Episode 138 // Niching Down with Jessica Mehring

August 22, 2017

You’ve heard the importance of “niching down,” so today we’re talking with Jessica Mehring about finding a specific niche—especially as a writer. We’re getting into the specifics of how finding your niche helps you better serve your clients, how to network as a writer, and managing your time wisely so you can produce your best work.

Learn More about the Topics Discussed in this Episode
This Episode Brought to You By:
"You're going to get such a huge payoff once you decide to become a master of something."
- Jessica Mehring

Discussed in this Episode

  • Content vs. copy
  • Jessica's decision to niche in on tech
  • The importance of finding your niche
  • How to approach niching down
  • How to network as a writer to get more work
  • Best tips for focusing on doing good work
  • Working from home vs renting an office space
  • Managing social media and using your time wisely


More from Jessica Mehring

More from Kathleen

Braid Creative

More from Emily

Almanac Supply Co.


Kathleen Shannon 0:01
Hello and welcome to being boss,

Emily Thompson 0:04
a podcast for creative entrepreneurs. I'm Emily Thompson.

Kathleen Shannon 0:08
And I'm Kathleen Shannon.

Jessica Mehring 0:10
Hi, I'm Jessica meringue and I am being box.

Emily Thompson 0:16
Today we're talking about claiming your nation managing your time with Jessica meringue. As always, you can find all the tools books and links we referenced on the show notes at WWW dot being boss club.

Kathleen Shannon 0:28
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Emily Thompson 1:13
Jessica meringue is the creator of the content lab where she trains content creators on how to get to better results from their written content and helps freelance content writers put their careers on the fast track. She is also the CEO of horizon peak consulting where she combined sales focused copywriting with content creation to help her it software and tech clients turn content into revenue.

Unknown Speaker 1:38
Jessica, we're so excited to have you on the show.

Jessica Mehring 1:41
I'm so excited to be here with you ladies.

Emily Thompson 1:44
It's gonna be fun. Heck,

Jessica Mehring 1:45
Yeah, it is.

Kathleen Shannon 1:46
So you're a total boss, Emily and I were both in a mastermind group with you. And I feel like you just have so much clarity and focus and kind of like a no nonsense attitude whenever it comes to being a creative entrepreneur, and really doing the work. So I would love to hear more and share with our listeners what it is that you do for a living? Sure. So yeah,

Jessica Mehring 2:11
I've got two businesses. Right now I've got horizon peak consulting, and the content lab. Horizon peak consulting is my one to one services company. That's where I'm actually doing the writing for it software and tech companies. Specifically, you're a hobby writer.

Kathleen Shannon 2:29
Okay, so you're writing content for tech companies,

Jessica Mehring 2:32
yes, content, meaning blog posts, and white papers and ebooks and infographics and email sequences. So that's, that's a little bit different than copy, which is, is much more focused on the sale. So we're talking product catalogs and website copy, I focus on the content side of the house. So the relationship building, relationship building, rather, assets are things that that grow that relationship between the business and the buyer for the long term, you guys are making really funny faizi that

Emily Thompson 3:10
I had no idea that those are two different things.

Kathleen Shannon 3:13
I know well. So it's funny that you say that Emily, because I was just about to ask you, your clients know the difference between hiring a copywriter for web and for sales versus for content? Or do you have to educate them on that,

Jessica Mehring 3:24
while some clients do already understand this, for the most part, there is some education involved. But I tried to do that education before they ever get on the phone with me. So my own content is the education piece of it. So you can read my blog posts and my emails about my focus and and the difference between copy and content. So by the time I actually get on the phone with a prospect, they've already self educated, I might do a little refresher with them. But for the most part, by the time they get to talk to me, they they're pretty well versed.

Emily Thompson 4:06
That is amazing. content right there. Right. That's huge. And I feel like I feel like it's almost like so meta to like you are using your content to or your copy and your content to I don't know, all the things that my brain is not wrapping around it. Yeah, it'll get there. I love it.

Kathleen Shannon 4:31
Okay, so let's follow this path a little bit. Because one thing that I thought was so cool whenever I got to know you through the mastermind, is how you really niched in on tech and how you're starting to teach other writers in how to niche and we'll get a little bit more to that later with the content lab. But what I really want to talk about is your decision to me with tech specifically, what made you decide to do that and do you feel like you have to know at all whenever it comes to tech, I think that That would be very specifically an overwhelming industry to like really want to tap into. So and this is kind of my question for copywriters in general like, do you feel like you have to be an expert for the client that you're working with in their content and in their industry? How do you balance all of that.

Jessica Mehring 5:18
So I don't think you would necessarily have to be able to do what the client does. For example, I'm not a developer. I'm not a programmer, I'm not an engineer. But I've worked with so many of those types of people, I understand the language. But most importantly, and this is what I think most copywriters and content writers really need to set up and pay attention to, is I'm always willing to listen to them and learn about what they're doing. I might not be in there making the code tweaks myself, but they can tell me about the process. And, and I approach it with an open mind to understand where they're coming from, to pick up the language. I think as long as you're a lifelong learner, and most of us writers are, then you can learn enough to do the job for these people. And when I say do the job, I mean, help them make sales. Because content writers, we're not necessarily writing user guides, although sometimes, you know, the, the tech writing stuff kind of crosses over. For the most part we aren't we are helping the average Joe understand how these deeply technical people are going to help them in their everyday lives. So I guess part of that is probably a translation. I'm understanding what these these technical people are doing and translating it for their audience, so the audience will be comfortable to buy.

Emily Thompson 6:51
I think that is so important, because I even think about whenever whenever I am reading things that are supposed to be outward facing for the consumer that were written by the people who made the thing, whether that's, you know, some technology, or they doesn't matter what it is, like, sometimes they're so in it, they can't translate it to someone who doesn't know what it's talking about. So I can totally see how important it is to have someone who's not in it, to write the things for the people who will consume it, because then it just probably makes significant more sense. Yeah, I

Kathleen Shannon 7:25
love it like you're at an advantage, you can take that 30,000 foot view, because they're in it, they're in the trees, right. And that's all they can see is like the bark and leaves in front of their face. But you can really zoom out and ask the questions of, Okay, how does this work for the end consumer who's really wanting to buy it? So do you have any advice for anyone who might be wanting to specialize in tech or even in you know, any other specific industry? Do you have any advice for other writers? Or even, you know, maybe general advice for designers or anyone who offers a service, similar to writing? What advice would you give to them if they're wanting to Nish and I specifically asked us because I think it freaks a lot of people out. They want to be everything to everybody, and they don't want to turn down anyone with cash. So advice and maybe kind of easing some fears around Beijing.

Jessica Mehring 8:21
Yeah. Oh, that's such a big topic. Oh, my gosh, I could go like 10 different talk about it. So read

Kathleen Shannon 8:27
about it for the next hour.

Jessica Mehring 8:30
Yeah, nishank. It's so scary, especially when you've been a generalist for a while and you're really enjoying working with all the various types of clients. The idea of niching feels very constrictive. But it is so transformative. I just, I can't express enough how transformative niching can be for business. I was doing okay. You know, I was freelancing I've got I've been freelancing since 2000. I've been freelancing for 17 years, and working with a lot of different industries over that time. And I was doing pretty good. I was doing pretty good. But when I finally decided that I was going to niche, I was going to take the expert advice and plant my flag and say, This is what I do. This is what I'm an expert in. Everything changed. Everything changed. My business exploded. My messaging was crystal clear my sales conversations were a piece of cake. I stepped into my authority in a way I never could have done as a generalist. And like I keep saying it's transformative. So as scary as it may be, you're gonna get such a huge payoff once you decide to become a master of something.

Kathleen Shannon 9:54
Okay, so let's talk just a little bit more than about planting that flag and like what What that actually literally looks like because I think that the idea of niching is great. But then whenever it comes like whenever the rubber meets the road push comes to shove, whatever cliches we want to throw in there, like whenever it really comes down to it, it kind of one more ripping off the band aid sometimes. How do you like actually do it.

Jessica Mehring 10:24
So let me tell you a common mistake that I see with content writers who want to start specializing, they get real nervous about it, they don't want to, they don't want to necessarily discourage the clients they already have. So they're real tentative about their messaging, you go to their website, and it says nothing about their specialty. It says nothing about the types of clients they serve, it says nothing about the types of content or copy that they write. And there are so many different types of copy and content that we can all specialize in. So you have no idea what they actually what their, what their niche even is when you go to their website. And when you have a conversation with them. They hesitate to say anything around their niche, I think the first step to planting that flag is saying it out loud. Whether that's verbally in your calls, or on your website, making it crystal clear. I, for example, this is what I tell people when they ask me what I do. I write content for it software and tech companies. Oh,

Emily Thompson 11:33
plain and simple, right. And I totally see this going across like so many professions, as well like that planting the flag and claiming the thing and saying out loud who it is that you're for, gets you in a place where you can actually where you can actually start talking about what you do in ways that people will either relate to and know that you're the one or not relate to and know that you're not the one,

Jessica Mehring 11:55
right. Yeah, and I've been talking a lot. I've talked to a lot of writers for a long time, because I'm teaching them now. And I'm masterminding with them. But I'm also in the position to hire writers from time to time. And when somebody reaches out to me and said, I want to specialize in tech, I'm really good at this. I've got some experience, you know, can we have a conversation? And I go to their website, and it's got the it says nothing about tech at all, and talks about working with life coaches, for example, I, I kind of start to wonder, what are they really actually good at writing for tech audiences? Do they really have experience with this, I start to doubt before I even get on the call with them.

Kathleen Shannon 12:40
Sorry, sorry to cut you off. Like I think that just playing kind of on the side of the person who's like, okay, I want to write for tech, or you know, any specific industry I want to write for this niche. But maybe they don't have experience in it. And maybe they're kind of even having frosty feelings around planting that flag. So you know, one thing that we suggest to people all the time, especially over at braid creative is to say, I work with people, you know, you might even talk about the approach first, like I write this kind of copy first or kind of on the deliverable. And I have worked with blink, blink and blink. But I would love to start working with blink, blink and blink. And so even if you had been to that writer site, and I said I've worked with a lot of life coaches, but I would love to be writing for tech, etc. Do you feel like that amount of connection alone would have been enough to have just a little more confidence in them?

Jessica Mehring 13:34
Yeah, I think I think the confidence is key here. And if I'm not hearing it in their voice, I want to see it on their website. If I'm not, if I'm not seeing it on the website, I want to hear it in one way or another, I need to get some kind of idea that they have some level of confidence in their ability to do this, at least in their ability to learn it. I think when you're too tentative walking into this, that just it It changes the conversation, whether it's talking to somebody like me who might be in an agency capacity, not that I'm an agency, but again, from time to time I hire writers, or you're talking to a potential client, are you talking to somebody who you might want to guest post for? There has to be some spark of confidence there to kick the conversation off in the right way.

Kathleen Shannon 14:27
Yeah, and I'd say not even just confidence but like a congruency and messaging. So I want what you're saying to me out loud in person to match what you're saying on Instagram to match what you're saying on your About Me page to then be reflected in the content that you're writing about.

Unknown Speaker 14:42
So ultimately, you

Kathleen Shannon 14:44
break into this field start practicing and what better place to practice than your own blog. Right well we recommend to writers to start practice writing for the niche that they're interested in on their own within their own content. Oh, very much so yeah,

Jessica Mehring 14:59
yeah. Getting Started guest posting a lot of people forget how powerful a guest post can be in terms of practicing your skills, making connections and building your portfolio, as you can put your guest post in your portfolios perfectly legit. I guess what I thought your question was, is, if you haven't made the changes in all of these different aspects, how do you still, you know, have that conversation. And that's where I was going with the confidence pieces, there has to be some Spark, there has to be some, some, you know, desire coming out in, in the way you're communicating to me, that says, Okay, this person, if they can't do it right now can at least learn how to do it. When you're kind of dipping your toe in and you're saying, well, maybe maybe tech is the right direction for me. Like, no, I want to hear you say, yes, this is exciting, I want to try this out and plant your flag, that confidence will take you so far, it totally changes the conversation. Even if it's a little bit fake at first, it's okay.

Emily Thompson 16:03
It doesn't only change the conversation, it changes your trajectory. And therefore the expertise that you'll cultivate and with you are just sort of dipping your toe in all the pools or whatever it is, we are filling this with weird little sayings aren't waste writers paradise for sure everyone should take there should take their content from us for sure, definitely not for sure. If you are, if you are planning that flag and going in that direction, and saying, you know, I only am going to work with these kinds of people, no matter what field you are in, you will find yourself focusing in and having those experiences that will lend to that expertise along the way, you're being very proactive about building that expertise, as opposed to staying broad and just sort of picking up things here and there from all these different, you know, arenas and not actually gaining any expertise at all.

Jessica Mehring 16:58
Absolutely, yeah, absolutely. I mean, you have to start somewhere and fake it till you make it thing. There's another one voted on, right. It's not necessarily making it but but learning how to speak with confidence in a way that opens those doors to the opportunities to practice what it is you want to master. Because mastery does come through practice, you have to do the hard work. I didn't just wave my hand and say I write for tech. And then magically, I had all the skills to do it. Now I just decided this is my audience. This is what I'm actually I have a knack for. I really love these people. I deeply believe in what they're doing in this world, I think technology is going to save the world. And it's saving lives every single day. I had I had this spark to begin with. That opened doors for me to practice this. So eventually I could master it. And that confidence turned from a spark into full on authority.

Kathleen Shannon 18:05
And you know, I think that Nietzschean also starts with just one client, you know, and it might even be that you stumbled across one tech client, you're like, Well, sure, I could try that. Or any other kind of industry that you want to nation. And so that's something else I want to remind our listeners of is that it always starts with just one. So maybe even if you're just starting out and you're trying lots of different things, maybe look at who your favorite kind of person to work with was or has been so far, or who you would love to work with, what industry are they in, and then just get that one client. And I think that that really is what doing the work looks like. So I would love to hear from you, Jessica, who was your first tech client or do you remember that experience? Were you overwhelmed or intimidated? And how did it grow from there?

Jessica Mehring 18:52
Yeah, that's that's actually kind of my origin story. So fresh out of college, I needed a job. I had a degree in European history from the University of Colorado at Boulder, which was so fun it was such a fun degree to get doesn't necessarily translate directly into work right. So I had to get a job. I got a temp job working as an RMA process return merchandise authorization processor for Compaq computer Corporation. It was it I you know, sign up at a temp agency. That's the job they found me I so I got my foot in the door at Compaq computer Corporation It was a three month gig. And at the end of that three months one of the other compact teams needed a temp. So I'm transitioned to this new job and I was told it was data entry. So okay, it's it's the new e commerce stores for compact and we just need to we need data entry people to get the product data in the e commerce stores. So I was taking product descriptions and in putting them into this content management tool, which then published to the e commerce stores for Compaq, very, very early days of e commerce for, at least for that Corporation. And I had I along the way through college through my early career, I'd always freelanced. I was writing, you know, freelance articles for New Age almanacs, and they like just random little freelance gigs. I, I'd always had an interest in writing I was was good at writing. Did I had poetry published in the high school, the high school newsletter and things like that. So somehow this came up in conversation, my light just turned off here, sorry. So somehow, this came up in conversation with my manager that I was a freelance writer. And she said, Oh, would you be interested in writing the product descriptions that you are then putting in this content management tool? I said, Sure. So I kind of had to learn how to write product descriptions. And through that learning process found it was called copy what I was writing was called copy. I had never heard that before. I didn't know what copywriting was. That was my first introduction to copywriting in general. And I found I, I liked it. And I had a knack for it. And it actually paid. Whereas a lot of the freelance stuff I was doing wasn't necessarily high paying stuff. So that was, yeah, my little toe dip into copywriting. And my career grew. From there, I learned more about copywriting. I went beyond writing product descriptions to writing promo pages, landing pages, ads, newsletters, full websites, a lot of internal communications, I worked for a creative agency as an account manager and a project manager and learned the different aspects, the different creative aspects that go into an entire marketing campaign. So I was interfacing with designers and developers, and and the client and the copywriter and maybe doing a little bit of the copywriting myself still. So I, my knowledge just kind of naturally bloomed through my career

Kathleen Shannon 22:24
throughout little bit of a windy path, right,

Jessica Mehring 22:27
a bit of a windy path. Yeah. Then in my in my last few years in in the corporate world, and I'd gone from corporate to creative agency and back to corporate, I was working for Hewlett Packard at the time, I just really started feeling a passion for the writing specifically. So even though I was doing a lot of the content management and the project management and interfacing with the designers, and all of that stuff, it really all came back to the writing for me that I realized that's really, really what where I wanted to go in this life was to be a copywriter. And, again, that just, it was a catalyst for even deeper learning. For me, I came across copyblogger and I came across copy hackers. And I came across all these online resources where I got to, I got even deeper into the subject. And I learned there was a difference between copying content.

Emily Thompson 23:27
Right, and like, my life just began again, for sure. Um, so Okay, so you started writing copy or content copy and content

Jessica Mehring 23:37
for early was

Emily Thompson 23:38
for tech companies. But then I want to go back to what we asked you in the beginning, what it is that you do, and you said two businesses, one of which is your writing business, or where you are hired to writing but your second one is the content lab where you're actually also now teaching writers how to write for tech as well.

Jessica Mehring 24:01
Yeah, so I'm actually teaching them yeah, if it's specifically for people who are interested in writing for technology audiences. But there's, if you go to the blog, there's a lot of resources there that really any content writer can benefit from whether you're writing content for your own business, or you want to write it for clients. There's a lot of resources there. So don't let the tech discourage sounds like you're backpedaling

Kathleen Shannon 24:27

Jessica Mehring 24:28
Nishi Oh, my gosh. Know, I just know them not that your entire audience is necessarily into tech like I am. And I want to assure people there are there are resources there for them too. But yeah, no, I love the tech stuff. And actually, I'm rebranding right now as you know, Kathleen because braid has just done my new brand for the content lab and it is beautifully technical. Ah,

Kathleen Shannon 24:54
we love I was just asking my sister's over there. And I was like, Hey, we're about to interview Jessica. Like what was The thing that stood out the most and she was like, man, she just plants her flag. And she literally said that like and just owns her Nish. And that's why I really wanted to get into niching. And one thing that I thought was, you know, kind of funny behind the scenes is that like, this isn't fluffy, this isn't, you know, it's it's just really getting into saying what you mean. And I think that that applies to probably copywriting itself, right? Is just saying what you mean. Yeah, yeah, the clarity.

Jessica Mehring 25:30
Yep. Clarity over creativity and a lot of ways.

Kathleen Shannon 25:34
What are some of your best tips and advice for writers who need more work? Like, obviously, we've talked about niching. But let's say you're niching, and you're like, Okay, I'm planting my flag. I'm making sure that all of my messaging and what I'm saying across the board is the same. And there's still like crickets chirping in the background. How are you? I feel like you've done a really great job of, you know, not only being profitable from the beginning, but supporting your entire family. on you. Is it okay, if I tell our listeners that yes, stay at home husband, who takes care of your beautiful little girl. And I just think that that's really super cool that like, not only are you making a living doing what you love, but you're supporting your entire family. And so I think that that comes from doing the work. So what would you What advice would you give to our listeners who need more work?

Jessica Mehring 26:29
everything for me, it comes down to relationships, building relationships. And there's a lot of different ways to do that. Some of the most powerful ways that I have found is reaching out to others in your field. So I've done a lot of masterminding with other copywriters, I was actually in the first copy hackers mastermind, where I build deep relationships with other people doing the writing copy and content, that have been incredibly beneficial to me in terms of referrals, and just bouncing ideas off of each other and partnering on projects. So getting to know other people in your field for sure. And also guest posting, people don't necessarily see that as a relationship building. Project. But it really is a guest posting for sites where your target audience is spending time you're building relationship with that, that website, that business that you're doing the guest post for, if you're doing it right, you're building the relationship there, right. But you're also building a relationship with your audience through that guest post. So giving them an opportunity to get to know your area of expertise. And hopefully in your bio, you're also giving them an opportunity to go check your site out or, you know, get on your mailing list. That's guest posting is actually really smart for relationship building. And people never think of it that way. I think they're more for visibility. And it's, it's good for visibility, but I found it's really good for relationship building, too.

Kathleen Shannon 28:11
I would also even think that, you know, if you're a writer for a living, you might not be inclined to guest posts, because you want to get paid to write. So can you speak more on that side of things?

Jessica Mehring 28:22
Yeah, you know, I always hesitate to recommend anybody work for free. I don't believe in work for exposure. I think that that's a crock said it's a

Kathleen Shannon 28:36
crock. So then guess hosting isn't work for exposure, it's more of a relationship.

Jessica Mehring 28:41
It's work for relationships, it's work for authority, and his work to put in your portfolio. So don't just guess, post anywhere guest posts strategically, I easily spend 20 hours writing a single guest post, these are not like little fluff pieces that I'm not surprised by that just not

Unknown Speaker 29:01
surprised at all.

Jessica Mehring 29:02
I am very, very strategic about who I do this for because I bring immense value to the table for them for their audience for my relationship with them. And for my own portfolio.

Kathleen Shannon 29:15
Okay, so make this real for us. Who have you guessed posted for? And like how did that cultivate a relationship or even if you want to give us a case study of one of your students that you've nurtured in learning hot through the content lab, how to be sure like how does this actually work? Who are we reaching out to what's going down?

Jessica Mehring 29:33
So again, coming back to relationships I in the mastermind with copy hackers, this is a really good one. In the mastermind. I was in with the copy hackers crew. I was introduced to one of the leadership team at crazyegg. And it was a personal introduction. She She wrote an introduction email between me and this this guy

Kathleen Shannon 29:58
saying just Wait, what is crazy egg?

Jessica Mehring 30:01
Crazy Egg is it's a website dedicated to marketing really, but especially conversion optimization. It's a massive resource if you are interested in marketing in any way go check out crazyegg. there myself,

Kathleen Shannon 30:19
yeah, I didn't know about this. Yeah. Okay, so crazyegg.

Jessica Mehring 30:25
So I got introduced to one of the leadership team at crazyegg. Again, personal introduction, because I had, I had built this relationship, and she saw this possibility for connection. And he said, Yeah, great, write me, you know, send me a few pitches and, and I'll pick one. So I did, I sent him a few pitches, and he picked one. And I spent a ton of time writing that post a ton, again, probably easily 20 hours. And that's a first draft and all the research involved in that, and running it by my my copywriter friends to make sure I hit all the right notes, I was grabbing screenshots of things, that was making sure it was formatted properly. And just really making sure this was a top notch piece of content, because I really wanted to knock it out of the park. And I sent it to him and I knocked it out of the park, he loved it, he was over the moon about it, they published it right away to rave reviews. And he was so excited about it. He said anytime you guys want, anytime you want to come guest post for me, you can come guest posts for me. And it just established this relationship of, of trust, and then value and an excitement, just from that first post because I wasn't I wasn't just randomly pitching a bunch of sites, you know, this was a personal introduction.

Kathleen Shannon 31:50
So okay, so then how did you see a return on that? Like, was he sending work your way now at this point? Or are people emailing you and saying, Hey, I saw your post on this article, I'd love to hire you. Have you seen any of that? And even if it showed up a year or two later,

Jessica Mehring 32:07
yeah, this was probably two years ago that I published my first post with them, and I had a content upgrade in the post. So immediate email list growth from that post, they have a huge audience.

Kathleen Shannon 32:21
Okay, quick question, how does that work? Technically, if you have a content upgrade on their website? Is it going straight to you? Or how I'm trying to even imagine?

Unknown Speaker 32:31
Yeah, so I used

Kathleen Shannon 32:32
to negotiate that like, or was that the thing? I mean, how does that work?

Jessica Mehring 32:37
I just slid it in there and they accepted it. Maybe maybe that wasn't the best one, maybe I should have asked. But I just had a link to a landing page on my side that people could sign up for, which would then add them to my email list and give them this content upgrade.

Kathleen Shannon 32:54
So maybe sliding in was fine. Because he was so impressed by the post and I want to come, I want to come to this point as well. And I've heard this thing before I I'm not the person who invented it. But how you do anything is how you do everything. And I think that bringing that kind of meticulous detail to one project can really, really pay off. So this has me wondering how, how much of that meticulous detail and thought and attention you bring to everything because there's only so many hours in the day, right? Like we can't all spend 20 hours out of every week writing these amazing guest posts, and then much less giving that same kind of attention in detail to our own posts and all the other hats that we wear. So how do you manage your time and being you know, really doing everything at that kind of level that you expect of yourself when submitting a guest post?

Jessica Mehring 33:48
That's another big question, productivity, right. I use Asana for my task management. So I know everything I need to do every day is right there in Asana Actually, I have a whole system. I have this this big wall calendar of the year. So you know, month by month calendar on my wall for a big picture view of the year. And then I do all of my scheduling in Google Calendar. So that's where all my meetings are appearing. And then I have my my weekly and daily task management in Asana. And I also actually use a bullet journal. My little bullet journal metal traveler's notebook here, which I know you guys have seen.

Emily Thompson 34:36
Right? We nerd it out and went and bought our own immediately after I love him.

Kathleen Shannon 34:39
I love and I never used mine. Oh, that's so sad. I know. So inspired by yours.

Jessica Mehring 34:46
Oh, thanks. So So yeah, I just kind of have all of these tools to make sure I know. I know what needs to be done and then I can prioritize it. And in terms of focus, well, especially I work from home And I have a family here. So having a door that I can close is incredibly important. I close my door, and sometimes I even lock it to make sure little two year old isn't walking in. I use white noise when I need to drown out noise. I use freedom to block my internet programs to block my email to block my social media. Whatever it takes to focus on the task at hand. I've tried time walking, and that didn't work too well for me. But just turning off all distractions, so I can focus on the priority task at hand really helps me.

Emily Thompson 35:40
I agree. Sometimes I'll get like knee deep in my Asana and Jessica, after hearing you talk about your Asana can we like share Asana is one day, I want to see what you have go share some some Asana systems there I can only

Jessica Mehring 35:53

Emily Thompson 35:55
by but I totally agree with just like the simple productivity piece of just turning off all the things like sometimes I'll come in here. And when I really need to get focused, like turn off my email. And then like five hours later, look up, I've got everything done and totally forgot that my email was off. doing little things like that, to give yourself the time to do the quality of work that you want to do is so intense, it's just as easy as turning off the things and locking your door. Like we get tons and tons of questions about you know, how do you make time to do these things?

Unknown Speaker 36:29
Or, you

Emily Thompson 36:30
know, how do you do it all and basically some hardcore focus with some hardcore boundaries and some hardcore, like expectations and guidelines around what it is that you're doing will take you seriously far.

Jessica Mehring 36:46
Yeah, boundaries. So that's, that's a really good one to touch on boundaries are so important with your family, with your clients, with your colleagues with your social media. setting boundaries is critical.

Kathleen Shannon 37:00
I felt like such a jerk yesterday, because my husband was home from work, he was home sick. And once I mean my grind, and I never realize how into my grind. I am until someone else is there to witness it. And so usually I'm just here alone, and I can put my head in my computer and get to work. And so he comes in to the kitchen where I'm working from. And he's like, hey, like, let me tell you this story. And I was like I, I just need you to not write it. And I didn't have the words to say it because I was trying not to be a jerk. But I was also really intensely focused. And so we

Emily Thompson 37:37
call that getting in the flow.

Unknown Speaker 37:39
Yeah, I was in the flow.

Emily Thompson 37:40
Sure. Things David will come in and he'll ask me questions and walk away. And then like three hours later, I come out and I'm like, wait, you know, he won't be here. Where did you go? He's like I came in and told you I was going somewhere. And I don't even remember having the conversation like I'm so in it and so focused, that things can happen around me within reason that I won't even realize they're happy. Oh, yeah, when you can find that place, when you can find that place of no distraction. We're even distractions aren't distracting, then you're able to bust out so much stuff. It's just getting yourself in that place. And I think that you've met people like us know how to get ourselves in that place. I know, I can come in here, I can close the door, I can like have the great lighting and be sitting at my desk with my Asana that tells me what to do next. And I can get in it really quickly. It took me a couple years to know that it was all those things lining up that got me there. But once you can get yourself there, you can get a lot of shit done,

Kathleen Shannon 38:35
I suppose to say I think that this is why we can get away with working five or six hours a day versus nine or 10 hours a day. Because it really is that intense focus. And if I'm working that hard, I really probably only have six hours max in me before I start getting real grouchy. And then realizing as you know, braid creative is getting a space and expanding our team, how much time goes into. And I'm not saying this is a good or bad thing. It's just a different problem. And it just takes more time. How much time goes into a little bit of office banter or telling someone where to save a file or catching up on the weekend. Whereas like, we're probably just in the office heads down and working so that whenever we're not working, we can really truly be with our families.

Jessica Mehring 39:21
Yeah, absolutely. In fact, I just posted on Facebook and somebody commented on somebody posted about this last night that I feel like I'm weird sometimes that is I'm all in or I'm all out. I don't work on vacation. I don't take play days in the middle of the workweek. I'm all work or I'm all play. I and that's how I get things done. And that's how I focus on my family when I'm not in work mode. And I've done worse to my husband than you guys have described. I've been known to wave like shoo, my husband and I I know your audience. Can't see me waving my hand in a shooting motion. But that's what I'm doing. shooing my husband out of the room not even looking at him when he walks in to talk to me, because I'm into something. And I don't even realize I'm doing it. And he points it out later. And of course, I apologize. But he also has to understand that this is this is our family income here. This is it. He's not working. I got to do what I got to do to make the money. And he's he's pretty understanding about even even the rude things. I do like that. Does that those boundaries? I'm focused right now,

Kathleen Shannon 40:35
because you're all in an all out. Have you ever considered getting a separate office space or working co working space? Or getting out of the house? Have you experimented with that?

Jessica Mehring 40:44
I have, yeah, I worked at a co working space for a while. A few years ago, I probably did it for a year, went in once or twice a week. And it was it was good for the social aspect is good for just hanging around other human beings. But I did find I, I got really distracted. I got into conversations with people that ended up taking an hour out of my work day, there was drive time involved, which I don't have to contend with when I can walk from my bedroom to my office. So there were some downsides to that. That said, I have definitely considered that when we have another kid, if we're able to have another kid. This, this room that I'm in right now is probably going to be a baby's room, it might be time to go ahead and rent that office space. and not have it be a co working space. But have it be my own office space outside of the house, I see a huge benefit in that for sure. Yeah, I

Emily Thompson 41:43
feel like I'm always going back and forth between the two there are days when I would not trade my like 12 steps to my desk for my bed for a drive for anything. And then there are others where I would love a wide open workspace that like was all my own and totally amazing. Maybe we had like, I don't know, a podcasting booth, How awesome would that be or any of the things so sometimes I'm building

Kathleen Shannon 42:07
a podcasting booth into the new room. But then our contractor came back and was like, it's gonna be $10,000 to make it incredibly like soundproof tight, like quality. And I was like, you know, why? Just give me a room and I'll throw up the blanket for Yeah. But yeah, I'm gonna get a podcast. Nice

Emily Thompson 42:27
sound. Oh,

Jessica Mehring 42:28
that's awesome.

Kathleen Shannon 42:29
I know, I'm really excited about getting a space. And, you know, we talked about that on this show before is experimenting with having a space versus working from home, versus working from the kitchen table. Because there's one thing to have like your own office space, which Emily, you've got a pretty sweet setup at your house, and then working from your kitchen table like I do. So

Jessica Mehring 42:49
I know a lot of people that get a lot done from their kitchen table. Right? You're closer to your refrigerator. Yeah, I

Kathleen Shannon 42:54
really like being close to my friend.

Emily Thompson 42:56
Yeah, sometimes things that resent that walk I have to do. Um, no, I think and I think the thing here is just knowing how it is that you work best. If you want to be prolific in anything, you know how to maximize your own productivity. And whether that's next year refrigerator or at a co working space, though I don't think I've ever met anyone who found true productivity at a co working space, like talk to several everyone like it's there for the social acts aspect. And maybe like the professionalism of beating people there, but not so much for the actual productivity. But I think it's just about knowing how it is that you work so you can get in your flow of doing the work or, you know, being creative, or just writing the damn emails or whatever it may be. For you to find the success that you want. I've not really joked a couple of times about how like same I think I work in 25 hours more than most people working 40 because the amount of work that I'm able to get done by just sitting here and focusing and cranking the shit out. can be pretty magnificent when you find it.

Kathleen Shannon 44:04
I feel like I make more decisions in a day than most people have to make in an entire year. So Mine isn't even just the amount of time I'm working, but the amount of energy that goes into the kind of work that I'm doing big decisions all the time, which is part of our role as bosses, right? Like the more boss you get, the more decisions you gotta make. Can

Jessica Mehring 44:26
we just talk about social media for a second? And one day I'm sorry, I'd love Yes, I got it. I have to admit something here. I really struggle with social media. Now I have my accounts on all the major sites to make sure I've got my name reserved and all that stuff. And I post regularly I schedule things out. But I have to stay out of Facebook to get anything done during the day. And I see these really successful businesses who are in Facebook regularly throughout the And posting things and engaging with their audiences. And I can't do that, oh, what are you doing

Kathleen Shannon 45:05
unless they have an assistant. So like, we've got a couple of assistants that help us post our content. But whenever it comes in and just managing your community or network via social media,

Emily Thompson 45:15
what allowing the regular consumer scrolling, which so many people do consistently,

Kathleen Shannon 45:23
I agree, like, you know what, maybe they have it in their Asana, maybe it's toss out, like, you know, 1pm, go into Facebook, engage with two people, and you just happen to be seeing it, but maybe they're like really disciplined with it.

Jessica Mehring 45:36
It could be I gotta say, though, it came down to, I had a really, really look at the ROI here. And I was not making sales on social media. So I had to cut out my time spent on social media.

Emily Thompson 45:50
Right, and it has your business suffered at all? Oh,

Jessica Mehring 45:54
no, it has not suffered at all. In fact, I think it's grown because I'm able to do an even better job for my clients, because I'm able to focus on the work at hand and doing a knockout job, whether it's, I'm writing a guest post, or I'm writing a 5000 word white paper, I can I can focus and do an excellent job. I know

Emily Thompson 46:17
I was I was writing some content for upcoming webinar where I was talking, or I will be talking, I guess, about, about finding clients. And I had to think back of like, early, because it was like for beginners, let's say like, if you're just trying to find some of your first clients, what are you going to do. And so I had to take myself back like seven, eight years ago to my first couple website projects, when businesses weren't on social media, like they were not Facebook business pages, like Twitter was just kind of really getting started all of those things. And so and like, even before the age of the internet, like before, social media was even a thing. They were fully successful businesses that did not run because of social media. So whenever I am hearing people who are struggling with that next big social media tactic, or Oh, my God, that algorithm changed, my business is dead, all of those things, you are not putting your energy into the things that's actually going to give you a return, which is that data relationships, and going back to like forming those relationships with a couple of people that you know, and that you're working with, so that they can spread the word and grow all the things, social media is not the best place, I don't think for anyone to be spending most of their time as a business owner, unless, you know, there's some special cases, I think regularly, you shouldn't be, you need to be doing really bad as work focusing, getting the job done delivering to your customers and clients like a fucking boss, and finding better things to do with your time.

Kathleen Shannon 47:50
I think that social media can be really great for brand awareness. And if you have an incredibly you know, beautiful feed, it's wonderful. In fact, Emily, I recently fell into comparison trap with you, Emily just does a bang up job on her Instagram. And I know that you spend three hours a month planning it out. And you're really disciplined with it. And I was like, I need to do that. And I've been saying I need to do that for a solid, I don't know, four months doing it, you don't. And so I actually did say, you know what, that's Emily, this is me, I changed my personal profile to say, this is the personal account of Kathleen. And it really liberated me as far as not feeling like I need to post on my own personal Instagram account every single day I can pop in. And it really is a place that's kind of fun. I even went on a little spree of unfollowing a lot of stuff that I was already following for my business accounts. So that I could truly make it even my feed feel a little bit more personal as well. But I kind of think of it almost like my friends who decided that they want to start running and they're just running like a couple miles, you know, a day, which is great. Like, if you love running, that's great. But for me, I'm not gonna spend my time running. Because that's my, like, biggest weakness, right? And so I think of social media in the same way, like don't spin your wheels on your weakness. And unless someone's paying me to post on social media than I will if someone's paying me to run, even then you couldn't pay me enough money to run. But like, I guess I say this, because that's always my answer to whenever people ask me if I run because I work out a lot. Or like, do you like those shoes for running? I'm like, you, I'm not running unless I'm being chased by zombies. Like it's just not happening. And I kind of think of social media in the same way. Or, you know, just really limiting it to one account that you actually truly feel engaged in and that you enjoy. So even if you're not seeing a return if you really do truly enjoy that connection, and that community and building relationships in those places. That's a whole other thing. So I mean, I guess what I'm trying to say is it's not an entire waste of time if it doesn't feel like a waste of time. Yeah.

Emily Thompson 49:58
I love that. You say that to your cause. My indie, indie typography Instagram account, that's the one I do all the pre planning and just getting it all done in one whack every month, I totally think about just deleting the whole fucking thing.

Jessica Mehring 50:10
Are you really,

Kathleen Shannon 50:12
you're so good.

Emily Thompson 50:14
But like, I also I don't see the return like I have fun. And whenever I think about Instagram for me, it is fine. Like I see it as like a little art project, all the things that go in there and curate and have fun or whatever. And I do that for my personal account like, you know, weekly, like I'm in there doing fun things and I get great, like satisfaction and fulfillment from that. But I don't get it so much from my my business account. And so I have been thinking about totally DJing in my indie Insta. There you go. I

Kathleen Shannon 50:41
think because I follow both I didn't I sometimes don't know, which is which you know, like you're not really paying attention to which one is Emily, your personal account? Which one is nd?

Emily Thompson 50:50
So interests? There you go. Everybody has different preferences, all the things social is a time suck, though, for sure. And I think it is about knowing what your return on investment, like in terms of time is like if you're spending time on social media, is it paying you in some way or another? And if it's not, what will pay you? That's probably what you should be spending your time on, especially if you're one of those starving creative entrepreneurs who's wondering why you're not making money.

Jessica Mehring 51:15
Right? I get that question so much. How do you get so much done? Like, well, I cut certain things out completely. And social media is one of those things that you can reach me through social media. And I've checked social media, and I schedule posts for social media and sometimes even post real time. But it is not constantly on my radar. It is not a big part of my everyday strategy. I had to cut that out because there was no return on investment. So I can spend that time on things that do have a return. like doing excellent work that gets results for my clients. So yeah, so they're actually getting more website traffic and they're growing their email lists, and they're getting more leads and they're building their own authority. Because of the stuff I'm doing for them. Yep.

Love it.

Kathleen Shannon 52:06
All right, Jessica. We got to wrap this up. So we have a couple more questions for you. Okay. The first one is what makes you feel most boss

Jessica Mehring 52:18
makes me feel most boss. Okay, you're gonna laugh at this paying my bills.

Emily Thompson 52:27
Right I will have a little bit good. Hey, that's amazing.

Jessica Mehring 52:30
I you know what I'm paying. I pay my bills twice a month on the first and the 15th I go in and I pay my bills and it feels good. No, it I made that money that is now paying these bills. And we recently bought a new house.

Unknown Speaker 52:45
I did that.

Jessica Mehring 52:46
I did that. I bought us a house. That That makes me feel totally boss Money makes me feel pretty bad.

Emily Thompson 52:56
Right and apparently giving it away. Right. So it really does I mean, there's so much to say about about putting in really great focused effort into a return that you feel whether that's the heat on your back when it's cold outside or you know the house that you're able to live in, I think I think that his boss agreed.

Kathleen Shannon 53:21
Love it and where can our listeners find you and learn more?

Jessica Mehring 53:25
The best bet would be Jessica meringue calm. And you'll find two links there one to horizon peak consulting and when to the content lab.

Kathleen Shannon 53:35
Perfect and we'll be sure to include as mentioned all of the links in the show notes. I'm loved having you on the show. I felt like we were kind of masterminding again. Yeah, no,

Jessica Mehring 53:47
this was great. You guys actually challenged me on a few points that was fun.

Unknown Speaker 53:54
Glad to hear it.

Kathleen Shannon 53:57
This episode of being boss was brought to you by fresh books, cloud accounting, thank you to fresh books for sponsoring us and you guys can try it for free by going to freshbooks comm slash being boss. Thank you so much to our team and sponsors who make being boss possible. Our sound engineer and web developer Corey winter. Our editorial director and content manager Caitlin brain, our community manager and social media director Sharon lukey. And are being countered David Austin, with support from braid creative and indicia biography.

Emily Thompson 54:28
Do the work. Be boss and we'll see you next week.