Author: Erika Madden

I Look Like an Imposter: An Open Letter Confessing My Secret Fears as an Online Entrepreneur

  |   Business Tips, Personal   |   99 Comments

Can we just admit it right now, please? Being a business owner is freaking SCARY. This blog post is for all the courageous biz heroes out there who are secretly scared to death: scared to get out of their introvert shell, scared of looking like a fraud, scared of burnout. You are not alone, and you should read this.

Dear Friends and Readers,

Do you ever want to write something terribly important to you, but no matter how many different ways you think about it, when you sit down to put words to the screen, you can't seem to make it sound like the mighty words living inside your brain?

That's where I am right now.

I suppose the only thing to do in these situations is to blurt it out and hope it doesn't come out sounding too ridiculous. Too rough around the edges. Too whatever.

(But you'll just have to forgive me if it does. ;))

So, for the lack of a better idea -- and, apparently, better composition skills -- that's what I'm going to do now.
...

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How to Avoid Client Regret: 9 Signs That You Should Pass on Work

  |   Business Tips   |   42 Comments

How do you avoid bad clients (and the resulting project headaches + lost income) when you're a freelancer or small business owner? There are some specific early warning signs you should look out for -- read the post to see what they are!

When I started doing graphic + web design work full-time as a freelancer, it never occurred to me that there was such a thing as "client regret."

Avoid bad clients? Nah. There's no such thing, right?!

Money, after all, is money.

(Oh yes, go on. Laugh at my naïveté. I won't be offended.)

Perhaps I can redeem myself by admitting that it didn't take me long to wake me up from my rose-colored world where business owner and client skipped merrily along down the path to glorious pastures of perfectly completed projects, timely payments, and goodwill toward all.

About my third or fourth client in, it was then that I realized: being selective when it comes to clientele is not only perfectly acceptable, it's an act of profound kindness. For yourself and your business, of course, but even for the other person (who deserves to work with somebody fitted toward their unique wants + personality).

We are all pretty good people. I firmly believe that. But not everyone is meant to work together, and not everyone is a fabulous client.

"Sounds reasonable," you say. "But how do I spot a bad client before they BECOME a bad client and I have to see the job through to the bitter, smothering end?"

That's a hard thing to recognize at first, which is why I've compiled the following 9 early warning signs (gleaned from my own experiences in the wild wild west that is solo business ownership). I've also included a couple of word-for-word scripts you can use to say "no" to potential work that exhibits these -- or any other -- red flags.

Before you take on a new client, run through this list first. It helps!
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The 39 Essential Customer Service Quotes for Online Entrepreneurs + Creatives

  |   Business Tips, Customer Service   |   1 Comment

The essential customer service quotes for online entrepreneurs and creative business owners. Inspiring and eye-opening, these quotes will transform how you run your business. Click to read + bookmark.

If there's one thing that applies to all of us hardworking, persevering, only-slightly-insane business owners who deal with clients and customers on a daily basis, it's most certainly this:

We all need inspiration.

An intoxicating dose of it.

We need her in order to fend off the lurking boogeyman all biz owners fear in their deepest bones (you may have heard of him -- he goes by Burnout).

We need her in order to improve.

We need her so that we can deliver our best.

(Which is recognized by all to be The Business Without Excuses, Grumbling, or Customer-Shaming.)

I know just how desperately we need inspiration because I need it, too. Without it I get tired. Maybe even a bit lazy.

You feel me, don't you?

It's why in this post today I'm specifically sharing with you those motivational customer service quotes that inspire me in my own business. (You know how I feel about customer service and being delightful online; it's something I strive for personally and believe in...

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The “Secret” Trick to Delivering Consistent Customer Service as an Online Business Owner

  |   Business Tips, Customer Service   |   9 Comments

The "secret" to consistent customer service online! This trick is used by big politicians + successful companies to wow their customers EVERY time -- and it's ideal for busy solo business owners, too! Implement it and you'll be faster + better at giving people the customer experience they hope for with your biz.

When I was a Journalism major back in college, I did something unspeakable.

I decided I wanted to work in the White House.

(I blame it all on Allison Janney and The West Wing. She made political work look like an irresistible adventure.)

This slight detour in my education landed me a coveted internship for one of the U.S. Senators for my state. Among a collection of rather mundane duties (checking the mail, collecting press clippings, gossiping with the chief of staff's assistant), I was responsible for one extraordinary thing:

Responding to hundreds of constituent letters.

In the Senator's name.

How did I do this? I could put a sentence together as well as anybody (or so I thought), but something as significant as a politician's official correspondence would not be left to chance.

These letters also had to be written quickly; there was no time to agonize over tone, massage adjectives, and then recruit a higher-up to edit for accuracy + political correctness.

The trick? A script database. A big one.
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Delight: The Digital Biz Owner’s Guide To Creating A Pro Client + Customer Service Plan (A Workbook)

  |   Business Tips, Customer Service, E-Books, Reputation   |   9 Comments

The complete guide to creating a customer service plan for your small business. Delight: The Digital Biz Owner's Guide To Creating A Pro Client + Customer Service Plan is for creative business owners, freelancers, Etsy shop owners, and entrepreneurs who want to get more clients + buyers + forever fans by delivering heroic service.

A long time ago (32 weeks, to be exact) in places far away (that would be Twitter, Instagram, + Facebook), I posed a question.

It went a little like this:

Screenshot 2015-10-27 14.12.34

After a lot of studious tallying by candlelight into the wee hours of the morning (not really), the answer was resoundingly clear.

"Create #2!" the masses cried.

It was a happy day, as you might imagine. (Oh, if all our future business plans could be so obvious.) But today? Oh today, my friends, is even happier.

That's because Delight: The Digital Biz Owner's Guide To Creating A Pro Client + Customer Service Plan is finally here. (And I can't wait for you to see it.)

What are the details of this one-of-a-kind workbook? Let me show you:
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Winning Trust: 50 Proven Ways to Make Your Business Look Professional Online

  |   Blogging Tips, Business Tips, Classy Marketing, Customer Service   |   40 Comments

Use this heroic list of 50 proven ways to make your business look professional online to boost your brand cred and be more successful. The tips here will help you be a trusted, respected authority online, meaning you get the followers you want and the clients + customers you need.

You've figured it out by now.

If you want to be successful (read: get followers + make money to pay your bills) in business online, it's not enough to simply have a website.

It's not enough to simply put up some services or products.

It's not enough to simply post on some social media accounts.

You can have ALL those things -- and still barely get noticed. 

And while you no doubt get that, it's still frustrating. That's because while you know that it does take more, chances are that you're simply not sure what that "more" is.

Does it take gobs of money? Friends in high places? A whiz partner helping in the background?! Or maybe $20,000 worth of e-courses + masterminds?!?!

Let's all take a collective cleansing breath, because I'm happy to tell you that NO: it does not require a single one of the above.

(If I can be a little bit personal with you guys here, I'll tell you that I myself had none of those things that I just listed when I started Olyvia.co. The truth is, I had just left my destructive marriage, was living alone and on food stamps + Medicaid with three young children I had to care for full-time, had absolutely ZERO business connections because I had been a stay-at-home-mom for the past seven years [blogging + doing mostly free freelancing in my spare time], and could not afford to buy a single e-course or mastermind "opportunity.")

What it takes, more than anything, is to make the right impression.

In part 1 of the #heroicbrand series, I taught you all about making an impression through relationships. In part 2, you learned to build a reputation for yourself via the quality of content you put out into the world. Today, in part 3, we're going to take it a step further:   You're going to learn the 50 exact...

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