Dream On

If you’re in my inner circle, you know, what’s been going down with my sailboat plans.

Which is this… I don’t know shit.

Really.

And I am in the dark, as much as you.

All you need to know (and that I keep reminding myself) is that I have a dream. And I happen to believe that if I can think it, the means to create & fulfill it are freely available to help the dream take shape and become a physical reality.

The Death of a Dreamer

Steve Jobs. Here’s what I think when I think about him.

To do things differently. To stand outside one of your normal tribes. Whatever tribe you belong to at the moment. Just pick one.

Believing before we know all the facts. Believing whatever we need to believe, moment-by-moment, and then simply taking the next step.

Instead of worrying about step number 325.

Where, in your life, do you let step 325 take over? Going on auto-pilot from living your dream because you can’t figure out what you’re not supposed to know yet?

Trusting. First something. Anything. The great mystery. Ultimately though, learning it all pivots on trusting yourself.

To stop kicking your own ass. To start loving the living day lights outta life beginning the moment you open your eyes in the morning.

To fuck it up. And be ok with that.

Or give yourself the time you need to find your way back, however that looks.

To have a plan. A hope. An ideal. A dream. And completely let go of it.

Trusting the process of transformation. That that is your essential nature.

To laugh again. Because you’re realizing one more time that it never turns out the way you thought it would. Or plan it. Never.

What happens is usually better.

I’m dreaming.

I am a dreamer. Born to dream. And make manifest.

Which is the part I think we’re missing. Kinda lost in our peripheral vision. Until we’re reminded (thank you Steve) we’re here to do more than dream it.

It’s the life you create. It only starts with the dream. And then moment-by-moment, with some focus, and tender loving time & attention, we choose.

The next step.

You do what’s easy. What feels natural. Reminding yourself to say thank you to each step. Thank you to everything.

To need only ever look back at the past to bless it and say thank you to it.

I came to live my dream. Not just dream it.

Living the dream is taking Today’s next step. Maybe a couple or even a few. But mostly, just what’s next.

Living the dream is trusting that I know enough for today’s steps and I’m content in any uncertainty that’s left.

Living the dream is the practice of remembering who am I.

A creator.

A thinker. A be-er. An enjoyer.

A knower… that it’s all for me. Trusting.

There is no sailboat yet. There are many sailboats all around me though. And very soon, it will be the next step.

For today, the next step is to downsize. To be ready to go. To act in faith.

It’s trusting my heart. Trusting intuitively how it feels when I dream the dream. Trusting myself to pivot out of each uncomfortable moment.

To be patient with myself. And kind. In the process.

In about a week, I’m letting go of my accumulated possessions that make up my 3-bedroom condo in Orange County, California; consolidating, minimizing into a bedroom & a bathroom.

Since the universe is conspiring to help me achieve this dream, it turns out that my first ex-husband sits in a large empty home after being wiped out by his second wife (yes, it’s one of those stories).

So now most my living room, my daughter’s bedroom, my dining room and most of the kitchen stuff has a custodian. This makes me very happy.

Or, how I looked at my 8 boxes of books, CDs and DVDs that I no longer wanted and wished that they go someplace useful and then learn about the breast cancer book drive donation box that arrived in the lobby of my girlfriend’s office building this week.

Or, while finishing up this post, hopping up in a mad dash hearing the street sweeper outside, remembering that my car (usually in the garage which is cleared out as a moving staging area) is parked on the street! Opening the garage door, I see the street sweeper is stopped behind my parked car, with street sweeper police truck directly behind him and I think “Crap! I’m too late!” The street sweeper driver looks at me, nods and points to my car. And I run across the street in my jammies & slippers, hop in and take the miata for a spin around the block, counting my blessings and screaming “Yes!!” at the top of my lungs, “I can see you conspiring with me Universe. I can see you!!!” And avoiding a ticket.

So much more. Around every corner it seems. Right down to learning last night of Steve’s passing. Thinking the thoughts I thought about that. Watching the impact on my world. Watching how the word dream and dreamer are being elevated in the conversation.

Joining in on that conversation, sharing my dream, with you here on my blog. And taking Today’s next steps to align with it.

Loosely paraphrasing something I heard from Steve… or somewhere in my conspiring Universe…

If you died tonight, would you be happy about the things you accomplished today? About the items that make up your to-do list and what you checked off?

Yeah, that’s what contentment feels like. And, living your dream.

3 Beginning Blogging Mistakes To Avoid

When you’re just starting out on the web, getting your blog or web presence thing happening, there are three really important pieces you’ll want to keep your eye peeled for.

Most people get frazzled just thinking about the technology part (the pieces that are actually getting easier and easier). We get so distracted thinking about all the parts we don’t yet know or think we need to know before we can get started, that we actually forget about the planning.

But one of the three keys to creating a great web presence is being able to answer the question of what you do and who you do it for.

Mistake #1: Not Planning

Planning your web presence is knowing who you are, what you offer (exactly), who your audience is and what problems or challenges you help them face.

Think of it like this, from now until infinity, you’ll be asked over and over again by everyone you speak to, to answer in 15 seconds or less, “What’s in it for me?” and why/how you are different from anybody else who does a similar thing as you (coach, artist, writer, teacher).

So knowing yourself and knowing your audience is vital. And the real growth edge for your web presence.

The one person I know who most fluently teaches this vital piece of the planning aspect is Mark Silver from Heart of Business. In fact, he has a free download called the Business Heart Toolkit that will help you answer these nichey questions. He calls it (your 15-second answer to the “What’s in it for me?” question) the ‘Who-Who-What’ statement. And his approach really works!

The thing to remember as you dive into something like Mark’s process for planning your web presence is this motto: Progress, not perfection.

I have found that everything is born in bits and pieces. So, you won’t hit it out of the park on your first try. Mistakes, experiments… that *is* creativity. It’s all fluid and constantly changing. Even what we understand, process and create today will seem different through the context of tomorrow.

So if you pick anything to begin doing for your web presence, like immediately… (because you want to get in on this blogging thing, or you already have a web presence for the cool thing you do ) it’s write!

Pick two hours a day and write your content. Do one blog post per week. The more you do the easier it gets. Keeping in mind that you are simply talking to people.

Mistake #2: Missing The Point Of What Your Content Is For

You don’t have to be a brilliant writer. You just have to be able to help people with the problems they have. You just need to be able to connect and talk to people. All content is “is something that’s going to help somebody else.”

And the key to writing powerful content is to write the same way you would talk to people.

To create and keep an amazing continuous fountain of blogging ideas flowing right to you is to look right into your life at the very conversations you are having on a daily basis.

Whether you are talking to peers, customers, or prospective clients… look at each conversation as a potential blog post topic.

I sometimes will use an entire conversation as the basis of a blog post. And I look right at what my clients are asking me about as potential post subjects.

Let the inspiration come from the market or your life experience. Look around and see what others need or ask yourself what you need and write about it.

Mistake #3: Not Getting Support

And finally, because we are entrepreneurs or being entrepreneurial-ish, we also think we need to do it alone. We have to be the designer gal. And the copywriter gal. And the code guy.

The most avoidable mistake and yet the one we make most often, is trying to be everything alone. But there are people out here that want to help, so you don’t need to try to do everything yourself.

If you’ve only got two hours a day, don’t spend it learning code. Write!

And do some networking. It’s so darn easy now with all the Social Media tools. If you are a kind person who really wants to help others, there are a lot of other people who are waiting to help you.

Hello? (waving enthusiastically)

Technology is the facilitator. It *is* becoming easier. It has too. It must keep moving in this direction or it will become extinct.

And with the help of others who want to help people like you, you won’t have to wear all those hats. Finding the right support is easier than you think.

Just like taking that next step… toward blogging and your web presence. You don’t have to be an expert writer. Just an expert at understanding your people, and what you help them face.

Does The Technical Stuff Really Help Me Grow My Biz?

It’s 2010. Another day in a new economy. The one we are in the midst of redefining and rebuilding as we go.

The Internet has become an everyday tool. It certainly doesn’t appear to be going anywhere (as in going away) and instead is opening up our views and perspectives, making things from across the planet appear instantly in a web browser.

When we need something (directions, find the new book we want to read, even to hire someone for something), we usually head straight away over to Google.

I tell my clients incessantly, “Google is your friend!” and I can generally find just about anything I need or want with Google’s powerful search engine.

It’s kinda like how the Dewey Decimal system impacted the local library, right? Except, now information is at the tip of your fingers, via Google.

Why Blogging Is A Smart Idea For Small Biz Owners

Today’s new economy. The one we are rebuilding together. Seriously leaning into the optimysm here.

Yet if anything is going to change, it’s starts with each of us on an individual level. I mean, isn’t that why you’re in business? To help others with what you’ve got? To contribute on that individual level?

And even if you’ve stayed the traditional methods of growing a business, you would be remiss if you’ve not looked at leveraging the Internet. Except, chances are you are overwhelmed with where to start and which path will promise an end-result for your business.

And even so, while we’re doing nothing web-wise, it does nothing to change the fact that more and more people are going to Google instead of digging around in the hall closet for their Yellow Pages.

Specific Advantages of Being Web Presenced

I love this idea of leverage. Leverage, to me, is so smart. Because it’s about doing more with less. And that’s a huge state of grace for me. Leverage is smarter, healthier, more sustainable in the long run for me.

Leverage works in a ton of ways online. But, for now, I want to talk about the leverage of good content.

The piece I love about being web-presenced is that every page of content I create is like a member of my virtual business staff. Hanging out. At the storefront. Waiting for the next passer-by.

So even if I am away, I don’t really have to be… which is the game-changer itself.

And then my challenge as a biz owner becomes more about connecting, revealing, and telling stories that resonate with those that only my voice speaks to. And once I get that piece; the more I put out, the more I get back.

Speaking of connecting… another advantage is with virtual relationships. It’s where it’s at, if you’re growing a business online. Whether I am connecting with clients or collaborators of any kind (coaches, biz partners, etc.), I’m doing it virtually. Twitter, Facebook, Blogging… connecting (networking) in the new economy!

The biggest advantage to having your small biz online: Leverage; in content, in relationships and much, much more.

Beginnings… And Not Knowing If You Need A Blog Or Web Site

Here you go, a bit of peace of mind… what if I said it’s not an either/or decision? Yes. You can have both or one or none (hopefully none is off the table at this point).

Your options:

  • a traditional website
  • a website with a newsletter or some other opt-in
  • a blog and a tribe (community of people)

Traditional website is fine and good. It works. But it just sits there. We are human beings. We like interactivity. We’re looking to connect in some way. Going (I think) is people hiding in corporate-y entities and biz structures. Coming is the new economy where I contribute by doing my own thang; leveraging new systems, tools, relationships.

Website with newsletter or other opt-in, well now we’re getting somewhere. You’re actually asking visitors to part with something they have and is actually very highly prized in the Information Age… their name & email address. But, if you have something cool they want (ebook, tips, help with their specific challenge, etc.), they’ll happily give it up!

Blog & Tribe, the big kahuna. 🙂 Tribe: A following of people who are somewhere between “I think you’re cool” to “I’m totally freakin’ nuts about you and will do anything you ask me to.”

Blogging is how you build the tribe. Telling your version of the truth. Helping other people. Everyday. One post at a time.

For more on Blog or Web Site, I have another post where I talk about it.

Using Blogging Tools For Your Business

Part of being a business owner is cutting costs, lowering expenses. Using blogging tools is the smartest, most efficient way to build any of the three web-presence-y options. Even if you are not going to be blogging, you can set it up to look like a traditional web site. True story.

Plus a blog is already built and set up in a way to leverage the Internet itself. All blog platforms will have a built-in RSS feed, which is just a fancy way to say that it’s ready to easily pass your content on (get viral). Plus the search engines treat blogs a little differently because they know content is written/updated almost daily… so it’s checks for those frequently. This is called indexing and it’s a really good thing.

Plus you don’t have to learn (much) HTML.  😉

You’ll get real-time feedback (comments) which help you begin building relationships immediately.  Relating to your visitors, helping them.

So, you see, it’s not just about the technical stuff… it’s about helping people. And getting the technical stuff to help you so you can help them.

How can I help you today?

Does More Traffic Mean More Clients?

On Sunday, I signed up for Michael Martine’s 5-day course on blog traffic-building. It was free. And he’s a big fish in the blogosphere. So I figure he knows what he’s talking about.

Today, I listened to module one – which is about blowing up the myths everyone who’s ever built a blog has. Like blog traffic is the cookie, only given to the special ones. The little fishes get no cookie. And I’ve been a little fish looking for a cookie for just about three years now.

This is one of the biggest challenges a lot of the people I work with have. After, of course, getting their tech savvy on and building their first blog (or website). Because after you’ve built it, you sit there and wonder (as I’ve said before in other posts) why the phone isn’t ringing off the hook or your email box isn’t exploding with requests for your services or e-junkie notifications that you’ve just sold another product.

Someday, I’ll have a waiting list long enough to increase my rates to $500 an hour. But not today. Today, I’m happy to work with one person, at a time, at $60-95 per hour. Seriously, deliriously happy. Just one-at-a-time.

And I’m still left with the conundrum of why aren’t they (my people) flocking to me?

When I first left corporate America and had a savings account to invest in my business, I fell prey to one of those services that promises to get your website ranking and get your phone to ring with qualified leads.

I spent about $300 per month for about three months.

I would google the keywords this company was helping me place for and sure enough, there I was. Sitting there. Waiting to be clicked on. This company even had tracking in place to measure when people were clicking on my link, and the number was pretty decent. However, their sales pitch about paying for the investment (if I landed one new client each month, I would be even) was not materializing. Not one new client from that investment.

And I did ask. I try to remember to always ask, “How did you find me?” And retrace steps they took, where they clicked and specifically what did they find on my website that caused them to pick up the phone call (besides my big bold “Free 30-Minute Session” disclaimer in 72 different places).

After three months, I pulled the plug because I had figured out what was going on. It wasn’t that the company I was paying to help me rank was underdelivering. They were placing me high in Google at keywords we had worked on together and chosen.

What I realized is that when people landed on my website, they weren’t connecting. It was all about what I was saying. And who I was speaking to. And I realized that everything has to do with that. The content. The writing. The what-I’m-saying part. And if it doesn’t resonate or connect with a reader, well you know the drill. You’ve been there. Everyday we go there. Open Google, search for something, visit a few links… all in about 2.5 seconds.

2.5 seconds. That all I have. So using my words to connect became an increasingly important objective for the success of my business.

And today, Michael Martine’s first module only underlined fiercely this exact learning. From three years ago. It’s all about being clear. Crystal-like.

Like knowing who, exactly, my people are. What keeps them up at night? What are they aching and hungering for? And really write about that in a way they feel heard and seen.

And that’s not all of it. The next piece was figuring out how to say to them that I have something to help them with that. That thing that keeps them up at night. Something different than what they’ve tried before.

It’s an art form. Writing. And a process. That unfolds itself in iterations. Everything I’ve done online has been an experiment in what works and what doesn’t and continues to be.

And not one iteration that has brought me to my today would exist if I didn’t begin with writing it down first. Finding a way to crack open the Word doc or get out that legal pad and answer the questions.

I just keep polishing and polishing the words. And they continue to become clearer and clearer.

And trusting that in the process of iterating it, what’s unique about me will show through. I’m less worried about competition than I am about getting those first questions answered clearly (mostly because I don’t believe in competition).

So if I could give you one small tip, if you’re just starting out. Don’t go spending a ton of money on getting your website ranked. Unless you’re ready. If you’re not ready, and you’re like me, working on this art form of writing so my perfect peeps feel heard and seen and understand exactly how I help them solves their problems… these are wiser places to invest in your business.

Mark Silver has a heart-centered approach to answering these questions. Michael Martine’s free 5-day blog traffic building course is another place. I’ve also worked with Isabel Parlett who helped me like 1000 iterations ago… to begin reaching for and finding the words to rock the world.

And I’m not even looking to rock the world. I just want to do what I love and help you do it too.

Best of ’09 – Workshop or Conference

Best of ’09 is a series of posts inspired by Gwen Bell’s The Best of 09 Blog Challenge. It’s a challenge designed to help me write more and rediscover more grateful moments in my 2009! Hopefully, 31 posts in 31 days 😉

Workshop or conference. Was there a conference or workshop you attended that was especially beneficial? Where was it? What did you learn?

Best Workshop

Best workshop was Mark Silver’s Business Momentum six-week teleclass. Mark believes in nurturing the heart to sustain and build a business. So much goodness came out of this course. Mark even turned it into a one-year course because the content is so meaty and totally worth the investment of my time, money and energy.

For me, my online business success hinges on whether or not people connect with me when they visit and read a blog post. Mark’s class helped me get clearer on who I serve and what I do for them and apply it to my web content and how I write in general.

His class was also unique because of the opportunity to meet and partner with others. By meeting together in pre-assigned partner sessions, we leveraged one another’s brilliance to grow, understand and stretch in new ways. Applying what we were learning in class with Mark and actually working on our personal and business messages.

Best Conference

Best conference was Esther Hicks in San Diego. And this will be short and sweet because I think if you are interested or curious enough in the Law of Attraction, you will find your own way (or your way finds you!)

I’ve talked about this throughout the year on my blog. About how I had a desire to make a commitment to myself to understand more about it this year. It’s definitely unique approach to life and overall I feel, helped me reframe most of the bumpiness of my 2009 year. And who didn’t have bumpiness!

I’ve talked about many big things I’ve learned this year while exploring Law of Attraction. One I already kinda knew but get at deeper levels now is My happiness is up to me. It’s a choice. And I’m practicing everyday at choosing it over and over and filling my nows to the brim with it!

Until tomorrow…

The Best of 2009 Blog Challenge

Ok, I admit it. It took me the better part of this whole day to decide if I was going to do this.

Had I just followed my first instinct after reading the tweet and then checking out Gwen Bell‘s The Best of 2009 Blog Challenge, I would have signed on to do it without much afterthought. Instead, I watched just about every person-who-I-follow-on-Twitter say yes over and over to this writing challenge for the duration of the day.

Now my TweetDeck has it’s own search column for a special hash tag (#best09) so that a bunch of us hanging out on Twitter, blogging our brains out (or at least trying to) can be connected, get to know each other better by reading one another’s posts (and I imagine commenting too) and build further community. Exactly what I love about social media.

So for the next 31 days or so, I’m going to be more fearless with my writing than ever before.

I’ve been inspired watching Tweeple using National Novel Writing Month to challenge themselves to write 50,000 words this month. And they are doing it (or did it). Supported by the challenge. Discovering freedom in the discipline of writing.

So, I’m going to give it whirl. And commit to this challenge to help me get writing and also celebrate all the best things about *my* 2009.

You’ll get to know more about me. And hopefully catch a wiff of some of the inspiration that’s circulating through the intertoobs.

Until tomorrow…

Content: The First Few Words

Tech Savvy 101 is a series of posts designed to help demystify some terminology so you can get your brain around what it really takes to start getting your tech savvy on.

Yesterday, I talked about the importance of defining core values early on in the web creation process because it provides an anchor, to help you remember, when things get freaky-deeky. Knowing your own values gives you a rope to hold onto to guide you back to a simpler time… when you were clear about what makes you blissfully happy and why the heck you are doing this in the first place.

This being creating that blog or web site for your business.

And even after you do begin to get into the content of you, by discovering your core values, and you’ve got this nifty anchoring device to help steer you through uncharted technology (and regular life) territories, there is still this issue of your first post (or page if you’re using WordPress)… actually lots of them. Staring back at you. And they’re blank. Stark raving mad white-ass blankety blank!

Or…

Maybe you already have some content. You’ve pulled your stuff together (you remember what that was like the first time?) In fact, you might have pages of good stuff, but you’d like to go a little further with it. Something (not quite sure what) is getting lost in translation somewhere. And the sneaky suspicion, at least one of them, is it might be your content. You ask yourself, “What exactly am I saying here? Who am I saying it for?”

Quick Detour

Search Engine Optimization, sometimes referred to by just its initials, SEO, is basically the steps a web owner gets to take to “prime” his/her web presence to appear in a search engine result. That is, your perfect person types in a search term to Google and YOUR website URL hits them smack in the face (although no one gets hurt).

Right after, and I mean, immediately after creating your first web page/post, you will be thinking about this very topic. It’s the next logical step. How do I get people to see my website or notice me? Right?

However, if you pay some moola to one of these specialized companies who help with SEO implementation and you haven’t gotten your content savvy up to speed, all the traffic you drive to your web presence may not necessarily result in buyers. Or anything really. Just a lot of cattle, moving through. Kickin’ up dust.

Your buyers are looking for your thang, in your voice. Except they don’t know what your thang looks like, exactly. This is why when we start with the writing part, we don’t even really get into the “This Is What I Do” part until after the prospect has some amount of confidence that you can help them with their “situation.”

Your buyers want to be seen and understood. And the only real way to do that (using a blog or website) is via content. Writing about it. Essentially, talking about the stuff that keeps them up at night.

Except as business owners, we’re all ready to tell them about the features and benefits of what we got. We are already in the solution. And our perfect peeps doesn’t even know whether or not what we have is perfect for them. We haven’t given them a chance to make that choice. We are all hot and bothered about how great our great stuff is. And it’s great! I know it is. I got great stuff. You got great stuff! It’s just that my perfect peeps are not showing up ready to buy anything. They want relief. They have a challenge or situation and they are frustrated. So I’ve learned I cannot shove my chicken soup down their throat. No matter how good it is!

But in the beginning, starting out by writing down the “This Is What I Do” stuff is easier. Because we love it and we’ve been eating, drinking, sleeping it; because it’s our business. And our web presence does need this information. It’s critical. But not as critical as going to where your perfect peeps are first… going with them into their challenge and meeting them there.

So don’t go paying for SEO unless you are certain you’re getting your content savvy ON. Otherwise, even if your perfect peeps come your way off a search referral, if you’re still talking about how great your stuff is and not what you can help them with (their problemo)… they’ll miss all your goodness.

Which would be really sad.

Resuming Post Topic

Back to the first few words on those blankety-blank pages & posts.

If you don’t have a clue about what those first few words should be, I can help you with that. If after you get those first few words down and even finish your first post and begin to wonder, what other pages or posts do I need to include? I can help you with that also.

If you have been thinking that you’d really like to get a web presence for that thing you do or book you’re writing, one that’s real and genuine, drawn out of your heart (disguised as values) and built by your own two hands, yes, I can help you do that too.

But only if… only if you decide to do something today. Pick a place and start. And I can help you.

The special gift you have to offer now is presented best by just taking things easily and simply, one step at a time. ~Osho

Otherwise, here’s something on giving yourself permission.