How (and Why) to Refresh Your Old Blog Posts

How (and why) to refresh your old BLOG POSTS

You write a blog post, edit and revise it until it sparkles, and hit publish. Then you promote it all over the internet and watch the traffic roll in.

Now you’re done, right?

Nope!

You could leave it alone and never look at that post again, but your blog is a living, breathing entity. Don’t let your old posts get crusty and stale, or just sit there without living up to their potential.

 

Why update your old blog posts?

readers like relevant content (and so do search engines)

The internet is getting older, search engines have changed, and readers are looking for current, relevant content.

There’s a lot, and I mean a LOT of content on the internet, and much of it is obsolete, poorly-written, or otherwise useless.

Readers now have to wade through a lot of old junk to get to the new, useful content they’re looking for. Search engines are changing to help them with that search, favoring newer content that has a lot of recent interaction (like social media shares).

This doesn’t mean your web content has to age badly, it just means you’ll need to change your strategy and regularly update your content.

 

Get more mileage from your old posts

This is a huge timesaver because it means (for most industries) you can post higher-quality content less often, which is good news if you’ve been killing yourself trying to post something every single day or even every week.

Readers and search engines want quality, not necessarily quantity. The internet has plenty of quantity.

 

Get ideas for new content

One of my favorite places to get ideas for new content, for my own business and for my clients, is old blog posts.

There might be an interesting point in there you can build on. Maybe you have more to say on that topic.

Or maybe that content has even more current information you can write about. This is especially true if you blog about things that change frequently like social media, technology, business strategy, etc.

 

It’ll show you what your audience wants so you can give it to them

When you review your old posts to see which are the most popular, that says a lot about what your audience is looking for. That way, you can create posts, products, and optins that meet their needs.

 

How to update old content

 

Clean out your blog every year

About once a year, go through your blog to do a blog audit. I like to do this in the spring as kind of a spring cleaning.

Update titles if necessary, but don’t mess with the URLs unless you do a 301 redirect. (A 301 redirect sends your readers to a new link if they click an old one that doesn’t work anymore. That way, they don’t get 404ed if they happen to land on the old URL. Here’s how to do this.)

Make sure all links work and that images are still there. Make sure you’ve done SEO on every post. Give everything a quick proofread and fact check.

Bonus tip: While you go, pick apart old posts to save the bits that are still useful and combine into new posts. Or you can use those as captions for social media posts! (Repurposing content is just as important as refreshing it!)

 

Update and republish old posts

Make sure your old posts are still relevant. If they aren’t, update them.

If they’re totally off base and just don’t fit with your brand anymore, or if they concern something that doesn’t exist anymore and aren’t bringing in traffic, I think it’s okay to delete them. It’s up to you whether you want to do this, but if you can do a 301 redirect to a more relevant post, deleting that old post can really help your readers out and build your credibility.

 

Add links to your newer content

Go through your old posts and add links to your newer content in the same vein. You can get a plugin to do this, or just add regular ol’ link to the bottom or even middle of your articles, or link in relevant places in the text.

 

Update your formatting

Make your posts scannable and easy to read! If your old posts are just big blocks of text, add headings, bullet points, numbered lists, etc. I’ve actually got a handy free checklist to help you do this, which you can grab here.

 

Add a call to action

If your old posts don’t have a call to action that tells the reader where to go next (or if the calls to action are outdated) add new ones! Add a signup form for your optin, a link to your products, or at least point them to other relevant blog posts so your readers can continue their journey with you.

 

Focus on your most popular posts

Every once in a while, take a peek at your analytics to see which blog posts are bringing in the most traffic. Those are the posts you really want to focus on updating.

Add to them, include links to products, optins, and other relevant posts, and really make them the most useful bits on content on your blog. Those popular articles are your front line, so keep them in shape!

I recommend checking on these guys at least twice a year to make sure they’re performing at their best.

 

Your blog isn’t a slow cooker. You don’t just set it and forget it. Revisit your old posts regularly to make sure everything is updated and still relevant. This will help you get found, serve your readers, AND help you get a lot more mileage from those posts you worked so hard on!

 

Get your free checklist so you’ll have a list of things every blog posts need to turn readers into customers.

 

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The Writing Mistake That’s Slowing You Down

THE WRITING MISTAKE THAT'S SLOWING YOU DOWN

I’ve got a super juicy writing tip for you today.

Juicy. I kinda hate that word, but that’s an interesting adjective I don’t use very often, and sometimes it’s good to branch out, ya know?

Anyway, it’s a simple tip that will help you write soooo much faster. It’s not always easy, because it requires you to fight a very natural impulse.

Let’s back up for a second:

One of the biggest complaints I hear from entrepreneurs about writing blog content is that it takes forever. They might spend hours drafting a single post. They’ve got other stuff to do and no everyone likes writing. I get it.

When I ask about their writing process and what slows them down, they usually say something like “I’m just such a perfectionist. I have to rewrite every sentence 8 times, then I’ll delete half the post and start over, and before I know it, a day’s gone and I have 3 paragraphs.”

And here’s what I tell them: Nothing will slow down your writing more than editing as you go.

This goes for any type of writing, not just blogging.

The other day, I saw an Instagram story from one of my favorite entrepreneurs and self-made millionaires who was working on a book, and she said “It takes me SO LONG to write a book because I have to rewrite each sentence a dozen times before I’m satisfied with it.”

And I was like “No, no, nooooooo.”

If you’re of the “I can write, but it takes me FOREVER” types, listen up.

DO NOT self-edit while you’re drafting. Just don’t. Pretty please.

Back when I was tutoring high school English students full-time, I told them all the same thing.

The drafting phase is your chance to get your thoughts out, judgement-free. Drafts are supposed to suck. You’re just dumping clay on a table so you can sculpt it into a beautiful piece later, but you have to start with raw material. Don’t interrupt that flow.

Trust me, drafting without judgement is powerful stuff. Just write your thoughts without editing and clean them up later. (Or send to a content writer/editor to clean up.)

 

How to Make This Work for YOUR Business

 

I have one client who hates grammar and spelling, but she actually writes well and her voice comes through strongly in her words.

She sets a timer for about ten minutes, types a bunch of stuff on a topic as fast as she can, then sends me her messy notes. I take care of the spelling, grammar, and then organize and fill in the gaps in her thoughts. Super simple.

And she used to spend hours on a single draft.

Yes, there are people out there who can do that for you. (If this sounds like a blogging match made in heaven, here’s how I can help!)

 

If blogging usually takes your forever, here’s a challenge.

 

I double dog dare you to set a timer for ten or fifteen minutes and just write. It’s okay if it sucks. Just think of a topic you want to write about, set the timer, and go. Don’t worry about spelling, grammar, organization, or typos.

You are unauthorized to edit or change a thing until that timer goes off.

You might be surprised with how much you can write in a short amount of time!

You can also make an outline if organizing your thoughts takes too long.

After that, walk away, do something else, maybe even leave that writing to simmer overnight before you go back and edit. Then, try moving things around, fill in some gaps in your thoughts, cut out the unnecessary stuff, and fix the spelling and grammar.

This process will save you a ton of time. I promise.

Speed comes with repetition. I can chug out a 500 word blog post in 15 minutes if it’s a topic I’m familiar with, but I’ve had LOTS of practice. (Full disclosure: I drafted this post in eleven and a half minutes . Yes, I timed myself.)

You can also outsource the bulk of your writing and just come up with topics and outlines. If you like to talk but don’t want to do videos, some content writers will have a conversation with you over the phone or web chat and turn that into a post for you.

Whether you think blogging is dead or if you want to do it but just have obstacles, you need to publish content regularly.

Your blog is a great place to do it because you own the platform, and it makes it very easy to grow your list and get people into your sales funnel because you’re already on your site.

So what are you waiting for? What are your biggest obstacles to blogging?

Want to speed up your blogging process even more? Get your free checklist so you’ll have a list of things every blog posts need to turn readers into customers.

 

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“But I’m not a writer!” How to Blog When Writing Isn’t Your Thing

“But I’m not a writer!” How to blog regularly when writing isn’t your thing

 

One of the biggest obstacles I hear from entrepreneurs who want to blog to sell their products and services is “I just don’t like writing, and I’m not good at it.”

Have you ever said this?

Trust me, you aren’t alone.

I want you to know that there’s a big difference between “I’m not good at writing” and “I don’t THINK I’m good at writing.”

I’ve met lots of business owners who are actually good writers. They know how to clearly communicate through writing and their voice comes through in their words.

The problem is when they hate writing, or when it takes them two solid work days to write a 500 word blog post. (NOT a good use of their time!)

Then there are other entrepreneurs who really do struggle with communicating in writing, and that’s okay too. We aren’t all writers, and we don’t all have to be.

The good news is, there are plenty of workarounds.

 

Do I even need to blog?

The short answer is yes. I think regularly publishing content is crucial for building a relationship with your audience and growing a customer base.

You need to communicate with your audience if you want to sell your products and services.

Now that doesn’t necessarily mean you HAVE to write articles. You could post video content on Youtube or do Facebook lives, and that’s great! But not everyone watches videos. Honestly, I rarely do.

Some members of your audience are like me. They’re readers who prefer to get information through text, and we find it more convenient to silently read a blog post than to dig out headphones or find a quiet spot to watch a video.

Also, your blog lives on your site, so you own it. You don’t own Youtube or social media, so if those sites go down or change their rules, bye-bye content.

You don’t have to blog, but it’s always a good idea to cover your bases, cater to different kinds of learners, and have control over where your content is published.

 

How to blog when you’re not a writer

 

Tip #1: Get your videos transcribed

 

If you’re posting videos, you can reuse that content for blog posts and social media updates. All you have to do is get the video transcribed and clean it up so it reads well as text.

 

Tip #2: Compile social media content into blog posts

 

Of course, this only works if you share on social media regularly. I’ve seen entrepreneurs publish “snapshots” or “recaps” of their week by just republishing videos, photos, and captions they shared on social media that week, with a little extra content thrown in.

I don’t think these take the place of well-written articles, especially for reader-types like me, but they’re a hell of a lot better than nothing, and they can be a lot of fun for your audience.

These posts also put that content on a platform you own, so you have more control AND you can get a lot more mileage out of your social media content!

 

Tip # 3: Outsource it

 

If you don’t want to write OR do video content, you can outsource all aspects of blogging, including the actual researching and writing posts.

You don’t have to be any more involved than you want to.

In fact, you can even be almost completely hands off and focus only on your products and services.

I have clients who pretty much set me loose to research topics their audience is looking for, write the posts, and they just do a quick review of the content before giving me the thumbs up to publish on their site.

I have other clients who send me “brain dumps” of their thoughts that I can organize, flesh out, and smooth into high-quality content.

I’ve also worked with clients who send me voice messages, or verbal brain dumps, that I take notes on and then turn into blog posts.

It’s all about finding a writer who can work with your process.

Blogging doesn’t have to be a major obstacle, and it doesn’t have to eat up a ton of time you’d rather spend on something else.

Figure out how you like to communicate with your audience and use that to your advantage!

If you want to make sure your posts are easy to read, easy to share, and turn casual readers into customers, grab your free blog post checklist!

 

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Is Perfectionism Ruining Your Business?

Is Perfectionism Ruining Your Business_

Perfectionism is a dirty word in the personal development world, and with good reason.

Perfectionism, or the notion that we must be perfect and do things perfectly or it’s not worth doing at all, is poisonous.

It stops us from starting projects, finishing projects, trying new things, or putting our stuff out into the world because we think it’s not good enough.

Most of us know about the dangers of perfectionism and we’ve learned to recognize it in ourselves. But…have we conquered it? Or does it still sneak in where we least expect it?

When I was a creativity coach, I worked with this a lot. From my own observations and anecdotal evidence, perfectionism is the #1 killer of creativity and new ideas.

A lot of us are trying to rise above this impulse and remind ourselves that it’s okay to do things imperfectly.

This doesn’t mean you shouldn’t do your best and strive for excellence, of course, but most of us don’t have a problem with that. We tend to swing to the other end of the spectrum. Perfectionism is a problem when it prevents us from trying and doing.

It’s okay to be a beginner. It’s okay to suck, because that’s how you learn.

This mindset is Level 1 of perfectionism rehab.

 

How I realized I was still stuck in perfectionism, and why you probably are too.

 

For years, I thought I’d recovered from perfectionism, and I was even helping others do the same.

I learned to talk back to the voices that told me my work wasn’t good enough or that everything I made had to be perfect, which was super helpful for my art and writing.

I started putting things out into the world. I experimented with my art style. I started a new business. I published a novel.

I thought I was fully recovered until I listened to an episode of one of my favorite podcasts, Unf*ck Your Brain.

If you haven’t listened to Kara and her amazingness, you should. Go subscribe right now. I’ll wait.

Anywho, she did an episode on perfectionism and dropped this bomb: “Part of perfectionism is making a perfect plan and then beating ourselves up when we can’t follow it.”

(I’m paraphrasing a little, but that was the gist of it.)

Talk about a wakeup call.

I thought I was cool with perfectionism, but then I realized there’s another layer.

Perfectionism isn’t just refusing to try or release something if it can’t be perfect. It’s also wishing you could be perfect and feeling bad when you’re not.

I’m the queen of making perfect plans and then feeling horrible when I can’t do them.

Those outlandish goals don’t seem outlandish at the time because I should be able to do 30 things per day, right?

Sound familiar? Let’s see if you’re still stuck in perfectionism.

 

Signs You’re Still Stuck in Perfectionism

 

  • You still wish you could be perfect.
  • You compare yourself to others who look like they’ve got it together.
  • You make ambitious plans you can’t stick to because there just aren’t enough hours in the day.
  • You set huge goals and feel horrible when you don’t quite reach them.
  • You beat yourself up for every little mistake.
  • It takes you hours to write anything because you can’t stop self-editing as you write. (I see this in my clients a LOT.)
  • It takes you forever to create and launch anything because you’re stuck in endless revisions
  • You feel exhausted, run down, and like you’re always failing

Are you nodding your head “yes?” Then you’ve got another layer of perfectionism to work though.

 

How to get out of the perfectionism trap

 

I’ll be totally honest: I’m still figuring this out myself. But here’s what’s helped me so far.

 

Plan for wiggle room.

Your plans won’t go perfectly. They just won’t. Expect that things will come up, that some things will take longer than you originally planned, that you’ll get ideas along the way, and don’t feel bad when progress doesn’t look perfectly linear.

By all means, set due dates for tasks, get an accountability partner, and do whatever it takes to stay on track, but don’t harangue yourself for little slips here and there. Just readjust and move on.

 

Think “possibilities” rather than to-dos.

I tend to overload my to-do list with WAY more tasks than any human can accomplish in a day. Instead, I’ve been trying to see those items as POSSIBILITIES rather than things that HAVE to get done.

Of course, there are some items that need to get done that day, so I’ll prioritize those.

But the other things? Those would be nice, but I won’t feel bad if I don’t clean the bathrooms today or do that extra abs workout, or if I only draft 2 articles instead of 4.

Give yourself a break.

 

Play with your goal setting practices.

Maybe have a minimum goal and a “Wow, that would be so freaking awesome if I did that!” goal. Set a goal that’s a stretch, but not too far out of your comfort zone. Look at how far you went and how much you grew, even if you didn’t meet your goal.

I didn’t quite meet my January income goal. I’d made a plan to reach that goal. As I acted on it, though, I realized that my plan required me to work way more hours than I had the capacity for.

I realized I had to make some adjustments to my business that wouldn’t pay off in time for me to make my goal, but that’s okay because I learned something.

I felt bad at first, but it still ended up being a good month. So I felt good about it, celebrated it, and moved onto the next thing.

 

Don’t self-edit while you’re creating

This one just KILLS me.

Many of my blogging clients struggle with perfectionism in their writing, which is why they hire me to help with their content. Before working with me, a lot of them were spending hours on a single blog post, even the draft. (Drafts are supposed to be imperfect, btw).

Drafting goes very quickly for me because I’m not concerned about it being perfect or even good while I’m just getting my thoughts down. I’ve overcome the lower barriers of perfectionism.

I drafted this article in about twenty minutes. Did it suck? Yes. Did I edit it and make it better? Also yes.

Whether you’re writing blog posts, creating video content, or just brainstorming, don’t judge or edit your ideas as they come out. You can always fix and edit later.

Perfectionism is sneaky, and it can mess up your business and your sanity.

Give yourself a break. Notice where you’re still getting stuck, and practice a mindset of flexibility.

It might save your business!

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Do you feel like a fraud in life and business?

Do you feel like a fraud in life and business?  - The Cafe Wordsmith

Do you ever feel like you’re “faking it” in business and that at any moment, you’ll be found out and revealed as a fraud? Are you afraid that you’re playing in a pool where you don’t belong and it’s just a matter of time before someone notices and calls you out on it?

There’s been a theme to my online conversations this week. The same issue has popped up over and over again, and it’s one I know well. I’ve struggled with it too.

Imposter syndrome

Wikipedia sums it up nicely:

Impostor syndrome (also known as impostor phenomenon, fraud syndrome or the impostor experience) is a concept describing individuals who are marked by an inability to internalize their accomplishments and a persistent fear of being exposed as a “fraud”.

I’ve dealt with this a lot in my own life and business, and if my recent interactions are any indication, I’m not alone.

Does this sound familiar?

I remember walking into my very first upper division literature course in college as a 19-year-old sophomore, completely convinced that everyone in the room was smarter than me and I was going to suck at that class, that all my papers would get laughed at, and that I wouldn’t understand the material. (By the way, I got an A in that class and when I graduated, that professor told me to let him know if I ever needed a letter of recommendation for grad school or something.)

Or this?

When I was just getting started as a general VA, I didn’t even think to focus on writing services. Writing was easy for me, so I figured it was easy for everyone and therefore, not a valuable skill. Then one day a client said “Hey, you’re a writer. Could you write me a blog post?” She gave me a topic and I sent her a draft less than an hour later. I thought this was completely normal until she said “Holy crap, that was fast! That would have taken me all day, and it wouldn’t have been as good!”

That’s when I realized imposter syndrome was holding me hostage again. I wasn’t a fraud. I actually was a good, fast writer. I realized that not everyone can crank out content as easily and painlessly as I can, and that people would probably be happy to pay me for that service. (Spoiler alert: They totally do, and now I’ve built a business around that skill.)

Is this ringing any bells for you? Do you ever think that what you do is easy and simple, and therefore couldn’t possibly be valuable?

Guess what? If something is easy for you, that means you’re good at it. It’s a skill. Not everyone can do it.

Math is easy for my brother, but not for me.

A friend and client of mine is an organizational wizard, but that’s still a skill that takes a lot of concentration for me.

I promise that you’re amazing at something too, even if you feel like you aren’t.

So how do you get over Imposter syndrome?

Notice what you’re good at and own it.

What’s easy for you? What are you good at? If you’re drawing a blank, ask other people who know you well. What are you good at? What is obviously easy for you that isn’t for them? These things are usually so commonplace for us that we miss them. They’re blind spots.

Know that you’re not alone.

The more I talk to people online and in the real world, I realize that imposter syndrome is everywhere. If you feel like a fraud, look around you. Chances are good that the people you admire, the ones who look like they have it together, they probably deal with this too, or have in the past.

Fake it.

It takes time and practice. Faking it ‘till you make it is a good technique here, but only if you remember that everyone else is struggling to feel legit too. You’re not alone. It also helps to talk to other people who can see your blind spots for you.

Gather evidence.

Start collecting evidence that you actually know what you’re doing. When I feel like a fraud, I talk to friends and my amazing clients. My clients are awesome about expressing their appreciation for my work and pointing out what they like about me, which has done WONDERS for my confidence as a content writer and VA.

Also, ACCEPT COMPLIMENTS. Most of us just brush off compliments, but don’t. Say thank you, and note what people compliment you for. If you blow off a compliment, chances are that’s one of your blind spots.

Confirmation from others is evidence that you aren’t actually a fraud and that you are good at what you do. Put this stuff in a computer file and look at it when imposter syndrome sneaks up on you.

Have you struggled with imposter syndrome in your life or business? How do you handle it? Leave a comment and let me know 🙂

 

How to Make Any Goal Your Reality

How to make any goal your reality - The Cafe Wordsmith

I’ve set a lot of crazy goals in my life. Some of them never amounted to anything; I might have lost interest, found something better, or just didn’t have a plan and gave up.

Other goals though, I’ve knocked out of the park.

I’ve had a lot of practice setting and reaching goals. I’ve learned what works for me and what doesn’t, and what works for me seems to work for a lot of people!

Goals are the magic bridge that connects our dreams to our reality.

I’m going to share the goal setting method I used to start and grow my business, write my novel, reach financial goals, and basically accomplish anything I set my mind to. I’ve learned that the method of setting goals is almost as important as the actions themselves, and having a plan can definitely speed things up.

How to Make Any Goal Reality

Step #1: Dream

What do you want your life to look like?

This is the part that drives the rest of the process, like fueling up your car before starting a road trip. Skip this step, and you won’t get very far.

So what do you want your life to look like? What would be amazing? How do you want to spend your time? What issues would you like to be solved? How do you want to feel?

Remember this amazing feeling, because this is your “why”, the whole reason for this process.

Spend some time with this daydream. Really sink into it and feel what it would feel like to have that life. If you’re into vision boarding, but out those scissors, baby. If you want to anchor this with affirmations, go for it. Whatever it takes to make that dream feel real to you, do it!

Step #2: Clarify

Define your dream with a goal

In your dream life vision, what have you accomplished? Do you have a successful business? Do you own your dream home? Have you quit your day job to work for yourself? Written your book? Write down anything that comes to mind.

Ask yourself what would need to happen in order for that dream to be true, and use that to form your goal.

Step #3: Refine

Get clarity

Your goal needs a few things to be really clear: You need to be able to measure it, you need a timeframe, and it has to be within the realm of possibility.

For example, “Have a successful business” is not a clear goal. “Increase my business revenue by 50k this year” is much clearer because you’ll know when you’ve achieved it, you have a timeframe, and it’s at least somewhat realistic.

(I’m all for dreaming big and shooting for the moon to land among the stars, but I’m a big fan of realistic goals too. More on this here.)

Figure out these details and craft a goal that is as specific as possible. For example: “I will pay off my students loans by Christmas,” or “I will double my email list in the next 100 days.”

Step #4: Map it out

Break that goal into small actions then schedule those actions.

Now that you’ve got an exciting, clear goal to shoot for, you’re probably feeling really overwhelmed. The best goals are the ones that feel possible, but scare us a little.

So where do you start?

You break things down into teeny tiny non-scary steps. You can probably think of lots of different things you’d need to do in order to reach your goal, so grab a piece of paper and write those down.

Those are probably big steps too, so write down the steps you’d have to take for those steps to be possible. If you get stuck, try reverse engineering those steps. What would have to happen right before reaching that milestone? What would have to happen before that? Keep going until the path unfolds at your feet and you run into steps you can take right now.

Then do those things in order. If they don’t all fall into an obvious order, do the most important things first.

Big tip: You might have absolutely no idea what to do and where to start, and that’s okay. Just deciding and setting the goal is the biggest step.

Get the “what” and “why” sorted out, and the “how” will follow.

Figuring out steps can be a step on its own. If you’re stuck and don’t know what to do next, take some time to do research, talk to an expert, etc. Anything you need to figure out steps. Just don’t get stuck in the research process. I suggest doing enough research to get a nice overview of the whole process, then enough research to find your next steps. This doesn’t have to take a long time, and it doesn’t have to be perfect. Learn enough to move forward, but don’t let it become procrastination!

This is the process I’ve used for just about every goal I’ve successfully accomplished, and I believe in it 100%. Give it a shot, and you might be astounded by what you create.

Need help accomplishing your business and blogging goals? Check out my services here! 

Know Your Goal Setting Style for Better Results

I’m super nerdy about certain things. Harry Potter, for example. Personal development. Writing. Goals.

Seriously, I love goals. Dreaming them up, defining them, writing them out, the whole process. I love the adventure of making a dream reality and the personal growth that comes along with it.

On my quest for the perfect goal-setting system, I’ve come across two basic schools of thought around setting goals that are actually motivating. I’ve tried both, and I realized that different methods work for different people. Knowing what motivates you is CRUCIAL to your success. After all, setting the RIGHT goal that you’re actually excited to reach plays huge role in whether you’ll actually reach that goal.

Let’s look at these two different goal-setting methods.

Method #1: Shoot for the Moon

The method involves big, huge, amazing goals that are scary and exciting. This gets a lot of people jazzed up because they’re the “shoot for the moon and land on a star” type, who are motivated by out-of-this world goals.

One reason this can work is because when your focus is far ahead of you, it’s actually really easy to accomplish a smaller goal that might have felt daunting on its own. For example, an author and speaker I follow tells a story of a cross country coach who told her they were going to run twelve miles one day, and they only ended up running six. She was so geared up for the twelve mile run that the first six miles passed quickly and easily.

Another business coach I really admire recommends this method, setting goals that are absolutely massive and then going for it. She feels that this pushes her farther than realistic,  less challenging goals would, because she’s the type of person who loves the thrill and feels amazing about her progress, even if she doesn’t quite reach her huge goal. It’s worked wonders for her and her business!

Method #2: Be realistic

The other common method I’ve seen is about setting realistic goals, even smallish ones. The idea here is that knocking out the lower hanging fruit and lots of small wins will motivate you to keep going.

By setting very achievable goals that are broken up into little milestones, you build momentum and ultimately, achieve more.

So do you prefer to take it slow or shoot for the moon? What’s your goal-setting style? Look at your history with goals. Have you had better success with big, outlandish goals, or do you accomplish more when you set smaller ones?

There’s no right or wrong answer here. It all comes down to what motivates you. Do you like to check off boxes, or land on a star?

I definitely fall into the second camp. I like smallish, only slightly-scary goals that still feel doable.

Massive goals just overwhelm me. I get caught up in the bigness of it and feel paralyzed instead of inspired. I might have big long-term goals, but I like to set more realistic goals and focus on the short-term. This keeps my eye on my next steps.

How to Dream Big AND Be Realistic

“Most people overestimate what they can do in one year and underestimate what they can do in ten years.” -Bill Gates

Both methods are valid. Both can work. But how can you harness the power of each to bring your most incredible goals to life?

Given enough time, you can accomplish just about anything, so the crazy-awesome goals can be great for long term (potentially very long term) goals. Time is the only difference between a realistic goal and a totally bonkers goal.

Set those goals. What do you REALLY want. What would be absolutely amazing if it were your real life?

Use that as your long term goal and break that into more realistic short-term ones, and then break those into doable steps that don’t paralyze you. Remember, nerves are fine and great for growth. Paralysis is not!

Do you need help reaching your business goals? I’d love to help! Check out my writing and virtual assistant services here. Let me take some tasks off your plate so you can focus on your goals!

Why Rest Should Be Part Of Your Business

Why Rest Should Be Part Of Your Business - The Cafe Wordsmith

I’m going to switch gears for a minute and take a break from the usual posts about blogging and productivity tasks. Why? Because I need a break.

Guess who else probably needs a break? You!

We entrepreneurs are a busy bunch, whether we’re busy with our own business stuff or with client work, and too often we forget that we are actual human beings with actual needs, including the need for rest.

We resist it. We keep going, keep growing, keep hustling, keep pushing through tiredness and brain fog. Eventually, we burn out. Our bodies go “HEY, REMEMBER ME?” and force us to stop. We get sick. Our brains crash so hard that we can’t crank out even one more blog post, coaching session, interview, email, or social media update.

That’s what happens when we don’t rest. I don’t know about you, but I’ve been through the hustle/burnout/rest cycle many times, and I’m finally starting to wise up and realize that I can avoid that whole burnout part by taking breaks from the hustle.

 

Why We Need Rest

If you don’t rest, you will burn out. The longer you try to push through your tiredness, the longer and more severe that period of burnout will be, and the more productivity you will lose.

Growing a business and learning to be a more awesome entrepreneur is like building a muscle.

Think about working out. If you want to make some serious gains, you work out, lift your weights, then you nourish those muscles by eating, then you rest. You don’t actually grow while you’re pushing and working out. You grow while you’re resting, because those muscle fibers need to heal.

When you’re growing in business, you need downtime to digest everything you’re learning so you can more effectively implement it. You need space and quiet time away from your computer so you can come up with new ideas and gain new insight into your business (and other areas of your life). You need to rest so you actually have the juice to work on your business. Trust me, you will be so much more effective when you’re well-rested, well-nourished, and happy than you will be when you’re sleep-deprived, grumpy, and running on coffee and Funyuns.

You need to eat well, sleep, go outside, read a (non-business) book, be creative, spend time with loved ones, laugh, watch a movie, play with your dog, watch the sunset, sleep in, play a game, whatever recharges you. It’s part of your job to keep your mind and body in tip-top shape so you can be the effective in your business.

Also, don’t put off rest thinking that you’ll get to slow down “when”; when this launch is over, when you’ve hit your income goal, when you’ve finished your book, when you finish this client project. Trust me, “when” never comes, because something else will always pop up and demand your attention. Rest when you need to. Rest as you go along, and you will be so much more inspired and clear-headed and ready to tackle your business tasks in half the time.

 

Time to Rest

In my life, rest means taking it easy during the holiday season. This is a slow month for me, and I’m okay with that this year. I’m okay with spending a little less time working and a little more time reading, working on my own writing projects, hanging out with my family, or sleeping in a little later. Instead of doing a butt-kicking workout every day, I’m doing a lot more yoga. I’m holding off on new offers and most marketing stuff until January, because this has been a crazy year and I just need to rest.

For you, resting might mean logging off an hour early for a week or two, or logging on a little later. Maybe you rely on your team to pick up the slack so you can take a breather and get clear on your direction for the new year. Maybe rest for you looks like building up passive income or business savings throughout the year so you can take the whole month off. Maybe you need a vacation.

Whatever rest means for you right now, I encourage you to give yourself some space to slow down, especially if you live in the northern hemisphere where we’re experiencing the darkest month of the year and our bodies naturally want to slow down. We weren’t made to be productive all the time. Nature has seasons, and so do we.

Rest is crucial for growth, and I’m embracing it this holiday season.

How are you resting right now? How would you like to rest? Leave a comment and let me know!

How Successful People Find More Time

How Successful People Find More Time - The Cafe Wordsmith

It might seem obvious, but I was shocked when it actually dawned on me that all these super productive and successful people I looked up to had no more time in their days than I did.

I mean, duh, right?

For some reason, it just hadn’t occurred to me that they had the exact same 24 hours as everyone else. So how on earth were these people getting so much more done? How do people build successful businesses, complete massive creative projects and still have a life?

Then I realized this: The people who are kicking butt in their lives and businesses aren’t wasting time on stuff they don’t actually have to do.

The issue isn’t a lack of time; the issue is that too many of us are doing stuff that isn’t moving us forward.

Successful people ruthlessly audit their time and make adjustments when needed. They know how to get things done and what’s important to them.

 

How successful people find more time (and how you can too!)

They prioritize

They do the important stuff first. They figure out what’s important and what’s not, and they organize their lives around it.

Try it: What three things NEED to get done today? What would improve your life and move your business forward? Make those your priorities for the day, and finish those before you do anything else.

They eliminate

If it’s not important and doesn’t actually have to get done, they don’t sweat it. I mean, it’s okay if they bring chips and store bought hummus to a potluck instead of spending hours on a homemade appetizer. It’s okay if they decide to quit Twitter because they hate it and it’s not bringing in much traffic anyway.

Try it: What’s one thing you’re spending time on that isn’t yielding results? Is it a social media platform, a commitment, a marketing technique, or some tiny little timesuck that just isn’t pulling its weight? Find it and eliminate it. You have better things to do.

They don’t insist on perfection.

There’s a big difference between having high standards and being a perfectionist. Perfectionism wastes time, because you get caught in the tiny details that don’t really matter while missing the stuff that does matter. Successful people don’t endlessly edit and revise their awesome ecourse to avoid releasing it. They meet their deadlines.

Try it: Do you have a project that isn’t moving forward because you can’t stop messing with it? A blog post that you haven’t published because it isn’t perfect? Let go of perfectionism today and put it out there. Make sure it’s free of errors, sure, but don’t worry if it isn’t the next Canterbury Tales. It doesn’t have to be perfect to be awesome. 

They say NO.

We all have requests and commitments flying at us from all directions, but people who know what’s important to them know how to say “no” to anything that doesn’t feel right to them or that they simply don’t have time for. I get it, it might feel selfish to turn someone down for something, but remember this: your time is best spent on doing what you do best, on sharing your gifts with the world.

Try it: Say no to something today. Say no to that interview that you know won’t grow your business. Don’t volunteer to drive carpool next week when you really don’t have time. It’s really okay.

They delegate.

The hire someone to clean their house so they don’t have to. They hire help in their business to do the tasks they don’t actually have to do, and this frees them to do the stuff only they can do.

Try it: What do you need to outsource in your life or business? Is it cleaning? Blogging? Sending emails? Managing your social media?

Seriously, hiring a VA is one of the best things you can do for your business, and I’m not just saying that because I am one. I’ve seen businesses go from struggling to booming once they hired a team. The more you can take off your own plate, the more time you’ll free up to do the stuff that will actually grow your business!

Ready to end the stress and take back your time? Check out my services here.

I have some availability for a new client or two and I’d love to talk to you! If you’re drowning under the weight of your business and need someone to help you get organized and publishing content regularly, hit me up!

Remember, successful people are just people. If they can do it, so can you!

 

 

 

The One Productivity Tool I Can’t Live Without

The One Productivity Tool I Can’t Live Without - The Cafe Wordsmith

 

Everyone has their favorite productivity tools and techniques. Some people are into apps, fancy planners, or workflow programs.

All those things are awesome and I definitely use them, but do you really want to know the one tool that helps me buckle down and get things done?

The humble timer.

And no, that’s not an app called The Humble Timer. I mean the timer on my phone. Or an egg timer. Or the kitchen timer on my microwave.

It might sound too easy, but trust me, when that timer is running, my brain focuses like a laser and blasts through tasks like you wouldn’t believe.

 

How This Productivity Tool Helps Me Get Things Done

Think about it:

You’ve probably noticed that work expands to fill the time allotted for it. If you give yourself a week to do a project, it will take you a week. If you give yourself a day to finish, it will take a day.

It’s crazy how this happens. When we have more time, we find ourselves waffling around, playing with Slinkies at our desks, checking Facebook or email when we should be working, and doing a lot more messing around than if we’d given ourselves a tight deadline.

This is how the timer works for me.

If I have a task to do (like batch writing blog posts), I’ll set my timer for an hour or two and buckle down. I know that when that timer goes off, I’ll have to stop and move onto something else, so I have no choice but to focus and bust out those blog posts like there’s no tomorrow. So I do.

I use a timer for writing, housework, business tasks, you name it. And you better believe I have a timer running right this second while I’m writing this post!

The timer also helps me with hourly client work. Instead of starting my day with a to-do list for each client, I’ll chunk out my day into hours. I’ll set my timer for an hour or so to work on one client’s tasks before moving onto another. When I only have an hour, I immediately prioritize and get tasks done that need to happen that day.

This also helps me manage my client hours to make sure I get them all done during the month (because it’s not fun to end up with a pile of unfinished hours at the end of the month.)

 

Try it!

Try switching from a to-do list mindset to a time-based mindset. Keep your tasks in one place (like Teamwork or Asana), set your timer, and get to work. You’ll be amazed by how much you can do!

Looking for more ways to streamline your business? Grab my free blog post checklist to make sure your posts are scannable, engaging, and converting!

 

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