Updates 2018

 I <3  Garner's Modern American Usage

I <3 Garner's Modern American Usage

So many things. Fasten your straightjackets.

1. I moved to L.A. Well, Pasadena, technically. I also ran a live music-live lit variety show at my friend's bookstore for an entire year. That was pretty great.

2. A few wonderful ideas dawned on me. I could get my MBA online to rid myself of my imposter syndrome once and for all. I could suspend TML in order to get a full-time gig in order to fund things, including my co-working space/board game cafe and my short film. I could keep writing stuff that may never see the light of day but keeps me sane.

 Qapla'!

Qapla'!

3. And so you'll have to forgive my post lag. I've been busy working on things that I hope to share with you soon. But if you want me to cover a topic for you here in this tiny nook of the internet, I'd be delighted to do so. Just hit me up.

Your Ebook Design Philosophy, feat. angry rant

Indeed, my life has led me to a place where I have been forced to consider the mundanity that is ebook design, so please, let me spare your ego and precious time by providing you with my thoughtful opinions, for life is terribly short.

First, the angry rant:

 Not only is the cake a lie, but the juice, too. And many, many other things. That bald guy from  The Matrix  was right: ignorance  is  bliss.

Not only is the cake a lie, but the juice, too. And many, many other things. That bald guy from The Matrix was right: ignorance is bliss.

Despite HubSpot's respected position in the content marketing industry, I have discovered that a large percentage of their content not only lacks integrity but comes packaged in such poor design that it makes me blush in embarrassment on their behalf. If content is so damn important to them, then why are their resources even more diluted than blended juice drinks? You don't need to spend 600 words on a 180-word takeaway (30% juice = 70% water). I resent them for the time I've wasted trying to educate myself about inbound marketing. More disappointing than that: they're promoting outdated design theory to people who are paying good money to learn how to win the hearts of customers who depend on the cutting edge to get ahead.

For instance, who the hell thinks it's a good idea to host ebook content on powerpoint slides? Fine, I'll be generous and indulge their potential reasons:

  1. slides are bite-size, i.e. not intimidating for people who don't like reading, 
  2. it's easier to organize the order of information since you can drag and drop slides rather than cut and paste text within custom-designed page layouts
  3. old-schoolers seem to find powerpoints comfortable because the graphic tech is familiar to them (i.e. templates, clip art, and other shortcuts)

My take on ebook design:

Why you should avoid slide-formatted downloadables:

  1. Slides were designed to be used by speakers for presentations; they aren't designed to have words on them, period. If you're speaking to an audience and using slides that display more than one or two words, your audience will be reading your slides instead of listening to you.
  2. Most slide templates look utterly antediluvian. Unless you're always investing in hi-res images or gorgeous, minimalist backgrounds, then you're dating your brand. It's difficult to find such assets for 20+ slides of information. Ebooks that are shaped like real books, on the other hand, allow you to showcase only your best. Plus, there are ways to format text to avoid burdening the reader. Let's not assume people's brains have become so liquidated by the internet that they're unable to handle anything more than headlined text.
  3. Sure, it can be more time-intensive to format content into custom-designed pages, but it's actually pretty easy if you use the right tools, like Sketch or Adobe. Meanwhile, it's difficult to collaborate on slide-formatted documents because you are forced to circulate strictly PDF drafts (unless you're comfortable with your computer translating different file extensions).  

Why you should use book (or magazine) formatted ebooks:

 The Book of Kells reminds us of our multi-millennia love affair with book-shaped books.

The Book of Kells reminds us of our multi-millennia love affair with book-shaped books.

  1. Using programs like Adobe or Sketch results in a truly custom-branded aesthetic. You're not going to look like every other agency that depend on templates or slides. Customization is quality, and you don't want to come off looking old-school when the realm of inbound marketing is new-school. Plus, magazines and books look beautiful/sexy/professional looking (which is why people still buy them) and imply that you're paying attention to modern design trends.
  2. They are more easily viewable on mobile devices. Have you ever read a slide-formatted document on your phone or e-reader? It ain't fun.
  3. They are more flexible. Want to include an infographic in your ebook? Take a look at Wired magazine--it's filled with infographics, a genre of content that doesn't tend to fit on a slide but attracts >40% of humans who prefer to learn visually.
  4. Speaking of Wired, they have great page layouts, unlike slides, which are restrictive and get warped depending on the device you're using (slides have multiple standards: 9x16? 3x4? other?).
  5. It's more book-y, and it would make sense for ebooks to be book-y. Slides should remain the tool speakers use for presentations. Books have served as homes for high-quality content for thousands of years. And, if you're going to argue that not all books fit the traditional book mold, then I invite you to adopt whatever format those unique books employ and apply their format to your ebook. You'll find that their pages are pretty darn customized.

*mic drop*

Frank Underwood as Marketing Mastermind

 ROBIN WRIGHT, people!&nbsp;Image cred: Netflix

ROBIN WRIGHT, people! Image cred: Netflix

Hopefully you've managed to finish the third season of House of Cards. But even if you haven't, the snippet of episode five that I'm about to detail isn't much of a spoiler. If you haven't watched any House of Cards... I don't even know what to say. Just... Robin Wright. 

Frank Underwood understands the power of stories. Think of his insistence that Russo leverage the recovering addict angle (lesson: vulnerability can win people over if it's balanced with strength and courage), or the reason he decided Zoe was a valuable ally (lesson: stories act like silver bullets if you manage to shoot first). It's as if he were flexing his marketing muscles throughout seasons one and two only to sink his teeth into the meat of his agenda in season three. At this point, as president, he's desperate to get the public on board with his America Works program in time for re-election. He again turns to the power of stories:

We need to sell America Works.... We need more than ad buys. We need the philosophy behind it, we need something of substance.... We need something that will capture the imagination.

He's talking to the writer who will carry out his next marketing maneuver: a book about the program he hopes will redeem his presidency. His point? Advertising isn't selling. Advertising is a tool people use to establish brand recognition and create buzz. But everyone already knows about his program; that's not his problem. The problem is getting people to buy in--selling the America Works program to the American people. So, what is selling if not advertising? Selling is persuading. You can't persuade people without words, and, as Underwood notes, it doesn't require overt manipulation. All you need is a story that's authentic and personal:

No sales pitch, just your honest curiosity.... I want something different, something unique--your voice.

While Frank Underwood typically demonstrates how political and marketing machines utilize manipulative tactics for persuasion, there's no denying the efficacy of his story strategy. I look forward to justifying my House of Cards binge habit with marketing wisdom again next year.

Content Strategy, a definition

 That white goose black sheep knows how to position itself.

That white goose black sheep knows how to position itself.

When I introduce myself at networking events as a content strategist and copywriter, people usually ask me about the writing that I do but not the strategy. A few days ago, I was surprised to meet a fellow content strategist who asked me the question I'd been waiting for: what is content strategy?

According to the New Oxford American Dictionary, content is information made available by a website or other electronic medium. For instance, this blog post is considered content. Strategy, meanwhile, is the art of planning and directing. Keeping these definitions in mind, I've concluded that content strategy includes the following:

  • planning the information to be presented (the content itself, i.e. the words that make up the paragraphs of a website, blog post, etc.)
  • planning the execution of content (the context/schedule, i.e. Monday Emailing, Tuesday Tweet, Wednesday Blog, Thursday LinkedIn, Friday Facebook)
  • directing the presentation of content (the design, i.e. the amount of white space, the use of headings, format)

Wikipedia's definition mirrors the above: "Content strategy refers to the planning, development, and management of content--written or other media." The entry cites other useful definitions taken from the mouths of established content strategists.

When I first started this biz, I expected freelance writing to mostly involve typing away on my laptop, reading sources, interviewing clients, and typing some more. I soon realized, however, that writing isn't enough. I could write a marvelous blog post, hand it over to my client, and it might never see the light of day. If you want people to read your writing, you need to handle it strategically--you need to plan how it will appear on a screen and when it will appear on a screen. You need to make sure you're covering SEO and basic human elements, like humor and voice. Obviously, the most important thing is to make sure the quality of the content is mind-blowingly good, but content without strategy is no better than a letter lost to the bottom of your junk drawer.

Next time I introduce myself at a networking event as a content strategist, this is what I will say: "There may be plenty of people who know how to write a decent sentence, but there aren't many people who know how to create stuff that actually gets noticed."

Metaphors, the human thought bomb

metaphor (n.), a figure of speech in which a word or phrase is applied to an object or action to which it is not literally applicable, a thing regarded as representative or symbolic of something else, especially something abstract

The power of the metaphor lies in its ability to communicate the abstract. When you have something complicated to explain, whether it be an emotion or technical process, you don't want to lose your audience to your rambling, literal terminology. Let's consider this blurb from a financial group's website:

As the nation’s largest independent broker-dealer*, a top RIA custodian, and a leading independent consultant to retirement plans, LPL is an enabling partner to more than 13,500 financial advisors and approximately 700 financial institutions. We believe that objective financial guidance is a fundamental need for everyone. Through our proprietary technology and a suite of customized services, we enable our customers to focus on creating the personal, long-term client relationships that are the foundation for turning life’s aspirations into financial realities.

Did your eyes glaze over? Mine did. My brain had nothing to chew on--no image, no idea, no feeling. Instead my brain attempted to gnaw on words that painted a bleak, abstract picture. This will not do if you actually want people to pick you over your competitor. Finance is boring. Most people don't get excited about the terms "broker-dealer," "RIA custodian," or even "financial guidance." Nor do people care about how many advisors, institutions, or services you have. Your audience just wants to get off your finance site as soon as possible, so let them.

Enter the sleek and sexy metaphor:

Nurturing your money, also known as "adulting," can sometimes be severely mind-numbing. In fact, some people find it utterly unbearable. But with LPL, attending to your finances can feel as natural as pulling on your favorite t-shirt. We're the tried and true group that won't disappoint. Let us match you with an advisor who'll fit you and feel better than any tailored suit."
 Etsy is a wonderful place.

Etsy is a wonderful place.

Metaphors are not only useful when attempting to explain something complicated; they're also great for appealing to the senses. Sensory marketing is legit--the more senses you incorporate into a message, the more effective it's proven to be--and metaphors can provide an avenue for including content that evokes sights, sounds, scents, and tastes. When you think of your favorite t-shirt, you think about the comfort of wearing something casual and familiar. You think about the fresh scent of laundry and the softness of something worn over and over again. After walking away from that paragraph, you'll end up remembering that impression for a while.

People tend to shy away from using metaphors when creating "professional" content because they fear metaphors aren't to the point. They might also worry about the irrelevant associations that a metaphor might conjure. My response: what's more important, being completely relevant/on point or being remembered? Humans value uniqueness. Are your competitors going to use this metaphor? No. So use it.

The Communication Equation

 Photo by Awkward Robot. It'll be relevant later.

Photo by Awkward Robot. It'll be relevant later.

I recently discovered Unstuckable, a podcast where you can "get daily inspiration and learn ... how to work on your own terms to achieve the freedom you desire and the stability you crave." While that statement is pretty fluffy, Episode 43 featured a discussion with Cory Huff of The Abundant Artist, who offered this nugget wisdom to artists looking to make art their living:

Figure out the best way you communicate and use that method to communicate what you do, why you do it, and why it matters to the people who are looking at your work. And then don’t be afraid to ask people to buy things.
— Cory Huff

Below I've illustrated Huff's communication equation:

TML Formulas.jpg

While this basic formula is exquisitely effective as is, my research and experience leads me to recommend a few edits. I would posit that the result of such an equation isn't necessarily success (whether that be defined as freedom, financial security, or something else), but rather a response to the stated, specific request. Oftentimes a request can be too vague to result in a desired outcome that could be described as success. (Clearly defining success would be the first step in crafting a request that would lead to a desired result.) Therefore, I propose altering and simplifying the equation:

TML Formulas.jpg

But that equation still leaves room for redundancies and inaccuracies. First of all, starting with "what" isn't necessarily going to attract and retain your audience. There are probably a lot of people who are doing what you're doing, and the details of that "what" may not matter to those who aren't sure they should invest their time/interest in the first place. Instead, your initial message should engage your audience's emotions, which is best accomplished through the element of "why"--go ahead and tell them why they should care. Furthermore, your "what" could be stated directly in your request. For example, if you're a landscape photographer who wants to make a living selling landscape photography prints, instead of starting off your message with, "I sell landscape photography prints," you could end your message with, "Buy my original landscape photography prints by visiting my virtual gallery."

The element "why" can also be simplified. If you want to capture emotion via the expression of your personal reasons for doing what you do, you should avoid saying something like, "I specialize in landscape photography because I enjoy taking pictures of unusual geography." Why would strangers care about your likes and dislikes? It is much easier to tap into emotions by stating an authentic belief: "I believe that capturing and promoting our planet's unique beauty can inspire people to make conscientious environmental choices."

By sharing your personal belief, you can connect emotionally with people who share your belief, the people most probable to respond to your request. But before getting to that request, you should squeeze in a persuasive, audience-centric "why." Your audience's "why" is not about you. It should not be a list of features: "My landscape photographs are printed in black and white, so they will match any decor." Instead, it should be presented as a benefit: "Viewing stunning landscapes everyday in your home or office can reawaken your appreciation for nature and motivate you to do your part in making Earth a healthy, thriving place for generations to come." Better yet, make it both informative and emotional: "With stunning black and white landscape photography greeting you everyday in your home or office, you can reawaken your appreciation for nature and find motivation to do you part in making Earth a healthy, thriving place for generations to come."

Below is the final equation:

Put it all together and you've got this message:

"I believe that capturing and promoting our planet's unique beauty can inspire people to make conscientious environmental choices. With stunning black and white landscape photography greeting you everyday in your home or office, you can reawaken your appreciation for nature and find motivation to do your part in making Earth a healthy, thriving place for generations to come. Buy my original landscape photography prints by visiting my virtual gallery."

The equation below indicates what each element should aim to do.

Ta-da!

Delicious, Ugly Meatloaf: Why Quality Writing <3 Quality Design

Good writing paired with bad design is like ugly meatloaf.

Most people wouldn't feel inclined to eat it, and the people who would eat it probably wouldn't Instagram it because their followers might lose their appetite. That would be a shame if you spent good money or time on your meatloaf.

 Delicious, ugly meatloaf.

Delicious, ugly meatloaf.

Or maybe not that much money. If I could have treated myself to a creamy chai latte, I would be a little upset if my investment was thwarted by ugliness.

Things that help your audience read your writing:

  • bullet points & lists
  • good typographical choices
  • hi-res, pretty images
  • white space
  • concision

If you're writing blocks of text, it's a good idea to break the blocks up with headings or white space so that skimmers can get the gist. White space is breathing room, and headings can serve as Cliff notes. Just don't over-do it.

Consider the following examples:


Example 1:

Nutcrackers are weird.

It would appear that we perceived our gods to be angry. They might notice that these figures were primarily used during winter. Nut remains would be found with them.

If aliens were to find the remains of our current civilization, they would discover small, idol-like figures in many households.

It would seem as if we believed that nut sacrifices catalyzed the transition to the next season.

 

Example 2:

 Our gods seem angry.

Our gods seem angry.

Nutcrackers are weird.

If aliens were to find the remains of our current civilization, they would discover small, idol-like figures in many households.

They might notice that these figures were primarily used during winter. Nut remains would be found with them.

It would appear as if we believed that nut sacrifices catalyzed the transition to the next season.


See? Isn't Example 2 easier on the eyes and mind? I not only hope that you now appreciate the importance of mindful design, but also the truth about nutcrackers. They are scary. Like clowns.

Email Blasts: the painful truth

The more I meet people at networking events, the more I get added to people's "contact list," which means that my inbox gets steadily more crowded. Which would be fine with me... if most of them didn't suck. After all, these smart, social professionals probably have some pretty valuable things to say. And they are willing to share their knowledge for free. On top of that, they're willing to reach out to me and share that valuable information so that I can sit on my couch in my pajamas and soak it all in at my leisure. But what happens to most of these convenient, informative, valuable messages? They get deleted. Why?

  1. They are boring. I open them up and there are blocks of plain text with canned messaging and no voice. I don't recognize the shining personality of the author. Instead, my eyes glaze over and I try to skim for important info, but it all blends together and I get overwhelmed and angry that this person made me spend my time skimming their email. I hit delete.
  2. They are not concise. If you want people to open an email and read something important, why bury it? Readers don't have time for an intro paragraph. They don't have time to click on that link that takes them to the tiny flash slideshow which, after text-dissolving slowly for three minutes, invites you to "click here!" for more information. Unless, of course, you've built up a solid reputation and you send an email blast with the heading, "THIS IS MY LAST MESSAGE, GOODBYE CRUEL WORLD."
  3. They aren't special. I know, I know, we can't all possibly be special. So, be honest with yourself: are you special? Think you might be a little special? THEN WRITE LIKE YOU'RE F***ING SPECIAL. If you're irreverent, write irreverently. If you're funny, write funnily. If you're super smart and nerdy, write smartly and nerdy-ly. If you're boring, don't write or hire someone who has a voice/personality. People will appreciate an irreverent, funny, smart voice more than a calm, collected, "professional" one. I'm not saying you aren't special if you happen to be a calm, collected, professional person... just consider what voice you can authentically inhabit and understand that people have a sixth sense for superficialities. Choose authenticity--you are what makes you special.

Here's an email you can send to your email-blasting colleague-friend:

Dear [special professional person who I happen to appreciate],
I've noticed that you've begun sending informative email blasts to, what I assume, a long list of contacts you've accumulated. I was wondering: have you gotten a lot of response from them? I ask because I've been reading these emails and I have a feeling not many other people have been.... And I bet that when they click on that link "Access Your Information," people don't stick around very long.
As your friend, I want to let you know that you're possibly hurting your brand with these sorts of email blasts. For one, people who know you (and obviously like you) might open the first few emails, but when they find the info boring/dry (no offense) and lacking your personality, they will stop opening your emails. And what's worse than being consistent in your messaging is having your messaging associated with "unimportant" or "boring and dry" or, even worse, "annoying." Because then, when you have something really important or valuable to share, people won't pay attention.
So, if you're interested in keeping your brand shiny and potent, my suggestion is to write with a voice, present your info in a more interesting/entertaining way, and make it prettier (graphic design is actually an important consideration for email blasts, especially when you're contacting people who don't know you very well since you'll have to visually attract them to read your content). Or perhaps consider halting further email blasts before it's too late and you lose your audience. Once you lose your audience, it's really hard to win them back.

And so, my friends, think before you send.

Communicating Like a True Human: Practical & Entertaining Exercises

 I love that lady in the back. She knows she shouldn't be wearing that.

I love that lady in the back. She knows she shouldn't be wearing that.

Last week I gave a presentation to twenty small business owners on the subject of creating contrast for business. I went over my Bad Rules and led the following exercises, which I recommend printing and trying out on your own. Enjoy!

Notes from Sinek

start-with-why.jpg

Here are some essential takeaways from Simon Sinek's Start With Why, a book on business marketing and strategy that has deeply influenced my practice and philosophy.

  • To influence people's behavior, you can either manipulate or inspire.
  • WHY = the cause represented by the company, brand, product, or person; it's what inspires loyalty and it's what you should use to guide your decisions. "It’s not a debate about better or worse anymore, it’s a discussion about different needs. And before the discussion can even happen, the WHYs for each must be established first." (p. 49)
  • Humans crave the feeling of belonging, a sharing of beliefs and values. "The reason gut decisions feel right is because the part of the brain that controls them also controls our feelings." (p. 57)
  • Start with and focus on the 2.5% of the population that believes what you believe.
  • Innovative companies give their people something to work toward, not on. "If people do not trust that a company is organized to advance the WHY, then the passion is diluted. Without managed trust, people will show up to do their jobs and they will worry primarily about themselves." (p. 111)
  • Leader's job: ensure that team members believe what he/she believes and know how to build it. "Your role in the process is to be crystal clear about what purpose, cause, or belief you exist to champion, and to show how your products and services advance that cause." (p. 126)
  • Employees' job: clearly demonstrate the WHY to the world in what they say and do
  • The key to instilling trust and the perception of value in customers is to communicate WHY clearly through marketing, branding, products, and services
  • The hard part is to trust one's gut, stay true to one's purpose/cause/belief, and remain authentic/balanced, especially during periods of growth.

For more, I recommend watching Simon Sinek's TED talk on the subject. 

On Storytelling: The Importance of Reframing Reality

I came across a very TML-relevant article today on one of my favorite blogs, Brain Pickings. In it, Maria Popova discusses Phillipa Perry's book How to Stay Sane:

At the heart of Perry’s argument — in line with neurologist Oliver Sacks’s recent meditation on memory and how “narrative truth,” rather than “historical truth,” shapes our impression of the world — is the recognition that stories make us human and learning to reframe our interpretations of reality is key to our experience of life:
— Maria Popova

My latest client contacted me with an unusual, forward-thinking, and therefore especially welcome request: to write her story. Not for a website or a brochure or a stage introduction or a speech... Just for her. She wanted to clarify her story so that she could feel more focused and motivated while moving forward with her career as a motivational speaker. While I was somewhat thrown by the lack of guidelines, the end result, a pseudo-fantasy-editorial feature, really excited me and I found myself feeling more focused and motivated, too. This assignment was storytelling at its best: reframing reality to use for life experience purposes. And, as I network, meet new people, and describe my business, I find that most people don't understand the benefits of reframing reality. As Maria Popova and Phillipa Perry know, stories can be more powerful than facts, more lasting than memory, more real than actual life. That's exactly what excites me about this work. I hope to come across many more clients who are as open to the power of stories as my last.

how-to-stay-sane.jpg

Break the Rules: How to Help Your Business Stand Out

Today I gave a presentation at a Chicago Women Entrepreneur Network (CWEN) event. Here's the spiel I shared:

 The outfit I like to wear when giving presentations.

The outfit I like to wear when giving presentations.

I started The Magma Lab after I took an internship at a presentation design company. I learned that some businesses succeed more than others only because they are different--they stand out, people notice them, word spreads, and business grows. I guess it's pretty obvious. Think of Apple--iPhones and iPads weren't new technology, but Apple marketed them differently and it caught people's attention. You don’t even have to be great--just different. Think of Lady Gaga--she's not the most talented singer in the world; she's known because she's unusual.

With a business, though, how can you be different? It’s likely that you’re doing the same thing some other company is doing, offering the same product another company offers... Or maybe you do offer something unique, in which case you want to make sure your customers or investors understand that thing that sets you apart. If you want to get noticed, there’s something you should get comfortable with...

Breaking the rules. Part of the reason I love being a freelancer is that there’s no one getting angry at me for breaking the rules. That’s my job: to help you break the rules because breaking the rules helps you stand out. Innovation requires taking a look around for rules that you can intentionally break. That doesn't mean you need to break all the rules--just the bad ones.

Bad Rule #1: Look/sound/feel corporate. How are you supposed to stand out without showcasing your own voice or personality? How are going to get noticed if you hide the things that make you who you are? I help people communicate their stories and voice so that others notice and appreciate them for who they are. It's not very easy to capture your own voice, and sometimes we need help figuring out what really makes us different.

Bad Rule #2: Focus on your customers. What you offer shouldn’t be what everybody wants. It should be what some people want and it should be what you want to offer. If you want to stand out, be specific and focus on what matters to you. You should know why you’re doing what you’re doing; the right people for you will follow.

Bad Rule #3: Trust tradition. Tried and true will only get you so far. If humans evolve and change is inevitable, it’s time to let go of the status quo. Yes, change is hard. So is succeeding. Nothing amazing ever came from playing it safe.

If you are ready to break rules and want to learn what rules you should break, I invite you to come talk to me and grab one of my business cards. We can have fun breaking bad things together.

Lessons from My Quests: Level 1 Freelancer

 The original Guild Wars. Good times. #pyromancer

The original Guild Wars. Good times. #pyromancer

As a sometimes MMORPG gamer, I like to imagine my experience bar filling up as I complete projects and develop my skills. Here are some of the lessons I've learned thus far as a budding freelancer.

1. The fake it till you make it method works if you consciously fortify your confidence. As Henry Ford once said, "If you think you can or you think you can't, you're right." There are countless resources available (sometimes for free, like this one!) that can help you feel more confident in the skills you want to claim. After landing my first client and getting down to the work of presentation development (chartered territory, thankfully), I found myself doubting my abilities nearly every step of the way. How dumb did I sound on that call? Did I quote too low? Am I doing good work? Instead of asking questions that you cannot answer, ask only, "Is this something I want to do? Yes?" Then do it and read up on how to do it better until your work is awesome and you feel awesome.

2. Keep it simple. You can apply this clichéd philosophy to pretty much everything in life. In regards to business, keeping things "simple" (or simplified to their lowest common denominators) improves almost every situation: phone calls, emails, meetings, contracts, content, design, style, money, intent. Keep it simple, sister. 

3. It's okay when your customer disagrees with you. Although I think I know some things about writing and design (cue the Socratic paradox), sometimes customers aren't going to be on board with my opinion no matter what. Part of me feels compelled to insist on a particular recommendation that I know will serve them best. But my clients' perspectives will not always jive with mine, and that's okay. While I may not subscribe to "the customer is always right," I do subscribe to, "the customer deserves to be happy." When a client wants to do something that contradicts my sensibilities, I state my case and move on.

 This is Pepper, my cat who hates everyone except people who hate cats.

This is Pepper, my cat who hates everyone except people who hate cats.

4. Being yourself pays off. It's true that your personality can be a big part of what you offer, especially if you're going to be in constant communication with your clients. Being yourself will attract people more like you, and working with people more like you motivates you to be more productive, and therefore happy. I know it sounds fluffy, but authenticity is the best tool for building a solid reputation and doing good work. People can sense inauthenticity like cats can sense allergic friends; it's a good thing to get over whatever's keeping you from being yourself.

5. Say yes. Don't lose an opportunity to insecurity or fear. My first three freelance projects could have gotten away from me had I not been ready to embrace the unexpected. Client #1: a business veteran; I needed to exert my authority or risk weakening my credibility/my client's trust. Client #2: proposed I do a project that I had never done before. Client #3: had turned down my initial proposal, but then came back to me later. 

Soon I expect to have a lot more to share about networking experiences. Until then, I'll keep making my way to Level 2.


The Beginning

Begin, be bold, and venture to be wise.
— Horace

The inception of The Magma Lab took me by surprise. I was expecting to find a "real job" and work at a handful of "real companies" before trying to make it on my own. But then I kept hearing the same message, like it was stalking me: "You can do it... if you get out of your own way." Everyone starts somewhere; one only needs to be willing to show up. Alas, being a beginner can suck. I remember my high school and college freshman years... Eww.

To counteract the awkwardness, I will log the development of this business on this blog. I will share information, lessons, stories, and anything that could be of use to people interested in business, advertising, marketing, copywriting, and the like. As a woman entrepreneur, as a writer, as a curious learner, as a beginner, here's to showing up and sharing stories that aspire to be both educational and entertaining.

 

 'Ello 'Orace!

'Ello 'Orace!