Alex Beadon 0:00
You’re listening to episode number 30 with author and professional copywriter Alexandra Franzen. This episode is called social media is optional, not mandatory. And in this episode we speak about Alex’s love for living a meaningful life. Why she decided to give up on social media and how she’s living life and doing business her way. Do you ever feel like you’re trying to balance it all, nourishing your health while growing your business and living a life well lift and no matter how hard you try, sometimes you slip from purpose driven into autopilot. Take a deep breath, relax, and let’s get you back to where you belong. On purpose.
Alexandra Franzen is a freelancing copywriter and author who I’ve been following for years. I love her because she runs her own business in such a unique and individual way. She steers clear of social media and legit writes the best newsletters in the world. If you’ve ever wondered what having a newsletter can do for you, if you’ve ever wondered if taking a break from social media would actually do you some good. This is a great one to listen to. Alex is a true artist and a beautiful human being on a mission to create meaning with her life. Welcome to on purpose. Alex, thank you so much for being here on the show with me today.
Alexandra Franzen 1:33
Nice. Thanks, I legs. Party, Alex is all around.
Alex Beadon 1:40
And like I just told you before we pressed record, you’re the second Alex that I’m having on the show. So it’s like just Alex is everywhere. It’s also
Alexandra Franzen 1:48
the Alex show. And we people named Alex about that idea. It’s actually be so funny, because you could interview all kinds of Alex’s There are
Alex Beadon 1:57
many kinds of good Alex is out there in the world. Okay, so I’m gonna start the conversation by just asking you a question that I ask every single person who comes on the show, and that is what is most nourishing about having your own business.
Alexandra Franzen 2:13
So I have a confession. I totally listened to a couple episodes before we met today. And I’m so glad I did that I can anticipate this question because I probably otherwise would have been like to her. But I actually thought about it a little bit. And, you know, there’s so many things, of course. But I think the biggest thing is that I’m I’m the type of person where I hate wasting time. Meaning like, I don’t want to do busy work. I don’t want to be sitting in a meaningless departmental meeting. I don’t want I don’t want my day to be filled with things when I’m just like, oh, like, why are we doing this. And when I used to have a more kind of like traditional corporate cubically job, there was so much of that. And what I love about being self employed being you know, an entrepreneur being a freelancer is that, you know, for the most part, I can really strip all that out of my workday and just work on tasks and projects and clients and activities that are actually meaningful, and where I’m actually producing or creating something, and that just makes my whole day feel so much more rich and exciting and alive. So yeah, not wasting time is very nourishing to me.
Alex Beadon 3:37
That is so, so onpoint with the entire conversation that I know we’re gonna have today. So okay, I have to update everyone. Alex is about to release her book. Actually, by the time this podcast goes live, it will have just been released into the world because it’s October 15. Right? That is so exciting. So it’s called. So this is the end a love story. And I will tell you, I’m gonna be honest, I didn’t read the entire thing. But it’s really because it just came to me very recently, and I’m in the middle of laundry. So I’ve been super busy. But I will tell you, the hour before this call, I was like, Okay, I’m going to read as much as I can in an hour. And I started reading it. And I’m not someone who’s like a big fiction reader. Right? So I wasn’t sure how I was going to enjoy it. And I really like it was so I couldn’t stop wanting to read more and more and more and more. And when I saw the hour was almost up, I was like no, this is. The premise is that there is this woman who dies and she had, there’s basically this, I’m probably going to butcher your entire story but I’m going to do my best to explain where I’m at so far. And basically she dies and she has an opportunity. There’s this thing on earth where you have a chance to get like an extra 24 hours of life and you can decide to buy it for yourself or not and so she decides to buy it She wakes up and it’s like her last 24 hours on planet Earth. And you follow her throughout her day. And I got to our number nine. And I was like, Oh my gosh, just reading this story. It’s making me think about things in I think about death every day if I’m being honest, but written in perspective, is just so powerful. So I’m so excited to keep reading it.
Alexandra Franzen 5:24
That’s so so amazing. And yeah, your synopsis synopsis that synopsis synopsis of the book was was right on, that’s exactly right. She she dies, she has an opportunity to come back only for 24 hours. So yeah, the whole premise of the book, the central question is, you know, if you had just 24 hours to live, what would you do with your time, and the main character of the book is, is kind of wrestling with that, especially at the beginning and trying to figure out, you know, what should I do? Should it should I go visit my mom, should I go eat a cheeseburger? Should I go watch the sunset? Should I dance like nobody’s watching? Should I you know, what should I do? This is it. This is the end. And then I don’t know if you’re at this part of the book yet. I don’t want to give too much away. But she ends up falling in love. She meets the love of her life, very last day of her life. And then that brings up a whole other set of complications and questions. And
Alex Beadon 6:23
I’m so excited. I’m actually I’m going away this weekend. And I can’t wait to keep reading. And hopefully finish it because it really has me like totally enraptured in the story. I absolutely love it. And I love that. Your answer just now so well. So clearly, like you prioritize meaning, which is something that I think you and I have in common. And something that I think is so magnetic about you, is that everything that you do seems to be dripping in meaning for you. And I absolutely love that about you. Okay, so before we kind of dive into that question, which is my next question, I would love for you to just do a quick intro of who you are, and what you do in your business for anyone who may not have heard of you
Alexandra Franzen 7:08
as yet. Yeah, of course. So I’m a writer. I’ve been self employed now for about eight or nine years, eight years, little over eight years. And I do a variety of things. I do copywriting, I do ghost writing, I do editing services. Most of the time, my clients are companies that are in kind of like the health and wellness and medicine and personal growth, make your life body mind more awesome field. And people hire me to help them write and develop podcasts and websites and video scripts, and sometimes speeches and proposals and pitches and book proposals and books and all kinds of things. So I love that kind of work because I get to work on so many different kinds of projects. And they they pull me in as a writer, you know, often I’m working among some kind of team where there’ll be like a designer or an audio engineer and things like that, which is really fun. I also teach creative writing, I teach writing retreats, mostly in Hawaii, but sometimes other places too. And I do a little bit of coaching. Sometimes people hire me for writing coaching, like if they want to write a book, but they’re feeling really stuck. And they want me to like lovingly nudge them and push them and help them map it out and keep moving forward. And then I have my own body of work separate from client stuff, which is I write articles, and I write books. I’ve written both nonfiction and fiction, I’ve done self publishing, as well as traditional publishing. I do. Soon I’ll be starting my own podcast. Oh my gosh, really excited. Oh, my gosh, that’s
awesome. I have kind
of my own little body of work of my own art projects, if you will, including my newsletter, which I really consider to be an art project. And that’s what I do.
Alex Beadon 9:02
That’s amazing. And just to kind of give everyone who’s listening a little bit of my history with you. I can’t remember how I found you online. But I know it was definitely years ago because I’ve been obsessed with your newsletters for the longest time. Like your newsletters are the one that like, you know, I’m subscribed to a lot of newsletters that are just kind of there. I don’t read them, they kind of come in and out. And actually recently, Laura who works with me, she made me unsubscribe to all of them. But yours is like the Holy Grail of newsletters. Like I just love listening to what you’re up to you. You share a variety of different topics. And I love that it’s like a personal thing for you. Like, like you said, it’s like an art project for you as well. And I just love that not only do you have your client work and the work that you get paid to do, but you’re also doing work for your own enjoyment and just to express yourself. Yeah,
Alexandra Franzen 9:53
thank you for saying that. And it’s interesting because I started my newsletter about maybe seven or eight years ago and there was a time in my career where, you know, I was reading a lot of articles about how to run a successful business. And everyone was saying, you know, like focus, find your niche, find your ideal client be specific do well, and, and I think there’s so much power in that. But I also felt like, that’s just not me. Like, I don’t, I don’t want to have a newsletter, where I’m writing about just one topic, or I’m speaking to just one kind of person, like, I just don’t want to do that, at least not with this particular newsletter. So I have kept it kind of broad like one newsletter, I might share an inspiring true story about an incredible person I met that month who, you know, did something amazing, and it really inspired me. And then another week, I might share, you know, writing or productivity tips. And another week, I might share, like an audio pep talk, where I’m trying to give encouragement and motivation. And so I mixed it up, but it’s overall, you know, my goal is always I want to leave my reader in better condition than I found them, I want to uplift their day, and I want to serve, you know, some kind of inspiration, encouragement and motivation. A spirit of you can do this, you’re gonna be okay, today is not over yet. You’re gonna make it is kind of the the overall message that I try to drip into those newsletters. So I’m so happy that you read it. And also, I will never be offended if you unsubscribe because that is okay. And decluttering your inbox is super awesome.
Alex Beadon 11:34
I totally agree. But I just love your newsletters. I love everything that you write, I love how your offerings, they just seem to be so from the heart. And I think what everything that you just said, is really going to hit home with so many people, I have so many clients who I work with who tell me, you know, I feel like I have to talk about one thing, do I really have to just be known for this one thing? And I’m like, No, I feel like we’ll want to get to know the people that they’re following on a really personal level. And I think things are changing in that regard where it’s like we It depends on your brand, obviously. But many times it’s really nice to know the whole person and to to know like that they’re dynamic, and that they have all of these different things that they want to share and bring to the table. And so I think it really does add value. And we’re beginning to see a shift in that way, which is super interesting to kind of just witness.
Alexandra Franzen 12:23
Yeah. So are there any I’m curious, are there any other newsletters that you still receive? Like, what are some that you think are really wonderful, or if not newsletters and like blogs or any other things that you follow? I really
Alex Beadon 12:38
the only newsletter that I really enjoy is yours, like anytime. I know, it’s like a really big statement to say, but for the most part, I can’t think of anyone else’s off the top of my head who when their name pops up, I’m like, oh, I should really click on that. Because for the most for the most part, people just pop up in my inbox like, man. I don’t really need to open that right now. I’ve got a million other things. Whereas with yours, I really even if I come back to it a few days later, I know that I’m going to get something from it. I feel like it’s really valuable, which is something that I really appreciate.
Alexandra Franzen 13:10
Interesting. What about like podcasts? Because you recently started this podcast, you’re rocking along? Are there any podcasts either in the business world or totally outside of business that you really enjoy?
Alex Beadon 13:22
I’m loving two podcasts right now. One is called the daily, you may have heard of it. It’s like a news podcast. Oh, I don’t know that one. It’s so good. I just love it. Because it’s such like an unbiased source of American news, which is weird, because I’m not in America. And I’m not an American. But I feel like American news affects the world. So I like to keep up to date. And like, I don’t like watching the actual news. So to me, it feels like a really good place to just go and get what I need in a really quick bursts and then walk away without having to like get all that I find. I don’t know, when I watch the news. It just makes me feel so bad. Whereas when I listened to this podcast, it’s like, I feel like I’m getting the facts. I’m getting what I need to know. And then that’s it. Yeah, you’re getting my emotional day. And then the other podcast that I’m really enjoying right now, let me find it because I cannot remember the name of it. Oh, it’s called Am I allowed to like anything? It’s so good. It’s just kind of like talking about culture and life and just, it covers so many different things. And I think that kind of goes back to what you were saying I’ve really kind of fallen out of, I think when I was first starting my business I was so into, like listening to everything about business that I possibly could. And like now I’m more about like exploring other aspects of life that are totally out of the industry and not necessarily having to read every single thing or listen to every single business podcast because I don’t know, it’s like I have more of a trust in myself as a business person now and I know that like I can use my own creativity and I have the strategies in mind that I can kind of play around with Do you ever feel that way too?
Alexandra Franzen 14:59
Oh, my Totally. And I think this is really common and normal. I think when you’re starting something new, any kind of project, you know, you’re trying to write a book, you’re trying to start a podcast, you’re trying to, you know, launch a business, I think it’s very natural that you’re like, well, I need to learn as much as I can. So you start researching the crazy and you, you read all the articles and read all the books and you find your mentors and your heroes and, and I think that’s what you do when you’re sort of peeling yourself off the ground and getting going. But then yeah, as the years go along, as you kind of find your footing and feel more confident in your work that I think it’s so important to start seeking inspiration outside of your industry and outside of your bubble so that you don’t get this like tunnel vision and just feel like you’re just mimicking all the people around you or bored. You know, like, I think that’s what it means to be a well rounded artist or service service provider or business owners, you’re you’re pulling inspiration from a whole variety of places and kind of, you know, re mixing it in your own way. Oh, there was a screen interview that I saw so many years ago, I think it was like a teenager at the time. And it was an interview with a ballerina like a prima ballerina. I think she was with American Ballet Theatre. I don’t remember her name. But I remember what she said, which was they asked her, you know, how do you prepare for the role of Juliet in the ballet version of Romeo and Juliet? Like, how do you get ready for that role? How do you embody the character? How do you give such an amazing performance. And what she said was, first, I research I read the play, I read every adaptation of the play, I watch videos of all the other ballerinas who have performed the role of Juliet, I study what they do and how they do it. I you know, absorb all things, Juliette. And then she said, and then I have to try to forget everything, and become my own Juliet. And I think that’s a really beautiful way of putting it, it’s like we kind of have to absorb, absorb, absorb, absorb, get all this information to sort of get us going. And then in a way you have to, you have to forget you have to kind of wipe your mind clear so that you can you can be yourself, you can be your own, that you can be your own type of business owner. And I’ve never forgotten the way that she put that I think that’s really beautiful.
Alex Beadon 17:21
That is really beautiful. So I’m curious which podcasts and newsletters Do you enjoy? Ooh, okay, so I’m excited you got
Alexandra Franzen 17:34
I love podcasts. I just love I listen to them while I’m working out. Sometimes I listen to them while I’m like puttering around my house making dinner doing laundry. I just I love them. And some that I’ve been listening to. I actually listen to a lot of comedy podcasts. I love this podcast called, why won’t you date me, which is hosted by Nicole Byers. And it’s literally a podcast, this woman she’s single, and she can’t figure out why. And so she interviews ex boyfriends, men, she’s dated in the past who didn’t want to go out with her again. And also just like random friends, and she asks them, basically, why am I single? Why won’t you date me? And then she makes them look at her Tinder profile and give them her their feedback. Like and it is I mean, it’s the it’s the funniest premise and is hilarious. And also she has this incredible confidence like she’s actually not like desperate. She She genuinely wants to know like, oh, so like, you hate that photo. Tell me why. She’s just very, she’s very upfront and funny and has just the most amazing personality. So I love Why won’t you date me? It’s hilarious. We also love this podcast. It’s a Buzzfeed podcast called thirst aid kit. Okay, kind of like first aid kit, but thirst. And thirst is a slang that because I’m an old grandpa, I didn’t know until recently, if you’re thirsty, or if you have thirst, it means like you have a crush on someone or you think they’re hot or whatever. Right? So this is a podcast where these two women basically just gush about people that they find super, super attractive. And then they but they do like this incredibly detailed breakdown of exactly why. And so like, they’ll talk about a male celebrity and they’ll break down like one scene in that one movie when he takes off his shirt almost completely, but not quite. And then, like, they go into like incredible detail and they’re both so funny. And then they write like little short, erotic stories and they read them on air and they’re both cracking up and it’s just one of the most delightful, hilarious show. Both of those, they will make you laugh, laugh laugh.
Alex Beadon 19:55
I love it. And what about newsletters?
Alexandra Franzen 19:58
So for newsletters similar to you I’ve unsubscribed from a lot of things over the years. And at this point, the only newsletters that I get regularly and read are, I usually subscribe to newsletters that are my clients. You know, if I’m working for a company or a client, I will usually get their newsletter at least for a while so that I can kind of familiarize myself with them a bit more. And then I get, I get a newsletter from booty yoga, which is a yoga company because I love their yoga classes. And these letters are pretty fun actually, they’re usually really short, but very inspiring. And I get a newsletter from my mom.
Alex Beadon 20:41
Oh, wow. Yes, she
Alexandra Franzen 20:43
started a newsletter.
Alex Beadon 20:44
So brilliant. I gosh, where can we find your mom’s newsletter?
Alexandra Franzen 20:51
Um, so to be totally honest, I don’t know. I think she has a website. Well, I’m pretty sure she has a website now, which is deal friends and.com. She works in the performing arts. She’s currently producing a musical that’s in London right now. And she’s an amazing woman. But she’s also very, very, very tech phobic. I guess we’re all kind of just like anti technology. Like she’s, she doesn’t do any social media. Nor do I actually these days, and she kind of hates her cell phone. And she has like a various sort of sketchy relationship with email. But somehow she started a newsletter. And I don’t know if you can subscribe to it, or you just have to know her and
Alex Beadon 21:30
she’ll add one thing.
Alexandra Franzen 21:33
He sends out a newsletter, and I receive it, and it is always a delight.
Alex Beadon 21:38
I love it. I love it. That actually brings me on very nicely to what I want to talk to you about next, which is how you became the person that you are today. Because you’re someone who is very different from like the average Freelancer that you would find online. As we’ve spoken about, you have a deep desire for meaning and for creativity. And I love those two things about you. So what did you take away from your family life as a child? And how do you think it’s affected? who you are today? Yeah. Oh,
Alexandra Franzen 22:10
that’s a great question. Um, so Well, let’s talk about my mom a little bit more. My mom, who is probably my biggest hero in life, and my best friend, she, her dad died very, very suddenly. And shockingly, when she was about 15 years old. And it was just the gruesome, horrific thing where she literally, you know, found his dead body, he died from a heart disease situation. And so he died when she was 15. And her whole family was kind of thrown into chaos, she had four other siblings, her mom, you know, went into like a deep depression as as one would expect. Then shortly after that, their house burned down, there was like a freak fire, there was just like a series of calamities that happened. And as a result, my mom became at a very young age, you know, what, 1718 years old, extremely independent, the type of person who was like, you know, I need to take care of myself because nobody else will. And, and also a person with a very, very real sense of, this could be your last day, and you never know what’s coming around the corner. So you better enjoy this moment to the absolute fullest. Because this isn’t baby like this is it? This is your life. And from a very young age, she really instilled that life philosophy into me and into my brother and sister, this idea of whatever’s right in front of you right now, if if you have an opportunity to work on an amazing art project, if you have an opportunity to spend the afternoon with your family, you know, whatever’s good in your life, appreciate it and really appreciate it. And whining is not allowed, was kind of the philosophy in our family. So, yeah, I think that that has totally affected me like deep, deep, deep in my bones. And like everyone, of course, I have days and moments where I get off track and I get distracted and I get off purpose and I’m just kind of, you know, frittering away the day not particularly present or not appreciating things, but I also then it’s almost like, I hear the voice of my mom, and I’m able to kind of snap back and remember that today is meaningful and to appreciate it to the fullest. But what about you? What was your family upbringing, like and what kind of messages were sort of instilled in you?
Alex Beadon 24:44
Oh, that’s such a good question that I asked you first. Um, wow. I think for me, probably the thing that had the biggest impact on me was the fact that I moved around like, probably once every year and a half between different And country’s because of my dad’s job. So I spent my whole childhood kind of just like moving, moving, moving, settling down, making friends moving again, settling down, making friends moving again. And I think that it really helped me to, I remember when I, when I was like 1314, I started to realize that the time that we have with people is so precious for me at that time, it was because I knew I had finally gotten to the awareness that like, Oh, this isn’t going to stop, this is going to keep happening. So while I’m here, I better like really enjoy it and take a lot of pictures and soak up every moment that I possibly can. And so I think similarly, it taught me how to be super present. So everything that you just said feels like very much. It feels very, it resonates very deeply with me. And it feels like I can recognize that also in myself. And I think similarly, I had a mother who was always very, it was very important for her to remind us of the importance of living your best life, appreciating every moment for what it is, and, and really looking on the positive side of things. I think I look at my positivity, I think it really comes from my mother. So yeah, so I think that really affected me. I’m curious, how, where did your entrepreneurial side come
Alexandra Franzen 26:21
from? That’s a great question, too. I would say again, from my family, my family I was so I know, this is not the storyline for so many people, which breaks my heart. But I was really born into a family that celebrated the arts and creativity and being different and doing your own thing and being rebellious. In fact, if anything, I was kind of like the uptight stick in the mud in my family. Like I remember being a teenager, and my mom would be like, it’s a beautiful day, you know, let’s play hooky, go to school, come to the beach. And I’d be like, Oh, my have a bathtub. You know, but my family is very, very, very entrepreneurial. My, my mom, in her own way is an entrepreneur. She’s been a performing artist most of her life and has been, you know, self employed. She’s run nonprofit organization. So she’s, she’s very entrepreneurial, and creative. My dad has a more traditional profession. He’s a lawyer, but he’s run his own practice his own firm for many, many years. My brother and sister are both very creative and entrepreneurial. So it was just kind of the sea that I grew up swimming in was an entrepreneurial place. And that is, I know, that is so rare, and I’m so lucky that that was my upbringing. But what’s funny is that even though I grew up in such a supportive environment, it’s still hard to become an entrepreneur. And I still faced all kinds of fears and insecurities when I started to make those little baby steps towards self employment. Because it’s scary No matter what, you know,
Alex Beadon 28:03
yeah. What would you say was the thing that happened for you, or the change or something, something that really prompted you to step fully into your entrepreneurial self? Like, what I’m curious is like, what made you start really feeling like, Oh, I got this, like, I understand how this how this works. Like, what advice would you have to people who are just starting out as entrepreneurs?
Alexandra Franzen 28:26
Oh, so Okay, so, to go back to the kind of the first part of your question of what what prompted me to become an entrepreneur. You know, some people when you ask people like, why did you start your business? Or why did you become an entrepreneur, they’ll say, like, I was so motivated by this, you know, this mission that I want to spread in the world, or I just want to help people and, but like to be totally frank, for me, my initial motivation was just that I hated my job so much. And I just wanted to be free. And I was almost at the time, this was like nine or 10 years ago, it almost didn’t matter what I did with my career, as long as I could be self employed and be free and not have to go to a cubicle every day. Like that was my initial motivation that kind of lit a fire under my butt to help me figure out a plan to transition out of the nine to five cubicle worlds and into being self employed. later down the line. as things progressed, then I began to connect with other motivations, like wanting to be of service and wanting to contribute to humanity and wanting to touch people’s lives and wanting to make beautiful art. But really, at the beginning, it was just like, I need to get out of here. Yeah, that was, that was my initial push. So you know, I guess my advice for someone who’s starting out would be Hmm, I guess I would say tap into your tap into your motivation. Do whatever it may be, and let it fuel you and fire you to keep taking the steps you need to take to move your career in the direction you want to go. And what I mean by that is like, right now, if you’re just motivated by, I want to quit my cubicle job, I want to save $30,000. So I’ve got a little cushion, and I want to get out of here. Like, if that’s your motivation right now, then that’s great, like, focus on that, write that down, put it on your vision board, you know, whatever. But whatever your true motivation is, focus on it and let it fuel you forward. That’s my advice.
Alex Beadon 30:34
I like that advice. It’s good advice. Okay, I really want to talk to you about your relationship with social media. Because for years, you’ve been an example. Every time people were like, do I have to have a Facebook page? I’m like, No, you don’t have to have an online presence. Just look at Alexandra Franzen. So talk to us about like the decision, because I know you don’t have a Facebook page, correct?
Alexandra Franzen 30:56
Yeah, at this point, I don’t have any social media. And you’re not on Instagram, either. No, yeah, I have my website. And I have a blog. I’m answering flutter newsletter. And that’s it. No, no worry about
Alex Beadon 31:10
that. Like, what was the decision factor behind that? Like, were you scared at first, you were like, Oh, my gosh, I have to be in these places. I would just love to hear you kind of rounds on that for a little.
Alexandra Franzen 31:21
Oh, I love talking about this topic. So as a preamble, I will say because they don’t want to get angry letters in the mail, as I have in the past. To be very clear. I am not saying that social media is that. In fact, I actually think it’s one of the most amazing inventions of our generation. And it can be used in so many beautiful ways. So if you are the person who loves using Instagram, and you love using Snapchat, and you love using Facebook, and it brings meaning and joy into your life, and it feels like an art project for you, or it helps you find clients, that is awesome. Please keep doing your thing. That’s my my preface of that I don’t get an angry letter from a high schooler in the mail like I did a few months ago. That being said, I do also believe that social media is optional, not mandatory. And here’s my personal story of what happens. So about, you know, back in the day back when I was getting my business started, like we talked about earlier, you know, I hired coaches, and I found mentors, and I did tons of research. And of course, everybody was saying, You got to be on social media, you got to be on Twitter, you got to be on Facebook. That’s how you’re going to find clients as a freelancer or as a, you know, self employed service providers. So I was like, okay, so I made all the profiles, and I had Twitter and Facebook and Instagram, and I had vine, I think, Pinterest, and you know, all the things. And I just started chugging away. And I found that, you know, it was really fun. I liked Twitter, I like Instagram, you know, it was, it was a fun way to express myself out. You know, I obviously love writing, I love communicating. So it felt great. And pretty quickly I built up, you know, a pretty sizable following. And things were sort of rocking along. And several years passed. And then I just remember there was kind of moments in my life, where I noticed that I would reach for my phone, almost without even realizing I was doing it. And then just start kind of compulsively scrolling through Twitter, who liked my last tweet who retweeted my last tweet who sent me a direct mail. No, it was kind of it really felt like almost like a physical compulsion to just have a quick check. Have another check what’s happening now? Let’s check and see. And I didn’t like this. It started to kind of grossed me out. I was like, why am I doing this? Like, I felt like almost like I was hypnotized. Or, like I was addicted. Exactly. And I also started noticing how just kind of how much of my mental energy was sort of caught up in, for example, Twitter, like, I’d be just sitting around and I would I would think of something I wanted to tweet and then I would, it’s just I just started to become aware like how it sure does feel like a lot of my time and a lot of my mental energy is being focused on social media and and maybe too much, you know, maybe this is getting a little overboard, even veering into the realm of sort of compulsion or addiction, like that about myself. And so I decided to do a little math. And what I did was that because on Twitter, I think you can see like how many times you’ve tweeted in total, or you know how many tweets in the last year or whatever. So, I literally sat down with a calculator, and I pulled up you know, the total number of tweets that I had He did in the previous year. And then I multiplied that by the approximate number of minutes that went into each tweet. And I kind of just made a rough estimate of like, you know, it takes me maybe two minutes to think of the witty tweet in my mind, and then it takes me like a minute to type it into my phone, and then then maybe, you know, another minute to kind of, you know, shorten it edited, you know, add the link, whatever. And then I posted and then I, then there may be a minute or two, where I’m checking to see how many people retweeted it. And then a couple minutes later, where I check and see, okay, well, how many people now and, and I kind of came up with a rough estimate that every tweet represents, like about 12 minutes of my life, that is sort of invested in in the cultivation and harvesting of that tweet, you know what I mean? Yeah, so I multiplied total number of tweets for the year by 12 minutes. And I got a big, big, big number of minutes, because I was tweeting, you know, several times a day, typically. And I was like, Whoa, and then I multiplied that number by, like, you know, 40, or 50. In other words, if I keep tweeting at this current rate for the rest of my life, like for the rest of my career for the next four or five decades, what’s the grand total? And what I found was that if I were to continue on that path, by the end of my life, I would have spent about three years of my life doing Twitter. Wow. Yeah. And I wow. And to be clear, that’s just Twitter, and Facebook and all the other ones. So I remember looking at that number on my calculator. And I, I, my first reaction was, that can’t be right. I was like that I made a mistake. So I did the math again, and again and again. And I was like, No, that’s, that’s right. That’s where I’m headed. And I actually felt sick to my stomach. I felt kind of nauseated. And I felt scared. And I projected, I mean, you mentioned earlier in this in our conversation that you think about death all the time. I think about death all the time, too. And I suddenly imagined myself, like, on my deathbed, you know, hopefully 90 years old, and looking back on my life. And if I were to look back on my life, when I’m 90, would I think to myself, I’m so glad I spent three years on Twitter, like that was a great use of my time, or, or what I think to myself, I wish I had spent those three years writing three more novels, or I wish I had spent those three years with my family or, you know, or anything else. And for me, personally, when I really think about where I want my time to be going, it’s not Twitter, you know, or certainly not that much of it. So, I decided to make some changes. And I started really small, I started by, you know, I was nervous, I didn’t want to make any drastic changes. Like many people, I had this fear that if I stop using social media, I’ll never get any clients and my business will dry up and everything will fall apart. So I started by making a really tiny change, which was I just decided that I was going to take, just take the summer off from Twitter. That’s it, just like two or three months, just kind of hit pause. And so I think I posted something on Twitter saying like, Hey, I’m taking a little summer sabbatical. So you guys in the fall or whatever. And I just didn’t use Twitter for that one summer. And I was curious to see what would happen to see if there would be a negative impact on my business to see how it would feel. And what I found is that it was it was weird at first, because I missed it, you know, and I was almost like, you know, weaning yourself off of sugar or caffeine, like I wanted that sweet, sweet Twitter hit. But after a few weeks, I didn’t really miss it. And I also noticed that my brain felt a little quieter. Like the metaphor, the best metaphor I can use is like, it’s like if you have a refrigerator in your kitchen that’s broken. And it’s kind of making like our PA like a home sound. But it’s been that way for so long that you almost don’t even notice it anymore. It’s just like part of your environment. It’s just it’s there. But then one day, finally the repair guy comes and fixes it. And there’s silence and you’re like, oh, it it’s so quiet. Yeah, I didn’t know it could be like this. That’s kind of how it felt when I stopped using Twitter. It’s like there was the hum in my brain. Huh, went away a little bit more. And so at the end of that summer, I decided that I was going to, to go further I was gonna go, you know, do a year without Twitter. And then little by little by little by little, I just kept deactivating my accounts, I got rid of Facebook, I got rid of Instagram, I got rid of all all the things. And
what I found, and look, my my business model is such that I’m not trying to sell 100,000 copies of an ecourse. That’s not how I make money I, my business model is that I genuinely work with a very small handful of clients on long term projects. So I only really need about 10 to 15 clients every year, plus maybe you know, eight to 10 people to sign up for my retreats that I do, and things like that. So I don’t need a million Twitter followers, you know, like, I just need a small tribe of people who love my work and who hire me and recommend me. So, for me, what I found was that removing social media from my life and from my business, it didn’t have a negative impact on my income at all. In fact, if anything, it was a positive thing, because there had so much extra mental energy and space and time that I was able to write three books and develop my first digital product and like, make stuff. So for me personally, the choice to leave social media has been so good. Nowadays, I can honestly say I don’t miss it at all. I don’t even think about it. It’s just not part of my life. And I just communicate with my clients and friends in other ways. I send them text messages, I send them little audio messages and video messages through email, and do my newsletter. I just have other ways that I connect with people. And that’s enough. So that’s my social media story.
Alex Beadon 42:01
That was an awesome story. I loved it. I’m curious how since deactivating your social media accounts, what would you say has been the most beneficial use of your time when it comes to actually marketing yourself and getting clients? Yeah. So
Alexandra Franzen 42:20
for me, when I think about like, how do clients find me, it’s usually word of mouth, it’s usually that, you know, I have a client, and maybe they initially find me through my website, or maybe a friend recommended me to them. Or maybe they’ve been on my newsletter for many, many, many years. And now they want to hire me. But if I work with that client, and I put my whole heart into the project, and I do a really, really good job, they are very likely to mention me to somebody else to a colleague to a friend. And then that person wants to hire me too. And I mean, I would say 90% of the comments that I get are just hey, my friend Sharon told me that I need to hire you like it’s that kind of thing. It has nothing to do with social media, or Facebook, or whatever. So yeah, I mean, people find me through a comp through a combination of, you know, again, I have a website, I post articles there, I have a newsletter, people enjoy my newsletter, sometimes. I put myself out there like what we’re doing right now, you know, I am a guest on other people’s shows. Occasionally, I’ve done media appearances, I make an effort to put myself out there to the best of my abilities, and write books, you know, so I am putting myself out there in a variety of ways. I’m just not doing it on Instagram. Yeah. So it’s, again, like, if I always say to people, because a lot of people are curious about what is life without Instagram, like, how does this work. And it’s like, there’s so many different ways to connect to people and build relationships and put yourself out into the world and share your work. Instagram is an amazing way to do it. But it’s just one of 1000 different things. And I think we’ve almost forgotten that in this point in our culture.
Alex Beadon 44:09
I love that. I love that so much. And for me, being someone who follows you and watches you and checks in on you and sees what’s going on. I think it’s almost like by removing yourself from those platforms. It’s almost increased the value of you and your brands in a way because it’s like you’ve created your own little space of like, Hey, if you want to hear from me, these are the places where it’s going to happen. And it’s not going to happen in all of these other places, just because that’s where everyone else says that it should happen.
Alexandra Franzen 44:42
Alex Beadon 44:45
Which I think is awesome. And it just adds even more value. That’s why I think when your newsletter comes up, I’m like, Hey, I have like an update from her. Cool, you know, that’s so
Alexandra Franzen 44:53
cool. That’s great to hear. And yeah, I think I’m also the type of person who I really like of intimacy. I think that’s one of the reasons why I still love doing one on one work with clients. I love that kind of intimacy and personal connection. And, you know, even though my newsletter has grown over the course of many, many years to a pretty big community, I still feel that sense of intimacy there, there is something about an email, because it’s kind of like a conversation between you and one person. And so I like that. And I also like that when I share something for my newsletter, for example, it’s like once I hit that send button, and it goes out, that’s it. Like, I’m not tracking to see how many people click the heart button about it, or how many comments there are, it’s just like, hey, here you go. And out it goes. And that’s kind of the end of it, you know, and there’s something about that, that I really enjoy as well. It kind of again, it reduces that that noise inside my way, a little bit.
Alex Beadon 46:00
So for anyone who’s listening, who’s really resonating with what you’re saying about having a more intimate newsletter, what advice would you have for them,
Alexandra Franzen 46:10
I would say, when you write your newsletter, even if you are writing to 500 subscribers, or 1000, or 10,000, or 100,000, pretend like you’re writing to just one person, pretend like you’re writing an email to a friend. And sometimes I will actually imagine a specific person in my mind, like all imagine, a client or a friend or you know, a woman who I know is like a super duper fan of my newsletter, and I’ll pretend that I’m writing just to that one person. And when we do this, it’s it’s like something clicks in our brain where we’re able to communicate in such a more natural, human conversational way. When you think to yourself, Oh, I’m just writing an email, no big deal. You’re writing changes the way that you communicate changes. So that would be my biggest piece of advice is write as if you’re writing to just one person. And another little kind of add on to this is, if you’re the type of person where you love to share advice, or inspiration or encouragement in your newsletter, like I do. Imagine that one person emailed you, and they basically asked for your help. So you can imagine that someone emailed you and they’re like, Hey, I’m just getting started with Instagram stories. I have no idea what I’m doing. I’m so overwhelmed. I think my stories suck. Also, like I’m kind of tech phobic, I die. I need help. Do you have any words of encouragement for a total newbie, like me? So you just got that email from someone? And then if you got that email, what would you say in response, you’d be like, hey, it’s so awesome that you’re experimenting with Instagram stories. I think it’s such a fun way to express yourself. And it can be used to do so many beautiful things. And if you’re just getting started, here’s what I want you to know. Blah, blah, blah, and then share your advice or share your story or whatever. But when you write again, when you write as if you’re speaking to just one person, a funny thing happens, which is that every single person who receives your newsletter feels like, oh my god, she’s talking to me. Like, Yeah, feels like you wrote this just for me because it has that personal, intimate feeling. Hmm,
Alex Beadon 48:28
I love that. Okay, so my next question for you is, I want to hear more about your book and about the creative process for you creating this book, so talk to me about what that was like.
Alexandra Franzen 48:41
Okay, so I had a dream. And so Alex, do you remember like, Do you are you the kind of person where you remember all of your dreams really vividly when you wake up? Or do you usually not remember?
Alex Beadon 48:53
No, I do. I definitely remember. Okay, so
Alexandra Franzen 48:56
I’m the opposite. I actually almost never remember my dreams. I don’t know why. I usually wake up and I’m just like, Okay, what happened? I don’t know. This, this one morning, it wasn’t even morning. It was kind of in the middle of the night actually. I bolted awake from a dream. And it was one of the only times in my whole life when I really remembered my dream vividly, like almost like it was a movie that I had just watched. And in this dream, I had died. And in the dream, somehow doctors had been able to kind of resuscitate me and bring me back to life. And in my dream, the doctor said to me, you know you’re dead. But you’re very lucky because we’ve been able to bring you back, but it’s only for about 24 hours. You know the effects of this medical procedure we’ve done are only going to last for 24 hours so you have one extra day. Go do whatever you want to do before you die again. permanently. And I remember in the dream I was, you know, I wanted to see my family, I wanted to watch the sunset I wanted, I wanted to do so many things. And I remember, in my dream, feeling the sense of like, a combination of gratitude that I had one more day, but also the sense of pressure and urgency and deep sadness, like, this is the end, this is the last time that I’m going to see my mom and dad and sister and brother. And this is the last time that I’m going to do that I’m going to walk barefoot on the grass. And there is just this bittersweet feeling of, it’s all coming to an end, and there’s nothing I can do to stop it. And I woke up from that dream. And I was like, my heart was pounding and I was sweaty, and I think I started crying, like it was the most emotional dream I’ve ever had. And I couldn’t stop thinking about it, like weeks went by, and I kept thinking about that dream and thinking about it. And finally, I realized, you know, I don’t know if I don’t know what I want to create, you know, maybe it’s an article, maybe it’s a blog post, maybe it’s a book, but I need I need to write about this even just like for my own catharsis and journaling, like I need to write about the stream that I had. And so I took my laptop and I went to the local coffee shop, and I just started writing. And almost without really making a plan, it pretty quickly became clear that I wanted to tell this story in the form of a novel in the form of a fiction book. And I had this concept of like a 24 hour 24 chapter book, where each chapter follows, you know, one hour in the final day of this woman. And so that’s how it all started. And then what was interesting, though, is that the book poured out of me really quickly, like it only took me about six weeks to write the whole book charged out. But then I kind of just let the word documents sit on my computer desktop for like, six months. And I didn’t do anything with it. I didn’t share it. I didn’t, you know, send it to my proofreader. I didn’t. You know, I didn’t look for fiction, literary agents. I didn’t mention it to my publisher. I didn’t do anything with it. I just kind of let it sit there. And there was a whole variety of reasons for that, you know, I was busy with other projects, blah, blah, blah. But also, I mean, really, honestly, I think I was just scared. I think I was just nervous that because I don’t do a lot of fiction writing. And I think I worried maybe this is just not good. You know, maybe this book kind of sucks, or I don’t know, like, how do I know if this is good enough to even get published or whatever. So I just sort of let it South sit there for a while. But then I think it was around around it was December. So it was just maybe just before my birthday, or maybe even on my birthday, I decided kind of impulsively, like, you know what? I wrote this book, I think it’s a cool story. I’m just going to share it and just kind of rip off the band aid and just put it out there and see what happens. So I decided to do it in like the most efficient way possible, which was basically, I went file, save as PDF. And then I uploaded the PDF to my website. And then I sent an email to my newsletter. And I basically just said, like, surprise, I wrote a novel, you can have it for free. Here it is. That was basically my whole book launch. I love it. And, and again, I gave it away for free, mainly because I worried it wasn’t good. And I felt like if I give it away for free, then no one can be mad at me if it sucks. That was that was my feeling. And and I won’t go into the whole story because we could spend another two hours talking about this. But the short version of what happened next is that so many things happened next, I started getting emails back from people who said, I love this story. Or this really inspired me to look at my day differently or an email from a woman who said your story inspired me to like take a day off work and take my husband and spend a day at the beach just being together. And so like little by little by little by little I started to get reactions to the story and I started to feel like oh If it’s working, you know, like, I made something that is having, like, yeah, that’s what I wanted. And then the most magical thing happened, which was, somebody downloaded that free version of the book. And they really enjoyed it. And they passed it on to a friend of theirs. And they enjoyed it. And they passed along to their brother, who was a TV producer for the CW Network, and he liked it. And he considered like, maybe I want to adopt this into a TV show. But he kind of felt like I don’t know if I’m quite the right producer for it. So then he passed it along to a woman, a colleague of his and he said, I think you’ll really like the story. And then she read it. And then she emailed me out of the blue one day and said, You know, I’m, I’m a screenwriter, and you know, indie film, TV producer, and I’m interested in adapting your novel into screenplay. And when I got that email, my first reaction was, I thought it was a spam email, I thought it was like, I thought, if I clicked it, like a virus was going to be downloaded on my computer, because I couldn’t believe it. And, but it turned out to be real. And she, we actually just finished working on the pilot episode A few days ago, and we’re going to be pitching it to Netflix and
Alex Beadon 56:19
Hulu, and my exciting. Yeah, and like, you know,
Alexandra Franzen 56:23
who knows if anything will happen with it. But it’s very exciting. That’s
Alex Beadon 56:28
amazing. Like, I wish I could see my face this entire time, like my jaw is just dropped. That’s such a beautiful story.
Alexandra Franzen 56:37
It’s so cool. And so then after that happened with her, that was kind of like the final shove that I needed, I guess, like, all right, you know, this, maybe this book doesn’t completely suck, and maybe, like, actually make an effort to get it out into the world in a slightly bigger way. So then I emailed my editor at my publisher, and I, the publisher that I’m currently signed with, they only do nonfiction books. So they don’t do fiction. They don’t do poetry, they only do nonfiction. But I said to my editor, like, hey, you know, I have kind of a big favor to ask. She’s a woman, she’s been in the publishing industry for 25 years, she’s very well connected. She’s really kind. So I asked her, if you just if you happen to know, anyone who is a fiction literary agent, or maybe a contact at a fiction publishing house, have this little project. And if you could maybe make an introduction for me, I would be so so so, so grateful. And so I sent her that email. And it was one of those emails where like, I agonized over it for like, four days, and like, was so scared to send it because I, you know, we get so weird about asking for favors sometimes. And it was just like, but I finally sent it. And she wrote back, and she said, Alex, like, the timing of this is so serendipitous, and so weird, because I just got out of a meeting with everyone here at the publishing company. And we’ve decided that we are going to start a fiction imprint, we’re starting a fiction development. Wow. And she was like, so send me your manuscript, you know, maybe we want to publish it. And I was like, Whoa,
Alex Beadon 58:23
it was so insane. Crazy. So I
Alexandra Franzen 58:27
was like, okay, so and that’s what ended up happening is that my, my current publisher is releasing. So this is the end my novel as as one of the very first books in their new fiction division. So the journey of going from PDF that I self published and released, all the way to the hardcover version that’s coming out soon. It was like, a two year journey with so many weird twists and turns and surprises along the way. But for me, like the the big takeaway that I’ve taken from this experience, is that even if you’re scared, and even if you’re not sure, if it’s good, and even if you feel like I’m not ready, or this project isn’t perfect yet, just put it out there, put it out in the world, in some way or another, even if it’s in a very small way, like just releasing it to your clients or your friends or to a small circle, because it’s like, once you toss that pebble in the water, it starts a ripple effect. And you never know where that ripple might lead. And so you just got to toss the pebble in the water. Right?
Alex Beadon 59:47
Beautiful. I just, I asked you that question. I was not expecting such a beautiful answer. That’s incredible. So thank you so much for sharing that with us.
Alexandra Franzen 59:57
Thanks. Yeah, it’s a crazy story.
Alex Beadon 59:59
Read the story. And it’s only the beginning. So I’m so excited to see where it goes. I’m so excited to finish reading the book this weekend. And for everyone who’s listening, you can, can you tell everyone where they can find the book?
Alexandra Franzen 1:00:11
Yeah, so it’s called. So this is the end a love story. And it’s on all the usual places. It’s on amazon.com, Barnes and Noble indiebound books million, it will be at bookstores. So you know, check your local bookstore, see if they have it. If they don’t have it, you can probably ask them to order it for you. And it’s available in hardcover and in Kindle. And I hope you like it. If you don’t like it, maybe don’t write a horrible review on Amazon. Keep your thoughts to yourself. That would be great.
Alex Beadon 1:00:50
Okay, perfect. So that’s actually the best place for me too. Come on in with my wrap up questions. So I asked these questions to everyone at the very end of all of my episodes. So the first one is, what is one thing you do that has been a non negotiable in the success of your business,
Alexandra Franzen 1:01:10
doing a good job for my clients so that they want to hire me again, and or talk about me to other people
Alex Beadon 1:01:19
share a mindset shift that has made the biggest difference in your life as an entrepreneur?
Alexandra Franzen 1:01:25
Oh, I would say today is not over yet. Today is not over yet is my personal mantra. And when you’re having one of those days where like nothing’s quite going right, and you’re not feeling productive, and you feel a little distracted. And suddenly, it’s 8pm. And you haven’t done anything productive. You can say to yourself, today is not over yet. And then try to finish the day, on a positive strong note. There’s always a way to do that.
Alex Beadon 1:01:53
I love that. And you know, what’s so funny is that as I was reading your book, that was the last line that I read, right before our nine. So that’s I just love that so much. As soon as I read. I was like, this is like her. She says this all the time. I love it. It fits in so beautifully. It’s perfect. Okay, the book that changed my life was
Alexandra Franzen 1:02:15
I would say die empty by Todd Henry. It’s a book. Have you read that one? No, I haven’t read it. Oh my gosh, it’s so good. It made me sob I was reading it on an airplane and crying like a crazy person. And it’s, it’s a really simple premise, the whole premise of the book is that we’re all born with a limited amount of time here on Earth. And unfortunately, most people die with their greatest work still inside of them, they never get it out. They never make the time to write the book or launch the business or do the art project or travel to Thailand or whatever it is like they they die with their best stuff still inside of them. And so in this book, he urges you to die, empty, empty the tank, get it all out. While you can.
Alex Beadon 1:03:10
I clearly have to read that book. Okay, so the next one is the world would be a better place. If more people knew
Alexandra Franzen 1:03:19
that when you die, no one will care about emails.
Alex Beadon 1:03:25
Very true. And then lastly, this is one of my favorite things. I’m really curious what yours is going to be I asked every guest to challenge our audience to do one thing this week. So what is it that you would love to challenge our audience to do this week?
Alexandra Franzen 1:03:44
I would say really sit with the question of if, if I had 24 hours to live, what would I want to do with my time? And think about that question, maybe even write down your answer. And then whatever your answer is, try to live to the best of your abilities. More like that.
Alex Beadon 1:04:07
And then of course, I have to add one extra question, because you just said that I’m curious how you would spend your last 24 hours,
Alexandra Franzen 1:04:17
I would absolutely go to the beach, I would submerge myself in the ocean. I would spend time in nature. I would spend time with my family and friends. I would probably eat a bacon cheeseburger. And I would probably write a letter to say goodbye to the people that I love and to tell them how grateful that I am to have known them in this life. And I would send that letter to them so that they have a little piece of me after I’m gone and that there’s a little echo left when I disappear.
Alex Beadon 1:04:58
That’s so beautiful. Thank you so so much for coming onto the show today you this whole conversation for me has just been so wonderful so present so just nourishing so thank you so much. I’m sure everyone listening feels the exact same way.
Alexandra Franzen 1:05:13
This has been so much fun Alex thank you for having me on the show I really really love talking to you and Alex’s are awesome
Alex Beadon 1:05:25
thank you so much for tuning into the on purpose podcast and I really hope that you had as much of a blast as we did. If you liked what you heard and want even more make sure you leave a review because it really helps support what I do here on the podcast. All you have to do is search the podcast app for the on purpose podcast, select it then scroll down until you see write a review and then type away at the beginning of the next episode. I will be picking one review one special review My favorite review of the week and I will be reading it out for all of you guys so you definitely don’t want to miss out on that. I hope you really enjoy your week and I will see you guys again next time stay on purpose.