Poker, another pivot, and a palm to the face

pokerSad news, faithful reader. This will be my last new blog post for the summer.

Wait. What?

Yes, just a few short weeks ago I announced with excitement that I was taking this blog in a new direction.

That, to put it bluntly, was a mistake.

Before I went on vacation last week I did some research into my traffic numbers.

They’re not what I wanted at all.

So I ended up doing a lot of thinking while I was away — thinking about my target audiences, and about how I’m reaching out in the wrong ways.

And sure… I know what I would need to do to attract more readers to a blog about selling content. To get those numbers up.

But that’s just it.

I don’t want to write a blog about selling content after all.

Now I’ve always tried to be transparent with you on this blog, so in the interest of what my friend Brent Weaver calls “opening the kimono,” here’s the cold hard truth — I make more money when I sell writing than when web pros like you sell it for me.

No, I’m not a capitalist pig. I don’t like to let the pursuit of cash drive my decision-making process.

But there’s no shame in admitting my writing pays the bills. And wouldn’t we all like to have an easier time with the bill-paying?

So yes, I want to make more money.

Thing is, I’ve been making a lot lately. More than usual.

I wondered why that was, so I took a look at the last few deals I’ve landed.

Here’s what I realized.

  1. I pitched and closed most of the deals myself. I drove the sales process instead of leaving it up to someone else to handle. Which meant fewer objections more easily handled, higher price tags because I’m more comfortable asking for them, and shorter turnaround times because I’m more experienced at getting commitment from writing clients.
  2. When I personally sell directly to an end-client, I make an average of three times more than I do if I let someone else control the sales process. (Apparently I am one persuasive sonofabitch.)
  3. When I try to download those persuasion skills to someone else, though, sales inevitably tank. I don’t think there’s any shame in admitting I’m a bad sales trainer.

The truth is it’s easier, faster and more productive for me to sell than it is for me to train others.

Maybe some part of me instinctively knows how to sell content after having worked with it for 15 years, but the whole “knowledge transfer” thing is much harder to achieve than I imagined.

So how does all this relate to the blog?

Well… I’ve always been honest. This blog is a fair chunk of work for me. And it’s not work I love. I’d rather be writing for clients.

Don’t get me wrong — I’m more than willing to put in that work, and will continue to do so. But my blog has always been a necessary evil for me, because I want one to support sales. I need my prospects to be looking at it while they’re doing their sales research and deciding whether or not to call me.

Hell, I write other people’s blogs for a living. I can’t very well not have one of my own.

That means the blog has to change.

Follow the logic: if I’m going to be doing more and more direct selling to B2B clients from here on out, then this blog necessarily has to appeal to those kinds of readers.

It’s not all bad news — you’ll be able to use the new blog as a tool during your sales process, too. How much easier would it be to add to your deal by selling content if you could say “I want you to work with this writer… Check out his blog — you’ll find all kinds of useful material there”?

(If you’re stuck, let me do the math. A blog that makes the sale for you = ridiculously easy. Cheers.)

So like I said — this is my last new post for a while. For the summer I’ll be editing posts to be more tailored to an end-client audience and reposting them with new dates on them.

Hell, many of them may even be new to you. Who goes back to the start of a blog and reads old posts, anyway?

Either way, don’t worry… The “teach you how to sell” component of what I do isn’t going away. I’d still like to do some guest posts at web designer blogs, and you’ll be able to learn lots of informative things about selling when I launch my content library full of ebooks.

To wrap up I want to say thank you for reading. Your support — yes, yours — means a lot to me.

Sorry for the rollercoaster ride. When you make decisions in public, like I’ve been doing lately, sometimes you have to admit you made a bad one. 

For now, I’ll leave you with this.

Business is poker: a game of hard choices and incomplete information. You ante up, bet chips to see the cards and try to come out the winner. Often you’re bluffing, pretending that all along you had a plan. Occasionally you get caught.

Sometimes you win, sometimes you lose. Sometimes the cards give you a second chance and you get lucky. Other times you realize you’ve made an embarrassing mistake — and everybody just watched you do it.

Nothing to do then but get some more chips and start playing again, right?

Here’s to the rebuy.

Photo Credit: sampsyo via Compfight cc

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  1. Hey Aaron – I understand your journey, your pivot and your swerve (although face palms I leave to the experts). I also get that you have your heart on your sleeve and how open that can leave you feeling at times. Been there, done that, bought the t-shirt (… and the Instagram photos so there was no proof of my swan dive).

    Yep – another copywriter here. And I have also played the copywriting hokey pokey – “I put the white-label in white-label out” and still am no wiser. All I know is to go with your gut and leave options open. Some clients come directly to me and I refer them to designers, others are a bit of a hybrid – they come through the web designer but I do the sales & copy process. It all depends on the designer I am working with at the time.

    I look forward to cheering on from the sidelines for you. You have a great writing style and whichever way you swerve or pivot will be brilliant.

    • Thanks for the kind words, Ingrid. Very encouraging during a tough time.

      I’m hard at work on a website redesign (and the copy that comes with it) that will really straighten things out. I don’t ever want to leave web designers, either as a “channel” or from a support point of view, but the new site needs to make it a lot more clear that there’s material here for business owners, too.

      • A colleague of mine once told me “Be your brand”. It is similar in many ways to be your own client. One tip that worked for me in rethinking stuff was to drop into a little bit of Gestalt empty chair technique. I physically went and sat at my meeting table that I use with my clients – and swapped between “my” chair and the “client” chair as I mapped out the redesign. Sometimes the physical change triggers clarity on the mental shift. And yes – your site does have some really cool material there for business owners as well.

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