April 2014 - Coaching Blueprint - marketing for life coaches
How to Plan your First Retreat

How to Plan your First Retreat

 

Is one of your big coaching dreams to host a live retreat? Mine too.

The idea of spending a long weekend nestled away in the mountains (or on the beach) with lovely clients, leading workshops, and bonding over good wine? Yes, please.

I’m four months into planning my first retreat, and holy moly, there is so much to do.

Although I haven’t officially hosted a retreat yet (that’s happening soon), I have learned some super helpful information over the past few months of the planning process.

I can’t speak to leading a great retreat, but I can share what I wish I knew before getting started.

What I wish I knew before planning my first retreat:

Find a collaboration partner.

One of my intentions for 2014 was to host a retreat, but I felt so overwhelmed by the idea of finding the perfect accommodations, planning the schedule, and marketing the event, that I began to shut down. But then I joined forces with a fellow coach and we decided to co-host the retreat. Almost immediately, it was like a weight had been lifted off my shoulders.

Identify your strengths.

If you’ve decided to work with a partner to plan your retreat, you’ve put yourself in the awesome position to split the work in half. Begin by identifying your strengths (sending heartfelt emails, making phone calls, writing magnetic copy, creating a solid budget, etc.) and decide who is in charge of which tasks.

Get clear on your dream attendee.

Similar to your dream client, but perhaps slightly different. Who do you want attending your retreat? What are their biggest struggles? How will this retreat be the perfect match for them?

Choose a location.

This should be one of the first decisions you make because it will influence your budget and the remainder of your planning. To get started, decide what’s most important to your dream attendee and what type of setting will best serve the type of retreat you’re hosting. Be sure to consider the geography, the sleeping arrangements, local attractions, etc.

Create a budget.

For some of you, this step will come before choosing a location, but I found it easier to fully flesh out the budget after the location was finalized. You’ll want to include accommodations, taxes, fees, catering, gift bags, transportation, excursions, etc.

Find a caterer.

Unless you plan on cooking for several people three times a day, it’s time to start looking for a caterer. Once you know your location, google is a good place to begin.

Other important questions to consider:

  • Is there a deposit required? Is it refundable?
  • Are there additional taxes and fees?
  • Do your meals allow for food allergies?
  • Will you provide airport transportation?
  • Will you have your attendees sign a contract/agreement?

Once you’ve answered these questions, it’s time to begin creating your marketing strategy.

How do you plan on spreading the word about your fab retreat? Will you share it with your newsletter subscribers? Host a blog tour? Plan a webinar? The options are endless.

Now go rock that retreat, coach!

 

Ashley Wilhite is the founder of Your Super Awesome Life, where she helps women live a life they love while creating a freedom-based business. You can find Ashley on Twitter, Facebook and get your free copy of “The 5 Things That Hold You Back From Living the Life You Love.”

Instagram: An Essential Part Of Your Online Strategy?

Instagram: An Essential Part Of Your Online Strategy?

 

Is Instagram a bright, shiny object, or an essential part of your online strategy?

A lot of people are talking about Instagram, lately. The other day, I saw someone ask about Instagram in an online forum that I belong to. She said that she had heard good things about it, so she signed right up and was raring to go. She was immediately attracted by the bright shiny object that is Instagram.

One of the main parts of my social media work with business owners is to help them get clear on exactly which social media sites they need to be focused on, so they can stop wasting time online. If you try to be on every social media site, you’ll wear yourself thin, and you’ll quickly burn out.

Plus, your ideal clients and joint venture partners (the two main groups of people you need to connect with online) probably aren’t on every single social network.

Instagram is a fantastic site for many businesses, especially those businesses that are easily expressed in a visual manner (through photos and micro-videos), but there are some important questions you need to ask yourself before jumping in and investing time in building your tribe on this social site.

QUESTIONS TO ASK YOURSELF

1. Who are your ideal clients and JV partners? Really get clear on this.

2. Are your ideal clients and JV partners actually using Instagram?

3. Are they using it for purely personal reasons, or are they using it to connect with businesses like yours?

4. Is it a social site that you enjoy using? Do you love taking photos and making short videos?

5. Does it make sense for your business to use Instagram?

HOW TO GET STARTED

To use Instagram effectively, you’ll need a smart phone (iPhone or Android) or a tablet (iPad or Android), and you’ll need to get the free Instagram app for it. Set up your username, add your website URL and a 150-character bio, which should clarify who you are, what you do, and who you help with your business.

Start out by listening and watching how people use Instagram, as this will help you understand how it works. Follow lots of other coaches to see how they do it and get ideas for your own profile. Next, make targeted connections by following your ideal clients and JV partners. Whenever you come across a new business or coach who you admire and want to get to know better, check to see if they’re on Instagram and then follow them.

Create a clear plan for what types of photos and videos you want to share, so you can mix it up. Remember that Instagram doesn’t need to be entirely about business. You can also use it to showcase your personal side, by sharing what you do in your off-hours, on the weekend, or on vacation.

HOW IT WORKS

In a nutshell, you take a photo using the Instagram app, you choose a filter to apply to the image (or not), then you write a caption to explain what the photo is about, add any relevant hashtags, tag any people who are in the image and who are also on Instagram, select whether you also want to share the photo on Facebook, Twitter, Tumblr, or Flickr, and then click share.

You can also upload your own images, such as quote boxes or images with tips and suggestions that you create on your computer. To do this, you’ll need to transfer these images to your mobile device. Next, open Instagram and tap the preview of the last photo you took, select the specific album where the photo is located, then the specific image. You can adjust the image and the description and share it in the same way as a real-time photo. You can also upload photos from your computer using a special app, such as Gramblr or BlueStacks.

For brief videos, you press and hold the video button on the Instagram app, you can choose a filter to apply to the video (or not), next you choose a cover frame (like a thumbnail), then you write a caption to explain what the video is about, add any relevant hashtags, select whether you also want to share the photo on Facebook, Twitter, Tumblr, or Flickr, then click share.

WHAT TO SHARE

There are so many different types of photos and short videos you can create and share on Instagram. Think about how you can showcase your products and services, how your products are made, behind the scenes photos, and how you help people. You can also share exclusive sneak peeks of your new projects, cover events that you attend, express your company culture, and share about charity events or activities that your business participates in.

As I mentioned above, not all photos need to be real time photos that you take on your smart phone. You can also create quote boxes and images with tips and suggestions to help your ideal clients and them upload them to your Instagram profile. You can share photos that answer frequently asked questions about your business.

You can also use your brief videos to teach or to help people by sharing quick tips that are relevant to your business. You can use them to inspire, and motivate your ideal clients to take action.

TAKE ACTION TODAY

1. Get clear on whether or not Instagram is a good investment of your time online.

2. Sign up and start out by listening and watching how people use Instagram. Follow lots of other coaches to see how they do it.

3. Make targeted connections by following your ideal clients and JV partners.

4. Create a clear plan for what types of photos and videos you want to share, and then get started!

 
Holly Worton helps coaches, holistic practitioners, and women in heart-centered businesses go from confusion to confidence with social media, so they can use it to build relationships online and get more clients. As a heart-centered business owner, you do amazing work, and Holly wants to help you help more people. The way to do that is through Connection, and social media is one of the best ways to connect with others and build your tribe. Sign up for her free 90-minute social media training at SociallyHolistic to start building connections online. Connect with her on Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, Google+, or Instagram.

To Niche or Not to Niche

To Niche or Not to Niche

 

This seems to be the eternal tear-your-hair-out question- and stressor- for coaches these days. We know that the marketplace is saturated with people offering 1:1 work, group programs, and e-courses. That anyone Googling “I want a ______ coach” will find a few thousand options- and that there is an abundance of coaches who love feathers, the word “authenticity”, Clarissa Pinkola Estes quotes, and loving our bodies.

I know, I know. Rub a little sand it in, why doncha.

Business coaches will tell us to “niche”- to find our speciality, the thing that makes us stand out like NO OTHER, and to ride that wave all the way to Six Figureville. To drill down to the specifics of the client we want to work with and speak directly to her. Because otherwise? We become “just another coach”, swimming in a sea of similarity while other people who do the same exact work we do have wait lists and thousands of blog hits.

I’ll come clean: I know I’m hitting on a coach’s sore spot. I’ve felt it. I’ve agonized over it- what the hell IS my niche? Who AM I writing for? How can I make myself stand out in the crowd when there are so many other coaches out there to choose from who have flashier websites and a whole team of marketing experts making them sound amaaaaazing?

Trying to “niche” my business felt like trying to stuff myself into a pencil skirt and heels when what I wanted was bare feet and a summer dress. I mean, let’s be honest- I live in the jungle. Nobody wears pencil skirts around here, and I didn’t choose this lifestyle to pigeonhole myself in order to fit in to some marketing landscape.

Nor did you choose coaching so that you could draw restrictive lines around who you are and what your “niche” is based on your analysis of what “niche” hasn’t been filled yet. In fact, the words “niche” and “brand” feel completely stifling to me. Call me a rebel, call it guerrilla business. Whatever.

It’s about what feels good to me.

Once upon a midsummers eve, it was time for my coaching practice to evolve. But after months and months of journaling, filling out “Ideal Client” profiles, experimenting with different taglines and hashtags and “specialities” (anxiety? perfectionism? body love?), I was frustrated and ready to throw it all out the window. It felt like every angle was already taken and I was SO NOT SPECIAL.

Until I was having a meltdown day where NONE of the words I had so painstakingly brainstormed seemed right, I was floundering trying to rewrite my homepage, and I realized-

All I want to do is live my life and build my business in the way that feels good and right in my heart.

Heart Centered Living.

And there are hundreds, if not thousands, of people out there with the same deep craving. Thus was born my new “niche”: living a Heart Centered Life. The women who work with me speak my language. We realize we’ve read the same books. We’re eachother’s soul sisters, we honor our hearts’ desires, we laugh and cry together, and we tell each other we love each other. And we mean it. I call in women who really resonate with me because I’m showing up as me.

Your potential clients don’t want to see a carefully crafted “I want to stand out from the crowd” identity. They’re smart, burned out on being sold to and they can see straight through something so planned and schemed.

What they want is to know who YOU are. What frequency you’re on, where they might connect with the real you. What you’ve experienced in your life and how that will help them to become better people.

So while Ideal Client worksheets can be helpful as you’re writing sales pages or creating your e-courses… the very heartbeat of your business must emerge more organically than that.

Click to tweet: Your “niche” emerges when you stop strategizing and start being yourself.

So if you’re done with “nicheing” and ready for something that feels a little more like home, try these 3 things:

  1. Read all of your primary website copy- homepage, about page, and offerings page- aloud to yourself. Does it flow like you would normally speak, or does it sound and feel a little off? There are a wide variety of ways your copy could sound ranging from uber-professional to super casual or even cheeky, but it has to sound true to you. Do you really use those words in your coaching and your every day life? If not, can ‘em. Take this mentality into your social media presence too. Is it you?
  2. What are the few core concepts you find yourself constantly coaching or talking about with your friends and clients? Is there a theme or a central desired impact that weaves through all of it? Rather than try to overlay a niche or speciality onto what you do, let the way you work naturally become your niche. If you could give the TED Talk of your life… what would you say?
  3. You’re going to be able to support your clients best- and present the most authentic and real products and presence for them- if you can really understand and resonate with their struggles and successes. This isn’t to say you need to search for your own clones, but consider- what elements of your experience and story are the most inspirational, or helpful, or were the most life-changing for you? Tap into your own deep vulnerabilities, questions, and challenges, and open yourself for your potential clients to connect with those places. From these challenges-turned-strengths will emerge your “speciality”.

Or, shall we say, your “niche”. But maybe we can find a better word. I’m supporting my clients to live from their hearts and their truth. Maybe it’s time for us coaches to do the same.

 

Heather Day is a Transformational Coach, yoga teacher, and a guide for those who seek to live a Heart Centered Life. She helps people who have fallen out of balance to return to center with intuitive and practical tools for body, soul, and lifestyle. You’ll find her eating papaya, teaching yoga and coaching from her home in Costa Rica. Get her free meditation series to overcome fear and find your own Heart Center, and connect with her on Twitter and Facebook.

How to biggify without the hype

How to biggify without the hype

 
A few months ago, a “business and success change agent” reached out to me, desiring a quick Skype chat. The quick Skype chat request is one that I usually resist, because spending more time online than I already do wouldn’t be great self-care.

But, alright. I did the one thing that I typically never do: I ignored the sort of odd “red flag” feeling within me and said yes to the Skype chat.

I got on at the appointed time. She never showed. Of course.

In the 15 minutes that I waited on Skype, just in case she was going to show, I spent time digging around her website, which I hadn’t had the time to do when I’d quickly said yes to the request.

That’s when I realized that this Skype flake-out was a blessing in disguise.

 

Biggify vs. Hype

While I usually believe that most people need help stepping into their greatness, acknowledging themselves for their accomplishments, there is a difference between biggification and hype.

Biggifying yourself is necessary in business and the world of work. When you accomplish something, people want to hear about it! If your felted dolls business became popular on Oprah, but now you’re a life coach and think it’s not relevant to mention that, I’d argue that it’s actually good to share on your website that you had enough creativity and ingenuity to get noticed by Ms. O herself for your felted dolls business.

However, “hype” is about fudging the truth a bit. Hype would be wording things on your site in such a way that people might think that Lady O called you up for coaching advice.

Biggifying yourself is when you leave your corporate job and you make it clear on your website that you increased profits by 15% or were in a directorial position, and that company trusted you to get things handled, and you make it clear to people that there are aspects of those skills that are translatable to the services you provide.

Hype–and this is a big one I see in the coaching world, unfortunately–is working for a corporation in a capacity that has nothing to do with self-promotion forms of marketing, and then saying that you’re experienced as a business coach for small entrepreneurs when you’ve not created a proven track record of being able to land guest posts, rock social media, etc. There is a vast world of difference between working for a corporation that has a well-established brand with that steady bi-weekly paycheck…and confronting the lonely computer screen after starting your first blog that has no traffic yet, wondering what in the world your brand is all about and how anyone will ever notice it, with a savings account that seems to only be getting smaller.

(This isn’t to say that many biz coaches don’t leave the corporate world and hike up their britches and figure out how to rock the online world. The difference is whether one biggifys what they actually accomplished, or hypes things up to make it seem like there’s a ton of direct experience or success in the solopreneur arena, when there isn’t.)

 

Un-Hype This

Back to this Skype chat that never was. Here are a few bits from my experience with Coach Hype:

1.) She had her VA send the email saying she “loved” my work. Looking back, if she loved the work so much, she’d probably send the email, herself. This smacks of the sort of self-importance that lead P.Diddy to hire an umbrella handler in the 90s.
 

2.) She had a website plastered with logos from Fox, Martha Stewart, and NPR. A Google search for this person, who has a very unique name, turned up positively…zilch. Nothing. Not a single link (other than her bio).

It’s obvious that it’s not good to outright lie and put up such logos on your website. I’m hoping that that isn’t the case, here. Perhaps this person had a tenuous, fleeting, one-second interaction with these companies at some point in her life, and now she’s milking that connection, or that for some reason, all of those companies just happen to have deleted every interview with her from their archives. Hmmm….

 
3.) Quoting from the video at the top of her website, “I’m also the best-selling author of the book _______” So I start googling her book, and I find it on Amazon. At that point, I started to wonder if she knew whether or not Amazon provides handy tracking stats on books that can actually verify whether or not your book is a best-seller. This one was not.

As a side note, I realized that her website looked visually similar to Marie Forleo’s website. I’m not talking about a similar color scheme. We’re talking about a whole lotta things looking the same. Additionally, the name of this coach’s upcoming signature program sounded awfully similar to Marie Forleo’s signature program, Rich, Happy, and Hot, both in title and content. Finally, the coach claims to be a seven-figure earner, but there were astonishingly few comments or social media shares of her blog posts. Of course, I don’t have her tax records, but usually seven-figure earners have raving fans who lurrrrve to interact with them and share away, not blog post after blog post with zero comments.

 

Fudging

This is not the only example that I’ve seen of this, lately.

I’ve received emails in which someone said that they had 20, 30, 50-thousand subscribers to their newsletter. They had no social media following to speak of, conveniently. The one number that no one can verify–their newsletter subscribers–is the one number that is gargantuan, with no other indications of a platform that supports that number. Hmmm.

Or perhaps the invitations to be part of a “platform of [insert huge number] of users,” with that huge number actually reflecting the total number of people who know what a podcast is, not necessarily the total number of actual subscribers that you have for your particular podcast.

You can’t say that because you’ve created an app for iPhone users, that the audience for your app is “14 million people” because that was the number of iPhones sold in 2010. At least, you can’t say that and actually be honest. That’s fudging. An audience shows up for an event at an appointed time; an audience is not all the potential humans on earth who could have potentially bought a ticket for an event.

 

Biggify yourself: An Exercise

I’m trusting that you don’t do any of this. I’m sharing these details in part because I want to show you what to be on the lookout for when someone’s potentially hyping something up, and it doesn’t quite stand alone.

I know that you, Dear Reader, want to earn your credentials, not kinda-sorta fudge them. You might even have a wee touch of the Imposter Complex. I get it. You cringe at the thought of ever being “that coach” who hypes up something.

So here’s an exercise to biggify, without the hype:

Challenge #1: Consider the three clients you’ve most loved working with. What were 3 outcomes from working with you that you can say, with reasonable certainty, they achieved? Think in terms of the tangible (X number of dollars in increased income) and intangible (they reported to you that they felt less reactive and more confident).

Now ask yourself: Are you telling people, clearly, that these are potential outcomes of working with you?

Challenge #2: Connect with clients from a few months or years ago. How are they doing? What’s been the most important takeaway from your time with them?

Now ask yourself: Are you telling people, clearly, that these are the potential long-term outcomes of working with you?

Challenge #3: Have you been published, online? Are you part of any groups? What did you do in your last job? Or is there genius for you to claim in having been a bohemian spirit who did things totally and wholly her own way, outside of the school/monetary/rack up awards and accomplishments system?

Now ask yourself: Are you letting that show up as a celebration in your online space?

 

Of course, tell people the truth of what you’ve created. If you’ve only cultivated small potatoes, so far, then tell the truth about your small potatoes and pair it with your passion and make it clear that you’re ready and willing to learn more and hone your skills.

HAPPY SELF PROMOTION = RADIATE your passion + STATE THE FACTS of what that passion generates – the results it brings for you and your customers.
Danielle LaPorte

 
Kate Swoboda (aka Kate Courageous) is a life coach who teaches people how to work with fear and practice courage. She’s the founder of www.CoachingBlueprint.com and creator of the Coaching Blueprint digital program.