Making a Website

I’ve been so lucky to get so many professional referrals for so long that I have put off a lot of the basic “I’m running a business” tasks. An important, but annoying, task I finally tackled was building a website.

It’s not so much that it’s difficult to make a simple website, but it’s the creative planning and thoughtfulness that it requires. So I dedicated a weekend to putting together the bare minimum for what I need.

  1. Shopping around WordPress Themes. This bit of research included looking at features, design, and basic functionality. I ended up with a free theme that suited my needs.
  2. Connecting my domain name (BeckmannCollaborative.com) from GoDaddy to WordPress.
  3. Customizing my WordPress Theme – site name, layout options, etc.
  4. CONTENT. This is the animal I didn’t want to tackle, but decided was absolutely necessary. My final decision was to keep the content very simple – home page with intro information, an about page, blogs, contact, and partners/collaborators.

It took me about 10 hours total over 2 days, and now I have my framework for a functioning website.

Other factors to consider:

  • Contact Form. I recommend using a plugin to a email platform. Almost anything is better than the free contact forms that come with WordPress. This is important for your lead generation plans as well as developing drip content (if you so choose).
  • Blog Plan. To have a blog or not? I just about always choose to have one because I love great content and sharing stories. If you hate writing and know that you will not keep up with a blog, then don’t bother setting one up. An empty blog looks like you don’t care enough to try.
  • Images and Brand. Something I have yet to address for my own business is branding. While I have a ton of ideas about what I think it should look like, few decisions have been made. At minimum, I knew the ascetic that I wanted for my website and the kinds of images I prefer to get my point across.
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Are You Chasing a Dream or Building a Career?

What’s the Best Career for You?

Isn’t this the age old question that we all face at some point – or in my case, multiple points? It’s definitely fun to waste some time on the goofy online quizzes like those on Buzzfeed. It forces you into a conversation about what makes you happy. I like this one: What Career Should You Have? My result was Astronaut. While I do very much love adventure and science, I don’t think I could pass that gravity test.

What is a Career Really?

I’m not sure if the concept of a career still exists in today’s society. What is a Career. Dying at DeskGrowing up, it was enforced that we would go to college, figure out a career, find a job, and stay at said job until we retire or die (whichever happens first). By the time I was in college, the world was rapidly changing – technology, terrorist attacks, hurricanes, and of course the birth of social networking. Every year it seemed that the definition of a career was changing. By 2009, there was no such thing as a career – just luck that you had a job at all.

Work or Die

Even though it has been several years since the economic meltdown (lovingly nicknamed the “great recession” of 2008), the same secure job is what so many people stick to. Every day we exchange our time and talents for money, to buy things from other people who are making the exact same exchange. This is one of the most cyclical things going on our lives – like running in the hamster wheel – yet, so many of us refuse to recognize this fact, so we keep running and hoping for something to change. Isn’t that the definition of crazy?

Happy vs Wealthy

Why can’t we have both? I wish I could tell you that we can all have both; but that would be an outright lie, and it’s just not my style to play that game with people. Some people can definitely have both happiness and wealth, and we should all strive to achieve both. I love music and singing, but at the end of the day I need to be realistic. Singing does not pay the bills, and I’m not nearly talented enough to pursue it further than an activity of enjoyment. BUT THAT IS OKAY BY ME. Not everything you love can be your income generator. I also love to create ideas, communicate and connect with people. Doing that pays my bills, and still makes me happy.

There’s a reason that the phrase “Achieving a Goal” insinuates success and “Chasing a Dream” insinuates wasting time. I used to dream about being an actress on Broadway (age 14) or a powerful band manager (age 16); but I also imagined myself as an entrepreneur who was going to make a change in my community (age 13).

Once you take the time to filter through your many dreams and realize that one of your dreams is actually a goal, then you can stop running and go achieve it. When it is just a dream it remains as nothing more than part of your sleep cycle. Are you done dreaming yet?

Run, Achieve goals, set goals, CEO Candi

Set Your Goals and Run Toward Them

Creating Accountability and a Routine

Now that January has come and gone, many friends have commented on the falling away of their loosely planned New Years Resolutions. To avoid this failure in myself, I made a point of attending every meetup event I could about making and keeping resolutions during January. The logic behind it was that if I could learn the 20 different ways other people are making and keeping up with their goals, then maybe I could find the ways that work best to implement them into my own life.

Part 1: What the Heck Are Your Goals?

Believe it or not, this was the hardest part for me. As everyone buzzed about losing weight, achieving a dollar goal for their business or creating a routine, I sat their blank faced. Finally, people asked me some questions that helped to guide me there. Where do you see yourself 6 months from now? What would make you happy that isn’t in your life? Why are you unhappy?  

Out of these questions, I started with 4 weekly goals and 2 long-term goals. The weekly goals include exercise, getting outdoors, being social, and creating a positive sleep routine. My long-term goals include a solo-trip to Norway and building my company to include partners.

 

Part 2: Creating Accountability

Once you have said your goals out loud to another human being (or in my case, announcing them on social media to the world), you are 80% more likely to achieve them. To push myself further, I discovered 2 methods to keep me accountable for the weekly goals – a calendar and a buddy.

Accountability, Routine, Being Accountable for goals, New Years Resolutions

My Accountability Calendar for January

Accountability Calendar (not my idea, but wish it was). Pin a plain old calendar on your wall and choose a few different colored markers – each one represents a goal. When you complete a goal, mark it on your calendar for that day. The visualization of your accomplishments is pretty powerful.

An Accountability Buddy. This is a person you check-in with about your goals. Think of it as a report you must send to the boss each week, though in this case it’s really a tool for you and your own good. My buddy and I actually have a friendly competition going. We track our goals with points each week (1 point per goal achieved). At the end of the month, the person with the most points is treated by the other to dinner, coffee, drinks, or whatever else suits.

Part 3: Set Benchmarks and Get Excited for Long-Term Goals

I actually set calendar appointments with myself for all of my goals, but it’s especially important for the long-term ones. In order for me to go to Norway for a few weeks at the end of August into September, there are a few preparations I need to make – research, set a budget, purchase plan tickets, book hotels, plan activities, and coordinate with client work. For each item, I’ve created a due date – it is on my Google Calendar with all of my meetings and tasks, as well as living in my Asana task manager under it’s  own project.

Knowing my ability to put off personal endeavors to make way for clients and work-related things, I had to set aside time to schedule myself into meetings with myself.  Otherwise, nothing would get done in time and my trip may not come to fruition. I want it to happen. I’m excited to go. And every week I remind myself about the excitement somehow – Instagram photos, Reddit threads, casual conversations with friends, etc.

Solo Trip, Norway, Accountability, Goal Setting

My Instagram Vision of Norway

 

Just Do What You Need To Do

If making a big change in your life requires some effort and creating a routine, then start somewhere… whatever place you need to. For me, I need calendars and buddies and happy reminders.

 

A Note of Thanks To Supportive Leaders

Thank you for leaving a positive impact on my life

Developing yourself into a professional is a long and sometimes complicated journey. We are never on this journey alone. And in my case, I’ve had several cheerleaders and coaches supporting me with each step. Today I’m taking a moment to thank some of those influential people.

Peggy Devery – English teacher, grammar great, and life instructor.

Not every kid in class appreciated her like I did. She saw a world beyond the halls of that school and the importance of the words we use in that world. Ms Devery showed me how beautiful and comical a single sentence can be – because of the way we arrange it. Powerful Leaders, Thank You, Good Grammar, Marketing

 

Susie Blank – Choral director, cellist, and non-traditional music aficionado.

Every singer is touched by people who help to find her voice. Ms Blank was the first person to push me to work on music the same way one would practice a sport or prepare for a test. She forced me to work on sight reading and trying new things outside of the comfort zone.

Music, Powerful Leaders, Thank you, marketing

Tamara Bering Sunguroff – Vocal teacher, opera singer, and musical coach.

Each week that we met was a new adventure in music and culture. She was more than a voice teacher, she was a musical advisor and coach to me. Tamara was a professional opera singer, so she bestowed many wisdoms on me about music and life.

Roz Dischiavo – Wellness Center director, relationship therapist, and mentor.

Most of us have that one college professor who opens your mind and turns your world upside down – that’s Roz. She was hard on me, supportive and insightful, and that’s what 19 year old me really needed. That magical mixture forced me to look at a world beyond performance and business, and to see the importance of offering a social good to the world.

Supportive Leaders, Leadership, Thank you, Marketing

Jennifer Hempel – Marketing director, cultural omnivore, and proud Canadian.

We did not always get along or agree, but when we were in sync the air was supercharged and anything could happen. She had high expectations and sometimes pushed me a little harder than I could take. At the end of the day though, I am stronger and smarter for working with her.

 

Always Seek Knowledge and Development

You may notice that only one of the incredible women I list here has impacted my profession directly (marketing). It is important to be influenced by people with varying backgrounds and experiences. I seek out mentors and mentees because life is an ever evolving series of lessons, and that goes beyond a paycheck.

Building the Breakdown Muscle for Sales Success

Going from failure to failure will improve your sales and marketing

Why? You need to build the failure muscle in order to close that big sale or reach that target audience. It seems that failure is often looked down upon in our society. The emotions that we associate with failure are shame, embarrassment, disappointment, and anger. That is why I don’t think of it as failure when something I’ve tried doesn’t work out – it’s just a breakdown. Resilience is the most underrated virtue of successful business owners.

Shift your view of breakdowns to being about how you are taking a step toward success. It becomes a learning opportunity and leads you to a much more successful ending.  Sales and marketing require a lot of experimenting before finding what works. So fail often to find success. Beyond work, breakdowns are essential to build a muscle that we all must workout in order to achieve success.

“Success consists of going from failure to failure without loss of enthusiasm.”

Winston Churchill

It’s terrible that some kids grow up thinking that competition with others is the only way to win. Those same kids believe that getting things wrong are failures, rather than simple breakdowns that can lead to a success.

Embrace the Failures

Cast a wide net by practicing your breakdowns, and be ready to walk away from an idea if it doesn’t work. Here are some ways for you to workout that breakdown muscle.

  • Experiment in a Safe Place

The projects and prospect with the lease downsides are a great place to start. Avoid projects where the cost of failure is prohibitive.

  • Try New Things

Take the time to try all kinds of ideas. Try lots of different approaches to your sales and marketing tactics.

  • Know When You Have Failed

I know that it is difficult to walk away from an idea that was great in concept, but being truly self-aware and listening closely will offer an opportunity to try something else that will succeed.

  • Recognize the Impact and Make a Plan

After you have a meltdown (or rightfully choose not to), pause and look at the results of your failure. Really look at the sales reports or feedback analysis. Understanding the impact of your failure is key to finding the new road toward your success.

 

Let’s remove the word failure from our work vocabulary. It doesn’t lead us anywhere useful. Instead, let’s celebrate having breakdowns for success.

Are you ready to celebrate your breakdowns?

Telling Your Own Story

It’s easy to be swept up in a client’s brand story and forget about telling your own story. When you are a consultant (or freelancer or contractor), it’s so important to pause and think about the content you are putting out to the world, the story you tell people, and how you are sharing it. I am a victim of getting lost in the chaos of work and forgetting to think about my story, at least for a little while.

Identify Your Specialty

 

What is your field of expertise

Start by writing an email or pitch to yourself. Try to sum up what you know best in the simplest possible terms. Are you an incredible graphic designer for tech companies? Maybe you are a highly organized hospitality manager, a technical writer for procedures and guides, or a project manager for non-technology jobs. The clearer you can be about your field, the better.

What do you feel the most comfortable offering to clients

This is where you get into the nitty gritty. I scribbled down things as they happened during work – the specific kinds of tasks that I am best at and feel I can confidently offer. While I’m not a technical writer, I feel comfortable talking about technology and the kinds of materials that are required. On the other hand, I’m very comfortable working with clients to do the market research and create a true demographic profile of their customers.

Consultant, Identify Your Specialty

Consultants Need a Specialty

You can tip toe into the water, or run with open arms. Either way, take a look into your self to figure out your specialty. These are just two of the key questions to keep yourself in check. Since I’m still relatively new to being a consultant, it is only in the past few weeks that I have been able to clearly identify the answers to these questions. It took me about a year of trying things out, testing my limits and asking a lot of questions to find my own answers.

What’s Your Tribe?

During an event that I attended this week, the speaker posed 3 key questions to the audience:

1. What is the purpose of your tribe?

2. Why would your tribe talk about you?

3. Who, How, What, When, and Where is your tribe?

Though it may seam daft, I wasn’t quite sure what she meant by “my tribe”. So I started to think about the people I surround myself with and those who I associate with in business. If you feel like your colleagues or coworkers don’t make you feel inspired or challenged, then you may need to find your real tribe.

Steps to Find Your Tribe

1. Identify the type of people you enjoy being with. How do you use your natural talents when you’re with them?

2. Find those people and spend time with them, learn from them, and be inspired by them.

 

Related Articles on Finding Your Tribe:

How Finding Your Tribe Can the Key to Finding Your Ideal Career >>

7 Tips to Finding Your Tribe >>

Finding Your Tribe May be the Hardest Thing You Do >>