When Limits Are Freeing, Rather Than Limiting!

When Limits Are Freeing, Rather Than Limiting!

If you spend time in Facebook groups as you go about your digital marketing day, you probably see various variations on this idea:

Never set limits, go after your dreams, don’t be afraid to push the boundaries. And laugh a lot – it’s good for you!
Paula Radcliffe

or …

In our society, the women who break down barriers are those who ignore limits.
Arnold Schwarzenegger

But I have a different view of limits. I see them as a powerful part of making the most of what you do, especially what you do well! I side strongly with these two quotes from an individual most would deem an expert in his field.

Once we accept our limits, we go beyond them.
Albert Einstein

The difference between stupidity and genius is that genius has its limits.
Albert Einstein

Limits Are Legitimate!

Have you seen any of the Holiday Inn Express ads? They’ve been running for years now, so I’m guessing you’ve seen one at some point. This is one of my favorites …

Why am I sharing this? Because, as ridiculous as the concept is, if you stop and think about it, you know you’ve come across brands and individuals offering products or services and wondered if they really had the expertise and experience to back their claims.

Would you accept any schmuck off the street as your helicopter pilot? Your surgeon? Your mechanic? Hell no!

So, why do we allow social marketing schmucks and big-talking braggarts into our small business circles? Why do we consort with gurus, ninjas, evangelists and mavens?

ENOUGH!

Limits Don’t Losers Make!

We all must set limits in order to manage, maintain and grow our businesses. We must also set limits which allow us to step away from our business in order to maintain other aspects of our life, including relationships with family members and creating time for hobbies and activities outside of our business scope.

If we don’t set limits when we’re managing a project, we’re likely to fall prey to scope creep.

If we aren’t deliberate and honest about what we can actually accomplish, we may find ourselves accomplishing little, or worse – nothing.

If we don’t set limits on the length and breadth of our to-do lists, we can become a slave to the list and lose out on anything we haven’t written down.

Limits let us get back to doing what we do well. That’s a good thing, right?

Limits Can Actually Lift Your Business!

When we set smart limits we allow ourselves the room to seek out and seize opportunity.

When I hired a virtual assistant to help with some of the daily tasks that were taking up too much of my time, I then had the time to explore new service offerings and a side project that I quietly “whisper-launched” last week.

Can you do your own taxes? More than likely you could muddle through them on your own. But is it worth it? Is it worth the worry, the time invested and the time taken away from something that actually showcases your expertise? Probably not.

[clickToTweet tweet=”There’s something fabulously freeing about honestly admitting we cannot do something! ” quote=”There’s something fabulously freeing about honestly admitting we cannot do something! “]

Limit Smarter!

We are constantly seeing/hearing that we need to work smarter, not harder.

Legitimate limits are a smart part of working smarter. Limits, boundaries, realism … they’ve all been given a bad name by those I call the positivity pushers.

You can absolutely set smart and valuable limits while still remaining positive about your business and the solopreneur lifestyle. And those limits will let loose the time and opportunity to expand your expertise and increase your reach amidst the types of clients and peers with whom you REALLY want to do business!

Solopreneur Smarts: Find Someone Who Will Dish It Out!

Solopreneur Smarts: Find Someone Who Will Dish It Out!

Anyone who has spent even minimal time on this blog knows that I believe in the balance of reality and positivity.

That’s not to say that I’m not a positive person. I betcha bunches of bucks that if you ask almost anyone I’ve ever worked with, you’ll be told that I’m actually quite nice, upbeat, perky and, GACK, positive!

I just prefer to pepper my positivity with a heaping tablespoon of reality.

The Solopreneur Gig? It Ain’t All That Glamorous!

Part of being real with myself, my clients and my peers means I’ve got to admit that there’s no easy button when it comes to branding, digital marketing or digital design.

Sure, there are tools and systems, templates and tutorials, available to make much of your day to day doings a little less fraught with frustration and freelancer foibles.

But that giant red easy button, unlike the R.O.U.S. in the fire swamp, just doesn’t exist.

And much like Westley needed to get the shit kicked out of him by that lumbering rodent, sometimes we, too, need more than a pat on the back and a gentle reminder to remain positive.

Sometimes You Need A Kick In The Ass …

Not A Consoling Pat On The Back!

The best coaches I’ve ever had were those who had no problem blowing the whistle on me if I was lazy, failed to use proper form, or simply didn’t have my head in the game.

We all need that same honesty and willingness to “tell it like it is” when it comes to our business mentors and accountability partners.

As busy solopreneurs we need more than sugar-coated, syrupy kudos and lackluster laments when things aren’t going so well.

[clickToTweet tweet=”#Solopreneurs often need a healthy dose of no-nonsense reality! #realyourealbiz” quote=”Sometimes what we need most is a healthy dose of reality, delivered in a no-nonsense fashion.”]

Sometimes we all need to be asked one, or more, of the following questions:

  • Who told you it would all be easy?
  • Is the hustle worth it?
  • Do you still love what you’re doing?
  • Have you thought about taking a break?
  • Where’s your plan?

Passion & Positivity Aren’t Enough

Here’s the savvy skinny. No matter how much you love your products or services, no matter how passionate you are about the hustle, you’re going to find some days more difficult than others. You can’t wing it with passion and a positive outlook.

The hard work and the hustle never go away. The early mornings and late nights don’t disappear either. Sure, you can plan a bit better and you can certainly learn to better manage your time. But when a big gig is on the calendar, and you’re going it solo, the work has to get done.

That means sometimes you have to skip a family dinner. Sometimes you have to get up before the crack of dawn on, GASP, a Sunday!

Sometimes The Solopreneur Gig Sucks!

And we really need to be reminded of that suckitude from time to time.

You’ll sometimes fight through lowest of lows on your journey to the highest of highs, including your first sale, your first speaking gig, your first rate increase, etc.

You want your clients and prospects to be open and honest about their needs, their expectations, right? Why wouldn’t you want the same from your peer group, your business partners, your mastermind group, your coach or mentor?

Sometimes you’ll have to take off the rose-colored glasses and view your solopreneur gig through the reality lens. It won’t be perfect. It won’t always be pink and pretty. But it will always be pretty ding-danged sweet when you remember you’re the boss!

You’re A Business Owner AND A Human Being …

You're A Business Owner AND A Human Being ...

The last time I checked, running a business didn’t come with a certain tool allowing us to switch off every bit of human feeling and emotion.

While, on occasion, that might be a nice thing, it would make us robots. We’re told pretty often, by experts in marketing and customer experience fields, that consumers don’t want to do business with robots.

So, suffice to say, I think we have to allow ourselves to be human, along with all of our human failings, when we’re building, managing and maintaining our business.

You’re Going To Feel The Real!

Guess what? Real people feel real emotions. We don’t live on fluffy pink positivity clouds that allow us to ignore the fact that bad shizz happens to good business owners.

Bad shizz is relative, depending on the day and the state of your business. The bad juju can come from things big or small. But it’s ridiculous to pretend that we can ignore the fact that there are times when doing business just ain’t fun.

I don’t know about you, but I find it hard to ride the solopreneur unicorn when I’m dealing with:

  • late payments
  • scope creep
  • disappearing clients
  • plagiarism
  • the continued attempts at “democratization” of my skill set and expertise

Guess what party peeps? We’re all going to face one of these battles at some point during our career.

Guess what else? That means it’s absolutely A-OK hunky dory to exhibit some real and human emotion from time to time, even when you’re doing business.

It’s Okay To Exhibit Underwhelm

You do not to have jet out of your chair and do a jig every time you client comes up with another “super” idea. Chances are the idea isn’t all that super, has been tried by others to little success, and just won’t be worth the time and effort you’d have to put into launching it.

[clickToTweet tweet=”You do yourself and your client a disservice if you sugarcoat bad ideas …” quote=”You do yourself and your client a disservice if you sugarcoat bad ideas with, ‘that’s a great idea, but …'” theme=”style4″]

Because it’s NOT a great idea. You’re giving them false hope that they can get around the “but” in order to implement the idea you acknowledged as great with a small glitch.

You don’t have to get excited and pass out pink positivity parfaits every time your client opens his/her mouth. While you shouldn’t dismiss or disdain their ideas, thus making your clients feel small or insignificant, it’s absolutely allowed to exhibit a little underwhelm. Especially if you explain the why of that lack of whelm.

[clickToTweet tweet=”Expertise doesn’t mean you’re always ecstatic about client’s big ideas …” quote=”You were hired for your expertise. Expertise doesn’t mean you’re always ecstatic about the ‘big idea’ you’re asked to implement.” theme=”style4″]

It’s Okay To Feel Sad

There will come a time, especially if you’re a creative entrepreneur, when your client takes all that’s lovely about your creation and somehow manages to turn it into an absolute mess.

You’ve designed a glorious website. It’s got form and function in perfect balance. It’s as easy to navigate as it’s easy on the eye. You know that there’s no such thing as a fully completed website, but you’ve come pretty ding-danged close. You’re proud to have this site link back to your own.

And then it happens. The client decides you’re too expensive to maintain the site, which is fairly common. They decide they’ll hire someone cheaper or maintain it themselves. And you notice that the glorious is now looking pretty god-awful.

It’s okay to feel a sad, even to despair a bit, over the destruction of your good work. When your carefully crafted copy is edited to the point that carefully crafted becomes craptastic. When your lovely social media image template is savaged with a terrible typeface change. When your website wonderful becomes website woe is me.

Feel sad, disappointed, even a little dejected. Then immediately remove any links to/from that now craptastic creation so that no one thinks it’s your work!

It’s Okay To Get Angry And Engage In Stern Discussion

The other day there was a discussion about copy theft in a Facebook group to which I belong. The gist of the article generating the discussion was this: don’t get upset when someone steals your content, as it will mess with your mojo going forward.

What a pile of crap!!!

I’ve had my content stolen, on more than one occasion. I’ve had my graphics lifted, altered and re-posted without a single nod of acknowledgement and absolutely no permission. I’ve had clients decide I was too expensive to maintain their site, so they turned it over to another “designer,” who then promptly added their company name and site link to the footer taking credit for the design.

Guess what happened in each instance. I got mad. Not pinkly, prettily peeved. Flat out pissed off. And while I certainly tempered my anger a bit, I didn’t take it easy on the thieves.

I didn’t tell the thieving asshats that I was disappointed by their actions in a bid to “guilt them” gently into doing what was right. I flat out told them they’d better make it right, RIGHT NOW!

Guess what? They all made it right, RIGHT then!

Be Human!

If you don’t stand up for yourself as you engage in the running of your business, you’re eventually going to get stepped on. Standing strong and holding tight to our convictions is part of who we are as human beings.

Part of doing business is knowing when to allow your emotions to express themselves. You’re not a robot. Logic and programming aren’t going to see you through times good or bad. Emotions are part of what makes your brand unique. So, while you sometimes need to suppress those emotions, or let them simmer down a bit before your strike back, there’s no need to void them in their entirety from your business persona.

Solopreneur Struggles: Sharing & Support Require Honesty

Solopreneur Struggles: Sharing & Support Require Honesty

I don’t care what the passion and positivity princesses are pandering! Running a business is hard. And it’s about time we admitted it openly and honestly.

When we sugarcoat and try to simplify the running of a business (how many marketing and entrepreneurial articles have you seen this week stating that something is easy, simple, quick, painless?) we do a disservice to those budding entrepreneurs and new business owners looking for real and valuable advice.

I applaud the savvy solopreneur who is willing to share the hardships that go with the hustle. Who isn’t looking through rose-colored entrepreneurial glasses. Who’s willing to admit some things are a struggle.

It’s not easy. It’s not simple. It’s certainly not always fun. And it’s time we admit that.

I’m Often Tired

I have never been a great sleeper. I am one of those people who honestly can’t nap. I feel physically ill unless I can sleep soundly for hours. And sleeping soundly for hours during the day would mean even less sleep at night.

Whether your struggling or succeeding as a solopreneur, sometimes we just can’t sleep. We could be working on a tight deadline, getting up earlier and staying up later in order to meet project and client needs.

When you’re juggling a lot of projects it’s hard to shut down at “end of day.” With smart phones permanently attached to our hands, it’s too easy to check Twitter mentions or email one last time. The very connectivity that can propel our business also ramps up our brains to the point that we can’t shut down. Even when we do power down our computers, tablets and phone, our minds keep whirring.

There are differing opinions on whether or not you can catch up on sleep. Whether you can catch up or not, is largely irrelevant in the now. I think we can all agree that when we’re feeling fatigued, we find it harder to do our best work. Especially, at least for me, when working in a creative field.

My Social Is Sapped By The End Of The Day

I spend all day creating, building, and maintaining relationships. With peers, influencers, prospects and clients.

When it comes time to step away from the work I’m decidedly disinclined to do anything social. I find myself wanting to curl up under a blanket on the couch watching mindless TV re-runs so that I don’t have to think about anything.

Needless to say, this can put a strain on your relationship with your spouse (or other type of significant other), friends, family and even you peers who are more inclined to shake off the day with a social activity.

Delegating Isn’t Always A Slam Dunk

We’re often told that we can make our solopreneur success a given by smartly delegating the tasks we don’t want to do or aren’t capable of doing. Sounds easy-peezy-lemon-squeezy, right?

It’s NOT!

First of all, you can’t just dump work on a new delegate. You’ve got to train him/her on the process, the procedure, the best practices. Depending on what you’re delegating this can be a pretty colossal undertaking. In fact, the early stages of delegating don’t save you time, instead it eats up time in huge gulps.

AND, if you’re delegating client work to a VA or intern, you’ve got to educate your client on the arrangement. You can’t just pass them off to a newbie with no notice. Not if you want to keep them!

The Free Fallacy

We’ve all fallen prey to the allure of the freebie that can do the job without impacting our bank account. We decide that our bottom line depends on never letting loose with a dollar. And that sets many of us up to fail.

It’s imperative to wisely invest in your business. Expenses matter. You’ve got to carefully control them in order to keep your business running in the black.

It’s important to remember though, the free solutions might save dollars, but they often cause solopreneurs to spend more time. For many of us, time is money. So, shelling out smart dough to save time often saves more money than the freebie.

Systems Don’t Set-Up Themselves

Smartly set-up systems, protocols and procedures can absolutely save you time and speed you toward success … in the long run. Notice that ellipse. I placed it there purposefully for the pause. Systems set-up helps you in the long-run, but the set-up takes time, tweaking and testing. Which adds to your already full plate.

Consider one relatively simple system, setting up your email to auto-sort and occasionally auto-respond. The key word her is set-up. You have to set up this seemingly simple system. And the system has to work for you.

Setting up folders for client emails only works if you actually notice that there’s a NEW message. If it’s not going to your inbox, you’ve got to set up a schedule and train yourself to check more than your inbox.

Don’t get me wrong. Systems can seriously save a solopreneur. But they don’t come out of a pretty package ready to go, customized for your clients and your projects. They require set-up. Then the set-up has to be tested. And often tweaked.

Solopreneurs Struggle

We all have talents upon which we are trying to capitalize. We’ve started our business in order to do something we love, something that adds value, something that sustains both us and our clients.

But the solopreneur gig just ain’t all that glamorous all the time! It’s often exhausting and stressful. It’s often a struggle. It brings with it the ups and downs, the joys and woes of any complicated endeavor.

I hope that in sharing our struggles we can bolster our solopreneur brethren, giving them the boost we’ve often needed when the day to day becomes daunting.

Please share some of your solopreneur struggles. Through honest sharing and support we can build a community of successful, well-sorted and seriously kick ass solo biz owners!

Your Boobs Have No Place In Your Brand Or Bio!

Your Boobs Have No Place In Your Brand Or Bio!

I’ve published articles touching on this topic before. More than once. Three times even! But, it appears it’s time for a fourth foray. Perhaps this will be the time I push it that one step too far. One can only hope!

So, here’s the deal. When I’m intent upon seeking out new connections there are many things I look for in a social media or website bio.

  • Valuable and consistent content publishing
  • Careful management and monitoring of mentions
  • Willingness to converse
  • Appreciation and attribution
  • Consistent and targeted brand and message
  • and much, much more …

Let me tell you what I’m not looking for. Copious cleavage.

I’m Not Tempted By Your Ta-Tas!

If you’re intent upon marketing to other female entrepreneurs, as is my main intent and purpose, I dare say that your mammaries aren’t adding to your marketing mojo.

Shockingly, your boobs don’t bolster you, your brand, or your digital marketing expertise, in any way that impresses me.

Skip the skimpy, strappy sundresses while you’re standing against a brick (or other urban building material) wall with your shoulders thrust back in what can only be described as porno posture.

Age Before Boobies!

I want to make something very clear. This is not a rant rearing its ugly head in the direction of younger, newer, more nubile marketers. Oh no. I’ve seen far too many well-established and well known marketers flashing a little too much titillating flesh in selfies posted to Instagram, Facebook and even Google+.

And, sadly, it’s not just selfies. Professional head shots snapped for “professional” use also fall prey to a little too much cleavage clearance. They’re called head shots for a reason, party peeps. They’re supposed to focus on your face and head, not the girls!

I don’t care if they’re pert and perky or stretched-out and saggy – I don’t want to see ’em.

Level The Playing Field With Your Smarts & Savvy

I don’t believe the esteemed ladies (girls, gals, whatever term you prefer) that launched the women’s movement would be impressed with the need to equate sexy with social media smarts, savvy or success.

Bras weren’t burned so that you could go without in order to wear a plunging neckline or barely there halter.

I’ve got a five-year-old niece, and I’m horrified by some of the costumes she’s made to wear in dance recitals, as well as some of the modern “dance moves” she’s expected pull off during a given number.

Must we be sexy in order to be seen as smart, successful, savvy? Does your brand depend on baring your boobs? I don’t think so! Do you?

Separate Sexy & Success!

There’s a time and a place for sexy, sultry and boob baring. That place is not on your professional bio. Boobs shouldn’t be part of your brand unless you’re a plastic or reconstructive surgeon, a lactation specialist, or you’re trying to wipe out breast cancer.

You CAN be attractive and look your best when you’re doing business. But your boobs aren’t a necessary part of that professional package.

Stop Worrying About Peers Who Appear To Be “Everywhere” Online!

Stop Worrying About Peers Who Appear To Be "Everywhere" Online!

 

The digital marketing industry is a fascinating place to work. It’s fast paced, teeming with ideas and new technologies and it opens so many doors for new collaborations and connections.

But it also breeds insecurity, one-upmanship and petty jealousies.

Many a digital marketer finds him or herself battling the peer pressure to be online ALL THE TIME. To build and maintain a strong presence on every new social platform under the sun. We must tweet, pin, share, like, comment, blab, live stream, etc.

Bullshit!

[clickToTweet tweet=”You can’t be online ALL THE TIME and actively and effectively manage client work.” quote=”You can’t be online ALL THE TIME and actively and effectively manage client work.” theme=”style4″]

Clients Are Kind Of Important!

Remember this when you’re freaking out about one of your peers and their “always on” 24-7-365 presence on each and every social platform …

They’re not serving clients!

If they can spend all day, EVERY day, crafting the coolest infographics, the most tempting tweets, the smartest social shares and live streaming walks with their dog, it means something. They’ve got no client work. No paying gig that takes precedence.

Now, now, now, before you start flipping out, YES, there are many marketers who manage to balance a productive and consistent online presence and a full client list. But, if you dig a little deeper, you’ll see that these marketers have carefully chosen their social networks and have crafted a plan that focuses on the few, not the many.

The savvy social marketer focuses on the platforms that make sense for his or her audience and business. Sure, they like to test and try new things, but they don’t feel the need to hop on every new “shiny object” and proclaim it the next greatest thing.

Successful marketers and designers aren’t on tweetchats all day, every day, because they’re doing the client work that pays the bills and keeps them in good standing with those clients. Completing client work in a timely fashion is a HUGE part of running a successful business.

You Are Running A Business, Aren’t You?

Running a business means you’ll spend plenty of time trying to cultivate and keep business. Because it’s those clients relying on your expertise that pay the bills.

Sure, you ABSOLUTELY can – and should – cultivate and keep business via strategic online channels.

But you’ve also got to make time for the actual work, be it web design, coaching, writing, consulting, what have you. You’ve got to deliver the promised goods or the paychecks won’t materialize.

And let’s not forget all of the behind the scenes fun that goes along with a business. Invoicing. Proposals. Lead generation and nurturing. Preparation for taxes. None of them all that glamorous, none of them helping you be popular online, but ALL of them vitally important to your business success!

The Business Of Building A Following?

But what if your end goal is to be an influencer, a big name in the social arena, a go-to guy or gal for all things always online? First of all, more power to you, as it’s not an easy task to become an online celebrity or thought leader (man, do I ever still hate that phrase).

If your goal is to be the keynote speaker at every big industry event going forward, then your time might be well spent trying to be seen everywhere. Again, though, I have to wonder how you’ll pay the bills before you’re hired by all and sundry to share the epic nature of your online presence.

And I gotta tell you, there are some big time public speakers, thought leaders and influencers in my peer group. And, guess what? They didn’t end up in their roles overnight. They put in the time online and off to learn their craft, gain the right following and honed their expertise by actually completing client projects in a timely and professional fashion.

Online, All The Time Is Bullshit!

If you’re planning to pay the bills rather than prizing the breadth of your online presence, you’re going to realize there’s no such thing as a strong online presence EVERYWHERE. You’ll pick your platforms, like you pick your prospects and you’ll put in the proper effort, time and invest the right amount of dollars to make it work best for you, your client base and your bottom line!

Better Branding: Play Yourself In The Lead Role!

Better Branding: Play Yourself In The Lead Role!

Sometimes I binge watch old TV favorites while I’m doing my nighttime busy work (scheduling posts, connection management, etc.). Recently I started re-watching Scrubs, as I kind of have a thing for Zach Braff’s boyish charm, but I digress. The show’s soundtrack is still awesome and still inspiring, and when Josh Joplin’s “Camera One” came on, I knew it needed to be shared in a marketing and music fashion.

What Role Are You Playing Online?

Many an online marketer, especially those just starting out, feel they must play a role in order to be taken seriously as a professional.

By playing a role, these marketers fail to appreciate the smarts of their audience. The social media follower can small insincerity and fake from miles away.

Authenticity is a term that’s been beaten, battered, used and abused in our industry, but it still plays an important role in the way you and your branding are perceived online.

There’s little value in playing a role you can’t uphold for the long haul. There’s no one correct way to act as a professional, just as there’s no single right way to interact with your client base. It all depends on who you are AND on your ideal client.

Real Me, Real Business

Although I’ve never really been one to suppress my own personality, I too have faced the fear of “feeling” professional. But it wasn’t until I allowed myself to fully embrace all that makes me, well, ME, that I really saw my target niche start to fine down to allow me to work with the very audience I wanted to reach.

I joke that my husband gave me permission to unleash more of the real Mallie, but the reality isn’t silly at all. When you accept yourself and work with what truly makes you, well, Y-O-U, you’re sharing without subterfuge. That earns you plenty of gold authenticity stars!

You’re Playing You Now!

The song says it all, really. I’m just adding my own .02 to the smarts and savvy.

Actors play roles and the accolades they receive for portraying those roles are part of their craft, their excellence, their skill set.

[clickToTweet tweet=”Your skill set, as a #marketer, involves playing only one role. YOURSELF. #brand” quote=”Your skill set, as a marketer or digital consultant, shouldn’t include playing any role except the role of yourself.” theme=”style4″]

Our goal is not to achieve accolades, it’s to help others solve problems and build better brands. However, when accolades are deserved, wouldn’t it be better if they came from branding ourselves in a fashion that showcases who we really are and what we really stand for.

When those accolades come, and they will if you embrace the idea of marketing the real you with the proper intent and purpose, then you’ll very much deserve to take that bow and mug for the cameras!

 

Family First, Followed By Clients, Then My Social Presence

Family First, Followed By Clients, Then My Social Presence

You may have noticed it was quite quiet across my social media accounts last week. And the week prior. While the week of August 10-16th was a vacation of sorts, I called it a staycation, and I worked only on my own business initiatives during those seven days, the past week was unplanned and quite difficult.

I spent Monday, August 17th playing catch-up. The usual bustle surrounding hustle as I caught up after a week “off.”

Tuesday, August 18th was busy, with appointments throughout the day, finishing off the hustle with a birthday party for my niece, turning five that day. The day started at 5 AM and by the time Derek and I got stuck in rainy weather traffic on the way to the restaurant I was fighting exhaustion and a headache. The traffic turned out the be the least of my worries.

When we arrived at the restaurant I noticed my sister’s smeared mascara and forced smile as she took me aside to let me know my dad had suffered an episode and was on his way to the hospital. The initial diagnosis was a mini-stroke. We did our best to keep things happy and festive as we waited for news.

My dad started undergoing tests Tuesday night as my sister and I waited for news so that we could sort out our schedules for the rest of the week.

On Wednesday, August 19th we were informed that it was not a mini-stroke, it was likely a seizure caused by a one inch brain tumor scans had found. Specialists were called to consult and my sister and I began the shuffle to clear all items off our calendars in order to spend time with our father.

And this is where the title and focus of this article come in. My dad, absolutely, came first, as well as my sister, my stepmother, my niece and nephew, and to a lesser extent my husband and brother-in-law, as well as all the friends chiming in with prayers and good thoughts.

But, I also have signed contracts with clients for social media management and monitoring. I didn’t leave them in the lurch. I contacted them all, shared a brief summary of what was going on and let them know I would be watching their accounts, but would be providing the minimal end of our contracted spectrum of services over the remainder of the week.

Not a single client raised an eyebrow or voiced a concern. Their accounts were populated with content and watched for mentions while my sister and I visited with my father and awaited more news. This ties in with working with only great clients.

What suffered while life was in limbo last week? My own digital presence. Tweets were few, updates far between. No new articles were published. Only the most pressing emails were answered. Inbox zero was not on my radar.

We got the best news possible, bearing in mind that it is a brain tumor, on Friday. The weekend was spent trying to get some rest, as sleep eluded me during the fraught week, and catching up on my volunteer duties as a committee member and attendee of a charity pro-am event this weekend.

Today I’m getting my clients back on track with more than their minimum contractual needs, and going a little beyond to show my appreciation for their understanding. I sent out a proposal to a prospect and I’ll be catching up on both client and prospect tasks, as well as my volunteer duties this week.

I’m publishing this article, but it might be another slow week for my own digital presence and publishing efforts. Because I have to set priorities and have to focus my time and energies the best way I can. Family first, clients and prospects second. My own tweeting, posting and publishing will have to remain on the back burner until I’m caught up and things normalize again.

And I won’t feel guilty about it.

Glamorous Entrepreneur Gig: Say What?!?!?!

Glamorous Entrepreneur Gig: Say What?!?!?!

I dare say I’m always pretty real with my readers. I’m not one to mince words when I feel something needs addressing and I’ll tackle the topics others in the digital marketing industry sometimes find too sensitive and possibly incendiary.

But today I’m taking the real to another level entirely. I’m going to bust the seams of the silliness that is the “glamorous” entrepreneurial lifestyle.

I love to quote The Princess Bride (amongst many other movies, TV shows and songs) and much like the R.O.U.S. (rodents of unusual size), I don’t think the coveted glamorous gig many a new marketer envisions is attainable.

The Days Often Start Early … And End Late

I took the dog for her morning walk and started the coffee pot at 4:12 AM today. I’m not usually up and at it quite that early, but I woke up around 3 AM and couldn’t shut off my brain. So, to keep from disturbing the deeply sleeping husband, I got up. I’m never up later than 6 AM on a week day. Most days I hit the streets with the puppy at 5 AM and I’m at the desk by 5:20.

Even with those early starts, there are days when I’m still at the computer at 9 PM. No, not always. But c’mon, there’s nothing glamorous about 12 hour days, let alone 16-17 hour days.

Fashion Or Feeds?

Red lipstick, killer heels, the cutest outfit? Not on this nimble entrepreneur’s radar. What am I wearing? Frayed flannel PJ pants, yoga pants, gym shorts, hoodies, baggy tees and exercise tanks. That’s the dress code at Go Creative Go. Sure, I slip on a circle skirt, tank and a cardigan when I have a face-to-face meeting. But comfort takes precedence over fashion.

And, since we’re being really REAL, many a day I roll out of bed and spend the day working in whatever I slept in the night before.

Feeds before fashion is definitely how the entrepreneur rolls!

Hygiene Or Grooming On Hiatus?

Remember, we’re being real!

One of my BBFFs, Brooke Ballard, an equally nimble entrepreneur, and I were recently talking about how it’s sometimes hard to get in a shower. I’m pretty sure she won’t mind me sharing that!

Stop! I know. Yes, I live and work in Atlanta. In the hot and humid southeast U.S. Where the A/C constantly runs or you sweat. So, stop it. Yes. I bathe regularly. Sometimes twice a day on tennis days.

But, I don’t necessarily always have perfectly smooth legs. And my hair, while always washed, is rarely styled or even combed with anything other than my fingers. And some days I choose another cup of coffee over immediate teeth brushing. Because coffee and minty fresh are not a match made in heaven!

As for lipstick, earrings, painted toenails and/or matching my shoes and handbag. Puh-leeze. My black flip-flops do usually match my yoga pants. So, I’ve got something going for me!

Passion, Smassion!

Yeah, yeah, yeah. One of the main reasons to embrace the entrepreneurial way of life is tied to doing something you love, rather than working for a paycheck. But let’s talk about another kind of check. The reality check!

[clickToTweet tweet=”SOME days you’re going to hate everything about your business. #realyourealbiz” quote=”Some days, not every day, but SOME days … you’re going to hate everything about your business.”]

Some days are just shitty. Some days you’ll leak angry tears and want to rip the heads off even your most accommodating clients, while you dream up ever more devious tortures for your not-so accommodating clients.

Don’t get me wrong. Some days the entrepreneur gig is gregarious and gorgeous and golden. And those are the days most often shared by those writing about it.

But it ain’t all sunshine, roses, rainbows and snickerdoodles. Some days hail a shit storm of hassles, helplessness and even some hollering at your computer screen or biz partner.

I actually get irritated when I see the plethora of “passion” posts strewn across my feeds. Sure, passion and love for your business can be really beneficial. But some days you get by on grit, sweat, tears, swear words and irascible imaginings. That needs to be shared, too!

Styled Space? Seriously?

Styled Workspace?There’s a growing trend, of late, to showcase the workspace with a “styled” photo. Most of these styled shots leave me shaking my head in amused befuddlement. Do remember, I recently revealed that I rarely comb my hair. So styling my workspace is not something on which I place a lot of value or emphasis.

When did an artfully arranged clump of herbs tied with a bow become a sign of professionalism and productivity? With my luck the cat or dog would eat it and then promptly throw it back up.

Glitter? An open lipstick? Flowers sans vase? Beautiful bowls of color coordinated binder clips and pushpins? They’d all end up all over the floor and I’d end up hopping on one foot, swearing while I pulled a pushpin out of the other foot!

Alysa Passage recently joked that we need a PSA to halt the hostile takeover of succulents and gold scissors. She went on to reveal this gem:

“Yes, the photos are polished but they’re not an AUTHENTIC brand identity.”

What’s an authentic desk space look like? I can’t speak for everyone, but my workspace is styled with coffee rings, paw prints and a squirt bottle to discipline the feline leaving the paw prints.

Yeah, I wipe the space down every night. But my work space is where I work. It’s not a styled and staged photo opp.

Work … It’s Part Of The Wonderful!

That’s the point I’ve been trying to drive home throughout this read. While I can say that the entrepreneur gig can be wonderful, that’s not always the case. Sometimes it makes you want to wail:

WAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAHHHHHHHHH!

There’s one constant I can count on when it comes to my own entrepreneur gig, the work! It’s too often left out of the glorious and gold-plated descriptions of the entrepreneur’s gig!

The work is always there. And it’s not all that glamorous. As much as I love working with mood boards, typefaces and color palettes, many an hour is full of unproductive calls with undecided prospects, chasing and collecting past due dollars from clients who sometimes forget how to pay, and dealing with the hesitancy and indecision that comes when you wear all the hats (or capes if you’re more into the superhero thing).

You’ve gotta embrace the good with the GACK and know that glamour isn’t going to be your go-to description. If you can do that, then you’ll be wowed by the wonderful more often than you’re overwhelmed by the “ CRAP, you’re kidding me” moments.

Your Turn!

Share some of the “glamour” that makes up your daily grind!

#SMMsmarts: You Don’t Have To Comment On Everything!

#SMMsmarts: You Don't Have To Comment On Everything!

Are you a comment crasher?

Do you feel the need to comment on nearly every post in your stream or feed, even if you have absolutely nothing to add to the conversation?

If you answered yes, you probably deserve the comment crasher label!

Sometimes silence is simply smarter!

I get it. Really, I do!

You’re trying to get ahead. Trying to make a name for yourself. Trying to showcase your smarts and savvy.

I’m guilty of the same (though, honestly, there’s no reason to feel guilty about aspiring to what I’ve listed above). But crashing a conversation without adding value isn’t the smart way to go about it!

Comment Crasher #411

There are many categories of comment crasher. I thought it might be helpful to share some of the most

The Commiserator:

Always sorry about whatever you’re going through. Always hopes it will get better. NEVER actually offers any actual tips or how-to options on how to solve the problem or issue. Ever empathetic, never effectual.

The “Everything” Expert:

This individual has never found a topic upon which he/she could add much needed expertise. From neuroscience to natural history, this guy or gal believes themselves to be the go-to resource, despite lack of experience and actual expertise. Hey, they read an article about it on Huffington Post, ding-dang it!

The Link Litterer:

It’s not enough to land a less than stellar comment on your feed. This comment crasher wants to generate traffic when they can’t generate much else. So they litter these discussions with links to their less-than-on-topic articles, hoping to generate traffic as they bolster their bid for influence and expertise.

The Takeover Tactician:

I see this most often in Twitter chats, but it can happen anywhere, sadly. This happens when you get a my way or the highway tool who tries to take over the discussion by repeatedly positing that their way is the only correct way. At the same time these twits alienate all participants and aren’t smart enough to figure out when it’s time to shut up.

The Hesitant & Helpful:

These comment crashers might seem innocent and relatively harmless, but I dare say they might be the most sinister. They prevaricate and pussyfoot around the sharing of their chosen advice, but that advice is shared all the same.

However, it’s hard to get behind their help when they can’t state, with any alacrity, that their course of action actually works. When you try to pin them down on their own successes, they continue to hem and haw, but still hold on to their “helpful” hint by the skin of their teeth.

If it ain’t helpful …

I don’t want to hear it. Simple enough, right?

How do you know if what you’re sharing is actually helpful? Did you actually try the course of actions you’re recommending? Did they, indeed, help you. If so, consider sharing.

But if you’re sharing random solicitous snippets gleaned from skimming the articles of the influencers with whom you are trying to connect, and you haven’t actively tested the tip? Sit on your hands! Walk away from the computer! Do whatever is necessary to STOP yourself from commenting without cause!

Instead Of Inane Comments …

If you’re not really sure about the topic, ask a simple question. Still unsure if you can provide anything of value to the discussion, you have two options:

1. Research the topic or issue. A lot. Not one quick read on an entertainment news site. I’m talking some deep searching on Google, seeking out articles, discussion forums, Q&A sessions, webinar recordings, podcasts and more.

But that’s a LOT of work. Requiring hours of time. By that time the thread might not be popular anymore, your peers having moved on to a new discussion.

Better hop in and say SOMETHING, right? WRONG!

2. Enjoy The Silence! Silence, in these instances is smarter and infinitely more social. Social isn’t always about being seen. It’s smarter social to stay silent when you have nothing to add to the conversation. Save your shares and your smarts for the topics and discussions where you can add real value.

What do you think?

Should social media marketers comment on any post that piques their interest? Are they adding value even when they’re not particularly familiar with the topic? I’d love to know what you think!

Are You Lovin’ This Blog?

Also, as part of my summer launch of a new visibility plan, I’m working to increase the visibility of the articles I publish. I’m testing several new techniques and setting up systems.

I’ve seen that a lot of branding and design blogs, and even some savvy social media marketers are adding their sites to Bloglovin. I thought I’d test it out and see if it’s a good fit. If you’re there, won’t you follow along and see if I’m on the right track?