Summary in one sentence: Making great work that lasts.
The book is made up of 4 parts:
- The creative process
The Creative Process
- The Work is what matter – “Make the product so good people recommend it to their friends” – Paul Graham (Y Combinator founder)
- Ideas are not enough – “Writers write. Don’t wait to get hired for something to write.” – Sarah Silverman. “Lots of people want to be the noun without doing the verb.” – Austin Kleon
- Why Create? – Purpose – why you want the outcome and why you’re willing to do the work to get it. (E.g. because it will help a lot of people; you want to capture something meaningful; solving a problem for other people;
- What will you sacrifice? – What am I willing to sacrifice in order to do it?
- It’s a marathon, not a sprint
- Great things are timeless and take time. Take a long-term view and respect the process (From the Toyota way). “Focus on the things that don’t change.” – Jeff Bezos (Amazon). “If it is worth doing, it is worth doing well.”
- Short vs. Long-Term – Better to play the long game
- Creativity is not a divine act. It is not a lightning strike.Very few things were created at a hackathon. “There is nothing to writing. All you do is sit down at a typewriter and bleed.” – Hemingway. Creative work starts with an idea that seems to have potential and then evolves with work and interaction into something more. Jack Kerouac apparently wrote “On the Road” in 3 weeks (high on drugs) but the story forgets that it took a good six years editing and refining until it was ready.
- The drawdown period – In the way, a good wine must be aged, or that we let the meat marinate for hours in spice and sauce, an idea must be given space to develop.
- Test early, test often – Creative people tend naturally produce false positives. The key is to catch them early. The only way to do that is by doing the work at least partly in front of an audience (Reminds me of “Show your work”). Prepare for mixed messages. Minimum Viable Product (MVP) in the start-up world. In practice: Ask questions
- The question almost no one asks – Successfully finding and “scratching” a niche requires asking and answering a question that very few creators seem to do: Who is this thing for? (Reminds me of Tim Ferriss – “Scratch your own itch”). For any project, you must know what you are doing (and what you are NOT doing). You must know who you are doing it for (and who you NOT doing it for.) Identify a proxy from the outset. Someone who represents your ideal audience. Who you think about constantly throughout the creative process.
- Not just, “Who For?” Also, “For what?” – “It’s not what a book is, it’s what a book does.” It’s much harder to create something other people not only want but need. Nonfiction should either be “very entertaining” or “extremely practical”. The more important and perennial a problem, the better chance the product that addresses it will be important and perennial as well.
- Bold, Brash, and Brave – “Only is better than best.” – Srinivas Rao (Writer and podcaster). “Blue Ocean Strategy”, far better to seek fresh, uncontested water. Be wary of descriptions such as “its x but with y.” Ask – what people am I pissing off? What groups am I disrupting? “Either you’re controversial, or nothing at all is happening.” – Elizabeth Wurtzel. “If it’s original, you will have to ram it down their throats.” You must have obsessively studied your genre or industry to a degree that you know which boundaries to push and which to respect.
- Is it the best you can do? – “Spend three times longer revising your manuscript than you think you need.” “Kill your darlings” – Stephen King in reference to ruthlessly editing your work. Ignore what other people or doing. There are no competitions.
- Halfway to halfway – Considerable effort needs to be spent polishing, improving and positioning to ensure it resonates with your intended audience.
- You’re the CEO – Come to terms that no one is coming to save you. The person who is going to need to step up is you. If you want to be successful, you’d better be cut, polished, set and sized to fit.
- Find your “editor” – “The first draft of anything is shit” – Hemingway. Send work to a friend to get feedback and collaborate. Submit yourself and work to a feedback process. Getting feedback requires humility.
- Polish and Perfect, Test and Retest – Keep working on it until it is fixed. Have the discipline required to hit pause and return till the work meets the standard we have set for ourselves. Have our own tests: “Does what you made scratch your own itch in a way that suggests it will do the same for others?”, “Does a summary of the book work as a talk?”
- One Sentence, One Paragraph, One Page – “If you don’t know what you’re looking for, how will you know if you’ve found it?” – Plato and Socrates. “Write to think” – Amazon; managers who want to launch a new product need to write a press release.
Exercise: with fresh eyes, write out exactly what your project is supposed to be and to do in:
- One sentence
- One paragraph
- One Page
(Or the “Elevator test”)
- Who are you aiming for? – “An unaimed arrow rarely hits s target.” Not even the Bible is for everyone.
Exercise: “This is a ___________ that does __________ for _________ .|”
- Is bigger better? – For creators, it’s typically easier to reach the smaller, better-defined group. Who are the first 1,000 users, readers? (Reminds me of 1,000 true fans by Kevin Kelly)
- Positioning, Packing, and the Pitch – 3 critical variables:
- Positioning – what your project is and who it is for
- Packing – what it looks like and what it’s called
- Pitch – the sell. What it offers to the audience
Law 2 (from the 22 Immutable Laws of Marketing), “If you can’t be first in a category, set up a new category you can be first in.”
- Why are you doing this? – You’ll need to put 100 percent of your resources towards this one.
Exercise: “This is a ___________ that does __________ for _________ because ________ .”
- Coming to terms with commercialism
“Customers will not come just because you build it. You have to make that happen and it’s harder than it looks.” – Peter Thiel
- Marketing is your job – “If you don’t see any salespeople, you’re the salesperson.” – Peter Thiel in Zero to One
- The rule you can’t forget – Humility always works harder than ego. Hunger and humility make the difference.
- Anything can be marketing
- Only one thing matters: Word of Mouth – “Successful word of mouth begins with a single customer. Sell one” – Seth Godin. Tribes grow when people recruit other people.
- The Launch – Got to hustle it.
- What do we have to work with? – Relationships, media contacts, favors, potential advertising budget, resources or allies. Create a spreadsheet of all your contacts, outlets, promises, debts, etc. to get a full view of what you have to work with.
- Free, Free, Free – Find your addicts – What can you give away for free?
- If not Free, Cheap – The right price to create a perennial seller? As cheap as possible without damaging the perception of your product. The more accessible you can make your product, the easier it will be to market.
- Find your Champions – The more influential the better
- Getting media coverage – publicity sells products – There is a risk that if your product has not been covered by the media, people will think you’re a nobody.
- Ok, I still want to get press – “Trading up the chain” – interconnected media age, outlets pick up and re-report on each other’s stories. A steady drumbeat is better.
- It’s about grabbing attention not getting it. – Need to take matters into your own hands. Create the sizzle that sells the steak. Do things that create media opportunities for reports. Think Richard Branson or Elon Musk. The most newsworthy thing to do is usually the one you afraid to do. Don’t be afraid of pissing people off.
- The art of newsjacking: Making it all about you – “The process by which you inject your ideas or angles into breaking news, in real time, in order to generate media coverage for yourself or your business.” – David Meerman Scott. Trends and popular themes are also powerful forces to piggyback on.
- The art of paid media – Advertising can add fuel to a fire, but rarely is it sufficient to start one. Efficient advertising campaign involves two key things:
- Knowing the Lifetime value (LTV)of your customer
- Knowing how much it will cost to acquire that customer via advertising. Cost per acquisition (CPA)
Start with a small test to see whether actually works. Principles are better than instruction and “hacks”. The best strategy is to try everything and see what works for your project and then send more power to the wheels that are getting more traction.
Enjoyed the story of Iron Maiden and how they built a cross-generational global army of loyal fans who but every single thing they put out. The Kevin Kelly 1,000 true fans article come up again.
- What is a platform? – The combination of the tools, relationships, access and audience that you have to bear on spreading your creative work. A platform is what gives us the ability to launch our work into the world.
- Why you need a platform? – Casey Neistat – “Platform is not a stepping stone. It is the finish line.” Choose to bind ourselves to an audience, to become one with that audience and to become one with our weapon. (Like a boxer, not a fencer. Marcus Aurelius reference)
- Build your list. Build your list. Build your list – Continuously keep building your list. That is email list. “The only way to guarantee longevity online is to retain control of your own engagement channel.” – Drew Curtis, creator of Fark.com (news aggregator)
- How to build it so that they will come – You can build a list of anything. The best way to create a list is to provide incredible amounts of value. Strategies: Give something away for free as an incentive, Create a gate, Use pop-ups, Do things by hand, Run sweepstakes or contest, Do a swap, Promise a service.
- Your Network is your net worth
Tim Ferriss strategies:
- Never dismiss anyone
- Play the long game
- Focus on “pre-VIPs”
The best time to build your list/network is yesterday. The second best time is right now!! Networking is about forming, developing and maintaining real relationships.
- Relationships are a platform too – Why should someone do me this huge favor? The only proper answer is because I’ve done them favors in the past. Because I have built up karmic debt.
- The most important relationship – the one with your fans – “Authors who want long-term success should adopt this mantra: Participate, Participate, Participate.” – Barbara Hendricks, founder of a prestigious book PR firm.
- Settle in for the long haul – The race to creative success today is really a marathon. Audiences often need to hear about things multiple times and be exposed to them from multiple angles before they’re willing to give something a chance.
- Marketing can’t stop. The work can’t stop. The Hustle can’t stop. It must go on and on
- Build a body of work – Creating a body of work is one of the most effective marketing techniques of all. Seinfeld culls about 10% of his material from his act each year. Like Jack Welch used to do with underperformers. The best way to become an author is to write more than one book, just as a true entrepreneur starts more than one business.
- Reach out to new fans
- Build an empire
Don’t just make it. Make it happen.
While compiling this summary, I came across Derek Sivers Writing process. So simple. Love it.
This is what I do for everything I post:
- Write all of my thoughts on a subject.
- Argue against those ideas.
- Explore different angles until I’m sick of it.
- Leave it for a few days or years, then repeat those steps.
- Hate how messy these thoughts have become.
- Reduce them to a tiny outline of the key points.
- Post the outline. Trash the rest.
Note from other sources for the Perennial Seller by Ryan Holiday
General concept: How do you make great work that lasts?
From YouTube vid: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=oYHeWg8AQ8w
- Get Niche: Find a niche market. Tailor your work to a very specific group of people.
- Build the best product possible:
- Word of mouth: The main way your product will spread
- Be Bold, brash and Brave: Got to produce something unique. Most people content is only slightly different from something else.
- Nobody cares: nobody cares as much about your work as you do. Get your hands dirty
- Get an outside voice: This is an independent party opinion
- Test: try different content with your selected market.
- Give something away for free
- Traditional PR is under-valued: Call your local newspaper
- Create your own platform: Help to have your own audience. Build a list. Start right away.
From YouTube vid: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=eFWVo8pCECU
How do you make timeless products? E.g. Michael Jackson, Forest Gump, W40, How to win friends and influence people
Question: How can you create work that achieves longevity and receives timeless acclaim or love?
- The creative process
Top 10 lessons:
- The work is what matters (Spend 80% of the time on the content and 20% on marketing) – “To be great, one must make great work and making great work is incredibly hard” – Ryan Holiday. The better your product is the less time you have to spend on marketing
- Ideas are not enough (You have to follow through with action and do the work) Ideas are cheap
- It’s a marathon, not a sprint – Create something that people will rave about.
- Presentation and positioning is powerful. A book has a cover because people do judge a book by its cover.
- Why are you doing this? Need to answer this question as good as you can before getting started. Need to have powerful purpose. This is important because it is going to get hard and the project needs 100% focus. You cannot chance every colored balloon.
- Word of mouth. This is the best way to get a perennial seller. Often word of mouth is twice as effective as normal marketing.
- Free, free, free (This the one way to start getting your work noticed)
- Art of news jacking (Amazing story of jumping on the news trend of drones but showing that they plan to deliver with drones.)
- Gather your iron (Iron Maiden only serves it niche audience. Build your own platform)
- Develop your own platform (Uses the example of Casey Neistat for being able to talk directly to your audience)
Perennial Seller: The Art of Making and Marketing Work that Lasts
Great quote from the book – “When it comes to making your art—whether it’s music or writing or build a great company—you either really want it or you don’t. There is no easy way in, or out.”
- People focus too much on the instant gratification and not enough on creating work that lasts or stands the test of time.
- The market will not help a mediocre product
- Good work is hard and it requires great sacrifice. From sacrifice comes meaning, from struggle, comes purpose. You need to have a purpose to sustain the struggle.
- The creative process will require not only time and work but also the long view.
- The creative work usually starts with an idea that seems to have potential and then evolves with work and interaction into something more.
- Getting into action generates inspiration. You cannot wait for inspiration. Inspiration is for amateurs
- For each project you much no what you are doing and what you NOT doing. For the statement: “THIS for THESE people”
- The bigger the problem you aim to solve the better the cultural hook
- A master is painstakingly obsessed with the details
- There is no publisher, angel investor or producer who can magically handle all the stuff you don’t want to handle. You have to put in the work and do most of the things yourself.
- Nobody creates perfect first drafts. You need an independent 3rd party to give feedback as well.
- You need to be able to state clearly who your target audience is. You need this to correctly position the product for them.
- To attract and audience take the time to get your positioning and packing right
- Nothing has sunk more creators than pursuing multiplier goals. You need to focus single-mindedly on your one project.
- “Customers will not come just because you build it. You have to make that happen and it’s harder than it looks.” — Peter Thiel
- It is my job as a marketer to make people care. Be aware of the illusion of entitlement
- The thing that matters is – WORD OF MOUTH
- People tend to like things other people like.
- Once you have made a great product people need to hear about it and find out that it exists
- Get your initial audience hooked. Best way to do this is giving it away for free
- The best price is as cheap as possible, without damaging the perception of your product
- When a well-trusted person gives an endorsement, it is far better than any branding or ads
- Think relationship first, transaction second
- Media is desperate for material. You will be doing reports a favor by offering to let them interview you.
- Nobody gets coverage for thinking about maybe doing something. You will get coverage for taking a stand, risking something
- Goal: Establishing a presence and building a reputation and profile. Publicity is about breaking through the noise.
- Efficient advertising is about: 1) Knowing what a customer is worth to you 2) Knowing how much it will cost to acquire that customer via advertising
- Marketing is the art of allocating resources – sending more power t the wheels that are getting the best traction.
- Build your list of 1,000 true fans (people who will purchase anything you produce)
- A platform is the combination of tools, relationships, access and audience that you will spread your work throughout your career
- A Platform is a finish line (as opposed to a stepping stone)
- Build your email list and open up the opportunity to talk directly with our audience
- As is true for so many things, the best time to have built your network was yesterday. The second best time is right now.
- Producing more work is one of the most effective marketing techniques of all
- Best way to be an author is to publish many books. One book does not make you an author.
- The more you do, the harder you work, the luckier you seem to get.
Notes from another article:
- the compound effect instead of the instant viral hit.
- difference between wanting to create a classic and actually creating it. It involves hard work, persistence, agony and everything else that most aren’t willing to tolerate.
- “If you’re to create something powerful and important, you must at the very least be driven by an equally powerful inner force.”
- take responsibility for every part of the process.