How to Write Copy That Converts to Sales with Betsy Talbot

Do you have trouble writing for your business?

Maybe it’s a blog post idea you can’t seem to get from your brain to the keyboard.
Or a sales page that makes you feel like a carnival barker.
Or even an email to an influencer, potential client, or journalist—the kind of person who could help your business if only you knew what to say to them.

And don’t even get started on case studies and testimonials—it takes too much bravery to even ask, much less guide them on what to say! Right?

What would it feel like if you knew the basic framework to confidently write the blog posts, website pages, and emails to grow your business?

No more stress.
No banging your head against your keyboard.
And no more worrying you’ll say the wrong thing.

Today I’m interviewing Betsy Talbot, my go-to copywriter and straight-talking campaign strategist. Betsy and I have worked together for years because her words spur action. And that’s what you want your words to do for your business!

Get your notebook ready, because Betsy’s sharing the kind of info that can save you hours of work and get you more sales. And I also asked Betsy to share her entrepreneurial advice on how to let go of a business when those sales are just NOT converting.

Um, we also talked about how strippers and spies can make compelling content. So, yeah, you need to check this video out.

If you want to write copy that attracts and converts more browsers into actual, paying buyers, please click below to watch the video interview!

YouTube video

Highlights include:

How to launch a brand from scratch and quickly see revenue (2:30)
Making a hard choice about when to close down your business (3:56)
Why you need to ditch the “hope and growth” strategy and what to do instead if you want to be profitable – including avoiding the mistake of DIY-ing everything in your business (4:35)
Betsy’s best advice for turning interested prospects into paying clients: Lead the client (8:26)
When to DIY versus hire a copywriter + the mistakes to avoid when writing your own sales copy (17:16)
The most important tips to make writing and content creation easier for yourself and more effective (22:02)

“Document your solution. You have to explain HOW you specifically help people. They do not know otherwise.” (Tweet This!)

My juicy blog writing tip to add more sizzle. This is where the strippers and spies come in! (23:54)
Why selling is NOT sleazy and how to EDUCATE rather than sell and OFFER rather than ask (27:20)
How to “actively solicit” or “cold call” the right way: What to cold-email a target prospect, the media or a “famous” person so he endorses your book! (31:54)

Don’t miss Betsy’s practical tips on how to write clear, compelling copy that will actually convert to sales. And with all of this advice, heed Betsy’s wise words:

“There’s a place for learning but you have to follow it up with ACTION!” (Tweet This!)

Are you not getting the results you want from your copy, but don’t have the budget to hire a copywriter? Well, then check out Betsy’s Pocket Copywriter Program right here. And use discount code: redslice” for $100 off per month!

“I am not a marketer.”


Do any of these refrains sound familiar?

“I don’t know what I don’t know about brand. Why do I need it?”

“I hate marketing, I’m not interested in being the star of the show. It feels slimy.”

And my favorite (and the most common):

“I’m not a marketer.”

Don’t get me wrong. The fact that folks have these beliefs is why I have steady employment and I’m more than happy to serve.

But let me be clear: You are a marketer. (Tweet me!)

You may not know the ins and outs of writing a killer blog post, or how to do Facebook ads correctly or why you need a messaging platform…..but you are a marketer.

Marketing, in my view, is about sharing the passionate truth of your story to the right people so that they know you solve a problem they have – or you can deliver something to them that they really, really crave.

When it comes down to it, your work either helps people avoid pain or find pleasure. Whatever that “pain” might be: struggling in business, feeling lonely, spending too much money. Or…whatever that “pleasure” might be: saving money, losing weight, gaining confidence, etc.

Marketing is NOT: Lying, coercion, extortion, bragging, selfish or cruel. While many soda, food companies or politician may not subscribe to this is beside the point.

FACT: Marketing is communication.

If you enjoy what you do, if it provides value for people and if you’re excited about talking about it, then guess what? That’s marketing.

Whenever you overdeliver for clients, delight customers, or tell someone about your cool new offering or snazzy new product with all the zeal of a tween at Bieber concert, you are marketing.

Doesn’t mean you still can’t grow and learn exactly which steps to take and how to get to success.

Never again let me hear you say, “You are not a marketer.”

There is a brand and marketing genius inside you, bursting to get out. You just need Glinda to the Good Witch (a.k.a, me) to show you how to use those ruby slippers you’ve been wearing all along and guide you down the right road to get home.

Stay Bold. Even If the Doves Cry.

B-Prince-DeathBy now, you’ve probably heard the news that the artist Prince has passed away at 57. Reports are that he died due to flu complications (sounds crazy, right?).
I’m shocked and saddened. But why?
See, Prince defined the soundtrack to my youth. I was not a “super fan” by any stretch (Leaving that to my bestie, Becky) but his music accompanied my young big dreams, inner wildness, and joy.
I, like you, rolled my eyes when he changed his name to a symbol decades ago and enjoyed mocking his new, “formerly known as Prince” moniker. Seriously, how ridiculous, I thought. But man, I didn’t care what he called himself when I rocked along to “Kiss” or lip-synched “When Doves Cry” into my hairbrush. The rhythm and funk moved me, as it did so many others. And “Purple Rain” is as epic a rock ballad as they get.
Some folks felt a loss when Bowie passed, and while I admired his creativity, that loss didn’t cut as close to home as this one. It feels like our planet is losing many of it’s creative geniuses all at the same time.
At a time when some politicians vilify diversity, it is comforting to know these renegades are around. Daring, pushing, zagging while everyone else zigs.
Our world desperately needs these voices. Who wants a world made of plain vanilla (no disrespect to tasty vanilla bean ice cream) when we should be living in color?
That’s where you come in.
Keep dreaming. Keep daring. Keep pushing the boundaries, in loud or quiet ways. We don’t all have to be Lady Gaga meat dresses to make a difference. But never, ever make your creative vision small. Don’t hide your message or brand just because it’s “different.”
Whether you are a leadership expert, life coach, designer, writer, speaker, consultant, or store owner, embrace your uniqueness. The world needs your color now more than ever.
I mourn the loss of this creative voice, whether I always agreed with him or not. And I pray my son does not have to live in a world too afraid to embrace more Bowie’s or Prince’s or…..YOU. Heck, I pray I don’t have to live in a world without such color and life, either.
Rock on

9 Hot Women Your Business + Brand Need Right Now

6.2.15HotList (Blog)

I’m going to be straight with you: stop trying to do everything yourself.

You know who you are: In an effort to “save money,” you sign up for every DIY course under the sun, thinking you’re going to have time to: perfect your writing, code your website, design your flyers, and everything else you need to do to run your business or promote your message. In addition to, you know, doing your actual work.

There’s definitely a time and a place to go it alone. Heck, I offer a self-study digital program that enables you to put together a clear, crisp brand strategy on your own – and folks love it. But savvy business people also know that no one can be an expert in everything. Why should you be, when there are fabulous resources out there? Not to mention that there are just certain things you may enjoy, like writing your blog or designing your materials, and some things that make you want to poke your eye out because it will take you three times as long to be half as good. Time better spent on the real, revenue-generating value you offer, whether that’s making your custom jewelry designs, working with paying clients or writing your next novel.

Folks often ask me for referrals, which I love to provide. This is not a zero-sum game. If someone helps me be successful, my responsibility is to mentor and share to help you, too.

If we can’t share our resources to lift everyone up, why are we even doing this “entrepreneurship” thing? (Tweet this!)

Enjoy my Hot List of 9 ridiculously talented people that will help your biz + brand shine bright. And yes, they are all women (#girlpower). You’re welcome.

Norma Maxwell of Connect Interactive. My website shaman. She has designed and built outrageously on-brand websites for me as well as many of my clients. She’s the genius behind my recent website facelift! Norma gets that your website is not just about good looks, but that it should speak to your target audience and represent your brand well – plus ensure a great user experience to achieve your goals.

Sarah Von Bargen: Sarah and I are long-time partners for many of my clients. She is the writing genius behind my SLICE Sessions. She loves to ghostwrite blog posts or eBooks – and she’s amazing at articulating your unique brand in a way that gets people excited and engaged. She has written a lot of great stuff for me over the years.

Tammy Martin of Martin Marketing: Tammy is a Facebook marketing expert for savvy soulful entrepreneurs. And not just about Facebook ads per se but how to use them to build a true sales funnel and lead your prospects down the path to purchase. She’ll help you build your following, your email list and generate crucial traffic back to your site – all while setting up both your ads and your unique landing pages, dealing with all the technology behind-the-scenes, installing all tracking pixels to make sure it’s working, and tweaking as needed. We had great results working together and I’m eager to work with her on more!

Alison Monday of Tiny Blue Orange: Alison is my website wizard and guardian. She is a designer and developer and ensures your site looks good and stays safe (she’s a techie at heart and is all about security, uptime, and performance). She helps me create pages, improve layout and has designed promotional JPG’s for me. She has also helped some of my clients build wonderful websites that required sophisticated back-end complexity and unique imagery.

Sandy Jones-Kaminski of Bella Domain Media: Sandy is a networking maven and LinkedIn ninja. She combines her expertise in how to network online or offline with her vast knowledge of how to use LinkedIn to generate leads, find connections, and get found by the folks who matter most. She has all kinds of social selling and networking tips and tricks that will change your business.

Anne Watson Barber of Almond Tree Social: Anne specializes in helping her clients boost the ROI of their websites via SEO, paid marketing campaigns, Infusionsoft eMarketing and other tools. As a Search Engine Marketing manager, she focuses on boosting conversions and traffic for large, complex websites. Fun fact: She was a News Editor for Wall Street Journal online before going freelance.

Social Media Gurus: These talented experts have been behind the scenes of some killer brands ranging from authors to consultants to restaurants and can help you develop a practical and powerful social media plan – and even ghostwrite and manage pages for you.

Karen Rosenzweig of One Smart Cookie Marketing

Tracey Warren of Ready, Set, Grow Marketing

Katie Kay of Virtually Savvy

And if you need a dynamic speaker to motivate your marketing team, liven up your next business event or inspire conference attendees into action, you can always enjoy my unique blend of branding and inspirational wit and wisdom but please check out these other fabulous folks as they are gifted presenters on their specific topics. Bookmark this post for when you need to find an amazing speaker for your next event.

Image Credit: Tomi Tapio K via Flickr

7 Simple and Stunning Blog Post Ideas to Keep Your Ideas Flowing

5.5.15 7EasyBlogPostIdeas (blog)
You’re staring at the cursor and it’s blinking at you, taunting you. You sigh.

When you were out driving earlier today, you had a ton of clever blog post ideas that just came to you with no effort. But you couldn’t write them down. And now – poof – they are gone with the wind.

This happens to me all the time. I seriously wish I could record the thoughts I have right before falling asleep. I’ve written 5 novels in my head this way. But I can’t remember a damn thing once I wake up. So I was inspired by a hilarious video from my buddy Amy Schmittauer of Savvy Sexy Social to share my own take on 7 simple and stunning blog post ideas – these will help so much when you can’t think of anything to write about.

And BONUS TIME: Any of these can easily be turned into a free email opt-in download, a lead magnet for your next course, an eBook, a podcast, a video… get the idea. Recycle, people.

Oh, and the numbers below are arbitrary. It’s up to you to pick how many you can create – but play around with being short and sweet (3 quick tips…) versus providing a more exhaustive resource (64 ways to….). See what resonates with your audience the most.

7 Simple and Stunning Blog Post Ideas – When You Can’t Think of What to Write About (Tweet This!)

  1. 3 Crucial Tips for… (YOUR SUBJECT AREA HERE). …Building a Website, …Finding Inner Peace, …Choosing a Killer Date Outfit, …Buying the Right Engagement Ring. Whatever your business does, surely there are 3 basic tips that you always seem to share with prospects or customers. This worked well for me when sharing 4 Clever Ways to Make it Easy For Others to Promote You and 3 Tips for Smarter Small Business Marketing. Don’t fall into the trap (as I once did before a wise woman slapped me upside the head – with love) of assuming “everyone know this.” They don’t. It’s why you have a job.
  2. 6 Questions to Ask When… (YOUR SUBJECT AREA): People love to read articles that guide them when making a decision. And, heck, no one says you can’t choose questions that would immediately point them to your products or services if it’s a good fit – just make sure you’re being unbiased, as people may feel like you’re being slimy instead of helpful. So how about: …Choosing the Right Accounting Software, …Picking the Perfect Executive Coach, …Creating Your Social Media Strategy.
  3. 5 Powerful (YOUR FIELD) Lessons from (POPULAR NEWS TOPIC/CULTURAL REFERENCE): This one is super fun, because it allows you to be timely (and show up in what people are searching on right now) and showcase your cleverness in relating your expertise to something that culturally binds us. One of my most popular blog posts was 4 Powerful Business Lessons from James Bond and Skyfall. The other form this can take is “What (POPULAR TOPIC) Can Teach You About (YOUR FIELD).” Relate key lessons or tips you always talk about to something timely and hot and give it a fun spin (if the topic allows for it) or simply analyze a current news story through the lens of your expertise, as I did in popular posts about Lance Armstrong’s and Susan G. Komen’s epic brand fails.
  4. 7 Lessons Learned When (YOUR FIELD OR INTEREST): You have wisdom to share based on your experience (See #1 above) and your audience is thirsting for it. What can you share about mistakes you’ve made, unique things you’ve done, or clients you’ve worked with? What can they learn from your story? Remember, share your lessons but ensure you make it about how it applies to the reader. I loved sharing 7 Lessons I learned While Writing A Book…And What They Can Teach You as well as, yes, the 7 lessons that a brain injury can teach you about your brand.
  5. Pose a question related to your subject area: Think about the most popular questions you get asked about your business, brand or profession and turn that into a single-threaded blog post. How Do I Write Good Sales Copy? How Do I Work with a Stylist? How Long Does A Website Take to Build? What is a Brand Strategy? This helps you showcase your expertise, offer great advice and even make it easy for new people to join your tribe and not feel like they don’t know some inside joke. Remember, your audience may be at different phases of the buying cycle and are only just now getting to know you and your brand.
  6. Interview another rockstar expert: Are there folks related to your field from whom your audience would loooooove to get the inside scoop? You don’t have to be the expert in everything. But you can be the go-to resource for curating that info and brining those guests to your community. Are you a health and wellness coach? Interview a stylist to help your clients showcase their brand new health bods. Are you an Etsy store selling handmade jewelry? Interview a party planner on how to throw the perfect jewelry party for your friends. Do you sell customer management software to small businesses? Interview a branding expert to give them tips on how to build their brand online and create compelling content. These can be super easy to create. In my Slice of Brilliance column, I interview experts in related fields that are of interest to you and send them a 3-question form to fill out. You get a great blog post, your audience gets great content, and you get the added bonus of that rockstar also promoting your post! #Winning
  7. Make one observation on your industry and present your point of view: These are the thought leader posts, the ones that inspire, delight, provoke thought – and get shared. There must be something you love or hate about your industry that you have a view point on: your disgust with smarmy sales pitches (if you’re a sales consultant), your crush on brands that give back to the community (if you run an advertising agency), your confusion over why contracts can’t be written in plain English (if you’re a lawyer), your deep hatred of hyperbolic software sales claims (if you run a software company). How can you make this personal commentary interesting and relevant to your audience? Ensure there’s a strong takeaway that they can ponder or act upon – otherwise it’s just a rant. I tried to do this with my observations about how perfection holds many people back from birthing their great ideas into the world or why you are called to create something that matters, rather than spew more noise into the world.

P.S. Need help coming up with more compelling content? Want to learn the secrets to writing copy that seduces your audience? Want more content creation tips? Get it here.

Image credit: qnuckx via Flickr

Leprechauns, Charms and the Space to Make Magic

03.17.15 Recharging (blog)

I took two weeks off for vacation and prepped everything in my life for a work detox. I call it a “work detox” not a full-on digital one, because I specifically set things up to take a break from work email, while still enjoying personal connections via social media: Coordinating a meetup with a friend via Twitter. Posting pics of my sweet babe playing among neon lights at London’s Museum of Childhood or a family photo atop the London Eye, bundled up in the cold weather despite the bright sunlight. Instagramming new fallen snow in the Scottish Highlands before it quickly melted away. Sharing a hilarious video of my mother-in-law’s Boxer and Jack Russell up in Scotland licking my baby boy with love and gusto – and his attempts to kiss them back.

Today is St. Patrick’s Day and my mind is filled with lucky charms, Irish blessings and pots of gold. It seems appropriate to talk about how to make more magic in your life on this special day.

But since I’m not a leprechaun, I can only share some ideas for how this two-week playdate away from work on foreign soil helped me recapture a bit of magic and verve in my own life – and how you might be able to do the same:

  1. Remove or Outsource the Clutter: I knew my Type A personality would go mad if I just “didn’t check email” for two weeks. But I didn’t want the time-suck that email brings distracting me from my family and vacation time. So I asked for help. My rockstar VA checked my email while I was gone, with instructions on how to respond, what to delete and when to send me an urgent text. And guess what? The sky didn’t fall. No one was upset. I had zero junk email piled up. My business didn’t shatter to pieces. If anything, more new business and opportunities awaited me upon my return. And more importantly, I used that time to create magical memories and slow down. Now that I’m more used to it, I’m also finding ways to check email only a few times a day.

What is taking up space in your life that doesn’t serve you or your business? Can you outsource it or delete it completely to make time for silence, laughter, and peace? You have to remove what’s not working before you can replace it with what does.

  1. Change your Environment: Okay, so we can’t always travel 6000+ miles from where our obligations and responsibilities surround us in order to “get away.” But shifting your location, surroundings or context can do wonders for throwing you just a bit off kilter so you are more aware, more alive, more thoughtful. When your surroundings are new, they tend to have a magical, sparkly glow. You’re simply paying more attention because things are unfamiliar. That shift in focus can result in amazing connections – like when I happened to meet the CMO of Pizza Hut for the UK at a café over breakfast. It can spark new dreams – like our desire to pick some other travel destinations for the year. And it can laser-focus you on what is important and what can simply fall away. Hint: A lot more can fall away than you keep telling yourself.

How can you change the scenery in your everyday life? Is it a staycation at a great boutique hotel or perhaps working out of a new coffee shop instead of your old office? Can you take a new route to work or repaint a room? Shift your surroundings so you can shift your focus.

  1. Appoint a Muse: Upon my return, I was lucky enough to have a call with one of my dear gal pals who is also a trusted colleague, inspiring entrepreneur, business-scheming partner-in-crime, idea generator and all-around cheerleader. I realized my joyful talks with her help me focus and keep me motivated on the bigger picture. She inspires me to dream big and find out what I want. Our calls are magical and I always hang up buzzing with energy, as if she’s weaved a little spell around me.

Who can you meet up with regularly to be your personal muse – and for whom you can do the same? Make sure you have these magical elves on speed dial and set up regular dates with them so you get out of your own head and your own ruts. Collaboration breeds all sort of creativity and wonder.

Bottom line: Don’t wait for the leprechaun. There are lots of way to create your own charms and spells to inject magic into your world. (Tweet this!)

Now it’s your turn: What are some ideas you can share about how to rejuvenate your business, spark our creativity or create magic in your world? I’d love to know so please leave a Comment below!

Image credit: Judith Doyle via Flickr

The problem with perfection

02.10.15 seek substance before perfection (blog)

I have seen too many smart, savvy, brilliant people let their ideas die on the vine because they want to do something that many of us think is admirable. And it should make all of us angry and sad:

They want to be perfect.

All the stories that people need to hear. All the talent that could make the world a better place. All the benefits customers and clients are aching to achieve. None of it seeing the light of day because:

“I can’t start my business until I have the perfect website worthy of Vogue or Fast Company” (Right, because everyone expects a Phase 1 website to look as slick as an Apple ad)

“I can’t write my book because I don’t know enough about publishing or story structure so I need to attend more conferences and get more credentials.” (Right, because there is a “right” way to publish a good story and, besides, there’s no one who can help you along the way)

“I can’t send that email or post that blog post until I have an editor thoroughly check it for grammatical mistakes or typos.” (Right, because good ideas that have impacted everything from society at large down to one individual life were mocked because someone wrote “there” instead of “their.”)

Please make no mistake: This is not a defense of shoddy quality or mediocrity. I’m not even advocating poor design. You’re talking to the woman who cries when she realizes there’s a typo in my writing.

But you also know, if you’ve been with me a while, that – news flash – I’m human and I make mistakes. We ALL do. But it doesn’t stop me from continuing to serve you and deliver value. Waiting until something is 100% perfect before you share it with the world is just crazy – and impossible. You will always want to tweak something later. Always. It’s called “learning and evolving.” Besides, 80% of great is better than 100% of nothing, any day.

Think first about why you are chasing perfection? Is it fear holding you back? Tara Mohr, in her recent book Playing Big, purports that many talented women use this as an excuse to mask their fear and hide their light. But I’ve seen many men do this, too. “Perfection-seeking as delay tactic” crosses gender lines. I know, because I’ve been there myself and fight this everyday.

Seek to create substance, value, and inspiration first rather than perfection. (Tweet this!)

Don’t lose momentum. Get your message out in to the world. Shape it as you go. Learn from the feedback you get and improve things further. It’s why innovative companies launch beta projects: to gauge reaction and work out the kinks, fast.

Kindly request forgiveness from your audience. But don’t let the pursuit of perfection stop your message from reaching the people who need it most.

This is not permission to let quality slip. It’s a rallying cry to get your ideas out into the world and shape them as you go.

Do you agree? Where has this shown up in your own work? What ideas have you sat on for fear of them not being perfect? Please share in the Comments below!

Image Credit: finchlake2000 via Flickr

Boost your brand: 3 tips to make blogging easier

Blah, blah, BLOGGING.

If you just sighed in disgust, overwhelm or sheer panic at simply reading the B-word, I’d like to talk to you today. Blogging is, in my opinion, one of the single best ways to grow your business, boost your brand and hustle up some thought leadership street cred. Think of it like you are the editor of your own little magazine: press releases and pitching be darned! You have the ultimate in with the editor of -YOU.

How can blogging help your brand and business?

  • It gives you a forum to promote your expertise and point of view
  • It’s SEO-licious, meaning you can write about your core product or service areas and search engines will develop huge crushes on you
  • It provides your target audience with information, advice, entertainment – all great things to build community and nurture future sales and customer loyalty
  • It offers you content to share in social media (for those days when you’re like, “What the heck should I tweet about?”
  • It gives visitors a reason to keep coming back to your site
  • It provides the press with examples of your expertise in case they are writing a story for which you’d be PERFECT

I could go on and on…. “But I hate writing,Mariiiiiiaaaaaa!” (enter whining) “I don’t have time.” “What should I blog about?” I will admit that I have it a bit easier, as I love writing – it’s my favorite form of expression. But even I have days where I face a blank Word document, with a blinking cursor mocking my lack of creativity. We all do. The muse does not always show up when it’s convenient for us.  (TWEET THIS!) Sometimes she’s out grabbing a caramel macchiato and surfing One Kings Lane for fun household furnishings.

So here are 3 tips for making blogging easier and – hell – more fun:

  1. Jot down every question someone has ever asked you about your line of work: Seriously, the juicy ones, the silly ones, the obvious ones, the annoying ones.  Are you a knitting store? How about “How can I learn to knit?” “Where can I find fashionable patterns?” “Isn’t this something just old women do?” Or are you a personal trainer: “What are the best super foods I should be eating?” “How can I start on Day One if I’m overweight?” “Don’t I need to be wealthy to have a personal trainer?” Perhaps you’re a social media consultant: “How do I start on Twitter?” “Which platforms should I be on?” “When are the best times to post on Facebook?” – or even “What questions should I ask to find a good social media consultant?” Got your list? BOOM. You just came up with 3 months worth of blog post topics.
  2. Rif on trendy topics: The Grammy’s are coming up. Can you relate something about your business back to music, a Grammy winning star or even something controversial that happened at the show? New movies come out all the time. Can you relate some tips about your products or services back to a popular film? These kind of posts are as fun to write as they are to read – and you can take advantage of trending topics when promoting the content on social media. For example, if #Grammys are hot, hot, hot the day after the event, you can use that hashtag to promote your post.
  3. Interview interesting people: Who would your target audience (or you) love to hear from? Are there related experts who complement what you provide that would be valuable for your readers? You don’t have to come up with all the blog post ideas yourself – sometimes the best thing to do is feature another interesting person with juicy nuggets of wisdom to share. Not only will your audience love it, but you create a built-in promotional partner – and you get to be generous and support someone else’s great brand so perhaps later they may support you.

Photo credit: Foxtongue on Flickr

Got goals? 6 resources to get your butt into gear this year

Hello, 2014! How the hell are ya?!

Now that you’re emerged from your eggnog-induced haze and dusted off the last of the New Years Eve glitter (why does that stuff always seem to stick around for weeks? It’s a mystery…) you are ready to tackle the new year. Right? RIGHT?!

But what does that mean, to tackle the new year? Sounds so adversarial, as if the new year is waiting to mug you and steal your wallet.

We’ve all done the rounds of “New Year Planning:” resolutions, goal setting, visioning, action plans. I used to go into each year with a set of goals organized by topic: Fitness, Career, Writing. That worked for a while….until the year I had major health issues. And then New Year Planning became much airier and flexible, which made me happier. I started thinking about only 2-3 big goals. Things I wanted to accomplish rather than do. Last year, I went a step further and simply picked 2 themes to guide my year, and I mapped every activity to them,

As you get this year’s  goals into gear, here are 6 resources that will add some awesome sauce to your big plans. Remember, any dream starts with a single small step. (Tweet this!)

Goal: Get my book written and published, damn it! Got a book inside you yearning to burst forth and illuminate the world? A book is always more than just a book. Much more. Writing a book could direct the course of your career for the rest of your life. It could lead to infinitely important connections, multiple revenue streams, spin off products, international relations. It could start a revolution. You need a plan.  YOUR BIG BEAUTIFUL BOOK PLAN (Click on Shop when you get there) is a digital program to get tyour word into the world — where it belongs.

Goal: Simplify and declutter my physical (and mental) life. Check out The Declutter Clinic from Married With Luggage. Warren and Betsy ditched their urban corporate life, sold everything they owned and now travel the world writing books, blogging and speaking about how to live your dream. The first step? Ditch the clutter. Get practical and fun strategies to organize, store and sell your stuff, breathe easier and make room for growth – whether you want to travel the world or simply create a more open environment.

Goal: Have an awesome website, blog and (sensible) social media plan that attracts mad traffic: Run, don’t walk and hire Sarah Von Bargen for a Clever Session or a souped-up Solution Session. This woman attracts tens of thousands of blog readers each day. She’s fun. She’s practical. And she’ll show you time-saving tips and tricks to make you “awesome on the internet.” Yes, I’m biased: she’s my writing partner in crime, and I also took a session myself.

Goal: Write better emails. Articulate everything better: Alexandra Franzen, self-expression guru extraordinaire, has got you covered. Sign up for her I Heart Email course starting Jan 10. Or if you want to just generally articulate your life/business/mission/manifesto in a clearer, juicier way, take one of her Write Yourself into Motion workshops (tour schedule coming soon, but get on her email list to find out first!)

Goal: Create an irresistible brand and marketing strategy for myself, my business or my cause: Put that donut down and get your business and brand booty in shape this year with my digital self-study MOMENTUM Pro. Through fun playbooks you can do at your own pace, I’ll walk you step by step through defining your mission, your target market, your messaging and your value.  All so your marketing efforts work. 

Goal: Create goals with soul and get more of what I desire: Turn goal-setting on its ear with Danielle LaPorte’s fabulous resources for living the life you want to live. The Desire Map (Click on Shop when you get there) is an interactive experience that maps your core desired feelings first and then informs how you plan your day, year, career, holidays and life.

Photo credit:  Es.mond on Flickr

Your turn: What are you “tackling” this year? Goals, visions, themes, desires? Please share in the Comments and I’ll share any resources to help you. Hopefully, others can chime in, too!


5 clever ways to position yourself as a (real) expert

Guru. Master. Legend.

Wouldn’t those be nice words to hear after someone introduces you?

Maybe. Personal branding is all the rage these days. But most of us don’t have to be THE leading voice on a certain topic, but a unique, thoughtful and useful voice that is part of the conversation.

I say: Beware the lone guru.

There are so many “personal brands” out there, claiming to be expert in this, or someone who can teach you the secrets of that, or the end-all, be-all source for (INSERT TOPIC HERE).

How nice for them.

The ones who claim to be experts in helping you establish yourself as an expert make me giggle the most. I mean, you should at least have some experience or competency in your chosen field before you expect that article in Fast Company. Experts are not invented, they are cultivated. What are your special skills, talents, experiences that can form a solid, authentic foundation for you to then learn even more and become a valid expert?

My vocation of choice is as a storytelling expert: small business brand strategy, marketing, messaging. Do I know all there is to know about these topics? Hell to the no. I am one of MANY brand strategists and experts. And that’s totally cool with me.

It’s not about offering people one authoritative voice to follow, one cult to join, one Kool-Aid flavor to drink. (Tweet!) There are so many talented brand strategists out there – seeming competitors – whom I admire, follow, learn from and even cite.

No one built up their knowledge and competency on their own. They learned it from somewhere, from someone.

But if you want brand awareness for yourself or your company, if you want to get press + customers + love + speaking gigs + influence, it is a good idea to establish yourself as part of that expert tribe, as someone with a valuable perspective and keen insight into this area.  So instead of getting frustrated every time you see one of these vocal, self-promotional, personal brand “experts” instead of pouting, why not follow some simple tips to join the conversation?

Here are 5 tips on how to establish yourself as an expert

(and no, I’m not claiming to be an expert in expertise – these are just tips I’ve used that have opened up new opportunities for me to help brands + businesses). All of these assume you already have a true level of education, knowledge or experience in your chosen area:

Keep soaking up knowledge:

That’s right. Think you know all there is to know about your topic? You’re done before you even start. Read the best-selling authors out there, attend conferences, read blogs and newsletters. Find out how others are approaching this area, stay up-to-date on trends, and pick and choose which bits of wisdom resonate – or don’t (see Tip #2) – with how you view this topic area. Keep a list of 5-10 sources to follow regularly so you don’t get overwhelmed.

Present a point of view:

It’s not enough to go out there and agree with every expert you read or follow in your space. Often, if you can present a valid, contrarian point of view, people find that much more interesting – and the press may bite. I have often used contributed articles (see Tip #3) and blog posts to say why I thought a certain expert got it wrong, and put my own unique spin and experience on the situation. Being willing to challenge the status quo – for real reasons, not just to be a pain in the neck – displays confidence and authority that people will notice. For some great advice about presenting value-drive content that rabid fans will adore, check out this Jay Baer blog post.

Write & pitch contributed articles/stories:

Not every piece of content you write should be about selling your products or services. People don’t pay to subscribe to news feeds or publications to get commercials. But can you convince that you’re the perfect person to comment on 5 ways companies are actually making money from better SEO? Can you convince Katie Couric that 5 overlooked stressors are making women and mothers ill? Can you persuade TechCrunch to accept your premise that Big Data is changing the way companies roll out new products and features? Think about the macro trends and theories rather than just your own offerings and offer a thought leadership point of view that benefits everyone. Sidenote: Offering guest blog posts to robust online communities like Biznik or BizHive or influential blogs is also very effective.

Speak in public:

Nothing impacts your street cred more than presenting to group as the…you guessed it…guest expert! Have you contacted your local Chamber of Commerce, Small Business Administration or chapter of a national association? Pitch yourself as a speaker on your topic of interest (no sales pitches, please – except they may allow you to have one slide at the end to promote your book, service or special offer). Start building your buzz locally first and then you can start to point to those successes when applying to national event and conferences. Nervous about presenting? Hire a speaking coach, media + presentation coach, or other developmental coach to squash those fears and help you get your message out there. Some great resources for creating an online speaking profile and finding gigs are SpeakerMatch and eSpeakers.


Cue the groans. But I’m telling you, blogging is one of the single best – and free – ways to share your philosophy and highlight your expertise on an on-going basis. You don’t need permission or acceptance like you do for scoring a media article or on-camera interview. Think of your blog as YOUR media outlet where you can say whatever the heck you like, Wrote a contributed article about the new rules of workplace etiquette and no publications bit? Fine, post it on your blog. See a juicy new trend in your space that you’re dying to comment on? You can post it tomorrow. The other added benefit of blogging regularly is that you become search engine friendly around these topics, and the more content you have online, the better to establish your expertise when people are searching for info on those topics. Want proof of the power? I often receive both media and sales leads from blog posts that I’ve written 3 or 4 years ago. Need help on where to start and what to write about – or even just how to work with your blog? Take a session with this woman now or check out Problogger for fabulous tips.

What actions have worked for you in establishing your expert status? Which experts do you admire and follow? Share your thoughts and get some link love back to your (expert) site!