If you have a business, you probably know the importance of having a business blog. This day in age, blogs are an important component to any business.
So, why are blogs key for your biz, anyway?
- It’s a way to reach your customers. Think about it. You ideal customer is sitting at their computer, searching for that thing they are looking to buy, or a solution to their problem. They type in a few key words, and bam, there’s a page full of info. Now, if you have blog posts or multiple blog posts with the key words that address what they are searching, you are more likely to show up in their search. They click on your blog, and if it’s good, they stay on your site, clicking around and getting lost in your other blogs posts, shops, and offers. They sign up on your newsletter list and keep coming back for more.
- It gives them a chance to get to know you. This is especially important if you are in the service industry (consulting, coaching, etc.). No one wants to hire a coach or consultant who they don’t feel connect with .
- It’s the fastest way to set yourself apart as an expert and leader in your industry.
But it’s not enough to just churn out content.
The goal with your blog is not to become a content mill, unless your aiming to be a news site. You need to provide real value, engagement, and connection for your readers.
I read A LOT of blogs. I also work with entrepreneurs to help them develop better blogs for their business, so I see all the positive trends and some not-so-hot trends that really get under my skin.
Here’s my short list of tips for building a business blog you can be be proud of:
1.) Never, ever copy someone else’s work. It’s called Plagiarism and happens across the web. It even happens to Buzzfeed. Sadly, this is a trend that is happening far too much in the life/business coaching world. Make sure your words are your own.
2.) Use punctuation, please! I’ve come across several blog post from entrepreneurs whose websites are actually nice, but then I realize they use absolutely no punctuation in their posts. Your posts need to flow. Punctuation will help you make that happen.
3.) Format! Format! Format! Staring at screens (computers, smart phones, tablets) all day long, hurts your eyes. That means, people tend to scan blog posts. To help people do this, make your blog posts scannable. Use headlines to highlight the key points, create more paragraphs, utilize white space, use lists and bullet points, and use photos and create fun images.
4.) Put a little bit of “you” into every post your write. What I mean by this is that is no matter what you biz is, you can add tidbits of how you learned what you learned, glimpses into how you do something, and behind-the-scenes looks into your life.
5.) Don’t just use your blog to sell. Add value in your readers life give them info they can use. The more you give away for free, the more people will want to buy from you/work with you. I know it seems counterintuitive but when you give people lots of value just because they read your blog, they actually want to work with you more!
6.) Don’t be so formal. Forget about APA, MMA, or how you used to write when you wrote those school reports. No one wants to read something that feels too mechanical. So write like you talk so that your readers feel like you are having a conversation with them! You don’t want them to feel like they are reading a scientific paper.
7.) Write about the things that matter to you and matter to you readers. Don’t write about the topics you feel like you have to write about because it’s what everyone else is writing about. Be your own person! You’ll attract way more readers if you are your authentic unique self.
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I’ve been working on several pretty big writing projects lately. One of these projects is Love On El Camino, where Eric and I are documenting our recent two month hike across France and Spain. This project has specifically taught me that, no matter how much you love writing, or how often you write, it is always a struggle. You will face resistance throughout.
It’s easy to look at people who write often, or who are well known writers, and assume that it’s easier for them. But that’s just not the case. In fact, I just read that Elizabeth Gilbert had writers block for a full year after publishing “Eat, Pray, Love”. No one is immune to writing struggles.
No matter who you are, what you write, or how often you write, sometimes it comes naturally, and sometimes it’s like pulling teeth.
There’s no magic formula to make those struggles disappear and never return. Instead you have to make the choice to push through those blocks. Getting your writing and stories into the world is rewarding. It’s worth the pain and tears.
If you’ve found yourself struggling to write lately, here are a few of the tricks I use to tackle the struggles head on:
Turn off your distractions.
That writing is not going to happen as long as you are stalking all the friends you’ve lost contact with on Facebook. And refreshing Facebook every second, won’t lead to any ah-ah moments. My favorite tool to turn off distractions is Self-Control. Download and use it.
Block off time to write.
If you want to write on a regular basis, schedule dates/times with your laptop in your calendar. Whatever you do, don’t stand your laptop up! Write, even when you think you don’t have the words to write. Write no matter how you are feeling. One tool I love using to create a daily writing habit is Habit Forge. I especially love that you have to set a punishment for yourself if you don’t meet your goal, AND it asks you to imagine your life if you DO meet your goal. Imagine it now, writing every day = more blog posts, ebooks, newsletters, or getting the book you’ve been wanting to write for so long DONE!
Go to a coffee shop or take your laptop to a park.
Sometimes my best writing happens when I leave my house.
Get a writing buddy.
I’m currently working on an ebook for women who don’t consider themselves “outdoorsy” to get out of their comfort zone and try a new activity outside like hiking, rock climbing, skiing, etc. It all came about while I was doing my first through hike on the Camino de Santiago. I knew that it was going to be a huge undertaking, and having an accountability partner was key. That’s where my biz twin, Shannon Trindade comes in. She helps me brainstorm, expand on my ideas, and holds me accountable for the deadlines I set for myself. While I haven’t met every deadline, I’m writing a lot more with her by my side then I would without her.
Make your writing time a bit more fun by creating a playlist that you listen to while you write.
I make new playlists based on projects that I’m working on. For example, when I’m writing for Love On El Camino, I listen to the playlist that I often listened to while we were hiking. It brings me right back to how I was feeling at the time, and it makes it easier to get the words down. For my outdoor guide, I have a different playlist that pumps me up and gets me excited to write. Also, I’ve been listening to the new Angus and Julia Stone album on repeat all week while writing for other business projects I’m working on. Try listening to different genres and styles of music when you write to see how they influence you.
What’s your biggest struggle when it comes to writing? What have you done to try to face those struggles head on? Tell me in the comments below.
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If you had asked me a few years ago if I ever saw myself running my own business, I probably would have said something along the lines of:
“Are you crazy? No way! I’m not cut out for running my own business. That’s for other people, not me.”
For six years, I worked in nonprofits in DC. I even worked at one nonprofit, where I ran and taught a small business training program for immigrant and refugee women in the DC metro area. I was always inspired and in awe of the work they were doing and the sacrifices they made to follow their dreams. I loved teaching the weekly business classes and helping them brainstorm and launch their ideas. Yet, I never saw myself in the entrepreneurship roll.
At that point, I was five years into my nonprofit career, I had co-founded a nonprofit, and at 27 years of age, I was BURNED-OUT beyond belief. At the time, I didn’t even recognize it as burnout.
To top it all off, my fiancé (then boyfriend) was traveling for work more often then not, while I stayed in DC working myself into a frenzy. While he was away on a job in Australia, we realized we no longer wanted to live this way. We wanted to travel together, and I wanted to be able to go with him when he had long-term jobs in other countries.
The next 20 years of our life started unfolding before our eyes. Both of us knew, if we didn’t make a change soon, we’d end up unhappy and resenting each other.
So I started looking into teaching English overseas (again, still not thinking about starting my own business). It was in my Google searching that I came across several websites for life coaches and business coaches. As I was clicking from site to site, getting sucked into a Google vortex, it suddenly hit me, “This is it! This is what I do already. I’ve just been doing it at a nonprofit. I can start my own business doing what I already know how to do!”
The answer seemed so simple. So why I hadn’t I realized that before?
Probably because I had convinced myself that starting a business wasn’t for me.
As soon as I mentioned the idea to Eric, he excitedly proclaimed, “Yes! This is what you were meant to do. Let’s make it happen.”
It was a like a weight was lifted off my shoulders. I had found the answer I was looking for, but I didn’t know how to get from point A to B. I felt like I was drowning in a sea of information, where all I wanted to do was compare myself to others out there already doing the work and running their own business. So I hired my own life coach to help me get over some of the self-doubt I had, get an outside perspective, and hold me accountable.
The very last time I ever commuted home from my 9-5. Don’t miss those long commutes at all!
It’s now been more than two years since my realization. I’m still a long way from where I want to be with my business goals, which are constantly evolving, but I could never go back to a traditional 9-5. Through all the ups and downs, sacrifices, hard work, blood, sweat, and tears – it’s been worth it. Other than my relationship with Eric and hiking the Camino de Santiago, it’s the hardest, but one of the most rewarding things I’ve ever done in life.
So whether you’ve thought about starting a business before or you are just surfing the web searching for answers, here are 10 clues on why I think you might be ready to start your own business:
1.) You are sick and tired of living the 9-5 life. You don’t want to plan your life around your work anymore. Sure, running a business doesn’t mean working just four hours a week, but it does give you the ability to set a lot of your own hours. There are some weeks where I work 10 hours a week and some where I work 40+. But, I love having the freedom to schedule my own week.
2.) You got fired and/or you’ve been turned down from countless “dream” positions. When I lived in DC, I applied for job after job after job. Sometimes I’d go on six interviews at one organization and be told, “that’s it, you are our top pick”, and then they’d give the job to someone else- someone who was slightly more connected than I was. Or I’d be told, “we love you, but we feel you are overqualified.” I started to feel like I’d never be able to move into a position that would allow me to do things I really wanted to do.
3.) You are ready to work harder than you ever have before – as long as you are passionate about your work. Since starting my own business, I have worked harder than I ever have before. I’m not going to lie, it has been a huge responsibility and undertaking that impacts every aspect of my life.
4.) You are miserable at your current job and/or burned-out. Even though I work harder than I ever have before, I’m finally starting to get over my burnout. I personally believe, that it has a lot to do with how fulfilled I feel. I think under-fufillment leads to long lasting burnout.
5.) You are looking for some financial freedom, but you’ve capped out within your field or at your current job. This was always a struggle for me working in the nonprofit world. In two different jobs, I was hired as the Project Director, but because each time was at a nonprofit, my salary was always capped at the mid-$30,000 range. There was no room for me to move up in title or salary. I wanted to do good in the world, but I also wanted financial freedom. I’ve had to bootstrap my business, but as it grows, I’m able to do more and more, and I can see how with more financial freedom and a business model that fosters social good, you can support amazing change in the world. I love nonprofits, there is a need for them, but I now see there is also a need for businesses that do good.
6.) You have at least one supportive person in your life who believes in you, and/or you are willing to go out and find a mentor or someone to support you along the way. I’m lucky. I have some incredibly supportive friends, family, and the best fiancé in the world. What I’ve learned is, that in starting a business, support is vital. If you don’t already have at least one supportive person in your life, that is there for you during your darkest hour, and believes in you no matter what, go out and find someone, hire a coach, or get a mentor.
7.) You want to be able to live in any city, state, or country you feel like. You don’t want your job to determine where you live!
8.) You look at other people who have their own businesses, and you are inspired by them. You think it would be awesome to be able to do the same.
9.) You are ready for a roller coaster ride. You realize starting a business is no walk in the park. You know there will be days you want to quit, or that you don’t believe in your ability to build a successful business, and you are prepared to work through them.
10.) You have something you are super passionate about, and/or you see a gap or need in the market. You are ready to make time to researching and exploring the idea.
Starting a business is a huge risk. But I believe it is one worth taking.
If you think it’s something you even remotely want, I challenge you to let yourself believe it is possible. The idea of possibility inspires ideas, and once you let your mind go there, you will discover ideas you didn’t even know were there.
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For the last seven months, I worked with several clients to help them develop their writing skills, craft blog posts, create social media content, and pitch articles – all while I was falling deeper and deeper into the depths of my own dark hole of writer’s block.
Here’s a glimpse into my wordless world:
Me: “OK. Today, I’m going to write. I will write EVERY day for at least an hour, and it’s going to be awesome.”
While in the shower lathering my hair: Words are freely flowing through my mind. I mean, I’ve practically written out the entire blog post in my head. All I have to do is sit down and type it up. I think, “OK. I’ve got this!”
Sitting down at my laptop I think: Where oh where did those words go? Vanished. I have nothing to say, nothing to write. What the crap am I doing with my life?
The rest the day: I spend the remaining part of the day writing for my clients and not myself: “Why can’t I do this for my own work? Dammit.”
Then it starts over with me going to bed promising myself, tomorrow will be the day, that I finally write again.
Countless blog posts and business projects have been sucked into this black hole such as:
29 Things I Learned From My 29th Year
Death’s Ability to Transform
Why Work/Life Balance Doesn’t Actually Exist
…along many more.
I’ve learned a lot during this process. We start these negative cycles, and they feel nearly impossible to break. Nearly. What I know now is that we are our own source of biggest resistance, but it can be challenging to recognize this when we are in the thick of it.
And that’s where I was…in the thick of it all.
2013 was by far the hardest year of my life. It wore me down, beat me up, and spit me out so often, that I felt as if there was nothing left inside. I started to question EVERYTHING. Life, death, love, what I was doing, and my purpose.
Here I was, planning my dream wedding, traveling the world, and getting to do the work I loved in amazing places like the jungles of Costa Rica. I was living the life Eric and I had worked so hard to create, and yet, I felt miserable. I was lacking purpose. I felt a deep sense of loss of connection to myself and the world around me.
Then, sometime last fall, I came across this Rumi quote: “What you seek is seeking you.”
When I read those words, I felt things shift. It has since become a daily mantra for me. I often go through the day with this quote running through my mind on repeat.
“What you seek is seeking you. What you seek is seeking you. What you seek is seeking you.”
What your life looks like in a year is your choice.
Life happens and your course will change.
But you can’t sit around letting the fears and what-ifs stop you.
So, stop dreaming and take action.
Stop getting caught up in the goals and plans. Just go!
Stop comparing your life to others, wishing and waiting for more.
You will be scared at times.
You will be challenged time and time again.
You will face things you never thought you could.
All of these things will change you and cause you to look at life in new ways.
Your adventures (and mis-adventures) will make your life better.
They will make you love more deeply, see more clearly, and live more freely!
So, pick a path and see where it takes you.
P.S. – What adventure are you going to choose? Leave a comment below and let me know!
“But I don’t know what I want.”
This is one of the things I’ve been hearing a lot lately. So if you are ready for a big transformation but don’t know exactly what you want out of life, here are six ideas to help you kick start that change:
1.) Do a bit of soul searching and ask yourself what you truly want for yourself. Questions to ask: Look into your future: Where and how do you want to live? How do you want to be making money? What are you known for? Who do you surround yourself with and what types of relationships do you have?
2.) Try new things. Take a class, go to that writer’s workshop you’ve been thinking about for a while, take a cooking class, or learn a new skill. You never know what you’ll discover about yourself or where it will lead you.
3.) Survey your friends and family. Ask those closest to you to share what they think your greatest strengths are. Often times we can’t see what others see. It might spark something new in you.
4.) Look for a new job. I know in today’s economy, jobs are a precious commodity. However, a job that is unbearably miserable has negative ramifications across your life. So make a commitment to yourself to network and apply for new jobs that won’t suck your soul.
5.) Get a new hobby or turn your hobby into something more. Have a hobby that lights you up? Start selling to your friends, create a simple website, and let the world know you are open for business.
6.) Plan a mini-adventure. Sometimes we just need to escape and give ourselves a break from reality. Plan a weekend getaway, a hike, or be a tourist in your own town. Often, it is these times, when my mind is clears, that I find the answers I’ve been looking for.
If you have an idea and need a little bit of clarity/help brainstorming, sign up for my 20 minute Getaway. You’ll leave with clarity, motivation, and at least one thing you need to do in order to move forward.
P.S. – Craving more adventure? Ready to take those ideas and dreams and turn them into plans? Sign up for Zero to Adventurista, a 5-week Virtual Group Adventure for women who are ready to stop sitting on the sidelines and start living life to the fullest. Starts April 29th! Go here to learn more and sign up.
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