Beating Writer’s Block: There Are No Stupid Ideas!

Beating Writer's Block: There Are No Stupid Ideas!

… at least when it comes to topics for potential posts and articles.

You remember this phrase:

There are no stupid questions, often followed by a snarky addendum like, “just stupid people!”

I’m revising that phrase for the purpose of this article. Here we go:

There are no stupid article ideas, only the stupid people who don’t record or write them down in some fashion and then complain that they don’t have anything to write about.

Writer’s Block Woes!

While not having time to write is the excuse I hear most often, it’s closely followed by, I don’t know what to write about. You know, they’re mired in the worst case of writer’s block ever known to mankind!

Malarkey! You might not have a fully fleshed out article ready to publish just like that, but if you’re on board with the important of content marketing – and I know you are – then you’ll have some sort of idea list. That list is what’s going to get you through!

Keep A Growing List Of Article Ideas

You can keep the list in a composition notebook, in Evernote, in an Excel spreadsheet or store it in a Google Drive folder. That’s what I do.

I have a folder titled Mallie’s Article Ideas. Each time I have an idea I create a new document. Sometimes all that I add to the new document is a title. Sometimes a quote, or a bulleted list. Regardless, I’ve jotted down the idea, no matter how small and it’s waiting for me when I get the AHA moment to flesh it out into a full article.

You never know when inspiration will strike. Readying yourself for that strike with a lovely list of ideas is so very smart. Instead of feeling overwhelmed about what you’ll write about today, you’re presented with a plethora of possible topics. You need only scroll through your list. If you’ve kept that list topped up, something will grab your eyes as they pass by and transmit a “that’s the one” message to your brain.

How Does This Work With A Content Calendar?

I’m so glad you asked! I maintain a very loose interpretation of a content calendar. Rather than marking that Monday is the day for Article A, I simply designate Monday as a day when I’ll publish something. By doing so I’m not forced to push through publishing an article that I’m not feeling all that jazzed about at the time. Instead, I whip through my trusty list until inspiration strikes.

Clean Out The List Once A Week, For Clarity.

Once a week I go through the list to see if I need to delete anything that is no longer of interest (maybe someone else already wrote it up and there’s not much else I can say). If I’ve merged any ideas together, I clean that up, too. If I’ve published an idea, it gets moved to my published folder. Why not just delete it? I like having a quick reference for what I’ve already done.

I sometimes jot create 15 documents in an hour. And sometimes several days pass between entries. But by keeping that growing list, I’m never stuck with only one topic. I can’t choose not to write because I’m not “feeling” a certain topic. With a list full of my ideas, I can always find something that sparks me to publish.

How do you collect and save article ideas? Do you keep a running list? How do you beat writer’s block?

No, We Can’t Design A Logo For $50!

No, We Can't Design A Logo For $50!

A.K.A. Why Are Your Services So Expensive

Mr. Hart and I often find we’re asked why our design services “cost so much?”

Especially when it comes to logos. It’s time to explain why OH why we can’t knock out your logo for tens of dollars!

A logo is just one small part of your brand. It’s not a brand in entirety, but we believe that most entrepreneurs would admit that a logo is one key element when it comes to branding, marketing and recognition. We consider your logo a “foundation” piece in your overall branding, messaging and marketing plan. It plays a huge role in both print and digital applications, requiring differing file types, permutations and more. When we deliver a logo, we factor in all of those permutations. Meaning? It’s not a one file fits all delivery.

You might need a logo in limited colors for certain print applications. We make sure that’s a possibility. Need it to work in black and white? Factored in. Need both portrait and landscape iterations? No worries. Need it to be scalable for a variety of digital and print applications from business cards to billboards? We make it happen.

As you can see, it’s not an easy 1-2-3 and done, simple design solution. But there’s even more.

Want that tagline used with the logo? Has to be legible doesn’t it? We have to factor in kerning, line spacing, readability and more. Using a script font? Will it work in all sizes? We have to check, some don’t flow as well the bigger they get. Want it bold or ALL CAPPED for specific purposes? The font has to allow for that.

The smart logo designer has to understand typography, color theory, color connotation, scalability, digital and print application and so much more.

So, no – we can’t design your logo for $50.00. Hopefully, you now understand why.

Better Business Love: You’re Not A Robot!

Better Business Love: You're Not A Robot!

If you love what you do, you’ll never work a day in our life!

I’m sorry, but to resort to some pre-Super Bowl football language, I’m going to have to throw a flag on that play!

I absolutely, without doubt, every ding-danged day – LOVE what I do for a living. Owning my own business means I that I engage in what I call “better business.” I get up and go right to it most mornings. But, yes – there’s a but …

I work my proverbial pardukey off each and every day, including evenings, weekends, holidays and sometimes while I’m on vacation. Working hard, working long hours, building your business – they’re part of loving what you do, part of building that better business! Sometimes I work through illness and sometimes I have to cancel fun plans to meet deadlines or to keep on track with monthly tasks, reporting and goals. I still love what I do, but I do, occasionally, have to give things up.

It’s the me that I put into the effort that makes me love what I do, what I produce. My love for what I do doesn’t control me, or automate my actions. My love for what I do allows me to better control my business. I make decisions, some more difficult than others. I don’t just forge forward each day on the same path, automatic, automated and robotic.

We’re not robots, we’re human beings. We get tired, some days we’re feeling more up or decidedly more down than others. We get sick, get the sniffles, have bad hair and pajama days as we settle in front of the computer. This, our humanity, is what we pour into our businesses.

Sometimes we get angry, sometimes we get snarky, sometimes we get sarcastic. While we don’t want to let these feelings pour unabated into our business, the occasional sharing of our “human side” can actually appeal to present and potential clients.

Just as you wouldn’t automate everything you share via social media, you can’t automate everything about yourself when you’re running a business. To say “you’ll never work a day in your life” if you love what you do demeans that love. Because we go all out, give our best and make the most effort when we’re really into something, when we really love what we do.

Hopefully this is another ridiculous blanket statement debunked.

Snow Snark: Social Media Gone Too Sarcastic?

Snow Snark: Social Media Gone Too Sarcastic?

Most of us – those who reside in the south – have no qualms about admitting we can’t drive in winter weather conditions. Though I have had to do so in the past, on several occasions, it has been with white knuckles and pounding heart. I don’t enjoy it and I’ll do all I can to stay snug and warm at home in order to evade such scary driving conditions.

Snowmageddon and other names created by the media of course seem silly when the net snowfall accumulation is a few inches. However, I admit to being a bit appalled at the way some of my northern “friends” have commented on the situation. I admit that when I worked at the television station I’d roll my eyes when the news director got the ratings gleam in his eye at the mere mention of snow flurries. Most of the time the hysteria and hype was unfounded.

But sometimes the situation isn’t funny, even if the snowfall amounts to less than 5 inches.

Do your images of “real snow” and “real” winter driving conditions trump mothers, fathers, wives and husbands who spent hours – four, six, eight, ten and more – trying to get home to their families.

Do your cute memes and jokes about what the weather’s like in Canada get an elementary school child home rather than spending the night on the floor in the cafeteria or assembly hall at school?

Granted, I spent the day in my home office, safe and sound. But following along on social media I know that Atlanta drivers and those awaiting those drivers at home were worried and concerned, if not out and out scared.

The temperatures fell to 10 degrees in my area of Atlanta, not too far from the parking lots that were once bustling Interstates. Many people ran out of gas and spent the night in the cold. And it doesn’t matter where you live, spending the night with no heat with temperatures hovering well below freezing is no fun and potentially dangerous.

I could, if I didn’t think about it, scoff and make fun of people who get scared by what I’d call minor earthquakes, as I can well remember the nightmare that was the Loma Prieta earthquake,  7.0 magnitude, with aftershocks larger than most of the quakes that have worried those online friends.

But I know better. Why. Because I grew up in California, and earthquakes were something I grew up with, something I dealt with on a regular basis. Much like the snow northerners deal with on a daily basis. Atlanta doesn’t deal with snow on a regular basis. Our last snow issue was in 2011. Our city’s infrastructure isn’t capable of dealing with roads made impassable by sheets of ice.

I could ramble on and on, but I won’t. Instead I’ll just ask you to consider walking a mile in your Southern friends shoes. Imagine if you just could not, no matter how hard you tried, get home or get to your young child. Imagine walking miles on icy streets just to get home, wearing a coat for Atlanta weather patterns, not those normal to Wisconsin or Minnesota.  Consider not knowing exactly where your child was, perhaps on a bus about to run out of gas miles from home.

The idea of social is to share, but at times like this I think social should help rather than harm. While your barbs and jokes can’t physically hurt anyone, they certainly don’t help when someone is worrying or scared.

Think about it. And I promise not to roll my eyes and snarkily chime in when you think 92 degrees with less than 50% humidity is a heat wave!

Aggressively Awesome? Social Behavior Failure!

Aggressively Awesome? Social Behavior Failure!

I spend a little time each day seeking out and interacting with possible new connections. It’s something I endeavor to do with intent and purpose, hoping to make meaningful, mutually beneficial connections. On this particular day I was flexing my connection muscles on Twitter. And I was outgunned.

This paragon of powerful and awesome is apparently:

  • a brainiac of epic proportions
  • the best writer EVAH
  • the strongest woman at the gym, at ANY gym
  • a business genius
  • a marketing maven
  • a techie temptress
  • tipping the emotional intelligence scale
  • and does all of this in the small space that makes up her Twitter bio

Wowsers! I should, apparently, be impressed. However, I’m not. Why? Because this kind of bio screams of an aggressive attempt to alert us to a superhero presence. Folks, I love my superhero movies. They’re my go-to when I’m working on the couch with the laptop. I can spend an entire working weekend with the likes of Marvel and Justice League heroes and heroines. Yet, despite this great love for the all powerful doers of good and battlers of evil, I know that superheroes are imaginary. This is, to me, a social behavior failure of near epic proportions. Why? Read on.

In reality, where kryptonite and gamma rays aren’t factors, we’re all human. We sometimes wake up grumpy, wanting to bury our head under the pillow (this is me when the cats or husband spend the night aggressively sawing logs). Some days we spill our coffee down our shirts and have to change, sometimes twice. We have bad hair days, get lipstick on our teeth, drive too fast or too slow, break a shoelace, piss off a friend or colleague. I could go on and on, but you get the picture. Sometimes we make the wrong call on a post or share. Sometimes we forget to say thank you within an hour. Sometimes, being quite honest, we’re just FAR from perfect.

The people I look up to, the people who keep me going when I’m feeling down are the kinds of people that have learned from foibles and mistakes in their human pasts and have chosen to engage in real and responsible social behavior. They don’t profess to be experts, gurus, mavens or ninjas in an industry that’s as prone to change as Cher at a gig on the Vegas strip. They prefer to engage in conversation, with plenty of getting to know you candor, rather than creating and force feeding me a laundry list of their awesome attributes.

As for the paragon of virtue described above? I chose not to connect with her. Maybe I’m just not awesome enough? Maybe it all boils down to me being insecure or even scared. But I’m just not really up to connect with someone who probably thinks she poops pink peonies! How’s that for some alliteration?!?!

What kinds of social behavior set your teeth on edge? Please do share in the comments!