Last week I was sending out a business-as-usual tweet the day before my curated newsletter goes out when something unexpected happened:
I nearly had a heart attack.
ANN HANDLEY was about to read my newsletter with all my silly commentary on the best SaaS marketing content for that week?
Have you ever been playing a sport, doing a musical performance, or telling a story when you notice that your crush is watching you? It’s terrifying.
The same thing happened when I saw the tweet. At first, I was scared.
What if she doesn’t like it? What if she doesn’t like the commentary on her quote and blog post? What if she unsubscribes?
Then, I was insecure.
What if there are a bunch of typos? Should I go back and make it better? Should I beef up my commentary on her blog post to make it sound like the most wonderful piece of content ever written?
And then, finally, I had a realization.
Why should I be so insecure about it just because Ann Handley is reading it? Shouldn’t I always hold myself to a high enough standard that I would be proud of any of my marketing heroes to read my writing at any time?
And this was the truth. Why did it take a tweet from one of my marketing heroes to make me rethink my writing? The truth is, I should have been writing for my heroes all along.
In the end, I reviewed the newsletter and didn’t make any changes. But the lesson was still learned: Write as if your heroes were reading.
I’ve been reading and learning religiously for the last two years from my marketing heroes: Seth Godin, Ann Handley, Rand Fishkin, Jay Baer, Gary Vee, Joe Pulizzi, Nir Eyal, Malcolm Gladwell, Ryan Holiday, Sean Ellis, David Ogilvy, Robert Cialdini, Marc Benioff, David Cancel, Dave Gerhardt, Brian Balfour, Jeff Bullas, Louis Grenier, Noah Kagan, Claire Suellentrop, Gia Laudi, Benji Hyam, and MANY others.
And in all my work, I would want them to be proud to know that my writing was a byproduct of all that I’ve learned from them.
It’s easy to forget the reality of people reading your work when you sit behind a screen 8+ hours a day. No faces, minimal interaction, and almost zero feedback from your readers. If you’re not careful, your writing will become completely detached from the very audience you serve.
When you write for no one, you’ll write haphazardly. When you write for the internet, in all of its entirety and vast expanse, you’ll write lazily. But when you write for your heroes, you’ll write your best work. The work you wouldn’t have written otherwise. The work you’ll be proud of.
Write for your heroes — write as if they eagerly read each and every one of your posts.
So I turn it back to you: Who are your heroes? And what would you think if you knew they were reading your work?