Don’t Forget the (Business/Blog) Frosting!

If Forrest Gump was right, and life is like a box of chocolates, and you never know what you’re going to get… I want you to think of your blog and your business as if it were a cupcake.

The cake part is what you do–your services or your products or the information you’re sharing.  It’s the part of your business that’s got the substance and the nutrition (well, the carbs and calories at least).  It’s the core thing you offer – like coaching, consulting, design, knit items, clothing, jewelry, and so on.

It’s also the same basic “thing” that others offer and that people can shop around for.  Hear me out before you tell me how you’re different.  To someone who doesn’t know you…  A life coach is a life coach.  A marketing consultant is a marketing consultant.  A website designer is a website designer.  A knit scarf is a knit scarf.  A candle is a candle.

If everyone’s offering that same cupcake without frosting, then what’s the comparison point going to be? Will people shop based on convenience?  Price?  What will cause them to choose you over the other options?  Or, how do they know you’re the right cupcake for them?

A cupcake without frosting… is… bland… boring… missing something…

How can you stand out?  You need frosting!!

The frosting is YOU.  It’s your personality, your perspective, and your uniqueness. You’ve got to throw YOU into your products, your blog, and your business if you want to stand out and succeed.  You’re an entrepreneur.  You ARE your business.  And YOU are what’s going to attract people to you.

100 people can write an article or blog post on the same topic or all create the same basic product type.  But they’ll all be different (except the copycats who won’t get anywhere anyway, so please don’t worry about them or let them bother you).  Which one will stand out?  The one that’s unique.

And for different people, different ones will stand out!  Because we’re all drawn to different styles, different passions, different perspectives.

Look at that cupcake picture above. Try not to drool on your keyboard.  One or two look particularly yummy, right? The rest are awesome, but you aren’t drawn to them (or maybe you’d eat them all, so just think about which one you’d go for first).  Our businesses and blogs are the same way.  For some people we’re that perfect cupcake. Not for everyone.  And that’s okay–great, actually, because it means someone else is their perfect cupcake and there is enough business (or readers) for us all.

If you want to draw ideal readers to your blog and ideal customers to your website, be more you. When you express a point or share a lesson, don’t try to word everything so “professionally” and carefully that it erases your personality.

There’s always something unique.  Don’t ever fall into the trap of thinking that you are the same as someone else and don’t offer anything different.  You do – you’re you!  And everything you’ve been through, all that life experience, and your personality and preferences make you unique. That shows in the way you create, the way you innovate, the way you share what you share.  It will come out through a product or service that IS different and innovative in some way, but only if you allow it to.

I know, for some of you reading this, it’s going to be like… “Yeah… and I already knew that.”  Cool.  You’ve already found your groove and that’s awesome.  Keep going!  And just move on to another post.  This particular post isn’t quite for you (but there’s lots of other great stuff on my blog so do stick around).

This post is for those of you who, like me, get nervous about stepping up and sharing who we are and what we care about.

A few weeks ago I mentioned Vulcan mind melds in a blog post and article.  As silly as it sounds, I had to fight myself over that.  I wanted to include it because it illustrated the point in a humorous way.  But I worried what people might think.  And I got over it and hit publish anyway.  Turns out I got social network messages and emails about how it made people laugh.

One of my life lessons is disapproval fears.  I struggle to express anything that I think might disappoint or upset someone else.  And I’m learning to get past it.  Because you know what?  Those aren’t the right people for me to be working with or spending time with anyway.  I’m realizing more and more that I am not the right person to work with or support certain types of people and even if I wanted to, it wouldn’t be a good arrangement for either party.  So I’d be crazy to worry about whether I’m upsetting them in what I say.  They’re not my “tribe.”

“Be who you are and say what you feel, because those who mind don’t matter
and those who matter don’t mind.”
Dr. Seuss

I’m finding more and more than when I let my personality out, it might cause a few to leave my blog or not work with me, but it’s also forging deeper connections with the right people and giving them a chance to get to know me.

I’ve got a profile pic at Facebook with a flower in my hair.  I’ve had two people now mention that it made them feel comfortable working with me.  I almost didn’t post that photo (my inner critic told me it wasn’t professional).

I chose a Naturopathic Doctor yesterday based partially on the fact that her website mentioned she has a daughter.  That connected with me since I was looking for an ND to take my son to and it’s important to me that the person understand children and have that “mom” perspective (you know, so they get it when I overreact to something like a case of hives–I’m a “better safe than sorry” mom).  Of course, the solid cupcake part of her training and credentials mattered, but when I compared several who all appeared to be great NDs, then it came down to the feelings of which one I connected with–the frosting!

Speaking of websites and “about” type pages… I’ve always been one to say “keep it professional” and I’ve used that as an excuse not to share personal information.  I’m realizing that’s bad advice!  Professional is good, but don’t let it become an excuse to hide who you are.  If you’ve got a flair for the dramatic, be dramatic.  If you’re a laid back kind of person, then don’t try to change that.  The right people are going to connect with you and want to work with you and you’ll both be happier than if you’re working with people who aren’t right.

Express yourself through your business.  You can strike a balance between staying professional enough and being you.  Know your tribe.  Embrace them. And don’t worry so much about what others think of who you are or what you do.

“Don’t let possible rejections keep you from the life you want.” Richard Unger, Lifeprints

Go be the frosting!  (And tell your inner critic to sit down and be quiet.)

Hit the comments box below and share your thoughts. Or just tell me which cupcake in the picture you want to eat.  Either one is fine to share.  Share something and you’ll get a link back to your blog plus a link in that top commenters box on the right side of all the pages on my site.  Go ahead.  Speak up!

P.S. This line of thinking was brought to you by…

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27 Comments

  1. OK, now that I’m done drooling over the cupcakes, I can comment. Awesome article, yet again, Michelle. Thanks for reminding me as we head into the blog challenge that what I am doing is searching for my tribe and not to worry about those who don’t resonate with what I say. The people who get it understand immediately. Thank you again!
    Sherrie recently posted… Creating a Home Office with StyleMy Profile

    1. Yes, I had trouble focusing on writing because the photo (and searching for a good photo to use) made me crave cupcakes. :)

      Exactly – those who are meant to learn from you will “get” you.

  2. I love this- Go be the frosting. it doesn’t hurt that I am a huge Cupcakes Wars fan. :-)
    Cathy Miller recently posted… I Have WordPress-Now WhatMy Profile

    1. I’ve seen that advertised but hadn’t caught an episode yet, I might have to. I saw part of one on Amazing Cakes one day and it was just stunning what they were able to create.

  3. Thank you Michelle, I have been debating things on my blog. My writing style has changed a bit over the past year, reflecting more of me and less of the always straight lace professional. Yet there are times when I wonder if I am stepping over … I am a geek. Give me a choice of romance or a Sci Fi movie, I’ll be at the latter. Sometimes I allow that Sci-Fi, geeky side to show in my writing.
    Yet it is being honest. It is who I am. While it may bother some people, like the flower in your hair, it is who you are. We need to be who we really are.
    MJ Schrader recently posted… Internet Security and Free AntiVirus ProgramsMy Profile

    1. Makes it easier, doesn’t it? When we don’t have to worry quite so much about that. And yeah, I’m the latter too on movies. :)

  4. Love this!
    Amy recently posted… Something new for meMy Profile

  5. Thanks Michelle for this post, it comes at a good time when I’m trying to be professional on my blog but what I really want to do is share more of myself. I’m trying to find that balance between the two. This is food for thought :) Love the chocolate one with pink frosting and a cherry on top…mmmmmm!
    Tina recently posted… Make Your Website a 24-Hour Sales EngineMy Profile

    1. That’s the challenging part, isn’t it? I’m still finding that balance, too.

  6. What a lovely post complete with yummy cupcakes I carefully avoided looking at until just a minute ago. No way can I pick a favorite! I just started a new blog on managing money–an area that could be all uptight and logical and rule-bound and such. That’s just not me. Thanks goodness, there are all kinds of millionaires. I can be one without a huge house hanging off a cliff in California or without traveling the world. I can be the knitting nerd who finally has enough yarn money. Hee!

    Wait, did I get off topic? Ah, being me, the frosting on the cupcake. Nope, not off topic at all. We’re good. This is me. It would be lovely to find my tribe by the end of August!
    Karen Wilson Wehrle recently posted… How to Attract Money Into Your Life–4 Principles for SuccessMy Profile

    1. LOL I know many lovely knitting nerds and I can just imagine the yarn stash that would result from millionaire funds… what fun!

  7. yes I love this- Go be the frosting! (And tell your inner critic to sit down and be quiet.) we all ned to take that advice – our inner critic is often our worst enemy and what stops us allowing the frosting to shine through. Plus you have my very fave Dr Seuss quote. This is going to be a fun challenge
    Suzie Cheel recently posted… 5 Key Reasons To Have A Blog As Part Of Your Business StrategyMy Profile

    1. It really is – that little voice can stop us (or slow us down) so many times! I love that quote, too. Dr. Seuss was one smart man. :)

  8. Once I allowed myself to let the real me out into my posts and articles I noticed a whole different tribe building around me. Your advice is priceless Michelle. Not only have I felt more authentic in my business, I have found a whole new community of supportive colleagues, clients and friends. I suggest we all create our own unique frosting (I think mine might have a cherry on the top!).
    Much love
    Heather x
    Heather Bestel recently posted… Create some wonderful memories for you and your kidsMy Profile

    1. It really makes a difference, doesn’t it? I am finding that I enjoy so much working with those who’ve been readers of my blog and “know” me because they’re coming in knowing what to expect from me.

  9. I’ve been trying to approach my blog writing with this focus – being myself. But sometimes that’s not so easy to remember. Thanks for the inspirational reminder. I’m going to go be the frosting!
    AJ LoRe recently posted… Baby Signing Tip- You Can Sign While You Read Together!My Profile

  10. Bravo especially for this part: “One of my life lessons is disapproval fears. I struggle to express anything that I think might disappoint or upset someone else. And I’m learning to get past it. Because you know what? Those aren’t the right people for me to be working with or spending time with anyway. I’m realizing more and more that I am not the right person to work with or support certain types of people and even if I wanted to, it wouldn’t be a good arrangement for either party. So I’d be crazy to worry about whether I’m upsetting them in what I say. They’re not my “tribe.””

    1. Thanks, Shel, I appreciate your comment and stopping by.

  11. Hit the nail on the head Michelle – really good article and really well written – well done! And yes, the best advice I was ever given was “be yourself – you’re the best person qualified for the job!”

    I love the fact you are yourself (and becoming more so!) – you’re like fresh air (or fresh smell of cupcakes!!) with the tastiest frosting!

    Thanks for the lovely reminder – and by the way, you can see MY pink hair on facebook now if you want to check it out!! Something I’ve decided is part of my frosting after all :)

    1. Tina, I do love that about you – you are the frosting!

  12. Great post. I already look somewhat like a cupcake, a somewhat older cupcake but a cupcake. Being yourself is so very important, your point well taken. Most of the things we do in life can “turn on a dime” if we feel the other person is being less that him/herself. The person that puts personality into their blogs will soon find more people staying to read the complete blog. And that is what we want isn’t it. Thanks for sharing some cupcakes with us.

  13. Awesome info and you know me…I’m always “me” in my blog, FB, Twitter, etc…
    funny you mention the flower in your pic, because I’ve had countless “professionals” tell me and attempt to ‘demand’ that I change my pic of me on all my sites, networks….but it’s ME! I’m laid back, outgoing, friendly and in my environment outside and being casual…doesnt mean I’m not professional and my tribe is attracted to that picture because it IS me :)
    So, excellent info and stuff I can soooooooo relate to!!!!
    Tara Burner recently posted… Chocolate Shakeology® No-Bake CookiesMy Profile

  14. […] recently read a great blog post over at Michelle Shaeffer blog titled “Don’t foreget the Business Blog Frosting” and it inspired me to write […]

  15. “The frosting is YOU. It’s your personality, your perspective, and your uniqueness. ”

    This article is perfect and puts it like it is about how a business aspiration should live in its creator’s mind.

    And I would add something more about uniqueness and it’s this: Don’t be afraid to try impossible ideas. The more “impossible” an idea looks, the more work it will need to become an achievement. But what will be interesting, will be all the possibilities and opportunities that will be found along the way that will be unique and original.

    It’s difficult to realize how much our social conditioning makes us pretty much the same as everybody else. Until we work to bring up to reality one of our fantasies, and surprisingly, find success in the long term.

    The only way to escape social conditioning is to go radically against it and see what happens. It’s very surprising what a revision of our beliefs can bring up, the first of these surprises being a better knowledge of oneself.
    mar recently posted… Hanging Planter StandsMy Profile

  16. LOVE this post!

    I read an article recently about how finding a job is like dating. One of the points was something like “show your crazy” :)

    So while you want to look professional for the interview, let the bright pink socks show. Or in my case, the red handbag (my signature accessory).

    I think the “crazy” is your cupcake and I totally agree! LOVED this post and I personally love when I get a bit of who the person is – I can’t stand all bland perfection!

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