Are You Comparing More than Sharing?
Something that I continue to feel led to do through this podcast is to keep it real. That means that I’m to share about the things that writers love to hear about … and the things that they might want to ignore.
Please know that these messages are always every bit as much for me as for anyone else.
Today I’m going to keep it real by talking about comparison, specifically how it hinders us and what we can do to combat it, and 5 ways that Jesus models effective marketing for our God-given messages.
What the Bible Says About Comparing Ourselves and Our Work to Others
This spring, I’ve been reading through the Old Testament of the Bible. One thing that stood out to me was that after the Israelites finally entered the Promised Land, they didn’t all get equal portions of land.
Each tribe of Israel received the amount of land that was suitable for the size of the clan. They didn’t grumble about it. Why should they? Each unique plot of ground offered exactly what they needed.
It got me to thinking: That’s how it’s supposed to be for us as writers, as well:
- We’re not all supposed to be international bestsellers.
- We’re not all supposed to be traditionally published.
- We’re not all supposed to write 50 different books.
- We’re not all supposed to have podcasts.
- We’re not all supposed to do in-person speaking tours.
But each of us IS given a particular message for a particular audience in our particular seasons of life.
Nevertheless, we tend to become discontent with what we have and start comparing ourselves to other writers. We compare
- our messages,
- our audience levels,
- our marketing strategies,
- our book sales,
- our income levels,
- the list could go on and on.
While it’s good to learn from the successes and failures of others, it’s dangerous to wade into the waters of comparison.
Maybe you’ve never struggled with comparison, but I have and it’s no fun.
Jealousy and pity parties are sure-fire ways to stall our effectiveness as both Christians and writers.
Comparison also negatively affects how we love others.
Recently I taught a lesson on 1 John 3:10-24 to the elementary-aged kids at church.
As part of the Sunday School lesson, I was to drive home the point of true love through an illustration about gift giving. How we shouldn’t:
- Pick out the cheapest gift at the Dollar store
- Stop giving gifts to people who don’t give us gifts in return.
- Give gifts to impress others (not just the recipient)
- Prioritize our gift giving to those who can then give us better gifts than we give them.
- Give gifts grudgingly; only giving because we’re obligated to.
I think this applies to us as authors as well, particularly when it comes to social media:
- We record something randomly on the fly or slap something together quickly on Canva without much thought – it’s the equivalent of a cheap gift.
- We stop following people who don’t follow us back.
- We only share things that we feel will impress others (things we own, places we go, perfectly curated feed)
- We go out of our way to offer extra value to particular people in our niche we believe might benefit us in some way
- We share grudgingly; we don’t want to be on social but everyone in the industry says that’s how we’re supposed to market our books.
If we’re honest, sometimes our focus online isn’t to share our God-given story, help others, or love others, but to
- gain more followers
- impress others and
- get more email subscribers.
So let me ask you: What’s your real motivation behind being on social media and marketing your books in general?
- Are you trying to be like so-and-so?
- Are you simply trying to please your literary agent or publisher?
- Or are you there to humbly share your God-given message?
5 Effective Marketing Strategies
Now that we’ve gotten real (and a bit uncomfortable), let’s turn to Christ and look to Him as our marketing model!
#1 Go to your people.
Jesus went to where the people were. He went to the synogogues. He went to the cities. He went to the small towns. He went to the countryside. He spoke in people’s homes and outside on riverbanks. He spoke 1:1 privately and 1:many in public crowds. Where are you going to engage with your readers?
#2 Customize your message.
Jesus customized His message to His various audiences. Chances are good that you have an ideal reader, but you also have outliers as well. For example, as a book coach, I serve indie authors of all ages and stages — those who have been writing awhile are familiar with all the industry terminology while those who are just getting started have no idea what certain terms mean. It’s best for me to customize my message to these two different audiences so that one isn’t bored and the other isn’t confused.
#3 Speak – and act – in love.
Jesus spoke truth in love and acted in love.
Are you skipping the tough truth parts of your message so that it will be better received by a wider audience? Or maybe you’re sharing the truth of your message … but in a way that’s more self-righteous and judgmental than humble and helpful.
If you’re not sure how you’re presenting your message, ask a trusted mentor to listen to your message and share how you might be coming across.
#4 Consistently promote your work.
Jesus confidently shared His message, not just once or twice, but regularly.
My toes are stepped on with this one. I’m notorious for hesitantly sharing once about something and then moving on to another topic. Often, especially when it comes to social media, it’s because I don’t have time to schedule supplementary/corresponding posts over a period of days and weeks. This is where a VA or social media manager would be extremely beneficial, but I’m just not there yet.
Another reason, though, is because I think that people will tire of hearing similar content over and over again.
And yet another reason is fear. If I stay small and don’t put myself or my message out there regularly, there will be less of a chance of being mocked or ridiculed, which ties into the final point.
#5 Don’t stop when you get a negative comment or review.
Jesus didn’t expect everyone to follow Him or “get” His message.
As a recovering people pleaser, I tend to want everyone to like me – including on social media. But the reality is that numbers of followers don’t mean much. Even traditional publishers now understand that engagement – the conversations that happen between people online – is what’s most important. So I’m speaking to myself when I say, “Don’t expect everyone to like you, follow you, or agree with your message.”
People said negative things to Jesus and they’ll say negative things to – and about – us and our messages. But that’s not supposed to stop us from stepping out in faith and sharing our stories.
May we be willing to share freely. May we stop comparing and start sharing out of a desire to help others. May the words we speak bring joy, hope, and truth to our listeners.
And finally, as the apostle John wrote in verse 18, “let us not love in word or in tongue, but in deed and in truth.”
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So what’s a Christian writer?
It’s anyone who is a Christian who writes. You don’t have to be writing a Bible study or devotional to join, just be a professing Christian who writes clean, God-honoring blogs and books. All genres and writing levels are welcome.
The general membership is free, and enables you to connect with fellow Christian writers. Ask questions, celebrate successes and ask for prayer 24/7. It’s like a Facebook group, but off of social media.
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Don’t keep writing alone. Why not connect with other like minded writers?
Learn more about the Inkwell Collective. On that landing page, you will see a video tutorial so you get to see actually what it looks like inside. You can join for free to get a feel for it and see if you like it.
Come get connected with other Christian writers who don’t just support each other, but also encourage each other and grow in the Lord together.