On Focus, Efficiency, Learning and Art. Oh Yeah, and Smart Questions

Just had a Skype call with a subscriber, an artist/writer/translator in The Netherlands.

She’s a clever cookie.

But she’s also a fine example of that weird ‘sales are evil’ mindset.

And yet, over the last few months I’ve been observing her progress, and I must say she’s doing very interesting things.

She’s learning a lot about marketing, and she’s figuring out how to do it in her own way, without feeling sleazy.

Implementing lessons, putting her name out.

Even writing calls to action.

And, she’s getting in more clients for her translation business.

Nice. Smart.

Now, she’d never create paintings just for the sake of being able to sell them.

She’ll never write a story or a poem for no better reason than knowing it will sell.

Artistic integrity and all that jazz.


And yet…

We had our call, we discussed the work she needs me to do, and then I asked her to give me a topic to write about today.

(I like doing that, asking random people what I should write about – always interesting to see what people are struggling with.

If you have a burning question about business or marketing, reply and ask – if I’ve something to answer I’ll write about it this weekend.)

She says: “I have a question. You know my paintings don’t sell and neither do my books.

“So I decided on an experiment, I want you to tell me if this is a smart thing to do”

“I discovered a huge box of etches and collages in my attic, made by a relative in the 60’s. It’s good stuff, I know people like buying that kind of thing.

I figured that if my own paintings don’t sell, why not keep making what I like to make without trying to find clients, and start selling those etches and collages instead?

That way I can earn my living with translations, paint what I want without the need to sell it, and learn internet marketing and all that selling malarky by way of an experiment.

So I set up an Etsy shop and a blog, just to see if I can make it work.

What do you think, good idea?”

I think two things: It’s smart to do it this way – it’s a bit like getting a degree at the Open University. Study at your own pace without readjusting your entire life to it.

And, she’ll be learning business – she needs that, just as we all do

Secondly though, there is a risk of diluting energy, and that’s an insidious little bitch.

She has a job which is translation, a passion which is painting, and a family. That’s called full-time.

Taking on a project like this, by way of hobby/self-study will always take more time than allotted.

That’s not bad in itself, but she’ll have to be disciplined so that her project doesn’t start eating up time she needs for her core activity: earning a living with translations.

Remember Hugh MacLeod in his magnificent Ignore Everybody: “Keep your day job”.

Until that business selling etches actually sustains her life and that of her family, it should stay at the level of a side-business.

Meaning, any time the core moneymaking activity is getting snowed under, the side-business has to wait, no matter what.

Many people do what she’s trying to do, in some way or other.

You might be considering adding SEO services to your webdesign services, for example.

Nothing wrong with that in itself, but always be careful that the new project or experiment doesn’t slow down you main activity.

If you don’t keep a strong focus on this, you’ll find you keep throwing more and more time into your secondary project (it’s almost working!) at the expense of your income.

Not good.

Another thing to consider: The balance between what you put in and what goal you’re trying to reach

If she would want to earn a living or a partial living with those etches in a year from now, I’d say don’t do it.

But, she wants to do it for the sake of learning things about marketing, payments, funnels, sales, copy, networking…

She’s planning to come home with a bunch of stuff learned – not with a cash-producing business.

That’s realistic, she’ll achieve that. And with the time she’ll invest for it, it will pay off in her other activities.

I say: why not go for it? Learning is always good.

(That’s not my advice to her, btw: just my opinion. Like I always say: Careful with advice, giving or taking).

Also good to learn, by the way, is how to write emails that build an audience.

Because let me tell you a secret: my list is tiny. So tiny, I’m ashamed to mention a number.

No, it’s less than that. No, even fewer. Ok, halve that. Now take ten percent of that.

Small, see?

And yet, it’s enough for me to run a business.

You don’t need a big list if you know how to talk to your audience.

All you need is knowing how to build a relationship with your readers.

And, write to them every day.

And that – how to write in such a way that you get thank yous instead of unsubscribes for mailing daily…

… and how to talk to your audience and build a readership that turns into a business…

That is what I teach.

Details here –> http://www.martinstellar.com/starship-mentorprise-writing-coach/

Be warned though: I’m a tough teacher. I’ll make you work.

And, it’s not a miracle solution: you can’t get my mentorship today, start mailing your people daily and expect to have sales raining down within a month. (though it is entirely possible, provided you study and practice your ass off, and write every single day without fail).
If you want an audience, it takes hard work, hours of writing, and the persistence of a marathon runner.

And the ability to handle a mentor who’s about as ruthless and hard as any old martial arts master.

Wax on, wax off, grasshopper: Write and rewrite. Build an audience. Get sales.

Got what it takes?




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Martin helped our co-working space get to full occupancy and $25.000 monthly revenue in less than a year.

~ Antonio Herrezuelo,
Avenida Capital

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