Archives for Ask Alli
Behind the Scenes at the Today Show

Alli Worthington on The Today Show.

Here’s the video from Monday’s Today Show appearance. Last time I was on, I didn’t post anything here. (I’m sorry!)  I must have been asked a gazillion times, “Why did you not post anything about it?”

My answer was always a mumbled, “It wasn’t business related.” Which most of you said, “So? We want to hear about it.”

Well, your wish is my command!

Today we’ll do an ‘Ask Alli’ with the most common questions I’ve received when I’ve been on The Today Show.

“Did you take a selfie in the greenroom?”

No. When I’m in the greenroom I’m solely focused on looking like I’m not terrified. And no one ever uses their phones to take pictures when they are waiting backstage. Except the Housewives of Orange County, who almost scared me to death when they walked in.

At one point. the Housewives were all posing for photos in front of me as I sat in a chair trying to look casual. As they snapped pictures I leaned over and made faces. Somewhere there are lots of pictures of them with their assistants and they will notice a crazy lady making faces between them in the background. (Protip- You really should notice who you stand up in front of and start taking pictures.Heh)

“What are Kathie Lee and Hoda like off camera?”

Both times I’ve been on, they have been awesome. They are as kind, funny and as down to earth as they seem on camera. Seriously, amazing women!

“Do you get nervous?”

Alli on the Today Show (real)

Does this face look nervous? Yeah. It really does.

Yes. But I love live TV much more than having a camera crew come to my house and edit it later (like GMA did last Fall). Editing can be good and editing can be really bad.

I’ve been lucky, when Good Morning America came to my house for a segment, they were wonderful but some edits are not so kind, you just never know. Plus, Kathie Lee and Hoda are awesome, so doing a segment with them is a breeze.

I always feel like my life is flashing in front of my eyes and have no clue what I actually said until I look on Twitter or Facebook and see what y’all are saying. I often *joke* my goal is survival, it’s not completely a joke.

“Did you have time to do anything else or just fly in for the segment?”

I was there for almost 24 hours. I arrived Sunday afternoon, checked in to the hotel, and stopped by St. Patricks Cathedral for Palm Sunday and decided to go to the observation deck and watch the sunset.

If there’s ever a chance I’m likely to sit and be anxious, it’s always best for me to go do something. There’s nothing like a little Church and a great view of NYC to remind myself to stop being so focused on myself.

Palm Sunday in NYC


Here’s my favorite shot from the evening via Instagram.

I spent the rest of the evening getting coached by my media coach, Danielle Smith. Who not only helps me focus, but picks my TV outfits for me. See? Everyone needs a coach! (Thanks, D!)

The next morning, I arrived at the Today Show studios at 9 and went to hair and makeup, and then hung out in the greenroom with Jeremy Piven and did my best not to be terrified by the housewives.

Here’s my favorite photo from the trip-

Wisdom and Knowledge shall be the stability of thy times

Wisdom and knowledge shall be the stability of thy times. On the front of 30 Rock, from Isaiah 33:6.

The rest of the photos from my iPhone are here on Facebook. 

(Top Photo Credit: Thanks to Christine Caine for grabbing the picture from the show for me!)

Have more questions? Feel free to ask them in the comments!


Get Unstuck: How to Move Forward in Life

make decisions and do what you love

3 Simple Steps to Doing What You Are Meant to Do

Do you ever feel like what you are doing is nothing more than spinning your wheels in the mud? You’re putting forth a lot of effort, but you don’t seem to be moving forward.  In short, you’re stuck. Stuck like Chuck.  Maybe you’re stuck in a boring job that makes you tons of money but doesn’t give you any joy.  Maybe you’re stuck because you can’t make a decision about starting a new business, changing the focus of your current business, or doing something altogether different with your life than you have ever done before.

If you have no idea how to STOP doing what you hate and START doing what you were meant to do; if that describes you, then chances are you are entering the “Editing” phase of life?


What in the world am I talking about?  The “Editing” phase of life?  I’m talking about getting unstuck, about making decisions that will help you move forward and ninja kick stuckness in the face.  (I figured since I said, “Stuck like Chuck” I should add in a little something about ninja kicks. Because if Chuck Norris ever got stuck, that’s what he’d do! )

So why do I call it the “Editing” phase?  I read an incredible book, Start, by my good friend, Jon Acuff, and his chapter on decision making, on moving forward, on getting unstuck is something he calls “editing.”  And honestly, it’s the perfect word.

ed-it  /ˈedit/, verb-  to correct, condense, or otherwise modify

That’s what Webster has to say about editing.  But I would add this

ed-it  /ˈedit/, verb-  to course correct, taking stuff out of your life to get to the stuff you were meant to do.  (I may or may not have borrowed that from Jon.  He won’t mind.)

So I’m going to share with you my 3 Step Framework for getting unstuck and learning to make decisions that move you forward in your life, instead of sinking you deeper and deeper into the weeds.


Alli’s 3 Step Framework to Get Unstuck


1.    Make Your Stop-Doing List. Stop doing list, make good decisions,

Sometimes we know what we want to do, but we don’t know what to stop doing to get there.  (Tweet This!)

Our lives have gotten all cluttered up with things that we think we  “should” do; so much so that we can’t figure out what the things are that we were meant to do.

Read that last sentence again. Slowly.  It’s important. (I’m not kidding.  Read it again.  Slowly.)

Are you doing what you “should” do or what you were “meant” to do?  And how do you go about subtracting from the clutter in your life to get to the things you were meant to do?

Let your life be about what you are meant to do, not full of what you should do. (Tweet it!)

Deciding what to subtract from your life is one of the key components to editing.  Distractions are everywhere, waiting to lead us down the wrong path.


The best way to edit is to make a list of the things in your life that you want/need to stop doing.

  • What is sucking the life right out of you?
  • What is keeping you from reaching your goals?

But be careful with this list.  You have to be holistic and think about everything going on in your life.  You want to solve the right problem and stop doing the things that are keeping you from moving forward with your business and life goals.  As my grandma used to say, “Don’t throw the baby out with the bathwater!”


(Side story, I have a friend  who had decided he was miserably married and was planning to divorce his wife.  But then he made his “stop doing” list and realized he hated his job.  He was miserable doing what he was doing and it was just carrying over into his married life.  He discovered he was a people person and he was stuck doing a job that involved ZERO personal interaction with others.  Once he realized that and made that change, everything in his life became exponentially better.  He solved the right problem and is very happily married to this day.)


2.    Define What You Are Meant to Do

A guy named Rick Warren wrote a book called, The Purpose Driven Life.  The main point of the book is that every person on this earth was created to do something significant.   He says in the book, “you’ll know what you were created to do when you are doing it.”

His point is that when you are doing what you love, you know it.  When you are doing what you are passionate about, you know it.  When you are doing what you were made to do, you know it.

You’ll know what you were created to do because it brings you to life instead of sucking the life out of you. (Tweet This!)

But because I like to be all scientific and geeky, I also totally love this book by Marcus Buckingham.  In it, Buckingham uses a scientifically designed test to determine one’s strengths.  He says that we each have strengths, a combination of our natural talents, our skills, and our life experiences.  He proposes that if we focus on maximizing our strengths, and using them to do what we were created to do, we are an unstoppable force (sort of like Chuck Norris. I’m on a (roundhouse) kick today).


Invest Time in Yourself & Do this exercise-

So how do you define what you were created to do?  Here are a few questions to ask yourself:

(No seriously, go get a pen and paper and do this. No skimming. Invest your time and energy in yourself for a few minutes.)

a.     If money were no object, what would you like to do as your vocation?

b.     What is something that energizes you when you do it? (cranks your tractor, revs your engine, gets you going?)

c.      What are some jobs you’ve had in the past that you loved and what did you love about them?

d.     What do other people say you are good at? (We tend to de-emphasize things we are good at because they come easy to us.)


Do any of these things stir a passion in you and make you think, “You know what?   I CAN do that.  It’s what I was meant to do.”


3.    Now Do It!

Do something. Take a first step.  A calculated first step, not a giant leap into the deep end.

And then take another one,

…and another one,

…and another one.

And as you continue to edit things, you’ll find you won’t be stuck anymore.



If you take the time to really go through these three steps, not half-heartedly, but with real life-change in mind, you’ll not only be unstuck, you’ll find a new level of happiness.

Too often we assume we ‘know things already’, and don’t really put forth the effort to actually implement the concepts and then wonder why nothing ever changes.

Don’t let that be you. 


What should you stop doing? WHAT’S ON YOUR LIST?

What is something you need to stop doing in order to get to the something awesome you were meant to do?

Share it here and take the first step of roundhouse kicking your life forward. (Ouch, that sounds a little painful)


10 Things You Must Do When You Own Your Own Business
Alli, 10 Things You Must Do When You have Your Own Business
     I’m a freelancer.  I work from home and my business is 100% based on client services.  I love the “work” part of my job, but what I don’t really enjoy is my interaction with my clients (that sounds bad, but let me explain). 
    I often feel like my clients think I am at their disposal 24/7.  They always want something for free, or at a discount. They want me to live up to my end of the contract, but they don’t want to live up to theirs . . . I could go on and on, but I think you get the point.  How do I build and keep a healthy relationship with my clients?”   - Drew


Drew, thanks for your great question today.  It sounds like your clients are stressing you out, and that’s no way to spend life!  One of my goals is not only to help you build the business of your dreams, but it’s also to help you live a life of meaning, so this question hits on both of those topics. Soul sucking client relationships are not worth it!


Top 10 Things You Must Do When You Own Your Own Business

1. Do You Look Like a Professional or Hobbyist?

My first and best advice is to stop calling yourself a “freelancer.”  For some reason, people don’t take that word very seriously.  “I’m a freelancer,” sounds like “I don’t have a real job so I’m doing this on the side until I find one.” (Sorry, shooting straight from the hip today!)

When you refer to what you do professionally, I recommend saying, “I’m a professional writer/photographer/graphic designer/consultant, etc.”   Or you could say, “I own a professional graphic design business, etc.”

The great thing about saying it this way is that it establishes right away that you are a professional, not a hobbyist.  So, down the road when these people hire you, they know you are the real deal.


2. You Must Manage Expectations

The next step toward establishing a healthy client relationship is to manage expectations from the get-go.  You have to make everything clear up front.


3. Set Business hours

You should have some.  Yes, being a solopreneur or small business owner often means long hours, but everyone needs a day of rest.  Giving your client set hours of operation says, “This is a real business.”  It also allows you to structure your work day into work rhythms that allow you maximum productivity.


4. Define Time for Appointments and Meetings

Let your clients know that you are available for appointments and meetings, but not always available for phone calls.  Phone calls, excessive emails and other forms of messaging and meetings can waste your precious time and focus. Remember how you have to be ruthless with your time and focus?

When your availability is not clearly defined, it is only natural that clients will behave as if you are on call 24/7. This isn’t because your clients are jerks, it’s because they don’t know what you don’t tell them. Of course clients will try to use as much of your time as possible! You are awesome; you make things better!


5. You Need Enough Lead Time. Tell Your Clients!

Communicating how many days in advance you need project details before you can complete them (lead time) is such a valuable piece of early communication for some professions (especially graphic designers). Often clients do not understand that by rushing their projects through, you are setting aside other projects and deadlines.


6. Refund Policies Keep Awkward Situations at Bay

Having a policy related to refunds for services rendered is very important.  Communicating this in advance is always a great idea.


7. Define in Advance How Contract Termination Works

For any number of reasons, contracts get interrupted.  Both parties need to understand from the very beginning what will happen when/if they terminate the contract early.

And while we are talking about contracts, let’s talk a little bit about reading them. It’s important to have a contract, but just because something is IN the contract, doesn’t mean your client has read it, so be sure your client understands the details of your work together.

I can’t tell you how many times I’ve said, “As it says in the contract blah blah blah,” and then hear that the other party didn’t actually read all of the contract. As I have said before, many people are skimmers. Prepare for this so your brain doesn’t explode out of sheer frustration down the road.


8. Be a Good Business Person (Newsflash!) 

I know this might be surprising to some of you, but sometimes clients hire disreputable people.  And once that happens to them, they are forever wary of other professional contractors.

Setting a very positive tone early on with your client will do wonders for their trust level with you.  And a trusting client is a happy client.


9. Be Dependable and Thoughtful

Do what you say you are going to do when you say you are going to do it. If something happens (because life happens, right?) and you can not do what you said you were going to do when you said you would do it, be upfront with your client. If you have to reschedule a call because your dishwasher exploded, don’t be cagey just be honest. People can sniff out cagey in a heartbeat.


10. Give Clients the Benefit of the Doubt

Sometimes, we as entrepreneurs, tend to think our clients are being difficult, when in reality it’s that they just don’t understand what they are asking for.  Giving your clients the benefit of the doubt (giving them your trust) will give you a more positive impression of them, which will translate to them having a more positive impression of you.

Never assume your client (or anyone else for that matter) knows what to do, why you do what you do, or how things should work. Over communicate everything and explain the whys and hows. You’ll quickly see that ‘difficult people’ magically become dream clients.


Bonus:  Be “For” Them Do what you love in the service of those who love what you do. via AlliWorthington

Whatever you do, whether you are a photographer, a designer, writer, web developer, Consultant, etc., whatever service you provide, you should be “for” your clients.  Have the mindset that their success is your success.

You started your business to serve others by doing what you love. Be it consulting, graphic design, photography or accounting- your unique gift combined with your desire to provide a service to others is important.

As a service professional, your work is focused on serving others. As my friend and Leadership coach, Steve Farber says, “Do what you love in the service of those who love what you do.

It isn’t rocket science. Being a good business person comes down to being a good human and treating others right. (Tweet this!)


Your Turn:

So what are some client frustrations you’ve experienced, and how did you handle them?  What lessons have you learned?

We learn best from each other because often we’re experiencing  the *exact things* others have already experienced.


Stop Wasting Your Time

how to spend time on the right things

Urgency is a terrible tyrant.  It demands that you give it 100% of your attention 100% of the time. (tweet it!)

Are you living by the tyranny of the urgent; constantly meeting the demands of both your schedule and your inbox as things pop up? Do you wish you had a more organized way to accomplish the tasks you have at hand, instead of responding to everything in crisis management mode? If your to do list has you crawling back in bed and pulling the covers over your head, then it’s time to tame your to do list, and put an organizational system in place that will rock your world. (In a good way!)

You have to take three important steps to get organized.

1. Determine Your Distractions

2. Design Your Day

3. Develop Your Toolkit


1. Determine Your Distractions

What distracts you?  Is it big projects looming over you or is it small daily tasks like email, social media, text messages, etc.?  Understanding what is distracting you requires you to take stock in what you must accomplish, what you hope to accomplish and even who you will spend your time with.


Two quick questions I ask myself when determining how I spend my time:

Question 1. “Will this activity help me get closer to my goal of   (fill in your answer here*)?”

 *Examples: helping small business owners, buying that hot air balloon, becoming a dolphin trainer, landing that spokesperson gig, having more keynote speaking opportunities… What’s your goal?

Make sure you spend time doing things that actually get you closer to that goal. Think about how you spend your time on an average day. Is your time spent on things that will get you closer to your goal?

Your resources and your energy are not unlimited. Focus them only on things that help you achieve your goals. (Tweet it!)

Question 2. “Will spending my energy focused on this get me closer to this goal?”

And you have to ask yourself these questions about people too.  Some people have some crazy drama in their lives/businesses that you just don’t need to invite into yours.

My bonus tip for you in this area comes from David Alan, master organizational guru, who teaches how to get things done, who says that the reason we stress out (and are distracted by) things in our life is that we haven’t figured out a way to store that data until we need it.  Have a way to record the things that are stealing your attention (projects that are due, emails you don’t want to forget to send, etc.) I use  Evernote to keep up with my daily notes.

2. Design Your Day

I’ve talked about this before, so I won’t go into too much depth here, but we each have different levels of productivity and brain power at different times of the day.  I’m a night owl.  I do my *real creating* later at night.  You might be a morning person like my friend Jon Acuff who belongs to a club called the 5a.m. Club. (Seriously!) You have to design your day by what works for you.

Jeff Goins, Professional Writer, wrote this just yesterday, Today, I took Tim Ferriss’s advice and set a goal of one task for the day that I knew I needed to finish. This was something that if I didn’t do it, I would’ve felt like I wasted my day. Instead of messing around with trivial tasks like checking email, I just went right to it and tried to knock it out as quickly as possible. Just completed it. Feel great and have hours to spare! I’m not the world’s most productive person, so this feels pretty awesome.”

Jeff found what worked for him, according to his own personal productivity rhythm. You have to do the same.

3. Develop a System to Get Things Done

There are so many organizational tools out there right now that it’s impossible to tell you what they all are.  Because life and business needs are always changing, and tech apps are getting more awesome by the day, I often switch out items in my toolkit. So I’ve narrowed it down to the systems I personally use and love right now.

  • I use my “Reminders” app built into Apple products. I type in what I need to do that day and it hassles me until I do it. The reminders pop up on my iPhone and on my laptop at specific times to keep me on track. Say I didn’t get to one task at the end of the day? I add it to my reminders to wrap up the task first thing on the next day. Boom. Done.
  • I live by Basecamp to work with my team. Our needs outgrew Basecamp’s functionality and needed a more robust management option, we tried Teaambox, but went back to the simplicity of Basecamp.
  • I use Evernote to save articles that I want to use as research as well as a gazillion other things. (I keep hearing that I need to do an Evernote guide as a free resource here on the site. Your wish is my command. I’m working on it!)
  • I use Pocket to save random (non-work) articles to read after work is done or on the weekend. How else am I going to remember I wanted to watch that Sloth video? I can’t be watching it during the day! :)
  • I use Twitter lists and never look at the ‘Home Feed’ on Twitter. I can easily keep up with friends, business contacts, clients I work with, the latest news and more. I keep all my Twitter lists private to keep from hurting anyone’s feelings.


Be ruthless with your time and focus


Be ruthless with your time and focus and guard it like it’s priceless, because it is.  (Tweet this!)

Very often the things in our lives and businesses that distract us are problems that we spend way too much time focusing on.  They keep us from starting things we should start because we are so focused on the wrong things.  So ever so often I have an exercise I do that I like to call the “Be Ruthless” exercise (which I know sounds completely out of character for me to say. But sometimes you just have to be ruthless! This is your life and there’s no time to waste on unnecessary crazy!)


Here’s the exercise:

1. Make a list of everything you are doing.

2. Add to that list everything you’d like to start doing.

3. Place a star by anything on your list that you know you should stop doing but are afraid to stop (for any number of reasons.)


Now think about being ruthless with your time.  What would it take you to stop doing what you know you need to stop doing?  The answer to this question will do so much to move you forward, get you unstuck, and help you focus and not get distracted by things that you need to stop doing.


How do you do it?


Answer one, some or all of these:

What would it take you to stop doing what you need to stop so you can start doing the things you were created to do?

What do you need to stop doing to make time for what you could be doing?

What is your tip for deciding how to spend your time? Do you have a filter that you judge activities or what to spend your energy on?


Why People Aren’t Reading Your Blog

Dear Alli, How to build traffic on your blog
I started a blog 2 years ago, and from what I’ve been told, it’s really good, but I just don’t seem to be building my readership.  I had a growth surge initially, but now I just seem to have plateaued. I’m frustrated because I see other blogs growing but not mine, so I’m hoping you can help.  How do I get people to read my blog? – Jen C.

Jen, thank you for being so transparent with me about being discouraged.  That’s a rough place to be, and it took a lot of courage for you to ask your question in such a public way.  That tells me you’re a go-getter, so I’m excited to help you.

I also want to encourage you that your question is a very common question among bloggers, even people who have been blogging for years.  The good news is that I can definitely help you.

I’m going to give you a step-by-step process to growing your readership, but I want to be really sure that you know that any process is only as good as the effort you put into it.  So you’re going to have to do some work to get the results you want (but I know you’ve got what it takes, so I’m not worried.)

Another thing about step-by-step approaches is that you have to actually go in order
(step-by-step . . . get it?) :)

I love how Danny Iny says it in his book “Engagement from Scratch”

 “Start at the beginning, then work your way up one step at a time . . . Try to run before you learn to walk, and you’ll never stop crawling.”

Step One: Identify Your Audience

The first step to anything you write is knowing who is going to read it. If you don’t know who is going to read your blog, then how can you know what to write? In my recent post “5 Smart Ways to *Really * Build a Killer Online Platform”  I said there’s a reason so much is written about target markets, niches, & customer profiles . . . because they matter.

Here’s a really simple exercise (but super helpful if you actually do it!) How to find your target audience

Describe (in words) what your audience already looks like. (This is different than a target market- this is who is ALREADY reading you.) Include age, socioeconomic status, lifestyle, marital status, etc.  Get really specific.  If you’re an artist, then you could even draw them (full disclosure, I’m a terrible draw-er (?), and I drew my little stick figure audience member). The more you know about your audience, the better you’ll be able to find and connect with them.

No, seriously, don’t just read this and think, “That’s a good idea. I don’t need to *really* do that.”

You do. Yes, you. This article isn’t going anywhere. Go get a piece of paper and a pen and do. the. work.

It’s the little things like this that actually do matter. I promise.

Want to see what my business coaching client profile looks like? I’ll show you-

Here’s an example of my customer profile: (I’m getting real personal today!)
I coach online business owners who have found success, some have hit a growth plateau and don’t know how to build systems to scale their business. (I built this profile from the recurring qualities I saw most often.) They have children, are married or divorced, 35-55, have no wiggle room and no time to waste, believe that their work is doing good in the world, they are go-getters and motivated. They all had a dream to help others and  live life on their own terms.

Don’t even think of reading more until you write down your audience profile. I’ll wait. :)

Step Two:  What Does Your Audience Want to Hear?

The #1 rule of writing online is answering the reader’s question, “What’s in it for me?” (tweet this) Whats in it for me?

What is in it for your readers?

1. Look at your analytics and see what posts had the most traffic. 

Does your audience love posts about how to negotiate contracts but hate posts about your kids (or vice-versa)? Take a hint.

2. Look at your sharing plug-ins and see what posts were shared most. 

(Pro Tip- If you have the option for your readers to share on 89 million services but they all use 3- keep it simple. Remove the useless options. It’s clutter.)

Let common sense be your content guide. Write more about what your readers want to read and less of what they don’t. (tweet this)

3. The next step is to determine what they want and “need” to hear.

Think of the difference between “want” and “need” like the difference between pain relievers and vitamins.  Imagine this: Your readers have a headache. When they are in pain, they “want” pain relief.  It’s all they can think about.  They want their pain relieved.  But when they are well, and are no longer thinking about their pain, they “need” vitamins.  Vitamins keep them energized and pointed in the right direction.

4. Your readers want relief from their pain. 

What gives them pain? The hassle of how to code an app? The pain of not knowing how to properly install a ceiling fan? Find the pain points and give them some relief!

5. Your readers need vitamins.

Once you have continually provided your readers with pain relief, start giving them vitamins.  Start writing about other things that are interesting to them as well.  When you have established that you are an authority on one topic, they’ll tend to trust you in other areas as well.

Step Three: Produce Insanely Spectacular Content Content is not kind

Content is not king. Incredible content is all over the web. The Internet is a magical place where the exceptional is now the norm. In five minutes you can learn how porcupines mate (very carefully), watch bird’s-eye-view videos of people jumping from mountain cliffs with GoPros on their heads, and instantly send money to pay for a well in Uganda (Boom. Helped change a village for the better!).

I’m trying to tell you that people have options. Great content is just the beginning. Be it text, video, audio, illustration, photography, smoke signals- your content has to be awesome.

(Sidenote- I’m assuming your site is well laid out and does not suck.)

 A Word or Two About Great Content

If your content doesn’t have any value to your readers, then they aren’t coming back. (tweet this)   ESPECIALLY IN THE BEGINNING.  In the beginning, your content has to be stellar.   But once you’ve established yourself as a trusted resource and authority (because you alleviated their pain) and you continue to provide great content- you are on your way to a massive audience build.

What makes content awesome you ask? (I’m so pleased you did!)

  • It’s relevant to your people
  • It’s helpful
  • It’s formatted for the web (instead of formatted like your old college term papers)
  • It conveys your unique wisdom, humor and perspective
  • It helps position you and your brand/small business for success that is in line with your long term business goals. (I’m talking to you consultants, product creators, future authors, and 99% of the world- you need to pay attention to this!)

Jen, You’ve been blogging for 28 years in Internet time. Step back and look at your site and ask yourself what your readers want more of. When you give it to them, it’s then your audience will multiply! You can do this. 

Here’s a super simple wrap up of today’s points for you:

1. See what works

Do more of what is working for the people who love what you do

2. Decide how to provide real take away to your people

Write awesome stuff that is of value for the people who love what you do


Final Thoughts- (Buckle up!)

This is the part where you may wonder why I didn’t mention promoting your content. Many sites that offer online business advice would focus on using Pinterest, Instagram or any other social media service. Not this one.

Social sites are full of people screaming, “COME LOOK AT WHAT I WROTE!” without any real thought of what people actually want to read. If you want readers, you write for them. If you don’t want to write what people want, then stop promoting your online musings or get a journal. For Real. Otherwise you will feel hurt that more people aren’t interested in your content. And when writers (subconsciously) let their self worth get tied to the feedback they receive on their sites- it’s not healthy.

Here’s the deal- Promoting yourself and your content is a crucial part of marketing your work but if your content isn’t stellar; if you don’t know who you are writing for; and you aren’t relieving their pain, then all the shiny social sharing objects in the world won’t work.

(steps off her soapbox)

YOUR TURN It's your turn

There are a lot of brilliant, successful bloggers out there reading this today.  I know you’ve encountered Jen’s problem at some point.

Leave a comment below and share what has worked (and what hasn’t worked) for you when building your readership.

What tips can you share?



How Do I Avoid Getting Distracted? It’s Killing My Business!

Alli, I know this may sound like a dumb question, but how do I avoid getting distracted? It’s killing my business.  I mean, I know what I want to do with my business, I just seem to have trouble moving forward from what I want to do to actually getting stuff accomplished. Any tips?  (And please don’t say “get organized.” that’s what everyone says!) – Daniel

Daniel, that makes me laugh a little because the first thing I thought of saying was, “Get Organized.”  (So, I hope you appreciate my restraint.) Build Systems for your success and limit distrations by Alli

Truth is, I think your question is a very common problem for many people, no matter how far along in the game they are.  Distractions are everywhere.

Case in point, today I lost 20 minutes because a friend texted a link to a video about sloths. Now I love sloths, but I don’t have time to watch videos when I should be writing.

That one tiny distraction kept me from getting my work accomplished.  And there are literally hundreds of those moments in our day. Every. Single. Day.

 How Do You Avoid Distractions and Help Your Business?

Whether your blog is your business or it’s the platform for your business, product, or service, there are some practical steps you can and should take to get things accomplished.

Step One: Get Organized

(Sorry Daniel, I threw restraint out the window!) You do need a plan to be successful and to minimize distractions.  Everyone’s plan looks different, but they all have some similarities.  Here’s a great starter list:

1.a Set goals (annually, monthly, weekly, daily) and reverse engineer your to-dos

  • Once you set your goals, use them to create your to-do lists. Here’s what I mean by that; use your annual goals to make a monthly goal list, use your monthly list to make a weekly list and then finally a daily list.When you break it down into small pieces it is manageable.
  • Take it step by step and you will be on your way to kicking your to-do lists tail constantly. The thing to be careful about when it comes to goal setting is not to get overwhelmed.  I love this quote from Naomi Dunford who says,

‘If you set a goal of being better than you were yesterday, you have the chance to succeed every day. If you set the goal of being the best in the world, you have the chance to feel so overwhelmed you’ll jump in front of the nearest ice cream truck.’

1.b Set work times that work with your productivity rhythms (if you’re a morning person, work in the mornings, etc.)

  • Create distraction-free environments for your productive work times  (turn off unnecessary screens, email notifications, phone alerts, etc.) Seriously, turn off Hootsuite, Skype and Facebook. Yes, you sitting there looking at your news feed- turn it off. :) 

Step Two: Create an Editorial Calendar

Really, can I tell you how often I say this, and people nod . . . in an “oh-yeah-I –totally-do-that” kind of way, but we both know they don’t.  It’s so basic, and everyone knows they *should * do it, but they don’t. Don’t skip this step.

  • Begin with a blank calendar (electronic or otherwise) and include annual events and important dates that will impact your business/brand/industry/niche (I  use a Basecamp calender and I sync it with Gcal so I can access it everywhere.) And here is a handy editorial calendar  WordPress plugin.
  • Create themes for your content that are based on your core business essentials. (Remember to plan for seasons, holidays and special events)
  • Select brilliant content that your readers are telling you they want to hear (Surveys, Facebook questions, etc. are great ways to get this content)
  • Decide when and where you will post this content.  (Remember I said that you want to have content everywhere, not just on your own blog?)

Step Three: Batch Process Similar Tasks multitasking kills productivity

Batch processing is simply organizing and working on similar tasks at the same time. When you group similar tasks, it also collects those tasks into one area of your brain and creates a super computer in your head.  (Your brain likes organization.  Here’s research that will make you stop multitasking. Multitasking is making you stupid.)

  • Write all your blog posts for the month (Ok, you probably won’t write them all at once, but try writing them for a week at a time. Then build up to writing them for two weeks at a time, etc…)
  • Batch the administrative, bookkeeping, household duties (I learned this from my husband. He plans a specific time to handle boring tasks and he focuses in and quickly does it all. My technique of doing a little here and there was wasting so much of my energy!)

Batching changed my life. I used to be the worst multitasker and I was proud of it. But then I learned the *importance of focus*  It’s critical!

I promise you Daniel, (and everyone else who struggles with this) if you follow these three simple steps, you will be blown away by how much you get accomplished and how much your business thrives because of it.


Are you at the “HELP! I can’t get anything accomplished!” stage or are you rocking the planet with your productivity?

What’s working for you?  I’d love to learn some of your tips and tricks too.



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