Monthly Archives: January 2014

The Writing Life — The “Excuse” of Being Sick

This week I’ve been dealing with a nasty head cold. Stuffy nose, sinus pressure, scratchy throat, feeling drained and exhausted.

And, of course, THIS was the week I was going to really dig into my book writing. (Or so I was telling myself.)

And, of course, being sick gave me a perfect excuse to NOT dig into my book writing, since I was moving slow as it was (not to mention having to take breaks) and had to focus on my to-do list.

And THAT, my friends, seems to be a nasty habit of mine when it comes to getting my own books out into the world.

Now, while it’s true I have finished several books already, and deep down inside I know I’m in the right place to get more books done in 2014, I’m still rather disappointed with myself that one of my old, not-serving-me habits has reared its ugly head this week.

Procrastination is one of my major bad habits when it comes to my own writing. And being able to rationalize my bad habit with a great excuse like “I’m sick” always works out wonderfully for me. What a perfect reason to NOT write!

On the other hand, I really AM sick. So what do you do? I also want to honor what my body is telling me. And it feels like my body is telling me to take it easy — I’ve been running at full speed since this year has started, so as excited and full of energy as I’ve been, maybe getting sick is my body’s way of telling me to pace myself. I mean I’ve started writing a lot more on my blog (including starting this new column) plus I got my podcast going plus I’ve been swamped with client work. And while it’s been awesome to have gotten all of this done, it IS only January — we DO have 11 months left of 2014 so maybe I don’t need to be moving quite as fast.

And when I get quiet, that feels like the truth and it feels like that’s what my inner wisdom is telling me.

But I also can’t quite shake the disappointment I’m feeling with myself either.

3 Tips to Bringing Feminine Energy into Masculine Business Models

Your biggest strength is also your biggest weakness. And that’s not only true of people, but also of things created by people.

Like the traditional business model, which is very masculine. And while that’s most definitely a strength — it’s also a weakness. (Especially for women living too much in their masculine energy, but even for men who may run the risk of losing touch altogether with their feminine side.) With more women joining the ranks of entrepreneurship than ever before in the history of humankind, we now have an opportunity to infuse traditional business models with feminine energy.

Now while that may sound good in theory, in practice this becomes “How the heck do you do that?” So if you’d like a few tips on how to get started infusing your biz with some feminine energy so you can more effortlessly build your biz, then read on.

1. STOP and breathe. Masculine energy is about moving forward toward a goal, preferably as quickly as possible. While there’s no question that’s what you want to be doing when you’re growing a business, if you spend all your time in that energy, you’ll burn out. (Hence the biggest strength/biggest weakness.) This is where the feminine energy of stopping, breathing and taking time for YOU comes in.

Not only will you give yourself a much-needed break, but you’ll also allow yourself some time to catch your breath to see if the direction you’re going in is really the direction you WANT to be going in. Which leads me to the next tip.

2. Listen to your intuition. Many successful entrepreneurs, men and women both, know that trusting their gut is one of their most important strengths. And you can thank your feminine side for your intuition!

The problem is most of the time, we either don’t hear it or don’t trust it. Taking time to stop, breathe and listen allows our intuition to talk to us. And over time, as we listen and follow (or not follow) what our intuition tells us (and see how right it was) we can learn to trust it.

3. Learn to receive. Feminine energy is about receiving. And for many of us, receiving is not at all comfortable. (We’re much more comfortable in the giving energy.) But if we can’t receive, how can we receive money into our business, or clients or sales or opportunities?

That’s why we need to learn how to receive.

For me, this was also a struggle, and how I started the process of learning to receive was by accepting compliments. I was someone who would always brush a compliment aside — oh it wasn’t a big deal, oh anyone could have done that. (Part of my Midwestern Wisconsin roots as well, I suspect.) But instead I started saying simply “Thank you,” really meaning it, and just staying quiet. I stopped turning it around and/or brushing it aside, and allowed myself to just receive the compliment, instead.

It wasn’t easy — in fact, to this day it’s still not easy, but it’s easier. And it’s made a huge difference in my biz and my life.

In fact, all these tips have helped me slow down and welcome the feminine into my biz, which has in turn helped make me feel less stress and less overwhelm. My hope is they will do the same for you.

PW Unplugged Radio — Tracy Lee Jones and the Feminine Biz Model

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In today’s episode, my guest Tracy Lee Jones and I dished all about the feminine biz model. Ladies, if you’ve been feeling overly stressed and like you’ve been spending too much time in your masculine energy this podcast is exactly what the doctor ordered. (And men, there’s definitely some tips in here for you too.) Tracy and I had a blast laughing together while sharing some really great tips. Enjoy!

You can hear all about it and more on this week’s podcast. Just click here to download or Listen:

Ask PW — What are the top 3 tips for someone starting a business?

This question has been going around one my Linked In groups for a few months now, so I thought I’d use it in my Ask PW blog feature. Here’s my answer:

1. Make marketing a priority. You should be marketing regularly and frequently (at least weekly and you may want to step it up in the beginning or if business is slow).  The more you market yourself, the more results you’ll see in your business.

2. Focus on the right marketing activities. Your marketing activities should consist of:

A. Getting prospects (or leads) in the door

B. Converting prospects into clients

C. Retaining clients

Make sure the marketing activities you choose are addressing all 3 of these. For instance, a sample marketing strategy could consist of collecting email leads on your website, sending a regular email newsletter, doing a monthly promotion to your list and then sending an autoresponder series to the clients who purchase.
Putting together a marketing plan for your business could be a huge help in keeping you on track with this.

3. Take action.  I can’t stress this enough.  Over and over again this is where I see entrepreneurs fall down. They know they need to be marketing their business, they may even have a plan, but yet they somehow never get around to implementing that plan. If you want to have a successful business, you need to be regularly and frequently marketing your business. And if you can’t or won’t do it, then find some help.

So what do you think? What would be the top 3 tips you would tell someone just starting a business? Please share below in the comment section. Or if you have a question about marketing, business or writing copy, feel free to put in the comment section and I’ll answer those in a future Ask PW column.

The Writing Life — The Beginning

A few months back I was having lunch with one of my mastermind partners when she said “Michele, you sooo need to do a blog about writing. People would just love it.”

Now, the idea of starting a whole new blog was a bit daunting to me, plus to be quite honest here — I’M not entirely sure how interesting this is going to turn out to be — so instead I thought I’d try a compromise. A column about writing on my blog.

And thus The Writing Life was born.

The goal is to post a few musings about writing each week that will hopefully be both entertaining and informative regardless if you consider yourself to be a writer or not. (And as always, your comments and thoughts are greatly appreciated.)

So let’s jump right in.

I’m actually in an interesting place with my writing right now and because of that, I’m finding I’m struggling a bit. (Surprised?) Yes even professional writers struggle. In fact, it’s probably worse when we struggle because as professional writers we’re not supposed to struggle with writing. This is what we do! We don’t struggle with what we do.

(Alas that is so not the case.)

Anyway, the reason why I’m an interesting place is because my 2014 plan is about me stepping out in a much bigger way with my content and information. And that’s a bit daunting. In some ways, it’s a lot easier to write for other people. When you’re writing for other people, you’re helping support their dreams and goals. Your focus is getting them out into the world in a huge, profitable way.

But it’s their dreams. Not yours. Which also means any fears around being out there in a big way is also all theirs.

I’ve been feeling more and more called to get my message out there — and suddenly that means I’M the one in front. And as awesome and exciting it is, it’s also a little scary.

What if they don’t like me? What if they don’t like what I wrote? What if they don’t like my message?

And what’s interesting is how the fear manifests is by giving me writer’s block.

I’ll talk more about writer’s block in future columns, but for today I just wanted to share about what I’ve been observing about my own writing habits this week when it comes to working on my projects. Suddenly writer’s block is more of a problem. I’m finding I have more excuses than I normally do to sitting down and writing. I’m finding myself stuck. I’m also finding myself more tired this week than I normally am — by the end of the day I am completely exhausted.

I’ve been working my way through it all, but it’s interesting to see my reaction and see how even though I know this is the path I need to walk down, I also have so much resistance to it.

So how about you? What do you do when you’re confronted by fear of getting your message out there? Do you suffer from writer’s block as well? Post below — I’d love to hear your thoughts!

My #1 Secret to Transforming Yourself and Your Biz in 2014

I just read a startling (and very sad) statistic — Monday, Jan 20 is supposedly the most depressing day of the year.

Why? Because it’s 3 weeks after New Year’s Day and now it’s just sinking in to most people that all the promise and hope and resolutions they started 2014 with is nothing more than a house of cards. Nothing has changed from last year and, even worst, nothing will change.

Yikes. No wonder why everyone is depressed.

However, there IS good news. This doesn’t have to be your reality. You CAN make sure 2014 is different from all the disappointing years that have come before.

Now I talk about this in way more detail in my podcast PW Unplugged — Is 2014 Starting Off Strong? Or is it Turning Into a Dud? (Worse — the Same Dud as 2013) but I wanted to share one of the secrets right here in case you haven’t had time to listen to it quite yet.

It lies in the famous Einstein quote “The definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results.”

This quote literally helped transform my business from solo-peneur to owner of a copywriting company, and now I’m using it again to take my biz to the next level.

So how does this apply to you and how you can make sure 2014 is not a same-old, same-old frustrating repeat? Well, one thing is to take a look at how you approach the start of your year. Are you someone who does a detailed, specific plan? Do you do nothing at all? Or is it something in between?

Whatever it is, this year, do something completely different. If you’re a planner, put the plan away and see how it feels to not have a plan. Or maybe try planning a different way than you normally do. If you don’t plan, block off time this week to put a plan in place.

Are you squirming a bit? Good — you should be feeling uncomfortable. That’s how you know you’re on the right path to breaking the mold of how your years always seem to turn out.

Want to learn more? Then check out this week’s podcast. And I’d love to hear YOUR stories — leave a comment and let me know your thoughts.

3 Steps to IMPLEMENTING Your 2014 Marketing Plan

You just put the finishing touches on your kick-butt marketing plan that’s going to skyrocket your business. Hooray!

Only problem is that kick-butt marketing plan isn’t going to do a thing for your business unless you actually put it into action. And that, alas, is where most marketing plans end up — a really good idea that never got implemented.

So, how do you stop that from happening? Here are 3 steps to help you move from thinking to doing.

1. Figure out what you need to be doing versus what you can get someone else to do. Look, there’s no reason why YOU have to do all the implementation. Get some help!

If you already have a team, fantastic! Now you just have to start delegating. If you don’t have a team or you don’t have the right person on your team to do a specific job (for instance, a technical person to fix your shopping cart) then you need to put finding that person to your to-do list. In the short-term, yes it does add to your workload, but in the long-term, it will save you a lot of time.

2. Block off time in your calendar to work on your plan. The only way these things are going to get done is if you actually take the time to work on them. So start by actually setting aside the time.

You may be someone who works better in shorter, more frequent bursts of time (15 or 20 minutes every day) versus a longer time less frequently (2 hours or half a day once a week). Only you know what appeals to you, and I would suggest scheduling your time accordingly. (Look, it’s tough enough to get things done; you might as well make it easier for yourself by working with your natural tendencies than against them.)

3. Set yourself up for success. Just because you set the time aside doesn’t mean you’ll actually get anything done on your plan during that time. So you need to keep yourself focused and motivated and don’t allow yourself to get sidetracked.

Now there’s no question that’s much easier said than done. So how do you do that? Here are a few tips to try:

• Remind yourself WHY you’re doing this. Is it so you’ll be able to take care of your family better? Is it because you want to sell a million copies of your book? Is it because you’re so tired of the way things are you’re ready for a change? Whatever it is, remind yourself of the bigger WHY before you sit down to work. That will keep your motivation up.

• Make it a special time just for you. Maybe light a candle, put on some favorite music or pour yourself a fave cup of tea. Or maybe you head out to a local Starbucks to hang out. Whatever it is, make it special — something you look forward to.

• Create a “squirrel file.” If you ever watched the movie “Up,” there’s a talking dog in it that keeps getting distracted by squirrels. So he’ll be talking and in the middle he’ll shout “squirrel!” and completely lose his train of thought.

As entrepreneurs, we are surrounded by squirrels. And there’s no better time for the squirrels to come and play then during this time we’ve set aside to implement our marketing plan. “Oh, I’ll get to my plan as soon as I get this email out…as soon as I return this phone call…as soon as I clean up my desk.”

You get the idea.

So the way to keep the squirrels away is to create a “squirrel file” (or call it something fun like “squirrel nest”). Any of those squirrels come running out, capture it and stick it in the file to work on “later.” If you want, you can even designate a time to work on all those squirrels.

But the most important thing to do is DECIDE you really ARE going to implement your plan. Once you do that, the rest will fall into place.

PW Unplugged — Is 2014 Starting Off Strong? Or is it Turning Into a Dud? (Worse — the Same Dud as 2013)

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In today’s episode of PW Unplugged, I chat about the biggest reason why nothing in your biz seems to change year after year — no matter how good your intentions are in January. And I also tell you one of biggest keys that helped me turn this around for myself so my biz really DID transform (and how you can do this too!).

I’d love to hear your thoughts and stories as well — share below by leaving a comment!

click here to download
or, listen:

Ask PW — When is it time to hire a copywriter?

This is another question I hear when entrepreneurs and small biz owners ask me about working with my company. They wonder if they’re big enough or if it’s a good use of their money or if they would be better off waiting until they have their ducks in a row.Ask PW

And it’s a fair question. Especially when you’re either first starting out or you’ve hit a ceiling in the income in your biz and you KNOW you need to invest to grow, but you don’t have nearly enough income to invest in everything you need — which of course means you need to make choices.

So here are 3 questions to ask yourself to see if it’s time to hire a copywriter:

• The project you’re looking to get some professional help is something that could be a major income generator in your biz — therefore it makes more sense to invest because you know the return could be massive. (And, conversely, if it fails it could really put a crimp in your income goals.) Or it’s something that’s going to get a great deal of attention — such as the home page of your website — so you know it needs to be fabulous.

• You know your time is better spent doing other activities than writing your own copy. While it may still feel like a risk, you know at the end of the day if you didn’t have this pile of copy on your plate, you could be that much more effective in your your biz. (Or you know what you want to be spending your time on will make you just as much or MORE money than you struggling to write your own copy.)

• You’re tired of going about it alone and getting lackluster results. You really don’t feel like going through one more copy product or book to try and figure out yourself what you’re doing wrong and you’re ready to step up your game and get it done right.

• And I thought I’d throw in one more bonus reason — you know it’s time. You can feel it — it’s time to find a copywriter and start building a relationship with them.

Now, of course, deciding it’s time to hire a copywriter is just the first step. If you want some help with the actual hiring, I’d like to invite you to check out my Kindle report  ” 5 Mistakes Entrepreneurs and Small Business Owners Make When They Hire a Copywriter and How to Avoid Them. PLUS 10 Questions You Should Ask/Tasks You Should Do BEFORE You Hire a Copywriter.”

Here’s the link to check it out — http://tinyurl.com/hirecopywriter

(And if you check it out today you can still get it for free.)

So what are your thoughts about whether it’s your time to hire a copywriter? Do you have any tips that have worked for you? Please share below in the comment section. Or if you have a question about marketing, business or writing copy, feel free to put in the comment section and I’ll answer those in a future Ask PW column.

3 Keys to Writing Copy that Attracts and Invites (and Doesn’t Feel Sales-y and Slime-y)

If you’re like so many conscious/heart-centered entrepreneurs, a lot of traditional copywriting probably makes you pretty uncomfortable. (Copywriting is writing promotional materials, nothing to do with protecting your intellectual property.)

But everyone tells you that you need that “type of copy” if you want to make money.

So what do you do? Make money and feel slime-y and sales-y with the copy you’re using — or don’t make money, but feel like your copy is at least aligned with your core values?

Well, I’m here today to say it IS possible to do both — write copy that attracts, inspires and invites so you make money AND feel good doing it.

And I’m going to share 3 keys to get you started.

1. Know your ideal clients. I’m a big fan of ideal clients. Because unlike target markets or niche markets, your ideal clients are the heart and soul of who you’re meant to serve.

You see, target markets and niches are more about the external — their demographics. Ideal clients are about the internal — what drives them, what gets them up in the morning, what keeps them awake at night… what their core values are.

And if you base your business and your marketing around that, you’re going to attract the perfect clients into your business — the ones who you love to work with and who love working with you. (Doesn’t that feel fabulous?)

Now if you haven’t done this before, I really encourage you to do this exercise — I want you to create your ideal client avatar. Spend some time getting to know your ideal client. It doesn’t matter if he/she is real or in your head; either way it’s a big help to do this.

Start by writing out a detailed description of that person. Be as complete as possible. Then I want you to post it, so every time you sit down to write copy, you see your ideal client.

You may want to add a picture as well so you can really “see” your ideal client as you write.

Now once you have your ideal client set, then you can move to the second key.

2. Pretend you’re writing a letter to a friend, NOT writing marketing copy. If your friend came to you and told you about a problem she had, and you KNEW you had the perfect solution and wanted to help, how would you craft that letter? You would be passionate, right? And you would probably also be very comfortable asking her to take action, because you know in your heart if she does, her life will change.

Well I want you to bring that same passion into writing your marketing copy. You care about your ideal client, right? So you ARE writing to a friend — a friend who has a problem you can solve. And you know how wonderful your friend’s life will be once she’s solved the problem.

That’s the place to come from when you write. And when you do, all the hype-y and sales-y stuff melts away.

3. Focus on their transformation. Now you’ve probably heard “write benefits and not features,” and that’s true — I want you to do that. But even more than that, I want you to focus on the transformation: how much your ideal clients’ lives will be transformed once they’ve bought your products and services.

If you focus your copy on that — writing “you” instead of “I” (in fact, you should have a 2:1 or even a 3:1 ratio of “you” to “I”) and how your product or service will transform your ideal client, they’ll be that much more excited to work with you.

Here’s a free resource to help make 2014 AWESOME

If you’re like many entrepreneurs, you took the time over the holidays to do some biz planning for 2014.

Yay!

But… (there’s always a “but,” isn’t there?) are you now freaking out a bit? Every time you look at or think about ALL the things you want to get done this year? Wondering who the heck is going to get all of this stuff done? Afraid it may be YOU staring at a bunch of late nights and lots of coffee being consumed?

That’s where hiring a team comes in, right? And maybe it’s time to hire a copywriter to not only take the writing off your plate but to also get you better results with your marketing. (Especially if you’ve tried doing it all yourself in the past only to be less-than-thrilled with your results.)

The problem is, how do you know if the copywriter you want to hire is the right one for you? Someone who will help you grow your biz AND be someone you enjoy working with? Ah, that’s where I come in. I’ve prepared a Kindle report ” 5 Mistakes Entrepreneurs and Small Business Owners Make When They Hire a Copywriter and How to Avoid Them. PLUS 10 Questions You Should Ask/Tasks You Should Do BEFORE You Hire a Copywriter.”

And as my gift for you, you can get it for free on Kindle from now until Monday, January 20. Just go here.

(You don’t even need a Kindle — if you have an iPad or tablet with a free Kindle app that works too!)

This report is a great resource to have on hand not only when you’re getting ready to hire the perfect copywriter to take your biz to the next level but also to get yourself prepared when you’re ready to hand over a copy project.

Here’s the link again to download it — and if you like it, would love to have you share a review as well!

Ask PW — Is it possible for a copywriter to capture your “voice?”

Ask PWI get this question a lot from entrepreneurs and biz owners who really would love to outsource their copywriting but are afraid their voice will be lost in the process.

And first off, I want to say I get it. Making sure your voice is reflected in your emails, sales letters, opt in pages and other sales materials is very important as this is a big piece of how you connect with your ideal prospects and clients.

And the answer is — yes it IS very possible. Now it may not be 100% and it may not happen right away, but it can happen.

Most writers do have the ability to mimic other writing voices. Probably not all voices, (and how many voices any one writer can mimic depends on the skill of the writer), but it’s very possible to find a writer who can come pretty close to mimicking your voice.

But the problem is you need to make sure you choose the correct writer — one who actually can mimic your particular voice (i.e. just because a writer can mimic your entrepreneurial friend’s voice doesn’t mean he/she can mimic your voice) and also who is actually interested in matching your voice. (It’s the old adage, just because someone can do something doesn’t mean they want to or will do it.)

This is one reason why working with a copywriting company, such as the one I own, makes sense. Since I have a team of writers working for me, it’s far more likely we can find a good match for you since we have a variety of writers (and styles) to choose from.

In addition to that, I’ve also worked out a “copy style sheet” where for our regular clients, we create a style sheet to help us consistently match voices.

If you’re thinking about hiring a copywriter to help you meet your 2014 goals and want more information so you make the right decision, I’ve put together a Kindle report “5 Mistakes Entrepreneurs and Small Business Owners Make When They Hire a Copywriter and How to Avoid Them. PLUS 10 Questions You Should Ask/Tasks You Should Do BEFORE You Hire a Copywriter” (and watch this space for a special offer on this report starting tomorrow).

So what are your thoughts about making sure your copywriter gets your voice? Do you have any tips that have worked for you? Or problems you’ve encountered? Please share below in the comment section. Or if you have a question about marketing, business or writing copy, feel free to put in the comment section and I’ll answer those in a future Ask PW column.

3 Powerful Habits to Set You Up For BIG Success in 2014

The good news about being a biz owner is you get to set your own schedule.

And the bad news? You get to set your own schedule. (And we haven’t even talked about how that looks when you work out of your home and all the distractions THAT brings.)

If you’re like most entrepreneurs, no one taught you what successful habits you should be incorporating into the day-to-day running of your biz. Instead, you brought whatever working habits you learned at either your last place of employment or maybe even from school. And while those habits may have served you at that time, you may be finding they’re now holding you back from growing your biz.

So I want to share 3 powerful habits you can start doing right now to grow a successful, profitable biz, without making yourself crazy.

Habit 1 — Start your day with a positive, grounding ritual. I don’t know any super-successful entrepreneur who jumps out of bed and immediately checks email. Everyone I know has some sort of ritual — it could be meditation or journaling or visualizing or some inspirational reading. But whatever it is, the point is to start your day powerfully and at peace.

Then you can check email.

Look, I get it if you’re squirming right now. I was a massive check-my-email-first-thing-in-the-morning too. But for a year now, I’ve instead started my day with meditation and maybe some journaling, and I have to tell you, it’s really helped me stay centered and grounded no matter what goes on around me. I tend to get more done, be less frazzled, and be a lot more focused. And you MUST do this before you check email and start your day — the moment you jump into your day thinking you’ll get “back” to meditating — it never happens.

Habit 2 — Take the time to plan your day (and maybe your week) in advance. Now there are lots and lots of resources and systems out there to help you structure your day, and it really doesn’t matter what system you use, just as long as you do SOMETHING. For myself, I take time usually on Friday (but sometimes on Sunday) to plan my week out and at least get the big rocks scheduled. And then each morning I revisit that schedule, and based on what I’ve gotten done (or not gotten done), I then plan out what I need to do that day.

I’m certainly no expert at this and I also most-definitely could have a better system, but the point is it does work for me. The days I don’t revisit my schedule and plan my day are typically my least-productive days, so it’s definitely worth it to take 5 minutes and put together my day’s to-do list.

Habit 3 — Take the time to check in with your biz and your goals at least once a quarter. It’s not enough to put together your marketing plan and figure out your goals in January and then never look at them again. You need to go back and revisit your goals and your plan (and also check back in that you’re still connected to your vision and mission). Are you on track? Have you gotten off track? Are you on a different path than you intended, but you’re finding you like that path better? Whatever it is, this is important step to make sure you stay clear, connected and focused on your biz (which makes it a lot easier to reach your goals).