A backstage tour of my business: how it works, who does what + where the money flows.

 
 

Some kids are military brats.
I was an opera brat.

 
Growing up with a classically-trained soprano as my mom, I remember doing my long division math homework backstage at the The Los Angeles Opera Company.

I always loved being backstage — the half-finished costumes, the artists in various states of preparation + disarray, the wigs, the powder, the deli platters, the mysterious pulley system that raised + lowered the curtains, the levers that shifted the scenery, the prop tables with sabers, daggers, plates made of sugar (for dramatic smashing in fight scenes), and the legions of ‘techies’ in plain black clothes, quietly running the show while the glamorous divas graced the stage.

There was always so much bubbling behind the scenes — like plunging your head beneath the cool, watery skin of a pond, and seeing a whole universe teeming beneath the surface.

My business isn’t exactly as ‘glamorous’ as a full-scale production of Puccini’s Madame Butterfly — but there’s definitely a whole universe that most people haven’t seen.

Until, well … right now.

If you’ve ever been curious about how my business works, who does what, which tools I use, and where the money flows + goes — this post is for you.

It’s long, detailed + could bore you to tears. Or, like that little 8-year old version of me, roaming backstage amidst wigs, powder + theatrical daggers, you might find it completely enthralling.

Without further ado, I give you …
 

A backstage tour of my business …

 

HOW IT WORKS (aka: how the love + money flows)

 
The shape of my business is always evolving. But right now, my money comes in from 4 places:

1. VELOCITY

 
My VELOCITY sessions have been the big, roaring engine of my business for the past two years. These rapid-fire copywriting + story-shaping sessions are priced at $1500 a day, and booked 6 – 9 (sometimes up to 12) months in advance.

For a while, I was doin’ about 12 sessions a month, but felt myself fizzling out like a faulty firecracker. So I adjusted my flow. These days, I aim for 8 sessions a month. Sanity is so nice.

Right now, I’m exploring ways to gracefully “retire” my VELOCITY sessions — which feels scary, but thrilling + necessary.

Lots of folks have asked me, um, like … why?

The answer is simple:

When I write for you, you walk away with clear + powerful words. Words that can propel your work forward — for a while.

But when I teach you how to write for yourself, you build the capacity to craft clear + powerful words — on your own.
 

There’s no more reliance on me — or anyone else — to draw out your ideas, get them on paper + set them in motion.

Nothing to stop you. No more excuses. Never-ending VELOCITY.

And to that, I say YES! (to infinity.)

 

2. SYNCHRONICITY

 
… is a bit of a secret.

At the end of last year, I invited a small handful of clients to step into my SYNCHRONICITY program.

The premise?

A full year of brain-time with me — including 4 VELOCITY sessions (one every quarter), a summer playdate in Los Angeles, a year-end retreat at Lumeria on Maui, and unlimited-within-reason access to me + my brain.

The pricetag?

$1000 a month.

I invited 12 people, 6 of whom said “yes!” — and I ultimately committed to working with 4.

This undercover experiment has been going beautifully, but if I continue it into 2014, I’m planning to make a few tweaks.

The biggest changes? 1 VELOCITY session a month (more momentum, more consistency) + a complimentary ticket to one of my workshops (more training, more empowerment) and a longer year-end retreat (because there’s no such thing as “too much Maui.”)

 

3. WRITE YOURSELF INTO MOTION

 
… is lighting me UP.

This live workshop for writers, artists, coaches, healers, inventors + entrepreneurs is one of the best things I’ve ever created.

It’s definitely an offering that I’ll carry into 2014, and beyond.

On the surface, Write Yourself Into Motion is about copywriting + business strategy. But really? It’s about using the written word to remember who you are, reveal who you’re becoming, and set the next evolution of your life + career into motion.

Tickets are priced at $450 for the weekend, and most workshops include about 20 participants, plus me, my host and a local apprentice, who helps with set-up, clean-up + random minutia.

I announced my 2013 Write Yourself Into Motion World Tour back in February, with workshop dates in a few cities: Los Angeles, Minneapolis, Portland and Washington DC. A few cities sold out almost instantly — others took a few weeks to fill.

I spontaneously added another date — New York City — and then announced a final date for the year, on the Big Island of Hawaii. (Hawaii sold out in less than 24 hours. Booooonkers.)

By holding my 2013 workshops in private homes + art studios, I’ve kept the overhead pretty darn tight + lean. I generally take in $9000 from ticket sales, and after dishing out moola for my flight + hotel, lunches + treats for the participants, and paying my host + special guest performers a cash honorarium, I’m usually left with about $5000 – $5500 in my pocket. (Before taxes, of course.)

I could charge more for tickets if I wanted to — several participants have told me I should! — or expand the group size to 30 or 40, in some cities. But I love the accessibility + intimacy of these events. It’s a solid model, it’s a delight for me to lead — and people leave with their minds ablaze.

Why mess with pure awesomeness?

 

courage-painting

4. BOOKS, SCRIPTS, ART + SURPRISES

 
In addition to working with clients + workshop students, I sell digital booklets — inspirational wee-books, practical worksheets and script packs to help people navigate tricky communication scenarios with grace.

I don’t make a big fuss about promoting my digital products — they’re simply there, for those who want ‘em.

My digi-products bring in anywhere from $25 to $90 a day, with a portion of certain products going to The Women’s Earth Alliance — a non-profit organization I adore + respect.

And then, sometimes, unexpected projects + invitations flutter into my lap. (I LOVE surprises.)

Like this recent collaboration with painter Kent Youngstrom — which swirled together with shocking serendipity.

Or Yoriginality — a writing + marketing workshop for yoga instructors, which I co-created with Anna Guest-Jelley.

Or guest teaching spots for programs like TeachNow, Become Your Own Business Adviser and The Morning Whip.

And then, of course, there are BOOKS!

I have two books hitting the shelves this September — 50 Ways To Say You’re Awesome (Sourcebooks) and Our Q and A a Day: 3-Year Journal for 2 People (Random House | Crown).

Both projects came about with such bewildering ease + speed — and were so much FUN to create.

Getting a publishing deal is immensely rewarding, but it’s generally not a get-rich-scheme. On the other hand … once those royalties for 50 Ways start rolling in, hot damn. GOLD LIMOS + DIAMOND FACE CREAM, 24/7. I’m gonna be living like straight-up Liberace! (Kidding. Or not! Please pre-order my book. Thank you kindly.)

 
 

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WHO DOES WHAT (aka: my power-team)

 
There are so many helpers + magicians who support me, behind the scenes.

Annika proofreads my blog posts + removes my amazingly-frequent stray commas. (She’s not available for hire, though, because she’s in the midst of launching her own mighty online empire. Sorry, folks!)

Paul designed this incredible website — don’t you love the dancing polygons, in the background?

RK at eDigest keeps my site up + running (and snugly secure from hackers + ne’er-do-wells.)

Rebecca has created marvelous graphics for me, over the years — including book illustrations.

Kristina is my literary agent, cheerleader + wise knower-of-all-booky-things. (She does consultations with aspiring authors, if you ever want to pick a brilliant agent’s brain for an hour or two…)

Melissa + Susan give me priceless media + publicity insights. And lovingly kick my butt into gear. (Grateful, forever.)

Amanda created templates for my latest crop of wee-books. So pretty.

Leslie, Jenn, Kylie, Catherine + Thea have all snapped splendid photos of me, through the years. (All of the shots in this post are by Leslie.)

Sally recently revamped my wardrobe, and taught me the basics of dressing for the stage + the camera. (You should own her book. Nowza.)

 
 

legs

TECHNO-SPIRITUAL SUPPORT (aka: angels + friends, tools + apps, legs + wings)

 
I’m blessed with so many friends + supporters — online + off — who I can count on for a spiritual pep talk. (Or a virtual hug.)

Dyana is a delightful travel companion + real-life oracle.

Erika whips me hard, and makes me like it.

Hiro always reminds me to go deeper-than-deep, and be gentle(r) with myself.

Sarah makes the best Sunday brunch under the sun. And knows more about “professional blogging” than most humans should.

Michelle is my hero. Forever.

I rarely make any major decisions without consulting Theresa, Tarot maven extraordinaire.

My yogi-family at Align keeps my body + mind niiiiice + stretchy.

Emily at Blow Dry! Blow Dry! keeps my hair looking fabulous — and is basically my unofficial therapist. (So cliché, but true.)

And once a month, the gals from Two Betty’s Green Cleaning Service scrub the shower + toilet at my apartment. (Which is also my “office.”) For this, I am eternally grateful.

 

Amazing humans aside, I also rely on a big bundle of digital tools to keep my work chugging along.

PayPal is my Lord + Savior.

PulleyApp allows me to sell digital products, without any techie tangles.

Instant Teleseminar is a swell platform for online classes + conference calls.

Skype + eCamm = easy-peasy video recording, across every time zone.

DropBox is my go-to file storage + sharing platform.

GoogleDocs is the bessssst tool for collaborative writing + editing.

I use Vocaroo to record ready-to-email voicemail messages when my fingers are tired, but I need to respond to a note.

iWork Pages is infinitely cooler than Microsoft Word. (And it’s what I use to create all of my wee-books.)

WordPress is a wonder — the only blogging platform I’ll ever use.

 
 

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TO SUM IT ALL UP:

 
I’ve got a stellar backstage crew, but essentially … I’m a one-woman show.

To strip it down to bare-skin specifics:

Nobody reads my emails but me.
Nobody answers my emails but me.

At this moment in time, I send out my own invoices, produce my own products, manage my own calendar and negotiate peace with my (blessedly infrequent) unhappy customers.

It all flows from me. I handle every detail. And I like it that way.

Is it a lot of work? Of course. But really? I’m not that busy.

Is it fun? Absolutely. I wouldn’t do it if it wasn’t. (I have a very low tolerance for unease + unhappiness.)

Is it sustainable? Mostly-kinda. At some point, I’ll probably seek out a full-time creative partner to be my right-hand gal (or guy).

Is it profitable? In a word: yes. This year, I’m making about 5x more than I did at my last “real job” — which I quit 1,157 days ago. (But who’s counting?)

Is it scary? Always. I literally pray, every day, that whatever I write + put out into the world will be useful, helpful, inspiring, just … y’know, good.

I have moments of extreme insecurity.

I obsess over microscopically-miniscule criticism.

I struggle to get outta my inbox, and hold the big picture.

I have cried with frustration, after a client session that didn’t go perfectly amazingly.

I have cried with delight, during a workshop that did.

I am imperfect.

I am hopeful.

I am human.

I keep trying.

And truly …

 
It’s staggering how far you can travel in a couple of years, when you strive to underpromise + overdeliver, steer away from projects that trigger resentment, and keep it simple, simple, simple … simple.

Your life is not mine.

My work is not yours.

Our styles, skills, values + needs may not be the same.

But I prrrrrrrromise you this:

With the right backstage crew — and the right attitudeyou can do abso-frickin-total-lutely anything you want to do.

 
XO.

P.S. I hope this backstage tour was intriguing, for you. Any questions? Curiosities? Appalled shock + horror?

Feel free to share, down below.

 
 

Comments

Glad to be on your team Alex, working with you is easy and awesome.

PAUL: Awwwwwww! The feeling is totally mutual. I get compliments on my site design, like, DAILY. So grateful for thee.

Alexandra Franzen on May 31, 2013 Reply

Fantasticity!! “@Alex_Franzen: A backstage tour of my business: how it works, who does what + where the money flows.
http://t.co/7jMx5KPi49”

I LOVE hearing how other people run their businesses! The more detail the better :) Thanks so much for sharing xxx

Agreed Jessica! This was lovely.

Soooo fun to be invited behind the scenes of your biz! What a treat to see how it all works. I loved reading this. Inspiring in a big way. xo

So glad I was able to work with you this year, lady! So fun & inspiring.

This is such a great post! Thanks for taking the risk and “putting it all there.” It is inspiring and thought-provoking to see another biz owner’s big picture all sketched out.

Thank you for being you and sharing yourself the way you do! Xx

I’ve bookmarked this page to refer to often as I set up my own online empire. But what struck me most… YOU’RE COMING TO MELBOURNE. Dyyying from excitement right now. I’m there. Whatever it takes.

Hannah on Jun 1, 2013 Reply

I love this. It goes to show that NO ONE can do it alone. It must be so cool to look over and see how far you’ve come and how many amazing people have supported you over the years. Big congrats to you and LOVE the direction you’re moving in!

Love every piece of this post Alex. You are incredibly inspiring and I really hope to collaborate with you one day. My website could use the rising mist of your creative spirit!

You are incredible woman and I love that you’ve opened the doors up on behind your scenes. I think transparency + authenticity in our world go hand in hand. Thank you!

Very inspiring and helpful for all business owners and love that you acknowledge your team. Keep doing what you do and can’t wait to see what you come up with next.

Frickin’ awesome post! Thanks for real-life detailed info on your business, well done for doing it & keep going cuz i think u rock! When you come to Sydney I’ll be front row at your workshop! :D xo

Thank you for sharing the backstage awesomeness Alexandra. I love seeing how people I adore keep things running.
P.S. I shall be emailing you to be your local gal for the Melbourne event xx

Gorgeous, I love it! And you! Let me know if you want any help with Sydney venue suggestions and help on the day. Looking forward to it love xxxx

How fun! I don’t follow a lot of folks, but I’m always charmed by what you write and how you write it. It inspires me to show up in my own unique way and offer up my own slice of the world for whoever chooses to consume it. Thanks for being you!! xxoo

You are such an inspiration to me!! Thank you Thank you Thank you!!

Thank you for creative being Alex! Your life & creation are splendid:)

Another outstanding post, lady! WOOHOO!!! Thank you so much; this gave me some real knowledge & insight. I love your tranparency and willingness to share. Your light shines so brightly. LOVE it! xo

Alex – You manage to beautifully fuse business acumen and mega inspiration into one post. The last few lines are still lingering in my head. Thank you for the gift.
PS – SEXY shoes!

Thanks for letting me backstage. I loved every second.

This was such an insight, I love it! Thanks for the sneak peek into your life, Alex. <3

Thank you for your backstage tour. Loved it! I love your willingness to share your knowledge, and your fav people!

Michaela Laughrin on Jun 1, 2013 Reply

Please com to Europe! That would be fabulous.

babu on Jun 1, 2013 Reply

I’m extremely upset I missed your Vancouver island AND Hawaii workshops. Is there a wait list?? I feel no one ever comes to my neck of the woods and I was ecstatic that you’d make a trip all the way up here!!!

Thank you for this amazingly transparent post!

1. You are awesome.
2. You are kind – so kind, for sharing this information and giving us a sneak peak at how you pull it off.
3. You are a super-smart business woman, in addition to being a fantastic writer.

Well done you!

HANNAH: I’m excited too! Melbourne is one of my favorite cities on EARTH. Still searching for the perrrrfect venue. Stay tuned.

FRAN: YAY! I’ve never been to Sydney. I look forward to meeting you. Prepare for a mega-hug. ;)

MICHELLE: Absolutely. If you have any Sydney venues you think I oughta look at, send ‘em my way.

KELLY: You can hop on the just-in-case waiting list for alllll my 2013 workshops, right here. Muah.

XO to you ALL.

So glad this backstage tour was useful + inspiring. It was actually quite fascinating to take a step back from my own business, and dip beneath the surface! It’s easy to forget just how much support I receive, every day.

Alexandra Franzen on Jun 2, 2013 Reply

I love you.
and that is all.

Loved reading this. As a one woman show myself, I often wonder how others do it! Thanks for sharing :)

Thank you for sharing your treasures :)

Love this lady! You are FABulous and such a shining star. I’m proud to be a part of your world. Lily misses her friend already. xox

AAAAH I love this post! Thank you Thank you THANK YOU for this! Alex, you are awesome. Lots of love. x Ritu

Just want you to know that you inspire me! So much!

Such a great post! As a big proponent of not keeping my biz secrets to myself, I always greatly admire when my favorite super successful people out there have the courage and confidence to do the same. It’s so helpful (not to mention just plain interesting) to learn about what different businesses look like from behind the scenes. Thank you, Alexandra!

Really and truly, you are a model of generosity and honesty. You rock!

So much talent, so much sharing, so much love. Mahalo Alex.

I’m absolutely honored to be part of this stellar team!

You. Are. Awesome. I adore what you stand for, who you are, and how you’re doing what you do in the way that only you can. Thanks for dishing and for being so freaking honest. I could just gobble you up. And spend many more weekends in one of your workshops playing.

Thank you so much for sharing this, Alex. It was truly inspiring, interesting, and eye-opening. Can’t wait to see what you create next! XO

Love the authenticity and how you lay it all out – thanks!

Lisa on Jun 4, 2013 Reply

Thank you for sharing! Just goes to show there’s more to it and I love that so many people have come together to make everything possible. You’re amazing for running a tight ship and keeping it real all at the same time.

Love this. Simplicity & Passion. Perfect way to run a biz ♥ Backstage tour of my biz: via @alex_franzen: http://t.co/El2MNCS9f1

It truly takes a team to make a show happen! Congrats to you for assembling such a wonderful crew and wishing you much success as the show hits the road.

Thanks so much for opening your kimono.
Fascinating and helpful!

Thanks for an awesome glimpse behind the scenes!

And, I’m thrilled to learn that you (might be) doing a WYIM workshop in Austin. If you do, I’ll be there with bells on! ;)

I loved reading this, and the best part? How much love you have for everyone who is a part of your world. :)

Friends,

I keep returning to this page, re-reading your comments, and getting increasingly verklempt.

Somehow, I’ve attracted the absolute NICEST readers + bloggy friends, ever.

Thank you. All of you.

Gonna go cry a little bit, now.

Alexandra Franzen on Jun 6, 2013 Reply

vulnerably perfect.

You never cease to amaze me Franzen. Thank you for putting this sneak peek together for us. It’s illuminating and really grounding to see what happens in your world behind-the-scenes. And I must say, I LOVE that you write/reply to your own emails and send invoices, etc. People have always told me I’m crazy for doing that stuff and I should have someone else do it, but it never felt right – at least not yet. So thanks for confirming what my guy says is A-OK. ;)
Can’t wait to see what else will emerge from that amazing mind of yours (and of course, so stoked to read your books – yaaay)! Big love to you girl! xo

Quite a lovely post. I’m curious.

How did you find your team members?

Or did they find you?

Gary on Jun 8, 2013 Reply

GARY: A little of both. ;)

Alexandra Franzen on Jun 8, 2013 Reply

Absolutely blown away! I’m not entirely sure how I landed on your site, Alexandra, however I’m absolutely certain you will help me and my entrepreneurial endeavors. You freely share so much, and as a result, will be blessed–as they say “beyond, beyond”. I wish you every success, both professional and personal, now and in your future!

Aaahhh Perfect timing. I’m just at the beginning of creating something that I hope will be of value.. This is a huge lift & inspiration. Thank you. And let me know when your heading to London so I can be of service to you. Jx

I found this really inspiring. Thanks! x

I’m delighted to be on your team as well.

Although I think of it also as having you on my team – because all of our sessions have been beyond the beyond. Because of how you open the space for the new and bold. How you bring grace and elegance into every encounter and product. It’s a beautiful thing to behold. Can’t wait for Hawaii to bask once again in your sun. xo Susan

Wow, I’m in the early process of trying to brainstorm a side business. It was super helpful for me to see the financials of a business that is doing so well. Thank you for sharing

Amaaaaaazing post. Thanks Alexandra!

Come to Brisbane AUS too!

I absolutely adore getting an inside look at how other people’s businesses work. So fascinating! Thanks so much for taking the time to share with us all (and I’m in if you come to Melbourne!) xx

Sincerity + awesomeness + utter transparency = amazing post

THANK YOU.

Consider me booked in when you come to Melbourne.

Really awesome post!! Thank you for the details, humor and heart-felt sincerity. This has inspired me in many ways.

My first time here but thank you so much for sharing such valuable information. It is great to see how another successful person runs her business. The great take away for me is that you have a great team so you can focus on intimacy with your clients. Great!!

Michelle on Jun 27, 2014 Reply

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