5 tips to help break through creative blocks

In the past couple of weeks, I have been presented with people who don’t know what to write, don’t know how to get ideas, or haven’t written anything in some time because they just haven’t been inspired. Whilst I understand this feeling and have also waited for the spark of creativity, I also believe that turning up to work is the best way to be inspired. As a professional writer, I have to turn up and write every day, even when I don’t feel like it. So here are some tips, collected from writing groups and business groups, to help when you’re just not in the mood. Read more »

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Social Media made Simple part 3 – LinkedIn

In part 1 I wrote about scheduling your posts and finding time to create posts. In the second article I showed you how overwhelming it can be with all the social media channels and how starting with just two –Facebook and Instagram is a good idea.

Now you’ve got your head around these two channels let’s have a look at the professional’s social media- LinkedIn

Launched in 2003, born from people from SocialNet and Paypal, growth was slow to begin with. It now boasts over 467 million users. 2 new members join every second and 40% of those users check LinkedIn every day. That is a lot of people power right there. Read more »

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Social Media made Simple part 2- What channels are the right ones for me?

There is a lot of Social Media out there and a lot of noise about Social Media too. The number of guides to using all of the Social Media for your marketing, to make money, to meet your soul mate, it is incredible. And yes, I realise the irony of saying that and writing this, a guide to simple social media. So when you, and your business, decide they’re going to hop on this crazy train of Social Media, which carriage do you get on? How many channels do you use? Which one is right for you?

Asking the question- how many Social Media Channels are there, is like asking how many hairs on a cat. There are enough hairs on the cat to both keep it warm and to shed upon all your black business suits. There is a Social Media Channel out there to suit anyone and anything. Goodreads for writers and readers; Academia.edu, social media for Academics. Biip.no is a Norwegian Social Media Community. And while I tell my students to never reference Wikipedia for their assignments, in this case, if you want to see how many different social media channels there are, then look at this Wikipedia page- https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_social_networking_websites.

So yes, there are a lot of channels. The next question is- what is each channel good at? Tricky question. Is Facebook better for business than LinkedIn? Can you talk to more people on Twitter than Snapchat? Should I do visual on Pinterest or Instagram?

Unfortunately, it is a difficult question to answer. Not what you wanted to hear, I know, however, to keep this simple, to keep Social Media simple for you, forget this question and move to question 3- which channel suits me?

I strongly suggest starting off slow with your Social Media. Of course, before all of this you have made a plan, right? Do you have a marketing plan? Have you used the SMART method:

  • Specific
  • Measurable
  • Achievable
  • Realistic
  • Timely

If not, take a moment and do this.

Next, what kind of business do you have? One which helps a lot of people solve problems? One which lends itself to visual promotion? A service for professionals, or a product for stay-at-home parents?

Start with one Social Media channel, one which feels most comfortable for you. I would say start with Facebook purely because of the ability to have a Facebook Page and to get involved with some very specific Facebook Groups.

Tips for using Facebook:

  • Get involved in 2 or 3 Facebook groups related to your business, service or product. DON’T SELL.
  • Begin a content plan and scheduling for your Facebook page.
  • Understand the difference between your PROFILE and your PAGE, and what communication is right for each of them.
  • Start promoting posts, start some Facebook ads. $5 a day.
  • Check your page analytics and your Facebook ad analytics to understand where your audiences are coming from.

Once you have a handle on Facebook, it is time to bring on board your next Social Media Channel. It has to match your brand and your language, mesh with your first Social Media Channel.

Let’s look at Instagram. This is a powerful VISUAL Social Media Channel. Facebook own Instagram, which is good. You can link your Instagram account to your Facebook page, so a post on one channel automatically feeds the other. This saves you time.

What do you post on Instagram? And how? Firstly, it is a mobile app, so you will be doing most of your work with your smartphone or tablet. Take a photo of what you’re doing, or where you are doing it. It is good to let people SEE who and what you are doing.

Secondly, being Instagram, it uses Hashtags. Find some hashtags for you, and my advice- never use more than four or five hashtags per post. It tends to look messy and unprofessional.

If you need help with hashtags, try here- http://kimgarst.com/how-to-find-great-hashtags-to-market-your-business , or here- http://hashtagify.me/ or here àhttp://mashable.com/2013/10/08/what-is-hashtag/.


Some more tips for Instagram:

  • Be sparing with the filters. Instagram has a lot of toys, but overdoing it will ruin your post.
  • Don’t sell all the time. Use the 80/20 rule in regards to this.
  • Post interesting things, relatable things.
  • Engage in conversations. If you get some followers, comment and @-tag them to get their attention.
  • But don’t sell to them. Lead them to your website.
  • Learn all the functions of good Instagramming- stories, films etc.
  • Investigate apps which enhance your Instagram experience
    • Gramblr for your computer
    • Layout for your phone or tablet
  • Post a few times a week.
  • Follow influencers in your community or professional space.
  • And have fun with it. Keep it simple and keep it fun.

Now you’re on 2 Social Media channels. I can hear you thinking- but what about LinkedIn? What about Twitter? What about Pinterest? Snapchat? This is an article about keeping it simple. Master these two Social Media Channels and you will be well on the way to a successful business. You can then venture into LinkedIn, which is a great platform to establish yourself as an expert amongst your peers.

I will write about LinkedIn and Pinterest and Snapchat in part 3 of keeping Social Media simple. If you’d like to read Part 1 of this series, please click HERE

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Blogging exercise- Cookies are Awesome

One of my roles is as a teacher to Business and Marketing Students at the Swinburne Institute of Technology. Today we were talking about blogs for their websites. The subject I am teaching them includes building a simple 3 page + Blog website in WordPress, and today was about website security and blogging.

I have introduced them to my blogging worksheet, which you can download HERE. They were slowly working their way through it, but there was a bit of a disconnect. They weren’t thinking like clients, which is what the worksheet if for. So, I challenged them to give me a topic to blog about. They gave me Cookies.

So, I filled in the worksheet with dot points, SEO words, and a call to action. I then did some research about cookies and biscuits and wrote the blog then and there in class. I saved the worksheet to the network drive and will have to collect that in a couple of days time to show you, but below is the resulting blog, written in class to show my students how to write a simple blog from the worksheet. Enjoy!

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Social Media Made Simple Part 1- Time and Schedules

Time to scheu

You can spend time in cafes doing your social media

Every business and their dog is on Social media, or so it seems. According to the Australian Sensis data , 48% of Small businesses use Social Media, an increase of 17% from the last check, and 79% of large businesses use Social Media.

It seems if you’re in business, you should be on Social Media.

I do Social Media, but you would be surprised how I do it. I am a writer, I wield the words. And it has been through curiosity and necessity that I now use Social Media for my own ends, and for those of my clients. I tell my clients that for me, Social Media Marketing begins with your website, and your blog. Have awesome content, and use Social Media to bring people from there, to your website. Read more »

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The Writer’s Journal

A writer’s journal helps me keep connected and focused on being a writer and all that entails

At the start of the year I began some self-examination of who I am and what I do. Not so much a New Years’ Revolution, but an assessment of 2016, what this year could be, and a look at some of the feelings I have around being a writer. One of the things I have picked up through this process is the Writer’s Journal. This is helping me focus on what I find important in writing, reminding me to be a writer, and keeping me aware of when I am falling back into the traps I set up for myself as a writer in the past year or two.

I am not a journaling kind of person. I don’t have piles of notebooks full of my innermost thoughts and feelings. I have been told time and again that I should, but it just isn’t me. Strange, considering that I like to write so much anyway.

During the first week of January when I was looking at ways to write, to consistently write, to BE a writer, one of the suggested items was a Writer’s Journal. This was not a journal where I pour out my feelings and thoughts and demons and stuff. This was a journal where I talk about myself as a writer. That might not sound like a huge distinction, but for me, I am okay being a writer, I am okay with telling people I am a writer, and all the trials and turmoils, highs and celebrations of being so. Hence, having a personal journal about being a writer was a little stretch, but still within my comfort zone. Or rather, it was just outside my comfort zone enough that if I got scared I could come back at any time. Read more »

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You need more than a free hour of your time to land clients

Getting new clients can be difficult. Competition is so tight that you need to find a way to give a new client something which shows them how awesome you are, but won’t cost too much for them. Classic Sales Funnel techniques, where you offer a little bit, and then a bit more, all the way to the bottom of the funnel where they get massive value for the biggest bang for their buck. It’s that first step into the funnel which you need to think about things.

I have heard many businesses offering a free one-hour consult, or a free catch up to see if what they offer is what you need. For me, I call this the ‘Free Measure and Quote’. It should not be seen as something magical and fantastic that you’re offering. This free consult? It should not be THE THING which gets a new client on board. You really need to be giving this free meeting as standard for anyone, and have something different, something unique to you, which grabs the attention of a potential new client.

So, if the ‘free measure and quote’ is going to be complimentary and a part of the standard sales funnel, what can you do to wow your new leads? Read more »

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Why Subscription is the best business model for you

Do you have a monthly subscription to a g ymHow many services have you subscribed to? A gym, Netflix, an online course, magazine or newspaper? The list goes on. How much d id you use that subscription when you first got it compared to now, after a few months, or years of having that subscription? How long have you ‘subscribed’ to your current internet provider, just paying the bills month after month for their service? How much money are you giving to service providers without much thought? This is why I love subscriptions.

I am a little cynical to subscriptions where you’re paying for something which is never changing, and is just the same.  Often you’re paying a lot of money to get the chance to use something, but it is up to you to use it. I often tell my students how I love the subscription model.

I ask my students who here has a gym subscription?

Hands go up. I then ask, who has not been to the gym in the past month. Some hands remain up. And yet you still pay for the subscription? “I’ve been busy” is often a response I get. And yes, fine, you’ve been busy. The gym doesn’t care. The gym still gets your money, and they’re quite happy with that. Read more »

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Self-sabotage – 3 ways you can help yourself to keep going

Every person I know has the potential to do awesome things. Every person you know has the same potential. It is not that difficult to do really good things, to create fantastic stuff for the world. The biggest thing standing in our way are ourselves. Self-sabotage is the biggest hurdle every creative person faces when it comes to creating good art. I am learning that the excuses are simply that- excuses, which should be ignored, put away, stomped on, and I just need to get on with it.

Let me set up my most magnificent example of self-sabotage. Back in 2012 I self-published my first novel – The Girl From Out of Town. A rollicking Steampunk adventure, featuring a Royal Refugee from another dimension, and a bored office worker from Accounts. Adventures, gun fights, swordplay, skyships and dragons! How awesome!

It is now 2017 and I am having to be threatened, pushed kicking and screaming, to work through the edits to try and get book 2 published by the end of March. A book whose first draft was finished at the beginning of 2014. And, Book 3? Only 2/3 of the way finished. Why am I not writing and publishing books! It is what I have told people I want to do! Read more »

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4 Reasons Why Hand Writing Your Plan is Best

Hand writing a Plan can give you a stronger emotional tie to your plan, much like a journal

If you want to succeed in life, in the big things in life, you need a plan. Easy enough to say, right? If you also want to succeed in the smallest things in life, having a plan is a good idea too. And I have discovered the best way to have a plan, to create a plan, is by writing it down, making it with your hands, and not a computer. Go old school, take your time, so you feel more invested in the plan.

I will be honest with you. I am not one for plans. I am not good at making them, and I am not good at using them. I know the process of creating a content plan for others, I even have a worksheet I make my clients fill in for me – http://www.matthewfarmer.com.au/linkedin-products/download-resources/. And yet, for me, I haven’t been able to plan things out. Why is this?

While I could say it has to do with the creative side of myself, the need to be spontaneous. However, looking harder at myself, there is this gap of confidence in what I do as a business. I don’t know how long I will be able to keep up the freelancing lifestyle. If I plan to do all these things, what happens if clients drop off? What was that famous quote? If you fail to plan, you plan to fail? Good old Benjamin Franklin And strangely enough, he is true, in a sense. While I am not failing, I am certainly not rocketing to the heights of success… yet. Read more »

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