#braveblogging | Sometimes it's okay to burn the rule book

I am Not a Rebel, Radical, or Revolutionary — Just Your Garden Variety Rule Breaker

#braveblogging | Sometimes it's okay to burn the rule book

Some rules beg to be broken.

People like me go out on a limb and break them — not to be cantankerous or confrontational but to simply navigate life differently.

I’m a gal who likes to write my own ticket, make my own rules, freelance my talents, and do a bit of messing with tradition.

Breaking away from the norm is my kind of fun.

I’m a small-town girl at heart, a recovering perfectionist, and a poster child for the introverted. I always cheer the loudest and proudest for the underdog and I love going against the grain.

Yeah, that’s about as radical as I get.

By the way, totally ignore that memo about introverts. We’re NOT anti-social and we’re great at organizing events, closets, presentations, projects, and groups of people.

We just happen to be most creative and do our best work flying solo.

And after we’ve been surrounded by large crowds of people, we need to decompress in a quiet, soothing, safe environment … alone. (With a stiff drink)

So now that I’ve hopefully cleared up some misconceptions, let’s take a stroll down my rule-breaking lane.

Sometimes it's okay to burn the rule book | #braveblogging

I Opted for a Ringless Engagement.

No flowers, no photos, no engagement dinner party, no formal announcements — no hoopla whatsoever and no ring.

What? Huh?! Yep, it’s true.

This summer my sweetie asked me to marry him. I said “Yes” … but “No, thank you” to the whole ring thing.

I’m not a jewelry person, for starters, and I think getting engaged is more about the heart-centered commitment and togetherness factor than a piece of jewelry.

When people ask to see my engagement ring (and they always do!), I tell them it’s really quite extraordinary — it’s invisible.

They usually giggle kinda nervously and respond with, “Oh, that’s different.” And they’re right. It’s different in that a ringless engagement is non-traditional and totally unexpected.

The dough my guy would have spent on an engagement ring could be much better utilized for everyday living and household expenses. You guessed it. I’m a practical-minded individual.

I Don’t Write Long Blog Posts.


This is another area I’ve chosen to break a rule and travel off the beaten [blogging] path.

I know, I know. Posts that are 2000+ words get more social shares. If I read any more stats, facts, advice, and analytics about it, I’m going to vomit.

But guess what?

I don’t write for Mr. Google or for shares, I write to add value to my readers’ lives and to their businesses.

I’ve worked hard to develop my personal writing style over the past decade of blogging.

Short, sharp posts are my signature style.

I like to call them “Pigeon Hole” posts. I zero in and get to the punchline, quickly, and people appreciate the obvious absence of frivolous fluff and filler.

My beautiful readers are busy people. They don’t have time for 2000 words! I respect them by keeping my posts short, averaging 450 – 750 words which, as a matter of interest, they generously share.

I Charge an Hourly Rate for my Copy Editing Services.

OMG!! A unicorn just died.

Nobody in my industry charges by the hour, right?!

All the well-meaning, experienced biz coaches and mentors out there are probably rolling their eyes or heading for my contact form to offer their help and set me straight.

Don’t bother contacting me, coaches and mentors. Your colleagues have already knocked on my door with their pearls of pricing wisdom.

Here’s the thing …

I have happy clients that happily pay my standard fee, which makes me do the happy dance.

And so far, the sky hasn’t fallen because I’m charging an hourly rate.

I’m more than aware I’m breaking a cardinal rule of most freelance copy editors — those who would NEVER trade hours for dollars, not even if hell freezes over!

But it works for me.

And that, my friends, is all that matters.

Please don’t think of me as off-the-wall cuckoo or pig-headed. Just think of me as your garden variety rule breaker.

Break any rules lately? Spill the beans and give me the scoop. I’m all ears. (Introverts are really good listeners.)

Makeness Media Bravery Blogging Project

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:












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