January 5, 2018

Instructions Included, or Not (Part I)

By Idabel Allen

Monopoly, Payday, Life even dominoes - as a child I rarely read instructions to any game or activity. I just winged it. Starting with Chutes and Ladders at six, I couldn’t be bothered to take five minutes to understand what I was about to undertake for the first time. There was a game before me, a task, something to do, and I jumped in feet first trusting I would figure it out as I went, or that another player knew more than I.

It’s the same now, at forty-eight. Only, I’m not playing board games, but publishing and marketing books utilizing a whole bevy of technical tools I’ve never used before: MailChimp and BookFunnel and WordPress and more. Tools that have, for the most part, clearly written instructions and training material to help you understand what you are doing and why.

The smart thing to do would be to read through this material, familiarize myself with the steps and start off with a solid base from which to build.

And yet, old habits die hard, and I am back to my old ways, uncertain of process and tool, consulting the instructions only after hitting a wall.

I like to think my aversion to instructions has less to do with laziness and more to do with impatience that goes back to childhood. Who has time to read instructions when there are dice to roll and game pieces to move about the board? Rules were often what we made them.

Playing board games by your own rules has few repercussions. Building a website, setting up email sequencing, inserting pixels, or developing ad campaigns is an entirely different matter. Each piece is critical to your overall marketing plan, which has its own architecture similar to a building. Your website is the foundation and social media accounts, ad campaigns, promotions and giveaways the floors above. Furnishing rooms are content – newsletters, blog posts, articles, interviews, and reviews.

This building is quite a complex piece of architecture. Without a blueprint for guidance, construction is a nightmare. I know because I created this nightmare for myself. Not out of laziness or ignorance, but out of a deep-seated impatience to get the job done that rode shotgun over common sense.

It’s not that I didn’t plan; I’m a planner by nature. I had a general outline in my head of what needed to happen and corresponding deadlines. I gave myself two weeks to build my website in Wordpress, a tool I’d never used. Another week to update my social media accounts.  Once these things were complete, I would start my ad campaign and go from there.

Then reality set in and I discovered how much lack of preparation cost in time, effort and stress. I lost more time tracking down issues with my email account, system performance, and countless other technical issues.

Turns out the saying, an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure, has never been truer.  Read Part 2 on 1-8-18.
IDABEL ALLEN is the author of HeadshotsRootedand Cursed! My Devastatingly Brilliant Campaign to Save the Chigg and Rooted (February, 2018 release). When not burrowing in the written word, Idabel is generally up to no good with her family, dogs, and herd of antagonistic cows. Learn more about Idabel at or follow on Facebook: Twitter:

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