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How to Stop Hitting That Brick Wall with Your Business Progress

So, you started the process of launching your business with such passion and motivation, and then all of a sudden your progress has come to a plateau. You seem to have hit a brick wall recently and you’re unsure how to gain the momentum back. You’re not sure whether you are losing focus when working from home or you are simply overwhelmed with your workload at the moment. Whatever has caused your halt in the road needs to be rectified as soon as possible because you want to make a success out of your business right now. Check out these ideas and see if they help you to get back on track!

Accept Help with Advertising

You could be approaching a dead end with your advertising strategies. Are you wasting money on campaigns that are never going to attract leads? Put your mind at ease as look into local advertising firm vistacomm. With their help, you can truly find advertising strategies that are going to be worth your time and money. You could be focusing on the wrong platforms or using incorrect techniques for your audience demographic; whatever the flaw in your system is, you will soon be able to straighten it out with the help of a professional agency.

Hire More Helping Hands

Are you becoming overburdened with work right now? Do you run out of time when trying to complete your daily tasks? You might benefit from hiring a handful of employees to lighten your load. This could help to bring some fresh eyes to a project and build up the momentum of your business strategy again. You might think you can get all of your tasks done on your own, but you can actually become counterproductive if you overwork yourself on a regular basis. Open up a job vacancy and hold interviews for your prospective candidates. You might find it a huge relief bring someone else into the team.

Rejig Your Business Plan

Your business plan holds the keys to all of your methods and strategies so you might want to rethink it sooner rather than later. Sitting down and tweaking your original plan might just set you off on the right track again. You might discover a flaw that wasn’t noticeable before or you could have a light bulb moment that completely transforms your business idea again. Open up your mind and don’t be afraid to admit that you might have made a mistake in the past; there is always time to rectify it now.

Scope out Your Competition

There are many ways that you can deal with competitors; the market has likely changed a lot since you started out so it’s worth re-evaluating everything. Take a close look at who your direct competition is and try to discover what their successful strategies are. Attempting to emulate some of their plans might just give you the boost you need to take a lead.

You can get back on the right track with your business’s growth and development if you just rethink your advertising strategies, recruit some help and take another look at your business plan. Use these ideas as a launching point to get started!

Simple Ways To Refresh Your Brand

When it comes to updating your business to fit with the times and to fit with your taste, you might think that you need to completely overhaul your branding and start again. However, a complete rebranding effort can be a big task and you will always run the risk of losing followers due to them not realizing recognizing or resonating with your new brand. If you feel as if you need some fun and life injected back into your business, here are a few simple ways to refresh your brand.

Makeover your website

The easiest and one of the most effective ways of adding a bit of panache to your brand is to take some time to redo your website and make it a better place to visit. For example you can completely redesign the theme for better navigation, play with the colors and even add a blog section to create content which will pull even more people into your brand and to your website.

Create a new logo

Logos are a huge part of a successful business and they are like a little nugget of information which seems to get stuck in everyone’s heads as soon as they see it. This is why companies with the big M and that infamous swirl C design  can be pictured by people all over the world with a simple thought. You can make a big impression with a good logo and therefore it is always worth trying out new things and seeing if you can make it iconic. You can look at https://www.tailorbrands.com/logo-maker to make your own logo and stand out from the crowd. Though keep in mind, there is immense value in working with an experienced and professional public relations firm and graphic designer to determine the look and feel of your new brand. Not every job is best tackled as a DIY!

Create a fun branding event

When it comes to either rebranding or refreshing your brand, there are differences. You can read here https://www.templafy.com/blog/rebranding-vs-brand-refresh/ and see what it takes to rebrand entirely rather than refreshing which is much easier and carries less risk. For a branding event, you can create a giveaway on social media and invite people to share to enter. You could hold a competitor for designing your next logo or simply just post a few “teaser” messages to let your followers know you are about to update a few things. All of these things will get them involved in your refresh and it will make it much less risky for you to change because your followers will already know you are going to.

Get influencers to sell you

Influencers such as bloggers and celebrities are the perfect tool to use for your marketing, especially if you are looking to rebrand and change things up. If you are looking to change a logo, it can be easier to keep your following by asking an influencer to review something of yours. Make sure the product has the new logo on it and this will be seen by many and they will likely come to find out more about you and your business. It can be just the boost you need to set you up for rebranding success!

Giving Your Business The Edge: Simple Strategies To Outshine Your Competition

In business, you’re always in a race. It doesn’t matter whether you own a clothing store, an ecommerce empire, a medical clinic or an accounting firm. You’ll always encounter competitors. The key to success lies in being able to win the race, but how do you do this? If you’re looking to outshine the competition, here are some simple strategies to employ.

Customer service

There are few things more crucial in business than customer service. We’re all familiar with adages like ‘the customer is always right,’ but do you and your employees live by this rule? Outstanding customer service will not only increase the chances of clients returning and recommending you to friends and family, but it will also help you distinguish your brand from rival businesses. Focus on putting your clients first, go the extra mile to make sure every customer is happy and offer a personal touch. Every customer wants to feel valued. If they don’t, there’s every chance they’ll look elsewhere. One of the best ways to improve customer service is to ask for reviews and feedback. Take comments on board, listen to opinions, and work on bringing those review scores up. Listening is an essential skill in modern business.

Technology and equipment

Most businesses in this day and age are reliant on technology and equipment. When buying machinery, instruments or gadgets, look for quality, and focus your search on investments that will save you time, money and effort, and separate you from the crowd. Keeping up with new inventions and systems may enable you to produce better products or offer a wider range of services, for example. Whether you’re looking for new computer programs, medical supplies from sites like www.kempermedical.com or catering equipment, it’s vital to buy high-quality items that will improve the way you work. Buying is an excellent option for items you plan to use on a regular basis, while renting may be more appealing for equipment required for one-off projects. Keep an eye on emerging trends and an ear to the ground so that you’re familiar with innovations that may benefit your business.

Marketing

Marketing isn’t just about getting your brand name out there. It’s also about convincing buyers that your business represents the best choice for them. Your marketing strategy should highlight your USP, and provide answers to the question, “Why should I buy from you?” Tailor your strategy to the target market, make the message clear, and shout about your USP from the rooftops. You want everyone to know how you are different to your competitors. If you’ve got a campaign up and running, monitor its efficiency using analytics and market research. If the results aren’t as positive as you hoped or anticipated, consider making adjustments to extend your reach and make your campaign more persuasive. For more useful information about revamping an existing strategy, take a look at this article https://www.forbes.com/sites/forbesagencycouncil/2018/03/15/15-tips-for-creating-marketing-content-the-resonates-with-customers/.

In business, you’re always going to be competing against other companies, and you need to make sure you give yourself the best chance of winning. If you’re keen to leave your rivals in your wake, hopefully, this guide has given you inspiration and ideas.

Working Tips For Home Freelancers

The freelancing working environment is a strange one. This is because your environment remains static, but the working relationships and responsibilities you may foster online or through other commissions can be varied from day to day. Not everyone is cut out to work freelance, but not every freelancer is cut out to work a normal job in their field. Often, people dip in and out to freelancing, not always using it as a sole source of income but as a means to develop their best income stream.

No matter your reasons, your competency, the people you work with and the skills you offer to commission, considering these working tips can have a large impact on your overall comfort, happiness and effectiveness in this role. The early days of freelancing can be hard and worrisome, but over time you may find comfort developing your self-reliance:

Pay Proof

Working freelancers expect the flow of their income to vary frequently. It’s smart to use a working generating unit that needs each job completion to be verified, and uses services like PayPal to try and secure the potential for disputes from either sides. Some commissions come in independently, and may pay you half to begin with and half upon completion. You may be lucky enough to work with some form of a more systematized content production house, allowing you to subcontract solely for them and adhere to their payment standards, which are often more official and uniform. No matter how you access your form of funding, keeping track of everything can be greatly simplified if you create pay stubs using an official service to track your income. This can help you gain physical proof, and if verified by the payment provider, can help you effectively validate that document for use in tax and archiving purposes.

Communication & Reach

It’s important to always be available as a freelancer if you are offering your services on the internet. A valid email you can reach from multiple devices, an instant messaging offering like Hangouts or Skype, and even potentially a mobile phone or landline number for regular and respected clients you’ve built a cordial relationship with can be important. Staying available does not mean responding right away. Setting your own hours is an important task, so never feel obligated to respond at all hours of the night because a nasty precedent can be set from that point on! The main lesson is to open many forms of commission requests, to standardize that format in a manner you feel appropriate, and to monitor this first contact for potential income and collaborative customer care day after day.

Testimonials & Portfolios

Build a portfolio. You can use this to show examples of your work, be that artistic, content writing, or anything else you offer. Open a website to show this, and ask for testimonials from your most valued clients in exchange for a discount. These two options can help you secure more business, and help you achieve the art of staying reachable and discoverable.

With these simple tips, you’re sure to develop your working capacities in the best manner possible!

Time Saving Hacks For Small Businesses

Small businesses have a huge challenge when they begin from someone’s sofa or a spare room at the back of the house. There are amazing people all over the world who start up businesses every year and make their dreams come true. However, running a successful business can be incredibly stressful. There are so many activities and jobs which need to be performed that it can take a lot of time to get into the flow of running a solo venture, and running it well. Here are some things you can think about doing this year to help make the process of running your day to day operations easier.

Use a phone answering service

Phone answering services are a huge benefit to anyone who is taking their first steps in the business world, and it can be a wonderful thing for people to have to make their days more productive. Receiving phone calls every day can disrupt the way you work and this can have an impact on the time it takes you to get your work done. However with Receivr call answering service, you can save time and let other people handle your phones for you!

Schedule social media posts

Marketing and social media is a huge part of running a business, and when you are starting up a small venture it is incredibly important to make a name for yourself online. Marketing can take up a lot of time during the working week and social media in particular is one which can take a huge chunk of time out of your day. Because of this, being able to schedule social media posts in advance is a lot easier and will save you time and worry during the week as you try to stay consistent with your online presence. There are apps, such as buffer, which can make this easier and make sure that you are able to stay on top of things.

Plan projects with handy apps

Apps are a godsend when it comes to managing a small business because when you have little money and not a huge amount of time, free software can make your working life much more efficient. You can think about looking on your App Store for as many free tools as you can for different processes in your empire. There are apps for project management, finance, marketing and much more. You can save so much time and energy on your work with amazing technology, which in turn will save your business.

Use free tools for finance

Quickbooks and tools similar to this can be essential for running a successful small business in its fledgling years, and you can really set the tone for your business, as well as grow and expand, with the help of tools such as these. Planning budgets for your personal life can be hard enough, let alone a business, so make sure to use tools to allow for easier management for all of the processes within your venture.

What other tools and tips have you used to grow your business and save time? Share your insights by leaving a comment below!

5 Things My Clients Have Taught Me About Public Relations

5 Things My Clients Have Taught Me About Public Relations

Throughout my career as a public relations consultant, sure I’ve taught my clients a lot. But what’s been most surprising is how much they’ve taught me in return! Working in a wide range of industries has afforded me the ability to track some powerful trends and spot inconsistencies that require us to rethink strategies.

It should be obvious, yet all too often it’s overlooked at larger firms, that every single organization must have its own unique public relations strategy if they want to see the best return on their investment. Even for businesses in the very same industry, no two strategies should be identical. It simply doesn’t work!

So what are the most valuable PR lessons my clients have taught me along the way? Here are the top PR “best practices” I have learned, not from a textbook, classroom or industry group, but from my clients!

  1. Public Relations is a lot more than writing.

When earning my Public Relations degree it felt like the vast majority of what I was doing was creating content in some form or another – pitches, press release, op-eds, video scripts, media talking points, website content, social media content – and the list goes on infinitely!

However, now as a PR consultant in “the real world” I see that content is only the starting point. My clients have taught me that the real value I bring to the table is what I do with the content I create for them. Never should this fall on their shoulders! Rather, I take the lead with our dissemination strategy, never giving up until we get the full attention the content deserves.

  1. You don’t know what you don’t know.

My clients have also taught me that I cannot be (nor should I desire to be) a one-man-band of solutions. Rather, I’ve learned to rely on my network of fellow contractors and consultant who serve in a variety of fields and specialties. These counterparts lend advice and expertise to the unique challenges my clients face from time to time. Whether that’s monitoring new SEO trends, understanding advertising best practices or learning how to save some money on the way we design and print a marketing piece, having a network of trusted professionals is what allows me to see my own blind spots. After all, we don’t know what we don’t know!

  1. There is no template or formula that works for everyone.

I love the vast variety of industries my clients expose me to. It’s challenging yet rewarding to be able to develop a mini expertise in so many different categories.  What this has taught me, more than anything else, is that there will never be a one-size-fits-all solution when it comes to creating a public relations strategy. Everything I do must be custom built. Sure, some similar tactics may carry over, but they will be heavily tailored so that no two email blasts, no two direct mail pieces and no two press releases will ever be the same.

Even the same event for the same client, year-after-year will continue to morph until it’s almost unrecognizable from its first year. That’s a good thing! Through this, my clients teach me that there are no shortcuts, no templates and no magic formula. The value of what I provide is complete customization in everything I do.

  1. Complacency will kill your business.

I love when clients come to me with new ideas for how they can revamp their communications efforts! It shows they value the power of communications and also that they’re keeping their eyes and ears open to new trends. What they’re also teaching me is that complacency is a business’s worst enemy. I learn from example. This same passion and drive for trying new things is what inspires me to also try new things! It’s the kick in the butt I need to always strive to take my offering of services to the next level, to forge power partnerships and to restructure business relationships so that everyone benefits.

  1. Persistence is key.

Finally and most importantly, I’ve learned that in order to see the greatest return on your investment when it comes to public relations strategy, you have to remain persistent and consistent with your efforts. We live in a society where instant results and instant gratification are expected. However, communication takes time! It also takes many touch points with your target audience for them to really start to pay attention to what you’re saying.

Through having many of my clients serve as examples, I’ve been reminded time and time again that investing in forming real, meaningful relationships with your target audience always yields the great return – and this simply takes persistence!

In your own industry, have you found that your clients or customers have actually helped you to learn things you didn’t know before? Share your story by leaving a comment below!

5 Ways Your Website Could Be Damaging Your Credibility

There’s nothing more liberating than starting up your very own business. To cast aside wage slavery and a corporate pay structure that’s actively working against you to insulate its own bottom line. To shake of the shackles of a job and a career that were not only letting your talents go to waste, they were slowly sapping your will to live. When you secure the funding to build up your own business from scratch and transform your idea into a reality, it can seem as though anything is possible. But the reality is that your business is just one of legions of similar enterprises, all vying for the attention of the same customers. And these customers know that in a buyer’s market they can afford to be fickle, no matter how hard you may try and earn their loyalty.

Thus, the savvy entrepreneur knows that in order to draw custom towards their business and away from their competitors that their reputation must be absolutely beyond reproach. Of course there’s a lot that goes into your business’s reputation. Every customer interaction in the real world and on social media, every telephone query, the quality of your products and service and even the design concept of your logo can influence your reputation. Here, however, we’re going to look exclusively at your website. Your website is, for many businesses, the first and last chance they will get to make an impression on potential leads. If your website does not reflect the values or quality of your brand, it can seriously undermine your credibility. And credibility is extremely important. Credibility determines whether or not prospective customers can trust you, and it’s vital that your website earns it.

What a bad website can do to your business

We’re long past the days when merely having a website was considered a boon for your business. While an online presence is somewhat taken for granted, whether your business uses eCommerce or not, a bad website can make an impression in the worst possible way. It can;

  • Create a poor or misleading first impression
  • Provide inaccurate or outdated information
  • Scare away leads and reduce conversion rates
  • Undermine trust in your brand
  • Send customers running into the arms of your competitors.

So, what could your website be doing to undermine your brand and damage your credibility? Well, if you haven’t given much care to the building of your website, it can actually be damaging your credibility if it has…

Outdated or amateurish design

Like the world of fashion, web design is subject to trends which come and go in accordance with technological changes and the cultural biases of users. As such, while your website may look just fine to your eyes, savvier users may find your web design to be outdated or lacking the professional veneer offered by others. In an age where most people now consume online content and make eCommerce purchases through mobile devices, the most egregious sin you can make is failing to ensure that your site design is responsive so that it looks great on a screen of any size. Moreover, a WordPress site that’s built using a ready-made theme can make your website look cheap, amateurish or homogeneous to the more practiced eye, no matter how great it looks to you. Look at the online presence of businesses you admire and work collaboratively with a talented web designer (here are some tips for finding one that’s right for you) to build a website that looks beautiful and professional while explicitly tailored to your brand.

Bad UX

Even a website that looks beautiful can undermine your credibility by providing a bad experience for the user. User Experience or UX is an important discipline which nascent brands can tend to overlook. A gorgeous looking website that’s hard to navigate or takes forever to load (keep in mind that a page load of just 7 seconds can increase your bounce rate by over 30%) can potentially be more damaging than a website that looks passable yet is a joy to navigate.

Poor quality content

Most new entrepreneurs understand the value of content marketing but fall victim to an overly simplistic mode of thinking. They know that content is king and that posting fresh content on a regular (ideally daily) basis is the key to getting an edge over the competition in terms of Search Engine Optimization (SEO). However, this is not to say that quantity trumps quality. In fact, it’s the opposite of the case. Outsourcing your content to poor quality, low cost click farms overseas might seem like a cost effective solution, but the increased likelihood of poorly written, grammatically incorrect or (worse still) factually inaccurate copy will seriously damage your credibility and authority in the eyes of users.

Moreover, it might not even give you the SEO boost you were expecting. While search engines don’t share the minutiae of what affects rankings, it’s widely believed that measures of genuine engagement like scroll depth and time on page are of value to search engines. If users click off your content in seconds, it could do more harm than good to your SEO.

Your images

A picture is worth a thousand words. But if you’re personally responsible for all of the images that go into your content, it behoves you to brush up on your photography skills. We human beings are visual creatures and rightly or wrongly we make value judgments based on appearance all the time. Either outsource your images to a talented photographer or take the time to improve your skills in image capture and post production photo editing. Cheesy stock images are not recommended as they can cheapen your brand and make your content look like that of an amateur blogger.  

Outbound links

Finally, while link building is an important part of SEO, it’s important to remember that not all links are created equal. Some links can actually harm your search engine rankings and leave you with less than reputable and credible associations. This is why you should never link to an outbound source or site without first doing your homework and ensuring that your brand is in good company with theirs and establishing that they are both reputable and credible.

Remember that you only have a few seconds to make a very important first impression. All of these factors go into making that impression count.

5 Tips for Taking Control of Your Monday Routine

you got this

Mondays have such a bad reputation! I wish I could say it was completely unfounded, yet I too found myself fatigued and overwhelmed by the start of the new work week. That was until I noticed that by making a small series of changes to my workday, particularly my Mondays, I was able to regain control of my time and workflow and break through the mental barrier of Monday’s insurmountable task list.

Take a look at my five tried and true tips for taking control of your Monday routine so that you can dominate – not dread the start of your work week. Here they are!

  1. Wake Up Early

This doesn’t sound fun and frankly it’s not, at least for the first several times you try it as part of your new routine. So often we allow ourselves to come off the weekend feeling groggy and unfocused. Monday morning hits hard and it’s tempting to want to hit snooze up until the last minute. All this does is start you on a crazy cycle – a cycle where you’re waking up already feeling behind, and not really any more rested than if you hadn’t slept that extra hour.

My first tip is to commit to waking up one hour earlier than you normally do on Monday (and eventually every work day). The reason is that starting your day one hour earlier will help you stay ahead of your task list the rest of the day, and also better react to those unexpected and emergency tasks that might pile onto your schedule. In one hour you can take care of a ton of “little” tasks that can weigh on your mind. You’ll then be able to dig into your bigger tasks with a clear focus and less stress.

  1. Take Care of the Easy/Little Tasks

Inevitably there will be a list of little tasks and emails that have piled up over the weekend. Start your day by getting these off your plate. Answer the emails that only take a minute or two to address. Knock off those tasks that require less than 10 minutes of your time. Check your voice mail and respond to phone calls. This may take an hour or two of your morning, but you’ll feel like you’ve accomplished so much. This encouragement will fuel you to carry on with other, bigger tasks.

  1. Prioritize Your Big Tasks

Speaking of the “big” tasks that are on your to-do list, it’s so important to be realistic about what you can accomplish in one day, especially on Monday. You simply can’t do it all, nor should you have to. Instead focus on the most urgent and important tasks, particularly ones that help move other tasks forward for you. Even if this is just one thing, or one section of a larger project, a clearly defined to-do list for the day will help you to manage your own expectations. Additionally, it keeps you accountable to at least accomplishing at least one task. You can no longer fall back on the excuse of “I had so much to do I didn’t know where to start.” Give yourself a starting point, and an ending point for the day and aim for those bench marks.

  1. Do Something for You

Finally and most importantly, be sure that you do at least one thing just for yourself on Monday. For me, this is getting to the gym for an exercise class I really enjoy. When my task list piles up for the day, I don’t allow myself to make an excuse for not going. The result isn’t that I necessarily get any more work done. Rather, I just feel cranky the whole day and like I’m working, working, working with no reward. That class is my reward and I try to never deprive myself of it! I can move other tasks, meetings and phone calls around this one piece of my day – and I’m always grateful I do! It’s my motivation to work hard and get my tasks done the rest of the day so I can accommodate this hour for myself.

Do you dread – or dominate Mondays? Do you plan to use these 5 tips for taking control of your day today? Or share some other tips that you’ve found helpful for time management, especially on Mondays!

 

Overcoming Writer’s Block with Automatic Transcription

descriptIf you’re a writer — of books, essays, scripts, blog posts, whatever — you’re familiar with the phenomenon: the blank screen, a looming deadline, and a sinking feeling in your gut that pairs poorly with the jug of coffee you drank earlier.

If you know that rumble all too well: this post is for you. Maybe it’ll help you get out of a rut; at the very least, it’s good for a few minutes of procrastination.

Here’s the core idea: thinking out loud is often less arduous than writing. And it’s now easier than ever to combine the two, thanks to recent advances in speech recognition technology.

Of course, dictation is nothing new — and plenty of writers have taken advantage of it. Carl Sagan’s voluminous output was facilitated by his process of speaking into an audio recorder, to be transcribed later by an assistant (you can listen to some of his dictations in the Library of Congress!) And software like Dragon’s Naturally Speaking has offered automated transcription for people with the patience and budget to pursue it.

But it’s only in the last couple of years that automated transcription has reached a sweet spot — of convenience, affordability and accuracy—that makes it practical to use it more casually. And I’ve found it increasingly useful for generating a sort of proto-first draft: an alternative approach to the painful process of converting the nebulous wisps inside your head into something you can actually work with.

I call this process idea extraction (though these ideas may be more accurately dubbed brain droppings).

Part I: Extraction

Here’s how my process works. Borrow what works for you and forget the rest — and let me know how it goes!

  • Pick a voice recorder. Start talking. Try it with a topic you’ve been chewing on for weeks — or when an idea flits your head. Don’t overthink it. Just start blabbing.
  • The goal is to tug on as many threads as you come across, and to follow them as far as they go. These threads may lead to meandering tangents— and you may discover new ideas along the way.
  • A lot of those new ideas will probably be embarrassingly bad. That’s fine. You’re already talking about the next thing! And unlike with text, your bad ideas aren’t staring you in the face.
  • Consider leaving comments to yourself as you go — e.g. “Maybe that’d work for the intro”. These will come in handy later.
  • For me, these recordings run anywhere from 20–80 minutes. Sometimes they’re much shorter, in quick succession. Whatever works.

Part II: Transcription

Once I’ve finished recording, it’s time to harness ⚡️The Power of Technology⚡️

A little background: over the last couple of years there’s been an explosion of tools related to automatic speech recognition (ASR) thanks to huge steps forward in the underlying technologies.

Here’s how ASR works: you import your audio into the software, the software uses state-of-the-art machine learning to spit back a text transcript a few minutes later. That transcript won’t be perfect—the robots are currently in the ‘Write drunk’ phase of their careers. But for our purposes that’s fine: you just need it to be accurate enough that you can recognize your ideas.

Once you have your text transcript, your next step is up to you: maybe you’re exporting your transcript as a Word doc and revising from there. Maybe you’re firing up your voice recorder again to dictate a more polished take. Maybe only a few words in your audio journey are worth keeping — but that’s fine too. It probably didn’t cost you much (and good news: the price for this tech will continue to fall in the years ahead).

A few more tips:

  • Use a recorder/app that you trust. Losing a recording is painful — and the anxiety of losing another can derail your most exciting creative moments (“I hope this recorder is working. Good, it is… @#*! where was I?”)
  • Audio quality matters when it comes to automatic transcription. If your recording has a lot of background noise or you’re speaking far away from the mic, the accuracy is going to drop. Consider using earbuds (better yet: Airpods) so you can worry less about where you’re holding the recorder.
  • Find a comfortable space. Eventually you may get used to having people overhear your musings, but it’s a lot easier to let your mind “go for a walk” when you’re comfortable in your environment.
  • Speaking of walking: why not go for a stroll? The pains of writing can have just as much to do with being stationary and hunched over. Walking gets your blood flowing — and your ideas too.
  • I have a lot of ideas, good and bad, while I’m thinking out loud and playing music at the same time (in my case, guitar — but I suspect it applies more broadly). There’s something about playing the same four-chord song on auto pilot for the thousandth time that keeps my hands busy and leaves my mind free to wander.

The old ways of doing things — whether it’s with a keyboard or pen — still have their advantages. Putting words to a page can force a sort of linear thinking that is otherwise difficult to maintain. And when it comes to editing, it’s no contest: QWERTY or bust.

But for getting those first crucial paragraphs down (and maybe a few keystone ideas to build towards)? Consider talking to yourself. Even if you wind up with a transcript full of nothing but profanity — well, have you ever seen a transcript full of profanity? You could do a lot worse.

This article is originally published by Descript.

Oh the Places You’ll…Work!

the places you'll work

It’s a Dr. Seuss book that has become the standard gift to give someone for graduation, “Oh the Places You’ll Go!” I have my own copy stored somewhere. I truly haven’t thought much about this book since my own college graduation, but recently the words in that title have never been truer of my professional life.

Sure, since starting my own PR firm nearly seven years ago, I suppose I have gotten to go to a lot of new places. But that’s not what made me think of this book. Rather, if Dr. Seuss were to write a book about my life these last few weeks it would be called “Oh the Places You’ll…Work!”

I have always enjoyed that my career allows me to work from virtually anywhere. Most often I’m comfortable in my home office, or I’d get out to park or coffee shop to enjoy a change in scenery. However, since hiring our au pair, both of my young sons are in or around our home during the day. The convenience of this is awesome, but there’s definitely the drawback that they can and will find me – often at the most inopportune times.

Lately, I’ve had to ditch my home office and seek out workspace away from the home. What I’ve discovered is a treasure trove of free work spaces all throughout my town. What felt like a minor inconvenience, has opened my eyes to some pretty creative ways entrepreneurs – or moms who simply want to drink a cup of coffee in peace – can set up “shop” just about anywhere. Here are my favorites thus far!

College campuses – I’m fortunate to live within walking distance to a small private college, Messiah College. While I’ve walked this campus for years, I’ve never really stepped foot inside their buildings. Once I did, I found a handful of perfect co-working spaces. A college or university is a prime spot for pop-up offices. They have free wifi, plenty of quiet areas, ample outlets, and open desks/tables/chairs to suit your needs. In Messiah’s library, there are even glassed in private work spaces that are first come first serve! Usually there’s a café or coffee shop nearby too. So this has become my favorite virtual office as of late.

The gym – Sounds weird, but it’s efficient! Our local YMCA has free wifi, coffee and a comfortable lounge area in the entrance. In an effort to get out of the house as quickly as possible in the morning, I head to the gym. I usually have a few hours to kill before my preferred workout class, so I’ll pop open my laptop, drink a cup of coffee and start my day. Then I can enjoy a workout knowing my email is under control and I have a handle on my to-do list for the day.

Co-working spaces – As you might have picked up from the theme of this article, I’m just really against paying for office space. A lot of our local co-working spaces come with a monthly fee; however, I’ve learned where in other cities this is offered for free. I often find myself in State College, Pennsylvania for both work and social obligations. Here, they have an incubator/accelerators space called Launch Box. This is a free resource for students and entrepreneurs to work, get mentored and learn from other entrepreneurs. All around it’s just a fun environment! As a bonus, it’s located right down town so grabbing a quick lunch while working is very convenient.

Coffee shops – This is a pretty standard go-to work space for many entrepreneurs. I’ll usually go to a coffee shop if I have a meeting scheduled there. I’ll arrive a little early and get in some extra work time before taking the meeting. I don’t use coffee shops as my regular workspace because they tend to get loud and crowded. Also places like Panera will cut off your wifi after so many hours. All that being said, coffee shops make great workspace options while you’re on the road and unfamiliar with other options in the area.

Libraries – Libraries make for okay workspaces. I suppose it depends upon your local library. This is a great option if you really need to dig deep into a project and require silence. Libraries don’t work so well when you need to take phone calls throughout the day – or you’re like me and tend to be a loud snacker.

Client’s office – I have several clients who graciously offer me unlimited use of their office space. This is ideal when I’ll already be in the area and need some workspace in between meetings. It’s a great way to get regular facetime with your client as well. For me, I get to enjoy working a day or so a week from a very nice office space right across the street from Pennsylvania’s Capitol building. I can take meetings in the conference room or meet up with a friend for lunch. I bill this as my “social” day – which one day a week is usually enough for me!

Outside – I’ve been able to find some really nice outdoor work spaces too. They key is to find shade otherwise it becomes extremely tedious to find your mouse on a screen that has a glare from the sun. It can also get hot and uncomfortable! I like working outside for an hour or so and then heading indoors. It’s a great way to add some variety to your day and get a dose of energy during those sleepy afternoon hours.

And some pretty unusual spaces…

While these are not my “typical” nor preferred workspaces, it’s fun to reflect on some of the outrageous places I’ve been able to accomplish work. Luckily having small children has given me the ability to focus through just about anything, which is what makes this possible! Some of my unusual office spaces include: golf course, casino, carwash, grocery store, mechanic, doctor’s office, airplane, train, car, bus (pretty much every type of transportation), bar, beach and many more I can’t remember!

Do you benefit from having a virtual work environment? Share some of the best places you’ve found to work remotely outside a traditional office or home office!