Kill Your Good Ideas

image of a handgun

Why do some people easily get hordes of comments on their blogs and quickly build a massive following, while others struggle?

It’s not because they hit the front page of Digg.

It’s not because they’re super-connected with A-listers.

It’s not even because they’re really smart.

It’s because they kill their good ideas.

And because they kill all the “good ideas,” they don’t chase the stuff that seems to have potential, but doesn’t really matter. They only do the stuff they must do: what they’re insanely passionate about and what they were born to do.

Of course all the other things, like great headline writing, social networking, and SEO, matter too.

But they’re all secondary to caring. No amount of hype can make up for it. While you can certainly create an outward shell of success with publicity and marketing tricks, that success only lasts until the next marketing gimmick falls through.

Working toward something you genuinely care about is like laying your roots deep in the earth. Trying to fake it at something you don’t like is clutching at sand.

Faking your passion for a product is like dipping a salmon-flavored ice cream cone in chocolate and hoping no one can taste the fish.

The sad part

Every day, vast amounts of time, money, and energy are put into creating things that people don’t want and don’t care about.

Brochures and fliers are made by the millions, and when handed out, it’s like they’re saying “Here, you throw this away.” (Thanks, Mitch, for that one.)

Tons of graphic design, copywriting, marketing, and all kinds of finagling is done in attempt to sell people things they don’t really need, and could care less about.

Sometimes these efforts work, at least temporarily. But there’s always a sense of something false beneath the surface.

When you don’t care about the work you do, not only does your audience know you’re not excited, you’re also unmotivated. The work is slow and painful, because you are easily distracted. You have to psyche yourself out to start your day.

The awesome part

The good news is that there are vast amounts of amazing endeavors you can pursue right now. You don’t have to do boring work, trying to slap feel-good emotion on top of boring products.

The even better news is that when you actually care about the work you do, it’s easy to stay motivated about communicating your message. You’ll still have to figure out how to market it and how to get people’s attention, but once you do that, the heavy lifting is already done.

Plus, you can delete all that nauseating highlighted text and neon-orange, fear-based marketing.

Take a deep breath. Notice the lack of carcinogens? It’s called fresh air. That’s what authentic marketing tastes like.

Some cool side-effects of caring

The nice thing about caring about your work is that it leads directly to respect for your audience.

It feels good to know your doctor actually cares about your health. It’s nice to know that your mayor actually cares about pesticide-free drinking water, too.

Caring builds respect. It also builds trust. But most of all, it helps you connect.

If we care about the same things, you’ll probably listen to what I have to say. A relationship is formed. You open up the channels of trust and permission.

Character may almost be called the most effective means of persuasion. ~ Aristotle

Caring emanates character and builds trust; the most powerful method of persuasion.

Sure, you can slap as much marketing as you want on top of a hollow product that you really couldn’t care less about. And if you’re skilled enough, you can probably get a decent amount of people to take out their wallets.

But why not use marketing to back up something that lights your head on fire with passion? Then, all of your tools of building curiosity, persuasion, and conversion not only get people to take out their wallets, they will tell their friends.

Kill your good ideas. Don’t do what you think might be profitable. Don’t do what you think is “sensible.” Don’t do what you think you might be willing to live with.

Do what you can’t not do.

About the Author: Jonathan Mead is a professional ass-kicker (life coach), raw foodist, and student of Jeet Kune Do. He recently released a free ebook called The Zero Hour Workweek, aimed at helping people find freedom from the 9 to 5.

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Comments

  1. What a great Monday inspiration–thanks Jonathan! It first brought to mind “Murder your darlings,” (Sir Arthur Quiller-Couch), but what you’ve written is clearly about a lot more than just that, the idea that we shouldn’t get so caught up in having good ideas that we miss the whole point of actually, genuinely making the world (or a book) a better place. It takes a heck of a lot of courage to shoot down good ideas and wait for the stuff of substance–thanks for the encouragement.

  2. The key is that it’s “all secondary to caring” – passion will trump everything else when it matters.

  3. Well, this is the most inspiring article I’ve ever read. The reason why I started my blog was because I wanted to do something that I actually cared about.

    I think i can be good at anything I do, so imagine if I’m doing something that I really care about and I put my heart and soul into it. That was the idea behind my blog. And it feels great.

    In my first post ever I speak of this. I believe putting fun and care in the first place is half the work when it comes to putting together articles for your blog. Even though my blog is an online money making blog, I try to show the playful character of the blog. Jokes, smarta$$ remarks, etc. If i’m having fun writing it, the reader should have fun reading it, right!? :)

    Awesome, by the way, the quote by Aristotle: Character may almost be called the most effective means of persuasion. Loving it. ;)

    Expect a followup of this one soon @ my blog: Whenigetrich.com.

  4. Great motivation. I always find it strange reading articles on websites that get less than 100 visits a day about how to build traffic, or sites that get no search engine traffic giving “amazing SEO tips.”

    I agree that you should write about your passions. Sometimes your passion isn’t a good topic to monetize though. Do you start becoming passionate about something else to more you read about it? It is possible to build passion as you write about something you weren’t initially passionate about?

  5. Hype is really big on blog sites that talk about blogging. I’ve been reading a lot of hype. “How to create a buzz” blah blah blah. . .It’s vacuous crap.

    I was in the kitchen last week cooking dinner with my hubby, telling him how I should work on creating a “buzz.” He shot me down, saying exactly what you said.

    Then I remembered this line: “Caring means sharing”

    I want to kill my “good ideas” and share with care. . .

  6. Excellent advice! Your marketing strategy must inspire you to sell before it can inspire others to buy.

    I wrote a marketing strategy for two clients that never got used. Why? It didn’t connect with their passion.

    For my next client I will first find what they like doing already and ramp that up. Why tell someone who hates writing that they must blog? Or someone who isn’t good at video they must have a presence on Youtube?

    Instead the best marketing is the one that they actually want to do every day. Nothing is more effective.

  7. What I find particularly intriguing (that you mentioned) was that many people think that they can put all of the marketing and “push” behind something to make it successful. Whether it’s press releases, media mentions, or whatever you try to do, people can see through the clutter and will know real quick whether you’re fluff and garbage or sincere in your motives.

    This is probably why so many have a tough time getting their message across – because they’re trying to jam it down people’s throats instead of cultivating and connecting.

  8. This is one of about six blog posts I’ve read with on the topic of passion and giving a crap. I love it.

    I’m also fairly sure the universe (or at least the Internet) is trying to tell me something.

    @Blake – I personally believe that monetizing is really the least of our worries. Pursue the things you’re passionate about, and opportunities to monetize will follow. We’ll still have to work to take advantage of those opportunities, but it’s better than trying to bottleneck yourself into doing something you’re only lukewarm about. Maybe I’m an idealist, but that’s my take :)

  9. This is so true, and was proven in my own endeavors. Sometimes I’ll spend two to three hours on what I think is a great post and sure I’ll get good feedback, like 3 or 4 comments worth.

    What’s funny though, is that the posts that I spend the least time on and make the most light-hearted seem to get the most comments because people enjoy them more.

  10. Thanks for the post — fantastic! I’d reached the same conclusion myself very recently; I was learning mad amounts about business, marketing, website design, SEO, etc. as part of the business I’ve set up to sell my art. What I *wasn’t* doing was much art, which was…kind of the whole point to begin with. So I’ve largely ditched the other stuff in favor of *making art*. I figure I’ll iron the rest out — with the help of some paid assistance — “later.” It’s not something I’m worried much about putting off at this point.
    Anyway…thanks again :).

  11. I’m loving this. Like most creative folks I know, I seem to generate ‘good ideas’ at an alarming rate. Alarming because I’ll NEVER have time to follow up on all of them. But they sit there nagging me all day long. If I kill at least some of them, then I’m freed up to pursue the ones that really light my fire.

  12. Hi there Jonathan
    I look forward to receiving your emails, which bounce into my in-box around 5:30pm every evening here in London. Although i am just a baby in the blogging world, still gestating actually, your articles about how to write are gold to me. This particular one “Kill your good ideas” was both comforting and inspiring, as i have this big idea that unless you can imbue your writing with passion, commitment and love (caring) the article is devoid of magnetic pull. My gratitude is enormous in the way you provide common sense and technique … thanks!!

  13. This is a TERRIFIC post, thank you! It is so, so true.

    Besides, when you’re passionate, writing is so much more fun! Isn’t that true in life?

    Also, the people who give a crap are your readers. I LOVE my readers because they are passionate about what I’m passionate about. Don’t just shoot for quantity. Shoot for quantity of quality! :)

  14. Jonathan,

    This was an OUTSTANDING post that we all need to be reminded of again and again. We can do all the marketing research in the world, but ultimately, it comes down to whether you’re doing something you’re truly passionate about or not.

    Amazingly, I think we all do a great job of convincing ourselves that this is NOT the case. We constantly tell ourselves to “be realistic” and that surely it can’t be profitable if it’s THIS MUCH FUN!

    Great post – one that we all need to keep hearing again and again.

  15. All I can is this is the influential post!

    Its absolutely true that caring can creates a superb relationship with your readers. It also shows ur passion in every post that you wrote.

    I absolutely agreed with you. :)

  16. Great post ,
    Just tweeted ; “Faking your passion for a product is like dipping a salmon-flavored ice cream cone in chocolate and hoping no one can taste the fish. “ ( hope it drives many to read your content)

    I plan to use that again!

    Passion is a secret weapon, and we should run to it, not away from it. I have been trying to implement your advice in my blog http://www.nosmokeandmirrors.com , like my post today about entrepreneurs needing to avoid “marketing tools” . When I connect to something that is a passion though, I feel a bit of risk. Do readers want it real? Or should I “professionalize it”

    Thank you,

    Mark Allen Roberts
    http://www.outbsolutions.com

  17. This is exactly where I am: trying to breathe life into something that’s been gnawing at me for the past two years. Will it work out? Maybe, maybe not. I’ll never be a blogging rock star, but I don’t want that. I want to do something worthwhile. Not doing it isn’t an option.

    Thank you for this, Jonathan; your timing is perfect.

  18. Oh my gosh, this couldn’t have come at a better time. I have actually been thinking about throwing in the towel on my pet project because I didn’t think anyone was interested. Now I know that I just need to show my passion to my prospective audience. THANK YOU!

  19. Even the most innocuous or frivolous topics can become profitable when you are acting on your passion. Case in point: a friend started a blog on nail polish because that was her passion. In less than a year she is making money on the site plus gets hundreds of dollars of free products every month from manufacturers. It had never even occurred to her that she might make money with her blog.

    @ Jeffrey – maybe you are an idealist but I’m with you!

    Loved the post!

  20. Johnathan, my blog has very little traffic (I just started it a few weeks ago.) But I love what I do, which is helping others with their business. Current clients constantly refer others to me because I always give more than my clients expect. So I know my blog will grow.

    You said, “Caring builds respect. It also builds trust. But most of all, it helps you connect.” I so agree.

    Now if headlings, social marketing, and SEO were as easy for me as connecting.

  21. Fantastic article! It is so easy to talk about the things we are passionate about, and so incredibly hard to generate enthusiasm for products or services that we don’t believe in. I have my own company so that I can make that choice.
    Thanks and congratulations, Jonathan!

  22. Great post and a true go-getter for a somber Monday morning! Being passionate about your work does emanate from your finished product. People often tell me they can feel my warmth and bubbly personality bursting off my blog pages. In the end, passion=success! To ever become a presence in the blogosphere, you have to truly love what you’re doing!

  23. I also liked the point about how hard it is to get yourself moving if you don’t have passion in some form.

  24. I agree with everything you said 110 percent.

    The only thing I’m concerned is that people reading your article go on blogging about their passion…

    … without considering whether there are others who share the same passion with them!

    That won’t happen to our smart copyblogger readers, but just in case, let me add this…

    More than just being passionate about your topic, being passionate about helping people is what’s really going to drive you to success. Which means you are willing to adjust and change to find a match between what you like and what your market wants.

    Because ultimately, business is about people.

  25. I totally agree, Charles. The passion has to be there on both sides.

  26. Wow this really struck a nerve with me (a good one). It is so easy to jump into new ideas and chase rabbits all over the place. This gets at finding where your true purpose and passion lie. Following them always brings success!
    Karen

  27. You are right-on!
    My head and heart and soul are on fire with passion for what I do, and it’s mostly about inspiring other people to do something for someone other than themselves. And I do see traffic steadily building, so I guess I can keep the gun under my pillow – no, I really don’t have one.

  28. Very well said, Johnathan. We can all fall so easily into that trap of doing things because everyone else is doing them or see it working for someone else but it does all really come back to is it YOU. Thanks for sharing and I’m glad I had the opportunity to read this today and keep on the right track.

    @charles: You bring up a good point there and it is so true. If we like some “off-the-wall” thing and we are the only ones reading or writing about it…it is probably not going to go very far.

    Aaron

  29. @ Jeffrey Tang – I’m not saying that you should blog about something that you aren’t passionate about. You’ll burn out after 10 posts; however, I do think that people interested in making money might become passionate about something new they never knew about.

    For example, I didn’t know the slightest thing about blogging or webpage design before I started blogging. I’ve started becoming more passionate about blogging, webpage design, etc.. Some of what started that desire to learn was the potential profit. The more I’ve learned the more excited I get.

    If you visit my site you’ll see I’m hardly worried about profit at the moment (I only use Adsense and only sparingly at that).

    @Leanne – I totally disagree that nail polish seems like something that wouldn’t have a market to be monetized. Actually, I think it’s an amazing product because there isn’t a ton of competition out there blogging about nail polish.

    When you go to buy nail polish, would you trust the sales page you see on every product’s site, or would you trust the person blogging about her experience with each product?

    I wasn’t saying that you should blog for money and that you shouldn’t be passionate. Rereading my comment, I can see that I wasn’t clear with my meaning…

    Like Charles said, blogging about something very few people are interested in with little potential to help others will turn into an online diary about something very off topic. That is something I think is pointless.

    When I started blogging, I was passionate about telling people about cool (free) things I found online. While blogging and reading about blogging, I’ve learned more about certain topics I never knew I had a passion for and have become more passionate about those things.

  30. I enjoyed reading this. I have a couple of plans for websites that I feel will be a good contribution to the Internet, because I want to live off my own creativity and be able to give to others. Most people seem to consider that strange and unrealistic, so I appreciate a little encouragement. I think we all do. Thanks.

  31. “Do what you love and the money will follow” may not be true, but neither is focusing on the money and forgetting about passion.

    I wanted to like analytics and testing. I think all marketers need to have them in their toolbox, and there’s a business opportunity for someone to assist those who don’t have the skill set.

    I just don’t like it enough to be doing it all the time, which makes it the wrong business opportunity for me.

  32. It’s all about having the passion for what you do! All the rest just falls into place :D

  33. Jonathan,

    This is a great post, and very inspiring. Truly what inspires you and that which you have passion for drives you.

    “If we care about the same things, you’ll probably listen to what I have to say. A relationship is formed. You open up the channels of trust and permission.”

    This sage advice… thank you for sharing this.

  34. Passion for your purpose is what counts. Thanks for the great article.

  35. This is timely. I’ve written an ebook (who hasn’t), but I decided to ditch the great marketing and product development advice to just slam it out in MS Word in 13 hours and hype it up.

    Instead, I’m working with a professional typesetter, and we’re building this ebook out into a work of art.

    And I’m not giving it away either. It will be sold for a reasonable price given the information it contains, and not by page count.

    Above all, it’s turning into a work of art. Something I will really enjoy selling. And I probably won’t make as much off it (right away) as if I punched it out in a day or two, but I’m ok with that. Maybe I’m being indulgent, but my passion for truly excellent design won’t be stymied!

  36. Wow! Good points Jonathan. I 100% agree with your post. Most of the times we should kill our good ideas and continue doing what we need to do if we want to see the real results. Let’s just be realistic!

  37. It is so true that we should voice out our own ideas that makes it different from others, this way the readers will be interested to find out more about you and your ideas too.

  38. [quote]Tons of graphic design, copywriting, marketing, and all kinds of finagling is done in attempt to sell people things they don’t really need, and could care less about.[/quote]

    “Could” care less about?

    I stopped reading here. I couldn’t care less about the opinion of someone who doesn’t know the difference between could and couldn’t.

    Write what you know and/or are passionate about is one of the first rules of writing. That sounds like a “good idea” to me. Yet, according to the title, I should “kill” that good idea.

    Perhaps you should stick to being a “professional ass-kicker” and leave the writing to those who are passionate about being well-written and informed.

  39. Great post Jonathon.
    Being authentic and passionate are keys to great writing. Having a real intimate sense of your target market and trying to get in their shoes (even if they don’t really fit) so that they feel you know and care.

  40. Great article. I agree, if you are not passionate about what you are writing why bother and why would others bother reading it.

    I am the dad half of our blog and I feel I put my full passion into every article I write. Hope others see it that way also.

    You guys have a Great Blog! Thanks for sharing.

  41. Hey Jonathan …

    Your this post give relax to my brain muscles and now I am feeling light.

    Going to your blog to see whats you have more …

  42. I started a consulting biz 6 years ago because it was a better match to what I cared about. I was exhilarated. Gigs, money, learning, joy… Being sincerely excited about what you’re doing DOES draw others to you.
    Then, over time I evolved. Tension set in. I wanted to stay where I was, it was working. But I as I allowed myself to go with what had evolved, once again, more gigs, money, learning, joy… That’s good to know. I evolve, therefore I am. Love this article. Thank you!

  43. It’s amazing the difference there is when you are actually passionate about something. It’s just like writing, if your not into the article or post or whatever, people will notice. It comes through in your writing.

  44. Totally agree. I’ve just gone through a redirection of my blog. I’d grown unmotivated about my topic so I decided to stop and look at why. What I uncovered was that I was going in the right direction with my blog but not quite on the right path. I switched paths, killed some good ideas and have been powering along ever since. Best part is, my readership has started to grow much faster as a result.

  45. Excellent post Jonathan! You can tell in someones writing whether they care about the subject or writing for the sake of it. With this in mind, even if you write things that aren’t for you, or to promote something you aren’t a specialist in, their are angles to take that make it interesting and make people read on.

  46. You are so right on. The importance of getting your message accross in your title is not only keyword focus but what the customer needs and can find it fast without being decieved!

  47. Thanks Jonathan. It’s nothing like doing something you love. You’ll continue to work on the project with happiness instead of drudgery.

  48. I agree with you- I am ready to dump my whole social media network and all my followers and start over. I need to be surrounded by people that feel this way.