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Holistic branding and marketing posts by Diana Chaplin.

 

Coursemania: A Brief History of Online Courses + How to Stand Out

Diana Chaplin

Have you noticed how online courses have become a commonplace phenomenon on the web? How practically everyone is stepping into a position of expertise on something? How information is being packaged in a way that makes experience and knowledge a widely-available and marketable commodity?

It’s a fascinating emergence from the evolving nexus of technology, entrepreneurship, and the demand (dare I say, hunger?) for learning.

Let’s unpack what’s really happening here - and why - in an effort to understand how we got here. Then we can follow the path to leveraging this information for the sake of benefitting both you as a business owner, and your audience as the people you hope to impact in a positive way through this delivery method – without getting lost in the shuffle.

The idea of virtual learning may appear on the surface as a fairly recent thing, after all it’s only within about the last 20 years that the internet really entered our everyday lives on a mass scale, but you’d have to go back, waaaay back to the real beginning.

We’ve been interested in a virtual model of communication that goes far beyond the physical classroom for centuries now. Long before the internet was even a glimmer in the minds of some of the scientists and engineers whose combined efforts came to the infancy of what is now a digital behemoth, humanity has had a timeless desire to learn, to develop our understanding of the world, and to infinitely expand our minds.

Over time we created the technology to satisfy this need, but the need itself is not a consequence of the technology. It is a primal aspect of the incredible and mysterious evolutionary unfolding that makes us human.

It’s the same impulse that caused the first human migration out of Africa, learning to make tools and creating written languages, expressing ourselves through art and music, exploring the invisible compositions of the environment and the workings of our own bodies, and following so many other curiosities in an effort to understand the extraordinary nature of reality.

Yes, I’m bridging the development of online courses to the highlights of human evolution. Bear with me here.

The idea of actively learning from teachers is timeless. But while this started on a small scale (one person in the village learning something and sharing that skill with a few other people, who then shared with a few more people, etc.) and grew to become more institutionalized over time (one person undergoes specialized training to maximize their knowledge over a certain subject, in order to then teach that to large groups of students as a life-long profession) what we are seeing NOW is sort of coming full circle.

We have grown weary with traditional education, with its structures, rules, and limitations (oh, and high cost). It’s just not enough anymore. The world is changing too fast and we have developed a taste for a far wider network of inspiration and information than ever before. We want to learn what we want to learn, when we want to learn it, through a media that is convenient and easily accessible.

How we qualify teachers has also expanded beyond the need for certain qualifications into the broader realm of experience-based wisdom.

Our unprecedented access to infinite amounts of knowledge has brought us back to learning desired or practical skills directly from each other. 

While it certainly helps to have credentials or experience to show that someone is qualified to teach something, that proof of expertise can be presented in a myriad of ways that leaves it up directly to the consumer/student to decide whether that course provider is going to give sufficient value or not. It’s all completely open to interpretation, packaging, and the individual belief of perceived quality.

This unraveling in our understanding of education has paved the way for open-sourced learning, and teaching.

Beyond that, the main reason online courses are becoming so popular boils down to two words: PASSIVE INCOME. Once you invest the energy, time, and money into launching your primary online course, much of the work becomes automated, allowing you the freedom to focus on other things while continuing to generate income as people sign up for your course – sometimes while you sleep! Of course you still need to devote time to marketing, communication, and other things, but you can also experience a much more expanded business and life.

Savvy entrepreneurs and developers in the tech industry recognized this paradigm shift and further accelerated the momentum by creating platforms and digital infrastructure – not to mention integrating the facets for essential marketing and commerce - to facilitate online learning in a streamlined way that is user-friendly for both provider and consumers.   

That brings us here and now.

The great news is that it’s easier than ever to create, launch, and earn a substantial passive income from online courses.

The not-so-great news is that because it’s so easy and “trendy” there are many people doing this, so if you really want to succeed you’ve got to make sure to do it right.

What does that mean?  

1.   Know what you’re talking about!

If you have some knowledge in something but aren’t genuinely an expert, don’t do an online course yet. This doesn’t mean you can’t still have a successful online business, but it’s more effective to focus on building your audience and sharing your topic in other, more easily consumable ways (such as via a blog, ebooks or mini-guides, group discussions, etc.) while you are still learning yourself. Do this for a few years while you gain expertise and you’ll be in a stronger position to launch a course that is truly valuable and already has a built in audience ready to buy.

2.   Provide genuine value.

The decision to launch an online course shouldn’t ever come from the mere desire to make money. That sort of motivation results in a low-value course where people don’t really walk away having learned much and therefore won’t be motivated to sing your praises, ultimately leading your course to flop. Make sure your course is chock full of juicy wisdom shared in an actionable way so that your customers can quickly implement it in their lives and experience real positive results. This is the part that trips up entrepreneurs the most because it’s not just about sharing a message, it’s about elevating, organizing, and communicating a highly refined and unique message in meaty yet bite-sized pieces that leave your audience transformed at the core level. Not an easy task!

3.   Invest in a quality delivery method.

While I don’t recommend getting caught up in perfectionism, if you really want a successful course it should be presented in a clear and organized fashion, with good design aesthetic, and delightful presentation so that the actual process of consuming your information is enjoyable and free from confusion. You can easily research “online course platform” to see if something already exists that you like (in fact, here’s a great resource for product comparison), or find a developer to help you integrate something structured into your website that walks buyers through the process of learning. Use images and design that looks neat and fresh to evoke a feeling of getting something thoughtful and special.

4.   Get the timing right.

As mentioned above, having an audience of existing fans is crucial for launching your course with enthusiasm and positive response. If you’re new to your field and haven’t done much in the way of content-creation or marketing when you launch your course then you’ll be disappointed because there are just not that many people who know that you and your course exist. Time your course in a way that rides momentum with your other offerings, that takes into account the seasonal time of year, cultural trends, or something else that energetically jives with your course in a natural flow of what people are looking for.

5.   Inspire and elevate your audience.

Whatever your course is about, remember that timeless motivation for learning we all share. As humans we seek to reach our highest potential, follow curiosities, and acquire knowledge that will somehow result in happiness in one form or another. Ask yourself how your content can inspire greatness, connect your audience to something powerful, or light them up from the inside out. If you can leave them feeling good in addition to learning new skills or gaining some form of self-awareness then your course will truly stand out as special.

Regarding the topic, make sure…

  • It’s a topic people really want

  • It’s a topic that hasn’t already been heavily covered by others, or if it has, then make sure your approach is different

  • It’s a topic you are uniquely qualified to lead

The biggest mistake I’ve seen is with entrepreneurs who want to go from a small and inconsistent blog to a successful online course in a week. It might be technically possible to launch it, but it's unrealistic to expect huge success overnight. To really make it fly you'll need some deep thoughtfulness, attention to detail, a long-term strategy for growth, consistent content, audience engagement, authentic communication, savvy marketing, and a sense of style.

It all starts with the commitment to creating something spectacular.

If you need help with all of that, get in touch, we’ll make course magic together. 

Personal Thoughts: Motherhood, Honesty, and The World

Diana Chaplin

This post is not about professional content, branding, or marketing. But it is about communication, in a deeply personal way. 

Sparked by a recent tragedy, here is a brief story of how I approach motherhood, honesty, and a sometimes incomprehensible world. 

Elliot (my almost 6-year-old son) and I were driving home from a town fair when I turned on the radio and first heard the news. He heard me gasp and asked what was wrong. In that moment I could have turned it off and said “nothing.” Instead, I turned it up and we listened to some of the reporting together, then I explained what had happened.

I didn’t think through all this consciously but in the back of my my mind were questions about whether he is too young to hear such things, whether he’ll get scared and traumatized emotionally, but instinct told me to brush those thoughts aside and I chose to just be honest. He should know that the world is complicated, that unthinkable things happen, and that dying is not a game… right? Most importantly, I think I wanted him to understand that even if something doesn’t happen to us directly, it is still important, it affects us, because other people are basically our extended family and we are all connected.

I don’t remember if it was me that said it or the reporter on the radio but Elliot picked up on the words “hate crime” and asked what that was.

His sweet and innocent voice asking such a loaded question nearly broke my heart.

I answered that some people don’t know that we are all the same inside, that people do bad things out of fear, hatred, confusion, and most often from a lack of love. We talked about how people are different and that’s what makes us all so wonderful and interesting, and that we must all love each other, all creatures and living beings, and the planet, in order to create a better world, a happier world, because this is the challenge we are faced with and love is the seed of change that we need. He said yeah, I love everyone, then he grew quiet and looked out the window thoughtfully.

The conversation was complete. His questions were answered. He wasn’t traumatized.

This wasn't the first time. We actually have talks like this fairly regularly, basically since he started to speak. We’ve talked about poverty, racial inequality, sustainability, energetic connectedness, universal principles, evolution, the microcosm and the macrocosm, sacred patterns, extinction, climate change, corruption and greed, creativity and innovation, and how there is still much that we don’t really understand about how things work.

We’ve talked about Martin Luther King Jr. and political movements, we’ve talked about John Lennon and how ideas can both inspire good and invoke fear, we’ve talked about what might happen when you die. It is never forced and I’m not trying to “teach” him anything. These are just conversations that emerge organically from situations, events, or his curiosities.

I’ve never felt the need to hold back or shelter him from knowing that he is part of something much bigger than himself, something continuously unfolding in which he has a role to play, something that is both magnificent and heartbreaking, an existence in which life and death, creation and destruction are intricately intertwined.

Kids understand much more than we generally give them credit for, they can handle these things if we can speak about them frankly, without alarm, but still conveying relevance and being clear that some things are open to interpretation and different viewpoints. I believe they have a right to know, they are better served and will grow into more open-minded and conscious adults, with a more global view of the world - and that is something humanity desperately needs of the next generation.

At the end of these talks I always leave him - and myself - with hope, empowered, knowing that one person, no matter how small, can make things better, knowing that there are far more good guys than bad and that together we are already building a new, more loving and conscious world, we just have to keep going even when it's hard.

Genuine Entrepreneurs You Should Know: Ryan Robinson

Diana Chaplin

Queue Don LaFontaine (the “movie voice guy”)… IN A WORLD where everyone is an entrepreneur, where slick marketing gurus leave a trail of broken hearts, landing pages, and half-pursued passions, ONE MAN actually cares about helping you thrive in the creative economy….

Ok maybe that’s a little dramatic, but it’s also true.

If you’re tuned in to the entrepreneur world then you might be a little fatigued by all the experts promising winning strategies, formulas for success, and 6-figure income through endless forms of virtual offerings. It’s not that I don’t respect smart advice and valuable insights from modern thought-leaders in the business world, because I do, but I’ve come to recognize the qualities that set genuine influencers apart from the rest.

·      They have a personal mission that goes much deeper than making money

·      They think about big ideas, and share those ideas with their tribe

·      They seek to connect people to resources, and to each other

·      They are not afraid to show their real unscripted lives

·      They GIVE to their readers, whether or not those readers ever become customers

·      They are humble, kind, and respectful in their words and actions

·      They pay homage to their own role models and acknowledge the sources of their insights

·      Rather than telling you how to do things, they ask powerful questions and inspire you to dig way down deep within yourself to carve your own path forward

Ryan Robinson is an entrepreneur, writer, content marketer, and champion to freelancers everywhere. He works full time at Creative Live (a creative learning platform that is chock full of affordable and comprehensive video courses), has a handful of clients, and writes immensely thorough and actionable blog posts to help other freelancers elevate their potential.

But wait… there’s more.

Ryan also has some seriously great courses of his own that are actually worth your time, and what he’s learned comes from various ventures of starting side businesses through the years. When he’s not doing all that he also manages to write articles for fancy publications like Inc. Forbes, and Entrepreneur, and even get out in the sun to explore the great outdoors so he doesn’t turn into a laptop zombie.

How does he do it all?

I thought he was superman until he recently revealed in a podcast interview that he wakes up at 4:30am. Not sure if Arianna Huffington (the sleep evangelist) would approve but hopefully he balances it with an early bedtime and occasionally sleeping in… till 6.

Ryan’s newest course is F-R-E-E (possibly not for long) and really, really well done: How to Find a Profitable Business Idea. As a content creator myself I tip my hat off to how clear, concise, and well-guided all the information is. Idea courses can sometime float in the realm of la-la land but Ryan’s is very grounded and moves that idea energy downwards into manifestation-in-reality land.

 I swear Ryan is not paying me to write this post!

I’m sharing this because he’s a great example of someone who goes above and beyond in providing value to his readers, and I want as many people as possible to take advantage of his generosity before he comes to his senses.

I’m also sharing this because he’ll teach you things you probably won’t learn anywhere else, and he’s actually full of tangible substance. He’s not going to tell you what you “should” do, but he’s going to suggest some really good ideas in sufficient detail for you to implement them if you want to, and you’ll probably see results in a fairly short time.  

That’s what it’s all about!

This is what a genuine entrepreneur looks like, and the kind of person I want to support in a professional and personal way.

And I love this, here’s Ryan’s perspective on the idea of “following your passion”:

“You can’t afford to wait for elusive passions to just fall down out of the sky, and you won’t find an online quiz that can just tell you which path your life should take. Success in business is determined mostly by how well you can identify, activate, and build your strengths. And you know what? We tend to become passionate about the things we’re good at.”

Right on brother.

Ryan and I met through Twitter. Yeah, really.

Somehow he found me and followed me there, and I was intrigued enough to check out his website and sign up for his list. In one of the first emails I received upon signing up he asked if I had any questions or struggles and I wrote back, something I’ve done before without any replies. But this time, a crazy thing happened…

He replied with a very thorough and personal response directly addressing my question with helpful recommendations that completely shifted how I was looking at a problem.

Whaaaaa? Who does that?

From there we’ve stayed in touch, like real humans, connecting about freelancing, good content, social media, and other things. He’s a genuinely nice guy.

So I’m writing this post to share the love. Go check out what Ryan has to say, you won’t regret it.

Ryan, if you’re reading this… iStash, really? You're just full of surprises. Now I’m inspired in a whole new way!

Client Experience Core Values: A Freelancer’s Manifesto

Diana Chaplin

Balance, mindfulness, and abundance are my core values in all areas of life, and it is no different in my freelance work.

Even before I began working independently with clients I had a certain work ethic that permeated my career journey from humble beginnings as an ice cream shop server, all throughout my administrative and waitressing jobs in college, my 5-year stint in publishing, and ultimately to being a Health Coach and a Content Manager at a wellness school before starting my own business as a copywriter and content strategist.

These principles have guided my path forward and made me a welcome colleague, coach, and writer. I just never thought to write them down before!

So in case you might be wondering just what guides my sense of purpose and what kind of experience you might expect as a client, here is my manifesto…

If this sounds like it's right up your alley,   let's talk.

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How Intuition and Synchronicity Can Revolutionize your Business

Diana Chaplin

Working for yourself involves making pivotal decisions all the time. Should you launch a business? Do you need a lawyer or CPA? Who’s your ideal client? Is this or that project the right fit for you?

On the one hand, it’s exciting and liberating to be in the driver’s seat of your professional destiny. On the other hand, it can be agonizing to wrestle with some of these decisions because being a freelancer or entrepreneur is a unique experience by nature.

There is only one you.

You put yourself on this rugged path probably knowing it wasn’t going to be an easy afternoon stroll, and now that you’re stuck in the mud with one hand holding on to a flimsy branch for dear life and the other reaching out for a glittering unicorn who may or may not take you to salvation, YOU’VE got to figure out what to do.

Sound about right?

Yes, it’s lonely and scary in this realm of uncertainty.

Sometimes you almost wish you had a regular job where someone else could just tell you what to do… almost.

Mentors and great resources are helpful. Rational thinking is helpful. Asking your tribe for advice is helpful. BUT those things will only take you so far. What sets most successful independent’s apart is the ability to connect with their own sense of inner purpose, and that is something that resides in the gut or the heart, not the mind.

So here’s the good news:

Whatever question you might be struggling with at any given time in your work or life, you actually already have the seed of the answer. You just have to learn to nourish it.

Intuition is a powerful force we all have access to, and learning how to tap into it will make everything in life flow easier. It’s there, energetically, pulling you towards the right thing if you can silence the onslaught of thoughts long enough to stop resisting and just listen.

So how can you use your intuition to make good decisions?

If you follow this simple process consistently, you will see major shifts in your decision-making. Seriously.

1. Ask yourself clear questions, repeatedly.

Phrase the question to yourself in a really simple way, such as:

  • Should I launch a business?
  • What is my purpose?
  • Who is my ideal client?

This can be used for personal questions too…

  • Who is my soulmate?
  • Is this the right house?
  • Should I move across the country?

Once you’ve got your question, ask it in your mind multiple times a day, and especially as you’re falling asleep at night. Allow the question to penetrate your subconscious mind.

2. Follow hunches.

Listen up, because this is really important:

the answer is not going to come in an obvious way. 

You’re not going to get an email from intuition.com with subject line: Here’s what you should do! You have to also take steps forward in real life and be on the lookout for guide posts leading you towards the answer. That’s just how the universe works my friends.

This is where synchronicity comes in, and the right step forward will arise slowly in the form of gentle hunches.

It will be curiosity about some article you see online, an invitation to an event you instantly want to say yes to, or the desire to follow up with a friend of a friend who has some experience in the thing you’re unsure about. FOLLOW those hunches, do the things! One thing will lead to another and you will get or learn exactly what you need to make progress somehow, often in totally unexpected ways.

3. Invite inner stillness

Mental stillness is essential for being clear-headed enough to see and follow the guideposts mentioned above, and to integrate the experiences or information in a meaningful way into the intuition supercomputer that will ultimately churn out the outcome that will propel you towards awesomeness. Personally, I meditate -(just 10 minutes a day is all you need, you don’t have to go on a silent retreat or anything), do yoga, read, craft, write, and just do things in silence. For you maybe it’s some other activity, but the point is it to cultivate a quiet mind.

Likewise, self-care is not only good for overall wellbeing, it is a critical component of good decision-making. Get enough sleep, hydrate, eat well, enjoy the company of people you love. Don’t lose yourself in an obsession with work, you won't see answers clearly if you're stressed out or exhausted.

4. When it’s time, just do it and move on

 You can rationalize the hell out of why working with a particular client sounds like a good move, but if some deep-down part of you is resisting because something doesn’t feel right, that’s your intuition saying NO.

Don’t drag it out longer than necessary and don’t second-guess yourself once you make the final call. Dwelling in hesitation and fear is a colossal waste of energy that will also blind you from seeing other, better opportunities. Similarly, if you’ve been waiting to make a bold move, have weighed the pros and cons, have done the research, and just know it’ll probably work out if you can only muster up the energy to leave your current state of security, then at some point you just have to leap. One way or another, a net will appear, you’ll figure things out, it’ll be ok.

I can’t say this is a guaranteed method for success, but in my experience more often than not if you follow your intuition you’ll find yourself presented with an abundance of new opportunities, benefitting from coincidences, and riding the wave of synchronicity towards things that help you evolve both personally and professionally. That’s the truth of human nature if we have the courage to get out of our own way.

Communication: A Personal Path to Learning and Loving Words

Diana Chaplin

If you asked me when I was 6-years-old what I wanted to be when I grew up I’m pretty sure “content strategist,” “copywriter,” or “entrepreneur” were nowhere on that list of aspirations.

How could they be? It was 1988 and the internet was still in it’s infancy, unbeknownst to almost everyone, especially to little me living in Latvia in a Russian family during a huge political transition from communism.

And regardless, I was an introvert who felt way more comfortable around animals than people and probably wanted to be a vet, zookeeper, or forest fairy.

I was the kind of kid who thought Baba Yega – the mythical scary old witch who lives in the woods and eats children that every Russian kid knew about – was just a misunderstood elderly woman who wanted to be alone in nature. If you Google “Baba Yega witch” you’ll see the creepy side of what I’m talking about, but I always pictured her more like this…

For some reason I can’t explain, seeing things from the perspectives of others was always my default method for understanding the world.

Even now, when I’m preparing to write copy for a business or entrepreneur, before I write a single word I close my eyes and project myself into the mind of the desired recipient of that information – the audience or customer – and think about who they are, what they care about, what inspires or deters them, and what might motivate them to take action. I think it is really just conscious empathy dressed in marketing.

But back then, as a kid, I didn’t understand myself yet, or anyone for that matter.

What I did know was that I loved books, that I wanted a family of my own someday, and that I wanted to be an “independent woman” {ok maybe I didn’t think those exact words but the concepts of freedom and autonomy were definitely my desires from the moment consciousness kicked in… perhaps as a result of generational osmosis after years of said communism in my family’s political reality at the time?}.

I also remember having this weird feeling that I was somehow different from the people around me, as if I’d been switched at birth or was really an anthropologist studying their strange behavior rather than quite belonging. I didn’t know how to articulate this at the time so my solution was to blend in until I could figure it out.

I moved to America when I was 7, suddenly pulled from a world I knew into a small one-bedroom in Brooklyn with my young parents. I remember turning on the TV and despite knowing that people in America spoke English I was still shocked and disappointed that even the small comfort of my favorite Russian kid shows was gone.

I felt alone and lost. I missed home, and I couldn’t blend in anymore.

Little did I know how much this immigrant experience would shape how I perceive the world, interpret information, and communicate with others.

Always an observer, I became hyper-aware of all the linguistic, cultural, and social elements around me, simply because I had to learn how to BE in this new world.

I was an outsider and would forever seek to bridge the gap between people who are “in” and have an understanding of something, and those who are “out” and need to be guided towards that understanding. On a deeper level this, to me, is what good content and copywriting is all about: welcoming someone in.

To make things more interesting in my first few weeks in America, because I didn’t have all the necessary documentation to go to public school right away I ended up going to a Jewish school where Hebrew was taught in English… and I still only spoke Russian. Talk about another cultural and linguistic twist! Kids really are resilient though because I made it work, figured it out, and I don’t remember struggling that much. This was the new normal and I rolled with it.

I transitioned to public school about a year later, and from there excelled in all things language and communication: English, literature, grammar, poetry and creative writing, even Spanish. Reading, writing, and interpreting different lives and events through words became a strength, like a muscle I got comfortable with flexing over time.

I still didn’t know what I really wanted to DO, and I still loved books.

In college I majored in Communications at the University of Massachusetts, though I don’t think I was totally clear on what exactly that meant before I started classes. I chose it mostly because I thought it sounded broad enough to be “practical” and more legit than being an English major.

Looking back, I realize it was my intuition guiding the way, because I didn’t put that much thought into it and I wasn’t worried about it either. I just wanted to leave home and be on my own. I loved my classes though, and it ended up being a great fit for me. This was where I expanded my understanding of the written word, and layered in the psychology behind communication, as well as how different media can be used to convey a message and inspire various thoughts or emotions in the recipients of that information.

This was where a sense of passion kicked in, and I started to realize that something in the realm of communication was going to be a part of my life forever.  

College, and my early 20’s, was also when I experienced a personal renaissance of sorts. I fell in love with the lyrics of Bob Dylan and learned to play guitar, ultimately writing many songs of my own. I wrote, a lot, all sorts of things related to exploring reality, human behavior, philosophy, social and cultural norms, man’s struggle with nature, feminism, and other such things I’d probably be too embarrassed to share now. But in hindsight, reading and writing about all of that was a cathartic experience that needed to happen. It was my 10,000 hours. I had to get it out of my system in order to reach a deeper level of understanding of all things, including the workings of my own mind.

After graduating I STILL had no idea what I was going to DO or BE.

Our educational system really fails in this regard. From an early age we are put on an assembly line of learning semi-relevant things with immense pressure as we are continuously pushed towards the next grade, the next test, the next institution, all with the promise that there will be something golden and worthwhile at the end if we just stay focused and study hard. And the day after graduation we are left with a gaping hole where a future should be, holding a diploma that is often meaningless unless it is in a highly specialized field.

I didn’t want to leave Massachusetts after graduating so I stayed through the summer, working for an incredible woman who was physically challenged and needed personal care yet who was also an outspoken disability rights activist and getting her Master’s Degree in public health. She was an outsider too, so we got along perfectly. I even joined her on a trip to Seattle for a disability rights march where we joined hundreds of activists to demand better treatment, access, and rights for people with disabilities.

I was a medium, a carrier, a bridge, one foot in the world of the able-bodied and one in the world of the disabled and vulnerable.

Communication is the thread that brought the two together, understanding is the humanity that made it relevant. Like all the experiences that came before, this was another step in my unique journey towards becoming a professional intermediary.

I returned to New York at the end of summer and after a few false starts with jobs that weren’t a good fit I landed an assistant position at Penguin publishing. It was on the sales team in the children’s and young adult books division and I was thrilled. Finally, I thought, BOOKS! This was where I was meant to be.

Unfortunately, though I was exposed to many books, authors, and behind-the-scenes processes my job consisted more of spreadsheets and sales research than anything creative enough to be quite fulfilling. I was really good at it, but I frequently came home in tears and suffered from debilitating migraines. Clearly something was off because every day was more soul-crushing than the last. It was also a disappointingly corporate culture and yet again I stood out big time because I just didn’t go along with the crowd when it came to appropriate {super uncomfortable high-heels and wrinkle-free lady suits} attire, after-work drinks and cigarettes, and basically every other level that humans can relate to each other.

But in the 5 years I was there I learned many of the supportive skills needed to be successful in any career: organization, professionalism, get-it-doneness, performing under pressure, technical knowledge, motivation, patience. It was important and I’m thankful for that.

Along the way I became interested in health and wellness, and after years of enduring being grossly dissatisfied with work I finally manifested a job at the Institute for Integrative Nutrition {I say “manifested” because the interview process was grueling and took several weeks, and each night I used every ounce of my concentration to visualize myself being there, already having the job}. It was a starting position I was overqualified for, at half the salary, and I had a 9-month old baby at the time, but I said yes, YES! I knew this would be a pivotal role and that the money would come, and later it did. The funny thing is that the job I started doing had little to do with writing, but in the 4 years I was there I gradually created a role for myself as a Content Manager and copywriter. Communication and wellness, the two loves of my life were finally joined.

I learned to harness the power of words into a vehicle of action on behalf of a product or service.

This was the role in which I learned fancy marketing terms like “content strategy,” “conversion,” and “user experience.” Prior to this my writing was more about exploring concepts, sharing ideas, and telling stories. Like this post, it was long and detailed, there was never a need to leave things out. That’s vastly different from writing for marketing purposes. One is mellifluous and full of adjectives, while the other must be concise and fully refined. It took years of working on this craft that felt like what I imagine carving a statue from a slab of stone must be like, painstakingly cracking and chipping away all the extraneous bits before you finally arrive at the masterpiece within: a 5-word headline that perfectly captures the heart and soul of something good.

In case you’re not familiar with it, the Institute for Integrative Nutrition is an online nutrition school that certifies holistic health coaches. In my role I got to witness and interact with countless graduates who became very successful in the wellness field, many of them bravely venturing out on their own and becoming self-employed. This community of entrepreneurs was ultimately what lead me to where I am today, with the courage to leave the job security and familiarity of New York and finally return to western Massachusetts – a place I longed for in my heart ever since leaving over 10 years prior – with my husband and 2 boys this time. Complete.

Since then I’ve evolved my content strategy and copywriting experience even further as a freelancer. I’ve worked with clients that range from entrepreneurial schools to sports consultants, non-profit organizations and wellness coaches, creative makers and alternative health centers. I’ve used those skills and my self-employment status to cofound a coworking space in my new town, and to support entrepreneurship in many forms.

This story is far from over as there is much more growth and evolution still to come.

Working with a diverse range of clients has already been an exhilarating learning experience and I can’t wait to see what else is in store. Perhaps this is only the first chapter of my love affair with communication.