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Adii Pienaar

Now working on Receiptful. Co-Founder & ex-CEO of WooThemes. Author of Brandiing. New Dad. Ex-Rockstar.

What I learnt writing 30 000 words about branding

I decided to write a book about branding in the first week of June. Today - two months later - I'm releasing the compilation of the 30 000-odd words that eventually made it into the final version.

This post is about taking stock, reflecting on the process and sharing some of the things I've learnt (about myself, branding, writing and other people) during this 2-month journey.

(If you are expecting a neatly polished and structured article, which categorizes these thoughts into a manicured and categorized list, you'll be disappointed. Instead consider this a brain-dump on the topic.)


Not much is impossible.

Writing a book - just like most other things in life - isn't that hard if you really put your mind to it.

A friend once told me that self-discipline isn't actually that hard. Instead it's about the underlying motivation to do something; if you're really motivated to do something, you'll automatically have the self-discipline needed to succeed.

Bit by bit.

Q: "How do you eat an elephant?" A: "Bit by bit."

The reality is when you stand at the starting line, the finish line seems to be a helluva long way away. That's daunting. Having to write 30 000 words is intimidating and scary on Day 1, when you don't have one word on a piece of paper.

The only way to tackle such a problem is to start, break tasks down into smaller chunks and get going.

Without passion you are likely to fail.

I truly believe that - as individuals - we are nothing without passion. Passion is the thing that fuels us and the (potential) great work we do.

Passion is also the only sustainable fuel to power through periods of feeling down, self-doubt or procrastination. Passion is that thing that makes you get up in the morning and makes you believe that you can change (or conquer) the world.

The last 20% always sucks.

I had wrapped up the first 80%-odd of Brandiing relatively easily and quickly. As soon as I got to the last 20% (where I could actually see the finish line), I started procrastinating really badly. The last 20% almost took the same amount of time to finish than the first 80%.

The only way I managed to finish the last bit of the book was to force myself to sit down and not get up until I had finished it. To say the least, it wasn't fun. :)

Writing and teaching refines your knowledge. Of everything.

I've previously written about how I write for myself and I experienced this over and over again whilst working on Brandiing.

Writing the book forced me to be very reflective (about my past journey and branding-related experiences) and extract learning from that. Nathan Kontny says the same thing about teaching.

Not only did I learn more about branding (hindsight is an exact science after all), but I also learnt more about myself and the how's / why's of the decisions I made in the past.

It's always easier to have a blueprint.

I'm not great at planning and I mostly make decisions (quite impulsively) based on my intuition. For Brandiing though, I followed Nathan Barry's blueprint.

Having a blueprint removed so much of the friction in writing the book, because I didn't have to obsess about many of the unknowns related to publishing a book (How should I publish it? What format should it be in? How will I promote it? Etc.). Instead I was able to just focus on my primary task, which was getting the actual content down on paper.

Everyone - especially entrepreneurs - should publish a book.

James Altucher said this better than I could ever say it. He also has much more data to act as social proof of that opinion.

The benefits to this is so diverse:

  • By publishing a book, you are sharing knowledge and experience that would've otherwise been contained in a silo.
  • You're getting paid to do it.
  • You're building an audience and growing a brand.

Content is a great way to do startup marketing.

I've already shown how the mere act of writing helped me acquire 800+ users in PublicBeta's first month.

A lot has obviously been written about content marketing as a marketing tactic (and strategy) for startups, and I'm by no means an expert. I do however believe that this is one of the best marketing channels around (in terms of getting bang for your buck), especially for early-stage startups.


PS. Grab a copy of Brandiing today and you'll get 20% discount for the next 24 hours.

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