Happy February! I have to be honest with you… Ever since I had gone back to doing a 9 to 5 job, my ability to keep my life in order has decreased, significantly. Now don’t get me wrong, when I was only doing freelance writing for a year, I had never worked so hard in my life. I was putting in 16 hour days just trying to learn what I was doing all while doing what was often low paying writing work. It was hard, but I loved it. To be honest, it never really felt like hard work. I was just learning a lot of new and interesting stuff that invigorated me so much that the long days literally just flew by. However when I was offered my current temporary job as an editor, I thought it would be easy to just plug in my business during the evening hours. I was soooo wrong…
Surviving the 9 to 5 Hustle
I edit standardized test questions for my local K-12 school system (boring, I know…). However in some ways it’s a great gig because my work is not complicated, just tedious. The pay is decent. I don’t have to sit through anybody’s ridiculous meetings about shit we discussed a million times already (as is the norm in education settings…). I never have to come in early, stay late, or take work home with me. I pretty much show up, do what’s asked of me, then bounce at 4:30pm.
What I did not plan for is how much my brain would be fatigued at the end of the day. When creating content is your love, it’s kind of difficult to come home after a day of fixing jacked up sentences written by supposedly educated teachers in charge of Florida’s future (God help us all…). To be honest, by the end of the day, my creativity is shot. However, I have no choice but to pull it together because June 30th will be my final day there. The grant that pays for my position will be complete and to be honest, I am not interested in continuing with the project even if I was offered the opportunity. For some strange reason, I enjoy having lunch breaks longer than 30 minutes (what happened to labor laws???).
So now that I see an end to this job in the near horizon, it means that I have to get my ass in gear so that my business will be in a much better position in June 2015 than it was in June 2014 when I started.
I know that many of you may be in this same 9 to 5 limbo. You want to give your all to your wellness business, but your day job is sucking the life out of you. So here are a few keys to keeping your writing productivity on track so that you can get more quality outcomes out of the few hours you do have to put towards your passion.
- Writing Productivity Hack #1: Go to Bed Early, Then Wake Up Early. I know some of you may not be morning people. Hell, sometimes I don’t think that I am either. However waking up at 4am gives me a solid 2 hours of the day to devote to my business before my brain gets jumbled up with other people’s stuff. My hubby doesn’t bother me because he’s sleep. I don’t bother to check on email. I only focus on one or two projects that require my undivided attention. And you know what? Shit gets done! I feel good about what I got completed. And I can go on about my day on a high note, which of course carries on throughout the day. Stop giving the best of your brain to your employer. Wake up early (which also means you have to go to bed early, which is about 9pm for me.) and see just how much more productive you can be.
- Writing Productivity Hack #2: Outsource the Activities You Don’t Want to Do or Don’t Do Well. I have to thank my mentor, Dr. Venus Opal Reese, for this tip. Her latest blog post talks about black women’s need to be strong and how it keeps us from growing our money. I took that to mean I need to start outsourcing the stuff I don’t want to do, or don’t do particularly well. And it doesn’t have to be something within your business either. I have heard other entrepreneurs say that their business productivity went up the moment they hired cleaning help. So that’s what I did. This past Monday, I paid a local woman $35 to come in and clean my 500 square foot apartment from top to bottom. This has been the best money I have spent in years. I walked in from work after she had done her magic and the whole place smelled like rosemary essential oil. Everything was in its place. The bathroom was so clean, I could eat off the floor. My hubby’s dialysis supplies (which take up what seems like half the space of the apartment at times) was neatly put away in the walk-in closet where I don’t have to look at it. The clutter from the corners was gone. I could think again. I was able to sit down at my writing space and begin to write and plan content. So why didn’t I do this earlier? I somehow thought that having someone clean for you was for the rich and famous. Naahhh! Hiring someone to clean for you is for people who need to get stuff done and don’t have the time to sit there and figure it out by themselves. I’m thinking about outsourcing all kinds of other stuff in my business: social media, marketing emails, website development, etc.
- Writing Productivity Hack #3: Reclaim Your Writing Space. My hubby created that beautiful sign you see at the top of this blog post. He’s a carpenter and decided he wanted to make me a sign for my writing space. Garlic & Lemons Media Group is the official name of my company. Having that sign in the corner lets me and others know that this is my work space and it should be respected as such. This is not a place for you to eat your dinner, dump your junk mail, or put your feet up. In such a small apartment, it may be difficult to decipher between personal and work space. This sign does it for me. I also have a small shelf of products, photos, and other items from women I admire. My favorite is a piece of a greeting card written by my mom who has passed on. It says: “With Love, Mom.” I may be 37 years old, but I still need my mama. So I like to keep her handwritten note close by. My writing space is also directly across from a big window where I get to look at trees, rolling hills, and a pond filled with ducks and other Florida birds. It’s simply beautiful. Is your writing space covered up with laundry, old papers, and dust? How does that affect your ability to create? What can you do to reclaim your writing space?
So that’s what I have for you this week! Are any of these hacks helpful for you? Do you want some help implementing any of these productivity hacks so you can get your book done? You’re in luck! We are in the last days of my complementary Author Jam Session. Right now, you can set up a 15-minute session for no charge by sending me an email to info@HalonaBlack.com. This will only last through the end of February 2015. Starting March 1st, these sessions will be longer and for a fee. So come on and set up your complementary session! I love to hear from you. And people really are taking what they learn from their sessions and implementing what they learned. Clarity is great that way!
Friday is finally here and I wanted to share with you my #FRIDAYFIND. When it comes to self publishing in the wellness arena, you want to make sure that your information is current and valuable to your clients. That’s why #FRIDAYFIND is all about bringing you the best people, tools, books, and services that can help you make sure your wellness publishing is polished and professional. Read on for today’s #FRIDAYFIND!
Resource: Communicate Health
What it is: a company that helps their clients create health focused services and products that can be accessed, understood, and used by the people who need them most.
Why I love it: Their weekly blog posts are filled with practical health literacy tips you can use to improve how you communicate with your clients online, in print, and in-person. For example, did you know that 1/2 of online health research is done by someone else? Do you have any printable resources they may be able to share with their loved ones? Sign up on their website for more valuable tips.
Connect: Find them on Twitter @CommunicateHlth
Self publishing is becoming an even bigger business than traditional publishing avenues and I want to see more wellness experts take advantage of it. Some of you may be turned off by it because it may seem like it’s time consuming, expensive, and not as well respected as traditional publishing. However I beg to differ. So I want to share 4 reasons why you need to be planning your self publishing empire right now.
- Branding. Let’s face it. Wellness is a huge industry ($3.4 trillion, to be exact…). There are more health coaches, yoga teachers, and spiritual gurus than we may care to admit. However, it’s all good because I believe there is more than enough space for all of us to be successful. This becomes even more true as more people become enlightened about improving their own health. But how do you differentiate yourself in a sea of wellness experts, many of whom may be in the same line of work as yourself? BRANDING! A professionally done, self published book may feel complicated, but it’s definitely do-able when you have a guide and a plan to help you through the process.
- Create your own income streams. If you’re still doing the trading dollars for hours dance, I have good news for you! Self publishing gives you new ways to create income you put together once, then generally don’t have to think about it again. Every book or ebook can be its own income stream. Start thinking book series. Classes based on books. Speaking opportunities gained from writing books on your topic of expertise. Can you visualize the checks going straight to your bank account? I sure can…
- Develop your PR machine. The whole world runs on content. Without content, there would be no newspapers, no radio, no podcasts, no blogs, no magazines, etc. And while you may believe that your local news station gets paid to chase car crashes and robberies (though it’s not that far from the truth…), it’s not the only thing they do. Much of what media, small and large alike, report on is information that was pitched to them. They may receive press releases from local businesses, a request to write a guest blog post, a pitch to be a guest on a podcast, etc. Your books provide plenty of content to offer busy media professionals who are looking for something interesting to talk about.
- Say what you want to say, how you want to say it. Well, almost… When it comes to wellness there are some restrictions on how you can present your information depending upon your credentials and where you live. For example, some food advice I see a few health coaches give on their blogs often tread into medical advice — which is dangerous. However the reason many of us got into wellness in the first place is because we knew there was another way of living healthfully that didn’t always have to involve pharmaceutical drugs and surgery. And you can promote that very message with your self published books. You are in control of your content and how you present it.
If you are waiting for a traditional publishing house to come knocking down your door — God bless you. The truth of the matter is, you may be waiting a long time. I won’t tell you it won’t ever happen. However if you’re sitting around waiting for a career to happen to you, well your business probably isn’t doing much anyway.
So take the bull by the horns and push that SELF PUBLISH button! Who knows… It’s not unheard of for traditional publishers to be interested in publishing a traditional book with wellness experts once they’ve proven they have an audience. So go ahead and make your future happen today!
Do you have an idea for a self published book, but don’t know what to do next? Sign up for your complimentary Author Jam Session by emailing me at info@HalonaBlack.com.
What am I Writing This Month?
My Book Writing Process
- Target book publishing date: January 1, 2015
- How many people do I want to interview: 10 wellness professionals, 5 to 10 women with fibroids.
- Make a list of the 10 wellness professionals I want to interview. What makes each individual special?
- Construct a personal email to each of the wellness professionals.
- Send the emails and begin organizing interviews.
- Announce the book to my email list and ask for people who may want to be interviewed.
- Ask my list for pre-orders for only $5.
- Begin crafting the book as I complete each interview.
Will You Join Me for WNFIN?
- Teach your readers how to complete a process from start to finish.
- Take your most popular blog post or posts and use that as a starting point for a book.
- Tell a story or stories about how you were able to solve a problem for your client.
- Got materials from a presentation or workshop? Turn that into a book!
- Interview leaders in your field about their personal business secrets. Transcribe them and make a book.
- Share your favorite holiday recipes along with tips for healthful eating during the most stressful time of year.
- Answer the most popular questions your clients have about how you can make their lives better.
The only way to write your book is to put one foot in front of the other, carve out the time in your schedule to get some stuff done, and just write. There’s no magic fairy dust. You just have to sit and do the work.
I will be sure to update on my journey to publishing my second book.
What are you writing this month?
Welcome to the first installment of #healthtechwriter Tuesday! Technology is proving to be so important to a writer’s life that I wanted to give you some of my own suggestions on what tools you can use in your health and wellness business to help you remain productive.
Evernote for Nonfiction Writers
You may have heard of Evernote (unless you’ve been living under a rock…). But in any case, Evernote is a great productivity tool for wellness business owners who want to keep their writing on track.
Evernote is an online notetaking and archival system that can be used for organizing anything from your healthy recipes, to your wellness blog posts, to even your ideas for writing your book.
How I Use Evernote on a Daily Basis
Inspiration for a blog post or a future book can hit at any moment. And you want to make sure you are ready to capture these moments or risk losing them forever.
What you see in the above photo are a few of the notebooks I have kept in the year 2014 alone. All those brilliant brainstorms archived with a simple pad and paper. I’ve got a notebook for my daily to do list. I’ve got another notebook for my women’s health blog, Still yet another notebook for personal thoughts.
The problem comes when I get ready to actually RETRIEVE some of those brilliant brainstorms. Sometimes I date the pages — most times I don’t. So then I am left sitting around thinking where was I when I was writing these thoughts — perhaps that will help to jog my memory. But it never works.
Evernote helps me to retrieve those brainstorms. What Evernote does so brilliantly is that it takes away the need to purchase separate notebooks for every project you work on. With Evernote, you are able to create a “new” notebook in the same way you would create a file folder on your laptop. You can see how the pile of notebooks (seen in the above photo) turn into a list of neat notebooks I can easily retrieve when I get ready to use them (see photo below).
I’ve got a “notebook” for my copywriting coaching program with Ed Gandia called B2B Business Launcher. Then I’ve got notebooks for my blogs. Then there is a general notebook for random thoughts. Then, of course, my daily to do list.
There is no “wrong” or “right” way to organize your notebooks. Feel free to organize your notebooks any way you see fit.
How to Use Tags to Organize Your Notebooks
Evernote allows you to use tags in the same way you would use in WordPress or a bookmarking system would. Tags are keywords that you can use to help you find notes that are similar to each other. For example, I may want to retrieve all my notes pertaining to book ideas that may be spread across several notebooks. As long as I tag the post with the keywords, “book ideas,” I will be able to pull it up. So much simpler than trying to go through pages and pages of written notes.
Other great uses for evernote
For those of you who are big on developing recipes, then you will love Evernote. You can upload your photos and create a notebook for all the different types of recipes you create.
If you are conducting interviews for your blog or book, you can upload video and audio interviews into its own notebook (or however you choose to organize it) along with notes from your session. Got an audio transcript? Throw that in there too!
See a blog post or a website you’d like to share at a later date? Save it in Evernote!
Want an easy way to keep track of your business receipts? Evernote can save it for you.
Do you need to take notes from a white board or even a handout? Take a photo of it with your phone and upload to Evernote.
Can Evernote Replace Pen and Paper?
For me, Evernote will never replace pen and paper. I love using pen and paper for big brainstorming projects. There is something about using my hands to do the rough work of just getting my thoughts on paper.
However when I get ready to take those ideas and organize them into a neat package, Evernote becomes my step #2! Again, the ability to retrieve these brilliant brainstorms is where I see the most value in Evernote for nonfiction writers, whether you are blogging or writing your next book.
How to get evernote on your device
If you are ready to give Evernote a try, you can head over to their website. Sign up for an account there and immediately get to work (did I tell you it’s FREE?). You can also download it to any of your devices like your phone or tablet so you can access it on the go.
How do you see Evernote helping you to write your health and wellness books and/or blog posts?
One of the first steps to becoming a successful wellness authorpreneur is to have an author platform. For many wellness authorpreneurs, the base of that author platform is your blog.
I’ve been doing my Author Jam Sessions (get your FREE 30 min session through September 30, 2014) since this summer and I have noticed a trend. Many of you want to write better blog posts, however you really don’t know how. Writing has always been very easy to me, so I want to share with you a formula that you can use every time you sit down to write. I worked as a writing instructor to adult learners for many years and I likened writing essays — or even blog posts — to building a hamburger. What does a hamburger have to do with blogging? Read on to find out.
1) Define Your Blog Post Topic
Many health and wellness bloggers try to accomplish too much in one blog post. Let’s bring back the hamburger analogy. The main part of your burger is the meat itself (or perhaps a black bean burger for my vegetarians…). Without the meat, your burger has no substance. The same thing with your blog post. If your blog post has no main topic, your blog post has no substance: it becomes difficult to read and understand. Decide on one topic and stick to it.
When choosing a topic, it may be difficult to narrow your topic down to something that is manageable. Check out this example of a health topic that may be too large to attack in one simple blog post:
- “How to Find Healthy Recipes on Social Media” — While this may seem simple and to the point, the topic is simply too broad. Using our burger analogy, it’s like trying to eat the a ten pound burger — it’s just too much. When people go online, they are seeking very specific information that speaks to their problem. Do you focus on paleo recipes, recipes for diabetics, or maybe healthy eating tips for people with gluten sensitivity? Tell us that in the title. Also, you may want to focus on a particular kind of social media as tackling social media as a whole may leave you with enough material to write several books.
Here’s how you can hone in on a more specific topic for your blog post:
- “Top 5 Gluten Free Recipe Bloggers on Pinterest” — This title is more like a slider when compared to a burger — it’s bite sized that is much more manageable to eat. This title is very specific about the kind of recipes it will feature in the blog post. This title will immediately grab those who are specifically looking for information on gluten free recipes. It also specifies where in social media you will be pulling your bloggers from. Try to be as specific as possible about what you want to share with your readers from the very beginning so that you can stay on topic.
2) Decide How Your Blog Post will Help readers
You always want your blog posts to help your readers in a way that only you can. Using the burger analogy, you know that every restaurant that serves burgers does it in their own unique way. A burger served to you from a drive-thru window will be much different from a burger served at a sit-down restaurant that makes burgers using grass fed beef. The same thing applies to your blog post topic. You have to know what it is your readers are looking for when they come to you. Even if you are writing about a topic that has been written about a million times, what angle can you take on the topic to make it useful for your readers? When you are helpful, readers will mark your site as a helpful space so that when they need you, they will return for more. You are also using your blog posts to build trust and familiarity so that they will buy your books, ebooks, consulting services, etc. If they believe that your free information is great, then they will LOVE the stuff that they pay for.
3) Create an Outline
Now that we have established what we want to write about and understand how it will help our readers, we can get to work! The next step is to write an outline of the points you want to make in your blog post. To avoid overwhelm in your writing, try to stick to 3 to 5 main points. In the case of the above example of the top 5 gluten free recipe bloggers on Pinterest, you will have 5 short paragraphs discussing each blogger.
4) Write Your Blog Post Details
Now that you know the 3 to 5 points you want to cover, you can now go back and fill in your details in each point. What are details? Using the burger analogy once again, your blog post details are like your burger condiments. Not many people want to eat a dry burger. They may want lettuce, ketchup, jalapenos, etc. This is the stuff that makes the burger more interesting. The same thing with your details. Give the reader a few more thoughts that demonstrate your unique approach to the topic.
5) Write Your Introduction and Conclusion Last
Once you have completed your details, you may now write your introduction and your conclusion. Your introduction should be simple and to the point. Tell us who you are speaking to and what they should expect to learn from reading your post. One thing that many health bloggers forget is that every time you write a new post, you are not only speaking to readers that know and love you, but you are also introducing yourself to new readers. Don’t assume that the reader knows who you are and what your blog is about. You can use this very blog post as an example. I mentioned the fact that I write for wellness authorpreneurs who want to build a blog as part of their author platform — very specific. I’m not speaking to all entrepreneurs under the sun — I am specifically speaking to wellness entrepreneurs who want to eventually write a book.
Do you have questions about how to write a blog post so that you can start building your health author platform?
I remember some years back when I made a conscious decision to become an entrepreneur. I was tired of the rat race. At the time I was working with adult students at a computer training school. Don’t get me wrong — I loved my students. However I couldn’t help but to feel strange about preparing other people for jobs that were paying twice what I was getting paid in my own job. I had gone to college, graduated, I had no children, and at the time was planning to go to graduate school. I had done all the things I was told would lead a young black woman to success in life. Yet somehow I found myself exhausted and dissatisfied with my life.
That was when I decided that there had to be an easier way to make money. I decided to become an entrepreneur. Mind you, I knew no entrepreneurs. I come from a family of hard workers who’d worked since they were teenagers taking very few vacations or sick days. Entrepreneurship represented freedom; it was an opportunity to design my day the way I chose to rather than be called to work like cattle during the day, nights, and weekends.
From Decision to Progress
I had no idea how to start a business. I just knew that business owners had business cards. And a website. I bought business cards online and called myself an Adult Education Consultant. I wasn’t quite clear on what services I would offer. But I was confident that somebody would pay me to do something. And the website — somebody told me about WordPress and I decided to check it out. That blog had gone through several incarnations. However what I created eventually wound up looking like this: The First Teacher Framework.
I had made the leap! I now had options. I no longer had to live my life counting down to retirement in 40 years. I no longer was waiting for the next big promotion so that I can make a few dollars more per hour in exchange for heavier responsibility and an extra 10+ work hours per week. Although I had no clients, no services, and no clout just declaring that I was a consultant on my business card and website made it so. I needed no one else’s permission.
Stop Aspiring and Just Write That Book!
I see the same thing in many of you who want to write books. You’ve got big dreams to move the world with your message. You want to help people eat better. You want people to have the courage to live their dreams. But they aren’t because they are waiting on you to finally write that book that you’ve been saying you were going to write for years. I want you to take the same leap of faith to become an author in the same way I took a leap of faith to move towards entrepreneurship. Just write something. If a book seems too daunting, start a blog. If you don’t have a blog, open up a Word document, Google Doc, or even a 5-subject notebook and keep track of your ideas. Writing is what makes you an author. Let’s stop wishing and hoping that one day we’ll find the courage. Let’s stop waiting to be inspired. Let’s stop worrying about what others will say. Just write something already.
- How do I know what to write about?
- How do I know if anyone is interested in my topic?
- How do I start writing a full length book?
Both answers can leave aspiring authors in a state of panic. However they often miss the one question that puts everything into perspective…
WHO’S GOING TO BUY THE BOOK???
Most aspiring authors may have a passion or a glimpse of an idea that they think would make a great contribution to the world, however they often never think about WHO or HOW they are going to sell the book.
Creating an Author Platform
Whether you are a business owner, a speaker, healer, coach, or an expert of some kind and you have dreams of writing a book, then you are going to need to have an author platform. What is an author platform? An author platform is your online space where you create relationships with people who want to read what you have to say.
An author platform can consist of:
- a self-hosted WordPress website with a blog
- a system to cultivate an email list
- 1 or more social media outlets to disseminate your voice to a broader audience
Why You Need an Author Platform
An author platform is particularly important to aspiring authors for a number of reasons:
- It allows you to build an audience of readers who will buy your book when it’s ready. Whether you have a business — or you just have an idea for a business — it makes no sense to put the time and energy into a book that no one but your Grandma will buy. Business owners think strategically. Think of your platform as a tool to grow your business or to further your message. You will know when it’s time to write that book.
- It gives you the space to find out what your audience is interested in buying for very little cash investment. Writing, publishing, and marketing a book — whether it’s a paperback or an ebook — takes considerable investment of time and money. You don’t want to invest your time and money in the wrong activity. Any good business owner will do their research to find out whether or not there is an audience for the message or product they want to deliver before actually putting it out on the market.
- It gives you time to practice developing a voice that is uniquely you. I remember writing my first few blog posts over 10 years ago. I didn’t have a book in mind at the time, I was simply blogging to increase my professional status as an adult educator in Washington, DC. I agonized over every word, sentence, and punctuation mark. I wanted it to be right. And you know what? A lot of what I wrote for the first few months was downright terrible! But I had to work through the process of developing my own unique voice that eventually led me to job offers, a few consulting gigs, and a great professional network that I am still connected to today.
Take the time to invest in building your author platform before you start writing your book. I guarantee that as you build your platform, your ideas about what you want to write about and how you want to present it to the world will be much more enriched because you did the hard work BEFORE jumping into writing a book.
Do you have questions about creating an author platform? Ask away in the comments below!
Can you believe it’s June already! The first half of the year is almost over and I have been so busy writing and planning my own health book empire. I have been participating in D’vorah Lansky’s Book Marketing Challenge. If you are looking for new ways to market your book — whether your book is already published, or you are mulling over what to write about — I suggest you hop over there and take a look at the 30 days of blog posts that are chock full of great information that you can use IMMEDIATELY to get your book marketing going. A few of my favorites include:
- Harness the Power of Your Amazon Author Page by D’vorah Lansky
- How to SEO Optimize Your Amazon Book Listing by David Wogahn
- Harnessing the Power of Goodreads by Penny Sansevieri
What participating in this challenge has shown me is that I have a great passion for book publishing! I honestly feel that there is great power in supporting nonfiction authors to write a powerful story that impacts the lives of others. I know there are lots of powerful stories out there that are just waiting to be told. But perhaps you are looking for someone to guide you through the process.
Enter the Author Jam Session!
During the months of June and July, I want to speak with 100 nonfiction authors — or wannabe authors — who are looking for clarity in the writing, publishing, or marketing of your book. I can schedule a FREE 15 minute phone call or skype session with you to discuss your biggest hangup that is keeping you from bringing your book into the world.
Why Should You Schedule an Author Jam Session?
I find talking about my blocks that impede progress to be of great help when trying to push through to the next step. Trust me, I know what it’s like to have a million ideas circulating in your brain to the point where you become paralyzed. Let’s not waste another moment of having your genius locked in your brain! And hey, it’s a free consultation! Many other book consultants charge $250 an hour and up for their time and expertise. I’m offering a full 15-minute session with me for free. What do you have to lose?
Why Should You Talk with Halona?
I am the author of Loving My Fibroids Away: A 10-Day Detox Plan, currently sold on Amazon. I am also a freelance copywriter, blogger, and author services expert to the health and wellness industry. I write marketing materials that include web copy, sales pages, white papers, etc. for medical professionals, health educators, and wellness providers. I understand what new authors are going through as I have been one myself. I also make a living advising and creating marketing materials for established companies to help them create better relationships with their customers.
Schedule Your Free Author Jam Session!
Are you ready to schedule your free Author Jam Session? You can schedule an appointment by emailing info@HalonaBlack.com now.
Have questions? Email me at info@HalonaBlack.com and I will answer you very quickly.
I can’t wait to talk with you and help get your book started!