Rip off the mask, tear down the walls. Show the world my beautiful, vulnerable self!

Posts tagged ‘marketing’

The More Things Change

Seeing Change in My “Not-to-do” List

There are a lot of things I’ve sworn I’d never do over the years: get married, have kids, divorce, bungee jump, sky dive… many are now part of my history while some are permanent fixtures on my “Not To Do” list. Lately, I’m considering removing one I thought I’d leave there forever; get a tattoo.

I recently saw a woman with 3 butterflies flitting up from her back and onto her neck. I was intrigued enough to consider what had become a very strong life symbol for me lately. Right now I’m thinking a small one on the inside of my right wrist. Meanwhile, I’ve started noticing not only butterflies in the wild, but tattoos as well. The latest was a larger one on a shoulder. The wrist still feels right to me but you never know. Then there’s the question of blue ink or a colorfully resplendent monarch or painted lady.

Fortunately, it isn’t a decision I plan to make in the near future. Heaven knows I have far more pressing matters before me. I truly have been evolving from a caterpillar to a butterfly over the last few months. Not only have I become more focused on my writing and online publishing, I’ve also made a firm commitment to invest in my marketing skills.

New Directions, New Guides

Towards that end, I’ve parted company with the coach/mentor I’d been working with this year, turning instead to a course in marketing. I’ve hung out in the Facebook Group “Gorilla Army Nation” for over a year now, picking up tidbits here and there. I knew I wasn’t ready to commit to one of their programs before now. I dabbled in a couple, and got bogged down in the last one.

Fortunately, about the time I was feeling frustrated and stupid, they realized the course I was trying to get through really was overly complex. They came up with one which broke the steps down into much smaller pieces, offering more help, a private group, and tons of encouragement along the way. I took a leap.

I’m not barreling through the course or having almost immediate results like some people, but I feel I’m in good company, working through it slowly, methodically, and with the freedom to ask even the dumbest questions without fear or embarrassment. Both staff and students are supportive, and have already helped me over a couple of humps that stopped me in the larger course. It never occurred to me that if a section didn’t apply, I could simply skip it and move on!

Through the course, I’m learning I do have skills. They’re deeply hidden beneath my misconceptions and underdeveloped social skills. But they are there! And I finally got the answer to the immortal question “How many ICA’s should I have?” that fits with my own thoughts and feelings. (the answer is pretty much “as many as you need”). It is even possible to have thousands of different ones, though for me, a dozen or so should cover it all, at least for now.

Learning to Go Where Life Takes Me Somewhat Gracefully

https://www.flickr.com/photos/philleara/7246573430/in/photolist-c3mzPd-djJiUe-oajKtQ-djJjmv-djJjLR-oapGkZ-djJjb9-djJj5F-cntb2u-7Y2xWm-cntayf-c3mLB3-n329S-7XYhYD-cntbhs-TCrSUz-gg7DZE-gg7XMV-6Ak5ks-9a2C7g-djJjz6-cntb85-rCKS6-cntag1-azBhou-3oXQYc-cnta8q-cntaL7-ocbPjv-oa7hn8-fJm576-baRPgp-7Y2xp7-8ommnm-bA1QHR-cnt9j1-dmywKj-7Y2x7b-4vwAew-aAPJwq-oa7iJB-cnt9xu-2FtNgi-gunWiW-hLgWLK-e4kv6P-2FtPvB-9GPQLh-4vsuDF-baRMyvAt the beginning of 2019 I had a certain vision of how the year would unfold. The reality, 9 months in isn’t even close.

Yes, I’m still writing, and sporadically working on “Rebuilding After Suicide”. But I’ve changed directions on it, and am not sweating so much that I’m way behind schedule on the latest re-write. I have been posting chapters of my first novel, “Sasha’s Journey” to ChapterBuzz where I’ve been getting some helpful feedback from other authors.

This year also saw me establish a publishing schedule on Medium, and more recently, receive an invitation to join the writing team of one of the publications. While a huge boost to my ego, not everything I submit to them has been accepted, but I am also being featured every month or so by the Medium team. Recognition might be coming slowly, but since it took me almost 6 years to get to this point, I’m not complaining. In fact, I’m celebrating it as a win!

Seeing Change as a Journey

The butterfly I’ve accepted as a symbol of my journey doesn’t go through the https://www.flickr.com/photos/jfolsom/5931303869/in/photolist-a38tZP-dmn34H-a7FwQm-antZ2h-bwzwuR-5stPPH-6EsqoX-T4qUgL-4hmxbh-8MJPmb-fEFoSF-kCt71i-2ikr4t-8MF532-WNwMjy-8tMnKX-fEFoGg-fEXXd7-afuD1a-8MEuUF-95Mr5j-dySrRf-bfNhFR-9oSxoh-5WgF4Q-8MHZfC-7VroTL-9PiLGB-oaW3YQ-K4CQFx-8YSrLp-mSLwB-7VqeAh-5hfnTx-KfhXca-e3u44f-99b5UG-7BeZaD-8MHAVw-kAEoL3-6qZ9C6-5thpD3-ai9p7Z-9gCot5-o8bKtB-5W8sPu-85jA66-6PCR9M-bJ7tue-97oqD4physiological change in one fell swoop. She crawls around as a caterpillar for awhile. One day, she spins herself into a chrysalis where she hangs from a branch for about 10-14 days while her body transforms. Even when the chrysalis opens, she must continue to hang from the branch and pump fluid from her abdomen into wings which were crumpled up inside her temporary home. Once her wings dry, she can finally fly.

I’ve spent the last few years writing lots of words, but also learning what working as a writer really means. I’ve had to establish my own presence and figure out which of the many possible directions I wanted to take. Now, I’m in the stage where I’m strengthening the tools I need to get there. It’s a process, like the butterfly emerging from her chrysalis. Some of it is instinctual, but for me, the business and marketing end really isn’t. I’m having to shed old ways and ideas and learn new ones before I can truly fly. The largest and most obstructive was the idea that I couldn’t market myself. My way was well and truly blocked until I let go of that self-limiting, and utterly false belief.

In some ways, I feel like I’m still in the cocoon, while in others, I feel like I’m already soaring up to the treetops, playing games of tag with the other butterflies.

Traveling My Own Crooked Path

https://www.flickr.com/photos/nhoulihan/4038592452/in/photolist-79SQQm-TfUffd-pgu9hJ-qfYXYE-pDVWDB-6UQgZM-KFog6C-TFYhqd-29TMHM-fP6i28-j73ZT5-atsnGd-C4HxXs-5eRdT5-YoKVff-24PBcMS-28G1ckh-AqrzL-haocsM-o1RCfj-4iigfF-6hbQxG-TCfZem-qVx4n8-U63bC7-dCTxQg-amkKyF-eiY1qF-Ct5hqm-hSGXpV-BcaCh-8c2bVB-27RWaS2-eQjYy1-cJWTgw-ehKQWJ-AJSt63-ay4RXc-cxa1zW-UFe9Vq-aC3EP1-pkL1fr-ehKSrs-qxMMJj-bvMGyV-VG1fkR-ay4Sgv-aDNaMx-aE1tNY-h7171rUnlike the butterfly, the steps I need to take aren’t laid out in a nice, precise pattern. I can jump from place to place, learning pieces of things and coming back when I’m ready for more. There’s also room for trial and error which is a good thing, as I don’t always listen to all the instructions; haring off to try something that popped into my head semi-formed. Sometimes it works out splendidly, but mostly it requires another trip to the drawing board.

Such is it with the idea of a tattoo. I’ll think about it for awhile, noticing every butterfly tattoo that crosses my path. I’ll think about a series starting with a chrysalis, then slowly opening to reveal the butterfly. Still, I won’t act until I’m certain it’s what I want; and maybe it will remain an image in my head. I can no more say than I could have predicted on January 1 where I’d be today.

I go where I’m guided to go. Sometimes my guide is my higher self and leads me through a fairly well thought out series of steps. More often, my impatience kicks in or my ADD mind starts spinning. Then I jump around from task to task until I finally exhaust myself and set some guidelines and due dates. I’m learning to accept that a certain amount of structure is a good thing. But I have to make sure and leave space for my imagination to continue to run amok. It’s where the magick happens!

Finding Reasons for Gratitude in All I Do

My gratitudes today are:

  1. I’m grateful for change. Life may no longer be predictable, but it’s always interesting.
  2. I’m grateful for guidance which has come to me from several different directions this year. I’m sure it’s been there, but I had to be ready to see and hear it.
  3. I’m grateful for my solitude. It gives me time to think, to imagine, to go in and out of frustration, to change plans, and to make others.
  4. I’m grateful for my friends who continue to be encouraging even if it looks like I have nothing to show for my efforts; even if it appears, to the causal observer that I’m living the life of a retiree. If they only knew!
  5. I’m grateful for abundance; love, inspiration, imagination, guidance, support, encouragement, persistence, joy, health, harmony, peace, prosperity, and philanthropy.

Love and Light

 

About the Author

Sheri Conaway is a writer, blogger, ghostwriter, and an advocate for cats and mental health. Sheri believes in the Laws of Attraction, but only if you are a participant rather than just an observer. Her mission is to Make Vulnerable Beautiful and help entrepreneurs touch the souls of their readers and clients so they can increase their impact and their income. If you’d like to have her write for you, please visit her Hire Me page for more information. You can also find her on Facebook Sheri Levenstein-Conaway Author or in her new group, Putting Your Whole Heart Forward

Giving Our Dreams a Kick in the Pants

Dreams That Come to Us by Day

You can find the Facebook Live where I talk about Dreams by clicking the link.

Dreams are funny things. When they come at night, they’re often gone by morning. When we do remember a bit or two, the rest evades us the harder we try to capture the essence.

Even our waking dreams; the ones we imagine intentionally, can be equally resistant to capture and implementation. Sometimes we just need patience, but for others, we might need a little help. It might be that those dreams have too many components to implement all at once. Or it might be that we need to clarify what it is we actually want so we can focus in on the steps required to achieve it.

We could simply run them by our family and friends, but I’ve found they’re often too close to us and too engaged in what makes our heart sing. There are times we just need an outsider who asks us the right questions; the difficult questions that make us figure out for ourselves where we need our focus to be…at least for the time being. I finally realized after drifting aimlessly for the last 3 years (assuming finishing 3 Nano’s and having 5 pieces and an active blog is aimless) that I needed help whittling down the veritable cacophony of ideas into one or two workable tasks.

Helping Corner Our Dreams Instead of Fruitlessly Chasing Them

The decision made, I took advantage of a couple of sample sessions, keeping my senses alert for someone who resonated with me. That’s not to say each wasn’t helpful in their own way, but like any therapy, there was a certain something, a click if you will I needed to feel in order to put my dollars down and embark on a journey with a virtual stranger.

I admit, it was a little scary, opening my private hopes and dreams to someone I knew little or nothing about. Frankly, the monetary consideration was the least of my concerns. What if they told me my dreams were all wet and I needed to go back to the drawing board. Or worse, what if my dreams of being a writer were of the pipe variety and could never come to pass.

Fortunately, as of this writing, the coach I found realizes writing is my true passion and is working with me to make at least a part of my long-term dreams a reality. That isn’t to say I’m being relieved of the frustration I’ve been experiencing lately. Nor does it mean I can sit back and wait for someone to discover me. (trust me, that only happens in the movies). It means we’re trying different things to see what might get things rolling business-wise so I can ultimately give myself permission to continue writing the things which are long-term projects, not a steady source of income.

Re-writing My Money Story

For awhile, I hated the idea of having to charge people for my services, but let’s be realistic. The bills need to be paid if I want a roof over my head, power for the internet connection, the internet connection itself, and food for my furry roommates. In my eyes, those roomies are all incredibly adorable (and Dylan is great at keeping me at my desk scratching his belly, er, working for hours at a time) but lack the earning capacity of Grumpy Cat and others. Or maybe I just haven’t learned to market their cuteness as effectively.

At any rate, I’m learning there’s no shame in writing for money. I may not be ready or willing to write sales pitches, but there are many ways to put words to screen for compensation without sacrificing my integrity.

Learning to Attract Rather Than Repel Potential Clients

I’ve learned some tough lessons along the way. No matter how much I might love a person’s content, they are often unwilling to entertain the idea that their editing sucks rocks, no matter how politely I might word it. They are often unconvinced that people get the twitches when their copy is filled with grammatical and spelling errors galore. And maybe they’re right. Maybe my sensitivity to those errors puts me in the minority. But I have to admit that I will stop reading even the most useful information if I find too many errors. I can’t help myself. It’s my version of fingernails on the blackboard.

One of the biggest things a coach can help me with is wording things to attract rather than repel potential clients. She can teach me the words to use which will inspire entrepreneurs to take a chance on a content writer, but not just any content writer, this content writer!

Choosing Your Marketing Plan With Care

I’ve seen a plethora of marketing techniques which turn me off, and strive to avoid using them. But I’m also learning that what I might consider badgering is simply an offer to someone else. What I might consider being helpful is considered offensive or insulting to someone else.

Then there’s the matter of what a friend told me recently. She said I need to “think like a Millenial”.  In other words, drop the need to sound professional because Millenials are “…the meat and bones of the market.” Great!

Becoming Fluent in “Millenial”

Of course, learning to speak the language isn’t a bad thing as far as my writing is concerned. The more realistic I can make my characters, the better. Some of you might remember the challenges I voiced a while back about “teen speak”. It appears there’s also a “Millenial speak” which I’ve yet to learn, much less master.

Step One: Admit You Need Help

This leads me in my typical roundabout fashion to the need to invest in a coach or coaches. Currently, I’m working on just getting my business out to the content-buying public. I’ve put aside my efforts to market a laundry list of skills in favor of one, single item; blog posts.

Even so, I am learning to be both persistent and patient, two skills I have a tendency to replace with procrastination and scatteredness. But if this old dog can hire a business coach or three, she can learn some new tricks too. I just need to keep reminding myself to recognize the small wins along the way.

Where Have You Taken Advantage of Coaching?

Over to you now. Here’s your chance to share your own experiences and help the rest of us at the same time! Have you taken advantage of a coach of some kind to help move your dreams and skill sets forward? I’m learning coaches come in many different varieties, inspiring us physically, mentally, and emotionally. A different perspective can help us get out of a rut or move us forward faster than we’ve been able to do on our own. You just have to find the right fit.

Remembering to Take Time Out for Gratitude

My gratitudes today are:

  1. I am grateful for the lessons I’ve learned and those still to come.
  2. I am grateful for a mind that’s being compelled to open wider and wider.
  3. I am grateful for both the help and opportunities which come into my life when they’re needed.
  4. I am grateful for the examples and suggestions my friends, family and new acquaintances offer.
  5. I am grateful for abundance; love, friendship, expertise, sharing, caring, opportunities, new connections, old connections, life, joy, peace, harmony, philanthropy, and prosperity.

Blessed Be

 

 

March 23, 2015 Where has all the music gone?

While watching TV last night, I finally figured it out

For awhile now, I’ve been griping about the state of popular music. I know I’m not alone in finding that what is popular today, at least on the country charts, lacks the creativity and depth we enjoy from many of the older artists. As I type this, I realize that the same can be said of a lot of popular fiction.

What really brought the idea home was when a diaper commercial came on using a song I’ve truly come to despise as being nearly as deplorable as what comes from the pen and mouth of Taylor Swift. I’m sure by now, you’ve heard that catchy little ditty, “All About the Bass” because it’s been splattered all over social networking, shown up (to my complete disgust) on award shows and is now even rearing its ugly head on “The Voice”.

When did Marketing begin to overshadow content?

Whether you’re talking about “All About the Bass”, any one of TS’s dreadfully repetitive whines about breaking up with yet another boyfriend or mean girls who never thought she’d make it, or what I’ve come to refer to fondly as “Fifty shades of Meh”, I’ll be the first to admit that these people are marketing geniuses.

Even last year, watching Taylor coach the Voice contestants, I could see that she really knew her stuff when it came to packaging a bucket of shit and convincing people that it was French perfume (Not that I would ever, in a million years, put the Voice contestants in that category.  They’re all amazing!).  Meaghan is no different. They’ve done their homework when it comes to knowing what sells, and are doing a phenomenal job of…well…let’s not sugar coat it, dumbing down the music industry.

The message we’re hearing loud and clear is that it is no longer necessary to write a song which reaches straight into your heart with both its words and its incredibly complex instrumentals and melody, nor is it about writing a well thought out, well written novel. With the right marketing strategy, “See Jack Run” and “Twinkle, Twinkle Little Star” could be massive commercial success stories.  What it comes down to is that what sells today will be tomorrow’s commercial jingle.

Writers and Song Writers need to write, but they also need to eat.

We’re faced with a truly moral dilemma. Do we quit or day jobs to do what we love, knowing that it will likely not pay the bills, or do we work all day doing something we hate just to give us the roof over our heads and the ability to create something meaningful? Or worse, do we give in to the pressure, learn to market to the lowest common denominator and write something we hate nearly as much as that day job?

I used to find it mildly amusing that my daughters and their fellow band members chose Queen, Santana, Chicago and the Eagles over more contemporary music when we had car washes or other somewhat social events. In hindsight, I think they figured it out long before I did.

Every cloud has a silver lining

What saves us from the complete collapse of literacy and music is that some of the true artists have embraced the need to market and are using the same tools those short-cutters have learned so well. It might be a tougher road as their songs don’t make for good jingles and their books don’t leave as much room for a director to put his own mark on the story, but they do keep inspired music and stories that make us think alive. I’m sure those people are working a lot harder for their living than those who are bent on selling us baby food for the brain, but I, for one, am incredibly grateful that they remain true to their craft.

My gratitudes tonight are:
1. I am grateful that there is still a modicum of integrity in the arts, and hope that the few who support that integrity continue to raise their voices loudly and proudly.
2. I am grateful that we have the choice; we can listen to the brain numbing, jingle worthy top 40, or we can listen to music. We can read mindless pap or we can read something which makes us think.
3. I am grateful that given the right spin, just about anyone can make a mark in the world.
4. I am grateful for a forum in which to share my observations, and that people do not have to agree with me. I really wont’ take it personally.
5. I am grateful for abundance; choices, family, love, friendship, encouragement, opportunity, harmony, peace, health and prosperity.

Blessed Be

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