Try These Writing and Editing Processes… Your Time Is Money

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In the long run, separating the writing and editing process, setting a timer just to write, and avoiding distractions can end up saving you time and money.  We’re all busy and try to multitask everything we do, but sometimes it just doesn’t pay to try to combine doing everything at one time because we end up going back and starting over again. When I write, I find I need my brain’s undivided attention!

Write First; Edit Second.

One common trait many writers and authors wrestle with is disconnecting the writing and editing process.  I struggled with this for years; if I knew something was not correct while writing or typing, I immediately went back and corrected it so I wouldn’t forget to change it later, but realized at some point that I was losing time, and let’s face it, time is money. After years of doing this, I finally started writing the article or blog, etc. and then editing. “Letting go” of this was excruciating for me, to say the least! My advice: Put all your thoughts down on paper or type them on the computer and then revise the grammar, duplication of word usage, incorrect spelling, etc.

Wait to Write Your Introduction.

Introductions are hard to write so if you struggle with your introduction just start writing your first key point from your outline and then after you write your chapter, article, blog, etc. go back and compose your introduction.

Set a Timer.

I’ve mentioned this before in different “writings” but it’s a great habit to start no matter what type of business you are working with; i.e., coaches, speakers, lawyers, Fortune 500, etc. When you determine the length of time you want to write, set a timer and write. You decide the amount of time – 30 minutes, 45 minutes, 60 minutes – it’s up to you, but during this time, until the buzzer sounds – write. Focus on writing; no checking email, making phone calls, checking Twitter or Facebook, cleaning off your desk, etc. Write.

Keep Moving.

What? I mean keep writing even if you want to edit as you are writing. This is one habit I have really worked on; however, it’s a struggle, but I have found that if I keep writing and edit later, I do save time. I have a system for notes or information I don’t want to forget about; I highlight the area and mark it with bold letters. You could try this or write a note to yourself or use {brackets} to record your notes and come back later and edit the material.

DD – Duck Distractions!

It’s difficult enough to write when you aren’t interrupted, but constant interference can play havoc with your writing progress. Some helpful hints to DD:

  • Tell people you are writing and need to concentrate; give them the hours you are not available.
  • Turn off Skype, Twitter updates, your cell phone, office phone ringer, etc.
  • Find a quiet place – a place you can close the door, or perhaps a go to a quiet park or the beach.
  • Put on a pair of headphones – people will think you are listening to something (even if you aren’t) and less likely to disturb you.

I post tips and suggestions on Facebook and received the following comments from two people:

Introductions: Michelle Campbell from Forte Virtual Support Solutions:

“This is a great tip, Colleen. I always do this. I rarely start from the beginning and finish at the end. I jump around from section to section and point to point, especially when I get inspired to discuss a particular point. It’s much more difficult to write if you force yourself to stick to an outline you create.”

DD – Duck Distractions: Patti Cooper from Big Sky Social Media Management:

“I find it very difficult to concentrate when working from home, there’s always someone around. I usually just go in the bedroom and close the door. But the headphone idea is a great one. I’ll be trying that now, thanks for sharing!”

What steps do you take to Duck Distractions?

My tip for you – keep moving along when you write, and edit when you have finished your article, blog, chapter, etc. See what happens. You might find you are more productive and the system works better than editing as you write.  What are some of your tips and tricks? I’d love to hear from you!

Until next time,

Colleen

Who needs processes?

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A process for you and a process for me.

Have you ever done the same task over and over again? As humans, we are creatures of habit so most of what we do each day is routine; same old, same old. We don’t like to do things differently and it makes sense to do every task the easiest way possible, right?

It makes sense then that what we do in business should be completed in a similar fashion each time and the easiest way possible. This is where processes come into play.

Process? What process?

Merriam-Webster defines process as, “a series of actions that produce something or that lead to a particular result.” For example, you follow a process when you send a newsletter, write a blog, post on social media, call a client, etc. There are many actions business owners take on a daily basis that need to be written into processes. 

Creating processes may not sound like a great use of time, but trust me, it is! Imagine for a second currently you send two newsletter campaigns out each month. Do you put the same content in each newsletter? I bet you don’t, but where does the content come from? Probably your blog or a personal update or curated content from industry leaders.

As entrepreneurs, the goal is to grow your business and as it grows, taking time to do all the things you do now like write your newsletter isn’t the best use of your money or time. So you hire a social media expert or a Virtual Assistant to compile your newsletter. How will they know what to put in your newsletter? Do you expect them to know exactly what you want with zero help? If so, you’re asking for trouble.

Here is where a process comes into play. There are many things to include in a process – what tasks you are going to complete, what tools do you need to complete those tasks, a specific order of events, and a time frame for how long the tasks should take.

Every business has clients, but what do you do when you first start working with a client? Here’s our process for what we do when we talk with a potential client:

  1. Email client a client intake form which includes the following:
    1. Name
    2. Email
    3. Phone number
    4. Business name
    5. Email newsletter subscriber info
  2. Put info into CRM
  3. Add intake form into client folder in Google Drive/computer

Client intake information is a basic process, but processes can (and should) be developed for many tasks, both simple and more complex. I even have a process for when I write blogs!

What processes do you have in place as your business grows and it’s time to bring on a Virtual Assistant, if you have a sudden illness, or accident? Processes can make or break your business. Colleen and I look forward to hearing from you.

Peter Wietmarschen

Feeling lost in business? You’re not alone!

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Where am I?

And where am I heading?

Have you ever thought to yourself, “What the heck am I doing?” Sometimes things like this happen and that’s okay. There are many reasons you might feel this way and there are a few ways you can combat this feeling.

Okay, it’s time for honesty hour (okay, it’s not really going to take an hour but you get it). I have felt like this about once a week. That’s okay though because I have used this feeling to push myself into better understanding what I am currently confused about. That’s not the easiest thing to do sometimes but my biggest rule for life is to find one thing each day and improve on it. That one rule drives me to become knowledgeable in many areas and forces me to learn things from website design to social media best practices to becoming a better writer.

By gradually enhancing my knowledge I am putting myself down a path to becoming an expert on these subjects. They say you need to have 10,000 hours under your belt in one area to become an expert in that subject. That sounds like an awful lot, and it is, but the only way you will reach that level is to learn and experience minute by minute, hour by hour.

Now what the heck are you doing?

A bit of thought can help you out.

Have you actually sat down lately to plan out what you want to do? Some people have no clue what to do because they haven’t taken the proper time to actually figure out what they want to do. Now while I want to become better in one area of life and business each day I have set out a goal  for what I want to be and what I want to be doing in the next year and five years. For example, I want to be a strong social media manager within the next year. I have set out a few tasks I need to accomplish each day to put myself on the right track such as reading industry blogs or writing posts for the company or researching the competitor. Now, this year I won’t reach the 10,000 hours to become a master but I will make a dent in those hours.

Another reason some people think, “What the heck am I doing?” is because they have way too much on their plates. Sometimes you overburden yourself and you can’t focus on what is important and what needs to be done. Whether you are a business owner or a contractor or employee there are times when you need to step back and reevaluate what you are doing. If you have no idea what you are doing it might be time to start to pare back some of your projects and focus on what is most profitable for you.

Over the past weekend, Colleen and I had a great call with our coach. We both have some wonderful and great goals for the company and ourselves personally. What we learned though is we are pushing ourselves too much, spreading ourselves too thin, and not focusing on what and where our bread and butter goes. Sometimes all it takes is a quick reminder and you are back on track.

Now just because you have these great ideas doesn’t mean you can’t pursue them; on the contrary, you should pursue them. However, putting safeguards into place is necessary to help your success continue far into the future. Do you have your systems in place for an employee to take over writing your social media? Do you have the personnel in place to process new clients? Do you have the means to fulfill your current clients needs? Sometimes if you try to stretch yourself too far without the proper support system, you and your business will fall into a rut that leaves you and your employees feeling, “What the heck am I doing?”

The solutions

Putting yourself back on track.

There are many solutions you can use to combat this feeling. I have mentioned a few but I will reiterate them here so as to accentuate their importance. My top three ways to combat the, “What the heck am I doing?” feeling:

  1. Plan out where you want to be and how you want to get there.
  2. Take a step back and see where you are, what you are good at, and where you might be failing.
  3. Put the proper systems and personnel in place to allow yourself to grow.

I am sure you have felt this way before and I’m sure you will feel it again in the future. I know I have. But I hope you can take these thoughts and apply them to your own business to combat these crazy, unnerving, and quite frankly, scary moments.

What are some ways you have brought yourself out of that, “What the heck am I doing?” place?

Photo via <a href=”https://visualhunt.com/”>VisualHunt</a>

Have a wonderful day!

Organizing Your Social Media Content

Hi there readers!

I guess this is the first post on our newly named blog “On Record!” Thanks for reading, and we hope to see you back! Like I said in the last post, I am focusing a little more on the business side of the blog and today’s topic sticks to that.

Social Media Is Crazy!

So much to do, so very little time to do it…

If you are not on social media, you are one of the few. In the world today, almost everyone engages on one of the social media platforms; from the “old” Facebook to Twitter, LinkedIn, and Pinterest to the “newer” sites like Tumblr, Reddit, Peach, etc. Honestly, I am willing to bet most of you are reading this blog because you saw the link on one of our social media platforms. This is just the way business is running in this day and age.

Now whether you are already an established user or are still just finding your footing, social media can take a large chunk of your time away from more productive aspects of your business.

I’m not going to take credit for this solution because it has been around for ages, but I would like to give you some insight into how we use the following to organize our social media at The Literary Prose.

Content Is Key

A calendar to keep your content straight

The best way I have found to relieve the stress of posting content on social media is by using a content calendar. What is a content calendar? Well, we use a Google Sheets document to organize all of the social media copy we have posted and will post. We organize the sheet by day and further break it down between all our platforms, currently Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, YouTube, and Google+.

For each post we have columns set up for the most pertinent information such as the time posted, the type of post (link, a sale, a photo, etc.), the topic of the post (the name of the campaign you’re running, the name of the blog you are linking to, etc.), the actual copy of the post, and the link you may post within that content post.

Here’s a blank day for you to take a look at:

Content CalendarOrganizing Your Content

Effectively using your content calendar

Now what I love about our content calendar is it provides us with an organized place to view all of our content for one day. We take it even farther and color code our text by the type of content we are posting. For example, content going out for The Literary Prose Presents: It’s More Than Just Words teleseminar series is a dark blue and posts about our blog are in a light purple. This way we can easily tell if we are over posting, under posting, or even completely forgetting to post about a topic for the day.

One way I like to use our content calendar is to work ahead on copy for a campaign I know about already. For example, if you have a free course you are offering in two months you can write all the posts for the campaign in this calendar. You can write the posts for days, weeks, and months into the future.

Another great feature is I can write posts for special holidays and events throughout the year. You can have posts ready for Easter or Independence Day all ready to go.

More Than Just Content

Some other tools to combine with a content calendar

While this will not single-handedly take the stress away from social media, it will if you combine this with a few other tools. Many of you out there probably use either Hootsuite or Buffer. These tools will help because you can write all of your posts in the content calendar and then upload in bulk, if you want, all of your posts for the day, week, or month to be scheduled for release.

Another great tool I enjoy using with our content calendar is IFTTT. Through IFTTT I send all of our new bitly links to a spreadsheet so I can easily access them when writing social media copy. This way I have all the links for our blogs right in the same document so I don’t have to search and search for what I need.

Synopsis

A quick review of what we’ve learned

Content for social media platforms can be tricky but if you use a content calendar your can take you social media presence beyond where you are currently. Also, by using other tools with the content calendar you can become even more effective.

At this time, do you use a content calendar? If so, do you use any of the 3rd party tools? Let us know what you think; we always welcome a good discussion!

Thanks for the read,

Peter Wietmarschen

Find Ways to Relieve Your Stress – Whatever Works for You!

Colleen end of Pig 2015

Stress: a constraining force or influence; a physical, chemical, or emotional factor that causes bodily or mental tension and may be a factor in disease causation.

This is an update to a blog I wrote several years ago. With the New Year underway, I trust it is a great reminder for everyone!

Whether you are an entrepreneur, an employee, a stay-at-home parent, or a student, you have stressors in your life and you need to schedule time to relieve the tension or your health will suffer. Our society has reached the point where only the best and the fastest is acceptable; how can we take time off and “unplug” from our technology?  We might miss a client’s text, an important email, or what about a phone call? It’s maddening. Years ago, I swore I would not let work or clients become a deterrent from my exercise, my health, or my family. Guess what? I did. In rebuilding/rebranding my business after 19 years, I have found myself involved in this “insanity” again. Last year I fell back into the craziness of it all. There were days I spent 10-12 hours a day at the computer, hunched over the keyboard, taking every class known to man, doing everything I could to “land” new clients and all for what? Sore shoulders, tingling down my arms, irritability, and weight gain (after losing 12 pounds last spring).

In the middle of all this, deep down I knew it couldn’t go on; I’ve always worked on keeping my health in check. I wanted time for me and my family first (after God) but what I’m trying to say is while my business is important, in the long run, clients will come and clients will go, but if I don’t take care of myself, I’ll miss out being around for my family and enjoying life, and we all only have one life to live! So, I joined a walking club. I’ve always loved walking and my goal is to walk a full marathon in 2016 (and several half) and lower my per-mile walk time to a sub-12-minute mile. I also started violin lessons last year and yes, it does relieve stress! Here are some thoughts for you to relieve stress and live your life to the fullest:

  • Unplug for a few days – Your clients will be there when you return. I did this last year for four days. I emailed all of my clients to let them know I would be out of the office for four days and if they needed anything urgent to please have that work to me by a certain time or else they would have to wait until Monday to have something returned. I really did unplug for the most part. I was proud of myself and I did relax.
  • Exercise at least four times a week – I’ve personally committed to walking three days a week and I’m going back to Zumba one night a week. During the day I’ll take my pooch out for a stroll for 15 minutes or so and guess what? The work is still there when I return and I feel 100% refreshed for the afternoon’s work list. Peter and I were brainstorming the other day and I wanted to move so I stood up and started walking in place. Was it aerobic? No, but the point is I was moving. You can do this type of thing too. Exercise lowers your blood pressure, over time will lower your cholesterol and help you lose weight, or help you maintain your weight. If you aren’t able to exercise 30 minutes at one time during the day, do 10 minutes three times a day. This is known as a metabolism booster and it works. I did this a few years ago when my schedule didn’t allow me to take time off for 30 minutes at one time (I don’t recommend this every day but once in a while do it if it’s all that works!).  Walk in front of the TV for 10 minutes, run in place for 10 minutes, or walk up and down the steps for 10 minutes (contact me for more suggestions if you want). The important point here is to move! Don’t be a couch potato!
  • Laugh – Laughter gives us an instant happy perspective. Watch a funny TV show or movie.
  • Sing out loud/listen to music – Listen to your favorite music and sing! If you don’t want to sing then listen to music and dance like no one is watching and just enjoy it. My favorite quote is “Music Makes Us Human.” I don’t know who quoted it, but it’s true. If you don’t feel less stress after listening to music and your heart doesn’t feel happier then my heart feels sorry for you…
  • Meditate – If you meditate correctly, you feel in touch with yourself, will relax and feel confident. It only takes 10 minutes to breathe, relate to yourself, and clear your mind (and yes, I need to start doing this:)).
  • Make a list – I started making a list at the end of my day for the next day so I know where I need to start the next morning. It helps me take my mind off of work for the evening and I can clear my head for at least 12 hours or so.

How do you destress? Do you schedule it on a regular basis? Have any of the above suggestions worked for you?

Relax and take care of you,

Colleen

2015’s Top Blog Posts

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Hey there readers!

As the year comes to a close we take the time to review what this year has given to us. Starting our new adventure this year we decided our review would be a quick and helpful recap of our top five blog posts. If this is your first read we hope you enjoy these next few articles and discover something useful, and if you are a returning reader you might be reminded of something you read or missed the first time around.

5. Five Approaches to Editing; Keep it Fun

When it comes to editing and proofreading, there are many factors to consider. When writing, the main goal is to make sure the message is communicated clearly and effectively. The purpose of the writing project should be known from the very beginning. But what happens when poor grammar and minor mistakes are in the way? The message is lost and the errors distract the readers. Remember the suggested approaches below to avoid common writing errors and keep your audience interested: [Read More] 

4. Five Time-Saving Tools for Every Business Owner

As a business owner, there are many tasks you perform every day. How can you save yourself time on daily jobs? Here is a list of some great tools you can use to save time and energy working on your business. [Read More]

3. Tips for Aspiring Authors

You want to write a book, but you’re not quite sure you have the skills or what you say would be of interest to people. What should you do?  Below are some suggestions to help that aspiring writer in you take shape and write the book within you: [Read More]

2. Six Articles Every Facebook User Should Read

A Collection Of The Best Articles About Facebook

In a 2014 study, the Pew Research Center stated that 57% of American adults use Facebook. With numbers like this, it’s no wonder why some of the largest companies use Facebook to interact with their customers.

Whether you are a large multi-billion dollar company, or a small start-up business, or an individual, Facebook is almost a necessity in today’s world to “stay in touch.” If you are new to the world of Facebook, you might have a few questions about how to appropriately set up your account to maximize your social reach and ROI.

Many a blogger has created their own guide on how to best use Facebook and today I am sharing articles from some of the best sites on how to best use Facebook and all of its features. [Read More]

1. The Four Top Reasons Authors Need a Professional Virtual Author’s Assistant

Yes, most of us would like to think we are superhuman when, in reality, deep down we know we aren’t! Shocking, I know… [Read More]

Now we hope you learned something new. Stayed tuned next year for even more great articles to read.  If you are looking at writing yourself more this upcoming year visit us on Facebook and join our 14-Day Writing Adventure starting early 2016. Write blogs or a book or a newsletter each day. We can provide insights and thoughts if you would like and if you get a bit stuck, we will have a new writing prompt up each day to help you with ideas.

Have a wonderful Christmas and a Happy New Year,

Peter M. Wietmarschen
M. Colleen Wietmarschen

Your Story – From Thoughts to Beyond

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What a Certified Author Assistant is and how they save you time and money.

Many of you may be wondering why we are going into such detail creating our new company. Well, for starters, we are currently in the process of establishing a brand new product and service line geared to help writers, speakers, coaches, and others reach their goal of published author! As you may know, Colleen was awarded the Jan B. King Memorial Scholarship to become a certified author assistant (“CAA”). We’re sure you may be wondering what that means. In basic terms, a certified author assistant has the tools and knowledge to assist writers in meeting their publishing goals – the process starts from before the first word is written to publication and then continued promotion/marketing for months and years after it’s printed.

What is really great about this is that an author assistant can pull it all together for the author and this saves the author time and money. To be properly equipped to serve an author, the CAA must have a trusted team of professionals that specialize in all the different areas of the process. For example, if an author needs a new book jacket for their next edition the CAA can match the author with a graphic designer. What about editing? The CAA helps the author find a skilled editor, copy editor, or proofreader (yes, these duties are different depending on the type of editing an author desires). Then there’s publishing and marketing support. The author assistant can coordinate those tasks too. Authors would have a hard time doing all of this alone without compromising their creativity. The author needs to focus on writing and let the CAA concentrate on the other details.

In summation, a certified author assistant has the skills to work with the author in whatever capacity is warranted. There’s no one size fits all for assisting writers.

Be on the lookout for our new program coming soon, and if you know of anyone who might need an author assistant let us know. Do you have a book inside of you waiting to be told? We’d love to talk with you.

 

[author] [author_image timthumb=’on’]https://mcolleenwietmarschen.com/wp-content/uploads/2015/07/Pete-sax-2014-4-use.jpg [/author_image] [author_info]Peter, a 2014 graduate of Morehead State University’s Caudill College of Arts, Humanities, and Social Sciences, earned a Bachelor of Arts in Music. He strives to express his thoughts and ideas in a creative and professional manner. Peter is our Vice President of Operations and Marketing and a contributing writer on our site. He enjoys writing blogs which provide helpful information to readers as well as general business practices and more![/author_info] [/author]

Launching Your Products and Services – Part 3

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Organizing Your Business for Future Success!

Every day is a day for growth and in the past few days we’ve completed lots of tasks to ensure our company’s successful development! After a few days’ work and meetings, we finalized the Organization Chart for M. Colleen Wietmarschen Co.

One of the biggest mistakes that small businesses make is they do not have a clear sense of responsibilities for each person in their company. By creating an Organization Chart you can avoid confusion and miscommunication moving forward.

To start, I thought about all the services we provide to our customers and the daily tasks of running the company so we stay organized, such as payroll and marketing. From there, I established branches of our company that deal with each area. For example, I set up a finance branch, a project branch, a marketing branch, and a human relations branch.

All the branches have different roles so it only made sense to have a President. The President deals with the day-to-day operations of the business and keeps the company on the correct path. Next, I added an Owner role above the President. The Owner works closely with the President but not necessarily in the daily operations; however, the Owner guides the company through other processes such as directing the company towards its vision and mission.

Under each branch there are different roles that need to be filled. You can’t just have a payroll department if you don’t have an accounts receivable department. So then I filled in each department with roles that need to be met in order to make each department function as a complete unit. For example, under the Vice President of Operations I listed that there needs to be a Project Manager. The Project Manager cannot complete all the tasks by themselves so underneath them I listed Team Member, i.e., writer, graphic designer, web designer, etc. I followed suit with the other branches as well.

By setting up these branches I clearly delineated where responsibilities fell. Now you may be telling yourself that you are too small of a company and you don’t need this. I will tell you that every company needs this. It clearly defines what each person needs to do and it allows your company to grow within a clearly defined structure. It is true that in the beginning you might have one person filling two or three roles, maybe even more, but as you grow, duties are in place so others can easily step into a predefined role.

After the chart was created, I saw what jobs were within the structure and needed to be filled. We had a meeting to discuss the job description for each position. This further clarified the responsibilities each person is required to complete. Again, in the beginning you might have to fill multiple roles with the same person but as your company grows and you add employees (or subcontractors) their duties are easily identified.

Do you have an organizational chart in place? If not, can you see how this tool can be a great asset for your company’s success!

Peter M. Wietmarschen

[author] [author_image timthumb=’on’]https://mcolleenwietmarschen.com/wp-content/uploads/2015/07/Pete-sax-2014-4-use.jpg[/author_image] [author_info]Peter, a 2014 graduate of Morehead State University’s Caudill College of Arts, Humanities, and Social Sciences, earned a Bachelor of Arts in Music. He strives to express his thoughts and ideas in a creative and professional manner. Peter is our Vice President of Operations and Marketing and a contributing writer on our site. He enjoys writing blogs which provide helpful information to readers as well as general business practices and more! [/author_info] [/author]