It's December already, and we're finishing up the year with a string of “Where are they now?” episodes to inspire you and get you excited for 2022. These are episodes where we bring back people who I've coached on the show before to talk about where they're at now. And what's really cool about all of these episodes is we see big transformations happen in very little time.
Today we're talking with Lela Burris, who is a professional organizer turned blogger. The last time we chatted with Lela, about a year ago in episode 1142, she was having issues related to what she should focus on with her brand. Should she focus on her audience of moms on her blog? Or should she continue her professional work, going into people's homes and helping them organize?
We unpacked all that in our first conversation. Since then, Lela has made some big, clear decisions—and some amazing things have happened for her, which is what we'll be talking about today.
Audio: Ask Pat. AskPat.com. Dot com. Ask Pat. Dot com.
Pat Flynn: What's up, everybody? Pat Flynn here and welcome to episode 1,198. We're just a few episodes away from 1,200 episodes of Ask Pat, which is pretty insane. And to finish off the year strong here, we're in 2021 right now, coming into 2022. It's December and we're finishing up with a string of more Where-Are-They-Now episodes to inspire you, to get you going, to get you excited for the upcoming year. And what's really cool about all of these episodes is we see the transformation almost happen in real time. We've once interviewed these people and we're bringing them back on. I once coached these people and we're bringing them back on to talk about where they're at now. And today we're talking with Lela Burris. She is a professional organizer.
However, in the last episode that we chatted with her at, that was episode 1,142, I believe, she was having some trouble. She was having some identity issues with relation to, well, what should she focus on with her brand? Should she focus on her audience of moms on her blog? Or should she continue her professional work and going into people's homes and helping them organize? And we really unpacked that. And she's made some very big decisions, very clear-cut decisions. And some amazing things that have happened since then, we'll be talking about right now. So here she is, Lela Burris. You can find her at Lela Burris, that's L-E-L-A-B-U-R-R-I-S.com and on all the socials. And I hope you enjoy this episode. It's really, really fun.
Lela, welcome back to Ask Pat. Thanks for joining us today for a little update for everybody. How are you?
Lela Burris: I'm good. Thank you for having me.
Pat Flynn: Now, I'm remembering our last conversation. And for those of you listening, this was episode 1,142. I remember the conversation, because you are a professional organizer. And we were trying to balance a lot of potential directions that you could go. Can you remember sort of the big decisions that you had to make the last time we chatted?
Lela Burris: I actually had to make a pretty big decision, because I was balancing basically, two personalities, where on one end I was the professional organizer. And on the other end, I was just this real-life mom and working woman that was trying to teach other people, just like me, how to organize their house realistically. Once we got off our call, I felt so much more clear on what I was really doing and who I was really here for. And that feeling of trying to show that I'm a professional just kind of went out the window. And I was able to really focus in on what I'm really here to do and who I'm really here for. And from there, it just, all the feeling of me trying to appeal to everyone and prove myself just completely went out the window.
Pat Flynn: That's so great. I mean, tell me what it felt like to have that weight lifted off your shoulder and kind of lean into more of really what seems would let you up more.
Lela Burris: I'm trying to figure out a way to describe it for myself. I would get messages from people all the time and they're like, "It is such a fresh breath of air to see someone who's just like me. And your house isn't perfect. And the way that you do things, doesn't look like a magazine, but it makes sense." And so just getting that validation from others, that what I'm doing is helpful, I think, that was what really resonated with me the most.
Pat Flynn: That's so great. The hard thing is when you have something that is working and it's maybe not all of you, but it is working, it's hard to let go of that, to go into something more that, maybe you're a little bit scared. And, of course, more of you is also scared, because it's just, it's the internet and being vulnerable sometimes is a little bit scary. So tell me what you did specifically after that conversation to make change. What did you do with the professional stuff? Or, what were the changes that you actually executed?
Lela Burris: The first thing I did was I was phasing out of going in home with clients and I was still working virtual with some of the clients. And after our conversation, I really shifted it to more of a service teaching-based type business. And so eventually, quickly after that, I dropped any new clients for virtual also. And so all of the professional organizing just, I stopped it all. And one thing I didn't mention when we were talking was I actually had a full-time job, too. So I had a 9 to 5 day job.
Pat Flynn: Wait! What?
Lela Burris: Yeah. I was working a 9 to 5 job. I was running my organizing business, and I had the blog. And soon after we talked, actually, I put more focus into the blog, because I wasn't working with clients anymore. And in January I was able to leave the full-time job, too. So I was crosstalk solely.
Pat Flynn: Wow! Congratulations. That's incredible.
Lela Burris: Thank you. It's been a bit of a whirlwind to go from three jobs to one.
Pat Flynn: Wow. So what has that now enabled you to do? You've let go of the in-person stuff and even the virtual stuff. First of all, side note, do you miss any of that?
Lela Burris: I don't think so. No. I think that I'm able to connect with so many people now and I'm able to help so many people at once, when before, it was just one person at a time. And now I can reach so many and I can help so many all at one time. And I don't think that I would trade that.
Pat Flynn: And so you let go of those things, which I'm sure bought you some time. You've obviously let go of your 9 to 5. Congrats, again. That's huge. And you've gotten a lot more time back from that. Tell us about your time now. What are you doing? What is life like for you now that you are a full-time blogger and helping people on the internet with organization?
Lela Burris: I feel like I work more now than I did when I was doing all of those things at once, because now I feel that constant pressure that I've still got to put everything on the blog. And I've also got to keep up with social media. And I've got to show up in all these places. And you and I talked about launching a course. I did that. So I've actually launched the course twice since we talked. I've been in talks with some producers about a TV show. I've been in a few magazines. Yeah.
Pat Flynn: Gee whiz. So wow. That's pretty cool. crosstalk What incredible opportunities. That's amazing. So even though you're working harder, I think that's a result of the fact that there are more opportunities now that are showing up at your doorstep. And I think that's really amazing that you've now given yourself the opportunity to have these opportunities. And the more you lean into something, of course, the more you become known for it, the more people start talking about it, because the truth is, and I've said this before, if you are dividing your industry across all these different spaces, you're not fully showing up anywhere.
And as a result of that, online especially, we want to follow people who are all in on their thing often. And if they're not showing up a hundred percent, why would we follow them? So here you are now showing up. And a TV show now and the courses, tell me about the course launch. How did that go? And was that difficult for you?
Lela Burris: Yes, it was very difficult. I think the actual lead up to the launch was a lot harder than the launch period. Creating the course, that was easy. And after the course launch was over and connecting with the students, that was easy, too. But the launch was exhausting. And we just finished the second launch. And I feel like the second one was even more stressful than the first one. I don't know if I want to stick with making courses. It just seems like a lot of work. But I'm really glad that I did it.
Pat Flynn: Yeah. And you have students going into those courses? People are actually making purchases?
Lela Burris: Yes. Yes. I think I doubled, this time, what I had come in last time. So the course is going well.
Pat Flynn: Wow. Good for you. Good for you. It is a lot of work, especially when you go through an open, close, open, close sort of pattern. I am actually recalling the second launch that I had. And it did feel harder, only because we knew what we could do better and we wanted to put more into it. And that's, I think, something that can continue to happen and it can continue to get harder. Or, you build your system and you have your sort of launch SOP, or standard operating procedure. So that the third time now, now that you've created these lanes for yourself within these launches, you can now kind of rinse and repeat. And I found that because we do open and close launch sequences as well, when it got to the fourth or fifth time doing it, which was after a couple years, it started to calm down. It started to become a lot easier. So all that to say, it can get easier for you over time.
The second thing that I want to offer is that potentially, if you've nailed down these systems, it could actually become evergreen. Depending on how your funnels are laid out, you can bring people into your ecosystem through your blog, which you're still keeping up with, which is great. And people will join an email list. And in that email list, then you work on, again, front loading that investment of time and effort up front to build a way to provide value through an email list and then lead people into a course offering from there so that you actually don't have to continually launch it anymore. It just becomes something that is sort of underlying within your ecosystem or potentially, always available. And then you can take that energy elsewhere.
The truth is, it's just great that you're trying it, because that's how you figure out whether or not it works for you or not. What's coming next for you? What are some maybe new things that are now available to you that you're thinking about doing as a result of the decisions you've made?
Lela Burris: So right now I've got a couple of big brand collaborations that I'm working on. And those are all multiple-month projects and ambassadorships. And so I've got a lot of brand things. And so at this point, I can't really take on anything myself that I can create. Once all those are out of the way, I would love to maybe consider writing a book. I like the book option a little more than an eCourse, and I feel like I can pack in better information that way that is a little more digestible, something that people can flip back through and read, because there's so many organizing books out there, but none of them are the same style that I teach. So I feel like I can fill that gap.
Pat Flynn: I love that. I'm remembering, and I don't know if you have this already, but my friend and mentor, Michael Hyatt, he wrote a little manifesto. It was just a few pages within a PDF file that was something that was used as a lead magnet for people to download and kind of understand how he feels about leadership and all this kind of stuff. Well, that became so popular, number one, it generated a lot of emails, number one. But number two, that then got converted into a full book. And that was cool, because it was already proven at that point. And so that could be an interesting thing that you could do when you have the time to do it is to create sort of a, not a mini version of the book, but just maybe a manifesto, if you will, that then could validate whether or not this book idea is actually worth doing, because a book is even harder than a course. I'm not going to lie. But it is something that can last forever.
I still get sales from my books that I've written back in 2013 and 2015 and more recently, 2019 with Superfans. And it's awesome because that then now will open up even more opportunities for you. I'm curious if getting on stage to talk about these things is potentially in your future, but it seems to be that you have a great understanding of where you could potentially go with this. I'm curious about the brand deals. A lot of people don't know exactly what that looks like. Can you paint us a picture for, and you don't have to get specific with numbers or anything, but there's another company out there. They want to work with you. What, what does that look like, exactly? What is your obligation to them? And what does that deal look like? How long does it go for?
Lela Burris: So it really just depends on which brand you're working with as a blogger. We're basically, just a marketing company where we make advertisements based on what their needs are. So that could be an Instagram post and stories, or it could be a full-on blog tutorial explaining how to use the product. And so one of the companies that I'm working with is for a full bathroom renovation, and then another company is a long-term, where I'm using their tools. So it really just depends on what their needs are. But when you work with brands, it's mostly, you're taking photos, you're using the product, you're doing videos. You are showing how to use the product without the company having to sell it.
When I do them, I'm not technically selling it, because I don't want to come off as this salesy person that works for this company. I'm solely just a person that uses the product and I'm showing you how and why I like it. And the companies pay you for that.
Pat Flynn: Now, in my experience, in some capacity a lot of these companies could potentially be quite demanding, like please do it this way and please do it that way. And for me, I always get rubbed the wrong way a little bit, because it's like, "Well, I'm the creative. This is my website. I'll do my best to promote or talk about this thing." Have you run into any issues with any brands that you've collaborated within the past as far as giving you the freedom and maybe they're asking for too much from you, have you ever experienced that?
Lela Burris: I have had one incident with a brand that was very particular on what they wanted, and I knew how my type of content would perform. And I did not know how their type of content would perform, especially since my audience isn't used to it. And so I explained to them, "This is how I do things, because it works. I'm happy to do your way, but I can't guarantee the same results as if I had done it the way that my audience usually is used to seeing."
Pat Flynn: So what did they say?
Lela Burris: I did it their way. It did not work out at all. And they came back and they said, "Okay, we want to try this again. We'll pay the same amount. We want to do the exact same campaign again, but we want to try it your way." And my way exceeded quite a bit. And I hope that that taught them a little bit, because they were so, so demanding in the beginning. But we have it worked into our contract. And it's something that I add to a contract no matter if I create the contract or if the brand does. And I have to have that creative freedom, because if my audience can even sense for one second that it's not my voice or my opinions, then it's a complete flop.
Pat Flynn: Yeah. I hear you on that one, for sure. It reminds me of a story that a friend of mine, her name is Chalene Johnson, she told a story on stage, where she used to be in fitness. Her fitness program is called PiYo, P-I-Y-O, like Pilates, yoga. I think is what the word is. Giant company worked with her to promote PiYo. And they staged this thing and had all these fake things happening. And she just knew it wasn't really in her. It just didn't feel right to her, but she went along with it anyway. And it completely underperformed, this infomercial that she did.
And then she went back to them and she said, "You know what? Let me do it my way. I promise you it's going to work better." And they, being a big company, there was a lot of red tape and things, but they eventually let her do it her way. And if you've ever seen PiYo infomercial with Chalene Johnson, it's filmed on her phone, in her house. You see her dog walking in the background. And she's just real with you at that point. And she had mentioned that this commercial, which was just filmed in her house with her phone, and she was just real, she got to say what she knew she could say to help promote this program. I don't remember the number, but it 10X or a hundred X outperformed the super professional one that had all these requirements based on data and all this stuff from before. And it's just the same exact story I hear over, and over, and over again.
And I think this just speaks to being who you are and being real, which takes us back to our initial conversation in episode 1,142, which was you are leaning more into who you are. And I love that. I mean, I want you to reflect on just the journey that you've had. And, I mean, look at where you are now. I hope you feel proud of yourself for the decisions you've made and the hard decisions to let go of some stuff to get to where you're at today. Just I can see it from my side. I just, I hope you see it, too, because sometimes we don't see it within ourselves sometimes.
Lela Burris: Yeah. My husband likes to stop me when I'm in the midst of a full-on freak out, because I've got a hundred things going on. And he's just like, "Hey, remember where you were five years ago working at the dining room table." And I'm like, "Okay, I got it."
Pat Flynn: So it seems now, and this is a very common thing too, when you start to experience some success, and you start to hone in on your craft a little bit more, and who you are, and your voicing, that things within that realm start to pile up, for sure. Prioritization becomes really important, having a clear set of essentially, filters or rules for what to say yes to and what to say no to. What do you think your biggest struggles are right now? I might be able to help you, or at least discuss some of these things with you before we finish up here with regards to where you're at now.
Lela Burris: I think my biggest struggle now is really just keeping up. I've got the blog content that I put out that I've been putting out for the last eight years. I've got Instagram and TikTok videos of Instagram stories, Pinterest pins. It's all these things. And I know I need a YouTube channel and I still haven't made it there. It's just, I have an assistant. And I have people who help me. But there's so many things with me being the face and the brand that I have to do. And it's like, when I am doing all of these things, trying to do them all and trying to prioritize and then still make time for regular content, how do you make more hours happen in the day?
Pat Flynn: This is the million dollar question. And there are ways to do this, efficiencies and optimization of systems, for sure. Many people really start to get obsessed with that once they start to see how much time they can get back with it. And I did. I'm not a super time, or I wasn't before. I kind of just kind of did what I had to do when I had to do it for a while. And then once I started to realize that a little bit of planning up front and a little bit of saying yes to this and no to this upfront helped me really begin to get some hours back. And that included just doing things twice as fast, because it was a lot easier for me after understanding really what worked and what didn't, to hiring a team and getting hours back that way.
That was hard for me to do initially. And I'm glad to see that you already have an assistant helping you, because in many cases, a lot of people are afraid to invest in team, because it's like, "Oh, I'm spending money on something that I could yeah, potentially do myself. And I could do it very well." But there are only so many hours in the day, like we're talking about and you start to realize that, wow, there's other people out there who, not just do things that you can do, but can oftentimes do things better and even faster. And then when you find people that also root for your audience, like you do, it just becomes that much more love given to your audience in that way. And I think that's a great potential maybe north star to think about for you.
Another thing is, again, knowing what to say no to. That's the hardest thing to do. So for example, and I'm not saying this is the answer, but you'd mentioned, "Oh, well, and I don't even have time for you YouTube right now." What if you just said no to YouTube for now and was just okay with that? And again, a little bit of weight lifted off your shoulder, a little bit of mind space now open up to go into some of the stuff that you already have going on. I'm not saying yes or no to that for you. I'm just saying that's a thought experiment that you could play with.
And the last thing is the idea of batch processing. This is something that allows me to get more hours it seems. So instead of what I used to do, which was create a podcast episode once a week for the next week, where, when I finished a podcast episode, it was like, "Okay, that one's done. Let's move on to the next one now for next week." It was Tuesday, which is my recording day. And it still is. Today is Tuesday, by the way, for those of you listening. Tuesday is the day that I just hunkering down and recording podcasts. And I can get through an entire month's worth of episodes in one day, because I have just scheduled it that way, which opens up the rest of my month, for example.
So just some things to think about, Lela, as you continue to lean into your brand a little bit more. This is cool, because now the challenge is, which direction do I go? Not, is this going to work?
Lela Burris: Right. Yeah, I think with that, the batch processing has really helped a lot as far as creating the blog posts and doing small videos. So much of my content is tutorial-based and project-based and just finding a way to group all those together, I'm already thinking of ways that I can batch similar tutorials and similar projects into the same day. So that's really helpful.
Pat Flynn: I know a lot of people who are not organizers, but they have YouTube channels that are more based on building or wood shop and things like that. And what they'll do is when they're filming, they'll film a project, a big project. But within that big project, there's a lot of smaller little pieces of content that could come out. For example, a person might be building a bench or something. And then within that, they're going to, while gluing the bench together, they're actually filming a video within that video that will be used as a separate video. So they do an entire tutorial on gluing. But it just happens to be a part of a larger project. And what's cool about that as far as YouTube for anybody on YouTube is that when you can show the connection between pieces of content like that, the algorithm will often kick in and they'll feed each other.
And the same thing can happen with blogs and with SEO, as well. So just something to think about. Again, a little bit more planning up front to go, "Okay, we're going to film this one large project." For example, maybe you end up filming an organization of an entire room in your house. But then there's another piece of content within that, which is specifically for the closet, and another one specifically for how do we organize the clothes in my drawer. So you can actually, while doing this one big thing, create a lot of smaller, but still really useful, pieces of content within it.
Lela Burris: Oh, yeah. That's super smart. Thank you.
Pat Flynn: Yeah. You're welcome. So Lela, this has been great. Thank you for giving us an update. And it's just super cool to see you take massive action and make some really big decisions as you move forward. And I just want to say, I'm very proud of you and I'm stoked for what's coming. If you could tell us all where we can go to find your website and your blog, I think a lot of people will be interested in that, because I know a lot of us definitely need help with organization. And I know you can help us with that.
Lela Burris: Awesome. It is LelaBurris.com and @LelaBurris on both Instagram and TikTok.
Pat Flynn: It's as simple as that. So L-E-L-A-B-U-R-R-I-S.com and Instagram and TikTok and all those places, too. So Lela, well done and we'll chat again soon.
Lela Burris: Awesome. Thank you.
Pat Flynn: Thank you. All right. I hope you enjoyed that call, that catch-up with Lela Burris. Again, you could find her @LelaBurris.com and all the socials. And I can't say it enough to Lela, especially, I'm so proud of you. Way to take action. Way to make very tough decisions, in fact. We talked about that the last time you were on the show. If you want to listen back, you go back into time, listen to episode 1,142, almost 60 episodes ago, so about a year ago. Well done on your progress.
I hope this is inspirational to you, the listener, and just shows you what happens when you take action and you follow your gut. And I always knew, even when we last chatted, that Lela, her gut wanted to go down this direction, but it's really hard to let go of things sometimes. And we're going to talk more about letting go next week with somebody who's come on, who was once on the show before, who's made a massive transformation, a massive transformation. I cannot wait for you to hear it. Make sure you subscribe so you don't miss it. And we'll talk with this person next week.
Until then, keep up the good work, everybody. Keep taking action. And here we are coming into the end of the year. Let's get inspired, but most of all, let's take action. Thank you so much. I appreciate you. And I'll see you in the next episode. Peace.
Thanks for listening to Ask Pat at AskPat.com. I'm your host, Pat Flynn. Our senior producer is Sara Jane Hess. Our series producer is David Grabowski. And our executive producer is Matt Gartland. Sound editing by Duncan Brown. Ask Pat is a production of SPI Media. We'll catch you in the next session.