How to Properly Quit Your Job

Opening Thoughts

August, 2023 at Progressive Field in Cleveland, OH. Joe (me), Jensen Lewis (former Guardians pitcher) and Boat (our hero).

It’s been an interesting couple weeks. The previous Sunday I was able to see the Cleveland Browns win a home opener (first time since 2004). Then, this last Monday, I saw a devastating injury to the greatest running back I’ve ever seen play (Nick Chubb). My heart is still hurting about that. A game is just a game. I’m over that part. But I still can’t stop thinking about that kid and what he’s going through.

Special shout out to my friend Bryan Blankenship. We were able to see Bryan, aka Boat, receive the First Energy Hero’s Award (where he’s worked for 30 years) during a Cleveland Guardians game (see picture above from that event). Someone was choking at a restaurant and Boat performed the Heimlich maneuver to dislodge the food. Boat said it was no big deal. Superman would say the same thing.

We already have 100 tickets sold to the Orange Effect Foundation’s first-ever Night at the Races. The event is November 3rd in Cleveland. It’s going to be so much fun for a great cause. Can you make it? Here’s the link.

Speaking season is upon us. Next week I’ll be in DC for Content Marketing World and then in Boston for MarketingProfs B2B. If you are in marketing I recommend both events.

How to Properly Quit Your Job

Next week I’ll be presenting at Content Marketing World in DC. My wife and I (and an amazing group of people) started CMW in 2011. This is the first year the event is not in Cleveland. I’m a bit sad about this move, but I totally get it. It’s so much easier to attract international travelers to a location like DC (direct flights in many cases). That said, I’m a Cleveland homer and want CLE to succeed (which is why our new event, Creator Economy Expo, will be in Cleveland in May).

Instead of doing the same old “here’s how to be great at content marketing” speech, I decided to do something completely different. Over the past 12 months, I’ve been approached by so many marketers looking to leave the corporate world and start their own content businesses. I figure there will be many of these people at CMW as well. So, that’s my speech: The Blueprint on How to Quit Your Marketing Job.

I didn’t know if the speech would be accepted but it was. They probably just said, “let the old man do whatever he wants.” Also, if an attendee is there with their co-workers, will they want to be seen going into my session?

Anyway, here’s a running list I put together on how to quit your marketing job and start a content business.

1. Don’t quit your job until you’ve starting the process of quitting your job (see below).
2. Most fail. You need to know that. Half won’t make it five years.
3. Those that do make it (as content creators) are incredibly happy (only two percent regret the decision).
4. First thing’s first: Nail your story. Being a generalist doesn’t work. What’s your expertise? What will you be known for?
5. Think about: Who your specific audience will be? What will you send them? What do you want them to achieve?
6. Focus on something you can be amazing at and forget the rest.
7. Start before you quit: find the story, start your newsletter (maybe a website as well), build out your presence on LinkedIn. Be great at one platform.
8. If you have proprietary processes with your company (that don’t belong to the company) save them on a personal drive.
9. Write down your goals and review them often. What do you see this becoming? How will you measure success?
10. Talk to your family. When you start a business, everyone is involved (like it or not).
11. Put aside at least six months of expenses.
12. Find a good accountant and lawyer.
13. Begin the process of lowering your expenses. Things like going to one car or ending one or two streaming services.
14. Actually start the legal side of the business (LLC?). You can do this before you quit.
15. Separate your accounting and finances now. Get a business credit card.
16. What will you do about insurance?
17. Check the agreement you have with your current company. What can you do with a business while you are still working a day job?
18. Make three lists: Mentors (people who’ve done it – successfully or not) to set up coffee meetings. Contacts (who can help refer business to you in the future) and Future Clients (who can help support your business financially in the future). Keep these lists fresh.
19. Generate revenue before you leave your job. The quicker to revenue the more likelihood for success.
20. When you are a month or so out (but make sure you are ready) have a conversation with your boss. “I love working here…but I’d like to start my own business in the future.” Your goal, if possible, is for your current company to be your first customer.
21. Build your internal network at your company now. Odds are your first job will come via someone at your current company. The more internal champions the better.
22. The most successful content creators who leave a “real” job have many ways they generate revenue. The more the better. Top five are consulting, books, online courses and workshops, affiliate marketing and sponsorship.

If you see something that I missed, please email me. There is still time to update the presentation.

Please Buy Books a Different Way

There was a group of us that started out as entrepreneurs between 2006 and 2008. The model, at that time for content creators, was having a blog at the core. Once the blog was up and running, creators generally developed email newsletters to ensure direct communications with the audience.

Subscriptions, sponsorships, premium content offers, affiliate links…it all worked depending on the model. I signed up to Twitter in 2007 and it became an amazing driver of traffic to my blog and email newsletter. I joined LinkedIn in 2006, which is hard to believe, and that drove a trickle of traffic here and there as well. But social at that time was nothing too serious. We were experimenting and trying to figure it out. The core became the enewsletter.

We reached 10,000 email subscribers, which enabled us to start charging some serious rates for sponsorship. Then, when we launched our events in 2011, we had the database already, and people came…we almost hit $1 million in sales for our event in the first year. Again, hard to believe.

Everyone’s model was a little different, but the core idea was that creators, bloggers, and newsletter operators controlled the data and built an asset. Having control over the distribution is always the key.

Today, we find the opposite. Most content creators out there do not control distribution. They are YouTubers, on TikTok, on Instagram. These creators must go through gatekeepers to get to their audience. The rules could change at any time.

And I don’t blame these creators at all. It would make no sense to create a video series and put it on your new website. It would be extremely difficult to get people to see it. While you have 100 percent control, you have no reach. With, say YouTube, the reach is there. You just need to consistently do the right things to get them to see it, follow you, and become a regular part of your YouTube audience. Btw, I say YouTube audience because, at this point, it’s not your audience. Semantics, maybe, but important.

In the past few weeks I’ve been chatting with a few authors about coming on board to beta test our new product, Tilt Publishing, an imprint and publishing service for content creators. Basically, we’ll help them get their books edited, designed, and then distributed. There is a belief with, I would say most authors today, that you can’t sell or distribute a book without Amazon. Again, like YouTube and Instagram, Amazon owns the connection to the customer, whether the sale comes directly from Amazon or the author sends a person to Amazon. When I sell a book on Amazon, I see that a unit was purchased, but I will never know who purchased it. Amazon keeps that information. Whoever holds the data controls the asset.

I believe this lack of clarity with data must stop or content creators are going to be in a world of trouble with their business models. Try selling your content business without any customer data. Oh, you’ll be able to sell it, but it will be at a discount.

Creators might not be able to do this alone. The buyers, the supporters or fans of the creator need to help.

And that’s the purpose of this story. If you follow and love someone on YouTube, please sign up for their newsletter or offer where you give your email address. Same for TikTok, Instagram, podcast, etc.

The same goes for books. If one of the people you follow just wrote a book, don’t run to Amazon. Go to their website and purchase the book directly from them. Not only will they make more money, but they’ll get your data, which will be a boost to their overall business model. It makes such a difference.

So, however we got ourselves into this mess, it IS indeed a mess. But we can fix it, one creator example at a time.

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