Monthly Archives: December 2013

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I don’t make New Year’s Resolutions – I set goals for the new year. It’s a practice my family and I adopted about 5 years ago. Each New Year’s Day we sit in my parent’s sun room, drink gallons of tea, eat our way through leftovers and create goals for our lives and businesses for the coming year.

I know for some people (YOU!), writing goals are on the list but you may not really know where to start. For 2014, I wanted to give five goals you can set that will help your writing really explode.

1. Blog. Weekly.

Yep, every week post an article or blog post to your blog. Pick at day of the week and stick to it.

You’ll notice that I didn’t say post daily. Or even twice a week! I tried that once and I burned myself out after half a year. It’s HARD writing something meaningful, researched, and new every single day. But a weekly goal – that’s attainable and you can even plan for vacations!

2. Send out your newsletter regularly.

Again, pick a schedule and stick to it! I decided half-way through 2013 that I was going to get serious about mailing my newsletter every week. Since August 5, 2013, I have sent out a newsletter EVERY SINGLE WEEK. Sure, there was a week that it was a day late but there wasn’t a week when I DIDN’T send it out!

Goals 1 & 2 work together to force you to create new content every single week. Even if you know only twenty people read your blog each week or your newsletter list is you, your mom, and your BFF, those people are counting on your content.

3. Find a publication and submit a monthly article.

Commit to writing an article for a magazine, blog, or other publication every month. For me, I write (almost) monthly for “Happier Healthier Women” online magazine. For 2014, I’m committing to one article per month.

It really helps if you can have a recurring monthly column so you’re not scrambling every month to find a publication for your article! Plus you get the added bonus of building your expertise and credibility for a recurring audience.

Again, this forces you to create new content. I recommend just ONE article per month though – you want to keep the main thing the main thing. Don’t chase so many rabbits (regular published columns) that your main writing or business suffers.

4. Write something that scares you.

This could be poetry or fiction or a screenplay. It could be a novel for NaNoWriMo. But at least once in 2014 LEAP out of your comfort zone and write something that is 100% outside of your normal writing style.

My degree is in Creative Writing and my emphasis is in poetry. However, most of my writing is for outdoor recreation and in short fiction. But in 2013, I wrote and illustrated a children’s book! In 2014 I’ll be tackling a novel. Long-fiction is completely out of my comfort zone. In fact, I really prefer non-fiction to fiction! But I know that stretching myself as an author will yield nothing but great results in the rest of my writing.

5. Publish your book.

I talk a LOT about the amazing feeling of holding a book in your hands with your name on the cover. And there’s the OMG feeling the first time your book is sold internationally. Or you get a 5-star review from somebody you don’t know. An email in your inbox with a story about how you touched somebody’s life. A hug from an aspiring author who says you’re her role model because you’ve published a book. The (big!) client that you sign because you’re a published author.

Make 2014 your year for finally getting your book published.

Next week, I’ll be diving into WHAT you can put in your book. Here’s a hint: you may be closer to having your book written than you think!

Happy New Year!

When I started my first online business eleven years ago I started keeping a business journal. Maybe it was because I started the business immediately upon graduating from college and I was in the habit of taking notes for EVERYTHING.

Now, when I say “journal” I don’t mean you need to go out and buy a fancy notebook! You can if you want to, but I used a red, single subject spiral bound notebook. On the outside of the notebook I would write the dates the journal covered. Once I started filling a lot of red notebooks, I also numbered them.

My first six business journals spanning from

My first six business journals spanning from January 2003 to 29 June 2004.

And because I’m a bit crazy about it – college rule and it HAD to be red. Every new entry was dated and always started on the right-hand side of the page. I even had a special pen to write in the journal.

I got teased a lot in the early days of the business for recording EVERYTHING in my red notebook. I couldn’t even THINK about having a meeting (on the phone or in person) without it. Throughout that business’s existence, I pretty much carried that journal with me everywhere and I kept a record of ideas, meetings, plans, brainstorms, goals, systems, and pretty much anything under the sun.

Not only was the business journal a great way to keep all my ideas in one place, it also became a key to my business’s future. In the early days of the business, I ended up suing a contractor for a breach of contract. REALLY long story short, because I had kept a dated record of every meeting, my attorney was able to put together a hugely detailed case proving the breach of contract and other points in the suit. The whole experience was absolutely miserable but I felt so much better about it that I wasn’t relying on my imperfect memory of events; I had notes about every meeting.

Today, I still keep a business journal. Since I have two businesses, I have two separate journals – color coded! A yellow notebook for TheOutdoorPrincess.com and dark blue for On The Beach Publishing. I’m still in love with one-subject, college-rule, spiral-bound notebooks but I no longer insist that I use a special pen!

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But it does REALLY stress me out when I can’t find my notebook. I keep the past notebooks on a special shelf and my current notebook in the bag (briefcase) I drag around with me everywhere.

And in the rare times where I don’t have the notebook handy, I take my notes on some other piece of paper and then tape it into the notebook later.

And I’m sure you’re thinking:
Great idea! But I’ll do it on the computer.

Here’s why I use a notebook and write it out longhand, old school:

  • Sometimes a computer isn’t handy, available, or practical. A pen and paper ALWAYS is.
  • Writing things out longhand taps into a different part of your brain and can unlock your creativity.
  • You can tape or staple other things into the notebook.

 

What To Record In Your Business Journal

  • Notes from meetings. My only exception is when I meet with a client. That I do on loose-leaf, unlined white paper. Then I create a file folder for the client.
  • Marketing ideas.
  • Goals.
  • Flow charts. I draw mine on huge pieces of paper and then shrink it to fit.
  • Ideas for books.
  • Ideas for blog articles.
  • Notes from classes, teleseminars, webinars, etc.
  • Tape in business cards (and notes about the contact) from networking events.

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A business journal is pretty much like a personal journal but instead of recording your whole life, it’s a snapshot of your business.

One of the things I LOVE about my business journal is that I can go through old journals and see what I was thinking last year, last month, last week. Sometimes there was a great idea that I just wasn’t ready to implement at the time but is EXACTLY what my business needs now.

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Back in August I wrote an article about adding images to your books or blog posts. Tip #4 was:

Know from where you are getting your images
In the past week, I’ve met with two clients who are not only excellent writers, but also gifted photographers. These lucky folk have the ability to take near-professional photographs to use in their books to offset their information.

I’ve been able to use many of my own photos in my books. But sometimes, you won’t be able to create the perfect setup for the image you need. In that case, you’ll need to purchase your image.

When you purchase it, make sure you are using a reputable stock-photography vendor. And don’t ever use an image from Google Images. Just because you credit your source does not mean that you have permission to use the image!

I realized later (much later! As in THIS week) that I never gave resources for where you could go to get stock photography.

My top (paid) stock photography sites are:

DollarPhoto

This is a newer website but it is my favorite and the one I use the most. ALL their images are $1 each. All day, every day. I’ve signed up for the annual subscription — it’s WELL worth the money. At time of writing it’s just $99.

Beyond the FANTASTIC price-per-image, they also have a great selection of really high quality images. And they have plenty of selection for illustrations and photos. I haven’t found any images that are amateur-ish either. And since this is a newer site, I haven’t seen their stuff all over the web.

Continue reading

Back in August, I wrote about Amazon’s reviewing system for eBooks. I still feel that reviews are important to sales but not the be-all, end-all. I’ve recently received some new reviews on my books (yay!) and they are all positive 4- and 5-star reviews.

When a reader leaves a review on Amazon, good or bad, there’s a little spot where other people can leave a comment.

Don’t!

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As the author, whatever you do, don’t respond to a review. If you respond to a 1- or 2-star review you are seen as whiny and can’t take constructive criticism. If you respond to a 4- or 5-star review, congratulations, you have officially entered into creepy stalker territory.

I know it’s hard not to defend your work from people who didn’t “get” it, don’t like it, or didn’t read the full description before buying. But there is NOTHING in any way, shape, or form that you can say that allows you to stay classy.

And as much as you’d love to thank a reviewer for a positive review, don’t do that either. Amazon’s reviewing system isn’t Facebook; the reader isn’t looking to start a conversation with you – you are AUTHOR, not a real person.

Deal with it.

If you want to engage directly with readers, be available through links in your book to your website, email, and social media accounts. Then, if a reader reaches out to you directly, feel free to thank them for their opinion, start a dialog and exchange knitting patterns. And if a reader sends you an email saying how much they loved the book, it’s okay to ask them to post the review on Amazon!

I’m heading to Maria Andros‘ Momentum event this week so I asked a client and friend to bring you this week’s article.

5 Simple healthy foods to boost your brain power!

We’ve all been there at one time or another when we’re sucked in day after day sitting in front of our computer, time flies and we realize we missed breakfast, lunch and maybe even dinner, right?  We may have had several cups of coffee, a few sweets and salty treats – but haven’t actually haven’t had any meals or any REAL BRAIN FOOD offering any nutritional value.  Well, this scene MUST be deleted!

Try setting yourself up for success with these simple health foods and tips that WILL BOOST your BRAIN POWER.

HYDRATE

It’s simple, everyday plan to have fresh purified H2O at your computer side.  Aim for drinking a minimum of 64 ounces of water daily to start.  Once you’ve got that down, then bump it up to ½ your body weight in ounces every day!

TIP:  Use a 32 ounce mason jar and have two jars ready to go before you sit down at your computer.  Squeeze fresh lemon or lime juice for a little pizzazz plus added health benefits!

FARM FRESH FOODS

Stock up and make it a habit to always have apples, bananas, eggs, celery & carrots on hand.

TIP:  Plan to hit your local farmers market and health food store each week with your staple shopping list so you’re always prepared – stocked with brain power foods!

EGGS

Have hard boiled eggs ready to go for a brain boost.  To sum it up, eggs are rich in nutrients and protein that are essential for your brain; full of vitamins and minerals [vitamin A, B, potassium, choline, omega 3 fats, & more] – all needed for healthy brain function.  You’ll want to be sure your eggs are farm fresh to get the most nutritional benefits and at least buy organic fed, free range or cage free!

TIP:  Enjoy a hard boiled egg alone or with carrot & celery sticks while clicking away at your computer – it will satisfy and you will notice the surge in brain power!

APPLES

The old saying, “An apple a day keeps the DR. away”…is a TRUTH!  Did you know that one apple has over 10,000 phytonutrients, is rich in fiber & vitamin C and offers amazing health benefits like building your immune system – prevention of disease, cardiovascular health (can lower your cholesterol), can regulate your blood sugar levels – all fueling to your brain power!

TIP:  Slice your apple and serve it with 2 tablespoons of Almond Butter and you will love dipping and crunching away – you’ll be amazed by the wave of ideas and flow that’ll come to you!

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WALNUTS

One of my favorite brain foods because walnuts look like a brain, considered an “intellectual” food – I love that!  Walnuts not only taste great but they are a “superfood” – it’s easy to have 2 ounces of walnuts every day and boost  your brain with a surge of vitamin E, b-complex, minerals – magnesium, copper, potassium, calcium, iron, omega 3 fatty acids; to name a few!

TIP:  By crunching a small serving every day, you will have your recommended amount of vitamins, minerals, and protein needed to keep your brain working at its best!

SUNSHINE

have a cup o’ sunshine!  Aim to fuel your brain with a sunny window or schedule a break in your day for a little fresh air and natural sunlight!  Natural light from the sun gives your body vitamin D – which is one more vitamin that we need for our best brain power.  It’s easy to overlook when you’re behind the computer screen day after day.

TIP:  move your computer in a room with natural sunlight and/or SCHEDULE [and TAKE] a daily 20 minute break to get out and breathe in the natural nutrients of fresh air and sunlight!
As you can see, these truly are Simple Healthy Foods to Boost your Brain while sitting at your computer!  By taking action and trying these foods and tips you will begin to see that you do not need to rely on that coffee and the old patterns of unhealthy snacks that don’t offer you any form of brain power.  Hopefully you see how simple it is to feed your body and your brain nourishing foods while you sit behind your screen creating your work!  These are simple foods that offer powerful benefits that will boost your brain, boost your body and boost your life to great health, lifestyle and success!

120313-MichelleVerdugoMichelle is a Clinical Nutritionist, Holistic Healthy Lifestyle & Success Coach and focuses on offering solutions for holistic health and wellness.   Michelle has been helping clients with their health for over a decade by providing a holistic formula for healing, health and wellness for life.  Michelle is the creator of the 30 day Path to Higher Health Challenge at MichelleVerdugo.com “Inspiring and Empowering YOU to live your Healthiest Life” – for more juicy tips, recipes and inspirations click over to MichelleVerdugo.com or Holistic Healthy Lifestyle with Michelle Verdugo on Facebook.