Thursday, June 21, 2012

5 blogs to read today

As some of you may know (but most probably don't), I'm also a musician. I play saxophone, and used to perform quite often in my pre-kid, pre-recession life. I've gigged with a number of bands, including shows with iconic groups The Temptations and Little Anthony and the Imperials, as well as a host of local groups and my own jazz quartet.

One important lesson I learned during my days of intense practicing was that in order to play well, you have to listen to music--a LOT of music. Listen to your favorite artists. Listen to the greats. Listen to everything you can get your hands on. You'll learn so much, like how to phrase and ways to incorporate inflection and emulate tone. And, of course, listening is a very inspiring way to get excited about playing.

I've found that writing is no different. In order to write well, you have to read--a LOT. If you write fiction, read your favorite authors. If you write poetry, absorb as many stanzas as you can. And if you write for your business, read trade journals, newsletters, and blogs. Look at information published by friends and competitors in your area. Note what you like and what you don't about what they say and how they say it.

Reading helps you get a feel for tone (formal, conversational) and flow (sentence length). You may learn a new word or two along the way. And, just like when you read books, you'll soon find a writer whose work you probably enjoy reading.

When you find an inspirational write who provides information you can use, and when the writer happens to be the author of a blog, it's easy to follow him or her regularly and get your (daily, weekly) fix.

I have a lot of blogs on my own RSS feed, but here are 5 of my favorites I'd like to share with you. I check in with these folks almost daily, and thanks to their thoughtful content I obtain a lot of business and writing information and ideas. I'm sure you will, too.

1. Copyblogger

2. ProBlogger

3. Michelle Shaeffer

4. Momeo

5. Write Direction

What blogs do you follow? How have they helped your business?


Friday, June 15, 2012

be a better writer

As a writer, I'm always up for refining my skills. Because of time restraints, however, I don't spend as much time doing this as I'd like. So when I came across this tips chart today, thanks to Copyblogger, you can bet I downloaded it and will print it out to hang above my desk.

Do you write? Doesn't matter what: journals, personal or business blogs, short stories, novels...this will serve as a reminder that the only way to write better is, simply, to WRITE.

10 Steps to Becoming a Better Writer
Like this infographic? Get more content marketing tips from Copyblogger.

Wednesday, June 06, 2012

workin' it out when the kids are home

 It's summertime, and the livin' is...easy? Well, that depends.

If you work from home and the kids are out of school, otherwise relaxing, breezy summer days can complicate your work routine. Gone are the mornings that, after an often chaotic experience of rousing, feeding, and hustling everyone out the door, lend themselves to a peaceful, quiet setting. A time where you can finally sit down with your coffee and begin your workday--in silence.

Now there are leisurely breakfasts, arguments to break up (all day!), playdates to coordinate, morning t-ball practices to attend, etc. A quiet morning where you can make phone calls or reply thoughtfully to client emails are a thing of the past--at least for the next few months.

So how do you balance your summer work-family schedule? Do you take advantage of daycamps or babysitting? Do you hustle the kiddos outside after breakfast, call "See ya at lunchtime!", and lock the doors?

I actually welcome summertime, because my husband is on break from his teaching duties. This leaves me more flexibility to meet with clients, attend networking events, and escape from home for a few hours and hit up the local coffeehouse. (Incidentally, that's where I am as I write this post.) He can hang with our girls while I kick up my productivity a notch. But I realize not everyone is this fortunate, so here are a few tips to glean a few extra hours of quiet working time.

Get up early.
Even though I lean on my husband for help, I am continuing to get up at the same time as I did during the school year. It works out because the girls sleep in a bit (as a result of slightly later bedtimes) so I can often eek out an hour or so before they wake up.

Swap sitting duties.
Do you have a friend who also has kids? Set up a swap where she takes your kids for a few hours one day, and you take hers on another. This allows you (both) to save money--no paying a babysitter--and you both benefit.

Hire a mother's helper.
Consider having a student come over a couple mornings each week to play with your kids while you work. High school and college students are good candidates, and you could even use a younger helper (pre-teen). You'll be home in case of an emergency ("She took my cracker!!" does not constitute an emergency!) but will be granted time to concentrate on your work while someone else minds the kids.

Many other options are available for child care during the summer...share some of your solutions with us! We'd love to hear how you are working from home with the family on hand this summer.