My Medium Journey: The Road to My First Paid Speaking Gig & Becoming an Inc.com Columnist (Plus, How You Can Do It Too)
A few weeks back, I reached two of my life’s biggest milestones. One was being accepted as a regular Inc.com columnist. The other was getting my first paid speaking gig at a conference.
Two landmarks I worked towards every single day for two and a half years came to fruition in the span of two days. One right after another. For me, it was pretty surreal.
So, why am I writing this article?
I’m not writing this article to brag about myself. In fact, quite the opposite.
I’m writing this article because I feel I’m still extremely relatable to everyone reading — if not, far behind many reading this article, in terms of business success.
Most of the time, we’re blitzed with content created by two types of people. The first type are the people who have already made it. People who’re at the pinnacle of their respective industries. People who have created and sold multi-million dollar companies.
And then there’s the other bucket of content. The kind created by people who haven’t done jack-shit in their respective industries, but swear up and down they’re qualified to speak on the topics they do.
I’m somewhere in the middle of these two types of people. I only recently went full-time into my own business. I still live in a one-room apartment. I still have to drive for Lyft some weekends to make ends meet (cut me some slack, the Bay Area is expensive as hell). I still haven’t signed the book deal I so desperately covet.
But, I do know a thing or two about social media marketing and content marketing.
Again, at this point in my career, I’m still very relatable. If I can do this, then any one can.
The last reason I’m writing this article is a corny one, but true: if even one person read this article and was able to save time from the lessons in it, it would be worth the hours I spent writing it.
If it weren’t for you all reading and sharing my content, I’d never have gotten anywhere. For that, I’m forever grateful.
Alright, now let’s get to the good stuff: how YOU can apply what I learned to meet your own goals.
1.) Pick a niche and ruthlessly stick to it
If I was only allowed to share one piece of advice, this would be it. Hands down.
We live in world absolutely saturated with content. Because of this, the human brain is constantly searching for shortcuts to help navigate the excess of information fed to it on a daily basis.
Use this to your advantage, if you want to become a thought leader you must brand yourself as the “go-to” person on a very specific topic. For me, I’m trying my very best to be the “go-to” social media guy on Medium.
If you love dogs, then try your very best to be the “go-to” dog person on Instagram Live.
Who knows, the people who consume your content just might be the curators of a large conference in your industry, the editors of a popular publication in your niche, or a business owner who could benefit from your services.
2.) Be the one who reaches out and follows up
I was driving in my car about a month ago. The traffic on the Bay Bridge was atrocious, and I was calming myself down with one of my favorite podcasts, Marketing School by Neil Patel & Eric Sui. In the episode, Neil said something that really stuck with me…
Most people think every speaker at every conference was contacted, exclusively, by the coordinator of that conference. In many cases, that’s not true. Instead, the speaker was the one who pulled the trigger by reaching out to those who ran the conference.
The next day, I spent a solid hour perfecting my speaking gig pitch, hammered it out into an email, saved it as a Canned Response, and dug up the emails of 25 conferences across the country in my niche. I sent the email to all 25, or filled out the speaker form.
In the end, I got 6 bites. 3 of those bites were from conferences which already had selected their speakers. Another 2 of those bites said in a couple months they’d be more than happy to consider me. The last 1 of those bites was perfect. They invited me to attend, said they’d pay for the hotel, and compensate me for my work there.
Important note: this principle can apply to more than just speaking gigs. It can apply to brand deals, partnerships, and more.
There’s a ton of ego in the business sector. We all want to give off the impression that everyone reached out to us because we’re in that high of demand. We’re too embarrassed to admit when it’s the other way around for fear of being deemed amateur.
The sooner you get rid of this shame, the better.
3.) Don’t be entitled
I consider myself a creator, so this is pretty difficult to say, but here goes: oftentimes, creators are very entitled. Plain and simple.
No one is so good that they should expect others to read or watch their content. In the end, the market decides. As the creator, you have to make people care about your content. You have to prove to one person after another that your work is terrific and your work ethic is even better.
The more I move upward in the ranks of content creators in my niche, the more I realize that talent plays a very minor role in the whole process. There are a million creators out there just as talented as the best. The difference is persistence and consistency.
Almost all of the people who are writing articles on Forbes, creating YouTube videos with millions of views, or top Medium posts have proven themselves time and time again.
You’re not entitled to jack squat. Just because your article is solid doesn’t mean you’re entitled to 500 Recommends. Just because your mixtape has a couple good tracks doesn’t mean you’re entitled to a record deal.
MAKE the people care. DON’T expect them to.
4.) Ask yourself, “To what end?”
Always be sure to step back and see the big picture. Why do you want to become the go-to dog guy on Instagram Live?
Is it because you have always had a passion for dogs, and want to take every single opportunity you can to spread your passion onto others?
Is it because you want to land a book deal, and you see this niche as the ripest opportunity in the market for you?
Is it because you want the opportunity to fund your dog walking business so you’re able to be at home a lot to hang out with your own dogs?
Always ask yourself why? And if you discover you’re doing this for the wrong reasons, then you might want to reconsider and re-calibrate your goals to ones more fitting for you.
Thank you to everyone for reading this article, and for being so supportive over the past year and a half on Medium :) I love you all and am excited for the future.
If you enjoyed reading this article, please share and recommend it so others can find it!
Call to Action
If you want to put yourself in the best position possible to succeed on social media, check out my booklet titled: “The 7 Mindset Shifts for Successful Social Media Marketing”.