Follow YOUR bliss. Listen carefully to YOUR muse. Discover how to connect with your audience.

the ash flash coffee mug

written by john c ashworth

Every time I read this company’s blog, I’m disappointed. Sometimes just downright mad at them for wasting my time. Which is, of course, my own fault. I could just unsubscribe. Walk away. Move on to the next blog. The next company. The next book. The next resource that is more likely to inspire me than this one. For some reason I stick around. Maybe it’s because it’s such a good example of how a sucky blog can become such an unfortunate missed opportunity. A really bad reality TV show that I just can’t stop watching because it’s so darn juicy. “Thank goodness this isn’t me.” I think.

I’m not going to name the company. That’s not really fair. There are likely others who find it useful. To them I say, be careful. In fact, it reminds me of something I heard while listening to the Daily Stoic today. Something like, ‘Beware of those who talk a lot and often. It is likely that in reality they have nothing to say.’ Not always true, but very good advice all the same.

The point here is that if you don’t have a blog for your business or it is sucky like this one, you are missing a very important opportunity to connect with your audience – your prospects and customers and anyone else for whom your idea and your mission resonates. In fact, that was their topic today. The idea that before you create anything, you need to get clear on who your audience is and what they are looking for so that you can go about creating great content for them. No matter the medium.

That’s true. You need to know your audience. But you also need to follow your muse and give it the proper space needed to speak through you. When you do that in combination with your diligent and on-going work of connecting with your audience, you will find great comfort and reward and connection with your work. The right people will find you. Otherwise, you’re never really following your own instincts exclusively and you will likely get caught up in trying to please an audience that might not even exist, instead of staying present and true to yourself, and cultivating clarity so that your muse can speak freely and have the space it needs to expand; and then attract the right people. This can take time, of course, which is why so many skirt the responsibility and ignore its importance. But that doesn’t change the fact that it’s necessary and very important.

Now, I’m not saying that all you have to do is follow your muse, create cool stuff and magically people will find you and your business will grow. That’s a lot of BS and if you’ve been around long enough like I have, you know that in the early stages of the internet and all the blogging and then the birth social media, there was a lot of that false hope being sold.

When you use the word ‘ideating’ in a blog post, I am forced to question everything about you; and all that you claim to represent. Because boy, that is a stupid word. I’ve never even seen it before.

Again, there are likely some who would not have that same kind of reaction to that word, but to me what that word represents is the much larger problem for this company and for business blogging as a whole. Not only are they not following their own advice, but they are actually contradicting themselves inside this post, and likely without even realizing it. They are so caught up inside themselves, that they’ve actually used this word in the same sentence as ‘brand values’ which is another BS Buzz-word. A made-up word that means nothing. Even if you spend the rest of the afternoon ideating , you will still end up where I am now. Lost and wishing you could have the last 15 minutes of your life back.

Do me a favor. Be smart enough to know and courageous enough to act on the ideas that make sense to you because they represent who you are and are an extension of YOU, your personal beliefs and your mission. Stay clear of buzz words and made-up ideas that make no sense, are not based on real expert experience; and leave you feeling unfulfilled and confused.

Stay on YOUR path. Follow YOUR bliss. And listen carefully to YOUR own muse and let nothing in the world distract you from that.

-John

How to make your mark as a writer

the ash flash tips for success

written by john c ashworth

I’ve been reading, “On writing well” by William Zinsser. A really terrific book. And it’s hard to write a good book on writing.

Here is one of the gems I discovered this morning…

You’ll never make your mark as a writer unless you develop a respect for words and a curiosity about their shades of meaning that is almost obsessive. The English language is rich in strong and supple words. Take the time to root around and find the ones you want.

Describing words as strong and supple is divine. A great example of rooting around to find the ones you really want. The ones that sing.

-John

How to write like a pro

How to write like a pro

written by john c ashworth

with inspiration from my new favorite book, ‘On Writing Well’ by William Zinsser

The essence of writing is re-writing. A universal truth I have worked to instill in my son who seems to believe like so many others in his generation that one round into the keyboard is enough. I have to make it a point now to ask him if he’s actually read his work out loud to himself at least once before sending to me for review. This has been a telling experience for him, and he is learning slowly that the essence of writing is re-writing. He doesn’t like it so much. Because when you have to approach it that way, it feels more like a job.

When I first started learning about how and why to blog for business growth, I remember reading in countless places the suggestion that authenticity ruled and that just getting the words out there, regardless of their cleanliness, was the most important thing. Perfect is the enemy of done as I like to often say.

Many of those older posts still exist here on the ash flash and when I come across some of them, I cringe and secretly hope no one is looking. I really don’t like how exposed they sound. They are raw and incomplete. I know there’s value in just getting things out there but I think the problem is that it drives this unnecessary feeling that as soon as you’ve written something, you need to get it posted and live and public because somehow that validates your effort. I stopped thinking and acting this way a few years ago and instead have put my focus back where it belongs. On the craft. I started writing again just for the sake of the craft and how it makes me feel when I’m engaged with it. That’s the really truly important thing. That’s it. No one is sitting around right now and waiting for what John might post today. For the few devoted readers I do have, I want them to know that I’m putting in the effort and that I truly appreciate them being here. Taking the time to read what I have shared.

As Mr. Zinsser has pointed out, “…a badly written message can do a lot of damage. So can a badly written website. The new age, for all it’s technological wizardry is still writing based.”

Email, for example, is an impromptu medium, not conducive to slowing down or looking back. Ideal for the never-ending up-keep of daily life. If your writing here is disorderly, no real harm is done. But it is also very important to remember that email is where much of the world’s business is done. Millions of email messages every day give people the information they need to do their job, and a badly written message can in fact do a lot of damage.

William Zinsser, April 2006 in On Writing Well

Spring takes on a new meaning this year…

written by john c ashworth

Inside the thicket of a deadly pandemic, life outside in nature seems all the more subtly determined to affirm the resilience of life.

Just outside my home office window, sitting patiently and steadfast all winter long, a now medium-sized bush sits much more tolerant than I of warmer weather that seems reluctant this year. Looking in that very same direction at night shortly after the sun sets, I can also now see Venus hanging low and brilliant in the sky, beckoning my spirit in a way that is seductive and that I don’t fully understand. A reverent calling from the universe that will always remain a mystery and that somehow, when I spend time soaking in the sun’s reflection from its surface, beckons my understanding at the same time.

The bush outside my window will fill-in quickly as soon as warmer weather shows it’s face. Blocking my view and making me feel shrouded in a summer darkness that is out there and that seems so unfair after all we’ve been through thus far. And yet, I yearn for its engulfing presence, because when all of it’s potential has finally arrived, it represents something far greater than self. Similar to that presence of Venus that has somehow transfixed my place in the universe either momentarily or forever. I still can’t tell.

The juxtaposition of that bush during the day and my vision of Venus at night, though, somehow keep me hopeful about the future and all that it holds for me, for you, for my family, and for my own selfish pursuit of passions and purpose that I’m learning to follow with a great deal more grace, purpose, and humility.

Venus is my beacon.

Venus holds my light for the world.

Venus is my talisman for embracing humility.

Time will continue to march like a soldier toward graduation. Dutifully making it’s way along. A solute to the natural order of things. Holding service and sacrifice and humility in ways that that I can only hope to muster enough courage to honor.

Long ago, the seed of my existence entered this world, and until now, nothing felt as real as it does at this moment. Nothing as sacred as a quiet cup of coffee in the morning, a good stretch, and a magnificent day ahead of me during which I will spend more time embracing the solitude of reality than before. An authenticity that can only come through loss and trials that try our souls.

One moment at a time I will let go, and then commit myself to the one I’m in, while gently preparing myself for the one that comes next; and this time I will heed the promise to hold more closely to the light of the universe that feeds us all.

-John

This 94-year OLD Sales Secret is the Key to Doubling Your Profits

they laughed when I say down to play the piano

written by john c ashworth

We have all experienced this. 

A great sales letter or sales pitch that somehow drew us in and suddenly we’re ready to buy.

What happened?

A master storyteller drew us in.

A well written story is one of the most persuasive sales and copywriting techniques you can put to work for you.

Stories sell!

Are you writing any?

Imagine how much more powerful your current marketing could become by incorporating the master secrets of powerful and provocative storytelling into everything you do to communicate more effectively with your prospects and customers.

-John

PS One really good example of this idea is a direct-response piece written by John Caples.  You might even recognize the headline,

“They laughed when I sat down At the Piano
But When I started to Play!”

John Caples was a magnificent storyteller and he understood that in order to get someone to sign-up for a correspondence course teaching them how to play the piano, that what he really needed to do was paint a clear picture of how that feat would play out in real life.  In telling a story about how an average guy was able to surprise his close friends during a dinner party – sitting down to play the piano in unexpected ways – allows the reader to imagine what that experience might be like for them too.  And as a result, build desire. This letter was extremely successful, directly as a result of this powerful storytelling technique.

What stories can you tell about your work, your mission, and your unique services that will resonate like this and stir emotions and put people in the mood to buy your stuff?

they laughed when I say down to play the piano
You can Click here for John Caple’s original Obituary as published in The New York Times. -john c ashworth

Are You Treating This Important Sales Tool As Trivial? | Small Business Marketing Resources | GKIC.com

Personally, I love the PS and find it to be an important sales tool. They are also a lot of fun to write. Most don’t use them and miss an opportunity. I’ve had customers and prospects ask me why in the heck I’m bothering with a PS.

“Because you’re reading it!” 🙂

John

The other day I read someone’s definition of a “post scriptum” commonly referred to as a “P.S.”  The author, trying to educate others, described the P.S. as “generally containing information which is trivial.” To be frank, I found his explanation rather trivial…

Source: Are You Treating This Important Sales Tool As Trivial? | Small Business Marketing Resources | GKIC.com