Category Archives: The Lighter Side of Communcations

Your Business Personality: Rediscovering Your Small Business Passion

BooHoo[1] A great deal of information is written about choosing the right business, knowing your passion, developing the right business plan–before jumping feet first into starting up.

But how do you know you are going to be fulfilled, motivated and passionate–wahoo!– about all the activities of a business before you actually do it.  I sure didn’t.

The Evolutionary Business Plan
As I  developed my small business, I  found my “self” developing.  So, I  allowed my business plan to remain very much alive,  to evolve as I began to better understand my own small business personality. If I had not followed this plan of action, I would have considered myself a failure and dropped into that 70%.  Here’s what happened.

Uh, oh. The thrill is gone
You see, I had begun as an excited freelance writer, yet came to dread the  time I spent alone with my computer–with myself, with my phone, with the laundry. Which led to thoughts of Failure. Incompetence. Self-doubt.

Uh oh.  My Passion took a big nosedive. Now what? Send out resumes?

The Darwinian business plan to the rescue
Rather than quitting, I  added coaching services. These services provide the interaction I need to keep me motivated. And I was good at coaching. I immediately received great feedback! Passion reignited. Laundry ignored. I’m planning workshops based on the feedback I’m receiving and I also plan to teach.

It’s alive, just like you
 My lesson learned:  view your business as a living entity. And you will gently get to know yourself. And keep your passion alive.

Step Away From the Computer: The Best Kept Secret to Great Content Writing

Lessons I Couldn’t Learn Online

“Give up!” begged my hands. “You have googled,” they moaned. “You have bookmarked,” they barked.  “One of us has tendinitis!”

“Look hands,” I answered.  “I ‘m learning ‘how to write social media,’ so I’m studying posts on ‘how to write social media.’”

But my hands were right. I realized I wasn’t learning much. My posts weren’t bad. But compelling?  Not even close.

Throwing convention to the wind, I unplugged. I ignored the internet. I went out and bought a real notebook– one with paper. I registered for a Social Media Writing class at UC Berkeley Extension that (gasp) met in a classroom.

Why I learned in class

What was I missing online? The following lessons:

1. A compelling blog post is first, a well-written blog post. Craft comes first. Readers know the difference.

2. There is no better place to learn to write well than in a class of writers.  With my work splashed across the screen for weekly discussions, my motivation to edit jumped a notch–or three.

3. A well-thought out writing process is as important for creating social media content as it is for other written work. An instructor well-versed in the form can provide clear guidelines.

4. Feedback and class discussion are far more educational than pages of internet flotsam.

How to Improve Your Content Writing:
Tips courtesy of my real-life classmates:

  • Build a structured framework; add elegant content: Create a clear path through your content with structure: headlines, subheads, and lists.  Add text with flair. Edit concisely.
    Ciana– topic, brand development
  • Produce passionate pieces: Convey enthusiasm—it’s contagious. You will create a voice that persuades your audience. David– topic, internet safety
  • Hone your writing craft:  Want to be taken seriously? Write well. Professionals seek advice from other professionals. Work on mastering the language. Laurel– topic, microbusiness
  • Use a personal point-of-view: Don’t hide who you are. Your unique point-of-view breathes life into your content. People do business with people they like; readers read authors they want to know. Catherine—topic, travel photo app
  • Look close-to-home for topics: Readers relate to concrete examples. Personalize the abstract with close-to-home examples.  For example, are you writing about going “green?” Place the sustainability issue directly in the hands of your readers.  Suggest they hold– and consider– the destination of a Starbucks disposable cup.  Kathrin–topic, sustainability
  • Don’t be an expert: Not a topic expert? No problem. Just let your readers know your stance.If you are undergoing a career change or learning a new skill, write as you learn. Your readers will appreciate a jargon-free take on a well-worn topic. Judy–topic,  real estate
  • Experiment for results: Work smart not hard. Don’t be afraid to try different approaches for FB, Twitter and your blog. Then measure audience feedback. To save time and effort, multipurpose content. A press release can become a blog which can become a great Tweet, and so forth. John–topic, coupon website
  • Make them laugh:  Not everyone can be funny, and not everyone should try. But if you can write humorous content, your readers will remember and return for more.
    Daniel–topic, music

Do you think social media writers should excel at the writer’s craft?

How do you gauge the effectiveness of a social media writer?

What I Learned About Communication From a Three Legged Dog

At the park, I watched a three-legged dog lurch full-speed after a tossed ball. Was he worrying about that lost leg? Nope!

What was his secret?

We were both in the park soaking up the sun—well, he was soaking it up, I was covered in sunscreen.  But this dog was breathtakingly alive in the present.  I was ignoring the beauty around me, busy talking myself out of a beautiful day worrying about family and business stuff. He was sniffing the wind, readying ready for the chase. I was mulling over problems.

Could I learn something here about communications? Yes, say the experts.

Communication is not just about sending others messages. It’s about clear communication with yourself.

Here’s how:

  • Be aware of your self-talk: Studies show we mentally loop negative thoughts without knowing it. What you are saying to yourself–at this very moment? Are you telling yourself you are worried or unhappy? Try changing the thought.
  • Notice your communication with your  body: Are you warm, cold? Comfortable? A comfortable body is a less-stressed body.
  • Stay aware of your emotions: Play name that feeling. Are you happy, distracted?  Negative emotions can be interrupted by simply moving around the room. Or laughing. Try watching a funny movie. Or calling a funny friend. Better yet take a funny friend to a funny movie. Hanging out with people helps.
  • Tell yourself to chase your ball. The dog loves to chase balls on three legs–or four. Name three simple actions that make you happy. Now go do one today. It’s tough to be happy and miserable at the same time.

Take a few minutes today to speak kindly to yourself.