Spoiler alert! Nobody really becomes successful following the rules.
Now, don’t get me wrong. I’m a mega fan of templates. I think certain business ‘scripts’ – a launch plan, a pre-determined sales page structure – work because humans are inherently wired the same.
But you know what the most successful people do? They flip those scripts. They take those templates and they do something wacky or totally unexpected with them.
They don’t let themselves feel inhibited by all the “rules” out there. Instead, they use what other people have already created – the stilleto-steps the others have already walked – as a starting point. And then they bend the “rules” like the badasses they are to fit their own personality/work style/creativity. They know they’ll never get where they wanna be by following a path somebody else has already created, because that well-worn path was somebody else’s destiny, not their own.
This applies to every part of your business you might use a “template” for – including blogs + other content you create.
The true movers + shakers don’t soak up + then regurgitate information from some (or a few) gurus – over + over + over again. (Srsly though, aren’t we all sooooo sick of reading the same type of shit in the business world, and really every other industry, too? I am!)
True movers + shakers look inside first, and ask themselves what really needs to be shared – and then share only that.
So if you want to achieve the sky-high level of success of your fave online girlcrush? You gotta’ do what they do – and I don’t mean shelling out fistfuls of cash for their latest blueprint + robotically going through the motions, crossing your fingers that this particular course/book/thingy is IT. That’s a surefire way you’ll always be one. step. behind.
Instead, you need to create from the same place the successful people create from – a place of love, spontaneity, originality and fuck the rules-ness – and that’s when the success will come.
For the love of all things sparkly, it’s time to start creating + sharing the stuff that matters.
Confession: I’ve had this blog post in my “Drafts” folder for over a month.
Yes, a month. That’s 4 entire weeks, 30 full days and who-the-heck-knows how many hours.
And yes, I’m a writer…who makes a living pumping out content.
But despite that, it still took me an exorbitant amount of time to pump out the bulk of this blog post.
Why, my friends?
Because of a little something I called “Blog Terror.”
Okay, so “Blog Terror” really isn’t as horrible as it sounds. It doesn’t mean you hate blogs, or break out in hives when you read them. (And if that does happen to you, well, lady, that sounds like a personal problem. That needs taken care of. ASAP.)
Blog Terror is more about that terrifying, gut-tickling feeling you get right before you sit down to write a blog post that makes you feel like you have absolutely NO RIGHT to be writing on insert-topic-of-choice. Y’know, that whole “Who the fuck do you think you are?” and “What the hell do YOU know about anything?” thing that happens & kinda-sorta takes over your entire body.
And honestly? That is still freaking happening to me as I write this post and proooobably won’t let up until I finally hit Publish – and then read it a month later and wonder (happily),” Damn! Did I really write that?”
But I digress.
So, the bad news? Blog Terror is pretty freakin’ real – for most of us – and it stems from that oh-so-human (and usually unavoidable) fear of “not being good enough.” It derives from our natural instinct to doubt ourselves – especially when we’re about to do something “outside the norm.”
But there is some good news! Blog Terror truly has little to do with the fact that we’re “terrible writers” or “don’t know what to say.” It’s not because you don’t have amazing ideas (you’ve got loads!). And it’s surely not because you’re devoid of any opinions on your industry, or not able to articulate helpful things to your audience.
YOU CAN DO ALL THAT.
The only thing that’s stopping is you a FEELING, INSIDE YOUR HEAD.
It’s just that damn “not good enough” voice getting the best of you – and causing you to spend an entire afternoon binging on Pretty Little Liars & justifying ice cream for dinner. (It’s dairy! That’s gotta count for something, right?)
Luckily, there are a few ways to beat the Blog Terror monster down to size.
Here’s how to tackle Blog Terror + create kick ass content even when you’re scared shitless:
1. Quit giving a flying you-know-what about what you think everybody else wants.
I know, I know. This goes against every morsel of marketing advice that you’ve ever read about writing online ever. You’re supposed to focus on your prospects and their needs and wants and desires and the questions they’re asking. And yes – that is amazing advice and 99.9% of the time you should follow it. But when the real issue isn’t a lack of ideas but rather a lack of actually-getting-shit-done? Sometimes you just have to simply write from your heart.
You have my permission to write a blog about whatever the fuck you want. And once you get into the mood (and you will, trust me!) go on to tackling the more prospect-centric subjects. There.
2. Remind yourself you know soooo much more than you’re giving yourself credit for.
Yes, it feels like everything you could ever wanna say has always been said a million times before by somebody a million times more eloquent than you. And yeah, that may be true. In fact, it probably is true. But that doesn’t mean you don’t have a right to say what you wanna say. Only YOU can express your viewpoint in the way YOU express it.
Plus, you’re actually hella smart and probably know a ton of different things – things that that mentor/guru/ridiculously entertaining blogger simply can’t know because they aren’t you and haven’t experienced life through your lens.
3. Just start.
You totally hate that one, don’t you? I used to, too. Until I realized that that’s the only way anything gets done – ever. Sometimes you just have to set the damn Pomodoro timer and try to write. It won’t always be easy. In fact, it won’t be – for the first ten minutes or so. But just like when it comes to working out getting to the gym is half the battle, half the battle of writing a blog post is opening the damn browser window and typing the first few words. After that, it gets easier!
4. Write like SHIT.
Once you’ve started creating, challenge yourself NOT to use the backspace or delete buttons until you’ve written an entire draft. Don’t search deep in the recesses of your brain for a “cool” or “magnetic” word. Don’t take a break to read other blogs (worst. idea. ever.). Don’t even make the mistake of reading what you’ve already written. Just write. And expect it to sound like shit.
Because the important part of creating anything is actually creating it. The ONLY THING that matters is getting it all out of you. (And don’t let the pros fool you, either: ALL the magic and the beauty and the “awesomeness” that is writing happens in the editing process!)
First drafts are always shit. Prepare for it and don’t worry about it. It’s normal!
Over to you, beautytown! //
Do you have your own “foolproof” process for writing content? I’d love to know any tips-n-tricks you’ve picked up over the years for churning our compelling content….even when you’d rather watch 24 hours of the Golf Channel.
I’m about to get real bold here, ya’ll. (And I don’t just mean with my font, but yes, that, too, in this case.)
There really are a whole plethora of reasons your dream clients aren’t lapping up your program like skinny-yet-ridiculously-delicious Sbux frappucinnos on a humid, sunshine-y June afternoon.
But the #1 reason your stuff isn’t selling is soooo simple, you’re probably going to laugh. Or cry. Y’know, depending on how you process things. 🙂
So what is it? I’ll tell ya.
Your program isn’t selling because you wrote a sales page that speaks to you – not one that speaks to your people.
What does that mean, exactly? Lemme break it down.
Let’s pretend for a quick sec that you’re a relationship coach. You’ve done a ton of work on yourself and you’re now the queen of super-awesome relationships. You’ve got a ridiculously hot husband, a hip, meticulously-decorated house most peeps your age would DIE for (with or without the white picket fence, because really…do houses even have white picket fences anymore?) and maybe even a kiddo or two created from you + your hub’s awesomeness.
But it wasn’t always this way. You actually were once a huge, hot mess in the ‘ships department – like so crazy that you’d creep by your high school sweetheart’s house over + over + over in your blue Ford Focus just to make sure he was actually eating spaghetti with his parents like he told you…and NOT secretly hanging out (read: banging) that Avril Lavigne look-a-like who shot him flirty glances in study hall. (Except, in your defense, he actually WAS, so, I mean…)
But the point? You went through a MAJOR transformation in how you think about relationships (and life) – and so YOU know creating a good, quality relationship is about sooo much more than the stuff you think it’s about – like looking flawlessly gorgeous in your LBD and catching up on the NYT so you know WTF to talk about on a first date. (And yes – all those acronyms were TOTALLY necessary, BTW.)
YOU know nabbing a wonderful man who treats you like a freaking princess (who can also totally take care of herself, obvs) is about loving up on yourself big time and accepting who you are and having passions outside of your relationship.
So what’s the issue? Well, most of your dream clients – the women who totally NEED your stuff – aren’t Googling things like, “How do I accept myself so a man will love me?” (Okay, they MIGHT be.) But most likely they’re actually typing in shizz like, “Why is everyone else around me picking out expensive ass wedding gowns and I’m still painfully single, ladeling Ben + Jerry’s into my mouth – alone – every Friday night?” or “Why do I keep attracting broke, ambition-less ex-cons who only want me because I’ve got a hefty amount of zero’s in my bank account?”)
YOU know the answers to those questions. YOU know finding true love starts with loving yourself and all that good stuff.
But your dream clients don’t. And worse? They don’t even realize that self love and acceptance is their problem because they don’t know what you know!
Now, you can (and should, and will, damn it) provide them with all that information + goodness in your program. Because that’s what you know, what you’re good at…and it’s what they need to know to get what they want.
But you are NOT – I repeat, ARE NOT – going to make the idea of self love/acceptance the crux of your sales page, ya hear me? Because YOUR DREAM CLIENTS JUST WANT A SWEET, WARM BODY TO COZY UP WITH ON FRIDAY NIGHT, WHO’LL SHAMELESSLY HOLD THEIR HAND THROUGH THE FAULT IN OUR STARS (for the third time)…AND WHO (HOPEFULLY) DOESN’T CARRY A SWITCHBLADE IN HIS BACK POCKET.
So what do you do instead?
YOU SELL THEM WHAT THEY WANT, BUT GIVE THEM WHAT THEY NEED.
You’re going to tell them that your program covers every.little.thing. they need to know to nab the ultimate, perfect-for-them kinda guy. You’re going to tell them that if they buy your program, they’re gonna learn exactly how to turn themselves into a good-guy-magnet so they never have to run a $29.99 background check on their next date – just in case – ever again.
You’re going to make sure your sales page speaks to them – in the way they speak about their problems in their heads. (Need a bitta help gettin’ inside your prospect’s heads? I wrote a totally fun [and non-creepy] post on how to read your dream client’s minds.)
You’re gonna delete anything that sounds like straight up “coach” speak (ahem, authenticity + clarity).
And, as always, you’re going to give it a touch of flair + personality by telling your story + throwing in some of your signature slang and/or references to other shizz you dig. (Need help with that? Crushworthy Sales Copy’s got ya covered.)
And then? You’re going to sit back, relax + pour yourself a nice, tall, sweet glass of moscato as you watch the sales roll in, because congrats, beautiful – you’ve just written a sales page for your program that’s actually gonna SELL.
Trust me on this one (especially the moscato).
If there’s anybody out there who knows how scary it is to raise their prices, it’s me.
Now, here’s the real real: There are a lot of copywriters out there who charge much higher prices than I do. (And yes, I realize the absurdity of this given that my tagline includes the word “couture.”) I’ve had this brought to my attention by nearly everyone – clients, business coaches, colleagues, you name it.
And while working on our money mindset is all the rage these days (and we’re constantly bombarded with messages like, “Charge what you’re worthy, honey!”), I still don’t think it’s cool when someone busts into a new scene and demands top dollar. I think you’ve got to work up to charging higher prices. Y’know, that whole “It’s a privilege, not a right” deal. I don’t mind earning my chops (although let’s be real…I’ve been writing online for money over years.)
So I’ve kept my prices decent and affordable for new business owners, who are also some of my fave people to work with.
And it’s all been gravy…until lately.
Nowadays, it feels like my lower-ish rates are starting to backfire on me.
How so, you ask?
Well, I’m inundated with client work. And while I love ’em all, unfortunately my time/energy/loveliness has been spread far too thin. I’ve noticed my quality of work slipping (and with it, my illusions of shorter workdays, where the second half is spent making mad cash while sipping moscato on a park bench…except, you know, legal). I’ve had to call myself out for lazy writing (telling, not showing) quite a few times.
And then a few weeks back, I really hit an all-time low. I realized I had stopped thinking about prospects in terms of “good fit,” “bad fit” and whether or not I’m excited/turned on by the client/business… and starting thinking in terms of dollah signs.
As in…if I work with this person and this person and this person (no names used) and charge this much, I can afford to pay my health insurance bill this month.
I did not get into business to treat clients like they’re just a means to money in the bank.
Hell to the no.
I want to make sure this business stays fun and my writing stays fresh (so that, y’know, it actually works for my people). So it feels really out of integrity with my bigger mission – to empower women business owners to share their shit and own their fabulousness – to continue doing what I’ve been doing (which is pumping out copy like a well-manicured machine, without having the time/energy to truly connect with my clients). So I’ve decided to do something that terrifies me and a LOT of other women: re-evaluate my prices.
Cue the dun, dun, duuuuun.
But here’s the deal: I know I’ve helped clients usher in thousands upon thousands of dollars. I know I’ve helped others break through years of overwhelm, frustration and just “not getting it right”-ness. So my value is apparent. It’s real. Tangible, even.
And although it’d obvs be nice to be able to afford a Birkin or pair of Louboutins as a result of changing up my prices, that’s not what this is about AT ALL. I want to be able to pay my bills, sure, but my re-evaluation is more about feeling OKAY with who I am as a businesswoman and person.
If you’re floatin’ in the same boat (as in working your talented butt off for clients and still struggling to pay bills and feeling terrible about your sub-par customer service), I’ve pulled together a few pieces of wisdom to make you feel better about raising your own prices. Because seriously….in certain cases, asking for more makes you a better human being, not worse.
Read on, yo.
So, why will charging more make you a better, more responsible and sometimes even more likable human?
1. You’re more relaxed when you make more cash. I have existed on PB&J sandwiches for weeks, and let me tell you, it’s not as awesome as it sounds. It’s much nicer to know that rent will get paid, the cats will have Fancy Feast and I can buy organic carrots without calling it a “splurge.” And the best part is, when you’re relaxed, you treat everyone with more respect. Better human? Totes.
2. You can focus on loving up the clients you ALREADY have. Your current clients should never feel neglected. Nurturing the relationships you’ve already got is key to your biz success…and to being a good human. When you don’t have to hustle like the rent’s due all the time, you can actually breathe, do good work and y’know, respond to your client’s emails in a timely manner. (And remember it costs 10x more to find a new customer than hang onto a current one.)
3. You can switch from promotion mode to creation mode. When you need 20 clients a month just to stay above water, you’re probably promoting yourself A LOT, instead of taking time to develop kickass content/courses TO promote. Content isn’t just an amazing way to show people you know your shit, it’s also valuable to those people. You’re helping them! Don’t you feel like a better human just thinking about that?
4. You can use the extra time to cultivate a stronger brand. When we’re drowning in client work, we often neglect our own brands, but seriously, how people perceive your business is everything. Once you raise your rates, you can spend time working on perfecting every aspect of your brand, including your customer experience…which admittedly, might kinda suck right now. How can you make working with you a more fun, personal, high-touch process? Why not funnel some of that extra coin back into deee-lighting your clients with snazzy cards and I don’t know…lipglosses? I mean, what human wouldn’t love opening up their mailbox to a cool new MAC lipgloss from the lady they just hired? Exactly. They = lookin’ fly and you = BETTER HUMAN.
5. You can set stronger boundaries. With mo’ cash flow rolling in, you can start saying “No” to non-dream clients more often (and not have to worry your cell will start ringing off the hook with bill collectors). When you say “No” to peeps who don’t really do it for ya, you open up the opportunity for them to find a service/product provider who’s as invested in their project as they are. And that, my dear, is some good human type shit. Once you’ve figured out who you love, why waste time (theirs or yours) with anybody else?
There ya have it, girlfriends. Five reasons why you should STOP selling for peanuts and become a better human being. Now get out there and BE GOOD!
// YOUR TURN!
I’d love to hear about your own experiences with raising your prices. Do you think it’s made you a better businesswoman/human? What changes have you noticed in how you show up in your business and the world? Where are you able to focus now that you weren’t before? And if you’ve never raised your prices, what would you like to have more time, energy, space to focus on that you can’t now?
P.S. If you’re interested in learning more how to raise your prices and elevate your brand through unique-to-you premium offerings, sit tight, beaut. I’ll be talking a lot more about this in the coming weeks…and maaaaybe even be able to help you do so at a low, BETA rate. Add your name to my list (using the cute sign-up box below) to make sure you don’t miss the big announcement!
I don’t normally write posts like this.
In all honesty, I really don’t like to tell people what to do or not do. I’m a rock-solid advocate for trusting your intuition and doing what feels right in your own heart when it comes to your business. I think at the end of the day, you know your ideal clients better than anyone else (you’re usually only a few steps ahead of them in the game, anyway) and I don’t think someone on “the outside” can truly know what will resonate with them better than you.
Plus, I am a totally off-the-beaten-path kinda girl myself, and I like to push the envelope (however slowly).
So don’t get it twisted. I love when I see people doing business differently – and I especially love when I see those crazy antics paying off.
What I don’t love is when I see brands trying too hard to be different…and totally missing the mark.
In online biz, your success really depends on how easily you are able to build trust with your brand. And when your brand is the wild child of your niche – and if that doesn’t exactly vibe with either your own personality, or other’s perceptions of you – it can totally kill your brand, point blank.
But as always, this is totally avoidable.
Here are 5 copy no-no’s that almost always crush your credibility:
1. Dropping f-bombs for no reason.
Girls, don’t get me wrong. I love a well-placed “fuck” or “shit” or other profanity. It’s proven that surprises like this jolt people back into the moment – which is fabulous when you’re trying to hold someone’s attention for long periods of time.
But when overused? All the obscenities can become trite, not to mention they really can damage your credibility IF people don’t think they’re authentic.
If you’re a brand that prides itself on it’s large corporate sponsorships, throwing out a buncha expletives doesn’t exactly make sense from a branding point of view.
For a brand like mine, however? I don’t go no fucks and I do what I want. (See what I did there?)
2. Getting TOO sexy.
Obviously, I love sexy. I don’t think there’s anything wrong with sex or intrigue or mystique (in fact, it’s my Fascination Factor).
What I don’t love is when people go overboard. There’s a very fine line being sexy-classy and being sexy-trashy.
Of course, it works for some brands. But I’m going to bet unless sex is an integral slice of your brand identity, it’s probably throwing people off more than anything.
Is there a better way to create a sense of “gotta-have-this-ness”? In most cases, yes. I like to keep the sexiness more subtle than overt, and I think it works.
3. Giving yourself a totally unrecognizable title.
It’s all the rage these days to NOT want to call yourself what you actually are. If you’re a health coach, you want to be a “smoothie-wielding warrior”…and never mention your coaching credential at all.
I think all that is fine + dandy..until you create a title for yourself that NOBODY understands. Again, creativity is one thing. But as always, clear trumps clever and at the end of the day, what people really want to know is what the heck you are and what you can do for them.
Still tempted to use a fancy-schmancy title? Think of it this way: Your TITLE does not have to include YOUR MESSAGE. Your overall message is better off making an appearance in your tagline. Keep your title simple, if only for SEO purposes (because no search engine knows what a “dream activator” is, promise).
4. Choosing “fun” words over “power” words.
There are certain words guaranteed to inspire action on your clients. (Seriously – just Google “power words” and you’ll get thousands of results.)
Sometimes, unfortunately, these words aren’t super fun. Or hip. Or even that creative. (Case in point: “Imagine” and “you” are among the top most powerful words you can use in your copy. Not exactly Pulitzer Prize material, non?)
I want you to know that it’s okay NOT to sound hip in every sentence of your copy. In fact, most of the time you probably shouldn’t – you should just sound straightforward, clear and like you know what the heck you’re talking about.
5. Not being your damn self.
I know how really freaking hard it can be to drown out the incessant noise from other people in your industry, or even other entrepreneurs in general. Seriously though – if you ever want your true voice to emerge, you gotta stop letting others voices seep into your own.
How can you do this? Pare down your email subscriptions, stop obsessively stalking your mentors and just do your own damn thing for at least 30 days. I love to use 750Words.com every morning just to whip up some writing of my own, before I’ve let any noise from the day enter my brain.
The less chatter you take in, the more your real voice will radiate out. But you have to give it space to take shape.
When you start using your real voice, that’s when the magic happens.
Dig this post?
Are you guilty of a copy faux pas? Tell me all about it in the comments. And if you want more tips like these, be sure to head on over and check out my e-book Crushworthy Sales Copy 101 that’s chock full of good advice on how to write in a way that sounds like you and makes cash, too.
Do you haaaaate writing benefits for your copy? Do you ever resort to fist-clenching, teeth-gritting and/or loose-lipped-profanity-followed-by-white-wine-chugging because you just can’t seem to nail them down?
(Don’t lie to me, lady. I’ve talked to enough of you to know the answer is a resounding, “HELL YES!”)
Well, I’ve got a super cool secret that will make writing benefits a total breeze, yo. And I’m sharing it with you RIGHT NOW. So get your (sparkly) pens ready, ladies! It’s time to get schooled on bennies.
Here it is: Sometimes we think something is a benefit, but it’s not. (Dun, dun, dun.)
Um, say whaaat?
If a benefit is truly a benefit, it must somehow solve a problem for your prospect – and make an emotional, not just tangible, connection.
For example, I might say a “benefit” of my copywriting is that I take an (often) tedious, ridiculously booooring, arduous task off your (already cluttered) plate. Because I love you, and I don’t want you to write shitty copy. Or do anything you dislike, actually.
That sounds nice, right? It sounds concrete.
But can I dig deeper? Is there more there?
You can cut straight to the juicy core of any benefit by asking one simple question: “So what?”
That’s it. That annoying little phrase every 7-year-old seemingly has ready-to-roll off his tongue actually holds the key to delicious copy. Who knew?
So let’s try it in real time, shall we?
“Supposed” Bennie: I take a task you hate off your plate.
So what? (Read: “What does that really mean to you?”)
It means you’ll have more time to do other cool shit. Like drink lots of red wine at dinner or, y’know, book three extra clients.
The reason this is now a better benefit is that it speaks to one of my ideal client’s biggest, most niggling, awful problems: not having enough time to do what they love…because they’re constantly slaving over sales copy.
What it does now is connect on an emotional level.
‘Cause the truth is, nobody really gives a flying you-know-what that I’m taking a task off their plate. What they do care about is what that extra time means to them – and what they can do with it. They care about how their lives will be gloriously happier, madly more fulfilled or just plain better because by hiring me, I’ve gifted them this extra time. (BTW – time is the MOST valuable resource on the planet. More valuable than money or accolades or anything-the-eff-else. When in doubt about benefits, remember that MOST people want more time.)
The supposed “benefit” of taking a task off your plate is really just a glorified feature without that essential emotional element. And we can’t have none of that “glorified feature” nonsense when we’re trying to make bookoo bucks, now can we?
When you’re doing this for your own copy, just remember that the answer to each “So what?” needs to talk about HOW the particular benefit solves (one of) your prospect’s problems.
In this case:
The Problem: Not having enough time to do the shit they really love because they’re spending even the most hoppin’ Saturday nights (Does anybody say “hoppin” anymore? Did they ever…besides my Dad?) chained to their MacBooks resentfully pounding out sales copy
The Benefit: Hiring me means THEY DON’T HAVE TO DO THAT. and THEY CAN GO OUT AND ENJOY THE FUCKING PARTY, MAN…LIKE A GOD DAMN NORMAL PERSON. 🙂
Now, the point of this blog isn’t that you need to sit at your laptop all day muttering, “So what?” ’cause that’d be freakin’ weird, weirdo.
The point is I want you to remember that YOUR BENEFITS ARE WHAT SELL YOUR STUFF. As the famous Zig Ziglar said in that super wise quote up top, we buy based on emotion first, and then we try back it up with logic.
Benefits are emotional. Features are logical.
Without solid benefits, nobody’s buying.
Not even if you’ve got the most amazing, well-thought-out, slaved-over-for-months, wrapped-in-gold offer. And not even if you’re promising iPad Minis with every order. (Okay, maybe then. But are you really gonna do that? ….And if you are, will you hook a girl up?)
So next time you’re wondering if your sales page is lacking or why a seemingly stellar, super hot offer isn’t racking up 0’s in your bank account, go back to the basics & shine up your benefits. Give them the extra love & attention that they deserve and ask, “So what?”
You – and your business – are worth the extra couple minutes it takes to dig deeper + discover the real reasons people will want what you have.
And of course, don’t forget to go forth + deliver on your promises, too. Grateful-clients-to-be are waiting.
Dig this post? Tell me about it, sugar.
Try the “So What?” exercise above and post your results below. I’ll give the first 5 lucky ladies a FREE QUICKIE REVIEW of your bennies, entirely on da house. Aaand…go!
Apparently, I’m getting older.
Two weeks ago, I was lounging in Cabo San Lucas, Mexico, delightfully marinating underneath the palm trees with my 2 besties who are also late 20-somethings. I was rocking my low-rise denim cut offs and gladiator sandals and flowy top and feeling generally okay about myself, in spite of the fact that it was spring break week and everybody everywhere was about 10 years younger than me.
I didn’t really feel any “different” – at least, not until we hit the town later that night, still in our low-rise denim. Still in our gladiator sandals. Still in our flowy, oversized tops.
‘Cause every other chick in a 2-mile radius? Every other chick was sporting a crop top and high-waisted denim cut-off shorts that would probably get you arrested most places in the U.S.
Don’t get me wrong – they all looked beautiful. I think the look is cute. And especially cute on Amazon-esque, tan, thin 18-year-olds.
And it wasn’t like each girl wasn’t giving it her own unique twist. Nobody was wearing the same crop top, or the same pair of denim cut-offs. Some crop tops were basic, some were patterned. Some cut-offs were white, some were shredded, some had cool, vintage looking patches. But still…it was like there was some Cabo uniform I was unaware of, and it made me mildly self conscious.
But a funny thing happened when we went out in Cabo. We found ourselves swarmed by people (guys, girls, locals – whatever) wanting to talk to us + get to know us. Everybody told us we looked friendly and “different” (or, y’know, maybe we just looked old enough to wield an AmEx…I don’t know).
Either way, the fact that we were a bit older, and not dressed like everybody else…turned out to be a wonderful conversation starter. An asset, if you will. (Not to be confused with an ass-et.)
And all of this, naturally, got me thinking about business. Ladies, honestly: It’s so easy to get lost in online business. It’s so easy to become the “Cabo Girl” – blindly following the trends and desperately trying to make them your own…but still looking like everybody else in the end.
There are so many people who run similar types of businesses, write the same kinds of blogs, have the same style of website, package their shit in similar ways.
Which is fine. And expected. You shouldn’t have to reinvent the wheel as an entrepreneur, especially when there are proven systems/tactics/tips that work (in fact, I’ve written about this before).
The real problem is that there are so many people who create businesses, websites and blogs and all these things without a real, clear sense of their brand. They don’t know WTF sets them apart, or how to showcase that in a way that’s fun + exciting + unique. They just decide to embody a certain trend because they saw it on
Lookbook.nu some forum, or somebody else’s blog.
I know I’ve talked about it before (in a slightly different context), but I truly believe it’s the “little things” that make us feel the most polished + put together – the most “us.” IRL, I mean like…manis + pedis. Hair color + style. And blending classics + trends together to create one-of-a-kind ensembles. And rocking super low-rise denim even if it’s not “the thing” anymore, just because you love it.
I believe it’s the same online. The key to standing out is all in the little things, baby.
Here are a few (little) ways you can add more delicious YOU-ness to your brand:
1. Name Your Client Documents
Most of us send our clients documents at one point or another – be it an intake form or a coaching agreement. One way to stand out from the competition is to give these necessary (and often times, boring) docs interesting names. For example, I recently changed the name of my “intake PDF” to “Beat Sheet,” which is a Hollywood term that refers to an outline where each major plot point gets it own bullet point. Since the point of my intake form is to have my clients dish on everything that ever happened to them ever (in terms of getting to where they are today in their business) and all the minute details of their dream clients + specific offerings, it makes sense to call it a “Beat Sheet.” It gives me an outline of their story and their business – and gives me a place to start writing the script (their drafts). The name is also totally in line with my brand. (Have you peeped my bio page lately? One of my first lines is about how I believe online business is like one big, sexy Hollywood shindig.)
2. Re-name Your “Tribe”
Does anybody else cringe when they hear the phrase “tribe”? I do! I don’t know if it’s just ’cause I’ve been online for awhile, but it seems so trite, passe and…yesterday. (It also makes me think of the Cleveland Indians, which, y’know is fine, but probably not what you’re going for.) Why not switch things up + describe your peeps in a new way? Y’know, something like posse. Clique. Or entourage (which is, coincidentally, the one I’m newly trying on…but maybe only ’cause I think Erica’s Entourage sounds really fucking cool. Or maybe because I have a serious addiction to alliteration. Like, might need rehab addiction. But anywho.) How can you give your people a unique moniker that’s not only intriguing to them, but contains a nod to something you love, too?
3. Create A Signature Sign-Off
Everybody needs a signature sign-off – a few word ditty you can use at the bottom of blog posts, emails, documents – whatever! This is something I occasionally work on with clients, but I didn’t realize until last week when I was updating my Mailchimp autoresponders that I don’t have one. And the more I think about it…the more necessary I think it is. Especially if you’re a personality-driven brand. Luckily, your sign-off doesn’t have to be crazy, or even that clever, to be effective. It can be an easy way to show off your personality (got a phrase/word you always use? throw it in your siggy!) and what you believe in.
You could say something like…
To more [thing you love #1] and even more [thing you love #2], Your Name
In [thing you believe in #1] and [thing you believe in #2], Your Name
Another idea? Keep the same basic structure as one of the above, but switch it up depending on what you’re writing about. If you just drafted an email newsletter all about Beyonce and the super cool un-marketing strategy she used for her last album launch, your sign-off could be like: “To Beyonce and keeping people on their toes.”
4. Amp Up Your Packages
Since everybody + their mama has packages these days, this is one place you definitely gotta step up the “You-ness.” Even if you’re selling the exact same package as someone else, you can give components of your package fresh new nom de plumes to keep things interesting. Like, how ’bout ditching the 30-minute “Discovery Session” for a 15-minute “Champagne Chat”? Also, make sure the package has a cute, catchy title. For example, my packages “Overnight Celebrity” and “The It Girl Experience” are both totally in line with my brand and my personality. (I seriously listen to the Twista song on the regular, ’cause I’m a weirdo.)
Inspired? Here are two big caveats I want to mention.
1. Add as much “you” as you want – but keep it cohesive.
Once you get the ball rollin’, it’s almost too easy to get carried away. Make sure that when you’re injecting personality into your brand, you’re sticking with 1-2 major themes. For example, you shouldn’t call one package something to do with vampires, and another one something about rock n’ roll. Unless, of course, your brand mascot is a guitar-wielding bloodsucker. Then, by all means.
2. You don’t have to do every single one at once, or at all.
Remember the girl in high school who went all out, all the time – rocking a mohawk, ripped fishnets, black lipstick, black ties, dog collars and spiked out hair….almost every single day? Okay, yes. That girl was me. But that girl was also a bit overzealous…and ended up looking ridiculous in far too many photos that are now encapsulated for life. One or two “accents” is all you truly need – in business and in life. Choose the two that most speak to you, and start there.
Do you have a cool, quirky or memorable brand element that’s totally you? Inspired to create your own after this article? Tell us about your experience in the comments!
P.S. If this kinda stuff intrigues you, I dive wayyy deeper into adding your unique interests + personality into your copy in my e-book, Crushworthy Sales Copy 101. For just $5, you can learn how to brainstorm loads of ideas for sweetening your copy with more you. Click to learn more.
Once upon a time, I wanted to be a magazine journalist.
As a teenager (who was equal parts angsty as hell and also totally stereotypically girly), I was obsessed with a capital ‘O’ with magazines. I subscribed to at least 5 – Cosmo, Teen People, Seventeen, BUST, Teen Vogue, the list goes on – and whenever a beauty hit my mailbox, I lit up like a kid on Christmas. My joy (and compulsion to check the mailbox at least 3 times a day) might have been a little over-the-top, but there was literally no problem a quick flick through a glossy couldn’t fix.
And why was I so obsessed?
Because those damn magazine writers were fucking awesome at writing compelling headlines.
“16 Easy Ways to Feel More Pleasure Now” – Sign me up for that!
“12 Love Moves that Turn Him to Mush” – Yes, please!
“Feel Happier in 10 Seconds or Less” – I mean, come on.
And not only would I gladly throw down my last $5 for a chance to find out “how to rock his world with hot new moves,” as a budding writer with a few articles under my belt, I knew I had, had, had to learn how to craft titles like that. (Side note: I did go to school for Magazine Journalism, but let’s just say the coolest headline I wrote was about the local Red Cross blood drive. Such is life, yo.)
Now, let me let you in on a little secret: Magazine writers know what they’re doing. They’re not writing headlines like that for fun (except I’m sure it’s one helluva blast).
Magazine writers write headlines for one reason only: to grab your attention by playing on the powers of innate human curiosity.
Of course you want to find out how to look sexier with one new easy makeup trick. Right?
Humans always want to know about the newest, most innovative, easiest and quickest thing…and headlines need to play on one of those attributes.
And since western society has a serious case of ADD, headlines are even more important in the online realm. You’ve got literally seconds to grab a reader’s attention.
That said, headlines are arguably the most important part of any piece of writing you’ll ever write.
But how the hell do you write a headline? Where do you even start? There are tons of headline hacks available online, but I’m going to encourage you to get a little more creative.
Here are a few of my fave online hotspots for snagging some seriously sweet headline ideas:
Reddit is an awesome place to scour for juicy headlines….as long as you make sure not to get lost in it’s vortex. It’s also a double-whammy where you can hit two birds with one proverbial stone. You can find fresh story ideas, too, either by swiping the concept + tweaking it to fit your niche or stumbling upon a story that’s already in your niche.
Need an example of headline-tweaking for your niche? I just happened upon this gem: Are PCs Dying? Of Course Not, Here’s Why. If I was using this as inspiration for a blog post, maybe I’d write a post titled, “Are Long Form Sales Pages Dying? Nope, Here’s Why.” Just be sure not to straight up plagiarize, ’cause that aint cool.
2. The local rag rack
Obvs, this must be included. Really any magazine will do, but Cosmo’s got headline-writing down to an art. In fact, I have a blog post planned titled, “4 Signs This Client is ‘The One'” – highjacked straight from a Cosmo cover headline about knowing if you’ve found Mr. Right.
Here’s link to check out some of Cosmo’s more recent covers. Swipe away, ladies.
3. Huffington Post
If you use the Internet at all ever, you’ve seen Huffington Post stories pop up somewhere – most likely your Facebook news food. You know, the whole, “This woman looked inside her dresser drawer. What she found next was astonishing.” bit.
Now, while I don’t advocate using “click-and-switch” headlines – meaning they look like they’re going to be about one thing but are about something totally different, a tactic the HuffPo does use occasionally– I think the Post does an amaaazing job piquing human curiosity with their headlines.
So while they may be mildly annoying, these types of headlines still get me to click every time, which proves to me they’re doing something right.
4. Retail Sales E-mails
Okay, so this isn’t necessarily for headlines in particular, but I create some of my most punny writing (yes, that was totes intended) based on the sales e-mails of my fave online shops. Not only do copywriters for retail brands have to come up with clever, succinct calls to action, they also have to grab a reader’s attention and FAST.
Retail copywriters are experts at playing on words, creating puns + using idioms. (Trust me – I used to be one!)
Although I wouldn’t use a headline like, “Sweet Hearts” (this was for a feature on heart-shaped accessories) for a blog headline or sales copy headline, I would totally use this in email marketing, within the body copy or as inspiration for naming a product.
Alright girlfrands, that’s all I got. Now it’s time for you to share your headline secrets. Spill in the comments, por favor.
P.S. If you want more tips like this, I’ve got a secret for ya. I’m currently whipping up my FIRST EVAH e-book. Crushworthy Sales Copy 101 is a short-n-sweet guide to your most burning copywriting Qs….with my signature sass + flair. And pop culture references. The best part? You can pre-order it starting today at a PAY-WHAT-YOU-WISH price. That means you can pick your own price (minimum $5) + you’ll get the beauty automagically sent to your e-box on March 7, 2014 in downloadable PDF form. Click right hurr to hop on over to the special Crushworthy Copy pre-order page.
Your turn! //
Ready for Action, Jackson? Here’s what I want you to do:
1. Re-write 1-3 of your blah-est headlines (either from a blog post or sales copy) using one of the websites above as inspiration.
2. Sign up over at VisualWebsiteOptimizer.com (tutorial forthcoming!) and create a “headline test.” Pit your old headline against your new headline. (This website is pretty easy to use if you’re mildly tech savvy.)
3. Wait a month + check back. Which one got more engagement? More shares? More likes? Use that headline for good. And congrats – you just ran your first A/B test!
So you don’t have the purrr-fect business name or tagline….and it’s driving you bat shit.
You also have no clue what in the actual fuck to call yourself (’cause coach is sooo cliche and requires ten minutes of explanation). (Also: I’ve always wanted to say “what in the actual fuck.”)
And it’s not just the words that have you stumped. You constantly switch around your packages & services. Your site is like a Merry-Go-Round. You’re obsessed with an idea one week and totally over it the next.
Why all of this craziness & bipolar-ness in your biz?
You’re expecting that everything’s gotta be AMAZE right out the gate.
You’re far from ignorant. You know the importance of fabulous design + kickass copy (hence why you’re here, am I right?). You aren’t oblivious to the fact that your website is your online, 24/7 “sales person.” YOU KNOW.
The problem is you might know a little too much. And instead of inspiring you, you’ve let all the noise become one more reason to procrastinate. “Well, I don’t have my core message drilled into 1-2 sentences soooo I certainly can’t post about myself in that new Facebook group…” “Well, I don’t have a super cool tagline so I definitely can’t put my site out there…”
Here’s the thing though: You don’t have to have the perfect ANYTHING to launch your site or share your message.
And if you wait for the impossible ‘perfect’ copy/tagline/title to materialize….you’re missing out on hundreds of dollars in sales.
We learn by doing, and once we take action…things become so much clearer. Think of it this way: You can’t grow by hanging back sippin’ on your cranberry vodka, saying, “Next song…I’m out there,” while your competition is shakin’ their booties & landing all the hotties on the dance floor.
Or, you know…clients. On the Internet.
Once you actually START, you’ll learn what you like & don’t like pretty quickly. And you can refine from there.
If you don’t ever actually get out & DO IT, you’ll never figure out that maybe you really DON’T wanna coach 20-something women because they can’t actually commit to paying you a significant sum every month.
Or you’ll never realize a certain part of your signature package is actually super tedious and boring and YOU HATE IT and your life would be a million times easier if you just CUT IT OUT (and the beauty of being self-employed is that you can!)
Yup. A lot will change when you start to actually work in your business. And that’s good. It’s supposed to.
You will change, too. And that means you can switch things up as often as ya like.
You don’t have to love every part of your business right away.
You can tweak, and keep tweaking, until your design, copy and packages are perfect – for now.
‘Cause even then, one day what you THOUGHT was immaculate will become stale & need an makeover, too.
Basically: You’re the boss & you get to call the shots. You can pivot into a totally different niche if you want. You can scrap everything & come back bigger & better (or smaller & leaner, if that’s more your style). Established business owners restructure their empires all. the. time.
You DO NOT have to have it “all together” to start making money or run a business. Period.
I know I sat in the “what should I do?” camp for almost three years. Three years I spent working my tail off for other people, writing about things that the end of the day didn’t matter (but for realz – I know sooo much about Kim Kardashian it would probably scare you).
And even now, over a year into my biz, I’m still toying with my packages & services & overall brand message on the daily – getting clearer and discovering what parts I like best (and ditching the rest like last year’s [loved yet worn-down] TOMs).
Case-in-point: I recently switched up my Overnight Celebrity package to better accommodate my clients’ needs. It now include 3 pages of compelling copy – a sexy sales page & mind-blowin’ bio, and the NEW haute home page. I realized that most business owners wanted/needed all three pages, and thought I’d adjust the sails to try out this new model.
This updated package helps you get the 3 basic pages you need for your site outta your head & onto the web so you quit fussing over having it all “just right.” It’s quick + clean + easy. And it allows you to start RUNNING a REAL business instead of just thinking about it.
So basically what I’m saying is that NOTHING’S ever going to look or read just the way you want it.
So what you gotta do is hit the ground running (or sashaying, if you’re in heels) & just put SOMETHING – ANYTHING – out there….and THEN gauge how it feels.
You don’t know what you don’t know. And you won’t know until you start.
Your Turn //
What’s the ONE THING you’re not releasing to the world because it’s not “just right”?
I want you to challenge yourself to…
1. Stop playing with it.
2. Launch it. Publish it. Announce it.
3. Wait a week. Come back to it. How does it feel now? Is it still “missing” something? Is it still feeling off? Did that thing you were obsessing over really matter that much? Chances are….probably not.
4. Repeat with each thing that’s holding you back in your business.
Has the quest for perfection ever held you back? What did you do to overcome your fear? Talk to us about your “Just-DID-It” moments in the comments. (Full disclosure: This blog post was one of those “ship before you’re ready” things. I wrote it in about an hour – and most blog posts take me up to 3…which is NOT a plan of action I recommend.) xo
Did you ladies know February is National Time Management Month in the U.S.?
Okay, neither did I, but it is, so in honor of this (albeit, strange) tradition, I wanted to whip up a behind-the-scenes look at my most-adored tools for creating more time in your day.
While anybody can benefit from this list, I wrote it particularly for solopreneurs who haven’t yet created an iron-clad team, and whose business kiiinda entirely weighs on their own shoulders. (Clearly I am one of said solopreneurs, as evidenced by the self-made graphic below. At least I tried, right?)
Because who couldn’t use a few more beautiful hours to finish that looming client project, prep a delish meal, or you know…catch up on #RichKids of Beverly Hills (just me?)
So here ya have it, ladies: Five fun, fresh ways to get more shit done, in less time.
1. Get Hip to Pomodoro
Oh, Pomodoro, how I love thee. Let’s break it down: Writing is one task that eeeeverybody puts off. You know how it is: You think, “Yes! I’m totally going to write that blog post RIGHT NOW.” Except right now turns into, “Right after I check my e-mail again, and you know, respond to that one tag on Facebook because clearly that’s important…” – and then you’ve wasted an entire afternoon doing everything BUT that one thing that needed done like, yesterday.
But do successful, crisply-dressed (yoga pants are crisp, right?) small business babes behave that way? Not once they discover Pomodoro, they don’t!
Pomodoro isn’t just ‘tomato’ in Italian, it’s also a nifty system for getting shit done-zo. And it’s entirely free!
So, to pomodoro: You set a timer and work uninterrupted for 25 minutes. Why 25? Well, there’s some hard psychology behind it: Apparently humans are only wired to be able to concentrate intensely for 25 minutes at at time.
I have www.tomato-timer.com in my Chrome toolbar for easy access. As soon as I pop open my browser to write, I create a Pomodoro tab & get typin’.
No joke, I get so much done during my 25-minute creative bursts it’s nuts. Don’t believe me? Just try it. I dare ya. You’ll be zoomin’ through tasks in no time – and you can thank me later. You know, after you write that entire week’s worth of blog posts.
2. Make E-mail Fun
There’s no denying, e-mail can get overwhelming. Luckily, I’ve discovered two tools that turn email into a game – and one quite literally.
Over at emailga.me, all you do is you sign up with your email addy & start playing. Essentially the game gives you points for making quick decisions about the emails in your inbox. The quicker your decision – to reply, archive, Boomerang or delete – the more points you get.
Even better, it automagically adds a little line to your signature that lets peeps know you’re playing the game & to “excuse” your brevity. (Even though, really? Brief emails = the best emails. Am I right?)
Another fantastic way to handle email overwhelm is Mailstrom.co. For less than one venti Starbucks frappucinno you can keep your inbox clean & tidy & EMPTY.
I’d say it’s worth it. (It’d take waaaaay more frappy’s to tackle an inbox on your own, ya dig?)
3. You Better Batch, B*tch
Ugh. Batching. I resisted this idea sooo hard for sooo long. And then one day I realized that my time management sucked, and I needed to change something – and quick.
Batching means performing similar tasks in large chunks of time. You know how it is: You kinda get into something once you start. And batching things allows you to stay in the same frame of mind & get a lot more done (whereas switching between tasks means your brain has to try extra hard to keep up – and you lose precious focused work time).
What can you batch?
Social media – Use Buffer (my fave) or the schedule feature on Facebook
Blogging – As a writer I know firsthand that once you’re in the groove, it’s best to just stay there. Why not write an entire month’s worth of newsletters in one glorious afternoon?
Email – You can even use the above tools to do it! Just pick a time every day or every week to clear up your inbox & do it all at once.
Facebookin’ – I don’t know about you, but I belong to a ton of networking & biz-related groups on Facebook. I’ve found it’s better to dive in at a certain time each day & poke around, spark up convos on threads that intrigue me, offer advice & reply to tags in one fabulous fell swoop
Client calls – As a total introvert, this is a must. I can’t schedule too many calls in one day, but I’d rather have client calls just 1-2 days a week, so the rest of time I can devote to precious creation. It’s too much energy for me to switch back & forth between social Erica & writer Erica.
If you’ve been in biz for a minute, I know you’ve heard this one before, but I’m going to repeat it because it is just that good. This is another piece of advice I resisted, ’cause I knew the the initial work of setting up automated systems would probably royally suck. But ever since I batched the tasks one lazy Sunday afternoon (see step #3), I have never been happier or more productive! (And I mean that in the least cheesy-spammy-testimonial way possible).
So what should you automate? The general rule of thumb is to automate anything that you have to do over & over again in your business, in generally the same way.
Me? I automate with canned responses on Gmail, Wave for accounting (it pulls in all my bank & PayPal information – gold!), and use PayPal & Mailchimp together to send out intake forms to my peeps after purchase.
One of my fave sites for automation is IFTTT. The site includes “recipes” that you can set up to ensure something always happens when something else happens – the IFFT stands for if this, then that.
For example, I have a recipe set up so that whenever someone emails me an attachment, it’s automatically saved to my Dropbox account. I never have to download anything – and those free e-books (aka ethical bribes) don’t clutter my sleek lil’ Macbook Pro.
5. Rock Out!
Spotify is the shit, hands down – and it may be my fave time hack on the list. I don’t know about you ladies, but I simply can not work if I don’t have some delicious jams on in the background.
Fact: Music makes you more productive – so I know I can’t be alone.
Now, there’s definitely a fine line & you can’t listen to just anything. If you tend to get too swept up in the lyrics or bust into spontaneous dance parties (that actually hinder your productivity instead of help it – there are definitely some dance parties that are absolutely necessary), you can also try a little online app called Coffitivity. It provides just the right amount of background noise to boost your productivity, but not enough to distracts you. Don’t ask me how they do it, but dang, science. It’s a beautiful thing, ya’ll.
Coffivity is especially rad for entrepreneurs like me who don’t always make it to the local coffee shop (oops?), but love the buzz & hum of people ’cause it makes us feel more human. 🙂
RescueTime is an app you install on your computer (and in my case, usually forget about) that tracks how you spend all your time and shoots you a digest at the end of the week with a breakdown. It’s been super eye-opening – if a little scary – to see how much time I actually spend doing certain things online (ahem, 4 hours a week on Facebook is totally acceptable, right?). If you’re into it, you can even set various goals to try to keep yourself in check. Now that’s hot.
YOUR TURN! //
What are some of YOUR fave ways to save time & get shit done? I’d love to learn more about the deliciously fun tools, processes & mind tricks you use to get stuff done. Spill in the comments, you savvy lady you!