Do You Get Out Much?
I love people. Have the opportunity to network in person at events? Sign - me - up.
I was invited recently by Jillian Stambuli of Edit Global to assist at a publisher's booth at the American Night Writers Association. They had a great course schedule and were very warm to connect with. We even met a couple of fellow small independent publishers! It was a delight to see Jillian in action, sharing her dream of partnering with authors aiming to make a difference in the world. She covered the big picture questions and referred those with specific proofreading or editing questions to me.
Bring the Business Cards!
Oh yeah - that's still definitely a thing! Some things don't go out of style. Always carry a few business cards as you never know who you'll meet or strike up a conversation with. In line at the post office? Definite conversation opportunity. In line at the store? Definitely good for small talk.
I keep the back of my cards blank so I - or someone - can jot a quick note on the back to remind of the contact made or event we were at. There are some unique sizes and shapes to business cards now, but it's hard to beat a standard size that fits in folks' pockets or wallet and is simply what folks expect to see. It may depend on your business and messaging - are you in a "standard" or "unique" market? Many now have QR codes on cards for customer convenience to access websites or additional information.
Elevator Pitch Ready?
Do you have it fine-tuned and ready at the drop of a hat? This is key! Be ready for "What do you do" at any moment! Narrow your message's focus. Keep your ideal client in mind and how you serve or solve the client's problem. You have 20-30 seconds at most - the length of an elevator ride or someone's attention span, which is ever shorter these days.
In-person Networking Post-COVID
It was such a hard jolt in 2020 when the world stopped. It seems it's only just beginning to get back to "normal" to be back with people. The tech advances during that time with Zoom enabled a decent second-best option. It's remained a viable option for some events hoping to maximize attendance and participation. You can certainly network via zoom - there are people on the other end of the line - but you can't beat the benefit of seeing folks in person to really get the body language and unspoken messaging.
Do I HAVE to Network at Events?
If you're an introvert, this in-person stuff likely isn't your cup of tea. It's not for everyone. But if you have the opportunity to get to a networking event, conference, meeting, or workshops, I highly recommend it. That being said, there are ways to network that don't involve handshakes and hugs.
NOTE: I'm a Hugger. Always have been. There were these great short ribbons that hung from conference name badges at the ANWA conference noting Hugger and Not A Hugger. What a fantastic idea to help everyone be more comfortable!
Networking with Less "People"
I'll list a few ideas here to get you thinking. We can cover each in future blog posts.
How do you network with others? Do you prefer more in-person options or a bit of distance with a computer screen?
I would love to help you expand your network and influence by making sure your start (website/PR materials) and finish (proofread/edit your project) are the best they can be. Let's Chat!
Marketing and Website Management
I've noted already, I love podcasts! We reviewed podcasts more geared to editing and proofreading in a prior blog post. For the authors and entrepreneurs here, let's look at a couple I discovered recently that you may find useful as well.
If you're looking to punch up your website with SEO, key words, and light content marketing, Simple Content Marketing for Mompreneurs with Katie Flores is a good resource! You can find her podcast here and subscribe by your podcast app. You can find her blog and general website here. She has some nice lead magnets and a basic no-nonsense approach. Content warning - there are a fair amount of Christian references in podcasts.
Yael Keon is amazing! She's blowing me away with her energy and enthusiasm in every episode! Each episode is packed with tips and tricks for getting started in email marketing or growing what you have. I subscribed to her email list for more regular content. She has a great lead magnet and very affordable initial products to start you on your path.
Newsletter Ninja Tammi Labrecque is another fabulous email marketing resource! No podcasts from Tammi, but I would be remiss not to mention her so you can meet her as well. She's written two books so far, offers a number of classes, and hosts a very active Facebook group. She's an excellent resource for this aspect of your business!
SEO and Website Optimization
Debbie Emmitt is another amazing resource to keep in mind if you're creating your own website! She recently published very affordable books for authors and editors with a focus on website development. No podcasts, but great clear, simple information to get your website in top shape with your own efforts!
Do you create email newsletters and have a subscriber list growing? Do you create your own website complete with SEO key words? Love to hear your content marketing journey!
Need a hand getting an email platform or website started? I'd be honored to help get you going or manage this aspect of your business - Let's Chat!
What IS Canva?
Canva is a design tool. If you need to create flyers, brochures, business cards, social media "banners" or images, presentations, and more, Canva is a very convenient tool. If your project will involve an image or graphic, it's likely you'll be able to create it with Canva.
Is Canva Affordable?
It can be! There is a free option - perfect to test out the platform! You'll likely find in a short time if you really get into using the service that you'll wish you could utilize the more pricey design options.
Is It Easy to Use?
Generally, yes. It's a template-based product, There are some features you can change about each design's basic look, but you're best able to change or remove design details as you create. You can easily add or remove text boxes and image boxes to personalize the design. It's easy to edit - maybe too easy. There's an "undo" button to correct immediate errors or return to a prior look, but it's hard to recreate the template look once pieces are removed.
This uses "drag and drop" technology making it very convenient for novice users. It's also very easy to utilize the same design but change the size depending on how you'll use it, although you may need to shift some content to fit.
You're able to "share" the design with others. It's wise to duplicate the project for someone else to note editing ideas and maintain the integrity of your original design. You may download the project in many different formats - pdf, png, jpeg, mp4, and more. You can even have Canva download certain pages of a multi-page project to share only certain features.
Do I Need to be an Artist?
Not really - but it does help to have an eye for design or style. This isn't for everyone. The key to saving some frustration is to try to get the base design right that you'll be adapting.
If you're working for someone else, share a few design ideas before you get to work. I created a happy hour flyer for a client which would be held at a Mexican restaurant. My initial direction was more the warm, spicy background colors and a margarita. The client didn't want to emphasize the alcohol but more the fun party atmosphere. That makes a difference in images built-in to the design and that you may wish to add along with the amount of verbiage you need to include.
Can I See a Sample?
Sure! The image attached is an ad for a convention book I created recently, changing the image to my own and removing identifying language and offices/titles for client confidentiality. This was for a patriotic organization. Text boxes were rearranged quite a bit to be more visible for the amount of words needed as an original text box was in the red and white plank zone but weren't particularly visible.
How Do I Get Started?
If you're feeling adventurous and wish to give it a try, head to Canva to create a free account to test it out. If you're not sure of your skills, I would be honored to assist you. Let's Chat to get an idea of the project and style you have in mind to bring your vision to life! I prefer to work more closely with clients than not so there is input all along the way to ensure it looks the way you have in mind.
Have you played with Canva? What do you think? I'd love to hear about your experiences - leave a comment!
Build A FREE Website with Weebly
Before you invest any money into a website or domain, get started for FREE to build it! Let's review Weebly today as I know it the best. Wix is very similar for designing but does not offer a free version anymore.
First Step - Create An Account
Weebly is now with Square, so there's a funny two-step log-in process. Create an account by going to www.weebly.com. IF you're prompted to create an account with Square, you'll be redirected to that - just use the SAME user and password to make your life easier.
Decide On A Name
Consider the website address you will ultimately want with the .com, .org, or .edu (dot whatever). You will see a page to begin testing names to see what is available for a domain name (your website's name). See what's close. Think more broadly than what you arrived thinking your address would be. This can take a bit of time. When you see a name that suits you, select it! If you're building a FREE website, your initial website address will be the name you wish, plus dot-weebly-dot-com (.weebly.com). Once you purchase a domain name, the dot-weebly-dot-com will go away, but for now - we're just focused on building for free.
Select A Template Design
Play with a few options that resonate with you in color and style. Future marketing and image branding ideas will be key. This can be changed if needed, all of your content will be reformatted to fit the new design, but this can get wonky. Try to get this right the first time if you can. If you don't feel you have an eye for style, find a friend who may give you additional eyes. There are no great options to change the general color or text style of the templates. We ARE talking FREE templates here.
You're going to want to have a rough idea how many pages you'll want on your website. Select a template with a similar number of tabs at the top. If you go beyond the template's preset tabs, they'll begin layering within the available tabs as "drop-down" menu options.
Weebly's free templates are fairly limited in style, yet can still be quite flexible to work with. While Wix does not have a free option, their least expensive option ($16/month) has a larger base of templates to select from. The price is ultimately similar to what you'll pay for Weebly's professional version, making either service a good option.
Time to Play!
Weebly and Wix are both drag-and-drop styles. Click a design element noted on the sidebar, hold and drag to where you'd like to add it. Click on an element in the template to edit it or upload your own images. You'll see blue lines in the design pane as you move elements (text, images) indicating if you want an element over or under the line. The fonts are pre-sets of the original design elements. You can make the font larger or smaller, maybe mix upper and lower case, but it depends on the template. You will likely want to remove some elements from website pages to make the design your own. I try to build web pages from the top down and leave some elements lower on the page should I decide they may be useful on other pages to move them as I progress through multiple pages.
Time for Additional Eyes!
This is where you may wish to hire an editor or ask a few friends to take a look at your website to be sure it says or does what you want. Are they able to get from your Home page to your Contact or Call to Action page? Do things make sense? Do links work? Is the design style pleasing and comforting, not jarring?
Ready to Release to the World!
You can simply share your beautiful free website as your website! The address will be a bit unique, but not impossible to live with. Or you pay $20 for a domain name to drop the .weebly.com. If you decide to also get a professional website, the domain name may be free for the first year - that's a plus! Get the smallest professional website you need to do business. If you have no likelihood of taking orders or sales through your website, take that into account in your purchase. What features do you need? You can always upgrade later! There is a bit of a price drop by purchasing for the year in advance rather than monthly.
Have you created your own website? Which service did you use and how did it go? If you'd like a hand with your website or even someone to simply create one for you, Let's Chat! I love to build, edit, and maintain websites!
3 Year Goal Setting - Lessons from Perennials
Apparently this is common knowledge for gardeners, but it was news to me! A life coach of mine, Stephanie O'Dea, introduced me to the concept of applying it to goal setting. "Long range goals" have all sorts of philosophies. We all want a bit of reach without asking our crystal balls to see too far in the future. Three years seems reasonable.
This is where we plant seeds. Develop your action plan, marketing plan, and strategies. Get pieces of your business into place - dream up that website, get your feet wet in social media, make your lists of plans, and invest in some education. This is your heavy investing year.
This is the year your efforts begin to take hold. You complete that certificate you were working on. You've tweaked your website to perfection. You've fumbled and learned some social media tricks along the way. Maybe you've gotten that email list going to send news to subscribers. The business cards are getting handed out regularly. You're attending networking events to meet those who need your services. You're making connections. You're figuring out what works and what doesn't as you have your first few customers! The roots are getting stronger.
You're finally in your glory and blossoming! All of that hard work you put into creating your business is finally paying off! You've got some regular clients, you have routines to keep your marketing plan rolling for more customers, you have a handle on how best to do the administrative tasks, and you're showing a profit. Your calendar is filling and you're patting yourself on the back - you've made it! It only gets better from here!
These Things Take Time
So let's take a lesson from our plants - growth and success don't happen overnight or all at once. Remember "Rome wasn't built in a day"? Take your time. Plan on your new business taking time! You're learning as you go. It takes time to make connections and network, to find your tribe. Three years is a good long term plan reference - not too short, not too long.
Where are you in your growth cycle and business plans?
I'd be honored to assist you at the start of your business (website and marketing) or end of your project (editing and proofreading) as we Read. Write. Engage. Let's chat!
Ways to Refresh & Renew Your Energy
Ah, glorious summer! One of the best excuses to take a break, hit the open road, and find a change of scenery. For those of us in the desert, we head north for pine trees and double digits! As I've just returned from a few days away, the total break is still fresh in my mind.
Leave the Work at Home
Seriously. The world will not end. You can do it! Cemeteries are full of indispensable people. You need a break. You deserve a break! You will thank yourself for it later.
#1 Way to Avoid Burnout
Taking time away from your usual routine is critical for your mental health. Our brains need a rest and a change. You'll be more clear headed and with fresh ideas if you truly take a break. Some go on a total device/electronics break to be able to truly disconnect from the daily grind. Out of office messages on email are a godsend! Folks can leave you a message knowing when you'll be back. If you're a business owner, you should have someone who can cover for you with truly critical matters. Everyone needs a back-up - this is the time to use it.
Burnout is Tough
We've all been there at various times and to various levels. Regular breaks can lessen the depth of burnout when it hits. In extreme cases, burnout can last for months to even a year! It can even lead to depression, substance abuse, and suicide. Let's not do that.
The Solution is Simple
Self-care is critical on a daily basis - more than 1-2 times a year and a vacation. But do schedule those truly away holidays to fully recharge! It gets the ideas flowing when you disconnect from work.
Options on the Daily:
What are your go-to methods to avoid burnout? Love to hear your solutions!
H/T to Tara Whitaker's recent inspiring podcast!
My special talent is using template based web hosting servers. I've gotten rather proficient with them over the years! I'll share my Top 3.
I've worked with Weebly websites for years. It is truly the easiest and most intuitive to use in my book.
This service is very similar to Weebly.
This group bought Weebly yet maintains two separate design platforms - Weebly and Squarespace.
What website builder have you considered or worked with? Leave a comment to share your experiences!
YOU Are the Rocks
We've all heard the time management or prioritization analogy of rocks, pebbles, and sand. Place your highest priority or key items ("rocks") into a glass jar first, intersperse with "pebbles" (slightly less critical), and finally fill in the rest with "sand" to add any "small stuff" of life. This resonates with me on many levels.
When Are You NOT a Rock?
Admittedly, there are seasons in life. If you are a caregiver of wee ones, older generation, or anything in between, those responsibilities tend to be your biggest "rock." But make sure you are at least one of those rocks! If you don't prioritize some measure of self-care, you will not be an effective caregiver. Remember what they teach us before every airplane take-off? Mask yourself first, then others. Burn out is real.
Lead with Your Rock Self
That aside, if you're here, you're at a time in your life to consider starting your own business adventure. You're ready to feed your soul, be an entrepreneur, strike out on your own, and learn to fly! We're here for that!
Work on Mindset
Boy, is this key!
These ideas are merely scratching the surface.
Leave a comment!
We All Have A Story
Correction - we all have multiple stories! Stories are what bind us. Humans have been telling stories since the beginning of time. It is how we share our history and heritage. It's how we simply catch up at the end of the day.
Stories Are Important
It is what makes us human. We share stories by written or spoken word. Sometimes even a whisper of a story comes with the touch of a hand sharing "I care."
Stories Connect Us
We find our "tribes" through stories and discovering common interests. Families have age-old stories brought out for every holiday. Families expand and new stories are built in. Cities and cultures share their stories with any who will take the time to listen. (go to any museum or coffee shop!) Listening - that's a key feature.
Even Businesses Have A Story
Share Your Story
Let's bring it into the open for all to see!
What story do you have to share with the world? We're ready to hear about it!
Here's the Short Answer
You can certainly do a darned fine start on your own! You can even pass your work around to friends and family for extra eyes. All of this will get you closer to your finished, ready-to-post product. But ultimately, you also get what you pay for.
But I'm Pretty Good with English & Grammar!
Awesome! You'll be able to get your work that much closer to the finish line quicker! We reviewed in No Red Pens the myriad of editors eager to help you with your project. Do you realistically need all of these editors? Nope. Would it be advisable to get at least one proofreader or editor on your team? Admittedly, I'm biased, but I'd advise "yes."
But My Mom (or Aunt Suzy) is An English Teacher!
Fabulous! Family and friends are a great first step to polish things up. But they also love you, are (blessedly) incredibly biased, and think you do amazing work. These aren't particularly critical or fresh eyes for you, especially if you're talking about a project that's really important to you, like a book or new website.
But What CAN I DO on My Own?
Don't worry - you can do plenty on your own! Let's look at some ways you can really improve your own work before you consider hiring someone.
What an amazing tool!
Items to Routinely Check
This is just a start, but you'll get the idea.
A Step Above Word
You may wish to check an amazing program called PerfectIt. It's a proofreading software program. They offer a free trial opportunity for you to run Word docs through for 14 days and a 30-day money back guarantee. It's a very powerful program that saves you a lot of using "Find" in Word. It depends how much you may decide to self-edit for whether you decide to purchase this tool.
A word of caution - it catches many errors but not all. As with Word, you'll find this AI tool won't allow for your voice to necessarily shine through. You really can't beat ultimately working with a human for that final touch.
Can I Edit Myself?
Sure! To an extent. It's always best to have a fresh set of eyes on your project, especially someone who has training in what you're writing and isn't biased to love what you write, no matter what.
It's like asking if you need to hire a lawn service, housekeeper, or mechanic. What are you willing or able to do on your own? Editors and proofreaders are all over the board with rates. You may wish to check a national organization such as the Editorial Freelancers Association for more on average rates to expect and more considerations when hiring an editor or proofreader.
How much do you edit on your own? Are you a whiz with Word or other programs to maximize your time and expenses?
Love to hear your process - leave a comment!