5 Questions to Ask Before Saying Yes to Anything

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Two weeks ago I published a blog post on why saying no is important and how to say no in practically any situation.

I even snuck in one of my favorite Gilmore Girls quotes. (If you can find it, you officially become one of my favorite people.)

In the comments section of that post, Katie from Art Spreads Joy asked if I could write a follow-up post on figuring out when to say no, especially when you come up with a bunch of amazing ideas but you don’t have time to do all of them.

I’ve got ya back, Katie!

And, I absolutely know the feeling when you want to do all the things, but you have to choose because you also have to feed your dog and sometimes eat and sleep.

My simple yet effective way of figuring out what to say no to is to answer the following five questions. If you answer ‘no’ to any of these, you should probably say no to the opportunity or creative idea, at least for now. You can always scribble it down in an ideas notebook to keep for later.

Question 1: Is it a pop the champagne, sprinkle the confetti kind of yes?

This is the simplest way to rule out anything, especially when you’re almost booked to capacity and can only take on one or two more things before going into complete panic mode.

Is this the kind of yes that makes you want to pop the champagne and sprinkle confetti? You know what I mean. The kind of yes that makes you squeal a little. The kind of yes that you can’t wait to tell your best biz friend about. The kind of yes that makes you want to dance around your living room while blasting ‘Bust a Move’ by Young MC.

If it’s not that kind of yes, it’s probably not worth your time. You became a girl boss for a reason, right? Top of that list is that you get to make all the decisions. (Okay, top of that list is wearing fuzzy slippers to work but making all the decisions is next.)

When I start thinking about saying yes to something because I’ve got that ‘well-I-could-maybe-fit-this-in’ guilt because I care about the person asking or I’ve got a little extra time, I remind myself that one of the best perks of running my own business is filling my time with stuff that makes me feel great.

Whether it’s a ‘meh’ business idea that you think will be really profitable or an interview request that just doesn’t feel quite right, it’s better to say no so that you have time for the good stuff.

Question 2: Have I already committed to similar projects/opportunities/ideas?

You have a brilliant idea (light bulb moment!) for a new checklist for your email opt-in that you know your ideal customer will love but you haven’t even finished the last checklist that you wanted to use as an email opt-in freebie. Write down the idea and leave it for later.

As creatives, this kind of situation happens a lot. Look a squirrel! And, you’re off working on something else, leaving the last thing half-finished.

If you want to run a successful business, you have to finish projects and ideas. Make a rule with yourself that goes something like this: I can’t start another ______________ until I finish this _______________. And, stick with it.

Same thing for business opportunities. How many guest posts can you write each month? How many interviews do you feel comfortable accepting? How many speaking engagements can you fit into each quarter?

Be honest with yourself. Then when someone asks to interview you and you’re already booked, you can just let them know that you don’t have any openings right now.

Question 3: Will this help me achieve my current business goals?

As a creative entrepreneur, you’re probably inundated with ideas. One really good way to decide which ones to act on is to give it the ‘current business goals’ test.

Will this idea help you reach your business goals?

I’m usually working towards two to three business goals. For example, my biz goals list might look like this: redesign new website, get new program ready for launch and promote CL courses.

If those three things were my current business goals and I came up with a really great idea to gain new Instagram followers, I wouldn’t act on it right now. I’d write it down and give it time in the future if I switch my business goals (and want to work on growing my Instagram following) or have more time (look Ma….a business miracle!)

This also applies to opportunities. If one of your goals is to grow your email list from 200 to 1,000 and you get an interview opportunity that will get you in front of hundreds of your ideal customers, take it, knowing that if they love your interview they’ll probably sign up to receive your emails.

Question 4: Will my future self want to rewind to this moment to give my present self a high-five for saying yes?

I try to think about how I’m going to feel in the future if I say yes to something.

Will I resent having another interview scheduled next week or will I be excited for it? Will I be inspired by another watercolor challenge or will I feel pressure to create when I don’t really feel like it? Will I be glad that I took the time to have lunch with that colleague or will I wish I had spent it with my husband?

We can’t predict the future but we can think about how we’ll feel when it comes time to actually do the thing that we’re saying yes to in this moment. And, that might give you a bit more clarity.

Question 5: Can I realistically take on another project/interview/speaking engagement/creative idea this month?

This is the bottom line. Do you have the time?

I want to be clear that time is all about prioritizing. You can make time for anything that’s important enough. (Just ask my college self who was working 40 hours a week, taking a full load of classes and student teaching but still made time to drive from Virginia to Alabama to visit my boyfriend—now husband—once or twice a month.)

But, only you really know whether adding another to-do to your task list will turn you into the Hulk.

Will you feel even more overwhelmed and stressed, wishing you had said no? Business should be fun—not filled with hair-pulling tantrums. Leave that to toddlers and Donald Trump.

I hope these five questions help you determine what you should say yes to and what you should pass on.

I know it’s hard to pass on creative ideas that you’re excited about, but passing for now doesn’t mean passing forever.

Comments { 14 }

3 Detailed Examples of Four-Week Marketing Plans for Creative Businesses

3 Detailed Examples of Four-Week Marketing Plans

Are you in that awkward place where you know what marketing techniques you should be doing (like blogging, social media and interviews) but you’re not quite sure how to put it all together?

You get the individual pieces, but you’re uncertain on what the day-to-day implementation looks like.

And, when you go to promote your business, you end up trying random things without much success. Or, you give up before you really get started because you’re overwhelmed by all the things you’re supposed to be doing.

That’s why I took three different types of creative businesses—a jewelry designer, an Illustrator expert/teacher, and a family photographer—and planned out their marketing for one month in detail.

Before you read through their marketing plans, there’s one very important point I want you to keep mind:

Before I picked the individual marketing strategies for these entrepreneurs, I got clear on their main marketing goals for the month. If you plot your marketing without precise goals in mind, you might as well skip it altogether. It’s kinda like eating melting ice-cream with a fork. You’ll just end up frustrated.

Alright…let’s jump in:

Four-Week Marketing Plan for a Jewelry Designer

This jewelry designer specializes in metalsmithing. She sells her jewelry on her own website and on Etsy. She also has four wholesale accounts established and has really enjoyed working on expanding that part of her business. She’s still living month to month without any substantial savings and would like to increase her consistent income.

Her top two marketing priorities for the month are to: 1) get her jewelry into at least two more boutiques to grow her wholesale business and 2) prepare for the launch of her new jewelry line next month which includes 15 new pieces.

Week One

Sunday:

  • Write draft of this week’s blog post: 10 Reasons to Buy Handmade Jewelry Over Mass Produced

Monday:

  • Edit draft of this week’s blog post: 10 Reasons to Buy Handmade Jewelry Over Mass Produced
  • Take a photo (or pick a photo from collection) for this week’s blog post
  • Pin 10 new things on Pinterest, including two of my own items

Tuesday:

  • Publish blog post: 10 Reasons to Buy Handmade Jewelry Over Mass Produced
  • Email blog post to newsletter list
  • Share blog post on Instagram, Twitter, Facebook, and Pinterest
  • Schedule additional tweets and Facebook posts to promote blog post throughout the next six months

Wednesday:

  • Finalize and send in pitch to Belle Armoire Jewelry Magazine
  • Brainstorm 10 new boutiques to reach out to for wholesale opportunities
  • 10-minute Periscope: Let’s Chat About Buying Handmade vs. Mass Produced

Thursday:

  • Pick 5 of the 10 boutiques from yesterday to reach out to regarding wholesale opportunities
  • Research to see if any of those boutiques have special requirements for pitches
  • Pin 10 new things on Pinterest, including two of my own items

Friday:

  • Tweet a reminder to read this week’s blog post: 10 Reasons to Buy Handmade Jewelry Over Mass Produced
  • Begin taking product photos for new jewelry line
  • Share sneak peek of upcoming new jewelry line on Instagram, Twitter and Facebook

Saturday:

  • Get wholesale pitches ready to send, finalize them and send them
  • Post a picture of my workspace on Instagram

Week Two

Sunday:

  • Write draft of this week’s blog post: Audrey Necklace Styled Five Ways: Casual, Dressy, Office-Appropriate, Date Night and Brunch
  • Pin 10 new things on Pinterest, including two of my own items

Monday:

  • Edit draft of this week’s blog post: Audrey Necklace Styled Five Ways: Casual, Dressy, Office-Appropriate, Date Night and Brunch
  • Take photos of each outfit for this week’s blog post
  • Finish taking product photos for new jewelry line

Tuesday:

  • Publish blog post: Audrey Necklace Styled Five Ways: Casual, Dressy, Office-Appropriate, Date Night and Brunch
  • Email blog post to newsletter list
  • Share blog post on Instagram, Twitter, Facebook, and Pinterest
  • Schedule additional tweets and Facebook posts to promote blog post throughout the next six months

Wednesday:

  • Write product descriptions for 5 of the new pieces of my upcoming jewelry line
  • Share sneak peek of upcoming jewelry line on Facebook

Thursday:

  • Write product descriptions for the last 5 new pieces of my upcoming jewelry line
  • Send out a free shipping coupon to email list that lasts for 48 hours
  • Pin 10 new things on Pinterest, including two of my own items

Friday:

  • Write product descriptions for 5 more of the new pieces of my upcoming jewelry line
  • Tweet a reminder to read this week’s blog post: Audrey Necklace Styled Five Ways: Casual, Dressy, Office-Appropriate, Date Night and Brunch

Saturday:

  • Edit product descriptions for new jewelry line
  • Post favorite outfit from the week (that includes at least one piece of my jewelry) on Instagram and Facebook

Week Three

Sunday:

  • Write draft of this week’s blog post: Sneak Peek of My Upcoming Spring Collection
  • Finish editing product descriptions for new jewelry line
  • Send product descriptions to copyeditor to look over and give feedback

Monday:

  • Edit draft of this week’s blog post: Sneak Peek of My Upcoming Spring Collection
  • Pick photos from this month’s photo shoot for this week’s blog post
  • Pin 10 new things on Pinterest, including two of my own items

Tuesday:

  • Publish blog post: Sneak Peek of My Upcoming Spring Collection
  • Email blog post to newsletter list
  • Share blog post on Instagram, Twitter, Facebook, and Pinterest
  • Schedule additional tweets and Facebook posts to promote blog post throughout the next six months

Wednesday:

  • Post sketches that were the inspiration behind my upcoming launch on Instagram, Twitter and Facebook
  • 15-minute Periscope: Some Funny Stories from My Upcoming Spring Collection

Thursday:

  • Follow-up with the 5 new boutiques regarding wholesale from week one (sending in anything else they’ve asked for)
  • Share sneak peek of upcoming jewelry line on Instagram and Twitter

Friday:

  • Tweet a reminder to read this week’s blog post: Sneak Peek of My Upcoming Spring Collection
  • Post favorite outfit from the week (that includes at least one piece of my jewelry) on Instagram and Facebook

Saturday:

  • Post more sketches that were the inspiration behind my upcoming launch on Instagram, Twitter and Facebook
  • Pin 10 new things on Pinterest, including two of my own items

Week Four

Sunday:

  • Write draft of this week’s blog post: 10 Thoughtful Mother’s Day Gifts

Monday:

  • Edit draft of this week’s blog post: 10 Thoughtful Mother’s Day Gifts
  • Take a photo (or pick a photo from collection) for this week’s blog post

Tuesday:

  • Publish blog post: 10 Thoughtful Mother’s Day Gifts
  • Email blog post to newsletter list
  • Share blog post on Instagram, Twitter, Facebook, and Pinterest
  • Schedule additional tweets and Facebook posts to promote blog post throughout the next six months

Wednesday:

  • Make changes to product descriptions based on copyeditor’s notes
  • Pin 10 new things on Pinterest, including two of my own items

Thursday:

  • Finalize product descriptions

Friday:

  • Tweet a reminder to read this week’s blog post: 10 Thoughtful Mother’s Day Gifts
  • Pin 10 new things on Pinterest, including two of my own items

Saturday:

  • 10-minute Periscope: Let’s Talk Mother’s Day Gifts
  • Post favorite outfit from the week (that includes at least one piece of my jewelry) on Instagram and Facebook

Four-Week Marketing Plan for an Illustrator Expert and Teacher

This illustrator expert makes most of her income from teaching Illustrator workshops and classes. She has a course on Skillshare and two courses on her own website. She’d like to partner with companies like CreativeLive and Atly to offer more courses on different platforms. She used to create a lot of custom illustrations but she now likes to fill about 25% of her time with creating custom illustrations for brands and 75% of her time teaching Illustrator.

Her top two marketing priorities for the month are to: 1) grow her email list by 500 new subscribers 2) get in front of other bloggers’ audiences through guest posts.

Week One

Sunday:

  • Pick three bloggers to pitch guest posts to and look up any pitch requirements they have on their websites
  • Post reminder about tomorrow’s webinar (that requires email opt-in to access) on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram
  • Boost the Facebook post

Monday:

  • Write draft of this week’s blog post: Why I Use Illustrator over Photoshop When Creating Blog Graphics
  • Email reminder for today’s webinar to the list of people who have signed up to attend
  • Host webinar (that viewers have to opt-in to get access to) on how to create seamless repeat patterns in Illustrator

Tuesday:

  • First round of edits for this week’s blog post: Why I Use Illustrator over Photoshop When Creating Blog Graphics
  • Write guest post pitches, finalize and send
  • Post a quick Illustrator tip on Facebook for Quick Tip Tuesdays
  • Send email following up from yesterday’s webinar to all who attended, reminding them that they can sign up for my Surface Pattern Design Course at 30% off for 24 more hours

Wednesday:

  • Second round of edits for this week’s blog post: Why I Use Illustrator over Photoshop When Creating Blog Graphics
  • Create visual for this week’s blog post
  • 15-minute Periscope: Illustrator versus Photoshop
  • Tweet about email list, giving reasons why followers should join it

Thursday:

  • Finalize and publish this week’s blog post: Why I Use Illustrator over Photoshop When Creating Blog Graphics
  • Email blog post to newsletter list
  • Share blog post on Instagram, Twitter, Facebook and Pinterest
  • Add tweets for this week’s blog post to my Edgar library

Friday:

  • Tweet reminder to check out this week’s blog post: Why I Use Illustrator over Photoshop When Creating Blog Graphics

Saturday:

  • Day off

Week Two

Sunday:

  • Create downloadable PDF of favorite Illustrator Shortcuts
  • Post latest pattern created in Illustrator on Instagram and Facebook

Monday:

  • Write draft of this week’s blog post: My Favorite Illustrator Shortcuts + A FREE Downloadable PDF

Tuesday:

  • First round of edits for this week’s blog post: My Favorite Illustrator Shortcuts + A FREE Downloadable PDF
  • Check in with bloggers who I pitched guests posts to if they haven’t responded
  • Post a quick Illustrator tip on Facebook for Quick Tip Tuesdays

Wednesday:

  • Second round of edits for this week’s blog post: My Favorite Illustrator Shortcuts + A FREE Downloadable PDF
  • Create visual for this week’s blog post
  • Write draft of upcoming guest post on XYZ blog: How to Create Professional Blog Graphics in Illustrator

Thursday:

  • Finalize and publish this week’s blog post that includes an opt-in to receive the free downloadable PDF: My Favorite Illustrator Shortcuts + A FREE Downloadable PDF
  • Email blog post to newsletter list
  • Share blog post on Instagram, Twitter, Facebook and Pinterest
  • Boost Facebook post
  • Add tweets for this week’s blog post to my Edgar library

Friday:

  • First round of edits for guest post: How to Create Professional Blog Graphics in Illustrator
  • Create landing page (featuring an opt-in for email list) to welcome new readers from XYZ blog when guest post is published
  • 10-minute Periscope: A Free Downloadable PDF for Illustrator Shortcuts (chat about the free PDF and where they can opt-in to get it)
  • Add a pop-up opt-in to home page for the shortcuts PDF

Saturday:

  • Second round of edits for guest post: How to Create Professional Blog Graphics in Illustrator
  • Edit landing page (featuring an opt-in for email list) to welcome new readers from XYZ blog when guest post is published

Week Three

Sunday:

  • Finalize and send in guest post: How to Create Professional Blog Graphics in Illustrator
  • Finalize and publish landing page (featuring opt-in for email list) to welcome new readers from XYZ blog when guest post is published

Monday:

  • Film video for this week’s blog post: An Intro to the Pen Tool in Illustrator
  • Tweet about email list, giving reasons why followers should join it

Tuesday:

  • Edit video for this week’s blog post: An Intro to the Pen Tool in Illustrator
  • Post an illustration from my collection on Instagram and Facebook
  • 15-minute Periscope: 5 Custom Illustrations I’ve Created for Well-Known Brands
  • Post a quick Illustrator tip on Facebook for Quick Tip Tuesdays

Wednesday:

  • Write intro and any other copy for this week’s blog post: An Intro to the Pen Tool in Illustrator
  • Create visual for this week’s blog post

Thursday:

  • Finalize and publish this week’s blog post: An Intro to the Pen Tool in Illustrator
  • Email blog post to newsletter list
  • Share blog post on Instagram, Twitter, Facebook and Pinterest
  • Add tweets for this week’s blog post to my Edgar library

Friday:

  • Post latest pattern made in Illustrator on Instagram and Facebook

Saturday:

  • Feature a student from my Illustrator for Bloggers Course on Facebook showing examples of how she’s used the course to improve her blog graphics

Week Four

Sunday:

  • Brainstorm at least 5 more blogs that accept guest posts

Monday:

  • Write draft of this week’s blog post: 10 Techniques You’ll Learn in My Illustrator for Bloggers Course

Tuesday:

  • First round of edits for this week’s blog post: 10 Techniques You’ll Learn in My Illustrator for Bloggers Course
  • Post a quick Illustrator tip on Facebook for Quick Tip Tuesdays

Wednesday:

  • Second round of edits for this week’s blog post: 10 Techniques You’ll Learn in My Illustrator for Bloggers Course
  • Create visual for this week’s blog post
  • Post latest custom illustration on Instagram and Facebook

Thursday:

  • Finalize and publish this week’s blog post: 10 Techniques You’ll Learn in My Illustrator for Bloggers Course
  • Email blog post to newsletter list
  • Share blog post on Instagram, Twitter, Facebook and Pinterest
  • Add tweets for this week’s blog post to my Edgar library
  • 10-minute Periscope: Who’s Right for My Illustrator for Bloggers Course on Skillshare

Friday:

  • Email my newsletter list intro to guest post on XYZ blog and link to where they can read it
  • Share guest post on Instagram, Twitter, Facebook and Pinterest
  • Schedule tweets and Facebook posts to promote guest post over the next six months
  • Email blogger from XYZ to thank her for having me as a guest poster on her blog, letting her know that I’d be up for other guest posting opportunities in the future

Saturday:

  • 10-minute Periscope: My Guest Post on XYZ Blog
  • Share a personal photo from the week on Instagram and Facebook

Four-Week Marketing Plan for a Family Photographer

This photographer specializes in working with families with young children. Because she has three kids under the age of five, she’s great at knowing exactly how to engage kiddos during a shoot. She works in the Richmond, VA area but will travel up to two hours if the price is right. She moved to Virginia from North Carolina about one year ago so she’s still establishing her client base in the Richmond area.

Her top two marketing priorities for the month are to: 1) book three new families for family shoots 2) grow her Facebook following by 100 because she gets almost 40% of her clients from Facebook.

Week One

Sunday:

  • Post favorite photo from latest session on Instagram and Facebook
  • Boost Facebook post, targeting moms in the Richmond, VA area

Monday:

  • Publish a testimonial on Facebook along with the best shot from that family’s shoot
  • Boost the Facebook post, targeting families/moms in the Richmond, VA area
  • Write rough draft of this week’s blog post: Top 5 Free Places in Richmond Virginia to Take Your Kids on the Weekend

Tuesday:

  • First round of edits on this week’s blog post: Top 5 Free Places in Richmond Virginia to Take Your Kids on the Weekend
  • Host a caption contest on Instagram

Wednesday:

  • Second round of edits on this week’s blog post: Top 5 Free Places in Richmond Virginia to Take Your Kids on the Weekend

Thursday:

  • Finalize and publish this week’s blog post: Top 5 Free Places in Richmond Virginia to Take Your Kids on the Weekend
  • Email intro to blog post to email newsletter list
  • Share blog post on Instagram and Facebook
  • Boost post on Facebook, targeting families/moms in Richmond, VA
  • Schedule two more Facebook posts to go out over the next six months to promote this week’s blog post

Friday:

  • Have lunch with a respected newborn photographer in the area for networking purposes
  • Post favorite personal photo from the week on Instagram and Facebook with a short story explaining the photo

Saturday:

  • 5-minute Facebook Live video: Behind-the-Scenes of the Smith’s Family Session
  • Send hand-written thank you notes to all families who I had photoshoots with in the last 30 days

Week Two

Sunday:

  • Post photo from collection on Instagram

Monday:

  • Write rough draft of this week’s blog post: What NOT to Wear for a Family Photo Shoot
  • 5-minute Facebook Live video: At the Children’s Museum with My Kids in Richmond, VA
  • Post how many sessions I have available for the next six months on Facebook along with a link to book a session

Tuesday:

  • Publish a testimonial on Instagram along with the best shot from that family’s shoo, making the testimonial the caption
  • First round of edits for this week’s blog post: What NOT to Wear for a Family Photo Shoot

Wednesday:

  • Second round of edits for this week’s blog post: What NOT to Wear for a Family Photo Shoot
  • 20-minute phone interview for local magazine feature

Thursday:

  • Finalize and publish this week’s blog post: What NOT to Wear for a Family Photo Shoot
  • Email intro to blog post to email newsletter list
  • Share blog post on Instagram and Facebook
  • Boost Facebook post
  • Schedule two more Facebook posts to go out over the next six months to promote this week’s blog post

Friday:

  • Post favorite personal photo from the week on Instagram and Facebook with a short story explaining the photo
  • 10-minute Live Facebook: Let’s Chat About What NOT to Wear for a Family Photo Shoot

Saturday:

  • Day off

Week Three

Sunday:

  • Post favorite photo from latest session on Instagram and Facebook
  • Boost Facebook post, targeting moms in the Richmond, VA area

Monday:

  • Write rough draft of this week’s blog post: Why You Shouldn’t Skip Yearly Family Photo Sessions
  • Email last five families to encourage them to pass on my information to other moms who might be interested in family shoots—drop off additional business cards if needed

Tuesday:

  • First round of edits on this week’s blog post: Why You Shouldn’t Skip Yearly Family Photo Sessions
  • Publish a testimonial on Facebook along with the best shot from the shoot
  • Boost the Facebook post, targeting families/moms in the Richmond, VA area

Wednesday:

  • Second round of edits on this week’s blog post: Why You Shouldn’t Skip Yearly Family Photo Sessions

Thursday:

  • Finalize and publish this week’s blog post: Why You Shouldn’t Skip Yearly Family Photo Sessions
  • Email intro to blog post to email newsletter list
  • Share blog post on Instagram and Facebook
  • Schedule two more Facebook posts to go out over the next six months to promote this week’s blog post

Friday:

  • Email Smith’s family for quick follow-up survey and testimonial
  • Post favorite personal photo from the week on Instagram and Facebook with a short story explaining the photo

Saturday:

  • 10-minute Live Facebook video: Why You Shouldn’t Skip Yearly Family Photo Sessions

Week Four

Sunday:

  • Post photo from collection on Instagram

Monday:

  • Write rough draft of this week’s blog post: My Top Three Favorite Spots for Family Photo Shoots in Richmond, VA

Tuesday:

  • First round of edits on this week’s blog post: My Top Three Favorite Spots for Family Photo Shoots in Richmond, VA

Wednesday:

  • Second round of edits on this week’s blog post: My Top Three Favorite Spots for Family Photo Shoots in Richmond, VA

Thursday:

  • Publish a testimonial on Instagram along with the best shot from that family’s shoot, making the testimonial the caption
  • Finalize and publish this week’s blog post: My Top Three Favorite Spots for Family Family Photo Shoots in Richmond, VA
  • Email intro to blog post to email newsletter list
  • Share blog post on Instagram and Facebook
  • Schedule two more Facebook posts to go out over the next six months to promote this week’s blog post

Friday:

  • Post favorite personal photo from the week on Instagram and Facebook with a short story explaining the photo

Saturday:

  • 5-minute Facebook Live video: Behind-the-Scenes of the Robertson’s Family Session
  • Post how many sessions I have available for the next six months on Facebook along with a link to book a session

There you have it!

I hope that this gives you some insight into what your marketing plan might look like.

I showed you three different marketing plans with different goals, because I don’t want you to get stuck on the ‘what.’ Instead when you’re planning how you’re going to promote your business, start with what you want to achieve and then work backwards.

It’s much easier to figure out what you should do once you’re clear on what you want to accomplish.

If you’re still feeling overwhelmed after reading this blog post and want more help with compiling your custom marketing plan, you should check out my CreativeLive course, Double Your Followers with Creative Marketing.

In that course I cover everything from getting clear on your target market to taking beautiful product photos to writing copy that sells to email marketing and sales funnels. It’s the most comprehensive marketing course for creative entrepreneurs out there.

Review of Double Your Followers with Creative Marketing:

“I’ve taken quite a few online marketing courses for my blog and have read countless “how-to’s” as well. So I wouldn’t say I’m a beginner when it comes to knowing what to do. I almost didn’t watch this one but since I love April and her advice I figured “why not”. Well, I’m so glad I did! This is probably the most comprehensive how-to market your blog course I’ve seen. Better than and with tons more content than some of the $2000 ones I’ve taken from well-known marketing experts. I really like how she takes an idea and really expands upon it – example upon example, especially using audience members to show unique situations. Instead of just theory it shows how to put everything into practice. I highly highly recommend!” –DM Evans

Comments { 12 }

28 ‘Done-For-You’ Scripts to Say No In Any Situation

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In my first year of business, I said yes to every business opportunity that came my way.

If someone asked to interview me, I’d move my entire calendar around to make it work.

If someone asked me to guest post on her blog, I’d stay up until midnight writing and editing to get it done.

If a blogger asked me to provide a quote for an upcoming blog post, I’d drop everything and email her back my opinion on the topic.

If someone asked me to speak at a conference, I said yes despite the nausea rolling around in my stomach because I didn’t know if I was ready.

I didn’t care how big the person’s audience was, how long they’d been in business or whether I was the right fit. If I could make the time (even if that meant waking up at 4:30am), I said yes.

Because I dove in headfirst, I grew my own audience pretty quickly, and doing all of those things helped me sell out my first group coaching program six months into launching my business.

I’m grateful for each of those opportunities, but it wasn’t sustainable.

I didn’t take a single day off (including holidays) in the first six months of business and I was newly married. I remember the day my husband came to me and said, “I want to support you and your business. I’m so proud of you, but I miss my wife.”

And, I could feel the exhaustion in my bones.

When you start your business, you need to say yes to figure out what works best for your personality and brand, to grow your audience, and to connect with others in and out of your niche.

But, after a year of jumping at every opportunity, you quickly realize that strategy isn’t going to work long-term.

Not only that, but it becomes clear that every time you say yes to one thing, you’re saying no lots of other possibilities.

When you agree to write a monthly column for another blogger, you’re taking away time you could be writing a post for your own blog.

That time that you spend prepping for a speaking engagement, traveling and speaking could be spent creating and launching an ecourse.

The hour you spent answering questions for an interview could’ve been spent at a yoga class or having lunch with a friend.

This doesn’t mean that you shouldn’t participate in blog tours or accept interview or guest posting opportunities. Making time for networking and marketing is important, but once you get past the very beginning, it’s essential that you say yes to the right things.

At this point in my business, I say no 90% of the time.

When someone asks me to advertise on my blog, it’s an automatic no (and I still get these requests pretty much daily).

When a blogger asks to interview me, I spend a few minutes checking out her website and past interviews to see if I feel like it’d be a good fit.

When someone contacts me to speak at a conference, I consider what other speaking engagements I’ve already agreed to, how much time I’d be spending on the prep and travel, and whether or not the audience is the perfect fit. Even though I love speaking and teaching, I know what works best for me and because I don’t have the travel bug (can I get a ‘what what’ from my fellow homebodies), I only accept one to three speaking opportunities each year.

As an entrepreneur, my most valuable resource is time. It took me a few years to really appreciate that.

Now that I decline most offers that pop up in my inbox, I’ve gotten comfortable with saying no.

At first, I struggled every single time.

I worried that I’d hurt the other person’s feelings or offend them. I also had that nagging feeling that maybe I’d regret saying no. What if that opportunity made a huge difference to my business?

I get it. It’s easier to say yes in the moment, but when you continue to say yes to the wrong things, you start to resent them and wish you had time to write your next ebook or walk your dogs or take that Instagram course.

That’s why I’m writing this post. Use the scripts below to say no—whether it’s to something ridiculous (like writing a sponsored post for a local mechanic when your wedding planning blog has nothing to do with cars) or something you might be up for in the future or something personal. I tried to cover it all!

You can copy and paste these scripts or you can use the basic idea and make it your own.

Saying no to people who want free stuff

1. I really appreciate your email and I know it’s not easy to reach out to someone you don’t know to ask for help. Unfortunately, I have to decline because I run a small business and every second counts. Working for free just isn’t an option. I have a package if you want to work together and you can find the details and pricing right here (insert link to sales page). If you’re not in a position to hire me, I’ve got a bunch of free resources on my blog. You can find multiple posts that’ll help you on my Start Here page (link to that page).

2. Thanks for contacting me! I’m so glad that you’re interested in _____________ (chatting with me on Skype, my website designs, etc.). I actually have a package for this. You can find it and my prices right here (add sales page link). I hope you have a great day!

3. I’m honored that you want to give away one of my custom necklaces (or whatever you sell) on your blog. Because of the time and materials, I can’t provide one for free, but if you decide to purchase one to give away, I’ll giftwrap and ship it for no extra cost.

Saying no to someone asking for trade secrets (like a list of supplies)

4. I could tell you but then I’d have to banish you to Azkaban. Just teasing…but I don’t share that information, because it’s one of my trade secrets.

5. It took me years to ______________ (find the best supplies, learn my craft, connect with the bloggers I guest post for, etc.), so I don’t share that information with anyone. I hope you can understand.

Saying no to interviews and guest posts

6. Thank you for the invite! Unfortunately, my calendar is booked for the next few months. If you’d like to contact me again in _______________ (month you might be available), we might be able to set something up. Thanks again for thinking of me.

7. I appreciate the invitation, but I’m overbooked with my _____________ (upcoming launch, book edits, prep for a speaking engagement, upcoming line of jewelry, etc.) and I promised my hubby that any spare time will go towards a date night. Thanks for thinking of me!

8. Thank you so much for thinking of me, but I’m not sure that I’m the right fit for __________________ (your podcast, this guest post topic, etc.). I wish you all the best!

Saying no to speaking engagements

9. Your event looks like a blast, but I only accept three speaking engagements per year and I’m currently booked for this year. If you want to check back with me when you’re planning for next year, I’ll lookout for your email.

10. Thank you so much for the invitation to speak at _______________ (name of conference), but I’m currently booked. I hope your event is a complete success!

Saying no to advertising or sponsored posts

11. I don’t advertise on ____________ (name of your website). I hope you have a great day!

12. My audience isn’t the right fit for ____________________ (whatever they want you to advertise). I hope you have a great day!

13. Since my blog is all about ______________ (whatever you blog about), I don’t think advertising ______________ (recliner chairs or whatever product they want you to advertise) makes any sense. (I realize this one is harsh…but come on people! Do a little research before emailing.)

Saying no to affiliate offers

14. Your _____________ (ecourse, launch, video series, etc) looks amazing. Congrats! I appreciate the invitation to be one of your affiliates, but I don’t join any affiliate programs. If you’d like to send me some tweets that I can copy and paste, I’d be happy to spread the word on social media—no incentives necessary!

15. Thanks for the invite, but this isn’t the right fit for my audience. I wish you all the best with your launch.

16. Affiliate programs aren’t really my jam but thanks for thinking of me. Congrats on your launch!

17. I appreciate the offer, but I’m completely booked with all of the affiliate programs I feel comfortable joining at the moment. If something changes, I’ll email you.

Saying no to someone wanting you to share her stuff (like blog posts or infographics)

18. This isn’t the right fit for my audience, but I wish you all the best.

19. Thanks for reaching out to me. While your infographic looks really cool, I don’t include other people’s infographics on my blog or in my emails. My visuals are a part of my brand so I only use my own. But, I couldn’t help but pin it and tweet about it. Thanks for sharing it with me.

20. I only share people’s content when I find it myself and know that my audience will love it. I’m sure your ______________ (blog post, infographic, etc.) is great and I’ll add it to my list of things to check out when I have a chance. If it’s the right fit, I’ll share it on social media. I hope you have a lovely day!

Saying no to a good friend who also runs a business

21. You know I adore you, right? And, I’m super flattered that you want me to design your website for you (or whatever she wants you to do). When we pair up, we do have a lot of fun and I’m so happy we can share business-y stories. I’m going to have to say no to this, because I feel like your style would be a better match with another designer (be honest but kind). I can recommend a handful of designers that I think you’d love (give a suggestion that works for the situation). We need to catch up soon. Skype date?

Saying no to friends and family

22. I can’t _______________ (go grocery shopping, talk on the phone, go get a manicure) during the workday. Even though I work from home, I keep strict hours. If you’d like to ______________ (go grocery shopping, talk on the phone, go get a manicure) after 6 or this weekend, I’m in.

23. I wish I would’ve known about ______________ (your bridal shower, your open house, etc.) sooner. I’ve already got something scheduled. Maybe we could grab a drink next month—just the two of us—and celebrate?!

24. Girl, please. Ain’t nobody got time for book club (or insert activity that applies).

25. I know I haven’t been able to spend a lot of time with you lately. This ____________ (launch, book, new line of knitting of patterns, etc.) is gobbling up all of my time. I seriously appreciate your support and patience and as soon as I’m done, we can spend an entire day doing anything you want.

26. Potluck dinners (or whatever activity you aren’t into) aren’t really my thing, but I’d love to grab brunch with you next week. I miss you and seriously need to know who you’re rooting for on Dancing with the Stars.

27. Mom, no. I love you.

Saying no to that rude family member that makes you want to poke out your own eyeballs when you have to spend more than 15 minutes with her/him

28. Sorry. *White Noise* You’re cutting out. *White Noise* The house is going through a tunnel. *Hang up* (If you know where this is from, you get eighty-seven million bonus points.)

When you say no to someone, no matter the situation, it’s best to: express gratitude, keep it short while telling them why you’re declining, and offer alternatives if that’s an option.

If you want to run a successful business, you’ve got to get comfortable saying no.

It’s integral to preserve your energy and focus your time on your priorities (like making money honey!).

What’s the hardest thing you’ve had to say no to this year? Did it end up being the right decision? Share in the comments below.

Comments { 42 }

Marketing from A to Z: 101 FREE Resources for Promoting Your Creative Business

101 Free Resources to Market Your Creative Business

If you’ve been stumbling around the internet trying to compile resources for learning how to market your creative business, I’ve got you covered. I’ve compiled 101 FREE blog posts, videos and downloads that’ll make promoting your business a lot easier.

Basics

1. Do You Really Need to Spend Time on Marketing?: If you’re wondering whether or not you really need to invest big chunks of time on marketing, read this post.

2. Why You Need a Marketing Plan + Basic Steps to Put One Together: If you know that you need help with marketing but you don’t know where to start, this post will help.

3. Find Your Great Big Why: If you don’t know why you do what you do, every part of the marketing process is going to feel like a struggle. Kris helps you figure it all out in this post.

Target Market and Ideal Customer

4. How to REALLY Find Your Target Market: Have you heard the term ‘target market’ but still don’t know how to figure out who your target market is? This post is for you.

5. How to Easily Get to Know Your Ideal Customer: Still trying to figure out how to connect with your ideal customer? This post includes a valuable shortcut.

6. 7 Tactics to Help You Get to Know Your Ideal Customer: More strategies to get to know your ideal customer.

7. How to Define Your Target Audience and Why You Need To: This post walks you through the step by step process of defining your target market.

8. Are You Selling to the Wrong People?: If you’re struggling to sell your products, it might be that you haven’t gotten them in front of the right people.

9. How to Position Your Product to Sell: If you have a great product but it’s not selling, you need to watch this video.

10. How to Create a Deep Connection with Your Prospects and Customers: If you feel like a lack of connection is your problem, read this post.

11. What if My Customers Aren’t All the Same? How Do I Appeal to Multiple Targets?: If you’re asking these questions, you need to read this today.

12. The Psychology of Your Customers: Learn about the different types of customers visiting your website.

Website Design and Branding

13. The Ultimate Guide to Planning Your Website: This is the BEST website planning resource I’ve ever found. It’s by the lovely Amanda Creek.

14. No You Can’t Just Use Your Favorite Colors On Your Website!: If you’re in the process of choosing your brand colors, you need to read this post.

15. How To Plan Your Website Using Wireframes: Another information-packed post by Amanda Creek that will make designing your website much easier.

16. Moving from WordPress.com to WordPress.org: It’s important to own your website. If you’re thinking about moving from the free WordPress platform to owning your site, this post will help.

17. 6 Key Elements of a Perfect Logo: If you’re currently designing (or redesigning) your logo, you should check this out.

18. 5 Types of Logos to Incorporate in Your Brand: Another helpful post on logos.

19. How to Utilize an Inspiration Board to Design a Consistent Brand: This is a super fun part of the branding and designing process.

20. How to Choose a Color Scheme When You’re Not a Designer: Feeling overwhelmed with all the color options? Read this post to help you make the best decision for your brand.

21. Five Tips for Improving the User Experience on Your Website: Your website is your online home and you want it to be as user-friendly as possible.

22. What You’re Paying for When You Hire a Designer: Thinking about hiring a website designer? Read this.

23. 10 Things About Your Site That Will Make Me Cringe: If you have a high bounce rate, you might be making one of these mistakes.

24. 10 Commandments of Business Card Design: Read this post before designing your business cards.

Blogging

25. 52 Blog Post Topics for Creative Entrepreneurs: Fill up your content calendar with these ideas.

26. Quick and Powerful Ways to Improve Your Blog: Four creative entrepreneurs share tips on improving your blog.

27. A Complete Beginner’s Guide to Starting a Blog: If you want to start a blog but you have absolutely no idea where to begin, check this out.

28. 50 More No-Fluff, Content-Rich Blog Post Ideas: Even more ideas to help you fill up your content calendar.

29. 30 Ways to Look Like a Blogging Pro (And, Not a Newbie): Afraid that you’re giving off that newbie vibe? Read this post to learn how to become a blogging pro.

30. How to Develop Your Blogging Voice: If your blog posts lack that oomph of personality, check out this post for tips.

31. 10 Most Frequently Asked Blogging Questions Answered: Have a question about blogging? You’ll probably find your answer in this post.

32. Is Blogging Dying?: Mayi Carles answers the question that lots of entrepreneurs are currently asking.

33. You’re Not too Busy to Blog: Why you should stop making excuses and get to work.

34. What to Do When Blogging Feels Like Pulling Teeth: Have you skipped your last couple of blog posts because it’s no longer fun? Read this.

35. 8 Questions You Need to Ask Yourself for Blogging Success: You need a solid blogging foundation to succeed.

Email Marketing

36. Your Step-by-Step Email Marketing Strategy Guide: It includes a free checklist!

37. The Email that Always Generates Sales: Use this email marketing idea to make money today.

38. How and Why to Create a Free Resource Library as Your Opt-In Freebie: If you’re a service-based entrepreneur trying to figure out your email opt-in freebie, check this post out.

39. 10 Clever Ways to Use Social Media to Grow Your Email List: Wondering how to use social media to get more email subscribers? Look no further.

40. 10 Ways to Get Better at Email Marketing: This is great for newbies and beyond.

41. How I Grew My Email List To 5,000 Subscribers In 6 Months: Such an inspiring example of how you can grow your email list faster than you think.

42. Are You Overthinking Your Email Campaigns?: Email marketing isn’t rocket science.

43. 6 Strategic Ways to Actually Make Money with Your Email List: Wondering how to convert your email subscribers into customers? Read this post.

Copywriting

44. Your Writing Process Matters. Stop the Cage Match: If you try to do every writing step (outlining, writing the rough draft, editing, revising, publishing) at once, you need to read this.

45. The Ultimate Copy Checklist: 51 Questions to Optimize Every Element of Your Online Copy: Such a great resource for copywriting.

46. Five Well-Written Copywriting Examples: If you feel like you need some real life examples of well-written copy, you’ll find them here.

47. Make This One Change to Inject Sizzle Into Your Writing: Instead of trying to change everything about your writing, make this one change and see immediate results.

48. What It Means To Find Your Voice: You’ve probably heard the writing advice that you need to ‘find your voice.’ What does that really mean? Found out here.

49. The Shocking Truth About Writer’s Block: You might not want to hear this but you need to hear this.

50. How to Stop Writing With a Stick Up Your Ass: I mean…this title pretty much says it all.

51. Better to Be a Mouse With a Backbone, Than a Lion With No Spine: On Writing Voice: One of my favorite bloggers of all time.

52. How to Immediately Become a More Productive (and Better) Writer: This will help in all areas of your business.

53. How to Use the ‘Rule of Three’ to Create Engaging Content: It’s all about quality over quantity.

54. Help! My Elevator Pitch is Falling (Seriously) Flat Chested: Ashley does it again with this witty (and super helpful) post.

Video

55. 10 Tips to Improve Your Videos When You’re First Starting Out: If you’re new to video, this post will help you improve immediately.

56. Why You Should Use Video to Promote Your Business: If you’ve been thinking about adding video to your marketing to-do list, this will help push you over the edge.

Social Media

57. 10 Tips to Double Your Instagram Followers in 30 Days: Grow your following on Instagram with these tips.

58. How to Make the 2016 Instagram Algorithm Changes Work for Your Biz: Worried that changes to Instagram will derail your marketing goals? Check out this post to make sure that doesn’t happen.

59. 5 Mistakes You’re Making on Instagram and How to Fix Them: Read this post to avoid Instagram blunders.

60. 100 Creatives to Follow on Instagram: Artists, Writers, Photographers, Crafters, Designers: Looking for other creatives to follow on Instagram? Look no further.

61. 6 Hashtags for Sharing Creative Work on Instagram: Wondering what hashtags you should be using? Danielle provides some great ideas.

62. 5 Steps to Getting Started on Periscope: Periscope is a great platform to connect with your audience in a raw and authentic way. Get started today.

63. How to Use Facebook to Market Your Creative Business: Why you should NOT delete your Facebook page and how to use it to promote your business.

64. How to Make Your Etsy Shop More Pin Friendly: If you sell on Etsy, you should make sure that browsers can easily pin your items.

65. The 7 Essential Elements of Effective Social Media Marketing: A must-read on social media.

66. 10 Social Media Don’ts: You don’t want to be making these mistakes on social media.

Photography

67. Product Photography for Beginners: Feel like the main reason you’re not selling much is because your product photos need work? Check out this helpful video on Etsy.

68. What Kind of Photographer Are You?: Figuring out what kind of photographer you are will help you become a better photographer. (And, quizzes are so much fun!)

69. 21-Day Photography Challenge: Improve your product photos with this 21-day challenge.

70. 20 Must Have Photos For Your Creative Business: Pick a day to batch these must-have photos and then you’ll have lots to choose from for your blog and social media platforms.

71. Four Ways to Organize Your Blog Images Fast: Do you have to wade through hundreds of pictures to find the right ones for your blog and social media? Get organized with this post.

72. DIY Photo Light Box: If you don’t have great sources of natural light or need to take your product photos in the evening, you might want to make a light box.

73. My Favorite Photo Props and Top 10 Places to Buy Them: If you’re looking to build a ‘prop library’ for your product and social media photos, you’ll get lots of ideas in this post.

74. Ten Holiday Photos To Take For Your Business: If you’re a product-based business, the holidays are probably one of your busiest seasons. Prepare early by taking these must-have holiday photos.

75. Death to the Stock Photo: A great place to get FREE stock photography if you’re in a pinch.

Creative Marketing Ideas

76. 21 Creative Marketing Ideas to Promote Your Business: If you’re in a marketing rut, check out this post for creative ways to promote your creative business.

77. How to Self-Promote Without Feeling Pucky or Being Annoying (20 Ideas Up For Grabs): Mayi Carles shares 20 marketing ideas that actually feel good!

78. 5 Tips for Landing Your First Speaking Engagement: Speaking is a great way to get your name in front of large groups of people. This post will help you land your first gig.

79. 12 Tips to Bring The House Down at Your Next Speaking Engagement: Once you land your first (or next) speaking engagement, you want to make the most of that opportunity.

80. How to Achieve Expert Status by Getting Published on a Major Website: If you’ve been wondering how you can get BIG websites to feature or publish your work, read this post.

81. How to Use Bonuses to Turn More People Into Customers: I’m a huge fan of bonuses. This post will show you how to use them to make more money.

82. Why Before and After Pictures Convert So Well: Have a business that before and after pictures can work for? This is why you should be using them.

83. How to Increase Sales by 300% with a Persuasive Guarantee: Along with 39 scripts that you can copy today.

Customer Service

84. How to Turn Down a Customer or Client Politely: Worried that if you say no to a customer that she’ll be gone forever or talk bad about you? Read this post to make sure that doesn’t happen.

85. 5 Tips for Improving Client Communication: The better your customer service, the more likely you’ll get referrals.

86. What You Can Learn From My Poor Customer Service Experiences: You don’t want to repeat these customer service mistakes.

87. Why You Should Go the Extra Mile For Your Clients: You want to make your clients feel like VIPs.

SEO

88. 7 Steps to Optimize Images on Your Website: If you’re not considering your images apart of your SEO plan, you need to start now.

89. What Is a Meta-Description and How to Write One: This post goes through some SEO basics that everyone should know.

90. What Is a Title Tag and How to Write One: Another must-read on SEO.

91. How to Use and Research Keywords: Keywords are the basis of SEO.

92. Basic Etsy SEO: Danielle from The Merriweather Council knows her stuff when it comes to Etsy. Want to get found selling on Etsy? Read this.

93. 3 Etsy SEO Myths: If you’re selling on Etsy, you need to check this out.

94. Why I Don’t Care About SEO: Should you really put time and effort into SEO? Find out here.

Pricing

95. How Your Prices Affect Your Business More Than You Think: You may not realize it, but pricing is a HUGE part of marketing. Make sure you’re doing it right.

96. Why You Can’t Charge What Your Products Are Worth: If you know that your products are worth much more than you’re currently charging but you feel like you can’t raise your prices, you need to read this today.

97. Your Guide to Pricing Information Products with Moxie and Confidence: Information products are one of the hardest types of products to price because you don’t have a base cost (of time and materials), but this video will make it easier.

98. Do Lower Prices Lead to More Sales?: If you’re thinking about lowering your prices to increase your sales, read this first.

Marketing Mistakes

99. 10 Reasons Your Marketing Efforts Aren’t Working: If you want to drown in a gallon of mint chocolate chip because your marketing efforts aren’t paying off, this post if for you.

100. The 10 Marketing Mistakes You Need to Stop Making Immediately: Learn how to stop doing the things that are turning off your target market.

101. Stop Wasting Your Marketing Budget on This: If you’re spending most of your marketing budget on this, you’re making a big mistake.

Have a resource to add to the list? Link to it in the comments below!

Comments { 29 }

Running a Business with Chronic Illness

Running a Business with Chronic Illness

If you’ve been following me for a while, you probably know that I suffer from chronic illness.

I’ve seen specialists at UVA, Johns Hopkins and Wake Forest and we’re still trying to figure out exactly what’s going on.

What we currently know is that my immune system suuuuuucks. If I get anywhere close to anyone who’s sick, I’ll get whatever they have times ten. A cold turns into pneumonia. The flu turns into a hospital visit. Biopsies of my throat literally turns into the inability to swallow due to my esophagus having spasms and closing every time I try to sip water.

I recently got a pneumonia vaccine to see how my body would respond. That was a big mistake. My arm swelled up, looking like a clone of my husband’s arm (he’s a foot taller and a hundred pounds bigger than me) with this huge red spot with red spider leg-like lines sprouting in every direction. It hurt so bad I couldn’t lift my arm past shoulder level for days. One doctor said it was a severe allergic reaction. Another said it was an infection. Antibiotics plus Benadryl plus cold compresses finally did the trick.

Most mornings when I wake up, I feel like I’ve got the flu. Some days that includes severe sore throats, others it entails constant nausea and others I’ll have fevers and chills on and off all day.

(The good news is that I finally have a treatment plan—as of March 15th of this year! YAY! If it works, I should be feeling a lot better by the end of the year.)

I’m not looking for sympathy. This post isn’t about my illness.

This is a post for those of you who are like me, suffering from chronic illness and running a business. I know there are lots of you out there, because I’ve gotten at least twenty requests asking if I’d write a blog post about how I manage being an entrepreneur while dealing with chronic illness.

First, I want to be clear: it’s not easy.

There are days when aching pain radiating through my joints and muscles reduces me to tears and the last thing I want to do is respond to emails or write a blog post or update my Facebook page.

There are times when a three-minute shower exhausts me, causing me to have to lay in bed for hours just to recover a bit of energy.

But, the best thing about running a business with a chronic illness is that I’m in charge.

I can work from home in yoga pants. I don’t answer to a boss who’s frustrated that I’m taking another sick day. And, I can take breaks every 30 minutes to recharge with some herbal tea (Tea Pigs sweet treat tea…yum!) and a book.

Because I’m going on year six of chronic illness, I’ve learned a few things that makes it easier to run a business while dealing with health issues, and I want to share them with you in case it helps you make managing your chronic illness and business easier.

I’ve had those days when it feels like everything in the world is working against you and you don’t know how you’re going to make it. I’m hoping this post will help you take a bit of that load off your shoulders.

Let’s dig in, shall we?

1. Take advantage of your good days.

Chronic illness comes with good and bad days. Some days the most you can do is roll over in bed and sip water (I suggest Gilmore Girls and Friends on Netflix for those days). But, some days you have a boost of energy and feel halfway normal.

When I’m having a really good day, I often want to do the stuff I enjoy most: watercolor, hang out with friends, have a date with my husband, walk my dogs. But, I always prioritize my work on good days.

That means I sometimes write my next blog post instead of going to game night (why can’t I ever win Scattergories?!?). Or, I work on my marketing campaign instead of spending a couple hours lost with my watercolors.

I don’t always work when I’m having a good day, but I try to get in at least a few hours on those days, because I don’t know when my next sick streak is going to hit. The next day I could wake up feeling like death and struggle to work for the next five days and then I’d regret not working when I could.

If it’s a good day and I get a lot of work done, I try to clear the evening for something like veggie sushi with friends or a date with my husband. It’s a balance.

2. Rest when you need it to get more done eventually.

In the first couple of years of dealing with my health issues, I used to push myself when I should’ve rested. And, that always resulted in me having to take more time off.

If I had given myself permission to take a nap that afternoon or take that day off to rest, I’d probably feel good enough to work the next day. But, if I pushed myself, it might end up with me having to spend the next three days in bed.

It always backfired. Thankfully, I had a husband to point this out to me and encourage me to rest when needed. He still has to step in every once in a while and tell me to slow down. (Love you hubby!)

We have to listen to our bodies and pay attention when they’re telling us to get back in bed.

3. Build up your support system.

I don’t just mean friends and family. When you suffer from chronic illness, you have less time to work on your business. That means you should probably hire out tasks that you don’t enjoy doing or aren’t that great at so that you can focus on the stuff in your realm of genius when you’re working.

If you spend the next week in a battle with WordPress because you’re struggling to build your website, that means that you didn’t spend that time on anything else (like taking new product photos or designing a new jewelry line).

I know it’s scary to hire out work, but it’s necessary when you’re limited by the amount of good hours you have in the day or week.

You know how they say it takes a village to raise a baby? I feel the same way about building a business, especially if you have serious health issues.

Start making a list today of the tasks you’d like to stop doing. Can you get one or two off of your list and onto someone else’s? Small shifts will make a big difference in how you spend your ‘business’ time.

4. Reduce your stress whenever possible.

Hiring out that web design mentioned above is not only a good idea for time management but it’ll also reduce your stress.

If you’re one of the unlucky who suffers from chronic illness, you’ve probably already figured out that stress usually makes your symptoms substantially worse. It takes your headache to migraine level or turns your minor cold into a two-month cough.

That’s why I hire out accounting, web design and tasks to my virtual assistant.

I know I’m not going to get rid of it all, but the less business-related stress, the better for my health.

5. Find workarounds.

One of the best things I’ve done for myself is to figure out what I can handle when I’m not feeling well and what I can’t and how to work around it.

For instance, if I’m having a semi-bad day, I can probably get an hour or two of blogging done if I’m snuggled in my pajamas with a cup of throat coat tea. But, I don’t have it in me to do my hair and makeup and chat on Periscope for 30 minutes (even though it’s one of my favorite things to do).

Or, I can brainstorm ideas in bed for my next online course, outlining it and jotting down notes on marketing concepts. But, I’m not going to push myself to start filming it or writing copy for it.

I know that I can’t book too many ‘time-sensitive’ things in one month. I sold out all of my individual consulting spots in less than three hours and I got requests from multiple people asking me to open up one more spot for them. I couldn’t do it. I know my limits and I need to be completely focused for the women who already registered to work with me. It wouldn’t be fair to them or good for me to add more clients.

You have to figure out what you can still work on when you’re not feeling as great and what should wait for a good day.

6. Remain positive.

This might sound silly but when I know I have something important to do but I’m not feeling very good, I can sometimes “trick” myself by remaining positive. I’ll tell myself, “You’re having a good day” or “Today’s going to be a good day” or “You can do this.”

Just keeping my mind from going to the dark places can give me the boost I need to accomplish that one thing that I really need to get done that day.

For instance, I got really sick the first time I taught at CreativeLive, but I woke up those days and told myself that I was going to have a great day. It didn’t make my symptoms go away, but it helped me to work through it.

7. Don’t rely solely on doctors.

Over the past few years, I’ve become a master at knowing what my body needs. I’ve also decided that I can’t just rely on my doctors to come up with answers.

I know I have less nausea when I take a daily probiotic. I know that I suffer from less fevers when I drink at least 32 ounces of water in a day. I know that an extra hour of sleep will allow me to do a few extra hours of work. I know that getting ready for the day, spending a bit of time on hair and makeup gives me a boost of energy. I know that pushing myself to do five or ten minutes of yoga results in more energy and happiness.

One of the best pieces of advice I could give to anyone who’s struggling with chronic illness is to take ownership of your health. Pay attention to what makes you feel better and what makes you feel worse. Learn how to give yourself more good days.

No matter what you take away from this blog post, I want you to know that if you’re running a business while managing an illness, YOU ARE AWESOME! It’s not easy but it’s worthwhile.

I hope this helps those of you who have to deal with chronic illness. If you have other tips or advice, please leave them in the comments below. We should all try to help each other!

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10 Reasons Your Marketing Efforts Aren’t Working

10 Reasons Your Marketing Efforts Aren't Working

Have you given up creating, brunching with your friends and date night with your man to spend all your time on marketing only to still have less than eight people subscribed to your email list (and two of those people are your mom and a friend who feels sorry for you)?

Maybe you want to smash your keyboard into itty-bitty pieces after spending two weeks learning how to market your business on Pinterest and testing what you learned to only get seven new followers and no sales?

Maybe you spent more than 10 hours writing your latest blog post and no one commented or shared it?

We’ve all had moments where we want to drown in a tub of mint chocolate chip because the hours we put in didn’t pay off.

If you’re having a lot of these moments, it might not be the actual marketing tactics that aren’t working. Marketing strategies don’t work when the basics aren’t there.

Here are 10 reasons your marketing efforts might not be working:

1. Your website is a mess.

Often when you spend time on marketing, you’re trying to get more people to your website, right? You want them to browse your online shop or sign up for your email list or read your latest blog post about your new product line.

You’ve got seconds to make a good first impression. If someone clicks a link from Facebook and they land on your website which looks like it was designed back in the 90’s, they’re going to skedaddle. It doesn’t matter how great your blog post is, because they won’t even begin reading it.

And, let’s say that by some miracle you get people to stick around and check out your products. They’re not going to trust your cluttered website enough to actually buy something. That would mean giving you their credit card information. Ain’t nobody got time to get scammed.

If your website needs an overhaul you’ve got two choices: 1) learn how to do it yourself or 2) hire a professional. Remember that this is your online home, so this is important.

If you’re going to do it yourself, you should at least learn how to do it right. I recommend Amanda Creek’s course: WordPress Made Easy. She walks you through how to set up your own site in less than three hours.

2. Your products photos are too blurry, small, dark, yellow, blue or anything else other than AMAZING.

If you’re a product-based business selling online, you’ve got to have professional product photos. That means you have to learn how to take high-quality photos or you need to hire a photographer to take them for you.

No matter how much time you spend on marketing, if your product photos don’t make your ideal customer feel like she has to have your product, you’re going to struggle for every single sale.

This is where you should focus all of your marketing time until you’re proud of your photos.

3. Your copy lacks oomph.

To connect to your ideal customer, you’ve got be YOU. I know that sounds like a cheesy afternoon special (which I totally dug in middle school and yes I was a geek), but if your product descriptions sound like everything else out there and if your blog posts read like anyone could’ve written them, you’re going to struggle to sell your products and grow your following.

You’ve got to move away from what you learned in school and leap towards how you really talk. Personality sells.

And, if you’re not editing every single word and sentence and paragraph, you need to start. Every piece of writing in your business gives you the chance to connect to the person reading it (hey there, beauty!). Are you taking advantage of those opportunities?

4. You don’t have a clear plan.

In my CreativeLive bootcamp, Double Your Followers with Creative Marketing, I talk about the importance of having a clear marketing plan.

If you’re just publishing blog posts, updating Facebook, posting on Instagram and pinning on Pinterest because you think you’re supposed to without any clear rhyme or reason, you’re going to land in frustration nation fast.

You need a plan that includes goals and how you’re going to accomplish those goals. If you need help with this, you should check out my course because I walk you through every part of marketing your creative business in it. Through that course, you’ll figure out how you should spend your marketing time and even more importantly, how to promote your business effectively.

5. You’re the only one talking about your brand.

What do you trust more? An ad for a new moisturizer or your best friend raving about how this moisturizer got rid of her acne and made her skin glow like when she was pregnant minus puking around the clock and oh yeah, growing a human?

You trust your friend more, right? The ad doesn’t necessarily make you want to drive to Sephora and pick it up but when your friend can’t stop talking about it, you get online and order it immediately.

What do you think your potential customers trust more? When you say your products are amazing or when other people say they’re amazing?

If you’re the only one talking about your brand and products, it’s going to take you forever to reach your sales goals. If happy customers and other creatives are helping you spread the word, marketing is going to feel so much easier.

6. You don’t have a way to keep in contact with potential customers.

If you’re new to business, you might not realize how important it is to have an email newsletter. Let me tell you: IT’S. THE. MOST. IMPORTANT. THING. EVER.

People often don’t buy on the first touch—the first time they see a product. Think about your buying habits. You see a pair of earrings that you really like. You probably don’t buy them right away. You think about it, you go back to the page a few days later and reread the description and any reviews, you think about it some more, you read some more reviews and then you finally buy.

What happens waaaaaay too often? You find something that you’re going to “come back to later” and you completely forget how to get back to it when you think about it a few days later.

If you’re not collecting email addresses, you’re losing a lot of potential business. If you get people signed up for your emails and you email your list once a week, you stay on their minds regularly.

7. You aren’t putting in enough effort.

I hear lots of complaints: No one reads my blog. No one likes my Facebook posts. I don’t get any new follows on Instagram. My email list only has 10 subscribers.

Not always, but very often, when an entrepreneur says something like that it’s their own fault.

No one reads her blog posts because she only spend 20 minutes on them, not caring enough to even edit them before publishing.

No one likes her Facebook posts—not because Facebook is an evil demon that only shows posts when people pay—but because she only posts when she adds a new product to her Etsy shop.

No one follows her on Instagram because her photos aren’t pretty. The latest post is a semi-disgusting photo of her mushy oatmeal.

You get the picture. If you don’t put in time and energy into your marketing efforts, they’re not going to get you far. If you’re complaining that something isn’t working for you, be really honest with yourself. Are you really putting in your best work?

8. You aren’t being social or helping others.

If you want other people to help you succeed in business, you’ve got to give as well. If you see a blog post that you think your followers would enjoy, post about it on Facebook.

If someone leaves you a thoughtful comment, respond. If someone asks you a question on Twitter, answer her.

We’re all busy and we all miss things every once in a while (I’m not perfect by any means) but if you make an effort to be social on social media, instead of only using it to promote your business, you’ll see that when you do promote your business people pay more attention.

9. You lack confidence.

If you lack confidence, it’s probably evident throughout your business. Your copy probably reflects your insecurity, and you might not be making the best decisions for your business. If you don’t have confidence in what you’re selling, you’re going to have a really hard time selling it.

Do what it takes to increase your confidence. Take a course to improve your craft. Spend the first hour of every day practicing your craft. Spend the next two weeks improving that ebook you sell—adding more content, redoing the photos and editing it again. Take whatever steps will make you feel good about yourself and your business.

10. Your prices say the wrong thing about your products.

Lots of creative entrepreneurs price their products lower than they should because they think that’ll help them sell more in the beginning. Often, that just makes your potential customers question the quality.

If your prices scream “cheap!” then you might be giving off the wrong impression.

What do your prices say about your products?

There are other reasons that your marketing efforts might not be working, but these are the big ones I see impacting creative entrepreneurs regularly.

If you’re struggling, be honest with yourself. Could one of these areas be the reason that your marketing efforts leave you feeling frustrated?

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My New Creative Project: 30 Days of Watercolor

30 Days of Watercolor

As a creative entrepreneur do you ever feel like there isn’t enough time to create?

My clients tell me things like, “Since I started my jewelry business, I never have time to make jewelry” or “If I get 30 minutes of painting in a day, it’s a good day.”

I get it. Writing blog posts, emailing your list, updating Instagram, Facebook, Twitter and Pinterest, responding to emails, washing your laundry, doing the dishes, walking your dog, taking care of your kids (and everything else you have to do) takes up a lot of time.

I’ve fallen into the ‘I don’t have time for it’ trap way too many times.

Because I’ve been focused on my individual consulting clients for the past two and half months, I’ve told myself that I don’t have time for my watercolors. And, while I am spending a lot of time on individual consulting clients, if watercolor is a priority to me, I’ll make the time, right?

That’s what I’m doing with my 30 Days of Geometric Watercolor Patterns challenge. For 30 days, I’ll paint and share one geometric watercolor pattern on Instagram each day.

Honeycomb Watercolor Pattern

Honeycomb Watercolor Pattern

Why You Should Start a 30-Day Challenge

If you’ve been meaning to make something a priority, you should join me by creating your own 30-day challenge.

Everybody has excuses, but if you really want to make time for something, you’ll find a way.

I love painting with my watercolors. It calms me and makes me happier than most anything (except for reading young adult novels and spending ‘alone time’ with my man). But, I’ve made excuse after excuse on why I can’t make time for it right now. And, that’s crap.

Is there something that you’ve wanted to spend more time on? Well, give yourself a no-excuses challenge so you stop coming up with reasons why you can’t do it today and ‘you’ll make time later.’

30 Days of Geometric Patterns

Watercolor Scallops Pattern

Why 30 Days?

When I decided that I needed to make watercolor a priority, I knew I needed a way to keep myself accountable for a specific length of time.

And, we can all do something for 30 days. It feels doable yet challenging.

At the end of the 30 days, I’m going to reassess. I’ll probably keep going, but by then it’ll be much easier, because over those thirty days I’m building a habit of painting each day.

Triangle Watercolor Pattern

30 Days of Watercolors

Get Others to Hold You Accountable

Many of us struggle with willpower. You have a tough day–your kid vomited on your backseat, your mom told you that your new haircut is ‘interesting’ with a sneer on her face, a client asked for a refund and you had to edit and publish your weekly blog post. So, you tell yourself that instead of knitting for 30 minutes, you’ll give yourself a day off, have a glass of Pinot Noir and watch a Gilmore Girls rerun.

There’s nothing wrong with a little Gilmore Girls, but if you want to build a habit over 30 days and stick to it, you’ll be less likely to skip a day if you tell others about your challenge.

The main reason I’m sharing one pattern a day on Instagram is because I know that I won’t miss a day.

Once I tell people that I’m doing something, it takes a hurricane, 103 degree fever and no access to internet to keep me from doing it. That’s my stubborn personality, but I know that it works for me.

If you decide to do a 30-day challenge, I’d love to know. Have you already done one (or something like it)? Share in the comments below.

If you’d like to follow along with me, make sure you’re following me on Instagram because that’s the only place I’ll be sharing all 30 patterns.

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12 Reasons I Blog (And, quick ways to improve yours)

12 Reasons I Blog

Blogging (along with email marketing) has been one of the most effective tools in growing my business. Here are 12 reasons why I continue to blog after more than eight years of consistent blogging:

1. Because it gives me the perfect platform to help creative entrepreneurs build the businesses of their dreams around the lives they crave to live.

2. Because I can promote my business.

3. Because I love writing.

4. Because it gives me a way to share my story–who I am and why I do what I do.

5. Because I can share my creative passions like watercolor and photography.

6. Because I can give potential customers a way to figure out if we’re the right fit.

7. Because I can do it in pajamas or an Anthropologie romper.

8. Because no one can delete my hard work (unlike on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram of any other social media platform).

9. Because I can provide valuable, consistent content for free.

10. Because I’m in charge and get to make every single decision.

11. Because it’s an inexpensive way to connect to my target market.

12. Because it’s fun!

Blog_Quick_And_Powerful_Ways_To_Improve_Your_Blog_620x350

CreativeLive invited me to share some tips on blogging along with Bonnie from Going Home to Roost, Abby from While She Naps and Kim from Mighty Ugly to help celebrate National Craft Month. We all have two things in common: we’ve all taught a course on the craft channel at CreativeLive and we all blog.

The beauty of asking multiple bloggers about their experiences is that you get to see that there’s no one right way to build a successful blog.

I enjoyed reading all of their answers and I hope you do, too!

I’d love to hear why you blog in the comments below.

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10 Reasons You Shouldn’t Wait to Join B-School

B-School Bonus

Over the past few weeks a lot of people have been talking about B-School.

You’ve heard multiple success stories. You’ve watched the videos. You’ve read the sales page over and over. You’ve looked at a bunch of different bonus options.

And now, there’s less than 24 hours left before the shopping cart closes.

If you’re thinking, “I know I want to do B-School but I’ll wait until next year,” I’ve got 10 reasons why that’s not such a great idea:

1. It might not be available next year.

Throughout promoting B-School this year, Marie said that B-School might not be offered in this way again next year. The last time I heard Marie say that was the last year she hosted her annual conference, Rich Happy and Hot Live.

Some people thought it was a marketing tactic to get people to attend the conference. Well, she didn’t host that conference again and many people were upset that they missed their shot to attend.

I haven’t personally spoken with Marie about this, so I can’t say that I know anything for certain. But, I wouldn’t just say, “Oh, I’ll catch this next year,” if you really want the chance to take B-School. Do it now so you don’t have any regrets.

2. You shouldn’t wait another year to change your life.

B-School is a life-changing program for so many people (myself included). Why wait an entire year (if Marie even offers it again) to create the business of your dreams and start living the life you crave?

When you think about it that way it doesn’t make much sense to wait, does it?

3. Marie is the best of the best.

Marie hangs out with Richard Branson. She’s been interviewed by Oprah. Enough said.

If you want to learn from the best, this is the way to do it. You get access to her training and live calls where you can ask questions about your business.

4. You’ll never feel “ready.”

One of the biggest business mistakes you can make is to wait for things until you feel ready. I didn’t feel ready when I joined B-School. I didn’t feel ready when I started my blog. I didn’t feel ready when I taught at CreativeLive.

If you wait until you feel “ready,” you’re going to be waiting a very long time. Succeeding in business means taking risks. And, if you’re not willing to take risks, you shouldn’t be in business.

5. You’re looking for your business besties.

You’re looking for a group of women who get it. Your sisterhood of entrepreneurs who understand what it’s like to not be able to fall asleep because your mind is racing from your latest product idea or that feeling of disappointment when you send out your email newsletter that you poured your heart into for hours and six people unsubscribe.

You need an accountability partner who also takes her business seriously. You need colleagues who’ll support you, help you promote your products and services and give you honest feedback when you ask for it.

B-School (and the bonus Mayi and I are offering) will help you find all of that and more. To me, the community you join with B-School is worth the cost of admission.

B-School Bonus

6. You don’t have the time or money.

You might think that this is the reason that you shouldn’t join B-School but it’s the exact opposite. If you don’t have a lot of time, then you need to join the program that’s going to make the biggest impact on your business. B-School is that program. Marie doesn’t include any fluff—every homework assignment and every minute of the modules is vital.

If your business isn’t making money right now, you obviously need to make some changes. B-School will help you make those necessary changes. We’ve all heard the saying that you’ve got to spend money to make money. That’s a cliché for a reason—it’s true.

7. Everything is a struggle.

If every sale, every Facebook like, every blog post, every Instagram comment, every email newsletter feels like a struggle, B-School is what you need.

That’s where I was when I joined B-School. Everything felt like a struggle and after implementing what I learned through B-School, it started to get easier. My next launch felt more natural and my sales doubled from my launch before B-School.

8. You’re making a commitment to yourself and your business.

When you invest this much money into your education, you’re making a commitment to your business. And, if you’re anything like me, that means that you’ll actually do the work you know is important but that you’ve been putting off.

Have you been telling yourself that you’ll start blogging consistently next month? Or that you’ll start your email marketing campaign soon? Or that you’ll figure out the whole ‘target market’ thing next week?

B-School might just be the push you need to finally do the work. Mayi and I will work with you each week to encourage and motivate you, pushing you to make big changes to your business.

9. You’ve got that tingling sensation that this is the right program for you.

You know best. If you’ve got that excited (yet terrified) sensation when you think about B-School, it’s probably just what you need.

10. Mayi and I might not offer this bonus package next time (if there is a next time).

Mayi and I don’t know what the next year will bring for either of us, so we can’t guarantee that if Marie offers B-School again that we’ll be offering this (or any) bonus.

In fact, Mayi and I spent a few Skype calls discussing B-School and whether we could offer a bonus package together this year. We worked it out so that we could, but we can’t promise anything for the future.

I couldn’t imagine offering a bonus package without Mayi, but we really don’t know what we’ll both be focusing on come next year. If you want to work through B-School with us as mentors through the process, you should join before the doors close tomorrow at 3pm EST.

Have questions about B-School? Mayi and I probably answered them in the happy hour call we hosted last week which you can watch right here.

If we didn’t answer your questions in that call, email me at blacksburgbelle@gmail.com and I’ll get back to you as soon as possible.

B-School registration closes tomorrow at 3pm EST! If you know you want to join, don’t miss this opportunity.

BSchoolDisclaimer

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B-School: Is It the Right Fit for You?

$1999. Not the kind of thing you can find digging in the couch cushions.

I know it’s crazy scary to invest that amount of money into education for your business–like I need an adult diaper crazy scary.

But, you’re not going to get far if you’re not willing to invest in your business. With that said, you want to make the right investments.

You should spend money on education when you need more education. You should spend money on improving your website when your website no longer works for your business. You should spend money on a new camera when you’re a product-based business needing to update your product photos.

It’s difficult to figure out what to invest in, to know what’s going to pay off and what isn’t.

I wish there was a business fairy godmother that would show us the way, telling us, “This is the year you should join B-School” or “You need to buy a DSLR this month.” If we knew exactly what would help us reach our business dreams, it would be so much easier.

I’m going to try my best to be your fairy godmother today with the video below. I tell you my opinions on who should register for B-School and who should skip it. I hope it helps you make the best decision for yourself and your business.

Week Titles-2

UPDATE: On a live call answering questions, Marie said that she might not offer B-School again in this way next year. The last time she said that was the last year she hosted her conference, Rich Happy and Hot Live, so she doesn’t usually say something like that lightly. If you were thinking you’d wait until next year, you shouldn’t put it off if you really want the opportunity.

The most common question I receive from people who don’t know whether they should join B-School is: Is it just going to be stuff I already know?

While I answered this in the video, I want to expand a bit more.

This question doesn’t have a very simple answer.

Yes, if you’ve taken business courses before, some of the concepts won’t be new to you. Any good business course covering online marketing is going to cover: email marketing, blogging, getting to know your target market, etc. But, no one course is the same. They cover the same concepts in different ways, using different examples. So, while some of the strategies won’t be brand new, they aren’t taught in the same way.

And, B-School isn’t just about the modules. That’s a huge part of it, but it’s also about: the live calls with Marie (that she tends to stay on for three hours or more), the community of entrepreneurs who are all working towards the same things (which is worth the cost of admission in my opinion), the bonus materials (like the do it yourself WordPress training and the marketing for product-based businesses bonus).

Not to mention that if you join through an affiliate that’s offering a bonus package, you get additional stuff for free. The bonus package that Mayi and I are offering includes eight weeks of mastermind calls where we share all the behind-the-scenes details of our businesses. That’s invaluable.

If you’re only joining to learn the ‘next hot thing’ that’s going to make you successful, B-School isn’t for you. If all you can think about is ‘what if I know this stuff already’ and you don’t see the value in everything you get with B-School, it’s not for you.

But, if you’re worried that B-School won’t meet your expectations, I wouldn’t.

B-School has changed so many lives for the absolute better. It can do the same thing for you. Marie Forleo is the real deal. She’s built a multi-million dollar business. She’s been interviewed by Oprah. She hangs out with Richard Branson. She employs a team of people. And, if you want to learn from the best, it’s going to be an investment–not a drop in the bucket.

Have more questions? Join Mayi and I on February 24th at 4pm EST for a happy hour where we discuss all things B-School and answer all of your questions. Click the blue “remind me” button to receive a reminder on the day of the call.

Are you a B-School alum wishing that you could somehow join us for our B-School bonus? We’ve got an option for you right here.

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