Confession: This Stuff is Hard

This past Sunday I had a to-do list the length of my arm. Over at SoapPrizes, we are gearing up for our holiday season by rolling out new soaps, prepping for upcoming shows, and announcing a new line of home fragrances. I know I am not unlike a lot of small business owners this time of year. It is actually that thought of solidarity that kept me motivated throughout the day. Well that, a lot of coffee and some of my daughter’s Halloween candy.

All this activity meant creating a ton of content including:

  • Product descriptions for the website
  • Photos of all the new products for the website, newsletter and social media
  • A video by my daughter introducing our new soaps
  • Blog posts introducing our new line
  • Email newsletter to provide an update to our mailing list

When you are a one- or few-person-show, all this content creation can be totally overwhelming to tackle on top of the production of your product or service, and the general operations needed to keep the business running. It is hard and takes a lot of time, but it is very important for the promotion your great products.

Here are a few tips that I put into use over the weekend:

1. Create content that can be reused across your different tools. Product descriptions can be used as a script for a video. Blog posts can be reused in an email newsletter by providing a exert in the newsletter and link to the post.

2. Plan your photo shoot. Setting up my make-shift photo studio to take product pictures takes a bit of time, so I don’t like to set it up very often. For this reason, I try to think of all the scenarios I may need images for and write them down. This allows me to take and edit all my pictures at one time. This saves me down the road because I now have my own library of product shots to use on the website, social media, wholesale catalog, etc.

3. Create a promotional or editorial calendar to help you plan out your content over time. This will allow you to set some time aside to create the content needed rather than going into panic mode because you forgot to get an email out about an upcoming promotion. Not that I have ever done this 😉

So yes, creating all this content can be hard and overwhelming, but with some planning you can do it effectively. It is my goal to share with you the strategies and tools that I find effective for myself and my clients. I have some pretty big plans for 2014 to accomplish this goal, so I hope you stick around.

What is Your Blue Chair?

BlueChairKenny Chesney has a song called Old Blue Chair where he describes a beach chair that he has spent a lot of time in thinking, writing songs, reading and even sleeping. This got me to thinking that as business owners we often have a place that helps us to refocus, recharge and brainstorm. While we all wish our blue chair was on a beach in some beautiful location like Kenny’s, it is probably some place much closer to home.

Some people go running to gain that moment of clarity. Others find inspiration in the shower. The great outdoors has always helped me. In college it was the overlook at Coopers Rock State Forest. There was something about that view that made me realize how small my problems truly were and allowed me to regain a positive attitude. The amazing scenery also was very conducive to creative thinking.

When I worked at Netscape in California, I would get away to Monterey and spend some time looking at the ocean. Water has always had a calming effect on me. I would top off the trip with a hot fudge sundae at Ghirardelli. The combination of the drive and destination would help me clear my mind and feel re-energized.

Now that I live in Maryland (not near the coast) it isn’t so much a destination as much as it is getting away from all technology. Nine times out of 10 this means taking a drive through country roads playing my favorite music and singing along. This past summer I purchased a Jeep Wrangler, so getting out on the road with the top down has become even more therapeutic for me.

I strongly believe that you have to get away from everything from time to time in order to clear your mind, think more creatively and relax. We are hit with so many stimuli on a daily basis, that in order to really be creative and grow your business, you need to unplug once and awhile. Your turn. I would love to hear what is your “blue chair”.