Well, I’ve officially been back in California for four months.
Let me just say it’s been an adventure.
And is part of me taking a step back.
I won’t bore you with all the details, but here’s a little gist of how the first few months went:
- I returned to some crazy cold weather and snow like we hadn’t seen here before. I officially don’t like the cold anymore and was pretty miserable (I know, #firstworldproblems).
- I got sick a couple of weeks in, and with the weather, that seemed to stick around for a few weeks.
- I was still healing from my back surgery last October
- I had to adjust to living with someone else… who is pretty chatty. Once my Dad got it in his head that I was working and not to come in and chat with me throughout the day, things seemed to flow
- A few weeks ago, I ended up with Shingles… my first time getting them, and fortunately, it wasn’t a bad case. The pain is still there but lessening every day.
Those are just the niggly things that came up all while trying to adjust to life back in the States.
I’ve had a few a-ha moments as well, which is what I’d like to focus on with this episode as I share the future of the podcast (I never intended to take four months off!), what’s been born out of this unplanned little sabbatical of mine, and why I’m incredibly excited about the rest of this year.
My original thought in moving back to the States was that since I was moving back, I might as well stay in Northern California, where all my family & many of my friends are. Then I wasn’t so sure.
I’m staying at my Dad’s right now (he’s got a pretty big house and has loved the company since my Mom passed away) and had thought I’d be here 3-4 months tops. My Dad is about an hour southeast of Lake Tahoe and about an hour from Sacramento, in a cute little remote town. It kind of feels like Tahoe up here, and he has an acre of property with plenty of pine trees.
While it’s beautiful, one of the things I was looking forward to in coming back was the conveniences, which isn’t necessarily the case being this far out. Mind you; everything is much more convenient than it was in Costa Rica.
Then I went to Costco on a busy Saturday afternoon with my Dad and realized that, holy hell…this was not for me either.
Don’t get me wrong, I love Costco, but having worked for myself for the last 15 years, I haven’t really needed to go on a weekend in a long time, and I always wear AirPods and listen to something while I shop.
I was so overstimulated by the time we left (and then went to a huge nursery, which was also incredibly busy) that I could have skipped dinner and just gone home.
It was definitely a case of “been there, done that’ – meaning suburbia and the big box retailers. I have zero judgment about it for anyone else, but I’ve realized it’s not for me.
I keep joking that “Costa Rica broke me.” 🤣
What’s more accurate is that I think it helped me find a more natural rhythm for myself.
I miss the ease, the energy, and the way of life.
I’m planning a trip back in October, and my new goal is to be able to go back and forth between California and Costa Rica. I don’t know what that looks like yet, but that’s the plan.
I’m also at an age where my health is a huge priority – and the truth is I physically felt better in Costa Rica. However, I do appreciate having healthcare in the States again. Even though it’s cheaper in Costa Rica, there’s something to be said for what we have here (and for the sake of all our sanity, we won’t talk about the cost of healthcare here).
This is why I think going back and forth would be ideal.
Who knows, maybe I’ll just put a tiny house on my Dad’s property.
For now, though, I’m content where I’m at.
Plus, the thought of moving again makes me cringe. The nice thing about being here and figuring things out is that my Dad loves the dogs, and they can stay here with him when I travel (they’re never getting on a plane again, I think that was too traumatizing for all of us).
It’s been nice to be here for the family, and my Dad’s health is much better (that was a big part of why I came back). I’ve been able to see everyone and be there for special moments (my niece’s prom and high school graduation), and I am looking forward to seeing more friends this summer.
All with the ultimate goal to go back and forth, ideally following the warmer weather (it’s been lovely having the longer sunlight at night – it gets dark in Costa Rica by about 6 pm every night, all year long).
Now that you’re caught up, let’s jump into the business and where things are heading.
I’ve been working on a site revamp with the amazing KadenceWP, which I love (theme and block builder for WP using only Gutenberg, this thing is FIRE 🔥), and while doing that decided I wanted to revamp the copy and messaging on my website as well.
My four areas of focus are:
- AI & Marketing
I’ve been talking about email marketing for a while now, newsletters for the last couple of years, and yes, I’ve completely gone down the rabbit hole with AI & ChatGPT.
Love it or hate it (AI), it’s here to stay.
With this revamp of my website and messaging, I decided to use ChatGPT to help me craft the copy and dial in my offers. Because of this, I figured I might as well do this as a “build in public” and share the journey. I started a new newsletter called “The AI Marketing Chronicles,” where I’m sharing how I’m crafting this.
I share the purpose behind that week’s lesson as well as the entire ChatGPT conversation thread so you can see how everything progressed. This has kept me motivated to keep the project moving and continue with my own AI and ChatGPT education (which can be hard because it’s all moving so fast).
The AI haters seem to be getting quieter (or I’m just curating my feed better). The thing I think a lot of people are missing is that you don’t have to pivot your entire business or business model to use AI in a way that serves you (I recently spent two days writing a 4500-word blog post with ChatGPT).
Even with writing a newsletter and including AI tools and resources in “the SPARK,” – I can’t keep up with it. I pretty much stick with ChatGPT right now because it does everything I need. My goal isn’t to become an AI or ChatGPT expert; it’s to use these tools in a way that supports what I’m doing.
That being said, I’ve done a bunch of 1:1 ChatGPT coaching sessions (Chat Powered Strategy Sessions), have a workshop called “Conversations with ChatGPT: A Beginner’s Guide to AI Success,” and am about to launch a course teaching people how to create and launch a course in 30 days with ChatGPT.
I’m getting back to more frequent emailing, and I’m having a ball.
Between my personal brand and Create It (the content planner), there are three newsletters that get sent out every week. Tues, Wed., and Thursday.
I know there are overlaps with people being on all three lists, and there may be days when people get more than one email from me, but I’m trying to avoid that.
I was using Klaviyo for Create It, but with a little shift in plans for that brand, I don’t think we need something that is as tailored to e-commerce, so I canceled that and am moving that list to ConvertKit. We have our newsletter on beehiiv (which I LOVE).
I figure it’s better to use what I’m familiar with and will actually use than spend time trying to get Klaviyo where it needs to be.
The biggest priority now for both email and newsletters is to make sure we have a consistent process in place (and when I say “we,” I mean me & my tiny effective team).
The other piece of this is making sure we have the right distribution and promotion schedule in place for all three newsletters.
That’s a lot of content that can and should be driving traffic to both brands.
I’ve also started focusing more on newsletter growth (novel idea, I know) with ConvertKit’s Creator Network and doing some newsletter swaps. So far, so good.
I’ll share some numbers when I have more data (probably after three months or so).
It’s also been a few months since changing the name of my newsletter from #FtheHUSTLE to the SPARK – and it’s been fantastic. That was such an organic process (the name change), and it’s led to so much more. It all stemmed from asking my subscribers a question.
Never underestimate the power of asking questions, surveying your audience, and getting feedback.
Podcast & Content Marketing
As much as I’ve missed doing the podcast, I was also feeling a little burnt out.
I knew I needed some sort of pivot or change to the podcast, but I wasn’t sure what that looked like.
Now that I’m finally feeling settled, the weather has gotten warmer, and I’m physically feeling better (my back is SO much better, not to mention I’ve had my fair share of regular medical checkups, and all is well) – I feel a renewed sense of excitement and clarity in my business.
I’ve said this before, and I’ll continue saying it as long as I’m alive…
Clarity in business (and life) comes through the doing.
Can we get clearer on what we want by thinking? Sure, but it’s hard to define that without actually putting some skin in the game and taking action.
Because the first few months back in the States were more challenging than I had expected, I knew my only priority was taking care of myself.
Which I did (and am doing).
With this new sense of enthusiasm, I’m 100% ready to breathe some new life into the podcast.
I’m going to continue with the same format (solo shows and interviews) but will be bringing on some new voices. I’ve connected with a lot of new people this past year and would like to use my platform to help them get their message out.
I’ll also include some shorter episodes (both the solo show and interviews are between 45 – an hour) that focus on one specific idea, concept, or strategy. I haven’t come up with a name for those shorter episodes, but they’ll definitely be named something unique.
I’m also testing a couple of new AI tools for podcasting (primarily for show format, time stamps, and social content), so I’ll share an update once I’ve spent some more time with those. I don’t know how much I’ll use them for the solo shows since I write these full episodes out first (who knows where this conversation would go otherwise), but they’ve got some amazing features for interviews.
I’m also planning to publish the video episodes on YouTube.
But more on that later.
I have a couple of interviews I recorded before I left Costa Rica, so I plan on getting those out first. I’m also going to run a giveaway to celebrate the relaunch of the podcast. The goal is to get that launched in July and run it for at least a month.
Business in General
The past nine months have been a lot.
It was last August when I was diagnosed with a herniated disc. A month later, I had surgery in a foreign country, no less ( I have no doubt the surgery was done great, but the hospital felt a bit like it was stuck in the 1950s), and then there was the move back.
My income has definitely taken a hit, but that’s life.
I’ve been in this space long enough to know that we all have ups and downs, AND… you can also turn things around very quickly.
When you have a brand, an audience, and an email list, it doesn’t take much to get back on track (yes, that’s my not-so-subtle hint to make email marketing a priority).
I have some pretty ambitious goals that I’d like to attain by the end of 2023.
I know that with focus (which I have) and consistent action, these goals are achievable. Plus, I’ve thrown in a couple of exciting personal goals that have me more excited than I’ve been in years.
This is exactly what goals should do…
If you’re not excited about your goals, they might be too small.
Speaking of ambitious goals…
I want to recommend a book I recently listened to that lit something up within me – and was the catapult to this excitement, energy, and action.
The funny thing about this book is that I got it last year and started listening to it on and off when I was in Costa Rica.
I don’t remember why I didn’t finish it (I spent way less time in the car there, which is where I tend to listen most to audiobooks), but I picked it up again on a recent road trip back from Lincoln City, Oregon (it was about a 10-hour drive, so fortunately, I was able to listen to the entire book in one day.
One of the exercises he has you do (which you should totally do) is writing a letter from your future self.
About a week after I got home, I sat down and wrote this letter to myself, dated Dec. 31st, 2023.
The letter started off with, “GIRL! You are not going to believe what we have achieved this year!
That should give you an idea of the tone of the letter.
I hand-wrote the letter in a journal, and it just poured out of me (I typed it up later and am going to record it in my own voice so I can listen to it in the morning and at night).
And like anything else, one thing led to another, and now I’m listening to the book he co-wrote with Dan Sullivan (this is their 3rd book together), titled “10X is Easier Than 2X.”
Which isn’t about hustling and doing more. It’s doing more of the right thing and less of the same thing.
Pretty powerful stuff.
There’s a lot more I want to share with you that I’m working on behind-the-scenes, but it will have to wait until next time.
If you’ve been a long-time listener and are still here, thank you if you’re new to the podcast, Welcome.