Not too long ago, I was speaking with a delightful woman who was trying to figure out how to move forward in her business.
She’d been working with a business coach who had told her she needed to have her website and brand perfected and put together before she could start putting herself out there to get clients.
(The coach had even told her to stop posting content on social media because she didn’t have a website yet.)
The problem was, she was still just getting started, and wasn’t 100% clear on who her target market was.
She had a few ideas….
- She wanted to work with women in their 50s who wanted to reinvent themselves.
- But she also felt called to work with all women around empowerment.
- She also had a background (and an entirely separate brand) around helping survivors of domestic violence and abuse.
And she felt like her coach was trying to force her into a box – to create a website and brand that spoke ONLY to women in their 50s.
And I understand this advice.
Because the truth is, narrowing down your target market IS extremely helpful in growing a business. It makes marketing easier because you’re talking to a specific audience about a specific set of problems and solutions.
But here’s the problem…
When you’re just getting started, you often don’t KNOW who you’re going to end up wanting to work with.
Sure, you have an idea right now (or multiple ideas, like the woman in this story), but even if you’re pretty certain, as soon as you start landing actual, real-life clients, there’s a good chance things will shift for you.
I can’t tell you how many times I’ve been working with a client in the early stages of their business where they come to a call and say, “So I’ve gotten some more clarity since our last call, and now I think the person I want to attract is actually…”
And this time of discovery is wonderful and exciting.
But it can also cause you to spin your wheels for 6 months… a year… two years… (I’ve even seen entrepreneurs spin their wheels for longer than that).
Because if you’re trying to get everything perfect – the target market, the message, the brand, the website (dear lord, the website) – if you think you have to have all of this figured out and perfected BEFORE you start putting yourself out there or working with clients, then you’re…
A) Never gonna get started, because you’ll keep thinking, “I’m not clear yet, so I can’t write my website!”
B) Going to start… and then stop… and then start over… and then stop… because you keep changing your mind or “getting more clarity.”
But the truth is…
The fastest way for you to get clarity (around things like your target market, your messaging, your brand, etc.) is for you to GET CLIENTS.
Seriously. There is no faster way to realize that you really prefer working with entrepreneurs instead of corporate professionals than to start working with a few clients from each group.
There is no faster way to get truly clear on your message, on your Point of View, on the thing you want to be known for, than to work with clients and discover the big, overarching theme of everything you teach them.
There is no faster way to know if your website is going to attract the right people than to get to know those people and then write the website about the things they’re dealing with.
So I know this must seem like a chicken-and-egg scenario:
- How can you get clients if you don’t have a website or brand or message yet?
- But how can you create a website, brand, or message if you don’t have clients yet and Cheryl is telling you that you won’t know what you want your website, brand or message to be until you’ve worked with clients??
The short answer?
Make your best educated guess about who you think you want to work with right now, what you think they need to hear from you, and what you truly want to tell them.
And then take action based on that.
Resist the urge to pivot every other week. Commit to it long enough to start getting clients and to throw together a “for now” website with “for now” messaging.
Give yourself permission to change your mind later on.
Give yourself permission to have a website that isn’t 100% perfect yet.
Know that you can change it ALL in 6 months or 12 months, once you’ve gotten ACTUAL clarity.
(And I mean, clarity from real-life experience. Not clarity from journaling, thinking about it and talking it out with your non-entrepreneur girlfriends.)
In fact, as I write this, I just had a call with someone TODAY who had been in business for about a year. She’d thrown together a “for now” website when she first started, taking her best guess at the language that needed to be on the site…
…but now, a year later, she has more clarity around what the site should actually say.
But how did she get that clarity?
By working with actual clients!
Yes! She had just spent a year building her business, getting private clients, getting booked for speaking gigs, even getting corporate contracts – basically, making money while getting to know her target market.
In our call today, we just zipped through her existing website and found all the places where the copy needed to be adjusted, based on what she’s learned about her people over the past year.
But here’s what I want you to get…
If she’d waited until her website was 100% perfect before putting herself out there…
a) she never would’ve gotten out there because there’s NO WAY she would’ve known what that copy needed to say…
b) she wouldn’t have been able to generate any revenue this past year.
This is one of the big reasons I shifted from offering copywriting packages to doing a Done-WITH-You-Copywriting program.
Because I was tired of seeing new entrepreneurs spend a fortune to have a copywriter write their entire website, based on their guesses of what they thought they wanted to do and say and who they thought they wanted to work with… only to see them have to start all over again a year later.
In the Done-WITH-You program, you learn how to write your own copy. You understand the process, so you can make those tweaks and updates when you need to.
I also meet people who are so scared to put the WRONG website or WRONG message out into the world because…
…they have this (often subconscious) fear that doing it wrong will ruin their business forever. For. Ev. Er.
That they MUST get it correct, right out the gate, or they will never be able to make money.
So not true.
- First of all, the number of people who are going to see your website or social media posts or business card when you’re just getting started is tiny. Miniscule.
- Second of all, people pivot their businesses all the time. It doesn’t mean you’re a failure if you shift gears later on. In fact, shifting into a new, more mature version of You is a beautiful period for your business.
- Third of all, there is very little that can destroy your ability to have a business forever and ever. You can always start again. And in most cases, it’s not even “starting over.” It’s just picking things back up.
So what can you do about all this?
How about some…
- If you don’t yet know your target market, make a decision. Take your best guess, and know that it doesn’t have to be correct. This is your “for now” target market.
- (If you have more than one target market idea, and it’s really tearing you apart to have to choose just one, then okay. You can play with two. MAXIMUM three. But try to narrow it down to two, and hopefully those two have some overlap.)
- Do some brainstorming around the problems your “for now” target market has. (Do a separate brainstorm for your second target market if you have more than one.)
- Do some brainstorming around the kinds of lessons you’d like to share with your target market.
- Come up with a “for now” message. (Get some help with this in my free “Craft Your Point of View” Workbook. Get it here!)
- Write a “for now” website. (Want help? Join me for a virtual WRITE IT! Workshop where I teach you how to write – or rewrite – your website, then we actually GET IT DONE together. Happens Friday, 5/22 and Saturday 5/23, 2020. Get all the details here!)
- And start putting yourself out there. (Not sure how? Check out my online course, Article Magic. It takes you through my 3-step system to generate endless ideas for content AND gives a bunch of article templates that you can use for your email newsletter, your blog posts, and more!!)
I can’t wait to see what you create!
Want some guidance around writing your website?
Come to the “Write Your Website” virtual workshop!
- Friday, May 22nd, 11am – 1:30pm EDT – Teaching, Working & Q&A
- Saturday, May 23rd, 11am – 1:30pm EDT – Working, More Working, & Q&A
- How to write the 3 main pages (or sections) of any business website: The Homepage, About Page, and Services/Products Page
- How to write smaller, additional pages, like Contact, Speaking, Informational, & Events Pages
- How to infuse your website with a powerful message that helps you stand out!
- My Messaging Worksheet
- My templates for ALL of your website pages
- Plenty of chances to ask me YOUR questions about YOUR website copy!