The Secret to Overcoming Creative Blocks

Overcoming Creative Blocks

One of my favorite challenges at my job is learning how to be a good manager. You might have heard the expression, “people join companies and leave bosses”.

My goal as a new manager is to not be the reason someone leaves.

It's challenging to motivate, inspire, and direct people to do their job while also holding them accountable. And it's especially challenging in a creative field. You need to be in the right headspace to create.

A few weeks back one of my teammates had a creative block and was falling behind on a project. I took note to find a solution to help her get over her creative block in a hopeful and inspiring way.

Starting Facebook Ads

One of the exciting things we're doing at PMPro is testing Facebook Ads. We don't think it will be a huge traction channel for us. But it's worth creating some ads, updating a landing page, and tracking how many people will actually convert. Maybe it will be a channel which will add a lot to our business. 🤷

You won't know until you test it. 🧑‍🔬

So we created a project to research industry ads, update a landing page, create Facebook Ads, and measure the ads for 2-4 weeks. After the research phase I received this message from one of my teammates:

Delay the Facebook ads project
I'm stuck – can we push back the deadline?

10 days before the deadline to create ads my team member was asking for an extension. And while personal stress could be the culprit, after talking with my team member it was clear inexperience is the root cause. She didn't believe in herself and she didn't know where to start.

I thought about this for a day. And the next morning gave her a challenge.

The Challenge – Just Start

We wanted to create 20 graphics for Facebook knowing we'd probably cut it down to 5-10 finished graphics. And that felt too big for my teammate. It was too intimidating. And when you don't know where to start it can prevent you from making any progress at all. 😩

So I decided to give my teammate a little nudge.

Clear your calendar. Today you're going to create 50 Facebook ads.
Clear your calendar. Today you're going to create 50 Facebook ads.

Drop all of the routine tasks you typically do. Focus entirely on Facebook ads. And create 50 of them.

Keep in mind the original ask is to create 20 in 2 weeks. So this seems pretty crazy.

The trick that makes it work is that they don't have to be good. You have to force yourself to create but if they're not high quality that's fine.

So did she finish? Absolutely. 💪

Were they horrible? Not at all. Many of the ads we finished a week later took inspiration from her original 50.

The Results

Here are some of my team mates initial ads that she created in just 1 day and the finished version a week later.

Facebook Ad for a webinar with Paid Memberships Pro co-founder
Facebook Ad for a webinar with Paid Memberships Pro co-founder

This ad focused on a webinar which is “one more thing” on the landing page to remove users fears. I like the idea of showing a real life person, and not just anyone but the co-founder of PMPro.

Facebook ad to start, manage, and grow your membership site
Facebook ad to start, manage, and grow your membership site

I really liked the headline “Start, manage, & grow your membership site”. The graphics are beautiful but doesn't match our branding. So we kept the headline, added a real person, and made the graphics consistent with our brand.

Facebook ad for creators like you
Facebook ad for creators like you

This ad focused on “People like you” and I love that. I love trying to connect with our audience. We put a lot of effort to understand our audience. We have conversations with them, we collect survey information, and we compile all of that data which helps prioritize our product backlog.

And since that's part of our ethos I want to put it in our ads and attract those people to us. Again we made this more personal by adding a real life person and we tweaked the headline.

Facebook ad highlighting features
Facebook ad highlighting features

This is one of my favorites. I liked the idea of showing off some features in colored circles. The graphics were cheesy and the headline needed some work. But I like the idea of showing the breadth of what Paid Memberships Pro can do.

We replaced features with intuitive icons, we totally revamped the headline, and spent a bunch of time making sure the alignment and arrangement worked.

Just Get Started

I'm really happy with the results. If I extended the deadline we'd probably still be stuck. Instead, we finished our ads a week ahead of time and they're great.

If someone on your team is stuck and they're worried about what they have to create one of the best things you can do it force them to start. Oftentimes our logical / rational brain is too critical. And if you start creating and just make things you'll get very good very fast.

You can come back to your creation later and turn on your editing brain to see if there's anything that's actually good and worth saving. And usually there is at least a seed of something good.

To make this work – if you do force someone to start you can't judge them on their creations. That's critical. They have to learn to let their creative side come out and create without judgement. Even if some of the creations are bad.

If you're stuck – just get started. You'll thank yourself later.

One thought on “The Secret to Overcoming Creative Blocks

  1. Creative blocks can happen when you overthink and is actually a mental block. Once you start going the creativity will start flowing. Patrick, you have done an amazing job to motivate your teammate. Glad to see everything working well.

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