The power and perils of the pivot


By Mars Dorian, {grow} Contributing Columnist

The last month has been a hovertrain ride of good/bad emotions. After seven months of emotional labor, I’ve published my first sci-fi novel and released the baby to the world. Sounds like a zero-brainer, given that I’m in love with writing and storytelling, but it turned out to be a big-brainer for one reason:

I run a semi-successful blog on creatives making a living online while showcasing my digital illustration work, geared towards clients in the social media / blogging crowd. It’s been the focus of my last years, and it’s continuing to pay for the bread and beer on my table. But as much as I like the work itself, I dislike the idea of waiting for clients to discover me — I often feel like a kiddo asking his parents for permission to do something:

“Can I haz some work, plz?”
About a year ago, I worked on the side to change my biz future.

I guess I’m going through what is known as pivoting — changing your business model because of client feedback and market demands. Long story super-short, I’m switching from a creative freelancer model to an indie author model, self-publishing books while facing all the challenges and facepalms that come with the transition.

With any change comes danger and opportunity, and I want to share mine.

I’m losing clients.

pivot2Positioning is essential to attract your right clients. If they don’t know what you stand for, or why you have the credentials to help them, you’re roadkill zapped by an invisibility ray.

I’ve experienced this first-hand. My past biz consisted of mostly digital illustration work and coaching (aspiring) clients to create their own, global creative career. But with the current switch to indie publishing, that clear positioning has been watered down. One coaching client told me she thought she landed on the wrong website because of the changed design and focus. I don’t want to know how many clients I lost because they are confused about my offer.

I am alienating my blog readers.

In my last post for {grow}, I wrote about neglecting business blogging because of its diminishing value to me.

pivotFor four years, I’ve blogged twice per week, writing about blogging (cough) and sharing my experiences of being a full-time, freelancing creative. I received fan mail from around the globe thanking me for sharing my expertise and thus indirectly helping them out with their creative career.

It was good for the heart and bad for the wallet, so I mainly focused on expanding my illustration portfolio for the last two years. And with my new shift into indie publishing, the blogging confusion has reached a new level.

First I drop the blogging frequency from twice per week to only once per month (if at all) and now I even neglect the creative freelancer topics and babble about sci-fi stories and self-publishing.

What the hex ?

I’m stuck between two worlds.

pivotI’m not making enough money as an indie author to justify the amount of time I spend on writing. And yet, I don’t want my blog to look like a creative business blog when my new fiction readers want to inquire about me and scratch their heads wondering where the sci-fi author is.

Thus, I’m stuck in the twilight zone — my website is a mix between my older, creative career and an author-friendly site that showcases my storytelling and fiction. And with my passion for marketing, I know the watered-down mix is a dangerous place to be!

I’m still in the awkward stage of traversing the zone from “how to be a successful creative online” biz blogger to an illustrating, indie sci-fi author. I wish I had all the answers to making the leap, but I don’t. If you want to share some tips on making the transition more successful, I’m thankful for your advice.

Mars Dorian describes himself as a creative marketeer with a moon-melting passion for human potential and technology. You can follow his adventures at Original illustration by the author.

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