How To Be Inspired Today

How To Be Inspired Today

JS, Medium

Creativity begets more creativity. Inspiration can be found from anywhere, but it can be easy to get so mired in and forget or be unable to find the beauty in the world.

Stop what you’re doing. Right now. Just take a moment, put down the pen, the phone, remove your fingers from the keyboard. Just stop.

After you read this sentence, close your eyes and take a deep breath and hold it for 5 seconds. With your eyes still closed, think of the last thing that made you laugh. The last thing that made you cry. Picture yourself in your happy place. Now, open your eyes and go read.

Read the news, read blog posts, articles, a book, whatever you want. By exposing yourself to new ideas and articles, you’ll immediately start thinking of topics or be reminded of something you’d planned to write about.

Why the close your eyes exercise? 2 reasons. 1, because it’s expected and 2, because it works. By putting yourself in a positive mindset, you are more likely to be open to inspiration and new ideas and then feel positively towards them.

My happy place is a gorgeous beach on crystal clear water. I can taste my frozen strawberry margarita, hear the waves crashing into shore with that sound that is a cross between a crowd cheering me on and a tremendous crash. I can see the boat waiting for me offshore, a small sailboat that I can take out fishing or scalloping or diving. Next to me is a stack of books I’ve been wanting to read, and my phone is nowhere to be found. I can feel the sand in my toes and the wind in my face and the slight tingling of my skin starting to get pink.

If that image doesn’t inspire you, then I don’t know what will!

Inspiration comes from everywhere and anywhere. Your daily experiences and the people you interact with, the news, other blogs, and more. A picture that makes you laugh, a meal you love, experiences you enjoy.

The best way to find immediate inspiration is to read. Whenever I read through my Medium feed, I see titles and posts that remind me of things I want to write. Or that is a differing point of view than my own, and I want to discuss why. And sometimes, they are a list of topic starters and ideas which give me something to write about.

 

Where do you find your inspiration? Do you actively go looking for it?

 

Photo Credit

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Time Management & Working From Home

Time Management & Working From Home

Entrepreneur, JS

As a working from home entrepreneur, time management is extremely important to me and my success, just like it was when I was an 8:30 to 5:30 corporate salesperson. I think the unifying thing across all jobs and all industries is being able to effectively manage you time and all of your priorities and tasks.

 

When you work from home or are an entrepreneur in general, time management and work-life balance is extremely important, and may be the single most impactful thing in business.

 

It’s hard to turn off being an entrepreneur, and I have long tended to be available days, nights, weekends, anytime. I answered emails, I jumped on calls, I said yes to every “hey, can you edit this super quick?” questions that came my way. I had to learn to turn it off, disconnect, and spend time with my family and a good book.

 

I don’t need to be constantly available. I am providing a service and high value to my clients, I am finally figuring out that I don’t need to sacrifice all of my time to my work and my clients. Yes, my clients’ needs are incredibly important to me. But so is my health and happiness and my family and home life. Finding that balance has been a difficult but necessary road in my life and business.

 

Since I am not available at 10pm on Saturdays anymore, I needed to be as productive as possible during my business hours and manage my time wisely, in order to get everything done! Managing time effectively does not mean just staying busy for the day, it means being productive and getting done the things that need to be done, not just clicking around and checking email!

 

Here are some tips for time management that can help you really have a productive day that allows you to get offline and enjoy life after work!

 

  1. Daily/Weekly To-Do Lists

This is something that has helped me immensely! I tried to get into bullet journaling, but I am not a pinterest-worthy bullet journaler and it didn’t stick. The thing that has stuck is the daily listing of to dos. Every day, I write a list of all the things I want to accomplish either today specifically or this week in general.

 

I don’t know about you, but checking things off of a list is super satisfying for me! I move to dos up from the day before if needed, and I star the things that MUST be done today. Deadlines are written next to the task if there are specific due dates.

 

By rewriting the list daily, I am cementing my tasks in my head and able to really prioritize what needs to be done first.

 

  1. Schedule in Some Down Time

At the office, people get lunch breaks, smoke breaks, walk around breaks, etc. You can’t expect yourself to focus for 8 hours nonstop every day, it just doesn’t happen and isn’t realistic. Instead of giving yourself unrealistic expectations and then being disappointed when you don’t meet them, make sure to give yourself some down time.

 

I start every day with coffee and checking Facebook. I check my email and my social media marketing as well, but I START with coffee, petting my cat, and Facebook before jumping into work.

 

Next, I write my daily todo list, and check my email. At lunch time, I generally log off the computer and eat while I read a book or have a one-sided conversation with my cat. In the afternoon, I might go take a walk, or go to the gym, or just get up and stretch.

 

Have priorities and tasks for each day, but allow yourself to walk around and read the news, and text your friend, too.

 

  1. When Working, Block Out Distractions

Like the down time, schedule work time. Use a calendar or an alert or whatever gets you ready to work, to let you know it’s time to do this task or that activity or call that person. When it’s time to get down to business, do the task. Close out your social media tabs, and focus on the specific activity you need to complete.

 

In my case, I have several clients that I do weekly blogging for. That means on Mondays and Tuesdays, I have to block out time to work on specific client blogs. I will do something like “10 am: Research and write blog for X client on topic Y.” When that time comes around, I turn off Facebook, put my phone face down, and write the blog for my client, edit it, and turn it in. If it take 45 minutes, great. If it takes an hour and a half, great. As long as it gets done. And work gets done faster when uninterrupted and when I’m not allowing my mind to wander to instagram or texting my mom.

 

I also find that when work gets done faster, I feel better about it than when it takes hours or days because I just can’t focus on it. My clients are happy, I’m happy, it’s awesome.

 

  1. Stay Organized

This fits right into my to do lists. Staying organized saves me time and energy, and most importantly, keeps my client information and needs at the forefront. As a solo practitioner, if I lose track of a client or forget to do something for them, I risk losing some of my income! Keeping contracts, invoices, tasks, priorities, client needs, and my work organized is one of the biggest parts of my success.

 

  1. Learn to Say No

This has been one of the hardest things for me to learn and is something I still struggle with and work on. I want to be indispensable to my clients, and also prove my value over and over, so I tend to say yes to anything they ask of me.

 

This can lead me to being overwhelmed with work if I didn’t really have the time for whatever I said yes to. I could miss deadlines or be overworked, or be working until late at night, like I did when I was working two jobs.

 

I love writing and editing and being an entrepreneur, but I can’t be everything to everyone. I am still working on saying no when I don’t have time for something or if it is not part of the scope of my work or what I’m paid to do.

 

Side Tip: Don’t Ever Work For Free

Especially say no to doing work for free! Even a trial article for a new client is paid work, though often at a discounted rate. Do not give away your work for free. You are a professional, and your time and skills are valuable. Obviously an exception to this rule is when you are purposely doing something as a volunteer!
In the end, I have to protect my time and keep my work from completely overrunning my home life. In order to be a good wife, daughter, friend, and individual, these time management skills have been important in my personal and professional development and evolution.

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Why Can’t I Just Write My Own Website?

Copywriting

There are different types of copy and content out there. In a world where we can measure everything, where every ad has analytics and every website has conversion rates, where even success has metrics, you need to have strong copy to stand out, break out, and succeed.

There are types of copy for every format and instance, including straightforward, storytelling, conversational, imaginative, long and short form, creative marketing, Direct-from-CEO copy, starting with warts copy, superlative (sometimes clickbait) copy, and velvet rope copy. There are more, but that is a good list to start.

Each different types of copy is saying the same general thing in its own way. The goal is always to sell. Sell your product or service, your business, or yourself. But how you get there must include one or more of the different types of copy.

How do you attract new customers? How do you get someone to convert to a client from a prospect? Remember, ads are copy, your website is already covered in copy. The marketing emails you send to your clients are copy, as are your social media posts.

Great copywriting is an art and a science. Yes, having the words and the ability to persuade or compel people is certainly important, but the way you say things and the way you frame your business are equally important.

Strong headlines are 80% of great copy. Draw people in, and make them want to know more! Great copy will get you more sales, more money, more followers, and more credibility.

SEO is incredibly important in your copy. You need to be able to be easily searchable and easily found. Most people don’t click to the second page of their Google search, so your page needs to come up sooner.

How do you get all of these things? You use someone like me. An experienced writer who understands the customers and understands your products and services, and has a strong background in sales and marketing. Someone who understands the power of a great headline and loves a beautiful turn of phrase. Someone who brings incredible value to your company and your website by bringing your company to the people.

Every business needs copy.

The most successful businesses understand the importance of great copy and hire the experts that will deliver their messages in the best way possible, to the widest audiences. A strong message and brand, is extremely important.

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First

JS

Hello! I am proud and excited to have started my own business, to be chasing my dream of being a writer for a living. I am excited, terrified, and freefalling into this newest adventure.

 

Who am I?

Well, I am the youngest of 5 kids, including step-siblings, and the only girl. Yes, I have 4 older brothers. I had a very fun childhood, which involved a lot of playing outside, climbing trees, reading in the sunshine, rollerblading, baseball in the cul-de-sac, and being beat up on by big brothers. I was protected, teased, a little sheltered, and happy. Thank goodness I eventually got a big sister when the oldest brother got married. She is the best, and they made me an aunt, one of the best titles I’ve ever had.

I left home for college and never went back to live in that smaller suburban Florida town. My parents, a couple brothers, and my best friend in the world are still there, and I do visit now and then. I did my Bachelor’s degree, and at 20 years old, I graduated and then fell into a sales job at a publishing company.

After the worst of the recession passed, I moved to the big city in 2010. New York City was not an easy place to live, not at first. It was lonely and I was broke as a joke, and not sure that I would make it here. But later that same year, I met the man who later became my husband, and luckily his whole friend group adopted me.

I am now thoroughly a Brooklynite. I love Brooklyn and we are living in our co-op happily with our fat, fluffy kitty named after the singer of our shared favorite band (it’s the Offspring, duh)! We both work in the city. Me, still in sales, him in a tech startup. We could so easily be the hipsters you’re imagining, but we aren’t. We’re nerds who read the book and then see the movie and debate it, board and card game players who argue the merits of Dominion vs. Ascension or play a rousing game of Settlers of Catan on a Saturday night. We live in a very Russian and orthodox Jewish area, and are neither of those things. We’re redditors and imgurians, and we take a lot of pictures of our cat. We go ice skating every December, and every year he forgets that even though I’m from Florida, I know how to skate really fast.

 

I have always been a writer. I have journals from as young as 4, and I have written poems and song lyrics for so long that I literally can’t remember not writing them. Sometimes I accidentally think in A-B-C-B format. I find Shakespeare tedious, but read sci-fi like it’s going out of style. I have 2 partially finished novels. One is a really interesting dystopian future novel with a twist, and the other is a self-help book about getting, keeping, and projecting confidence in part of your life. I read a whole book every other day or so, and my Kindle Paperwhite is my favorite thing ever. I used to have the second generation Kindle and refused to upgrade, but my husband kept insisting I needed a better newer one and bought it for me for Hanukkah. I got him stock in Nintendo that year for Christmas.

I write stories and dream vividly. I have been maintained a personal blog for 5 and a half years with everything from How To posts, fun facts, rants, silly poems, political posts, research-based posts, recipes I created, things I find funny, and more.

I woke up at 30 and realized I was 10 years into a sales career. I like sales, and I’m good at it; I’ve been successful in my sales and marketing career, and I appreciate where it has afforded me to go.

But I needed more. I am a creative type. I sing. And I don’t mean I just sing in the shower. I sang competitively when I was younger, and also did private lessons, chorus, ensemble, musical theater, and was the only alto from my county to go to state level competition one year. I SING. I write music, I have recorded songs that I’ve written, I sing at my desk, when I’m walking to the train, and as loud as I can in the car. I write, I sing, I even played violin for 7 years! Blogging was a good way to get some creativity out, but I have so much in me, and the blog didn’t provide enough of an outlet.

I branched out into contributing articles here and there to other websites, gaining exposure and putting myself further out there. I kept doing that, adding my biggest fish, Huffington Post, to my roster.

I just finally realized that the worst that could happen is that I got to keep my blog and my writing and the sites I already wrote for, so I put up a small ad, I reached out to a few contacts, and I put some feelers out. Within 48 hours I had 4 paying clients, and interesting diverse writing projects. Copywriting, content creations, marketing and sales emails, even doing a Google ad campaign!

 

Of course it’s scary when you try something new and put yourself out there. But being scared is a terrible excuse to quit. If being scared was a valid excuse, we would have no innovation, no revolution, and no skydiving.

 

I am a writer. I am a rollercoaster-riding, skydiving, cat-owning, singing weirdo who writes. And I am so happy and proud to be able to do it for others, and to someday (soon!) make it my full time occupation.

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