A couple of weeks ago I booked my very last six month coaching spot for the year, which means I'm now fully booked for the next seven months ahead in my business.
It feels a little crazy to write this down - it's taken a little while for it to sink in, and the gratitude I feel for the fact that I continue to be able to make a sustainable living from doing awesome work with such incredible creative humans is more than I know how to put into words.
As service based creative business owners, being "booked out" can be talked about like this elusive status that defines your success as a business owner. There are so many articles, courses, and classes out there teaching you formulas and strategies for filling up your client schedule that it can be a little overwhelming, because in reality being "booked out" isn't actually the goal - doing awesome work with the people you're here to serve and running a business that is financially thriving and sustainable is. Being booked out can just help facilitate that.
Here's why I like to book up my client schedule in advance:
No more feast and famine
Booking clients in advance means that you can break out of the feast and famine cycle in your business - you're no longer living month to month because you're booking out client projects in your schedule, taking payments in advance, and you're able to project and manage your income with more clarity and ease along the way.
More control over your time and schedule
Booking and planning your client work in advance means that you can take a more birds-eye view of your schedule - you can book out work in advance in your calendar, build in time to rest and take a break, and just feel more in control of your workload moving forward.
Peace of mind
More than anything, booking clients in advance can just give you a whole lot of peace of mind and ease that anxiety that we can navigate as business owners - you know that you have work booked in for the foreseeable future, you know that you have enough interest in your services, and you can focus more on doing the work than worrying about where the next client is coming from too.
This is now my fourth year of running my coaching business and my fourth year of being booked out in advance, so I want to share with you today the biggest lessons I've learned along the way in the hopes of them being of some encouragement and insight for you in your own journey too.
1. It takes time
This year I was fully booked for the year by June, last year it was by the end of August, the year before by the end of September, the year before that by October. And in my first year, I had also been blogging and building community for the previous two years before launching my services, which without a doubt had a huge impact on my ability to attract awesome clients in my first year of business.
We're sometimes fed a super unhelpful lie as business owners that we should be booked out and thriving straight away - that it's how fast we reach "success" that matters most. But the truth is, a thriving and sustainable business takes time. And believing the lie that you should be bombarded with client enquiries within your first few months or even year can ultimately just hold you back from actually building the awesome business you're here to build - you can feel like you're failing when in reality you're sowing the seeds that will lead to that thriving business that you're dreaming of being your reality soon.
Taking the time to really find a home in your business, to really hone your craft, build up your word of mouth and experience, establish your message and point of view, nurture and grow your community, and slowly but surely attract client after client is how we truly build a thriving and sustainable business - surrendering to that process and staying the course and showing up anyway is what makes the difference in the end.
2. There are no formulas or blueprints, no matter what anyone is trying to sell you
I truly believe there is no formula or blueprint to follow that will lead to lasting, meaningful success as a big-hearted creatives, and our dream clients deserve better than to be seen as someone or something to walk through a formula instead of developing a real, human, connection with them.
It's so much easier to believe that there's a step-by-step process you can follow to build the business of your dreams, that someone out there has all of the answers and that you just need to find them, but the truth is that so much of building and running a business is developing the confidence, vision, and intuition your need to move your business forward every step of the way.
Because, at the end of the day, your dream clients are going to choose to work with you because they connect with you, your work, and your message, because they trust and believe that you're the best fit for them, and because you're offering what it is they actually need right now.
And no formula can replicate the real magic that happens when you just show up, share who you are, be of service, share the vision and message behind your work, and hold space for your dream clients to discover that you're an awesome fit for them. It's just so much scarier to do it this way - because a blueprint and a formula offers a guarantee, a well travelled path, but there are never any guarantees in business and that only path that can truly serve you is the one that you are meant to walk, not that others before you have.
3. The most important thing is that you're awesome at what you do
If there is one secret to being booked out, it's this: be awesome at what you do, and the work will continue to follow. Because the work cannot be denied - if you show up for your clients, deliver an incredible service and facilitate an awesome working relationship, and show over and over again that you have something awesome to offer the world, that will serve you so much more than any sales funnel ever could.
And being awesome at what you do takes time - you have to build up your experience, grow in your craft, and evolve and learn every step of the way. And it takes time to really discover and define who you really are in your business, what it is you really want to become known for, what your zone of genius really is. And that's a-okay, that's exactly how it's supposed to be. Don't be afraid to give yourself the space and time you need to become undeniably awesome at what you do.
And this applies to how you show up through your brand too - through the content you share, the conversations you have, the community you nurture and build. It's our job to make it oh so easy for our dream clients to find and connect with us in this busy online world.
4. And you've got to know what booked out actually looks like for you too
Because it looks different for everyone. Getting super clear on how many clients you'd like to work with each year and how that breaks down into your schedule is the first step to actually getting booked out. And this plays a huge part in helping you reach your income goals in your business too - knowing how many clients you need to sustain your life and business means that you can have more control over how you plan and manage your time throughout the year. I have a blog post here to help you map out intentional income goals in your business that might be helpful for you.
5. Marketing only has to be as complicated as you allow it to be
I really do believe that the most effective marketing for a big-hearted creative business owner is simple, focused on connection over conversion, and tells a story and gives value so much more than it tries to make a sale. I have been consistently booked out with crazy-awesome clients for the past four years thanks to two main things: my content and my word of mouth. By sharing my message, stories, and ideas through my blog, Weekly Letters, podcast, and mini books I've been able to connect with potential dream clients and really be of service to my community along the way, and through the word of mouth and testimonials I've built up from four years of just doing the work I'm here to do I've built up a whole lot of trust and awareness around my brand too.
By not wasting time trying to have a flashy, super strategic, marketing plan I've been able to actually pour my energy into showing up for my community, building meaningful relationships, and connect with my dream clients on a much deeper and more personal level. I think it's so easy to complicate our marketing plan out of fear - fear that we're not good enough, fear that there's too much competition, fear that we need to be flashy and big instead of quietly impactful - that we actually lose sight of the most important thing: connection. Because no formulas, ten-step strategies, or step-by-step blueprints have helped me to be consistently booked out for the past four years - but just showing up, sharing my message, stories, and ideas, nurturing my community, and building word of mouth around the work I do has made all of the difference in the world, and I've been able to run my business from a place of joy and integrity every step of the way too.
So much of running a big-hearted business takes courage, patience, and a whole lot of trust in yourself, your work, and the journey you're on. We can try and numb this journey by searching for a step-by-step path to follow, but my biggest hope with this post today is that it can encourage you to just keep on showing up, doing the amazing work you're here to do, and to trust that, at the end of the day, that is what matters most in the end.
Yes we have to show up, take up space, share our ideas and make it easy for our dream clients to find and connect with us, but we don't have to do anything that feels out of integrity or alignment for us to build a thriving and sustainable and impactful business.
More than anything, I hope you keep showing up and sharing yourself and your work with the people you're here to serve. That you can trust that what makes you and your business special is you, and that by honing in on that you can truly build for yourself an impactful, fulfilling, and sustainable creative business along the way.
I'll be rooting for you always!
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