I’ve written a book. It took me a year and a half, countless tea cups, and a couple of pair of trousers that worn off because of long sitting, but is was finally there. Now the question was: how do I let people know about it?
The tricky part was that Homo Distractus (this is what the book was called) was about unplugging. It explained how we have all unnecessarily became obsessed with checking our gadgets and advocated for keeping our devices under control. I also had a zero marketing budget.
I am a former digital marketer and I know a lot about selling products online. But wouldn’t it be weird to launch my book crowdfunding campaign on unplugging by posting about it on Facebook? In Homo Distractus, I oppose the pressure that creative people have to be ‘always on’ and maintain a constant presence on social media. But I could I do differently with my own book?
I wanted to prove that ‘online’ is not the only way to attract attention. So I had to look for alternative ways.
Do what you can do best
The first, most obvious one, was doing more live talks on the topic. I love public speaking and am reasonably good at it (I did a TEDx talk). So I scheduled as many talks as I could fit in 5 weeks of the campaign. It was the first time I decided to charge for them, explaining all funds will go to support my book. Surprisingly, all my talks sold out, and quite a few people attending the talks ordered the book.
What I learned: 1. Focus on what you do best, and rely on your partners to do the rest (in this case, online promotion). 2. There’s already lots of free stuff out there. Start charging, it creates value in the eyes of attendees.
A website that forces you to unplug
The second way to promote the book offline came out of a pure chance. I came across an article about a guy who created a website that would only show its content if you disable internet. I wrote him on Twitter, asking whether he’d be interested in collaborating. I didn’t expect any answer, but really liked the concept.
To my surprise, Chris Bolin (this was his name) was fast to reply, and he liked the idea… and so in a few days we’ve put up homodistractus.com, the first website that forces you to unplug. We wanted to re-create the experience of being focused and attentive even when you are connected. So the website is designed the way that it only shows you content if you disable your wifi. It explains, how ‘always on’ makes us distracted and stupid. When you reconnect again, it redirects you to the crowdfunding page. We’ve had quite a few backers coming from this website.
What I’ve learned: 1. Always take a chance, even if you think it’s minimal. 2. Rather than avoiding something, think how you can build on top of it (in my case, how to improve online experience, not get rid of it).
Making a fool out of myself
Towards the end of the campaign, donations started slowing down (which usually happens), so I needed to find a way to boost them. I ordered stickers that said ‘Your time is limited’ and ‘This device is just a tool’ that you could put on your devices to remind yourself to browse mindfully. They also included links to homodistractus.com.
Then I and my friend borrowed colour pens and paper from her 5-year old daughter (thank you, Anna and Cecilia!) and spent the whole morning drawing a poster. One side of it said ‘1/3 of us would rather give up sex than a smartphone’ (quote from a BCG study), and the other ‘Do you manage your device, or does it manage you?’
Using girl’s umbrella as a holder, I went with this amateur into the ‘digital heart’ of London and spend my lunch wandering around Old Street and giving out ‘mindful’ stickers. While I’ve attracted a few sceptical looks, overall people have been really friendly and we got a few backers. However, the biggest effect was on my existing social media following: probably people were so impressed by how I made a fool out of myself that it became our biggest donation day throughout the campaign.
What I’ve learned: It’s about a balance. Online blends nicely with offline. People like to have offline experiences, but getting them to talk about this online amplifies your reach.
As of writing this blog post, we’re 94% financed, and still have 3 days to go. To get your copy of Homo Distractus or digital detox cards, please, check our Indiegogo campaign.
A parent tried our mini digital detox: “It has improved my time at home and some of my workflow habits”
Mum-blogger Paola tried our digital detox cards for one week, and wrote about her experience with it. We’re publishing a short version, and the full one can be found on her blog.
“I am a mother to two children aged 2 and 4. I live in Finland, and here many children have a smartphone by school age. I’ve now been Facebook-free for over three years and spent around six months smartphone-free last year before joining a new workplace where I could not live without. I wondered, how a mini detox will affect my work as an IT professional? How about my family time? Will it be liberating as when I gave up my smartphone?”
Usually I spend the evening working or blogging at my laptop and interrupt my flow several times by checking social media on my phone. When I’m too tired, I turn on the TV and watch some Netflix show or Youtube videos.
Beside giving up that, I also decided to do something really special for my challenge first day. After my kids’ bedtime I went out to a pub with my brother, something I hadn’t done in ages. On my way back, I completely turned off the phone and kept it that way until morning. When I got home, my first instinct was to check my social media, but I’m glad I resisted the temptation. The world definitely went on without me checking on Instagram.
This task was easy for me, as I disabled most notifications on my phone long ago. However, it was refreshing to disable even text notifications for a whole day! I went one step further and kept my work internal chat closed most of the times. I was the one deciding when it was time to open it and see if anyone needed my help. That helped a lot with my concentration and I could check a few things off my backlog. At home, I always keep my phone silent as I find notifications are distracting for my kids as well. A text message ping can disrupt nice playing and they are immediately dragged towards my phone.
This was a nightmare for me. I am the queen of browser tabs. You know how bad it is? Generally I have three browsers working, some with multiple windows and each windows fills the maximum number of tabs and counting. Oh, then there are the terminal tabs, where I code. For my job, I need some multiple tabs open, even for working on a single task. However, 90% of my tabs are just to blame on my obsessive multitasking. Some are blog posts or articles I keep open for weeks, before accepting the harsh reality I’ll never actually read them. There’s the ever-notifying internal work chat. When I got the task from Anastasia I did the unthinkable. I dragged my cursor to the small circle on the upper left corner of the screen. It shined red before I clicked… and there, all gone. Starting from zero, here. Since then I’ve made a resolution of closing the internal chat and just opening it regularly to check if I have important messages, without allowing notifications to break my focus. Moreover, I now plan to keep a minimum number of tabs open, to allow me to focus more on one task at a time. I’m really curious to see how this will affect my work in the long run!
For the full week of detox, check out Paola's blog.
To get a set up of 30 digital detox cards for yourself or as a gift for your loved ones, check out our crowdfunding campaign.
Dr Anastasia Dedyukhina is a keynote speaker, author of Homo Distractus, professional coach and a pioneer of the Consciously Digital™ concept.