I Want You To Know About the Mistake I Made

Aaron McHugh

Always Be Closing-Alec Baldwin
Always Be Closing-Alec Baldwin

Yep, I’ve just recently learned how I single-handedly created a lost opportunity.

I choose not to listen to conventional wisdom.

I choose to chart my own path.

I choose to experiment and try something that went against the grain.

I choose to politely listen to other people but to ignore their advice.

What was my mistake? 

I gave away my eBook for six months and asked nothing in return from my reader.

I did not require an email address or a sign up for my blog updates.

I simply gave it away.

I choose to run an experiment to see if the content was worth a trade.

At first I was not sure.

I’d never written or created anything like this before.

Truthfully I didn't really know if it was any good.

In some ways by giving it away for free I was testing the populous to determine it’s worth.

It felt less risky to say; here you go I hope this encourages you without requiring anything in return.

What drove my decision? 

Now, six months later, I realize it was my own self-doubt that drove my decision.

Second to self-doubt was rebellion.

I am not an aimless follower.  I never have been.

I am generally more comfortable charting new trails than trying to walk the heavily traveled wide-path.

As a result I can be a real pain-in-the-ass.

Take one part self-doubt, combine that with one equal part pioneer and an extra dash of rebellion and you get this decision.

Don’t get me wrong, I’m happy being me.

And some days I come with a list of resulting challenges and limitations.

Here is what I learned

1. Have ten trusted people preview your work.

If they say it’s good-trust them. 
If they say it needs more work-trust them. If they say it’s better for your own personal enjoyment-trust them.

  1. 2. Don’t ship until you are ready to put your name on it.  

I picture this like a see a trade show exhibit.

If I were the only guy standing in 10 x 10 booth along an aisle of 5000 other exhibitors would I be proud to stand in front of my work?
If not, fix it before you ship.

3. Don’t dismiss the current wisdom of the day.

Use the proven method that produces a desirable result.  Don’t try and create a new method.
My method was, if it is any good they will come back for more.

Guess what?  They didn’t, they don’t and they won’t.

The truth of the matter is that people are busy and there is always another guy with a blog and an eBook.

In the great words of Alec Baldwin from the movie Glengary Glen Ross “ABC. Always-be-closing”.  

Take the opportunity to close the deal when you have the opportunity.  In sales you never come back tomorrow, you close it now.

4. Being generous is good

I am proud that my experiment of giving away my eBook was also rooted in generosity.
I was genuine in my desire to help change the world I live in by allowing my idea to be transmitted freely.

I want my experience to benefit other people regardless of whether or not I get anything in direct return.

What now?

Staring last week, you will now find a sign-up form in order to receive the download link to Don’t Quit Your Job. Fire Your Boss.

I hope this encourages you in your own journey as you sort out which road to choose today.

Keep going.

  • Great post, Aaron. I can identify with the rebellion, not wanting to just blindly follow, but equally marinated in a lashing of self-doubt thing.

    I’ve been subscribed to your RSS feed for ages, and I actually remember getting your ebook and being slightly disappointed that you didn’t require an email address in return for it. Strange as I often don’t like having to do that trade. But I think on some level it shows that you’re serious about the mailing list, that you care about it, and that you offer even more value in exchange for prolonged attention (especially if you email out exclusive member only content).

    There are certain email lists that I love belonging to because I get something consistent and great in my inbox every week. I love reading your insights and I don’t think there’s anyone who would complain about you sending them the occasional encouraging email update!

    Basically, what I’m trying to say is…great decision! People need more McHugh in their inbox!

    • Andy-so good to hear this. I appreciate the backdrop of your experience when getting my ebook. I didn’t really think thru what else it might be communicating by not requiring an email trade. “Here you go, it’s probably crap, so I don’t need anything for it”.
      Wisdom is knowing what not to do right? Now I know. Thanks for your support Andy. Sharing ideas is risky.
      Going Pro-Steven Pressfield has really helped me in this journey.

  • Mark Billingslea

    Aaron, thanks for the honest self-disclosure. I find my motives and motivations always need filtering.

    • Mark-agreed motives are very telling. thanks for the comment and checking this out.

  • Enjoyed your post Aaron. As someone who also creates lots of content, I understand the dilemma of whether to give the information away or require at least an email address. I want to keep in touch with my readers so require them to register for eBooks and white papers. Of course they can read blogs, articles, etc. without registering.
    As for the quality issue, having read your eBook, I thought it was informative and thought-provoking. Many people sit on their good works due to fear they are not good enough. And while it’s a fine idea to get input from a few trusted friends, it is usually better to launch when the author feels it is ready instead of waiting until it is “perfect.” As Voltaire said, “Perfect is the enemy of the good”.

    • Yeah good word Chris. Perfect is an enemy. I’m going to continue to error on the side of generosity and authenticity in providing my work. When its not my livelihood that also provides an ease to what I get to do. Thanks for weighing in on the topic. I need to get you that eBook endorsement. Keep going