Interview: Success for Artists & Creative Professionals with Dan Blank

unnamedI’ve known Dan Blank (pictured here) over a number of years and he has become my go to resource for clients who are aspiring authors. Dan brings and incredibly down to earth, brass tacks and honest approach to business building.

Recently, he hold me that he’d now branched into the broader field of helping people find and market their creative work (i.e. they’re worried that their career isn’t going anywhere; that they need to build a following; that they want to learn how to market their art) so I asked if I could interview him about it all and his new program Fearless Work for my blog. He graciously accepted. I think you’ll be glad of it.

What’s this new project you’ve got on the go?

It’s a program called Fearless Work, which is a course to help creative professionals find more time and energy to work on their art or craft. It focuses on helping people prioritize what matters most, work smarter, make creative habits stick, and manage their fear around big risks and a packed schedule.

Who would you say are the top three groups of people it’s for?

Anyone who is trying to find more time to do creative work amidst life’s many professional and personal demands.These could be artists, writers, designers, photographers, entrepreneurs, illustrators, musicians, and many others.

Working creative professionals. People who are entrepreneurial around their art and craft, and have turned it into a business.

They are finding success, but also finding barriers, and looking to break through to the next level.

Those who have dabbled with turning their art & work into a career, but want to now take it seriously.

Why did you create it? What need did you see? What’s the story?

After spending my entire life surrounded by those doing meaningful creative work, I always hear about their challenges — the things that prevent them from practicing the work they care the most about. In the past five years, I have run my own company helping these people, really being in the trenches with them as they strive for their goals.

Fearless Work is my way of creating a resource to re-shift aspects of one’s life to allow for more creative work.

What are the top three aspects of life that seem to get in the way?

  1. Yourself. What is most astounding is how many of the barriers that stand between someone and their creative work is often their own internal boundaries. They refuse to give themselves permission, or they are driven by narratives that kill their work before they can create it.
  2. Reacting to the demands of others and things external to you. This could be your day job, but it can also be the everyday demands of laundry and dishes.
  3. Being a parent. While most people I meet who are any age, whether they have kids or not, are very busy, I find that becoming a parent offers unique challenges. When you have kids, many of the process you have honed for yourself go off the rails because you are now fully responsible for other human beings. It’s impossible to overstate how much work this is: you literally have to wipe their asses. And, while this is a responsibility done with the deepest levels of love, that is also why it can be taxing in ways we never quite imagined before having children.

Fearless Work is also about ways to establish habits that allow for more creative work to be done each day. It is the culmination of everything I have learned in working with hundreds of creative professionals, as well as my own company.

I hear from people every single week, about how profound their struggles are. They feel they work more hours, give more of themselves, only to feel as though they are treading water, their dreams unfulfilled. The course delves into the practical actions that one can take (both internally and externally) to not only feel more fulfilled, but focus on what matters most in their creative endeavours.

Everyone feels overwhelmed, and 99% of the time, the only thing holding you back is yourself.

Everyone has challenges, and some of them are breath taking in their complexity: the person who is coping with a debilitating illness; someone who has suffered through a traumatic event; the single parent of 5 kids; the sole caregiver for ailing parents. Yet, I always speak to people who, despite these very real responsibilities, can manage to also find room for their own identity, and their own work. That all of these things are a part of who they are, and that even serious responsibilities don’t have to sidetrack who you want to be.

There are others who do a similar type of thing, what did you see was missing in it all that had you want to create this?

I love the various resources that are out there, and how inspiring each can be in their own way.

For my own experience working with creative professionals though…

I find that the business side of creative work is overwhelming for many people. While I always put the art first, I have deep experience in turning one’s creative vision into a viable business. It’s an obsession, really.

When I look back on both my professional and personal experience, it is across a wide range of arts. When I was a kid, I went to art school, and growing up, I did illustration, photography, poetry, sculpture, pop-up books, music, writing, a newspaper cartoon, trained to be a radio DJ, published a zine, did design work, and eventually I became an entrepreneur working with writers and creative professionals.

I hear these challenges everyday because of how many people/orgs I work with. I have to address them because these are the relationships that fill my life. None of this is theory, I am in the trenches with these people every single day.

I suppose, I see the “productivity” and “inspiration” side of this focused on a lot by others, but things such as mental health are often not being address. For example, I am the last person who will ever tell you to do more creative work by giving up some sleep. The idea of robbing someone of sleep in order to gain “productivity” is offensive. It cuts away at the foundations of their physical and mental health — that is NOT progress to me!

My company is five years old and I have established processes that I think others can find value in.

Why is this such a struggle for artists to take on the business side of things?

The answers vary, but one phrase that comes up often is “permission.”

Meaning, that after the artist goes through the struggle of creating work that matters deeply to them, they are confronted with the fear of permission, “Who am I to now ask people to pay for this?” Which is why many creatives wait to be “discovered.” For others to validate their work by sheer magic — without the artist having to proactively put their work out there. I suppose core to this is a fear of judgement, but also anxiety that many artists feel around their identity. Impostor syndrome is pervasive across professions, but I see it crop up often in creative fields. All of this is part of the stew that makes the business side of the arts extraordinarily complex for creative people.

I’d be curious to hear what other terrible advice you see out there for artists and creative types.

Most of the advice I see that turns my stomach are versions of get rich quick schemes. For the arts, it may not focus on money alone as the goal, but on the validation that many creative people seek. So yes it could be, “Make a million dollars with your art!” but it can also be “The world is just waiting for your message!” As many creative professionals will tell you, when they released their work publicly, it was received to dead silence. The distinction between the amateur and the professional in this context is that they took efforts to ensure it found an audience, and that this was truly work that takes time and pushed them passed boundaries.

What are the three top blunders that you see people make in addressing these issues?

Goodness, only three? How about six:

  1. Looking for a tool that will magically fix everything. The real value comes in establishing good habits and new processes. Are tools a part of this? Sure, but they serve the habits and processes, not the other way around.
  2. Thinking it is all in or not at all. Consider how many people start and fail at diets. They are either “on” the diet or “off” the diet, and change of this caliber needs has more layers to the gradient than this. This is about tiny changes a little at a time.
  3. Seeking productivity tips that adds more stuff to their already packed life. You can’t get clarity by adding and adding to your life — you have to SUBTRACT what doesn’t matter in order to find more resources to do the work that truly matters.
  4. Focusing on only time, not energy. Energy is a renewable resource that affects all areas of your life.
  5. Seeking “balance.” To be honest, I don’t believe in balance when it comes to how people traditionally talk about “work/life balance.” Balance is a lovely concept, but if you listed out all of your personal and professional obligations, I think the idea of “balance” gets in the way. Instead, I believe in clarity and priorities. The term I tend to use is this: OBSESSIONS. Making hard choices about what matters most.
  6. Managing their work life separate from their personal needs and goals. You have a single life, and a 24 hours in a day, you have to manage it as a whole.

What are the main good habits you feel like creative folks need most? Could you share a story or example of of a habit you’ve developed that’s paid off?

The habits that most creative people need to establish is taking small actions in a consistent basis. I mean, that is what a habit is, right? Break down a larger creative vision into tiny component parts that you can control. An example would be how I wrote the first draft of the book I am working on. I reserved the first hour of the day to write, with the goal of at least 1,000 words per day.

Now, a distinction I made is that this was about quantity, not quality. I wasn’t judging if my writing was good or not, I just focused on getting words on the page. Within less than 40 days, I had hit my goal of a 65,000 word first draft. Before I put the restraints on the habit (1 hour, 1,000+ words each day), the idea of writing a book was nearly incomprehensible. All I saw where challenges.

Also, I find boundaries to be extraordinarily useful in the creative process, and that they are useful in how we work as well. For instance: I don’t fly. I won’t be shy here: it scares me. So when I created my business, I put a simple rule in place, “No flying for work.” Now, this meant I put a severe limitation on potential revenue streams. I have done a lot of speaking, and this limitation meant that I could never truly seek out a highly paid speaking career, seeking out keynotes and the like. Revenue stream #1 in the toilet. I also do come consulting for organizations, and this limitation meant that I couldn’t seek out large clients outside of those in area around New York City. Any large organization client would likely want a series of in-person meetings, and since I don’t fly, that meant I couldn’t say yes to that. Revenue stream #2 in the toilet.

And yet, 5 years in, my business is doing fine. These limitations allowed me to OBSESS over other areas I am passionate about, such as developing online courses that could reach people anywhere in the world, and be created from my home. For the Fearless

Work course, my team and I have worked on it for months, through an incredible amount of OBSESSIVE research. For much of that time, we had to ignore other potential opportunities to grow my audience or my business. We are all in on this course, and it feels extraordinary to so fully devote yourself to something.

What are the top three things people could do on their own to address these issues effectively?

When approaching the idea of Fearless Work — to do more of the creative work that matters most to you, I find these three things can help you find greater success in working through the process:

  1. Make it social. Surround yourself with like minds. Don’t struggle by yourself.
  2. Focus on clarity, especially around your goals. It is astounding to me how vague people’s goals often are when you scratch the surface. Oftentimes, you find that there is nothing there, just a vague idea. Why? Because they were too afraid of the obligation that comes with truly tackling their dreams.
  3. I would rather see you focus all of your energy on establish a single TINY positive new habit than create some complex system that fools you into thinking you have solved it all. Start small.

For more info on Dan’s program Fearless Work click on the image below.

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Video Interview: Danny Iny on The Positioning Matrix

As many of you know, I’ve just launched a new website all about how to successfully navigate the often difficult and perilous journey of figuring out your niche. More about that soon.
 
But one of the best tools I’ve ever come across in figuring out your niche was something I heard about from one of my favourite colleagues Danny Iny. It’s called The Positioning Matrix. I recorded a 45 or so minute conversation with him about it where we tried to figure out the niche of Danny’s ideal massage therapist. Good times. The film quality is pretty fuzzy but the sound’s good. 
 
This tool is so simple but can have such a profound impact. Go watch the video and then give it a try and let me know, in a comment below. what you come up with because I’d love to include your example in a thing I’m working on.

 

Here’s the PDF of his notes.

Free Hour Long Interview for NDUpdate.com

Screen Shot 2014-01-28 at 3.58.49 PMI was recently interviewed by Matt Strickland from http://www.ndupdate.com/ for an hour about my thoughts on marketing for naturopaths. In it, you’ll learn my take on . . .

  • How to market yourself genuinely and be successful
  • Why figuring out who is a good fit for your practice is a key to success
  • Figuring out your niche
  • How to connect with other practitioners
  • What hubs are and how to connect to them
  • Why relationships are a key to your success and how they help everybody involved
  • Why your most important web page is your homepage
  • How to write an effective homepage
  • Why a good headshot is important
  • The value of social media
  • Which social media to get involved with
  • Having a personal Facebook account vs a business account

Listen to the hour long interview at this link (no need to opt in or pay anything): http://www.ndupdate.com/tad-hargrave-truth-marketing/

Niching for Hippies – Interview with Sarah Juliusson (24 min)

Screen Shot 2013-10-14 at 9.02.02 PMSarah Juliusson runs My Birth Business where she helps midwives and doulas with their business and marketing.

I was really excited to chat with her about this whole business of figuring out your niche in the lead up to my Niching for Hippies program.

Below is the audio for the interview and, below that, is the summary of what she had to say.

 

 

 

What do you think is missing in the conversation about niching? What do you see that you think others are not seeing that could help people find their niche?

Niching is a tricky area to explore as on the surface it can seem quite simple. I consistently see examples of niching gone wrong, usually by creating a surface niche, choosing a single characteristic that defines your niche and your care. Initially this may seem like a niche – for example “I am a birth doula serving pregnant women in Seattle.” So here our niche to the beginners eye can seem quite specific: pregnant women in Seattle seeking birth doula care. In fact, this is a broad stroke that doesn’t come close to defining her true niche – using single characteristics such as geography and pregnancy may seem to paint a clear niche, but in fact these are only foundational characteristics for a true niche. Without further definition, this niche will not serve her practice.

When I actually talk with this imaginary doula, however, I may learn that she has a particular interest in supporting families planning a home birth with midwives. As well, her ideal clients will be interested in taking advantage of her complementary skill of aromatherapy. She herself is in her 40s, and has a special draw to supporting women over 35 who are pregnant for the first time. She finds that clients of this nature have a real hunger for quality information and research about birth and loves helping them get connected through her large library of resources. I could go on, but you get the picture, yes? It is easy to paint the niche with characteristics that may seem specific but in fact are only broad strokes that just barely begin to capture her niche and unique selling proposition.

What’s most important in niching? What’s a distraction?

IMPORTANT: Years ago I built a website for one of my childbirth education businesses. As I worked on the site vibe, the phrase that kept coming back to me was that I wanted the site to feel like a really comfortable couch. I wanted my ideal clients to find the site and instantly feel so at home that they would want to have a seat, drink some tea, and take their time learning more. When i think about niching, that comfy couch is really what we’re going for. If I have infused my marketing vibe, language & imagery with key elements that speak to my niche, then when they arrive on my site they will instantly feel at home. Without that virtual couch provided by a clear niche, those ideal clients will arrive at your site or pick up your card and have no particular reason to want to stick around and learn some more.

DISTRACTION: When defining their niche i see many clients hit almost a wall of fear – concerned that by defining a niche for their practice they will be shutting out potential clients. When your income is dependent on each and every client that hires you it is easy to get caught up in saying yes even when it isn’t a great fit. By tailoring online and print marketing materials to a niche, many holistic professionals worry that they are closing off too many options and it keeps them from defining their niche in an effective way. Instead, I find that a well developed niche opens doors.

Can you list three of your favourite examples of successful, niche businesses?

Birth Swell – http://birthswell.com/ – Jeanette & hilary have brought their unique skills & perspective in social media and communications and identified a major gap in the birth industry. Their niche market is a blend of practicing birth professionals and birth advocates who want to learn the theory and the practical how to’s for using new media and social media tools to build a business, change policy, and spread their birth (and breastfeeding and maternal/infant health) genius.

The Nesting Place – http://thenestingplace.ca – While Amanda Spakowski and the Nesting Place team of doulas & childbirth educators are providing similar core services as many other birth professionals in their region, the Nesting Place website does a great job of conveying their focus on parents who are seeking a guide, someone to help them feel less fear, and more confidence and connection, while supporting their birth choices without judgment. Their unique selling proposition stands out within the birth community, representing a model of care that goes far above and beyond standard prenatal class & doula care offerings in the area.

I have a new client right now who is going through an interesting discernment process regarding her niche. While she currently offers group prenatal classes at two great hub locations, she is increasingly feeling that the population at these locations is not a good match for her practice. As well, she is feeling a strong pull to focus her practice on the needs of families who are seeking a private prenatal class, wanting to cultivate a relationship-based practice that allows for more in-depth support than a group class would offer. It’s exciting watching her go through this transformation. It’s a great example of how when we are aligned with our niche, we enhance our own personal journey as a practitioner.

How do people know if they have a good niche? What’s the most important criteria to know if you have a solid niche?

It is very important to me that clients have a solid niche defined for themselves as a foundation before doing any website creation (or revision) or creating marketing materials.

Characteristics I look for include:

How specific is it? Could we create a persona based on this niche description? Personality, relationship, home decor, education level, income, etc… I like clients to create a pinterest board representing their ideal client to get a better sense of who she is.

Is the niche an excellent match for the nature of your care – both the services provided & your practice style and philosophy. Are you excited about working with her? Are you clear on what you have to offer her and why it is a great fit for her needs?

Understanding the relationship between the niche and the community – where is she likely to hang out? What other complementary services is she likely to be using?

Perhaps most importantly, you should feel excited about serving your niche!

What’s the simplest, most direct and most effective approach to finding your niche?

First you have to Believe in your Niche, and know that your Niche wants to find You.

I think the absolute foundation of finding your niche is believing that clients want to find you. Think about the massage therapists you’ve seen in your life – most of us have had a handful of mediocre massages before we find the therapist whose hands & spirit match what our body is craving. We walk in the door each time hoping that this will turn into a long term massage therapy relationship. Years ago my husband did an advanced business mentorship program and one of the lessons learned as he developed interview skills was that the person conducting the interview actually Wants you to be good. People are out there who need and want your help. Not just the service you provide, or the training & skills that you have cultivated, but the whole package of what you offer because of who you are.

The 2nd step is to Understand your Niche.

For me, this means creating an in depth portrayal of your ideal client. Making her so real that that you could meet her at a party and recognize her instantly. Let yourself understand her needs, desires, cravings, what she is seeking and what she will resonate with.

The final step is to Serve your Niche.

This means crafting our practice to truly match our niche. It’s not just about tailoring marketing materials to your niche. It’s also about taking a close look at your services, packages, and pricing to align with your niche. From a marketing perspective we are cultivating as many clues as possible to help our ideal clients find their way to the services they need. And finally, it means getting clear on what it means to serve your Niche – this means taking care as you grow your business to be sure you are adding services & products aligned with your niche, and sometimes saying no to clients who simply aren’t a good fit.

40 minute video interview on authentic marketing with nash ryker

The other day I did a forty minute video interview with Nash Ryker of http://yourepicdestinytv.com/.

We got to talk about some new ideas I have been having around authentic marketing, especially:

You can watch it here

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An Interview with Vrinda Normand: The Three Biggest Online Marketing Blindspots

June2013EventDay2V2Vrinda Normand is probably one of the best known copywriters in the whole conscious business scene.

She’s got the goods. Years ago, she did a 30 minute review of my sales copy for a new program I was launching and just tore it to shreds (and helped make it much better). So, I’ve seen her work first hand. She told me about the four stages that a potential clients needs to go through to want to work with you. And you can see seven mini samples of her work in this post.

And if you’d like to check out a series of free educational videos she’s recently put out on how to grow your business by creating virtual programs and products, you can check them out here.

She’s got a new program coming up that I want to make sure you knew about and so I did a little interview with her so you could get a sense of who she is and where she’s come from.

Vrinda speaks a lot about growing her business to seven figures – that might not be what you want but, believe me, she knows what she’s talking about and, at the very least, she can help you be a lot more effective at achieving whatever your marketing goals might be. As much as I am not drawn to the discussion of six and seven figures at this point in my life, I think it’s a mistake to dismiss it and the people sharing it. 

A big message she has here that is worth heeding is to stop winging it. Stop trying to make up the path to success by cobbling it together from things you see around you (that you might not fully understand). Vrinda is big on proven systems, checklists and making it easy for her clients. I’ve got a lot of respect for her.

Where did this program come from? What was the need you saw in the community that had you create this?

It all started when I was an investigative journalist for a Silicon Valley newspaper. I was getting burned out in my job, working too hard and not seeing the cover stories I wrote making a big difference in the world. Important political issues were brought to light but never significantly improved, and I started feeling unfulfilled and out of alignment with my purpose.

My career crisis collided with a health crisis – I became fatigued and my hair started falling out. I barely had enough energy to drag myself off the couch. I discovered I have a serious liver illness and I realized I could no longer keep living the same way – faced with constant deadlines in an underpaying job that made it very hard for me to take care of myself.

So I took a medical leave for a few months and started looking for a new career path. At the same time, I was getting natural healing treatments from a few holistic practitioners. They knew my career background and my situation and told me, “Vrinda, we need help with our marketing writing and YOU know how to write.”

They both invited me to attend a business seminar to learn more about how I could help them grow their businesses with my writing skills. That’s when I realized there was a whole new way I could help people and make a more positive difference.

When I attended the seminar – which was really the biggest eye-opener for me – I learned I could start my own business offering information products and group training programs to help people. This leveraged business model would allow me to break out of the dollars-for-hours cycle that kept me so overworked and underpaid.

I KNEW this was the right path for me. I was so excited to start my business. I invested in my first mentor that weekend and got the training I needed to create info products and programs.

The first product I sold, “E-Zine Articles Made Easy,” got a great response right away, and I knew I was on the right track for helping my clients get the support they needed. 

So in a way, my niche found me and told me how I could help them!  I now work with 1,000’s of holistic practitioners, coaches, consultants and other heart-based entrepreneurs empowering them to grow their businesses online with irresistible marketing messages and strategies.

I’m curious about your learning curve in doing online sales? Were you a natural at this or were there some hard learning curves for you?

As with anything, learning something takes practice and the results in the beginning are likely to be smaller as you’re still becoming competent at a new system or practice. 

My first program launches selling courses online were smaller, generating $20,000, then $50,000 and now we usually bring in about $200,000 with a successful online program launch. 

To get results and keep them growing, you need to follow a proven system – get one laid out for you by a mentor who’s accomplished what you aspire to. Don’t try to “wing it” by copying various things you see others doing online. This will just cause you a lot of headaches and lost income potential. I’ve seen too many people struggle this way.

The people who really master online sales success are those who invest in mentoring, put it into action and stick with it. You also need to be unstoppable – create your product or program and your online sales system, and get the professional mentoring and coaching to improve it as you grow. It’s a constantly evolving process.

And remember to have fun! No matter what level you’re at, growing your business online means you’re helping more people.

What are the three biggest blunders you see people making in online sales?

Great question!

BLIND SPOT #1 – SKIMPY COPY:  The first biggest blunder – or what I call “blind spot” – to watch out for is making your marketing copy (the words on your website) too skimpy, too short. 

Well, let me clarify. You want to write your promotional messaging in a succinct way, which means you use the fewest words to describe your point clearly, so it’s easy and quick for people to understand.

However too “skimpy” means you left a lot of important information out of your copy and people don’t have enough clarity about the value of your offer to take action and buy from you online. This is very common with online sales pages, especially when entrepreneurs are shy about making their page “too long” because they think people won’t read it.

The reality is, sales page copy can never be too long, it can only be too boring. So if you’re afraid people aren’t reading your stuff, you need to take a closer look at making your writing more irresistible, more compelling to your ideal clients.

And you need to make sure you have a complete formula to follow so you don’t miss any important pieces when enrolling clients online. Don’t be afraid to make your page long. Instead, make it thorough and highly engaging.

BLIND SPOT #2 – TALKING ABOUT PROCESS TOO MUCH:  The second “blind spot” is making your sales page too process driven. You focus too much of your messaging on the delivery of your program or product, so it’s all about your solution and how it works. 

That’s not very attractive to your ideal clients. They don’t care so much about process. What they care about is getting a solution to their problem and getting the end-results of the process. 

So focus on your ideal client and what they WANT, show them what outcomes are possible for them if they say yes to your program or product. 

This is very related to the first blind spot – process-driven copy is boring. So to make it more exciting, focus on the results and pleasures your ideal clients can look forward to.

BLIND SPOT #3 – TALKING TO EVERYONE: A third blind spot to avoid is making your copy too vague, not having a clear focus on a specific ideal client. 

You’d be surprised how many people think they know what a “niche” is but are still making this common mistake. 

When you try to please too many people at the same time, making your copy speak to different types of ideal clients because you don’t want to leave anyone out, the power of your message becomes watered down.

And even though you think you may attract more clients when you broaden your focus, you actually attract far less people because very few will be able to see how your message is relevant for them.

When your sales page has what I call “multiple personality disorder” your potential clients will become confused – they’ll see something that describes their situation but then they’ll see something else that’s very different. They’ll think your program isn’t right for them and go away without buying. 

 So to get the best results and truly serve people with your online sales copy, focus your page on 1 specific ideal client, and write as if you’re crafting a personal letter to 1 person. Imagine them in your head – this will make your page so much more intimate, conversational, and pleasing to read.

You’ve got a program coming up about online sales, can you tell us a bit about it and why you structured it the way you have?

My Irresistible Online Sales System enrollments are open for a few weeks this month (August 2013) – and I LOVE offering this program because it’s my most popular, most effective training to help entrepreneurs discover their irresistible marketing messages, create programs and sell them online. I specialize in working with entrepreneurs who want their marketing voice to be authentic, feel natural, and at the same time, be irresistible so clients respond and take action.

I’ve been evolving this program for the past 6 years and over 1,000 entrepreneurs have graduated from it. I feel it’s the strongest it has ever been in terms of teaching effectively and breaking down the proven step-by-step system to sell online. 

The program is taught with 7 virtual training modules, focused on the 7 key stages to enroll paying client online:

  • Market research to create the right offer for the right people 
  • Package your program for wildly successful sales
  • Craft your Irresistible Sales Page to Inspire a YES
  • Create your Compelling Offer Video that enrolls paying clients on the spot
  • Build Trust and Desire with Your Educational Videos
  • Get the proven launch plan to attract a rush of online sales
  • Get the team and technology to support you

The program also includes several forms of implementation support, coaching and Q&A opportunities that give my clients accountability, clarity and inspiration to fully implement the system.

I find that people need both a clear system to follow and the guidance to get it done right – that includes getting professional feedback on your marketing messages to make them compelling to your ideal clients. We also devote a significant portion of the training to helping people clarify who their ideal clients are and what program or product to offer – this is the most important foundation of any online sales system and that’s where we start with the program.

The Irresistible Online Sales System is right for any entrepreneur who wants to create leveraged income by selling an information product or group program online. If you don’t know what to offer yet but you know you want to grow in this direction, that’s great – I can help you with this program. It’s valuable for entrepreneurs with new or established businesses – both can create leveraged income online with success.

To learn more about how The Irresistible Online Sales System can benefit you, come to my complimentary webinar on “How to Enroll Paying Clients Online 24-7.”

It’s happening very soon! Save your spot now by clicking here

 

80 Minute Video Interview with George Kao – The Seven Steps to True Livelihood

george kaoOn August 6th, I hosted a video interview with my dear colleague George Kao.

George is consistently one of the innovative colleagues I’ve ever met.

He’s launching a new initiative in the personal growth & business space using a co-op business model which is really inspiring for me and we had a conversation about the seven steps he takes people through to identify their true livelihood – a business or career that feels good to them, uses their gifts and sustains them.

You can check out his initiative here: http://www.truelivelihoodcommunity.com/join.html and watch the eighty minute video interview below. 

 

what to do before you even think about marketing your business

Rebecca_9202_Cropped_SmallRebecca Tracey has something very important to share with you.
 
So many people come to me for marketing help who are not ready for it.
 
Before you can market a thing, you need a thing to market.
 
It sounds so simple.
 
But, if you want it to be really successful and fulfilled it’s not enough to have any old thing. It’s got to be something you’re over the moon proud of, something that you can’t wait to share with the world, something that expresses your heart and feels right to you.
 
And people often come to me with something they feel ‘okay’ about. Sometimes even ‘good’.
 
They do massage, but they haven’t figured out how to make it theirs yet. They haven’t found their voice in it. So they have a generic thing. And you can try to sex up a generic thing and add more sizzle to cover the lack of steak as it were . . . but in the end we feel incongruent about it and people discover it and are upset. 
 
Rebecca Tracey is one of my dearest colleagues and she helps people do this pre-marketing work (which is actually the basis of all effective marketing). She helps people take this generic thing (e.g. life coaching, massage, holistic practioner) and build solid foundation they’re proud of. And, believe me, this makes marketing so much easier. 
 
Before you obsess about making your business attractive to your clients, focus on making it attractive to you.
 
I recently did an interview with Rebecca about her new program The Uncaged Life Mastermind. You can read the interview below.
 
What’s the result you’re offering people?
 
I work with people who want the freedom to work from anywhere, and who want to work for themselves, but who can’t quite figure out what they could possibly do. I help them smoosh everything they love and everything they are all about into a business that fits them perfectly.

 
So you’ve recently refined to this direction – how did that happen and how is it feeling to hone it?

 
Oh my god Tad, it is feeling AMAZING!
 
Everything in my business is SO much easier! I was kinda-sorta always doing what I am doing now (helping people figure out what makes them unique and then helping them start a business based around it), but it scared me to really OWN it. So I kind of skirted around it for the first year and a half. I was too scared to really commit to it (welcome to my life!). And now that I’ve really owned up to my expertise and have redirected my business to really make this the cornerstone of what I do, everything is all falling into place.
 
I know you’ve seen a lot of people try to create a business before they have a solid foundation underneath it. Can you share what you’ve seen?
 
Well, I’m probably the best example of that.
 
I graduated as a Holistic Nutritionist and was desperately trying to grow my business, but something wasn’t feeling right. I had NO idea what made me any different from the other thousands of nutritionists out there. I had NO deeper connection to why I was doing it in the first place, so nothing was really working and my whole business felt really generic (even though I knew I wasn’t a generic type of person. I felt like I was trying to be something I wasn’t). 
 
It wasn’t until I really looked at what it was that I loved about nutrition – that it gave people a choice about how they wanted to feel and live – that I was able to see why I was really doing it. I cared about people CHOOSING their lives. And so I ditched the nutrition part and JUST focused on coaching, and all of a sudden everything made sense. I allowed myself to build a business that was based on what I was naturally good at  – seeing the possibility in people and in situations, coming up with creative solutions, helping people move past obstacles so they can have lives of adventure and travel and fun. A way better fit than trying to tell people that kale is healthy.
 
And I have seen this over and over again with my clients. They have a general idea of what their business is, but they have no really sense of purpose. They are kind of just going through the motions of creating a website, picking a tagline, learning how to use social media, but they’re SO disconnected to their bigger WHY that they struggle and business feels hard and kind of like a drag.
 
Once we get really clear on WHY they care so much about what they care about, they have permission to ditch what’s not working and leave the rest.
 
You have a powerful system for helping people create a solid foundation before they build their business – can you lay out the steps you’ve created?
 
Yes!
 
1. Mindset. We are usually our biggest obstacle, so gotta tackle that first!
 
2. Values + Lifestyle. You have to know what’s important to you if you want to know what business to create.
 
3. Purpose  + Message. What do you care so much about that you could build a business around it? I help my clients dig deep with this, and this is the foundation of the work that we do.
 
4. Strengths + Weaknesses, Skills + Expertise. What are you naturally good at (oftentimes so good that you don’t even recognize it was a strength). These are the biggest clues to what kind of business will suit you.
 
5. Idea Generation. We take everything from above and we smash it all together into business ideas, then work through them to tweak them until they feel like a great fit.
 
6. Testing your ideas. I help my clients pick a shortlist of all their ideas and put them to work testing them out in the real world. We look at what worked and what didn’t, and tweak things as we go.
 
My goal is to leave my clients with a business idea that feels 80% right, so they can continue to build it and still have room for it shift and evolve with them as they learn more about what they love to do.
 
I really believe the process is experiential and not analytical, and that taking action is the only way to really figure it out.
 
For my clients who already have business but things aren’t feeling quite right, we basically use the same steps to evaluate what’s not working for them and shine a light on what they could do differently that would be a much better fit for them.
 
I’m curious which of these steps were there when you started and which ones you discovered along the way? And can you share the stories of how you realized they needed to be included?
 
With the nutrition business that I was trying to start I felt like I was forcing my message to fit my business, instead of creating my business around my message. I had it backwards. As soon as I stopped forcing it and let my purpose/message be front and center in my business (and ditched the parts that weren’t working), everything came together quickly.  
 
My values were always there too, those were clear to me before I even had a business. I always knew the way that I wanted to work and what I wanted my lifestyle to look like, so I integrated that right from the beginning.
 
Testing my ideas was also something that came naturally to me. I’ve always been a bit of a “ready, fire, aim” kind of girl, and I tend to make things happen FAST in all aras of my life. When I want something, I want it now! So I never hesitated to try out new things and see what worked and what didn’t, and it became very clear to me early on that this HAS to be a part of creating a business. You can’t just sit and think about what might work – you actually have to put it into action and test it.
 
It took me a bit longer to really hone in on my strengths and figure out how to use them in my business. I started as a coachy-coach, and its only now that I’m really coming into owning that I am WAY better at teaching and leading than I am at being neutral (as you’re “supposed” to do as a coach). So I’ve slowly been listening when things in my business don’t feel great, and then picking them apart to see what strengths I may be squashing and which ones I need to play up more. I now know that creating a business without being clear on your natural strengths is just bogus – it has to be part of the process to create something sustainable
 
Can you share some stories of clients who’ve created uncaged lives and careers or at least made some major progress?
 
I recently worked with a birth specialist and doula who is creating a business centered about teaching people about their options when it comes to giving birth.

She was excited about her idea, but was doubting her expertise. We worked together to discover that what she really cares about is helping women connect with the power of what it really means to be a woman giving birth, to help them embrace real femininity through the birthing experience. This felt way more resonant for her than simply “teaching people about birth options”, and opened up a whole new world for her in terms of ways that she can work with and help her clients. She now has a solid foundation to work on and has so many ideas to move forward with, when before she was feeling kind of stuck about what to offer.

Another client and good friend of mine from nutrition school worked her butt off to create her little nutrition practice. She was working with clients and teaching workshops and all was going well. Except that it wasn’t. It was glaringly obvious to me that her whole thing was about body wisdom and learning to love and respect your body, whether it wants to eat cookies or kale. We worked together to help her get really clear about what felt off in her business, and I’m happy to say that now she has fully stepped into her true calling and I can just feel the energy behind what she’s creating. SO much more resonant than the blanket nutritionist thing,
 
To me, an uncaged life is all about doing work that lets you play to your FULL potential AND gives you the lifestyle you want. This looks different for everyone, and I would really encourage everyone to figure out what their version of living Uncaged looks like.
 
I know you just recorded a free call where you went in depth into your system – where can people get access to that?
 
You can get that free training here http://www.theuncagedlife.com/free-training/
 
Also, check out her full Uncaged Life Mastermind 
 
Rebecca_9202_Cropped_SmallAbout Rebecca: As a Life-Switch Coach + Professional Adventure Instigator, I work with people who want to quit their shitty day jobs and create Uncaged careers that let them travel the world and work on their own terms. I help them create cool Uncaged Careers out of thin air. I also work with entrepreneurs who are feeling a little stuck, and who need to revamp and revive their businesses to be more in line with who they are. Ready to take your top-secret, rule-bending, crazy-town dream—and lay out a plan, to bring it to life? Let’s tell your excuses to suck it. Together.

Interview with Anastasia Netri About Vulnerability and Honesty in Marketing

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Anastasia Netri (pictured right) recently asked me to be a part of her ‘Experts in the Raw: The Naked Truth About Success‘ telesummit. Her idea was to give people a very candid look at the truth of what it takes to grow a business in the real world, beyond the marketing hype of how easy it is. I loved the idea. And I loved her even more when she told me all the speakers needed to send her an ‘almost nude’ photo. You can see the photo I went with here.

So, I decided to interview her for my blog so you could get a taste of what this program is all about and who she is and how you can build deeper trust by weaving in more authenticity and vulnerability into your business.

You speak a lot about needing to be real about how hard it is when you first start out. We’re often told: “You can make $10,000 a month in 2 days a week even if you’re just starting out!” or “Get to 6 figures in your first 3 months of business!” or “A million dollar business is easy!” And then, after trying really hard we’re left wondering, “What’s WRONG with me that I can’t do that?” Can you share what it was like for you when you started out?

When I first started out, I couldn’t GIVE my stuff away. Literally.  I offered to coach people for free, for $20 an hour, and STILL couldn’t get clients. And then the niche switching began.
 
2 years.  7 niches.  7 different websites.  7 different business cards.  7 different newsletters.  And like, 3 clients.  Freakin’ disaster.  
 
What really turned it around for me was in 2009, in December, I had HAD it.  Officially.  I made a powerful intention that 2010 was NOT going to suck, and that I would create a big list, fill my practice, and get on with it.
 
Then, about 6 weeks later I met a nice man who suggested I do a tele summit – I didn’t even know what one was at the time.  He introduced me to some big names, and I’ll never understand how – but I put the thing together.  I did my own website, had no team, and worked my ass off for 5 months.  But it worked.  I grew to a list of 4,000 people, and by June, I had a full practice.
 
I think success can happen a lot of ways – and that was mine.  But I took on a project that was so huge, and stepped into it.  So my little nugget is – when opportunity comes a knockin’ – don’t turn that shit down.  Step up and take it.

This program you’re doing feels a lot like the Emperors New clothes. there’s an exposing, unveiling and truth telling energy to this. Why is this so important to you?

I spent so much of my own life “comparing” to everyone else. I thought people who had achieved success had it all together, and I always felt like I could never measure up. I think the spiral of negative self talk was the biggest thing in my way.

I know I’m not the only one that feels like that. I thought if I could show people that they are just the same as the people that they *think* have it all together, that we make mistakes, still have wounds and stuff, and can still “make it” then they can too.

What’s the response been so far? Is it hitting a nerve like you thought it would? Are people getting it?

People are not only “getting it” but they’re loving it. It seems to be speaking to those people that really WANT a peek behind the curtain. We’ve already built a community of nearly 4,000 amazing entrepreneurs, and it’s growing from there. Very cool.

One of the lessons I’m reminded of from this is the power of helping people remember that they’re not alone and they’re not crazy for having their experience. It’s painful to be trying to grow a business and feel like everyone is ahead of you and you should be further because some guru said so – when, in reality, you may be doing great but have a skewed set of expectations based on someone’s hype and marketing. Can you say anything more about this?

I agree totally. Expectations is everything. There is a lot of belief out there that we are all “falling behind” and it’s not true. The truth is – in ANY business, it takes 3-5 years to really turn a profit.

I really sum it up like this (I wrote this to a FB group of clients):

You see, it takes 3 years MINIMUM to really turn a profit in your business. In year 1 – EVERYTHING IS NEW. You can feel like a novice, no one knows you, you’re scared, you have to do 5 tele seminars until you get it right…all of that. You’re really a bad ass if you have a nice practice, and can pay some bills with the money you generated from your business.

Then, in year 2, you start to know a little more. You’re starting to figure this out. But, you reinvest all of your money. You hire your expensive coach, you get your nice pictures up. You upgrade your branding. And more.

Then, you go into year 3. Now, shit is starting to work. You’re getting the hang of this. You know some people. You have some attention. You have mastered sales conversations and now you can sell your bad ass $10,000 package (or more).

Year 4 comes. You got a profit. You’re a player in the industry. You’ve got a big ol’ list. And it just grows from there.

There are exceptions to the rule, of course, but this is how it is for 90% of entrepreneurs – not just coaches, but ANYONE.

SO KEEP GOING. TAKE CONSISTENT ACTION. Don’t give up. It DOES get easier.

If people knew this, perhaps they wouldn’t think they are FAILING. A quantum leap doesn’t necessarily mean 6 figures. It means that you’re still going, making leaps, and not giving up.

Here’s an example:

If you want to be a speaker, chances are…you may suck for your first few talks. However, if you want it enough and you’re driven to keep going, you ask questions, get some training, and practice – then lo and behold – you’re going to be an awesome speaker. It’s that simple. 

MOST (not all of course) but MOST “overnight successes” have more to them than what you see. I love to point people towards comedians – I think that’s got to be one of the hardest jobs out there. People have get up on stage, and get their timing just right, their bits refined, and most of the time, when they’re really funny – that’s the result of getting up OVER AND OVER night after night and getting everything right. It’s a journey of getting to really see who we are, what we’re capable of, and at the end of the day – your bank account is a measure of: how much you’re in your power, how much you allow yourself to be supported, and how much you’ve learned and grown.

Making money as an entrepreneur requires some skills. There’s marketing. Sales conversations. Technology. Relationship building. The list goes on and on. Growing a business will pull you out of your comfort zone in 25 different directions at once. But – when you take one step at a time, breathe, ask questions, get help, and just DO IT…at some point you will achieve mastery. (And, then you’ll be on to the next new and exciting thing!)

Being an entrepreneur is a spiritual, mental, and emotional bootcamp. It will train you to be at your best, know who you are, and embrace the unknown more than just about anything you’ll ever do.

You can be one of the 10% if you simply decide right now that you aren’t giving up. That’s what every successful person you know has in common. There was no “plan b”. They just made it work. It’s not because they are smarter, prettier, richer, or more popular. It’s because they kept going. YOU can do that too. Let today be the day you decide.

You speak about the importance of being sort of selectively vulnerable and sharing mistakes you’ve made that are relevant to them. What’s your feeling about sharing things you are currently struggling with?

I think it’s the truth. It is HARD to share that stuff though, quite honestly. But I’m found that in a past program that I lead, and even with current clients, when I share screw ups from “last week”, and turn it into a teaching moment, people see the real deal – which is mistakes happen, and the bigger you’re going, sometimes the bigger the mistake.

BUT, as long as you learn from them, APPLY your learning, and move on – then that’s what will guarantee your success.

In the beginning, I felt like everyone does, which is “if they knew how fu*ked up I was, no one would hire me.”

It was when I first started running group programs that I found myself sharing personal stuff, mistakes I made last week, and I found that people were feeling closer to me, trusting me more, and getting more empowered from feeling like they didn’t have to be perfect all the time.

So I kept doing it, and then started to share stuff more publicly in baby steps. I still get nervous about it, but I decided the best way to keep going with this was to invite a bunch of people to hang it out of the wind with me. And here we are.

Many entrepreneurs wonder how much to share with their clients, and for good reason.

When it comes to being authentic in your marketing and communication with your clients, you don’t have to share everything. Sometimes, it’s not in service of them to do so. It doesn’t mean you’re holding back if you don’t want to be public with everything. Private lives are okay!

However, being a little edgy with your sharing can really help your clients to relate to you, to know that you understand them, and to feel even more connected with your message.

Here are a couple of tips that will help you decide what to share:

Tip #1: Share things your clients can learn from

It is of great service of your clients to share mistakes you made, what you learned from it, and what you can teach them as a result of it.

For instance, let’s say you teach about how to maintain balance, and last week you worked 90 hours, never left your house, and didn’t shower for 4 days. (It happens.)

A great article or talk could tell your clients something like:

“Look, balance is not always on an every day basis. Last week I was in the middle of a huge project and worked super hard, but I realized that one week of “full steam ahead” would provide me with 2 weeks of lightening up my schedule.

So I finished my project, scheduled an entire day unplugged, got a massage, and curled up with ‘50 shades of gray’ for a few hours. It was awesome, and I had accomplished a lot. I celebrated myself.

It’s important to remember the first and most important quality of balance is to not beat up on yourself, know that at times you’ll get busy, and make sure to plan some down time. Then, return to your balanced life the following week.”

You’re sharing with them that they don’t have to be perfect and give them permission to fall off the horse from time to time. You can then, lovingly encourage them to keep getting back on track.

Tip #2: Share things your clients can relate to

Let’s take the same scenario. You teach about balance. In your “story” you may not want to share about the crack problem you had in 1983. This has nothing to do with them, and what their issues are.

But you CAN share about how you worked 90 hours a week for a year, burned yourself out, had to learn the skills you now teach, and how it helped you.

Remember to keep your shares relevant, turn your “mistakes” into teaching moments, and be open to showing them that if you don’t do things perfectly all the time, they can still have an amazing life!

What do you do when you get personally attacked by someone on your list for being ‘out of integrity’? And, if it hasn’t happened to you, what would you recommend people doing?

I’ll tell ya – the bigger your list and your following the MORE that people will come at you. I’ve had people tell me that I suck before (or they don’t like this or that about me), and it’s hard to hear. However, there is always something useful in it. So instead of blaming them, I listen. I will find places to get more clear, set better expectations, and be a better coach. There’s always juice in that feedback, and it’s hard not to take it to heart. I think the key is not staying there, and to keep getting back up.

Truth and integrity, and what they mean, varies from person to person. So that kind of stuff can be useful in deciding who YOU are. You get a thicker skin and realize that you’re going to trigger people at some point. I always tell my clients: “If you’re marketing is not repelling with the same energy that it’s attracting, then you may still be trying to please everyone.”

Not everyone likes the fact that I have Fu*k written on my facebook wall every other day. But the ones who love it are my peeps. I can’t please everyone and I’m exhausted trying, just like most people. Hence the whole “naked and raw” theme. The people I’m meant to serve get it. The other ones don’t, and they’re meant to be helped by someone else. It takes a village for sure – all of us coming together. And when you step into your voice, your people will love you for it.

 

Anastasia Netri is the creator of Experts in the Raw – the Naked Truth About Success global online event. She has brought 20 speakers together to share the behind the scenes look into the real life of an entrepreneur, (and share lots of teaching moments for you!) so that you feel empowered to keep going and create the life they dream about. Check it out here