Teaching this old dog new tricks: #COPYCON18 (a conference for word nerds)

It’s easy to view yourself as an ‘expert’ once everyone else does.  You get asked to speak on certain topics, requested for input into articles, and invited to sit on panels – for me that’s being a copywriter, a content coach, a marketing coach.  You could be forgiven for thinking to yourself: I’ve got this. I reckon I know my stuff – (finally!).

And then suddenly you realise a couple years have gone by and you haven’t really done much ‘professional development’ or learnt anything super new in your specific field of expertise. Or along the way you’ve diversified, and the thing you’re known for is only one small string to your now blossoming bow.

That’s when #copycon18 came into my field of vision.  Great timing and just the ticket to reignite my copywriter’s soul.

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Boundaries create your own Tuscan movie

Christopher is muscular and tanned but lithe, like most of the men around here.  They work, physically, for most of the day, every day of the week. His hair is long and dark, tousled and unkempt, and his eyes are dark but dancing. He has that relaxed way of wearing a shirt with the top few buttons undone and the sleeves rolled up, exposing strong forearms and a brown chest, that is suggestive, but not on purpose. He swaggers gently, meaningfully, and takes his time to construct his sentences, tasting every word in his mouth, ensuring they’re the right ones. The words finally fire out at warp speed, defying the calm countenance from which they emit.

He then sees us, shrugs to his friend, and says: “G’day, are you guys from Australia? I’m from Brisbane.”

Whaaaat?

You see Christopher made a choice.  A very distinct, clear choice to live his life a certain way.

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How many words should my book contain?

Book writing is a big deal. It’s no simple undertaking. The first question I get asked when someone is considering using my help for their book writing project is ‘how many words should my book contain?’

My answer is always: ‘How long is a piece of string…?’

No, really…how long is it?

I know that doesn’t help you AT ALL, and sounds like the kind of smartypants answer that would have gotten me in trouble at the dinner table, but it’s true.  Your book needs to contain as many words as it takes to cover off your topic properly, without repetition and without gaping holes in the knowledge.

I get asked the ‘how many words’ question almost immediately people engage with me about writing their book.  And it’s normal to wonder. I get it.  Because a book writing project is a big thing. There are a LOT more words in a book than in anything else you’ve probably ever written (unless you were one of those crazy smart people who sat down and wrote a PhD.!) And the prospect of writing a whole heap of words can be daunting.  It’s time-consuming, you’re wondering whether you actually know ‘enough’ and you’re hoping like heck that I’m not going to charge you for editing ‘by the word count’!

It’s just as frustrating for me as it is for you that there is no perfect answer to this million dollar book writing question.

So, will you settle for some guidelines for your book writing word length?

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Feeling those New Year/New You vibes?

The irony is not lost on me that I’m currently drinking detox tea whilst eating a chocolate (admittedly, it’s homemade and has a high content of cacao, but still…). But sometimes that’s life and it’s also business, right? Sometimes things are just topsy turvey or not quite as expected or a real clash of ideas and effort.  But guess what? It doesn’t matter one little bit. I’ve stopped worrying about this stuff now. I’ve stopped trying to be perfect in my life, my parenting, my business. Because God knows it was killing me trying.

I do however, always strive to be my best at what I attempt and to give my all to whatever I’m doing, but sometimes life deals you broken arms (my son’s second in 4 months), absent partners (my husband is overseas for his second 3-month stint in 7 months), accident-prone pets (my cat had his second trip to the vet in 2 weeks – first a broken toe, now a laceration to his belly), or cloudy brains (I just can’t quite get mine into full-on work mode when it’s so warm). And that’s ok.  As long as you roll with it, don’t act like a victim, and learn to alter your course a little to adapt. (I did a short video about this yesterday, with some ideas on how to adapt)

Why am I telling you this?

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Success is a feeling not a fact

It’s a quiet week this week…no work, no gym, just holidays, a little indulgence and family time. Quite possibly my favourite time of year.  For with the relaxation and the letting go of the 12 months that I’ve just lived through, comes the hopes and dreams and possibilities of the next 12, just around the corner.
I must admit to finding it difficult spending too long in the completely relaxed zone however, without any hint of planning or plotting for the year ahead.  I do love chilling out, but I also have a very busy and excited mind that likes to do things and I’m driven by achievement. (Tell me I’m not alone in this feeling?)

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4 awesome ways you know your content matters

At an event I spoke at recently, a question was asked of me: “Does content matter?”

Ooh….

Hells yeah it matters!  With a caveat…

Content for content’s sake is garbage and a waste of time. Content that is purely self-serving and sales-oriented is also icky.  But content that adds value, educates, enlightens, inspires, motivates, challenges, raises awareness, absolutely fricken matters. And that’s what we should all be aiming to create. Content with an impact.

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Content creation when you hate writing

I get this question (or rather, exasperated statement!) about content creation all the time.
“I can’t write!”
“How am I supposed to do all this content creation everyone expects when I HATE writing!?”
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I’m one of those people you probably love to hate, because I love writing. I always have. Ever since I could pick up a crayon I have loved writing.

My essays won me competitions in school. My unsolicited articles secured me paid travel-writing gigs. My copywriting skills got me promotion. And my succinct wit has won me a number of 25 words or less competitions (my husband is still waiting for me to win a car or something more useful than hairtongs though…)

Yessiree, I am madly in love with the written word. It’s my favorite way to create content for my business.

However, I know for a fact that my love is not shared by all. In fact, I know for sure that some entrepreneurs actually hate writing. They may not even be bad at it, regardless, they hate it. And that’s cool.

I’m going to bust a myth that plagues the marketing world … that:

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5 things I learnt about business from the circus

You may or may not know that I ran away to the circus last week. I was accompanied by my daughter, who just happens to be an aerial student, but it was really me who ran away….

You see I always fantasised about joining the circus, enjoying the life of a traveller, with the smell of the greasepaint and the buzz-like-no-other of performing to a thrilled audience in raptures. But there was no circus school nearby when I was little, and my parents were middle-class professionals – they weren’t exactly going to seek one out to satisfy my whimsy.  I did ballet and jazz and musical theatre and that was enough. It was wonderful, if a little controlled and contained.

But I always loved the circus. And then I forgot that.

I forgot that incredible thrill that the big top offers…until I saw Cirque du Soleil when I was in my late 20s. I remembered how intensely terrifying it is to watch the tightrope walkers and high flyers on the trapeze, I remembered the squeamish marvelling at the contortionists, I remembered the childish joy of the clowns.  The feelings surfaced again, those feelings of freedom and unadulterated joy that I had when I was so small.  So when Miss 9 was asked to join the performance troupe with her circus school, there was no hesitation. Living vicariously may have to be enough.

The first performance trip with the troupe was to The Lismore Show last week. Three days, nine performances and a whole lot of fun and craziness in between.  Obviously I was there to support the kids but interestingly I learnt some things from the coaches and support crew that I didn’t expect.  Things that can directly be applied to the world of business.

5 things I learnt about business from the circus:

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I want to be a dolphin trainer

Over the years I’ve wanted to be many things: a showjumping champion, a dancer, an actor, a lawyer, a journalist, a food photographer, a dog breeder, a travel writer and tour operator. At one point I even wanted to just be a lady of luxury on a yacht. I’ve often found myself SO inspired by the place I find myself standing, or what I’ve just experienced, or who I’m with, that I seriously have considered big career-altering-life-changing shifts (CALC shifts).  I am able to perfectly envision myself doing that thing daily, and I’m filled with joy and excitement.

My recent trip to SeaWorld – unexpectedly – filled me with that same sense of opportunity and desire.

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Are you one of the ‘lucky’ ones?

I’ve been thinking a lot about the structure of my business and what I offer and what really lights me up.

A long time ago I made a pact with myself NOT to do any more of the things that I didn’t thoroughly enjoy. I started this process when I was working in corporate, in fact. I was fortunate enough to have the ear of the CEO so I was able to manoeuvre my way into jobs and projects I loved. Don’t get me wrong, it didn’t happen overnight (nor did I have to sleep with him – YIKES!) I had to do the hard yards first and prove myself. But once I had done that, and built a strong relationship with senior management, I was able to ask for what I wanted and, within reason, stop doing what I didn’t enjoy. 
It’s called, making your own way.
And now I run a business that I truly love, using the skills and experience and networks I made throughout my corporate career, coupled with the imprinted behaviours I wanted to model and a dismissal of those I didn’t. I have the flexibility and freedom I want to be a present mother and business owner and wife. I get paid well for the work I do because I make sure it’s damn valuable and what people need – and I ‘over deliver’, or rather, ensure my clients get a super high level of service and knowledge and care, (which incidently I consider ‘normal’). I get to take a break when I want to, and I get to work crazy hard when I’m in flow. I get to run my own show and celebrate my success the way I desire. And I also get to fall apart on my own terms if things don’t work out as planned.

A lot of my friends who work for the government, or in corporate, or at schools think I’m ‘lucky’. They see the midweek lunches, the evening events, the retreats, the volunteering at school, and think I’m ‘lucky’.

It’s actually called ‘engineering’ your life.
It’s called planning.
It’s called making it happen for yourself – because noone else will.
I get that we’re all different. And I get that not everyone has the same drive or know-how or situation. I also get that there are a lot of excuses. And I get that there is a lot of ‘waiting’ for the right moment.

I’m no hero. I’m no superstar. And I’m also not that ‘lucky’ in the traditional sense. (Heck – still waiting to win a raffle, let alone Tattslotto!)

I’m just me, and I took control. And I had a plan. A vision. And I wondered hard enough what would happen if I made it happen.

It’s not perfect every day, but it’s certainly MY day, MY way.

In October I’m running a retreat. And it could be the very start of something amazing for you. I know how much I benefited in the early stages of my business from being immersed in the process of creating. Immersed in the business of business. Immersed in the fold of like-minded people. No distractions, lots of accountability.

If you would like to join me on this weekend – for 3 nights or just one day – please comment below or email me and we’ll talk about what it will mean for you.

This is not a big group retreat where you’ll feel like a number, get overwhelmed or flail. This is intimate and personalised. This is a place where you will achieve what you set out to achieve. I am fiercely protective of who I let into the fold, only because the wrong energy can upset the entire applecart. But I’m super confident that this is the right way to help the right people move forward with their business quickly and calmly, and move closer to that position of ‘lucky’.