Breathe New Life Into Your Writing in 5 Easy Steps

Writing.jpgDo you feel your writing getting stale? Or that writing isn’t as fun as it used to be?

If so, here are 5 Simple Ways to Breathe New Life Into Your Writing:

  1. Get out of your “usual” workspace. New ideas often sprout from new environments. Deliberately mix it up by hanging out at a different coffee shop or ‘drop in’ co-working space. These days, most of us have a multitude of spots from which to choose.
  2. Write at a different time of day than you normally do. Yeah, schedules and routines are wonderful, but for creative new ideas to happen, we often need to disrupt our normal circadian rhythm.
  3. ‘Write’ using a different digital device. Just the feel of a different ‘touch’ under our fingers can allow for content to flow in a lively new way.
  4. Write first; edit later. Rather than immediately editing yourself as you write, just let the words flow. Don’t be concerned with misspellings or grammar issues — just write. Creation and editing should be two separate activities.
  5. Write with abandon. Write more than you need. Just let the words and ideas flow. It’s a wonderful feeling when you find yourself with enough content to fill multiple blog posts, instead of your intended single post.

In the spirit of full disclosure, I am practicing these tips as I write this and, I have to say, it feels a bit radical…simple, even.

by Rebecca Cochran

When It Comes to Websites, Simple Is Still In

Google

Thanks to Steve Jobs, Google (and others), simple is here to stay. It may not be easy to accomplish, but I believe it’s worth striving for — in our home lives and our work lives.

Keeping a website simple is a constant challenge. As our businesses grow and mature, it can be so tempting to add another page, another client testimonial, another case study, another accolade, another bullet point to the already too long list of services we provide. Of course, we’re told that the more content, the better — if nothing other than to attract the almighty search engines.

My advice? Don’t do it. Continue to keep your site simple. Your clients will thank you for it. Your authenticity will shine through. Yes, relevance and authenticity still count.

How do you keep your site simple? Here are 7 key tips:

  1. Focus on your most essential product and service offerings. Your site visitor doesn’t need to know everything you’re capable of. When you later connect with that prospective client, you can fill in the blanks, as appropriate.
  2. Reduce the page count. Most visitors need just an overview of who you are and what you provide to decide if they should contact you.
  3. Limit the number of tabs and navigational choices. If we offer visitors too many choices, we paralyze them. I equate this to the cereal aisle in the grocery store — too many choices and, hey, do I really need cereal this visit?
  4. Keep your most important content above the scroll. The majority of site visitors still don’t scroll (at least on desktop devices). Contact info should definitely appear high up on the page.
  5. Choose a palette of 2 or 3 colors. If we use any more than that, we confuse the eye and dilute our brand identity.
  6. Write content for your human audience first. Yes, keywords still matter, but ultimately, once you “get found,” you still need to be able to convince your visitor to buy from you. Keep things relevant and use your authentic voice.
  7. Continue to simplify. Sure, we all need to add content as we grow and evolve, but remember to subtract content that may no longer be important or relevant to your business today.

Don’t we all prefer to do business with people who are authentic and uncomplicated? Your clean and simple website can help you project an image of polished professionalism. Less is definitely more.

by Rebecca Cochran

 

Walk. Look. Create.

footprintsI’ve been walking daily since I was a little girl. I have my father to thank for that. I relished my evening walks with him during my adolescent through teenage years. We’d set out, just the two of us, every evening after dinner, walking, sometimes talking, always observing the world around us. When we’d return, we were ready to tackle the dinner dishes and relax into the evening.

Walking is a gift. It is something most of us can do for free. Walking doesn’t require any special talents. We don’t have to buy any special clothing (although a comfortable pair of walking shoes is recommend). Most of us can simply head out our home or office door and just walk.

Walking is nature’s cure-all. No matter how I feel when I set out on a walk, I always feel better by the end. If I’m tired when I start my walk, I’m rejuvenated when I finish. If I’m feeling overwhelmed with work or personal issues when I begin a walk, I am clear-headed and focused by the end. And, of course, the long-term physical benefits of moderate-impact aerobic activities like walking are well known.

As an adult, no matter where I’ve lived – city or suburban setting, no matter the climate, I’ve always kept up my walking ritual. A daily walk, even a short one, is a must for me. I’m not one to listen to music or the news while I walk. I focus on my stride (to create a sort of natural rhythm). And I focus on my surroundings, trying to notice things that I’d miss if I were driving the same route.

I walk best alone. (Sorry, Dad.) Friends regularly invite me to join in their walking ritual, but I usually decline their offers. The benefits I derive from walking come when I’m able to think and observe in silence.

The simple act of a daily walk allows me to solve problems. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve begun a walk thinking I had a big problem to sort through, only to determine, 10 minutes in, that I’d been blowing the issue way out of proportion.

And, best of all, I regularly experience creative breakthroughs when I walk. These breakthroughs happen when I’m not even trying. The act of walking and focusing on my stride clears my head. Ideas flow naturally. Dots connect themselves.

Walk. Look. Create. It’s really that simple.

by Rebecca Cochran