A Momstyle Business Is…

A momstyle business is about nurturing our creative souls, generating significant revenue, and allowing us the flexibility to be the moms we want to be.

A momstyle business is:

  • Profitable, meaning you can generate significant revenue. The kind of money that brings you real economic power and allows you to make decisions from a different space.
  • Flexible, meaning you experience a lot of freedom in terms of when and how you work. While it can take some real hustle to build the business at first, it ultimately becomes a tool for you to show up exactly when and how you want to show up.
  • Online, meaning you are taking advantage of the virtual world to work at a scale your passive income that’s nearly impossible any other way.

I’m Laura Brandenburg. I’ve built a momstyle business from the ground up and now bring in a salary that well-surpasses my corporate salary. And it keeps growing each year, even while I explore new business ideas and take a fair amount of time off.

Now, I’m here to help you build your online business the momstyle way.

On this journey, we’ll explore how to create digital products that actually sell, how to create an online marketing automation system that sells those products for you, and how to delegate the administrative and customer support tasks so that you don’t get stuck in the day-to-day running of your business.

What’s more, we’ll look at how to do this in way that lights up your creative spirit because you are doing the work you truly want to do. And we’ll also address how to transform your money mindset so you can receive more money than you ever have before, even while you might be working less.

I’m so excited to be on this journey with you. Take your first steps towards a momstyle business by signing up below:

Your marketing automation system: a 5-part process for selling online

Many participants in our Digital Product Workshop ask, now that I have a product, how do I get the word out about it? Excellent question. Having a digital product sitting on your virtual store shelf is only part of creating a momstyle business. You also need to market it or, ideally, create a marketing automation system that sells it for you.

I’ve built a marketing automation system that generates an average of over 1,000 new leads and 100 product sales each month. This system is what makes sure my digital product offerings are actually out in the world, helping the people I want to help. It’s also the piece that gives me immense freedom of work, because I can trust that a base of revenue will continue to come in while I’m creating products and experimenting with new business ideas, and even if I’m not running a big online product launch.

There are 5 key parts to an online marketing automation system that can sell your digital products on your behalf.

Marketing Automation Part #1 – Searchable Content

Over at Bridging the Gap, I’ve published over 500 articles on various topics within business analysis. Some of these articles have made it to the #1 spot in Google. My most trafficked article is on business analyst job interview questions and it averages over 500 page views / day.

This is awesome because I also offer a self-study course providing even more help in this area. Some people who find the article via Google decide to pick up the class.

Building a repository of content that helps people solve their problems using the keywords they put into the search engines is the first part of building a solid foundation. You don’t have to write blog posts. Videos and podcasts are other excellent options for sharing your knowledge and demonstrating your expertise.

Marketing Automation Part #2 – Add Product Mentions to Your Free Content

When people are searching for a solution to their problem, they may not take time to explore your entire catalog. They might read your article, watch your video, or listen to your podcast and then move onto the next search result on Google or the next post on Facebook.

Casually mentioning that you can offer more help and support by naming and linking to the page selling your digital product is a simple, non-sleazy way to generate a few additional sales. (You can see an example of this in the first line of this article.)

I regularly review my most trafficked blog posts to make sure they have appropriate product mentions or email newsletter mentions. This makes sure my content is working for me, even when I’m not working.

Marketing Automation Part #3 – Exchange More Information for an Email Address

But even if someone visits my website and decides not to buy a course or a toolkit, that doesn’t mean that they won’t buy something from me someday. The second most valuable thing someone can do on my website is join my email list. This allows me to continue to send them new content as well as let them know when I have something new to offer.

In fact, if you are visiting here to learn more about creating a marketing automation system, you might be interested in learning 10 Ways to Build Your Business the Momstyle Way (it’s a free download).

Marketing Automation Part #4 – Series of Welcome Emails

Once someone joins your email list, it’s important that they here from you regularly with new information. An easy way to make this happen is to set-up a series of automated emails that go out during the first few weeks after they join. You can mention your products and link to more of your free content.

If you’ve been emailing your list for awhile, this content does not have to be created from scratch. Look for the emails that have the highest open and click-through rates and automate those to go out to new subscribers.

I’ve found it to be incredibly profitable to include a special offer in this automated welcome email series. At Bridging the Gap, I offer $25 discount off of any of our products to new email subscribers. This offer consistently brings in over a thousand dollars each month. It’s not pushy. It’s simply available. Some people take me up on it, which is a win-win for everyone.

Marketing Automation Part #5 – Keep Linking To Your Content

Once the above foundation is in place, you’ll be finding new people interested in your work, and pulling them gently along the know-like-trust-buy cycle. One strategy that has helped me rise up in the search engines and help new readers is to link to older content.

When I write a new article, I simply add a few links to articles in my archive. Also, I make it a habit of going through my older articles and updating them with links to my newer content as well.

  • This practice helps in the search engines. After adding multiple links to an article using the phrase that I’m targeting in the search engines, I’ve noticed it to start ranking more strongly than before. (This process can take a few months or more, but it does happen.)
  • This practice helps your readers, because they have a place to click to get more information and more reasons to stay on your website.
  • This practice helps you, because the article you link to could have a product mention or get someone to join your list.

And you get to benefit from all of your hard content work again and again and again, generating passive income for you….while you invest in growing other areas of your business.

How could you make this 5-part online marketing automation system work for you? And, what questions do you have about marketing and selling digital products?

Learn More About Marketing Automation

I’ll be hosting one more 3-hour, in-person Online Marketing System Workshop in Evergreen, Colorado. Learn how to build a system that will increase your digital product sales to the right people, without feeling like a slimy marketer.

Click here to learn more about the Online Marketing Systems Workshop

What digital products will actually sell

I put off releasing my Business Analyst Template Toolkit for over a year because I thought people wouldn’t pay for it. You see, there were loads of free templates on the market and several competing products, why would people buy mine?

Today, I sell digital products day in and day out, and this product is a consistent top-seller. It has been a main source of passive income that has literally changed my life. Even two years later, with very few adjustments, it still regularly brings in at least a couple thousand dollars each month.

While I was seeing free and competing options, my customers were looking for my option. And they were willing to pay for it.

Part of the lesson in this story is that people will pay for things that we won’t pay for. My coach Gary Barnes has told me this hundreds of times:

Laura, that only seems obvious to you because you’ve been doing this for a long time. If your customers are asking for it and you have the answer, give it to them.

Still, I resist.

You might find yourself in a similar situation, doubting the value of the expertise you have and how it can get wrapped up into profitable digital products.

Another version of this conundrum is when you decide to add one more piece after another to your digital product, just to make sure it’s really valuable and will actually sell. This kind of digital product sits on your hard drive collecting dust, when it should be on a download server collecting you money!

Here are some signs that you can sell digital products:

  • People ask you for this product directly.
  • People ask you for this product indirectly. They might not know that they need exactly what you are planning to offer them, but you can make a direct connection between the advice they ask you for and how they can use your product.
  • There are competing products on the market. That means someone, somewhere is making money selling something similar and that there is a buying market.
  • You see people struggling in an area and you know you can help them at least get started solving their problem.

Your products don’t have to be perfect for everyone to be perfect for someone. And just because you wouldn’t pay for it doesn’t mean someone else won’t. In fact, the very idea that you wouldn’t consider paying for it is a great sign that you have special advice or expertise to offer in the form of a digital product.

How’s that for a twist ending?

Sell Digital Products

To learn exactly how to find and implement your profitable digital product idea, check out the Digital Product Workshop. It’s self-paced and available for immediate online download. You’ll leave the workshop with an implementation plan for creating your first digital product.

Click here to learn more about the Digital Product Workshop

On becoming a mother

It took me 4 hours to push my first daughter out. (Not 4 hours of labor, 4 hours of pushing.)

Somewhere early on in that time, I decided I was not becoming a mother. I started searching frantically for the undo button. I truly believe I held that baby inside me as long as humanly possible, delaying the moment when I expected my life to change forever.

I was wicked scared.

I wasn’t scared of the physical act of pushing the baby out, because I know moms do that every hour of every day. (Yes, somewhere in the world right now, a mom is pushing out her baby. Let’s send her a vibe of strength.)

I was scared of what this new human being would do to my life. And what would happen to the me I knew and loved so well.

So I held on with every cell in my body when I really needed to let go with every breathe of my soul.

Eventually the physical reality of being a women in labor took over and my body did what my mind could not – it made me a mother.

As I sit here nearly 4 years later looking back on that moment, I’m struck at how naive I was. Not because I actually thought there was an undo button, but because I sincerely believed that who I was would somehow go away. That I’d be whisked away in this thing we call motherhood without giving a second glance back at my first 34 years of life.

Instead, what I have experienced is that motherhood etches away at my soul. And over time, I’ve been able to guide the etching so the experience is more like a statue emerging out of marble than fingernails scratching on a chalkboard.

For me, that’s meant ~

  • Doing creative work that energizes me.
  • Becoming a mother from the inside out. (I recently donated every parenting book I ever bought and unsubscribed to all parenting information sources.)
  • Learning, always learning.
  • Allowing my daughters to re-teach me what it’s like to experience raw emotion.

Of course, I’ve also had my experiences of listening too much to what other people said about what moms should and should not do, feeling guilty about working as much as I do, and feeling like I my only “non-mom” time should make a direct and immediate contribution to our family’s bottom line.

But really, becoming a mother has been about clarifying my own desires and going for what I want because now I must make them a priority, or they get lost in the day-to-day life of being a mom.

And this is really what building a momstyle business is all about. It’s about doing the work that you love. Being the mom that you want to be. And taking care of yourself all along the way.

I’m more me now than I ever was before my daughters were born because my responsibility for these other beings has forced me to clarify what I want and go for it.

And I’m thankful that I didn’t find that undo button.

Why Momstyle?

Last week I got stuck. I discovered that part of the name of this website (which was Clear Spring Mompreneurs until about an hour ago) was a trademarked term. What’s more, after sharing the brand with other business owners, I discovered the “Clear Spring” fell flat. It needs to be explained that clear spring is about finding clarity to spring your business forward.

I knew I needed to change the name. But to what? And how?

One thing I was grateful for was that I did not over-invest in getting the first pass at this website set-up. Although a little bit of a pain, the change was relatively straight-forward. (It also helped that I have found an awesome web designer – Margaret Rode of Websites for Good – that takes the brain damage out of this stuff too.)

I was able to let go of the sense of doom of redoing a lot of work and keep focused on the next step – new name, new brand.

But still, new what?

Those of you in my private Facebook for clients and workshop participants know that I threw around a lot of ideas. None of them resonated with anyone.

Then late last week I created a massive mind map of all the things I want this site to be and all the ways I want to help moms find more flexibility and profitability in their businesses. Some call this a “lifestyle” business and I wrote that down right in the middle of my mind map.

In a flash I knew what concept I had been searching for – momstyle.

Momstyle as in creating a business that enables you to be the mom you want to be. The more I say it, the more it resonates. I will be talking about this concept a lot, because there are many aspects to it.

I bought the domain momstylebiz and thought that would be it. Then, at the prompting of Katy Moses Huggins and Jennifer Mason, I started looking at how other business owners use their personal names as brand names.

One thing I want from what’s happening here is for my message to be bigger than me. I want to change the dialog of how we talk about moms and work. I want other moms to know that there are more options. Perhaps they are unconventional. Perhaps they are risky. But wow are they exciting and full of potential.

In essence, I want to be a thought leader,

And what do thought leaders do? They brand their names.

So here I am – Laura Brandenburg – at your service to help you build your business the momstyle way. One blog post, one workshop, one consultation at a time.

3 decisions you must make if you want work-life balance as a mom

Why is it that rarely anyone feels like they actually have work-life balance?

There are many reasons we might feel that either our work is taking away from our life or that our life is taking away from our work. But the most fundamental, in my not so humble opinion, is that we haven’t really defined what either work or life mean for us, let alone what it looks like to optimally balance the two.

And so we chase after an ill-defined goal instead of living the life we want, intentionally.

Let’s look at the 3 decisions you must make if you want to achieve work-life balance.

Work-Life Balance Decision #1 – How much work time do you want?

It might feel backwards to start by looking at work time, but it’s essential.

  • If you are a corporate mom working 50+ hours / week, you are probably looking for less time working.
  • If you are a stay-at-home mom looking for a creative outlet, you probably want to spend more time working.

I enjoy my free time as much as the next person, but I also love making a meaningful contribution to the world and expressing my creative side. Even when my digital products are paying the bills, I still want to be doing something new to grow my business. If you are here, on a website for online business owners, it’s likely that you don’t want a 0-hour work week, or perhaps even a 4-hour work week.

So how much do you want to work? Be specific.

My answer is that I want to work between 20 and 30 hours per week and take 6 work-free weeks of vacation per year. I’ve achieved my optimal work week. I’m still working on the vacation part (although I did manage a 3 1/2 week vacation with very minimal work time over the summer).

This is an important decision. Give it some thought. And then move on.

Work-Life Balance Decision #2 – What constitutes “life”?

One of the reasons our work-life balance gets so screwed up is that we don’t really know what falls on each side of the equation. If work is time spent making money or working on your business, then is life simply everything else?

When we say we want work-life balance, it typically means that there are slices of life that we aren’t giving as much time and attention to as we’d like. But what slices? And how much time?

  • If you worked less, would you be excited to spend more time doing household chores, yard work, and home improvement projects, or do you really want more time with your partner, kids, or simply to be alone?
  • If you worked more, what would you be willing to take away from your life as it exists today? There is no judgement here. An honest answer might be some of the time you spend with your kids.

And absolutely, positively, do not forget to write yourself into this equation. Exercise, showers, eating, and just taking time to breathe can all important, as can time with our partners and doing fun activities together as a family.

Get specific about what you will be doing with your life time. Answering questions like “how much time do I really want to spend with my kids?” or “what are the most valuable slices of time I can share with my kids?” can lead to new insights.

Work-Life Balance Decision #3 – How much gray area are you going to embrace?

So little in life is black and white, and our time is no exception. I thought through this post while showering. My 15 month-old daughter was hanging out in an exersaucer. Was that work time, care-giving time, or self-care? Ah….a little bit of all three.

I wrote this article on Honoring my desire for work time while watching my kids play at the water table.

But not all of my time is a gray area. I’d go insane.

(Actually there was a time when I only worked during my daughter’s naps, and it was crushing. It can work when you are getting started but is not a long-term time strategy.)

Now, I have hours each week solely dedicated to creative work, and many hours solely dedicated to being with my kids.

Being clear about how much gray area you are OK with as well as when you want to step fully into one area or another, is a decision to make consciously. Otherwise you risk slipping into multi-tasking and not feeling like your desire for life or work is getting fed.

Finding your personal work-life balance mix

If you’ve been wondering how to find work-life balance, you’ve got three decisions to think through. Don’t expect these answers to come easily. And expect your answers to change over time.

I’m constantly thinking and re-thinking how I invest my time and becoming more intentional about what I do with the moments I’ve been given in each day.

How do you approach your work-life balance?

On working as a work from home mom

One thing that work from home moms do a lot of is trade off time with the kids and time spent working. (And that’s not to mention self-care, the other important element of the time triangle!)

These days I rarely get up before the girls do. In fact, I’m typically the last one in the house out of bed. I blame not having slept through the night more than a handful of times in the last 2 years. But I digress.

This morning, I got up before the girls. It was 6:15 and our dog had just barked off the neighborhood bear. Surprisingly neither girl woke up.

Although groggy, I was awake.

I decided to jump into work. I worked from 6:30 – 7:15, grabbed coffee, chatted with my husband, and then again from 7:30-8.

Even though I work from home, I don’t work everyday. Today is my mama-day, my day with the girls. But it’s also a Monday and I have a big week ahead, including a new client, wanting to finish off one of my digital products, and do a few things to get this website off the ground.

It felt wonderful to start the week off with a little work and tick a few tasks off of my to do list. As a result, I was more present as a mom too. There have been more games, talks, and activities today than might be typical. I also impressed myself by not being annoyed when the oldest got up after 35 minutes of quiet time.

And yet here I sit now, grabbing a few minutes to write while the girls play at the water table. But I know that after I get these thoughts out of my head and onto digital paper, I’ll be able to shift back into the mom I’d like to be.

Figuring out how to allocate our time among everything life demands of us is one of the more difficult challenges we face as moms who work from home. Today I may have learned that in addition to honoring my desire to be a big part of my girls life, I also need to honor my desire to work. Perhaps I can learn to own letting that be part of my day, even my non-work days, instead of feeling guilty about it.

How do you deal with the tension between mom and work time?

3 types of digital products

I often get asked what kinds of digital products it makes sense to sell online. A digital product is an electronic file that has tangible value to a potential customer. As the product creator, you create the digital product once and get to sell it again and again.

In the Digital Product Workshop, we specifically discuss 3 types of digital products.  Let’s look at each of them in turn:

Digital Product #1 – e-Books

An e-book is a product that is composed primary of text. There are many different formats for e-books these days. Traditionally, e-books were delivered in PDF format via digital download. This is how I created and delivered my very first e-book 6 years ago.

Today, Kindle format is overwhelmingly common, as is the ePub format that is used by other e-readers and platforms.

E-books are great for demonstrating your authority and they can be relatively simple to create.

Digital Product #2 – Work Aids / Toolkits

Work Aids or Toolkits go beyond e-Books by creating a digital file that your customer can use. Templates and workbooks are common types of work aids. I’ve also created question packs and swipe files.

To come up with ideas for work aids and toolkits, look at any workflows your customers go through. What could you offer them that would make their work easier, more efficient, or simply more fun?

The limitation of work aids and toolkits is that a customer won’t necessarily know what to do with them. While this concern can partially be addressed by adding an explanatory e-book or guidebook to your toolkit, an e-course can be a nice add-on. Let’s look at those next.

Digital Product #3 – e-Courses

An e-course provides a structured learning opportunity. While toolkits are designed to be used, e-courses are designed to teach a customer how to do something or accomplish a specific goal. For example, over at Bridging the Gap, I offer a course called the BA Essentials Master Class that teaches participants how to apply business analysis principles on a software development project.

There are a variety of options for e-courses, some of which require ongoing support from you as an instructor and some of which don’t. And the formats can vary widely. I’ve taken self-study courses that are delivered via a weekly email, monthly PDF downloads, and live webinar formats.

My current offerings are primarily a combination of audio and full-text PDF transcripts, with the option to upgrade for instructor support via email. I also host Q&A calls periodically as bonuses.

Digital Products are, well, Digital

The types of digital products you create are only limited by your imagination. They can be as simple as a PDF document and as complicated as a new piece of software.

Any electronic file could potentially be a digital product, provided it’s valuable to someone else!

And because they are digital, you can provide value again and again without any extra work for you. This is what makes digital products immensely profitable.

Post any questions you have about digital products below.

4 reasons to grow your passive income streams

Passive income has literally changed my life.

  • When I was starting my first business, I experimented with consulting, then coaching, then training.
  • I looked to monetize my blog through advertising and affiliate promotions.
  • Then I landed on a blend of digital products that established my authority, brought in new customers, and also increased my income into six figures.

Passive income is any type of income that comes in whether you work or not. Offering your time in exchange for a high hourly rate may be lucrative but it’s not passive. In my first business, selling digital products through an automated online marketing system consistently generates passive income, month in and month out.

As a result, I work less, earn more income, and have more freedom to do the work I want. I also help more people, which fuels my creative energy.

Let’s look at each of these benefits in turn.

Passive Income Reason #1 – I work less.

When my first daughter was born nearly 4 years ago, I realized that I had to let go of 50-60 hour work weeks.  Even before her birth, I explored more profitable and flexible business models. But it was after returning to work that I finally figured out what working less really meant, and I doubled down on my virtual efforts.

Soon digital products, such as virtual self-study courses, toolkit downloads, and ebooks, became the mainstay of my revenue stream.

Now, I work 25-30 hours per week (with no commute) and take at least 6 weeks of vacation each year. But since I like working, the more important part of this equation is that I get to be a bigger part of my daughters’ lives, have the flexibility to go on school field trips, and even take a little bit of time for myself with the occasional hike.

Passive Income Reason #2 – I earn more income.

Before I started creating and selling digital products, I was working in consulting. I had two ways to increase my income: increase my rate or work more hours.  Rates have ceilings and more hours wasn’t an option.

Now, I make a time investment upfront in creating a product and it sells for a long, long time, even after I’ve stopped actively working on it. (My most profitable product has not been updated in nearly 3 years and shows no sign of becoming irrelevant.)

Two years ago, I realized that after four years of effort and many mis-steps, I was finally making more in my business than I had before I bailed on my director-level corporate role.

This was a watershed moment. Just the fact that I created something on my own that earned this level of income was incredibly empowering.

But then the revenue kept growing at a much faster pace than any set of raises or bonuses that would have come my way in the corporate world. I wasn’t working more, but I was earning more.

For someone who came from a corporate 8-6, work-your-butt-off kind of culture, this was not necessarily the most comfortable feeling in the world. In fact, one of my self-directives for this year was to embrace this whole making-money aspect of the business equation. You may not have that hesitation, but it’s very real for me.

Despite my hang-ups, my relationship with money has shifted. The worries about money I’ve carried with me my whole life are finally starting to evaporate as I trust the business I’ve created.

Passive Income Reason #3 – I am free to do work of my choosing.

Because of the steady income stream, I now get to choose what to work on and when to work on it. If I have a bad day of work, there’s no one to blame. I can (and must) make a different choice tomorrow.

I have the freedom and the responsibility to find and choose fulfilling work.

I experiment a lot.  For example, at the end of last year I sold a time management live webinar. It didn’t sell well and I ended up disliking the delivery process. But what I learned from the process has helped me make even deeper changes in my work.

More recently I’ve decided to cut back on the number of virtual, instructor-led courses I lead and instead focus on new product development and more self-study options.  I’ve also been taking on new mentoring clients. Even though this work isn’t as profitable as some of the other work I do, it’s immensely fulfilling.

This freedom is also why I can experiment with new areas, like delivering business-building workshops.

Passive Income Reason #4 – I help more people.

Sometimes the abundance in my life can lead me on a little bit of a guilt trip. Yes, it’s wonderful, but it also feels a little wrong. Why am I working less and receiving more? Owning my success, by writing this blog post, is a huge leap for me.

Yet, nearly every week I receive an email about how I helped someone succeed at their job, or find a new job. Receiving stories about how my work helps real people achieve their goals, find more happiness, or experience the validation of a job well-done gives more meaning to my work.

And digital products enable you to help more people than you could otherwise. A digital product is always available when they need it. It never goes on vacation, gets burnt out, or has run out of hours in the day. What’s more, because you can price a digital product affordably (yet still make a nice profit) many more people are able to afford what you are offering.

Digital products really have changed my life.

What I’ve written about here hits the highlights. There’s virtually no area of my life untouched in the transformation that’s happened over the course of the last few years. And I’ll forever be grateful for the abundance I’ve experienced.

If you’ve been thinking of creating a digital product or would like to explore what creating one takes, check out the Digital Product Workshop. It’s self-paced and available for immediate online download.

You can have it all

There are a lot of people out there who say women cannot have it all.

There are a lot of people out there who think that they, personally, cannot have it all.

These statements are true to the extent that too many of us define “all” by looking outside.

  • We look at corporate moms and their fancy suits and their important work – we put that in our all.
  • We look at stay-at-home moms and their pinterest-worthy cupcake towers – we put that in our all.
  • We look at single ladies and their fancy, kid-free vacations – and we put that in our all too.

And then we wonder why we’re tired, cranky, and bored. We can have it all, but only if we define our all in a way that matters to us.

Today I challenge you to consider what it means to you to have it all.