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When People Who Aren’t Your Target Market Read Your Work

It was midday when I saw it. His name came through and I thought, “Whoa. I am a big deal now.”

Like an idiot, I was still getting every email subscription notification sent to me personally and was watching them come in like a teenager waiting for her crush to call. I barely had 200 people on my list, but now I had a “bestseller.” A major player. Someone who mattered.

And without my consent, my lizard brain decided to take over for the next few months. Nothing I did was good enough for this person. Well, no, actually I have no idea what was good enough for him because I just I made up all these stories in my head about what I thought he wanted to read.

That, of course, led to a series of uninspired-trying-too-hard posts and a 3-month emotional hangover where I was paralyzed to write anything at all.

I’d broken my own damn rule:

Your customers are not your colleagues.

It’s a lesson I’m constantly relearning as I discover more and more people who are not my target market are reading my work. And each time, I relive this experience of wondering if they’re my market and I’ve had it wrong this. entire. time.

Are You My Mother Children's Book Cover

Are You My Mother?


I want to write a book called “Are You My Market?” where a little entrepreneur goes to different target markets and asks, “Are you my market?” and they say “No,” and she keeps trying until she finds her target market.

But then there’s a second storyline where another little entrepreneur (this one has a hat) goes to different target markets and asks, “Are you my market?” and they say “No,” but he’s like, “Well, I’m staying anyway!” and then he goes out of business.

The end.

It’s an allegory.

Aaaaaanyway, you’re probably sick of me quoting Maya but I don’t care because she’s the best. She said, “When someone shows you who they are, believe them.”

I can’t think of better advice on finding your target market.

Turns out, the bestselling-author-person-I’d-put-on-a-pedestal back when I first started was just being supportive because he liked me. And like a child, I took it as a reason to derail my entire content strategy (and abandon my voice and try to be someone I wasn’t) in order to impress him.

Or – let’s be real here – my imagined version of him.

He has no idea. I don’t even know if he’s still on this list, I don’t look at that stuff anymore. But it doesn’t matter because you can replace him with a million other examples and it’s the same story. Every time someone whose opinion you value (or think you’re supposed to value) gets thrown into the mix, you run the risk of getting derailed and forgetting who this is really for.

You can’t rush finding product/market fit. It takes time to figure out “who it’s for.”

Your job is to be honest with yourself when it’s not working.

You’ll know you’ve hit the mark when that trying-too-hard feeling goes away. When those invisible people you made up in your head go away. When you imagine one person and you know exactly what to say to him.

That’s when you know you’ve got it.




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