For some reason, and I am starting to understand why, this particular week’s assignment has been difficult for me. I was on such a roll for awhile, getting excited about chirping away on the twitterator and engaging with the blogosphere. When it came time to develop a newsletter, I thought, “Hey, this will be a piece of cake. I know how to write. I should be able to crank this out in a day.” I believed it would be no big deal to do this and I would be closer to getting caught up on this blog challenge.
My plan was to crank out the newsletter on Wednesday of last week, blog about it that same day or Thursday, and then move on to the Week 7. Wednesday rolled around and instead of diving into authoring my newsletter content, I got lost in a quagmire of checking out the various providers, rolling my own layout with HTML and CSS, and figuring out which service would best deliver that HTML, and generally doing everything but writing my newsletter.
I did get the thing done and sent out and it looks nice and I am happy with it. Sigh of relief! But boy did I get bogged down doing it!
Reflecting on this process reveals what I have been reluctant to admit: I was scared. I got stuck. I had been stalling on completing this task simply because I was scared to complete it. And this is why: This was truly the first task in this crash course where I had to PUT MYSELF OUT THERE and it scared me to death.
It has been quite fun and rewarding to work on my 15-second pitch, revise my website, get active in tweeting and blogging. But these are all low-risk activities. I get to stick my toes in the water and wade in as far as I want to go but no more. But presenting ME in the form of a newsletter? This is ME? Do you care to read about ME? This is high-risk territory.
Putting out my newsletter–my very first–put me on a head-on collision with my biggest gremlin: Self-doubt. Why would anyone be interested in reading about me? Okay, now that I figured out what the hangup was, I could move on. Get over yourself! Tis’ human to have self-doubt. It’s just a newsletter, after all. But an important lesson was learned: Don’t get stuck by self-doubt. Push through it.
Another lesson I learned was that focusing on content is way more important than presentation. Yes, it is important for things to look nice, professional, and artsy. But more than slick production, people want to connect with your STORY. It is through telling and hearing stories that people connect with each other and experience community.
A third lesson I learned is that I’m cheap in ways that don’t serve me well. I wound up using FanBridge as my platform after trying ReverbNation. I spent hours comparing the services and testing whether handcrafted HTML can get mailed out correctly without getting mangled. FanBridge costs $9/month for managing a small to medium mail list. But how much time did I spend working on the presentation of the newsletter? What is that time worth? If I had it to do over again, I would have seen the wisdom in choosing a service like Band Letter. Yes it’s comparatively expensive–$99 startup fee and $60 per month–but they do everything for you: design the newsletter, manage the list, send the thing out, and analyze the responses. I think the time I save in having someone else do the heavy lifting is well worth the price. This is no time to be cheap.
So three lessons learned:
- Don’t get stuck by self-doubt.
- Focus on your story, not the presentation.
- Don’t be cheap. Your time is more valuable.