At TCA we’re all working creatives. We know expectations are high, time is short, and the workload feels unbearable. Which is why we’re always looking for realistic, high impact ways to simplify the business side of a creative career. This series shows you how we develop our classes—from identifying the problem, tackling the mindset issues that hold us back, testing, simplifying, and finally delivering a course.
Step 1 – Identify the Problem & Dig Into Mindset
Since at the time we’re writing this post (December 2021) we’re a brand-new company, we saw an excellent opportunity to experiment with one of the things writers dread the most: marketing.
At our first meeting to discuss Social Media Strategy for The Creative’s Apprentice, I felt my shoulders drop, my energy slow, and the weight of supposed to and should settle over me. To make things even worse, as I talked to my business partners, Imari and Natasha, the enthusiasm fell from their voices and overwhelm brimmed in their eyes at the words, analytics and engagement marketing. Social media was already feeling gross, and we hadn’t even started yet.
I asked, “The way everyone else is doing this sounds horrible, complicated, unsustainable, time-consuming, and exhausting. Right?”
“None of us wants to do it the way everyone says we’re supposed to. And people like us are our target audience, right?”
“Okay. Our job to simplify business so they have the brain space to create, so it’s our job to find a new way to market through social media. A simpler way. Then we try it out. And once we know its sustainable, we teach them how to do it.”
And that’s where this experiment begins.
I’ve been a serious-face writer for twelve years now. Because I am a serious-face writer I feel I must participate in social media. To be 1,000% transparent. If I were not a writer, I would not have any social media. At all. Social media is horrible for an introvert who is not inclined to talk about herself and is easily addicted to video game and other technological distractions. But, because the publishing industry insists that being a monetarily successful writer requires an active social media presence, I dutifully have set up accounts in several places. Over the past decade I have attempted to maintain a solid social media presence. And over the past decade I have failed.
I have failed because I see social media as an energy draining obligation.
There are three types of work.
- Energy draining | Work that leaves us depleted and tired after we do it. If you’re doing something because you are supposed to it probably falls into this category. For a lot of creatives that’s social media.
- Energy neutral | Work that leaves us with the same level of energy as when we started. For me that’s balancing financial accounts.
- Energy giving | Work that gives us more energy when the task is finished than when we started. For me that’s writing.
The problem with energy draining work is that it relies on our willpower to consistently follow through. We have a finite amount of willpower, and if we’re expending our willpower on other tasks, we don’t have enough to complete the tasks we should do. Which means we’re inconsistent in our work habits or avoid the work altogether.
I assumed other writers felt the same way but fired off a social media poll to confirm.
When you do the work of publicity/marketing/SM for the purpose of promoting yourself at the end of the work session how do you feel?Twitter Poll Question
72% of respondents on Twitter answered Tired/Energetic Drain.
With that confirmation I knew we had identified part of the social media marketing problem that people weren’t talking about:
How do we take an energy draining job and turn it into an energy neutral or energy giving one?
TCA is founded by writers, so I started with an energy giving job I know well—writing. Writing has taught us character motivation drives a story. Marketing is just an expanded way of telling a story. So, the question is, as a character in this story, what is driving me to get TCA’s story out there? What’s my motivation for sitting down at a computer, doing what feels like an undesirable task on a consistent basis? What is strong enough to compel me to do something against my introvert nature?
The obvious first answers: Find clients, gain followers, get likes, the industry says we’re supposed to, blah, blah, woof, woof. All of those are externally driven robot answers that we’ve been force fed. None of that has anything to do with me as a person, or TCA as a company.
For a motivation to really inspire me to get to work it must be personal—it has to mean something to me down to my core. What was important enough to me that I was willing to get out of my comfort zone?
What I teach empowers clients to live their dreams. But, if no one knows what I’m doing, I am depriving them of resources to reach their full potential.
I want to have a profound impact on people who are brave enough to work toward their dreams. I chewed on all that a while and realized my motivation all boiled down to one thing: DREAM ENABLING
For me, dream enabling is something to get excited about. Dream enabling is compelling enough to step outside my comfort zone. Dream enabling gives me energy.
If I reframed marketing as dream enabling would it help me do the work I’d previously avoided?
At our next meeting, I put Natasha and Imari through this same line of questioning.
What reason is compelling enough to get you out of your comfort zone and engage in an undesirable task on a regular basis?
After some digging, we learned:
Imari’s reason: REPRESENTATION MATTERS
Natasha’s reason: CONNECTION
I decided for the next four months, every time we were working on marketing, we were going to start by stating and strongly connecting to our individual WHYs.
My goal was to start rewiring our brains from the energy draining neuro pathways we associated with marketing, and build some new positive feeling, higher energy level pathways to navigate the new way of social media engagement.
If you struggle with social media consistency, overwhelm, and energy drain, stop and think about why you’re using social media. Don’t stop at the surface motivation. Keep digging until you find the motivation that is tied to your core values.
What motivates you to share your work with the world? We’d love to know, please share in the comments below!
By Jessica Conoley
Stay tuned for Part 2 of the series to see how we continue to address: mindset issues, additional energy draining components we tackle, and the types of goals we choose to experiment with over the next few months.
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