If You Can’t Beat ‘Em, Join ‘Em: The Baby Carrot Story and Using Personality in Marketing

Baby Carrots_blog image

 

Consider the carrot. The baby carrot, to be precise.  

A nutritious, wholesome, feel-good snack you can feel smug about eating, what with its minimal calories and healthy dose of good-for-you beta-carotene.

And sure, they’re good for you, but the truth is, they’re just not that interesting, are they? I mean, carrots, right? They’ve been around for 2000 years, they’re not trendy or hip like ramps or kale, or whatever other produce happens to be taking its star turn this year; they’re not really unique or special in any way. 

So, what if it was your task to “brand” them? What if you had to come up with a way to position baby carrots so they could compete with, say, cheetohs, potato chips or other junk food as a snack alternative?

Maybe you’d think, well, let’s promote their health benefits, that’ll do it!

Unfortunately, that line of thinking happens not to work all that well.

(Horrifying factoid: In 2012, $116 million dollars was spent on advertising fruit and veggies. And $2 billion was spent on advertising junk food to kids.  Yes, you read that right – $2 billion dollars.  Damn, that’s a lot of money spent to convince kids to eat crap!)

Even though print and online publications have been touting the joys and benefits of eating fruits and vegetables for years, not to mention many dozens of stories appearing on TV about the dangers of unhealthy eating, produce still has trouble competing for our shopping dollars, and per capita consumption isn’t up.

What’s a carrot seller to do?  And what’s the point of all this talk about carrots, anyway?  

My point, and I do have one, is that with enough creativity and resourcefulness, you can uncover the benefits and bring out the personality of any boring old thing to make it interesting and appealing to your audience, as I talked about previously here

Bolthouse Farms did this with carrots a few years ago. And if you can do it for carrots, you can do it for your creative products and services.

How Bolthouse Farms Transformed Carrots from Boring Agricultural Commodity to Cool, Crave-able Snack

A few years ago, Jeffrey Dunn, President and CEO of Bolthouse Farms, which grows and processes more than a billion pounds of carrots a year, was shopping for an ad agency to help create a campaign around baby carrots. Bolthouse had never marketed its carrots before, but sales were down, so Dunn decided to shake things up and get creative.

But he didn’t want to appeal to smarts and responsibility as in, “eat carrots because they’re good for you,” he wanted to market his company’s baby carrots in a different way. He knew that pitting the health benefits of the cute veggie against the perils of eating junk food wasn’t going to cut it. Instead he wanted something funny and emotional that appealed to impulse snacking.

Enter ad agency Crispin Porter + Bogusky.  Instead of pitching a campaign centered around the health benefits of carrots, Crispin proposed aligning the baby carrot with junk food.

In an article in Fast Company, Omid Farhang, vice president and creative director at Crispin, said “The truth about baby carrots is they possess many of the defining characteristics of our favorite junk food. They’re neon orange, they’re crunchy, they’re dippable, they’re kind of addictive.”

The idea was to do the same kind of marketing for carrots as for things like Coke and cheetohs, because as Dunn was quoted as saying in the Fast Company article, “If all we do is tell people fruits and vegetables need to be part of their diet or they’re not going to be healthy – the rational approach – we have zero chance.”  

Think about it – we already know we need to eat our veggies, so telling us that in an ad campaign has no impact. As Farhang said, “What a silly use of advertising dollars to tell people that vegetables are healthy.”

Instead, the campaign they rolled out featured new packaging in which baby carrots were packaged like Doritos, in a crinkly potato chip bag with junk-food-style graphics, and an ad campaign with taglines such as “Eat ‘Em Like Junk Food” and “Baby Carrots: The Original Orange Doodles.”

You can read more about the whole she-bang in the fabulous article in Fast Company, “How Carrots Became the New Junk Food.” And check out the Bolthouse Farms website here for a great example of how to position with personality in order to stand out in your niche.

Marketing Lessons and Questions to Ponder

I don’t know if it’s because I once worked for an ad agency and I appreciate a killer creative marketing campaign when I see one, but I haven’t been able to get the Baby Carrots story out of my head since I first heard about it late last year.

It’s proof that positioning with personality works.  (Sales in Bolthouse’s test markets went up 10% to 12% over the year before in the year following the test campaign.)

Think about how Bolthouse Farms went against the standard approach in this campaign by deciding not to use a health benefits approach, instead aligning themselves with junk food.  How can you apply this kind of creative thinking to your own marketing?

Consider how Bolthouse uses personality to transform baby carrots from a healthy, but boring vegetable into a hip, crave-able snack.  Are there ways you can do this with your creative products and services?

Share your thoughts in the comments! 

[Sign up for free weekly updates and get instant access to the CREATIVE REBEL GUIDE TO WRITING A CLIENT-ATTRACTING ABOUT PAGE, plus copywriting & web marketing tips and other goodies for creative freelancers & biz owners that I only share with my subscribers, delivered straight to your inbox each Tuesday.]  

 

What is a Signature Marketing Message and Why Do You Need One ASAP? So You Can Stand Out Online, Attract Your Ideal Clients, and Get More Business, Bookings, and Sales

create a signature marketing message

Photo by rawpixel on Unsplash

[*This is one of the lessons from my soon to be launched complimentary e-course, 11 Days to a Signature Marketing Message That Sells: A Totally Free Course for Creative Business Builders, Solopreneurs and Small Business Owners. If you’d like to get notified when the free course opens (sometime in early 2019), hop on my main email list here, and I’ll let you know when it’s ready for ya! *By the way, if you get on that list, you’ll also be signed up for my weekly Tuesday emails.]

I talk frequently on this blog, in my weekly emails, and with my private clients about the importance of creating a signature marketing message for your business.

A signature marketing message gives your ideal clients and customers a compelling reason to choose you, rather than one of the other 567,878 creatives online who offer the same products and services you do.

And it’s ab-so-lute-ly essential to have yours dialed in if you want to differentiate your business and get traction with the clients and customers you truly want to serve.

What is a signature marketing message?

Here’s how I define it: A signature marketing message is the combination of things about you and your business — that you already possess! — that put together the right way, will help you attract and connect with your ideal clients & customers, stand out from the online crowd (instead of being a copycat version of every other person for hire out there doing what you do), and help you get more business, bookings and sales.

It’s created from your ideal client profile, your unique selling proposition (USP), or what I prefer to call your “meaningful difference,” your expertise, and your unique backstory, among other things.

Your signature marketing message conveys why you’re exactly the right person or business to solve your target audiences’ problems and challenges, and it begins to tell them how you’ll do so. Your messaging should strike an emotional cord with your ideal/desired audience, and make them feel like, “Yes, this is exactly who I want to work with. Where do I sign up?”

Here’s another way to think of it:

The hook/big idea/marketing message of your business answers the question, “Of all the other [thing you do] out there who are equally talented, skilled, and experienced, why should your ideal clients choose you?” [This, by the way, is the exact question I answer for each client I work with before I begin writing copy for them.]

 For example, let’s say you’re a wedding photographer. Ask yourself:

Of all the wedding photographers in my area who are equally talented, skilled, and experienced, why should my ideal clients choose me?

Signature Marketing Message Examples

Keep in mind as you review these examples that they’re the distillation of A LOT of information – the ideal client profile, including the challenges the ideal client wants resolved, the unique selling proposition or meaningful difference of the business, and more.

What that means is that these brief statements are part of a much larger whole that will be communicated across your website, your social media channels, and in all your marketing communications, and will include some of the other elements as well, such as your expertise, your unique backstory, and so on.

And what THAT means is that this one brief statement alone isn’t going to get people beating down your door to work with them – you have to communicate with your right people in language that resonates with them and provides the solution they seek, in every place they come across you and your brand, online and otherwise – but nailing down this distilled message is absolutely essential to getting traction online and making those dollah dollah bills, y’all. 

Let’s look at some examples:

[By the way, USP = Unique Selling Proposition and MD = Meaningful Difference]

My Messaging/USP/MD: I help established creative service providers and small businesses discover their meaningful difference and communicate it online with personality-driven web copy, email copy, and other marketing communications that ensure they stand out in an overcrowded market, attract & connect with their ideal clients, & get more bookings, business & sales.

Messaging/USP/MD I created for a luxury wedding photographer:  “I’m a North Carolina wedding photographer specializing in fashion-inspired bridal portraits and luxury wedding photography for stylish, fun couples who value photography as an art, and want a high-end, signature experience on their wedding day.”

For the copy on this photographer’s website Home page, I also wrote: “My style isn’t for everybody, but for the select couples I choose to work with each year who resonate with my approach, I aim to create extraordinary art that will be cherished for generations.”

Messaging/USP/MD I created for another wedding photographer, one who provides one-of-kind fine art wedding photography to mostly first-time brides:  “I’m an Arizona fine art wedding photographer who specializes in working with modern young first-time brides who want fine art quality photography, a friendly partner in the planning process, and someone who can make them feel relaxed, at ease, and naturally beautiful in every single shot.”

Messaging/USP/MD I created for a business strategist, coach and consultant: “I’m a business strategist, coach and consultant. Using a mixture of inspiration, encouragement, and tough love, I apply my 13+ years of real-world business experience – including lessons learned bootstrapping two businesses to 7 figures, having $100K launch days, and getting my products into Target and Anthropologie – to help solopreneurs and small business owners get unstuck and achieve their business goals & dreams. If you’re serious about creating a meaningful, purpose-driven business that supports you, and you’re ready to apply proven business strategies delivered by someone who understands where you are, and can help get you where you want to be, I would love to support you.”

These distilled messages were put together AFTER working with each of these clients intensively to determine who their ideal clients and customers were, and what their meaningful difference in the marketplace was.

In the example of my own marketing message, I’ve done loads and loads of work to identify what my ideal clients most struggle with, and it’s this: standing out online in an overcrowded market among hundreds, if not thousands, of other creative service providers who also do what they do, in a way that draws in their desired audience and converts the right prospects into dream clients. I do this by helping them create a personality-filled marketing message, website copy, and other online and offline communication pieces that resonate with their ideal clients, using informal, casual, yet persuasive language, as opposed to formal and boring old business speak. And you can see that above in the distilled marketing message for my business.

In the case of the luxury wedding photographer, his clients are stylish, fun, and want a luxury signature experience on their wedding day. They also “value photography as art,” and want a keepsake from the day that will stand the test of time, which is why he also offers print products—it’s not all digital. He creates lasting artwork – albums, portraits, etc. – that can last for years and years. This is one of his points of differentiation.

In the case of the fine art wedding photographer, her clients are typically young, first-time brides, so her messaging focuses on this. She also shoots mostly outside in iconic Arizona locations. AND, her style is fine art photography. All these things combined together are what helps set her apart in the marketplace and attract her ideal clients. You can see those things in play above in the distilled marketing message for her photography business.

In the case of the business strategist, coach and consultant, her desired clients are those who are serious about their business, and don’t want a rah-rah-rah cheerleader type to tell them everything is OK, but instead, want to work with someone who has been in the trenches, knows exactly how to build a successful business, and provides the non-sugar-coated kind of tough love approach that will get them there. That comes across in the distilled marketing message for her business.

Other Signature Marketing Message Examples to Check Out

For a couple of other examples of effective marketing messaging, check out Hiut Denim and Saddleback Leather. I always point my clients to these amazing companies to show them how effective the right messaging can be, even when you’re making or selling something that many other companies also sell or make.

Hiut Denim 

Creators of premium denim. Plenty of other companies make premium denim, but Hiut Denim stands out. As they say, “We make jeans. That’s it.” Their philosophy/motto/approach is “Do One Thing Well.” And their backstory, which you can read on the website, helps them stand out in a big way, because it’s about so much more than jeans. Take a look, you’ll be glad you did.

Saddleback Leather 

Creators of leather bags and other leather goods. Check out their website; they have a really fun, engaging, and interesting backstory/founder’s story. And their tagline is one of my favorites of all time – “They’ll Fight Over It When You’re Dead.” 

And for something equally effective but with a different feel, check out Amy Porterfield.

Amy’s messaging is straightforward, easy to digest, and instantly conveys what she’s about:

“Hi, I’m Amy. I teach business owners, educators and entrepreneurs the profitable action steps for building a highly engaged email list, creating online training courses, and using online marketing strategies to sell with ease.”

And there you have it – examples of what an effective and persuasive marketing message that sets you apart online can look like. If you want to learn how to create your own signature marketing message, I suggest you sign up for my upcoming free course, details below.

 [*This is one of the lessons from my soon to be launched complimentary e-course, 11 Days to a Signature Marketing Message That Sells: A Totally Free Course for Creative Business Builders, Solopreneurs and Small Business Owners. If you’d like to get notified when the free course opens (sometime in early 2019), hop on my main email list here, and I’ll let you know when it’s ready for ya! *By the way, if you get on that list, you’ll also be signed up for my weekly Tuesday emails.]

The Essential Piece of Copy You Must Master to Convert Web Visitors Into Leads and Clients

Photo by Nick Fewings on Unsplash

Let’s just admit it: this here online marketing thang can be a lot of hard work.

The blog posts, the website copy, the weekly newsletters, the email sales campaigns, the pitches to potential clients, the sales pages, the landing pages, the fresh social media content that must be posted each day so you can stay “top of mind” for those who may want to buy from you . . . phew, I’m tired just writing all that.

Some days the amount of content we have to crank out to generate traffic, interest from potential clients, and signed-on-the-dotted-line business feels exhausting and overwhelming.

And if you’re doing all this work, you want to see results – in the way of people signing up for your email list, setting up a free consultation, requesting more information, visiting your bricks-and-mortar store, signing up for a free trial offer, buying your products, or taking whatever the logical next step is in your customer relationship or audience engagement process.

If you’re getting consistent traffic to your blog or website but your visitors aren’t taking these actions, take heart – the problem could be as simple as adding the appropriate call to action (CTA) in your blog posts, landing pages, emails, website copy and other online (and offline, if you do print advertising) content.

What is a call to action? 

A call to action is a clear instruction in your written communications – your newsletter and blog posts, your Shop or Work with Me page, your social media status updates, your ads and other sales materials – essentially anywhere you communicate with your audience – that directs said audience to take a specific action.

In a nutshell, the call to action is the very clear and uber-specific instruction telling your readers what to do next.

Because just like in “real life,” if there’s something you want someone to do, asking them to do it directly and succinctly is usually the most effective way to get what you want.

Examples of calls to action include:

“Sign up here for free weekly tips and inspiration I only share with my subscribers”

“Come in today for 30% off”

“Buy now”

“Re-tweet this!”

“Leave your comments below”

“Click here to subscribe”

“Order now to take advantage of this limited-time offer”

See? Not so hard, right?

Where to Add CTAs on Your Website

The appropriate place for a call to action depends on the purpose of your website, and what you want readers and potential customers and clients to do after reading a piece of content. The key is to not leave people hanging – give them clear direction on what to do next within or at the end of each page or post.

First, you’ll need to determine the optimal action you want your readers to take, depending on whether they’re reading a blog post, visiting your website’s home page, or checking out your Work with Me or Sales page, etc.

Here are a few key places to put CTAs:

  • At the end of blog posts, asking for shares or comments or directing people to sign up for your email list
  • On your email opt-in form asking readers to subscribe to your newsletter
  • In a newsletter asking readers to click over to a blog post
  • Within your blog posts directing people to something else you’ve written on your blog or elsewhere
  • On the home page of your website directing readers to contact you for more information or to book a complimentary session
  • On a sales page asking for a sale (you’ll want a CTA in several locations on a sales page – but this is a topic for another blog post)

How to Write Your Killer Call to Action

Now that you have some ideas of where to place calls to action to generate the desired actions from your readers, it’s time to develop your CTA copy.

The length of your CTA copy will be determined by where it is and what you’re asking people to do. For example, button copy will be short and sweet and say things like “buy now,” “sign up today,” or “get instant access.” Where you have room to write to your heart’s content, such as at the end of blog posts, your call to action copy may be longer.

4 Tips for Writing a Strong Call to Action

Know your audience. If you’re writing for an audience of lawyers for example, your calls to action will be worded differently than if you write for, say, circus clowns. Call to action copy for accountants would be different than for artists. You get the idea. You want to write in a way that resonates with your target audience and uses the kind of language they would respond to, based on their needs and desires.

Examples:

  • Oyster, the Netflix of books, according to the interwebs, uses this call to action on their home page: “Read unlimited books, anytime, anywhere. Start for Free.”
  • The dating site OK Cupid uses this call to action on their home page: “Join the best free dating site on Earth. Start meeting people now!”
  • The wonderful novelty store Archie McPhee uses this call to action copy to get people to sign up for their newsletter: “Join the Cult of McPhee: Subscribe to Our Email Newsletter (A $700 Value!)”
  • From the home page of an accounting firm in my hometown: “Our dedication to quality, professional standards, and service is unmatched. Get in touch today.”
  • From a contact form on the website of a personal injury attorney: “No Obligation Free Consultation. Get Help Now!”

Define your outcome. For example, my primary goal is to get email subscribers. This is more important to me than getting social media followers, having people leave comments on my blog posts, or requesting more information. For you it may be different.

With that outcome in mind, the call to action I use at the end of most of my blog posts directs people to sign up for my email list. I don’t ask people to “follow me on social media!,” or “sign up for a free strategy session,” or “Click here to find out more.” It’s almost exclusively about the email list.

Examples:

Here’s what I use at the end of most blog posts:

  • “For more on writing copy that connects with your ideal clients, sign up here for weekly updates and get instant access to the CREATIVE REBEL GUIDE TO WRITING A CLIENT-ATTRACTING ABOUT PAGE, plus copywriting & web marketing tips for creative freelancers & biz owners that I only share with my subscribers, delivered straight to your inbox each Tuesday.”

If your primary goal is to get people to sign up for a free strategy session, you could use something like this at the end of the body copy on your home page:

  • “Ready to get started? Book your complimentary Discovery Session now by entering your email in the form below. I’ll be in touch within 24 hours to set up our call to see if we’re a good fit to work together.”

Use action-oriented words. Begin your calls to action with verbs like “download,” “join,” “sign up,” “share with your friends,” “discover,” and “register now,” etc.

Examples:

  • “Create an Event. It’s free.”
  • “Read the case study”
  • “Sign up and publish for free”

Convey the benefit. You want to demonstrate value and relevance to your target audience and offer a benefit that is meaningful to them based on their needs and desires.

Where I see the most need for this is in call to action copy on newsletter opt-in forms. Telling someone to “join my newsletter” or “sign up for email updates” just doesn’t cut it. There’s no benefit, value or personality whatsoever in those flaccid calls to action.

Instead, you want to get specific and focus the form copy on the main benefit your subscribers will receive, based on a problem they want to solve or a pleasure they want to gain.

Examples:

  • Tracy Matthews Jewelry opt-in copy: Is your jewelry box a mess? Sign up to receive your FREE guide: Clean It Like a Professional and Keep It Tangle & Tarnish-Free!  Added Bonus:  By becoming a member you are instantly privy to FREE jewelry giveaways, special jewelry offers, and video tutorials.

The opt-in copy here leads with benefits: how to keep your jewelry tangle and tarnish free, plus access to giveaways, special offers and video tutorials. 

  • Interior designer opt-in copy: Enter your email below to grab your free guide, “From Chaos to Calm: 7 Simple Steps for Transforming Your Busy Young Family’s Home into an Oasis of Practical Luxury.” (Plus weekly design tips and inspiration I only share with email subscribers.)

I wrote this opt-in copy for an interior designer. You can see it focuses on the result the interior designer’s target audience wants to achieve:  transforming a chaotic home into an oasis of practical luxury.

  • My opt-in form copy: Enter your email to get instant access to the FREE Creative Rebel Guide to Writing an Ideal Client-Attracting About Page (so you never have to accept work from someone simply because they have a checkbook and a pulse, ever again.)

My audience of creative business builders often struggles with getting the right kind of clients, so that’s the benefit I focus on in the opt-in copy: writing an About page in a way that attracts ideal clients. 

Bonus tip: Where appropriate, promise instant gratification. It’s human nature – we all love instant gratification. This will depend on your desired outcomes and goals for your site, but where you can use words like “Instant Access,” “Get It Now,” “Instant Download” and similar copy, you’ll often see an increase in people taking action.

Final Thoughts

As the wildly successful copywriter and marketing strategist Dan Kennedy says, “After the headline, the call to action is the most important element of successful copywriting.” Your call to action is the key to getting website visitors to take those oh-so-important actions like signing up for your email list, reaching out to you directly, or buying your products and services.

 [A version of this post originally appeared on the site, Successful Blogging.]

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For more on writing copy that connects with your ideal clients, sign up here for weekly updates and get instant access to the CREATIVE REBEL GUIDE TO WRITING A CLIENT-ATTRACTING ABOUT PAGE, plus copywriting & web marketing tips for creative freelancers & biz owners that I only share with my subscribers, delivered straight to your inbox each Tuesday.

How to Do Your Own D-I-Y Website Audit to Increase Conversions

website audit to increase conversions

Photo by rawpixel on Unsplash

Question: Do you dream of having a website that does the job it’s meant to do – namely, to serve as your 24-7 salesperson – so you can go about doing your important creative work without having to constantly worry about marketing yourself? 

Having a “web presence” just to make your business seem legit is not the sole, or even the most important, reason your website exists.

Your website needs to make a powerful connection with the buyers and customers you want. It should position you as the obvious choice for your ideal clients. And it needs to get those people excited to take the next step on the path to working with you or buying from you (and that next step needs to be clearly and compellingly laid out).

Your website is ultimately meant to get you clients and customers and sell your products and services. Full stop.

That process might involve three steps or twelve, and it’ll usually start with subscribing to your email list, but at the end of the business day, if you’re in business, the reason your website exists is to generate revenue.

Maybe your website is actually doing a little bit of that right now. If so, great.

Or . . . maybe it’s behaving more like a lazy employee with a bad attitude, who sometimes does a half-assed job of getting you the results you want, and other times does nothing at all.

Ain’t nobody got time for that.

Here’s a simple checklist of questions you can ask yourself to gauge your website’s performance:

:: Is your website connecting with your ideal clients and customers?

:: Is it moving them to take the action you want them to take?

:: Is it conveying your signature marketing message, one that speaks directly to those you wish to work with and serve?

:: Is it crystal clear and uber-easy for potential clients to get all the information they need in just one or two clicks, whether that’s signing up for your email list, requesting a consultation, buying your stuff, or something else?

:: Are you employing tried and true, proven copywriting principles in your web copy? (For example, speaking to one person; using conversational language; addressing your clients’ needs, wants, desires, goals, and interests; using client & customer-focused language rather “I do this” and “I do that” language, and so on. The list, it do go on.)

:: Does your web copy instantly convey what’s unique and different about you and why your ideal clients should do business with you?

:: Does your web copy adequately coach the most important conversion you want on each web page? (Each of your web pages needs to have its own goal, and everything on that page should work towards achieving that goal. An obvious example is your newsletter sign-up or email subscriber landing page; it’s one and only goal is to get subscribers.)

:: Is the “path to buy” on your site clear and straightforward?

What I Look for When I Do Website Reviews

For each web page, I consider the questions above. That starts with an in-depth questionnaire in which my client answers a couple dozen questions about their ideal clients, their marketing message, what’s working with their web marketing and communications, what’s not, their website goals, and so on.

I start by looking at the three most important web pages: the Home page, the About page, and the Services or Work with Me, or whichever page the client sells from.

Here’s a brief checklist of the elements I review:

#1) Tagline: does it clearly convey something unique/special/different that makes the web visitor want to stay on the site and explore, or instantly identify what they’ll find on the website?

For example:

Abstract Art for the Unconventional Collector

Wedding Photography for Punk Rock Brides

Life Coach for Gutsy Entrepreneurs

Minimalist Silver Jewelry for the Style Savvy

#2) A clear call to action on each web page: a clear, specific instruction for what web visitors should do next.

For example:

Visit my gallery here.

Schedule your free consultation today.

Contact me here if you have any questions.

Buy now.

Your call to action will obviously depend on the page it’s on and the #1 thing you’d like your web visitors to do after reading that page. First determine the goal for each web page, then make sure CTA on each page reflects that goal.

#3) Understand your ideal buyer/customer and write web copy that speaks to them – you’re not trying to attract and sell to everybody, only those who fit your ideal buyer or client profile.

#4) Strong headlines on each page that convey a clear and compelling benefit so that the right people (those who love what you have to offer and who can afford it) will want to read the rest of your copy or check out the rest of your website. You want your headlines to be clear, compelling and benefit-driven.

#5) Customer/client-focused web copy/language, i.e. reader-oriented content and conversational one-to-one language throughout website. Talk to one person.

#6) Address objections somewhere – an FAQ page is a great place to do this. Create a page that answers questions your potential buyers or clients typically have about working with you; include anything that could be lingering in their mind as a reason not to buy.

#7) Guarantees/remove risk

#8) Proof elements – like testimonials and reviews, etc.

#9) A clear path to buy. It should be crystal clear what someone who is ready to purchase or move forward to working with you should do next, and it should be very easy for them to select that option and take the next step.

#10) Focus on the three most important pages first – Home page; About page; Products/Services/Work with Me page, or whatever you call the page you sell from.

Hat tip to AWAI (American Writers & Artists Inc.) for the “5 C’s” of effective content:

:: Customer-focused – the content makes it clear you understand your audience

:: Competitive – your content conveys your USP or what I call your “meaningful difference”

:: Clear and easily understood, no confusing industry jargon

:: Conversion optimized – each page indicates what web visitors should do next and helps convert browsers into buyers

:: Consistent – products and web copy & language, etc.,  are consistent across the website

What You Can Expect When You Make These Website Changes

The great thing is, you don’t have to do everything on the list above to start getting better results from your website. Just start somewhere. Take baby steps if you have to, or heck, do a D-I-Y website improvement binge over the weekend. But just get going on this. If you’re getting consistent, quality traffic, your conversions will improve (and even if you’re not getting much traffic right now, more of what you are getting will begin to convert).

I’ve worked hard to get here (and I know I have some advantages as a professional copywriter and web marketing strategist) but I get consistent email inquiries from potential clients on a weekly basis, simply because they landed on my website, liked what they read, and knew what to do next to get in touch with me.

Very often, these are people I’ve never met or had a conversation with. I’ve never had any contact with them at all until they found my website, then reached out to me. Sometimes they got on my email list first, then a few weeks later reached out.

OR (and this always shocks me), landed on my website, read two blog posts and my Work with Me page, then reached out to hire me right then.

These inquiries consistently turn into clients I adore, and many come back to me for additional copywriting projects, marketing strategy, or consulting. Some of those projects are quite large and ongoing for many months, at the kind of investment level that makes it possible for me to do work I love, without doing the client-getting hustle, hustle, hustle all the time.

If that isn’t a simple & low-key way to find great clients and work on projects you love, I don’t know what is. 

And that is the power of using the right language, in the right places, on your website. [By the way, as you can see from my website, it’s FAR from perfect. In fact, it needs a massive upgrade, but I still do just fine.]

So, don’t let anyone ever tell you that you can’t get clients from your website.

Why do I bring up that last bit?

I’ll tell you.

About a year ago, someone who read something I’d written about the power of effective website copy reached out to me to say that some marketing “guru” they follow said no one gets business from their website.

LOL.

I had to laugh (and laugh and laugh), because that’s typically the ONLY way I get new (and repeat) business. I don’t do cold calling, or send email pitches, or go to networking events. (Call me lazy, call me introverted to a fault, but that’s just how I roll.)

Now, to be clear, there’s nothing wrong with any of those methods. I’ve used them all at some point, and they work. And I’ll be happy to use them again if/when I feel inspired to.

But these days, I focus on doing an awesome for my current clients, and replying to email inquiries from potential new clients who find me through my website.

Yes, you absolutely need to get quality traffic to your site as well, but my traffic stats are shamefully low, and I still get great clients. I don’t need hordes of people to find me online, I need the right clients to resonate with my marketing message, then inquire about working together, and they do.

Let me repeat: That is the power of persuasive, compelling copy and a clear, easy-to-follow path to finding the right information, in the right place, on your website.

Want the same results for yourself?

If you KNOW your website could be getting you more clients, customers and sales, and you want it to happen NOW, so you can start getting those PayPal and Stripe notifications sooner rather than later, I invite you to reach out to me about working together.

I’ve got a full, comprehensive website copywriting package that may be just right for you. Or if you’re working with a more limited budget, I also offer a VIP Website Audit & Review, which includes a comprehensive website action plan with customized-for-you copy & conversion recommendations you can implement on your own to start improving your website results ASAP.

Simply reach out to me at Kimberly [at] kimberlydhouston [dot] com, and put “website copywriting package” or “VIP website review” in the subject line, depending on which service you’re interested in. I’ll get back to you within 48 hours during normal business hours. We’ll begin by discussing your project over email, then if moving forward makes sense, we’ll schedule a call to talk about your next best steps.

Four Powerful Ideas That Could Radically Change Your Business

Recently I was unpacking some boxes in my new place, and came across a 3-ring binder with materials from a course I took a few years ago called “Creating Fame.” Created by Meet Edgar founder Laura Roeder back when she had an education/training company, Creating Fame was a program that taught how to position yourself as the go-to person in your field using social media, blogging, and other forms of content creation and outreach.

The idea being that you can “step up, claim your own fame, build your audience, and build your own community that’s going to feed into your business,” as one of the course transcripts puts it. It’s about claiming opportunities for your business, rather than depending on others to bestow them upon you arbitrarily.

What she’s talking about here is not paparazzi-showing-up-at-your-house/strangers-asking-for-your-autograph fame; it’s about being “business famous,” or well-known in your niche in a way that attracts your dream clients.

Looking through the binder reminded me how much I loved this course – implementing the suggestions within helped me get real traction in my business in the early days.

My description here kind of minimizes what was in the course, though. It was full of what I think of as “big ideas,” larger concepts and beliefs that can supercharge your business if you take action on them.

Four Concepts from Laura Roeder’s “Creating Fame” That Could Radically Change Your Business

Your Big Idea

Each of us have a “big idea” (usually more than one), a story or stories, and a set of factors that make us distinct from our competitors. You can use your big idea(s) to set yourself apart and become the go-to person in your niche.

Roeder says, “To be famous, you need a big idea or ideas that your customers can buy into and become a part of. It doesn’t have to be revolutionary, and in fact, it’s often very simple, but it does have to be something that people can get behind.”

For example, one of Roeder’s big ideas is that technology doesn’t have to be intimidating. In her previous business incarnation, she taught small business owners how to use Twitter, Facebook, blogging and other tech-related outreach channels without fear.

Other examples Roeder shares include a life coach whose big idea is that you don’t have to meditate, become a monk, or read “super woo-woo” stuff to get rid of your stress, and a lawyer who believes that you shouldn’t have to be afraid to call your attorney because you don’t know how much it’s going to cost to ask a simple, straightforward question.

One of my big ideas is, “they want you to be the one (so stop being afraid to market yourself).”

Another one of my big ideas is that creating a signature marketing message is one of the best ways to attract the kind of clients you really want to work with in today’s saturated, overcrowded online space.

What about you? What are one or two “big ideas” you can share through your content and outreach that your audience can really get behind and resonate with?

You Can’t Predict the Future

Gosh, I love this idea. It’ll keep you from “what iffing?” all over the place, which is just another way to stay stuck where you are and not take action on your goals.

As in, “What if I put all this time, effort and energy into creating this new course/lead magnet/service offering/product/program, and hear nothing but crickets in return?”

But, as Laura reminds us, you can’t predict the future – “psychic abilities do not emerge from long periods of deliberate thought. You’ll never know how anything will work out.”

So, “Give it a shot and see what happens,” she advises.

This is advice I particularly need to heed more often. It’s similar to the whole “just ship it” idea. If you’re anything like me, you likely have multiple half-finished e-books, courses, lead magnets, digital products, service offering ideas and more littering your hard drive. Things you could have put out into the world, but didn’t.

Why not complete and launch at least some of these things? Why not “give it a shot” and see what happens? What if it goes over like gangbusters, and you sell 5 of your new thing? Or 10? Or more? Because it could happen. It really could.

Overthinking can absolutely kill our chances of moving our businesses forward. I’m as guilty of this as anyone. We use this kind of thinking as a crutch to hold us back from taking action outside our comfort zone. We want to be certain of outcomes, but we can never be certain of any outcome.

This passage from the transcript is one of the best in the course. I need to print this out in 36 point font and put it above my desk:

So drop this idea of trying to out think yourself, of trying to think your way into the future. That’s what’s holding you back from taking the kind of action that you want to take. Just give things a shot and see what happens. That’s all any of us can do. The more things you try, the more opportunities you have for something that works. The more things you try that are absolutely outside of your comfort zone, the higher the chances that you’re going to get a result that’s absolutely outside of your current reality.”

Discipline Isn’t Sexy, But It’s How Things Get Done

We all know this, right?

In “Creating Fame,” Roeder says, “ . . . I don’t mean discipline as in forcing yourself to do things you hate, but I do mean discipline like forcing yourself to do things that you’re scared of. . . . another thing is having discipline to do things that are boring. To do things that you don’t feel like doing, to do things you’re scared of doing. That’s discipline.”

Now, I don’t know about you, but one of the things I often struggle with is knowing the difference between things I hate doing and therefore shouldn’t be doing at all, and things I don’t enjoy – or that scare me – but need to do anyway because they’re necessary to move my business forward.

For example, just like pretty much everybody else on planet Earth (or at least the people I hang with), I get that frightened, queasy feeling when it comes time to promote something. Yes, I’m a marketer, and I consult with clients on how to market, but that doesn’t mean I don’t get butterflies in my stomach when I have to do it for myself.

But I do DO it, because otherwise I’d have no business. I’d have to go back to work for “the man,” and I want to love my life, so that ain’t gonna happen.

There’s a whole long list of other “out of my comfort zone” tasks, in addition to marketing myself,  that I don’t love doing but do anyway, so I can have a business I love, working with clients I love. That includes pitching myself for guest posts or podcast interviews, reaching out to clients I’d love to work with, and launching new services, among (many) other things.

Inevitability Thinking

Roeder defines “inevitability thinking” as doing things to make the outcome you want inevitable, a concept she learned from Eben Pagan.

We often hear about this in relation to our health and workout goals, i.e., set your alarm for early in the morning, put out your workout gear the night before, and make a gym date with a friend so you’re certain to get your morning workout in.

Inevitability thinking has been a real game changer for me. After I took Marie Forleo’s B-School in early 2013, I was ready to start building my online audience in earnest, so I pitched myself for a few guest post opportunities on sites I knew my ideal clients read.

Lo and behold, a few of the people I approached accepted, which meant I had to follow through and write the guest post. That’s what’s great about sending a really well-thought out pitch – you don’t have to write the whole post, just a stellar pitch; when/if it gets accepted, then you’re on the hook to write a kick-butt guest post.

Which means you’ll do, right?

Just one of my guest posts added a few hundred people to my email list, and some of those people bought my services over the years. I can directly attribute at least $20K in revenue to one guest post (again, over the years, not all at once. Though I did generate about $12K in one year from one client as a result of one of that particular guest post.)

This stuff WORKS – inevitability thinking, give it a shot.

The Takeaway

Can you see how implementing these four simple, elegant ideas, could help you make serious headway in your business? Even one or two of them, consistently practiced, could make an enormous positive difference in your results. 

Wherever you are right now, whether it’s struggling to make things happen, or taking a bath in the benjamins, by this time next year, or heck, even next month, your business could look totally different.

I believe it with all my heart.

Now I’m off to practice some discipline for the rest of this fine Friday. 🙂

Guard Your Time, Prioritize Your Creative Work

This morning I re-read a semi-famous essay written by Paul Graham, entrepreneur, venture capitalist, computer scientist, author, and founder, with his wife, Jessica Livingston, of Y Combinator.

In the essay, Maker’s Schedule, Manager’s Schedule,” Graham talks about the difference between the two kinds of schedules, and how disruptive it can be if you’re a “maker” being forced to conform to a “manager’s” schedule.

Here’s how Graham describes the two schedules:

“The manager’s schedule is for bosses. It’s embodied in the traditional appointment book, with each day cut into one-hour intervals. You can block off several hours for a single task if you need to, but by default you change what you’re doing every hour.

When you use time that way, it’s merely a practical problem to meet with someone. Find an open slot in your schedule, book them, and you’re done.

Most powerful people are on the manager’s schedule. It’s the schedule of command. But there’s another way of using time that’s common among people who make things, like programmers and writers. They generally prefer to use time in units of half a day at least. You can’t write or program well in units of an hour. That’s barely enough time to get started.

When you’re operating on the maker’s schedule, meetings are a disaster. A single meeting can blow a whole afternoon, by breaking it into two pieces each too small to do anything hard in. Plus you have to remember to go to the meeting. That’s no problem for someone on the manager’s schedule. There’s always something coming on the next hour; the only question is what. But when someone on the maker’s schedule has a meeting, they have to think about it.”

The first time I read Graham’s essay, it struck me that this was why I wasn’t as successful as I would have liked in my first advertising agency job many years ago.

“You can’t write or program well in units of an hour. That’s barely enough time to get started.”

As a writer/copywriter in an ad agency, you’re expected to switch tasks constantly. Maybe, not usually, but maybe, you get 3 or more solid hours to work on a single project, uninterrupted.

Even so, you’re not really uninterrupted. Your phone is ringing, and you’re expected to answer it. Your emails are coming in, and if it’s a client, you’re expected to reply. In a typical agency setting, most everyone leaves their email on in the background, most of the time. If you work in an open concept office, which describes most offices these days, other people’s phones are ringing, people are chit-chatting within your earshot, people are coming and going in and out of the office, and there’s not much you can do to avoid being privy to it all. There is no truly quiet space in which to do “deep work” for an extended period of time.

Deep work is a concept defined by author and computer science professor Cal Newport. Newport describes deep work as “the ability to focus without distraction on a cognitively demanding task. It’s a skill that allows you to quickly master complicated information and produce better results in less time.”

Better results, in less time. That’s valuable.

In an agency setting, the in-demand skill is not the ability to do deep work. Actually, that’s not entirely true. The ability to do deep work may be prized, but only if you can do it with multiple interruptions and distractions constantly swirling about you at all times.

Instead, the skill that gets privileged is the ability to switch tasks and juggle loads of projects at once, while giving equal time, effort, energy and attention to all of them. AND create amazing work – FAST.

Wanting 4-5 uninterrupted hours to create something excellent, in a quiet space, with no distractions, will most likely be seen as an unnecessary indulgence, if not a straight-up weakness in your ability to “produce.”

If you can’t do great work, calmly and unflappably, in this kind of distraction-rich setting, then you may not be cut out for the agency work environment.

When I binge watch Mad Men, the thing that strikes me most, beyond the massive day-drinking and the gross womanizing, is offices with doors that close. Managers have them, copywriters have them, even some of the art guys have them. It’s the one thing about that show that makes me salivate with envy.

But most workplaces aren’t like this, so there’s an inherent conflict – the writer, designer or other creative likely needs large chunks of time, without distraction, to do truly outstanding work. But this isn’t always possible. Which leads to a stress, anxiety, and the constant worry that you many not be doing your best work.

(To be clear, I’m not raking ad agencies over the coals. Many other kinds of workplace environments are also just like this, and I’ve worked in a few of them. And I’m not talking about all ad agencies, either. Some are much more humane and nurturing when it comes to providing a space for the creative person to do their best work.)

I’m an introvert, and a maker. Kind of a double whammy. Because of this, I still haven’t figured out how to handle interruptions to my work flow as well as I’d like.

Take client calls, for example.

Client calls are entirely necessary for the kind of work I do. I have onboarding calls with new clients, copy review calls, monthly check-in calls with retainer clients, and so on. Because I’m an introvert, even one, one-hour call means at least an hour afterwards to decompress and get my head back in the game for the next task. This would be impossible in a typical office setting.

One of the reasons I prize working for myself is that I can mostly dictate my schedule and the atmosphere in which I create. This ensures I can do quality work. My working environment is quiet. No ringing phones, no people coming in and out. No coworkers chatting all around me, no UPS/restaurant/FedEx delivery people asking where is this or that person, or can I sign for a package. No emails in the background, ever, when I’m working, and no freaking meetings.

Alas, I still haven’t figured out client calls.

I used to do this thing where if I had three calls in one week, I’d schedule them over 3-5 days, so I’d never have more than one call per day. This makes sense, because I’m trying to guard my time and prioritize the deep work necessary to produce excellent creative work.

And yet.

Just one call in a day often threw me off my game.

Take a recent Friday, when I had three client calls scheduled. For an introvert, this is a lot. But grouping them together in the same day made sense, I thought. Get them all out of the way in one day, rather than spread over several, which I find exhausting.

After each call, I need to decompress for a bit. So I can’t get much done, other than call, decompress, call, decompress, call, decompress, all day. Even though I scheduled my calls hours apart – at 11:00 am, at 2:30 pm, and at 6:00 pm – I’m still woefully unable to commit to anything requiring deep work for the day. The day is shot for that.

Now once a week is not that big a deal, in the scheme of things. But I think back to jobs I’ve had where pockets of time to do deep work was always in short supply, and that there, my friends – a day of constant calls, meetings, and other interruptions – is simply standard operating procedure in most workplaces.

And it is precisely why you may not be able to do the quality of work you’re capable of, if you’re a creative, a maker, and an introvert.

So, what to do?

For me, I no longer kid myself that I can do my best creative work in a typical office setting. I usually work best in solitude. I produce good work when I have time for deep work. I can’t schedule calls on days when I need space and quiet to complete an important project.

I also (mostly) no longer feel guilty when I turn off my email for hours at a time and put my phone in the next room while working on something that requires intense focus.  

It’s taken me many years to get here, but I’ve begun to value the way I do my best work enough to guard my time and prioritize my creative work, whether it’s a client project or my own writing.

Some days are better than others, of course. On the “bad” days, I’m pulled into the undertow of distraction, even when I’m working at home alone. One dip into mail, “just for 10 minutes,” often becomes two hours of wasted time.

So, you know, it’s a process.

But the important thing I’ve found, and the thing that’s really helped me, is letting go of the guilt I often felt for not being able to work well in a distraction-rich environment.  

It’s so important to know the circumstances under which you do your best creative work, and to prioritize that kind of work environment, without feeling a shred of guilt or remorse about it.

Starting Over: New Home, New Life, New-ish Business, All New Outlook

I recently moved into a new place – finally – after close to two years of living with various roommates and friends.

After two years of upheaval and drama and trauma and stress.

Two years of sands forever shifting beneath my feet.

Two years of just barely hanging on at times.

Two years of weepy conversations with my best girlfriends about how to get myself out of a bad situation. One I never, ever, dreamed I’d find myself in.

Two years of enormous changes, some good, some bad, some very bad.

But I’ve found stability again.

At last, hal-le-lu-yer, at long last!!

As of June 15, 2018, I’m in my own place again.

Last week, my best friend came over with a beautiful bunch of roses and a bottle of Vueve Clicquot champagne to celebrate my new digs.

Two nights ago, she came over again and set up my desk, while I was pouring us some wine.

The desk at which I can laser focus on my copywriting business again, and my vision for what I want it to become.

And where I can also focus on my vision for my writing projects outside copywriting, of which there are many.

While I can’t share all the details publicly about what went down in the last two years, I can share a few, in the form of a timeline, to give you an idea of why this peaceful, calm environment I now find myself in is so darn meaningful, and what it means for the next phase of my business.

:: Early June 2016 – Living on the coast of North Carolina in my favorite beach town. Running my copywriting business from my home office in my tiny, 600 sq. ft. apartment.

:: Mid-June 2016 – Begin feeling lonely, sad, disconnected.

:: Early-ish July 2016 – Hmm, this is beginning to feel like full-blown depression. Nah, maybe it’ll pass. I’m probably just stressed about work stuff.

:: Later July 2016: OMG, what is wrong with me? This isn’t just feeling sad and stressed. This feels bigger, scarier, and more distressing than that. I need to make some massive changes, or this will not end well. Not to be melodramatic or anything. Plus, this incessant weeping is making my face look puffy.

:: July & August 2016: Not feeling better yet, I start journaling obsessively as way to metabolize what’s happening and make a decision about what to do next. First up, I decide to do a few small things daily to make myself feel better, such as: taking a walk to the mailbox (a 15-minute round-trip), watching something funny on YouTube, calling or texting a friend, listening to Joel Osteen podcasts on repeat, writing in my journal, reading interviews with my favorite authors, brainstorming ideas for essays, books and blog posts I’ll write, and so on. These things seem to help.

:: Late August 2016: I give my 60 day move out notice to my landlord. My daily journaling has unearthed a desire to move back to the Triad area of North Carolina, where I’m from, where my brother and sister live, and where I have friends I’ve known for 30+ years. I decide to do this in late October / early November 2016. This area is four hours and 200+ miles from where I currently live on the coast, so it’s going to be more than your standard move. But I know in my bones this is exactly what I need to do.

:: September 2016: I start looking on craigs list for a roommate situation in Greensboro, NC. I want to do the roommate thing for the first 6-12 months in my new / old hometown while I get my ducks in a row. Yeehaw, I find somebody great! I visit her for a weekend and stay in what will be my bedroom. It’s a gorgeous house in a gorgeous neighborhood. We get along well. This feels right.

:: October 30, 2016: I move into my place. It turns out to be a terrible, awful, extremely ill-advised idea, which I couldn’t have known at the time. The roommate is a wonderful person, really lovely, but there are some addiction issues. Which to be fair, she told me about before I moved in. But she also said she was in recovery, and fully committed to her sobriety. Unfortunately, I was the fool who believed it.

:: November 1, 2016 – January 18, 2018: I don’t even know where to begin. Multiple hospitalizations, rehab stays, and visits to our home from EMS and the local police department, (including the time there were close to a dozen officers on our doorstep and in the front hallway, some of them armed to the fucking nines, with rifles), interspersed with periods of calm, peaceful sobriety.

From day to day, I never know what to expect. I wake up each morning, knowing that today is a total crapshoot, a spin of the roulette wheel. Maybe it will be “normal,” reliably calm, with no crazy-ass drama. And some days it is that way. Other days, just the opposite.

I can never fully relax and focus on my work, building my business, or anything else. My business suffers. Terribly. My mental health suffers. Dreadfully. I’m turning into a jumpy wreck of a person, nervous as a long-tailed cat in a room full of rockers, as my dad used to say, always waiting for the other shoe to drop.  

I know I should probably just move out, but I really want to believe her when she says she desperately wants to get and stay sober. I believe she believes that. And I don’t want to leave her in a bind with the rent. So each time there’s a relapse, I’m willing to give it another go when she says, “Please give me another chance, I promise it’s going to be different this time.”

:: January 18, 2018: No more. I’m at my wit’s end. I’m going to lose what’s left of my remaining marbles, the gossamer strands of sanity that are miraculously still intact, if I don’t make a change, ASAP. Just back from another stint in rehab in mid-January, she relapses again just a few days later. On Thursday January 18, I decide my safety, happiness, and mental health are much more important than trying to help someone by staying in a situation that frankly, feels like a lost cause. How many times does the promise have to be broken before I wise up and move out? Geez, Kimberly.

I call a friend who agrees to come over that Saturday, January 20, to help me get moved out. I’ve already lined up a wonderful place to live with someone who is sober and drama-free. Her home is peaceful, and sane. Huge sigh of relief.

:: January 20 – March 4, 2018: I live in this pleasant situation for a little over six weeks. Then I decide that I need to bring even more stability to my life, so I set about looking for a J-O-B. I figure I’ll do something 9-5, Monday- Friday, in my field of copywriting and marketing, while I continue running my copywriting business as a “side hustle,” at least for now. Or maybe I’ll give up the copywriting business altogether, because I’m just so tired, so very, very tired and depleted from the chaos and drama of the last 18 months.

Lo and behold, I do get a job, as a Copywriter / PR Specialist at a wonderful advertising and marketing agency in the next town over, 40-ish minutes west of where I’m currently living. I move again.

:: March 5, 2018: I begin my new job, woohoo! I move in with my best friend of 30+ years, who happens to live in the town where I get the job. This living situation is temporary, until I get settled in my new job and new town, at which point, I’ll get my own place.

:: March 5 – May 18, 2018: Gosh, how I love my co-workers, the workspace itself, and even the work too, but I know 2-3 weeks in this isn’t the best fit. Have I been working for myself too long? Am I not 9-5 employee material anymore? Is there something terribly wrong with me? I wanted a full-time job, in my field, working with great people on great projects, and I got exactly that.

What in the world is my problem? But I can’t ignore the fact that I haven’t slept in the 2.5 months since starting this job, my stomach has been in knots the entire time, and I’ve been deeply unhappy and stressed.

This does not go unnoticed. Perceptive and kind people that they are, the president and VP of the agency, and my immediate boss, chat with me one Friday afternoon about the situation. They notice I don’t seem happy. They notice I seem stressed much of the time. They want me to enjoy being there; quality of life is one of their highest values. They ask what we can all do to make things better, to make it possible that we can continue working together. We all decide I’ll go to contract status, something I desperately wanted, but was afraid to ask for. Another enormous sigh of relief.

:: May 21, 2018: I’m now contract status at the ad / marketing agency, and I feel almost delirious with joy, almost instantly.

:: June 15, 2018: I move into my new apartment. More joy. New beginnings. My address, in fact, is on “New Drive.” I don’t think this is a coincidence.

Now that I FINALLY, at long last, two years on, have some peace in my life, what does it means for the next phase of my business?

  • Well, for one thing, now that I’m not a full-time employee anymore, I’m taking on copywriting, marketing, and website review clients again.
  • I’m revising a couple of my current offerings, and adding 2-3 all-new offerings (to be announced this summer).
  • I’m developing an all-new opt-in incentive, a free e-course on how to create a magnetic marketing message, so you can get more business, bookings, and sales (to be released this summer). I am soooo excited about this!
  • I’m phasing out one-off client projects, and transitioning to longer-term engagements with clients.
  • I’m creating a digital product to help creatives improve their websites and web marketing, so they can more easily call in and convert their ideal clients, to be released by the end of the year.
  • And I have a few other business things in development up my sleeve as well.
  • I’ll also be spending more time on my non-copywriting-related writing projects. Lots of stuff happening there.

That’s the short list. I won’t bore you with the long one.

Over the last two years I’ve prayed for guidance many, many times for the answer to what course of action I should take – should I get a full-time job, continue building my copywriting business, or do some combination of the two? Should I stick with copywriting and marketing, or go into a different line of work entirely? Should I stay where I am, or move to a different city? Or should I drop out of life altogether, and figure out a way to travel the world? You know, just run away from it all, far, FAR away.  

Somewhere in there, among the prayers and the doubts and the questions, I told myself, instead of trying to figure everything out to the nth degree all on my own, I’ll leave myself open to guidance – from where ever. I decided to trust, and have faith. Not an easy thing for someone who always likes to know the next step, and the next, and the next one after that.

As airy-fairy and woo woo as it sounds, I feel like I’m being lead in the direction I’m meant to go in. As if the last two years, as challenging and exceedingly difficult as they’ve been, have a profound purpose that’s meant to serve me, that I can use to serve others. I don’t yet know what that purpose is or how I will use what I’ve been through to benefit others, but all will be revealed, I believe.

Right now, I’m just taking it day by day (while of course doing some planning for the future. I mean, c’mon, I can’t change who I am entirely, right?)

I don’t know if this is the right approach for everybody, but it’s the right one for me, right now.

I’m trying my best to live by the Martin Luther King, Jr. advice: “Take the first step in faith. You don’t have to see the whole staircase, just take the first step.”

So, no real copywriting or marketing advice here.  But I hope that my convoluted, messed up, chaotic, drama-filled and wacky journey over the last two years, and the fact that I’m still hopeful, ready and eager to go after my goals with gusto, proves that you can withstand a crap ton of challenging BS, and still come out ready to rock your life plans.

Dumb Decisions, Smart Moves, Flaky People & Amazing New Clients: 2017 Year in Review + 2018 Business Changes

My last blog post for the year was going to be a meaty, lengthy post full of actionable advice about how to do your own website audit. Fairly simple changes you can implement on your own to increase conversions, client inquiries, customers, and closed business, all from your online presence.

I planned to share the exact step-by-step process I use when I do a site audit for my private clients – elements I review, changes I suggest, and key things to revise so the website begins to perform and convert better instantly.

Then I thought, Nooooo, why don’t I write one of those year in review posts errrrrybody seems to do this time of year? I mean sure, I despise clichés, and that kind of post falls squarely into the clichéd category, but what the H-E-double-hockeysticks? It’s what I feel like doing.

[By the way, I will be writing a post about how to do your own website in 1Q 2018.  Never fear.]

So, about 2017.

It’s no exaggeration to say this year was the most stressful, distressing, challenging and confounding year of my life, full stop. I can’t share the details publicly (I know, I know, I hate it when someone says, oh, this awful thing happened, oh, this terrible thing happened, but I can’t tell you what it was, la de dah. But it’s important to protect the privacy of the other actors, so I simply can’t).

Anyhoo . . .

Here are my 2017 highlights and lowlights.

 

A few lowlights:

:: The afore-mentioned chaos that I can’t really mention. It lasted for most of the year, and seriously compromised my ability to grow my business in any meaningful way. As an added bonus, my mental and physical health suffered too.

:: Doing far too many one-off projects for clients, and not enough larger, long-term client engagements. I loved the smaller projects I worked on in 2017, but juggling between 6-10+ projects & clients at once is simply too much. This changes in 2018. More on that below.

:: Flaky, non-serious potential clients who waste everyone’s time. These are people, for example, who reach out to inquire about working together, set up an initial call to discuss their project, then don’t show up for the call. I even had one guy flake out TWICE on this free call, then ask if he could reschedule for a third time. UM, HELL TO THE NO. No wonder the dude’s business is in the tanker. 

Side note: I love offering this free 20-30 minute “get acquainted call” to potential clients, because it helps me learn about their business, their goals, and the copywriting project they have in mind. And I have no problem if, after talking, the client decides not to work with me. That’s totally cool. But going forward in 2018, I may begin charging for this call.

:: Clients who don’t understand the fundamental difference between website copy (copy meant to inspire a particular action or set of actions and get very specific results), and airy-fairy brochure copy or other kinds of copy. Said client hires you to write their website because you’re an expert in website copy, but wants you to write hippy-dippy ineffective brochure copy for their website, that would be a total disaster on a website. And no amount of trying to explain why this won’t work, never has worked, and never will work, will change their mind. So frustrating.

:: I barely worked on my own writing in 2017 (writing that has nothing to do with my copywriting business). That changes in 2018. I have a novel, several essays, and other big-ish writing projects in progress, and in 2018 they’ll get much more attention.

A few highlights:

:: I got much clearer on my ideal clients and narrowed my niche. My focus now is less on beginners who are just starting to create a compelling online presence, and more on those who have been in business awhile. They are beyond the bootstrapping stage and ready to make a serious investment into copywriting and web marketing for their business.

:: I worked with some amazing people and businesses this year. I can’t list them all here because I haven’t asked their permission to do so, but (almost) each and every one was a total joy and a pleasure to work with.  

:: One of the most exciting projects I landed was with a group of commercial photographers in Canada. These guys are wildly talented, do incredible, cutting-edge work, and are probably the nicest guys on the planet. I’m currently writing their website, and looking forward to more projects with them once the website copy is finalized.  

:: I joined a terrific online business support group called Unf*ckwithable Girlfriends.  Created by Ash Ambirge of The Middle Finger Project, this group is the best place online for kickass, real-world, results-getting business AND life advice. It’s unlike any other online group I’ve ever experienced.

:: I joined another excellent FB group at the tail-end of the year called The Copywriter Club, a group for copywriters and content creators only. After a couple hours spent reading through previous posts in the group, I can see the content is top-notch, and the group is full of superior quality copywriters and content creators. I’m going to love this group.

Before I get to the business changes I have planned for 2018, here are a few other highlights from my year, of the non-business-related variety.

:: Because I moved back to my hometown in late 2016, I got to spend lots more time with my family this year, and with dear friends I’ve known so long they feel like family. This was one of the true highlights of 2017.

:: I discovered the comedian Maria Bamford, and the show Lady Dynamite, on Netflix. I am obsessed with this show. I’m pretty sure it’s the funniest thing I’ve ever seen. I’ve watched both seasons of the show, along with both of her comedy specials currently on Netflix, TWICE. Damn, she’s funny, and different, and quirky, and owns it.

Watch this one hilarious clip, then do yourself a solid and watch her material on Netflix if you have an opportunity. So, so good.

:: I found a great church that feels like home, and have been attending since December 2016. This is a HUGE deal for me, as I haven’t gone to church regularly since I was a little, little kid.

:: I did a 5K in December 2017 called Running of the Balls. Ok, I walked the 5K, together with a group of friends with who also walked it, but still. It was the most fun I’ve ever had outdoors on a Saturday night in 30-degree weather!

[I’m in the second row, sporting the candy-cane headwear. 🙂 ]

:: I went to some wonderful author events this year: David Sedaris, Sarah Vowell, and Wiley Cash. Each one was a gem.

Here’s how David Sedaris signed my book [LOVE it]:

:: I read some great books this year, among them:

Nonfiction  

The Accidental Life: An Editor’s Notes on Writing and Writers, by Terry McDonnell

Story Engineering: Mastering the 6 Core Competencies of Successful Writing, by Larry Brooks

Perennial Seller: The Art of Making and Marketing Work That Lasts, by Ryan Holiday

Theft by Finding: Diaries 1977-2002, by David Sedaris

Let’s Explore Diabetes with Owls: Essays, etc., by David Sedaris

A Lowcountry Heart: Reflections on a Writing Life, by Pat Conroy

Hungry Heart: Adventures in Life, Love and Writing, by Jennifer Weiner

The New Old Me, by Meredith Maran

Lust and Wonder, by Augusten Burroughs

Fiction

Siracusa, by Delia Ephron

Sweetbitter, by Stephanie Danler

The Nest, by Cynthia D’Aprix Sweeney

Mystic River, by Dennis Lehane

Now, onto the Business Changes

I’ll still be writing client-attracting and results-generating website copy and other persuasive marketing communications for creative business builders, and offering web marketing consulting for select clients.

But other things are going the way of the Dodo bird.

The biggest shift is that I’ll be doing far less one-off project work, and working on larger copywriting projects & longer-term client engagements.

:: This means, in effect, that I’ll no longer be available to write single pages of website copy for clients. For example, writing a single About page, or Home page, or Services page, or other single stand-alone page of website copy, etc., except under special circumstances,* has gone away forever.

(*Special circumstances being either: we’ve previously worked together, in which case you get special privileges, OR, I just happen to have an unexpected opening in my project schedule for a one-page copy project, which is rare.)

:: The other immediate change is that the investment for my Creating Better Copy Personalized Help Session increased from $97 to $197 as of January 1, 2018. This service is for you if you need a customized-for-you answer to your top copywriting challenges, and clear ideas for improving your website copy ASAP to more effectively call in and convert your ideal clients. The Creating Better Copy Personalized Help Session is You + Me + a One Hour Private Workshop to address your most pressing web copy challenges right now.

:: In 1Q 2018, I’ll be launching a beta version of my course for wedding, portrait and lifestyle photographers, 30 Days to a Magnetic Marketing Message That Sells. Based on the feedback from the beta, I’ll release an “official” version of the course later in the year.

That’s about it for now.

I’ll be launching new services in 2018, but I haven’t worked out all the details yet. I also plan to create some copywriting resources for the DIY-ers out there who want to write their own copy, and just need detailed copy templates to get going. New free downloads, including an e-course on how to determine your ideal clients and unique selling proposition, or “meaningful difference,” as I like to call it, are also in the works.

I hope you also have plans and projects you’re excited about! 🙂

Here’s to a most excellent and magical 2018, in which all your business (and other!) dreams come true!

You DO NOT Have to Do It “Their” Way to Succeed in Business (AKA, Online Business Practices That Kinda Make My Skin Crawl)

I have this annoying habit of reading certain emails, certain websites, and certain articles that I know are going to make me angry, and yet, I read them anyway. It’s almost like I actively want to feel aggrieved.

And I’m not just talking about articles on the terrible death spiral our country has been in since the 2016 election, either. Though I must admit, I read my fair share of those too.

No, I’m talking about the emails, newsletters, websites, and blogs that tell us all the things we “must” do online to succeed in business.

But Do You, Really?

I subscribe to many newsletters and read many blogs about marketing, copywriting, list-building, traffic generation, and multiple other topics about doing business online.

As someone who writes marketing copy for solopreneurs and small businesses, and advises on web marketing, I have to keep up with these things. Heck, I want to keep up with these things. I genuinely find these topics interesting. I’m a nerd like that.

But many of the things on the online business success “must do” list make my skin crawl a little. Which is to say, they would be out of integrity for me to do, but that doesn’t mean they’re inherently bad, or that the folks who employ these tactics are “bad.” They simply don’t jibe with the way I like to do business.

(There are a couple things on that list, however, that I find straight up unethical. I’ve placed an asterisk next to any of those practices on the list below.)

What I want to stress about the following list is that you DO NOT have do any of these things to succeed online. If you want to try some of these tactics, that’s cool too. The point is, you do you. Do what feels right and comfortable for you.  

Don’t feel pressured to do what some so-called “expert” says to do, just because it worked for them. Heck, don’t feel pressured to do anything I talk about on this blog either, for that matter. Unless it makes sense and feels right for you.

(The exception to this is ethical, legit marketing, sales, or business practices that you know would move your business forward, but make you feel uncomfortable or scared, or feel like too much work. We all gotta do that stuff that makes us feel uncomfortable to make progress on our dreams.)

BUT – just because some online “guru” says you must use push notifications, or do a retargeting campaign, or buy Facebook ads, or “invest in yourself” by joining their program, or do this or that “hack,” doesn’t mean you’ll fail if you don’t.

It absolutely, positively, does not mean you’ll fail if you don’t.

Online Business Practices That Make My Skin Crawl

#1: Calling people who teach online “gurus.” In my mind, a guru is a spiritual teacher or guide (yes, I know a word can have more than one meaning, and yes, I know I used the word “guru” above.) The word has been overused to the point of becoming a giant cliché to describe those hawking their wares online, and has therefore become meaningless.

#2: Light bullying and/or shaming, disguised as a “sales technique,” i.e., when people selling their courses or programs tell you if you don’t invest in their program that you’re not committed to investing in yourself, or that when you say you can’t afford it, you really can, it’s just that you’re not prioritizing your success. Or you’re afraid of success. Or failure. Or digging in and doing the work. Or a handful of other lame BS.*

This kind of sales “tactic” always strikes me as light bullying, or at the very least, light shaming. Which it is. It’s also the height of privilege and arrogance. If you tell a single parent with $27 in their bank account and no other financial resources to draw upon that they just don’t want success bad enough, I mean, C’MON. WTF?

Sure, there are times we tell ourselves we can’t afford something when in fact it’s just not a priority us for right now. I get that fear, not affordability, sometimes keeps us from doing things that would be good for our businesses. That dynamic exists.  It’s happened to me.

On the other hand, there were times early on in my business when I wanted to invest in a course or program, yet only had enough in my bank account to pay that month’s bills. And shelling out $600 or $2200 or $3600 (all amounts I’ve paid for training and courses) would have meant I couldn’t pay for the really important things that month, like rent, or health insurance. And yet, if the copy on the course creator’s sales page is to be believed, I just didn’t care enough about my success, or believe in myself, or want it badly enough.

When I send a sales email for my own services, I say something along the lines of, “If this is right for you, great! I’d love to work with you. And if it’s not the right time, no worries.” I often say things like, “there will be no arm-twisting to get you to buy.” What I don’t do is try to make someone feel in any way “less than” if they don’t want to buy, have other priorities, or simply don’t want my thing, whatever it is.

#3: The language often used to describe potential clients and customers. For example, referring to real, live, human beings, with thoughts and feelings and wishes and hopes and dreams and fears as “leads,” “prospects,” “conversions,” or similar. Now I’ll admit, I’ve used the words “leads” and “prospects” in my blog posts and in my weekly newsletter from time to time. I wish I could say I hadn’t. But I haven’t done it with any real frequency, and not in a long time, once it started to get under my skin how dehumanizing it felt to refer to flesh and blood people that way. I typically use the term “potential clients” or similar.

What I find truly heinous though, is blog posts with titles like, “Best ways to push prospects down the marketing funnel.” Really? I don’t want to push anyone anywhere, and especially not “down the marketing funnel.”

In another example of language I find troubling, a recent email from a successful copywriter I respect and admire kind of floored me by talking about how people with “unrelenting standards” are often “easy prey for good salesmanship” due to their competitive nature. That’s more than a little distasteful.*

I don’t think of the people who might be interested in my services as “prey.” They’re either right for what I offer or not, and if not, that’s totally cool. I’m not on the “hunt” for folks who might be an easy mark, and I would hate to feel like someone became a “casualty” of my sales campaign. Goodness gracious.

I’m sure there are plenty of A-list marketers and copywriters who would laugh at my naiveté or unwillingness to go aggressive, or to use tried-and-true copywriting and sales techniques like the ones described above, but that’s ok. I do what feels right for me, and you can do the same.

#4: Push notifications on websites. Ok, ok, call me too sensitive. I know some people love to receive push notifications, but when I’m on a website and that little notice appears at the top of the site asking me if I’d like to receive “push notifications,” I instantly click no. [While thinking, “No, no, hell no, not in a million years, NOOOO!”] I think it has something to do with the word “push.” Language is powerful, my friends. If were called something less aggressive, like “updates” or similar, it wouldn’t bother me.

#5: Retargeting Campaigns, otherwise known as being stalked relentlessly, unceasingly, and annoyingly all over the internet by a marketer/website owner whose site you may have visited once, in a brief moment of curiosity, which has forever doomed you to seeing their ads all over the internets.

Here’s a more “official” definition of retargeting from Moz.com: Retargeting is “a form of marketing in which you target users who have previously visited your website with banner ads on display networks across the web.”

Let me just say there are many people online I respect and admire who use retargeting. Which is fine for them, but it’s just not my cup of tea. It feels predatory, aggressive, and a little desperate. Like a party guest you made pleasant conversation with for two minutes, who then follows you around the rest of the night at said party, butting into your conversations, invading your personal space, and otherwise attaching themselves to you like a barnacle. Maybe, even, asking for your number, though you are clearly not interested, and following you out to the parking lot when you leave. You just can’t get away from this leech.  All because you expressed the tiniest bit of attentiveness during your initial conversation. But you were just being polite. Yep, that’s what retargeting feels like when it’s being “done” to me.

#6: Overly aggressive/demanding or trying-too-hard-to-be-provocative email subject lines.  I’ll admit it, I don’t like being told what to do. So when I see a subject line that reads “Urgent, open up!,” I will not. Unless it’s from my doctor, an email with a subject line like that always gets an instant delete from me. Because your course or program or sale is going away at midnight tonight doesn’t rise to the level of an emergency; I wouldn’t even consider it “urgent.”

Ditto, subject lines like, “You’re not going to like this email.” My first thought is, “Good, I can delete it then!” And then I do.

#7: Countdown timers. Again, there are people online I adore, whose products and programs I’ve happily purchased, who use countdown timers on their sales pages and in their marketing emails. They work. Yes, I know you need to use urgency to get people who could really benefit from your program off the fence, blah, blah, blah, I know people tend to procrastinate until the last possible moment, blah, blah, blah. But they’re just not my jam. And there are other ways to communicate that an offer is going away, by, for example, saying the offer is going away.

#8: List posts. Yes, yes, yes, I know they still work to a degree. Heck, some people have even made a big name for themselves online and gotten a 6-figure book deal out of writing what boils down to list posts. All good. I’ve written what might be considered a “list post” on this blog a few times. But I’d never want to make a habit of it, as it can feel derivative and cliché.

#9: “Hacks.” Am I the only one tired to near death of “hacks?” Hack this, hack that. Marketing hacks, growth hacks, content hacks, copy hacks, conversion hacks. I’m weary just writing this sentence. Make it stop. [By the way, Paul Jarvis wrote an excellent article about the practice of growth hacking called, “I don’t wanna grow up to be a growth hacker.”]

#10: The white maleness and tropes of online marketing. Hoo boy. This is a BIG topic, and deserves a fully dedicated blog post all its own. In fact, I’ve already started writing it. So I’ll leave elaborating on this one for another day.

Filters

When it comes to online marketing and business practices, I often think of those people and businesses online I adore, respect, and admire, and how they do things. And I might use those people and businesses as a filter when considering a tactic or technique I want to try.

The top three that come to mind for me are Ash Ambirge [The Middle Finger Project], Alexandra Franzen, and Danielle LaPorte. They all have wildly successful businesses, yet none of them employ any of the practices above.  Which is one of the reasons I love ‘em so.

The bottom line is, you can do things your way, ignore all the tactics, techniques, “hacks,” and whatnot online marketing “experts” tell you you must do, and still be successful. Wildly so. And at the end of the day, still walk away with your integrity and dignity intact.

 

Some Notes on Determination

Determination.

Sometimes it kicks in at the exact moment you need it.

I surely would have given up on my business this year without it.

In fact, I almost did.

The last eighteen months around here have been wildly challenging, confronting, and just dang difficult. Most of it I can’t share publicly, but suffice it to say that I find it miraculous, given all that’s transpired, that I’m still running my solo business and haven’t voluntarily checked myself into Butner.

That series of events, combined with a recent slow business month, had me convinced I should seriously consider chucking the business altogether and go get myself a . . . gasp . . . j-o-b.

You know, consistent bi-weekly paycheck, employer paid health insurance, paid vacay, a team of colleagues to interact with, opportunities to advance, the whole nine.

Is Getting a 9-5 Really the Answer?

I thought about it and I thought about it, and finding a 9-5 job in the copywriting and digital marketing field felt like the best decision I could make under the circumstances.

I was exhausted; I felt like I simply didn’t have the energy to hustle in my business the way I wanted/needed to, and work out the stuff going in my personal life at the same time.

So I started spending 4-6 hours of my precious business time each week job searching online, researching companies, writing kick-ass cover letters, tweaking and polishing my resume, and sending said resume for jobs I thought I was a great fit for.

Lo and behold, I got an interview pretty quickly after I set this in motion. With a big, global company, for a copywriter/editor position I would have loved to have. With a nice salary, regular paycheck, and good benefits. Etc.

Can I tell you how excited I was?!?!

Wow, I thought, this could be a dream come true! The answer to my prayers! Working with a team again, instead by myself at the dining room table most days! Knowing exactly how much I’m going to earn! Direct deposits into my bank account twice a month! Relying on someone else to make all the work-related decisions!

I really, really want this, I thought. This would be absolute bliss, I thought.

You know what happened?

My car broke down on way to interview, no kidding. Still, I was only four minutes late. I called my HR contact and the person I was interviewing with, and they were both kind and understanding about it.

Alas, I must not have sold my candidacy convincingly enough, because they didn’t offer me the position.  It’s been long enough now that I know I am never hearing from them.

Initially, I was disappointed. Not devastated, but genuinely disappointed.

(And after I spent all that dough on a new haircut, highlighting my hair, new shoes for my interview outfit, and so on. Ah, well, these things happen, no?)

But This Was Good. This Was Exactly What I Needed.

After my 9-5 flirtation, and the initial sting of rejection of the big, successful, global company deciding not to hire me, I did a whole, whole lot of thinking.

And soul-searching.

And journaling.

And inspiration-seeking.

I binge-listened to podcasts. I read dozens of blog posts. I sought out my favorite business people online, and read and listened to every story they wrote or told of overcoming great odds to get where they are. If I’d ever bought a course from them, I went back through their course material.

I asked myself if giving up on my business was really the answer.

I wrote a question in my journal, “What do you really, truly want? If your business could look a different way, would you stick it out?”

After a week or two of what often felt like self-indulgent navel-gazing, I started to feel better. Motivation and inspiration began to creep back in. Just a little at first, then more as the days passed.

My determination kicked in.

I made a promise to myself to go all out this last quarter of the year, to really, truly give KDH Ink all the love, devotion, strategery, focus and commitment I can possibly muster. To work harder than I’ve ever worked, or at least smarter, if harder isn’t the answer.

To get out of my comfort zone and do things I’ve been putting off for far too long because I don’t feel “ready.” To finally release a small course or other product/program. To go after a couple of dream clients I’ve been wanting to work with. The list is long and I won’t bore you with it here, but there is a list. Because I love me some lists.

Then There Was This Wealth Mindset Book . . .

It just so happened that while I was in the navel-gazing phase around my business, I was reading Jen Sincero’s book, You Are a Badass at Making Money: Master the Mindset of Wealth, at the same time.

(Highly recommended, by the way, especially if you like a sense of humor and fun stories of mild debauchery served up with your wealth-attaining advice. The book is both practical and funny, and you can’t beat that combination when it comes to finance/personal development advice, which is often chock full of platitudes and greasy earnestness.)

What she has to say around determination when it comes to improving your finances also applies to business. Bigly.

I read the passage below over and over again, and decided to adopt it as my business rallying cry for 4Q 2017.

I’m going to share some Sincero’s thoughts on determination here. Just replace “desire to get rich” and other money talk with “desire to create the business you love,” and you’ll get the idea.

(If you’re sensitive around the whole idea of “getting rich” and think it’s shallow, selfish, or corrupt, you might want to skip this part.)

On page 141-143 of the book, Sincero says: “Deciding to get rich means you put that decision above all else (except doing illegal, amoral, revolting things for money, of course). You need to be ruthless with yourself because you’re not only growing a new moneymaking mindset, you’re battling a whole lot of subconscious beliefs about money that you’ve never faced before. Any chink in your armor will offer your old conditioning an opportunity to take over and steer you off course, which it will do so quickly you won’t know what hit you.”

You can’t, according to Sincero:

  • Be weird about the fact that you not only desire to get rich, but that you’re going to focus everything you’ve got on making it happen.
  • Make sure everything is perfect before starting.
  • Be precious about getting rid of all the distractions in your life.
  • Whine about how little time you have or how nobody around you is supportive or that you’re already working forty hours a week, how the hell am I supposed to do more?
  • Need to know exactly where you’re going before moving forward.
  • Get advice from people who aren’t farther along than you are.

To all that, I say, yes, yes, and YES. OMG, yes.

All very good advice to implement in your business.

I would love to wrap this up neatly with a bow and tell you my exact plan for 4Q 2017, but I’m still working that out.

What I do know is that somewhere in the last few weeks, a mighty determination came roaring back.

I’m ready to get hyper-focused on my business again and kick 4Q’s arse.