And it’s not to be a generalist.

Photo by Paul Skorupskas on Unsplash

Successful internet writers will often advise you to ‘find your niche’. The argument goes like this: the internet is such a noisy place that we tune most of it out just to get through the day. We only pay attention to things that speak to us directly. So get hyper-specific with your message and your audience to find your ‘Creator-Market fit’ ASAP.

I see the logic behind this advice. But as someone who’s only been writing online for a few months, I do have one problem with it.

I find it suffocating as fuck.

And I know I’m not the…

The other day, I overheard a nursery rhyme playing in the background while my six-month-old son was chilling in his bouncer:

“There are no monsters who live in our home. There’s only me and my family…”

And it made me think: “Where the f*ck was this song when I was a kid?!”

I was afraid of witches as a kid

My cousins told me some scary a** stories about witches when I was a kid. They had leathery skin. Their feet were pointed backward. And if they looked you in the eye, they’d take your soul.

We’re afraid of what we don’t understand

There’s a lot you don’t understand as a kid. So there’s a…

This is one of the most embarrassing things I’ve ever published

I’m 36 years old. I’m supposed to have my personal finances figured out by now. But I don’t. I’m not very good at managing my money. And it’s not for lack of trying.

I know how to earn money- I just don’t know how to save or grow it

I was the youngest in a household full of professionals. So the importance of getting a good education and climbing up the corporate ladder was drilled into me by my parents and elder siblings. Here’s what we didn’t discuss at the dinner table: How to save. How to invest. How the stock market works. How the property market works. …

I’ve been living away from home since I was 16

I’m the youngest of 4. We always used to eat together as a family. My mom was the best cook in the world. My parents created a wonderful atmosphere at the dinner table. It was my safe space.

And then I had to leave home at 16 for my education. And I’ve been seeking to recreate that feeling of ‘being at home’ across 4 continents for the last 20 years. This has complicated my relationship with food.

I’m a fat guy living in a fit guy’s body

I run 6k 3–4 times a week. I do pull-ups, squats, and push-ups alongside that. I’m athletic. I also binge-eat fried chicken and…

Growing up in Pakistan in the ’90s, I was surrounded by beautiful women

But all the girls at school looked the same. Long, straight hair. Fair skin. Petite frame. And any girl who dared to be different- to have short hair or god forbid a tan because she liked playing sports after school, was branded a ‘tomboy’ and immediately relegated from the dating pool.

I never had to feel that sort of pressure as a boy. So I think that’s pretty f*cked up.

Going to uni in Australia in the mid ‘2000s, I saw the same trend in international students, particularly from South Asia

Some of these girls had full make-up and stilettos on for a 9 am lecture. …

A huge thank you to Rob Hardy, Angelo Belardi, Ian Vanagas, Mathew Vere, Art Lapinsch, Nanya, Kavir, and Soma from Foster (formerly Compound Writing) for your input on this story.

Thanks also to for the inspiration to think about multipassionate creators that ended up with me coming up with the lenses idea on a 6k run!

There is no shortage of bullsh*t in the marketing industry. And there is no shortage of people willing to peddle it under the guise of ‘thought leadership.’ However, the inconvenient truth about marketing is that while everything changes around us, human nature does not. And that’s who we’re selling to. Humans. So the fundamentals still, and always will apply:

Find a problem worth solving. Solve it. Tell people a story about how much better they’ll feel once you’ve solved the problem for them.

That’s it. That’s ̶t̶h̶e̶ ̶t̶w̶e̶e̶t marketing.

Unfortunately, that’s not great for your career as a ‘thought leader’…

I’ve been trying to do this creator thing since September while holding a part-time job at a digital marketing agency, about 4 levels junior to what I was previously on. I’m doing this 4 days a week to pay the bills (just about) and then spending weekday mornings, Fridays, and Sundays working on my own thing.

I’m consulting on content marketing, SEO, and buyer psychology as my ‘side-hustle’. And I’ve also been writing on Medium, LinkedIn, and now on Twitter.

The hardest part about this has to be feeling like you’re the only one who hasn’t got it figured out…

I think we’re still trying to figure out how to value knowledge work as a society. Business owners and managers have a hard time knowing ‘how hard’ their staff is working. But they’re asking the wrong question.

In the absence of clear indicators of what it means to be productive and valuable in their jobs, many knowledge workers turn back toward an industrial indicator of productivity: doing lots of stuff in a visible manner.

-Cal Newport, Deep Work

I actually have sympathy for these business owners and managers. I don’t know how I would handle having employees who get paid…

I rose really fast in the first 5 years of my digital marketing career. I started out as an SEO (search engine optimization) Account Executive at a boutique digital marketing agency in London around 10 years ago. I was barely earning enough to cover my rent, utilities, transport, and food. But I worked hard and rose quickly up the ranks.

I averaged a promotion every 15 months for the first 5 years of my career. By year 5 I had got my break at one of the biggest agencies in the world and was heading up the SEO account for…

Ali Q

Marketing Agency Survivor

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