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Most Recent Blog Posts

Say Something Amazing

If you want to grow your audience, you’ve got to get your readers sharing what you write. That means getting your readers to forward every newsletter you send, and to share all those blog posts you toil over.

One thing that’s great about newsletters is you can check to see how many of your readers are forwarding each issue. What numbers should you be aiming for? That depends on your list size:

  • For lists of under 100 subscribers, you can expect 5% of your readers to forward each issue.
  • For lists of 100-1000 subscribers, you can expect 7-10% of your readers to forward each issue.
  • For lists of 1000-10000 subscribers, you can expect about 10% of your readers to forward each issue.
  • For lists above 10,000 subscribers, you’re usually looking at about 5% of your subscribers forwarding each issue.

If you AREN’T getting this rate of forwarding, you’re missing out on one of the best ways to grow your audience. And, the most common reason for not hitting these numbers is not Saying Something Amazing.

(You can track your blog shares, too, but that’s trickier because there are so many ways to share a single blog post.… Keep reading

The Stories They’re Not In

Love no one cares about the stories they're not in

The last few days, I’ve been listening to Matt Nathanson’s new album The Last Great Pretender a lot and there’s a line from The Last Days of Summer in San Francisco that keeps jumping out at me. The line goes, “Love, no one cares about the stories they’re not in.”

The reason it jumps out at me is because it’s such common marketing advice, right? You’re advised at all times to keep your focus exclusively on “What’s in it for them.” (Them being your audience.) You must never just tell a story for the sake of telling a story…

I think this is truly terrible advice. Read on to find out why…

The classic WIIFM marketing acronym (“What’s in it for me?”) gets tossed around a lot. And I get it–it’s catchy and does matter (sort of). So much marketing is about stuff the customer is never going to care about, and many companies could do with more focus on their customers and less focus on their processes.

But just like most pieces of marketing advice, this one can be taken way too far. And often is.

When you let it tie you up and worry, “But will they care about this?” about everything you think about sharing… it’s time to throw WIIFM out the window.… Keep reading

Admit Defeat

Admit Defeat

Original photo by Edwin Torres Photography

Whatever it is that you do, I’m guessing there’s at least one part of it that you haven’t mastered yet (or can’t/don’t intend to). Me, no matter how many times I turn to my AP Style Guide, I always, always, always overlook something. This is why we send everything to a professional proofreading team. I’m not terrible at finding (other people’s ;-)) mistakes, I’m just not great at it. Plus, it’s really stressful for me to be the one wholly responsible for finding all the mistakes.

But before I could hire a proofreading company, I had to admit being a copy editor was not in my wheelhouse.

I had to admit defeat.

This isn’t something that comes easily for most of us. We think that in order to be professionals we have to do every single part of our job, and we have to do it to a high standard.

But here’s the thing: when there’s a part of your job that you’re doing even though you suck at it, your Tribe suffers for it.

In the first place, you’re likely to attract clients who especially want you to do that thing you’re not-so-great at.… Keep reading

Invest in People, Not Tech

Old Computers by Leif K-Brooks at

The other day I was talking to a client who was rattling off a long list of tech tools she uses in her business. There were two iPhones, a netbook, a laptop, a desktop, an iPad, a Google Chromebook, a Kindle, and a Nook (and I’m pretty sure I’m forgetting several somethings).

All of these gadgets were supposed to make things easier for her so that she could manage more on her own.

But it hasn’t worked that way. Instead, it’s left her feeling more overwhelmed than ever and more like she must do it herself because she canAfter all, she’s invested so much–how can she possibly admit defeat now?

She wanted me to direct her to another app that could rescue her or another program that would make things easier but instead (perhaps because of my own sudden confrontation with physical limits–thanks back pain!) I said, “There are people who can do this for you, you know.”

I get it, that drive to do everything yourself.

I can relate to wanting to be able to, wanting to prove yourself competent. The belief that you can do it all better than anyone else (oy do I know that one!).… Keep reading

Feed the Ducks

When I was a bit under 2, my grandmother took me to the duck pond. She gave me a slice of bread and sent me off to feed the ducks.

Except I didn’t. Instead, I clutched the piece of bread while the ducks gathered all around me, trying to grab it. They’d come close and I’d turn my back on them. Round and round we went until my grandmother intervened and showed me how to break off pieces of bread and toss them to the ducks.

We do this with our Tribes, too.

We create this amazing thing and we drop hints and we gather everyone round the campfire and then…

Frank Atkins feeding ducks at Madison Park on Lake Washington, December 20, 1956 from IMLS Digital Collections and Content.

We clutch that slice of bread close to our chests and keep turning round and round in circles.

It’s cute when you’re two.

When I was a teenager, we had ducks (and chickens and sheep and horses that weren’t ours but that somehow I was responsible for taking care of… *sigh* that’s living in the country for you!). So I can say with some experience that when you don’t feed the ducks, they get pretty cranky pretty fast.… Keep reading

Taste the Clever

Taste the Clever

Blue tongues by Loren Kerns

Too many of us think online marketing and brand building is all about being clever. We think that if we just say the right things in the right way at the right time to the right people, they’ll be dazzled by our sparkling wit and rush to hire us.

And so we aim to be always “on” on Twitter, tweeting only things that are ROTFL. We try to write blog posts that put our oh-so-boring competition to shame. We choreograph elevator pitches that are so darn “memorable” that no one knows what the heck it is we do (but, hey, at least they remember they don’t know what the heck it is we do, right?).

The problem with all this is that, assuming you’re actually being clever instead of just trying to be clever, when you’re so clever all the time, your Tribe starts to find you “larger than life.” That means they often don’t approach you, even to hire you.

Most of us are building a Tribe because we want to support them and interact with them, not because we want to sit on a mountaintop somewhere and pontificate (cleverly) about something.… Keep reading

Connect the Dots

Connect the Dots

Star Chart by Miguel Saavedra

Last week, I shared something deeply personal with my newsletter list. And it’s funny, as hard as writing the post and clicking publish was, there was something that was even harder:

Not relating it back to your business.

Usually, what I share here is actionable, practical, and hands-on. I often challenge you to use what I’m offering in some specific, tangible way. And I had a couple different ideas for how losing my home when I was a kid sharing your message.

But I didn’t.

Because there’s something that I tell my clients often, but that when it comes to my own writing, I find it nearly impossible to trust.

If you write each sentence to be the truest sentence that you can muster… If you follow the story you’re telling from beginning to end… If you share what you most need to share in that moment…

You can release what you’ve written knowing that the readers who need it will get what they need from it.

I like to tie things up in a bow for you. I like to lead you through the article and wrap it in soundbite.

And there’s nothing wrong with that until it becomes the only way I’m comfortable communicating with you.Keep reading

Now they see sky and remember what they are

They see sky and remember what they are.

I’ve always adored this quote from Firefly. The characters are discussing cows. But I think it’s true for people, too. Or at least, it’s true for me. It can be easy to get cooped up, whether physically or metaphorically, and forget what I’m capable of. But seeing the sky can change things in an instant.

So, I took some time to play with the quote and design it for you. (I’d like to share some of the behind-the-scenes design work we’re working on right now, but we’re up to our eyeballs in NDAs, so I thought I’d do some personal work to share instead.)

Here, I’m sharing the web-friendly version. If you’d like a full size 8.5 x 11 printable, here’s where you can download it.

(You’re welcome to print it out and stick it on your wal, but please don’t sell it. It’s for personal use only. Thanks!)

Thank you for your kind emails and comments on my last post–I’ll be replying to each of you personally, but wanted to mention here how very much I appreciate them and you. Thank you!… Keep reading

Knock Knock…

Watch to see:

  • That I like really silly jokes (there’s a reason I loved working in a kindergarten classroom all those years ago!)
  • How to guarantee your new subscribers click your links
  • How to ensure readers respond to your emails

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Also, if you need some help with all that writing, you may want to pick up a copy of my how to write a sales letter program. Sales Page Play Dates makes the process of writing about your business easy and effective (not to mention fun!). It’ll really be a big help if you’d like to do the writing yourself.… Keep reading

Savor Something

Savor Something

Psst, have you noticed something about my new Twitter background? It’s populated with some of my favorite ways to be irresistible.

This week, we’re going to take a look at an approach that’s absolutely crucial to master if your Brand Siren is Elizabeth Taylor. (Don’t know who your Brand Siren is? Take the quiz!)

Read on even if your Brand Siren isn’t the lovely Taylor–Savor Something is a great technique regardless. It’s trickiest, though, for those whom Taylor champions.

We live in a digital world. You could spend your entire day chained to one digital device or another and get almost all of your needs met. (It’s not just me who finds that kinda creepy, right?)

When we’re at work, it can be tempting to talk about what we’re doing at the computer–the articles we’re reading, the chats we’re engaged in, the emails we receive, the work we’re doing–but those are experiences we can all have, all at the same instant. There’s nothing particularly remarkable about it.

Your physical experience, however, that’s pretty unique. Whether it’s snowing or blustery or sunny, whether you’re enjoying a hot cup of coffee or chai, whether you’re wearing fuzzy socks or your least comfortable shoes… That’s all you.… Keep reading