When It Comes to Social Media, Does Size Really Matter? Four Tips to Make Your Social Media Efforts Convert to Money

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As seen in HuffPost

As an experienced brand and marketing consultant in Miami, it wasn’t long before I had to turn myself into a social media expert. I’ve learned a lot, I’ve shared a lot, and just like the algorithms on Facebook and Instagram continue to change, I am constantly compelled to stay ahead of the game.

Having added social media strategist to my giant collection of hats, I get asked the same question on a daily basis, multiple times.

How can I grow my social media following AND convert that following into sales?

Well, first you MUST understand the cardinal rule of social media. It’s a mistake I see newbies making time and time again, providing the same level of confusion my grandma finds herself in whenever she receives a text message.

Mistaking a high number of followers for anything other than, well, a high number of followers.

Sure, the more followers you have, the more you, your product and/or your business are seen. But did you ever check out a social media account belonging to someone with 50,000 followers and notice that their posts are getting only a teeny tiny fraction of these followers’ likes and attention? That’s called poor engagement, folks. And having little social media engagement means you’re definitely not making the money you’d like to be making from those thousands of followers.

Bottom line: engagement > followers.

Contrary to popular belief, size doesn’t matter. At least not in the social media world, anyway. You can have the biggest following on the ‘gram, but if you’re not getting noticed, you’re not making money.

So, let’s change that.

Let’s focus our energy on getting you noticed, and organically growing your following into one that converts to sales, referrals, and the holy grail of all social media posts: shares.

Here are my top four tips for generating more engagement from your social media posts:

1. Connection

Have you ever followed someone on social media that you felt like you knew personally? Whose posts you connected with so deeply that you could swear you’d be best friends forever with this person in real life? No, it’s not creepy, it’s called making a social media connection, and it’s what you need to be doing for your own followers.

You make a connection with your followers by being authentic, sharing parts of your business journey and/or personal life that your target market can relate to, and by showing people that, hey, even though I’m out here working hard and making money, I’m not perfect and I, too, have bad days.

It works. I promise. No matter what you’re selling, what story you’re trying to tell, or who your target market is, followers will connect more to the posts that relay personality and a sense of being human, more than anything else.

Most importantly, stay away from posting things just to get attention – this screams desperate and will end up costing you your reputation with your target market in no time.

2. Consistency

It’s like going to the gym. One session on the treadmill does not a hot body make. This is another mistake I see people making all the time. Spending a few days posting, getting frustrated that they’re not seeing the return they expected, and letting their Facebook and Instagram pages sit dormant for days, or even worse, weeks.

In order to make that connection we just talked about, you have to appear present, front and center, and committed to your cause. That takes a level of commitment to being consistent very similar to the one you exhibited when growing your business or trying to get to back into your skinny jeans. Think daily posts, heck sometimes even twice daily, all while staying consistent to your brand’s message.

3. Stay Competitive

Making good money and getting decent leads from your social media accounts? Don’t stop applying steps one and two now, unless you’re ready to fall behind. Social media is a competitive world. Business is too. You know this. Continue your mission as if you were competing for a gold medal in the Olympics because I can guarantee you’re not the only person in the world selling what you’re selling, and there are tons of people gnawing at your heels, just dying to take your place.

Getting too busy to worry about your social media accounts? Great, sounds like the perfect time to hire someone to maintain your presence and continue sharing your message through social media. Call me, call someone, call anyone, but don’t sit back and kick up your heels just yet, unless you’re ready to lose steam in the success department.

4. Collaborate

Ever hear of the term, “Don’t hate, collaborate”? Social media is a great way to not only figure out who your competition is, but grow with them, collaboratively. Sound crazy? Ever hear of that other term, “Keep your friends close and your enemies closer”? Okay, maybe it doesn’t need to be that dramatic, but collaborating with your competition on social media is a REALLY good idea.

Start by finding an account similar to yours, who seems to be targeting the same audience as you, and has a solid level of engagement on their posts. Invite them to collaborate by offering to share a post of theirs on your page, if they share one of yours on their page. Voila – collaboration magic, and you’ve likely just earned a few more followers and quite possibly, clicks back to your website.

Yes, it sounds like a lot. Because it is. There’s a reason why people like me get paid to help companies manage their social media accounts – there’s a literal science behind it. But if you still want to try it on your own, I can promise these steps will make all the difference.

You’re welcome. Now let’s connect and get your social media strategy up to par.

How to Brand Yourself, and Your Business, Like Beyonce

Branding. It’s all we seem to hear about lately. It seems like, all of a sudden, every other Instagram account out there belongs to a brand strategist, a brand expert, and a brand marketing guru.

Well, I am one of those brand development experts who just won’t shut up about the importance of building your brand.

And it’s not to annoy you, I promise. Building a strong brand is the single best thing you can do for your business.

Since starting my content marketing company in Miami last year, I’ve realized that there’s only one thing that really matters most when developing a marketing strategy for your business. Any business, large or small, startup or seasoned, needs to develop a brand identity before anything else – it’s what establishes a connection, after all. And connection is what converts to sales, loyal followers, and devoted customers.

Take, for example, Beyonce. If all she did was put out a few hits from time to time, make some random videos and stand demurely on stage while she belted out a few songs at a concert – would she be the Beyonce we know her to be? No way. Ever since Survivor, it was clear that this babe’s brand was to empower women to be strong. Every video, song, photoshoot and Instagram campaign that followed delivered an overwhelming message of “you got this, girl” while she shook that empowered ass all over the place, flashing a ring-less finger or reminding listeners that girls, do indeed, run the world.

So, who connects with Beyonce and buys into her brand’s message? Everyone in her target audience.

Every human looking for a dose of badass babe motivation in every country across the world. Her brand has been cultivated, established, procured, and executed in every way possible, with each deliberate move she makes. Her brand is female empowerment. Just like Tesla’s brand is environmentally conscious luxury, and Ford means good, old-fashioned American reliability. The thing that separates these world-dominating brands from everything else, though, is consistency and a fierce loyalty to their message. Because of this, they have each carved out and dominated their niche audience.

Now it’s time for you to do the same.

How can you brand yourself like Beyonce, and let the world know exactly what message it is you’re doling out with each Instagram post, blog post, and marketing campaign tied to your name?

Listen closely.

1. Figure out what your brand is.

This takes time, a lot of mistakes, a whole lot of face-palm moments. You might start your business thinking your brand is being the best content writer known to mankind, when in fact, the proof shows that you’re mostly sought after for being a badass business consultant for other solopreneurs or start-ups. When I first started my business, I branded myself as a content writer for anyone and everyone who needed words to market their businesses. I mean, duh, I made the number one boo-boo all virgin entrepreneurs make: thinking that casting a wider net equals more money.

Huge mistake.

It didn’t take long before I realized that I was the best content writer for female entrepreneurs who needed a rebrand in their medical, legal, or real estate businesses simply because of the empowering attitude I bring to my marketing process. It also didn’t hurt that I had been publishing my own written work to inspire female professionals for a while before this. My brand was built for me, as most of you will find.

Do not start branding yourself and your business until you’ve really figured this part out, otherwise that whole consistency thing becomes seriously overlooked.

2. Figure out who you’re trying to target

Okay, so you’ve realized what your “thing” is and what you want to be branded as. This goes hand-in-hand with reaching your target market. For me, it was professional women who were way too busy to worry about marketing, and needed a professional to rely on. It wasn’t other creatives or Fortune-500 companies full of red tape and rules. Zero in on your specific target market, develop that avatar, and speak to it, and it only, with ALL that you do. Picking one audience, not twelve, will make you more successful, as counterproductive as that sounds. If Tesla built a car that everyone could afford, would it be as special and desired as it is today? Be one in a million, not one of a million.

Once you’ve got this figured out, it won’t be long before the message of your brand comes shining through with each move you make, and your brand message becomes clear.

3. Stay consistent

One trip to the gym does not a fit body make, and the same goes with your brand. To keep your brand healthy, strong, and sexy as ever – stay consistent. That means setting a plan to share your brand message with the world on a weekly, no, make that daily, basis. Screw it, do this twice a day.

No, you’re not being annoying, you’re making yourself known. Anyone who doesn’t care for your posts or marketing strategies are not in your target market anyway, so if they’re annoyed, they can unfollow you and your business will never know the difference. You need a strong marketing plan to ensure you have the best content marketing strategy for your brand, and to ensure that your in-your-face marketing efforts serve as click bait instead of a quick trip to the unsubscribe bin.

4. Speaking of the best content marketing strategy…

You’re not going to try to go it alone here, are you? A content marketing expert has done this all before, trust me, and knows just how to develop the best brand message for your business. Your brand will grow exponentially with the right marketing person on your side, helping to develop content that converts, implement strategies that leave your target market wanting more, and give your brand the boost it needs to make it to the top of everyone’s lists.

Beyonce wouldn’t rely on herself to produce her seriously branded videos, concerts, and photoshoots, would she? Didn’t think so.

Get your brand right, babes – it’ll be the best thing you ever do for your business.

The Three Things You Can Do to Boost Your Brand's Image (and Make More Money)

Originally published in Medium.

Love it or hate it, content marketing is king. And not in the King Henry VIII sort of way. I’m talking King Kong — destroyer of all in its path.

Yep — whether you think you need it or not, content marketing is the King Kong of the take-your-business-to-the-next-level game. With a serious reputation of shattering competitors and naysayers with a mere swing of its wide-reaching arm, content marketing will do for your business what nothing else can.

Unfortunately for many of you solopreneurs and small-business friends of mine, you’re still wondering if that King Kong costume is worth the money or not. You have yet to bite the bullet and put some muscle (or capital) into working with a marketing agency that can transform how the public views your brand.

Don’t worry, you’re not alone.

But the cold, hard, truth of the matter is this: if you’re not prepared to put the cart before the horse, as in, plunk down the cash and put your trust in the hands of a creative and strategic marketing professional, you must also be prepared to not get as far as you dreamed.

Don’t shoot the messenger.

Listen, I feel for you. I really do. And because I was once scared of the notion of having to spend money in order to make money, I’m going to throw you a bone here. I am going to share with you the three things you can do to boost the content marketing strategy for your business (or at the very least, fake the marketing funk until you put on your grown-up pants and get your act together).

1. Work your email list.

Create an account with Mailchimp (by far the most user-friendly email marketing tool on the planet). Dig up those business cards you’ve collected along the way. Import those emails, create a simple template with your business logo, and get ready for a return on your investment like you’ve never imagined. That’s right, email marketing is the channel generating the highest ROI for marketers. Send weekly emails educating your network on everything you know about your industry. Share business wins. Create passive income strategies. I don’t really care what it is you use that list for — but I know this: if you’re using your email marketing tool the right way, and on a regular basis, you’re going to be making money.

*Pro-tip: Create a pop-up on your website’s landing page asking visitors to sign up for your newsletter. Boom.

2. Get over the fear of annoying people.

Not a fan of self-promotion? Sounds like a personal problem. Seriously. If you’re not prepared to self-promote — whether it’s yourself, your brand, your product or your services — don’t come crying to me when you’re not making any money. I’ve been known to push the envelope when it comes to self-promotion. I don’t shy away from putting myself out there. I don’t want to know how many people have unfollowed me on Facebook or unsubscribed from my newsletter. But that’s the thing — I don’t care. Because I know for each person who rolls their eyes at my next business win, published article, or newsletter promotion, there will be a handful more that want to work with me, learn from me, or collaborate. Until you can afford a billboard in Times Square, self-promotion needs to become a daily part of your marketing strategy — STAT.

3. Blog.

Want to drive traffic to your website without having to spend money on an SEO company? Blog. Want to position yourself as a subject matter expert in your industry? Blog. Want to get people to click back to your website from your newsletter and see how much information you have to share with them? Blog. Blog. Blog. And be consistent. Google loves consistency (and a minimum 350 words per page).

Need more help? Click here, I’ve got a strategy for that.

Michelle Dempsey is an entrepreneur, speaker, radio host, internationally published writer, and content marketing-obsessed mommy of 1 brilliant and beautiful little girl.

The 5 Ways You're Screwing Up Your Marketing Plan

I can’t tell you how many people call me asking for web copy to help “get them more business”. And let’s not forget the business owners who call complaining that they “hired a copywriter for their site and cannot believe how little this has done for their brand.”

These are also the same people who mention they are fed up with marketing because it’s “just not working for them.”

Cue the eye-rolls.

 Here’s the thing: Copywriting alone is not going to convert web traffic into sales. Copywriting will not help you stand apart from your competitors.

Copywriting for your website is not a marketing tool.

But content – real deal, well-written, thoroughly researched and engaging content

 is a marketing tool.

And the best one there is, if you ask me.

As defined by the Content Marketing Institute, “Content marketing is a strategic marketing approach focused on creating and distributing valuable, relevant, and consistent content to attract and retain a clearly-defined audience — and, ultimately, to drive profitable customer action.”

 In short? Effective marketing is impossible without great content.

It didn’t take me long to grow my full-service content marketing company in Florida to become synonymous with a certain style of connecting with consumers. I’m certainly not saying mine is the best in the world, but what I am saying is that I have successfully been able to bridge the gap between what business owners think they need to put out into the public and what kind of content they actually need to be sharing in order to drive more sales.

Without giving away all my secrets, I’m sharing the five ways I see more and more businesses screwing up their content marketing plans, and how you can avoid the same ugly fate.

1.    Not understanding the difference between copywriting and content writing

Like I mentioned above, this one drives me nuts. “The great distinction between content writing and copywriting lies in the purpose of writing it. Copywriting means writing for the sake of promotional advertising or marketing. The purpose of content writing is to entertain and entice the online audiences so they stay longer on websites and engage with the brand.” And staying longer on websites equals a much higher chance of conversions. Content writing gives your brand the voice it needs to set itself apart. It’s the language that speaks directly to the consumer. It’s the way you ensure you’re being heard – not just the necessary copy designed to educate.

2.    Not Being Authentic

Forget what you think people want to hear. This is the kiss of death. There is nothing that turns a prospective buyer/client/money spender off faster than that feeling of inauthenticity. You know what turns them on, though? A connection. Just like in any regular relationship. That feeling of “this one is different, I feel like they’re speaking directly to me.” Keep it real, even if you feel you’re not appealing to the masses, and you’ll end up way more successful. How? You’ll be able to tighten your niche real quick, and become the leader of your industry with your eyes closed.

3.    Keeping a close watch on your competitors

The only person you should be in competition with is yourself. Be better than you were yesterday, last week, last quarter, whatever. Because keeping a close eye on your competitors will not only drive you nuts, it will inevitably force you to lose the voice and authenticity you worked so hard to find. At the end of the day, you should be worried about what sets you apart and gives you that edge to succeed, rather than comparing yourself to others. Focus on your customers rather than on your competition, and you’ll always be one step ahead in the marketing game and speaking directly to their needs, rather than keeping up with the Joneses.

4.    Not testing the market

When it comes to marketing, assessment of your target audience, where and how they spend, and what it’ll take to reach them, is key. Marketing is not a game of, “let’s throw a whole bunch of crap at the wall and go with what sticks.” It’s taking small, calculated measures to see how your audience responds in order to be able to gauge what they need more of, and do away with what doesn’t appeal to them. Maybe you’ll find that, contrary to popular belief, your target market is not on Facebook, thus eradicating the idea that you must run Facebook ads. Test your audience early on, and repeat this process consistently over time. Nothing stays constant in marketing.

5.    Allowing too many cooks in the kitchen

You know what they say about opinions right?  Think of the last time you were considering buying a new car. You likely got all excited and asked multiple friends and family members what they thought of your top pick, only to find out you would have been happier and more confident in your choice by keeping your mouth shut.  The peanut gallery is useless in marketing. You know why so many companies are hiring outside marketing consultants such as myself rather than keeping the job in-house, where ideas risk getting muddied? Fresh perspective, one solid voice, and for idea generation that is not influenced by what’s happening inside the company. Keep your marketing team high-level, high-functioning, and really, really small.

Need more marketing tips or interested in allowing me to reshape the way your business tells their marketing story? Connect with me, today!

Email Marketing VS Print Advertising: Things You Should Know if You Plan on Becoming Successful

Finally starting the business you’ve been dreaming of? I’ve been there. Not sure how to best share your message, develop a relationship with your target market, and secure conversions?

I’ve been there, too.

About a year ago, I was faced with the all too common solopreneur dilemma:

Advertising or Content Marketing?

If you just scratched your head and mumbled, “But I thought these were the same things?’’

You’re wrong – dead wrong. Keep reading.

I would constantly hear from colleagues, friends, and everyone in between about how few leads and how little sales they were making from traditional advertising methods. And the cost of print advertising? Forget it – that’s enough to make you want to close shop and head back to the traditional 9-5 where the work falls easily on your lap.

 

This is exactly why my freelancing gig quickly transformed itself into a full-fledged content marketing business. I had no choice but to self-promote and market my own business to death, so I became determined to do the same for the companies whose stories I was helping to tell through content.

And you know where the real magic happened? Where sales started growing and the businesses I was helping to promote became the go-to experts in their industry?

Email Marketing.

It was clear that email marketing was doing for small businesses what no amount of print advertising could do. That each growing open rate of a client’s email list was slowly transforming their business into the money-generator they set out for it to be.

And all it took were some cleverly crafted emails, sent out at peak times on a weekly basis.

Wondering where the power behind email marketing comes from? I’ll tell you.

1.     Email Marketing Allows You to Transform Yourself into a Subject Matter Expert

When you send an email to your list, you’re not just asking them to hire you, buy your product, or believe in your idea. No way, that’s not enough.

If you’re doing it right, you’re utilizing these emails to share what you know about your industry, your products, or whatever it is you’re trying to sell. You’re able to share the information behind how and why you are the best at what you do, and why no one else could even compare. You’re able to give your clients the much-needed tips, strategies, and ideas they never knew they really needed, if you catch my drift.

In fact, your emails could sell whatever it is your business provides without you even mentioning your products, so long as you connect deeply enough with your audience. This is precisely where they begin to associate you with being the ONLY subject matter expert in your industry. The SME’s get the trust, and with the trust, comes the money.

2.     Email Marketing is Action Oriented

What happens when you see an advertisement for something that interests you in a magazine or newspaper? You file the idea in the back of your head, pretend you’ll remember to look up the product or service later on, and likely forget all about it, right?

But when you open an email that has secured your attention, captured your interest, and made you hot for whatever it is that you’ve read about it – you click. There’s no waiting until later and hoping you’ll remember to make your purchase at some point when you’re less busy. In today’s fast-paced world where instant gratification is king, you’re more likely to action when something is presented to you on a silver platter, than not.

That email is the silver platter, and your audience craves just as much instant gratification as you do.

3.     You Don’t Need a Marketing Budget for Email Marketing

I had a zero-dollar budget when I started my business. In fact, if I’m being honest, I was at less than zero. To my surprise, however, there were a slew of email marketing platforms that were totally free, and required no capital to get started. This was clearly the method I chose until I grew my list big enough that I had to upgrade, and even now I am spending such a minimal amount of money.

Email marketing allows business owners to reach a giant number of prospective consumers at a rate of nearly nothing per message. For solopreneurs and small-business owners on a budget, there is no better choice.

Look, if you’re still skeptical about email marketing, because the girl who built her business on email marketing is trying to sell you its benefits – that’s okay. Don’t take it from me, but remember that facts are facts, and you can’t argue with those. The one fact, about all else, to remember if you’re still on the fence about email marketing?

In a joint study from Shop.org and Forrester Research found that 85% of US retailers consider email marketing one of the most effective customer acquisition tactics.

How’s that for a pretty convincing piece of information?

Told you so.

If you’re running a real business, email is still the most effective way to universally reach people who have expressed interest in your product or site. For that, it really can’t be beat.”

– Colin Nederkoorn (founder Customer.IO)

Ready to work together? Drop me a line and let's start making you some real money.

 

Michelle Dempsey in Creative Child

Parenting Summed Up in Quotes

My daughter is turning two this month. But if you knew her, I wouldn’t have to tell you this. You’d just know.

You’d know from the outfit she’s wearing, because she insisted on picking it out herself. You’d know from the fact that she has cookie crumbs on her cheek at school drop-off at 8am, because little mama wasn’t eating anything else, and you couldn’t bear the thought of her flying into a hungry rage at school. You’d know from the fact that we arrive at any location sans shoes and socks, because apparently, these don’t “feel good” in the car.

The thing is though, this stage, difficult and trying as it may be from time to time, has actually proved to be hilarious. She’s learning and growing by the minute, it seems, and with this, comes some of the funniest moments I’ve ever experienced.

I heard from friends that this stage would be the most enjoyable, and I quickly learned this based on the hilarity that ensues by the fiery need for independence, that burns deep within each toddler. That unrelenting insistence of trying things on their own, refusing to take any help in any form, and relishing in the messes they create for us.

And you learn that every moment with a toddler is like a walking (or stumbling) comedy routine. That with each disaster that ensues, you fall more and more in love.

In short? Life with a toddler can best be summed up in these children’s book quotes:

The greatest secrets are always hidden in the most unlikely of places.” – Roald Dahl, Charlie and the Chocolate Factory.

Yes, this is certainly true. Like behind your couch or under your dining room table. When you’re potty training. And only after something starts to smell a bit funky.

“It’s been a terrible, horrible, no good, very bad day.” – Judith Viorst, Alexander and the Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day

The worst day ever, actually. All because you tried to rinse the yogurt out of your child’s hair. And the dog ate the chicken nugget your child threw at him. And the sun isn’t pink.

“Sometimes the questions are complicated and the answers are simple.” – Dr. Seuss

Like the middle of the night request for pizza. Or your child insisting on knowing why that man has a hat on. Or where the bird that was once in that tree, six months ago went now. You know, the real head-scratchers.

 

In short? Life with a toddler can best be summed up in these children’s book quotes:

The greatest secrets are always hidden in the most unlikely of places.” – Roald Dahl, Charlie and the Chocolate Factory

 

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Yes, this is certainly true. Like behind your couch or under your dining room table. When you’re potty training. And only after something starts to smell a bit funky.

“It’s been a terrible, horrible, no good, very bad day.” – Judith Viorst, Alexander and the Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day

The worst day ever, actually. All because you tried to rinse the yogurt out of your child’s hair. And the dog ate the chicken nugget your child threw at him. And the sun isn’t pink.

“Sometimes the questions are complicated and the answers are simple.” – Dr. Seuss

Like the middle of the night request for pizza. Or your child insisting on knowing why that man has a hat on. Or where the bird that was once in that tree, six months ago went now. You know, the real head-scratchers.

“I’ll love you forever, I’ll like you for always. As long as I’m living, my baby you’ll be.” – Robert Munsch, Love You Forever

With each tantrum and fit-of-unexplainable-rage, I’ll love you forever. With each repeated question or demand, I’ll love you forever. With each potty accident on the hardwood floor, I’ll love you forever.

And when this stage all feels like a distant memory, and you’ve presented even more parenting challenges for me, I’ll likely love you even harder – because as long as you’re living, baby, MY baby you’ll be.

Michelle Dempsey in Elite Daily

Visit Michelle Dempsey's Archive on Elite Daily, or read her latest, below!

How to Stay Friends With Someone Who Has Totally Different Political Views

Things are heating up. The drama is real, and so are the tensions. In fact, I don’t think I can recall observing this level of vitriol, insanity and hatred in a presidential election in my 14 years of voting adulthood.

It’s as entertaining as it is scary. Sometimes I have to remind myself: Holy shit, this is all really happening.

The truth is, the 2016 run for the presidency is more of a circus than I ever anticipated it could be. I knew it wouldn’t be pretty, but damn. And the opinions of the people — the regular, terrified, everyday citizens of this nation — seem to be on track towards a social media world war like we’ve never seen. There are countless Instagram pages dedicated to the support of the candidates, Facebook groups, Twitter trolls, all with the mission of making their voice heard while tearing down anyone else who tries to battle their favored candidate.

I have to admit, though, it has been quite refreshing to see how active this upcoming election has made the Millennial crew. I’m really glad there has been a politically fueled fire lit under the asses of these movers and shakers because these are the issues that matter. And as we all know, we the Millennial people have the ability to change the world.

I have friends on my side of the political fence. I also have friends on the other side of this fence. Hell, even my husband and I have opposing political views at this point. But one thing is for sure: I am NOT about to let all of this political anarchy ruin my relationships. I’m a business owner, and I would NEVER let my views affect my success at any cost.

At the end of the day, whatever is going to happen, is going to happen. I have made my presidential desires clear, I’ll keep my fingers crossed that my dreams come to fruition and, in the meantime, I plan on sitting back, not engaging in personal political conversations and continuing to mind my own damn business.

Unless you personally have hit the campaign trail in favor of a certain candidate, you may want to play the next few months on the safe side of things, ensuring to not damage friendships, file for divorce and/or back yourself into a corner of opinions and anger. Because nothing drives tensions and unhappy feelings more than a person you care about not being able to see and accept your point.

Simple example, I will never agree with my husband’s love of country music, but you don’t see me posting about why the sound of country music makes me want to drive sharp objects into my skull, do you?

I am not a political expert. I am not even that radically political. You don’t have to listen to me. But you can’t say I didn’t warn you.

These are my three ways to not lose friends during this election season:

1. Keep politics off your social feeds.

Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, LinkedIn, and for God’s sake, any dating app you are signed up for — unless you feel like telling the world you just voted and feel so damn patriotic because of that, there is no need for you to share your political views with your friends and family. Whether others make it clear to you or not, they could be extremely offended if you, say, endorse a candidate publicly who has personally offended a Facebook friend of yours with a racial slur or extreme declaration of nonsense. Politics and social media do not mix. Don’t do it.

2. Keep politics away from the dinner table.

Because nothing ruins a nice night out with friends faster than a heated conversation turned table-flipping argument faster than a comment like, “How could you actually LIKE that candidate?!” If you dare to swim these waters, I can guarantee you’ll never be dining with these people again. Politics is never a tasty side dish.

3. Think before you speak.

This is a tough one, even for me. I am full of thoughts — lots of thoughts at all times, wherever I go and whatever I’m doing. It’s taken me a long time and a lot of arguments to learn that my opinions about your choices, regardless of what they’re about, belong in my head and my head only, unless otherwise specified. Trust me, I’d love to tell you why voting for a certain candidate will drive our country straight into the ground, but I don’t, because you don’t care what I think. And what I think will not change the outcome, but I do think it could cost us our friendship.

So for now, I’ll keep my mouth shut, hope you choose to do the same and ride the wave of insanity for the next few months quietly. See you at the polls.

 

 

Michelle Dempsey in MindBodyGreen

This is the sexiest word in the English language.

I have a fascination with words. I'm verbose. I use all sorts of words to get my point across. I talk with my hands and I'm expressive to my core.

I'm a writer and a speaker. That's my thing.

But for years and years, there's one word that intimidated me to no end. I couldn't say it freely, let alone think of the using the word without breaking into an anxiety-induced pool of sweat.

It made my heart beat fast and my ears flush all sorts of hot. And not in a good way.

The word with so much power? The word my mouth held tight to as if it would cause me to unravel once letting go?

"No."

"No" makes you strong, and strong makes you sexy.

Two letters. So simple—yet so damn hard.

So, what the hell was the big deal? What was so difficult about saying the word NO when the need arose?

Well for me, for almost 30 years of my life—it was everything about the word.

Being raised in a broken home that required people-pleasing at all times didn't help. Neither did the fact that I was a product of this broken home, riddled with daddy issues and dying for acceptance at all costs. Suffering from an inner self-hatred so strong it caused me to do all sorts of things most young girls would balk at.

I'll spare you the details.

But then, somewhere down the line, I had a daughter. I had a little girl that I fell in love with so deeply, I became somewhat obsessed with making sure she could never feel the lack of self-confidence I suffered from my entire life. I became determined to build a strength within myself so that I could emulate all those strong female qualities I lacked for so long.

I became a peaceful warrior of female empowerment. And ironically, it all started with the word NO.

This word became my armor and shield, protecting me from anything that dared tread on my ability to live how I wanted to live. It became my guard against having to partake in anything I didn't believe in or that didn't bring me joy. It made me feel accomplished, self-assured, and sexy.

Sexy in that "I have full control of my happiness" kind of way.

So how can you adopt this word into your daily repertoire to help you feel sexier and more empowered?

Here are three scenarios in which those two little letters can make all the difference:

1. In business:

Whether you're in business for yourself or working for the (wo)man, I know you've said yes to a bunch of requests when you really felt like saying no. We're taught to comply, respect authority, and in the process, chip away at the strength we've built as adult beings. Maybe it was when you lowered your price just to snag that client. Or maybe it was when you got asked to cover more work on a group project than anyone else. This is when saying no will save you from losing time, money, a whole lot of sleep over a decision that impedes your ability to succeed and love what you do.

You know that saying, "No good deed goes unpunished"? You'll really understand it if you don't learn to say no—even to your boss.

2. In friendships:

This was a hard one for me. With friendships, I always found myself saying yes as a means to please, even if I was dying to scream NO at the top of my lungs. Being an empath, though, I knew how hard the word could sting, so I avoided using it in order to avoid conflict. I never wanted to be left out or thought of as the "difficult one." Because of this, I always ended up betraying myself and wasting hours of time when I would have been much happier doing anything else, even for the simplest of reasons.

Stop saying yes to plans because of a bad case of FOMO. Don't agree to dinner at a restaurant you hate. Don't agree to run an errand that will take you out of your way and cause you to miss something important in your own day. Your friends will respect you more for this, I promise. No one respects a doormat.

3. In love:

This was the most important area of my life to learn to say NO in. With all matters of the heart, it's only natural that we're torn between how we feel and what we know is right. Imagine how skewed this was for me, a broken girl desperate for love. I said yes to dates with men that I knew had bad intentions. I let myself get taken advantage of for the simple reason that I was scared to be left alone. This cost me time, innocence, money, and damaged what little self-confidence I had.

For goodness sakes, say no when it doesn't feel right. Say no when you feel uncomfortable or pressured. Say no to save yourself pain. Some men are like drugs—just say no.

And with all of the above, if you ever run into a situation where your heart is telling you no but you just can't muster up the courage to say it, take a look in the mirror. Remind yourself who matters most. Say the word "no" to yourself and watch the transformation. "No" makes you strong, and strong makes you sexy.

Michelle Dempsey in Huffington Post

The top 4 ways to turn life's sour lemons into the best damn lemonade

 

You know those major milestone moments that sneak up on you when you least expect it? The ones that, without warning, shake up everything in your life and leave you feeling like you somehow survived a category 5 hurricane

Welcome to my life.

But before you pass this off as an invitation to some pity party, allow me to introduce myself. I am Michelle Dempsey, content marketing strategist and entrepreneur, mother of a toddler, and all around grab-life-by-the-balls enthusiast.

You should know that I welcome chaos with open arms.

In my short 33 years on this planet, I can confidently liken my existence to that of a tornado chaser. While I may not necessarily be actively searching for the next impending disaster, I somehow find my way into it — whether I like it or not — bracing for impact like some sort of expert, every single time.

And then you know what happens? After each set back, heartbreak, road bump and lightweight existential crisis? Each time I think I couldn’t possibly pick up myself up off the ground, yet again, and pull another empowered reinvention out of my sleeve?

My lemonade stand reopens for the season — and I start pumping out juice by the gallon.

It’s like I have this little, teeny, tiny Tony Robbins living inside my soul that screams, “Don’t let them see you sweat, you strong, gorgeous, accomplished woman. Get up and keep it moving.”

So, that’s exactly what I do.

As fate would have it, and as my story so predictably goes, I just found myself in yet another sour situation. With this setback, it seemed as if more lemons than ever arrived at my front door step. Actually, if I’m being totally transparent, it’s as if the universe decided to chuck a whole case of them, at my head, all at once.

I’ll spare you the details — all you need to know is this was a real earth-shattering occurrence.

Should I be crying on my bathroom floor screaming, “WHY ME?!” through gasping sobs? Yes.

Will I be doing that? No way.

Here’s what I’ll be doing instead to ensure that this new batch of lemonade is my sweetest yet.

1. Love

Self-love, that is. There is no greater time for self-love than when you’re feeling down and out. It may sound counter-productive, to love yourself and make yourself happy when all you feel is anything but, however, I swear by this approach to getting over whatever it is that causes your woes. For me, I make sure to engage in at least one activity per day that makes me so ridiculously happy, that I have no choice but to smile. You can’t be happy with or around anyone else until you truly learn to meet your own needs and put yourself in charge of your happiness factor — so start self-loving, asap.

Watch that show you’ve been dying to watch, with your cell phone powered off. Treat yourself to a massage, a little time on the beach, wine on the couch in your sweats on a Saturday night. Do what YOU need for you, not for anyone else. Nothing feels better than knowing you gave your soul exactly what you needed — it’s like an extra spoon of sugar in the lemonade.

2. Move

If you’re not already exercising, this is the perfect time to test the whole “endorphins make you happy” concept. They do — trust me. If you’re in a situation that has hurt your heart or damaged your spirit, get physical. At any given moment, you can find me taking my aggression out, er, I mean, working through the pain on a kickboxing bag. And when I’m not doing that, I take my cardio sessions outdoors — for fresh air and sunshine to cure me of what would otherwise make me want to cry. Getting stronger while staying healthy and moving past my issues? Yes, please. I didn’t want to have to say it, but looking good really does feel like the best revenge — not necessarily against the person who hurt you, but against the situation that brought you down. It’s almost like a giant middle finger to the universe. Whose lemonade is sweetest now, universe?!

3. Say Thank You

We could also call this step the one of forgiveness, which is always the hardest one for me. It truly is. But as you’ve heard a million times before, you cannot move on from a situation, whether brought on by a person or an unfortunate event, until you make peace with it. For me, this has always helped me shift my train of thought from “WHY ME” to “Thank you, Universe!”. You see, I’ve been through enough setbacks and hard times to know that these things, as awful as they may be, certainly happen for a reason. Your heart breaks only to heal and grow stronger. Your body seems to fail you only to rebound and surprise you with its strength. You lose what you once loved so deeply to learn the true power of love, what it brings to your soul and to make space for more of it in your life.

So, for whatever it was that just chucked the lemons your way, thank the messenger, make your peace, and move on. The sweetest batch of juice is around the corner.

4. Act as If

Fake it ’til you make it. Smile through the pain. Whatever you have to do, just get up and do it. The world doesn’t stop turning just because you fell flat on your face. Your job still needs you. Your family still needs you. Bills still need to be paid, and quite simply, you still need to breathe.

My tried and true strategy for turning lemons into lemonade? Act as if.

Act as if you’re happier than ever. Act as if you’re ready for the next unknown adventure heading your way. Act as if you are more ready than you’ve ever been to take life on. Act as if you have already found your strength.

It’s in there — you’re still breathing, aren’t you?

Bottoms up!

Michelle Dempsey is the owner and founder of content marketing firm Michelle Dempsey, Very Well-Written, and female networking group, Profemmes. She is also a mommy, a wife, and a proud #girlgang supporter.

The Top 3 Reasons Why Your Business Needs a Blog

The Top 3 Reasons Why Your Business Needs a Blog

To put it simply? You have something to say – you just may not know it yet. If you are a new business owner, a wildly successful business owner, or even just thinking of starting your own business, it’s safe to assume that you have a service to provide that you feel very strongly about. What good is all of that if you’re relying on marketing tactics that don’t necessarily take your voice, ideas, and sweat-producing hustle you engaged in to get this business off the ground?

That’s where a business blog comes in. Any business worth their salt is jumping on the blog bandwagon not just for the aforementioned reason. There’s a magic associated with projecting your voice in the way of a strategically-crafted, professionally-written, regularly-posted blogs.

1. TRAFFIC
As an ex-New Yorker, I can safely say – the only traffic I enjoy is web traffic. And with blogs about your business? You’re in the money, because every time you post a new blog (no matter what it’s about), you’re adding one more indexed page on your site, which means you have a much greater chance of showing up in search engines, and you know what that means…

2. Better search results = more business!
It doesn’t take Mark Cuban to figure out that the more your business gets noticed, the more successful it’ll be. It’s common sense – more views lead to better results. Take me for example – one blog turned into two, two turned into twenty-five, and before I knew it, major publications were asking ME to write for them!

3. It helps secure a sense of power.
Because knowledge equals power. Because the more you share the knowledge of your industry in professionally-written blog posts, the more you establish your authority and credibility in your sector and amongst your competitors. Because the more you establish authority, the more sought-out you’ll be. The more business you’ll secure. The more money you can charge. The happier you’ll be. You see where I’m going with this?

So let’s recap, class. Why do businesses need professionally-written blog posts? Traffic, business growth, and power. Now what can be better than that?

I can’t wait to help you get there. Let’s get you very well-written.