Sunday, February 15, 2009

30-Day Marketing Challenge: What's stopping you?

I read this week about a writer I really respect who's stopped querying story ideas because the market is so unreliable right now. She has a point. You don't know who's taking queries and who's not these days. Ducking and weaving and putting that much effort into a query when you see markets drying up can get... exhausting. Really exhausting.

As a result, I've noticed a little slide in my querying: I'm sticking to markets that I know still have money--but they don't pay very well.

Then I look at my income goals and my projections and my throat tightens up a little bit. Serenity it's not.

So before we end this marketing challenge, I want to issue a specific challenge: Send the big queries to the higher paying markets anyway. No matter what. Let them tell you that they aren't taking queries, or that they're sticking to their regular stable of writers. Don't make the decision for them by not sending the query.

I want to share both my self-limiting underlying belief and a means to cope with it today.

The belief: Take my toys and go.
When I was in high school, I was always in classes with teachers that had my straight-A sister the year before. My mother was a teacher in the school district, and my father used to work in the district office, and ocassionally took us to the giant room where wall-size computers calculated our standardized tests. You could say I felt a lot of pressure to perform.

How did I cope? I didn't try. I got Cs and Bs, and convinced myself that I was too cool for this class, or that I didn't care about the subject matter. I was sure that when I loved it, I would try.

The truth was that I was so hyper-competitive that if I didn't think I would be the best--beat my sister, get the best score in the class--I wouldn't try. I'd take my toys and go home.

Now it's 20 years later and I find myself struggling with marketing. It's not that I think my ideas are poor. But are they good enough? It's not that I question my ability to find markets. It's that I can't be guaranteed of a sale. My impulse is not to try.

A version of this is always one of the first complaints I hear from new freelancers. They can't stomach the idea of spending all this time on a query without a guarantee of a sale. So they don't try. I'm trying, but I'm sticking to what seems like a sure bet.

In this economy the pool of sure bets are getting smaller and smaller. And that approach no longer works.

A tool for coping: A daily decision.
This week, it's really been working for me to set aside that fear by asking myself every day:

Do I want to be in this business today?

If I do, then I need to act like I want to be in this business. And acting like I want to be in this business means acting like I want to stay in this business.

That means querying the scary markets, the unsure things: Sending the feature query instead of the front-of-the-book piece. Sending a cold pitch and calling new-to-me markets. It means taking risks with no promise of rewards.

It means not giving up without a fight.

So I urge you to fight: Whatever your resistance, whatever your fear, don't let it hold you back. Decide to be in the fight today.

Photo by lanulop.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Thank you so much. This was exactly what I needed to hear right now. Keep it comin'!

Kim Rahilly
PR Consultant
Freelance Writer