Category: behind the scenes

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Want to love your work? Work with the one you love!

behind the scenes

Bryce from Clients From Hell interviewed Ben and I on what it’s like to work together as a romantic couple. We talk about what it’s been like, how we started, how we merged forces, and how we’ve built a business that supports our lifestyle....

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Making Your Own Rules (Podcast Episode: Confessions of a Female Entrepreneur)

behind the scenes, business

Alyssa Martin of Confessions of a Female Entrepreneur interviewed me recently, and we chat about everything from the importance of soft skills to paying attention to your energy, and building a business that suits your natural strengths....

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2015 Year End Annual Review

behind the scenes, business, life

Every year in December I write a review of my year. They’re long, and they’re personal.  I take a look at the highs and lows, successes and failures, projects launched, and lessons learned. (You can read my 2014 and 2013 here). From last year’s intentions: 2015 will be the year of: connection, flow + ease. I spent so much of 2014 really focusing on business and marketing tactics; this next year is really about leveraging what I’ve already created, and finding more flow and ease within my business. I will let go of and stop doing: rush work, favour work, working on weekends + evenings (unless it’s my own work of course!), scope creep and unnecessary stress. I will feel: joyful, connected, loving, creative, energized, free, “in my element.” This year I will achieve more balance with my work and free time. I will continue to evolve Digital Strategy School, and will reinvent how I work with clients by scaling up my impact and offerings. I will create with ruthless intentionality, and nurture strategic and supportive collaborations. I will help as many people as I can grow their businesses strategically, and do work they love. Yep. I would say 90% of that was achieved. To describe 2015 in a nutshell… I’d compare it to leaping off a cliff with a big gust of wind keeping me soaring. I took some major risks, pushed through some major fears, and played a way bigger “role” (aka, majorly came out of my shell). It was an all around epic year. I had my first speaking gig, successfully launched my signature program, and Ben and I are close to launching the first beta of our web application Doki! This year’s review is a little less structured than in the past, and focuses on what happened each quarter, with some key learnings and take-aways. TL;DR Highlights:   (In mostly chronological order) Launching Digital Strategy School Visiting Portland with Amanda Working with Tanya Geisler, Leadership Coach That blog post going viral Traveling to Mexico for a wedding  ...

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Behind the scenes of creating, launching and marketing an online program: PART 2

behind the scenes

So if you followed along from Part 1, you’ll know that I ran a small beta version of my group program which helped me learn a metric ton. I learned that there is a market for teaching digital strategy to designers. I was able to create content based on what participants wanted to know, not just what I thought I needed to teach. I was able to build my own confidence based on the changes I was able to help my students see. I learned so much about digital strategy, beyond what I already knew. Learning from the participants I had no idea how many different pieces and decisions would go into the whole process of launching. I’ve always been on the tech side of a launch, pulling all the aesthetic and technical pieces together while my clients were quietly having mild panic attacks. I never understood the panic and uneasiness — until I did my own launch! It gave me a whole other level of empathy for my clients. Now, through my beta testing, I quickly realized that the content was not going to be quickly consumed within 4 months as I had originally intended! The beta group had really only gone through 1/3rd of the content by the end of 2014, and many of them were still behind on the first few modules! I realized that I might need a bit more time to make it digestible. So the decision was made to turn it a 6 month program that I would launch January 19, 2015. This is part of why I’m a huge proponent of experimentation. There is no right answer. Just try it and see what works; you can always shift gears next time. START SOMEWHERE, even if you don’t have all the details figured out. The Beta had started to feel comfortable, because everyone was extremely supportive, and very grateful to get access to the resources...

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Behind the scenes of creating, launching and marketing an online program: PART 1

behind the scenes, business

TL;DR: Your first launch is scary as sh*t. Validate your idea by asking your audience first before you build the thing. Feel the fear. Do it anyway. Leave space to execute on big ideas. “Pay what you can” helped me build an intimate + supportive community. Give generously. Then give some more. ______________________________ Last week I pressed send on the final email of my 6-month online mentorship program, Digital Strategy School. I remember before launching that I had no idea how I would reach the end. I didn’t know what it would look like, or how I would get there. It is by far one of the most terrifying, challenging and rewarding things I’ve ever taken on, both personally and professionally. I want to share with you the evolution of DSS, because I hope it helps you see that creating online programs, products, courses etc., doesn’t happen overnight. And they certainly won’t ever happen if you don’t give yourself the time and space to create them. In reality? The entire process took about a year. Here is a peek into my journey of creating an online program: a hybrid online course + group mentorship program. The Evolution of an Idea The concept for DSS was a long and slow evolution. Back in the summer of 2013, I was having my first inklings of an idea, and I knew that I could help other freelance designers. I would get emails from designers who were struggling, and I knew a lot of the problems stemmed from the same things I had struggled with: boundaries, expectations, confidence, and project management. Around the same time I had started working with coaches and mentors, and knew the value that these fresh + intelligent perspectives were bringing to my own business and confidence. “It must be an ebook for freelancers,” I thought to myself. I knew I wanted to help other freelance designers, and I was too zoomed in to see the...

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The importance of presenting your work to clients: A live chat with Dennis Field

behind the scenes, business, design, digital strategy

This week I had the pleasure of chatting with Dennis Field, a designer, micropreneur, educator, and most recently Enterprise Evangelist at InVision, an application that helps designers prototype and present their progress to clients. This interview was originally recorded for Digital Strategy School, but there were so many good nuggets here that I decided to share it openly, and to give people a sense of the kinds of conversations we have in DSS. We talk about the transition from pixel-pushing designer to strategist, the importance of presenting your work to clients, and selling your clients on your ideas. There were a few technical glitches, so the last little chunk of the interview is gone, but there’s still lots of goodness here....

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2014 Year End Annual Review

behind the scenes, business, life

Wow, 2014. What an amazing year it’s been. It was so interesting to look back at my 2013 review to see where I had actually followed through (or not) on my goals. It’s really amazing how much can change in a year, and I’m excited to go through this process each year in December. (Partly inspired by Chris Guillebeau’s Annual Review) This is from last year’s post: In creating a Limitless 2014, my theme for the year will be: Abundance + Opportunity. I want to let go of and stop doing: rush work, favour work, working on weekends + evenings, and scope creep. I want to feel: bold, limitless, abundant, joyful, free, energized. I want to achieve: more balance with my work and free time. I want to produce my first digital product, and start phasing out client work for personal projects in an attempt to scale up my impact and offerings. I’d have to say all of that was pretty bang on, and I’ll reflect in more detail below: Business + Career Recapping 2013 Business Goals: Create my first digital product and build recurring and passive revenue streams. ✓ Reduce my time working on client projects ✓ Incorporate a new company with my partner ✓ Participate in a mastermind, and at least one guest speaking or mentoring opportunity ✓ Well, I totally nailed each of those! What went well: Oki Doki This year was just incredible on so many levels. I incorporated a new company (Oki Doki) with my partner in life and business, Ben. Together we are working on an application called Doki which helps entrepreneurs teach and market courses online. It has been incredibly rewarding to be able to work with Ben on a big undertaking that is not only really enjoyable to work on, but can help so many people. The response to our progress updates has been so exciting, and we really appreciate the encouragement and support! We’ll be doing...

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Proposal Makeover #1: Brigitte Theriault, White Apron Chef

behind the scenes, business, case study

If you work in a service-based industry, you’ve likely had the distinct pleasure of putting together a proposal or two for your clients at some point or another. And by pleasure I mean stress, yes? I’ve written, designed, and received many, many proposals in the last decade or so. I’ve seen really well-designed but poorly written proposals, and I’ve seen really high value proposals put together in a simple Word or Google doc. Your proposals are a powerful device to set expectations, and make a killer first impression. Are you using them to their fullest potential? Enter Proposal Makeover: Brigitte Theriault, White Apron Chef My good friend (and meal planner) Brigitte needed to put together a proposal for her new offering: coaching for personal chefs.  She shared her initial Google Doc with me, and my mind immediately went to the all the possibilities: She’s got amazing photography, why doesn’t she leverage it? What are next-steps if a client wants to “accept” this proposal? How does the client pay for this service? What are the intangible benefits of Coaching for personal chef? What value does this really provide? Brigitte was focusing more on the specifics of what would be covered in the coaching calls, and less on the “results” her clients would experience through working with her. I helped edit her copy to be more results-focused (saving them time, having a focused strategy, having all their questions answered, accountability, etc.) Using a simple (and cheap) pre-made InDesign template from Creative Market, I customized it and pulled in her gorgeous photography, creating a beautiful branded document that sets the tone for what kind of quality interaction her clients can expect. I added a call-to-action (linking to a Paypal Payment button) at the end of her proposal so the client knew exactly how to proceed. (Pro tip: Make it SO easy for them to pay you!) We took her boring, features-focused document, and...

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Why you need to design the experience of working with you

behind the scenes, case study, systems

Have you ever thought about what it’s like to work with you, from your client’s perspective? From the first email, to the content revisions, to your invoicing and hand-off package, have you thought about how your clients experience working with you, whether they are delighted or inspired, frustrated or confused? Often designers don’t realize how their communication throughout a project impacts their client’s experience. And client experience is the one thing you have to get right, because business is all about people, and you can’t build a business from unhappy clients! Delight your clients, and not only will they return, but they’ll tell their friends. All designers experience hiccups at some point in the design process; it’s inevitable. They don’t teach this stuff in design school after all! One way to differentiate yourself in a crowded market is to strategically and thoughtfully craft your client’s experience of working with you. You have to design the experience of working with you, just as you would design a website. In my program, Digital Strategy School, each designer (or developer) takes a good hard look at their process, from the first client contact, to final sign off, and maps it out. From this process, some designers realize that they don’t really have a set process. Others notice glaring omissions or opportunities. Having trouble getting sign-off on final mockups? Have trouble getting your proposals approved? Are you sending 10 emails back and forth before getting a client’s approval to begin a project, or to get your first payment? Do you projects grow in scope throughout the process, leaving you underpaid and resentful? Are you letting your client know what you expect of them during the process (and when)? That last point is one of the most important. I would venture to bet that most failed projects tend to be a result of not setting expectations for your client. How can a process map help...

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Behind the scenes: building an online course

behind the scenes, case study, design

Some of you may know (from Facebook, Twitter, or Pinterest) that I’ve been working on an online course, Digital Strategy School. It’s a design business accelerator for freelancers who’ve had a few years of experience working for themselves, but are ready to run their businesses more strategically. This has been one of the most personally rewarding projects I’ve ever taken on, and wanted to share some of the things I’ve been learning along the way. Perfectionism is crippling. Take imperfect action. I was terrified to “put it out there.” I’ve been thinking about it in some form or another for over a year, over-thinking the format, the cost, the content, etc. Initially I thought it was a book. Then perhaps it was an ecourse. I thought my audience was other website owners, and was trying so hard to do what I thought I should do (create an offering for those that couldn’t afford my full partnership services), and in the end, my audience wasn’t who I initially thought it would be. I decided to take Breanne’s Transform Your Course to help me piece together all the different parts, and it was instrumental in me discovering my real audience, and figuring out a way to deliver content that would help take them from Point A to Point B, which a clear plan of action. This also led to me releasing my unfinished/imperfect course to a small group of paying Beta testers. BETA TEST. BETA TEST. BETA TEST. I had no idea there would be such a demand for what I was assembling, and it wasn’t until I had someone offer me money for my insights via Facebook that I realized: I need to do something NOW. Not 6 months from now when this is polished. (If I’d waited until it was perfectly polished I know I would never have started!) So with that encouraging push, I assembled a simple page to gauge...

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