Thursday, May 21, 2015

How To Plan a Retreat: The Marketing

Marketing for a retreat is one of the key pieces that can also take a lot of time. If you've been following along on my "How to Plan a Retreat" series, you'll note that most of my posts have to do with the retreat itself. Marketing a retreat is an entirely different beast, and it's something I've had a bit of experience with, having worked in marketing for over fifteen years.



I was excited to get an email from Deidre, who is planning a retreat in Texas, and she was curious about marketing her event. Here is her email (used with her blessing):

Hello,
First thank you for all the retreat information I found on your site.  My question is:  do you have a time-line as far as once you have your date, place, etc, how soon prior to the date of the retreat do you start promoting it?  And how far from the retreat date do you ask for final payments?  Just what is the marketing or promotional time-line for a retreat and what does that entail?
Thank you so much and Blessings!
Deidre

Deidre also let me know her price point ($150 for the weekend, a great deal!), and that she is targeting a group of women that she already knows from Church. She's open to having other women attend. And her tag line (I LOVE THIS!) is: Relax your Body, Renew your Mind, Rejuvenate your Spirit

And here are my thoughts:
With this response, I'm assuming that you may not fill the spots you have with just your immediate group of Church friends, and that you want to invite others if the spots are not full. If that's not true, you can simplify what I've said below. I'm also suggesting a tiered approach in your pricing: an early bird and regular price. This is intended to drive interest amongst your core group; and marketing is not always straight forward; a lower price may encourage people to commit sooner to you. If you go with a tiered rate, and are not looking to make a profit, there's always the opportunity to donate the money to a charity, buy additional supplies, or keep the funds for a scholarship for next year. I would use that as a selling point if you're running with it - something like "all proceeds will be used to ..." that way no one questions why someone paid more or less.

Around your retreat, though, I would start talking/ marketing about it five-six months out, and start with the people you know might be interested and are in your Church or group. If you can, consider offering an early bird rate for either a set number of people or until a certain date. Maybe $150 is the "early bird" rate (or just call it that to drive interest), but let them know you need their commitment and down payment (or full payment) by a set date. If you plan to charge a little more for "regular" price, state that too (let them know what it is), and give the initial group your cut off date to get the discount price. I'd limit the window of opportunity to 6-8 weeks for the group you already know and work with (and they can still register later, but let them know you're opening it up to the public).

Even though you know the folks, I'd still suggest a contract that outlines what they get, when the last payment is due, your policy around cancellations, and any kind of "hold harmless" or legal language. (they won't sue you if they get hurt, there's no refunds if they can't attend last minute, have to leave early  - that kind of thing). I'd recommend covering yourself just in the event something unexpected happens.

If the core group of people that are part of your group don't fill the spots in that set amount of time I'd start advertising for other women. Reach out to other churches and see if you can get in their bulletin. Create a free page about the retreat on Facebook and invite all of your friends. Maybe offer a give away / raffle in exchange for people sharing the info. Give yourself plenty of time to get the spots filled, and in turn, you can also create some buzz around the event (that might build into next year's event). Advertise at a slightly higher rate for "regular price."

As for final payments, I'd check with the place that you are running the retreat. Mine requires full payment (and locks everything in) by 45 days out from the event date. So, for my upcoming November retreat, I will offer payment plans, but everything needs to be paid in full by that date. And, if I still have spots open past the 45 day window, I can still add to my numbers but I will require that those folks pay up front. If someone hasn't paid in full, I will have to make it clear that they can't attend if they are not in good standing. My thinking here is that I can't financially cover individuals (should it turn our they are unable to pay), even if they have the best intentions.

Timelines around specific marketing are harder to speak to, not knowing your budget or your own social media reach or expertise. You may want to check out Pat Flynn's site for some tips on marketing - while you are not holding a virtual conference, this interview offers some great ideas around how to promote an event: http://www.smartpassiveincome.com/how-to-put-on-a-virtual-conference/

Do you have any questions around a retreat you're hosting that you'd like for me to answer? Drop me a note at welcomingspirit at gmail dot com. I'd love to hear from you.


Monday, May 18, 2015

Four Steps to Finding Balance in Your Life

In working with clients, and at retreats, "Life Balance" often comes up as a topic that people have trouble with. It's true that people seem to be more crunched for time, and have more that they want to do than ever before. I find that it's easier to keep the "walls are closing in around me" feeling at bay if you stop and mindfully work through these basic steps when you're feeling out of balance.


1. Identify What You Really Mean by Balance
When you're craving balance, it's good to start out with stopping to really identify what "balance" means to you.When clients tell me that they wish they had "more balance," they usually come to identify that they want to make time for something that is currently lacking in their life. They are often neglecting something that brings them peace or joy, or have been working longer than usual hours.

To get to the heart of what balance means to you, start with these questions:
What does balance mean to me?
Is it juggling everything that's been assigned to me, along with all of the things I think I "should" be doing?
Does it mean making more time for myself or family and friends?
Is there something specific I'm yearning for in my life that is missing?
What am I really saying when I say that I'm wishing I had more balance in my life?

2. Make a List of What You're Trying to Balance
A pragmatic way to start wading through what balance means to you is to make a big list. Take a few minutes and do a brain dump of everything you have on your to do list (mental or otherwise). Add all the things and people that need your attention. Include obligations, things you need to do to pay bills, time for yourself, and all the things you love doing. 

3. Pick  What to Say No to
As you spend time with the list, you may notice that there are some things that you'd like to stop doing. Or, if there's something new you want to add to the list, you may need to say "no" to something you're already doing to make space for for it. 

Take a good hard look at your list. What can you cross off? Are there some things that aren't active projects, but are just sitting there, taking up space? Be as intentional and honest with yourself as possible about reviewing your list, and let go of what you can. 

In some situations, you may also need to give yourself permission to cross things off of your list. Saying no to things is hard; if (like me) you've been a people pleaser, or a Type A personality, this may feel very foreign to you. Acknowledge that it's hard, but listen to your gut and your inner voice. If something or someone no longer serves you, or makes you feel "less than" who are, let it go.

4. Keep Your Priorities
Your priorities will likely be easy to spot. Go for the gut check here. Sometimes it just takes really tuning in to what you want (instead of listening to what the rest of the world wants, or what you think you "should" want). Saying "yes" to some of the things you want, that you love, that light you up, may also feel like foreign terrain to some people. Maybe it's hard for you to prioritize yourself. That is OK as well. Be gentle with yourself as you work on this list. 

Another great way to measure if something should be kept on your list, or even prioritized? If something or someone makes your heart soar, fills you with light, makes you feel more like you, then that is something or someone to hold on to. As with so many things in life, listen here to see if you are making a decision to keep something out of love? or are you letting fear have a hand in the decision? If it's love, then you can feel really good about deciding to keep that as a priority.

Once you have your list of priorities, and have identified what to say no to, it's time to act. By mindfully acting on what you want to keep, and what you want to let go of, you'll have a feeling of great control, and more joy and satisfaction in the way you spend your time.

Tuesday, May 12, 2015

Multi-Passionate Must Haves Bundle is Now Live

I've been working super hard on a "top secret" project over the last few weeks - revising and updating my "Finding Balance: Defining and Defending Harmony in Your Life" ecourse to be included in the Multi-passionate Must Haves bundle that goes live today.

Click here to buy your copy.

The bundle is 26 e-courses, e-books, and audios that value over $1700 if you purchased them individually. Starting today, for just 72 hours, you can grab them all for just $97. And my little Finding Balance course is included!



Even if you already went through the original Finding Balance e-course, it's worth checking it out again. This latest version has a newly added podcast for each exercise, a brand new ending, and it's now a six week E-course. What's more is that it's specially targeted for the "Multi-passionate" person.

What's a Multi-passionate?
Good question! If you find that you're constantly coming up with new creative ideas, that you have more ideas than you do time, or that you can't stand to be tied to just one career or course, well you may be a multi-passionate. Also known as "Renaissance Souls" or "Scanners," this type of person is hard wired to be interested, (passionate, even) in a multitude of things or pursuits. We find it exciting to learn about new things, to dabble in a bunch of different, possibly un-connected fields, delighting in figuring the thing out, and then moving on to the next thing that catches our interest. Society doesn't always understand a multi-passionate because we can seem a bit flighty (finishing stuff isn't our strong suit because we are passionate about learning, and it's the learning and absorbing of information that light us up - "finishing" isn't even the point), or like we can't stick to just one thing (because we love it all!).

If that description resonates with you, I welcome you in to the Multi-passionate world. I strongly self-identify as a multipassionate myself.

So, if that sounds like you - what are you waiting for? Head over and purchase your copy of the Multi-passionate Must Haves before Thursday at midnight (that's when the deal disappears forever).

You need more info? Want to know what's included?
- 2015 Life is Messy Planners by Mayi Carles ($40 value)
- Best of the Right Brain Business Plan Video Summit by Jennifer Lee ($97 value – EXCLUSIVE to the sale)
- Biz Shiz by Rebecca Tracey ($35 value)
- Coaching Biz Badassery Bootcamp by Jennie Mustafa-Julock ($250 value)
- Creative Business Kickstart by Amanda Genther ($75 value)
- Creative On Command: Instant Inspiration Exactly When You Need It by Jennifer Blanchard ($9.99 value)
- Find Your Career Compass by Michelle Ward ($37 value – EXCLUSIVE to the sale)
- Finding Balance: Tools to Define and Defend Harmony in Your Life by Paula Jenkins ($15 value – EXCLUSIVE to the sale)
- How to Sell Art on Instagram by Cory Huff ($25 value)
- How to Write a Lovable Homepage by Carrie Klassen ($165 value)
- Living Room Strategy Training by Tara Gentile ($99 value – EXCLUSIVE to the sale)
- Marketing for Creatives by April Bowles-Olin ($29.50 value)
- More Shenanigans Please by Tiffany Han ($31 value – EXCLUSIVE to the sale)
- Multi-Passionate Branding by Michelle Nicolaisen and Emilie Wapnick ($67 value)
- The Perfect Set of Testes by Halley Gray ($10 value – EXCLUSIVE to the sale)
- Ridiculously Awesome Resume & LinkedIn Combo Platter by Jenny Foss ($49 value)
- Say it with Grace: a blueprint for stellar client communications by Nita Apple and Jess Larsen Jukelevics ($159 value – EXCLUSIVE to the sale)
- The Ace Freelancer’s Guide to Negotiation by Katie Lane ($60 value – EXCLUSIVE to the sale)
- Be. Write. Now. Bringing Presence, Mojo, and Momentum to Your Creative Process by Jen Louden ($49 value – EXCLUSIVE to the sale)
- The Thriving Artist Master Mentors Bundle by Bonnie Glendinning ($135 value)
- Resume Template by Splash Resumes ($79 value – EXCLUSIVE to the sale)
- Turn Your Side Hustle Into a Full-Time Business by Alexis Grant ($47 value)
- Client Conversations by Diane Pauley ($97 value)
- Rock Your Work – Journaling for Success, Sanity and Satisfaction by Deb Cooperman ($16 value – EXCLUSIVE to the sale)
- Awkward, Yo by Shenee Howard ($35 value)
- Create Your Shining Year In Biz + Life Workbooks and Meditation by Leonie Dawson ($18 value)

I'm betting that by now you know you need this amazing set of e-courses, e-books, and audios. So hop on over to buy it, already!

*I do get a portion of each sale made through the links here. That said, I fully stand by the value and awesomeness of this bundle of products. I purchased the 2014 and 2015 bundle and totally believe that you will love this bundle.

Monday, May 11, 2015

Finding Balance: Defining and Defending Harmony in Your Life

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If you are having trouble accessing the page, please email me at welcomingspirit at gmail dot com and include the original password you received. I will be in touch with more information. Thank you for your patience!


Thursday, April 23, 2015

Five Minute Friday: Hide

For many years, I hid the true me - somewhere amongst the fear of being really seen, or the belief that my voice mattered, I hunkered down and just played small. This blog here kind of rattled along during those years, my voice to weak and unsure to really make any sort of splash. My message not quite polished or directed.



The last nearly five months have been about shattering through that ceiling. My phrase for the year has been "no toggle," which simply means living authentically. I'm the same person at work as I am at home as I am leading retreats. I don't shy from who that person is, and it frees me up to JUST BE.

The difference has been profound. I laugh more. I admit when I'm happy or scared or not feeling great. I speak my mind with my boss and the other "senior" folks at work. It's not that I don't care, it's more that I do care. I care about mattering, about being seen and heard, and that all started when I dropped worrying about what people would think if they knew who I "really" was.

When I stopped hiding, the most interesting thing happened. When I started being authentic, standing up for myself, being all in, well that's when people started listening more. They seek me out for advice, ask my opinion, want to spend more time, instead of less. It is the opposite of what I feared, of why I hid. And I really could not be happier.

Tuesday, April 14, 2015

Embracing our Brokenness, Accepting Ourselves

Perhaps you've seen the photo by Tyler Shields of the ballerina's feet? The left foot is wrapped, looks beautiful and graceful, wearing a ballet slipper while the dancer balances enpointe. The right foot is bear, showing multiple bandages, bruises, blood, cuts, worn toenails. It is showing the raw beating that a foot takes to dance enpointe. You can see the image here. It is what inspired this post I originally made during Lent.

I was taken aback when this image showed up in my Instagram feed on Thursday. Dance, broken-ness, projected image, perfection, practice, things hidden and those revealed, all rolled in to this one picture.


Each of us has flaws and our own brokenness is inherent to who we are. Even the most practiced of ballerinas, embodying beauty and grace, has her own brokenness, some of it hidden just below her shoes. Just below the surface. The scars of her practicing, her falling, her getting back up one more time then she falls to try again. And she does it all to fulfill what she is driven to do.

It is love and passion and failing that brings us to life, in our entirety, in our wholeness. We dance greatly because of our imperfections, they are what has formed us, what made us stronger, what gave us such strength and focus and purpose.

Like the ballerina, each of us has scars, our own equivalent of bruised toes that have supported our whole weight. Some of the the scars are emotional, some physical, some run so deep that we are nearly swallowed by them some days, while other days we stare it down and tell it to "be still." But each morning, we rise, we muster faith, we cover up what we can with pep talks and emotional bandages, and we keep going.

It is all a story of Crucifixion. It is all practice of dying and rising, getting ready for the final dying and rising. Our brokenness, our scars are reminders of dying. We sit with suffering. We are given opportunities to rise, to live out and past our pain, but for now, this is just practice. Practicing the dance and practicing living and falling and dying and rising.

"And great mystery: to redeem our brokenness and lovelessness the God who suffers with us did not strike some mighty blow of power but sent his beloved son to suffer like us, through his suffering to redeem us from suffering and evil.
Instead of explaining our suffering God shares it." - Nicholas Wolterstorff, Lament for a Son

Jesus is showing us how to do this;  He is the exemplification of sitting with the suffering. And on Easter Sunday, we will witness the trans formative nature of His suffering, His sharing in our suffering, as he Rises and our brokenness and lovelessness is redeemed.

If we embrace our brokenness we can accept ourselves in this moment, and accept the invitation to rise again. For today, we sit with broken-ness and see how it is intimately woven with love, with wholeness, with balance, and that it is all a part of the dance.


Thursday, March 26, 2015

Five Minute Friday: Break

Welcome to Five Minute Friday where I join Kate Motaung and the #FMFParty girls to write for five minutes. There's no editing, no polishing, and then we all link up together. I've been joining for Lent, and love the challenge.

And... go!

Traditionally a time of reflection, of self review, of solitude, Lent has become something so different for me over the last couple of years. Yes, plenty of reflection, and self review, but instead of the quiet and retreat like space, I have gathered with a whole group of lovely women to travel the road to Easter.

Kath and I take up a largely un-choreographed dance for forty days, each day posting a new reflection, each day taking a turn to chat with our group. While it is sometimes scheduled, many of the days there is a text "I can post this morning," or "I'll post later," or "Can you post today," and we do. We support each other. It is an act of community and beauty. I love this part of the dance.

By the end of the season, we have hit a time of mixed emotions in so many ways. I'm always torn on how to address The Crucifixion. We can not ignore the truth of what leads up to Christ's death, as grizzly and awkward and unnerving and upsetting as it is. It is part of the love story, this death. And the elation and glory of Easter can not be the same unless we have sat with the heartbreak and ultimate sadness of Christ's death. This is how life is. We descend to ascend.

And so as many people rush off to Spring Break and a time of renewal, for my little tribe, we still have one week before we get to that break. We have a road to travel, a story to bear witness to, and a heartbreaking love story to witness. And then, only then, we can rest.