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Social Media Marketing

What To Do When People Criticize You in Person or on the Internet

Last week I spoke at East Bay Women’s Network to a group of wonderful women attended who were curious about how to promote their businesses and themselves. It had been a long time since I’d given a “speech” as I’ve been on a bit of a hiatus from speaking engagements or other public events.

My stomach was roiling that morning as I drove the hour to Alameda and before that I’d had weeks of worry, nightmares, and plenty of time to fret about the actual talk.

Afterward many women came up to thank me and tell me what they loved about my talk.

There was one man in the room. But he had no interest in complimenting me.

He wanted to criticize me so bad he could hardly wait his turn.

“I don’t know if you saw me sleeping in the back,” he started out.

“Nope. Didn’t notice,” I said, wondering why someone would bring that to my attention.

He then battered me with questions leading up to his punch line which was designed to tear me down, so he could tell me everything I’d done wrong. My stomach sank and my face fell. My first thoughts: I’m such a failure. I’m a stinky speaker. Why did I accept this gig? What was I thinking?

Then I breathed, relaxed my tummy, let it go and stayed open.

Eventually, he got to his point which was that I didn’t tell a signature story to let the group know who I was. “Oh gosh, I’ve got about 5 signature stories that I’ve told so many times I’m tired of them. I wanted to try something new.”

“Sure,” he said. “But WE haven’t heard any of them.”

He was right. I teach telling your signature story in every media appearance and when appropriate, your speaking engagements. The “why you do what you do” story.

I was out of practice. I had forgotten.

I thanked him and packed up my things. Point taken.

What to do you do when you receive uninvited criticism in person or on the Internet? 

I recommend asking yourself these 3 questions (and then doing this last thing – which is the hardest).

1. Consider the source.

Is this person a nutball? If so, dismiss their rant without another thought. Don’t let it sink into your skin for a second.

When a friend had a very revealing piece published in the New York Times the editor warned her to expect a backlash from Internet trolls. She and I discussed not even reading the hurtful replies so she could revel in the glory of achieving her dream. We batted around the idea that later when she had some distance and perspective, she might scan them for ideas to write another article based on the responses she elicited, thus using them for the positive. Distance creates perspective and allows you to see things more “objectively,” and less personally.

2. Is there something I can learn here?

Is there a kernel of truth in anything this person says? Is what they say worth examining so I can improve myself, my course, my talk etc.? If so, great. If not, move on.

3. Did what they said/wrote trigger an unresolved wound?

If you find yourself becoming hurt, angry, embarrassed, ashamed, or experiencing a strong feeling arising, take a few breaths to steady yourself and come back to center in the moment. Later, examine what touched the nerve. The event can show you where there is still work to be done to let go of past patterns that we all have or harbor. Consider tapping to resolve challenging issues.

The hardest part? Staying open. To hear the truth, or someone’s version of it, and not react. Or, if you react, don’t judge your response just let it go so you can listen and assess the situation.

The second hardest part is to ignore the hurtful words and not let them lodge in our hearts and close us down.

There is a time and place to just ignore the offending party. Not give them or their words any energy at all. If you’re up for an “advanced” practice, send them a blazing bolt of love from your heart to theirs. Shoot it straight in. We are all hurt somewhere and if you can soften even a little consider that an accomplishment.

BONUS: Use hurtful words to open an interesting discussion. I witnessed an Instagram influencer do this when she raised over 50k to help a single mom of two in her congregation get a car, apartment and get started on a new life in an unfamiliar city.

It was quite amazing to see all the support her IG community gave and to watch the pot of gold grow. Then came the naysayers who accused her of doing it for the money. None of which she kept, by the way. So she shared the hurt and gave her followers the opportunity to discuss the negative comment and to give her even more support for her good deed, which they did.

Some people make it their mission to make you feel small. Ignore them. Others are devoted to finding infinite ways share in order to inspire you to feel good. Embrace them.

To make a practice of celebrating others and bringing joy I recommend Sherry Richert Belul’s new book, Say It Now: 33 Ways to Say I LOVE YOU To the Most Important People in Your Life

If you’re in the Bay Area I invite you to join us for an in-person workshop with Sherry where she’ll lead us through how to make a Love List on May 11 in Alameda. I’d love to meet you!


My hate / love affair with Instagram

I go back and forth regarding social media. How much time should I spend on it? Is it worth it? Is it fun? Is it necessary? Which medium is best for me and my peeps? What do I enjoy/despise doing?

I’m so conflicted about it. One minute I think I’ll dive into Instagram Live Stories and then next I don’t want to have anything to do with any of it and just want to sit on my deck and bask in the sun, watch the birds at the feeder, sniff the lavender roses, and read the mysteries I can’t get enough of. (What I love most about them, is the characters say what they really think. No filters. No political correctness. So refreshing!)

But then I snap out of my reverie and remember that I’m creating some new work that I’ll be sharing soon – and how will people hear about it if I’m not in touch? How will I stay connected to….well, you.

I just listened to a podcast, one of my new favorites, called Hidden Brain on the positive impact of deep work.

Cal Newport, a computer scientist who was interviewed, eschewed social media altogether and had a strict schedule so he could accomplish everything he wants to. In the old (and not so old days) Newport noted that influential thinkers had a set of specific habits to get great work done “all seemed to have this drive to, on a regular basis, cut themselves off from their lives of business, and communication and distraction and isolate themselves to think deeply.”

hidden brain podcast

Hidden brain NPR podcast

Carl Jung took himself out to a stone house that didn’t have electricity or water he built by a lake in the countryside to immerse himself in his work. Mark Twain had a cabin he’d retire to on his property to be alone with his thoughts and his family had to blow a horn to call him in for dinner. J.K. Rowling holed up in a hotel near a castle in Edinborough to put her in the mindset to finish her Harry Potter books, specifically, The Deathly Hollow. Each one of these creatives took deep uninterrupted time without distraction so they could produce their important work.

Back to Instagram stories (which has been such a distraction for me!).

I’d like to try hopping on there to answer your questions. Do some casual Q&A on Instagram stories about pitching the media, publicity, confidence, storytelling, the magic of speaking up + more.

What do you think of that? Do you like the idea?

And if so, what time works for you?

Some possibilities.

5pm PT / 8pm ET some evening. Please specify best days.

Saturday at 1pm PT / 4pm ET.

Sunday at 10 or 11 am PT / 1 or 2pm ET.

Since it’s live you would actually be there in the moment with me. So, yes, I can save them to my camera roll and post them later to my website, but the point is to hang out with you in real time — the next closest thing to being in person.

So I’d love to hear back from you on this. Just put: “IG” in the subject line and let me know what time works best for you. Once I get a good sense of that I’ll jet you and email and share some times.

Also, please follow me on Instagram here so we can communicate there as you have to be on Instagram in order to attend the live stories. And I’d love to know if you’d like more photos of me or something else…

If you feel called to Instagram here is a great course from Melissa Camilleri who has also created a supportive community with integrity and spirit that helps you navigate all the changes that happen in social media.

Here are the Instagram people I can’t resist watching or following. (Warning, be prepared for a time sink). 

whiteshantyathome – I was first struck by a photo of her kids all playing musical instruments in the living room like some miniature orchestra. Then I started following her life. She’s like an old fashioned renaissance woman who talks honestly about the challenges of motherhood, creates beauty, talks about God and goodness while raising and homeschooling 5 kids in a converted barn she calls home. How does she do it all?

Instagram influencer

Instagram influencer mom pioneer

chriselleLim – This former stylist rocks clothes and decor and am fascinated by her rise a blogger to an influencer and mommy to CEO of her own company and clothing line.

bloggers_boyfriend – Who is this guy? You never see his eyes or hear his voice. Love the mystery. He satisfies my wanderlust and the street colors are something to lust over. He knows how to style a grunge and glam shot worldwide at places I’ll never be able to go. Plus, I want to inhabit every outfit he wears even though it’s menswear.

lizmariegalvan – Secret desire…OK I admit it I want to live on her farm and have her sheep as my pets, and just collect beautiful things to sell in a shop. (My mom raised me on thrift stores and garage sales so – confession – we collected a garage full of vintage stuff for the farmhouse we never bought) Future dream? Maybe.

Instagram influencer

Instagram influencer Interior design

champagneandchanel – Can’t stop watching this tiny gal with big Texan hair (teasing and extensions) who wears an x small. There is something compelling about her even though she only puts on clothes in front of a mirror and talks about them. I feel kinda weird watching this. I mean, why?

casa_colibri – Former pole dancer with dreadlocks, piercings and tats, who does yoga inversions at her Costa Rican home / retreat center. Need I say more?

Instagram influencer

Yoga Instagram influencer

gwennieth – Has 2 kids that can’t walk or talk. The oldest just turned 17. She says, “Scared that I wouldn’t know what to do, how to love her, how to communicate, how to move on with ‘normal life.’…I saw a little girl who knew nothing but love.” People never cease to amaze me. How they can manage hardship, what they can do, hold, love.

Instagram influencer

Instagram influencer mom


4 Ways to Use Instagram Stories To Scale Your Business

By Guest Blogger Alex Slichnyi

The hype about particular social media platforms seems to come and go. A few years ago, you couldn’t go anywhere without seeing someone using Snapchat. Today, it is all about Instagram.

Instagram Stories is gaining popularity by the day as this feature allows users to take a behind the scenes sneak peek at new products, services, and events.

Launched in 2016, Instagram Stories became an instant hit, adored by 300 million daily users.

On average, users under 25 spend around 32 minutes a day on Instagram, while those in older age groups spend more than 24 minutes per day.

Considering these stats, it’s clear that this feature offers an amazing opportunity for businesses to reach a broader range of audience and promote their brand, taking the engagement on a whole new level.

In fact, according to Instagram, 1 in 3 of the most viewed Stories are from businesses.

With over 50% of businesses on Instagram already using Instagram Stories, this feature is definitely something to consider for your social media campaigns.

  1. Plan Less And Publish More

If you post content on your feed every day, there is a chance that you will be marked as spam or you could annoy your audience so that they unfollow you.

Stories are different, you can post as many as you like and users have the option whether they want to watch it or not. Really, the more you post, the better.

Plus, because the content will only be around for 24 hours, it doesn’t have to be too perfect or planned. In fact, a non-planned post can help the brand look more human and relatable.

2. Go Live

Live marketing and Instagram Stories go hand in hand. Consumers are becoming increasingly attracted to live streaming, with more people watching live content every year. Instagram Stories gives you the option to stream live, so as a business you could use this to stream events, have a live Q&A session, or capture a spontaneous moment in the office.

3. Drive Engagement

If you have over 10,000 followers on your Instagram account, then some cool new features will become available to you. You can use the swipe up function to lead people to links, which is a great way to help drive traffic to specific web pages.

Other cool features include inserting a poll or a question into the Story, which offers new opportunities for engagement.

4. Boost Organic Reach

Ranking on Instagram can be a confusing process, but you may notice that accounts that have active Stories tend to show up in the search results related to the searched hashtag or location. Plus, as you are able to place hashtags and locations on your Story, it offers more opportunities to appear in related searches.

If you are interested in using Instagram Stories on your own account, you can take a look at the infographic below to find some examples of how other brands use them successfully.

Instagram stories

Alex Slichnyi, community manager at 99firms.com, is an avid learner of all things IT. He is a savvy SEO specialist who loves traveling because it allows him to experience hands-on the many facets of life. This hands-on approach can be seen in his work, which is meticulously crafted with daring vision by an open, yet methodical mind that likes to probe, test and improve. Communicating and learning are Alex’s core values that drive him forward.


10 Ways to Boost Business Performance by Power of Social Media

By guest blogger Monica Wilson

Creating a business and getting it off the ground is itself a huge achievement for a budding entrepreneur. Yet, soon the entrepreneur learns that starting the business is only the beginning. Some business people lose their strength to keep going when they discover that they must invest as much effort in promoting their business as they did launching it. No wonder so many businesses do not make it to their first anniversary.

All the same, unlike in the past when marketing required big budgets, today many marketers leverage the power of social media to help even the smallest of enterprises make considerable headway in the marketplace. Experian reports that 80% of today’s marketers have already embraced social media marketing. In a few years, this percentage will be very close to 100%. Given how significant social media has become to the well-being of today’s businesses, marketers must know how to do it effectively. The following are ten ways you can boost the performance of your business by leveraging the power of social media.

Define your target audience first

The excitement of starting a new company often drives many businesses to post generic content that no one wants to engage with on social media. Social media is not just about uploading videos and images and adding captions to them. It is about creating a platform that connects you to your audience, starts a conversation and leads to conversions. None of these things can happen if you fail to clearly define your target audience.

Take time to learn more about the habits of your target audience, the type of content they would want to see and how you can make your products better for their consumption in future. Without a clearly defined target audience, the information you would obtain about people’s response to your business will be false. Use the data-rich features available on Twitter and Facebook to narrow down your target market so that you can put all your energy towards getting this target market to know your brand and its products and services.

Engagement is the key to success

The more posts you publish on social media is not equivalent to increased engagement. To attain any noteworthy success, you must be patient through the process of growing an audience that is willing and excited at the through of engaging and connecting with your brand. Take time creating unique content that speaks to your audience. The idea is to, without necessarily saying it, create an assurance to your audience that someone is listening to their complaints, queries and comments and will respond with answers.

Work on your social profiles

Businesses with big ad budgets sometimes jump fast to ad campaigns and neglect their social media profiles. They spend little time creating social profiles that will get the attention of anyone who happens to visit them. Consequently, they find themselves hardly growing an audience without spending money when the opportunity to grow organically keeps evading them just because they have lackluster profiles.

Don’t make this mistake. Make sure your profile clearly reflects the image of your business you wish to see on display. Remember to optimize the bio so that everyone who comes across the profile is left with little doubt that you have what it takes to deliver excellent products and services.

social media management for business

social media marketing tips

Determine when it is best to post on social media

Social media users in different social networking sites have certain hours of the day that they are most active. Understanding this will help you craft a social media posting schedule that has the best chance to succeed. CoSchedule reports that social media posts published on Saturdays and Sundays have 32% more engagement than those published in other days of the week. The same also said the best times of day for social posting is 9AM, 1PM and 3PM.

Utilize tools and opportunities made available by social networks

Social media marketers know many tools they can use to grow on social media. For instance, HootSuite is excellent for scheduling; Growr is perfect for growing an Instagram following; Buffer is ideal for managing Twitter. However, before you consider third party tools, you should exhaust the functionality of those tools that the social networks have made available. Facebook has scheduling and analytics tools and Twitter has Tweetdeck and its own analytics tools. Use these tools and measure the changes you will see in your efforts in social media marketing.

Offer exclusive, entertaining, useful information and deals

Asking people to follow you on social media can seem odd yet it works. All the same, you should provide value if you want people to follow and engage with your brand. That is why you should think about the promise you can make to those who follow you on social media. This is especially necessary when you are just getting started building a social media following. Talk to your marketing team about creating value that you can leverage on social networking sites to make your audience feel special and part of something great and beautiful.

Video is as social as you can get

For a few years now, marketers have been talking about the power of video in marketing on social media. Yet, few business executives have decide to invest considerable resources towards creating video content. Those who have embraced video have clear results to show. Perhaps this is why YouTube remains one of the most visited website in the world and the second largest search engine platform the world over.

Practically everyone wants to watch videos. Indeed, available statistics show that 82% of Twitter users regularly watch video content on the platform. On Facebook, users watch around 100 million hours of video every day. So, why not create videos for them to watch as part of your social marketing initiatives?

Leverage communities

Consider using employee advocacy programs to leverage communities. This way you can take advantage of the numbers and use your content to reach more people on social networking sites. You can find social media communities on Facebook, Pinterest as well as on LinkedIn. Look for a group in your niche and join. Through this community, you can advertise a product or service to people you are certain that they have some interest in your products or services.

Experiment with content creator communities

Sometimes you may find yourself with no viable ideas for creating content to publish on your social media channels. This is why content creator communities come in. Some of the most popular communities include Viral Content Buzz,Social Buzz Club and Triberr.

The reason these communities exist is to help content creators find creative ways to present content, brainstorm on new and unique content and improve social media promotion initiatives. Furthermore, participating in these communities will give you the perfect opportunity to learn from other content creators regarding what works and what doesn’t.

Share on the right platform & at the right time

Any marketer will tell you that each social media platform has its own unique culture. For this reason, a good plan in social media marketing should include creating customized content plan for each social network. For example, Instagram is big on hashtags, Twitter is perfect for real time conversations and Facebook is ideal when have a lot to say.

Take time to understand the culture that exists in each social platform and how it can help you advance your business. Additionally, familiarize yourself with new and emerging networking sites and see if they offer new opportunities that the existing platforms struggle to offer. Whatever you do, resist the temptation of copying and pasting everything you post in one platform into another. This “dumping” approach will result to low engagements and uninspiring social media marketing results.

Social media industry watches believe that it is still at its infancy and that many things will change as it matures. Businesses that will invest in learning the most effective ways of marketing on social networking sites will continue to record impressive results that will bring conversions and increase sales.


PR Tips to Make Your Movement Go Viral

By Guest Blogger Alison Luterman (Plus a poem!) – with my video commentary on how to make a movement go viral — from Erica Mandy’s Show, The News Worthy

I was walking up the street minding my own business when a superhero jumped out in front of me. He landed in a wide-legged stance, arms outstretched, head thrown back in true Olympic superhero style. He was about three feet high and was wearing sneakers that lit up with flashing lights when he moved.

“I’m magic!” he announced.
“You are magic–I can see that!” I said.

It had been two weeks since the mass shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School, and I was still in a funky mood. Events, both national and personal, had been clouding my ability to see the magic in life. But here it was, on a bright Tuesday afternoon when the dogwood was blooming.

“I’m also the fastest runner,” the super-hero went on. “Wanna see?”
“Yes, please!”

He tore up the sidewalk, his sneakers flashing.

“Wow, you are super fast!!” His Dad was leaning up against the family SUV, chuckling.
“He’s actually the fastest runner in the world,” he clarified. “It’s not everyday you get to see something like that. I can understand if you’re overwhelmed.”

I put my hand on my heart and staggered back. “It’s going to take me awhile to recover.”

In truth I hope never to recover from the magic of children. It may be our only hope as a species.

Like so many other people, I’m still blown away by the power of the young students speaking up now for gun control, especially Emma Gonzalez, the shaven-headed, bisexual, Latinx student (president of her school’s Gay-Straight Student Alliance), who rose up out of the smoke and spilled blood of the Parkland massacre, and has been speaking truth to power like a lioness.

If you haven’t seen the video of her making an impassioned plea for gun control while wiping away tears–weeping freely, but making her points with fierce accuracy, including the amount of money the Great Pretender accepted from the NRA for his campaign–go watch it.  (Spoiler alert: 30 million dollars.)

Watch the way she feels deeply, but also has facts and figures at her command, and uses them. That’s not easy. When I’m crying my voice shakes, or it knots up in my throat, my chin quivers uncontrollably, and I feel foolish and naked. I’d prefer to hide under the bed than let people see me like that.

But it’s the job in front of us right now–all of us. Find our deepest feelings and speak from that vulnerable, exposed place.

It turns out many of the young activists effectively challenging Senators and Congress are drama club kids. I was a drama club kid. It was the ultimate safe space for queer kids, outcasts, weirdos. The energy and passion, the intense bonding love that gets generated backstage can be used for so many good things. You can put on a play, you can read your poetry at an open mic, you can start a movement and take your message to Congress.

Art teaches us to be brave. And we need a lot of courage these days. And a lot of love. Hold your friends and companions, fellow-artists, fellow-activists, children and the young at heart extra tightly. And don’t stop speaking truth to power even if it makes you cry.

Watching the Giraffes

The baby giraffe stands
in the shadow of the tall
mother-body,
both of their astonishing
necks marked
with a perfect mosaic pattern
like kitchen linoleum.

How close the gods come to
us sometimes,
how quietly.

Then the tallest one
who has been gazing off into
the distance,
his small head atop that
neck
like a long lonesome train
whistle
high above everything,
lets loose a Niagara of
yellow pee
and another giraffe ducks
a swanlike neck down,
down,
to catch a deep, hot
mouthful of urine,then undulates back up,
swanlike, elegant,
gulping and swallowing.So that too is part of it.

How they take
what they are thirsty for
without apology,
as I am drinking in the gentle
weight
of the child’s small trusting
body
leaning against my arm
on the bench at the zoo,
both of us watching the
animals
without saying anything.

Alison Luterman’s three books of poetry are The Largest Possible Life; See How We Almost Fly; and Desire Zoo. Her poems and stories have appeared in The Sun, Rattle, Prairie Schooner, Nimrod, The Atlanta Review, Tattoo Highway, and elsewhere.. She has also written an e-book of personal essays, Feral City, and more than half a dozen plays, including Oasis, Saying Kaddish With My Sister, Glitter and Spew, Touched, and two musicals, The Chain and Nasty Women. She performs with the Oakland-based improvisation troupe Wing It! and has given writing workshops all over the country, including at Omega and Esalen Institutes.

She teaches memoir at The Writing Salon in Berkeley, and is available for private coaching in writing or creativity, both in-person or on-line. She also loves to teach easy accessible theater games and writing prompts to groups. For more information, please visit her website at www.alisonluterman.net.


How to Befriend Bloggers (Without Feeling Awkward or Stalkery!)

By Guest Blogger Sarah Von Bargen

I thought, for a bit, that I should really title this post ‘How To Network With Bloggers’ – because, you know, SEO and what not.

But the word ‘networking’ feels intimidating and overwhelming and slightly gross.  Eating subpar appetizers while someone shoves their business card in my face and shrieks their elevator pitch?  No.  Sharing super useful advice/client referrals/traffic/cream cheese wontons with someone who I connect with, like, AS A HUMAN BEING?  Yes.

Really?  Networking is mostly just making friends.  And if you approach it as such (and think about what you can bring to the table, rather than what you can get from an interaction) you’ll be befriending bloggers left, right, and all over Twitter.

If there are any bloggers you’d like to collaborate with/pitch/take to coffee, here are a few things that you should do before you drop into their inbox.

6 ways to befriend bloggers

1. Leave productive, smart, helpful comments on their blog

No matter how big and famous they are, bloggers read their comments and if you’re regularly saying awesome things, they’ll start to remember you.  Of course, some blogs and posts engender better commentary – it’s hard to leave a mind-blowing comment on an outfit post.  But personal essays, tutorials, or thought-provoking posts are an opportunity to chime in.

Also:  make sure that the icon that shows up when you leave a comment matches the headshot on your blog and the icon for your Twitter profile, otherwise it’ll be hard for the blogger to recognize you.

2. Interact with them on social media

Respond to the comments, answer their questions, ask them questions, send them links you think they’d like.  Just the same way you’d do with a friend.

3. If you like something they did, link to it

We’ve talked about how oddly successful/useful link round-ups can be.  Readers love ’em,  they’re a great way to share a bit of traffic love with bloggers you like, and if you’re one of those people who doesn’t like writing, they’re a clever way of creating content without writing 500 words.  When you include someone in a link roundup, make sure to @mention them on Twitter so they’ll know you’re talking about them.

If you don’t have a blog, tweet links to bloggers’ content or retweet their links.

4. Share things you think they’d like

My readers know my painfully, awkwardly well.  Three different people sent me a link to this inflatable cat unicorn headband and two people sent me links to Macklemore’s Thrift shop song.   And I loved it.  And I totally remember who sent me those links.   Don’t be afraid to reach out to the people you like and admire with information that you think they’d find helpful.

5. If you’re going to pitch them, triple check that what you’re pitching is a good fit

Do they host guest posts?  Do they offer giveaways?  What is the monetary value of those giveaways?  Do they review products?  Do they use c/o items in their outfits posts?  It would be a pity to waste your time (and theirs) crafting the perfect pitch email and then sending it to the wrong person or the wrong type of blog.

6. Avoid doing any of these annoying things

Just like in real life, sometimes friendship is about Not Being Annoying.  I promise i’ll pay you that money I owe you, I won’t share that secret with So-and-so, and I won’t have four drinks when I promised to be the designated driver.

Here are some things you should avoid doing:

  • Misspelling their name
  • Sending them a template email
  • Asking them about anything you could Google
  • Asking them to locate a post they wrote
  • Writing an email that is more than two paragraphs long

I’d love to hear from you, bloggers!  How do you like to be treated?  How do you network and befriend other bloggers?  Small businesses, tell us about your interactions with bloggers!

P.S. 7 types of content that do the community-building and networking for you

blogging

Sarah Von Bargen

WANNA BE FRIENDS? HERE’S WHAT YOU CAN DO NEXT…


These 5 Questions Will Cure That Horrible Bloggers’ Block

By Guest Blogger Sarah Von Bargen

Friends, a warning.

This post will not give you copy and paste ideas for blog posts. This is not where I suggest starting a meme-worthy post series like “what’s in your purse?”

(Not because I don’t want to know what’s in your purse because I totally do. What’s your stance on those round chapstick ball things?)

Women with huge handbags B&W

Sarah Von Bargen Blogging

These are more start-of-the-brainstorming-session, open-to-your-interpretation suggestions. They’re a great place to start when you’re sitting down to plan out next month’s content.

With that said, here are five questions to ask yourself when you’re filling in that editorial calendar.

Am I working on any projects or offerings that I want to build buzz for? Can I give my readers a sneak peek of any upcoming stuff?

If you’re working on a brunch cookbook, write a post about the magic of brunch, link to your favorite brunchy recipes, tell people you’re working on the book, and tell them they can join your list so they’ll be the first to know when it comes out.

If you’re writing an ebook about getting over a break up, share a story about one of your breakups, what you learned from it, tell readers what you’re working on, and invite them to join your list. You get the idea!

Am I trying to grow my Twitter/Instagram/Pinterest followers this month?
Think about what you can write that pairs nicely with each of those platforms. If you’re trying to grow your Instagram following, do a roundup of Instagrammers you think people should follow (Kaelah does a nice job of this). @mention them so they know you’re talking about them and remind your readers that they can follow you.

If you’re trying to grow your Pinterest following, create content that relates to some of your best, most popular boards. Tell readers if they like this, then they’ll really love your Pinterest board on the same topic. 

Is there anything happening this time of year that’s particularly important to my readers and clients?
Do your readers care that it’s tax season? That it’s New York Fashion Week? The shoulder travel season in Europe? Chinese New Year?

woman torn jeans fashion

blogging tips

Think about the events that matter to your people and write content that helps them prepare and enjoy those events. During college graduation season I wrote about how to be a grown-ass woman and during the holiday shopping season I wrote about how to prepare your shop for a deluge of sales and customers.

Have there been any Big Deal developments in my industry or community that I should talk about?
What does it mean for your clients and readers when Facebook changes their policies? When gay marriage becomes legal? When there’s a polar vortex? When Apple releases a new phone? When New York makes Airbnb illegal?

I’m sure you stay up to date on the news and big developments in your industry and I’m sure you’ve got capital O Opinions. Share those with your readers! And if the developments are challenging or troubling, share any ideas about how to deal with them.

Have there been any big changes (good or bad, big or small) in my life that lead to epiphanies that would help my readers + clients?

Of course, if you blog exclusively about food it might be a bit weird to blog about your cat-ownership realizations. But most epiphanies aren’t industry-specific! I mean, I wrote about the business lessons I learned from creating a cat calendar.

Readers love to learn more about you and your life; they’ll probably enjoy hearing more about you while learning something useful.

Sarah Von Bargen

Sarah Von Bargen has been writing for 16 years, blogging for 8, and solving people’s problems online since dial up internet. Grab her free book ‘7 TRICKS FOR A POLISHED + IMPRESSIVE + PRODUCTIVE ONLINE LIFE’ here or follow along on Twitter


I Built an Igloo + Other Thoughts About Wonder

We played in the vast cornfields, running like colts, picking the lacy white flowers called Queen Anne’s Lace, which are really weeds.  Ella Wheeler Wilcox said, “A weed is but an unloved flower,” and we loved these frilly things. What I remember most from those days was the space. The wide open hills, the meadows, the big yards, dirt roads that went on and on, long stretches of green with big, old trees. 

Our neighbors, the Horsch’s had a barn with a tire swing inside of it. Next door the Shearers had horses. I love the smell of horses. Their pungent fur, their manure, and the way they get grass stains on their lips. How we fed them hands flat so they didn’t accidentally bite off a finger.

In those days I remember putting The Sound of Music on the phonograph, one of those large monstrosities built into a cabinet, lifting the needle to play the record over and over again until my mother cried, “Stop! You’re driving me crazy!” And made us boot up and go play in the snow. It was like being suited up like an astronaut, not an inch of flesh showing. Everything covered except our eyes. Our eyelashes would freeze like tiny stars.

deer in snow with person

When we looked through the world through those snowflakes eyelashes it was a magical place. Our faces upturned to the sky, watching the white come down from the heavens. It was as if outer space was somehow knowable, these time travelers come to tell us that the world is vast and both knowable and unknowable.

You can travel to places beyond yourself and return home for the cocoa with the mini marshmallows that we would try to eat before they melted. There were jacks in summer on the sidewalk in front of our house. Every day I couldn’t wait to play.

Remember wonder

Remember wonder

Do you remember that kind of excitement where you welcomed every day anew? Sprang out of bed, not caring what clothes you wore. Fun was the thing. And wonder. That’s what we were seeking then without even knowing it.

That we could build an igloo — a real one — digging out the snow before it froze up against the embankment made of thick wooden slats. Then the three or four of us would go into our little building and it was warm in there. Really warm. While outside the wind blew and the sun blazed, both warm and cold existing like estranged siblings.

In the spring the field where we built the igloo was transformed into a blanket of Monarch butterflies, thousands of them, visiting flower after flower. They do not distinguish flower from weed.

deep blue moonThere was a time when phones didn’t buzz on the table. When we didn’t need to take pictures of our food to enjoy it. Or capture a good moment then try to re-live it. Or more likely never even looking at it again. There was a time when we could just look at the night sky and call out, “Hey you, star. I see you. How are you doing?” There was a time when we let ourselves revel in the simple brightness of being.

 


The life-Changing Magic of Speaking Up. (This is my story. What’s yours?)

As a high school student in Palo Alto, California, I was irrepressibly curious and constantly looking for strange and exciting new experiences to try out. And if those “strange and exciting” adventures meant that I could make a little extra money on the side? Even better!

That’s how I wound up sitting in a laboratory with a guy in a white lab coat who explained that he was conducting an important scientific experiment. I was going to be compensated for my time and, so it seemed, helping to further a scientific discovery. This was great!

“There’s a man sitting in another room, on the other side of this wall,” Mr. White Coat explained to me. “This man is taking a test and if he answers a question incorrectly, you must give him an electric shock.”

Mr. White Coat shocks me the 15 volts to show me how it feels. Ow! I jerk in my seat. Tolerable, but definitely painful.

“Remember,” Mr. White Coat reminds me. “If the test subject gets the wrong answer, you shock him.”

The test begins. The man taking the test gets a string of wrong answers. I shock him. Wrong answer. I shock him again.

With each progressive shock, the man on the other side of the wall — the man I am shocking — begins to yelp, then cry out, then scream. It sounds like the pain is becoming unbearable. I glance up at Mr. White Coat and he urges me to keep going. After the third shock, the man on the other side of the wall SCREAMS out, “Stop! Please! STOP! Let me out!” and starts pounding frantically on the wall. I yank back my hands and stand up.

“This experiment is over. I won’t shock him any more. He’s screaming. It obviously hurts.”

Sternly, he urges me to sit down and continue. “You agreed to this experiment so you have to finish it.”

“No, forget it, I won’t do it,” I tell him. I gather my things and prepare to leave. Mr. White Coat puts his hand on my shoulder to stop me and says,

“Wait.”

Photo Credit: Death to stock photo Experimenter The Movie

Photo Credit: Death to stock photo Experimenter The Movie

“The man on the other side of the wall is also participating in the experiment. He wasn’t really being shocked. You weren’t hurting him. He was just pretending. He wasn’t the test subject. YOU are.”

You can imagine, my teenage jaw fell right down to the floor. I was stunned and also relieved.

He went on to explain that he and his colleagues were conducting an experiment to see how people obey orders and respond to “authority figures.”

The results were pretty troubling.

Many of the people controlling the “shock” button kept shocking, and shocking, and shocking, and shocking…up to 450 volts (“Danger: severe shock”) despite horrible screams and pleas coming from beyond the wall.

According to The Atlantic Magazine, in one variation of the experiment, 65% of the people shocked the other person to “death.” (Not really, of course, because the actor was just pretending. But they didn’t know that.)

When asked, “Why did you do that? Why did you keep administering the shock?” most people would respond with some variation of, “The guy in the white coat told me to do it!”

Pretty staggering, right? As this experiment, first conducted by Stanley Milgram — which went on to become a famous, historic experiment, and is now a Hollywood movie called Experimenter — demonstrates, most people do not question authority. If someone who appears to wearing some kind of “uniform” doles out an instruction, most people simply obey.

I was one of the few people who wouldn’t obey. Why? Because I won’t be bullied into hurting somebody, even if I’m told that I “must.” (“Must” is not a word that I like and I do not like being told what to do.) But I do know that it comes from my family, who has always taught me to stand up for what I believe no matter what. And to be kind and to help others who are in distress.

So this non-conformist attitude came from the example of my upbringing. As far as I can remember, I’ve always been wired that way — and it definitely carries through to my work today.

Photo Credit: Death to Stock Photo Be kind whenever possible. It is always possible. ~ The Dalai Lama

Photo Credit: Death to Stock Photo Be kind whenever possible. It is always possible. ~ The Dalai Lama

When a client said to me, “My publisher wants to put out a press release that doesn’t accurately represent my work and the content of my book and I don’t feel right about it, but don’t feel like I can say anything. After all, they know best.” I told my client, “Don’t go against your own moral compass. Let’s come up with a new strategy and present it to them.” That’s what we did and it was readily accepted.

Or when another client said to me, “A sales expert told me I had to use his coaching model to get clients, but those aren’t the people I really want to work with,” I told my client, “Then stop that. We can find another way that reaches the people you resonate with.” I helped her get her first $10,000 client for a new program we devised. She was elated and said, “You turned my world upside down. What you have really opened my eyes to is another level of living. One to which I have aspired, but my only model was ‘become a guru.’  (shudder) Not only are you helping me, you are modeling a way of thinking that uplifts my spirit.”

When I see someone doing something that’s painful, unethical, ineffective, or that just “doesn’t feel right” for whatever reason, I urge them to speak up. I urge them to stop. I urge them to trust their instincts, rather than blindly trusting “The Man in the White Coat.”

Your “speaking up” story can be anything you want. Stopping a person from beating their dog. Telling a teacher that you DO in fact have singing skills. A time when you spoke up in a meeting and suggested something totally opposite to the common group think.

Speak up for what is right

Speak up for what is right

By speaking up and choosing to behave differently than your peers, you could transform your industry, change your customer’s lives, or (who knows?) even save someone’s life.

When you feel the urge to speak up or defy the “orders” you’ve been given, do it.

With very, very few exceptions, you will not regret it.

Can you think of a time when you spoke up and it changed your life or someone else’s life? I want to hear your story.

Here’s how to share:

  • Head over to Instagram (download the app here to sign up if you don’t already have an account).

  • Once you’re logged into Instagram, follow me and then post a photo plus some text. For the text, briefly tell a story about a time in your life when you chose to speak up—where you were, what you said, and what happened next.

  • Include this hashtag somewhere in your text: #TheMagicOfSpeakingUp and tag me @susanharrow

  • Guidelines: please keep your story brief. 250 words or less. Think: “sound bite sized.” Also, please keep your story G-rated and appropriate for kids and teens to read. Extra credit for concise stories!

  • Please do your Instagram post by November 24 and encourage friends to participate, too!

  • Not on Instagram? No problem. Do the same thing on Facebook. Please “like” my page and remember to use the hashtag #TheMagicOfSpeakingUp and to tag me @susanharrow.

Prizes!

Prizes for everyone

Every single person who shares a story on Instagram or Facebook receives my E-book Girl On Fire—which shows you how to speak up in 10 of life’s trickiest scenarios—just for participating!

Here’s how to get that prize (and be entered in the contest for the grand prize):

Go to Instagram or Facebook.

  1. On Instagram follow me and then tag EITHER the photo OR the text using @susanharrow.
  2. Post your story and image. NOTE: Make sure that you own the rights to the image or have creative commons commercial use rights. All submissions must have an image as well as text. Need some photo inspiration? Go here.
  3. Use the hashtag #TheMagicOfSpeakingUp.
  4. Tag me: @susanharrow.
  5. Go here to download your prize!
  6. I’ll announce the grand prize winner on December 9! (I hope it’s you!)

(Note: this is purely an “honor system” situation. No big hoops to jump through. If you posted a story, then go ahead and get your prize! It’s yours for the taking. Enjoy.)

Grand prize for one person 

I will also select one story—the one that I feel is the most poignant or had the most impact—and that storyteller will receive the grand prize: My 6 month mentorship program to get prepared for publicity for or to launch your publicity program (Worth $11,500). I’ll announce the grand prize winner on my Instagram account and my Facebook Page on December 9. (Follow me on Instagram at @susanharrow and on Facebook to stay in the loop!)

This will be so fun and inspiring!

Whether you have a story about a huge, life-altering moment—or a small, quiet, everyday act of bravery—I want to see how you decided to speak up.

 

Small print: 

In submitting a photo and story (The Work) you give memy publisher, and its licensees and assigns permission to use any and/or all of the material from your post including the photo in all editions and derivations of The Work throughout the World, in all languages and all media, whether now known or hereinafter devised, and in the advertising, publicity, and promotion thereof. Proper credit will be attributed to you in The Work.

 

In submitting a story with an image/photograph you grant the permission requested above and warrant that the material indicated below does not infringe upon the copyright or other rights of anyone. If you do not control the rights requested by this post in their entirety, please provide me with the name and address of any other party from whom permission is required.

 

I cannot wait to see your story. Whether it’s a story about a gigantic act of courage — or a small, everyday act of bravery — it all counts and it’s all amazing.

This blog post was inspired by a lovely & very popular book called The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up by Marie Kondo. It’s delightful. You should read it. 

Speak your mind. Stand your ground. Sing your song™.


The Life Changing Magic of Speaking Up – A Story Contest

Share your story & get a prize! For…

The Life Changing Magic of Speaking Up™

Can you think of a time when you spoke up and it changed your life — or someone else’s life — for the better?

Maybe you saw a classmate bullying someone on the schoolyard and you spoke up and said, “Back off!”

Maybe you witnessed harm being done to a child or animal and intervened.

Maybe a colleague made a bigoted or sexist comment and you objected or said, “You need to apologize. That’s not OK.”

Maybe you had a “funny gut feeling” to call, visit or email a friend, parent, sibling, or client at a particular moment and your message changed the course of their day — or life.

Maybe you asked for a pay raise, a promotion, a new project, or an opportunity that you wanted—and you got it.

Maybe you bravely got onstage—or published a blog post—to share a true story from your own life and it led to a beautiful opportunity, inspired your audience to take action, or shifted your whole year in an unexpected way.

When you speak up—honestly, courageously, straight from the heart—your words can unlock incredible opportunities, open people’s eyes, help to correct wrongdoings, biases, and misconceptions, and make the world a better place.

The life-changing magic of speaking up contest

The life-changing magic of speaking up contest

Speaking up is magical.

I love hearing stories about people who have chosen to speak up—what they did, what they said, and what happened next—and I want to hear your story. 

To reward you for sharing your story, I’m turning this into a CONTEST with a delicious prize for EVERYONE who participates! (Hooray!)

Here’s how it works:

  • Head over to Instagram (download the app here to sign up if you don’t already have an account).
  • Once you’re logged into Instagram, follow me and then post a photo plus some text on your feed. For the text, briefly tell a story about a time in your life when you chose to speak up—where you were, what you said, and what happened next.
  • Include this hashtag somewhere in your text: #TheMagicOfSpeakingUp and tag me @susanharrow
  • Guidelines: please keep your story brief. 250 words or less. Think: “sound bite sized.” Also, please keep your story G-rated and appropriate for kids and teens to read. Extra credit for concise stories!
  • Please do your Instagram post by November 24 and encourage friends to participate, too!
  • Not on Instagram? No problem. Do the same thing on Facebook. Please “like” my page and remember to use the hashtag #TheMagicOfSpeakingUp and to tag me @susanharrow.

Prizes!

Prizes for everyone

Every single person who shares a story on Instagram or Facebook receives my E-book Girl On Fire—which shows you how to speak up in 10 of life’s trickiest scenarios—just for participating!

Here’s how to get that prize (and be entered in the contest for the grand prize):

Go to Instagram or Facebook.

  1. On Instagram follow me and tag EITHER the photo OR the text using @susanharrow.
  2. Post your story and image. NOTE: Make sure that you own the rights to the image or have creative commons commercial use rights. All submissions must have an image as well as text. Need some photo inspiration? Go here.
  3. Use the hashtag #TheMagicOfSpeakingUp.
  4. Tag me: @susanharrow.
  5. Go here to download your prize!
  6. I’ll announce the grand prize winner on December 9! (I hope it’s you!)

(Note: this is purely an “honor system” situation. No big hoops to jump through. If you posted a story, then go ahead and get your prize! It’s yours for the taking. Enjoy.)

design

Grand prize for one person 

I will also select one story—the one that I feel is the most poignant or had the most impact—and that storyteller will receive the grand prize: My 6 month mentorship program to get prepared for publicity for or to launch your publicity program (Worth $11,500). I’ll announce the grand prize winner on my Instagram account and my Facebook Page on December 9. (Follow me on Instagram at @susanharrow and on Facebook to stay in the loop!)

This will be so fun and inspiring!

Whether you have a story about a huge, life-altering moment—or a small, quiet, everyday act of bravery—I want to see how you decided to speak up.

I can’t wait to see your story!

This contest was inspired by a lovely and very popular book called The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up by Marie Kondo. You can buy the book here. 

Small print: 

In submitting a photo and story (The Work) you give me, my publisher, and its licensees and assigns permission to use any and/or all of the material from your post including the photo in all editions and derivations of The Work throughout the World, in all languages and all media, whether now known or hereinafter devised, and in the advertising, publicity, and promotion thereof. Proper credit will be attributed to you in The Work.

 

In submitting a story with an image/photograph you grant the permission requested above and warrant that the material indicated below does not infringe upon the copyright or other rights of anyone. If you do not control the rights requested by this post in their entirety, please provide me with the name and address of any other party from whom permission is required.