Author events: open up the conversation

I was thrilled to be part of the inaugural Sorrento Writer’s Group Author Event on Saturday. The event provided the chance for local authors to exhibit their wares and to connect with each other and their community, as well as for the Sorrento Writer’s group to let people in on what they’re about.

The opportunity to exhibit came to me at the 11th hour; I’m not a part of the Sorrento Writer’s Group nor do I reside on the pointy end of the Peninsula where most of the publicity was being focused.  Happily though, it was by helping one of the members of my Facebook group (The Content Couch) with her table set up for the event that I became aware that this could also be a useful place for me to be.

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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:

great content creators = great writers. Continue reading

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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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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’.

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The 15 minute blog post

You know those days when you’ve thrown your content calendar out the window, you’re feeling less than inspired but you know you HAVE to write a blog post to keep your fans in the loop and your subscribers happy? Well, don’t just write any old junk, or worse yet, write nothing.  Both options are bad for your reputation. I get that you’re time-poor and not always feeling like JKK Rowling, so I’m going to show how to write a quality blog post fast. In fact, you could do this process and get one out in less than 15 minutes.
Here’s how.

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Gifts for absent husbands

I was buying a present for my husband for this birthday this morning from one of his favourite stores.  I felt a bit rushed and somewhat perplexed about what to buy him.  Normally I don’t struggle at all but this year it’s a tad different. There was an added element of complexity to the ordinarily joyous process of gift-giving. The gift had to be small and light and not contain anything ‘tricky’, so that it could make its way effectively overseas to where my man is currently living.

I was staring at all the stuff, beautifully displayed, hoping something would jump out at me. The woman working in the store came up gently and said “you look like you need a hand”.

I explained my situation and as a I did she slowly nodded and leaned in with this look of ‘knowing’ on her face.

During the course of her ‘recommendations’, she spoke to me about how her husband spent 30 years travelling overseas for work, how it took time to reconnect when he returned (but that it did get easier), how her children were often wary of their dad and where he fit in to the scheme of things when he got back, how she encouraged immediate bonding with the kids and their dad by disappearing for the weekend with girlfriends, and how she used to cope with it all.  She joked about how she always struggled with gift-giving when he was away, so eventually they simply celebrated when they were next together. She told me how now, in semi-retirement, they travel back and forth to Noosa more often (the place they would take family holidays) and enjoy each other’s company in different surrounds.  She runs her own interior design business and he consults in the city, but they allow themselves breaks after a big project. She spoke of the simple pleasure of the perfect small leather travel bag which she keeps packed with only the essentials, so that she’s ready to join him wherever and whenever their fancy takes them. And the big lesson… she spoke of how she’s come to realise that a marriage is about quality not quantity.

The strategies she imparted were wonderful and her gift ideas were spot on. The way she relayed her experience touched me deeply, as it was emotive, personal, yet helpful, and therefore highly powerful. I bought more than I intended to because I was so intrigued by her story, I just wanted to keep listening. I believed in her and the ideas she proposed, so I chose them all.  I wanted to breathe in her experiences and make them my own. Hell, I want to be her in 15 years time!

Again, the lesson is clear. Be relatable to your prospects.

Tell your story in a way that matters to them. Find some common ground. Help them with their predicament. Make your story interesting, intriguing. And they will ask for your help. They will buy.

Go and be you. Unapologetically you. And tell your stories to those who need to hear them.

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Email marketing platforms in review

Email marketing isn’t dead. Let’s just put that out there first. It is VERY much alive and well. Email marketing is also one of the most cost-effective marketing tools out there. It is easy to manage, gives you full control and allows you to establish direct contact with your customers. So, as part of your overall content marketing plan you need to be considering how and when you harness email marketing.

Email marketing is a proven strategy with which to promote your business. It helps you attract new customers and maintain close relationships with existing loyal customers.  You can manage your contacts by simply keeping a list of names and email addresses, or you can create a complex database full of subscribers segmented by demographic slices and engagement levels. The challenge is knowing what will work for you and what choices you need to make.  Which method you choose, and what tools you buy,  really just depends on how big your budget is and how sophisticated your business is at this point.

The first step is to know WHY you want to do email marketing

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Chasing Sunsets

I had coffeee this week with a guy I haven’t caught up with for a while.
He’s a photographer and videographer who does really great work.

When I asked him how he’d been going, how business was ticking along, he surprised my by saying ‘just ok”… and then he qualified it by saying that it was probably because he’d been busy chasing sunsets.

I thought ‘chasing sunsets’ was a metaphor, you know, for being distracted by shiny things like most entrepreneurs are. But no, he’d LITERALLY been off chasing sunsets, with his camera, trying to get the perfect shot!

I laughed at the fact that my brain went straight to the metaphoric reference. But he’s a dude and dudes are mostly  very literal creatures. So I dug a little deeper. What I found out was that he’d been spending over an hour every night for over a week trying to get the perfect sunset shot….just for his own amusement, oh, and to dish up some Instagram gratification. Really? Yup.  To get likes.

And yet he had been moaning about the fact that he wasn’t charging what he was worth, that people were taking advantage of his generous nature, that he was spending the most time with the clients paying the least, that he hadn’t increased his database for ages….

Had he spent those 10 hours getting his podcast out there to grow his audience….
Had he spent those 10 hours creating that free video series optin to grow his database….
Had he spent those 10 hours refining his packages and communicating those….

…he may have felt a little differently about his business. A little bit better than ‘just ok’.

Chasing sunsets is absolutely delightful. I get it. And at the moment, they are stunning where we live. It’s great for the soul. It may also be great for getting likes on Instagram. But is it what you do FIRST, when the other stuff is undone?

Prioritising business growth activities is often a struggle for creative business owners, especially if they’re not things you love to do. BUT, your business won’t flourish by chasing sunsets.

What sunsets have you been chasing lately?

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Losing your voice – literally or metaphorically

I’ve lost my voice. My actual voice, not my writer’s voice, has just disappeared.

Well, truth be told, the word ‘just’ is incorrect. I knew it was coming for 3 days. There was that telltale tickle, the waves of heat, the loss of strength, the lack of energy. And this morning it was gone. No sound. Nada.

I’ve been using my voice a lot lately, more than usual and more fiercely. Coaching, speaking gigs, presentations, networking, parenting, daughtering. And I’ve been speaking for so many other people too: voicing their fears, propping them up, going in to bat, celebrating them, fighting for them. A change in domestic circumstance has meant I’ve had to tell the story over and over again, and I think I’ve literally run out of words.  I’ve exhausted myself by prioritising everyone else’s emotions and interests; my own have slipped by the wayside.

And so I instinctively knew that my voice was bound to give way at some point. It’s my body’s way of saying “ssshhhhhhh…” It’s time to listen. Continue reading

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3 Quick Ways to Stay Visible During School Holidays

It’s school holiday time (in Vic anyway)…and you know what that means?

It’s the juggle struggle of running a business whilst running the social lives of your children at the same time!

Being visible in school holidays comes down to planning

And even if you don’t have kids, you’ll probably experience that deafening silence when you email one of your clients or that cagey low-talking when they answer the phone. Because chances are they’re dealing with a child tugging at their attention, wanting to be fed, wanting a cure for boredom, wanting to make noise the minute they get on the phone. It happens to the best of us, even with the most well-intentioned children and the most carefully organised activities – they just NEED you when you are the phone.

So, how do you deal with this predicament? How do you manage to do all the things you have to to keep your business ticking whilst you have the kids home from school? You can’t always take weeks off every time the school holidays roll around, nor can you palm your kids off the entire time (or can you???) Continue reading

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