Have you ever worked hard on a project, only to finish it and wish you could go back and redo the whole thing?
Not because you aren’t proud of the outcome, rather because you just know you could do so much better.
This is the pain I felt after I published my latest book, The Successful Mistake. I spent 4 years working on this project, interviewing 163 successful entrepreneurs whilst I did (the marvelous Jeff Bullas, included), and although I’m oh-so proud of the book itself, I wish I had done several things differently.
This is what I wish to share with you today, because chances are you’re working on your own book, course, product, or business. You’re creating good already, but with a few tweaks here-and-there you can craft greatness!
I’m proud of The Successful Mistake, but if I could Marty McFly back in time, I would do a few things differently.
This is what I would do differently…
I interviewed 163 authority figures over an 18-month period for The Successful Mistake (including the likes of Chris Brogan, Neil Patel, Pam Slim, Jeff Bullas, Jeff Goins, Mitch Joel, and many more…), and although I talked about my experiences throughout, I wasn’t strategic about it nor consistent.
I’d share some videos on Youtube but not all of them.
I’d do the occasional guest post, but would hop from one topic to the next.
I talked about these various interviews in my weekly newsletter, but only ever scratched the surface.
The truth is, I didn’t share enough of this journey – at least not in a way that provided my audience real value.
I regret this a great deal, and although I can’t change what I did, I can share my 3 biggest lessons with you so you can fast-track your growth, knock your next project out of the park, and not make the same mistakes that I did.
Mistake 1: Thinking Small
Whether you’re writing a book or creating a product of some kind, there’s always the BIG picture and the small one.
In my case, the small picture was The Successful Mistake as a book, whereas the BIG picture was the premise of how to turn failure into success. There’s a key difference here, because the small picture inevitably tunnels your vision. Whereas the big picture opens up a world of opportunity and lets you see far beyond the trees.
For instance, with my small picture outlook, I focussed everything I did around the book. Each email, guest post, and podcast interview focussed on the book and nothing but the book.
I was stuck in a tunnel, unable to see anything other than the book in front of me. And it pains me to admit this because I left so much potential on the table.
Remember, I interviewed 163 successful people for The Successful Mistake. That’s a lot of content. That’s a lot of amazing connections. I could have produced so much, but I didn’t because I focussed only on the small picture.
Whereas with a big picture mentality I could have created:
- A weekly podcast (not about the book, but overcoming mistakes and failure in general)
- A weekly Youtube channel (why settle for audio when I could share video, too)
- A Facebook group/community (just imagine 4 years of natural Facebook growth)
- Regular guest posts about overcoming failure (on my site, and other sites as well)
The book itself never had to be the focus. It could have been a passing comment for 2-3 years, only to enter the conversation as I edged closer to launch. But with my damn tunnel vision, it’s all I ever saw.
Lucky for you and me, there are some great examples of how to do this right.
For instance, Srinivas Rao (with The Art of Being Unmistakable) and James Altucher (with Choose Yourself) both shared large chunks of their books whilst writing them (on platforms luke Facebook and Medium). However, they rarely spoke about the books themselves, simply sharing as much content as they could with an eye to build and nurture their audience.
Someone else who does this well is Kary Oberbrunner, who has created an amazing community in the lead up to his latest book’s release. Through email and an engaged Facebook group, Kary shares behind the scenes information on a daily basis. But again, it’s rarely about the book itself; it’s about the reader, and involving them in the process (exclusive content, unique opportunities, and much more).
These three gents had the bigger picture in mind at all times, and whatever it is that you’re creating (be it a book or anything else), you can too. So, which will it be… will you focus on the small picture or the BIG one?
Mistake 2: ‘Winging’ Your Content Marketing
Whenever you’re creating something (be it a book or something else), it’s important to build and grow your audience at all times. Content marketing is a great way to do this, and in my opinion there are three main pillars to content marketing success:
- Strategy (have a plan)
- Consistency (stick to this plan and show up again-and-again)
- Relevancy (stay on topic and keep reaching the right type of audience)
There’s a lot more that goes into it I know, but without these three pillars your content marketing will struggle.
As I’m sure you can appreciate by now, I failed on all three counts!
I had all of this amazing content just waiting to be created and shared, yet I never had a strategy, was anything but consistent, and kept hopping from one topic to another.
As such, my audience never grew and I didn’t gain enough traction ahead of the book’s release (at least not as much as I could and should have).
So what would I do different if I could head back in time? I’d focus on these three important pillars, of course:
I’d highlight the core topics the book would focus on and create a big list of places I could share these (blogs, news sites, podcasts, Facebook groups, Linkedin communities, Twitter hashtags).
As well as constantly updating my own platforms (Youtube Channel, Podcast, Blog, Facebook Group), I’d connect with other people’s on a daily basis. Having a list of blogs and podcasts to reach out to isn’t enough, nor is contacting them ahead of a big launch. This is an ongoing process that never ends, and had I done this consistently for 4 years, I’d have written hundreds of guest posts and done hundreds of interviews (that’s a lot of impact).
I’d rarely talk about the book, but I would make sure everything remained relevant to the book’s topic (as highlighted during my strategy). However, as well as the topics being consistent at all times, I’d ensure my calls-to-action were too (Lead Magnets, Facebook Group, etc).
This final point of relevance is something I particularly regret. Over time, I produced various lead magnets, which not only created more work for me, but diluted what I offered. Instead, I should have produced two or three core lead magnets and funneled all my content marketing into them.
Someone who implements these 3 pillars of content marketing success is Danny Iny. Not only around a new book launch, but throughout the year in general, Danny ticks all three of these boxes at all times. He’s consistent with his blogging, guest posting, and emails in the lead up to a new launch, keeping everything he produces on topic (but rarely making it about him or his book).
And when the time is right, he funnels everyone to a particular type of offer (free book, sample, etc), ensuring these three vital pillars are in cahoots with each other. This not only builds his audience, but readies them for what comes next.
The result? Guaranteed success each and every time.
So whatever you’re creating right now, building your audience remains a vital cog in the machine. You have a lot of content that you could create and share, but that doesn’t mean you should create and share it.
Strategy… consistency… relevancy… tick these three boxes and you will do just fine.
Mistake 3: Upsetting These Two Types of People
Removing my personal relationships (friends and family), I have two types of valuable relationships in my life:
- My audience
- My network (colleagues, peers, those I’ve interviewed, etc)
Building and growing both of these is vital, although I’d argue what’s more important is nurturing them.
And guess what… I did a terrible job at nurturing both of these core relationships.
As already discussed, my lack of strategy and consistency diluted what I created, and therefore damaged my relationships with my audience.
And although I did a great job at connecting with influencers and involving them in the book, I didn’t turn these connections into friendships (at least, not often enough).
It’s easy to build something, but it takes a different kind of approach to craft meaning on top of this.
Had I done what I suggested during lessons one and two, I’d not only have built a larger audience, but strengthened my relationships with them. And as I’m sure you don’t need me to tell you, having a large and loyal audience is a sure way to succeed.
But what could I have done differently to strengthen my ties with those I interviewed for the book?
It comes back to the BIG picture and realizing it wasn’t all about the book itself. What I was creating involved much more than this, and had I focussed on this big picture sooner, I’d have given more, helped more, and supported those who appear in the book far better.
Someone who does a great job at nurturing these two important relationships (not just during the period leading up to launch, but at all times) is Jeff Goins.
The way Jeff launches a new book produces a blueprint we can all take inspiration from, as he not only involves his audience and offers a great deal to them, but provides an amazing experience for his network of peers, too. As such, by the time a new book of his hits the shelves, people are yearning to help and support.
How to learn from my mistakes (Plus what to do next)
This post isn’t about a book, my friend. What we’ve just covered relates to anything you create in the future.
The point is to involve those you serve (your audience, customers, network of peers) in the journey, and to appreciate there’s a bigger picture to the journey than the ‘thing’ you’re creating.
I didn’t do this, and I’m afraid to say I failed miserably on all of the above.
But I’ve learned a great deal and I’m implementing these lessons as we speak (considering I’ve written a book about mistakes and how to overcome them, this is rather fitting, don’t you think).
Remember, you’re creating good already, but with a few tweaks here-and-there you can craft greatness!
Not only making a better end product, but by:
- Growing your list
- Creating new relationships with authority figures
- Improving these relationships and turning them into friendships
- Transforming yourself into an authority figure
- Making money
- Overall… fast tracking your success
So what can you do right now to ensure you don’t make the same mistakes that I have?
Start with the following:
- Figure out what the BIG picture is (go beyond the ‘thing’ you’re creating)
- Commit to creating a Content Marketing Machine (remember the 3 pillars: strategy, consistency & relevancy)
- Dedicate time to Nurturing your relationships (don’t just connect and build… strengthen)
Of course, if you have any questions or thoughts you would like to share, add them to the comments below. I’d love to chat with you and learn more about your own business, and how these three lessons apply to you.
Guest Author: Matthew Turner is an author & storyteller who works with entrepreneurs, founders & creative thinkers to build thriving businesses that light a fire within them. After interviewing 163 authority figures, Matthew’s unearthed how successful people overcome failure and adversity, ensuring they fulfil their potential and craft epic successes. You can too by grabbing Your Free Paperback Copy of The Successful Mistake Here.