As a full time writer who creates content for clients in various fields, I understand the importance of having a content bank. My “content bank” is an editorial calendar I prepare for each client.
This editorial calendar aka content bank provides potential themes upon which to write, specific topics to cover, holidays that tie in with the business and keywords we want to focus on while writing a post.
Heidi Cohen, of Actionable Marketing Guide, spoke at #SMMW18 about the importance of having a content bank. There is nothing worse, I can tell you from experience, than knowing you have to write a blog post or article and having the blank screen mock you because you don’t have a single idea about what to write.
Heidi spoke on the topic of, “How to Generate Quality Ideas to Fuel Consistent Content Creation. I do have my own way of doing this for my clients, but I love getting expert insight and advice and have listened to Heidi speak before and knew the session would be incredible – I was not wrong!
Here are some of the ideas that Heidi put forth as a way to build your own content bank based on the B.R.A.V.O. method.
B – brainstorm a swipe file
R – rest and let your brain percolate ideas
A – assess the ideas and select the best
V – vet and qualify the ideas and connect them with a keyword
O – outline the content
Heidi recommends taking time to generate at least ten ideas per day.
She also shared the T.A.P. method of content creation.
T – transform the ideas that influencers and your frenemies have shared
A – ask your audience what they want to know
P – piggyback on current trends
When you’re truly stumped for ideas, or time, repurpose content that has been popular on your site. Heidi called that the, “Bestseller List.”
My key takeaways from the session were:
- Educate my audience
- Interview and spotlight audience members and/or clients
- Let people have a “behind the scenes” look at how I work
If you’re struggling to create content start today by keeping a calendar of potential topics. Write down every idea you have, no matter whether it seems to fit your niche. Attend conferences and networking events and listen to the questions people ask and the solutions shared – do they inspire content creation ideas for you?
Don’t forget: Never leave home without a notebook and pen or have your phone handy to jot down any ideas that pop into your head. Ideas will float away like mist if you’re not diligent in capturing them.
Creating a content bank or writing down your ten ideas a day is an ideal #30MinuteLifestyle practice. Grab your notebook, set a timer for 30 minutes and jot down daily ideas for your content creation.
Want to know more about living a #30MinuteLifestyle? Send me an email: Robbi AT AllWordsMatter DOT COM
Before I became a writer I held several other jobs — cashier, executive assistant, store manager. I always dreamed of becoming a writer. I was a lifelong reader. I loved my English classes in high school. I took many creative writing and journalism classes in college. If I wanted to have a fight with someone I preferred to to it via the written word.
I “think” better with my fingers to keyboard or pen to paper than I do in a yelling match with someone. If I am drawn into a debate I usually end it by saying, “I know you are, but what am I?” Yes, I revert to playground comebacks. It’s hours later, usually in the middle of the night when the snappy comeback pops into the front of my mind. BUT if I could have had that debate or disagreement via the written word I would definitely have emerged victorious.
Verbal versus written sparring aside, there are many other reasons I love writing.
Why I Love Being A Writer
When I write I turn introspective. I don’t have a lot of hours during the day to reflect, but I do at night when I write in my gratitude journal. Introspection is good for the soul and for the mood. It helps me reflect on both the good and the bad and that is useful for those days when I feel like everything is going to shit. I can look back at what I was grateful for the day or week before and realize things aren’t so bad!
The grass is not always greener. You know those days when you’re a bit melancholy and you see everyone on social media having grand adventures and uber wonderful lives and you wonder, “why is it sucking here?” Guess what, my life is pretty darn wonderful. I beat the hell out of cancer and here I am five years (and counting) later. When I write, it puts life into perspective. Also, when I read on social media about people who are continually moaning and groaning it helps me see my life is nothing to complain about at all!
I may not retain everything I read, but when I read I am constantly learning. When I write I am learning and that’s why I love it. I learn new words, new phrases, new concepts. If I get interested in a topic and don’t know enough about it, I begin my research and viola — new knowledge. When I first started writing fiction the mantra was, “write what you know.” Yawn. I don’t know nearly enough as I want to and I want to explore and expand and write about things I didn’t know much about until I researched!
Writing gets me off my pretentious high horse! Oh yes, I love nothing more than to find a typo, misplaced modifer or under-utlized semicolon. When I find them, I point and I laugh and laugh! Well, guess what? Last week I sent out a newsletter. I read and re-read it and read it again. The second it hit my inbox the first thing I saw what a typo! WTF!? As much as I hate to admit it, I am human and do make mistakes (don’t tell my family!)
Words and ideas inspire and motivate me. When I sit down to write a blog post or an article I have usually been pondering my opening sentence and when that flows from my fingers to my keyboard I am in the zone. Looking at a blog post I’ve completed brings me joy. Picking out an artfully crafted sentence out of a blog post makes my heart sing. There are weeks when I look at the column I’d written for the Thousand Islands Sun and am struck by what I’d written. There are some weeks I am on auto pilot when I write my column so it seems fresh and new when I read the paper a week or so later.
The idea that I can earn a living weaving words together is a dream come true. Why do you love writing? If you don’t love writing, why not? I’d love to know!
The Prescription for Fixing Writer’s Block!!! By Guest Writer, Yvonne DiVita
What is writer’s block, anyway? Do you think you have it? Want to know how to get rid of it? Okay, let’s go!
What is writer’s block
Writer’s block is an imaginary symptom of a much bigger problem. Many writers, myself included, blame writer’s block for things that have nothing to do with being “blocked”. Let’s agree that the term writer’s block exists to put the blame on something other than our own lack of imagination. Merriam-Webster defines writer’s block as “a psychological inhibition preventing a writer from proceeding with a piece (I think they mean story).
Wikipedia is kinder – they say it’s “a condition, primarily associated with writing, in which an author loses the ability to produce new work, or experiences a creative slowdown.” Isn’t that nice?
My favorite is this one, from Urban Dictionary – “a consoling phrase to get sympathy from others, who actually don’t give a heck about your editor’s deadline.”
You’re allowed to laugh.
In a more serious vein, writer’s block is real, it can be awful, and it needs to be treated as soon as it rears its ugly head. The first step to achieving that, is understanding if you even have it.
Do you HAVE Writer’s Block?
Are you trading time for money? Are you looking for ways to get more done in fewer hours? Do you yearn to be more (I shudder) productive? How about being more effective and efficient? Effectiveness and efficiency are my new business mindset. Tips: Be an effective and efficient blogger — these are for those who are bloggers, wannabe bloggers or solopreneurs whose talents lie in other areas, but who want to have a blogging presence.
Tips: Be An Effective & Efficient Blogger
Many of these tips will sound familiar, but they bear repeating.
We’re almost two weeks into the new year and I wanted to take some time today to talk about my 2018 writing resolutions. These are different than my blogging resolutions (I prefer intentions or goals — rather than resolutions). My writing resolutions are based on how writing makes me feel, why I am compelled to put fingers to keyboard and pen to paper and why I will continue to do so.
2018 Writing Resolutions
It’s January 1, 2018 and that means resolution time, right? I am here to tell you that your planner won’t make you productive. It’s a harsh truth. I speak from experience. I am embarrassed to tell you — to tell anyone — how much money I spent on planners over the years. I would lust after each new one and was convinced that specific planner would be THE one — my perfect and ideal love match. With the “right” planner I would be more productive, happier, healthier, taller, thinner… you see where I am going with this, right?
The harsh truth is, your planner won’t make you productive. It doesn’t matter if it’s a paper planner or an electronic planner (like Trello, for example). It is you. It is what is within you that will make a planner work for you. It’s not the planner, it’s what you put in it, what you track, how you measure “productive” and what you want to accomplish.
Your Planner Won’t Make You Productive
Recently, I have become enamored of the minimalist bullet journal. I originally fell in love with bullet journaling, but was scared off because I am not “creative enough” to have one of those beautifully decorated bullet journals that I had seen that truly are works of art. My stick people are even embarrassed about how poorly I draw them; it’s the truth.
A middle of the night ephiphany made me realize, “Hey, I don’t have to be that fancy!” I can bullet journal and make it my own — that, my friend, is the beauty of the bullet journal — you make it truly your own. The reason I struggled with whatever my latest planner purchase was that it met some of my needs, but not all of my needs.
A bullet journal — my bullet journal — so far is meeting my needs. The reason for that is I have watched a ton of videos and have gleaned info from each of them that will help make my bullet journal work for me. I realized last year when I started the bullet journal process that I liked the idea of being able to change the layouts when I found one that worked better for me. I like that my bullet journal is a place where I can keep my client notes. My journal is a place for me to keep track of items for which I am grateful and thankful. A place to track what books I want to read and television shows I want to watch. I track my habits there; it is more useful for me to see whether I have walked at least 5,000 steps a day on paper than scrolling back through my Fitbit.
What will make you productive or as I like to say, “effective and efficient”?
- Know what you want to accomplish
- Set S.M.A.R.T. goals
- Track what is important
- Know why you’re setting a specific goal. Know your “why”
- Break bigger goals into bite sized chunks. Want to write a book? Great! Break that into smaller, more doable tasks
What method do you use to track your goals and accomplishments? What stops you from being effective and efficient?
Email me at Robbi AT AllWordsMatter DOT com — I’m giving away an Effectiveness & Efficiency Session to the first five people who email! It’s my 2018 gift to you to help you start the year on the right foot and to conquer the overwhelm!
Quick question: When is the last time you read a book? It doesn’t matter whether it is an e-book or a paperback or a “book on tape.” Do you make time to read? If you’re an entrepreneur, solopreneur or petpreneur, you should carve out time in each and every day to read a book.
I can hear you groaning and saying, “Where will I find time to read a book? I can hardly get through my daily to-do list!” I’m here to tell you WHY you should take time to read and HOW to find time to read. Let’s get right to it!
You’ll be more intriguing. Say what? Yes, read a book and you just might have intriguing factoids to share! Whether it’s the latest best seller or your favorite work of nonfiction, reading a book will give you a great conversation starter, “Hey have you read the latest Susan Grafton book?”
If you have an industry expertise, reading in your niche will help you stay current and offer more insight and value to your clients.
Are you a writer? What does “being a writer” mean to you? Does it mean you’ve published a best-selling novel? That you make the entirety of your income from writing gigs or a full-time staff writing job? Do you enter writing contests? Do you blog about a particular topic and have you focused in on a particular niche about which you write?
Guess what? You’re a writer! I know that when I first started getting paid to write, if people asked, “what do you do?” I would answer, “Im an executive assistant at a drug and alcohol clinic.” Bah! I really wanted to say, “i’m a writer!” but I was afraid that I would be seen as an imposter, a fraud. Why? Because I wasn’t making a living as a writer. Sure I made enough money to take the family out to dinner on Friday night or add to the amount of nights we’d stay when we went on vacation. My “writer money” paid the vet bills, helped put presents under the Christmas tree and let me indulge my passion for purses and vintage typewriters. Did all of that make me a writer? A “real” writer? For the longest time I didn’t think it did.
How To Write Your Business Story
Since the days of old, people have used stories to communicate. Bards and minstrels traveled from the countryside sharing news. Cavemen drew pictures on cave walls. Over time language developed and oral storytelling developed; people would tell and re-tell stories as a way to communicate the goings-on.
Today, we share our stories on print and online. Stories can entertain, inform and become history. Storytelling is part of our life and it is an engaging way to share the origin and history of your business. The story of your business can touch and teach your clients something about you.
How To Write Your Business Story
How can you use storytelling to share your business history?
- Tell your origin story. Just as Spiderman and Batman had humble beginnings, your business might have, too. Look at your About page and make note of the summary of your work history and your business’s origin story. Take some of the specifics from that story and delve more deeply into them to highlight aspects of your business and its beginning. Draw from the rich history of really propelled you into becoming an entrepreneur.
- Share with clients and potential clients your method of work. Share a “day in the life” in a blog post. Use a case study that shows how your method of work benefited a client. Focus on sharing information about your unique style and strategy of helping a client achieve his or her goals.
- Tell a tale that teaches. Use a story to help your client understand a concept. Tell positive stories, but remember, in some cases people remember stories better if there is a mistake made and a lesson learned. Mistakes show that you are human and that you overcame.
- Communicate your business vision. One of my passions was born as the result of having lived through breast cancer. My passion is helping entrepreneurs work through time management and productivity issues. I help them “conquer the overwhelm” based on in-the-trenches methods I taught myself as I worked to keep my business afloat while having surgeries and treatments and recovering from everything cancer had wrought on my mind and my body. I took methods I’d read about and adapted them to suit my situation and now teach other entrepreneurs that… viola my business vision and a story. See how I did that?!
- Use a story to overcome a common objection. If someone says, “That’s too expensive,” you can counter with a story of another client who thought that AND THEN they worked with you and are now making more money. Offer a guarantee. A guarantee with a story will help assuage fears of spending money and will also show how you followed through on the promise of the guarantee.
How can you craft a compelling business story?
- Be engaging. You’re telling a story, not giving a lecture.
- Be genuine. Tell your story with authenticity. Be natural and honest.
- Know your audience. Just as you wouldn’t read 50 Shades to a toddler, neither should you tell a story to an audience using references that are lost on them.
What’s your business story? Are you sharing it? If not, why not? How can I help you craft your business story?
Why You Love Lists
Do I love lists just because am anal retentive? Do I love lists because I am OCD about things? Do I love a good list because I have a crappy memory? I think you can add a “yes” to each of those questions. It’s not just me though! There is a reason why you love lists and why I love lists. I wasn’t looking for validation… really, I wasn’t! Um, it’s been scientifically proven that our brains thrive in list-making mode; in case you were wondering.
Even though I didn’t need validation, here is my list (you know that was coming, right?) of why you love lists!
A list will help you:
- Process information
- Make recall and understanding easier
- Get you organized
- Prioritize tasks and goals
- Make sense of information and better handle information overload
- Reduce stress
- Enhance focus
- Keep track of goals met
- Keep track of steps still needing to be done to meet a goal
- Beat procrastination
- Get organized
Which of the items on the list (there may be more than one) would you like to gain control over? Have you thought about writing it down on a list? If you’re working from a to-do list in your head, I’ll bet you feel overwhelmed and aren’t quite certain where you are in the process of completing a task, right? I believe in “writing it down to get it done” and I urge you to start writing items down that you feel are priorities.
If you aren’t sure what your priorities are, write down EVERYthing you need to do. Once it’s all written down it will be easier to prioritize.
Not a list maker? Wondering what to put on a list? Here is my top fifty favorite lists. Enjoy!
- Books to read
- Places to visit
- Research for my Appalachian Trail trip
- Trails in the Thousand Islands to walk the dogs
- Five-year goals
- Conferences and networking events to attend
- Classes to take
- Daily to-dos
- Weekly routines
- Doctor visits
- People who inspire me
- Items I am grateful and thankful for
- Podcasts to listen to
- Fitness tracker goals
- Recipes I want to make
- Quotes I love
- Boredom beaters
- Spending log
- Packing checklist
- Historical items about my parents I want to remember
- Schedule for being at the River House
- Client deadlines for projects
- My writing deadlines for books and blog posts
- Fun, free activities
- If I have to cook, what are the top items that are my go-tos
- Favorite movies
- Staycation ideas
- Financial goals
- Favorite memories with Alexa and Nicholas
- Life goals
- Business goals
- Things I like about myself (sometimes I need a reminder)
- Projects I have completed
- Crochet projects I want to try
- Crochet projects I have finished
- Food log
- Not-to-do list
- Grocery shopping list
- Prioritize projects for River House
- Pet birthdays
- Holiday plans with family
- Finding ways to live with less
- Items I can get rid of
- Fun things I want to try
- Ten year goals
- Compliments I’ve received
- My blessings
What would you add to the list? Are you feeling inspired to make your own list? I can guarantee it will help remove stress if you do!