The title of this episode is click bait. The reason why it’s click bait is because whenever someone comes to me and they say that their messaging isn’t clear enough, it’s rarely a simple fix.
Meaning, even if we rearrange the words you use or the combination of sentences you decide to use as your messaging, it often doesn’t help the person feel like their messaging is clear enough.
I want to use this post as a chance for us to look closely at this topic of how to have clear enough messaging or how to work on your messaging. To start, I will share my own evolution of my messaging in 2021.
If you follow me on Instagram, you may or may not have noticed a few distinct phases of my messaging, which are the messages I share over and over again and center my business and brand around.
Here’s how my messaging evolved throughout the year.
I positioned my business and marketing for my offers around this message for the first half of 2021 because that was what I was doing for myself, and I was starting to see my clients create big results like 5k months.
At that time, it made a lot of sense to me to create content around this, to share a lot of social proof that showcases client results like these, and talk about my own business journey as a case study in terms of how I’m creating a full-time income on part-time hours.
I also talked a lot about being a side hustler during this time, because I wanted to be an example to other side hustlers who want to create a business on top of their 9-5 that out earns their 9-5 salary.
This made sense during that time as my identity was strongly tied to being a PhD student or side hustler.
Being a side hustler was something that really resonated with me personally and I wanted to be an example for other high achievers who want to excel in multiple careers, including your business and your typical career or job.
By August, I shifted my messaging quite a bit because at this time, the pandemic was really starting to make me question a lot of things about my life and career.
Because of strict travel restrictions and border control and quarantine rules in Hong Kong as well as certain rules within the PhD program, I have not been able to go to Singapore to see my boyfriend since February 2020.
I also haven’t seen other loved ones like my grandparents since pre-pandemic as well. By August 2021, that marked the 18th month of not seeing my boyfriend, and honestly, it was getting really difficult for me emotionally.
That’s when I started to think: You know what, after my PhD is done, I can choose to go full-time into the business if I wanted to. To help myself cope more with not being able to see my loved ones, I started to shift my thoughts to look at the situation in a different way.
I started to focus on how even though right now things feel hard, at least I have the option to go full-time into the business later on. Whether I want to continue with academia and continue to be a side hustler, or go full-time into my coaching business, I was increasingly aware of how my business now has created options for me.
By September, my boyfriend was finally able to visit me in Hong Kong and that two weeks together made me deeply question my original plan of becoming an academic later on.
Given so many uncertainties and restrictions that are just a natural part of any career or traditional job, I started to think deeply about what really matters most to me in life, and how the business might allow me to be more present for those things in my life that really matter to me.
Then the boyfriend left Hong Kong on September 26 2021, after we spent 14 days together, and that sparked the next iteration of my messaging.
This was my messaging throughout October and November because of two key reasons:
1) I noticed that because I was doing the bare minimum in my business, that has allowed me to still be present for my PhD and career, as well as make time for other areas of life.
2) My anxiety was at an all time high after my boyfriend left and went back to Singapore. During those two weeks we spent together, it really felt like the best two weeks of my life and all of a sudden, after he left, it honestly just felt really really hard.
In October, because things felt harder than before his visit, I decided to apply for a leave of absence from my PhD from December to June 2022.
By this point in time, I started to really truly recognize that right now, career no longer feels like the priority for me. The people are what matters to me the most, so I decided to literally pause my PhD career and go for an unpaid leave of absence.
I took the leave for a number of reasons:
1) to see people who I haven’t seen for nearly two years
2) a mental health break, because it was getting really hard for me to continue working on my PhD.
Showing up for the business still felt easy and if anything, I felt a flame reignite even further for the business despite my heightened anxiety. Now more than ever, I deeply believe in the impact of creating a business.
If it wasn’t for the business, taking an unpaid leave of absence and pausing my career for 7 months would not have been feasible or possible at all.
I’m starting to truly recognize how a business can not only change the lives of your clients and the people who find value from your work, but it can also change your own life.
That’s why I actually was able to show up even more authentically and powerfully for my business, despite emotionally struggling with other parts of my life such as my anxiety and working on my PhD.
I talked a lot about how in order to build a business that allows me to still show up for my career and other parts of my life, I do the bare minimum number of things in my business but I do each thing really, really well. This is the premise behind the Cheryl Theory framework.
It’s super interesting because I literally did not even acknowledge that I was doing this throughout 2021 because I was giving more attention to other messages such as full-time income on part-time hours or creating options in life.
But when I really thought about it, I was thinking, how am I doing this? How am I creating a business that lets me have options? That makes a full-time income on part-time hours? That lets me make time for other parts of my life including career and people? That’s when I realized it’s because I do the bare minimum in my business. Like, literally.
That’s when I had another realization that one of the most common questions I get from my clients and followers is, “Cheryl, how do you do it? How do you make time for business and career and life? How do you manage your time and balance it all?”.
If you look at my podcast or Instagram content up until this point, I’ve done very little content that answers this question. Because up till now, I thought “I don’t know. I guess I just do it?“. I brushed off the question because I thought this was just something that came naturally to me, and I wasn’t really sure how I can answer this question in a helpful way for others.
Well, if there’s something that a lot of ppl are asking you about, that’s a damn good sign that is what you need to be talking about and helping people with!
Because something comes naturally to you, that is exactly the reason why you’re the right person to help others with it.
And it’s literally my responsibility to figure out how I’ve been able to do it so I can help others. Avoiding the question isn’t going to help anyone.
If I have a skill or process that can clearly help others, it’s really my responsibility to do the work on my end to reverse engineer what I’ve been able to do so I can help others.
And this is exactly how the Cheryl Theory webinar came into existence.
A lot of things happened outside of my business which led me to pivot my messaging. From applying for a 7 month unpaid leave of absence, to me and my boyfriend deciding to get married during this leave of absence, to dealing with increasing anxiety because of so many moving pieces and uncertainties in my life, such as the boyfriend and I will still be doing a long distance relationship even after we get married in February 2022.
A lot was happening.
But the reason why my business is still creating amazing value and changing my clients’ lives and businesses is because of my own framework, which is doing the bare minimum but doing each thing really well.
Honestly, I was pretty convinced that this was it. Like this would be the angle I thought I’d create my thought leadership content around. I still resonate deeply with this messaging and it’s still exactly how I run my business. However, something very recently happened and my messaging changed once again.
In early to mid December, my dad was finally able to make a trip to see his parents (my grandparents) who live in Vancouver, Canada. Covid, travel restrictions and work made it really difficult for him to go see them. And I was so happy when I found out he’s finally able to see his parents, because I know how it felt to be finally able to see my dad in the past two years since the pandemic started.
Because since February 2020, I actually only saw my dad two times, because he lives in mainland China for work reasons. In the past almost two years, he only got to come home two times, and that wasn’t easy for me, my dad or my mom. So you can probably imagine how happy I was when he said he’s going to Vancouver.
But then he told me he’s literally only there for five days. Not even one week. Just five days. After not being able to see his parents, he could only create five days to see his parents who are not getting any younger. My grandfather is in his early 90s.
The hardest part for me to wrap my head around this whole thing was before my dad flew to Vancouver, which was two weeks now as of this post. He said that this might be the last time he ever sees them again.
That broke me and I’ve cried a lot over this. Even right now my eyes are getting teary. This particular event changed everything for me.
For my entire life, I grew up with messaging from those around me, including my dad, society, culture, school, and it’s been ingrained in me that career comes first. Success comes first. Hard work comes first.
I really believed in the narrative that it is my responsibility to be successful and work hard in school so I can create a successful career. Those were literally all I cared about up until around age 24, when I dropped out of law school.
For 24 years of my life, I told myself the narrative that career, success, and hard work is what defines me and my self worth and that’s how I can get approval from others, including my parents.
Throughout the past few years, since dropping out of law school and starting my business and all the other events that happened in the past few years, I’ve shed a lot of that past identity that no longer serves me or resonates with me.
But this specific event could very well be the last straw of any lingering pieces of that identity that’s still in me. Because now, I really mean it when I say I’m ready to challenge that narrative that I believed in for so many years. I’m letting go of it and I’m also ready to challenge it.
This is exactly where my messaging, business and brand as a whole is headed towards. Right now, with the business, I can literally choose to leave my PhD if I wanted to.
If for some reason I ever need to drop everything and be there for the people who matter most to me in my life, my business will allow me to do so.
This is why I am so committed to what I do in my coaching program and why I’m dedicated to bettering myself as a coach for my clients. So that I can coach each of my clients to go against all expectations and make money through their unique impact, ideas, and value that each of them bring to this world.
That’s why I believe so much in creating your own business, especially a coaching or service-based business.
I specialize in helping my clients sign clients for their coaching programs or services using my signature approach to soft launching which is centered around your unique thought leadership. Put another way, I help you develop your own money making theory.
The more I think about it, the more I think my messaging moving forward will be focused on the message of “Create your own dream life, career, and business, NOT your parents’ dream”.
Create your own dream life, not the dream your parents had for you. That could look like dropping out of law school. Building a six figure business that lets you be there for the people and other parts of life that matter to you.
Becoming recognized for you and all your ideas, lived experiences and honest stories, instead of trying to live up to other people’s expectations just to be liked by others.
If I analyze the themes underlying all the different variations or pivots in my own messaging in 2021, I would describe it as: Honest experiences that changed the way I thought about the work I do as a business coach. That’s it.
I’m quite confident that my messaging is clear and is resonating with my people because as of today, December 16 2021, we’ve created over 103,000 USD in sales since January 1 2021.
In Episode 62: Honest Thoughts About My Business + Business & Life Updates, I mentioned that I created 100k from December 7 2020 to December 6 2021. In the past few days alone, we welcomed several new clients into the 1:1 program and the business has officially surpassed six figures in this year alone.
Despite all the changes in my messaging, I never once worried about whether things would be confusing or unclear to people. I didn’t worry about whether it would resonate with people.
Because what mattered most to me was that the messages I share were honest and meant something to me. I trusted that as long as my intentions are honest and as genuine and pure as possible, that alone would be able to resonate deeply with the right people.
First, I have confidence that my audience is intelligent enough to understand the words and sentences I use. Rather than getting caught up in the nuances such as rewording or rearranging my sentences, I trust that when I have so much belief in the messages I share, I will have so much to say about it.
When I have so much to say about my work and what I do and why I do what I do, there’s little room for misinterpretation from the audience.
Also, when my intention and energy and passion and vision is so strong, people can sense it. I’s the combination of
1) My genuine and honest belief in my messaging and
2) Having so much to say that it literally leaves little room for people to guess what I mean
That’s why I believe my messaging is both clear and is resonating with my people.
There’s a difference between simplifying and condensing your messaging, versus trying to cram everything into an Instagram bio.
When I say that I have so much to say, I literally mean that I have so much to say, but I don’t try to cram it all into one Instagram bio, post or story.
I take time, sometimes weeks or months, to hash out that message, give different examples and tell lots of stories.
I approach my message from all different angles and I don’t rush to craft the perfect message, because I need a lot of time, space, and different pieces of content to fully express what my message is.
After I share about this for weeks or even months, that’s when I may have a better understanding on what specific keywords stick the most with people, or how can I simplify it all down to one, two or three sentences.
Before I can even get to that point of simplification, I need to explore my messaging many, many times, and that could take weeks or months.
When it comes to your messaging, I really encourage you to craft it around something you deeply believe in.
Forget the common business advice of focusing on the transformation that your client will get after working with you.
Forget the flashy sexy marketing lingo like I help you make 10k in 90 days with a proven step by step blueprint to sign high ticket clients.
Forget what everyone else in your industry is talking about.
I really need you to choose your messaging based on something that is so honest to you. So honest to the point where it even hurts. It hurts for the people who need to work with you the most, because that’s who the message will hit home the hardest.
I believe that once you have the core messages down, that’s when you can work more on simplifying the language and wording, or working on the more nuanced details.
But first, we need you to center everything around something that is so honest and so true to you, because that is going to be the reason why your messaging is clear and resonates with your people.
Remember, as you go through different lived experiences both inside and outside your business, that will shape your own beliefs, core values, and perspectives.
It is 100% expected that your messaging evolves as you evolve and go through this thing called life.
Rather than trying to perfect your messaging and boil it down to an Instagram bio statement to attract people to follow you,
Let’s focus on creating a business and brand that’s honest and deeply meaningful for both ourselves as well as for our people, and continue showing up to share your message.
That’s what you and your people need to see and hear from you.
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Besides signing clients, soft launching also helps you to:
✨ Increase visibility and be seen as a thought leader, even in a saturated niche
✨ Add more structure to your business
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This is how we scale our business to 6 figures while side hustling.
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