Hey you . . . my best friend in life has an amazing guest post and guide for you. Meet Brittany Mays. The epic designer behind most of my recent workbooks and course materials. Here we go . . .
Have you ever been to a restaurant where the menu was in another language? You may have understood a few words that English “borrowed” over the years, but even those words could have morphed in meaning.
(Get to the point, Britt)
Sorry, I’m just pointing out that communication isn’t always the easiest thing. Sometimes you try to explain your thoughts or vision to someone and it just doesn’t come out right. Often, the barrier comes with an ignorance towards the jargon of that particular topic.
Specifically I’m talking about design. In the past few years, as I have gained more and more clients, my processes have developed to help people better communicate with me.
In this post, you will not only find definitions that can really help you out, but also questions to help break down your upcoming project for yourself and your designer. Plus a communication sheet you can fill out and email to your potential designer that covers all of your project details. I’m just trying to help you get the party started and get your life together, but more on that in a bit.
What every designer fears
Every Halloween I get invited to a haunted house. Every year, I re-explain that I don’t do haunted houses, but people don’t get it. I avoid being scared if at all possible, but sometimes, as a designer, my worst fears materialize in the form of phrases that my clients write in emails and say over the phone. OK, I’m being a bit dramatic, but seriously. Want to know some of most the feared phrases by your designer (graphic, web, etc.)? Well, here they are:
“I will know it when I see it.”
“This is exactly what I asked for, but it’s not what I want.”
“Can we get rid of all the white? I want it to pop.”
“I don’t know if that [clearly relevant image] represents [the easily represented concept].”
“Could you make the design look exactly like this.” [As we are looking at another design which would qualify as copyright infringement.]
“We need more images of people [doing extremely specific things that are hard to find].”
“I really need a logo instead of JUST a font.”
“I don’t really like any of it, but I don’t really have any feedback for you.”
In addition to the lingo I will share with you later in the post, I have a few other suggestions that will help you communicate with your designer.
Design software isn’t magic
Don’t get me wrong, Photoshop, InDesign and Illustrator can do some amazing things. (By the way, if you hire a professional designer, these are the programs he/she would likely use.)
I bring this up because often clients have a false sense of what these programs can accomplish. For instance, if a woman took a picture with her back to the camera, I can’t spin her around to show her face. Or if you give me a .JPG file that another designer created for you, I can’t alter it without simply designing on top of it because it has been flattened (one of those fancy words down below).
Good Practice: If you have something you need done, simply ask, but keep in mind that it may not be possible depending on what you are providing so you aren’t disappointed.
Find examples and inspiration
One of the best ways to help your designer create something for you that you love is to provide examples and inspiration. This can be done in a number of ways like filling a Word, Pages or Google document with images or creating a Pinterest board that you can share with your designer (remember that you can make the board private).
When gathering inspiration, consider finding items in the following categories:
- general style/direction
- photography style
Please, please, please do not expect your designer to copy anything you show him/her exactly. However, gathering inspiration and making it your own is exactly what needs to happen, and providing these things will help that happen.
My friend. The world of online business is not so very different from being a spy. So today, I have some spy lessons for you. These come from my extensive experience in spycraft—watching shows and movies such as Alias, Mission Impossible, James Bond, The Blacklist, etc. And what have I learned in all my years of experience?
Spy Lesson #1: Establish a solid headquarters.
Spy Lesson #2: Create and maintain some secure outposts.
Spy Lesson #3: Always have more than one safe house.
And as you can clearly see, this is just like having an online business.
You need an online headquarters for your content.
A place where you can do your coolest, most meaningful stuff.
Then you need some secure outposts.
These are your non-headquarters locations to do cool stuff from.
And then you need some safe houses.
A safe house = surprise coolness that no one but you knows about until you need it.
Today I want to help you figure out where you should set up your headquarters (because it’s not always necessarily a blog), and in an upcoming post, I want to help you discover which outposts might be a good fit, and what the heck you should be keeping at your safe houses.
Intense right? Well you can thank the relaunch of EpicBlogBrew.com for all this intensity. I’ve been in content creation mode for a while now, and I just had to share this spy analogy and create some worksheets to help. Let’s do it.
Spy/Business Lesson #1: Establish a solid headquarters.
In spycraft, headquarters is the place everyone goes to figure out what’s going on, to get new assignments, to converse with coworkers, and to center themselves. In online business, your headquarters is the place your audience can figure out what’s going on, get new content + products, and possibly even converse with or meet others.
From your headquarters comes your best work, your true brand identity, and paths to your products (whether physical, digital, or service-based).
So which platforms make for great headquarters?
From what I’ve seen and done, I’d suggest that the following are epic platforms to consider:
- A blog
- Your email list
- YouTube (or other video services)
- A podcast
- Periscope (or other live streaming services)
- Online workshops (webinars, bootcamps, live trainings, etc.)
Since I haven’t podcasted extensively enough (though I’ve loved the experience of the episodes I’ve done), I can’t authentically develop a checklist to help you decide if it’s right for you. But the other platforms listed above definitely feel more like home to me, and I want to explore them further with you.
To me, the important thing is not to let someone tell you exactly which platforms you need to be on without fully researching it yourself.
Oh, and another important thing to acknowledge is that your headquarters may eventually change.
For the first 1.5 years of this brand, the byRegina.com blog was the indisputable headquarters. Then, a shift happened. I didn’t do it on purpose, and honestly didn’t even notice it until it had fully occurred and existed for a few months.
My email list became my headquarters. I develop so much never-before-seen content, so many worksheets, so many #TooReal stories for my emails. It’s honestly the content that I pour the most time into other than my courses. And. P.S. You can sign up for my Ninja Notes at the top of my website.
Even though I don’t plan to fight the fact that my email list has become my headquarters, I do plan to re-energize my blog, because the fact that it was HQ for so long is the only reason I have my email list.
But, enough of story time. It’s time to analyze which of the many headquarters options you want to use in general, and in using them consistently, you’ll be able to figure out what the best HQ for your brand is.
Is blogging right for you?
You can download the worksheet above or check out the checklist items below. Blogging may be right for you if:
Oh, hey there. Regina here. Talking about one of the most exciting (to me) forms of content ever. Ever, ever.
Like, my friends, and other epic people that I belong to online communities with, all know that this is the type of content that currently makes my world go ’round. I mean, basically.
The lovely Tors even said this:
And here’s the deal. There are a few super valid reasons to start with workshops if you want to get into info products, or build your email list, or create content that you can re-package as an opt-in or bonus, or show yourself as a coach or expert on a topic you’re passionate about. Tons of epic reasons.
Like, 8, to be specific.
Hosting workshops . . .
1. Helps people start to see you as a teacher and an expert in your niche. A great workshop topic, attractive graphics to support your event, a simple signup process, and a helpful agenda/worksheet to go along with it and you will seem professional, experienced, and amazing.
This impression goes a long way whether you’re providing services, trying to line up speaking opportunities, or creating information products, membership programs, or coaching/mastermind groups.
2. Causes you to create actionable worksheets, tips, and content so that you can see if you even have enough material, information, etc. to create a full course/program out of your topic, or if it might be better as a book, or if it should be a one-on-one service, or be left alone as a workshop, or abandoned completely, or done as a collaboration, or made into a group program, etc.
3. Gives you tons of packaging options. You can use your workshop as a free opt-in event conducted live, a free opt-in conducted live and then packaged as an evergreen opt-in or product bonus, a free opt-in conducted live and then sold afterward, or a paid product . . . among other options.
4. Allows you to test out EVERYTHING. It would be horrible to waste time (or money) developing something as intense as a course or book that turns out to not actually work for you or your audience. Developing worksheets, slides, and a script or bullet points of info for your workshop will help you figure out if the content works for you, of course, but actually presenting the information to your audience will allow you to get a real understanding of how it works for them. Was it too long? Too short? Too hard? Too confusing? Just right? Etc.
5. Helps you create a larger product or series as you go. Instead of planning one major resource (think course, online school, etc.) and leaving it looming over you, you’re able to plan it and create small sections/modules of it as workshops. #Brilliant
6. Gives you an additional price point to serve your audience with, as well as a different level of intensity/urgency of information—many times, a workshop will be more actionable and comprehensive than a blog post, eBook, or other type of resource.
Serving your audience at varying levels of need (amount of information, price, learning style, etc.) is a way to show you care and to impress your ideal people.
I’m a woman of (what some would call) many “contradictions.” I love Drake, but I also love Frank Sinatra. I listen to Louis Armstrong, but I also need Snow Patrol some days. I watch all the action movies. Ever. But 80% of my movies are pre-1950s. I’d love to spend a Sunday completely immersed in NFL games, but I also cry at cheesy rom coms (or “chick flicks” if you must). I’m weird to say the least.
BUT. When an artist comes along and speaks my business language and drops hidden gems of clarity for us to learn from, I feel it as my duty to share. So without further examples of how weird I am, let’s get into these 14 Drake lyrics that will help you kill it in business and in life.
Oh, and if you don’t know who Drake is. THIS.
Let’s start with 5 quotes to get your mindset right.
1. It ain’t about who did it first, it’s ’bout who did it right.
Lyric: Wu-Tang Forever (song), Nothing Was the Same (album)
So your market is “saturated” and you don’t see where you can possibly fit in. You see someone doing what you want to do and they’re already doing a really good job of it. Uh huh. I feel you.
But I guess Drake never should have started rapping then. I mean. Jay Z. Diddy (Does he rap still? I don’t even know which name we’re supposed to be calling him this year, so I definitely don’t know if he still makes music.). Etc.
I shouldn’t have started blogging either, by this logic. Neither should my favorite blogger, Erika Madden, I guess. But here’s the thing about that.
It really is not about who did it first, it’s about who does it right.
Do you have perspective to add? Do you have voice to add? Do you have lives to change? Can you put in the work? Are you willing to do it right?
Then do it.
2. She look like a star, but only on camera. Only on camera.
Lyrics: Cameras (song), Take Care (album)
I know. I know. He/she looks like they know EVERYTHING. Their Instagram is a collection of the most perfect images ever made. They publish income reports with income of $50K per month and only $323.47 in expenses. And then you figure you must be doing everything wrong. Clearly it’s easy and you’re just not able to get it. What’s wrong with you, eh?
Incorrect. It takes her 1 hour and 52 minutes to set up each of those IG photos, 25 minutes to shoot, and 17.4 minutes to edit each one. And by the way. Her desk never actually looks that clean. And by the by, she fell on her face millions of times before she made $50K per month. That, and, can you actually verify these stories?
There’s no benefit in comparing your status to what other people look like on camera. To what other people carefully select to show you. No benefit.
She look like a star, but only on camera . . . only on camera.
3. You should just be yourself. Right now, you’re someone else.
Lyrics: Hotline Bling (song), Views From the 6 (album)
Seriously. If you want to build a sustainable business that brings you joy for the long run, you should build something based on who you are. I even did a whole scope about this. Because, you know those times when you make money doing something that’s not true to you? Remember how fun that is?
Not at all. Not at all fun is the answer.
When you build a business based on who you think people want you to be, or who you’re peeping online right now and unintentionally copying . . . it’s just not real. And it’s just not fun.
And if it’s not you, you’ll eventually run out of content.
Truth be told. The first, and second, and every time I’ve published an eCourse, I’ve done something “wrong.” Considering that the whole concept of making money from online courses as independent publishers is incredibly new in the grand scheme of things (we haven’t been doing it for 50+ years like many other forms of business), this is not too surprising.
When I started, I had less than zero idea what I was doing. I picked a random timeframe (90 days), and a topic I was passionate about (establishing a blog—because I did WordPress for a living at the time), outlined each day, and published a signup blog post. << This first course was a free one by the way. One that I did not even finish. #Shame
Even still, it was valuable to the people that stuck with it, and it became the core substance for a course that would later help me make an unexpected six figures. I don’t say that to be flashy; I say that to encourage you because I still had no idea what I was doing when I released even that course.
But here’s the thing. Releasing courses, learning how to create content that helps, figuring out how to sell your materials . . . it all gets more organized and efficient as you go. Things start to make sense. Things start to flow. You start to see patterns. You become more epic at it. I truly believe we will never become “perfect” at releasing courses or other information products, but we can certainly figure out what works well and set ourselves up to learn more as we go.
So my friend, I’m going to sum up the steps of course creation in a framework I haven’t seen presented before. Mainly because I had to learn this as I went and because I don’t read other posts on courses—not because I’m the only legitimate resource (ha!), but because I want to share what has worked from my experience and from the plans I’ve been able to help others put in place. This is not information I read from someone else’s book some 2.3 years ago. This is stuff I believe in, and I hope it helps you create an online course that delights your audience, matters in the marketplace, and sells well.
One of the wisest things you can do for your course from the jump is to plan its position in your market, in your audience’s lives, in your brand, and yeah . . . I’m about to repeat myself, in your market.
Seriously. Even if it’s a free course, it needs a position.
Think about it, on a basketball team, there’s a point guard, but there’s also a post player and a wing. Somebody has to direct traffic, somebody has to take and make those 3-point shots, etc. Okay. Actually. I don’t jack about basketball, so if that’s incorrect, just smile and nod and give me a virtual pat on the head for trying.
But the point remains. The coach doesn’t need to and doesn’t want to put five point guards on the court at the same time. Can we say disaster?
So, if within your industry/niche, there are already 17 metaphorical point guards with similar skills, all playing—why turn out a point guard? And if you do decide to make a point guard (figuratively speaking, here), how will you position said player (your course) to be distinguishable and desirable outside of the 17 that already exist?
Figure out your course’s position first. It will help you know how to frame it for your audience, what to build into it, how to price it, and what you need to produce in order to make it epic.
And yes my infopreneurial friend, I do have a 2-day workshop and crazy cool workbook for you on creating courses from scratch—in case you want to go deeper into framing and positioning. Let’s move on to the next step.
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