>>Blog Out Loud Interview
Michelle Ward of When I Grow Up

This week's Blog Out Loud interview is with Michelle Ward, owner of When I Grow Up. Michelle is a creative career coach, encouraging people to live their best lives now. I came across Michelle's site and blog and was inspired by what she had to say and how she used her blog to be herself yet enhance her unique business.

You are a creative coach and own, When I Grow Up, a resource for people looking for life improvement and inspiration. Your website is full of great information and you also have a blog to share a more personal side. How do you integrate the two?

This question is really making me think, because I don't think I integrate them very well at all, actually! My website was the very first piece that I put out into the world as When I Grow Up, & I feel like the copy is dated & that there isn't room to grow (if that makes sense). Conversely, the blog is fully me - my enthusiasm, my sense of humor, my personality & quirks. It's also where I post any news I have or things that I've got going on, like the recording of an interview I've done or the opportunity to join my group coaching session (I have 3 spots left for
Operation: New Life Design!). I don't have any of that info on my website (slaps own wrist)! So, while my website houses some FAQs, a longer bio, & the services that I offer, my blog is "where it's at." I am planning a website redesign, including a fresh blog & mostly new copy, that I hope to have launched by Jan 1, 2010! I really want my whole site to reflect me - my personality, my news, my offerings, et cetera - & to have my blog be, really, the focal point of it!

How do you market your company via your blog while keeping it real and authentic? And have you had any clients find you through your blog?

I think balance is key. It's a total turn-off to see, "Need a coach/dog walker/popsicle maker? Call me for a free consultation!" at the end of every post. It makes it seem like they're there to sell me something, & I immediately grow suspicious. Not to say you should never self-promote on your blog (because I know I do!), but I do think that the focus is on offering something & making connections. Before I post, I ask myself if whatever I'm writing/promoting would be something my readers would be happy to see when they come on over to my house ("my house" being "my blog". I really think of it as my home!). I also question whether this is how I want to present myself to people I've never met, who I know will judge me in some way based on my blog. But honestly, the biggest lesson I learned from being an actor is that being you - being authentic, being vulnerable & putting yourself out there sans mask - is the way to connect to people & "sell". Even if you have the same product as someone else, they're not you - so it's
not the same. I know that there are other career coaches out there that cater to creatives, but only I am me. Thankfully, I trust the fact that being me, and presenting me as me, will attract the type of clients that I work well with. For me. Are you with me? Honestly, I don't think that my blog has even been listed as the reason someone decided to work with me - usually they find me through twitter or a recommendation or something like that - but I do give it credit for providing me the opportunity to present my personality, my way of coaching, & my attitude in a way that my website, or even meeting someone in person, can't. I guarantee you that I have my blog to thank for people being comfortable with me & trusting me enough to invest in themselves by hiring me. It also makes me feel at ease because perspective clients can go to my blog & know what they're gonna get in our sessions. I don't feel like I have to put on a front with my clients because of that.

As a creative coach, you focus on the present and how to move forward in the future. We feel the same way about blogging, an opportunity to tune into "now". What are your thoughts on this idea? Do you encourage clients to start blogging as they take on new business ventures?

Yes, blogging is such a way to tune into "now"! It's such a great tool for a coach, because we don't need a back story to jump in & dissect & focus & plan & question. If we did, I think blogging would be really tough. I mean, take my weekly series,
Tough (Question) Tuesday. It's really just a few sentences of an intro and then a question, with people answering in the comments. If that's not focusing on the present & looking to the future, I don't know what is! It would be tough to do that on any other platform really, especially if you have more than 140 characters to use! And yes, if my clients expresses that they wanna jump in to the blogosphere, I have 'em get their feet wet! As a coach, though, I'm not here to give anyone advice, so if a client comes to me and says, "I want to start this new business, and I know blogging might be a good tool but I hate writing so much!," I would certainly not force their hand. Instead, we'd brainstorm as to what other low-cost/free advertising platforms are available that appeal to them, & how else they can start establishing themselves as an expert. But yes, if blogging interests them & they want to start but might not see what they can write about, or if they feel that have nothing worthwhile to say, then we certainly talk through those things. I'm really big on taking baby steps, so it's about having my client figure out what's comfortable for them. I have 2 clients I can think of off the top of my head that want to blog, but "aren't ready yet" for various reasons. One of them is doing research to have some ideas for her first few posts, & the other is just reading other blogs in her genre to get a feel for what's out there. Blogging ain't disappearing anytime soon, so there's no rush!

Thanks, Michelle! Click here to check out When I Grow Up and meet Michelle.

And click here to enjoy some more Blog Out Loud interviews for some serious inspiration.
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Michelle | When I Grow Up Coach said...

I loved your questions & am so glad that I found your blog. Thanks so much for this feature, Rebecca!

Cassandra Rae {Simply Fearless} said...

This is a fabulous interview for solopreneurs looking to start blogging. How awesome is that? I heart Michelle and I hope she never grows up :~)

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