I chose to write a post every day, then to write a book, then to start a podcast because 1) enough people told me they found my voice unique and valuable, 2) I felt I had things worth saying, and 3) I would grow from the experience.
Outside of launching Leadership Step by Step, I haven’t tried to market that much. That launch wasn’t that big, though it took me to #1 in one category and #2 in another, which was satisfying. I put some effort into launching Leadership and the Environment, which got it to #38 on iTunes and podcast of the day.
The blog has held steady with the same number of hits per day. The podcast has been growing steadily, with a bit more downloads than my experienced podcast hosting friends tell me to experience in the first year. Book sales hold steady too, slightly diminishing, but my author rank holds steady and university professors use it to teach leadership across the country.
Sometimes a reader or listener will tell me my material change his or her life. I hear that regularly in my in-person courses and even my online courses, where students take the whole course without seeing me.
Why I hold back on promoting my material
I hold back from marketing and promoting for a couple reasons. The big one is that it takes lots of time, money, attention, and energy. Another is that it takes a lot of low-level work of a type I don’t enjoy. If I’m open with myself, I’m nervous of fame. If I don’t try, I can’t fail, though I’ve recovered from enough failure that I’m not too worried about that problem. I put myself out there in many ways.
I also like to think that steadily keeping at my work will steadily increase my readers and listeners even without focused promotion. I think that most people don’t stick with it long enough or run out of material or motivation, and give up. I think that if I stick to it enough, maintaining consistency and quality, then more and more people will join.
But it’s been a while and I haven’t seen growth accelerate, though the podcast hasn’t been around a year yet.
Oh yeah, on the podcast, I’ve consciously chosen a strategy I consider important and effective—to focus my efforts on getting leaders with lots of followers since I think they are closer to leverage points of the system, can influence more people, and will personally benefit themselves by leading in an area of global demand.
People offer support
Every now and then, someone will say, “I love what you do. Your work should reach more people. I want to help you grow.”
While some people don’t mean it and others’ skills and resources aren’t relevant for my needs, some can and do help. Mostly they help for a limited project, which grows something and they move on.
Less often someone offers money or other resources to grow more than just what they can do. So far I haven’t accepted. My main point in writing this post is to explore if I should get more resources, grow my audience, and try to take things to a new level.
On the down side, there isn’t much money in lowering material consumption, but there probably is in delivering the life improvements people who take my courses get. They don’t just improve little things. They improve more than I see in nearly any other way. Let me mention a few results students get from the exercises in my books and courses:
- One spoke at Harvard, another at TEDx
- Backing from Harvard, Google CEO Eric Schmidt, and Facebook founder Mark Zuckerburg
- One became a Dalai Lama fellow
- Coverage in the Washington Post, Wall Street Journal, TechCrunch, Forbes, Inc., and more
- Acceptance to top graduate schools
- Tears of gratitude from people they lead
- Many wins of contests and grants
- Job offers, promotions, raises, and more responsibility
- Most of all, social and emotional skills, experiences, and beliefs to keep succeeding
I could go on. I don’t just assign them to read and write papers or analyze case studies. They actively solve problems they care about involving people they care about. They find in little things they care about great life-level passions.
Should I accept investment to grow?
An increasing fraction of my guests include world-class people, a trend I expect to continue without extra funds because I think the podcast offers value for guests. It gives them a chance to show leadership in an area of global demand. Maybe I should let its growth play out before trying to boost it.
Some administrative help could free my time and focus for what I’m more skilled and effective at. People I know skilled and experienced in marketing and promotion tell me I have more than enough to work with to make my work big.
What do you think?
I’m curious to hear from readers. Do you think I should promote and grow my material? Should I let things grow organically? Should I focus more on my blog, podcast, book, courses, or other?
Feel free to post below or email me if you have an opinion. Tomorrow I’ll explore if I should change what subject matters I focus on. In particular, people tell me I have unique and valuable things to say on many controversial topics that commenters cover.
Anyway, just some thoughts for now.
I’m also curious if you have thoughts along these lines I didn’t think to ask about or cover. Did I leave anything out I should think about?
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