I don’t believe that journalists are the medium through which news is born but more like a filter—there’s a little of the reporter in every article. If you aren’t clear about who you could (and couldn’t) get in touch with, the facts you could (and couldn’t) find out, you’re obstructing the truth.
It’s easy to be transparent when I’m succeeding. I loved writing about my big wins in my The Inside Story column earlier this year and gushing about how I triumphantly pitched CNN. But when I screw something up, whether that be a typo, a fact error, or a story that’s less objective than it ought to be, I’d rather take a vow of silence and wait for people to forget about it.
Which is why I struggled with telling you this: I didn’t sell a SINGLE copy of my Building a Beat workbook. Not one.
I had high hopes for this workbook. The second of eight that make up my e-course, this is better researched and higher quality advice than I usually put into blog posts. More than 2,500 words of guidance that you can use right now, plus worksheets. And while there’s lots of advice for journalists online, for free even, how much of that is targeted exclusively toward aspiring geek and subculture journalists? Everyone I talked to about it sounded excited. And based on the survey, I really thought a lot of people were interested in buying it.
Having almost a week to process this rolicking failure has made me see my hubris. Here are some of the marketing mistakes I made:
- I went too fast. After neglecting my blog for a year, I came back and tried to monetize it with products. I need to win readers’ trust back first.
- I referred to the course in chapters of one big product. I thought this made it sound more cohesive, but it sounds more like you have to buy all of them to get anything out of them, when really, each workbook is on a different topic and stands alone.
- I didn’t market enough. I really just put this out there. I didn’t send press releases because 1) I thought it was too soon with only one workbook out and 2) As a journalist, I hardly look at press releases that get sent to me. I should have sent personalized emails to journalism blogs that I wanted to write about my product.
- At $10 for 18 pages of content, I probably priced this too high.
I’m sure there’s more I haven’t been able to see yet. But for now, here’s what I’m going to do to at least try to fix things:
- I’m going to keep the price at $5 permanently instead of bringing it up to $10.
- I created a sales page that makes it obvious that each workbook stands alone. I stopped referring to the workbooks as “chapters.”
- I’m not going to break my back over these any more. I’ll release the workbooks I already wrote (everything up to Effective Interview Techniques) by Feb. 13, and take a hiatus while I see how people respond. Instead, I’ll focus on writing more free content.
I was worried you’d think I’m pathetic for having to put up this post at all. I could have just neglected to share this setback, and you’d be none the wiser. But even though the Internet lets us edit our public selves more carefully than ever before, I think the whole point of having a blog is to share my honest self, the better to connect with people. And just maybe, sharing my failings make my rare successes that much more worth celebrating.
Anyone else want to share a failure (blogging or otherwise) in the comments? Believe me, I won’t judge.
(Photo via [ heather ] on Flickr.)