Martin Stellar - Coach & Consultant for ethical sales and business growth

Martin Stellar - Coach & Consultant for ethical sales and business growth

Count Yourself

Yeah I know – there’s only one ‘you’ to count, right?

But check the way you write your business communications… emails you send to your list… replies on Messenger and Whatsapp… blog posts, your about page…

In the things that you write, how often does  the word ‘I’ show up?

Ah… suddenly there’s a lot more of ‘you’ to count…

Look, it’s natural to reference self when writing. After all it’s us, ‘I’, in dialogue with someone else, or it’s ‘I’ delivering discourse.

But most business writing is full of self-reference and the word ‘I’ shows up so much, that the reader can’t help but feel that it’s not about them.

And then they’re lost, they stop reading, they unsubscribe, or don’t follow up on your proposal.

So to make your business writing better, remember a few ground rules:

Never start a message with ‘I’. You might be the most loving and compassionate person in the world, but when ‘I’ leads the message, the reader reads ‘self-importance’.

Following on from that: Avoid as much as possible, starting a sentence with ‘I’. Reason: see above, but cumulative.

Ok. So with that, you’ve edited and improved your missive. Well done.

But if you count self, you see there’s still a lot of ‘I’ in there… now what?


Replace each instance of ‘I’ with ‘you’, see how it breaks the sentence, and then: rewrite the sentence so that you keep ‘you’ and it all makes sense again.

Do that with each instance of ‘I’, and you’ll be sending messages that instead of driving people away because it *feels* like it’s all about you, will draw people in to working with you, because the absence of that ‘I’ focus allows them to relate your message to themselves.

Make people feel it’s about them, and they get closer – which is pretty damn required if they’re going to buy from you.

One of the things I love doing for clients, is improve their copy for them.

I’ve done it a lot back when I was a copywriter, so fixing something that’s almost good and make it great is something I can do on the fly –  and for my clients it’s great, because they can focus on doing their work, while they get a pro to create written business communication that causes sales.

It’s not that I sell that as a service, but it’s a nice bonus to give, and super profitable for my clients.

Like that series of emails I wrote a while ago, and which helped my client net almost $10k in five days.

Could be the kind of help you have in your corner.

Should we have a chat about what it would look like to get my help?

Let me know…

In any case, watch out for self-referencing in your writing – make sure that even if you write about yourself, it’s always for the reader.



Every Business a Publishing Business

It’s said that every business is a publishing business, but I’d say it goes further:

Every individual is an independent publisher.

We publish all the time, it never stops.

We publish our thoughts, the food we make and share, we publish our helpfulness and our embrace, we publish our values and our goals and our tweets and our care and concern…

It’s all there, for everyone to see, so long as they pay attention.

Now why is it that so many businesses don’t get the attention they deserve – people just don’t seem to pay attention?

Because those businesses don’t make publishing a focal point in their marketing. They just do it willy-nilly, or as an afterthought, or as ‘content strategy, guys – we need a content strategy’.

At the far end of doing it wrong are the companies you bought something from 3 years ago, you never heard from them since then, and suddenly they mail you to say ‘We’re still open, despite the virus!’.

Yeah, wow. Man I suddenly love that company SO MUCH! *clicks unsubscribe*

A little bit better but still not the kind of publishing people really pay attention to: companies who only mail their list when they have a sale going on or something new to offer.

And then, there’s pretty much the holy grail of publishing: Seth Godin, who has been sharing a useful idea with his list 7 days a week, for years running.

And while your humble narrator isn’t quite as steadfast as Seth, I can tell you that sending daily emails is magnificently powerful.

It takes 20 to 30 minutes a day, and clients show up to work with me, when they’re ready, and all I need to do is share something that I hope is useful, daily, and publish it.

What could be easier?

Meanwhile, the process automatically creates a library of articles – actual assets – that I can repurpose and turn into books, trainings, slideshows and so on, creating more assets that I can then publish.

Whatever it is you do, you’re a publisher.

And whether you write daily, or publish videos on Instagram or Youtube or articles for an industry publication:

It pays dividends to take your publishing seriously.

And that is one of the things I help people with: building a lightweight, easy to maintain publishing strategy that creates visibility, a loyal audience, sales, and revenue.

Are you ready to get serious about publishing your business, strategically, with minimal effort and maximum efficiency?

Then let’s talk, and see if we ought to work together…



“If There’s No CTA, All You’ve Done Is Make Art”

Heard that on a podcast this morning, not sure who first said it. But it’s true, in business.

Now before any artists reading this get upset: I’m not slating anything about art or artists. In fact, art is an important and valuable part of history and society and culture – and thank you all for making it.

That said, when you create marketing materials – emails, videos, presentations, social updates – and you don’t end with a call to action, what you’ve done is a public service…

… without serving your business – like art, it’s good for people and society.

It’s useful, good, gratefully received, builds goodwill and trust and rapport – but it doesn’t serve your business.

Because a business needs customers, and – oddly – you’ll get more of them when you ask.

That doesn’t mean you need to go all ‘buy now’ in everything you put out there, mind you.

You can invite your audience to take any kind of action – so long as you ask them for some kind of action you suggest they take.

“Hit reply…”

“Check out the course…”

“Buy it if it’s right for you”

“Share this with a friend?”

“Tell me, what’s your view?”

“You’ve learned the exercise, now I highly recommend you take some time for it.”

“Now that you know the cost of sloppy thinking, is it time to start thinking better and making better decisions?”

“Think about it…”

You see, there’s a million actions your reader or viewer can take.

The best one for business is one that leads to a sale, of course.

But on days when you’re not driving for a sale, or your intention is to serve or inform or train or entertain, you’re missing out if you don’t also invite the person to take some sort of action.

You’ve just done something intended to change or better their life.

What better thing to do, than to ask them to action it?

Think about it… see how you can work CTA’s into your own materials.

Or, you can talk to me if you’re ready to level up your marketing and sales in a big way.

Either way: I highly recommend you always use a CTA.



P.s. Here’s an example of another fun CTA you can use:

If you’ve considered contacting me about my work but haven’t yet… what’s the thing you want the most for your business… the thing you want so much, that you’ll click this link and schedule a short conversation, so I can learn what you want and you can learn if I’m the right one to help you get it…?

What Is It You Do For a Living?

Most people answer that question by not answering it:

“I’m an author” or “I’m a massage therapist” or “I’m owner of a design agency”.

Those are not answers, because they say what you *are*, not what you *do*.

And people are a lot more interested in the thing we *do* that makes us different, than in the label we put on ourselves. It’s why they asked the question, isn’t it?

Leave it up to Seth Godin to answer the question, and answer it right. In an interview he gave, he said:

“I notice things for a living, and then I try to point them out to people”.

Wonderful, isn’t it?

When people ask what you do, you need to know what message to convey, that has them see the change you make, in just a few words.

Elon Musk could say “I’m CEO of a couple of companies – Tesla, The Boring Company, SpaceX, amongst others”.

Or, he could say “I’m working on a multi-business plan to improve humanity’s conditions, and help ensure its survival”.

You’ll agree (whether or not you support his approach or not) that the latter sounds a lot sexier than the former.

My current best is “I learn people for a living, and then I try to come up with ideas that grow your business”.

Though admittedly, it’s wonky: It’s not learning people that earns me a living, but coming up with those business-growing ideas. In other words: my reply is still under construction.

But what about you?

What is it that you *do* for a living?

Not what you are, but what do you do, that someone else might value so much, they’d pay money for it?

What value do you create, what change do you make, what does your work for others?

Find the answer to that, and you’ll never have to lose another person’s interest again, when they ask what you do.

And the secret to finding the perfect reply?

Make sure that it answers the two most fundamental questions that literally everybody needs answered when dealing with a business:

‘So what?’ and:

‘What’s in it for me?’

Craft a reply that answers those two, and you’re set.

Oh and hey, let’s play a game!

Send me your best reply to the question “What do you *do* for a living?” and I’ll use my old copywriter-brain to help you turn it into a nice 1-sentence introduction for when people ask you.

Want to play?

Alright, here we go:

What is it that you *do* for a living?



“Can’t They Guess?” Maybe They Can, but Is That Their Job?

Of course the other person has intelligence. And ears, and intuition.

They know how to compute and make sense of what you’re saying.

But, when you want to get results with people in any sort of way, you shouldn’t give people the job of trying to figure out what you mean.

It’s your job to make sure your meaning gets across, and gets registered on the other side just the way you meant it.

But very often, we don’t do that job.

We say vague things, or give ambiguous messages, or we use catch-all words, like ‘you know’ and ‘kinda’ and ‘wow’.

But what does ‘wow’ mean? It underlines an emotion – but which one? And because of which impression, experience, thought, or insight that you had did you get to feeling ‘wow’?

Pretty unfair to let someone else do the job of figuring that out, isn’t it?

Even worse, when you don’t speak clearly and unequivocally (meaning: there’s only one possible interpretation of your message) you give the other person a job to do, where they need to spend cognitive resources, and guess what:

The other person will be too lazy, disinterested, or occupied with their own thoughts, to do that job for you.

And there you go: misunderstanding, confusion, broken communication, and in the context of business: no sale.

Want to move your relationships, sales, and conversations forward?

Then let everything you say have only one possible interpretation. In other words: take on the job of communicating so well that you’re understood, instead of leaving the other person responsible for figuring out what you meant.



Watch Your Mind: GiGo

We all know that if you put diesel into a petrol engine, the car won’t run.

If you cook with food gone bad, the meal will stink.

If you teach a kid bad morals, he’ll grow up to be a crook.

In other words: if you put garbage into it, what comes out is garbage.

Or in the world of programming: GiGo.

Garbage in, garbage out.

If you write a computer program and you do it badly, it won’t run.

So logical, so very clear to see.

So then, why do we keep putting garbage into our minds?

Why do we keep telling ourselves things that can only produce bad results?

If I keep telling myself ‘I suck, look at what a miserable failure I am’, I program my mind to seek confirmation of that.

Which will make me see and find it all day long.

What’s worse, it’ll program me to create situations that confirm it.

And everything goes to hell in a handbasket.

Whereas, if I keep telling myself ‘I can fix this, I’m creative and I like solving problems’, I suddenly open up a world of creative problem-solving.

What you put into your mind, is what comes out.

And the most perniciously destructive things to tell yourself?


Whether you judge others, you are 100% guaranteed to stay stuck.


Because when you judge others, you fail to do the most important thing in life:

Looking at yourself.

They do this! They are that! He is a such and so! She’s a whatever!

Mhm, you might be right.

But when you’re looking at others, you’re not looking at yourself.

And that, looking at yourself, and developing self-awareness, is the single most powerful and beneficial thing you can do for yourself.

So pay attention to the way you think about others.

Don’t feed your mind with garbage, and remember that each time you judge someone else, you’re not getting to know thyself.

If this rings true with you, and you’re ready and committed to make a change in this habit of judging…

… If you REALLY want to get to know yourself…

Then maybe we should talk.

Just reply to this email…



Why We’re All Destined to Coddiwomple Forever

I’m a stickler for archaic words, and today I bring you a new one I discovered, courtesy of one of the Cabal members who posted it in our private FB group.

And it’s not just a cute word gone out of fashion: there’s an important lesson hidden in it.

I present you:

Coddiwomple (v):

To travel purposefully to an as-yet unknown destination

Here’s why I like it so much:

Every destination is fundamentally unknown.

Sure you might decide to travel to Paris, but you don’t know in detail what Paris will be like when you get there.

It might rain, there might be traffic jams, or you could end up running into a friend from your hometown. And if you run into a stomach bug, your Paris experience will be totally different from what you had imagined.

All you can ever know for sure are the generalities.

What the actual experience of the destination is… no way to predict.

Same thing with more abstract destinations: Sure you might plan to ‘reach x annual income’ or ‘build a company and hire staff’ or ‘become lean and fit’.

But I guarantee that as soon as you reach that goal, it’ll be different than you had expected.

Which gives us the first part of the lesson: don’t be attached to the outcome.

However things turn out is the way it ought to be, and if it’s not perfect, well hey: then you get to set another goal or destination, and travel purposefully to that.

And that brings us to the second, more important lesson:

You can’t ever arrive at a final destination – not really.

Because once you reach one, you either resign to the new status quo, or you get to choose a new, next destination – and when you reach that one you get to have the same choice.

To me, this is exactly what makes life and business-building and learning myself and learning people so fascinating.

No matter how much a learn or build or create: there’s never and end to it!

I’ll never know everything there is to know!

I’ll never reach my full potential because there’s ALWAYS another level I can aspire to!

That’s one of the blessings of life: as long as you have one, growth never ends (unless you put a cap on growth, and who would want to do that?)

So my friends: coddiwomple on, and enjoy the ride.

Ohey, and if you want me to keep you company as you travel towards your as-yet unknown goal, let me know.



My Top Book Recommendations for Artists and Creatives (Plus a Hello from Count Count)

A reader wrote in asking which three books I consider must-read for artists.

Nice. Keep those questions coming folks.

So without any ado, these are my top recommendations, in no order of importance:

Motivation for creative people – How to Stay Creative While Gaining Money, Fame, and Reputation by Mark McGuinness

This book is extremely useful, because on of the things it explains is the difference between intrinsic and extrinsic motivation.

I’d never thought about those before reading it, and it really cleared up some dysfunctional views for me.

And don’t be put off by the subtitle ‘money, fame and reputation’:

This book is free of marketing-type hyperbole, there’s no greed behind Mark’s way of thinking, and in fact, the entire book hinges on the concept that we need to feed our art.

Not just by filling the creative well, but also by earning money for it.

From the Amazon page:

“Psychological research confirms what we know in our hearts: we are at our most creative when we are driven by intrinsic motivation — working for the sheer joy of it, regardless of rewards. Focusing on extrinsic motivation — such as money, fame, or other rewards — can kill your creativity”.

Highly recommended for anyone whose views on money are such that they prevent themselves from earning more of it.

Get it here:

Next up, we have Make Art Make Money – Lessons from Jim Henson on Fueling Your Creative Career by Elizabeth Hyde Stevens

Jim Henson… I love the guy.

He gave us Sesame Street, The Muppet Show, The Fraggles, The Dark Crystal, Labyrinth…

A true artist, a master of his craft, who took the art of puppetry from simple Punch&Judy shows to an artform ready to take on the 20th century.

Hilariously funny, fully dedicated to his art, he brought the world a lot of good.

I wonder how many of us didn’t learn how to count from Count Count.

And yet, Henson was an entrepreneur through and through.

To him, the money issue was never an issue: instead, he was aware that with money you can make more art, serve more people, and yes, change the world.

From kids learning counting, social skills, and the difference between in the box, on the box, under the box and outside the box (see what I did there?), to adults seeing the Muppets and realising they don’t have to take themselves so damn seriously, he’s had an impact on one generation after another, and still does.

We miss you, Jim, but your legacy lives on.

This book will transform the way you see money, and make it ultra clear that yes, with money you can indeed feed your art.


Next up, we have The Willpower Instinct: How Self-Control Works, Why It Matters, and What You Can Do to Get More of It by Kelly McGonigal

This one ranks in my list of all-time favourites (after the Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy, of course).

There’s severely sound research and psychology behind her narrative, but it never gets heavy or academic.

Instead, it uses real life examples and a very clever buildup to show us how and why willpower fails us, but also how to stop sabotaging ourselves and literally ease ourselves into becoming better at doing the things we want to do but often fail to do.

Because let’s face it: we all have things we want to do but don’t, things we wish we wouldn’t do but keep doing.

If you’ve ever told yourself ‘I think I should procrastinate today, but I think I’ll put if off until tomorrow’, then you need this book, trust me.

Get your copy here:

So there you have it.

Get your click on, pick the one you feel is most useful at this point, and dig in.



Oh, and if you don’t have time to read? Totally understand.

In that case, you can also get audiobook versions of the Henson and the Willpower book, on

She Took ONE of My Tips and Sold SIX Paintings in a Day…!

***Note: If you’ve sent me an email or bought from me in the last few days: my computer crashed which means I can’t access all my email accounts. Please bear with me until then, and I’ll get back to you ASAP, thanks.***

Had a thoroughly interesting and satisfying run-in with an artist yesterday.

She attended my art marketing masterclass last month, and told me this:

“It was brilliant, and what’s more…

“I implemented just one thing of all the advice you gave:

“To talk about my process.

“Guess what happened?

“I sold SIX paintings on the first day of the Competa Art Walk!

“Just because I started telling people about my process.

“Thank you!”

Obviously, I was well pleased:

I just LOVE implementation and the results it brings.

Not that I was surprised, mind you: this kind of advice is universal for anyone who runs any sort of creative business.

When they say “People buy the artist as well as the art”, that’s no joke.

Buyers want to know you, connect with you, share in your experience and taste your inspiration.

And the fact that it’s harder every day to get into galleries, that only makes your life easier.

Because without a gallery, there’s no middle-man running the conversation on your behalf.

Without a gallery, it’s you the artist, facing them the buyer.

Which gives you a beautiful opportunity to let people into your world, to share and to inspire them.

Whether offline at a show, or online with your mailing list, you have the privilege and opportunity to start direct, one on one conversations with people.

And if you want to sell your art, you could do worse than to grab that opportunity and have those conversations.

When you do, your buyers will thank you for it.

And, they’ll be far more likely to buy your work.

So if you want to do what this artist did, and also increase your sales, the link below is where you can get instant access to the full 2,5 hour masterclass.

I’m not going to twist your arm – it’s all up to your whether you want to learn the strategies that work for others.

But I’m rather convinced that if you watch the videos and you actually put the learnings into practice, you’ll see a massive change in your thinking, your communications, and very likely in your sales as well.

Ready to have your mind filled with tested and effective art marketing advice?

Go here, open the tap, and let the knowledge pour into your brain –>



How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love Unsubscribes

Last night there was a live performance in Lieuwke’s gallery.

A British singer/songwriter, who picks his guitar as if he’s making love – and the way he sings hits you right in the feelz.

Really impressive.

Chatting with him afterwards, he tells me that he’s got a mailing list of 10.000 people!

I pick my jaw up from the floor, and ask him if he actually sends his list any updates.

Tells me that yes he does, but every time he mails about a new concert or other news, people unsubscribe, and that it really hurts him to see that.

“You’ve got to be careful and not email too often, that’s the problem”.

So I tell him: “But what if I told you I email my list every single day, sometimes even two or three times a day…

“… and instead of unsubscribing, my readers actually love me for it?

“… that people thank me for writing each day, and that sometimes people tell me things like ‘you’re a blessing in my life’…?”

His turn to drop his jaw, hehe.

But it’s true.

You (and he) can totally get away with emailing your list frequently.

Not only that, the more often you send missives, the stronger the connection with your list will become.

And even more than that, the more often you write the more of your work you’ll sell.

Sure, people advise you to only email every once in a while.

But most of the time, the people dishing out that advice only send emails when they’re selling something.

And yeah, if the sole reason for emailing is to get buyers (or bums in seats at a show) then of course people will unsubscribe in droves.

But if you look at the emails that I send (or other people who really get how to do email marketing right), you’ll see that it’s not about selling.

Of course I’ll have something available for purchase, just like anyone who operates a business.

But the first and most important reason and purpose for these emails is to deliver something valuable to my readers.

Teaching, inspiration, motivation, a new way to look at something, or sometimes simply a bit of entertainment or instructional self-mockery…

I write so that you may benefit.

Plain and simple.

And it’s only by virtue of that purpose, that I try to earn permission to write each day and, yes, offer something for sale.

So what I want you to take away from today’s message is that so long as your mission is to improve your reader’s life in some way or other, you can totally write frequently.

Once a week, once a day, whatever.

Write so they may benefit.

And of course, there will always be people who unsubscribe.

Especially at the start, you’ll see a spike in unsubscribes.

But that will only last a few days, and then it levels off and you’ll find that unsubscribe rates actually go down.

I’ve seen that happen with  every single student I’ve had.

And those people who do leave?

Not to worry.

If they’re not interested in you or your work, or if they are upset that – God forbid – you want to sell your work, why do you want them on your list anyway?

Write for your reader’s benefit, and you’ll earn the permission to pitch.

This stuff works, you know.

And believe you me: it’s intensely fulfilling to start each day with the mission to shine a light into your reader’s day.

And, yes, you can totally do that.

And, if you don’t know how?

Why, then you get me to train you on writing emails for fun, relationships, sales, and yes: profit.

It’s a 3-month intensive training, where you commit to drafting an email every day.

Once a week I review one of those emails, line by line, and send you back instructions on how to make it better.

12 weeks, 12 reviews – and 60 pieces on your hard drive that get better as each week goes by.

By the time you graduate from Starship Mentorprise writing academy, you’ll be unstoppable.

You’ll churn out highly engaging, art-selling emails with absolute ease, before you even finish your morning coffee.

You’ll see your list clean up and leave you with only the people who really want to hear from you, just like my previous students saw happen.

You’ll receive thank yous and kudos, and yes, provided you keep your list growing, you’ll receive money for your work too.

But, a writing mentorship is only for people who are serious about training their abilities to communicate.

If you want to sell more of your work…

And you’re a stick-with-the-program kinda gal or guy…

Then go here to enlist my help –>



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