My content marketing business is in a rapid state of growth. I’ve taken on several new clients, doubled my workload, and seen every blog and social-media metric surge beyond my goals. I’m recently married and had my first child six months ago, plus I’m forging new personal and professional relationships in my hometown where I returned three years ago after a 12-year absence.
Basically, my life is on a pretty kick-ass trajectory and I feel darn optimistic about the future.
I couldn’t say the same thing, however, six years ago or even two years ago. That’s because at each of those points, I experienced crippling grief from which I thought I might never recover.
Losing a sibling
The first and most shocking setback of my life came nearly six years ago, on July 4, 2010. That morning, my dad called to tell me he had some “upsetting news.” My younger brother had died a few hours earlier from a heroin overdose. (“Upsetting” was understating things a bit.)
I’ll never forget a moment of that day, which played out like a blur of frantic activity around me as my own brain seemed to move in slow motion.
Driving around until I could find someone to comfort me (a friend’s mom finally answered her door). Falling to my knees in a pile of tears as I said the words aloud for the first time. Waiting while my friends packed my bags and asked me to pick a funeral outfit. Seeing the world whiz by while my friend drove me six hours to my hometown. Hugging my mom and feeling her immeasurable pain. Hearing the gut-wrenching wail of a 10-year-old girl learning her daddy was dead. Then hearing my mom say she had no reason left to live (um, what about me?!).
At the time, I was 35 and my freelance writing business was five years old. I had recently hit a professional slump due to the changing economic landscape (I was doing mostly magazine writing at that time and magazines were a dying breed). In the months and years following my brother’s death, however, things went from bad to worse.
I stopped looking for new assignments and began missing deadlines for what little work I still had. I didn’t even bother to tell many of my editors why, burning every bridge imaginable. I was simultaneously going through a divorce (I suffered death, divorce, and losing my home all in less than a year) and began making really self-destructive decisions about men. I was drinking too much, sleeping too little, and burning through my savings account with reckless abandon.
Two months after my brother’s death, I was out of money and took a sales job that was absolutely not a fit for my skills nor in line with my passions. It paid the rent until I found another gig as an office manager that, again, made no sense for my career path.
I still did some freelance work, but treated it like a hobby at best, not a serious business.
After two years of acting out and scraping by, I finally reached my breaking point. I realized something had to change, so I packed up my belongings and moved back home with my mom — a humbling experience for a 37-year-old woman.
For the next year, I spent time writing about my grief, exploring a healthy relationship, and repairing the bridges I’d burned with former clients. By 2015, I had found love, moved out of my mom’s house, and started making a living wage as a business owner.
It took a long time to claw my way out of the nearly bottomless pit of grief, but I finally found my way back to the sun and felt so good about life that I was ready to create a new life. We decided to have a baby.
In March of 2015, we learned I was pregnant. On Mother’s Day, we excitedly told our families the amazing news. Two days later, during a routine visit to my OB/GYN, I learned the baby no longer had a heartbeat.
The entire episode lasted 10 weeks, but the loss was no less real. Once again, my grief sent me spiraling. Facing hefty medical bills from the experience, I panicked and took a full-time editorial job. It was a better match than my previous attempts at day jobs, but I knew in my gut I was meant to be my own boss.
This time, I quickly decided not to let grief consume my life. I allowed myself to cry when I needed to, and reached out to friends and family for emotional support. I was honest with the freelance clients I still had and asked for extended deadlines. I started a weekly mastermind group and got serious about building my business so I could quit the full-time job.
Four months after starting, I gave notice at the 9-to-5 gig and focused all my efforts on growing my content marketing company. I clarified my marketing message, rebuilt my website, and bumped up my social media presence.
Now, one year later, I’ve never been busier or more profitable. Oh, and I got pregnant again and had my baby boy last May!
What I learned from surviving and thriving after loss
Death and loss affects everyone at some point. Grief feels exceptionally lonely, but it’s actually our most common bond. Whatever you’re experiencing, take some comfort in knowing someone else has already gone through it. You’re not alone.
Seek out a community. Whether it’s friends or an organized support group, seek out a group you can talk about your situation with and find those who can be truly empathetic. Sharing with others who’ve had miscarriages, and later writing a blog about my experience, helped me get through this experience in a faster and healthier manner than after my brother’s death.
Allow yourself to feel your pain. Take the time — however much you need — to experience the very real feelings of grief. Running away from the emotions only delays the inevitable.
Treat yourself with grace. During our darkest hours, it’s likely we will make some mistakes, drop some balls, and say some stupid things. Forgive yourself for these moments.
Be vulnerable. When you do fall down and upset or disappoint a client or friend, be honest and tell them why. You may be surprised by the outpouring of love and understanding you receive.
Ask for help. It’s okay to admit you are overwhelmed with your situation. You may need to ask your friends and family for emotional (and even financial) support. This doesn’t make you a failure. It makes you human. Be grateful you have people in your life who love you and thank them for helping.
My hope is that everyone will have a perfect 2017. Unfortunately, the reality is many of us will suffer a loss or otherwise experience grief in the coming year. While we can’t control what happens to us, we can be responsible for how we respond. If you fall on tough times, I hope my tips will help ease the pain, even if only a bit. And if you need support or advice, my (email) door is always open.
It happens to the best of us. We’re going through our day, when a great idea for a blog post pops into our head. And that’s when we tell ourselves the biggest fib of our blogging careers…“I’ll remember that later.”
Ladies, don’t do it.
Write down all of your magical ideas in a notebook as soon as you think of them, whether it’s a physical notebook, a bullet journal, or something digital like Evernote.
Even better than getting them in a notebook? Putting them down directly in your editorial calendar. When you assign a date for your idea (even if you change it later), it suddenly takes on a whole new level of importance. It becomes less of a scrawled thought, and more like you’re writing an article for your very own magazine.
But what to use for an editorial calendar? Like anything else in life, this is a super personal decision. Ask a dozen bloggers, and you could get a dozen answers…it’ll vary by personality, work style, and a million other variables. But just to kickstart your thoughts, I’ll go over some of the ones I’ve tried:
1. Simple notebook
I’ve done this by just assigning a notebook page for each month, and writing 1, 2, 3, 4…or however many posts I wanted to do that month. You can use fun notebooks from makers like Erin Condren and May Designs, or hit up the $1 section at your local office supply store to get a basic pad.
2. Post-It calendar
You can buy this from several places, but I picked mine up at Target. There are a few limitations: each page is only for a week, and there are less than 52 pages, but it’ll get you a decent way. And because each page is for a week, the squares are a great size for writing in. Plus, you can easily rearrange the Post-It notes.
3. Door full of Post-Its
Speaking of easy rearranging, in the early brainstorming phases, I have been known to paper the back of my door with all of my ideas on Post-Its. I’m a visual person, so it makes it easy to look at all of my ideas in just a few moments, and figure out which one is really grabbing me.
I know I’m on a Post-It kick, but really this works quite well with the smaller Post-Its. You can scribble down an idea, slap it on the calendar and rearrange it to suit your needs. It makes it easy to to figure out where your posts need to fit in coordination with holidays, launches, and other major events in your business.
5. WordPress plugin
Tada! This one has nothing to do with Post-Its at all. And, it’s digital! There’s a WordPress plugin that’s simply called “Editorial Calendar.” It lets you create draft posts and schedule them out, so you can see what you’ve got coming up that you’ve finished writing, or still need to work on. They even set it up to enable you to drag and drop the posts, so if you realize that something is trending, or you accept an interview, you can easily reschedule one of your upcoming posts by scooting it to a different date. Cool, huh?
Of course these aren’t the only options, and some people use a combination of these and/or other methods. But with a plethora of easy options, there’s no excuse for not getting started.
Tell us: What’s your favorite way of organizing your editorial calendar?
It’s probably no surprise that we <3 us some BluChic WordPress themes — it’s also probably no surprise that we always use the words chic, sleek, and feminine to describe them (it’s a running joke here at OWS HQ). Hey, if it ain’t broke…
Our BluChic love affair continues with their newest chic, sleek, and feminine WordPress theme — Quinn. According to BluChic, it’s perfect for creativepreneurs — which is probably you, if you’re hanging out here on One Woman Shop.
A few of our favorite features:
Responsive design (like the rest of their themes)
Customizable color scheme
Full width slideshow
3 promo boxes for pages or call to actions
Newsletter sign-up form on footer with custom styling for MailChimp
Disclosure: We are part of BluChic’s affiliate program and will receive a commission on sales bought through the links above. However, we are huge fans of BluChic and use their products all the time (including on this site), so all opinions are our own!
The best place to start is with a great WordPress theme. But with so many options, it can be hard to know where to even begin. We can help with that! A few questions we keep in mind while selecting a theme:
Is this mobile responsive? Having a website that looks great on a phone or tablet is more important than ever as many people use their mobile devices to browse the internet. A theme that is mobile responsive resizes images and reformats menus to fit the mobile screen.
Does this have theme have the right look and feel? While you can change a lot about a theme with code, it’s best to start with one that is close to what you’d like to end up with anyway. Even if you change all of the colors and upload a custom header, making sure the theme is easy to navigate and makes sense with the feel of your brand will save you time (and money, if you’ve got someone helping you get it setup).
Does this allow me to do everything I want to do? This will vary from blog to blog, but if you’ll want to sell products, you’ll need a theme that is e-commerce ready. If you enjoy using certain widgets or plug-ins, you’ll want to make sure your new theme supports them. Do your homework!
If your blog or business is going for a chic and feminine look and you want a theme that boasts great features, well, we’ve got you covered with some free (that’s right — free!) themes that might just do the trick.
This is a version of AngieMakes’ premium Mary Kate theme with a clean design and tons of options to customize. If you’re looking for a theme with a sweet, feminine look that’s still a solid design, this one does the job.
Our favorite features:
Mobile responsive design
Plugin integration with popular plugins such as Pinterest RSS
This is a simple and feminine theme created by Restored 316 Designs. Note: Because it is a child theme for the Genesis framework, you will need to own or purchase the Genesis framework before installing it. This theme is a nice choice for new bloggers who might get overwhelmed with an overly-complicated setup or too many options but still want a professional-looking site.
This theme is modern and clean with refined styling created by BluChic. It’s more of a place-holder or a “squeeze page” than full website — we used it to collect emails before our launch of One Woman Shop! This helps keep your followers up-to-date on upcoming projects while also gathering email addresses so you can keep in touch. It’s got a fun “progress bar” that you can update as you reach milestones in your latest venture.
This theme, also by BluChic, is great for women bloggers and business owners who like chic and modern designs. This theme lets you add a custom header, so it’s perfect for a blogger who wants a more personalized look but doesn’t like too many bells and whistles.
This is an attractively minimalistic theme — yet again from BluChic. It is a great one for bloggers as it isn’t filled with overwhelming amounts of choice but still allows for customization and personalization.
This is a great theme from Pretty Darn Cute Designs for the woman-owned business. It actually comes e-commerce ready! It is currently free or “name your price,” though we’re not sure for how long. This is another child theme for the Genesis framework, so you will need to own or purchase this before you’ll be able to install.
Our favorite features:
Widget on home page
Ad widget above single posts
E-commerce ready using WooCommerce
Custom header uploader
Mobile responsive design
We hope one of these themes will work for your next project. What features do you look for in a theme? Which one would you choose? Let us know in the comments!
For many One Woman Shops, we are our business, making personal branding a must-do. A strong personal brand creates recognition, trust, and loyalty among our readers, community members, and buyers.
Yet despite hearing “personal branding” over and over again, many of us struggle to understand how to get started in building our personal brand, how to apply that brand to various facets of our business, and how it can ultimately impact our business’ success.
That’s why, this Wednesday, 10/29 at 8:30pm EST, One Woman Shop is chatting with personal branding expert and #GetGutsy leader Jessica Lawlor about how to successfully brand yourself with One Woman Shop members in a members-only Google Hangout.
Jessica is a successful One Woman Shop herself, side-hustling as a freelance writer and running her personal blog and community at JessicaLawlor.com. What’s even more impressive is that she manages it all while making waves at her 9-5 job in travel & tourism.
In a one-hour video chat (with Q&A!), Jessica will educate One Woman Shoppers on the following:
Her top tips for personal branding
How personal branding will set you apart from the crowd
How to apply your personal brand to your blog, social media, and other pieces of your business
Where it’s imperative for your personal brand to shine through
One Woman Shop community: want in on this free hangout and other fantastic resources to support you in solopreneurship? Check out our membership offerings now — and if you want to become an expert on personal branding with Jess, don’t delay! The Hangout is just TWO days away!
Welcome to One Woman Shop Weekly Finds – where we members of the community scour the web to bring you a curated list of posts, links, and resources that we they think will help your business—and maybe even your life! This week’s curator: copywriter and social marketer Colleen E. Mayer.
For better or worse, the lines of personal and professional have long since blurred. The Muse has become my favorite stop for both work- and life-related advice. Recent favorite read? How to Recover From an Epic Email Fail. (It’s happened to the best of us!)
Let’s be honest: space in our inbox is valuable. I don’t sign up for regular newsletters often, but when I do, oh baby you can bet it is a good one. (Hello, One Woman Shop!) I follow news from DailyWorth every.single.day. and recently came across this gem featuring 8 Surprising Things You Can Get For Free. Excuse me while I plan what to do with all of the money I’ll be saving.
How closely were you following the #Under30Summit? This quick read sums up one output from the summit: everyone is now a content creator, but at what cost?
If you’re anything like me, you’ve dabbled with dozens of different apps that claim to make your business run smoother. I’m practically giddy over the idea of a simple, stylish app that’s actually functional, and I can actually swear by several on this list: 10 apps every entrepreneur needs.
Want to build up your social presence in advance of launching a campaign? First, make sure you’re everywhere you need to be. This post from Business Insider reveals the top demographics of social sites.
If you’re thinking about making the transition into solopreneurship, if you’re an experienced entrepreneur, or if you’re simply a living, breathing human being, read this genius post from Lifehack.
As solopreneurs, we’re constantly on the lookout for ways to keep business booming. But a simple downside of solopreneurship is just that: you’re solo. And while you might think of yourself as Superwoman, in reality, you can’t do it all. So if you could create one product that would actively promote your business and services, increase your credibility, and start a passive income stream, you’d do it, right?
That’s where writing an ebook comes in. Every solopreneur out there could benefit from writing one, and you’re no exception. Here are my top five reasons writing an ebook could make your business boom:
1. Ebooks Build Your Audience
Launching an ebook forces you to go past your comfort zone and promote your work to people outside your usual circles. If you’ve been hesitant about self-promotion, having a quality ebook that will genuinely help people is a great way to introduce yourself to new markets without feeling pushy.
You can expand the reach of your new contacts even farther by including a simple Click to Tweet code throughout your book. This makes it easy for readers who are loving your ideas to spread the word!
2. Ebooks Promote Your Other Products/Services
There’s nothing like a little cross-promotion to boost your other products or services. The pricetag on your premium services might make new customers hesitate, but an accessibly-priced ebook gives them the perfect place to enter your sales funnel.
Think about what your customers need to know or do before they’re ready for your premium services. Give them that beginning information in your ebook—along with reminders that your other offerings are ready and waiting to help them.
3. Ebooks Enhance Your Credibility
It takes a lot of hard work to write a book, which is why having your name on the cover of your own ebook gives you a boost in credibility. There are a lot of people out there who want to write a book, but only a fraction of them actually take action and make it happen.
By writing an ebook, you’re showing prospective clients that you have the initiative and follow-through to get things done. With qualities like that, who wouldn’t want you on their team?
4. Ebooks Can Land You Speaking Engagements
Organizations look for speakers who are motivated, inspirational, and experts on their topic. By writing a book, you’ve already proven that you’re an expert in your field—it’s hard to write an entire book if you don’t know anything about your subject matter!
Your book also shows organizations that you know how to connect with and inspire an audience. No one wants to listen to someone who rambles without giving their audience what they need. As an author, you’ll already have proven that your ideas are well worth paying attention to.
5. Ebooks Earn Passive Income
Unless offering your ebook for free is part of your marketing strategy, you’ll be bringing in passive income with minimal effort. Since all the work of writing and publishing is done up front, you’ll be free to sit back and enjoy your passive income stream. (Just make sure you have an ongoing marketing plan so your book doesn’t fall off the radar!)
Writing a ebook isn’t easy, by any means. It takes hard work, time, and sincere dedication. But it’s ultimately rewarding. Ready to write an ebook for your business? My new e-guide Typing Away: Your Roadmap to Writing a Bookhas 25 resources and printables to make writing your book pain free. With an easy writing strategy to keep you on track, you can focus on running your business and having a life — all while writing your ebook.
As solopreneurs, we know what it’s like to launch – we launch side hustles, full-time businesses, new services, and packaged products on the regular. And we witness the slew of other launches going on around us.
Yet despite our familiarity with the idea of launching and the regularity with which we do it, how much do we really understand about the science and mechanics behind what makes a launch successful? In many cases, diddly squat. We’re grasping at straws; doing what others do; doing what we think we should be doing.
It’s about time we got educated. Because deliberate launches fit for your business are what will propel your One Woman Shop forward.
That’s why, on Wednesday, 9/17 at 12pm EST, One Woman Shop is bringing launch expert and oh-so-entertaining musician Farideh Ceaser to the table to talk successful launches with One Woman Shop members in a members-only Google Hangout.
In a one-hour video chat — will she bring her ukelele? — Farideh will educate us One Woman Shoppers on the following:
What is launching?
Benefits of launching
Deciding if a launch is the best fit for you
Getting comfortable with self-promotion
Specifics of launch action plans
Importance of an email list and resources for building it
Building a support system during launch
Setting realistic expectations for yourself
…And she’ll leave time for any questions you might have!
One Woman Shop community: want in on this free hangout and other fantastic resources to support you in solopreneurship? Check out our membership offering now — and if you want to become an expert on launching with Farideh, don’t delay! The Hangout is less than two weeks away!
Farideh is a musician-turned-launch strategist. After 15 years of running a One Woman Shop on the road touring as a musician, Farideh switched gears and now helps entrepreneurs launch their big ideas and online courses. She regularly delivers her business wisdom in the form of a ukelele and a song over at farideh.ca.
What: How to focus your message in 5 easy steps, a Google Hangout with copywriter Amy Chick
Details: Everyone knows writing great copy takes some planning and hard work. Amy will teach you a fun, repeatable process to get clear on your message so you can write copy that makes your clients fall in love. You’ll even get to see a few case studies from real projects!
Date and time: Wednesday, July 30 at 12pm EST
RSVP: Become a One Woman Shop member and you’ll receive the login information 🙂