Zachary Alden Smith

Frequency, Generosity, and Delight

This is what it means to be a professional.

We care about excellence. People do want excellence. But attaining it is so central to who we are that we don't even think about it... We simply only only pay attention to things we that strike us as excellent. If they didn’t think your music was excellent, they would not be listening to it. So, now that they are, how do they define excellence, why it’s good, or why they like it?

Through an assessment of frequency, generosity, and delight.

  • Frequency: doing what you said you would do when you said you would do it; also showing up with enough time-based expectation.
  • Generosity: delivering more than people are paying for, every time; doing the difficult emotional labor to see your audience ahead of time; pouring your heart into the work. This does not mean giving things away for free.
  • Delight: have you chosen to do work that you can do the above and still be happy, maintaining your joy in the work over the long haul? If so, this is contagious.

You can give people the belief that you are professional, through marketing.

Whatever marketing activities you do, do them with frequency, generosity, and delight. When you do, you will help people decide whether they trust you enough to allow you to serve them in the ways you seek to serve them.

When I first started releasing music, I only had one song recorded. I built a website and put up the song as a free download, no strings attached. But right next to it was a mailing list signup. I emailed 100 friends and family and asked them to check it out.

I was checking stats on the mailing list signup every hour for weeks. I was upset that only 10 of my friends and family joined. But then people I had never heard of started joining as well. I forgot to check the stats on the download link for about six months.

First time I checked them, there were over 1000 downloads of the song. And by that time I had 100 mailing list members.

I realize these are all pretty small-time numbers, but I was blown away by the response. And I have been continually blown away by the realization that people didn't download or join because they liked me. They joined because they wanted more music.

I had been doing all of this and making music so that people would like me. So my assumption was that people were joining because they liked me as well. But that rationale lead me nowhere, except for waiting around for people to hand me a career on a platter.

This led me also to a deficiency in delight, which led to a deficiency in generosity, which led to a deficiency in frequency.

That’s no way to build a job for yourself.

Do you see them? Do they believe you do? If not, what would you change?

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