Perfect content? Are you kidding?

Do you get nervous whenever you have to send something out, worrying that it won’t be exactly right?

Do you cringe every time you’re about to press publish on Facebook?

Do you muck around with your sales pages, your marketing materials, your emails to the point of spinning in circles? Or even worse, to the point of not sending them out at all?

It’s time for a perfection intervention!

You know that there is no such thing as perfection when it comes to creating content for your business, right? It is simply impossible to get to this mythical point called ‘perfection’ because the truth is that you can continue to make changes and improvements for ever! Creative work will never be perfect, but at a certain point, you must just decide that it is done.

An old CEO of mine once said: “Don’t let perfection get in the way of progress.” I didn’t realise how true that was until I started my own business.  You see, it’s always easier to let go of the content when it’s not your baby that it relates to. Not that I was ever sloppy or slapdash with my content previously, but when I was writing for other brands, the attachment simply wasn’t as high as it is with my own; it was easier to let it go at ‘really good’ versus ‘outstanding’.

It’s perfectly normal and understandable for any business owner who has vested endless energy and effort into getting every little detail of their business just right, to want to get every single word perfect. What I’m going to suggest however, is that you may need to lower your standards a bit. Now, I’m not saying to put out low-quality content by any means, but if your standards are so high that you never actually reach them, you are in fact inhibiting your own growth. How will anyone get to know, like and trust you if they never hear from you? How will prospects understand where you position your services if you don’t talk about them?  It is important to strike a balance and have standards that are achievable.

Perfection paralysis is a real thing. But it’s not a good thing if you want your business to expand.

Here are 4 considerations that may help you to embrace imperfection.

Just start creating

Author, Brene Brown, summed up this irony beautifully in her book Daring Greatly: “Perfectionism crushes creativity – which is why one of the most effective ways to start recovering from perfectionism is to start creating.” Perfectionism can cause us to stop creating before we even get started simply due to fear that we won’t live up to our own standards. Ridiculous but true! And the more we do this, the more it continues to occur.  The reality is that self expression and creativity are inherently messy and imperfect.

Take the example of painting. In our culture, most adults refuse to pick up a brush and paint a picture because they think they can’t create something worthwhile.  Head to any kindergarten or preschool however, and the room will be filled with enthusiastic painters, all creating their own masterpieces freely and excitedly.  They have not yet learnt the meaning of perfectionism.  Their messy, imperfect paintings are beautiful!

Conversation and connection

Building relationships with people is the primary purpose of business content, therefore, when creating content it may help to think about it like a conversation. When you talk to someone you don’t plan every word you are going to say ahead of time. You may hesitate or struggle for words but that doesn’t reduce your ability to connect with that person. In fact, showing some ‘humanness’ and imperfection often makes you more relatable.  Remember the old saying ‘nobody is perfect’? Well it’s true! So stop trying to be. If you’re aiming to provide a flawless image in your business comms you may actually be doing damage to your brand. Why? Because you raise questions and concerns amongst your readers about the possibility of perfection.  You alienate them by making them feel less than worthy, which is the opposite of what you want to do with your content.

Consider the stats

Short-term content pieces, such as emails and blogs, unfortunately don’t get read all the way through by up to 70% of viewers. Sad but true! Most readers skim read these pieces of content.  So, as far as perfection goes, it may help to realise that your audience is NOT nit-picking your content nearly as much as you are!

Everything is a test

As business owners we should always be trying and testing and measuring new things.  As entrepreneurs and innovators – that’s what we do! Inevitably, it won’t all land perfectly. Viewing this as ‘failure’ however, is not useful to anyone.  Rather think of it as R&D – research and development.  The more you try things out, the more information you uncover, which helps you to do it better or differently next time. And since nothing is ever perfect, everything is a test!

Stop aiming for perfection, and start seeking out the beautifully imperfect. It is there that you learn and grow.

Let me know if you struggle with perfection….I can help.

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13 Reasons Why it’s a great story

I have a hangover. A ’13 Reasons Why’ hangover. And it’s a bad one.

If you don’t know what I’m referring to, it’s a TV (Netflix) series, based on the 2007 novel Thirteen Reasons Why by Jay Asher. The show revolves around a student who kills herself after a series of negative incidents brought on by school mates.  Running over 13 episodes, the central character, Hannah Baker, narrates the story via tapes she has left as evidence for her suicide.  Each episode ‘outs’ one of the students, outlining their impact on her final decision. It is harrowing and compelling, and has left a lasting impression on me as a parent.

I binge-watched the last 4 episodes last night because I needed to know what happened.  I simply couldn’t think what Clay, the shy boy who loved Hannah who acts as an audience surrogate as he listens to the tapes, could have done to her so I had to watch his episode, tape 11. And then, well, there were only 2 left and I couldn’t sleep not knowing what had compelled this young bright girl to finally take her own life. (In the end, I couldn’t sleep anyway, because the content was so alarming that I kept dreaming about what life-changing horror the suicide of one of my kids would bring.)

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5 Ways to Increase Visibility as a Business Owner

Business owners need visibility for growth. In the highly connected world in which we now operate, there are new ways to increase visibility, beyond the boardroom. Don’t get me wrong, I love an old-skool face-to-face meeting with a prospect. Maybe I’m showing my age (!), but when you’re sitting down with someone you have ALL your persuasive tools at your disposal—your voice, your body language, your active listening skills—those are the big guns.

But face-to-face sales take a lot of time and time is the modern business owner’s nemesis. Given many of us work with (or want to work with) clients from all over the world it can be a near-on impossible task to reach people in person. And have you noticed too, that a lot of people don’t want to meet face-to-face as a first step, like they used to? There’s a whole lot of research that happens first…a gathering of information from a variety of sources to help them make up their minds before contacting you.

These realities have forced me to get creative and look for alternative ways to ‘get in front of’ my prospects. None of these options put pressure on people to buy. Instead, they compel people to learn more about you in their own time, which may make them more inclined to buy down the track. Eventually you’ll get the ‘face time’ you want. Continue reading

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Meaningful connection with audience begins with connection with self

The content you produce for your business should be about creating meaningful connection with your audience.  Yes, it should demonstrate expertise, yes it can be for the ultimate goal of creating sales, but the underpinning motive should be to connect.   The thing is, meaningful connection isn’t only about the content you share with your people – it’s also about connecting with yourself and your ideas.
Arguably, if you get the second type of connection right first – the self connection –  meaningful connection with those you want to help will come as a natural next step.

A really great way to encourage self connection is with old fashioned pen and paper.

The process of writing long-hand is SO good for the brain and for the free-flow of ideas.   There is evidence to suggest that writing long-hand:

  • improves retention of information (handwritten notes helps retain knowledge as the brain summarises and comprehends better when committing notes to paper)
  • increases critical thinking and problem solving (strong writers and avid readers are non-linear thinkers and are more able to draw connections and develop unconventional solutions to complex problems)
  • heightens creativity (using paper forces the brain to slow down and use phrases or shapes to solidify complex ideas).

A huge bonus is that you also can’t self-edit as easily as when you use a keyboard, which means a higher likelihood of actually getting all of your ideas out on the page before pressing the delete button!Writing in long-hand is a fabulous way to create a meaningful connection with self partly because of the physical act of feeling the writing surface and holding the pen. Your brain is actually required to use thought to direct precise movement of that pen across the writing surface.  Whereas, the alternative, using a keyboard, is a simple memory-based action – executing keystrokes is a repetitive motion based on letter placement on the keyboard.People often prefer typing because of the speed and convenience and the ability to share and print documents easily.  All very valid reasons.  However the benefits outlined above are often lost when you hit the keys instead of the paper.  Thankfully there are ways to have your cake and eat it too – using a stylus to write on a tablet or using a service such as Evernote to scan your handwritten notes are great ways to get the best of both worlds.

Here are a couple of ways to connect with yourself and your ideas

Mind Mapping

The writing of content on paper requires more than just scribbling on sticky notes or idle doodling.  Mind mapping is a great way to develop concepts or solve problems because it encourages unstructured thinking and it activates the creative side of your brain. When you write a whole bunch of ideas down around a particular topic, you get to see the connection between them.  This often helps you find the story or pathway within the idea and connects you more fully to it.

Multiple Colours

Incorporating different colours into your writing is beneficial in both academic and professional settings. Using a consistent colour-coded system allows you to easily see where your priorities are and where pertinent activities or thoughts are included.  If you’re more of a visual person then this will really suit you. You can get quite creative with your colour coding!

A Focused Moment

When you’re in a position where you know you need some help or it’s time to make a change, but you’re not quite sure where to begin, stop for a minute and take a good look around you. Where you are right now is super important.  Then write it down. Describe what you see, how you feel, who’s around you and what you’re doing. Be ok with where you are but acknowledge you want something more or different. That clarity and acknowledgement of the present will help you figure out the next best step for you.

Examination of Fear 

Being wrapped in fear is paralysing.  Sometimes the fear is founded but often it’s only perceived.  So if you’re able to pause for a few minutes to examine what you’re actually afraid of, you’re better able to face those fears.  Write them down.  Where is the fear felt on your body? How does it affect your thinking, your breathing? What if that fear wasn’t real? What if it was removed in an instant? When you can face the fear, you can embrace the fear which helps you work with it and move forward rather than stay paralysed.

 

Connecting with yourself first, through pen and paper, to understand where you’re at is going to put you in good stead to write the words your audience needs to hear at any given point. Take a moment, don’t rush it. The right words to create meaningful connection will come.

If you need a hand with implementing this process into your weekly marketing schedule, drop me a line. We can do a thirty minute power session to get you on the right track.

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The value of content marketing

While content marketing has been a very hot topic for the last few years, many companies and marketers still do not understand how to use it and why it is so effective. Understanding the importance of content marketing and ways of efficiently using it could be a turning point for your business’ success.

First of all, did you know that approximately 26% of desktop users and 15% of mobile consumers are using ad-blockers to remove any advertisement on websites they are visiting? (ref: Interactive Advertising Bureau study, July 2016). These numbers are huge, and it is a good indication that traditional marketing is losing its power.  Paid advertising was THE way to spread brand’s message in online marketing, but not any more. Ad blocking is on the increase, which is great for consumers, but a terrible trend for marketers who rely heavily on paid advertising.  Luckily, there is still a way to get cut-through with your message.

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Batching is bitchin’

Have you ever wondered how to get more done in less time? I certainly did….and still do, often (but that’s because I’m determined to only ever work a 3 day week!)

Well I’ll tell you how all the super prolific content stars do it. It’s called BATCHING. And it’s absolutely BITCHIN’ when done well (that’s surfer dude speak for awesome, cool, amazing).

So what is BATCHING?

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How to write like a somebody when you feel like a nobody

Are you sick to death of everyone telling you how to stand out in this online world? Do you ever wonder whether anyone is actually going to bother to listen to your advice anyway? I used to feel the same way.

I have never been an introvert but, after many years of successful corporate life, somehow I lost my nerve when it came to promoting myself and my own business.  I knew what I was offering was valuable and I had the credibility and know-how to back it up, but I didn’t understand why people would read my writing and marketing tips when the web was completely flooded with information from people I deemed more authoritative than me.

Why would anyone listen to me?

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Don’t undervalue yourself: how to remove the stress of pricing your services

Pricing is one of the trickiest P’s of marketing.  It’s especially tricky when you are pricing your OWN services because a) you’re too personally involved and b) it’s hard to measure exactly like-for-like value. Putting a price on a can of soft drink is a whole lot easier than pricing a health transformation service for instance. It doesn’t seem to make it any less complicated when you know that you deliver amazing value and transformation for your clients – many of us still get stuck.

I struggled with this when I first started my copywriting business.  I went from a large 6 figure salary in corporate world, believing every day that I was absolutely worth every penny of that to the company, to charging myself out at less than half of my hourly rate as a copywriter when I first opened my doors.  In hindsight it was ridiculous! I had SO much experience, so much to offer, but somehow I just found it vomit-worthy charging more.  When I first tried to settle on an hourly rate I looked at competitors for ideas and I looked at complementary services to try and find where I fit. Whilst I could gauge an industry ‘norm’, I really struggled to know what would be an acceptable amount for me to charge. The thing was that I wasn’t a kid just starting out in this profession, nor did anyone have exactly the same experience as me.

I felt I deserved to earn roughly what I had been earning prior but somehow it didn’t seem to work out that way…

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Key things to consider before attending a writer’s retreat

Whether you’re a business-owning 40 something (ahem) like me, a fresh university graduate, a middle-aged career-changer, or a retired widow, a writing retreat could be just what you need to start that book, finish your online course content, or finally get those blogging ideas out of your head and onto the page. It isn’t everyone’s idea of fun, but it certainly is mine….and it’s also exceptionally useful, productive and necessary when you lead a busy life and need dedicated time to get things done.

There are people I know who are mystified as to why I would want to run away and ‘just write’ for the weekend. They can’t fathom why I’d have to ‘go away’ to do that when I have a perfectly great work space at home. They also don’t really understand when I say that I actually just want to write ALL day, like 8 hours per day, almost non-stop, only breaking for coffee and chocolate.

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21 awesome email subject lines that work

Email marketing is not dead!

BUT, given the amount of email that the average person receives each day, it’s hard to make a positive impression on that inbox that gets results.

Email marketing is about one thing: engagement.

It’s hard enough to get people to read your email when it’s in their inbox, but what if it doesn’t even make it past the spam folder? Some email service providers such as Yahoo, Gmail and Hotmail, use an ‘engagement score’ to decide whether your email will get beyond the gate keeper or not. Continue reading

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