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EPISODE 55: 1 Year Anniversary Episode!

by Oct 12, 2021Podcast

In this episode we will cover:

  • Lessons learned
  • Impactful episodes
  • State of the business

Cue the confetti and obnoxiously loud sound effects: We did it! We officially made it through a year of podcast episodes! This is definitely worth celebrating, considering we kicked around the idea of creating a podcast for years before we actually did it {thanks Brigid, you were right!}

That was one of our biggest lessons learned: You don’t have to have it all figured out, you just have to start. This imperfect action is what led us to find and serve the audience we most LOVE talking to…you! Our beloved writer community.  

 

In this episode, we reflect on: 

  • The biggest lessons we learned throughout the past year
  • The impactful episodes we recommend you definitely check out
  • The state of the North Star business today

This past year has been tough for everyone, and we’re no exception. There’s been things we’re really proud of, and things that were hard. This episode was an opportunity to acknowledge the difficulty, without letting it overshadow all the great stuff. 

For us, it’s been the year of boundaries and SOPs. We’ve created a robust library of internal training for our team. We’ve re-evaluated our own personal + professional boundaries. We’ve fine tuned our client interactions and communications. We’ve grown an incredible team of writers who have a passion for the craft and a knack for serving our amazing clients. {Remember to stay tuned for Madeline + Maggie’s takeover of the podcast!}

We’re most proud of the perseverance and optimism we’ve seen from our team, our clients, and our writer community. We continue having multiple six figure revenue years {after many, many years of not even coming close} and we attribute that success to our teamwho we trust wholeheartedly. Through letting go of the “I’ve got to do it all myself” mindset, we {Jessi + Marie here} were able to release control and empower our team to do everything we did, and they do it even better. Bold action for us was simply letting go. 

We believe we will continue attracting the same high quality, inspiring, and amazing clients we’ve been so privileged to work with. Thanks for hanging out with us nerdy folks on this podcast for the past year. We look forward to many more!

 

Impactful episode list:


Learn More:

TRANSCRIPT

Jessi:
Welcome to the Brand Your Voice Podcast, where we’re digging into how you can create personality-driven content that connects and converts. I’m Jessi…

Marie:
…and I’m Marie. We’re the co-founders of North Star Messaging + Strategy, where we support business owners in outsourcing content without sacrificing authenticity.

Jessi:
Every brand has a unique voice that sets it apart. We're digging into how to capture the way your brand communicates from the words you use to the stories you tell. So you can create more compelling content that strategically helps you meet your business goals.

Marie:
And if you choose to outsource that content you'll be able to do so with confidence, knowing your brand voice is in good hands and you can reclaim your time. We're so glad you're here and hope you enjoy this episode.

Jessi:
Hello. Hello. Hello, and welcome to our one year anniversary episode.

Marie:
I need like noisemakers, except that might hurt your ears.

Jessi:
A little bit, maybe. So it has been a whole year since we first released the podcast. This is episode number 55, I think not 52 because we skipped a week and we released a bunch of episodes at once, but that's neither here nor there many years since we launched. And we're super excited for a lot of reasons, mostly because we're still here with you still releasing episodes every week. We wanted to take this episode to just kind of pull the curtain back and talk about how this past year has been, the state of our business, how things that we've learned can help you with your business and your career as a writer and all that good stuff. Only less organized than how I just said it.

Marie:,/b>
Yeah. I mean, our, we usually approach these episodes with some notes believe it or not. This time we have them, but they're very sparse because my-

Jessi:
Notes say, blargady blarg.

Marie:
They do, by the way that is spelled no, I'm kidding. It literally does say it. We just kind of wanted to, first of all, give some insight into our lessons learned from doing this for a year. And I think the first thing is just embracing imperfect action. Just start, you know, like we had been kicking around the idea of, of hosting a podcast for literally years, from parks and rec literally. Before we actually did it, we want to give a shout out to our wonderful CEOO, Brigid Ward for continuing to gently nudge us for us doing this. Thank you, Brigid. You always knew that we needed to do this and you were always right.
But also, you know, one of the things that happened over the course of this year is this podcast shifted a lot. We started off speaking to people who have traditionally been our clients who are CEOs who may be looking for content support. And at some point kind of earlyish on into this process, we actually started then talking to CEOs and writers like content creators. And then we just kind of like said goodbye CEOs without even really saying it. Although I do think there's still a lot that CEOs could get from these episodes. But really went full steam ahead into the writer audience, and that's where we're hanging out right now. That's what we're nurturing, that's who we're hanging out with and the Polaris writer lounge, which by the way, if you have not joined yet, it's a free slack community for writers at northstarmessaging.com/polaris, P O L A R I S. But you know what? That doesn't mean that we should have waited until we figured that out to start this process.

Jessi:
Yeah, I think in fact, if we had waited to figure it out, we'd still be waiting. Part of the process was creating the episodes that we created looking at, which episodes you all have downloaded and commented on and loved on and ask questions about. And also figuring out as we sat down to write are usually much more coherent notes, what we actually liked talking about and what we actually wanted to dig deep on. And I think part of that has been in the last few years, taking all of this work that we've done since the business started in 2010 and thinking about how we can align it with a few of the values that we really want to promote amongst the writer community. So we love our CEO's.
We love our clients. We love helping our clients capture their voice, outsource their content more effectively, get it off their plates so that they can get back to doing what they do best. And we also have this deep passion for making sure that the writers who are supporting CEO's and the writers who own their own businesses are able to do so sustainably. And that's always been a passion for us because we're writers who wanted to have a sustainable business of our own, but it's also something that we didn't really talk about a year ago, two years ago, three years ago, because we didn't really know how to broach that conversation. That's the sort of behind closed door conversation that Marie and I would have a lot, just the two of us and talk about like, man, I really hate how people view writers this way or how there are these stereotypes around the industry or how it seems like in every mastermind or community group, there's maybe one or two writers, but there's not really a lot of that sense of community happening amongst writers where they can kind of lift one another up. And so getting to articulate all of that, I don't think would have happened without these podcasts episodes, where we were talking about things that are very much in the writer realm and breaking it down so that we can share it with you all.

Marie:
Yeah, agreed. So I want to just point out a few episodes that are on my list. I have 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8 episodes. I want to draw your attention to high level. Incase you're wondering, like, what are some of those conversations that Jessi's talking about that have been really impactful in case you're new to us. And you can always check back into previous episodes. You can also check on previous show notes to go check those out. So a few that I just want to like really bring your attention to:
Episode 21: Knowing Your Worth as a Content Creator. Because I think so much of the time we struggle with that.
Episode 23: Develop a Repeatable System for Your Copywriting and Content Creation. This, I mean has really unlocked everything for us, a lot of growth for us. And so we're talking about the benefits of that and what that actually looks like.
Episode 24: Price Yourself for Success. This kind of goes into that knowing your worth, but more specifically around pricing, twenty-five create an unforgettable client journey. That way we can maintain relationships with those clients. We can really show them our value and give them a great experience because they deserve it.
Episode 27: Boundaries, Boundaries, Boundaries. This may be my personal favorite because it's something I've struggled with for so long and to now be in a place where I'm much more comfortable with it. I wouldn't say I've, I'm, you know, the pro, but I would say I feel a lot more comfortable with it. And I'm, it's a mark of my own growth that I was able to record that episode with you, Jessi. But that one's huge for writers.
So Episode 29: Fixing Feast or Famine Cycles. I think a lot of creatives run into these it's really tough. So we have a few solutions for how to extract yourself from that.
Episode 32: Handling Sales Calls as a Writer. Ooh, they don't do scary, actually. They're pretty fun. In fact, we're training one of our own team members, Maggie, who you're going to be hearing from on the podcast very soon on doing sales for us. And so it's been really cool to hear how she's like, wow, this isn't so scary actually. So we'll be talking about some of that stuff in that episode.
And then Episode 34: Giving and Receiving Content Feedback. I think if there's one part of our work as writers, where we can introduce significant bottlenecks, it's in the feedback and revision process. And so we give some tips in that episode on how to overcome some of that and how to set up those boundaries specifically around that to guide the process and make it a lot smoother.

Jessi:
And we'll make sure to link to each of those episodes in the show notes. If you want to go back and give any of them a listen. I'm really proud of some of the topics we were able to cover this past year. I think they're so important to talk about. And I mean, it's not like there's no writers talking about this. There are other podcasts around copywriting. There are other podcasts around building businesses. What I think might be lacking out there as more of a conversation that merges the two. There are a lot of conversations around like, okay, these are copywriting best practices. This is how you write better sales pages. This is how you write better hooks, whatever it may be. And then there are a lot of podcasts out there and just content in general, out there around, okay, this is how you build a better, more sustainable business.
And I really love being able to bridge the gap between those two things. And it's been a lot of fun to do that and to apply our own lessons, be reminded of the things that we've learned over the years and hold ourselves accountable to the same things that we're teaching, because we don't want to impart anything upon you that we wouldn't use ourselves. And so a lot of those, like the boundaries episode is a great example. You know, after that episode where we had to sit down and, you know, write our notes for the episode and be like, okay, what are we going to talk about around boundaries, It was an overtake to check ourselves and be like, are we actually doing these things that we're talking about? And for the most part yeah, we were. But there were a few areas where we're like, maybe we need to go check on that and see where those boundaries have slipped. So this has been a really cool opportunity for us to solidify our own business while also sharing with you what we've seen in the past that has worked.

Marie:
Yeah, for sure. So check those out. But speaking of our own business, we wanted to, for the sort of the third section of this episode, our loose notes, section one lessons learned section two stuff that we think you should check out, curated content, if you will, in this museum display. And then number three is sort of like what is the state of our business what's going on in our business? What are lessons learned in the last year? Not just in podcasting, but, as writers, as a team of writers that we can share with you all. And I think it's no secret that mid 2020 to mid 2021 has not been an easy time for any human being on planet earth. And we're no exception to that. Obviously we're really grateful for the privileges that we have, for the opportunities that we've had.
And it's still a bit hard and this is something that I learned from our mentor, who we worked with for a while as a life coach, Lisa Carpenter, who's a master code. She's pretty great. Check her out. Lisacarpenter.ca. And I remember there was a week, this was a few years ago. There was a week when Houston, which was the city where Jessi and I met was hit by hurricane Harvey and flooded significantly impacting a lot of our family and friends. My house was broken into that week, and lost, you know, stuff. And also just a sense of safety. I can't remember. I feel like there was something else terrible that happened that week, but, and I remember like I was on a call with her, maybe we were on the call together and I was just like, but I'm, you know, I'm really grateful that like this and that, and she's like, hold up, hold up. Like, sure. Yeah, you can be grateful for that stuff. But like also, are you hiding behind your gratitude to avoid feeling the difficult feelings? And that really, that lesson really stuck with me.
And so I think 2020 and 2021 and probably out well, okay, nevermind. I'm not going to even put that out possibly in four days and I'm sure there will be a difficult day in the future someday. You know, it's, acknowledging the difficulty of it and sitting with that and not allowing it to overshadow or be overshadowed by the great stuff. And there has been a lot of great stuff too. So I just kinda wanna like put that acknowledgement out there that like, we're going to be real. We're always be real with you. And you know, I think that's step one is just acknowledging that. Yeah. It's been hard.

Jessi:
Yeah. It's been a rough year. I think in, in multiple ways, you know, it's been a rough year to own a business. It's been a rough year for a lot of people, personally, ourselves included. You know, it's hard to try and hold everything together when it feels like there's always something new and catastrophic on the horizon. But as also, one of the things that I'm most proud of is the perseverance that not just we, but like business owners as a whole have shown, writers as a whole have shown. I look out at like our Instagram every day where, you know, we're following a ton of writers and content creators and see all of these people who are putting their work out to the world and really trusting that it's going to work out. And that's an amount of optimism that really helps me through the more difficult times to see yeah. You know, we're, we're still out there doing the thing and at the same time, not hustling until we collapsed, just because that's what we're supposed to do. And it's about that push and pull and making sure that we're acknowledging everything. So in regards to us this past year and the state of the business and whatnot, we do have some things to celebrate. You know, this has been our highest revenue year ever, for the third year running fourth year running something like that.

Marie:
We continue having multiple six-figure revenue years. Whereas for many, many, many years, it's like, we just hit a cap at like, what was it? It was you know, getting, getting to six figures, but not there yet- right when you split that between two people and all the, like, this is the stuff that a business has to spend money on to survive. Like, I mean, it was, not, not lucrative-

Jessi:
Not sustainable, no. And so, so we did build ourselves to a level of sustainability over the last four or five years or so. And that's really sort of ramped up in the last few years in large part due to two things I think, and you may be able to think of more things, Marie, but the two that comes top of mind for me is one, Clockwork, which we've mentioned on probably every episode.

Marie:
Like you're obsessed.

Jessi:
Yeah. Because it works. We're obsessed because it works for access because it helped us change our mindset around how we talk about and plan for our business. So if you're tuning in for the first time ever, and this is the first time you've heard us talk about Clockwork in the very most basic terms is it's a system that allowed us to step out of doing everything in our business. And so that kind of leads me to the second part of what I kind of attribute our success to, which is our team. Being able to hire a team, being able to train a team in our processes, which we've talked about in the past was something that we didn't think we could do because we were like, it's all intuitive. It's all in our head. And we just magically do it. Not true, but listen to the episode about how you're not a magical writing unicorn, we weren't either.
But we were able to figure that out by hiring a team, an incredible team we trust and getting them to the point where they could do pretty much everything we did and often better than how we did it. And Marie already mentioned, you're going to be hearing from Maggie and Madeline, two of our writers in upcoming episodes. They're going to be doing a takeover of the podcast because they're brilliant. And they have a whole new perspective around being writers and writing for CEOs to offer. And we want you to hear what they have to say about it and not just listen to us yammer every single episode.

Marie:
Yeah. Cause I mean, Lord knows that's gotta be tiring for you. I'm shocked if you're still with us. Yeah, definitely by the way, that magical writing unicorn episode, we will also put in the show notes that is, I just had it. Episode 46. Yeah. I think the only other thing I would add because Clockwork and the team, we would not be able to implement Clockwork and we would not be able to empower our team without our own mindset shifts, basically being like letting go of that myth of being magical writing unicorns. But more than that, letting go of the myth of just like, oh, I've got to do it all. And so I think honestly, a lot of we've had a lot of personal growth in the last many years, but it's continued every year. We continue to lean into trust that the business will do well and provide jobs for us and our team. We continue to trust that we will continue getting the same high quality, amazing, amazing clients that we are just so privileged to work with. I mean, I've met some of my favorite people on this planet by working for, like on behalf of them essentially through this company. It's, I feel really lucky cause you know, we've also had like desk jobs and like things where you kinda get barked at what to do. And so it's really nice, you know, to be able to set our own boundaries and to be able to set our own intentions and actually see them come to life. But that does require a whole lot of growth, it relies on trust a lot and, you know, communicating your intention, you know, you can say all day long, all right.
Here's, what's on my dream board or whatever, and that's great because it can help you stay organized and focused eyes on the prize. But if you're not communicating that, you know that no one else is gonna hear it necessarily, there may be some very woo life coach out there who's going to disagree with me. \But that's just sort of what we've experienced as like you've, you've got to take the action too, and that takes, you know, boldness essentially. So I think, yeah, like part of a bold action for us has been letting go of a lot of things. And just trusting that, like when things are tight financially, we've never not survived. We will always survive. Right. We'll always, we'll always know, find more clients coming in the door. In fact, just the other day, there was a day where we were like, oh no, oh no. And then I, and then I was like, yeah, but literally every time we go, oh no, the next day something amazing happens. And the next day something is easy. So just like trusting that will continue to happen. And we don't even have to wait for the oh no moments in fact, and amazing things can happen every day in this company. Yeah.

Jessi:
I think the oh no moments are more of a habit than anything. And it's all training ourselves out of, uh, you know, years later because we've had so many of them, especially in the early days of our business or when there's been a substantial shift in how our business functions, because when you make a big shift, that means that everything gets sort of jumbled up and you have to kind of reorient yourself and trust all over again. And so those are some of the things that have been hard. Some of the mindset shifts, some of the mindset reminders, things where it's like, oh, I worked on this four years ago, so I should be over it. Right. No, it's going to come back up again and be like, Hey, remember that thing that stressed you out four years ago, let's see how much you actually grew from it. Let's see how much that mindset work has actually like stuck with you and changed and how the circumstances change.
I feel like I'm being really vague here, but I think the reason I'm being vague is because this applies to so many different situations, you know, Marie mentioned cashflow, but it's not just cashflow, it's even things like starting this podcast. You know, it was a kind of leap of faith that starting this would reach anyone because we didn't have any sort of evidence to back that up. We had never done a podcast before we've done other things like videos and trainings and workshops and Facebook groups and things like that, but this was a totally new format for us. And so we had to trust that Brigid was right and we would be fine. We'd do it and we'd enjoy it. And it would be great. And guess what? It's true. It was fine. Brigid was right. She usually is. We should listen to her more often.

Marie:
Yeah. She's a fountain of wisdom. I hope you hear this episode Brigid. Yeah, for sure. So I guess, in terms of any specifics in terms of like, you know, state of the business type things to call forth, I would say one of the major things that I'm really proud of that we've done in the year that we started this podcast is we've created a very robust library of internal trainings for our team. In terms of, you know, all the things you got to know, to, to be able to be really effective as a writer.

Jessi:
Yeah.

Marie:
For the type of clients that we have, which are basically for the most part online service-based businesses. We really believe in hiring writers who are a great fit for the company who love writing. They're passionate about it. They're up for the challenge of like having maybe several different clients that they're working with who are like have completely different voices and businesses. We're not necessarily looking for somebody who is like, well, I've got experience in this industry and, um, you know, like it's all that's teachable, right? It's more about like the openness and just sort of the, the raw skill for us.
And so then we realized like that's great. And also that probably means that like the onus is on us to make sure that they have the resources that they need to be successful. And so, you know, I feel maybe a little guilty about throwing our first hires just into the cauldron deep end of the pool. But these days, you know, we do have hours really, I think of training. And everyone on the team has reported that that's been really supportive for them and helpful. We've also started doing things like recording strategy calls with our clients, recording sales calls.
Like it's amazing how useful it is, for a writer to be able to hear the sales call so that they can know something about this client before they go into a relationship with them serving their client, their content needs. And also like strategy calls. Like that's great to have that as like a historic thing. Cause yeah, we've certainly had clients who like worked with us in 2017 and then come back in 2020 or like whatever, you know, there's a long gap, so it's nice to have a refresh, but it's also a nice training ground, right. To say like, okay, and here's some strategy calls that have gone really well. And if you want to learn how to conduct a strategy call, you know, here's some resources, including recordings of ones that have been really effective and, kind of like a model call. So, yeah, we've done a lot more work I'd say just to provide training for our team.

Jessi:
Yeah. And templates. I'm really proud of all the templates that we've created based off of, you know, best practices for copywriting and also our own North Star spin on it. That really follows our process. And so if you're listening to this and you're like, well, this is all great Jessi and Marie, but-

Marie:
Yah good for you. Clap, clap.

Jessi:
Yah good for you. But I don't have a team. I'm not, I'm a solopreneur, I'm a copywriter or a content creator. Who's just going out there doing the thing. This can still be useful for you documenting your processes, creating templates so that you don't have to start from a blank screen screen every single time, how much energy will that save you over the long-term? Which means as a result, you can get through projects more quickly, which means you can increase your capacity or just take that time back for yourself. And so this is like really kind of universally beneficial I feel, and we've seen the results with our team. You know, their productivity has improved as they're using our templates and our trainings and the quality has gone up. Or, you know, are brilliant writers, you know, gone up or stayed consistently amazing. But they have the resources now where they don't have to feel like they're reinventing the wheel every single time. And so I'm really proud of us sitting down and just taking that stuff out of our head and putting it into a million different Google docs that can serve our writers.

Marie:
I'm actually going to give a little shout out to Membervault by her friends, Mike and Erin Kelly, because that's also been really helpful for us to organize all of those training materials. We provide courses and templates and all sorts of goodies on member vault for y'all for our clients. But then there's like a little secret area that's just for our team keeps things organized. So if you have something like that, like Membervault, like teach a bull, I don't know what they're called anyway, whatever the other, the other places where you host content like Teachable, Kajabi, whatever, like don't dismiss the idea that like you could create something internal for yourself and bonus points. If you ever do decide to expand to have a team, or if you do already have a team, like they can access it too. And it's nice. Cause you can actually see the progress. We're all about systems and organization here because as you grow, we've discovered, um, so does the mess, unless you have a plan to contain it.

Jessi:
So true. I feel like we're kind of bouncing between like thing we're really proud of and thing that was hard. And so that's the thing we're really proud of. So I think that was hard. That kind of goes hand in hand with the mess that you were just talking about though, is we grew our team pretty rapidly in the last three-ish years. And with that comes, making sure that the company culture is what makes sense for North Star, what we want it to be for north or what we envision it. And also just managing all those interpersonal relationships. When it was just me and Marie, it was very much like, okay, well, you know, we're on the same page about everything. We already have a friends first policy, which I don't think we've talked about a ton on this podcast, but probably should at some point. But basically our friendship comes before business. So as long as our friendship is strong, we have faith that our business is going to be strong, but that equation changes when you do start building out a team when you do start adding new players to the game.
And so that was one of the things that was difficult was just learning how to navigate that. And when things popped up as they inevitably do, because we're all humans figuring out how to handle that with grace. And I think we did that some of the time. And I think we maybe stumbled a little some of the time, but then learned from it and did better the next time.

Marie:
Yeah, for sure. Especially because even though, you know, we have had financial growth, a lot of that is really just been to pay our team, right? Like our payroll is by far our largest expense, at this point, which I think is great because it means that you're paying, we're doing what we said we wanted to do. Right. Which is pay writers well for their, for their skilled labor. And that has also meant that there hadn't been like a line item for things like HR. And so a lot of that, I think basically everything we've had to navigate just with ourselves and are doing our best. And yeah, it's definitely been a challenge. It definitely has. That's certainly something we want to do invest in, is some kind of HR support or like mediation support essentially for our team. Um, but you know, in the meantime that's, that's been something that, you know, if nothing else I'm just, I'm proud that we have made it to this point. We have fairly high team retention. There's some people who've been with us a really long time who are pretty amazing and I think I'll like legit cry if they leave.
And, you know, and I think the other part of that going back to mindset is like trying to figure out cause like I've never really managed people before this, not that our team needs managing, like they're, they're pretty self-sufficient, but like, you know, it's being in that like, I guess, position where you're, you have to make decisions that impact other people.
I guess it's just, it, I'm proud of the fact that like I'm learning, I'm still learning, I'm open to learning. And you know, I'm willing to look at, at my flaws for sure.

Jessi:
I think to correlate this for the solopreneurs out there. This also holds true for the relationships you have with your clients. As your client list grows and shifts and changes, which may happen frequently or infrequently based on what your retention rate is or the types of projects you have. If you do a bunch of one-offs, you're going to have more client churn than if you do a lot of retainers, the dynamic of those relationships is going to change and shift. And I think each new client relationship is a new opportunity for growth and for challenges to pop up that, you know, you need to navigate and hopefully navigate successfully. But like I said, we're all human. Sometimes we stumble. And so I think as writers, there's a stereotype of writers being like the person in the dark room, like in the corner with their laptop, pounding things, kind of socially awkward, not really like getting out there and communicating, but I also feel like writers in a lot of ways are the best communicators. We just often tend to do it via the written word then vocally with that, like more off the cuff. And I think that writer entrepreneurs are uniquely situated to strengthen all forms of communication and to create some of those, some of the most impactful relationships that a business owner will ever have with a team member. Because as a content creator, you are holding so much of a business and putting it into words that you can't help, but to create a special bond with the person who you're representing.

Marie:
A client this morning told me she loved me. And I'm like, I love you too. Like we're, we've been friends a long time and it's just, it's only been- Like, it's not like we knew each other outside of this. Like literally it's only been a relationship of like client and writer. And we've grown with each other and it's been really special and I, and I'm that relationship continues to evolve. And the communication with her, but with any of our clients has been crucial through all that process. It's not easy, you know, it's not easy, especially if you're like default to people pleasing like me.

Jessi:
Boundaries episode.

Marie:
Yeah, yeah, for sure. The other thing I would say that's been helpful and I think this is a good takeaway maybe for any writer who's listening to this as one of the training documents, but also kind of like a SOP, I guess, that we've created this year, that I think is really helpful for every single person on the team and would be really helpful for an individual freelancer as well. Is a document we're calling it our red light, yellow light, green light document. So think of like a traffic sign, right. Or a traffic light. If there's a red light, you stop, right? So these are things that you observe in a prospective client or a client that you're like, if you do this, no, like we can't work together anymore. It's a stop. If then there's the yellow, which is like slow down, right. And so those are things where it's like, I mean, I'm not like slamming on the brake here, but like, you know, I'm kind of just cautious. I'm taking a look. This is not because this person is evil. Right. It could be, for instance, like we tend to work with service-based businesses, maybe they're product based, but it's kind of like, well, I don't know if we're the best fit, right. Or like Jessi was saying about communication for us. You know, we, we do love to communicate by writing obviously. One of our boundaries is we don't give out our team's personal cell phone numbers to our clients, if a client is like, but I really like, that's easiest for me. It's like, great. But like that was against our policies. We're not going to violate our team's- We see it as a violation of our team's privacy and autonomy. Other people may not see it that way. No problem. Like no problem. But for us, that's just like a slowdown, not sure.
And then Greenlight is stuff that's like, oh, I just love you, I want to clone you. Like, I just, you're, you're just a wonderful, like I wanna work with you forever. Right. And so those are, that's been a really helpful document for us to create. It's useful for us during sales calls, it's useful for us to hand to our team so that they can add to it as boundaries get crossed, or they noticed other things that like really indicate someone's an amazing fit for us. Like we could keep adding to it. Um, and it helps us know like, are we going to offer somebody the opportunity to renew a contract with us and continue working with us or not? Um, do we need to have maybe a difficult conversation with them about something? Do we need to just thank them for being amazing because we want to keep them with us forever. You know? So I'd say if you don't have a document like that, if it's all up in your head, I would say put it in a document because in the moment it's especially like if finances are tight, it is so easy to justify somebody trampling your boundaries and this document can help you stay in check with yourself. Because every single time I have said yes to a client where I'm seeing red flags, I have regretted it. And I'm like, why did I do this? Like we could have used this time with somebody who isn't going to trample on our boundaries.

Jessi:
Yeah. I would say that this past year, since we're talking kind of specifically about this past year, has been a year of boundaries and SOPs. It's been a year-

Marie:
Pulling all the little things out of our head and putting them down on paper.

Jessi:
Yes. It's collecting every little piece of running a business and making sure that it is documented that it is, uh, in a place that's accessible and making sure that we are not the holders of all knowledge. And even if you are a solopreneur, this is important because you're in, you're not invaluable. Your brain is going to be in a different place from day one to date to, if you go to start a project, or if you go to have a conversation with a client and you're super burnt out and exhausted, you may not be in the mental place to uphold your boundaries in the same way that you would be if you had a literal documents saying, this is how you uphold your boundaries. So, you know, help future you out by creating, all of these things, you don't have to just sit down and do them all at once.
But like, as you're doing things-

Marie:
Yah don't.

Jessi:
Don't do that. That sounds exhausting. But I think, you know, when talking about things that we're really proud of and challenges like the challenges have led to us creating the things we're proud of in this past year, you know, you can't take the two apart. They, and I think this is true of any time in our business where we've been faced a challenge.
You know, right after COVID first hit, we were suddenly faced with a 70% loss of revenue. And that was terrifying. And I mean, also it felt like the world was ending. And so like, it was terrifying on a professional level, but it was also terrifying on a personal level. And like, I mean, you all were there, no one knew what was going to happen next. And I think that we like looking at like that challenge looking back at it now and then looking at, okay, well, here's how we got through that. And then documenting it, here are the systems we put in place to get through. That means that if God forbid something like that should happen again, we already have the strategies in place and the team to support us in employing those strategies. And so whether you have a team or not, don't trust, future you to remember what current present you or past you was thinking at the time. Document everything and keep it somewhere where you can find it easily. So it will, it will be so helpful in the future.

Marie:
Yeah, absolutely. Absolutely. So I think that's probably good on our sort of one year recap. If you want to chat about some of this stuff, please feel free to come join us in the Polaris Writer lounge. Again, it's a free community. It's on slack. It's full of other writers. It's full of our team members. As well as freelancers, you know, agency owners or invite like whoever you are, if you are a writer, you're welcome in this community. It is a safe place for us to chat about running a business as a writer. You can check it out at northstarmessaging.com/polaris, P O L A R I S named after the north star. And, yeah, we'll be thrilled to have you, we have weekly discussions in there, based on topics, just like all of this stuff.
We're not here to teach you how to write a sales page, you know, I mean, sure. If we want to talk about that, cool. We can talk about that. We're here really mostly to talk through the business side of being a writer, what all that means, how we can support each other, networking with each other referrals to each other. I am a big believer in there's there's really no need for competition. We all bring something special to the table. And so sometimes a client who is not a good fit for us, maybe an amazing fit for you. And so that's a really great thing about this community too, is it can allow you to form those relationships with people who can, you know, really support you and you can support in return.

Jessi:
Yeah. And stay tuned because this episode talked a lot about this past year. And one, the incredible things that came out of this year is really hitting our stride and deciding to focus on having these conversations with other writers. And so as we move forward into the next year, we're going to be diving even deeper into that. We're going to continue to talking to you all. We're going to continue, uh, pulling the curtain back on how we've seen success as writers who run businesses and also hopefully introducing a few new tools and resources for you as the year goes on. So stay tuned!

Marie:
Yeah, for sure. And also be sure to check out the next couple of episodes, because that's where we're introducing Maggie and then Madeline, who are going to be doing the takeover for the next few weeks of the podcast.
They are in the weeds with our clients. And so they're going to have a lot of wisdom for you around what it's like, what they've learned, how to support you, right. With what they do day to day. They are not only writers within North Star and editors, but they're also a position called writer mentor. And so they're actually in a position where they mentor our writers. So I know that they're going to have some great thoughts for you and some wisdom. So please stay tuned even in the short term, just to hear from Maggie and Madeline as they do their takeover of the podcast.
But thanks for hanging out with us nerdy folks for the last year on this podcast, and really look forward to many more with you.

Marie:
Thanks for joining us for this episode of the Brand Your Voice Podcast. Make sure to visit our website, northstarmessaging.com, where you can subscribe to the show on iTunes, Spotify, and more.

Jessi:
If you found value in this episode, we'd love for you to leave us a review on iTunes and share it with your friends. Thank you, and happy content creating.

For additional content strategy and branding tips, check out northstarmessaging.com/blog. Also, please tag us on Instagram and let us know you’re out there! @northstarmessaging 


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