Build Loyalty with a Value-Packed Lead Nurturing Email Sequence

Build Loyalty with a Value-Packed Lead Nurturing Email Sequence

You pour blood, sweat, and tears into building your email list. Every new subscriber brings a little happy dance. Inevitably, though, you lose a subscriber. Two steps forward, one step back. Don’t panic – all that’s needed is a bit of lead nurturing!

Before we dive into lead nurturing strategies, I want to address a couple of things about dealing with losing subscribers.

First of all, never, ever take it personally. There are lots of freebie grabbers out there who never intended to stick around to begin with.

Secondly, if what you’re saying (or how you’re saying it) doesn’t resonate with someone on your list, that’s okay – they probably don’t truly belong to your tribe.

RELATED: Your Vibe Attracts Your Tribe: Here’s How to Unlock Your Personal Brand

Finally, sometimes people simply get overwhelmed by the amount of newsletters they’ve signed up for and clean up their inboxes…and you might just be part of that purge.

In the first two cases, you should celebrate these unsubscribes! Why would you want to pay your email marketing provider for a bunch of “dead weight”?

As for the latter scenario, kicking up your lead nurturing efforts could help curb your losses. After all, if your tribe is head over heels for you, there’s a much better chance they’ll make sure you make the cut.

Now that we’ve covered why you shouldn’t shed tears over lost subscribers, let’s talk about what you should be doing: nurturing email leads.

 

What the heck is lead nurturing, anyway, and why does it matter?

In simple terms, lead nurturing means building and maintaining relationships with leads in your sales funnel. In today’s post, we’re talking about nurturing brand new email subscribers, so in this context, lead nurturing essentially means welcoming and “initiating” new subscribers (aka leads) into your tribe.

The last thing you want to do is ghost your new subscribers. I know you’re probably scared to over-email your list—after all, you don’t want to risk annoying them. Here comes a huge “but”…

BUT the very worst thing you can do is not welcome them, never provide them with any value, and let them totally forget about you.

Doesn’t sound so great, does it?

 

Stop, story time (u can’t touch this)

Once upon a time, I saw an intriguing incentive download via a Facebook ad. I took a chance and shared my email address (knowing full well I was opting into a funnel). I figured since the freebie looked promising, I’d probably continue getting value from the emails that would follow.

Well, I received the download (I think—I don’t even remember now…more on this momentarily) and went on my merry way. Several weeks passed and I received an email from an unfamiliar name. I couldn’t for the life of me figure out who this person was.

I searched my inbox and lo and behold, it was the guy with the intriguing incentive. Holy smokes, I forgot all about him…and his freebie!

Wow. He sure doesn’t email much, does he?

Barely reading the email, I closed my inbox and went on with my day.

Another several weeks pass and it happened again. This time my memory was jogged a little more quickly, but still, it wasn’t instant recognition.

Right now, I can’t tell you his name to save my life. And the freebie? Not a clue what it was. I never did anything with it.

The end.

Okay, this story sucks, right? So does this guy’s lead nurturing skills! Ba dum tss.

 

Moral of the story

While I’m sure you gathered, the point of my story is that if you don’t welcome, initiate, and engage with your subscribers on a regular basis, they’re going to forget all about you, never learn to trust you, and therefore never become a loyal fan or paying customer.

Just like I’ll never buy anything from ol’ what’s-his-name.

Can I be real? Like really real? When you don’t stay in touch with your list, it comes across as though you don’t really give a shit about them one way or another. As if they’re not worth your time.

Tell me: do you want to be seen as just a number on an email list? Would you buy from someone who randomly reaches out for a sale but hasn’t given you any prior evidence that their product is valuable?

Didn’t think so.

Building relationships with people who opt into your list is non-negotiable. They entrusted you with their email address. Now you need to nurture that relationship, provide mega value, and earn their full, unfaltering trust.

You owe them that much. If not, you risk total apathy, or worse…the dreaded unsubscribe.

This is where lead nurturing comes in.

 

Step 1: The Autoresponder

What happens when people opt into your email list? Like, as soon as they pop their address into your form.

If your answer is “nothing,” we need to have a little chat.

Our first order of business is setting up an autoresponder. This is simple enough to set up yourself through any email marketing service.

Basically, the point of the autoresponder is to:

  • Confirm to the subscriber that their submission went through
  • Welcome and thank them for signing up
  • Deliver whatever you promised you would (e.g., a freebie download, video, challenge, etc.)
  • Set expectations – that way they know how often they’ll hear from you and what kind of content they can expect

For example, my autoresponder is a short message welcoming new subscribers to what I call my V.I.P. list. They receive this immediately after sharing their email address with me, and it includes a link to my Resource Library (or other incentive).

The email also sets the tone for what they can expect from me, in terms of voice, content, and mailing frequency. In my post script, I mention a 3-part email series new subscribers will receive over the course of a few days.

My post script does a couple of things. First, it creates further exclusivity for my list. And second, it informs new V.I.P.s that the emails are part of a series—I don’t want people to think I’m a daily mailer (everyone is entitled to their opinion, but I find daily emails to be overwhelming).

Whew! That’s a lot to cover in a brief email, hey?

 

Step 2: The Exclusive Content

There’s no hard and fast rule saying you must have a 3-part email series; this is simply what I choose to do at this point in time. You can set up a 5-day challenge, a 4-part video series, one in-depth email, or any combination of exclusive content—it’s entirely up to you and what you feel fits your audience’s wants and needs.

Whatever you choose to do, the purpose is more or less the same: to “initiate” new subscribers into your brand.

This is the time to stand out above the email noise and establish a relationship.

Usually called a “welcome sequence,” my 3-part series serves to inspire and educate aspiring entrepreneurs about starting a business and fleeing the 9-to-5 grind. It also helps new V.I.P.s get to know me on a deeper level—that way I’ll stick in their hearts and brains!

Each part of the series packs value, too. I cover one sub-topic per email and link to one relevant blog post within the content. Should new subscribers choose to follow the link to my blog, they’ll begin familiarizing themselves with my brand (win!) and find yet more value (double win!!).

Everything you send your list needs to have VALUE. No ifs, ands, or buts. No value = mucho unsubscribes.

The first message in my series also reiterates to subscribers that they’re receiving an “exclusive series” and afterward, they can expect to hear from me about once a week when I send my newsletter.

Again, during lead nurturing, we’re setting expectations and building trust.

Step 3: The Newsletter

Once new subscribers complete my lead nurturing welcome sequence, they begin receiving my weekly newsletter (and any other offers that pop up on occasion).

Depending on which email marketing service you use, you may not be able to control whether new subscribers receive your regular mailing in the middle of their welcome sequence.

I use ConvertKit and take advantage of the tagging feature, which enables me to skip sending any emails to new V.I.P.s until “initiation” is complete (yes, I realize that sound cultish). That way, I avoid overwhelming or confusing newbies.

Quick note: If you use ConvertKit, or are interested in using it, I highly recommend Elizabeth Goddard’s blog to learn the ins-and-outs! This post is a super helpful place to start setting up automations and tagging.

With newsletters, I stick to the schedule I set forth in my lead nurturing series (for me, once a week). Don’t worry – you’re not locked into this cadence forever! You can always change things up later based on what works best for you and your tribe.

However, it’s important to stay consistent with the expectations you set. This is part of trust-building.

Remember, above all else, everything you send your list should provide value. But don’t get stuck on the idea that value only comes in the form of “how to” information. Sometimes a dose of inspiration is just what your list needs. Other times, they might benefit from a reassuring, relatable story. Value can be delivered in many ways—get to know your audience and give them what they want and need.

Consistency + Value = Loyalty

By now, I hope you see that you’re not bugging your list when you email them. On the contrary, you’re serving them. And that’s what business is all about, right?

Lead nurturing is essential to building a loyal tribe.

Being consistent establishes trust. Providing value builds credibility and respect. And sharing your unique views, stories, and insights makes you more likable and relatable.

All of these things help you stay in the forefront of your tribe members’ minds. When they’re in need of the services you provide, do you think they’ll go elsewhere in search of support?

Hell to the no.

They’re going to reach out to you. Because they like you. Because they already trust you. And because they know you’re going to massively deliver on your promises.

In fact, you’ll probably have people asking “How can I work with you?!” and saying “Please create a program on THAT!”

That’s loyalty in action. You can have it with your list, too. It all starts with deliberate, thoughtful lead nurturing.

Do you have an autoresponder set up? What about a welcome sequence? How often do you email your list? Let’s chat in the comments!

Want to find your voice so you can write emails that ROCK your tribe?

Nail your brand voice with my FREE Storytelling Dos & Don’ts cheat sheet!

LEARN MY 5-PART FRAMEWORK FOR OVERCOMING PROCRASTINATION!


Get The Procrastinator’s Masterclass totally FREE with coupon code. Stop dreaming about building your business and finally start doing. This exact process helped me take massive action, build a six-figure work-from-home business, and live life on my terms.

Hi, I'm Erin!

Hi, I'm Erin!

I help creatives flee the 9-5, build businesses they love, and live life on their terms.

FREE STUFF

Who doesn’t like goody bags? My FREE resource library will help you take action today!

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Looking for actionable advice? Hop over to the blog!

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Ready to launch your biz and live on your terms? Let’s get crackin’!

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Copyright 2016-2017 | Candidly Erin, LLC

How to Land Lucrative Freelance Projects with Zero Competition

How to Land Lucrative Freelance Projects with Zero Competition

“How do I stand out from the competition?” It’s a question frequently uttered by solopreneurs and business owners—and it’s a valid one. But I would like to propose a different question you should be asking altogether: “How can I find high-paying freelance projects without going up against any other bidders in the first place?”

Think I’ve lost my mind?

Well, I’m here to tell you it IS possible to find freelance gigs that nobody else is vying for. In fact, that’s the only way I work!

Before you start cursing me under your breath, you, too, can land lucrative freelance projects the same way.

And I’m going to show you exactly how.

Leggo.

 

Duh, Big Red Truck

This shouldn’t come as a surprise, but your best bet for landing great paying gigs is through building personal connections. In other words: networking.

Sorry to burst your bubble, but this “old fashioned” marketing method is alive and well!

Absolutely nothing else compares to establishing genuine relationships. When it comes to getting people to trust their business investments in your hands (and handing over their hard earned dollars), having a rapport already established makes their decision easy.

 

Where Do I Start?

I get it. Networking isn’t always a favorite approach among us creatives. Indeed, there are many introverts among us. Plus, networking just seems like a huge undertaking that’s going to take forever to get rolling, right?

Wrong.

My first lucrative consulting gig came from one LinkedIn message. ONE.

That contract alone enabled me to quit my 9-5 day job. So what’s my secret?

I explored my personal network and took notice of what various contacts were up to. One previous colleague in particular was doing interesting work with technology startups. My day job had me writing content for the tech arena.

No brainer. I shot him a message saying, “Hey! Love following your updates. I see you’re working with some cool companies at ‘Startup Incubator.’ I’m offering copywriting and marketing services on a freelance basis. If any of the startups need marketing help, I’d love to connect and share some insights.”

I’m paraphrasing, of course. This was years ago and I don’t remember the message exactly, but you get the point.

He got back to me quickly and introduced me to a friend of his who needed digital marketing help. His friend and I chatted about how we might work together.

And we did end up working together. For years.

Bottom line: Start with your personal network. Friends, family, colleagues. Let them know what you’re up to and ask if they might know of anyone you might be able to help. Don’t think you have the “right kind” of network, or that it’s big enough?

Nonsense.

I’m going to sound like a broken record, as I’ve said this before, but you never know who your contacts know.

RELATED: Is Fear of Self-Promotion Getting in the Way? How to Get Over It and Finally Start Growing Your Business

 

You Landed a Big Freelance Project, now what?

Now you need to ROCK your project. It goes without saying that you should never half-ass your work, but in the early days of freelancing, it’s especially important to leave a stellar impression.

Why? Because landing freelance gigs with zero competition depends on referrals and word-of-mouth marketing.

You know the old adage, people do business with those they know, like, and trust? Word-of-mouth gives you a serious leg-up. Referrals and recommendations go a long way in building a sustainable business.

Besides, you should also be angling for recurring work. If you enjoy the client, and the pay is great, don’t you want to keep working with them? Deliver like a superstar and you’ll be their go-to freelancer.

In fact, just recently I completed a project for the same person who hired me for the digital marketing efforts a few years back…but at his new place of employment.

See, that’s the beauty of building relationships. They don’t have to dissolve when your contact changes jobs. They might just bring you along!

Pro tip: When you finish a project, and the client is on Cloud Nine because of the amazing job you did, send a nice wrap-up email long with the invoice. Thank them for the opportunity to work together, tell them how much you enjoyed it…then ask for referrals! If they’re blown away by your services, they’ll happily oblige.

Your networking efforts will snowball. I just landed another great gig (with a new client I’m super excited to work with) thanks to someone else I met on a completely different project.

The best part?

I wasn’t up against any other freelancers! Nope. Someone had a need, mentioned it to a friend, that friend referred them to me, we clicked, and BAM, new project.

 

When Your Network isn’t Panning Out

In all fairness, sometimes tapping your network doesn’t produce a plethora of freelance projects. (Have you fully explored every potential lead, though? Be honest.)

If this is the case for you, all hope is not lost! You can still find fantastic gigs without any competition.

The first thing you’ll want to do is steer clear of freelance job boards. Everyone and their dog is applying for those gigs. Besides, they usually don’t fall in the “lucrative” category anyway.

Instead, start pitching potential clients directly. This can be done with cold emailing, cold calling, or on social media networks, to name a few options.

If you just about shit your pants at the mention of “cold calling,” don’t worry, you don’t have to use that tactic. I’ve never made a single cold call in my business.

Me? I’m a writer, so connecting via email or direct messaging is my jam.

What I do: Research companies in my niche(s), make a list of those I’d like to work with (or that look like they could use some marketing help), dig around the internet (or LinkedIn) to identify contacts at those companies, and send each of them a brief introduction.

Note that I don’t start pitching them right away. I don’t give them my rates, or say “I propose to write for your blog once a week,” or anything along those lines.

Quite simply, I’m attempting to create a connection and start building a rapport. Hm, where have you heard this before?

You can also start following and engaging with prospects on Twitter or Instagram. Request to connect on LinkedIn.

Aim for making acquaintances; paid opportunities will follow.

RELATED: How to Find Clients for Your Brand New Business

 

The Long(er) Game

Admittedly, this option can take a little longer. Nonetheless, it’s a great way to get freelance projects to land in your lap while completely bypassing the competition.

I’m talking about blogging and beefing up your LinkedIn profile.

Side note: Other social channels can help you land gigs, too, but LinkedIn is a network of professionals, and an obvious choice for freelance service providers.

Building your online presence is a great way to draw clients to YOU, instead of the other way around. Sharing your tips and insights online will highlight your professionalism and expertise in a way that directly pitching yourself cannot.

Think about it as humble bragging, but not nearly so annoying.

Keep in mind, you need to produce quality content so you’re truly presenting yourself in the best light, and you must be consistent to gain momentum, boost SEO, and show up in front of the right people at all times.

Don’t just take my word for it. One of the leading market research companies, Forrester, says consistency creates a trusted brand. Remember what people do when they know, like, and trust you? They BUY from you!

Do this: Regularly share quality content that shows people you’re an expert in your field and clients will come knocking on your virtual door.

 

Put Yo’self Out There

Most of these tips are things you can implement right now in an effort to find more clients and land lucrative freelance projects with zero competition.

Even if your efforts don’t bear fruit immediately, you’ve planted the seed. People are now aware of your endeavors and you’ll be the first to pop into their minds when they come across someone who needs exactly what you have to offer.

Here’s the cherry on top (that’s enough fruit metaphors for today, folks): The marketing methods mentioned in this post are some of the easiest and cheapest ways to secure work!

Tell me, have you landed high-paying freelance projects without bidding against anyone else? What’s been your most successful marketing method to date? I’d love to hear from you!

LEARN MY 5-PART FRAMEWORK FOR OVERCOMING PROCRASTINATION!


Get The Procrastinator’s Masterclass totally FREE with coupon code. Stop dreaming about building your business and finally start doing. This exact process helped me take massive action, build a six-figure work-from-home business, and live life on my terms.

Hi, I'm Erin!

Hi, I'm Erin!

I help creatives flee the 9-5, build businesses they love, and live life on their terms.

FREE STUFF

Who doesn’t like goody bags? My FREE resource library will help you take action today!

BLOG

Looking for actionable advice? Hop over to the blog!

COURSES

Ready to launch your biz and live on your terms? Let’s get crackin’!

FREE STUFF

Who doesn’t like goody bags? My FREE resource library will help you take action today!

Copyright 2016-2017 | Candidly Erin, LLC

5 Incredible TED Talks that Will Make You a Better Entrepreneur

5 Incredible TED Talks that Will Make You a Better Entrepreneur

There’s a lot of advice out there to help you build a business. From content marketing tips, to social media strategies, to networking techniques and beyond. And I’ve done my fair share of reading and researching these very topics in order to become a better entrepreneur.

The truth is, though, there’s so much more to building a successful business than the tactical and operational stuff.

Like what, you ask?

This may get a few grumbles.

Things like…

…mindset.

…purpose.

…confidence.

I know that’s not what you want to hear when you’re trying to get your business off the ground, but these things seriously matter!

When I first started building my freelance business, I wanted strategy, I wanted an action plan, and I wanted to figure out all the nuts and bolts.

Don’t get me wrong—those things are important, too. But little did I know how much doing those things depended on alllll the other stuff: the mindset work, the drive, the commitment.

As I work on scaling my freelance business into something bigger, I’ve been doing a lot of work in those areas myself.

Here are 5 TED Talks I’ve found to be insanely inspiring and valuable, and hope you do, too.

 

How Great Leaders Inspire Action, by Simon Sinek

First off, you just have to love Simon Sinek. The guy presents ideas so clearly and compellingly. Secondly, this is such a fantastic talk to watch early in your business brainstorming days, or even later if you’re feeling stuck or uninspired.

Simon says we should start with our “why,” and provides a pretty convincing argument for doing so. Not only that, he shows you how and gives plenty of examples using famous thought leaders. I don’t know about you, but I LOVE examples for better understanding theories.

If you want to build a business you love and that you’re excited to wake up to work on every day, check out his TED Talk.

 

The Power of Vulnerability, by Brené Brown

I know, I know. “Vulnerability” is a hot button word these days. Everyone seems to be throwing it around: be more vulnerable; vulnerability is the key to success. And, of course, there are people on the other side saying “SHUT UP ALREADY ABOUT VULNERABILITY.”

If I’m being completely honest, I get both sides.

But I have to say, if you’re curious about all this vulnerability business, this TED Talk by Brené Brown is THE place to start. As entertaining as it is informative, Brené takes you through her research of human connection to help you understand what makes people “whole.”

Sound a bit mushy for you? I dare you to give it a watch anyway. It might just make you a more successful AND fulfilled entrepreneur and human.

 

Your Body Language May Shape Who You Are, by Amy Cuddy

Totally fun and backed up with lots of studies, Amy Cuddy show you exactly how body language can make you more or less successful. Even better, you can take the information she shares and start using it right away in your own life.

Different poses and ways of sitting, for example, can make you more confident and empowered. As an entrepreneur, you’re going to want to hone these skills so you can rock your business and increase your chances of success.

Don’t worry, this TED Talk isn’t just a step-by-step lesson in body language. Amy embellishes the performance with personal anecdotes and fun examples. Check it out and see for yourself!

 

The Puzzle of Motivation, by Dan Pink

Okay, Dan Pink is pretty funny, so this TED Talk is definitely an entertaining watch. However, what I love even more is that Dan dives into what motivates people—again, backed by numerous studies—and it’s not what you’d guess.

I don’t want to spoil the talk, so I won’t say too much, except that if you’re reading my blog, you probably have a creative mind and an independent spirit that, combined, make you crave entrepreneurship and dread the stifling 9-5.

In which case, Dan’s TED Talk is really going to resonate with you.

 

Inside the Mind of a Procrastinator, by Tim Urban

Ah, alas we come to what may be my all-time favorite TED Talk. Why? Well, it’s threefold, really.

One, this guy is hilarious and buzzing with energy. It’s hard not to get caught up in Tim Urban’s talk for those reasons alone. Two, he runs a super fun, successful blog, which…come on…that’s damn inspiring. And three, it’s all about procrastination, and that’s kind of my jam.

I mean, I’m a recovering procrastinator, and I’m only half joking. If you know what it’s like to slip farther and farther into the “I’ll do it tomorrow” rut, you’re all too familiar with the horrible ways chronic procrastination can impact your life.

Can you relate? If so, I highly recommend checking out Tim’s TED Talk. You might also consider signing up for my free Procrastinator’s Masterclass! Details below.

LEARN MY 5-PART FRAMEWORK FOR OVERCOMING PROCRASTINATION!


Get The Procrastinator’s Masterclass totally FREE with coupon code. Stop dreaming about building your business and finally start doing. This exact process helped me take massive action, build a six-figure work-from-home business, and live life on my terms.

Of course, it’s vital to learn the nuts and bolts of business and get systems in place for the all-important pieces like your website, contracts, and marketing strategies. But don’t make the mistake of overlooking the less tangible stuff—the stuff that empowers you to deal with unexpected challenges, persist through daily ups and downs, and beat back the notorious business killer: self-doubt.

There are tons of ways to glean the knowledge and insights you’re looking for to grow your business, including other TED Talks, books, and mentoring. Choose your favorite medium, or a combination of them, and start working that mental muscle.

What’s your all-time favorite TED Talk? Don’t have one? Share a book instead. I’d love to hear from you so I can check out some new brain-building material!

Hi, I'm Erin!

Hi, I'm Erin!

I help creatives flee the 9-5, build businesses they love, and live life on their terms.

FREE STUFF

Who doesn’t like goody bags? My FREE resource library will help you take action today!

BLOG

Looking for actionable advice? Hop over to the blog!

COURSES

Ready to launch your biz and live on your terms? Let’s get crackin’!

FREE STUFF

Who doesn’t like goody bags? My FREE resource library will help you take action today!

Copyright 2016-2017 | Candidly Erin, LLC

“Your Vibe Attracts Your Tribe”: Here’s How to Unlock Your Personal Brand

“Your Vibe Attracts Your Tribe”: Here’s How to Unlock Your Personal Brand

Ah, the personal brand. You know the drill. “Build it and they will come.” And it’s simple, too, apparently. I mean, you hear it everywhere: your vibe attracts your tribe. Sounds easy enough, right? All you have to do is get your vibe right and you’ll find your personal brand!

So we set out to convey the vibe we think people want, the vibe we believe people will connect with. When we do this, though, it’s often forced, and people can sense that.

Then do you know what happens? It comes across as inauthentic. It doesn’t attract your tribe. In fact, it probably repels them.

Harsh? Maybe, but it’s true nonetheless!

If you’re trying too hard to project a particular vibe, chances are it’s not authentic.

Let me tell you a short story. Not too long ago, I was struggling to find my personal brand. I kept trying to “design” it; I’d write out what I thought I was trying to communicate to my target audience, identify my ideal clients, and refine my niche. Then refine, refine, and refine some more.

It was struggle central. Writing what you think others want to hear, in the way they want to hear it—that shit’s not easy! It’s also not effective. And more importantly, it’s no fun.

Do you want to know what finally turned things around for me?

A Facebook group. But not in the way you’re probably thinking.

Nope, I didn’t find some amazing insight from a group member, or download a freebie all about personal branding. Not even close.

Here’s what actually happened.

 

Learning What Not to Do

I saw post after post of the same exact kind of content. The same long-form, feel good, inspirational posts flooded with butterfly and heart emojis. Oftentimes, this kind of post is accompanied by a picture of a young lady bathed in sunlight, working happily on her laptop outdoors in a flowing white dress with perfectly manicured nails.

You know the type of post I’m talking about, right?

“Drop your favorite emoji in the comments and I’ll show you how you can live a perfect life like mine!”

Ugh.

At first, these posts made me feel like crap. I kept thinking, jeez, this doesn’t resonate with me at all. I don’t fit in here.

Then I had an epiphany: so fucking what?

If this doesn’t resonate with me, then THIS ISN’T MY TRIBE. Simple as that.

Instead of feeling shitty about not “fitting in,” embrace it. You’re not a misfit; those just aren’t your peeps.

I don’t mean to offend anyone, and I’m not saying these posts don’t work. Not to mention, I certainly use my fair share of emojis *insert monkey emoji here*

What I am saying is that if you feel you have to mimic a certain flavor of self-promotion, yet you find yourself rolling your eyes at it, then you shouldn’t be using it.

That’s not your vibe.

That’s not your tribe.

And it’s most definitely not your personal brand.

Here’s how to discover your true identity and unleash your REAL personal brand:

 

Find Your Authentic Self

I know, the word “authentic” is thrown around so much these days that you might be wondering “what the hell does it really mean to be authentic?”

Let’s go on a little adventure, shall we? I want you to use your imagination and really go through each exercise (bear with me, you won’t even break a sweat).

First, picture yourself in a professional setting—at work or in an interview. How do you behave? What are you wearing? What kind of language do you use? How are you sitting?

Okay, now imagine you’re with friends. Either hanging out playing games, eating lunch, or attending a shindig. How do you act now? What kind of clothing have you chosen? How do you speak, and what is your body language like?

Finally, pretend you’re with your family. You’re surrounded by your siblings, and maybe your favorite cousins. What does your behavior look like? How are you dressed? How are you speaking? Where are you sitting?

Of course, we have different personas for all the areas of our lives. We know how to code switch, if you want the academic term. In each scenario, you undoubtedly act, look, speak, and behave differently.

When I’m with family, I am all out ridiculously silly and c-r-a-z-y weird. I tell stupid jokes, make faces I’d never let anyone else see, physically and verbally abuse my brothers (all in good fun, of course), and otherwise act like a total buffoon that heaven forbid the world ever be subjected to.

That is my most authentic self, in the deepest, most profound sense of the term. And with every level of lesser intimacy—friends, coworkers, bosses—I hide a bit more of my truest self and become my more socially acceptable self.

This brings me to my next point.

 

Let Your Crazy Out

Note that I’m not talking about a real estate agent or lawyer, for example, trying to build their reputation. And I’m not saying you shouldn’t take your business seriously and be professional in ways that really matter (i.e., delivering on your promises, being timely, being reliable and trustworthy, etc.). Essentially, use common sense and practice business with integrity.

But as a writer, blogger, or other creative, your personal brand should be a reflection of your shining, awesome, pure you-ness.

It may sound corny, but personal branding is partially about loving and respecting exactly who you are and how you show up in the world. So you like D&D but you’re afraid that’s “too nerdy” for the tribe you want to attract?

Consider this: do you want to hang around people who would judge you for your passions? The things that give you joy and light you up?

Let it all out. So you’re a crazy cat lady, or you have a penchant for erotica? I can guarantee you’re not the only one.

Do you know what’s going to happen when you let your crazy out? You’re going to have like-minded people swarming to you like flies to…honey…let’s go with honey.

This is what “your vibe attracts your tribe” really means. You ARE your personal brand, so, baby, let it alllll hang out.

 

Stop Trying to Please Everyone

Have you ever noticed how viral social media stars have a massive following of die-hard fans, but if you read the comments under their posts, they often have A LOT of critics as well? Some people downright hate them.

And there’s this weird, ongoing battle between fans and haters; the haters spew insults and talk about how lame and unfunny (or worse) the public figure is, and the fans come to their rescue, “why do you watch them, then?”

It’s a fair question, and I’m sure there’s sound psychological reasoning behind it, but that’s not the point here.

The point is, you’re NEVER going to be loved by everyone, and if that’s your intention, you probably won’t achieve much success at all. Why? Because people need to feel deeply, passionately, and unequivocally connected to you. And they can’t feel that way if you’re trying so hard to please everyone and offend no one that you’re about as bland as a loaf of Wonderbread.

Be the multigrain variety: unique, hearty, full of surprises, and maybe a little nutty.

Not everybody likes multigrain, but those who do are loyal AF and would never mess with that refined crap.

(Anybody else getting hungry?)

 

Embrace Your Unique Voice

Now that you’ve identified your authentic self, you’re willing to be nutso/prude/crude/whatever floats your boat, and don’t give a flying fuck what others think of you, it’s time to cultivate your true voice.

Love puns? Tweet ‘em. Cuss like a sailor? Don’t hold back. Think you’re a comedic genius? I’ll be the judge of that.

But seriously, run with whatever you’ve got. What do people always tell you they love about you? I know I have a few catchphrases because my friends point them out to me!

Try this: how would you talk to your sister or childhood BFF? If you’re a total goofball when you’re completely unfiltered, don’t try to sound like a stuffy financial advisor online. If you’re one of those sweeter-than-cotton-candy types, don’t try to sound edgy because you think that’s what “works.” The opposite is also true.

Write and speak online as if you were having a convo with your best buds—the way you REALLY talk when you’re being your truest self. That’s the ticket to finding your voice and brand.

No matter where you’re building your platform—Facebook, your blog, YouTube—embrace what makes you YOU. Let your authentic voice burst from the screen (or speakers). Be the crazy you’d be around your family. Or, you know, at least close to that. Some manners and tact are required!

 

Deep Breath, Put Yourself Out There

Personal branding, for many, is a discovery process. You have to start putting yourself out there and see what you gravitate toward. It’s like writing – the more you do it, the more you discover about yourself, your beliefs, and your voice.

Stop looking at what everyone else is doing.

Don’t worry what other people are saying or how they’re saying it.

I’m the happiest and most whole when I am my absolute true, no-holds-barred self. And I have a feeling you will be, too.

As a creative solopreneur trying to make your mark in this insanely crowded online world, you’re going to want to the truest version of you that you possibly can be.

Take a deep breath, stop doubting yourself already, and post that damn Instagram caption rife with you-ness.

Watch your vibe attract your tribe.

Want to find your voice AND your tribe?

Nail your brand with my FREE Storytelling Dos & Don’ts cheat sheet!

Have you found your authentic self and nailed your voice? Or are you still in the discovery process? How would you describe your personal brand? Let’s get the comment party started!

Hi, I'm Erin!

Hi, I'm Erin!

I help creatives flee the 9-5, build businesses they love, and live life on their terms.

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Copyright 2016-2017 | Candidly Erin, LLC

Your New Year’s Goals Will Probably Fail: Develop this Business Growth Mindset Instead

Your New Year’s Goals Will Probably Fail: Develop this Business Growth Mindset Instead

Is your New Year’s resolution to finally launch your business and achieve the entrepreneurial success and freedom you know you deserve? Sorry to burst your bubble, but research shows you’re probably going to fail. Not because you’re not capable, but because New Year’ goals rarely pan out in the long-run.

Now, I know this isn’t a fitness blog, but bear with me for a minute. There are two types of gym-goers: those who go consistently all year long, and those who go hard every January for a few months before seemingly dropping off the face of the planet until the following year.

If you’re in the first group, or if you work in the fitness industry, you see (and dread) this pattern. Gyms are PACKED in January, still busier than usual in February, and almost completely back to normal by March.

What gives?

New Year’s, duh!

Swarms of people have resolved to lose weight, eat better, and finally get that bikini body or those chiseled abs. But guess what? Most of these people don’t last. They fail at achieving their goals. And not only do they fail, but they fail year after year. They get stuck in an unproductive cycle: new year, same goal.

 

Doesn’t it suck to never fulfill your dreams?

I’ve never been a New Year’s resolution girl, myself. But I have set many goals and failed at them miserably. I’ve started more businesses than I care to admit, but most of them never got past the planning phase.

Something that would happen in my life would inspire me to make a change. Maybe I had a particularly shitty week in my shitty 9-5 and I’d proclaim “That’s it! I’m starting my business and getting out of this hell hole!” Or maybe my bank account was running on ‘E’ and I had bills piling up. I’d think, I wouldn’t be in this position if only I had my own successful business.

See, I was letting some outside factor—some moment in time—motivate me to start. And that’s okay, except that I’d start off strong, but all too soon my progress would taper off. My business dreams would dwindle and I’d be back in the same old rut until something else would happen and spur me into action. Something HAD to change.

Motivation is a wonderful thing. But what I lacked was discipline.

 

Without discipline, motivation takes you nowhere

Think about riding a bike. When you’re going downhill, everything is great. You’re coasting along with ease, wind in your hair, feeling the rush of the building speed as you effortlessly make your way to the bottom of the grade.

But what’s that ahead?

A GIANT uphill stretch. You’ve gained some momentum, so this shouldn’t be too bad… But partway up, you begin to lose that momentum and you’re slowing waaay down. In order to reach the summit, you have to be willing to put in work. You have to pedal hard and fast. It takes energy, it takes willpower, and it might even be painful.

Maybe you have to get off your bike and walk it to the top. It’s slower, and it totally sucks that someone else made it up that hill with apparent ease, but you’ll still make it.

What you DON’T want to do is get off your bike, call your friend, whine about how hard it is, and have her pick you up and drive you home.

 

The hard truth

That was always my problem: dreaming about and planning a business was easy—it was like coasting downhill. But doing all the hard bits—overcoming fear, dealing with rejection, facing the unknown—that required discipline. I didn’t want to hurt! I didn’t want to lose sleep, give up social time with my friends, or sacrifice a movie night with my husband.

So maybe my j.o.b. hadn’t been that horrible for the past few weeks or I’d get all caught up on my bills. Those externally motivating factors weren’t enough to keep me pushing forward, so I’d slowly let go of my goals. I’d get to it…someday.

Remember those January gym-goers? That’s their problem, too. “New Year, New You!” A fresh start. A moment in time that motivates them to “get in shape.” But as the weeks go on, they realize they don’t want to lose that hour of sleep to hit the gym before work. Or they don’t want to give up those greasy goodies at happy hour with their colleagues—it’s just too hard watching everyone else eat that stuff while they eat a salad. The motivation of New Year’s fades away, and they’re back to their old habits.

The good news is, with the right mindset and enough practice, you can create new, more productive habits.

 

How to become a self-discipline master

You can’t rely on motivation forever—it’s fleeting. For long-term business success, self-discipline is non-negotiable. If it seems completely elusive to you, though, I have a few things you can start practicing TODAY to help ensure you’ll make it past your sticking point and accomplish your goals.

Related: Gain Control of Your Life and Business – How to Start Taking Massive Action

1. Become a schedule bitch.

Set goals and deadlines…and post them EVERYWHERE. Write them on a calendar, buy a daily planner, put them in your phone and set alerts and reminders. Planning is key. When I first started doing this, I felt so ridiculous scheduling my entire life. But OMFG did it make all the difference. Every time my phone buzzed and I saw just one to-do task for that hour, life didn’t seem so overwhelming. Planning and execution leads to habit-making. And habits are crucial to creating real, long-term change.

Take it a step further by writing motivational blurbs with your alerts. For example, if you want to get up early to write a blog post, set your alarm description to something that will help you leave the comfort of your warm bed. Find what motivates you—whether you need inspiration or a more aggressive form of persuasion (GET OUT OF BED YOU LAZY FAILURE!).

Okay, no negative self-talk, but you get the idea. Become your own drill sergeant and reap the many rewards. A kick in the ass doesn’t hurt for that long, but it definitely helps you get shit done.

2. Share your goals.

Share them with friends, family, and anyone who will listen. Putting your dreams out there will not only create a support network, but it will help hold you accountable as well. Once you share your goals with others, you are more driven to achieve them. Sometimes it’s a matter of pride, other times it’s about not disappointing someone important to you.

I will offer this warning, though: if there’s somebody who’s always trying to bring you down, know that if you share your goals with this person, they will likely poo poo your ideas and generally try to make you doubt yourself. Gosh, aren’t frienemies the worst?

If you can look past their naysaying—if proving them wrong actually drives you—then go for it. Share away. But if the added drama stresses you out, or their words DO affect your confidence, perhaps it’s best not to include them in discussions about your life and business goals.

3. Stop striving for perfection.

Easier said than done, you say? No, it’s not. There’s no such thing as perfect, so just push send on that email pitch to a potential client already. Do it now. Oh, you think if you tweak the headline just a bit more it will guarantee a response?

Do you know what will guarantee NO response? If you never send the damn thing!

Are you still waffling? (Mmm, waffles – apologies to you New Year’s dieters out there.) I’m going to be a hard ass and crush your dreams right now: you will never succeed in business if you don’t take action before you feel “ready.” One of my favorite pieces of entrepreneurial advice goes something like this: if you wait until you’re ready, it’s already too late. You’ll either never feel ready, or someone else who took a chance will beat you to the punch.

4. Create your own motivation.

Find ways to continually motivate yourself, since we know that is what drives us initially. Don’t let external factors that you don’t have control over be your only sources of motivation. Do you want to earn enough money from your business to buy a house? Great. Slap up a picture of your dream house on the fridge. Want to live a location independent lifestyle? Hell yeah, we all do. Post pictures of your top travel destinations around your house so you’re constantly reminded of where you “could be” if you take action now.

I worked with a woman once who was saving money to travel across Asia practicing yoga and martial arts. We worked in a super shitty job—boring, low pay, old boys club type of place.  She had a map of Asia and several pictures in her cubicle to remind her why she was there and to spend/save her money wisely.

And you know what? She did it.

She had to delay her plans a bit (because I quit and she had to find and train my replacement – oops!), but she accomplished what she set out to do. We don’t want to rely solely on outside motivation, but we can create our own to keep us pushing forward, to keep us disciplined.

5. Tell yourself you can.

Want some woo woo? Here goes: spend just a few minutes browsing successful people’s social media profiles or blogs. Preferably people in the same field or niche you want to succeed in. Don’t spend more than 15 minutes doing this, otherwise you’ll just be wasting time and probably become overwhelmed comparing yourself to where they are now. Remember, they were once just starting out, too. Now ask yourself: if they can do it, why can’t I?

I used to read so. damn. many. blogs from people I admired and think:

Yeah, I already know this.

Or

Sure, but that’s not the only way to do it.

Or

Gosh, this person has such bad grammar, and look how successful they are!

Then it clicked – if I already have tons of knowledge in this area, or if I know of other ways to do what they’re doing, then holy crap, I do have something to offer! And I sure as shit know I can write better than that person, so if bad grammar isn’t stopping them from achieving their dreams, what the hell am I doing with my life? (Side note: No judgement for the bad grammarians out there, I’m just making the point that you don’t have to be “perfect” to be successful.)

Go look at yourself in the mirror and tell yourself you’re a badass. You’re intelligent, you’re capable, and you have so much to offer. See? Woo woo. But it’s a proven confidence booster!

 

Moral of the story

Don’t be like the January gym-goers and let your dreams fade into the background. Don’t let New Year’s traditions or a shit week or an empty bank account be your only sources of motivation. If you want to see serious business growth this year, get focused on what you want for the long-haul and start practicing self-discipline today.

Want to learn to how to set goals you’ll actually follow through on?

Download my Do the Damn Thing Goal-Setting Worksheet!

Are you a habitual starter who lacks the discipline required to make it to the finish line? What is your sticking point? I’d love to hear from you in the comments!

Hi, I'm Erin!

Hi, I'm Erin!

I help creatives flee the 9-5, build businesses they love, and live life on their terms.

FREE STUFF

Who doesn’t like goody bags? My FREE resource library will help you take action today!

BLOG

Looking for actionable advice? Hop over to the blog!

COURSES

Ready to launch your biz and live on your terms? Let’s get crackin’!

FREE STUFF

Who doesn’t like goody bags? My FREE resource library will help you take action today!

Copyright 2016-2017 | Candidly Erin, LLC

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