Free Blog Calendar Planning Sheet

Hey, guys! Do you have a trouble planning or keeping track of your blog post ideas? Have you tried keeping an editorial calendar before but gotten frustrated because it was too complicated or took too much time to organize?

I have something for you today.

I’ve been blogging for 10 years.  I LOVE to plan my content ahead and I’ve used just about every method out there, from paper planners to hardcore content management systems.

I finally got sick of it all and just made my own. I love it because it’s simple and doesn’t require a degree to use.

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Want to try it out?  Here’s a link to sign up for your free copy!  

I’m participating in the #100DayBloggingChallenge hosted by my friend and fellow blogger, Amanda Northern.  This week I’ll have resources and tips to help my fellow bloggers work smarter and get more done in less time!

Goal Tip: Follow Your Passion, Not A Paycheck

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I can’t believe this is something I have to say in 2016, but I had a conversation yesterday that leads me to believe it STILL needs to be said.  Follow Your Passion, NOT a Paycheck!


Listen, here’s the deal.

I launched my first paid course this week.  It bombed spectacularly.  Not a single sign up.  I’m a bit surprised because I also ran a free challenge leading into it and the feedback on that was fantastic.

 

I’ve been looking for paid clients for about 3 weeks now.  I still have some long-term clients who are friends I work for when they need something, but I want to work with new people on a steady basis. This is the first time I’ve pitched services for a sustained period of time, and….crickets.  No, actually, not crickets. I like the sound of crickets.  This sound is mosquitoes.  Annoying, incessant, and a big pain in the rear.

 

Anyway.

Last night, a well-meaning friend asked how my business was going.  When I told him I was still looking for clients, said he thought I should switch my client base away from creatives and work with coaches or more traditional business owners.  Those people have more money than the average creative entrepreneur and would be more likely to pay.

 

I told him three times that I didn’t want to do that, but he couldn’t get his brain around the fact that I’d pursue a path away from what appears to be a giant, glittering cash cow, especially when I’m fully aware of how hard it is to get artists to part with any money.

 

Here’s the thing.

My skills would be useful regardless of what kind of business my client was running.  We all need to use the internet, we all need to know how to set up technological services, and we all need to have functional websites.  There’s a lot of overlap.  So, technically there’s no reason I can’t  pitch to coaches.

Heck, maybe I’ll put together a package for creative coaches if I feel like it. That’s not where I’m drawn. (Unless there happens to be a coach writing a book, like some previous clients have done.)  I have much more knowledge and experience to offer directly to creators, and I want to work with people who share my passion for storytelling and creative expression. I know who my ideal client is, and I know why I want to serve her. I can’t just abandon that to chase after what looks like an easier paycheck.

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I’m the type of person to give 100% no matter who are working with or what I’m doing. So I know that I could work effectively with coaches, or really any service based entrepreneur. But I also know I wouldn’t be fulfilled if the person wasn’t also a creative and working toward creative goals.  So I wouldn’t be fully showing up, and it wouldn’t be any easier than what I’m doing now.  Plus, I’d have to change the direction of this blog and I, know that following a paycheck isn’t going to get me where I want to be in life.

As a writer and artist, I hear the same types of things all the time.

“You can’t just write what interests you or draw your emotions. You have to follow the market and pay attention to trends.”

That’s why we have about 100,000 crappy vampire novels, and why mainstream sci-fi is so boring nowadays. Everyone is doing what they think is going to sell instead of doing something that interests them.

My friend gave me a long speech about how he “made peace” with having to do things he didn’t like or having to work in environments he wasn’t happy with Sony could “get” to do things he wanted.

That’s all well and good when you’re working a 9 to 5 job and you need to pay the bills. I’m sure there are plenty of people who start businesses they don’t like, make some money, and then retire or move on to the nextt thing.

That’s not who I am or what I want for myself. There are lots of things I compromise on in order to get what I want:

  • I don’t like getting up early in the morning.
  • I don’t like Skype.
  • I don’t like spending HOURS on promotion, even if I’m good at it.
  • I don’t like being polite to the dickheads who show up to argue on my author blog or anywhere else I post about social issues.

 

THAT kind of compromise, I’m fine with.  I do those things because the benefits outweigh the costs.

The one thing I won’t compromise about  is following my passions and working with who I feel drawn to work with.

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My friend thinks I’m being short sighted. His argument is that if I made more money, I’d have the ability to help more people (presumably in my spare time, which is like the two hours a week that I watch NCIS on television, because all the other hours are accounted for by my books, my blogs, and this business. Oh, and sleep. A few hours are accounted for with sleep.)

The whole point of starting a service based business, for me, is getting to choose the clients I want to work with.  I have seen the long-term consequences of grinding at a job you don’t like, forcing yourself to justify an employer’s policies even if you don’t agree with them, or chasing after money as an entrepreneur. Eventually, the slow erosion of your values eats away at you, steals your love for what you do, and forces you into a position of having to make up a long string of justifications just to keep showing up at your job.

I still LIKE my job. I not only like what I do, I like the people I work with, and I like how I feel when I get up to go to work every day. (In my pajamas, under a blanket, nuff said.)
If you’re going to set a goal, you might as well do something that you really love and live the life you want.

 

Need some support to Live the Life You Want? check out my free Facebook group.

Want these images as pinable graphics? Follow my Quote Board.

 

 

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Goal Setting Tip: Choose Self-Compassion

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There’s something I hate that goes around the internet all the time.  I see it in memes and inspirational pep talks from bloggers and entrepreneurs.  It’s this idea that you can “choose” to be happy just by thinking positively about any situation.

Continue reading

Goal Setting Tip: Start

Goals

Start.  Just start. Take action. Don’t sit there waiting until you have the perfect package, the perfect website, the perfect sales plan, the perfect paragraph all arranged in your head.  Whatever it is you want to do, start doing it.

 

You learn by doing.

You succeed by failing first.

You grow by recognizing your shortcomings and working to improve them.

You will not succeed if you wait for the perfect time, the perfect look, the perfect dress.

LOOK.

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These are some images I made a while ago and was going to use for yesterday’s post.  Quote images and text placement have been my biggest struggle with graphics, and I had to learn to improve.  So I made these, the best I could.

Then I remade them six months later.

Don’t buy into this whole dumb mentality that you have to be perfect to get in the game. When you know there’s something to improve, you have a goal to work towards. Perfectionism will shortchange you on the life you want.

Goal Setting Tip

Goals

 

Success doesn’t happen all at once. It’s a series of small changes and consistent actions that help you build your goals into your life. Sometimes, the changes are so small that you don’t even notice them until you step back. Two years ago, I was eating a lot of take-out food and TV dinners because I didn’t have access to my stove. I know it was affecting my health, but I didn’t know how much until I stopped. I gradually reduced my salt intake, worked in healthier meal options to replace the frozen dinners, and I limited my take-out to once per quarter. After a while, I found that I wasn’t even getting the take-out that often. For new year this year, I ordered dinner from a chicken place I used to eat at all the time. When I went there regularly, I used to think the chicken fingers were sort of bland, and I was always putting more salt on them. When I ordered it this time, I found I couldn’t finish it in one sitting because the food was just too salty. I wasn’t used to it anymore. That’s what happens with goals when you build your action steps into a habit. In the beginning, it feels like a hassle, but over time it becomes a way of life. You won’t realize how much has changed until you stop and look–but wow, will you be impressed with yourself!

Goal Tip: It’s Okay to Start Over

Goals

All my lofty plans for world domination (aka consistently posting and engaging on my blog this year) fell apart this winter.  In February.  Not even two whole months into the new year.

 

The worst part?

 

I had the perfect plan

More than half of my content for January and Februray was already written.  I had Buffer set up with all my social media shares, and I’d reached out to fellow bloggers, networked on Facebook groups, forced myself to participate in Twitter events, the works!

 

I even had back-up content in my queue for days that things didn’t go the way I needed them to.

 

And then life hit me with a steamroller. My landlord became the biggest jerk in the world, and I spent most of February talking to lawyers.  Then I switched website hosting companies and ended up having to rebuild my entire site from scratch–Thank you, WordPress.

 

I peeled myself up the pavement, looked around, and I realized that even though I could still post all my awesome goal setting tips and how tos, I wasn’t going to be able to interact beyond the scheduled posts in my queue. My whole strategy was built on the idea of one-on-one interactions, so…

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I kinda panicked.

 

You ever have a really great idea, do all your research, put all your initial work together way ahead of time, network like hell, and then get steamrolled at the last minute? The whole project falls apart and you’re left standing there with this look on your face like “Bwuh…? What do I do now?”

 

Or maybe you finally figured out what you wanted to with your life, got your act together, did a huge turnaround and then got slammed with an anvil out of the sky. I know about steamrollers and anvils. My whole life is been full of them. I’ve gotten pretty good at picking myself back up and starting over, but I wasn’t feeling it this time.

 

I was a great student who took pride in my intellect and school performance.  Until trauma and mental illness ravaged my teen years and left my GPA in tatters.

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I got married at 19.  My husband kept me barricaded in our bedroom and refused to let me out of his sight, even to go to the bathroom.  I got divorced and ended up in a homeless shelter.

 

In my 20s, I went to a community college and made the President’s List until my last term when an unexpected illness landed me in a hospital bed for three months.  After that, my power wheelchair died, and my home state refused to pay for repairs.  I was literally trapped in my home for six months.  Back then, online learning was barely functional and none of the classes I needed were offered.

 

After THAT, the one class I needed for my degree requirements was not offered for a year.  When it was offered again, it was only at a time when I would miss the last bus home.

 

During all of that, I was living in a tiny studio apartment with a bathroom floor that was so water-damaged my downstairs neighbor needed a bucket every time I took a shower.  I spent 10 years fighting with that landlord over repairs and wheelchair accessibility.  They tried to force me out by insisting on “housing inspections” every month.

 

After 10 years, I moved to what I thought was going to be a great little one-bedroom in a nicer part of town. It turned out that the management company was planning to renovate the building, and I ended up living in my bedroom while unfinished renovations dragged on. I’ve lived here for 7 years, and I’ve spend most of it with a broken bathroom sink, no living room, and kitchen appliances I can’t access due to ADA violations.

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I made plans to go back to college for graphic design and spent a couple of years improving my photoshop skills and building a portfolio while I researched and tried to get the rest of my life in order.  Then I severely injured both arms.  I can still do a bit of digital art and design, but I’ll never be able to work full time as a designer.

 

So.  Enter Evil Genius Consulting. This is the umpteenth detour on a long, well-paved road where steamrollers hold contests to see who can run me over the most. I’m in it for the long haul, and I don’t expect overnight success. I still want to have something to show for it.  Needless to say, I  wasn’t happy when my dumb landlord chose this particular time to amp-up the asshole routine.

 

I had all the stuff that was supposed to help manage stress and overwhelm.

  • Lists.
  • SMART Goals
  • Time management
  • More Lists.
  • Social Media automation.

 

I was even more stressed.

 

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Every time I had to take a day to manage the impending lawsuit, it threw my schedule off. Then I had to stop and put the schedule back together.

 

Buffer Queue ran down and I had to find more content for that.

 

While I was trying to build a website.

 

And work on my book.

 

And take a bunch of classes.

 

 

And, you know, eat.  Sleep.  Breathe.

 

With depression, PTSD, and physical disabilities that require a full-time job’s worth of hours to manage.

 

 

Things kept piling up while I got more and more overwhelmed. Finally I  threw on the brakes and decided I’d had enough.

 

Of course, as soon as I did that, an anvil dropped out of the sky and flattened me again.

 

Oh, the management company is being audited? What? They’re going to inspect all the apartments? When? MONDAY MORNING?!

 

GAHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHH.

 

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I got through the inspection with only one panic attack, but when it was over, the panic attacks didn’t stop.  The last two weeks of February were a blur of panic and hyper-alert jumpiness.

 

Things did calm down, but once I was stable again, I had to figure out what to do with my blog. Could I pick up from where was and keep going? A lot of the content I had written was seasonally specific, and the rest was about a goal planning method that hadn’t actually worked out for me. So what was I going to do now?

 

I’d have to start over again, and the thought of doing that was overwhelming and exhausting. How many times could I go back to the drawing board? My whole blog is littered with features that I had started and burnt out on. Now had something that I enjoyed writing but my whole goal system was a bust!

 

Or was it?

 

I remembered my own advice from early January.

 

Don’t be afraid to start over if something isn’t working. Don’t keep doing the same thing and hoping for a different result.  It’s okay to change your mind, change your goals, and go in a different direction.  You just have to start, and you can start over anytime you want.

 

So, here I am, starting over, and I’m inviting you along. I’m not sure where we’re going yet, but I do know that I can keep going when the anvils drop and the steamrollers come through.   I can show you how to do it too.  Because that’s what I’ve done my whole life.

 

My blog plans may have been a bust this winter, but I’m still here and still writing.  My serial is still moving along, because I know how to keep going on the rough days–or maybe I’m too damn stubborn to stop.

 

Either way.  Do you need some help starting over? Are you just starting a blog and don’t know where you’re going? Click that subscribe button in the sidebar and join up with me.

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You Only Fail When You Stop Learning

This was one of the biggest and most difficult lessons of my life–NOT because I’m a perfectionist or afraid of failure, but because no one ever said to me, “The point is to LEARN HOW to do it. Not “do it right the first time.” I view all “failure” as an opportunity to learn, but for a long time I was embarrassed to admit if I didn’t know how to do something. I made sure I never fell on my face publicly. Now I can tell you that my “failures” taught me more than my easy wins. I never really failed at all. I learned.