It’s easy to look at someone else’s success and feel envious about it – especially when the person seemingly shot to celebrity status nearly overnight. It’s not so easy to remember that everyone started from nothing – and that there’s a history you can look back on to find the steps you need to reach success as well. Amy Harrison tells us all about it in today’s guest post – enjoy!
When you start freelancing, you usually spend time online looking for the big names in your line of work. You become familiar with them, admire them and you’re comfortable aspiring to be just like them.
Then a few months go by and pow! A new name’s on the scene. The A-listers are talking about this person, people are recommending his site, and you wonder how he became this overnight success.
You can’t help but get a twinge of envy as the new kid on the block releases an ebook to resounding online applause, followed by a fully subscribed e-course. As you follow the fuss, the temptation to do what this person is doing feels compulsive.
You tell yourself you should be moving faster, working on releasing your own product sooner, spending more time on Twitter promoting your work – just like he did. And you add “idea for ebook and ecourse” to your to-do list, thinking that this’ll help you reach that success you wanted.
This makes you panic a bit, because you realize you might miss the success boat. You want to get moving quickly, but you’ve got so much work on your plate already. But if that guy’s doing this, then you should do this as well, right?
So you decide you’ll just work longer hours and beat yourself up a little bit more. The problem with this is that…
You’re looking at the wrong part of his success.
It’s not a bad idea to keep an eye on what the success stories are up to today, but if you’re really looking to learn something useful (and reduce your stress levels), then you need to go back in time.
If that overnight success has a website, look at his blog archives. Go right to the beginning when his posts weren’t getting any comments, and see how long and how many posts it took for him to grow his followers. It’s likely that you’ll see a long archive of posts that took time to build up. A clever tool to try is the wayback machine, which shows you what the site actually used to look like as much as a few years ago.
What you probably find is that where this new huzzah was 6 months, 12 months or a couple of years ago is where you are today. Take comfort in this. This guy isn’t superhuman. He had the same passion for his work as you do – he’s just a few steps ahead.
Study those steps. What did he do that lead him to success today?
Don’t believe all the hype
Who you believe might be the next big hit might not be a hit at all. There’s a lot of smoke and mirrors in the online world, and there are a lot of incredibly “successful” personalities with shiny avatars that don’t have the tangible success that you might be looking for. It might just be that the person you think is making it is just very good at playing the social media game, but not at making any money. So…
Put that “panic energy” to good use
Take that sudden burst of ohmigod-I-have-to-do-something and put it into your current work. Keep working hard and with passion for your current clients and keep trying to find new ones.
It’s so easy to become addicted to RSS feeds, commenting, reading blog posts and spending hours running in circles and then panicking because you’ve got nothing done. A little bit is useful to interact with your online community, but too much and not enough work on your business won’t get you the clients that put food on your table.
I’ve been hungry and desperate before. A sandwich beats a retweet every damn time.
Remember the unsexy steps the overnight successes had to take
There’s nothing gorgeous and exciting about staying inside with your computer all day while the sun is shining because you have to work. But there is something sexy about completing a project that you’re proud of and that results in a happy client who refers you to someone else while you cash his cheque at your bank.
Think back to that overnight success you envied. The person may have worked on those unsexy steps for years. He’s bought courses and put them to use. He’s honed his skills, improved his business and had more than his fair share of bumps along the way.
He know that no one owes him anything, and that the glory of being where he is today is secondary to building a sustainable, profitable business that gives value to its customers.
So keep your eye on those “overnight” successes. See what you can learn from them to make your business better.
Over to you! Any lessons you’ve learned from “overnight” success stories? Any methods you’ve used to keep calm and carry on when you feel like you’re getting left behind?
Amy Harrison runs Harrisonamy Copywriting. She loves helping excitable business owners communicate to their customers how awesome they really are. Subscribe to her blog or follow her on twitter: @littleunred for more copywriting (and sometimes irreverent) updates.