Nothing good comes easy. You can be the most talented writer, actor, welder, speaker, or negotiator, but if nobody notices, you won’t win or maximize your potential.
The Yakezie Writing Contest is constructed so that it attracts the most dedicated applicants. Some find the contest from scholarship sites such as Fast Web. From there, they’ve got to figure out how the whole thing works, write a relevant essay, and cross their fingers that their work is chosen as a finalist. Others apply because they’ve been following the Yakezie Network for the past several years and understand about our cause to support our reader’s educational endeavors.
Being a finalist is only the first step to winning. The hardest part is seeing who can promote their work the best to achieve the highest number of votes. Remember, the best work doesn’t always win! You will be able to see lots of voters voting on only one finalist, and none of the rest. That is self promotion at work.
Here are four easy points to remember:
1) Make an effort.
2) Produce good work.
3) Promote your good work.
4) Win by producing more good work.
WHERE THINGS GO WRONG
There are two things I see most frequently from people who do not win.
1) They do not even try.
2) They feel that once they’ve produced, their work will speak for themselves.
If you do not even try, you will certainly never win. The lack of self-confidence is extremely detrimental to winning. If you don’t believe in yourself, it becomes very evident and others will stop believing in you. Take my not very attractive friend Vincent for example. Vincent knows he’s not good looking and constantly kids to us about his patchy hair and pot belly. Despite Vincent’s lack of looks, he is very charming and has a tremendous amount of confidence. Whenever we go out, he talks to at least five women and almost always gets to know one woman in a more intimate setting. Vincent tries because has has to try. He’s also not afraid of being embarrassed at that is why he wins.
I made all sorts of excuses why I didn’t start Financial Samurai in 2003 e.g. too busy, traveled too much, business school, etc. The reality is, I didn’t know how to start and didn’t have the self-confidence to try. If I did, my site would be almost 10 years old and have much more traffic. In the three years since starting FS, it’s soon to be arrivederci day job and hello absolute freedom!
People who produce good work have a quixotic belief that others will recognize their work and make it a success. I have no doubt many people will benefit from my book on how to quit your job and make a small fortune in the process. Unless you plan to work in the same job for the rest of your life, there will be a backstop, and quitting is not the answer! That said, I’m also confident the hundreds of hours spent writing, editing, and formatting the book in a substantive and entertaining manner will not be sufficient to sell itself. As a result, I’ve got to leverage my platform at Financial Samurai, do rounds of interviews, guest post on relevant sites, and build topics of conversation around my book in order for it to get noticed.
There are thousands of books out there written by people who’ve spent their lifetimes honing their writing skills. My goal is to get the best product out there possible to compete. Quality control for my book is vital, which is why at the time of this post, my team and I have gone through over 30 revisions. It’s why the book was over 40,000 words long and we cut it down to 37,000 words to make the content as impactful as possible. The platform has already been built. The quality of writing needs to be high to be taken seriously.
Nobody likes someone who endlessly toots their own horn. I hated highlighting what I did when I first started working because I was naive to think other people would notice my efforts is this very busy world, and I felt people would shoot me down. Over time, I witnessed those who self-promoted the best (not the most) were the ones who got promoted and paid. Instead of shunning self-promotion, I tried to figure out a way better way to get noticed.
Here some suggestions:
* Bring others along for the ride. Whenever I highlight my accomplishments, I make sure to highlight the people who are instrumental to the process. By highlighting other people’s achievements, I show that I am a team player. If I am the leader of the project or the account manager, it doesn’t even need to be said what I did.
* Create synergies. Promoting your product goes a lot farther when you can show the person who you seek help from how your product can also help them. For example, I plan to write guest posts on relevant sites that focus on escaping the 9-to-5, early retirement, and becoming an entrepreneur. The select sites will get well-written content as well as the ability to earn affiliate income if they so choose. I will then leverage my platform at Financial Samurai to highlight my work on their sites. The cross-fertilization of platforms is an incredible value proposition.
* Be suggestive, but not directive. Take the tricky world of affiliate marketing for example. Affiliate marketing is a learned skill. The ability to write content which is suggestive, but not directive is key to developing sustainable affiliate revenue. I encourage people to write a story around the affiliate content to make the product relevant. A review of product X is fine, however it lacks relevancy and entertainment value.
* Provide value and more value. You can’t be a one trick pony. It’s important to demonstrate over and over again that you can provide a high quality product. If someone buys your product, but returns only to find your subsequent product has gone downhill, you will lose your customer. I used to love Air Jordans. The style was fashion forward and the leather grains were amazing. Nike found a way to make huge money by tapping the nostalgia of middle-aged men by coming out with their Air Jordan Retros in recent years. I bought versions 3-5 for $150 a pair and was going to continue collecting when I noticed the leather quality turned from to plastic! As a result, I’m no longer a buyer.
* Show that you are in it for the long run. Nobody is going to promote someone who they think is planning on leaving for another opportunity in another year. Nobody is going to be a loyal fan of your site if they see an erratic frequency of posts and feel you’re about to burn out and shutdown. I plan to run Financial Samurai for years to come given I plan on leaving my job. I also plan on writing several books down the road. As a result, readership continues to grow.
* Ask for help. Unless you have never helped someone out before, you are most certainly encouraged to ask others for help. Asking someone out of the blue with no contest will likely not go well. However, you’ll be surprised to discover how much people are willing to help you if you just ask. I can’t wait to help out those who’ve helped me.
Skillful self-promotion doesn’t come naturally. But in order to win, learning how to self-promote is a must. The world is way too busy to notice your good work. Once you’ve done something you’re proud of, the real work begins!
Readers, how do you balance self-promotion? What are some of the methods you have used to win?
How much would you pay for a book that teaches you how to potentially walk away from your job with thousands, tens of thousands, if not hundreds of thousands, of dollars?
YWC: Voting ends July 8.
Photo: Alaskan Pig Race at Alameda County Fair, SD.