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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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You can have fun with your blog - BlogHere’s the thing: we like to make business hard.

Harder than it probably needs to be. There are plenty of things about running a company of any size that are hard enough as it is. Taxes come to mind. Also, deciding whether and how to scale. And maybe deciding on your brand’s color palette, if you are a person who loves ALL THE COLOR.

The creatively entrepreneurial mind likes to complicate that which doesn’t necessarily need to be complicated. Partly, that’s because you’re gifted: you recognize the beauty of complexity, you appreciate nuance, you want to hold hands with context always and forever. These are traits that make you a natural born business owner, especially one that’s The Voice Bureau’s type of Right Person.

One thing that, perhaps surprisingly, should NOT be hard is figuring out what to write on your blog.

And how it connects to the big picture of what you do, why you do it, and who you’re doing it for. Yes, seriously.

Your blog should be like the (not so) secret diary of your business’s brain, heart, and spirit. It should tell your Right Person exactly what they want to know (but maybe didn’t know they wanted to know) about the very thing you do, believe, offer, value, create, sell. It should answer questions they didn’t even know they had, but really, the answers to these question are everything for them.

This may all sound intimidating, but the truth is, everything I just said in the paragraph above is already encoded into the DNA of your business. And you, my friend, made that DNA. You know it. You are it.

When you trust your business’s DNA — when you trust yourself — then blogging becomes fun (again. or maybe for the first time ever.).

If you follow what’s in your business’s DNA, blogging stops being hard. And it becomes more effective, because you’re catering to your actual Right Person, not some idealized version of who you think that is or who you want it to be.

We all enjoy conversations about our favorite themes and topics. You know that friend you just can’t wait to get together with because you get to indulge in your favorite discussions, AND you feel seen, met, heard, witnessed, and responded to? That’s how blogging can (and should!) feel, and that’s also how your Right Person feels when he or she reads your best and most DNA-aligned stuff: seen, met, heard, witnessed, and responded to.

Good blogging from a connected and aligned place is a form of delight. And delight is FUN.

Good blogging — FUN blogging — can and should be planful and purposeful, too. It’s all part of the same motion. When you own that your business’ DNA is exactly what your Right Person connects with, and when you stop fighting it and allow yourself to develop a plan that caters to who YOU really are, blogging is going to be easier, more fun, and more effective.

Our latest course, Run Your Business Like a Magazine, is designed to help you put a content strategy in place that honors your business DNA and makes blogging fun — for you, and for your readers. Enrollment is open through February 5, 2017. We’d love to have you with us in this 4-week, step-by-step, build-your-content-strategy-and-let’s-get-to-the-fun-already experience.

In the comments, I’d love to hear:

Is blogging fun yet? If not, what seems to be standing in your way?

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Copywriter Heal Thyself - Blog

When I’m talking to new business owners, one of my first pieces of advice is simply, “Get yourself out there.”

If you’re not tweeting or posting to Facebook or blogging or talking up your products and services on a milk crate out on the corner, no one is going to have a clue what you’re doing. And I don’t care if you’re the best darned financial-planner-who-maps-investment-strategies-using-astrological-charts on the market, if your Right Person hasn’t heard of you, your Right Person isn’t hiring you.

Almost five years ago, when I started working for myself (and, soon after, with Abby here at The Voice Bureau), I had great intentions. I would work 12 hours a day! I would have a gorgeous website, packed with interesting material! I would have signature offerings! I would blog every week! My social media presence would be consistent and clever and engaging!

I started off okay. Pretty soon, though, life happened.

 

A few months after I began working for myself, while I was still getting things off the ground, I accepted a temporary contract position at the Home Shopping Network as a digital content producer. And about three weeks after I started at HSN, I got pregnant. Suddenly, I found myself working a full-time job, writing and editing for a growing client base, and so freaking tired I could barely keep my eyes open for my twice-hourly trips to the bathroom. Fortunately, I managed to sidestep the morning sickness I’d heard so many horror stories about — though I did develop a sudden and powerful aversion to bananas for a few months — but even without puking my guts up, pregnancy wasn’t exactly the minor adjustment I’d hoped it would be.

When faced with an overwhelmingly large to-do list and rapidly decreasing energy reserves, I did what seemed the most rational: I evaluated my list and cut out anything that seemed unnecessary. Cooking? Eh, my husband is an excellent cook, and he didn’t retch at the smell of browning meat. Housework? That’s an easy one; I wasn’t supposed to touch most cleaning products anyway. Promoting my business? While I was certainly open for business, adding more clients to my shrinking schedule wasn’t exactly top priority.

Fast forward to today. I now have two amazing little girls who keep me up all night. I’m at the helm of The Voice Bureau. I’m still tired, but it’s just sort of who I am now. Check back in 18 years.

This is the part where I promise to blog more, where I take my own advice, get back on that horse, and tell the world via a weekly missive just how much I love good SEO, what tired buzzwords you should cut from your vocabulary, what one simple marketing tip will cut inches from your waistline and add inches to your wallet.

Copywriter, heal thyself. Or don’t.

Because you know what? While I may intend to share my thoughts more regularly, I don’t want to feel guilty when a surprisingly engrossing client project or a crying baby keeps me away from blogging. Sometimes, I just want to do the work.

So what’s a writer to do? Well, I’ll tell you.

Sometimes — just sometimes — you skip the blog post. You find other ways to connect, and you make it work, and you try again next week.

Maybe you focus on networking for a little.

Okay, I am the introvertiest introvert who ever introverted. The idea of attending one of those schmooze-and-drink mixers literally makes me want to close up shop and get a day job that involves never seeing a human during business hours again. Rare jungle animal researcher. Desert island cartographer.  Professional hermit. But that doesn’t mean that I don’t value human connection.

I really love our clients. They (you) are awesome. And they know people who are awesome, too. That’s why referrals are literally the best.

Try reaching out to your previous clients from time to time (or, better yet, stay in touch). You never know which amazing client has an amazing friend who needs you.

And don’t underestimate the power of testimonials. It’s like having a wingwoman on hand at all times. “Oh, The Voice Bureau? They’re great. You should go out sometime.” (I’ll be taking my own advice on this with a new page soon, I swear.)

Or maybe it’s time to try a different medium.

So maybe I’m feeling burned out on the blog format.

Okay, what about speaking engagements? I played Flight of the Bumblebee backed by a combined group of every band in my high school. I laugh at stage fright. Bring it. Podcasts? Why not? Video series? An excuse to brush my hair on a weekday? Look how fancy I am!

Think outside the blog. There are other ways to get your message out there.  Like social media.

(Before you get too excited, you probably shouldn’t ditch your blog for Pinterest.)

 

But when you’re just not feeling up to writing out that long blog post, maybe a few pins, a handful of tweets, a catchy Instagram meme, and a mini Facebook rant would be more your speed.  Nurture those audiences, and when the day comes that you cannot blog another blog, they’ll be happy connect with you where you are.

A note to remember: social media is great for growing your audience and connecting in bite-sized pieces, but it brings the added challenge of inviting readers back to your place afterwards, and it doesn’t help establish your website’s search rankings. Podcasts and videos can help, assuming your Right Person likes those (and you’re hosting them on your own site), but if they’re looking for a good read on their lunch break, they may not be interested in something they have to listen to.

However you decide to get around it, though, you can’t ignore your blog forever.

Maybe you take a week off and try something new. Maybe it’s easier the following week. Or maybe one day you look up and realize you haven’t blogged in six months, and Instagram isn’t doing crap for your SEO.

If you don’t feel like you can get back on track on your own, you might want to get some help.

So where are you feeling stuck? Are you not blogging because you’re too busy with admin work? Maybe it’s time to hire a VA.

Having a hard time organizing your thoughts? A copywriter can help with that. (No, it’s not cheating. Yes, getting help with one or two posts might be all you need to get the process down. Yes, we do offer this.)

Not enough hours in the day? Maybe you need a housekeeper or a nanny or a dog walker or a grocery delivery service. Sometimes, you’re stuck because all you’ve done since your last blog post is work. Get someone else to pick up the slack and go get yourself some ice cream or go for a bike ride or play a video game. A change of scenery might just be the spark you need to figure out what you want to say.

Of course, this is a good time to mention that a solid content strategy — one that takes into account who you are and how you like to work — will make blogging a whole lot easier.

If you are super clear on what you’re saying and to whom you’re saying it, that blank Word doc is a lot less overwhelming. Your editorial calendar should have built-in failsafes so you’re not stuck blogging when you’re not feeling it. You should even be able to batch-write some posts so you’ve always got one ready to go.

That’s what Run Your Business Like a Magazine is good for. It’s happening soon, and I’ve cut the price pretty dramatically (just this once) because I really want you to check it out. Because great content attracts great clients. And great clients make all of this craziness worthwhile (sleepless nights and everything).

 

In the comments, I’d love to hear:

What do you do when you’re feeling stuck on a blog post? Do you just skip it and hope for the best the following week (or month)? Do you find some other way to connect?

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Why Your Blog Isnt Making You Money - blog

So you sit down at your laptop, latte in hand, brilliant idea burning in your brain.

You’ve got your focusing candle, you’ve done your breathing exercises, you’re wearing your lucky underpants. You know just what to do.

Step One: Write a great blog post.

Step Two: Hit “Publish.”

Step Three: Profit.

 

That’s what’s supposed to happen, right?

I mean, if blog posts didn’t bring in sales, why would we write them? It’s an awful lot of time (and, let’s face it, sometimes quite a bit of angst) to write something just for the sake of writing. If I was spending a couple hours every week writing for fun, I might actually finish that novel I started back in 2011. (Don’t judge, I’ll get there.)

So why is it that you can blog and blog and blog your little heart out and not see an uptick in people buying what you have to sell? Well, there are a few things you might want to consider.

 

1st: Who are you writing for?

You might get hundreds of views every time you write a new post, dozens of insightful comments, a bevvy of newsletter sign-ups. But your sales page? Crickets.

This can be a tough one to reconcile, because it seems like you’re doing everything right. But your Right Person reader and your Right Person client…may not be the same person.

At The Voice Bureau, we have three main ways of working with our clients: through done-for-you copywriting, deep brand voice consulting, and info-packed courses that cater to the DIY set. This opens us up to a few different types of clients, and we can meet them where they are.

But what if we didn’t offer those DIY courses?

If we were blogging about tips for writing great copy, we could get hundreds — thousands — of views…but then what? If you want to learn about how to write great copy, there’s a pretty good chance you’re not looking to hire someone to write it for you. Our blog would be a great resource, and we could see fantastic traffic, but if we’re not selling something to the DIYers, writing for them doesn’t translate into sales. Obviously.

The Fix:

This is really an opportunity in disguise. You’ve got tons of DIY readers but no products for them? Make them some products. Not your jam? Then start writing for the people who do buy from you.

 

2nd: What are you writing?

This is sort of an extension of the first question, but it goes a bit further. Are you writing something that interests you, rather than something that relates to your business? You may have the best damned chocolate chip recipe on the planet, but if you’re a tarot reader, your blog isn’t reaching the people it needs to reach, and it’s not buying you credibility in your field.

That’s not to say the occasional post-because-you-love-it is a bad thing — giving a little hint of who you are is a great way to develop a human connection with your readers, both for the purposes of sales and, less cynically, in order to build a community. But if every post is off-topic when it comes to your business, you might as well be working on that novel.

The Fix:

Not to harp on the editorial calendar…but get one. At the very least, make a record of your posts and try to flag every time you’re writing something that’s not related to what you do with your business. Every post doesn’t have to explicitly tie in to a product that’s for sale, but most of them should be supporting the idea that you, as a brand, know what you’re talking about in your field. Otherwise, get yourself a lifestyle blog and tell us all about those cookies. (My secret is a sprinkle of smoked sea salt on top after they’re done baking. You?)

 

3rd: Where are you writing?

Of course, there’s another thing to consider: What if your Right Person client doesn’t read blogs? You could be saying all the right things, but the people listening aren’t who you need to talk to. In that case, you need to figure out where they are. Does she listen to podcasts on her way into work? Is he addicted to Facebook? Is she a Pinner?

Or does she love blog posts, but hasn’t found you yet?

The Fix:

If your Right Person isn’t making it to you, you need to go to them. Try a variety of approaches: Pinterest, Instagram, Facebook, podcasts, in-person networking events, speaking, guest posting or cross-posting with sites that have a broader reach. Either you’ll find your audience (and a new medium) or they’ll find you.

 

4th: Have you given it enough time?

This is tough, because it’s hard to find the line between waiting it out and spinning your wheels, especially early on. And even if you’ve been at the grind for years, there’s a good chance you’re not going to see a spike in sales every time you publish a new blog post.

So how long do you wait to see results?

The Fix:

Put on your scientist hat. There are lots of things to try (see #1-3, above), and all sorts of possible variations. But the more you try, the more you’ll know about your Right Person client, and the more directly you can speak to her. There is no “magic number” for how many posts you need to put out there before you start getting traction, but if you’ve been at it for months without a single inquiry, maybe it’s time to mix it up a bit and try something new. 

 

We’ll be opening sales soon for the upcoming cohort of Run Your Business Like a Magazine: our four-week online course where we’ll dive deeper into discovering your Right Person, where to find her, and how to create an editorial calendar that speaks directly to her (and encourages her to buy from you). If you’re interested in exploring how you can turn your content plan into sales, make sure you’re on our mailing list to be notified when registration opens. To celebrate the start of a new year and my new role at the helm of The Voice Bureau, we’ll be offering a special discounted rate for this round — you don’t want to miss out!

 

In the comments, I’d love to hear:

Do you see a direct tie between your blog posts and your sales? If not, where do you think you’re getting stuck?

 

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