Have you ever tried a bland dish? No spices, no substance, no particular color? Just a water-like looking soup with some food scraps swimming in there? Years ago I tried a soup like that for the first time – my brief initiation into blandness.
Raised in a flower bed of exceptional cooking with plenty of spices to enjoy, I knew I could never get used to it. I can’t stand it in life, couldn’t tolerate it in my classroom, and find it dull in business.
What makes your business taste bland?
I believe that lack of creativity makes our businesses bland, boring and predictable. I used to think when I began teaching online 7 years ago that all I needed for online presence was a page with my email address and a list of my degrees.
Online world has changed dramatically since then, and we can’t expect to attract clients by offering them dull copy, predictable content and like-everyone-else offers. Delighting our readers has to include more than a wishy-washy soup with a few ingredients floating there as a trophy.
Delighting readers is impossible without creativity, and ignoring some of its basic components like authenticity, clarity, and copy uniqueness turn us into a commodity.
The main danger of being a commodity is raising a clientele that’s either indifferent or only interested only in your price tags. I’m using the phrase “raising a clientele” because I believe as business owners we are in charge of whether our readers turn into our brand cheer-leaders or coupon-hunters. So let’s look at the way creativity can bring more zest into your online business.
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“Choosing authenticity means: cultivating the courage to be emotionally honest, to set boundaries, and to allow ourselves to be vulnerable.” ~ Brené Brown
Authenticity is a challenging task of letting go of what others think or expect of us. For instance, in my industry of online language teaching the expected qualities of an “authority” are a) talking about running a big business; b) emphasizing success (money and happiness that’s supposed to birth it); c) offering endless tips without digging deeper.
Your creativity will blossom when you no longer worry about other people’s “hype trends” and choose authenticity instead.
When I began this blog at the end of 2014 after my first tutoring business had fallen apart I knew I had something unique to share. But mine wasn’t a story of a glorious success and 6 figures. In fact, at the time I was looking for something less cheesy and more real, and found next to nothing.
So I started writing about burnout, the dangers of not choosing a niche, working with everyone instead of looking for an ideal client, and others. It was challenging not to give just “practical tips,” but to dig deeper and connect. But I chose vulnerability because at the time I needed it the most.
And the response was incredible. The clients I gained then are with me to this day, and random readers from all over took the time to write the most encouraging comments. Authenticity freed me to be more creative.
The Website that Tastes like YOU
Do you enjoy a cluttered, DIY website with low-resolution stock pictures, pop-ups that you can’t close, and other cookie-cutter elements that you’ve seen everywhere else? Neither do I.
If your website looks like everyone else’s out there, only with a different name, the customer will only be attracted to a lower price. Flex your creativity muscles to enrich your readers’ experience.
Prioritizing customer satisfaction and delight will always result in more authentic clients who want a life-changing experience, not a group of self-help junkies doing a “drive through” your website in search for quick help.
If we have been in business for a few years we can’t expect a bland website to attract people on a life-changing journey. Declutter, personalize and delight. Check out this free, 5-day Copy Detox program by Veronika Palovska.
It’s hard to be different that when there’s a huge pull to follow the crowd. I used to hate pop-ups for instance, but I felt like I had to do them because everyone was doing it. “What if I stopped? My list would stop growing, OMG!”
Choosing creativity means daring to be original even if others are saying “it’s not what people expect.”
If you want to create unique offers, creativity is your buddy, not conformity. Here’s what I see creative entrepreneurs do with their offers:
- They challenge assumptions: instead of creating extensive online courses they make small products.
- They focus on fewer offers.
- They find creative names: Copy Detox, Film Fortnight, Culture-Sensitive Phrasebook
- They try out new formats: challenges, voice chats, email courses, unique experiences, classes, virtual retreats, etc.
- They take the time to get to know their dream client so their offers are specific, not “for everybody out there.”
I’m sure you’ve experienced thought paralysis when you’ve created your course or product/program, and “all that was left” was write that sales page. You google up the templates, listen to a couple of “experts” on youtube, and your sales page is done within a few hours.
It’s all good, except it doesn’t work. It may work for the expert, but it doesn’t work for you.
Hint 1: the more formulas and ready-made cliches you use from your “free blueprints,” the less efficient your sales page is going to be.
Hint 2: Using someone else’s copy outline, however eloquent, without knowing the spine is like trying to speak fluently using a phrase book.
Here’re some fantastic copy samples written by entrepreneurs in my field that work. Read and analyze them:
- Film Fortnight: a 2-week email course my Cara Leopold
- Write with Clarity and Confidence: a coaching program by Veronika Palovska
A punchy copy is a creative volcano. If you sync with the writer’s message, it lightens you, makes you feel fresh and enthusiastic, doesn’t leave a bad cliched taste in your mouth (pun intended).
You have a feeling that the writer has been in your head. Obviously, no formulas can do that. You need to dig deeper.
When you’re creative, your content (videos, podcasts or blog posts) is zesty. It brings a fresh perspective, injects your personality into your creation, and infects people with the desire to change (which is how sales happen).
Here’s my conversation from the forum this week,
X: “I’ve created a course, but I can’t market it. That’s my problem. I need to be pushy.”
Me: “Do you like when people push you into buying?”
Me: “So don’t do it to others.”
X: “But how do I sell?”
You can’t sell online just by listing your products/services on a dead website – that’s true.
But you can sell online by consistently producing creative content that attracts people to your brand. Once that is done, a sale is a by-product.
If you want to sell, share unique free content that convinces your dream client that working with you is their gain. When you show to people that you care and connect, sales aren’t going to be too far. Be creative and original, and people will come back to you.
Let sleazy “experts” use their pushing.
But you don’t have to do it. Yes, push marketing is going to bring in sales quickly, but how will you or the person you’ve just sold to feel? It’s a lousy long-term strategy for those who want to foster brand loyalty.
Since I’m into blogging, here’re some zesty blog posts that attract you to the brand and in the long run (I know) will lead to sales. Put your creative cap on and read:
- Jane Austen’s Guide to Finding and Attracting your Dream Client by Veronika Palovska
- Think before you speak: your Reader’s Journal in 15 Minute a Day by Trisha Traughber
- 4 Lessons from Origami to Help you Understand Spoken English by Cara Leopold
If you’re into blogging but are frustrated with getting the words out on paper, I invite you to my virtual blogging retreat. It’s a 3-day experience for the Smart Teacher’s Library members, and you can sign up and try it out for free. I’ve included beautiful music, enchanting stories and other prompts to get your creativity going.
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Your yummy takeaways:
- Tone your creativity. You have it in you, but it may have been dormant because of the things you “do” for your business. This is the best time and money investment to make. Here’s a creativity training plan by Veronika Palovska.
- Consume creativity. If you’re like me, your inbox is probably burning with tips and ideas from every expert. Purge them. Leave those who inspire you to be creative. Relish their emails.
- Detox your website to sound more like you. Again, here’s a free, 5-day program if you struggle with copy-and-paste-from-experts syndrome.
- Join a creative community. Some projects need group creativity to blossom. You get a gentle push, lots of ideas and enter a collaborative creativity powerhouse on steroids. All of that is happening every week in my Smart Teacher’s Library. No, it’s not just a collection of resources. It’s also a forum with weekly udpates and monthly challenges to make your online business more zesty. Join now.
Do you have any zesty business examples to share? Please let me know in the comments! ~ Elena