How to avoid overwhelm and stay focused in your business, Part II

Distraction sucks. You know and I know that it keeps us from a more productive work life, but it’s SO hard to fight! How do you choose focus consistently, when distraction is so easy?

Last time we talked about the two major things you need to have in place in order to focus effectively: clearly defined goals and a clearly defined “No” list. Based on those two things, you should have a clear idea of the specific actions you need to be focused on in order to make progress on the things that are important to you.

So last time was about choosing the work. Today is about doing the work. How do you stay focused in the moment-by-moment, day-by-day reality of getting things done?

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How to avoid overwhelm and stay focused in your business, Part 1

The internet is a noisy place, and if you’re anything like me, it’s easy to get distracted.

The problem is this: there are still a limited number of minutes and hours that you can actually dedicate each day to moving the ball forward and building your own little creative empire. The only way to make the most of the time you have is to FOCUS.

So for the next couple of posts, let’s walk through some ways that you can actually practice focus in your creative business. We’ll start with some big picture stuff today, and then next time we’ll talk tips and tricks for making the big picture happen.

Ready? Pour yourself a beverage, grab a pen and paper, put aside your phone for a second (little bonus focus tip for you right there), and let’s jump in!

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How to make an amazing content plan for your new website

For a lot of creatives who go through the process of building a new website, the exciting part is seeing the design come together and this bright, shiny, new website appear. The hard part is putting together the content that will fill that gorgeous website with valuable content – the kind that will convince curious readers to stick around and click around.

And yet, building a strong content plan is one of the most essential parts of your website design process. It’s much more than just the words that go on your about page. Your content plan will guide the way you decide to structure your website, the visuals you choose, and the way that you guide your visitors into taking the action that you want them to take.

It will also make it much easier for your designer to build a website that tightly integrates your content with the amazing visuals that they’re creating for you, so that you end up with a compelling and user-friendly experience for your readers.

But how should you actually create a content plan, and when in the process should you start? This post will walk you through it.

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How to start your new website project on the right foot (+ FREE template!)

What’s the very first thing you need to do when you get ready to hire a designer for a website design or re-design project?

A lot of people would say, Brainstorm potential designers or Approach web designers regarding their pricing and availability. But this is skipping one of the most important steps that will set you on your way to managing a strong web design project for your brand and business.

The first step you should be taking as you prepare to hire a designer is to build out an organized plan for the project that you can share with them before you decide to work together.

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3 tips for creating a strong, consistent brand voice

One of the more challenging elements of creating a brand that connects with your ideal audience is the development of your “brand voice” – the way of communicating with your audience that embodies the core qualities of your brand and sets you apart to your audience.

But what is a brand voice?

Think about it like this: in real life, you have a unique way of communicating with your friends, family and clients. Are you outgoing or reserved? Edgy, or more conservative? Bright and friendly, or calm and professional?

Your brand also has a voice. Your brand voice is the way in which you express yourself to your audience – and it needs to be consistent. It’s key to building a strong connection with your audience so that they know, like and trust you.

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How to edit your content with confidence

We all want to publish strong content that delights our readers and convinces them to take action. Having someone else review your drafts can be a helpful way to get a fresh perspective on your content before you publish it and identify any rough spots that could use a little polishing. But what if you don’t have the budget to hire an editor, or the time to have a friend read over your draft? If you’ve ever felt unsure about how to edit your own content, this is for you.

In this post, I go through some of the questions I ask myself when I’m reviewing content for Polish & Shine clients, friends and family, and even for myself. And if you want something quick and easy that you can refer to the next time that you’re editing your own content, I’ve got a handy, fully clickable checklist for you that you can print out and hang next to your desk.

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What is the Curse of Knowledge? (And 4 ways to reverse it)

Have you ever tried to explain something about your work to someone, only to have them look at you with a blank stare? You try again, putting it a different way… still nothing.

It’s frustrating, right? What seems so simple to you feels impossible to communicate or express clearly.

We’ve all experienced it, and it can be a real challenge to our marketing efforts and to connecting with our clients and customers.

But did you know there’s a name for it? It’s called the Curse of Knowledge. This post talks about how exactly it's causing you grief, and 4 things you can do to get rid of it. 

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5 essential elements of a well-defined brand

Often when people think about branding, they think about concepts like choosing the perfect name or designing a gorgeous logo or website. But the truth is that visuals are only part of what makes a powerful and memorable brand. Your brand is something much more intangible than that – it has to do with the way that your audience thinks and feels about you. And while your visuals are an important part of that, they aren’t the starting point.

Branding is first and foremost about strategy. It’s about establishing a vision for the way you want your business to be perceived and taking deliberate steps to implement that vision in the way that your business looks, feels and interacts with your audience.

Before you develop the visuals for your brand, you need to lay a strong foundation that clearly defines who you are as a business, what you are trying to accomplish, and what makes you unique and valuable in the way that you serve your clients. Having this foundation in place will allow you to make choices about your design and brand visuals that reinforce your strategic objectives, rather than just picking something because you think it looks nice.

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How to find the perfect photography to enhance your brand online

One of the most important ways you can ensure a compelling, recognizable online presence is by choosing visuals that complement your brand. The imagery that you choose for your blog posts, Instagram feed, product mockups and more all communicate something about you, your products, and the way that you help your audience. It’s important to make sure the feeling they create in your readers is consistent with the overall tone that you want your brand to convey.

For beginners (especially non-designers) who are trying to establish a solid online presence, using photography to communicate what your brand is about is a great option. If this feels overwhelming, or if you’re not sure where to start — don’t worry. With a little planning, you’ll have gorgeous, consistent imagery in no time.

This post breaks it down into a few easy steps, and if you want to download a worksheet that gives you room to take notes and do some brainstorming, I’ve got you covered.

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Why you need an ideal customer profile (and how to create one)

How do you write content that connects with your audience? 

That’s a tough one, right? I mean, it’s easy enough to talk about your business and what you’re working on with a friend over nachos and a glass of wine. But when you have to do it in writing, to someone on the other side of a page or a screen, it feels a lot more intimidating…. especially when you want them to get so excited that they take the plunge and hit the “Buy Now” button.

I get it. That “okay, how do I put this into words” moment happens to me too. So today I thought I’d share one of the tools that is most helpful to me when it comes to finding the words to truly connect with my dream clients and customers: the Ideal Customer Profile.

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