Manage Expectations So They Don't Manage You

Expectations. There are two ways they can shackle you, and make your professional and personal lives far more difficult than they ever need to be. 

But, Alli, expectations are good! It’s a good thing to have standards and expect for them to be met.

Ah, yes. Standards are mandatory.

But there is a critical difference between having agreed-upon criteria for behavior or performance, and “expectations.”

By definition, an expectation is not an agreement between people; instead, expectations are beliefs that a certain outcome or event will happen.

Expectations are purely conjecture about what the future might hold, based upon strongly held assumptions. 

Let’s start with an example to illustrate the concept.

A college professor I know of once told his Philosophy classroom about his wife’s recent birthday. He’d planned everything he knew she’d love, so that when she arrived home she’d be wonderfully surprised. He had prepared her ideal meal, the lights were dimmed and scented candles were lit. The centerpiece contained her favorite flowers, and the music was exactly what he knew she’d want. 

When she walked in, she said, “Ugh. I’ve had a horrible day. I’m not even hungry. I’m going to go take a bath.” 

The Philosophy professor told his class how he was originally very angry. How dare she? He worked so hard! Where was her appreciation?

Then he realized that she failed to live up to his expectations, but that isn’t her fault. The expectations were his; she had no obligation to fulfill them.

In this story is a valuable lesson we can take with us throughout all aspects of our life. Expectations should be avoided, otherwise they can cause grief for all parties involved. The professor was originally upset that his wife didn’t react the way he’d anticipated, and his wife was shocked and upset that he was angry with her for simply wanting to take a bath at the end of a long day.

We’ve  all had similar experiences, whether or not we realized at the time that expectations were the culprit. But we can manage the expectations that could arise in our life, so that we aren’t affected by their consequences.

So I started by stating that there are two ways that expectations can shackle you...it’s time to delve deeper into each of them!

The first type of expectations is when you have expectations of others, as in the example of the Philosophy professor. 

The second? Is when others heap expectations upon you, as the wife of the professor experienced.

Knowing each of these potential pitfalls, and more importantly how you can avoid them, is a life skill that will serve you well as you go through your day, from business to family and everything in between. Once you being to recognize them, you’ll be surprised at how often throughout your day expectations are at play.

Managing Your Own Expectations

Once we understand that our own expectations are nothing more than our best guesses sculpted into theory. These best guesses are really- at their core- our deeply held opinions mixed up with a big dash of hope.  

But we don’t need to fall prey to them!

3 Ways to Avoid Having Unrealistic Expectations 

1. Never assume.

When in doubt, ask. Ask your friend, coworker, child...ask what it is they want or need in any particular situation. It’s so easy to assume that your spouse is going to want their favorite meal for their birthday dinner. But really they might just want to take a quiet bath. 

It’s easy to assume your assistant knows exactly to whom you want your memo emailed; but they might send it to the wrong department. Save yourself time and effort; ask in advance.

2. Realize that removing expectations from your relationships, both personal and professional, is not only wise, but kind.  

Being misunderstood never feels good. Human beings, even the most hermit-y amongst us, really thrive on feeling that they are connected with others. 

When expectations are projected onto others, the consequences can be very uncomfortable when the assumptions fail and they feel that they’ve not lived up to...well, expectations. 

3.  Enjoy what your life looks like today. 

This isn’t about expectations of others; this is about having expectations of yourself. 

All too often we compare ourselves to others and fall short in one way or another. Then roll in those fantasies and dreams that really are just expectations in disguise, “As soon as I get that raise, I’ll be happy.” “Once we’re married, I’ll feel content and like my life has really begun.” “All I need to be fulfilled is x, y, z.” 

Nope. Revel in the day you have today. Don’t mistake expectations for goals. Goals are fabulous and as a coach I’m all for them; in contrast, expectations just make people feel bad.

3 Ways to Manage Other People's Expectations

A bit more difficult than managing our own expectations is managing other people's expectations of us. But you can do it, and it is absolutely worth investing your time and energy into.

How? By being proactive in key areas.

1. Communicate. 

In business- Over-communicate. Communicate redundantly. Communicate like crazy. Let others know exactly what your boundaries are; when you’re available or not, your firm boundaries, where you are and are not flexible, your timetable, etc. Don’t leave anything up to chance.

In Life- It is just as important to over-communicate with others outside of work as inside. Just like you want to let others know what your boundaries are, what your plans are and your preferences, it is important to share all these things and more with your friends and family. If no one knows how to please you, they everyone loses.

If Aunt Betty knows when you are coming to visit and exactly how long you will stay, then she is less likely to anticipate you staying longer and feeling hurt when you leave.

2. Anticipate Problems.

In business- For big projects, sometimes it’s worth spending a few minutes “catastrophizing.” That is, imagining a half a dozen worst-case scenarios and how you they could occur. Then articulate to your team a few key points that ensure those scenarios do not happen.

In Life- This translates to non-business situations as well such as a family trip or home remodel. My husband is the king of anticipating every possible outcome and being prepared for everything and making decisions to ensure things go well.

3. Know the biases of others.

In business- Think about any common history or relationship you may have had with them; do they give you any clues as to their perspective? This likely speaks to how they are coming to the situation with preconceptions; preconceptions grease the wheels for expectations.  In this scenario, you can use expectations as opportunities. Not only can you anticipate what they might expect, you can under-promise and over-deliver. Win-win!

In Life- Knowing where your friends and family stand on certain issues and their core beliefs can help you have compassion for and communicate better with them. 

Show Expectations Who’s Boss

Once you understand the role of expectations in your everyday interactions, you’re well on your way. Remind yourself...goals are not the same as expectations! Goals are concrete based upon reality and facts, expectations are beliefs based upon hope and opinions.

You’ll feel empowered once you being implementing the strategies, for both eliminating expectations of others, and for not allowing others to have expectations of you.

Having this understanding will enable you mitigate and navigate expectations, so that you manage them...not the other way around.

Now it's your turn-

What ways have you seen unrealistic expectations hurt business and personal relationships?

Here are some tweets to share:

Don’t mistake expectations for goals. (Tweet this)

Managing expectations of ourselves and others is a key to success. (Tweet this)

Our own expectations are nothing more than our best guesses sculpted into theory. (Tweet this)

How to Work Less and Do More

Did you know that email takes up the largest chunk of people's workday? An average of 28% of the work day is spent organizing, deleting and answering email. How much time do you spend on email? Or on Facebook? Or the gazillion other things that pop up during your day? Who knows, right? The work piles up and the day seems to fly by.

And did you know that every time we try to multitask and switch our focus it takes an extra 25 minutes to refocus to what we were doing before? No wonder our days feel overwhelming with so much to do and so little time.

I'm here to help. It doesn't have to be this way.

One of the first things I work on with my clients is identifying where their time goes. Our days are easily filled with distractions and time stealers that add up slowly.

The secret to spending our time on the right things is to first know what we are spending our time on.

The first step in getting control of our days is identifying how we spend our time.

How to Work Less & Do More

1. Make it Easy and Automate

When doing anything in life or business, you want to make it as easy as possible to succeed. So instead of busting out a spreadsheet and writing down how you spend your day (seriously, I'm depressed even writing that sentence) we want to automate it.

Today I'm showing you how I use a brilliant tool called Rescuetime. You can download it, and it runs in the background of your computer. Rescuetime will silently document how you spend your time for you. At the end of the week, you will receive a full report of exactly how you spent your time, if you spent time on things that weren't productive and every little detail in between.

Below is my Rescuetime dashboard. You can see that it shows me my week at a glance and let's me run reports, check my productivity and my progress.

Rescuetime also allows you to manually add your offline work activity as well, I obviously do not track my offline time.

I spend an average of 10 hours doing group and individual coaching and 5-10 hours writing per week. I don't need to document it, but the option is there and could come in handy depending on your needs.


2. Identify Where Your Time Goes

Run Rescuetime for a week and look for patterns of heavy use for certain sites. You will quickly see patterns emerge of how you spend your time.

Categories-in-Rescuetime.jpg

 

3. Categorize Your Most Visited sites & Activities

After you know which apps and sites you use most, the next step is to categorize them in terms of how productive each activity is.

Here is a screenshot of one of my week's online activity in detail.

 

4. Monitor Your Daily Patterns

After Rescuetime gathers your data, you will be able to quickly see at a glance how you spend your time. You can see from the screenshot below, that I keep my activities rather standard.

As an entrepreneur this did not come easily for me, I used to work all the time, but I worked inefficiently. Skype would pop up with chats, the ping from Facebook would distract me, and I would lose an hour or two during the day. I used to work 12-14 hour days unfocused, and now I work 8-10 hour days that are focused.

Did you skim that last part? I used to work 12-14 hours a day, and after I had data on how I spent my time, I narrowed my work day down to 8-10 hours. How much less time could you spend working if you stayed focused?

 

Click to see full-size

 

5. Protect Yourself From the Lure of Time Wasters

I have alerts that pop up and warn me if I've spent more than 30 minutes a day on Social Networks and 1 hour on email. (Now, in the interest of full disclosure, I do cheat and use my phone, but it still keeps me focused during the day.) You can even block certain sites during specific time periods. That's a bit extreme, but I'm not judging.

 

Once you know what is taking up your time, you will be able to edit out all the things that are distracting you. And you'll soon have more entries for your  Stop Doing List!

So go ahead and install Rescuetime today, and you will be on your way to working less and doing more. After you use it for 30 days, let me know what you learn and how much time you are able to save everyday.

 

More Articles You Will Love:

Gmail Tricks That Will Blow Your Mind

The Truth About Perfectionism and How to Overcome Procrastination

How to Schedule Your Day

30 Mistakes Entrepreneurs Make

 

 

 

 

How to Add Spaces and Lines on Instagram Captions

Instagram is my favorite social network, I love to see what you are doing, I love to see your face (See the “Should I post this Selfie” flowchart), and I love to see what is going on in your world.

What I don’t love is how tough formatting is on Instagram. Spaces and line breaks are crucial to writing well online, so today I’m going to share a work around for editing your Instagram captions.

How to add spaces and lines to your Instagram captions-

Step 1. Type out your caption in your note pad.

Do not use any numbers or punctuation at the end of your sentences. 

This is the key!! Never use regular periods at the end of a sentence.

Now, copy your whole caption in Instagram under your image.

Step 2. Paste your caption to Instagram 

Here’s the tricky part about Instagram, sometimes this works, sometimes it will only give you the first line break, erase all later line breaks, and cram everything else below it together.

If that happens, just click the edit button on Instagram and log in to try to fix it yourself.

Here are ways that work (most of the time) to fix the second line break issue: click to get to the number keys on your keyboard and click return twice and add a ‘.’ or a ‘-‘.

For this Instagram I tried the ‘.’ and when I saved it, it still deleted my space line randomly. (ugh)

Next, went into edit again, and I added a ‘-‘ and was able to at least format my text for better readability.

Yes, the random ‘-‘ isn’t optimal, but neither is having all the words in one paragraph. Lesser of two evils, I say.

Happy Instagramming!

Now, are we friends on Instagram? We should be. Click here to connect with me on Insta! 


Get your copy of Breaking Busy today!


10 Business Truths You Can't Afford to Ignore

Do you find yourself spending time, scouring the internet, talking to friends, trying to figure out how to start your new business, or take the one you have to the next level?  Are you oh so tired of the watered-down, sounds-good-in-theory business tips, and just wished you could find real business tips? Not the fluff, not the rah-rah feel good chatter, but real advice?

Sound like you? If so, then you are in good company. It's no surprise to you that my number one most asked question as a business consultant is, ‘Alli, How do I really build and grow a successful business?”

And usually when people ask me this question, they don’t mean, “Alli, please tell me the nuts and bolts of  running my business.”  When most people ask this question, they actually mean, ”Where will my customers come from?” “How will I make money and lots of it?”

And sure, finding customers and making money is important, but it’s not the first question that should be rolling out of your head. You need to back up and think big picture strategy  first.

Here are ten business tips that I think are the real answers to “How do I build and grow a business?” 

Ten Business Tips You Can’t Afford to Ignore

1. Don't Start Your Business With Money as the Primary Goal

I know, I know.  Seems counterintuitive.  I mean, after all, isn’t the purpose of owning and running a business to make money?

Who doesn't want to get rich blogging? But if money is the main reason you do what you do, then you will never have enough.

Let money be a result of your success (and your solid business plan),  not your primary motivating factor. 

"Make money, don't let the money make you. Change the game, don't let the game change you" -Macklemore

2. Ideas Mean Nothing without Action

“Wait. What? Ideas mean nothing?  I thought the idea was everything?”

Clearly your idea is important.  But your idea isn’t everything.

Nine times out of ten, an average idea, executed with excellence, will beat the heck out of a KILLER idea executed poorly. (Tweet this!

The point is, execute like a boss. 

3. Focus on the Pain  

I’ve said this many times.  People want you to ease their pain. Find the pain points in your target market and solve the problem.

If you are more focused on the problem your CUSTOMER has, than the idea that YOU have, your business will do well.

Connect the dots for your audience.  Show them how your product or services solves the problem.

If you’re solving the right problem, you’ll know it because your readers will move from readers to subscribers to customers.

4.  It’s All About Your People

It should probably go without saying, but your business is about people. Not just any people, but the specific group of people you hope to serve.  Whether you are selling a product or services, you are  selling to people.  You have to be able to talk to people, walk in their shoes and understand them if you have a snowball's chance of selling to them.

If you don’t understand your target market (your people), you will fail and fail hard.

5. Learn How to Fail

And speaking of failing and failing hard, you need to fail.  Failure is how you learn best.  Don’t be afraid to fail, because if you aren’t failing, then you aren’t taking risks.  And if you aren’t taking risks, you will spend the majority of your business life stuck in mediocrity.

Don’t be afraid to fail, just fail fast. Don’t get stuck deciding if you should try something or not. (Tweet this!) 

Learning to quickly solve problems can only serve to improve your business and entrepreneurial skills. A series of small fails that you can quickly learn from is better than one giant fail. Don't spend 18 months and your life savings on manufacturing widgets that the market doesn't actually want. That is a big fail. An 'epic fail' in internet speak. Test ideas early and often to ensure little, fast fails. You'll win in the long run!

6. Test Everything

Prove your idea or concept before spending time on the product. Trust your gut, but verify. 

  • Test that the problem exists
  • Test that the problem is big enough to make people or businesses change
  • Test that you have a solution to the problem
  • Test that someone will pay for your solution (if they won’t, it’s not the right solution)

7. Communicate Clearly

The art of communicating is critical to master, and master early. Most people assume they are great communicators, but never actually find out if the other person understands what they are trying to say.

Face-to-face communication is always best, but in today’s world of telecommuting and online business relationships, a phone call is always a great way to communicate.

Here's a great business tip: The most important thing to remember in the area of communication is to be careful with written words. It's easy to miscommunicate via email because the emotional indicators are not there. Read your email out loud and if you think there is any way that your tone could be misunderstood, go back and edit. 

8.  Your Brand is Only as Good as You *Really* Are

First impressions matter. Your logo, your writing, your presence online all matter and you can't scrimp on your visual strategy, but your character, who you really are, is the most important thing for you to protect. A lack of integrity will be your downfall. This is especially true online.

Social media is a perfect medium for us to let our guards down. Daily, I see vague pleas for sympathy, annoyed ranting or passive aggressive, and hurtful updates go public for people who really should know how to manage themselves, but the ease of social sharing takes the filters away. All I can think is, "Doesn't that person have anyone who will tell them to chill out and behave themselves?" Everything you do matters.

Remember, even the most premium branding can't hide a questionable character behind the scenes.

9.  Most Advice is a Waste of Time

Yes, I, Alli Worthington, business coach and consultant, just said most advice is a waste of time.  I’m telling you that because you MUST choose your advisors, your close friends and your mentors well.

Most advice is a waste of your time, because most people don’t take the time to really LISTEN to you or your business ideas.  They have a standard one-size-fits-all approach to business, and they try to apply it to yours. Don’t be foolish enough to fall into this trap.  If you’re going to let someone to teach you what you need to know, make sure you do your homework.

The same goes with what you read online. A lot of what you can find online is fluff.  Great fluffy, filler content, filled with platitudes that sound great, but don’t pan out to change you in any conceivable way.

One of the reasons I write one long post full of so much valuable information each week is because I want you to learn.

I'm not writing for the people who skim and won't actually take action. Those people will never be A-players.

I could write ten short posts with the content from one article, but I want you to invest time and energy into learning and actually changing your life and your work.

 10.  Build a Dream Team

"A-Players Hire A-players, B-players Hire C-players." -  Steve Jobs

When it comes time to hire your support team, hire A-Players.  But even before that, think about your support team.

  • Surround yourself with A players.  They will work hard to change themselves and their businesses. Their success, their drive and their motivation will inspire you as well.
  • Don’t feel like you have to be an expert in everything.  There are brilliant people out there in the world.  Get to know them.  Learn from them.  Heck, refer your clients to them if that is better for your clients. Build a network of talented colleagues who you endorse. (That will go a LONG way in terms of your reputation as a business person as well!)
 
 
 

10 Ways to Use Evernote Like a Pro

What you really need to know about using Evernote and how to make it work for you!

 

I love Evernote. I love the simplicity, I love the green color, I love the elephant logo. I love everything about it. I’ve used it since it launched and it just keeps getting better.

Yes, there are lots of new productivity tools out there and new ones pop up daily, but Evernote just works. It syncs all my devices perfectly, I pay $5 a month for a massive amount of space that I’ve never come close to filling up, and it works with tons of different web tools to automate many of my daily tasks.

Today I’m sharing 10 of my favorite tips to keep you organized, automate the tasks that we all hate doing in our businesses, and share some new ways that you can use Evernote to transform your business.

Sidenote- You may have tried Evernote before and had a tough time getting started, if so, give it another go using these tips. You’ll love how Evernote can streamline your life!

1. You will love the Web Clipper tool

The Evernote Web Clipper browser add-on allows you to customize exactly what part of a webpage you want to save. You don’t just save the URL (although you can); you can save a portion of a webpage or the entire page. You can categorize them in your customized folders, add notes, tag them, and even have them included in your google searches.

2. You can build your own personal database

I suggest you save everything that could be useful one day; you don’t have to be judicious (especially with the $5/month premium version). By properly categorizing and tagging your notes, everything you need is always at your fingertips, across all of your devices. I do this with research constantly. As a business consultant, I have to be able to back up my statements with fact. Having a notebook full of the latest research, studies, and data organized at my fingertips is a huge timesaver.

Bonus- Evernote can also save large PDFs. This is very helpful when I need to save a white paper or a research paper and have it all scannable by text.

3. You can tag and always find your voice memos

Evernote’s voice memos are useful for so many reasons. Record a business meeting, a presentation at an event, or even notes for your next article…all while you are out and about. I even record the sermons every Sunday as I take notes. You can tag and save them for easy retrieval in the future.

4. You can capture all your brilliant ideas

When I see something that inspires me, I take a picture with my phone, then give it a title, tag it. Saved! When I think of a great article idea that I want to write in the future, I add it to a note of “Future Article Ideas” that serves as a constantly updated idea generator.

5. You can add value for clients

I have individual shared notebooks with my business coaching clients. The nature of coaching clients is that it is very hands-on and needs to be customized for individual needs. Some small businesses need me to teach them about sales funnels, some entrepreneurs need to focus on their target demographic, and others need resources every step of the way.

With shared Evernote notebooks, I can add new tutorials and insight for each topic as we work on them. If, for example, on a call with a client, I discuss the need for a comprehensive visual content strategy, I will then update the Evernote notebook with the exact information the client needs. This is a small thing, but small touches like this are very valuable. When you go out of your way to help and serve your clients it makes your business untouchable.

6. You can be prepared for every meeting

When I schedule a meeting, I will make a private link (this is a link to your notebook that only YOU can access*) from an Evernote note and paste it on my calendar. This allows me to be able to prepare for my meeting easily when I’m out and about. Handy notes to link on my calendar have been a record of our last conversation, what we are talking about at the meeting, what the desired outcomes are, etc…

To create a private link: (Control + Click of the Trackpad on a Mac) and select ‘Copy Note Link’ then paste the link on your calendar of choice. I used Gcal. Private links can only be done from the desktop version of evernote, not the mobile.

7. You can make travel easier

Create an Evernote file where you store your itineraries, reservations, maps, tickets and everything else you might need while you’re enjoying your travels. I save all my travel information (flights, schedule, meetings) before a trip. Each trip has a page in a ‘Travel’ notebook. (Seriously, is anything more annoying than trying to search your email for something? Email is a terrible way to keep information handy.) I also add pictures to the travel note with a few notes to help me remember important parts of the trip.

Bonus tip- Your phone’s Evernote app will not download all your notebooks for offline use (thankfully) so make your travel notebook accessible offline to keep it handy even when you do not have coverage or wifi available.

8. You can digitize receipts and document expenditures

Make tax time easier. Keep photos of your deductible expenditures and receipts in Evernote. Combine this with the tip on automating a running tally of reciepts here and you are an automation machine. It only takes moments when you do it as you go.

Bonus-  Make a notebook of everything your accountant needs and simply share it each quarter when it’s time to do your quarterly business taxes. Super streamlined!

9. Shareable Portfolio or Press Kit

Let’s say  a graphic designer having coffee with friends and a new acquaintance that happens to need a logo redesign; with Evernote  he could have his portfolio with him, perhaps picking up a new client. With multiple, customized shared notebooks you can create a portfolio and information of exactly what a certain client is looking for.

Sidenote on Customization- You may be a jack-of-all-trades who can code, make amazing videos, and tap dance to show-tunes, but that doesn’t all fit well when trying to impress a potential client. Have a notebook highlighting your amazing graphic design work with pictures and testimonials from clients who loved your work. Save the notebook highlighting your tap dancing career for people in that market.

10. Streamline training with teams 

When I was running Blissfully Domestic, I used an Evernote shared notebook to on-board new writers and curators. I made tutorials with pictures, links and instructions on exactly what the editorial specs were for our articles. The notebook held our processes for publishing workflows, responsibilities and processes. Other items in the notebook included: SEO guide, recommended fonts and style guide, and editorial calendar. The editorial guide notebook kept everything streamlined and no one ever had to field email questions of, “Where is….” or “What do I do next?”

So now you know how to use Evernote like a pro. The secret to productivity is two fold: automating repetitive tasks and streamlining your workflows. With these tips you will save hours every month because you will have all your information handy at all times and can boost your communication with others by having your assets in gear. (See what I did there? Heh.) 

 

Sign up for Evernote here

 

How to Stay Focused and Avoid Distractions

Today is Q& A day. Today's Question is from Daniel. Daniel asks- "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, that makes me laugh a little because the first thing I thought of saying was, “Get Organized.”  (So, I hope you appreciate my restraint.)

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.  

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

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.

 

3 steps to stay focused and avoid distraction.png

 

 

10 Ways to Build Your Business with a Blog

How to make money blogging and build a business with your blog

A blog is a tool like any other tool- email, twitter, etc. that enables you to do what you want and need to do. It could be to share your life with a few friends; it could be to build a platform of fans to buy an upcoming book; it could be a place to sell your art or business services.

That said, here at AW, when I talk about blogs, it will be as a platform to market yourself and/or your business.

I also want to take this opportunity to say that your business may be either a full time endeavor, or it could be a way to earn extra income on the side that allows you or your family to stretch your budgets a little further. No blog should ever be considered a get rich quick plan, and anyone who promises a get rich quick plan is not on your side! 

To build your business with a blog, as with any business building tactic, you need to be strategic and patient in your approach.

The great news is there are multiple ways to go about building your business by leveraging a blog and I'm going to share 10 strategies with you today. 

 

10 Ways to Build Your Business with a Blog 

 

1. Build your Reputation with your Domain Expertise

Think of your blog as your billboard or living resume for your vast knowledge and skill set.

Are you an incredible speaker with something to share?  Would you make a great keynote speaker?  Then use your blog to show what you do and show how you do it.  Use video to show your speaking ability and at the same time, give your readers and followers something of value they can use.

Protip- There is a huge opening for talented writers who understand the key points of web readability for content marketing gigs. Larger companies are finally clued in that branded micro-sites alone don't drive traffic and interest, great content does. Keep writing and if you want professional writing jobs, get networking online (Linkedin especially) and offline (industry events) and you will find great results! 

 

2. Build Trust and Credibility

People like to buy from people they know.  Even if they don’t actually “know” you, if you have built an online relationship with them, if you have spoken their language, shown that you understand their problems, lived in their living room, helped them in some way, then when it comes to a decision to purchase, they will remember you because they *KNOW* you.

Tsh Oxenreider, author of Notes from a Blue Bike, is a brilliant example of building trust and community with her readers, and then building a successful business with her platform.  (She published and self-published books, using affiliate sales and integrated advertising models as her monetization strategy.)

 

3. Build a Community

I’ve talked about this before, but your tribe is the people who share common interests, goals, life stage, business interests, etc.

Initially, your tribe will be your readers. Then, over time, they trust you because you serve them with what you do.  They value what you have to say.  And eventually, if you are a good tribe leader, these readers move from readers to followers and from followers to customers.  Just be sure to build and lead your tribe well.

Jeff Goins of Tribe Writer is a great example of this strategy. His gift of writing compelling content that enriched the lives of his readers led to his book's great success and his online course on building an audience.

 

4.  Build an Email List

Blogs build your voice, but if you have a product or service, your email list is what sells it.

Your list doesn't need to be huge, but it needs to be the right people. (tweet it!) You can have a massively large list, but if it’s a list filled with people who would never need your product or service, then it won’t be that useful to your business.

Protip: The people who become your subscribers should be treated well. There should be something in it for them beyond just what they can get on your blog.  For example, my subscribers get occasional special notes from me and valuable content that doesn’t go on the public site.  They also have the ability to reserve space in my classes and courses before they are open to the public. 

 

5. Build a Pain Reliever for the Pain Points of Your Audience

Pain points of your audience are the things in their lives that are killing them, frustrating them, keeping them from having the business or life of their dreams.

And here’s the thing about pain.  People don’t like it.  They will pay to get rid of it. They will pay you to get rid of it, if your products or services will ease their pain.

Want to build customer loyalty? Ease their daily pain. You'll have customers for life. (tweet it!)

But how do you know what their pain points are?  Ask them. (I know. Brilliant, right?)

The point is, people don’t want to be in pain or have a certain problem.  Find out where their pain points are, and ease their pain with your product or service. 

There are so many options here.  It is totally dependent upon your audience.  What will help them?

  • Build an online course (Your readers *really* need to learn how to make homemade bacon crafts and want to knit? Well get to helping them!) 
  • Develop a product that eases their pain (Bacon shaped knitting patterns for guys that want to knit... what? Guys like to knit, too!) 

You know your audience.  Help them!

A great example of someone who did this well is Brian Clark of Copyblogger. Brian spent years in this space discovering what his audience needed, he developed online marketing courses and then he built amazing software that eased their pain points.

He reminded all of the starry-eyed social media types (myself included) years ago that blogs still need to be businesses. We scoffed , "It's the social media revolution. It's a new day. That thinking is so archaic!" You know what? He was right for a blog to become a business you must have a product or service. 

 

6. Build an Audience that will Help you Get a Better Book Deal

 Unless you are famous or infamous it can be hard to get a book deal. Sure, self publishing is great, but what if you want an advance and any support launching your book? You want a deal with a publisher.

The best way to get your (unknown) foot in the door with agents who can help you get that deal is to write amazingly epic content on a blog and build an audience.

That audience gives you the online street cred to get a deal for your first book.

 

7. Build a Larger Customer Base with Content Marketing

For years, people have relied on SEO strategies to get people to their sites, but these days, content marketing is king.

Well actually, content marketing is more than king.  It’s the kingdom. (tweet it)  If you want to drive more traffic to your site, all for the purpose of building a larger client/customer base, then you have to do so with stellar content.

In general, people are looking for in depth content that they can apply easily to their lives and businesses, and they are looking for you to supply their needs.

If you aren’t good at content marketing, then hire someone who is.  It’s that’s simple. (tweet it!

*Remember how I tipped off the writers about the need for talented copywriters for content marketing campaigns in #1 above? See what I did there? :)

 

8. Build a Portfolio of Work for Potential Clients to See and Love You

This is an important and often overlooked step.  Your portfolio may be difficult to build until you actually have customers, but even before then, you can create samples of the work you “can” do.

If you are just building your portfolio, by all means work for free to build your portfolio. Help everyone you can, create your art and get moving. Don't wait for the perfect client to appear. Get out there and practice, get some experience under your belt and then it's time to actually take on clients.

 

9. Build your Brand and Position Yourself from Competitors

There are very few “new” things under the sun.

And as incredible as you are, (and you ARE fabulous) there are likely to be a gazillion other companies, consultants, online courses out there very similar to yours.

So how do you stand out in a crowd?  Differentiate.  Some part of what you do has to be different from what everyone else does, or they may as well just hire someone else or buy someone else’s product.

No one can be uniquely you. It is crucial that you find your unique positioning that will help you stand out from the crowd.

As you build your tribe, build trust, develop your list, and follow the other guidelines I’ve given you, your customers will begin to notice that you are different from your competitors, and they’ll come flocking to your * digital * door.

 

10. Build a Method to Validate Your Ideas

And last, but certainly not least, let your audience give feedback on your ideas for your next book, product or service offering.

This helps you not waste time and money on something only you like. (I've been there. It's super hard on the ego.)  

Your audience will be brutally honest with you (trust me, I know!)  

They’ll tell you what they want, what they need, and what they want you to do for them (and stop doing).

At the end of the day,  if you want to build the business of your dreams online, then you will need to build a stellar online platform, and get yourself a sound business strategy.

But I know you can do it.  That is why you are here. We aren't messing around.

I’m going to continue to give you sound business advice, and you and your brilliant self are going to keep working hard at building the business of your dreams and a life of meaning. If you are interested in business coaching or my upcoming step by step business course click here to get connected. 


How to make money blogging and build a business with your blog.