Writing Journal 20: Planning Everything

Writing Journal 20: Planning Everything

My writing journal for Monday, September 1, 2014. You can find all the writing journal entries here.

An early start, with fiction and nonfiction. Managed 2,000 words on the novella (it’s steaming right along), and 1,500 on the nonfiction book.

Honey’s breakfast, and email. Then my breakfast, while I read over a couple of short stories from students, and make notes, for the students, and for Julia.

Next: planning.

Getting Things Done — you need a system

It’s the first day of the month, so I need to spend time planning. As I’ve mentioned, I use a modified form of the Getting Things Done system.

In GTD terms, Evernote is my Inbox. Everything gets dumped into Evernote. I sort it out at the end of the day, when I do my daily review and word counts.

Projects and tasks get dumped into OmniFocus and Things. Why two task managers? Honestly, I have no idea. I like OmniFocus because of the Forecast views, which Things doesn’t have. I use Things as an extension of Evernote, even though I use Reminders in notebooks in Evernote too.

And I use lots of paper… I have a large Behance Action book which I use with Circa paper, several other paper notebooks both small and large, AND I use index cards.

I think on paper; I remember something when I write it by hand. If I type it, I tend to forget. I tend to doodle a lot, too, when I’m working things out. So paper wins. :-)

Every page of paper gets snapped with Evernote’s camera. Most of these images — cluster diagrams, notes on a scene, ideas which crop up when I’m working on something else — are deleted in my weekly reviews. However, some I keep.

For example, I had a “warning” dream last week, and I’ll keep the notes I made on that. I have these kinds of dreams occasionally. The first time I had one was around a year BEFORE my life went to total cr*p. In the dream, I was in a car, driving down a very steep, narrow and curving road. I knew the road well. Then the brakes failed. This dream recurred for months. Did I pay attention to what was happening in my life? No, but I have ever since.

Whenever I get one of these kinds of dreams these days, I start to pay close attention to what’s happening.

Apropos of dreams: if you don’t keep a dream journal for your writing, start to keep one. Your journal can be a huge source of inspiration.

Monthly and weekly goals — create them

The first day of the month’s an excellent time to plan. You’ve got a whole month ahead of you — four weeks. What can you accomplish in those weeks? What would you like your life to be like a month from now?

I start my monthly planning session by creating some goals for the month. I write some notes about upcoming projects and tasks. Then I look back over the past month, and try to see what I could do better as well as what I’ve accomplished. We can always do better. :-)

Next, I work out what I need to do this week, as far as client deadlines, and my own deadlines, are concerned.

With my planning done, I move on to current projects.

Two video scripts this week

I’ve got a couple of scripts to do so I create some cluster diagrams, and do some research, while keeping the clients’ calls to action in mind.

Writing tip: whenever you’re writing copy, keep your client’s goals in mind.

Lunchtime — I need to run some errands, and stop in at the library to return some books.

I spend a couple of hours at the library, because I always seem to get more done there. I do more work on the scripts.

Then I write 500 words of a Christmas short story. My goal is to create an ebook of 25 Christmas stories,  more or less as writing exercises. I love Amazon. What’s not to like about putting your writing exercises online and selling them? ;-)

Back to the office to more student and client email. I make some notes so so that Julia can send out responses.

Next, the client blogging I didn’t get to yesterday. I create several more draft posts. I finish two more, and schedule them for publishing. I shoot off more messages to remind clients to send me images.

Done for the day. Time for the daily review, and word count.

, and on Twitter: @angee.

You can find Angela on Pinterest, and on YouTube, too.

When Your Goals Scare You: Get Clear and Write

When Your Goals Scare You: Get Clear and Write

Do your goals scare you? It might be because they’re not clear enough. For example, a writer we’ll call Leonie signed up for coaching. Her goal was “to write a book.”

Writing a book’s a fair enough goal, but after Leonie completed her initial questionnaire, which we send out to all personal coaching students, and we chatted, she discovered that she wanted to write this: a memoir of her arranged marriage.

When I heard “arranged marriage”, I thought whoa! Although it’s common enough in parts of the world, it’s not common in the western, developed world. I was thrilled to help Leonie with this project. She’s almost completed a first draft. It’s good. I suggested that Leone not only self-publish, and but also look for a literary agent. She’s well on the way to achieving her initial goal, because she took the time to get clear on what she really wanted.

Get Clear: Listen to Yourself.

We’ve got several coaching questionnaires we send out. They’re all short, with eight or fewer questions. A student can opt to answer as many questions as he wants – the questionnaires are for us, but most of all, they’re for the student. They help him to get clear on what he wants from his coaching.

Consider your goals. Why not create your own questionnaire, so that you can get clear on them? Tackle one goal at a time. You may well find that once you’ve answered a few of your own questions, your goal changes. It becomes more clear, and isn’t scary any more.

Are You Excited?

quote: fear or excitement?

If a goal scares you, allow yourself to sit with your feelings for a moment. Are you afraid, or excited? Sometimes excitement is scary. If your goal’s a big one, like writing a memoir was for Leonie, it can seem overwhelming too. Leone told herself she wanted to write a book for years. Getting coaching was the first step in achieving that goal.

All goals are achieved by taking one small step at a time. You can’t achieve them in any other way.

You Don’t Have to Achieve Your Goal in One Step. Take Baby Steps.

When Leonie settled on her memoir, we spent a few sessions talking about what she wanted to include in her book, and general planning. How would she fit writing into her life? We needed to take her daughter’s upcoming wedding into account, and Leonie’s work and other commitments.

We also needed to discuss what a memoir is. In basic terms: how long is a memoir? How many chapters? What’s the throughline (theme, if you like) of the book? Who are her readers?

By the time she was ready to write, Leonie couldn’t wait to get started. Her goal no longer frightened her: she knew exactly what she was doing. To achieve her goal, she just had to take baby steps.

When you get clear on a your goals, achieving them isn’t a struggle. It’s a process. You take baby steps, and before you know it, you’re well on the way to success.

, and on Twitter: @angee.

You can find Angela on Pinterest, too.

Content Marketing Power: 3 Winning Strategies For Content in 2014

Content Marketing Power: 3 Winning Strategies For Content in 2014

Content marketing is the new advertising. Businesses place content on their own websites and share it on social media. They may also commission “sponsored content”, which is posted on high-traffic websites.

Here’s why. A recent study found that the cost of customer acquisition via content was 25 per cent of the cost of acquisition via paid search. In addition, content offers longevity for advertising; paid advertising stops when payment stops.

If you’re already creating content, you know there are challenges. Not only do you need to make time for creation, or pay for it, you also need to manage all your new creative assets. You’re now a publisher, with all that that entails.

Let’s look at how you can succeed with this new form of advertising, without going crazy.

1. Create Short and Long Term Marketing Goals.

Before you create a plan for creation and delivery, consider your overall business goals, as well as both short and long term marketing goals. Your goals form the basis of your strategies for 2014. Those over-arching business goals are the foundation of all your efforts.

You also need goals for the venues you’re using. If you know that most of your customers use Facebook for example, and you create material for Facebook, create goals too. Then track those goals carefully. If you discover that your followers don’t convert, you’ll need to rethink that strategy.

2. Be Aware That Outreach and Distribution is as Important as Your Content.

You’ve created your information assets such as articles, presentations, images, and videos, and they’re wonderful. But how do you get attention? This is a huge challenge. Google’s cycle of updates meant that many websites lost rankings and traffic.

You get attention by doing outreach, to bloggers, news media, and other websites. A clever marketer said recently that “social media is the new SEO”, and that seems accurate. Build up your social media profiles, so that you have an audience which will appreciate your material, and link to you.

Build relationships, so you can alert your network of contacts when you publish new material. Ask them to share your material on their social media sites. Naturally, you’ll do the same for them

Become a Thought Leader: Write a Book.

Write a book? I’m sure you feel that you have enough to do, without going to those lengths. Consider that in 2014, the competition for attention will be even more intense.

A book gives you authority and builds your brand. It doesn’t matter what kind of business you’re in, few of your competitors will write a book, or will even consider it. You’ll stand out from the crowd.

You can write a book, or get a ghostwriter to write it for you, and have paperback copies for sale in bookstores, and online, within weeks of completing it. You can have digital copies in ebook stores with 24 hours of completing your book.

So, there you have it. Three tips which will help you to take the reins of content marketing in 2014 without going crazy.

 

, and on Twitter: @angee

write a book book coaching

10 Easy Ways to Get More out of Your Business Blog Today

cute cat
#Caturday star power

Want to get more out of your business blog? You can. Each of the tips below will take you less than ten minutes to implement. If your blog isn’t (yet) enhancing your bottom line, it soon will be.

1. Got goals? Set ONE goal for each blog post

Just as you need goals for your blog, you need a goal for each piece of content you create. Usually, when a blog languishes, it’s because there are no goals for the content.

When you create a blog post (article), create a goal.

It can be simple:

  • Explain how install batteries in Product X (to cut down on support requests);
  • Share a customer’s review (to show social proof, encourage sales);
  • Share five photos from last week’s launch party (fun, show we’re real people who are approachable).

Or complex:

  • Develop our brand;
  • Compete with Company B on _____ (whatever.)

Try this: create a blog post template, and right underneath the title, add “THIS POST’S GOAL IS: ____.”

2. Share: ensure that your content is sharable

Want to be found? Encourage your site’s visitors to share your content.

It’s easy with social media plugins. If you use a popular service like WordPress, you’ll find plugins galore. If you’re implementing your own blogging solution, visit the social media networks of which you’re a member, and get the code for their “share” buttons.

Try this: add share buttons to your blog.

3. Get content from important people in your industry

Contact thought leaders in your industry, and ask for an article for your blog. The worst they can say is “no”, right?

You’ll have the most success with this strategy if your thought leader is promoting a new book, or a speaking tour.

Try this: make a list of successful people who can inspire your customers. Approach one person a week, via phone or email.

4. Got a list? Get one, and make becoming a subscriber a no-brainer

In this blog post, I suggested that you stop giving your leads away:

I’ve been working with a couple of clients who are busily promoting Twitter and Facebook. That’s not a good strategy. That’s throwing your leads away.

I’ve been using aweber to manage my mailing lists for over a decade. Whatever mailing list manager you use, create your own list. Then make becoming a list subscriber a no-brainer.

Try this: create a “goodie” for your subscribers. A coupon code, or a downloadable item, is easy to implement in a few minutes.

5. Revamp older posts: add action items, and calls to action

We talked about goals, in our first tip. In addition to goals, add calls to action to your blog posts.

A call to action can be simple:

  • Ask a question, and then ask for responses in your comments;
  • Ask readers to share the post via one of your social media buttons.

Try this: edit an older post today. Add a call to action, then promote the post on social media networks.

6. Integrate your blog with your website

Some blogs are like red-headed stepchildren. You visit the company website, and there’s no indication at all that there’s a blog. That’s a shame.

Be proud of your blog. Add your blog to your website’s navigation.

Try this: add links to relevant blog content to your product pages.

7. Do more with popular posts

Got a blog post that’s receiving hundreds of Likes and shares? Lucky you! Now make the most of it. Write new blog posts extending the original, or on a similar topic.

Darren Rowse of ProBlogger fame wrote, How I Turned a Guest Post into 3 Million Visitors and Over 150,000 Social Media Shares:

  • 3 million unique visitors
  • 131,000 ‘pins’ on Pinterest
  • 25,000 ‘likes’ on Facebook
  • 19,000 RT’s on Twitter

No matter how modest your successes, bang the drum.

Try this: find a popular post. Can you extend the idea with a Part 2 of the original?

8. Persona-fy: target each blog post for a specific persona

We’re all individuals. However, the people who visit your blog will fall into broad groups. You can segment your traffic in any way you choose, but do create at least two personas.

We discussed personas in this post. Basically, a persona is a fictional representation of a segment of your traffic.

Try this: think about your audience. Create two personas.

9. Build a community around your blog (slowly)

You can build a community in many different ways. One of the easiest ways is by asking for comments.

Also consider creating a Facebook or Google+ page for your blog. It will take time to create a community. Be patient.

Try this: create a Facebook or Google+ page for your blog’s community.

10. What’s missing? Add images for added share-worthiness

We’ve talked about image marketing. Images on your blog posts make them sharable on sites like Pinterest, and Google+, which are heavily focused on images.

caturday on social media
It’s #Caturday on Google+

Of course you’ll post images relevant to your business, but consider other images too. “Caturday” is a a popular hashtag on Google+: on Saturdays, people post images of… their cats. Or just cute cat images they’ve found.

Try this: think beyond your blog. What great images do you and/ or your staff own? Post them on the social media pages you’ve created for your blog.

, and on Twitter: @angee

photo credit: somenametoforget via photopin cc