The Day I Found Me

Ever notice how much noise is out there these days? It’s deafening.

Content is tossed to fans like candy from parade floats (or at least that’s how most content creators envision the interaction). Videos are uploaded to YouTube and Vimeo in record volume. Look at your newsfeed. People are constantly stealing small moments from their day to fill you in on what’s important to them. Food porn and cat gifs sneak their way into your daily life.

It’s a loud, loud world. So loud in fact, it’s hard to hear yourself think.

This year, the online course industry is expected to hit record new levels. Experts of all shapes, sizes, and education levels are gearing up to sell their wares (myself included) and teach you something new. This type of influence is helpful but only when it inspires you to find your calling. 

There are millions of voices out there, how do you find you?

This is a problem I struggle with daily. [Read more…]

Have More Confidence Publishing Your Work With These 5 Simple Writing Tricks

Do you yawn when you read your writing? Do you ever finish a blog post, hover your mouse over the “Publish” button, and then hesitate thinking how embarrassing it’d be to share what you just wrote with the world? Do you cringe every time you think of a reader landing on your blog, wondering how quickly they’ll hit the “back” button?

Writing doesn’t have to make you cower into your corner on the web too afraid to publish anything new and get found. Next time you’re wincing while reading your words, try these five simple writing tips to spruce up your writing so it’s enjoyable for you and your reader.

1. Craft the reading experience first.

If your thought process doesn’t flow, your blog post won’t either.

Before writing, put together the structure of the page.

    • What experience do you want your reader to have while scrolling through your post?
    • How do you want the person to feel at each stage of the post?
    • What’s the one thing you want your reader to understand after spending a few minutes with your blog post?

Remember, emotional appeal is what hooks your reader. An outline lets you define the emotions you want your reader to feel, so your writing doesn’t get sidetracked, scattered, or… hey look, there’s a rabbit!

Keep your writing focused by crafting the nuts and bolts of the reading experience first with an outline.

2. Cut the “that” fat.

“That” is one of the most overused words in the English language. Sure, there’s a place for the word in some writing. But most of the time it’s added in more liberally than necessary.

Cut some of the fat in your writing and tighten up your prose by eliminating the word “that” wherever you can.

3. Enthrall (not bore) your reader with your verbs.

Verbs (your action words) are some of the most fun ones to tweak during the editing process. They add life, spice, and vigor to your writing.

Exchange weak verbs for strong action statements. For example:

  • Instead of writing, “Working in the office during the summer, sucks!”
    You could say, “Grinding away at my desk during the summer, sucks!”
  • Instead of writing, “Johnny was asked to put on a pot of coffee first thing in the morning.”
    You could say, “Johnny was asked to brew a fresh pot of coffee first thing each morning.”
  • Instead of writing, “Use extra spices in your pie.”
    You could say, “Sprinkle more spices in your pie.”

Color your writing with better verbs to stir emotion in your reader.

4. Ditch cliche’s.

Cliche’s are overused statements – not because they’re so descriptive, but because they describe such broad situations, sentiments, and solutions. Because these phrases are muttered so often by people, they’ve lost meaning. Readers gloss over them with eyes that look as enthusiastic as a child who just got served broccoli for dinner.

Turn ordinary on its head by banishing cliches from your writing and sprucing up your text with more descriptive phrasing.

Let’s take this cliche for example: “All that jazz.”

What’s jazz?

Jazz to me might mean whipped cream on my iced coffee – yes, please! It might mean guacamole and sour cream served alongside my tacos, instead of just a thimble of salsa. It might mean a strawberry in my glass of Pinot Grigio (try it, it’s good) instead of just the adult-style grape juice.

But what does it mean to you?

To you, it could mean page titles and meta descriptions provided in the blog post. It could mean social media graphics provided for major holidays. It could mean an air freshener in your car after you get an oil change.

“All that jazz” refers to the little things piled on top of a larger idea. Instead of leaving those little things to your reader’s imagination, describe them. Tell your reader exactly what you want her to hear about the topic at hand. She’ll just way more out of your writing.

5. Break the rules.

It’s so tempting to listen to your high school English teacher’s voice inside your head while you write. Don’t.

Grammar is important. Hell, grammar is sexy! I cry a little each time someone sends me a text message where “your” and “you’re” aren’t used correctly.

Still, breaking a few grammar rules now and then to make your post shine isn’t a bad thing. It’s actually smart.

Focus your writing on the story you’re telling. Focus on the experience you want your reader to have with your words. Then, bring that story and experience to life on the screen with emotion-filled, relatable content. Trying to follow all the grammar rules will leave you sounding robotic instead of human. Stop worrying about perfecting your grammar and start publishing words your readers will love sinking their eyes into.

Want more writing tips? Check out Ann Handley’s book, “Everybody Writes.” (Note: That’s NOT an affiliate link.) It is the BEST book I’ve read (and the one I wish I wrote) about writing.

And if writing makes you cringe, don’t worry. I’m here for you.

Elevate Your Writing With These 7 Content Marketing Tools

About two months ago, I moved into a new house. It’s my dream house – not because of the doggy door (that I’m constantly watching to make sure a snake doesn’t crawl in through) or the open kitchen and living room that lets me refill wine glasses without missing out on a minute of “The Bachelorette” (don’t judge, it’s a guilty pleasure… you know you have them too.)

It’s my dream house because of the built-in home office.

home office

We lucked out. The woman who built our new house was an architect who also worked out of her home. It has perfect lighting and a window with a view… A VIEW! Every day I see at least one of the animals in the desert zoo we bought, including coyotes, rabbits, hawks, and javelinas (look those guys up if you’ve never seen one – they’re nasty, plant-eating, smelly creatures).

But there’s just one “problem” with this perfect home office. The ceilings are high and the floors are stained cement. Doesn’t sound that bad, does it? Aesthetically, it’s not, but get me on the phone and it’ll sound like I’m talking to you in a tin can (or on the can, which is quite a bit worse)!

So, it’s time to hang some stuff on the walls. I keep putting it off because hanging stuff isn’t something I love to do. For years, I’ve used push pins to get those artwork and wall hangings to stay up. Most of the time it works! But for the type of wall hangings I’m putting up (the kind that’ll minimize the echo and make me sound a lot clearer on the phone), I need some power tools.

Confession time: Power tools scare me.

The thought of drilling the holes in the wrong places, hitting a stud, or ruining the dry wall is enough to make me do whatever I can to revert back to using the minimal damage causing push pins. And that’s the strange part. For somebody who hates using power tools, I must say – I use them every day in the online world… and I love them.

Content Marketing Tools

If you’re shying away from hanging something up on your blog or website because you’re afraid of making a giant eyesore of a mistake, here are a few tools to help you push past the fear and keep your content marketing efforts nice and tidy. [Read more…]

How to Send Better Emails (And Stop Annoying Your Customers)

My husband has taught me many things.

  • How to go grill on the Big Green Egg;
  • How to paint the roof with elastomeric;
  • And how to manage my email inbox.

The last point might sound surprising but hear me out.

As the saying goes, opposites attract. My marriage is proof of that – to a point. He loves the outdoors; I love toilets and showers. He loves action movies; I love reality tv. He loves beer; I drink wine. He never signs up for email newsletters; I’m marketing-minded and curious enough to sign up knowing I can always unsubscribe (which has a tendency to flood my inbox to the point of overwhelm if I’m not careful).

If you were to compare my inbox and my husband’s inbox right now, you’d see two vastly different landscapes.

Mine is crowded and stuffed with business stuff. There’s (way too much) information about sales, meetings, volunteer requests, blog posts – you name it, it’s probably there.

On the flip side, his is filled with only a handful of emails from family, friends, and a few of the companies he loves hearing from.

Case in point: I’ve turned off my email notifications because it’s just too much hearing a chirp every time a new email arrived. He has not and those chirps from his phone aren’t overwhelming either of us.

What does your email inbox look like?

[Read more…]