As you may or may not have noticed, I’ve started a side project. I haven’t started anything new in a great number of years, and the… newness of it has taken me by surprise. All that action, followed by all that sitting around, was taking a (predictable but no less surprising) toll on my perspective and my mindset.
When I was in those first few days of creating my little Summer Hen, I ran across this piece. Marina Darlow, creator of the Systems Meet Humanity podcast, sent this out as a piece of launch content for her new show. (I got it because I'm on Marina's list, which I happen to quite like. Go to that link and click on the free course in the sidebar if you want to check her out.)
This was just what I needed to hear. (And it just so happened to be about eggs. And hens. Which meant I felt like she wrote it just for me.)
With her permission, I’ve reprinted it here, in the hopes that it might help you as well.
Let It Hatch, Please, by Marina Darlow
Anne, my friend and client, builds niche websites for a living. She does it extremely well – her monthly traffic is in the millions. Here’s a loose description of her process:
She creates a website called, say, KnitHats.com. Then she fills it with quality content – articles about knitting woolen hats, easy crochet patterns for cotton summer hats, reviews of this season’s most fashionable shades of yarn, a round-up of the best places to purchase a handmade hat, and so on.
All in all, this takes 3-4 months.
Once the website is built and full of gourmet content, Anne slides this bun into the Google oven to bake. And then she waits for about 6 months to a year. This is how long it takes Google (and potential visitors) to work the SEO magic.
A year will pass till she’d know if the site will bring enough traffic to create ad revenue.
Think about it. Even the quickest scenario takes three months of hard work, of “giving it my everything” as my coach once said. Then six months of quiet waiting, while NEVER KNOWING if the site will succeed.
This kind of project requires something beyond simple patience.
It demands a presence of spirit. A resolve to keep working without instant validation, a gift of letting go of results. The resilience of having no guarantees and doing it anyway.
The concept isn’t new. After all, in business we do it all the time. We pour our time and energy into a project without being able to fully predict how rich and famous it’ll make us, if at all. Because, honestly, there’s no other way.
But the example of niche sites is so stark, it really drove the point home. You devote months of your life – hours, money, energy, soul, and… that’s it. Then you wait for six more months, knowing only one thing for sure – some of your projects will fail.
This is what the niche site example made crystal clear for me:
Yes, every big new project comes with anxiety built-in. The unpredictability can be crushing (read: paralyzing). Worse still, even after the project is out in the world, you can’t really know right away whether you’ve succeeded.
It’s much easier stay sane and keep going, if you give that period-of-the-great-unknown a different name:
Give it time, give it warmth (in other words – either the honest effort the project needs, or the quiet time with no disturbances), and above all, don’t expect it to bring results right away. (More on this here.)
If you break the shell right after the egg is laid, the chick inside will likely die. If you toss and turn the egg while it’s hatching, you’ll only hurt the baby’s health.
Let. It. Hatch.
It’s OK to wait. In fact, it’s essential both for the sake of your project and for your mental-emotional well-being.
Over the recent months I’m working on a new project. Every ounce of my energy that’s not invested in client work goes into setting up interviews, choosing the music, composing briefs for cover art from different artists.
That baby launches next week.
[Naomi’s note: It’s now up, and I’m on it. Check out my interview here!]
I don’t know if my new show is going to be successful. I can’t know if enough people will listen to it, and of course I have no control over anyone to take any action. It’s not really up to me if someone chooses to subscribe, leave a review, or be moved to work with me. But I am doing it anyway. And in a few months we’ll all know what kind of podcast and community has hatched.