We All Need That Place: A Heart-to-Heart on Building Communities

If you want to build a real community by (and for) real people, it all comes down to this one good intention:  

Create a safe place to share.

If you want a community where people feel comfortable leaning on each other in good times and bad, create a place where they feel strengthened and supported, not sold to or swindled. If they want it, they’ll find it and they’ll buy it. It's as simple as that.

If you want a community where vulnerability is not only tolerated – but celebrated – create a place where you can be vulnerable yourself. Remove all facades, set the tone, and see what happens. Then, prepare to be amazed. 

If you want a community that’s not loud, or automated, or filled with “click here!” cruft, create a place where softness and serenity is cherished. Celebrate new babies. Toast to new jobs. Offer a shoulder when life gets dark. The world needs more of this. Your people will prioritize this place, because sacred spaces are, to borrow words from Salman Rushdie, rarer than rubies.

If you want a community that you love, and who loves you back – whether you’re a person, a brand, a business, a product, or a service – create a place where people feel safe sharing their own story within your larger narrative. Please note: it’s not about you. It’s about how people feel about what you say, and fit you into their life based on the emotions you reveal. Let that humble your offering and offer a new perspective for invention.  

If you want to build a real community by – and for – real people, create a place to give what your own soul craves. I need that place. She needs that place. He needs that place. We all need that place.  

In the history of everything that makes us human, one thing is clear: we all want to be acknowledged. 

To be heard. To be seen. 

To be toasted. To be cheered.

To be loved, flaws and all. 

Do you know why Adele tugs on 3.5 million heartstrings?

It's because she captures the emotions we've all felt, beyond borders and language barriers, giving people an outlet for expressing their own – alone or collectively. 

Yes, we all need that place. 

Whether or not we know each other "in real life." (It's all real life.)

Whether or not our coordinates fall on opposite ends of the earth, and we’ve never met face-to-face. It doesn’t matter. Words and the emotions behind them have no travel restrictions.  

We all need that place to go when we’re weary, when we need to make sense of it all, when we need to ask for help, when we need to commiserate, when we need to lean in and be strong for another soul may be walking where our footsteps once carved out a place on the Earth. 

We all need that place. 

Community is how we create that for ourselves – and for each other. Content is how we travel to that place. It’s how we reach each other through the heart, beyond time, distance, or life experience.

If you want to build a real community by (and for) real people, you know it all comes down to this:  

Create a safe place to share.  

And watch what happens when you offer the purest of emotions and intentions.  

Thanks and Giving: What We're Loving This Week

Can you believe Thanksgiving is just around the corner? (Grab your stretch pants, folks!)

We’re hard at work here in the Lexicontent studio, taking care of the projects on our desks and the people who’ve been such an integral part of our year. 

We know you’re also winding down your week, so we wanted to pass the plate and share what we’ve been reading, watching, and listening to lately. 

“When We Were Young” by Adele, Live at The Church Studios

We’re so glad we live in a time where mastery and artistry are so highly respected. Speaking of which, is there anyone more highly respected than Adele? We’re (literally) counting down the minutes until ’25’ drops this week, and playing this video on loop until our iTunes preorders download. Wait for the end: the mark of a true pro is an artist that can belt it out like no other and act like it’s just another Tuesday afternoon. 

“Figure That Shift Out: An Invitation to Relax Into Your Brilliance” by Chris McAlister 

This book is required reading for all our fellow creative entrepreneurs out there. Trust us. Chris tells stories from his deep well of experience, demonstrating firsthand how to use introspection as a means of building momentum. It’s easy to white-knuckle your way to success, but if you’re not hitting pause, figuring out the root of your fear, and reframing your days to build resilience – then what good is working at breakneck speed? A perfect read as you ease into some well-deserved rest this season. Pick up your copy from Amazon here.

The Thanksgiving Reader by Seth Godin

We're huge fans of Seth Godin, and read his words pretty much each and every morning over coffee. He's compiled a beautiful reader full of passages, quotes, and food for thought about what it means to share the same space here on Earth, and how to celebrate thanks and giving together. This is such a beautiful tradition to start — especially this year. Take a few minutes to pass this around with your family and friends or enjoy some quiet solo reflection. 

Angels Among Us Pet Rescue

If you follow Amanda and Joe's personal Instagram accounts, it’s no secret by now that we’ve got a heart for animal rescue. This past month, we’ve welcomed a few new furry friends into our studio: a Mom (Delphina), her babies (Pita and Frita), and another new girl (Cookie), who are joined by their older sister that we’ve had since 2013 (Olive). We donate on the regular, but would love if you’d contribute to Angels so that they'll be able to give medical treatment, vaccines, and eventually homes to many more cats and dogs in need this holiday season. Visit Angels Among Us to donate, and remember, no contribution is ever too small.

50 Questions Every Female Founder Should Ask Themselves by Nicole Aguirre 

This soup-to-nuts list of questions is a great gut check tool as we coast from one year’s end to another’s beginning. We’ll be carving out time to journal using a few of these questions as prompts – you can try your hand at it too, and see what inspiration for blog posts, podcasts, or newsletter topics you uncover. (Note from Joe: Guys, take a minute to read through these, and you'll see that they apply just as well to you!)

1000 Awesome Things

1000 Awesome Things is like a sun spot on a chilly winter afternoon: you just want to bask in the glow of it. Author Neil Pasricha helps you become more mindful of all the pieces of your day that are worth celebrating in his follow-up books, “The Book of Awesome”, “The Journal of Awesome”, “The Book of Holiday Awesome”, “The Book of Even More Awesome”, and “Awesome Is Everywhere”. We can’t think of a better series to curl up with or share at your family’s dining room table this Thanksgiving. Start with the blog, and then check out the full lineup of Neil's books.

Star Talk with Neil deGrasse Tyson

Hayden Planetarium director and "Your Personal Astrophysicist" Neil deGrasse Tyson is on a mission to raise the profile of science in our culture as the host of two separate StarTalk shows: his StarTalk television show on National Geographic, and the StarTalk Radio podcast that inspired it. Every episode is a platform where his colleagues, celebrities, and other public figures can openly embrace their curiosity and show what many people would consider their "nerdy side," making the complexities of science more approachable in the process. Dr. Tyson's work reminds us to pursue our own curiosity and sense of wonder with the same enthusiasm he carries with him everywhere he goes.

Wishing you and yours a safe, happy, and restful Thanksgiving! Go kick back, make some memories, and tell some stories with the ones you love. 

- Amanda & Joe

Gathering Heartfelt Testimonials: Integrating Client Praise into Your Content

If content is currency, then the weight of kind words matters.

Testimonials can persuade, entertain, and showcase your tribe in action, giving prospective clients confidence from those who've once put their confidence in you. 

But like every client, not every testimonial can be a home run.

The quality of testimonials often depends on a number of factors, such as:

  • your reviewer’s energy level (end of a long Monday, first day post-launch)
  • current location (busy Starbucks, cramped airline seat)
  • enjoyment of writing (when the words don’t come easy, it can be hard to reveal excitement)
  • enthusiasm for you and your work (if you pleasantly solved a problem, they’re more likely to naturally gush)

Testimonials are nuggets of content gold that should be mined, collected, and melted down into your content so that it can bring richness to your brand’s presence. 

Words about your work can demonstrate each client’s emotional experience, rather than simply the linear process, for getting things done. Said best by Aileen Lee of Kleiner Perkins Caufiled & Byers, "social proof" (i.e., case studies, recognizable logos, and testimonials) have the ability to convert on confidence alone. 

How do heartfelt testimonials work for you? 

They can bring... 

• the types of projects you want more of
• a high reputation among a certain niche (e.g., wellness coaching, systems optimization) 
• higher conversion rates by 34% ("100 Conversion Optimization Case Studies")
• a greater awareness of how your process works from people who've worked through it

Stoking the flames of happy clients and customers is more than just asking for someone to rave. It’s about unraveling your brand’s emotional appeal – what it stands for and how it solved a pain point – and using it in a strategic way that lets you do more of what people already love.

Here are a few tips for gathering heartfelt testimonials and making wise use of them in your content.

1. Keep a single, sharp question in your back pocket.

Asking for a testimonial is an art form. Between the right time and the right questions, you want to get in, get out, and get the best praise your client has to offer without asking for too much work on their end. 

One of the biggest faux pas when it comes to asking for a testimonial is creating a comprehensive questionnaire that covers each and every aspect of the project you’ve finished, from first step to last. While it can be helpful to collect answers from a Google Form or a Typekit, it helps to be discerning in the quality and quantity of the questions you ask. 

Since you want to extract the most heartfelt reaction with the smallest time investment, go bare bones with a single question bolded in the body of an email. By making it easy to hit the reply button and fire off their first reactions, you’re cultivating the richest emotional response right off the bat. Here’s a peek at one of the questions we keep handy: 

What was the best part of working with us, and how did it make you feel? 

By removing the burden of writing and sending a longform testimonial, your client will feel at ease to express their enthusiasm naturally, without being weighted down by an arduous question and answer process.

2. Bake positioning into your questioning.

Pairing our question with our positioning is no accident. Since Lexicontent is founded on the belief that emotion and feeling is the heartbeat of all content, it makes sense for us to prompt our clients to share their emotional response along with their results. 

Here are a few kind words we've heard in passing: 

“I got goosebumps when I saw the final version – it felt like my voice, but better!" 
“You finally made me feel liberated from the burden of telling my story. Since I didn't have to spend hours worrying about my positioning, I could simply do the work of bringing my business to life." 
“I could truly focus on giving my client the best branding package possible, without worrying about their content sitting idle in the background, or stalling their launch.” 

If you have a tagline or piece of messaging that you use throughout your marketing efforts, how can you tie it into your testimonial question to provoke a response that feels on-brand? 

3. Capture candid moments of expression.

We love to capture testimonials through candid moments of praise. During conference calls mid-project, at the end of a revision, or prior to official launch, our clients will drop words and phrases about our work that often stop us dead in our tracks and bring immense perspective to the work at hand. 

Since we record most of our calls through UberConference and Skype, we simply need to re-listen to the discussion, transcribe their direct quote, and ask if we can borrow their candid praise for our site.

Since it came straight from them – unfiltered – this strategy works well because there’s zero heavy lifting on the client’s part and we get to save testimonials in realtime, which saves us an extra email.

4. Offer a testimonial swap.

If you work closely with creative partners and allies (for example, if you’re a copywriter who works with designers, a designer who works with illustrators, or a brand strategist who works with web developers), ask if they'd be willing to do a testimonial swap with you. You’ll both benefit from having some shining words from a trusted source, and you can certainly vouch for each other’s processes.

This is a great “quick win,” since you both understand the value of a great testimonial, and can speak to the inner workings of factors clients look for, such as personality traits, a sense of humor, and ease of access. A great testimonial has a boomerang effect, so the words you write have a good chance of coming back to both of you in the form of more projects that you can work on together.

5. Place testimonials where you want your past clients to speak for your future ones.

When you’ve received a glowing review, be sure to collect them in one central location: a spreadsheet, a dedicated folder in your inbox, or an Evernote notebook are just a few examples. 

Preferably, this space should be somewhere that you can drop testimonials into like a bucket, and revisit when you’re in the mood to add a little extra client love to your site.

Always ask your client for permission to trim or make small edits to their testimonial when necessary. Once you've done so, pair it with an area of your site where it makes the most sense. For example, you can add a one-line "impact statement" somewhere on the front page, an expanded paragraph as a sidebar on your testimonial page, or right next to your email newsletter squeeze page. Testimonials can also be helpful when it comes to breaking up large blocks of content.

If you offer products or services, be sure to stack a testimonial right above or next to your “buy” button. You’ll help convert readers based on emotion, rather than rationalization alone, while making strategic use of your online real estate in the process. 

A great testimonial can help you do more of what you do best. It can also help your clients make decisions in less time, and with more heart.

When prospective clients hover over your “buy” button, hearing someone else's voice speak the truth can truly make all the difference. 

Hands Off: 7 Tips to Handle Content Thieves With Tact

Let’s just say it. 

There’s no worse feeling than seeing your stolen content make a cameo on another website. Whether they’ve lifted an entire blog post, snatched and tailored some body copy, or pawned your images or videos off as their own, the volatile combination of resentment and frustration you feel at first glance is enough to leave any business owner shaking their fists with rage. 

The damage has been done. Now what? While it seems like there’s no easy way to achieve content justice, all it takes – in most cases – is some fancy footwork to keep your brand’s content assets safe. 

Put a copyright notice where it can't be ignored.

The Digital Millennium Copyright Act protects all content published online under copyright law, whether you’ve displayed a copyright symbol on the page or not. Your content – which includes words, images, videos, or other media – are yours, and cannot be used by others for profit without your express permission. Copyright laws exist so that you can exercise full control over where, when, and how you publish your work. 

However, publishing content means it’s your business to check up on who may be stealing it. By registering under the DMCA, you can protect against sticky fingers and document that your creative work belongs to you and you alone. Sites like Squarespace and Wordpress already come with copyright notices baked in, but if you're not sure how to add one to your website, ask someone who knows, so you can make it clear that you won’t tolerate plagiarism.

Stay on alert to find infringement as it happens. 

Sites like Copyscape exist for this very reason: to help you find your biggest offenders. Enter your website URLs into the search box and you’ll be able to spot duplicate content across the web. Copyscape will also encourage you to search for related URLs, like your About or Services page, so be sure to run a health check on as many pages as possible each month to keep tabs.  

You can also set a Google Alert to keep a watchful eye on any content thievery that might happen behind your back. Add your business name, few key phrases used in your content, and any trademarked words that belong to you. If something fishy happens, you’ll be able to track who has published your words, and where. 

If the offender has an email newsletter, subscribe to it to send a wicked smoke signal. 

By subscribing to their newsletter or mailing list, you not only let the content thief know you’re onto them – but you’ll also be able to keep tabs to see if they’ve copy/pasted any of your words and phrases in the future.

If the offender is watching their subscriber list carefully enough, a guilty conscience and some flustered cheeks may be all it takes to resolve the issue quickly.

Write a firm email, but don’t ask them to change anything. 

It can be easy to let emotions get the best of you, so take a break before you hurl threats or get personal. Go for a run, grab another cup of coffee… whatever it takes to clear your mind and come back to the keyboard with diplomacy.

Start your email off by borrowing a trick from your Mom, letting the content thief know how disappointed you are in what you’ve found on their site. Include screenshots of your site next to theirs, and be sure to clearly and articulately point out where your content shows up by referencing page URL’s and areas on the page, such as headlines, body copy, or calls-to-action.

Tools like Skitch allow you to add a big, red arrow to the place on the page you’re referencing, so the content in question is big, bold, and obvious. You can also try using the Wayback Machine to prove that your original content was published first, in case they attempt to claim ownership.

Hit your point home the sign-off by telling the offender that, from one business owner to another, it’s poor form to steal creative content. If you'd like to extend some grace, tell them that you'd be happy to give them a few copywriter referrals if they need help finding the right words to express themselves.

Finally, don’t ask them to change anything. Simply tell them you’ve noticed your content on their website, and you’re willing to take further action to protect your work if necessary.

Send an invoice.

When push comes to shove, don’t get mad – get paid. If you hear crickets after taking the steps above, get serious about your actions by sending an invoice for the time you spent creating the stolen content. 

Dan Catt, a photographer, took a photo of his son drinking from a juice box back in 2008. When BuzzFeed lifted the photo for one of its list pieces, “18 Everyday Products You’ve Been Using Wrong” and racked up 4.3 million views, 7,000 tweets, and 101,000 Facebook shares, Dan took things into his own hands by sending an invoice for $500 for the photo.

BuzzFeed agreed to pay the amount for Dan’s work, which he requested be donated to Chordoma Foundation, a nonprofit on a mission to improve the lives of those affected by chordoma. Done and done. 

By sending an invoice after multiple points of contact, you’re also creating a paper trail that you can use in your defense, should you decide to pursue more serious legal action. 

Keep your content case locked for the right context.

If you have important collateral like client files, portfolio work, design comps, PDF’s or package specific details (e.g., wedding planning packages, branding packages), you might protect them from wandering eyes with an invitation-only access code.

This isn’t to say that you should put your entire site to private viewing only. However, if you have details that should only be discussed privately, with potential clients or interested partners, consider protecting your content for the right context. Sites like Squarespace allow you to put some pages on an invitation-only mode, so when an interested client wants to see more, they can send you a message and you can send them the “key”. 

While it’s not right for every type of content, this strategy allows you to evaluate the person requesting the information and decide for yourself whether or not you want to share your work with them. If they're not the right fit, you have the option of keeping it to yourself.

If all else fails, ask for an introduction to a lawyer who understands creative businesses. 

If you’ve tried everything, ask around for an introduction to a lawyer who works with businesses in creative services, and specifically, copyright issues. Some lawyers will give you a small counseling session for free before you decide your next plan of action. Send them every piece of incriminating information you’ve got, and remember: any investment you have to make is also an investment in protecting your work. 

The twisted thing about content thievery? 

It feels icky to admit, but the content thief in question is clearly a huge fan of yours if they were impressed with your work enough to put their name on it and spread it around. The silver lining is that you've created content that people want for themselves, which is an enormous testament to the quality of the work you're publishing. Just make sure you take the right steps to protect it. 

How We Put the Heart, Mind, and Soul to Work in Your Words

When you're doing it all yourself, creating content can feel bittersweet.

On the one hand, high quality content requires your full time, energy, and focus. It pulls you away from your to-do list in order to write, plan, promote, and publish. It’s hanging over your head, like some kind of painful obligation.

We’ve heard it time and time again: “I’d rather go for a root canal than create my own content,” and “The cobbler’s children don't have shoes.” While you might love writing and have good months where your posts are in the queue or you’re hitting “send” every other week, there’s always something that seems to get in the way of creating it consistently. 

On the other hand, high quality content commands your audiences’ full attention. It speaks to them in powerful ways that sound delightfully different and refreshing from everything else that’s yelling for them. Content is the rope that connects HOW your business fulfills the WHY behind what your customers need. Done well, your content can encourage people to make a purchase or click to follow.

But wouldn’t it be amazing if your content went one step further? Consider what could happen if the content you published moved people toward your mission, inspiring them to stand behind what you stand for. Even better, what if the whole content process was less "painstaking" and more "painless"? 

If you haven’t heard, we’ve just launched our $99 Content Continued trial offer designed to help you get a taste for how we plan, create, and publish custom content for you each and every month. Totally heart-on, totally hands-off.

Content Continued is the best way to transform what you know into what you share, so that your expertise, mission, and voice all reach your community day by day, month by month. 

Here are four reasons we love the content we get to create for our Content Continued clients.

Content is created with your voice at heart. 

This isn’t about putting content on a conveyor belt. It’s about conveying your voice, your story, and what you believe in through the power of emotive content.

After you’ve sent us a message and we’ve scheduled a meet and greet call, we’ll send you an Emotional Targeting Workbook, the cornerstone to everything we produce. The workbook, designed to create high-impact clarity in a short amount of time, is where you’ll express everything about yourself, your business, and how you’d like content to make your tribe feel.

As we develop blog posts, case studies, and newsletters, the words and phrases that you share in the workbook will trickle down into the content, making it look, feel, and sound just like you… but better. This time around, though, you won’t spend hours agonizing over how to turn your ideas and passion into polished and published content that convinces readers to take action.

Content is planned with your intentions in mind.

Content is a heartbeat, and so much more than just written and visual fodder that “fills the tank". It’s a sharing platform that connects you to your tribe, and a living landline that lets you share what you know and listen closely to what’s needed. It’s a place to offer insight, launch new products and services, absorb feedback, and ask for opinions.

Content Continued allows you to create, share, and connect, all while helping you step into a higher level of intention toward your next goal – whether that has to do with sales, expansion, or operations. We’ll work closely with you to identify your biggest ambitions, and build content designed with your specific destination in mind.

Content is published with equal parts strategy and soul.

One of the reasons we founded Lexicontent was to trump conventional content, and stand against the status quo of “blast” campaigns, aggressive marketing, and reckless publishing that offends the senses (and inboxes) of readers.

That’s why our content is planned purposefully and intentionally, with a deep understanding of who you’re talking to and why they're paying attention to you in the first place. By understanding not only your story, but the story of those who you’re speaking to, we can approach storytelling and content creation from a strategic and soulful approach that feels intimate, rather than intimidating. 

Content is delivered with ease. 

Best of all, the content we create as part of your Content Continued package is delivered straight to you every month, so that you can deliver it to the people who want to discover it most.

Besides the occasional interview, comments or feedback, and check-in call, the content creation process rests in our hands so it doesn’t have to fall in your lap. Above all, we want you to help shape the stories, without being solely responsible for the storytelling itself.

If you’d like to take a test run of Content Continued yourself, click here to introduce yourself. Choose from a blog post, newsletter, or case study, and we’ll show you how content can work for you!