Life as a Visual Storyteller—Episode 33—2nd August, 2015: Be Offensive, Not Offensive
One of my favourite podcasts right now is Eelco de Boer's. I listen to him while I run. He says good stuff.
In a recent episode, he talked about being offensive in business.
I should point out that Eelco doesn't mean you should take the French Taunter approach. I've worked with people who did. I used to be a production and editorial minion in contract publishing in London. We had an ad sales department populated almost exclusively by Alec"ABC" Baldwin stereotypes. You couldn't move for big-swinging-dick-alpha-males. How they got through the day without constantly tripping over their tallywackers was beyond me. The level of testosterone in their offices was so high, women would visit and leave with beards. When these salesmen were on the phones to clients they were offensive—in both senses of the word.
Eelco's perspective is the more benign interpretation of the word. He's talking about being proactive. Doing things that move your business forward at least 80% of the time. I like that. Thing is, as creatives, I think the very nature of our work means we spend little time doing things that are driving our business. Certainly nowhere near 80%. The creative process is time-consuming and engrossing. When we are completing assignments for our clients (ie, being reactive), we get utterly caught up in the process. There is little thought for anything else.
That can be fatal. If you're like me, you put off looking for more business until the current project is done. It's all very stop start. Feast or famine.
So how can we change that? Especially when there don't seem to be enough hours in the day to complete client work.
Here are three strategies I'm working on:
- Content marketing
You'll see that I'm doing a daily podcast/blog/cartoon/video. It's killing me, but I think it's necessary for success in the long term. Imagine if you did the same. Eventually, your online footprint would consist of thousands of pieces of content. That's a lot of promotional material working away for you when you're buried neck deep in an assignment and don't have the bandwidth to market yourself to get the next commission.
Dunno about you, but getting clients on a retainer is something of a holy grail for me. Just imagine—regular work you can count on months in advance without having to chase after it. Easier said than done. I need to investigate the possibilities more. Suggestions?
- Passive income
Passive income models hinge on creating something that can earn money for you through automated processes. Once established, passive income streams need only a small amount of tending to while you do other things. (If you're interested in passive income, here's a good place to start: Smart Passive Income).
None of these are easily achieved. You need to do a lot of work upfront to get these things in place. A real chicken and egg situation. You need to work double shifts: your regular creative work AND building business structures that promote a consistent flow of work and revenue. Yikes.
But, and to Eelco's point, I know for myself that I must be proactive in this respect. I must be offensive. In the good way.
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