Moonphase Creative’s Guide to Writing for Your Brand

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…

Content strategy
Content Strategy can be key to making your business light up online.

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.

book-book-pages-college-education-448835
Tell the story your client wants to read.

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.

Placeholder Image
Plan your content and write with confidence to show clients you’re an expert in the field.

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.

Moonphase Creative
Contact Us. We’re all about writing your story so you have time for more.

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.

Until next time,

 

Angi

 

 

Advertisements

Could a Content Writer Help My Social Media?

Content Strategy & Social Media

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.

Content Concept. The meeting at the white office table
Develop your content with a creative approach to strategy. Image via Adobe Stock.

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.

Content strategy
Find way to push your social media presence to maximum results. Photo: Adobe Stock

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.

 

Moonphase Creative: Fam Edition

Last week the world sent kids back to school without leaving the house. I say world, but I mean our little house–as well as many other homes around certain districts in our city and surrounding US. It was a huge deal; educators had to scramble to develop some kind of e-learning based strategy while facing the exhausting, scary, stressful pandemic that still grips us all.

 

Family First, Work Second

Putting family first and work second has been really hard for me to do, honestly, and I want to say that sounds awful–but it isn’t. In fact, all of us probably have a hard time shifting our priorities and reframing our world to fit a new normal that isn’t normal at all. I miss quiet mornings after my older three have left, and it feel less restful and more stressful a lot of the time. But I’ve decided to remind myself that if I can successfully put the kids before my own work, there will be more time left for my personal work goals after everyone is on task, regulated.

20190511_0945241005374119701154186.jpg
Family: this was not even a year ago, but yet it feels like a lifetime when they change so fast.

Learning Strategies

As I shape learning around the online curriculum put forth by the teachers and school district, I try to incorporate learning strategies for myself. I’m as much of a learner in this situation as they are. I’m constantly figuring out how to structure the day so everyone gets the time and attention that they need.

I also see so much of myself in all my kids in the ways they learn, the ways they get frustrated with hard concepts, and the ways they devise coping and learning strategies. If nothing else, that has caused me to have a better sense of empathy and also, I have to laugh at these tiny mirrors of myself all over the house.

 

Language Arts

Since I’m a writer, this is the subject I get most passionate about–but most frustrated with when I see sloppy efforts from the very people that took up real estate in my own body for nine months. At the end of the day, though, we’ve been embracing the journey together and I’m hopeful my middle schooler, especially, will exit this strange period of homeschooling with a better sense of paragraph and essay structure than she had before our homebound time began.

Art Lessons

And since I’m an artist, of course, art lessons are the absolute best part of the day (and please check out the Artful Parent for so many wonderful ideas!!!). So far, we’ve explored paint and composition. We took found objects (rocks, buttons, some destructed dead flowers) and played with the idea of composition on some plain white Bristol paper. It was fun to make moveable art that wasn’t permanent. My five year old asked where the glue was and she seemed genuinely shocked that our art was not, in fact, meant to stay on the paper.

We took pictures, but otherwise it was purely an experiment in tactile joy and an experiential delight. I found it freeing, too, to not have yet another “masterpiece” to store somewhere (or, really, throw away without being found out by the kids).

Other Subjects

We tackle the other subjects with the help of Pinterest, IXL, and the lessons we see in the world on a daily basis. It won’t be easy, but I have found the more I give to them, the more I get back. We can’t pour from an empty cup, but sometimes I am too much of the mindset that I need to work or meet a goal before I have time for lessons or games.

floating
Excuse the overflowing trash..I did empty that right after the sink or float experiment!

I hope I can remember to be a lifelong learning right next to them. I hope I can set aside my emails and work goals long enough to really enjoy a round of Slap Jack and Go Fish. I hope I can genuinely let go of my To-Do list to completely fall into a lesson in composition and an experiment in science with my kids.

If you’re in the same boat, let us know how it’s going in the comments! I’m letting go and leaning in, and I hope you can, too. Be kind–these days are long while the years are short, and we’re all in this together.

angi-00492742912830494283137.jpg
Family Edition: and a reminder we need to get photos again, as I was pregnant with baby H here!

 

Until next time,

Angi

 

 

 

 

Positive Lead Generation: 5 Reasons to Avoid Paid Ads

What is Lead Generation in Digital Marketing?

Lead Generation in digital marketing is an incredibly important part of a small business’s strategy to success. Any potential customer who is considering your brand, business, or product, is considered a lead. You can generate leads through social media, as an example, with the ultimate goal being to convert your lead to a customer who pays for your goods or services.

Nearly half of small businesses are not utilizing a plan for lead generation, and that is a big problem. It’s a completely untapped source of revenue, and generating leads is absolutely crucial to your small business success.

Can paying for ads bring small business success?

I guess paying for your ads can bring your small business success? But… you’re paying for it, and without having as much control on how those paid ads are being implemented. Why pay for it, if you can achieve healthy lead generation through organic SEO with a higher rate of successful conversion?

Tips to Avoid Paid Ads

  1. Organic SEORather than dumping money into paid ads, do some keyword research and build your social media posts, blog posts and marketing content around those keywords. No need to spam the words into your writing so much that it sounds weird or unnatural–especially since the algorithms are already onto that nonsense and penalize sites that are using such silly SEO practices.
  2. Target your ideal Client. And I mean, go to the page and write about the ideal client you would like to meet. What do they look like, how old are they, what kind of job do they have? Gone are the days of thinking of a whole audience or demographic. Niche targets are possible now, thanks to the wide web of information and at-a-touch customization. 
  3. Hiring a content writer instead, or  create your own content strategy. Organic SEO and content strategy can be a little time-consuming and learning some of the ever-changing keys to success can require a moderate time commitment. There can be varying levels of dedication here, and it doesn’t have to completely monopolize your time. However, if your business would benefit from it and you have other things you’d rather be doing, consider hiring a content writer who employs organic SEO strategy. I am one of those, ahem, so feel free to contact us to say hi. I also offer strategy consultation packages in which I can help you think of ways to develop your own strategy and workflow in creating great organic SEO.
  4. Social Media Mastery. This can be huge for your organic reach. You don’t need to pay for ads if you can drum up authentic engagement. The algorithms on social media are all about user engagement, and they’re staying up on human habits enough to know when stuff is ridiculous and when stuff is legit. Likes are nice, but shares and comments are better. Shares and comments are good, but clicking links to your business’s main site with the ultimate point of commitment and purchase? That is gold.
  5. Focus Your Brand Building. You’ll want to attack a few social media sites and keep your blog/website frequently updated and ripe with good content. No matter which site your audience visits, you want to be sure that your small business is on-point in their image, branding, and overall messaging. Visual cohesiveness is extremely important, but it can really come down to voice and personality in the written content, as well.

android-app-blog-blogging-267389

Committing to Authentic Growth

Committing to authentic growth organically via social media is not easy. You may choose to still supplement your organic digital marketing efforts with some paid ads–especially at first. That is okay if it fits your small business budget and you feel the results are worth it. But I really do recommend giving organic SEO a chance. The results won’t be immediate, but they will be lasting. With careful tending, your metaphorical garden of truly interested leads will be growing like… well. Weeds. Or cilantro… (that is always the only herb I can ever get to grow in my sad, dry, desert garden here in Colorado).

Committing to your business’s digital marketing strategy can feel daunting. Some suggest posting often and posting during peak hours of social media usage. There are a lot of strategies here, I have a few opinions, some of which I detail below…

Beat the Rush: Social Marketing

Beat the rush with some social marketing strategy that may not seem obvious. Instead of scheduling your post for peak hours, share your content outside of peak hours. If you post during Facebook’s peak hours, for instance, then you compete with the most posts of any other time of the day. Instead, beat the rush and make really compelling posts that attract a lot of engagement, hopefully garner some shares, likes, and comments before rush hour hits. The more engagement your post has initially, the more it climbs the social media feed algorithm and gains visibility. So the post you shared before peak hours will, ideally, gain some initial attention (likes, shares, valuable engagement) then receive a natural boost of visibility during peak hours.

In the case of Instagram, frequent posts with relative hashtags is a great idea. Obviously, keep your IG posts super engaging by posting top-not images. IG is all about the visual, so visual branding and cohesive visual storytelling are absolutely crucial. Frequent posts (ideally, daily) will only do so much for you, though. Be authentically engaged–like, comment, and follow others who are doing things that you like and things that truly interest you. In my experience, trying to like, comment, and follow other Instagram users for personal gain isn’t that useful and its usually very transparent to users so it comes across insincere, spammy, and ingenuous.

If I had to sum up my strategy, it’s that it really is quality of leads over quantity. I would rather have fifty engaged, committed, authentically invested followers who interact, promote, and do business why my small business than have five hundred followers who have forgotten they follow my small business.

Email me: angi.baker.saunders@moonphasecreative.com to discuss what we can do for your digital marketing campaign. Check us out on Facebook, or see us on Instagram, @thatcopywriterlady

 

 

Content Writers on Social Media: Strategy is Key

Content Writers & Content Strategy

Content writers are different from copywriters in several ways, but good writers (whichever kind) are always thinking about strategy. Copywriters are, to over-simplify, writing the static pages structured for SEO and focus on keywords per page to help a website gain rankings and visibility in relationship to those targeted keywords. Content writers, on the other hand, are producing fresh, relevant writing on a more frequent basis that engages readers and helps keep a site’s relevance and rankings up.

I happen to do both of these things and enjoyed both tasks so immensely, I expanded into social media content creation. I love the aspect of content strategy so much, it was fun to take on a new platform that nicely paired with my blog and website experience.

Content strategy goes beyond any specific form of writing or even platform, and has more to do with shaping the way a business or brand puts out the digital stuff their audience consumes. Content strategy is partly marketing and branding, but it is absolutely more powerful when executed by someone with knowledge of SEO, content and copy writing.

Social Media Posts: Clicks vs. Conversion

I want to focus on creating social media posts that consider Clicks vs. Conversion. Content aims to get clicks, but clicks can be the boring kind (a random, disengaged Like) or the best kind (the conversion kind that goes all the way to your website or slides into your DMs with legitimate inquiry). Create authentic content your ideal client would be happy to find out more about and earn those clicks that turn into conversions.

Social media is a shiny vehicle for your business, but garnering likes doesn’t equal customer conversion. Strategic posting using relevant hashtags, compelling images, and descriptions that consider the real end goal (which would be click-conversion to paying customers, not the ephemeral currency of likes) will be most valuable. In the long run, you want your small business to have a big customer-base–not just a fan-base (though a solid fan base is pretty cool, too).

woman-wearing-blue-denim-jacket-holding-smartphone-standing-980048
Photo by destiawan nur agustra from Pexels

Organic SEO

Social media depends on a little more than just compelling content and on-point curation, which is where organic SEO becomes super important. A competent content writer is going to be well-armed with some solid SEO strategy. Organic SEO is not a paid ad that may give a false boost to your sales. Instead, organic SEO takes time to build as your SEO social media and blog posts work to improve your rankings and visibility. It will take months, honestly, so please be patient.

If you follow a few simple rules for creating decent blog content, though, I guarantee you will start to see increased traffic, gains in your clicks, and positive conversion rates. It’s a matter of diligence and blind forging ahead, really–because if you stop posting, your SEO will stop growing. If your site isn’t posting regularly, I can guarantee it will not increase in Google rankings. Organic SEO works with what you have, not with what you’re paying.

What Makes a Good IG Post?

So if you’re looking to make a good–no, awesome–IG post, then, what should you or should you not do?

Do

  1. Use bold, pleasing, or eye-catching images. It’s the quintessential quest of the VSCO girl, amirite? But whether you’re a battle-hardened millennial searching for your identity, or one of the new VSCO babes hoping to score influencer status, you’ve got to be ready for the pursuit of superior images.
    agriculture-beautiful-blonde-hair-close-up-478541
    The VSCO Girl in a Field. Photo by Dominika Gregušová from Pexels

     

  2. Know how to #hashtag wisely. Appeal to brands and follower that fit with your own aesthetic and visual. It is really amazing how the visual narrative of a brand can be narrowed down and conveyed with such precision just by condensing the use of certain hastags and related groups.
  3. Tell a Story and Have a Schedule. My personal IG game is a little weak, tbh. I need to take my own advice on this one! Tell your brand’s story and create a content schedule. When you’re winging it, your post will start to look less like a personal-professional hybrid and more like a moody snapshot of your life, cat, and meals to and snacks you’ve eaten in the past forty-eight hours.
lg-smartphone-instagram-social-media-35177
Photo by freestocks.org from Pexels

Don’t

  1. Don’t use underwhelming photos that have more personal meaning than they have public appeal. Make these photos your best shots of whatever you’re selling, whatever you’re about. Make it fresh, authentic, and relatable–but don’t make it underwhelming with blurry, unfocused images that take a minute to figure out what the subject is.
  2. Don’t tag people, promote, or hashtag posts without reason. Don’t attempt to blow up your feed in too many directions to garner a few likes and views. The fact is, this might work in the very short-term, but a ton of likes means absolutely nothing if no one clicks through your IG links to check out who you are and what you do.
  3. Don’t be afraid to post. Post often and be mindful about what you’re sharing. Let your content be relevant and authentic to your brand, and the results will eventually follow. If you need some help crafting that image and creating the content, please contact us and we would love to help!

Until next time!

you-got-this-lighted-signage-2740954
Photo by Prateek Katyal from Pexels

Angi

 

Pandemic 2020: Social Media All Onboard

How Are You Staying Connected?

Whether you’re a small business or a singular person, how are you staying connected? The world just got way more virtual then ever before–and it’s a huge change from the way the world worked even a month ago. We’re writing more, posting more, scrolling more…

And small businesses everywhere need to be creating that content to take part in the conversation. It’s amazing to see how people are reaching out and organically, authentically engaging with small businesses and brands. If there is one thing that this pandemic has done for the world, it is humanizing many aspects of the globe we didn’t consider or thought of us a non-human fixture.

Cars simply were everywhere, and everyone was in a room working, and we all got stuck in traffic jams trying to get home so we could fill our heads with mindless noise to drown out our exhaustion until we fell asleep.

Nothing about right now is easy, but it is certainly a change in that rush here/rush there dynamic, and the slowdown seems to be a really big factor for many people. All the changes have people listening to the quiet, reveling in the stillness, and trying to figure out how-the-actual-F to work from home with kids and pets as co-workers.

Finger touching phone with social media concept and dark background
Engagement and authentic exchanges on social media? Count me in! (image: Adobe Stock Photos)

And one amazing change happening around me that I’ve noticed? We’re engaging more. We are engaging authentically, and intentionally. People are banding together to call and chat for support via platforms like Zoom and WebEx. Companies are making unprecedented accommodations to allow the world to work from home, which opens up a whole new realm of possibilities going forward.

I’m candidly optimistic that this could be the game-changer the world needs to connect in a new, more relevant way that truly serves and supports more people than ever before. I’m also excited for all the ways we need writers right now to help fuel the conversation and find the best formatting. Creatives have this whole Pandemic thing figured out–our flex and adaptability, divergent thinking, and strong communication skills are all amazing skills to have for this crisis.

Benefits of (Virtual) Contact

Plenty of people are already seeing benefits of increased virtual contact that comes from a place of necessity. Those living in seclusion on a regular basis even when COVID-19 wasn’t commanding all our energies and attention are likely finding more ways to connect and engage than before.

white-wooden-rectangular-table-159213
Empty chairs, everywhere.               Image via Pexels

As the world shifts its energy and mindset to serve the masses who are adjusting to this change, our technology use changes. It is a surprising shift from meaninglessly scrolling to picking up our phone with intention. This may be a purely personal observation, but I find myself more at ease with my offline world and plugging in to have useful, productive conversation with family, friends, and even business connections.

A Strategy for Social Media Success

Re-Thinking the way we utilize social media is bound to be an outcome in this, and developing a strategy for social media success will definitely give us the upper hand when it comes to coping with mental health issues and other negative side-effects of never leaving the house.

This new approach to social media and online service is something I’m excited about–largely because my work is largely web-based and I get really excited about helping clients connect and engage with their customers online.

Developing your content strategy and social media presence will be key if you are self-employed or running a small business. It can seem like a terrifying time, but I’m advising my clients to focus on growth and building authentic engagements that capitalize on future potential.

Nothing is normal right now. No one feels too excited about the current situation. But I’m confident that the metaphorical “tomorrow” is going to get here and it is going to be bigger, brighter, and better if we keep searching for ways to solve these global issues at hand. And, call me crazy, but I’m confident we can and will develop the solutions.

Writing for Your Social Media Presence

If you are a business owner or professional and haven’t already done so, begin writing for your social media presence in a way that elevates your voice and style in a new way. Show the world what you do, why you love to do it, and why you are an expert. Be confident, be friendly, and be authentic. Write posts that capitalize on the moment. Engage with your audience and have fun–because we all need some humor and entertainment right now.

If you can create a conversation surrounding your business now, and develop a community that is entertained and engaged enough to follow along, you may very well have a number of loyal first-time customers waiting for you when this pandemic clears up and we’re back to the daily rush and grind of life without quarantine.

We’re In This Together

Mental health is sure to be an increasing concern for all the many people around the globe who are social-distancing and containing as we fight to make sure the COVID-19 curve is kept down as much as possible. Let’s reach out and connect and mindfully consider what we can do to help our family, friends, and neighbors during this time.

I’m convinced we will keep the curve from rising, even though at the time of this writing we’re seeing a huge and overwhelming impact on our healthcare system, the people who are facing this on the frontlines, and millions of others affected by this directly.

Whatever your expertise, your passion, your drive, use what you have to help. Check out this great post from Harpers Bazaar on ways to contribute and aid your community. Some ideas are really easy, like staying home, and other ideas include

  • shop local (I’m based in Colorado Springs, USA, but please check about your own)
  • donate to places like Feeding America
  • be mindful of loved ones who have limited resources and access–reach out to them.
Shop local
Shop Local and Shop Small to help your local community and small businesses everywhere. Photo: Adobe Stock Photo

Share your thoughts.

Share your thoughts in the comments or shoot me an email at angi.baker.saunders@moonphasecreative.com

 

Tips from a Work-at-Home Writer: 4 Keys to Block Scheduling

Productivity & Block Scheduling

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.

  1. Figure out daily to-dos and recurring tasks that need to be on the schedule.
  2. Consider important work goals and deadlines that have fixed or inflexible due dates.
  3. Think about recurring appointments or routines that you must work around.
  4. Start considering your day in chunks of times rather than lists of itemized to-dos.
personal-organizer-kaboompics
Photo by Kaboompics .com from Pexels

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.

 

photo-of-woman-using-laptop-3890520
This is not what parenting and working simultaneously looks like. This is a beautifully posed stock photo that is basically the opposite of real life. Work from home and parent simultaneously with great caution. Photo by Andrea Piacquadio from Pexels

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.

man-wearing-black-and-white-stripe-shirt-looking-at-white-212286
Look at your schedule visually, in chunks, with pictures–however it makes sense to you.

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!

 

 

Small Businesses & Content Strategy

Small Businesses Need Strategy

Small businesses are definitely going to need a strategy to survive these strange times. But it’s all about adaptive thinking, creative thinking and a fresh take on your content strategy. I already work at home and my favorite thing to do is talk about ways to share and grow your small business. So, I wanted to talk about how we can shift the conversation and continue to grow and thrive.

neon-signage-2681319
Photo by Ivan Bertolazzi from Pexels

Think About Things Differently

And I mean, really creatively expand your take on the situation to think about things differently. Reach out to your community in ways that you can and I promise that if you are giving with a strategy, you will also receive. Results may vary, as they say, but I’m a firm believer that when we’re shifting the conversation and creating the change, we have the power to create positive results and effective solutions.

If you’re a small business, offer ways to serve your customers without open doors if you feel the impact of social distancing.

  • Offer takeout and delivery options
  • Connect and serve via social media more
  • Show how your small business is helping the community survive
  • Be open and honest as you have conversations with the public about your business during Coronavirus Pandemic 2020

 

How Can Social Media & Content Strategy Help?

I’m a freelance copywriter and am pretty passionate about content strategy and social media. I’m all about the ways we can help have a conversation between small businesses and their clients. I believe being proactive with your social media presence is going to be one of the most cost-effective ways small businesses can stay afloat and adapt right now. Furthermore, I believe small-businesses have the potential to thrive if they get creative about the ways they offer useful promotions, meaningful conversations, and flexible, pandemic-centered changes to their business operations.

As a global and local community, this could be our finest hour, or it could be a spectacular failure. How we choose to respond is crucial, and I’m hoping to help small businesses adapt and thrive during a time when restaurants and coffee shops, retail and people-in-person type place are seeing way more empty seats.

If you would like to chat about your business and how content strategy, social media, and content writing can help, please feel free to reach out!

manbehindcounter_PolinaT
Photo by Polina Tankilevitch from Pexels

Tips for Working from Home While Everyone Panics

Hello there! Are you searching for sanity during the Pandemic of 2020?

Blame Coronavirus or TP shortages, or the cleaning out of dry goods on your local grocer’s shelves… but everyone is dealing with anxiety, uncertainty, and the side-effects of mass panic.

As a work-from-home-freelancer, my job isn’t changing all that much, and I’m grateful for that aspect of my certainty. What’s more, I’m viewing it as the perfect time to offer my personal knowledge about work-life-balance when home is your office.

  • Set Boundaries
  • Schedules Are Amazing
  • Have Clear Expectations & Express Them
  • Don’t Work In Your Bedroom!

 

Set Boundaries

Set boundaries in your home for yourself, for your spouse/partner/roommates, and kids. Maybe even pets, if it applies. For instance, my husband–a new work-at-buddy, is considering talking to his traditional employer about setting an alternative split schedule that would allow me more time to work and chunk up our time while four kids are home from school.

Speaking of kids: I’m having a conversation with my twelve and five year old, who can understand a bit more. The conversation goes: we are a family, and we’re in this together. Find ways you can help, please do what you can, and it’s going to be ok. It isn’t always neat and tidy, but we’re trying to navigate the stormy seas on this quirky ship of misfit pirates.

And pets… every freelancer’s best-friend, right? I love our cats, but they’re no good when it comes to my art studio where I create my commercial art and illustrations. Watercolors, acrylics, wet paint and cats don’t always mix… so I do shut them out when need-be.

Boundaries are your friend. It helps you and others know what, where, and when work and home-life can take place.

woman-in-gray-sweat-shirt-sitting-beside-window-3759080
Photo by bongkarn thanyakij from Pexels

Schedules Are Amazing

I’m making a few visual calendars that embrace daily block scheduling because schedules are amazing, really! This helps to visually guide my family as well as myself during these days of unknown territory. It will keep me on track, as this new arrangement will definitely demand that I do even better in managing my productivity.

Block scheduling

Create Work & Home Categories: Categories can include things like “Work on Writing” and “Client Calls” or “Managing Social Media.” Home Categories may include “Family Lunch” or “Thirty Minute Snack and Story” and stuff like “Chores & Dinner Prep”

I find a middle-ground of not-too-specific and not-too-broad is the happiest place for my Block Scheduling Labeling.

Schedules Are For Everyone

The idea of chunking out your time and creating a routine is beneficial for everyone, so remember that schedules really are good for everyone. Encourage every member of your household to develop and utilize a schedule. Help your kids create one, let them be involved in the process if possible, and let your schedules align in a way that everyone can include some togetherness in this time of mess. Urge your spouse or partner to also make a schedule and you can look at it together to determine how to maximize productivity for everyone.

 

Have Clear Expectations & Express Them

This one may seem obvious, but often we have clear expectations but we fail to express them. Often, it’s less about not saying what we need, and more about the fact we don’t think we need to say what we need. There are a lot of layers here and maybe we can peel that onion another time… but for the most part, remember the importance in being clear about what you need (and maybe check out some articles on communication).

It could look like:

  • Hey, I have a client call at ten a.m. and I really need it to be quiet then.
  • I need to remind you that I have a big deadline on Thursday and I’ve got to prioritize that. I need several hours especially on Tuesday and Wednesday.
  • I have a few appointments I need to work around this week, can we look at our schedules and see how we can adjust things to make it work?

And, as a mindful next-step… so many of us forget to express expectations, including our spouses/partners/roommates/etc… So, why not ask them what they might need? Remember to check in and see, and it will prompt open lines of communication from all sides, and everyone is more likely to end up on a better and more productive page.

woman-in-white-t-shirt-holding-smartphone-in-front-of-laptop-914931
Photo by Andrea Piacquadio from Pexels

 

Don’t Work From Your Bedroom!

I’m realizing people may live in a tiny apartment or studio and not have this option, but that said–do the best you can to create some physical boundaries. My husband, for instance, has his workspace in our bedroom out of necessity (ethernet and security requirements of the IT nature). Some steps he takes, though, are having a desk that faces out the window and away from the bed. The space is contained and as compartmentalized as it can be. And, being the visually driven quirky woman that I am, I have tried to delineate a visual break between the rest of our modern-black-and-gray bedroom and his wood-mid-century-modern workspace.

IMG_20200315_103226
Excuse the blur, but this is my workspace at the moment, and my butt is currently where you see the empty pillow next to the computer. Also, I probably need Wall Art, no?

And my own workspace is in the basement. I have a small area for the kids to play, watch  a movie or play piano and guitar. But Mom’s Office essentially starts at the bookshelves and, in the most contained cases, is behind the closed door of my illustration and commercial art studio.

IMG_20200315_103038
My  illustration space.

 

Other Ideas

What are your tips or other ideas for navigating the new work from home situations millions are now dealing with? I’d love to hear down in the comments or you can contact me with your anecdotes, ideas, or questions.

 

 

 

 

The Demographic is Dead

 

Social Media in 2020

Target audience and niche demographic are terms to be done with when we talk about social media in 2020. Sort of. You need to think of the perfect person you want to do business with and create an authentic dialog with your potential clients in 2020.

Niche Down and Grow Up: Why a tiny target audience means major growth for your company.

Marketing becomes more and more niche and personalized with the amazing capabilities of tech and social media. It’s absolutely fascinating but, sometimes, absolutely terrifying to try to navigate the road when everything is constantly changing so incredibly fast. Digital marketing and content strategy are relatively new on my personal interests lists.

socialmediamarketing
Photo by Dominika Roseclay from Pexels

Why is the notion of demographics dead? I wouldn’t say dead, actually, but—it’s evolving. Now that marketing is so incredibly flexible and able to be personalized, delivered, and tailored to a very specific personality type, the traditional demographics we once considered are now impossibly too broad to be effective.

man-and-man-inside-shop-1724199
Photo by Craig Adderley from Pexels

Population growth, the expansive internet, global community vs. local loyalties. All of these things are important to consider when examining the way marketing works now. On the one hand, our world is increasingly globalized. We are connected by the Internet, while still living in our tiny communities all across the globe. And with that, there comes a call to action for people everywhere to

buy local and support small businesses.

If you are a small business owner, you probably #hashtag it at least once in a month: shop small. Shop local. Support your local-everything. It’s hugely everywhere while simultaneously being incredibly small and right there in the palm of your hand. Literally. Like, you’re probably reading this on your phone right now, am I right?

 

So, how do we capture our target audience?

We don’t capture our target audience. We don’t think about a whole audience. It isn’t a captive audience in a theater watching the stage waiting for you to come out on the stage. The link in this paragraph takes you to an article with lots of tools you can explore and use to maximize your endeavors in social media marketing.

apple-applications-apps-cell-phone-607812
Photo by Tracy Le Blanc from Pexels

Social Media Marketing is a Must

The big takeaway is: social media is no longer optional for small businesses–everyone must be able to find you on Google, Yelp, or hear about you when they ask Siri or Alexa. So find your perfect person, focus on your niche, and craft your social media to meet that person where they are. Don’t think of the sea of people you’re talking to, but envision that ideal customer finding your content, finding your business, and imaging how you would want that conversation and interaction to go.