How to feel unproductive and worthless in one easy step!

I remember the first time I saw that now-famous pin, informing me that I had exactly the same number of hours in my day as Beyoncé.

“By god, you’re right, Pinterest! Beyoncé and I are both bound by the same laws of space and time! We are both doing our best with the 24 hours we’re given, but she’s clearly doing a lot more with hers. This is a wakeup call, self! Use your time more wisely! Less Netflix, more sit ups! Nooooo moooore excuses!

And then I drank a pot of coffee and wrote a bunch of things filled with typos and worked for so long I gave myself a headache and my hands cramped up.

Now, I love a tough-love reality check as much as the next Virgo but here’s the thing: you and I actually don’t have the same number of hours in the day at Beyoncé.

Let’s look at the numbers.

In a given 24 hour period, mere mortals like you and I run errands, cook meals, tidy our homes, and take care of our pets/children/partners. We drive places, we shop for things, we do our makeup and style our hair and choose our outfits.

We do all these things in addition to the things we actually do to earn a living. We do these things in addition to writing, consulting, coding, designing, or styling. Of the 24 hours we’re given, most of us spend at least 3-8 hours just managing our lives.

I’d wager a guess that Beyoncé (or Oprah or Taylor) spends 0-1 of her 24 hours managing her day-to-day life. In fact, if you added up the hours that Beyoncé’s team puts in every day – promoting her, photographing her, styling her, cooking for her – girl probably has 200+ hours in her day. At a minimum.

So I guess what I’m saying is, when you see that image float across your internet life, instead of doubling down on your workload or feeling like a failure, go ahead and reinterpret it.

This is what that aspirational image should really say:

Perhaps you could be using your time a bit more wisely. Maybe take the Facebook app off your phone. But it’s not fair to compare yourself to an international pop star who has a staff of dozens. You’re doing a great job! Keep going.”

How do you balance your expectations of yourself with reality? What do you do when you get down on yourself?

P.S. This is a concept I first came across in the book The Effortless Everyday. It’s full of smart, sweet, helpful epiphanies like this. Check it out!

photo credit: wikicommons

How To Have Long-Lasting, Super Loyal Professional Relationships

On a scale of 1-10, how weird is it that I’ve known most of my clients longer than I’ve known my husband?

Wait. Don’t answer that.

It’s not that I married my husband a few months after meeting him, it’s more that I’ve been with most of my clients for a very, very long time.

I knew Dr. Danielle Dowling before she was a doctor, back when she didn’t have a Facebook page and she was juggling a full-time job with grad school and clients. I started writing for Maria well before she became a mom (little Callum is almost two now!) and the first time I talked to Rikka was during a pit stop on my spring 2012 road trip around Louisiana.

Is there a secret to long, super loyal professional relationships? Honestly, part of it is luck. I lucked into finding clients I like who happen to be so good at what they do they’re still in business (and can afford me) five years in.

But the stuff of great relationships is made up of four probably obvious things and one slightly less obvious thing. If you’d like to create awesome, business-building, long-lasting professional relationships, here’s what you can do.

The probably obvious stuff

If you only read one sentence in this entire blog post, let it be the one above this. This seems ridiculously, painfully obvious, but you would be floored by the level of flake-dom that occurs in the online world.

If your clients have ever hired anyone before, they’ve probably experienced people missing deadlines. People ignoring the guidelines. People failing to invoice. People ignoring the word count or the swipe files or the hex codes. People jacking up the price without notice. People bailing on a project when things get hard. People failing to double-check for typos or dead links.

When you don’t do these things – when you’re reliable and prompt – you’re already ahead of the pack, setting yourself apart. You will never, ever, ever lack for business. Ever.

Be good at what you do
As crazy as it sounds, I think being good at what you do is less important than being reliable and prompt.

A magazine editor friend said it best. “I’d rather hire a decent writer who hands in their work on time, with the right word count, on the right topic than a genius writer who’s always late and over the count. I’ll hire the reliable, decent writer over the late, genius writer every single time.”

Refer + introduce people
I do my best to work with clients I love and whose work I believe in. So when my friend is looking for a therapist or life coach, Danielle and Katie are at the top of my list. Elise writes about food psychology and Kenden writes about meaningful meals? Well, clearly they should be introduced. Natalie writes about entrepreneurship and Susan helps entrepreneurs build teams – obvious guest posting opportunities, right?

If your client is looking for a good VA, a talented photographer, an SEO guru, or a web developer and you happen to know one – hook them up. If your people could help each other, introduce them! It’s easy and it’s good karma.

Promote their stuff
You don’t need to tweet or blog about every single thing your clients do, especially if your followers or readers aren’t your client’s ideal customers. But if you think your people might like what your client is up to – like Danielle’s book or Elise’s #12tinychanges challenge – share it.

Your people like knowing about awesome, helpful things! If your clients are creating awesome, helpful things go ahead and share them! Again, it’s easy and it’s good karma.

The less obvious thing

Treat your clients the way you’d treat any other human you like + respect
When I got married, Danielle sent me a bouquet and Maria sent me an amazing set of cheese knives (because girl knows the way to my heart.)

On Norma’s birthday, I sent her a link to Sam Heughan saying happy birthday in Gaelic (because I know she’s a devout Outlander fan.) When I was in Santa Monica, I met up with Alexa for breakfast and when I was in DC, I stopped by Elise’s house to meet her gorgeous dogs and stuff my face with her food.

Just like any other human being, clients like to feel appreciated and valued – not just because they employ you but because you have an on-going relationship and you like each other. Show your clients that you like them! Like, as human beings!

Do you have long-standing professional relationships? How do you stay in touch and let your clients and vendors know you appreciate them?

13 Posts That Will Make Your Online Life Better, Tighter + More Fun

It’s the end of the month, dudes! I’ve been re-writing two of my ebooks, making them Kindle-friendly, and getting ready to sell them on Amazon (it is sooooo much more work than I expected). If it turns out, I’ll tell you everything I learned!

Awesome, helpful links I found for you:

FASCINATING. What it feels like to go viral.
The feeling was something that was most analogous to situations that hadn’t really occurred since high school: scoring a goal in soccer, or finding out your crush likes you back.

Are you doing all these things to get your work discovered? (I was doing about half!)

Can you work smarter not harder? UMM YES.

How to keep burnout at bay. I love the suggestion of finding a ‘uniform’ so you can save your creativity for other stuff!

Related: How to get out of your inbox and into your life.

Also related: 4 ways to retrain your brain to handle information overload.

Also also related: 10 ways to declutter your tech experience.

Are you failing to reach your income goals? Maybe this is why.

Now, I happen to think you should actually take a lunch break (and use it to do something fun) but if you’re going to eat at your desk, upgrade that ish.

I know there are people who think blogging is dead. Lauren has grown her business like WHOA and it’s because of her blog. She outlines the how + why here.

But here’s a woman who launched a successful freelance business WITHOUT ANY ONLINE PRESENCE. #isthatevenathing #apparentlyitspossible

Yes, you can work for yourself without crushing your soul.
Your work will suffer if you’re in it for likes on Dribbble or retweets from peers or industry awards that only matter to your industry (and not the clients you serve) because you’re focused on attention instead of actually solving a problem. Whether you like it or not, your intentions are evident, so make sure that what you do is indeed what you want others to see and know.

Have you read anything super helpful lately? If you have, please share a link in the comments – everybody benefits from shared knowledge :)

photo via unsplash // via pineapple

6 Ways To Make Sure You Really, Actually Achieve Your Goals

This guest post comes to us via Elise Blaha Cripe. Elise is a blogger, crafter and goal setter in San Diego, California. She has been sharing thoughts and DIY projects on her Internet corner since 2005. Elise hosts a weekly podcast, elise gets crafty, that focuses on handmade business, blogging, creativity, and inspiration. In the spring of 2015, Elise launched GET TO WORK BOOK, a daily planner + goal setting workbook designed to help you make progress on your big goals. The 2016 GET TO WORK BOOK is currently available for pre-order here.


Goal setting is one of my favorite topics (to write about AND think about) and I find myself spending a lot of time doing both. I am so honored Sarah invited me over to be a guest and share some tips with you. Technically, these are going to focus on setting goals to improve your small business but I really think they can be applied to anything.

Don’t be afraid to think big picture

Before you start thinking about how you want to work on and improve your business, it helps to consider where you actually want to be headed.

Are you trying to quit your day job? Become a fortune 500 company? Make enough to spend your summers backpacking? Knowing your “end-game” is so valuable because then you know more about what you need to be doing today. Maybe you need to be saving more of your profits. Maybe you need to be re-investing more. Maybe you need to develop more passive income streams. It’s hard to know what to focus on until you have at least an idea of what you want your future to look like.

Choose something measurable

Good goals are specific. Of course, you want to “improve sales” or “grow your newsletter” but instead of just saying that, determine some numbers.

How much do you need to improve your sales? How many newsletter subscribers would you like to gain this month? Determine measurable goals, write them down and then work towards them. The satisfaction of “hitting” those numbers is awesome, but even if you fall short, you have a real amount that you fell short and that can be helpful when coming up with what to shoot for next year or next month.

Be realistic (but challenging!)

As Pinterest quotes will tell you, it’s more than okay to dream big. But when it comes to goal-setting, I have found that going too big is never good. You want your goals to be realistic – something that you can actually achieve – but also inspiring enough that they feel challenging. It’s a semi-tricky balance to find, but through practice (and trial and error!) you can get there.

Set deadlines

It’s easy to set goals without thinking about when you’ll realize them, the trouble is, without a firm completion date in mind, it’s really tricky to actually accomplish anything. When do you want to launch that ebook? When would you like to be able to hire an administrative assistant? What month is the absolute last month you can go live with your website?

Again, you want to pick something realistic (probably not this Friday) but challenging (probably not four years from now). When considering deadlines, it also helps to stagger your projects and goals. Don’t make everything due the same month or try to launch everything at beginning of the year. Give yourself (and your customers!) some time to avoid burnout.

Break it down

Once you have your realistic and measurable goal(s) in mind, the next step is to break them down. This is the “how” portion. How are you going to get from A to B? What do you need to do today, this week, next week and next month to get there? What are some action steps? I have found that the more action steps I list out and schedule as to-do list items the better. Don’t let yourself get overwhelmed by a huge project. Instead, let yourself get busy working on smaller steps on a daily basis.

Remember, this is fun

Coming up with goals and striving towards them can be a hugely satisfying exercise. At times, it can also feel really hard. But on the whole, you’re growing. You’re expanding. You’re learning and you’re making progress. All of those are good things and all of those will pay off for you and your business.
I encourage you to think of the whole process as something enjoyable. Remember that you get to choose your goals; no one is setting them for you. Pick the stuff that makes your heart race and your stomach flip a bit. Then get to work.

What goals are you setting for your business? Making your goals public is a great way to hold yourself accountable – tell us in the comments!

You Can Be Your Business’s ‘Why’

When you decide to go into business for yourself, within five minutes* a smart and well-intentioned person will appear at your coffee shop and hand you this book.

They’ll probably fall all over themselves telling you how it changed their business life, made sales and marketing dreamy easy and how you really need to readitalreadyokay?

If you’re not familiar with Start with Why, it’s a lovely, well-written business book that suggests businesses and leaders are more successful when their reason for being in business is inspiring. Those who are able to inspire will create a following of people – supporters, voters, customers, workers – who act for the good of the whole not because they have to, but because they want to.

We’re more likely support people/leaders/business who have high-minded, meme-worthy mission statements and ‘manifestos.’ (Holstee, I’m looking at you.)

So it follows that we self-employed types believe we should have an equally inspiring reason for being in business.

“I want to help women stand in their truth and re-connect with their innate wisdom.”
“I want to help entrepreneurs end the overwhelm and overcommitment.”
“I want to help busy moms find ways to be healthy and active so they can give their best to their kids and partners.”

And for the last, oh, ever I’ve been doing my best to come up with my own professional “why.”

If we met at a networking event** and you asked me why I’m a lifestyle blogger and ghostwriter I’d say something like:
“I want to help busy entrepreneurs free up time and space to do the work that lights them up.”
“I want to create a space where people can share their stories and connect with each other.”
“I want to help people to live adventurous, intentional, creative lives of their own design.”

While those are partially true, here’s the whole truth:

I want to be self-employed because I like taking six weeks off to road trip around America.
I want to be self-employed because I want my income (rather than my employer’s income) to reflect my hard work and creativity.
I want to be self-employed because I want to go to a matinee on a rainy Tuesday afternoon if I damn well feel like it.

(but none of that looks very good on a poster.)

And for a long time, I felt really guilty about this. Was every other self-employed creative completely selfless? Was everyone else trying to save the world through copywriting and business coaching? Didn’t anybody else want to earn more money and take longer vacations?

And then I watched this periscope and Hilary Rushford gave voice to my deepest, darkest secret. 

You can become a copywriter because writing comes easily to you and you like it. You can become a life coach because you give great advice and your family moves around a lot so you need a location-independent career. You can become a wedding photographer because you have a good eye, you already know how to use a DSLR, and your friend needs a second shooter.

These are all totally valid reasons to go into business.

Of course, (of course!) you should do work you enjoy! Obviously, you should be proud of the work that you put into the world. It’s very, very nice to have a larger plan or vision for what you’re creating.

But if you’re looking for permission – this is it. 

This is your permission to pursue something because you want to make more money. Or because you want a career that works with your kids’ schedules. Or because you’re good at it and it comes easily to you.

When you like what you’re doing and the life you’re living, it’ll come through in your work.
And that’s enough.

Do you feel like you need to have a high-minded, world-saving ‘why’ behind your work? And if you have one – what is it?

* sliiiiight exaggeration but also not really
** which we wouldn’t because I hate networking events

photo via unsplash // by joe beck // cc

Surprise! Absolutely No One Has It All Figured Out.

I am lucky enough to count among my friends some of the smartest, most talented, most insanely capable women in All The Land.

These ladies have written New York Times best sellers. Their products have been featured in Vogue. They pull down Fortune 100 clients and earn multiple six figures. (#coolerbyassociation #ihopetheirsuccessistransferablebyosmosis)

And yet.

Here are some things I hear regularly while we’re noshing pastries or pawing through boutiques:
“I’ve really gotta get my ish together. I have no idea what I’m doing on Instagram.”
“I’ve had writers block for months. I don’t have any good ideas!”
“Every time I go into a client meeting I thinkIs this it? Will this be the time that they find out I don’t know what I’m doing?’” (said by a 10-year marketing veteran, BTW.)

When you spend hours each week reading blog posts about self-employment and social media and sales funnels, it’s very, very easy to believe that
a) everybody else has it figured out
b) you don’t
c) you’ll never catch up to those clever everything-figured-out people

But, dear readers, here’s the thing. Nobody has it all figured out + everybody who seems like they do was where you are right now at some point.

I’d also venture the guess that even the Figured Out People – those clever souls who’ve got passive income streams and webinars and autoresponder sets – they have their own moments of doubt. I’d imagine even Pat Flynn and Marie Forleo and Danielle LaPorte have the occasional moment of “WTF is Periscope and do I really need to be on it?”

I know I certainly have those thoughts! Don’t let this polished website fool you. I’ve started and abandoned a jillion projects. I’m a late adopter. I have no idea how to use Photoshop and I’m just now updating my three-year-old opt-ins. I USED A YAHOO EMAIL ADDRESS AS MY PROFESSIONAL CONTACT EMAIL UNTIL 2011.

But instead of allowing myself to fall down a spiral of “Do I really know what I’m doing?” and “Who am I to be giving people internet advice?” I’m choosing to adopt the mindset of the eternal learner and accept that there is no finish line in business.

There will never be a moment when I can close my laptop, cross my arms smugly and say “Welp! That’s it! I’ve finished the internet and I know how to do it. Time to go eat some cheesy bread!” There will always be new social media platforms, unknown readers, and fresh outlets. There will be new approaches to business and new ways to reach people.

I’m choosing to lean into the not-knowing. I’m choosing to see those moments not as self-doubt but as opportunities to learn more. I know that in those moments of not-knowing there are a million other accomplished, smart people having the exact same thoughts. We can all learn and fumble out of our not-knowing together.

Do you ever have moments of “Whaaaaaat am I doing?” or “Are you really going to put me in charge of this?” If you do, how do you get through them?

photo credit: death to the stock photo // cc

How To Find Thrilling, Interesting, Awesome New Blogs To Read

find new blogs
“Uuuuugh, everything on the internet is just listicles and reaction gifs.”
“Nobody uses punctuation anymoooooooore!”
“If I see another pale pink or gold anything I’m going to dig my eyeballs out with this spoon.”

Such were the complaints leveled against blogging at my most recent Internet Lady Brunch.
As we sipped our overpriced lattes, my ladies and I opened up our RSS feeds and tried to recommend blogs to each other.

Were any of us reading anything the others should know about? Was anyone writing interesting, hilarious, weird, personal stuff? Was there an oasis of good writing somewhere among the Buzzfeed lists? Not that we could find.

I realize, of course, that I’m just as guilty of listicles and caps lock as anyone else.  And if you hire me to help with your blog, I’ll tell you with a sigh that, yes, you should probably be writing how-tos and list posts BECAUSE THAT ISH WORKS.

Be that as it may, I miss the joy of discovering a new blog or Twitter feed or Instagram account that I immediately tell my BFF about. I miss becoming so emotionally involved in a blogger’s life that when they break up with their boyfriend I send them a pep talk email.*

So in the name of refreshing our RSS feeds, making new online friends, and finding new reading material for this, the back-to-school season, here are my five favorite ways to find awesome new blogs.

1. Go to a blog you know/like/trust and click through their sponsors and ‘friends’ tabs

In a perfect world, every blogger is intentional and selective about the sponsors they accept; they (hopefully) choose sponsors they know will resonate with their readers. Take advantage of that curation and click through! I discovered some of my favorite blogs because they bought ad space on Yes and Yes!

2. Click through the comments on your favorite blogs

Do you love the DIYs and recipes of A Beautiful Mess? So do all the commenters – and I bet a lot of them have sweet, DIY-filled blogs. Do you like the motherhood, family vibe on Bleubird? Her comments are probably filled with other mommy bloggers.

3. Use Feedly’s ‘You Might Also Like’ tool

I looooove Bitches Gotta Eat and The Toast. Feedly was kind enough to point me towards The Bloggess, Waiter Rant, McSweeney’s (dur, Feedly. I know.) and ReductressInto ’em. Every last one.

4. When you read something you particularly love on a big site, see if the writer has their own blog

Many of my favorite writers at Xojane have their own sites as do the writers at Jezebel and Ravishly!

5. Click through link roundups and then subscribe in an RSS feed

If I had a nickel for every time I found an awesome blog through a friend’s link roundup and then forgot about said blog … I’d have like 85 cents. If you find something or someone awesome, follow along somewhere – on Twitter, Facebook, in an RSS feed or subscribe to their newsletter. Do something so you won’t lose them in the shuffle of Buzzfeed lists and photos of lattes.

My favorite blogs/Instagram feeds/Twitter feeds you might not know about:

1. Bitches Gotta Eat
Hilarious, moving essays about dating, food, race, family.

2. Adulting

3. Hommemaker
If David Sedaris wrote about interior design this is what it would sound like. His Instagram feed is also spot on.

4. Dallas Clayton’s Instagram feed
Sweet, funny, inspirational illustrations all the live long day.

5. Ruby etc_’s Instagram feed
Funny, awkward sketches of daily life. (One of my favorites is ‘Foods that are lying about being food and their real names.’)

6. Kate Henning’s Twitter feed
Sample: “Does anyone know which Godard film this is from (picture of Cookie Monster)”

7. Kara Haupt’s Twitter feed
Sample: “Either your life is falling apart or you’re dehydrated, so drink some water before you decide.”

Anyway! How do you find new blogs? Where do you read them – in your actual browser? Feedly? Blog Lovin’? And pleeeeeease tell me what you’re reading and following that I need to know about!

* which I’ve totally done. Twice.

P.S. If you want to befriend any of your favorite bloggers, here’s how.

photo via death to the stock photo // cc

11 Articles That Your Business Wants You To Read


print via phil jones

Summer is winding down, guys! Weeeep! I’m taking an entire week off for family stuff, splashing along the north shore of Lake Superior, and doing some ‘bigger picture’ ‘long term’ ‘business visioning.’ (Meaning I’m thinking about how I can make a million dollars on some sort of cat-related app.)

Anyway, I’ve gathered up the best, most helpful things about self-employment, creativity, productivity and general internet awesomery! Just for you!

What happens when you’re ‘famous’ on social media? 
The truth is, our technological leaders have built these tools in a way that explicitly promotes the idea that one’s follower count is the score we keep, the metric that matters.

I’ll be working my way through these when I get back from the lake! 20 epic blog hacks in less than 20 minutes!

I’m co-signed on all of these: 10 simple ways to prioritize what you love. (I particularly like/struggle with number five.)

I loved Hillary’s unwritten rules for ‘making it’ as a freelance digitial creative. Good reminders for all of us.
Make friendly, specific requests of the heroes or colleagues you admire. Tell them what you like about them, and ask what their skill development/support/book recommendations might be. If you’re feeling ballsy, you can also offer your services to support them and get closer to their work.

I really appreciate it when online people are transparent about how they make money (here’s how I make money and here’s why I post what I post). I liked Bri’s honest breakdown of how she and the Design Lovefest team earn their keep.

Useful. 15 Smart Things To Say That Will Reassure People That You’re A True Professional.

I’ve been there, girl. How to schedule your week when you work fulltime AND freelance.

Equal parts terrifying and beneficial: Why you need to clean your list and dump the people who aren’t reading.

Do you want your packages to sell out? (Dur. Yes.) Here’s how to package them so they do that!

Gaaaaah! It happens to the best of us. What to do when a professional relationship falls apart.
Some judgment reveals more about the speaker than the recipient, but if you’ve heard the same critique from several people, maybe it’s time to be honest with yourself. If multiple people have commented on your tardiness or typos, think about how you can right your ship and do better in the future.

If you’re thinking of hiring a VA, read this first.

Hope you’re enjoying the end of your summer, guys!

The Bizarrely Obvious Money Maker I Always Forget About

make more money
Here’s a serious question for you guys:

What sound do you make when you realize something painfully obvious? What do you do when someone says “I’m sure you’re doing this already but ….” and then says something that you should, yes, be doing BUT SOMEHOW TOTALLY AREN’T?

Depending on the source, I either:
a) tip my head back, look up at the ceiling and say “Oooooohhhhhhhh…..” in a sort of overwhelmed/nasal-y manner
b) mumble “Oh, sure yeah. Coolcoolcool. Just a sec. I’ve juuuuuust gotta run to the bathroom.” And then I make a note of said obvious-yet-somehow-not-completed-task in my phone

If you’re a human or a business owner or service provider you’ve probably had your fair share of these moments. I know I certainly have. (I’m currently rating about one per month.) And because one person’s Obvious is another person’s You’ve Just Blown My Mind With This Information, I’m going to tell you about the bizarrely obvious source of income that I just remembered – and how I made a very tidy profit with two emails.

So here’s the not-so-secret: it’s easier to sell things to people who have previously bought things from you. So if you have something new, sell it to them first at a discount.

Duh, right? And yet it took me four years of self-employment to realize this and apply it to every area of my business.

In May, my lifestyle blog Yes & Yes was gorgeously redesigned by Kim Lawler, resulting in bigger sidebar ad space. My sponsorship program is quite popular – most months I can actually pay my rent with it! (Here’s how)

But summer is slow on the internet and sponsors weren’t biting. So I emailed everyone who’d ever purchased ad space on Yes & Yes and offered them a 15% discount if they booked ad space by the end of the month.

And I made enough for two months of rent.

On the 25th, I sent a friendly email to the people who hadn’t responded, reminding them that the offer was about to expire and I made another month of rent.

“That’s great and everything, Sarah, but I don’t sell ads on my site,” I hear you say.
But you can apply this to just about anything!

Here’s how:

Step 1. Collect and group the email addresses of all your previous clients/customers/sponsors.
For me, this means one list of people who have purchased my travel ebooks, one list of writing clients, one list of blog sponsors, and one list of consulting clients.

For you, this might mean a list of people who’ve purchased jewelry from your Etsy shop, a list of graphic design clients and a list of people who bought your art prints. Or maybe it’s a list of your one-on-one health coaching clients, a list of people who bought your cookbook, and a list of people who bought your homemade jam.

Step 2. When you make something you know will appeal to one of your previous customer groups, tell them about it. Give them a discount as a thank-you for their business and as a way to test out your new offering. You’ll get business and feedback, they’ll get your shiny new offering/jewelry/jam at a discount!

Have you had any head-slappingly-obvious business epiphanies? If you have, please leave them in the comments – you never know who else needs to be reminded of those things!

photo by jorge franganillo // cc

How To Ignore Emails Without Alienating Everyone

Friends, raise your hand if you live in your inbox.

(98% of the internet raises their hand. One person in the back is busy flicking through Instagram and eating a messy, sprinkle-covered donut so they don’t hear me, but they probably live in their inbox, too.)

It sounds melodramatic when I say that email is a complex, emotionally-charged issue – but hear me out.

Many of us gauge our success by how full that inbox is – how many client inquiries we get, how many requests for interviews we receive, how many sweet, ‘I loved your post!’ notes find their way to us. If the inbox is too empty, we feel unpopular.

But most of us are also compleeeeeetely overwhelmed. We subscribe to too many newsletters. We get CCed into ridiculous email chains about where to meet for happy hour. We’re asked questions that could so, so easily be googled. If the inbox is too full we panic, ignore everyone, and eat an entire bag of cheese curds while binge watching ‘Silicon Valley.’*

Unfortunately, most of us are used to same-day, within-a-few-hours email responses. I’m one of those over-eager a-holes who has propagated this, mostly in an effort to JUST HURRY UP AND EMPTY MY INBOX. Constantly checking and replying to email serves no one. It ruins your concentration and creates unrealistic expectations.

So what’s the solution?

1. You (and I) could grow some self-control** and limit ourselves to twice-a-day email check-ins, responding to email just once a day. If we were really smart, we’d do this after we’ve done our creative work for the day.

2. When we start working with a new client, vendor, or collaborator we could make them aware that we’re Once-a-day Email People. We can share our collaboration guidelines and gently teach them how to treat us.

3. We could create a witty, on-brand autoresponder that answers common questions, directs people towards commonly sought pieces of information or sets expectations for response time.

Alexandra Franzen’s 2013 autoresponder

Hello, friend …

Life is wild. Your inbox? Probably even wilder. (Mine, too.)

So: I’m trying a little email-experiment to create some breathing room in the midst of the madness.

I’ve rounded up the top 10 topics that most people email me about — and I’ve answered every single question, right here.

If your email falls under one of the top 10 topics, consider this note your official response. (Ta da! Happy trails.) 

If your email pertains to some other topic — or if you’re my mom, my literary agent, my publisher, in the media, an active client, or, like, the ghost of Oscar Wilde — you’ll get a separate response from me as speedily as humanly possible.

Thank you kindly. 

:: A

–  –  –  –  –  –  –

If you wrote to me because …

1. You’re interested in booking a 1-on-1 VELOCITY session with me.
Splendid. I’m currently booked up for the rest of 2013, but you can hop on my just-in-case waiting list to find out when the doors are swinging open, again. Drop your name + email address on this page.

2. You want to come to one of my Write Yourself Into Motion workshops.
YES! I’d love to have you. My 2013 workshop tour is sooooold out, but you can plop yourself on the just-in-case waiting list right here
. (You’ll also be first in line to register for 2014 ‘shops + events.)

3. You want me to participate in your online event / virtual mastermind / teleseminar.
I’m flattered. Right now, I’m strongly focused on non-virtual speaking gigs, so I’ll probably (politely) decline your invitation. You’ll hear from me, personally. And thank you.

4. You want me to teach at your live event / conference / retreat.

I’m honored. I’ll respond when I can. I love face-to-face shindigs.

5. You want to interview me for your magazine, podcast or blog.
How delightful! I’ll respond when I can (and my answer will probably be YES). In the meantime, you can scope out my favorite interview topics + grab my headshot and bio, over here.

6. You’re looking for a web designer (or virtual assistant, or illustrator, or personal shaman) and wonder who I’d recommend.
All of my favorite humans (and tools) are curated right here. (You can even take a detailed backstage tour of my business, over here.)

7. You have a question (about your life, your business, or your writing) and wonder what I think about it.
I love inquisitive + curious people, but I appreciate self-reliant people even more. 😉

I recommend using the almighty Google (and your own intuition) to answer your own question. Because you are so darn smart. And because I probably won’t send a personal response for a very long time (or maybe at all.)

8. You bought one of my digital products but never received a download link. (Or the link expired.)
Your download link was delivered to the email address associated with your PayPal account. Check that inbox, first.

Don’t see it? Check your spam box, too.

9. You’re doing amazing work in the world and wonder if I’ll help you promote it (with a tweet, a shout-out to my readers, a fireworks ceremony, etc.)
I’m so proud of you. But unless I’ve personally experienced your work, have collaborated with you in the past, or consider you a close + trusted friend, the answer is probably “no.” Thank you for understanding.

10. You just want to say “hello” and introduce yourself
I think that’s grand. I’ll respond when I can. (And if your note happens to include a sweet compliment or a nice story, I’ll put it in my Permanent Happy File. And keep it. Forever.

Keep reaching out to people you dig.

Rachel MacDonald’s autoresponder

Hi there, 

Lovely to hear from you. 

I’m currently spending significantly less time in my inbox — *however,* let me see if I can help you with your inquiry right now. 

Below are a handful of responses to the questions that frequently land here, that may just help: 

When are you running Bright-Eyed & Blog-Hearted again? I missed the
last enrollment, but MUST get on board (lemme in!)
Sad news: Enrollments are closed until 2016. 

Can I hire you as my coach?
I’m currently (gratefully) completely booked for 2015. 

I’ve created a new product. Can you please review it/ write me a testimonial?
Huge congrats on your new offering. I’ve had to significantly pull back on reviews and testimonials (but thank you so much for asking). May your launch be a smashing success. 

Can I guest blog for you? Can you guest blog for me? Can I interview you?
To laser-focus on my own writing, I’m not currently doing interviews and guest posts (and I don’t feature guest posts on my site.) Know that your request has been received with a smile and much gratitude. 

I work for brand/ advertising agency and want to feature an ad on your site/ talk about sponsored posts. 

My site is ad-free, and sponsored posts aren’t part of my editorial mix. 

I’d also love to point you in the direction of the two eBooks I wrote with my dear friend Tara Bliss — Spirited and the Spirited 2015 Companion — in which we explore a lot of the themes and big life stuff that we’ve learnt on our own journeys and as coaches.

If you’re a gorgeous coaching client of mine, you are my priority and I will be in touch very soon.

Thank you again for reaching out,   

Rach x

Jess Larsen’s auto responder

Hi there,

Thanks so much for your email — you rock, and I’m so glad you got in touch. I’ll make sure I get back to you as soon as I can, usually within the next two business days. 

In the meantime, here are the answers to some commonly asked questions:

 * What’s the correct way to use semi colons?

Damned if I know! No — jokes aside, someone asked me this the other day, and I think it’s something that a LOT of people struggle with in their writing. If you’ve been throwing these little guys into your work without *really* knowing what you’re doing, here’s a great explanation to get you on the right track (includes a picture of a gorilla in a party hat — you’re welcome!) –> 

* What’s your favourite word?

This month: ‘trollied’ and ‘tangential’. Extra brownie points if they’re in the same sentence. 

* I want to write a book. What’s the best way to get started?

Check this out –> 

* Do unicorns exist?

Yes. (Duh!) 

All love,

Connie Chapman’s autoresponder


Thank you for taking the time to get in touch. This is a little note to let you know your email has been received, but please allow 2-3 days for a response. 

In the meantime, perhaps some of this may be helpful…

+ Interested in working 1:1 with me?
I have now re-opened my coaching calendar for the second half of 2015 and I am taking bookings for new clients. 

Read more about my 1:1 Coaching Programs here.

Or email if you would like to book a complimentary 20 minute Discovery Session to explore which coaching option is best for you. 

+ Want to interview or feature me?
Thank you so much for thinking of me! These days I am dedicating less time to interviews and guest posts, but I am still interested to hear about your opportunity. I will be back in touch to let you know if I can be a part of it. 

+ Want some support?
I am unable to provide coaching guidance via email, as I reserve this level of support for my 1:1 clients. 

Instead, please feel free to;

1) Check out my blog which is jam-packed full of beautiful, life-changing wisdom and tips.

2) Join my signature 3 month online program The 90 Day Transformation Project.

3) ) Download a copy of my Guided Mediations For Inner Transformation Album to create more inner peace, balance and bliss.

4) Tune into an episode of Awaken Radio for some soul-stirring conversation. 

Finally, I love connecting on social media so come and hangout with me on Facebook, Twitter or Instagram.

If you are one of my 1:1 clients, you are my priority and I will back in touch with you asap.

With love,
Connie x


Amazing, right?

If I emailed any of these ladies, I’d know when or if to expect a response and I’d know more about their work.

When Alex and I were emailing back and forth about the art of auto responding she shared her clever, clever formula:

– a brief description of what you’re doing right now, where you are, why this auto-responder is turned on.

– some expectation setting: “you can expect to hear back from me by…” or “I generally respond to emails within xx days…” or “I get back from my trip on DATE, and I’ll be digging into my emails then…”

– at least three delightful things that the email sender can do while they are waiting for a personal response.

– cool song and/or video.

One enormous side note about using auto responders:

If you regularly correspond with someone – if they’re your client, your close friend, a vendor, or you’re in the middle of an important email exchange – turn the autoresponder off for them. It can feel impersonal and unprofessional to receive an auto responder from someone you email every day.

Here’s how to turn off your autoresponder for specific people in Outlook and here are instruction for Gmail.

How do you feel about auto responders? Helpful for managing expectations or annoying and impersonal? If you know of anyone else who has a particularly good auto responder, leave links in the comments!

* Or is that just me?
** If you know how to do this, please teach me

photo by Death To The Stock Photo // cc