An Honest Confession About Audience and Reach

Super honest confession: 

My ebook has sold 10 copies. On average my yoga class only has 5-7 people in it. 

I know that's not what I'm suppose to tell you. Marketing experts and the like will tell you to "fake it till you make it", they will say that you need to sell yourself, you need to make others feel like you're class is the place to be and your book is the book everyone is reading. And they are probably right.

I'm probably shooting myself in the foot by telling you my book isn't the book everyone is reading and my yoga class isn't the hottest, hippest, most happening place to be (although the few students I have seem to think so as they are super loyal and keep coming back - I'm so grateful for them!). 

And here's another honest truth for you:

I want my book to be the book everyone is reading. I want my yoga class to be the class everyone is going to and talking about. 

I want to be something and somebody.

It has nothing to do with money and everything to do with influence and recognition. It's part pride, and part ego, and part something deeper engrained in me that wants to do some good in the world, that wants to be a voice for change and encouragement in people's lives and hearts, that wants to inspire and help and teach. 

Like it or not, God keeps giving me small audiences, small results, small outcomes. Truth be told, some of this is on me. I could do more to play the game, to put myself and my work out there, to market and sell and "fake it till I make it".  I could avoid posting things like this post, where I flat out tell you the smallness of my reach. And it would probably work, but it would never feel true to me. I can do it for someone else, I can create a marketing campaign with the best of them and have been blessed to be able to dabble in that for others, but with my own work... it's different. 

Because while I want results and an audience, a packed yoga class and tons of books sold, I also want something else more than that. I want organic growth. I want to draw people and create a platform, not based on my ability to sell myself, but based on the quality of the things I produce, the truth of the words I share, the character of my heart. Perhaps this is idealistic in this day and age, but it's what I long to do. 

I want to attract my people rather than just any people. I don't just want followers, I want a community of friends, who care not just about me the writer, or me the yogi, but me the person. Who support my efforts at creation because they care about me and who I can also support in return. 

And that sort of give and take, that sort of relationship, can't happen in large numbers. It can't happen by "faking it till you make it". I don't want to attract anyone and everyone to my class or my writing, I want to attract people who value honesty as much as I do, who long for authenticity like hungry man longs for food. I don't want followers in the cult of personality. I want the quieter, less showy, path of character, forged by fire and shaped by the slow path of doing the work set before you. 

This is my practice: to remind myself that the slow path, the long hard discipline of continuing to create and put myself out into the world, even when the impact feels small, is just as valuable as the fast highway. My work is to continue to remind myself, sometimes with every breath, that there are treasures to be found in doing the work and surrendering the results of my labor. 

This is not the practice of lying to myself. I refuse to tell myself any longer that I ONLY write for me. That is half truth. Writing is a very personal work for me, and it is done for the health of my own heart, yet I don't only write for me. I don't. 

I jokingly told someone recently, "I don't journal. What good is writing if no one's going to f****** read what I write." I laughed but I knew in that moment it was the truth. The deep truth. I haven't journaled since high school and even then I did it only irregularly. Writing words that no one will ever read has never motivated me. I write for others. I write because I want to add something to the world, want to say something to the world, want to create something in the world. I write to be seen and heard. The fact that it helps me process and sort through my life in the process is an added side benefit. I will not lie to myself anymore. 

I will not tell myself that I do it just for the one. "I am happy if just one person reads my words, or comes to my yoga class." That's a lie. It's bullshit, and I won't continue propagating it.

Here's the truth: It physically and emotionally felt like a wound when only 10 people bought my book. When one person shows up to yoga I cringe. But, these are just feelings. They lie too.

I don't need to pretend that it doesn't hurt. I don't need to pretend I don't want something more. I can own my feelings, and in owning them I can breath into them and work past them. I can choose to show up for the work and keep showing up for the work, even when I feel alone, even when Shame and Self Doubt yell loudly in my ear, "Not good enough!". 

This is the practice. Deep breath. Keep going. Keep teaching. Keep writing. Keep creating. Keep showing up. 

This is the work of character, of diligence, of being faithful with the small seeds. 

May grace and peace surround us in all those places where we feel small and unheard, small and unseen, where our desires clash with our reality and we're tempted to lie to ourselves about what we really want. Grace and peace in the smallness. Grace and peace in the slow path. Grace and peace when our branches are thin and fruitless. 

Grace and peace,

Bethany Stedman