The Atlanta Braves, birds and other distractions

I am not a fan of summer’s hot temperatures but summer does mean baseball. But baseball also means I get distracted looking up the starting pitchers for the Atlanta Braves or the latest stats on Freddie Freeman.

Honestly, baseball is not my only distraction. And let’s be honest. We all lose focus occasionally (or once a day). Nearly everyone gets drawn into social media. Oh, and don’t forget the email panic where you check every 15 minutes just in case you have a note from a potential client.

But those are not even my biggest distractions. I do a lot of research. Let’s say I am researching bird of North America. I see that a bird is a native of a place I have thought would be a great spot for a vacation. My bird research leads to more personal research about a vacation destination. I waste 15 minutes before I snap back to reality. But hey, I am great at trivia!

So how do you overcome it? The truth is, you may never have a day when you are not distracted at least once or twice. But I have found some ways that work for me.

  • Work blocks–I have written about this before but it is a part of how I stay focused. I set aside a certain amount of time for each task I do. If I know I must complete a task in an hour, I am less likely to wonder to la-la land for 20 minutes.
  • When I need to be online, I only keep the tabs relevant to what I am working on active. I don’t want to know if an email is coming in or if I have a Facebook notification.
  • I work at home so it’s not just online distractions that can complicate my life. I often turn off my phone or hand it to my husband. I keep the door to my “office” closed for many tasks. I also have my desk facing a window and I have a group of birds and squirrels that love to put on a show for me every day. Sadly, some days I lower the blinds. I also try to limit personal conversations, even with the husband, during the work day.

Finally, if you have been around me you know I am a planner and a list maker. I always try to complete my to-do-list. And I try to reach the weekly goals outlined on my calendars.

This all sounds so easy but it is hard to do. How do you keep yourself from getting distracted?

50 ways to…(well almost)

I was in elementary school when Paul Simon came out with “50 Ways to Leave Your Lover.” I haven’t counted the number of ways in the song but I don’t think it was 50.

Today, business owners have almost as many ways to tell their story than Paul Simon had to leave his lover (not sure if he left her since they were sleeping on it in the last verse). Let’s just talk about 10.

  1. Your website. This is often the first impression you make on a customer. You can include many story-telling techniques on your site but make sure to include these pages–about, contact, homepage, landing page, etc… and make sure the pages are error free and well written.
  2. Blog. A blog is an easy way to share your uncensored thoughts about your company and industry (hint, you are reading one right now). The blog can help your search engine rankings. If you don’t have one, you can create one right here in WordPress and link it to your website. And if you don’t have a website, you can create one of those right here in WordPress, too.
  3. Press release. Newspapers are not dead and not everything is “fake news.” Your local media is a great partner in telling your story. Some newspapers, like the Kansas City Star, have a separate website for posting press releases. You can also use online distribution sites to reach a wider audience. Some of these do require a fee but some of them are free.
  4. Business announcement. I consider these different from press releases because you are targeting just the business section of a newspaper or magazine. These are sections that are like “Who’s Who in Business.” Do you have a new employee? Have you promoted an employee? Send in an announcement to a magazine or newspaper’s business section. It’s good for employee morale and for public relations.
  5. Case study. How has your company helped one of your customers? Case studies tell the story of how you met a challenge with a winning solution. A case study more than a testimonial–it’s a complete story. Companies post these on their websites and add them to their media kits.
  6. White papers. While case studies focus on a customer/client experience, white papers focus on the benefits of a product for customers. These are longer and are usually just used business to business. White papers require extensive research.
  7. Photographs. You don’t just have to tell your story with words. Instagram, Pinterest and other social media sites allow you to tell your story with pictures and captions.
  8. Videos. Once very expensive to make, prices have decreased for professional videos. If the video is going to be used for a recruitment or sales too, hire someone to produce it.
  9. Infographics. Sites like Canva have made it easy for marketers to produce graphics that are eye-catching. Make sure the infographic tells a story about your business.
  10. Podcasts allow you to listen anywhere–in your car, while working out, etc… If you don’t like your own voice, hire a voice-over professional.

You know you want to tell your story using one or more of these methods but you have no idea where to begin or what may work for you. That’s where I can help. If you have read this far, I will offer a 25 percent discount on my services if you sign before June 15. Click here to set up a free consultation.

Hear’s some writting to spank you’re interest

Obviously, the headline is full of mistakes. And I will be honest with you—mistakes happen. I have made some doozies. Thankfully, my biggest this week was replying to a client’s note and signing his name at the end instead of mine. Here are some I have made and some I have prayed I wouldn’t make!

  1. I once sent off a pitch offering to spank someone’s interest. Sorry, I don’t want to spank anyone. But I am sure I may have sparked their interest.
  2. A client was looking for someone with a lot of sass in their writing. I sent him a reply saying I had lot of….well just remove the “s.”
  3. I can’t tell you how many times I have changed the “o” in shot to and “i.” A shooting is bad enough but the other?
  4. I once had a group of cyclists training 8 days a week. Thank you, Beatles.
  5. A college in my town had Angus beef sales on occasion. I had to be careful to not leave out the “g.”
  6. Also, be careful how you spell “public” area.

Side note, I once attracted a lot of porn followers on my website and social media accounts because I had two articles where I mentioned the work cock a few times. Get your minds out of the gutter. I wrote articles for a magazine in the chicken industry a few years ago.

I am sure some of my colleagues can remember some more of my blunders. But they happen and you have to pick yourself up and move on from them.

What mistakes have you made or seen? Leave them in the comments for a future post!

Have a great day!

Kim J

Priceless

I purposely positioned my desk in front of the window so I can raise it most mornings and listen to the birds sing. A woodpecker joined the tunes today. The sound of the train through my little town provided some background music every hour or so.

Among the robins, sparrows and blue jays, two cardinals were playing in the trees. The cardinals are my favorite birds because they represent so many things—faith, vitality and creativity. Some say they represent loved ones who have passed away. This thought gives me comfort that my parents are free and playful as the birds.

I am not writing about very exciting subjects today. But the inspiration outside my window is priceless.

A few years and several hair colors ago

I have been writing professionally for more years than I am going to admit. I want to keep up the ruse that I am 35. But I have a big birthday this month and let’s just say I am not 35.

Like some women, I have been through many hairstyles and colors. So when I referred a possible client to some samples, I noticed my hair looks totally different than it does today.  I am a natural dirty blond. Through the years my hair has been dark brown, light blond and even red. So how did I describe the different look? “A few years and several hair colors ago I was a contributor to a legal blogging site.”

I haven’t heard back from my proposal. I hope the client was impressed by my cleverness!

Have a happy day!

Kim J

548051_4397151854169_1786012391_n

P.S. This picture is 8 years old from my “long, brown hair” phase.

Just doing it

I have been doing this freelance writing thing since 2003–almost 14 years! For a couple of years, it was all I did. And it’s hard. But I have met some wonderful people and written some pieces that give me pride.

The last 10, yes, 10 months of 2016 were some of the hardest I have experienced personally and professionally. As I approach a “big” birthday this spring, I knew I wanted to really do more freelance writing for financial and professional reasons–a dream of mine for more than 20 years. I stopped bidding on those low-paying job sites and signed up for the Carol Tice’s Freelance Writers Den. I snagged a great magazine gig and several other assignments.

But remember, I said those were hard. I lost my mother-in-law, then my mother and then my father. I kept up okay until my father became very sick in the fall and then passed away. Losing daddy took the wind out of my sails.

Thankfully, I had clients who were patient and understood. I still have a full-time broadcasting gig I go to very early day. My writing career suffered.

Now I am getting back on track–a track I couldn’t even see a couple of months ago. I am dreaming again and I have snagged a few more assignments.

I have also had a mortifying moment. I sent a draft, not my finished product, to a client. Not just any client but one I really wanted to impress. I didn’t realize it until she sent back some edits. Sadly, I struggled for a couple of hours before I realized what I had done. She was cool with it and said she had done that once herself.

I think my defining moment came on my other blog, kimjinspired.com. I shared more on my grief and my life since my parent’s death. I cried while writing it and I cry when I read it again. But I hear my mother’s voice telling me in her own way just to do it. So here I am, getting it done and hopefully making my parents proud.