It’s Accountability Week!

We are thrilled to announce our first ever theme week here at One Woman Shop- Accountability Week! Each day this week, you'll see a post or resources for helping you stay accountable in your business and life, whether on your own or with a partner (spoiler alert: we want to help you find one).

accountability week

Excited? Help us spread the word!

We would love your accountability questions and tips- we may even include them in our posts throughout the week! Comment below or email us!

Out on Their Own: Kelly Gurnett

Welcome to Out on Their Own, where brave women share the nitty gritty stories of how they kicked their 9-5 jobs to the curb and began living the One Woman Shop lifestyle. If you want to share your story, email us!

out on their own kelly gurnett

Meet Kelly Gurnett. She runs the blog Cordelia Calls It Quits, where she documents her attempts to rid her life of the things that don’t matter and focus more on the things that do. You can follow her on Twitter and Facebook and hire her services as a blogger extraordinaire here.

What prompted you to quit your job? Was it one moment or was it simmering for awhile?

It had been simmering for a long time. I never really wanted to enter the 9-to-5 office world after graduation, but I just kind of fell into it due to some health issues in college that left me ill-prepared for the writer/editor/journalist career I always dreamed I'd have. With each year that passed, my frustration and depression over how much I hated my circumstances (and how unlikely it seemed I'd ever get out of them) built until finally, I'd had enough. It was one of those "I've got nothing to lose, so why not try?" moments. I was so incredibly miserable where I was, I was willing to do anything to change things. And to be honest? It's embarrassing, but the one "tipping point" moment, if I had to pinpoint it, was when I was home on a "mental health" day (a.k.a. I hated my job so much I couldn't get out of bed in the morning) and Julie & Julia happened to be on TV. I thought, "Well, blogging worked for her, so what the hell?" And the next day, I started brainstorming ideas for CCIQ. It's kind of silly, the things that can "inspire" you when you're desperate for inspiration, but it worked!

What (if anything) did you do to prepare for the transition? 

Quitting my job to freelance was a careful, deliberate process that took 2.5 years from start to finish. I started blogging and guest blogging to get my name out and to build credibility--I had no writing "portfolio" or experience after college, so blogging allowed me to show the world (and myself!) that I really did have the chops to be a professional writer. When I got my first regular freelance client and had a little side income coming in, I asked for Fridays off at work (unpaid). This gave me a little more room to get other clients and continue to build my brand. Once I had enough of a side hustle to feel comfortable with another leap, I went down to part-time at my day job. Then, once I had enough of a business to believe I could quit and not end up homeless on the street, I made the final leap and quit altogether. I sold my car, paid off some debt, and had a little money saved up to cover the initial transition period, knowing that having the extra time now would let me find new clients to make up any gap in income. I made sure each step of the way that I'd be able to provide for my family and that I wasn't doing anything rash (even though every fiber of my being is to be rash and just jump without looking).

Let's get real: how did you feel the day you quit? Liberated, scared sh*tless, nauseous? 

It felt surreal, to be honest. I'd spent 2.5 years longing for that day, dreaming about it, envisioning it, and when it finally came, it just felt like another day--like the next logical step in my plan. The scared sh*tless feeling didn't come until a few weeks later when I realized I really was all-in, for better or worse.  🙂  Now, I find myself having days where I'll suddenly stop and realize just how awesome it is that I've "made it," but when it actually happened, I think I was in a fog. Some things are too big and too meaningful for you to digest until after the fact.

Tell us about the days and months following quitting your job- were you overwhelmed with work? Eating Ramen? Networking your butt off?

It's been about 3 months now since I quit, and it's taken me this long to start to feel like I'm on somewhat firm footing. Learning how to work with my natural rhythms and create a schedule that gets everything done on time, how to balance my work with my life (still working on that) and how to budget when you don't have that steady paycheck coming in every 2 weeks takes some time and is a constant learning and tweaking process. I thought when I had all the time in the world, I'd have a lot more "work-life balance," but the truth is I've probably hustled my tail off more in these last 3 months than I ever did when I was working the day job and the side hustle simultaneously. It's a big lifestyle change and also scary to know that you're all you've got now in terms of generating income, so it's taken me a while to figure out how I work best, how to keep all the balls in the air, and also to get my biz to the point where I don't feel like I have to work on it 24/7 to keep it going.

How do you feel now? Do you wish you transitioned earlier? Do you wish you didn't go out on your own at all?

There are days when I wish I still had the security of that 2-week paycheck, or the ability to turn off my "work" brain at 5:00, but now that I'm "free," there is no way I could go back to a regular job. Even if it were writing-related, if it were a typical 9-to-5, I still think I'd be miserable. For all its uncertainty and all the work you have to put into it, freelancing is the only life I think I could ever really be happy in. Any job will have stress, but if it's a job you love, it's worth it. (I recently saw a tweet that said "Your worst day doing work you love is better than your best day doing work you hate." So true!) Working for yourself isn't a lifestyle for the faint of heart, but if you're made for it, you'll know, and it will be worth all of it. As for the transition timing, I'm glad I did it the way I did. It was exhausting doing the side hustle thing, but it allowed me to build my biz the way I wanted it to be, taking on only the projects I loved and focusing on polishing my skills at my own pace. If I'd just quit without laying that groundwork first, I would have been stuck taking on any gig that paid, and I would have been just as miserable as I'd been in the office. Patience and a deliberate plan (while they can be frustrating as hell at the time) are definitely worth it in the long-run.

Do you have any advice for others considering going out on their own? Words of warning? Caveats? 

I am all about the side hustle. It gives you a chance to build your biz the way you want it without the panic of "how am I going to pay the bills" from the get-go. It also gives you a chance to try out this new career and decide if it's really right for you, before you make that leap and commit yourself 100%. And if you can pull off a side hustle with a day job, then you've definitely got what it takes to work for yourself. You need a lot of discipline, passion, and determination to run your own biz, and side hustling is a great trial-by-fire way to make sure you're really ready. Also, pay absolutely zero attention to the naysayers, skeptics, and "realists" who will try to tell you (and they will) that you're working too hard, that you've already got a good thing with your day job, that you're taking a big risk, or that it will never work. You've only got this one life, and you deserve to be happy in it.

Questions for Kelly? Ask them in the comments!

P.S. If you loved reading Kelly's story, share the love on Twitter!

How to Develop a Better Network Online: A Primer

It’s all about the relationships. At least, that’s what I’ve always been told. Successfully growing a business depends on developing leads and nurturing connections with other people. You can’t do it alone, even if you’re a One Woman Shop.

Believe me. I know. I’ve been working on my solo business for quite some time now and I’m the first to say that a strong network makes all the difference between getting ahead or falling woefully behind.

With the advent of social media tools, it’s become so much easier not only to connect with existing contacts but to create an entirely new network of people to help you grow your business online.

If you haven’t been taking advantage of social media in this way, it’s time you started. Here are a few ideas to get you well on your way.

Leverage LinkedIn

If you’re not active in some way on LinkedIn, you’re missing out. It’s the go to place for professionals across a multitude of industries to connect. LinkedIn provides an opportunity to continue the conversation with someone you’ve met in person or online in a professional context.

Take these things into consideration to get the most out of using LinkedIn to develop your network:

    • Always write a custom note when asking someone to accept your connection request, especially if you don’t know them personally. Using the default message is akin to not having a professional looking photo for your profile. It says, “I’m not putting any thought into this.”
    • Share value added content with your connections and within groups that you’ve joined. Join in on the conversations and be willing to answer questions whenever possible. This shows you’re willing to be engaged and displays your expertise within your niche.
    • Give praise and acknowledge accomplishments. Check the news feed and key into what your connections are doing.

Join a few Facebook groups

Facebook has seen an explosion of groups over the past couple of years. Groups within Facebook fall within two camps: open and closed. Open groups are ones that anyone can join while closed groups require acceptance by the group’s administrator.

Depending on your interests and/or profession, you can do a search on Facebook and see if there are any that strike a chord with you. Getting recommendations from others is the best way. For instance, I belong to a women’s entrepreneur group called Thrive Hive that serves as a kind of giant mastermind and support network. It’s been a phenomenal place to bounce ideas off of others and develop leads for my business. While this one is closed and has a fee to belong, there are plenty that do not.

Get beyond the phone call

Skype and Google Hangouts are tools that should be in every small business owner’s arsenal. Even if you’re not looking to connect with people outside of your immediate area, you never know when meeting virtually may seem like the best option.

Both are free. Google Hangouts allow you to have multiple people join the conversation and be seen on the screen at one time.

Think of using either one of these tools to connect with clients, potential clients or people in your industry in a more personal way.

    • Invite some of your clients to a Google Hangout where they can get some of their burning questions answered about their businesses.
    • Better connect with someone in your industry via Skype who you’d like to develop a strategic partnership with.
    • Offer a 15 minute Skype chat to discuss your services with an interested potential client.

Don’t forget email

Last but not least, don’t forget about email. Contrary to popular belief, email is not dead. Within 24 hours of making a meaningful connection at a networking or professional event, I send that person an email. I reference where we met, what we talked about and the fact that I would like to include him or her in my network.

From there, I connect on LinkedIn where I hope to stay on that person’s radar.

Which brings me back to the need for reaching out across multiple platforms to keep your connections alive; not everyone is comfortable or interested in being active with all the virtual social tools. Find ones that work for you and those people you most want to cultivate working relationships with online.

The more you do, the more you’ll find how much value you can get out of them.

(7 More) Things to Do When There’s Nothing to Do

Do you feel like it's feast or famine in your solo business? You're definitely not alone- we all deal with up and down periods, especially at the beginning. Lauren Caselli recently shared five tips for what to do when there's nothing to do in your business, but we're back with even more ideas for you that will keep your business in order, expand your network, and help you maintain your sanity.

Connect with your email subscribers: When's the last time you did a little research on the people on your email list? Look through the list, Google search each name, find their email address, and shoot them a quick personal email. Don't have an email list? Set one up now!

Go through Twitter followers and Facebook likes: Your followers and those who like your Facebook page only see a fraction of the things you post- ensure that they see everything by finding their email address and asking if you could add them to your email list. Follow back the accounts that you find beneficial.

Recategorize your blog: Having a streamlined system of categories and tags on your blog ensures that people can actually find content that is relevant to their interests. Don't overdo it with categories and tags- how will readers know which one to click if there's a bunch that are essentially the same thing? Be consistent- use SEO or Search Engine Optimization, but not both. Here's a great resource on how to use tags effectively.

Clear off computer desktop: Is your desktop covered with downloads, documents, and screenshots? Organize them to speed up your computer and ensure that you can easily find items.

Update WordPress plugins: If you're using WordPress for your blog or website, you should be using plugins for added functionality. Unfortunately, they can become outdated quickly, so take a few minutes to update them regularly.

Add new contacts on LinkedIn: If you've been to a networking event lately or met new business friends online, take a few minutes to keep your LinkedIn network up-to-date. You never know when you'll want one of your contacts to facilitate an introduction for you!

Add new sites to your Feedly account: We're sure you have a few tried-and-true blogs and website that you read every day, but now's the time to add a few more by searching or asking your network for their suggestions. Don't have a Feedly account yet? Sign up now!

P.S. If you like these suggestions, be sure to download our Nothing to Do printable- just print, cut along the dotted lines, and pick out one of our suggestions when you have some down time in your business!

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?

Motivation Monday: Rainy Day File

You know those crappy work days where you feel tired, unproductive, in need of more caffeine, full of doubt, and ready to run back to a cubicle? Where all you want to do is pull the covers over your eyes, curl up with a cup of coffee, turn on Friends, or take a road trip to get away? Yeah, we've had them too -- the days where it might be sunny outside, but it sure feels like a rainy day. On those days, it can be tough to remember why you usually love your job and the many successes you’ve had. The awesome client response to a project; the great feedback from a customer; the sweet thank you note from a blogger you worked with -- they all seem to be instantly banished from your memory.

Which is why we keep a Rainy Day folder (or a 'Keepers File', as Jenny Blake says!) to keep track of the nice things people say about our work or metrics that prove that we are, in fact, on the right track.

Where to create your Rainy Day collage:

  • Email (add a "Rainy Day" label to all nice incoming emails)
  • Pinterest board (keep it secret if you want)
  • PicMonkey (though you won’t be able to edit it)
  • Polyvore (you could save it as a draft so that it’s not publicly visible)
  • Evernote (better for words than photos)
  • A bulletin board (yes, a real one!)

What to include:

  • Thank you notes (or photos of them)
  • Text from positive emails, tweets, or Facebook messages sent by your contractor, your client, or your customer
  • An article with your byline and headshot
  • Screen shots of your successes (like that graph showing a 500% increase in your site stats for your blog!)
  • An autograph of a famous-in-your-industry individual that you were able to meet
  • An image of a graphic you designed

We're all about internal self-assurance and intrinsic drive, but sometimes, you just need that little bit of external reassurance. Undoubtedly, these things won't complete you, but they can provide a quick pick-me-up on a rough day.

5 Things to Do Before You Discontinue a Product or Service

Do you have a product or service that you feel super passionate about it, but it's just not taking off like you'd like it to? Before you chalk it up to a big failure, try these five ideas to bring your offering to life (or back to life):

Make sure your target market will actually pay for it: Trust us, people will tell you day in and day out that they love your product or service and, when you ask them to invest, they have a reason why they can't. It's no one's fault; just the name of the game. As you collect email sign ups from potential customers, send them an email offering a discounted "beta tester" rate. If they won't even invest the discounted amount, you may need to restructure your offering or find a different client base who will actually pay.

Collect feedback and testimonials: Not surprisingly, people unfamiliar with your work may be reluctant to invest money if they're not the quality or value that you'll provide. Reassure them by showcasing raving testimonials on your sales page. Remember those beta testers we mentioned above? Send them a Google form asking for specific positive and negative feedback and a 1-2 paragraph testimonial that you can put on your site alongside their name and a link to their website.

Put the product or service on autopilot: Let's say your product is a paid email series. Once you design the course and set it up as an auto-responder series on MailChimp, you can just pop up a sales page on your website and hope that people find it. Bam- autopilot! It may not result in the hundreds of sales you envisioned, but it can keep your offering alive for the time being.

Promote it in low-cost, low-maintenance ways: Let's take the example of the paid email series again. A few easy ways to promote it are to include a link to your sales page in your email signature, add a link in every email newsletter you send out, send out tweets periodically, add a link as a tab on your Facebook page, and email the link out if you see a good opening (like if a potential client can't afford to hire you at your consulting rate). Consider promoting it through Facebook ads, which can be highly targeted. If your email series is $40 and you spend $100 in Facebook ads to generate 3 sales, that's still profit, right?

Bring affiliates on board: Another great way to spread the word about your product or service? Reach out to individuals who work with your target market and ask them to be an affiliate of your program- you get to reach their network and they get a monetary reward for supporting your work! Services like E-Junkie and Infusion Soft make this process easy to manage. Here's a complete guide for creating a great affiliate program.

P.S. If you're struggling from idea overload, check out Brandy Morris' Check It or Chuck It business idea vetting tool!

What steps can you take immediately to resuscitate your product or service?

4 Ways You Know It’s Time to Part Ways With a Client- and How to Prevent These Situations

All client relationships can go through highs and lows, but that doesn’t always mean it is a bad fit. However, the wrong partnership or client can be damaging to your business and your brand and can drain you mentally, emotionally, and financially. If you have tried everything in your power to reconcile any mishaps that you may be struggling with, it might be time to move on. But how do you know if, and when, it's time to part ways with a client?

Here are four surefire signs that it's time to move on:

1. You are not being paid for the work you are doing or have done. As a business, you are entitled to being paid for your services- and hopefully you have a contract saying so. If your client is not paying you or is not paying on time, it may be time to start rethinking your relationship with them.

One Woman Shop Prevention Tip: Consider putting into place a late payment fee in your contract to ward off late payments in the future. Also, send personal emails and (gasp) even consider using the phone. This is often much more effective than sending automatic notifications through your invoicing software.

2. You don’t trust your client or the client is being dishonest. One of the key components of a great relationship that will produce the best outcomes is trust. If you can’t trust a client that you are working with, it is not a good fit and time to shake hands and move forward separately.

One Woman Shop Prevention Tip: In addition to your written contract, considering having a business Code of Conduct or Company Philosophies page that you direct potential clients to. Oftentimes, potential bad clients will opt out of working with you in the first place if they understand the value you place on integrity.

3. Your opinions are not being heard. Both you and your clients are going to have ideas, both good and bad, and it is only polite and professional to listen to the ideas and give them the credit they are due. If your client has decided they no longer want to take your opinions and expertise into consideration, this may not be the best working relationship.

One Woman Shop Prevention Tip: Consider addressing this issue with your client in the following way: Hi so and so- I really enjoy working with you, but I am finding it hard to make progress on xyz because it seems like you are unwilling to hear my ideas and opinions on abc. I have extensive experience with this exact issue in my past client work and I would love a chance to show you how we can make this work together. Do you mind if I take a week to put my ideas into action and then we can reconvene to discuss the results?

4. Your client is disrespectful. You should not have to tolerate any type of disrespect from a client. So, if your client lacks professional courtesy when communicating with you, you owe it to yourself to part ways.

One Woman Shop Prevention Tip: Frustration is often the result of miscommunications, so look back over your emails to ensure that you were as clear as you could be with your client. Any mistake on your part doesn't excuse their rudeness, but you can use the situation to learn to communicate more clearly and set better expectations in the future.

I do believe it is always best to try to discuss any issues you may be having with your client before jumping to the conclusion of parting ways, but if you have exhausted all your resources in trying to come to a solution and that hasn’t helped your situation, then you know it is time to, politely and professionally, wish them luck and say goodbye.

Have you ever had to "fire" a client? How did you do it?

5 Ways to Jazz Up Your Web Copy

Not all of us can be stellar copywriters. Even if you’re writing to your target audience, you could still be making some basic mistakes. If you’re not ready to turn things over to a pro, here are some steps you can take to jazz up your web copy.

1. Take action

Your website’s traffic is meaningless if people aren’t buying your product or engaging on blog posts. But you can’t expect them to hire you if all you’ve given them is vague, cloudy copy!

Instead, use your writing to inspire action in your readers. That means choosing strong verbs, seeking out specific nouns, and avoiding the passive voice. Adjectives and adverbs might seem helpful. But if they’re generic or unnecessary, cut them out!

Verbs to watch out for: is, determine, acknowledge, establish, help, make, find. Replace them with words like show, signal, support, control, assist, create, discover, and investigate.

See the difference? You can probably picture someone doing the things in the second list. But the first? I don’t know about you, but I don’t have a vivid image of what it looks like to acknowledge something.

2. Emphasize the good stuff

Every sentence you write has an emphasis—even if you never use bold, italics, or the dreaded ALL CAPS. Thanks to the way we stress our words, the last word of a sentence is automatically emphasized. Because of this, most English speakers pay extra attention to the end of a sentence. That’s where they find the most important ideas.

You can highlight significant info or call your readers to action just by tweaking your last words. Give your homepage a quick facelift: restructure your sentences so the final words are ideas you want to stick in your readers’ minds.

3. Find your rhythm

Have you ever had a teacher who spoke in a total monotone? It was probably boring, right? The bad news is, you may be writing in a monotone without even realizing it.

To inject your writing with good rhythm, you need to pay attention to breath units. A breath unit is a group of words you can speak without taking a breath.

Take a minute to test the rhythm of your writing. Choose a section to read out loud, and print it out. As you read, draw a line between words when you need to stop for air.

The words between each set of lines are your breath units. Are they mostly long? Short? Ideally, you’ll have a healthy mix of both. Long breath units can overwhelm readers, and short ones can make you sound like a robot. Keep them balanced to create a killer rhythm you could dance a mamba to.

4. Get friendly with punctuation

You may not love grammar, but you can still use punctuation to give your writing some extra zing. Here’s a quick guide:

  • Dashes: These handy punctuation marks are perfect for getting your clients to pay attention—especially to the end of a sentence.
  • Commas: Use commas to create a pause if your breath units are getting too long.
  • Question marks: Sure, you know how a question mark works. But asking rhetorical questions will cause your readers to stop and ponder their individual situation. It can be a useful tactic for making them realize they could benefit from your service or product.
  • Semicolons: These guys may feel a little old fashioned, but they still work. Use a semicolon to separate two full sentences that are closely related in meaning; it gives your readers a place to pause while helping them make the connection between ideas.
  • Exclamation points: Keep these babies to a minimum. At best, you’ll sound forced and salesy. At worst, you’ll sound like a teenage fangirl at a One Direction concert.

5. Make it punchy

Most bloggers know the “rule” of tight copy when you’re writing for today’s ADD Internet audience. But short sentences have the added bonus of giving your writing some KA-POW!

The key to making this tip work is to vary your sentence lengths. If all your sentences are short, they’ll lose their punch. But if you throw in a few longer sentences, readers will feel the full weight of a short one.

Go through your website with these ideas in mind, and your copy will be sparkling in no time.

Do you have any quick tips to whip your copy into shape?

5 Things in Business That Won’t Complete You

We recently read a piece, entitled Things That Won't Complete You, about all those material goods or experiences that you have convinced yourself will "fill in your missing piece, your gassy void, your melancholy nothingness, your gaping abyss." Harsh wording aside, we liked the sentiment of the list and wanted to create our own. Presenting:

5 Things in Business That Won't Complete You

  1. Reaching a financial milestone: Did you finally get your first thousand dollars or first hundred thousand dollars as a solopreneur or freelancer? You may get a boost in self-confidence, you may feel more comfortable telling people your rates, and you may rest a little easier at night knowing your bank account isn't near zero- but it won't complete you. 
  2. Selling out a product, service, or course: You are in demand, lady! All those late nights and Venti coffees are paying off and filling up your bank account (see above). You can confidently say that you have found your target market and are selling to them effectively. That's awesome, but again, it won't complete you.
  3. Increasing your email list size by any percent: People like what you have to say and voluntarily give you access to their inbox? You have a targeted list to sell your awesome products and services to (see above)? That's huge in this email marketing driven world! But we're not even going to say it this time, but you know what we would say if we would say it 🙂
  4. Maintaining a 5/5 feedback rating: You better believe that this will help you sell more products or services in the future because your future audience will know that you provide value to your current clients and customers. It's an awesome rush to open your Google form responses and see a big 5 there, but it won't give you complete satisfaction in the long haul.
  5. Gaining new Twitter followers or Facebook likes: Do you watch these numbers religiously? We admit, we do too, but at the end of the day, there are a heck of a lot of things more important to us than making sure that we have more followers than people we're following. We've had that and it doesn't carry us through our day with a sense of ease and contentment, trust us.

We're not saying goals aren't important- but it would be misguided to think that any of the above metrics or accomplishments will, on their own, provide you with a sense of fulfillment overnight. The satisfaction we feel from reaching these goals is often fleeting and replaced by the need to set an even higher goal.

Want proof? Ash Ambirge of The Middle Finger Project is a hotshot in the online media world- and she's got over 10,000 Twitter followers and more than 9,000 Facebook likes to show for it. But guess what? She recently wrote a post about 9 things everyone needs to know about success, reality, and being human, where she admits to being overweight because she can't pull herself away from work, unconsciously picking her fingers due to stress, and ignoring friends and family so that she can focus on work.

We're in no way bashing Ash. We really respect her honesty and courage in baring it all and unfortunately, we're not convinced that she's too much of an anomaly in the fast-paced entrepreneurial world. But she is a great example that shows superficial metrics won't complete you (thanks for putting it out there, Ash!).

We encourage you to keep aiming high and continuing setting goals, but to simultaneously let go and realize that followers, likes, money, and positive feedback will never complete you.

What do you tell yourself will complete you in your business?