July 11th, 2013 by Bob Bly
Confession time: I am an inferior human being … meaning I come
up short in almost every category by which people are measured.
Every day, I look around and see people who are more athletic
than me … better-looking … taller … smarter … thinner … kinder …
more personable … wealthier … healthier … more well-adjusted …
Whatever I do professionally – copywriting, book writing,
speaking, information marketing, consulting – there are others
who are more successful and make much more money at it than I do
(though in one of these vocations not many others and not that
much more money).
How do I live with myself knowing that I am so inferior?
The secret is that you can be lousy at 99.9% of things and still
have a happy and successful life – at long as you are good at
just a few or perhaps even only one thing.
As far as I know, Paul Simon is good at only music. He’s
certainly not the biggest, strongest, or best-looking guy on the
Also, most fans listening to his music would agree that Paul
Simon doesn’t have the best voice and isn’t the greatest singer
in the world.
But Paul Simon has enough people who like his songs and his
singing to give him a lucrative and successful music career.
You do not have to be the best there is at what you do to make a
great living at it. SR is a great example.
SR is a professional stand-up comic who decided to make the
transition to more lucrative performing as a corporate
I have heard SR do both comedy and speaking. He is not the
funniest comic I have ever heard. He is not the best
motivational speaker I have ever heard.
But he IS the funniest motivational speaker I have ever heard.
So he makes a great living speaking for meeting planners who
want a motivational speaker who can also make their audience
What most people don’t realize is that you don’t have to possess
nearly as many fans as Paul Simon to make a lot of money and
live well from your work.
I think it was Seth Godin who observed that if you have just
10,000 fans, you can make a great living and have a successful
For instance, if you have an e-list with 10,000 subscribers, and
can convince each to spend just $100 a year with you, you will
gross annual sales of a million dollars.
Ten thousand people are hardly a big fan base; Bon Jovi probably
has millions of fans. You do not need a huge fan base to succeed
at whatever it is you do.
If you are a freelance copywriter, and tomorrow 10% of the
Fortune 500 wanted you to write copy for them, you would be
overwhelmed and could not handle a fraction of the workload.
You simply do not need every company out there to consider you
the top copywriter. You only need a few who like what you do
well enough to want you to work on their promotions.
And even those few companies do not have to consider you the
“best” at what you do. They simply have to feel that your
service is a good fit for what they want.
Years ago, when I did some consulting work for Dow Chemical,
they shared with me that they were producing 778 print ads,
brochures, catalogs, press releases, data sheets, and other
marketing documents that year.
If you were a copywriter back then and Dow was your only client,
they could keep you busy and profitable round the clock – and do
the same for ten other copywriters at the same time. And that’s
just one client.
So if it helps you, I want you to know:
1-You can be middling to poor at most things and still have a
successful life and career.
2-You don’t even have to be the best at what you ARE good at to
have a successful life and career. You just have to offer
something that other people want.
3-You don’t have to have throngs of admirers. In many instances
10,000 fans, 100 customers, or 10 clients or less can keep you
busy and profitable all year long.
If all this is of some comfort to you, and stops you from
fretting about what you think are your shortcomings, then I have
achieved my goal.
This entry was posted on Thursday, July 11th, 2013 at 3:05 pm and is filed under General. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. You can leave a response, or trackback from your own site.