The beauty of non-coercive marketing, why you shouldn’t find a niche, and the economics of a paid newsletter

Building Blocks: Actionable insights to build an Intentional Life

Hey everybody,

Here’s another batch of actionable insights to start your week off right, so you can be more intentional with how you live, work, and create.

Also, there’s a new section in today’s issue, so check it out!

Let’s get started.

Insight 1: Marketing doesn’t have to be slimy

Have you ever bought something then immediately felt used?

If so, you’ve fallen victim to the worst parts of traditional marketing.

So why would you use these same tactics to market your own stuff, knowing how being on the receiving end feels?

Enter Rob Hardy: a breath of fresh air in the marketing space.

In a recent article, Rob breaks down the problems with traditional marketing and offers a new paradigm.

“[Traditional marketing’s] primary tool is weaponized insecurity, and convincing people they aren’t enough as they are. It’s an industrialized machine, churning out stories about how our emotional needs will finally be met once we have the perfect phone, car, house, vacation, business, productivity system, and on and on. But as any ardent consumer knows, believing these stories, and chasing enoughness through consumption, is the road to emptiness and despair.”

So if playing on people’s insecurities and leveraging FOMO to get the purchase at any cost lack integrity, what’s a better way?

Rob calls his new approach “non-coercive marketing.”

“Non-coercive marketing is about creating customers who are both happy and empowered. A happy customer is someone who is delighted to have done business with you. Someone whose interactions with you left them feeling respected, seen, and confident that your product is the best option for them. An empowered customer is someone whose choice to transact comes not from insecurity, but from self trust. In other words, it’s a “fuck yes” decision for them, made from a place of wholeness.”

Because a dollar earned at the cost of your integrity is worthless. But a dollar earned through integrity and trust is priceless.

If you want to dive deep into non-coercive marketing, check out Rob’s article. It’s solid.

Because, as Rob says:

“We should market to others the way we’d want to be marketed to ourselves.”

Insight 2: Ditch the niche, find a mode

There’s a growing dissatisfaction with the typical advice of “find a niche.”

Yes, there’s tons of money in finding the right niche. But, to paraphrase Walt Whitman, “we contain multitudes.”

So when we niche, especially when we niche into topics that don’t resonate with us, we eventually feel dissatisfied and disconnected from creativity—what started out as specializing turns into shoehorning.

Paul Millerd ran into this issue:

“Despite clear economic incentives and a massive audience (large SEO traffic on the blog, 15k YouTube subscriber), I find myself repeatedly struggling to create stuff for that niche.”

In this article, Paul walks us through a different approach: finding a mode we can do indefinitely.

“Find a mode where you can continue to be excited about what you are doing. Find a mode where the friction to getting started declines over time. Find a mode where you are excited to keep going despite being ignored. Find a mode where you want to do something despite not having anything to show for it or in the worst case, despite criticism.”

If you’re struggling to identifying your niche, feeling stagnant in the one you’ve chosen, or just want a different way to approach your “infinite game,” give this article a read.

Because, as Paul says:

“…the only thing that matters is having the energy, excitement, and motivation to keep going.”

Insight 3: Consistency compounds

Polina Pompliano writes The Profile, one of the most—if not the most—popular newsletters that studies the most successful and interesting people and companies in the world.

The Profile currently has an estimated tens of thousands of free subscribers and thousands of paid subscribers that generate a comfortable living for her.

She’s become an inspiration to other newsletter writers—aspiring and established alike.

But The Profile was free for three years before she offered a paid tier.

In a recent interview on Jay Clouse’s Creative Elements podcast, she talks about her journey as a writer and gives practical advice to anyone interested in creating a paid newsletter.

Three of my favorite lessons from the interview:

“Consistency + time = trust.”

“Don’t start a newsletter if you’re not going to commit to being consistent on whatever cadence you choose.”

“It’s not enough to be interesting. You have to be helpful.”

Check out the full interview here:

Question for the Week

What does integrity mean to you, and how can you approach your work with more integrity?

*New Section Alert*

I’m going to try out a new section tentatively called “Coaching Corner,” where I answer reader questions (shout out to fellow writer and psychologist Nick Wignall for the idea).

Let me know what you think about this idea!

Here’s a recent question I got on LinkedIn:

How do we foster more intrinsic motivation in an age of oversharing and attention seeking?

— Lynn

Motivation’s a weird thing.

Most of us are used to chasing extrinsic motivation—the proverbial carrot on a stick.

We’re told we’re supposed to chase money, attention, and status.

This is called the “esteem” tier on Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs. It’s the second to last tier, and 99% of people are satisfied stopping here.

In the age of social media, where vanity metrics of likes and follower count reign supreme, it’s easy to get caught up in creating content that gets superficial engagement instead of creating content that’s authentic and valuable.

But that last 1% who achieve what Maslow called “self-actualization,” are the ones who cultivate intrinsic motivation.

They don’t do it for an external reward, but because they’re internally driven to do it.

Here are three questions to help you tap into what intrinsically motivates you:

  • Who do you want to be?
  • What do you want to be known for?
  • Why do you want to have this impact on the world?

My answers so far:

  • I want to be someone who inspires people to overcome limiting beliefs, think bigger, and do work that matters.
  • I want to be known for creating kickass content that helps people flourish and build a fulfilling life and business.
  • I believe too many people die regretting not having done more with their lives, so I want to help as many people flourish as I can with the time I have left.

These three questions can help you clarify your Core Value.

To me, the first step toward cultivating intrinsic motivation, and slowly moving toward your own version of self-actualization, is clarifying your Core Value.

Because an Intentional Life is a life aligned with your Core Value.

For example, my Core Value is freedom.

So everything I do revolves around creating or protecting my own freedom, but also helping others develop their own version of freedom (through content, coaching, and courses).

I don’t put out content for likes or followers. I put out content, coach, and create courses because they allow me to live a life of freedom, and help others do the same.

If you’re interested more in this concept, check out this article where I break down how to build an Intentional Life.

Got a question you want me to answer here?

Share Your Insights

Know someone who’d love this content? Share it with them!
My goal is to help people be more intentional with how they live, work, and create.

So if you enjoy Building Blocks, I’ll be forever grateful if you help me spread these insights by sharing this issue with one other person who would find it valuable.

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Let me know what you think and what you’d like to see in future issues. I’m always working to making Building Blocks more valuable for you.

Until next time—memento mori,

Corey Wilks, Psy.D.

Licensed Clinical Psychologist

Executive Coach


Founder: Intentional Life Design