I swear, I’m angry, I voice my frustrations openly and I call people out when they’re mean or do something they shouldn’t. I post pictures of my pet rats in the same places I promote my products. I make jokes about everything. I’m open about even my most unpopular opinions.
I could stop doing these things, or at least, not use the platform I’ve got to voice my opinion on… everything. Surely this can’t be good for my business or my brand or people respecting me as an authority in my field? I could be more “professional” and act like a real business person, right?
But I let just as much that’s bad/weird/offensive about me show as I do the good.
Here’s the thing, what I sell who I am: over and over again, regardless of what the product is. I wouldn’t sell a product if it wasn’t me. I wouldn’t tell a story if it wasn’t how I really felt. And who I am are all those good, bad and sometimes unpopular things.
I’d rather be honest and open about who I am, bad attitude, unpopular opinions, controversial views and all. You don’t have to agree with anything I say or believe in (I'd actually rather you didn't, it makes things much more interesting). But know that it’s who I really am. If we met in person, you wouldn’t be at all surprised. The normal way I talk is the way I write my sales pages.
I’m ok if people buy or don’t buy things I make because of who I am and what I stand for. If you let your ethics and point of view into your brand, you’re going to leave money on the table. Because some people won’t agree, or worse, they’ll be put off. They won’t buy your stuff simply because of who you are.
One time I refunded someone for one of my courses because they said, “this is helpful but I can’t get over you saying “shit” in the first video lesson”. Another time someone told me they didn't buy my mailing list course because they, “didn't trust rainbows”.
I personally don’t trust online people who are only positive or only show their good, full-polished sides to their audience. Or who only share when things go right, or their wins, or things that make them look good. Or who only post staged and very setup shots on Instagram. Or who only start posting monthly income reports when they hit 6-figures/month...
Ever notice how the most “transparent” people are the ones who’ve achieved the most? Maybe there’s a correlation?… (For myself, the only reason I’ve ever posted sales reports of my best products is because I’ve also posted sales reports from the worst ones. And I don’t think I will ever post another sales report...)
I always assume those folks are hiding something. Or only telling the truth when it makes them look good.
And since trust is a precursor to commerce, I’d never buy anything from them (and eventually, stop paying attention to them too). So maybe you don’t make all the money if you just show your good side. Just like you don’t make all the money if you show your good AND bad side. Either way, there’s no gravy train of easy money.
So I’d rather be trusted by some than liked by all. Because who I am as a person is who I am in business and in what I make. I do my best, create things that I feel are genuinely helpful to others, and do it all while being myself.
Yes, it puts some folks off, but I’m cool with that. Because the alternative is trying to be someone I’m not, and then risking that I could put off the people I actually want to be around and enjoy connecting with.
So I put a lot of people off. Gladly.
Hi, I'm Paul Jarvis. I write a weekly newsletter called the Sunday Dispatches where I share articles about working and living online with 35k subscribers: