This post is part of my Project Profiles series. In it, I ask clients of mine about their experience editing digital products or webpages with me. You’ll hear about their project, what advice they’d give fellow small business owners thinking about working with an editor, and more. Read the rest of the series here.
It’s fitting that Shanna Mann is our very first Project Profile. Why? Because she was one of my very first clients! I’ve worked with her more than anyone else, so if anyone can give you a glimpse into what the process is like, it’s her.
Shanna is a business coach and consultant for microbusiness owners. She helps her clients figure out how to scale their efforts in order to realize their definition of success, whatever that looks like for them. (And let me tell you, she’s great at what she does.)
Shanna also creates digital products to help microbusiness owners learn the fundamentals they need to get where they’re trying to go.
Meet the Project: Your Next 6 Months (Forever)
One of the digital products we worked on together was Your Next 6 Months (Forever). It’s a comprehensive guide, complete with customizable templates, that you can use over and over again to sketch out your next six months. What I love about it in particular is how Shanna ties your mid-range plan to your long-term plan. Then she helps you translate that plan into actual things you can do each week to get there.
As Shanna explains, “Most microbusiness owners don’t have the tools or methods for effective long-range business planning. Your Next 6 Months (Forever) teaches them how to create a plan, how to develop short-range targets with it, and most importantly, how to keep it up to date.”
And now, over to Shanna!
I asked Shanna to answer a series of questions about her experience of the work we did together. Here’s what she had to say.
Why did you decide to take the plunge and work with me on Your Next 6 Months (Forever)?
You were a big part of the impetus for making it, convincing me there was a need. And I had been doing it for so long, I knew I would need to get out of my own head and into a Beginner’s Mind. It was a lot easier to hire you than it is to return to the Beginner’s Mind.
What were you hoping to get out of our work together?
When I started to write (and write, and write, and write) I realized how massive this piece was going to be. Knowing you would be reading it honestly gave me the courage to continue. I know from experience that the larger the project is, the more I fret that I’m not being clear. But because I knew you would catch all that, I was able to buckle down and finish the thing.
How would you describe what the back-and-forth between us was like for someone who’s never experienced it?
It’s like passing notes in the library. It’s a lot of fun, a lot of inside jokes. You have a way of saying exactly what I meant to say, but clearer and more succinctly. When you ask me questions, I always know that my answer in the sidebar will be the phrasing that should have been in the text.
What was the hardest part of the editing process for you?
There’s really nothing to complain of. Working with you is a genuine pleasure.
I think the only frustrating part would be the three or four exchanges required sometimes to clear out a thorny passage — and it was only because you were such a stickler for not changing things in a way that might not be exactly what I would say!
I’ve done three or four projects with you now, and I trust implicitly that whatever YOU think should be said in a given passage not only matches my vision, but is a lot better than whatever hash of mine that you’re trying to fix.
What part of the editing process was the most fun?
You always ask JUST the right questions that brings up a little mini-speech from me that adds a lot of power and flavor to the chapter.
What about the process surprised you?
I really didn’t realize how exhausting the editing process would be FOR ME. I thought the writing was the hard part — no sirree. It’s the THINKING part that’s hard, and you make me think REALLY HARD about what I want to achieve and whether I’m going about that in the most effective way.
I offloaded some of that thinking from the writing process because I knew you would help me fix it, but still! I end editing days significantly more mentally exhausted than just writing days.
What did you learn through our work together that you’ll take forward into future projects?
The biggest thing I learned is that you need to explain way, way more than you think you need to. The reader should not have to make ANY mental leaps. And you also taught me HOW to do that.
What effect are you hoping your Your Next 6 Months (Forever) will have on readers?
Well, first and foremost, I want it to solve their problem of how to balance long-term strategic business planning with short-term goals and work. But I also want them to understand that planning for the future is an inherently fluid process, because the future is always changing, and what we want and how we plan to get it is also always changing. So they shouldn’t beat themselves up when they go off the plan — it’s the plan that was flawed, not your actions. Your next plan will be better, but it’ll never be perfect, because the future is unknowable.
Do you feel like we achieved your big vision with the end result?
It’s actually way better. When I started Your Next 6 Months (Forever), I seriously thought it would be a little 30-page manual with a calendar attached. By the time I was done, it was 140 pages with almost a dozen extra resources. I thought I was putting together a small guide, and you helped me to understand that it was actually a framework.
What advice would you pass along to other small business owners that you wish you’d known before you signed up to work with a developmental editor?
It’s worth every penny, if you count the hours spent agonizing over what to say and how. If you recognize that an unfinished product is worthless. If you realize that a developmental editor is probably the difference between a product you can sell for five years vs. one you’re ashamed to ever launch again. If your info products will be business assets, then you need to invest in an editor, or they won’t get the ROI that you want.