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25 Hours, 25 Months

When I released the beta version of the Serial Marketers paid subscription last week, I was thrilled that it took just 25 hours to run out of the first batch of discount codes for the initial users.

Selling out 25 codes in 25 hours is good business. I don’t even know what I was expecting, but it happened faster than I thought it would. Not a bad living, right?

Then it hit me: I started the community 25 months earlier, almost to the day. It took 25 months to sell those 25 subscriptions. That’s a terrible away to make a living.

I could go further back. I started managing communities with 360i in 2007 after we launched the social media practice in Q4 2006. I started blogging in 2004. I launched my first digital media property at Binghamton University in 1999 when I grew frustrated with the internal politics of the mainstream media (the campus newspaper).

It’s reminiscent of a story, not surprisingly dubbed “apocryphal” by Quote Investigator, about how middle-aged Picasso was asked to draw a sketch and charged $10,000 (or more) for those 30 seconds of work because it took him his whole life to be able to make such art.

However fictional the story is, the lesson’s one that is practically of biblical significance for those working in marketing and advertising. Freelancers in particular and creatives of all stripes are routinely asked to devalue their work. Often, they feel they can’t charge what their time and output is actually worth.

It’s so easy to say, “Stand up for yourself!” but that doesn’t always work when trying to win over or retain a client so you can put food on the table. I’ve sold my own work and time short, so I’ll spare you any platitudes about having confidence, courage, and chutzpah. With those 3 C’s, I can give a TED talk and pretend that solving all this just takes 20 minutes and some PowerPoint design skills. Instead of the talk, I’ll get right to the empathy. We can down tequila during a Zoom and see who can make each other cry first (I will win).

What happened in those 25 hours was a rush. As one of the more self-deprecating people you’ll come across, I’ll take a moment to say I’m proud of the accomplishment. There’s a lot more work to do, but yes, something’s working, and it feels so damn good to get to this point especially because of how hard it is to get here.

It’s also a good time to join the community or invite others, as members who choose to subscribe will get a special rate, though all members can continue to be part ot the group for free and connect with such wonderful, talented pros.

With pride, there’s humility. I know it’s not the work of 25 hours. It’s the work of 25 months, and that work builds on more than 25 years of being involved with online communities. The first one I joined was a bulletin board service (BBS) in the mid-1990s.

With pride comes the vision that this work can lead to something so much bigger than it is today. With humility comes the appreciation for how hard it will be to achieve that vision. Only now do I appreciate how closely related those feelings are and how beautifully they play off each other.

It took me long enough.

What about you? Does it resonate? How does it relate to what you’re working on? And, if you’ll indulge me, what are you making of yourself?

David

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