The Answer Was Staring Right At Me and Yet I Couldn’t See It

walking through the fogIt was another foggy day.

A dingy, dense, and dreary encounter.

I couldn’t see a thing.

The absence of clarity can be pretty frightening.

Just the scary thought of placing one foot in front of the other brought on a paralyzing phobia – the fear of being stranded; stuck; suspended in time.

I don’t fare well in dark places. I lose my grip on sensibility, my systems shut down, and I shiver like a lost child in the night.

And there I stood … in the foggiest of fogs.

Oh, before I go on …

Did you think I was talking about the weather?

My sincerest apologies.

The weather’s grand in my little corner of the world these days. Beautiful clear skies with lots of warm spring-y sunshine, delighting the vegetable garden and flowers.

I was lamenting writer’s block – a syndrome that creates the thickest kind of stifling fog!

Back to that day …

Staring at a blank page for what felt like eons, my brain fogged up and my eyes fogged over.

Hell! I had fog clogging my veins!

There’s nothing like having a writing assignment due in a matter of hours with not one syllable on the page.

A migraine headache would have been far less debilitating.

Just for the record … Quick-witted, I’m not.

And I don’t believe in forcing creativity. You may as well try pushing a hippo uphill – with one hand tied behind your back and the other in a cast.

Then an idea rolled in like thunder and struck like lightning! (Bet that happens to you sometimes.) You know. Those ideas that always show up late to the party – fashionably late, that is.

My foggy brain managed to recall a short “visual observation” exercise (a fellow blogger shared with me some years ago) that gets your creative writing wheels spinning.

It’s all about turning what you observe into teachable moments – little golden nuggets to share with your readership.

Here’s the quick gist:

1.)  Spend ten minutes looking around your immediate surroundings.

2.)  Find objects/knick-knacks/things/stuff/trinkets that represent a concept/lesson/philosophy.

3.)  Show the comparison and share the lesson.

So ten minutes later, here’s what I found — along with the *teachable moments I created from the silly odds & ends on my desk:

Large hand-painted ceramic mug, overflowing with pencils, pens, markers, and highlighters.  I don’t use or need half of these writing implements.

*Teachable moment: Clean up your act, get organized, and de-clutter your office space for better concentration and less distraction.

Intricately designed wrought iron napkin holder, used to hold my mail and other paperwork.

*Teachable moment: Recycle or repurpose your blog posts, articles, podcasts, teleseminars, videos, webinars, etc., into info products or programs you can sell.

Hat box, imprinted with beach-y scenes of serene and exotic travel destinations.  I keep business cards, postage stamps, calculator, paper clips, greeting cards, etc., in this box.

*Teachable moment: Rest and relaxation, a much needed break from your workspace, or even a formal vacation is essential for your well being and, hence, your success as a solopreneur.

The means for lifting the fog of writer’s block was sitting on my desk, staring me in the face. Who knew?!

Here’s The Thing About Personal Drama And Trauma On Your Business Blog

vintage woman at typewriter I'm blogging thisIn short, it’s a mistake.

I feel your pain.  I’ve also grieved the loss of a beloved pet.  But may I ask what the death of your parakeet has to do with XYZ? 

You know, the social media marketing methods I came here to read about.

Your sister is expecting triplets?! I gave birth to twin girls twenty-two years ago and I’m still trying to recover.  I could probably give your sister a few good pointers.  But may I ask what this glorious piece of news has to do with XYZ?

You know, the healthy low-fat recipes your blog promises to share. 

I fully understand what it’s like to end a long term relationship.  It’s crappy and crummy and sends you on a depressing trip to Shitsville!  But may I ask what your break-up has to do with XYZ? 

You know, the public speaking niche your blog was designed around.

Happy birthday and congratulations on your new car!  I drive a Honda and I love it.  Good choice.  But may I ask what your new ride has to do with XYZ? 

You know, the self-publishing tips noted in your blog’s tagline.

Have I convinced you yet?

It’s rarely a good idea to share personal issues on your business blog. The last thing you want to do is confuse new visitors, subscribers, or your loyal readership.  Many are already confused enough.

The exceptions to the rule (just so I don’t have people throwing rotten tomatoes at me or inciting a riot):

1.)  If you’ve made it CLEAR you’re going to write a combination of personal and business-related posts, go for it.  But be sure that announcement resembles neon-sign advertising. 

Do whatever you need to do to ensure people landing on your site know what to expect.  Otherwise, run the risk of criticism and folks who won’t return for more mixed bag content.

2.)  IF you can tie a personal story or happening to something biz-related, that’s A-Okay.  For example, if writing about your Aunt Emma’s cranky disposition ties into the professional services you offer, feel free to write about her and work to show the connection.

Times when personal stories work best on your biz blog:

If you’ve purchased an info product or a course you love, worked successfully with a business coach, received an invitation to speak at a networking event, or helped a client reach his/her goals, then by all means, share your personal stories, accolades, and victories. (Oh, and the not so fun biz stuff, too.)

But please don’t confuse or annoy your audience (or gross them out, attempt to draw them into your personal drama, air your dirty laundry, engage in public arguments, or pull skeletons from your family’s closet). 

Play it safe (and smart) and stick to writing about what your blog promises to deliver. 

Give the people what they came for and they’ll come back for more.

Hemorrhoids can be very uncomfortable.  I’m sorry you can’t seem to find any relief.  But may I ask what your bottom’s misery has to do with XYZ?

I’m confused.  And I’m starting to feel rather uncomfortable myself.  Unlike your hemorrhoids, I’m gone for good!

Image credit *********************************************************************** Wait, you HAVE a website for your business, right?! For businesses of all sizes and stripes, an online presence is a powerful marketing tool. But simply tacking a site on to your otherwise bullet-proof biz plan isn’t all there is to it. Our roundup of small business bloggers tackle the best ways to screw up your business by screwing up your website.

Straight A’s And Not A Snowball’s Chance In Hell Of Making the A-List Online

Please play along with me. 

I promise it will be relatively painless.

I’m holding up a large flashcard that reads:

“A-List Bloggers”

Quick!!  Say the first name that comes to mind!

Oh, darn. 

It wasn’t ME, was it?

That’s okay.  I love you anyway. 

You’re here and you’re reading this.  That’s what matters to me.

Not sure I want to rub elbows with the A-Listers.  Whaaaa ??!!  That’s right. 

Know why?

It’s not because I lack confidence or creativity.  I’ve got plenty of both.  I’m bright, capable, and loaded for bear when it comes to great ideas and worthwhile messages to share.

It’s because …

Some of the A-List bloggers, online marketers, copy writers, coaches, consultants, etc., are truly awesome professionals BUT some are … well … in my book, not so awesome. 

Better stated, not so honorable. (If you’ve been online for longer than a day, I’m sure you know what I mean.)  I’ve witnessed my fair share of hypocrisy and I don’t care to invest another ounce of energy in that type of culture.

Let’s just say not all the folks sitting on the revered A-List are my cup of tea.

I much prefer to wrap my brain and my heart around Slow Marketing.

Do you remember the “Honor Roll” in school?

Now there’s a list I WANTED to make.  And it wasn’t exactly easy to earn that honor, either. 

But earn it, I did!  Many. Times. Over.

I put my nose in my textbooks, sacrificed a lot of weekend socializing, and burned the midnight oil to earn those straight A’s on my report card. 

I was exceedingly proud to have my name appear on the Honor Roll with all the other Butt Busters!

Making that particular A-List meant something.  It meant the kind of recognition that had a mound of respect attached.

And along with that respect …

Came the expectation of stellar, commendable behaviors and little incidentals like … uh … scruples.

Note to all you coveted A-Listers out there:

Some of you are doin’ it right and hittin’ the mark. 

You’re producing outrageously valuable content, collaborating with the little-known internet stars, and putting your (very) best foot forward to help others succeed. 

And you’re doing it with … drum roll, please … integrity!

Please don’t ever be swayed to shift to the other side.  Please.

And the rest of you on that list?

I don’t believe I saw your names on the Honor Roll.

Image Credit

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This post is part of the October Word Carnival; a monthly group blogging event specifically for small business owners.

It’s the most fun you’ll have all month!

Check out the rest of the fabulous Carney work here: Word Carnivals

Marketing Part 1: I Want to Promote My Talent Online. Where Do I Start?

As I always say …

“Begin at the beginning.” 

(They don’t call me “logical” for nothing)  :)

But before I dive in, I’m going on the premise you know exactly “who” you’re marketing to. 

You’ve defined your target audience, right? 

What!  Some of you haven’t done that yet?  Uh, oh.  Look for some tips in Part 2 of this series. 

Today let’s stick to the subject of marketing.

Start by determining the online marketing method/s and platforms you ENJOY most. 

Which of the following statements resonate with you?

  • I love being in front of the camera
  • Hanging out on Twitter is really cool.
  • Blogging makes me happy.
  • I’m proud to say I can put together an e-course in no time flat.
  • Article writing is simple and fun.
  • Teleseminars are my comfort zone.
  • Creating a press release is a piece of cake.
  • Podcasting is awesome.
  • LinkedIn groups are the greatest way to network.
  • Making a Squidoo lens is a cinch.
  • I totally enjoy being interviewed.
  • Answering questions on Quora is the perfect opportunity to showcase my expertise.
  • Joint ventures can’t be beat.
  • I can write an e-book effortlessly.
  • Slideshare presentations let my creativeness shine through.
  • I’m hooked on Pinterest.
  • The microphone is my friend.
  • My day isn’t complete without a visit to Facebook.
  • Webinars are my idea of how to have a good time.
  • I’m the Prince/Princess of Power Point presentations.

Look for a “common denominator” in the statements you’ve chosen.  That link is a BIG CLUE that will instantly and clearly reveal where you should be focusing your marketing efforts.

One of these four online marketing methods will be the RIGHT one for you:

1.)  Writing

2.)  Speaking

3.)  Video production

4.)  Social Networking

If you get out of bed every morning feeling totally motivated and eager to work on marketing your talent online, then you’ll know you’re traveling down avenues that will lead to success.  Stick to it!

But if you awaken uninspired to tackle marketing for the day or, worse yet, dreading your online marketing tasks …

STOP doing what you hate and start doing what you love.  Letting your target audience in on your talent shouldn’t be painful.  It should be enjoyable.

Comment Box Call to Action:

Share an online marketing method or platform you’ve tried that didn’t give you the results you were looking for.  Why do you think it didn’t work?  

Getting Back On My Blogging Feet Again

Absent from the blogosphere
For so long
Right now I’m feeling as if
I don’t belong

A major crisis fork in the road
Compelled me to follow along
I veered away from blogging
Something in life went wrong

Haven’t blogged in months
Though I wrote a couple songs
My blogging legs are weak
But my lyrics legs are strong

Been far away from my blog
And I trust it won’t be long
Till once again I feel as if
My blog is where I belong

An extra special thanks to my readers who’ve patiently waited for me to start dancing around the blogosphere again.  I appreciate you!

I Have That Face

I have that face.  No, really.  I do.

 

You know, that you-look-like-my-cousin face that compels complete strangers to strike up impromptu conversations with me as well as ask for special favors.

I can’t tell you how many times I’ve been in the grocery store, for example, and find myself being asked questions like, “Which aisle is the mustard on?”  Or “Where’s the toilet paper?” 

I must have that face that says I have the entire store’s inventory memorized.

There are times I’ve been out walking my dogs and a car pulls up along the curb, the driver rolls down the passenger window, leans over and says, “Can you please tell me how to get to the 210 Freeway from here?” 

I must have that face that says I know all the side streets and highways in Southern California and can direct people to wherever they need to go.

It never fails. I can be in line at the bank, along with eight other people, and the fifth person behind me will take one look at my face and ask to borrow a pen (The pens on the bank counters rarely work. Seems to me a bank, of all institutions, could afford a couple of new pens, but what do I know?) 

I must have that face that says my handbag is equipped with stationery supplies and plenty to go around.

Here’s a good one.  I’ve had strangers ask me for quarters for the parking meter. 

I must have that face that says I don’t mind giving money to anyone who asks.

I don’t get it.  Why me?

It must be a “quirk”.

This “quirkiness” I have carries over into the world of online marketing, social networking, and blogging.

I believe my greatest strength is in relationship building – the most essential factor in building success online.  My interpersonal skills are where I shine. 

Only online …

No one asks me for driving directions, quarters for the parking meter, a pen, or where to find the toilet paper!

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This post is part of the May Word Carnival — a monthly group blogging event specifically for small business owners.  It’s the most fun you’ll have all month!  Check out the rest of the fabulous carney work here