I am a web designer and currently do some support work for a few clients. I have been doing some major re-thinking and restructuring of my business foundations and standards. The last few weeks, in particular, I’ve made a conscious effort to open my business up and let God in. This is important, so let’s keep that in mind.
I’m currently reading a 19-day devotion by Rick Warren on YouVersion. It’s titled God’s Dream for Your Life. If you do any Bible study, you know that you can read any chapter or verse 100 times but at 101 you get a crazy revelation. Right? So, I’m reading this devotion and listening to the most current podcast on Rick Warren’s site. All week, everything I touch during my Bible time feels like it’s about business. Of course, without question, I know that God is talking directly to me. All week, I have felt His presence and am working through what I’m hearing, but today…oh my goodness, today, in a nutshell, here’s what I read in the devotion.
Abraham waited 90 years for his dream to be fulfilled, Noah 120, the Israelites 40 years. The devotion talked about how sometimes waiting is by God’s design so we are prepared to move forward. He talked about delays and how we respond to them. Will we be faithful during the wait?
And this is where my business and this scripture got all rolled into one big message that I needed to hear.
One big mistake the Israelites made was fear. “The Israelites had enough faith to move out of Egypt, but they didn’t have enough faith to move into the Promised Land. They were afraid.” They were afraid that others were stronger, bigger, better and these other people were already occupying the space God promised the Israelites.
What?! How many times have I thought the exact same thing in my business? Someone else already does this bigger, better, stronger. My ah-ha today…that doesn’t matter. This is the dream and gift that God has given me. He can use this dream for His kingdom and His good. The only thing I really need to do is have faith.
To all my Christian dreamers, how often have you felt that fear and not taken a step toward fulfilling your dream? I know I have at least 100 times before.
Welcome to September! It’s September 1st and my windows are open, client files are in front of me, and my mind is on business planning and productivity. In fact, my word of the month is PRODUCTIVITY. While I know we probably aren’t done with the heat, I absolutely love when the seasons start to change, especially the change that happens from Summer to Fall. It is an invigorating time of year. Outside of weather changes, we should also start thinking about our business plans for the coming year and I wanted to share a few things that I’ve recently found and what I’m doing for my business to make sure I close 2017 and start 2018 strong.
Fall Business Planning and Productivity
The ONE Thing
I started reading The ONE Thing a few weeks ago and it is amazing. This is practical advice that anyone can use in either their business or their personal life. I recommend using it in both. We all think we can multitask but time has taught me that that is a myth. I can do multiple things at one time, but if I’m not giving something 100% of my attention, I’m not going to be successful with it. Now, I’m not saying you can’t run multiple businesses or target multiple areas in your business. What I am saying is spend quality time on each of them individually so you are giving those things 100% of your attention. It comes down to focus. That’s my plan.
I have tried my fair share of planners and I have found parts of each of them super-useful. After reading The ONE Thing, I knew I needed to get serious about planning my life and business. That’s when I found Productivity Flourishing and the Momentum Planners. Side note…I found them through a Facebook ad, so yeah, those things do work if you’re targeting correctly. 🙂
In all fairness, I’ve just started using them but I am seriously impressed with the way they make me think and plan my weeks, months, quarters, and years. And bonus points, they have some cool free resources — a blog planner, action item catcher, an individual project planner, productivity jumpstart pages — some really awesome stuff. I am only going to be using the Momentum Planners for my business.
For my personal goals, I’m sticking with my ARC planner. It’s just too easy for me to add and remove functionality as I need it, working it as a planner and bullet journal and keeping the creativity piece alive.
Time & Freedom LIVE!
The last thing I wanted to share today is certainly not the least. I am talking about a kick-ass 3-day event called Time & Freedom LIVE! happening October 26-28. I will be at this event as part of the team, but even if I wasn’t, I would plan to be there. I am super-excited to hear each and every one of these speakers. The topic is Content Marketing & Strategy for Thought Leaders and the speaker line up is crazy good.
This event is not your normal 3-day event. They are going to be talking about content and storytelling yes, but also about health and wellness, adding travel into your business, and tons of other topics. And, I’m going to be straight here — some of what you’ll hear you might consider a little “woo”. Trust me when I say, that is not normally where I come from but it is all good here. These peeps are awesome and they know their sh*t. You will walk away with great tools to use in your business and a plan for 2018.
I didn’t even mention the beautiful location, Crystal Springs Resort. This event is educational but with a retreat atmosphere. Seriously, we are talking about Time & Freedom here. When I’m not learning and working, you will find me on the beautiful grounds communing with nature or in the pool. Eeeekkk, I cannot wait to see the fall colors in all their glory. Check out more about Time & Freedom LIVE!
There you have it. I am wrapping up 2017 with an emphasis on productivity, goal setting, and Time & Freedom. Planning all of this ahead of time will help ensure that I roll into the new year with a plan and a purpose.
Creating an effective content library should be one of the foundational elements when building your business. Yet, many business owners don’t keep a content library at all. The go-to method when we’re creating any type of content or working on our website is to just get it done, get it out. That is great in the short term but isn’t a good business practice in the long run. I can almost guarantee that all of that fabulous content you create will eventually become overwhelming if it’s not tracked. Everything you do from the courses you create to your Facebook Live videos to your website content needs to be put in your content library.
Why Should You Keep a Content Library?
You know the real estate motto…location, location, location. With a content library, it’s more like planning, planning, planning.
1. It makes good business sense. If you’re working with an editorial calendar, knowing what you have to repurpose helps you make good, strategic marketing decisions and helps you get away from the “spray and pray” marketing method. If you don’t have a good handle on what you should be talking about and how to bring value to your audience, once you lay out your current content, you may see a strong pattern emerge and can determine what is working and what isn’t.
2. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve heard someone say that while they were adding content to their website they lost their work and had to start over. They were editing on the fly. I know that sounds easy in the moment, but when that work gets lost it is super-frustrating and a huge waste of valuable time. Planning out your content ahead of time in a separate document gives you the advantage of drafting, fine-tuning, choosing keywords, and then organizing it into your site.
3. We all post on third party apps and platforms, and in most cases, those platforms are solid companies. But sh*t happens. We can never really know for sure how stable a platform is or how secure our website or hosting is. If you happen to lose your posts or your website goes down, knowing you have all of that content can give you some peace of mind during the rebuilding process.
What to Consider When Creating Your Library
For a small business, a great place to start is with an Excel or Google spreadsheet, or a platform like Airtable. One advantage with Airtable is that you can attach a copy of the document to the spreadsheet. (Plus, Airtable has some cool features you can use to make your spreadsheets pretty snazzy.)
You can download a copy of a basic content library in Excel by clicking the link below, or you can create your own. Below are a few of the headings you may want to consider including.
DOWNLOAD A CONTENT LIBRARY TEMPLATE
- Category or Focus: What is the focus of the piece? If you use categories in your business, what category would this piece go in? For my business, my primary categories and business focus are WordPress and Digital Identity. The content I create will most likely fall into one of these primary categories.
- Type of Content: Is the content a video, a blog post, an ebook, a course, a white paper?
- Description: Create a brief description of what the piece is about. You might include the topic or note whether it was an interview and who your guest was. Track whatever you can to make it easy for you or a team member to quickly determine what the piece is about.
- URL or Location: Note the URL if you have a video on YouTube or you have courses in Teachable or a similar platform. If you use Google Drive or Dropbox, grab the URL of the document or note where it is stored. It could look something like this — Dropbox/FolderName/FileName. I recommend keeping all of your content in the same place whenever possible.
- Where Has It Been Shared/How Was It Used: Was it a blog post? Was it a content upgrade in your blog post? Was it a Facebook Live? Was it a guest post on another website?
- Internal Use or Downloadable: Note in your spreadsheet whether the content is just for internal use or if it is made available for your audience to download. Your web content is a great example of internal use, however, ebooks, courses, white papers, etc. are for public consumption.
If you don’t have a document started, it could take a little bit of work to get caught up, but it is definitely worth the time. When you start a content library and keep it updated, you will be able to reuse content in a more strategic way in your marketing, and you’ll always have the peace of mind that your best work won’t be lost forever.
I just returned from Ignite, an incredible 3-day event in Park City, Utah. I attended this event with a client to get a little behind the scenes know-how for her upcoming event. That I definitely got, but I also had a ton of ah-ha moments; a few that I want to share. Some are new things, some are reminders of things forgotten, but all have had an impact on my work since I returned.
My Biggest Take-Aways From Ignite
1. I am forever curious and learning new things. Over the last 10+ years, I’ve learned that in everything there are gold nuggets for me. I don’t need to implement 100% of a training or webinar, or think that it’s the only way. This event was no different. The first few days there was a ton of content that I wasn’t familiar with, and honestly, some of it didn’t naturally fall in my comfort zone. I was reminded to look for the bits and pieces of new knowledge that I can implement into my business. I now have new tools to expand myself and my business, and I’m excited about that.
2. I work at home. It is very easy to get in a rut or let the work and life lines blur together. I was reminded that I need to step away more often and enjoy the company of other people — in person. Spending a few days out from behind my laptop was energizing.
3. A topic that came back to me day after day was trusting myself. I was reminded that I need to trust myself in all areas of my business and life. Period.
4. While it was affirmed that I need to get out more, I was also reminded that I’m a social introvert. I loved the energy in the room but still needed time to myself to decompress.
5. I was reminded that the space I choose to work in truly affects my work.
6. I learned that I don’t dislike flying as much as I thought I did, but it can be exhausting. Side note — I am a confirmed East Coast girl.
7. I learned that after busting my butt all day, a hot tub, shower, and bed feel amazing.
I pushed myself way outside my comfort zone to attend this event and I am so, so thankful that I did. Whether it came through gentle reminders or new lessons, I came back to my office knowing that I have everything I need to blow the doors off this business. And I intend to do just that.
A few months ago we talked about how much your business is worth to you. I’m going to ask you again…no, beg you…please stop thinking about the dollar signs in areas of your business where critical thinking skills matter. Over the last few days, I’ve gotten a few emails from a friend and colleague who works on a team. Her client is switching to Ontraport. That makes me so freakin’ happy. Ontraport is amazing to work in. But, the email said she was having her “$15 an hour VA” enter her contacts without tags, and she was wondering if this was going to create a problem? Hell yeah, it’s going to be a problem. It’s not going to be a critical problem, but as far as time management and efficiency, yes, it is a problem.
Here’s the thing, big picture thinking is critical to your business. I was away this past weekend with a client and her team. She also happens to be my coach and asked us to write down 20 things that we do really well. One item on my list was that I’m a big picture thinker. I love planning and then doing the detail work to connect the dots. That’s why I love Ontraport so much.
Critical Thinking Skills Matter
You can always find someone to enter contacts, but if you’re using a high-end system like Ontraport, I can guarantee you that if you haven’t thought through the process of tagging to segment that list, and are having the tagging done when those contacts are entered, you are going to pay more money in the end having someone else fix it. The person doing that work needs to be a critical thinker. Where did those contacts come from? Have they made past purchases? What are they interested in that you offer? Have they attended an event you held or sponsored? Without considering at least some of these factors, your only options are to send everyone your emails and put sequencing in place for click-throughs — basically, you’re still doing the spray and pray method of marketing — or you are going to end up paying someone to go back through your list and manually tag people.
Ontraport is designed to make your business automation as easy as possible. And they do a damn good job of it. You, or someone on your team, needs to know the programs you’re using or have time to really dig in and learn them. Your business needs someone who thinks through the process from a customer perspective, considers what they need, and can implement your systems with the big picture in mind.
If you know me, you know that I am a Google fan. I run my business with Google for Work and I love the way everything works so well together. Now, if you have multiple Gmail accounts you need to toggle between them. Not difficult, but not super-efficient either.
Enter Shift. I put myself on the waiting list a while ago and checked back every now and then. Yesterday I got the email. It was time! I was so excited. I added all three of my Gmail accounts, and I had high hopes that this would solve a big Gmail problem. The interface is fabulous for switching between accounts. Everything is right there; mail, calendars, documents. I read the mail in all three of my accounts without ever leaving the application. It was awesome!
Then…I composed a new email and my hope vanished. That’s when I realized that all of my chrome extensions wouldn’t play into this application. No Wisestamp email signature, no Todoist or Asana extensions. All of that seamless productivity not available. I have to admit, I was a little disappointed. I can’t sacrifice the productivity I get with the Chrome extensions for the ease of switching email accounts.
Will I delete Shift? Not yet. There may be times when it’s more convenient to just check my email all in one place without worrying about “doing” something with it. We’ll see.
If you haven’t checked out Shift yet, definitely do. It might be great for your situation. If you have tried it, what did you think?