posted by on marketing, personal development, writing

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Monster!

I have always found great enjoyment from starting new projects. I crave the burst of inspiration and excitement that comes from embarking on a new venture. Learning something new, gaining new skills and navigating the difficult waters really fuels my internal fire. But, as the famous expression goes, “Well begin is half done.” Where I fall down is in sticking with this new endeavor after the shiny newness has worn off and it becomes another routine task. My first impulse is to set the old thing aside and reach for something else that’s all sparkly and new and calling out for my attention.

In my life as an artist I fall squarely in the process rather than product camp. I have been knitting since the first grade, and I find great enjoyment from choosing the right pattern, yarn and needles and setting off to create something fabulous. But unless it’s something small that can be completed fairly quickly such as a hat or a bag, I tend to lose interest after awhile and begin looking for another project to start. In knitting parlance a ‘UFO’ is an unfinished object, which is a WIP (work in progress) that has been abandoned. As my UFO pile began to grow I began to notice that it’s really the process of creating the thing rather than actually finishing the thing that has been getting me all excited.

Recently I have seen how this habit has crept into my working life. Now that I am self-employed I must guard my time carefully. I must choose what is the highest use of my time and focus on those things first–the things that will generate revenue and move my business forward. Since I recently added blog flipping to my business model, I have found that I am allowing myself to get bogged down in fussing over every little detail of the sites I create. I am enjoying the process of building the new sites, writing the content, creating videos, and finding photos for the blog entries. If I keep fussing over every site and saying, “Let me add just one more thing,” then I never get to finish it and the WIP quickly turns into a UFO. I created a site last fall with the intention of flipping it, but have I sold it yet?

As this all became clear to me as I lay in bed with thoughts about my newest site in development swirling around in my head I came to the startling conclusion that it’s fear that is keeping me from finishing the damn thing, listing it for sale and starting another site project. I can see that I must hug this monster taking the energy of the fear surrounding it and translate it into momentum to move me forward. It takes courage to feel the fear and act anyway. I was thinking that if I struggle with this bugaboo than there may be other people out there with UFOs languishing that just need a little kick in the pants to get them to finish it.

Today I am going to be about finishing what I have started. I will list that site I’ve been fussing over and begin again.

posted by on personal development

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Aloha Spirit!
The way we think about our lives, our approach to facing and dealing with the challenges that life brings is based upon what kind of mindset we have. Children who are raised being told that if they work hard, stay in school, and stay out of trouble then their lives will be good. The traditional path of going to school, graduating from college and then finding a ‘good job,’ is the path that many Americans have been on until recently. Since the onset of this current ‘economic downturn,’ thing has radically shifted quite unexpectedly for millions of people. Now face with job losses, loss of homes, and a complete shake-up of their lifestyle, people are being forced to find another way of approaching life. When the ground that you once stood on becomes shaky, you are forced to move to another more stable position. If your job and your lifestyle of consumption is what defined you before, and that all falls away, what remains?

Developing the mindset of abundance involves looking to the source of everything which is resident in each of us. Every human being was created in the likeness of our Creator, and a spark from that flame lives within each of us. Taking on a new, more resourceful mindset of abundance begins by acknowledging that a job is not the source of our supply, rather it is our Source that sustains us. We were all given unique gifts and talents that would serve to help us to make our way in this world and through their expression live at our highest and best.

Taking on the mindset that each of us has within us everything we need to be everything we ever wanted to be involves trust, and faith and perseverance. We must trust the guidance that we are always given. We need to have faith that our Source will sustain us as we seek to express our gifts and talents, and we need to persevere through the challenges and the storms that are a part of living on this planet.

Developing the mindset of abundance involves getting in touch with our Source and being open to what it has to teach us. It involves expressing our deepest gratitude for what we have in order to create a space for what we desire. It involves blessing ourselves and those we come in contact with in order to increase the flow of positive energy moving through us. Take a look at this short article about the ‘Aloha Spirit,’ which has detailed instructions on how to enhance your power to bless.

Reading inspiring books written by people who embody the mindset that you desire is another way to train your thinking and change your thoughts towards the things that you would like to do, be and have. So, while the world keeps spinning its tales of gloom and doom and destruction, you can stand aside and embrace the power to continue on your own path doing that which you are guided to do and creating your own abundance and peace.

posted by on freelance writing, personal development, twitter, writing

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Hmmm. What shall I write about today?
At least that’s what the little voice in my head gasped when I joined Jeff Herring’s Article Writing Marathon earlier this week. I’m a writer, and a blogger, but somehow I’ve only managed to get less than a dozen articles submitted at Ezinearticles.com. I spend a lot of time working on my sites and writing for my clients, but recently I committed myself to becoming one of my best clients and writing more articles to get the word out about my blog and to hone my skills.

While I enjoy writing a lot, I have never been a fast writer. Recently, I did some research on how to be a more productive writer and I wrote a blog post about it. I am putting some of those strategies into place, and one of my goals is to shave down the time it takes me to produce an article. I also want to continue to improve my writing skills, so joining an article writing marathon should do the trick nicely.

When I got started on this project I made a list of topics that I enjoy writing about, that I am knowledgeable about and that I can write on fairly effortlessly without needing to do a ton of research. I divided that list into sub-topics, and an idea I got from the 100 Articles in 100 Days forum is to make a mind map of each topic as I narrow the focus. I also intend to keep my eyes open for article ideas to pop into my head from my daily life. This journey can also lead me to even more topics of interest to write about.

This week I have begun each day by writing my designated article before I dive into the other writing projects that are vying for my attention. That serves to give me a big boost of energy and accomplishment to start the day off in a positive way.

We even have a hashtag on Twitter.com: #HAHD. I’ve been tweeting my progress and I’ve gotten some good encouragement from my twitter peeps.

So, in the end I will have more than just 100 articles under my belt. I will have a ton of new back links to my blog, more visibility in the search engines, more traffic–nothing but good stuff. I’m excited about my progress so far. If you join us at 100 Articles in 100 Days you can look at my profile and see my running list of articles. I will also find a way to keep my progress updated here on my blog so that my readers can observe and hold my feet to the fire if I begin to falter.

If you’re a writer, I encourage you to check out the challenge and see if it might be just the thing to breathe some new life into your writing practice.

posted by on freelance writing, Uncategorized

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Writers often labor a long time, raise procrastination to high art, and finally, when it can be denied no longer they sit down to the page or the screen and begin to write. Life holds many distractions, and unless you have luxury of a writing studio in the turret of an old mansion in the country with no telephone, Internet or clamoring children those distractions can quickly nibble away at your writing time. In this article we will look at a few useful resources that can help writers become more productive.

What is Your Current Writing Process?
When approaching a new writing project where do you start? Take the time to document your current process step by step so that you can see what you are doing now and what you might need to change. Do you try to edit yourself as you go? Separating the writing (creative process) from the editing (analytical process) can free you up to write more freely. Anne Lamott, author of Bird by Bird, encourages writers to give themselves permission to write “sh*tty first drafts,” in order to free their creative mind.

Embrace a Productivity System
Having an overall productivity system for your life and work will also help you to operate more efficiently in all areas of your life thereby freeing up more energy and time for your writing. There are several productivity systems to try. The goal is to find one that suits your style and personality. Dustin Wax of Lifehack.org has written an article about the different productivity systems and why you should adopt one.

Try a New Writing System
Writing FAST, written by Jeff Bollow, and subtitled, How to Write Anything with Lightning Speed, outlines a writing system that can help any writer write faster, and with more clarity and simplicity. Bollow presents a step by step method for generating ideas, chunking projects down, speed writing, and editing quickly.

Establish a Writing Schedule
What are your peak productive hours? For some people it might be early in the morning while the house is silent. Others might produce their best work late into the night. Look at your calendar and plan your work a week in advance. Schedule blocks of writing time during your most productive times of the day.

Delegate and Outsource
What aspects of your work can be outsourced? Take a look at the way you described your current writing process. Which tasks within that process can just as easily be done by someone else? Review your daily ‘to do’ list and select a few of those items and delegate them to someone else so that you can focus your time and attention on your writing.

Manage Distractions
Your environment will have an impact on how you work. Depending on the nature of the project you might want to write in a bustling café, or with the children and pets running in and out of the room. At other times you might need the quiet ambience that can be found in the corner of the library, or in the garden, or alone at home.

Other distractions that can hinder your productivity can be found right there on your computer. As you are writing your mind may wander a bit and before you know it, you are researching medieval hosiery on Wikipedia. Unplug your Internet cable and disable the wifi. Set a timer for the amount of time that you have allotted for this portion of the project. Pickthebrain.com blog has some great tips for eliminating the frustration that often comes with the writing experience.

In our chaotic modern world multi-tasking has become the rule of the day. In the words of E.L Doctorow, “Planning to write is not writing. Outlining…researching…talking to people about what you’re doing, none of that is writing. Writing is writing.” Unfortunately, if you want to be a good writer you must let those ideas go and learn to focus. Acquiring a laser-like focus on the task at hand will go a long way towards making you a better, more productive and satisfied writer.

posted by on personal development, Uncategorized, writing

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ideal healthy man

Writers all share the basic goal of trying to keep their butts in their chairs long enough to produce paying work. Sitting for long hours does not leave much time for exercise, and you may notice that your hips are a bit broader than they were a few months ago. In this article we will look at some creative ways that writers can raise their level of fitness even as they improve themselves as writers.

1. Make Fitness a Priority

You know that you should exercise, but who’s got the time? With so many other things competing for your attention, it’s easy to let your workout routine slip. But over time the poor habits that you have developed will begin to affect your health. Excess weight is one of the leading risk factors in several diseases. As you get older it seems like the weight just creeps up by itself. You will be amazed at how much better losing just five pounds will make you feel.

Making fitness a priority means that you must make a commitment to get healthy and stay healthy. If it feels like something you ‘should’ do, then you might avoid it. Decide it’s something you want to do, and then find a way to make it fun.

• Write about health and fitness topics. As you research the right eating and fitness plan that works for you, write an article about them. This will not only increase your knowledge on the topic, but put some cash in your pocket as well.

• If there truly are not enough hours in your day, consider getting up an hour earlier and do your workouts then.

2. Establish Healthy Eating Habits
Clear your cabinets of the junky snacks, high fat, salt and sugary products that have contributed to your weight gain. Buy more fresh fruits and vegetables; whole grains and lean meats. Drink more water and less sugary sodas and coffee. Visit the American Heart Association web site to get lots of information and free resources about planning a healthy diet.

3. Schedule in Exercise Breaks

Establish a Writing schedule that allows you to take a couple of breaks during the day for a walk, or whatever form of exercise that you choose. Your goal is to raise your heart rate and work up a bit of a sweat for at least 30 minutes each day–longer whenever you can. Visit webmd.com to find free information about finding the right exercise and fitness plans that suit your age, state of health and current fitness level.

• Get a portable media player and download some good music, podcasts about writing, or whatever topic interests you. This way you can broaden your knowledge while you build up your body.

• Keep a set of free weights near your work chair. Occasionally stop for a few moments and do a few repetitions and then get back to work.

• Try a few different yoga asanas that you can do without even getting up from your chair.

4. Set Realistic Goals
Set goals that you can achieve so that you will not get discouraged and quit when it becomes clear that you are not losing five lbs. per week. About a pound per week is realistic if you stick to a plan and are disciplined about exercise and fitness.

Integrate your writing goals with your fitness goals. You could reward yourself for completing a chapter by purchasing some new running shoes.

5. Create an Incentive
Aside from feeling healthier, and having more energy and clarity (not to mention looking better in your clothes) you need to create an incentive that will motivate you to reach your goal. Maybe a trip to an exotic location, a new outfit, a new golf club–this is a personal decision that only you can make. Choose something that will motivate you to get up earlier and stick to your plan.

6. Find a Partner
Finding a workout buddy will help keep you both motivated to stay with your exercise plan. You can encourage one another, support one another on the bad days, and challenge one another to push yourself that much farther.

7. Reward Your Progress
Build in small rewards as you begin to see progress towards your goals. Celebrate these small victories to energize yourself to keep pushing forward. Before you know it you will be looking and feeling healthy and full of boundless energy. Envision how good your new body will look when you are at your next book signing, or speaking engagement.

Finally, make sure that you maintain these new habits that you have established and you will live a healthier more satisfying and more productive life.

posted by on freelance writing, Uncategorized, writing

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Writing for a living, in the not too distant past was somewhat of an oxymoron. Before the Internet, freelance writers did not have many options. They submitted their poetry, magazine queries, and book proposals to the major magazines and publishing houses and then played the waiting game for weeks and months just to get an answer, which, far too often consisted of a rejection slip.

Thanks to the Internet there has been a revolution in the world of publishing. Add in the chilling effects of this ‘downturn’ economy that seems to have sucked the life out of almost every industry and you have the perfect storm of opportunity for writers who are ready to blaze their own trail online. In this article we will look at four methods that writers can use to work towards making a full time income from their writing.

If your big dream as a writer is to become a published author, the exposure and name recognition you receive from having a successful online writing business will only help you when it comes time to market your book.

Freelance Article Writing

If you are just getting started as an online writer, article writing is a great place to start. There are billions of web sites on the Internet and they all need fresh, relevant content to keep their readers coming back. Article writing is a great way to generate revenue quickly.

Everyone is an expert at something, so start there. Write up a batch of sample articles on topics that you feel comfortable writing about at first. There are lots of sites online with article writing tutorials, however, Jeff Herring, ‘The Article Guy’ is my favorite. Set up a blog and post your sample articles there for your prospective clients to see. Include your rates, and as you complete work for a client be sure to ask for a testimonial that you can put on your site. Social proof is very powerful.

Doing article marketing for your own site is another way to generate traffic, back links and establish you as an expert in your niche. Set up a schedule and submit a few fresh articles per week to the article directories and watch your numbers consistently rise over time. Caroline Middlebrook has a great post on her blog that addresses article marketing in depth.

Find creative ways to maximize the value of the content that you create when you write articles. Create PLR (private label rights) packs of articles that you can sell. You can read your article and record it and sell it as an audio article. Create a short video with your article and share it on youtube.com or one of the other video sites to get traffic for your blog.

Additionally, you can begin to write and sell eBooks. An eBook is really just a compilation of several articles on the same topic. You’ll have to add in transitions and make it flow, but they are not difficult to write. Always brand them with a link back to your site and they will also provide some ongoing traffic for you.

Create a Mailing List
Set up an opt-in box above the fold on your blog and offer a free subscription to your newsletter and rss feed. Consider offering a bonus gift as an incentive for subscribers. Use your newsletter to share news and information with your subscribers, and when you begin to create your own products you can introduce them to your list.

Social Networking
Set up a profile on Facebook and Twitter.com, and some of the other social media sites to gain exposure for your writing. You can also gain credibility for yourself as an author by sharing tips and resources with your followers. Participating in social networking also helps to ensure a steady stream of traffic and links to your site.

Joint Ventures
Joint ventures are an effective way to grow your list, gain new customers and develop strategic relationships with other writers or Internet marketers. Find other newsletter publishers who will promote your blog or products in their newsletter for a percentage of sales. This needs to be a win-win proposal, so provide the publisher with a free copy of your product so that they can review it and recommend it to their list.

Finally, enjoy the process. You will learn a lot about what works and what doesn’t work as you go along. Keep good records and through trial and error, you will come up with a system that works for you. Align yourself with others who have already achieved what you are working towards and get advice and guidance from them. Never stop reading and researching and expanding your knowledge base. Ultimately, success comes to those who simply hang in there and don’t give up.

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With all of this talk of a recession, and a ‘credit-crunch’ bringing with it massive job losses, there is an air of doom and gloom in the air as everyone begins tightening their belts and preserving cash wherever they can.

How has the recession affected your business? Have you been losing customers? Are your current customers spending less? I’ve been seeing lots of small business people talking about ‘recession-proofing’ their business, and I wonder if anyone is really trying any new strategies during these strange times and if they are having the desired outcome.

I am grateful that things have been holding somewhat steady around here. I have lost some clients, but I have gained new ones. I am also trying new marketing ideas such as holding teleseminars and I have some other ideas in the works as far as marketing goes.

So, I’m asking for you to share any ideas that you might have tried that are working for you to increase sales or bring in new clients during this down economy. I will share all of the ideas that I have received.

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This afternoon I hosted a teleseminar when I interviewed Kathleen Gage of Street Smarts Marketing. Here is a replay of the call:

Monetizing Your Passions

Learn how to effectively use teleseminars to make more money than ever with Kathleen Gage’s
Street Smarts Teleseminars for Money program

posted by on Uncategorized

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Leading up to my first teleseminar, Monetizing your Passions: The Truth about Making Money with Teleseminars, (Wednesday, February 4th at 1pm EST) when I will be interviewing the fabulous Kathleen Gage, Internet marketing and publicity expert, I share this guest post with you.

Kathleen Gage, Street Smarts Marketing
Holding live workshops and seminars are a great way to build a business. However due to current economic trends, the traditional methods of holding and conducting workshops make it very difficult to execute and get participation. In addition, the costs involved in getting a venue, audio visual aids and providing refreshments for the participants make it quite expensive and there are many factors that could prevent the event from being successful and profitable.

This explains why businesses are moving towards teleseminars as a way of holding workshops and training sessions. Attendees simply have to dial in to a bridge line or click onto a website URL and listen to the presentation.

The cost of holding a teleseminar is fairly reasonable and the return on investment amazing. Not only myself, but many people I know have had a profit margin of as much as 97%.

However, this didn’t happen by chance, it happened by having our systems in place.

WHY TELESEMINARS ARE SO POPULAR
Participants like them because they can join in from anywhere in the world without having to travel. If the call is recorded they can listen at their leisure.

For organizations and online businesses, teleseminars are more than just sales pitch; they provide a unique route to building a business.

You can effectively use teleseminars to demonstrate how to use a product, conduct training, hold group coaching sessions, answer questions, recruit people, or provide tips so that people get more information on the product or service you are offering. Additionally, teleseminars are great lead generators.

HAVE A PLAN IN PLACE
However, before rushing to hold a teleseminar, make sure you have a plan in place. Teleseminars are an important aspect of marketing a business. In order to promote your business and help it grow, you need to take a long-term approach. This is the only way you can build a reputation as an expert and in the process build your business.

Here’s a very simple strategy. Hold a teleseminar each month to offer help, advice and disseminate valuable information that is of interest to your current and prospective clients.

Make sure you offer valuable knowledge and insights. Once people realize the value of these teleseminars you have positioned yourself as someone they can trust and will want to do business with.

Kathleen Gage
The Street Smarts Marketer™

KathleenGage.com

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blogher 09
I am writing this post in answer to the question: “What have been the rewards and benefits of participating in the blogging community?” for Mabel’s Labels BlogHer contest.

I have been blogging since 1998–which was really before blogs were called blogs. In those days it was simply an online journal where I wrote about my life as a single mom living and working in Massachusetts. I had really wanted to create my web site over a year earlier, but I kept on getting cold feet. I was afraid of putting myself ‘out there’ and I felt vulnerable to the criticism of others. After a few months of procrastinating and reciting a litany of why I shouldn’t put up an online journal I finally just did it and brnwebgrrl was born. I rationalized that I would just not tell anyone I knew about it. I set up my first web site on the free servers at fourtune city. I simply wrote from my heart a few days a week and almost immediately started getting positive feedback. In fact, as I look back, I’ve never received any negative feedback from my online writings. I remember at one point, there was an error on my site and I lost some of my work, so I decided that it was time to get my own domain name. One of my readers was a web site designer, and she designed a site template for me in exchange for a link back to her site. I kept that blog unchanged for about nine years. Just this past fall I put my blog on a new domain and set it up using wordpress–no more coding html by hand.

During those years I met the man who would become my husband through that blog. My readers followed the progress of our relationship and when I announced our engagement, they were all happy for me. I happened to mention in one of my posts that I was going down to Crate and Barrell to fill out my bridal registry. Well imagine my surprise to discover that some of my readers had purchased wedding gifts for us through the registry! When our first child was born, we also received baby gifts, prayers and encouragement as well.

When my marriage ended in a very messy, surprise divorce a few years later, my readers prayed for me and offered their support as I dealt with the depression and pain of betrayal and getting back on my feet as a single mom again. I am still in contact with some of my readers from that early blog, including Michelle, who lives in North Carolina, who has stayed in touch with me to this day.

I also got an email once from an agent who was interested in my writing. That was very encouraging, but because of some of the drama in my life at the time I was not able to pursue that offer.

For me, the main benefits and rewards of participating in the blogging community has simply been the feeling of being a part of the blogging community. We sort of made things up as we went along in the early days. Blogs and bloggers came and went. We freely linked to each other and commented on each others blogs. We’d send emails when it had gotten to be awhile since the last time someone posted. For me blogging fills a deeply felt need to be heard. When you create a blog you create a space for dialog with the outside world. You share your words and others receive them and comment or not. You get a glimpse into the lives of the writers of the blogs you read and find things that resonate with you or not.

With the advent of paid blogging the vibe of the blogosphere has changed a quite a bit. This is my ‘working blog’ and I use this as a platform for my writing when I am working with clients for my writing services. It’s not about me, rather it’s about the many topics that I write about in my work. But I still have a place in my heart for the personal blog–the online journal that expresses an individual voice desiring to simply be heard above the noise of modern life; where the reward is the ability to be heard and validated. The benefit is being able to share that experience with other bloggers and readers.