How (and Why) to Stop Putting Yourself Last

#MeFirst

This is the hashtag for a movement I am thinking of starting.

This movement is for the creatively self employed -- designers, copywriters, photographers, illustrators, videographers, and any other marketing professionals who are struggling with no clients or the wrong clients. 

The goal of the movement is simple: to stop the feast or famine syndrome by putting yourself first.

We need this movement because I see too many of you putting yourself last:

  • prioritizing client work as "real work" but your own business development as somehow "not real" or less valuable. 
  • giving up too quickly when what you want to happen doesn't: when the people you want to work with don't respond to your messages (here's my approach to that)
  • putting your own self promotion on the back burner and literally doing your own stuff last or not at all!

The result?

  • you are forced to take whatever comes along (a.k.a. "word of mouth") because you believe you can't afford to do otherwise
  • you settle for cheap clients, and sometimes even abusive clients
  • you suffer through the stress of Feast or Famine

This must stop!

When you put "paying" client work ahead of sending out your email newsletter or attending a networking event, you are focusing on the present, at the expense of your future!

And that's exactly what leads to the feast or famine syndrome -- you set the table for famine when you focus only on the feast. 

This hit me hard when a new mentoring client was telling me how important it is to do her absolute best work for clients. It's a point of pride -- I heard it in her voice.

But when she talked about how she treats herself and her own business, her voice got so much smaller. She puts everyone first except herself!

She is not alone. I hear and see this every day. I see it as a betrayal to yourself. 

That's where #MeFirst comes in -- it means:

  • committing to doing your absolute best for yourself -- first!
  • prioritizing your own business activities -- strategic planning, self promotion and outreach, especially bookkeeping and billing, to make sure you get paid on time.
  • carving out time for yourself in your calendar and protecting that time with your life -- as if it were your lifeline, because it is!

Treat yourself like a client, if that's what it takes to put yourself first.

This is not hard. All it takes is a little bit of your attention every day.  

I've been experimenting with a few clients on this. One designer sent me a simple email message every day last week that said, "I put myself first today." On Friday, the message read:

I did it again, on the bus! I really appreciate you saying that it just takes a little bit every day. I was able to do some research into agencies I want to get in touch with, and send an email to a buddy who I want to reconnect with work-wise.

That's all it takes -- couldn't you do that every day, if you put yourself first? 

Here's all you have to do:

Tend to your own business growth first -- first thing in the week (don't leave it for Friday) and first thing in the morning, when you are thinking most clearly about where you want to go. 

And of course, help is available -- you don't have to do this alone!