Should You Publish (or Even Sell) Something When It’s Just Not Good Enough?

July 11, 2017 ​- 34 Comments

This is a further video in my series about why publishing lots of stuff is more important than publishing great stuff.

One of the things that holds entrepreneurs back from publishing content and launching products is this creeping feeling of "it's just not good enough".

Is this a justification for not publishing? Isn't it better to spend more time working on your content or product, so that what you will eventually release will actually be good?

The answer depends on why you hesitate to publish in the first place, as you'll see in today's video.


If you watch this and you still feel unsure, keep in mind that I'm making these posts and videos as an example of what I'm talking about. Ask yourself: would prefer these simple, short, unpolished videos not to exist? They aren't my best work, but if I'm right about my quantity over quality theory, then they're still valuable. Valuable enough to publish, even if they aren't perfect.

And if you happen to agree that these not-so-great videos are worth publishing, then I urge you to apply the same reasoning to your own content.

Let me know what you think, by leaving a comment below!

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About ​Shane Melaugh

I'm the founder of ActiveGrowth and Thrive Themes and over the last years, I've created and marketed a dozen different software, information and SaaS products. Apart from running my business, I spend most of my time reading, learning, developing skills and helping other people develop theirs. On ActiveGrowth, I want to help you become a better entrepreneur and product creator. Read more about my story here.

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  • Shane, I love you for this video! It is so clear and it comes directly from your heart. Thank you for all your teaching you give out.

    • Thank you for your comment, Martin! It means a lot to me, to know that the message reached you.

  • WowWow Shane, I really enjoyed this video and your direct approach. For people wh who are having trouble getting started, just do it. Don’t put it off. Great stuff Shane. thanks

    • Thank you, Sam! I appreciate that you took the time to leave an encouraging comment like this.

  • Thank you, Shane your words are inspiring. What I’ve taken most from this is that if you make a difference for just one person, you’re doing what you set out to do. It’s a scary prospect when you think that you have to please so many people [out there] yet keeping the focus simple, will get you over the fear of taking those first steps. Fantastic!

    • Thank you for your comment, Janice.

      Yes, this is definitely how I feel about it. Making a difference to one person is worth a lot of effort, in my opinion. And it’s one of the things that draws me to creating content and teaching. In my life, there have been some moments where I read something or someone told me something that made a profound difference. I’m very grateful for this and I’m driven by the idea of providing the same kind of value to others.

  • Martin (the comment below), was right, you are the man!
    Seriously, I appreciate your work, keep it coming. It’s helping me big time.

  • Wow…just what I needed to hear today.

    I suffer from perfectionism and have put off doing my courses because I feel they might get the gong!

    I make videos and spend hours trying to look like a hollywood super star and they never get published!

    I have had several successful business in my past.

    Today you brought back to my memory the magic element that made them successful-my sencerity to help others!

    The late Zig Ziglar said, if you help enough people get what they want, you get what you want!

    Thanks Shane for reminding me what is most to others!

    • You’re not alone with this. This fear of publishing is very common among creative workers. And it’s something that I myself haven’t fully gotten over, either. Every time I publish something, I still worry that it’s not good enough, that it will waste people’s time.

      I mention this because maybe it’s best not to expect to get over this fear and feel totally comfortable. That’s not the solution. The solution is basically to have to courage to be afraid and publish anyway.

  • As I said on YouTube… Standing ovation with tears of inspiration. You are officially one of my heroes!

  • Ana Páscoa says:

    Hi Shane,
    Sometimes it seems that you hears our thoughts, our fears.
    At this moment I already joined a course to teach me how to create my course. I thought I were happy after that, but there is a terrifying fear of starting, of failing. I know I just need to get started. Take the first steps.
    Thank you for your always encouraging words, so I love you. Thrive Team

    • Thank you for your comment, Ana!

      Like I mentioned below, this fear is normal and it may never go away. But you can get used to publishing anyway (and then moving on to create the next thing).

  • Kevin Cheng says:

    Ok, Shane – with your message in this video, it’s like you’ve read my mind for the millionth time (‘millionth’ because I follow your blog and Thrive’s blog from using Thrive products). I have perfectionism so stubborn and entrenched it’s hard to push it away when I work. I do CARE, and I hesitate to publish because although I know fully well what I’m teaching (the knowledge itself), teaching that knowledge well so that people will grasp it the best (and retain it and actually apply that knowledge) is an entirely DIFFERENT thing from just knowing it myself.

    Where I’ve spent (wasted) countless hours, weeks, months on is that I keep adjusting, changing (sometimes massive changes, other times smaller) the way I teach something or present an idea. There are a million ways to approach teaching someone a new concept. I love to use analogies and stories because I feel people will remember that more than me just stating some fact or idea plainly. Just to give you an example of my struggle: Midway through an analogy I’ve been making (multiple paragraphs now of text and maybe some images I’ve found and pasted in already), I thought of a better analogy and I just CANNOT PASS IT UP. I just have to replace that analogy I’ve been working on with my new idea. I know you would say, “Kevin, just keep going and don’t change it.” But once I know a better presentation of a topic, I just can’t. How can I not do it when I know it’s better? (This would be a loud persistent voice in my head.)

    So, to sum this up, this constant iteration of improving my content (for free content as well as my course that I’ve been working on for months now) has been preventing from publishing bigtime. When I’m away from my work, I actually kind of hate myself for the delaying and the iterating, but while I’m working, it always seems I’m too immersed in the details to stop the “improving” and just publish this version. I even tell myself this is just version 0.1, I can always improve in future versions, but it’s been so hard.

    I really needed to hear this from someone like yourself who I feel is doing all that you do from your heart and is highly successful at what you do. You’ve inspired me to dig deeper to keep my perfectionism from sabotaging the value and help I can ALREADY BE giving my audience. Like you said, if even one person’s life can be positively impacted, that is worth publishing something that’s imperfect (or even ‘crappy’), which I can always be improving as I go. I’ll keep this in mind. Thanks again!

    • Thank you for your comment, Kevin.

      I know exactly what you mean. I struggled with this a lot, for a long time. And even though I’ve built a habit of shipping rapidly, that “you should re-do it and make it better” voice in my head has never gone away.

      A mindset change is difficult, of course (and we’re actually going to talk about that on the podcast, shortly), but I implore you to watch this video again and pretend it’s your content, not mine. Look at this video, man. The lighting is flat and gloomy, I look tired (and also sad in the thumbnail, as someone told me yesterday), it takes me several minutes to get to the point, there are moments of hesitation, I clear my throat in the video at some point…

      And are there any great analogies or stories or anything?


      I basically just published a video of a tired guy rambling for a few minutes.

      There are a million ways in which this video could be improved. And not only ways in which it could theoretically be improved – I know (and everyone in my audience knows) that I am realistically and practically capable of creating a much better, much more polished video than this.

      But here’s the one important thing: the perfectionist imagines that the alternative to publishing this rushed, unpolished video is to publish a much better, nicer looking, better, sounding and better structured version of this video.

      But that’s not true. The alternative is to not publish anything at all.

      This is what I’ve learned.

      I recorded this after recording a different, longer video, just before I took down my whole video setup. The day after, I got on a plane to move to a new location. By the time a new chance would have come around to record this, my to-do list was already flooded with countless other projects, tasks, fires to put out…

      Had I not done this, it would have never happened.

      And even if I would have later found the time to shoot a better version of this video, it would have come at the expense of something else. I could have made a better version of this instead of recording a new podcast episode. Instead of publishing a new blog post. Instead of doing something else important.

      That’s what I keep reminding myself of. The alternative is not “better, later”.

      • Kevin Cheng says:

        Hey Shane – Thanks so much – I really appreciate your time and thoughts on this! Yep, I’m definitely keeping in mind that the alternative is very often (and very likely to be) not publishing at all. Already feeling that this mindset shift is helping me move on to the next thing easier. Looking forward to that upcoming podcast episode!

  • Very inspiring Shane! I am a fan of you for quite a long time now, and you have never disappointed me! You are so genuine and authentic! Thanks for that!

  • Thanks for this Shane – I really need to hear this right now! :)

  • Lorenzo D says:

    Clearly, this affects a lot of us.

    But after all, this is a website for creators who aspire to “build GREAT products and sell MORE of them”. So from the get go we are talking about improving, improving, improving. That’s what drives us.

    And the fear is part of that I think. It’s this nagging discomfort we get from a performance/product we perceive as “mediocre”. And if we didn’t feel like that, we would not be motivated to improve our stuff and other people’s lives through it, right? For some reason, “positive” motivation is never quite as powerful as “negative” motivation.

    What I’m saying is, maybe these feelings are not a FLAW, they’re just part of being who we are, and doing what we do. And sure, we have to learn how to deal with them, how to channel them constructively, but maybe also, on a deeper level, just accept them as organic to our role in society, to our identity as creators.

    So my suggestion for deeper inner game here would be “don’t be angry at your fear and perfectionism, embrace them as an aspect of what drives you to create good things”.

    The “even if I help just one person” thing doesn’t do it for me though. Because, what about the OTHER 200 people whose time and money I have wasted with a mediocre product? That’s not +1, that’s -199.

    What I find very useful instead, is reminding myself of the REAL alternative: not publishing anything at all, or sacrificing something else important. That definitely solves it on an emotional level.

    That, and getting used to the idea that you get this feeling every time, so getting over it every time is simply PART OF THE JOB.

    With all that said, don’t take this the wrong way, but I’m not so sure these unpolished videos are delivering less value than the ones you spend a lot more time on. As far as actual content goes, yeah, of course if you take more time to gather more useful information and articulate it more clearly, you’re going to give me more value in the end, but as far as presentation goes? This style makes you seem closer, warmer and more relatable. The small imperfections make it feel more natural and therefore more engaging. I find myself thinking more about what you said just because you said it naturally, like a friend I could be talking to in a bar. I probably wouldn’t be writing this comment if you used a more “professional”, “detached” style.

    That probably works best if you keep both styles: the professional one, to show you can do it and raise your status and authority, and the simpler, warmer one, to make the audience feel they are close to a a great professional. I would consider keeping this style as the default style for AG, and the polished one for TT, and mixing it up every now and then.

    • Yeah, I agree about perfectionism not necessarily being a flaw. The way I see it, it’s a force. And like any force, whether it’s good or bad depends on what you do with it.

      With perfectionism, we usually default to letting it hold us back, which is bad. But my experience is definitely that I didn’t overcome or eliminate perfectionism – instead, I learned to channel it. I apply it to things like product and UI design, where attention to small details is a real asset. And I don’t apply it to things like making this video, where it would just make everything take longer without adding significant value.

      It’s also an interesting point about videos being “too professional”. I love good lighting and good audio, but I always try to avoid coming across as overly scripted or overly dry and politically correct, for that matter. That’s one of the reasons I don’t script my videos. I still want it to be me, talking like I do in real life.

  • Great point Shane, so often we are held captive to perfection.

  • Trish Stuart says:

    Wow. I agree with everyone else. I am very grateful for you and also Hanne.

    Your transparency about the struggles and challenges and your encouragement as well as very practical steps is so valuable.
    I have been floundering for almost a year. Pulled in way too many directions right now but I was compelled to get this together. I didn’t want to recreate the wheel and what I have learned has been helpful but I think I have enriched a number of people a lot more than they have enriched me. The content you are providing is amazing. I’m still wary of diving into things now but you are giving such down to earth advice coupled with being open about yourself. I relate to so much that you are saying and it gives me confidence that you are really trying to help. I also recognize that you need to make a living. Seeing how you are creating customer evangelists is a lesson in itself and I am becoming one in this process.

    Your encouragement does restore courage. Your practicality is refreshing. Your lack of trying to convince me to buy something before I have time to know you is amazing. The hope you instill? That’s so huge. Thank you.

    • Thank you very much, Trish! This is one of the most encouraging comments I have ever gotten. It really means a lot to me. Especially on a video like this, where I really wasn’t sure if this was going to be useful to anyone.

  • elizabethvillegas92 says:

    This is amazing. Love the direction that you guys are going with this podcast and website.

    This is my biggest challenge. Fearing that it isn’t good enough for people and that it won’t produce results for them (health coach). So then I never begin. When I create things I indulge in confusion and tell myself “I don’t even know what I’m doing” or ” Is this even going to work out, is this what they need”. I still ask these questions after going through my avatar creation and learning and reading everything I can.

    This is helpful. Thank you!

    • This is something you can definitely overcome, Elizabetz. It’s not easy and as far as I know, there’s no instant fix for it, either. But you can keep reminding yourself to focus on what really matters and not get distracted by these doubts.

  • Sam Shamas says:

    Wow. It’s like I heard you talk at exactly the right time. Here I am trying to figure out if this PDF/Blueprint Lead magnet is good enough. Im working on setting up an agency type business. I’m struggling to design the website. I keep thinking its not good enough. I watched most of your YouTube videos especially the ones where you are recreating websites with the Content Builder. The last one I saw was the one of Neil Patel’s Landing page. I just compare everything I do because I want to be taken seriously, professionally, and be trusted. Im sitting here now trying to also create a great Lead Magnet. Is the design good enough? Is it too long? too short? Is it random information they can find on google instead of opting in and downloading my shitty lead magnet? If I am not so easily impressed, then surely others are just like me. If my expectations of myself are high, then surely others will expect the same things i expect.This is just far from from true. I like what you said. What matters is that it comes from the right place. It might not be perfect, but with time it will get better. But it should always come from the right place. That should always remain constant. If I focus on that. I can beat the perfection monster. I will focus on doing what I can to help offer someone value. Thank you for this video. Perfect timing. Hope you continue to create more podcasts, especially about how to work with/get clients and overcome the barriers everyone starting faces.Thrive themes is awesome, but your content makes the biggest difference..

    • Thank you for your comment, Sam! It means a lot to me to know that this message reached you and can make a difference for you.

  • Wow, it’s suddenly so dusty in here… #somethinginmyeye

    As I push through the final bits of launching a definitely not good enough first membership site that I’ve wanted to create for 2 years, I really appreciate this good word!

    Thank you.

    • Thank you for your comment, Kronda! All the best with your launch! Drag than thing across the finish line, no matter what it takes. :)

  • Francesco P. says:

    Wow Shane! “Is Your Heart in This?”, “Do You Care?” are the most simple and powerful messages I heard, that energized me to go ahead with my goals. Thank you very much for this video.

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