Hey Solopreneurs! Are you ready to rise up?

When this morning hit, I really thought I was going to slay the day. By 9.30, I was my third diaper change, so hey–no one could say I wasn’t being productive! But I was so ready for naptime, so I could get to the keyboard and tell you all about this latest thing Moonphase Creative is offering.

Custom Package with Special Pricing for Black Owned/Female Owned Small-Business Owners

I’m offering customized writing/service packages and special pricing for black-owned and/or female owned small-business owners and solopreneurs. See, when I left my ex-husband three years ago, I was knee-deep in oppression and struggling to make my way. In a world where childcare is the cost of a mortgage and employers are more concerned about their bottomline than employee health, getting to a point of freelance freedom was absolutely crucial to the survival of me and my three girls.

So with all this political uprising and an uncomfortable zoom-in on the unjust ways of our world, I’m here to be part of the solution and extend help however I can. If you happen to be a solopreneur and happen to be black and/or female, please contact me. First consultation is always free, but I want to talk to you about how you CAN become a successful small business owner. I want to help you find a path that works for you. As a copywriter/editor and illustrator with some knowledge of content creation and strategy, I’m confident we can figure out the blueprints of a career that can grow.

LGBTQ+ Crowd Welcome, Too

Not to be exclusive, and definitely welcoming all rainbow fam–I want to welcome the LGBTQ+ crowd into this offer, too. See, when you’re struggling on the peripheral of society, you can get so caught up in daily survival, trying to make it through the trauma and societal norm navigating just to avoid panic attacks–strategizing your business can seem like an afterthought.

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Moonphase Creative is focusing on the LGBTQ Community to help LGBTQ solopreneurs slay the day. Image found at Pexels

I’m here to connect and use my skills as a solopreneur in the freelance world to help you develop your ideas, define your path, and execute a plan. Our first consultation is always free, and I know a lot can be accomplished in that initial meeting. If you’re ready for more, we have plans and packaging that can be engineered to fit your budget because right now, I’m giving back to the world that has so graciously given to me.

 

Others Lifted Me Up… Now it is MY Turn

When I left my situation a little over three years ago, I was emotionally battered, physically exhausted, and mentally stretched thin. Traditional employment quickly showed itself to be an impossibility for many reasons. I was a single mom of three, and all three were already needing tons of therapy due to the trauma we were all escaping and navigating.

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This was me holding my beautiful girls after a fruitless shift in retail. Shortly after leaving my abusive marriage, I worked for not a lot of money and it mostly complicated my situation, rather than adding value. Enter: Freelance Freedom.

Beyond that, there was a police investigation and lawyer-stuff happening on the daily… I was in no shape to be dropping my kids off at daycare and going off to work in retail or wherever else. Jumping back into teaching after a five year absence while my ex-husband degraded me and convinced me I wasn’t able or worthy wasn’t going to be so easy, either.

But I could write and I could draw/design. I held an MFA in Writing; I had studied art and animation. I had a few skills, and I knew I could sail my own ship. This was how it all began, and I registered Moonphase Creative as a writing and illustration sole proprietorship, and did my best to jump in and build my empire.

It Takes Time… but you CAN

Building your freelance career takes time, but you can definitely do it. I want to avoid telling you it’s easy and you’ll have a great income in six-months, because that wasn’t my personal experience and I’m all about transparency. I was lucky to meet a few great mentors and learn a few hard lessons right at the starting line, and this definitely helped me shape my path and achieve eventual success.

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Let’s figure out where you are and where you’re going–and if Moonphase Creative can help. Image: Andrea Piacquadio

Every day is a learning experience, and some days will be more productive, more successful than others. Due diligence will reveal results, though, and I want to help others work on the plan to get you where you want to be.

Let’s Find Your Niche

Let’s talk about your goals and interest and find your niche if you’re still wandering in search of it. And let’s see how you can start building your plan. Please contact me to get chatting, and I’m so excited to talk about what we can do for you. Or keep an eye on our website to see new posts rolling out about being a small business in the land of niches.

I’m a writer and illustrator and I’ve often said the beauty of my job is that I’m not limited to any single subject or sector. But if I’m honest, I love working with fitness peeps: exercise, bodybuilding, nutrition, and more. I also love working with woman-owned businesses that somehow relate to the service industry, motherhood, or female-centric products and services. I felt weird saying that for a while, but it’s true. And I also love working with creative out-of-the-box niches that have a place and a purpose but are sometimes hard to nail down. One of my very favorite projects to have helped launched into the world? This Sex Positive Education website.

If this sounds like we would be a good fit, let’s get together and talk about what your options might be. I can hand you some resources and ideas, and we can have a coffee chat by Zoom or by phone to go over the details of what you’re doing, where you’re headed, and how Moonphase Creative can help.

Social Media Building Blocks

Copywriting can provide the building blocks for a great social media marketing plan. For all the components of social media that can seem really intimidating, writing is one of the most straightforward aspects that can take up a lot of time but can provide the biggest, most solid foundation for your small business strategy to conquer social media.

 

Which social media platforms should I use?

If your business isn’t currently utilizing online social media, I strongly recommend a Facebook business page and a business Instagram account to closely follow. These are two of the most widely used platforms, and they’re also owned by the same company and this means there is a lot of ways to use these two platforms together to increase your effective use of Facebook and Instagram.

After you feel comfortable with Facebook and Instagram, feel free to add other social media platforms that you would like to use and that make sense for your professional niche. Twitter can be a great platform for bite-sized conversations, link sharing, and finding conversations to be a part of to increase your connection and visibility.

Tumblr is often the forgotten platform, but it focuses a lot on a merging of visual and writing, making it a great place for visual-based solopreneurs to share their work, projects, and passions while having space to talk about your vision at length.

If you’re struggling with knowing where to start, feel free to shoot us an email–Moonphase Creative offer Social Media Onboarding packages and consultation to help connect people with platforms. And of course, there are so many amazing resources online to help sort your first steps in social media.

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Using Facebook to connect, educate, and communicate with your audience is a valuable move. Photo: Pixabay

 

Facebook is your Friend

Having a business page for your business is easy to set up and offers you an almost immediate connection to the world of social media. Posting several times a week with posts that are useful to your audience is a great way to start your social media strategy. Creating strong, useful posts can be intimidating–but scheduling your posts ahead of time can allow you to create your strategy ahead of time and get a leg up on your content creation.

There are numerous resources and pros offering the perfect strategy–so I encourage you to check out some of these great resources for learning the basics of utilizing Facebook as a business page strategy.

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Eye-Candy and interactive! Pinterest offers an opportunity for marketing strategy at its finest. Photo: Pixabay

Learning to use Pinterest

Learning to use Pinterest as an effective marketing tool can be slightly intimidating, and Pinterest won’t be the right social platform for every business–but it can be a fantastic tool for many industries to generate interest and attract clicks to their website. If you have a blog, let your anchor images and body images become the images for Pinterest posts that will entice people to click and learn more on your site.

Some great niches for Pinterest include fashion, visual art and illustration, and foodies–but it certainly isn’t limited to these groups. There are so many ways to use Pinterest as an innovative, effective marketing tool and if this is something you’re looking for more information about check out these folks who have some great things to say about developing your Pinterest marketing strategy.

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Photo by Omkar Patyane from Pexels

Instagram: Conquering the Beast

Instagram can be an absolute beast to effectively use, and conquering the Insta strategy can seem a bit elusive–especially with the constantly changing algorithms. Instagram is easy to use in its most basic sense, but building your following organically can be extremely challenging. Check out this quicksprouts guide to making effective Instagram posts and boosting your Instagram account.

Strong visuals, high-impact designs, and visual messaging that prompts the scrolling IG user to pause is a great goal. A longer caption that relates a compelling story, interesting nugget of education or trivia, or a really helpful how-to is a great way to create authenticity, engagement, and establish your credibility and authority. These points of consideration can help you approach your social media strategy with the right visual-to-copy ration. It is easy to think of IG as a totally visual platform, but considering lengthy captions as an important component of your successful IG strategy, it is extremely important to give attention to those strongly written captions.

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Tackle your social media strategy from anywhere, at any time. Photo by Andrea Piacquadio from Pexels

 

Tackle your Social Media with confidence and consistency. Consistency is really key. Nothing will be built overnight, but your persistence will show results with the right strategy over the course of a few months. If you’re looking to be in touch for more information or consultation, Moonphase Creative is always here to help–feel free to contact us!

 

Until next time,

 

Angi

 

 

Developing Your Content Strategy

There are a lot of ways to streamline your social media marketing and blog post outreach, and a dozen people will tell you a dozen different ways to do it the best. However, if they’re worth their salt, you will hear a few resounding repeats in the advice thrown your way. I’d like to cover some ideas about developing your content strategy in  in short-form.

Firstly, though…

What is Content Strategy?

In short, Content Strategy is how your brand chooses to use social media content (blog posts, Facebook posts, Instagram, Twitter, and so on) in order to strategically appeal to the audience and make connections that become conversions.

Content strategy is kind of like the Ad Man job of the 20th century, in a way. People got really tired of kitschy commercials and two-page print ads in magazines they didn’t want to subscribe to once 2001 arrived. Print advertising isn’t dead, but it has changed. Just like content strategy isn’t new–it’s just been evolving for a while and we’re finally seeing how this little component of online marketing and social media outreach can be a hugely important part to any small business or solopreneur’s strategy.

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Develop your content strategy with authenticity, accuracy, and your audience in mind.

The thing is, content strategy isn’t hard, per se, but it takes a little time to develop and the skillset is an elusive mix of knowledge, common sense, and social savvy. The idea is to develop content that appeals to your crowd in an authentic way–because no one likes a sales pitch that feels smarmy, out-of-touch or too thirsty. I prefer to coach clients when possible to develop their own brand strategy and give them the tools to implement it themselves. I do provide content and social media designs, but largely I truly believe most small businesses and solo professionals can be successfully coached to take the reigns of most of their own social media campaign with the right information and toolset.

Being an Authority & Expert in Your Field

The reason I believe most small businesses and professionals have the potential to arm their own social media is because the biggest piece of the puzzle is being an authentically engaged, dedicated expert in your field. You can learn how to wrangle your social media; but your expertise is exactly why you do what you do. That being said, a successful and well-done content strategy plan can be time-consuming–which is why some choose to outsource the job to freelancers like myself who invest their time and unique toolsets into this as a full-time career.

But–time and toolsets aside–

People want knowledge and answers to their questions. That’s the big thing to remember when piecing together your brand’s social media strategy. People want to hear from an authority on topics of concern. This is where a small business has the chance to give followers and potential followers a clear idea of who your company is and what knowledge and expertise you offer. The internet is a scary place filled with misinformation and scammy back-alleys. So, if you can prove you’re a genuine, authentic person with actual authority and knowledge on your topic–you’re golden.

Because content strategy is developing ideas about how you can communicate your knowledge and know-how to your audience in an authentic way that keeps them coming back for more. That’s it. In a nutshell, that’s what you need to do in order to grow the right kind of following that will turn into sales/loyal clients/returning patrons (and so on).

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A successful plan for your content strategy is possible with a little planning and consideration.

How Do I Create a Plan for Content?

You might be asking where to begin and wondering how to create a plan for your content.

Forget the strategy, how do I even make good content?!

I’ll talk more about the particulars of content in a future post–but simply put Content is simply the stuff you are talking about, promoting, and showing across your social media platforms. Are you talking about the hot new homes for sale in your area? That’s your content: the real estate market is the subject you’re discussing. Are you sharing a DIY post on how to mend a hole in your shirt? Then your content is craft and DIY related, and your mending a shirt blog post is probably going to appeal for people searching DIY methods for fashion, or “clothing hacks” for everyday people.

Knowing your audience is absolutely key in planning your content. But before that, even, you must know your brand. This seems insanely obvious, but it is painfully true that many solopreneurs and small businesses do not know their own business well enough to be generating the right kind of content.

Often times, my clients know their industry really well, but they’re failing to see how valuable and indispensable they are within the industry they serve. Know your own worth, trust your authority, and make lists about what you do and why. Once you have explored what you do and how you serve people with expertise and authority–write down your plan.

Content Strategy: The Authority Plan

Develop a two-week plan that covers a certain topic in part. You can cover this over the course of two or three blog posts, and then promote these posts across other social media platforms. Talk about your current blog posts that are offering an “in-depth look at the industry (fill in your niche)” or share resources related to your two-week campaign in addition to the blog post you wrote on the topic.

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Create a sense of authority and expertise while also remaining relatable to your audience.          Photo by Christina Morillo

This is a reinforcement of your expertise and authority, which highlights what you can do for your clients and why you’re worth hiring. The best part is? Your how-to and information campaigns can honestly help people and you never had to pitch an awkward, weird sales-pitch to someone who didn’t want to hear it in the first place.

Content Strategy: The Launch

Gear your social media toward a launch. Maybe it will be the launch of a new product or a new class you’re teaching. It’s up for you to decide, but if this is a good fit for your small biz and what’s happening in your brand’s world, The Launch is a fantastic way to operate on a couple of marketing techniques that can really motivate people to jump on board your train of awesomeness.

The launch strategy capitalizes on a few things for your readers/viewers. First of all, since the launch happens at the end of a timeline, there is a countdown and a sense of scarcity as tickets/availability/time dwindles as the launch date draws closer. The “get it before it’s gone” mentality makes it hard to pass by if it is something that intrigues your readership or viewers.

Content Strategy: The Evergreen

I know I’ve talked about evergreen content before, but evergreen content really is that valuable. It’s the kind of stuff that, over time, stays relevant in the Google rankings because it remains relevant. If you write a really fantastic and informative, helpful post on a common problem in your field, people searching for a common solution to this common problem will be thankful you shared the answer.

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Demonstrate your expertise and show what you do as a form of content strategy.                     Photo by Andrea Piacquadio 

It’s the perfect chance to flout your authority and help some people out–who, in turn, might just poke around the rest of your website/channel/social media account and decide you’re pretty much the bee’s knees. At this point, at the very least you have the chance of earning a new follower. And, best case scenario, this evergreen content could earn you a converted client because they have found you–and your information–to be tried-and-true.

 

 

 

 

5 Tips for Working from Home

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.

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It’s not always a choice, but often times we have the choice to focus on positives in our situation and grow them like flowers. Weed out the stuff that doesn’t work and focus on the positives.

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

  1. 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.
  2. 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 short because 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.
  3. 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.
  4. 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.
  5. 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.”

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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.

Working from home in the current crisis.
Photo by Andrea Piacquadio from Pexels

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!

 

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.

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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

 

 

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.

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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.

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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.
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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.
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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.

 

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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.

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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.

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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!

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Photo by Polina Tankilevitch from Pexels

Three Types of Blog Posts and When to Use Them

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.

Writing Down the Bones: Revisiting My Past

Originally, I planned to teach creative writing and write fiction on the side. Over twenty years ago, Natalie Goldberg released her now-classic book, Writing Down the Bones. I read it in undergrad and this plus Ann Lamott’s Bird by Bird and considered them both indispensable maps on how to craft my life of writing. Now, I’m a writer freelancing in Colorado Springs and while it does have me offering writing service on the daily–it doesn’t have me using my creative writing skills in the same way I did when I was writing fiction and poetry and teaching kids and adults how to write a story or memoir.

A Writer’s Dream

I guess I ended up living the writer’s dream, in the sense that people pay me money to write words for them. I find a huge amount of satisfaction in being able to lend my creative voice and expertise to all sorts of Colorado Springs businesses and websites. I love bringing an authentic voice to a blog or website for a small business that doesn’t have time or the niche expertise to put together keyword-driven, SEO writing. But sometimes, a person wants to tell the story they were meant to tell.

This is why I’ve started revisiting creative writing in the cracks of my spare time. Also, I don’t have a lot of spare time–but that’s another matter. I’m loving how feeding my creative spirit is rejuvenating my professional writing. I’m remembering all the reasons I loved writing creative non-fiction and memoir narratives. I’m also remembering how incredibly freeing and healing creative writing can be.

Your Creative Journey

As I contemplated what to share this week, I felt the stir of spring (even though we are having the typical Colorado Springs snow flurry and winter weather right now). I thought of all the artists everywhere who might be struggling to do the thing and make the art. Whether its writing or drawing, painting, or the art of running a small business, those with the drive to create and make things can find this time of year so exhausting. It’s the demand of the daily while fighting the cold sludge of winter, meeting the promise of spring and the waning boon of the New Year and all her glorious resolutions and anti-resolutions. Everything on our list seems so important yet so elusive. The wheel of time seems so fast and yet so slow.

I’m challenging you to do the the thing in the month of March. Conquer a goal or a single step on your list that might seem insurmountable. The stir of spring really is stirring. Even beneath the snow and flurries of freezing winds, the promise of spring will still emerge. I’m wishing you the very best, no matter what your goals might be. For me, as I mentioned, I want to return to some creative writing ideas. These personal projects really leave me with more energy than they steal away.

The Writer’s Journey

So I’ve decided the writer’s journey hasn’t, in fact, ended for me at all. I’m energized by my work and excited to add clients to the growing client roster. I’m really looking forward to finding some others who would love to critique and revise their writing in a small-group setting. I’m not wanting to return to teaching or leading workshops–I’m simply hoping for some community.

With that said, I’ve heard good things about the Pike’s Peak Writers, and I bet other groups are out there if I just look for them. You can always drop me a line and let me know what writer groups or critique circles you know and love. And if you’re looking to add some professional and SEO writing to your website, please shoot me an email and be in touch!

Until next time,

Angi

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