How (and What) to Write for Business

In two weeks we’ll launch the first night of:

How (and What) to Write for Business

We will be covering ways you can boost your written communication and write better blogs, craft awesome emails, and communicate fo your business with brand, tone, and messaging in mind. We will be offering a lot of tips and tricks and solid info, as well as a real-world assignment that you can use in your own business endeavors. You’ll write a blog and/or email for business, applying the things we learn and discuss in class.

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Get creative. Start communicating in a whole new way with Moonphase Creative’s Writing Course. image: Adobe Stock.

The second night of class (and final class! yes, short and sweet), you’ll receive constructive feedback and ways to keep carrying your writing to the next level. We’re keeping the class small and personable in order to facilitate a COVID-19 friendly setting, and to ensure each student gets the best in personalized feedback and individualized instruction.

Teaching to Empower

I’m teaching business owners, employees, and self-employed folks how to write for business in order to empower your career journey. Learning how to write for business with marketing in mind goes beyond simple grammar mechanics. We will cover ideas surrounding Call to Action, structuring a blog post, utilizing keywords and doing market research in order to craft your message with strategy and purpose.

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Learn to create compelling written communication for your business. Image: Pexels

You’ll be doing some real world work to research, formulate, and craft writing that really responds to our discussion and the things we’ll be talking about. From content creation and content strategy, to planning your social media, we’ve got a lot in store for this class.

Wednesday, September 16th & 23rd

We plan to offer classes continually on Wednesday evenings, and the first will be held September 16th and 23rd, from 5 to 6.30 pm. The class takes place in downtown Colorado Springs at Wolf & Key Marketing, located at your 745 E. Pikes Peak Avenue

You’ll head home from the first evening with an assignment, armed with information about how to complete the writing assignment with things like

  • Blog Post Structure & How to Organize for SEO
  • How to Write with Keywords
  • Word counts
  • How to Write Effectively
  • Brand Communication & Messaging

Come prepared with a notebook and pen/pencil (required) and a laptop or iPad if you have one (not required). The cost is $60, and limited to five students, so you’ll want to get in touch ASAP to reserve your spot.

Good Writing Takes Practice

Good writing takes time, and it takes practice. I’m often hired by those who do not have the time to devote to blog writing or email marketing, and I can be a huge help to those who have the budget and bandwidth. However, I get that many small business owners and solopreneurs are wearing every hat in the business. That was my real motivation in forming this class.

I wanted to offer an affordable class that didn’t demand weeks of commitment, but offered the opportunity to learn some really helpful stuff about writing for business. How do you choose blog topics? How often should you be posting on social media? What is content strategy? How do you write a solid email campaign?

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The take home assignment will leave you with real-world application and positive feedback. Image: Pexels

My goal is to look at the writing itself, rather than tools and platforms, so while we might go over a few things like MailChimp or WordPress blogs, the overall focus of this class is writing and writing alone. I’m happy to help students go beyond and learn more, but for the purposes of this class we will focus on your writing skills, developing really clear, strong communication that is very easily plugged into the platforms so that when your writing goes live, you feel proud and confident about the messages you’re publishing.

Moonphase Creative Classes: Live, In-Person, Online

So far, this class will only be available In-Person, but I’m hoping to expand into online accessibility and various forms of recorded and live classes. I’ll be exploring platforms and options on my end, and of course you can email me with any suggestions you might have.

Want more information on this class or other opportunities to learn and connect? Please contact Moonphase Creative and let us know what your writing needs are.

COVID 19 Classroom Precautions

We are keeping the class small (Limit 5!) to be mindful of COVID 19, and to help ensure an educational experience that is personalized and meets students in a unique and direct way. We also will require masks, as per state guidelines. Probably the coolest part? Wolf & Key Marketing will have a whole wall that can be opened (weather allowing) for optimal airflow and extra ventilation.

If you have any questions or concerns about our in-person learning opportunity, again, please reach out to discuss upcoming online learning options and let us know how we can continue to develop our educational outreach to better serve our community.

Colorado Springs & Beyond

Of course, teaching in-person (let’s be honest–I MISS PEOPLE!! Which is saying something, as I’m an introvert), is only easy if you are also be in the Springs. Again, we are working on ways to connect and educate online. Innovation has never been a strong suit when it comes to technology, if I’m honest, so bear with us as Moonphase Creative once again evolves and expands to meet the evolution of this crazy universe we’re spinning through.

We hope to see you soon, in the classroom or around the blog and in the comments.

 

Until next time,

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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.

Brand Communication: Writing with Vision

I’ve been delving into branding and strategy more and more lately, simply because writing for social media is kind of inseparable from the fascinating land of Branding and Marketing. Here are a few thoughts to get you on your own path to better brand communication, on-point messaging, and a more mindful approach to tone and story.

Communicating Your Story

When you’re writing for social media, you are communicating the arc of your brand’s story over the course of social media. The catch is, though, you aren’t the hero. You are the answer to the hero’s struggle, and your mission is to show them all the ways your business, your products and/or services, make their struggle all better.

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Make your communication clear so the crowd hears you loud and clear. Image: AdobeStock

So communicating your brand’s story should be authentic and engaging, but it should also be incredibly intentional. It should focus on your client persona and really achieve a specific conversation leveraged to gain their interest and trust. This intentional appeal to your perfect client is what will ultimately win you more conversions. Because–as we’ve said before: engagements are great, but conversions are better.

Brand Communication is a Thing

I promise you, brand communication is a thing: if you ignore this important fact, your messaging will be significantly less effective. Operating within your company’s brand and vision can be an entirely different thing from communicating well and communicating effectively. You can communicate well and effectively, but if it isn’t in-line with your brand’s vision, mission, and overall image, then it is counterproductive and can damage your marketing endeavors.

Developing your branding takes time, and there are tons of creatives who dedicate their professional careers to developing brands, cultivating the looks, style, and messaging of a company. For my peeps in Colorado Springs, are just a few places to connect with if you want amazing, professional, and personal attention to brand your professional outfit.

Neon Pig Creative

Ren Creative

Copywriting & Voice

Copywriting can seem like such a stiff and boring aspect of branding and marketing, but the voice of your brand ultimately belongs in the hands of the writer. Finding the right tone and style for your brand’s professional communication pieces, blog posts, general website copy, and social media can be more challenging than you first assume. Considering written tone is harder to decipher with certainty, finding a writer who is a good fit for your brand’s voice is incredibly important.

The nuance of written communication, along with brevity and clarity, are some of the most important elements you need to consider when developing your brand’s written communication. Beyond these things, it should be consistent. When people see an Instagram post, Facebook post, or blog post from your company, the copy should read with a similar enough tone, message, and personality that your audience doesn’t feel jarred, or as though a dozen different people are talking at them through different social media platforms.

These points of consideration should be on your checklist when you set to the tasks of defining and improving your brand communication where necessary.

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Don’t get your wires crossed!    Photo: Alex Andrews

Deliver on What You Say

Consistency is key, so if you can deliver on what you’re saying–then of course your business is solid and gold. I make mention of this because when we work within the structure of Marketing, it can be easy to start making lucrative promises and painting pictures beyond what we can deliver.

Dream big, but dream realistically. Carefully consider your messaging and what you offer, to be sure you set yourself up for a successful delivery of any products, goods, or services. Charge fairly–charge enough that you can take on a comfortable load and make a comfortable living. This factor alone will give you the power to politely decline jobs that sound like they’re not a good fit. If this happens often, it may be time to revisit your strategy and take a look at your ideal client persona vs. what your business is actually attracting.

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Every part of your brand’s communication realized on words and visual cohesion. Image:AdobeStock

Communication is Key

Written communication becomes the binding thread between all of your print and web publications. Every single marketing campaign, social media platform presence, and newsletter publication will boil down to the message you send through writing.

Visual content is also important, but without strong writing to carry and lift, everything will fall flat. Poor communication and sub-par writing will leave your readers doubting you, and eventually they will move on to the more polished shop with shinier words and better communication.

If you’re looking for ways to improve your writing, or would like to outsource your writing, please contact us. And if you’re not sure where to begin as you set sail through social media, please feel free to reach out with questions or shoot me an email at

angi.baker.saunders@gmail.com

 

Until next time,

 

 

Angi

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

 

 

What Can Digital Marketing Do For You?

“But wait!”

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What if I told you Content Writing has EVERYTHING to do with Digital Marketing?

 

“You’re a writer.

Oh. Okay.

But what if I told you that a lot of what I offer as a Copy and Content Writer has everything to do with marketing? And, since I primarily write for web, my writing really has everything to do with digital marketing–though, no, I am definitely not a digital marketer.

What is Digital Marketing?

So, first off, what is digital marketing, actually?

HubSpot gives this definition:

Digital marketing encompasses all marketing efforts that use an electronic device or the internet. Businesses leverage digital channels such as search engines, social media, email, and other websites to connect with current and prospective customers.

And that is exactly why my job as a copy and content writer has everything to do with digital marketing. I write for every single one of these platforms. As Donald Miller, author, speaker, and creator of the StoryBrand concept says, words are the ultimate tool in storytelling.

Visual storytelling is awesome. Having clean, crisp images and a color palette that ties in a brand’s identity and helps sell a brand image and further their story is awesome. But at the end of the day, folks, it comes down to words.

What Can You Do to Tackle Digital Marketing?

Since Digital Marketing really is an umbrella term encompassing all the many ways we target, connect, and engage audiences online, tackling digital marketing can have a lot of steps. I recommend setting some doable, bite-sized goals for yourself and starting small. Perhaps this means setting up a website for your small business, and then committing to writing blog posts regularly to help boost your SEO organically.

Then, after you’ve mastered that, perhaps your next step is tackling Facebook and Instagram. Make business accounts for both of these social media powerhouses and start sharing those blog posts you’re publishing regularly, and commit to several weekly posts on Instagram showing relevant content rather than just pictures of your adorable dog cuddling a parakeet.

 

Develop Your Digital Marketing Plan

Developing your digital marketing plan can be a process that evolves overtime. But, basically, you should commit to three or four strategies and then prioritize following through. Trust me, this will be the hardest part.

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Outsourcing your digital marketing implementation might end up being a really great option for you, or you might find that utilizing a suite of nifty tools like Buffer and Hootsuite are the answers to your side-hustle prayers.

Learning about different ways to digitize your marketing and diversifying your strategy will be key to your success. Check out some of these ideas to keep growing your digital marketing strategy.

Whatever route you choose, remember that the follow-through is most important. Especially in organic SEO: consistency is key, as results can easily take six months to become noticeable.

Familiarize Yourself with Writing Techniques

In addition to learning the basics of digital marketing, familiarize yourself with writing techniques. Learn how writing for web and digital marketing works, and make an effort to identify your strengths weaknesses as a writer. This really will help your professional communication in every aspect, from emails to blog posts, to social media blurbs and bylines.

Check out my post about writing a blog post for some really basic ideas on getting started, or read up on SEO strategies in 2020.

And beyond trade-specific writing info, check out resources like Grammar Girl’s guide to writing properly (her blog is full of fascinating word-nerd info), or take a quick course to freshen your business and casual writing skills. Top-level writing will definitely help you pull of you DIY digital marketing endeavors with greater success. If that isn’t your skillset and you’re not eager to make time for it yourself, outsourcing copy and content is a viable solution that many small businesses find a huge time-saver and value-booster.

Stay Committed

Stay committed to digital marketing strategies and implementations. I’ll reiterate what I said throughout previous paragraphs about that exact thing.

Stay committed to your digital marketing plan.

Stay committed to developing your understanding of what works and what doesn’t.

Stay committed to content planning and strategic posting schedules.

And if you can’t, then commit to outsourcing the work to someone who does it for a living because it really can be that much of a game-changer for any company.

What’s your plan going to be?

So now that you know what digital marketing is, and a little bit about what it might entail, what is your plan going to be?

As always, feel free to be in touch. Email me or find us on Facebook. Moonphase Creative is always excited to help you in whatever phase you’re orbiting.

 

Until next time,

 

Angi

 

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).

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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.
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    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.
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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!

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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.

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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

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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.