authorship

How to commercialise your purpose and not vomit

purpose into prosperityI’ve been speaking with lots of female business owners lately, most of whom are running what I would call ‘heart-driven’ businesses. They are doing the work they’re doing because they believe it’s their calling. They are really living and working in their purpose, doing what feels right,  and all of them are, no-doubt, excellent practitioners.

So you’d think they had it all figured out and were feeling flush with success, yes? That they were lucky enough to have found their calling early on and were living and breathing it every day? Uh, no. Not so. Most of them feel like they’re missing something – at least that’s what they’ve told me, and that’s intuitively what I’ve felt when I’ve spoken with them.  And that THING is the ability to commercialise their ‘purpose’. To really and truly make a good living from their magical superpower.

Being ‘commercial’ and being heart-centred or soul-focused may sound like a dichotomy. How can you be all spiritual and gorgeous and nurturing and gentle and floaty but then put yourself out there, pop your business hat on and actually ask for money for what you do? It usually makes these women feel sick to their stomachs and so they typically under-value themselves.

Then I also see and talk with those at the other end of the scale, the ones that the heart-driven types just can’t relate to.  The hustlers, the hard-arses, the masculine female types. But funnily enough, guess what? They have their own set of crazy problems when it comes to connecting with people and growing their business. How can there be any soul or meaning or heart whatsoever in the hard-faced bitches in their power suits that strut around saying they’re worth thousands of dollars every day, demanding people pay to merely talk with them for minutes, handing out business cards in every toilet line they find themselves in? Well, deep down, many of these women are quietly wondering why people aren’t lining up at the door to connect with them, nervous and knowing that something is amiss. (This is a whole other story, for another day, another blog.)

The truth is that most ‘woo-woo’ business owners* I’ve met over the years used to drive me mad with their lack of commercial nous. You see, I belonged to the second group. It used to make me wild that these ethereal and flighty beings, whilst completely endearing and in touch with themselves and the goodness of the world, had no idea about how to turn their ideas into real products that people could purchase.  I could see the value in what they were offering (god knows I’ve bought enough of their services), but they’d constantly bemoan the poor creative soul and almost wallow in their ‘poverty’, wearing it as a badge of honour. There was no plan to move beyond that point of pain and make a change, which frustrated the hell out of me – and they weren’t even my businesses! Being financially successful  and being woo-woo appeared to be at complete opposite ends of the spectrum – and never the twain shall meet.

Until recently.

Thankfully, as my views have altered/relaxed/matured, and in parallel the world of modern entrepreneurialism has changed, it’s perfectly valid and viable now to run a business that is both on purpose in a spiritual sense, is meaningful for the owner and that also makes money. Who would have thunk it???

What’s interesting for me is that as I grew up professionally in a very masculine world where, in the late 1990s and early 2000s, it was all about pricing, product, placement and promotion (plus deals being made on the golf course), the way I was trained to look at businesses first and foremost, was with a heavy focus on revenue streams.  It was always about how is the idea positioned, what are the competitive offerings and how can we smash them, how can we price this for best effect, what is the ceiling on your offering, how do we crash through that ceiling by changing up how we do things, how do we package up and bundle services, how do we reach untapped audiences, how can we cash in to best effect without having to work harder?

Well guess what? That stuff hasn’t really changed. But what HAS changed, is how I approach all of this. AND there are a couple of new questions to throw into the mix, namely:  how can we create passive income streams for you (using technology as a channel to market) so you make money in your sleep whilst offering massive value, how can we use YOU and your stories to connect with your audience through marketing rather than gimmicks or trickery or clever copy, and and how can you maximise your intellectual property without undermining yourself?

What’s really cool is that the answer is WE CAN do all of this. It really can be done. You can be woo-woo (all love and joy being sent your way) and commercial in the same breath, without compromising your values and beliefs. You don’t have to get a power suit and black patent pumps to rock your business (although a fabulous pair of black patent pumps NEVER goes astray in a wardrobe…). What has to be revealed though, is the connector between where you’ve come from and why you’re doing what you’re doing now, resulting in an honest understanding about what your value is to others. Your past experiences inform your present reality in a big way, but you get to choose which trajectory your stories take you on. The way you reacted to those experiences plus your innate personality will uncover your uniqueness; they provide the signposts to living and working in your purpose. When you’ve done that, there should be no question as to the value that you offer and the manner in which you can earn a living from what you do.

Looking beyond the actual ‘thing’ you do is really important. It’s not just a service you offer, it’s the manner in which you offer it and the reason you offer that particular thing. People buy into people (and dreams), not products or services. They want what you’ve got because it promises them a better version of themselves. The most powerful selling point you have is when you can demonstrate how that ‘thing’ worked for you. How it took you from A to B. Then they not only hear the value but see the value.

Compartmentalising the knowledge in your head is part of this process. Understanding the chunks of stuff that you know and the ways in which you impart that knowledge to create an affect on someone else (your clients) is really important. This is the content you can then use to blog about, to create marketing campaigns from, to build eCourses and programs from and to broaden your reach with. The little pieces of your life (both personal and professional) that are drip fed through your content are going to appeal to different people at different points in time. Someone will relate to one aspect of your journey whilst another may not be interested at all.  But the next time you write, the snippet may just resonate beautifully with that second person who found little of interest in your first piece of writing. Don’t keep it all the same. Change things up. Offer different variations of you and you will strike a chord with the right person at the right time.

When you categorise the knowledge you have, and understand the ways in which your story (your personality, your experiences and the reactions to those experiences) can touch different people at different times, you are ready to commercialise your purpose. It is then that you need to get objective – take a bird’s eye view of the information you are now familiar with and break it up into consumable pieces. Don’t be wedded to it as a lifetime body of work that must be given to all clients all at once. If you do that, you have nowhere to lead them. They have no reason to come back to you. Break up what you know into a logical order or process. It may be a blog series, an eCourse, a book, a coaching program, a workshop, a webinar series etc etc. You will be offering more value to the people who seek help from you AND you can help more people at once. THIS is when you can start to really grow your business. Stop trading hours for dollars and start to really leverage your knowledge.

It may seem a vile task to think about your beautiful gift in terms of cold hard cash. What I know though, is that if YOU don’t think about it, noone else will either. And then very few people will get to experience the gift that you have.

 

 

* Woo-woo is NOT a derogatory term, it’s just how I can best describe those people that operate on a realm that I, (until recently) had seriously no idea about! Happily I have embraced my inner woo-woo (in fact, I realised I was quite woo-woo as a teenager and then I was a bit of a pretend woo-woo at uni, and then I lost my woo-woo completely in my 20s….

1,825 blog posts created for you in a snap

Idea MapImagine how great it would be to have your next year’s blogging topics all mapped out for you. No more heartache on a Monday morning when you know you should be saying something to your prospects and clients but just can’t think of anything. No more staring at the blank screen, kicking yourself because you can’t remember that great idea you had last week.

This little process I’m going to teach you is a simple one, but an effective one. It will stop you feeling like your head is about to explode every time you sit down to write. You’ll feel calmer and more in control of your content calendar. You’ll stop beating yourself up and reduce your fear about writing; you’ll begin to sing like Elsa and just “Let It Go”…. (ok, maybe that’s just in my household!). You’ll have more time to focus on the things you love to do to get your business cranking.

Here’s how it works:

Consider your brain a muscle that needs to be exercised every day. Within that brain is a wonderful section for ‘ideas’. This is the cool place where new and creative stuff is generated. So, let’s see what that ideas section can do for you each and every day.

The process is simply to pick a topic and jot down 5 ideas around that topic. They don’t have to be highly fashioned, perfectly wonderful ideas… just ideas. Short, sharp and to the point.

The process of doing this, every day, is the best way to fill your content calendar with things to write about. By making it a ritual, your approach to writing and communicating with your audience will change – for the better. You won’t be half as scared next time you dip your fingers into the ideas jar looking for something juicy to write about.

Some days the ideas will come thick and fast, and by all means you should jot down more than 5 if you have them. Other days it may be like pulling hens teeth from your brain and the last idea may not come to you until your head hits the pillow. Regardless, you should try to build this process into your daily schedule so that you are truly exercising your creative muscle. And I can assure you, it does get easier with practise.

Choose a central place to store your ideas so you can refer to them whenever you need to. It may be that you think better through a pen than the keyboard. If so, find a great notebook and go for it. Perhaps you want to create some system and order around your ideas, so a spreadsheet might suit you better. The HOW is not the concern, the WHAT is the biggy here.

Now, you may end up looking at some of the ideas down the track and thinking they’re a load of rubbish. But it doesn’t actually matter. Because the truth is there’s probably about 70-80% of them that are really great and workable.

5 ideas x 365 days = 1,825 ideas.

At a 75% strike rate, that’s still 1,368 and three quarter ideas that are pretty darn good!

So go ahead and give it a go.

1. Choose a theme or topic

e.g. 5 commonly asked questions from your clients
5 case studies
5 things that differentiate you from your competitors
5 tips and hints
5 business building activities

2. Write your ideas down at the same time each day – habits create outcomes more quickly.
First thing in the morning is an easy way to get it out of the way and feel you’ve accomplished something. As I said though, the last idea may not come to you until you’re popping the moisturiser on in the evening!

3. Don’t edit yourself.
Forget about whether the ideas are good or even plausible, just get them down. You can check out their viability when it comes to writing them.

4. Look outside your brain for inspiration.

Check out tools such as the Blog Post Idea Generator, Quora and HubSpot’s Blog Post Topic Generator. Even plain old Google can be a source of inspiration – simply type in your topic or some keywords and see what comes up.

Actually, there’s inspiration all around you if you look hard enough. In the words of Willy Wonka:”If you want to view Paradise, simply look around and view it.” The real shiz, is getting those ideas out of the ether and onto the page in a semi-usable fashion. THAT’S where the difference happens.

Five ideas each day for 365 days and you’ll have 1,825 blog ideas to play with. You’ll be looking for a bigger content calendar to fit them all in!

Doesn’t THAT seem like a brighter writer’s future?

 

Have you felt yourself lately?

when do you feel like your true self?When was the last time you TRULY felt like yourself? Felt full of the goodness of life and perfectly comfortable in your own skin? When were you last free of worries and stress? When did you last feel like you actually belonged somewhere?

It may have only been yesterday. At home, in the garden with your dog. Or it may have been last night, on the couch with your best friend. Or maybe you’re struggling to recall that feeling. It may have been a really long time since you felt that comfy, relaxed self.

If you have felt this feeling, then try to replicate it as often as possible. Whether it’s the activity, the people or the place that made you feel yourself, try to be doing that thing, with those people or in that place again…as much as possible.

If you haven’t felt it, or it’s been ages since you’ve felt it, then maybe you’re trying too hard to be something you’re not. Maybe the career you’re pursuing, the friends you’re spending time with or the place you’re living is just not right for you now. People change and grow. That’s the fun of being human. And what was right a little while ago may just not be right now. You morphed and didn’t realise it!

Either way, why don’t you feel like yourself more often? Your true self is wonderful, so don’t hide from it or push it away. Embrace who you are and be proud to tell people about it. Your story is a great one.

Writing is like sex….

Slide1First you do it for love, then you do it for your friends, and then you do it for money. (Virginia Woolf)

So true Ms Woolf! Three great reasons why they can compare. But there are some others I’ll let you in on in just a second….

What’s weird is that I’m not quite sure why I was contemplating this thought. It’s kind of unlikely on a Wednesday afternoon as I sit at my desk with a cat on my lap, having just finished some lunch and a call with a client. Next on my to do list was certainly not writing about sex. I should have been calling the bank about my payment gateway, I needed to do some revisions on a flyer I have to produce, and I really ought to have been working on my new website. But instead, this idea popped into my head. So I’m taking my own advice and I’m going to run with the 25 minute writing theory and see what falls out.

Hopefully it will make for an amusing read too!

Top seven reasons for why writing is like sex:

1. The more you do it the better you get at it.

Self explanatory really. 😉

2. You can’t always wait until the mood is just right

Waiting for the perfect moment when you’re both relaxed, freshly waxed and ‘feelin’ it’ can sometimes mean you’ll be waiting until Christmas. Flickering candles and angels singing may be the desired picture, but in the end, the bedside lamp and the sound of the kids snoring might be as good as it gets.  Sometimes you just have to do it, even if the setting isn’t as Mr Grey would want it.

Same goes for writing. How awesome would it be if every time you sat down to write the desk was clean, the air was still and quiet and the words just flowed effortlessly? Well, there are days – weeks – when that may never happen, so sometimes you just have to get down to it and do it regardless of mood or atmosphere.

3. Sensitivity comes from practise

Whether you’re in a long term relationship or are trying on a few partners for size, the more practise you have the more attuned you are to your own needs and those of your partner. Sometimes it’s all about two souls deeply connecting, fulfilling heightened emotional states. Sometimes it’s pure carnal knowledge. Physicality in its most primitive state. Either, way the more you do it the more you get to know how to read the situation and deliver the goods. So to speak..

Same same for writing. The more you do it, the more you know how to deliver what your clients want/need or what your publisher desires. You become aware of the peaks and troughs of your own writing habits and emotional states and you become more sensitive and attuned to the needs of your clients.

4. There aint nothing wrong with a quickie.

If there’s only a few minutes spare when both of you are in the same room, the kids are being dropped off in 5 minutes and the dinner is not yet burnt, go for it! It may not be romantic in the typical scene-setting, fluffy-pillow, lingerie-clad kind of way but hell it’s exciting! And sometimes spice is just what you need.

Short bursts of spicy, focused energy can produce amazing writing too!

5. It’s ok if it’s not mind-blowing – every time!

Yes it’s disappointing, yes we can feel a bit ‘meh’ after it, but in truth, even a mediocre session should not be considered ‘wasted’ time.  Your still spending time with your loved one, building on your relationship.

Being out of sync with your writing can also produce disappointment, but it doesn’t mean it’s not a useful experience. Bonding with your writing over the good and bad times is what brings you closer together and helps you grow.

6. It’s not all about the destination

Keep in mind that, both in writing and in sex, the journey can be just as fulfilling as the end goal. Sometimes the result/climax/outcome actually disappoints – or at worst case isn’t actually reached at all! So whilst there’s no harm in having your eye on the prize, it’s important to remember there are learnings and joy to be had along the way.

7. Do it with a partner you actually like…

Don’t go sacrificing your time, energy, focus, love, emotions, body or soul for someone who isn’t worth it. They don’t have to be your forever partner, but I reckon it’s really important that you at least dig them for now.

Same goes with your writing. If you don’t like it, don’t do it.

Here’s to happy days with blogs, boomboom, business and books!

Jo xx

20 minutes a day to write the great Aussie Novel…

…or at least write some darn good ads or blogs….

copywriting-formulas-list-682x1024Writing is a discipline. It’s an art, for sure, but it’s also a bit of a science. There are definitely formulas to create good writing. Apart from character development, knowing your audience, grammar, tenses, plot development, features-advantages-benefits and that sort of thing, one of the big formulas to learn is simply about TIME. Spending time writing each and every day will not only improve your writing, but it will improve your mindset around writing, which will ultimately create better writing.

I recently ran a survey asking people about their learning styles but also about what frustrates them in terms of content development. Do you know what 75% of respondents said? FINDING THE TIME TO WRITE.

So here it is peeps. An easy-to-implement (but sometimes hard to stick to!) discipline to help you actually find time in your week to write.

You’ve heard the old saying ‘you have to spend money to make money’, right? Well it’s the same with writing. You have to spend time writing to find time to write.

How many people do you know who want to write a book? It’s been burning inside them for years. But they just never do it. And not usually because the idea is bad, but because life gets in the way and they ‘don’t have time’.

I read a fun article last year about bucket lists. Not surprisingly ‘write a novel’ was in the top 50 things to do before you die. In fact it was 24th on the list.

So, regardless of whether you have lofty ambitions as a novelist, or you have a great idea for an online course, or you just want to be able to keep in touch with your fans by banging out a couple of business blogs and social media posts, you need to actually structure your week to factor in some quiet writing time.

Writing something for your business, in particular, should never be considered a luxury…something to do in your spare time….or something to do only when everything else is done. Because you know what? You WILL NEVER DO IT!

Every excuse in the book will come up. I’m too busy. I’m burned out. I’m away too much. I don’t know what to say today. I don’t feel motivated today. I spend too much time in front of the computer already. It never sounds quite right. I should be doing that thing over there instead. It’s too noisy today. It’s too quiet today!

(I can feel you nodding now….!)

Excuses are just that. Lame reasons for not doing the thing you know you ought to be doing. And whilst writing a novel may be a luxurious past time (except if you’re an already published author and have an agent breathing down your neck for the next book!), writing for your business is no luxury. It is a necessity.

I hear business owners constantly talk about wanting respect and recognition in their field of expertise. Wondering why competitors get asked for comments or interviews and not them. Wondering why noone seems to care that they are actually the best in their field and have something to offer? Well, it’s because they’re not out there. They’re not spreading their word and knowledge wide enough. They’re not vocal enough. They’re not being seen enough.

There is SOOO much noise out there in business land now. Everyone is an entrepreneur. Everyone is fighting for a slice of the pie. The only way to really ‘make it’ is to be bloody good at what you do (that’s a given) and to tell people about how bloody good you are at what you do (with grace and professionalism not arrogance!).

So, content is the way to do that. Writing stuff about something that you know about. Making it your own. Then sending it out to the world to add value to someone, somewhere. It’s the only way to start being perceived as an authority in your space.

So back to making time to write then…

MAKING-TIME-TO-WRITE TECHNIQUES and other failed attempts at organisation!

I’ve tried a bunch of techniques myself. Most of which haven’t worked, but there is one that has. That’s not to say however that some of these others won’t work for you – everyone runs their day and their enertime-to-writegy differently, but the common denominator is ‘making time to write – every day.’

– I tried getting up when my husband does, which is about an hour earlier than I would normally, to use this time to write. It was quiet, there were no interruptions and I would get it out of the way before the rest of the day started. BA BOW. I was so damned tired that my writing was really crap, I resented being up so early when I got so little sleep anyway and the rest of my day was a long drag of droopy eyelids and yawns.

– I tried the ‘writing-holiday’ technique. I’d go away for a day or weekend with my laptop, promising myself that I would simply revel in the hours of ‘free time’ to write. PIFFLE. I’d get distracted by whatever new location I was in and research the best beach/bar/antiques store in the area, or I’d stupidly check my email and get sucked down a vortex of client work that simply HAD to be attended to.

– I set myself arbitrary dates for when I would get a certain piece of writing completed.  The dates would come and go, I would reset them in my calendar – feeling incredibly efficient and organised – and still get bugger all written.

So then the guilt kicked in. I hated myself for failing at all these techniques. I abhorred my lack of focus, my lack of conviction, my laziness. But the truth was I was just damn scared to get started writing in any kind of regular fashion, so I was doomed to fail from the outset. And it was just stupidity. Some crazy blockage. I wrote reams and reams of verbose diatribe in my teens and twenties. I have degrees in Literature. I know how to write, let me tell you! But for some reason when it came to writing for my own business I had a blockage.

(Sound familiar?)

So here’s the thing. This is really as simple and as complex as it gets.

SCHEDULE YOUR WRITING TIME EVERY DAY AND MAKE IT NON-NEGOTIABLE.

It doesn’t actually matter if it’s morning or night or in the middle of the day, just schedule it in for 20 minutes, and stick to it. Everyone has different rhythms, different energy burning at various times of the day, different tasks they have to get done in a work week. But the one thing we all can do, is find 20 minutes in the day to write.

My time is night time. It’s quiet. The kids are asleep, the cats have settled, my phone has stopped ringing and I’m calm. My imagination is better at night time and my creativity is flowing. I set the timer on my phone, write furiously for 20 minutes and stop. Regardless of where I am, I stop. The reason for this is to train yourself to use the time wisely by throwing everything into it and maximising your output without over-stretching it.

I guarantee you, you will get shitloads done!

Why?

Focus on one task is completely possible – and probable – for 20 minutes. Even when you’re tired and busy, 20 minutes is doable. It’s really only once or twice round the water cooler in the old corporate days. (Seriously, if you can’t find 20 minutes in your day, you need to sort your shit out – there is TOOOO much going on.)

If you make your writing time first thing in the morning before anything else, your mind is fresh, uncluttered and available. If your time is at the end of the day, your day is done, you’ve calmed down, the stars are shining. It’s peaceful at either end of the day and these would be my recommended times for you.

Stopping after the allotted time is really important. If I kept writing, I think I’d be overwhelmed and ultimately this would stop working for me. I’d feel great on the days I wrote for an hour and really crappy on the days I couldn’t manage 10 minutes. So, find the time that’s right for you – if 20 minutes is too long make it 15 – then stick to it.  The more easily you can fit this time into your schedule, the more successful it will be for you. You’ll get heaps more achieved and, seriously, you will reap the benefits big time by expanding your profile through your content.

So whether it’s a blog, social media posts for the week, research papers, case studies, a novel, marketing materials, whatever…..think about how much you could achieve it you just gave yourself a calm, happy 20 minutes each day to write….

5 great ways to inspire your inner author

writers-block

writer’s block. screwed up paper next to desk.

I often speak to business owners who just don’t think they’re creative enough to write. The message has obviously sunk in about the need to produce regular content to engage their communities and leverage their expertise but they seem to find the process of writing and brainstorming ideas a frustrating one. The process is usually made even more difficult for solopreneurs who don’t have a team of people to bounce ideas off.

I believe, however, that we all possess the potential to use our imaginations for creative pursuits – it’s just that sometimes we have those days where we need a little extra inspiration. Our own thoughts become blockers for any innovative energy we might need.

Next time you’re longing to stir up your creative spark, take a look at these five ideas below.

 

1. Stop thinking about yourself as ‘non-creative’

The best way to change direction is to fundamentally change what you are currently doing. Do a 180-degree turn. Now. Because staring at a blank piece of paper saying, “I can’t write. I’m not creative enough” over and over in your head is not going to help your cause. You need to change your mindset to one of creativity and joy about the task ahead.

Easier said than done I know. But here’s a way you can do it.

Using a simple mantra, every day, just for 5-10 minutes, can help you to get in the flow of creativity and alter your belief that you’re not creative. Choose one below that resonates for you:

  • My imagination will run wild. I am a creative soul.
  • Creativity is contagious – pass it on.
  • There are no limitations to my creativity – only opportunities to expand it.
  • Today I will innovate, create and tempt fate.
  • There are people out there, right now, who need my art (writing).
  • My work is uniquely my own and unlike anyone else’s.

2. Using visuals as inspiration for your text

If you’re struggling with writing text, why not try mapping out the story you want to tell with visual elements. You might find that the process of piecing together a story in visual form (whether it’s magazine clippings, a Pinterest board, or sketches on a notepad) helps the words to flow. The process of ‘storyboarding’ a longer piece of text by using visuals can encourage the story to take place and therefore allow the words to flow more easily.

3. Step into the shoes of your reader

Another way to stir up the creativity is to think about the end result for your reader once they have digested your story. You should only be writing about stuff that you know – and usually stuff you are passionate about – and typically stuff you want to share with the world because it helps or enlightens people in some way.

So, why not conjure up the feeling that endpoint elicits in your reader and work backwards. Try to sense how they’re feeling before and after reading your content. These feelings can provoke words and ideas you never knew you had – and they’ll be easier to write about when they come as a surprise!

4. Exercise your creative muscle

Even if you have proven to be a successful content creator in the past, it is important to take yourself outside your comfort zone every once in a while to continue challenging your brain.

For instance, instead of wrangling with the keyboard, take your camera, head outside and take photos of random objects, skylines, landscapes, or people that inspire you. Then head back inside and write a caption that immediately comes to mind when you view the image. That caption will often lead to a larger story; it’s a great way to get a sense of how you view things from a visual starting point.

Another fun thing to do is pick up a word puzzle book. Do a crossword, Sudoku, or word-find game. You’ll discover your brain suddenly operates in a different zone than normal and your creativity will be provoked beyond your previously experienced daily limits.

5. Experience art

Take yourself to an art gallery, photography exhibition, costume display or even down an alley covered in graffiti (street-art). The simple process of being amongst creativity can often inspire creativity.

 

The above tips can be used to help stir up your creative juices and get you writing more freely and confidently. I’d love to hear if you have some success with these ideas – or indeed if you have any other ideas that help inspire your inner author.

 

Recent Posts

Connect socially