The Myth of Merit

Note to self (and maybe a few others): I have some bad news… You know that thing you’ve made? The one you poured your heart and soul into? The one that you’re proud of, but that isn’t quite performing as well you’d like? That thing that you’re just waiting for the right person to find and share? That thing you know people would love if only they’d give it a shot. You’re killing its chances. You’re failing your idea. You’re expecting it to do the impossible.


As much as you hate to even have to acknowledge this, it doesn’t matter how good your idea, your product, your video, your ebook, your podcast or even your site is. If you haven’t put an equal or greater amount of thought into how you plan to get the word out, chances are no one will ever even know it existed nonetheless care enough about it to share it with others. Sure, great ideas spread, but more often than not, the ones that do are backed by a strong network and a very sound marketing strategy.

But marketing your work feels wrong…

Get over it. True artists often hate to promote, they want the world to see their work and react. Their approach occasionally works, but it often leads to a prolific anonymity. Sure people get lucky, they get discovered, they get the right link from the right person at the right time and their work gets the recognition it deserves. But this is akin to trying to buying lotto tickets. It’s taking what you’ve made and then hoping for a miracle.

Are you willing to die a little inside to get your work out?

It will probably kill you do to this, but you have to occasionally act as if merit doesn’t matter. You have to look at all those people who you tell yourself do not deserve their success (stop pretending like you aren’t petty) and see what they’re doing right. You don’t have to become a spammer, but you do have to become a better marketer. You have to put as much effort into the discovery of your work as you do to its quality. You have to think about things like calls-to-action, you have to consider the sales funnel of your website, you have to examine the strength of your network, the power of your list and determine how to use them in concert to push your work into the world.

What you’d like vs. what is…

You may want the world to be one way, but you also have to be realistic when it isn’t. I get that you want to be judged on merit. You want what you do to be so good that people can’t help but take notice. But more than anything, you want your idea to find its audience, so get better about doing what’s needed. When you committed to your site, things improved, but it wasn’t until that commitment pushed beyond the work and into a willingness to regularly ask people to stick around that it began to grow (speaking of, the rest of you should subscribe for free by RSS and Email). And even though it kills you a bit inside to have placed that blatant call to action inside of a post about an idea that you care deeply about, you respect your work enough to get over yourself.

When you really look at it, has merit proven to be enough? Or do you need to consider breaking some of your own rules in order to get your work out there?

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