I’m guessing you’ve heard about – if not experienced firsthand – the abysmal stretch of weather we’ve had here in New England over the past couple of weeks.
After a December and good part of January in which it barely snowed at all, my town – a suburb 25 miles west of Boston – has received over 50 inches of snow just since the Academy Award nominations were announced last month (not that I am suggesting a connection).
Indeed, in just a couple of weeks, the “Isn’t it fun and oh so beautiful?” comments that you hear around town have devolved into, “Why do we live here again?”
But you’ll never hear me complaining.
Because while it’s certainly true that it can get really snowy and bitterly cold for a couple of months each year, I take comfort in the knowledge that here in New England, there’s little that can actually kill you.
No tornadoes, no earthquakes, no wildfires, no floods. No alligators, no grizzly bears, no poisonous snakes or spiders. From a Mother Nature perspective, it’s like living with your parents for the rest of your life: Nothing terrible will ever happen; you’re just constantly miserable.
Anyway, when the first big storm (“Winter Storm Juno”) hit a week ago Monday, we got more or less what was predicted. Everything was shut down, road travel was banned and schools were closed for two days while the state dug out. No surprises.
Just a couple of hundred miles south in New Jersey, however, it was a totally different story.
There, and despite dire forecasts from the National Weather Service which described the coming storm using words such as “colossal,” “crippling,” “historic,” “cow-smothering,” “Shaq-afied,” and “AAAArrrggh!!!” (I may have made a few of those up), accumulation stayed mostly in the one to five inch range.
From that point, at least one thing about the storm unfolded as predicted … everyone blamed the weather people:
“Why can’t they ever get it right?”
“How hard can it be?”
“Those guys are idiots.”
But the truth is, and as Nate Silver explains in way too much detail in his book, The Signal and the Noise: Why So Many Predictions Fail – But Some Don’t, accurate weather forecasting is incredibly difficult, requiring one to anticipate the path of a multi-factor, rapidly-moving, three-dimensional bit of chaos. And in real time, no less.
And yet difficult or not, being a meteorologist is a no-win occupation. You get it right, and nobody gives you any credit. You get it wrong, and everybody hates you.
Fortunately, our situation as solo professionals is exactly the opposite.
What I mean is that not only does the general public not attack us when we are wrong, they mostly don’t even notice.
I’m not talking here about the work you do for clients; I’m talking about the things you put out into the world in the name of marketing: Your web site, your newsletter, your blog, your social media activity and more.
Some people may notice some of it (if you’re lucky). But I guarantee you that you’d have to do, say or write some horrible, terrible, idiotic stuff for it to explode in your face.
Most of what most of us do remains well below the radar of everyone else.
Why am I mentioning all this? Because in my experience, what keeps most solo professionals from creating and distributing content, in any form, is a fear of what other people will think.
What if there’s a typo? What if somebody disagrees with me? What if someone else has already made the point I’m making?
All possible, absolutely.
But I’ve got a much bigger, much more likely, much more dangerous-to-your-success-as-a-solo-professional “What If” to consider:
What if nobody knows you’re alive because you hardly ever open your mouth?
I’m no linguist, but that would seem to be the opposite of the definition of marketing.
Here’s the bottom line. I’m not suggesting that you be careless or crazy or sloppy in your marketing. Clearly, good quality work reflects well on you.
I am saying, however, that if you insist on perfecting, polishing and fine-tuning every little bit of everything you do before you put it out there for others to see, it will take you a lot longer to be noticed, let alone remembered, by anyone.
What marketing or content tactic is the hardest for you to release to the world? Share your thoughts below.
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