How to Escape the Trap of the Niche and Embrace Your Full Self

What if, instead of niching down, like all of the marketing experts tell you to, you began with exploring who you are?

What if you started your business on a foundation of self love? What if you gathered all of your unique and strange parts together and that was your niche, instead of an arbitrary idea of what you “should” do?

That’s what this post explores.

Yesterday, I met with a coaching client who has a therapy practice. For months, I had tried to get her to niche down. She is brilliant at helping families go through addiction recovery and I wanted her to focus solely on that.

She explained to me how much she loves working with healthy couples, and new mothers, and teens. I could see that she was struggling because she thought I would be disappointed that she didn’t want to niche down.

As she spoke, I realized that maybe niching down didn’t make sense for her. Maybe, instead of trying to get her to be super specific, I should celebrate her strengths and encourage her to use them with all types of clients.

You see, this client is extremely creative. She uses dance, storytelling, and sensory exploration to help her clients heal. I thought, What if she emphasized her creativity, instead of limiting who she works with? What if I help her do more of what she loves instead of trying to fit her into a nicely defined box for the sake of marketing?

When I told her my thoughts, she let out a sigh of relief. And so did I.

Even though every marketer tells you to niche down, it can often feel like wearing Spanx – so restrictive it’s hard to breathe. Your business may look sexier, but you’re never completely comfortable.

Niching down is like wearing Spanx. You may look sexier, but it's hard to breathe.Click To Tweet

Here’s how I’ve tried to niche down in the past:

I tried to figure out what people wanted. I looked at lists of psychographics and demographics. I picked one area or topic to focus on based on my strengths.

My main goal was to make it easier for people to “get” what I did. I wanted to make money quickly (which didn’t work, in case you were wondering). Also, to be painstakingly honest, I didn’t want to do the deep, messy work of truly looking at myself and then creating a niche based on everything that I am.

I tried to take a shortcut. It didn’t work.

I ended up with a blog and a business that felt so unaligned with me I had to dump all of my well-researched tactics and start over.

But I’m convinced there’s another way, a more intuitive, fuller way, to create a unique niche.

I want to create a brand, that doesn’t diminish me for the sake of convenience, but instead, represents who I actually am.

I’m sharing this with you because I’m guessing you may be sick of wearing metaphorical Spanx, tired of trying to fit yourself into a box so that other people “get” who you are and what you do.

The first step is to get down, in writing, or in drawing, or however feels good to you, all of your strange and beautiful complexities.

I’ve explored this in two ways.

First, I made this bullseye. The center shows my values in blue, followed by my actions in green, then what I make, and finally, what I sell.

Then, I wrote down some ideas about who I am and what I offer:

My approach: Playful, creative, connective, intuitive, innovative, concrete
My values: Honesty, joy, integrity, uniqueness, permission
My strengths: Writing, breaking concepts down, meeting people where they are, seeing different possibilities, teaching through expressive modalities, learning, making connections, humor, honesty/vulnerability, courage to explore
Things I love to do: Have deep conversations, go on adventures, write, connect, read, learn new things, celebrate other people’s uniqueness, create, experiment
Qualities I bring to my clients: Listening, reliability, care, exploration, permission, fun/joy
Key moments in my story: When I went on LEAPYear, shaved my head, became a teacher, pursued my own business, moved to Miami, grew Blogging on Your Own Terms, met my Soul Women
What is important for me to share: The complexity of creating, our endless capacity for reinvention through creativity and curiosity, stop defining and start noticing, it’s okay to follow the money

These are the things that feel intuitively right for me to explore. You are welcome to use my format to write your own list. Or it might look different for you. That’s okay, too.

If you know my blog, if you know my writing, you know that I can’t write a blog post without some concrete steps to follow.

So here are a few guidelines for how to begin exploring the fullness of who you are.

  1. Start with your values. What is your core, your foundation? Begin with that.
  2. Don’t let your brain take charge of this process. Follow your intuition. Write down whatever comes up, no matter how strange, embarrassing, or irrelevant it feels.
  3. Be creative. Draw. Paint. Dance into your niche. Seriously. Let yourself explore.
  4. Play. Go outside. Take a walk. Let your joy speak.
  5. Be curious.
  6. Go into moments of power in your past. What have you done or experienced that changed you forever? Those moments matter.
  7. Let yourself stay with complexity, with not knowing, with the messiness. Don’t try to “make sense” of it all. This part of the process is about seeing yourself fully. That’s it.

Here’s another truth bomb for you.

I don’t know where this is leading. I may write another blog post where I fold this into a unique, well defined niche. Or I may see a thread inside of this self-knowledge, and follow that to a project. Or an idea.

Right now, knowing myself feels like a solid foundation to begin rebuilding. So I’m starting there. And if it feels right to you, I hope you’ll start there with me.

The Delicious Freedom of Not Knowing

I burned my business to the ground last month.

I’m freelance writing these days.

I love it. Not because it’s my life purpose. Not because it’s what I’ve always been searching for.

I love it because it’s fun, I’m good at it, and I’m making money. I’m learning. I’m growing.

It doesn’t have to be more than that. It’s what I’m doing now.

I wrote an article about pregnancy announcements.

I got paid to watch videos of a couple singing a Britney Spears pregnancy medley, a husband crying in a photo booth, and Prego sauce dripping down a bathroom mirror like blood. Life changing? No. Entertaining? Yes.

I’m tired of taking myself so seriously.

I talked to an energetic healer/life coach last week. She told me the purpose of life is to be happy. What a relief.

Here’s what I’m telling myself these days that you might find helpful, too:

  • You don’t have to know the answers. Now, or ever. In fact, thinking you own the TRUTH gets you into a lot of trouble.
  • Your first task is to let go and trust. After that, everything else unfolds with greater ease.
  • It’s okay to change what you’re doing. It’s okay to admit you’re wrong. It’s okay to give up and choose another path.
  • Money is just money. It isn’t any more valuable if it comes from your life’s purpose. $5 from dog walking can buy the same latte as $5 from your life’s purpose (whatever that means).
  • Who said your life’s purpose is one thing, anyway? Can’t we have a bunch of purposes?
  • Your blog is just something you’ve made. It isn’t you. It doesn’t contain your worthiness.
  • Your business is just something you’re trying out. It isn’t you. You can burn it to the ground and survive.
  • Stop worrying about what other people think and do your thing.
  • Make joy a priority.
  • Stop trying to be the expert. You know what you know. Just share it.
  • You don’t need to prove yourself. You own your knowledge. You own your abilities. You own your love. You own your creativity. That’s true no matter what. Even if you don’t get this client. Even if you don’t get social shares. Even if you never blog again.
  •  You’re allowed to be happy right now. It doesn’t matter if you’re in debt or don’t know where you’ll be living in a year. Be happy anyway.
Your first task is to let go and trust. After that, everything else unfolds with greater ease.Click To Tweet

There’s so much pressure to know.

To know what we’re doing. To know our path. To know our purpose. To know our niche.

To know what we’re here on this beautiful Earth to do.

But lately, I’ve found that I’d rather not know.

I’d rather remain open and curious. I’d rather do what feels intuitively good.

I’d rather write a blog post about pregnancy announcements and then walk my dog by the water and feel the salty humid air on my skin.

I’d rather be open. I’d rather say, Universe, bring on the joy. Show me. 

I’d rather do that than have the answers.

So. Here I am, savoring the wild delicious freedom of not knowing.

Universe, I am ready. Bring it on.

How to Trust Yourself More as a Blogger

In order to create a blog you love, you must trust yourself.

In creating blog posts and in growing an audience, you step into the unknown. And it’s a little bit scary to put yourself and your voice out there.

You might think…

  • What if no one likes this post?
  • Who am I to say I’m an expert?
  • Am I doing this right?
  • What if people think I’m crazy?

And on and on.

When these fears come up, it’s easy to:
A. Stop yourself from blogging at all.
B. Search out the advice of so-called blogging gurus.
C. Blog about what you think people want rather than what you truly care about.

But there is an option D. Which is to trust yourself.

You can do things to build that trust day by day, week by week.

Until, one day, you will find yourself thinking I got this, and plunging into a new blog post without a second thought.

That feeling is awesome.

So…how do you develop that trust?

1. Show up for yourself and do what you commit to doing

There are 2 parts to this, and both are equally important.

1. Make a commitment to yourself that you can keep.

How often have you told yourself, I will write a blog post every morning, and then you feel like a failure when you only write once a month.

It’s okay. You are human.

But in the future, try not to make commitments to yourself that you can’t keep.

How often can you actually commit to working on your blog? Choose something that feels good and that you will do.

You know yourself, so just lovingly ask, Self, what is realistic here? and you will get the answer.

2. Show up for your blog when you say you will.

You may want to put your blogging time on the calendar. Or you may want to commit to doing it on a specific day, but leave it open as to when.

Just make sure that you make a solid commitment and follow through with it.

Every time you sit down to blog when you say you will, your trust in yourself as a blogger will grow.

2. Listen to your intuition

Trust your gut. Trust your intuition. Do what it says.

You know what I’m talking about. That little voice inside that says, Why don’t you try this? or Maybe you could do that.

We all have a wise inner self. And when we consistently listen to it, we are able to hear it with greater and greater clarity.

This is especially important when it comes to writing and growing a blog. It is so easy – almost inevitable – to fall into the trap of looking at what everyone else is doing and then falling into line.

But your blog’s success – and your own fulfillment as a blogger – depends on you doing your own thing in your own way.

Your intuition knows…

  • Your deeper purpose for blogging
  • What you need to write right now
  • What your readers care about
  • How to leverage your greatest strengths in your blog

The only thing that’s keeping you from knowing these things is your fear and your desire to “get it right.”

Drop your fear, lean into your intuition, and you’ll find your way.

3. Let go.

There is a strange interplay between trust and letting go.

On one hand, how do you let go when you don’t trust? On the other, how can you be held if you don’t let go?

How will you know you’re safe if you don’t let yourself take down your defenses?

Blogging takes a tremendous amount of letting go.

  • Let go of your attachment to outcomes.
  • Let go of wanting it to be perfect.
  • Let go of knowing how it will be received.
  • Let go of needing the approval of others.
  • Let go of that voice in your head that tells you you’re not good enough.

When you let go of these things you don’t need, you will find your creative core at the center. And that’s where truly transformative blog posts come from.

4. Lead yourself forward.

Guide your blogging decisions from a place of strength and self knowledge.

Take time to ask yourself what you actually want from your blog.

Why do you want to grow an audience?

What is the message you care about so much that you’re willing to write about it week after week for the foreseeable future?

How do you want to earn money?

How can you grow your online presence and feel good the whole time? (Or at least most of it?)

Create a foundation for your blog and your business. Base it on self knowledge and thoughtfulness.

Then when a decision comes up like, Should I buy this course? or Should I put ads on my blog? you can go back and make your decisions from a place of strength and self trust rather than fear.

If you’re a blogger, you are a leader.

You’re someone who wants to serve people, to change how they think, and to educate them. And you must do that from a place of strength and trust in yourself.

If you’re a blogger, you're a leader. So trust yourself to lead your blog forward. Click To Tweet

So treat yourself like the powerful, trustworthy person you are.

  • Only make commitments you can keep, and then show up for them.
  • Listen to your intuition.
  • Let go.
  • Lead yourself forward.

When you fully trust yourself as a blogger, others will trust you as well. And then you can finally reach the more people and make a greater impact with your blog.

How to Stop Listening to Blogging Gurus and Stand Out Online

To become a successful business owner or blogger, you must know how to stand out online.

But here’s the real, painful irony: in pursuit of writing a popular blog or getting clients, so many of us (including me) get caught up in trying to use other people’s formulas.

It’s nearly impossible to avoid clicking on blog posts with titles like “5 Blog Post Templates That Will Knock Your Readers’ Socks Off” or “My Simple 7 Step Formula for Getting a Bajillion Email Subscribers in 2 Days.”

These posts promise quick results for little thought or ingenuity.

As fallible humans, we want results and success fast. So we do our best to imitate the strategies of others. Only to make blogs that are the same as everyone else’s.

And then we wonder why we’re not getting thousands of readers like the “gurus” we’re attempting to imitate. We’re left thinking there’s something wrong with us for not being able to use these formulas to catapult us into instant success.

But here’s the truth.

Formulas won’t make you stand out online.

Formulas won’t make you a success.

Formulas won’t bring you instant wealth and fame.

Only your own ingenuity, creativity, and intuition can make you stand out online. Only your inner wisdom, grit and determination will bring you the success you are looking for.

So throw out the formulas. Don’t expect someone else’s blog post or online course to give you the keys to the castle.

Want to stand out online? Be authentic.Click To Tweet

What you have inside of you cannot be replicated. It’s your secret sauce. Your magic juice. And no one else has it.

So, how do you access that magic juice and use it to stand out online? Here are a few ways. (No formulas included. I promise.)

1. Use your intuition to come up with blog post topics.

Throw out your lists of headline hacks and blog post templates, and instead, rely on your intuition to guide your planning.

In a recent episode of my new favorite podcast, Unthinkable, The Role of Gut Instincts in Content Marketing, Jay Acunzo and Tim Jensen explored the idea that your gut feeling or intuition isn’t some magic spiritual thing. It’s actually your subconscious mind, which is guided by your deep well of experience and knowledge.

You probably know a lot about your topic, your unique approach, and your audience. So you can trust yourself to use that knowledge and insight to inform your blog post ideas.

Sit down and do some deep thinking.

Feel into your intuition and ask yourself these questions:

  • What do my readers need to know right now?
  • What message am I aching to share?
  • What deep questions am I grappling with?
  • How have I profoundly helped someone recently?
  • What’s a simple thing I know a lot about?

Let your blog post ideas come from a desire to genuinely serve your readers and clients, rather than from an attempt to make something that you think people will like.

2. Reframe how you think about your online marketing

All too often, we think of our blogs like megaphones, our email lists like cash cows, and our online marketing activities like tentacles intended to draw people in. Ick.

Let’s reframe that.

Your blog is meant to be a conversation starter and an entry point for people to learn about you.

Your email list is meant to create a relationship between you and your readers. It’s a list of people whom you can serve and from whom you can learn.

Your online marketing is an opportunity for you to find ideal clients, collaborators, and mentors, and to build genuine relationships with them that are beneficial to both of you.

Even though you can’t see your readers or email list subscribers, they’re actual people. (If I sound condescending, know that I’m writing this to myself just as much as to you.)

So follow the same social guidelines you would in person.

Be helpful. Be curious. Be real. Be open.

Start conversations. Connect on an emotional level.

Forge genuine connections. That’s how you’ll stand out online.

3. Stop trying to grow your email list

Have you noticed that most bloggers are obsessed with growing their email lists and page views?

I get it. Believe me.

But the reality is most of your email subscribers and readers are on a bajillion email lists and read thousands of blogs. So seeing those numbers creep up doesn’t actually mean that much.

While everyone else online is trying to get more, more, more, you could be doing something truly remarkable: trying to get to know the people who already showed you they’re interested in your offerings.

Imagine you’re at a party, and you’re talking to someone who seems fairly interesting.

After a few minutes of conversation, he asks you if you want his business card and he takes yours in return. As soon as you pocket his card, he immediately moves on to someone else. The next day, you get a generic email from him that makes it clear he has no idea who you are (probably because you’re one of dozens of people he barely talked to at the party).

But at the same party, you meet a really nice guy who takes the time to get to know you. He asks you about yourself. He hangs out with you for awhile and asks some deep questions. After talking to him, you feel seen and heard. And when he emails you the next day, he mentions something you discussed the day before.

Which of these guys would you be more likely to hire or do business with? Probably the second.

Unfortunately, in the online world, most people are like the first guy. They want your email address, and they want thousands of other email addresses, too. But they don’t take the time to actually get to know you or what you need.

So, how do you stand out online? By being like the second guy. By inviting actual conversation with your readers. By getting to know them. That’s how you’ll convert visitors into clients.

Can you still grow your list to thousands? Of course.

But first, focus on understanding your current subscribers. Figure out what they want, what drives them and who they are. Then use that to grow.

4. Be realistic about what you can solve for your readers

Many online marketers will tell you to figure out what your readers are struggling with the most and then create something that solves their problem.

Which sounds good and all. But often, our readers’ greatest struggles are large and complex and can’t be solved with a free PDF or email course. (I know, I’m disappointed, too.)

But, ever the good students, we try to create quick solutions to problems that can’t be solved that easily. And our resulting freebies leave our readers feeling like failures.

So instead of trying to make something to solve your readers’ greatest pain point, make something that actually solves a small problem, instead.

My friend Kathy was struggling to grow her email list. Then she created some beautiful goal sheets for a talk she was giving in Sonoma California, where she lives. She decided that since she’d already made them, she would put them up online and see what happened.

Her email list grew by hundreds and then thousands. It’s 2 years later, and she still gets about 20 opt-ins per day. (Yeah, I know.)

She told me that she thinks people are downloading them in droves because she made them to be used.

What can you make to be used?

5. Trust yourself

What drives us to search for easy, quick formulas and solutions?

In my experience, it’s uncertainty, fear, and perfectionism.

This online marketing thing is hard. So is owning your own business.

It takes courage to write a blog post and put it out there, to email a group of people you’ve never met, and to ask for a sale. It’s freaking scary sometimes.

So we go on a search for the “right way” to do things for fear that we’ll make a mistake.

But making mistakes is actually a good thing. It allows us to learn and hone our craft. It is part of the process of making something truly unique.

When we try to take shortcuts, we end up short circuiting our creative process and making stuff that looks like everyone else’s.

But you don’t have to do that. You can trust yourself.

The next time you feel that fear, that doubt, that anxiety creep up, ask yourself, “How would I move forward with this? What’s my best solution right now? How can I get playful and creative in this moment?”

Trust yourself and make something that’s truly a reflection of you.

To stand out online, stop listening to the blogging gurus and listen to yourself, instead.

  • Use your intuition to guide your blog post ideas.
  • Reframe how you think about your online marketing
  • Instead of focusing on growing your list and page views, get to know the people who are already in your community
  • Be realistic about the problems you can solve
  • Trust yourself

Here’s one final thing to think about.

This is not just about learning how to stand out online. It’s also about giving yourself the permission to be real, to be creative, and to make genuine connections. Which, in my mind, is far more important.

8 Reasons Writer’s Block is Kicking Your Butt (and how to defeat it)

writers block

I am a writer. It’s a core part of my identity. But lately, I’ve been struggling with writer’s block.

And today when I woke up, I knew. I knew that I needed to jump back into it. I was kick of writer’s block kicking my butt.

So I sat down and I wrote a headline. I checked it with the Coschedule Headline Analyzer. Score: 55

I rewrote it. Still 55.

Shit.

I walked around. And then I realized something.

Writer’s block is real.

I/You can’t just sit down and push through it. We must go in and understand it first. Only then can we lovingly get back to writing.

Here’s why you and I might be battling with writer’s block. And how we can overcome it and get back to work.

1. There’s a truth you’re hiding from.

The worst writer’s block I ever experienced was in college. My senior project (called a Div III at Hampshire College), was to write a collection of poems. I thought it would be the best thing ever. I loved writing poetry and suddenly, all I needed to do every day was write a poem.

Oh boy was I wrong.

I was in a terrible relationship, but I wasn’t willing to admit how unhappy I was. Because I was unwilling to face this nasty truth, I could barely force myself to write.

Writing poetry became torture because of this stuck truth.

Now, coming back to my blog after letting it rest for a few months, I feel some truths hiding in the dusty corners of my body.

Here are the truths that are keeping me from writing:

  • I’m ashamed that I stopped blogging for a few months. But I can’t do anything about it.
  • I feel such a strong need to write something perfect, something share-worthy, something for my ideal clients, that I don’t let myself write anything. (Even while claiming I’m anything but a perfectionist. Oops.)
  • I’m a little burnt out and I’m not sure how to get un-burnt out.
  • I shifted my focus away from blogging and now I’m back again, coaching content marketing, and I feel like a weirdo because of it.
  • I want to have all the answers. But I don’t.
  • I struggle to claim my own expertise.
  • I don’t want to get trapped in the stats-hungry approval-seeking always-distracted pattern I found myself in a few years ago, and I’m afraid that if I fully commit to blogging again, I will go there.
  • I lost myself in the online content marketing world. Then I found myself. Now I want to go back into it, but how do I know I will keep being me?

There they are. My truths in all of their beautiful (ugly) glory. And reading over them, bringing to light the places I’m getting in my own way, gives me resolve to write consistently again.

In other words, now that I see my enemies, I can destroy them with a stroke of my keyboard. (Or something like that.)

So…if you find yourself stuck and unable to write, list your truths. You’ll probably get the juices flowing.

2. You feel like everything you write has to be perfect.

I mentioned this in my list of truths, but it bears repeating. Because this nasty devil gets in the way of so many writers and bloggers.

It becomes nearly impossible to write when you feel like you need to create something perfect every time.

Your creative muse can’t be heard when your inner critic keeps shouting, “Nothing you write will be good enough, you fool!”

And the sad but amusing truth is that without writing a lot of throwaway posts, it is very difficult to write truly masterful ones.

Without practice, how can you ever expect to master a craft? Even Harry Potter needed to go to Hogwarts for 7 years before he could defeat Voldemort.

Here’s how to get around that perfectionism:

  • Accept that you are on a path of continuous growth in your blogging and writing, and the only way to get to the next step is to write something.
  • Do another art form where the perfectionism hasn’t taken hold. That will loosen your muscles and remind you that you don’t have to be perfect.
  • Make a goal to write a shitty blog post every month. You might be surprised at the great post you write when you sit down to write a crappy one.
  • Use the rules of writing practice. They have singlehandedly defeated my need for perfectionism many, many times.

3. You’re out of the habit.

This one is huge for me.

It’s like working out. For 8 years (!) I did yoga 3 times a week, every week. I was addicted to it.

Then I moved away from Denver, didn’t find a yoga studio I loved, and stopped. I’ve gone to 2 yoga classes in the past 2 years. (Slinks away in shame.)

The same thing happened with writing. When I first started blogging, I wrote every day. Then it shrunk to 5 times a week. Then 3. Then 2. Then 1. You get the picture.

One of the reasons I haven’t written a post in a few months is simply because I let blogging slip out of my weekly schedule. But once I sat down to write this post, after shaking off a few cobwebs, I was back in business.

And here’s the thing. I looooove writing. Writing this feels like a big drink of water in the desert.

So when I say to make it a habit, it’s less about painstakingly setting aside time to write, and more about remembering how much you love it and fitting it into your day.

You don’t even need to do it at the same time every week. Just give yourself a number of posts to write each week or each month, and then write them.

You can make it more fun for yourself by creating a writing space, making a delicious drink to sip while you write, or coercing your dog to warm your feet while you write.

Once you start writing regularly, it’s a lot easier to keep going.

4. You’re focusing too much on strategy and not on depth or vice versa.

For some people, blogging is a purely strategic move.

For me, it goes deeper. Way deeper.

When I write something, it has to matter to me. It has to contain some nugget of truth. It has to touch down to my core.

So when I try to write posts that are purely results oriented, it feels really hard. Instead of being a pleasurable experience, it’s like wading through sludge.

But when I just write for myself, without taking my business goals into consideration, it’s less exciting. Because I know my post won’t speak to my clients or bring me business.

That’s why it’s so important to find a balance between strategy and honesty. Between you as a business owner and you as a human.

So when you sit down to write, find a topic that lets you intermingle your expertise with your truth. Choose to write posts that deeply resonate inside of you and that speak to your clients as well.

How do you do this? By knowing yourself as well as you possibly can, and by understanding your readers and clients to their core.

When you are an expert on yourself, your work, and your clients, your intuition will naturally guide you to the post topics that serve you and your people the best. It’s a matter of getting curious and trusting yourself.

And if you don’t know yourself and your clients that well yet, just write the best thing you can. This is a process. Remember that.

5. You are stuck in the comparison trap.

You want to write great blog posts to bring in more clients. So you go into the wide world of the internet, and you find posts that other coaches or therapists are writing. You read them for hours, and then you go back to your blog.

And here’s what you end up thinking: “Shit. How can I write anything when everything has already been written?”

So you close your laptop, go watch Netflix, and put blogging off for another day.

Yeah, that feeling sucks. A lot. I know because I’ve experienced it more than once.

But getting through (or around) it isn’t as hard as you think.

Here’s how you get past the comparison trap:

  • Lean into your own expertise and your knowledge of your clients first. You may not be a blogging expert, but you are an expert in your business. Start there. (And if you want to become a blogging ninja, let’s talk.)
  • When you see a post you love, instead of feeling overwhelmed or less-than, get curious. Ask yourself how you can improve upon it or write about it from a different angle.
  • Take a minute to sit down with yourself and give yourself a huge dose of self-love. Remind yourself of how brilliant and amazing you are. And give yourself a hug. Because the only way out of comparing yourself to others is a deep knowledge of your own worth.
  • Focus on learning from your peers instead of comparing yourself to them. What can you learn from the posts you love about how to be a better writer?
The way out of comparing your blog to others is a deep knowledge of your own worth.Click To Tweet

6. You don’t trust your voice.

How do you write?

Do you sit down and hammer out an entire blog post, and then go back and reread it?

Or do you bleed out each paragraph and question yourself the entire time?

You may think that the second option makes for better writing.

It doesn’t. It makes for more painstaking writing.

When you continuously stop and question yourself throughout your writing process, you prevent the flow of words from coming out. And as a result, it takes hours or days longer to write a blog post.

Dude. Stop torturing yourself.

When you sit down to write, grant yourself a temporary pass. Tell yourself, “Self, I will trust you for the entire time I am writing this post. I will let the words flow as they will. I will suspend my internal editor for now.”

During the time you write, only hang out with your inner writer, your inner creative. Your intuitive, trusting, loving self.

After you finish writing, you can invite your editor back in to help you polish your post. Don’t worry. She’ll still be available.

7. You expect your first draft to be fantastic.

I’m going to let you in on a little secret. When you finish writing your first draft of your blog post, you don’t have to publish it.

You are allowed to go back and tear it to pieces, rewrite it, rework it, and make it into something way better. Or discard it altogether.

Your first draft doesn’t have to be good. Because no one is going to see it other than you. You can write 5 first drafts in a week and then only salvage one.

That’s okay. At least you’re getting better at writing and blogging.

8. You are product oriented rather than process oriented.

What’s the goal in writing blog posts?

It’s to get more clients, yes. But it’s also waaaaaaay more than that.

In the process of blogging, you…

  • Get clearer about how you uniquely serve your clients
  • Discover what you care about the most
  • Become a better writer
  • Build relationships
  • Exercise self discipline
  • Learn things about yourself you never would have known otherwise

It’s the act of writing that makes all of these delicious things happen.

Get out there and write your next blog post. Your inner writer is waiting for you.Click To Tweet

writer's block

Here are the 8 reasons writer’s block is kicking your butt:

  • You aren’t facing some hidden truths
  • You are being perfectionistic
  • You’re out of the habit
  • You’re not striking a balance between strategy and depth
  • You’re comparing yourself to others
  • You’re not trusting your voice
  • You’re not letting yourself write crappy first drafts
  • You’re focusing too much on product rather than process

Luckily, all of these things can be overcome through trusting yourself, using your intuition, and knowing yourself and your clients deeply. (A nice dose of discipline won’t hurt, either.)

What do you do to overcome writer’s block? Share in the comments below!

How Community Makes Your Creative Dreams Inevitable

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For years after 8th grade ended, I could always cheer myself up with the thought that no matter how bad things were, at least I was no longer in middle school.

My tiny middle school contained some classes with less than 10 people in them. And we had been together forever. Since kindergarten.

The problem was, I never fit in. Not really. I was shy and insecure. And I had huge hair, zits, braces, and glasses. When I walked the halls, the boys would act like their heads were exploding, mimicking the sheer volume of my crazy curls (which I now love).

And gym class. Oh, gym class. The 45 minutes of the day I dreaded the most.

In 7th grade, we played basketball in the parking lot. Our school occupied the top floor of a synagogue, and we had no gym. Thus, the basketball hoop in the parking lot. Every time I couldn’t catch the ball, it seemed to roll under one of the cars, and I had to go scrambling after it, making everyone wait for me.

Then one day, I asked my classical guitar teacher if he knew of any schools where they didn’t have gym class. He was a smart guy, an artsy guy, so I thought he might know of one. And, miracle of miracles, he did. Denver School of the Arts.

I went from a school where everyone dressed the same or got made fun of to a school where one guy wore a tux every day and no one batted an eye. Suddenly, showing your artistic flair and being different was celebrated instead of scorned. And, best of all, I was surrounded by other weird artsy people. People who cared about sharing and developing their voice. It felt like a true gift.

I’m not saying DSA was perfect. Often, our AP Chemistry teacher would play Cat Stevens on his acoustic guitar instead of teaching chemistry. It was no wonder that most kids got a 2 or less on the AP exam. And many students slacked on their classes in favor of working on their arts. But maybe that was a good thing. Because it taught me that expressing myself artistically really mattered.

Since then, I’ve had the good fortune to find other little communities to help me grow.

They always appeared just when I needed them. Like LEAPYear, the program where I built a cabin in Northern California, learned to meditate, and traveled to Central America and India.

It took me out of the traditional path of going straight from high school to college, straight from college to a job, and then staying there. Many of the people I met are doing incredible things with their lives – like Curry, who created a retreat center in Tanzania.

In Miami and the wonderful world of the internet, I’ve connected with so many creative entrepreneurs – people who care about making something new and different in the world. Creators who give time and love to things that matter to them, like blogging their truth, creating documentaries about inspiring people, and career coaching from a foundation of intuition.

These communities give me the courage to put my creativity and my voice first. And the people in my communities – from DSA to LEAPYear to The Creative Women’s Cove – the Facebook group I run with my friend Brenda – provide me with endless inspiration and conviction that what I am doing in the world truly matters.

how-community-makes-your-creative-dreams-inevitable

One Sunday afternoon, I went to an Envisioning Potluck at my friend Rachel’s house.

We ate hummus and chips. We munched pumpkin muffins (made by me) and crunched cannoli and cookies. And then we sat in a circle and shared our dreams for 2017.

When it was my turn, I shared some new things that I’ve created that are really cool but that honestly seem kind of weird. Like a picture I drew of my boundaries, for example. I told them that I want to create workshops around these creative projects, to help women all over the world connect to themselves through art and writing.

After I shared, I looked around the circle, took a deep breath, and said, I hope you guys don’t think I’m crazy.

Then one of them spoke up. Can you start your workshops now? she asked.

Yeah, someone else said. We want to go to them.

Suddenly, my crazy projects, my vulnerable dreams, my big visions seemed not only possible, but inevitable.

With the power of community behind you, your dreams aren't just possible - they are inevitable.Click To Tweet

As I drove home from the gathering, I listened to my favorite dance playlist on Spotify. I could see my life spread out in front of me, filled with creativity, connection, and growth.

Buoyed by the strength and power of community.

How to Make Space for Creativity in Your Life

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I got lucky.

In high school, I went to an arts school and majored in Creative Writing. Which meant that every weekday, I wasn’t just allowed, but required to spend an hour and a half writing.

Some days, we had class meetings, but most of the time, we were able to come in, immediately sit down at our Mac desktops, and dive into our work. Because of this, I wrote an 80 page novella in less than 4 months. At age 16.

Most people don’t get the opportunity to focus on their art in high school. And even less of us are able to put the time and attention into creating as adults.

Even those of us (ahem) who have designed our lives so that we can work for ourselves often put other things first. Like Facebook. Playing Yahtzee on our phones. Working on the less creative sides of our businesses. Or (gasp) spending time with our families.

So how do we carve out time in our lives to create?

Whether you are driven to blog or to paint or to make a quilt, how do you give yourself the gift of doing the work?

1. Stop treating your creative work like an optional activity.

Creativity often feels like an indulgence to me. A guilty pleasure. Even as I’m writing this post, I have a bunch of emails to send out, and a tiny part of me feels like writing this post is a gift to myself.

But why? Who is to say that my writing this blog post is any less important than my inbox?

In the public school system, art classes are the first to be cut. Many of us creative people shake our heads in dismay when this happens. But when we are low on time, we frequently choose to cut our creative activities first, too.

The first step to finding that creative time is really just a mindset shift. When we think of our creative work as paramount, we will find the time to focus on it.

The first step to making space for creativity in your life? Treat it as an essential activity.Click To Tweet

For me, creativity is extremely important because it lets me bring my truth into the world. It gives me a chance to heal and inspire others. It brings out ideas I can then use in my business. And when I’m creative, I am happier, which improves my relationships.

Why is creativity important to you? Find your answers to that question and use them to propel you to make time to create.

2. Allow yourself to make crappy stuff

Often it’s not a lack of time to create, but a lack of courage that keeps me from doing my work.

When I sit down to write with the expectation that I am going to write the best blog post or poem ever, it’s much harder to get myself to start. But when I give myself permission to mess around and just enjoy the process, I am much more likely to dive in and go for it.

It’s way easier to go in with the intention of creating for its own sake than it is to go with the intention of making something good.

I can control whether I make something. I can’t control whether it’s the best thing ever.

For years of my life, I started my day by painting watercolors. After writing from age 12 to 23, I took a long break from writing. There was just too much internal pressure to write something amazing.

But when it came to watercolor painting, I let myself play. Because I didn’t think of myself as a good watercolorist, I was able to let my curious child’s mind take over.

When you give yourself permission to make crappy stuff, you peel away one of the greatest blockages to creating. And you suddenly find space to make it happen.

3. Make it a daily habit.

Full disclosure – I struggle with this. A lot. But I have found that when I commit myself to writing or creating everyday, I am much more likely to do it. It’s like a gym habit. Or brushing your teeth.

Even though it seems like it’s harder to create every day, or on regular days each week, it’s actually easier, because it becomes something that you don’t need to think about. You don’t need to choose to do it – it’s already been chosen.

And, like a workout habit, I find that when I start writing everyday, I begin to crave that creative time. Also, making it a daily habit means that you don’t have to make something amazing because you’ll just be sitting down to create again tomorrow. It activates the child’s mind that I mentioned above.

4. Make the physical space to create.

Before sitting down to write this post, I cleaned for about 2 hours. I wanted to write earlier, but I literally couldn’t do it while my house was looking like a frat house the night after a keg party. (Okay, maybe it was more like a frat house before a keg party, but you get the picture.)

I also have a desk in the corner of my dining room. There is a physical location I can go to when I want to be creative. There is something solid, and powerful, and important about having an actual physical place where my creative work is born.

Wherever you choose to do your work, clear it of other stuff. Let your creativity be the only thing happening there for those precious minutes or hours.

5. Make the mental space to create.

For a long time, I would try to write while having my browser open with Facebook notifications buzzing at me every few minutes.

There was something so magnetic about that little number in parenthesis that I just had to go look at it. (You know what I’m talking about.) And each time, it would take me a good 5 to 10 minutes to get back to my work.

When I close off all other stimuli – that means closing all of my programs on my laptop, putting my phone on silent, and telling my husband that I’m in creative work mode – I am able to enjoy my creative time more. And I create better, more thoughtful stuff.

Another piece of this is clearing your head before you do your creative work. Sometimes I meditate or work out before I create so that I don’t bring a whole bunch of junk into the creative process with me.

6. Find creative ways to get past your excuses

Even as I’m writing this, I can hear the excuses from myself and from potential readers.

“But I’m super busy.”

“But I have a full time job.”

“But I have 6 kids.”

“But I need to focus on my business.”

“But I don’t have the money to buy supplies.”

Look, I get it. I feel you. (Well, not literally. You know what I mean.)

We all have valid reasons why it’s hard to devote time to expressing ourselves creatively.

And at the same time, when you really want to do something, you do it.

I want to invite you to lovingly listen to your own excuses and then do the work anyway.

I know a mom of 5 boys who still finds the time to blog and be active in her Periscope community. I know a blogger who works full time and still sits down and works on her scrapbooking passion every week. Any reason you can come up with for not creating, you can find someone else who has a similar circumstance but doesn’t let that stop her.

If you truly want to make creativity a priority in your life, you will find a solution. I promise. And if not, no worries. Just know that you are choosing not to be creative. It’s not your circumstances, it’s your choice.

Looking at it this way may sound harsh, but it can actually be empowering. Because once you realize that your reasons are really just excuses, you are empowered to figure out a way to move past them.

creativity, make time for creativity

When you make space to create, it doesn’t have to be a gigantic space.

You don’t have to find an hour each day or go on a weekend retreat. Even 10 minutes will do.

The important thing is to sit down and to let your creative self wake up.

She is there, just waiting for you to unleash her voice into the world.

Your creative self is right here, waiting for you to wake her up. Click To Tweet

How to Bring More Joy into Your Creative Business

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When I tell people I work for myself as a creative business owner I get one of 3 reactions.

The first reaction: “That is so awesome! I own my own business, too. Let’s be best friends!”
The second reaction: “Um…that’s cool.” (Awkward pause.) “What does that mean?”
The third reaction: “Wow. You are so lucky! I wish I could do that!”

When I get the third reaction, I am torn between feeling really proud of what I do, and wanting to tell them how freaking HARD it is to work for myself.

It’s definitely not luck that allows us to be creative business owners. It’s a ton of hard work. And a lot of that work is internal.

For me, it’s easy to write a blog post. I can create an email opt in sequence in under an hour. Want me to set up a landing page? Done.

The hard part, and the truly important part, however, goes much deeper.

Running my own business challenges me to constantly show up and put myself out there – even when it feels terrifying to do so. It means waking up everyday and relying on my own creativity and diligence to make things happen.

It means facing down and slaying my inner demons (of which there are many). It means consistently choosing to find my own path instead of trying to fit into someone else’s formula.

And because running my own business requires so much soul wrenching work, I’d better be sure that I’m enjoying it. Because otherwise, it would definitely NOT be worth it.

So how do you grow a creative business that you truly love, that makes you feel joyful everyday, and that makes all of that hard work worth it?

Read on to find out.

1. Clarify your vision

You know all of those business plan templates you can fill in? Those “customer avatar” exercises where you define who your audience is?

Unfortunately, you can’t just fill them out once and go on your merry way. (Sorry.) Growing a creative business that truly brings you joy requires you to constantly clarify who you are, who you want to serve, and how you want to show up in the world.

Do business plans and avatar exercises help? Sure they do. But I believe that they only skim the surface of your vision.

As you keep doing business, you will start to answer these questions:

  • What am I really good at that I also love doing?
  • What type of clients do I want in my life?
  • How deep do I want my client relationships to be?
  • What do I want my clients to walk away with after working with me?
  • How do I determine my own success?
  • What type of selling feels really good to me?

The more observant you can be about your own tendencies, and the more honest you can get about what really works for you, the clearer your vision for your business will become.

2. Celebrate and develop your strengths

Part of being a joyful business owner is loving yourself and being honest about where you shine.

You would want your day job boss to appreciate you and celebrate you, right? You would want her to give you opportunities to hone your skills and stand out in the company.

So why wouldn’t you do that for yourself, as well?

It’s all too easy to look at other business owners, other bloggers, and feel insanely jealous.

“She is SO good at XYZ.”
“I wish I could be as impressive as her.”
“Wow, when I compare her blog to mine, I feel so lame.”

Yup. I’ve thought all of those things.

But when I get really clear about what I bring to the table, which is depth, intuition, lots of experience building businesses, a dry sense of humor, and my own brand of awesome, all of that jealousy flies out the window. Why? Simply put, no one else is ME. And no one else is YOU, either.

So every moment you spend trying to be “as good” as someone else, you could be spending developing your own one of a kind brilliance.

How do you do that?

You notice what people come to you for. You ask your closest friends why they love you so much. You find activities that you can do for hours and that energize you.

And (this part is REALLY important, so pay attention) you believe (or at least pretend to believe) that your brilliance, your skills, the way you want to show up in the world is something that is insanely VALUABLE and that people will pay for.

Your brilliance, your skills, & the way you want to show up in the world are insanely VALUABLE. Click To Tweet

You don’t diminish yourself for being multi-faceted. You celebrate your unique nature because it freaking ROCKS. And then spend all the time you’ve freed up by not comparing yourself to others, and use it to become even better at being you.

3. Let go of what doesn’t serve you

Oh boy. This one is a doozy.

Letting go is one of the most powerful things you can do to be more joyful in your business, and to spend your time doing what you truly love.

Letting go can mean:

  • Unsubscribing from newsletters and emails that distract you or make you feel bad
  • Saying goodbye to friends who drain your energy
  • Not reading books/articles that activate your fear
  • Leaving Facebook groups with negative energy
  • Not doing things that feel bad, even if you think they will grow your business (There is always a way that’s truer to you)
  • Identifying and shedding negative beliefs about yourself (This one takes a lifetime, so be ready for a long and rocky ride)
  • Stopping habits that don’t serve you

I recently shut down a gigantic 6,500 member Facebook group, because I realized that it was draining my energy and forcing me to engage in a way that felt uncomfortable. It felt like breaking up with a longtime boyfriend.

I cried, but then I felt so much energy flooding back into me. I can now devote my time connecting with women who truly inspire me instead of deleting spam and refreshing my Facebook notifications.

Letting go of what doesn’t serve you – even if it’s hard – is a powerful first step to taking ownership of what DOES.

4. Learn to receive

Holy crap! This is a big one, too. Uh…I guess they all are.

Anyway.

Here’s a hard lesson for you.

You can’t build a business on your own. You just can’t. You MUST receive money from your clients to actually have a business. (Duh.)

And not only that, to have a business that truly brings you JOY (which is what we’re talking about here, right?) you must learn to receive from lots of other people, too.

You must connect with mentors who can help you dream bigger and do more in your business.

You must grow friendships with people who are on the same path as you and who will challenge you to keep going.

You must be willing to receive support, money, feedback, and praise from people you trust.

You can’t do it alone. You DO deserve to be paid. You ARE worthy of being surrounded by people who support you in a myriad of ways. So open your hands and your arms and your heart and get ready.

how-to-bring-more-joy-into-your-creative-business

When I think about what a “successful business” means to me, a huge part of that is feeling joyful and fulfilled.

Yes, making money is important. But I want to bring in that abundance by working in a way that lights me up.

And the best way to do that?

  • Clarify your vision
  • Celebrate and hone your strengths
  • Let go
  • Be open to receive

What brings more joy into your creative business? Share in the comments below.

How to Make a Creative Breakthrough With Your Blog

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Do you remember what anyone wrote in your middle school yearbook?

I do.

Ms. Barton, the toughest, best teacher I had in eighth grade, wrote in my yearbook that I was the most creative student she had ever taught. I’ll never forget that.

Yet it’s all too easy to forget that unforgettable, unique blogs come from embracing your creativity.

Just take a look at most blogs about blogging or online marketing, and you’ll see that most posts are about making money, or metrics, or list building tactics.

It’s so easy to get lost in the rambling maze of “online marketing” and forget that thrumming core of ourselves that has driven us to create in the first place.

If you want to make a blog that bursts with energy and joy, a blog that your readers eagerly revisit again and again, stop looking for other people’s templates, and cultivate your own creativity.

10 ways to unleash your creativity and have a creative breakthrough with your blog Click To Tweet

1. Zoom out

One of the dangers of creating our own businesses and blogs is that we often get too close to them to be able to think creatively.

When you feel stuck, get some distance from your blog. Get an outside perspective, see if you can look at the issue from a different angle, or think about how you would feel in 10 months if you make a certain decision.

By distancing yourself from your blog, you will see all sorts of opportunities you wouldn’t have thought of otherwise. Blog post ideas will come bubbling to the surface.

This article by The Scientific American explains more about why psychological distance enhances creativity.

2. Get playful.

Have you ever noticed that kids are bursting with creativity? Especially young kids.

That’s because they live in a constant state of play.

When you are playful, you let your mind open to all different possibilities. Just as a stick can become a magic wand in a kid’s hand, your mind can more easily make surprising connections when you’re playful.

I tend to be waaaay too serious about my work. That’s when it stops being fun. That’s when innovation dies. But when I open myself to asking, What if? I’m able to create things that truly delight both myself and my readers.

Learn more about creativity and play in this article by Creative Something.

3. Do deep work.

In this fantastic podcast about deep work, Cal Newport talks about the importance of taking time to focus on higher level, creative work.

He says that we need to train ourselves to focus for intensive period of times, to give ourselves space for creative breakthroughs. And, big surprise, social media is one of the main enemies of doing the deep work he talks about.

So carve out times for intensive, deep work. Dive into your writing and creating without any distractions. Silence your phone. Ban social media. Get into the zone.

You’ll be amazed at what you can create.

For a closer look at deep work, check out Cal Newport’s book, called, unsurprisingly, Deep Work. (Affiliate link)

4. Commit and ritualize.

We creative souls just love to wait until inspiration hits. We like to see our work as a fickle, magical thing.

But waiting for a lightening bolt of creative energy isn’t going to help us produce truly original blogs.

What does work to make us more creative and innovative?

A rock hard commitment to doing the work day after day, week after week.

That doesn’t mean we need to blog everyday. Quite the opposite. Instead, find out what works for you, decide what you can commit to, and then stick to it like a dog to a pizza crust.

When we commit, and we set up structures for doing the work, it becomes habitual to cut through all of the fears and other bullshit that get in the way of creating.

In The Creative Habit by Twyla Tharp (Affiliate link), she writes that the first step to creativity is consistent hard work, and the way to that consistency is creating a ritual that lets you know it’s time to get down to business.

Hers is jumping in a cab and going to the gym. Other artists might light a candle or say a prayer.

The bottom line? Choose a schedule and a ritual that works for you and then do it religiously.

5. Tap into your “first thoughts”

My favorite type of writing is called Writing Practice, and it was invented (if one can truly invent a way of writing) by Natalie Goldberg.

When you do writing practice, you sit down and you write for a certain amount of time. You don’t stop writing until the timer sounds. And you give yourself permission to write whatever comes up.

Goldberg writes, ““If you are not afraid of the voices inside you, you will not fear the critics outside you. Besides, those voices are merely guardians and demons protecting the real treasure, the first thoughts of the mind.”

Often, your first thoughts are what’s really true for you. They come from the core. But it’s all too easy to doubt and question and change – to shy away from those truths.

Sometimes, your first impulse is the best one. When it is, you can feel it. Don’t be afraid to follow it.

For more on writing practice (and to have your life as a blogger utterly transformed), read Natalie’s book Writing Down the Bones. (Affiliate link)

6. Brainstorm

While tapping into your first, deep, true thoughts is hugely important, sometimes it’s coming up with many ideas that will help you find the one that works.

Most copywriters write 20 or 30 headlines for every single ad, sales page, and blog post they write. Often, the first few that you come up with are stale and overused.

By forcing yourself to keep going, you push yourself to be more creative, and you often come up with ideas that you never would have otherwise.

The next time you are trying to come up with a blog post headline, an opt-in freebie, a product, or anything else for your audience, don’t accept the first one that comes to mind.

Instead, set a timer and write down as many ideas as you can. Then go back and choose the idea that looks the best.

For more on creative brainstorming, read this excellent article from Inc. about 10 longtime brainstorming techniques that still work.

7. Have adventures

Have you ever noticed that getting out of your box helps you think out of your box, too?

Adventures help you see things in a new light, get distance from your work, and invoke that sense of play you need to be truly creative.

And you don’t need to leave your city to have an adventure. Go explore a neighborhood you’ve never gone to before. Take yourself on a food tour. Even explore a different route to a place you often go.

While you’re on your adventure, be present. Notice the new smells and sounds. Take photos. Look for beauty. When you come back to your laptop, your creative juices will flow.

This article in the Atlantic shows the link between travel and creativity.

The author Brent Crane writes, “New sounds, smells, language, tastes, sensations, and sights spark different synapses in the brain.”

So…if you can travel far away, do it. If not, give yourself a new sensory experience in your own backyard.

8. Procrastinate.

One of my favorite TED Talks argues that procrastination is one of the key habits of original thinkers.

I am an implementer. I get an idea and go for it.

But I’ve found that by doing that, I frequently create things I don’t love – or build business structures I don’t really want. (Oops!)

So idea marination doesn’t just boost your creativity – it can also prevent you from spending time and energy on ideas that don’t go anywhere.

If you’re struggling with an idea or a project for your business, give yourself the time and space to let your idea marinate. What comes out may just be a lot yummier than what you had originally planned.

9. Work within a structure

I have long had a love-hate relationship with marketing and blogging formulas.

On one hand, formulas are irresistible. “You mean all I have to do is follow these 5 steps, and I’ll have a wildly successful blog? Sign me up!”

On the other, they don’t work on their own.

In fact, when I was thinking about creativity versus formulas, I initially decided that creativity and formulas were mortal enemies. Much like Harry Potter and Voldemort, “Neither can live while the other survives.”

But then I remembered my college days as a poet. I loved poetry forms, because they gave me a structure to push my creative thinking. They forced me to write more melodically. Many of the poems that came out of structures were better and more interesting than my free verse creations.

So I had to look at formulas a bit differently. I had to admit that often, they do work. Following what another blogger has done to build her business is a good way to build your own.

But. The only way to make a formula work for YOU is to infuse it with your creative ideas. Use the structure. Understand the underlying purpose for it. And then take a step back and think about how you can make it your own. And be ready to toss it if it’s not working.

For more, read this Forbes article on the interplay between structure and creativity.

10. Take leaps and be courageous

Let’s be honest. Creativity is risky.

It starts with an idea. An idea that may or may not work. It may even be an idea for a blog post. Or a webinar.

And in order to learn and grow as a blogger and a creative human, you must put it out there. You must let your curiosity and desire to share outweigh your fear that it won’t work.

Whenever I create something new, something that makes me a little uncomfortable, I first Google the hell out of it. I watch webinars on how to do it. I listen to podcasts about it. I read blog posts about it.

Part of it is a thirst for knowledge. But part of it – I admit – is out of fear.

And what comes out isn’t as original as what it could be.

My webinars come out sounding a lot like other webinars. My videos sound like other videos.

But in my blog posts, where I don’t have that fear, I let my creativity loose. And what emerges are original ideas that resonate with people.

So my final suggestion to you?

Take the leap. Do your thing. Dare to be different.

how-to-make-a-creative-breakthrough-with-your-blog

The next time you feel stuck with your blog, do this:

  • Zoom out.
  • Get playful.
  • Do deep work.
  • Commit and ritualize.
  • Tap into first thoughts.
  • Brainstorm.
  • Have adventures.
  • Procrastinate.
  • Work within a structure.
  • Be courageous.

How to Avoid the Mental Blocks That Plague Most Bloggers

Blogging mental blocks that plague most bloggers

There’s one thing that all bloggers MUST do to create amazing, inspiring, fulfilling blogs:

They have to keep going.

It may sound simple, but it’s actually really hard to keep blogging and creating week after week, year after year.

That’s because there are so many mental blocks to overcome in the journey of creating something that matters. There’s the feeling that you’re not good enough. There’s the tendency to want to do everything “right.” There’s the ever-present danger of burn-out.

More than anything or anyone else, we bloggers get in our own way of creating a blog that we love and that inspires others.

Here are 6 of the most common blogging mental blocks that will stop you in your tracks, and how you can move past them to create an incredible blog.

1. Imposter Syndrome

What it is:

Imposter Syndrome is the ever-present feeling that you’re not good enough.

It’s that insidious little voice at the back of your head that whispers, No one will care about this, Who are you to write about this? That other blogger is better than you, and other equally damaging things.

How it will stop you from creating the blog you want:

When you give in to Imposter Syndrome, that gross feeling of unworthiness, you will lose the motivation to blog. You’ll throw out perfectly good post ideas because you’ll (wrongly) decide that what you care about doesn’t matter. And you’ll put a barrier up that prevents your creativity from filtering through.

Symptoms of Imposter Syndrome:

  • You’re constantly comparing yourself to other bloggers and feeling bad about yourself because of it
  • You automatically assume that what you want to blog about isn’t that important
  • You are unwilling to promote your posts because you don’t want to “bother people
  • You feel insecure about sharing your blog with people you know in “real life”

How to move past it:

When negative thoughts emerge, write them down. Ask yourself, “Is this true? How do I know it’s true? What opportunities am I missing out on because I am giving power to this thought?”

You can also write them down and put them in a special place so that you can deal with them later, thereby giving you the space to forget about them right now and do the creative work.

Byron Katie’s book Loving What Is (Affiliate link) is an incredibly powerful resource that helps you move past negative thoughts. If you find yourself struggling with Imposter Syndrome on a regular basis, I highly suggest you read it and learn from it.

2. Perfectionism

What it is:

Perfectionism is when you are so afraid of “getting it wrong” that you read dozens of blog posts on how to do every little thing before you do it.

It’s when you fail to publish your posts because you want them to be perfect before you put them out there.

You may think, Perfectionism is good because it makes people strive to be the best bloggers they can be.

For some people, that is true – as long as their commitment to creating is stronger than their commitment to “getting it right.”

How it will stop you from creating the blog you want:

If you’re constantly focused on being a “perfect” blogger, you’ll struggle to write blog posts because they will never measure up to your expectations of yourself.

You won’t give yourself the time and space to improve because you’ll expect yourself to be an amazing blogger right from the beginning.

And you’ll experience “education stagnation” – the phenomena of learning at the expense of actually getting things done.

Symptoms of Perfectionism:

  • You go over your blog posts dozens of times before hitting the “Publish” button.
  • You cringe when you read your blog posts because they never measure up.
  • Any time you attempt something new, you get lost in reading tons of blog posts on how to do it right – instead of trusting your own creative impulses.
  • You often hold back from innovating because you’re afraid it won’t work out.

How to overcome it:

Check out this guide from Personal Excellence on how to overcome perfectionism.

The steps include knowing the difference between healthy and neurotic perfectionism, removing the all or nothing mindset, and using your ideals as guides, not absolutes.

3. Trying to do too much

What it is:

Does this sound familiar…?

You’re trying to master Twitter, Pinterest, Facebook, and LinkedIn all at the same time.

But it’s really hard because you’re also trying to blog 5 times a week and participate in a different link party every day of the week.

On top of that, you’re wondering what you need to do to optimize your blog for SEO and how to install Google Ad Words into your blog – despite the fact that you’re only getting 10 page views per day.

Yeah. You’re trying to do too much.

How it will stop you from creating the blog you want:

You may think that doing all of these things is helping you build your blog and your audience, but you’re sadly mistaken.

In reality, when you try to do too many things at once, you spread yourself thin and prevent yourself from developing expertise in any one area.

You also run a high risk of burning out – which will keep you from doing the steady work that needs to happen if you want your blog to blossom and grow.

Symptoms that you’re trying to do too much:

  • You come up dry when you try to think of things to write about because your creative well has already dried up
  • You spend hours on social media, with a little voice in the back of your mind asking you, “Why am I doing this again?”
  • You feel like you’re expending a ton of energy and not getting anywhere

How to move past it:

Stop. Write down everything you’re doing to grow your blog and why you are doing it.

For anything you write down that you can’t come up with a “why,” force yourself to stop. Just for now. You can come back to it later if you want.

Start with one social media platform and only add others once you’ve mastered it.

Cut down on writing. Once or twice a week is enough. Really.

If there are things you need to do for your blog but don’t enjoy, outsource them to technology or people.

4. Stats addiction

What it is:

Stats addiction is the unquenchable desire to check and refresh your blog stats all. The. Time.

Under the table when you’re eating dinner with friends. While you’re walking your dog. In between helping your kids with their math assignments.

And you’re not checking them for any strategic purpose, but just to reassure yourself that people like you and your blog.

How it will stop you from creating the blog you want:

Every minute you spend checking your stats is a minute you could be doing something creative or giving yourself a rejuvenating break from blogging.

When you obsessively check your stats, you are doing it because you feel like you need external “proof” that what you’re doing matters. And you don’t have control over them – not really. So instead of focusing on what you can do for your blog, you are putting your energy into something you can’t really do much about.

Symptoms of Stats Addiction:

  • Your number of page views affects how you feel about yourself
  • You refresh Google Analytics multiple times each day
  • Sometimes your need to check your stats gets in the way of being present in the moment – or being creative.

How to move past it:

Instead of worrying about your stats, focus on what you can control – which is how you spend your time.

Whenever you find yourself checking your stats over and over again, ask yourself, Why am I doing this? Is it to prove I’m worthy? If the answer is yes, get on the phone with a friend instead. Or meditate. Or do something you love.

Remind yourself that you ARE worthy, regardless of your stats.

Google Analytics isn't a worthiness tracker. Remember that the next time you check your blog stats.Click To Tweet

5. Wanting it all NOW

What it is:

It’s the feeling that you’re not successful unless you grow your blog FAST. It’s the insistent voice in your head that tells you that you need to make income from your blog in the next month to make it worth it to keep going.

It’s focusing on how your blog is doing today, rather than looking at longterm goals.

How it will stop you from creating the blog you want:

When you pressure yourself to grow faster, you lose out on the opportunity to build relationships with the people you want to serve, which is something that only comes with time.

You waste time, money and energy on activities that don’t serve you or your blog, because you think they’ll result in instant growth.

You’ll forget to celebrate the small wins, and instead feel an insistent sense of impatience and dissatisfaction, neither of which are good for creativity.

Symptoms of “Are We There Yet” Syndrome:

  • You compare yourself to other bloggers who have found success faster than you have and think “Why isn’t that me?”
  • You give yourself unrealistic deadlines for achieving blogging milestones, and then you feel bad when you come up short
  • You spend money on courses that promise to make you an overnight success, only to feel bitterly disappointed when they don’t work

How to move past it:

Celebrate the small wins. One tweet, one blog comment, even writing one blog post is a win. Don’t forget to acknowledge your growth – no matter how slow it feels.

Have conversations with other bloggers about how long it’s taken them to grow their audience and make money from their blogs. When you hear what is realistic, you’ll stop pressuring yourself.

Don’t jump into blogging expecting to be an overnight success. If you have a day job, keep it until you’re making steady income from your blog.

6. Fear of investing

What it is:

Do you avoid spending money on your blog at all costs? You have a free domain, a free theme, a free…well, everything.

You don’t know if you’re going to make a profit from your blog, so you avoid investing in it. You tell yourself, I’ll invest once I’m making money.

How it will stop you from creating the blog you want:

Not investing in your blog isn’t just being frugal – it’s keeping you from growing.

When you invest in (the right) courses, you learn much quicker than by piecing together advice from many different bloggers by reading free blog posts.

When you invest in a self hosted WordPress site or in a Squarespace site, you come out with a much more professional looking and versatile website.

When you invest in a VA or in software that does mundane tasks for you, you free yourself up to create more and do more of the work that will actually grow your blog.

Symptoms of Extreme Blogging Frugality:

  • You want to invest in your blog, but you don’t feel like you can because you’re not making money yet.
  • You spend a ton of time figuring everything out instead of investing a little bit of money to pay for coaching or courses.
  • You use the free version of everything and won’t upgrade even though you know it will probably make your life a lot easier.

How to move past it:

Make a budget for your blog, and then invest in things that will help you meet your goals.

Blogging mental blocks that plague most bloggers

Do you suffer from any of these mental blocks?

(If you don’t, what’s your secret?)

But seriously, all bloggers will battle with these at some point or another. The important thing is to get back up and keep going.

If you’ve experienced any of these, I would love to hear your thoughts in the comments!

How to Write Unforgettable Blog Posts

How to Write Unforgettable Blog Posts

Before we get started, here’s my warning:

Writing powerful posts has much more to do with you than it does with anything I share here.

There are no formulas you can follow to make you a powerful writer.

A decent writer, sure. An engaging one, maybe.

But a writer who makes people feel something, a writer who puts a smile on her reader’s face, a writer whose posts stay with the reader long after they are read…well, you’re already that writer.

All I can do is help you unleash your creativity and writer’s voice.

So. With that said, here’s how you can write truly memorable blog posts.

How to Write Unforgettable Blog PostsClick To Tweet

1. Write from a place of depth and honesty.

Writing that comes from a deep, honest place is just different from writing that doesn’t.

Writing that comes from deep within, writing that is honest to its core, is powerful.Click To Tweet

So when you sit down to blog, make sure that you feel what you’re writing. That it comes from the center of yourself. Or that it comes from a genuine love of your readers and wanting them to learn something essential.

Even as I’m writing this, I’m thinking, Daniela, are you really asking them to do this? Don’t you think it’s a bit much?

But I really don’t.

There are millions of blogs out there. Millions. And the ones you remember are the ones that move you, or teach you something that makes you excited to take action.

So when you write, give yourself a minute to clear out the clutter from your brain.

And then let your creative, writer’s mind take over.

Write what needs to be written. And only that.

When you write in this way, you will learn from your own writing, too. You will learn what you want to teach and how you want to inspire your readers.

And remember, that honest writing doesn’t need to take a lot of preparation or fanfare.

It’s just about trusting yourself to write what needs to be written. That’s it.

2. Zoom in and show us the details.

When you think about the moments that changed your life, you can remember them vividly.

One of my most treasured moments was the first time I traveled to a third world country.

My friend Erin and I were sitting on the back of a boat in Lake Petén in Guatemala. My feet were in the water, the air rushed around me, and I looked out over the green expanse of the lake. Erin grinned widely, and said, “Dude, we’re in Guatemala.” It felt like the world was wide open to us, like nothing was impossible. I’ll never forget that feeling.

Reading that description, you can see the moment, can’t you? You can imagine my feet in the green water, you can feel the wind.

If I had just written, “One of the best times in my life was when I went to Guatemala,” I would be robbing you of the actual experience.

So when you write, give your readers the details. Don’t just tell them what happened, show them how it happened. Even if you’re writing a tutorial, get specific. Take screenshots. Share your own experience with whatever you’re teaching.

You may think that no one wants to know about your dog lying at your feet while you made your latest creation, or that she started licking your toes midway through, but they do. Believe me.

3. Write to connect, not to sell.

Many of us online are here because we want to inspire others, but also, because we want to make money.

That’s wonderful. Really.

But people can tell when your only purpose for writing is to sell.

Instead of focusing on selling, put your energy into making that connection with your reader. Show her that you know her better than she knows herself.

Make her smile in delight when she realizes that you two could be BFFs if you only knew each other in “real life.”

Many marketers will tell you, Don’t focus on the features of your product or service, focus on the benefits. People want to know what’s in it for them.

True. And they also want to know why they should buy from you.

People don’t long to be sold to. They long for connection. They long to be seen and understood.

Yes, they want solutions to their problems. But they also want to get those solutions from people they truly trust.

So shift your thinking about your offerings. Forget about cajoling people into buying from you. Instead, work on creating content that connects.

Let them come to you because they are so excited about what you have to offer.

4. Become a storyteller.

Stories are memorable. Stories teach us about each other and about life. And they don’t need to be long.

In fact, think about that tiny story I wrote above, the one where I was in Lake Petén.

It’s a few sentences long, but in just those few sentences, a whole story unfolds. My first time traveling. The feeling of being young and free. My bare feet in the water show you what kind of 20 year old I was.

And it’s enough. You don’t need any more than that.

Remember that when you write. You can write stories that span a few minutes of your life. You can also write epics, if you want. But tell stories.

Share moments of your life where a change happened. Tell us about your personal transformations, your mistakes, your low points, your moments of sudden insight. Bring us into your world.

You may think your world is too mundane, too boring, too insignificant to share. I promise you it’s not.

5. Read good writing.

I’ve noticed that the voice of whatever book I’m reading also bleeds into my thoughts and my own writing.

Unfortunately, it happens whether I’m reading crappy romance novels or fantastically written epic fantasy novels.

If you want to develop a powerful voice, you must read books that are written masterfully.

Devour great writing and try to stay away from reading crap.

My high school writing teacher used to say that poorly written novels, while they may be easy to read, should be treated like dessert – read sparingly and only after a hearty meal of delicious, well written prose.

I tend to agree.

6. Make us feel something.

If you can make your readers feel something, they won’t forget you.

Make them feel inspired or joyful. Evoke empowerment or surprise.

Even make them shed tears of despair, if that’s your thing.

But make them connect with your writing emotionally.

Whenever you write a post, ask yourself, How do I want my readers to feel while they are reading this? Imagine them reading your writing, and smiling, or sighing with contentment, or laughing hysterically.

Then shape your words around those emotions.

A good rule of thumb – if you feel a certain way while writing, your readers will most likely feel that way while reading your post, as well.

7. Let go.

You know that song, Let It Go? (If not, where have you been for the past 3 years???)

I freaking love it. Because letting go is the best way to write something truly inspired.

When you write, let go of trying to impress your audience.

Let go of needing your words to come out in a certain way.

Let go of wanting to be liked, or internet famous.

Let go of your thoughts and worries about how shareable this particular post is.

Instead, just let the words flow through you. Trust your inner voice to create something incredible.

How to Write Unforgettable Blog Posts

Oh beautiful reader, you are already an amazing writer.

You are already a storyteller, a feeling-creator, a memory crafter.

All you need to do is sit down and get writing.

Your voice and your intuition will do the rest.

How to Feel Fit and Sexy (and Build a Blog You Love)

How to Feel Fit and Sexy (and Build a Blog You Love)

I’ve lost almost 20 lbs since April.

I now feel stronger and better about my body than I have in years.

In the beginning, it was quite the opposite.

I hadn’t weighed myself in months, but as I was about to go on a trip to Hawaii with my family, I decided it was a great time to lumber onto the scale and assess the damage. (Yeah, not so smart.)

I knew that I was larger than normal, but when I saw the number, a number 10 lbs more than I had ever seen on the scale, I was a bit shocked. I proceeded to tell my husband I was fat and do very little else about it.

Then, in Hawaii, we took pictures next to these gigantic banyan trees that were in Jurassic Park. As I looked at the photos afterward, all I could think was, Wow, I look huge. I felt ashamed that I had let myself get that big. Tears rose to my eyes as I pleaded with my sister, Rachel, not to post the pictures on Facebook.

In the car that night, I opened a Weight Watchers account.

Rachel, who lost 35 lbs on Weight Watchers, and has kept it off for 5+ years, looked over. What are you doing? She asked.

I’m joining Weight Watchers, I told her.

Right now? In Hawaii? She sounded incredulous.

Yes. I am sick of feeling this way.

And so my weight loss journey began, in the middle of a trip that included lots of decadent eating and frequent visits to Lapperts Ice Cream.

I had “tried” to lose weight 4 previous times, unsuccessfully, but this time was different. This time, I was committed. And I was willing to buckle down and make major changes to get those pounds off.

I made an agreement with Rachel that I would weigh in with her every week. Every Wednesday, I take a picture of the scale and text it to her. That, more than anything, has helped me stay on track.

It’s one thing to weigh in with the Weight Watchers ladies, and quite another to weigh in with your sister who will call you if you “forget” to weigh in.

The first week, I lost 3 lbs. The second, I lost 4.

As my body changed, I felt more confident and excited to be seen.

I shopped for fruits every week. My kitchen filled with peaches, strawberries, blueberries, apples, bananas. I ate Israeli salad and hard boiled eggs for lunch everyday. In the mornings, I measured 1 tablespoon of half and half before pouring it into my cold brew.

I also worked out more, sweating on the elliptical and swimming in the pool in our condo building.

But it wasn’t all easy.

I went to Denver for a month and gained 2 lbs. It was just too hard to pass up going to my favorite Ethiopian and Thai restaurants…and overeating my mom’s amazing cooking.

My mom and I drove from Denver to Miami, on the way, going to Nashville, Asheville, and Savannah, where I gorged myself on southern cooking.

When I returned to Miami, I got back on track.

I’m not going to lie. It is tough to snack only on clementines and apples. And one day, I ate chips with a wild abandon that I knew would have dire consequences.

Yet now, 4 and a half months after I started dieting, I actually like looking in the mirror. I feel good in my body. And I’m determined to keep losing weight until I have the body I’ve always wanted.

It’s not for my husband. He seems to barely notice I’ve lost weight.

It’s for me. Because I want to feel good.

And it’s not just about the weight or about feeling healthy, although those things are important. It’s also about showing myself that when I want to do something, I can.

I want to lose 15 more lbs in the next few months. But I already feel so much better in my own skin. I smile when I look at myself in the mirror, instead of looking away.

So…what can my weight loss journey teach us about writing and blogging?

1. You have to be committed.

The first 4 times I tried to lose weight, I made a half-hearted attempt to eat healthier. When the pounds didn’t come off quickly, I gave up. This time, I put my heart and soul into it. That’s why it worked.

Blogging takes an enormous commitment as well. You have to really want it, and you have to be willing to keep going, even when it’s hard.

2. Accountability really helps.

When you have someone who gets what you’re going through to check in with every week, it’s waaaaay easier to keep pursuing your goals.

Sometimes, the only thing that kept me from ordering dessert was the knowledge that I would have to send my sister a picture of the scale the next morning.

And what’s kept me committed to blogging over the past 2 years, more than anything else, are my Mastermind groups and accountability partners. When I know that someone is going to check in on me every week, I am much more likely to keep writing, to keep creating.

It starts with my commitment to myself, but having someone else rooting for me has made a gigantic difference.

Check out this post on how to get the support you need on your blogging journey.

3. Having a specific goal helps a lot.

With weight loss it’s easy to set a specific goal, because you can pick a number you want to see on the scale and aim for it.

With blogging, it’s a bit harder. What do you aim for? More page views? Getting more content written? More email subscribers?

It can be tough to even figure out what your goals are – let alone whether you’re getting closer to them.

And without knowing if you’re getting closer to your goal, it’s very difficult to celebrate the small, incremental steps.

So before you freak out that your blog isn’t “successful,” ask yourself what success means to you, and why. It will help you gauge what your next steps should be.

4. There’s no straight line to success.

Just like I found myself leaning on the kitchen counter, shoving chips in my mouth, or indulging in road trip gorge-sessions, I’ve also skipped weeks of blogging.

But because I care so much about creating this blog, I always come back to it. (And after my chip pig-out sessions, I went back to munching on peaches instead of chocolate bars.)

If you find yourself skipping out on your blog for a few weeks, it’s okay. Really. You can still build a blog that matters to you and inspires your audience.

Forgive yourself and then get back to it.

5. Figure out what works for you, and stick to it.

The how of losing weight is actually quite simple. Eat less and burn more calories.

But just knowing what works won’t take the pounds off. Making daily choices to be healthy is what actually creates change.

The how of blogging is also “simple”. (Okay, not really.) Choose a focus and an audience, write regular posts, promote them diligently, and keep experimenting.

And then, to create a blog that you love and that inspires an audience, you have to figure out what works for you, and then keep doing it. And, when it stops working (and it inevitably will), shift and try something else.

There is no magic bullet that will catapult you to blogging fame. There’s only your hard work.Click To Tweet

6. The internal benefits are even more important than the external ones.

It’s fun seeing the numbers on the scale go down every week. But it’s way more satisfying to have my clothing fit better, to feel beautiful, and to want to be seen.

It’s the same for blogging.

Instead of gauging your success by page views and email subscribers, ask yourself, Do I feel excited to blog? Do I feel seen and heard? Am I connecting to the people I care about? Am I passionate about getting my writing out there?

Use your own feelings as a barometer of success. You’ll get a lot farther that way.

How to Feel Fit and Sexy (and Build a Blog You Love) (1)

Can I be totally honest with you?

Part of why I wrote this post is because I am really, freaking PROUD of losing 20 lbs. I wanted to share it with the world.

I think, more than anything, that’s why we blog. Because we want to be seen. We want to share our stories and triumphs with an audience.

So thank you. Thank you for witnessing me.

And thank you for joining me on this long, delicious journey of blogging and creating.