Business Brilliantly Weekend Edition with Guest Rachel Brenke

Business, Brilliantly Episode 1 – Weekend Edition with Rachel Brenke

Business Brilliantly Weekend Edition with Guest Rachel Brenke

As I mentioned in the previous podcast post, the idea for the Business, Brilliantly show first came to mind while on the phone with Rachel Brenke, so it seemed fitting that I asked her to be the first guest on the show as well. I’m so glad that she said yes!

Rachel is a lawyer, a business consultant, an author – and a mother to five kids, a wife to a loving husband, and training for her second Triathlon. Pretty amazing, right?! She primarily works with photographers (mostly through her other business, The LawTog), creatives, and small business owners. She shares in our conversation why she is passionate about working with small business owners over the choice to go work in a more corporate setting.

We talked a bit about copyright and using photographs that you find online – Rachel wrote up a blog post on this exact topic and included links of places where you can to to find photographs that are legal to be used. You can read all about it here.

As a special bonus gift for tuning in today, be sure to get Rachel’s Disclosure Guide Freebie to get started on making your business online legal. Be sure to visit her shop as well for any other contracts you might need.

One important note: I mention in the show having a “shoe budget” when I was a wedding photographer; I did not make it clear that this was not a business expense or a tax deduction but rather money I paid myself and then set aside to pay for them.

Are you running your Business Brilliantly? Want to know more or continue the conversation? Join us on the Business, Brilliantly Facebook Group and register here for the free Blogging Brilliantly course.

Business Brilliantly Podcast - Episode 00

Business, Brilliantly – Episode 00: Meet Christine

Welcome, welcome! After 6 months of discussing it, planning, it talking to people about it and more – the preview episode of the Business, Brilliantly podcast is LIVE! I can’t believe it is finally here.

This idea started in a conversation with Rachel Brenke of Blog Legally when she interviewed me for a course that she was offering. We had such a great time talking about business, which brought up the idea that the conversation that we were having is something that needed to be shared with a wider audience.

The idea of Business, Brilliantly was born.

In this episode I wanted to share a bit about me, where I come from, and why I feel that defining your own success is so important.

Weekday episodes will be a shorter format, tips, tricks & ideas to help you grow your business online. Weekend Edition episodes will be longer conversations with some of the most brilliant business owners that I know about being an entrepreneur and advice that we have to share with you.

If you have feedback, or people you would like me to invite on the show, please let me know!

Important Links:
– If you would like to join the Facebook group, you can find it as Business Brilliantly.
– Interested in the free course on blogging, you can sign up for Blogging Brilliantly here.

Is your website a place you can truly call home? Time to make it one! New on

Is Your Website a Place You Can Truly Call Home?

I love looking at home decor. Pinterest, magazines, websites – all of it. Domino magazine? Oh goodness, the BEST. Anyone else love Domino magazine? Yes. I can look through them for HOURS. Just ask my friend Tara about the day I spent going through her collection of Domino magazines. It was delightful.

Is your website a place you can truly call home? Time to make it one! New on

Working on my website over the past few months has gotten me thinking a lot about how we decorate our online homes. I’ve mentioned before that you can go to your closet for an idea of what color palette that you love the most for your marketing materials, because you’ll find it there in what you wear. Your decorating preferences? They can be another clue as well!

Brand YOU Throughout Your Marketing & Your Website

Back to those Domino magazines. I love the beauty of a stark white minimalist house. I think they are gorgeous and amazing, and I have always dreamed of someday living in one.

And then it came time to buy a new home.

I looked at loft apartments in Downtown Houston, perfect for that white minimalist feel. You know, the dream houses? Exactly what I wanted? They just did not feel home to me. I tried, I really did. I mean, after all, it was my dream!

It just wasn’t right though. Instead, we selected a bungalow built in 1920 in the Houston Heights area.

Our house in the Heights - Houston, Texas

I love this house. I think it is my favorite house I have ever lived in. A front porch swing, a screened in back porch. Cozy and intimate inside. Yes, I knew it was perfect the minute I walked in the door.

When it came time to decorate it, I went on to decorate it with warm colors. The throw pillows on the gray couch are a rich aubergine purple. Our bedroom is a dusky sky blue. I love wicker, hardwood floors, rich textures. My favorite pieces of furniture throughout the house are antique wood pieces, warm and rich in color and history.

Exactly opposite of that modern minimalist design aesthetic.

Turns out, I don’t think I could live in that cool, white, pure aesthetic at all.

That is great Christine, but what exactly does this have to do with blogging & my business?

A few months ago, this site had a lot of white if you viewed it on a computer desktop. I couldn’t handle all the white. White space, blank and easy on your eyes? Yes. But all white? I hated it every time I looked at my site. I LOVE LOVE LOVE it on other sites – just like I love those minimalist homes – but on my own site? I hated it, and used that as an excuse to not do the work I needed to be doing. I mean, if I didn’t like it – I didn’t exactly want to show it off.

I had a whole flurry of thinking I needed to redesign my website, I started looking around my home. Putting the pieces together of what was missing. Thinking about what I loved, and what I wanted to bring here online.

Warmth. Textures. Things inspired by nature. My adventures, and my passion.

The same things I want to fill my home with are what I am now surrounding myself with here.

When I first launched the current version of this site, I thought I wanted it to be very black & white, with a splash of the watercolor flowers (as inspired by my scarf in the photo of me on this site, and similar to the video below) – and as much as I love wearing those things? I don’t want to actually live with them.

This was THE inspiration for my website design back at the beginning of the year – matter of fact, I hunted for this planner because I really, really wanted to buy it!

The detail on the buffet in our back room of our houseI don’t want my house to be black & white, with only bright flowers in it. I want it to be granite, and rocks, and metal, and wood. The things I love to have around me. For example, this is the detail on one of my favorite antique wood pieces in my house. It is a buffet I originally purchased for my former studio space to hold the TV. Now it lives in the back room of our house, and I enjoy it daily.

Both are authentically me. If I had to live in a house with only one of them? It would be the house like mine. Warmth, wood, surrounded by my photos that I love.

Once I realized the dichotomy of the two design styles that I love so much, it has become so much easier to see exactly what my website needs to look like. It became clear how I need to show up throughout my design, and how much more comfortable it is for me to live with.

These pieces that inspire me so much will not just be in my home here in Houston, they will also represent me on my website, along with the photographs from all of my travel adventures. It is all just so much more me. I feel comfortable here now, and inspired.

How Are You Representing Your Business Online?

How are you showing up on your website? Are the colors and the design something that you could live with if I built a house that coordinated with it, could you stand to live in it? Do you use certain colors not because you love them, but because they are what is trending at the moment in the design world?

Please share below – I would *LOVE* to hear your thoughts on this! Send me a link to your favorite piece of furniture in your home as well – I would love to see it, and see how it is showing up in your business site’s design!

About the Featured Photograph: The photograph for today’s blog post was taken at the park in Sykeston, North Dakota, where my mother grew up and my grandparents lived my entire life. Well, technically, my mom grew up on a farm a few miles outside of town, but her grandparents lived in town, and she went to school and church there. That watertower was a big part of my childhood and going to North Dakota to visit my grandparents during summer vacation. In 2014 I spent a few days there with my parents, just like when I was a kid, and it was so beautiful and serene. My grandparents have been gone for over 10 years now, but it made me happy knowing that we were there, in their town. The sunsets there are always so beautiful, and looking at this photo? It feels reminds me of their home, summertime, and vacations with my family.

The gray house is where I live with my husband Mike, my son, and our two cats in the Houston Heights, just outside of downtown in Houston, Texas. We moved there 4 years ago, and living so centrally has completely changed my opinion of Houston. Now, after being here for 30 years, I finally feel like it is home.

What is Your Excuse for Not Doing the Work?

What Is Your Excuse for Not Doing the Work?

I need to just go ahead and admit it – I am one of those people that totally freaks out when I find out company is coming over. I run around, cleaning up everything in sight. It is sort of a double-edged sword; having company come over makes me clean my house (and I do so love a clean house) and at the same time, it causes stress and anxiety for me over it not being good enough.

All of this? It is a bullshit story in my head.

The reality is, 93% of the time, my company does not care what my house looks like. They came to see us, to share a meal, to have a drink, to laugh and spend time together. When I stop and think about the times I’ve told people I’m too busy for company? It makes me sad thinking of all the missed opportunities.

What is Your Excuse for Not Doing the Work?

Why am I talking about all of this today? Because for the past few weeks, I’ve been doing the same thing with this website, my online home.

I have webinars and courses that I want to offer … you know, once I have my site cleaned up. Because I could not POSSIBLY have you looking at my site without it being absolutely PERFECT.

93% of you probably were just fine with the website the way it was – you came here to see me. (I’m cool with the other 7% of you, I get it – there were some minor issues. I needed to clean things up. I totally agree.)

Mike, my husband, watched me swirl around a list of 7 different WordPress themes that I was considering using on the site. I kept calling him in to ask him what he thought of different ones. Then I would show them to him on the phone. (It has to be mobile friendly, or I’m not using it.) I was bugging my friends, asking them for feedback too. When they stopped responding, I turned to the forums and started to ask there.

I debated sidebars, margins, column widths, navigation options, whether the home page had parallax options or not. For SEVERAL DAYS.

I am so grateful for Mike, because finally he stopped me one day and told me that I had 24 hours. I needed to get a piece of paper and draw out what I wanted the site to look like, and then I had 24 hours to make that happen or I HAD TO STOP.

When I become obsessed, I need someone to stop me like that. I was spinning, I could feel it – and I needed him to make me stop. (I probably should have noticed that all of my friends were no longer answering my questions about it all and taken that as a sign.)

Mike asked me what was going on; why I was so obsessed with doing a redesign when I had just done one back in February? That was when it hit me.

My website is my home, online. I thought I needed the house clean before I could get to work and invite you, my company, over to see it.

The reality was, I was procrastiworking. I was stopping myself from doing what I truly need to do.

I was stopping myself from doing the work I needed to be focusing on out of fear. If I never launch, I can never fail. There is just one problem with that plan: if I never launch, I can never SOAR either.

I spent 22 hours debating over which theme I wanted to use. I installed two on my testing site. When I couldn’t get them to look just like I wanted, I was beyond annoyed. As I was looking at all of my options, I realized that what I had been using? It was perfectly great for my needs. I polished up the photo for the header – swapping it out with my logo. I adjusted the colors. I looked at the vision board I had made. I changed the text on the home page and added graphics and a testimonial there. I referred back to that sketch I had made just over 24 hours earlier, made the minor adjustments needed to get it close enough to that vision, and … here we are.

It took me a matter of hours. After weeks of debate.

Looking back over the past 15 years of my blog, this is how I block myself. Every. Damn. Time. It is always my excuse for not doing the work. Matter of fact, I recently went back to my earliest blog post that is still online, and I was stunned to see it there… I had plans to move forward, but first? First I had to change the site design.

I’m shaking my head over it all. At least now that I know the pattern, I can work with it. When I have a vision for a project, a product, a blog, anything like that? The first thing I do is see it visually. How I want it to look. Once I have that mental image, I need to sketch it out, make it happen, and MOVE ON.

Because 93% of my guests just want the good stuff. I don’t need to change anything here to make them happy. I don’t need to stress over it. You’re not going to judge me over the width of the main column of text, or the exact layout of my sidebar.

HINT: Your website visitors? They feel the same way.

I’ve spent a lot of time thinking about how it all worked out. The changes I wanted to make did not have to take days like they ended up doing. I did not need something new; what I had worked quite well. So what was going on?

Changing up my website design is my way of procrastiworking. What is yours? What are you keeping yourself from doing right now?

Now that I’m back focused in the right direction, I’ll be sharing more about my design process this week. Come back for more! Feel free to leave comments too – it is always great to hear from you.

The photo used in this post is from my visit to the Grand Canyon National Park – South Rim in May, 2015. I headed there after the Mom 2.0 Summit that I attended in Phoenix, Arizona. My last nigh there, we had a beautiful sunset – it was simply breathtaking!

7 Tips to Make Your Website Profitable and help you get out of your own way - by Christine Tremoulet

7 Tips to Make Your Website Profitable

7 Tips to Make Your Website Profitable and help you get out of your own way - by Christine Tremoulet

Alternate Titles: The Latest Redesign Isn’t Much of a Redesign At All; The Bullshit Stories I Tell Myself; Flying Unicorns do NOT drop Glitter Sparkle Magic Dust on Your Business; The Power of a Profitable Website; Make Your Blog Get Back to Work.

I know, those don’t make any sense yet. They will.

I have a confession: I set myself up to fail some days. I mean, this is never an intentional decision – I do not LIKE to fail – but I still self-sabotage a bit some days. You know what I mean?

I’ve been trying to be more mindful when it happens, so that I can then analyze if what I think is a problem in my business really is one, or if I’m just blocking myself.

My most recent blockade that I set up for myself? Thinking I had to completely redesign my website.

My website, as it was, was perfectly fine. It looked good, and it functioned great. No problems there. My problem was it didn’t look JUST RIGHT.

I’ve been down this road before. Matter of fact, I recently read one of my first blog posts back in May, 2000 and I mentioned in the post that I needed to merge sites, and it really needed a different design. 15+ years later, and the story is still the same.

Owning a website is a lot like being a homeowner. I didn’t like the color on the walls in the living room, but instead of going and buying a can of paint? I was ready to tear it all down and build a completely new house.

This is not a realistic response.

I have never caught before that I do this to myself. This time? I had to make myself stop and think about it. Dig in. What was really happening here?

What is the Pattern when I Create this Block for Myself?

Every time I use this excuse to block myself from moving forward in my business, I do the exact same thing — I start to hunt for a new website theme. I spend hours pouring over options. Making lists. I then end up messaging my (very patient) friends to get their feedback on them. After that, I sometimes even ask on Facebook for feedback from more people.

The reality? I’m scared sometimes, and when that happens I’m operating from a place of fear. I’m afraid to be seen, to be heard. I’m afraid that no one will notice me. I’m looking for someone to just tell me what to do.

I want to make it easier on myself. To make it so that I do not have to decide. I hate making decisions. Simultaneously, I insist on controlling the decision. Yeah, it is a little confusing for me too.

Processing Through My Block

One thing I know about myself is that I work things out by talking through them. So I end up weighing things; voicing my opinions on what is not good for me, or offering up alternatives that are good for me. All help me to articulate what I’m looking for in reality. This time, my husband Mike suggested that I draw out what I wanted. That helped me start to get focused; it gave me a super clear direction to go.

At that point, I gave myself two days to find a theme I liked. I narrowed it down to three, and then wrote to the support teams about them to ask if certain features existed.

Moving Forward with My Website

I finally narrowed it down to a new theme! YAY!!! I installed the theme and I jumped right in to make changes.

Then it hit me – finding images and writing copy was going to take me a lot of time. Logical as can be, but something I had not thought of until that very moment. Pictures and words don’t magically appear on your website, after all.

I realized I did NOT have time for that. It was not serving my business or myself. What the HELL was I doing?

I looked back at the sketch I had made. An idea finally started to come together, and I realized that just spending an hour or two on my current website would allow me create something quite close to my original vision – close enough – without that much of a time investment.

There was one more thing that was even more important though: changing my website design was not going to impact the bottom line of my business profits. NOT ONE BIT.

This is the lie that we tell ourselves! We say that if only our website design was perfect, or if our copy on our site was dreamy, THEN our businesses could be great.

Know what makes your business great? Getting it OUT THERE and in front of your ideal people.

Your ideal clients? They don’t give a crap about which theme you are using! They don’t care if your copy is perfectly tweaked and super dreamy! They do not care if unicorns fly overhead and drop glitter sparkle dust all over everything. That is not why they choose to work with you!

7 Easy Tips to Make Sure you Have a Profitable Website

So no more flying unicorns with glitter sparkle. No more bullshit stories about how if your site looks perfect, or just like your competition’s site, then and only then will your business finally take off.

Here is what REALLY matters when it comes to your website:

  1. Is your site functional? Do the graphics load, is it fast, are the links working? Fix anything that is broken. Hire someone to help if needed, you don’t have to DIY. There are only so many hours in the day. Once you have these essentials fixed, move on down the list.
  2. Can your clients find what they are looking for easily? If I start on your home page, can I find out more about you? Can I find what programs or products you are offering? Do you use terms that are familiar to me for your navigation, or are you using phrases that you felt were charming and creative, but leave me hunting all over just for your product or services? Yeah. Don’t make it hard for me. Think about the path you want me to take, and then set your navigation on your site up to match it. Use dropdowns where needed to keep it from being too cluttered. Ditch pages that are not truly essential.
  3. Are your offerings clearly worded and easy me to understand? If you want me to hire you, I need to know what you’re selling, especially the benefits of why I should have it. Give me all the information I need to make a decision! Don’t spend too much time on making the words all perfectly fancy and optimized to the hilt at first; once you are making some money, you can hire an expert to do these things for you. Just get me to where I know what you have, how much it costs (if you want to share that), and how I can get it. Which brings me to…
  4. Is there a way to contact you if I want to know more? If you’re putting all sorts of great stuff on your website, awesome. Do I have to hunt you down to talk to you though? If it isn’t easy, I’ll just move on to the next website on my list. Keep it simple!
  5. Are you providing valuable content that entices me to come back for more? Are you sharing your stories? Your wisdom? Your knowledge? WRITE A BLOG POST ALREADY! You are the expert here! You need to tell me that. You can have the most basic, minimalist website in the world, and if the content is GREAT, I will return over and over again. Content is Queen! (I know some people say Content is King, but women use thousands more words in a day than men according to research, so that makes Content the Queen in my book!)
  6. Do you have a way for me to get on your email list so that you can reach me in the future? You may say that pop-ups are annoying, but I grew my email list by 600 people the first month I had a pop-up and a great offer. SIX HUNDRED people. People that were engaged, and kept coming back for more. Even if you don’t have a pop-up on your website, have links to a list somewhere. Give them a chance to stay in touch.
  7. Are you actually telling people that you have a business and that they can work with you? This is a really, really big one. Are you telling me that I can hire you? Are there calls to action throughout your site? Get on that. Start speaking up and actually telling me why I should work with you. I can’t hear what you don’t say!

Your Profit Margin and Your Website

Now if your website totally sucks and you wouldn’t ever want anyone to see it or to know it belongs to you? Yes. Then you should redesign it. That was not the case for me. My website was solidly in a state of “Good Enough.”

It makes more sense for my business to start making money with what I have and then down the road hire a designer to make my perfect dream a reality. I am NOT generating income for my business when I am working on my website. That does not serve me or my business.

Remember: if your business isn’t making a profit, it isn’t a business. It is an expensive hobby.

I’ve pulled out the website block in my own business. Yes, I spent 2-3 hours moving some things around the other day, changing out my header, adding things to my sidebar. I have a few more changes I would like to make still, but they will happen when they happen – my business is not going to wait on them. I’m going to move forward. I’m going to focus more on sending people here, on working with them, on providing solutions to their problems, and on making money.

Your blog WILL help you dominate your market. It is the content on your site that helps you do that, not the design. Focus where it matters first.

What Are Your Road Blocks? Why Did You Put Them There?

Do you have something standing in your way? Keeping you from moving forward? Is it a flying unicorn with glitter sparkles excuse of what you need to have … and if only you had THAT thing then surely you would be successful?

What is that unicorn really hiding from you? What is the bullshit excuses you are telling yourself?