Posts in pink flamingo thoughts
The power of partnership: collaboration over competition

I love working with other businesses! It's a great way to get to know someone and to help lift each other up. Every business and business owner has different strengths, so by working together in a complementary way you can create synergies between your businesses (and maybe create something that you may not have attempted on your own).

I have been partnering a lot recently on different projects as a way to:

- Increase visibility: Jessica Modad and I have partnered for our InstaBrand series.

This way people that they know get to know you too! 

- Create things together: Laura Cheek and I partnered for a series on social media marketing.

Sometimes it's hard to get outside of yourself and get feedback on your own business or how to improve. Business besties and connection can open doors you've never thought of! 

- Celebrate collaboration: J Franco and I will be creating a Live video about hiring a marketing expert.

By working together, you're promoting collaboration over competition (and may accomplish some pretty nifty things).

Ways to partner with other entrepreneurs

1. Go Live together

2. Interview each other

3. Have coffee 1 on 1

4. Promote sharing of each other's social posts

5. Use as referral partners

6. Develop a co-offering

7. Create a video series together

8. Leverage a partnership network (instead of doing everything)

9. Share or pool resources

10. Ask for referrals or recommendations

11. Keep in touch

12. Co-creation of articles and content

All of these different ways can help you create a deeper business community and create an offering with greater depth to meet customer needs.

How else do you partner with other entrepreneurs?

Brands are stepping in for Hurricane Harvey relief

It's been a hell of a week with Hurricane Harvey destroying large parts of Texas and flooding others. 

Some important things to realize:

  • This could be the costliest Hurricane ever with an estimated price tag of $190 Billion. To put it in perspective, Hurricane Katrina cost $49.8 Billion.
  • 53 counties were affected, around 11 million people, which is 46% of the Texas population.
  • South Texas received 19 trillion gallons of rain in the span of a few days. 

I live and work in Houston, so this past week has affected friends and coworkers. Thankfully, a lot of them were not significantly affected by the flooding, tornadoes, and storm. However, there are over 9,000 evacuees and many more displaced and needing help.

Some people I know were rescued on rooftops. Others were evacuated by boat. The week has been hectic, tiring, and stressful for everyone affected.

And while all of this is going on, people are stepping up to help. There are lines outside of shelters not for help, but to volunteer. People are pledging their support from New York. Mexico offered to help. The Cajun Navy came to the rescue.

Brands are stepping in to help out victims

Brands large and small are stepping in with company-wide efforts to help victims of Hurricane Harvey. 

  • HEB trucks were lined up outside the city to begin serving meals. Each truck is capable of serving over 6000 meals per day.
  • Waffle House stayed open to support first responders. My boyfriend's company has set up a fund to help employees affected by the storm.
  • Gallery Furniture has made it a hallmark of their business to step in when people need help. They opened their doors to shelter people affected.
  • A 2nd Cup, usually dedicated to fighting human trafficking, is organizing volunteers and raising money for relief.

Even more companies are sending or offering aid to those affected.There will be more work to do in the coming weeks in months, especially with FEMA estimating they will be in Texas for years.

And some brands increased prices

Memorably, there have been the brands and companies that decided to raise prices in response to a crisis. While the companies have responded saying there were "pricing errors" it still was a striking moment.

While I didn't witness it, I did hear through other people experiencing the flood that some tow truck drivers were charging around $600 for a tow. That even some people with boats were charging people to be rescued.

In times of crisis, it's important for everyone to step up and help

This is the moment that people will remember when someone stepped in to help them. It's a time to drop what you're doing and lend a hand or a dollar where you can. For ways that you can contribute, see here.

The contribution doesn't have to be large.

Companies large a small, from individual creators to larger corporations, have found different ways to offer aid. It can be a volunteer outing, donations, or offering shelter to people in need. It can be as simple as showing your own employees that you care about their well being and will be there to help them get back on track.

Brands have the opportunity to make a difference.

A brand can bring people together and organize relief that may be difficult to achieve at the individual level. Take this time to really show people what your brand stands for by contributing.

Don't help looking for a quick soundbite.

Real people have been affected. People have lost their homes, businesses, and friends. People are still missing. Help to genuinely make a difference, not to just look good.

There's a lot of work to be done. I will be out and about for the next few weeks - out of town and then returning to help out friends. See how you can also make a difference in the lives of people affected.

How can you do your part as a business or individual to offer aid?

Building trust with transparency: Sharing your knowledge

Knowledge sharing is an important way to demonstrate your expertise in a given area. It's why content marketing can help companies create a great SEO presence and it's part of how a customer finds a solution. It's also how people understand what you do, respect how you do it, and trust your guidance.

Building trust is an important part of the buying process. A salesperson's main goal is to build rapport, getting someone to understand and trust what they are saying. Building rapport is done through creating connections and delivering true information.

Without transparency, you risk customers going elsewhere

Transparency is desperately needed, especially in advertising and marketing. With the lack of communication around media buying for companies - what it's getting them and how it's doing - is part of why companies are turning to consulting agencies.

According to Digiday: Management consultancies are turning the trust problem between advertisers and their media agencies into an opportunity to muscle in on the number of budgets increasingly prioritizing planning over buying.

Companies are turning to another source of transparency because their current partners aren't offering it. Companies are rethinking their budgets, spending allocations, and placement of media.

How to be more transparent

You can share your knowledge through blogging, videos, social media, and more. You choose which media to share on based on where your audience resides, you want to reach them where they're at. Do your research about who is on each one and when they are engaging before committing to a platform.

Share the "why", not just the "how." Part of learning and decision making is understanding the underlying factors behind making a decision. You can tell people the "how" - how to gain followers, create a community, increase their SEO - but starting with the why will leave them:

  • More energized about the types of changes they can make
  • More confident that all of these tactics they're employing will help them meet their goals
  • Able to use tactics in other ways since it's not simply memorizing a set of tactics

But, what if someone copies me or steals my information?

Individuals or businesses sharing information tend to get worried that someone will take their secret sauce and they'll be left without any recompense. Opening yourself up to someone hearing and disseminating your information is the cost of doing business. However, sharing information doesn't mean you're:

  • Giving away all of the family's secret recipes - Proprietary and "secret" information can stay that way. You're sharing information that will entice and enlighten your target demographic and then solve their problems.
  • Oversharing - You're not sharing everything that happens to your and your business. You're curating relevant information that you think would resonate with your target customers.
  • Giving the surface stuff away - You're not repeating information seen everywhere else on the web. You're offering should be unique and valuable to keep customers coming back or willing to give you information like their email or contact information.

The benefits far outweigh the cons when it comes to being transparent with your customers online and in person. By doing this, you build trust and rapport. Building these two things allow you:

  • To resell to previous customers
  • To upsell current customers
  • Build a base of fans and advocates who will tell future customers how awesome you are
  • Develop a following that is interested in what you have to say
  • Create a bank of interested potential customers

By building these opportunities up, you open your business up to other kinds of revenue (like sponsorships and affiliate marketing) and make your customers trust, respect, and value your information.

Network and Learn

Sometimes you can meet people in your network that have a lot to teach you. Which is how I ended up learning more about Facebook ads from PRKriystna. Or you find a mentor who can tell you about their own experiences like Amy Dionne. Or you want to run ideas by someone and you find a professional contact.

There's only so much self-teaching you can fit in during the day - I'm trying to learn code with Code Academy, reading daily articles from HubSpot and Digiday, and writing to keep myself fresh.

Sometimes that person isn't in your network yet and you need to go out and find them. Or at least find a place to learn.

Networking events are not the best place to learn, but there are some geared toward teaching around topics with the benefit of networking. These events don't have to be industry conferences or weekend seminars. They can be monthly events with people in your area.

Networking events to attend

Start with these types of activities and see what you can learn. I went to a great networking event this morning about social media automation. It was a worthwhile few hours spent learning, building my network with people in my field, and potentially meeting new clients.

You don't have to be a marketer to attend! Small business owners and companies like to drop into these places to see where they can grow their initiatives, what changes there have been, and to create connections with marketers that can grow their business.

Online networking

While networking online can be helpful, it's not always the most fruitful way to spend your time. Find Facebook Groups that inspire you, Twitter chats that rock, some sites to subscribe, and inspirational podcasts.

Try not to get too sucked into the black hole of the internet in the search for knowledge. Soon you'll find yourself on Wikipedia trying to find out when the last time that Vanilla Ice released an album.

Learning by doing is the next step. Find the clients that will let you experiment in a new area and build that into your budget with them.

Marketing podcasts for your summer jam

I was never one for listening to podcasts, I really never understood the appeal. And then I found Being Boss and I have started upping my podcast game.

For marketers out there who need a place to start learning more about marketing, entrepreneurship, and business, I would subscribe to some of these podcasts!

 
 

1. Being Boss Podcast

This is the podcast I wait patiently for every Tuesday. This is what got me listening to podcasts. I innocently stumbled across it, went back and listened to every episode, and now enjoy their weekly episodes! I was surprised that someone was discussing the things I wasn't sure about: money, creative business, and how to be your own boss.

Kathleen Shannon and Emily Thompson host this weekly podcast describing habits and tactics for bosses. Their guest roster includes Brene Brown, Marie Forleo, Tara Gentile, and more! Subscribe and learn every week about how you can "be boss."

iTunes

2. Profit. Power. Pursuit. A CreativeLive Podcast with Tara Gentile

Tara Gentile hosts this podcast that features interviews with business owners and people in business. It explores how creative people have "made it" by taking control of their finances, business, and purpose.

Tara Gentile asks great questions and features guests that have incredibly diverse stories, like the founders of Warby Parker. She builds an engaging episode and helps you understand what each person went through as they grew in their business.

iTunes

3. How I Built This: NPR

Guy Raz has some excellent guests on his podcast, including Kate Spade, Jenn Hyman, and Jonah Peretti. The talks involve the beginnings and inspiration for business to how their business models are succeeding today.

I loved the talk with Jonah Peretti who spoke about starting Buzzfeed. Originally just a little experiment about how things "go viral," it's now a huge content engine.

iTunes

4. Inc. Uncensored

A topical and insightful look into business trends. As part of the overall Inc. brand, the podcast has rich investigative content. I recommend for anyone who needs to stay abreast of new marketing and business stories.

iTunes

5. Invisibilia: NPR

A look into psychology and connecting stories in an unexpected way. Invisibilia doesn't talk about marketing, but it's a great example of creating a unique product with unusual interviews and mental links.

It looks into human behavior and the "invisible" influences like beliefs, assumptions, and emotions. A captivating listen for marketers beholden to consumer behaviors.

iTunes

6. Invisible Office Hours

While I haven't given much of a listen, it's created for people who "Aren't confined by conventional thinking." Enter: marketers, creatives, and entreprenuers. Jason Zook and Paul Jarvis host this podcast every Tuesday. 

From the descriptions of the episodes, like podcasts about "Paul's epic killer whale photo" and putting on nerd goggles" mean that I will be listening to more from these gues shortly.

iTunes

Some podcasts that came recommended:

There haven't been any new episodes, but if you want to go back and give their seasons a listen, I have heard good things about these podcasts.

BONUS Podcasts

1. Finely Crafted

Learn about branding and story telling from entrepreneurs. I only listened to their last episode, released 2 years ago, but it's titled, "Where Was R. Kelly?" So you know you're missing out.

2. You University | The Personal Branding Podcast

Hosted by Michael Peggs, this podcast is all about personal branding and building profit. The last episode was two years ago, but I'm sure you can get through their 90 or so episodes before summer end.

iTunes

What are some of your favorite podcasts?

Required summer reading: [marketing] Back-to-work books

The days might have passed to where you're no longer in school, but that doesn't mean you can stop learning! Summer reading was a necessary, but not always fun, portion of the school year. To continue in the tradition of previous summers, I wanted to give some book recommendations to liven up your book pile this summer.

 
 

While I am definitely someone who enjoys a beach read, these are a few of my favorite marketing beach reads.

Beach Reads for your Business

Rework by 37signals

I just finished this book the other day - it was incredibly quick read and very insightful into how you can avoid pitfalls in building your business. If you need a quick jolt about how you can change and run your business, this is a perfect under 2-hour read.

I loved the visuals, the authors' style, and the clearness of what they had to say. It was easy to follow and I really enjoyed learning more about the founders' journey in business.

You can do it your own way. Businesses don't need to be layers and layers of processes or shoot for staggering growth. Right-size your business instead of shooting for what is expected (growing employees, Public IPO, etc)

Sway: The Irresistible Pull of Irrational Behavior by Ori Brafman and Rom Brafman

These brothers come together and create a book to help explain the decisions that consumers make. They go into case studies and examples of just how irrational consumers are, and the small tweaks that can be made to drive action and change.

Understand how your consumers are irrational so you can use the underlying psychological principles behind your marketing tactics.

Advertising Life

The Art of Client Service by Robert Solomon

Clients got you down? Listen to how this account executive worked through the ad business and created value for his clients. More than just a glorified scheduler, Robert turned client service in a way to build client longevity for your business.

The stories are interesting and provide a slice of life for an account executive in an advertising agency. A read that offers 58 tips for marketing professionals.

Always create value. By being more, you create a better environment for your agency and coworkers. You do this in how you interact with others and creating a more effective relationship with clients. 

Hey Whipple, Squeeze This! by Luke Sullivan and Edward Boches

A comprehensive guide to great and classic advertising, this book is a must-read for anyone in advertising. Learning the craft means understanding how and why great ads work, something the authors showcase in every chapter.

Simplify, simplify! Don't get too caught up in a concept or an idea. Think about something in the simplest terms and convey a singular message.

Virality of Ideas

Contagious: Why Things Catch On by Jonah Berger

Remember all those fun email forwards that are now replaced by Instagram posts? Learn why each of those types of social shares went viral. Jonah Berger explains how things go "catch on" with his six principles.

Tell an interesting story. Every product has a story - even blenders - that can be used to grab and keep attention.

Made to Stick by Chip Heath and Dan Heath

Another brotherly dup deliver a book explaining why you remember some things, while forgetting others. Why do some ideas stick around and others fade? They found six commonalities among stories that kept them "sticky" over time.

Connect to people with emotion. Emotion will humanize stories, brands, and products so that people can connect to what you are trying to convey.

Personal Growth

Yes, Please! by Amy Poehler

Amy Poehler sheds light on her career, trials and tribulations on her way to success, and the comedic pals she made along the way. The SNL crew, like Seth Myers and Tina Fey, make an appearance and she delivers an homage to her Parks and Rec cast.

Hilarious and literally having me chortling at the airport, Amy packs insight and humor into the package. You knew she was funny, but get to know her even better in Yes, Please!

When you're ready to complain or be frustrated, just say, "Yes, please." Welcome new experiences and changes that come your way with openness and grit.

 
 

Daring Greatly by Brene Brown

Get into the arena and put yourself out there! Brene Brown did just that with her first TED Talk that went viral. Seeing the interest in her research on vulnerability and shame, she wrote a book dedicated to her many years of research.

Be open to being vulnerable. The best and the worst moments in life happen in that space. Without spending time feeling the negative or trying times, you won't be able to enjoy the good.

Now reading

Predictably Irrational

To be started soon, I'm excited to learn more about psychology (my original major) and human behavior.

What are you reading?

How I worked to become the best at writing

Being the best at what you do means that you do something you can be the best at. This means you drop working on things that you cannot or don't want to be the best at.

What does it take to be the best? Commitment. Commit to time. Commit the energy. Commit to focus.

You can't be the best at everything. Honing your time and energy into what you want to be good at can be the difference between success and failure.

By doing too many things, I was unable to spend any time on one thing. I made elaborate yearly goals like 3 hours a week learning German, read 2 books per week, or being able to do pull ups. These are all completely separate goals. And while it can work to a certain extent, spreading yourself too thin means you don't go anywhere.

Doing too many things also means that you give up on what you start when something new comes along. To name a few, I started: hand lettering, piano, other blogs, guitar, journaling, and so on.

If you get a chance, listen to JK Rowling talk about it. She says failure stripped away the unnecessary things in life and let her work on her talent: writing.

This year, outside of fitness, all my goals focused on writing. Blogging three times per week, becoming a contributor, volunteering, writing a book, and expanding business offerings all built toward improving my writing skills.

By completing these goals, I gained depth to my skill set instead of breadth.

Celebrate wins when getting people to use your services, even if it's pro bono

I started on my goal of writing more with a pro bono opportunity. I started writing blogs for AMA about their chapter, services, and events. While I was excited to be writing, I didn't always give myself an "Atta girl." After all, writing isn't that hard right? And it was for free, so it can't be that valuable?

I was wrong and here's why: I met amazing people and got a chance doing something I enjoy, even if no one ever reads it. It feels good to get use out of your skills, which AMA let me do. Some of my posts include:

By doing this, I put in extra time and effort which allowed me to feel more comfortable pitching paid work.

Leverage pro bono and bono writing to gain personal clients

Not all writing is the same and I wanted to get a variety of writing styles underneath my marketing belt. So I wrote for websites, blogs, and social media. I even had a chance to co-write a thought leadership white paper at HPE, showing me how different writing can be.

I turned this into a paid opportunity and created a blog on social media plugins for Wordpress. Wordpress site creation and social media familiarity made this writing type a more natural step.

Set goals around what you want to build

At the beginning of the year, I decided I wanted to be a contributor. I wasn't sure for who, although I did a lot of research into different content engines like Buzzfeed. I didn't land on anything in particular, but I still set a goal of contributing.

Through Facebook groups, like Being Boss, I found my first opportunity to write a featured piece on failure (coming at the end of the month!). I knew that my goal setting allowed me to get to the point where someone asked me to create content for them.

Create new offerings using your skills

After thinking about what customers needed, I decided that an e-book would be the best use of my time. It would also let me work on writing in long format.

However, writing an e-course/e-book is not an easy layup. It takes time and patience. By working toward this goal, I started to gain the ability to be more patient and set milestone goals. I built skills around the skill, which will help me on future projects.

How do you do all these things?

  • You need to want it. I spend my time outside of work writing or reading. Outside of training, I am doing those two things. My TV time and time surfing the internet has gone way down to help me reach these goals.

  • You need to work for it. Reading and writing go hand in hand, so make sure you're doing both. Anything worth doing takes time, so create the rigor around your processes to make sure you don't give up.

  • You need to own it. I went to an event and didn't even pitch people my own business. The client I worked with was giving me a lot of love, but I didn't follow through. To keep getting better and getting clients, shout what your value is out loud. Then people will be able to hear you.

What are you working toward? PS. If you want a shorter inspirational video, here's another favorite speech from Sylvester Stallone as Rocky.

Overcome struggles defining your personal brand's voice

Struggling with your personal brand voice? Writing for your personal brand can create a new set of challenges. Even if you're familiar with brand writing or already enjoy writing, it can be hard to turn your skills toward building your own brand.

As a personal brand, you may be worried about:

  • What will people think?
  • What should I be speaking about?
  • Will anyone even listen to me?
  • Why should anyone listen to what I have to say?

There's a lot more questions that arise when beginning your own branding. It's a fear of not being good/interesting/fun/exciting/different enough to maintain your presence or draw people in. It's not uncommon to be asking yourself these questions. Combating the fear about your voice can be as simple as knowing what you offer.

What do you bring to the table?

Think about your unique qualities that make you good/interesting/fun/exciting/different. All of these things make your voice valuable to your followers. This can be your:

  • Experience at work or expertise
  • Upbringing
  • Hobbies
  • Perspective
  • Sense of humor and personality

You have plenty working for you! Don't think to harshly of yourself. The more you are yourself, by not trying to put on airs or formality, means that more people will connect to what you have to say.

School trains people to write for a more formal audience. We wrote tons of research papers and reports, they were not really meant to be interesting since they followed APA or MLA style. But when it comes to developing your own voice and brand, you may be falling back into your more formal habits (like henceforth, heretofore, alas, etc.).

Some ways to overcome that weird voice that wants to takeover when you start communicating how "you think you should talk":

  • Write how you speak. Write down words that you use in conversation and include them in your voice. Make sure these aren't filler words or jargon, these types of words don't add value for your audience.
  • Write how you speak (yes I said this twice on purpose). Record yourself speaking about what you want to convey. More often then not, you may be able to explain something much more simply by talking it out. This happens to me a lot - someone asks me to describe my writing and I can do it quickly and eloquently. So the person I'm working with follows up - "Why didn't you just write that?"
  • Read your work aloud. Say the words aloud and see if you encounter any strange phrases or pauses. Your words should flow easily without stumbling. When you stumble, you've found something you wouldn't normally say.

Ways to overcome 3 common voice struggles

Not sure what you have to offer?

  • Ask family and friends!
  • Go through your resume. The highlights are probably where your strengths lie
  • Think about one of your favorite accomplishment. What helped you get there?
  • What are you an expert in? Look to your hobbies and work to see where you've developed expertise.

Not sure what you sound like?

  • Record yourself talking about a topic.
  • Listen to some of the people who inspire you. What are they good? What do they do that works?
  • Ask your friend and family to tell you some phrases or words that you use frequently.

Not sure how to define your personality?

  • Personality tests online are tons of fun! Try out Myers & Briggs or other reputable personality tests.
  • Strengthsquest is a great personality test program that incorporates feedback from people you know. If you have some time and money to invest, try this one out.
  • List the top 5 adjectives that describe you. This will at least give you a place to start.

Building a personal brand takes time and can be difficult! Don't give up your pursuit of your voice. Keep in mind:

  • It's ok for your voice to change over time. Learn how you operate and communicate best as you go. Continue growing and experimenting with what works best for you.
  • Just get started. The surest way to developing your voice is to start reading, writing, and speaking. You will never develop a voice if you never get started.
  • Be yourself. Don't try to be anyone else; your voice is unique to you. Learning to relieve yourself of the inclination to sound like someone else will let your voice shine.
4 questions to clarify your brand's voice

When you know you need a brand voice, but you're not sure how it's going, let me say I know exactly how you feel! I have been blogging for a long time - on blogs that no longer exist and for myself - with very little feedback on how my voice is progressing.

Voice covers everything you say about your brand - from a content blog to product descriptions. Each should reflect who you are, what you want to say, and what you wan the customer to feel. But this doesn't all get baked in overnight. It can take time to develop the HOW behind your WHAT. That's alright, anything worth doing takes time!

Clarify brand voice pin.png
Just get started.

This is the biggest piece of advice to offer. I had started a blog about my professional experiences and realized I wasn't really interested in what I was writing about and lacked material. I also wasn't interested in re-hashing my own day, so I stopped blogging within a couple posts.

If I hadn't just gotten started, I never would have ended up with Orange Slice and the posts I've created now. I had someone ask - what would I enjoy writing about that I am interested in professionally? I got the Orange Slice blog from that question. It may have just been a topic, but it was a topic that gave me time to work on my voice.

If you go back, not all of my posts are super amazing pieces of content. They started short. They were mostly a thought I fleshed out with some videos. They were about marketing concepts, but lacked some of the application portion to really help businesses. I wasn't sure if I was being too formal, too informal, not sharing enough of myself, or too self-indulgent. Sound familiar?

 So if you're struggling to develop your voice, think about:

Are you interested in what you're reading?

If you're writing for a brand, especially when it's your own, think about if you would read your own post. If you're not interested in your own writing, how can you expect others to be?

Maybe you're excited sometimes, but not all the time. Go back to the pieces that really got you excited about your product or business. Is there anything that they have in common? It could be data, use of quotes, memes, lists, etc. Maybe it had a similar message, one that you think really resonates. See if you can create on that theme.

Look at blogs you admire - is there anything from their content you really enjoy? Is there a way that they present information that you find really effective? While by no means should you copy and paste what they do, look at what types of formatting really resonated with you.

Who can give you honest feedback?

After writing, post and then seek feedback. This can be done through comments, solicited feedback from other professionals, or through friends. Beware: Don't ask someone that you think will try to please you by telling you everything is "Amazing!" Find someone who can give real feedback.

I have posted in professional Facebook groups to see what opinions were sparked. While generally positive, you may not receive a lot of responses through Facebook. Reaching out to individuals you know can yield more insightful results.

I reached out to another writer in the area and asked him to take a look - I was trying to hone my craft but wanted something to go off of before building a large amount of posts. His feedback was helpful because it helped me to build in more visuals, extra editing, and more confidence into my process.

Family and friends might be too busy to give you a lot of feedback, but sometimes that glance over will let you know what people are drawn to. I just installed Hotjar for this, but family and friends care about how you are doing and can be a good source of inspiration for future content.

Are you promoting yourself?

Your blog exists in a vacuum if you aren't putting yourself out there. It's ok if no one subscribes or listens, but actually promoting yourself and your content could change that! You may notice this is the biggest gap in your blog strategy.

I was especially afraid of this particular step, despite my background being in marketing. I had never promoted my previous blogs and was weirded out by trying to put myself out there on the internet. What if only creepy people responded? Or no one responded?

The fear of failing really kicked in here. Because if you didn't push out your content and no one paid attention that was ok. But if I tried by promoting and no one was interested, that was even worse. One day, I had enough of this catch 22 and started posting to Facebook and LinkedIn.

My goal: Do at least one thing that frightens me. For whatever reason, that seems to be posting on LinkedIn.

When promoting:

  • Connect with others in your industry. They may have some great pieces of advice for you. I listen to Being Boss and have learned a lot about trying to make things work for myself and how to connect with other entrepreneurs.
  • Meet people in person. A personal connection is invaluable. Don't forget about this method of meeting people, you can be surprised by how many great results this one tactic can create!
  • Do one thing that makes you afraid (both of that nothing will happen and that everyone will pay attention). Post online about your piece. Actually try to get people to stop and listen. Even if it's once a week, those self-promotions (even when they feel a little sales-y) can help get people to pay attention.

What do you want people to feel after they read?

Your content should be geared toward the reaction you want people to have. Do you want them to feel inspired? Do you want them to feel a sense of community? Do you want them to feel motivated?

Start with the reaction you want to garner and then build content around your messaging and end goal (purchase, subscribe, etc.). By understanding where you want your customer to end up, it can make the process of starting much easier.

My goal is to inspire in most posts - I'm also going through the same struggles and I wanted to share what I did to get passed them. I also have a secondary goal of education - I want people to come away having learned something. A lot of my posts are geared toward these two things with a goal of subscribing so I can help more people through some of the hurdles I've seen.

Develop your brand voice: Messaging, lexicon, and consistency

I talked a little about formulating how to understand what your brand sounds like, but what do you do next?

Once you determine what your brand stands for, you can have a much better idea of how to convey what you want to say. From there, developing your voice stems from messaging and how you want consumers to feel when reading your content.

 
 

Stay on your brand's message

Your brand has to stand for something. Everything it's working toward should come back to this purpose. When you stand for something, people will return to this purpose through each type of communication.

For great brands, you know exactly what that purpose is. It's being different, bringing the athlete out in everyone, or delivering overnight. Everything you do, write, or convey should lead back to this purpose.

Your message includes visuals. Your brand's voice stands next to these visuals and should do them justice. A photo is worth a thousand words, but for brands you likely will have much less than that in an advertisement. Use your space wisely.

List what your brand needs to convey with its voice

By listing what your brand is, and is not, you can help refine how you convey your messages. Your brand can be cute, but not contrived. It can be youthful, but not self important. By creating a definition that says what your brand is, as well as what it isn't, you can avoid falling into a stereotypical conversation.

List multiple adjectives that build on each other. You can be fun, simple, and emotive, without being pandering, false, or unclear. Building these layers into your brand, just like you do when you do a deep dive into your branding, will help make your messaging come across as multilayered.

Voice can change over time as well, brands can grow into their experience. Especially when speaking about personal branding, growing your voice to match your experience can showcase your expertise.

Try on different voices, build a brand lexicon, and get feedback

After listing your adjectives, start building a voice and lexicon. Include your lexicon and strategic brand voice choices in your brand style guide. The style guide (including a lexicon) will create a consistency across writers and teams so that even when people turnover, your brand still sounds the same.

A lexicon is a guide to the types of words you will use or not use. Instead of saying unique, maybe you say quirky. Instead of "Personal training" maybe it's always "Personal Training". Your lexicon can include terms from your industry, but shouldn't be limited to jargon. Building your lexicon should take some time, and can be refined as you go, but solidifying it will make sure your brand voice is consistent.

 
 

Jargon is vague. Whenever you find yourself relying on jargon terms like "synergy" (I'm sure you can think of more), realize you're not being clear. Think about how you can replace a term that people may not even know with something more simple.

Try out different voices when it comes to writing product descriptions, call to actions, etc. Narrow down to the options that best convey your voice. You should be able to A/B test the options that are your favorite to see what people are resonating with.

Stay true to your brand

Building a consistent voice is key to getting consumers to trust your offering. Building a style guide, lexicon, and testing what works - these all create a brand that you want to stick with and one that resonates best with consumers. Consistency of your promise, tone, voice, all go into creating your brand promise.

Staying true to the brand promise you've created can be hard: you want to pivot when you think things may not be working. However, a brand promise is what needs to keep showing up. Give your brand time to resonate with consumers and time for them to hear about it.

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Moving forward in life and business: Prioritizing and goal setting

So, you've got a bunch of new ideas and are not sure what you can do first. As someone new to business, you want to get everything up and running but are confused about where to start.

Avoid the analysis paralysis

Stop thinking, and start doing! Thinking about all the options is great for brainstorming or moving in different business directions, but it won't help to actually MOVE things forward. Consider your options, but don't forget to actually act.

Prioritize when you have too many ideas

More often than not, we have too many ideas about what we want to do. Rather than pursuing them all, it helps to make a prioritized list of to-dos and then start checking them off. You'll feel accomplished and ready to move on to the next thing, rather than feeling overwhelmed.

Have too many ideas and need help prioritizing?
Check out my Being Bold Bootcamp to find your business focus!

 
 

Step 1: Make a list

I know this doesn't work for everyone, some people would rather have a general idea of what their tasks are rather than see a huge list of them. Don't worry, this list will get shorter once you prioritize, cut anything that isn't serving you, and get things done.

Step 2: What is your biggest goal?

Is it to launch your business? Get a new product out there? Get more email subscriptions. Select your biggest, push goal. It may be for the month or for the year, since there can be plenty of smaller goals.

Step 3: Which tasks help you reach your biggest goal? Which do not?

If a task isn't helping you move closer to your big goal (BHAG - Big Hairy Audacious Goal - if you want) then move it over into a column that means it can rest for now. It's not as large of a priority as some of the other tasks.

Step 4: Identify steps toward your goal.

If you want 5000 subscribers, then identify the steps that get your there. It might be building your email list, increasing your visibility, or driving traffic to your site.

Step 5: Align your tasks with the steps that help you reach your goal.

Place the tasks underneath each step, and then walk to your BHAG knowing that everything you need to do will be accomplished.

What about concurrent priorities?

I deal with priorities that are ongoing or long-term by breaking my goals into months. For example, I am going to focus on personal branding, training for Tough Mudder, writing, and gaining traction in my business for June.

These might be a lot of things, but they are not all business related and each one helps me move forward personally or professionally. As my monthly goals, they are walking me toward my yearly goal of growing my business, writing a book & launching an e-book, and completing Tough Mudder.

What about business goals and personal goals?

These can be totally separate, or together, based on where you are in your business. If your side hustle is now a 9-5, then you may have time to have a separate set of goals. For me, my top 4 monthly goals are all outside of work activities, so I cannot have too many. 4 goals seems like it has been the most I can try to work toward so I don't get too scattered.

 
 

My criteria to prioritize tasks:

  • Will this help me make money? Whether it's investing in my skills or taking time to build my voice through blogging, these goals and steps will help me become more financially happy.
  • Is this building the skills I need to make my business successful? I rely on my writing and analysis skills to make myself more successful in side hustling. A lot of the things I enjoy doing build those skills, so that I am not throwing myself in too many directions.
  • Do I enjoy this? Not all side hustle activities are going to be fun, but the end goal should be. I don't want to work toward a goal that I don't enjoy.
  • Is it a quick win? If I can finish something quickly, I will complete it in the morning so that I feel productive for the rest of my day. Quick wins might be writing, writing a tough email, working out, or eating a healthy breakfast.
  • Am I building healthy habits that lead to success? By training almost every day, and meal prepping for my week, I am building healthy habits that contribute to my ability to focus on my business and work harder to better myself. I knock out the most important things - like my personal health - to make sure I am mentally and physically in the right place to contribute to others.

Have too many ideas and need help prioritizing?
Check out my Being Bold Bootcamp to find your business focus!

How do I remain wholehearted despite failures?

Brene Brown talks about how people who are wholehearted approach life and failing. She goes in depth about her research and what she's found people who are wholehearted do. From here, entrepreneurs and freelancers can take further inspiration about building the blocks of their business.

What can you learn from dealing with failures and remaining wholehearted?

Success consists of going from failure to failure without loss of enthusiasm.
— Winston Churchill

Go after what you want.

Stop making excuses and start tracking what you want to accomplish. See how the numbers add up or how many rejections stack up. 

  • Track what you want to accomplish. By bringing tracking to your dream or goal, you can see your progress which will help motivate you to keep moving forward.
  • Keep moving toward what you want despite rejection. People will tell you no. You are the ultimate salesman for your life: it's your job to show people why they should say "Yes."
  • Don't be afraid to say "No." If you end up with an opportunity that gives you a bad feeling, is not financially viable, or is not a step in the right direction, don't be afraid to say no. Saying "No" to an opportunity that's not right will leave room for the one that is.

Say yes to yourself.

While you're going to experience failure, remember the only person that's going to give yourself permission to succeed is yourself. Don't hold yourself back by refusing to give yourself permission to apply to the big job, say "Yes" to the next challenge, or quit to start your own business. Only you can tell yourself that:

  • You're worth it.
  • You'll make it.
  • Your dream is worth pursuing.

Let your fear motivate you.

Dreams can be motivating, but so can your fears. Without letting your fear control you, let it motivate you to get that new car or apply to that dream company. Let it be an extra tool in your toolbox, it will help you remember why you started.

Remember why you started.

Don't forget what put you down the path of freelancing or starting your own business. In marketing or any other profession, remember why you started to help you retain and grow your passion for the work you're doing. Tangible reminders of where you started can include:

  • Something to remind you of home. I like to use some coffee mugs I took from my parents house to remind me of how far I've come.
  • A rejection. Take pride in being rejected because it won't happen forever. Stephen King posted all of his rejections on the wall:
By the time I was fourteen the nail in my wall would no longer support the weight of the rejection slips impaled upon it. I replaced the nail with a spike and went on writing.
— Stephen King
  • Your first dollar. The first dollar you've ever earned as a business can be a powerful reminder to keep moving forward.

Stay grateful.

Wake up and be grateful for what you have and have achieved. Even if those successes seem far away or you're upset about where you are now, there is still time to reflect and be grateful. Being happy that you have your family, friends, fur-babies, home, or health, can go a long way to assuage the feelings of failure. Big and small achievements can be recorded so you don't forget what you've achieved.

  • Write down your successes. Small achievements in your career, exercise, or personal life all count. Write them down in a place you see every day.
  • Start a "Thank You" jar. Physically writing down what you're grateful for every day and placing it in the jar will let you see how much you have to be thankful for.
  • Start the day with meditation. Sounds a little hokey, but it works. Think about and visualize all the people or actions you are grateful for first thing in the morning to get your mind ready for all of the great things coming.

Don't forget to take care of yourself.

While you're out achieving your dreams and hustling, take care of yourself. A good nights sleep and exercise can go a long way to keeping you in the right frame of mind to succeed. Taking care of yourself isn't limited to sleep and exercise either, it can include your food or anything else you do to recover (like binge watching Netflix). When you're pushing yourself harder, especially on top of another job, remember:

  • If you don't take care of yourself, you can't take care of anyone else.
  • Help yourself to be at the top of your game. Neglecting yourself when you need to be ready for the next challenge is not setting yourself up for success.
  • Why go into business for yourself if you're going to treat your top employee poorly? You are the number one employee in  your own business. When trying to expand or just get your next client, people want to see you can take care of the #1 employee (heard a variation of this advice from Being Boss and wanted to share).

Keep learning from every failure.

No matter how many times it feels like you've failed, keep learning and moving forward. Much progress is made just from plodding forward, one foot after another, until you look up and realize you've made it to your destination. Every journey is made up of single steps, and to give up means you'll never arrive. So what other choice is there but to keep moving forward and gaining life lessons from every stumble and fall?

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