Put Fun Back into Blogging
You guys have set some blogging goals. You're getting to know your ideal reader, if not know her already, and now we are going to put the fun back in blogging. So when I have been announcing that I was going to come here and teach this course, I cannot tell you how many emails I got that said I blogged for about three months and I stopped, or I blogged for about six months and then I just started not liking it so much. And so I don't want that to happen. I want you to be so excited about blogging that you look forward to it, that it's a part of your business that you think I love this part. And so we're gonna do just that now. "Try to pick a profession in which you enjoy even the most mundane, tedious parts. Then you will always be happy." This is a quote from Will Shortz, and I want you to think about setting up your blog so that you love even the most tedious parts. Now of course, there are parts of business and parts of blogging that you're just not gonna love. But if you set it up ...
so that most of it is something that you really enjoy and really like, you'll stick with it, and your readers will be able to tell. You know when you go to a blog and you read a couple of the posts, and you can tell this person is just posting because they think they're supposed to blog for their business, and you're not going back again because you're not interested. They're not excited, you're not excited. You don't want to create that. So what's your medium? How do you want to be blogging? What do you enjoy? What are you best at? This is in your workbook on page 14. So do you enjoy writing? Do you enjoy taking photos? Do you enjoy podcasting? Is that something that sounds interesting to you? Do you want to do videos? Or is it a combination of things that you think you would enjoy most? Lots of times it's a combination. But you want to know what you enjoy the most so that you can build your blog around that, and there are lots of options. Now what would your ideal reader like the most? So you also have to think about not only what am I gonna like the most, but what are they going to enjoy the most? And how can you combine what you would really enjoy the most with what your ideal customer would really enjoy the most? And there are always ways to combine this. People say to me, "Well, I want to do this, but I don't think my ideal reader will like it like this, and I don't know how to combine them." There are always ways to figure that out. For instance, I was working with somebody who has a blog and she really wanted to podcast, but her ideal reader is a busy mom. And she said busy moms aren't gonna listen to my podcast. I said if you market it correctly, they will. If you tell them that your 20 minute podcast is gonna make washing the dishes a lot more fun, and folding the laundry a lot more fun, and walking the dog and sitting at the school waiting to pick up your kid, then they are going to want to listen to your podcast. If you make it sound like something that they have to set aside time for, then of course they're gonna say I'm too busy, I can't make this happen. So there are always ways to figure it out, to make it so that what you really love is also something that your ideal reader is going to enjoy, and especially in the marketing. You will see as we go through this, words matter a lot. What you call things matters a lot, and how you describe them matters a lot. Make the process fun. So I often hear, "I want to reach this goal. I want to reach X, Y or Z." Okay, that's a great goal, but you've got to make the process to getting to that goal fun. So if your goal is I want 10,000 readers, that's an awesome goal to work towards. But how are you gonna make it fun in the meantime? Because if you're just pressing for that goal, I tell you, you're gonna get burnt out, you're going to give up. It's not gonna work long-term. You want to set this up so that you are having a good time. You need to enjoy the method as much as the outcome. So think back to the goals you set and how you want to feel when you're blogging. So how you want to feel when you're blogging, and then think about your medium. What is gonna make you feel that way? So I know for me I want to feel really focused, in the zone. I want to feel in that moment, and I know that that means writing for me. If I'm sitting at my laptop, if I've got the email closed, if I've got Twitter closed and Facebook closed, and I'm just writing, that's when I have the most fun. So I'm not thinking about the goal that I want to reach. I'm thinking about how I want to feel and how I can create that when I'm blogging on a regular basis. Start where you're at. Appreciate what you have. I can't tell you how many times I hear excuses. I can't blog because of X, Y, Z. I can't take photos because I don't have a DSLR. I can't take videos because I don't have a fancy video camera. I can't possibly podcast. I can't figure out how to do it. Well, you could just Google it. There are so many YouTube videos that will tell you exactly how to do it. A lot of these things we make way too complicated in our heads, so I want you to just start. I always hear I'm gonna start my blog in three months when I have this done, and this done, and this done, and this done and this done. And then three months becomes six months, and then nine months, and then a year. Or, I've got my blog, but I'm gonna start making videos next month when I get this. Start where you're at. Enjoy it. "Is your work so serious and flawless and urgent that each thing you do, every day, must work? Change is powerful, but change always comes with failure as its partner. 'This might not work' isn't merely something to be tolerated. It's something you should seek out." And this is a quote from Seth Godin in Poke the Box. And this to me rings so true. Some of us, we build up in our heads that we are like brain surgeons when we're blogging, and that every single thing has to go exactly right or else, or else the world is gonna fall apart and everything is gonna go to pieces. It's not true. You have to be open to failure. It allows you to lighten up, to not take yourself so seriously. If I took myself so seriously, I wouldn't put photos like this up here, right? And these are the type of photos that my audience love. When I put up these photos of me with my big red balloon, I got so many comments, I got so many emails saying, "Oh my gosh, I love these photos, they're amazing." I put them all over my website, and it's something that my ideal reader loves. But if I took myself too seriously or I was afraid that people were gonna judge me because I'm taking pictures with this ginormous red balloon, this would have never happened, and I was saying in my head this might not work. These pictures might not work. They may not, they may fall flat. It may not be the best thing I've ever done. But I took a chance. Those ideas that you think, hmm, this might not work are usually the ones you should try. Those are usually the ones you should go for 100%. Not only because it's kind of pushing yourself a little bit, but also because it shows you're vulnerable, and it's often something that your competitors aren't doing if you are thinking this might not work. So it's something new to your audience. It's something unique. The perfectionist mindset prevents playfulness and imaginative thinking. If you are thinking you have to be perfect, you're not gonna be playful. You're not gonna come up with really creative, out of the box, this is kinda silly, wacky, I don't know if it's gonna happen, ideas. And those are usually the best ones. Those are usually the best ones. And I know from experience there have been times for me where I have thought this might not work so I'm not gonna try it. It's gonna take me two days to do all of this work. It may not work, my audience may not love it, and I usually regret it every time. Or if I put something off because I think this might not work, and then I try it and then it's a huge success, I am sitting there thinking to myself why didn't I do this sooner? So have fun with things. Don't take it so seriously. Don't take your blog so seriously. What produces flow? "Flow, according to Csikszentmihalyi, is a state in which one is immersed in an experience that is rewarding in and of itself, a state in which we feel we are one with the experience, in which action and awareness are merged." And this is from the book, Happier, which is also a very awesome book. What produces flow for you? The activity can't be too hard or too easy, but it needs to provide a challenge. You need to push yourself about 4% past your current level of expertise to reach the state of flow, and we've all experienced it, right? You get into that wonderful, blissful state where the hours just fall away, and you're doing your best work. It's addictive, that state of flow, as many of you may know. It produces neurotransmitters and different things in your brain that combined you can't even get from doing drugs like cocaine. So what makes you feel flow? I want you to list everything that brings you into a state of flow, everything you can think of. Think about when you are having so much fun that you don't even realize that time has passed, that you look up and hours later, you're like what happened? And how can you incorporate more of that into your blog? Because more flow equals more happiness. For those of you who regularly experience flow, you know this to be true. You have such a good day. For me, when I have had a really good day of writing, where I have been in that state of flow all day, I am so happy and my husband, he gets home, he's like you must have had a good day, because I am just glowing, I am happy, I'm excited. He's like whatever you did today, do that tomorrow. Do that the next day, because I am in a great mood. And also that stuff is often very popular with my audience, as well. Because you do really good work when you're feeling flow. April, we have a quote here in the chat room that is really applicable to what you're speaking about, and this is from R. Hoften. And she says, "I'm so bad about the perfectionist mindset. I think that's where I struggle with getting my blog set up. I want it to be the perfect, so I can't start until everything is designed perfectly, laid out perfectly, with the perfect theme, the perfect font. I need to get past perfect. Done is better than perfect." Yes, done is better than perfect. That is exactly right. And we all get into that mindset, no matter if it's this piece of jewelry has to be perfect before I list it on Etsy, or my blog has to be perfect before I set it up, or this painting has to be perfect before I finish it. We all experience that, and I work with so many creatives who really get stuck because it's not exactly how they imagine it in their mind. Their blogs don't look exactly how they have it in their heads, and so they feel like they can't share it. I can't tell you how many times I've done consulting sessions where the person has said to me I've never shared the link of my blog because I just, I'm not proud of it yet, it's not there yet. The design isn't perfect yet. I only have five blog posts, or whatever it is, they get stuck in this state of it has to be perfect. So do you guys want to share with me just a little bit, maybe a couple of you, about what brings you into the state of flow? Who wants to share? Jennifer, you looked up at me. Why, thank you. You looked up. Right now I do mostly blog posts, written blog posts, and it takes me a long time to write a single post, and talk about perfection, I have a few posts that I haven't put out there, I haven't published just because I'm like this is not perfect. This is not going to work when I put it out there. So for me, being in the flow is I love, love, love making worksheets, so you'll find a lot of worksheets on my website. I really get involved in the process of organizing, making it look pretty, making it helpful for people. So I would like to start incorporating more worksheets, and then I would also say, this sounds a little crazy, but editing video. Like I can get lost in editing video, and I can actually get into perfectionism there too as well. But I want to start incorporating more video just because I really enjoy the act of just making something from, you know, either pictures, video, me talking, or what have you and adding text, and making it look really nice and creative. So I'm thinking video and doing more worksheets. So do you think that video would be easier for you as opposed to writing? That it would come more natural? I think so, I think so. I haven't done it so much, 'cause I feel like it's gonna take a lot more time, 'cause I have to think about exactly how I want to structure all of the different pieces, how I'm gonna pull it together. I might not necessarily have myself just talking all the time. I might just do a lot of text, or adding like little cartoons or pictures, or things like that. But I'm hoping that I do feel that it's going to come a lot easier for me than writing, yeah. Okay. Yeah. I have to give it a shot to check it out and see. I think you should also try some videos where you've got the topic and you just free-flow and talk, and just see how it goes. Yeah. And just see what you come up with, because it seems like that that might help you, even if you want to insert some things, but just trying that out a couple of times. Yeah, I think I haven't, yeah. That would be a good idea, because I'm always, again, I need to write a script, I need to follow the script, and that would scare me and that would push me past that kind of comfort level, and I definitely, yeah, I think I should try that out as well. Try doing it, even if you don't ever share it. Just to see. That's true. That's a good idea. Thank you. Does anybody else want to share what brings them into a state of flow? Well, April, you're putting them on the spot. We put the chatrooms on the spot. Want to hear from them? Yeah, put 'em on the spot. Yeah. All right, cool. Ellen Glimps says, "Going to a museum or just doodling opens up the floodgates of creativity," and Kris with a K says, "When I have conviction in what I'm doing, when I feel like the story I'm writing has a life of its own and wants out, it feels so flowy to see that happening on the screen, the words filling up that horribly scary white space." (laughs) It is scary. I know that always scares me, that white space. Right. I love to just cut and paste other text and then change it, so I don't have to look at the white space. (laughter) 'Cause it's so scary. Little trick for me, yeah. That's a good trick. Yeah. I like that. White space is intimidating. I like it. And maybe our students here have more to share, but we just wanted to let you know they're in the conversation online too. All right. Yeah. Does anybody else want to share before we move on? Sage? Yeah, I get into flow when I'm scrapbooking and making collages from all those magazine subscriptions that I have, and I've also noticed I get into the flow state faster when I write by hand rather than when I type on my laptop. That's a good one. It's good to know that stuff about yourself, yeah. All right. What are you deeply curious about? Go there. "Curiosity is the most important thing you own." "When I think of the wisest people I know, they share one defining trait: curiosity." The quote before was from James Cameron, and this one is from Dani Shapiro in the book Still Writing. Any writers out there, that is a wonderful book, Still Writing by Dani Shapiro. And this is true. I think about the most intelligent people I know, and they're so curious. They're always asking questions. They're always wondering about the details. So be curious, and the stuff that you're curious about is often really great ideas for blog posts, and being able to bring that into your blog. It shows some of your personality, but it's also the stuff that you're gonna really enjoy. So think about all of those things that make you very curious, and think about how you can incorporate them into your blog. For instance, for me, I get very curious about how people take certain photos, food photography in particular. And I look at the picture and I think, okay, what's the background? How did they have this set up? What's the angle of this? How could I recreate this? That's something that makes me very curious. That doesn't make a lot of other people curious, but it's one of the things for me that I really get into. And so I even have a Pinterest board that is food photography, and I'll go to it and look at it before I post recipe pictures, before I'm gonna take those pictures. It makes me better, but it's also something that makes me enjoy it even more. Don't fall into a rut. That becomes boring for you and for your readers. If you're feeling like, okay, I'm doing the same thing post after post after post. I need to switch things up, or this is just feeling boring. If it's feeling boring for you, it's also probably feeling boring for your readers. So don't fall into a rut. We all do this, because it gets easy, it gets simple. And so we start to just replicate what we're doing over and over again. But then we fall out of love with blogging, and our readers don't exactly enjoy it as much. So always challenge yourself. An example for me is this picture. I was getting bored with my photography, so I thought one weekend, I'm gonna set up a really fun photo shoot. I'm gonna do it outside. I'm gonna set up a table, and I'm gonna have a chair outside in the leaves. And I'm gonna get a cupcake and some roses, and then pull things that I already have, some ribbon and this antique looking box, and put it together and set up a photo shoot. And then I can use these photos in some of my blog posts. So I didn't set it up for a particular blog post in and of itself, but I use them on a pretty regular basis. And this was pushing me out of my comfort zone. I was trying to set up something in my head, a photo shoot in my head, which I didn't normally do. Now I do that all the time. I will think of, ooh, I really want this kind of photo, and I'll put this together. And this is a challenge for me. It took me an entire day for me to really plan it out, set it up, put things together, take all the shots, edit all the shots, and get them ready to be posted. So what's one thing you can do immediately to make blogging more challenging? This is page 20 in the workbook. What's one thing you can do immediately to make blogging more challenging? Is it editing your posts because you don't currently edit them? Is it improving your photography skills in some way? Is it learning how to use iMovie so that you can edit your videos a little bit better? And I know thinking challenging, that doesn't sound more fun, but actually, when you're just doing stuff that you already know, you fall into that rut and it becomes boring. And when you're constantly pushing yourself to do better, it does become more fun. It is a lot more fun. Does anybody want to share something that they can do immediately to make blogging more challenging for them? Well, we do have some bloggers that are actually just getting started, so they're saying it's already challenging. But maybe some of the more advanced, seasoned bloggers have an opinion. Sure, out there and here. Yeah, there's a comment here from Time Capsule, and this is just an example of one of the things that they do to make their blogging more challenging. So they say that they create Pinterest boards of your main topics that tie into the blog. So then when you need an idea, they go to the Pinterest board to see what they pinned, and what's popular based on what others have repinned, and that tells your audience what they will want to read most in your blog, so kinda having that as a resource to go to to kind of give you the challenging topics that you may not have thought of on your own. Yeah, kind of like an incubator, too, in a way. That's a good one. I like it. I like that, yes. I'd say a big challenge would be to post something every day, It doesn't have to be perfect. Just get something up. Yeah. Sort of a time challenge. Okay. Kinda like those fitness challenges, like the 30-day fitness challenge. Five minutes a day, you know? Those work. Yeah, actually Seth Godin does this, right? Didn't he start at one point with saying, you know, I'm just actually committing to putting something out there every single day, short, long. Sometimes it's one sentence. Right. Yeah, it's not about how much every day. It's just kinda keeping that chain together. Every day there's something to add to the chain. Yeah. Yeah. Another way to make blogging a little bit more fun is to think ahead. So this is what I do. I will scribble my next couple of topics on a Post-It, and stick it on my computer to keep them in mind so that I know what's coming up, and we're gonna talk about putting together a content calendar in a little while. But knowing what you're going to be posting about can help you think in fresh and new ways. I start Evernote categories, it's an application. It's really helpful for keeping things organized on the web. And every time I see something that might relate to that topic in some way, or I find a quote, or I see that another blogger has posted about that topic, and I want to read that post, and see what she has to say, I will put it in that Evernote category. And I try to keep my topics in mind when I'm consuming other things, like books or other blog posts, or podcasts, or videos, or magazines, or whatever it is. During that time I'm trying to keep in mind that blog topic so that if I have ideas that kind of relate to it, then I can bring them in. And I ask myself how can I apply this idea or thought to my topic? And I try to think outside of the box. And I do this, I've made this a pretty regular habit. It'll help you think about your topic in new ways, and give you different ideas on how to approach it. I'll give you a very specific example. We talked about flow just a little bit ago, and how to bring more of that into your blog. The reason I included that is because I listened to a podcast on the unmistakable creative, and Steven Kotler was talking about flow in his book that he had written. And he was talking about how flow makes you happy and how it makes it so that your neurotransmitters and all the little things in your brain are going on, and how you should try to bring more flow into your everyday life, and I thought, I'm gonna include that in this workshop. I'm going to say, because that makes a lot of sense. What makes you feel flow? Those are the things that you should include in your blogging to make it even more fun. So that piece wouldn't have been a part of this if I hadn't been in that mindset of thinking about how can I apply anything that I'm consuming towards this blog workshop? And I've been thinking about that for months. I've been in this mindset of how does this relate to blogging? And how could this make a blog even better, or more fun or more exciting? And I also do this with my posts. And it can help you come up with really creative ideas and examples, and it can also help you come up with resources that you could link to, so that people could get even more information. So let's talk about when you're feeling stuck or stagnant, and you're feeling like blah, not so great about blogging, and you want to make it more fun. One of the things that you can do is change locations. Sometimes just moving to a coffee shop or moving to Barnes & Noble, or wherever, out in the park, can make blogging more fun, getting out of your house, getting away from your desk, playing music. Some people absolutely cannot play music when they write. However, I love to listen to music while I write. I actually have this really kind of gloomy, sad playlist that my husband makes fun of when he comes home and he- He goes is that your writing music on again? And I'm like, yeah. He's like how can you write to that? But it just gets me in this mindset. It makes the writing process more enjoyable. All the songs sound practically the same, and so it doesn't take me out of the moment. But some people like to listen to really happy music or whatever it is. Light a candle. This can make blogging just seem a little more special, if you have a candle on your desk. Brew some tea or make an iced coffee. I like to blog with a cup of tea. It makes me feel extra special. It just makes it a little more enjoyable. If you're feeling stuck, take a walk, just a five-minute walk. Just get up, move your body, or turn on some music and dance. I will do that too. My neighbors probably think I'm crazy when I have my windows open and the music's blasting, and I'm just dancing around in my pajamas. Switch or experiment with a new medium. So this is something you can do if blogging is just feeling very blah, you know, if you are just, you're trying all of these different things, you have lit a little candle, you've got your tea. You're stilling feeling like I do not want to write. I can't make myself write. So try video instead, or to completely switch things up, and say you know what? For a little while I'm gonna do a podcast, and interview other people for my blog, because I just don't feel like coming up with new content. Decide what feels good in the moment. Allow room for change. You are constantly changing, especially as a creative. You grow, you learn new things, you get inspired by new stuff. Give yourself permission to move in different directions. This is, we've had questions come up about this already, about I feel like I need to move this way. Give yourself permission to do that. Because if you're enjoying it, everyone else will enjoy it too. If you are feeling completely stuck in what you're doing, and I've built this blog this way, and I feel like I have to do it this way, it's not gonna feel good to you. And this is a question that I get so often, well, how do I make that change? How do I go from writing to podcasting? What do I need to do? Often if I'm gonna make a change with my blog, I will post something about it. I'll say, hey, I'm switching things up a little bit. I'm gonna be changing from video to writing. In fact, I did this. I was making a video every single week on Wednesdays, and I decided, even though I was writing the scripts, I really enjoy the writing process. So I thought I'm gonna try and switch things up. I'm gonna go from videos every Wednesday, which my audience has been expecting, that they've been getting for a couple of years now, and I'm gonna change it to written posts. So the next week I wrote a post and the introduction was, hey, I'm switching things up, and I'm gonna be writing instead of making videos. This is why. I feel really good when I'm writing, and this is, I'm just trying this out to see how it works. I didn't get any, oh my gosh, I'm unfollowing your blog because you're not making videos anymore. I got a lot of encouragement. In fact, those written posts have become even more popular than some of my videos. Some people said, oh, I can tell that you love this, and I love it even more than the videos. So, is what you're saying April, that really your passion and your energy level kinda carries its way through to the end person, and they can kinda pick up on is there a lot of passion with this? Are they in it?
Absolutely. Yeah, okay. Yeah. Absolutely. Do you guys have any questions? Any questions coming in? Well, wait, we have always a ton of questions, but we'll let you keep going through this part. All right, this is not so fun, but I promise you getting hacked is not fun. So secure your site. Everybody, secure your site today, please. I have gotten hacked twice, so I know that it's not a fun time. What you need to do is back up your site regularly. Make sure you have some way that you're doing that in case you get hacked and you have to rebuild everything from scratch. It's there, you've got a backup. You don't have to panic. Can you explain a little bit more about what getting hacked means? Maybe some people don't really understand what getting hacked is. Sure. So if somebody somehow gets into your site and puts a virus in your site and things fall apart. So I'm not a technical expert, so I don't even know how these people do it, but they get into your sites, they plant viruses within it, and then people get virus alerts when they try to come to your blog, and they won't come to your blog. And then sometimes you can't even get in there to do anything about- It's a mess. Both times I've had to hire someone to fix the problem, because I'm not a technical expert and so I have had to pay someone to fix it both times, and it was well worth every single penny that I spent to get them to fix it. The first time was years ago, and I was not backing up my site regularly, and that was the worst mistake I've ever made. Now I do. Change your password every few months. This'll make it less likely that somebody is going to be able to get in there. Update your site when new updates are available. So let's say you're on WordPress and there's a new version of WordPress. Update it, or if your themes have an update, the theme that you're using for your blog, go ahead and update it. The plug-ins that you have, update them. Because the second time I got hacked was because my theme had an update and I hadn't updated yet. It was only a few days, and somebody got in there, hacked the site, put a virus on, and everything just fell apart. We got it back up in a couple of days, but it's just such a headache. It makes it such a pain. I feel you. My site got hacked too, and it also feels really personal, like someone just, like this is my blog. Like why did you do this to me? Yeah. And often it isn't a personal thing. It's like robots and, yeah. Yeah, it feels awful. Yeah. It's horrible. You can also install an anti-virus software on your computer and install some sort of security plug-in. So there are lots of different security plug-ins. If you're on WordPress you can install one to make it much more difficult for anybody to be able to hack your site. And if you do, contact your hosting service, and you may have to do more than that, but usually they can help you out. Just a really quick question. Creative Kimona wants to know how do you know when WordPress or Blogger has an update? Does it notify you? Yes, and I'm not sure how Blogger does, but in WordPress you can see, up at the top it'll say how many updates you need. And if you click on updates in the side bar, you'll see all the updates, and usually it's just a click, like click to update your theme, click to update WordPress, click to update these plug-ins. Usually it takes five seconds.