Have a Point of View
“You don’t just need to have something to say, you need to have a point of view. If you don’t have a point of view, there is no point in publishing your book.” Blair Enns, Author of The Win Without Pitching Manifesto
We shouldn’t create content just because we feel like creating content. That’s as good as starting a business out of boredom, or running for political office because it sounds like great fun.
Rather, we should create content either because we have valuable information to share with others, or we have a point of view. Specifically, having a point of view might be the most important part of developing a message that lands with your audience.
Of all of the content vying for your attention on a daily basis, what percentage of it is useful, relevant, or helpful to you? Maybe this will be easier to answer: When was the last time you read, heard, or watched something that was seriously valuable to you?
About 6 months ago, I ordered Blair Enns’ Win Without Pitching Manifesto on Amazon and read the book within 24 hours of receiving it. The book itself is small, yet the effect on me was huge. The message has guided the way I run my design practice and changed the way I see business and sales in general.
More important than that, however, it educated me on the art of creating valuable content. Win Without Pitching showed me how valuable it is to take a stance and stick with it.
Blair has a unique perspective on the business of design. It's disruptive and easy to disagree with. Plenty of creatives are doubters and skeptics of his ideas. Sell design work without pitching? There’s no way.
The same content that elicits a skeptical reaction from those people also elicits an excited and positive reaction from me. By having a point of view and taking a side, Blair might disappoint some people, but the people who get it will be fervent supporters. This is why it's so important to specialize, find a niche, and please your thousand true fans. All of these ideas are essentially the same thing: Take your stance and stick with it. Don't try to please everyone.
Having a point of view inevitably means that you can't please everyone. There will be those who agree and those who disagree. That's optimal—it's the reason that people will support you and your content. Having a point of view is how you will obtain your first thousand true fans. Specializing is how you will get and keep your best clients.
For Blair Enns, writing The Win Without Pitching Manifesto came naturally because it was everything he had been talking about for years in the creative services industry. All he had to do was put his point of view on paper. Blair Enns was writing the book he had always wanted to read, because it was a collection of his own thoughts after years of experience in his industry. His point of view.
When I started writing my book, The Dropout Manifesto, I didn’t know much about writing a book. I didn’t know how to write, how to self-publish, or how to edit. The one thing I did know was my point of view, and it’s a bit different than the rest of the population. That's what has made response to the book so positive. By trusting that my point of view was shared by other people, I was able to write a book true to my beliefs and I inevitably found that other people believed the same things too, and they love it.
Throughout the writing process, I discovered how easy it was to change my point of view for fear that I would not reach a large enough audience if I took a side on the issue of education. I began to soften my perspective in hopes that educators would read it and not scoff at the message, as I expected they would.
It’s extraordinarily easy to fall into this trap, because it feels like I’m doing myself a favor by making the content more agreeable. This is because the same content that I remove to make the book more agreeable is the same content that my most fervent supporters want to see in the book.
"Half of the people can be part right all of the time, some of the people can be all right part of the time, but all of the people can't be all right all of the time." Bob Dylan, Talkin' World War III Blues
If nothing else, write things and create things that you will enjoy. I would have loved to read a book like The Dropout Manifesto years ago, but it didn't exist yet. I know that if I would have seen this book on the shelf at Barnes & Noble, I would have bought it.
Luckily, there are other people like me that will like it, too.