Discover more from Female Owned: Small business without the hustle
What if marketing your business felt good?
An experiment in rethinking your marketing + 3 favourites
When I was 17, I went into the fancy cosmetics store in my town. I’d never been much into make-up, but for some reason I was looking for lipstick that day. What I remember is leaving clutching a small bag of samples (anti-ageing skincare needed to start at my age, the saleswoman had told me) and a 50 guilders Chanel-lipstick. It came in a gold case that made a satisfying click whenever I slid the top back on.
That sound was pretty much the only thing that was satisfying about the experience and the lipstick.
I probably wore it once or twice, but I mainly remember feeling incredibly resentful towards it. It had cost way more than I’d planned to spend and I’d felt pressured to buy it. I hadn’t dared to say no to the saleswoman: I was worried that she’d think I didn’t belong in the store if I didn’t want to buy it. I felt intimated.
The lipstick lingered in a drawer for years. Sometimes I caught a glimpse of its gold case. And I’d always feel resentment. I felt zero joy about this purchase. Similarly, I’ll always associate this fancy cosmetics store with that purchase.
In the 20+ years since that purchase I’ve gotten a lot better at not giving in to pressure when someone is trying to sell me something, no matter how good their intentions. It took me years, and a lot of money spent on clothes that “look so cute!” but that I never wore, guided journals I never used, and several online courses I didn’t finish.
Yet the idea that marketing is forcing something on someone, like that lipstick felt forced on me, lingered. When I started my business I really didn’t want to market it—I just wanted clients to magically find me (spoiler: they didn’t).
That’s changed, however. I still get moments of insecurity around marketing—I think we all do—but a few things have helped me.
In this post, I’ll be sharing what changed for me around marketing, and suggest an experiment for you to try as well.
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There is no shame in trying lots of different ways of marketing, but in the end we need to settle on just a few channels that feel as good as possible for us.
I’ve written before about my relationship with social media and will again next month. The short version is that I experimented with Instagram for years, until I finally found the clarity and courage to quit. If you love Instagram I’m happy for you—but it made me feel overstimulated, disempowered and dissatisfied.
I felt like I was constantly chasing something that never materialised.
If you need it, here’s a permission slip for you: you can market using the strategies and channels that feel good to you.
Imagine how you could spend your time and energy if you didn’t spend it on that marketing channel that makes you feel bad. You could discover more of what you enjoy doing and build deeper relationships with your community that way.
For me, writing is something I immensely enjoy, as is creating resources (such as the quarterly guide). I’m now writing more newsletters and investing more time and energy in them. And it pays off—I’m getting so many responses from people who love reading my words, and who feel supported by them (which is exactly why I write).
My mentoring business is created around the words slow, gentle and profitable. These words also guide me in my marketing—and unsurprisingly, social media is not part of it.
By building my business around the words slow, gentle and profitable, I also attract people who want more of that in their lives. A lot of the small business owners and freelancers that I talk to feel overwhelmed by social media, so not marketing my business there makes complete sense, and I felt no need to stay on social media for my “audience”.
Of course, it’s impossible to find exactly what your potential clients and customers want in terms of marketing, and even if you could find out precisely, it’s still your business.
I don’t know how you feel about video, for instance, but regardless of how you feel as my community, I have no desire to start a YouTube channel or do more video, because it just doesn’t feel good to me. But perhaps video does feel like a place where you could explore your creativity and it might become part of your marketing (as someone who doesn’t like video, I do really love’s vlogs).
Take a moment to think or journal about these questions
How do you feel about the way you’re approaching marketing in your business right now? What feels good, and what doesn’t? (A more and less list can be really helpful here)
What do you want to experiment with? What do you want to do more of? Who inspires you in this respect?
Give yourself a period to experiment with spending less time on the marketing you don’t enjoy, and filling up the remaining time and energy with new or existing things you do enjoy.
I’d love to hear how you feel about marketing your business, and whether that’s changed since you started. Which types of marketing feel good to you, and which don’t? Are you eager to try something new, or to stop something?
birds | I’m getting so much joy out of the different birds that visit the feeders in our garden. I love seeing which ones visit (and realising that the group noun “a quarrel” is perfect for sparrows).
yearly reviews | there are many of these out there right now, but I especially enjoyed this behind-the-scenes one by writer Virginia Sole-Smith and this slightly different take on the yearly review by Alice Vincent.
a nicer lock-screen | I do my best to make my phone as boring as possible so I don’t get sucked into distraction. Setting my lock-screen to ‘shuffle’ and have it show a different picture every hour is definitely making my phone a lovelier place, and is bringing back lots of memories (I set mine to ‘nature’)
What’s on your lists of favourites this month? What did you read, see, hear, drink, eat, observe that made your day?
Things I wrote over the past month:
Are you ready to shape your business to support your life, needs and desires? Do you wonder whether there’s a slower, gentler and more profitable way of running a business, without the hustle, hacks or burnout?*
I’d love to support you to create a business away from the norm that supports all parts of your humanness, whether that means starting or building a business alongside a family, another job, (chronic) illness or any other needs and desires.
There is a slower, gentler and more profitable way of running a business, and I’m here to help you achieve it.
* the answer to this question is YES!
I hope you had a good start to the new year—and if this time of year feels hard for you, know that you are not alone. ❤️ Take it easy and slowly: the new year is really just a new day, a new week, a new month. There’s no need to make big plans or force yourself to be active and ambitious.
I’ll be back soon with a thread on my and your favourite business tools (bring your fancy pens, pretty notebooks and favourite software), and a reflection on 2022 later this month.
Have a restful and calm month x
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