I like to do things. I like to be busy. I like to say yes.
And sometimes that inclination causes some problems… too many irons in the fire, and all that.
One of things I’m really working on this year (with some success) is to get in the habit of pushing things across the finish line.
This isn’t a problem for me when it comes to client work — I’m pretty good about hitting my deadlines when I have someone expecting me to do so. Instead, where I struggle is with hitting my own deadlines. (I’m a very forgiving boss, it turns out.)
The reason I have a hard time hitting my own deadlines is because every time I start to make real progress on one project, I either a) start worrying about another project that’s not getting my attention, or b) start adding new projects to my list.
So, for instance, I’ll get a bunch of work done for my website, but before I publish it to said website, I get the itch to make progress on my book or to finish a course or to start a new client outreach program, or what have you.
All good things. But all partially done and none of them finished.
If you suffer from a similar desire to do a lot of things at once, here is what I’m learning this year that’s been helpful… at least a little bit.
Building Takes Time
This is obvious, sure. But we live in an age where instant gratification is readily available through social media, streaming services, and cheap overnight shipping. It’s easy to lose track of the fact that building something worthwhile takes time. And it takes commitment — daily or weekly — over a longer term.
When I remind myself that I’m building something valuable, it’s easier for me to slow down, stay focused, and put in the time to achieve the next step.
You Have to Make Choices
Again, obvious. But it can feel like you need to do everything — especially as a digital copywriter, when there are so many possibilities.
Recognize you don’t need to do everything. That you’ll see success sooner if you pick two or three things to focus on until you’ve launched or mastered them. And then, once you have a good handle on two or three things, you can layer on another if you have the time and inclination.
You don’t need to be all things to all people, which means you don’t have to master every skill or jump at every opportunity along the way.
In smaller picture terms, making choices means limiting what you try to accomplish during a day… and then doing a really good job on the things you decide to put your time into.
Finish Your Milestones
If you’re anything like me, there are things you want to do, that you simply don’t want to let go of. In that case, start by deciding on two or three things you’ll finish before tackling the others. Then identify the next significant milestone for each of the current projects. Move them forward one milestone at a time, each in turn.
But there’s a catch to this. Make sure the milestones are meaningful and can start to yield results. For a new LinkedIn strategy, a meaningful milestone is crafting and posting your profile. Simply crafting it isn’t enough. For a new outreach project, a meaningful milestone is contacting your first 10 prospects — simply writing and polishing your email templates isn’t enough.
When you determine a milestone, make sure there’s a public aspect to it. Put your work out there so you can begin seeing the rewards from it.
Are there exceptions? Sure. When writing a novel, I set 10,000 words as a meaningful milestone. If I’m redecorating a room, my public sharing of milestones is likely just to be with my spouse.
Finally, when you finish one milestone, before you switch gears and start tackling a milestone for something else, make some notes about what comes next so you can dive right into that project when you come back to it.
Limiting the number of projects I do at a time, taking my time to build them well, and setting, completing, and celebrating milestones are helping me achieve more of what I want to get done, and these steps might help you, too.
Reality Blog Challenge
There are just under two weeks left for you to enter our Reality Blog Challenge. (Deadline for entries is September 30.)
This is your opportunity to become a regular contributor to the Digital Copywriter community while taking your writing business to its next level.
See how you can enter this exciting Challenge here.
In Case You Missed It…
Last week, Russ Henneberry joined me for a lively interview about SEO, content creation, and how to make it easier to land clients. If you couldn’t join us live, I highly recommend you give the interview a listen. The recording is available here.
When writing emails, one of the most important elements is your call-to-action (CTA). All too often writers — including me — use wording in the CTA that creates friction for the reader… and lowers the response rate to your message. In her latest Email Marketing column, Michele Peterson looks at commonly used words that create friction, and better options for you to use instead.
Sending personalized pitches to potential clients is effective. But it’s also a lot of work. Suzanna Fitzgerald is looking at scaling her pitching efforts using a central pitching hub, and she shares how this approach works in her latest Reality Blog. If you’ve been wondering how to make your pitching process more effective, this might be just what you need.
Coming Up on Digital Copywriter
We just opened the doors to our latest Practice Assignment. This is an opportunity to hone your skills, improve your knowledge of a specific project type, and maybe even get a professional review of your work in a live webinar (coming up in October). This quarter’s Practice Assignment is focused on writing a website homepage. You can find the details here.
Be sure to keep a look out for our next Web Writing & SEO column, going live today. Andrew Murray will be sharing some powerful tips for helping your new website get faster search engine rankings.
And then next Monday, keep an eye out for our next Social Media column where Maggie Peterson will dig into social media success metrics — what they are, how to calculate them, and how to interpret the results.
3 Things You Might Enjoy…
As a freelance digital copywriter, it’s easy to get caught up in the mindset that you can have it all. And sometimes you can… but when all the stars aren’t aligning, this bit of advice from Cole Schafer at Honey Copy might help.
With smaller mobile screens, is above-the-fold copy an antiquated idea or is it still relevant? The answer is above-the-fold still matters, but how you approach it needs to reflect how people currently use the internet. More on the topic from The Good.
Much of my UX knowledge comes from studying good UX design and design principles and thinking through how they apply to the copy I write and how that copy integrates with the design of a website. And one way I do that is to read UX books, like these recommended reads from UX Planet.
That’s all for now. Enjoy your weekend!