My biggest surprise/shock/thrill of writing for the internet is that this thing of unfeeling wires and circuits, moulded plastics and plasma screens demands that I be human. And not just human, but the most human I can be.
When I first started this journey of writing for the internet 3 years ago, I was an abysmal failure. Now this was quite a surprise to me because I had been writing for over 25 years by that point. I had completed two books; I had written one of them completely from scratch four times (but that is another story); I had many other books in various stages; and a large part of my business consultancy business was writing reports – which I did well. So, this internet-thingy should have been a doddle. But it wasn’t.
In fact, you could taste the indifference. I struggled to find out why. I looked at people who were successful. I found advice from fellow writers. I changed subjects and found that didn’t work. I tried messing about with various programs. None of that help.
Then I found the answer by accident. I was chatting with a friend who used to be an amazing salesman. He was complaining that somehow he had lost it and wondered if I could recommend any good books on the subject so that he could re-learn this skill. I went away and looked at the books that I had read and discovered that there was no single book that was any better than the rest and all of them were missing some part of the complete picture. I had done what I have always done: I had taken a good idea from this book and a good idea from that book and amalgamated them into a more complete working model. In order to help my friend, I sat down and started putting a framework together so that I can send him off to particularly useful chapters at least. I started by separating ideas into the two very different types of selling: personal, face-to-face selling and impersonal selling done through writing, voice recording and video. Then I realised that there was a third type of selling – internet selling – which used the impersonal forms of writing, voice recording and video but insisted on using them in a personal way. It was as if the internet was saying,
“Cut the crap. Just talk to me”.
I wondered why this was the case. Then I realised that there were occasions that I had done just that in the past: whenever I had been communicating to friends who were not in the island for whatever reason. There was no formality. There didn’t need to be, these were my mates and I acted just as if they were in the room with me. That is what the internet requires: I must treat everyone as if we have been friends for ages; for, who knows, we might be so in the future.
Now I know what you’re thinking: “Phil you’re a bit slow, that is so obvious”. Well, I do tell people that I am not the sharpest knife in the drawer and occassionally I go out of my way to prove it.
So where does that leave us: well the internet has turned the world into one giant house with many rooms; everyone in the world is now a friend waiting to be discovered; and all it requires from us is to plumb the depths of our humanity and become the best human we can be. Not a bad job considering that it is just bits of metal and plastic