Our Newsletters Stopped & Our Business Grew. Here's Why.

 Last November, I took my annual break to enjoy a quiet, reflective holiday and yearly transition time. Usually, this break restores my energy and bounds me into January with overflowing enthusiasm. But this year I couldn’t get back into it and months went by. Here's why and what happened to our business.

If you’re new here, I’m Deana. I’m one half of Simple & Soulful Creative. My husband, Moses, is my full-time business partner. You’re reading this because you visited our website and downloaded one of our free gifts to help you improve your business and/or Squarespace website. When you joined our newsletter I promised to send weekly letters to inspire you into action and support you each week as you grow your business.

Unlike what I promised—you heard nothing from me.

There’s a reason for that. I’ll explain in a few seconds.

But first…

If you’re one of my old friends—HELLO! How have you been? I’ve missed you! Some of you reached out, wondering if something happened to me, hoping I was well. Today, I’m spilling the beans on why I’ve been absent.

Let’s recap:

Last November, I took my annual break to enjoy a quiet, reflective holiday and yearly transition time. Usually, this break restores my energy and bounds me into January with overflowing enthusiasm.

But this year wasn’t that.

  • My mom went into the hospital in January. She’s battling liver cancer. Things looked pretty bad. I set up camp at the hospital to be with her. I’m so relieved she pulled through. She’s a tough cookie.
     
  • Then a couple of our pets, Pickles and Piper, needed some pretty significant surgery.
     
  • And my teenagers struggled through some “as a parent I feel a little helpless” social situations at school.
     
  • My mom’s health has continued to be a day-by-day emotional and physical roller coaster mostly because it feels awful when someone you love is enduring something you really can't do anything to make better.
     
  • My beloved Aunt Phyllis passed away last week and we drove 2,000 miles to Chicago to be with family.

Personally, life has felt a little tough. I haven’t written because I needed to let some things fall away so I could take care of myself—and give all my remaining energy to my family and my awesome clients.

 I stopped writing my email newsletter for months due to family calamities. But I couldn't afford for sales to slow down. Here's how we kept everything growing when we went into ghost mode.
 

I’m sharing my story because we all struggle sometimes. And sometimes we have to remove things we “should be doing” from our list in order to preserve our sanity. As a small business owner, that can feel nearly impossible because typically, if we’re not working, doing all the things, we’re not getting paid.

Luckily, Moses and I have some systems in place with our little business that have enabled us to go into “ghost” mode and continue to grow.

Documented Processes

Right now I need to conserve as much creative energy as possible, so I can devote it to client work. Because we have documented processes, we don’t need to think about what needs to be done every day. Our processes—which nudge us along in ASANA—ensure that nothing falls through the cracks and we’re able to stay focused and on track with projects even when (especially when) life feels chaotic.

Structured Time Management

I have my work days planned out by half-hour increments. Each day includes big chunks of uninterrupted work time and little scheduled pockets of emotional and mental health breaks (yoga, meditation, a nice meal, or a quick hike). Last year I designed my own planner because—even though I’ve used some good ones over the years—none of them were set up the way I like my life to work. I use my planner to prioritize personal wellness along with productivity.

Flexibility

In case you haven’t put two and two together, I’m slightly type A. I have lists for my lists. My brain is a bullet train that strives for efficiency. And yet, I give myself permission to slow down when I need to. This isn’t easy my friends, but I do it. When it was necessary to work through an entire weekend a few weeks ago to get a client launched in time for his radio interview, I gave myself permission to sleep a little later and hike a little longer a few days during the week. Without that flexibility, I would’ve gotten physically and emotionally brittle.

Ten-Minute Tidy

My life feels more doable (even when it’s a bit of a shit-show) when my space is neat and simple. As a working mom with a home office, over the years, I’ve evolved from being the one who shouldered the brunt of the housework (and resented the hell out of it)—into the mom who leads everybody to row in the same direction along with me. For example, I don’t do the family’s laundry anymore. Years ago, I taught my kids how to wash, dry, fold, and hang up their own clothes. They also got their own set of towels and wash cloths (which solved the problem of my kids using a towel once and then throwing it down the laundry shoot). Everyone has their own laundry basket in their bedroom. I do my own little load of laundry once a week (as opposed to the MOUNTAINS of laundry I used to devote hours to on the weekends back in the day). In the evenings, we all pitch in and do a 10-minute tidy after dinner. We pick up the house together in the span of ten minutes. Done. While this isn’t a business tip per say, I can tell you it DOES help my business because I feel more creative and calm when my space is lovely.

SEO

I speak with new people almost every day (great SEO makes it possible;) and I can’t tell you how often I hear some version of “SEO is secondary to us. We’re a boutique service that is all about referrals.” And I just smile and think “Been there, done that…and holy crap it sucked!”

When our business’ only marketing strategy was referrals and a wing and a prayer—we endured many stressful cycles of feast or famine. Once we got strategic about SEO, our weekly inquiry rate started to feel abundantly automatic. We haven’t paid a dime for CPC ads and we’re organically on page one of Google for a few targeted keywords. And you know what? It wasn’t all that hard thanks to the simple SEO features built right into the Squarespace platform.

Great SEO for your website takes a thoughtful plan, consistency, and patience. It doesn’t need to be expensive or complicated. Do you know what being on page one of Google does for your business? It’s a game changer. Whatever you invest in your SEO strategy, if it’s done right it’ll create measurable results toward defined goals. It’ll pay for itself over and over. Solid SEO enables you to stop peddling so hard to maintain your business’ cashflow—and this is incredibly reassuring when you need to take a few things off your plate to navigate life’s personal complexities. Moses wrote a fantastic article about Squarespace and SEO right here if you’d like to learn more.

So…I’m back:) 

I’m sorry if I worried you. I deeply appreciate the support and kindness this little Simple & Soulful community has shown me over the past few months. Your thoughtful notes of care and encouragement mean more to me than I can express within the margins of this letter. Thank you!

Next week, I’m itching to dish about the writers’ block I struggled through up to the point of hitting SEND today. I know many of you have newsletter lists you’re ignoring. I understand the reasons why. I know the confusion of what to write about. The fear of being vulnerable in your imperfection. The faulty thinking of “does it really matter?” (Answer: if you’re building a business, tending to your email list is a necessary piece of your marketing puzzle. It absolutely matters). I’ll share the mental shifts I had to make to summon the courage and clarity to write to you today.

Until next Friday,
Warmly,
Deana


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About The Author:

As a former project manager for video game developers, Deana Ward is a Squarespace designer, professional copywriter, and business consultant who knows how to get things done with maximum ease. She's designed over a hundred Squarespace websites for clients all around the world and her Friday letters have been uplifting solo-entrepreneurs and small business owners since 2014. Get the Friday Letters →


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