Content creation when you hate writing

I get this question (or rather, exasperated statement!) about content creation all the time.
“I can’t write!”
“How am I supposed to do all this content creation everyone expects when I HATE writing!?”
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I’m one of those people you probably love to hate, because I love writing. I always have. Ever since I could pick up a crayon I have loved writing.

My essays won me competitions in school. My unsolicited articles secured me paid travel-writing gigs. My copywriting skills got me promotion. And my succinct wit has won me a number of 25 words or less competitions (my husband is still waiting for me to win a car or something more useful than hairtongs though…)

Yessiree, I am madly in love with the written word. It’s my favorite way to create content for my business.

However, I know for a fact that my love is not shared by all. In fact, I know for sure that some entrepreneurs actually hate writing. They may not even be bad at it, regardless, they hate it. And that’s cool.

I’m going to bust a myth that plagues the marketing world … that:

great content creators = great writers. Continue reading

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Overwhelmed? You Need A Creativity Retreat

I believe that business ownership is a creative endeavour.  But sometimes it can feel more like a task factory, more like a ‘job’ (you know, like the one you ran away from??),  than a creative outlet.

And the problem is it kind of gets worse as you get better and more experienced at what you do, which feels counter-intuitive but it’s often very true.  As you become a business-building machine, it’s easy to lose touch with your passion, your vision, your BIG WHY,  and it’s possible to even lose that genuine connection with the people you love to serve.

What a tragedy!

But it’s all too real for many business owners, especially as they grow from being a solo-entrepreneur or micro-business to one that is consistently driving profit and also supports others, not just the business owner.  The kicker is that your passion and creativity and the way that you express that is what really draws prospective clients in. It’s what people loved about you in the first place.  Heck, it’s what you loved about you too! And if you lose touch with it, then your prospects and fans do as well.

That passion and creativity is why you set up shop to begin with, right? (You didn’t do it because you thought it would be easier than having a job, did you??) So it’s time to reclaim your calling and your creativity.

But how?

Attend a creativity retreat.

It’s SO important to get away from your endless To-Do list, your everyday activities, and reconnect to your creative energy.   Giving time and space to you creativity, and actively working on the projects and ideas, will move you toward the future. It’s the juice that fuels your vision.

Don’t consider this a luxury. It’s a necessary practice for entrepreneurs and leaders. Seriously.

So I urge you to either find the time and place to have your own, personal creativity retreat, or better yet, come to mine!

There are some biz babes and bros I know who literally check themselves into a hotel room, turn off their phone, and stay there for a couple of days.  Writing, filming, creating.  Or the really lucky ones jump on a plane and go somewhere exotic, away from everything they know.  This is awesome if you are highly self-motivated, not easily distracted and have the time to research what’s going to work.

With a group or guided experience however, you get the benefit of structure, expertise on hand, peer support, and collaborative energy. Being around other people on a similar mission often makes it easier to get into the creative flow. (Being given a gentle nudge by a coach when you get stuck also helps!)

Regardless of what way you choose to go, your creativity retreat should include these components:

Physical Separation

Remove yourself from all distractions – clients, employees, kids, housework, day-to-day activities. Creativity and writing require a high level of focus that is often impossible in our normal environment.

Go somewhere different, away from what is ‘normal’. It doesn’t have to be the other side of the world, unless you have the means and the inclination of course.  A mountain or coastal retreat works well because of the natural inspiration the surroundings offer.

Separation also means technological separation. Where possible, don’t be calling in to the office or home to see how things are without you; and ask ‘your team’ to respect the same boundaries.  Being far away isn’t useful if you keep being interrupted by phone calls, texts, updates, etc.

Creating physical space away from your norm will allow the creativity to flow more easily.

Creative Inspiration

Your retreat should incorporate things that support your creative side – and everyone is a little different on this front.  Some people need the beach, others may need an adrenalin fuelled activity, still others might love the funky vibe of an urban neighbourhood.

Moving your body definitely helps to improve focus and creativity, so ensure your retreat includes regular breaks for yoga, stretching, walks, swims, dancing.

Other inspirational activities may be listening to mantras or music, trying something new, colouring in, listening to an inspirational speaker, cooking in a new style.

Enough Time

Habits and patterns are hard to break.  Unwinding from your normal routine takes time.  Don’t expect you can go away for an afternoon and slip into super-creativity-retreat-mode.  To really gain the full benefit of an intense creative time, you need sufficient time. I recommend a minimum of 36 hours, but take 2 or 3 days if you can.

Tangible Results

Before you go on your creativity retreat, set some specific outcomes, but be sure to have a flexible mindset that allows room for new ideas as well.  My retreat participants spend up to two hours with me planning what they want to achieve and why.  This is then condensed into a formal Retreat Plan that they pledge to follow by signing it on night one of the retreat – accountability always works best!

If you don’t have a plan, and are simply interested in ‘going with the flow’,  you may find yourself floundering.  Time is precious – don’t go wasting it.

Setting yourself a goal to complete X amount of blogs, or write your book outline, or create 6 months worth of Facebook posts, means you will come out the other end of retreat having accomplished something! You will have a body or work that can make a real difference to your business and carry the retreat experience forward.

Do you need to get out of your rut and shake things up?

Perhaps it’s time for a creative, entrepreneurial retreat!

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Losing your voice – literally or metaphorically

I’ve lost my voice. My actual voice, not my writer’s voice, has just disappeared.

Well, truth be told, the word ‘just’ is incorrect. I knew it was coming for 3 days. There was that telltale tickle, the waves of heat, the loss of strength, the lack of energy. And this morning it was gone. No sound. Nada.

I’ve been using my voice a lot lately, more than usual and more fiercely. Coaching, speaking gigs, presentations, networking, parenting, daughtering. And I’ve been speaking for so many other people too: voicing their fears, propping them up, going in to bat, celebrating them, fighting for them. A change in domestic circumstance has meant I’ve had to tell the story over and over again, and I think I’ve literally run out of words.  I’ve exhausted myself by prioritising everyone else’s emotions and interests; my own have slipped by the wayside.

And so I instinctively knew that my voice was bound to give way at some point. It’s my body’s way of saying “ssshhhhhhh…” It’s time to listen. Continue reading

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Perfect content? Are you kidding?

Do you get nervous whenever you have to send something out, worrying that it won’t be exactly right?

Do you cringe every time you’re about to press publish on Facebook?

Do you muck around with your sales pages, your marketing materials, your emails to the point of spinning in circles? Or even worse, to the point of not sending them out at all?

It’s time for a perfection intervention!

You know that there is no such thing as perfection when it comes to creating content for your business, right? It is simply impossible to get to this mythical point called ‘perfection’ because the truth is that you can continue to make changes and improvements for ever! Creative work will never be perfect, but at a certain point, you must just decide that it is done.

An old CEO of mine once said: “Don’t let perfection get in the way of progress.” I didn’t realise how true that was until I started my own business.  You see, it’s always easier to let go of the content when it’s not your baby that it relates to. Not that I was ever sloppy or slapdash with my content previously, but when I was writing for other brands, the attachment simply wasn’t as high as it is with my own; it was easier to let it go at ‘really good’ versus ‘outstanding’.

It’s perfectly normal and understandable for any business owner who has vested endless energy and effort into getting every little detail of their business just right, to want to get every single word perfect. What I’m going to suggest however, is that you may need to lower your standards a bit. Now, I’m not saying to put out low-quality content by any means, but if your standards are so high that you never actually reach them, you are in fact inhibiting your own growth. How will anyone get to know, like and trust you if they never hear from you? How will prospects understand where you position your services if you don’t talk about them?  It is important to strike a balance and have standards that are achievable.

Perfection paralysis is a real thing. But it’s not a good thing if you want your business to expand.

Here are 4 considerations that may help you to embrace imperfection.

Just start creating

Author, Brene Brown, summed up this irony beautifully in her book Daring Greatly: “Perfectionism crushes creativity – which is why one of the most effective ways to start recovering from perfectionism is to start creating.” Perfectionism can cause us to stop creating before we even get started simply due to fear that we won’t live up to our own standards. Ridiculous but true! And the more we do this, the more it continues to occur.  The reality is that self expression and creativity are inherently messy and imperfect.

Take the example of painting. In our culture, most adults refuse to pick up a brush and paint a picture because they think they can’t create something worthwhile.  Head to any kindergarten or preschool however, and the room will be filled with enthusiastic painters, all creating their own masterpieces freely and excitedly.  They have not yet learnt the meaning of perfectionism.  Their messy, imperfect paintings are beautiful!

Conversation and connection

Building relationships with people is the primary purpose of business content, therefore, when creating content it may help to think about it like a conversation. When you talk to someone you don’t plan every word you are going to say ahead of time. You may hesitate or struggle for words but that doesn’t reduce your ability to connect with that person. In fact, showing some ‘humanness’ and imperfection often makes you more relatable.  Remember the old saying ‘nobody is perfect’? Well it’s true! So stop trying to be. If you’re aiming to provide a flawless image in your business comms you may actually be doing damage to your brand. Why? Because you raise questions and concerns amongst your readers about the possibility of perfection.  You alienate them by making them feel less than worthy, which is the opposite of what you want to do with your content.

Consider the stats

Short-term content pieces, such as emails and blogs, unfortunately don’t get read all the way through by up to 70% of viewers. Sad but true! Most readers skim read these pieces of content.  So, as far as perfection goes, it may help to realise that your audience is NOT nit-picking your content nearly as much as you are!

Everything is a test

As business owners we should always be trying and testing and measuring new things.  As entrepreneurs and innovators – that’s what we do! Inevitably, it won’t all land perfectly. Viewing this as ‘failure’ however, is not useful to anyone.  Rather think of it as R&D – research and development.  The more you try things out, the more information you uncover, which helps you to do it better or differently next time. And since nothing is ever perfect, everything is a test!

Stop aiming for perfection, and start seeking out the beautifully imperfect. It is there that you learn and grow.

Let me know if you struggle with perfection….I can help.

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You ARE creative: find out how then use it

Creativity and self-expression are transformative – both in business and in daily life.  And I believe everyone has the capacity to be creative.

But don’t go getting all uncomfortable and start backing away….I can hear you now saying “but I’m NOT creative. I can’t do that!”

The truth is, you can, and hopefully you’ll see that too, when I let you in on what I believe is ‘creativity’.

Creativity according to Jo Johnson

Continue reading

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What does confidence mean for you?

As a business owner there is nowhere to hide when things get tough. There is no boss to look up to, and often no subordinate to blame! It is you and you alone who needs to take responsibility for whatever is going on. So how do you find the confidence to step up and out when it matters most? How do you continue to find the gumption to communicate your message and your value?

What does confidence mean to you?

Is it being so comfortable in your own skin that nothing and noone else matters?

Is it the feeling that you can be relied upon?

Or is it the slightly irritating attitude of bravura, of highly opinionated people?

Continue reading

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Positioning and presentation – make your coffee worth lining up for

As I wandered my way through the small local village to the butcher the other day I was struck by something – most of the people I could see were in line for one store. One cafe.  It got me thinking about how important ‘exposure’ is to all of us as business owners and entrepreneurs.

You see, the only perceivable difference between that one cafe and all the others in the village is its position and the way they display their items.

Trust me, the prices are the same (or bigger) for their coffee and food, the quality is arguably the same, the service is equally nonchalant. In fact everything else is much the same.

The only real difference that appears to generate 4-5 times the sales of their competitors is their positioning and presentation.

Continue reading

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Meaningful connection with audience begins with connection with self

The content you produce for your business should be about creating meaningful connection with your audience.  Yes, it should demonstrate expertise, yes it can be for the ultimate goal of creating sales, but the underpinning motive should be to connect.   The thing is, meaningful connection isn’t only about the content you share with your people – it’s also about connecting with yourself and your ideas.
Arguably, if you get the second type of connection right first – the self connection –  meaningful connection with those you want to help will come as a natural next step.

A really great way to encourage self connection is with old fashioned pen and paper.

The process of writing long-hand is SO good for the brain and for the free-flow of ideas.   There is evidence to suggest that writing long-hand:

  • improves retention of information (handwritten notes helps retain knowledge as the brain summarises and comprehends better when committing notes to paper)
  • increases critical thinking and problem solving (strong writers and avid readers are non-linear thinkers and are more able to draw connections and develop unconventional solutions to complex problems)
  • heightens creativity (using paper forces the brain to slow down and use phrases or shapes to solidify complex ideas).

A huge bonus is that you also can’t self-edit as easily as when you use a keyboard, which means a higher likelihood of actually getting all of your ideas out on the page before pressing the delete button!Writing in long-hand is a fabulous way to create a meaningful connection with self partly because of the physical act of feeling the writing surface and holding the pen. Your brain is actually required to use thought to direct precise movement of that pen across the writing surface.  Whereas, the alternative, using a keyboard, is a simple memory-based action – executing keystrokes is a repetitive motion based on letter placement on the keyboard.People often prefer typing because of the speed and convenience and the ability to share and print documents easily.  All very valid reasons.  However the benefits outlined above are often lost when you hit the keys instead of the paper.  Thankfully there are ways to have your cake and eat it too – using a stylus to write on a tablet or using a service such as Evernote to scan your handwritten notes are great ways to get the best of both worlds.

Here are a couple of ways to connect with yourself and your ideas

Mind Mapping

The writing of content on paper requires more than just scribbling on sticky notes or idle doodling.  Mind mapping is a great way to develop concepts or solve problems because it encourages unstructured thinking and it activates the creative side of your brain. When you write a whole bunch of ideas down around a particular topic, you get to see the connection between them.  This often helps you find the story or pathway within the idea and connects you more fully to it.

Multiple Colours

Incorporating different colours into your writing is beneficial in both academic and professional settings. Using a consistent colour-coded system allows you to easily see where your priorities are and where pertinent activities or thoughts are included.  If you’re more of a visual person then this will really suit you. You can get quite creative with your colour coding!

A Focused Moment

When you’re in a position where you know you need some help or it’s time to make a change, but you’re not quite sure where to begin, stop for a minute and take a good look around you. Where you are right now is super important.  Then write it down. Describe what you see, how you feel, who’s around you and what you’re doing. Be ok with where you are but acknowledge you want something more or different. That clarity and acknowledgement of the present will help you figure out the next best step for you.

Examination of Fear 

Being wrapped in fear is paralysing.  Sometimes the fear is founded but often it’s only perceived.  So if you’re able to pause for a few minutes to examine what you’re actually afraid of, you’re better able to face those fears.  Write them down.  Where is the fear felt on your body? How does it affect your thinking, your breathing? What if that fear wasn’t real? What if it was removed in an instant? When you can face the fear, you can embrace the fear which helps you work with it and move forward rather than stay paralysed.

 

Connecting with yourself first, through pen and paper, to understand where you’re at is going to put you in good stead to write the words your audience needs to hear at any given point. Take a moment, don’t rush it. The right words to create meaningful connection will come.

If you need a hand with implementing this process into your weekly marketing schedule, drop me a line. We can do a thirty minute power session to get you on the right track.

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The art of resilience – there’s never a wrong age to learn it

This is a story about my girl Lucy. A story of resilience and dogged determination – two values I regard highly. It’s a story whose lesson most adults could learn from, and a story which is equally valid when applied to dealing with tough situations in our business as it is here in the childhood swimming pool.

Lucy was determined to give the school swimming trials a go. As a grade 3 it was the first year she was eligible. Not many of her friends were keen to try out, in fact there were only 8 girls out of about 55 who were attempting it. She’d been equally excited and nervous all week, unsure of what to expect, but really wanted to give it a crack regardless. She’s a great little swimmer but not what I’d call a natural fish.  However, she’s very competitive with herself, so she wasn’t going to let the opportunity pass her by.

Her race was up first and it was the compulsory freestyle – not her favourite stroke, but a necessary one. I could see the nerves on her face, but she patted her friend on the back to encourage her and made a joke at the starting line to cover up her feelings. Continue reading

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The power of a mentor. If not now, then when?

The fastest known way to grow your business is by working with an experienced mentor.

Why?

Because they’ve been where you are, faced the challenges you’ve faced and know what works.

When people message me to say they’re struggling to hit their goals in their business, or that it all feels ‘hard’, I always ask them “who are you working with to help keep you on track?”

Continue reading

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