When a Plan Comes Together

In the writer’s chair today, you may imagine a woman whose brain is just taking the break that she seemingly needs. I’m kind of unproductive today a state that always bothers me. There’s a lot to be sorted out and a lot on my mind, and usually I’m able to create a lot of content and value at quite a clippy pace so maybe it’s time to take that break and view what’s going on.

  • Personal Life is going on, yo!

Today it’s 9 days until my wedding day, which means there are 8 days to get everything tucked away and ready, and the sense of tension is rising hugely. This morning I posted the invitations for our second wedding which is taking place later this year in Germany. They look awesome, C really did an amazing job designing them and they’re bilingual too. With such an important event looming on the horizon, it’s almost too easy to get lost in worrying ahead and forgetting about the big event that’s right in front of me! Of course I’m also keen to work hard and produce everything I want to produce, and the to-do list is one higgeldy piggeldy chaos of wedding things, work things, life things. It’s BIG STUFF.

Right now, hang on..I just have to take a second to add a few to-dos.

Just in case you’re interested, we planned our wedding ourselves and used Trello and Google Docs extensively.

  • Savvy Brand Bounced Back

In my last post on this blog that follows my personal and business and both journey, I shared the experience of an unsuccessful launch and how I ended up moving on from it. I created the Savvy Brand Toolkit because I wanted to keep offering the value and helpful notes that I know my course offered, but without freaking out about no one turning up on a specific sign-up deadline. Overall, the sales have been pretty positive for the last 2 months. I organised a live Facebook event to support more teachers and also shared my knowledge of practical teaching matters over at Udemy in a new course called Live Lesson Strategies for Online Teaching. Both of this had two really great effects on me: First of all I felt a return of my mojo and enthusiasm for helping online teachers through my experience. Secondly, I felt that sharing more of my knowledge and experience really helped me consolidate the brand.

The most important move I conducted was a shift back to Fluent, my core website about language learning and personal development. I simply took the Savvy Brand Toolkit and started talking about it on that website, and the teachers in my audience were very grateful, and AFAIK none of the language teachers took offence. This helps me become a more authentic language blogger, since I’ve been writing from the tutor’s perspective for years.

  • I’m an Educator, Still

Of course live services still form the heart of my work, and I’m feeling a strong pull to online education. I want to keep supporting live teachers and reach out to the thousands of people who are currently creating online courses about all kinds of great topics. After speaking to an inspiring friend who confessed to taking weeks of agonizing over a simple workshop, I realised that this is an area where I can and I want to help people! I’m a pretty good knowledge organizer and project manager, making me suitable for working with books and online courses. Obviously, I’m on number 6 of those in just over 2 years by now, and I don’t want others to stand in their own way when they could be reaching out and teaching already. In the past, I was very curious about becoming an online course consultant but I was intimidated by established big names in the field. But now the time feels more suitable, and I have a better sense of the market holding a little space for me. I have some packages and test clients ready, and a wonderful strategy for them that the amazing Audra Wilke helped me build. I’m ready for business and feeling pretty positive about this, so watch this space and contact me if you want to get in early.

That was kind of my speedy update. The challenge for this month is still course production and marketing, boosting my Udemy portfolio and revenue and looking into the best options for selling courses in the future. I’ll keep you posted..

Money and Mindset

The next post I want to post on this blog will be one that returns to my goal setting practice, as I’ve gone through most of the book launch now and I think I’ve achieved quite a decent growth in “notoriety” (lol) as well as growth in my brand. In other words, more people now know who I am on the internet and that’s good because I write stuff I want them to buy, read and use.

But let’s take a little step back for the benefit of you, poor reader who’s found yourself reading my blog all about my life out here in the North. Well, what can I say? The last two months or so have been tough work, but focused and ultimately effective. I’ve put hours and hours into writing the new book, then editing, rewriting, promoting, guest blogging, talking and all the while through BELIEVING IN IT. And I’ve really enjoyed myself with all this. Self-publishing a book is an amazing adventure to go through, something that really goes a bit down to the core of what you are doing and why. It demands discipline in writing the damn thing (remind me never to say “I’m writing a book!” again, please?), confidence in promoting it all and resourcefulness in doing all the jobs a publisher would do. The payoff is independence – I get to be the boss here. It’s my thing, and no one can say it’s not good enough.

I have put more money into this one than I could even imagine. It’s still not unrealistic amounts, but significant enough to make me raise an eyebrow and hesitate before committing. And what does that mean? I thought about money recently. About my own hesitation to invest, so many times. I have paid a professional designer to create me an illustration for the book cover, and I cannot tell you how much I love the result. I have hired a professional voice artist to read the audiobook version. Again, she is awesome. It makes an enormous difference to my product when I invest, but every time I do, my mind is like “WHAT IF I NEVER SEE ANY OF THIS MONEY AGAIN EVER?” And I have found myself wondering why I ask that. Why is it that it feels like I’m not investing but wasting? And the answer is this: I don’t believe in my product enough. I don’t believe in myself enough to think I can produce something awesome. And once I realised that, I began to calm down a little bit. Because ultimately, I know I produce the best quality I possibly can. And I’m writing about what I really know about…I’m not a hack pretending I’ve discovered the answer to gardening or rocket science, I’m a linguist writing about language learning. And to be honest, based on the questions people ask (thank you 50 Calls Project!), I know I’m doing something useful.

Based on a recognition like that, things have become a little easier. It feels no longer like I am bugging people to reimburse me for my silly investment in an air bubble. Instead, I’m beginning to feel a new sense of happiness about being able to share a thing I wrote that is going to help people out and be a little bit awesome. It’s not big yet, but it’s bigger and better than the first one.

For the month of August, I am taking a break from language teaching and instead focusing on a course with Boost Business Lancashire (free training in how to become a huge entrepreneur…I hope that means huge in weight?) and on finalising, promoting and publishing both my new books.

I have not given up on incorporating my interest in marketing in my future work, and have started talking to more and more language teachers about their kinds of needs. But I also recognise that I have too many irons in the fire and I’m struggling to commit to any one thing, which is not going to produce best results. Just as with the money, time is another investment, right? Keeping all my options open throughout 2014 hasn’t produced near as much as putting the focus onto a book for even a part of the year. So my main goal for all of August is this:

Cut work that I do not find fulfilling.

Energised Post of Learning and Optimism

Ahh, there’s something about doing a lot of writing in the day job that really doesn’t lend itself to “leisure blogging” sometimes, but hey guys here I am! I’ve returned from my great US trip motivated and energised, and just strongly hoping that I’m gonna be able to keep this up. The therapeutic effects of a conference like Pioneer Nation just must be explained for a second: I honestly felt like this place was the first time I found myself in a room full of people who are (kind of) just like me. We don’t like having a boss, we have an urge to make or create things, we want to see stuff get better, and it’s just…I always thought those were the weird things about me. If you haven’t picked up on this from reading my blog yet, then let me tell you: I love finding a fault in myself. When things went “to plan” in my life, this wasn’t really too disabling. I was okay with just ploughing on and staying in the belief that I’m probably a bit rubbish, but no one’s really noticed yet. But then things started going more wrong – my workload increased and increased, and like a true little trooper I tried to keep up, until I broke. The bosses were happy to go along with me blaming me. Now I’m the boss and need to remember this is a pattern I’m liable to repeat.

I’m forever learning more about how it’s okay to be just okay, not amazing all the time. And that this is part of accepting something else: If I have a personality that is vocal, enthusiastic in happiness (and sadness), creative (but flighty) and really quick at drawing conclusions (but indecisive), then that is also okay. That’s me. Being in this conference made me feel validated, happy and supported, and I need to carry it into everyday life.

Now that I’m returning to the UK, I’m really trying to make notes and draw conclusions about what I want from life. One aspect of seeing so many self-employed people who have made a living doing things that they’re best at was that I am sort of beginning to feel like I am approaching the point of knowing what else I’m good for besides teaching German.

So anyway, this is a ramble and what I want to get to is also the GOALS update of course! Let’s plough through these – some amazing things are happening.

Main guidelines for 2014, as learnt on this trip

  • I need to make myself happy first
  • That means doing things that make me happy
  • And not judging those things
  • And that means not telling myself I “should be working” or “should not be spending money on this”

Goal updates

1) Online Business

Well, this one has been massively interesting. Obviously, Pioneer Nation was full of training and information about all sorts of online business aspects. There were course creation, info products, sales pages, you name it. And I did a thing I’ve not really done before: I asked someone else to look at my website and critique it! What could’ve been more useful than someone else asking me “What do you want people to do when they see your website?” MAN! So useful. I love it. And the strangest thing is, once I had thought about it from that point of view and put some changes in (I want people to sign up to my mailing list first and foremost, and secondly I want them to ask me to teach them German), the tinkering level went down. So in other words, that bit was good.

This also means that the affiliate adverts went away. I had not even realised how much I was distracting people from the heart of what I’m doing – and essentially how I was putting other people’s products ahead of anything I could come out with. Guess why? Yep. My thought default is that I’m crap. Say “impostor complex”, will you?

2) Blogging Training

Shine Online is probably more of a “Lights Out Offline”, in other words we’ll have to cut our losses and move on. I’ve already dealt with any thoughts about whether someone like me can lead courses like that and decided that yes, I can, so at this stage I honestly don’t feel too bad. The course set-up was complicated and today I saw some serious admin problems on the host’s side of things that just could not have been fixed unless I was holding the event myself. I won’t go into too much detail, except to say that both trainers have been left pretty disappointed, and not about the sign up rates. I have learnt something useful which is that it’s better to be in charge of your own crap sometimes. I will tell my inner Type A person. She’ll be pleased.

BUT BUT BUT, wait, let me tell you the good news. I am recruiting for a small online seminar, which I truly am in charge of all by myself. It’s called Fresh Content. I’ve got only 2 places left on it, which means great things, and is something I came up with after talking to people and getting a feel for what sounded good to them. I’m really nervous about it, because I think the audience for this one is full of extremely brilliant people, and also because I’ve not led an online seminar before. But what this means is that I have basically created something, promoted it and had a decent level of success in under 4 weeks.

3) The thing with Sam..

Well, the thing is the thing that had to go away to make space for all the other stuff.

4) Home Working

I’ll be damned if I had more than 3 days off in the last month, but at the same time my working rhythm while on the trip was better than ever. I’m good at evening work and will often get going from 7-10pm. I took afternoons off to go and discover new places, slept in quite late and worked from lots of different places on the laptop. In fact, this all worked so much better than sitting in the home office every day, that I’m making a commitment to taking the computer to all sorts of places in the future. Mobile working seems to suit me right now.

In May, one of my core goals will revolve around doing more justice to the thing that I enjoy so much which is basically brainstorming and getting things started. I have not had the confidence so far of proclaiming “I’m great at this” and thinking about what that can mean in terms of career prospects, so let’s see what…er…crystallises.

Still reading? WOW! It’s clear you are one of my true friends. I’ll buy you a drink if you comment on this. A £7 cocktail even.