It’s the middle of summer. You’re going camping, and you have the option of two campsites. One is by a running stream. The other is by a pond.
Which do you choose?
If you’ve ever had a run-in with mosquitoes before, you pick the stream. Running water doesn’t allow algae and rotten leaves to collect and rot on the surface, which means mosquitoes don’t have anywhere to lay their eggs.
What does this have to do with writing?
If you’re doing the same things over and over again, your writing has become stagnant.
Nothing is moving. Nothing is changing. Your creativity is festering. And yeah, your business is probably starting to go a little rotten around the edges.
Here’s how you keep your stream of thought clear – and avoid a business that stinks.
Keep Things Moving
Moving is better than standing still. That means you should be constantly learning, applying new ideas, and pushing forward.
If you’ve been at the same level in your business for more than a year, you’re a still pond. You’ve had the same number of clients and a consistent level of income. You write the same number of posts on the same topics every week. You haven’t launched a new product in months – maybe you’ve never launched one at all.
Since nothing is strictly wrong with your business, you think you’re doing okay. But since you’re not challenging yourself, you’re probably getting pretty bored.
And your creativity is completely stale.
It’s time to get the river flowing again.
Challenge yourself to do one new thing in your business every day. Crack out those e-courses and ebooks you’ve bought and start writing down the tasks they suggest in your calendar.
Your business will begin growing and changing because of your efforts. And as your business changes and grows, up the challenges.
If you’ve successfully launched a product, start researching how to pull off an even bigger launch next time. If you’ve doubled your client base, start investigating whether you should take on some help to triple it.
Never stop moving forward. Standing still is how the skeeters get you.
Clear Out the Debris
After applying new strategies and ideas, you’ll find that your business has begun moving forward – but slooooowly. You’re not so much a river as a trickling stream, and you’ve probably got a lot of debris collected around the edges.
What do I mean by “debris”?
A bad accounting system. Procrastination habits. An email system that doesn’t work. A typo that’s been on your website for ages. A newsletter that you never actually send out, even though you have sign-ups and subscribers.
That’s the sort of stuff that’ll start to fester and wreak havoc on your business if you don’t watch out.
So here’s your second challenge: in addition to adding one new thing that works for you every day, start looking for one old thing that’s working against you.
These can be small things. On the first day, maybe you fix that typo. On the second day, write an email for your list. On the third day, call up some accountants in your area.
One new thing and one old thing, every day.
Any environmentalist will tell you that one of the reasons running water turns into stagnant pools is because of erosion and destruction by well-meaning campers.
Since they don’t know they’re causing harm, they don’t stop. But if they realize how important it is to help out, they’ll get engaged – and they’ll recruit others to the cause.
This equates to marketing.
If you’re looking to make your business a more engaging, creative, fast-moving place, you need people to rally to your cause.
You want to bring around and encourage people who want to work with you – or even for you.
You want to develop relationships with people who have similar ambitions, like colleagues and peers who are willing to lend a hand when you need one in exchange for your help when they need you.
How do you improve your marketing? By raising awareness.
Get on social media and talk about what you’re trying to do. Ask for help and get people’s feedback. Write to people directly and see if they’d be willing to help.
Let people know what you’re trying to do. Revamp your mission statement or philosophy or About page. Put up a notice on your home page that says what you’re all about.
Promote your products and services. Shout it from the rooftops: this is a place where creativity flows.
Smell that? That’s not the stinky whiff of stagnancy. That’s the sweet scent of awesomeness.
Got some ideas for stirring up still waters? Let’s hear ‘em in the comments.