From Blog Post to Book

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Guest Post from Rochelle Melander

Imagine this. You are completely confident that you will write and publish a blog post each week for the next year. You already know the topics you will be writing about. And here’s the best part: at the end of the year, you will collect all of those blog posts into a book that you can use to earn extra income or attract new clients.

This vision may seem like a fantasy. Most of us have difficulty coming up with post ideas and put off writing blog posts whenever we can. We’ve heard that we need a content strategy, but we don’t know how to create one. We’re so busy running our business and serving clients that any kind of marketing, especially writing a blog post or newsletter article, usually falls to the bottom of the to-do list.

But the vision I laid out for you is doable. Blogging your book—writing your book as weekly blog posts and then gathering them together into a product you can sell—will actually save time. It might even end up being a profitable venture.

Why Publish a Book?

Let’s start at the end game: why publish a book? With the growth of self-publishing, it’s easier than ever to publish a book. But aside from bragging rights, how could a book benefit your business?

Over the ten years, I’ve worked as a writing coach, I’ve seen clients take books and use them as:

  • The core guide for a workshop or home study course
  • A giveaway for people who sign up for their email newsletter
  • A bonus gift for a webinar, teleseminar, or speaking gig
  • A gift for new clients
  • A tradeshow gift or raffle prize

These books have helped my clients land speaking gigs, newspaper and blog columns, podcast interviews, new business and more.

Wow!

How to Blog a Book

So let’s say you’re interested in blogging your book: where do you start? This article will lay out a step-by-step plan to help you move from choosing a topic to creating a writing schedule:

Step 1: Analyze your market

Your blog posts and book need to resonate with your market. Use the following questions to discover potential topics.

  • What questions do clients and potential clients frequently ask you?
  • What topics do people raise in your coaching, consulting, or speaking?
  • What are your most popular tools, programs, talks, and blog posts?
  • What content gets the most engagement?
  • What do people in your ideal market complain about online?

Action step: Once you have a list of topics, review them for common themes. Perhaps you’re a dentist and have a large number of topics that could be grouped under the heading, “teeth appearance.” Or you're a garden designer, and you’ve got lots of ideas for home lawn and garden care. You might have several themes including “lawn care” and “creating gardens.” Group your topics under the two or three most common themes.

Step Two: Consider your purpose

We've already talked about the many ways that businesses can use a book to attract clients and gain sales. But deeper than that, business owners need to consider the purpose of their book: How do you want your book to benefit your readers? Here are three potential purposes for your book:

Books teach clients about your business. A book can educate potential clients about how you might help them. People might know your profession, but they may have no idea how you support clients. For example, a meditation teacher might write a book of essays on the benefits of meditation and the various ways they work with clients to help them access these benefits.

Books teach basic skills. Books can offer information, tools, and tips that support clients in working through basic questions and allow us to sell our upper-level services. A career coach I know requires that clients have a basic resume before they begin working together. He created a book that walks people through the resume writing process and sets them up for working with him.

Books build relationships. Books help us build relationships with potential clients. They read about our experience and wisdom and it helps them to feel comfortable with us. I recently had a new client tell me that he found me through a book I’d published back in 2006. He’d read it ten years ago, and seeing it on his shelf reminded him that he wanted to work with me one day.

Action Step: Write down your answers to the following questions:
• What purpose will your book serve?
• How will your book help your customers or clients?

Step 3: Choose Your Topic

You may already have an idea of what you want to write about and how it will help your clients. But if you’re still debating between two topics, here are three more tests of a good book topic.

A topic that works will:

  • Meet the needs of your clients. Books can help people solve a problem, understand a situation, or transform their experience of a difficult situation. What topics will support and help your clients? If you don’t know, ask them. Interview 2-5 clients about what they’d love to have a book about.
  • Highlight your unique brilliance. Writing a book will reveal and highlight the education, expertise, and experience you’ve gained in your field. What have you been studying, teaching, and writing about for years? As you look at your work, what are your core topics or areas of expertise?
  • Ignite your passion. When we write about a topic that excites us, people are engaged. They want to read and hear more. What topics are you passionate about?

Action step: Now that you have a list of potential topics (the themes from #1), know the purpose for writing your book (#2), and have figured out what topics meet client needs and highlight your brilliance (#3), you can choose a book topic.

Step 4: Create a Book Outline

Whenever I say, “outline,” people think about those horrible long research paper outlines they wrote in school, with a complicated structure of Roman numerals, capital, and lowercase letters. When I support clients in writing a book outline, we most often create a list of topics.

Although there are many ways to structure a book, I encourage most of my clients who will blog their book to create a collection book. A collection book collects a series of short pieces of writing—essays, exercises, or stories—around a theme.

Action step: Using your themes and topic list, create a book outline. Because you are creating a book that is a collection of essays or stories, your outline will simply be an expanded list of the topics you created earlier (see answers to #1). Now that you have a better sense of your book’s purpose, you can expand the list.

Pro Tip: People often ask: How long should each essay be? And how many of these essays do I need to make a book? When it comes to answering both questions, consider your audience: what do they need? What do they have the time to read? What will help them? Generally, a good length for an essay is 750-1000 words. People can read it quickly, maybe even as they sip their morning cup of coffee. When I think about how many essays make a good collection, I recommend that people aim for at least 25 essays. At the top end, I’d recommend no more than 50, unless you are creating a daily or weekly meditation book.

Step 5: Schedule and Write

Now that you have a book outline, you can create a schedule for your blog posts. You don’t need to blog your short posts in the order they’ll appear in the book. That frees you up to schedule your posts around your availability to research and write about a topic, what’s going on in your business and community, and what’s happening with your clients. I’m often inspired to write about a certain topic because of an experience I’ve had with a client or at a training event.

But it does help to have a schedule. Set aside a regular day each week to publish your blog post. Then schedule time each week to write your post. Later in the year, you’ll need to block out time to organize and edit your book, getting it ready for publication.

Moving Forward

It may seem like a big step to write a book. But if you blog your book, it won’t feel like that at all. Instead, you’ll be taking tiny, manageable steps toward your goal. And along the way, you’ll be providing regular, helpful content for your clients and potential clients. It’s a win for everyone!

About the author. Rochelle Melander is a speaker, certified professional coach, and the bestselling author of twelve books, including Level Up: Quests to Master Mindset, Overcome Procrastination and Increase Productivity. Through her writing and coaching, Rochelle Melander helps writers, creatives, and entrepreneurs overcome distractions and procrastination, design a writing life, turn their ideas into books, navigate the publishing world, and connect with readers through social media. She is the founder of Dream Keepers, a writing workshop that supports teens in finding their voice and sharing their stories. Visit her online at writenowcoach.com.

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Brand Identity or Brand Personality For Website Planning

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brand personalities can be as colorful as needed.

Do you feel like your website is floundering because you don't know who to attract, how to get their attention and keep them interested in your business?

You need to establish a connection between your brand and your customer so that your website can not only attract the right customers but be helpful to them in finding the solutions. On top of that you need to show the value they will receive by being in a relationship with you and your business.

When you're thinking of website design, you need to take into consideration features of your brand like colors and fonts (brand assets) and the personality of your brand (brand personality) so that people know how to connect and perceive your business. It all ties together to create the culture of your business

The bottom line is that your website needs to reflect your brand and the vibe you want to present. And it begins by creating your brand identity and brand personality.

What is the difference between identity and personality?

Identity for Your Brand

Your brand identity is the guide behind the distinguishable brand of your business so that your potential clients develop an interest in your and your services. Your brand identity refers to the physical parts of your brand – name, logo, style, fonts, colors, icons, etc. and how clients perceive you.

Your brand identity provides the direction of your brand to give it purpose and meaning.

  • Your brand identity is the visual cues, something people can see.
  • Brand identity communicated what words cannot.
  • Your brand identity can grow and change.

Personality For Your Brand

Brand personality is a way to humanize your brand so that it's relatable to your ideal clients. For example, if you're a sports or fitness coach, then your personality would be someone fit, active and self-assured. If your business is party planning, you may need to reflect fun, outgoing, confident and organized. Your brand personality is what allows your clients to build that relationship with you.

We love to personify things, and your brand is no different.

Because your brand personality is assigned traits and human-like qualities, it becomes the attitude of your business. It is the feeling your customer has about you and how they can build a relationship with your business so that you can achieve quality brand ambassadors.

  • Your brand personality usually stays the same but does evolve over time.
  • Your brand personality is about the characteristics and differentiators.
  • Brand personalities are often equated with archetypes.

If you've already done your research on creating an identity, then you've got half the battle complete. You can easily take that information and use it to help define a personality and value system for your brand.

Your personality can be broken down using the Big Five Personality Traits, developed in 1961 as a starting point. The five factors defined as openness to experience, conscientiousness, extraversion, agreeableness, and neuroticism, represented by the acronym OCEAN or CANOE.

I've turned these five descriptors into my brand traits:

  • Openness to experience = adventure/curiosity
  • Conscientiousness = dependable
  • Extraversion = energetic/fun
  • Agreeableness = helpful
  • Neuroticism = balanced/encouraged
Fun and energetic

You don't want to get your personality confused with your identity because as an extension of your identity, your personality can get lost if not properly integrated.

Think of it like this; if my logo and images were stuffy and corporate, then you wouldn't be able to see the adventure and fun that adds to the energetic vibe of my brand. And if I didn't seem to explain things with analogies and plain speak you wouldn't see the helpful nature I embrace.

Remember this: when choosing images, articles to write, social posts to share, start with the personality and then move into the identity. Because the key is to be consistent.

Take Away

Because your website is an extension of your brand and an asset in your marketing arsenal you need to be sure it reflects but your identity and personality. Defining your brand is set one in the planning process because you need to know who you are talking to and how you can resonate with them.

Your brand personality is a set of feelings, qualities, and emotions that define your brand identity and brand. 

Inspiration is everywhere including your competition and thought leaders of your industry, but you want to be careful not to recreate their brand or steal their identity.

Whether you are working on your identity or personality, both require strategies and planning so that they can work hand-in-hand to showcase your authenticity. 

Need some additional inspiration or help?

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Getting Started With Your Brand Identity

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Crafting a well rounded brand identity.

Do you have a brand or a brand identity for your business and services?

Many businesses when developing a brand starts with visual pieces like logo, colors, and fonts based on what appeals to them. However, the visual brand is a piece of your brand and not the identity itself.

A brand is made up of three parts: brand, branding and brand identity. Your brand is how people perceive your business. Branding is the action taken to build the image. Brand identity is the culmination of how your brand looks, feels, and speaks to customers.

A brand identity is the hardest part for some businesses to get right because it requires research, deep thinking and knowing potential customer needs on many levels.

So where do you start?

1. Research and Discovery

To create a profitable brand, you need to know your customers, competition and end goals. Some people get stuck because they are new to the business and can't quite figure out where to begin. While others get stuck because they are trying to emulate a successful brand mentor and can't make those details fit into what they are trying to achieve.

Whichever stage you are in this is the most labor-intensive and cumbersome stage. But it's critical to build the foundation on which your brand will stand for years to come. It's a gathering stage because you're trying to understand the customer, know the competition and determine what your brand truly stands for.

Research is the part where you gather details, inspirations and tons of ideas (some perfect for you and some not) to put together a cohesive vibe and feel that helps you attract people to what you have to offer.

Market Research

There are lots of ways to find the information including watching social media channels, surveying audiences, competitive analysis, assessments and more.

The best place to start is where your potential audience may be. By hanging out with those you are trying to attract you'll find out if they do need your offer, what are some of their biggest problems, who they love (and don't) and what may have worked in the past?

Don't be afraid to float your idea in some social groups or look on sites like Quora or Answer The Public for questions asked of services you love to offer. This will give you a better idea of the use of words to describe problems, frustrations in finding solutions and who is recommended to provide help.

Recon can even be done by attending workshops or participating in challenges so you can get a feel for how people learn and interact with their peers and colleagues.

Social media is always a great place to get organic data and details since people seem to open up in their communities. But don't sit back and be a fly on the wall, participate by giving information and answers and asking for feedback on specific ideas and thoughts.

Competitive Analysis

Some people skip over this step because they don't know where to begin or where to find the other players.

The idea of a competitive analysis is to see how others in your industry are presenting themselves, how they are talking to their audiences, and what are their strengths and weaknesses. The key is to find what differentiates you from others.

You'll want to visit their websites and social accounts, look at places they hang out and events they attend. By acting like their ideal client, you will be able to identify the gaps or missing pieces and how you can fill those.

The key is to not look at them to steal their brand or business but gather inspiration on how you can use your uniqueness to be different yet still fill a need or problem.

Persona and Target Market

Your persona is the finer details of a target market or customers. You need to know who you are talking to attract and keep their attention. Many times we focus on collecting demographic data instead of their problems and how they get their information.

It's about perception so you need to focus on what's important including words used, where they get their information, how they consume that information and what type of customer they really can be.

The idea of research and data gathering is to listen to the needs of potential clients so you can focus on how to address what your brand wants to say.

2. Define Your Brand Strategy

Your brand strategy is a detailed plan that outlines what you are trying to accomplish and how you will get there. Your brand identity is a tool to help keep your brand consistent and execute your brand strategy.

Before you design your website, create your content or create the assets you need to get crystal clear on your strategy.

To set yourself up for success you need to define the essential parts of your brand including core values, brand stories, value proposition, positioning, and message so that your visual design can reflect who you are and what you stand for.

You should now have an idea of who you are talking to, what is important to them and how everything will fit into your offers and goals.

Brand Objectives and Goals

Brand goals are more than revenue-based objectives because you also need to have an idea of the image you want your brand to portray.

If you can't commit to what you want out of your business and brand how will your customers and clients be able to get behind it too? You want your brand to be authentic and have a perceived quality that feels right to you, so you are relatable and reliable.

Keep in mind that goals are targets for your business while objectives are what brings you closer to the goals and not the actual value of the goal.

Your goal may be to create $250K of income with a 60% profit margin so that you can easily pay your monthly bills and do a little traveling or pay down some debt. The objectives to support that could be creating a new product or working with brand ambassadors.

Brand Values and Benefits

Your brand values encompass both what is important to you as a business owner and the emotional benefits people will get from working with you. Mostly these are the impressions you want to make with your words, vibe, and purpose.

If you're truly stuck here or having a hard time nailing down the details, start with a brand assessment or archetype. My favorite tool is 16 Personalities Types which is based on Briggs Myers and Carl Jung. These tests help you discover your natural talents and core values.

The assessments and tests also give you a framework for traits you may possess that will relate well to others. They also provide a good starting point for outlining benefits that will help you engage well with others.

My clients start by picking five words that reflect their brand and work from there. You can determine if your brand will the practical or stylish, energetic or laid back, casual or corporate.

Brand benefits are key pieces that will keep your customer or clients coming back for more. It's critical that you deliver what you promise and stand behind your brand without sending mixed messages or changing your brand with every new trend.

3. Execute The Details

The devil's in the details, and the same goes with your brand. To be consistent, you need to pull your plan together.

Your core message should remain the same, but how you deliver, it will vary for each audience.

Message Strategy

Now that you have who you're trying to attract, goals for your business and a brand position, it's time to translate that into your message because your audience will have different needs.

The easiest way is to start with your positioning statement or the central theme of your brand and marketing. Your positioning statement is a short sentence that states a benefit, addresses the problem and be believable.

Here's an easy template:

[Your Brand] provides [your target] with [benefits] by [solutions].

Visual Strategy

The visible part of your brand is a part of your brand, but not your total brand. Meaning that they are ways for someone to remember and recognize your business visually.

Your visual brand needs to be cohesive and memorable so that on glance whether someone is on your website, social channels or watching a presentation, will know precisely what they are looking at.

Some of the things to consider when creating your visual brand:

  • Getting the logo right, find a designer who is more about the end product than the number of revisions and iterations.
  • Create a consistent color palette by choosing a few colors that reflect the vibe of your brand.
  • Choose fonts that match the personality and be sure they have web-ready versions.
  • Select your images to reflect your message and audience.
  • Plan a photo shoot with a photographer who gets your brand and can help bring it to life.

Your visual brand needs to reflect the audience as much as yourself, so keep that in mind when creating and choosing the visual pieces.

Content Strategy

The content strategy of your brand is an essential element that many people forget to plan or make part of their overall identity.

Your content strategy is not an option for you to remain competitive. Your visitors and potential customers need to know you are authentic, relatable and engaging. Your content (written, video, images, and audio) are what can make or break the sale for you.

Start with your story. Everyone has a story, and people love a great story because it allows us to connect with you emotionally and we remember details and concepts more through stories.

Think about the details of your business – how did you get started, why are you in business, what was the turning point that got you here.

According to Neil Patel, “Simple stories are better. Science says so, and experience affirms it. While we may love the complexity of a Harry Potter plot, we can’t import that same complex model into the brand story. We need simplicity. Every story has a beginning, a middle, and an end.”

Content not only helps the audience know like and trust you, but it helps with your SEO efforts so that the search engines return the content you have to offer in their results.

Varying your content to the needs of the audience will help you to connect with different types of people so be sure to add your content personalities to your identity. Some of us are great with video while others have the gift for gab by way of a podcast and we are all capable of written content.

By defining which content you create with ease and working that into your overall plan, you will find it easier to create for the needs of your visitors and audience.

What's Next?

Download the free resources guide of handpicked tools that will help you put together your brand identity.

BRAND IDENTITY TOOLS

Download the FREE resource guide that includes tools and apps for helping you create amazing brand elements.

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You'll get immediate access to the download, and each week I’ll visit your inbox and share an action item to help you with your website and online space but you can leave at any time, promise.

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Using Your Audience Profile vs. Audience Persona In Your Digital Marketing

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define your audience persona.

Audience profiles and audience personas. Do you know what to use when and why? Keep reading to find out what each are, why you need both and how they work together to keep you on top of your perfect client.

I remember like it was yesterday a conversation between gram and I. Being a rebel I didn't listen to anyone except this wise old woman who I thought had tons of skin in my game of life. She told me to be careful with who you surround yourself because they will either make you thrive or wither and die a slow death.

A little dramatic I thought, but I banked this little ditty into my brain for safekeeping. Who would have known that this advice would be a driving force in my entrepreneurial journey? Because knowing who you want to work with, partner with and who you don't is the first step to success in business.

Think back to when you were in your prime and your group of friends. They either stuck or they didn't. Some will be there for life and some for a short time. Because we grow and change and grow some more. It's the same with your audience. You need to find your “ride or die” people, your I'd “definitely take a vacation with them” people, your “keeping you at an arms distance” people and all those in between.

People matter!

And people matter in your marketing, digital space and as your perfect clients.

We know that if you don't know who you are talking to is hard to market to them. It's like throwing spaghetti at the wall and see if anything sticks. The key to getting the spaghetti to stick though is to make sure it's properly cooked.

Same goes for your marketing. You need to know what goes into the pot and what the outcomes are before you can cook the perfect pasta.

This is where both your persona and profile come into play. And it's important to remember that the two should work together in your marketing plan. But before we talk about how to create the right version of each, let's talk about what the job of each one is.

client and customer attraction.

AUDIENCE PROFILE

Also, know as your target market, target audience or customer profile – the goal is to use it to pull people together into larger groups. Your audience profile is basically a summary of trends, historical data, and some research. There aren't about the behaviors and more about the demographics.

For example, you identify your target market as 40 something small business owners in Pennsylvania who use laptops more than smartphones because they work from their home office rather than on the go.

As you can see the profiles contain generic, basic information: geographic location, age, devices, browsers, etc. So rather than use the information to craft your content at the various buying stages, you use the data to see if your efforts are working in your marketing strategies.

One piece that is often overlooked when crafting an audience profile is knowing what the audience wants. Are they looking for engaging content or actionable information? How about which type of content works best for them – written, visual or video? These questions can all be answered by watching your numbers.

But before we talk about that let's define the persona.

AUDIENCE PERSONA

Your audience persona is also called by the name buyer persona, ideal client and target persons and is a much more zoomed-in overview of who you are trying to attract. They represent your users and it's not uncommon to have multiple personas.

But you need to be careful that you don't create too many personas because that will make your marketing and content planning seem scattered and overwhelming. Your personas are manifestations of the person at the end of your sales funnel and shouldn't be created for every potential customer you want. A good practice is to keep them at three, based on the pain points you need to address.

If you broke your audience down to solutions and objections you may have something that looks like this:

Dana DIYer, who has zero interest in paying big bucks for your solutions because she doesn't see the value in spending money on getting the help she needs. Dana is looking for information on how to achieve the results she wants. She wants her information in bite-size actionable chunks that she can implement herself while she builds her business and budget. The message voice for Dana would be informal and understanding.

On the opposite end, you have Leslie Level-upper who already knows that to get ahead she needs quality targeted help. Leslie wants solutions and isn't affected by the minor details and action steps. She wants it done for her and isn't afraid to invest. She's busy creating magic and consumes content different than Dana. She wants a confident expert and connector.

And somewhere in the middle, you have Debbie Done With You who is on the verge of being a breakout star. She's upwardly mobile and needs to start assembling her team of all-stars. Debbie wants to be in the know but is emerging from her DIY role. She needs a mix of content that will inspire, educate and instill confidence that you can address all her objections.

As you can see from the above examples, each illustrates how you need to talk to the right people at the right phase of the journey. Each persona will help you determine which marketing campaign will work for each audience. So if you're addressing Debbie DWY with some how-to tips, you may want to create some videos so that she can visually get to know you are a person and not a business.

Now that you know who is what and how they fit in, let's talk about some strategies for creating both.

CREATING YOUR AUDIENCE PROFILE

When creating your audience profile, you need to know who your reader is, how you can reach them, the best times to reach them and where they are coming from. The goal here is to turn data and insights into information.

There are lots of places that you can find this data but it's good to start with your analytics and competitive analysis. Let's look at:

The Types.

  1. Consumers. These are the people who buy good for their own use and benefit.
  2. B2B. This group is made up of individuals and organizations who buy for direct use in creating other products or for use in their day-to-day operations.
  3. Resellers. The middlemen (or women) who buy or promote goods and resell them for a profit, sometimes known as affiliates.

You can make this determination based on what you are offering. You need to determine your type because this is the base of your marketing message. If you are attracting resellers and affiliates, you'll need to create content and a website that allows them to pull and share with their people. You'll also need to make sure the checkout process is smooth and seamless.

The Behaviors.

  • Where do they get their information? i.e., social media, direct search, friends, and colleagues.

  • What type of content do they consume? Video, written, podcasts, IG stories are some places that will refer traffic to your site.
  • What type of devices do they use? It's a given that your website needs to be responsive but are your people using smartphones over laptops or tablets to find their solutions.
  • What browsers do they use regularly? Some Mac owners will only use Safari, while others will use Firefox and Chrome. It does make a difference because sites display differently on each individual browser.

Knowing the behaviors of your audience will allow you to create the best experience for them by creating content that works for the devices they use.

The Demographics.

  • What is the age range of your most popular visitors?
  • Are they mostly male or female?
  • Where are they located and what language do they speak?
  • Where are they in the purchasing process?
  • What is the main action they should take?

By understanding your audience and how they think and feel, you'll get closer to what drives them to make a purchase. Men research and buy differently than women because they are wired differently. And everyone is at a different place in the journey so you need to create for that too.

This is the reason that you have an audience profile or target profile.

Now that you have the outline of your audience it's time to bring them to life

CREATING YOUR AUDIENCE PERSONA

You know the details but isn't it better to talk to a person and not a statistic. Your customers or clients are people too. So let's give them an identity. Putting names to faces humanizes them and it's easier to relate and predict how they will react and behave.

The Profile

Take the demographic information you've collected from the profile and give it a little more detail.

  • What is their education and how do they like to learn?
  • What income do they get from their business or job (or both)?
  • What is their career path and how did they end up where they are today?
  • Do they have a family, are single, caregivers or something else?

The information you gather here gives you the foundation of your persona. All the details that are easy to find with a little research. But that's not enough because we need to know how they think and act.

The Motivators

Goals, dreams, and challenges that drive the decisions your people make and send them on a quest for solutions to their problems. You need to find out:

  • What does it mean for them to be successful?
  • What does that success look like?
  • What role do they play in their lives? Are they a social giver, an adventurer, an introvert?
  • What challenges do they face the will affect their decisions?
  • What objections do they have?
  • What is their big hairy audacious goal or dream?

We all have something that motivates us to move forward in this game of life. Not all paths are large and in charge, some may be as little as gaining an hour of time in their day to concentrate on well being. And these are the things that lead us to habits.

The Watering Holes

These are their everyday habits and things that will help you reach them where they are. You need to know:

  • What groups do they belong to or associations they are a part of?
  • What do they read or listen to?
  • How do they gather new information to improve their daily lifestyle?
  • How do they communicate with their peers, friends, and family?
  • What do they do for fun?
  • What are their hobbies and interests?

At the core, people have individual habits that together make up their day in the life stories.

It's now time to craft a glimpse into what your persona's daily life looks like.

Tell Their Story

Create a brief 200-300 word personal account of based on all the information you've gathered. This makes them like a friend you've known forever. It makes them more real because you've given them a backstory to build on.

Here's one of mine:

persona Mark has a backstory.

Mark is a savvy business owner who had a successful transition from corporate to entrepreneurship. He has done well with the licensed products he offers as solutions but needs to professionally present them and network to continue to build his client list.

Mark has tons of leads but needs to engage with them and turn them into brand ambassadors. He knows to make that happen he needs to utilize technology but as an “old guy” doesn’t want to take on another role he isn't comfortable with. He is looking for a partner who can advise and make things happen.

Mark needs to be able to work remotely since he is getting more and more speaking, keynote and presentation opportunities. He needs to be able to easily process orders, answer inquiries and consult with his team. He also wants his solutions to play nice with ActiveCampaign including the CRM so that he has everything updated when he's on the road.

He reads national news and business publications as well as industry blogs and articles. Mark also enjoys videos and watches TED talks and YouTube to expand his business knowledge. He is active on LinkedIn and Twitter but is open to being wherever his clients are. He also loves to explore his surroundings by visiting small or local shops in whatever community his travels take him to.

Can you relate to Mark now? By drawing a big picture, you can clearly see where the gaps are in how his story intertwines with yours. And by having a profile, you can see if you're hitting the marks on the individuals you are trying to reach.

CRAFTING YOUR PERSONA

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CONCLUSION

There is a difference between your profile and persona with one working to enhance the other. Remember that neither is set in stone and will need to be tweaked and massaged as you grow. Sometimes talking through the process allows you to really dig deep. Schedule a free mini session today to get the party started and find the guests you want to join in.

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How To Brand Your Business On A Bootstrap Budget

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branding your business.

Do you have your online presence on hold because you don’t have a logo or brand for your business? Well, I’m here to tell you don’t let that stop you from doing business online.

I remember when I started everyone said you needed two things to brand your business: a business name, and a logo so that people could identify you.

So I researched and researched all about business branding. And, I became so focused on the logo that I did not realize my business brand was more than just that. What I missed what that you needed to take into account your ideal client. But as a new business, many of you are figuring that out as you go. So while your company name may not change your brand will indeed evolve.

Now I’m not telling you to buy an on the cheap logo that has no thought behind it. I’m telling you to put the crucial pieces in play so you can start the evolution. You’re trying to attract the ideal person you want to do business with but stay true to who you are.

So my first brand looked like this, corporate and sterile so that I could attract “high-end” clients for my business.

red white and black color pallette

But corporate was not me or who I wanted to be. I wanted to help solo entrepreneurs who've left the business world and work for themselves. Those colors did not reflect that or that I’m am an earthy person who loves outdoors and freedom. And adventure. So you can already see that this brand was not well thought out. But I went ahead and paid for a logo and used the logo that didn't fit with who I was a business.

I should have concentrated on my people, and my values and I would have know that blue was my color. The color blue creates calmness (for my stressed clients) and shows creativity. It symbolizes trust, strength, and wisdom. Me to a tee and what I wanted my clients to feel about my business. Plus, blue hates confrontation and likes to do things its way. Again part of my values.

Your brand is less about your logo and more about your message. The visuals are important, but the message is the key to making it work.

How do you know where to begin when you're not a designer and on a limited budget. Here are a few places to start.

1. Start With Your Why

As busy business owners, we focus on the what and the how instead of considering why we are doing this thing called entrepreneurship.

When you brand your business, it starts with digging into the “why” behind why. It’s the core value of your business, and yes it’s important.

Some new business owners try to fit into another's mold because those businesses (or people) are the hot ticket for now. Pulling off being a hard ass using cuss words won’t work if the core of your business is to showcase your gentle nature.

And while your business will continue to evolve and change over time, your core values will remain the same because they are who you are.

Action: Make a list of your core values, and be honest about them.

2. Sum Up Your Mission In One Sentence

You may have heard the term unique value proposition. Your UVP defines how you will serve your clients using what makes you different. It’s the cornerstone of your brand story. It’s the one simple sentence you use to describe what you do to any person you meet.

It’s likely you won’t hit it out of the park on your first try, and that’s okay because it will grow and evolve with you. It’s important to find something simple that people resonate. So experiment on how people react to what you’ve chosen.

Action: Create your UVP statement and practice by sharing in your Facebook groups.

3. A Simple Typographic Logo will Do

I’ve seen some pretty bad logos over my years as a web designer. We try to cram everything into our logo including a rainbow of colors and fonts.

Don’t let not having a fancy expensive branded logo stop you from having a branded presence. Over time your name may change, your vibe may change, so it’s okay to start simple and get yourself out there.

When you brand your business, start with the key pieces by choosing a single font that’s easy to read when printed tiny. The right font is important too for your website since we now read on devices of all sizes. Your primary fonts will need to carry over to your site, also to you printed materials.

Look at these popular typography logos:

typography based logos

Action: research other companies, competition, and colleagues with simple text logos

4. Choose Your Color Palette

Colors affect human emotion and behavior including purchasing decisions, so you need to pick colors to craft a good vibe for your visitors.

You should also keep your color palette simple by choosing one dominant and one secondary color. The dominant flow will be the foundation for your logo and your visual brand. Use your dominant color for heading on your site because it adds a tad more visual interest.

The secondary color, saved for accents, should be used for links, button, and other clickable action elements. One common problem I see is that people use their primary color for heading and buttons or links. Using the same color for everything can confuse your visitor.

Your color palette will allow you to pick a range of colors to use, allowing your visitors to see different information quickly.

You should also choose a few neutral colors such as black, gray, beige and white. Neutral colors enable you to create contrast in different areas that will guide attention to where you want it.

 

Action: Choose your dominant color and create a palette for your visual brand.

5. Bringing It All Together

Once you have all the pieces in play, it's time to bring them together in a document often referred to as a style guide. The will be the cornerstone when you brand your business to keep things consistent across the board.

Your style guide contains your logo, colors palette, and typography so that you can quickly reference to make your visual brand cohesive. Your style guide will also come in handy when you are ready to create your website, your social visuals and the elements to promote your business.

You can create your guide in a word document or use an app like Canva. The guide only needs to be available for reference when needed.

Action: Create your style guide and put it where you can have easy access and quickly share.

Now that you have your brand together it’s time to put it to use. Begin by creating a simple business card that you can share at networking events. Customize your templates like proposals, contracts, invoices and such. Use your colors to choose images, so they match with your visual brand.

And of course, use your new brand style to help when creating your new website. Keep it all consistent, so you become easy to recognize visually.

Are you having trouble with your brand? Let’s talk about fixing that.

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Website Marketing – The ABC’s to Making Your Site Stand Out

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Website Marketing ABCs to make your website stand out

While doing lots of website reviews, I see people are so worried about getting their business message out that they often few forget the few essential cornerstones of website marketing, which is to catch the attention of prospects.

It’s summertime here in the Burgh and with that comes tons of outdoor vendor events. For those who’ve never been, it’s a gathering of makers and such selling their wares. Because these events are free, and we as a whole are always looking for something cool to settle a problem, the crowds are usually pretty good.

My favorite part, besides the yummy food vendors, is to watch the crowd and see where the popular booths are. That usually means that there’s either some good deal or something cool that you wouldn’t have noticed before. Many times it could be the same items that others have, but this particular vendor is doing something to get the lookie-loos to stop and take notice. Foot traffic is a lot like web traffic. Tons will walk by unless you give them what they need to stop and browse!

Website Marketing – Making Your Site Stand Out

Here is a quick A-B-C guide to help your “booth” be the popular one. Enter, website marketing:

ABOUT your customer

Many sites talk AT their people instead of talking TO them. We tend to focus on the benefits of our product or service instead of the needs and solutions to the problems people may be having. Every page on your website needs to be about your customers! The key to successful marketing when it comes to your website is getting your prospect to realize that you are the end-all to the bug up their butt.

We also need to draw them into the conversation. You still have to show your visitors what you can do, what you can provide and what pain-point you’re solving, but don't forget to take it to the next step. Ask yourself, are you having a conversation with them? Drawing them in with words they use and hitting on emotions that they feel is going to start making them feel connected. You need to make sure you are answering their internal question of “what’s in it for me?”

Making the copy about your customer is a surefire way to get them onboard. Never forget how important it is to build the relationship with the visitor, rather than always trying to sell them a service! Answering questions they may be coming to your website with and making them feel that they are finding the information they are looking for will always benefit you both!

BE the authority

How many times have you heard people buy from who they know, like and trust? Some continue to jump right into the “marry me” phase during the marketing of our websites.

There are a few ways to achieve this simple step. You can tell your story with a “been there done that” twist that will allow the prospect to relate to your trials and tribulations. I remember at one event I went to on an unusually hot day, and there must have been a hundred snack vendors. I was a little worried about the “safety” of samples since it was so stinking hot.

There was one vendor who had snacks in all these different chilling contains to keep them fresh. Right then I knew Cathie the vendor knew her stuff. And that was drawing the attention of a lot of people who knew the same thing! Here's the best part: Each different cooling container had “a story” of how it came to be and why. Some were as simple as “I saw it on Pinterest from a favorite chef” and others included tales of how her family had been doing this from way back in the day for picnics on the farm.

By the time she was done explaining where the idea had come from and why it worked so well, you were hooked. Not only that, but you were instantly connected and invested with her. And guess what, she sold a ton of stuff that day! I know because I asked.

And speaking of the ask,

CALL to action

Every page needs at least one, sometimes more than one so that the visitor doesn't have to think about what to do next. Back to my snack-selling vendor friend. At the end of every story she threw in “did you know you can turn that into a hot dip too?” or  “would you like a few recipes for those?” and “I’m selling 5 for the price of 4, let’s add two more to your order.”

Your call to action doesn't need always to be a buy now or shop here. It can be other useful ways to use the information. So let's say we're talking about automation on your website, and I mention adding a scheduling program like Acuity. Because of that, I would say that in addition to keeping your scheduling easy, it also gives you the start of a customer touch program because each appointment now has a customer record! The call to action would be to check it out. Easy!

I do this to be helpful and to give the visitor the power of making an informed decision. So I've hit on the authority and the call to action in one swoop >> “easy downloads, go check them out” which gives your users the next step in the decision. It's as easy as a click of a button!

You don't need the “Buy Now” and “Contact Me” as every option. Add in things like “See The Next Article” or “Get My Free Kick-Ass Thingy.” How about “Got Questions, Ask Me Here?” You are looking to market your business through using different ways that your prospect or visitor to get to know you and to establish a rapport with you.

The end goal is always to make the sale, but website marketing is more than selling. With these three easy items, you can quickly start to change your website to be a client attractive space.

Not sure where to start or how? Book a mini session with me to talk about tackling one of your A-B-Cs.

There you have it – short, simple and to the point. Remember you have 3-5 seconds to make a first impression. Use your time wisely and you will see that people will want to come along for your ride. Website marketing is exactly how you're going to accomplish that!

 

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Are you defining your ideal client to be your ideal client?

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Are you defining your ideal client to be your ideal client?

Do you have one person that you are talking to on your website? You know who I’m talking about, the “Ideal Client”. No? Are you defining your perfect client to be your favorite client? Read on to see how I finally made this happen.

Years ago I attended a seminar by Beth Caldwell of Pittsburgh Professional Women titled “Million Dollar Marketing Makeover”, which included exercises to find your ideal client and target market. That was 2009 (at the beginning of my entrepreneurial journey)!

Before I walked into the seminar, I thought I knew my ideal client. However, after completing the exercise and sharing information with the group, I realized that I did not have a defined target market and, therefore, had a weak marketing plan. I DID know that I had to give them a name and personalize them, though.

Fast forward a few years and that elusive ideal client was still not defined and pinpointed. I was on a call with Suzanne Evans of Hell Yeah Marketing who said it takes working with 100 clients to find your true ideal client. And it hit me. I was trying to find who I liked to work with the best outside of who I was actually working with.

So I did what I do best and removed myself from the box. You know, the one we put ourselves into by listening to ALL of the experts and everyone else.

You see, Beth showed me the questions to ask, and Suzanne showed me the places to look, so I had a pretty good layout of the groundwork. Now it was time to apply it to MY people.

We all know there are clients we hate working with, sometimes because they are not a good fit and other times because they suck the life right out of you. On the flip side, there are clients we wish we could clone and use that mold in each and every inquiry!

That’s where we start – our love/hate list.

Action One: Look at who you’ve worked with

Now before you say, ‘ooh I’m just starting out I don’t have a list,’ look at people you’ve worked within your job, your volunteer hours, your kid’s school, your neighbor. You need to look at who irritates the crap out of you and who you could hang with for hours.

Check, that list completed! Now it was time to move onto asking the defining questions. So I pulled out that handy list of where they worked, vacationed, what they read and their favorite color.

And it hit me; I don’t care about this. What the hell does their vacation have to do with their website? I was applying the B2C questions to my B2B audience. Basically, I was looking for love in all the wrong places.

Now it was time to redefine the questions.

Action Two: What qualities do I want an ideal client to have

I’ve worked with people on limited budgets and no budgets. I’ve worked with moms, dads, grandmas, single ladies, married men. They vacation and they don’t, they spend their time on the beach, at the tee-ball game, and on porchville.

That information did not help me with what mattered to my ideal client. What I wanted to know was, would they respect my boundaries? Do they understand that being a business owner means you don’t need to work 24/7? Are they open to new ideas and ways of doing things?

[bctt tweet=”Instead of asking the questions about things that are important to your people, start with things that are important to YOU.” username=”leedrozak”] I know we’re talking about meeting their needs, but if you don’t meet yours first, you’ll grow to hate them. Trust me on this one.

Doing those two, small steps, sure cleared a lot of people from my list! But it also opened the door for so much more This allowed me the chance to look in all the right places to find new connections and people who would be the bomb.

It was time to build new relationships.

Action Three: Go where your people are and continue to refine.

It’s not enough to have the outline of your ideal client and what qualities they should possess. You need to know if you will really like them! Because people in the virtual world look great on the outside but how are they on the inside?

This is the step where you look to answer the other set of questions.  What are their needs and am I the one to fill them?

This action step does take you doing the work and can take some time. You need to learn about them, like finding out what irritates them, keeps them up at night, makes them rant or rave. [bctt tweet=”Refining your ideal client profile means you need to know if they have the problems for your solutions.” username=”leedrozak”]

But here’s the great part… as you’re refining, you’re also getting the words they use, the phrases they connect with and the frustrations they have. Which in turn, allows you to talk directly to them.

Now you have the three (sometimes) simple actions to take in defining your ideal client. So what do you do with that?

You use that to write your copy, create your images, and refine your website. Because here it comes, wait for it…YOUR WEBSITE IS NOT ABOUT YOU OR YOUR BUSINESS. It’s about your ideal client and THEIR needs and wants! You need to know how to talk to them and hit on what makes life a little easier in the long run, by looking through the lens on their side.

You also need to stay sane and the fine line between your ideal client is what qualities you want in your partnerships and what problem solutions you bring to the table.

Stop defining your ideal client by what they buy; if your stuff is that good they will invest in it! Or, where they vacation because they might have just been forced there by the family. Start looking at qualities that are important like problems that need to be solved or outcomes they are trying to achieve.

Does this change the way you look at your ideal client? 

Are you defining your ideal client to be your ideal client?

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3 Simple Ways To Find The Right Words To Describe You

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finding the right words to describe who you are

Don’t you hate when someone asks you what you or your business does, and you completely draw a blank? Why it is that all the cool girls can spit out the right words that are fun and enticing? When it comes to you – crickets, nothing, nada. To find the right words to describe what you do isn't easy for everyone.

Most people are uncomfortable talking about themselves let alone promoting what they do. Hands up here. I can when with friends but in a crowd of colleagues, nope.

I have always been confident and am knowledgeable in what I do but don’t ask me to tell the world. Find the right words?  They seemed to elude me like the plague. I was taught people don’t brag about themselves. Show not tell.

But that does not work when you are promoting a business. Especially when the business is a personal brand. Instead, we need to be persuasive.

To find the right words you need to start with what makes you unique. Or better yet, what makes your business so unique.

Knowing you want to be persuasive yet authentic, what’s a girl to do?

Ask friends

While working with a marketing mentor, she asked me what people thought of me. Thought of me. Not what I thought they would say but what they would say. I had to ask friends (and close colleagues) what three words describe me.

I was sure they would say funny, confident and caring. And some did. But many said other things I would never think describe me. I ended up with a list of about 20 words that I can use to inspire my marketing.

ask your friends to describe you

Ask your clients

To find the right words with clients is as simple as asking for a testimony. Ask your customers why they hired you. Why did they choose you over someone else? It might be because you took the time to help them make a decision or it could be because they found you relatable. Possibly it could be knowledge-based.

These decisions will help you to speak to your potential clients because you will now know what is attractive about your message and your business.

Listen to your audience

Social media has many plusses, and one biggie is you can quickly find out what people think of you. The first thing you need to look for s mentions. Are people referring to you as a go-to source? Are they saying things about you in their replies?

Then look at the lists you are on. In Twitter, you can easily find out by looking under Lists >> Member of. People give their lists related names, and you can find out what they think of you by the list part of. Some of mine are tech-web marketing, WordPress Power User, and Biz Friends.

Why are they useful, because they describe me in a way that may be relatable to you my biz friend?

Next time you are stuck for words to describe you and what you do turn to your friends, clients, and people in your circle. Instead of racking your brain to come up with the right words, let them do the work for you.

This will help you get your persuasive juices flowing and give you a different perspective of how your business is making an impression.

What words would people use to describe you? Not sure, start with your social accounts and see what types of mentions you are getting,

Still stuck, let's chat about how you can change that.

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Just Say No – To This Commenting Style on Facebook

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if you're answering questions like this, stop.

I saw this conversation on Facebook the other day, and it totally irked the shit out of me. So I decided why not write a post about it and get the air cleared.

Let me start by saying that I realized some of the comments were made by people who know the poster pretty well but that does not excuse the lack of sensitivity.

Anyway back to my story. As I was checking my personal profile, I saw a post from a connection that said: “help my site has been hacked.” There were over 20 comments on a post that was all of 2 minutes old.

Being nebby, I look at what others had to say.

Warning: This is where I start my rant. 

Here are the comments (not verbatim) that totally drove me nuts:

WordPress is not safe to use, you need to switch to Joomla. 
WordPress is not safe if you don’t have it set up correctly. Joomla is harder for people to use especially if they are comfortable having learned WordPress.

Is your username Admin?
What the hell does that matter? The account has already been hacked, and that comment only makes them feel like more of a dumbass. Picking a strong username is essential but didn't help at this point.

You are using a bad host, let me move you to my server.
Great idea, the site is down, so let's add some more complication by moving an infected site to a new host.

You know I offer WP maintenance plans.
This one took the cake. Obviously, if they knew, then they wouldn’t be in this situation and asking for help. Maybe instead of the sell, you could offer advice and then discuss keeping it safe.

Yes, I noticed that when I visited last week.
Some friend you are. A quick private message could have helped them get this sorted out. I am sure they would have appreciated the heads up instead of the salt in the wound.

The person was asking for help. They were not asking for your opinions on WordPress or a sales pitch.

Being an oversharer (sorry coach), I added this to the conversation.

“One thing you could do is contact your host to see if they have a backup and how old it is. Since you are not sure when the infection occurred I don’t know how helpful that will be.”

“Next, I would contact a company like Sucuri, who can isolate the problem and have you back up and running in no time. There is a small fee for their service but worth the expense. I deal with them regularly, so if you need help give a shout.”

“Option 2 will get you back up and running in the quickest time possible.”

It didn't stop there. After a few days, I sent a private message to the person asking how things were going and a link to a tip sheet that I have for keeping your website safe. I also offered to take a look at what they had in place to see what other improvements could be made.

For those who had a service to offer and could have been of help, made a terrible impression in my book. Because what I saw, and others to was a need to gain a client and sell as the top priority.

Maybe I gave away some of my secrets, so what. Gone are the days of selling, being replaced by relationship building.

The bottom line is when someone asks for help, just give it.

Has this ever happened to you before, feel free to rant below. Don’t forget to connect with me on Facebook where I share loads of tips and tricks for the tech end of your business.

 

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Be Real With Your Message and Marketing

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be real with your marketing message.

I was on the phone with my coach discussing why I cannot seem to get my messaging and marketing down pat. Having been stuck for a long time, I just couldn't figure out how to get to point B.

Then she said something that made me stop. She told me to get it out there, and maybe my obstacles will be your inspiration. Put it out for everyone to see and tell them how I am feeling. Don’t be apologetic; be who I am.

Low and behold, the light bulb went off between our conversation, a blog post she recently wrote, and what I know to be right for me. I have a story. We all have stories, but most times, we don’t share them. I reasoned that if I start to share my stories with you, then I have to open up the curtain. Not that I have a problem with that personally, but in my business – are you kidding me?

My being real in your message ad marketing posse at Message to Money event.

Thinking back to a conference I attended recently, I kept getting the same feedback from the ladies who I knew virtually but was meeting in real life for the first time. I was surprised by the many times I was told how different I seemed online as opposed to off. Online I'm so reserved and practiced where offline I am kicked back relaxed.

Are you being real?

I'll start by sharing a few crucial pieces of me, so you get the big picture.

  • I am a recovering perfectionist. No one does it as well as I do, right?
  • I accept people for who they are, warts and all. I don’t care if you are CEO of a Fortune 500 or custodian of that same company.
  • I find the fun in everything. If there is none, then I create some (within reason, of course).
  • I am ADD. Some call me bossy, driven, or as Gram used to say, “full of piss and vinegar.”
  • I hate texting and instant message. I like to have a conversation. I think you get so much more from talking than typing.
  • I'm a digital tech geek, but love being offline to get some sanity back.

So the fact that I know who I am and that I'm comfortable in my skin has me wondering: why am I so freaking stuck? It is because I continue to listen to what other “experts” say I should be doing and talking about instead of following my heart and doing what part of me is?

Why is being myself online so damn hard? Why am I so afraid to show you just who I am? I often wonder if I'm afraid it will narrow down my client base or maybe put me into a box as far as the services I offer. But isn't that the whole idea? To work with people who get you and hold similar values. And let the rest do somewhere else.

Now that you know the truth I'll share where I go from here.

  • I am still a recovering perfectionist but will continue to get the help I need in the areas that I need them. Go, team!
  • I'll continue to welcome everyone into my circle, although I do have some boundaries when it comes to specific topics.
  • I'll keep a light tone to my content, message, and what I share. Not always, but most times.
  • I'll accept my ADD, and as I figure out how to rein it in, I'll share with you so you too can make it your superpower.
  • I'll embrace speech-to-text so that I can get my stories out and find new ways to put words to paper. I will also embrace video, not because it's the hot thing to do, but because it is another way not to have to type.
  • I'll continue to learn about new technologies and changes to existing applications, so you don't have to.

It's all about sharing the stories. I think by peeling back the layers of stuffiness that I've built into my online persona you'll see that I struggle just like you. Maybe my “holy crap, what was I thinking?!” moments will help you to find your clarity too.

I'm not sure what happens after this, but I do know that I'm going to just do it. Just be. Do what works best for me and enjoy the ride.

Are you stuck like me trying to be a business persona – one who doesn't jive with who you really are? Let's talk about it in the comments below.

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Giving up Twitter for Lent….

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the frustration of Twitter

Well, it is that time of year again to give willingly up something to make us stronger and a better person.  I was going to abandon Twitter, and all social media for that matter, to save myself some much needed personal time during the week.  But then reality quickly set in, and I came to my senses.  Why do you ask? Well, the answer is very simple.

I log into Twitter daily, often throughout the day, but you social addicts know how it goes.  I catch up with all my Tweeps (for non-Twitters, those are Twitter people) and find out what had happened while I was in my reality.  I have conversations with those I would not normally converse while in Twitterville (yes another Twitter term).  I have met many interesting and knowledgeable folks who have helped me to think about things in a different way.

After I have all my conversations (sorry don’t know a Twitter term for that) I find interesting blogs and resources that would normally take me hours to find from all the informed folks I am following.  Not having forever time, this is a great plus for those who think Twitter is only about 140 character useless conversations.

Then there are the question and answer sessions.  Need a response, just ask the question and you will get tons of answers, help and guidance to lead you on your way.  And better yet, if you can help others who are in search of answers to their questions then you are now known as an excellent resource or as some may say, an “industry expert”.

I started with Twitter because it is a great marketing tool for my business, but I continue with Twitter for an entirely different reason.  So if you want to save some valuable time in research, get great information and resources or just want to meet some wonderful people, then you need to try Twitter as well.  And don’t you worry all my Facebook friends; I am not giving that up either.

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