Failure, Reflect, Renew
This past week I interviewed Paul Jarvis for my upcoming book, Mastering Freelance. Paul, for those who don’t know his work, is a guy best described as a freelancing superstar – selling books, digital courses, software, and a creative class. He was just featured in the latest copy of Offscreen and it’s definitely worth the read.
My whole plan was to interview Paul on a Skype video call, record it, and feature it as an add-on for the book. I thought that I should bundle several interviews like this together into one happy package. This is a pretty common practice when selling digital books and it worked out pretty well for my first book, User Experiences that Matter. I thought it was the right choice, until…
I fucked up…
I tried the setup several times before the interview. I made sure everything worked perfectly. The interview with Paul went very well and he delivered some great insights into his idea of freelancing, pricing, and building your own products. After I finished the interview, I looked at the video and only then did I notice it… there was barely any sound from Paul! My voice was loud and clear, but Paul sounded thousands of miles away (which he literally was, but he shouldn’t SOUND like it). No matter how much I wanted to re-do it, I knew Paul was far too busy of a guy to have time for that.
Clearly, I had fucked up…
Not knowing what to do next, I did what I always do in stressful situations – walk the dog and clear my mind. While walking, I started reflecting on why I needed the video interview. I knew my original thought was to have content to package with the book, but why did I need that? Turns out, I couldn’t answer my own question. It’s what I thought was right. The Internet had told me it was the right thing to do. It’s what other successful people were doing, so I should too, right? I realized I was so focused on what I could bundle together, I had lost track of why I was writing the book. How was bundling going to help me share my experiences about freelancing and teach others how to be awesome at it?
Going even deeper, I discovered that the book wasn’t the only area where I had lost focus. Over the past year, I’ve been playing around a lot with e-mail sequences, finishing my first book, starting my second, and many other things that wasn’t client work. Don’t get me wrong, playing around is sometimes great. Amazing things come from playing around. But, as physics teaches us, every action has an equal and opposite reaction. Has this playing around helped me achieve my promise – to be the most appreciated and respected UX-Designer out there?
These countless blog posts on “How to grow your list to 1000 people in 7 days!” (the term ‘grow your email list’ results in more than 42 million blog posts…) surely won’t help me deliver on my promise. You see, I’m not in the business of serving thousands. I don’t outsource my work and I have the same amount of hours in the day as all of you. So, what I really need is a couple of clients that respect my work, have decent budgets, and dedicate to working with me long-term.
New, and old, direction
This autumn, I’m bringing focus back to the core product of my company – consulting in UX and giving my customers the best user experience possible. As a freelancer, it’s OK to change your niche and it’s just as OK to change it back again. In fact, it can help us grow and be stronger and more diverse in what we do. Think about it… Tesla and Nissan both sell cars, but the user experience of owning them are totally different. An iPhone and a Blackberry are both phones, but they have very different purposes. One isn’t necessarily better than the other – they’re just… different. I am choosing to focus on being the best UX-Designer possible.
I promise that my clients will always get an agency-quality delivery while keeping communications positive and open-minded. I will work every day to be counted among the best freelance UX Designers and I will make sure my clients experience this.
I want you to know that I am still writing the book, but much like my commitment to being the best UX-Designer, I will focus solely on creating the book, not bundles. This single-minded focus allows me to write an insanely awesome book to help freelancers achieve like never before. You will discover new ways of running your business. You will find the confidence to improve as a “one-man show”. You will learn how to give your clients the best experience possible. By the end, you will know how to create a healthier, more successful business. That is my promise to you.
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