Lisa Robbin Young

[First, an announcement: Congratulations to Jill Stodola, who won the random drawing for a copy of Nely Galan's book, "Self Made". Now, on with the show.]

My Aunt Sue was a fixture in my childhood. She was also somewhat of a role model for me. She was a federal employee, she had a social life, and she was an entrepreneur. She and my mom started a DJ service when I was young. I remember helping to carry milk crates loaded with 45's and LP's from the van to the venue. I'd sit in the back of the room while Aunt Sue tested the sound equipment and we'd play my own private version of "name that tune". She'd spin a classic from an era well before my time. After hearing a song only a few times, I was usually able to guess the song and often the artist, but rarely the year. I'd get close, but Aunt Sue could almost always stump me if she asked me for the year of a song.

Thank God the Internet now helps me find the dates for all the songs in my 300 Songs project.

When I was lucky, she'd play Paul Simon's "50 Ways To Leave Your Lover" - a song I enjoy so much, me and The Damn Whippersnappers played it at our first "Front Row Sessions" online concert. The song doesn't really offer fifty options, but Paul's list of tactics was so catchy and repeatable that you could get all the guests at the wedding reception to start singing along. It was mesmerizing to watch a room of random conversations stop and transform into a singular chorus of voices when Paul offered up his 50 ways.

That or Margaritaville.

But it was Paul, not Jimmy, who gave me my first understanding of the difference between marketing tactics and marketing strategy. I've invited him back for a "guest appearance" in this week's episode of Creative Freedom - where one man's bad sales pitch turned into a teachable moment for us all.

Marketing strategy is more than just a single tactic. It has to be, or it's not a strategy. (Tweet This)

Incidentally, Des, the amazing keyboardist from The Damn Whippersnappers has enlisted, and will not return from boot camp until October, just about the time our bassist, Owen, relocates to Nashville... which is where I'm headed, too. So there's a lot of movement happening in the coming months for all of us. Say a prayer, wouldja?

Be part of the Rising Tide!

Share your thoughts comments and questions about marketing strategies and tactics in the comments. What is working for you? What have you tried that didn't work? We'd love to hear from you!

We're a few episodes into the new season of Creative Freedom, and I'm giddy at the overwhelmingly positive response at this season's show. Fingers crossed I don't jinx anything along the way.

Getting to this point wasn't easy. As I alluded to in Episode One this season, I took a LOT of time off. The last show of Season One aired near the end of August. That's almost a year between episodes, and I'm sure that at least one person thought I wasn't coming back.

Well, I'm back with a vengeance, and an upgrade to boot. But not every upgrade happens with ease. In fact, most of the time, there's a desire to upgrade BEFORE you're ready to actually take the plunge. That's what happened to me.

Here's this week's episode to give you the glossy version. Read on below for the juicy details.

I wanted to upgrade, but I wasn't ready.

Creative Freedom was actually born from a video challenge that Jason Stein and Rachael Albers launched in a facebook group. I knew I wanted to do more video, but I'd been stalling, and the Wisdompreneurs video challenge was a perfectly-timed kick in my pants to get things going. So I did.

But then life happened, as they say, and by August, there was too much on my plate to keep up with a weekly series. So I pulled back, took a hiatus, and spent time trying to figure out what I really wanted to do next.

As a business consultant to creative entrepreneurs, one of the things I teach is to build your business around who you are and what works for you. I thought it fitting to practice what I preach.

It didn't take long for me to decide that I wanted to do another season. I enjoy video, because it's a chance for me to "be on stage" and help people at the same time. But sitting on a yoga ball in my living room didn't leave me feeling like my best self. I wanted better audio for sure, and hopefully a set upgrade. Then, we decided to buy a house, which meant packing up everything and relocating it. So even my makeshift "set" wasn't going to be available for filming.

We moved and, in the process, I thought I was going to get an office - a studio where I could set up and film a show with better production values. I started painting, and sharing my progress on Instagram. It was exciting to watch the process unfold.

And then life happened again, and my teenager moved back in. He needed a room, obviously, which meant the office was a no-go. It's all good. I set up a mini-office in the fireplace room:

My upcycled mini desk

For the most part, it works well, and since this photo was taken, I've added another level of shelving (milk crates ROCK!). But it still doesn't give me a viable space in which to record video. In fact, when I do webinars, I often move over by the window, which works for up-close, talking head-style videos, but doesn't give me the ability to be my fun-loving, arm flailing self.

That, and there was simply no room for my fancy lighting set-up. Last January, I invested in softbox studio lighting so I could film better quality videos. They have a small footprint, but they still take up space, and the angle of the roof in the new house doesn't allow me to get the lighting up high enough to be effective.

Cue the violins.

So my friend and mastermind buddy, Pam offered to store my lights at her place. And then, in a stroke of supreme generosity (or madness, I'm still not sure which), she agreed to let me film this season's episodes at her place. It's an entire floor of studio space, with plenty of room for everything I could possibly need. I could bring the Damn Whippersnappers into that space and do a show, it's so huge.

I got way more than I bargained for... in a good way. I wanted to upgrade, sure, but I had no idea the Divine would bless me with something this awesome.

Still, I wasn't ready for it.

The first season of the show was recorded a bit more, um, on-the-fly, shall we say? It was not uncommon to script, film, edit, and upload the video in a single day. But now, I had to develop and coordinate a shooting schedule. That way, I could film multiple episodes in a single day. It would be impossible, not to mention rude, to just show up at Pam's house and say "Hey! I had a great idea for a video today, let me in so I can film it!"

episode mind map for Creative Freedom season twoInstead, I had to be more intentional. I developed a slate of episode ideas for the entire season. I think there are about 45 or so topic ideas on the mind map you see here, in various stages of completion.

Then, I had to script and rehearse each episode before filming. I also had to collect my makeup, wardrobe, video and audio equipment, and any props I'd need for filming, since Pam lives a few miles away. I couldn't just run back home if I forgot something. That meant developing a checklist to make sure I always had everything I needed when I got to Pam's for a day of filming.

Getting there was only half the solution.

Once I arrive at Pam's, I've got about five hours to get it all done. Why five hours? Because I have a kid that gets off the school bus and I've got to be home for him! During the summer, I have more flexibility, but I still want to keep my shooting time tight, to keep my costs low. Pam's "doing me a solid" right now, but one day, I  may need to rent studio time, and that has a cost.

Just because it's free now doesn't mean it won't cost later. Being efficient always pays off. (Tweet this)

I set up and test all the equipment.  It takes about an hour to set up the lights, get the balance right, and test the audio gear. I am a one-man camera crew for the most part, so it's up to me to make sure things work properly. Sometimes the lights are a little too hot, and I might not catch it until after I've filmed everything. Oh well. Next time. #ProgressNotPerfection

Once everything's up and running, I have to make sure my hair, makeup, and wardrobe work well and actually shoot the videos. I wish I could say that every video happens in a single take, but that would be lying. Shooting the end of this episode took me over an hour - so I only filmed three that day.

I can usually shoot 4 episodes per session. Then it takes about 30 minutes to pack everything up and get ready for the drive home. Why five hours? Because I have a kid that gets off the school bus and I've got to be home for him!

Now I've got a handful of videos that need to be edited, posted, scheduled, and ready for broadcast. Yep, I do that, too. But like I said I enjoy video, and since I'm a Fusion type, I actually do a fair job at it. Plus, I'm not so busy yet that I feel the need to hire it out.

You may be ready to upgrade, but can you maintain it?

I'm familiar with filming so most of this wasn't news to me. The only variables I didn't know about related to how long it would take to set up and test the lights and sound, but I've done a lot of tech rehearsals for theater, so I had an inkling. Yes, this is a LOT of effort, and I wasn't sure that, once I dove in, I'd be able to maintain it.

Frankly, with everything else going on, I wasn't ready to assume this much responsibility before winter was over. We were moving, and yes, the divorce is happening. Had I launched season two in the middle of all of that, I probably would have had a mental breakdown. I wanted to create a new normal, and in order to do that, you have to be ready to maintain it - or it isn't normal, is it?

The next time you're chomping at the bit for an upgrade, ask yourself if you're aware of the new responsibilities that come along with the upgrade. Then ask yourself if you're ready to do what it takes to maintain your "new normal".

The answer might surprise you.

What do you want to upgrade? What's waiting for you on the other side of your next upgrade? Are you READY for that new level of responsibility? Share your thoughts and ideas in the comments, and be part of our Rising Tide Community.

In my early days on Facebook, I was quick to follow anyone with a pulse. If they connected with me as a friend, I returned the favor. I watched my list of "friends" skyrocket to well over 1000 people in very short order.

Problem is, while my friend count was increasing, it didn't result in new friendships... just more nameless faces on my feed. I never had that problem on twitter, though. It moved so fast, I didn't WANT to follow a bunch of people that I couldn't keep up with.

The result? In my first full year of twitter activity, I generated an additional $30,000 in revenues that I could directly attribute to my time on twitter. I'd met tons of people, made great connections, and made inroads on my income goals as well.

And my follower count on Twitter was substantially lower than the thousands I had on Facebook.

That was a valuable lesson for me. Twitter was engaging and it helped me connect with real people in real time. I knew I couldn't keep up with thousands of Facebook friends that weren't really having conversations with me. I needed to cull my list of "Friends" down to the people I really connected with.

I was chasing a magic number. I thought that if I had thousands of facebook followers, it would result in thousands of dollars in income. That wasn't true for me. By chasing a number that didn't really matter to the bottom line of my business, I wasn't focused on results, I was focused on "looking good" - on vanity.

Vanity Metrics Mean Diddly Squat

I knew I had to cull my list, but I didn't want my friend count to drop significantly in a single day. After all, I was still hooked on the vanity of having thousands of "friends".

But any number you're tracking that doesn't directly tie back to your bottom line results - numbers that just make you look good, or feel good, are vanity metrics.

Sure, vanity metrics can prop you up when you're feeling low, but over time, you start to resent them.

"Hey! I've got 10,000 friends! Why is no one seeing my posts? Why am I not making any money?"

Then you start to blame the platform, instead of addressing how chasing vanity metrics has compounded your problem.

"Stupid Facebook changed their algorithm, and now no one sees my stuff!"

Often, the problem isn't the platform, it's the way you're using it. If you've got 1000 "friends" that you never talk to, that you never interact with, why should Facebook's algorithm make your posts a priority for them?

...Not that I speak from experience or anything...(insert awkward silence and lots of blushing here)

So over time, I started doing something most people might consider unthinkable. Each day, when Facebook sends me the birthday announcements, I go into the profile of the birthday boy (or girl), and if I don't truly have a connection with them, and it's been more than a year since we've "friended" each other, I unfriend them.

"Happy Birthday! I just unfriended you!"

Now, I don't post it on their wall or make a big stink about it. I just deleted 2-3 people every day until I only had people in my friends list that I actually knew, had conversations with, or were people I wanted to spend time getting to know better.

In all the years I've been doing it, no one has ever grumped at me about unfriending them... which proves my point.

If you have no relationship with your connections, they won't miss you when you're gone. (Tweet this)

This week's episode of Creative Freedom shares a bit more about vanity metrics, and what makes the power of engagement so effective in building your Noble Empire (hint: it's about quality, not quantity).

Instead of Vanity Metrics, Track Trends & Results

While looking at a high Klout score can inflate your ego, what really matters (at least for me) is the trend of that number. Is it going up, down, or staying the same? What does the trend mean for your business? If a rising Klout score means you're connecting with more people, and those people are your perfect-fit customers, then great! On the other hand, if it means you've just been more active on social media this month, then perhaps you need to re-think your business strategy.

Or maybe Klout means nothing to you (like it does for my colleague). What matters is that you're keeping track of the numbers that matter to you and your business in a way that works for you.

Here are a few numbers I track on a weekly basis (with the help of my AMAZING VA), to keep me on track in my business. In some cases, the number is important, while in other cases, it's the trend that matters most:

  • Total subscribers
  • Average number of subscribers
  • Email open & Click-thru rates
  • Average $ per customer
  • Follower counts on select social media sites

If I had to track all these (and more) myself, my creative brain would have a meltdown. Either that, or I'd spend more time getting lost in the sites as I collect the stats - which is why I have a VA (virtual assistant) handle most of this data collection for me. My financials (sales, income, expenses, etc.) are still handled on my end. Queen Latifah once said to make sure you are always the one who signs the checks, and I think that's sound advice.

The bottom line is that, in business, you need to be concerned with your bottom line. Depending on your Creative Entrepeneur type, it isn't always comfortable to do it. To be clear, making time to look at the metrics and money doesn't mean you're putting money ahead of people, either. As I've mentioned in previous posts, You've got to have profits, or you don't have a business... it's a charity or a hobby! There's nothing wrong with charities or hobbies, but you need to be clear which it is that you are running and behave accordingly.

What are your Vanity Metrics?

What numbers have you been tracking that don't tie back to your results? What ways can you stop chasing vanity and start creating connections, engagement, and more meaning in the relationships with clients, subscribers and fans that you already have? Share your comments and become part of our Rising Tide.

Also, we're considering starting a free facebook group to take these concepts even deeper each week. Interested? Let me know! When there's enough interest, we'll make an announcement in my weekly newsletter. Not on the list? Use the handy dandy box at the top of the page and rectify that problem now. 🙂

It's here! After months of being sick, fighting resistance, and in general just not getting it done, I'm proud to announce my new web series for creative entrepreneurs! It's called "Creative Freedom" and we talk about anything and everything related to building a creative business that lets you have more profit in your pocket and more time to enjoy the money you're making.

One of the business support systems I've come to value above most anything else is my mastermind group. These wonderful people come together to celebrate and support one another in their life and business pursuits. One of the things that keeps us connected between meetings is facebook. So this week, I'm sharing a few simple tips to develop your own mastermind group using Facebook - no five-figure investment required!