How I Write a Blog Post in Under an Hour

HOW I WRITE A BLOG POST IN UNDER AN HOUR

I’ve written hundreds of blog posts over the past ten years for myself and clients, and by now, I’m pretty fast. Unless I have to do a lot of research, I can write an 800-word draft in 20 minutes.

Most of the time, I can write a blog post in under an hour with another quick edit right before I publish.

This comes from practice, of course, and from being a really fast typer, but I’ve also dialed in my process so that I minimize habits that slow me down.

It doesn’t have to take you forever to write a blog post! Here’s how I do it.

 

How I Write a Blog Post in under an hour

 

Step One: The Dump Draft

This isn’t exactly a first draft, but a pre-draft. I call this a dump draft because I think of it like dumping all my material out so I can shape it later. Think of dumping clay on a table so you can start sculpting.

This step is the KEY to writing anything quickly. This immediately gets you past the blank page jitters, which can save you so much wasted time waffling about what to write!

The idea is to get all your ideas on paper, even if they’re out of order or misspelled or make no sense. No editing allowed! Just get it all out. Write anything you can think of about your topic, story, or ideas. Anything you want to mention in your post. Write it down now, even if it’s out of order. No room for perfectionism here.

“I’m writing a first draft and reminding myself that I’m simply shoveling sand into a box so that later I can build castles.”
― Shannon Hale

You might be freaking out right now because you’re probably a perfectionist and the idea of writing a messy draft is terrifying. Trust, me, I get it. It gets easier the more you do it.

Try these tips to get started if you’re just plain stuck.

Tips for writing your dump draft:

  • Try making a really loose outline of your article. It’s okay if the points are out of order. Edit later.
  • Freewrite on your topic for a few minutes.
  • Start in the middle or start with the steps. The hardest part of writing an article is just starting it, so skip that part! It’s a lot easier to write an intro and conclusion after you’ve written the bulk of the article, so jump right to the good stuff first.

After you’ve gotten the bulk of the post on paper, write a simple introduction and conclusion. Think of this like a school essay: the intro tells your reader what the post is about and what to expect. The conclusion just wraps things up. You can even reiterate the introduction and add a new thought to leave with your reader.

Remember, it’s okay if your dump draft sucks! It’s supposed to. You can edit later.

 

Step Two: Organize

So much of writing is just organization.

After I dump out all my thoughts, I start lumping them together in an order that makes sense.

To do this, read through your dump draft and move sentences or paragraphs around to group like topics with like topics. Ask yourself what your reader would need to learn first, second, and third, and put your thoughts in that order.

Chances are, your thoughts are already somewhat in order, but things might still need to get moved around. There will probably be holes in your thoughts and things might feel disconnected, but don’t worry. We’ll fix that in the next step.

 

Step 3: Edit and Revise

This could be two steps, but I tend to do them at the same time. Read through your text and continue organizing, but this is the part where you start filling in holes.

Do you need to explain something a bit more? Do need to cut any unnecessary or repetitive parts? Should you include more examples? Would something made more sense if you reworded it?

Flesh out and clean up any confusing or under-explained parts. When you think you’ve done a pretty good job, it’s a good idea to let someone else read it and make sure it makes sense.

 

Step 4: Final Proofread

When you feel like your article is almost ready, do at least one more read-through to check for misspellings, grammatical errors, punctuation or capitalization mistakes, or usage errors.

I suggest taking some time away from your post before doing your final proofread because after you’ve read something 576 times, you stop seeing errors like typos. (Trust me, I’ve learned this one the hard way.)

I usually proofread after editing, but I ALWAYS do another pass right before publishing or sending off a client piece, and I almost always catch something I missed on the first pass.

 

Writing a Blog Post Doesn’t Have to be Hard

If this process seems intimidating, that’s okay. Writing, like everything else, gets easier with practice.

Final tips:

  • Don’t edit while you draft.
  • Don’t skip the dump draft.
  • If the post doesn’t flow right, try moving sentences or paragraphs around.
  • Do a final proofread before publishing.

Lastly, have fun with it. I know that sounds super corny, but it’s true. If you let yourself enjoy the process, your words will flow more freely. Blogging is a marketing tool, but it can also be a beautiful creative outlet!

 

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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What should your first blog post be about?

What should your first blog post be about? - The Cafe Wordsmith

You’ve decided to start a blog to market your products and services. You’ve created your site with Squarespace, Wix, WordPress, or some other program, and now it’s time to actually publish something.

You stare at the blank page with the default “Hello world!” title, wondering what the heck to write.

You might wonder, does your first blog post even matter?

How can you start things off on the right foot?

My answer: Your first post DOES matter, but it’s nothing to stress about. Chances are, not many people will even read your first post, at least not at first. Blogging is meant to build an audience, and if you have no audience, that first post might not get much love right away.

I don’t say this to discourage you, but to liberate you! This is your time to experiment. You don’t have to get it perfect right off the bat, and you can always update that post later.

But you have to start somewhere. I’ll walk you through it.

 

Before you start your blog, make sure you have a few other things in place.

Before we get into your first post, I want to make sure you have your two things first:

Your about page. I’ve seen bloggers treat their first post like an about page while their actual about page is pretty sparse. The problem with that is that your first post gets buried in your site pretty quickly and your about page lives on your main menu bar (at least it should!). This is the most visited page on your site, and it serves as an introduction to your readers and tells them what you’re about and how you can help them.

A goal for your first post. If you want to show potential clients that you know what you’re doing, point to your opt-in, or start educating your audience, that’s great! If your goal is just to publish something to get over the first post jitters, that’s totally fine too. When you know the purpose of your first post, it’s so much easier to write.

We’ll talk about your about page in another post, so let’s talk about your goal for your first post and how you can accomplish that.

 

Here’s What Your First Blog Post Should Be About

So what is your goal? What do you want your first post to accomplish? Write that down first. It usually comes down to three things:

You want to get clients

You want to point readers to an opt-in or paid product.

You just want to get it over with so you can stop freaking out about it.

If you’re looking for clients:

If your blog is serving as a portfolio, just jump right out of the gate with a post that shows off your knowledge and why your audience should work with you.

When I first started my business, this was my goal, so one of my first blog posts was 6 Blogging Tasks You Can Outsource. It’s general enough to educate my audience but also specific enough that I can be like “Hey, I can handle all these tasks for you!”

If you want sales or signups:

Your first post can point people to a product, service,  email list opt-in.

This might be your reader’s very first step in their journey with you, so talk about something that would logically lead to your opt-in or product. Ideally, your reader will read/love your post and want to learn more, so the next logical step should be to sign up for your list and get your freebie!

To get ideas, ask yourself what your reader might need to know before they can use your offering. You can also blog about the same topic that your offering covers.

For example, you’re probably here because you want to learn about blogging. One of my early posts was called 5 Types of Blog Posts That Get You Sales because I knew my ideal reader (that’s you!) is interested in blogging. So at the end of the post, I included a link to my blog post checklist to help them use what they learned in that post.

If you just want to post SOMETHING so you can stop losing sleep:

Another great approach is to write about a pillar of what you do. This could mean writing about why your topic is important and how it can help your audience (i.e. Why Your Business Needs a Blog.)

So what is the basis of what you do? Are you a virtual assistant? A social media manager? An OBM? A health coach? Do you make personalized, handmade jewelry?

Write about what you do and how it can help your audience.

Examples: 

“Why personalized jewelry is the perfect gift.”

“Why hiring a health coach is the next step in your fitness journey.”

“How an OBM can take your business to the next level.”

Think something basic and powerful that teaches your audience what you do and how you can help them, but also educates them. That way, they can walk away with something of value even if they’re not ready to click “buy” yet.

The nice part about having a strong foundational article like this is that you can always refer back to it and link to it in other posts!

The main thing with a first blog post is to get over the fear of the blank page. It doesn’t have to win a Pulitzer. Do your best, but don’t get so stuck in your head that you don’t publish anything. And remember, you can always edit it later!

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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A Copywriter’s Top Writing Tips for Bloggers

WRITING TIPS FOR BLOGGERS

Blogging and copywriting have a lot in common.

They’re both meant to grab readers’ attention, entertain, educate, and, at some point, convert readers into fans.

Sometimes we talk so much about blogging strategy and techy stuff that we forget that the foundation of blogging is actually writing!

I’m a writer who learned to blog and write sales copy, so I want to share some of my favorite writing tips for bloggers. Some of these will work whether you’re writing fiction, non-fiction, or blog posts, and others are more specific to blogging and copywriting.

Here we go!

My Favorite Writing Tips for Bloggers

Speak directly to your reader

Take one: If we use the words “we” or “us” a lot, it’s easy for our readers to disconnect from our writing. We want our readers to feel like we’re talking to them!

Let’s try that again.

Take two: If you use the words “we” or “us” a lot, it’s easy for your readers to disconnect from your writing. You want your readers to feel like you’re talking to them!

See the difference? That second one felt like I was talking to you, right?

If it makes sense, use “you” and “your” instead of “you guys,” “you all,” “we,” “us,” or the super formal/pretentious “one,” as in, “If one uses the words ‘we’ and ‘us’….” see what I mean?

Change the order

If you’re writing something that just isn’t flowing or making sense, try moving sentences or paragraphs around. So much of writing and editing is just organization!

Even if it doesn’t make sense, try switching up the order just to see if it flows better.

Embrace the crap draft

That’s what I call the very first draft of anything, because, let’s be honest, that’s what it usually is.

I also call the very first draft the “dump draft” because you’re just dumping ideas onto the page. Worry about organization and mechanics and stuff later.

I recently wrote a post about this. Spoiler: editing while you’re drafting will only slow you down, and I promise it won’t make your writing any better.

In fact, it might make your writing WORSE because you’re writing with lots of inhibitions, which can block some good stuff.

Have you ever heard the saying “Write drunk, edit sober?”

This quote is often misattributed to Ernest Hemingway, and I’m not sure where it actually came from, but there’s a little truth to that.

I’m not saying you should down a few margaritas before drafting your posts, (I’ve tried it and doesn’t actually work that well. Shocker, right?), but the point is, don’t censor yourself while you’re drafting.

Trust me, the first draft of this post was a mess. I set a timer for 15 minutes and dumped the whole thing in one go, and I think it’s a lot more interesting because of it.

Keep everything

When you’re editing, you’re going to have to cut some sentences, paragraphs, and even whole sections from your post.

When you’re drafting, you’ll probably go off on tangents and write some stuff that just doesn’t make sense for the final post. And that’s okay!

But that doesn’t mean that stuff is bad. It just means it didn’t fit the post.

When I’m editing, I keep another document open to paste anything I delete from my draft. (I do this for non-fiction, blogging, and fiction writing, by the way.)

Those other bits might be great kick-off points for a new post, a social media update, or to include somewhere else.

Knowing that you’re not losing anything will also sharpen your editing skills because you won’t be so attached to those bits. They’re not gone forever, they’re just getting recycled!

The passive voice is to be avoided

That heading was super lame, right? It just sounded…weak and floppy.

How about this: Avoid the passive voice.

Better, right?

You probably learned about passive voice in your school English classes, but here’s a quick refresher: Passive voice is boring, stiff, and formal. Active voice gets our attention.

In active voice, the thing that does the action (AKA the subject) is named or at least implied, and it comes BEFORE the verb (the action) in the sentence. In “Avoid the passive voice,” you’re the one doing the action. I could also say “You avoid the passive voice.”

In “The passive voice is to be avoided,” we don’t know who the doer is. Who is to avoid the passive voice?

Here’s another example: 

The dog ate my homework.

This is active voice because we know who or what is performing the action in this sentence (the dog) and the subject (also the dog) comes BEFORE the verb (ate) in the sentence.

Let’s switch that to passive voice: 

My homework was eaten by the dog.

The subject comes after the verb. Not as punchy, right?

Passive voice can come in handy if we don’t know who or what is performing the action (As in “The door was painted red”). Otherwise, it’s just flimsy writing.

Only use the passive voice if the doer is unknown or unnecessary.

Here’s an in-depth lesson on passive voice and when not to use it.

 

So I want to know, was this helpful? I’d love to post more writing tips from time to time if you found it useful! Let me know in the comments or on Instagram 🙂

 

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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!