Goins, Writer

On Writing, Ideas, and Making a Difference

How to Get Your Message Heard without Adding to the Noise

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If we’re adding to the noise, turn off this song.
—Switchfoot

Everyone wants to be heard. They want to be noticed, embraced, accepted. In one way or another, we all want to belong. And for those of us who are communicators, we want to share our art and see our ideas spread.

There’s just one problem: There’s too much noise in this world.

Get Heard

Photo credit: Zabowski (Creative Commons)

Every day, thousands of messages inundate you. Advertising. Email. Phone calls. Maybe even a few faxes. These messages are so abundant — so overwhelming — that it’s hard to know what’s worth our attention.

What should we spend our time on? What’s worth noticing? What should we actually be listening to?

This is the world we live in today. The hard part for you, the artist, is that we may be missing your work. All because we’ve learned to tune out the noise.

That is, unless you do something different.

What’s really worth people’s time

Most people buy stuff they have a personal connection with. They don’t believe corporations or mass marketing. They trust the niche, the small and local. The weird.

These people — people like you and me — believe what their friends tell them. They trust what’s authentic and true, what’s personally relevant.

So what does the undiscovered artist (i.e. writer, designer, actor, etc.) who actually has something to say do? How does she build enough credibility that people are willing to pay for her work?

Does she create something that adds to the noise? No. She does something unique, surprising, and completely counter-intuitive: She gives away her work for FREE. She practices generosity.

This can be a song or an eBook or a cartoon. An idea or a business model. (Note: It has to be something you could charge money for and don’t.)

This is how you earn the right to speak to your audience. You create something of value and then give it away.

Yes, it will cost you something. But it’s a small price to pay for permission.

How do you build a platform?

You may not have a TV show or a radio program. You may not lead an organization or be the heir of a famous tycoon. But that’s no reason to not make a difference. You can still have influence. You can still build a platform. Here’s how:

  1. Build a tribe by being generous. Try giving away something for free.
  2. Get permission to communicate with the tribe on a regular basis.
  3. Put people first; serve your way into greater influence.
  4. Ask people what they want — what they’d be willing to pay for (and how much). Then, deliver it to them.
  5. Rinse and repeat. (Continue being generous.)

This is the opposite of how traditional businesses and marketing strategies work. Usually, it’s product first, then promotion. Not so with this model. In this case, it’s people first, product second.

Put the tribe first, then build something just for them.

Many successful businesses, entrepreneurs, and artists are making a difference by finding what people want and giving it to them. (It’s so crazy it just might work.)

No marketing gimmicks. No clever ploys or bait-and-switches. Just helping people. Feel free to tweet that:

This kind of people-first mentality is made easy through the Web. Because it gives you unlimited access to millions of potential customers, fans, and friends — for free.

This is how audiences are built these days: Bootstrap, serve, and scale. It’s very different and a whole lot of fun. Good luck.

For more about how to get your message heard, check out this page about how to get published without trying.

How do you get your message heard? Share in the comments. If you liked this article, feel free to share it with your friends.

*Photo credit: Zabowski (Creative Commons)

About Jeff Goins

I help people tell better stories and make a difference in the world. My family and I live outside of Nashville, TN. Follow me on Twitter, Facebook, or Google Plus. Check out my new book, The In-Between. To get exclusive updates and free stuff, join my newsletter.

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  • http://www.linchpinbloggers.com/ Don McAllister

    Generosity is key. We have to give our art away freely. We have to do what Amazon is doing with the Kindle and give our work away at a loss. It’s counterintuitive, yet very effective if done strategically. Excellent post!

    • http://goinswriter.com/ Jeff Goins

      Right. Think of it as a “loss leader” on steroids. But the thing is: with the free distribution of the web, the loss is minimal if not nonexistent. All it costs is a little time and maybe some pride.

      • http://www.linchpinbloggers.com/ Don McAllister

        “Loss leader on steroids”…nice! And agreed on the loss point. 

  • http://iamconvicted.com Brett Henley

    Couldn’t agree more. Rising above the level of static is about as challenging for an artist as it gets.

    As much as I (and we) wish there was a silver bullet for growing influence … it takes a tremendous dedication to giving, sharing, etc.

    Without much expectation for return, I might add.

    Thanks Jeff, as usual, spot on.

    • http://goinswriter.com/ Jeff Goins

      Yep

  • http://blog.cyberquill.com Cyberquill

    That’s why I’ve stopped charging for the comments I leave. 

    • http://goinswriter.com/ Jeff Goins

      Brilliant

  • NickZ

    There is too much noise, because too many people want to be noticed, without having to say anything worth hearing. The genuine voice sounds different and therefore it can be more easily discerned.  The problem is, that because of so much noise one does not listen  any more – expecting to hear nothing of worth anyway.

  • http://peanutbuttercupmoment.tumblr.com/ TJ

    I think we all dream big, but to get to the dream, we have to be faithful where we are.  I started writing encouraging emails to help a couple of my friends through a transition.  I teach kids/teens at work and at church.  Now I’m getting a chance to encourage and teach in other ways, which is cool, but I have to keep reminding myself not to get ahead of myself. 

    I am where I am for a purpose and by God’s grace.  If He sees fit to expand my influence, cool beans.  In the meantime, I want to make sure I’m faithful to where I am now and my current audience…which, I think, goes with your idea of giving your stuff away and helping people.  That’s my goal.

    And if I do that, I’ll be ready for the next step…whatever that may be.  =)

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Heidi-Willis/1638378091 Heidi Willis

    We didn’t release a free ebook, but we did partner up with a fantastic international nonprofit and we’ve pledged a portion of our proceeds to them from our cheap (might as well be free) 99 cent ebook. We hope this builds enough good will and enough people take a chance on us for charity that we’ll build a healthy platform through this. Plus a great organization benefits along the way.

  • http://rebootingworship.com/ Jamie Kocur

    How do I get my message heard? For now, my blog. I’m an aspiring singer/songwriter, and would eventually like to get a few songs written and recorded, then share them on my blog. I’m still a ways from that, but I’m making steps toward it. 
    Thanks for such relevant messages.

  • http://www.lifeofasteward.com Loren Pinilis

    For me, I think part of the process is to get to the point where you’re helping people for the pleasure of  helping people and not just so that they reciprocate later. This mindset helps you not only be authentic, but it also helps you to keep giving and giving and giving when frustration comes your way.

  • http://www.facebook.com/ptsylcmnbnts Patsuy Lcmn Bnts

    BY LISTENING TO THINGS THAT SHOULD BE HEARD AND THEREAFTER, SPREADING WHAT I’VE HEARD THROUGH WRITING =D

  • Pingback: Sharpen Your Blogging Habits: 14 Actions to Take to Amplify Your Blog’s Voice | kristin nador writes anywhere

  • Mizkwanza

    Great post to start off my day.

  • http://unknownjim.com/ Jim Woods

    Is there really such a thing as a selfless gift? Aren’t we all selfish beings at heart? Even when we try to be generous..we fail. At the same time,we need to keep trying knowing that we can always do better. 

  • Rhonda Sue Davis

    Good read, thank you Jeff. If you are wanting an audience, but simply are using your voice and conversing with the larger net that we can be isolated from in the bustle and hustle of our lives,  it may not be necessary to push this formula for profit or fame. Either way , a solid platform or relationship is about facilitating and being a good friend when we listen, share, engage, and respond to one another in ways that are supportive, reflective and regenerative.    ok that was a fairly wordy.  I appreciate the tip that if you are offering something for free, it should be something people are willing to pay for, but do not have to. 

  • Rhonda Sue Davis

    Good read, thank you Jeff. If you are wanting an audience, but simply are using your voice and conversing with the larger net that we can be isolated from in the bustle and hustle of our lives,  it may not be necessary to push this formula for profit or fame. Either way , a solid platform or relationship is about facilitating and being a good friend when we listen, share, engage, and respond to one another in ways that are supportive, reflective and regenerative.    ok that was a fairly wordy.  I appreciate the tip that if you are offering something for free, it should be something people are willing to pay for, but do not have to. 

  • http://www.BigIslandDog.com/ Jt Clough | Big Island Dog

    Just found your blog and am totally engrossed in it.  Makes so much sense.  And it makes me happy because I think I actually write better the way you suggest versus the way I have been writing as a way to impress the magazine people, (have had many interviews for articles) I guess that’s where I get that from, and underneath it all I want a lot of subscribers.  Need to go back to a saying on a shirt I used to wear:  Impress Yourself!

    Your post on the Hunger Games led me to this one.  It is the first one I read and it resonated.  People’s attention is short.  I get that.  I train dogs.  Their short term memory capacity:  20 seconds.  I’m a Habits Coach for people.  Their short term memory:  possibly the same as the dog’s!  Their reading attention span:  definitely short paragraphs!

    Anyway, you have inspired me to create my next post with a free down load of many of the cool places that are dog friendly here in Kailua Kona Hawaii, where surprisingly enough there are few obvious dog friendly places.  Most of them are secrets!

    Next up, coming up with something cool for my Habits Coaching for people…

    • http://twitter.com/PatWooldridge Patricia Wooldridge

       Yes, JT, doesn’t Jeff’s blog make sense!  I really enjoy his take on things, and I like your comment, here, as well. Thanks.

      • http://goinswriter.com/ Jeff Goins

         thanks, Patricia.

  • Nickohlas Gr

    we’re all part of the noise..

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