April 27

Is Stress Killing Your Productivity?

Too stressed Roxie

Stress sucks. It literally sucks the energy and focus right out of you. I should know, because at any given moment in time, I’m a walking stressball, ready to explode.

I’m working on changing that, because, if you haven’t heard by now, too much stress is bad for you. A little stress, like having to cram for a test or pull a late-niter to finish a product or put the finishing touches on a chapter of your book, is ok.

Some people claim to thrive on this type of “against the clock” stress. I admit, sometimes, I procrastinate (sometimes?), and the thrill of completing a project with mere hours to spare feels like a little adrenaline rush. But, the reality is, that if you fall into the pattern of relying on stress to get your work done, you will fall far behind.

Then, there’s the other stress, the kind that distracts you from your work, pulls your focus onto something entirely else, and makes it impossible to give 100% to whatever you’re doing. I deal with that a lot.

I have a daughter on the autism spectrum, a toddler who thinks she needs to be cuddled 27 hours a day, and debt up past my eyeballs, filling every inch of my brain. It doesn’t leave a lot of room for focusing on work sometimes.

Whatever type of stress you have, here are a few tips that WILL help you bust through.

 

Don’t procrastinate. Give yourself more than enough time to get your work done. If you really don’t want to do it, you really need to consider if you’re in the right line of business. It might be time for a change.

Get enough sleep. Seriously. I cannot stress this one enough, because sleep lets your brain absorb and process the stuff you dealt with the day before. Lack of sleep just keeps your stress cycles stuck on repeat.

Re-prioritize stuff. I had to do this recently. In this business, sometimes, the money’s just not coming in, especially if you’re like me, and still learning the marketing side of things. My home life was beginning to suffer because I spent so much time in front of my computer, trying to “make ends meet.” I ended up making some drastic changes that would mean I didn’t have to stretch those ends so far, living on less money, so I could lose that stress and enjoy my family again.

Look at things from a new perspective. If you are constantly stressed out by work or family issues, look at why it’s stressing you. Are you worried about not making enough money? Are you worried about a family member being upset with you? Imagine the worst possible scenario, working through it step-by-step in your head. Really, would it be as bad as you imagine it to be? Probably not. If it is, tell yourself you’ll deal with it when it happens, not worry about it right now.

Let it go. Sometimes, we hold on to stress because it’s all we know. If you’re a natural worrier, or if you can’t break the stress patterns you’ve fallen into, just give yourself permission to let go of whatever is causing you the stress. Let yourself stop worrying about the bills, about getting the job done, about the consequences of not doing something. This doesn’t mean you give yourself permission to let go of the responsibility for these things, but it does mean that, without worry filling up your brain, you’ll be better equipped to tackle them without the added stress.

You deserve to be successful and happy, not a walking stressball. Kick your stress to curb, and focus on living the life you want to live, so you can enjoy it.

How do you tackle your productivity-killing stress? Let me know in the comments section below.

April 21

New Toy, Had To Try It Out

Okay, this is just a quick post, because The Voice just came on, and I want to see who gets sent home before I finish up some client work tonight.

Kurt Chrisler released a very cool product called the “I Want This” plugin. I saw it, bought it, and had to try it out NOW. Basically, it’s a plugin that lets you put a cool product box anywhere on your post or page that lets you put in affiliate links from loads of different sellers, all in one neat little package. Like this.

[bottom_ads id=”413″]

 

How cool is that? That’s not an affiliate link to Kurt’s product yet, but I will update when I get my affiliate link.  Just got approved…now I’m excited to promote this cool plugin!

Now I just need to figure out how to make a URL using my affiliate info at Amazon, lol!

Laters!

Jess aka The Clueless Marketer 🙂

April 20

3 Self-publishing Alternatives To Amazon Kindle

ebook reader

 

If you’re into self-publishing your books, (who isn’t these days?) you probably already know about Amazon’s Kindle platform. It’s the giant of the independent publishing world, and most self-published authors have at least tried it. Heck, most of us have hundreds of Kindle books on our tablets or ereaders (or is that just me?). If you’re an author, you really want to get your book into as many hands as possible, so that means offering your ebook for sale on multiple platforms. Note: I’m just talking about ebook publishing here, not physical book publishing, but I might discuss that later on.

Here are three alternatives to Kindle if you are thinking of self-publishing a book.

Smashwords

Smashwords is a platform that caters to all kinds of tastes. A quick look at the “new releases” section will tell you that, and more.

My favorite thing about publishing on Smashwords is the fact that they tell you everything you need to do, and you don’t have to search far to find it. Just click on the big “How to Publish on Smashwords” link at the top of the page, and you’ll be taken to another page with links to helpful things like the platforms they publish to and their (rather extensive) formatting guide.

My other favorite thing about SW is the fact that you can choose to have your ebook published to other platforms via SW, including the iBooks platform. The downside to this is that you only earn 60% of the sales price on the other retailer’s sites, but you earn 85% royalties on the SW site. It’s great for people who don’t want to fool with setting up your books through all the sites individually, but it does take some of the control away from you, too.

Before you can withdraw your earnings, you have to accumulate $10 in order to be paid via PayPal, and $75 if you want to get a paper check. I like this platform, though admittedly, I’ve only tried it a couple of times, and the books have been pulled (my decision), so I haven’t earned enough for a payout yet. It’s a great place to try new books out and build a fan base, because you can set your books to permanently free, or change the price at any time.

I highly recommend the FAQ page if you are considering Smashwords as a platform for your book.

iBooks

iBooks is undoubtedly the next most famous platform for ebooks (after Kindle) because Apple is just everywhere. 

I’ve only ever published on iBooks via Smashwords, so I can’t tell you how easy or difficult it is to do the traditional way. There is a brief description of how to publish on the iBooks store listed on the Apple site, and if you are a Mac user, you can also use the iBooks Author app to publish multi-touch books.

I like iBooks as a consumer, and I know people love having a choice, but I’m not sure if the royalties are worth the hassle of setting up directly on the iBooks platform. (If anyone has any experience with this, please leave comments to help other readers decide if it’s worth it!)

Here’s a link to the FAQ for Apple iBook publishing.

Google Books

If you’re like me, you’re probably scratching your head about this one. Yes, Google’s Play store offers books. No, they don’t market them as well as they should. I mean, with the number of Google Play users, you think they’d at least try to compete a little more efficiently with the likes of Amazon and Apple, but, alas, they don’t.

You can still put your books up on here, because people will still find them, though they’ll have to look a little harder. (On a sweet note, just browsing through the Google Play Books shop, I’ve found loads of FREE comics…so if you happen to be a comic book creator, this might be a great platform for you!)

Their info page doesn’t tell you much, but when you click the “Sign up now button” and sign in with your Google account (yes, you have to have one of those) it takes you to a straightforward page that walks you through the publishing process.

Note: I actually hadn’t published to this platform before, but decided to try it while I was writing this post. I had to change my MOBI file to a PDF, which took about  2 minutes, but the file didn’t convert well. So, I’ll update this later when I get it sorted, and tell you for sure how easy or difficult it was. So far, it’s looking pretty easy.

So, there you go. In case you didn’t know before, you do have options when it comes to self-publishing your ebook. Let me know if you’ve used any of these platforms before in the comments section below.

 

April 18

How To Survive And Succeed At Working From Home

coco kitty sleeping on my desk

Okay, kids. Today’s lesson will be “How to Survive And Succeed At Working From Home.”

 

He-he…I feel like a teacher typing that. But seriously. This is important stuff, so listen up! I WISH someone had told me this earlier…I did find out eventually, but only after feeling like a massive failure for not being instantly successful.

I’m going to share these five tips with you, so if you are just in the early stages of your work at home career, or if you’ve forgotten them because you’re so wrapped up in trying to earn a buck, keep on reading.

Here are five things that you NEED in order to make a successful career when working at home.

Boundaries

Yes, you work at home, but that doesn’t mean you are available to every person that needs you, every time. This is personally very hard for me, because I am MOM, She Who Does All Things. I have a toddler at home, a daughter with autism, and a teen who thinks I don’t know what he’s up to. It’s hard to shut out all those obligations when I’m just working from my kitchen table, but it has to be done.

For me, it means getting up early to plan the day, then sending the toddler to Mom’s morning out three mornings a week so I can focus on client work. That’s roughly 12-13 hours of uninterrupted time (if my husband is at work) that I can push through and get stuff done.

For you, it might mean a room in your home (actual, physical boundaries) that you can go to at set times and work your business. Or, it might mean going to the library and using their free WiFi, or Starbucks, as long as you can shut out the noise around you. (This doesn’t work if you are like me and talk to yourself out loud as you work, lol!)

Treat your business like a business. Set some hours, whenever you can work, and tell the rest of the world to eff off while you GSD (get stuff done.) I know there will be interruptions to your plan, but if you stick to it even 60% of the time, you’ll be miles ahead of those people who don’t.

Organization

Okay, kids, here’s where I tell you to NOT be like me. See that photo up there? That’s Coco Kitty, snoozing on my “office”. It’s not even a desk, it’s a table, in the kitchen. (No, we don’t eat off of it, otherwise she’d never be let on there!)

It’s a disaster area, for sure. It’s improving, and will continue to improve until I learn how to never be disorganized again, which will probably be after the kids are grown and moved away.

More importantly, you need to organize your work, your thoughts, and your day so that you don’t wake up, wander through the day, and end it having made no money. I’ve done that. Working for content mills for so long has given me bad habits, because so much of my time was spent looking for work, and very little was spent actually earning anything.

Whatever you do, have a plan in place for your precious time. I can’t always work 8 hours a day, because I have kids and commitments. So, when I don’t make a plan for my time, it gets used up doing stupid stuff like Facebook gorging and website surfing. I hate getting to the end of the day and seeing my time was wasted, and you will, too. Make a basic schedule or list of goals that you need to achieve every day, and stick to it.

Focus

I like to tell people I have Adult Onset ADD. I don’t really, but it feels like it sometimes. I’ve always been a pantser, or someone who just does stuff by the seat of my pants. I get distracted way too easily.  I love shiny, new things. This is really bad for business if you want to succeed at home.

Focus and organization are sort of like twins. They complement each other really well! Once you’re organized, it’s easier to focus. If you have a goal, you can laser in on that one goal and work it until it’s completed.

Admittedly, I’m still struggling with this one, and I think a lot of people do, even seasoned marketers and writers do. You have to keep being mindful of your focus, or you’ll lose it so easily.

My tips for focusing on your work are simple. Turn off email, Facebook, etc. and just have what you need open. Maybe put a post-it note on the wall with your goal on it, so you can see what you’re working towards, or a photo that reminds you of the reason why you’re working so hard in the first place.

Sacrifice

I’ll bet you want to work from home because it means you can do whatever you want, when you want to. Right? I did. Or, I used to feel that way, until I realized you can’t just show up when you feel like it and earn a living online.

Yes, you can get to a point where you only work an hour a day and still earn a decent living, but that won’t happen soon or early in your career. You’ll have to put in the legwork, learning the ins and outs of your chosen profession, and you’ll have to spend time marketing yourself/your product/whatever to get people to give you money.

This is going to mean showing up, putting in the effort, and working your business daily. I rarely take days off, partly because I love what I do, and partly because if I did, it would be so easy to lose what little momentum I’ve built up.

I give up tv nights, hours of aimless shopping, and even time in the backyard with the kids because I need to build my business to a place of strength and security before I can “slack”. It sounds harsh, but I promise you, it’s the only thing that will work. You need to put the time and effort in before you can enjoy success, and that inevitably means sacrificing something.

Self-confidence

Writers are not the most confident people. We doubt our abilities often, even when we get great feedback. Any job that has a high rejection rate can wreck your self-confidence, but so can other things.

Whenever I make a product or book that doesn’t sell immediately, I start to doubt myself. That is the killer of all online businesses! If you don’t believe in yourself, how can others believe in you?

You have to believe in yourself and your skills or you’ll give up on your business before it ever has a chance to succeed. Yes, the first few years of most new businesses are the hardest. Many businesses fail because people just give up when the going gets hard and stays that way for a while.

I want to tell you to not give up. Believe in yourself, keep pushing through, and build your business slowly if you need to. There’s no shame in working outside the home while you build your business those first few years. Or starting a business while you’re a full-time employee somewhere. The point is, it’s YOUR business, and you are the only one who can make it work for you. Do it on your own terms, but just do it!

April 12

Sophomore Slump and Getting Focused

focus focus focus

I think I’ve officially hit my ‘sophomore slump’, lol! I’ve been feeling burned out, stressed out, broke, and pretty useless these past few weeks, and I’ve just about had enough. No, I don’t have anyone to blame for these feelings, except for myself, and that irks me even more.

I turned to the Mecca of Internet Marketers and online entrepreneurs, (Facebook, lol!) and asked all forlornly how long until I would get my big success? How come I’m not making headway (like “everybody” else?

People came to my post, but they weren’t there to sympathize. Thankfully, they gave me a gentle ass-nudging towards the answer, a solution to the big old black hole that has been sitting in the middle of my business endeavors for far too long.

I don’t have a plan.

I mean, I kinda sorta had a little bit of a plan. I kinda knew I was lacking focus, have been for a while. Hey, what can I say…I’m a slow learner when it comes to realizing my actual flaws. I’m too busy focusing on those imagined ones instead, and it’s time for a “come to Jesus” meeting.

Thanks to some lovely ladies in a marketing group I’m in on Facebook, I’m going to sit down and actually map out a plan for my business. I already know that I should be focusing on what’s earning me money now, and ramp up the other things one. Step. At. A. Time. Can’t you just tell I’m an impatient person?

So, for now, my focus is probably going to be my freelancing services and books, because I have those actually created and available for sale. I’m going to have to set aside a little time each week to learn more on the internet marketing/PLR side of things, but I need to slow down on trying to work every branch of business for a little bit.

****I wrote those first few paragraphs six days ago…I am not on a solid plan yet!!! But, let me explain…

On Monday, I began this blog post all psyched up about getting organized and getting stuff done. I had a plan for the next few days mapped out, but ended up getting extra work from a client, which is good, and finding out that my sales page at JVZoo was going to go away, which was bad. So, instead of focusing on getting focused, I scrambled and worked on other stuff, which is okay. Neither good nor bad, just reactive, which I don’t like.

I am still very much a work in progress with my organizational skills, but I am staying motivated. I did complete some work on my Potty Potato books this week, totally re-doing the ebooks, which was on my new schedule. And, I revamped the website, thanks to a lovely lady named Andrea Schmitz, who helped me streamline the look and make it easier to for people to decide to buy the books.

I have some personal finance stuff to do tonight, then I’ll probably work on planning out my week’s work. I also need to plan my blogging schedule, which lately has been sporadic, to say the least, and my email schedule, since some people on my list may have assumed I died, it’s been so long since I mailed out.

So, being organized doesn’t come naturally to me, but being creative does. I guess if I had to struggle to be good at one thing, I *guess* I’d rather have to learn how to be organized.

How on earth do you do it? Please feel free to share in the comments…I’m always looking for tips and advice!

April 1

Successful Freelancing Attitude

quote about success winston churchill; image courtesy duron 123, freedigitalphotos.net

Image courtesy duron 123, freedigitalphotos.net

When I was growing up, there was a saying that people used, often when they were trying to succeed at something that they’d never done before. “Fake it ’til you make it.” Basically, it means that you do what you have to do to become successful, keeping an attitude of “I can’t lose” while you do it.

Freelancing is, in my opinion, a lot like that. I jumped in with both feet after basically only ever writing for content mills and, way back in the day, Ehow, before it was under Demand Media’s umbrella. Basically, I didn’t have a clue what I was doing, but I could write fairly well, so I started learning on the job.

It almost didn’t work for me, because although I knew I could figure out how to do the work, I didn’t know how to value myself as a writer. I undercharged, and probably missed out on some good work because marketers knew that I was afraid to value myself at my true worth. Let’s face it, if you lack confidence in yourself, why on earth would someone else have any confidence in you?

I still struggle with this, and only started charging more for my services recently. I’m going out on a limb here, and admitting that I still have a problem valuing myself, though not necessarily as a freelancer.

I recently started a PLR store, and was so proud of myself for getting a few packs of articles up on it. I even figured out how to set up a shopping cart and accept orders. I just *knew* that this was going to be my big break, my first big success outside of freelancing. Hey, I’ll admit, I don’t want to provide a service my whole life! I was so excited, I put up a special pack on JVZoo for the princely sum of $7 for just over ten pages of PLR content.

I launched the pack, waiting for the sales to roll in. Nothing happened. I could practically hear crickets chirping when I visited my seller dashboard. I felt like such a failure.

I lowered the price, and tweeted about it, thinking someone would want my super-cheap PLR pack. Nada. Zip. Zilch.

Oh, my feelings were hurt. I doubted my skills, especially when I saw all these other PLR providers making a killing on their products. I thought about quitting for a half-of-a-second, but then I realized something.

Just because I haven’t been successful yet, doesn’t mean I won’t be successful later. There’s still potential, I just have to find out how to tap it.

If you are struggling to make money online, whether it’s with your freelance writing, your self-publishing, or whatever you are doing, don’t give up. It feels so hard now, but, I promise, with time, you’ll find your way. I’m confident that this is true for me, too.

I’ll tell you what. When you’re struggling, come here, and read my posts. Or email me. We’ll figure this out together, okay?

It is all about having the right frame of mind, but that doesn’t mean you have to do it alone.

Is there something you’re struggling with, or succeeding with, that you’d like to share here? It’s a no-judgment zone, so feel free to share. 🙂