Win a Ticket to Type-A Parent Conference in Atlanta

Type A ConI’m honored and thrilled to be a part of the amazing speaker team for the Type-A Parent Conference for bloggers in Atlanta, GA, October 8-10, 2015! I was introduced to this group a few years ago and have been blown away by the depth and scope of their practical knowledge about all things internet. And, even more importantly, I have been pleasantly surprised to discover how warm and welcoming they are to newbies.

That’s why I want to take a “newbie” along with me this year! Someone who hasn’t yet had the pleasure to learn from this wonderful group of bloggers. If you’re new to blogging or even just thinking about it – this would be a great opportunity to dive right in and immerse yourself in the blogosphere. And if you’ve been blogging for a while and you’re ready to take your work to the next level, you are guaranteed to learn something new at this event.

You can find out details about the event and speakers here: Type-A Parent Conference.

Want to learn more about Type-A Parent? I wrote about my first experience at the annual conference here. And I shared lessons from the podium when I spoke at the Type-A Bootcamp in Walt Disney World (fun!) on how to turn your blog into a business here.

Enter to win a ticket to Type-A Parent Conference here!

Three Free Tools for Saving Time on Social Media

One morning I opened up my Facebook Page, determined to share something encouraging or funny or at least somewhat valuable and I stared at the blank “status update” window for about five minutes. I started typing a few times only to quickly delete the text and resume my writer’s block. Then, I did what any productive professional would do – I spent the next 20 minutes browsing through my feed hoping to be inspired or, at the very least, distracted. Eventually, I closed my browser without having left a comment. And I got to work.

Has that ever happened to you? I think we put a lot of pressure on ourselves because we’re told that social media is a wonderful tool for business and that we need to make sure we’re active online. But sometimes, we’re just not in the mood to be social. Other times, we’re perfectly happy being social, spending hours mindlessly watching pet videos and liking someecards when we should be working…or spending time with our families. But we get swept up in all the smiling faces and we can’t seem to click away. (It happened to me twice while writing this blog post!)

That’s why I use a few tools to help me organize my time on social media. I’m not trying to be sneaky by pre-scheduling updates. Instead, I’m trying to be productive so that I’ll be able to spend my time online having real, live conversations with people – not stressing over what to write. And I’m getting help sifting through all the distracting (but entertaining!) messages so I can concentrate on the ones I want to read and comment on.

I rely on these three free social media management tools to help me better prioritize my time online: [Read more…]

How and Why to Use a Swipe File

Woman working online on a laptop computer at homeIf imitation is a form a flattery then there are plenty of people I’ve flattered since I started blogging more than five years ago. Like most people, I created my first website and launched a blog with no real training or experience. I was already a professional writer so I figured I’d learn the rest on the job. And part of the learning process for me is studying what works well for others. That’s where my swipe files comes in handy.

A swipe file is a tool I learned about in my early career in public relations and marketing communications. I collected articles, headlines, direct mail postcards, advertisements, proposals and other materials for inspiration. It was kinda like Pinterest for writers. Only when I first started using a swipe file it was a paper accordion style folder with actual printed samples torn from newspapers and magazines.

I’d save anything I found interesting or compelling – even if it had nothing to do with my industry or current projects. Then, when it came time to work on a new piece, I’d flip through my swipe files for ideas. I’d find formulas for great headlines, templates for sales letters and even some clever photo captions that would trigger an idea.

I eventually went digital with my swipe file and now I use it to kick start my creativity on all sorts of new projects. Even if you’re not a writer, chances are you do a fair amount of writing for your business or ministry. So why not make your job a little bit easier and start a swipe file of your own? Collect anything you find interesting or effective so you can refer to it later. Start with a simple file folder on your desktop or try using Evernote to store your swipe file items. Evernote lets you bookmark webpages, add images or screenshots and tag your notes for easy sorting and retrieval. You can even share your swipe file with someone on Evernote.

Not sure what to collect? Here are a few ideas to get you started!

Seven Things to Add to Your Swipe File

1. Sales pages. Have you ever made a spontaneous online purchase? You may have stumbled across a compelling sales page and found yourself hitting the “buy now” button without even thinking about it. When that happens, take a screenshot of the sales page and file it for future reference. There is probably some language in there that will come in handy!

2. Facebook ads. If you’re on Facebook you’ve probably clicked on an ad in your newsfeed at some point. There are definitely tricks and tips to Facebook advertising, so capture screen shots of your favorite ads and study them to see what works well for others. When it comes time to do your own Facebook advertising, you’ll have a head start.

3. Bios. I always get a kick out of short, clever bios I read online. Not the ones that are stuffed full of credentials and accomplishments. But the ones that reveal addictions to Sharpie markers or a lifelong struggle to successfully grow a tomato plant. I’ve been swiping memorable bios for years and vowing to make my own humdrum narrative a little more intriguing. One. Of. These. Days. [Read more…]