STOP DISTRIBUTING CONTENT

LinkedIn is awful, and for some reason I’m still on there, and they keep sending me emails. One today asked this, and I’ll answer it here, and not distribute it anywhere, thank you very much.

Q. How can you distribute content effectively across multiple platforms?

A. Don’t. Stop distributing content. Go for a walk instead. Talk to your neighbor. Read a fucking book. Take a picture. Knit a scarf. Learn karate. Ride a bike.

Everyone is distributing content. It’s all the same. We’re all taught to believe that if we just write enough “content,” and distribute it enough places, then we’ll be like Justin Beiber and someone will discover us and hire us and we’ll be rich.

I’m not saying it never happens, but come on – if everyone is doing this thing, and obviously it’s very easy to “distribute our content,” then why aren’t more people killing it?

If we’re all so smart, and all our friends are smart, then why aren’t we all over employed and speaking at big conferences?

There are only so many podcasts to appear on, to share our leading-edge thinking.

Do we think the people in positions to hire us are hanging out on LinkedIn all day? That they have the time to read everyone’s 500+ word posts about productivity and how AI will help the music industry?

Get outta here.

CPM HELL

Thanks Itay Dreyfus for bringing this to my attention:

“The internet makes me blind to the scale of things. If I write a blog post that is read by 2000 people that feels like crickets (these days). But last night we had 200 people come to the opening of a new exhibition at the gallery. It was overwhelming.”

Henrik Karlsson

Let’s not forget why 2,000 people on the internet don’t feel like a lot: cost per thousand ad impressions (Cost per mile [CPM]—mille is Latin for thousand).

As that CPM rate went down, more ads went on the page. Two display ads. Three. A pop-under.

It wasn’t that 2,000 people reading your work was bad. The CPM rate was “bad,” so something that got read by 20,000 people was considered “good.” After all, we have to keep the lights on!

The problem was, as more corporate interests crept in, we didn’t just need to keep the lights on. We had to pay the salaries of lots of dude bros in sports jackets and the electric bill for keeping 27 LED TVs running day and night in the office.

USE YOUR VOICE

Thinking about a section of Austin Kleon’s “Show Your Work,” which is “You Can’t Fing Your Voice is You Don’t Uset it.”

We find it by using it. We find out photographic style by taking more photos, we find out guitar style by playing guitar, we find out our artist style by… by being ourselves and being present in the world, sharing what we do.

The chapter talks about the movie writer Roger Ebert, and how he lost his voice so he then found his voice through writing online.

For any lone artist in a small town, whos prime disadvantage is that they live in a small town, well, here was a movie critic who lost his voice – such a loss! Such a “disadvantage.”

Write, post, talk, discuss. Do it online, do it often, seek out your weirdos, and make sure you have a website where all your weirdness resides (like this blog).

MAYBE YOU DON’T NEED MORE SUBSCRIBERS

What if the people receiving your emails forwarded it to friends? What if they copied the text from it and posted it on social media? What if your words traveled from the inbox into Facebook group chats and meeting rooms?

When was the last time you sent a newsletter that got 10 replies?

If none of those things happened — not even close— maybe getting more subscribers isn’t the answer.

From social media to Substack Notes, people post in the void. No comments, likes, or engagement of any kind.

Hey, sometimes things don’t work!

Your “questions to everyone” or “open invites” have good intentions, but after a dozen or so attempts, it’s time to reassess your strategy.

Stop asking “everyone” and start actually asking people.

➡️ Reply to someone else’s post. Go into the comments section of another post, or another Tweet, and reply there. Be the person that people love seeing in the comments section by being insightful, gracious, and / or funny.

➡️ Email someone directly in your network. If you’re hoping those people even see your original post and take the time to reply is a long shot. Instead, reach out and ask them. Say you’re looking for their insight for an upcoming post.

➡️ Invite someone before inviting everyone. If you’re just getting started in hosting video hangouts, live sessions, or workshops, consider inviting a few people you know directly. See if you can get three people to commit before announcing to “everyone.”

➡️ Go beyond “just sharing” and make it a big deal. Make a whole post about it. Go deeper than typing “THIS,” and explain why this piece resonated. Don’t just “curate your feed,” rolling the dice hoping that 10% of your audience might see it. Take the time to write about something (or make a video or an audio snippet), and share it directly with your audience in an upcoming newsletter (where 99% of your subscribers will see it in their inbox).

Soda section from a grocery store in Palmerton, PA

“Yeah, but Seth, I just want to post my thing and go do other things,” you might say.

Well, you see the results that “just posting” gets you.

Also, how can talking to your fans, audience, and readers be a waste of time?

Setting a timer for 15 minutes and communicating with real people five days a week will probably get you more results than the hour you spend making one Reel for 153 “people” to see (and which will never be seen again after 12 hours).

Does it scale? Fuck scale, do the work.

The strategy of “just posting” ain’t working, and it’s not going to get any easier to reach your fans in that way as we roll into the second half of 2024.

A garage in Fleetwood, PA

RETHINK YOUR MARKETING BUDGET

This is just one person’s account, of course, but I think we’re going to see more of this.

In March 2024, I ran an experiment in my Portuguese-written blog: I stopped distributing its content on social media (Mastodon, mostly) and messaging apps (Telegram and WhatsApp channels). It has a small following in a few places — ~2,9k on Telegram, ~450 on WhatsApp and three Mastodon profiles (two with autopost) that sums ~5k followers.

The result was that… little has changed.

From Almost no one cares if your site is not on social media

Yes, if you do the bare minimum and “just” post when you have new stuff, new things, new projects – sure – some people may find your stuff. The alorithimic gods may show your post to 5% of your followers, and you’ll get two clicks, and that’s nice.

If you want more, though, you gotta give more. Show up, engage, maybe “create content” just for the platform by way of vertical videos and other multimedia assets.

Then you’ll get seen by 8% of your followers, and maybe get four clicks. Great.

Or – what if we made the best fucking work we possibly can, and instead of spending 100% of our “marketing budget” on posting to social media, what if we spent 80% of our time reaching out to our contacts? Emailing galleries, venues, agents, etc.? Spending time in places where we want to spend more time in, surrounded by people we want to be around?

What if that was our marketing budget? Time and care in the creative world that’s already around us.

The “creator economy” existed long before tech-bros came along and tried to squeeze it for every last 3.5% surcharge.

We’ll be here long after they move onto the next market to destroy.

THIS IS HOW WE DO IT

There’s a certain way to do TikTok, sure.

You can half-ass Instagram, and get 12 likes. I get it.

Or you can just do what YOU wanna do, and not worry about being a 12 person marketing and social media team.

Not everything is social media.

BENCH MAKES TAX TIME A BREEZE

Look, we’ve all got out strenghts and weaknesses.

Since I’ve been self-employed since 2006 (18 freaking years), I’ve never really been great with the whole taxes thing. All the expense tracking. The forms. Writing off all those tiny bank fees – those all add up!

I used to do everything in Freshbooks, and it was a MESS. Always. So much manual input. Or some months I’d just not clean up my books. I was a wreck.

Three years ago or so I bit the bullet and signed up for Bench. They connect to your bank accounts and do your bookkeeping. They used to shuffle your books over to another company for taxes, but now they process and file your taxes, too.

They also have this messaging feature through their website, too. So you can ask all sorts of questions about books, expenses, and taxes, and it’s CHILL because it’s just CHAT. With REAL PEOPLE.

If needed, you can book a call with them to talk about your books and taxes. It’s all included, and I LOVE IT.

Now… halfway through last year, I “streamlined” my operations and cut a bunch of expenses, so I thought, eh, I can manage my books myself!

Then it was the xmas holiday, and I still needed to process my books from November, and then December was lurking, too! I dreaded even getting started.

So I came crawling back (had great phone conversations with their team), and got re-started.

Here’s the thing – they have a “CATCH UP SERVICE.”

So they got connected back to my bank account, I uploaded some bank statements, and then they got my books settled from June-December.

It wasn’t free, of course, but it was WORTH IT.

Everything was updated, all books current. It was great.

Now, I just reviewed my taxes today, April 2nd, and we’re like, good to go. All done. In years past I’d get to filing my taxes in like, AUGUST or something, cuz I just kept pushing it off. Hell, I didn’t even file my 2019 taxes because of the whole COVID thing. Yeah… tax stuff is my weakness!

If that sounds similar to how you treat tax time, I highly recommend them. Check out Bench (affiliate link) and see if they might be a fit for you.

IMPACT

Had a wonderful conversation with a dear friend today, about life and work. And the big thing that came up was about impact.

That while money and the bank account are usually the biggest factors in our work, sometimes it’s impact that counts for most. And to somehow be in a position to seek opportunities for impact, that’s the dream. The bills are paid, there’s food in the fridge, and that opens up space for impact, and I gotta say, it sure feels nice.