The Story We Tell Ourselves About Our Work

Tell better biz stories

Candice is a masterful seamstress.

She can design or alter a garment, exquisitely, to custom fit your body. Short torso, wide hips, long arms, square shoulders, thick waist, flat rear — doesn’t matter.

Nothing is a challenge for this sewing wizard.

Whatever your body type or wardrobe issue, Candice’s exceptional talents are guaranteed to solve your problem and make you look and feel like you’re donning high-end designer apparel.

Yeah, she’s THAT good.

And speedy, to boot.

She can hem a fancy schmancy prom dress in record time! Seems she’s called upon for these last-minute [sewing] emergencies every year … and she pulls through with grace.

Same goes for brides and their wedding gown emergencies. Candice has been known to show up at the church, needle and thread in hand, ready to work her wizardry and save the day.

With all the tailor-made miracles Candice produces, she has one BIG problem — her story.

The story she tells herself about her work is borderline dismal and it shows in her marketing.

When you visit her website, her blog and About Page leave the impression she’s a plain Jane who just happens to know how to run a sewing machine. Too bad, cause she’s SO much more than that!

Sadly, she’s been telling herself her work isn’t anything special; just ordinary and uninteresting.

But you and I know that’s not true.

Do you see any part of yourself in Candice? Maybe your story isn’t painting a true picture of your gifts and your worth. Maybe you’re leaving your target audience with a skewed impression.

Would you love to learn how to tell better biz stories?

I’m talking about stories that enrapture your prospective clients or customers, speak straight to the heart of their challenges, and entice them to choose you over your competition.

If that sounds like something you, your biz, and your bottom line can benefit from …

My amazing friend and colleague, Tea Silvestre Godfrey of Story Bistro, is hosting her second annual Storytelling Soiree in Portland, OR, the weekend of August 8th and 9th and I’m nudging you to attend!

Here’s the thing:

If you can’t attend in person, Tea’s got you covered. You can grab a virtual ticket and attend from anywhere — poolside, your couch, home office, kitchen table, or even your bed.

And to make this event extra sweet:

Tea is offering you, my dear reader, 25% off the ticket price when you reserve your spot before July 1st. At checkout, just use the code, MELANIEPAL25, for your exclusive discount.

I’ll be a virtual attendant this year. I was super excited about making the trip to Portland when I got the surprising news of a new California grandbaby on the way. So I’ll have my bags packed here in Arizona and be “on call” for labor coaching duty (and a long drive).

Just hope the baby waits till the Storytelling Soiree is over. It’s a one-of-a-kind event created by a one-of-a-kind storytelling genius and I can’t wait!

Scope out the details today and don’t pass on the opportunity to tell better biz stories. Those stories begin with YOU and an understanding of your primary business story type.

I’d Get Nothing Done If Productivity Wasn’t So Much Fun

Productivity and fun are not mutually exclusive

If there’s no fun involved, please count me out.

I insist on taking my inner child with me wherever I go. We come as a package deal.

Playing dominoes, cards, and board games, outdoor activities like hopscotch, roller skating, and bicycle riding, and creative art projects with paint, clay, and crayons were the lifeline to fun when I was a kid.

Then there was swimming in the icy cold Allegheny River — which tempered me in steel and boosted my immunity to all things bug-ish and bacteria. (Heaven only knows the germs lurking in that river!) But, hey, it worked.

Jumping off the dock was pretty scary but it was also a thrill. Oh, you didn’t know introverts are some of the biggest thrill seekers? Yep. It’s true.

Saturday mornings as a kid meant ONE thing: Cartoons. Yippee! And then weekend household chores to follow. Ugh. Boo.

Here’s the thing:

At about age 7, I learned to kill two birds with one stone. Marrying chores with fun was the goal.

I dusted and polished all the furniture, knickknacks, window sills, and baseboards in my parents’ living room while watching my favorite cartoons. (Plus I made a habit of lifting the couch cushions during episodes of the Road Runner or Mr. Magoo, which usually awarded me a nickel or dime and sometimes even a quarter in tips.)

Once I entered adulthood, nothing much changed. I remained steadfast in my goal to find ways to accomplish tasks while making sure I’m having a good time.

Come to my house on a Saturday morning and you’ll hear music playing before you reach the front door. Is there a party going on? Nope. Clean sheets are going on the beds.

Wondering how I put the Productivity + Fun duo to work in my business?

When I’m writing: I sit down and settle in to enjoy the background sounds of a thunder storm. (I LOVE the rain.)

When I need to edit blog images: I play around with PicMonkey, Canva, iPiccy, or Pablo. Playing is important, y’know. It’s the perfect companion to working your butt off.

When I’m listening to marketing podcasts: I write poetry. You can find some of my poems in the comment boxes at Web.Search.Social. They’ve awarded me the esteemed designation of Poet Laureate.

When I want to develop an idea: I’ll always be a kid at heart. I doodle it out with crayons, pencils, or colored markers. Or I wordle it out. Right now I’m developing an idea for a blog post about how and where I spend my time online (and probably “why”).

Here’s how I’ve wordled out my idea:

wordle

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

While the morning coffee is brewing: I do a six-minute exercise workout. Yes, it’s fun and it doesn’t involve weights, machinery, or pain. I’ve discovered pain and productivity don’t play nicely together. Just ask Tea Silvestre Godfrey to share her broken ankle adventure. She’ll back me up on that.

Where do you go from here?

I’m giving my highest recommendation to this stop.

Being wicked productive doesn’t have to come at the cost of fun. Joy can be had when you’re at your most efficient. Each month, a group of wickedly smart business owners come together for the Word Carnival to discuss a business topic, this month – we’re covering Fun and Productivity, and how both can exist, side-by-side.

The Mainstay of My Business is Not a Tool or Technique or Tactic or Even a Thing

Human kindness keeps my biz turntable spinning

The mainstay of my business is human kindness. (Translation: HEART)

Lots of beautiful heart is the buttress of my business.

No, not my heart, though it beats with conviction through the daily challenges of my work and everything I do.

It’s the endless generosity, undeniable and unsurpassed wisdom, and everlasting kindness of my colleagues — my secret and saucy ingredient for success.

Because …

It’s not by chance that people meet
And the right souls gather together
When such a special bond is formed
It’s bound to linger beyond forever

People fade in and friends fade out
It’s the love and lessons that matter
It’s the memories that we’ll cling to
Everything else is noise and chatter

To say I appreciate the friendship, collaboration, humor, support, and camaraderie of my colleagues would be an understatement. To say I cherish them wouldn’t do my soul justice.

So let me tell you about this distinctive group of characters and you’ll understand why they carry the kind of meaning that can never be measured.

The Heart of My Business

She honors her magic through stories
She’s a Capricorn through and through
Her bold and brilliant creative writing
Will enrapture the very depths of you

A master at anything tricky or techie
He’s got website development wired
I love how he never minces his words
And that his nastiest clients get fired

She can be feisty and argue a point
Bravely challenging the status quo
I’m keeping her in my back pocket
In the event I am attacked by a foe

If they gave an award for diligence
And one for persistence and class
It would go to a freelance writer
Who’s classy and mighty darn fast

I’d compare her writing to a song
One that’s at the top of the charts
Mediocrity isn’t in her vocabulary
She speaks straight from the heart

I can add and subtract and tally
But numbers, I seldom romance
She’s meticulous, smart, and fun
In the realm of business finance

I could rhyme on and on and on
Till I can’t type one more word
To mention every precious soul
Is a notion bordering on absurd

So suffice to say the list runs deep
Of helping hands and listening ears
This poem is a gigantic virtual hug
Sent with my love and happy tears

Make your next stop Mission: Storytelling!

Favorite book, pack of Oreos, lucky rabbit’s foot, four leaf clover, a kick-ass CRM and project management system. We all have our own must-have accessories to complement our day-to-day activities and get to the next level. Here’s a rundown of the things we can’t do without in our business.

I Offer Two Prices: Retail and Free

Pricing your products and services

My brain is dizzy from reading a gazillion articles on best practices for pricing your products or services and whether or not it’s a good idea to post what you charge on your website.

Is your head spinning, too?

I don’t sell any products so I usually rifle through those article segments — although bits and pieces can also be applied to pricing services.

One of the reasons I procrastinated forever and a day (and then some!) before publishing an offering on my site is because I agonized over what to charge for my copy editing services.

I was afraid to charge too little and afraid to charge too much.

And in case you’re wondering …

No, I didn’t choose to research my competitors to help me through the decision making process though that was what many of my colleagues suggested. I’m guessing some copy editors charge half my rate and some charge twice as much.

Since I work my own kind of magic, I chose not to be concerned with the value someone else places on their talents and skills.

Thing is, I look at myself as having zero competitors.

I don’t mean to come off as smug but there’s only one of me on this planet and I don’t share my brain with another human being. No one else can bring what I bring to the proverbial table — a lifetime of experience, quirky creativity, a unique tone, speed in delivery, workaholic ethics, and final drafts that make my clients smile and earn me referrals.

Some have even called me a “magical unicorn badass”. If you hire me, I’ll let you be the judge.

So I decided to price my services accordingly — I offer retail and free.

For curious minds, here’s the breakdown:

  • My blog content: Free
  • Suggested tools and resources: Free
  • Writing and grammar tips: Free
  • Connecting and networking on social media: Free
  • Email, phone, and Skype communications (a.k.a. listening ear): Free
  • Interviews, guest posts (and occasional poetry): Free
  • Proofreading and editing: Retail (Flat hourly rate – no tricks up my sleeve)

A slice of client attraction advice:

Don’t hesitate to let the [price tag] cat out of the bag.

Post your prices on your websiteDespite strong opinions to the contrary, I think it’s wise to fill your website visitors in on what you charge. Otherwise, I’m apt to think you have something to hide. Or maybe you’re a bashful introvert or you lack confidence in the value you add to your clients’ lives.

Whatever the case, please don’t leave prospective clients guessing.

Tell them what you’re worth and why. Show them you’re the person they should hire and persuade them to click the “Book Me” button. If you’re currently uncomfortable with your prices or they bring on an icky feeling, change them. It’s your business and livelihood at stake.

Service providers, what’s your biggest pricing nemesis? Do you have your fees posted on your website? If not, why?

Next stop:

Sprint over to Mission: Storytelling to catch this month’s Word Carnival posts from my fellow carnies. We’re small business owners on a mission to help you tell your story and rock your message and marketing!

Writing in the Rain: Nature’s Solution to Business Blogging Blockage and Boredom

Writing in the rain

There are times I swear I’d rather master the art of ice sculptures and boogie-woogie than write a blog post.

Even though the cat’s been out of the bag for years — I LOVE to write (and I love to beautify other bloggers’ content.)

But no matter how much I want or need to write a post, I can’t get out of first gear if I’m not in the mood for writing. Yeah, I’m one of those “moody” creatures born under a water sign.

Darn those tides! They solely and selfishly dictate my moods. {Tweet this if your birthday falls between June 22nd and July 22nd.}

Doesn’t matter if I have a dozen beautiful topic ideas or rock solid outlines staring at me, I’m frozen in my tracks. (You know, like one of those ice sculptures I could learn to carve.)

Colleagues and blogging buddies have suggested music as the steadfast solution to set the mood and get your fingers moving across the keyboard.

Might be a great ignition remedy for some business bloggers but guess what?

Not only do I love writing, I love music, as well. So turning on some background tunes will only get me humming the melody and singing the chorus. No, instrumentals won’t do the trick for me, either. I’ve tried. I find myself anticipating those mind-blowing crescendos.

If you’re like me, here’s something you’ll want to try:

Turn to the sounds of nature to get you in the mood for writing, nudge you over the boredom bump, and clear your blogging blockage. {Tweet This}

I’m one of those people who smile when it’s raining and the more thunder and lightning going on, the better.

Give the free Rainy Mood app a try and listen to the sounds of rain as you write. Their tagline reads, “Rain makes everything better.” I’m convinced they had me in mind.

Or if you prefer the sound of a crackling fire, ocean waves, or other types of sounds, visit iTunes or Appcrawlr to search for selections.

What’s YOUR secret weapon for battling boredom with your niche or banishing writer’s block?

More on this topic here:

This month’s Mission: Storytelling word carnival covers the sticky business of getting bored with your niche and what to do with yourself once that happens — when you’re bored with writing/when you’re stuck on your blog/when your calculator just doesn’t give you butterflies anymore.

Image credit: Stockvault

When Affiliate Marketers Shove Promo Links In A Blog Post Like They’re Stuffing A Turkey

Link stuffing can backfire on your blogging and marketing

Blogging and overzealous affiliate marketers can be an annoying combo.

I’ve seen them. You’ve seen them. Unfortunately, we’ve all seen them. The commission-driven, unattractive, undesirable blog posts stuffed and plump with affiliate links.

Talk about a prime time to put your cringe on and your cursor on the “x” to click away!

I get it, affiliate marketers. I really do.

You’re blogging to create sales from all the lovely items you’re peddling and promoting in partnership with the rightful owners.

Like the rest of us, you want to make some dough and cash in on your marketing efforts.

There’s not a blinking thing wrong with that goal EXCEPT

Do you think maybe, just maybe, it’s a better idea (a gentler and more digestible approach) to promote one, possibly two, items per post instead of a hefty bowl full?

Affiliate link after affiliate link after affiliate link is, well, not cool. You’re coming across as sales-y, pushy, and quite honestly, desperate.

Maybe you think we don’t notice what’s going on.

Here’s a newsflash:

You’re making it blatantly obvious. So please stop it. You’re giving blogging and affiliate marketing a bad name.

Some of the biggest offenders are affiliates for kitchen gadgets, workout videos and exercise equipment, books, electronics, cosmetics, and everything on earth related to infants and pets.

Most of us have been around the blogging block more than twice and we can smell a promotional link a mile away. Yes, we’re that good.

We welcome the pleasant aroma of one or two affiliate links but twenty-two really stink.

Instead of shoving affiliate links in till your posts burst at the seams, blow up, and spew debris over the rest of us:

1.) Share a case study.

Write about someone who’s put a product or service you’re promoting to the test. Be honest and thorough. Talk about the positives, negatives, and the end result. Include a testimonial. And please make sure it’s one that can be verified. Having your brother write a testimonial is … uh … not going to be convincing.

2.) Pick a product or service and share “why” you chose to promote it.

What’s the reason you wanted to partner with the owner/creator? What attracted you to this particular offering? For crying out loud, make certain you can speak with integrity and claim YOU actually spent money on this product or service and took it for a test drive yourself.

3.) Tell a story.

Everyone leans in on a good story and storytelling for business will never go out of style. Truth is, storytelling pays. Be creative in developing a storyline. What character from a Disney movie or sci-fi adventure can you use as the villain in your story? What fairytale or fantasy comes to mind in relationship to an item you’re promoting? How can you make your customer the hero of your story? Build on that.

4.) Interview a product creator or service provider.

Craft a short list of questions and have your interviewee answer those questions in a blog post. Share a product demonstration video. Record an audio interview and upload it to your blog. Design an infographic depicting little-known aspects, all the moving parts, or behind-the-scenes development phases of a product or service. Post interviews as SlideShare presentations or Haiku Decks. Interviews boost your credibility and increase the familiarity factor.

5.) Showcase happy buyers and/or ideal customers.

Ask your buyers to send you photos or short video clips using the physical products they’ve purchased. Selling books? Have fun and ask people to find an interesting or unusual locale to take a photo holding the book. Make it a contest to see who comes up with the zaniest or most unique photo. Selling kitchen gadgets? (I’ll let you fill in the blanks) Take the photos or videos and turn them into Pinterest graphics. Create a board devoted to satisfied buyers and/or your ideal customers and share your board on your blog and on social media. Make customers, not sales, your main focus.

Blogging and affiliate marketing can be complementary ingredients in your cookbook for success.

So affiliate marketers, stop stuffing turkeys and start crafting link-lean blog posts worth savoring. You’ll earn more commissions and we’ll put our cringe back on the shelf.

Next stop? Mission: Storytelling.

The New Year is bright with all sorts of new ideas, but in certain circles there’s still plenty of shady tricks and underhanded practices that we think should be called out. This month’s word carnival: Dirty Deeds and Due Diligence – what to watch out for in 2015!