Derek Sivers

If it’s not a hit, switch

For the first time in my life, I had made something that people really wanted.

Before that, I had spent twelve years trying to promote my various projects. Trying every marketing approach. Networking, pitching, pushing. It always felt like an uphill battle, trying to open locked or slamming doors. I made progress, but only with massive effort.

But now... Wow! It was like I had written a hit song. A songwriter can write a hundred songs; then suddenly one of them really resonates with people and becomes a hit. Who knows why? It’s not that it’s necessarily better. But through some random circumstance or magic combination of ingredients, people love it.

Once you’ve got a hit, suddenly all the locked doors open wide. People love the hit so much that it seems to promote itself. Instead of trying to create demand, you’re managing the huge demand.

So what’s the lesson learned here?

We’ve all heard about the importance of persistence. But I had misunderstood.

Success comes from persistently improving and inventing, not from persistently doing what’s not working.

We all have lots of ideas, creations, and projects. When you present one to the world, and it’s not a hit, don’t keep pushing it as-is. Instead, get back to improving and inventing.

Present each new idea or improvement to the world. If multiple people are saying, “Wow! Yes! I need this! I’d be happy to pay you to do this!” then you should probably do it. But if the response is anything less, don’t pursue it.

Don’t waste years fighting uphill battles against locked doors. Improve or invent until you get that huge response.

Anything You Want - book cover