Client Relationships — What to Do When Things Go Wrong (FS220)

If you work with clients directly there’s a very good chance you’re going to have to deal with some shitty situations.

  • Clients asking for late refunds
  • Clients delaying payment for waaaaaaay too long
  • Customers leaving bad reviews on Yelp, Etsy or something like it
  • Clients changing requirements in the middle of a project
  • Client taking forever to get back to you, stopping your progress, and preventing you from finishing and getting paid
  • Clients ending up completely unhappy with the work

On the podcast episode and article below we walk you through several steps to try to alleviate your client blowouts.

And we go one very necessary step further and help you understand steps you can take to keep blowouts like this from happening!

Enjoy!

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“Client relationships — what to do when things go wrong ”


How to fix a client blowout:

1. Take a step back and go into “triage” mode. Be crystal clear in communication. Double and triple repeat what they're saying and what you're saying. Communication probably got you into this mess, maybe it can get you out. You want to prove that you're listening. Triage mode really means, just get your nerves up to go above and beyond for a little bit… as much as you’re able. We’re not gonna degrade ourselves, but if it’s worth it to try to work this out, then goddamit let’s try hard to do so.

Lots more on that one in the podcast conversation. Don’t miss it, FYI. These notes are just a few of the gems we land on.

2. Go above and beyond to truly empathize and show the customer you hear what they’re saying. start your sentiment with, “ugh, I would hate it if that happened to me." Empathy takes your guard down a little bit and helps you meet in the middle, but also this helps you hear your client much better. A bad client interaction can derail your whole quarter, so this is well worth it. Do not get defensive. It's easy for the defense wall to go up. Steph's #1 tool for that is not taking things personally. So easy to put your hands up and say "it wasn't me!" Don't get into this situation, it puts you on your heels, does your clients a disservice and will not lead you to an equitable agreement to solve this problem.

3. Some clients are just bad. How much do you want to fight back? Maybe you should just move on to the next. How much effort do you want to put in to save this relationship? At some point you might realize "I don't want to work with this client at all." Acknowledge and move on.

4. Leverage… do you have any? Deliverables? Sometimes you are the biggest "asset" to the customer because it's hard to find another great whatever-you-are. Sometimes you have to sell them again in the middle of the project, reselling the benefits, reselling the vision. This is where all that marketing and selling you learned in the Fizzle Roadmap comes into play — how well do you know their objectives, desires, fears, etc? Because now you need to remind them why you’re their Wonder Woman.

5. "If I do this will you be happy?" This is a simple trick you can use to get the conversation to a point where all their desires are turned into a statement like, “OK, I’m hearing you say X, Y and Z. I understand completely. If I do this [fill in the blank], will you be happy?” We’re trying to be crystal clear here, giving the client a concrete, literal expression of “here is what you’re going to get and you say you’re going to be happy with that.” (Only promise deliverables and dates, not results)

6. I've heard of people having success getting an attorney to send a threat letter. Requires money tho. But also, please know that at this point you’re likely going to be burning bridges; no repeat business, no great referrals. You want to get paid for something they withheld payment for? What's it gonna cost? What's the likelihood that you'll actually get paid. Check out this killer little tool from And.co for making your clients feel there’s a real law firm supporting you.

7. I don't even think going to court is an option for most of us.


Prevention is better! How to prevent client blowouts:

  1. Learning how to pick the right clients… Tons of insight in this in Book Yourself Solid. One thing you can do is take inventory of all your clients and give them grades. What do the great clients have in common? What do the dud clients have in common? Sometimes doing a consultation is such a helpful step to add to your process to be sure that this client is a fit BOTH WAYS.
  2. Doctor your process… Not necessarily how you use things but documenting the steps involved in delivering your project, or even documenting the steps to getting a customer to signup. There's a lot that can go wrong with a project that doesn't have a plan, a roadmap; you don't know what to expect and they don't know what to expect. And then you want to refine that process over time, massaging it as you take every client through it. This process is, in a very real sense, your business!
  3. Turn pro on your communication… You've got to be absolutely ON POINT with communication, namely, email. Be very clear about what action you want them to take at the beginning of the email and at the end; don't bury it somewhere in the middle! These kinds of things are more critical than ever. And it should be stated: the more comfortable you are with the phone, the better. The phone is for action, baby!
  4. Implement a killer client agreement… This one grows and changes with you over time. That’s how you know it’s killer. You've got to have crystal clear agreements… who's paying, how much, for what, when? There should also be specificity around how the client reviews the work, what happens when the client reviews the work, how long do they have to review the work, what number of revisions are allowed, etc.
  5. Have some rainy day contingency protection… You gotta keep some money in the bank for late payments, crazy clients, etc. You don't know what's gonna happen in freelance world.

Hope you enjoyed this episode and this conversation! Thanks for being here y’all. And if you haven’t SUBSCRIBE to the podcast because it’s the most real conversation in business going on right now!

from Fizzle https://fizzle.co/sparkline/client-relationships-things-go-wrong-fs220
via My Media Pal NYC

How to Create a Fail-proof Mastermind Group

How to Create a Fail-proof Mastermind Group

We know you’ve heard it before (um, even from us) — you should join a mastermind group, also known as a group of 4-6 people who meet about every two weeks to give each other advice and hold one another accountable to big goals.

It’s kind of a no brainer, isn’t it? We all know that trying to do it all alone as an entrepreneur is a recipe for eventually giving up when the going gets tough. So to join forces with people who get what you’re doing, who you can bounce ideas off of — it’s basically a way to build an informal board of advisors into your business.

We’ve already written all about masterminds, what they are and how to find them. So for today’s conversation, we’re approaching this from a new angle.

We’re focusing on the pitfalls: why groups fizzle out before they really get off the wrong, how even groups with the best of intentions might set themselves up to fail, and how to build yours strong from the start to avoid losing steam.

Listen to this podcast episode if you want deeper insights

We get to go deeper in our episodes of the Fizzle show, sharing personal stories and more to really get these ideas taking root in you. Enjoy!

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Wrong mix of people

Having the wrong cast of characters in your group is one of the number one reasons masterminds fail.

You could be in a group of people who all like each other and would love to grab beers together, but aren’t really set up to be each other’s strategists and accountability partners.

So how can we insure we’ve got a mix of people who will gel? Coming up with a criteria for your group will set you up to select qualified members.

If you’re organizing a group, we recommend seeking people who are in a similar business stage. It’s totally cool if one of you is a food blogger, one is a personal finance podcaster, and yet another is a personal trainer.

The bigger questions is, are you roughly in the same inning of this whole thing? Is one person so far behind the rest of the group, he or she might feel too new? Or is there someone way ahead of the game who would really be more like a mentor than a peer?

Great markers for business stage are email list and revenue. If everyone in the group is in the same general neighborhood when it comes to audience size, that’s a good indication that you can help each other. There will always be some diversity in the group (which is great!) but the idea is to find peers who are just about even with you so far.

Wrong format

A mastermind group needs strong but balanced ground rules. If there’s no structure, an hour goes by really fast and you might just find yourselves “catching up” as friends. That sounds fun, but not exactly productive.

It also helps to have someone to keep the meeting on track and manage the time. This person isn’t a group dictator or even a leader as much as an *organizer* or secretary who is charged with making sure things stay mostly on track.

We’ve found that most successful groups seem to do some version of:

  • Highs & Lows: Each person in the group takes just a minute or two to share what’s gone well and what hasn’t gone as well in the time since the group last met.
  • Hot Seat: This is the real meat & potatoes of the meeting. A “hot seat” is basically a strategy session focused entirely on one person’s business. The person in the hot seat brings specific questions and roadblocks, while the rest of the group gives feedback.
  • Commitments: The meeting ends with each member committing to a very specific task he or she needs to make progress on before the group gets together again.
  • Staying connected between meetings: Most successful groups choose to say in touch between meetings so members can get quick feedback and cheer each other on. Use Facebook groups, Slack, email, etc.

No accountability

One of the primary reasons to join a mastermind group is for the accountability — aka, to help you actually make progress and do what you said you would. If weekly commitments aren’t spoken and then captured, they disappear (and you’ll likely forget.)

Mastermind Groups can accelerate your growth, but only if they fulfill their main purpose: keeping you on track.

One game-changing mastermind tip is to have the group secretary jot down a few keywords summarizing each person’s commitment. These notes should be posted to the group’s communication channel of choice for everyone to see (and therefore, making you much more likely to actually do it!)

Inconsistency

This may be the number one reason groups fail. When people start skipping meeting, or if they aren’t set up in advance, the group will quickly fizzle out.

We know there are real challenges here, such as time zone conflicts, family commitments, day jobs and more. But since inconsistency is such a mastermind killer, the group should commit to some amount of time to really go “all in”.

For example, when my podcasting mastermind group started meeting a few months ago, our organizer said, “Okay, if we’re doing this, we all have to fully commit for the next 6 months. No skipping meetings if you can help it, let’s give it our all for 6 months. Who’s in?”

As a result one of our founding members decided she needed to leave the group right at the beginning. We were sad to see her go, but it was critical that she recognize that she was not able to commit and cut ties early on. Otherwise, if this particular member had kept skipping meetings and holding up the group, it likely would have discouraged the rest of us.

So these are the big mistakes, pitfalls and missteps we see when it comes to Mastermind Groups. Have you been part of a group that didn’t quite get off the ground? What do you think went wrong? Or, if you’re in a group you love, how did you navigate these common obstacles? We’d love to hear from you in the comments!

from Fizzle https://fizzle.co/sparkline/create-fail-proof-mastermind-group
via My Media Pal NYC

How I Created a Top Publication on Medium & Transformed My Life in the Process (FS218)

How I Created a Top Publication on Medium & Transformed My Life in the Process (FS218)

I'm going to Tarantino this for you. Let's do a quick rewind to the height of the conflict and start there. Then we'll come back to today. Ready? Here we go…

It was the summer of 2014. There I was, a new dad, trying to keep Rory (our then one-year old girl) alive as well as my freelance copywriting business. I had a couple great clients. But most of them (which will remain unnamed to protect the innocent) were so dry and stale that, if they could be described in a flavor, would actually be a sort of anti-flavor that extinguished every flavor it touched.  

Note: this is a guest post from Jonas Ellison, one of the largest publishers on Medium.com. His story is amazing and we wanted you to hear it in his words as well as in a podcast (below). Enjoy.

My wife was in the early stages of growing her business at that time too. She’d broken off from her boss and started her own thing when Rory was two months old.

Stress levels were on high alert. Only difference was, my wife loved what she did. I was happy that I could write for a living, but found that it was starting to work against me in a creative sense. It was sucking the life out of my love for the craft.

I was tired. Tired of expending my creative gifts on other people's lame businesses. Tired of edits upon edits upon horrible edits from accountants and engineers and fucking 'serial entrepreneurs'.

I was tired (did I already say that?). Our kid had developed a habit of waking up and crying every couple hours throughout the night since day one. I’m a light sleeper and was always the first one on the scene. Between cries, I’d find myself awoken by a sense of dread. A low, humming fear that I was wasting my life getting paid crumbs while helping businesses that I despise make a ton of dough.

So I did what I always did when feeling like this. I bought a book.

Books are my pills. The pill I chose this time was How To Live? by Sarah Bakewell, a book about one of my favorite humans – Michel De Montaigne. In it, the author explains how Montaigne would write his way through life in a reflective manner, not stating how to live, but as a constant asking, "How to live?"

This thing lit a fire in me. I yearned for a body of work like Montaigne’s.

I needed my creative muchness back.

I had words inside pushing to get out. So taking the encouragement from Montaigne paired with the fact that another one of my favorite humans, Casey Neistat, had started a daily vlog, that was it.

I wanted a blog where I'd share something positive every day. Not bubblegum positive like a Ghandi or an Einstein quote. But deep positive. I wanted each day’s writing to come from my personal human experience.

I had a personal WordPress blog at the time. A mentor of mine from a couple years prior, Kamal Ravikant, told me that I needed to share my work where people could see it. He wanted me to write a book on Amazon, but I never did. However, there was this new website out called Medium.com. It was the YouTube for writers and seemed like the perfect arena.

Listen to Jonas tell his story on The Fizzle Show podcast in your podcast app if you’re already subscribed or here:

PODSC

The birth of a blogger

And so Higher Thoughts was born. The concept was simple: short-ish, daily posts written from a contemplative, meditative (albeit lighthearted) state for 30 days.

The first thing I realized is that writing on Medium (as you may know) is a dream. The wordpress editor and html and plugins and nonsense were a thing of the past. Now, I could just sit down and… Create.

The response was welcoming. It was gradual. Not gangbusters, but there was life on the planet of Medium. Much more than on my wordpress blog where my most engaged reader was my mother in law who trolled me every time I wrote a post that went against her conservative Catholic worldview. I digress…

I had a few recommends and responses here and there. At the time, my subject matter was mostly creativity with some spirituality sprinkled in there.

After 30 days, I wrote about my experience and went to bed. The next day, I woke up (after the two or three wakeup calls from Rory the night before) to a buzzing phone. Twitter (which I hardly ever used) was rocking. My email inbox was blowing up.

Apparently, my post had gone micro-viral (not Gangnam Style-viral, but more viral than I'd ever experienced). It got picked up by The Huffington Post,  The Observer, and The Daily Dot. Some of my blogging crushes reached out to me to be a contributor.

Damn… I was a blogger. This was it. It had been a suppressed desire ever since the early 2000's when I fell in love with the lifestyle-blogger concept. I didn't think it was ever possible. Making this my full-time thing was still miles away. But never had I felt a solid foothold like I did then.

Suddenly, my 30 day ending point became just the beginning.

Who am I?

Another deep influence on me was Seth Godin. I found his blog in my previous career as a golf professional. I wanted out of that industry so bad. I knew I loved writing, but I had no idea how it would be feasible to make a living doing it. Seth sent me bite-sized notes of encouragement every single day.

I found his words… Refreshing. His posts were so much more real and human than the other ‘how-to-do-this-internet-thing’ blogs I followed. I felt like Seth was just hanging out with me in a park. He spoke softly, but his words carried heft. Unlike the other bloggers who were all about shouting at me and constantly trying to win me over.

When I started this daily blog, I wanted to do things like Seth. I wanted to whisper, not yell. I wanted to write for my readers, not constantly be on the hustle for new ones. But many of my marketing cronies (now that I was in the business) advised me otherwise. Here’s a little of what they advised…

“There’s no way you can grow an audience today without clickbait headlines”.

“You can’t respond to every email/response – that’s not scaleable.”

“You should invite people with huge audiences to contribute to your publication.”


But nothing these experts suggested went along with my values. I had nothing to lose. I had no audience. I was going to experiment and try it my way.


Soon, people began thanking me for such a refreshing voice. “It doesn’t feel like you’re trying to trick me,” read one. “You’re the only one I allow in my inbox,” read another.

Day after day, the blog grew. Medium did a fantastic job of promoting my work because I was getting a lot of engagement and showing up consistently to post.

I made it a point to answer every response that came in, even if it was just a 'thank you' in a private note on Medium. I met other Mediumers (hey, if they're YouTubers, we can be Mediumers, right?) with big publications I'd contribute to. It was a fantastic platform to connect and grow on.

But I was conflicted. I kinda knew what I was all about. But my posts were still a little… Random.

Some days, I'd write about writing. Other days, I'd write about spirituality or business, or whatever was on my mind. I wanted to get a pulse from my readers about what they enjoyed reading from me.

So I threw together a quick Google Form survey and sent it out. Being a writer by trade, I was sure that they liked my posts about writing the best. However, the response I got shocked me.

My readers gave me a resounding ‘Hell-yes’ for spirituality/life stuff. Which was interesting on many levels.

Walk back further with me for a sec…

My long-time dream of spiritual writing

I had a rough upbringing like a lot of us, unfortunately. My mom passed away when I was 16 and I was raised around a lot of poverty and addiction. I was Catholic, but not really. In my late teens and early 20's, I had a head full of lingering questions about life and what this whole thing was really about.

In 2004, I watched a PBS special with a dynamic older bald dude named Wayne Dyer. I had no idea who he was at the time, but my dad spoke highly of him, so I watched.

I was blown away for 2 hours while he waxed poetically about life and Carlos Castaneda and A Course in Miracles. The whole time, he was checking off the list, one by one, about the kinds of questions buzzing around in the back of my mind. This brand of spirituality was useful – holy shit!

Wayne Dyer was my gateway drug to a whole tribe of authors in that realm. I was taken to Marianne Williamson, Eckhart Tolle, Deepak Chopra, and even the old greats like Ralph Waldo Emerson, Marcus Aurelius, Charles Haanel, and Robert Collier.

Eventually, I made my way to a book from a guy named Rev. Michael Beckwith called Spiritual Liberation. He gave a title to this brand of spirituality: ‘New Thought’. Beckwith is a New Thought minister and created the Agape spiritual community in LA.

Essentially, I envied these writers and thinkers who'd changed my view of the world in such a profound way. I remember reading my first Wayne Dyer book so many years ago dreaming of how cool it would be if I could do the same thing he did. If I could sit and write and share a message that uplifted people from all over the world.

When I got that survey back from my readers, it struck me. Holy shit. I was doing it…

Back to church

So there I was. A reader-approved spiritual messenger. I mean, my audience literally told me they wanted more spirituality stuff from me. It was tough to stomach at first. Who was I to share this kind of message? And how was I going to make a living doing it?

I shrugged these questions off and continued on. I embraced this new subject matter and began going to a New Thought spiritual center (much like a church, but an interfaith one that welcomed all people: Christian, Jew, Muslim, Atheist, etc.) in town. As I sat in the sanctuary in the midst of a sermon by a female minister behind a gay couple and an atheist sitting to my right, I realized…


“My writing had lead me to my tribe. My tribe had lead me back to myself.”


These were my people. This is who I was meant to serve.

A few months later, I signed up for divinity school. I had no idea where this was going to take me. I had no idea if I was ever going to open a spiritual center and do this professionally someday. But I learned through my writing that this wasn't the point.

The point was to follow my soul and jump head-in when I was pulled by something greater than myself. I realized the key to great writing had little to do with the actual writing. It had to do with devoting oneself to an interesting mission. Then, the writing took care of itself.

So that’s what I did. I announced my new life path on Higher Thoughts the next day. I told my readers that I'd take them with me through the journey. I'd share with them all of my doubts, fears, wins, and insights along the way.


“My readers gave me a purpose and I returned the favor with devoting my life to this subject matter.”


When I did this, new doors opened. A couple friends opened up a digital agency in town. They needed a copywriter and they loved my writing. So they brought me on. Their client base was incredible. Plus, I now had the security and flexibility to pursue my work with the blog and my new spiritual studies.

Pushing me to the pulpit

I’ve been writing and posting every day since I started this 30 day creative project almost two years ago now. It hasn’t always been easy.

I’ve written and posted on sick days, holidays, while travelling to Europe with my family a couple summers ago, and every day in-between. I’ve had family days where I’ve stayed up late to write after my wife and daughter had gone to bed. I’ve since developed a system that fits my life, but it’s been a challenge.

However, today, Higher Thoughts is one of the most recommended spiritual publications on Medium. I’m a Top Writer in several categories including personal development, life lessons, creativity, poetry, inspiration, and more.

I’m faced with a ton of opportunities. I now mentor fellow bloggers who want to share their positive messages in an authentic fashion on Medium. I’m developing a course around this subject matter. I have a body of work my kid will be able to read long after I’m gone. And I’m headed to the ministry – something I never dreamed possible when I started this journey.


“An authentic body of work goes much deeper than just creating an audience and ‘monetizing it’.”


What I’ve learned is, if you put your whole life in front of a strong mission and share your journey authentically, your people will show up. And like a mighty wave, if you continue to serve them, they will carry you to your destiny. And one day you might look back, as I am now, and it will all make sense.

This is the power of your message. This is the value of an authentic body of work. These are the heights it can take you to. Not just shares and hearts and virality and monetization. But a total life transformation.

Here’s to you on your journey.


Jonas Ellison is the author of Higher Thoughts, one of the top spirituality/mindfulness publications on Medium.com. He's a spiritual practitioner and a mentor to those who want to create a presence on Medium as well. To receive his free gift to Fizzlers, an email series titled, ‘11 days to authentic audience building on Medium’ click here.

from Fizzle https://fizzle.co/sparkline/created-top-publication-medium-transformed-life-process-fs218
via My Media Pal NYC

Tips On Using Medium as a Blogging Channel to Grow An Audience (FS217)

Jonas Ellison spent the last year growing an audience on Medium.com, and it worked… accidentally.

On the show today you’re going to hear tangible tips about Medium.com, which will help you decide if you should use this growing platform to grow an audience.

There are some new features on Medium that make both Corbett and Chase do a bit of a double take on using this platform.

Grab a cuppa and dive in for some entertaining education about the “youtube for bloggers”, Medium.com.

Enjoy!

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“Tips on using Medium as a blogging channel to grow an audience”


Why is medium awesome?

There’s a built in audience on Medium, so there’s a chance you can grow quicker on Medium than you can on a self-hosted website. For instance, an article you write on Medium can take off and go viral just within the Medium platform itself, possibly exposing tens of thousands of people to your writing. So, the basic awesomeness of Medium here is that there’s a mechanism in place so that, if your writing is actually good, lots of people on Medium could easily find your article(s).

What are the bad things about medium?

The first thing is, you have to share your design, brand, experience with Medium. The second thing is that Medium is a VC backed BUSINESS, which means they can start charging you for who-knows-what in the future because, you know, even silicon valley businesses need to make money eventually. Third thing is that the stats are limiting; you can only see so much detail and only for a limited amount of time (though it looks like there’s support for Google Analytics for custom domains now). All this being so, the awesome parts have really helped Jonas, and he says he’d be using Medium again if he was starting all over (though his answer to what he’d change is really interesting).

A Medium Difference: Responses, textual comments, private notes instead of comments

The commenting system on Medium works differently than you may have experienced before. The end result is that there are several ways for readers to interact with your written material AND that interaction is not anonymous… real people, real accounts, for the most part, at least for now.  

Tip: Start a "publication" on medium

A publication on Medium is like a blog, a collection of stories or a collection of thoughts under the same title (and sometimes custom domain name), and you should setup a publication on Medium if you’re going to write there. This is something a lot of people don’t do and they’re missing out big-time. On Medium, you can immediately start writing under your own name. This is a great start, but eventually, you’ll want to create a ‘publication’ of your own (which only takes a few minutes to set up). This does a couple things…

One, it puts your work under a larger topic that people can get behind. For example, when a new Medium user snoops around, they might see my name and glaze right over it, not knowing who I am. But that same person might see my publication (Higher Thoughts) and realize – like a magazine at the train station – that they’re interested. I have three times the amount of followers on my publication than on my personal account.

Secondly, with a publication, you can send out a ‘letter’ to your followers (which you can’t do under your personal profile). This is a Medium post that gets emailed out to your followers (all who haven’t opted out, at least). And you Fizzlers all know how important email is.

Tip: use the “send a letter” feature to your publication followers

If you set up a publication in Medium (see tip above) you can use the “send a letter” feature and send a private email just to your publication subscribers. You open your publication and click on letter and it’s like you’re writing a medium post. It’s emailed out to all your followers, doesn’t show up in your publication. Jonas does a monthly newsletter for Higher Thoughts readers, what he’s reading that month, maybe an offer, etc. When a reader follows a publication, they’re automatically opted in for the email. However, they can opt out when they start getting emails.

This is a big deal — this means you can use your Medium publication to get directly to the inboxes of readers. Fascinating! But nobody’s going to subscribe to your publication if you’re content doesn’t hit their heads and hearts. More email tips.

Tip: embed an email subscribe form directly in your medium post

Upscribe is a tool that enables you to embed an email form directly in a Medium post. This is amazing because one of the biggest drawbacks of using Medium was that you can’t make an offer to your reader without them clicking a link to go to a different page. With this little feature you can now embed the form right there, bang! Initial plans for Ubscribe are free, and it integrates with mailchimp or convertkit or whatever you use today.

If you were starting all over again on medium, what would your plan be? First of all, what would be your goal (followers? traffic? email conversions?)? Second of all, what would your plan be?

This one you’ll have to listen to the podcast to hear. We get into a really good conversation with lots of nuance about the stuff Jonas brings up.


More from Jonas on next week’s podcast where we hear the story about how the hell he transformed from a burnt out copywriter to swinging a following of 60,000+ followers on Medium. You can check out more about Jonas’ writing at his Medium publication Higher Thoughts. Thanks for your time and expertise, Jonas!

from Fizzle https://fizzle.co/sparkline/tips-using-medium-blogging-channel-grow-audience-fs217
via My Media Pal NYC

How Indie Entrepreneurs Should Plan Vacations (FS216)

Travel can lead to inspiration, vision and clarity for your business. That can mean huge gains when you’re an owner-operator of a small business.

As indie-preneurs and solo-preneurs we can often be the bottleneck for our business. Our mindset can be the leading cause of atrophy or stagnation in our strategies and execution.

Play time, vacation and travel, however, can be used to “knock the barnacles off” and reset our intention and focus so we can see clearly and move with more purpose.

BUT you may not want to put everything on hold and dive right into vacation without planning it through a bit.

So, in this podcast we teach you how successful indie entrepreneurs think through and plan their vacations.

Enjoy!

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“How indie entrepreneurs should plan vacations”


Different kinds of “Vacation”: First, let’s define our terms a bit. In the episode we talk about the following different kinds of vacation.

  • the staycation or “digital detox”
  • the shorter "do no work" vacation
  • the longer "do some work" vacation
  • sabbatical
  • living abroad
  • paternity/maternity/family leave

Many entrepreneurs have a hard time ALLOWING themselves to let go. Here’s a message from Fizzler Penny Hawes in the Member Community about this:

What is this "vacation" of which you speak?

Seriously, after owning and managing large family run equestrian centers for most of my adult life, there were no vacations. It was 7 days a week, week after week, month after month, and year after year. And even though we were grossing 6 figures, overheads were so high we were barely surviving.

Even after we sold our farm in CT and left our jobs managing a farm here in Virginia, there have always been 2 jobs or a seriously time intensive job and a side hustle.

I get a 2 hour vacation next Tuesday, courtesy of anesthesia…

This is one of my greatest "whys" – I'm sick of working 60 hour weeks where I swap hours for dollars. I'm 58 years old and scared shitless. All of that ends now.

Corbett has a great story about this. For a long time as a new blogger Corbett couldn’t step away from the computer for any significant stretch of time. Then he brought on his first employee, got that employee up to speed and immediately took 5 days away from the computer in Europe. More on that story in the episode.

(Note: that first employee of Corbett’s was Caleb Wojcik, who we just released a Founder Story interview with to Fizzle Members!)


Reset your mind about what vacation is for. Keep your mindset healthy around vacation. Try to see it as an investment in your creativity and business, as opposed to shirking your responsibilities (which always leads to guilt). A fresh brain is often an open channel for new ideas and fresh inspiration. You may feel like Steph when she says, “I work MUCH faster when I’m rested and positive (vs. ground into a pulp and fatigued!).” So, the first step is to think about vacation as a BUSINESS ASSET.

Create a pre-vacation game plan. Define projects you want done before you leave. Be intentional with what you're committed to so you can allow yourself to TRULY release when you're on vacation. As Chase says, “It’s a really big asset for my business when I can completely disengage, experience something new and then come back to my work with clear eyes and optimism. From that perspective, with fresh eyes, I can see all sorts of things in my work that I was blind to before!” It might mean working ahead, batching tasks, outsourcing, leaning on teammates — but no matter what, you gotta have a game plan for stepping away.

Note: you can use the Energizer Project Planning Method to figure out exactly what the most critical projects are before you leave.

Learn to travel simple. One of the things we most love to experience in travel is serendipity, those moments you didn’t plan for, the random, beautiful stuff you just kind of fell into. Part of making yourself open to that is lightness in travel. As Chase says, “Now, i can get more technical here: I literally carry one carry-on backpack; that’s all I allow myself. I love this for so many reasons — freedom, agility, presence — but one of my favorite side effects (and likely the reason I’m so addicted to this kind of travel) is that it equates to MENTAL states of freedom and presence. So, it’s not just ‘I don’t have a lot of stuff with me,’ it’s also ‘I’m literally thinking and behaving with more freedom,’ and that can change your damn life.”

Note: Corbett and Chase share a little moment of glee in the episode when this comes up. You can almost hear Corbett squeal in delight.

Another Note: Chase is so taken with traveling lightly that he has a whole youtube channel devoted to it. And it’s growing, too!

What have you learned about traveling as an entrepreneur? Share what you’ve learned in the comments below because we’d love to hear them!

Share this article:

“The Fizzle team shares some great ideas about how to plan vacations as an entrepreneur.”


Today’s episode is sponsored by Aaptive: Fizzle members can get 30 days free when you go to Fizzle.co/aaptive and use the code “FIZZLE” when you signup.

from Fizzle https://fizzle.co/sparkline/indie-entrepreneurs-plan-vacations-fs216
via My Media Pal NYC

Win a Ticket to Craft + Commerce, Convertkit’s New Conference (And See Chase’s Keynote Live)

Win a Ticket to Craft + Commerce, Convertkit’s New Conference (And See Chase’s Keynote Live)

Our very own Chase Reeves is the opening speaker for a brand new conference started by our friends at ConvertKit! The conference takes place June 23 to 25 in Boise, Idaho.

With Craft + Commerce, ConvertKit is creating a space for online entrepreneurs, bloggers, podcasters, vloggers, to learn how your craft is not only a means to earn a living online, but also a way to make a meaningful impact on your customers and do work that matters.

From the Craft + Commerce site:

The ConvertKit conference is where modern crafts(wo)men come to renew their commitment to creating great work every day. We’ve created a schedule full of opportunity to set goals, find passion in you work, learn from the best, and build long-term relationships with other online creators.

If you haven’t seen Chase talk live before, it’s a real treat, especially on a big stage like this. Chase will be joined by some other fantastic speakers, including Seth Godin, Sarah Kathleen Peck, Melyssa Griffin, (Fizzle member) Abby Lawson, James Clear and many more.

Win a Free Ticket to Craft + Commerce!

We would love to see you at the conference. One of you lucky readers is going to win a ticket (valued at $599) to join several hundred other likeminded independent entrepreneurs.

To win, just leave a comment below and tell us why you’d love to attend before Thursday, May 25. We’ll choose one lucky commenter at random and the winner will be emailed on Friday, May 26.

You don’t need to be a ConvertKit user to win.

If you haven’t checked out ConvertKit before, it’s a fantastic email marketing tool for professional bloggers, podcasters and course creators. Learn more about ConvertKit here »

Learn more about the Craft + Commerce conference here »

from Fizzle https://fizzle.co/sparkline/craft-commerce
via My Media Pal NYC

No Progress After a Full Year? This Might be Why (FS214)

No Progress After a Full Year? This Might be Why (FS214)

Is the work you’re doing towards your goal working at all?

What if you’ve been working for several months and don’t have much to show for it? Is this normal? Is this how it works at first?

Speaking of normal, what is normal!? What kind of results should you be expecting?

Today on the show we talk about several places you can look to diagnose where your problem might be coming from.

And the first step is looking at those expectations. How can we intelligently set our expectations in modern indie business?

Dive into the show and enjoy…

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“Entrepreneurs: If the work you’re doing isn’t working, here’s where to look”


Expectations: Looking at what you’re looking for

The big rule here is to set your expectations around the work you can do. As Chase acts out on the podcast: the goal you CAN control.

What work are you committed to? What is the effort, the job, the task, the project, the ongoing activity, you can commit to.

3 months from now you may not be able to hold yourself accountable to the results of your work (traffic, revenue, subscribers, etc.), but you can hold yourself accountable to the workyou committed to.

What actions can you commit to taking to get you towards your goals? Can you SET your expectations here instead of elsewhere?

If at the end of the year you didn't know what you did — you only know that you didn't reach your goal — you're gonna feel in a bad way.

However, if you set your expectations on the work you commit to — the goal you can control — then you hold the keys to your own fulfillment.

BTW, if you learn to manage your expectations like this it will keep you out of the horrible comparison trap, where you compare yourself to others and, no matter how great your results, can always find someone doing better than you.

If you don’t have a kind of “guiding light” in your own plans and expectations, you’re leaving yourself wide open to this comparison game.

Define your guiding light for the next season, a game plan for the work you KNOW you can control.


Note: all this stuff is broken down in more detail on the podcast. Subscribe in a podcast app on your phone and go on a walk and listen to it! It’ll sink in deeper and you’ll come back refreshed… we can just about guarantee it.


Are you “publishing” enough?

Publishing is in quotes there because you may not be a publisher of blog posts, podcast episodes, Instagram updates, etc. But, as we talked about above, this is about the work you’re committed to doing.

Are you doing enough of that work?

For instance, a blogger can’t publish 11 posts in 12 months and expect big results. Something closer to 50 or 90 in 12 months gets you much further faster. (More on why this works later on.)

It can be helpful to think about this as a numbers game: the more you do, the more you learn. The more you learn, the smarter your strategies. The smarter your strategies, the greater the chances for good results.

  • This is a place you can be TOO lenient on yourself. It’s pretty easy to do so.
  • It’s also a place you can be too HARD on yourself, trying to bite off more than you can chew. If you burnout as an entrepreneur that serves nobody.
  • VOLUME, QUALITY and CONSISTENCY are all things to think about here.
  • This Simple CEO Spreadsheet can help you interpret the metrics for your work.
  • The Start a blog that Matters Course is purpose built to help bloggers with this publishing consistently thing (as well as the “what the hell do I blog about!?” thing.)

Do you know exactly who you’re talking to?

Maybe you don't know exactly who you're talking to. Target market, ideal client, and niche are all words you need to know, fo’ sho’.

Our free guide on defining your audience on this is packed with insights. <== click that if you don’t have this on your computer at all times.

The gist here is simply this — if you don’t know who you’re talking to, you don’t know how to give them what they want.

Maybe you simply don't have a good enough handle on who you're talking to.


Have you found the core issue yet?

Have you listened enough to your potential customers to be able to reflect their desires back to them in language they definitely understand?

This is a sign of really understanding the core issue of your business.

Obviously this is tightly connected with the previous “knowing exactly who you’re talking to.” When you know who they are, you can focus and find what they really desire/need/want/struggle with.

Your goal is to RESONATE with your audience. Maybe you’re not resonating.

It’s a very really possibility that you might not have spent enough time listening. There’s literally no better training on this than Steph’s Customer Conversations training.

That course teaches you how to find them, what to ask them, how to listen and how to get the insights from THEM that you’re sorely lacking. Invaluable.


Is your design/message/hook not resonating?

The wrong look, feel, aesthetic, angle, message and hook can make qualified visitors literally bounce off your site.

Again, if you don't know your customer you could be way off on this one.

Pro tip: If you don't have the skills to make a more elaborate design work for you, err on the side of minimal design!

  • Inside Fizzle there’s a course on the Essentials of Web Design for Business Builders. This will guide you through the big issues even if you have no idea about designing anything. Really, really valuable stuff when you’re doing everything on your own.

Is your conversion funnel working?

If you have some traffic but nobody's signing up or purchasing in any meaningful way you may have a conversion problem.

People are coming, but they’re not converting.

Like above, it could be the wrong message, hook or look. Or it could be that you’re not ASKING clearly enough. Or it could be you’re not enforcing the BENEFITS enough. Or it could be that you’re just not making something really valuable to them yet.

In Corbett’s course on How to Grow Your Email List to 10,000 Subscribers and Beyond he teaches a bunch about how to put together an “opt-in incentive” that really resonates with your audience. That’s available in a free trial in Fizzle here.


Are you working in the wrong medium?

It's possible that customers in your topic/niche are seeking content in a different medium.

By medium here I mean text vs video vs audio. And each of those can be broken down further. E.g., text can be broken down into blogging, email newsletter, reading on Medium.com, writing guest posts on other publishers’ websites, etc.

Wheres the intersection of those three questions for your topic:

  1. What medium does your information beg to inhabit?
  2. What are your customers looking for?
  3. What can you create?

Remember the hypothesis

Remember, everything in your business is a hypothesis, i.e., an informed guess. Your job is NOT to be a genius, it’s to be a researcher, to observe, infer, test and understand.

You're testing what works. You’re testing your own skills. You’re testing different audience ideas. You’re testing what resonates with them.

When you look at it this way, you can separate yourself, your own self worth, from the results themselves. You are a tester, an experimenter, you can tweak and make changes… because your strategy is only a hypothesis.

So, there’s a handful of places to look when your strategies aren’t working.

  1. Start with correcting your expectations because you need to hold yourself to doable commitments.
  2. Are you “publishing” enough?
  3. Do you know exactly who you’re talking to?
  4. Have you found the core issue yet?
  5. Is your design/message/hook not resonating?
  6. Is your conversion funnel working?
  7. Are you working in the wrong medium?

Any others come to mind for you? Share it in the comments. Thanks for reading/listening!

from Fizzle https://fizzle.co/sparkline/work-youre-isnt-working-heres-look-fs214
via My Media Pal NYC