them turn, somehow, into a form of pressure. You want to be good. You want to be worthy. You don’t want to let a single person down. So you think that you need to keep doing what you’ve been doing because that’s the thing that they like you for, so you’d better not do anything differently…
…and suddenly blog posts get hard to write.
You’re buying your own bullshit.
You’re acting like you’ve made it or something. Like because you’re on a panel, you’re some kind of expert?? Really, Joanna??
You’ve started to take yourself very, very seriously. And by you I mean me. But maybe you too.
In 2015, I’m Going to Do the Opposite
It’s time for me to chill the f*** out and loosen my death-grip on Copy Hackers. You may not think I have one. I do. And it’s sucking all the fun out of writing about the stuff I love: copywriting, optimization, startups, and stuff outside those buckets. But that stops – as hard as it is – right now.
This year, I’m going to fuck up. A lot.
And embarrass myself.
And write things that contradict what I said two years ago because a lot can change in two years.
And write things that challenge accepted best practices, that question Ogilvy, that make the Eisenbergs roll their eyes, that pick a fight with a known concept – even if I lose that fight, even if I go down in the first ten seconds, even if three of my teeth get smashed out and my jaw snaps. (Better if it doesn’t come to that, of course.)
This year, I’m going to let more voices say more things on this very blog. After all, it looks like that’s what you want anyway. The guest posts on Copy Hackers have done really well insofar as comments and shares are concerned:
- Danny Margulies’s post on freelancing: 70 comments
- Jen Havice’s post on A/B testing: 34 comments
- Bushra Azhar’s post on persuasion: 25 comments
- …My post on attention management: 17 comments 🙁
This year, I’m going to hire an associate editor to be a major voice on Copy Hackers. And I’m going to shut up and let them say what they will. …Well, I’m gonna try, at least.
This year, I’m going to seek out more guest posts from the people who write shit I love. And if I don’t know you but you think you write shit I’d love, start connecting with me in the comments, then start emailing or tweeting with me, and I’m bound to ask you to write and pay you for it.
This year, I’m going to write posts that are long, posts that are short, posts that share more of my testing and business failures, posts that are not driven by a keyword phrase or a BuzzSumo analysis, posts that may or may not have been scheduled on an editorial calendar that may or may not exist. I’m going to write posts that may only be interesting to me. I’m going to loosen the reins on what a blog is Supposed to Be.
That’s my first challenge of 2015.
Good Lord, let me make it to February without having thrown in the towel…