Can you recognise your own entrepreneurial voice clear in your mind or does the external noise make things fuzzy and overwhelming? To increase productivity, here is our take on why it is crucial to keep drowning out the outside world, only to invite it inside in a controlled way, when you are as ready for it as is possible.
Taking Back Control
If you are wondering how to increase productivity, one certain way to move forward is by actively regulating when, where, how and why you consciously seek opportunities for input. You may find yourself less productive when wandering aimlessly through social media and noticing that 30-60 minutes simply disappeared.
Was it worth it? What did you learn? How did it make you feel?
Notice how I structured those questions. One way or the other they all imply loss of control.
There is absolutely nothing wrong with social media as long as they serve you. When you actively choose where you show up, when that happens, when you disengage, what you plan to seek out, and what you hope to possibly learn or experience, you are the one running the show.
On the other hand, when you show up habitually, to “kill time”, for “only a quick break” or “just to check those favourite accounts”, there is no real plan, no active decision made, and your voice, how you communicate with yourself and with others, risks getting diluted over time due to absorbing influences from unplanned sources.
At what cost? Whose message are you singing to your own audience when external input affects unconsciously everything you do? What will your edge be, your uniqueness, if your vision is unsharp and mission unfollowed?
As professor Barbara E. Kahn said in “Introduction to Marketing” by Wharton on Coursera, paraphrased “When you’re lukewarm, you serve nobody”. You have to make a choice, then go with it.
When you seek out social media and give it permission to affect you in a way that for example places you in a negative light compared to others, you allow yourself to lose. Key to productivity, however, is staying on course in the direction of your own vision. Your journey is your own and you will never need the same bells and whistles someone next to you applies, but you must find your own secret recipe.
Now we will examine another timesuck, the freebie.
The Freebie Illusion
Are you a freebie chaser? Back in the day I was. How many of them did I actually put to good use? Around 5 %. Was it worth the time investment spent? An eyeroll peppered with a deep sigh.
There is nothing wrong with freebie resources if you have a) a clear need for them and b) an even clearer implementation plan. What will you do with this freebie once it sits on your own device? How will you mentally measure a success rate of some kind? What key performance indicator, KPI, will you use?
Okay, that last bit admittedly sounds like massively going overboard, but the question remains: will you use said freebie at all? Or was it your ego whispering “Ooh, quick fix!” in yet another attempt at making you think a small piece of the puzzle could solve a large part of your problem?
“The freebie illusion is a state of mind that combines imposter syndrome, false hope and quick fixes in a productivity-killing cocktail.”
The solution is to stick to the plan and dig deeper to patch lacking knowledge. If the freebie illusion is your particular issue, chances are there is no plan. This is normal among small-business owners without formal business skills and often happens when we try to learn them on Pinterest or Instagram. A problem with this tactic is that many, who teach there, are in that same boat: small-business owners without formal business skills. At some point you need more than scratching the surface and such content is hard to find.
Solution: spend the scrolling and research time on valuable resources rather than nonsense, and your firm will thank you. A quick introduction to many topics is offered by Investopedia, if you’re short on time. And to toot my own horn fabulously, I would prefer for you to stay here instead!
Wishful thinking in content marketing is a typical symptom of not sticking to a plan, but hoping for miracles through random testing, numerous dabbles and changes of our course.
Many of us have already engaged with the concept “Consistency is key”, which is absolutely correct. We also know that in order to create success, content should be of high quality. So we show up consistently on Instagram with our fabulous stuff, yet there is no considerable engagement let alone conversion into sales.
Few will ever read your novella-length captions, I’m afraid. Just as I have no interest in plowing through 20 long texts the few times I open Instagram, my guess is you feel the same. Why spend so much time on that content then?
It is not the wrong content, but the wrong platform (for the average user). People show up on Instagram for feel-good, fast-paced content. Wishful thinking is hoping that people would choose your profile instead of the competition’s, if you just put in enough work, but that is a problem right there.
“Minimum input, maximum output” from machines in physics comes to mind. What is your bare-minimum effort in a place like Instagram? And what is better to bring home to your blog, and paid content in particular, for longevity of value, both search engines and customers?
We don’t have to give endless amounts of our expertise away for free. See the freebie illusion above for another angle of this wishful-thinking thingy.
How Valuable Is Free Content?
When thinking about freebies, I returned to value once again. All those free PDF worksheets were made with care and yet they sit in something resembling a graveyard. The mere thought of numerous brand identities mixed with differing levels of expertise has me exhausted.
When paying for a product, however, I approach it with much more on the line, so there is a high level of interest in finding a good match. While utterly cheesy, “quality over quantity” rings true once again. (It can be a bit exhausting to notice how unnecessary it is to reinvent the wheel, and yet sometimes it takes a while for a message to truly sink in.)
For that same reason, you will not see an ocean of freebies on this website, but droplets of condensed value and then the rest shall remain in the paid sphere. Frankly, as a parallel entrepreneur with three personal websites to maintain in addition to this one, I have neither time to nor interest in creating numerous resources to add to your downloads folder.
Free has very little value if you ask me. Maybe you were taught to offer lots of information for free? There is nothing inherently wrong with a few teaser products, but make sure they reflect the quality of your paid products.
Earlier this year I downloaded a “strategic guide” for free since it was advertised as a fantastic resource. Sadly it was nothing but a waste of time. There is unfortunately a correlation between the self-proclaimed “a ton of value” and empty fluff, and I should have known to keep my expectations low.
The sentence a bit higher up should therefore expand to “There is nothing inherently wrong with a few teaser products, but make sure they reflect the quality of your paid products, and actually lead straight into them by building interest in preparation for a sale.” It is a good idea to think of a paid product first, kind of reverse engineer a need from it, and create a seamlessly working small product for free and/or a modest sum to act as teaser for the bigger one.
Underpromising and overdelivering on a select few products for free is far better than creating dozens of worksheets, which offer the same stuff everyone else has already created.
In terms of productivity, this means more quality work of the meaningful type, and less, possibly ex tempore, busy work, which is very good news in the long run.
I would appreciate a great deal your input on this particular point in the comments below, because while it can be controversial enough to trigger some readers, to my immense joy I’m also sensing a shift in how small-business owners are approaching content marketing. It seems like some are going more minimalist with both freebies and paid offerings!
Further reading: What Is Success and How Do You Measure It?
Photo credit: Stil.