Shop Talk: Keep Your Eyes on Your Own Paper

Comparison Trap

Welcome to Shop Talk! While we love providing you with jam-packed, actionable posts, we also wanted to share quick, thought-provoking snippets here and there — from our brains to yours.

The comparison trap is more than real as a solopreneur.

We spend a lot of time in our own heads, after all, and when that’s no longer enough, we start to look around.

We start to see other people’s “success” — and at first, it’s incredibly inspiring.

“If she can do it, I can do it!”

“Oh, that gives me a great idea for a blog post!”

“Ah, I never thought of it that way!”

Then, it starts to wear on us. Suddenly, we feel that our work isn’t looking so great. We’re doubting our ability to find our place in our niche. We find it hard to make progress on what we’re working on because we’re so busy taking a look at others’.

Now, of course, a healthy awareness of the industry is a good thing, solopreneur. Nothing productive happens in a 24/7 silo.

But there’s a big difference between competitive research and comparison. So, when you feel yourself falling down the endless spiral that is the comparison trap, it’s time to go back into your own little bubble and keep your eyes on your own paper.

Chris Brogan said it this way: “You can’t run a race looking sideways.”

Brené Brown made this eye-opening point in The Gifts of Imperfection: “It’s easy to see how difficult it is to make time for the important things such as creativity, gratitude, joy, and authenticity when we’re spending enormous amounts of energy conforming and competing.”

Need a shorter mantra to repeat next time you feel yourself slipping? Say this: Compare = despair. (h/t Coach Jennie)

There are a million more things we could say about this, but we’ll leave it here: Keep your eyes on your own paper, fellow solopreneur. That’s where the magic happens.

P.S. — The comparison trap is just one of the things that threatens your sanity as a solopreneur. We wrote the book on how to maintain that sanity. Just click the beautiful banner below to find out more.

Solopreneur Sanity Handbook

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Shop Talk: Different Tastes Make the World Go Round

Shop Talk snippets from One Woman Shop

Shop Talk snippets from One Woman Shop

Welcome to Shop Talk! While we love providing you with jam-packed, actionable posts, we also wanted to share quick, thought-provoking snippets here and there — from our brains to yours.

Back when I (Sara) was a starving grad student (okay, I wasn’t starving — but I was pretty broke), I took on a gig pouring wine for a Finger Lakes winery, bringing a selection of their wines to stores in my local area to taste. I would often share the feedback I got from customers with the winemaker, and was always hesitant to tell him when a wine didn’t go over well — though he could always tell by the amount that came back.

One day, he said this: “Different tastes make the world go round.” He went on to explain: “If everyone had the same palette, I wouldn’t be able to experiment with different grapes. If everyone liked the same wine, I wouldn’t have a place in this industry.”

Mind = blown. Here was a winemaker in what has quickly become a near-saturated industry in the Finger Lakes, welcoming competition and feeling entirely confident in his ability to find his place because he knew the one secret that we often forget: Different tastes make the world go round.

So, solopreneur, next time you’re wondering if you’re really the best person to be recording a podcast/writing that ebook/hosting that webinar, or when you’re entirely doubting your ability to stand out and are concerned with adding to “the noise,” remember this: Different tastes make the world go round.

Yes, there are thousands of copywriters in the world. Web designers? Yup. Business coaches? Better believe it. But whether you realize it or not, there are certain things about the way you do what you do that make you unique. Maybe it’s your snark, or lack thereof. Maybe it’s your straight-talk, or maybe it’s your woo.

Focus on what makes you different — because there’s someone out there whose palette is waiting for it. Cheers.

Shop Talk: A Technique to Get You Started in Pricing Products + Services

Shop Talk at One Woman Shop

One Woman Shop Shop Talk

Welcome to Shop Talk! While we love providing you with jam-packed, actionable posts, we also wanted to share quick, thought-provoking snippets here and there — from our brains to yours.

Figuring out how to price products and services comes up time and again within our community and with our coaching clients. There are a bunch of great strategies out there that take into account market demand, competitors’ prices, and more. But today, we’re talking about a strategy that takes into account your mindset — we call it “High/Low.”

Let’s say that you’re launching a 20-page workbook. If you were our coaching client, here’s what we would ask you:

“If we told you to charge $1 for your workbook, would you?” (Most of the time, they’ll say, “No way! It’s worth way more than that.”)

So we ask: “Okay, if we told you to charge $300 for your workbook, would you?” (Normally we’ll get an, “Um, no. I wouldn’t feel comfortable with that amount.”)

You now know that your workbook will be between $2 and $300. This doesn’t sound super helpful until you slowly hone in on both sides (hence the “high/low” moniker) to whittle down your ideal price to a realistic range.

The high/low exercise is meant to get you started. Now, let’s take it one step further. Perhaps you’ve gotten to a point where you know you will not charge less than $25, but you’re not comfortable charging more than $49. You can then use this range to conduct beta testing and surveying within your target market.

As you test it, you might get feedback that none of the prices in your range will work. In that case, it might be time to reassess — perhaps you need to reevaluate your target market, cut down what you’re offering (so you can lower your price without feeling like you’re giving away the farm), add more (so your potential purchasers see more value and are willing to pay more), or even rewrite your copy.

Pricing isn’t easy — but remember this: It doesn’t have to be set in stone. The high/low technique can get you started with a range you’re comfortable with, then we highly suggest you test and iterate from there.

Shop Talk: Build It and They Will Come (Or Will They?)

Shop Talk snippets from One Woman Shop

Shop Talk snippets from One Woman Shop

Welcome to Shop Talk! While we love providing you with jam-packed, actionable posts, we also wanted to share quick, thought-provoking snippets here and there — from our brains to yours.

We were recently chatting with a friend, discussing her new business website and how she would get people there. (Because that’s what solopreneurs love to chat about, of course.)

Naturally, the phrase “build it and they will come” popped up, so we got to talking about that myth. We talked about how many people still hold on to the idea that if they pop up a site, thousands of eager individuals will be knocking down their metaphorical door, wanting to come inside. As most of us have experienced, this just doesn’t happen.

We joked that, as a business owner, you’ve got to get out there, grab their hand, and invite them in. Bring them a cup of coffee, show them around, and make them feel comfortable.

But all jokes aside, it’s up to you to do just that. To continue the metaphor, think of it like this: You just moved into a new house but none of your neighbors saw you move in. So, they don’t know that you’re in there, waiting for them. What’s a savvy solopreneur to do? Make some delicious baked goods and go door-to-door introducing yourself!

How can you do this in your business?

  • Guest post on other sites — share your expertise or even mention a freebie that you offer through your site
  • Pitch yourself for podcasts or interview series
  • Email people you keep bumping into on Twitter chats or in comment threads

Make the end goal inviting them back to your place — your website, that is — so that they can get to know you even more. Share a freebie, mention a specific post you think they’d love, introduce them to your new product or service.

Or, as Carrie Smith of Careful Cents says: “Build it and they will come…if you promote, promote, promote.”

PS — We talk about all of these concepts (and more!) in the Building Your Online Community e-course.

Building Your Online Community

Shop Talk: Why Asking “Why” is Important

Shop Talk at One Woman Shop

One Woman Shop Shop Talk

Welcome to Shop Talk! While we love providing you with jam-packed, actionable posts, we also wanted to share quick, thought-provoking snippets here and there — from our brains to yours.

CR here. Often when I’m working in and on One Woman Shop, common threads and themes pop up repeatedly. One that’s come up in a few different ways lately has been the value of asking yourself and others “Why?”

I talked about it in this post on how to get back into action. Essentially, I explained how I use one question to get myself sorted out when I’m staring mindlessly at my to-do list. That question? “Why am I stalling?” Once I’ve figured out why I’m stalling, I can create action steps that address my reasons head-on.

Another time that asking “Why?” is valuable is when working with clients who are dragging their feet. Often, figuring out the reasons for the delay can enable you to creatively problem solve. For example, if you find out that a client is stalling because of your price tag, you can decide whether to offer a discount or just let it go. Likewise, if a client isn’t getting back to you because they’re waiting for deliverables from other people, you can help put together an action plan and timeline to help them get what they need.

Asking “Why?” isn’t just helpful in your business, you solopreneur you. You can use this strategy in your personal life as well. Let’s say that you feel resentful toward a friend and find yourself lashing out. Asking “Why?” can get you to the root of the issue — maybe you’ll realize that you’re acting out of jealousy, so you decide exactly what you’re jealous of, if you can achieve it, and if you even really want it.

In case you missed it, there’s three important elements of each example above. The first is to ask “Why?” (I think we’ve got that part down, right?). The second is to detail the answer, whether it be out loud or in your head. The third is to take action — we <3 taking action.

TL;DR: Asking “Why?” Is key to solving pretty much any problem. Really.

PS — Another question we (Sara + I) love to ask ourselves: “Is this helpful?”

Shop Talk: Just Start (Even If It’s Just for a Few Minutes)

Shop Talk snippets from One Woman Shop

Shop Talk snippets from One Woman Shop

Welcome to Shop Talk! While we love providing you with jam-packed, actionable posts, we also wanted to share quick, thought-provoking snippets here and there — from our brains to yours.

Often in life and in business, we’re so intimidated and overwhelmed by something that, instead of breaking it into actionable chunks, we give up altogether.

Learning a language? You’ll never be completely fluent, so why start?

Learning to code? There are too many programming languages out there and you’ll never be an “expert,” so why even bother?

Becoming a champion meditator? An hour, let alone a week, of silence sounds like hell, so why waste your time?

Feeling fit and comfortable in your body? You have too much weight to lose, so what difference will a few pounds make?

What if you were to start with a few minutes per day of French on Duolingo? Or one module from CodeAcademy each morning? Or the shortest Calm meditation each evening? (Hint: It’s two minutes.) Or an intense 15-minute HIIT workout from YouTube in the middle of your day to wake you up and burn some calories?

This isn’t all hypothetical — I (Cristina) have committed to doing about 10 minutes per day of French on Duolingo. I’ve gone from knowing about two phrases (like “J’aime Paris,” because of those shirts that everyone used to wear all of the time in middle school or “C’est la vie” because…B*Witched) to writing and speaking complete sentences and even having mini-epiphanies. (Pret a Manger, the restaurant chain? That means “ready to eat.” I know, my mind was blown too.) Meanwhile, Sara put off meditating for over a year because 20 minutes was way too scary. Committing to five minutes per day in the month of December has made it a regular part of her routine now.

The point? You can see very obvious improvements with a daily habit of just a few minutes.

Choose your “time of least resistance,” and get started. We cover this in The Solopreneur Sanity Handbook: It’s the amount of time that you feel able to commit to following through on without much resistance. It’s not a shortcut; it’s a firestarter. Think to yourself: Am I willing to work on this blog post for 15 minutes? If that feels like too much but 10 minutes seems doable, you’ve got your time of least resistance. If 45 minutes at the gym feels completely overwhelming, ask yourself if 35 minutes seems more manageable. Yes? Do that.

And if your time of least resistance is 30 seconds (say, enough for one new word per day)? Bam — start there.

Shop Talk: Job Titles

Welcome to Shop Talk, where we chat about everything from the business processes and procedures you swear by to how you handle tough situations (like letting go of a client) to what gets you up on Monday morning. Give us a sneak peek into your business and let yourself inspire (and be inspired by!) our community.

When going into business for yourself, one of the challenges is determining your job title. How do you sound authoritative without coming across as pretentious? Will it be Managing Director? Principal? Founder? Owner? Or maybe something less traditional- Head Social Ninja, The Big Cheese, or La Jefe? Or maybe it doesn’t even matter at all (as Courtney points out below).

We asked members of the One Woman Shop community to weigh in on what they call themselves in their solo business. Here’s what they said:

As a solopreneur, it is critical for you to change your LinkedIn headline! Many people don’t realize that LinkedIn automatically populates your headline with your current title. Go in and edit that to make you stand out! For example, if you are an owner of an SEO company and use “Owner / SEO Consultant” as your title when filling out your LinkedIn profile, LinkedIn will automatically populate “Owner / SEO Consultant” in your headline. Go in and edit it to something like “Small Business SEO Expert”. That makes you stand out!

-Amy Schofield, Schofield Strategies

Mine says: The Jaclyn Of All Trades.

Jaclyn Mullen

I refer to myself as a Copywriter & Brand Strategist. In conversation, I usually follow that up with ‘That means I help businesses understand what their brand is all about, and turn it into messaging that attracts their favorite clients.’

Amy Chick

As a copywriter, almost every client of mine is perplexed over finding the perfect job title. My advice? No one cares.I don’t have business cards (I strictly refer people to my Facebook page) and I call myself whatever makes sense to the audience I’m speaking to. For example, when talking to online entrepreneurs, I call myself a copywriter. When talking to “normal” people, I say I’m in Marketing and Communications for small businesses because very few people outside of Mad Men fans and online entrepreneurs know what a copywriter is. What you call yourself simply isn’t as important as everyone makes it out to be (which is the same way I feel about logos). The important thing is that your title gets the point across. I prefer people pick clear titles instead of trying to be too creative or clever!

-Courtney Johnston, The Rule Breakers Club

My title has changed a few times over the last 3 years. First it was Owner/Principal, then it was Founder + Principal Strategist … but those seemed a little too stuffy for for my personality and style. So now it’s Brand Strategist + Storyteller. Still a little conservative but also a bit whimsical.

RM Harrison

I have it easy with job titles since what I do is pretty straightforward. I used to just stick with “editor,” but now I’m starting to add “writing coach” to the list, too.

-Ashley Brooks, Brooks Editorial

Several others responded to our question and said that they called themselves Chairman, President, and Proprietor, respectively.

What job title have you given yourself?

Shop Talk: The Comparison Trap

Welcome to Shop Talk, where we chat about everything from the business processes and procedures you swear by to how you handle tough situations (like letting go of a client) to what gets you up on Monday morning. Give us a sneak peek into your business and let yourself inspire (and be inspired by!) our community.

The other day, we were browsing through Feedly and ended up spending some time on one site in particular. We started out feeling inspired by the content and the community, but it quickly spiraled into a full-blown case of the comparison trap. Why is their design so sleek? Why is their community more active? Why is their writing so perfect? Why is everyone raving about their e-course more than ours? 

Our sad episode of jealousy led us to wonder how others deal with feelings of comparison in business. We shot out a tweet and got some interesting responses:

Now, don’t get us wrong: we actually think there are some very valuable things we can get out of our jealous tendencies- such as figuring out what we want in life and in business and providing us with motivation to move forward- but we want to know:

How do you handle jealousy when it starts to affect you negatively?

Shop Talk: Productivity

Welcome to Shop Talk, where we chat about everything from the business processes and procedures you swear by to how you handle tough situations (like letting go of a client) to what gets you up on Monday morning. Give us a sneak peek into your business and let yourself inspire (and be inspired by!) our community.

We’ve all had those days- you wake up, grab your morning coffee, open your computer…and just can’t seem to be productive, no matter how hard you try. We want to know- do you push through and force yourself to work or shut down your laptop and take the day off?

Shop Talk: Expansion

Welcome to Shop Talk, where we chat about everything from the business processes and procedures you swear by to how you handle tough situations (like letting go of a client) to what gets you up on Monday morning. Give us a sneak peek into your business and let yourself inspire (and be inspired by!) our community.

Some freelancers and solopreneurs start their businesses with the end goal of expanding and managing a team. Others thrive on their own and plan to keep it that way. So, are you happy on your own or are you headed toward expansion? Do you aspire to manage contractors and employees or are you content to be a one woman shop forever?

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