Comparison, Content and Working with a Scatterbrain (my own!)
Back in July I had a fantastic telephone coaching session from the brilliant Simple and Season's Kayte Ferris. For those of you who don't know, Kayte is a business and marketing coach for small creatives who want to grow slowly, sustainably and in-line with their core values. There's no 'hustle' here!
Katye and I chatted about some niggling issues that I have in the day-to-day running of my pottery business. We discussed techniques and tips on how to work through them. I've incorporated these tips into my working week and even though I still sometimes struggle I have found these tools really valuable. You can listen to the episode below. I have collated some of the key points we discussed below, there are lots more juicy things I haven't included - otherwise this blog post would be extremely long - so I encourage you to listen too. I hope they'll be as helpful to you as they have been for me.
(I have to apologies that I call 'Kayte' 'Kay-te' all the way through the interview. So sorry Kayte!!!)
Problem 1) - Comparison: social media has a lot to answer for here. I often find myself looking at other people and everyone appears to be doing really well, they have a lot of exciting things going on, everyone is always talking about how busy they are and how many orders they have etc, etc, even though I am also really busy and I have lots of exciting things going on it's such an energy drain to think that you're not doing as well as the next person.
Kayte's advice: Some days it's actually ok to sit, stew and feel a bit glum, because that is just human nature - it is ok to be human! But at the same time it is important to not sit in it for too long and to not let it hold you back. The first trick is to identify what the person you are comparing yourself to has sparked in you; investigate the reasons behind those feelings and then use that to improve your business. Get analytical about the feelings. Deconstruct the scenario. What are your peers doing really well? can you use that to inspire what you are doing? Are they doing things you think could be done better? Then go and do it! Community over competition is also a brilliant soundbite to remember in these situations. You might find that you can work with the person you are comparing yourself to. Take back control, send them an email- ask if you can work together, meet for a coffee, or just strike up an insta conversation - you will often find this person has similar feelings about you! Making the subject of your comparison-itis your friend takes away the negativity and turns it into a positive relationship.
Problem 2) - Scatterbrain! I have issues focusing: when my 'to do' list is long and I have lots of different tasks vying for my attention I find it difficult to focus on any one thing. I will often get to the end of an 8-9 hour day and have been working really hard but not really ticked anything off the list. I find some things just never get ticked off the list. Anything to do with writing tend to suffer the most (hence why it still took me this long to write this blog - but I did it so that's progress!).
Kayte says: Find a balance between structure that helps you get stuff done and the flexibility which means you don't feel trapped by it. Have themed days; for instance Tuesdays might be your creating content day. (Monday is now my making and replying to emails day.) Budget time for the things you don't enjoy doing. If you try to fit it into your day-to-day it just won't get done. Use the 'Pomodoro technique': set a timer and do the particular task for 30 mins and focus all your energy on that one thing but when the timer goes off, stop. Put your phone in another room. It's amazing how a little bit of time pressure can make you focus your brain.
Problem 3) - Writing. Leading on nicely from problem 2. Writing is not a talent for me. Blogging I find especially hard. Writing a blog post takes me about 4 hours. I also struggle to put anything out into the world before getting someone else to check it for me. I have a real crisis of confidence surrounding writing, stemming from being dyslexic and always being told/telling myself I can't spell or don't understand the rules of grammar. Making writing flow I find really difficult. I have lots of ideas about blogging and subjects I'd like to share but when it comes to putting fingers to keys I really struggle. I also struggle to write my monthly newsletter emails too. It's such a privilege to be in folk's inboxes I worry that what I am writing won't be interesting enough.
Kayte's advice: Record yourself talking about the subject. Even have a conversation about the subject with someone else, record it then transcribe it. This also helps with getting your voice across; often writers struggle with this - does this really sound like me? This helps you get onto the habit of writing how you talk. (I'd forgotten until Kayte reminded me - I actually used to do this at university whilst writing endless essays and it worked well.) Provide value! Think about what your audience would find interesting, useful, amusing or thought-provoking. Also think about the blog medium itself, it doesn't always have to be written. It could be a video, an image-based post, a podcast recording, even a mood board. Multi media is always going to be more engaging than just plain writing alone - that's true of any blog. Ask folks what they would like to read about. Do a little instagram poll on what they would like to see in your blog or your emails.
Repurposing content is a good way to get the most value out of everything you write/create. If something did well once before then share it again so your new people can enjoy it too.
NB: I mention Eric Landon during my interview, this interview was recorded *before* some troubling accusations came out about him and his working practices on Instagram.