How Culture-Makers Vanquish Perfectionism: Publish, Then Polish
Written by Kelly Diels
You know I’m on a mission to extinguish the perfection imperative, right?
Resisting perfectionism one of the ways culture-makers undermine white supremacy.
It’s also how we start dismantling the iron grip that The Female Lifestyle Empowerment Brand has on our psyches, our lives, our buying and our businesses.
Perfectionism a form of internalized violence and it keeps us small.
If we step up to the plate with the pressure of trying to hit a home run every time, we might be so stressed out that we never make contact with the ball.
But games are actually won by hitting a lot of singles.
Or sometimes taking the walk.
(ex softball player here, hello! Also, I loved the movie Moneyball. It might be a formative influence on me. Here’s what I learned from it: underdogs and counterculturals and culture-makers do not rise by playing by the house rules that are rigged against us. We rise by diverging and inventing new ways to play.)
So we’ve just got to to try a lot of little things and press go before it’s perfect.
A painting is finished not when it’s perfect but when you are finished working on it.
A marketing campaign doesn’t have to be flawless to work.
A sale page can be ugly as hell and it can still be time to publish it.
Same with blog posts. And normalizing new ideas and attitudes.
You know, paradigm-shifting.
Think of the change you’re trying to create as the destination at the end of the yellow brick road…
…except you’re building the road as we walk it, one brick at a time.
Every blog post doesn’t have to be the sum totality of your work in the world. It can be one imperfectly cast golden brick.
One brick at a time, one step at a time, one swing at a time is how we get there.
Culturally, and in our businesses.
I regularly publish newsletters and blog posts with typos. And I’m a professional writer. Oh well. Blog posts can be changed any time. So can status updates.
A C+ expression of an A+ idea is one brick in the road that didn’t exist before.
Same with sales pages.
My original sales page for Feminist Marketing School was UGLY. It was pure text for a million words and that’s an underestimate. I launched it a few months ago anyway…
…and people signed up.
I kept working in the background and hired a designer (Kim Banks of Microbiz — and I’ll write more about that process later this week; what we did; and what we learned) to make it look beautiful. It took a while.
And all that time the ugly one was up and people were signing up.
I was getting momentum in something deeply important to me and contributing something useful to other people even though my page wasn’t perfect.
So the practical, anti-perfectionist culture-making, marketing + money-making lesson I wanted to share with you is this:
Publish, then polish.
Press go before it’s perfect because it will never be perfect.
We don’t need one magnum opus of a blog post or a flawless sales page.
We need lots of little ideas and paradigm-shifts.
We need you, at bat.
On the road.
Casting bricks and laying them down.
Making a culture-bending body of work one imperfect contribution at a time.
So publish, then polish.
And together, imperfectly, we rise.
- The concept and phrase ‘publish, then polish’ comes from Dr. David Doolin, an engineer who seven years ago helped me develop a lot of the creative and emotional infrastructure I carry with me every day. Seriously: I learned a lot of what I know about blogging + copywriting + getting over myself + getting ish done from this overachieving, genius software engineer.
- The notion of playing big vs playing small comes from Tara Sophie Mohr and her book, Playing Big. h/t Lianne Raymond for introducing me to her book. It was pivotal, for me.
- IMPORTANT: Kenneth Jones and Tema Okun articulate and teach that perfection is a value that upholds white supremacy), here. h/t Andréa Renae Johnson for introducing me to their work.
- Kim Banks is a wildly unsung hero designer, so let me sing a chorus to her excellence: she is so diligent, thoughtful, intuitive, caring and creative. I pretty much gave her free reign on the design. I know what I’m good at (words) and not good at (visuals) and you’ve got to let a race horse run. And she did. I’m THRILLED. Every time I work with her, she exceeds expectations.
- So you can see publish-then-polish in action, here’s What my Feminist Marketing School page looked like before (left) and after (right):
Side note: It wasn’t just the visuals we changed. Kim made this long-ass sales page way more substantial and useable.
- It’s easier to understand the format and schedule of the course.
- It now has a team section to highlight our leaders and contributors (none of us accomplish anything worthwhile, alone!)
- It even has a pdf download so you can download and read the module descriptions and see if they’re a good fit for you.
So the page is way better…and still not perfect. I still need to add a FAQ/Q&A section. And I will. I’ll keep publishing and polishing. Always.