When it comes to my brand as an artist, I am a creator. I’m a writer, editor, photographer, intermediate website builder, and ideas person.
When it comes to creating new ideas and building worlds, I am damned good at what I do. In writing about both my ongoing process and mindfulness, conscious reality creation, positivity, and the like — I have developed a level of expertise.
Over the years I have learned new skills. I know how to do the formatting for books — digital and paperback — for publishing via Amazon. I understand SEO practices and making articles compliant when it comes to posting to blogs.
But when it comes to certain other necessary aspects of the business end of my arts — I realize I am falling short.
It has occurred to me that the time has come to admit that I cannot do it all. Frankly, nobody can — with a few exceptions, of course. But recognizing and acknowledging my limitations is the first step to finding alternatives to them.
Some limitations are not to be overcome
Yes, they are a lot of things I can still learn to do. I have enough skills in marketing, for example, to do that.
But — I also have tons of evidence that I’m less good at this for my own purposes. Marketing for another business? Yeah, I’m not terrible at that. Marketing for me? Given my book sales are not where I should like them to be — I have proof this isn’t my forte.
You know what? That’s okay. Nobody can do it all. And sometimes learning the skill yourself isn’t worth the time and effort. Maybe there are better places to put that energy.
What are some of my limitations not to bother overcoming? For example — Photoshop. I know just enough Photoshop to be dangerous. I can do super-basic editing of images and creating memes. And while I built 8 of my 11 book covers via Photoshop (and using the Amazon/CreateSpace tools) — they’re mediocre at best.
I have learned how to build websites via WordPress. In addition to my 4 websites, I have also created 2 others and massively reworked 2 more. Because I enjoy working with this, I’m decent — but my skill level is intermediate at best. I am getting better — but I still have limitations to my abilities.
There are numerous tools and resources out there to help me improve these skills. But the question of return on investment (ROI) is not just about money. It applies to time and effort, too.
Investing in some limitations to overcome them is more trouble than it’s worth. The answer, instead, is to delegate.
Delegate or die
In my medieval reenactment society, I have held a Kingdom-level administrative office for 4 years. My office oversees heraldry. This includes devices (coats of arms). Names (we get to use historical sources to choose names to match our chosen time period/nationality). And voice heraldry (speaking for the crown, calling out tournament combatants, and called announcements).
I oversee all of this for an area covering most of the northeastern US and into Canada. The keyword here is ‘oversee.’
I have little understanding of the process for creating and passing a device and have proven my name-creating skills are sub-par. Voice heraldry, on the other hand, is my specialty. But honestly, I think 80% of all heraldry-related work that occurs is in names and devices.
To handle this — since I lack in the ability — I have deputies. They are amazing. Each of them is super-capable when it comes to this. So, the office runs smoothly, and I delegate where I lack.
In business, one of the greatest failings you see is a lack of delegation. How many people, attempting to advance, take on FAR more than they should? Rather than do a good job they do a so-so job because they are too overwhelmed to do their best.
When you are the whole brand, this gets more challenging. I am a business of ONE. It is extremely tempting to do it all myself.
But it’s more important to know when you can’t. And that is why I hire a professional editor for every book — and have begun hiring a cover artist for my books as well.
Now, I find that to market my books to increase sales — I can’t do it all. The time has come to delegate — and hire a person or business for marketing help.
There is no shame in being unable to do it all
If like me, you are something of a control freak — it’s challenging to let go. I prefer to do the driving — literally and figuratively.
But when you realize and acknowledge that you cannot do it all — it becomes easier to see how and where to let it go.
I have been trying for nearly 8 years to get sales of my books to the level where I can make my living off them. And yet, no matter my efforts, sales — while not non-existent — aren’t even close to the level I should like to see.
Despite all my social media connections, promotions, and other actions — my sales barely cover the cost of editing and cover art.
The answer to this is obvious. I cannot do this myself. Despite all my efforts, I am lacking in the ability to market my work and increase book sales to the degree I desire to.
What it means is that — now that I acknowledge that I cannot do it all — I need to hire someone to do it for me. This is going to be risky because it will force me to spend money I don’t have to do what needs to be done.
Talking to a marketing expert I have worked with prior, it occurs to me that I know even less about marketing my own work than I thought I did. Yet rather than be upset by that knowledge — I am relieved.
Why? Because now I can thoroughly justify spending the money to hire someone to do this for and with me. But more than that, I can relax knowing that not being able to do it all is not a weakness. It’s a part of human nature.
Nobody can do it all
Even the greatest genius businesspeople out there don’t do it all. Elon Musk is an ideas man — but SpaceX utilizes hundreds of smart people to do the bits he cannot do. The same applies to Tesla.
Bill Gates has a lot of people working for him. They handle the nitty-gritty bits that keep Microsoft doing what it does. Jeff Bezos sure as hell doesn’t run Amazon solo.
And even with the imperfections among all these people — their example stands. None of them can do it all, either.
Even the writers I most admire — Jen Sincero, Paulo Coelho, Neil Gaiman — have agents and marketing people working for and with them.
I believe in my abilities and skills as a writer. With ramping up production next year, I will need to get help to promote this work — especially so that I can focus on the art. The writing, editing, website updating — these are what I can do, and do well.
I can’t do it all — and neither can anyone else. And that’s not a bad thing.
I am super excited about where my life is going right now. Getting the help that I need with marketing can and will increase my sales — and allow me to earn my living doing what I love. That is so damned exciting I can barely contain myself.
Thank you for being part of my ongoing journey, for joining me, and for inspiring me and my craft.
Thank you for reading. I am MJ Blehart. I write about mindfulness, conscious reality creation, positivity, my creative process, and similar life lessons.
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Originally published at https://www.mjblehart.com on November 7, 2020.