I did a 5 hour exam seminar today and one of the things that the students perked their ears up at was the idea of writing not for readers, but for a reader.
This was half way across the country (it’s snowing here). On the train home, in a bout of nostalgic tiredness, I flicked through the blogs of people who I followed 10 years ago and something occurred to me. A lot of bloggers ended up having some kind of successful business, often hingeing on a personal brand. I found an interesting correlation between their business and their friends. It’s painfully obvious, but for me it has been hidden in plain sight for a long time.
They sell the things their friends would buy from them.
And by friends, I don’t mean people who follow them, I mean friends. Real life friends.
So to rephrase the writing canon:
Don’t sell to followers, sell to a follower.
The concept of selling to your friends seems a bit odd at first, but it’s the perfect litmus test of whether what you’re selling is worth buying. I think some people rely on the vastness of the internet to find their product and end up making spammy things that don’t sell, where in reality it’s probably not going to take off unless their friends would buy it from them.
The publisher has been the supplier of good books for her friends. The photographer who became popular has been taking her friends’ photographs for a long time. The lad who has a web development studio developed his friend’s sites. The girl with the jewellery store has been the to-go to person for nice jewellery before she had a bona fide store. My personal experience is congruent with this.
I think it’s a good way to think about small business. Think of a friend: what would you buy from them? What would you sell to them? I had a think of my friends and all they are good for is professional advice and good alcohol. Oh dear, rofl.
The social/economic mechanics of this are obvious and not worth chewing over, but it’s just a good way to think for some people who are thinking of monetising something.
What would your friends buy from you?