Kathi and Tonya Kubo, one of her favorite human beings, are here continuing the discussion on building followers from zero. Last week they kicked off the series talking about brand. Listen in to learn how not to put the cart before the horse, how to create a compelling offer and:
- How to know what to offer your people
- How to find your giant BUT
- Discover a great framework to build from
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What if you were able to suddenly create a life where you not only looked forward to writing each and every day, but a life where you actually have the time and ideas to write, and could build a following of readers hungry for what you’re writing? And then, what if you were actually able to turn writing into a business?
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Meet Your Hosts
Author, Speaker, Communicator Academy Creator and CEO
Tonya Kubo is the illustrious and fearless leader of Kathi Lipp’s Clutter Free Academy Facebook group and the Clutter Free for Life membership program. A speaker and writer, Tonya makes her home in the heart of California with her husband, Brian, their two spirited daughters, and one very tolerant cat. Visit her at www.tonyakubo.com.
Read along with the Podcast!
Writing at The Red House Podcast # 222
Kathi – Well, hey friends. Welcome to the Writing at the Red House podcast, where we gather at the table to break bread and tell tales with some of our favorite creators who love to share the story of God’s extravagant love. Back with me today is one of my favorite human beings, Tonya Kubo. Tonya, welcome back to the podcast.
Tonya – Thanks for having me.
Kathi – So last week, we talked about brand and why there are a lot of cart/horse situations with branding. Maybe you should know what you want to do before you brand it. So, in other words, do the opposite of every Instagram influencer under the age of twenty-three. Okay? That’s our first tip. I want to talk about how to create a compelling offer. Offers are really important. Cheri Gregory just did a series on ‘fee offers and free offers’ and all that kind of stuff, but I want to talk to you about, “How do you know what to offer your people?” I think that is important. There are so many things. “That guru offered me the same thing this other guru offered me. All the gurus are running into each other.” How do you offer something unique and different?
Tonya – I’m so glad you brought up gurus. Here’s what I hear a lot. Somebody has this idea, and will call me in a panic. “I just saw on social media that XYZ guru is doing the same thing I’m doing! So, they’re going to get all of the sales. I’m going to get none of the sales. I need to let go and cry in my soup.” Or, if you see anyone that offers something similar. If you’re writing a memoir, there may be a lot of memoirs out there that talk about challenging mother/daughter relationships, but there’s no memoir out there that talks about your specific challenging mother/daughter relationship. I think it’s easy, when we’re writing our own stories, to see the difference, but when you’re doing something that’s a little more prescriptive – you’re talking about how to overcome a challenge of people pleasing, or perfectionism – there’s a lot of similar advice out there. It can be very easy to say, “Well, everybody has already covered it.” But the thing is, there is a BUT in there. I friend who says, “We’ve got a very large BUT, and we’ve got to get the BUT out of the room.”
Kathi – It’s the Beyonce BUT.
Tonya – I didn’t know if I could say that one here.
Kathi – You totally can.
Tonya – It’s the Beyonce BUT. You’ve got to move Beyonce out of the room. But in this case, when you’re thinking about your compelling offer, you want Beyonce right there, beside you. There is whatever everybody else is doing, but *blank*. Your offer lives in the blank. That’s where you show up and serve. I like using Clutter Free Academy as an example. Number one, you’re familiar with it. Number two, I’m familiar with it. It’s an area that we both know a lot about. So, in Clutter Free Academy, there are a lot of people I can listen to whose end goal is to get me to have a decluttered space. Some people are focused on teaching me how to organize; how to put things into certain containers; how to contain my stuff. Other people are interested in teaching me how to reduce the volume of stuff I have. If I have a lot less stuff, by default, I’m going to have less clutter. You, on the other hand, say, “Well, the stuff is the issue, but it’s actually not about the stuff. It’s about how you feel about the stuff; how the stuff makes you feel, and the value and importance you put on the stuff.” So, you have this crazy idea, Kathi, that the stuff holds you back from your greater purpose. You have a simple organizational system. It’s super-simple, because the organizational system isn’t the problem. Right? The problem is this emotional connection to all this stuff. So, that’s the BUT that you live in. Right? It’s not how you fold your clothes. It’s not the color-coded label, or organizational things.
Kathi – This is part of the reason I feel like some of the organizational systems, and the decluttering systems don’t work. You can just dive in, and you don’t have to confront the hard stuff. I’m making you confront the hard stuff, but it helps you with every decision for the rest of your life after that.
Tonya – And the thing is, Kathi, you don’t offer a quick fix.
Kathi – Yeah. I wish I could.
Tonya – You offer somebody, “You can do this in 20 minutes a day.” But it’s 20 minutes a day times a lot of days.
Kathi – Yeah, the rest of your life.
Tonya – You don’t pretend it’s anything less than it is. You don’t pretend it’s anything more than it is. So, when you’re thinking about how to create a compelling offer, we talked about this is the last episode. You really have to talk to your people. You have to figure out who you are serving. You’ve got to figure out what you want. You don’t get to go to sleep one day and say, “This is what the world needs from me.” You’ve got to figure out what they want. When you’re looking at other people who are offering similar stuff, or who have a similar interest to you, what gap is out there that you can fill?
Kathi – So, how do you discover your gap? How do we find our giant BUT? I mean that in the most brand-worthy way possible. “So, there are lot of people out there that talk about clutter. There are a lot of people out there that talk about marriage relationships, but you are different because XX.” So, how do you discover that BUT?
Tonya – So, part of it is being aware. If you’re already serving an audience, they will tell you. We hear this all the time in Clutter Free Academy. “Oh my gosh, I have 22 million books, but no book ever said this!” And you’re like, “Okay, there’s my different shading. That’s what sets me apart.” So, for me, when I work with clients, what I hear back all the time is, there are a lot of people who tell them what they should do on social media. “Do this or else.” I’m the person who talks about the practical vs the ideal. “Yeah, you should do that. Will you?” and if your answer to me is ‘no’, then “What can we figure out that you will do to get you closer to your results?” Right? I’m the practical vs the ideal person. That’s where I live in the space. When you’re thinking about how to figure out what you can offer, look at what are the gaps? What isn’t somebody teaching? Or, if you read a blog post, and you go, “You know what they left out? This.” That’s something that sets you apart from everybody else. I used to be on this email list that talked about people from hard backgrounds. It would talk a lot about your fatal flaw. “Your fatal flaw is this. Your fatal flaw is that.” I would get really mad when I read these emails, because I was like, “That is not my fatal flaw. That’s my superpower.” That topic is not the topic on which I’ve been called to teach. Right? But if it was, I would know exactly what offer I could put out in the world that would set me apart. I would just flip everything that other person says. “No! That fact that you are so independent is not a fatal flaw. That’s a superpower, because you get to do this, and this, and this.” Part of that is who I am. I, very much, come from a place of “You can.” I’m solution oriented. I’m not the type of person who’s going to sit back and go, “Awe, look what happened to me.” You can do that, too! Can you offer something that nobody else is offering? If the answer is “No, because my topic is clutter, and clutter has been covered six ways from Sunday.” Then could you offer the same thing, but in a different way? So, Kathi, we talk about this a lot in Clutter Free Academy, that there are a lot of systems out there that talk about minimizing before you organize, but only you talk about “Nobody gets to decide what is clutter but you.” You don’t ever tell somebody that their 52 Star Wars figurines are 51 too many. You know, if you love it, you use it, you’ve got the space for it? It’s all yours. You have fun with that. It’s not going to be in your house, Kathi. That’s a big stance you have. We don’t label each other. So, when you think about, as a writer, what do you have to bring to the table? I think about the hard mother/daughter stories. I seem to come across a lot of those. There are the people who would write the story and talk about, “You know what? If you can’t be kind, if your relationship with your parents is toxic, maybe the most honoring thing you can do is create some space between you and that parent.” Somebody else might tell a story about how, “As you get older, even if your mom wasn’t the mom you needed, you have an opportunity, as our parents age, they need us to care for them, you have an opportunity to redeem that relationship by how you choose to mother your mom.”
Kathi – Yes. It’s so true. It’s interesting. As you were talking, I’m thinking, “If you are a writer/content creator/speaker/whomever, and you need to figure out what your giant BUT is, (I love that, I’m just going to talk about giant BUTs all day), your background is journalism. So, this comes very naturally to you, but I want to frame it in a different way than you may have thought about it yourself, because you’re asking the who/what/where/why/when/how. One of the things I’m very interested in is homesteading. Living off the land. There are groups for homesteaders who are new to homesteading. That is a group. Even if there are a million homesteaders out there, and there are, the ‘who’ of it can be your big BUT. You’re not talking to people who are pros. I’m in a couple of different chicken groups. One of the groups, I can say, “Hey! This weird thing is happening with my chickens.” If I ask in the big Backyard Chicken group, I’m going to be mocked, because it’s like, “Oh my goodness, didn’t you do any research before you did this?” but in the Beginner Chicken group, people are like, “Don’t worry about it. We know you’re new to chickens. This is what’s happening.” So, it’s the ‘who’ you are, in there, then the ‘what’. So, in homesteading, what do you consider homesteading? For us, it’s a very different thing than if you’re watching Homestead Rescue. Those people are hardcore. We are not hardcore. We are not praying over our chickens to lay eggs, ‘cause that’s the only protein we have. We do go to Costco.
Tonya – I haven’t seen this show, but suddenly I’m interested.
Kathi – It’s the best show ever. I love it. The ‘where’ is very important. If you are homesteading in Northern California, that’s very different than in Hawai’i, where there are a lot of homesteaders. The ‘when’. We’re homesteading at 50+ years of age. There are groups for us. That is a brand. If you are starting your homesteading at a later part of your life. The ‘why’? There are some people who are starting their homesteading because they don’t want the government to know where they live.
Tonya – I’m related to those people.
Kathi – This is not my particular brand of homesteading. I’m more of a gentle, “Hey! I want to live lightly on the land. I want to have people into my home, where we’ve grown the vegetables and done all the things.” Then the ‘how’ is very different as well. I’m just thinking, if you’re saying, “I’m doing this, but I’m looking for my big BUT.”? Ask yourself those questions. Who? What? Where? Why? How? When? You’re going to find out. You’re going to have a couple of those things that maybe are differentiating. So, even if you are the 50+ homesteaders who live in Northern California, there are enough other people that are looking for that kind of information. It’s going to help you define your brand and who you are.
Tonya – You know what I love about what you just shared? You can use that to figure out what sets you apart, but you can run your ideal person through that exact same framework, Kathi, to identify them. So, if you listened to the last episode, and you’re still like, “I have no idea who my person is.” You can run them through that, because the person you’re here to serve has to believe a certain set of things in order to be attracted to you. It has to do with the ‘what’ and it has to do with the ‘who’ and it has to do with the ‘when’ and it has to do with the ‘how’. You’re so brilliant.
Kathi – You know what? This just occurred to me. You and I do this all the time, but we’ve never put a framework around it. Here’s the difference, Tonya. You’re intuitively an investigator. You’ve got that. This would never occur to you. You ask yourself this all the time. As you were talking, I’m thinking, “This is what she’s talking about.” This is how we differentiate. This is how we help people figure out, not only who they are, but how to describe it, and how to attract the people that they need to. You and I know our ideal customer in Clutter Free Academy. It is not the 25-year-old minimalist. Now, we have some of those in Clutter Free Academy, but we’re not changing for them. They have to make the mental leaps for themselves. That’s okay. Some choose to do that. You’re going to think I’m very high brow, here. I belong to a Far Side comic group. I know, right?
Tonya – I should join, so they can explain some of those comics to me.
Kathi – Right? That’s a lot of it. There are people in there who are like, “Well, if we have to explain it, you shouldn’t be in the group.” Then, other people are saying, “Um, no. If anybody understands all of Gary Larsen’s comics, they wouldn’t be in this group, because we’re all trying to figure them out, sometimes.” So, it’s good to know who your people are, so you know who your people aren’t. That’s how you create this content that we’ve been talking about. Now, tell them again about what it is that you are giving them.
Tonya – Yeah, and I love what you just talked about. I think that will make this so much more valuable to them. What I’m offering is a content calendar. A suggestion about what to post, in either social media, or maybe what to send out to your email list on any given day, at any given time. Also, some posting prompts to wrap words around that topic. Now that you’ve got this framework – this who/what/where/when/how/why – you can make it sound like you. When you take this content calendar and these posting prompts, and the other 5-10k listeners do the same thing, social media is not going to be flooded with the exact same posts, on the exact same day, at the exact same time. You are going to be talking about a different type of homesteading than my aunt and uncle who live off the grid and only go to the grocery store once a year.
Kathi – I love the grocery store. Can I just tell you? It’s my happy place. Although, I was at my serious happy place today. I haven’t been in an Office Max or an Office Depot or whatever they are, in probably, eight months.
Tonya – I haven’t been in a Post-It Note section in months.
Kathi – It’s been eight months, my friend. Here’s the beautiful thing. Let me tie all this up. You can have your Post-It Notes with your who/what/where/why/when/how. You can start filling those in, under your topic to really understand who your person is. I’m so excited about this framework. I love when a great idea comes together while we’re on the podcast.
Tonya – No kidding. People need to know, this was not rehearsed. We do not have notes on this. This came together right here.
Kathi – Here’s the thing. You naturally do this. I’m just an observer in this process. I need things in simple bite-sized pieces. That’s another part of my brand. I need things in simple, bite-sized, don’t-make-me-do-too-much-right-now-because-I-will-fight-you-and-bite-you. So, let me just do a little bit at a time. This really helps me sort it all out. Tonya, this has been such a good podcast. Thank you so much for being here.
Tonya – Thank you for having me.
Kathi – Friend, thank you for being here. You are the one that makes this podcast just the best thing ever. You’ve been listening to the Writing at the Red House podcast. Thank you for gathering with us to talk about how to share the love of God with the world beyond our table.
*see show notes in podcast post above for any mentioned items
*see show notes in podcast post above for any mentioned items