Maggie Frank-Hsu

Writing & Editing Tips

New Year’s in September

My son turned 5 in September. That means my business is about to turn 4. For the first year of his life I worked a full time remote job. I remember clearly deciding to quit my job. It was a lot of little things that added up to a moment. Like the time I was literally running out my front door at the end of a workday to rush to get my son from daycare in time for his 6 months doctor’s appointment. Like, 50-yard dash running. Or the times I got to my desk at 8:30 am and realized I’d already been doing work for 3 hours. Waking up, fitting in a quick workout, rushing home to breastfeed, getting him completely ready for the day, getting myself ready-ish for the day, walking the dog and my son over to doggy daycare so that

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The business is not you.

“The business is not you. The business has its own fans, its own energy. … You are stunting your business growth by treating the business and you as the same thing, especially if you are a solopreneur.” I jotted this down while I was interviewing Denise Duffield-Thomas a couple of months ago. (You can read that interview here.) It’s funny that this is the part of the interview that stuck out to me so strongly, since I teach women how to put more “them”—their personalities, tastes, and attitudes—into the way they write for their businesses. And I practice what I preach. My weekly email isn’t written by censored, careful, “business-flavored” me. (She went out with the Goodwill bag full of office-appropriate, pre-pregnancy clothes.) It’s written by plain, old, unflavored me. Hi. 👋 Yet my business is not me. *** The

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How to Play Barbies in Your Business

Watch the video: I remember the first time I’d ever heard of an “Ideal Client Avatar.” You’re supposed to create an ICA to figure out how to market to her. I got disenchanted with ICAs. “They’re not real people!” I got kind of grumpy about the whole idea of dreaming up a completely imaginary person. I wanted to meet real, live people who could benefit from what I sell. Real people buy stuff. ICAs don’t. Right? Recently, though, I warmed up again to the idea of the Ideal Client Avatar. Because… Barbies.👯‍♀️👯‍♀️Remember when you used to play Barbies? Your Barbie could be whomever you wanted her to be? She could live in a castle! She could… make scented soap! She could have a dog and a ferret who were best friends. No limits. That was fun! Sometimes, we need to

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She said the loud part quiet and the quiet part loud

Yesterday I was workshopping an email with a Sweet Spot client of mine.She was telling a harrowing story in her email. She’s a talented writer, so the story was vivid. Snow. A car crash. No cell phone. All alone. When the trucker pulled over to help, my jaw clenched. “He better be a good guy!” I thought. It was that good. Then, at the end of the email, she snailed 🐌. As in… You know when you touch a snail’s antennae and they slowly curl in? 🐌🐌 That’s what she did. She had this crazy story that was also a natural metaphor for the journey of her perfect client from side-lined to getting back on the road. So, she wanted to end the email with an offer. A free offer to help them! But instead she ended with, “join the

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I Stumbled on Door #3

Last week, I wrote about how someone commented on my weight, because I don’t look the way I did before I had my second kid. (If you want to read that one, search your email for the subject line “This mentality is killing our businesses.” If you’re not a subscriber, sign up here.) Anyway, I told you that story because I was pleasantly surprised by how I handled it. Not too long ago, I would have seen 2 options. “Someone is noticing that I’m fatter than I used to be! How incredibly shameful. I must start a diet right away!” Then I would have started one. I would have done it for a few days until giving up because I hate life when I diet, and I just can’t muster up the energy to hate life for more than a

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Can You Get Out of Emergency Mode?

I had this struggle for months in my business. I WANTED to dedicate some portion of my work week to planning and reflection, and to taking stock of how I was progressing toward my big goals. But it just wasn’t happening. Because I was really flipping’ busy… you know, doing the stuff that PEOPLE PAID ME FOR!  It was maddening. I was watching my students and clients feel more relaxed, more focused, and create a more dependable monthly income by taking a step back and delegating their marketing to me. But I couldn’t do the same. Because I was too busy doing my actual work!  No time to meet new potential clients, no time to strategize. No time to reflect on whether what I was already doing was working. I couldn’t even find time to vet an assistant who could

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“Just be yourself” is the worst advice. Except for all the other advice.

A very ‘myself’ photo of me. Fresh off a 12-hour plane ride from Taipei to L.A. two weeks ago. Do you know that quote that I’m butchering for my own purposes? … Winston Churchill said that someone else said it: “No one pretends that democracy is perfect or all-wise. Indeed it has been said that democracy is the worst form of government except for all those other forms that have been tried from time to time.…” So it is with the advice to “just be yourself.” Not perfect. Not all-wise. But better than the other forms I’ve tried. When I started writing for my business, I wanted to talk about what it’s like to have small children and run an online business solo. I wanted to talk about the choices I’d made to prioritize my business and the choices I’d

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Ditch the Guilt and Design Your Business

A little over a year ago, to the casual observer, she was a successful, ambitious, and driven professional. But her health was suffering, (she was so tired that she was afraid to drive for fear of falling asleep), and she felt like a bad mom and an exhausted human being. So she did something about it. When Natalie told me her story, I knew I wanted to interview her and share it with you because I meet so many other moms who are pushing so hard. It never feels easy, and deep down, we feel suspicious of anything that comes naturally or feels easy. Our kids need us, our partners need us, our communities need us, our parents need us… and we approach business the same way. It’s just another drain; just another entity that needs our energy, and saps

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I do this a lot.

Have you ever been facing a decision, known in your gut what choice you were going to make, and then… asked someone else for their advice instead of choosing? I do this a lot. I first noticed about 10 years ago, when I found an apartment in New York. I’d been living with Craigslist roommates in Brooklyn for months and I hated living with other people I barely knew. I didn’t know if I could afford a place on my own. But soon after I started looking, I came across a dumpy studio on 1st Ave and 11th Street. At 180 square feet, it fit a bed, a loveseat, a table, and not much else. There were about 3 feet between the bed and the only window, which looked directly on to the sidewalk. I’m talking eye-level with sidewalk traffic.

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Christy Harrison of “Food Psych” Talks About What It’s Like to Go Against the Grain

Thanks so much to Christy Harrison for this chat! I’ve been listening to her podcast, Food Psych, since the beginning. Christy works with people to re-connect with their bodies, heal their relationships with food, and to dismantle #dietculture, which “privileges smaller bodies over larger ones and demonizes some foods while elevating others.” So yeah, just dismantling an entire system of beliefs that permeates almost every aspect of our culture. NO BIG. I asked Christy if we could chat because I see so many parallels between her community and our community of moms of young children. Plus Christy shared a key way she deals with the inevitable feelings of discouragement both as an entrepreneur and as someone who is sharing a message that cuts against the prevailing cultural narrative. Have a listen to the full interview: For more, check out the

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A HUGE overlooked reason funnels don’t work for most people (and what you can do about it)

I help online business owners earn money with their email lists without being spammy, scammy, or sleazy. …So many clients and friends have come to me with a great idea – or even a finished product – for an online course they want to sell. They’re smart and special. Their services have changed so many lives for the better. AND they have a unique framework for how they teach what they know. …But when they’ve tried to sell the course on their own, through some combination of FB ads and email “funnels”, and it’s crickets. No one buys. No one seems to care. Does this mean they should mothball that course and forget about selling online? …It depends. But there is always another step people miss before they decide whether or not to give up. Wanna know what it is? …Before you mothball your

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I’ve avoided writing about this for 4 years

When I started my business almost four years ago, the first place I went for advice was Facebook. In hindsight that sounds like a not-so-great idea, but as a new mom, I knew that Facebook groups facilitate conversations between women. I wanted to eavesdrop. I spent a lot of time in one particular Facebook group that had tens of thousands of members. It was for moms who were running online businesses. After a while, I started to see the same question pop up over and over –  almost on a daily basis. The question went like this: “I have 1/2/3 children under 5 and I am their sole caregiver Monday-Friday, 9-5. I also run a business. How do I do both of these things successfully at the same time?” My first reaction to this question was confusion about the question.

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Email Software: a Side-by-Side Comparison

If that headline actually sounds boring as hell to you, answer me this: how come one of the first questions I get from people who are starting to think more seriously about email marketing is “Which email service provider should I use?” Decisions, decisions. This question comes up when people are first digging into email marketing because they hope against hope that choosing the right ESP is the key to making money from email. It’s not. It’s a bit like worrying about whether you should be on Facebook or Instagram, or whether your website should be on WordPress or Squarespace. It also comes up when people are starting to grow their list or starting to send more emails. Many people start out by using Mailchimp. But they wonder things like: Why is it free when the others aren’t? Am I

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