I feel as if I have hit a stride with the tasks I try to accomplish each week, except with marketing perhaps. For example, I am now trying to write 2 posts a week--one topic specific (titled Blog on homepage) and one journal entry (titled Journal on homepage). For the last 2 weeks, I have met this goal.
So, there's something to celebrate!
I do worry, however, if I ever get any speaking gigs will I be able to maintain this rate of writing and work around 15 hours each week, which is one of my main priorities in this season of life. (Just like me to be worrying about something that has not even happened yet. Praying about that!)
Training Myself to Write Faster
Picture Rocky Balboa as he runs up the steps in his gray jogging suit and sweat-covered self. Picture Rocky Balboa as he races Apollo on the beach. Both running as fast as they can. Picture Rocky Balboa as he lifts up Pauli and the crew in a wooden cart (meant to be pulled by horses!).
Now, picture me. Lifting my computer (bicep and back work) and disconnecting it from the charger (wrist work). The wetness soaking my collar is from the water I spilled as I tried to drink and type simultaneously.
Basically, Rocky and I are one in the same--we both love to train in gray sweat pants. :) And, we both have significant reasons for training so hard. He wants and needs to win! I want and need to write blog posts faster.
With aiming to write 2 posts a week, work only 15 hours, and do business tasks other than just write during that time, my speed must increase.
For those of you writers (or aspiring to be), here are some tips I am trying.
1.) Race. If you are competitive (remember I am Rocky!), you will like this part of training. Michael Hyatt, in his book Platform, tells how he challenges himself to write a post in 70 minutes. He sets a timer and tries to beat it. I am using his tip with this post. I have 30 minutes left to finish writing and revise.
2.) Revise and edit at the end. This strategy is so tough for me, but it works. For some reason, I love to go back over (and over and over again) what I have previously written before I continue writing anything else. I am going to be honest here with myself and with you. This is an avoidance strategy to keep from doing the grueling work of putting words on paper. For me, it is much easier to revise what is already written than to develop something new. (Just caught myself going back to read all of number 2. Stopped when I caught myself!)
3.) Think about an upcoming post a day or two ahead of writing it. This is another tip from Michael Hyatt. He says that he often determines what his topic will be and thinks about it before going to bed. Michael believes that "sleeping on it" helps him to organize his thoughts better. For me, this is a toss up. Sometimes I can't go to sleep for thinking all about my side business and the posts I want to write. I am going to try this strategy a little longer to determine its importance for me.
4.) Press Publish button sooner. I am one to read, read, and read again my posts before I hit Publish. I am so afraid that there are typos or words used incorrectly. Yet, Michael Hyatt reminded me in Platform that blogs can easily be corrected if a mistake is found. That reminder has lifted lots of the perfectionism.
5.) Write less words. The jury is still out on how many words blog posts should be. I have read some experts who say the long posts (2,000 words or more) get more reads. Other experts insist that posts should be between 500-700 words. That is all our attention spans can take these days. I am long winded naturally. So, I am trying to write some of my topic-specific posts shorter. I still haven't made it down to 500 words; that may kill me. ;) Not based on scientific merit, just my personal preference, I feel that readers enjoy a mixture--some long stuff and some short. I am trying that approach for now and challenging myself to write less words with certain posts.
I have increased my speed but not to the extent that I would like. It has only been 2 weeks so I plan to keep using these strategies. (Hey, Rocky didn't get his strength from 2 weeks of workouts!) Hopefully, then I will be racing through posts as fast as Rocky chased Apollo along the beach. :)
What aspect of your business is important but taking too much time to complete? Can you think of ways to increase your productivity?
Blowin' Up Instagram
I'm blowin' it up in every sense of the phrase. I am now up to 31 followers. Yes, you read that correctly--31 followers. And, that number stands if no one unfollows me between now and posting.
Hey, you either laugh or cry. I try to choose laugh every time, a lesson my grandfather and mother taught me. Something else I chant to myself...you have to start somewhere. Unless you are a TV, movie, music, or sports star, you will not gain 10,000 followers the moment you create an Instagram account. Believe me on this one. I experienced it first hand. 31 followers, enough said.
But, I did have a big day on Thursday with Instagram. I gained 6 new followers. It seemed to be tied to a post I shared that day about my son building a rock pile and hiding his cars in there.
So, I was left wondering why that happened. I had never gained 6 followers in a day. Was my post that riveting? Was it the hashtags I used? Was it because I followed some other momma bloggers earlier that morning? Also note, that I received lots of likes on Thursday! I was on cloud nine!
Then, The Bottom Falls Out
Because I was sitting on my proverbial cloud nine, I had all kinds of courage on Friday. I used that spunk and shared a post on Instagram highlighting a blog post I recently wrote--Guilt-Free Entrepreneurs for Moms. (This was only the second time I have shared my writing on Instagram.)
Then, crickets. Nothing.
Finally, a dear friend of mine...a man...liked my Instagram share on guilt-free entrepreneurship for mothers. (Thank you, Tommy! Your kindness always warms my heart and makes me smile.)
Remember one of my mottos--you can either laugh or cry; choose laugh.
So, I laughed. I laughed that my first Like for this post (after it sat for hours on Instagram) was from a man. :)
I did eventually get a few Likes, but it didn't blow up. For a social-media scaredy cat such as me, sharing my actual work takes a lot of courage. Receiving little feedback and no excitement hurts...hurts a lot.
These questions bounced in my head. Was it a dumb post? Not creative enough or too creative? Was it a topic of no interest to others? Is Friday around lunch a bad day and time to post?
As I stated several paragraphs ago, I was busy blowin' up Instagram this week. I gained 6 whole followers. Yay! Then, I gathered the courage to share a blog post only to have it barely receive any notice. Bluh.
Yep, that's me. Blowin' up Instagram in every way this week.
Dust Myself Off
In Seth Godin's book Purple Cow, he writes, "If it was easy to be a rock star, then everyone would be one."
He is full of great lines. But, that line really stuck with me this week.
I was having a particularly low day on Saturday since my Instagram post on guilt-free entrepreneurship went over about as well as a skunk in a car.
I needed the reminded that things take time...things worth doing don't often come easily...to keep working.
A favorite quote of mine from Abraham Lincoln is, "I will study and prepare myself, and someday my chance will come." And Dave Ramsey says, "Twenty years later, you are an overnight success."
I have only been at this entrepreneur thing for about 9 months and working on this project for 7 weeks. In the scheme of life, that is a blink of an eye.
My point, I have to dust myself off. We are going to have big days when we feel we are really making progress. A few days (or moments!) later, we wonder if we will ever accomplish one of our goals. That's life, and that's business. We just have to keep at it.
I encourage you to do the same--dust yourself off. Celebrate the successes, no matter how small. Learn from the failures. Then, move on.
Rocky didn't win 'em all. He just didn't know how to quit.
Weekly Timesheet - Summary*Detailed timesheet below
Research (3 hours suggested) = 1 hour & 20 minutes
Content/Product (5 hours suggested) = 8 hours & 55 minutes
With Clients (4 hours suggested) = 0
Marketing (3 hours suggested) = 3 hours & 20 minutes
Total: 13 hours & 35 minutes
Takeaways: I am spending a lot of time writing! I am trying to get faster. For now, it is not hurting me because I don't have clients or speaking gigs. However, I need to plan for the future. Also, the Research time is a little skewed because I don't count the time I run and listen to books on my phone. Recently, I just finished Platform and started listening again to Purple Cow.
Monday - finished end-of-week post (Content/Product) for 1 hour & 40 minutes; contacted Amazon and a potential interviewee (Research) for 20 minutes; created a Pin for end-of-week post (Marketing) for 20 minutes; revised my About page and added a picture (Marketing) for 30 minutes = 2 hours & 50 minutes
Tuesday - worked on "Guilt-Free Entrepreneurship" post (Content/Product) for 1 hour; created an Instagram post (Marketing) for 10 minutes; pinned on Pinterest (Marketing) for 15 minutes = 1 hour & 25 minutes
Wednesday - cold emailed 2 women's church groups about speaking (Marketing) 1 hour & 10 minutes; posted on Instagram (Marketing) 10 minutes; Instagram research (Research) for 30 minutes; continued writing on "Guilt-Free Entrepreneurship" post (Content/Product) for 45 minutes; worked on graphics for post (Content/Product) for 30 minutes = 3 hours & 5 minutes
Thursday - posted on Instagram (Marketing) for 15 minutes; finished writing and revising--2 times because I forgot to save, Ugh! (Content/Product) for 1 hour & 30 minutes; research Instagram (Research) for 30 minutes total = 2 hours & 15 minutes
Friday - began writing "Mother's Day" post (Content/Product) for 20 minutes; wrote part of end-of-week post (Content/Product) for 1 hour & 40 minutes; tweeted about "Guilt-Free" post finished earlier this week (Marketing) for 5 minutes; shared "Guilt-Free" post on Instagram (Marketing) for 25 minutes total = 2 hours & 30 minutes
Saturday - wrote on end-of-week post (Content/Product) for 1 hour Total = 1 hour
Sunday - Continued writing end-of-week post (Content/Product) for 30 minutes Total = 30 minutes
total time = 13 hours & 35 minutes