First, Callie Sitek is amazing and was an amazing podcast guest, please check her out!
Today is a tough tough subject, and only something I recently changed my mindset on. It's all about learning to say “okay” to investing in yourself, and how it's worth the sacrifice of money instead of the sacrifice of time.
For the majority of my twenties, I was NOT into spending money on myself when it came to learning about business. I definitely hacked my way into successful ventures but spent a TON of time googling things like “how to make a business plan” or trying to learn about premium pricing. I felt something like animosity towards the very idea that I would pay someone else to learn what they knew when I could just google it, or piece it together through 4 free apps instead of buying 1 paid app. Yeah, it'd take more time, but I would still keep my hard-earned money. Suckers!
And it did take more time. WAY more time. If I was able to actually calculate the amount of time I spent googling things instead of paying someone, I'd probably freak because I definitely wasted months of my life. I wouldn't pay for Shopify so I'd tweak out my free WooCommerce site for days, and then spend more days trying to fix bugs. I wouldn't take classes on marketing, so I'd just spend time googling guerilla marketing tactics, and get frustrated because none of it seemed tailored to where I was in my business. It felt like chopping your way through a jungle when there was a paved road was right next to you, but you'd have to pay a toll to get on it.
In my thirties I had a “Come to Jesus” about this way of thinking. What really changed was, I think, my feelings of self-worth. I came to value my life more, and with that came valuing my time more. My accountabilibuddy and I talked about this earlier this year, how we both were so anti-paying for things that we just let it all pass us by while we were still trying to figure it out on our own.
I've gone from, like, 0 – 60 mph on this mindset shift within the past 2 or so months. I went from spending $0 on help, to dropping $800 alone on classes about things I want to learn. And, the full truth, it wasn't easy every time. I still felt resentment at paying people in my field money to learn what they know. It started as a begrudging agreement and began to lessen the more I began to learn and implement.
Here's the thing: It can sting when you give up your money and trust it will be replaced with something of value, but it REALLY stings when you give up your money for something and don't let it do its job. For all of the money I've spent this year on courses, apps, tools, and people, I haven't completely regretted one cent of it (especially the people) because I've gone incredibly slowly, taking time to focus on one thing, without distraction, implement, and then move on to the next.
So what's worth your time, and what's worth investing in?
This can vary business to business, but I find there are a few truths that go across the board:
Worth your time
- Product development
- Launch scheduling
- Public Relations (to an extent. Being available for interviews mostly)
- Establishing processes and systems
- Onboarding new employees
Worth investing in
- Courses to teach you how to learn what you need to get ahead
- Systems and apps that automate tasks (social media, email responses, customer onboarding)
- People to take mundane tasks off your hand that you shouldn't be doing (Virtual Assistants, Editors)
- People to take professional tasks off your hand that you shouldn't be doing (Accountants, Lawyers, Publicists)
Here's what I've invested in within the past year and why (some affiliate links are below, but I only recommend things I actually use):
- LeadPages – I wanted a place that could manage my sales pages AND automate lead delivery. Also, I'm a total dork for LeadDigits and wish I had that when I was doing trade shows
- ConvertKit – I left MailChimp because I wanted the ability to email all segments of my newsletters, AND tag them so that I could help each subscriber in a unique way based off of their needs. I was close to getting over the free 2k subscribers MailChimp lets you reach out to, and it just didn't feel like it was a better value to stay there. ConvertKit has made me SO happy, I wish I would've moved sooner.
- Hootsuite Pro – I had the free Hootsuite for years, but I needed something more robust for my Social Media Manager to be able to use. The suggested content alone was SO worth it.
- Tweet Jukebox – I use it solely for the quotes function, it keeps a constant stream of content on my Twitter feed that I don't need to do myself
- Long Tail Pro – Keyword research is a critical part of my business, and trying to find out what pain points are out there that I can help with. I show how to use this in Perfect Product Copy, but there are tons of ways this app can be tweaked and used for product-based businesses.
- Boardbooster – This is solely for Pinterest, but oh man $5/month to have my Pinterest account automated so I don't get stuck in a black hole of time? Yes, please.
- Courses – So far I've enrolled in 5 courses this year. I'm not ready to recommend any as I've only finished 1 in its entirety, and the others I'm going through and implementing, but this has been a big part of my expenses this year and the biggest one I had to get over paying for.
- People – I've got Vinness, who's a social media manager for Steve's blog, Roanne for my podcast and video editing, and soon we'll be hiring a photo editor and a full-time virtual assistant. I work with OnlineJobs.ph to handle this. I know some folks are offended about outsourcing, so it's up to you whether you look here or abroad. I've also outsourced tiny stuff to folks on Fiverr.
- I've also used 99 Designs in the past because I knew that while I didn't have a crazy budget for designers, I wasn't entirely sure what I wanted for a packaging update in my product-based business, so I used 99 Designs to crowdsource ideas and find a design that spoke to me.
Here's what all of that has saved me:
As I'm writing this, the word count for this post alone is over 1200 words, which is bananas for me. I used to throw up a 300 word post as good enough (at least, that's what my SEO plugin told me) and go work on all the other pieces that needed to be done, because all of that felt just as important and, even if it wasn't, it still needed to get done. Now, since I've got apps and people to take care of things for me, I have the time to think out a long post, create free workbooks for you guys, and deliver the most value that I can. Now that I have traded my hard-earned money for extra time, I'm able to work on the things that must be absolutely done by me, and rarely have to add to my cognitive stress by thinking of everything else.
That's what investing in yourself buys: The ability to work on only the things you need, and not the tasks that you don't. (Hat tip to Tim Ferriss' amazing book and my bible, the 4 Hour Work Week, for teaching me this.)