How to Take the Summers Off

One of the questions I get asked the most is how I take the summers off, so I thought I’d answer that a bit for you in this post.

The purpose of this content is about much more than just taking the summer off – or any extended holiday – it’s to help you get really clear on your plan for the next 6-12 months and beyond, what it’s going to be all about for you, both from a pragmatic view as well as from a big picture view.

You likely know that I take 12 weeks off (half of June, and all of July and August) as vacation to spend it with my family at the lake where I spent my summers growing up.

When I first decided that I wanted to be off for the entire summer, I had to figure out how to make that work and still run and grow my business.

So in the beginning, it was a very slightly working vacation, maybe 10% of the time. So the first time I did this, I did certain things to prepare for it:

1. I decided on what main projects I was going to focus on, two in total.

2. I decided what my VA would focus on, all the admin details that I didn’t want to be troubled with, but that I had a hard time letting go of beforehand.

3. I went through all my files and only brought those with me that I had to have to work on those 2 main projects. (As a back-up, I used a remote access program in case I had to get something on my desktop).

4. I clean up my laptop and rigged it for wireless.

5. I let my clients and customers know (more than once) that I was on vacation, that I would respond to emails but that it might take a little longer than usual, but that I was also living this model.

Those were basically the things I did to get ready.

What happened?

Much to my surprise, because I think I was so busy-busy all the time that I wasn’t moving forward very quickly with anything and spent a lot of time putting out fires, I was actually MORE productive – and MORE profitable – during those summer weeks than I had been the previous 6 months working from my home office.

So what was different?

1. I chose two main projects to focus on that only I could do (writing my book and my membership program) and either let the rest go (absolutely nothing negative happened as a result) or delegated it.

So I was really focused on my ‘genius’ work, which is what will always bring your more money sooner than focusing on fixing your website or other admin tasks you shouldn’t be doing.

2. I had scheduled work time. This was a biggee for me. At home, I worked when the kids slept (naptime or nighttime) and then all kinds of in-between time when they were playing by themselves or when Daddy was taking care of them.

During those early summers of implementing this model, I only worked a total of about 2 hours a day, between pre-wake-up time and post-bedtime, 3-4 days a week. I get up at 5:30am and work for an hour or so before the kids get up, but that’s also my time to sit on the dock,watch the loons and write in my journal, and drink my coffee while it’s still hot.

When I worked it was only on those one or two projects, and answering emails that were a priority, like those from Platinum clients. Anything else I did was a bonus. I wasn’t stressed at all, and when I was with kids, I was completely focused on them, not on the business.

Since then, I’ve restructured my business so that I don’t offer anything ‘live’ with me while I’m off for the summer, my coaching and training programs end around Memorial Day weekend, and the only work I do over the summer is write the personal note in my ezine each week. Almost everything else is done and queued up before Memorial Day or is delegated to my team to take care of while I’m off.

There’s quote a bit more to it than this, of course, but if you’re seeking to take more time off, whatever time of year it is and for whatever reason, this should get you thinking about the first steps to take so you can do it too.

I’d love to hear your thoughts on this – comment below or share in our Facebook group here

5 Simple Steps to Creating a Fresh Compelling Opt-in

Is your main free content opt-in in need of a refresh or replacement?

Yup, mine too!

So while I’ve been working on mine, I thought I’d share the process to help you too. 🙂

Here are 5 simple steps to creating a fresh and compelling opt-in.

Step 1. Choose it

Before you create a new free content opt-in, be sure it’s something your audience wants. If you don’t know what that is, just ask them.

– Ask them

Ask your prospects a simple, open-ended question, like “What’s your biggest challenge with building your business online?” or “What’s the one thing you’d like to learn more about that relates to balancing your work and family life?”

Tailor the question to your area of expertise and use the answers you get to help spark ideas for your new freebie.

– Do a simple survey that asks 1-10 questions using a survey tool like Survey Monkey.

This allows you to ask more specific questions to elicit more specific responses – very cool!

Tip: To entice people to share their thoughts with you, offer them a free gift for answering your question or taking your survey. It’s also a nice way to say thank you for their time.

Put this question to your market:

– periodically in your email communications
– ask them on social media
– as an autoresponder when they sign up for your freebie

Remember, your market will tell you what it wants, if you’ll just ask them. 😉

Step 2: Write it

Once you know the topic of your freebie based on your research, it’s time to write it.

(Even if you’re filming a video, you’ll still need some form of written content to to help your viewers consumer your content – plus it doubles as your script).

I find the easiest way to create new content is to write an outline first, and then fill it in.

How about a simple outline to follow?

– Title (make this benefit-oriented)
– Intro paragraph (3-5 sentences; describe the problem and why your reader needs to solve it)
– 3-10 info bullets (your solution to the problem broken down)
– Closing paragraph (3-5 sentence summary)
– Call-to-Action (what should they do next? Tell them here)

Remember to keep it short so your reader actually consumes your content.

Step 3. Design it

Once you’re done writing your content, decide how to package it for your subscriber.

Here’s some of the most simple and highest-converting options:

Checklist
Cheat Sheet
Short Guide
One-Page Blueprint
MP3
Infographic

If design is not your forte, use Canva, Designsta, or Fiverr.

Step 4. Deliver it

Once your freebie is ready to be released, create a thank you page on your website and then upload your freebie to that page on your website, like this –> http://aliciaforest.com/thank-you/

If you’re creating a stand-alone opt-in page, I highly recommend (and use for all my opt-ins) Leadpages.

Step 5. Promote it

Yay! You’ve done the hard work, so now it’s just a matter of letting your market know your fresh and compelling opt-in is available.

The first thing I like to do is send it to my existing list (it’s a surprise bonus to them for already being on my list) and share it in my paid program groups. I’ll ask them to share the opt-in page with their circles as well.

Then we set up an automated system for sending the URL to the opt-in page on a consistent basis so we can consistently build my list.

That might look something like this:

– 1 Tweet per day
– 1 Facebook Page post per week
– 1 Free Facebook Group post per week (my group)
– 1 LinkedIn post per week
– 1 Google+ post per week
– 1 Instagram post per week
– Facebook Groups I belong to made up of my market posts as allowed

There you have it… 5 simple steps to creating a fresh compelling opt-in!

When yours is ready, I’d love to see it. Feel free to share it in the comments below… 🙂

If this was helpful, I’d love it if you’d share it using the buttons below – thanks so much!

Get my personal List-Building System, Ignite Your List for 1/2 off here

What to do when you’re in the Mediocre Middle (4 steps to marketing your way out)

During a recent conversation with my husband James about business and life, this phrase dropped into my mind: Mediocre Middle

What’s the Mediocre Middle?

At my live event, I talk about the Comfortable Minimum (which I’ll write about in a future post).

Mediocre Middle struck me as a place where it’s not comfortable but it’s sustainable with very little effort.

It’s not extraordinary, but ordinary.

It’s vanilla versus wild berry walnut with salted caramel drizzle.

In Latin, mediocris is a compound of the adjective medius, “half” or “in the middle,” and ocris, “rugged mountain.”

Something that is mediocre is only midway up a mountain or rises up to only half a mountain’s height—the thing goes just halfway to the highest point of excellence.

When we don’t have a high level of enthusiasm for what we do, or we lose our enthusiasm for our business, we get stuck at or start sliding down into the Mediocre Middle.

And, my friend, it’s a slippery, slippery slope.

If this is resonating, here’s your 4-step protocol for getting out of the Mediocre Middle.

Step 1: Identify what’s going on in your business that you don’t absolutely love or enjoy

In the spirit of Marie Kondo’s decluttering advice, first, make a list of all the offers and income streams and activities, etc. you do in your business.

For each one, ask yourself if it sparks joy, and if it doesn’t, thank it for its service and delete or delegate it immediately.

For example, if running your online course no longer brings you joy, it’s time to let it go and make space for something that does.

Or if populating your social media platforms with content doesn’t float your boat, delegate it to a capable assistant.

Step 2: Organize and prioritize what remains

What’s left should only be the things you truly enjoy offering, leading or doing.

Organize and prioritize them into your newly-opened space, both physically in your office, on your computer, and on your calendar.

Just a note here: Ideally, there should be no ‘sometimes’ or ‘maybes’ on this list. If your business is in transition from one business model to another, there may be some ‘not yet’ items on your list to let go of, so for those, commit to an exit plan and a date when you plan to be done with them for sure.

Step 3: Realign your marketing message

Now that you’ve pruned your business, it’s time to take a close look at your marketing message and make sure that it still aligns with what you offer to the world and to whom you offer it to.

Part of being in the Mediocre Middle is having a marketing message that’s only ‘half-way up the mountain’.

Make your message more succinct, more impactful and more specific to your market, and then refresh or create a new opt-in to further lift you to the summit.

Step 4: Take a stand and share it often

One of the fastest ways to move from the ordinary to the extraordinary is to take a stand for your message and your market and to speak publicly often about it.

You don’t need to shout it from the rooftops. Even quiet stands can have great impact. The point is to have one.

Ask yourself: What do you believe it? What are your values? What do you know to be true? What would you go to the mat defending? What’s your philosophy as it pertains to your business, your life, even your purpose on this planet?

Once you answer those questions for yourself, start sharing more about your answers with your market.

What will happen is that more of your perfect people will start finding and connecting with you, and your audience will grow much more easily.

Truth-telling time: Are you in the Mediocre Middle?

If you are, what are you willing to do to move out of mediocrity today?

What to do when you’re not moving forward (3 tips)

I’m generally a quick decision-maker and fast implementor.

But something James said to me recently really struck me. And reminded me instantly of the Rule of 3* (at least my interpretation of it).

He was good-naturedly teasing me about my tendency to procrastinate.

As soon as he said that, my first thought was about launching the Lively Biz Business Club. Or more accurately, my lack of launching it.

It’s 90% ready to go. What needs to be completed before opening the doors is easy and can be done within a couple of days.

So… why haven’t I opened it yet?

I lamented about this to my mastermind group. They reminded me that I’m still grieving. I showed the sales page and membership site to a private client as an example for her own, and she told me with certainty that I was going to open it in the fall. When I talked to James about it, he said, “It’s hard to put your heart into something when your heart’s breaking.”

Oy.

And in that moment, I knew what I needed to do. I need more time and space to heal. I need more time and space to be fully present for this program. I need the summer, I need the lake, I need to breathe in so I can breathe out come the fall.

So I’m honoring that, knowing that it is the best decision, for me and for you. What a release that is.

Here are three things that helped me get from feeling off about launching this new program to feeling really excited and good about it again:

1. Trust that things are unfolding as they’re meant to

I know that when I don’t move forward with something, there’s a reason. I don’t usually know the reason at the time, but I do trust that there is a reason that in some way is supporting my best and highest good.

That doesn’t mean it’s easy to sit in that place of unknowing. When it’s really hard, I have to remind myself of all the other times I’ve been in limbo and how it always works out. Always.

2. *Listen to the whispers

I trust my own intuition AND I tend to pay far more attention when the “whispers” show up in 3’s. When my mastermind group offered insight on giving myself more time and space, I listened. When my private client said to wait until the fall, I listened. When James understood my heart and expressed it so succinctly, I listened. And then I made a new plan.

3. Make a new plan

Once I decided that I wasn’t going to launch the membership before the summer, that cleared my mind and my desk so I could figure out what I was going to do instead, which took about 10 minutes. That alone affirmed this was the right decision.

Where in your business (or your life) are you not moving forward? Are you open to hearing the whispers to guide you to making a different decision?

 

How To Wipe Out Overwhelm

How often do you find yourself in this scenario?

It’s Monday morning and you’re all geared up for a productive week ahead. You’ve got your to-do list (massive as it is) at the ready and you sit down at your desk to start checking things off.

As you begin to read down your list, you start to feel something in your gut. It’s not a physical pain necessarily, just a feeling of something heavy starting to grow. You ignore it and continue reading your list, making stars next to the things that seem to be the most important to get done that day.

But the more you do this, the heavier that feeling gets, until it starts creeping up to your shoulders and finally settles in your head. All that enthusiasm you had when you first sat down is gone and the only thing you feel now is utter and complete overwhelm.

Sound familiar? I’ve been there, too, so I understand.

And it’s not that all the tasks on your list aren’t wonderful and/or doable. There are simply too many of them – and they all seem important right now – to expect that you can accomplish them all in the hours you have to work in any single day.

So what happens? You do a little of this, a little of that, and you really never complete a single project!

But you don’t have to let another week pass without really accomplishing anything. Simply create a Priority Card.

A Priority Card will help you organize all your tasks in a way that will SHOW you every day what you should focus on.

There are a lot of details that will threaten to take your mind off your priorities (this is where a virtual assistant can be of immense value), but those details are not necessarily what will move you forward in your business. To do that, you need to consistently focus on completing the projects that will move your business ahead big-time.

You can create a system for helping you focus on your priorities in a number of ways, but I’m going to give you mine. I only work about 15 hours a week on my business, so adjust your own plan accordingly.

At the beginning of each week, I choose 3 projects with looming deadlines (self-imposed as they may be) from my master task list (which really is so massive that it has its own notebook).

For example, at the moment, I am working on a sales page, content for a program, and a new offer.

On a colored index card, I write down those projects and prop the card in a standing clip holder, right in front of my computer screen. When I start to feel that sense of overwhelm, or when I find myself getting distracted by new ideas or other tasks (all of which seem important), I remind myself to look at my Priority Card and focus only on what’s written there.

Once I started using my Priority Card, my own business growth leapt forward ten times faster than when I was doing a little of this and a little of that, working on a dozen things, but taking much too long to actually complete just one project.

Know you won’t be able to stick to this process 100% of the time, but even 80% will help you make dramatic strides in your business growth. You’ll actually finish the projects you set out to do, and you’ll not only feel great about doing so, you’ll be inspired to do it again, and again, and again. Once you make this shift, you’ve learned the secret to wiping out overwhelm for yourself and your business!

Want to know more of my best tips for beating overwhelm and simplifying everything in your business so it’s less stressful and much more fun?

Be sure to check out my Lively Biz Business Club – get on the wait list here.

Where Are You Missing Leverage in Your Business? (Part 1)

If you’re a woman entrepreneur who’s building a leveraged online business so you can keep your family first, this is for you.

As the same, I’m always looking for ways to leverage what’s already working in my business to improve my results so I can grow my business more quickly without more effort.

Where in your business could you do the same? Take this mini-assessment to find out.

__ 1. Do you know your priorities?

You need to know the highest-payoff activities to focus on in your business before you can fully leverage them for a far greater result.

If you often feel scattered, and that you’re too often flying by the seat of your pants, and you would LOVE to have a much more streamlined and simplified process for creating flow in your business on every level, it starts with knowing and focusing only on what matters.

What’s your #1 highest-payoff activity in your business today?


__ 2. Are your sales lacking?

If you’re not making as many sales as you want, there’s likely some missing pieces in your sales flow. I’m sure you know that just putting something out there online does not equal a successful offer. There are several critical pieces you need to have in place first, and then a strategy to convert from offer to sale.

What is the #1 missing piece in your sales process today?


__ 3. Do you abandon your current clients/customers?

It is far easier to sell something to someone who has already bought from you, and yet this is one of the most common places where entrepreneurs leave money on the table.

What is the natural next step you could offer to your current clients/customers?


__ 4. Do you leave your prospects hanging?

70% of your sales are in the follow-up. Don’t leave your potential clients and customers hanging just because your offer went live. Keep touching base with them, making sure they don’t feel abandoned, that you truly do want to help them.

Where in your current or next offer could you add a follow-up process?


__ 5. Do you have an “easy yes” offer?

Do you have a way to work with your market that’s an easy yes for them? I’m not talking about private work at your highest level. I’m talking about being able to experience your work in a way that leverages your time yet supports your client as well?

What simple product or program could you create that walks your client through your process in a do-it-yourself way?

These are just 5 areas to be looking at where you could up the ante on what you already have in place in your business – or what you should have in place to create the success you desire. We’ll cover 5 more in Part 2, but in the meantime, spend some time figuring out for yourself where you can apply the above to start seeing better results for less effort.

If you want my help in answering these questions with you, be sure to get on the wait list for the brand-new Lively Biz Business Club that’s opening soon!

 

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