The Clarity and Confidence Your Blog Posts Are Missing

If you’re finding it difficult to come up with new content on a regular basis, it may because that content is lacking clarity and confidence. When you don’t have a clear map to follow, creating content becomes murky. You blog posts don’t mesh with your website copy. What you share on social media isn’t matching with the rest of your content.   How do you get all the content you create to line up with one another? By starting with the largest body of content you create: your blog posts.
 

If you’re finding it difficult to come up with new content on a regular basis, it may because that content is lacking clarity and confidence. When you don’t have a clear map to follow, creating content becomes murky. You blog posts don’t mesh with your website copy. What you share on social media isn’t matching with the rest of your content.

How do you get all the content you create to line up with one another? By starting with the largest body of content you create: your blog posts.

When your main content is lacking clarity and confidence, that message gets muddled.

So what can you do to make sure your content works for you?

  1. Focus your brand
  2. Make sure your message is clear
  3. Rethink your definition of the term “expert”
  4. Know your niche inside-out

Let’s break these down and get you’re a game plan for stronger, clearer content!

 

clarity 1

Your Blog’s Brand Lacks Focus

 

You’re currently blogging about a dozen different topics and most of those topics have nothing to do with the others.

The Problem:

You’re sending mixed messages to your audience.

When your audience doesn’t know what to expect from your blog content, they won’t want to commit to your brand. They’ll be less likely to read your blog or share your content.

And if you’re a service based or product based business, a new blog reader may be wary about buying from you when it isn’t clear from your free content the value you can provide them with.

I recently stumbled across a blog post that I felt was speaking right to me. Excited, I searched through the blogger’s achieves looking for similar posts, but I couldn’t find any. Most of their posts were on a subject I wasn’t interested. So I hit the backspace button a few times until I found myself back on Pinterest. I didn’t sign up for that blogger’s newsletter. I didn’t check out their services or their products. Even though the one post spoke to me, overall, the blogger’s brand was confusing enough, I wasn’t interested in spending time sorting it out.

Your readers are no different. There is so much content you’re readers consume every day, most people don’t have the time or aren’t willing to spend the time digging through your site, trying to find out if it’s a right match for them.

Usually, a few posts and perhaps the about page will be enough to tell them whether your brand is something they want to invest in.

The Fix

When those few posts and about page are all on point, it can be enough for your target audience to know you’re a brand for them. But when your brand is lacking focus—even your target audience won’t know you’re there to help them and will move on.

 

When your brand is lacking focus—even your target audience won’t know you’re there to help them and will move on. (<<< tweet that!)

 

So what can you do? Narrow your blogging topics. Usually, I encourage new bloggers to blog about a wide range of topics so they can get a sense of which topics interest them and which ones interest their audience, but after you’ve been blogging for a few months, you should be ready to start narrowing down those topics.

If you’re a new blogger, experiment with different topics, but if you’ve been blogging for at least six months, it’s time you choose 3-5 topics and stuck with them.

Once you’ve chosen what your blog will focus on, delete any posts on your site that don’t fit that brand. Yes, even if those posts are bringing in traffic because that traffic isn’t going to be made up of your target audience. New readers will read those odd post then leave your site.

If you want to attract your ideal audience, you want all of your content to be valuable to them. If it isn’t, it needs to go.

 

clarity 2

Your Message Isn’t Clear

 

You’re sharing recipes on Pinterest, tweeting about your favorite shows, and sharing live event posts on Facebook. And suddenly you’re running an online business too?

The Problem:

Your audience doesn’t know who you are.

It’s not only your blogging topics that need to be on point, your entire online message needs to be focused. When someone sees your name, no matter where that is—social media, a guest post, your own website—they should know right away what type of value they’ll be getting from you. They should be able to say, “Oh, Jane Doe. She’s all about marketing for freelancers.”

Here are a few examples of some bosses with clear messages:

  1. No matter where you find Kayla Hollatz, you know she’s going to talk about community—specifically, why a relationship with your community is so important to your business.
  2. Mariah Coz is all about building a profitable online business and focuses more specifically on doing so by creating online courses.
  3. Melissa Carter’s message is about DIY website design and blogging.

You see these names—you see these faces—and you know what to expect.

Can the same be said about you? When someone sees you in a Twitter chat or a Facebook group, do they know what you’re about? When someone comes across your website for the first time, do they know what you do?

The Fix:

You might be wondering what this message has to do with blogging and creating new content.

If your audience doesn’t know who you are, there’s a good chance you’re not sure who you are either. And when you don’t know who you are or what your message is, you’ll find it difficult to create content.

 

If your audience doesn’t know who you are, there’s a good chance you’re not sure who you are either. (<<< click to tweet!)

 

It wasn’t until I knew exactly what my business message was that I found it easy to create blog content. As soon as I knew who I was talking to and what I wanted to say to them, creating blog posts was a simple process. I used to agonize over topics for days, rushing to write the actual post the day before it was scheduled to be published, but now, I usually have my blog content created a month in advance.

If your message isn’t clear, stop writing blog posts. Yes, seriously. It’s worth it to take a few weeks or even a month off from creating new content in order to hone in on exactly what your blog’s purpose is. Be upfront with your audience about this decision. Let them know you’re taking a blog hiatus for X amount of time, then use that time to decide what exactly you want your blog to be.

Who do you want to help? Why do you want to help them? How can you help them?

The answers to these questions will help you start your new blog plan.

 

confidence 1

You Don’t Feel Like an Expert

 

Maybe you know exactly what your message and your purpose is, but you’re not sure you have what it takes to step in and really help your audience.

The Problem:

You’re stuck on the term, “expert.” But here’s the thing with that word—it’s ambiguous. It’s relative. And it shouldn’t stand in the way of your confidence. Because really, you don’t need to be an expert—not in the traditional sense. You don’t need 25 years of experience in a field before you can start teaching others about your topic.

When I started teaching at one of our local colleges, I had just graduated college myself. Most of my students were older than me, and at the time, I didn’t even have my Master’s—was I really qualified to teach? Yes. Because my students had never taken English 101. My students didn’t know how to write a standard academic essay. Most of my students had never studied poetry. So I was expert enough to teach them these subjects because I knew these subjects inside and out. I had studied them enough that I was able to teach them to others.

 

I knew enough to guide my students from Point A to Point B, and that’s all I needed to do. (<<< tweet that!)

 

The Fix:

That’s all you need to be able to do too. What do you wish you had known three months ago? Can you teach that to others? Because there are people out there who are where you were three months ago. That’s Point A. Where you are now is Point B, and you can get those who are at Point A to Point B.

Instead of seeing yourself as an “expert,” start seeing yourself as someone who can help others accomplish __fill in the blank___. What can you do right now that others would benefit from? What can you teach someone right now? How can you improve someone’s life, home, business, mindset, etc. right now?

  • Identify Point A
  • Identify Point B
  • Construct the bridge and connect Points A and B
  • Use that bridge to develop blog post ideas + content!

 

confidence 2

You’re Writing About A Topic You’re Unfamiliar With

 

  • You’ve never blogged before, but you’re going to start a blog on blogging.
  • You specialize in Twitter, but Facebook groups are hot right now, so you’re going to start blogging about Facebook groups.
  • You’ve never owned your own business but you want to be a business coach. 

The Problem:

You don’t have confidence in writing about your niche because you don’t have experience in your niche. There’s nothing wrong with wanting to do something new, but if you are diving into a brand new niche/field, the best thing to do is focus on learning and becoming an “expert”  before you start teaching others how to do something you’re unfamiliar with.

Remember what we said earlier, though: you can be and expert in just a few months.

When I started writing fiction, I made the choice self-publish, so I was reading a lot about self-publishing. This information slowly made its way into my blog posts on my author website, but the problem was, I still hadn’t self-published. Having never experienced self-publishing, I wasn’t the right person to help out other authors who were interested in self-publishing. I quickly ran out of blog content and keeping up that blog become overwhelming.

The Fix:

It wasn’t until I had successfully self-published my first novel that I felt confident enough to write more blog posts about this subject.

Lesson learned: I had to experience my topic before I could write blog posts about it.

 

You need experience and knowledge in your topic before you can start writing blog posts about it. (<<< click to tweet!)

 

If you’re in a similar situation, worry less about blogging and focus more on learning. You can always blog about your learning journey. Instead of trying to inform readers about your topic, do round up posts about what you are studying, how you are consuming the information, and what you are learning.

The “fake it until you make it” advice doesn’t work with blogging. Readers will see right through you if you’re bullshitting them.

If you want to build a sustainable blog and business, you need an audience who trusts you. Always be upfront with your audience. If you’re a beginner, let them know. And in 3-6 months when you’ve learned X, you’ll be able to turn around and how that audience exactly how they can accomplish X too.

 

 

You shouldn’t have to spend days thinking up new content and struggling to create it. When you don’t have a clear picture in front of you, that’s what happens.

But when you know exactly who you are, what you do, and who you help, you’ll find creating new blog content a breeze. The clarity and confidence that brings readers back to your blog will shine through each post. Your audience will come to know you, like you, and trust you.

I challenge you to take a look at your blog posts this week. Is your message clear? Do you feel confident writing about your blog topics? Leave me a comment below and let’s chat about this!

 

Creative Chat with Arpi Sylvester

Creativity plays a huge role in my business and brand. It means everything to me! As a designer, creativity is in my blood. Whenever I see a menu card in a restaurant or look over at a billboard, my very first thought would be, the font looks great! or I’d say “I love the color palette”. Sometimes my Husband just wonders how do I notice all this. haha! I make sure I do a lot of things to be in tune with my creative side, some of them are breading books or just looking at other designers and really studying the design or if I am really bored, you will find me on Pinterest looking for inspiration. Sometimes, I watch a movie. Oh! talking about movies, I recommend that every designer watch these two movies, Helvetica and Art & Copy. My design through flow changed after watching these two movies. Whenever I get an idea I just take a screenshot or write it down on Evernote.
 

1. Quickly introduce yourself to us. Who are you and what do you do?


A. Hi, I am Arpi! I am a self-taught graphic + website designer and business blogging strategist. My passion lies in helping new business owners with meaningful branding and effective website design that engage their audience, sets their brand apart and ultimately lands them more business. In this process, I equip my clients with the best business strategies, which include social media marketing and content marketing. I have been doing branding and website design since 2010. My mission for my business is to produce the highest quality work for every client, on every project. When I’m not busy designing, you can find me on JustArpi.com inspiring my readers to turn their passions into a business they love and build strong & successful brands online.


2. What are your creative passions? What do you just love to dive into and get lost in?


A. I am super passionate about helping women through design and brand identity. I love talking to them and helping them out with brand identity for their small businesses. I narrowed my niche even further and now helping only new business owners and bloggers cause I feel they are the ones who need real direction as they venture out on their own. When I started off, I did not have anyone to tell me anything about branding or blog strategies which catered specifically for my audience. I had to figure it all on my own. Now, I want to be that extended hand that new business owners can come to and ask questions and talk to me about their concerns. After doing a small research-based survey, I even bought down my prices cause I learnt that new business owners cannot afford designers and developers who charge way more than their budget. I spend most of my time talking to new business owners in understanding their direction and vision for their brand. I guide them through their journey as their business bestie. Nothing makes me more happy than seeing my clients chase their dreams without fear or lack of purposeful strategy holding them back. 


3. Why does creativity matter to you and how do you make time for it?


Creativity plays a huge role in my business and brand. It means everything to me! As a designer, creativity is in my blood. Whenever I see a menu card in a restaurant or look over at a billboard, my very first thought would be, the font looks great! or I’d say “I love the color palette”. Sometimes my Husband just wonders how do I notice all this. haha! I make sure I do a lot of things to be in tune with my creative side, some of them are breading books or just looking at other designers and really studying the design or if I am really bored, you will find me on Pinterest looking for inspiration. Sometimes, I watch a movie. Oh! talking about movies, I recommend that every designer watch these two movies, Helvetica and Art & Copy. My design through flow changed after watching these two movies. Whenever I get an idea I just take a screenshot or write it down on Evernote.
 

As a designer, creativity is in my blood. (<<< tweet that!)


4. What does your creative process look like?


My creative process is extremely simple. I talk to the potential client first to see if we are a good fit. It is important for me as it is for them to find out if we are made for each other. Then I ask them to fill up a questionnaire which is then followed up by a call with questions. [connect homework sentence with this properly]I give them homework and learn more about their vision and dream and ask them the right questions so that they can help me create a meaningful and purpose-filled brand identity which is tailor-made for them. What is learnt from this is, it is really important to make the client talk and communicate to you about their vision and dream for their business, cause only then you will know what is in their mind and be able to create a meaning brand for them.

 

5. Sometimes, creatives get stuck or blocked and struggle to create. Has this ever happened to you? What happened?


Yes! This happens to me more than once in a day! Let’s be honest, we are all humans and not unicorns [even though we want to be them in our heads]. Whenever I get stuck in a rut, I just move away from my computer or whatever I am doing and try to do something entirely different like talk to my mom or just play a video game or go for a walk or even cook/bake my favourite meal. This helps me refocus my energy into something that takes my mind off creativity and just be a human and then when I get back, I am totally charged with new ideas. I know this might not work for everyone, all you got to do is figure it out helps you copy up that block. Sometimes, I just don’t have choice but create and not waste time. At these times I just make myself a caramel latte and put on my workout music and 5 minutes timer and get going. Most of the time this works for me and I just tend to ignore the timer since I am already in the productivity mode.
 

6. How did you push past this block and get back to creating?


Just take a break from creativity and engage yourself in something totally different or just take power nap, it helps for me! If you don’t have a choice and the task is time bound, just follow the 5 minute rule and get your productive mode ON!


7. What advice would you have for other creatives who afraid to create or who struggle to find time, motivation, or inspiration to create?


I know the feeling, it is so hard to be motivated and inspired as a business owner. Over the years, I realised that only I can be my own motivator. I read a ton of motivational quotes and surround myself with motivating people. If I don’t push myself who will? I also have a desktop wallpaper which has all my dreams (dream place to visit, dream house, dream car etc. etc.) I sometimes stare at it and get lost. Haha! Money is a motivator, I at times think, if I write this blog post, I will generate leads and then they can get converted and become my clients and then I can buy something for myself. I don’t know if anyone does that, but I sure do and it helps me. But the bottom line is, you got to pick yourself up and do what you are passionate about. Sometimes that very passion can be the driving force behind the work you do and your creativity. 


If I don’t push myself who will? (<<< click to tweet)

 


8. Where can we find out more about you and connect with you?

Arpi

 

You can find me out more about me at justarpi.com. You can reach out to me via Facebook, Twitter and Instagram or just direct message me at arpisylvester@icloud.com. I’d love to hear from you and stay connect!!!

 

How to Overcome 5 Goal Setting Challenges

It’s fun to set goals. It can be exciting to challenge yourself—to push your limits. Maybe you’re finally going to get that editorial calendar together or create your first product. You write that goal down. You stick a sticky-note on your desk to remind you of that goal each day and then…you don’t reach your goal. You’re frustrated. You’re discouraged. “Is there something wrong with me?” you wonder. Nope. You simply ran into a goal setting challenge you weren’t prepared to handle. Let’s tackle five of those challenges today!
 

It’s fun to set goals. It can be exciting to challenge yourself—to push your limits. Maybe you’re finally going to get that editorial calendar together or create your first product. You write that goal down. You stick a sticky note on your desk to remind you of that goal each day and then…you don’t reach your goal. You’re frustrated. You’re discouraged. “Is there something wrong with me?” you wonder.

Nope. You simply ran into a goal setting challenge you weren’t prepared to handle.

Let’s tackle five of those challenges today!

 

Challenge 1: You Aimed Too High

 

Challenge 1: You Aimed Too High

 

It’s always okay to set your sights high and challenge yourself to push your limits, but sometimes, you set that bar just a teeny bit too high. You’re not going to reach your goal, which makes you want to quit.

  • Example: I’ll sell 20 courses this month.
  • 1 Week to Go: I’ve only sold 9 courses.

DON’T do this: “No sense trying. There’s no way I’ll sell another 11 courses in just one week when it took me three weeks to sell 9.”

Instead, you have two options:

1) Change your goal: I’ll sell 12 courses this month.

2) Keep reaching for that 20 even if you don’t hit it.

Regardless of whether you changed your goal or stuck to the original, at the end of the goal timeframe (in this case, a month) ask yourself:

  1. Why did I originally aim to sell 20 courses?
  2. What did I do/not do in order to reach that goal?
  3. What could I have done better?
  4. Whether you reach a goal or you don’t, you learned something.

Earlier this year, Kayla Hollatz, of KaylaHollatz.com, started an online book club, but after a few months, it was clear to her her original plan was working out. It was difficult to get people to engage in another Twitter chat (she already hosts #createlounge on Wednesdays) once a month to discuss the book, and she hadn’t met those original goals she set for herself when she started her book club.

But Kayla didn’t let that stop her. She was still passionate about reading and about community, she just needed another approach. She kept the concept of the book club BUT changed the format in which she engaged with her audience about each book.

If you ask Kayla if she would consider her first attempt a fail, she’d probably tell you, “No.” She didn’t fail She just had to find another way to approach and execute her goal.

 
Challenge 2: You Forgot to Plan

 

Challenge 2: You Forgot to Give Yourself Time to Plan

 

You thought of a goal and you dived right in, forgetting that you don’t even know how to do X! Oops.

  • Example: I just set up my website and my goal is to get 1,000 subscribers by the end of the month.
  • The Problem: I don’t know how to set up a newsletter list, get people to join my list, and I don’t have anything to offer subscribers at the moment.

DON’T do this: “Forget it. I can’t believe I was so stupid. I have no idea how to gain 1,000 subscribers.”

Instead, check out where you took a wrong turn, backtrack, and get yourself on the right path.

So you forgot that before you should start worrying about gaining newsletter subscribers, you need an actual email list for them to subscribe to, and you need to offer website visitors a valuable reason for joining your list.

There’s no need to give up on your goal, but you’re going to need to tweak it. First, you need to set a goal to create a newsletter list. Then you need to create an opt-in of some sorts and post that opt-in in multiple places on your website as well as mention it in your social media bios (you can see my Pinterest bio as an example of this).

NOW set your goal to reach those 1,000 subscribers. You have something they want/need (and you have a way to gather all their emails)—now start driving traffic to that opt-in.

 

Goofed up your goal timeline? Check where you took a wrong turn, backtrack, and get yourself on the right path! (<<< click to tweet!)

 

Before I moved my website to Squarespace, I knew I needed to learn how to use Squarespace. I downloaded a free course on how to use Squarespace and worked through the entire course before I moved my site.

Why?

Because I knew in order to complete my ultimate goal: Get website on Squarespace, I needed the skill set to achieve this goal.

  1. Before you set your next goal, ask yourself:
  2. What do I need in order to make this goal a reality?
  3. Do I have what I need?
  4. If not, what I can do to get what I need before I start?

 

Challenge 3: You Weren't Honest About Your Timetable

 

Challenge 3: You Weren’t Honest With Your Timetable

 

Ever undertaken a new project/goal without *quite* understanding just how much work it was going to take? Hey, we’ve all been there at one point.

  • Example: I’m going to redesign my website, and it’ll take me one week.
  • Reality: It’s been a month and I’m still working on my website. Grrr.

DON’T do this: Beat yourself up, call yourself a failure, or quit.

So you underestimated redesigning a website. That’s okay. You’re learning. It’s the first time you’ve done this. Give yourself a pass and restructure your schedule/timetable to fit in the extra time you’ll need to accomplish your goal.

When I made the switch to Squarespace and changed my website domain to byemilyscott.com, I was completely unprepared how long it would take me. But I knew this change—this goal—was important to the success of my business, so I made more time by doing less. I gave up blogging for a couple of weeks and kept my newsletters short and sweet. I wasn’t as active as I usually am on social media, and I even cut back personal activities like writing, watching T.V., and painting—just for a few weeks.

I had a decision to make: What was important at that moment? My website. So it had to come first and all other activities had to come second.

No matter what goal you are working on, you should always know WHY it is a goal and why it matters to you to accomplish it. If a goal is priority number one, make the time to complete it, even if that means you have to give something up or put in extra hours each day for a short time—if a goal really matters to you, you’ll make it happen.

To know if a goal is important, ask yourself:

  1. What is my goal?
  2. Why is this a goal?
  3. What would happen if I complete it? How would I feel?
  4. What would happen if I don’t complete it? How would I feel?
  5. What am I willing to do to make sure I accomplish this goal?

 

No matter what goal you are working on, you should always know WHY it is a goal. (<<< tweet that!)

 

Challenge 4: You Shared Your Goal Too Soon

 

Challenge 4: You Shared Your Goal Too Soon

 

Challenging yourself to grow is exciting. You want to share that excitement with others. But you’re goal changed, you’re not on track to meet your original deadline, or that goal is no longer important to you and you don’t want to admit it to the people you shared that goal with.

  • Example: I’m going to start offering freelance editing services.
  • Reality: Wait, I don’t want to spend my time editing. Actually, I’m not even sure I want to be a freelancer. Crap. I told my entire newsletter list I was going to do this!

DON’T do this: Lie, pretend, or force yourself to complete that goal.

In this situation, it really is best to be upfront, especially if you told your goal to someone/some people who trust you.

I have probably driven my author newsletter subscribers crazy with my inconsistent goals about blogging. Yes, I’ll blog. No, I won’t. Wait, yes, but in this way. No…wait...in that way. Heck, I’m still unsure what my author blogging goals are, but I’m always upfront with my audience about what’s going on. If something falls through, I tell them why. I’m a real person who makes real mistakes. Guess what? So is my audience. Just like me, I’m sure they make mistakes all the time, so it’s okay when I admit I’ve made one.

And while it’s important to keep an honest, open line of communication with your community, in the future, think before you share your goal. Instead of sharing your goal with everyone, maybe you should just share it with a "biz bestie" or your mastermind group. You may even want to wait until you’re well into the middle (or near the end) of you goal before you start sharing it. Even though we all make mistakes, it isn’t always easy to admit it. If you feel uncomfortable telling your audience one thing then having to backtrack and tell them the opposite is, in fact, true, keep your lips zipped for the time being.

Or you can do what Jenna Moreci does with her quarterly goals: She shares what they are, making sure her audience knows full well that she may not accomplish all these goals. The following quarter, she tells her audience what goals she achieved and which ones she didn’t. Then she shares her goals for the next quarter. Even though Jenna is sharing these goals with all of YouTube, she does in a way that challenges her but also gives her permission to not hit every goal. She doesn’t feel ashamed by admitting that some of her goals never happened.

 

Challenge 5: Your Goal Wasn't Specific Enough

 

Challenge 5: Your Goal Wasn’t Specific Enough

 

  • Example: I’m going to grow my email list.

But you haven’t given yourself a concrete goal to reach. Technically, getting one subscriber this week would be a growth to your email list, right? But I’m guessing you want more growth than that. If you don’t know exactly where you want to end up, you’re going to have a tough time getting there.

Without concrete goals, you’ll find it difficult measuring and figuring out if you’ve met or haven’t your goal.

S. J. Scott suggests using S.M.A.R.T. goals:

Specific: You have to specify exactly what you want to achieve and WHY.

Measurable: How much? How many? Growing your email list isn’t clear enough. Increasing your email list by 20 subscribers a week is. Increasing your email list by 100 subscribers a month is.

Attainable: Set goals you can truly achieve. If you’re starting with a new site and nothing else—no opt-in, no blog posts, no social media presence, then you’re going to have a tough time gaining 1,000 subscribers in a few weeks. It’s absolutely okay to push yourself but push your limits just slightly. If you think gaining 100 subscribers this month is manageable, then challenges yourself to gain 200. But 100 subscribers a day probably isn’t possible right off the bat.

Relevant: Your goals need to be important to you. If your heart isn’t in it, you’re not going to achieve them. Or you’ll be unhappy and resentful the entire time you try. If you want to grow your email list simply because that’s what the “experts” say you should do, you’ll find it difficult to reach this goal. You have to WANT the goals you set for yourself and your creative business, and you have to know WHY you want them.

Time-bound: Your goals need deadlines. “I will grow my email list by 40 subscribers each week, and will have my first 1,000 subscribers by X date.”

Before you set a new goal for yourself, run it passed S.M.A.R.T.:

  1. Is my goal specific?
  2. Is my goal measurable?
  3. Is my goal attainable?
  4. Is my goal relevant?
  5. Is my goal time-bound?

 

 

What goal-setting challenges are you currently facing? Let’s chat about them!

 

How to Batch Blogging Tasks (+ Why You Should)

Let me give you two blogging scenarios: Option A: write blog, edit blog, create graphics, format blog, schedule blog, share on social media. Rinse and Repeat—four-five times! Option B: write four posts, edit four posts, create graphics for four posts, format four posts, schedule four posts, schedule social media share for all four posts. Done. Basically, batching means doing all of one type of task before moving on to another type of task. It’s the difference between making one batch of sugar cookies and one batch of chocolate chip cookies both on Monday and Tuesday versus making two batches of sugar cookies on Monday and two batches of sugar cookies on Tuesday. Which do you think would be easier?
 

How would it feel to get a month’s worth of blog posts written and scheduled with just a few days’ worth of work? No, I’m not joking. In fact, I’m in the middle of doing this right now. That’s right: you’re reading a blog post that was written two weeks before its scheduled date all because I batched it with other blog writing.

 

What is Batching?

 

Let me give you two blogging scenarios:

Option A: write blog, edit blog, create graphics, format blog, schedule blog, share on social media. Rinse and Repeat—four-five times!

Option B: write four posts, edit four posts, create graphics for four posts, format four posts, schedule four posts, schedule social media share for all four posts. Done.

Basically, batching means doing all of one type of task before moving on to another type of task. It’s the difference between making one batch of sugar cookies and one batch of chocolate chip cookies both on Monday and Tuesday versus making two batches of sugar cookies on Monday and two batches of sugar cookies on Tuesday. Which do you think would be easier?

 

Why Should You Batch Your Blogging Tasks?

 

Can I use the cookie example again? Good. Because I’m seriously thinking I need to bake after I finish this post… Anyway… making sugar cookies and making chocolate chip cookies require a different set of ingredients, different amounts of effort, and different techniques. It would take longer to try to bake two different types of cookies than to bake two batches of the same type of cookie.

So why am I making you hungry instead of helping you condense your blog writing time? Because it is easier to do two of the same task than to do two separate tasks. For example, writing and editing are tasks that require a different frame of mind. If you’ve ever been told to not edit while writing, this is why. And the same can be said of writing versus making graphics—you’re in a different mindset while doing each one of these tasks.

Instead, you want to get into your groove, and stay there. If you’re creating blog graphics for one post, you’re already in graphic-design mode—stay there! Create two or three sets of blog graphics while you’ve got your groove going.

Trena Little, of TrenaLittle.com, batches her YouTube videos all the time. She says since she has her hair and makeup done, has her studio set up for recording, and is in a video making mood, she might as well record as many videos as possible. Imagine if she had to go through the process to set up her studio to record every day for an entire week? Instead, she saves herself hours of work by batching her video recordings.

 

 How Do You Batch Blogging?

 

Pre-Batch Task: Gather Your Ideas

 

Have you ever read a post called “52 Blog Topic Ideas” or “101 Blog Titles” or “A Year’s Worth of Blog Content”? Odds are, the bloggers who wrote those posts didn’t try to think of 100 ideas in one sitting—they kept a folder of ideas on hand. Every time they thought of a new idea, they added it to the folder.

This is where you want to start: With an idea folder. It can be a document on your computer, a note in Evernote, or a list in your journal—no matter where you keep track of blog ideas, save them all in the same spot, and start saving now.

Why?

So when you are ready to start batching your blog writing, you won’t get bogged down with having to think of ideas first—you’ll already have a list waiting for you.

 

Batch Blogging Tasks

 

Blog Outline/Rough Draft: Regardless of whether you’re an outliner or whether you like to dive in and start writing, set aside one day where you will write X number of posts. Right now, I publish a blog post once a week, and one of those posts is a guest post, so I only need to write three posts a month. Writing a solid rough draft of three posts usually takes most of my workday (my average blog post is about 1500 words).

Because I dedicate a day to blog post writing, I don’t have a list of other tasks that need to be checked off that day. I mean it when I say I give myself the day to write. If you decide to write three posts tomorrow AND do x, y, and z, you’ll overwhelm yourself. Choose one day a month to be your writing day, and knock out all your blog writing in that one day.

Blog Edit: Don’t batch editing on the same day you batch writing—in fact, don’t batch anything on the same day you’re writing. Out of all the blogging tasks you do, writing is usually the most difficult because you’re taking a blank page and filling it with hundreds/thousands of words. But the good news is, you just crossed that hurtle, so now you’re ready to edit. And since you’re in the editing zone after you edit one post, go ahead and edit all the others! Two days’ worth of work and you have 3-5 polished blog posts ready to be scheduled. Feels good, doesn’t it?

Blog + Social Graphics: First of all, creating multiple blog graphics will be a lot easier and quicker if you use templates. I have about four different blog templates saved in Canva, so when I’m ready to create a new blog post graphic, all I have to do is change the image + words and hit download.

Pro tip: You can create social media templates in Canva too.

I usually create my graphics on the same day I edit my posts because neither editing nor graphic creation take up an entire workday, but like I do with my writing days, I schedule “editing + graphic” days into my calendar so I know to keep that day clear of any other major projects.

Blog Formatting: Whether you’re using WordPress or Squarespace, I find it so much easier to simply schedule multiple blog posts in one sitting. To be honest, this is one of the most difficult blogging tasks for me because it requires so many little details like short links and Click to Tweet. I often have several tabs open when I’m formatting my posts to be scheduled, so I prefer to batch them in one go.

Social Sharing: Did you know you can schedule social media content for posts that haven’t even gone live yet if you’re using a scheduling tool/app? Yup. For real. Instead of remembering to share a post on its publication date, as soon as each post is scheduled for publication, I schedule to share this post on social media the day it’s due to be published.

I use Hootsuite for Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram, and I use Tailwind to schedule my blog image as a Pinterest pin. I already created the graphics, remember? And I already created a short link of the URL, so all I need is a few snippets from my post and I’m good to go.

 

Learn how batching your blogging tasks will save you hours of work! (<<< tweet that!)

 

Breakdown of MY Batch Days

 

  1. Day 1: Write blog posts
  2. Day 2: Edit blog posts and create all blog + social media graphics
  3. Day 3: Format and schedule each post + schedule each post for social media sharing

I usually schedule these three days during the 3rd and/or 4th week of each month.

So for the post you are currently reading, here’s what I did:

  1. I’m writing it right now on August 24.
  2. I’ll edit it + create graphics for it on August 26.
  3. And I’ll format, schedule, + schedule for social media on August 29.

The best way to make batching days work for you is to make that day all about the batch. If it's a writing day, keep that day focused on writing. If it's a social media scheduling day, keep that day only focused on social media. If you try to cram other tasks into a batch day, your day can quickly becoming overwhelming.

 

Do you batch your tasks? If not, what's you're number one productivity tip?

 

Bring Your Own Creativity: August 2016

Bring Your Own Creativity August 2016: Create something that represents travel: it could be about a trip you have taken, somewhere you want to go, or even something you could use on an adventure!
 

It's the last month of Bring Your Own Creativity. I want to thank Katy again for inviting me to participate in this challenge. I would love to do this challenge again next year. 

If you haven't already, you can take a look at what I created for June and July.

And If you've just stumbled on this post and are thinking, "Dang it, I missed BYOC," complete the prompts anyway! This was a summer challenge, but that doesn't mean you can't bring your own creativity any time of the year!

Ready to make some magic for August?

 

August's Prompt:

 

Create something that represents travel: it could be about a trip you have taken, somewhere you want to go, or even something you could use on an adventure!

 

I don't take a lot of vacations, and the ones I do, I usually visit family. And that's how it's been my entire life. Family is the most important thing to my parents, so growing up, every vacation involved family. And if you gave me the chance to go anywhere in the world right now, I'd go to see my grandparents. Every time. Even though I saw them in June, I would give up a trip anywhere to be with them.

I already used my trip to Denver for my June #BYOCreatvity prompt though, so as I was thinking about this month's prompt, I decided I wanted to share something with you I don't share often enough: I'm an author. I write paranormal fantasy fiction under the name E. L. Scott, and all my novels are listed on my author website: authorelscott.com.

What does that have to do with August's prompt?

Let me introduce you to Vianez Atil. (She's the main character of the Owl Flight series.) Vianez'a life sucks--at least, she thinks it sucks. Why? Because her dad just moved her whole family to some dinky little town in the middle of nowhere. Vianez is 16, so having to leave the home she's lived in her whole life plus leave all her friends is the worst. And to make matter worse, this new town, Owl Flight, it's...well...it's a werewolf community. Shit.

 

Vianez Atil’s family has recently moved to Owl Flight, an isolated town near the borders of the giants, but something isn’t right about this town…Along with her new friends, Penora and Tenoch, Vianez is about to discover much more about Owl Flight than she ever wanted.

Between solving the town’s mysteries and avoiding being killed, Vianez will have to face what happens when one stumbles into a werewolf community. Buy Owl Flight: Season One now and follow Vianez as she takes down a rogue werewolf gang, faces the threat of prison, and tries to stop Owl Flight from turning into a bloodbath.

 

 

Without realizing it, I was writing a bit of my own story when I started Owl Flight. No, I haven't had any werewolves try to kill me, yet, but my family moved when I was a teenager to a "foreign" world too: The Coachella Valley. (I grew up in San Bernardino, so the desert was very foreign to me.)

It’s tough at any age to be in an unfamiliar place and try to make new friends who are already set in their ways. But moving can also give one a chance to grow in a way they may not have. What I love about travel in this story though is Vianez's transformation. Over the course of four books, Vianez accepts Owl Flight as her home. I just finished writing the fourth and last book in this series, and I knew I wanted this transformation to be complete before I ended the last novel because I've experienced my own transformation: I see the desert as my home now. I might complain about the heat, but it holds a beauty that took me years to discover.

 

Owl Flight is the hidden gem of Vianez's travels.

The Coachella Valley is  the hidden gem of my travels.

What's yours? 

 

A Lesson in Mindfulness: Do Deadlines Matter?

But the truth is, when you are the “boss” of your creative projects (or creative business), you are the one who manages that project calendar. You decide what is going to get done and when it’s going to get done. And because you’re most likely a one-woman-show, when real life happens, you’ve got to be the boss that says, “That’s okay. I’ll extend the project for the sake of (your choice of words here).”
 

The short answer? Yes. They do. But when I made the choice to drive to Denver this summer, I had to learn the role deadlines played in my creative business.

 

Quick backstory: In May, my mom and I decided to drive to Denver in June to visit my grandparents. I was in the middle of creating a new eCourse, Operation: Procrastination Shutdown, and preparing to have a fantasy novel published. But looking at my editorial calendar and my personal calendar, I realized something: there was no way I was going to get the work done and spend time with my family.

Right in the middle of our planned vacation, I had the launch for OPS and the launch of the novel scheduled.

No good.

It would have been easy to say I didn’t have a choice: I was going to have to hustle and work harder to make this happen (I mean, come on, those deadlines were staring at me, demanding I meet them). Luckily, mindfulness has taught me a lot this year: It matters less what I do and more WHY I do it.

I DID have a choice (and it was MY choice): Meet the deadlines or spend my vacation with my grandparents. I chose my grandparents. And I knew exactly why I was choosing my grandparents: I live in Palm Springs, CA and they live in Denver, CO, and due to my financial situation (and to my grandpa’s inability to travel these days), I only get to see him once a year. So you can bet I decided time with my grandparents was more important that reaching my initial deadlines.

 

Yeah, your deadlines matter, but are they the RIGHT deadlines? Find out in this post! (<<< click to tweet and share this post!)

 

PROCRASTINATION VERSUS VACATIONS

It’s easy to confuse procrastination with breaks: “I decided not to blog today. Am I procrastinating? Am I just taking a break? Wait, is it okay to take breaks?”

Have you ever found yourself in a tug of war game with procrastination?

Because that was my first instinct: Put myself down for procrastinating. Here I was going on a vacation when all this work needed to be done. (Feel free to roll your eyes here; I am.)

But the truth is, when you are the “boss” of your creative projects (or creative business), you are the one who manages that project calendar. You decide what is going to get done and when it’s going to get done. And because you’re most likely a one-woman-show, when real life happens, you’ve got to be the boss that says, “That’s okay. I’ll extend the project for the sake of (your choice of words here).”

 

Why is this NOT procrastination?

1. Procrastination is avoiding something. It often an avoidance out of fear. (You can learn all about procrastination’s relationship with fear here.)  When you make a decision to push back a deadline in order to take a break or to go on vacation, you’re not giving up on or avoiding your project. This goal is still alive. It just now has a new deadline.

2. Let’s talk about that decision—that choice—to push back deadlines. Procrastination takes choices from you. It makes you feel helpless. You feel guilty. You might even feel like you’re not good enough because you *can’t* fight procrastination. And that isn’t true at all. This is YOUR project. This is your: blog, website, novel, art show, etc. You are in charge, and you decide when things are going to happen. If you make a choice to change the timetable of your project, own that choice.

 

Procrastination takes choices from you. It’s time you give control of those choices to the one who matters: YOU (<<< tweet this!)

 

3. You have a clear purpose for pushing back this deadline. As long as you know WHY you are pushing back your deadlines, push them back all you want.

  • Sometimes, you’re really not ready.
  • Or maybe your audience isn’t ready.
  • If you are working on a collaboration, you might have to push a deadline back because you are waiting for your partner to finish her work.
  • Perhaps you end up with vacation plans at the last minute, and it’s more important to you that you take time for yourself or for your family then meet those initial deadlines.

Don’t push back a deadline because you think you have to or because you’re afraid of finishing and publishing your work. But DO have a sound reason why you are moving your deadline.

 

Still not sure if you are just letting procrastination take control without your notice? This is what procrastination looks like:

1. No deadline.

2. Or deadline comes and goes without you reaching your goal OR without purposefully changing the deadline.

3. You don’t know what to work on today (or this week).

4. Distractions: you spend all day putting out fires instead of getting your priority tasks accomplished.

5. When someone asks you about your project, you draw a blank or avoid the question.

 

HOW DO YOU KNOW IF YOU’RE PROCRASTINATING?

Journal it, lady! Break out that journal and start answering these questions at the end of each workday:

1. What tasks did you accomplish today?

2. Did the accomplishment of those tasks move you towards the completion of your creative project?

3. How do you feel about the progress of your creative project?

4. Are you still on track to meet your deadline?

5. If not, why? AND should you move your deadline or move aside something else so you can meet your deadline?

The better you know yourself and your creative projects, the easier it will be to recognize the difference between procrastination and purposely taking a break/vacation from your work. And the best time to get to know yourself and your work/creative habits is right now. Start using that journal today!

 

PSST…YOUR DEADLINES STILL MATTER

Think your deadlines no longer matter—they still do! Just because you’ve decided to not hit that initial deadline doesn’t mean you can leave your project without direction. It needs a new deadline—and it needs it right away.

Instead of saying, “I’m not going to launch on October 1st,” say, “I’m not going to launch on October 1st. Instead, I’m going to launch on October 15th.

And Write. That. Date. Down. If the launch of a new project can happen just any old time, why would you be motivated to work on it right now? Odds are, you wouldn’t. Deadlines keep you on track. When you know the end date, you can work backward to figure out what tasks you need to be working on right now to make that deadline happen.

Example time! On August 1st, I created my content calendar for the entire month. I knew on that day this post would be published on August 24th. Because I knew when this post needed to be 100% done and ready for publication, I was able to look at my blog checklist and determine which days I would accomplish which tasks so come publication day, this post was ready.

 

 

So, do you really need deadlines? Do they matter? Yes! But because they are your deadlines, you decide when they happen.

 

Did my projects still get completed? Yup. Operation: Procrastination Shutdown launched a month later than my original plan and my novel was published six weeks later than originally planned. And the world didn’t end. My business didn’t end. I am not a failure for needing more time to complete my projects. Rather, both the course and novel were better because I gave myself extra time to work on them. The deadlines that matter are the ones that have a purpose. Do your deadlines have a purpose?

 

The deadlines that matter are the ones that have a purpose. Do your deadlines have a purpose? (<<< click to tweet!)

 

How do you feel about having to change your deadlines to make time for the other things in your life that matter?

 

Creative Chat with Elizabeth Patterson

Keep going back. If there is something creative that you love doing, and you don't have the time you would like or you aren't always motivated, just make sure you keep going back to it. I can't personally give any great advice about being consistent or prolific or anything like that, but I do know that whether it takes a week, a month, or a year, you need to keep going back. Never give up on creating, especially if it is something you love doing. In my experience, if you love doing it, then you probably need to do it.
 

1. Quickly introduce yourself to us. Who are you and what do you do?

Hi! I'm Elizabeth, and I am a freelance editor. You can find me at byelizabethhope.com! I am currently able and willing to edit for anyone and everyone, but my main focus is editing for fiction authors. I especially love helping newer authors who have never worked with an editor before and who may have plans to self-publish down the road.

 

2. What are your creative passions? What do you just love to dive into and get lost in?

While I do love editing, it doesn't always satisfy my creative urges. Without a doubt, my two creative passions that I could do all day, every day are painting and working in the theater. Unfortunately, I don't get to paint very often since I don't have a great space for it and I have been very busy over the past few months setting up my business and getting ready to move. When I do get to paint, however, I love that I can pop in a CD and relax as I paint. And as for the theater, depending on what my job description ends up being for each show I work, I usually end up working at least a couple hundred hours from Day 1 of rehearsal until closing night, my multitasking muscles are pushed to the limit, life is insane, and I absolutely love it to death haha

 

3. Why does creativity matter to you and how do you make time for it?

Honestly, creativity matters to me because I truly believe I would go crazy without it. There is just something about the way my brain is wired that causes my mental health to suffer if I don't take time for creativity. Unfortunately, as I said earlier, these past few months have been crazy busy, and so my creative time and activities have been limited to fiction reading whenever I catch a break, or maybe watching an episode of something funny on Netflix at the end of the day before I go to bed. When it comes to my creative passions, for the time being, I only paint when I've been commissioned for a piece. And when a theater production comes around (usually in the spring and/or fall), the show is my number one priority, and everything else gets done later, if there is time. Even sleep. So I definitely have an easier time making theater a priority. Painting is a creative passion that I tend to forget about unless I'm currently doing it or I'm surrounded in my life by other artists (even being surrounded on social media helps with that).

 

Creativity matters to me because I truly believe I would go crazy without it (<<< tweet that!)

 

4. What does your creative process look like?

I don't know if this is a good thing or a bad thing, but I don't think I actually have a standard creative process. With painting, for example, there are certain things that will automatically be the same every time (decide what to paint, gather supplies, sketch the basics on the canvas, paint), but other than the basics my creative process is fairly flexible. Unless the painting is commissioned or I'm working a play that has certain deadlines, I tend to just go with the flow and switch up the "order of operations" to fit the specific situation.

 

5. Sometimes, creatives get stuck or blocked and struggle to create. Has this ever happened to you? What happened?

Yes! Definitely! Although, I don't usually get stuck when I'm painting or working on a show. When I get stuck on something, 9 times out of 10 it is when I'm writing. I think it's probably that very fact that kept my from listing writing as one of my creative passions. I really enjoy it, and at times I absolutely love it and can get lost in my writing, but the struggles I face when I write, and my limited free time, keep me from doing it very often. I have yet to find a consistent way to push through my writer's block when it pops up (other than to stop and come back to my writing later), but as things settle down in the next few months I am hoping to make writing a daily habit. Hopefully once I do that I will find a way to push through my blocks.

 

6. How did you push past this block and get back to creating?

Fortunately, I've never been blocked so badly that taking a step back for few hours or a day did not help. I usually just need some space from the project, and then suddenly an idea comes to me in the middle of the night while I'm half asleep haha When I am away from creating for extended periods of time, it is because of a busy schedule or something else that I can't control.

 

7. What advice would you have for other creatives who afraid to create or who struggle to find time, motivation, or inspiration to create?

Keep going back. If there is something creative that you love doing, and you don't have the time you would like or you aren't always motivated, just make sure you keep going back to it. I can't personally give any great advice about being consistent or prolific or anything like that, but I do know that whether it takes a week, a month, or a year, you need to keep going back. Never give up on creating, especially if it is something you love doing. In my experience, if you love doing it, then you probably need to do it.

 

Never give up on creating, especially if it is something you love doing. (<<< click to tweet!)

 

8. Where can we find out more about you and connect with you?

 

To find out more about me, you can visit my website at byelizabethhope.com or check me out on Twitter (@byElizabethHope) or Instagram (@artistshope).

 

You can also email me at elizabeth@byelizabethhope.com. If you have questions, comments, or even just want to chat, I would love to hear from you! :)

Elizabeth Patteson