Growth Is a Game: How I’m Overcoming My Inhibitions To Build in Public
All the advice you could ever want on how to build your audience or business is already out there. It then seems simply that's left to do is do it — join the growth game, and play it.
However, I've come to realize that I do myself no favors by overcomplicating things and overthinking them.
This post covers what I'm doing to change that, as well as the key mindset shifts in changing how I think about building in public.
1. MY TWIN DISCIPLINES
Used to think I was a designer + developer: because that who I was, but I've come to realize that mastery of those two skillsets alone are not good enough for success.
Thinking about why I placed such trust in being a designer and developer, Justine Musk's answer on Quora about the subject comes to mind. I guess it apparently left quite a deep impression on me. I probably didn't think deeply enough about it back when I first read it.
Also, I studied the Singapore University of Technology and Design. I chose it partially for its twin emphasis on design and engineering, which I thought would give me superpowers.
Guess I got that much wrong about what it takes to build a successful business!
a. Instead, build and sell
After years of stagnant performance, I came across @naval's tweets on how to build wealth:
Learn to sell. Learn to build. If you can do both, you will be unstoppable.
Embrace accountability, and take business risks under your own name. Society will reward you with responsibility, equity, and leverage.
The most accountable people have singular, public, and risky brands: Oprah, Trump, Kanye, Elon.
Fortunes require leverage. Business leverage comes from capital, people, and products with no marginal cost of replication (code and media).
Code and media are permissionless leverage. They're the leverage behind the newly rich. You can create software and media that works for you while you sleep.
If you can't code, write books and blogs, record videos and podcasts.
I realized that I have the build part down, but not so much on the sell side.
Anyone who's aim is to build a business should have the twin capability engines of being able sell and build.
b. Content Creator
So instead, I'll now learn from how others before me have done it, and now set out to create content online in addition to being an app maker.
I used to think that being on Twitter and needing to constantly blog was a waste of time.
But as of now, I'm joining the network and committing to putting myself out there. This is the first step I'm taking to fix my marketing deficiency.
2. CHANGES I'M MAKING
To help myself be at peace with whether creating content was in alignment with my greater goals, I sat down to think about what my mission in life is, and came up with this:
Help humanity live up to its potential.
This is something I've felt strongly about for a long time. Being able to put it into words has been a personal revelation.
Still, I can't change the whole world. I can only do it in my own small way, for a small group of people. This is what I've narrowed it down to for how I'm going to pursue my mission:
Build no-code productivity tools for content creators.
This allows me convince myself that it quite nicely ties things together in terms of how I'm focusing my time and effort.
And as a note about this section to you, the reader, as much as myself:
I'll be making changes, but I'm still me, and only me. Remember also, that I'm not purely a content creator — my work and uniqueness should still stem from the fact that I can code and create. I should not pivot 180 degrees and become purely a content creator.
Alright, here are the changes I'm making stemming from my findings above:
a. Pursuing traction channels
For the next 6 months at least, and again taking my own advice, I'll be applying these principles in my content marketing journey:
- Be online and share online.
- Build in public.
- Teach what you know.
And, these are the things I'll be doing to execute on them:
- Posting threads to Twitter.
- Building in public on Twitter.
- Blogging about my journey and learning.
I've also updated my Twitter profile and blog's about page to reflect these — follow me on both to get updates on my journey! :)
b. Focusing my efforts
Armed with clarity about my mission, other things about my approach to work fell into place for me.
For one, I'm sunsetting all my projects except for Presenting and WriteMapper. These are my only two apps that both:
- Are aligned with my mission.
- And have been validated by generating real sales.
This is a plainly obvious decision to make on hindsight, but only so after I sat down to spend time thinking about it.
I eventually want to be able to name and claim my category too, as Justin Welsh has done, but I haven't quite managed to pinpoint it.
It's not critical at this point; I can afford to let my story and thoughts develop further before I try pursuing this exercise again.
3. KEY LEARNINGS
Here's what I've learnt from this exercise.
Hopefully these will help you reduce or remove the inhibitions towards getting starting sharing online, like they did for me.
a. Show up now
A lot of what you do now isn’t going to be immediately viral or obvious. It could pay off into the future too:
- Gary V's spoken about YouTube shorts’ ability to trend 3 years after posting it.
- Justin Welsh talks a lot about about re-purposing, re-using and re-publishing content.
- Ahrefs has blogged about the benefits of updating and republishing content.
Go ahead and make those investments now to share what you know, and even if they don't make you a millionaire right away, they can help lay the foundation for your future work.
b. Don't hold back
This one was a mindset shift for me.
Not holding back on what to share adheres with the principle and advice to share everything you know.
Personally, reasons that held me back from posting included:
- The chicken and egg problem of starting with no audience.
- Getting onto the content train and having to write more frequently.
- Liking peace and inbox zero / no notifications a little too much.
- Second-guessing the outcome without even trying first.
- Being afraid of the reception to my work.
- Coming from modest means / frugal mindset meant I was unwilling to spend on required tools - email marketing, blog hosting, etc.
- Thought that if you needed to personally market it it wasn't a 'real' business - it should sell itself in order to hold value.
Well damn right, you don't have a business without marketing! Things have to start somewhere.
I now know that all of the above reasons aren't valid.
I used to feel the need to build and have a product first before writing or saying anything, to "capture" the interest I would generate. That's the wrong approach - capture emails instead, and build an audience. Then build in front of and launch to that audience.
It's okay that you don't know everything or aren't perfect. Stop where you are, draw a line in the sand and share what you know as of this moment, to the best of your knowledge.
c. Don't overthink it
Just write and be yourself.
There's nothing to it, you're just writing about what you're doing.
Writing short sentences helps.
There's no need to over-complicate it!
4. IN CLOSING
a. Sharing more frequently
I'll be blogging and tweeting more frequently; or at least more so than publishing once per year (lol) in the past.
b. Moving forward
I'll be focusing on improving WriteMapper and Presenting, as well as sharing the process of doing so.
Until next time!