The Moonphase team is growing and evolving to focus more on social media support services and consulting! I’m proud to welcome Jocelyn Wendt to the team as well, and together we’re delivering more when it comes to social media strategy and support for small businesses.
Moonphase Creative is offering less content creation and more consultation, social media support, and strategy these days. Why? Because it allows us to help more people. We wanted to craft tailor-made services that support small businesses, budding brands, and local companies as they develop their social media strategy, marketing plans, and communications.
While Moonphase still offers copy and content services, you’ll find more affordable and accessible plans that allow you access to our favorite tools, monthly consultation and support meetings. Plus, we offer unlimited text and email support to keep your business blooming in social content.
How Does Social Media Support Work?
How does social media support and consultation work? Our team is dedicated to solving your social media problems and offering you valuable strategy, insights, informed feedback based on our analytics, and a firm foundation in branding/image coaching and communications strategy. With our combined experience and specific areas of interest, Jocelyn and I bring a friendly, confident team to your fingertips.
If you have questions about social media best-practices, posting schedules, or engagement strategies, we can take a personalized look at your business and offer tailored insights that consider more than just what Google says in general. We also offer insight pertaining to not only what you’re posting, how often you’re posting, but also how you’re posting. Communication strategy matters! We look at your branding, messaging, and the platforms you’re utilizing and offer suggestions to make your social media and communications most efficient and effective.
Moonphase Creative Consulting and Support Services
We’re more than a content company. Moonphase Creative brings consulting and support services to We bring affordable plans and hourly rates to your team to keep consulting simple, affordable, and effective. Whether you need us a lot or a little, we come prepared with solutions, insights, tools, and tangible actions to start building your social and communications strategy immediately. Let us help you build your quarterly or monthly social media plan, or develop your blog strategy + email campaign + weekly content strategy. We bring organizational tools and management features like access to monday.com as well as access to analytics reporting.
Consulting and support should be accessible to all businesses. That’s why we keep our prices affordable and our offerings practical and solutions-oriented. Our goal is to
Hi, I’m Angi, and I am a storyteller who works a lot with B2B copywriting. My job as a copywriter is actually all about storytelling. My job is also about: creating brand identity, developing a persona of credibility and authority, connecting and engaging people and communities. I do all of those things through storytelling. So, to simplify my job description: I am a B2B storyteller.
I recently had someone tell me, in short, that my job shouldn’t exist. Apparently, deliverables sell themselves, and storytelling is simply not needed. Especially–I surmised–in B2B. The whole point of this person’s comment seemed that B2B is simply about providing services and products from one business to another.
People buy the outcomes, it was explained to me.
B2B copywriting is not needed in this commenter’s view because the deliverables sell themselves.
Thanks for that opinion, but as one who works in B2B copywriting, advertising, and marketing, I can tell you that… stories sell. They just do. We, as humans, are innate storytellers, and by that token–we are innate story seekers.
B2B Needs Stories, Too
Even in B2B, we need stories. The story of what your ideal business client is doing and why they need your company’s *insert valuable thing that everyone should know about* is incredibly important.
Without a marketing plan and strategy, how will people find out about your amazing product or service or magical deliverable? If I don’t tell you, you won’t know. A few might search for this thing they so obviously need, and maybe they’ll find your copy. But chances are, they won’t.
B2B copywriting is most effective when we relate the deliverable and its value as a story. Even reviews, in and of themselves, are stories. People share how a company’s deliverable did or didn’t create a solution or desirable outcome.
B2B Copywriting Has Benefits
There are many businesses who benefit from B2B copywriting. I would also dare to say B2B copywriting is not so different than client-facing copy, except that it often requires a deeper understanding of specific knowledge areas. However, humanizing B2B is a growing trend, and I am all for it.
Businesses are run by people, and many would tell you that businesses are built on relationships. Stories sell because people like stories, and stories help us understand everything better. Stories become a way for us to envision things and we automatically search for a way to insert our own self into the narrative. This is why, in Storybrand by Donald Miller, the big chunk of wisdom is create a story that your ideal client is the star of. Help them win the award/solve the mystery/conquer the thing. You are not the star–your client is. You are the solution, the road home, the whole plot fixer.
Storytelling for B2B vs. B2C
Storytelling as a marketing strategy is much more common in B2C, but B2B copywriting often relies on storytelling. Especially beyond plain copy: social media, content, and more can lend itself to the creation of a brand’s identity and define their authority.
B2B isn’t so different from that client-facing marketing strategy. B2B copywriting often aims to explain and educate, while also selling companies on products they may or may not need. This is why, fundamentally, storytelling is still effective in your B2B strategy. We are all, of course, humans–and that is why we need to humanize B2B.
Because B2B copywriting is written by humans, for humans, it must come from some seed of humanity, and to argue otherwise is dismissive of most anything fundamental to the basics of Marketing 101. To say that B2B copywriting is irrelevant and that stories don’t sell is ignorant. Until two days ago, I would have thought this was an obvious statement. However, the negation of my career’s value really did make me think about what I do and what value it brings.
In the search for B2B storytelling examples, you’ll find plenty of examples like this one. And so, I was able to remind myself that what I do has value, and I’m probably doing just fine in my field. I hope this blog post helped educate on B2B marketing and why it’s just as creative as any other marketing field. And I hope it perhaps offered some encouragement or validation to my peers and friends who are also creating narrative, stories, and strategies that sell (even in B2B).
But what if I told you that a lot of what I offer as a Copy and Content Writer has everything to do with marketing? And, since I primarily write for web, my writing really has everything to do with digital marketing–though, no, I am definitely not a digital marketer.
What is Digital Marketing?
So, first off, what is digital marketing, actually?
Digital marketing encompasses all marketing efforts that use an electronic device or the internet. Businesses leverage digital channels such as search engines, social media, email, and other websites to connect with current and prospective customers.
And that is exactly why my job as a copy and content writer has everything to do with digital marketing. I write for every single one of these platforms. As Donald Miller, author, speaker, and creator of the StoryBrand concept says, words are the ultimate tool in storytelling.
Visual storytelling is awesome. Having clean, crisp images and a color palette that ties in a brand’s identity and helps sell a brand image and further their story is awesome. But at the end of the day, folks, it comes down to words.
What Can You Do to Tackle Digital Marketing?
Since Digital Marketing really is an umbrella term encompassing all the many ways we target, connect, and engage audiences online, tackling digital marketing can have a lot of steps. I recommend setting some doable, bite-sized goals for yourself and starting small. Perhaps this means setting up a website for your small business, and then committing to writing blog posts regularly to help boost your SEO organically.
Then, after you’ve mastered that, perhaps your next step is tackling Facebook and Instagram. Make business accounts for both of these social media powerhouses and start sharing those blog posts you’re publishing regularly, and commit to several weekly posts on Instagram showing relevant content rather than just pictures of your adorable dog cuddling a parakeet.
Develop Your Digital Marketing Plan
Developing your digital marketing plan can be a process that evolves overtime. But, basically, you should commit to three or four strategies and then prioritize following through. Trust me, this will be the hardest part.
Outsourcing your digital marketing implementation might end up being a really great option for you, or you might find that utilizing a suite of nifty tools like Buffer and Hootsuite are the answers to your side-hustle prayers.
Learning about different ways to digitize your marketing and diversifying your strategy will be key to your success. Check out some of these ideas to keep growing your digital marketing strategy.
Whatever route you choose, remember that the follow-through is most important. Especially in organic SEO: consistency is key, as results can easily take six months to become noticeable.
Familiarize Yourself with Writing Techniques
In addition to learning the basics of digital marketing, familiarize yourself with writing techniques. Learn how writing for web and digital marketing works, and make an effort to identify your strengths weaknesses as a writer. This really will help your professional communication in every aspect, from emails to blog posts, to social media blurbs and bylines.
And beyond trade-specific writing info, check out resources like Grammar Girl’s guide to writing properly (her blog is full of fascinating word-nerd info), or take a quick course to freshen your business and casual writing skills. Top-level writing will definitely help you pull of you DIY digital marketing endeavors with greater success. If that isn’t your skillset and you’re not eager to make time for it yourself, outsourcing copy and content is a viable solution that many small businesses find a huge time-saver and value-booster.
Stay committed to digital marketing strategies and implementations. I’ll reiterate what I said throughout previous paragraphs about that exact thing.
Stay committed to your digital marketing plan.
Stay committed to developing your understanding of what works and what doesn’t.
Stay committed to content planning and strategic posting schedules.
And if you can’t, then commit to outsourcing the work to someone who does it for a living because it really can be that much of a game-changer for any company.
What’s your plan going to be?
So now that you know what digital marketing is, and a little bit about what it might entail, what is your plan going to be?
As always, feel free to be in touch. Email me or find us on Facebook. Moonphase Creative is always excited to help you in whatever phase you’re orbiting.
If you’re reading this, you may be wondering how to build more exciting, engaging content for your blog. You probably know that a blog is super important for your website. And you probably understand that frequent posting (at least weekly!) is key. But what you may not be so sure about is how do I create a blog post, especially one that is interesting?!
Relevant content is an absolute must to keep your rankings up and connecting with the right crowd. Be authentic in the topics you choose, which is hopefully an easy task if you have a website and blog you’re passionate about. No sense starting a blog about airplanes if the most you know about airplanes is how to navigate the security line, stow your carry on in the overhead compartment, and nap politely until landing.
If you have a blog and website you’re truly invested in because you are super knowledgeable about your field, relevant content will be a breeze. I would say, your biggest grinding chore will be avoiding that sense of repetition. When you’re truly in your element, you’ll beItem sharing content that can truly help others. As a writer, I’m writing about–well–writing. But if your blog is about beauty, review your favorite new releases for the upcoming Summer collections. If you’re a real estate agent, make posts that are relevant to your favorite kind of client; that might mean a post about preparing your house for sale, or a checklist blog post going over the To-Do’s for buying a home.
Content creation doesn’t have to be a chore, but it can be time consuming. Picking the topic, structuring the post, and fine-tuning those paragraphs to achieve your word count and hit all the keywords can definitely eat up a couple hours. But at the end of the day, that relevant content will help your lead generation… which brings me to my next point:
Blog posts should be informative and/or entertaining. Depending on your topic and brand, the “entertaining” part could be flexibly subjective. Engaging might be a better word for it. But whatever you are writing, make it irresistibly useful and needed to your audience. How-Tos, Tips & Tricks, and other kinds of “guides” are very useful types of content that can easily be tailored to fit your niche audience.
Offer your readers actionable items to apply in their own lives. One of the most successful types of blogs are recipe/cooking/baking blogs (like this one, which I discovered almost a decade ago because Google rankings had my old fiction writing name, AM Baker right there with the blog). Recipe blogs are insanely successful because they have useful recipes that people are willing to scroll through in order to carry out a useful, desirable action. When you offer how-to’s and DIY posts, it’s great to offer useful knowledge. It’s even better if you can include a specific project, recipe, or even a freebie printable for you readers to have a useful takeaway.
Photos and & Video
Finding relevant photos can be time-consuming, though I have a few go-to spots like Pexels to find free stock photos that can make my site look fresh and relevant with pictures. I use my own photography or images on occasion, but my goal is always two to three images with relevant, descriptive captions for every blog post.
Pre-Plan Your Post
Plan your post before you begin writing. Think of your topic and make some notes. Consider what points you’d like to include, and this is a really good time to remember what your English teacher taught you about Topic Sentences, Main Ideas, and Supporting Sentences. I know, you never thought you’d have to revisit that boring, tedious essay structure again…
If using a graphic organizer helps, or taking notes by hand is your thing, go for it. Blog posts will become an easier task with time, but especially at first, a little organization and time dedicated to brainstorming is a great idea.
I am including this BlogPostChecklist for you. It includes reminders of important marks to hit–like a minimum of one-thousand words–and includes some space to name your blog post topic, take some notes, and define the actionable items you can include. Graphic organizers like these can be really helpful for simply getting the work done. It’s easy to stare at a blank screen when you don’t have a clear vision of what you need to write.
Write Your Post!
Once you’ve written your post, make sure to preview it in whatever platform you are using. I currently use WordPress, and am familiar with the way Preview works and I usually save my drafts, then schedule them ahead so that I have to edit and revise, or simply avoid the procrastinating monster.
Let me know how your blog post writing process goes. I’m curious to hear about your own process, or comments and suggestions you may have. I hope this tutorial of sorts was helpful and possibly helped you understand that writing a blog post isn’t hard–it’s just a matter of making an outline, sticking to it, and giving the audience something they can really use.
We would love to hear about your process. A lot of my clients could write their own blog posts, but their businesses don’t leave a lot of time for putting together those posts once a week. This is where we can definitely help you! If you’re looking for great content written with organic SEO in mind, please contact us to find out more about our blog writing services. We offer blog writing services for many industries and can craft tailor-made posts that are meant for your audience.
I look forward to hearing about your journey in blog writing!
My work as a freelance writer and visual arts dabbler demands a more creative and dedicated approach to time-management and chunking work-blocks effectively. Like many, I have a busy family-life to balance, but not having a 9-5 job affords me many ninja skills for coping during our current pandemic, as well as a unique flexibility to innovate a work-flow that serves clients and allows me to be a more present parent and spouse.
If You Can, Choose Happy
It isn’t always a choice, but it can be an option to at least focus on the positives. I’ve gotten in the habit of keeping a gratitude journal to remind me there are always things to be grateful for. I am never one to dismiss or discount the dismal realities we may be facing–but both personally and collectively, it’s important to choose a few things to list as our Thankful Fors.
If you’re recently transitioned to working from home, you probably are starting to refer to your house as a madhouse. If you’re not yet, congratulations. Many of us, in fact, are–and those with kids have a blessing/curse conundrum in that at least we don’t have to talk to our plants as though they are people, we do have to worry about the plants being upended by wild children struggling with the isolation and confinement.
I’ve put together a few tips, and to be honest these aren’t new. I talked about these tips last year here on the blog before Moonphase went through yet another transformation.
5 Tips For the Work-at-Home-Freelancer
Treat your job like a…well…job. I’m guilty of saying, “well, I can make any appointment at any time because my schedule is flexible.” Not true. I don’t have a traditional 9-5, but I have work to fit in the day–that is valid reason to be protective of my time and realize I’m responsible for treating my work-hours as valid chunks of time.
Block out FOUR HOUR work periods during your self-imposed work-week. I say FOUR with emphasis because, like me, freelance probably appeals because it isn’t strictly and eight hour work day all the time without variation. I do recommend committing to four hour chunks, though, because now you have allotted time to work productively without interruption. You will be less likely to schedule appointments or cut your day shortbecause of other peoples’ needs if you create four hour work-blocks. Anything less, it is easier to lose productivity; anything more, you may feel it hinders the flexible appeal of freelance.
Set THREE small goals. Then kill them. Kill them dead! I like the number three because it is doable; even if one of the goals is bigger, like “finish writing client’s 10 page content package,” I know I can accomplish it within my four hour work-block (with the help of the right soundtrack, that is). And usually, accomplishing three goals snowballs to five or six–depending upon the task size. It is a good number to aim for when I need help boosting a positive trajectory.
Keep a journal and list notebook. As with everything on this list, modify whatever items you need in order to make it work. Discard the advice that doesn’t resonate with you. Many creative freelance types, however, may like the idea of keeping a tangible notebook with lined or unlined paper to capture their thoughts, notes, lists, and letters. I personally have a lot circulating; stationary and unique notebooks is a sort of collector’s-hobby for me at this point in my life, and I don’t like wasting so I have many notebooks dedicated to lists, doodles, work-related notes, home-related notes, personal journaling, and personal art journaling. ET CETERA. Find something to keep near your work-desk that makes you happy and reminds you to be you. You will be happier, and this will lend itself to greater productivity.
Teach others to treat your job like a job. This ties back to point number one, and it demands that you honor point number one and take it seriously. In every aspect of our lives, we essentially teach others how we want to be treated. When you work from home, are self-employed, and call yourself a freelancer, the need to define your work time and your scope of work as a real thing demanding time and space to accomplish is paramount. People will think of you as a stay-at-home-parent, a part-time dabbler, and a hobbyist if you do not teach them that your work is valuable and the time and space needed to do it is mandatory.
Recognizing your Pitfalls and Being Proactive
It’s so hard to admit where we fall short, but recognizing your pitfalls and developing solutions is the best way to proactively meet your success. Number Five in my list can be the hardest of all for me. I’ve struggled with teaching others to take me seriously, largely in part because I didn’t take my own work seriously. I can say that, in the past year or two, that has drastically changed and I have seen my own success grow exponentially as a result.
I wrote a post similar to this one almost a year ago, but now things are super different for the whole world. Suddenly, many are working from home during the unprecedented times of COVID-19. My husband is included in that newly-minted work-from-home status. Last year he responded to my frustration about working from home and balancing it all with, “I’m honestly grateful I have a desk and an office to go to, nobody questions that. If I had to work at home and see stuff piling up, I think I would lose my mind too.”
Never underestimate the power of feeling validated. Working from home is no less of a job than one that exists in an office. Our unprecedented times are proving that. And when we shift our mindset to embrace this work-from-home setup, I see the potential for a world that is flourishing with arrangements that really do have better work-life balance and allow families to bond and have more quality time together.
I look back on my frustration that was really at an all-time-high one year ago, and I realize it was less about my personal situation and more about how the world is or isn’t built for working from home. I’m seeing people make the shift to working at home, though, and I feel like it’s a beautiful thing. COVID-19 aside, of course, because this part of the isolating, social-distancing is devastating. It’s my hope, though, that we can collectively develop a better approach to work, the economy, and business solutions so that people can create meaningful lives that don’t require such a divisive way of life.
Of course, many types of jobs require a physical place other than home. But many tech-based, customer support, and even education jobs, don’t require a physical office–or maybe simply less workplace time is required to be productive and successful. If you can work from home and make it a productive, positive experience, I’m applauding you from over here.
Thanks for Reading!
Were these tips helpful? What tips do you have to add? I’d love to hear what works for you and what you’re doing to conquer and thrive the work-from-home challenges!
Writing for your brand’s blog can be so intimidating. Finding your topic, structuring the post, planning the links, the images, then promoting it across all the social media platforms…
But it doesn’t have to be such a battle to come up with relevant content that engages and informs your audience.
Tell a Story
Tell a story in a blog post, but include your call to action and let your keywords carry it. People love stories, and all the better if they can envision themselves somehow fitting into this story.
Once, I wrote copy for a septic tank company and it was very clear, as I got to know the client, that their brand’s story was super important. As I wrote the copy for their website, I kept that story at the forefront of my mind. Everything related to the topic of septic tanks and systems and repairs–but I kept their copy super personable and related the brand story throughout the website because it was relatable, engaging, and–most importantly–the brand’s story was all about the people at the center of their plot: the customer.
Their company was all about the community they serve. Their story was about educating and helping a rural community live with septic tanks and properly care and maintain for those systems. The branding of their company depends on connecting to that community in an authentic, friendly, but professional way that assures the main character: we’ve got your septic situation covered.
In a blog post, your brand’s story should be the overall package. Pick a specific story to tell in order to richly illustrate your points, engage with the reader, and build a sense of loyalty and familiarity.
Embrace the Evergreen
Evergreen content is Queen, so embrace this type of always-relevant blog post. It is perfect for link-backs, for eternal sharing, and makes a great “foot in the door” type post where people learn about your particular expertise, knowledge, and experience.
This kind of content is meant to be timeless, so the topics are all about stuff that remains relevant no matter the season or place or time. Think: ways to organize your desk, types of work strategies or recipes for general success. Depending on your company niche, your specific evergreen content might be industry-specific.
Other types of evergreen content have what I like to call “revolving relevance.” These are seasonal pieces that will be relevant every year for a period of time. Examples of this kind of “revolving evergreen relevance” include topics such as “Holiday Survival Strategy” or “Tips for Staying Calm During Tax Season” or something like “Five Ways to Celebrate Back-to-School.”
All those imaginary titles operate on the idea of a seasonal event, but their general tone and content should be re-useable from year to year with, maybe, some tweaks and revisions to update and freshen the content.
Overall, evergreen content is the stuff of dreams. It is always shareable, always relevant, and can go far in having huge circulation possibilities to boost your brand awareness and gain new followers and invite potential clients to dig deeper for what other things you have to say.
But…Jump on the Trend Train
Having touted the lovely perennial charm of an evergreen post, I must also recommend jumping on the trend train from time to time. This is great for a short burst of marketing frenzy, or capitalizing on something extremely crazy and all-encompassing (like COVID-19, for instance).
Trend posts (like this post about fashion for holiday 2015) can capitalize on the here and now, and play to people’s obsessive scrolling “FOMO” behaviors. If your’e sharing info about a topic that just came out in the new a day earlier, people are going to be operating on a sense of urgency and immediacy as they interact with your post.
Structure and post accordingly. These sorts of posts rely on a certain infusion of energy and urgency to make them float. Don’t worry about being on trend all the time. In fact, avoid being a slave to trends. Evergreen is still the way to go, but sharing popular news and offering some insight from your niche industry perspective is definitely something to consider every once in a while.
Teach, Preach, and Carry On
Establish your expertise, share your passion, and show that you are a confident and competent name in your profession. But, remember too, your potential customer is coming to you for their personal victory. Your brand, your product and service, is the thing they want or need to do better in life. Assure them that they’re in good hands, that your knowledge is sound and what you have to offer is top-notch.
Your confidence will carry you: the way you speak and write, the way you carry yourself in a meeting or presentation, and how you come across to others in person. But your knowledge will be the most important thing that lets people know your service is definitely worth their time and money. People will want what you have because they see that your knowledge can help them succeed.
Your knowledge needs a vehicle, though, and that vehicle will be the most important aspect of your brand’s online presence. This vehicle can be a blog, a website, a social media account, or some hybrid collection of all these things. The way you write for your brand on these accounts and within these vehicles will be key to your success.
Words & Pictures
It honestly comes down to words and, second to that, pictures (or, overall, your visual presentation and aesthetic). Pretty images, savvy design, trendy aesthetics: all these things are wonderful to have, and they can do a lot to boost your overall appearance and even the readability of your brand. But, for better or worse, words become the most important part of your brand. Whether we’re talking about print or web, words are the biggest thing driving your brand’s story, and your story is always the thing that makes the biggest impact.
So bring your words to the next level. Read about how organic SEO can help your website grow overtime. Find out how telling a story can help you connect to the perfect client. Practice writing bios and bylines and your company’s mission until it is easy to explain in a quick, succinct way. And if you just don’t want to do all that work on writing, consider hiring someone who can.
Social media without content strategy is like vanilla ice cream without chocolate syrup. I mean, you can, but why would you want to? Hiring a content writer who understands strategy is a smart move if you’re looking to maximize your click-conversions. Small businesses, especially, can see huge benefit from developing a strong and authentic presence online.
Content strategy brings your social media presence to Next Level performance, and will leave your audience feeling engaged, informed, and (possibly) entertained. An audience that engages is an audience that cares–and getting people to care enough to click and read is a lot closer to your end-goal: commit and purchase.
Hiring a Content Strategist
Whether on a project-to-project basis or full-time, hiring a content strategist could be an excellent move for your small business brand. A content strategist likely has a few other tools in their belt, such as myself. I am a copy and content writer who is constantly applying strategy to capitalize on consumer psychology when it comes to social media.
A content strategist is, I would say, rarely just a strategist. They are most likely copywriters, content writers, and/or freelancers employing their strategy talents to expand their value and provide a better quality result for clients.
Freelance Writers Using Content Strategy
Freelance writers using content strategy understand digital marketing and SEO in a unique way. Businesses may be looking for ways to optimize their SEO, but they may or may not consider strategy beyond that, and this is where freelancers with a background in both writing and digital marketing can have a bigger impact. Search-friendly SEO best practices can be textbook solid, but the changing landscape of SEO and digital marketing means web content needs to reach a new level of relevant.
Many freelance writers are in constant pursuit of ways to improve their SEO structure and analyze performance. This is a field of niche skill, and while your small business can probably handle picture-posts to Instagram and Twitter shares, it helps to have a team dedicated to the production and maintenance of social media account for, if nothing else, one reason.
That One Reason is quality social media content creation. Writing blog posts that are structured properly, meet the recommended length (over a thousand words, always!), and contain useful, engaging information that also helps your targeted keyword ranking? It is definitely time consuming. And requires a workflow that is optimized for efficient turn out.
How do I use Content Strategy?
If you are a small business looking to capitalize on your social media marketing plan, posting frequently is only part of the strategy. You’ll want to be sure your content strategy is reaching across several platforms and pointing people back to your home page. Beyond that, clear branding, cohesive imagery, and a visual story can all be incredibly helpful in making sure consumers know your business when they see your content.
Promotional strategy can help you achieve better conversions in sales and find a relevant, respected foothold in your industry. Are you struggling to conceptualize your small company’s brand? Are you looking to create cohesive content that is shareable and invites engagement?
Moonphase Creative is ready to help your journey, so feel free to contact us about how writing and content strategy could play a part in your business growth.
I figure everyone is working from home, so, as a work-from-home freelance writer, I wanted to share some strategies for increasing productivity and utilizing block scheduling. As a work-at-home mom, I’m fairly used to (and well equipped) to be flexible and creative in ways I get things done. I’ve been utilizing this super effective method for some time, but only now realized it is, like, a thing and people call it block scheduling.
I previously discussed ways small businesses need to change their approach during the Coronavirus pandemic, and now I want to talk about ways people–small business owners, self-employed people, and traditionally employed folks–can all make the most of these days spent home under the realm of social-distancing.
Ways To Build a Block Schedule
Build a block schedule by examining your goals, your responsibilities and your hours of availability. Instead of an overwhelming list of things to do and trying to find time to do them, find chunks of time (hours or even 30 minute increments) and start filling those calendar spaces with tasks and projects.
Figure out daily to-dos and recurring tasks that need to be on the schedule.
Consider important work goals and deadlines that have fixed or inflexible due dates.
Think about recurring appointments or routines that you must work around.
Start considering your day in chunks of times rather than lists of itemized to-dos.
1. Dailies & Tasks
This sort of runs parallel to numeric point three below, but it’s on a smaller scale. Do you like to walk the dog at ten? Do your kids leave for school by a certain time? Do you have certain chores you prefer to do in the morning vs. the afternoon? A lot of my work-from-home-strategy banks on nap time of our youngest, who is still home full-time, and when the others are all gone for school (which is now irrelevant because we’re all here, all the time, because Coronavirus).
But these types of daily chores and routines can be a helper, not an enemy, to your block scheduling. For instance, I know everyone won’t be out the door until eight a.m. and then I know the baby will be ready to nap at 9 so–instead of trying to cram work in somewhere in the early morning (because if I lived alone in a weirdly isolated perfect world, that is what my Type A Personality would enjoy)–I work with this routing. A normal Monday–when we have no other appointments typically, and when people can leave the house (lol), my schedule looked like this:
6 a.m. nurse the baby
(I’m an early riser. This was hard because I felt I should be getting up at 5.30 a.m. But this was easily deemed impractical once I honestly had a look at the schedule and realized I’m up a lot at night with the baby and inevitably she always was ready to eat at 6 a.m.)
7 a.m. Bigger Kids off to school
7.30 a.m. Household upkeep, just a bit
(usually dishes. Always the damn dishes)
8 a.m. Play with the baby and get her tired!! Start some laundry.
9 a.m. Nurse & Nap. And now I can WORK
9.30 a.m. Schedule Any Client Calls or Zoom Conferencing etc.
10-Noon Writing for Clients/Batch Blogging the Posts You’re Reading Here
Noon-2 Organize Social Media, Work on Illustration, Eat Something Probably
(The Baby wakes up somewhere in that last block. She doesn’t understand punctuality, clearly Block Scheduling is her thing also)
2-3 pm Creative Work, Printing Stuff, Prep the Next Day
3.15 pm Eldest arrives home and Snacks, Mom-Time, Homework Help, and Family Art Class all begin.
Hopefully you can see that, with this structure, I have a lot of flexibility with fairly defined guidelines in place. For instance, I find it easier to dedicate uninterrupted time to play and enjoy my fourth and final baby. That is so important to me, let me tell you, to enjoy that last round of firsts and finals. Knowing that yes, our routine and schedule allows for work time makes it much easier to shift my full attention and focus to just her without worry or stress.
When I shift into work mode once Baby H is down, I’m not locked into a singular specific task. If I have a client call, I handle that–but otherwise, I can choose from a list of things that can fit in this hefty chunk of work time. It really boils down to Writing Time for two hours, and organizationally this works–but it always works with my schedule, not against it.
Once Baby H wakes up, of course, I feed/change and do the mom thing a bit. It is the perfect time to switch to the more fluid and sometimes flexible workflow of illustrating. Baby H can remain entertained while I get some sketches down or scan some illustrations. I’ve been known to paint with her on my hip, but that is getting a bit dangerous now that she is a bit more capable of finger-painting.
Usually, she has an afternoon nap. I crank out the more detailed demands of illustration, file prep or emails, and get those things out there before my kids start arriving in quick succession starting at 3.15 p.m.
It isn’t perfect, some days are different, but for the most part, I know how certain chunks of time go. I have a set type of task that goes into certain designated chunks of time.
2. Work Deadlines & Inflexible Dates
Instead of looking at these like looming lines of death, look at these like excited finish lines to cross victoriously and celebrate. With the help of block scheduling, you are going to smash these goals, maybe even finish early, and celebrate with cake. Or whatever you like to celebrate with. I’m a fan of cake.
When I’m chunking my time out according to the daily routines and tasks, I consider what deadlines I’m headed towards. If I have a big writing deadline, then I work on that at 10.30 instead of blogging a batch. If I have an illustration deadline, I will priortize that over organizing my social media content calendar. Makes sense, right?
3. Appointments & Routines
I always consider the personal things as well. Frankly, as a self-employed freelancer, the personal and the professional are always closely packed together. Plus, as a mom of four, I’m also shuttling kids to this appointment or that and coordinating our family of 6 in my synced and color-coded calendar to be sure we are kind of on top of it most of the time. (And when we aren’t? “Oh, I’m sorry, I’m a busy mom of four……..”
So, my block calendar takes in account my eldest’s guitar lessons on Fridays and my Middle Littles weekly appointment with a therapist, and my various group fitness classes about four times a week (I’m convinced Zumba class is just al of us middle-aged mamas trying to relive our high school dance and cheerleading days). These things are constant, recurring, and important to our family. Yes, I schedule self-care. I know I get my hair done every six weeks and have certain appointments that recur anywhere from weekly to bi-weekly, monthly, or even bi-annually. I account for every single thing I can and this ultimately makes me more efficient with my time.
4. Chunks of Time vs. Lists
Freeing yourself of lists is like freeing yourself of a really precarious noose that could snap you up any moment. Chunks of time afford you flexibility and freedom while helping you keep up with your productivity. You’ll start viewing your chunks of free time in a more opportunistic way, too, I almost guarantee it. It becomes more about fitting things where you can and less about hoping things get done in time, because the list is so incredibly long you already feel defeated.
Having been a work-at-home-mom for so long, I feel like I innately utilized this Block Scheduling model simply as a means of survival. But, truthfully, it is a valuable tool for anyone and I hope it helps you make sense of your time if you are suddenly required to work from home and change everything you know about your work scheduling.
Why Block Scheduling Really Works
Block scheduling is a really flexible way to view your calendar–and it can definitely hold a lot of visual appeal, if you’re into that kind of thing. Looking at your productivity in a new light can hopefully help you achieve some new goals and achievements as you plan and implement your work strategy.
What kind of scheduling strategy do you use? Feel free to discuss. I love finding nifty planners, apps, and other methods to make it happen!
There are a few strategies one can employ when it comes to blog posts, and you may be a bit confused by this. Maybe, even, you figured a blog is a blog and a post is a post and what more can we really say about it. You wouldn’t be wrong, but yet, you’d be wrong. Because blogs are two-fold in the way they are read. By this I mean, people read blogs and Google reads blogs, and those are two separate but similar things.
Choosing Your Structure
The way you set up a post can be really important, and choosing your structure is going to impact how Google finds your website as well as how readers interact with your writing. Deciding whether your content is better suited for a bulleted list, an embedded video with compelling captions, or a lengthy narrative with links, are all things to consider. Knowing what kind of content to create is only half the battle, though.
You’ll want to structure your bulleted list of information in a way that best works with Google and SEO. You’ll also want to be aware of how you’re incorporating links and tagging keywords. When it comes to my personal writing and my personal blog, I’m honestly not always practicing what I preach (and I’m making a note to myself). It’s a good goal to keep things relevant and precise, link to useful content, and offer your readers something they can use. If a list is the best way to do that, then create a list. If you love editing videos and your content is well-suited for videos, do that. My friend over at Mint & Porter really has a passion for vlogging and has started a project that showcases her talent and passion for video content. So: Be You and your passion really will guide your content.
Types of Content: Evergreen & Trending
There’s so much I could get into here, but I want to keep this writing advice to the point, so in short: consider whether a post is evergreen or a a trending topic post. Evergreen content will be those perennial posts that are never stale and can relate to your audience no matter what. Depending on your blog’s topic, this may be a useful how-to post or a post that lists some really great, fundamental information surrounding your business’s area of focus.
Trending topics are, on the other hand, just what they sound like. They are posts that are reacting to something seasonal or perhaps something that is happening in current events. It may be a local event that somehow ties into your community and small business. Or perhaps it’s a post focusing on a holiday or seasonal event. Trend posts can talk about virtually anything, but the point is to remember that once the buzz about the event you’re reacting to dies down, the traffic through that post will definitely deaden too. This isn’t always a bad thing, and you can certainly internally link to trending tops, or link to your evergreen content. Diversifying your topics and focus will create a better site all-around.
Word Counts Matter
Remember when your English teacher assigned a page count or a word count, and you wondered if word counts even matter? Well, they matter. Especially when you’re talking about SEO and blogs finding their way to Google rankings. This is maybe one of the top reasons people hire me. In addition to creating lists and links and defining keywords and research, aiming for two-thousand words can seem like a really daunting goal. Updating your content twice a week, minimum, is ideal, and making sure your posts are reaching a minimum of 1,200 words is crucial. Ideally, your word counts should be somewhere around 2,000.
To give this context, a Word document typed in some kind of standard font at a standard font-size will yield about 250 words per page. Basic editing and proofreading are, of course, incredibly important, so hitting your word count can suddenly feel like being assigned one or two college essays every single week. At least you can just link to your references rather than typing up those pesky Works Cited pages, am I right?
Contact a Writer
I hope this post was a tiny bit helpful if you’re a small business owner or otherwise considering social media and blogging as part of your workflow. You can always contact us with any questions, and if you’re curious how hiring a writer could better serve your business, please don’t hesitate to reach out.
The first week of January is almost up, and it is hard to believe 2019 is actually here.
If any of you follow me on my Facebook page, you’ll know I announced an official pause on accepting new clients and am slowing down my work-train a bit. We’ve had an eventful few months, and unfortunately it isn’t all good news (but also, there is good news).
In early December I was in a pretty bad car wreck, in which my new 2019 minivan was totaled. The injuries I sustained compounded an existing condition I have with spinal stenosis and degenerative discs. I’ve tried to remain positive and sludge through all of it, but honestly—my body and my spirit have taken a minute to recover here.
I decided to be kind to myself and focus on my current successes: my growing body of art and building my portfolio; preparing for the semester ahead and learning new stuff; and focusing on the blessing of my current clients that I happily work for monthly.
I am excited to build my business and do more, be more, make more…
but what does that mean? Where does that leave me, personally, as far as balanced and rested?
I am grateful for what I have. I want to find my strength and balance with the blessings already in my basket. Why add more if it isn’t sustainable?
This way, when I put out a call for new clients, I’ll be doubly sure I’m able to provide quality writing services, quality art instruction, and top-notch illustration freelance.
I’m grateful for a manageable workload in which I feel I can offer quality freelance to other small businesses, while taking classes and being a mom.
We hear so much about leaning in, crushing goals, taking on the maximum to make the maximum. But after the car crash and all the things this holiday season brought, I think I realized there is value and potential in perfecting the smaller goals before greedily piling on more, more, more to a list you can’t see the end of.