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Common Sense SEO - Blog

A good website is more than just a business asset.

A good website is the employee who doesn’t take breaks. Who answers questions for potential clients at 4am or while you’re taking a much-needed vacation day. Who knows everything there is to know about your brand and can tell people just what they need at just the right moment. A good website is worth all the time and money and energy we spend making sure everything is just. right. Design. Copy. User experience. Layout. A good website takes it all into account.

And a good website is completely worthless if people can’t find it.

I recently wrote that SEO is BS, but that’s admittedly a bit reductive. It’s important that search engines can find your website, even if you’ve developed other sources of traffic. You may find that social media, incoming referrals from other sites, or email links make up a decent portion of your traffic, and once you’ve gotten a devoted following, readers will probably even come to your site directly. But in the past month, a bit over 50% of the traffic at TheVoiceBureau.com came from organic search, which means that a large portion of our readers are still coming to us for the first time, and they’re coming from search engines.

(We like Google Analytics for tracking these things, but there are plenty of options you might check out, if you want to give something else a try.)

So here’s the thing about SEO: it’s not rocket science. Don’t bother researching some clever way of gaming the system, because 99% of those tricks will end up working against you, when you could just spend that same time doing things the right way. Don’t create duplicate pages just to fake having more content. We’re past the days of keyword stuffing (and the junky spam websites it created). Meta tags and keywords are useful, but they’re not going to make or break your site’s search rankings. Incoming links are definitely important, and that’s something you’ll develop over time as you use social media and write guest posts and develop partnerships. (Don’t buy links. Don’t get junk links in bogus online directories. This is not a quick fix — you need to actually have real links on real sites for this to matter.)

You do want to use title tags and meta descriptions, but you don’t need to bring in a team of experts to do an analysis on that for you — you just need to clearly describe what’s contained on that page, and make sure you include them all the time.

It’s true: the best way to get your website to show up in searches is to have lots of high-quality content that naturally uses the terms people use when talking about what you do.

Tags and descriptions are great for behind-the-scenes SEO, but the real workhorse of your website is going to be the copy itself. So how do you write a website that search engines will love? Well, let’s keep it really simple.

Don’t bury the lede — start with what the page is about.

Come up with, say, five to ten keywords that you want to naturally highlight on that page. This is going to vary depending on the point of the page — your About Page needs to lead with your name, while a Services page is going to lead with (wait for it…) the names of your services. But, generally speaking, let’s say your keywords could be:

  • your name,
  • your business name,
  • the “job title” of what you do,
  • what a client would call your key services,
  • your location if your business operates in-person,
  • a need someone might have that would bring them to you,
  • a key result someone might have from working with you.

For The Voice Bureau, my keywords might be: Katie Mehas (and/or Abby Kerr), The Voice Bureau, Copywriting, Branding, Brand Voice, Consulting, Courses. I might use the specific name of a course or product, if it was a page for that particular item. We wouldn’t use all of those on every page, and there are others we’d work in that would be specific to certain pages, but that would be where I’d generally start.

Use your keywords early in the page, using a header tag, if possible. Your main title should be H1. Subsections are H2. Important info that isn’t necessarily a heading could be H3.

For example:

H1 – The Voice Bureau’s Courses for Entrepreneurs

H2 – The E-Letter Atelier

H3 – Craft your solo-owned or small business e-newsletter from concept to content

Make it really, really easy for a reader to tell what your page is about, and what you are about. If a reader can see what’s going on at a glance, a search engine probably can, too. Fill out your tags and keywords so that the backend of your website is doing some work, too, but don’t try to get clever — these should match what you just put on the page.

And then…relax. Your page doesn’t need to cram in every keyword possible. You aren’t telling the entirety of your story on every single page of copy.

Something to keep in mind: you want to walk the line between being present in a larger pool of potential clients and standing out in your specialty. Think of it this way. Let’s say you have an in-person businesses with two locations, one operating in New York City and one in Tuscarora, PA. You want to make sure you’re advertised as being in NYC, because there are millions of people there who might benefit from your services. There are also a lot more competitors, so you’re going to get a much smaller portion of that market share. Now, you don’t want to ignore Tuscarora, either — you may well be the only business of your type there, and that means everyone looking for one of you is looking for you, specifically.

How does this relate to online businesses?

Well, let’s say you’re a coach.

(And please, say you’re a coach. “Joy consultant” or “lifestyle sparklepreneur” or “un-stuckening fixologist” are completely worthless in searches.)

So you’re a coach. Say that, and get yourself out there in the pool of “coach” search results. But do you have a specialty? Do you do career consulting? Wellness? Nutrition? Meditation? Touch therapy? Past life regression? Tarot? Don’t forget to bring that up early on, too. This is your Tuscarora — be the result when someone is looking for exactly what you do. A good website is going to tell search engines,“Bring me up when someone is looking for these things — whether I’m one of many, generally speaking, or the only one in my specific field.”

A good website is also going to speak to your Right Person when they get there…and this is where it can get a little trickier.

Speaking directly to that Right Person takes some work (I mean, it’s why we’re in business). Knowing — and using — your Voice Values helps. And the more you communicate with your readers, the more comfortable you’ll be speaking to them.

But, for now, focus on clarity. You can work on nuance and conversation and style later. A search engine isn’t going to be too worried about that sort of thing, and chances are, your Right Person is going to be using pretty vanilla search terms to find you. Get them in the door. And then you can show them why they should stay.

In the comments, I’d love to hear:

Do you feel comfortable working with SEO? What do you think are the biggest misconceptions about it?

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29 Lessons - Blog

Five years ago this week, I incorporated as an LLC.

*cue the confetti*

 

When I first dipped my toes into the world of creative self-employment, I didn’t have any expectations. All I knew at the time was that the traditional job market wasn’t working for me (or, at least, I wasn’t finding work in it). As a classic car magazine editor with literally no interest whatsoever in classic cars, my career path was sort of…niche. I figured, if I couldn’t find the right job, I’d make one until something better came along. I didn’t expect that this necessarily would be the right job, but here we are — I love what I do and have no desire to go back.

Over the past five years, I’ve picked up a few things. I have no illusions about sharing these insights with you — some of these lessons, you’ll have to figure out for yourself if you want them to stick. And I definitely don’t know everything. Far from it. Please don’t think I’m all, “Well, I’ve been in business for five years now, so I’ve basically figured it all out.” But I’ve made some mistakes and gotten some things right, and I’ve learned a lot in the process. So sit back and listen, and maybe I can save you from learning a couple things the hard way.

And so, without further ado: 29 lessons I’ve learned over the past five years.

 

  1. You have to set boundaries. Really. This might mean having an office with a door that stays shut “after hours” or just saying that you don’t reply to emails after 10:00 at night. But when your home is your work (and your phone is the entire Internet), it’s way too easy to let it creep into every waking moment. Don’t.
  2. A day job isn’t a life sentence (or a bad thing). Going back to a day job doesn’t mean you’ve failed. You are not trapped. Sometimes, a steady paycheck (or some employer-subsidized health insurance) is exactly what you need to give you the freedom to take important risks in your business. If you’re scared of getting stuck, consider temp work. My nine months at HSN — starting just a few months after I officially “went solo” and ending, um, when I went into labor with my daughter — were exactly what I needed to build up some savings while I built my client list. I probably wouldn’t still be in business today if I hadn’t taken that time.
  3. SEO is BS. Okay, before you totally write me off as a copywriter — obviously, it’s important for search engines to find you. But trying to fit in a million keywords is stupid. Once your Right Person finds your site, they’re going to turn around and leave because you sound desperate and confusing and generally awful. Be genuine, informative, and straightforward, and the keywords will naturally work themselves into the page. (This is why you’re not a “happiness sparklepreneur” or a “rogue copy-hawk.” Literally no one is looking for that. Or knows what it is.)
  4. You have to spend money to make money — but maybe not as much as you think. You’ve gotta have a website. You’ll need an email client. Sooner or later, you’ll probably need to hire some support. You may benefit from courses and training and consulting work. But you don’t need very much on your first day. It’s easy to fall into the trap of taking every course and doing everything you can to prep for your business before you even have your first client, but you run a definite risk of being an eternal student and never actually launching. Try putting some work in. It’ll become very clear very quickly what you actually need.
  5. Sometimes, the greatest benefit of a group course is in the connections you make, not the material you learn. (And, in this respect, bigger isn’t always better.) Being one of five people in a tight-knit Facebook group could have a lot more impact on your business than being one of 200 in the latest round of a big-name course, all shouting over each other to promote their business. Don’t fall into the trap of assuming the biggest name is going to give you the best connections.
  6. You will eventually need help. Sure, you can do your own taxes and customer support and web design and copywriting and client work and accounting and strategy and projections and marketing and coding and tech support and social media and graphics and networking and blogging. But if you want to grow your business, even a little bit (and sleep, even a little bit), you’re eventually going to have to hand a few things over to someone else. Figure out what needs to be done by you, and start divesting the things that are keeping you from getting that stuff done. And do it before you’re desperate.
  7. Trust the process. You’ll figure out a working style that suits you. I have two small kids home with me all day, so I tend to work via email rather than phone or Skype so I don’t end up the next “BBC Dad” [er, Mom]. When we do things at The Voice Bureau using the particular process we’ve developed, the projects go so smoothly. When we fight the process, they don’t. Trust what feels right, make adjustments as you go, and you’ll end up finding the best way for you. Then, stick with it. If you find a project management client you love, don’t let your client talk you into using something else. If you need two weeks to design a logo, don’t offer to do it in two days, even if you really really want to make that sale. Do what you need to do to deliver your best work, every time.
  8. Don’t fight for what isn’t working. If you do best replying to emails on the fly throughout the day, don’t force yourself to do all your daily email in one batch at 9:00 just because some productivity expert says that’s what you should do. If you hit a wall at 3:00 every afternoon, don’t schedule client sessions then — schedule nap time or a walk around the block. You get to write the rules of your own business, and that means saying no to things that don’t work for you.
  9. Not all clients are right for you. My very first client was a terrible fit. She wanted me to do work that was so far outside the scope of our project, it was like walking into a dry cleaner’s and trying to order a pizza. When you find someone who trusts your experience and is excited to work with you, it’s magic. Chase that, every day. Write your copy like you are speaking directly to that one Right Person. Pass on the projects that are covered in red flags. They’ll fill up your entire schedule and keep you from the ones you really should be serving.
  10. Be who you are. Do what you do. If you’re an introvert business coach, don’t try to be an extrovert lifestyle brand just because you think that’s what people want — or vice versa. There are people who want what you have to offer. Trust that they’re out there. Because pretending to be someone you’re not sucks.
  11. Don’t forget about taxes. Seriously, set something aside from every sale. Self-employment taxes can be super high. You do not want to have that dropped on you April 14th.
  12. Treat yo’ self. It’s easy to forget to take care of ourselves when we’re wrapped up in running a business. Just because you can wear the same clothes every day doesn’t mean you don’t deserve to look nice if you want to. If you have the spare cash, shell out for something that makes you happy from time to time. If you don’t have extra money, set aside time to take a bath or watch a movie that makes you laugh (without your laptop open in front of you). Have a glass of wine on a Tuesday. Recharge your batteries, replenish your well, sharpen your saw — whatever metaphor you like. But don’t forget yourself, or your business will suffer.
  13. You’ll never have it all figured out. That’s okay. None of us do. You learn more every day, every project, every launch. But not even the “experts” have all the answers.
  14. A good website is your best and most important investment. Your site is like the world’s best wing(wo)man. It should set the stage for working with you — give all the important details, let people get a feel for who you are and what you do and what it would be like to work with you/buy products from you/have coffee with you. It should do it at 4am Thailand-time, or in the middle of a snowstorm, or when you’re in bed with the flu, or when you’re out celebrating your birthday. This is how people will find you, how they’ll evaluate you. It’s worth the time and resources to do it right.
  15. Everyone deals with imposter syndrome. We all have moments when we feel like we’re total frauds and are going to be found out, no matter how much experience we have or how good we are at our jobs. I think it’s good not to get too confident, but don’t let yourself get in your own head. Just because you don’t have every single answer doesn’t mean you aren’t good at what you do.
  16. This is a real job. Don’t let anyone tell you otherwise. This is a hard one, especially early on when the money may not be flowing freely. What’s worse is that it’s often a lesson we have to teach ourselves before we can convince other people. And I think women, especially, have a hard time with this. I’ve heard men who don’t even have the inklings of a business call themselves “consultants,” and women with a dozen published pieces and a novel in the works struggle to give up the “I mean, I’m working towards, maybe, I’d like to be” that comes before “a writer.” So how do you get past this? Give yourself a title that doesn’t sound ridiculous. (Seriously.) Practice your elevator pitch — the one-minute summary of what you do. Say it in the mirror. Say it to strangers. Say it until you believe it. And then don’t let anyone downplay your career.
  17. You need to know your own value. Believe it. Then add 15%. Yes, it’s hard to put a price tag on your time and expertise, but don’t shortchange yourself. And don’t forget about business expenses. You’re providing a valuable service to your clients. If you’re not paying yourself enough to be sustainable, you won’t be doing this for long.
  18. You are not an expert on day one. I know I’ve just gotten over telling you to value your time, but that doesn’t mean treating yourself as if you’re the foremost expert in your field your first day on the job. Be humble. Learn things. Don’t charge $200 an hour for consulting work when you’ve never helped a client. Learn constantly.
  19. Hustling isn’t for everyone. There are other ways to make sales. If the thought of cold-calling gives you hives, don’t do it. Find ways to connect that work for you. That doesn’t mean slacking off — no one is going to be lining up at your door without you putting in some serious legwork — but this is not a one-size-fits-all proposition. And if you’re not a hustler, figure out what you are and do that, instead.
  20. Find your zone of genius. Live in it. It can be hard to see our own strengths, but figure out what you have to offer and make that the core of your business. You never know how many people are looking for your particular blend of skills until you put it out there. If you’re a master wordsmith but hate podcasts, don’t do podcasts. Write. You’re in charge of your own job description.
  21. Find your weak spots. Learn enough to get help. Let’s say you wake up tomorrow morning to find a giant puddle in front of your refrigerator. You don’t need to know refrigerator repair to know something is wrong. Your business is the same way — you need to know enough to know when you need help, but that doesn’t mean you need to be an expert in everything. Focus on being the absolute best at the work you do, handle the things you understand (and have time for), and learn just enough about the things that don’t make sense to you to knowledgeably hire someone to take care of them.
  22. You’ll want to quit. You’re going to spend hours on a proposal that isn’t accepted. You’re going to have 50-hour work weeks without a single sale. You’re going to miss getting paid to check Facebook, or having coworkers to chat with, or a steady paycheck, or company lunches, or a job that you can turn off when you walk out the door at night. You’re going to feel overwhelmed by the idea of keeping up with the newest ideas and best practices and training. If you feel this way a lot, it may be time to sit down and decide if this is right for you in the long term. But don’t assume you’re destined to give it up the first time you feel a twinge of regret. We all do, sometimes.
  23. Connections are everything. Your best clients are going to be your biggest cheerleaders — and referrals are the absolute best endorsement. You may even be lucky enough to connect with other entrepreneurs who become your closest friends and strongest allies. (Of course, luck has nothing to do with it — you have to seek those connections out.) Don’t assume that just because you’re working by yourself in your own home, you’re alone in this.
  24. You are going to meet some amazing people. Some, you may even meet in person. I’ve made some fantastic friends over the past five years through my work, but I live in Florida, and most of them do not. I’ve been fortunate enough to meet up with a handful of them in person, and it’s been amazing. But the ones who I’ve never actually seen face-to-face are no less important to me. The internet is so cool, isn’t it? I have so much more in common with my chosen tribe online than I do with many people who just happen to be located in the same city as me. I’m thankful every day that this job allows me to spend time with them, even if we’re never in the same room.
  25. Change out of your pajamas. Every. Day. Seriously, even if you’re just putting on your “day pajamas.” Get dressed. You have a business, not the flu. (Unless you also have the flu, in which case, keep those pajamas on and get back to bed.)
  26. Not every idea will work. That doesn’t mean it’s a failure. When I started out, I was running a monthly burlesque/life drawing event on the side. It was so much fun, but when I figured out my “hourly rate” for the work I was doing…it was about $1 an hour. Literally. Not exactly a raging financial success. You’re going to do things — come up with consulting packages, write courses, create products — that just don’t sell. Figure out what you can learn from the process and salvage that, and scrap what didn’t work. For me, I got a lot better at graphic design from making fliers, I got out of my introvert box networking with local performers, and I honed my event planning skills, which have helped me with managing projects. I also had a lot of fun and made some great friends, and I can’t regret a single, unprofitable second because of that.
  27. Inspiration is often inconvenient. Never ignore it. You’re going to get ideas for your business in the shower, out running errands, at 5am, and when you’re elbows-deep in a kid’s science project. Make sure you can take notes so you don’t forget about it (Did you know they make waterproof notepads for the shower?), because there’s a very good chance you’re going to go totally blank the second you sit down in front of your computer to work. You’re much better off spending a super-inconvenient hour at 5am being really productive than spending four hours staring at a blank screen at noon.
  28. Everything comes in cycles. Those first few months in business, I was slowly picking up clients, building my presence…and then crickets. All of a sudden, no new inquiries, no connections, nothing. The more I’ve grown my business, the less that summer slump hits me, but that first year, it was like everything came crashing down just as it was getting off the ground. But then the fall came, and all of a sudden, it picked up again. If you’re just getting started, don’t freak out. It can be scary when you’re used to a steady day job (and its steady paycheck), but over time, you start to even appreciate the ups and downs. Use the quiet time to learn something new, or create a product, or take a vacation. It’ll pick up before you know it.
  29. Tools and systems aren’t sexy, but they are everything. I know, as a left-brain creative, I’m sort of a rare bird. But show me an amazing spreadsheet or an intuitive, flexible process, and I will go weak in the knees. Because I know that these are the things that make business so much easier, even if they sound boring on paper. (Or in a blog. I know.)

So that’s it — a few of the things I’ve learned over the past five years working for myself. I’m sure I’ll come up with half a dozen more over the next week that I’ll kick myself for leaving out, but let’s go with it. Gotta leave something for the next five.

In the comments, I’d love to hear:

What’s been your biggest business lesson so far? Do any of my lessons hit home for you — or totally contradict your own experience?

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Changing the Face - Blog

There’s been a lot of change around here lately.

From the outside, it might even look dramatic. The thing is, when I took over as owner of The Voice Bureau a few months ago, it wasn’t a sudden shift. In fact, it’s something that’s been in process for quite a while.

I’m beyond thrilled to be stepping into this role. It feels like a natural progression of the business and of my career, the next step in my self-employment (five years at the beginning of next month!). And The Voice Bureau is such a natural fit for everything I love to do.

Of course, there have definitely been some adjustments.

Abby and I worked well together for the past several years because we have such complementary styles. The jobs she dreaded, I relished. The natural tendencies I lacked, she had. We made a great team.

Now that I’m at the helm, those differences feel more apparent. It’s a bit like wearing someone else’s sweater — there’s a hint of unfamiliar laundry detergent and a tightness around the neck from long days draped across someone else’s shoulders. Even if it’s a style you’d wear, maybe the color isn’t your usual look, or it’s a little heavier material than you like. I’ve stepped into a business that isn’t my own design, and, while I’m excited to be here, it still feels just a bit…strange.

Let me be clear, I love The Voice Bureau and everything it stands for. I love our clients. I love the work we do. I have absolutely no desire to change anything fundamental, especially because I was a part of getting us where we are today. The sweater is my style, but, if you want to get literal about it, it’s a bit more mauve than I usually go for. The INFJ Business course of a few years ago that was such a hit with our community wouldn’t work for me, because, as an INTJ, I get  you, but I am not you. My voice is a bit different, both in our courses and in our blog posts and other communications.

Basically, I’m not Abby. And that’s okay.

Who I am is someone who’s been with The Voice Bureau as it’s grown over the years. I’ve collaborated with Abby on countless projects and ideas — some of which you’ve seen and some of which might get pulled from that back shelf and dusted off in the future. I’m all in.

So where am I going with this?

There’s a good chance you’re never going to have to worry about literally changing the face of your business.

Even if you do decide at some point down the road to hand over the reins to a new owner, the transition process really falls on them, as far as determining the direction and the feel for what’s next. It’s part of, you know, transitioning.

But we do a lot of work with clients in the process of rebranding their businesses. Whether because they didn’t quite get it spot-on the first time or because they’re shifting their goals or their services, a rebrand is a big change. It’s the opportunity for a new start, a chance to realign with your Right Person. It’s also a leap of faith.

How do you make a major change in your business without losing what it is at its core? How do you maintain the momentum you’ve built and the connections you’ve made when your business is — literally or metaphorically — changing faces?

For me, as I find my way in this new role at The Voice Bureau, I’ve focused on what we have in common. Both Abby and I come from a copywriting background, so copywriting, brand voice, and content strategy are all a natural fit — basically, all the work we do. My approach may be a little bit different, but I love the Voice Values, and I know our end result is the same because Abby and I have collaborated on every single piece of copy that’s gone out our virtual door for the past four years.

Our temperaments are similar, as well. While I may be a little more in my head than in my heart, neither of us fit the larger-than-life “copy rockstar goddess” mold. We’ve always taken a more measured approach, and one that eschews some of the more aggressive sales tactics and supersized personalities. It’s a choice that feels more authentic to who we both are, and it’s a better environment for our Right Person, who really is what this is all about.

And that, at its core, is the important factor that drives The Voice Bureau (and, hopefully, any business): our Right Person.

While you may have a different appreciation for my approach than you did for Abby’s, the fact of the matter is that our Right Person hasn’t changed. The way we serve you hasn’t changed. It may look a tiny bit different, and I may sound a tiny bit different, but our mission is the same: to provide personalized brand voice and copywriting support for values-based businesses operating online. To take a quieter, more nuanced approach to effective sales copy. To help you speak your own truth, in your own voice, to your own Right Person — no imitation, no pretending. Just you.

And just me. Because, truly, if we’re telling our clients that the most important thing is to be honestly, unapologetically who they are, how could I run this business without doing the same, myself?

It’s an exercise you might complete as you work through your own rebranding.

What’s working for you? What isn’t working for you? What do you do that brings you joy? What is the core of your business that you want to carry over into this new iteration?

(And don’t be afraid to say that your Right Person is not that core — you may well be rebranding because your existing site speaks to the wrong person.)

Once you’ve discovered the threads that you want to carry over into the new version of your business, it will become so much more obvious which pieces just don’t fit. Once you’ve found the heart of your brand, you’ll see that everything else is just window dressing. And window dressing is easy to change.

So, sure, you may notice some changes around here in the coming months. Don’t be surprised if some of the mauve shifts to indigo. Understand that I blog — and e-letter and write courses — in my own voice. We’re using a new font in our emails. (I know, try not to freak out.) But, at our heart, The Voice Bureau is what it always has been. That’s not going to change, no matter what face — or sweater — we’re wearing.

 

In the comments, I’d love to hear:

Have you gone through a rebrand in your business? How did you decide what to change and what to carry over?

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Intimacy wo exposure - Blog

I’m really bad at awkward silences.

Don’t get me wrong, I love silence. In a house with two girls of pre-preschool age, it’s hard to come by. I cherish every single second of ear-ringingly empty quiet (at least until a cat knocks something over or the baby wakes up). But I’m talking about those lulls in conversation when it’s obvious that someone needs to speak up.

And oh, I speak up. For a textbook introvert, I do a whole lot of speaking up.

When faced with the prospect of an awkward silence, I have a habit of filling in the quiet with every little detail of my life. All those things I’d rather not share? The embarrassing stories? Deepest secrets? Private thoughts? Suddenly, I can’t hold them back.

Do you do this? It’s awful, isn’t it? I’m a relatively private person by nature, but one awkward silence and I’m — to  steal a phrase from every mafia movie ever — singing like a canary.

In a lot of ways, the internet is the ultimate awkward silence. Even if a blog post ends up with a hundred comments, a lively discussion, a viral social media presence, when you’re sitting down to write, it’s just you and your writing playlist/Netflix binge. It’s a perfect storm for oversharing.

To top it off, there’s a pretty good chance you want to get a little personal in your writing. In fact, Intimacy is one of the most common Voice Values for our clients. It’s one of the reasons we’ve left our day jobs, to create a career with a more human side, favoring connections over the stability of a regular paycheck. (Yes, even us introverts.) It’s why so many of us prefer to work one-on-one or in small groups. It’s why we’ve scaled our businesses to retain that personal connection. Intimacy and authenticity is what we’re all about.

So how do you foster intimacy with your readers without feeling quite so…naked?

Well, first of all, you need to be intentional.

You’re bound to share some things about yourself, no matter what. You want to share a bit, if you hope to connect with your readers and potential clients. Especially if your brand features you as a person, it’s almost impossible to avoid — at least without coming off as dry and distant. Even if you don’t have what would be considered a “personality brand,” giving your business a face helps your Right Person understand why they’re hiring you. It makes working with you about working with you, and features you, yourself, in particular, as an important part of the process. (Which you are.)

So what do you want to share with your readers? Think about your life. What areas will your Right Person naturally understand?

Do they share your love of hiking, or will they admire your encyclopedic knowledge of craft beer? Maybe they’re homebodies who would love to know that you knit, even if they prefer a good book for their cozy evenings by the fire. What do you do or love or know that gives them some insight into who you are as a person, outside of your work? You may have a hundred interests, but focusing on just a few key pieces helps create a more cohesive picture of who you are. Start there. You can always share more and build on this as you go.

Now, what’s off-limits?

It’s okay to keep some things to yourself. If you don’t want to share your children or your sexual preference or your health struggles with your readers, that’s okay. Hey, if you don’t want to share your knitting or hiking or beer drinking, that’s okay too. It’s also okay if these personal details become the cornerstone of your brand. It’s really up to you to decide what feels right to share and what belongs to you alone. But decide that before you write a single word, or there’s a very good chance you’re going to find yourself with the awkward silence of a blank page, and suddenly every childhood trauma is spilled out in front of you and all you wanted to do was share a recipe for quinoa salad.

Transparency is not the same as intimacy. There is no reason to feel you need to share everything in order to foster an authentic connection with your readers. It doesn’t make it any less authentic. It doesn’t make it any less intimate. It just means you’ve created healthy boundaries. And that’s a good thing!

No matter what you choose to share, though, be sure to keep it real. If you’re hiding your personality or pretending to be someone you’re not, you’ll be maintaining a persona that simply isn’t you, and that’s not sustainable in the long run. Before you know it, you’ll find that you’re avoiding your readers because you don’t want them to figure out that your public face and your private face don’t match up. You’ll be working with clients who are drawn to this false sense of you — and, more importantly, scaring off the very people who would line up around the block for what you really have to offer. When you choose to be just who you are, it’s easier to communicate, to connect. What you share doesn’t need to be a complete picture of who you are, but it does need to be you.

The other side of intimacy, of course, is listening.

If you’re just spilling what you’re all about, you’re not really fostering intimacy, you’re just creating a confessional. Help your readers feel seen. What do you know about them? Is there something they have in common? Something they’re going through?

Intimacy is about recognizing and highlighting the camaraderie you share with your readers and clients. It’s understanding them and building a relationship — a give-and-take that happens over time. It’s not about exposing your deepest secrets in one frantic ramble to fill the silence. When you’re intentional about what parts of yourself you want to make public, and when you take the time to listen and learn about your readers, you create a genuine rapport.

Keep it authentic. Keep it reciprocal. And, if it’s private, keep it to yourself.

In the comments, I’d love to hear:

How do you cultivate intimacy with your readers? Do you have a tendency to overshare, or to undershare?

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Tale of 2 RPs - Blog

They were the best of clients, they were the worst of clients.

If you’ve been in business long enough — or if you’ve done a good bit of soul-searching and research and strategizing — there’s a pretty good chance you have an idea of what type of client you enjoy working with the most (or maybe you’ve found them by learning what type of client you enjoy working with the least).

These are the clients who trust your process, who get excited whenever you have a new offer, who speak your language. Your tribe, if you’ve got that Community drive going for you. Your friends, if you’re more Intimacy.

We call that client your Right Person, and the more you know about her (or him or them), the better you’re able to serve her.

But what if you find that you have two Right People…and they’re not exactly identical twins?

Don’t freak out. Believe it or not, this is completely normal.

If you’re building your business for longevity, there’s a pretty good chance you’ve started to diversify a bit. Maybe instead of just selling hand-poured beeswax candles, you’re now offering candle-making lessons. Rather than doing all of your yoga classes in a group setting, you’re now offering one-on-ones. Instead of just copywriting, you’ve added consulting and courses. Ahem.

The point is, diversity is good — different types of offerings cast a wider net, appealing to different people in different situations. It brings you more outlets to share your knowledge, more streams of income, more opportunities to connect.

But there’s a very good chance that the type of person interested in one of your offerings is not the same as the type of person interested in another.

Let’s look at an example.

Let’s say there’s a productivity coach. Why don’t we call her Eva.

Eva has been in business for a while, supporting mainly solopreneurs in a one-on-one coaching setting, with an average of three sessions each. Her Voice Values are Intimacy, Helpfulness, Depth, and Clarity.

Now, Eva is looking to bring on some more clients. She’s planning to start up a group program: six months of intensive support, culminating in a live, four-day retreat. The problem is, her regular clients aren’t biting. So what gives?

Well, let’s examine Eva’s original set of clients. She’s been doing this a while, so she’s able to say that these clients are mainly women who are self-employed, age 27-45, mostly in the fairly early stages of their business. Many of them are married with children, and they need some help organizing their schedule to fit everything in without too much stress or lack of sleep. Their three sessions tend to go: introduction and overview, suggested routine, follow-up and adjustments. Some of the clients come back after a year (or maybe once every year) for a fine-tuning, but for the most part, once they’re done, they’re done. Her clients do love reading her blog for additional tips, though, and they make up a pretty active community in the comments and on social media.

So, if these clients are so active in her community, why aren’t they signing up for the new program?

The key is in figuring out what’s different about this program. Rather than three one-on-one sessions, they’re looking at six months in a group. So, for one, this is someone who needs more ongoing — and possibly more complicated — support than Eva’s usual clients. Maybe they’ve been in business longer and have more pieces to juggle. Maybe they’ve got a team to think about, either in-person or virtual. They’re interested in working with a group, rather than one-on-one, so there’s a good chance they see the benefit in networking. They may even be more extroverted than Eva’s regular clients. It’s going to be a larger commitment, but in time and financially (especially given the in-person retreat), so they’re probably making more money, and there’s a good chance they skew a bit older. They may or may not have children.

So what’s a productivity coach to do? Well, create a couple of Right Person Profiles, to start. This is an exercise we like to do (and, yes, something we can help you do for yourself), in which you create an imaginary story about your ideal client. Give her a name. A job. A house. How old is she? Where does she live? Is she married? Kids? Where did she go to school? What’s her favorite thing to eat for dinner? The more detail, the better. Find some stock pictures and imagine what she looks like.

Now, take a look at your own Voice Values. What is she drawn to because she sees herself, and what appeals to her because she needs more of it in her life?

For Eva, her one-on-one clients probably relate to her high Intimacy value, because they prefer to work closely, alone with her. They appreciate the Helpfulness and Clarity she brings to their lives (and their schedules). But her group clients — even though they meet in a larger setting — are probably drawn to her high Depth value, because they’re looking for more ongoing support, a deeper, more lasting connection. So when Eva is talking to each group, she’ll want to tailor the texture of her language — keeping it true to her Voice Values, but speaking directly to the client she wants to work with.

With a clearer picture of her new Right Person, Eva can create a sales funnel that speaks directly to her, addressing her needs, speaking her language, and showing her exactly how this new group program will help support her. She might even restructure her webpage so that each Right Person can more easily find the section that supports her. (Using modules on the Home Page is a good way to do that, or at least clearly defined menu options.) She can even apply this understanding to her blog posts, speaking directly to the Right Person most likely to be interested in each subject.

The more you know your Right Person — or Persons — the better you can tailor their experience to suit them, and the more seen they will feel.

Now just wait until Eva launches a DIY option…

In the comments, I’d love to hear:

How many Right People does your business have? How do you treat them differently (or do you)?

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