Motivation Monday: Make an Editorial Calendar

Join us every most Monday mornings for Motivation Monday, where we share a helpful “homework” assignment that gives your business a creative boost and gets you thinking (and moving) outside the box each week. 

Ever feeling like you're flying by the seat of your pants when it comes to publishing blog posts, sending emails to your list, or managing your social media? We've found having an editorial calendar- albeit one that we can change around if need be- to be tremendously helpful in maintaining our sanity and helping us provide a clear, cohesive message to our audiences (tweet this).

Remember, there are no hard and fast rules for making and managing an editorial calendar. If you don't want to post every day, don't! If your interests and content changes from month to month, go with it!

Some tips from us:

  • We love to download and print month-by-month calendars- we find it more effective than using Google Calendars (shocking, we know)
  • Use the Editorial Calendar plugin- it enables you to drop your blog drafts into a calendar grid instead of seeing them in the default list format the WordPress uses (which we find more difficult to use!)
  • Consider leaving a few days empty so that you can slot in exciting news or time-sensitive posts if need be
  • Before announcing a new series, be sure that you have 3-4 posts in the pipeline so that you have ample time to start collecting or writing new ones as the others go out
  • If your inspiration comes in wave (like ours) don't hit publish every day- space out posts over the course of several weeks or months so that your blog won't go dark during your uninspired periods
  • Keep a running note in Evernote of blog posts ideas that you can schedule in as you make your editorial calendar

Questions to ask yourself:

  • Are you doing a product or service launch? Schedule in some posts both before and after the launch to address FAQs, explain your offerings, and showcase testimonials
  • Do you have a few posts based around the same topic? Consider doing a theme week, like our recent accountability week
  • Do you want to be known for at least one consistent post, a la Marie Forleo's Q&A Tuesday, Katelyn Brooke's Starred This Week, or Jessica Lawlor's Start Your Week Right Sunday links? Schedule it in and plan ahead so you don't run out of content!
  • Will you write content that correlates with special occasions or holidays? For example, you could put together a holiday gift guide, run a pay what it's worth sale with the money going to one of your charities during their commemorative month (Etsy for Animals, anyone?), or donate your birthday to charity:water
  • Are there things happening in pop culture that you can capitalize on for content? For example, anticipate the end of a popular TV show or a big awards show and prepare an outline for a post- like these 5 Traits Businesswomen Can Learn from Scandal's Olivia Pope

Do you use an editorial calendar? Any tips for managing it?

P.S. We love these other printable editorial calendar templates too: Blog & Social Media Planner from Laura Winslow Photography, Blog School: Printable Editorial Calendar, and a a simple editorial calendar from Create like Crazy.

Where To Find an Accountability Buddy (Hint: Right Here!)

It’s Accountability Week here at One Woman Shop. Follow along with all of our posts about accountabilityemail us your questions and tips, and give #AccountabilityWeek some Twitter love!

You're getting better at holding yourself accountable and you know what makes for a great accountability partner and a successful accountability system- but how the heck do you actually find an accountability buddy? Have no fear, One Woman Shop is here!

One Woman Shop: We're a little biased, but we think we have a pretty awesome community right here. If you're interested in an accountability buddy, please complete this quick form at the bottom of this post. We'll then share you on the spreadsheet so you can peruse other accountability buddy requests and reach out if you find a great potential (tweet this out).

Networking groups: You're almost guaranteed to find a relevant meetup group on Search for specific business interests (SEO, Etsy shop owners, etc) or general groups, like those for female entrepreneurs. If you're not having any luck, try Google searching with keywords like "female entrepreneurs," "freelancers," or "solopreneurs" and your city name.

Local Levo: Levo League- which describes itself as "a thriving community of young professionals, mentors, and innovative companies taking Gen Y by storm"- hosts local meetups, called Local Levo. If you're lucky enough to be in one of the 23 cities with chapters, take advantage of the opportunity to meet like-minded career and business women.

Coworking spaces: These shared office spaces often host networking events for entrepreneurs and some- like In Good Company, Hera Hub and Posh Coworking- even cater specifically to females. Attend a community event and see if you click with anyone there.

Twitter: Use FollowerWonk to search Twitter bios of those in your area. If you find an interesting profile, follow the link to the person's website, find their email, and ask if they'd like to grab coffee (remember: save the accountability partner request for later down the road).

Conferences and workshops: At local, regional, or national conferences, keep an eye out for individuals you might want to seek out as an accountability partner. A few to consider, depending on your industry: Designer Vaca, Making Things Happen, Women Get Social, Women Entrepreneurs Rock the World, and WomanCon.

Facebook Groups: For many solopreneurs, Facebook groups are an untapped resource. Consider joining one like Operation Entrepreneur or Bounce to meet fellow solopreneurs that you can then connect with one-on-one.

Ask around: Tell friends and family that you're looking to connect with more solopreneurs and freelancers and see if anyone comes to their mind. You never know who you'll end up getting connected to.

7 Tips for Creating an Awesome Accountability System with Your Buddy

It’s Accountability Week here at One Woman Shop. Follow along with all of our posts about accountabilityemail us your questions and tips, and give #AccountabilityWeek some Twitter love!

You know how to choose a great accountability partner- but what about how to set up a great fail-proof system with your new accountability pal? Here are 7 ways to create an awesome accountability system:

Keep It Simple

As business owners we are faced with thousands of decisions everyday. When we have to think too much about something we often end up doing nothing at all. So, when it comes to these meetings, keep it simple! Pick a time, a place, and a frequency for your meetings and make it a standing meeting. "10 AM, at the Main Street Cafe, every other Tuesday" works so much better than a weekly chain of indecisive emails trying to narrow down a time and place that works for both parties. If something unavoidable comes up and the meeting has to be rescheduled that's fine, but try not to make a habit of rescheduling. Put it on the calendar and make it one less thing to think about.

Use a Buddy System Notebook

How many of us have a zillion lists, post-its, notebooks, and planners in use all at once at any given time? Assign one specific notebook or binder as your "Buddy System Binder" only. If you prefer to be all digital, make a notebook on Evernote titled "Buddy System" and use it every time. Keep notes from your meetings in here along with lists, goals, and topics you want to discuss. Having a special place for meeting-specific items makes it easier to find what you need when it's time to get down to business.

Plan Ahead

Use your Buddy System Notebook to make a list ahead of time of topics you'd like to cover at the next meeting. Add to your topics list in your notebook as ideas arise between meetings. This gives the meeting some structure and ensures that the meeting is productive. Without a list of topics, it is easy to get off-track, forget what you wanted to discuss, and then leave feeling even more lost than you began.

Set and Share Goals

This is the heart and soul of accountability meetings! At the end of each meeting list 3-5 goals in your notebook that you want to accomplish by the next time you meet. Make them specific ("I will write 3 new blog posts", as opposed to simply, "blog more") as well as attainable. Share them with one another and write the other person's goals in your notebook as well so that you can hold them accountable (it's a two-way street!).

Check In and Motivate

Make it a point to check-in with one another between meetings to remind each other to keep moving forward. This doesn't have to be formal or labor-intensive. It also doesn't have to be aggressive and is not intended to make the other person feel guilty. Just send a quick text saying, "How's that blog post coming?", or email each other as you check things off your list. Our competitive nature kicks in when we hear our partner say, "Three goals down, one to go!" and motivates us to follow suit.

Establish Rewards and Consequences

My buddy and I have a standing deal with regard to our goals: Whoever doesn't complete the goals on their to-do list is in charge of paying for coffee at our next meeting. If we both accomplish everything on our list, then we pay for ourselves. You can also try this clever trick of donating to an organization that you hate if you don't reach your goal.

You might also want to add a reward to the mix. For example, every week that you accomplish everything on your to-do list you add $5 to a jar to save up for a massage or treat yourself to a fancy new office product. Risks and rewards keep things interesting!

Find What Works

There is no set meeting structure that works for everyone. While my buddy and I meet at the same time and place every other week, perhaps that set-up wouldn't work for you. Maybe coffee shops aren't your style and you'd prefer to alternate meeting at each other's houses and trade off cooking dinner for the two of you. Perhaps your buddy is long-distance and you like to meet on Skype. Or, maybe you've found that meeting in a small group of five is more enjoyable than one-on-one.

You may start off meeting every week and then find that you are just too busy to fit it all in. In that case, you may want to taper off to biweekly or monthly meetings. Or, maybe over time you find that your personalities just aren't meshing anymore and you dread the meetings more than you look forward to them and decide to call it quits. All of these things are okay!

Accountability meetings can be extremely beneficial for your business and morale as long as you continue to be productive and enjoy them. As soon as they become a burden or are hindering more than helping your business, it's time to change things up or move on. Finding what works for you can take time, but once you find the right system, it's amazing how far a little teamwork can take you.

Why You Need an Accountability Buddy- And How to Find the Right Fit

It’s Accountability Week here at One Woman Shop. Follow along with all of our posts about accountabilityemail us your questions and tips, and give #AccountabilityWeek some Twitter love!

We've all been there. Armed with a to-do list a mile long and a pocket full of good intentions, you are determined to get it all done this week. You promise yourself that your project will be completed by Tuesday… Wednesday…or the weekend. Yet, as Sunday comes to a close and your project is no closer to being finished, you chalk it up to a loss and add it to next week's list. Lather, rinse, repeat.

You've tried bribing yourself with rewards: "As soon as I get this done, I'll take a break and grab a latte."

You've tried restrictions: "Okay, absolutely NO Facebook until this is complete!"

You've even tried the overzealous buckle-down method: "Tomorrow I'm going to be super productive and check all 20 things off my list!" Still no real progress.

The problem with this sort of system is that you are only accountable to yourself. In a traditional workplace there are supervisors, bosses, and co-workers to answer to. If you drop the ball, others are affected. As a one-woman shop owner, however, the responsibility falls solely on you and the consequences are usually yours alone to deal with.

In addition, not only are you missing the direction and ultimatums that come with having a boss, but you are also lacking the encouragement and support from colleagues that can be found in a traditional workplace.

What you need is a buddy! Setting up your own Buddy System doesn't have to be intimidating or tricky.

This sounds obvious, but finding someone you actually like and want to meet up with is essential. Remember: it doesn't have to be strictly business. While the cornerstone of the accountability meeting is goal-setting and business talk, it is important to allow yourself to get off-topic sometimes and chat about life, catch up on gossip, or just be silly with each other.

Of course we love working for ourselves, but at times it can be lonely. Part of the advantage of having a buddy is to simply get out of the house, enjoy the company of someone other than your cat, and decompress. As long as the majority of your meeting time is focused and structured, it's totally fine to relax and vent about other things.

The key to a great partnership is finding someone whose business has enough in common with yours to offer value without being so alike that it becomes competitive. For example, my buddy and I are both creative businesses owners. I am an illustrator and she is a photographer. We relate to each other well in that regard and we're able to share things that would be valuable to both of us like marketing opportunities, informative blog posts, and upcoming creative events. If we were both wedding photographers, however, we may find ourselves holding back information out of fear that the other person would out-do us or steal away potential clients. The point of this type of relationship is to share and support one another, not steal trade secrets and compete.

Other considerations from One Woman Shop:

    • Does this person thrive in areas where you don't and vice versa?
    • Does this person utilize and like the same forms of communication as you? For example, some people prefer email over the phone or the phone over Skype.
    • Along the same lines, is this person responsive? There's nothing worse than an accountability buddy who drops off the face of the planet!
    • Can this person be honest and straightforward without being overly harsh? On the flip side, can they accept feedback without getting defensive?

Stay tuned this week for more wisdom from Megan on setting up a great accountability system and advice on how to actually go about finding a buddy!

4 Ways to Stay Accountable to Yourself

It's Accountability Week here at One Woman Shop. Follow along with all of our posts about accountabilityemail us your questions and tips, and give #AccountabilityWeek some Twitter love!

Get honest: All of the tips, tricks, and strategies in the world won't motivate you to stay on track with your business if you're aiming for the wrong (for you) thing, chasing every shiny object, or not following your gut. So first, get honest about your business goals and the steps you need to take to get there. For example, if your goal is to build your audience, then social media might be a very real part of that- but mindlessly skimming your Twitter homefeed is probably not. Likewise, doing unimportant things well doesn't make them important.

Do a daily business check-in: This can be as informal as a question that you ask yourself at the end of each work day or as formal as a written daily business check-in worksheet (like ours!). Ask yourself questions like: "Did I generate income today?" "Did I put myself in front of new clients or customers?" "Did I drop the ball on anything?" "Any big wins?" If you do a written check-in, you can review your answers every week or month to see what's working and what's not (a good bonus!).

Set up a system of rewards and punishments: One punishment we think is genius is forcing yourself to donate to an organization you despise if you don't reach your goals (tweet this idea). It provides a lot more incentive than the possibility of donating to a charity you support, right? Whatever you decide, be honest with yourself- maybe a walk outside doesn't actually incentivize you to work hard, but a walk to Starbucks does (of course, we're always motivated by the smell of coffee- so Pavlovian).

Revamp: If you've fallen short, ask yourself why. Were your goals, rewards, or punishments out of whack? Sometimes we procrastinate on things that we know deep down that we shouldn't be doing- could that be why you didn't reach your goal? If things are chugging along fine but could be better, don't hesitate to adjust, tweak, and revamp your system of accountability over time. Remember when we said we were fans of adapting our practices to make them better? This is a perfect place to do just that. Your rewards might lose their novelty, your punishments may not seem so bad (especially if it means you get to waste away your day on the couch!), and your goals might change, so adjust accordingly (tweet this idea).

Another huge step toward accountability? Finding someone who will help hold you accountable- stay tuned for more on that!

How do you hold yourself accountable?

My Favorite Feedback

If you're anything like us, one negative piece of feedback can erase a hundred great compliments- we hate that it's true! But, instead of focusing on the negative, we encouraged members of our community to focus on the awesomely meaningful things that their clients, customers, or readers say to them on a regular basis- those one or two sentences that makes them jump for joy and makes the insanity of the One Woman Shop lifestyle all seem worth it.

We asked "What is the best thing that you routinely hear from clients, customers, or readers?" and members of our community responded. Here's what they said (be sure to jump over to their sites to read the rest of their responses):

"My favorite thing about being a life coach is hearing feedback from my clients and knowing that our work has changed their lives. The best moments are when we even have real, visible results to show for the work we’ve done together."

-Ashley Wilhite of Your Super Awesome Life

As a photographer, I get a lot of feedback. But my favorite thing I hear from clients is…You totally captured us."

-Shelby Clarke of Clarke Studio

The answer to this question is simple- the greatest thing to hear from clients is 'I LOVE it!' But not just any old, 'I love it.' It’s when you can really hear how excited they are."

-Emma Bauso of The Little Print Shop

Here is a response that I received that meant a lot to me: “So sorry to hear we are going to lose you. Honestly, you are right at the top of writers we have had over 24 years, so if ever I can help on references, please know it will be a really good one. Not only has your work been very good, but your work ethic has matched in terms of following direction, being very organized and always on time. I have appreciated all of this so very, very much.”

-Jennifer of Live Simply, Live Thrifty, Live Savvy

There are a few things that I absolutely love hearing from clients, audience members, productivity seminar participants, readers, and coaching clients: “You are glamorous and tremendous,” “I couldn’t live without you,” and “Are you an angel? ‘Cause I’m in heaven.”

Okay, joking aside, there really is one thing that I LOVE hearing: “Wow, I never thought about it like that” or (same sentiment): “I never would have thought of that.” Those words light me up! Nothing feels better than knowing you’re part of an epiphany for a client.

-Cristina of CMR Strategies (& One Woman Shop!)

Over the past 12 years of online business ownership, I’ve been the proud recipient of lots and lots of happy feedback emails. I save and cherish each and every grateful note, testimonial and piece of feedback that I get. Just the other day I was blessed with a most wonderful testament from a client I had just finished working with. Her note and sentiment is forever a reminder of why it’s so important to do your best work always: "No words can express my gratitude for all you’ve done in making this a success for me. I tell every business owner who’s trying to get their web business going, to contact you. I am indebted to you."

-Melissa Bolton of The Mogul Mom

So we all love good client feedback. “Oh this is exactly what I wanted!” “You hit the nail right on the mark with this. Great job!” “I’m excited to begin, thanks so much for helping me out.” Et cetera…et cetera. I do love it when clients of mine are genuinely satisfied with the outcome they receive whether it be through a website, photography, graphic design, or consulting session. BUT the trick about client feedback is to appreciate the negative feedback. This allows you as a freelancer to keep your competitive edge and stay motivated to learn more!

-Melissa Alam of Ring the Alam

Did these stories brighten your day? Share them on Twitter! Did they inspire you to keep track of the positive feedback you get from clients or customers? Email us your best stories and we may share them on the site!

It’s Accountability Week!

We are thrilled to announce our first ever theme week here at One Woman Shop- Accountability Week! Each day this week, you'll see a post or resources for helping you stay accountable in your business and life, whether on your own or with a partner (spoiler alert: we want to help you find one).

accountability week

Excited? Help us spread the word!

We would love your accountability questions and tips- we may even include them in our posts throughout the week! Comment below or email us!

Motivation Monday: Find Your Ideal Work Day

Join us every Monday morning for Motivation Monday, where we share a helpful “homework” assignment that gives your business a creative boost and gets you thinking (and moving) outside the box each week.

Work days not panning out exactly how you'd like them or feel like you're just racing through the day without purpose or direction? Take time this morning to sketch out what an ideal day would look like for you.

Things to consider:

    • What are all of the workday components that are important to you?
    • When you engage in marketing, like managing your social media and sending out PR pitches to get you and your business publicity?
    • Will you take time to participate in communities like One Woman Shop?
    • Will you handle things like blog posts day-by-day or in chunks?
    • Is involving yourself in your local community through activism or volunteerism important to you?
    • Will you divide your days by "communication days" and "execution days"?

We love this My Ideal Work Day printable from Lazy Owl Boutique- normally, we're 99% digital, but this is one area where we benefit from using a pen and paper. Jump over to the site to download it- consider printing multiple copies if you like your days varied- and get to work scribbling your ideal work day- morning reading time? Mid-afternoon yoga session? A late afternoon Candy Crush session? An evening spent watching Friends? Whatever it may be, make it yours.

Motivation Monday Roundup

If you've been following One Woman Shop awhile, you'll know that Motivation Monday is one of our weekly columns- and it's one of our favorites! Every Monday morning, we give you a creative idea for thinking outside the box, getting your creative juices flowing, and jump-starting your week with a bang.

We'd wager a bet that you probably haven't implemented every single last one of our ideas (and if you have, we want to hear from you!). So today, instead of giving you a new idea, we're encouraging you to revisit the old ones and get crackin' on them.

  • Come up with 10 alternate ways of describing your business- this can help you reach new clients or customers and increase your SEO!
  • Start keeping a Do Less List- a simple way of tracking those little distracting things you do throughout the day, like checking your site stats or checking your email over and over, so that you can cut down on them
  • Create a Board of Directors for your business that you can rely on to help you establish new connections, provide feedback to you, and keep you in check
  • Go to your local library or bookstore, make a stack of book covers that inspire you, and use them to guide your business or personal branding
  • Update your bio so that it actually showcases your personality, expertise, and offerings (and we tell you the three versions of your bio that you should have on hand at all times)
  • Create a Rainy Day File- a compilation of nice things that your colleagues, clients, and customers say about you that you can refer to on rough work days
  • Get outside your business area by watching, listening to, and reading resources that are just outside your industry

P.S. Worked your way through all of the Motivation Monday ideas and still searching for things to do? Skim our list of things to do when there's nothing to do.