This month I was contacted by a lovely lady who needed some help turning her idea into a business. She asked if I could help her with her web copy and give her a sense of what her website could look like, although she'd create the site herself - my copy & canvas package.
We had a call. She outlined what it was she did for clients and gave me an idea of what she thought her site should look like. She's an online business manager. She handles all the technical, process-driven, project management back end stuff for successful online entrepreneurs who are helping people transform their lives. Carolyn felt that her website and words should demonstrate what she did by being no-nonsense, process focused, using images like puzzle pieces or cogs, to reflect how she pulls all the different parts of a business together.
I suggested she flip her thinking.
Instead of having a website that reflected what she did, why not create a site that would demonstrate how working with her would make her clients feel?
Her clients - typically women who tend to have very feminine brands - are overworked, stressed, having sleepless nights. Carolyn takes all that stress away from them. Working with her lets her clients relax, rediscover their love for their business and actually get a full night's sleep. Interestingly, although Carolyn didn't want swirly, girly fonts, she did say that her favourite colour was purple and that if her website had a smell, it would be lavender.
I started with her ideal clients. I thought about the type of websites they had, the imagery they used, the vibe they gave off. I knew that they would be more drawn to something similar in style. These are not process people, so a website using techy type imagery and words would turn them off, not on. I put myself in their shoes. How would I feel? What would calm me if I was stressed out and at breaking point with my business?
The solution was immediately obvious. Lavender. Known for it's relaxation and sleep inducing properties, it is also feminine and likely to appeal to her ideal clients. I used that as the central theme running throughout the site. I sourced free images, wrote the copy and gave a very clear brief as to how the site should be structured.
I asked my designer Meg to create a brand palette to reflect the site that Carolyn could work from. Then we sent her the words, website outline, suggested imagery, a Pinterest board with links to the free images and the style guide.
Within 48 hours of the initial call, Carolyn had her site up and live. She has a business she can now take to market that will appeal to her ideal clients. This is what Carolyn said about the process:
“I contacted Melissa about creating the copy for my website, little did I know that my experience with her would not only completely change my mindset about what my website “should” be like but she was able to also clearly articulate my unique service offering. With one conversation, she created copy and set the tone for my brand in a way that represented me a way that I never could have gotten to by myself.
When she delivered her first draft, I literally sat in my car with tears of joy – she was able to articulate my value in a way that I’ve never been able to do in as succinct a manner. Looking forward to doing more business with her in the future.”
If you are writing copy or creating a new website for your business, follow these tips:
If you'd like the words and design to revamp your business, take a look at the Copy & Canvas options.
I was featured in an article in the Guardian today about whether having a room of your own to work from is essential or a luxury when you work from home.
Until about 3 months ago, I worked in the 'study'. The study was also the laundry room, the general dumping ground for anything that didn't have a home, school sports bags, oversized dishes that didn't fit in the kitchen cupboard, a strange assortment of garden pesticides and boxes filled with string and screwdrivers. In short, it was a mess. And a messy room is not conducive to clear thinking.
It was also situated just off the kitchen and right next to the washing machine. This meant that every time I stood up to go to the loo or answer a knock on the door, I'd walk past a pile of laundry that had to be done or dishes that had to be put away. I was also perilously close to the fridge.....
As it was right next to where the rest of the family spent most of their time, I often ended up being on my computer instead of focusing on them. It was too easy to convince myself that I was 'with' my kids while still working, instead of really being with them. It meant there was no off button at the end of the day. The computer was simply to close to ignore.
But the final straw really was when I tried to make Youtube videos or chat to clients on skype. The room in no way reflected my brand. There I was trying to create a lovely campfire feel and behind me you could see laundry draped everywhere. Something had to change.
We had a guest bedroom on the top floor of the house, which was barely ever used. I decided that my daily need for a productive office was more important than a barely used guest room. I cleared out the furniture and plastered wood panelling wallpaper on the wall to create a log cabin feel. I bought a rustic desk and chair, a sofa bed (should we have guests) and lots of campfire themed accessories.
Here's how it has paid off:
So if you work from home and are able to carve out a space to call your office, do it.
Where do you work? Tell me in the comments below or head over to the Campfire Club on Facebook and let me know. Feel free to share pictures of your space too.
I work with startups, many of whom are people who are leaving a job or have left a job they hate so that they can pursue their passion. But many are faced with a quandary - they don't know what their passion is.
Facebook and Instagram bombard us with messages telling us to 'follow your dream' or 'pursue your passion'. But what if you don't really know what that is? What if you don't have a dream? What if everything is sort of ok, not bad, alright, pays the bills but hardly setting my pants on fire?
I speak from experience here. I've been one of those souls on an eternal quest to find 'my thing'. I'm getting closer. So I thought I'd share some of my learnings which may help you:
Notice what makes you feel happy
The other day I asked my kids: 'Which school lessons make you feel lighter and happier, in a good mood or upbeat?' Note that I didn't ask them what their favourite lesson was, I just asked them which lessons made them feel happy. And they both instantly answered the question with quite surprising answers. That's because there was no expectation for them to say what they thought I wanted to hear.
Many of us go through life on autopilot, without noticing what we're feeling. Start to notice. It doesn't have to be at work. It can be anywhere doing anything. When do you feel up, buzzy, lighter, optimistic or just can't stop grinning? That will be a major clue as to where your interests lie.
Don't expect a lightning bolt
I think many of us think that we'll know what our passion is because it will suddenly hit us in a giant 'Ta da!' moment. What's more, we expect it to be an all consuming, burning, yearning, intense desire. I reckon that people who have that kind of passion have it for life. If you're a lost soul, you need to look for more subtle signs. Passion doesn't have to be all consuming. It can simply be what makes you happy. I refer you to point one.
Your passion changes
Very few people - mad scientists and music composers aside - are born with a passion that lasts forever. You change over time, so you can expect your passions to change too. Don't try to shoehorn an old passion onto a new you. Listen to what your gut is telling you now.
Go with your gut
Speaking of guts, your gut instinct is almost always right. If you read something, try something or investigate something, what is your first gut reaction to it? Do you feel motivated or dragged down and heavy? This is another major clue.
Stop hearing other people's voices
Many of us shut down our ability to hear our own true desires because we're too busy listening to the voices of others. Things your parents may have once said to you as a kid; the expectations to have a high-flying career even if it makes us unhappy because that's what one does; the fear of doing something off piste because others may view us as irresponsible.
Just turn off the voices and the perceived external pressures and ask: what would I do if I had no responsibilities? What do I really want? You will probably immediately hear a voice in your head telling you that it wouldn't work or it wouldn't make money or it's a hobby, not a career. Just gag that voice for a while and suspend all reality. What WOULD you do if you could?
It's often blindingly obvious
So often the things we love are right in front of us, we just don't see them. They are the things we choose to do on a regular basis, they're the things we talk about with friends, or the things that people say 'you're so good at that...' But we choose not to see them because we can't get our heads around how that thing could make us money. Stop jumping the gun. You don't need to have all the answers yet, you just need to know what it is you love. And frankly, you're probably doing it already in some part of your life. It's right there in front of you. You just need to recognise it.
If you have found your passion, the next step is to start thinking how that could become a business. Don't give up on it just because it seems impossible. Take your time, think it through. Try it out. Test it. Evolve it. And when you feel that you are onto something, get in touch. I will work with you to get clarity on how to turn this thing into a business that works for you.
I leave you with this thought: you only have one life. Is it really worth just plodding through it? Find something that makes you happy and do it. The word DO is really important in that sentence. A dream will remain a dream until you start to do.
Got tips about how you found your passion? Share them below or over on Facebook.
I know how hard it can be to work for yourself. The rollercoaster, the self-doubt, the insane highs and lows, the glut of work, the lack of work. I have spent over 10 years working for myself, on my own. Trust me when I say that I am an expert in mental flagellation.
I don't know what it was exactly that triggered a shift in my thinking - perhaps it wasn't just one thing, possibly lots of yoga - but recently things have shifted. I feel more in control, as though I've ironed out the kinks in the rollercoaster. I still catch the creeping self-doubt and worry, but I now feel like a finely tuned ninja and I punch those thoughts away.
So what am I doing to have caused this shift?
1. Start EVERY day with gratitude
I know. Don't roll your eyes. This is said so often it is possibly bile inducing. But I decided that every single morning as I lay in bed, just before I open my eyes, I will list all the things I am grateful for. It was an Oprah Youtube clip I saw that got me onto this. She said: 'If you can't think of anything else to be grateful for, just start with your breath.'
The fact that you can breathe and you're not dead is always a good thing. Then work outwards from there. You have a warm duvet, a roof over your head, legs you are able to swing over the side of a bed, a full and busy day ahead, even the challenges you may have to face that day can be reframed as something to be grateful for - an opportunity to embrace.
This has genuinely shifted my thinking into a positive mindset instead of waking up full of worry or anxiety. And by doing it EVERY day, I am forcing it to become a habit. The more you practice something, the easier it gets. So try it.
2. Decide how you want to feel this year
This came from Danielle LaPorte's Desire Map: A Guide to Creating Goals with Soul. The premise of the book is to base your goals on how you want to feel (well that's my interpretation of it). And strangely I'd never done that before. I had always set goals based on what I thought I ought to do or what others may expect from me or what I expected of myself. But I'd never asked: 'How do you want to feel?' Once I figured that out (happy, free, successful, confident, balanced) it suddenly became far clearer the type of things I needed to focus on to feel that way. It meant setting goals or making plans were written with my desires and feelings first. And that's a marvellous thing.
3. I believed I could, so I did
This quote is regularly shared on the Female Entrepreneur Association Facebook group, which incidentally is the best investment hands down that I have made since working for myself. Besides providing an insane amount of practical value, FEA has an incredibly supportive group of women all trying to make their mark on the world. Last year I felt slightly overwhelmed and intimidated by what they were all achieving. I used to beat myself up and say: 'How come you're not there yet?' Even though I know that comparison is the single biggest crusher of small business spirit, I couldn't help myself.
But because I am boosted by feelings of gratitude and I've decided how I want to feel - one of which is feeling successful - I have mentally decided to believe it. I mean really believe it. I visualise how I will feel when I look back over the year and can say: Yes, I felt happy, free, successful, confident and balanced.
And because I believe it, it is already happening. Work is flooding in. I am choosing the work I want to do. I've felt more successful in the last week than I have over almost ten years! I feel happier, freer and more confident.
4. Love yourself
Women in particularly seem to spend an inordinate amount of time hating themselves. We're too fat. We're not good mothers. Our house isn't tidy enough. We drink too much wine. We're not successful enough. We aren't at the top of our profession or earn enough. Whatever. The list is endless. The shit we spout to ourselves EVERY. SINGLE. DAY would crush anyone. So I decided to stop. Sure I still fall into the trap (old habits die hard) but now when I hear my inner critic telling me I'm not good enough, I block it. I literally - sometimes out loud like a crazy lady - say: 'SHUT UP! I'm great just the way I am. Thank you very much.'
So there you have it. Four simple steps which you can try too. I know that I am still sitting on that rollercoaster. But somehow I feel more able to handle whatever twists, turns, highs and lows it will throw at me. And I just know that the year ahead is going to be incredible.
Challenge on: Tell me in the comments below or over on my Facebook page how you want to feel this year. And then have a think about how you can make that happen.