The Confidence to Become Who I Need to Be…

We cannot become what we need to be by remaining what we are. - OprahIt has been awhile since we talked! So much has been happening around here. BIG BIG THINGS!!!

My word of the year for 2014 was Intention. I thought it was going to mean one thing to me when I selected that word, and it turned out that the Universe? Well, the Universe had completely different plans. Funny how that works out sometimes, isn’t it? 

I spent the last quarter of the year thinking a lot about what my Intentions truly were. What did I want my life to look like? Where did I want it to go? It was like being in a giant department store, full of choices. I could do this … or I could do that … so many options. I tried on a few things, but nothing seemed to fit just right.

Right when I thought I had a plan, and I was ready to dive in, I came down with both the Flu AND Pneumonia on December 27th. Seriously? I mean… I finally have a plan!
 I had hit my Upper Limit though, and I was stopped in my tracks by my body.

Soar – My Word for 2015

I chose SOAR for my word of the year for 2015. I believe that the Universe decided to stop me so I could look around one last time. Really think about it. As the result of having a 102-degree fever, I found some clarity – at least enough to get me on the right path. The confidence to lead me to SOAR.

Over the past two weeks, I’ve worked a lot with Stephanie, who founded Vivid & Brave with me. She is also a coach for Universe Denters. She helps people who want to change the world, and I’ve known for years now that that is what I want to do that as an Avenger of Sexiness. Perfect match!

Confidence is at the Core

As we worked through the Avenger of Sexiness manifesto (which I’ll be sharing publicly soon!) I noticed one thing. All of it was about confidence and things that tie in to making us feel confident. Finding your sanctuary, loving your body, self-care. None of it was directly about business, which is what I’ve spent the last quarter of 2014 writing about here. Everything on the manifesto is things that I truly believe in, and topics that light me up the most when I talk about them.

It was only then that I realized it was time, at last, to do what I first started talking about last year. It is time to set down my camera as a professional photographer. (Yes, I will still be taking photos. I don’t know that I could EVER stop doing that. But it is time to take it back for myself.) 
It is time to leave the “safe” zone of talking about running a business. I have bigger things I need to go and do.

My camera and the hundreds of women I have photographed over the past 7 years have taught me SO MUCH about how women think. They have given me an insight that I might not have otherwise, and they helped me heal myself in the process. I’ve wanted, desperately, to share this with the world. To help women know all the things that I know. As a photographer, I was limited — I could only reach 80-100 women a year.

The camera which had brought me so much, had become my barrier that was keeping me from reaching so many more women.

My Ambitious Goal as an Avenger of Sexiness

And now we reach where we are today. I’m focusing all of my energy on writing, speaking, sharing my Avenger of Sexiness mission in ANY way possible. I’m going to be launching my first class in the next few days. I’m starting my outline to write my a book. I’ve launched the Avengers of Sexiness Facebook Community which I would love to have you join.

My ambitious goal for this year is to reach 10,000 women, to help them grow their confidence and rediscover their beauty. My mission that I set out on in 2010 has not changed at all; my plans for how to accomplish have completely shifted.

The Trust Promise

There is just one bit of unfinished business. I’ve been worried for the past week about all of you. I’ve worried about how you will receive this change. I feel as though when you come to my blog or when you sign up for my email list, we have a sort of trust promise between the two of us. You likely have signed up for lots of business information. Many of you have sent me emails answering my first question to you when you join my list, “What is the biggest problem you have in your business right now?” While some of you were not so direct about it, at the root of it for most of you? Your answers were a matter of CONFIDENCE.

It was reinforced last week on Facebook. I shared that I was talking about blogging and wanted to know what questions you had about it. An overwhelming 75% or so of you said you wanted to know how to open up on your blog without feeling like a fraud, a poser, an imposter, or worrying that no one would read it. Again, all of that comes down to CONFIDENCE.

Moving Forward – All About You

My main focus on the blog from here on out? Exactly that. Helping you have more confidence in yourself. If there is one thing I’ve learned in the past 7 years, it is that confidence is at the CORE of everything. How you feel about yourself, how you show up in your relationships, how you show up at work, how you take care of yourself, and really – how you feel at the end of the day about it all.

If you signed up for my previous email offer, don’t worry. You’ll still be receiving it. It is no longer available other than on my blog archives; I’ll be putting together an easy to read ebook as well so you don’t have to click through posts or emails. I truly hope you will stay on my email list, but that said? I understand if you want to unsubscribe. I get it if you don’t stay.

My future posts won’t be all about business. They will be all about YOU.

No matter what, 2015 is going to be our year to Soar.

I truly hope you will stay with me for the adventure that lies ahead.

If You Want to be in Business, You Need to Make a Profit

Is Your Business Making a Profit, or is it Just an Expensive Hobby?Your business has exactly one job: to make a profit.

It cares about nothing else. It doesn’t care about changing the world. About saving lives. About helping people. It cares about one thing – making a profit. That, at the core, is a business.

If your business isn’t making a profit, it isn’t a business. It is an expensive hobby. <<Click to Tweet!>>

Of course, as individuals who own our own businesses, we have lots of issues surrounding money. Whether we feel we deserve to make money, to charge more than other people charge for our work, or feeling bad about clients who say that they can’t afford us, all of these are issues you have to deal with head on as a business owner. You need to come to terms with these things, because they are holding your business back.

I Feel Guilty Charging So Much!

I can’t tell you how often I hear someone say that they feel bad for charging more money.

I always challenge it with this, “Do you think Mercedes feels bad for charging $80,000 for a car?”

$80,000 is more than many people make in a single year. It would put a big dent in buying a house. It will pay for part of a child’s college education. It is a lot of money. But I guarantee you that Mercedes has ZERO guilt over charging that price. Can’t afford it? You’re not their client. You don’t value it enough to make it happen. Whatever the case may be – you won’t be driving a Mercedes if you don’t have the money to pay for it. They are a business.

You aren’t selling a car, a commodity. You are selling access to YOU. There is only one you, and there is only so much that can go around.

Basic supply and demand – you’re in limited supply, so when the demand goes up? You have to raise your rates.

I understand the struggle that you can have with pricing things higher in that situation. I have faced it several times myself. I want to spread my “You Are Enough” message to every woman, far and wide. However, the simple fact of the matter is that I can only have one-on-one time with a very limited number of people. As much as I may want it for everyone? I can’t do it. (Unless someone figures out how to bend the time-space continuum to make it so more of me can go around! If you know how to do that, can you let me know?!?)

I’m Too New To Charge That Much

The other most common thing I hear from people starting out in business is that they are too new to be charging more.

Again, do you think Mercedes said that when they started their company? “You know what guys, this is our first car to roll off the assembly line. I think we should just give it away for free. Like, portfolio building. Get a few people out there driving our cars first. They will maybe tell their friends.”

Ridiculous, isn’t it?

Or imagine a new Chef in your area opening a new restaurant. Yes, they do soft openings to make sure that all the staff is running smoothly, to get the press in to try the food, and things like that. Now the doors are open, they are in regular business mode. “You know, we should just sell these dishes at cost. We are new. No one will pay more than cost for them anyways. I sure hope we can keep the lights on while we grow our business this way.”

Your business has exactly one job: to make a profit.

If you feel that you are ready to go in to business, GO IN TO BUSINESS. All the way in. Set yourself up as a business entity. Get the appropriate tax documents for your sales tax. Get a business license if your area requires it. BE A BUSINESS.

Which involves turning a PROFIT. Otherwise, you’ve just got an expensive hobby.

You are allowed to charge competitive rates, ones that are sustainable in the market, from the day your business opens the doors. Matter of fact, I highly encourage it if you want your business to last. You have to be able to cover your costs, your bills, to pay yourself. How much you choose to invest back in your business is up to you, but you need to be making money to invest back in to it.

You’re Allowed to Make a Profit

When you’re struggling with these aspects of your pricing, ask yourself what your business needs, if you’re making a profit, and if you could be making an even higher profit. Go ahead, you’re allowed to make money. That is the whole point of all of this work, after all!

The Top 10 Blog Posts of 2014: A Look Back

Top 10 Blog Posts of 20142014 was a bit of a wild ride for me. It started off with one set of plans – and ended somewhere completely different! As things are taking shape and coming together, as they have been for the past quarter of 2014, I know I’m exactly where I need to be on the path I need to be taking.

Looking back is always a good thing, taking the time to analyze what you did right, what you could have done better. For me, one part of that has been looking through what were the most popular posts I wrote here over the past year.

The Top 10 Blog Posts of 2014

  1. The Annual BIG Black Friday List for Photographers – 2014 – every year, this post is the most popular one that I write. Clearly, you all love a great sale, and I don’t blame you! I have a lot of fun putting it together too. So many great deals!
  2. Have Your Online Galleries Been Hacked? – this was not a good day in the photography world. We discovered that unscrupulous people were accessing client galleries and then sharing all the log-in details online. It hasn’t stopped; I discovered another forum 2 months ago thanks to them actually linking to my post about this! If you think it only applies to boudoir photographers, I’d think again. Especially if you are a children’s photographer. Do you want creepers in those galleries? No. Make your passwords stronger, or consider In Person Sales. (In Person Sales are the way to go!)
  3. Social Media Infusion – The Book – Stephanie & I turned our class about the power of Social Media in to a 96 page book! With great information on how to set up an editorial calendar, the power of using your blog as the hub of your social media universe, and details on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram & Pinterest, it is full of helpful tips for your business! You should get your copy today if you haven’t already!
  4. How to Run a Black Friday Sale without Hurting Your Business – you don’t want to be known as the business that is just running one sale after another, and you definitely don’t want clients just waiting for the next sale instead of booking you now! Here is how I’ve run Black Friday sales in the past without hurting my business; you could do it at any time of year.
  5. Are You Doing the Work to Be at the Top? To Rank High on Google? – I know you want to be #1 for all the key search phrases on Google, but are you doing the work to get there? Are you blogging? Are you taking steps to get to the top? Is it a realistic goal for you?
  6. Why Are Your Readers Here? Day 1 of the 30 Days to Awesomize Your Blog Series – if someone visited your site right now, would it be clear to them what your message is, what your goals are for the site? Why are they here? This series was one of my BIG “things I did right in 2014″ moves!
  7. Using Google Analytics to Build Your Blog Editorial Calendar – Day 11 – 30 Days to Awesomize Your Blog – Not sure what to write about on your blog? You can use Google Analytics to help you figure that out!
  8. The Big Secret to My Successful Photography Business – I spill the beans. Everything you wanted to know about how I went from starting to a 6 figure photography business in the span of 1 year.
  9. The Business Lesson to be Learned from Lafanda Quee – Lafanda tried to make herself look like me, but that alone is not enough to BE me. There was a business lesson in the whole experience.
  10. Spinning, and Finding My Way Upright Again – the last part of 2014 felt like a lot of spinning. So many choices, so many opportunities. I was setting so many rules for myself, and suffering under the weight of all of them. I’m finally upright again.
  11. Why You Need an Editorial Calendar for Your Blog – 30 Days to Awesomize Your Blog Series – the Editorial Calendar is a powerful thing. Such a simple plan can make a HUGE difference in your business. Setting one up for yourself will make your writing for the year ahead so much easier!

Bonus Blog Posts

A few of these are from before 2014, but still crazy popular. Others are ones I wrote over on Vivid & Brave this year. Enjoy!

  • Why I Ditched DVDs for USBs and You Should Too – this single post is by far the most popular post on my blog! A few years old, and yet I still am always surprised to discover people are still using DVDs to deliver files to their clients. I haven’t owned a laptop with a DVD drive in it since 2011. Your clients don’t own them either. It is time to ditch the DVDs!
  • What Lens Should I Buy? Six Tips to Help You Choose! – one of those questions people ask all the time, this post gives you tips on how to choose the best lens for you!
  • IKEA Hack: My Standing Desk – A few IKEA parts and I created a lovely standing desk.
  • Business Planners, Systems, and Working with Intention plus my review of the Big Picture Planner from Design Aglow – two posts, but they go hand-in-hand with each other. Using these things made 2014 a far more productive year for me!
  • The Best Makeup Tutorial Ever – “It really doesn’t matter how you put on your makeup, or if you wear makeup at all – these tips in this makeup tutorial will guarantee that you will be absolutely STUNNING and gorgeous all day long!” (It isn’t what you think it is. You should watch it. Oh, but make sure the kids aren’t around – it has some adult language in it.)

Now to start looking ahead – I’ve got a lot of great posts planned for the coming weeks and months, and I can’t wait to share them with you!

Permission to Clear Out the Old to Clear a New Path for Yourself

Permission to Clear Out the Old to Make Room for the New

Something about the New Year always makes me want to clean. I want the fresh start, the clean slate.

I don’t do resolutions. Instead, I clean out closets.

When we left to visit Mike’s family for Christmas, our plan for when we arrived home was to clean out the house and the garage. When you live in a 1300 sq ft house, it is easy to have too much stuff – and ever since I came home from my last road trip, I just wanted it gone.

I had not planned on coming down with the flu and pneumonia. Or as I have called it for 9 days now, Flumonia.

It took almost a week for my fever to break, which left me not able to do much of anything. Now I finally have no fever, but cleaning still is hard. I can’t stir up dust because it sends me in to coughing fits. My energy level is still so very low.

I couldn’t take it any more though. I had all these plans! Ugh. I hate that about being sick – the fact that all your plans must come to a stop. So much to Mike’s surprise, I ended up cleaning out cabinets in the bathroom yesterday. (No more than 20 minutes!) Later in the day, I had him rearrange our entire bedroom – two dressers and a wardrobe, all shifted places.

Today I tackled a bedroom closet. It is the “electronics” closet, and a lot of my business items are stored in that place. I removed everything I could in a matter of minutes. I had Mike come sweep for me so that the dust bunnies from the deepest corners wouldn’t attack me. I pulled everything out.

Then the heartache started to hit me.

I noticed twinges of it as I cleaned out bathroom cabinets yesterday and made myself toss things like partial cans of hairspray I hadn’t touched in at least a year or two. Today it was different though. Stronger. Bigger.

As much as I love the feeling of clearing these things out, it HURTS.

I’m looking at things I just “had to have” for my business that I never even used. Gear that I’ve replaced, but that I somehow can’t seem to make myself get rid of for some reason. Because honestly? My 10 year old camera will never come out as “backup gear” any time soon.

I’m envious of people that can just get rid of things. I wish I could say I was one of them.

The worst part is the guilt over wasted money. Money that can never be recovered.

Destroying the Power of Guilt

Red Bowler Camera Bag Acme MadeI’m staring right now at this adorable red camera bag which I have never used. I have owned it since 2010. It has moved from room to room, and even from our old house to our new one. Then it took up residence, made a space for itself on a shelf, and I let it live there.

It feels like so many dreams that have come and gone. Maybe that is why I find it such a struggle to release them?

No more. As cute as it is, it has to go. I don’t use it. I won’t use it. I’m not even sure if my camera would fit in there.

It is representative of so many things in my house right now — and I’m formally giving myself permission to NOT feel guilty about moving it OUT.

My donation bag is growing. I’m trashing & recycling as much as I can. I’ll probably sell a few of the photography items. Maybe even the red camera bag.

Permission to Clear Out the Old

When I’m cleaning things out like this, I sometimes have to ask Mike to come sit with me as I do it. I need him there to give me permission to get rid of things. I’ll hold things up that are perfectly good, but that I never use. He tells me to let it go.

It sounds so silly to type it out, but sometimes it is the only way I can get it done otherwise. I need permission.

In case you are like me, I’m giving you permission as well. I know you feel like you’re being wasteful – but really, it is more of a waste to live with all of these things. Clear out the things you don’t LOVE to make room for the things that you do. Get rid of the clothes that are too small. Once they fit again, you would rather have the latest cut & style anyways. Get rid of the clothes that are too big, you don’t want to give yourself permission to regain weight that you have lost. Get rid of business gear that you simply do not use, whether it is product samples or old marketing pieces, or a giant box of business cards that you’ll never touch again.

“Have nothing in your house that you do not know to be useful, or believe to be beautiful.” – William Morris

Are You Doing the Work to Be at the Top? To Rank High on Google?

Doing the work to rank high on Google - You need to blog!

Over and over I see people talk about how they want to rank high on Google. They want to be #1 for SEO. I get it, we all want that! It is what comes after that sentence that always confuses me.

“I want to be #1, but I don’t have time to blog.”

Sometimes it is I don’t like to write, or that I don’t know what to blog about, or that I’m too busy to write on my blog, or … well the list goes on and on. The short version? Blogging isn’t a priority for you, so you’re not making it happen. But why won’t Google let you be in that top spot for SEO?!?

You Don’t Get to Just Jump to the Top

Long gone are the days where just having an SEO guru do some magic things for you will get you in to that spot. If you think that you can hire someone to make it happen, they may be able to trick Google in to it for a short while, but before you know it? Google will penalize you and knock you right back out of it.

Google has ONE JOB. Show the most relevant organic results when someone does a search. (Oh, and the highest bidders for the Adwords paid portion of the page.)

ONE JOB. Show what is organically relevant.

If they didn’t show that as the top result, no one would use Google. We’d all be frustrated and head off to use something else if they were delivering up crap. That is why you can’t just hire someone to do a few months of SEO ninja magic and expect to be on top.

That means that YOU have one job too. If you want that number one spot? You have to create content over and over again that is organically relevant.

I know, I know – you did not get in to business to be a blogger. (Unless you are a blogger…) You got in to business to follow your passion, whatever that may be. Maybe you’re a photographer. A wedding planner. A pen maker. Someone who builds boats. Whatever. That is what you want to be doing. Blogging isn’t it.

All this other fluff and crap is like an annoying fly buzzing around your head. Blogging. Social media. Blah blah blah.

You know what? You want that number 1 spot on Google? You need to tell your story. You need to tell the world why you are relevant. You need to share why you are THE authority on that topic, why you are the best, the one, the resource that needs to be on top.

Lean in a little closer, because I’ll give you THE secret to getting to the top on Google…

Do the work.

My Experience Working with an SEO Guru

I worked with an SEO guy for awhile. (He was so good, he was recruited by a corporation and doesn’t offer SEO help to individuals now, otherwise I’d tell you who. I miss him!) He optimized what he could on my blog, set up my WordPress SEO plugin, did other magical things behind the scenes. Made sure my code was clean on my blog. Checked that I was using a good theme. Checked my titles. Helped me with my site structure. XML maps and all that stuff. He did all the things he could do.

Then he told me that I needed to WRITE. Write daily if I could. At the very least weekly. Write, and write often. So Google would see me as an authority on my topic. Then keep writing. The longer the posts the better.

Google reads words. If your post is “here are some lovely photos of my work” and then 30 photos? It doesn’t care about that. Especially if you don’t optimize those as well for search, but that is a topic for another day.

Go look up anything that interests you on Google. Then see if the first several posts are not blog posts or news articles. Google loves blog posts! They are fresh, relevant content! So they reward it.

You’ll never get anything you want if you don’t make it a priority. You have to tell the world you’re an authority. <<Click here to Tweet!>>

That includes being #1 on Google. Or whatever your desired goal is for that matter.

Want to lose 20lbs? If you don’t make changing how you eat a priority, you won’t get it.
Want to be able to travel for 4 weeks out of the year? If you don’t make structuring your life and work so it can happen a priority, you won’t get it.
Want to make 6 figures this year? If you don’t make working hard and watching your spending a priority, you won’t get it.

Want to be #1 on Google? The first step, I promise you, is to write long, meaningful blog posts. Start there. Make it a priority.

Close Facebook and write a blog post. If you have to trick yourself in to feeling like it is a Facebook post so you actually write? Type it up there, and then paste it in to your blog. I know that everyone who tells me they can’t write blog posts are actually perfectly capable – because most of you are telling me on Facebook. Which, to be honest, isn’t that different from writing on a blog.

This post was inspired by Shae Baxter’s post on Search Engine + Content Strategies For 2015 Part 1: Why Google Wants You To Become A Brand. Reading it this morning sort of blew me away. It also reminded me once again that it all starts with doing the work. Make it a priority. Google wants to share your great content, but only if you deserve it!

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© 2007 - 2015 Christine Tremoulet - Avenger of Sexiness. My Superpower: Helping women grow their Confidence by rediscovering their Beauty.

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