The one where I share strategies for planning personal and business goals for 2017.
Please note this is a transcript of the show (roughly) – it’s how a speak, not how I write. Thank you for understanding.
Hello and welcome to episode 24 of the Creative Me podcast. Today’s episode theme is about setting goals for your business in 2017. But first, a little bit of housekeeping:
I’m going to take the rest of December off podcasting to focus on launching an online course.
This will be the last episode of 2016 you get from me, but I promise I will be back in January.
It’s December how did that happen? I think December is an exciting month for everyone but in particular small business owners. You get to have a look at how the year has gone and start making some serious plans for the new year. That’s why I’m talking about goal setting for 2017 in this show.
Even if you’re not a small business owner, the strategies I share in this episode can be applied to personal goals.
Whenever I embark upon a project, whether that’s goal setting or something entirely different, I need structure. I’m not a pen and paper kind of a girl really. I might brainstorm on Post-it notes or a whiteboard, but when it comes to structuring something to make sure it happens, I need an online tool.
My weapon of choice for structuring stuff is Trello. I’ve talked about Trello a great deal in the past on the show.
I’ve set up a Trello board to structure my 2017 goals. Here is a screenshot:
As you can see, I have a list for weekly goals. It’s important to set one goal a week that aligns with your overall goal. I will set up a weekly card just to keep me accountable for achieving that week’s goal.
One of the great things about Trello cards is you can attach a checklist outlining the steps it will take to achieve that card’s goal. You can tick steps off as you go.
I also have a list for each quarter.
I have a list for my annual theme (my theme will be related to my quarterly goals but it is just one word for the year).
Having a one-word theme for the year might sound a bit woo-woo but if you sometimes feel overwhelmed with goals, it is a great fall-back. I like the simplicity of it.
My theme for 2017 is IDENTITY. It’s all about my business having a very very clear and authentic identity. I need to be 100% clear on what I do and who I do it for.
While I have set my theme, I have not set my goals yet. That will happen over the next week.
I am not a fan of SMART goals. I always forget what SMART stands for. Instead, I opt for “specific and realistic”.
When I say realistic I don’t mean easy, I mean achievable, but including sufficient “stretch”.
When I set goals, I work backwards.
I think I will blog about my goals when they are set to add an additional layer of accountability. Keep an eye out for the post on martineellis.com.
Before I forget, here is a great round-up article about goal setting from thebalance.com.
That’s all from me for this year – happy holidays and happy new year. My gift to you is a copy of my Trello board (download below!)
The one where I chat to Nicole Murphy from learntoloveemail.com about email marketing.
I’d normally do a transcript for podcast show notes. However, it’s a bit tricky when there are two people talking (my dictation software doesn’t like it). Therefore today’s show notes are a bit shorter than normal.
In today’s episode, I interview Nicole Murphy from learntoloveemail.com. We’re talking email marketing.
You own those email addresses. What happens if social media went away tomorrow?
It’s not as scary or intimidating as you might think.
The one where I reminisce about my blogging journey and share what I’ve learned.
(Transcript alert – this is an approximate transcript of the episode. It’s how I talk, not how I write!)
Hello and welcome to episode 22 of the Creative Me podcast. In today’s episode, I’m going to reminisce about my blogging journey and share what I’ve learned to help new bloggers.
Before I start, I just want to let you know that I have created an exciting resource library on my blog and it’s available to anyone who is a member of my VIP email list. If you would like to access a wide range of really useful resources, for example, my blog and podcast checklists, as well as my e-book about productivity, The Quick and Dirty Guide to Getting Stuff Done, hop over to martineellis.com and sign up for my VIP email list. I’ll email you your password, and you can access a very cool library of resources.
In preparation for this episode, I started thinking about how long I’ve been blogging for, and it turns out it well over 10 years.
My first public blog was actually about exercise. It was a training blog for my first London Marathon. It was an amazing experience of blogging community because it was part of a larger exercise website. They had a blogging platform built into their website so the result of that was I had really good engagement from other people training for their first marathon.
That was my first experience of blogging, and it was a fantastic one because I got so many comments and so much encouragement and also my friends and family who were supporting me during my training all checked in to my blog from time to time to see how I was getting on.
Fairly soon after that, I was bitten by the blogging bug. I was developing a handmade craft -related business so for a very large chunk of time after that,my blogging activities focused on handmade crafts, in particular knitting. I was also doing the iMake podcast at that time so those two activities intertwined beautifully.
That brings me to my blog of today at martineellis.com where I blog about small business, creativity and technology.
So, I’ve been blogging online for over 10 years, but when I was thinking about my blogging journey, I also remembered that as a teenager, for a number of years, I kept a diary. I wonder if keeping a diary was almost like a preparation for blogging. I wonder how many bloggers out there kept diaries as teens.
The blogging landscape has changed dramatically over the past 10 years. When I think about my first experience of blogging, my motivation for writing was simply that I wanted accountability and encouragement. I wanted to share my journey of training for my very first London Marathon. I didn’t give two hoots about search engine optimisation. I didn’t share my blog posts on social media. It was very different to where many bloggers are today
What I’d like to do now is share some top tips with you. These are things I wish someone had told me when I started blogging.
The most important thing to work out when you’re starting a new blog is what you want to get from your blog. I’m working on the basis that, at the very least, you want readers. If you’re putting yourself out there, I am assuming you want people to see.
But are you wanting to get an income from your blog? Are you wanting to review products and get free stuff sent to you? Do you want to build a business off the back of your blog?
If you work this out it will shape your approach to blogging clearly.
If possible, allocate a small budget to your blog. I appreciate that this isn’t always possible for people, but I very much see a blog is an investment. So, rather than starting with a free platform like Blogger or Tumblr I would recommend a Squarespace blog.
That’s where I wish I’d started. I started with a free platform, but if you are in a position to invest, start with Squarespace. There is a small learning curve, but it’s certainly easier than going the WordPress.org route.
Most people will recommend you start with WordPress.org where possible but frankly, for me, it was just too technical.
I actually started on a free platform, WordPress.com, then moved to WordPress.org, freaked out that it was too technical, then went to Squarespace. I was very happy with Squarespace for a number of years and, only when I was confident with my technical skills, did I move back to WordPress.org.
Next, I would suggest you come up with a one-liner explaining the purpose of your blog.
We’ve talked about what you want to get from blogging, but now consider your reader; what are they going to get from your blog?
If you can describe this in one line, it becomes the tagline for your blog. If ever you feel your direction is a bit confused, go back to your one-liner.
I think a tagline for for a blog is really important and it will also come in handy when you start marketing your blog.
Your next step is to work out exactly who your audience is. Perhaps go a step further and design your ideal audience member – your audience avatar.
Who are they? What do they do? What are they interested in?
If you can do this, you will always write engaging content for your blog because you’ll be pitching it at that audience member.
Something that I’ve only worked out fairly recently is that having a cohesive style and brand on your website is really important. I’m sad to say that looks really matter when it comes to blogging. We do judge a book by its cover!
One way to do this is by creating a style guide for your blog. It’s a document that outlines exactly how you present and share things visually. I’m excited to let you know that I’m working on a mini course on creating a style guide for your blog at the moment. It will be a free course so keep an eye out for it on martineellis.com. Sign up to my VIP email list I will send you an email when it’s available.
My last top tip is to be strategic and organised. Set up an editorial calendar; map out when you can do blog posts. Use checklists so you have a consistent approach to creating a blog post .
It will make all the difference – people really notice consistency.
That’s all from me today. Feel free to leave comments on the show notes or chat to me on Twitter martineeellis. Thanks for tuning in – I hope you’ll join me next week.
The one where share strategies for managing my learning obsession.
Hello, and welcome to the show.
It’s so great to be back. I took a couple of weeks off to do some administrative tasks. I’m working on updating the previous episodes of the podcast, so the show notes are more of a transcript. Confession time: I got a couple done, but not all of them. So, I think what I will do is set myself the goal of updating one episode a week, over the next few months, and hopefully everything will get done.
On the subject of setting goals, today’s episode is all about managing your learning.
Hello, my name is Martine, and I am obsessed with learning… which is just as well because I spend half the week working as a teacher.
I’m constantly hungry for new information. There is such an amazing plethora of information out there that it’s very easy to get overwhelmed.
Surely I can’t be alone? There’s got to be other people out there like me.
I love courses, e-books, free online resources. I love going to the library. Anything I can watch, read or listen to… I want it! Are you the same as me, I wonder?
Due to this [very positive and productive] obsession, I’ve been forced to come up with strategies for managing my learning. And that’s what I’d like to share with you in today’s episode.
Here are three, perhaps four, ways to keep on top of things.
The first tip is to use a free app called Pocket. Pocket is a “read it later” app.
I use Pocket mainly in my browser via a Chrome extension. There are also mobile apps so, depending on how you consume content, you can use Pocket pretty much anywhere online.
The reason pocket is helpful for managing your learning is that it allows you to defer your learning. If you’re in the middle of a task, for example, you’re researching something, and you get distracted by an unrelated blog post, you can send it to your Pocket. Instapaper is an alternative “read it later” app.
My second tip is to schedule a time to consume all this content. It is far more organised to consume content in specific time blocks than to be distracted by it. Your learning will be better, and you will be more productive.
The next tip is to use a project management system to log and manage everything you’re consuming that doesn’t go into Pocket, for example, e-books and online courses.
I manage all of this is through my project management tool of choice Trello.
Have a look at my public Learning Trello board below. You can copy this version to your Trello board by clicking the button below the screenshot.
Audio is my favourite way to consume content because it’s efficient.
Podcasts are great – there is an incredible range of podcasts relating to your niche that can help you learn. You just need to look for them.
I love listening to audiobooks. I have some fiction on the go but also some non-fiction, with an educational emphasis, so I get the best of both worlds.
That’s all from me today. Feel free to leave comments on the show notes or chat to me on Twitter martineeellis. Thanks for tuning in – I hope you’ll join me next week.
The one where I explain my process for creating a podcast episode.
Hello and welcome to episode 20 of the Creative Me podcast. Thank you for joining me.
Today’s show is all about how a podcast episode is made.
This show is ideal for anyone interested in getting into podcasting, but also anyone who is curious about what has to happen for an episode to go live. It’s a sneaky peek behind the scenes.
Please note, this is an approximate transcript of the episode – it’s how I speak, not how I write Thanks for understanding.
Links to equipment and resources can be found in the free downloadable workflow at the end of this post.
Every episode starts with an outline. I tend to start my basic outline in Workflowy and then move into Google Docs.
When the outline is in place I gather my recording tools:
Links to exact products are included in the free podcast workflow download at the end of this post.
I’ll then record the audio in Garageband referring to my outline on my iPad. I listen through to the audio in Garageband and edit as needed. I’m specifically listening to breaks in the audio because, in order to pause, I hit the spacebar and it tends to make a popping sound. I listen to the breaks in the audio and I edit anything necessary.
After that, I download the audio as an MP3 and name the file consistently. All of my files are named ‘episode-number.mp3’. I listen to the MP3 just to make sure everything has downloaded correctly.
This whole process would take me, on average, half an hour. So that’s the outlining, gathering tools, getting set up and recording and editing the audio. That’s based on roughly 15 minutes of audio.
After that, it’s time to make a start on the show notes and accompanying images.
Show notes are an expanded version of the outline, ideal for someone who has not listened to the audio. They read more like a blog post.
My show notes include a one sentence summary. I also include subheadings, and these are formatted <H1> which is good for SEO. I add hyperlinks.
The show notes are transferred to WordPress using a tool called Wordable (formerly Postable). Wordable is a one-click solution for transferring draft blog posts created in Google Docs to WordPress.org.
Next, it’s time to create images for the show notes. I create my images using Canva. I previously used Photoshop but Canva is web-based and easy-to-use. It has templates at the correct sizes for social media imagery so I highly recommend it.
I create images for Pinterest, Instagram, Facebook/Google+ and Twitter. The specific sizes can be found in my free podcast workflow checklist at the end of this post.
Next I need to do something with my MP3 file.
If you’re thinking about creating a podcast you need somewhere to host your files. You need somewhere for your audio files to live, so people can listen to them and download them.
If you are, for example, a WordPress.org user, you will already have a hosting solution because it’s a self hosted blogging platform. However, it’s not necessarily a good idea to host your audio files in the same place as your website.
I host my audio files with Libsyn. They are a fantastic company; all they all they do is podcast hosting. They are experts in their field.
I upload the audio file to Libsyn. I’ll also upload the square image I created for Instagram because Libsyn has a spot for a thumbnail image and the sizes work okay.
I’ll copy the show notes from WordPress across to Libsyn; I set the show to ‘clean’ (i.e. no swearing) and I’ll hit publish.
Once the show has published on Libsyn, I copy and paste the Libsyn audio player into WordPress. I use the custom audio player because I rather like the look of it and you have the opportunity to change an accent colour (I opt for #000000 black).
Now it’s time to perform some checks on the blog/podcast post.
I use a fantastic plugin for search engine optimisation call Yoast and through that plug-in I’m able to check the readability and the search engine optimisation of the show notes.
I also use a plugin called Better Click to Tweet. Using this enables me to create a little box that has a ‘Click to Tweet’ message. This allows social sharing to take place easily.
I add a feature image which is, again, the square Instagram image I created. I pop the Pinterest image to the very bottom of the show notes, centred.
Then it’s time to PUBLISH!
After publishing I like to create a redirect URL to make referring to the location of the podcast episode easy. For example, you’ll find this episode at martineellis.com/20. I do this using the plugin called Redirection.
At the time of writing I use Buffer. I have been trying out Coschedule and I’ll be in a position to feedback on that soon. But for now, Buffer is my tool of choice.
I share to Pinterest, Facebook, LinkedIn, Google, Twitter and Instagram, pretty much in the same fashion, although for Twitter, I use the Buffer Power Scheduler, allowing Buffer to pick the times.
That’s my podcast workflow.
It’s a lot of work. To make life as easy as possible for you, I’ve created a Google Doc outlining this entire workflow, including links to all the equipment and resources I use.
If you’re a wannabe podcaster, or someone who already has a podcast and would like to review their own workflow, then this is for you. Pop your details in the form at the end of this post to get your free download.
That’s it for me on podcast the stuff, but before I go, don’t forget to check out my new book club.
I hope you’ll tune in next time; thanks for listening.
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The one where I share 5 essential tools for small business owners.
Please note, the text that follows is a transcript (virtually word for word). It’s how I speak, not how I write, so (ahem…) the English isn’t brilliant! Thanks for understanding.
Hello and welcome to episode 19 of the Creative Me podcast. You didn’t have an episode from me last week. I took a week off after the last, lengthy, but value-packed, episode. It was a pleasure to interview the fabulous Frank of WorkFlowy fame. I hope you’ve had a chance to listen to that episode. If you haven’t, I highly recommend it.
Today’s episode is also value-packed. I have 5 essential tools for small business owners to share with you. These are all tools I use so I can talk about them with a degree of authority. I highly rate all of the tools I’m sharing with you in today’s episode. Some of them will be useful even if you’re not a small business owner, so keep listening.
The first tool I’m going to share is relatively new to me, but over the past few weeks, I’ve had great success with it. The tool is called Trello.
Trello has been around for some years, and I feel slightly disloyal mentioning Trello given that it is considered to be a productivity tool and I spent quite a while in the last episode extolling the virtues of WorkFlowy! Now, can I just say, I still love Workflowy, just in case Frank’s listening. I’m not using Trello as an outlining tool, I’m using it for something completely different. Before I explain that, let me tell you what Trello is.
Trello is essentially a bunch of different boards; I’m thinking of boards in the Pinterest sense of the word. What you do is on each board, you can create lists, and each list is comprised of cards. From a productivity perspective, each board looks a bit like a Kanban board. You can do Kanban within WorkFlowy too actually.
You might have a list called “To do” and then another list called “doing” and then a third list called “done” and gradually you move tasks from left to right. Trello’s quite difficult to explain verbally. I think the best thing for you to do is check it out to get a sense of it yourself. It’s a free tool. There is a paid upgrade, but the paid upgrade doesn’t give you that much extra, so like WorkFlowy, the free option is spot-on.
I’m using Trello to handle client tasks. I create a board for each client, and I give the client access. Then, I map out all of the elements of the project I’m working on for them. I tend to have a to do, doing, done and then an important documents list. Within each card, you can have things like checklists, links, images, Google Docs, all that sort of thing. By giving my clients access to their particular Trello board, they can not only see the progress I’m making but chat with me as well on each card, on each task.
This has worked well with several clients recently. It’s a bit tricky if the client doesn’t already use Trello, but that being said, my last client didn’t use Trello but now does because she thought it was quite a fabulous tool.
One of the benefits of handling client communication via an app like Trello is you keep it out of your email inbox. You can, of course, set up notifications. There are apps for your devices for Trello as well. It’s a really interesting tool to use as a client portal.
It also has potential for content and social media scheduling.
Keeping track of your expenses and the time you spend working for clients is all really important stuff. So you need a decent accounts app to handle that for you. I have recently started using FreeAgent. Historically, I’ve always used KashFlow; it’s great, and it met my needs. They have put their prices up recently so it prompted me to look around at other products, just in case I could find something better. And I am pretty sure I did!
I do still rate KashFlow, but FreeAgent seems to do everything KashFlow did for me and more. It has a far more user-friendly, jargon-free interface. I’ve just started using it. I finished my free trial, and I’ve signed up for to pay monthly for it. It’s $10 a month. I think that increases after 6 months.
I find accounting, oh, and invoicing and all that stuff just a headache. FreeAgent seems to make it fun, and that’s saying something. If you’re looking for a small business accounts type package, I would say FreeAgent is worth a look. Do the 1-month free trial. See what you think. It’s particularly good for freelancers who need to track their time and charge that on to clients.
My next must-have tool for small business owners and freelancers would be Google Apps for Business. I’m a massive fan of using Google Docs in particular and Google Drive to share and collaborate on documents with both business partners and clients. Also, you can have an email associated with your domain, so for example, my email address is firstname.lastname@example.org, and that’s based on a Gmail account, but I’ve attached it to my martineellis.com domain. It just looks so much more professional for a small business owner.
On the subject of emails, my next essential tool, number 4, for small business owners is the app Inbox by Gmail.
It is a Google product, linked directly to Gmail. It’s so much easier to manage when you use Inbox by Gmail. The best feature of this app for me is the ability to snooze, or rather delay the receipt, of emails, and this means that inbox zero is easier to achieve. Inbox Zero for me is nirvana, so a big fan of Inbox by Gmail.
My fifth and final essential tool for small business owners is the email service provider ConvertKit. There are lots of different options for email marketing. MailChimp was my first, and it is a really good starting point. You start for free with MailChimp and then once you reach a certain point, you have to start paying. One of the downsides of MailChimp is that you’ve got no way to tag subscribers relating to their interests. You have to segment them. Once they’re segmented, it’s my understanding that you get charged for them all over again, and that just doesn’t make sense.
ConvertKit is intuitive and has some amazing automation that just make life a lot easier. ConvertKit is a paid service, but I very much see it as an investment in my business.
That’s it from me for today. Those are your 5 essential tools for small business owners. I hope you found that interesting. I’d love to hear what your 5 essential tools are. Are you using different apps to me? Please let me know. I would love to explore other options. Until next time, thanks for tuning in. I hope you’ll tune in next week.
The one where I get a little bit fan-girly interviewing Frank Degenaar, author of “Do Way, Way More in Workflowy”.
Here are the important links mentioned in the episode:
The one where I launch a free online course about Pinterest.
Hello and welcome to episode 17 of the Creative Me podcast. I’m horribly behind with blog posts, podcast episode and email newsletters, but with good reason.
Please note, my Pinterest course is temporarily unavailable while I work on building a brand new, improved course behind the scenes. If you'd like to be emailed when the new course is ready, please enter your name and email below and click the button. Thanks.
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In my old podcast, iMake, I had a Guernsey section of the show and, while I don’t have this kind of feature in Creative Me, I am going to make an exception today. Guernsey did a good thing yesterday by holding its first ever Pride event. Better late than never. I was proud to be part of it and to celebrate diversity.
I’m delighted to have a guest post featured on The Write Life.
Behind the scenes, I’ve been working away at an online course. Online courses have always been part of my master plan. Producing online courses combines my love of teaching, creativity, technology and business.
After a lot of research into course platforms (including Skillshare and Teachable), I opted to build my platform off the back of my WordPress website. I talked about moving from Squarespace to WordPress in podcast episode 14.
I used the LearnDash WordPress plugin.
Let me tell you about the course. It’s called “How to Create Gorgeous Pin-worthy Images for Pinterest” (no budget or design skills required). Sign up here.
I want to get to know the platform, get feedback and find out what type of courses my followers want.
Thanks to Clare and Sharon for their help with testing the course.
If you want to know more about course planning, I’d be happy to do an episode on that – email me.
TTFN – thanks for tuning in.
The one where I outlaw Instagram scissors, prohibit peony pictures and make flat lays illegal. Yes, ladies and gentlemen, I am investigating Instagram Stories.
Hello and welcome to episode 16 of the Creative Me podcast. In today’s episode we’ll be exploring Instagram Stories.
Earlier this month Instagram introduced a new feature called Stories.
A story is a series of snapshots from your day. You can share multiple photos and short videos and they appear together as a slideshow. You can add text over the top and emoji, you can also add your own doodles in different colours.
Your story does not appear in your Instagram feed and it disappears after 24 hours. You can see stories from people you follow in the bar above your feed. When there is something new to see there will be a colourful ring around their profile photo. Tap the photo to see the story. There are no public “likes” or comments but you can message the person a comment directly.
Your story mirrors your account’s privacy settings, although you can easily hide your story from certain people you follow if you choose to.
It sounds a lot like Snapchat, doesn’t it? Well it is. But there are some key differences.
First, consider the purpose of both platforms and the consequent demographic the attract.
Instagram users tend to share only their best photos. Their feed is carefully curated; especially if they are using Instagram as part of their business social media marketing plan.
Snapchat, however, is instant and unpolished. There is no permanent feed. Everything is temporary and a little bit goofy. You have the option of adding Snapchat Lenses to your snaps. For those who aren’t in the know this means you can do things like turn your selfie into a dog’s face sticking its tongue out. I think there’s also a rainbow vomit option…
As such, Snapchat seems to attract a younger age group. This is not to say that us thirty-somethings+ aren’t goofy. It’s just we’re old enough to reserve our goofiness for a more select audience.
I tried Snapchat and found it fun but not intuitive. Jo from the Shinybees podcast had to teach me how to use it! Now I’m pretty tech savvy, but I just couldn’t wrap my head around Snapchat. Apparently teenagers intuitively know what to do…
Instagram Stories have text overlay and drawing options but that’s it. The lack of lenses suggests to me that they know their audience well.
Whilst I am an Instagram girl, I sometimes get a bit sick of seeing everyone’s perfect lives there. A while back I dabbled in Instagram flat lays. Heck I even photographed some peonies. And I own two pairs of Instagram scissors. But it all felt a bit fake.
It was easy to populate my feed when I was knee deep in surface pattern design. I just shared all the pretty things.
Lately my feed has been very book and podcast focussed. I think the transition in my business has left me unsure about my Instagram identity.
Wearing a business hat, I know it’s important to curate what you share on social media and focus on things your prospective customers want to see. However, I am torn. I want my feed to be interesting, attractive and also about me. I think that’s where stories can come in handy. They allow a glimpse behind the scenes – the more human side of an Instagram feed.
And then there’s the exposure…
The main reason why I’ve forgotten to use Snapchat for the past month, and have been dabbling in Instagram Stories, is exposure. I already have a decent audience on Instagram so every story I share has the chance of being seen by lots of people. I’ve not exactly been proactive in developing my Snapchat following (ahem… I cannot event work out how many followers I have!)
It’s really important, if you use social media to promote your art or business, to experiment with different social media platforms. Never put your eggs all in one basket. However, it does feel like a lot of hard work to grow a following on Snapchat.
Instagram stories, just like Instagram posts, are public by default. That’s not how Snapchat works.
I’m unlikely to put the effort into Snapchat now. I just don’t have the time or inclination to put the effort into growing a following.
So Instagram is going to be my creative social media platform of choice. I am going to continue developing my new ‘presence’ and use Stories to share real life behind the scenes moments. I’m going to try and talk to the camera more…. gulp.
If you want to follow me on Instagram, here are the links you need:
martineeellis (my main feed – where my stories are)
martineart (my art feed – just arty stuff, not much interaction and no stories)
pennycavachon (my dog’s feed…!)
I’d be interested to hear your views on all this Instagram Stories versus Snapchat stuff. Feel free to reach out.
That’s all from me today – thanks for tuning in.
Welcome to episode 15 of the Creative Me podcast. Today’s episode is about how to stay motivated working from home.
I work from home 2 days a week – 4 if you count weekends. At the moment I on summer break from my day job as a teacher so my routine has been disrupted and sometimes I’ve been less productive than I’d like.
I plan to write an in-depth blog post about this but to get my creative juices flowing; I thought chatting about it on the podcast would be a good plan. It means anyone listening can contribute to the post too. If you’d like to contact me with your suggestions, please feel free to do so.
In this episode, I’ll chat about three ways to stay motivated working from home. My aim for the blog post would be ten. Here goes:
Having some actual humans to talk to is essential. It’s easy to go a whole 8 hours with (in my case) only a dog and two cats to chat to. I’m a member of the Seanwes business community, and it means I have access to like-minded individuals, and I can chat to them anytime and get feedback on any business challenges I face.
If you’ve not got people who you can talk to about your business then just go outside. Go for a walk, pick up a paper, talk to people – it will improve your day!
Treat your day like a day in the office: get dressed; don’t work in your PJs no matter how tempting it is. I like to put a bit of makeup on. It’s not a vanity thing; it’s about routine. Take breaks – don’t do chores – you’re at work. If you must put a load of washing in then, do it on your lunch break. Yes, I said lunch break. Take one of those too.
It’s important you don’t work where you sleep if you can. Have a separate workspace.
Part of my working from home routine is to make a list of everything I plan to achieve over the next 8 hours or so in Workflowy (if you like Workflowy you’ll love this book). I also try and remove distractions. Freedom is my app of choice for internet blocking
Look after yourself. Drink water, take breaks, nap (yes nap if it works for you) and exercise. I walk the dog every day after lunch, and it really helps me stay focused and energised.
How do you stay motivated working from home? Please feel free to let me know by email email@example.com or on social media – you can find my links on martineellis.com. I’ve posted this question on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.
I’ve changed the format – what do you think?
I hope you’ve enjoyed today’s episode and that you’ll join me next week. Thanks for tuning in
The one where I explain my recent decision to move my website from Squarespace to Wordpress.
Welcome to episode 14 of the Creative Me podcast, thanks for tuning in. In this episode I will be talking about why I moved my website from Squarespace to WordPress. Several people have asked about it, so I thought I’d explain on the podcast.
Before I start, I have a quick book update for you. I have got to the stage in the book where I need to revisit my outline. The writing is flowing, things are going well, but I think I need to be writing in more detail. The book is aimed at people new to promoting their business online so detail is important.
Ever since I made the decision to niche down things seem to be falling into line. I have a new freelance client and things just feel right.
If you want to compare Squarespace to WordPress, check out this article: Squarespace v WordPress.
Squarespace is an “out of the box” website product but it enables you to create a sophisticated looking site.It is surprisingly easy to use, even for non-techies. The support is great. Hosting is included in your monthly fee.
Squarespace is worth every penny. It’s easy to maintain and you can make your website look great.
There are two different WordPress options, self-hosted (.org) or WordPress-hosted (.com). Below you will find links to both options, as well as a link to an article which explains the difference between the two. I am using a self-hosted installation of WordPress.
WordPress (self hosted)
WordPress.org is an open source platform. This means third parties have access to the code and can build themes and plugins (tools to extend the functionality of your website). This is, in the main, fabulous, as you can really customise your site. However, as themes and plugins are built by third parties, you could install something that breaks your site. You need to be sufficiently confident with technology to troubleshoot this. When I was last with WordPress, I was not particularly technical and it was all a little stressful. Now I am far more confident.
TSOhost is my website host. They are based in the UK and so far the support I have received has been excellent.
Another reason for moving from Squarespace to WordPress is I would like to offer online courses at some point and I want to do this on my own website rather than on someone else’s turf.
Here are the third party course platforms I mentioned in the episode:
The biggest reason for creating my platform on Worpdress is that I own everything. I am building my platform on my own turf.
Squarespace was a good start for me. You could do worse than starting there. Alternatively, consider starting with wordpress.com then migrate to wordpress.org.
If you want to chat more, email me firstname.lastname@example.org or on social media. Thanks for listening.
The one where I make some big, scary decisions about my business and share them with you, warts and all.
Sign up to my email list here
My previous business: iMake
Please let me know your thoughts on the episode.
The one where I read you a story. Are you sitting comfortably?
Please note there will be no podcast next week as I am on my holibobs. It will be back to normal the week after.
To get your copy of The Quick and Dirty Guide to Getting Stuff Done, complete the form at the end of this post.
Please email me any ideas you have for my next ebook. What are your current creative/technical/business struggles? I'd love to know and, ideally, to help.
The one where I avoid procrastination and get stuff done.
Here’s a transcript of the show…
Hello and welcome to episode 11 of the Creative Me podcast. Thank you so much for joining me.
Before I get started with today’s topic, I just wanted to let you know that I’ve opened an online stationery shop (update: the shop is no longer open).
Incidentally, if you ever forget how to spell “stationery”, the way to remember is “E is for envelopes”. Stationery with an “ERY” refers to the paper/pens/envelopes type of stationery. Anyway, enough spelling tips, let’s get on with the show.
Today we’re talking about procrastination. Procrastination is the art (well it’s not really an art!) the action of delaying or postponing something. You know the sort of thing I’m talking about! We all do it.
Today I’m going to share five top tips for avoiding procrastination. In other words, five top tips for getting things done.
My first tip is to break large tasks into smaller chunks.
This probably sounds quite obvious because breaking something down into smaller chunks is going to make it seem more manageable. But even when you break something into chunks, you still have to start the first chunk, then move on to the second. So make the first chunk small. REALLY small. Make the first step easy.
For example, if you’ve got to do your tax returns, your first step is actually just getting your tax file off the shelf. It’s all a mind game and if you can get that first little step done, that easy step, it will lead to the second and the third and fourth. Thank you so much to Robert Bree from the Seanwes community who got chatting to me on this particular topic this morning.
I use the app Workflowy for outlining my tasks. Workflowy is amazing because it allows me to create a huge list and then isolate individual tasks. So for anyone who has a bit of trouble with procrastination and wants to break things into manageable chunks, I highly recommend Workflowy.
Top tip number two is to remove distractions. Allow yourself the luxury of focusing on at a time. I use the Freedom app for getting rid of the distraction of social media.
Noise cancelling headphones are a good idea if you are in an office with lots of people. Even if you’re not listening to music it sends a signal to those around you that you really have got to get on with what you’re doing. It puts you in a bit of a bubble and gives you the best chance of getting stuff done.
My procrastination is at its worst when I don’t have a solid deadline for something, or my deadline is a long way away. Remember school? You always knew exams were coming on a certain date but of course it was miles away so you didn’t revise until a few days a week before…
According to Parkinson’s Law, things will grow to fill the time you allot them. For example, meetings. If you schedule a one hour meeting, it will last an hour, even though perhaps you only needed 20 minutes. With that in mind, if you need to get something done, perhaps setting your own short deadlines is the way forward.
A good technique for managing short bursts of effort is the Pomodoro Technique. One Pomodoro is a 20 minute block (correction, 25 minute block) of time. You break down your task into Pomodoro chunks and allocate a certain number of Pomodoros to it. Set a timer for each Pomodoro and take a 5 minute break inbetween.
Top tip number four is to get accountable. Publicly declare what you will do and when you will do it. I do this through my email list. I have small but engaged list of people who I write to on a weekly basis.
Incidentally, I’d love it if you signed up. I will add a form to the end of the show notes.
In every email, I reflect on the week that has just gone and I look forward to the week to come. I explain what I’m going to do and what my aims are. I encourage my subscribers to reply and do the same.
Not everyone has the luxury of an email list to correspond with, so perhaps another way to do this is through an accountability partner. An accountability partner somebody you chat to regularly about what you’ve done and what you plan to do. I talked about this in an earlier episode.
My accountability partner is Jo. We chat once a month via FaceTime, but actually throughout the month we chat on Slack so we continually keep each other accountable. In our monthly FaceTime calls we have an agenda and action points on Google Docs – this works really well.
My fifth top tip for avoiding procrastination comes from a friend, and member of my email subscriber list, Sarah-Jayne. She’s a very creative lady and runs a donkey factory (handmade donkeys, not actual donkeys!)
I was chatting to Sarah-Jayne about procrastination and she told me about a little something she does with her husband to get stuff done. When they feel like they’ve been procrastinating a bit, they make a list of “quick wins”. These are things that they can do quickly and easily, without procrastinating, and they know they can feel really really good after doing those things. What a great idea.
Right that’s it from me for now. I hope you enjoyed the episode. If you’ve got any top tips on avoiding procrastination please feel free to share them in the comments.
(Update: I am using Instagram Stories, rather than Snapchat, now, so please feel free to connect with me over there: martineeellis).
Also don’t forget to sign up to my email list to get weekly emails about creativity, productivity and all sorts of fab things like that.
Thanks so much for tuning in. I’ll check in with you next week
PS: Please excuse some of the pop sounds in this episode – I am getting a pop shield to combat the issue.
The one where I release my inner bibliophile.
The one where I release my inner bibliophile.
Here are the links and resources mentioned in the show:
Amazon Kindle Paperwhite and book links below (please note these are affiliate links).
ME Box - sign up window is open until 7 July 2016
The one where I try and establish a daily writing routine and end up with a daily napping routine.
It's all about Brexit in the news.
Things I've learned so far...
What about you?
The one where I continue to demonstrate my obsession with apps.
Here are some links I mentioned in the episode:
Freedom (internet blocker)
Pocket (read later)
Instapaper (read later)
The Noun Project (icons)
Lingo (creative asset organisation)
Slack (team communication)
The one where I write a book in 24 hours. Seriously. A whole (ahem) 12 page book! These are the resources mentioned in the episode. Please note some of these are affiliate links.
Get your ME Box here (sign up window closes on 7 June 2016 at 5pm GMT).
Freedom - get more done!
Do Way, Way More in Workflowy by Frank Degenaar (sorry I got the book title a bit wrong in the podcast)
The one where I celebrate an 80's classic and get a bit deep about putting people in boxes.
The one where I invent a new word (appmazeballs) and get excited about apps for creative learning.
Here are some of the apps and links I mention in the show:
The Creative Me podcast is now available on iTunes and lost of other podcast directories. Whoop!
ME Box update - June boxes ship next week and the sign up window for July opens on 1st June 2016.
Audible (iOS and Android) (books mentioned: "The Storyteller's Secret" and "Talk Like Ted" by Carmine Gallow, "#AskGaryVee" by Gary Vaynerchuck, "The Creative Habit" by Twyla Tharp, "Big Magic" by Elizabeth Guilbert and "#GirlBoss" by Sophia Amaruso.
The one where I share the InstaLove, try to speak Japanese and get familiar with a bloke called Danny.
Here are some of the the links and resources mentioned in this episode:
The one where I realise accountability partnerships don’t always involve group hugs.
It’s episode two. It feels like I’ve never been away from the microphone. Today’s episode topic is accountability. But before we start, this is the plan for the podcast moving forward:
Podcasts will be released weekly and will last 10 to 15 minutes. The content will be actionable. Topics will include creativity, business without buzzwords and tech.
The podcast isn’t on iTunes yet, but it will be as soon as I have three episodes. It will also be on Stitcher and other podcast directories.
If you’re like me, you love a good business blog, podcast or book/audiobook. Particularly if it also covers creativity and productivity. If this is you, you will have probably come across the term “accountability partner”. The term makes me cringe a bit as it sounds like there are group hugs involved. Is it just me?
I need to learn to not judge a book by its cover or an idea by its slightly cheesy title. Accountability partnerships are interesting and useful things – I’m in one.
Let’s rewind a moment though and look at what an accountability partner is. The term originated in religious circles. People would pair up together to help each other do good things. It was a support mechanism.
Here’s a definition: “Accountability partner” as defined on Wikipedia (so it must be true).
My accountability partnership has nothing to do with religion or bad things. The principle is similar though. We are two busy people with business goals who check in with each other monthly.
Using Google Docs the whole process is structured and focussed. Structure works well for me – that’s why Workflowy runs my life.
One of the reasons I thought the idea of accountability partnership was a bit strange (before I was in one) is that I’m uncomfortable asking for help. Rather than reflect on this too much (it’s a short episode) I’m simply going to recommend this:
It’s helped me a lot.
Let me know if you start an accountability partnership or if you have questions email@example.com. Thanks for tuning in.
I've got the strangest case of deja vu. I'm recording another podcast.
Previously I hosted the iMake podcast, which was all about creative lifestyle topics such as knitting and cooking. My island home, Guernsey, was also regularly mentioned.
Last year I made the difficult decision to wind up the podcast. This was mainly because I was moving on to new things and the podcast's theme didn't fit. Time was also an issue; producing a podcast takes a lot of time.
It was a hard decision but I know it was the right one.
But there were things about podcasting I really missed. In particular the community element.
I didn't miss the administrative elements like typing up show notes and uploading files.
A number of my iMake listeners asked me if I'd consider recording another show in the future. I said yes, if I could find a way to cut down on the time it took. The podcasting process would have to be carefully streamlined.
After a great deal of thought, I think I've found a way. I'm kicking an idea around...
Should I create a brand new podcast about creativity, technology and small business?
Creativity and technology are two of my favourite things. Sharing my experience as a small business owner could also form a part of the show. I have recently launched a stationery subscription business called ME Box.
A short but regular podcast schedule could work. It would be a bit like me phoning you up and leaving a voice message. If I left a message on your answerphone it would be un-edited, straight to the point, relevant and personal. This could work well for both of us.
I'm not saying I am starting a new podcast, I am just thinking about it. But if I did, I'd call it Creative Me.
I have decided to try and re-train as a surface pattern designer and to support this aim I am studying The Art and Business of Surface Pattern Design.
It looks like I have started a new podcast. Let's call the episode Déjà Vu. I plan to provide you with top quality, actionable content. Here's a resource for you today if you are looking for humorous business advice: The Middle Finger Project (bad language warning).
That's all from me, I hope you'll tune in next time (since there is going to be a next time!)