A friend of mine posted this article a while ago that I have not been able to get out of my head. It talks about our need to monetize joy. Do you make something cool? Sell it. Have a talent? Get other people to pay you to teach them. First you’ll need a social media account. Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and probably more platforms that I’m not cool enough to use yet. You’ll need a name, an LLC, a marketing plan, and a hash tag. You’ll need a target market that is super niche so you’ll get traction but also broad enough that you don’t limit future opportunities. You’ll need to build a personal brand that is unique but relatable, stands outs, but not too far, is curated but “natural” etc etc. Do you hate your talent yet? Good. You’re doing it right.
I have a talent. I’m a good communicator. I am a good public speaker, but I’m also really good at taking things that sound complex and difficult and making them easy to understand. I’m good at teaching other people to do that to. I’m good at finding the humor in stressful situations and putting people at ease that it’s not “just them.” I think good communication is the single most important skill for anyone to have to be successful at anything. It’s fun. I’m passionate about it, AND I ENJOY IT.
So I’ve been having this internal struggle for the past several years. It’s really more of a cycle.
Step 1. Think, “hey, I’m good at this, I should DO SOMETHING MORE with it.”
Step 2. Alright, well what is that “thing?” I already do a fair amount of local public speaking coaching and national speaking engagements, so do I need MORE? Maybe I just keep doing what I’m doing.
Step 3. No, you need A BRAND. Think bigger. Think more streamlined. When people say “what do you do?” be able to answer them in 1 sentence not 15.
Step 4. So who is my target audience. I’m a mom, is it moms? I like making people laugh. Am I trying to be a comedian/humor blogger? I work with businesses, is my target business owners? Do I want to focus on content? Or services? I can’t be all things, pick one
Step 5. This is super stressful. Remember that article? Don’t monetize your joy? Right. This is why. Cause you’re taking something you love and stressing about it. So stop
Step 6. Be at peace with my decision for a little bit
Step 7. Hear someone, read something, see something that triggers Step 1. Process begins anew.
Then, a few weeks ago, I had this epiphany. I either need to let this idea go completing or actually do something with it because it’s going to drive me insane. I always get stuck at the “who is my audience” part because all the blogs and fancy people who write books about growing an audience say you have to be super duper specific. Is your market moms? Then you better wear messy buns and yoga pants in every post and film yourself making “spontaneous” rants in the front seat of your car, and talk about potty training and wine and coffee. But then the “professionals” won’t hear you. Because, you know, you’re either a parent or a professional worker type, you’re never both. People who wear slacks to work don’t wanna hear how your kid melted down in Target the other day. People who want to hire you to teach them how to speak, don’t want to hear your stupid parody songs you write.
Who I Am
And then it hit me. The reason I’m having such a hard time finding out who my audience is, is that I don’t know who I am. There are all these pieces of me that coexist nicely until I try to put them in a nicely labeled box. Like I’m walking this long hallway of labeled doors and I just end up walking forever rather than pick which door to walk through.
This is who I am. I am an educator. I am a mom. I am a wife. I am a musician. I am a content creator. I am a public speaker. I am a runner. Sometimes I wear suits. Sometimes I wear yoga pants. Either way I never know which shoes to wear with them because I wear a size 11 and look like I’m either going fishing or headed to the circus. That’s me. Not the “carefully curated version of me so you’ll follow me on Instagram.” It’s just me. It’s ok to be a parent who also works. It’s ok to be a professional who is also silly sometimes. It’s ok to try things, mess up, change your mind as you go, and throw something on the wall to see what sticks.
This blog, and my corresponding social media accounts are a way for me to connect with people, share my thoughts, help others learn to communicate, rant about things I feel are important. Build a community. Even if it is super small. Even if it is breaking the “rules” because I’m not trying to build a community around rules. I’m trying to build a community around joy. That’s what the original article points out. You only stifle your joy when you “do something with it” if you fall prey to all the rules and pressures of it.
Because I’m pretty sure there are others out there like me. Who are passionate about good communication. Who feel pressured to “exploit” their talents. Who feel pulled with competing identities. Other people who rather than picking a door in the hallway would rather just blow up the hallway and build a park instead.
So if you’ve made it to the bottom, and you’re not a blood relative who just felt obligated, that’s great. I heart you. Stay tuned for more.