Commandments of Marketing (That You Might Actually Like), #1

Lo, I come unto you with truth! Prepare to be Enlightened.

Commandment #1: Thou Shalt Not Do Marketing That Gives Thou The Shits.

commandment 1


And lo, I say unto thee, I say, “Life is too fucking short to spend recreationally shoving bamboo splinters under your nails.”

If email lists make you feel sad and resentful and obligatory-ish, DON’T HAVE ONE.

If writing a blog makes you feel like ten pounds of ugh in a five-pound bag, DON’T HAVE ONE.

If maintaining a presence on Pinterest or Facebook or Twitter or Vine or Instagram make you feel like crawling back into bed, say it with me kids, DON’T HAVE ONE.

But, Catherine, Expert Person X says they’re the must-have!

Expert Person X is talking out of their ass.

What they should be saying is, “Hey, this worked amazingly well for me when I did it, and possibly also it works for clients I still work with now.”

But there are some huge caveats built into even that statement. Importantly:

1. How long ago was it that they used this strategy to such amazing effect? ‘Cos I don’t know if you’ve noticed, but marketing, and the internet most especially, is an ever-shifting place, and one with ever-increasing levels of sophistication. By the time a ground-breaking strategy can be formula-ised, it’s already about 15% as effective as it was when it produced the results the strategist can boast of.

2. Expert Person X is not you. Expert Person X’s previous clients are also not you. Your audiences are different, too. Thus, what worked for them might or might not work for you.

Besides, even they were 100% correct about the astonishing results to be gained by their thingy…

… you still fucking hate it.

How much energy would you waste pushing yourself to get this horrible hated task done?

How enthusiastic, creative and sincere a job will you do while gritting your teeth and just… getting through it?

How easy would you find it to abandon when the workload piles up/you feel a bit sick/the kids want to go play/a dog barked two blocks away/that cloud looks shifty? A brilliant strategy means nothing if it never gets done.

There is no One Marketing Approach To Rule Them All.

I pinky-swear. There are more options than time to implement them, they are all variously effective with various audiences, and not a single goddamn one is mandatory.

So ditch anything you genuinely don’t wanna do. There are plenty of fish in the sea, and no end of ways to tackle ’em. (PUN.)

And lo, I say unto you, “You’re not even tied to the rack, dude. Get off that thing.”

With thanks to the Provocateurs (which has become a free Facebook group for in-depth and totally fabulous conversations about business and marketing and why everyone should have a pet and feel free to apply if that sounds amazing to you) who had the initial exploration that sparked this article.

Also thanks to …some guy for the original image.

In which I change my mind mid-way through


Hello, darlingface.

Did you miss me?

I missed me.

So I had a looong period (documented over at Mediocre Be Damned, along with one extremely valuable lesson learned withal, should you be so inclined) of non-functionality. I made nothing, I slept a lot, and the only flourishing endeavour I commanded was my iPad’s farm.

(So. Many. Carrots!)

Now finally I am again able, albeit slowly and stumblefootedly, to make things. Began with baking, then sewing projects, then actually talking on social media again. Hitting the publish button on Mediocre Be Damned.

I left Cash and Joy for last, ’cos I needed enough zoomjuice in my brainpan to riddle with.

I need to re-solve the foundational question: what is Cash and Joy committed to bringing more of into the world?

Cool shit!
Ethical marketing strategies
People who make money by creating things they believe in
Eradication of unnecessary stress
Damning the Man (and saving the Empire)
Teensy businesses
Full-frontal emotional nudity
Taking it less seriously, sheesh
Your brilliance

The crockpot of ingredients hasn’t changed drastically over the years, and it’s awesome. I grinned while writing that.

But there’s a driving need to just fucking pick one, already. Make it easier to be the Subject Matter Expert, the Go-To Gal, the saint in her niche. Or maybe find a higher-level taxonomy, a catchy nickname for the crockpot itself.

Shit, when I started writing this article I had one picked out and everything.

I was gonna announce it right about… here.

But now I’m here I don’t want to.


*more long thoughtful pauses, you get the idea*

I… want to leave it a bit messy.

I need to delay auditing my offerings and constructing a neat Pinterest-friendly label for What We Offer Hyah.

Aw dammit, it would be so easy and tempting to smoosh myself into that neat box! Comforting. Marketable.

Sterile? Yes, also sterile.

Outside, it’s getting colder and the few deciduous trees are running clearance sales on their leaves. But inside me it’s spring, and spring has to be messy. Moist, compost-y (aka: full of bullshit?), squishy, warm. Fungible. Riotous and icky between the toes.

Make spring too neat and what will grow?

Oh. I changed my mind.

I shan’t narrow, define, compartmentalise. I’m just gonna grow, and make things, and see where we end up.

Wisdoms Learned Through Sometimes Terrible Experience

Sometimes you need lots of clarity to take action.

Sometimes you get the clarity by taking action.

And dicking around waiting for The Perfect Vision to epiphanise on you is wasted time.

Or in other words:

Sometimes it wants to be neat. Sometimes it needs to be messy.

Frustrating! Harder to message! You have to be super careful to still deliver the right trust-increasing levels of consistency! It would be super easier to just pick a box already and jump in it!

But I’m going to trust myself. I shall listen to the voice of spring and respect my still-healing creator.

Where is Cash and Joy going? Couldn’t tell you.

Wanna hang around while we find out?

On instructive failures, and choosing the burden carrier.

FAIL stamp
Thanks to Hans for the nifty photo. I maybe want this stamp.

You may have noticed – although you are extremely busy and I’m not going to assume anything – that I experimented recently with changing my prices to Australian dollars.

I had lots of sensible-shoe reasons for wanting this to work – it’s cheaper for you, it’s less paperwork and tax headaches for me, and it improves the accuracy in my cash flow projections.

Full of optimism and Improvement Cheer, I changed everything over.

And then sales dropped.


So I asked the lovely Rise and Shine peeps whether the Australian dollar thing was or could be an issue that would prevent them from buying. And I got plenty of thoughtful, intelligent responses that said, “Yes. Possibly.”

Queue lots of fiddly button-pressing. I’m back in US dollars.

Because my comfort is quite simply not as important as yours, when it comes to sales.

I mean, I’d like this to be easy for both of us. I would.

And often that’s possible. Mostly, even.

But there are some situations where someone is gonna have to endure something. It might be a fiddly data-gathering task, or finding the right time for a non-calendar meeting, or travelling across town for a delivery… any of those situations where one of you is going to have to cope with extra work or discomfort to make this come together.

And every time, you have to choose: will I do it, or will they?

I’ve seen plenty of business owners who seem to default to, “Screw ’em. They want it, they can come and get it.” And they tend to provide terrible experiences.

But I’ve also seen some who are absolutely goddamn determined to take every single single particle of work onto themselves, and get butthurt and spaniel-eyed if you so much as carry your own parcel. And that bugs the ever-living shit out of me. (Do you not trust me to assemble my own Lego warrior? Be damned to you!)

You can have some decent defaults, but you don’t want to be an extremist. Sometimes it’s you, sometimes it’s them. At Cash and Joy, I find that it’s mostly me, but I don’t know if that’s a universal constant or my own preferences. (Your thoughts are appreciated in the comments.)

So I guess what I’m saying is this: every time there is some extra work or discomfort to be resolved, you have to decide:

Am I going to deal with this, or will they?

I have managed the minor discomfort of the okay-but-how-much-is-this-in-the-money-I-pay-for-dishwashing-liquid mental math for years now. I experimented with giving it to you, and you really didn’t want it. So now I have it back.

And that’s fine.

It’s certainly better than having an easier-for-me system and less sales.

Love and haddock,

P.S. Speaking of failures, due to Life I didn’t manage to promote the I Love Sales Pages Bribery Competition! So you now have one extra week to win the totes wicked useful prize. Please do come add your experiences, dearest.

Revisiting the Cave. Again.


“Who is your daddy and what does he do?”
Kindergarten Cop

I’ve been going through the Quicksand – always my absolute least favourite part of the spiral – and I think I’m finally, finally out the other side and into the Cave again.

In other words, I’ve gone through the “Argh, business is hard, why bother at all, really” stage and back into “What the hell is this business, at its core” stage yet once more.

So now I have to deal with one unique problem that comes from revisiting (or in this case, re-re-re-revisiting) the Cave, and the problem is this:

It is super-duper goddamn easy to take your previously good enough answers and smoosh them into the new spaces, no matter whether or not they actually fucking fit you now your business (and you) have grown and changed and all that.

Previously, I have been guilty of some pretty thoughtless copy/paste when revisiting the Cave. Oh, my people are my people, you know, exactly like Who they were before, and my Why certainly hasn’t shifted, and What I offer is pretty much the same, and How I offer it, why that’s only moved millimetres!

And this is a terrible bad no-good thing to do. Attempting to sprint through the Cave stage is the number one most likely culprit for making sure you end up in the Quicksand again much faster than you’d like. ‘Cos you haven’t made any real changes, the business still has all the same problems and limitations, and they still lead to the exact same place, i.e. Suckville.

Pouting, spit bubbles optional.

This time around, having launched Mediocre Be Damned as a side hustle/creative project is helping a LOT.

When planning and creating Mediocre Be Damned, I had to answer, “What’s the difference between these two websites? What belongs there and doesn’t belong here, and vice versa? Where are the borders?”

Revisiting the Cave always involves shifting your borders. Sometimes you’re making them broader, striking out into new and unfamiliar territory, enveloping new populations. Planting your flag on the moon.

And sometimes you’re making your borders smaller. Resisting the urge toward empire, and deciding to downgrade to bigger fish in a smaller pond.

This time I’m doing a bit of both. For example…

Wherein I decide to stop the sprawl

I have a tendency to wander. This tendency is BLINDINGLY FUCKING OBVIOUS if you go through the archives from the beginning. Cash and Joy started with a simple focus: a relaxed and cheerful approach to marketing, told largely through fables and fairy tales.

And then more business strategy started to sneak in – the line between marketing strategy and business strategy is damn thin at times. And then creative strategy snuck in, ’cos it’s best buds with the others.

And from then on, it’s been kinda sorta open season on topics. Anything that has felt relevant to… doing business… has been up for grabs.

And ironically, that’s made it harder to write. Having borders so damn broad makes it hard to say definitively, “This. This fits.” The more I gave myself permission to talk about, the less I felt I had to say.

Stupid rackin’ frackin’ Quicksand, I tell ya.

So now I’m pulling back my outposts, recalling the legions, and downsizing the empire.

From now on, Mediocre Be Damned is the new base for articles, resources and offerings about creative structure and creative strategy, about the making of marvellousness. (If you liked my previous articles on the topic, you should sign up for its newsletter.)

Cash and Joy is about marketing and business strategy: how to reconcile it with your ethics, how to love it, how to rock at it, how to keep it interesting.

I will decide in coming weeks whether that means I’ll do a content division, or leave the blessèd mess of my archives as is. But hot damn, does this make my writing decisions easier!

(As evidenced by this, a new article. Gasp! Shock! And there are plenty more to come.)

Stay tuned: I’ll talk more in coming articles about the creative changes I’m sinewing my way through in regards to Who, How, What and Why.

‘Cos I can write more again now I’m clearer on those things! WHO KNEW.

Wait, I did. That’s why I talk about this stuff so much.

Smart Catherine. Have a biscuit.

Love and giraffes,