The Evidence Filter: Why You Shouldn’t Take All the Advice You Hear

I realize the irony of this statement (being the title) since all I do on this blog is give out advice. And you might expect me to say “except for mine, of course”. But I’m not going to say that. And here’s why. There is a plethora of advice out there on the internet, in ebooks, in real books (people still read those, right?), and in other places. People will give you advice all the time. Sometimes it’s easy to spot the advice that is a little sketchy – you know like the Nigerian Prince that thinks you should send him your bank account info. But when it comes to your freelance career, you’ll seek out (and get) a lot of advice. Some of it will be from super experienced people who have written for Fortune 500 companies and been published in every magazine under the sun. (That’s not me yet, just so you know.) 🙂 So why shouldn’t you cling to every word they say? 

Because they’re not you. 

If someone had the single, sole, only effective method to freelance success, don’t you think they’d be rich enough to buy the world in all the money they’d have made teaching it to people? Why are there so many successful teachers and mentors in freelancing – or any career, for that matter? Because everyone learns differently, and no single plan will work for everyone. 

Let me give you a story to explain why I’m saying this. 

I follow a blog and am a member of a membership site hosted by a super successful freelancer. I’m not naming names only because I wouldn’t want anyone to think that I’m speaking negatively about this person. I’m not. I’m just using it as an illustration. So I signed up for this membership site, and there was a four hour long presentation in the archives on website building and how to build a website that works. 

I was SO excited. I took every note I could take, set up a completely new website, tried to implement everything I was taught…and then realized something. 

I already have clients that I obtained from my current site. Obviously people found me. My site doesn’t say I have a niche, or a specialty, or have a “focus” – but people have still hired me. 

I spent three full days listening to all the advice I could get from that website/membership site, and another full week reading this person’s blog. Did I learn a lot? Absolutely. Did I waste a lot of time? Absolutely. 

Now I’m not saying that self development and learning about your business is a waste of time – you need to do it. But you also need to write. So don’t let it consume your life. 

But back to the point – don’t take everything you hear as law. Spend a few minutes a day or one afternoon a week reading up on your business or marketing. But use your own judgement when it comes to deciding which pieces of advice work for you and which don’t. 

How? I call it the evidence filter. 

Every piece of advice you get, you should filter through the evidence you have. I had evidence that a client found my site and hired me. So the piece of advice that said I should have this certain specific setup for my site didn’t really pass through the filter. 

The advice that I should add an opt-in did, and now I have that on my site. Advice I received about marketing to bigger clients rang true with me, and I shifted my marketing plan a bit. 

But not every piece of advice is going to fit in with your reality and your business. There are a lot of super successful people in the world, and I doubt that any two of them took the same exact path to get where they are. Even within one industry. 

Spending hours creating a brand new website when the one I have was working just fine and only needed a few tweaks – kind of a waste of time. It’s easy to get super excited about advice you get from someone who knows what they’re talking about. And all of their advice is probably really valid – I mean it worked for them. But that doesn’t mean that all of their advice is applicable to you. 

Find the balance between believing every word everyone says and arrogantly blowing off sound advice. Over time you’ll learn to pick and choose the advice that passes through the evidence filter and rings true with your business, personality, goals, and life. 

In the meantime, just realize that the advice you take is like the income you make. It shouldn’t all come from one place. 🙂 

Until next time – happy writing! 

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