In 2013, I heard client attraction specialist Fabienne Frederickson talk about determining your “Quadrants of Brilliance”. It’s a thought-provoking and highly revealing exercise that requires some reflection about those things in your business that you like and excel at doing versus things that you don’t enjoy and/or don’t do too well.
Basically, you divide a landscape sheet of paper into 4 boxes by drawing 2 perpendicular lines in the center of the sheet. You fill in each section with your assessment of how well you do the tasks involved with your business.
As you can see in this video, she explains that your goal is to focus your time and energy in those areas that make money for your business and delegate the rest.
Here are some of my notes about doing this analysis:
- If you sharpen the saw and strengthen the strengths, you become untouchable.
- Stop trying to strengthen your weaknesses. Focus only on your unique brilliance.
- The uniquely brilliant stuff comes naturally, and you could do it all day for free.
- The “really good at” quadrant are things that if you had to do them 2 days in a row, you’d be resentful. You get tired by the end of the day, even though people recognize you for being good at these tasks. You just don’t have that much passion for them.
- You can only be great at 4-5 things in your business, and 80% of your revenue comes from your quadrant of unique brilliance.
- If you do the things in your 2 bottom quadrants, you’re not making any money. Delegating them creates more time for you to do the things where you have unique brilliance.
I encourage you to do this exercise to determine — and capitalize on — your areas of unique brilliance.
I was thinking about this activity and its tremendous positive effect on my business after reading several of Karen Souer’s excellent articles in her series about the 5Ws of Outsourcing. Karen and I met in 2011 at Faffcon 2 here in Atlanta. She was starting a new business as a virtual assistant to voice talents. We had a wonderful conversation, and I was impressed with her sharp mind, deep listening skills, and solution-driven nature. It’s no surprise to me that she is in demand as an audiobook editor.
After doing the Quadrants of Brilliance exercise, I made some major changes in my business plan. One of the biggest changes was outsourcing tasks whenever possible. I suggested to Karen that it might help other narrators if we each wrote about how a narrator can use outsourcing to strengthen one’s business. Karen’s article gives you the perspective from the contract freelancer.
I rankled at using Fabienne’s labels of “just okay” and “really bad” to describe my lower 2 quadrants. In fact, I wrote beside one of my tasks that I listed in the “really bad” quadrant: I’m good at it but have no desire to do it.
That sentence is the key! Even if you are good at doing something, is it the best use of your time to actually DO it? Will it make money for you? Or — and this scenario happens all too frequently — will it waste time that you could have spent in an income-producing endeavor?
I didn’t immediately outsource anything. Instead, I started keeping notes in Evernote about things I do, as well as things I wanted to do but never seemed to get to. Since I’m notorious for planning too many projects in the time allowed, I also documented how long it took me to do each activity.
Audiobook Editing and Proof Listening
It was immediately evident to me that audiobook editing was the first and most necessary task to delegate. I realized that in the time it took me to edit an audiobook, I could’ve narrated another one. No one pays me to edit. They pay me to narrate.
One of my pet peeves as an audiobook listener is mouth noise, particularly clicks. Since I am meticulous about removing those clicks, it was important for me to find an editor who also made it their mission to eliminate them.
I contacted several people and asked them to edit a 5-minute selection. In addition to the click removal, I listened for how they adjusted the pacing. If all of the spaces between sentences are the same length, it sounds robotic and loses any dramatic pauses I had intended in the read. I also paid attention to how they mastered it to assure that the finished product sounded really good to me.
I advise you to only hire audio editors who are experienced with audiobooks, which have their own sonic demands. I’ve found that editors who are only experienced with music may do too much or too little processing on your voice.
Even if my book is under a royalty share contract, I still hand off the editing and proofing to someone else. Yes, doing so puts me temporarily in the red, but the value is in the time I free up and the improved quality in my finished product. If you’re unsure how you could afford a freelancer for any outsourced assignment, this article will help you figure it out.
When I edited my audiobooks, I also proof-listened to assure word-for-word accuracy with the text. It’s really better if another person than the narrator performs that task. If you made a mistake in narrating, you have a good chance of missing the same mistake when you edit your own work.
If you’re looking for an experienced audiobook editor and/or proofer, you’ll find plenty of qualified candidates on this spreadsheet.
Members of the Audio Publishers Association (APA) who are considering outsourcing their post-production could attend the webinar on 27 April on this very topic. Details and registration are on the APA’s home page.
Administrative and Promotional Duties
Once I established a routine with an editor, the next big group of items prime for delegation centered around administrative and promotional duties. I wanted help in publicizing my audiobooks, starting and maintaining a newsletter, finding and fixing bad links and formatting on my blog caused by 2 conversions, etc.
I wrote this Virtual Assistant Statement of Work and posted a note in my neighborhood email list with the hope of attracting a college student or stay-at-home mom to work with me for $15/hour. I thought it would be helpful for my assistant to be local so I could show them my processes in person rather than explaining everything on Skype. I received several responses from great candidates. I held interviews using these questions:
- Have you done any research about my business? Do you listen to audiobooks?
- Tell me about your current job, school, and other commitments.
- How do you rate your proficiency level with Word and Excel?
- What other software do you know well?
- How do you prioritize and schedule your work?
- Why do you want this job?
- What kind of turn-around time could I expect?
- Are you willing to sign a non-disclosure/non-competition agreement?
- What payment forms do you accept? (PayPal, check)
- How often do you expect to be paid?
- What questions do you have for me?
Although I was thrilled with the person I hired, our association was short-lived due to a change in her schedule. However, her departure turned out to be a blessing for me because my husband Drew volunteered to fulfill my audiobook giveaways and do all of the maintenance required on my web site! Sometimes a family member may be willing, able, and available to help you if you ask them.
With him taking over those items, I turned my attention to some one-of activities. For instance, I wanted to transcribe my webinar on audio rights and some interviews I’ve done so that I could re-purpose content into another form. I used to be a much faster typist and even worked as a transcriptionist in my younger years. However, I soon found that it would take me HOURS to transcribe the 90-minute webinar.
Typing is definitely in my bottom right quadrant, so it was an easy decision to hire someone else to do that job! I posted an job listing on Upwork.com and was very pleased with the ease of use of the site and quality of applicants. Upwork has certification tests in various categories, including spelling and grammar. The freelancers on the site take the tests, and the scores become part of their profile, which aids in the selection process.
As you can tell from these examples, I enlist aid as much as possible in order to spend more time in my quadrant of brilliance! Do you outsource any parts of your business? Please leave your comments and questions on the blog.