More Than 1 way to Skin a Landing Page

there’s an old saying, “There’s more than 1 way to skin a cat.” Of course, I’m not into skinning cats, but it’s a really good saying to keep in mind. I tell my students about it a lot.

I have been thinking about this saying a lot recently. I have been experiencing a bit of frustration trying to create a landing page for my new practice group. I wrote the sales copy and showed it to a couple of people. A colleague was kind enough to give me some feedback. One thing he said was that I shouldn’t ask so many yes/no questions, and should give more of the benefits instead of telling people the features of the group. Okay, great advice. But so many other successful folks have pages similar to what I wrote, with yes/no questions and feature lists. I don’t get it! How am I supposed to ever get this off the ground? I’ll never get this marketing stuff right! You know, the standard frustration stuff.

Then, as I was looking through my email this morning, a colleague of mine posted in an FB group with a yes/no question. And it occurred to me. Why have I been operating under the assumption that there is only 1 way to write a landing page? Some say it should be this way, and they’re successful. Others say it should be that way, and they’re successful. So what if there is more than 1 way to skin a landing page? What if There is more than 1 solution to the problem? Talk about a weight lifting off my shoulders! Yes, the page will need some changes. It will probably never be perfect or as good as some of the gurus. But, well, as long as it does the job… So, onward and forward. Let’s skin this landing page!

Lessons Learned from Cooking on a Work-day

Okay, so I know it’s been like forever since I’ve posted. Sorry about that. The business took off for a while and I felt like I was running just to catch myself, or my students, not sure which. LOL Anyway, Thanks to a business coach I’m now working with, and by the grace of God, I’m working on some new ideas. I’ve already tested some of them, and I’m refining them little by little. Now I understand better how software developers feel.

I’ve also discovered that I’ve got a minor, and temporary, health issue that has been causing some fatigue and contributing to my stress and feelings of guilt and inadequacy. One of the ways to combat this issue is to build in more relaxing time. So, today, when I should have been recording student podcasts and updating records, I was making egg salad. Egg salad is one of those fun dishes where you can play around and experiment. as long as you don’t forget the primary ingredient… eggs.

The blasted task took, like, four hours. But I learned some lessons in the mean-time. Firstly, I learned some valuable ways to speed up the process next time. For example, mixing up the sour cream or mayonnaise and spices while the eggs are boiling. This part can be refrigerated until you are ready for it. So maybe I should start thinking this creatively about my work systems. How can I get one thing processing and work on another? Good question.

The second lesson I learned was that cooking, while I felt unproductive in business terms, is very relaxing for me. I had forgotten. I really need to focus on this hobby and one or two others. I feel so refreshed after those four hours that I don’t mind the fact that I’ll have to sacrifice part of my Sunday afternoon to get some work done. Seriously. After feeling burnt out and so ready for my up-coming vacation, I now feel like I can tackle a strategy or two before the break.

Who knew that the gurus were right about relaxing in the middle of work. Corporate culture makes us feel so guilty for not packing in every little thing we can get done in a day. And so many fellow entrepreneurs put me to shame when it comes to productivity. but, hey, it’s not my fault so many things take longer for me to get done. so long as I do my best, and remember to relax,; well, that just has to be good enough. God grant that I will be able to make this mindset shift permanent. It’s so freeing. Next step: stop reading business and teaching books when I walk the dog.

Emoticons, stickers, and graphics! Oh my!

The way of things.

Everyone is using Emoticons these days. Everyone’s using graphics and now stickers. Students send Smilies with their messages; just this morning I got one with a thank you. Now, the good thing is that my screen readers on my phone and computer will read these out to me with a basic description of what the facial expression is. But sometimes the descriptions are confusing. For example, “face with tears of joy.” A lot of people use this one. But what exactly does it mean? Or the “flower that some have sent me on Skype? I really had to research that one. But going back to the “face with tears of joy.” So, does this mean they’re really happy? People don’t always cry when they’re happy. Does the actual graphic show tears? Arg. Just say what you feel. It would make my life so much easier. But, yeah, I know. It’s not all about me.

The really frustrating ones are the stickers and graphics. Thankfully, some stickers are being made with alt tags, (labels that are read by screen readers). But not in WiChat. So, what do I do. Well, I don’t want to make a big thing about not being able to see them,so I just ignore them. No use in forcing them to forget about stickers. Just don’t expect me to send them.

The graphics now. Those are what stump me. Someone said in a webinar the other day that “We all think in images.” Um, no, not exactly. Or do we? In thinking about it, I guess I do. I think in objects, not pictures. So, instead of my mental eyes seeing an image, my mental hands are feeling objects, my mental feet are walking down streets, and so on. Generally, I can conceptualize visual things, like the idea of captivating images, creating something to catch the eye, etc. But deciding exactly what is possibly going to to catch someone’s eye is hard when my eyes have never been caught.

So what am I gonna do? Well, I’m thinking on seeking help from students needing practical experience, a subject for another post. I’m thinking about apps that could help, such as “beMyEyes, a great app using volunteers to see for you. And for the concept part, I’m thinking about the fact of what catches my ear. For example, anything employing the sound of Irish/Scottish bagpipes stops me in my tracks. Why? Because I love Celtic music, and it makes me notice when I hear those sounds. So what do English learners care about? What would stop them in their tracks? What, within the scope of what I can do, would catch their notice and show them that I want to help? *Insert hashtag “food for thought.”* LOL See, I can use emoticons. I just don’t think of it much.

Weird is as weird does.

Who’d have thought?

I didn’t want to be a teacher. No, really. When I was a lass, the idea of being a teacher was a serious no way. I thought being a teacher meant teaching kids all day like my own teachers did. Don’t get me wrong, I’ve nothing against kids. Their cute, even adorable, especially my brother’s. But I just don’t have patience for dealing with a classroom full of them.

But in my early 20s, I discovered the wild, wooly, and wonderful world of teaching adults. Now being a teacher didn’t seem like such a terrible idea. I thought I had learned the lesson that I should never say never with God. Nope, not so much. When I finally launched a career, I didn’t want to teach grammar. It seemed too hard, too complicated. But nearly 3 years later, guess what I dream of launching? Yup, a grammar site: CoffeeCupGrammarCoach.com, a website dedicated to conquering the grammar monster. I also remember the first client who really wanted me to teach idioms, and the first client who wanted to focus on phrasal verbs. No, please, not that! Guess what. After praying for more guidance on a teaching niche, um, I want to teach idioms, phrasal verbs, and other slang. LOL It is to laugh.

But that’s how my life seems to go. If one had told me as a child that I’d be an English teacher teaching online and still living in the States as opposed to Ireland or Scotland, I’d have said “No way. You’re crazy!” But, that’s exactly what I am. It’s the same with other areas. If one had told me even 6 years ago that I’d be loving the guide dog lifestyle with its myriad challenges, I’d have been skeptical. I don’t even mind cleaning up after the big galoot. Well, not much.

Like I wrote in my first post. this blog is a sort of journal. And as I mentally explore and become more excited about where I want to take the business, I just have to chuckle a little about the times I wanted to say “Never.” And remember, I used to think I’d never write a blindness-related blog. Hmm. Well… And that’s the life of Holly.

Thanks, I needed that.

A day to Remember

Yesterday was a great day. I mean, it didn’t start out so well, with the rain pouring down. I really hate walking in the rain, and I had an appointment to meet my friend at my old university to help her take care of some things in case the language barrier gave her issues, and to take care of some things of my own; looking for a job for one.

Anyway, one of the first things I did was pray that the rain would slack off before we had to go walking around anywhere. Not only did it slack off, it stopped altogether. That lasted until after I got back home. My first stop was the Star-Bucks on campus. I love coffee, and so that’s where I was going to meet up with my friend. As i was getting ready to pull out my birthday gift card, a random lady sitting at one of the tables asked if she could pay for my drink. What? Really? Thank you, Lord.

It didn’t end there, and the blessings weren’t all mine. My friend found out she didn’t have to retake the TOEFL, (Test of English as a Foreign Language). It’s a hard test, so the fact that she doesn’t have to retake it is really great. I was able to pass the word about my website to some people who might send some business my way. And finally, a birthday present came from my sister-in-law, and it was something I’ve been wanting for a long time.

So why is this post titled this way? Well, because it’s true. I needed a day like yesterday. Things have been really frustrating lately, and I am still figuring out what to do. The bible says in Psalms 23, “Thou preparest a table for me in the midst of my enemies (KJV). Some interpret it literally, but I tend to think it means that he puts good things in the middle of the bad. Yesterday was my table. And all I can do is say “Thank You.”

The Ideal Dilemma

What’s to do?

What’s to do when following the sage advice of all the gurus seems like a full-time job in and of itself? What’s to do when your ideal customer doesn’t neatly fit into the avatar you worked so hard at constructing? Seriously, what’s to do?

this particular frustration has been simmering for quite a while, threatening to boil over from time to time. And now it seems to have actually happened. I feel like I’m never going to get this ideal customer thing right. So why’s that?

The simple answer is that I’ve never been normal, in tastes, habits, etc. Why expect that I could be a normal marketer? The more complicated answer is that I’ve never been one thing or the other. What do I mean by that? Well, if you do a little research, you find that people generally think either with their right or their left brains. Me, I tend to think with both. I’m really good at following patterns and rules, but I’m most comfortable if I can tweet most of them just a little to fit my own needs. I’m also really creative, thinking of idea after idea, but I’m so analytical about my ideas, especially in business, that I think them to literal death. Ug.

this carries over when I’m trying to settle on exactly who my ideal customer is. I like people, and I like helping people. This extends to helping different kinds of people, from young folks in their 20s to retirees in their 60s and 70s. I seem to even be somewhat gifted at helping kids. Maybe because part of me never grew up.

So there’s the rub. I like people and don’t want to leave them out. I am versatile in my interactions. It’s easier for me to say who I don’t want to attract than it is for me to settle on who I’m trying to attract. Add that to the pressure of bills that have to be paid, and grabbing my head in frustration seems like a great option at the moment. But like I said in the last post, I’ve got to “rise and fight another day.” So here goes. Maybe it’ll finally snap into place. Maybe I’ll just inch closer to the mark. But I’ve got to get there some day.

And it Begins

What, a blindness blog?

Well, the journey begins. If you had told me even a month ago that I’d be starting a blog like this, I’d have said you were nuts, crazy, etc. “There’s no way,” I would have thought. Why? Because I don’t like making a thing out of my blindness. It isn’t my identity. I wasn’t raised to let it define me. But nor was I raised to be ashamed of it. It was simply a thing: a thing that affected all or most aspects of my life, and a thing that did much to shape who I am, but only a thing. But here I am, and here you are. So here we go.

then who am I? The author name shows you that I’m Holly. The biography shows you that I’m a Christian, a guide dog user, and a singer. But just like all of us, I’ve got layers, (Schreck reference intended). Don’t worry. I won’t stretch out your agony, I mean coffee break, by uncovering them all.

I was born blind due to a genetic disease. I can see a small amount of light, but not enough to distinguish natural from artificial brightness. I used a white cane until my late 20s, when I got a beautiful and quirky guide dog. While not a cane-hater, I don’t think I’ll ever want to go back. A cane never made me feel on top of the world. I found the joy of a life in Christ at the age of 12, though I’d been raised in a Christian home from the beginning.

When I grew up , it took years to decide on a career. During my Batchelor of Arts studies, I did a summer internship as an English tutor for an organization helping refugees in my area. I had no idea what I was doing, but with the kind help of the teachers, and the patience of the students, not to mention the grace of God, I muddled through. And I loved it; absolutely loved it. So later, when it was really high time I decided what to do with my life, I went back to school for an M.A. in Linguistics, with a specialization in teaching English as a Second language.

After school, I had to enter the real world. Because of lack of experience, ineptitude at filling out applications, and other factors, finding a job proved difficult. Then I stumbled on the live stream of an ESL class that was being taught online. Wow! Really! That’s a thing? Wo. I could do this. I could really do this. Providing, of course, that the software was accessible with a screen reader. Unfortunately, that company was in the process of folding at the time I applied, but it directed my search to locate and apply with companies delivering online classes.

I remember the day I got my first job. I was in the vet’s office getting a little lump on my guide dog’s ear checked out. The same day I found out he didn’t have cancer was the same day I got that email. Talk about a red letter day. Next month, it will have been 3 years since that wonderful email. I have since been bitten by the business bug and started my own teaching website, thus the journey into entrepreneurship. Being an entrepreneur is challenging at best, and comes with some unique quirks and pitfalls when you can’t see.

Even so, this blog is not a blog about all the challenges and how they can paralyze me at times. It isn’t even a blog about blindness. It’s a blog about faith, hope, love, and life. Faith in a God who caries me through and is patient when I don’t recognize it. Hope that there is a way forward, even if it’s just taking 1 step. Love for what I do and who I have around me. And life that is just as full of ups and downs as any other person out there. And in a way that I can’t explain, it is part of finding the strength to rise and fight another day; because faith, hope, love, and life are worth fighting for. It’s kind of a journal and a place to be a little bit real. Hopefully when I am real, it will bring some good to others. It’s a journey, and I am privileged that you want to take it with me. Here I am, and here you are. So here we go.