Banner Image

Author Archive for Hazel Butler

Top 10 Plugins For Epic List Building

When it comes to content marketing, the key objective of almost all the entrepreneurs I work with is to grow their email list. Whenever I ask clients what they want their blog and content marketing to achieve the number one answer is simple: build my list.

Your email list is the key to getting everything else in your business working. Building a list of absolutely perfectly ideal clients is really important for any business. It’s a massive help to have a tribe of perfect people to work with, to whom you can directly market your stuff, as it means you’re not relying on ‘spray and pray’ marketing. It helps you generate leads. It helps you convert people from readers and prospects into paying clients. But growing your list, the physical act of getting people to hand over their email address and put themselves on your list, is something that a lot of my clients find quite problematic.

The Importance Of Infrastructure When List Building

One of the main things that I say to all my clients (particularly those on The Divine Blogging Design, which is really geared towards list building and using your content to grow your list as much as possible) is that I can create as much content as you like, and we can get your content marketing working perfectly, but if you don’t have the infrastructure in place to actually capture leads on your website your list building efforts will fail.

You need a website that was built with list building in mind. If it’s difficult for people to sign up in your list, you can have the best content in the world and you’re still going to struggle to get traction where list building is concerned.

When I point this out, I’m invariably asked, “What do I need on my website to grow my list?”

List Building Infrastructure

I am currently in the process of outsourcing, upgrading my website. I took it as far as I could on my own and still needed it to perform better. I needed some professional help with that. But if you’re not yet at a point where you can afford to pay for somebody else to design a professional website for you, or if you’re quite handy with WordPress and simply need to know what plugins to install, then these are the plugins for you.

NOTE: You don’t need all of them. I’m not giving you this list and saying go out and install all 10 of these on your website immediately.

I suggest you take a look at these suggestions and decide which ones sound like will work best for you, and your business. As a general rule the more plugins you install on your website, the slower it will be, and the more chance there is of conflicts. So when I say don’t install them all, I really do mean it. There is a good reason for that. If you suddenly start installing a massive load of plugins on your site you might completely screw it up.

I’ve used all of these plugins at some point. I have many clients who have used them/are still using them and have achieved great results with them. So, without further ado…

My Plugins: Thrive Leads

Thrive Leads is a really comprehensive lead generation plugin. It comes with a lot of templates making it really easy to use. You just install it, upload any of the templates and use them as you see fit. It is a paid plugin. Last time I checked it was about $70, which is good for a high-quality lead generation plugin. Thrive Leads is extremely good and one I use, so you should definitely check it out. It’s incredibly functional with a lot of great popups that you can customise to make them as user-friendly as possible. This means they’re not in your face and annoying people, but they’re still capturing visitors’ email addresses while they’re on the site, and making sure people are aware of the fact you have an email list and giving them the nudge to just sign up for it.

OptinMonster

OptinMonster is quite similar to Thrive Leads. Before I upgraded my website, this is the one that I was using, and I got great results from it. It’s extremely easy to use. It’s about $20 for a monthly subscription, or you can get an annual subscription that cuts it down to $9. OptinMonster has lots of popup options and some really cool functions like locking content. It’s really useful because it gives you more levels to work with. By now you’re probably familiar with using optin freebies to get people to sign up – having a free e-book or a mini video course or whatever that’s available on your site in exchange for an email address email address. But not everybody can be bothered reading a free e-book or watching a free course.

They’re not that interested, but they may come across one of your blog posts and really want to read it.

Locking content allows you to make certain posts inaccessible without the visitor signing up to your email list. The odds are they’ve come across your blog post because they’ve been looking for something specific, or because they know you and they’ve seen you share it, and they’ve clicked on it because they want to read it right now.

They already want to read what you’re offering. It’s not a case of convincing them that your optin is going to be really useful to them. You don’t need to convince them of anything. They’re already there. They already want to be read it. They want to read it right now. You just put a really simple step in place that says, “You can read this, it’s just a click away, pop your email address in!”

This is a great way of getting signups. The only caution I would make is that you shouldn’t use it excessively. Save it for premium posts, the majority of your posts should still be freely available (if you want to know why, check out The Cake Construction).

My Plugins: Landing Pages for WordPress

Thrive Landing Pages is made by the same people as Thrive Leads. They work together very well. Even if you don’t have Thrive Leads, you can still use Thrive Landing Pages, which enables you to create really beautiful landing pages extremely easily. It comes with a lot of templates which makes it very simple to use, and it’s also got a drag and drop interface that makes building your own customised landing pages ridiculously easy.

I still use this on my site. I’ve used it for all my main sales pages (here’s an example!) as well my option landing pages. It’s possibly the most useful thing on my whole website as it lets me DIY the major pages rather than paying a small fortune for my tech guy to do it. In fact, it’s so good that the website overhaul isn’t including the big sales page for The Divine Blogging Design, because I’m happy with the one I created myself for now!

Bloom

Another great plugin for optins is Bloom. I haven’t used this for a while, but I have a lot of clients that still use it, and they get really good results. It’s easy to use. It’s customizable. It’s got a lot of options when it comes to colours, and settings, and things like that, but the feature that I really like about this one is the fact that you can track things very easily. You can track your results and see how your conversion rates are going. You can split test. You can also target specific content, which makes it a really versatile plugin that does a lot of things in a very easy to use way.

PopupAlly Pro The Best List Building Plugin For Polite PopupsMy Plugins: PopupAlly Pro

I use PopupAlly Pro on my own site. It’s just the most useful thing in the world. I absolutely love it. It creates really good little popups. They are not even remotely intrusive, which is the thing that I really like about them. Natalie Lussier, who created PopupAlly Pro, actually refers to it as the ‘polite popup’ specifically because it was designed with this in mind: a lot of site visitors find popups really irritating and intrusive. It’s been designed in such a way that the popups are as unobtrusive as possible, so they don’t really bother you while you’re reading. They don’t interrupt visitors, yet they still grab their attention at the optimal moments and help them sign up really easily.

I have to admit I do find this a little fiddly to setup. It’s not the easiest one in the world, but once you figure out how you do it (and there are videos and tutorials that will help you do that) it is easy to do. It just take me a little while to get the hang of it. That being said, it is hands down the best lead generation plugin I’ve ever. Even though the Write Copy Girl is currently being redeveloped, we are not getting rid of PopupAlly. We’re keeping that because it’s so useful. Where popup plugins are concerned, I would definitely recommend this as my favourite.

Ninja Popups

A really good budget option if you’re not really looking to invest a lot, but you want something that will help you grow your list, is Ninja Popups. You can get that about $21. That’s just a one off payment, that’s all you have to pay, making it cheap and very cheerful. It’s extremely functional. It’s very easy to use. It comes with 40 different themes, loads of different designs, and it’s extremely responsive.

If you’re looking for a cheap and cheerful budget option, Ninja Popups is definitely the one to go for.

Lead Pages

Lead Pages is quite similar to Thrive Landing Pages in that it helps you build really great landing pages that are very effective. I used Lead Pages for a while before I got Thrive. To be perfectly honest, I found it a bit expensive, which is why I switched to Thrive and I haven’t looked back since. I’ve been quite happy with Thrive, but if you don’t mind paying extra, Lead Pages is probably the industry leader for this particular thing. I think it’s the most widely used landing page plugin and one of the most popular. It’s certainly one that a lot of my clients use, and they all get great results out of it.

I personally have managed to achieve exactly the same results with Thrive Landing Pages, and Thrive is an awful lot cheaper, but it’s just going to be a matter of preference for you.

OptimizePress

If you’re looking for a complete bells and whistles option that gives you absolutely everything you need, OptimizePress is perhaps the best one to go far. It is quite expensive, but it is the most comprehensive option currently available. You can use OptimizePress to create marketing sites, landing pages, sales pages, and option forms. You can use it to do anything that you need to do when it comes to growing your list, and you can do it all in one place. That is incredibly useful.

It is a little expensive, and it’s not necessarily the best at doing all of the things that it does.

It’s useful because it’s so comprehensive, but it is quite expensive, and it’s not necessarily the best way of doing it.

SumoMe

Another incredibly useful tool to use is SumoMe, which is a great list building plugin. It also has a lot of ways of building and boosting your traffic as well as growing your list. It’s very easy to integrate with Google analytic. You can create heat maps and use the highlighter, which are really useful for growing both your traffic and list.

Big bonus for this one: it’s free!

There are paid elements that you can add on, but you don’t have to and the free version works perfectly well.

Optin Forms

Finally, if you’re looking for an option to build your list that doesn’t involve popups (because I know a lot of people hate popups), Optin Forms is a fabulous alternative. It doesn’t involve any popups whatsoever. Instead, it uses really discrete and very well-placed option forms across your website to entice people to sign up to your list at the best opportunity. You can put them in side bars, menus, blog posts, etc. There’s so many ways you can integrate these forms into your site that make it really easy for people to sign up to your list, but doesn’t bother them with constant popups.

Looking To Supercharge Your List Building Efforts?

Check out The Divine Blogging Design, my signature Content Marketing service designed with list building in mind. This monthly service provides you with regular content for your blog and social media, as well as optin freebies and content upgrades.

How To Avoid Burnout And Why We All Need Minions

You may have noticed there was no Vlog/Blog last week. There is no vlog this week either, although I am blogging. The reason for this is incredibly simple…

I lost my voice.

Totally.

I’ve been battling a nasty cough for about a month now. Last week I had to rearrange client calls because I wasn’t audible over the phone. I was so bad by the end of the week, I caved in and took Thursday and Friday off completely. Thankfully after two days followed by a weekend off to recover I’m feeling better. Unfortunately, my voice isn’t quite back to normal yet, the upshot of which is that the day I was planning to spend batching new content a week and a half ago never happened.

Which means there are currently no vlogs scheduled.

I could have avoided this sorry state of affairs were it not for one painful and seemingly unavoidable element of entrepreneurship: burnout.

Why We Burnout..

When you run your own business, everything rests on your shoulders. There are a million things to do and, if you are anything like me (i.e. a total control freak), you will dislike handing off most everything to people who could help you with it.

You do everything yourself.

Because it’s easier to do it yourself than try to explain what you want to someone else. This always seems to be true. Even when they already do the same thing for other clients. You’ll do a better job of it than they ever could (even if they’re a pro at that particular thing and you are not).

And there’s never enough time.

So taking time off (especially unplanned time off due to illness) isn’t an option.

Time is finite, and you already have too much work to fit into your days. If you take a day off – just one day off – that’s a whole day of work you somehow have to shoehorn into another day. A day overburdened with work of its own.

Besides, time off is for pussies and slackers, and you’re neither.

You’re a total boss.

Until of course you lose your voice, can’t record your content, can’t speak to your clients, and suddenly find yourself incapable of sitting upright at your desk without passing out on your keyboard, (which melts due to the waves of feverish heat rolling off you).

True story (keyboard melting aside).

How To Avoid Burnout…

Avoiding burnout would seem to be very simple: don’t work too hard.

It’s easier said than done.

For years I have struggled to spend weekends doing anything other than work. The fact I’m a workaholic, and I don’t have a family – no spouse, no children – doesn’t help. There’s nobody to claim my time, drag me away from my work, or give me something I want to be doing more than work.

It’s just me, Dexter (happy as long as he gets a walk and fed regularly) the Cat Mafia (a small army of cats who live in my neighbourhood and visit regularly).

I have friends and family I see, but I’m a terrible hermit and most of my friends live far away, so I’m lucky if I spend a day out every week with other people.

I also have the nasty habit of working every waking hour. I go from my bed to my desk, pause only to eat, walk and feed the aforementioned dog, before going back to the desk and from there directly to bed.

If I pause to watch TV, it’s while I’m eating my meals (my nutritionist tells me this is not good for me).

The only time I ever actually stop working and switch off completely is when I’ve been at it so long I burnout, and there’s no other choice.

I have to stop.

By that stage, I feel like hell, and it takes me several days, sometimes weeks, to recover.

I know how to avoid this: have set working hours and don’t exceed them; rest rather than work during my off hours; take weekends off; go on holiday occasionally and have a whole week (shock, horror!) away from the business.

I haven’t had a week off all year. In fact, until last week when I took Thursday and Friday off, I hadn’t had more than two days off in a row all year.

The times I’ve taken two consecutive days off I can count on one hand.

Christmas was the last time I had a week off. I took two full weeks over Christmas and New Year, but I spent the second week batching content, so that doesn’t count.

Throughout the year I’ve been conscious that burnout was inevitable. It was looming. It was the unavoidable darkness on the horizon.

It’s not like I wanted it to happen, and did, in fact, make progress in staving it off, but it wasn’t enough.

I still work most weekends. I still work through the evenings on weekdays. Yesterday (Monday) was my first day back after being ill.

I was at my desk working until 11.30pm.

Why?

Because I took two days off last week, and I have client deadlines.

Why We All Need Minions…

I’ve spent the majority of this year trying to put in place the right people to support me in my business and ensure I’m not carrying the burden of everything. I started with all my technical stuff at the very beginning of the year.

The website and anything related to optin setup, sales funnels, etc. are now handled by the fabulous Simon Jennings and co. over at Roots Creative.

A couple of months later I hired a cleaner. They worked for an agency and turned out to be crap, so I sacked them and hired a BETTER CLEANER, her name is Nicola, and she’s often accompanied by Katie. These ladies are the bomb; I love them both to death. My house is spotless, my stress levels have plummeted as a result, and I never have to do anything to achieve this zen-like state of domestic bliss.

After months of searching for a good VA to handle my newsletter, I finally found Faye, of Faye PA, at the end of May.

I’m in the process of deciding who should be dealing with my social media and exactly what I want my focus there to be.

There’s a lot of work in my business that I have to do myself. The writing I do for my clients is all on me. But the other elements (admin, accounting, technical stuff, etc.) that I don’t need to do myself. There are other aspects of client work beyond writing (i.e. graphic design work, scheduling, etc.) that I can (and plan to!) delegate.

The key point here is really very simple: if you run a business, as an entrepreneur, solopreneur, mumpreneur, papapreneur, or the leader of a small empire, you need minions.

No, not the film.

I’ve never seen the film, I really should.

I mean actual living, breathing, excellent-at-their-zone-of-genius minions. And I use the term ‘minions’ with love. It’s not a derogatory statement; I view my minions as invaluable members of my team with demi-god-like status. I’m not talking slave labour here. In fact, I strongly advise you avoid the cheap options (like Fiverr) to fill positions that require regular work.
Get someone who is as good at their Zone of Genius as you are at yours. Someone who will do a bang up job, rather than a mediocre, just-about-passable job.

The aim here is to entirely hand off as much as possible to other people who will ideally do it better than you could. Expect to pay them appropriately. I have no qualms about paying all my minions the rates they ask for because I know they’re worth it. The time, stress and worry they save me make them worth it.
Avoiding burnout is worth it!

So, How Come I Burned Out, Even With Minions?

Simple: I don’t have enough minions yet.

It’s taken me seven solid months to find the right people and get them in the right positions. I’m now utterly delighted with my cleaners, but they’ve only been working with me six weeks. Before that, I had several frustrating months trying to find someone, hiring someone, realising they weren’t right, and starting the search all over again.

A similar thing happened with my VA. I’ve been trying to find someone to handle my newsletter for two years. I’ve hired four people to date. The first three didn’t work out. There were various reason for this, but I finally have someone who is reliable and does a good job, but that has also only happened in the last six weeks.

At present, I’m still carrying the burden of all the writing that needs doing in the business. Not only client work, but my own content marketing creation. When I’ve hit a particular milestone, I’ll be hiring another writer, to take over some of the writing for The Write Copy Girl itself, and also some of my client work.

I don’t intend to work a 60+ hour week indefinitely!That’s still a way off, but it’s part of the plan. I’ve realised that if you genuinely want to avoid burnout altogether, to never have to endure it again, you need to build to the point where one of two things happens:

  1. You have talented minions that relieve you of as much of that massive burden as they can.
  2. You structure your business in such a way that the majority of your income is passive and the actual work you have to do is limited to a manageable amount (i.e. you are not exclusively trading your time for money).

If you are exclusively selling your time for money (as I currently am), you will naturally end up working every hour available because it’s the only way to earn enough to live comfortably.

The only entrepreneurs I know who are an exception to this, are those with additional income sources – other jobs that provide a salary, spouses in full-time employment (who earn the bulk of the revenue for the family), trust funds, etc.

Money Matters, Burnout, And The Issue Of Troublesome Clients

An additional problem I’ve faced this year has come from the customer side of my business. I had two major clients vanish on me at the start of the year without paying their bills. I’d done the work (and in both cases, it was a lot of work), they’d paid a deposit initially and were due to pay in full on completion.

They completely disappeared.

Had they been small clients it wouldn’t have been a problem, but between them, they represented over £5K of lost income.

I did the work, but I never got paid for it.

That threw my cashflow into crisis, left me scrabbling to take on a lot of extra work on short notice to cover it, and also meant I had to postpone some work I was having done on the website while I sorted it out.

All of this added up to a lot of stress, a lot of extra work, and inevitably, burnout.

Since then, I’ve overhauled my payment system to ensure this never happens again. I have made up the missing money elsewhere. I’ve reached a point where that rather significant bump in the road is in the rear view. But it took its toll. It’s only in the last month that I’ve been able to breathe easier and slow down a bit.

And of course, the second I slowed down, I was hit with the mother of all coughs that stubbornly refused to go away.

Why Slowing Down Makes You Feel Worse

If you’ve been powering through for a while and you finally find a way to slow down, by cutting your workload, being stricter with yourself when it comes to taking time off, or hiring some much-needed minions, expect to crash and burn.
I know for a fact I actively perpetuate the problem by stubbornly refusing to slow down for as long as physically possible. I keep on powering through because as tired as I am, I know the second I stop (or even slow down) I’ll feel a lot worse.

The least I can expect is a severe migraine that lasts several days. The worst is a cold/flu that knocks me off my feet for a week or more. If I’m really unfortunate, I get depressed. None of these outcomes is desirable. In fact, I’d do anything to avoid them. So I just keep working.

My warped logic tells me that stopping will make me ill, therefore, I shouldn’t stop.

The reality, of course, is that if I managed to stop for short periods on a regular basis, I’d never have the problem to begin with.

In the long run putting such measures in place will ensure you avoid burnout. It will ensure you are much healthier and happier. This, in turn, will help your business prosper.
But if there’s one lesson this year has taught me well, it’s that getting to that point isn’t easy. You need to be willing to rethink how you do things. To try new ways and, if they don’t work, try, try again.

Burnout is an absolute bitch, and it’s no way to live. Endlessly swinging from the seemingly endless grind of the hustle to the exhausted catatonia of burnout, and back again, is exhausting. It’s terrible for your health (mental and physical), your wealth (it undermines your earning potential) and the growth of your business (you can’t do your best work if you’re constantly stressed or suffering burnout).

My mission in life has become discovering the perfect system of managing a flourishing service-based business without having to pay the price every few months.
I’ll keep you posted! In the meantime, if you have any tips or advice for avoiding or managing burnout, I’d LOVE to hear them!

5 Mindset Issues That Are Giving You Genuine Writer’s Block

In addition to being a content writer, I am also a fiction writer. And when it comes to fiction writing, I actually don’t believe in writer’s block. Before you jump down my throat and tell me that block is ‘totes a thing’, a distinction that needs to be made between a situation that renders you incapable of writing (i.e. block), and a situation that renders you unwilling to write (i.e. stress, exhaustion, procrastination etc.).

Most of the time when people say they have writer’s block, they mean there’s something else going on, that’s keeping them from writing. Either that, or they just don’t want to write right now. The latter are using writer’s block as an excuse. It isn’t always a conscious excuse, it is often completely unconscious. They might genuinely believe they can’t write, for whatever reason, but the real reason, the crux of the issue, is that they just don’t want to right then.

But that’s fiction writing.

In business, when it comes to copyrighting, I have a quite different opinion. There are certain things that cause genuine writer’s block when you’re trying to write copy. And, by copy, I mean blog posts, website copy, social media posts; anything that requires you to write written content for your business. There are five main things that can give you genuine block, keep you from writing, and really hold you back in your business…

 

Whatever it is you need to write copy for (work or play related), there will always be times when you don’t want to do it. You’re always going to have to draw that distinction between the times you can’t write, and the times you don’t want to write.

If the situation is that you don’t want to write, and there’s something you’ve simply got to write, whether it’s a blog post you have to get out, a sales page you have to finish, or a magazine article you have to write, and you really don’t want to do it, the best advice I can give to you is to just eat the damn frog.

That expression comes from a brilliant book by Byron Tracy called Eat That Frog. The concept is basically this: when you have a long To Do list, with one or several things on it that you really, really don’t want to do, you always leave the stuff you’re dreading until last.

You always put it off for as long as you can.

The trouble is, the longer you leave it, the worse it gets. It goes from being a tiny, little frog that wouldn’t have tasted great, but you could’ve got down quite easily, to being this huge, monstrous toad that’s just kind of sliming around in the background, looming over your shoulder. It’s grown horrific and is even more unpleasant to deal with when you finally have no other choice. Knowing you have to tackle it preys on your mind and leaves you feeling icky, so you’re really just prolonging the inevitable, and making it even worse.

So, if there is something that you don’t want to write, and you have to get it done, there’s no choice but write it, you can’t outsource it, or delegate, you absolutely must write it yourself… eat the damn frog.

Get it over with as quickly as possible.

That being said, there will be other times when it’s not a case of you not wanting to write (although that may play a part in it), but rather that there is something genuinely preventing you from getting the words down.

You really can’t.

It doesn’t matter how much you try, it’s just not happening.

In my experience there are five things that cause genuine writer’s block, that actually prevents you from writing and means you cannot physically write…

Writer’s Block Mindset #1 Overwhelm

When you’re completely overwhelmed, with so many things on your mind, so many things to do, and so much stress going on, your head just becomes too full. Your mind is buzzing, just going round in circles with all the tasks you have to get done, and the various other things you need to deal with in life.

Overwhelm makes it incredibly hard to focus on one thing.

It makes getting anything done ridiculously difficult.

When you’re suffering from overwhelm, writing a blog post can seem like the most impossible task in the world.

Even writing an email can seem impossible, because your head is too full of all the other things that you have to do. It feels like, no matter what you do, no matter how much you work, or how hard you try, you’re never ever going to get to the end everything, because there’s just too much. Everything becomes insurmountable.

The world is impossible to deal with it.

Now, the truth of the matter is, if you can focus on one thing at a time, and work your way through everything on your To Do List, you will get there eventually. But because are so many things on that list, or the things on it are so huge, it doesn’t feel like that. In the time it takes you to get one thing done (whether it takes an hour, an afternoon, a day, or a whole week) and crossing that one thing off your list, you realise that, while you were doing that one thing, five other things had to be added to the list.

That’s when overwhelm kicks in and you realise that you can’t physically get through the things you have to do fast enough, because there are more things constantly piling on, and your workload is just getting exponentially bigger, and bigger, and bigger, and bigger, and there’s no way to get to the end of it.

And your brain kind of short circuits when it realises this, because it’s a bit of a paradox; it’s an impossible situation. You find yourself thinking, “I have to keep working, even though I’m unimaginably tired and really don’t have it in me to work anymore, and not only will it never end, it’s going to keep getting worse…

Your brain just kind of short circuits when it realises this and basically says, “Fuck that, for a laugh. If I’m never going to get anywhere, I’m not doing it.”

Overwhelm gives you genuine block. It will stop you in your tracks. It will keep you from getting anything done, not just writing. And the only thing you can do is to find a way to deal with that overwhelm, to make it so that you no longer having an insurmountable amount of things to do. That you are no longer trying to deal with the impossible.

When your brain once again believes that it is capable of achieving what you’re trying to achieve, it will co-operate again.

There are many wonderful experts out there that can help you deal with overwhelm, so I’m not going to dwell too much on that. But, if you’re feeling overwhelmed, and you’re finding yourself incapable of writing as a result, don’t worry.

It’s not you, it’s not ‘in your head’, you’re not imagining it, and you’re not making excuses.

Overwhelm is a real thing that really happens, and it genuinely gives you writer’s block. Practice a little forgiveness: it’s not your fault, you just find a way to deal with the overwhelm.

Top Tip…

Running a business is inherently overwhelming. It took me a long time to figure out the only way to effectively deal with my own overwhelm in the long term was to find reliable people to outsource all the stuff I didn’t have to do myself. I now have an assistant who handles my newsletters, a great SEO guy who deals with my website and AdWords campaigns, and an accountant all working for me on a regular basis. I also have a core group of trusted experts who handle other things (like proofreading, art work, editing and even writing and research) as and when I need extra help in those areas.

You don’t need to spend a fortune on outsourcing to get some key things off your desk. Not only does it free up your time to focus on your own Zone of Genius, it drastically reduces overwhelm because you no longer have to do everything yourself. If you’re looking for someone to outsource your writing to, I offer blog writing, content marketing, and sales copy service for entrepreneurs…

Writer’s Block Mindset #2 Lil’ Old Me” Syndrome

You know that feeling you get, you’re sat there writing, and you suddenly think, “Wait a minute, who cares what I think? Who am I to be giving an opinion on this subject? Who am I to be giving advice on this subject? I know nothing! Nobody wants to hear what I have to say. Nobody cares about my opinions; not little old me!”

Lil’ Old Me syndrome is very much a confidence thing. It’s also a perspective thing. From your perspective, no matter how good you are, no matter how big your audience is, no matter how many followers you have, no matter how much praise you get, no matter how successful you become, you will always feel the rest of the world is somehow better. There are other people who are better than you. Nobody cares what you think, because you’re one of ‘the little people’, and nobody gives a crap about the little people.

It’s a completely understandable thing to think.

But what you have to remember is, it doesn’t matter how many people are talking about a subject. It doesn’t matter how many people are producing a particular type of product, or providing a particular service. It doesn’t matter how many people are offering something that is similar to what you’re doing, or writing about similar topics.

You have a very unique gift: your own personal perspective.

The thing about people is, we are all so beautifully unique. We’ve all had different life experiences, different emotional experiences, different career experiences, different personal experiences. And every experience we have shapes the way we view the world. So, the way you see your niche is unlike the way anybody else is the world sees it. Even if they know exactly the same things that you know. Even if they went to the same university, and studied the same course, worked at the same organisation as you, and had the same work experience. They’ve written about the same topics. They’ve done all the same things.

They’re still not going to see things like you do, because you are unique.

You are you.

And it doesn’t matter how little you think of yourself, compared to everybody else, or how ‘small’ you think you are. Your uniqueness, your viewpoint, that is the thing that makes you worth listening to. It’s not how successful you are, how big your audience is, or how big you are that’s important. What’s important is your unique perspective. And that has nothing to do with size. In this instance, size really does not matter.

Writer’s Block Mindset #3 Impostor Syndrome

This is related to Lil’ Old Me syndrome. “Impostor” syndrome happens when you feel like you are faking it. You aren’t really what you’re claiming to be. You’re presenting yourself as an expert in writing, or publicity, or marketing, or social media, or anything you can think of (whatever your niche is). By speaking about it, writing about it, talking about it, offering an opinion on it, offering products and services relating to it, you’re presenting yourself as an expert in that field.

Whether or not you use the word “expert” or not is irrelevant.

You are presenting yourself as somebody who is ‘in the know’.

And it’s very easy to feel overwhelmed by the burden of your own expertise (or the perception that you are an expert). You end up thinking, “Wait a minute. I don’t know what I’m talking about. I’m not an expert! I’m not really meant to be here. I don’t really have a clue what I’m doing!”

Impostor syndrome is a difficult confidence issue.

It’s tricky to get over.

And it doesn’t matter how long you do something for, or how successful you become. It can hit you at any time, this realisation that, actually, you don’t know enough.

There’s always going to be a wealth of knowledge out there that you do not posses. Even if you spent your whole life learning, you still wouldn’t know everything. And that is a peculiar quirk of the human condition: the more self-aware we are, the more aware we are of our own place in the world, and exactly how vast the universe is. Once you realise how small you, your knowledge and abilities are compared to the total sum of knowledge and abilities out there in the world, you feel like an impostor.

In comparison to the total pool of knowledge that is available on a particular subject, you are Jon Snow: you know nothing.

That level of self-awareness is good. It keeps you grounded, realistic, and encourages you to constantly learn and grow.

That is something everyone needs, especially in business: the drive to move forward.

But, it can also stop you dead in your tracks.

It can completely short-circuit everything, making you feel like it doesn’t matter how much you learn, you’re never going to know enough.

This is a really hard mindset to get out of, because once you get stuck there, nobody will be able to convince you you’re wrong. You believe you’re not an impostor. And impostors are subtle. They’re shifty. They’re not always obvious. The very word suggests subterfuge and trickery.

You don’t feel like you’re gate-crashing a party and everybody knows you’re on the guest list; you feel that you’re masquerading as a person who has every right to be there, and you’re the only person who knows it’s a lie.

People telling you you’re wrong, and you really do belong at the party, has absolutely no effect. In fact, it only confirms your worst fear: you’ve conned everyone into believing the lie.

It’s a really tricky mindset to get out of, because no external force can convince you that you’re wrong. It’s an internal struggle that you’re going to have to deal with. You need to find ways of proving to yourself that you are not an impostor, and you actually have every right to be at the party.

Writer’s Block Mindset #4 Perfectionism

I did a whole post on perfectionism, and how it stopped me from starting my vlog for nearly a year. But, basically, perfectionism causes block due to the fear that, no matter what you write, it’s never going to be good enough.

And you want it to be absolutely perfect.

So you start writing, and you realise what you’ve written isn’t as good as you want it to be.

And you stop.

You go back, and you try to rewrite it to make it perfect.

But, perfectionism is not an achievable goal. It’s not something that you can ever actually reach. It doesn’t matter how good you make it; it’s never going to be perfect. Especially not in your eyes.

What you end up doing is perpetually rewriting, rather than writing all the way to the end of something, and then editing it from start to finish.

Perfectionism doesn’t just give you writer’s block, it can give you block in all areas of business (and life). It’s a real problem in a lot of things, and it can happen to fiction writers too. You get to a point where you realise that what you’ve written is (from your perspective at least), crap. And, rather than finishing a draft of the blog post, or sales page, or whatever you’re writing, you get stuck.

It’s really important to just finish a draft, no matter how bad you think it’s going to be, so that you can take a step back, look at it objectively, see what needs improving, and slowly work through it until your reach a stage where you feel it’s as good as you want it to be (or at least, good enough).

This is something that really gets in the way of writing a lot: the concept that the first draft of anything should be good.

Because it really shouldn’t.

First drafts of anything are shit.

That is a virtually unbreakable law of writing: the first draft is never going to be any good. Because your first draft is not for finding the words you’re actually going to use in the end.

Your first draft is for telling yourself what you’re writing about.

In fiction, your first draft is all about telling yourself the story, so you know the story backwards and can then write it well.

Blogging is very similar.

You need to tell yourself what the blog post you are writing is about, before you can write it properly. In order to get to know it, you need to write a draft of it. You can’t write the first paragraph, panic because you don’t think that paragraph is any good. If you do, you’ll do one of two things: keep rewriting that one paragraph repeatedly, or abandon it completely. You might tell yourself you can’t concentrate, you have other things to do, that you’re too tired, or hungry, or hot, or any number of excuses, but the real reason is a voice, in the back of your head, or even buried deep, deep down in your subconscious, saying: “Well, that’s crap. The rest of it’s going to be crap.”

You forget you can rewrite things when you get to the end of them.

You think that, to get to the end of them, you must have the beginning perfect.

That’s the surest, fastest way to give yourself writer’s block.

Just write until the end, then go back and make it better.

Writer’s Block Mindset #5 The Tumbleweed Conundrum

The Tumbleweed Conundrum especially problematic when you’re blogging, vlogging, or doing any kind of content marketing.

You’re writing, but you don’t yet have an audience.

You’re posting blog posts and nobody’s really reading them.

You don’t have any traffic to speak of on your website yet.

You publish your blog post, get one or two, or maybe five or ten views, and you sit there thinking, “All that effort, all that time, all that blood, sweat, tears, crying, screaming, and so many crumpled up pieces of paper on the floor; what the hell was the point? Nobody’s even reading it.

You’re suddenly overwhelmed by the feeling that your writing efforts are pointless, nobody’s ever going to read what you’re writing, it’s never going to have any impact on your marketing, it’s not going to help your business. That feeling that nothing you’re doing is going to do any good, can really stop you.

Because writing is hard.

It’s really hard. It’s especially difficult to do it consistently, on a regular basis.

Writing is extremely difficult. And if you have an inherent belief (even a subconscious belief) that everything you’re doing, and all the effort, is just totally pointless, it’s extremely difficult to make yourself do it anyway.

But, the thing with The Tumbleweed Conundrum, is that you are never going to have an audience unless you have content. Nobody has a tonne of people visiting the site every day until there is regular, brilliant content on the site for them to read or watch.

You always start with the tumbleweed.

Everybody does.

The only difference is that some people are in a position to advertise and grow their audience more quickly. The tumbleweed doesn’t stay around for very long.

But, some of us don’t have the option to do that.

We might not have the funding available for advertising. Or we might want to spend money on it even if we do. There are various reasons we might not be paying to draw people in. And when that’s the case we have to rely on word of mouth, and networking. Getting the word out there ourselves, and that takes time.

It doesn’t happen overnight.

It’s a very, very slow process.

The tumbleweed can stick around for a while, I’ll be honest with you.

When you start blogging or vlogging, you are going to spend the first few weeks talking to nobody. You may even spend the first few months talking to nobody.

You just have to keep going.

Blog, or vlog, or post on social media as if you already have the audience that you’re craving. As if you already have all those followers. And as if the number of people you want to be reading your words are already reading them. That is the only way you will ever reach that number. It’s the only way you will ever find your audience.

Content draws people in.

Quality content draws people in a lot faster. And quality content is essential for keeping people once they find you. You can churn out crap, and loads of people will eventually see it. But, they’ll never come back for more, because it’s crap.

So, it doesn’t matter how difficult it is to get past the whole tumbleweed issue. It doesn’t matter how much you might be thinking, “Ugh. Nobody’s going to read it anyway! I’m just going to write anything and put it out there.”

It doesn’t work like that. You have to put out high quality, consistent content, even when nobody is reading it.

What’s giving you writer’s block? Are you struggling to write something right now? Tell me what you’re working on and the problems you’re having with it – I’d love to help get you unstuck!

5 Mindset Issues That Are Giving You Genuine Writer's Block

How To Use Content Marketing To Start A Business When You Have No Experience

I recently had a conversation with a friend of mine who was suffering a real low point after a lot of work-related stress. She was really struggling with the 9-to-5 grind, looking for a way to break free and find a healthier work-life balance. She asked how I’d ended up starting my business, whether I enjoyed it, and whether it had given me the freedom she craved. My answer?

Absofreakinglutely.

When I started my business it was for very similar reasons. Creating my own business has enabled me to manage the stresses of life and work far more easily. Life is a lot freer and a lot more enjoyable, because I spend all my work time doing something I absolutely love, and I’m in total control.

I work when I want, where I want, doing what I want.

Really, it’s just been an incredibly rewarding and wonderful experience.

That being said, it has been a lot of hard work. When I told my friend this she said,

“Oh, well, it’s not something that I’m thinking of doing now. I want to do it in the future, but I need to wait for 10 years until I’ve got enough experience.”

She genuinely didn’t think that it was possible to start a business unless you had a lot of experience doing exactly what your business demanded.

My question to her was simple: “When did I spend a decade working in a 9-to-5 job as a freelance writer before I set up a business as a freelance writer?”

That confused her for a minute until she realised that you can’t be a freelance writer until you ARE a freelance writer.

You can work as a writer, in various roles, in 9-to-5 jobs and corporate settings, but you can’t work as a freelance ANYTHING without first become a freelancer.

It’s physically impossible to start as a freelancer saying you have X years of experience working as a freelancer.

Entrepreneurship is much the same. Running your own business is a completely unique experience, and the majority of us start out without any idea what we’re getting into. We have life experience and work experience, but nothing prepares you for the challenge, thrill and slight insanity of running a business of your very own.

And if nothing can prepare you for it, how can you possibly have a decade’s worth of experience?

The question that grew from this was really simply: how exactly do you start a business when you have no ‘official’ experience, or the experience you do have is ‘unrelated’ to the business you want to create?

The answer is ridiculously simple: content marketing.

Let me explain…

When I Started My Business…

When I started my business it was just after I finished my PhD scholarship. My entire career up to that point had been in archaeology. I’d gone to university, done an undergraduate degree, and a master’s degree, then spent two years working in corporate archaeology. I’d dug all over the country, and in Europe. I’d gone back to uni to study for my PhD. Throughout my post-graduate studies I taught at University, so there was nothing in my background that screamed, “writer”.

My official experience was as an archaeologist, teacher and student. When I started my writing business my ‘official’ writing experience was nonexistent.

Despite having no official experience I had been writing in various capacities at a high level for years. Just going to university teaches you write to a very high standard. I’d had papers published. I’d been writing fiction. I’d had fiction published. So I had been writing for a very long time, but I had no official experience.

I’d had papers published in international archaeology journals.

And I’d had fiction published and self-published.

But despite years of writing, I had no ‘official experience’.

Why Seemingly Irrelevant Experience Is Never Irrelevant…

A lot of people find when they start their businesses (or find themselves thinking they want to start a business) and they can’t don’t have any official experience. And it holds people back. Like my friend, it’s often the thing that prevents people from ever getting started.

If you actually stop and think about the experience that you do have, you will usually discover something quite remarkable. Because the ‘thing’ you want to build your business around is likely something you are passionate about, something that you love, something you know you’re good at, your background will reflect it in one way or another.

Even if it’s not in an obvious way.

My friend’s background is in anthropology. The study of anthropology is really just the study of people. Branding is all about people: understanding how people think, what people want, what people like or need. It’s all about crafting individual brands that are unique to a specific person while appealing to a wider group of people.

So my friend actually understands the theoretical side of things and the mechanics behind how brands work extremely well because she spent so long learning about people and what makes them tick. It may not be a formal education or a decade’s worth of experience in graphic design or branding, but it gives her a unique perspective.

There are various other elements to her background that actually inform her new purpose, the career path that she now wants to take, and the businesses she wants to start. The problem was, she was looking at it from the perspective of, “I have no experience”, rather than asking,”How is my experience relevant to what I want to do?”

How To Turn Your Experience Into Your Unique Selling Point…

We can’t live our lives, move through the world, age and grow without gaining experience.

We all have experience in something.

You may have only ever worked a part-time job, or worked in a job that you consider to be dead-end, or horrible, or a generic office job. Perhaps you’ve been a cubicle monkey or a checkout clerk. Whatever you’ve done, you felt your job lacked meaning. Perhaps you had a very rewarding, very good job, but you’re now looking to shift careers and you feel you lack tangible experince for what you want to do moving forward.

You feel your experiences haven’t given you anything you could use to start a business. They were either meaningless or meaningless in the context of the new business reality you are trying to create.

Nothing Is Meaningless…

It’s insane that people think that their experiences are meaningless. Nothing in life is meaningless.

All of our experiences have meaning. Everything that you have done in your life, everything that you have seen, felt and thought, every single thing has led you to your present situation, to this moment in time, all of it had meaning. Something along the way drew you to want to start your business in your specific field, your specific niche, doing one particular thing.

You would never have got to that point of thinking, “Yes, I want to start a business doing this!” if your experiences hadn’t driven you to it.

For that reason alone, everything you have ever experienced has meaning.

So no matter what your official experience might be, you do have experience in your field. You just don’t know it yet.

Starting a business when you’re not able to say (for example), “I have 10 years of experience working as a professional writer”, or “I have 10 years experience working as a professional branding expert”, or “I have 20 years experience working as a marketing specialist”, can be tough. It’s be difficult to find a way to establish your business and yourself as trustworthy and knowledgeable in your field. Citing X number of years working in a particular job or field is an incredibly quick and easy way of establishing you know what you’re talking about.

It’s one line in a mini-bio that immediately tells people that you know your stuff.

It’s Not All About The One Liner…

The thing is, people are not convinced by a line in a bio.

They are convinced by what you say, what you do, and the presence you have as a business owner.

That’s where content marketing comes in.

Content marketing immediately helps you establish yourself as an expert in your chosen field. It allows you to demonstrate your expertise by providing informative, interesting, funny, or just plain invaluable content.

If you are giving people things that are of value to them, that (far more than a line in a bio) will convince them that you are worth investing in. Your content will convince potential clients that you knowledgeable, capable of fulfilling your promises.

How To Use Content Marketing To Start A Business When You Have No Experience…

So how exactly do you use content marketing to start your own business? It’s actually a lot easier than you might think, but there are several key things that you have to do.

Find Your Niche…

The first thing I suggest you do is to niche down as much as possible. Really define your business niche. One mistake I made when I was first starting out in business was failing to clearly define what I was doing.

I started out happily doing editing, proofreading, writing, illustrations, helping people with their books, design elements…so many different things!

They were related to each other within a general sphere of ‘writing and books’. I loved doing them, and was capable of doing them, but result, unfortunately, was that nobody really knew what I did.

My business message was all over the place because I was talking about so many different things.

When I niched down, and really focused on the one thing that I wanted to do more than anything else (writing) things started falling into place really quickly. When I niched it down even further I realised I could get incredibly specific:

The one thing I do is create/teach the creation of blogs/vlogs to help business owners and entrepreneurs harness the awesome power of content marketing.

When I got that specific, suddenly everything fell into place.

My business started growing astonishingly quickly.

So finding your niche is the first thing you need to do in order to establish a business using the Content Marketing Business Model.

One thing I will say is this: when you think you’ve niched down, take a while to think about it. Come back to it later and look at it again. Because I can almost guarantee you that you will not have found a niche. You will have found a broad subject area, like ‘writing’, and thought, “Yes! That’s my niche!”

When you actually stop to think about it, you realise that what you’ve come up with isn’t really a niche, and it encompasses loads of different things. You want to drill down as far as you can to get ridiculously specific.

Exactly what are you’re going to be doing? How are you going to be doing it?

 

Find Your Ideal Client…

The next thing you need to do is figure out exactly who you want to work with. I know a lot of entrepreneurs make the mistake of saying, “I’ll work with everybody. I’ll work with everybody. I don’t mind who I work with, I just want clients!”

I can understand that impulse, especially when you’re first starting out. I did it myself! At that stage in your business, you really just need to get money coming in. You’re quite happy to take on any work, with any client, anytime, anyhow, anywhere. Just to get money coming in.

But if you can be really specific about the exact type of person you ideally want to work with, and target all of your content to that specific person, so that’s most appealing to them, you will find that the overwhelming majority of the audience you grow will naturally be the people you want to work with most.

It’s really important to know who your ideal client is so that you aren’t writing content that’s aimed at just anybody. If you do that, you will end up with an audience made up of anybody and everybody. Tailoring your content to a very specific type of client allows you to build an audience that’s predominately made up of people you really want to work with, who will be the most interested in what you have to offer, who will find the most value in what you have to offer, and who are most likely to buy from you.

For example, my niche is writing content for entrepreneurs and small business owners. I could have simply left it at that and said, “I’ll write for any entrepreneur or small business owner.” To some extent, that is true. I do take on clients from all walks of life. But I got a lot more specific than that and decided that my ideal clients are female entrepreneurs/small business owners in their 20s and 30s who are:

  • Building a business based on something they’re truly passionate about.
  • Looking to use content marketing as the heart of their marketing strategy.
  • Want to ensure they’re always selling in a soulful manner.

They are my ideal clients, and all my content is tailored for them. Your ideal client might be very different.

RECOMMENDED READING ON FINDING YOUR IDEAL CLIENT: DID YOU KNOW YOUR BUSINESS IS BELOVED BY THE GODS

Tailoring Your Content To Target Your Ideal Clients…

Niche down to a very specific audience, for your very specific niche, allows you to target your content at a particular sector of a particular industry. Not only that, it allows you to target a particular subset of the people interested in that particular sector of that particular industry.

You get very targeted.

The more targeted you are in your content creation the more obvious it is that you know exactly what you’re doing, who you’re doing it for, and how you can help those specific people.

Imagine trying to explain to somebody how you can help them, but you’re not addressing them as an individual, you’re words are generic, and seem to be designed to convince anyone that you’re right for them.

How can you be a good fit for everyone?

This is exactly what happens when you’re writing a blog post or recording a video, and you’re trying to explain exactly what you can do for the person watching, but you have no idea who they are.

They could be anybody. You end up saying a message that is very generic. It has to be generic because it has to appeal to everybody.

If, however, your message is directed at a very specific person, you can get really detailed on exactly what it is that you’re going to be able to do to help that person. You can be really clear on the exact way your product or service can fix the problems in their lives, make their lives better, help them in their business/personal lives.

The more specific you get in your marketing messages, the more effective your marketing will be.

RECOMMENDED READING ON WRITING FOR YOUR IDEAL CLIENT: 10 TIPS TO ENSURE YOU’RE ALWAYS WRITING FOR YOUR IDEAL CLIENT

How Specificity Demonstrates Experience…

Not only does content marketing allow you to target a really specific audience/niche and deliver a really specific message, all of that specificity demonstrates your knowledge, expertise, and experience. It proves that you are the person who is most capable of helping that group of people in that particular niche do that one specific thing.

Being specific proves you are the person most capable of helping your ideal client when it comes to that one thing in that one niche.

Content marketing is a way for you to demonstrate your experience in a tangible way. People can hear it, watch it, and read it. You can provide them with solid evidence of your experience and your ability follow through on your promises.

That is something that a bio can never do.

So if you’re worried that you don’t have anything to put in your bio to prove your expertise, there’s nothing to worry about.

All you need to do is put together a really solid content marketing plan that proves your value, worth, and knowledge.

The more effectively you can do this, the easier you will find it to build your business.

Why Giving Away Free Content Is The Key To Building Your Business…

It may seem like a contradiction to offer free content to people. You may be thinking, “I’m running a business, not a charity! Why am I giving this stuff away?”

But the thing is, creating valuable free content in turn creates a place that your ideal clients naturally want to be. It enables you to create a space they will naturally gravitate towards. People will learn that you are the person to come to for this specific type of advice/method or form of amusement/entertainment – whatever it is you’re offering.

They’ll learn that you’re where it’s at.

They will come to you.

They’ll spread the word.

More people will come to you based on their recommendations.

You will naturally grow a brilliant audience.

Once you have a core audience of ideal clients who are in love with your free content, they will naturally ask for more.

They will be saying, “Wow! If your free stuff is this good, how good much your paid products/services be? I want more of this amazing stuff and I’m quite happy to pay for it, because you’ve given me so much value for free – I know that you’re worth it. I know that you can do it. Here, take my money, just give me more!

RECOMMENDED READING ON THE POWER OF FREE CONTENT: The Cake Construction And How To Use It

That’s a very simplified version of how content marketing works. It takes an awful lot of work (I’m not going to pretend it doesn’t). Content marketing isn’t an easy or a quick fix. But it is a very effective way of building a business.

So if you’re looking to set up your own business, doing something that you love, and you’re holding yourself back because you believe you are lacking the experience required to do it, don’t worry. The experience that you have had in your life will feed into what you are doing in some way, because your experience is what led you to where you are.

Where you are, is at a point where you want to start this business.

You can start a business when you have no experience. You don’t need experience. You just need cracking content.

The Cornfield Paradox: How To Fix The Biggest Lie In Marketing

When I started out in business, I followed a few coaches and business/marketing experts. One of the things I came across more often than anything else was the notion that ‘If you build it, they will come!’

If you’ve ever seen Field of Dreams, you’ll understand why I call this The Cornfield Paradox. In the film, Kevin Costner plays the title role. He hears a mysterious voice talking to him in his cornfield one night, telling him, “If you build it, they will come.”

Deciding the voice is onto something, he builds a baseball diamond in his cornfield, and the Chicago White Sox appear, magically solving all his problems…

The basic gist of this (and its relevance to marketing) is the notion that by creating something wonderful, you will automatically attract people.

If you create fabulous products or services, people will naturally want to buy them.

And if you create wonderful content, people will automatically find it and read/watch it.

 

It’s a brilliant and wonderfully inspiring thought when you’re a fledgling business owner, just getting to grips with the myriad things required to get a business up and running. You pull yourself along with this belief that all you have to do is create your business, and customers will magically find you.

The problem with this concept, and why The Cornfield Paradox is the biggest lie in marketing, is that it doesn’t work.

Do any of these instructions sound familiar:

Blog regularly – preferably weekly.

Consistency is key – decide on a schedule and stick to it!

You need to blog for SEO, that’s how people will find you.

High-quality content is the secret to a good Google ranking.

This is all good advice, but when it’s coupled with an ‘If you build it, they will come’ mentality, it is fundamentally flawed.

Why?

Nothing good ever happens in a cornfield!

As many of you know, I’m a fiction writer. I’m a fan of fantasy, horror and various other genres, and I can tell you categorically that every time a cornfield appears, in any context, bad things happen.

Field of Dreams itself is a terrible film.

Cornfields are not where you will find the magical solution to all of your problems.

Cornfields are where you will find axe-murderers, aliens, cannibals, deranged lunatics, paedophiles, and innumerable other unsavoury characters and problems.

Nothing good ever happens in a cornfield, and this often-toted piece of advice coaches are so fond of is no different. THE BIGGEST LIE IN MARKETING is the notion that all you have to do is build it and they will magically come.

Here’s a truth bomb:

You can create the most fabulous content imaginable, but if nobody knows it’s there, nobody will read/watch it.

You can regularly produce blogs or vlogs week after week, be utterly consistent, optimise everything for SEO, and have a phenomenal Google ranking, and you’ll still get nowhere fast, because your content marketing method is based on a fundamental lie.

But don’t worry, all is not lost, there’s an easy fix… 

The Origins Of The Biggest Lie In Marketing…

I believe this mega myth of marketing originated in the early days of online marketing when the ‘If you build it, they will come’ model actually worked.

It’s not even that long ago since this wasn’t a lie, but a marketing true. When the internet was still relatively young, if you created a blog, and filled it with quality content, people would naturally find it, because there wasn’t the insane amount of content and information in the modern-day.

If you go back as little as ten years, Google something (especially something in a niche market) wouldn’t get that many results.

Now, you can Google exactly the same thing and end up with endless pages of results. Consequentlyt, even if you’re writing about a very niche subject, the likelihood of your specific blog post being the post that a large number of people find – enough to grow an audience organically – is slim. Simply writing good content just isn’t enough to get you discovered anymore.

There’s too much information on the internet, too many competing sites, too many posts discussing the same topics you are, and until people have actually read or watched your content and got to know you a bit, they won’t have any reason to favour your website other all the others on the same subject. Your Google search ranking helps with this – getting on the first page of Google will make it a lot more likely you will be found, but this isn’t as easy as it sounds. It’s not a simple case of optimising everything with keywords because everyone is optimising everything with the same keywords.

SEO Isn’t Enough…

You’re not doing anything unique with your SEO, what is unique about your content is YOU.

SEO can’t convey your ideas and prove they are better (or at least different) to everybody else’s; why your methods are superior; why your products are unique or better than everybody else’s; why your services are better than everybody else’s; why your take on the world is worth them coming back and reading/watching over and again. It’s only once they’ve experienced you, come to know, like, and trust you, and bookmarked your site, that they’re going to automatically come to you when they see you’ve written about a subject.

Your Google ranking is important, I’m not saying SEO is not important, it is.

It helps you get visible, it helps you get found, but the problem with SEO is that there is a perception that all you have to do to create a successful business is have a website and create good content that’s SEO-optimised, so people find you on Google.

Just build it, and they will magically come…

It does not work.

There are three things that you have to do to make sure that your blog is successful (check out my post on The Golden Trident: Three Magic Steps For Kick-Ass, Killer Blogging for more info).

The third step for kick-ass, killer blogging is that you have to HUSTLE!

It’s not enough to write good content, you have to get out there and tell people about your content. Share your content, spread it to the four winds, so that as many people as possible become aware of your content.

If you do that, then they will come, but they won’t just magically come wondering out of the cornfield and find you simply because you’ve written something.

The Cornfield Paradox…

The paradox occurs because so many people who decide they want to start a business buy into the biggest lie in marketing. They get interested in business, they get invested, they start learning about marketing, and they come across all these coaches telling them that all they have to do is ‘build it’, and people will find them.

So they build it, and they wait.

And they wait, and wait, and wait, and…TUMBLEWEED!

Nothing happens. And a great many people in this situation, when they reach this point, conclude that the reason blogging isn’t working because content marketing doesn’t work.

They reach this conclusion fairly quickly.

They start blogging. They keep it up for a few weeks, maybe even a couple of months. At the end of that couple of months, they’ve poured their heart, soul, blood, sweat, and tears into a weekly blog post. They’ve published at the right time, consistently, and sent out a newsletter to their list.

Nothing is happening.

The reason nothing is happening is that they’ve just started out. Their list consists of their friends (who aren’t really interested in their business), and a couple of people they know who genuinely are interested in business, but aren’t necessarily interested in the specific part of business that these blog posts are discussing.

Becuase they’re so new, they basically have no list. The few people on it aren’t their ideal clients, and they aren’t reaching anyone new.

They’re writing great content, but they’re just writing it and leaving it there. They’re expecting people to find their content, because they built it, and when nobody does, they conclude that blogging doesn’t work.

It’s not a viable marketing option, so they stop blogging.

I understand why this happens, but the mistake (and the paradox) is that if you’re not blogging, nobody will find you, but blogging, on its own, is not enough to make people find you., okay? So, if you stop blogging, nobody will find you. If you blog, but don’t do anything to promote your blog post, nobody will find you. So, you’re missing a key part of the puzzle here, in that if you build it, and tell people about it, they will come, okay?

If you stop blogging, nobody will find you.

If you blog, but don’t do anything to promote your blog post, nobody will find you. So, you’re missing a key part of the puzzle here, in that if you build it, and tell people about it, they will come, okay?

If you’ve bought into the ‘If you build it, they will come’ mentality, you’re missing a key part of the puzzle: if you build it, and tell people about it, they will come!

How To Fix The Biggest Lie In Marketing…

You have to get out there, share your content on social media, build your online networks, advertise your content when needed, and comment on other people’s blogs. Take the time to read their posts and leave a genuine comment; let them get to know you. Get them interested enough in you and what you’re saying that they click through to read your own blogs, and comment in return. Tweet out your posts, share them on Facebook, Instagram, and any other platforms you have.

And here’s the important part: you don’t just need to share your blog posts specifically.

You need to spend an awful lot of time simply building an online presence.

Whether you do it yourself or pay somebody else to do it for you, you need to be an active online presence. You need to be a person who more than just their blog posts.

At the time of writing this, I am personally failing in this regard and have been for a couple of months. I’m sharing my posts, but nothing else. Why? I don’t have time. Business suddenly got a lot busier this year, my workload has more than doubled and I had to let a few things go for the sake of my sanity. I’m in the process of outsourcing everything I no longer have time for, but in the interim, my social media marketing is next to non-existent.

And it shows.

The massive growth I saw in the first quarter of this year stalled in the second. And it’s all because of a very simple question I guarantee your audience is asking…

But What Else…?

You can’t constantly say, “I wrote a blog, read it. I wrote a blog, read it. I wrote a blog, read it,” because people get bored.

Even if your content is absolutely fabulous if you never say anything other than, “Read my blog post!” at some point they’re going to stop because they are over-saturated.

This is especially true in business.

If you have a personal blog, it’s a bit different. The very nature of your blog posts means the information you’re sharing differs vastly; you’re sharing an insight into your life, sharing quite a lot about yourself. Your topics will change from week to week, and it will always be of interest to your followers because that’s why they’re following you. You might have a lifestyle blog, and they’re interested in your specific lifestyle, or a hobby blog and they’re interested in your latest creations, or it could be a photography blog and they’re dying to see your new photographs.

If you’ve got a blog that constantly has completely fresh content, this it isn’t quite as true. But if you’re writing a business blog and blogging about a specific niche subject in business, or you’re a coach blogging about business in general, and all you’re doing is telling people to read your blog posts, they’re going to hit a wall. They’re going to shut off and stop reading, because they’re thinking, “I’ve read five posts about this, and they’re great and everything, but what else?

This is the awful truth about the nature of our consumerist society.

People are always thinking, “Great, but what else?”

It’s the buy one, get one free mentality. You buy into something and expect to get something else as well for free.

You say, “Read my blog post!”

They say, “Sure! Great! I’ve read it. What else do I get?

This is how we evolved into a system in which list-building hinges on giving away freebies and opt-ins, because it’s not enough to write a post and at the end of it, say, “If you want to read more of my blog posts, sign up for my newsletter!”

Because the response will always be, “Great, I’d love to read more of your blog posts, but what else?”

There will always be a “but what else?”

The Golden Ratio…

The “but what else” where the cornfield paradox is concerned is telling people about you, and your business, and your blog, in such a way that you’re only expecting them to ‘buy’ into it a small part of the time.

The golden ration is 80/20.

80% of the time, you should let them get to know you, seeing what you do, and gain insights into your daily life.

You might ask them questions, share behind the scenes snaps, useful information beyond your own blog, inspirational quote or memes. You want to build engagement and get a conversation going. Craft a living, vibrant relationship with your online followers, so that they actually know you quite well outside of what you write in your blog.

If you can build that kind of relationship with your audience, and grow an engaged audience, they will happily read your posts week after week and you’ll reach a point where you don’t need to tell them you have new posts for them to read. They will learn what day you post on and go looking for them.

For example, there is a blog I read religiously, The Bloggess, and she doesn’t have to email me to tell me that she’s got a new blog post, because I automatically check her site weekly. I know new posts will be there and I know they’ll always be funny.

There’s a video reviewer that I follow, who puts out three or four videos a week. I’m not even on his newsletter list, because all his newsletter does is send me a link to his new videos, and I know what days he posts them, so when I’m sitting having my lunch on those days, I automatically go to his site to watch the videos while I’m eating my lunch.

The same is true for my favourite channels on YouTube: I know what days Denise Duffield-Thomas, and Marie Forleo‘s videos come out every week, so I go and look for them.

Why The Biggest Lie In Marketing Is A Paradox…

The Cornfield Paradox is paradoxical because it does and doesn’t work.

If you create content, if you’ build it’, people will come and you will develop an audience, but only if you go the extra mile and tell people you have built it. Tell people enough about yourself and what you have built to ensure they are interested enough to keep coming back and remain engaged, interested and reading/watching the content that you’ve put out.

Are You Struggling With Your Content Marketing?

If (like me) you find there simply isn’t enough time in the day to get everything done, and you’re at the point where you need to delegate some essential elements of your business, don’t worry, I totally get it. Content Marketing isn’t for everyone. It’s time-consuming, often tedious, and requires a phenomenal amount of time, effort, and expertise.

Why not let me do it for you?

Unsure about hiring a copywriter? I totally get that too. That’s why I offer all new clients a totally free blog post to test run my services before they decide whether to invest. Grab your free post (no string attached!) now!

Why Vlogging Is The Smart Choice For Those Who Hate Blogging

I was talking to a friend of mine recently and she said something that really gave me pause. She was really beating herself up over this and there was just no need. We were talking about my business, and the fact I spend all my time writing other people’s blogs for them. She commented that she hated blogging, absolutely hated it, and that she’d stopped blogging and started vlogging instead.

Before I could say what I was thinking, “That’s the smart thing to do if you hate blogging.” She said, “I’m just too lazy, so I make videos instead of blogging.”

That really made me stop and go, “Wait, what?

Lazy?

Of all the things she could have said about her wonderful video content, telling me that creating it made her lazy was the last thing I was expecting to hear. Her content is awesome, it gives her audience real value and very clearly positions herself as an expert in her niche. It does everything that good content marketing should do, yet she felt guilty for doing it.

As entrepreneurs, we carry a LOT of guilt. As female entrepreneurs, I think this is often even more evident, especially if we’re also mothers. We have guilt for not spending enough time with our friends, family, children. We work and work yet always feel guilty for not working more.

When we aren’t earning enough money we feel guilty for failing to support ourselves and our loved ones. When we do earn enough money we feel guilty because it doesn’t feel like we ‘earned’ it.

We have guilt for not having a ‘proper’ job, for getting to work from home, for spending our time doing something we love and calling it work, for working in our pyjamas, or on the sofa, or in the garden.

The guilt of being an entrepreneur is seemingly endless, and most of it is totally misplaced. Feeling guilty for choosing to vlog rather than blog is a shining example of this.

Vlogging isn’t the lazy option, it’s the smart option. Here’s why…

 

Why Vlogging Isn’t The Lazy Option…

Anybody that’s ever vlogged will know that it’s not an easy thing to do. Vlogging takes time. It takes effort, planning, and preparation. You still have to think about what topics you’re going to talk about, and exactly what you’re going to say. In reality, vlogging isn’t that much different to blogging. There’s only one difference: if you’re not working off a script and just do everything off the cuff, straight into the camera (as I currently record my videos), then you don’t have to take the time to sit down and write your posts.

That really is the crux of the difference.

When you blog, you have to write a blog post.

But when you vlog, you can sit and talk at a camera until you get the words out, in a way that expresses what you’re trying to say, in a way that you’re happy with.

You can edit your videos after the fact, and add pretty little bells and whistles (intros, music, animations etc), but it’s essentially the same process as blogging.

If you’re writing a blog post, you write it, then edit until you’re happy with it.

And if you’re recording a vlog, you record a video and edit until you’re happy with it.

I found it really quite upsetting that my friend was doing herself down and thinking of herself as ‘lazy’ for choosing to vlog rather than blog.

“That’s not being lazy,” I told her. “That’s playing to your strengths.”

She sounded so relieved to hear me say that. To realise that she no longer had to think of herself as a lazy person for choosing to vlog rather than blog.

If you’re vlogging rather than blogging, you’re not being lazy.

If you hate blogging, and if you’re forcing yourself to write blog post after blog post, week after week, and you really cannot stand it, you have two choices.

  1. Hire me to do it for you…
  2. Start a vlog.

If you find it easier to talk into a camera, and express your thoughts, opinions and expertise straight down the lens, rather than trying to find the time and energy to pour it all onto a page, go for it.

That’s not being lazy, that is playing to your strengths.

That is the smart way of running your business.

The Realities Of Content Marketing…

Content marketing takes an alarming amount of time, energy, and effort. It takes a lot of creative juices.

The key to good content marketing is to make sure that you do it in the way that best suits you. That may mean paying somebody else to do it for you – that’s fine! But it may mean doing it yourself. If that’s the case, you should be doing it in a way that you are most comfortable with. For my friend (and for a lot of other people), videos are the best medium. They are more comfortable talking into a camera than they are sitting down and trying to write. There are loads of great reasons to start a vlog. I’ve said it before and I will say it again…

Creating video content will give you so much more value than just creating written content alone.

If you’re recording your videos off scripts, then you already have a written version. If you’re not using scripts, you can simply get your videos transcribed, and you’ll end up with both a written and video version. Your video can be turned into podcasts, blog posts, social media posts, memes, Snapchat stories, Instagram stories, the list goes on…

Vlogging is the smart form of content marketing hands down: it’s so much more versatile and powerful than blogging alone.

Starting a vlog for your business is a great idea, even if you love writing. I ADORE writing, and I still record my main content in video format.

Play To Your Strengths…

Just to be absolutely clear, even if your sole reason for vlogging is that you hate blogging, that is one of the best reasons to start a vlog.

If you are happy recording videos and you hate writing blog posts, which one do you think you’re going to be better at?

Which one do you think you’re going to do more frequently and more consistently?

If you are comfortable recording videos you are far more likely to do it. Your content creation will be more consistent, you will create higher quality content than you would if you were trying to write when you’re uncomfortable with writing, don’t like writing, bored with writing, or you just don’t have time to write.

You will end up with stronger content if you create it in the format you are most comfortable with than if you try to force yourself to create it in the format you think you should be using.

The Blogging Trap…

So many people get caught in the trap of thinking that they have to blog. There is a common belief in business that if you’re not physically writing a blog every week, you are somehow failing. In marketing that is what we are constantly told, “You have to be blogging. You have to be blogging. You have to be blogging.”

I’m not going to disagree with that sentiment. You should have regular content coming out on your blog.

But how you choose to create that content is entirely up to you.

The smart thing to do is to create your content in the way that suits you best. So if recording a video is easy for you and writing a blog post is a nightmare, record videos. If paying somebody else to do it for you, and totally take it off your hands, is what is going to make you most comfortable with content marketing, do it.

Do whatever makes you feel like you are in control, and that you can actually use content marketing successfully without breaking your brain…

The Smart Choice For People Who Hate Blogging…

Please, please do not think you are being lazy if you are recording video content. Video content is not the easy option, it’s not the lazy option, it is the smart option for so many reasons.

There are a million things in life that you can use to do yourself down, and make yourself feel crappy. We’re very self-critical, and nit-picking the way that you choose to do things, the way you live your life, the way you run your business is all too easy. There are so many reasons to be self-critical.

This is not one of them, I promise you.

Vlogging, not the lazy choice.

Vlogging is the smart choice.

Looking to start your own vlog? Download my free Vlogging Workflows now and get super productive in your video marketing efforts…

How To Build A Powerful Vlog For Your Business Vlogging Workflows

Boundaries And Butt Plugs: How To Rule Like An Empress

As entrepreneurs, we all have to deal with clients, customers, and other business owners. In order to ensure your success, a healthy work/life balance, and your sanity, it is really important that you have clear boundaries in place for interacting with other people in a professional capacity, and dealing with their requests.

It’s absolutely vital that you establish clear boundaries and enforce them.

Where exactly are the lines in your business?

What are you happy to do?

What makes you uncomfortable?

The Rookie Mistake All Entrepreneurs Make…

Like most entrepreneurs, when I started out in business, I really didn’t have any boundaries. I took on any and all work, no matter what it was. My focus was on bringing in some money. I wasn’t that particular about where that money came from, and a lot of the stuff that I ended up doing was really quite soul-destroying work. As a result, I put up with a lot of crap from customers in terms of what they expected from me, what they were willing to pay me, and whether they were willing to pay me at all.

In the early days, I was constantly inundated with emails. I had texts coming in late at night, people calling and texting me when they knew full well that I was on holiday. You name it, I had to deal with it. And that’s just the realities of being an entrepreneur to some extent; everybody has to deal with this sort of thing at some point. For most entrepreneurs, it’s a difficult issue, especially initially. You don’t know that it’s okay to set clear business boundaries at the start, it feels like a luxury you can’t afford. And so you end up completely swamped, just like I was…

Every time I logged onto Facebook I had to deal with a tsunami of messages. Work spilt over into my personal life, with requests from people I knew from my online business networks flooding my personal profile. Work swamped what my friends were doing, and Facebook stopped being something I did for fun, to catch up with people, and became just another aspect of work.

That is really draining.

The Business Boundary Epiphany…

At some point I had a bit of an epiphany.

The real problem wasn’t my clients, but me. I never actually told people when their expectations were unreasonable or attempted to stop unwanted behaviour.

Instead, I quietly brooded over their rudeness and increasingly unrealistic expectations. That feeling gradually grew worse, until finally, it drove me a bit mad. Overwhelm set in. I struggled to cope with the mounting pressures were being imposed upon me.

It’s Not You, It’s Me…

My clients weren’t treating me badly because they were bad people, they were simply exploring the limits of what they could ask of me. When they encountered no resistance, they pushed further. I never articulated my displeasure when they made unreasonable demands, refused their requests, or ignored their calls and texts. My response to their behaviour was telling them it was all okay.

That their expectations were reasonable and would be met.

In the end, all I needed was some clear boundaries.

I was really resistant to this. It felt rude of me to draw lines and refuse anything. There was also this immense fear that the second I tried to impose any kind of order, I would lose all my clients and my business would fail.

As it turned out, the opposite was true. Setting clear boundaries and learning to handle shit like a boss, and rule my tribe like an Empress, has seriously up-leveled my business. It’s left me with more clients, a constantly growing tribe, higher profits, more free time, and far less stress.

And the best part? All I had to do was impose three simple boundaries…

My New Business Boundaries…

In the last year I’ve really tightened up on my boundaries, what I am willing to let people get away with, and where I draw the lines and say, “Hang about, no, that’s not on.”

This includes some really practical lines, like…

  1. Having payment terms in place that everybody has to sign before I start working for them.
  2. Having a clear limit on the amount of email support that certain clients get.
  3. Rewrite limits – very clear guidelines on what is an acceptable amount to expect me to rewrite, and what will incur an extra charge.
  4. No Skype. I do not do Skype, which surprises a lot of people because I’m quite happy doing videos. It’s got nothing to do with me being seen on camera. I have a personal issue with Skype; I do not like it. Skype makes me very uncomfortable.
  5. Everybody I work with signs either terms of conditions or a contract, depending on the nature of the work that I’m doing for them.
  6. If a client doesn’t pay, I don’t work. Gone are the days I would happily keep working for people, even when they hadn’t paid me. This was usually on the promise that payment was coming, at some point. I have a lot of clients on monthly retainers who pay me a set amount monthly. If they don’t make their payments, even if there’s a perfectly understandable reason, and I’m totally fine holding off for a month or whatever is needed, I don’t do any other work in the interim. Work stops until they’re back on track with the payments.

The last was the one thing that felt like an unreasonable expectation on my part. I really had a bad money block surrounding the expectation that people pay me on time. It seemed acceptable to me, almost inevitable, that people wouldn’t make payments when they promised, and that they would still expect me to keep working, even if payment was absent. I’m really not sure where this comes from, as I detest being late making payments myself, and get terrible guilt when I am. I’d never expect a service to continue while I was behind on my payments.

Yet when it came to clients, I really struggled to hold them to the same standards.

I’ve since accepted that it’s reasonable to expect people to pay on time, and if they don’t pay on time, whatever work you’re doing for them has to pause until they have paid.

The Fear…

For the most part when it comes to imposing business boundaries, people are very understanding and accepting. They don’t generally bat an eyelid.

You let them know what the terms of working with you, and they simply accept that those are the terms under which you can work together. Most people will accept it, and most of those who don’t won’t kick up a fuss. As long as you’re clear with them at the outset they’ll simply say, “Oh, that’s not how I like to work. I’m looking for somebody that does it a little differently.” And that’s the end of it. They move on, you move on, and nobody comes to any harm over it.

Every business has expectations in terms of what the client can do and what the business can do, dos and don’ts.

All businesses have (or should have) boundaries.

People get really worried when it comes to enforcing boundaries because they’re convinced they’re going to lose all their clients, and won’t be able to attract more business. But from my personal experience (and from talking to other entrepreneurs and business owners), most people will be perfectly fine whatever boundaries you set.

The few who aren’t, you are better off without, and it’s not going to kill you to replace them with people who are happy to work with you on your terms.

The Benefits Of Setting Business Boundaries…

Getting rid of clients who are difficult to work with, even if you really, really love them, it’s an upsetting process. But at the end of it, you will find that your life is a lot less stressful for not having to deal with them anymore, and not having to contend with their unrealistic expectations.

In addition, I found that my profits shot up as a result of enforcing my business boundaries and getting rid of difficult clients, for two reasons:

  1. I made sure that everyone was on my current pay scale. I put my prices up when I re-branded as The Write Copy Girl in 2016, but my existing clients remained at the prices that they signed up for. The only people who were paying my new prices were new clients. That all changed at the start of 2017 when I put everybody up to the new pricing scheme.
  2. It created more time in my schedule and made me a lot more efficient. The best benefit of enforcing boundaries is how much better I’ve got at managing my time since I’ve put boundaries in place in my business. Curtailing unrealistic expectations and demands has allowed me to focus on doing what I do best – writing. I work fewer hours, and the hours I do spend working are far more productive, and far more in line with my zone of genius.

When People Raid Your Borders…

Just because I have boundaries in place doesn’t mean nobody ever pushes them. There are still times I get the odd raiding party crossing the border, smacking me upside the head with a coup stick, and running off doing a victory dance. People naturally push the boundaries, partly because it’s human nature to need to see how far you can go, and partly because a lot of the time, people don’t actually realise they are overstepping their bounds.

You may have told people a boundary is in place but until they actually step over it, they might not realise a particular action or request is crossing the line. A polite reminder is usually all it takes to get them back over that boundary and ensure that they don’t step over it again. Once they realise it’s not acceptable for them to do a certain thing, they don’t do it again.

Despite my wonderful new boundaries I still get people asking things that are, for me, over the line…

“Can you write my thesis for me?”

No.

“I can’t actually afford to pay you, but working for me for free will be great for your business. It will really raise your profile, and you’ll gain loads of new clients.”

No.

And (my personal favourite, and the inspiration for the title of this particular post)…

“I need you to test drive our new butt plug. I think the first-hand experience is going to really add authenticity to the piece.”

Facepalm.

The Three Essential Business Boundaries…

I’ve chosen those three particular examples for a reason – each one exemplifies one of the main things that you will have to deal with when it comes to running your business like a boss (or as I prefer to think of it, when it comes to ruling your tribe like an empress). If you get crystal clear on these three boundaries, it will make it very easy for you to decide when a request or expectation is out of bounds, and enforce that decision.

#1 The Code…

In my first example, I mentioned that I occasionally get people asking me to write their own work for them. I do a lot of work as a ghostwriter, wherein I allow people to put their own name on my words, and pass them off as their own.

I’m perfectly happy with that arrangement, I have no issue with it. There are many reasons people need a ghostwriter, and I’m more than happy to let clients take the credit for my work. Discretion and confidentiality are part of the service.

But there are certain situations when I am not okay with that.

For Example…

The best example is when it comes to academic work and a student approaches me asking, “Can you write my thesis for me?” or “Can you write an essay on this for me?”

And it is blindingly obvious they want to hand my work in at University as their own work.

That conflicts quite severely with my moral code. The concept of knowingly writing someone else’s work for them, and allowing them to hand it in so that they can gain their degree, off the back of work that is not their own, does not sit with me well morally.

I have a real ethical issue with that; it’s a line I just don’t cross.

What Is A Code?

Whether you are Dexter Morgan, Jack Sparrow, or Barney Stinson, you need a code.

A code is essentially just a set of guiding principles. Your niche may have specific ethics related to it, such as, the legal profession and medical professions have ethical guidelines. Depending on what your niche is certain things, from an ethical perspective, are legally required. But also, there are always going to be certain practises that you personally have an issue with.

Things that you can legally do as part of your business, but that you personally get the ick doing. You don’t like doing it.

This is the first boundary that you have to put in place: you need a code.

Explain it, and enforce it.

#2 Respect…

The second boundary you really need to get in place relates to respect.

Your time and expertise are valuable.

You are running a business, you are not running a charity (although you may have charitable elements to your business). You need to get paid for your time and work.

Now, you might decide to have certain things available for free – you might do pro bono work, such as, or it might simply be that you offer opt-in freebies, free worksheets, downloads, videos, and all your content is free.

There will be elements of your business that you are making freely available. But they are elements that you have decided ahead of time that you are going to create, and make available for free, as part of your overall business strategy, and you’re happy with that.

For example…

All of my content is available for free. I have a regular blog and a vlog with lots of free content on it. I have opt-in freebies available. In addition, I also give all new clients the option of having a completely free blog post to try out my service. That service is worth £55 and you get it totally free as a way of trying before you buy, because I believe that with the particular service I offer, it can be very difficult to make that leap of faith, and trust a writer to write for you.

You don’t know what their writing’s going to be like, you don’t know how well you’re going to work together, you’re not sure it’s going to be worth the money. There are various questions that potential clients have, which really can’t be answered by me reassuring them. It’s a lot easier (for them, and for me) if I show them what I can do and let them decide for themselves if it’s worth the investment.

So I quite happily work for free, in the sense that I will write one piece for free, to let people see how I work. But there are always going to be people who push that boundary…

They’ll come to me right off the bat and say, “I can’t afford to pay you to write my blog for me, but if you work for me there are loads of great benefits for you and your business. It’ll raise your profile, you’ll gain loads of new clients, you’ll get loads of new business. My business is really going places, if you get on board now, and help me develop it, I’ll be able to pay you in the future, once everything’s taken off. If you help me get there then that’ll be great for you.”

You’d be surprised how frequently people make that argument. They genuinely believe it’s in my best interest to work for them for free, or at a reduced price.

And they create a great patter; it sounds good when people pitch it to you, and it’s amazing how good an opportunity people can make working for them for free sound. They’ll throw statistics at you, numbers, promises of future payment, promises of all of their clients turning into your clients, and many other things.

And they’re empty promises. They have no way of guaranteeing what they’re saying will ever come to pass.

So you really need to be very clear on what you will willingly do for free, and what requires payment.

Free Advice…

It can be as simple as people asking for advice on your specialist subject. You might happily give them a bit of advice. Maybe because you think they’re a potential client and you want to let them know how helpful you can be. Or perhaps because they’re a friend and they need help. But there always comes a point when you have to say, “I don’t actually have time to answer that, but if you go and check out this blog post, or this video, or this free ebook that I’ve created, it’ll answer all your questions.”

You need to be able to point people to content containing the information they want or say to them, “That’s actually part of this service I offer/part of a product I offer. You can check that out here.”

People will do one of two things when you say that to them: they will happily run off and check out the thing you’ve told them about, or they’ll get annoyed with you for expecting them to go and find the information themselves, or pay for the relevant product or service, rather than you giving it to them for free.

That is a very good barometer for telling whether someone is a good person to work with or not. If they’re willing to read/watch the content you point them to, or buy the product or service you’ve told them about, hen they usually turn out to be a good client.

If they kick up a fuss at that point, and expect you to take extra time to explain to them individually, in-depth, for free, even though they can easily read it elsewhere without taking up more of your time, that’s usually a good indication they’re not going to respect your boundaries. They’re not going to respect your time, or your value, and that (generally) they’re just never going to be a good client.

If you want more great information on why you really shouldn’t barter for your time, you just definitely check out Denise Duffield-Thomas’s post on ‘Why You Should Stop Bartering‘. It’s a brilliant explanation.

#3 Your Comfort Zone…

It can be a good thing to step out of your comfort zone occasionally. It pushes you, it encourages you to grow and learn new things, but when you do it really should be your decision.

You should be deciding to step out of your comfort zone and try something new. It shouldn’t be a client, potential client, or a member of your tribe, who has put you in a position where you are outside your comfort zone, not by choice, but because they have put you there.

There are always going to be certain things that you’re not comfortable with doing. Whether it’s doing a service in a particular way, offering particular products, or just communicating with people in a particular way. I mentioned before I don’t do Skype, that is well outside of my comfort zone. I’m not comfortable with it, so that is one of my boundaries.

But there will also be times when clients will ask you to do things that are perfectly reasonable. They’re not unreasonable requests, but for you, personally, they’re not something you’re comfortable doing.

For Example…

I have one client who runs a sex toy site. They sell a range of different sex toys and I write their blog posts for them. That particular client always asks me for ridiculously fun posts… the differences between realistic and technical dildos, the wonder of breasts and how best to display and/or stimulate them, and most recent an awful lot about butt plugs. I’ve always been totally fine writing for them, I’ve never had an issue with it, up to a point, and they hit that point last week. But when they did, it wasn’t an issue, okay? I pointed out the line in the sand and said, “I’m quite happy writing for you up to a point, and this is that point.” And they said, “Oh, that’s fine, nothing to worry about.” And the suggestion was that I actually try it myself just to add that authentic note to the piece because they thought that a first person perspective would make the piece really authentic, and really good.

The differences between realistic and technical dildos… the wonder of breasts and how best to display and/or stimulate them, and most recent an awful lot about butt plugs. I’ve always been totally fine writing for them, I’ve never had an issue with it, up to a point, and they hit that point last week. But when they did, it wasn’t an issue, okay? I pointed out the line in the sand and said, “I’m quite happy writing for you up to a point, and this is that point.” And they said, “Oh, that’s fine, nothing to worry about.” And the suggestion was that I actually try it myself just to add that authentic note to the piece because they thought that a first person perspective would make the piece really authentic, and really good.

The wonder of breasts and how best to display and/or stimulate them… and most recent an awful lot about butt plugs. I’ve always been totally fine writing for them, I’ve never had an issue with it, up to a point, and they hit that point last week. But when they did, it wasn’t an issue, okay? I pointed out the line in the sand and said, “I’m quite happy writing for you up to a point, and this is that point.” And they said, “Oh, that’s fine, nothing to worry about.” And the suggestion was that I actually try it myself just to add that authentic note to the piece because they thought that a first person perspective would make the piece really authentic, and really good.

And most recently, an awful lot about butt plugs…

I love writing for this client, I’ve never had an issue with it…up to a point. And they hit that point last week.

But when they ran into my boundary, it wasn’t an issue, because I knew exactly where the line was, even if they didn’t. They asked me to do something, I thought about it, realised I was uncomfortable with it, and immediately drew a line.

I pointed to that line said, “I’m quite happy writing for you up to a point, and this is that point.”

They responded by saying, “Oh, that’s fine, nothing to worry about!”

The suggestion was that I actually try their new butt plug myself, just to add that authentic note to the piece.

Now, I have to admit, I have no problem with sex toys; I’ve got a drawer full of them, But there is a world of difference between being comfortable with something in your private life and being comfortable with it in your professional life. It would be a totally different scenario if I was writing a piece in my name, about my own personal experiences, and talking about things relating to sex in that context. I haven’t done it very often, but I have on occasion, if the occasion merits it and there’s really a good reason. I’m not averse to it. It doesn’t bother me. But there is a huge difference between being comfortable discussing your own sexual experiences as yourself and giving your sexual experiences to somebody else to pass off as their own.

For me that was just a bit awkward. I didn’t really like it.

But because I know that one of my boundaries is not agreeing to anything that puts me outside my confort zone, it’s very easy for me to decide what I will agree to. It’s easy for me to tell people when something is going too far, and I’m not willing to do a particular aspect of their request. Sometimes it’s a small element of a job, sometimes it’s the whole job and you have to turn down the client. In either case, there will always times when people ask you to do something which, for some people, might be perfectly acceptable. I’m sure there are writers out there who would quite happily do that and it wouldn’t bother them. But for me, it wasn’t comfortable, and I simply said so.

Charlotte York, Sex and the City - I Don't Wanna Be The Up The Butt Girl. Men Don't Marry The Up The Butt Girl.

That boundary meant it really wasn’t a big deal. I actually found the whole thing hilariously funny, as did the client – we had a good giggle.

You just need to make people aware of where the lines are, and when they’ve stepped over them, so they can rein themselves back in, and know not to cross that particular line again.That’s all it takes.

That’s all it takes.

Ruling Your Tribe Like An Empress…

The reason I refer to using these boundaries as ruling like an empress is because there are three fundamental things an empress simply does not do.

An empress does not, or rather should not, break the law, which is where your code comes in.

An empress always commands respect.

And an empress never demeans herself.

So these are the three core things that you have to keep in mind when it comes to boundaries in your business. Have a code, and stick to it; be respectful of your clients and expect them to respect you in return; and never do anything that makes you feel uncomfortable.

What are your business boundaries? Comment below and let me know – are you successful at enforcing them?Boundaries And Butt Plugs How To Rule Like An Empress

How To Make Soulful Selling The Passion Heart Of Your Marketing

I talk about the concept of soulful selling a lot, but I haven’t actually explained the term. This week I’m diving into the concept of soulful selling, and how you can use Soulful Selling to create a fabulous business that has your passion at its heart. This is the key to finally figuring out how to make your passion your paycheck, and you will be amazed by the transformative power soulful selling can have in your business.

The Hard Sell…

We’ve all been the victims or the hard sell at some point in our lives. You walk into a shop, quite content to browse a few things that you’re interested in, and you’re immediately accosted by a random stranger, who’s decided that you’re going to buy a specific product they are trying to sell. They proceed to shove that product down your throat. You likely have no interest in this item and, even if you did have an interest when you walked in the shop, you suddenly lose interest the second the sales rep start talking.

How about the cold calls that we all get? Out of the blue, on our personal mobiles, at peculiar times, from people expecting us to just hand over our money to a company we’ve never heard of before, and for a product or service, we know nothing about.

Even in the world of online marketing, we still get the hard sell. Random advertisements pop up for products that you’ve never expressed an interest in. You get emails from people you’ve never heard of before, never interacted with, and never seen. People who have scraped your email address off your website and randomly sent you a sales pitch. All of this is hard selling.

Courtship In Marketing…

Yes, we’re talking about the age-old concept of courtship.

Courtship really is the heart and soul of marketing. If you want people to buy from you, to hand over their hard-earned cash, you need to have a relationship with them first. It’s very rare for people to buy things from a person or company they don’t know, or to purchase a product or service they have literally only just heard about at the point of purchase.

Your customers need to get to know, like and trust you before they will willingly part with their money and buy from you. That applies to products, services, low-cost items, high-cost items – it applies to everything. In the world of online marketing, it’s really easy to get caught in the trap of thinking that all you need to do is build a website, set up an advert to drive people to your landing page, and the sales will come rolling in.

It’s not that simple.

The problem with that method is that it is a hard sell. Unless you are only targeting an audience that already knows you with your adverts, the people looking at your adverts, clicking through and seeing your landing page, are doing so without ever having experienced you and what you can do before.

They don’t know you.

They might like your advert, but they don’t know you well enough to like you (or your company/product/service) yet. They certainly won’t trust you. Their entire opinion of you is based on one advert and one landing page. Even if you have the best landing page in the world, if you haven’t taken the time to build a relationship with the people you’re trying to sell to, you’re not going to get very far.

Soulful Selling…

If you haven’t taken the time to introduce yourself and your business to your audience, and explain to them the value of what you’re asking them to pay for, you’re going to find it very, very difficult to sell to them. Soulful selling is the opposite of the hard sell. It doesn’t rely on you drawing in random people, who have never heard of you before and pitching a product or service to them. Instead, you take the time to create a place that your ideal clients are naturally drawn to.

You produce high quality, valuable content, completely free, targeted at a very specific audience – the people who you most want to work with. You grow an audience made up entirely of your ideal clients. Over time they get to know, like and trust you, through reading or watching your content. You have the opportunity to explain to them who you are, what you do, and why your products or services are valuable to them.

They come to understand the value your offerings will bring to their lives.

If you’re selling a particular product, explain to them what this product will do to transform their lives. Paint a vivid picture.If you’re selling them a service, especially a business service, you want to sell them on exactly what your service can do to transform their business, to earn them more money, to make their lives easier. These are all things that you cannot do on a hard sell. Once you get the hang of soulful selling, it actually becomes a very easy process, a very natural process. Your audience grows quite organically. You have to put a lot of effort into it, in the content creation. And in getting your content out there so the people know that it exists.

If you’re selling them a service, especially a business service, show them exactly what your service can do to transform their business, earn them more money, or make their lives easier. These are all things that you cannot do on a hard sell. Once you get the hang of soulful selling, it actually becomes a very easy process, a very natural process. Your audience grows quite organically. You have to put a lot of effort into it, in the content creation. And in getting your content out there so the people know that it exists.

It’s very difficult to create a vibrant, detailed, and believable picture when all you have to work with is a hard sales pitch.

How To Make Soulful Selling The Passionate Heart Of Your Business…

Once you get the hang of soulful selling, it becomes a very easy, very natural process. Your audience grows quite organically. Content creation requires a lot of energy, passion, creativity and time. Soulful selling is by no means the easy route. It’s also not enough to simply create fabulous content. You have to get your content out there, so people know that it exists.

But, once you start that ball rolling, you’ll find it snowballs quite quickly.

Compare the benefits of soulful selling to the spray and pray method of marketing. On the one hand, you have an ever-increasing tribe of ideal clients who know, like, and trust you and understand your value and the benefits of your products and services. They’re happy to hear your sales pitches when you make them, because the rest of the time you give them so much valuable content. On the other hand, your marketing rests on literally blasting out your message to everybody, and hoping that some of the people you reach are going to like you, even though they don’t know you.

By making soulful selling the passionate heart of your marketing, you can change your marketing message.

The hard sell is slightly cringe-worthy. It’s a random advert that might get clicked but is generally ignored, or quickly abandoned, because people don’t know you enough to care, or trust that you can deliver what you’re promising.

Soulful selling allows you to create a message that truly reflects your abilities and the benefits of your products and services. It’s a message your tribe anticipates and eagerly click on to learn more.

Make Your Passion Your Paycheck…

Soulful selling is the perfect way to infuse your marketing efforts with your own passion for your business. Your passion for your niche, for the one thing that you do, that nobody else can do quite like you do it. That, my friend, is what sells.

When people can see how invested you are in a particular subject, a particular area, a particular ‘thing’. Whatever your ‘thing’ is, let people can see how passionate you are about it, how much you love it, the depth of your understanding of it, and how invested you are in ensuring your business, products and services are the best they can possibly be. Let them see how invested you are in making sure that the members of your tribe have better lives as a result of your work.

Nothing compares to content marketing when it comes to achieving this.

Creating free content may at first seem like a bit of an oxymoron. Why would you give away your knowledge and expertise for free? It seems like you’re wasting your time, money, and resources, and spending and an awful lot of energy creating something that’s not really going to achieve anything for you. A lot of people think, “I can just run a Facebook ad. I can just run an email marketing campaign. I can just post some Tweets, and it will have exactly the same effect.”

But there’s a huge difference between creating a place that your ideal clients naturally come to, wanting more from you, and a sales pitch that you blast out and pray someone responds.

Now there’s more to soulful selling than just content marketing. There are concepts that run to the way you run your business, your ethos, your standards, your ways of delivering and ensuring that you’re always putting your customer first. But where marketing is concerned, when it comes to soulful selling, content marketing is the key to ensuring your marketing efforts are thoroughly soulful.

Soulful selling is the way you will propel your business forward and completely transform your marketing from spray and pray, hard sell, to a place that people just love to be, where they can’t get enough of you.

 Need a little help blogging Claim your FREE blog post now - no catch, no strings, one perfectly professional post (2)

63 Ways To Find Inspiration For Your Blog

As you’ll probably know by now, I am all about content marketing here at The Write Copy Girl. Whether you are blogging, vlogging, podcasting or doing any other kind of content marketing, the one thing that you will need to do on a regular basis is produce content.

One of the questions I get asked more than anything else is, “Where do you find inspiration for your content?” It’s a really tricky question. How do you stay inspired as a marketer, as a blogger, as a vlogger, as a podcaster? How do you make sure that all your content is fresh, original, and exactly the kind of inspired wonderful content that your ideal clients want to be reading or watching or listening to?

Where Does Inspiration Come From?

Inspiration is a tricky thing to pin down. It’s really one of those things that you can’t clearly define. You know what it is when you see it, but you’re not quite sure what it is until you find it. You may often have found yourself in the position of sitting down and thinking, “Oh. I have to write a blog post for this week,” or, “I need to think of something to blog about for next week’s content.” Now, if you follow my advice, you’ll have a content schedule planned well in advance, but planning a schedule requires quite a bit of inspiration in and of itself, and even once you’ve decided on the topics and titles of every single post that you are going to have in your schedule, when you come to write them or record them, you still need to have that spark of inspiration to actually get it done.

Where exactly are you supposed to find all of that?

Where Do You Find Inspiration For Your Blog?

Like I said, people ask me is where I find my inspiration all the time. I decided that what I was going to write down every way I use to stay inspired for blogging, vlogging and all my content marketing. It turned into a monster post, which would be far too long to put it in a video or blog. Instead, I’ve turned it into a short eBook for you, which you can download here. It’s called The Big Book of Blogging Inspiration, and it contains 63 fabulous ways to stay inspired in your blogging!

If you have any ways of staying inspired that I’ve missed, or if there are any suggestions in the book that you use to stay inspired and keep the creative juices flowing, do please comment below, let me know. Otherwise, I hope it’s a really useful resource for you, and that it will help you stay, creative, inspired, and super productive in all your content marketing efforts!

If you find it helpful, do please give this post a share! I will be back really soon with more epic content. In the meantime…

The Big Book Of Blogging Inspiration - 63 Ways To Find Inspiration For Your Blog

How To Start A Vlog: All Of The Technical Needs

 

 

Basic Setup

​Camera: 

Smartphone, Tablet, Webcam

​Support: 

If you’re using a laptop, place it on a flat surface and it will support itself. If you’re using a phone or tablet, you will need to prop it against something stable. For extra height, place on a stack of books.​

Light:

​Use natural light. Film in front of a bit bright window. Your camera ALWAYS needs to face AWAY from the window (or any light source), you need to face TOWARDS it!  

Get outside in the sunshine!

Backdrops​

An attractive wall in your house; a big bookcase; your desk/office; outdoors in nature.​

Editing

Lightworks

FREE!​

Budget Setup

Camera:​

Sony DSCW 800 

c. £60

THE CAMERA I HAD BEFORE MY CANON 750D

​Support: 

Amazon Basics 60" Tripod

c. £18

THIS IS MY CURRENT TRIPOD​

Autocue:​

Parrot Teleprompter

c. £100

Light:

ESDDI Photography Double Lamps

c. £33

​                                                                      

​                                                                                                                                  

Batteries

Your camera will come with a battery, make sure it also comes with a charger (it should!). Getting at least one spare batter is a very good idea!

Memory Card

SanDisk Ultra 32 GB

​c. £12

Card Reader

Anker Card Reader

c. £9​

THIS IS MY CURRENT CARD READER!

Camera Bag

Anti-Shock Padded Waterproof Case

​C. £7

THIS IS THE CASE I HAD FOR MY SONY​

Backdrops​

As long as the space you're using is clear and isn't distracting, you can film anywhere.

​                                                                 

Editing (WINDOWS)

Movavi Video Editor (PERSONAL LICENSE)

c. £30

Movavi Video Editor (BUSINESS LICENSE)

c. £60

Editing (MAC)

Movavi Video Editor (PERSONAL LICENSE)

c. £30

Movavi Video Editor (BUSINESS LICENSE)

c. £60

THE LIGHT VERSION OF WHAT I USE - IT'S A GREAT VIDEO EDITOR, BUT DOESN'T COVERT, COMPRESS, SPLIT, RECORD YOUR COMPUTER SCREEN, CAPTURE FROM CAMERAS, VHS AND TV AND ALL THE OTHER COOL STUFF YOU GET WITH THE SUITE

Advanced Setup

Camera:​

Canon 750D

c. £500

THIS IS MY CURRENT CAMERA!​

​Support: 

Professional Pro 72" Tripod 

c. £36

Autocue:​

Glide Gear TMP 110

c. £200​

Light:

Neewer 700W Professional Softbox Lights 

c. £63​

I'M CURRENTLY USING ONE OF THESE LIGHTS (IF YOU'RE BUYING, GET A PAIR!)​

Microphone

RØDE VideoMic GO On Camera Microphone

c. £90

Batteries

Your camera will come with a battery, make sure it also comes with a charger (it should!). A spare battery is a MUST HAVE.           

Memory Card

SanDisk Ultra 64 GB

c. £28​

Get A Spare!​ You'll Need 2!

Card Reader

Anker Card Reader

c. £9​

THIS IS MY CURRENT CARD READER!

Camera Bag

BESTEK Waterproof Canvas Bag

​c. £28

THIS IS MY CURRENT CAMERA CASE!​

Backdrops​

Leaptek Adjustable 2x2m Background Support System

c. £30

Editing (WINDOWS)

Movavi​ Video Suite (PERSONAL LICENSE)

c. £75​

Movavi​ Video Suite (BUSINESS LICENSE)

c. £90​

THIS IS WHAT I USE FOR ALL MY VIDEOS!​

Killer Setup

Camera:​

Canon 5D

c. £2000

​Support:

BC Master 80" Tripod 

c. £130

Autocue:​

iKan Elite Universal Teleprompter 

c. £500​

Light:

Interfit F5 Three-Headed Lighting Kit

c. £230

                                                                        ​

Microphone

Saramonic MixMic

c. £230​

Batteries

Your camera will come with a battery, make sure it also comes with a charger (it should!). Spare batteries and a multi-battery charger are a MUST HAVE.

Memory Card

SanDisk Ultra 64 GB

c. £28​

Get Several Spares! You'll Need At Least 4

Card Reader

Anker Card Reader

c.£9​

x2

Camera Bag

YuHan Oxford Waterproof Anti-Shock Bag

​c. £50

Studios

Convert a spare space (loft, shed, garage, box room) into a studio. Paint the walls in white, even if you have a single wall painted in a feature colour, the rest should be white for lighting.                       

Editing (WINDOWS)

Movavi​ Video Suite (PERSONAL LICENSE)

c. £75​

Movavi​ Video Suite (BUSINESS LICENSE)

c. £90​

THIS IS WHAT I USE FOR ALL MY VIDEOS!​

OR...​

Hire a professional video editor.

Live Video Setup...

​For the most part you can use exactly the same setup for live video as static BUT your camera needs to be online! This usually means using Smartphone, tablet, or webcam , although GoPros and high end cameras now come with wifi too! If you're using your webcam, you can totally use your built in webcam, but if you want a really cool pro version, check out...,

​Mevo Live Event Camera - c.£480

It’s perfect for Facebook Live, Twitter and Perriscope (It's next on my buy list!). Another very good investment for doing live events (and Podcasts) is a professional quality microphone, check out

Yeti USB Microphone - c. £120

...that's number two on the list, right below the Mevo!

Ultimate Professional...

Hire a professional videographer. You can do this in your home set up, or hire a professional studio to work in, which will have professional lighting, sound, and the ability to create any environment you like - you can even hire a set dresser and/or branding expert. If you're doing this, take full advantage - batch as much content as possible, and get plenty of extra footage of you doing your thing to use for intros etc. Also, you're in a professional studio - get some brand photos taken while you're there!​

I dream of recording like this, after the manner of Marie Forleo and more recently Denise Duffield Thomas (yes, I know, I cite them a lot, I may be slightly obsessed!).​

 

How To Build A Powerful Vlog For Your Business Vlogging Workflows

 

Powered by WishList Member - Membership Software