Hey there! Let's talk about... My 4000 weeks update and an update on life without Twitter. Reflections on my "risky" 10 years self-employed. The new structure of B2BWI products. My advice for people who can't seem to make this freelance thing work for them.
See the new product structure! (Link)
The B2BWI Training Catalog (Google Doc)
Hello. Hello. Welcome to B2B craftwork, a podcast about business writing. I'm Sarah brief buck, founder of the B2B writing Institute. And this week I wanna check in on some things I wanna share some changes around the Institute and it all starts with an apology to a random gentleman. I dunno who it was, but I think about this a lot. we were in a Facebook group, elite behind the scenes writer kind of thing. Easily seven years ago or more. And someone had commented asking how to get into the mindset of the B2B buyer. And a lot of great advice was shared. And I chimed in with when in doubt, I actually just think about the DBER comic. and I use a lot of that when I'm writing to think about any stereotypes or common jokes about people in the business world, because I find it to be true a lot. And this gentleman commented after me. Very politely did not respond to what I'd said, but markedly said something to the effect of whatever you do. You definitely wanted to, based on real people and real research, looking back, I can see how I might have been quick to jump to the stereotype thing I do hold by it just a little bit. Cause if you read DBER, it's actually really psychologically on the mark and profound at. From my experience in the corporate world, but now I maybe once or twice a year, I just worry. There's someone out there who thinks that the only research or thinking that I do on any writing that I do is to open Dilbert and read through it. And I just, I'm sorry, whoever that was, I didn't mean it that way. All right, with that apology out in the world. I wanted to give a quick 4,000 weeks update. This is where I continue to rave about how the book 4,000 weeks by Oliver Beman has changed my life. And this week was really interesting because I actually didn't live the leisure lifestyle. Monday through Wednesday. I had a deadline pile up. I had long days at work, busy days at home, and I did end up working, I think Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday night, I did an hour or two after the kids went to sleep. And usually this is where my new good habits would unravel. And just start going to heck. But surprisingly and reassuringly this time, I actually went into it knowing I was gonna have to be a little lax about my new rules and looking forward to just getting back to it Thursday. And that is what happened, ladies and gentlemen. I leaned in for a little bit, got into hyperdrive. Didn't love it. But then I leaned back out and then, I basically took Friday off. I drove to a city nearby to spend the day with a friend and it was incredible. And then I got ready for a really social weekend with family in lots of not work things. So it still surprises me every day. Just how hard it is to let go of things that are important to me, which work is just one of those things on the list, but the things I've been doing, like dropping everything to go see that friend. Meeting my family for rooftop pool party. Most Fridays, I would never have felt free to do that. I would've felt like that time. Quote unquote could have gotten me further but all this is really given me insight into what is further there's no further, there's just a. and you can just do what you can do in a day. And then it is done. like to try to do more than a day's work strikes me now as just really ridiculous and to think I've been doing that for so long. And even more interesting, which I know this is all just such a stereotype. Somebody comes back from vacation and tells everybody to go on vacation, but when I'm taking more time off and when I'm actually disengaging and resting, those moments. Aren't getting me any further towards my goal, but they are very much getting me deeper towards my goal. So it's almost. There's this sense? That progress had to be horizontal before, like it had to be through checklists and C marks, but what's actually happening is that it's vertical and I'm sinking in deeper towards the work I'm trying to do. And it's just feeling better and meaning more whenever I do work. And along with that, I don't know, maybe this is just old age and like I'm getting. Which is scary, but I've been leaning into my gut a lot more and accepting that. I just feel a pull towards some people, I think before I would've tried to figure out a reason why or ignored a pull or just thought of it as some passing thing, but lately I've just been embracing the pull, like you come across people and sometimes it's two magnets and you just know you wanna spend more time together and see what's going on in the business world. And sometimes you don't and I've just been letting myself go ahead and be pulled towards those people. And it's been really. Next update life without Twitter continues. I think over the past week, I've only reflexively typed in the Twitter website twice, which has an improvement over the first two weeks. But it's just fantastic to not care about or know what other people are directing their energy to. And. Really, it makes me think of how much we need examples of other people taking a leap before we take a leap, cuz I can't tell you how many times I've thought of Cal Newport or James clear or a lot of these big names who really just aren't on social. They don't know what's happening on Twitter and they're fine. They're just completely fine. Their business is. And whenever I do get a sense of FOMO where some kind of bad feeling comes up, that maybe I should be doing that stuff. I really think of them. And I think of how they've made room in their lives for these other things that wouldn't be possible if they had, the busyness of social going on. So that's really reassuring. Makes me reflect on how we need to see examples of other people being successful in these scary things like freelancing or starting your own business. I think I take it for granted that's what I do. And that is what people think of when they think of me. Cause to me at this point it's 10 years in, this is just the way my life is now. It doesn't feel risky day in and day. It doesn't feel like taking a big leap. I just have a business. And I do that business work during the day I'm trying to reflect on what I would think of someone running their own business. When I was a. When I was in marketing or government contracting. And I guess what comes to mind is just that they must have had some kind of boss or direction that I just didn't know about or didn't see, which turns out to be pretty true. Like those people, would've just known something that I didn't know at the time, but mainly I think I would've just blinked at them and not really understood what was happen. I don't know. I think I'm just feeling more okay. With being an example of how to run your own business, which is really pretty cool. But if I'm that example for you, I want you to know, I'm basically just taking all of the advice from book yourself solid by Michael port. It's one of the first books I read when I first went off on my own. And that really is what created those behaviors and that knowledge. Of myself as a service provider and that experience, I was gonna give clients and stuff. So if you're still trying to grasp what working for yourself could look like or how it even works, book yourself solid by Michael port, it would be a great book to check out. And so from the outside, it could seem pretty cool. I love my office. I'm starting to actually benefit from vacations and not having a rigorous schedule. I'm starting to set more boundaries and. just saying no and pushing back deadlines and stuff in my inbox in a responsible way, which feels great. But what's the catch of freelancing? The catch is that it's not a hobby. It's a business. And if you don't want a business, then you should definitely get a job because it will not be worth it to Roger a business like a job. The catch is also that no one else can make you. A boss or make it a business. If you don't decide to take off or take vacation, you'll keep working like you would at a job. So it's almost like something inside you has to wake up and decide to run a business and be a boss. It's not just that you go and start freelancing and then suddenly you are a boss and you have all this freedom, at least that wasn't my experience, but you need to go into it knowing that you're performing a service. And you're the boss of a business and you have to treat your business and yourself like an employee that you're trying to give a really good experience to. I think there's a meme that circulates among freelancers, and self-employed people. That's something to the effect of, my boss is a real jerk right. Take today off, but my boss is a jerk. And of course the joke is you are the boss and you're being a jerk to yourself. And it's not like we mean to do this. I'm speaking from experience. I've been a terrible boss to. I would've quit long ago. If someone else was making me do the things I've been doing for the past few years, but it really helps to be exposed to people who are still in the grind and maybe still performing jobs that really bug them or keep them away from their families to appreciate just how much freedom I do have and how much freedom. Can give myself if I can let go of this productivity, mania, and just really settle into what I'm doing. So if I could go back in time, I think one exercise I'd give myself at year four or five of freelancing. When you know, it's really a thing and it's working out, but you haven't hit cruising altitude yet. I would write down or interview. What my dream job would be like, what would my hours be? What would my work week look like? And really have that as a vision to strive for. Because if you just put your head down and just strive for more, you will always be overworking and have something else to do. I wish I'd had vacation or a weekly daytime movie or a lunch date with a friend. I wish that had been in my top five priorities for the past five. Of course, the other side of the overwork coin is that I have accomplished some things that I'm really proud of. So I have mixed feelings about all of this. We're just processing the mess together. I came across some notes that I'd taken from a mastermind. I was in five or six years ago. I wanna say no, it was 2015. So this was seven years ago. And my goal was to sell $10,000 in eBooks, just doing my thing. So being on social media, writing blog posts that come to mind, getting featured by other posters, stuff like that. Now the book deal part didn't come to be yet, but I'm definitely over 10,000 in eBooks just doing my thing. So not exclusively Lance writing. And that is super fun to look back seven years ago and to see. That a goal did happen. And that brings me to some updates about the Institute growth for the Institute. First, I made a huge change to the model of the products that we offer. And it's given me a lot of clarity into who we help and why. And I guess I thought I was being helpful by combining everything into one thing. So the offer was. The B2B writing seminar, which is an eight week program. That really goes into what turns content from SEO mush into actual thoughtful thought leadership. And that happens three times a year, or you can start at any time as replays and then the B2B writing Institute membership, where we're meeting twice a month, once for new training, once for office hours, some fun free bees thrown in throughout the month. And then of course the whole training chem log. And honestly, to me, it just seemed like a shoe in, if you're in B2B or if you wanna be in B2B, this is just the best way to do it. So that made sense to me. But as it turns out, whenever I was getting feedback, whenever I was promoting the product and then I would get questions from people, or honestly, whenever I had my husband read the landing page, it turns out I was just being confusing. It was. I get Nate week course, but it's actually a yearlong membership, but this one's lifetime. This one's not. And of course, when people are confused, they're not gonna invest in something that makes total sense to me. So I've split the programs. We now have just the B2B writing seminar eight week intensive. if you want really thoughtful instruction about how to write in a really sophisticated way, that's gonna let you raise your rates. The B2B writing seminar is where it's at. You get to join us three times a year. Live, get a clip, get feedback from. And what's so interesting when I started to think about this program separately, I realized that almost everybody who's gone through that and has it is a career switcher. So it's a professional who just needs to learn the language of B2B and kind of that structure of marketing to jump careers from whatever their background is into B2B. And that person is very different from the person who actually needs the B2B writing Institute membership That person turned out to be either an intermediate or advanced writer who just wants really specific training on certain things. Or a meandering freelancer, who's making a little money in freelancing, but just hasn't really gotten to that confidence level. Or hasn't gotten to that deficiency level to make this a thing. There's just missing pieces. And for that person, the B2B moonshot machine. Is just perfect because it gives you one to two hours of live back and forth, some Q and a new content, but also this training library that lets you go through your whole writing process and just see where you need to fill in those chunks and fill in those puzzle pieces to make this work for you. So I thought I'd close with some advice for those two types of people. Cause I want every podcast, no matter how meandering or random it is to be helpful, at least. So I would tell my career switcher. So someone coming in to B2B or freelance writing with some professional experience, your professional experience is like behind the enemy lines, Intel, every single thing you've seen or done in your job is incredibly valuable. Cuz it gives you this lived experience that your writing clients want to see reflected in their marketing material. I've just seen it across so many fields at this point, teachers, any technology that you have touched in the classroom, they need marketing materials and they need people who understand the classroom and the pressures that teachers are under administrators under parents are under, and students are. Companies like smart technology who make smart boards, Blackboard podium, all of these different educational tech tools that are coming out. They all have marketing teams and they all need this kind of thought leadership content. I've seen it in banking where someone with industry experience and banking is gonna be able to come in and write about the banking, retail customers experience. With online banking products and you have to get up to speed on the marketing side of things and the common structure for what thought leadership looks like, but your experience that you're bringing to that, and you can ramp up quickly with the B2B side of things is gonna make you so in demand and such an asset to anybody who gets to hire you. So I guess at the end of the. What I'm saying is that B2B writing and B2B marketing are like extra tools that you get to put on your Superman toolbox. Like your experience is what you bring with you in anything you've done as a professional, or even just with whatever education that you have just by being a human on planet earth, you just arm yourself with that B2B side of things. And then you really can't imagine where you're gonna end up. And my next message to my meandering freelancer. to someone who is making a little money, maybe seeing other people make a little money, but it's just not happening strategically or with a process yet something that you can rely on. I just need you to know that there are people just like you, super skinny, super large, super tan and fit or super pasty and hunch. But they're just out there opening their laptops and they're figuring this out and they're making money as freelance writers. So it's okay if it's hard and it's okay if it scares you. And if you keep hitting these unreasonable roadblocks, like all of that's normal, but if you're not getting results, either something is going on with your mindset. And it is something you need to address that you can move through. Or this is just not meant to be. And maybe you're not picking up on the signs that this isn't the best career for. I'm just still trying to find the best words for tough love, to really encourage somebody to go for it and let go of those excuses that can hold you back. Also really empathizing with just how big, an impossible. And scary. This can be if you don't have that in with stuff. So why don't I think it'd be most helpful. Let me break down what I think the parts of freelancing are that you can troubleshoot where you're having some issues and this actually this maps to the Institute training catalogs. That's what I'm gonna pull up and look at while I go through. So I'm gonna say there's seven phases in freelance writing. There's finding work, talking to clients and pricing your writing. There's preparing to write the writing process, the post writing process, and then any templates or systems you use to get really good and fast to what you're doing. I think phase one is where 90% of people. Get stuck and they just wait to go down the drain from there. it's not a good image, but it is something that people really struggle with. And you're not alone if you're having an issue with this, but what you need to do is figure out if I'm having trouble finding work, then I need to go and learn how to find work. I need to learn how to pitch where those clients are, what they're looking for, what I do that overlaps with what they're looking for. There just, there are ways to do. and if you're having trouble finding clients, you need to focus all of your energy on that part for a little while, take a month, and just learned how to find clients, ignore the writing process, ignore pricing, ignore all these other things that can send you down a rabbit hole. You need to figure out how to find work. Once you find that work, you have to talk with clients. You have to walk them through a prospecting call. You have to talk with them in a way that makes them feel comfortable hiring you. You have to contracts all these things getting into place. So if you're finding clients, but then they're not hiring you, talking to clients and pricing and your website are all things to focus on. Next, we've got preparing to write. So this is things like scheduling and capacity planning, your editorial process. Using technology really efficiently. If you are finding work and you're getting people to hire you, but then you can't deliver on what you're promising or you're not sure what to do. That's where you wanna focus. Then we've got your writing process and the post writing process. That's where you're learning how to take meetings, your interviewing subject matter experts. You're writing really good introductions and conclusions. You're handling edits really well and really professionally. So if you're finding work, you're talking to those clients and you're getting hired and you're getting ready for the assignment. But then you freeze on the writing process. That's where you'd really wanna get support for that. And then finally writing templates to me, it's not so much the template because a template in the hands of someone without any sensitivity to B2B is really worthless. And it's not gonna do very much at. To me, a template is more, how do I make my work, an assembly line, like a really fine artist or a chocolate tier when they take their work. And they know that there are certain steps and once that step is done, they know about how long it'll take and they can move that piece of art through all the steps. That's what I'm thinking about when I think of an assembly line or templates. So you wanna have some kind of template or consistent approach that you bring to each of the types of work that you do so that over time you can maintain that quality, maybe even get better, but also do it faster. So that turned into a bit of a rant about the meandering freelancer, but it just feels like to me, the problem is not information anymore. The internet is full of amazing free stuff that will just blow your mind and get you great results. but if you can't organize that or focus that, or fix specific problems in a sequence with that stuff, then it's not gonna serve you and you aren't gonna get what you need from it. So I think what we just talked about should be enough where if you're really stuck with a big one, like finding work, you can go and figure out a way to fix that. If it's talking to clients and pricing, it's that, if it's the actual writing part, it. So that's gonna be all today, but thank you so much for tuning in. I've been getting really neat feedback and I just love getting to talk with everybody in this format. I've got some really fun things coming up for August, but I've learned not to talk about it too much because I was looking forward to that Justin beaver concert for more than a year. And once I started running my mouth online about how excited I was suddenly it got canceled. So I'm gonna treat this, like my aging boomer parents treat medical emergencies and just not tell you all until after it happens. but that's the fun stuff. That's the life I have now with my new leisure lifestyle for the Institute on August 9th, we're gonna have four guest experts come and talk to us. Client experience. And this is all about how freelancers can create a client experience for the people that hire them. That's gonna be smooth, easy, and just bring clients back again and again, cuz what you'll find out after your first three or four years, is that recurring and clients coming back to you or sending people to you should be a really big chunk of your. Then we'll have office hours and then our training for August is gonna be perfect subject matter expert interviews. So how do you get on the phone with a stranger, an executive stranger and get all the best information out of them. And 30 minutes or less, we're gonna tear that apart and hopefully get everybody really comfortable with that. And then I do have some September events lined up already. We've got office. We're gonna have guest experts on B2B copywriting emails, super exciting. And then we're gonna change pace with the training and talk about just the state of B2B writing for 20, 23 later in September. And right around that time is when we're gonna gear up for the next live round of the B2B writing seminar. So if anything, I've been talking about when it comes to. Elevating your writing, figuring out how to be more sophisticated with what you're writing going from those 50 or a hundred dollars posts into the $600,000 or $1,500 territory. This is a really great intensive program that does exactly that. So it takes you eight weeks patiently painstakingly through the writing process and how to think like a B2B writer who is on the higher side of the pay. At this point, we've had more than a hundred people go through it and I just get tons of positive feedback. So I'm gonna keep working on my materials to make sure that positive feedback comes through. But I'm just really proud of that course, but that's all from me. Have a great week.