One of my core beliefs is this: the world will be a better place with more womxn’s voices. And I mean that in every single way. I want to see womxn running companies, and having successful careers. I want to read womxn’s writing, see womxn’s photography, buy products designed by womxn, and support womxn owned businesses. I want womxn to have more money and power, so we have more time and space to make and create and speak.
I believe this at such a profound foundational level, that it is the driving force behind my whole career. Every project that I do, or business that I run, is dedicated to womxn’s voices, and empowering diverse communities of womxn to really… make cool shit. Like, in the end, it’s that simple.
But over the years I’ve learned that there are fundamental building blocks standing in the way of making this happen. And pretty much all of them come back to the way womxn are trained to think, act, and behave by our culture. The way we’re taught to put ourselves last, not take up too much space, never brag, make everyone else around us happy, and focus on saving the world. That’s why I put together this Survival Guide for 2020.
In this season, I’ve been doing the best thing I think anyone can do in this world of “pivoting.” I’ve just started taking action. I didn’t know if they were the right actions. I didn’t know if they were actions that were going to lead me towards something I found useful or meaningful or lucrative. But I know that being paralyzed and doing nothing was going to get me exactly nowhere, so I just… started… doing… stuff.
You might remember that the very first thing I did, back in April, was re-launch my Squarespace website. I say “re-launch” but in the end, I just rebuilt the whole thing from scratch. I figured it would take me a day or two, but instead, I spent roughly two weeks devoted to it. (Two weeks where I kept worrying that I was being too slow and spending too much time on one project. Hint: I wasn’t, it was worth it.) But thank goodness it did. That two weeks let me spend the time sorting through all the work I’d done, thinking about what my career looked like, what I cared about, and how I wanted to present myself to the world.
Meg’s 2020 Career Advice & Roadmap
Which brings me to the start of my 2020 Advice plan. If the world has shifted under your feet professionally, or you just decide that you need more of a professional insurance policy right now (basically: all of us), start here:
Create Or Update Your Website
I’m just going to start with working through all your excuses with you for a second, because we’ve covered most of them in the past (and I’m constantly texting friends links to these articles, but since I don’t have your cell phone number, you’re going to have to settle for getting the links right here.) This is why you need a personal website. No, it’s not that hard to build one. Yes, Squarespace is easy and fast and beautiful, and you can build a stunning website really quickly with tons of customizations (including custom colors and fonts). Yes, you have to brag about yourself. And yes, you can do it in a weekend.
So now that we’re past all the excuses, let me talk to you a little about WHY you need a website of your own, and why it’s uncomfortable. Now, more than ever-ever, you need to control the face that you put out there in the world. You need to be proactive, and you need to let people know why they need you. Womxn are taught to not brag about themselves and not take up space, but you are a unique magical sparkly individual, and a website that says “don’t look here, this is just little old me” robs the world of your power. (And you, of money and jobs.)
Fake It Till You Make It
When I re-launch my Squarespace website, I just guessed at things I might want to do… and how much I should charge for them. I said I was offering group coaching and individual coaching, made up a price, and put it out there. I was fully aware that the way that you sell things is not just make up a price and put them on a website. (PSA: YOU CANNOT SELL THINGS BY JUST PUTTING A PRICE ON A WEBSITE, YOU ACTUALLY HAVE TO MARKET TO YOUR CUSTOMERS. #sorrynotsorry) But I did it anyway, because I wanted to look official while I figured out what I wanted to do.
I remember exactly where I was when it went live, because a long time friend texted me while I was waiting in the drive-through line at In-N-Out, and was like “this is beautiful, this is stunning, you are an inspiration, I can’t believe you pivoted so quickly, I’m going to have to hire you.” 2020 is short on high notes, but that was one, and I remember it vividly.
Just Try Things Out
Once that website was up, with a bunch of nice-looking ideas that didn’t have much behind them (yet) I decided to just start trying things. I took the leap with group coaching by asking six friends that I really trusted and admired (first among them the friend that texted me while I was in the drive-through line) and asked them if they would be willing to participate in a free three-month group coaching session with me. If I’m being honest, it was totally terrifying for me to email womxn I admired so much and ask them if they wanted to take advice from me. But I worked through the fear, set up the group… and three months later the group is almost over, and everyone has had huge breakthroughs (me, maybe most of all).
And then (the power of a website!) another friend hired me to do 1:1 coaching for cash money. That gave me the boost I needed, so I offered some free coaching to some other friends and folks on Instagram (once you have a website you’re legit, once you have a price sheet you have value, and can do trades). And suddenly I was in business. I mean no, I wasn’t pulling in millions of dollars. But I was doing the work and learning, and in 2020, that’s probably the most important thing.
Use What You Learn (And Update Your Website)
Suddenly I was a business coach. I mean, I’ve been unofficially coaching friends for more than a decade. There are people who launched successful businesses based on my advice dating back to 2009. But nothing is official until you have a website. So now, I was a real deal coach. I had clients, I was learning a ton from them, and I was figuring out what I liked doing and didn’t like doing. I was figuring what my clients needed and didn’t need.
In the end, I learned that I adored group coaching, business education, and business writing. And I figured out that while my clients needed access to hard business skills, the first thing they needed was tools to give themselves confidence, and permission to take up space in the world. So I used all this information to figure out what my next big project was going to be (yes, another pivot).
So, I re-built my website, to reflect that next big project. (But this time I’d already built the foundations, and it was really quick and easy to expand on them.)
Take On Your Next Big Project
So what is my next big project? Well for those of you who don’t know, it’s called Practical Business School. I’m thinking of it as a way for me to pass on all the knowledge I’ve learned over the years of running a successful business. Because I had to learn things by picking up scraps of information (think a throwaway line someone said at a conference), then researching it into the ground, and applying it to see if it worked. It was slow and laborious. And I’m frustrated that womxn don’t have access to power networks, or the ability to learn the skills small businesses need to survive… so I decided that I wanted to build that.
Our plan had been to launch Practical Business School in the fall, but we figured that over the summer we’d launch something small, bring in a small amount of cash to tide us over, and test out the waters. So we launched what we called Summer Session, which was low cost and easy to put out in the world (relatively speaking). It is a mix of accountability sessions and co-working sessions, designed to get womxn working through all of those blocks about taking up space and making money that I talked about way back at the beginning. We figured we’d do Summer Session for 10-20 people, see how it went, and plan for the fall.
My friends, that Summer Session now has 70+ people in it, and I just finished writing a 150-page book and workbook in one to go out to them. (I… can’t help myself, I don’t know what to say.)
And all of that happened because I took the leap in April and re-built my Squarespace personal portfolio website, even though I didn’t know what I wanted to do.
This is the motivational talk I give to everyone in my life. I give it in DM’s, in text, on phone calls, over drinks. I give it constantly, and then I follow up with links to every Squarespace post I’ve ever written. Then I tell them to build a Squarespace site, take my discount code (APW2020), and text me the site when they’re done. I tell them that when I see it, the site better make it clear how awesome they are, and tell me EXACTLY HOW I CAN HIRE THEM. Because nobody is gonna hire you if you don’t tell them how.
And again. I don’t have your cell phone number, so I can’t tell you that you have to text me a link to your site after you build it. But the comments here are open, and I can tell you that you should build it, and then drop that link here because the whole team and community want to see it (and hire you, too).
This post was sponsored by Squarespace. We are thrilled to be continuing our partnership with Squarespace talking about what it means to be a womxn with #goals in this modern world. Whether you’re stepping up in your career or striking out to do your own thing, one of the best things you can do for yourself is creating a place online where you can show off your work. It can be in the form of a portfolio site, an online resume, or another hub that displays just how awesome you are. Squarespace provides an all-in-one hub (including easy to use templates that you can customize to your heart’s content, custom domains, and 24-hour support) that makes it easy to build your online home beautifully. Never made a website before and have no idea where to start? Check out all of our content on Squarespace websites, we’ll help you out—plus, they have tons of helpful resources available (Like this great getting started guide). Click here to get your website started today with a free 14-day trial from Squarespace. APW readers get 10% off your first Squarespace purchase when you use the code APW2020 at checkout.