It is just 2021 today as I tryper this (no that ain’t no spello). 2020 was an odd one, an interesting one, a downright infuriating one. But we can learn a lesson or two and let it go. Let ourselves get on.
Most of the year I spent trying to sell myself. That meant that I was surrounded by others trying to do the same. Being me I tried to reach outwith my experience to help those less sure of what they were doing than I was.
I am helpful by nature but part of the reason I kept helping, even when people seemed less than interested, is that as Seth Godin says, what you write helps you to see your stuff better. Seth used a more articulate word than stuff and his whole post probably used fewer characters than this paragraph. I ain’t Seth Godin. I have more hair.
Open All Night
One of the really common things I saw among aspiring (or should that read desperate) sellers on Fiverr was that they seemed entirely unwilling to take stock. They would rather follow advice that was patently stupid like staying active online 24/7 (which requires either death or being banned for using an auto-refresh bot) than work on themselves to give their business a chance.
Way I take it is that 2020 was all about having to look at ourselves. Things that weren’t easy. Things that we didn’t know what to do with. Things that we often felt we’d rather get plague then look at. Yup. Bin there.
Today I wrote this in a thread where for 10 days people had been passing 3-5 inarticulate (and clearly valueless) word answers in answer to “How to increase impression and click of gig very quickly“.
Finally, someone asked the first remotely useful question: “Anyone can share more effective suggestion?” This person was starting to wake from the endless rounds of people saying & doing nothing, hoping it would make a difference.
Get out of threads like this where people share a few meaningless words and work out who you are really selling to.
Most people’s gigs don’t get off the ground because they go straight to trying to be everything to everyone and think that more visibility is the solution. This is backwards. Scatter-gun works for Coke seeing it/they are everywhere (except my fridge) but for a freelancer, you are “one” so have to play a different game.
Sell something unique. Be unique. Even if you are an Accountant (apparently the most boring job in the world) decide who you are selling to. “Everyone” is a stupid plan because you are in-effect selling to no one.
I can Accounting cheap, unlimited 100% happiness
is a woefully terrible sales pitch as there is no reason for anyone to be interested, let alone respect your abilities seeing drunk Yoda write like did you.
I can cook your books so hot the FBI will never unravel all the money I sent offshore to buy guns for your enforcers, sorry legitimate business partners. Happy to pull 5-10 in a minimum-security facility as an optional extra. You can see some of my former clients in this lovely video
Please note this may not be a legal advert but the humor should not take away from how it is:
- targeting a particular type of buyer
- showing real skills and
- backing them with real results you have created
If you won’t do this then you can only rely on luck and luck rarely helps those who do not help themselves. If you struggle with this then hire a specialist. If you don’t want to do either, don’t waste time here muddying up everyone’s lives, do something else.
That was probably more words than the whole thread to that point. I ain’t Seth Godin. I use more words.
Rock The Casbah
You may wonder why I write this when my thing is music. Well thanks fer askin’. I write this because music is a business. Yep, the Music Business.
We can pretend otherwise but then we are pretending, and pretenders (apart from Chrissie Hynde’s old band) have no place on the main stage. They muddy up everything.
If you wanna make something you have to do it all out or not at all.
The problem with all those Fiverr Gigs is that the people who make them are terrified. They think they are terrified of not having a job seeing the plague done comed and shut the ole factory down. I get that. Really though they are terrified of having to be themselves.
2020 made us look at ourselves. Who were we when we couldn’t just promenade down la dolce vita for a double cap with a twist of lemon just to feel special?
2020 asked us to step back so we can step up.
Quick Step & Side Kick
The other thing I noticed about failing Fiverr sellers was that they were just like musicians. Not surprising really seeing people are people (as Depeche Mode tell me).
Musicians have this terrible habit of trying to be safe in the fish ball. The problem with this strategy is that it is exactly as I have pointed out above. Fans don’t want to buy generic music, they want to buy something magnificent, a fantasy that they can’t live themselves. This needs to be a clear image that is fully played out or it flops.
The charts for the last 10-20 years may have been full of derivative drivel but it still (mostly) met the needs of the few people buying it (or stealing it via Spotifry). BUT moving forward this will not stay the case. It cannot. 2020 was the end of a cycle. The bit when the wheels fell off the cycle it seems.
Moving forward we need to deliver something that us personally. I. Me. Safe in the herd is no longer the path. Genre is done. Sure shelves will still have a Metal section and a Country section and things in them will be more Iron Maiden or more Garth Brooks but this whole we make Sharkcore/TrebbeGrimeDub/Smallpants/Hypershit thing is over (which means boring-scared people will be asking for it for 5 more years). Smart people will not be making it.
As you may have guessed, right now I am listening to a Thompson Twins album. This is an amazing record. Not “Born To Run” amazing but brilliantly unique from song to song in ways that Springsteen never was. While it does sound like 1983, it doesn’t sound remotely like Michael Jackson, Corey Heart, Kim Wilde, Duran Duran… Once you let go of it being 1983, it is a timeless record with so much to offer.
No that is not a Pro-Tip Tut saying make records that sound like Thompson Twins but to make records that feel the way I just described. That means that you don’t start by saying I need to sound like [insert band you like] but that you say I am making my record. The record that is me.
When you are done it may not sound like what you expected, but I can say that if you really did the work and made the record that is you instead of trying to fit the crowd, I bet you will a) be happier (after the fear subsides) and b) do a bit better as people notice that you and you record are unique.
Not everyone will like your unique record but some people you didn’t expect might just step forward and say they liked this record. This is winning. Expecting to go to #1 on Spotifry is like so over. So 2020.
To answer the Q in the title, my sales have improved as the year went by, esp as it got closer to the end. Incidentally, as I got closer to being clear about who I really am and what I am really here to do. You see I really am not Seth Godin, nor do I need to be, because my people don’t want that from me. More or less hair or words is not relevant. Who I am is.