How to Use AI to Create Content for Your Service-Based Business

How to Use AI to Create Content for Your Service-Based Business

Note: The actual reading time  for this blog may appear to be long, but that’s only because I’ve included some examples of questions and ChatGPT responses. You’ll see this sections as white type on a black background, so that you can skim. 

I also like to break things up with images as well. 

Update early 2024: AI is exploding. This means that:

1. ChatGPT is  mainstream now

2. Even people who claim to be experts on AI at this point are pretty much like cowboys/homesteaders in the old west.  Some claim to have it all figured out. I think the truth is that we’re all still figuring it all out.

3. This blog was outdated about 2 months after I wrote it and will still need to be constantly updated. (This whole topic is humbling) But it needs to be talked about.

I’m planning on writing more about legal implications and how this will all shake out, with the help of some experts who know a lot more than I do. Until then, I’m along for the ride along with you.

4. I originally wrote this blog for beginners to Open AI/ChatGpt. 

As of this update, it’s still geared towards those just getting started, but by this I think that many, myself included, now probably know just enough to be dangerous. 

5. Generative AI is only one aspect of AI technology. 

6. Generative AI is a great tool. I think of it as a co-author or assistant. However, and I’m adamant about this: It is not designed to take the place of your own original content, your personal experience, or your own personal brand. Unless you want to blend in rather than stand out.

Here’s my analogy: A city with 20 pizza joints.  The goal in any market would be to create a brilliant spin (a niche) for how to do pizza:

  • Fast delivery
  • Cheap/affordable
  • Vegan
  • Gourmet
  • Live bands and great beer
  • A cozy dining vibe
  • The best Chicago deep dish pizza ever
  • The best outdoor dining experience

Relying on ChatGTP alone is like homogenizing the entire experience of pizza. It’s and aggregate “middle view” instead of presenting something new and different. Something that stands out. The outliers. The thing that’s perfect for you.

This means:

  • No more cheap, convenient pizza for college students.
  • No more gourmet pizza at that magical place you loved.
  • No more deep dish pizza at that place you never expected to find it.
  • No more gluten-free or vegan options.

Because it all eventually evolved into the same pizza recipe,  dining experience, delivery options/price/convenience over time.

Even if the generated content seems diverse, unique, and interesting over time, it WILL eventually become diluted.

You want to be the outlier, not the middle of the Bell Curve, if you want to stand out in a noisy, saturated market.

Right now, while all this is in it’s infancy, this may sound weird. So far, with the right prompts, we’re getting ideas that we may never have thought of. It’s like going to a party and meeting new people. Everything is new and fresh. 

But eventually.. it could also mean that everything starts to look, feel, and sound the same, just like it would if we never left the party and kept hanging out with the same people for decades. 

I believe that because of this technology, it will be even more critical to be different, to be authentic,  to carve out our own niches, and to focus on personal connection and human experiences.

Use this tool to your advantage instead of letting it turn your niche into the equivalent of putting your pizza (your unique offering) into a  blender.

On the other hand..

7. I can’t even begin to express how this tool has helped me make creating content SO much easier, and getting it out into the world. Without compromising originality. 

If you have not had a chance to read part one of this blog, or are not sure why or how AI can help you grow and scale your business, you can read it here. 

Just in case you have not started yet:

Step 1: Get started with OpenAI.

Update: The OpenAI website is evolving almost on a weekly basis. It’s getting better and more and more intuitive.

To get started with using OpenAI:

Visit the OpenAI website.  You can easily set up an account. Getting started is very intuitive. 

 

Step 2: Get used to ChatGPT

This part hasn’t changed.

This is the part where I encourage you to dive in with both feet and just PLAY.  Think of it as having a an assistant.  Your assistant isn’t driving your business.

Your assistant doesn’t know more than you do about what you do.. or more precisely, why you do what you do the way you do it.. but when you need a good subject line for an email or an outline for a course module or a blog repurposed into a script.. This tool just ROCKS.

Learning how to use ChatGPT effectively, in my opinion, is mostly about learning by doing. By playing around and experimenting, you’ll get a feel for how it works, and how to ask the right questions and provide the right prompts, so that the result is close to what you are looking for.

Begin by creating a test project, such as a blog, and start asking it questions. (I’ll walk you through a scenario in a moment)

Simply click on “New Chat.”

Step 2: Make sure you do the foundational work FIRST (Branding!)

Playing for a while in the ChatGPT “sandbox” and even creating a few social media posts, script outlines, and subject lines is a great idea.

What is NOT a great idea (and I’ll keep stressing this) is relying 100% on this tool to write your content.

A know a few people who are great at prompting. However, this ain’t the way to create your own brand story, mission, message, and content on your home and about page. Not if you want to stand out in today’s market.

Instead, people just want to keep “training it” so that more and more, everything will eventually turn into a soup in which everyone will begin to sound the same.

This step is actually MORE IMPORTANT than EVER.

Another way to put it:  Half-assed input will result, over time, in mediocre content across the board. The old advice applies here: Garbage In, Garbage Out.

The input for your brand needs to be 100% original. Not borrowed and reconfigured using AI.

Plus, you can’t use this tool effectively if you don’t even know the right questions to ask.

These questions will come from doing the foundational work. 

If you don’t know the “what, why, who, where, when, and how” of your business, this tool is going to be little more than an interesting way to waste a few hours of your time.

I can’t stress this enough. I’ve had website clients bypass my process and go right to ChatGPT to write their Home and ABOUT pages.  For real. Don’t do this.

It will just spit out generic information that won’t differentiate you from probably thousands of others online, because there’s not enough information to go on. It won’t work because the captain isn’t sailing their own ship, and has no idea where it’s going, but is still asking the GPS system to take it to the perfect place. 

Let’s say you hired me to create a landing page for your puppy training business.

Would you tell me to “just write a good landing page for my course about how to train puppies?”

Even if you were inclined to spend hours prompting it, YOU are the one that should be driving the process. In order to do this, the work must come from the inside and THEN you can begin market research and THEN start prompting generative AI.

If you hire someone, THEY should be asking you very strategic questions about your brand, so that what is written on the landing page comes from decisions made at the CEO level, not at the level of an employee dinking around and taking a guess at what they think the direction of the company should take.

Without me knowing what you do, why you do it, what makes you unique, who your ideal client is, your message, your story, your voice, and your brand.. it’s going to be Garbage In, Garbage Out. 

Even worse.. if one does this for a SALES page.. which is specifically designed to set you apart and let people know what they should buy from you and not someone else..

Let’s just say that I would be wasting my time and yours. It would be a generic sales page that would frankly, suck. At best, it would be a “hit or miss” process that would be a waste of my time, drive us both crazy, and would have me working for peanuts.

And this is exactly what you would be doing to yourself if you skip the foundational work.

YOU, the human, will need to do this work. No machine will take the place of being intentional and strategic about your message and your brand, or take the place of the direct experience you have and what makes YOU an expert that the right people for you will gladly pay for. 

If you need help with this step, here’s a good place to start.

Later you can decide to take it a step further. (That’s the beauty of having content to meet your ideal client where they are at!)

I don’t want you to get stuck at this point. It doesn’t have to be perfected or written in stone. Your message and branding WILL evolve. You’ll go back and want to edit old blogs and ABOUT pages and landing pages. This is normal.

So just get started, spend at the very least a few hours giving this some thought, and you’ll be a thousand times more effective in generating, writing, and editing content.

Once you are super clear about your brand, message, and what you want to communicate in your first AI assisted blog, you are ready for the next step.  For the sake of simplicity, let’s say that it will be a blog/article. 

 Step 3: Start building your article with core content based on factual data, then drill down to get more specific.

Here’s the process:

First, use the tool as a prompt to help you generate ideas and brainstorm. This works for titles, headings, subheadings, titles, outlines, copy, and more. The hardest part about writing is staring at a blank screen.

If you are stuck on what to write about:

  • Do the foundational work so that your writing comes from a solid place of clarity and purpose. Authors do this, and so should you. 
  • Keep an “idea bucket” handy so that when you are inspired, you dump it there and go back later to find a topic to write about
  • Do some research: What are people posting and talking about on Pinterest, YouTube, Facebook groups, and Amazon reviews? What questions are being asked? What are people complaining about?
  • Use AI to generate ideas for you! (Just ask it, in plain English, for “10 ideas for a blog about sleep and aging.” for example)

Then make a pot of coffee and starting prompting/writing!

The key isn’t to just tell it to “write a blog about 10 ways to get a better night’s sleep.” This kind of generic content won’t actually help you stand out from all the noise.

You can make it more original by “drilling down” and getting more specific with your prompts.

Tips for mastering the art of prompting:

  • Keep your prompts short and clear.
    Give it context, explain who it’s for & what you want to achieve for more relevant and meaningful responses.
  • Keep your prompts natural, pretend like you’re chatting with a (very smart) coworker. It’s easier for ChatGPT to understand you that way.
  • After getting a result, you can give it a follow-up prompt to improve the result. It’s really like a chat.
  • Keep “drilling down” till you refine the content, so that it answers the questions or solves a problem your ideal clients are actually asking about.
  • Use it to repurpose an existing piece of content. For example, copy and paste a blog and ask it to summarize the blog for an email or video script.

Here are some ways you can prompt it to be more specific when it comes to data, logic, and objective facts that help define the work you do:

Type: “Take on the role of an expert in the area of _______. My ideal client is (insert details here)” 

“Give me 10 topics I can write about regarding _______.”

“Write an outline for the topic _______.” 

Can you tell me more about that study?”

“ What are some hormone imbalances that might trigger insomnia”

“ How does blood sugar affect sleep cycles?”

Etc.

Let me walk you through an example.

Let’s try “Give me some ideas for a blog about equine acupuncture”

Here’s what ChatGPT came up with:

Certainly! Here’s a potential outline for a blog post about equine acupuncture:
Title: The Benefits of Equine Acupuncture for Your Horse’s Health and Well-Being

Introduction:

  • Briefly explain what acupuncture is and how it works
  • Introduce the topic of equine acupuncture and its benefits for horses
  • State the purpose of the blog post (to educate horse owners about equine acupuncture and its potential benefits)

Section 1: What is Equine Acupuncture?

  • Define equine acupuncture and its origins
  • Explain how acupuncture can be used to treat various equine conditions and promote overall health and wellness
  • Provide examples of conditions that can be treated with acupuncture (e.g., musculoskeletal issues, respiratory problems, digestive disorders)

Section 2: How Does Equine Acupuncture Work?

  • Describe the key principles of acupuncture, such as qi and meridians
  • Explain how acupuncture needles are inserted and manipulated to stimulate specific points on the horse’s body
  • Discuss the physiological effects of acupuncture, such as increased blood flow, reduced inflammation, and release of endorphins

Section 3: The Benefits of Equine Acupuncture

  • List and describe the benefits of equine acupuncture, such as pain relief, improved mobility, and stress reduction
  • Explain how acupuncture can be used to complement other treatments, such as veterinary care and physical therapy
  • Provide case studies or testimonials from horse owners who have seen positive results from equine acupuncture

Section 4: Finding an Equine Acupuncturist

  • Provide tips for finding a qualified and reputable equine acupuncturist, such as checking credentials and asking for referrals
  • Explain what to expect during an acupuncture session and how to prepare your horse for treatment
  • Discuss the costs of equine acupuncture and whether it is covered by insurance

This is a pretty good start. However, this outline seems more appropriate for an entire course about equine acupuncture. (A course for other acu’s!)

It may be too much for a blog, and it’s likely that it won’t be relevant to the person who lands on you blog, perhaps only wanting to know how they can help their horse who has been acting strangely lately and heard that acupuncture might help.

Let’s zoom in and get more specific. Of course, this blog will also need to be edited and include the voice and essence of a specific brand, a personality, and a unique perspective to solving a problem. We’ll get to that in a moment.

Let’s drill this down a little more:

“Tell me more about the specific benefits for horses who may have emotional or behavioral issues”

The results:

Acupuncture has been shown to have positive effects on horses who suffer from emotional or behavioral issues. Here are some specific benefits that acupuncture can provide for horses with these conditions:

Stress reduction: Horses that experience stress or anxiety can benefit from acupuncture, which can help to reduce cortisol levels and promote relaxation..

Improved mood and behavior: Horses that are moody or have behavioral issues may benefit from acupuncture by promoting the release of endorphins and other feel-good hormones..

Pain relief: Horses that are in pain may exhibit emotional or behavioral issues as a result of their discomfort. Acupuncture can help to reduce pain by stimulating the release of natural pain-relieving substances in the body..

Better sleep: Horses that have difficulty sleeping or staying calm may benefit from acupuncture by promoting better sleep patterns. Acupuncture can help to reduce stress levels and improve blood circulation, leading to improved relaxation and better quality sleep.

Overall, acupuncture can be a safe and effective treatment option for horses with emotional or behavioral issues. By promoting relaxation, reducing pain, and improving overall health, acupuncture can help horses to feel better both physically and emotionally, leading to better behavior and performance. However, it’s important to work with a qualified and experienced equine acupuncturist to ensure that the treatment is appropriate and effective for your horse’s specific needs.

As an acupuncturist, I can start to see where I could take this

I can totally see how this tool can save a LOT of time, both for blogs and more in-depth content, such as an e-book, course, or workshop.

My own real life example

I’ve created my own published guides about how acupuncture works, citing a TON of studies and conducting my own (limited) research. It was more like a meta analysis and guide for existing patients than an academic paper, but still it was a fantastic tool for me to establish authority, expertise, and trust.

Would I have used AI to write it now? Sure. In fact, I may play with creating another edition, using AI.

For this particular subject, (equine acupuncture) there’s a lot I don’t know.

But because I DO know more about acupuncture than the average person and even the average traditional medical experts, (who focus on broad, generic, and “safe” concepts) I know enough to know that I could dig a LOT deeper into this topic.

Translation: I’m guessing you love what you do and could geek out on it all day. If so, you probably won’t be satisfied with the first thing an AI tool presents to you.

Know that you have a starting point for YOUR content, you’ll probably think of ways you can enhance the raw, generated content and make it your own.

If this even just gets your creative juices flowing.. I would call that a big win!

This leads us to the next step.

Step 5: Include your own perspective, insights, and wisdom

Although I’m not an expert on equine acupuncture, the copy generated in the above example could be a great start.

Of course, if it’s just left as is, it’s going to be pretty generic and bland, and honestly, it won’t really help you stand out from the crowd, if equine acupuncture was your niche.

The reason:

There’s nothing included in this copy about YOUR specific philosophy, approach, methodology, personality, new studies, or further training or education you’ve received. (Your brand)

There’s also no specific purpose. Do you want to help the horse owner by showing them a few acupressure points? Questions to ask a veterinarian? What to do about specific issues? Where to get further help?

You can of course, keep asking, but at some point your OWN expertise will take center stage.

Of course, there is a lot more to creating an effective blog post. Like anything else, there’s always more to learn and grow, and more benefits we can gain from it.

I’m not going to get into the nitty-gritty about the art of creating an effective blog, but just know that you don’t want to stop at what ChatGPT spits out at you. Even if it “looks good on paper,” it’s only a start, and you’ll need to make it your own.

For now, let’s assume that you have a blog written that “checks all the boxes” when it comes to the general message and info you want to share.

But something else is missing. The language may feel boring. It may not feel like something YOU would actually say.  Let’s fix that. 

 Step 6: Infuse it with life, uniqueness, and personality

So let’s add some personality and color, starting at the “kindergarten” level. 

Let’s add another dimensional layer to the original prompt:

You can use it to add more color to your copy.

For example, you can ask it for a list of words that describe the feeling of anxiety.

So now you have a thesaurus.

Example

“Can you give me a list of words that describe anxiety”

Sure! Here is a list of words that describe anxiety:

Nervous
Worried
Stressed
Apprehensive
Uneasy
Tense
Insecure

More words to describe anxiety: 

Panicked
Fearful
Agitated
Fidgety
Jittery
Overwhelmed
Anxious

Even more words to describe the feeling of anxiety

Antsy
Restless
Distressed
Hesitant
Edgy
Insecure

I know this is pretty basic, but it can also save you a LOT of time.

I know that I’m fairly articulate, but I rely on the same words and seldome stretch my creative capacity.

Who knows.. This process could make you a better writer, and expand the limited vocabulary you habitually rely on!

Let’s have some more fun..

You could also use the same technique to generate quotes.

“Show me some quotes about overcoming fear from science fiction movies”

Sure, here are some quotes about overcoming fear from science fiction movies:

“Fear is the path to the dark side. Fear leads to anger, anger leads to hate, hate leads to suffering.” – Yoda, Star Wars Episode I: The Phantom Menace

“The only way to deal with fear is to face it head on.” – Keanu Reeves, The Matrix

“Fear doesn’t have to make you cruel or cowardly. Fear can make you kind.” – Doctor Who, Season 10

“Fear can hold you prisoner, hope can set you free.” – Andy Dufresne, The Shawshank Redemption

“Fear is the mind-killer. Fear is the little-death that brings total obliteration.” – Frank Herbert, Dune

 If you like using quotes to spice up your copy, you have the ability to find something cool at your fingertips.

Let’s add one more dimension:

You can use it to play with the tone and voice of your copy.

For example, I copied and pasted an old blog about foot health into the prompt, and asked it the following:

“Can you write an example using this blog that can be easily understood by an 8 year old?”

THIS is pretty impressive:

Hi there! Feet are an important part of our body, but sometimes we forget how important they are. We put our feet in shoes that sometimes are uncomfortable, and we expect them to keep working for us. However, when we don’t take care of our feet, the rest of our body can suffer too.

Feet are important for balance and agility, which are important for everyday life and sports. The muscles in our feet need to be used so we can move and exercise properly, and avoid pain… etc.

Or..

“Can you make the tone more (Witty, authoritative, warm, etc)

I asked it to add in a touch of warmth and humor. The result:

 Hello there! Let’s talk about FEET! (Yes, feet!) They’re important, and let’s face it, a bit under-appreciated. We often force them into shoes that are more like torture devices than anything else and expect them to just keep working for us. But the truth is, our feet need love and attention too! If we don’t take care of them, the rest of our body suffers. That’s why foot health is crucial for athletic performance and everyday life..

This is one of those “gee whiz” tools that is still kind of a novelty, and honestly, I think too many people rely on this. The result is usually pretty bland, and even makes me want to roll my eyes at what “the blender” thinks is funny. 

For example, I love to use analogies to illustrate a point. I also love to include nerdy, cultural references and a dash of humor.

This is another ingredient to add to our “content stew” to make it not just more interesting, but uniquely YOURS.

And there’s STILL something vital that’s missing:

Step 7: Tell a STORY. (Your brand story, and the story of your ideal client/hero)

This is probably one of the most important elements of not only content creation, but modern marketing in general.

Yes, it’s a buzzword, but storytelling has been around for ages.

Human brains are simply wired to remember narrative and stories more than the bullet points and factual information we’ve uncovered so far.

This is something that AI is unable to pull off. It can’t read your mind or know your story, your brand story, and the nuances that connect you and your ideal clients.

Rather than talk about it here, you can read more about Storytelling in this blog.

Or more about the limitations of AI here.

I also teach these concepts on a deeper level in some of my courses and workshops, and memberships.

Even though ChatGPT can’t give you an entire strategy, it CAN be helpful in getting you going in the right direction. 

An example: Let’s say I want to create my own “Brand Origin” story.  I’m becoming a bit of a nerd lately about what makes a great story, especially for the fantasy and sci-fi genre. There’s a lot of thought that goes into something as simple as introducing a character. 

Without this, the audience tends to not be as emotionally invested in the character. 

If this is true for movies and fiction, why can’t I apply this to my own brand story? I thought. 

So I asked ChatGPT to help me out:

Me: How do I write a compelling Brand Story

Answer: Writing a compelling brand story involves crafting a narrative that resonates with your audience, communicates your brand’s values, and distinguishes your brand from competitors. Here’s a step-by-step guide to help you create a compelling brand story:

Know Your Audience: Understand who your target audience is, their needs, desires, and pain points. Tailor your story to resonate with them emotionally and intellectuall

Define Your Brand Identity: Clearly articulate your brand’s mission, values, and unique selling propositions. What makes your brand different? What do you stand for? What problem are you solving for your customers

Identify Your Origin Story: Every brand has a beginning. Share the story of how your brand was founded, including the challenges, successes, and pivotal moments that shaped its journey. Highlight the passion and purpose behind your brand’s creation.

Focus on Benefits, not Features: Instead of solely emphasizing product features, focus on the benefits your product or service brings to your customers’ lives. How does it make their lives better, easier, or more enjoyable?

Create Emotional Connections: Use storytelling techniques to evoke emotions and create a connection with your audience. Share anecdotes, testimonials, or real-life examples that demonstrate the impact of your brand on people’s lives.

Be Authentic and Transparent: Authenticity builds trust. Be genuine in your storytelling, and don’t be afraid to show vulnerability or share your brand’s challenges. Transparency fosters credibility and strengthens your brand’s relationship with customers.

Keep it Simple and Memorable: Avoid jargon or overly complex language. Keep your brand story concise, clear, and easy to remember. Aim for simplicity without sacrificing depth or impact.

Showcase Your Values and Purpose: Communicate the values that drive your brand and the positive impact you aspire to make in the world. Customers are increasingly drawn to brands that align with their own values and contribute to causes they care about.

Highlight Customer Success Stories: Share stories of satisfied customers who have benefited from your product or service. Testimonials and case studies can add credibility to your brand story and demonstrate real-world results.

Iterate and Refine: Your brand story is not set in stone. Continuously evaluate and refine it based on feedback, market changes, and evolving customer preferences. Keep it relevant and engaging over time.

Remember, a compelling brand story is more than just marketing—it’s a powerful tool for building connections, inspiring loyalty, and standing out in a crowded marketplace.

Notice how the response is totally backing up the case that I presented about doing foundational work? 

So I took it one step further.. 

Me: Is there a way to do this if I’m inspired by Spiderman’s origin story?
ChatGPT
ChatGPT

Absolutely! Drawing inspiration from Spider-Man’s origin story can infuse your brand narrative with elements of heroism, resilience, and personal growth. Here’s how you can adapt Spider-Man’s origin story into a compelling brand narrative:

The Underdog Beginnings: Like Peter Parker, your brand can start from humble beginnings, facing challenges and setbacks along the way. Emphasize the journey from adversity to triumph, showcasing how your brand overcame obstacles to become what it is today.

Discovering Unique Strengths: Just as Peter Parker discovers his superpowers, highlight the unique strengths or capabilities that set your brand apart from competitors. This could be innovative technology, exceptional customer service, or a distinctive brand personality.

Call to Action: Similar to Peter’s realization that “with great power comes great responsibility,” define the mission and purpose of your brand. What problem are you solving, and why is it important? Frame your brand’s mission as a call to action that inspires others to join your cause.

Embracing Identity and Values: Spider-Man’s iconic costume symbolizes his identity and values. Define the visual and verbal elements of your brand identity, such as logo, colors, and messaging, that reflect your brand’s personality and values.

Facing Adversity: Just as Spider-Man faces formidable villains, acknowledge the challenges and competition in your industry. Highlight how your brand confronts these challenges head-on, demonstrating resilience and determination.

Building Connections: Spider-Man is known for his strong connections to the community. Similarly, emphasize the relationships your brand builds with customers, employees, and stakeholders. Showcase how your brand listens to feedback, engages with the community, and fosters meaningful connections.

Continuous Growth and Improvement: Spider-Man’s journey is marked by growth, learning, and self-improvement. Position your brand as a dynamic entity that continuously evolves, innovates, and adapts to meet the changing needs of your audience.

Empowering Others: Spider-Man inspires others to be heroes in their own right. Similarly, your brand can empower customers to achieve their goals, overcome challenges, and make a positive impact in their lives and communities.

By weaving elements of Spider-Man’s origin story into your brand narrative, you can create a compelling and memorable story that resonates with your audience and sets your brand apart. Just be sure to infuse it with your own unique identity, values, and mission to make it authentically yours.

I’m impressed!

Notice how this story can’t be written by generative AI, because it’s OUR story. We can prompt it, and it can prompt us, but the actual CONTENT (story) must come from within us humans.

Bottom line: These tools can provide a fantastic head start. However, I don’t advise using the copy generated as is, without some editing, enhancement, infusion of your own personality, and some storytelling.

Step 8: Add some images

Update: I’ve seen some fantastic AI generated images on DeviantArt (I’m a big fantasy and steampunk fan)

I am being very cautious about emerging copyright laws. For example, can I use an AI generated image on my own website? Do I need permission from the creator? How much was based on their own work? 

It gets super fuzzy. 

What about creating images from scratch? 

I don’t feel confident advising anyone about how to generate images from scratch as of (this month) because unless you know what you are doing, the images tend to look like shit:

  • Hands with 4 or 6 fingers
  • A hazy appearance
  • Images that just look “off.”

I’m not an expert in this area but I’ll report back.

Step 9: Optimize for SEO

Now that you’ve worked so hard, you want your content (blog/article) to be FOUND.

You want to optimize it for SEO.(Search Engine Optimization) so that the right people can find you in a search. Generally, for a blog, this includes Google. (Pinterest is another search engine but I’ll talk about that in another article)

Good news: You can use AI to optimize your copy for SEO.

I’m not going to dive into the SEO weeds in this blog. You can read more about it here.

Just know for now that we want to use strategic keywords, so that our ideal clients can find us in a search. We also want to check off a few items to “optimize” our content (blog/article in this case) for SEO.

If this sounds like vague information, it’s because it IS. I don’t want to leave you hanging with this “non-advice.” But I’ve got you covered!

More good news: A good tool will guide you by providing a built-in checklist. This isn’t about the technical part of SEO, but about the actual, written content, and making it easier for real humans to find it, read it, and get their questions answered.

When you look at it this way, (helping your ideal client) it may change the way you look at SEO.

The checklist includes optimizing for:

  • Word count
  • Meta description (The description of your page that shows up in the SERPS or search engine results pages, usually around 150 characters)
  • Keyword usage
  • Formatting: Use of titles, headings, and subheadings to organize information
    Use of images

..and more.

A good tool will guide you through each, by suggesting best practices and providing an easy, visual, alert system if something isn’t “check off” or optimized.

I also find it useful to do some research to discover:

  • Which keywords are getting a good amount of search volume but also aren’t so competitive that it would be impossible to rank for
  • The keywords my competitors are ranking for
  • “Long tail” keywords that I may not have thought of. These are typically longer phrases that may have less search volume, but are less competitive, more “niche” and more likely to attract a very specific person with a specific intent.Example: Instead of ranking for “Equine acupuncture” you could rank for “How to help your horse relax with acupuncture”

Yes, great, but HOW? Great question.

Usually, this means hopping in and out of tools like Moz and SemRush, which are great, but can be expensive for entrepreneurs just starting out, and can also be very labor intensive.

Which usually means that we as content creators end up..
Well, not creating content but putting it off.

That’s not good. What’s the point of having one good tool if there’s a bottleneck somewhere else?

The cool thing about these tools is that they will also teach you some SEO best practices. (Keeping in mind that these DO change, and that’s just the nature of the SEO beast)

Since many entrepreneurs give almost no thought to optimizing their content for search, you’ll be at an advantage

 Since this is an article about AI, you might be wondering:

Why can’t I just use AI for SEO?

The answer is that generative AI isn’t the place to discover which keywords are going to be the best based on search volume and difficulty (competitiveness) This is because it’s not based on the data sets that come from search engines that give us some insight about how certain keywords might do in our own rankings. 

What you CAN research is something called seed keywords. 

These are often really just words and phrases and queries arrived at via brainstorming and common sense: 

Equine acupuncture near Edmonton
Will acupuncture help my horse relax? 
Key acupressure points for horses

You can also ask ChatGPT for some seed keyword ideas. 

Don’t forget that before you start researching for seed keywords, you really need to have a good feel for your niche, where your ideal clients are in the buyer’s journey (search intent: Are they ready to buy now, or are they doing research? Or are they just curious or looking for a way to solve a problem but are not aware of the kinds of solutions you provide? 

That’s why it’s good to have content for all stages. 

AFTER you find some good seed keywords you’ll still want to do some at least basic research to find out how much search volume that keyword gets and if it’s super competitive (difficult) to rank for. 

For this, you can use a free tool like Moz. I’ll be writing more about this later.. so that we don’t end up going down TWO rabbit holes at once! 

Conclusion:

I know this process works. I just wrote 2 in depth blogs in a few hours. In the past, I’m confident that it would have taken much longer.

But it’s not just about cranking out as much as you can, just because you can.

Quality, relevance, and connection is the first priority. From there, we can streamline.

Keep in mind that this will be a process.. You’ll get better at clarity, defining your niche and message, researching, prompting, writing, expressing yourself, and doing it all even more efficiently over time.

With practice, of course.

Sometimes we all need a little help. That’s why we take classes and workshops that will accelerate this process and make it easier for you. Check out the resources below

Through this journey you’ll also expand your knowledge/expertise, have more share, and generally become a better writer and storyteller.

This is why I don’t think that AI will completely replace human intelligence. In fact, I think that people will want MORE human connection and insight, not less, as the technology progresses.

It’s up to us to be proactive about how we want to use it.

I’ll certainly need to keep these blogs updated as the tools improve, and keep you posted on new discoveries, developments, insights, and tips.

I’ll also be exploring how AI can be used in other areas of your business.

Need help with smart content creation?

Content drives your business, there’s no doubt. 

Creating content isn’t about just writing what comes to mind in the moment.

Although great content comes from your expertise and passion.. ultimately, your blog, videos, podcast, or whatever,  are not your journal.

Each piece of content you write needs to have a purpose,  direct traffic to  your website, and serve you long past the point when you upload your creation to the world.

(Hooray.. this means you don’t need to dance on TikTok everyday!)

I’m guessing you don’t want content creation to take over your life. 

I can help you with this. It could be something I have for free, a low cost membership, a workshop, a course, or coaching.  It has to make sense for you and where you are at right now.

Let’s figure it out together (No hard pitch)  by answering a few short questions below,  (It’s my coaching application) and I’ll direct you to the best option for you via email.

Sound good?

How can I use AI as a service-based entrepreneur?

How can I use AI as a service-based entrepreneur?

You may even be asking yourself: Should I use AI in my service-based business?

This is a great question. Many of my clients are pretty savvy and although diving in, are wondering what’s in it for them and their clients in the long run.

I also know that at the time of this writing, AI is a topic you may be tired of hearing about, but a conversation that needs to be had.

I’ve been putting off the writing of this blog series, I admit.

I didn’t want to just add my voice to the already deafening noise without at least having a clue as to what I’m talking about. I wanted to speak about it in a narrative that sounds like a real human and not just another blog that consists of only AI generated content to prove a point.

I also didn’t want to have to update this blog every month just to barely keep up.

However, now it’s time to say something about the future of AI and the role it may play in growing and scaling a  service-based and freedom-based business, knowing that I’ll still need to come back and update this article.

In a nutshell:

I believe that as a service-based entrepreneur who wants to help more people by making it easier for potential clients to have access to your services AND provide a better experience, it’s a good idea to embrace AI and find ways to use it to your own advantage. 

Let’s explore that!

In this blog post, we will explore the positive and negative potential of AI, and 4 reasons you will want to learn more about it.

I’ll also begin to show you how you can use AI and ChatGPT in your service-based business. These tools will help you streamline your operations, automate repetitive tasks, and deliver a better client or patient experience. With the right tools and strategies in place, you can leverage the power of AI to take your business to the next level and stay ahead of the competition.

Staying ahead of the AI game

First, let’s start by saying that you will be ahead of the game by remaining curious and open-minded about AI.

Currently, there are 2 camps:

The buzz in the circles that I hang out in usually go something like this:

“I”m excited about AI and what I can do with it. It’s going to change the way we work for the better.”

These are the entrepreneurs I’ve been hanging out with lately, who tend to be pioneers with a strong entrepreneurial spirit, or people in creative industries like music. They also tend to downplay any potential negative consequences.

OR

“I’m scared. I don’t like anything about it.. It will mean lost jobs and other dire consequences. It’s going to take over humanity in general.”

In other words, doomsday predictions. Of course, the media, as usual, is fueling the fear, because those headlines get clicks. This is the general sentiment among the older people I’m acquainted with. Which is normal, looking historically at how humans tend to deal with major changes.

Others are avoiding it for the same reason they avoid anything that has to do with technology in the first place.

Me? I’m agnostic. Middle of the road. That’s my nature. I don’t have enough information yet to make any such broad claims about AI. To me this seems obvious.. How can I possibly predict the benefits and the consequences this early in the game?

Even if I’m already using it regularly, it’s still almost impossible to predict the future.

I’ll be honest, at first I thought I was late to the party because I’ve only just started using chat GPT/Open AI. But the reason is because I’ve already tried other AI generative tools about a year ago, and actually, I was mildly impressed, but the tools were still clunky and expensive, and I didn’t know much about how to get what I needed from it.

Since then, I’ve been playing around a bit more with Jasper and ScaleNut. This article was written mostly by me, with a little bit of help with some sections via ScaleNut. I also used it to help me quickly and easily optimize this article for SEO.

So here’s proof already that I’m able to crank out content a LOT faster, and spend less time on SEO.

By the way, if are not sure what it is or how to use it, don’t worry.. I’m going to break it down and help you get started. It doesn’t need to be a big secret or mystery anymore. In fact, you are probably already using it.

The truth is, AI is here.. and Iike it or hate it, ignoring it isn’t a great idea. Learning as much as we can is a smart move, especially for entrepreneurs. And that of course, includes service-based entrepreneurs.

If you are reading this, I’m guessing that you are one of the early adopters/enthusiasts or an agnostic. (Smart!)

However, the downside is that constantly hearing about the negative implications is that it isn’t always constructive or informative, and it can create extra anxiety and doubt. And no entrepreneur needs more anxiety and doubt. We’ve got enough to worry about.

However, there are some caveats that we need to face.

The Downside of AI for entrepreneurs

AI does have a downside, and it’s still too early to tell to what extent it will affect many service-based industries.

Here’s a different way to look at it or reframe it:

AI as a disruptor/game changer

As a GenXer I remember the early days of the internet and email. (yes, I feel old) I was playing with building websites even back in the 90’s, and felt very optimistic about it all. I didn’t see how it would change just about everything on a foundational level.. the way we share information, interact, and do business, for starters.

It was disruptive. Even though it took years for it to reach the point it is at today.

AI, like the internet, is something often referred to as disruptive. For your average person, this word implies something negative, to be avoided.

For those in the know, (like you) the word, to use a cliche, is an actual game changer. Which means that some industries and ways of life will disappear, but that other opportunities will emerge. Likely a lot faster than the changes that took place 20 or 30 years ago.

That’s why I keep saying that NOW is the time to be curious and expansive and take a few risks, rather than contract in an attempt to remain “safe.” (Which ironically, isn’t a safe strategy)

A great example would be the lightbulb, the automobile, the airplane, the telephone, radio, television, and the internet. People at the time of these inventions DID experience some disruption (candlemakers) and DID claim that it would be the worst thing possible for humanity (automobiles, televisions) We can almost look back and laugh at some of these dire predictions.

But they aren’t entirely wrong. There have indeed been negative consequences that required the vast majority of humans to adapt, as well as the positive implications.

On the other hand, these things have obviously shaped society in the 20th and 21st centuries.

Current limitations of Artificial Intelligence for entrepreneurs

Things AI probably can’t do, or can’t do well: (at least for now)

  • Tell a unique story using your own unique brand voice. However, I believe that it will help us make more time for creating our own stories, since we don’t have to do as much tedious work in creating outlines, writing facts and bullet points, optimizing for SEO, or otherwise starting with a blank page from scratch.
  • Write the perfect blog without any editing on your part. A human will still need to step in to edit and optimize content.
  • Create copy that will sell. So far I don’t see fewer job listings for copywriters, but MORE, but the job descriptions now include fluency in AI generating tools. Will entrepreneurs still need to be skilled in copywriting or at least hire someone who is good at it? Hell yes. Writing good copy is about connecting emotionally to your ideal client or customer.
  • Mimic the experience of a live performance that depends on the interaction of each musician (as a member of a band in the past, this IS a very important thing)

Reasons for these shortcomings:

1. It hasn’t learned enough about certain topics to generate effective content. A great example is this blog. I may need to improve my prompting skills, but the content it did provide wasn’t able to communicate what I wanted to here, which is about what I’m thinking and what my audience may be thinking about AI and if or how or when it can be useful to them. This isn’t an entirely bad thing.

For example, it would appear that there simply isn’t yet much information about AI and its significance for coaches, wellness professionals, and certain types of creative entrepreneurs.. yet. Plus, this blog definitely has my own story and my own personality embedded in it. And that’s a GOOD thing. 

2. Limited accuracy: Yep, it sometimes makes shit up. (hallucinates) I typed in a prompt to show me the script for an episode of Buffy the Vampire Slayer and it was completely fabricated, although somewhat coherent and plausible. I suppose it was its own form of entertainment.. New Buffy episodes! (what’s next.. Fully developed new episodes in which the original actors haven’t aged a bit?)

This is one reason we need to be careful about how we use it.

Image generation still has a long way to go, as of this writing. AI still generates pictures that remind me of dreams with incomplete recollection of how objects and people actually look. It doesn’t, for example, render human hands very well.

While great for some images, it doesn’t always hit it out of the park. Here’s an example of an experiment I had for a blog about GenX women and our tendency to embrace the “I don’t give a fuck” mindset, in a good way. (Prompt: Older/middle-aged woman crowd surfing in a mosh pit) It came up with this:

It reminds me of some of my more bizarre dreams than a real, genuine aspirational moment.  I don’t think that AI can tell the difference between the “Boomer” generation and Gex, either. It has a great imagination, but doesn’t really get human nuance and culture (yet?)

3. There is potential for an oversaturation of new content, unless there is new technology to manage it. What does this mean in terms of Google’s role in distributing information?

Keeping in mind that there is an actual limitation of available space for searches.. What will show up in the top results or get indexed, and what won’t?

It’s the same problem that libraries and stores face.. What should be stocked, based on the available space?

Hint: You won’t be able to rank for a generic listicle about “10 ways to stay hydrated” anymore. Machines will take care of the most basic info that can be found online. This only means that we’ll have to be more strategic, creative, and original.

Ironically, it will be the human factor: Our stories, originality, problem-solving abilities, personality, and overall “vibe” will end up being the deciding factors in whether people buy from us or interact with us.. or not.

Originality is not something I foresee at the moment being a problem for entrepreneurs who offer high-level strategies and solutions for their clients or patients.

However, it could be for those who focus on services that could easily be taken over by AI, which has already happened with transcription services, data entry, and other services. The more we can offer a complete strategy or solution to a unique problem, the better off we’ll be.

Actually, this has already happened to me. I no longer offer my traditional content marketing services because of how the process has changed.  Instead, I can teach people how to write a great blog using technology, current SEO best practices, and the power of human skills such as branding and storytelling.

Or I can focus on creating even MORE high quality and focused content for clients  (If I so chose.)

This really just “forces” us to look at making our services less of a commodity, which I believe is something most of us need to be doing anyway.  This is true not just for “tech” fields, but also health and wellness and other related services.

How we get found online is also changing.  Microsoft has also entered the game, and SEO is also undergoing rapid changes. At the time of this writing, I don’t have enough information as to how this will all play out.

Will there be negative consequences that haven’t even been considered yet? I’m betting on it. And preparing for it. NOT by ignoring it and not by simply just complaining about it.

This is about more than just avoiding potential negative consequences. I believe that there are a lot of POSITIVE things that will come about, and it’s the perfect thing to take advantage of now and leverage for your business.. starting right now.

I’m choosing to be open and optimistic, and to keep learning.

By now you may be wondering “Ok great, why should I use it in my business? I’m going to explore the why first, and then later, the HOW.

Reasons to start using AI In Your Service-Based Business

Reason #1: You are probably already using AI

Despite all the buzz about its potential, what many are forgetting is that it’s already been around for a while and already being used.

Chances are very good that you’ve already used it for:

  • Transcribing audio to text
  • Interacting with a chatbot
  • Removing the background from a digital image
  • Choosing a Netflix series to watch next
  • Using a streaming music service like Pandora that “learns” about our taste in music
  • Ordering something from Amazon based on suggestions relating to your previous purchases and preferences
  • Personalizing an email campaign or using conditional logic to send specific emails to a specific group of people on your email list
  • Targeting an audience for Facebook or Google ads
  • Playing around with AR tools when shopping or for fun

When these technologies first emerged, many people were freaking out about how “creepy” it seemed.

For example.. seeing an ad based on a topic they just recently explored online.

Or seeing suggestions for books, music, or movies that we might like. How did it KNOW that?

Now, for the most part, it’s second nature. Now most entrepreneurs know what that looks like on the back end, if they have ever run ads or personalized an email campaign.

Today, it’s all about being able to deliver relevant and personalized experiences.  Nobody wants to be bombarded by email and ads that are irrelevant to their own lives. AI is the solution for this because it’s impossible to do this manually once you begin to grow and scale your business.

Reason #2: AI’s generative tools can save you time and help you create high quality content that you may have never even considered before

Recently, we’ve been able to:

  • Generate text based on conversational prompts. I used AI to create an outline, a few sections and headings, and SEO optimization for this blog.
  • Generate images that we could have only imagined in our wildest dreams This suits my steampunk branding pretty well, but as I mentioned before, AI doesn’t always get it right when it comes to photorealistic renderings.
  • Generate code snippets: “give me a CSS code snippet that will allow me to change the color of my navigation bar on my website when someone scrolls, and makes the bar sticky”

..and more.

In the future, I’m imagining AI might help me:

  • Create 10 compelling images of a middle-aged woman (even if I can’t see a face) crowd-surfing or stage diving or moshing
  • Edit a video consisting of my voice narration and slide deck without having to re-record.
  • Compose music, easily and inexpensively
  • Build an entire website without having to master coding or knowing any code at all..and who knows what else.

Reason #3: Ignoring it won’t keep you “safe.”

Personally, I think that hiding from it is a terrible idea.

If it’s “the enemy”, there’s a very wise saying about how important it is to know your enemy.
I’ve got friends who are coders, artists, musicians, and composers and their strategy is the same. They have the most to lose, but are embracing it as a tool.

As for service-based entrepreneurs.. I don’t think it’s wise to ignore it for long, even if it seems like it won’t affect us.

In the long run, I think that it’s going to all shake out to be the same as any other cultural disruptor in history. Not that it isn’t a big deal.. It IS.

I would rather be able to see how it can benefit me and the people I serve, by being proactive, rather than being passive for now and going through the pain of having to react to the changes coming up.

Reason #4: AI is here to stay. If we are proactive, we can probably benefit.

This isn’t about hopping on a bandwagon. Like the internet, it’s here to stay. It can help you with many more of your entrepreneurial tasks.. Such as workflow, making website changes, SEO, and more. (YES!)

If it’s an ally, I want to get to know it better.

If it means that some work will be done by machines rather than humans, now’s a good time to start thinking about how to solve more complex and nuanced problems for your clients, in a way that they can’t get anywhere else.

I’m also choosing to be optimistic and curious about it all. In my own agnostic way. (Which literally means: “I don’t know” yet.)

Reason #5: It’s easy to get started using AI to generate content, and it’s even free!

Check out part two of this series about AI where I’ll show you how to create content for your service-based business using chatGPT. 

Need help with smart content creation?

Content drives your business, there’s no doubt.

Creating content isn’t about just writing what comes to mind in the moment.

Although great content comes from your expertise and passion.. ultimately, your blog, videos, podcast, or whatever,  are not your journal.

Each piece of content you write needs to have a purpose, direct traffic to  your website, and serve you long past the point when you upload your creation to the world.

(Hooray.. this means you don’t need to dance on TikTok everyday!)

I’m guessing you don’t want content creation to take over your life. 

I can help you with this. It could be something I have for free, a low cost membership, a workshop, a course, or coaching.  It has to make sense for you and where you are at right now.

Let’s figure it out together (No hard pitch)  by answering a few short questions below,  (It’s my coaching application) and I’ll direct you to the best option for you via email.

Sound good?

How to Grow Your Service-Based Business Without Working More Hours

How to Grow Your Service-Based Business Without Working More Hours

I admit it. I’ve always been kind of a rebel.

If someone told me how I was supposed to run my business, and it didn’t sit right with me, I would ignore conventional advice and do whatever the hell I wanted.

This has usually worked out for me.  In fact, I didn’t realize it the time, but I was ahead of my time.

I’m the antithesis of “get more patients into your practice” or “book more clients” mentality and the quantity over quality mindset that has run the show for years.

There’s nothing wrong with doing 1:1 work with clients or patients. In fact, it’s a necessary part of gaining experience and a rewarding way to interact with the human beings we work with.

However, I’m going to make a wild guess: The majority of us (especially us rebels) are really quite over the idea the only way to make money is to sacrifice one of the most rare and precious resources we have: Our time. 

You can think about it in terms of how short life is. Or how much time we can actually devote to “filling the calendar.”

First, the law of physics gets in the way.  Time is finite.

Second, let’s get realistic. Selling one hour of billable time means giving away a LOT more unbillable time. Including the time we spent in school (and the debt we need to repay) continuing education, research, onboarding, answering questions, and the jazillions of admin tasks.

Plus, we need to take care of the mundane stuff. Which consumes a pretty large portion of our daily allotment of TIME.  This puts an upper limit on our earning potential.

But until a few years ago, the wellness and service-based industry was pretty dang slow about a solution for this very real problem.  In fact, I think that many practitioners (still) only make the problem worse.

Before I share the 5 “things” that I think are key for getting out of this trap..

I’m going to make a bold claim:

The dependence on the 1:1 model for service-based entrepreneurs, and in particular wellness entrepreneurs, is outdated.

The reasons:

  • It’s not accessible to everyone who wants and needs your services
  • It doesn’t meet the needs of all your clients or patients, at any stage they are in (they need more options)
  • It’s exhausting and low paying for the entrepreneur. It’s too much work and barely covers the bills, paying off loans, or the costs of running a business
  • It is a lousy model for introverts who prefer to work deeply with a select few on a 1:1 and channel their energy into creating other resources, and thereby creating a bigger impact
  • The transactional model is being replaced by a results-based transformational model 

One might argue that within this model the best way to “scale” is by seeing multiple patients per hour, hiring associates, and renting out rooms. 

With the exception of the latter, these are not what scaling or income diversification is all about. Scaling is about creating a business that can function whether you are there or not.

Cramming more bodies into your day or even hiring associates usually means either more work, spreading yourself more thinly, or creating a business that needs constant babysitting. Not to mention that this approach is about quantity, not quality.

I’ve seen service-based entrepreneurs over the past few years beginning to transition away from depending on time slots and the transactional model, and I love it.. I’m cheering them on!

This doesn’t necessarily mean that they are abandoning 1:1 work. 

Instead, they are choosing 1:1 work only when when they want to, not because they think it’s their only option.

And they charge appropriately for their time, because now their 1:1 services are more in demand, while at the same time, the supply is naturally lower, due to the limited resource of time.

Heart-centered service is not about rejecting technology or new business models

The newer model is NOT about “going online” for the sake of it. The fact that you can run an entirely virtual business or practice based on the outdated 1:1 only model shows that it’s not a question of whether technology is “good” or “bad” but how we choose to use it.

It’s also a myth that creating more innovative, supportive, and more rewarding business models are somehow “impersonal” or “de-humanizing.”

If this is a core belief, then going to a bookstore or buying music or any other intellectual property must also be a part of the “evil” of technology. 

Damn those printing presses and recording technology.. Let’s go back to the days when we could only hear a spoken story, wait for the bard to roll into the village, or be part of the upper echelons of society in order to experience the arts.

Not me. Not to mention that I find this irritating because the only way I am able to interact with other friends and entrepreneurs who speak my language is via a screen. I assure you I am no less “real” or less worth talking to than the next person who shows up for a chat over coffee, “IRL.” 

While I’m well aware that new changes aren’t always “wonderful and exciting,” I firmly believe that there’s no going back, only forward. In order to thrive as entrepreneurs, it’s our responsibility to learn about trends, events, evolutions, and even shake-ups and disruptions that may affect us either positively or negatively. (AI is a perfect example)

Then we need to discover how to play our own game. This can only be done when we know the environment we are working in and the tools available to us.

Technology is just the means to an end, which is to solve the fundamental problem that the old paradigm 1:1 only model presents: It’s too much work for too little income, it’s severely limiting, and it only serves a small sliver of the people you can potentially serve.

The new model makes it possible for practitioners to work less and earn more.. AND for clients and patients to gain access to experts at any budget or stage in their care.

To me, this is what it means to own a business in general, let alone a profitable and impactful business that serves far more people than you could possibly fit into the confines of even an 80 hour workweek.

The Martyr/Elitist Model: Sacrificing yourself and others so that you can “serve” humanity (often from a place of privilege)

Nope. This idea sucks. Here’s why:

1. Lowering your prices in order to make your services more accessible isn’t the answer. It serves no one.. Not you, not your clients and patients, and not the industry.

Patient mills are based on high-volume models that don’t really get to the root of the actual problem. Although there are exceptions, generally patients need to keep returning to get another band-aid treatment.

Sadly, many times the “low cost” model is based primarily on transactional care. The result is that it is reduced to a commodity that feels more expensive to the patient or client, while at the same time not being nearly enough for you to earn a living. THAT sucks.

2. The “race to the bottom” mindset also makes it difficult to enter the wellness professions. It’s anti-niche and discourages the concept of focusing and refining an area of expertise. In other words, instead of positioning oneself as the  “go-to” person who just “gets it” and attracts ideal clients and loyal fans, one’s services become a commodity by default. The only way to compete is via “competitive pricing.”

All practitioners deserve to earn a decent living, without having to work 80 hour weeks just to make ends meet.

Service-based and wellness professions shouldn’t be accessible only to the elite who can support a hobby business via other sources of income, a spouse, or other assets.  Otherwise, who, or what.. is  ultimately is footing the bill, and subsidizing it all?  Shouldn’t our industry be able to stand on its own? 

Service-based businesses need to be treated as real businesses.

A better way: Innovative and sustainable models for service-based entrepreneurs

Many entrepreneurs are getting VERY innovative with their offerings. 

They are discovering how to create courses, memberships, programs, bundled packages of services and products, and more, by leveraging their expertise, intellectual property, and YES.. a willingness to take a risk, get out of their comfort zone, and put in some up-front work.

I believe this is a smart way to mitigate the inherent risks of being an entrepreneur.  Especially as we get older. We may have less energy, but we DO have experience and wisdom on our side, along with the ability to generate passive income based on the intellectual property we create.

Creating “passive” income is also the hallmark of a real business: A model based on repeatable systems, one that won’t stop functioning if the CEO takes time off.

Freedom means being able to take time off and still get paid. (For starters) Or gear down for retirement. Or pursue other projects.

Why “winging it” and the “random tip of the day” don’t work

None of this happens, or is sustainable, with a one dimensional approach.

Just as you know that all the acupuncture treatments or supplements or coaching sessions in the world won’t help if the patient or client doesn’t have an overall plan, it’s pretty much the same when it comes to building a sustainable and freedom-based business.

It’s not about the latest platform.

It’s not about the latest social media trend. 

It’s not about “that one thing” that the successful entrepreneur you admire is doing.

It’s not about asking your friends (who probably are just “winging it” and are just as overwhelmed as you are) what the next step is. 

It’s not about another “tip” or even all the stuff you Googled but never managed to piece together into a coherent, easy-to-follow process.

Creating a sustainable and freedom-based business requires more than a one-dimensional, tactic-based approach.

That’s why there are experts who know how it all works together. 

Just like your clients come to you with a problem, because of how you solve the problem by a thorough intake, diagnosis, and treatment plan/strategy, the person you work with to help you create a freedom-based business will do the same.

Building a Freedoom-Based Business

I use a framework in my own business and in the work I do with clients.  It’s based on the principles of modern marketing, so I can’t take 100% credit for “inventing” it, but it’s also based own philosophy and what has been working 

It’s founded on what I’ve learned over the years, keeping up with rapid changes, and working with many different clients.

It’s based on my experiences, including my successes and failures. 

The mistakes I’ve made don’t just make me “one of you” nor simply a “relatable and vulnerable human.” (Although this is cool, because I also prefer to work with real humans rather than phony gurus)

It means that I’ve become an expert via taking risks and implementing my ideas, some of which work, and others of which have flopped.

It’s based on my experience as an acupuncturist who didn’t want to have anything to do with the traditional way practices were run (and are still run to this day) which tends to be a bad deal for everyone. 

It’s not based on a magical number, (6, 7, 8, figure incomes) or on me waltzing into the scene and instantly making a killing, followed by a humble brag and a promise that you can have it all if you just do exactly what I did.

It doesn’t work that  way.

What’s important is not just knowing what all the pieces are, but how they connect.

Regardless of who you work with, it’s also essential to know what ORDER to implement each step in.

Skipping steps is super common, and one of the reasons why many entrepreneurs struggle with overwhelm, frustration, and feeling discouraged.. Sometimes to the point where they want to quit or question their own ability.

I also know that every business owner is different, and that although there are certain steps to take in order to get from point A to point B, there is a LOT of room for customization and working within the parameters of one’s preferences, business goals,  lifestyle, and personality type. 

For example, I’m not into hanging out on social media for hours, dancing on TikTok, DMing, and time-wasting discovery calls, and tend to attract those who also don’t enjoy spending a lot of time on these tactics.

My infrastructure is now set up so that it can do most of the work for me. This includes my website, evergreen content, RWE membership, 2 signature courses, email marketing, social media channels, funnels, and more. They all interconnect in a holistic way.

This system also leaves plenty of room for growth. Some systems that appear “cheap and easy” are so confining that entrepreneurs outgrow them easily, and as a result, need to start a painful process of starting from scratch. On the other hand, too much growth/spending too soon isn’t a good idea either.

leave room for growth in your business

There is a “Sweet Spot” for everyone.

I won’t lie.. Having a system in place alone isn’t going to guarantee any amount of income. (It would be dishonest for me to make any kind of claim) Marketing isn’t a set and forget endeavor. It’s an ongoing process, a long game.

I will say that because I’m isolated in a rural village in a foreign country, I don’t have access to the traditional methods, opportunities, or connections that most do. I don’t have a safety net or a spouse’s income or a regular job. Because of this, I have had no choice but to rely on the systems I’ve set up. This has become a unique superpower, now that I think about it.

5 “Things” that have worked for me (and for my clients) 

1. Taking the time to set up an infrastructure that does the heavy lifting for me. Now if I want to offer a webinar or low cost offer, or promote a signature offer, nurture/follow up with a lead, write an email, or even find a file, I can do it quickly.

There is a lot that happens automatically as well, such as pre-qualifying leads on my website/application process, emails that get sent to specific subscribers leading up to a low cost offering, bump offers, lead follow up, surveys, and more.

Read more about how to set up these systems in this article.

2. Getting clear on my niche and idea client, message, and story so that what I communicate.. I mean everything, from emails to landing pages, is relevant, nails what I’m offering and who it’s for. Without this, setting up any kind of system will be a waste of time.

This also helps me attract only my ideal clients, and yes, repel those who are not a good fit. (I can’t help everyone)

3. Developing a workflow and documenting every process. Without this I would be wasting many hours trying to figure out how the heck to set up onboarding for a new client or how to set up a free webinar or be wondering what to write in my emails.

Now all I need to do is go into Asana when I’m tired, click on a link, and open up a detailed checklist with screenshots to follow. I can’t even tell you how much brain power this saves me so that I can better focus on the stuff that is going to move the needle in my business.

4.  Making data-driven decisions.  Instead of relying purely on my emotions (which could have resulted in quitting several times) I focused on gathering objective data so that I could determine WHY something was either working or wasn’t.

I’m adamant about not relying purely on intuition. I consult with it when I make decisions, but even my intuitive wisdom knows that it’s foolish to make uninformed decisions. 

5. Having confidence in what I’ve set up so far, and letting go of comparing myself to what others in my industry (competition) is doing 

All this helps with MINDSET. When I’m no longer spending mental energy on the minutiae, over and over again, I’m free to focus on what really matters. This gives me more energy and confidence.

Want to more about the “nuts and bolts” of creating a new business model that doesn’t involve trading more time for dollars (or peanuts?) Read this: Work Less and Earn More in Your Wellness or Coaching Practice

Have I made mistakes? Hell yes! But I’ll save that for another article.  

Ready to stop “winging it” and get the real freedom you deserve?

If you find that you are hustling to find clients,  are working too many hours, or having to start from scratch each time you come up with a new idea, it may be time to start thinking about how to grow without working so hard.

If you have already begun, but feel overwhelmed,  drowning in to-do lists,  sick of spending so much time on social media, answering the same questions over and over,  doing  manual admin tasks, and generally “babysitting” your business.. you are in the growth stage, but you need some help.

That’s why I created my Freedom-Based Strategy Sessions. 

2.5 hours together with a pot of coffee or tea.. and we’ll come up with a plan. Learn more and book a session.

 

How to market your small business when you hate spending hours on social media

How to market your small business when you hate spending hours on social media

 

You’re probably here because you want to know how to minimize your time on social media but still leverage it for your wellness or coaching business.

I’m with you, and I have some “no fluff” tips for you. 11, in fact.

For more context, be sure to check out part one of this series about using social media in your wellness practice or coaching business, which is about mindset and perspective as a business owner.

Yes, there is a part two, which is all about why it’s not a smart idea to depend completely on social media to market your small business. 

In this article, (part three) let’s take a closer look at  11 ways to make social media work for you, even if you would rather be doing something else.

 

How to play the long game with social media with as little effort as possible

1. Aim to attract, instead of chase.

You may want to consider using platforms designed to drive traffic to your website, instead of keeping them glued to a platform like Facebook or Instagram.

This is where Pinterest, YouTube, and other search platforms like TikTok can help you. Via keywords and search, the people who are already searching for the specific things you offer will find you like those tiny bugs that find your way into your wine glass on a summer day. (Those little bastards!)

This means you are playing the “attraction” game instead of the “chasing” game.

Keep in mind that in order to do this, you’ll need some flowers to attract those bees. (or wine to attract those little bugs that like to drown in your perfectly good glass of chardonnay) What I’m talking about is content.

The more high quality and relevant content you have that answers the specific questions and queries of your ideal client or customer, the more likely you’ll be FOUND in a search.

Google is still the primary way that people search for information, but they also use platforms like Pinterest and YouTube to find inspiration and answers to their “How to” problems.

2. Focus on content that has a longer shelf life. (Evergreen content)

Would you rather:

A. Be committed to creating new content on a daily basis, hoping that it “goes viral,” (or having to dance and act silly just to get attention) ..only to witness it attract uncommitted followers, and disappear within days or hours?

OR

B. Create some foundational or even “epic” pieces of content that showcase your expertise, while still driving traffic to your website, months or even years later, thanks to search engines like YouTube, Google, Pinterest, and even Amazon and TikTok?

Bonus: The visitors in option B become subscribers because they found something that they are actually interested in NOW, rather than stumbling upon something that may be “kinda cool and nice to have, one day.”

Evergreen content is designed to be found in searches, months or even years from now, when placed strategically in the right channels and optimized for search.

Remember, not all “Social media” is really “social.” Again, think of Pinterest and YouTube. Do you go to these platforms to socialize, or look for something specific that you found via direct search or a “you might also like this” algorithm?

Even TikTok is a search engine. Facebook and Instagram.. Not so much.

Evergreen content not only lasts longer, it also drives more qualified leads to your website. It may look like more work on the front end, but after a while (yes, a few months to a year) it’s SO nice to not have to constantly create something new.

For this reason, I’m a firm believer in focusing on content that lasts longer than a few days. I don’t mind putting in more work creating and optimizing a blog or podcast if I know that the content isn’t going to disappear into the social media void, causing me to lose ground if I don’t constantly keep up.

I like knowing that I can also update and edit the same “core” content on a yearly rotation, spin off a livestream series, turn it into a podcast, or make minor updates a few times a year to boost my SEO.

This series is a perfect example.. You BET I’m gonna leverage the hell out of this beast!

Consider creating evergreen content on a regular basis, such as once a week, which can be hosted on your website, on a podcasting platform, or on a channel that is based on search instead of random discovery.

This doesn’t mean that you should skip posting on social media channels like Facebook, Instagram, or Twitter.  In fact, I know a drummer who mastered the art of showing up on Facebook almost every day with entertaining content of him playing covers and requests.  People now tune in because they are fans and want to hear more and connect with him.

So yes, there are no absolutes or hard and fast rules to follow. You can do what works for you.

If you need a different way to present information that takes an audience/lead/customer through a journey, (#6)  I recommend focusing on evergreen content primarily off social media and then sharing bits and pieces of your already created content in new ways that don’t require you to work so hard.

Because, you have an actual business to run outside of social media!

Later, you can use concept #4 to make the most of your time when posting on social media.

3.  Go with the flow of those pesky algorithms

One way you can help yourself with the crazy algorithms is by “teaching” it what to show you and what gets shown to your audience. If all you post in your personal profile, page, and groups is cute memes with no text, you’ll get all kinds of random shit showing up in your feed, and Facebook will have no idea what you’re about because it will seem like you are all over the place. (no keywords)

I’m not sure exactly how well this works, as algorithms change constantly. I DO know that since I’ve been more focused with my posts, the algorithm gods have regarded me more favorably.

Whether or not it affects the algorithms..  never posting any original content is one of the biggest mistakes I see brand new entrepreneurs make. (Stop doing that, and start posting your OWN original content.. even just a few of your own insights, behind-the-scenes peeks of your work or life, or pictures of your dog.)

What really counts is quality and consistency.  (See #9)This means that once you find your niche and identify your ideal client, you focus only THEM, and show up consistently.

I no longer try to connect with every entrepreneur or even every wellness entrepreneur on Facebook, because many don’t fit my ideal client profile.

Since I’ve focused more on creating a Freedom-based business, I find that my “tribe” is steadily growing, and that more people are engaging, which means that.. You guessed it, more people actually see my posts.

And I try not to let the algorithms get to me.

4. Find opportunities to get more of your IDEAL clients on your email list.

Now that you have the attention of your ideal client, don’t stop there! You want to be in control of who sees your best content, and hands down, the best way to do this is via email. (Email marketing) This means consistent “newsletters” and at least one simple “set and forget” series of emails that new subscribers will receive.

You’ll also need some kind of “freebie” or lead magnet. Gone are the days when people would subscribe to a newsletter without getting something immediate in return.

This is something I guide my students through in the Future Proof Your Practice Toolkit.

4. Repurpose and streamline your workflow to save mental energy

Consistency is important, but it needs to co-exist with sustainability.

I’ve had clients that don’t have the capacity (bandwidth) to post on a consistent basis on more than one channel. I’ve also known admins for 1k+ Facebook groups that have confessed to me that it’s become a part-time job.

My take on this very common problem:

1. Choose your primary platform, based on the easiest for you to show up consistently.

Do you prefer writing? You can share your blog with your social media audience. Is it video that you excel at? Or maybe a podcast? Start there.

Any other platforms you add will be your secondary channels (apply #3 to these)

It’s unrealistic to expect a solo entrepreneur to show up everywhere, all the time.

Those who DO show up everywhere have a dedicated team and very, very streamlined workflows. This doesn’t happen overnight, and trust me, they got there via a specific and intentional process.

2. Batch and schedule.

I don’t know about you.. but if I’m immersed in another project, it takes me 10x the effort to switch gears and come up with a single post in the moment than it does to brainstorm about 20 all in one sitting. That single post often takes a lot of mental energy for me, and many times feels “flat” because I’m not writing when I’m truly inspired.

This doesn’t mean that you can’t create real-time, in the moment posts.. They do tend to get more reach, but I think it’s unrealistic to do this every day for most.

3. Repurpose

The only reason I may have the capacity (bandwidth) to create short form videos like reels (and of this writing I still don’t) is because I can create them from pieces of my long form videos. I can also create podcasts from livestreams, or use transcripts that will become a blog with a bit of editing.

(This is where establishing a workflow comes in)

Even this blog can be broken down into smaller bite-sized pieces of content that I can use on any social media platform.

You can choose the way that works best for YOU.

5. Use social media to build and nurture an already existing community

Facebook Groups

I’m going to share with you how I use the purely social media platforms. Remember that other platforms like Pinterest and YouTube, which I prefer, are classified more as search engines than social platforms.

Also keep in mind that your business and your brand are different than mine, and that there are many creative ways to show up online.

Let’s begin with Facebook. Whether or not it’s considered “in” or “out,” it’s still widely used by many people and a primary focus for many businesses. Especially groups/communities.

I personally have not had much luck in using Facebook groups to draw in new ideal leads, although some have trickled in because it’s an interesting niche. I use my group to engage with leads that already exist, and I regard it much like hosting a party.

I host live trainings a few times per month. I do not attempt to show up live on most days, like some marketing experts recommended a few years ago. I don’t think it’s the best way to spend my time, as livestreams don’t qualify as evergreen content. Even when I do, that content goes into my paid membership.

You can join me in my Freedom-Based Wellnness Entrepreneur Community, I would love to have you!

Combined with the fact that I don’t have much control over the platform, I haven’t really put a HUGE effort into growing it and honestly wouldn’t want to rely on a Facebook group alone for generating leads.

Instead, I use my Facebook group as a combination of a community, a laboratory, and a party.

In order to keep it interesting for members, I make sure to stock it with more than just “fluff” content. (although I am fond of offbeat humor)  I also allow others to post and promote (for now) because of the small, intimate vibe. Some of the members may be leads, and others could be collaborators, affiliates, or podcast guests, so my preference is to keep it open like this.

I DID stop using Facebook groups to permanently host my best content, and moved it all to Mighty Networks. I think of it as the “VIP party with extra drinks and food, more rooms, movies to watch, books to read, and other exclusive surprises.”

This is a perfect place for leads to make a small commitment and get a feel for my work, without pressure. It’s a “one stop shop” for my library of content, and it’s much more organized than Facebook, which isn’t really designed for curating content and making it easy to find what you’re looking for.

This is what works for me. For you, a different strategy may work.

That’s my take on Facebook groups, but not the only one:

There are many VERY successful marketing coaches who like Facebook groups much less than I do. (I’ve heard “Facebook groups suck” more than once) I use them, and found a rhythm with it that I’m liking. Will I continue to use Facebook groups in the future? I don’t know.

If you have had luck in generating new leads with a group, and you enjoy the process,then more power to you, and keep going. If you have a larger group, your experience and time commitment will be vastly different than mine.

Instagram

You can do something similar on Instagram, but to be honest, it’s not my primary focus and I’m not the right one to speak about this platform.

I will say that it’s not the most effective search engine nor the best option for building a community. It worked well for my Balkan Nomad project, which was about primarily visual content.. but it’s not high on my priority list for Tech and Wine Media.

It could be perfect for you if you are a hairstylist, in the fashion industry, if you create your own physical products, or focus on visual content.

6. Be focused and intentional about the journey you take your audience, leads, potential clients, and clients through.

Social media CAN be a key player in the entire client journey, so that you can address the needs of your ideal clients or customers according to where they are at in both their personal journey and within the context of the buyer’s journey.

However..

The buyer’s journey for most service-based businesses tend to be longer than for that of commodities, lower-priced physical products, impulse purchases, or services and products based on convenience and telling a visual story.

For example, if you are a hairstylist in my area and you show me some pictures that wow me, I may just head over to your salon right now.

If your services are more based on long-term commitments and specific processes or strategies, your leads are going to need multiple touch points, generally 7-10, before they buy. This is especially true for services that are less tangible or take more time to understand, or for high-ticket items, obviously.

These touch points are not about pressure or sales, but building trust. There is no attachment to outcome, since it’s more of a math game.

These built in, intentional, and essential “touch points” are designed to nurture and build trust.. OFF their dang platform, and on yours. Having this system in place is critical for service based businesses  based on expertise and applying a strategy in order to help clients, patients, and customers get the results they desire.

Taking cold leads and earning their trust so that they naturally become warm and hot leads is a thoughtful and creative process that you own.

There is no ONE way to do this.

The key is in creating a chronological journey and even a story arc that makes sense to a human brain, rather than being bombarded with fragments that take work to piece together, if they are remembered at all.

Where does social media fit in? Honestly, it depends. There’s too many variables to go into here, and it’s about what works for you.

I go into this in detail in the Future Proof Your Business Toolkit, which takes you through the entire process of creating a new business model based on having at least one digital offering, step by step, even if you are starting from scratch. I’m all about starting simply and the “80/20” rule.

Being intentional also helps you.

By remaining focused, pacing yourself, and setting up some of your work flows to happen automatically, you can capture and nurture more leads over time without having to be a slave to multiple social media channels.

It’s unrealistic to expect a solo entrepreneur to show up everywhere, all the time.

Those who DO show up everywhere have a dedicated team and very, very streamlined workflows. This doesn’t happen overnight, and trust me, they got there via a specific and intentional process.

7. Be willing to play the “long game.”

This concept is similar to concept #2: Creating evergreen content. The difference:

Evergreen content is an asset, much like having a library of intellectual property. Playing the long game is about how to leverage your assets, including evergreen content, so that you can gain more with less work.

Focusing on SEO, evergreen and long form content, and steady growth over time is a strategy that many overlook because it doesn’t pay off right away. It’s also not a novel concept, and it’s not as “sexy” as posting on TikTok.

It’s kind of like planting a fruit tree that doesn’t bear fruit right away, but we trust that it will if we care for it consistently. Let’s say it’s the kind of tree that when it matures, doesn’t require much maintenance. The same goes for cultivating a garden.

On the other hand, relying ONLY on social media can sometimes be compared to forcing crops to grow via synthetic fertilizers indoors so that we can eat next week. (Only to have to do it all over again the following week) It feels like less work than planning for and nurturing an abundant garden, but in the long run it’s not sustainable. The minute we stop, the minute what we create disappears.

But many don’t trust what they can’t see right away.

The truth: We reap what we sow. We can actually create the opportunity for more “low hanging fruit” (2 analogies, 2 plant cliches!)

By focusing on long-term, sustainable ways to attract leads that also happen to be closer to being ready to buy from me, I’m ensuring that I won’t need to RELY on social media when I want to take a break from it.

I also have plenty of content that exists outside of social media platforms that I can keep using, updating, repurposing, and recycling. I created an asset that I actually own, and that has a much longer shelf life than a social media post. (yes, I still post on social media.. I’ll get to that in a moment)

This way, nothing really goes to waste, even when I “fail.”

8. Don’t dismiss social media altogether

This blog isn’t about finding more reasons to justify in our own minds “why social media doesn’t work.” It’s an easy trap to fall into with social media, SEO, building an email list, PR, networking, or any other available ways to market a business, no matter how big or how small.

It’s the “See, I knew this wouldn’t work” mindset.

I’ve had clients that have set up social media accounts, only end up using them sporadically, which of course didn’t work. This also doesn’t help create momentum and confidence.

When it comes to any marketing tactic or strategy, it’s much like working with your new clients or patients. It doesn’t help if they haven’t completely “bought in.” It’s not about them being subservient to you. If you are in a unique position to help them with a specific problem and they choose to work with you, then they need to trust you and your process.

The same applies to social media. If you go in, it can’t be half-assed. You have to decide on something, implement it, and keep at it for a while till you can accurately assess what’s working and what isn’t.

It’s a more scientific approach.

And just like science and the pursuit of knowledge, social media isn’t something that is “good” or “bad.” It’s more nuanced than this. It’s very likely that one or two channels will fit in perfectly with YOUR overall strategy.

Much in the way that a good strength training program can be a part of the routine for anyone, of any age, as long as it’s tailored for their needs, social media also has a place in your overall marketing strategy.

Finding the right combination of “Social” and “Search” platforms: Your social media sweet spot

Going back to concept #1: I don’t prioritize purely “social” media, and consciously choose to spend less time there, but I still find it useful.

I personally prefer to focus more on search engine based “social media” like Pinterest and YouTube (TikTok is also a search engine) rather than pure social media, such as Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter, because I want to drive traffic to MY platform (my website.)

I also can’t stand Twitter, but it IS a great way to access celebrities and influencers, once you get past the “Twitter mob.” Note: I’m not sure what the future of Twitter is at the time of this writing. You could use this strategically if it makes sense for you.

I don’t find Instagram to be as appealing as say, a podcast, but it may be perfect for you, as I mentioned in a few examples above.

Since I naturally gravitate towards creating a community/laboratory, I currently use Facebook as a part of my overall marketing strategy, but I don’t count on it to attract leads into my pipeline, because that’s not what Facebook is designed to do.. It’s designed to keep people occupied (and distracted) on THEIR platform.

Although I want to spend less time and become less dependent on social media, I’m not dismissing it altogether. I can still benefit from it if I refine the way I use it.

How and even if I continue to use it may change over time.

9. Consistency is crucial.

This principle is timeless.

The concept of consistency is slightly different from concept #7. Playing the long game is about crafting your strategy. Consistency is about showing up to implement that strategy, even when you don’t feel like it.

I have a lot of memes and quotes about consistency, because I firmly believe that this is the key for most entrepreneurs.

You may see someone who is “killing it” on social media, and has huge followings that turn into leads. Please remember that they also had to do their homework and put in some time to get where they are.

They also show up consistently.

I’ve seen others who claim that one thing or another “doesn’t work” when it’s not about the tactic or method itself, but probably more about how it fits into their own overall strategy and how consistently they apply it.

Of course, if they never give it a chance to work, it won’t, yet they blame their lack of results on the method rather than their lack of commitment.

It’s not just entrepreneurs, either. There’s also a mindset that social media posting isn’t something a company needs to be present for. Just hire a freelance social media manager that knows nothing about the company to come up with some filler posts and sit back and watch the leads pour in.

It doesn’t work that way.

Social isn’t something to “get done”; it’s an ongoing practice to attract, engage and convert.

10. Know when you “Don’t know what you don’t know.”

Many also “don’t know what they don’t know” when it comes to creating a social media strategy and how it can fit into an overall holistic marketing plan.

This also causes the entire process to move at a slower pace, including trial and error and mistakes. I know, because I’ve done things the slow way myself, and found out the hard way what works for me and what doesn’t.

This isn’t a character flaw. It’s normal, and we all do it.

It’s the same thing with any endeavor.. Whether it’s a new fitness program or learning to play a musical instrument, we trust that the teacher knows what they are doing. That’s why we hire experts (the right ones for us, of course) to guide us.

For example, let’s say I want to learn how to play the drums. A complex, prog metal song, and I’m a beginner. I really, really want to play that Tool song.

I’m not going to tell my instructor what to teach me each time I show up for a lesson, because I don’t know the process involved in learning to play a prog metal song that has a kick ass and really difficult double bass pattern, (and lots of other intricacies) when I don’t even know that double bass is even a thing.

Because I don’t know what I don’t know.

My job is to tell the instructor what my goals are.

Or maybe some preferences as far as how I learn and absorb a new technique or learn a piece of music. It’s not my job to tell them how to do their job based on a few YouTube videos I watched.

My teacher’s job is to demystify, teach, discover ways to help me learn, create a plan or strategy, reverse engineer a goal, provide accountability, and hopefully give me confidence to achieve my goal. It’s also their job to let me know what is realistic and what isn’t.

It’s also about timing and the order each step in a strategy is implemented, and this can be the hardest part for many who tend to rely on piecing everything together via Google and YouTube searches.

Chances are,a good teacher/guide/coach has developed a unique system to help their students and clients learn and achieve their goals, even if it is individually customized to a degree.

Of course you CAN rely on trial and error. Just know that it will take longer, and that you’ll discover the gaps in your knowledge along the way.

The bottom line..

To sum it up, social media is often very much misunderstood, by both those who love it and those who hate it, or even those just trying to figure it out or keep up with it all.

I’ve been avoiding writing about this topic for a long time, because of this. Social media isn’t my specialty, but I do need to be informed as it fits in with an overall holistic marketing strategy.

I don’t have all the answers.

And neither do the social media gurus I subscribe to who I rely on to keep me up to date, because it all changes so quickly.

But there are things we CAN do to make social media work for us (rather than the other way around)

Hopefully this article helps you make your own informed decisions and avoid being a slave to social media, and reduces some of the overwhelm factor for you.

I would love to know what you think..

4 Powerful Ways to Automate Your Wellness Business

4 Powerful Ways to Automate Your Wellness Business

I live in Southeast Europe. I’m used to not having a dryer, and the there’s nothing like laundry dried outside on a sunny day.  Although on cold damp days, a dryer would make a hell of a lot of sense, because I’m not a fan of clothes that smell of must and mold.

A lot of people here are proud of doing some household tasks manually, such as drying clothes on a rack or on a line.. or.. washing dishes, for various reasons.

I have a confession, or rather, a passionate declaration to make: I HATE washing dishes.

Plus, manually washing dishes actually consumes more energy and water.  So I’m a HUGE fan of dishwashers.  I don’t care what anyone says, one of those machines makes my life a whole lot easier.

This is coming from someone who spends about 2 hours a day on dog chores, walks to the store (a 10 min walk) and stacks (and sometimes chops) her own wood, so I’m not buying that doing all work by hand is good for us.

I get to chose how I spend my time on this earth, and washing dishes and ironing have been kicked to the curb.

Having a dishwasher frees me up to do other things that actually matter more, such as working, or spending time with the dogs, walking to the corner store instead of driving to a freaking Costco, or even stacking wood. (I like stacking wood) And yes, even lounging with a cup of coffee or glass of wine.

Because in the end, efficiency is supposed to make our lives better. It hasn’t always worked out that way (Endless and intrusive emails and phone notifications, a car-dependent infrastructure, and the “hustle” mindset to start, is part of the North American culture) but I think if we’re intentional about how we choose to spend our time, we can create a life that has more meaning for us.

This is what I mean by making some tasks automated, even though automation isn’t always about modern inventions, which I’ll be talking  more about in this article.

As an American who has become more “Southern Europeanized” in the past six years, I’m going to offer my perspective on efficiency, productivity, and automation.

In this article, I’ll be focusing on automation.

Automation is our friend, and we get to decide how to use it and when.

I’ve witnessed more than a few entrepreneurs actually recoil at the word “automation” as if it meant something dishonest, impersonal, or inauthentic.

It’s not. It’s about much more, including making your leads, clients, and yourself happier.

Yes, that. For real.

Others understand why it is important, but may get sidetracked by the “urgent matters and distractions” of the day or messages from influencers that tell us to “just go with the flow” and that if something isn’t “fun” we don’t need to do it.

As a result, they never quite get around to making their daily workflow more efficient so that they can actually focus on what they are good at and what they are passionate about.

Doing the front end work seems like something that can easily be tossed into the “I’ll think about this later” bin.  The result is that they end up doing a lot of “wheel-reinvention,” repetitive tasks, and extra admin work.

And there are others who have embraced it and maybe even thought to themselves: “I wish I had done this sooner!”

Using our housework analogy: What if every time I wanted to cook, I had to think of what to make, write a list, shop.. not only for food but the pots and utensils I needed? Or had to re-organize my kitchen?

No way would we do that. That’s why we have a functioning kitchen,  pots within reach, cookbooks and recipes at our fingertips, a stocked pantry, and organized spice cabinets.

The front end work of finding a place for our cookware, menu planning, recipes, and grocery shopping means that we don’t need to spend all day, every day, thinking about or preparing food.

I suppose there are others who love doing everything manually, but I imagine this blog probably isn’t for you.

What would you choose to do or set up only ONCE.. and then put the task on autopilot?

Automation can liberate you from a lot of the things you don’t want to do, and give you time to do the things you DO want to do.

Another story..

My idea of hell is being a receptionist or personal assistant. Not that I don’t respect those that do this kind of work, (I do, very much so) but the job description contains absolutely everything I hate and dread… chasing after people with phone calls, manually managing emails, answering the same boring questions over and over, having to be on the phone,  (in other words, having to be “on” instead of formulating better written responses AHEAD of time!) filing, and other admin tasks.

I also hate the repetition, and yes, the constant interruptions. I don’t like playing phone or email tag, spending hours re-scheduling appointments, doing paperwork, and tasks that make me feel like I’m generally “babysitting” people, tasks, and things, when I could be doing much more effective things that actually help people thrive and make my own business more sustainable.

I simply would rather interact on a deeper level and share ideas with other open-minded humans, and find that I have to place boundaries on the time I spend in superficial encounters.  Although it’s not fashionable to admit this about myself, it’s true.

As a business owner, your own idea of “hell at the office” may be similar, or different: It may involve solving technical problems, writing, showing up live, whether it’s in person or on video, mapping out a strategy, or any of the other tasks that we find ourselves managing on an ongoing basis.

Distractions

What’s interesting is that I don’t mind organizing, creating graphics, and other tasks that could be categorized as “busy work” if I don’t place a time limit on them.

You may also have your own “pencil sharpening” distractions, such as email, time spent on social media, repetitive and unnecessary admin work, or even the habit of constantly “putting out fires.”

I’ve known people that have not made any progress in their business simply because they prioritize daily dramas, crises, and putting out fires over doing important but not urgent work, and I put categorize this as one big distraction.

For others, it’s spending countless hours on social media that distracts them from their goals and ultimately, creating meaning. It can happen unconsciously (I have to remain aware of this for myself, so that I don’t get distracted) but I’ve also seen many who consciously hustle on a daily basis on social media, which is exhausting.

The minute you stop.. you become almost invisible.

Side note: I don’t believe in spending a lot of time on social media chasing after clients. There are better ways (automated) to attract ideal clients and customers. Social media has its place, of course. But having it rule our time the way it does for many is simply unsustainable.

It’s not just the things we dislike that can hold us back from our true potential. The things that distract us and cause us to lose focus also need to be addressed when setting up daily systems and workflows.

And that’s why I’ve integrated the principles in Michael Hyatt’s book: Free to Focus into my own work and how I help others create their own online offerings.

The gift of freedom is something we can give ourselves so that our work serves our lives, not the other way around.

One strategy for getting our time back is automation. In fact, and entire chapter in the book is devoted to automation.

Let’s bust that “automation isn’t authentic/caring/personal myth:

When many people think of automation, they think that it involves allowing cold, impersonal, machinery to take over our lives. The belief is that it’s the antithesis of creative freedom and flow.

I’m actually a very firm believer in the complete opposite: That creating automation and structure frees up our brains to focus on the cool stuff.. The stuff that we signed up for, went to school for, and spent years of our lives practicing and perfecting. It makes it possible for creativity to flourish by freeing up our time and energy.

It allows us to actually help more people, and also enjoy the rest of our lives.

How can one channel their creativity on a daily basis when it’s being sucked into a big black hole of repetitive tasks, inefficiencies that rob us of time and enjoyment, important tasks that are ignored for so long that they turn into daily dramas that give us a false sense of power and accomplishment.. and doing stuff that we hate?

All because we believe that “going with the flow” is the only path to true freedom? (It is, until it’s not)

Someone once said that structure will set us free. I believe this is true. This structure doesn’t have to feel confining. I think of it rather as something that is of service to me, rather than something I’m subjected to.

Automation is like having that personal assistant that can take care of the stuff that a CEO cannot really afford to be wasting time on.

Automation is about solving a problem ONCE, instead of every day, on the fly.

I do want to make a point here. This process isn’t about productivity for its own sake. (That’s why I run a free workshop every year about operating within our Desire Zone)

When I talk about automation, it isn’t about how to send more emails or create more content get more work done. It’s about taking ourselves out of the equation when it comes to tasks that:

1. We dislike doing and aren’t proficient at. (Example: Solving “tech” issues)

2. We like doing but aren’t proficient at enough to justify spending hours of our time in. (Example: building and managing our own websites when it keeps us from doing other important and money-generating work)

3. We dislike doing but ARE proficient at..  (Example: You are good at doing taxes. Everyone asks you to do their taxes. But you still hate it)

Automation also isn’t only about technology. In fact, there are 4 types of automation we can take advantage of on a daily basis:

  • Self automation
  • Process automation
  • Template automation
  • Tech automation

Together, all these things form your SYSTEM and WORKFLOW.

Let’s look at each of these up close.

Self Automation

This is where it all begins. This involves implementing routines, rituals, and habits to make it easier and more efficient for you to follow through on your highest priorities.

There are probably many tasks you perform on a daily basis that you don’t have to think about, such as getting dressed, driving, and preparing dinner. If you had to think about each one of these things on a conscious level every day, it would take you longer to get them done and take up more “head space.”

For example, as I write this, it’s a hot summer day. I’ve already taken the dogs for their long walk because we have a routine/ritual: We walk early in the morning, set up their kiddie pool/water station, have breakfast, and find shady spots to work (and for them, nap in)  I don’t have to think about it.

This ritual carries a reward, in the form of a very pleasant ritual: Working outside with my dogs, enjoying coffee or lemonade in the shade while they nap and play near me.

A ritual is “any practice or pattern of behavior regularly performed in a set manner.”

Hyatt refers to a book entitled Daily Rituals: How Artists Work by Mason Currey. The book explores the daily rituals of more than one hundred fifty novelists, poets, playwrights, painters, philosophers, scientists, mathematicians, and others.

He is also a believer in using structure to liberate one’s mind in order to focus on creating.

Your daily rituals, says Currey, “can be a finely calibrated mechanism for taking advantage of a range of limited resources: time (the most limited resource of all) as well as willpower, self-discipline, optimism.”

Here are some ways you could self-automate:

1. Keep your wardrobe very simple. (Steve Job’s famous black turtleneck freed up his mind from having to decide what to wear each day)  I’ve found that having fewer possessions is quite liberating, but this is a very personal choice.

2. Make the process of preparing meals a no-brainer. You can always cook something more elaborate when you feel like it!

3. Streamline your morning or evening routine so that it takes less mental energy to begin and complete a task, such as emptying the dishwasher, walking the dog, exercising, or any other chores. They become second nature and “frictionless.”

4. Create daily, weekly, and even seasonal habits or routines by repeating them so that they are ingrained. For example, I have a different routine for summer than I do for winter, and I work from home. For someone else who commutes or has a schedule revolving around kids or school or even seasonal exercise options, the routine could change.  This is a great way to both create routines AND keep things fresh.

5. My tip for keeping it sustainable: I stopped trying to accomplish 7 or 8 medium sized tasks per day. 3 or 4 is far more realistic.  I know that daily chores and tasks, like walking the dogs, doing laundry, and doing errands take up a lot of time, especially since I live in SE Europe (in the land of no dryers) and walk to get groceries almost every day.

I don’t try to cram in too much or I’ll end up too tired to do much of anything. I honestly don’t think a frantic “North American” pace would help me get more done.

6. There’s a ton of books available about creating habits and rituals, and these ideas are worth exploring, even if only one or two ideas “stick” with you. 

Template Automation

I’m going to borrow an excerpt from Hyatt’s book:

“To make templates work, you need to develop a template mindset. Every time you work on a project, ask yourself, What components of this project will I use again? If it’s something you expect to do more than once or twice, consider creating a template. Even though it takes a little extra effort on the front end, it will save you an enormous amount of time overall.”

Hyatt, Michael. Free to Focus (p. 121). Baker Publishing Group. Kindle Edition.

Acupuncturists use this when they discover a protocol that works. They may not necessarily use the exact same technique or the same points every single time, but they have a starting point that can be customized, instead of starting from scratch.

Even though we may pride ourselves on avoiding the “cookie cutter” approach, can you imagine how much mental energy it would take to come up with a diagnosis and treatment plan from scratch for each patient?

Another great example of this is email templates, both for client/patient communications and for marketing/nurturing leads.

Yet another is a theme template or layout that can be used when creating a website. (with some customization in each case, of course)

One of the most popular features of some of my email workshops and website building courses is TEMPLATES, because it eliminates the process of having to stare at a blank screen, wondering what to write, or having to figure out how to build a website completely from scratch.

It may feel as if you are “cheating” but you are not!

Process Automation

The third type of automation, process automation, simply refers to a written, easy-to-follow set of instructions for performing a job or sequence.

I use this type of automation ALL the time.  If I have a multistep process, I write down every step, with screenshots, as if I were creating instructions for someone who had no experience with the task.

You can do the same. Because when you are tired, and haven’t done your taxes since this time last year, or haven’t updated your website in months, and you just grabbed your first cup of coffee for the day, you’re not going to remember.

Think about how much mental energy it takes to:

1. Find out where you put that damn checklist that you jotted down months ago. Stare at the screen because don’t even know where to start.

2. Try to figure out all the steps in between, that you didn’t write down because you thought you would remember it all

3. Spend a few hours Googling and YouTubing just to find out what those missing steps are.

3. Avoid the task.. kicking the can forward only to find that you really DO need to start from square one all over again.

This entire process requires about the same amount of energy from you as writing a term paper or onboarding a new client. That’s a LOT of energy that could be channeled into something else.

For example, I can spend energy trying to remember all the steps in order to produce this blog, which involves finding and optimizing images, research, writing, researching keywords/SEO optimization, formatting it, creating Pinterest pins for it, sharing it on social media and email, creating new “offshoot” content from it, etc.

As you can see, this involves and entire checklist. Someone new to this may think that writing a blog is simply about writing what comes to mind and then copying and pasting the text into their website.

Or I can open up my already existing process and go through each step, saving a TON of time and energy that can be put into creating a blog I’m proud of, and letting it work for me, instead of the other way around.

Documenting a process may seem like a lot of work, at first. It may even feel weird. But if you do this, you’ll be glad you did this for yourself the next time around, when you’re tired or distracted.. OR when the time comes to delegate the task, should you choose to.

Process automation is about never having to repeat your high level thinking.

Tech Automation

This is what many people think of when they see or hear the word “automation.”

The phrase “Automate your workflow” may conjure industrial age images of factory owners trying to squeeze more out of each employee, or replace them with machines.

Or Artificial Intelligence replacing humans.

I invite you to think of it as a service to you, as an entrepreneur. Anything that reduces your workload over time, that allows you to do what’s important to you, and save time, money, and energy is certainly worth checking out.

Examples of “tech” automation

To use this blog as an example again, there are quite a few tools I can use that make the process of writing a blog a LOT easier, even though all the steps I talked about above can sound daunting.

The most obvious is AI (ChatGPT, Jasper) This is a topic that I’m currently writing about. I wrote an article for beginners, an article about how to get started with content generation, and another about how to use AI when writing marketing emails.

I have tools that allow me to manage images, (which I need, because I use images a lot) automatically create headings and subheadings (the gold and purple gray text you see in every blog) with a click of a button, and a lot more, because of the robust “tech” automation that DIVI provides.

Email is another great example.

I can follow up with leads, clients, and students easily with flexible email automation options.

Trying to do this manually is unrealistic for someone who sells on-demand products, but even for those whose primary focus is 1:1 services, it’s too easy for something to “fall through the cracks” which is not only stressful, but makes it appear as if we “don’t have our shit together.”

A CRM is yet another example. In Kartra, I can easily view and manage contacts so that I can serve everyone much more effectively (and stay sane!)

Data is super important for any business, and with automation I don’t have to spend time gathering data from different sources and try to figure out what it all means. I can have everything in one centralized dashboard so that I can “see” my numbers (KPI’s/key performance indicators) at a glance.

All of these things not only help you to keep your sanity and create a more sustainable business.. they actually create a better experience for your leads and clients.

For example, you can send the right emails to the right people at the right time.. dynamically and automatically, so that they get what is relevant to them, depending on where they are at in their journey with you, preferences, and how they interact with you.

This is a much better experience than simply “blasting” your entire audience with a generic message. THIS is what’s annoying to people.

To make it easier for you to build the “tech” infrastructure you need, I have 7 criteria for determining if a platform is going to be effective for selling an on-demand product, such as a course, membership, or program.  A platform could be one “all under one roof” solution such as Kartra, or it could be comprised of several platforms or apps that get the job done.

The objective is to make sure that the entire system or ecosystem is integrated, running smoothly, provides a seamless experience for customers, but ALSO automates your workflow so that you can focus on what really counts.

I hope that this entire article illuminates the concept of automation, so that it’s no longer a set of fancy tools and yet another thing to learn about/put on your to-do list.

Automation involves some up front investment of time, money, and energy, but pays for itself, and then some, after a few months.

Don’t procrastinate when it comes to automating your workflow, now that you understand the true meaning of this phrase and how it can serve you.

Need help with automating your business?

Systems are one of the 8 core essentials I help clients implement in their businesses.

If you find that you are becoming a slave to your business, an ever-expanding to-do list, or if things are starting to fall between the cracks, it may be time to take a close look at your systems and workflows.

This isn’t just for big corporations or even small businesses.. today, solopreneurs can benefit from affordable tools, templates, and repeatable processes (NOT just tech tools) so that they can create something sustainable for themselves and for their clients.

The best way to get started isn’t by more trial and error, but having someone show you how to streamline your systems and workflows. Get your time back!

Work Less and Earn More in Your Wellness or Coaching Practice

Work Less and Earn More in Your Wellness or Coaching Practice

How to add creative (and more passive) income streams to your business

Many of us wellness, coaching, and creative entrepreneurs were taught to sacrifice ourselves by giving and hustling endlessly.  Of course this is exhausting. 

As an introvert, I don’t mind working hard. It’s a myth that we aren’t ambitious or don’t like to work.

What I DO expect is to have at least one way to earn income that isn’t 100% tied to the hours I work.

Otherwise it’s just another job that I’m a slave to.

Update: This blog is for you if you resonated with my strong statements above, and if you have a brick-and-mortar clinic or practice and want to start gradually exploring other income generating options without necessarily ditching what you are already doing.

The “hybrid” approach means that there’s a continuum from pure 1:1 work to 100% “hands off” on-demand, automatically delivered digital offerings.

I call it creative income streams for introverted business owners who are ambitious, but don’t want to waste time on extroverted tactics that simply don’t work. These methods usually end up draining a lot of energy and don’t even generate any extra income in the long run.

My Story

My story isn’t everyone’s story, but it may resonate with you. 

When I was in acupuncture school, we received some very, very basic training for running a business, which is vitally important since the vast majority of acupuncturists start their own practices.

I remember one day in particular, a teacher asking us what our goals were so that we could calculate how much to charge as well as how many patients we would need to see.. in order to make a certain amount of money each month. This would hopefully cover at the very least the cost of running a business and pay the bills, to start.

One student proclaimed that he wanted to see 200 patients per week so that he could earn the maximum income possible.

Something about this statement and the excitement it created seemed “off” to me, personally.  Not the ambition part, but about how to keep it sustainable, and grow the business without becoming a slave to it. I couldn’t quite put my finger on it then, but I was also thinking:

What would happen when he didn’t feel like seeing that many people anymore? Was he thinking far enough in advance about how he might better leverage his time with a staff, or renting rooms? Or even buying and selling practices?

Are acupuncturists just competing with other, or trying to prove that they don’t have to be poor, by seeing 100’s of patients per week?  Why was I feeling pressured to run my own business this way?

What about getting results for patients? When does it become less about results and more about running a patient mill? And don’t get me started on insurance billing.

I get that a high-volume practice can work as a business model, but it wasn’t for me.  I wanted to focus on results, not hourly transactions, not on insurance billing (which regards our work as more of a commodity) I didn’t want to be tied to a damn building or have to babysit a staff, either.

Nor did the idea of seeing multiple patients per hour ever appeal to me.

Not only is it not a good way for me to produce the results I did for my patients, it’s still tied to the concept of time, and the “income ceiling” is still too low in comparison to other income streams and models.

Yet I was determined to work less and earn more in my acupuncture practice, while still being of service (which for me means delivering results.) But how?

I was also interested in Time, Location, and Financial independence, limiting my interactions with people to only those who I could help the most, while actually expanding my reach to more of the perfect clients for me who existed all over the world.

This sounds pretty daunting, and it was before the pandemic when the vast majority of people didn’t understand what having an online offering was. The very idea even sounded “shady” because it just wasn’t on people’s radars yet.

Even having an online presence was met with resistance in the wellness community. Things have changed, and I no longer have to spend so much time trying to “explain” why having an online offering can help your patients get better results, allow more people to have access to your expertise, and allow you to create time, location, and financial independence. (A “repeatable” model) But back then, it was all QUITE new.

At first, I wasn’t trying to solve the problem of creating a more passive income stream. I was focused on keeping my practice full. I did this by attracting my ideal patients by blogging/SEO, and by creating a membership model. But I was still doing everything manually, and still selling my time.

The shift: It really all started out with one simple frustration: I was tired of repeating the same basic information over and over again, and wanted to lessen my workload by adding a few handouts and educational videos to my 1:1 services. From there, I started adding courses and coaching, which actually not only saved me time, but got my patients better results.

Later, I discovered that I could charge more for a hormone balancing package. It was such a win/win: Patients got better results. I didn’t have to try to cram more patients into my schedule. Most of the work was already done, up front. The course, the blood testing, the onboarding, processes, and templates were done.

I was no longer charging for my time, but results.

My business was also becoming more automated, to include the 4 types of automation: Self, process, template, and tech.

In fact, I wrote a blog about the 4 types of automation.

During this evolution, which was more of an evolution than a transition, I was delighted to discover that there is more than ONE way to practice, especially being an introvert, with a preference to serve on a deeper level.

Today, I prefer to have multiple streams of income, including some kind of online offering. Even my 1:1 services are now remote, because I made a pivot even before things got crazy around 2020.  (It was my choice to leave the country in 2017, and never look back, and focus on marketing and websites, which makes me happy)

1:1 Work is still very important

This is not to say that doing 1:1 work isn’t a good option. It IS. In fact, we need to log time, and lots of it, in working closely with patients and clients in order to develop and refine our experience, before we begin to package it in other ways.

Many, including myself, also love interacting with clients and students. I deliver better products and services when I’m interacting at least at some level, with my clients and students.  A course that runs 100% on its own has already been through BETA stages in which feedback is given, research and testing is done, and has been refined, to a degree.  

You have MORE than 2 choices: 

1. 100% time-based services (1:1 ) or
2. An on-demand product that you don’t have to be present to deliver.  

You can mix and match, combine, and create your OWN blend of income streams that work for you, at any given time. 

There are so many creative possibilities: Group programs, bundled offers, memberships, (both offline and online) bonuses, mini courses, creative onboarding and offboarding options, and more. The sky is the limit!

How creative introverts can succeed THEIR way.

My introverted nature was better suited for figuring out ways to see LESS patients AND make the same amount, or even more money in the process, without charging crazy exorbitant fees. I didn’t figure this all out overnight, but gradually I moved towards my “sweet spot” that made me feel happy, productive, successful, and sane.

I also passionately despised doing administrative work, scheduling and re-scheduling, answering emails,  paperwork, and repeating the same basic information over and over again. 

Instead, I channeled that energy into creating systems and workflows that could be set up ONCE. After that, for the most part, I was out of the equation.

Remember, this isn’t about “either/or,” but a continuum.

This whole concept can be quite “fluid.”  An example: Once you have a process in place for onboarding (intake) for clients or patients, the journey you take them through, and a way to deliver your 1:1 services, you’ve already created a “process” automation.

Another example: Once you set up a mini course, you can use it as a template (“template” automation) for another mini course.  (For more on this concept, see resources below)

You can mix and match and combine your offerings to create something unique.

Download this infographic here.

I want you to know that this is NOT a linear process, in the sense that the ultimate destination is 100% hands off income. Many people, for example, return to 1:1 services simply because they love it. It’s simply nice to have lots of options. 

Now I’m going to show you some of the HOW part of all this.

How I created a system that allowed me to work less and get paid more

Yes, this involved embracing technology, but you don’t have to do nearly as much work as I did trying to figure this all out from scratch!

Please keep in mind that this blog won’t give you a “big picture” view of how to apply every strategy, tool or platform listed here. The big picture will be unique to every business.  

Transparency alert: I am part of a handful of affiliate programs. This means I may receive a small compensation for referring you to a product or service, but only if I use it myself and I feel it is of benefit to others.

The Membership (offline)

First, I built a membership model.

What you need: A way to take recurring payments via credit card

The type of work I was doing was well suited for having patients pay a flat monthly fee for a set number of use-it-or-lose-it treatments.

There are some areas where there may be a few legal hoops to jump through/workarounds, but this is all possible, even in highly (overly?) regulated areas like CA and parts of Canada.

Despite what you may have heard in the past by naysayers, this is all also perfectly ethical. And repeat after me: Yes, we are “allowed” to make money helping others. To refuse to set your practice up for success or make a profit does NOT serve ANYONE.

This model works very well for those who can benefit from maintenance wellness visits. I saw a lot of older athletes, so this made perfect sense. They simply needed ongoing care so that they could keep doing the things they loved.

It also works well for those who may want or need more ongoing support or accountability. (the coaching model) and again, this worked VERY well for my hormone balancing patients, although most of them bought my high-end packages.

This model didn’t make sense for everyone, and I didn’t push it or make it mandatory. I presented it as a benefit to them, with some extra benefits (late cancel fees waived,  flexible scheduling options, and some occasional gifts)

I presented this in a very laid back way that would make it a no-brainer, and my patients loved it.

We didn’t have to worry about transactions, which I firmly believe should be handled by a receptionist or automated system, not by the practitioner directly. It also provided a way for me to get paid consistently and on time, and eliminated a large portion of “cancellation stress.”

Having a powerful and flexible way to get paid (on time) allow me to add my next step:  

Value-added bundled packages

What you will need (The basics)

  • A way to produce slides (optional, but VERY helpful for functional medicine practitioners with a lot of information to teach)
  • A way to record your screen (I like Camtasia, but you can get started with a lot of free software like ScreenCast-O-Matic.)
  • A decent microphone, like Blue Yeti
  • A way to easily create handouts. I use Google docs. You can also use Canva to create covers or entire documents.

This is the next step in the evolution. What this meant for me was premium, comprehensive, high-touch hormone balancing programs for perimenopausal and menopausal women. I included acupuncture, bloodwork analysis, herbal medicine, online digital courses, and lifestyle coaching. They were not cheap, but had a high amount of VALUE, because they offered support, education, and bottom line, got better and more consistent RESULTS. 

I also ditched the volume-based, heavily discounted, “buy 10 and get one free” model that is slowly turning healing services into a cheap commodity.

The tech infrastructure

I’m going to list the basics you need to get started.

For a deeper explanation of the step-by-step process, including setting up your business model, foundations, and entire strategy, check out the Future Proof Your Business Toolkit or see the resources section below.

If you already have the basics set up that I list below, and are ready to create your first online course or membership, you can check out my article: 7 Criteria: Setting Up Your Online Course Or Membership. You can also download the entire article.

Here is a basic outline of what you’ll need to begin creating a “hybrid” offering as part of your menu of services.

1. A payment gateway and/or payment management system. 

You will need to be able to accept credit cards. This is a non-negotiable.

You will also need to be able to accept online payments, including recurring payments and flexible billing options.

First, you will need a payment gateway. This can be confusing, because some services, like PayPal, are both payment gateways and payment management systems.

Most of the platforms you use are going to need for you to connect to a payment gateway like Stripe or Square. 

STRIPE is pretty much the standard now for those who want to use almost any of the software and apps I recommend in this article, such as Kartra or Practice Better.

Stripe will connect to almost any online platform that exists today. (If you are based in the US)

Another option is Square. As of this update, Square has become a bit more flexible in regards to accepting recurring payments, but it’s not as seamless as other systems I use for those who want to expand beyond 1:1 services.

Bottom line: Taking CC payments is getting easier and easier. There is no reason not to anymore. And it is essential for creating the diversity of offerings I created over the years.

A practice management system that will help you gradually scale your business

A platform like AcuSimple or PracticeBetter is something you are likely already using to make scheduling much easier.

Most practice management software today provides a lot more flexibility as far as taking payments, including charging for late cancels or no-shows, memberships, and payment plans.

If your software isn’t able to manage this, you may want to consider an inexpensive tool like MoonClerk to add to your “ecosystem” or even switching to another patient management platform.

An email marketing service

You will need a complete service that allows you to send emails to a lot of people at once, and to send automated emails either as a broadcast, say for a newsletter or a new blog, or a “triggered” email if someone opts in or makes a purchase.

You also want your email system to integrate with all aspects of your marketing and practice management.

Active Campaign is my top pick. ConvertKit and MailerLite are also good for small practices, but offer far less flexibility.

I do NOT recommend MailChimp, for many reasons. It’s not cheap, not intuitive, and it has not kept up with the times when it comes to email marketing. Skip it.

A way to be found: SEO

(Search Engine Optimization) SEO is pretty involved. It’s a rabbit hole, in fact.

Instead of getting overwhelmed, I recommend getting some momentum with keywords and become familiar with some common search engines that will help your ideal client find you.

Keywords: Do some research to find out what your ideal client is typing into searches, so that you can place them naturally into your blog or website content. (Blogging is the easiest way for most to get started with content and leveraging it for SEO)

Search Engines: Don’t stop with Google. Take advantage of other search engines like Pinterest, YouTube, and TikTok.

My favorite is Pinterest, because the vast majority of Pinterest users are there because they are ready to buy. This is definitely not the case for Facebook and Instagram.

A powerful and flexible website

It has become MUCH easier to build your own website in even the past 5 years. If you are a holistic practitioner or coach, you DO want a well functioning and professional looking website that converts.

When it comes to what platform you want to use.. (WordPress, SquareSpace, Wix, etc) my advice is: It depends: on where you are at in your business, if you have a niche and market established, I recommend WordPress, using the DIVI theme/builder. 

As you grow your business, you will  very likely run into a roadblock (which could cost a lot of time, aggravation, and money) if you are using a basic platform like Wix, Weebly, or Squarespace.

Data Collection and Analytics

Data collection and interpretation are going to help you make your best marketing decisions.. everything from what to blog about.. to how to set up each web page in order to convert visitors into buyers.

You can get data to determine the performance of your website, your email, and almost platform you are using.  It’s much easier than ever to get this kind of data at your fingertips, in a way that is intuitive and easy to read and make sense of.

I like to say that data is our friend. Intuition can only get us so far.. without actual information from the external world, we don’t have much actual insight that will help guide us in our business decisions.

Once you get some momentum going.. you may want to add:
A place to host your first course, membership, or program! 

Course-building apps such as Teachable which allow you to create professional looking video courses with .pdf worksheets and homework. This is where you can upload the videos for that 8 module fertility course you created!

Other options include: Thinkific, Podia, Udemy, and WordPress plugins like Thrive Apprentice, Kartra, and Kajabi. (Update to add AttractWell, New Zenler, Systeme.io, and BuilderAll) Some of these platforms are decent, others are still kind of “clunky.”

My favorite is Kartra.

I do NOT recommend Udemy. They are the Groupon of online courses. Building and marketing our own courses, in my opinion, is always the best idea. You also want to have 100% control over pricing.

If you are at this step, don’t let choosing your platform hold you up. This article will help.

A way to host meetings or webinars

One of the most popular options is Zoom. You’re probably already familiar with it.   More and more professionals are using Zoom.. which allows you to share screens, view multiple participants, and record. If you are even considering working with clients remotely, this is one app you should familiarize yourself with.

Patient portals and/or project management apps

Patient portals allow you to easily share messages, documents, and give access to other products or services on an individual or group basis. For this, my pick is PracticeBetter.

Project Management apps, such as Asana or Trello to help you track everything, especially if you outsource. This is the app that I have my clients use so we can communicate effectively and have everything in one place instead of chasing after random emails.

It’s up to you as to which tools you want to use to communicate with your clients or patients.

Truly, it does seem like “tech” is getting easier and easier. Each time I update this blog, either the systems I’m already using are getting better, or there are solutions that make the process more seamless both for your clients and patients, and for YOU, on the backend. Hooray!!

For this reason, there are more and more practitioners going the DIY route. Here’s a list of resources for you, if you are a DIYer:

Future Proof Your Business Toolkit The complete strategy for building and promoting your first online offering, so that you can create a sustainable, thriving wellness practice without selling your TIME…and without the overwhelm

The Tell Your Story DIY Website Kit: Everything you need to build your own StoryBrand-based website: Beautiful DIVI templates, copywriting prompts, step-by-step instructions, and guidance

For more about the concept of the 4 types of automations, check out the book “Free to Focus” by Michael Hyatt.

It’s also perfectly OK to say “You know what, I don’t want to deal with any of this.”  I just want to hire someone to do most of it for me.

This is also a sign of success.. it means you have “leveled up” in your business!

Need More?

I hope this has been a helpful overview for you.. keep in mind, it’s not a comprehensive step by step guide.  It helps to know where to start, then what to do next.. then next, in full detail.

The Future Proof Your Business Toolkit is a great start for DIYer’s. I guide you through the entire process, from mindset, to foundational work, helping you find the most profitable option, to ALL the “tech” pieces, based on my 8 pillar approach.

I didn’t leave anything out, and it comes with guidance and support.

If you are still stuck, and need help in finding out your next steps, we can work together so that you can finally start creating a freedom-based business.