Joel Kelly's Blog

Joel Kelly's updates about his latest writing, his process, and his life as a Halifax-based author and marketer.

Consumers are rational

It’s often suggested that consumers aren’t “rational." They don’t necessarily buy the product with the best features at the lowest price. Instead, they’ll buy the product that looks the nicest, or the one their friend bought. Or the most expensive one.

And this is considered irrational.

But only if you don't think about how society itself works. Each of those things has a perfectly — dare I say — rational explanation.

  • Buying the nicest looking thing: Status is a fundamental part of society!
  • Buying the one their friend bought: Shared experiences are a fundamental part of society!
  • Buying the most expensive one: Veblen goods are a symbol of status, and see above about that!

In fact, good marketers who understand human behavior think all these things are pretty rational. Because people are people. People are part of a larger society. And society has a lot of rules that might be unspoken, but are just as real as any other rule. Even the ones we all consider “rational."

The problem isn't "irrational consumers."

The problem is bad marketers.

Creativity is not the product of compromise

Adam Morgan said advertising "is like a knife-fight in a phonebox."

You don't compromise in a knife fight. You fight to win.

Creativity doesn't come from compromise, from taking one idea and mashing it with another. It comes from ruthlessness. Killing one's darlings.

We compromise when we're afraid. When we don't want to step on toes. When we fear going too far, so instead we don't go far enough.

Bill Bernbach said, "If you stand for something, you will always find some people for you and some against you. If you stand for nothing, you will find nobody against you, and nobody for you.”

Creativity means standing for something, acknowledging that you might rub people the wrong way. Because if you stand for nothing, no one will stand with you.

Not your customers. Not your clients. Not your coworkers. No one.

What if you mess up? "Failure shows us the way – by showing us what isn’t the way," says Ryan Holiday.

Be ruthless. Don't compromise. And learn from your mistakes.

That's the path to creativity.

The terror of newness, the comfort of "Best Practices"

"Try something new. It’s unpredictable so it’s uncomfortable. Then it becomes predictable, so it’s comfortable.
Try something new. It’s unpredictable so it’s uncomfortable. Then it becomes predictable, so it’s comfortable.
Somehow, we never quite spot the pattern. It never clicks that feeling uncomfortable means it’s a new experience. And new experience means growth. Going somewhere we haven’t been before. Trying something we haven’t tried. That uncomfortable feeling is being alive.
Helmut Krone said, ‘If you can look at something and say, “I like it”, then it isn’t new.’" - Dave Trott's Predatory Thinking

Doing something new is terrifying. It's uncomfortable. So we wait until someone else does it, until someone else takes the risk. Eventually, enough people will do it that we can call it "Best Practices". Then we can do it. Because it's not new anymore. It's comfortable.

There's a difference between doing the tried and true because it works, and doing the same thing as everyone else because you're scared.

If you want to do something interesting, something truly "disruptive", you need to do it first. Otherwise it's comfortable.

Otherwise it's boring.

Otherwise it won't work.


How to crowdfund a book

Thinking about crowdfunding your book? Use this link and Inkshares will put $50 toward my book!

UPDATE!! My book is now 80% funded, by 26 backers, with over a month to go. Help keep it going here.

My new book, an ebook novella called Scolding the Winds, is now 63% funded! Can you believe it? I'm having a little trouble believing it.

I've received 20 backers, some contributing $15, some (including my mother-in-law, and my friend and colleague) contributing hundreds. It's incredible to have so much support from so many.

Here's what things are looking like right now:

As you can see, we're very much outpacing our projected targets. But my backers per day are already dropping, and things are slowing down. Plus, any extra money we raise goes toward the costs I've already put into the project, and into making the book's marketing and distribution that much better. So I'm going to keep trying to get this in front of people.

How do you crowdfund a book?

Here's what I've learned so far:

  1. Tweet, tweet, tweet. You might annoy people. But those people weren't your friends anyway. And not everyone who follows you will see every tweet, so you need to get it out there several times, every day. Plus, you don't have to ask for money, just that people share the link. They will.
  2. Email! I had an email list from marketing my last book, so I reached out to them and asked for their support. Email your friends, colleagues, contacts, and ask them to share the link with their friends.
  3. Persistence! Several days will pass without a backer. That's okay. In some cases, it just means there's lots more on the way.
  4. Update your backers. My last funding update blog post got me a few more backers. This one might, too.
  5. Have an installed base of friends/supporters. Luckily, I already have a following on Twitter, some forums, Facebook, etc. I was able to reach out to those friends and ask them to help me out. Plus, I have a popular podcast. Using your existing networks is key.
  6. Advertise! I haven't spent much, yet ($50 on New Disruptors), but I'm thinking about advertising on my favorite podcast, MBMBaM, which has proved very successful for me before. As long as you don't spend more than you raise, it's worth it.

So, those are just a few ideas about how you can crowdfund a book. Do you have any suggestions? Leave them in the comments!

Traffic to since launch

I figured I'd post some stats about traffic to the website since I launched it, for those curious.

Note: I don't currently know how sales are going for "No Greater Love Than This". So I don't know how these stats relate to book sales.

So, first, what did I do to promote my this site? Well, I posted messages on two websites for ex-Jehovah's Witnesses, letting them know about my story. This got me about 120 visits to the website.

I also heavily promoted my site on Twitter (which probably annoyed more than a few people) and Facebook. And I asked my friends and colleagues to do the same.

These social media posts account for about 900 visits, or the vast majority.

Finally, my friend Chris wrote a blog post that sent a few visitors my way, and I sent out a few newsletters to my subscribers that linked back to the site.

So, in total, the site received the following traffic since launch:

  • 1285 visits
  • 944 unique visitors
  • 4511 pageviews
  • 74% of visits were from Canada, 18% from the USA
The Google Analytics data for

The Google Analytics data for

So, there you go! I'd hoped for a bit more traffic than this, but I'm pretty happy with things, overall. Hopefully book sales are strong!

Purchase the eBook: