Posts Categorized: Small business advice

How To Juggle A Blog + A Freelance Career + A Day Job + Life

Dear Sarah,
I am right now working on my own website and trying to cobble together a little freelance writing business. I was just wondering if you could speak to HOW YOU DO ALL THE THINGS? And HOW YOU DID ALL THOSE THINGS WHILE ALSO WORKING FULL-TIME?  I frequently look over my To Do List and there’s like eleventy jillion things on it. I mean, writing that list is exhausting enough. And then DOING it? And THEN trying to get clients to find me, let alone HIRE ME?!
- Lauren

Oh, girl.  I hear you.  For those of you who don’t know, when I first started Yes and Yes, I worked full time as an ESL teacher.  Back then I taught, blogged seven days a week, and took freelance clients.  Now I ‘just’ blog seven days a week and take freelance clients.  It’s way easier.  Here are some of the things I’ve learned along the way.

Write less, promote more
I blog seven days a week because I have So Many Things To Talk About, but you totally don’t need to! Set an editorial calendar (Tuesday and Thursdays at 6 am, for example) and stick to it.  Write two great blog posts each week and then promote the sweet bejesus out of them.  Because of the way we use Twitter, it’s possible to tweet about something three times a day for four days without anyone really noticing or getting annoyed.  But!  Make sure you’re writing different tweets each time.  This will keep your Twitter stream fresh and will attract different readers.

Stop writing everything on your blog yourself
On Yes and Yes, I have four post series that I don’t write myself - True Story interviews, Real Life Style Icons, Mini Travel Guides, and the occasional guest post.  And on this blog, I also host guest posts and will start doing interviews soon.  These posts cross pollinate my readers with my guest posters’ readers, bring in fresh content, and save me tons and tons of time.

Also!  If you write a blog post for someone else and it works with the content of your blog, re-post it on your blog a few months after they’ve used it as a guest post.  Of course, include a little intro noting that it was originally a guest post for So-and-So and that your readers should really go check out their blog.

Schedule everything
Devote a few hours at the beginning of the month to scheduling.  Write and schedule the blog posts for your own blog.  Schedule client invoices.  Use Hootsuite to schedule Twitter and Facebook updates.  If your email host offers the option (mine does) schedule emails to clients.   I love being able to schedule things months into the future and then forget about them.  Life changing.

Create boundaries
If you live with roommates or have a partner, make sure they understand what you’re trying to accomplish with your freelance career.  Don’t let them guilt trip you into a night out when you’ve got a deadline.  Don’t tolerate any “You’re no fuuuuuunnn!” BS.  Create a set of ‘collaboration guidelines’ for any on-going clients.  Mine are: limit emails to 2 a day, no unscheduled phone calls, pay 100% up front till we’ve worked together for three months.  Of course, make sure your client tells you how they work best as well, so you don’t seem like a terrible prima donna!

Get seriously productive
Make lists, use the Pomodoro technique, download Leechblock.  Turn off your phone and gchat.  If you remember an important task and it’ll take less than five minutes, just do it now.  It’s worth freeing up that brain space so you can stop thinking “Oh, right!  I have to remember to send a follow up email to that editor!”

Realize you’ll have to make sacrifices
Know that in order to make this happen, you’ll have to miss some parties.  You might have to pull some all-nighters.  Maybe you’ll have to give up your $5 coffees.  For the first two years of Yes and Yes, I spent every lunch hour, every weekday, networking with other bloggers.  That’s 45 minutes a day, 5 days a week, for 2 years.   If my math is right, that’s 375 hours that I did NOT spend picnicing in the park or trying the good Thai place down the street.   But now I get to picnic all I want!

Cut a few corners now and then
You’re going to be really busy getting your career going.  That doesn’t mean you should drop out of the rest of your life, but it does mean you might have to cut some corners.  Buy something at the deli to bring to the potluck, buy gift cards in bulk for Christmas, buy a case of wine so you won’t have to stop at the liquor store every time you’re invited to a dinner party.  Resist the urge to drink all the wine yourself.

Remember that you have a life outside of work - and your work will probably suffer if you drop out of your life
As busy as you are, make time for your friends + family + partner.  Get outside.  Unplug.  Go to art galleries and concerts and costume parties and stupid movies.  If you don’t give yourself a chance to recharge, you won’t have any energy to take over the world.

How do you guys juggle it all?  Any apps/platforms/techniques I’m missing?

P.S. Did you know that when you sign up for my newsletter and send me your URL, I’ll give your site a once over and send you three, specific-to-you suggestions to make your online space more polished, trafficked, and money-making?

original image (without text on top) by art photos diana, for sale here.

Why You Need An Email Newsletter

This guest post comes to us via the lovely and talented Amanda Genther, designer and brand developer.  In addition to helping creative entrepreneurs better their brands, she has the single best Facebook page I’ve ever seen.  Like, I want to copy every aspect of it.

you need an email newsletter

Choose one of the following. Are you:
A. A small creative business who provides creative services
B. A small creative business owner who provides products
C. A small creative business owner who provides services & products

Well, whichever you choose, the answer is the same. You SHOULD have a monthly newsletter  for your small creative business.

I can’t stress to my clients enough how important it is to be providing an opt-in box to your readers, clients and customers.

A monthly (at least) newsletter is key to staying in communication with the people who want to keep up with you! There are probably a good group of customers out there who want to know when you’re new product line launches. Or they want to know which conference you’ll be speaking at next. All items that continue to build a relationship with your audience. KEY!

Here are my top 5 reasons why your creative business should have a monthly newsletter:

Continually putting your business name in front of your prospects is the most important way to ensure that you stay in business. Your newsletter should be thought of as another marketing tool, but a marketing tool that your customers ACTUALLY signed up for, so obviously they want to see it.

Do you have a seasonal product line launching soon? Are you moving your business to another state? One key way to make sure that your most loyal customers and clients are up-to-date is to announce it in a newsletter.

The best way to provide valuable information in your newsletter is to expand on a topic of interest. This is your opportunity to go into more detail than you would on your blog, and give your readers the nitty-gritty of the subject. Make sure you communicate this benefit of signing up for the  newsletter, because you want to give people a reason to sign up.  Another way to increase sign-ups is to offer a product, such as an e-book download on the topic of your expertise.

The more you can get your brand style in front of people, the more often they’ll recognize it’s your work without even seeing your name.

Because your email newsletter is delivered straight to your reader’s email, it emulates a more personal form of communication than any of your other marketing tools.  Use this opportunity to build your relationship with your clients and prospects.

Do you have an email newsletter?  What’s stopping you?

photo by  // cc

3 Self-Promotional Blog Posts That Don’t Feel Gross

I originally wrote this as a guest post for the awesome Michelle Ward, of When I Grow Up fame.  Pop over and check out her blog full of helpful, crazy useful posts about business, self-employment, and dream fulfillment.

Promoting Yourself Online

You’re a clever, engaged, self-starting type of person.  So you obviously have a blog for your small business or consulting practice.  And you use it to network with your peers, showcase your expertise, and share juicy behind-the-curtain secrets of your work.


You don’t quite know how to actually promote yourself and your goods/services on your blog.  You’ve tried and it just comes out sounding like hard-sell malarkey.  Which is totally not your jam.

No worries!  Here are three ideas for blog posts that will promote you + your stuff without making you blush.

1. The ‘Why I Charge This Much’ Post (For: Everyone)
Gosh, but we all love transparency.  And we love it even more when it comes from someone whose prices are a bit more than we’re used to paying.  But the general public doesn’t understand the scope of the work that goes into photographing a wedding/sewing a dress/creating a logo.  Share your work process, your time frame, and – most importantly – all the benefits they reap from working with you.

 2. The ‘How This Works’ Post (For: Coaches, therapists, consultants)
If someone hasn’t worked with a coach or consultant before, the entire process can be really intimidating and weird.  “Do we just talk on the phone?  What’s the deal with this group class?  How is this different than talking to my best friend?”

Ask a favorite client if you can record – either on video or audio – one of your sessions.  Potential customers can see and hear how the sessions work and witness first hand exactly how awesome you are.

3.  The ‘These Are My Products In Action’ Post (For: Everyone)
People want to know that if they’re giving your their hard earned money, they’re going to look amazing/find their dream job/have a perfectly organized closet.  Of course, you have a testimonials page that says all that, but photos and links speak louder than adjectives.

If you’re a fashion label that specializes in easy-wear dresses, assemble a photo post of customers wearing your dresses while traveling.  If you’re a dating coach, you could craft a post filled with photos of happy couples you helped unite.  Designer?  You need a post of your five most recent logo designs.  A business consultant can write a post devoted to all her clients’ new offerings and business accomplishments.  And as always: add a call to action at the end of the post, linking to your services page.  But you already knew that, right?

See?  That wasn’t too painful or embarrassing, was it?  Now get out there and start (classily, cleverly) self-promoting!

How do you promote your products + offerings in a way that doesn’t feel gross? Tell me the comments - we’d all benefit from sharing our best stuff!

P.S. Did you know that when you sign up for my newsletter and send me your URL, I’ll give your site a once over and send you three, specific-to-you suggestions to make your online space more polished, trafficked, and money-making?

image by Black Apple, for sale here