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Do you have a beauty routine?

I totally do!

I’ve got a few tried-and-true shades of eyeshadow I use, the same lip gloss and a once-over with foundation, and I can pull myself together in 10 minutes or less. I may not have a creative new look each week, but I’m put together. When you see me, you know what to expect and you recognize my look.

I well remember the days of awkward middle school and high school Beth Anne experimenting with 20 different hairstyles and 50 different shades of eyeshadow and lip gloss. Getting ready took me FOREVER because I had no idea what worked. Beauty was a great big experiment.

And, clearly others noticed my experiments too because a popular kid in 9th grade called me Mimi! (The crazy lady from the Drew Carey show with garish makeup!)

I’m so glad I figured out a simple beauty routine that helps me put myself together in a snap, feel confident, and NOT get called names.

I’ve got a simple beauty routine for my business too! (Because I’m pretty sure I’d ugly cry into my coffee if someone told me my website reminded them of Mimi!)

My Business Beauty Routine Starts with:
  1. A signature color scheme and font pairing. (Learn tips on finding yours here!)
  2. Signature photo backdrops and props. (See what a difference these make!)
  3. A set photo editing style.
  4. Photoshop Templates so I can pull this look together in a snap for Pinterest Pins, Blog Cover Photos, Freebie Graphics, and Facebook Posts.
Let’s talk about Photoshop Templates (aka your 10-minute beauty routine!) With a Photoshop Template you can:
  • Pre-load your signature fonts.
  • Automatically edit each photo in the same way.
  • Make each photo the same size (hello Pinterest, Instagram, and Facebook templates!)
  • Add in a signature frame, border, or color block.
  • Create a new, gorgeous graphic for your biz in a snap.

Here are some pins that Ellen (my brand’s secret weapon!) created with a template.

And some pins I created (Mimi-style!) using Picmonkey before I knew what I was doing and every graphic was a massively long, painful experiment!

And here’s how templates make sharing podcast interviews on Instagram and Facebook a snap!

With a template, Ellen just inserts the interviewee’s photo and the podcast title and she’s done! The end result is beautiful, branded, and comes together in 100 seconds or less!

Without a template, I spent 30 minutes or more on each podcast cover graphic — trying to match my label colors to the interviewee’s photos, always testing new fonts, manually centering each word on each line, trying to blur color blocks to make it look more artsy, and the end result was that Brilliant Business Moms felt like a completely different brand each and every week, and I was spending WAY more time to achieve those inconsistent looks!

Do you have a 10-minute business beauty routine?

If not, it’s time to create one using a Photoshop Template!

Get your FREE template by clicking right here!

(And here's a link to grab Photoshop if you don't have it already)

Until then, be brilliant, and make that biz of yours beautiful!


The post Your Business Beauty Routine (Plus a FREE Photoshop Template for Pinterest!) appeared first on Brilliant Business Moms.

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I get questions all the time about how I create beautiful graphics, where I find my fonts, and how I pull my brand together so that it feels like “Brilliant Business Moms” anywhere I go online. And I get it – for some business owners, putting together a brand is way harder than creating the products you love!

So for the next couple of weeks, I’m going to share a lot of my branding insider tips with you!

But I want to start with some encouragement: I didn’t use to be this pretty.

If your brand is feeling a bit scattered and blah, it’s ok. I’ve been there too! Here’s some proof:

These were the early, early days of Brilliant Business Moms. Notice the use of about 7 different fonts, vintage photo filters, labels in different shapes and sizes, stock photos that don’t tell a consistent story, and many different colors!

Maybe in the past when you heard the word “brand” you immediately pulled away towards something more exciting like “traffic and followers”. If that’s you, slow your roll for a minute.

  • If you’ve had trouble getting your visitors to turn into customers, chances are you’ve got a branding problem.
  • If your posts on social media never get much of a response, you likely haven’t figured out how to put your business in the best light online (i.e. you’ve got a branding problem!)
  • And if you find yourself constantly frustrated that your taste is 100 miles ahead of your skill level… well I’ve got some solutions to help you close that gap too!
For now, let’s start our business branding discussion with small steps; let’s chat about fonts and color schemes.

Here’s the temptation as enthusiastic, creative business owners… we LOVE to try new things!

We see a trendy new font and we can’t help but give it a whirl!

We discover the Pantone color of the year and are convinced we should incorporate it into our site!

And, before we know it, we’ve got 10 fonts and 50 colors swirling around. And while it might make our hearts really excited and happy, it makes our site visitors and social media followers feel really confused and overwhelmed.

Take a look at my collage of vintage BBM posts and graphics above. It’s busy and confusing and it doesn’t convey a clear message about who we are and what we stand for. How long would you want to hang out on a site with all of those fonts, colors, and styles swirling?

When you have a confusing, overwhelming, all-over-the-place brand, this is what your visitors and followers are thinking:

“Just what IS this business all about? Is their style simple and classic or modern and funky? Are they trying to be bright and fun or soft and feminine? I can’t figure them out!”

And while you might think that your fonts and colors only tell a tiny piece of your story, your potential customers see things differently. Those fonts and colors are the first thing they notice when they stop in for a visit.

Those fonts and colors tell an entire story’s worth to them, and they need to be true to who you are as a person and what you want your business to represent.

Lucky for me, I’m fancy, friendly and feminine just like my brand online. But truth be told, a lot of my branding choices are based on my signature product — my Brilliant Life Planner. Since my planner is fancy and feminine with a lot of heart and feeling behind it, I know the rest of my brand needs to feel the same way.

Muted colors and strong, bold fonts just don’t work for me. Neither does simple and understated! Give me girly to the max with a whole lotta flourish and fun!

But…I see a lot of biz owners adopting whatever is trendy at the moment when their brand might be super practical, down-to-earth, or rustic and homespun. The trend at the moment doesn’t fit who they are and it definitely doesn’t jive with their products.

There’s no need to create a fancy-scripted, floral-embellished logo if it doesn’t fit your brand.

See, for me, I’ll still be floral, fancy, and feminine 10 years from now when everyone else has moved on. It’s who I am at my core! But for you, you’ll need to decide who YOU’LL be even when the trends have moved on to other things.

If you’re completely unsure of who you are or what you should be, I’ve got a Brilliant Style Guide that’s yours for FREE to help you out. Click right here to get the guide!

There are 15 different color scheme ideas and font pairing ideas. Here are a few examples:

Peruse that guide, and then take a look at some of my favorite sources for fabulous fonts online:

Creative Market


Google Fonts

And my favorite place for color scheme ideas:


And then decide who you’re going to be online! What does your brand represent? What do you want your products to convey to people?

Pick a font pairing and a color scheme and stick with it, my friend! That’s how you’ll start to tell a beautiful story about your business online.

I'd love to know what you pick! Just leave your choice in the comments. And I'll be back soon with ideas on creating gorgeous photos — the next step in telling your beautiful story!

Now it’s your turn to head out there and Be Brilliant!

P.S. Don't forget to grab your FREE style guide here!

Want to see a business owner's brand in action? Check out this post:
Building a Wildly Successful Brand with Molly Goodall

The post Insider Tips on Branding your Business (With a Free Style Guide!) appeared first on Brilliant Business Moms.

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Surprise! I’ve got another team member on the podcast for you. This will be our last podcast episode of 2017, and we’ll be taking a break in January.

Just like you, we’re looking forward to some white space to reflect and plan out a brilliant new year!(Awwww! Don’t miss us too much! You can always listen back to old episodes in the meantime.)

Victoria’s thoughts will be a great way to end 2017. She shares some fabulous ways to honor your own boundaries and prevent burnout in your life. As you plan for 2018, I hope you’ll keep these thoughts in mind.

To get a head start on setting your own boundaries and goals, head to: bit.ly/blpprintables

Press play below to hear from Victoria!

Especially around the holidays and heading into the New Year, our schedules are suddenly fuller than we thought they’d be….aaaaaaand we’re pulling our hair out!

But maybe you’ve been living with this kind of harried anxiety for quite some time now. Maybe you’ve been committed to overwhelm for so long that frantic just feels normal.

Maybe you’re even starting to feel those effects in your own body, with headaches, upset stomach, fatigue, or brain fog. I’ve got to tell you, those are classic signs of burnout.

And if you’ve been there, I have, too.

2017 has been a bit of a painful growing year for my family and I. (We’re friends, right? Let’s just cut it straight.) About March we realized I was burning out and heading down a really scary road of health complications. It’s taken a year of rearranging life and schedules, reordering eating habits and priorities, and even pursuing counseling to walk the road to recovery.

I feel obliged to let you know about the resource that really helped me this year. It’s a companion book set by Scottish Pastor David Murray and his medical doctor wife, Shona. Reset: Living a Grace-Paced Life in a Burnout Culture*. This book is directed toward men, and Refresh: Embracing a Grace-Paced Life in a World of Endless Demands*, is the counterpart written to women. Also, did I mention they’re Scottish!? I have a special affinity for Scottish accents. They make my heart pitter-patter. And you can hear David and Shona’s beautiful voices in this really wonderful sit-down interview.

To give you a quick update before continuing (if you’re the kind of person who will be wondering!) our family is feeling especially blessed and hopeful of the healing that’s taken place. Almost in confirmation of the work we’ve been doing, I found out I’m expecting Baby #3 this Fall! We are grateful to God for stopping us in our tracks and granting the wisdom to see how to course correct.

What I want to share with you are 3 perspectives that have helped me stop my hectic life pace and start focusing on what really matters.

Keep in mind, I’m a work in progress just like you are. Please, pretty please, do not listen to this episode and think, “Wow! Victoria really has her ducks in a row!” As the viral saying goes, it’s more like I have squirrels and they are at a rave.

I’m reminding myself of these perspectives over…and over…and over again. Sometimes I hit the mark; a lot of times I don’t. But I’m closer than I was before, and that’s what matters.

3 Perspectives to Prevent Burnout and Live Intentionally 1) Swap FOMO for JOMO

I have to give credit to Christy Wright for the phrase JOMO, ‘Joy Of Missing Out’. So often we focus on what we’re leaving behind or missing when we say no or step back. Christy says that’s the wrong place to set your attention! Focus instead on what you’re gaining.

A few examples:

  • Instead of hustling to accept that Moms Night Out invite with casual acquaintances, you might instead get the joy of a relaxing night at home with your husband – you remember, that guy you ACTUALLY know really well.
  • Eliminate some extracurricular activities so many kids join these days. Sure, they might be genuinely fun and enriching to your child. But if you say no (or even say yes to just one) you won’t become an Uber driver for your kid and you’ll get the joy of eating dinner face-to-face with your family.
  • Choose not to catch up with every latest episode of all the hot new TVs shows means you might miss out on some pop culture conversation, but you’ll have the joy of knowing you’re making progress towards your business goals – or finishing that home project you’ve been dying to do.
2) Boundaries aren’t Bad

We all live under a set of boundaries. (Don’t believe me? Hello, gravity! See? Boundaries aren’t all that bad.) The thing is if you don’t set your own boundaries, you’ll be scrambling to live life under someone else’s idea of how you should spend your time, money, and energy. I don’t know about you, but I want to be in control of my life!

Setting boundaries really is almost the easy part. It’s actually enforcing them that’s tough. And for starters, we’ve got a great post on the Brilliant Business Moms blog about how to say no if you can’t ever seem to find the right words.

Two concrete examples I can give you about how I set my boundaries are with my work schedule and our family finances:

  • I schedule my working time each week, largely around when I have childcare available. When I get a new assignment, I try my best to estimate when it will be done according to my work week. When I’m working, I’m working. And when I’m not, I’m not! I don’t feel the rush to drop everything and work the moment I get that email notification. I have the freedom to say, “I got this project, thank you! I will next be working tomorrow at 9am and will start on it then.”
  • Our family has been on a written budget for over a solid year now. Those financial boundaries mean for example, that we have X-amount allotted for gas each month. So if there’s a fun event in the next town over, but we’ve only got $5 left in the gas category – sorry, Charlie! We aren’t going. (This is where the joy of missing out is so vital! Instead of focusing on the fun we could have had at such and such event, we focus on the joy we DO have by doing something closer to home – like taking a walk with the kids or visiting a neighbor.)
3) No for Now Doesn’t Mean No Forever

I’m an ideas person. I constantly have new ideas that I want to act on RIGHT THEN. This year I was running 3 business ventures. 3!!! (No wonder I was burning out, right?) What I learned is that I need to set one business in particular aside for the time being, even though it’s the one I’m MOST passionate about, because the timing to pursue it just isn’t best.

No for now doesn’t mean no forever. It’s okay to admit to yourself, “It’s better for me to spend my time here, so later I can spend more of my time there.”

Keeping that long game in mind will really help you. It’s so easy to get caught up in the here-and-now, when really what we’re working towards is a brighter future. With that long term focus in mind, stepping back or saying no loses some of its initial sting.

How do you feel after listening to this episode? What things might you need to set aside for the moment to pick back up later? I’d love to hear in the comments!

Now it’s your turn to head out there and Be Brilliant!

~ Victoria

*This is an Amazon affiliate link, which means at no additional cost to you if you click and purchase you'll be helping us bring more great content to you, free of charges!

The post Bring More Enjoyment to Life Through Boundaries appeared first on Brilliant Business Moms.

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I’m super excited for this special holiday episode! I invited my team member Carlee on the show to talk about her family’s holiday traditions.

What I love about Carlee’s unique take on holidays is how refreshingly simple it is. By keeping Christmas others-focused rather than stuff and events-focused, Carlee and her family get to serve others, make a lot of great memories together, and kiss overwhelm goodbye in the process.

Press play to hear from Carlee! 

If you’re like me and you don’t love the “gimme focus” the holidays can bring, you can decide to change that focus in your home! The way to start is by making a list of what matters most to you that holiday season.

Believe it or not, we don’t buy our kids a lot of presents. But before you think our real last name is Scrooge, hang with me! I’ll explain what we do instead.

When our family made this list of what mattered most to us during the holidays, making great memories within our little family made the top of the list, along with finding ways to bless others and get the focus off of ourselves. Here are our the four traditions we follow each year to keep Christmas meaningful and simple.

  1. Prompt Acts of Kindness
  2. Go Easy On The Presents
  3. Surprise Another Family In Need
  4. Bless Your Community

Let’s look at those traditions in detail.

Prompt Acts of Kindness

Every year during the first week of December, the five of us as a family each put our name in a hat, and everyone draws a name. That week, each person focuses on showing extra kindness to the family member they drew — from serving them to giving little gifts or taking care of a chore for them.

And, we really want to make sure our kids know their gestures are just as important as what my husband and I can give as adults. It’s not about size or money when it comes to serving each other, but heart and intention. Our kids did all sorts of things to show kindness, like coloring a picture, telling a joke, putting that family member’s shoes away, carrying groceries, or leaving little treats on a pillow.

Over the years it has been so fun to watch our kids get creative with how they can serve one another.

The next week, we each draw different names and the tradition keeps going all December-long.

Go Easy On The Present

Alright, don’t throw the eggs from your holiday cookies at me! We do get our children a small gift, but it’s not the main focus of Christmas for us. (Plus, they get plenty of gifts from extended family!)

Here’s what we do instead:

At the end of November or beginning of December, we’ll dedicate a weekend or two to taking each child individually on a ‘Christmas Date’. They get to pick their meal of choice at a restaurant of choice. We take our time at these dates!

My husband and I ask our kids reflective questions about the past year:  What were their greatest joys and challenges? We especially like showing our kids that because they’ve overcome one challenge, they can overcome another. We also help our children set goals for the coming year, and it’s been great to see how those goals have changed over the years.

After our Christmas Date meal, we head out to a few stores and give our kids a budget with the goal of purchasing gifts for their siblings. Our kids chip in with money they’ve earned themselves, too. This has been a wonderful way to foster our family bond, and it keeps our focus on others.

Surprise Another Family In Need

One tradition we all have so much fun with is surprising an unsuspecting family in need around the holidays. We’ll often fill our gifts with groceries and gifts for the kids in that family, and we deliver them every night for 12 nights leading up to Christmas Eve! The espionage-factor is half the fun and we try to keep our identity a secret the whole time.

This year we’re going to try out a 12 Days of Christmas theme where we match each gift to the items in the song. My kids came up with doughnuts as the “5 golden rings” in an instant! (If you have any themed gift ideas, I’d love to hear them!)

We make so many great memories each year by blessing another family in this way, and it’s a lot less stressful than hosting fancy parties or other Christmas events we could attend.

Bless Your Community

Of course the holidays are fun and festive, but for many people the holidays are sad, lonely, or just plain stressful. We encourage our family to take that one extra step to serve our community.

If you can make anyone’s day a little bit easier or happier, I promise that gesture will go a long way!

Some ideas to get you started:

  • Offer to help load groceries
  • Leave a bigger-than-usual tip
  • Pay-it-forward in the drive thru
  • Help a neighbor put up decorations
  • Shovel snow for a neighbor or business
  • Invite a family having a hard time over for a meal

What ideas can you come up with?

Here’s the bottom line: Prioritize what’s meaningful to your family, give yourself permission to say no, and look outside yourself this holiday season.

I’d love to hear if you’ll be bringing any of these ideas into your home this December. Leave a comment and let me know!

Wishing you and yours a very Merry Christmas!

~ Carlee

The post 4 Brilliant Ideas for Making Christmas Meaningful + Simple appeared first on Brilliant Business Moms.

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Anne Bogel was one of the very first guests on the Brilliant Business Moms podcast. And I still remember the giddiness my sister and I felt when she was the first ‘big’ person who agreed to an interview. (If you don’t know, my sister and I launched this podcast back in 2014. Sarah has since left to pursue her own business and she’s doing great!)

Though Anne modestly received the compliment, I’m still pretty delighted to have a noteable blogger on the show – again! Since our 2014 interview, Anne has since added ‘author’ to her list of credentials. Her book, Reading People: How Seeing the World through the Lens of Personality Changes Everything*, launched this year and is available now.

Knowing yourself isn't as simple as taking an online quiz like ‘Which seltzer water best describes your personality?’. (True story!) What I love about Anne’s book, and our conversation, is that it helped me delve deeper into what makes me, well, me so I can best optimize my success.

If you’re coming to this topic with no prior knowledge of personality types, that’s okay! Psychologists say that if you don’t know anything else about your personality, knowing if you’re Introverted or Extroverted is a good starting point, it’s the ‘the North and South of Temperament’.

What if you’re one of those people whose personality type is that they hate personality types, as my husband would say!? Anne has thoughts for you, too!

Other topics we discuss include:

  • Clues that you might be a Highly Sensitive Person (experts say about 15%-20% of species are highly sensitive) and what you can do to unlock the keys to understanding a finely calibrated nervous system.
  • How your personality affects how you run your business.
  • How you can leverage your personality to plan your day.
  • And the benefit of knowing how people’s differences helps you view the world.  
If you’re ready for some self-discovery, click play below:

*Amazon affiliate link.

Stay in Touch With Anne

Site: Modern Mrs. Darcy

Book: Reading People

Facebook: @ModernMrsDarcy

Instagram: @annebogel

The post Getting More Out of Life By Knowing Your Personality appeared first on Brilliant Business Moms.

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Digital designer, professor, PR specialist, small business owner, wife, mom of two – you might listen to the many roles of Lydia Kitts and think, “Woah, this sister needs to take something off her plate!” But before you go all ‘Judge Judy’ on Lydia, take a listen to the podcast. You’ll hear exactly how Lydia juggles so many things at once, while keeping people first, and does it with excellence. We at Brilliant Business Moms are just in awe of her!

Lydia lets us in on her unique planning philosophy, which involves using a combination of 3 planners. (I know, right!?) Throughout our interview, you’ll notice how Lydia is hyper-focused on the task at hand. She doesn’t let herself get distracted by giving every task a spot in her day, and keeping tasks in their spots.

In this interview, you’ll also get to hear Lydia answer a great question from one of our Brilliant Business Moms. Amy Gabriel asked, “I want to know how to build a timeless brand that has a strong and loyal following. How do you look at modern trends and base designs off of the current style, but also build something that will last for years to come?” You’ll just eat up Lydia’s answer!

If you follow the productivity tips and hacks Lydia drops in this episode, you’ll be able to keep your family first AND your clients happy just like she does.

If this all sounds like information you need as a momprenuer, hit the play button below!

Resources Mentioned: Keep in Touch With Lydia

Site: TurnquistHouse.com

Facebook: @TurnquistHouse

The post Super Mom? Almost, just Super Planned! appeared first on Brilliant Business Moms.

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Today on the show we have a very special business mom and friend, Courtney Westlake. We’ve actually gotten the chance to meet and hang out in person, which was super fun! I met her sweet family and she met Holden; we just had a great time together!

Courtney has been blogging since 2011 at CourtneyWestlake.com. She shares a lot about her story of being Mom to Brenna, who has a very rare skin condition and special need.

Courtney is a blogger, published author, and now a very successful freelancer. I know you’ll learn a lot from hearing her story!

Listen Now

1:15 – Courtney’s Unexpected Beginnings As a Blogger

The majority of people will know of Courtney via her blog, which she began to document her daughter Brenna’s birth and early days in late 2011. Her daughter was born with a rare skin condition and accompanying special needs. (You can watch Courtney’s family story here…major tissue warning!) She originally started her blog to update family and friends, but the circle of readers quickly grew. The more Courtney wrote, the more people read! Courtney had no end-goal in mind with her writing, she was just processing being a mom to a child with an unexpected diagnosis.

In 2014, Courtney got a chance to meet a literary agent and she signed with her. And in 2015 she signed a book deal! A Different Beautiful came out in 2016.

2:55 – What’s It Really Like Publishing a Book?

I’ve had the pleasure of reading Courtney’s book and absolutely loved it. She is a very talented writer! I know many of you are thinking about monetizing your writing platform, and Courtney has some great book publishing insights.

Of course, there are a lot of ways you can go about book publishing. Courtney self-published a children’s book in 2014; her non-fiction book was traditionally published two years later.

She says the two experiences were so different! Courtney’s advice to help you choose your path? Think about your goal.

Courtney’s purpose in writing was to get her message out. Traditional publishing isn’t a super lucrative endeavor. She did receive an advance (an amount the publisher anticipates the author to sell in the first year) and once her book sold the amount of that advance, then she could start earning royalties. And to make sure there are no rose-colored glasses on, royalties are only about 15% of the sale of the book, not a lot!

It really is easy to look at big time authors on best seller lists and glamorize their success. But most first-time authors don’t earn very much money.

If you choose to self-publish with e-books or something like a print-on-demand service, Courtney says you can expect to make more of your own money, but your book may not get as far of a reach. For example, Courtney’s traditionally published book could be purchased at Barnes & Nobles in the US, Australia, and Canada. (Isn’t that so neat?!)

I can tell you from the outside-looking-in, Courtney’s book launch looked so cool! She has a sizeable following and has built great relationships with her readers. Courtney’s publisher was really happy with her launch, which of course made her proud!

There aren’t many ways to slice it: launching a product is a lot of work. And that’s just how launches go. During my most recent big launch, FB Brilliance, I really appreciated having my team to delegate to. And Courtney, also, had a launch team that did some of the work for her. Automating as many processes as possible is another great way to lighten the launch-time load.

7:05 – Transitioning from SAHM to Freelancer

One reason I wanted to have Courtney on the podcast is because she recently told me that she’s been able to do about 15 hours of freelance work a week, and replace her full-time job income! HOLY COW! I had to know how that’s working!

Before having kids, Courtney worked in a Public Relations department at a local university. After her first child – a son who is now 8 – was born, she started staying home. (Isn’t that true of so many of us?) She freelanced here and there, trying to see what would stick, but the jobs didn’t pay much.

With the birth of Brenna, her daughter’s special need was very consuming for a long time.

Now that both Courtney’s children are school-aged, she’s got the chance to do pursue more formal work again. She started writing pieces for different publications, and then eventually scored some business clients.

Those corporate clients are what have potential for high income. Last January she decided to maximize the growth and really go for it! It’s been going really well. To date Courtney keeps four really great regular clients, and a few others who provide less regular work, but are clients she really wants to work with.

With her kids now in school she can take on more work, and the increase has been a total blessing to her family. She can use her creativity and passion to earn a decent income

9:25 – The Ins and Outs of Writing for Businesses

What does it look like writing for a business? Content marketing is a buzzword these days, and the jist of it means is writing blogs, email newsletters, and website pages for any business.

For her clients, Courtney has provided the content – the written words – for entire websites before! She also has created sitemaps, going through the pages on their website they want revamped and so on.

For her regular clients, she almost acts as a marketing consultant in addition to providing the writing. Courtney’s clients can bounce ideas off her, and she loves learning what’s latest in marketing, writing, sales, and online media. It’s a win win!

10:33 – Kinds of Businesses Hire Freelance Writers?

I love that Courtney does writing for a variety of businesses. Included in her portfolio is: a construction company, a mid-sized bank, a content marketing agency that specializes in education writing (working with schools through them), and a nonprofit.

11:15 – Getting That First Writing Gig

Back in January, Courtney decided she would really go for the freelance work. She stared out by emailing different contacts locally, people she had worked with before or had some prior connection to. In those initial emails, she outlined why she thought the managers should hire her, ideas she had for their company, and so on. As cold outreach goes, she got back a lot of “Thanks, but no thanks” messages.

But – finally! – a yes came.

Her first big gig was a company wanting help with their website.

It snowballed from there. The last few months she’s tried to take the initiative and focus on people she really wants to work for.

12:12 – A Personal Touch Makes All the Difference

Going the extra mile to make a personal connection in those initial outreaches makes a huge difference. The content marketing agency she’s currently working with Courtney found on a freelance forum. The agency posted their need to have a writer who could take occasional jobs. Most of the commenters on the thread wrote back with a generic reply we’ve all seen, “Send me a PM!”

But Courtney went a step further.

She went to the agency’s website and got to know the firm. She found a direct email address and wrote a kind message to the agency director. Courtney got back a message almost immediately. The agency was interested!

Courtney took the next step to go directly to the director via email, which made her stand out from all the other commenters!

(And trust me! As a business owner who gets unsolicited pitches all the time. I can tell right away who took time to be personal and who didn’t.)

13:50 – When Charging Your Worth Makes You Go ‘Eeep!’

It can feel so uncomfortable to share your rates! I totally struggle with this on the odd-occasion I accept a coaching call for a high rate. And Courtney has struggled with that same feeling, too. In fact, the morning of our interview she quoted a job and didn’t land it because of her price. But at the end of the day, as mamapreneurs we have to stick with our prices! We know what we’re worth, and we know our clients and customers will get what they pay for. One person may not see your value, but that doesn’t mean many others won’t see it.

Courtney agrees it’s much easier to be choosy with jobs when she has a fuller load and not that urgent NEED for income. It’s certainly more fun to pick jobs that you’ll enjoy and know will bring a good income!

She’s been able to reach this ability to choose who she wants to work for (and be confident in her rates) by slowly and steadily building clients and sticking to her rate. “It takes time,” she says, “But you’ll get where you want to be. You have to know what your work is worth.”

And let’s be honest, ladies! Taking time away from our family or errands we need to do isn’t easy. Our time is valuable.

16:55 – Raising Rates and Regular Clients

Has Courtney raised her rates since building out her client portfolio? Her short answer is yes, but the change is hard to quantify since her writing projects are so varied. For some jobs she still gets paid hourly, though her hourly rate is high enough she’s happy with it.

Other jobs pay per project, and she certainly has raised the project rate the more jobs she’s gotten.

How does Courtney decide which jobs to take? She trusts her gut. When she meets a client and hears about their project, if her first thought is a ‘Heck Yes!’ she’ll go for it. And if not? She gives herself the freedom to pass.

18:18 – What Does A Writing Project Look Like?

Primarily, Courtney writes for websites, both updating the content of entire sites and writing new blog posts.

When she’s crafting the content for an entire site, she’ll make a site map of the different pages and what content needs to be on those pages, and then she writes the content.

For blog post writing, sometimes clients give her an idea of what they want and let Courtney do most of the work and research. Some provide talking points and she will build a post from the client’s initial work.

All of Courtney’s writing is what’s called ghostwriting. That means she tries to adapt her voice to match the client’s to make it seem as if the client is actually the one who wrote the piece. That means Courtney doesn’t get credit for her work, but she’s okay with that! It’s like she gets to put on a different costume each day and pretend to be a different person!

One project Courtney is currently loving is a case study she’s putting together. She’s gotten to interviewing her client’s client and write about their experience for marketing purposes. It’s like a journalistic piece, super fun!

20:10 – Is Courtney Still Building Her Personal Blog Brand?

With this new freelance schedule, is Courtney still blogging and building her personal brand? She admits did take a break from blogging over the summer, which allowed her to settle into the freelance schedule. Courtney has a new idea for an ebook, and wants to keep blogging to see where else it will take her.

At the same time, Courtney is confident that she’s finding her stride writing for others. She really likes the business to business model, rather than business to consumer.

22:22 – Do What You Enjoy

It’s natural to look around at the leaders in your niche and want to copy their steps for success. In Courtney’s experience (and my own!) there really isn’t one, clear path. She knows what success looks like for herself, how she wants her days to run, and knew that freelance business writing is the way to make it happen.

25:30 – Scaling a Service-Based Business

It is hard to scale a service-based business. You personally only have so many hours a day and finite resources to work with. Unless you hire additional people to provide your service, service-based businesses really can have some limits!

But Courtney has found that freelance copywriting works so well for her. The income she makes suits her goals. She doesn’t have to hustle all day long, she can just do her work on her schedule and bring in a decent income.

(The potential for a copywriter income is huge! Seriously. I’ve seen some charging $1,000 an hour! Copywriters Courtney knows are making $100,000 or more a year.)

26:50 – Taking Off The Rose Colored Glasses (Downsides to Freelancing)

We’ve been really talking up how great the freelance life can be…buuut, what’s the downside? Has Courtney ever had a total client disaster!? What’s the tough part of being a freelancer?

Years ago Courtney worked on a small project for a client referred to her by a friend. Courtney wrote a few press releases for this client and, as you do, billed for the work. And…crickets. Courtney send a few more messages, but never got a response. The client had gone totally off the radar, and Courtney didn’t get paid! Courtney says, “I felt really dumb to have not gotten some sort of deposit or something.”

Since then, Courtney has been extra careful with payment measures. And thankfully this lesson wasn’t learned on a huge project.

29:30 – Adorable Mom Moment

Courtney’s son Connor talked so much about how he loved the tacos at school, so Courtney made burritos for her family. Of course, he hated Courtney’s burritos!

She asked him, “How are these different than the ones at school?”

“Well…the school’s are good,” He responded.

Oh my goodness!! We work so hard for these kids! And at the end of the day, they just want cafeteria food.

Stay in Touch With Courtney

Blog: http://www.courtneywestlake.com/

Writing: http://www.westlakewrites.com/

Instagram: @cwestlake

Facebook: Blessed by Brenna

The post Working in the Margins + Making More per Hour with Freelancing appeared first on Brilliant Business Moms.

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