January 2, 2019
The Sequence of Creative Success Step Three: Pitch
with Orna Ross
This month we’ll knuckle down into the pitch process; types of pitches, examples of great pitches, and how to develop your own personal pitch.
The Sequence of Creative Success Step Three: Pitch
Can you describe what you do in one sentence that enthuses you and inspires others?
At the end of this workshop, you will be able tell people what you do in a way that inspires them to take the action you want.
Hello and good evening from London. Hello to you wherever you are and wherever you are you are now in 2019 so welcome to the new year. I’m Orna Ross. This is our monthly workshop, Go Creative in Business Workshop and we’re a bit later than usual because we didn’t have it just before Christmas figuring that people wouldn’t be in the right mode for this kind of thing and hopefully you are now in the right mode for this kind of thing and so, hi Wendy, welcome, good to see you here, folks. You are most, most welcome. So what is this kind of thing that I am talking about during these workshops.
For those of you who haven’t been here before, the Go Creative in Business Workshops are a monthly event and we have been working through Sequence of Success for Creative Entrepreneurs and what I mean by creative entrepreneurs is slightly different too, you know, what some other people mean, so to define that before we get going, I’m really talking in these workshops to anybody who is interested in making a living from and doing what they love to do. So, yes, we have the type of people that are normally defined as creatives, that would be writers, that’s those because of ALLi and associated activities but also artists, performers, entertainers of all kinds.
But in addition to that, what we’ve realized in these digital days is that we have more in common with other creatives, other people who are running passion-powered businesses. So we’re also talking here to people like activists, counsellors, coaches, anyone who wants to balance passion and profit equally, who wants to make enough money to keep on doing what they love doing but who will never be the kind of person who will put the money first, but who absolutely can be the kind of person who makes a living from it. So that is what it’s all about.
Just a quick few words about me while we gather the room together and my name, as I said, is Orna Ross, and I am a word person more than anything else. I have worked with words since my twenties and that’s a long time ago. I love stories, I love poetry, I love words in every way and I mostly love creative connection that happens through the written word and that of course has exploded in our digital days and I really love that as well and I am the Director of the Alliance of Independent Authors and also be the Creativist Club which is a group of people who are interested in going creative in every aspect of their lives and in most of my work, outside my own writing, I’m offering both practical and creative imaginative tools and techniques to other writers and to other creatives and I love to do that, almost as much or just as much as I love to write and luckily I don’t have to decide between them.
So, hi Finbar, he’s ready to be motivated, wonderful, we have people coming in from all over and some familiar faces, hi Kim and Susan and Sharon and Gina and some new faces too, great to see you, Cherry, calling from Devon, lovely, Suzanne, hi, calling in from Germany, Julie, wonderful and Wendy, of course, from bonny Scotland.
So thanks so much for being here on New Year’s Day. It’s a great day, I think, to have a workshop, myself and we’re all, if you’re anything like me, I’m festivitied out, I don’t see another thing to eat or drink for some time, so I would much rather get the brain moving. So a little bit then about what we’re going to be looking at tonight. So, yeah, there are 2 pages, yeah, I’d better go through that for people who haven’t been here before, just so you’re aware.
These workshops are based on a book series that I’m doing called Go Creative in Business which everyone’s been waiting for for a very long time which is coming together now. I really hoped to have the planner ready for the 1st of January but Jane and I didn’t make it but we’re back, we both got back on it now today and we should have that very soon, that’s going to be a quarterly planner which will put all the theory that we’re talking about and exploring here in the workshops into planner that you can just use day by day to move yourself along in all 3 areas.
So all through these workshops, again for those of you haven’t been here before, we talk about our creative work wearing three different hats. So we are makers, we make the products and the projects that we sell to other people but we are also managers. We are the creative directors of our own creative business and sometimes we kind of fall into that a bit by default. We don’t fully understand what it means and one of the core things that these workshops do is help us to understand what that means and help us foster the kind of mindset that allows us to make success of that. The third hat that we wear is the maximizer’s hat, the entrepreneur, the person who grows the business.
So one part of us is working in the business making the stuff, one part of us is working on the business, managing the processes and one part of us is growing the business and putting both at the level of profit so that we are increasing the amount of revenue and money that’s going through the business but also at the level of passion so that we keep on doing what we love and that that doesn’t get sacrificed along the way and if that all sounds too good to be true, it’s not. It’s very doable once we know how to do it. So if you want to attend a future workshop, all you ever have to do is go to my Facebook author page, at OrnaRoss, sorry Facebook.com/page/ornarossauthor.
OK, so is everybody is settling in and everybody can hear me OK? I’m hoping everything is alright. We’ve got Sherry in from L.A. Hi, Sherry. It must be kind of early over there. So thank you also for being here. Let’s just have a quick kind of overview of what we have been doing over a number of workshops. So back in, I think it was October, or maybe September, we began this whole exploration of the Sequence of Creative Success.
So there is a sequence which is optimal. You don’t have to do things this way and very often it doesn’t happen this way, as I said, we can fall into this by default. We can come in through our passion, we can come in because we’re made redundant, we can come in because we can’t stand our job a moment longer. Or we can come in because we’re fulfilling a long held dream but we don’t actually know how to succeed at that.
We find our way through trial and error. That’s how I found my own way but being a sort of a systemizer, I like processes on things and over time and over watching myself but also in my position as Director of the Alliance of Independent Authors watching many, many authors and in the work that I do as creative facilitator, watching creatives in other walks of life, came to realize that there is a very identifiable sequence that if you take it and if you actually go in these steps, life gets a lot easier, you understand what you’re doing and you’ve taken the steps in the right order and so that’s what we’ve been looking at over the course of these workshops.
Last time out we looked at preparation and so the first, just to briefly say, the first three, and these are all available on my workshop page on my website and will be always, they’re freely there for anyone to take a look, first stage is passion, finding out, you know, the exact dimension of what you love and we talk about passion and mission and where they come together and that point of connection that we call massion, and that is a very useful place, that’s the place you set up your stall and that was what that workshop was about.
Last time out then, we were looking at preparation. Preparation’s really key, it’s a key step and it’s one we often overlook because we just kind of take it a bit for granted but if you actually set it up and to for success, it’s about setting up things like your time, your space, your money, preparing the people around you who love you and getting the right tools and techniques in place, understanding your own pacing and your own process and how that unfolds.
We’re all very different, that’s what makes creative business so slippery in a way, so hard to get our handle on because it really is, each business is as unique as the business owner, and while we have a whole lot of things we don’t have in common, there are certain things that we do. So it’s a process of kind of understanding what is shared to everybody, what is unique to us and what only we can decide and your own process getting that, it’s a constant sort of upgrading and understanding of yourself within business that allows you to have your optimal process and money and resources and the other things that need to be prepared.
A lot of the time creatives don’t prepare adequately financially for business, especially digital business, it’s so cheap to get in compared to any other business that it can actually do us a disservice. We don’t prepare enough. We don’t realize that we have to invest, not just time but also money if we want to get started quickly enough and keep a sustainable business going. So that was the last workshop, that’s what we talked about last week, or sorry, last month, last year as it is now.
So yeah, this time, in this session ahead of us, what we’re going to be talking about is pitching. So what is pitching? First of all, let’s talk, we’ll be talking about that because if I say pitch, sometimes people think of, you know, pitching a book to a publisher or, you know, pitching a business to an investor. Yes, they are forms of pitches, but pitching goes much, much more widely than that. Pitching is, you know, that idea of pitching yourself as success, it’s about positioning yourself, it’s about setting yourself up and it’s about communication. So we talk about how we’re always pitching, whether we realize it or not and how you get what you pitch for a lot of the time and my old aunt used to have a saying in Ireland, “Oh, she gets what she puts in for.”
It was how she used to describe a certain person who was good at managing life, really, so yeah, very often, of course, sometimes we get things as gifts out of the blue and we don’t know where they came from, and of course, everything is a blessing in itself and all is given to us at lots of levels but there is also a very clear level at which, you know, you pitch, what you pitch for is what you get, so we will spend most of this workshop looking at what I call the personal pitch and that’s about you, who you are, what your business is, how that links into, you know, what you’re expecting people to do and that’s really what the pitch is. It’s what explains you and what you’re about to somebody else in a way that inspires them to take the action that you want them to take.
So that’s what we’re going to be talking about. We will look at your current personal pitch, how you describe yourself and your business right now and then we’ll break down what a great pitch looks like. We look at a few of them and then we’ll power up your pitch a bit, if it’s not already perfect and you should leave at the end of the workshop with either a pitch written that you’re happy with, or the tools you need to go away and do that.
So, any questions before I get started? Anybody having any difficulties? Susan Jennings is having trouble getting through, is everybody else hearing me OK? Anybody else got any issues? Suzanne says everything is fine for her and I think, not a seeing anybody else having trouble so hopefully everything is OK and that it is Susan’s own settings here. Let me know if you’re having trouble, anybody, or if you have any questions, please do use the comment box to make comments, to ask questions, to share your own experience. It’s great to hear from each other
Thank you, Sherry and thank you, N.T. OK, everything seems fine. Alright then, shall we get going? And so first of all, yes, that sort of thorny question, what is a pitch. And so I spoke very briefly there about the concept of mission and passion and what those two things are in your life and I think we have spoken a lot about this.
We spoke about passion and mission two workshops ago in great detail and I am not going to rehash today but I am going to say that if you are meeting somebody and they are asking you “What you do for a living?” or if you’re going on Amazon to describe your product, whatever it is you’re selling there, or if you are writing something for your website, you need to clearly understand your passion, your mission, where they meet and how they meet the audience that you are trying to reach and that’s what we are going to look at today. So keep that concept of mission and passion there in the background. It is core to what we’re about today.
But pitch is not just about that. That is almost like the foundation on which your various kinds of pitches are built. So you’ve also got you pitching your products, so what you’re making at the moment or what you’ve made before, your service, why you make these particular things, why you’re producing this stuff and not something else, why this is the activity that you’re engaged in and not something else will link back to that massion. That mashup of passion and mission, very much so and you need to find the link between what you do, what you’re making, what your service is and the mission and passion that is there lying underneath it.
Similarly you’ll find yourself in situations where you’re pitching your business, the whole enterprise and in order to do that and to explain what you do to people you need to understand your uniqueness, your unique expertise, your unique experience and how those two things are connected, how one arises from the other, it changes as we go through life but it should be reasonably stable for a long time so in order for that to happen you need to go deep. The deeper you go, the more specific and the more unique the experiences you touch into will be and they more they will speak to your micro-niche, your people that you’re pulling in around you. I’ll talk more about micro-niche in a little while.
You may well also find yourself pitching your partnerships, so people who, you know, that you link it with because, first of all, in cross-promotions where they’re promoting you and you’re promoting them but also just by being aligned with then, again, you need to understand where you guys connect and how they connect to your mission and passion if you are not to get swamped in the partnership. So if you’re going to hold your own and it’s go to be a partnership of equals then you need to understand what you’re doing and why and what you’re bringing and how you’re solving the other person’s pain point.
I think a very good example of where we don’t do this would be traditional publishing, where because of the situation that was set up around publishing for so many centuries, really, particularly in the 20th century, you have a situation where authors who are providing the manuscripts to publishers were in a very unequal position because they had lost sight of, because of the setup and the way in which books reached readers, we had lost sight of values we were bringing and how we, what our mission, our passion, what we wanted to happen in the mix and you know, the publisher’s place in the partnership became excessive and there was a power imbalance which is now being recalibrated thanks to self-publishing, so just by being in partnership with somebody in a way you’re pitching them forward so you need to have your explanation, your understanding, your sentence or two that explains why you work together, how you work together, how you are important to each other, how each feeds each other’s mission, passion, etc.
And books, yes, is another thing all creative entrepreneurs should have a book now. The book has become the new business card, sorry folks. A book needs to be pitched, it needs, again, you need to have that understanding of how it connects to you, to your business but also you need to understand, you know, how those materials all go all around the book are going to be pitched, so everything from the book description to any submission you’ll be making to booksellers, or publishers, agents, anybody like that and so on, articles, and the paper, white papers, there’s a million ways that you can pitch yourself. As I said, we’re always pitching if we think about it and either a good pitch or a bad pitch.
Very often creatives are really bad at pitching and we need to think about how we can improve our skills in that area. Very often I’ll see somebody explaining what they do to somebody and it’s head down, and they’re talking through the top of their head instead of, clearly they are almost embarrassed to discuss what they do and how they do it and why they do it and all of that and it takes some practice to get the point where your pitch is clear. It’s easier digitally because a lot of this is written, we can go back and revise it but you also need to be able to present it verbally when you have to.
OK, any questions there? Any comments? Susan’s in, she just refreshed, OK, everybody’s good and everybody’s here. Alright, then, so let me know if any questions as we go. So there it is, writ large, you are always pitching and I really urge you to think about that, you’re either pitching well or you’re pitching poorly but you’re always pitching. You’re always giving somebody an impression of what you do, how you do it, why you do it and you may as well do it well because doing it badly doesn’t feel any better than doing it well, on the contrary.
So here are some of the ways, here on the right-hand side, some of the ways in which you pitch, you pitch to potential clients, you pitch when you have a conversation with somebody about what you do, you pitch on your website, any brochure you might have, if you’re working with a co-publisher, you pitch on social media all the time whether you realize it or not.
You pitch to influencers who can take you to a wide group of people, at a party where you talk about what you do or fail to talk about what you do, you’re pitching or not pitching and if you give a speech, so for a very long time I actually used to get up and give speeches without at the beginning telling people what I did and how I did it and so I am talking here from a position of somebody who does not find it easy to pitch myself, who has never found it easy but who has learned some ways of thinking about it along the way and some tools that make it easier for us creative types to get over ourselves and to do our business justice and to give our books and our products and our projects the support that we owe them.
So the most important aspect of your pitch and this is why passion and preparation came first, you know, without understanding the passion and the mission, without understanding how that linked in to your own personal resources, your own personal process, your own family and friends and people around you, your own understanding of your own micro-niche, all of that has to come first before you can actually construct a pitch and I would go so far as to say if you don’t have a decent pitch, if you don’t know what, you know, if you haven’t answered to your own satisfaction these big foundational questions about your passion, your mission, what fires you, why, your story, how it links into it and all of that, I would say “Stop, don’t make any more product until you’ve worked this out.” Because you could be making stuff that is tangential and not actually the best thing to be making for your micro-niche or alternatively, you could be shaping it up wrongly.
So if you have no idea what you’re doing or why you’re doing it, you will get immense reward from stepping back and working this out a bit so, yeah, I’d like to take us through a bit of a process around that in a few moments. I’d like to ask you how well do you feel you answer the question “What do you do?” and I’d like you to write down your current personal pitch, OK.
So, in these workshops, for those of you who haven’t attended them before, we use a method called free-writing. We just, for a moment or two, we just take time out to write our answers to some of the questions that arise in the workshop. Free-writing is writing fast, raw, exact and easy. So, for today, all you need to think, you can look it up on OrnaRoss.com/freewriting but for today all you need to know is that in a few moments I’m going to turn on the timer and you’re going to write for just 2 minutes around this topic and then when the timer goes off you’re going to stop writing.
OK, so any questions about that before we actually get down to it? Everybody OK? Anybody been free writing over Christmas? OK, so we don’t need a long time on this, we’re only going to take two minutes, so pen and paper, handwritten stuff is what we’re going for here so if you don’t have pen and paper, please go and get it but hopefully you do and you have it by your side there.
So the question, again, is you regularly come across people who ask you what you do, how well do you feel you answer the question is the first thing. So, I would like you then to write down your personal pitch, what you tend to say to people, or having listened to me so far with this what you would say to people for your personal pitch. OK? Are we ready? Let’s do it. Just 2 minutes on how well do you answer the question “What do you do?” and then to write down your personal pitch.
OK, so take a look at that personal pitch of yours and award yourself marks out of 10, so just your own subjective analysis how good do you think that pitch is. So let’s have a look at what a good pitch does and what it looks like.
Hi Rachel! Oh my goodness, you’re awake early, great to have you here, all the way from Australia tomorrow, tomorrow morning, that’s marvellous, yeah, that’s great. So we have just been looking at a personal pitch, the pitch that tells people what we do, who we are, what we’re about, what our passion is, what our mission is, what our business is, you know, our personal foundational pitch and we’ve just written it down.
So if you could quickly write down yours, Rachel, what do you say when people ask you what you do. And then award yourself marks out of 10 for this, in other words, how satisfied are you that this pitch hits the mark, that it does what you want it to do so we’re looking now at a great pitch, you know, what are the qualities, if you like, of a good pitch and this is, whether you are pitching yourself, your business, your book, your product or anything, these essentially are the qualities of a good pitch, regardless of what it is you’re actually trying to pitch, an idea, anything.
So first of all, a great pitch will actually, you judge it by the response, so you don’t judge it so much by the content of it’s accurate, it describes what I do, it tells people who I am, it has to do that, absolutely, but it has to do much more, much, much more than that. If it’s long, rambling, boring, mumbling, you know, it’s no good. It doesn’t matter how accurate it is and how great what you do is, that’s rarely enough, it needs to be pitched in a way and that’s why it’s called pitch, it needs to needs to be pitched in a way that actually gets an activated response from the other person.
A great pitch will inspire somebody to an action not just a kind of a response, a nothing response, perfectly pleasant response, that’s not enough, you’re looking for somebody to react strongly to and even somebody reacting strongly against what you’re saying and not understanding what you’re saying, questioning what you’re saying, that sort of engagement is better than someone goes “Oh yeah and here’s what I do,” you know, quickly kind of passes along and doesn’t take any notice of what you’re saying, be that online, they see what you say you’re about and they just go “Yawn, I’ve seen that a hundred thousand times before” or “Yawn, that doesn’t work for me.”
You’re looking to get the people that you want to reach, and that’s really key, we’ll come to that in a few moments, the people that you want to reach you want to inspire them to some sort of action and so your pitch should have that embedded in it. At the end of it they should know what you want them to do. A pitch gathers influence as it goes, so if it’s good and it hits the mark, then other people will tell other people about it. They will actually say, “Oh I heard of this person who does blah blah blah.” So if your pitch is good and you’re pitching to the right people, that happens spontaneously and so your pitch gathers pace as it goes. It becomes easier and easier to understand as more and more people get it and more people and more people start talking and thinking about it.
Do stop me if there’s any parts of this you don’t understand. So, Regina gave herself 3 out of 10. OK, that gives us loads of room for improvement, brilliant. Yeah, it would be interesting to hear some of your marks out 10, any of you who would like to share them that would be great.
So I want to give you a couple of really inspiring pitches people that I came across 3 people, 2 business people and one activist, very different kinds of people, one’s very famous, Martin Luther King, I have a dream that one day this nation will rise up and live out the true meaning of its creed, that all men, for we treat women as well as men, please stop doing that, that all people are created equal. And so this pitch, this dream, saturated everything that Dr. King did and it gathered all sorts of people around who are able to buy into this pitch, into this notion, into this idea.
Anita Roddick, who some of you will remember as the founder of The Body Shop, one of the first people to take a very ethical line in industry at all here in the U.K. but particularly in the cosmetics industry which is notorious for being profit motivated above ethical concerns and Anita Roddick said “Nobody could be more in favour of the global outlook than I am. Internationalism means we can see into the dark corners of the world and hold companies to account when they are devastating forests or employing children as bonded labour. Globalization is the complete opposite.” So she was working and founding her business at the time a globalization was rising in a real way and she, as an internationalist, was very concerned about that and based on this pitch, this personal pitch of hers, her business and her products and the way the business presented itself, this seeped through everything that they did.
And today’s boy favourite of this decade, Elon Musk has done amazing things as an entrepreneur and this is just one of his projects to solve the problem of soul destroying traffic roads must go 3D. This either means flying cars or tunnels, unlike flying cars tunnels are weatherproof, out of sight and they won’t fall on your head. So he wants to get people, get cities, get government thinking of tunnels for traffic to take traffic off the roads and this is his pitch for that and this is something that you’re either going to buy into or you’re not, we’ll talk about that in a minute when it comes to micro-niche but it’s very, very clear what he wants and what he’s asking people to do.
Now, these are different. The first two are very, very much personal pitches, the third one is a particular project pitch. So first of all, award each of these marks out of 10. I think we will know without even looking at what other people give to these pitches that it will vary. Different people will be attracted to different pitches and that’s really important to realize.
I’m looking at Sherri here who gave herself a one in terms of her pitch. She hasn’t yet, she’s a writer, I’m taking it, she hasn’t published as yet, and doesn’t have a website up and running yet so you are at the ideal time, Sherri, to actually be thinking about all this stuff, right at the start if you get this in place it’s much, much easier. So, one is a great place to start, the only way is up.
OK, so let’s just take a look. In terms of redoing your pitch, which we’re going to redo in another little while. It’s important, you will see that each of the two personal pitches were used the I word and you don’t need to do that in your pitch, particularly if you’re pitching a product or pitching something else that isn’t, you know, yourself. An activist does pitch themselves in that way and Roddick in her quote was speaking as a business leader and then, you know, you often put yourself out there online but we’re pitching all the time in a way that you don’t need to do that but we do need to include our story.
We do need to understand our own values, we do need to understand where what we are doing came from so, you know, what happened in our lives that made us, take Sherri, decide “I’m going to be a writer. I’m going to have a website. I’m going to, you know, what is it then, just going back from here OK, I really want to write, I have certain kinds of books I want to write and what are they, why that type of book and then you work your way back, what happened in my life that made me want to to do this particular thing?
Where did it come from? What values, we worked and spoke a lot about values again in previous workshop. It is your values that give you value to other people. You need to bring them into your pitch, you need to understand your own values and how they arise from that passion and mission that we’ve been talking about. When you find out what you value, you begin to attract other people who value the same thing and that’s what you’re trying to do. You’re not trying to appeal to everybody. You’re trying to really go core, go small, go tiny and speak from a deep place and that deep depth communicates itself to the other people who are also attracted to that very same place. So your pitch should inspire you, first of all, you should be inspired by your own pitch.
So in order to power your pitch up a bit, you need to think about that why, where it came from, why you do want to do, why this particular way, why this particular strand of all the things you could do and then having chosen the thing that you do want to do, all the very many ways you could do it, why this one, what is your why? Why do you want to do this thing you love and I really want to stress about the, I’m going to take this question actually first of all, yeah. Near the end, give us your own pitch for your fiction, or has a different pitch for your business. OK, good. I will.
Let’s go back to talk about powering up the pitch, what is your why and I want to stress the importance of the micro-niche, I want to stress the importance of going narrow. So very often we think that the way to get more interest in what we do is to kind of generalize ourselves and if that was ever true and I think it was in the days of department stores and general trade selling, it is not true in the digital space. The value – the big value of digital is that it allows for personalization. People are getting served their own particular thing, in their own particular way, so you can see how we are all being stratified by advertisers, by Netflix, by whomever and we may deplore that, OK, fine, as consumers but as creatives and as creative businesses we have to also do the same thing. It’s a very understandable thing to do as a business.
And the wonderful thing about creative business is you can have different strands, express different parts of yourself where your pitch is quite different for each of them as your products can differentiate so you get a generalization across the board but first, to begin, go really, really narrow. You’ll always be able to move out from there but if you begin up here at the general level you’re going to lose a lot of people, you’re going to spend too much money trying to attract them, you’re going to dilute your focus, you’re going to mess up algorithms if you’re involved with algorithms and so on.
There are just a thousand reasons not to generalize these days so thinking about your micro-niche, the people that you really want to serve and they’re likely to be people who are like you, who are connected to that why that we were talking about who are connected to that what happened in your life, what you want to put out there is what they need.
What you want to put out there solves a problem for them, solves, eases their pain in some way, that could be through entertainment, that could be through information, it could be through inspiration, it could be through whatever, it doesn’t matter but understanding the point here is that you need to understand the connection, what they need and want, what’s not going well for them in their lives and what you bring in and how that feeds it, that needs to go into your pitch. And understanding that people you enjoy are going to enjoy you.
So think about their problem, think about their pains and think about how you solve them and then prove to yourself, you know, get your pitch, get it out there and see, does it attract people, do they have this pain point, is what you’re providing in your pitch first of all, in your products and in your projects solving that problem for them. So it’s about, first of all, working out what the problem is, working out where their pain point is, then thinking about how you solve it, then thinking having prove to yourself that you solved it, how you prove to other people.
At that point, things get easier. But at first, it’s a bit like wading through treacle and particularly if it doesn’t come easy to you, for some of you as I’m talking, there’ll be light bulbs going off and you’ll already be seeing “Oh I did that. I’ve done that already I just haven’t put it together in quite the right away or whatever.” For others, you’re in this big fog and I don’t know, kind of, I’ve only the vaguest idea of what I’m doing, I don’t really understand what I’m doing so you feel your way around this, you try something, it’s always the way with creative stuff, it’s trial and error, experiment and explore so it’s fine to fail, what’s not fine is to not try try and so fear of failure stopping you from doing stuff, fear of failure is always a problem, failure itself is never a problem, it’s a learn, it’s a learner, you learn from it so do something, put something together and put it out there and see what sorts of responses you’re getting.
Once you begin to prove to yourself and to other people that you are solving somebody’s pain, you are solving somebody’s problem then as they begin to talk about it, people begin to see that you’re doing it on social media and you just practice that more and more and the pitch gets refined then as you go along. Any questions about any of that so far? “Solving a problem is more a nonfiction aspect than fiction,” says Regina. Regina’s a writer and she’s talking about books and “No” is the answer to that.
People read fiction for to have some alleviation of something, it’s just harder to work out sometimes with fiction what it is and sometimes it’s not hard at all. In some genres very clear, for example, somebody who repeatedly reads romance, and nothing else, you know and it’s that kind of reader that devours a romance 3 or 4 or 5 books a week it’s quite clear what, you know, the problem, the pain and it might not, these words might not sound right and they sound maybe a bit excessive and you might want to describe it in a different way but if you look behind what’s going on there’s entertainment, absolutely and there is storytelling and all that kind of thing but behind there is, there is a need that is being assuaged and if you understand that as a romance writer, then you’ve got a much better handle on what your readers are looking for from you.
So, I’m talking about romance because it’s kind of clear there but it’s a huge genre, obviously, and if we’re going all the way, you know, there’s a complete difference between the need, the pain point, the problem, whatever you want to call it that somebody who’s reading, you know, Fifty Shades at the end of the romance/erotica end of the romance genre and and somebody who’s reading cozy romance or sweet romance.
So if you understand that, it just makes it much easier for you to begin to put your documentation together. Does that make sense, Regina? Tell me if it doesn’t. It’s making sense for Sherri, which great, and Regina’s happy. OK, Rachel has a question “If you write in different genres and categories, is it best to simply create separate pitches for each and then try to integrate them into one for the overall personal pitch that you provide as your author profile, for example?
“Yes” is the short answer to that and you know, for those of us who do write across a lot of genre and I am one of those people, I have for different things that I’m kind of doing across my books and across my writing and working life, so yeah, you do need to first of all work work out the need, the pain, the problem that you’re solving in each one of those and I just talk about my own case because it does kind of go across a lot and with ALLi it’s for self-publishing authors and you know, and the books are very much guides to different aspects of self-publishing and we particular, in our guide books, try to go where other people have not gone, things like rights and self publishing services, all sorts of things that feed into our work as an association with these Go Creative books it’s for creative entrepreneurs of all kinds who are in digital business and it’s about mindset shifts really that are necessary to run a digital business effectively, set up a sustainable long term business.
Poetry then is something completely different, and that is about inspirational poetry, generally. Then there are time slip historical fiction novels which, again, are something different and the need of the people who read the novels, novels are all about, they nearly all have a theme of freedom and liberation. And the poetry, similarly is about liberation through the spirit and the creative entrepreneurs stuff and the self-publishing stuff again there is a theme of freedom, liberation and independence. These are the things that cross those, you know, that’s what I am about, people being independent, as independent as it is possible to be in this world, by recognizing that we are very much interconnected but freedom, independence and you know, standing on one’s own two feet, these are things that appear in all of our work, so it took me time to understand that and it was only by going deeply into each aspect of the writing that I did, you know, the further, I had to down deep to see that unifying theme across them all.
I will say that if you work in one area, one, you know, if you are more single minded, you can only do one at a time anyway, you can only ever work on any one thing at a time and the Go Creative method breaks things up into quarters and I would recommend that you start to think about your year in terms of quarters and focusing deeply on one thing. When you understand that deeply then you’re in the right place to see how other things link in. If you’re trying to impose that from on top it’s not going to work.
OK, that’s good, that worked for Rachel, alrighty, so yeah when we power up our pitches, we very much take in the micro-niche, the people that we are working for and we narrow down what we do so I just want to look at these are people that we’ve actually worked with to change their pitch and make things just clearer to everybody. So from “I’m a ghostwriter and I design websites” so that very much told people what the person did, but by the time we had gone through the pitching process that had become “I create nonfiction blogs and books for novelists that help them to sell more books and get paid speaking and consulting gigs” because that’s actually what she did.
So she was a ghostwriter but the books that she was writing was kind of behind the scenes books for novelists, maybe a memoir about the novelist or something that was going to help them to sell more books and also to get speaking gigs. She had kind of fallen into that without even really seeing that that’s what she was doing and sometimes with your pitch, in fact I would say nearly all, you have to take it to other people and see what they think but either by putting it out there and seeing what response you get, which is which is a very good way to do it, or taking it to somebody who is expert in doing this and who understands can feed back to you.
Don’t bring it to your nearest and dearest because they’ll only mess with your head and bring it to somebody who can actually help you to power that pitch up and reach your micro-niche. Very few people outside of digital business understand digital business and you can get a lot of bad advice by going to people who work in conventional business or conventional jobs so you need to take this stuff to people who get it, who have done it themselves, who understood what’s what.
Another one. “I’m a qualified counsellor” “I’m a counsellor specializing in sexual therapy for women” “I take couples on ten day retreats that are guaranteed to reinvigorate their physical relationship.” Need I tell you, her business soared. And from “I produce video for businesses,” all true, to “I make Facebook ads for creative digital businesses that sell their products and position them as authorities in their niche.”
So you’re getting the idea, I hope, again, if you have an questions about that or if it doesn’t make sense please put the questions in now. I’m hoping that does makes sense to you. And now I’m going to give you two minutes to power up your own pitch in a similar sort of way. Don’t worry, nobody will ask you to read it out or anything. I want you to write down, write in this way. So from what you wrote already to, just as we did, with the previous ones and in your powered up pitch, I want you to think about what was different in those previous ones, so I’ve put them back on the screen.
I want you to think about what was different once they were powered up, what was the difference between the first one and the second one. Obviously, it’s the micro-niching is very key, it’s getting very specific about an aspect of what you do and the best way to power up your pitch is to move more closely to what you really love, to what, you know, narrow it down to the strip of something that you love. It doesn’t matter that you love four other things. Just do one now. Just get a powered up pitch on one aspect of what you do. We’ll take two minutes on it again.
OK so just finish up on that and when you’re done, again, give yourself marks out of ten and if you could, some of you who are happy to share, if you could tell us, you know, your first marks out of ten when you did your original one already at the beginning of the workshop and now your marked out of ten for your powered up pitch. And I do realize that for most of you it’s not going to be all perfect straight away. You’re going to need to take this away and you’re going to need to think about it a little bit more and you’re going to, you know, try it, some of it maybe be applicable on your website, you put it out there, you go back and you look in a few days time, and you think “Oh my god, what have I written there?” and you change it.
All of that is fine, all of that is absolutely part of the process but if you had any light bulbs going off, if you have things that are kind of saying “Ooh, that is it, that is me” you know, trust that, sometimes it can make you very nervous when you actually get the thing, you know, it can can make you feel “Ugh, I don’t want to put that out there and one of the things we need to get good at as creative entrepreneurs and really the only way you can get good at it is to do it, trial and error, again, is distinguishing between the, you know, the kind of feeling which is really a warning that you’re on the wrong track and that feeling that is kind of creative anxiety that can express itself, it can feel similar but actually it is very productive, good productive juice kind of thing, so with a lot of this it’s feel the fear, do it anyway and see what the result is.
Trying and keep your emotions out of this as much as possible and just think about maximizing profits and passion equally, holding those two together. When you bring them together it very often simplifies your decisions. Julie’s got worse, “My early one was high level but in trying to go specific I’m not sure which of the many aspects to choose. I need to do a lot more thinking about this, can’t rush it.” Absolutely, follow that instinct, Julie, and hopefully be able to help on that as we go through the coming year.
OK, so Regina, very interesting, “Had not noticed before that in each fantasy book and there is a character who is younger, a young teen who faces great danger and so discovers her own power and identity. I can make that part of the pitch, maybe.” Well, I think it sounds great, you know, particularly if you could kind of trace that back. Do you, is it coming to you easily, can you think of a time when you were a young girl, a young teen facing great danger and through that discovered your own power and identity? If you can, if those two link together, then I think you’re onto a winner there.
OK, so this process that I’ve brought you through, Susan has gone to a four out of ten. Good. Great and did get specific. Ok, so some more thinking to be done there. This process can be used for any kind of pitch, so with personal one, it’s looking at your own personal experience and how that connects into the overall thing of what you’re doing.
With partners, influencers, publishers, it’s the same. Look for the values, look for the passion, look for the mission, look for their problem, their need and how you face into it. Sherri is giving herself a 5 now and is very happy and she’s not ready to share, that’s absolutely fine, it’s a process and it takes a while.
So when you do have your pitch, when you do like it you will get kind of a click of satisfaction and you go “Yes, that’s it!” And there’ll be a lot in it and it will be short, so it won’t be rambling, it won’t be long, you will be able to do it in a sentence or two and when you have it you’ll feel good about it. You may feel nervous, as I said, you may feel that sort of creative anxiety, you may feel slightly sick, you know, the way that can happen when we put out our stuff that’s fine, that part but you will have a sense of “Oh yes, this is good enough to share.”
When you get to that point, learn it off so that in your in-person you can get used to sharing it. So you can go beyond, you know, when somebody says what you do, I say “I’m a writer, that’s it.” And the next question they’ll ask would be “What do you write?” and that is your opportunity to rattle off what it is you write or to talk to them if they seem like somebody who would particularly be interested in some aspect of what you do, to talk to them about that particular aspect. Start to include it in your website, in your bio, on your brochures and essentially start to recognize that truth that we spoke about at the beginning which is that we’re always pitching, either badly or well. And make the creative intention that you’re going to become somebody who pitches well.
And don’t wait for perfection, good enough is quite good enough. Once you’ve tipped to five or over, put it out there because that process will teach you more and you will constantly be refining it anyway. It’s like your website, it’s never really quite finished because you grow, you change, conditions change, the audience changes, you know, changes is the nature of life. So don’t wait for perfection and just good enough is what you’re looking for.
So Sherri says she needs to listen to the session again, yes the replays are on my Facebook page and with my website with full transcript in a few days so the workshops page OrnaRoss.com/workshops, you’ll find it there and also they are left on the Facebook page. This is a Facebook live video I just left on my author page. So I hope that was of some value to you.
Here’s all the details if you want to come next time. The workshops normally take place on the 3rd Tuesday of every month at, this says 8 pm, It used to be 8pm, it’s 7 pm, now 7 pm London time and you will find them on, we have a close, sorry, yes, you’ll find them, as I said, on the author page or on my website and also, for those who are not aware, we have a closed Facebook group that a number of people who are here tonight are members of and there we set our weekly creative intentions and, we on a Friday, or I suppose it’s Saturday now, towards the end of the week, check in on our accomplishments for that week.
Very often we set intentions that we don’t quite meet and we accomplish things that we didn’t intend to but that’s fine and that’s all part of the process but just by setting our intentions together, with each other helps us to be more accountable because we set them under our three hats of maker, manager and maximizer so it’s never just about making the products, it’s always about running a successful creative business to the degree that we can actually make a living doing what we love.
So that’s the aim off of the workshops, the next one will be the 19th of February and that will be the 4th step in the sequence of success, we are now onto production so we will be talking about how to produce most effectively, we’ll be looking at the process, your own process of production and we’ll be looking at various productivity tools, tricks, techniques, tips and so on.
So thank you very much for being here this evening, the conversation will continue shortly on the Facebook page and over the next few days in the Facebook group, so have a wonderful 2019. I hope it will be your most productive and your most prosperous ever. and hopefully we can help in some way to make that happen. Thank you and good night.