Afraid to Sell

By far, one of the most problematic things I see on websites I’m hired to review or write copy for is an unclear, confused marketing message. The web copy doesn’t resonate with the kind of clients the business owner is trying to attract, so when said client lands on the website, they spend 3-7 seconds looking around, don’t feel any connection to what they read, and leave.

And what compounds the problem in many of these cases is it’s nearly impossible for the web visitor to figure out how to actually make a purchase if they were so inclined.

Now, granted, sometimes the above scenario happens when you’re just starting out, and you don’t know what message your website needs to convey to appeal to your desired audience just yet, or when you’re still trying to figure out how all this marketing and copywriting stuff works to help you do business online successfully.

HOWEVER . . . .

Other times this website confusion (and the resulting poor sales performance) is a result of being afraid to sell, of being fearful of actually letting people know that, #1, you have something awesome for sale, woohoo!, and #2, hey, they can buy it right over here! (On the Work with Me, Products & Programs, or Services page of your website.)

And furthermore (well, don’t I just sound like my Mom when she was getting ready to read me the riot act?), many business owners, despite having an email list of potential clients and customers who might just love to buy something from them, have never actually shared with their subscribers that they have products or services available for purchase.

Bottom line, they’re afraid to sell.

You know, one of the questions I ask on the intake questionnaire I have all new clients fill out is “What are the last 5 things you’ve done to market your business or sell your products/services?” And I’ll tell you, an answer I rarely get is, “I made an offer to my email list/audience/blog readers/etc.”

If you’re not selling anything, let me ask you, are you offering anything? Are you sending an email to your list telling them you have something they can buy? If you’ve been at this online business thing for a while, and you haven’t made an offer to your list yet, my question for you is, why not?

Now, let me just say right here: I GET IT.  I was dreadfully uncomfortable coming right out and making an offer to my email list the first time I did it too, but I will tell you it gets much easier after you “break the seal” and do it the first time.

I actually wrote a blog post about this fear of marketing and selling called, They Want You to Be the One, So Stop Being Afraid to Market Yourself, which essentially says that, when someone lands on your website or signs up for your email list, they know you’re operating a business, so it’s not going to be a surprise to them when every now and then you let them know you have something they can buy.

They expect this.

And furthermore (geez, that word again), they were looking for the solution to a problem or the answer to a question when they landed on your website in the first place, and they’re hope, hope, hoping you will be the one who can help them solve the problem or answer the question.

So do not be afraid to sell.

Notice I didn’t say, don’t be uncomfortable about selling. I’ve been in the marketing/PR/copywriting/sales field my entire adult life and I still sometimes feel uncomfortable making a pitch for my services. That’s normal. I said don’t be afraid. Because at the end of the day, even if you do get rejected, you will survive. Rejection might feel crappy, but it won’t kill you.

And if anyone gives you any grief about selling, that just proves they don’t have the first clue about how real business works, and they’re not your ideal client or customer anyway. So not to worry.

So even though I’m not always comfortable selling either, I do it. And you know what I’ve noticed?

When I sent an email offering something for sale, people bought. I made sales. People participated in actual commerce, money and services changed hands, and we all lived to tell the tale.

And by the way, when you’re selling, you don’t have to behave like a carnival barker or be in your face, sleazy or aggressive about it.  You can do it subtly, the way I’m going to do it at the end of this blog post by letting you know I’ve revamped my service offerings and have a bunch of new services available.

You can do it in the P.S. of your email newsletter.

You can make a subtle mention of your promotion in your latest blog post.

Or you can send a full-fledged “sales message” (again, this can be done with subtlety) to your email list.

So please, please, if you have something awesome for sale, let your audience know about it. The sky will not fall if you do, trust me on this.

And here’s the part where I’m going to let you know about my new services. You can’t check them out right over here on my Work with Me page.

Or check out the abbreviated description of them below.

Happy Selling!

:::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::

{If you’re interested in any of the services below and want to find out which one might be a good fit for you, shoot me an email and we’ll set up a 20-minute, no-obligation conversation to explore the possibilities.}

The Irresistible Web Copy VIP Package: The 3 Key Must-Have, Uber-Important, Can’t-Do-Business-Online-Without-‘Em Web Pages {+ a little extra} Every Successful Business Needs

If you’re serious about having a successful website that calls in your ideal clients and sells your programs and services, you need:

  • A compelling Home page that grabs attention and gets your right people eager to find out more about you
  • An About page that conveys your unique personality and bonafides in accessible, client-focused language
  • A Services, Work with Me, or Programs page that demonstrates your singular value and gets your ideal clients dreamily thinking, “she’s/he’s the one I want to work with”

The Irresistible Web Copy VIP Package includes: Learn more here.

:::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::

The Copy Brilliance Web Copy Makeover

:: Not everyone needs their website written from scratch. You might have one particular web page that’s just not working for you – and it’s keeping you from calling in your ideal clients or making more sales.

:: In that case, I can apply my copywriter’s “let’s uncover and highlight the sales-inducing benefits in this web copy” brain to one page of your already written web copy to transform it from lackluster to luminous, so it persuasively conveys your value and appeals to your ideal clients.

:: If you already have the key must-have website pages on your site written, but you’d reallllly like some professional copywriting tweaking & fine tuning on one of those pages (or another page of your choice) to make it sparkle and shine to call in your ideal clients, the Copy Brilliance Web Copy Makeover is for you.

How it works: Learn more here.

:::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::

Copywriting & Messaging Strategy 60-Minute One-on-One Intensive

Think of this like a rapid-fire website audit from a copywriting, messaging and branding perspective. We’ll work side-by-side in one 60 minute session over the phone, as we look at your website together.

You’ll walk away with at least 5-10 ideas for improving your website copy ASAP to more effectively call in and convert your ideal clients.

 This is for you if:

:: Your website copy is in pretty good shape but you want to pick a professional copywriter’s brain for ideas on polishing it up to a fine “I want to magnetize my ideal clients to me” sheen, get feedback on your messaging, or ask questions about specific elements of your copy

:: You’re just getting starting and want some DIY copywriting advice you can run with on your own to write your own copy

 How it works: Learn more here.

:::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::

Strategy Consulting for Creatives

So, what you need doesn’t fit neatly into any of the categories above?

No worries, my creative friend.

You can invest in a pack of strategy consulting hours to discuss any of your web marketing and copywriting conundrums. This is great for things like ongoing web marketing advice, guidance and feedback on a specific marketing campaign or bigger marketing project or initiative, help figuring out who your ideal customers are or what your unique difference in the marketplace is, and so on.

How it works: Learn more here.

 

Overwhelm, Despair, Self-Doubt & Other Fun Adventures on the Road to Success

take risks, dream big

As a former ad agency employee and current copywriter for hire, it’s no surprise that Mad Men was one of my favorite shows. (Although in my ad agency days, unfortunately – or fortunately, depending on how you look at it – it wasn’t customary to have a fully stocked bar in the office, or cocktails in the middle of the day.)

So when the season finale aired a few weeks ago, I watched with great joy as my favorite characters’ stories got wrapped up neatly, along with a twinge of overwrought mourning that the whole shebang was coming to an end.

The day after the final episode (and who am I kidding, for days to come), I found myself reading more, more and still more about Mad Men, and especially its creator, Matthew Weiner.

And I happened upon this article in which Weiner discusses his rocky and challenge-filled road to success with honesty and transparency.

In the piece, excerpted from a book called Getting There: A Book of Mentors and published on Fast Company, Weiner talks about how artists “frequently hide the steps that lead to their masterpieces.” This can lead to discouragement for those of us trying to create something meaningful, he says, because all we see is the finished product, and compare our work to that.

He goes on to say “I always swore to myself that I would not hide my brushstrokes.”

Shortly after reading that piece, I read Melissa Cassera’s blog post, “Don’t hide your brushstrokes,” where she talks about Weiner’s article and the application of its ideas to business.

I love what Melissa says here:

“By glossing over all of the ‘unsexy’ points of your journey — all the brushstrokes — you’re doing a disservice to your fans, clients, customers, everyone in your business audience, and quite honestly, everyone you meet.

By pretending that it’s all ‘easy’ and ‘perfect’ and ‘drama free,’ you’re missing an opportunity to actually HELP somebody.”

At the end of the post she asks:

“What’s the toughest, unsexiest moment you can remember from your business / career history? Share your ‘brushstroke moment’ and what you learned. Feel free to do it in the comments below. Or, better yet, share it with your own community.”

And that inspired me to write about one of my own “brushstroke” moments here.

I previously shared this story with my email subscribers, but it felt too personal to talk about on the blog. But what the heck? Melissa’s post changed my mind.

(By the by, this is one of many, many “brushstroke moments” I’ve had in the last 2-3 years of taking my copywriting business from a side hustle to my full-time source of income. And I’m still having them.  Weekly. There’s enough to fill a book I tell ya, but today we’ll start with just the one. :))

Here’s the story I recently shared with my email subscribers:

So, did I ever tell you that right around this same time last year, I was so exhausted, stressed and overwhelmed that I almost considered giving up on the idea that it was possible to have a satisfying, happiness-inducing, lucrative business doing work I love, for clients I love?

No?

Well, let me give you a little bit of the skinny here.

In May of 2014 I was working a long-term corporate freelance writing gig for a big organization, one that offered a lot of nice perks, but also imposed many stress-inducing deadlines, and required me to work on site in an environment that made me wildly unhappy (my breath gets shallow just thinking about it).

I was also running my copywriting and web marketing consulting business at the time, which I adored but . . . by necessity it remained a “side business” to be squeezed in and around my corporate writing gig obligations.

So here I was, making a pretty decent living as a copywriter, with plenty of projects on tap for the corporate client (a situation those of us who sell our writing services actually dream of), but I was working 7 days a week to keep up with both that work and my side hustle, and frankly, not enjoying my life very much.

It was a despairing cocktail of non-stop obligations, deadlines, and 12 hour days, most of which were spent doing work I didn’t love. And with that schedule, I didn’t have enough time left over in a week to optimize my business, my website, or my offerings – which meant until something changed, I’d always be stuck with my overwhelming workload, at my current revenue plateau.

Since my most cherished value is “freedom,” working this way made me feel like a tiger pacing a cage – imprisoned, and none too happy about it. I was desperate to change things, but how?

One of my most vivid memories of this time is sitting in Panera Bread one night with one of my closest friends, sobbing into my caesar salad about my work life and my obligations, barely able to breathe. (Between the crying and the gasping for breath, my friend actually offered to take me to urgent care. True story.)

Obviously, I could not go on this way.

The trouble was, I had I no idea HOW, exactly, I could change my situation. I was in no position to just up and leave the corporate writing gig, but there was no way on earth I wanted to give up on my dream of creating the copywriting business of my dreams either.

Especially since achieving that dream would allow me the space and time freedom to work on a book that’s been gnawing at me for over a year – and I had yet to get started on.

But one of the great things that happened for me during that time – the thing I credit with eventually helping me get beyond it all – was reading publicity and business strategist Selena Soo’s emails in which she shared her story about once being in a very similar situation.

She was working in PR, yet not making much money, even though she was working non-stop. And she was uncomfortable with some of the pressure involved in get results for PR clients. And because she never established clear boundaries in her work, she was working early mornings, nights and weekends.

Almost every detail of what she described felt like what I was going through. And she had actually turned her situation around, to great success – she quit that iteration of her PR business, changed her business model, and started offering coaching and consulting services, which got her to $157,000 in revenue in the first year of her new business.

And best of all, she did it on a schedule that didn’t consume every waking moment of her life, which sounded like pure bliss to me. Because making a nice income is great, but only if it comes with time freedom and a flexible schedule as well – that’s the ultimate prize, in my book.

I was intrigued by Selena’s story, and honestly, envious.

So when she announced her Get Known, Get Clients (GKGC) program last May, I hopped on board almost immediately. [The program is now closed, but if you’re curious, you can read the review I wrote about GKGC and the results I got from it right over here.]

It was through working with Selena last year and applying the advanced strategies she teaches that I was finally able to leave my corporate writing gig in February of this year and go fully out on my own with my copywriting and web marketing consulting business.

Now I’m much happier, more fulfilled, and I actually have free time. Not a lot mind you, but way more than I did this time last year.

And I’m gung-ho and ready to rumble with my business again. I can’t believe that this time last year I actually thought of throwing in the towel, even for a second.

There are still challenges, of course. And lots more work to be done. So much so that some days, if I’m honest, I long for the ease of just having to show up at a regular gig again.

Luckily, that sentiment quickly passes.

If I could offer any encouragement to anyone going through something similar, anyone on the verge of chucking the dream of supporting themselves with their creative business for the so-called security of employment, I’d say think long and hard before you make that deal with the devil. There’s probably some way you can turn things around, as I did (and as Selena did).

Just remember, you’re trading your life energy – time you’ll never get back – for what you do to earn a living, so make sure you’re happy with the choice.

 

[Want to learn to write copy that connects with your ideal clients? 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 fun stuff for creative freelancers & biz owners that I only share with my subscribers, delivered straight to your inbox each Tuesday.]

Review of Selena Soo’s Get Known Get Clients

In 2014 I decided to step up my game and invest in training that offered not only actionable content that would help me improve my business, but that also featured one-on-one feedback and support from the big cheese running the program.

This was my feeling: I’d made significant investments into my business in the past buying expensive training – training which did indeed help me create results in my business in the way of more clients and more income – but I was ready for a program that would push me out of my comfort zone (by pulling me forward to do things I knew I needed to do but was resisting mightily), while giving me direct access to, and feedback from, the expert doing the training.

That’s when I decided to sign up for Selena Soo’s Get Known, Get Clients (GKGC), because I had a strong feeling it would do all of the above. (Hint: It did.)

In this review, I’m going to share what Get Known, Get Clients is, why it worked for me and why I’m promoting it, and who I think it’s for and who it’s not for.

I’m also going to tell you about an exclusive bonus offer you can get if you sign up for Get Known, Get Clients directly through me.

Here’s a quick-and-dirty rundown of what you’ll learn in this review:

  • What the Program Is (in a nutshell)
  • My Situation When I Started the Program
  • Why I Wanted to Work with Selena in Get Known, Get Clients
  • My Personal Experience in the Program and My Results
  • What You’ll Learn in the Program
  • How GKGC is Not Like Other Programs
  • Who GKGC Is For, and Who It’s Not For
  • Why I’m Promoting Get Known, Get Clients
  • My Get Known, Get Clients Bonuses for 2015

What the Program Is

In a nutshell, Get Known, Get Clients is a 6-month program that teaches you how to earn more and stand out as the go-to expert in your field. In the program, Selena walks you through the 3-part system she used to build her six-figure business so quickly (in less than a year) and teaches you how to do the same. You’ll learn advanced strategies to get more clients, make more money, and build a great reputation in your industry or niche.

(Of course, your results will vary depending on where you are in your business now, how/if you implement what Selena teaches, and the other variables that are unique to your situation, so there are no guarantees that you’ll create the same results Selena did. But you knew that. 🙂 )

There are three overarching ideas in the course, along with tested strategies to make them work:

  • Setting up the right business model and strategy
  • Building a powerful personal brand
  • Becoming a masterful relationship builder

If you want to get all the details of the program right now, go here:

Get Known, Get Clients

My Situation When I Started the Program

When I started Get Known, Get Clients (GKGC) in June 2014, I’d already been doing business for a couple of years as a copywriter and web marketing consultant as a side hustle to my daytime freelance writing gig, so the foundations of my business were in place.

I had enough clients to keep me busy, and I was doing ok income-wise, but . . . I didn’t necessarily have the clients I wanted, the projects I wanted, the income I wanted, or the time freedom I wanted.

It’s one thing to be able to earn a decent living from your entrepreneurial hustle, but if it said hustle requires you to work 7 days a week doing work you don’t love, well, then, life ceases to be fun. And that’s what happened to me – I was working all the time, but not enjoying my life or my work very much.

My daytime freelance writing gig paid well enough and gave me the opportunity to work on some fantastic writing projects, with terrific colleagues (for which I am eternally grateful), but it wasn’t the best fit for me (big organization, corporate environment), there was a fair amount of stress of the nonstop-hurry-up-and-get-this-project-done-so-we-can-give-you-the-next-writing-assignment variety, and despite this being a freelance gig, I was required to work on-site, which is definitely not the way this liberation-loving girl likes to work.

Why I Wanted to Work with Selena in Get Known, Get Clients

The main reason I wanted to work with Selena is because I identified with her experience – she had a very similar story to mine of starting her first business and not really enjoying her work and not making much money, despite working nonstop.

Then she found the right business model, and by implementing what she teaches in Get Known, Get Clients, was able to generate $157,000 in her new coaching business in one short year. And she was able to pull this off despite having no clients and no email list when she first got started.

Second, I was drawn to Selena’s program because, like me, she’s an introvert. And if Selena can create an uber-successful business as an introvert, then that means other introverted business owners can too.

And third, Get Known, Get Clients was a perfect complement to the way I teach marketing and outreach, which relies more on online networking, web marketing, and nailing your compelling marketing message and conveying it with personality on your website, whereas what Selena teaches, while incorporating some of those elements, relies more heavily on creating a business model that will set you up for success, creating premium packages and programs, and developing relationships with VIPs and influencers, etc. (This is a short list of what you’ll learn in GKGC.)

My Personal Experience in the Program and My Results

Before I share my results, let me point out that as of May 2015 I’m still implementing a few of the strategies and tasks that I didn’t complete during the course (the course ended in November 2014).

When I take a course, I keep on top of the weekly coursework, attend all the live trainings and Q & A’s, interact in the community, and implement what I can as I go along, but I often crank out the majority of the implementation part in a massive push after I finish a course, so I can focus on showing up and availing myself of the training while it’s happening live. Because, you know, there’s only so much time in the day.

I bring this up because your results may vary – if you implement faster you may achieve different results. That said, I still got kick-butt results from GKGC, and I haven’t finished knocking out all of Selena’s advanced strategies yet.

So, here’s what I accomplished:

:: I put together a lower-priced offering based on the work I did in the first module of the course, Identify Your Target Market, and did $1396 in sales ($349 x 4).

:: Two of these clients provided referrals to other clients.

:: Two of the clients who booked me for the $349 offering then signed on with me for copywriting projects, which resulted in an additional $3396 in income.

:: During the target audience interviews from the same module, I sold some copyediting for around $300, without even trying.

:: A second person from the same set of target audience interviews also wanted to hire me for a project, but I simply didn’t have the bandwidth at the time, and had to say no.

[It’s important to point out that the target audience interviews weren’t meant to be sales or promo conversations in any way. As Selena teaches (and provides scripts for!), they were conversations meant to connect with my target audience and find out what their challenges were so I could create exactly the kind of offerings they would be happy to pay for. Booking the new projects as a result of doing the interviews was an unexpected bonus.]

:: I started attracting and working with more of my ideal clients, and charging more for my services.

:: And the very best thing I accomplished as a result of the work I did in GKGC was the ability to leave my onsite freelance writing gig to go fully out on my own with my copywriting and marketing consulting business 3 months after completing the course. I am practically floating on air just writing that!

These are the more tangible results I got from investing in Get Known, Get Clients. There’s more though – I gained a whole new level of confidence in my services, and especially, in my ability to get premium clients who are just right for what I have to offer and happy to invest in working with me.

Let’s just say lots of mindset shifts happened for me during and after the program, mindset shifts which have directly impacted my ability to get premium ideal clients and increase my income, and which will continue to serve me over the life of my business. And that is priceless.

Your mileage may vary, but if you implement what Selena teaches, I don’t see how you wouldn’t create similar, or even better, results in your own business.

What You’ll Learn in the Program

You’ll learn to identify your target market, create your valuable offerings, have genuine sales conversations that get clients excited to work with you, how to get referral partners, how to elevate your personal branding, how to speak to sell, how to build your email list, how to connect with VIPs and influencers, how to create your launch plan, how to create a team to grow your business, and more.

You can get detailed info about what’s in the course right here:

Get Known, Get Clients Course Information

How GKGC is Not Like Other Programs

:: GKGC is set up to start getting you wins quickly. As I mentioned above, I started to get results right away, in the very first module, simply by doing the homework. (And by “results,” I mean actual clients and actual sales, not just “mindset shifts,” as important and necessary as those are.)

:: GKGC teaches you how to get clients NOW, even if you don’t have a website or an email list, which I felt was one of the program’s biggest benefits.

:: It’s a 6 month program, which is longer than any online training I’ve ever done by about 4 months. And that means you’ll get plenty of opportunities to interact with Selena directly and get your questions answered.

:: I also found the private Facebook group to be uber-helpful as well. Not only is Selena in there consistently answering questions and offering feedback, but you’ll also have the opportunity to get to know and interact with your colleagues in the course.

:: There are 3 live training calls per month, 18 opportunities in total in which you’ll have direct access to coaching and feedback from Selena. I’ve invested in other pricey programs where getting your question answered is as rare as winning the dang lotto! Not so here. Selena knows every single person in the program and genuinely cares about each person’s success. That came through in a big way when I took the course in 2014. (By the way, this is the last time Selena will be teaching Get Known, Get Clients LIVE and offering this much personal coaching. So if you’re interested in getting extra support, now’s the time to join.)

:: There are regular check-ins from Selena and her team to keep you on track, and homework designed to get you to implement what you’ve learned quickly.

:: You’ll receive word-for-word scripts for everything you’re asked to do in the course so you’re never left figuring out how to apply the strategies Selena teaches. Scripts for having genuine sales conversations, asking for referrals, exactly what to ask in your target market interviews, and lots more, are all part of the course.

:: I felt supported and “seen” in this program in a way I haven’t in other online training programs. As I mentioned before, Selena will know exactly who you are, and exactly what your business is about.

Is Get Known, Get Clients Right for You?

Like any training program worth its salt, this program is definitely not for everyone.

If you’re committed up to the eyeballs right now, it might not be the best choice for you. That was my situation when I took GKGC last year – between my client work, the GKGC course load, and my other obligations, there were times I felt like a was on the verge of an over-commitment nervous breakdown.

But hey, I’m still here and I didn’t get committed to the psych ward, and I achieved increased sales, new ideal clients, and other compelling benefits from doing the program, so it all turned out for the best.

The most time-consuming homework was front-loaded into the first two-three modules though, so once I got through that, I started to feel almost sane again. To be clear, this pickle wasn’t because of the GKGC course load specifically, but because I had a boatload of other stuff going on at the same time. Just a little tip from me to you.

The course homework and implementation takes time, but if you stick with it and you do the work, you will get results. I’m still implementing what I learned nearly 6 months after completing GKGC, but I got some results very quickly, which kept me motivated and helped me stay committed to doing the work each week.

If you’re anything like me, GKGC will also take you out of your comfort zone, maybe even way out of your comfort zone. That’s what I wanted going in, though, because I know that’s where the real results and big wins are.

But there were weeks I was really resistant to doing the homework, because I was, well, terrified. Such as the week we had to set up and have sales conversations. Which turned out to be not that big of a deal once I did a couple, so the joke was on me.

If any of the above puts you off, then I’d say this is definitely not the course for you.

It’s also not right for you if:

:: You don’t have a business idea, or you haven’t started your business yet. You can be in the early stages of your business, but you have to have one to work on in this course.

:: You aren’t good at receiving and acting upon feedback, or have a “that won’t work for me” attitude.

:: You have a product-based business. Get Known, Get Clients is specifically for coaches, consultants, and service providers – people who offer expert, advice-based services.

:: You want overnight success or need to make $10,000 by next Tuesday.

:: Taking the course would be a financial hardship for you. I always tell people that if making an investment like this will cause them anxiety and stress beyond the usual, “wow, I’ve never invested this much in myself before” variety, that is, if it would put them in a real financial bind, then they should say no and come back to it when there’s more leeway in their budget.

GKGC is probably right for you if:

:: You’re tired of “playing business” – you’re ready to learn and implement the advanced strategies that will help you make big leaps in getting new clients, increasing your income, and securing higher profile opportunities to share your work with the world.

:: You’re looking for a high-touch program with lots of personal attention.

:: You feel great about the work you’re doing, you’re very good at it, and you’re ready to play on a bigger, more high-profile stage.

:: You’re not afraid of hard work or getting out of your comfort zone. You’re also an action-taker and an implementer.

:: You want a clear step-by-step system to generate consistent revenue in your business.

Why I’m Promoting Get Known, Get Clients

If you’ve been around these here parts for a while, you’ll notice I don’t actively promote other people’s paid programs on my site, on my blog, or in my newsletter.

I decided to promote GKGC for one simple reason: because I went through the program myself and it works – I got what I consider to be really good results, results that allowed me to leave my corporate writing gig and go out on my own, something I still sometimes have to pinch myself to believe.

And because the impact of GKGC has been so positive for me, I knew when the time came, I wanted to share it with my own audience.

Now to be crystal clear, I am an affiliate for Selena’s program. This means I get a commission if you sign up directly through me. And that’s why if you purchase through my link, you’ll get access to the exclusive bonuses listed below.

My Get Known, Get Clients Bonuses for 2015

I understand that GKGC is a meaningful investment, and one not to be taken lightly, and I know the work may at times feel overwhelming and/or uncomfortable to do.

So I wanted to put together a bonus that will help relieve some of the anxiety when you get to the modules in the course that involve optimizing your personal brand, and writing and messaging, specifically, and I think I’ve come up with a meaningful way to support you.

This will ensure you keep the GKGC momentum going and don’t get bogged down in the writing/messaging part you need to nail down in order to magnetize your ideal clients with your website and related copy.

Please note that the price of GKGC does not change when you sign up through my link, but I do earn a commission which allows me to offer the following bonuses:

:: Web Copy Transformation Package: This is where I apply my copywriter’s “let’s uncover and highlight the sales-inducing benefits in your web copy” brain to the three key pages of your website – your Home page, About page, and Services or Programs page – and we work side-by-side to edit and transform your copy from lackluster to luminous, so it’s more compelling and client-attractive to your target audience.

:: 60-minute one-on-one web copy strategy session: Over the course of GKGC, you’ll be developing your personal brand, creating or refining your compelling opt-in offer, writing a nurture sequence for your email list, creating your valuable offerings, and other important copywriting-related tasks. In this 60-minute session, you’ll have the opportunity to pick my copywriter’s brain and ask questions about any of the writing tasks you have to implement during the Get Known, Get Clients course, with a focus on highlighting the benefits of your brand and your offerings in a way that most appeals to your ideal clients.

:: Review of one guest post pitch and one guest post/article + copyediting suggestions to make it sing!

:: Review of your compelling opt-in offer and email opt-in form copy + copyediting, so you can get those website visitors falling all over themselves to sign up for your email list.

*Please note, you’ll get access to your bonuses after you complete the Personal Branding Module OR after you complete the full course, whichever works best for you.

How to Access Your Bonuses

Simply email me at Kimberly [at] kimberlydhouston.com to let me know you’ve enrolled in the program so I can slot you into your very own place on my copywriting and strategy session schedule. I’ll email you back to say hi, and share my best contact info so you can reach out when you’re ready to claim your bonuses!

[Note: The bonuses are only available after GKGC’s refund period is over.]

What to Do Next

I know if you apply yourself in the program, Selena can help you get big results. If 2015 is the year you vowed to invest in yourself and grow your business, and you want the kind of personal attention and support you won’t get in other group programs of this caliber, then GKGC could be exactly what you need.

If you also know you could benefit from one-on-one copywriting advice and strategy to really apply what you learn in Get Known, Get Clients to your business, click here to enroll in the program through my special link.

Have questions? Please feel free to email me at Kimberly [at] kimberlydhouston.com and I’ll get back to you within 24-48 business hours! And whatever you decide, I wish you the very best of luck!

 

This is What “Thinking Different” {and Southern} About Business Looks Like: Southern Airways Express

Doing business different

Image by Ladyheart

Around these here parts, we love to preach doing things your own quirky way in business. (And by “we,” I mean me.)

And we love it when we read about a company that bucks the system, says a big ol’ F.U. to “business as usual,” and follows a decidedly different path entirely of its own idiosyncratic making.

And we especially love it when that company proves you don’t have to follow boring old canned ways of doing things to succeed in business.

Southern Airways Express is that company.

My cousins over at The Bitter Southerner recently featured Southern Airways in a story on their site called Fly Me to the Gulf: How a Gang of Tennessee and Mississippi Entrepreneurs Is Bringing a Little Southern Hospitality (and Some Dignity) Back to Air Travel, written by Richard Murff, with photos by Matthew Jones.

Now this sounds like an airline I want to fly:

So abnormal, sensible and human is the team behind the startup that they just might have saved air travel from the savage jaws of awfulness and made it fun again. Its model — short-haul flights of less than 10 passengers — avoids the Transportation Security Administration policies of treating all passengers like refugees; reduces check-in to a pleasant 20 minutes; makes actual airtime comfortable, even sociable; and has no baggage-claim system to send all your clothes to Anaheim for the weekend. It does this, generally, for less money than the major carriers.”

And while things are good now, the startup had to overcome naysayers and dream stealers and a small-minded consensus among the major airlines that their model was impossible.

But guess what? They made it work.

Here’s COO Keith Sisson:

“Look, we aren’t geniuses here,” Sisson said. “We just did it the way that we’d like to see it done. It doesn’t even cost anymore to do it right; it’s just a little more trouble. You actually have to care.”

And that’s what it boils down to, doesn’t it?

You actually have to care.

And by caring, they’ve carved out a competitive advantage.

They’ve done something I talk about ad nauseum around here: they’ve found a way to stand out in a saturated market — simply by caring, by doing things right.

Love that.

Find out more about how Southern Airways Express is doing business different over here:

Fly Me to the Gulf: How a Gang of Tennessee and Mississippi Entrepreneurs Is Bringing a Little Southern Hospitality (and Some Dignity) Back to Air Travel

 

(By the way, even if you’re not interested in this particular article, but looking for some damn good writing nevertheless, you should high-tail it over to The Bitter Southerner. You won’t find better writing anywhere. Their drool-worthy site is full of insightful essays, beautiful images and new ways to think about what it means to live in the South in this day and age. This is hands-down my favorite website on the whole dang Internet, period. I love it to the moon and back.)

The Thing You Have to Understand Is That You Are Different

blog img_You are different

:: Not everybody wants to escape the 9-5 world. 

:: Not everybody who is deeply unhappy in the 9-5 world makes the leap to self-employment or any other kind of cubicle liberation. 

:: Not everybody wants to start a blog. Or launch a website. Or create an Etsy shop. Or write a newsletter for an audience of raving fans.  

:: Not everybody believes it’s possible to liberate themselves from unfulfilling work and build an online presence that sells their good and services, all while tapping into their innate talents and skills and abilities. 

:: Not everybody is comfortable sharing their art – whether that’s writing, graphic design, fine art, photography, business & marketing strategy, or any other kind of creative pursuit – in a public venue. 

:: Not everybody feels the fear and does it anyway. 

:: Not everybody chooses the friction of being visible over the much more palatable friction of being invisible. (Inspired by Mark Nepo

:: Not everybody chooses to feel utterly alive doing what they love to do, despite being terrified a crash and burn scenario could be imminent.  

:: Not everybody decides to take action on their dreams despite the naysayers who proclaim it’s not possible to do work you love and be well-paid for it.

:: Not everybody believes that creative sovereignty is a worthwhile and achievable goal.  

:: Not everybody keeps marching to the beat of their own quirky drummer when it would make much more sense to cave and get a job. 

:: Not everybody understands the liberating and undeniable joy of being unemployable. (I am full-time self-employed, but I consider myself unemployable.) 

:: Not everybody reads blogs like this one for marketing advice/how-tos/inspiration. (Thanks for that, by the way). 

:: Not everybody believes they have to ask permission from some kind of “gatekeeper” to do their thing, pursue their art, and sell it

The thing you have to understand is that you are different. Embrace it. Celebrate it. Revel in it. Fall in love with it. 

 

What would you add to this list? What do you believe/do/practice that goes against the accepted wisdom about how to earn a living or pursue your creative work? Please share in the comments!

Authentic Marketing & Selling for Introverted Creatives

{What’s this post about in a nutshell? How to market your work if you’re a creative and/or an introvert and don’t feel comfortable promoting yourself.}

Let me guess.

If you’re a photographer, writer, illustrator, web designer, crafter, fine artist, interior designer, musician, or virtually any other kind of creative person who earns a living (or would like to) from your creative pursuits, you don’t feel entirely comfortable promoting yourself or your work.

Sure, you get that marketing and selling is necessary to make the wheels on the business bus go round and round, but you really wish you could just hire someone to do all that marketing and selling stuff for you, so you could stay in your creative cave and make stuff.

I get it.

But at the end of the day, we are each responsible for our own success, and the “build it and they will come” approach usually only works in the land of unicorns and rainbows.

Back in the real world, we have to create our own opportunities.

That said, as an introverted creative myself, I’ve found that creating a robust presence online is the best way to build buzz around your work and “promote” yourself and your services without feeling lower than a snake’s belly in a wagon rut, as we say here in the dirty South.

So I’ve rounded up some of the very best advice on doing just that to share with you here.

Behold, dozens of great ideas for building buzz around your work in a way that feels authentic and doable:

49 Creative Geniuses Who Use Blogging to Promote Their Art

In which Leanne Regalla, in a guest post on Boost Blog Traffic, poses (and answers) the question, “For today’s artist, building a tribe is non-negotiable. But how?”

If you’ve ever doubted that blogging could help you sell your creative products or services, this read is for you.

You’ll find inspiring examples of musicians, visual artists, illustrators, writers, actors, music producers, filmmakers and other creatives who used blogging to create a platform from which they consistently and successfully sell their ideas and their work.

Go check it out here:

49 Creative Geniuses Who Use Blogging to Promote Their Art 

Why Artists and Creatives Have an Unfair Advantage at Internet Marketing

If you still have doubts that creating your own robust home online can help you make a good living from your creative pursuits, then do yourself a favor and be sure to read this piece, in which Mark McGuinness, poet, coach and creative entrepreneur lays out the built-in advantages creatives have when it comes to marketing online. (With examples! And we do love us some examples ’round here.)

Love his truth-telling here: “Probably the biggest hurdle for many creative people is the very idea of putting yourself out there and selling things. You might worry that it feels like ‘selling out’. Or that it’s just plain scary. I’m afraid I can’t sugarcoat this bit: if you want to earn a living from your creative work, you need to learn how to sell.”

And that’s the truth, folks. But selling doesn’t have to be scary when you do it the way McGuinness recommends.

Learn more about the “unfair advantage” your creativity gives you when it comes to marketing and selling and how to put it into practice here:

Why Artists and Creatives Have an Unfair Advantage at Internet Marketing

Want To Sell More Art? Sell Yourself First.

I particularly loved this article because of its focus on something I talk about a lot on this blog and in my weekly newsletter: the absolute necessity of differentiating yourself online (or offline, if that’s how you do business) if you want to find your ideal clients and customers and achieve success as a creative business builder.

As the authors (successful creative business builders themselves) point out, one very effective and easy-to-implement way to do this is to share your story, and they outline their 5 element formula for sharing a captivating story that engages likely buyers.

And best of all, they include real! live! examples! of how it’s done.

Check it out the article here:

Want To Sell More Art? Sell Yourself First.

Effective marketing for introverts

Here successful writer, web designer, and all-around fabulous creative Paul Jarvis aptly notes that a lot of the knowledge out there on marketing and promotion is not geared to introverts, and shares his own effective self-promotion process.

I love that his advice is about playing to your natural strengths when it comes to promoting your work; it’s not about trying to force the kind of marketing you’re often told you “should” or “must” do, you know, even if it makes your skin crawl.

As he says, “As long as you’re sharing your work with other people—the right people—then you’re marketing. Because really, all marketing is, is communication. And even introverts know how to do that, even if it’s in small doses.”

Find out more here:

Effective marketing for introverts

The Introvert’s Guide to Book Marketing

In which book marketing expert Tim Grahl shares how introverts can become good at marketing. While he’s talking specifically to authors, the tenets here are adaptable to marketing any kind of creative product or service.

I love that Grahl focuses on mindset first. After all, we are responsible for creating our own success, and if your thinking tends to be of the “marketing is icky and slimy” variety, you’ve simply got to rid yourself of that mindset if you want to earn a good living from your creative pursuits.

As Grahl says, “Once you change your perspective from ‘marketing is tricking people into buying something they don’t want’ to ‘marketing is helping people connect with my meaningful work,’ it takes on an entirely different tone.”

Hear, hear! And read all about it here:

The Introvert’s Guide to Book Marketing

And there you have it. A boatload of great advice on marketing and selling for introverted creatives from writers who know whereof they speak.

Which of the strategies these writers share are you most excited to pursue? Let me know in the comments!

On Goal Setting, Guilt, and Planning 2015 Around the Metric of Creative Fulfillment

Goals 2015 blog post image_resized

Image by FidlerJan

Ah, the beginning of a new year.

It’s that time when all around the interwebs, you’re exposed to endless talk about planning and goal-setting for 2015, and doing your 2014 year in review. And let’s not forget, it’s also the time for setting some “stretch” goals for the coming year, often referred to as “big hairy audacious goals.” (Why “hairy,” I wonder? I’ve always been puzzled by that phrase. I prefer my goals hair-free. But I digress.)

I’ve listened to a bunch of podcasts, attended half a dozen webinars, and read numerous blog posts in the last six weeks about goal-setting systems and templates and philosophies and rules.

And I’m ready, I’m “ready-eddy-eddy” as Sponge Bob would say, to plan my 2015. In fact, at the end of November I bought a big ass 2015 wall calendar, and I cannot tell you how excited that one simple purchase made me feel! I fairly floated home on a cloud of unfettered fantasies of a rockin’ 2015 in which all my dreams come true.

And then I remembered the goals I set for 2014 that didn’t quuuuuite come to pass.

The 2014 Postmortem

Recently I looked back through my journals from the last two years, specifically, the parts where I wrote down my goals for the following year, and what I discovered left me feeling a wee bit sad and disappointed.

Because even though I’ve been working ridiculously hard for the last two years, there were still many things I said I was going to do in 2013 that I never got around to doing, and even more things I had planned for 2014 that didn’t happen.

I’ve been ruminating about this for weeks, trying to uncover the reason for this sorry state of affairs, and what I’ve concluded is this: my approach to goal-setting in 2014 was based more on what seemed logical and realistic, with a focus on what I “should” want as a writer, copywriter & marketing strategist for hire – and less on what I really, truly, madly and deeply desired.

And while I’m sure there are many circumstances in which being “realistic” and “logical” makes the most sense, I fervently believe that, as Will Smith has said, “Being realistic is the most commonly traveled road to mediocrity.” And in my case, it was also the road to unfulfilled goals, and their corollary, disappointment and guilt.

The big picture assessment of where my 2014 goal-setting and goal-achieving missed the mark is that I chose some of the “wrong” goals, and the way I was going about achieving even the “right” ones was misguided.

Let me explain.

4 Insights on goal-setting based on my 2014 experience, and where I derailed:

#1: If you don’t choose goals for the “right” reason, that is, goals that actually light you up and tap into your natural skills, gifts, talents and abilities, and even more importantly, goals that take into account what you actually WANT to be doing, they’re much less likely to get accomplished.

For example, one of my goals for this year was to increase my income by 30-50%. I knew I could easily achieve this by reaching out to more healthcare and real estate-related clients, because I’ve done a lot of marketing communications in these two niches for the last few years, so finding additional clients in these categories wouldn’t be difficult.

And at the beginning of 2014, I set out to do just that. I made an initial list of 50+ healthcare and real estate clients to reach out to, set up an Excel spreadsheet to track my weekly outreach and results, and set about contacting potential new clients. Then about 4 weeks in, I lost all motivation to continue down this path. Even though it felt like a revenue increase slam-dunk, my heart just wasn’t in it. I love my current real estate and healthcare clients, but I simply don’t want to take on new writing projects in these niches unless something uber-interesting comes along.

Result: While I got a few awesome new clients in creative fields in 2014 (Yay – these are my dream clients!), I mostly let myself coast with current healthcare and real estate clients. As a result, my income in 2014 was pretty much the same as it was in 2013.

Solution: In 2015, I’ll be making a concerted effort to reach out to creative service providers and other potential clients in my ideal target audience. Actively marketing to the kind of clients I have a strong desire to work with means the daily marketing will get done, because my heart will be in the marketing, and in getting these clients great results.

Inspirational quote that sums up this point, from Brendon Burchard: “The journey to legend begins the moment our bias for ease and comfort is overpowered by our drive for challenge and contribution.”

So for better results? Drop the “bias for ease and comfort” – love that.

#2: Setting huge goals, then not chunking them down into the smaller, manageable pieces that can be accomplished daily, weekly and monthly, is a recipe for failure.

What happens here is, you look at this huge goal, and because it’s so big, so daunting, so seemingly insurmountable, you have no idea where to begin. And because you don’t where to begin, you procrastinate. You don’t take action because you don’t know which action to take first, and next, then next after that. And then your dream turns into a sad, dessicated husk that drifts away on the wind the first time you whine “I can’t figure this OUT!” (Or maybe that’s just me.)

For example, this year I wanted to begin writing my book for and about creatives, the details of which I’m still sorting out. I took a course in how to write a book proposal, I joined an amazing online writer’s group made up of lovely and ambitious souls who are also working on books and book proposals, and in which there is an infinite amount of advice and support; I even wrote up a skeleton outline of the book. But alas, that’s where it ended.

Result: Because I didn’t break the project down into its attendant daily, weekly and monthly tasks, it felt like such a bear that I didn’t move forward on it after the initial flurry of activity.

Solution: For 2015, I mapped out my entire year in “skeleton” form. It’s not overly detailed at this point, but it has my big goals and intentions for the year sketched out, by quarter and by month. I chose 2-3 key goals to focus on each quarter, then broke those down into my monthly and weekly action items. Next I made an extremely detailed plan for 1Q that includes my blog and email newsletter editorial calendar, marketing, promotions, and client outreach for each month, and the bigger creative projects I’ll work on. I don’t do the super-detailed planning more than 3 months in advance, but with the skeleton plan for the entire year in place, I feel on purpose and directed. Which is a vast improvement from last year, when I was pretty much flying by the seat of my pants for most of the year. Having a written plan with an actual timeline feels so much better – and oddly, more liberating.

#3: Having too many goals is also a dream killer.

There were so many things I wanted to accomplish in 2014, so I attempted to work a little bit on each of them, all the time. There was the book, a new interview series for the blog, the 6-month class I took the second half of 2014, regular blog and email newsletter content, the client work, the outreach plan to get new clients, the website rewrite, the guest posting blitz, and at least half a dozen other big-ish projects.

Result: Lots of things started, few completed. This left me feeling exhausted, creatively unfulfilled, and cranky. Lesson: Lots of loose ends and unfinished projects is not good for your creative mojo.

The solution: The cure for this is to focus one’s “whole-hearted creative attention” (a Danielle LaPorte phrase) on two or three main projects at any one time, and forget the rest. With that in mind, my three top priorities for 2015 are: writing the book and all activities related to that project; building my online platform and email list, both to support the book release and to increase revenue for my copywriting and marketing consulting business; and to increase my revenue by 50%.

#4: The corollary to this is not knowing which goals to prioritize (or in my case, not validating your dreams by prioritizing your most heartfelt goals).

What I found was that the goals I was actually most excited about – interviewing other creatives for a new blog series, writing my book, and creating products – took a backseat to the day-to-day grind of client work. I told myself repeatedly throughout the year, “I don’t have TIME to step away from client work to work on my book or interview series or product creation. Between clients and deadlines and marketing my services, I just don’t have time!” That’s probably not coming across as shrilly here as it did in my head all year long, but it was a constant, annoying refrain.

Result: Because I wasn’t carving out big chunks of time to work the goals that actually meant the most to me, there were many times during the year I felt resentful and dissatisfied.

This culminated in an “episode” at the beginning of July that scared the bejesus out of me: I was driving to the location of where I do onsite work for a client, and about half a mile from my destination, I started having trouble breathing, my heart was racing, and I felt like I was dying. I considered pulling over and calling 911, because I literally could not breathe. I didn’t know if it was a heart attack, a panic/anxiety attack, or some other inexplicable health-related thing. I made an appointment with my doctor, who suggested an EKG and a chest x-ray, neither of which turned up anything troublesome, luckily. And that’s when I started seeing an acupuncturist regularly, because this thing, whatever it was, didn’t go away. It lingered in more subdued form for months. And it still crops up from time to time even now, usually when I’m feeling stressed. Anyhoo, I’m convinced the July episode was my body’s way of telling me to stop grinding through the kind of work and the kind of schedule I don’t love and find a better path. Duly noted, plan in progress.

Solution: This is not about not having time, but about prioritizing my most important goals and rearranging my schedule to make the actions required to achieve them possible. We all have the same 24 hours in a day, and if people with way more time constraints and family and work obligations than I have can create their art and meet their goals, so can I.

At the end of the day, if I wanted to work on the book, do the interview series, and create the products in 2014, I could have pushed other things off my schedule and carved out time to do them, but I did not. I have to give my goals the same weight I do client work, by doing something as simple as adding a non-negotiable hour of writing/creation time into my schedule 6-7 days a week, first thing in the morning, before I do anything else, including client work.

Something that’s helping me like gangbusters in prioritizing my day is a great post by Ashley Ambirge called, Million Things To Do? Prioritize by ROI. (And Then Get a Life.) I’m not exaggerating when I say this blog post has changed my relationship to my work in a way that makes me feel damn near sane most days! And a whole lot happier. I now follow this template daily for arranging my work flow.

Wins: What Went Right in 2014 (It’s All About Mindset & Clarity).

When I review my accomplishments in 2014, the thing I’m most proud of are the profound mindset shifts I made. These shifts are leading to a more profitable business, and though they impacted 2014 mostly in the 4th quarter, going forward they’ll add to my bottom line over and over again.

So we’ve all heard that saying that goes something like, “everything you want is just outside your comfort zone” right? But how many of us live by that in our day-to-work? I thought I was getting outside the ol’ comfort zone on a regular basis until I took a course called Get Known, Get Clients created by business and publicity strategist Selena Soo. Selena’s course had me doing things way, and I mean waaaay, outside this introvert’s very comfortable comfort zone each week for the six months of the course.

While there were many things I was at ease with by virtue of having done them consistently for the last 2-3 years – list-building, guest posting, target market research, branding and so on – there were other things in the course that made me wildly uncomfortable, panicked even.

Such as, you ask? Well, having sales conversations, creating a signature talk and committing to live networking, for starters. (I’d actually done the live networking thing a ton over the years, but decided I was done with it about two years ago, being an introvert and all. Until this course, when I learned how to do it without feeling like I was selling my soul to the devil.)

So, the big scary: sales conversations . . . . something I knew as a service provider I should be doing on a regular basis, but always resisted. And I didn’t feel I really needed to be doing them, because I had plenty of work. But what if all that went away and I had to start over again from scratch to get clients? That’s where it would come in super-handy to develop some skill in having sales conversations. So I committed to learning this skill.

I’ve now had a few sales conversations. Turns out? Not as terrifying as I thought they’d be. (And in case you’re wondering, “sales conversations” don’t have to feel “salesy” or icky at all. It’s about sharing how you can help potential clients who have already expressed some interest in working with you; it’s never about coercion – there’s a way to have them that doesn’t employ any of that desperate, pushy sales energy.)

And when you actually get a fabulous new client out of the practice right away, one that fits your ideal client profile to a “t,” as I did? Well my friend, that’s when your confidence soars and you commit to doing more of this thing you thought you’d never want to do. AND, you help clients achieve their goals and increase your revenue at the same time. It’s a win-win-win if ever there was one.

And the bonus is, once you’ve done something scary and uncomfortable once, that particular thing gets much easier, so you move on to an even bigger and scarier goal, and wrestle that one into submission too.

On the creating a signature talk front, while I didn’t set out to achieve this in 2014, after Get Known, Get Clients, I’ve committed to creating and delivering a signature talk in 2015, because it’s an excellent way to add high-value ideal clients to your client roster. I’ll do this in steps so I don’t become so terrified that it never happens. Because I love to teach, I plan to start by developing a small web marketing & messaging workshop for creative business builders, then after I’ve delivered this 2-3 times, I’ll step it up and create a signature talk. Believe me when I tell you that this is something that a year ago I would have never seen myself doing. Mind, expanded.

The other seemingly small but profoundly impactful thing I changed as a result of taking this course – and something that’s already increased my revenue – is talking to people one-on-one who email me to express interest in working together. What I used to do before the GKGC course was respond to client inquiries with an email asking the potential client to tell me more about their project. This isn’t because I’m an introvert or fear rejection, it’s because my daily schedule is full, and email is quicker. However, what I found (duh) is that talking to potential clients over the phone results in more clients signing on, so it’s worth the extra time it takes to schedule and have the conversation.

Lesson: Getting out of your comfort zone on the regular is necessary if you want to achieve your biggest goals, dreams & visions.

“Playing safe is probably the most unsafe thing in the world. You cannot stand still. You must go forward.” ~Robert Collier

Sweet, Sweet Clarity

I often say clarity is like gold, because once you have it, you don’t waste your time on things that don’t matter. Which results in a life of more joy, freedom, cash, and fun. And who doesn’t want that?

After my weird summer and fall (see notes on not validating your dreams by prioritizing your most heartfelt goals, above), I not only achieved clarity on what I really want to work on and what really lights me up in both business and in life, but also started taking action on said clarity. I can’t overstate how important this is for creating massive amounts of joy and liberation in your life. The resource that helped me achieve this goldmine of clarity is Danielle LaPorte’s book, The Desire Map. Highly recommended.

In a nutshell, the process involves getting clear on how you most want to feel in every area of your life, then setting your goals and intentions based on your core desired feelings, or CDFs. My 2015 plans and goals are now based on my core desired feelings, which include: Creatively fulfilled; Financially empowered; Generous; Connected, and Courageous.

Other 2014 Wins:

:: The most fun and creatively satisfying investment I made this year was Book Mama Linda Sivertsen’s Your Big Beautiful Book Plan telecourse, which is essentially a live version with one-on-one feedback from Linda of the Your Big, Beautiful Book Plan digital program (which I also bought this year)

These two resources helped me organize my copious but incohesive thoughts around the book I want to write for and about creatives. And while I didn’t start writing the book in 2014 as I had originally planned, I outlined the entire thing, bought the book domain name, and sketched out a promotion plan. The challenge in 2015 will be carving out the time to consistently take action on this massive project while keeping on top of client work.

:: I transitioned away from taking on strictly real estate and healthcare clients and started working with creative clients this year. Goooooooooaaaaalllllllll! It’s a good start, and I’ll be ramping up my outreach to these clients in 2015 so I can eventually phase out of writing marketing communications in the real estate and healthcare niches.

:: There was an increase in the number of potential clients coming to me through my website this year, which is what this introvert has always wanted. This is a result of getting clear on my ideal client avatar (ICA) and unique selling proposition (USP) and implementing these insights throughout my website, which I did in 2013. I’ll be tweaking things in both these areas even more in 2015.

Figure It Out, & Do What Makes You Happy

So that’s it, that’s my 2014 year-end assessment. I’m clear about what didn’t work, what did, and what I want to achieve in 2015. And I’m setting my goals and intentions based on what I most want, not on what I feel like I should want, or what someone else says I should strive for in my business and in my life, or on anything other than what I know to be true in my heart of hearts.

What about you?

What if you chose your goals & intentions for this and every year based on what makes you the happiest, on what brings you the greatest joy?

Of course you have to make a buck and keep the lights on, but is there a way to put more of your desired creative work into your daily life?

I’ll leave you with this, one of my favorite quotes of all time:

The great actor, director and author Sidney Poitier once said when talking about his background and achievements while accepting an award:

I knew my dreams were as valid as I was prepared to make them.

Powerful stuff.

So I ask you, are you prepared to make your dreams valid this year? I am. Please join me.

 

Resources Mentioned in This Article

Your Big, Beautiful Book Plan 

Book Mama 

The Desire Map 

8 questions to ask yourself before committing to a goal (or a person, or anything for that matter). 

I didn’t mention this Danielle LaPorte blog post in the article here, but it helped me tremendously in setting and reviewing my goals. It’s a list of 8 specific questions you can ask yourself about each of your goals & intentions to find more clarity. I found this most useful when I was trying to decide if a goal was something I wanted for the right reasons, or merely something I felt “conditioned” to want.

Ashley Ambirge on how to prioritize your projects each day – I’m following this template daily now:

Million Things To Do? Prioritize by ROI. (And Then Get a Life.)  

Get Known, Get Clients 

Here’s another piece I didn’t reference in this article, but it’s a very good one on how to do a year-end review, from the fine folks at Fizzle:

The End of Year Review and Planning Process Every Small Business and Online Entrepreneur Should Follow 

And one more quote, because I can’t resist:

There’s a certain delusional quality that all successful people have to have. You have to believe that something different than what has happened for the last 50 million years of history, you have to believe that something different can happen. ~Will Smith

May we all have a rockin’ 2015 in which all our dreams come true. 🙂 

 

Tough Love: The Business You’re Really In

“Everybody want to be famous, nobody want to put the work in.”  ~comedian Kevin Hart & friends

 

I love this little video clip, firstly, because I’m a huge Kevin Hart fan. But I also love it because its message can be applied to what many of us are spending so much time online trying to do: create a successful business that will support us financially, and fulfill us creatively.

Yep, everybody want to have a successful business, nobody want to put the work in.

Of course it’s not true that nobody wants to put the work in, because plenty of people have created successful businesses that provide creative fulfillment and a comfortable living. We follow many of these people online, do we not? So we know it can be done.

But when it comes to creating the same thing for ourselves, as creatives we’re often too willing to give up too soon, whine about how challenging the whole thing is, or complain about having to . . . gasp . . . market ourselves. (Fact: I originally titled this blog post “Get Schooled on Marketing or Stay Broke.”)

And it’s the “marketing ourselves” bit that I hear the most complaints about from fellow creatives.

A few short years ago I was in that camp, until I realized I had two choices: either hire someone to do my marketing for me (not possible at the time, and not ideal even if it had been financially viable), or suck it up and do it myself, without complaint or self-consciousness.

Now, as someone who has worked in PR, advertising, and marketing and sales for most of my adult life, you’d think I’d be fine with marketing myself. But you would be wrong. Naturally, it’s much easier, and way less uncomfortable, to sing the praises of others through persuasive marketing communications than it is to step from behind the safety of my laptop and do the same thing for myself.

But it wasn’t until I finally decided to stop window-shopping having a business and actually do the challenging and time-consuming work involved in getting some traction for it (which I wrote about at length here), that everything started to change: more resonance with my ideal audience, more email sign-ups, more inquiries about my services, & more clients.

And then one day as things were starting to improve, I read something on A-list copywriter and brilliant marketer Dan Kennedy’s website that drove home this lesson like a shot to the face, wherein he talks about the “one truth businesses don’t like to hear.”

And that truth is this:

The business you are really in is the business of marketing and the thing you do, for example a dentist, a realtor, and info-marketer, etc., is secondary.

Kennedy goes on to say that being a better doctor, lawyer, carpet cleaner, or maker of stuff will not make you wealthier, but marketing your business better will.

I know many of us are squeamish about this prospect, and I get it, but we simply must get over that if we want to get off the feast-or-famine roller coaster, for one, and stop taking on projects and clients that make us want to drive off a cliff, for another.  And paying the rent and eating 3 squares a day is pretty important too, I might add.

So if you’re dreaming of that day when you’ll be able hire someone to do all your marketing for you so you can decamp to your creative cave and simply make stuff, then you’re going to have to find a way afford that marketing help first.

And that means you have to get good at marketing your business yourself NOW. So find a way to like it, or at the very least, find one way to market your business that you absolutely will do and that you don’t hate, and keep at it until you either see some success from that method or you determine it just ain’t working, in which case you try the next marketing method.  And so on until you find the one that you’re willing to do that does work.

P.S. – Just as I was about to hit “publish” on this post, I read something great over on Itty Biz, one of my favorite go-to places for biz and marketing advice that feels like the perfect companion piece to this one, called 10 Perfectly Good Ways to Market Your Business, and What to Do If You Don’t Like Any Of Them.

You should check that out.

Lessons Distilled from a Creative Life: “The Good Creative: 18 Ways to Make Better Art,” by Paul Jarvis

 

The Good Creative: 18 Ways to Make Better Art by Paul Jarvis

Supported. Seen. Understood.

As a creative, do you often find yourself resistant to business advice or words of wisdom from those not in creative fields, because they don’t seem to get it?  You read a blog post, watch a video, or listen to a podcast to uncover tips for earning a full-time living from your creative thing, and think, “that won’t work for me,” or “that doesn’t apply to me because I sell fine art, photography, design services, illustration, [insert your creative work of choice here].”

While timeless marketing principles, authentically applied, can work for business builders in any category, it’s an unimpeachable truth that as creatives, when we seek counsel on how to up our business game or look for success stories we can apply to our own situation, we want to know that this guidance applies to us specifically as creative business builders. We want to take advice from someone who gets it. We don’t abide yellow highlighter hyperbole, “ninja” tricks, “warrior” moves, or other cliché metaphors of aggression that so many marketers & online business builders promote.

So when a successful creative, someone who earns a full-time living from his creative output, shares what he’s learned along the way, I’m going to pay the gentleman some attention. (“Success” is such a loaded word, so let’s assume here that it means the ability to support yourself from your creative work and feel creatively fulfilled in your daily life.)

Who is this gentleman I speak of?  Why it’s Paul Jarvis, web designer, best-selling author and “gentleman of adventure.”

I recently bought his book, The Good Creative: 18 Ways to Make Better Art.  It’s pithy, entertaining, and full of good juju in the form of 18 “ideas to consider” when doing your creative thing, wherein Jarvis shares what he’s learned from observing other smart, successful, creative people. He says, “I wrote this book to explore the commonalities between successful artists. These are the 18 traits I see in good creatives. Not get-rich-quick, empty-promise dealers or egomaniacal artists, but good creatives.”

I love his expansive definition of what it means to be a creative: essentially, a creative is a person who makes anything; transforms their ideas into something tangible; curates or edits; leads or teaches; and puts what they know out into the world for others to watch, taste, read or hear.

In the book, Jarvis offers real-world examples to illustrate each of his 18 ideas. And if you’ve spent anytime ‘round these here parts, you know I love me some real-world examples. 

For example, in Chapter One, Try & fail (repeat as necessary), Jarvis shares now famous rejections that didn’t stop the creatives in question from pursing their dreams and becoming wildly successful. Stephen King, Henry Ford, Walt Disney, and Steven Spielberg, anyone?  The message: repeated failure doesn’t stop successful artists. 

In Chapter Three, Launch before you’re ready, Jarvis gives us the example of the Coen brothers’ first film, Blood Simple. The brothers entered their film in the Toronto and Sundance film festivals before the movie was even finished, because they were eager to get something into the competition. Once the film was accepted, they went off and finished it; it then won the 1985 Sundance Grand Jury Prize.

In Chapter Four, Tell your story, Jarvis says, “For creatives, the story behind the art is usually as important as the art itself” (Yes! I could jump up and down!  I give this advice to clients who are creatives all the time), and shares the example of Kris Carr, who launched her career as a wellness activist and author by telling the story of her cancer journey in the documentary, Crazy Sexy Cancer.

Other favorite chapters include “Share your ugly process,” “Help others,” “Hug your critics,” “Package your quirks,” “Focus on the work, not the outcome,” and “Break the rules.” But heck, truth be told, I actually loved them all.

As Jarvis says, “These aren’t rules, because you can’t magically follow them and then presto—your art becomes more famous than Gangnam Style,” but the 18 ideas here, embraced and implemented in your own special snowflake way of course, can realistically help you get from “starving artist” to fulfilled creative.

Learn more about the book here

(Depending on when you’re reading this, the book may or may not be available yet.  I bought it on pre-sale from his mailing list; otherwise, it’s available to all on June 1, 2014. I believe it will sell for $25.)

To find out more, get after it here:

The Good Creative: 18 Ways to Make Better Art  

An Ode to Being Impractical: A Reading List for Creative Business Builders

On Being Impractical to Achieve Success

I’ve been turning this Will Smith quote over in my head for weeks now. Noticing how I let fear stop me from initiating projects I’d really love to push “go” on. Or how I often get excited by an idea, then say to myself, “Hmm, I don’t know, maybe not,” all because in the back of my mind is that negating caution to be realistic.

As creatives, we’ve likely heard some version of this advice many times over, but how many truly extraordinary things were achieved by following the maxim to “be realistic?”

What if, instead, we gave ourselves permission to be wildly impractical? To throw caution to the wind during our creative process/brainstorming/visioning? How many deeply meaningful and creatively expansive projects would we undertake if the pervasive message was to be outlandish, outrageous, and a little loony, at least every now and then?

With that in mind, I rounded up a few articles I’ve had the pleasure of reading lately that illustrate the benefits of taking the road less traveled. Of being unrealistic.

Whether it’s in your marketing, your creative work, or through simply declaring you are the thing you most want to be – artist, writer, photographer, designer, what-have-you – being open to the unconventional can open up a whole new world of possibilities, leading to success breakthroughs you didn’t even know you were capable of.

These articles each illustrate in their own way that success doesn’t always come from following the default operating paradigm to be realistic. And thank goodness for that.

Oscar-Nominated Director Benh Zeitlin on Not Waiting For Permission

In this interview, writer, director and composer of the film Beasts of the Southern Wild, which won four Oscar nominations, talks about how an artist collective called Court 13 made one of the best films of 2012, using a model “contrary to everything Hollywood teaches.”

Read more here about the power of taking an unconventional approach to a creative project.

4 Most Improbable Success Stories You’ll Ever Hear

This group of go-getters didn’t let challenging obstacles or the dreamslayers and naysayers of the world keep them from following their dreams and achieving success.

Check out these four tales of unlikely success here.

They Did What!? 19 Secrets of Successful Business Owners Who Took the Road Less Traveled

The title of this article sums it up: road less traveled. And we love “road less traveled” around here.

Here are 19 secrets from 19 lifestyle businesses that found success by stepping off the beaten path and doing something different.

8 Bold Businesses Reveal How to Build an Unforgettable Brand

In this article Erika Napoletano writes about one of my favorite topics – how to stand out in a saturated market by being your straight-up self. These branding lessons from 8 “bold, brash and brazen” companies prove that building a successful and well-loved business around unique personality factors can have you smiling all the way to the bank.

Read about how these companies brought personality into the branding mix to transform what could have been deadly dull and boring into compelling and drool-worthy here.

I Had Been Fired and Evicted, and Still Retired at 27

Here’s the story of how Brenton Hayden, Harvard Business School and MIT Sloan School of Business graduate and CEO and founder of Renter’s Warehouse USA, made $966,803 in his first full year of business and eventually became a retired multi-millionaire just after his 27th birthday – after being fired and evicted. Proof that opportunity exists in every situation.

Read about Brenton’s path to success here

How I Stopped Waiting to Become a Writer, Quit My Job & Launched My Dream

In this guest post on Problogger.net, writer Jeff Goins admits, “I seethed with envy and bitterness as I saw friends skyrocket to success, living out their passions,” and asks, “What were they doing that I wasn’t?”

Read Goin’s story about how he declared himself a writer, ultimately achieved success, and created a thriving career doing what he loves here.

And there ya have it. I hope you found some inspiration and motivation in these tales of others who found success by doing things differently.

Now it’s your turn – in the comments below, tell me about a time you took the road less traveled (in your business or personal life) despite well-meaning advice from family and friends, and what the happy result was.