How to Stop Comparing and Despairing

[This post was originally shared on www,bestkeptself.com]

There I was, innocently scrolling through my Facebook feed with unwashed tresses and wearing leggings as pants, when I saw it: a certain highly-intelligent (and drop-dead beautiful) colleague had just unabashedly announced her (laundry list) of recent accomplishments, which included everything from whipping up a fabulous dinner to booking two new clients after doubling her rates.

…Right alongside a gorgeous photo of her in all her perfectly blown-out, unicorn-colored hair glory.

For a moment,  I felt physically sick. Although I’m usually one for #collaborationovercompetition and I truly do believe there’s enough room in the universe for all of us, I still had to an urge to ugly cry.

How did she get so much done AND have time to blow-dry that fabulous hair of hers? And how is she charging so much? I’ve been doing this WAY longer than she has and I wouldn’t even THINK about asking that much! But OMG, her writing is SO amazing. Why would anyone hire me when they could just hire her? Look how many people are commenting on and “loving” her post! Ugh. I suck.

Sound familiar?

The truth is, it’s way too easy to compare yourself to other business owners, especially when you’re connected to tons of them on social media.

Just spend five minutes browsing Facebook or Instagram, and you’ll literally be exposed to thousands of images showcasing other business owners’ highlight reels – from their pristinely-decorated apartments to snapshots of their #bestdayever with their #bizbesties to dollar-by-dollar breakdowns of their most recent (sold-out, obviously) launch.

It’s enough to make any woman – especially a self-employed woman who sometimes spends all day locked in her home office in polka-dot pajamas wondering if what she’s doing has ANY impact – start doubting herself and launch deep into compare and despair mode.

But fret not, gorgeous.

While comparisonitis is an ugly ailment, it isn’t chronic.

Thank goodness.

Here are a few simple things to remember when you feel yourself slipping into comparison mode:

  • Put the blinders on, babe. My first defense against comparisonitis is to STOP LOOKING at other people’s “stuff” – especially people in my niche. It sounds so simple, but it’s actually pretty hard in practice. When consuming others ideas + content (+ Facebook celebrations) stops feeling inspiring + starts making you feel bad/unworthy/like a hot mess, do yourself a favor… just stop looking. Fast. And then, move onto the rest of these tips. 😉
  • Remember you are unique. Yes, it’s cliche. But I think it’s pretty incredible that no one else in the entire universe sees things quite like you do. No one alive has your unique cocktail of life experiences, thoughts, emotions and dreams. Even if you happen to be in the exact same business as talented-colleague-with-the-wonderful-hair, you bring your own unique, fresh spin to everything you do. From the content you create to your client interactions, you have your own voice + style – and that’s something no one can take away from you (no matter how fabulous they are). And trust me – there’s somebody out there who needs to hear whatever message you feel called to share from YOU and in the way only YOU can share it. Remember them when you feel like you don’t know if what you have to say matters. It does.
  • But at the same time, remember you don’t have to be original all the time. Sometimes, we take the “you’re unique’ thing too far and put too much pressure on ourselves to be original. For example, maybe you get down on yourself when you notice that someone you admire just posted a poignantly-and-practically-perfect blog about the very topic you were going to write about this week. While it stings, the truth is you can’t expect to “be the first” all the time. So, if you start seeing a bunch of other people in your niche going on about a topic you could’ve sworn YOU thought of first, let it go. Remember that sometimes it’s okay to simply contribute to a conversation that’s already happening and not worry about “being the first.” What you have to say is STILL valuable!
  • Create more, consume less.  I don’t know about you, but I’m way more prone to comparisonitis when I’ve been doing a lot of consuming – like downloading tons of podcasts, or signing up for multiple webinars, or reading every email newsletter in my inbox. If you’ve been glued to your phone or laptop for days, it’s time to take a break from all that input, and start putting some beauty back out into the universe. I promise that once you actually start taking action on your OWN ideas (versus devouring others), you’ll feel a million times better about yourself – and you won’t worry nearly as much about what your colleagues are up to because you’ll feel SO good about what YOU’RE creating. Who cares if she’s got two new clients, I’m over here writing my magnum opus! Yeah!
  • Remind yourself that anything you see in her, is also in you. When I feel a twinge of jealousy about another woman’s awesomeness, I have to remind myself that anything I see in her, also exists in me. The only reason I can even acknowledge how insanely cool this colleague is is because I also possess those insanely cool qualities – although chances are right now I’m not shining them as brightly as I could. Jealousy hurts, but it also serves a purpose: It’s one way the universe shows us what we want more of in our own lives. So make sure to take notice next time you feel yourself going green with envy and figure out exactly what it is about this other person that makes your blood boil. Do you wish YOU got more done everyday? Are you annoyed that she’s launched five things in the last year and you still haven’t taken action on your one “golden idea” from three years ago? Do you secretly wish your hair looked like an Easter Egg, but you’ve been too scared to admit it? Whatever it is, once you’re aware, you can start taking small actions to bring more of those things into your own life. And voila – the jealousy and comparisonitis dissipates, just like that.

  • Brag a little. I’ve noticed I’m especially triggered by others sharing their successes when I haven’t been making a concerted effort to shout out my own accomplishments. Chances are, you’ve made plenty of major moves and had some incredible things happen to you lately, too – you’re just not posting them on social media! But what if you started to? In her book, The School of Womanly Arts, Mama Gena suggests all women brag about themselves at least once a day to boost their confidence and je ne sais quoi. I think social media is the PERFECT place to practice this ‘art.’ It might feel awkward at first, but the truth is, it is SO important to give yourself credit for what you’ve done. And like they always say, “If you can’t beat ‘em, join ‘em.” You, too, have quite an incredible life – and you deserve to document and celebrate it just as much as anyone else! So next time you book a new (dreamy) client, or publish a blog post that’s been hanging out in your Drafts folder for weeks or book yourself solid, go ahead + give yourself a little social media love.

 

Tell us: How do you deal with comparisonitis as a self-employed woman?

 

The ONE thing you *must* nail on your sales page

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Ladies, let’s get real.

Writing for the web is kinda incredible. When it’s done right, it can do insane things for you and your business (and consequently, your clients).

But there’s a not-so-glamorous truth about web writing, which is this:
Once a reader pops on your page, you have about 7 seconds (or less) to harness their attention.

Which means your headline – especially on sales pages – is kind of a big deal.

But like, how the heck do you make sure you’re crafting a haute headline that’s as succinct, snappy and sizzling as humanly possible, so you don’t lose your readers to puppies, kittens or Mannequin challenge videos? I got you. 😉

Here are a few notable things to know about headlines:
+ You don’t have to open with “pain points.” Yes, some sales pages open with what most marketers call “pain points” because psychology says humans are more motivated by fear of loss than gain. (For example, a health coach might open with a line about how awful it is to “turn down brunch dates with your babes because you can’t handle yourself in front of a plate of pancakes” rather than how amazing it will feel to “fit into an itty bitty teeny weeny yellow polka dot bikini.”) But if that idea gives you the heeby jeebies, I need you to know you have another option: opening with the benefits. Speaking to what your dream client desires (rather than what she fears) might not be scientifically as effective, but it definitely works. And it’s worth a try when it comes to your audience. Play around! What does your dream client respond to?

+ Use the Rule of One: I follow something called the “Rule of One” when writing my own headlines. In non-marketing speak, that means I try to keep my headline focused on the most powerful emotional benefit of the offer, rather than trying to pack 3-5 big benefits into one sentence. Pick one benefit to highlight, and use the rest of the page to dig into the others.

+ There are like a zillion different ways to whip up headlines. Do a quick Google search and you’ll find hundreds of articles full of “proven” “magnetic” headline formulas. But one of my favorite ways to whip up a wicked headline is by looking at print mags – espesh Cosmo – for headline inspiration. No joke, Cosmo’s got headline-writing down to an art. All you have to do to ‘borrow’ their genius is to look for a headline that fans your flame – say, “4 Signs He’s the One” and make it relevant to your industry a la “4 Signs This Client is ‘The One.” It’s simple and it’s hella fun.

Oh, and just in case Cosmo isn’t exactly your jam, here are a few other “proven” headline styles to get you goin’, adapted from the (incredible) book Great Leads:

The “Painless” Lead – “Get [most desired result] without the [biggest struggle they face while trying to achieve desired result]”

The USP Lead – “[Offer] is the only [what it is] to [most desired result]”

The Fantasy Lead – Imaginative phrases like, “Imagine if [thing they want most]? ” or “What if…[thing they want most]?” or “How would life be different if [thing they want most]?

The Fantasy Lead – Imaginative phrases like, “Imagine if [thing they want most]? ” or “What if…[thing they want most]?” or “How would life be different if [thing they want most]?

The Big Secret Lead – “The easier way to X” or “The top-secret way one woman radically achieved [most desired result]”

The Proclamation Lead – “Did you know more than 80% of startups fail within the first three years?” or “A good – even great – sales page ISN’T all you need to sell your stuff online.”

+ Finally – just like when it comes to trying anything new – don’t expect perfection, especially the first time! I’m a big fan of writing my headlines last – after I’ve refined the page’s overall message and positioning. And then, I usually brainstorm about 10-20 okay-but-not-awesome options before I truly “nail” it. Don’t put the pressure on to get it “just right” because honestly, there’s no such thing, and you’ll be writing yourself into burnout or severe hand cramps. 🙂

And that’s it! Over to you, beauty town.

What questions do you have around creating killer headlines? 

xo, E

WHAT A BRAND MESSAGE IS (AND WHY YOU SHOULD GIVE A YOU-KNOW-WHAT)

If you’ve been in online business a hot second, I know you’ve heard the term “brand message” or “core message.”

I also know your eyes glaze over when you hear it.

I understand. It’s not the sexiest term, and I’m sure there are tons of other “business-building” things you’d rather spend your time on (ahem, Periscope, vision boards, Facebook groups – does scrolling through Instagram count?…).

But I’d like to re-introduce you to the idea of messaging because the truth is, babes, your message is INSANELY important.

Now, here’s how I like to think about it: Remember when you were 13 and trying to dip out the front door in a sparkly tube top and low-cut denim shorts (and butterfly clips in your hair, natch) and your dad/mom/grandma would catch you and snarkily say something like, “Do you know what message you’re sending the boys with that outfit?” (Just me? Okay, then…)

Anyway, dad/mom/grandma was right: What you put out into the world sends a certain message, whether you mean to or not.

And it doesn’t just happen IRL. It also happens online – every time you write a blog, put up a piece of sales copy or post on Facebook.

Aaaaand until you get clear on who you are and what you actually want to say, you might be telling the world something totally confusing, off-base or downright boring. (And we can’t have that, now can we?)

So, let’s talk messaging in business.

Your message is simply a statement that drives everything you create, talk about or write about in your business.

And not-so-simply? It’s a statement that defines what you do, who you do it for, what they get out of it (aka the “transformation” you provide) and WHY you do it.

(If you just read that line like, “Ugh, transformation, really?” I understand. I know this can be a real hang-up for lots of businesses – especially product-based businesses – but trust me, every single business provides a transformation. For example, if you sell ooey gooey, gourmet caramels, you might take your customer from bored and hungry and totally over all those other basic sweets, to feeling unique, different and of course, satisfied in the stomach. See?)

A solid brand message is important because it forces you to GET SPECIFIC about what you do, who you do it for and why the hell it all matters.

Plus it makes life (and biz) a helluva lot easier.

Once you’ve mapped out your core message, you’ll notice that…

: Content ideas crop up everywhere (and posts practically write themselves)
: You feel WAY more confident promoting your products + services
: You (finally) know how to talk about what you do in a unique way that doesn’t bore people to tears

But HOW do you discover your message? Sit tight, sweets. 😉

You’ve probably seen this formula for defining your message:
I’m a [insert what you do here] who helps [insert brief description of your dream client here] to [insert the main benefit you provide here].

BUT I BELIEVE THERE’S SOMETHING *HUGE* MISSING FROM THAT FORMULA:
Why do you do what you do?

If you want to create a truly unique (and true-to-you) message, you HAVE to articulate your reason for pursuing this particular path.

So here’s how I think this formula should ACTUALLY read: I’m a [insert what you do here] who helps [insert brief description of your dream client here] to [insert the main benefit you provide here]….because I believe [whatever you believe – your WHY].

And THIS is where it’s get juicy. Because NO two people have exactly the same backstory, life history, values or beliefs…every WHY is different.

Because here’s the deal: ANYBODY can be a writer, designer, life coach or stylist. And ANYBODY can work with women business owners, or millennials, or stay-at-home moms. And yes, ANYBODY can help your clients get similar results.

But what they CAN’T do – and the ONE THING that will set YOU apart from alllll the other entrepreneur crayons in the box – is WHY you do it.

What you BELIEVE IN is what makes your message unique.

Once you nail down WHAT YOU BELIEVE IN….that’s when the real magic happens especially in the content department. 

When you nail your message (or today’s iteration of your message – because this will evolve), you’ll NEVER have to question whether a piece of content makes sense for your business EVAH again.

All you’ll have to do is (silently, unless you want people staring) ask yourself, “Is this piece of content I’m about to create aligned with my message?”

Which means:
Can you connect what you’re about to write (or tweet, or periscope) back to what you do, who you do it for, a benefit of working with you or WHY you do what you do?

This gives you the freedom to play around in your current biz – without seeming like a total wishy-washy weirdo. (For example, I just saw one of my fave biz mentors is running a workshop on how she uses essential oils to fuel her business. Because she often talks about rituals and creating ease and space in your business, this actually makes total sense even though essential oils literally have NOTHING to do with business when you first think about it. See what I’m saying?)

Pretty sweet, right?

Sooo, let’s turn it over to you. If coming up with your message has become the bane of your existence, here are the four MAGICAL questions you need to answer right now:

  1. What do you do? (Create luxury soap? Write about pages? “Play” matchmaker?)
  2. Who do you help – specifically? (Busy and nearly-burnt-out 20-somethings? Yoga studio owners? Self-employed business peeps?)
  3. What transformation do you provide (or, what is the juiciest benefit of working with you)? (A moment of pleasure and peace amidst the chaos of day-to-day millennial life? Clearly articulate their studio’s unique vision? Find life partners who won’t get jealous over their laptops?)
  4. And why the hell do you do it? What do you believe in that drives your desire to do this particular thing? (This is the part I can’t really give an example because it’s SO personal.)

Voila! You now have a simple business message to refer to as you create content for your business.

Wanna see the finished product? Here’s mine: “I’m a message mentor + copywriter who helps young, creative womenpreneurs find their unique voice, own their message + write content that connects + converts so they start making real cash from their craft because I believe self-expression is THE KEY to a well-lived life.” (Whew!)

Now, I know that might not sound like anything revolutionary – and yours might not either.

But I want you to know that’s okay.

The message you can create using this formula IS NOT meant for client-facing copy (unless it’s freakishly good – in which case, by all means). It’s simply a blueprint for you to use on the backend to keep you focused as you create content for your business.

What should you do now? Write your message on a Post It, in a Google Doc or in your Evernote and refer to it regularly.

DON’T just keep it in the back pocket of your Paige jeans (metaphorically that is).

Make it a part of your content creation process to review this message (and tweak or refine it when the time comes) to keep you aligned…and watch business get THAT much easier. 😉

YOUR TURN, BEAUTYTOWN! //

1. Draft your message using the formula and questions above.
2. Post it in the comments for feedback from moi, totally gratis. 😉

xo, E

P.S. Are you still stuck? No worries, love. I’m thisclose to revealing a super cool thing to my list about how we can work together to infuse your message into every piece of your content. Hop on it so you don’t miss out:

SUCK at setting goals? Try this…

3Sooo, as I’m writing this it’s officially 25 days into 2016. Is it just me, or does that seem totally crazy? It feels like just yesterday I was clinking my champagne glass against the (shot) glass of my one of my oldest friends to toast the new year. But alas, time flies when you’re doing remarkable work in the world. 😉

Anywho, I wanted to share a little message with you, because honestly, there’s been SO much chatter about goals! and milestones! and resolutions! and THIS YEAR IS GONNA BE YOUR YEAR!

But honestly, when it came to setting my goals for 2016…well, I just, uh, didn’t.

I don’t have an (official) income goal.
I don’t know (exactly) which products + services I’m going to launch this year.
And hell if I know when I’m actually taking a (beautiful, preferable tropical) vacation.

This isn’t really TOO crazy for me. I often like to leave a little wiggle room in my “list of goals” anyway, for unexpected surprises, opportunities + cash flow. BUT totally not setting any real tangible goals yet? It feels a little scary.

Or it would, if I hadn’t done something that might be even more beneficial for me. (Girl can’t just head out into the world without ANY plan for world domination, now can she?)

Instead of goals, I’ve decided to choose a few guiding principles – words, if you will – to nudge me along this year, and circle back to anytime I’m wondering, “Should I book this client/write this article/say yes to this invite/buy this pair of shoes?”

And I wanted to share this concept – and my specific principles just for #inspo – with you in case you, too, are a bit of a “fly-by-the-seat-of-your-sevens” kinda gal. 🙂

So what words/principles did I pick to propel me this year?

Word 1: SIMPLIFY. 
Okay, sooo I admittedly got a bit obsessed with the whole minimalism thing at the end of 2015 (as evidenced by my Pinterest boards…), after eating up Greg McKeown’s book, Essentialism in one sitting. I’m no stranger to minimalism, but what I LOVED about Greg’s book is that he doesn’t just focus on material things (we’ve ALL read, The Magic Art of Tidying Up by now, haven’t we?), but rather on simplifying our commitments. He asks all of us to answer the question,”What do you REALLY want more time for in your life?” Seriously though: What DO you? And please, don’t feel guilty if what you really crave isn’t a six figure business or a fat client docket. Maybe (like me), you want more flow + ease in your days. Maybe you want LESS commitments to LESS people but MORE QUALITY inside those commitments. Call me biased, but I honestly think in this day + age of “MORE AND BETTER AND FASTER, PLEASE!” simplifying is a great guiding word for pretty much anybody.

How I’m Practicing “Simplifying” in 2016: Less yes’s, more let-me-think-about-it’s (and actually thinking about it). Less juggling clients, and more hyper-focusing on 1-2 at a time. 

Word 2: LOVE.
To be totally honest with you, I’m slowly sashaying my way into my third year in business and just now understanding the true value of loving up whoever is around to be loved up in business. (Guess I’m not quite as gifted as my elementary school teachers thought. 😉 ) For real though: I’m an introvert and I have social anxiety disorder (and trust you’ll be hearing a lot more from me this year on how I’ve maybe not-so-gracefully handled this over the years), so spending heaps of time around/talking to others has NEVER been my thing. I prefer small, intimate groups and cozy little chats with 1 or 2 people over loud, roaring parties any day. But what I didn’t realize my first few years of business was HOW DANG TRUE the old adage about how 80% of your business will come from 20% of your people is. I went into business thinking I didn’t want anybody to “own” me or my time ever again, but the truth is, maintaining ongoing (positive!) relationships is SO necessary. If this is an area you struggle with (professionally or personally), it’s WORTH looking into + focusing on. Don’t be like me and miss out on some wonderful opportunities for friendship and collaboration because you don’t put in the effort to get to know your colleagues + clients.

How I’m Practicing “Love” In 2016: Reaching out instead of shutting down when things go bonkers. Attempting to mend old, burnt bridges with a whole lotta love. Reading up on intimacy issues, and anxiety issues, and doing my best to heal all of the above. Actively seeking out (and contacting) people I admire. Oh, and focusing way more on this blog than reaching out to randos on whatever social media platform is the new craze this week. 😉 

Word 3: AUTOMATE.
My last guiding word of the year is automate, and while that sounds kinda, um, tech-y, it’s actually a really fascinating thing. I’ve been learning a LOT about sales funnels lately, which sound SO un-sexy, but turns out they’re actually just super fun (and simple) ways to automate your sales processes. Okay, that still doesn’t sound sexy, but the things sales funnels can do for you? TOTALLY SEXY. I’m talking: Less time on “discovery calls” that don’t pan out. Less feast or famine and freaking out over where the next dollar’s coming from. And more consistent leads and prospects in your (gorgeous, mahogany, French) doors. 🙂 Who doesn’t want all that?

How I’m Practicing Automation in 2016: Implementing several sexy sales funnels in my own business to help people get to know me better. (I’m also working on a service to help you write the copy to do the same!) Getting my finances automated (finally!) – I’m talking automatically paying bills and saving for all sorts of adventures (I’m already using a fun little program called Digit that squirrels away tiny pockets of money you’ll never even miss – so rad!). And finally, having my VA handle pretty much any + everything I can’t or don’t want to. It’s not entirely automatic, but I’d love to know that I can take that tropical vacation this year and my business won’t totally shutdown because of it. 🙂

And that’s it, loves! Three big ass words to guide me (and my decision-making) for all of 2016. BOOM.

Moral of my story? Don’t sweat it if you’re still unsure what your goals should be for 2016. You can always tear a page out of my playbook and try to think in terms of guiding principles for the year, and make your goals from there.

To a much simpler, automated + relationship-filled new year…if that’s what you’re into. 😉

 

E

P.S. If you do something similar, I’d love to hear what your guiding words are. Just leave a comment + let me know. 🙂

P.P.S. Speaking of what’s gonna happen in 2016, I was recently featured in a fun article about marketing predictions for 2016 alongside some kick ass entrepreneurs like Kimra Luna + Denise Duffield-Thomas. You can check out what I and 32 other luminaries had to say about the future of marketing right here. (Spoiler alert: It’s lookin’ pretty bright!)

Don’t Be a Knockoff Brand (aka the dangers of premium pricing)

chargepremiumprices

LET ME JUST OPEN WITH THIS: I LOVE premium things.

I’m that girl. You know, the one who will gleefully dole out $30 a pop for a tube of Dior mascara. The girl who won’t bat a (Dior-coated) eyelash droppin’ a couple hundo on a hot Kate Spade bag. And the girl who will always – well, almost always – say, “Top shelf, please.”

I think premium is delicious. Premium makes me feel, well, like a freakin’ badass. And I swear, premium makes me a better human being because when I’m rocking (or experiencing) something premium, I’m happier, more confident and overall, more “together.” And when I feel that way? I create bigger and better stuff…leading to more money….leading to more premium experiences. It’s an awesome spiral, really.

But premium also comes with a price…and I don’t just mean the one on the tag.

There’s a lotta chatter in the online sphere (especially for women entrepreneurs) about “charging what you’re worth” and “busting your money blocks” and really GOING FOR it in the price department. Now, don’t get it twisted: I believe there’s a lot of merit to this concept. I don’t think anybody should work for pennies. HELL to the NO.

I believe in abundance and that the universe will always deliver (on a silver platter) what we need, no matter what.

But I still don’t think that every. single. business. should charge premium prices.

QUICK STORY:
When I raised my prices a few months back, some MAJOR shifts happened in my business. Shifts I wasn’t expecting (it was “only” a $200 price raise, after all) and shifts that frankly, I wasn’t prepared for.

And so what happened after? Was kiiiinda sucky.

I raised my prices, but I didn’t “raise” anything else. I was now charging people MORE, but I was still running my business at the same frenetic pace. I was still overbooking and over-promising. I was still doling out half-assed assignments to my (sweet and patient) VA without having a clear client management structure in place. I was still binging on The Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt to numb out the fact that I was ALWAYS. BEHIND.

Obvs, I dove into every fresh client relationship with the very best intentions, like I always do. But I was drowning in work (and let’s be real, wine) and up to my neck in responsibilities (which doesn’t sound like a lot considering I’m only 4’10″…but I promise, IT WAS).

And not in just any work and responsibilities – but in work that was supposed to be premium, for clients who were PAYING premium.

And let me tell you:

PREMIUM CLIENTS EXPECT PREMIUM RESULTS.

The ladies who are cool with shelling out $1299 on a website are NOT the same ladies barraging through the dollar bin at Target, or hitting up T.J. Maxx over Nordstrom’s.

Unfortch, because this was my first time dabbling in premium pricing…I had NO idea what I was in for.

My (more) premium prices not only put more pressure on me as a writer to deliver, THEY also SIGNIFICANTLY raised the stakes for my clients, too.

In my case, this didn’t just meaning delivering on-point copy. It meant providing an amazing experience from beginning to end.

And given the sheer volume of clients I was trying to serve at the time, I simply wasn’t able to do that last bit to the best of my ability. Sure, the final product was delicious and luscious and awesome-as-always – but the journey there was bumpy and jagged and awkward. (Luckily, I’ve sparkled up my act quite a bit since then, although I know there’s always more room for improvement.)

But here’s what I want you to know, so you can avoid doing what I did:

Premium pricing comes with its own unique set of challenges – and it’s not a decision to be taken likely.

Business coaches who tell you to charge premium know what they’re talking about. But a lot of them are they are leaving out a significant part of the conversation: Raising your prices might mean MAJOR CHANGES in both the way your business operates and the way your clients perceive you – and what they expect from you.

If you want people to make a big investment in you and avoid looking like a knockoff brand, you’ve gotta consider A FEW  KEY THINGS:

:: DO YOU HAVE A STELLAR SERVICE/OFFER TO BACK UP YOUR PRICE? // Is your offer something your clients actually want? (Have you surveyed them? No? Get on it, girl!)
:: ARE YOU PREPARED TO UPGRADE YOUR CLIENT EXPERIENCE (INCLUDING SETTING UP ELEGANT SYSTEMS AND/OR HIRING A VA) SO YOUR CUSTOMERS FEEL TAKEN CARE OF FROM START-TO-FINISH? //  Are you willing to sit down and evaluate your processes and systems and shell out that cash to uplevel them if necessary?
:: ARE YOU CONFIDENT YOU/YOUR PRODUCT CAN PRODUCE HIGH-QUALITY RESULTS FOR YOUR CLIENTS? // If you’re a service-based biz owner, do you actually have the experience and acumen and smarts to charge what you’re charging? Are you creating original products and services? Are you actually doing what YOU are MEANT TO BE DOING in this world? 
:: LAST BUT NOT LEAST; DO YOU ACTUALLY WANT TO BE A PREMIUM BRAND FOR THE LONG HAUL? // 
Do your prices “feel” right – or are you being influenced by outside sources (like biz coaches, gurus in your space and/or a lust for a new pair of Manolos)? And are you willing to give up what you might need to give up  – be it time, money, resources – in order to get what you want (i.e. your position as a premium brand)?

If you can answer all the above questions honestly, you’ll know IMMEDIATELY whether premium prices are right for you and your business. If they are – hell yes! And if not? I want you to know it is OK to NOT charge premium prices at all – or to wait until you’re ready. You can still make a LOVELY living selling your stuff at affordable prices. Businesses are out there doing it everyday.

 In short, this is my lesson: If you can’t or don’t want to deliver Gucci quality, don’t charge Gucci prices.

‘Cause – don’t act like you don’t know – nobody likes a knockoff. 🙂

 

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Want More Dream(y) Clients? Stop Worrying About Alienating People. . . and Start Worrying About THIS.

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The number one fear I hear from my clients goes summin’ like this: “But I don’t want to alienate anybody!”

I can’t tell you how many times I’ve heard that excuse when people sit down to write, in reference to things like…

: Adding your fave slang word to your copy to make it more fun – because you don’t know if your clients will “resonate” with the term “hella”

: Using a super specific example that’s totally ON POINT– because it references children and you don’t want to “put off” your childless prospects

: Concocting a beeeeautiful metaphor that might not make 100% sense to somebody who isn’t also a rabid Kardashians fan

Here’s the thing though (and if you’ve been studying copywriting for any amount of time, you’ve heard it before): When you speak to everybody, you speak to nobody.

You’re NEVER going to make everybody happy with your copy – whether you use corporate jargon or Urban Dictionary.com-approved slang.

You’re NEVER going to appeal to every single person out there who might need your stuff.

And you’re NEVER going to make more sales if you don’t drop the fear of getting specific like it’s hot.

What you need to worry about instead is focusing on speaking to that one person who not only needs what you have – but GETS YOU, too. 

The one who will literally LOL that you said “hella” on a sales page, who will TOTALLY get that reference to sippy cups and will nod her head in agreement when you write an entire blog post about what all business owners can learn about Kim Kardashian’s rise to fame (sex tape scandal included).

She’s out there, but you’ll never know it unless you get over your fear of being who you really are on your website.

Just try it and see.

 

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12 Days of Systems Challenge: Manage Your Content Creation Like a Girl Boss

[This post is part of the 12 Days of Systems Challenge brought to you by Val Geisler of aspire&grow. If you want to get a handle on your systems and processes in 2015, get signed up for Systems Finishing School today. If you’re just getting started, scope out Brittany’s post from yesterday.]

Here’s a not-so-shocker for ya: copywriters write a lot.

I’m talking: (Brilliant) blog posts. Pristinely polished client work. Cute social media snippets. And (sometimes, if I’ve consumed a lot of caffeine), the occasional newsletter or sales email. (Seriously guys, if you could see my RescueTime summary + witness yourself just how much time I spend creating content, you might cry. Ugly style.)

Now don’t get me wrong. I loooove writing (obvs). That’s why I have, you know, decided to make it my livelihood.

BUT.

(Yep, that’s one BIG but, and I cannot lie.)

The fact that my day-to-day requires soooo much content creation means I’ve had to get really intentional and serious about how I organize my content ideas AND structure my time so I can get it all done (without wanting to rip my hair out). (I paid a lot for this hyper-blonde ‘do.)

Enter, Trello and Google Calendar.

Okay, so here’s the thing: As a copywriter, I’m equally left- and right-brained, so any system I follow in my biz has to work for both my super logical, organized side and my creative-go-with-the-flow side. And for this particular system, I also needed a way to track myriad content types – my client projects, my blog posts and the other premium content I create (e-books, worksheets, you name it) – and their deadlines.

I’ve experimented with tons of different systems for content creation (I’m a total app junkie – kinda like an adrenaline junkie but way dorkier. I’ll try anything once!), but I’ve never found one “thing” that could “do it all.”

Luckily, I’m hella resourceful and over time, I’ve been able to create and refine a system that works juuuust perfectly for me.

Today, I’m going to peel back the curtain + share the self-created system I use to maintain my hectic content creation schedule, complete with action steps you can take to create your own. 

I know not everyone’s business requires creating content for clients and your own biz, but most (if not all) online entrepreneurs put together some kind of content on the regular, so I think everybody can glean something from this. (And BTW, content is totally not limited to blogs or client work. It can really mean anything from vlogs to social media posts – whatever your unique business requires.)

Ready for a peek at how I wrangle my content creation with trello and google calendar?

First of all, I keep my editorial calendar on Trello. If you don’t know about/haven’t tried Trello, oooh girl, you’re in for a treat! This visually appealing little app is amazing – and it’s my absolute favorite way to keep track of content I’m creating for my own business.

Here’s how it works: Trello’s entire interface is made up of various “Boards.” You can create a fresh Board for whatever project you’re working on. And then, within each board, you create various Lists with “Cards” (essentially, To Do’s/Tasks) underneath each list. Each “Card” can then include things like a due date, a colored “label” and other information, such as links to Google Drive (if that’s where you happen to draft your blog posts, for example).

Here’s what my Content Creation Editorial Calendar Board looks like behind-the-scenes:

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In case you can’t see the image or it’s not clear, I have the following lists on my board:

  • Blog Post Writing – This list includes posts I’m currently writing. (Which, at the moment, is this one.)
  • Guest Post Writing – Same idea as the first category, except for guest posts
  • Coming Up – This list is reserved for blog ideas that I know I want to write in the next month. (I try to blog twice a month, so I usually keep this list topped up with at least two ideas ready-to-roll.)
  • Premium Content – Similar to “Coming Up,” this is where I list any premium content I want to create over the next month.
  • Blog Ideas – This is the end-all, be-all of my blog idea collection. I think it’s super important to keep all of your ideas in one place. And thanks to Trello’s easy drag-n-drop, I can arrange them in any way that makes sense to me. (Higher priority posts on top, lower priority posts on bottom, lumped by category – you name it!)
  • Premium Content Ideas (not pictured) – This list didn’t make the shot, but this is my master list for premium content. I brain dump everything here I want to create – even if I’m not sure if I’ll ever get to it.

Here’s why I love Trello for my ed calendar and you should, too:

  • Prettiness: It’s nice to look at. (And that makes my right brain all kindsa happy.)
  • Drag-and-Drop Feature: One of the main reasons I got into biz was to have more freedom in how I work, so I love that you can easily drag “Cards”from list to list. If I decide I don’t want to write a particular blog post that month, I can send it back to the “Ideas” List and pull another one into the “Coming Soon” list. No biggie!
  • Due Dates + Labels: Each “Card” (or piece of content) can include Notes, Due Dates and Labels that easily tell you where you are in the process for each project. (I often use colored labels like, “Draft,” “Ready to Publish,” etc.)
  • Calendar feature: Wanna see all your blog post due dates in one spot? Trello’s “Monthly View” allows you to see your entire month at-a-glance – which is awesome if you need that visual. (I know I do!) You can also drag-and-drop them and move them around to suit your fancy.

Action Step 1: Create An Editorial Calendar on Trello

  • Sign up for a free account over at Trello.com. It should take like, 30 seconds.
  • Create a new board called “Editorial Calendar” (or whatever you like!)
  • Create lists for each category of content you create in your business. Feel free to swipe my lists above as a starting point. You might also want to add categories like: Vlog Outlines, Promotional Emails/Newsletters, etc.
  • Create appropriate cards under each list to house your tasks and ideas for that category.
  • Color code your cards as applicable – Maybe a Draft post is blue, and a Ready-to-Schedule post is red. You get the idea.
  • Watch your life transform. (And save yourself some serious stress!)

Now this is where it gets fun: I also have an “ideal schedule” set up in Google Calendar that allows me to “insert” items from my Editorial Calendar onto my actual calendar so that I, you know, actually get them done. Honestly guys, I keep everything in my Google Calendar – mani/pedis and business meetings alike. It’s easiest for me to not compartmentalize things and I feel like keeping alla my “To Do’s” In one place gives me a better sense of the overall picture of my life – so I know when I’m overbooking or stretching myself too thin.

Here’s a look at my ideal schedule, if you’re curious:

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My ideal schedule is the same every week and has “chunks” of time blocked off for specific must-do activities in my business – all content creation included. I update this bad boy every Sunday with the specific projects I need to work on that week. When I’m ready to do this, I’ll pop open both Trello and Google Calendar and decide when I’m going to write each piece of content. Usually this means pulling 1 blog post idea and 1 premium content idea into that week’s schedule.

For example:  The “Share Daily Message” and “Content Creation + Blog Posts” time slots are specifically for working on items from my Editorial Calendar. On Sunday, I’ll check whatever is in the “Coming Up” column and insert the name of that blog post into the Event Name for that day (i.e., “Content Creation + Blog Posts” becomes “Blog Post: 5 Sexy Sales Page Strategies” or “Content Creation: Newsletter”). I don’t include the due dates for these posts on my Google Calendar – that’s what Trello’s calendar is for. “Client Work” is filled in (usually weeks in advance) with the name of the particular client(s) I’m working with that week.

I love this because it means that at any point during the week, I can just glance at my Google Calendar to see everything I need to create that day.

But the best part for me – once again – is Google Calendar’s ability to drag-n-drop different events. This makes swapping things around easy breezy. If I decide I don’t feel like writing that blog post on Tuesday, I can easily drag it over to Friday and trade spots with Friday’s Client Work. Ta-da!

Action Step 2: Schedule Content Creation Time in Google Calendar

  • Create an Ideal Schedule: I created mine with the help of my business mentor and it’s fucking fabulous. We took into account my energy levels and natural creative ebbs and flows. Of course, since this is an “ideal” schedule, it changes some weeks, depending on what is actually going on in my business, but I start with this baseline schedule each week. (This could probably be a post of its own, so don’t fret if it feels overwhelming. Start with a general outline and you can work it out organically from there.)
  • Move items from your Editorial Calendar to your Google Calendar each week: I’ve dedicated Sunday afternoons to scheduling social media and creating my content schedule for the following week.
  • Revel in the flexibility. Like I said, you can also move items around on Google Calendar simply by clicking and dragging. If I decide to move tasks, I’ll keep the amount of hours allotted the same so everything still gets done – just not necessarily during it’s “ideal schedule” time slot.

Will this work for everybody?

I think the thing about any “system” is that they must be personal. There’s no one tool or app that will work flawlessly for every business model or every business owner’s personality. But I do think that experimenting with a system like this and then making tweaks over time to make it your own is a wonderful place to start!

Your Turn! //

Okay ladies, I’ve shared my secret content creation system and now I’m turning it over to you. Do you have a particular system, tool or app you use to manage the content you create for your business? Do us all a solid and share your systems in the comments! If not, go ahead + give this one a try and tell us about your experiences. Curious minds wanna know!

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How to get clear on your message in one suuuuuper simple step

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Let me be reeeeallly honest with you ladies: Consistency has always been rough for me.

Sure, I can be consistently 30 minutes early for everything, always. Or consistently choosing the wrong guy (workin’ on it!). Or, y’know, consistently being um, inconsistent. (Case-in-point: This blog hasn’t been updated in over a month…even though there are many [many, maaaaany] draft posts that are almost-kinda-sorta-but-only-really-just-halfway-there.) I’m simply more of a spontaneous, write-when-inspiration-hits-me kinda girl…and I’ve (mostly) come to terms with my off-the-cuff nature.

Unfortunately? Consistency is hella important to online business. Not in the rigid, must-blog-every-week-or-I-will-totally-end-up-broke-and-alone-and-existing-on-mac-n-cheese or I-only-send-my-newsletters-on-Tuesdays-because-some-guru-said-so kinda way, but in the my-brand-is-cohesive-and-people-know-what-the-heck-I-stand-for kinda way.

And double unfortunately? I’m not fantastic at either of those. (Cue the tiny violin.)

But I’m not here to talk about my flaws (that just aint a good look), but rather to clue you in on a little bit of advice that I heard from a mentor recently that has totally and radically changed the way I think about consistency, my message and having a killer brand. 🙂

Ya’ll ready for this?

Kat Loterzo recently shared in one of her many amazing business trainings this idea that there are very few things you must do everyday in your business. Like, just two, actually.

And my favorite of those two? You MUST share your message everyday. Like 7/365, yo.

While anything that requires a daily effort terrifies my little panties off, what’s great about this idea is that this truly doesn’t haven’t to be anything major.

It doesn’t necessarily mean writing a 500+ word blog post all about why you are so head-over-heels obsessed with what you do and how it’s going to change the planet (although it can).
It doesn’t mean creating a new e-course every week and hoping it’ll sell out.

Instead, it really just means sharing (without fear) whatever juicy morsel you’ve been marinatin’ in your brain (and heart) that day about what you believe about life + the world (and of course, somehow tie that back into your business).

This can be a standalone sentiment on your biz’s Facebook page. Or a delectable comment in a Facebook group or forum. Or even just a loving note to one of your prospects.

The medium doesn’t matter. It’s the sharing that counts.

And the reason I love this yummy bit of advice is twofold:

1.) It makes sure you’re putting yourself out there for prospects to see – every single day. Even in a teeny, tiny way.
2.) It forces you to refine your message. To get super, sparkling clear on what it is you truly stand for. To whittle down your ideas. To take a stand. To make a statement (that may or may not be as outrageous as the one hanging around your neck).

I’m especially in love with that second part. In fact, one of the draft posts I have saved (which may or may not make it’s debut on the Interwebz – I’m still undecided) talked about how to find your message by asking yourself specific questions. Okay, one specific question.

Which is awesome. And a fabulous way to get in touch with your message to begin with.

But when I heard Kat speak about the daily message-sharing, it hit me that really…you can ask yourself all the profound questions in the world, but if you don’t start trying to articulate the answers in a way that makes sense to you and connects with your potential clients, it won’t mean squat.

The only way we ever truly learn or change or evolve is through action, and sharing your message everyday is probably one of the most powerful actions you can take to figure out what the hell you truly stand for and what makes you different.

ENTER, THE 14-DAY MESSAGE MAKEOVER CHALLENGE.

Yes, I was sooo inspired by Kat’s advice that I decided to create an easy, breezy little challenge for you guys. I’m hereby declaring that for the next 14 days, I will unabashedly share my message in one form or another, on the Internet, where others can see. (This counts as day one, BTW.)

I’m calling it the 14-Day Message Makeover Challenge. I’m not doing any sort of fancy email list or Facebook group (for realz – I can barely keep up with that ish as it is), but I do want to hear from you + find out if you’re game.

Aaaand, if you’re anything like me, I know you absolutely MUST have a way to keep track of this or it won’t happen. You can go ahead + click here to pick up a cute lil’ spreadsheet I created to help you track your progress during the challenge. Just make sure you create a copy for yourself!

So, if getting clear on your message is important to you (and yasss, it should be) + you’d like to officially pledge to share your message for the next two weeks, simply pop a comment below + let us know who you are, what you do + what you believe your message is right now. I’ll check back in with you in 14 days!

Over to You, Beautytown!

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P.S. The 14-Day Message Makeover Challenge starts….NOW! It’s go time, ladies. I can’t wait to hear all about your brilliant businesses! (And don’t forget to download your worksheet here!)

P.P.S. If you’d like me to personally help you nail down your business message (in sexy, seductive syntax), check out Mini Message Makeover.

#RealTalk Tuesday: Why “What You Do” Doesn’t Matter

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A lot of business owners freak out about what to offer.

They go back-n-forth for months over whether their coaching packages should include four sessions or (gasp!) five.

They have minor heart palpitations over whether to offer health coaching to women one-on-one or cook up meal plans for the masses. (Or, y’know, write entire websites for clients or just help them discover what they should write about. [Just me?])

They journal, meditate, pray to whomever and eat loads of dark chocolate, pondering if it makes more sense to serve up exclusive, done-for-you services or focus on creating some crazy-pants signature program they can run like twice a year.

And they might even wake up in the middle of the night for years ’cause they’re so damn multi-passionate they can’t decide whether they should focus their business on their obsession with social media, their obsession with health or their obsession with fashion.

Uggghhh. Even writing all that down is frustrating and annoying and gives me a total almost-migraine.

The good news? If that sounds like you (or someone you know *ahem* your bizbesties *ahem*), I’m about to end that struggle for you, forever.

Here’s a lil’ #realtalk for ya (which might actually come as a relief):
What you “do” doesn’t matter!

Okay. Lemme pause just a sec. OBVS what you do matters. That’s why I encourage you to do it and spend hours upon hours of my time helping you bring these brilliant little businesses into the world.

By “doesn’t matter,” what I really mean is that the modality that you use to provide your clients with transformation – whether that’s Reiki, hot yoga or style coaching – is not the important part.

The only thing that truly (madly, deeply) matters is that your product/service gets your clients results. Your only job is to create (and offer) SOMETHING that enables your dream(y) clients to BE, DO, FEEL, HAVE something better.

And in the end, it doesn’t matter how you get your peeps those results.

This is fab, because it means that if at different points in your business, different things start to strike your little fancy – that’s okay.

Explore them. Offer something totally wacky and original and something nobody else has ever thought about before.

Mash up 800 of your silliest interests into one premium offer. Pivot in a totally fresh direction – offer health coaching. Offer EFT sessions. Offer fucking online yoga classes.

As long as it relates to your unique message, is hella fun for you and helps people get what you want to give them,  you can “DO” whatever. Because as long as you get your clients what they want – the dream body (read: confidence), the clutter-free closet (read: empowerment), the zillion Twitter followers (read: belonging and influence) – you’ve done your job.

So get creative with it. Get wild. Quit talking yourself out of offering what you TRULY want to.

Cause for real, it doesn’t matter anyway…at least not enough to keep you up at night. 🙂

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P.S. If you are reeeeallly bumping up against some major resistance trying to come up with an offer (and get the sales copy out into the world so peeps can actually buy it), you might wanna check out my new BETA service, Red Carpet Ready. I’ll help you create your offer based on who you are and how you work best and then bang out all your launch copy. You don’t have to do a thing but show up and show me who you are. Click here and learn more and you can nab that BETA price, too.

How I Know You’re Wildly Creative (Even if You Feel Like a Total Poser Sometimes)

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I’m not gonna lie, I’m not exactly what you’d call a fashionista.

Sometimes I wear clothes that are totally wrong for my shape. Sometimes I stay in sweatpants for two days straight. Sometimes I buy the cheapest thing off the sale rack just ’cause.

Sometimes I even put on leggings and try to pass them off as actual pants.

But the thing is, I looooove clothes.

I love reading fashion blogs and sipping chai tea while digging into WhoWhatWear. I love trying on outfit after outfit on Friday night (before ultimately settling on my usual jeans and tee combo, let’s be honest).

There was a time, however, that I tried really hard NOT to be into fashion. I hung out with a ridiculously angsty group of kids in high school, who wanted nothing to do with anything mainstream or popular.

And although we totally decked ourselves out in ridiculous amounts of eyeliner and outfits we meticulously curated from Hot Topic, we were still supposed to act like we didn’t care about something as “superficial” as fashion.

Stupid, right? Except not so much.

There are still a ton of people I know who think that things like perfecting your hairstyle and cruising through the mall for a pair of pumps that are “just right” is nothing but a bunch of phooey. (Except I don’t think I hang out with anyone who would actually say the word “phooey” – unless you count my mom.)

But here’s the thing:

Fashion is fucking art, people.

“One should either be a work of art, or wear a work of art.”

― Oscar Wilde

Style is hardly superficial, and here’s why:
Style is really another way to say “creativity.”
And creativity is (I believe) THE KEY to a life well-lived.

Whether you’re laboring over presenting a new dinner dish to your beau so it looks as good as it smells or working on your business or just choosing the most complementary blouse with your pencil skirt (okay, or tee shirt with your designer jeans), it’s really all the same thing.

All of it requires you to be creative.

I get it, though. As ladies who launch (read: lady biz owners), it’s easy to feel like we’re just NOT creative sometimes. It’s easy to feel like our well has all but dried up and we’ll never come up with a good, original idea ever again.

Honestly though, this is usually a result of looking outside of ourselves for our creativity. We can become so absorbed in our industries; stalking the latest gurus and trying so hard to learn the latest strategies, that we start to feel like we don’t have anything original of our own to share.

Or worse, you THINK you’ve come up with something amazing only to realize your competitor JUST launched that VERY SAME THING like, a day earlier than you.

Happens to me a-freaking-lot.

And the worst part of that is, when we’re starting to feel creatively deprived, we think that forcing ourselves to plop down in front of our MacBooks and BE CREATIVE, DAMNIT! will help.

We think that if we just force ourselves to focus ONLY on business for the next few days/hours/weeks/months, it’s somehow going to make us feel all creatively full, energized and awesome.

But seriously babe, we are SO wrong.

Here’s what I think:
You are innately creative.

Everything you do – every choice you make – is made up by you. Your entire reality stems from your creativity and your vision for what is possible in this life.

Seriously though. Next time you feel like a totally unoriginal businesswoman who’s never gonna get anywhere because all the good ideas are taken and FUCK you just can’t seem to come up with ANYTHING to write/speak/sell, take a look around you.

Think about the adorable crop-top-and-high-waisted-skirt ensemble you whipped up for that new client last week.
Or that delicious dinner recipe you pulled from Pinterest, where the presentation bordered on down right sexy.
Or how all your friends say your living room looks like something straight from Houzz.

THAT is creativity.

Creativity is NOT confined to what you create inside your computer.

And if you’re having a shitty time figuring out how to express yourself online, I want you to STAHP IT. Just for a moment, and go make something with those perfectly-manicured mitts of yours instead.

Remind yourself that creativity is your damn BIRTH RIGHT and you have ALL THE ABILITY to summon more of it into your life.

Or, you know, just look at your living room.

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