When Life Gives You Lemons, Start a Business and Write Your Life Lessons
For nearly two decades, I was a devoted English teacher, on an impassioned quest to illuminate young minds with the enduring wisdom of literary giants like Steinbeck, Shakespeare, Marquez, and de Maupassant. Yet, despite being fluent in the language of symbolism, motif, and metaphor, I never dared crown myself with the title of ‘writer.’ The audacity, right? I mean, who was I to take on such a lofty label without a major book deal or a chic byline in the New Yorker? It took a good old-fashioned existential crisis (cheers, Pandemic!) and a career pivot sharper than a switchblade for me to publicly confess – I’ve been a word-wrangler since inception.
As if to sprinkle salt on the wound, along came a charismatic entrepreneur bearing promises of a golden unicorn: a database teeming with 30,000 businesses, all drooling for my scintillating communications skills. The catch? Crafting his entire web and social media presence for the sweet price of nada. Nothing. Sweet-Diddly-Squat. And so, with visions of future prosperity playing out in my head, I plunged in. I wrote like the proverbial Dickens, excited to be part of something that felt like it mattered.
BUT when the smoke cleared:
- The golden unicorn morphed into a donkey rocking a party hat;
- The database was as tangible as a rainbow;
- And I was left shouldering a $50,000 invoice and a backpack full of regrets.
It was the ultimate ‘Oops, I did it again’ epiphany moment.
They weren’t kidding when they said experience is the most brutal yet effective teacher. But hey, if you prefer your lessons a tad less painful, then stick around. Today we’re going to explore the delicate craft of making lemonade as a content creator or small business owner when there’s an abundance of lemons in your midst.
Lost in the Dead-End Streets of Content Creation
In the digital jungle, where the wild buzzwords roam and shiny objects of promise lurk at every turn, content creators and solopreneurs often find themselves at ‘The Crossroads’.
Down one path lies the Emerald City of Content Creation; down the other, a tempting trail of quick-fixes that, like a mirage, vanish upon approach.
In our rapidly evolving digital age, it’s easy to get caught in the glittering web spun by online gurus peddling silver bullet solutions. They serve up tasty promises of instant success, like a late-night infomercial promising six-pack abs in two weeks (ugh, please, Kevin!). But let’s peek behind the curtain and burst a few bubbles.
Remember, in this digital game, there are no quick fixes or secret shortcuts. It’s about navigating the labyrinth with your unique map, evolving, learning, and most importantly, not getting lost in the dead-end streets.
1. The Siren Song of SEO ‘Magic Beans’
Waaaaay too many content creators find themselves seduced by the allure of generic SEO tips and tricks scattered across the digital landscape. These solutions claim to be the magic beans for instant Google ranking.
In reality, it’s like using a Sudoku strategy to solve a crossword.
You’re playing the game, sure, just not the right one.
SEO isn’t a magic key; it’s a combination lock requiring a unique sequence (or strategy) that only you can uncover.
A study by Ahrefs found that a mere 0.3% of websites appeared within the top 10 Google search results within a year of their birth.
You see, SEO isn’t your fairy godmother; it won’t transform your pumpkin website into a dazzling carriage overnight. It requires time, and a proven strategy.
Just like a marathon runner wouldn’t dream of training like a 100-meter sprinter, your SEO strategy needs to be cut and stitched to your unique goals and audience.
2. The Social Media Carousel: Round & Round to Nowhere
Then there’s the social media carousel.
In the mad scramble to mount every new trend, the strategy often tumbles away.
Trends are fleeting; authenticity is timeless.
It’s time to step off the carousel and find your own rhythm. After all, a brand that stands for everything, stands for nothing.
A report by Sprout Social discovered that 63% of consumers roll their eyes at brands chasing every trend like a dog after a squirrel.
A diluted brand image and dwindling engagement.
The lesson here is clear: less wolf crying, more authenticity.
3. The Keyword Kamikaze: Crash & Burn
A regrettable detour on the road to effective content strategy is the act of overloading content with keywords – a tactic as outdated as those bedazzled bell-bottoms hidden in your grandpa’s closet.
Once the go-to strategy, stuffing content with keywords now reeks of desperation.
Remember, you’re designing content for humans with heartbeats, not algorithms with processing power. The only stuffing that should interest you is the mouthwatering combo found in Aunt Amy’s Thanksgiving turkey.
Today, stuffing keywords into your content like you’re packing a Thanksgiving bird will just leave you looking like a stuffed turkey.
Ditch the keyword stuffing and ensure your content facilitates meaningful human connection.
Google’s Penguin 2012 update took deliberate aim at keyword stuffers, and it’s been shooting down offenders ever since.
Matt Cutts, Google’s former spam-slayer, compared keyword stuffing to loading a resume with bogus skills.
You might initially fool the recruiter, but they’ll soon see through the deception.
Moral of the story?
Don’t be that dude.
4. Chasing the Viral Unicorn Across the Digital Desert
‘Going viral’ is a tantalizing promise, but the reality is as rare as snowfall in the Sahara.
Going viral can be a fortuitous stumble, but it’s not a strategic move.
Sure, you might get hit by a metaphorical bolt of lightning, but wouldn’t you rather have a reliable flashlight than wait for a flash in the dark?
Say it with me now: GOING VIRAL IS NOT A STRATEGY, it’s a happy accident. And just like one-hit wonders, viral content without a follow-up plan risks fading into the footnotes of the digital age.
Jonah Berger, Wharton School professor and digital oracle, revealed that a mere 1% of YouTube videos hit the golden 1 million views milestone. And, plot twist, even those lucky few rarely enjoy sustained growth without a strategic encore.
Going viral without a follow-up plan is like becoming a one-hit wonder; sure, you’ve got your 15 minutes of fame, but then what?
Remember, nobody wants to be the Macarena of the digital world.
Winning Hearts Before Algorithms
In the pulsating matrix of content creation, algorithms may seem like intimidating gatekeepers. But these digital guards are mere servants to the human mind and heart.
The golden rule?
Win over hearts first, then algorithms.
The road to real success is paved with genuine connections.
As Nicholas Sparks once said, ‘Nothing that’s worthwhile is ever easy.’
Building genuine connections requires effort, authenticity, and consistency. Yet, the rewards are profound and lasting.
We are captivated by genuine connections and powerful storytelling.
We connect when we are exposed to memorable stories.
Stanford professor Jennifer Aaker explains that: “Our brains are not hard-wired to understand logic or retain facts for very long. Our brains are wired to understand and retain stories.”
Think about it.
When you read a statistic, it might intrigue you momentarily, but before long, it’s forgotten. Yet, when that same data is woven into a story, it lingers, imprinted on your memory.
Stories provide context and emotional resonance, transforming abstract data into meaningful, memorable narratives. Hence genuine connections, formed through shared experiences and stories, are critical to every facet of content creation and business growth.
Stories don’t just introduce us to new information; they make that information stick.
Prioritize real, meaningful connections; weave tales that tug at heartstrings, and watch as the algorithms fall in step to the rhythm of your narrative. And if you’re wondering how to morph your business spiel into a compelling saga, I’ve got just the map you need.
Grab a free copy of The Business Storytelling Guide to navigate your way to narratives that resonate.
The Golden Rules of Content Creation I Now Live By
As a content creator, small business owner and solopreneur that had to get wise one-too-many times after the fact, I want to share the golden rules I wish some savvy mentor had shared with me when I leapt off the 9-5 hamster wheel in pursuit of a life on my own terms.
I. Say It, Write It, Sign It: Get Contracts in Writing
Avoid the foggy abyss of misunderstandings with the clarity of written contracts. Truthfully, “We’re friends, we don’t need a contract” tops the list of stupid thingsI’ve said out loud. (And I’ve said a lot of stupid stuff.) Contracts ensure everyone is on the same page, literally and figuratively.
Take the time to examine wording, clauses, inclusions and exclusions analytically and without letting your emotions lead the way.
Contracts serve as your:
- Legal shield in disputes
- Badge of professionalism, bolstering confidence in your clients and collaborative partners
- Roadmap towards successful project management – outlining expectations, deliverables, and very clearly guiding all parties towards the desired outcome.
II. The Power of the Collective: The Art of Delegation
Leverage the magic of delegation to amplify efficiency, optimize skills, and prevent burnout. You’re a content creator, not a juggler, so stop spreading yourself too thin.
- Delegate so you can focus on what you do best, while maximizing output and quality.
- Assign time-thief tasks to others, so you can harness their unique skill sets and elevate the overall quality of your work.
- Spread the load in order to prevent exhaustion, allowing for a more balanced, healthier work lifestyle.
III. No More Scrambling: The Power of Organization
Organization is your map in the labyrinth. Detailed schedules, SOPs, and templates streamline your processes, ensuring consistency and reducing stress. Chaos, be gone!
- Develop detailed plans and protocols so you can eliminate guesswork and save precious time.
- Operate with consistency, streamlining processes to ensure high quality across all your content.
- Slay stress by establishing an organized workflow, eradicating chaos and mitigating stress.
IV. Your Creative Vault: The Idea Bank
Imagine a well-stocked pantry, ready to whip up a meal when the hunger pangs hit. That’s your Idea Bank – a treasure trove of concepts and plans waiting to be deployed when the creative kitchen heats up.
- Establish a centralized location for your ideas, providing quick access when you need a creative boost.
- Regularly add to and review your idea bank so you can stimulate fresh, groundbreaking concepts.
- Create a strategic content plan, remembering that a well-stocked idea bank supports your content schedule, and helps you stay ahead of deadlines.
V. Know Your Value: The Worth of Your Work
Your work is gold; treat it as such. Knowing your worth guarantees fair compensation, signals self-respect, and promotes a sustainable business model.
Set your price tag, and stand by it.
- Value your work appropriately, ensuring you receive rightful compensation.
- Charge what you’re worth to communicate your self-respect and professionalism to clients.
- Set a fair price to support a sustainable, healthy, long-lasting business model.
VI. Defining Your Victory: Success in Your Terms
Success isn’t a one-size-fits-all cap. Tailor it to your measurements for personal satisfaction, realistic goal-setting, and authentic growth.
Success is sweetest when it’s brewed to your own recipe.
- Defining success on your own terms leads to a more rewarding and motivating journey, so you can facilitate fulfillment – personally and professionally
- Set realistic, personalized goals to reduce the risk of overreaching and subsequent burnout.
- Embed success metrics that align with your values, promote genuine, sustainable growth, and ensure your authenticity and vision are in alignment.
I. Establish Your Idea Bank: Build Your Creative Vault
Start by choosing a suitable digital tool for your Idea Bank – it could be as simple as a Google Doc or Notion.
Commit to populating this bank regularly with fresh ideas, and make it a habit to revisit it when you’re planning your content.
This measurable action will ensure a consistent flow of innovative concepts and prevent creative dry spells.
II. Implement Organization: Streamline Your Chaos
Embark on your organizational journey by adopting a project management tool such as Asana or Trello.
Map out your tasks, assign deadlines, and visually track your progress. This one actionable step will streamline your operations, ensuring consistent quality and reducing stress.
Over time, the correlation between your organized approach and improved productivity will be evident.
III. Define Your Victory: Tailor Your Triumph
Define success on your terms. Set personal goals and benchmarks that align with your values and aspirations.
This could be reaching a specific audience size, earning a particular income, or achieving a certain level of work-life balance.
By setting these personalized standards, you’ll foster a sense of fulfillment and motivation, promoting authentic, sustainable growth. Your victory will be uniquely yours, celebrated by your own rules.
- Genuine Connections > Algorithms: Remember, your unique human touch is the secret sauce of captivating content. Your focus should be winning hearts first, the algorithms will naturally follow.
- The Power of Paper: Contracts aren’t just a formality, they’re the shield and sword in your entrepreneurial gladiator match. Dare not enter the arena unarmored.
- Embrace Delegation: You’re a gifted content creator, not a martyr. Leverage delegation to keep your sanity intact and productivity skyrocketing.
- Organization is a Lifesaver: It’s not about being a neat freak, it’s about surviving and thriving amidst the content creation tempest. Master it, and you’ll sail smoothly in these choppy waters.
- Price Tag Your Brilliance: Your work is priceless, but alas, we don’t live in a barter system. Recognize your worth and charge accordingly – no more undervaluing what you offer.
- Your Victory, Your Rules: Success is a couture outfit, not a mass-produced t-shirt. Tailor it to your size for a fit that brings lasting fulfillment and motivation.
Like this? I’m Kate and I write about what lights me up:
💌 Communication at work & home
🪄 Creative, courageous & unconventional pursuits
🤫 Storytelling secrets & recipes for success
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