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Chicago Freelance Copywriter

Archive for November, 2010

How to Avoid Blogger Burnout

how-to-avoid-blogging-burnoutWriting a blog is both incredibly rewarding and extremely exhausting.  The need to constantly produce content that adds value to a website is no easy feat.  When you write a post that you know will resonate, and potentially blow people’s minds, it’s a great high.  But when you are on your couch at 11:45pm trying to get a post out before you fall asleep sitting up, it’s a low low.

So how do we avoid the burnout?  I am going to give you the usual tricks, but sometimes I just don’t have the time or the energy to follow them all.  That’s when I feel the burnout creeping up.  What I’ve noticed is that whenever I’m so tired I’m not sure if I’m going to get Wednesday’s post up, I always do.  And I think that’s where some of the anti-burnout magic lies.  I know I’m going to get it done and give it my all, even if it physically hurts.  However, the key is to get to that point so infrequently that it becomes as rare as Santa Claus coming to visit.

When putting in my all to avoid blogging burnout, what are the most effective tactics?

Blog in advance

So simple, so easy, so common sense.  Soooo hard to do sometimes.  But when you do it, it will make a huge difference in how you view your blog and your blogging responsibilities.  It will allow you to follow the 24/48 rule, and put out better content with less stress.

Always be coming up with topics

There are many ways to go about this.  My favorite way is observing and taking notes.  I use my iPhone notes, other people prefer actual pen and paper, and I kind of want to try taking voice memos.  But I really do get most of my post ideas from observing the world around me.  Other options are to set up Google alerts for keywords, or to read as many blogs as possible and “borrow” some of the ideas that really resonate with you.  As long as you give them a 100% different spin and writing, of course.

Give yourself a break

Sometimes I think most of the blogging burnout comes not because of the actual writing and thinking but because of the pressures bloggers put on themselves.  If you’re a small business owner and you set out to blog once a week but customers, invoices, new business prospects get in the way, give yourself a break.  The blogging world will wait for you.

Those are some of the ways I think help avoid blogger burnout.  What do you do when your blogging passions begins to wane?





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Social Media Blitz = Full of Delicious Chili

social-media-blitz-=-full-of-delicious-chiliMoonshine is a restaurant a block away from my apartment in Chicago. Sunday, November 14th they hosted a chili cook-off. However, if it weren’t for social media, I would have had no idea they were holding such a remarkable event, and as I write this, I wouldn’t be chocked full of 15 different types of delicious chili. That would be a crime against humanity.

I am going to take you through the steps that got me to the chili cook-off and my blessed out state of fullness.

Step One: My husband, Ryan, was reading The Chicago Tribune food blog, The Stew, and saw a mention of a chili cook-off. Considering the restaurant is so close and we are both chili connoisseurs, he sprung into action.

Step Two: He sent me the blog post about it. I was immediately excited.

Step Three: We both went the Moonshine Chicago website to see what the site had to say about it. They were smart enough to have a write up on their site.

Step Four: Ryan Yelped the event and sent me some reviews from last year’s chili cook-off.

Step Five: We sent out an email to our neighborhood friends asking if they’d like to join us, and included the following links:

http://www.yelp.com/events/chicago-moonshine-chili-cook-off

http://www.moonshinechicago.com/roadhouse/?p=844

http://www.ticketweb.com/t3/sale/SaleEventDetail?dispatch=loadSelectionData&eventId=3279335

Step Six: We got emails back with much excitement and made plans to attend this chili-cook off.

Step Seven: We attending the event with some friends of our (Hi Steve and Marci!) and ate WAY too much chili and then needed to rest.

Step Eight: I wrote this post.

So you can see how different factors of social media, from blog posts to the Moonshine website to Yelp got me and some friends to this event.

Additionally, when we arrived at the chili cook-off, we were asked to vote for the best chili. What was on the voting ballot? A space for my email address, which I provided so that I will be kept in the loop for next year. Total genius on the part of Moonshine. They took an opportunity to get the email addresses of people who are probably already fans of their restaurant.

It wasn’t 100% social media perfection though. I checked out their Twitter feed, which had nothing about this event, and their Facebook page is not a fan page, but a friend page, which means I can’t just “like” them and see their information. But they did have a shout out on their info page about the cook-off.

All in all, I was really impressed with how I found out about the event and that they had the foresight to ask for my email address.

I hope you can take this example and see how social media really can help promote a business.





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using-social-media-to-position-yourself-as-a-thought-leader-in-your-industryI strongly believe that all small businesses should be using social media to position themselves as thought leaders within their industry.

In fact, as I get deeper and deeper into social media writing and social media consulting, this is the conversation I am having the most.

There are so many ways to effectively use social media to communicate with customers and increase brand recognition and sales. And most small businesses can do it without spending a penny. All you need nowadays is sweat equity.

However, the really smart businesses are not only using social media to communicate and connect, but to position themselves as an expert, as the “guru” of what they do.

What do you do in order to accomplish this? It’s simple. Follow these two steps:

Blog

Write a blog post every week that clearly states your expertise. If you’re a divorce attorney, post your tips for achieving a lucrative and peaceful divorce. If you’re a graphic designer, post tips on how to effectively create the perfect website header.

The most common comment I hear to this is, “I don’t know how to write like an expert, how to position myself as a thought leader.”

I saw, write the post and send it to me. 99% of the time they sound like an expert. They are just so entrenched in their field that they forget nobody else knows as much about their field as they do.

Disseminate

This is where social media comes in. Build a Facebook following, a Twitter following, a solid email list, and get that content out there.

Every single blog post I write goes up on Facebook and Twitter. Yours will too. Then your 300 followers will see your blog, read it, and realize you are an expert, you are a thought leader.

The next time they know someone who needs a divorce lawyer, they’re going to think about you, because you have made an impression as someone who knows what they’re talking about.

And it really is that simple.

Many of you are still skeptical. So my advice then? Just try it. You have nothing to lose but a few hours a week and so much to gain.





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What to do When Your Brain is on Empty

what-to-do-when-your-brain-is-on-emptyTwo nights ago, I was woken up at 1:30am and again at 5:30am. The culprit?  Water was leaking into my apartment, setting off my carbon monoxide detector and potentially taking years off my life with that horrible noise. Is there anything worse than an alarm going off in the middle of the night? Yes, there are millions of things, I’m aware. I do read the newspaper. But somehow, in the moment, an alarm going off in the middle of the night really rates with the worse possible thing to happen in a long time.

Once the beeping stopped and I got another 30 minutes of sleep, I dragged myself out of bed at 7am to wait for the plumber.  In those bleary-eyed moments between 7:00 and 7:02, I knew I had a choice to make. I could either waste a day feeling tired and annoyed, or I could make it my business to use this abnormal schedule and change in my routine to motivate myself and get work done.

The totally and completely amazing part is I did, and I think I learned a few valuable lessons on how to get myself to work, even when the unexpected happens. Now I share that knowledge with you in case you are ever woken by a water-filled carbon monoxide detector going off and scaring the bejezzus out of you:

I got started working right away. I have mornings, like everyone else, where I putz around on the Internet and take my time getting into my work. When I’m this tired though, putzing will only lead to napping. So I made it my business not to putz. I opened my computer and immediately opened a word document I had been editing. Score one for Rebecca.

I worked on projects that required more editing and finessing than content creation. I know my limitations and I need a brain on high to come up with content that will blow people’s minds. But editing and revising after I’ve already written is something I can do when writing brand new content just isn’t working for me.

I spent a lot of time following up on emails and responding to new client requests. Just because I’m not writing doesn’t mean I’m not working. That took me awhile to figure out. When you own your own business, work is not how many hours you bill, but how many hours you bill on top of how many new clients you are able to bring in.  So I spent a good portion of my day on those new client proposals.

When my brain really was begging for a nap, I turned to my Google reader and took it upon myself to read my favorite blogs and leave comments on the ones that moved me. Again, it’s part of my job, and it doesn’t take as much brain power as other parts.

In the end, I battled against the day and won. I got more accomplished than I do on some days I get 8 hours of beauty rest and don’t have to deal with a leaking ceiling.

So my overall lesson? It’s all a mind game. Perhaps if I ran marathons I’d already know that it’s 30% physical and 70% mental, or whatever the saying is. However, I am not mental, so I do not run marathons. But on this particular day I did put my mental state above my physical state and won.

How do you get yourself to work when you are lacking the brain power you usually possess?





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Guest Post

Good Tuesday to you!

I’ve got another guest post up at We Blog Better.  Check it out.

http://weblogbetter.com/2010/11/09/5-ways-to-join-the-blogging-community/

See you tomorrow.





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