Just Because You Don’t Like Something, Doesn’t Mean You Can Ignore It

Some of the best business advice or blogging tips you'll ever receive: don't ignore aspects of your business you don't like. I know SEO and analytics and list building are boring. That doesn't mean you get to ignore them.
Like most people, I have a long, loooong list of things I don’t like.

In my offline life, these things include:

  • self-absorbed conversationalists
  • cocktail shrimp
  • when people don’t delete a Craigslist ad after the item has sold

The list of online, business-y things that I don’t like? It’s even longer. For the longest time, I eye-rolled at:

  • Facebook (I resent that they’re constantly changing their algorithm)
  • SEO (it seems confusing and isn’t it enough to give my posts obvious titles?)
  • Pinterest (I don’t use it so surely I don’t need to worry about it ….. right?)
  • Pop-ups
  • Webinars
  • That string of emails you get when you sign up for someone’s email list
  • #amillion #hashtags #on #everything

When I’m My Best Self and I see people using these tools, I smile and internally intone “Good for them, not for me.”

But when I’m grumpy or tired or envious, I’ll roll my eyes and congratulate myself for keeping my business “pure” <- aka referral-based and not particularly strategic.

Then, like a Greek fable in which someone suffers for their hubris, I looked at my analytics and realized that 94.45% of my traffic comes from Facebook. (This is how I felt.)

Now imagine that happening again and again and again.

I hired an SEO expert and grew my pageviews by 30,000+ each month.
I installed a pop-up and doubled my sign-ups.
I started making my blog post images Pinterest-friendly and watched this post go viral.
I can only imagine what will happen if I start doing webinars.

I’m not suggesting that you force yourself to do things you hate or to utilize business practices that feel unethical or intrinsically wrong to you.

I am, however, suggesting that you maybe do a tiiiiiny bit of research or, you know, try something before you write it off completely. <- that’s mostly a note to self.

I’m gently nudging all of us to reconsider the things that give us a knee-jerk reaction of “that’s too hard” or “that’s not for me” or “I don’t need to do that.”

Of course, I’m not just talking about marketing and promotion tactics that we “don’t like.” I’m talking entire sections of our businesses. And our lives.

Just because you don’t like math, money, or numbers doesn’t mean you can ignore your budget. Or taxes.

Find a great accountant. Use Shoeboxed to track your receipts. Set your bills to auto deduct. Ask your friends how they manage their money.

Just because you don’t like self-promotion, doesn’t mean you can keep your work a complete and utter secret.

Gather testimonials, post them somewhere obvious on your site and let them do the talking for you. Write blog posts and articles that showcase your expertise without braggery. Write helpful how-tos and tutorials that show us how much you know.

Just because you don’t like exercise or vegetables or water, doesn’t mean you can avoid them forever.

Dude, just get a cute water bottle and keep it on your desk. Walk to the coffee shop that’s a mile away. Drink a smoothie once in a damn while. Moving and sleeping and eating green things help you write better and work better.

At the risk of sounding like your mom, ignoring something doesn't make it less true. Click To Tweet

So let’s make a pact. Let’s take a hard, honest look that the things we don’t like about blogging and online business. They might just be the things that could make your business amazing.

What aspects of online business do you think you hate? Have you really, actually tried them? What have you changed your mind about? 

P.S. How to ignore emails without alienating everyone!

photo by  elizabeth lies  // cc

9 Comments

Tiffany

I love you Sarah! (Or maybe it’s just my cramps making me feel grumpy and this posts speaks to me so much.)

I’ve been reading this blog since years ago (2009?) and I never really checked out your business blog. But now I’m in the digital business (I manage a magazine website) and OMG all the #basic people and SEOs and reject-image-unless-it-looks-delicious was driving me crazy. Like we’d make fun of it, saying, this mag isn’t basic but we got to do the #hashtags and keep our content searchable. And lately the numbers went up and now every day I look at the damn numbers.

But that’s why it’s great that these posts pop up on yesandyes. We’re all somehow in the internet business anyway. And it’s such a struggle between being true to yourself and creating click-baity content (which honestly, I just want to write what I write).

So thanks for this. Stay awesome Sarah! I’ll be looking forward to whatever entries you’ll be posting anyway. 🙂

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Sarah Von Bargen

Oh, thanks so much Tiffany! The line between Doing Things That You Know Will Be Popular and Doing Things You Want To Do is a really fine one, isn’t it?

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Bianca Castro

This is true : we as humans are always influenced by prejudice, but it still goes down to our maturity whether we are going to let it affect us in a negative way or its sheer opposite. Thanks for this great post!

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Katherine

Yes, you should definitely face the hard shit as a business owner because you do have to look at the numbers and do **some** marketing stuff that makes you uncomfortable…

… but there is a lot of terrible Pinterest-friendly stuff on the web right now, mostly published by people coaching the coaches to coach coaches and their ilk, who congregate on Instagram and run webinars and start Facebook groups and post formulaic stuff on Twitter, that I can’t get down with no matter what. It feels phony to me because it is phony and I hate it.

I ask myself: what would Patti Smith do? What would I tell myself in high school? You don’t have to do that shit just to fit in. The right people will get it and you’ll grow your business just fine without embracing the formula. Right now I read a lot of blogs because they’re NOT those people. I’m trying to find more.

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Sarah Von Bargen

I agree and disagree with your points, Katherine. I, too, love ‘old fashioned’ blogs written by Proper Writers. I love reading stuff that’s just been written for the fun of it, stuff that’s not part of some larger sales funnel.

That being said, I really believe that if you created something you believe in and you know can change people’s lives, you owe it to yourself, your work, and your potential clients to really, actually sell it correctly and effectively. And sometimes that means Facebook groups and webinars, etc.

You might not like them, it sounds like you find them annoying, but the fact is these are tools that help people reach a bigger audience and get their life-changing stuff into the hands and minds of more people.

I know a lot of us have a tendency to pull ye olde “I made a thing, it’s over there if you want it (foot shuffle).” We don’t want to promote too hard. We don’t want to write a real sales page or do webinars or use hashtags because it feels too try-hard and sales-y and blah blah live your bliss whatever.

Where would any of us be if our favorite authors/directors/artists had refused to self-promote? Well, we probably wouldn’t have encountered their work because it’d be in an attic or a hard drive, gathering dust.

It’s great that Patti Smith is your personal business icon and that you reference your high school self as a source of guidance. Obviously, we all have different professional icons who inspire us. We all approach business different ways. One person’s Patti Smith is another person’s Martha Stewart or Miranda July or Sheryl Sandberg.

This is, of course, simply my opinion. You’re not required to attend webinars or follow people whose sales tactics annoy you. I host the occasional webinar, I use SEO and content upgrades to grow my list so I can sell products I believe in to people who can be helped my work. I also write about personal things, political things, and anything that resonates with me. I don’t think these things are mutually exclusive.

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Katherine

I just feel there’s a difference between promoting your work in a way that feels comfortable to you and doing it based on how everyone else does things.

If you use tactics that you personally hate to promote awesome work, your resentment can lead to future bad content or burnout. There’s nothing that says a certain type of work has to be promoted in a certain way (such as with Instagram or Pinterest graphics, or with webinars or hashtags, or even SEO).

I’ve done SEO long enough to know that good content will get discovered even without being fully optimized. It just might take a bit longer.

Did you ever watch the show MST3K? The guy who started it has an awesome quote that goes: “We never say, ‘Who’s going to get this?’ We always say, ‘The right people will get this.'”

I always think, “the right people will get this,” regardless of how I promote it. So far that’s worked for me, but then again, I love SEO and webinars so: hah!

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