Bullwinkle is the patron saint of entrepreneurs.

“I should write an article about that.” I say. Sometimes the idea I have just expressed is big enough to write an entire article about, and I do. Sometimes it’s more of a bijou idea that wouldn’t make a whole article. Here’s a few of the smaller ones.

Bullwinkle J. Moose is the patron saint of entrepreneurs.

“Hey Rocky, watch me pull a rabbit out of my hat!”

“Again? But that trick never works.”

“This time fer sure!”

[Of course I do the voices.]

Bullwinkle has been trying this for ages, with no success. He’s pulled lions and rhinos and everything except a rabbit out of that hat.

But his faith is unshakeable. This time it’s gonna work. (You know, that Churchill quote: “Success consists of going from failure to failure without loss of enthusiasm.”)

I know it’s tiring to be trying a different tack AGAIN. Channel Bullwinkle.

“This time for sure!”

Leave an edge open.

I don’t think we need to pin that part down yet. This idea is too new – we need to leave some edges open for it to grow.

You don’t want to do that thing where you make everything fit… just… so and then you realise, “Woop, it needs to be 20% bigger.”

CRAAAAAP.

I’ve done that with reshelving books. You get everything in and then you find five more of them. I’ve given away books just so everything would fit, which is dumb. If I’d left a shelf available I would have been fine.

Price is always subjective.

Some people are telling you your prices are too high. But you have to remember, they’re not expressing a Universal Truth About Pricing. Price is always completely subjective. All they’re really saying is, “Your prices are too high for me.”

I mean, we both know your prices are on the low side of normal. So it’s not that you have the wrong prices, you just have the wrong potential clients.

There will be some people who think 50c an hour is too much for your work. You could never drop your prices enough to make them happy.

The right clients always want to pay you full price. They might not be able to, but they really, really wanna.

Your prices are fine. Let’s talk about attracting the right clients.

Like this new experimental format? Please come tell me in the comments!

Amazing testimonials and how to get ’em.

The Pilot Light is filling up again, and so I asked some of the previous cohorts to provide a testimonial if they felt the desire to. This is one of the spectacular responses I received.

I’ll admit that I had to be talked into joining The Pilot Light. Not because I hadn’t been haunting the sales page for two weeks (I had) or because I don’t like Catherine’s style (I love it), but because I honestly didn’t think my business was worth the investment.

I’d just started – The Headologist was less than six months old – and I felt tiny, lost, and confused. I had no clients, no for-sale products, and no prospects. How the hell would 11 weeks of group work (which I avoided like the plague in university) make little ol’ me into Big Bad Me? “No matter how great Catherine is,” I thought, “there’s no way I’m the right person for this.”

Which is precisely why I signed up.

Looking back, I can see where I was standing when I enrolled: At the start of my second business spiral, in the ARGH EVERYTHING SUCKS phase. The Pilot Light was actually exactly where I needed to be.

I was surrounded by truly amazing entrepreneurs and led by my fairy blogmother. I was inundated with support, succor, and spreadsheets (the good kind). I was given the tools I needed to set the concrete foundations I’d poured for myself. In short, it was another good thing I’d fought against for apparently no reason.

All of us struggled with the big stuff – the Why, Who, What, and How of our business – but putting our heads together every week and crying and cheering together made it not just bearable, but wonderful. To know you’re not alone in your story is so powerful. To know you’re all in it for the long haul and there’s a guardian angel watching out for you, even more so.

Personally, I had a monster breakthrough around the end of the official course. I’d come up with this amazing idea for a spring cleaning course, but I couldn’t figure out how to market it. I’d literally had breakdowns about writing copy before – I had no idea how to go about selling the damn thing without going nuts.

Catherine and I talked for an hour about the inside and outside of Inside Outside, even 10 minutes or so saying, “That needs to go in! There’s a marketing line right there.” I took the recording and hammered out the best sales page I’d ever written.

And now I know how to do marketing.

It sounds almost trite how simple it is. But that’s what happened. It took me the whole run of the course to break that barrier, but I absolutely needed it – without putting in the time, effort, energy, love, and tears that Pilot Light draws on, I wouldn’t have been able to put the pieces together and find my marketing style in that flash of nerd-laced lightning.

My fellow quirkypreneurs, this shit is for you. It’s part classroom, part group therapy, part laboratory, part hermit-in-a-cave, and all magnificent. Bring the broken bits of your business and your Self to this work table and walk away with your toys intact, better than you ever dreamed.

Ellie Di, the headologist

Ah, that is fantastic.

(And so is Ellie. Should you need the hob-nailed boot of tough love, you should definitely check out her practical resources and coaching.)

But how did I get a testimonial that amazing?

Well, firstly I make fantastic offerings.

Secondly, I only sell them to gobsmackingly amazing people.

This sounds a bit simplistic, but it is definitely the biggest and hardest part.

The third part is to make it easy for these gobsmackingly amazing people to talk well about your fantastic offerings.

And that is where a good template comes in VERY handy.

What does a good template look like?

There’s no universal answer. But I’ll show you mine if you like.

Darlingheart!

If you like structure, here is a nifty format for testimonials. The goal is a story of your transformative journey, and also some quotable lines and phrases that I can pull out and use by themselves. (There are examples!)

1. What was your physical and emotional situation before we began the work? (“I had a waiting list as long as my arm, but no desire to do any of the work on it.”)

2. What was your biggest concern or sticking point about working with me on this? (“I was skeptical that Catherine could get me unstuck in just half an hour, but I was desperate enough to try anything.”)

3. What surprised you most about our work? (“I really wasn’t expecting to laugh as much as we did.”)

4. What changed for you during our work together? (“I could see how many restrictions I had put on myself that made no sense. No wonder I was so miserable!”)

5. In what tangible ways is your situation different – better, I hope! – now? (“I have fallen in love with my business again. My son says that he’s happy to see my teeth again. He means that I’m smiling!”)

6. Who would you recommend this offering to? (“If you’re an artisan who has lost their love for their craft in the busy-ness of business, you need this.”)

And lastly, please let us know how you’d prefer us to link to you!

Your name and title
Your URL
A link to a photo of you

Thank you very much for doing this. You are wonderful.

The result? Amazing testimonials.

If you’d like to adapt my template for your own use, go right ahead.

If you’d like to be one of the people writing testimonials like this in a few months, then you should go right ahead and put in an application for The Pilot Light. It really is as transformative as Ellie says.

photo by: Kisså

I have a confession to make.

I have sucked at affiliate marketing.

I’ve done an adequate job of buying through affiliates, a mediocre job of recommending affiliate offerings, and a dreadful job of managing my own affiliates.

Why?

And why did it take me two years to even ask that question?

When I began this business, I installed the Industry Default Affiliate Program.

It works like this:

  1. Configure your shopping cart to pay a commission when someone buys your offerings using an affiliate link.
  2. Write an affiliate signup page explaining the process and how much the affiliate will be paid.
  3. People sign up to the affiliate program and promote your offerings.
  4. Someone buys through the affiliate link.
  5. You pay the affiliate.

There is one extra common wrinkle in this standard process, which is:

  1. Send emails to your affiliates when you have a course or special offering coming out, letting them know it’s a good time to promote your work.

This is a logical and highly functional system. The buyer wins, because they were introduced to a resource that will benefit them. The affiliate wins, because they made money recommending a wonderful resource. The seller wins, because they made more money selling their wonderful resource.

Everyone wins! What could possibly be wrong here?

It’s just… well. There are lots of people giving affiliate marketing a bad name.

  • Promoting resources that are NOT wonderful, in order to “monetize” – what an ugly word that is – their website.
  • Relentlessly pushing wonderful resources on people who won’t benefit from them/don’t need them/are vulnerable to the hard sell.
  • The feeding frenzies created when everyone wants to promote the same high-paying resource.

That kind of affiliate marketing is graspy and angry and fraught. And it’s freaking everywhere.

But that isn’t the deeper problem.

It’s solvable: if you’re selective about whose work you promote, and vigilant about Never Promoting From Desperation, then your affiliate dealings will stay clean.

It’s not inevitable that you turn into a scumbag just because you work within the affiliate system.

For me, it was worse than that.

Even when I was promoting resources I genuinely believed were wonderful – INCLUDING MY OWN – to people who would be a great match for them, the affiliate relationship has always felt… insubstantial. Flavourless. Meh.

I was discussing this with my wonderful sister/assistant (assisterant?) Ash. With her help, I finally realised why I have never been a fan of affiliate marketing. Even when it’s made me $2,000 in a month.

I said, “Affiliate marketing is entirely transactional. It’s all cash, and no joy.”

Oh. OHHHHH. Well, duh.

There is nothing in my business that I do just for the cash.

I am adamant about wanting cash AND joy for me, and for everyone this business touches.

And affiliate marketing – most especially and damningly my own affiliate program – has failed at that.

It is not enough to say, “Sell my stuff, you will make good money.”

I need to say, “Let’s make amazing things happen. You will make money from them, too.”

First the joy, then the cash. Do my affiliate marketing like I do the rest of my business. Riiiiight.

Announcing: the new and improved affiliate program that totally does not suck this time.

My goals:

  1. To rock our affiliates’ worlds with great information and resources and possibly cupcakes.
  2. To help our affiliates to rock the world of their people.
  3. To connect the work I do to more people who need and value it.
  4. To make extra money for me and my affiliates doing it.

Sign up to the new and improved affiliate program and you will receive:

A monthly newsletter just for our affiliates. It will have resources and recommendations: articles, free amazingness and paid resources to share with your readers.

Sometimes, I’ll create a free resource – a teleclass or workbook – just for you to share.

You’ll have my undivided attention as you tell me what your clients – and you! – are struggling with.

Input into which resources I create next.

And, of course, opportunities to make money by doing so.

WIN.

An actual affiliate relationship, by jingo!

You and me and Ash, working together to create awesomeness for your people.

And making money by doing so.

Good god, I feel so much better about it already.

You too? Sign up today!

And let’s create a new kind of affiliate marketing.

photo by: sidewalk flying

Dandelions and saplings

You’ve got dandelions, you see, and you’ve got saplings. And them two things are just real different.

A dandelion, well you puff up your lips and you huff out your breath and you blow, man. Whooa! out your breath comes and them dandelion seeds they put on a parachute and they fly away, up and over the roof and over the head of that damn barkin dog and maybe they get into a fender-bender with the big gum tree there or maybe they float on to who knows where? I don’t.

And a sapling, right, a sapling you first gotta dig it a right-size hole and put in the right fertiliser and worm tea and whatnot and then you gotta take the pot in one hand and the sapling in the other and squeeze it and shake it and pull it outta that pot and riffle them roots and you realise that you made the hole too deep and so you fix that and you careful, careful put it in and pat the earth around and you water it, all that. And then you gotta come back with the water and the worm tea and y’garden gloves and y’weeder, every day for pretty much ever, tending that sapling until it’s big enough to mind its own business. And even then you gotta come back visitin pretty often.

So you got y’dandelions and you got y’saplings. You got that in your head?

Okay, so here’s where I’m drivin at. You don’t wanna get them two mixed up. You don’t wanna put down hundreds of saplings and then just ignore ’em. You see the council do that when they fix up a park, and it’s a cryin shame. Two weeks later most of them saplings’ll be limp or dead. Council don’t care about ’em, they’re okay with most of them saplings dyin so long as some of ’em make it through. But it ain’t the way to raise your garden, is it? If you go through the effort to plant a sapling, you gotta be prepared to make the effort to look after the damn thing.

And likewise, if you got dandelions then you don’t wanna care much about ’em. You don’t wanna tag each one and pin y’hopes on it, say, Hey number 27, lookin fine! You gonna be the one that makes it! cos most of them flat-out won’t. Most of them dandelion seeds will end up in a crack in the concrete somewhere, or in a gutter, somewhere they got no chance of growin. And half the few that make it to dirt will end up somewhere they ain’t wanted, and some proud lawn owner will pull ’em up and stamp on ’em. You send out a thousand dandelions, you might get ten that make it. Save your breath to puff out more, that’s the best bet with dandelions.

What am I drivin at? Whoo, the manners on you!

Well, you come out here and chatter at me while I’m weedin and I like the company so it’s just fine to me to hear about all this stuff I don’t en-tirely understand, like “scheduled tweets” and “mailin lists” and “webinars” and such. It’s innerestin, better than listenin to that damned dog bark every time I get near his precious fence – shut up, ya damn mutt! – so like I said, I don’t pretend to understand a lot of what you’re drivin at, but I get the jist… you sit at that fancy black computer and you send out things over that Internet you keep sayin you’re gonna show me one day. And I’m just wonderin if you know which of them things you put out there are saplings, and which of ’em are dandelions.

Just some food for thought. It’s prob’ly nothin.

Hand me that worm tea, wouldja?

If you want to improve your dandelion production, or grow healthier saplings – or both! –  the Lighthouse is full of resources to help.