Even before starting Chaos & Kiddos, back when I was writing for the Hampton Roads Creative, I was often asked about my workflow for bringing blog posts to life. As with most other things in my OCD-laden life, there is a method to my madness. And likewise, being short on time, this method has to accomplish a lot in the smallest amount of time. How do I blog? Quickly and painlessly.
Here’s my process of 4 steps to easy writing. Call it crazy. It’s certainly not rocket science, nor the one and only right way to blog post writing. But it’s my little piece of heaven and it works like a charm for me.
1. Head Chat. Talk out your topic. I actually “write” most of my blog posts in the car during my morning commute, and sometimes even in the shower. (Notice I’ve identified the singular two moments of my day where I can count on being alone and quiet.) I take the idea and start talking it out conversationally in my head. If I can keep the conversation rolling and see a paragraph forming, it’s a go. If I tap out quickly or struggle for direction, it gets dumped. I keep chatting about it, reworking it, rethinking it until the next opportunity I have at the computer.
2. Quick Draft. 15 minutes or less. Time to dump! The 15 minutes or less are a removal of the head chat and the deposit onto “paper.” If I’m really cookin’ this can end up being pretty close to a final post. If I’ve only just dug into the head chat, I might toss an outline or the first few paragraphs and then bullets to the remaining ideas I need to fill in later. If the ideas are not coming quickly and easily after having thought it out in my head, and I near that 15 minute mark with no real progress, the idea gets tabled. I’m not ready for it yet. If I’ve got what I need for a post, it should come together with relative ease at this point (as far as outlining the main ideas and direction).
3. Title Cues. Leave yourself notes. Virtual post-it notes for the win! Because of my method, I often have a long list of drafts in various states of completion in my blogger file. It can be hard at first glance to tell what stage of the process they are in when I log in to see what I can get completed and scheduled. So I leave myself notes! In the title I mark the status in capital letters. I use phrases like FILL IN THE BLANKS, INSERT IMAGES and other cues to give me a split second gut check.
4. Final Pass. Read it in preview. Once I’ve completed the other steps and think I’ve hit the mark for a final draft, I shift it over to preview mode and change my perspective. In preview, I see the post as it will actually appear on the blog. I make note of any spelling or grammatical errors, or even layout that looks funky. But most importantly, I read it as a reader. I try to forget that I wrote it and think about how I would feel about the post if I was coming across it for the first time (it helps if I give a few days between writing and the final pass so it’s not as fresh in my head). If I find myself actively reading to the end, we’re good to go. If I trip up anywhere (I read it out loud to test my sentence structure and fluidity), it’s back to the drawing board for some edits.
Being a blogger is hard work. Coming up with useful content and relaying that to an audience in an engaging manner on a regular basis can feel incredibly overwhelming. Couple that with the day to day requirements of social media, networking and basic operations, it’s certainly a lot more than just keeping a friendly online journal. It very quickly takes on a life of its own. But it shouldn’t be painful. For some, I know that writing is a tortuous and arduous process, with a constant panic of “what to write next.” It shouldn’t be that way! You should find joy and passion in what you share. Setting up a consistent workflow like the one above (or whatever works for you) is the first step to developing a process that doesn’t leave you stressed or burnt out. Good luck!
Social Media Scheduling 101: The Basics
Why is social media scheduling important?
Today’s culture, both personally and professionally, is driven by real time transparency. There are any of a million ways that we can interact with the world and share our life journeys, which has been the doorway to maintaining friendships, keeping family from afar close and celebrating life with like-minded individuals. But on the other hand, every time that phone blips that a new message has popped up, we’re driven by madness to look. It’s exhausting!!!! And ultimately incredibly time consuming. As a small business owner, the drive to build a following can be intoxicating and the pressure to be available to your clients 24/7 is crippling. How do you actually “do” your business if you’re always distracted by social media? Social media scheduling is the very best way to continue to curate and share content with your audience, while allowing yourself to focus on higher priorities in your personal and professional life.
If I schedule social media am I lying to my followers by “pretending” to be online when I’m not?
Any way that you can automate your workflow to save time and develop a routine, you are being true to yourself, your clients and most importantly, your family. The key is to appear to be accessible during high traffic times, but not actually be sitting there glued to your phone or computer hanging on every word uttered to the social media gods. Social media scheduling allows us to cater to multiple audiences at their individual peek times, gives us the opportunity to stay active and engaged while on the go and makes sure we have time to focus on what really counts.
Where do I start?
I have two go-to programs that can work for even the most basic new learners (and have lots of advanced features for those in the know). And bonus…they’re FREE! What we’re moving towards is organized strategy. Social media scheduling allows you to develop a marketing strategy for your business and then execute it. You simple couldn’t do that properly on the fly and would get lost in the weeds. These next two tools can help put you on the path to a social media presence that translates to growth and long-term sustainability.
If you’re just digging into the social media behemoth, let’s put a simple tool to work for you while you get your bearings. Similar to how Instagram can cross post to Twitter and Facebook, Friends + Me can take your Google Plus posts and push them to several other platforms. I personally post to Google + and it carries over to Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn. One action = 4 social media networks.
I’ll admit, this tool can be visually tricky and take a little getting used to if you’re heavy handed with links and tags. Once you get comfortable with how your posts will appear in the different feeds, you’ll tailor your original content to work across the board. It’s a fantastic way to save time by not having to manually cross-pollinate your content to each and every platform individually. It’s a great way for new learners to “phone it in” while you up your social media knowledge and a stellar way for a seasoned social media vet to knock out a task list for simple content shares.
Hootsuite is the other tool I rely heavily on. In short, it’s a one-stop shop for me to manage all of my profiles on the various platforms that I use. In its most basic form, I schedule all Twitter activity (content sharing) in here or via their Hootlet (content curating). I can tell you it’s really the Hootlet that is life changing. This little plugin is ridiculously awesome. It allows me to wrap up items of interest in a nice little box with a beautiful little bow instantly and schedule directly from my point of interest. I can open it up from any source and schedule a tweet/share from any of my accounts instantaneously without having to copy/paste links or images into Hootsuite itself. That save of a few clicks is amazing!!!
– Google Plus (2 business profiles)
So. How does this ultimately save time? Have I just traded time spent manually posting for time spent scheduling automation? The key here is to carve out time and stick to it. Don’t be scheduling all day! It defeats the purpose. Here are some quick rules to keep in mind:
- Set a specific day each week (or even an hour each morning/night if that’s better for you) that is devoted to scheduling the next weeks’/days’ tweets/posts/etc. Make that a calendar time in your routine. Stick to it! I do all of my scheduling first thing in the morning. That way my social media profiles are working in the background while I am completing my normal business day and any activity can just be responsive.
- Commit to a time each evening that the phone/computer gets put away. For example, clients at The Studio now know that our business booking hours are Monday – Friday from 8AM – 5PM. If they email us during that time, they expect a response. But if they email outside of that time, they know they’ll hear from us during the next business day. We’ve educated them and we’re training ourselves. Now, when that email dings with a new inquiry, I don’t look at it if it’s after hours. They know, and I know it will be there tomorrow.
- Give yourself a break! Cut yourself some slack! It’s ok to take a break from time to time on social media. It’s ok to not post every meal, every night out, every stylish outfit. Let go of the pressure to perform. Focus on enjoying the interactions with people and sharing your heart. You’ll find it not only comes more naturally, but more purposefully. Be IN your life.
Pin this to your Small Business Tips & Tricks Board or your Blogging Resources Board! Don’t have one? Follow me!
Did you like this post? Check out How to Create Hyper-Linked Email Signatures in Gmail!
IBA Blog Conference – October 12-17, 2015
Mark your calendars!!! I have some very exciting news to share!!! The International Bloggers Association is hosting their very first IBA blog conference! The IBA Network-a-thon will be hosted online October 12th – 15th. Yup, that’s right! A virtual conference! You don’t have to worry about travel expenses, child care, vacation time or anything! Just you, me, the IBA, our computers and some amazingly awesome Google Plus Hangouts.
Want to hear the very best news? The IBA blog conference is SUPER affordable. Only $10 for your ticket! Even more exciting? Use the code KATY to receive a special Chaos & Kiddos discount! You’ll get $5 off. 50% off! At that price, there’s no reason to miss out on what will be a fun week of networking, learning and blog sharing. The IBA blog conference will be a great opportunity to discover your tribe of blog supporters, learn new tips and tricks, and dig into blogging professionally. Don’t miss out! $5 is less than a cup of Starbucks coffee! Woot! Click on the big IBA right below or click on “Buy this on Selz” to grab your 50% off discount ticket now! Don’t forget to use the code KATY! See you in October!
Twitter Tools to Increase Your Sanity
When it comes to Twitter, automation equals sanity. Simple as that!
We all know that every business must have a solid social media presence. However, scheduling, monitoring and reporting on your feeds eats up crucial time that can be can better used running your business. Have no fear, there are an endless number of Twitter tools available to help you manage your profiles; saving you precious time and money by working behind the scenes while you stay front and center in your marketplace.
Here are the strategic areas you want to concentrate on when engaging the Twittersphere:
Keep those tweets coming without having to sit at your computer day and night. Tools such as HootSuite and Buffer are extremely popular. With multi-feed capacity, flexible layouts and a host of powerful features, these two behemoths will revolutionize how you approach social media across every platform, not just Twitter.
Keep it organized!
If you have multiple accounts, Twitter tools can help organize and implement your strategy.TweetDeck handles this perfectly. Get more involved with Sprout Social that includes CRM features, or SocialOomph to automate and keep corporate accounts clean and tidy. Nobody wants to click back and forth between a million tabs, or spend way too much time signing in and out of several profiles. Organize yourself with a “one-stop shop” approach!
Show off with pictures!
Grab them with graphics to go with your hot content. No time to source images or develop images of your own offline? Check out MavSocial to link to stock images and manage your digital assets as you compose your tweets.
What did they say?
In order to build engagement, you have to know what others are saying about you. Mentioncan monitor your Twitter mentions and even links through to other tools like Buffer. Twitter tools that are integration-friendly are always a win-win. Trends24 tracks the ever important hashtag and hot topics. Never miss an opportunity to keep an open dialogue with your customer base moving forward.
Remember that campaign from 2013? You need to be able to go back and search on what worked and what didn’t. Topsy lets you search all the way back to 2006 while TweetChat helps you keep up with your favorite hashtags and chat with others. Avoid making the same mistakes twice and repurpose successful campaigns for future growth.
Ready, Set, Grow!
Each time someone shares your content, your reach grows. Make it as easy for them as possible with links using Click to Tweet. Everybody loves the easy button!
Being able to determine what works and what isn’t provides critical insight that translates to real growth and sustainability. SumAll and Twitonomy help break it down into specific actionable data that you can use to improve your reach in future campaigns.
There are plenty of options out there to help you manage Twitter and other social media platforms. It’s just a matter of finding the right one that works for you and letting them work for you. Which Twitter tools have been pivotal to maintaining your sanity and growing your business?