|The Flower on my Pangea Organics business card|
For an entire decade, a full one-quarter of my life so far, I worked at a manufacturing/distribution company. The company made stuff and sold stuff. I was perfectly content to support the company with customer service, administration and inventory management throughout that time. The thought of selling anything, however, made me freeze. Marketing? Fine. Sharing information in a trade show booth? Fabulous. Asking someone for their money in return for a fine product? I’d rather chew glass and wash it down with turpentine.
That’s why I am so amused with my recent choice. I’m an Independent Rep with Pangea Organics skincare. It’s a skincare company focused on healthy solutions from natural, organic sources, so my diversion to the sales aspect would be more like washing a mouthful of chia seeds down with the blended juice of a cucumber, kale, and pineapple. You can read a bit about my decision here, but basically, I was impressed with the product and thought it would be a chance to make a little extra money. I had just begun a more focused attempt at a full-length memoir, and knew I would like some things that were not in my current budget: an editor, funds for writing conferences and retreats, and possibly a good cover designer. Besides, it would get me away from the computer and out into the world. I’m a non-fiction writer. That’s where material happens, where the creative pump is primed. So, I took a deep breath, and dove in.
The tools needed for this new endeavor are strikingly similar to what’s needed on the writing journey. For example:
Success is found outside your comfort zone. Sharing your writing, whether it is with a supportive writing group or sending a query to a top agent or publisher, can make some would-be writers freeze. But if a writer doesn’t share her work, she will never succeed in the fundamental reason for writing in the first place—to communicate her message to the world. If the writing group offers valid critiques, the writer learns to improve.
As you improve, you may feel uncomfortable “tooting your own horn,” but how else will people find you? Don’t assume you know what people are going to think. You will learn to believe in your writing more as you go along, and the hard work will pay off. When I sent out my first personal essays to Chicken Soup for the Soul, I worried that some unknown person would judge my story, and by extension, judge me as “unworthy.” But I sent them anyway. Not every submission was picked up, but none of them would have been if I hadn’t tried.
When I started selling Pangea, I worried people would immediately judge me as a pushy salesperson, but I let them know what I was doing anyway. In return, I gained happy customers. They didn’t know about the product (or did and could no longer find it in stores) and now had a way to get something they enjoyed. I’ve received emails from people who have read my Chicken Soup stories who were touched in some way. I gained readers and my new readers had an experience they would not have had if I wouldn’t have taken that first step and submitted an essay.
Getting out of my comfort zone by getting into sales (which I usually still think of as “sharing--” my personal aversion to “selling” isn’t entirely gone) has shown up on the page as well. I am being more honest in my writing, and am sometimes surprised how personal my writing has become. I have to take another big breath and jump when I share in my own group, because I know that the risk has a chance to grow into a big reward.
Since my Pangea Organics business takes a good amount of my time, time I am also thinking about or working on my memoir, I’ve discovered many more similarities between this business journey and the writing life. I’ll share more in upcoming posts. In the meantime, continue to take risks with your writing, your writing business and your life. You will be pleasantly surprised at the opportunities that will follow!
Happy Writing! --Tina
P.S. You know I have to do it: tell you about this month's Pangea Organics Specials. In April, get Free Pyrenees Lavender Hand Soap & Italian White Sage Body Wash with $75 purchase. Better yet, sign up for the Organic Loyalty Program and get the same special for $60, since new OLPs receive 20% off all of the time (until we get 500 sign ups, then it is 15%) and the special just for signing up. Click here or contact me if you have any questions (tina at excuseeditor.com).
Thanks to all of the Excuse Editor readers who are also new Pangea customers! To learn more, check out my site, HealthySkinParty.com.