// strategy for creatives who mean business

Overwhelmed Blogger? Five Ways to Get Back to Effortless & Inspired Writing

Let me tell you a crazy fact about me: I started blogging when I was a teenager in 1998, and have written regularly on this blog since 2008. Even if you’re a new blogger, you probably already know the highs of inspiration and the lows of feeling like no matter how hard you work there’s always more that you should be doing. Today I’m going to share how I stay motivated after seven years blogging at KylaRoma.com, and seventeen years (!!) after I started my first blog.

 

Blogs come and go all the time. But mine isn’t still here because I’m special, or because I’ve always felt clear and driven.

 

I don’t have writing superpowers. My last English class was in high school. While I really enjoy writing, and I love connecting with readers, I’ve been through ups and downs in how I feel about blogging many times. Just like anyone who writes regularly, there are times when I love it – like right now – and there are times when I’ve really struggled with how I want to write, the kind of blog I want to share, and with what corners of my life I feel comfortable sharing.

 

One of the things I love most about talking with bloggers is that chances are that wherever you are in your blogging journey? I’ve probably experienced a corner of what you’re going through.

 

Here’s what I mean: I’ve blogged as a hobby, monetized my blog as a side hustle, used third party ads, sold my own ads, sold digital products, physical products, and made the work through my blog into my full time job. I’ve pitched media, managed lulls in sales, been booked out 8 months in advance, written and re-written my bio, and spoken at conferences. It’s so easy to relate, swap stories and advice when there is so much common ground.

I’ve even had someone knock on my front door and introduce themselves to my husband by saying, “Hi, my name is Sarah- I’m here from the Internet.”

(His completely unsurprised response: “Well it was bound to happen someday! Come on in.”)

Overwhelmed? Get back to inspired blogging plus free community by Kyla Roma

This isn’t to say that I’m perfect at any of this, but ultimately blogging is a huge part of my life. It’s how I’ve met most of the best people I know, it’s given me the amazing opportunity to work with people all over the world as a designer and coach for business owners and bloggers, it means I know people in almost every city I travel to, and it’s how I was able to start working for myself full time in my twenties! I love it.

And at the same time, no matter where you are in your blogging journey, it can be overwhelming.

No matter how high your stats are, or how big your dreams, sometimes we all feel like it would be a great vacation if there was only pressure to post. Instead, there’s a lot of talk about creating different content for all of our platforms, and the need to have a defined strategy for every aspect of your online presence. It can feel like there’s always something to improve, and another way to avoid certain doom by doing one thing wrong.

Here’s something else I know:

 

You won’t build your dream blog inside a pressure cooker of rules and expectations.

 

So let’s shake that off and find a better way to stick with it. And by a better way, I mean a way that feels better. Because even if you love blogging and are destined to take over the internet with your big ideas? You’re going to have lulls. So let’s arm you with some secret weapons…

These are a few of the ways that I’ve stopped being an overwhelmed blogger and stuck with it for the long haul:

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Remember what you love about blogging, then make that more of your experience.

There are lots of little things that bloggers do each week. What is your favourite? Do you love community building? Writing? Finding new bloggers and encouraging them? Build habits that emphasize these things in your daily and weekly experience, and that will change  how your blogging experience feels.

Similarly, if you’re going through a season where writing is difficult, challenge yourself to a getting a ton done in a short amount of time, and then taking a break! Could you write 5 post drafts in one day? In two days? What would that make the rest of your month feel like? Shake up your habits, challenge yourself, and see what happens.

 

Give yourself permission to start now and make adjustments later.

The most important thing is to start. If you aren’t feeling confident, remember that what you can bring to blogging (and anything you do) today is more than you’ve ever been able to before, and you’re only going to improve from here as you practice.


Three Steps To Turn Your Sales Page Into A Hell Yes For Your Clients

When you’ve finally decided to share your talent  with the world and make what you do – from ads on your blog, to freelance work or selling a product – it can be really frustrating when the response is slow. It can feel a little like the only people visiting your site are you, while the internet equivalent of tumbleweeds, roll in the distance.

Why does this happen? What does it mean? And what should you do??

It’s tempting to start over and create all new packages or jump straight to the worst case scenario, but in most cases with a few adjustments you can turn what you do into a moneymaker. It’s just hard to see when you’re so close to your work.

Turn what you sell online into a hell yes for your clients!

The key is to make it easy for your ideal clients to have an ah-ha moment when they find you. You want to make sure that it’s easy for someone you’re able to help can recognize that- and unfortunately we sometimes make that hard for our people without realizing we’re doing to.

It’s hard for freelancers and makers to create an-ha moments for our clients, because we think in terms of what our solutions look like and how they’re delivered, instead of how it feels have that problem or to finally have a working solution!

Imagine if you were trying to pick a restaurant for dinner but all the restaurant websites focused on their  supply chain efficiency, variety of seating arrangements available and germ killing power of their dishwasher detergent.


Is Your Blog Ready To Go Viral?

As a blogger or a creative business owner, we always hope that our content is by more people. No matter how many readers we have, more would always be nice.

It’s easy to imagine that having a post go viral would feel like winning the lottery!

But most bloggers spent so much time writing, developing and sharing content that we stop there. And that means they miss a crucial step that makes it harder to succeed online – even if their next post goes viral and they suddenly have stadiums full of raving fans who adore your work.

Is Your Blog Ready To Go Viral? Catch and hold reader attention to help your readers and make a living by Kyla Roma

You don’t have to be a new blogger or business owner to make this mistake – in fact, I see it more from my clients who read lifestyle blogs for a long time before they started dreaming about being a solopreneur.

So what’s the mistake? It’s not asking yourself “What do I want readers to do when they come to my site, and how is that connected to how I make a living?”

If you had to answer that question right this moment, I think I know what you would say.

Did you answer: Leave a comment?

That was my answer too, for years.

The problem with that answer is that if you offer a product or a service and had to explain how blog comments help you make a living, you might struggle. In most cases, they’re our stock answer, but they don’t really help us keep doing what we do.

Now, if you’re thinking “Kyla, you can’t get me to stop wanting blog comments. You probably can’t pay me to stop wanting blog comments!” don’t worry. I like blog comments too! They make us feel like the world is a little friendlier to us and our ideas. There’s nothing wrong with that.

Are you a blogger who means business? That means you’re not in the business of blog comments. Who’s with me? (Tweet it!)

The problem isn’t that we like having blog comments – it’s that they’re an incomplete and dangerous way for bloggers to measure their success.

Why is it dangerous to tie blog success to your comments?

Blog comments don’t tell you how long you hold the attention of your readers.
Blog comments don’t show which of your posts was the read most in the last month.
Blog comments don’t give you insight into what makes your readers take action.
Blog comments don’t share which websites are sending traffic your way.
Blog comments don’t pay your bills and they don’t delight or make change in your reader’s lives.

Blog comments are great – but they’re only one part of a bigger picture of how engaged your audience is, and of your success.

And if blog comments aren’t connected to how you earn income through your blog, then using them to make decisions about your blog makes as much sense as asking your doctor if your arm is broken, and insisting that she examines your second cousin to find out.

When new readers visit your website they’re immediately trying to decide if you’re for them. Most will look around, click away and continue on their day. They’re whole people. They might also be busy, tired, researching a project, or in the middle of fifteen other things.

When your ideal reader discovers you, it doesn’t make sense to just hope they remember you. Instead, have a system that gives you a chance to earn their trust.

Let’s go back to imagining that the last post you wrote went viral. (Imaginary congratulations to you!)

This is how that plays out for bloggers who don’t have a defined way to capture attention and direct it toward their goals:

  • Hundreds of thousands of new readers visit your blog! Woo hoo!
  • Your visitors skim your homepage and try to understand who you are
  • They scroll through your most recent blog posts
  • About 10% – 30% of those people click on something they see, and many of those links take them to outside sites packed with distractions, like social media sites.
  • You may get some emails from new readers, and you’ll definitely get emails from confused and excited friends and family members who aren’t on the internet as much as you, asking if this is a big deal. (Yes! It’s a big deal!)
  • Hopefully a few readers remember your site on their own or add it to their bookmark list, if they have one.

In other words, once it’s over it’s almost like it never happened.

But if you remove distractions, and emphasize how readers can sign up for your email list to learn more about you, that might look like this:

  • Hundreds of thousands of new readers visit your blog! Woo hoo!
  • Your visitors skim your homepage and try to understand who you are
  • They scroll through your most recent blog posts.
  • You may get some emails from new readers, and you’ll definitely get emails from confused and excited friends and family members who aren’t on the internet as much as you, asking if this is a big deal. (Yes! It’s a big deal!)
  • Some of those people (generally between 5% – 30%) will click on something they see, including the form asking them to sign up for your email list in exchange for getting a neat opt in freebie that helps them with a problem they have.
  • They get email updates from you for several weeks and start to think of you as a trusted resource who’s helped them solve their problems.

The Simple Digital & Paper Organization Systems That Keep My Business Moving

Staying organized is tough. We all have life and work to balance, and when you add blogging and creative projects into the mix, things get complicated. Fast!

Today I’m sharing a behind the scenes look in my systems so you can compare notes with me, maybe try out a new habit and hopefully help you feel more relaxed and productive in your daily life.

But before we get too far, remember that before you worry about systems and tasks, you have to know your priorities.

If you can’t feel relaxed and calm if you’re always online, and you need to feel that way to work, you have to prioritize that and actively make decisions that create that feeling. And the same thing goes for what you say yes to and add to your list.

Without fail, I’m focused on doing the right things (as in, right for me) I’ll feel better about checking things off my list and can start to enjoy a life that feels more like what I’m dreaming of right now.

Knowing your heart makes staying in your integrity a hundred times easier, and that makes life feel easier. If you’re not sure of those things, grab some paper and start list making!

 

What I’m keeping organized today

Being a planner and an organization geek, I love trying new solutions that might make my life easier. I’ve used DIY pen and paper systems, gone crazy with bullet journaling, and created my own day planners for years.

The system that I’m using now is what I’ve found to be the most flexible and manageable so far, and it has a really simple divide between what’s digital and what’s on paper that’s kept it working beautifully.

For some context, this is what I have on the go at the moment: 

In my business

  • Day-to-day client web design work
  • Client correspondence for web design projects
  • Business coach training & homework for my apprenticeship
  • Calls with business coaching clients
  • My blog’s editorial calendar
  • My free Facebook community: Daring Creative Workshop’s facebook group and twitter chats (join in!)
  • Top Secret Blog Design Project #1
  • Top Secret Blogging Project #2 (Eek! Both are coming this spring!)
  • Getting the business ready for my giant trip to Europe in April!
  • All of the emails

At home

  • Meal planning (I do the planning, my husband Jesse does 75% of our cooking)
  • Cleaning the house  (We share this about 50/50)
  • Getting my taxes done before the trip
  • Being in touch with friends & family
  • Getting everything done that needs finishing (and planning some trip ideas) for the giant trip to Europe my lovely husband and I are taking in April!

 

If you look at this and feel like you’re not doing enough, know that I’m not able to personally touch on all of these in any one week. The list is just too big!

A key part of how I stay ahead is that I prioritize tasks that make other tasks easier, and delegate work to freelancers so I can focus on putting my time into what’s crucial.

I’m also deeply dedicated to having imperfection in my life. I’m happy eating cereal for dinner some nights. My car is rarely washed. There are currently dishes in my sink, and I know amazing people who I would genuinely love to be more in touch with.

I’ve embraced the idea that we can have everything we want, just not at the same time. And then I gave myself permission to stop torturing myself about the little things. (Out loud, and repeatedly.)

I’ve decided that sometimes it’s more important to put Youtube on and teach yourself the Charleston. In fact, most of the time, it’s more important to dance.

 

Five ways my digital and paper organization system keeps my blog and business organized – even when life gets crazy:

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1. Capturing big picture goals and ideas

System: Paper  | Method: In a Binder

I use loose leaf in a binder for strategizing, working out pricing, and long term planning. I love getting really hands on, and if I have a great session that I want to keep with me I can upload photos of the pages into Evernote or Google Docs for instant access.

 

2. Pick top three tasks every day

System: Paper  | Method: Weekly Planner

At the end of each work day I use a weekly planner to create a list of three things I’m going to complete the next day.  I try to work on these before I take on anything else, to make sure I’m spending the day on my priorities instead of someone else’s. Throughout the day, I’ll respond to emails and finish things on the fly that take under 3 minutes to reply to, but everything else gets scheduled using my overall tasks & projects system.

 

3. Have a dedicated place for tasks & projects

System: Digital  | Method: Asana

I’m in love with Asana! It’s completely free and incredibly helpful. I have a project for all of the major areas of my business that I work on, and I use headings to keep ideas and brainstorming notes separate from what needs to be scheduled.

Daily Task Management in Asana

Daily Task Management in Asana

 I can set sub-tasks with deadlines, assign them to other people, and key project resources like images or google docs, and have conversations about any aspect of the tasks in Asana.

The key way that I use it is to send emails to Asana where I make them actionable tasks. This lets me get out of my inbox and into my work, so I’m making things happen instead of putting out fires. (Here’s the basics.)

At the start of each day, I also check the “My Tasks” area to see what needs my attention next. This is the main way that I use Asana to see what’s coming up for each day.


Mobilegeddon is Coming For Your Blog. (Yes, YOURS!) Here’s How to Be Ready.

If you have a blog, website or online shop, we take it for granted that when someone searches for your online that your work will appear. That’s not necessarily the case, and if you stay uninformed your site could be in big trouble, but if you take two simple actions that I’ll share today, you’ll be ready for the changes.

Check Your Blog Before Google Wrecks Your Blog - Get Mobile Friendly Before the April 21st Deadline

So what’s with all the changes?

Search engines use complex formulas to decide what information is relevant and what isn’t. These are called algorithms, and they are how search engines are able to show helpful content written by real, knowledgeable people (yay! humans!) in first pages of  search results, while sites full of keywords and questionable links get less exposure.

The changes are happening because Google has announced that on April 21st it will adjust the algorithm to put more emphasis on sites that are mobile friendly.

Google’s past changes have resulted in significant traffic decreases for some sites, leading to developers giving the coming changes the nickname “mobilegeddon”.

This makes perfect sense – and since by some estimates 50% of google’s searches are mobile, if your site isn’t ready by April 21st you could lose a significant amount of potential readers, clients and customers.

 

The good news is that times of change are the best time to show up and shine.

This is the perfect time to set yourself apart, and if you’re someone who writes high quality, helpful content online, you’re already ahead of the game. With all of these changes Google is working to help make sure content like yours is easy to find.

Even better? You don’t have to be tech savvy to make your site is ready for mobile users. I’m going to show you exactly how to be ready, step by step.

 

First, Take the free test to see if your site is mobile friendly enough for Google:

  1. Visit the Google mobile friendly test site
  2. Enter your domain name, and click Analyze.
  3. If your site is not mobile friendly, don’t panic! Most won’t pass, but there are easy steps to follow below.

 

Next for WordPress Users: Install a Plugin

You can go mobile with the help of a plugin. It’s an easy process, and I’ve made a quick video tutorial that takes you from testing your site to passing google’s test with flying colours in under 10 minutes.

 

Next for Typepad Users:

Typepad hasn’t publicly addressed the upcoming Google changes yet, but their social media team has confirmed that their solution is in the works. And that’s a good thing, because the algorithm changes stand to put their entire network at a significant disadvantage.

Their answer is the Typepad Nimble Design Lab is a one and two-column responsive theme that lets Typepad users create themes that should pass the mobile friendly test. To gain access, Typepad users can opt into the beta team and start making changes.


Five Minutes to a Better Blog: Make Your Blog Bio Fascinating

There are a lot of things to keep track of when you have a blog, and over time something is bound to get lost in the shuffle. But when you’re the only person fanning the flames, when you leave any piece of your passion project alone for long enough, it will start to cause real problems!

Today I’m challenging you to jump in and take action: Take five minutes, right now, and make your blog better.

Five Minutes to a Better Blog - Fill in the Blank Blog Bio Challenge

Are you in?

In the five minute challenge today I’m going to teach you how to update the short bio in your site’s sidebar so it’s more fascinating to your ideal clients.

With a bio that’s strategically written with your reader in mind, when your right people find you online your writing lights up like fireworks signalling that they’re in the right place. It immediately jumps up, greets them, and puts your best foot forward- even while you’re re-watching Wes Anderson movies, sipping on craft beer or a new cocktail creation, or coaxing the kids into bed.

Why is your blog’s bio area so important?

Because your readers aren’t reading, they’re skimming – and fast. Your site is one of dozens of websites that they’ll see today, and most readers stick around for moments before they leave a site.

Your short bio is one of the first places your reader will glance to find out what your blog or website is about. That’s code for “making a split second decision about if you are right for them”.

Not sure what I mean by a short bio? Many blogs have this in their sidebar and they’re a perfect jumping off point to for your bios on any social media platform.

Five Minutes to a Bio That Will Stop Your Ideal Reader in Their Tracks

1. What do you do?

Your visitors are savvy and moving fast! Let’s restate the most basic aspects of who you are to your website readers. Think your readers will read between the lines? Then include this because it also tells search engines and potential readers who you are, so you have a chance to show up when they search for what you do!

Make your answer as simple as possible! Answer in 3 words or less.

Fill in the blank:

I’m a                                               .

Examples: Horror writer, Fashion blogger, Print designer

 

2. Who is your ideal reader?

Think about generally who your readers are, in terms of the common thread they share. If they share similar ages, maybe they’re twenty somethings. If your readers are all seeking a specific kind of feeling or experience, they could be adventurers. If your readers share a common career, they could be lawyers or freelancers. What attributes do your readers share that’s relevant to what you do?

 

Fill in the blank:

My ideal reader is a                                               .

 

Examples:

Horror writer: My ideal reader is an avid reader, seeking some adventure.

Fashion blogger: My ideal reader is a twenty-something who’s stumped when it comes to fashion.

Print designer: My ideal reader is a pop culture geek.

 

 

3. What do you help them do?

What does your blog or website help your reader with, and how do you deliver that? The trick here isn’t to describe what you do – so steer away from job titles and descriptions of your skills or the product of your work unless you make something physical – and to describe the change you create for your readers or clients.

 

Fill in the blank: 

I             (what you do to create change)             that let / how to / that empowers my ideal reader to            (what change you create)            .

 

Examples:

Horror writer: I write stories that let my readers escape everyday life.

Fashion blogger: I teach fashion stumped twenty-somethings how to shop their closets for outfits and how to discover their personal style.

Print designer: I create posters that let fans and geeks bring their fandom into their homes.


Stuck on Pricing Your Work? Ask Better Questions

One of the questions that freelancers, creative entrepreneurs and microbusiness owners like us can get really stuck on is “How do I price my work?”. In fact, sometimes a few google searches can take you straight from that question to asking “What the heck do I even need to know so I can start pricing my work?!”.

There are no two ways around it, pricing your work is complicated. Not because it’s unknowable, but because it’s a loaded topic. It makes you think about what you’re “worth” and brings up all kinds of feelings about money. And I bet they’re not Scrooge McDuck’s feelings.

But if you consider a few key things, you can make sure your pricing catches your customer’s attention in a good way, and that you have a business that carries you toward your goals and dreams.

Today I’ve put together a few questions that are worth asking when pricing your work that can help you make sure you cover all angles when you’re working this out. You can use it for new products and as a way to check in with what you already offer.

But this isn’t just about earning less than you’re worth. Pricing your work intentionally can have a huge impact on your life.

When I started working as a web designer, I charged $350 for blog designs and $650 for a website designs. The pricing was based a little on time and a lot on how my partner and I felt we were worth. I was self-taught and designing part-time, and any money I earned felt like an exciting vote of confidence. (It still does!)

It was exciting to work for myself, so when my freelance work and other online income added up to a part-time income, I quit my day job and added more design work to fill in the new availability in my schedule.

But I didn’t adjust my pricing.

My business has never been a hobby, so I needed to make sure I could help with our monthly bills and mortgage payments. Because my prices were so low, I accepted a lot of projects and needed to work constantly. My overconfident and optimistic outlook on pricing quickly had me taking on too many projects, and feeling like I never saw my husband.

I quickly realized that I couldn’t double my output without needing more time to recharge and work on my business, and adjusted my prices to course correct, but I had already accepted a waiting list of clients expecting to pay my bargain basement prices.

Five years later I wish I could travel back in time and hug that younger version of myself.

Well, hug her and then make her spend an afternoon with me so we could take her enthusiasm and great ideas and turn them into a business that pays the bills and supports her sanity!

Since I got serious about business and pricing, the changes have been profound. Using the same skills I had when I started, in the last three and a half months I’ve made over $26,000 USD in sales.

That’s about what I made in my first year of working for myself. I had to pinch myself when I saw it.

And I’m doing it by working less, having a great life I look forward to every day, and genuinely helpful people who want to build amazing online businesses and to learn how to build a healthy business for themselves.

I’m not saying that there’s a shortcut to success (it’s taken me years) but there are definitely potholes you can avoid that will make your journey more direct.

 

Want to dig into pricing? Get your free worksheets!

Free downloadable pricing worksheets for bloggers, coaches & other daring creatives
To help make pricing easier, I’ve made you a book of worksheets that helps you ask & answer strategic questions about:

  • What you should take into account when pricing your time
  • How to tell if your idea is in a tested & true area for business.
  • How the journey your customers are on should affect your prices.
  • What experiences you’re creating for your clients & how that

Is Outdated Advice Sabotaging Your Blog?

Want to know something that drives me crazy? A lot of the advice you’re getting about how to grow your business and how to grow your blog is old. Really old.

Old advice lurks at conferences, in online courses and in blog posts your favourite bloggers write. It means well and is offered by smart people – sometimes whole panels of them.

This has been a pet peeve of mine for years, and I’m in good company. Last week it came up on the Marketing Over Coffee podcast, on a business coach training call I was in, and just the other day Shenee Howard’s posted about it on Facebook.

What’s the big deal? A lot of people groan about how new freelancers and coaches claim the title “expert” before they have the experience to back that up. The thing is we’re all pretty savvy! Those people are easy to sniff out. But how do you figure if well-meaning advice from people you look up to is just plain wrong?

You need to learn if you want to protect yourself from damage, and avoid the traps that block smart bloggers and business owners from the success they want.

 

Wait, why are blogging experts giving out old information?

Learning a skill, building a blog, and making your way to conferences takes time. It takes time to cultivate a reputation and to be invited to speak at events, and during that time a lot can change.

Things change fast.

When Google changes its algorithm, your website can lose hold of it’s search engine placement literally overnight. When social media sites add new features and adjust their search, your referrals or viral growth can evaporate. Tactics can have “best before” dates on them, and needs adjustment or to be scrapped as they’re more widely used.

For bloggers and professionals, the problem is that after your blog or website reaches a traffic tipping point, everything is a little easier – but it also gets fuzzier. With a popular blog or business, crafted with skill, consistency and care over time, you have more invested fans who are ready to receive your work. But in practical terms, while you’re doing a lot right, you also have a larger margin for error that doesn’t sink your business. And with more people exploring your website at any one time, you have a built-in higher chance to succeed.

Most of us never get there, and we look up to the people who do.

But when you don’t have to be as strategic or precise to get people to take action, you feel like you’re great at it. So you might drift away from reading up, tracking and adjusting your performance and keeping your skills sharp. And soon enough, you’re selling online courses or are speaking, teaching blunt techniques that may work alright for you, but that aren’t going to change things your readers and students.

“There is nothing quite as effective, when it comes to shutting down alternative viewpoints, as being convinced you are right.” – Ed Catmull in Creativity Inc.

And of course this happens. We all have blind spots, and most of us fell for doing the work of what we love. We didn’t fall for A/B testing the specifics of how we present our work.

(Though if you did, we should be friends.)

 

So how do you win?

I think you the key is being open but critical, testing things out on your own, and seeing what the person’s track record is. Do other people hire them for their results? Are they curious and engaged? Do they walk their talk? Ever mention training or research on social media? I’m betting you have great radar for this already.

And I’m not special! I’m subject to all of this, too. I’ve been blogging on a weekly basis since 1998 and started my current site in 2008.

That means that in internet time, I’m a fossil.

And I ran day-to-day business as an owner of a business partnership for the last five years. In internet business time, I’m a relic!

Especially because the majority of microbusinesses fail within their first three and a half years, with more women leaving their fields than men in America. (from most recent global entrepreneurship monitor)

By my argument, you should be suspicious of me! And being critical about the advice you take in is amazing, so test for yourself if the “big picture” of my advice rings true for you.

 

To win online you need two ingredients: passionate curiosity and the scientific method.

Curious bloggers are on the lookout for answers. They dabble, read up,


Want to sell a product or service on your blog? Do this first!

Lately I’ve talked with a lot of friends from all different walks of life, and in all different points in their lives and careers, about how they can start to sell a product or service on their blog, or make money from their existing lifestyle blog.

Now, granted, if you and I spoke in person the conversation will eventually turn to two things:

  1. My undying love of all things Joss Whedon.
  2. How frustrated I get when I see talented makers, artists and coaches pouring their hearts into their blogs without being able to make a full or part-time career for their efforts.

If you’re new to my blog, you might not know that I started freelancing when I was twenty-three years old, I left my cubicle for good at twenty-five, and this year I’m turning thirty.

I’m incredibly passionate about this because I vividly remember how big and unknown it all felt when I was starting out. I remember feeling like the only way I could make a normal job work was by putting a “realistic” ceiling on what I wanted my life to feel like.

Being on the other side of that, I know that it’s not as hard or complicated as I assumed it was. And working for yourself can feel just as certain as a day job – but you have to start out to get there right.

And that’s worth talking about.

So what’s the first step when you want to add a product or service to your blog?

It’s a lot like learning a new skill, or adopting a new pet.

This summer one of my best friends, horror writer and editor for hire J.H. Moncrieff, let me know that an abandoned hedgehog was on our Humane Society’s website. Being a crazy animal lady, I was ready to scoop her up for my own before I even saw her.

When I brought her home, Ramona needed some special TLC and wasn’t quiet about it! Being naturally shy critters, she was on high alert and everything panicked her.  Any sound around her cage, movement or new scents and she would go into a ball and make distressed chirping noises to warn off predators.

Ramona the Hedgehog before and after adoption

I didn’t know anything about hedgehogs, let alone how to help one who needed special care. But I had great resources to draw on so I didn’t have to guess.

I needed to know what she ate, so I asked the staff at the Humane Society. (High protein cat food! That was easy.)

I wasn’t sure what kind of habitat they like, so I searched online for “hedgehog habitat pictures”. (They love places to hide and tunnel, and guinea pig cages and accessories are a perfect fit.)

If you break it down:

  • I had a conversation with an expert;
  • I searched online for cages or habitats so I had context for what other people use;
  • I became a careful observer of her behaviour so I could respond to her better;
  • Then I put in a lot of time with her, and;
  • I consistently demonstrated that I was reliable and trustworthy in many small ways.

What does this have to do with your hustle? First of all, it means that you already have the skills to succeed. (Woo!) And second, that’s a small-scale version of how you can learn how to help the people you want to serve with your offering, and then how you build trust them.

I bet you never thought you could tweet this: “My last business lesson was from a hedgehog on the internet.” (click to tweet it!)

Often when we create a new product or service that people might buy, we approach them with less real world information than we do when we problem solve in other areas of our lives.

That’s a little crazy, right?


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