What are you selling?

I have been thinking about this a lot lately. For many folks, especially those in marketing and business, this post may be a no-brainer and for that I apologize. But for many of us, especially writers, I think this warrants some thinking. I am not a marketing person and not a strategist, this is just meant to be a post to get you thinking about your work in a different way:


Disney doesn’t just sell theme park adventures or “things” – they sell memories

Martha Stewart doesn’t just sell magazines or “things” – she sells perfection (or the appearance of a picture perfect life)

Oprah doesn’t just sell her show or magazines – she sells spiritual thinking

Charmin doesn’t just sell toilet paper – they sell softness

Mercedes Benz doesn’t just sell cars – they sell luxury

State Farm doesn’t just sell insurance – they sell assurance

Nike doesn’t just sell shoes – they sell performance

Anthony Bourdain doesn’t just sell TV shows — he sells adventures, longings and, to me, visions of a dream job!!

Michael Rulman doesn’t just sell cookbooks – he sells his immense knowledge and teachings.

Ina Garten doesn’t just sell cookbooks – she sells comfort

Kim Kardashian- well, I can’t figure that one out. LOL

(You may think these brands are selling something different from the way I view them, and that is fine. The point here is to see what the brand is really about)

Now, before you take on a single new writing assignment or write one more word, think about what it is that you are selling. If you know what you are selling, it is easier to focus and create a strategy to move forward. If you don’t know what you are selling, you will be all over the board and come 2013, will be wondering why you did not make work progress in 2012.

Post your comments here and tell me what you think you are selling or want to sell as a writer. I will pick a winner from the list and send you a copy of my new e-book “In Conversation with Exceptional Women.”

This is an important exercise for anyone who is working on defining themselves. There are no wrong answers but these are important answers and remember – things will change as you grow. But it is good to have a starting point.. a point where you can see what you are selling and how to get work around that point so that you can grow your platform and your influence.

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  1. Ultimately, I am selling encouragement. I try to help folks see that they can bake well, even if they’ve never baked before.

  2. This is such great advice and a perfect reminder for me right now. Thank you! When my blog can sometimes seem like a mess of random ideas and interests, it’s important to remind myself that these actually make sense because they all are a reflection of myself and the stories I’m trying to tell.

  3. Great post! I’m selling the importance and easy of healthy family dinners.

  4. I’m selling the idea that motherhood is a journey worth documenting.

  5. Got reminded of this article on reading your post..


    As to what I sell, It wd probably be best described as an ‘innovative perspective’, .

  6. This is a great post! I’m a doula….so I guess I’m selling a positive/happy birth experience??

  7. I’m showcasing a way to keep “traditions” alive, in a modern setting. It didn’t start out that way. But feedback from my followers made me realize that.

  8. This is great, Monica. I think many writers have an aversion to the idea that they are “selling” anything at all. But, as you say, it is important to have that focus and to view our craft with a different lens. I am selling the comfort of Italian home cooking and confidence in the kitchen. As for Kim K., well we all know what she’s selling but I wouldn’t dare tarnish your lovely blog by writing it! ; )

  9. tht’s a lovely article monica- forcing me to re-think the way I project my blog . I chronicle my heart & hearth adventures and sell the idea of immense pleasure in cooking for family.

  10. I sell lifestyle. I recently discover that I do have a fabulous life after all,

  11. This post is such a wonderful reminder to focus our ideas and move forward with those ideas as our guiding light. I’m selling healthy family meals.

  12. Wooow…what an article…..its really wonderful………I am selling a feel of Royal touch for every women’s wardrobe….a royal hand embroidered range of apparels which is known for its exclusivity and artwork(www.ncstyles.com).I am also selling a platform to help women search that phenomenal woman present within them which they lose touch with time(www.udaangroup.com)….

  13. Like others, I’m selling enrichment and memories. Travel is about exploring our vast world, learning about different cultures and their foods and customs, making new friends. We return from a trip – whether vacation or business – with new experiences to add to our arsenal of fullfillment and knowledge. My mantra is: “Live life to the fullest. Travel” …. and I do.

  14. Silly me …. I forgot to mention I write for http://www.neverstoptraveling.com. Stop by the site and, please, let me know what you think about the many experiences we at Never Stop Traveling share.

  15. Just to clarify: Kim Kardashian sells vapid sexiness.

    1. The most depressing part of Kim Kardashian is that she is making a fortune – while the rest of us trudge along – doing NOTHING other than posing for the camera …. she makes 10 times what Hillary Clinton makes as Secretary of State. Mothers, how do we explain beauty versus brains to our daughters when, in reality, they see how much better the beautiful fare financially (as in super-models).

  16. GREAT list and great points!

    Muy Bueno doesn’t just sell recipes – we sell short anecdotes about the ingredients or dishes, and dramatic photos that evoke bold Mexican flavors with each recipe. Its an armchair tour of our beloved childhood and the evolution of three generations cooking old-world northern Mexican cuisine, traditional south of the border home-style dishes, and Latin fusion recipes with treasured stories.

  17. Monica, Your post lingered with me since I first read it last night. A few months ago, I drew a Venn diagram with three overlapping circles to describe my mission as a writer and photographer. Inside each circle, I wrote one word. Inspire, Entertain, & Educate. I read your post then thought about the diagram. I went back to that page and found what I’m trying to sell: Inspirtainucate with a whole lot of heart. Thanks again for a thought-provoking post and for all your support!

  18. Excellent post. I suppose I’m selling my own brand of humor and research presented in food essay-recipe form.

  19. At CheriOnIce.com I sell convenience and the peace of mind of not having to stress over making dinner.

    At CannabisCheri.com I sell the truth about an often misunderstood topic.

  20. I’m selling the belief that when we gather together to break bread, we build relationships. My passion is to educate people on the real meaning of hospitality which is ‘to love strangers.’ You can practice hospitality anywhere!

  21. I’m selling inspiration. I post recipes for the panini maker on my blog but what people are really looking for is to inspire their own creativity. For some, I also sell justification for their decision to buy a panini maker. 🙂

  22. Compared to this, writing seems easy! But I realize, as you say, that it’s essential to identify the “product” to focus and enhance the writing. Thanks for the gentle push:
    I am selling know-how from first-hand encounters with food (and the people who produce it) at its source.

  23. I think it’s important to think this way — even if you’re not thinking in terms of ‘branding’ or ‘marketing’ or SEO or what-have-you, just ask yourself “What is this story really about?” It helps you refine your thinking, make sure meanderings and digressions point towards the bigger purpose, and just makes you a better writer (whether it’s news features or blog posts).

    Although, as it’s been pointed out, it’s possible to go a bit overboard:


  24. Thank you for this post and making me think more deeply about my blog. I am selling the values that my parents have passed on to me about trying to live a quality life but to save money where possible. My dad, to this day, is a person who looks out for deals so that he can provide things for his family on his modest income. It is all done with love.

  25. This is such great food for thought. I mean, it got me thinking! I’m off to my blog to figure out just what it is I’m ‘selling’ there.

  26. With my food blog, I am selling a certain point of view that combines fun, playfulness, health and wellness. I am selling a certain sense of “it is okay to write this casually, cook this casually yet have a serious commitment to being vegetarian and healthy and happy.”

  27. Love this, Monica. It’s another reminder of the importance of goal-setting, and one excellent goal at the start of 2012 is to figure out what, exactly, we WANT to sell (maybe vs. what we ARE selling). As you’ve noted, when we do that, we make better decisions about how we use our time.

    1. Thanks. Your comment means a lot since you are the real marketing guru. I appreciate your taking the time to post.

      1. I always appreciate posts like this that make me stop and think! Thanks for sharing.

  28. Great post, Monica! I’m selling easy and delicious gluten-free recipes and tips on how to stay safe gluten free.


  29. This was such a valuable exercise for me. I have been on the cusp of reframing my blog and this post really helped me crystallize my thoughts. I am selling moments of self-renewal through tea. We’re all busy in our own ways. I have three small kids and a freelance career, others have jobs, family members to care for, etc. etc. Tea is a small and often inexpensive luxury to which we can treat ourselves, to grasp a moment of quiet and self-awareness, rest and rejuvenation.

  30. I am selling enthusiasm and the allure and love of vegetables and other plant foods.

    This is a great post and wonderful for everyone to clarify who they are and what they do.

    Thank you.

  31. This blog was referred to me by my agent and it’s haunted me ever since. I write more than one thing, so what is the common denominator? I believe I sell escape — in the form of exotic places, thrilling situations, and self-discovery.

    Wonderful post — it’ll have me thinking for quite some time to come!

    Diana Belchase

  32. I am a member of the Blackfeet Indian Tribe in Montana. When my children were small, I decided that I wanted them to carry on our traditional ways through dance. I took great joy in sewing their dance regalia but found it difficult to find the unique fabrics and notions I needed. I opened a fabric & gift store that caters to the unique needs of native communities. I recently started a blog and have struggled with what to write. Your words have helped me refocus and think about why I do what I do. Thank you. I am Native Life, and that is what I am selling.

    1. Glad to have you here, Angela.

  33. A wonderful, thoughtful post, Monica. I often tell people to try and understand what sets them apart, their area of “expertise” or their “specialty”. I love that you take that one step forward and make it even more personal, more specific. Or maybe less concrete and more emotional? And now I have to think about it! I’m selling a cultural, familial connection to food, I’m selling nostalgia, humor, the emotional side of food. And I hope people are buying it! Thanks for writing this thoughtful important post!

    1. Thanks for your support! I am glad you found the post helpful. i really appreciate your taking a moment to read it.

  34. Monica, thank you for another really interesting and insightful post. You always give me something to walk away with and give deeper thought to. For me, I’m selling the idea that cooking for yourself each and every day should be just as important as if you were cooking for someone else. That you should always take the time to cook for yourself, and to make it something that is not only quick but healthy and good for you too. Thanks again for taking this idea one step further and opening up a great discussion.

    1. So glad you found it helpful!

  35. I would never put the word “selling” close to my writing, but it’s the right choice, like it or not:) When I was younger, I just let my creativity take me wherever it wanted, unless i had a specific assignment. But now I know that I am selling that comfortable place you find in your heart when you go back to some beautiful moment in your past, when you hear the laughter of your beloved grandmother and clinking of the dishes, as you sit on the couch, feeling warm and comforted, convinced that everything is right with the world.
    Thank you, my friend, for prompting me to think this early in the morning:)

  36. Monica, it’s my first visit to your virtual space and you made me think deep! I always thought I was sharing little slice of my life with my rants, ramblings, recipes and photographs of the food I cook through my food blog! Now I am confused whether I was actually ‘sharing’ or ‘selling’ the idea of cooking traditional Indian food from scratch that many find intimidating, all after 6+ years of blogging 🙂

    1. Welcome! Hope you enjoy the blog!

  37. This exercise helped me define my style succinctly,
    ‘teaching my students to be confident in the kitchen using common sense and creativity’

    Monica, thanks for the suggestion, I love my new byline!

  38. Although I’m sharing vintage cake recipes, in the view of your article, I guess I’m really selling history…the history of American women crafting in the kitchen the way our grandmothers and great grandmothers did. Thank you for the insight.

  39. Great post. I think I sell acceptance. What do you sell?

    PS: I have a copy of your inspiring book already, so you don’t need to enter me in your draw. But thanks for the opportunity.

  40. I’m so glad I just read this again. Fantastic post — and I think it really stuck with me this year, because I feel like I made some really great progress.

  41. I never thought of my space as a place where am selling an idea- you made me think – ya we r all selling something everyday. I think am selling a beautiful comfortable feel – a place where u can put your feet up and relax, a place where a bowl of soup is making happy memories – for once u want to sit back, not run and rush and you can watch the world go by. Hmmm – did I jut write all that , I have been thinking about it – the mood of my blog for a while – nailed it !

  42. First time here, I have a food blog, I think more than selling, I am enjoying the cooking and its experience related to that. I am visiting all countries possible through my little kitchen. I am really happy abut that.

    By the way nice article.

  43. Just stumbled on this blog through a tweet and realized I share my passion for food, cooking and eating in my website: http://hotsweetspicyrecipes.com/ since my motto is cook, eat and enjoy- hot, sweet spicy! while in my movie blog I probably share my passion for movies and entertainment.-http://www.bollywoodfilmcritic.blogspot.com/ …. What ever I am selling gets paid in words and feedback. … so I guess its word for a word, a 100 % profitable enterprise 😉 ….. enjoy your writing Monica .

  44. Nice post Monica, came over here from Betty Ann Besa-Quirino. This is great advice for bloggers like myself who are pulled in a lot of different directions with our interests. If I were to distill it down, I’m selling traditional Indian cooking with an urban/local slant.

  45. I am selling culturally conscientious parenting, which includes my family’s Taiwanese foods, traditions, or just getting awareness of our increasingly diverse nation.

  46. I am selling love through food. Love of self, family, community, animals, spirituality, and our planet.

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