The one where we get stuff done
Hello, and welcome to episode 37 of the Creative Me Podcast.
The experience of doing the webinar, and subsequent chats in The Lightbulb Club, highlighted a general feeling amongst busy people that there are not enough hours in the day.
How many times have you said that? I say it all the time.
Of course, we all have the same 24 hours, but what's different is that we have different commitments we have to attend to. What's left over is the time you get to spend on perhaps your business or your creative pursuits.
The question is how can we maximise that time?
One of the biggest problems is that we are setting ourselves up to fail.
Does this sound like you? You've completed all of your necessary daily tasks and for the time you've got left you set 12 huge to-do items...
Are you being realistic about the time that you've got to do these tasks? I think probably not.
Many of use have a massive list of to-dos and don't give any consideration to how long each task takes. There is a distinct mismatch between what we are expecting of ourselves and the time that we've got available. We are not being realistic.
When working out how to spend your time, try to be specific and realistic.
Specific: clearly identify what needs to be done and estimate, as accurately as you can, how long each task will take.
Realistic: then, only schedule tasks to fit into the time allowed - be realistic.
If you're giving yourself 10 tasks that take an hour each and you have two hours to do this work then it's just not going to happen!
I always operate on an MIT basis. I have trusted place, where I dump everything I need to do at some point (David Allen - Getting Things Done).
I pick my three most important tasks, assuming that those three tasks are specific and realistic, and add them to my whiteboard. In the absence of a whiteboard, I'd use post-it notes or a piece of paper.
If you really want to maximise the time that you've got available you should schedule pretty much every second of that time. You might find the Pomodoro Technique useful for chunking up your time.
A great way to maximise the hours in your day is to get a decent night's sleep and get up early.
There's nothing like being up at 6 am and cracking on with some work and feeling like you've done something really valuable before anyone in the house is up.
Just don't do it! I explain why in my free ebook, The Quick and Dirty Guide to Getting Stuff Done (click the button below to download it).
The final thing I'd really like to leave you with, this is a biggie - learn to say no.
I understand there are certain things you cannot say no too, but equally, there are things you can.
Practice makes perfect.
Those are my thoughts but I am far more interested in yours.
Leave a comment below, grab me on social media or drop into The Lightbulb Club and chat.
Thanks for tuning in - I hope you'll tune in next time.
The one where I explain my process for creating a free email course.
Hello and welcome to episode 36. Today we are going to be talking about free email courses. If you've done any research into building your email list, I'm sure you will have come across the strategy of offering a lead magnet.
A lead magnet is something of value which you give away for free to visitors to your website in exchange for their email address. There are all sorts of things you can offer as a lead magnet, for example, a checklist or free ebook.
Another recommended lead magnet is a free email course and that's what we're going to talk about today.
It's an autoresponder if you're familiar with email marketing language.
Basically, someone signs up for your email course via a form on your website and then they get a series of emails, usually daily, over a set period of time, for example, a week or five days.
The emails will contain educational content and typically a number of actions that the recipient is advised to carry out in order to get the most from the educational content.
As a teacher, I have struggled a bit with calling this type of autoresponder a course. It just doesn't feel quite right because a course typically would include a great deal of one-to-one support, feedback and assessment.
That said, I do think the product has a great deal of value, and as such, I have set one up myself.
Here's how to set up an autoresponder in Convertkit.
And here's how to do it in Mailchimp.
Download the checklist below to access the process I followed to create my email course: martineellis.com/36
The one where I have a serious rant about Fiverr's latest advertising campaign.
Hello and welcome to episode 35 of the Creative Me podcast. Today's episode is inspired by an advertisement I saw online for Fiverr.
Fiverr is a "freelance services marketplace for the lean entrepreneur". You can acquire freelance services from a variety of different people for a very low price. In fact, prices start at five dollars; hence the name.
In the interests of full disclosure, I have used Fiverr the past. I've not purchased anything for just five dollars; I feel deeply uncomfortable with paying so little for professional services. I guess the back of my mind that's always been a slight issue for me in using fiverr.
That being said, the services I have paid for on Fiverr have been great. I've ended up tipping the freelancer on top of the payment that I gave them.
So why am I telling you all of this?
Well, Fiverr has recently published this awful advertisement:
The underlying message of the advert is this:
The only way to succeed in freelance life, and in business generally, and to be considered a "doer", is to live on coffee and no sleep and spend your every waking hour working. Do that, and you've made it.
Whilst the ad doesn't explicitly say "take drugs as well", I feel it's implied.
This is a bad advert with an appalling message to anybody considering working as a freelancer.
What's more, if you already offer services through Fiverr, and you see this advert, what must you think?
This is an epic brand fail for Fiverr.
The main reason I wanted to bring this to your attention is that it's a timely reminder. As freelancers and business owners, we need to look after ourselves as a priority.
It is very easy to slip into that "work all day and night" mindset. But the truth is, when you do, your output is dramatically affected.
If you want to be successful in your business your brain and body need to be functioning at 100%. Looking after yourself is a business priority.
I've had my fair share of health issues over the past 12 months. I've had a back injury which has meant I've been in pain on a daily basis. Recently I've had a minor operation to offer me some pain relief and I'm pleased to report that it's working!
Coupled with that, I've had some food intolerance and sensitivity testing done recently and we suspect that I'm pretty much sensitive to all of the foods that I've been eating of late. For example, gluten, dairy, caffeine... all that good stuff.
Over the past week, I've been on an elimination diet. This is not a permanent thing, by the way. You eliminate potential foods that you are sensitive to and then you gradually bring them back in to see which ones you can tolerate.
I've been on this elimination diet for a week and it's been tough - particularly the caffeine withdrawal.
But today, I feel fantastic! I have been more productive than I've been in months. I've got energy. I don't have any pain. It's an amazing feeling and the impact on my business productivity has been huge.
My message is this:
Your health and well-being is directly related to the success of your business. As such, it needs to be top of the agenda.
What do you think? Let me know in The Lightbulb Club.
Before I sign off, I have an opportunity for you.
I've launched a free, five-day email course called Craft a Better Blog (craftabetterblog.com).
In the course, you will discover your blog's unique voice. You will also explore idea generation and content planning, as well as spelling punctuation and grammar (I know, I know, it's not very sexy but it is essential if you want to craft a better blog).
By the end of the course, you'll be ready to up your blogging game and ultimately write better blog posts.
If you think your blog posts need a bit of work, this might well be the course for you. As it's free, you might as well sign up.
Thanks for listening.
The one where I rediscover my love for Squarespace.
Hello and welcome to the show. This is episode 34 of the Creative Me podcast.
If you follow me on social media, or indeed, if you're a member of my email list, you'll know that I've been stressing out about my website over the past few weeks because I got hacked. Like, seriously hacked! Not just once, but four times in one week!
It was not a pleasant experience.
Let's rewind just a second, though, and I can explain my pre-hack website set up.
The main reason I decided to move to Wordpress.org was because I plan to run online courses. I wanted the flexibility of hosting the courses myself so I could have total control. Also, Wordpress.org felt like the next logical step.
Here's an explanation of the difference between Wordpress.org and Wordpress.com.
Up until a fortnight ago, I was fairly happy with my choice to move to Wordpress.
I was perhaps spending a little more time maintaining my site that I initially imagined, though. I used many plug-ins so there were regular updates to do. I was also running into some issues with my website running slowly.
If I am honest, looking back, I was spending more time on my site than I wanted to. Creating content is my priority, but my platform had to be working perfectly for the content to be created and shared. So invariably the website came first.
A few people have asked me how I knew my website had been hacked.
Thankfully a couple of my lovely website followers emailed me to let me know. They explained that every time they clicked a button or link on my site, lots of pop-ups appeared. Some of them were hard to get rid of.
The pop-ups were advertising gaming websites, mostly - it could have been worse.
Nevertheless, it was a huge inconvenience and people visiting my site couldn't access what they wanted to. So, I am extremely grateful for those people who took the time to email me to explain something was wrong.
I'd been a bit suspicious earlier that day as the back end of my website was behaving strangely. But I put it out of my mind until I received those emails.
After that, I got on the phone to my hosting company and we restored an (apparently) clean backup from two weeks ago. I had to recreate a couple of blog posts, which was a pain, but I did it quickly.
I was feeling relaxed and happy and everything was okay.
Then the following day it happened again. Then I think had a clear day and then it happened again. And again... four times in total.
On the fourth hack I decided that enough was enough. I couldn't run a site where I had to do so many additional things to keep it secure. I needed to outsource this!
I also decided I'd definitely not be hosting my online courses myself - I would be using Teachable.
Just to be completely transparent with you, I did have security measures in place. I have complicated passwords and had a variety of security plug-ins installed. I am not totally naïve when it comes to this sort of thing. But clearly, I wasn't doing enough.
I started doing a bit of research and I began to understand that Wordpress sites do get hacked a lot.
I very quickly realised that I needed to outsource the security element to my website. I don't want to spend my time updating plug-ins and all that sort of thing; I want to be producing content.
So, I did a bunch of research. It was clear that Squarespace was the right option.
Thanks to the course, I was able to create a website I am thrilled with in a weekend (albeit a long one!)
My Squarespace site looks better than my Wordpress site, and I'd say 95% of the features I had on the old site have been replicated on the new one. I implemented a few hacks to achieve this and I will share those in a separate blog post.
There are just two plug-ins I will miss from Wordpress: Simple Podcast Press and KingSumo (giveaways). However, I plan to retain a basic Wordpress installation for future giveaways so I can still use the KingSumo plugin.
This has been a massive learning experience. One reflection I had was that a lot of the advice I hear given to newish creative entrepreneurs is to build their site on Wordpress.org. It's easy to use, flexible, safe etc...
Well, I'm a pretty tech-savvy girl and I really had a bit of a struggle with Wordpress.org, so I think advising newish creative entrepreneurs to take that route is not ideal. Granted, not everyone gets hacked, but...
I have always maintained that Squarespace is cracking starting point for anyone, but now I recognise that it isn't just a starting point. I was able to create something that really meets my needs and hopefully will for very long time.
Have you ever been hacked? Or have you moved from Squarespace to WordPress to Squarespace like me? What are your thoughts on the subject? I'd love to hear from you.
Thanks for listening.