One thing I've felt has been missing from Unsettle over the past ten months has been more of me. If you're in the Facebook group, or get my emails, or listen to the podcast chances are you know a bit more about me than if you just read the blog, but I have a hunch that a lot of you will find the details about how I run my business interesting… Especially considering I'm building another online business, too, with Unsettle. So it's sort of meta. So I've decided to introduce monthly review posts. This will help you get a sense of what I do, how I do it, and you'll be able to celebrate big wins with me. Plus you can boo me from the crowd when I fail :). It will also be interesting to see my progress as time goes by. In these posts, I'll be disclosing the tools I used, the investments I made, what I did well (and what I wish I had done better), and what (and who) inspired me. The month of September was one of my best so far revenue-wise, as well as with productivity, health and my overall sense of well-being. This is huge for me, since the extreme highs and lows of entrepreneurship have really hit me hard. I hope I can report a huge win like this next month as well. Without further adieu…
Best Investment I Made
Over the course of the month, I made quite a few investments in my business. Not only have I been on a bit of an outsourcing blitz lately, but I've also been investing in tools to help me run my business more smoothly, automate as much as possible and, of course, free up time so I can focus on the things I love to do, which helps me earn more money. My absolute favourite tool I invested in in September was Coschedule. CoSchedule is a tool that enables me to map out my entire “content” plan over the next few months. I was able to schedule social media messages, including posts to the Facebook Group which was insanely helpful. It also gives you a handy calendar view and lets you schedule posts to social media far in the future, and provides stats on how the social media messages do. Paint me impressed. If you want to try it out, grab a free trial of CoSchedule here. This is an affiliate link which means that I'll earn a small commission if you end up signing up for CoSchedule at no extra cost to you :).
Tools I Used the Most
I would have gone crazy without these tools to help me manage my business. They freed up more time than I could account for, helped me automate several processes I shouldn't have been doing manually, and helped me find focus and clarity.
Most of these tools I have used for months and I expect that I'll continue to use them for months to come.
Books and Articles That Inspired Me
Reading is one of my favourite hobbies and luckily it's a hobby that also deepens my connection with my creativity. I read The Harry Potter Series: If you've ever shied away from fiction in guilt, put the business book down. Fiction helps you unwind your mind and disconnect yourself from the noise of the day. Perhaps the best part about well-written fiction, however, is that it demonstrates amazing story-telling, which is a skill that I'm still working on. I haven't read a Harry Potter book since I was 11 and loved delving back into them. Ask by Ryan Levesque: This book was recommended to me by my friend Tor and it's excellent just like he said. I'd highly recommend reading it if you want to start a business, have a business, or work for a business who wants more… business. The Happiness of Pursuit by Chris Guillebeau: I picked up another copy of this book at the World Domination Summit in July, and buckled down to read it in September. More than anything, this book makes me want to go on a quest, which I suppose was Chris's intent. Excellent, inspiring book to get you thinking. Finding the Courage to Live Mindfully on Blonde on a Budget: My friend, Cait hosted a guest post by Kali on her blog in September and the result gave me chills. Kali's post is honest and authentic and a must-read. 4 Powerful Upgrades For Your Online Image on Startup Camp: Okay, at first glance this headline doesn't sound especially compelling. But give it a chance. It's a refreshing read. No one on the Internet is living the life you think they are by Paul Jarvis: “Choose to be good with your life without comparing it to anyone else’s”. Which brings me to…
Things I Did Well
There were, of course, some things I did well in September (as well as things I wish I did better). I'm patting myself on the back for these few things:
October launches the final quarter of 2015, meaning we only have three more months to make a huge impact this year. If you see this as your last chance to close 2015 with a serious bang, you'll see why I took planning for the final quarter very seriously in September. I started with asking the community in the Facebook group about posting frequency. Was one article per week enough, or do you want more? The results showed me that the majority of you want to read more:
Armed with this knowledge, I then asked you what type of articles you wanted to see on the blog.
See, I believe two things about finding meaning in your work that seem conflicting:
- Forget what you're supposed to create and create what you're dying to create, and
- Meaning and authenticity is impossible without contributing to other's lives.
My bliss is helping you. It's creating things to benefit the greater good of the community. I'm dying to create things that will leave an impact and a legacy, and the only way to do that is to contribute to your life by writing what you want to read. The easiest way for me to figure that out is to ask you. This poll helped me create my publishing plan for the next quarter into the new year. I have plenty of detailed guides lined up, as well as tutorials and the odd inspirational article. The introduction of these monthly overviews hits on a few of the other points. In these posts, I'm able to let you know a bit more about me, my businesses, and what I'm working on, as well as share with you some of the resources and tools I've been using over the past month. The planning that I've done over the month of September was a huge win for me, as it's enabled me to move forward with a renewed sense of focus and drive.
You know how they say “do what you're passionate about”? I have a passion for writing. But the thing is, “passion” doesn't always mean that you love the thing. It just means you have a “strong and barely controllable emotion” about the thing. So does my struggle with writing unfold. There's nothing that delights me more than to hear that something I wrote reached somebody on emotional level, or made something click for a reader, or lit a fire under a visitor and compelled them to take action. But writing comes hard for me. It's an eternal struggle to focus on matching my emotion with my words and expressing them on paper – or, in my case, a keyboard. Even so, September came chock full of several 3,000-5,000 word writing days. I think I published some solid articles (like this, this, and this) and I removed my “upper limit” – that silly self belief that I could only write 1,000 words a day and that writing is hard for me. This was a huge win, along with a few other things…
September was a month of HUGE wins. In my experimentation to find you the perfect pitch email for you, I found one that landed 80% of the clients I sent it to, including a publication that I adore and am so excited to be writing for. I also began to work with an Unsettler on a project that I think will delight a lot of you. It's the first paid eCourse I've ever released and we're killing it with writing the modules of the course. This is made even more doable because I've found the perfect performance enhancing, focus-giving, all-natural drug to make me uber-productive each day: working out in the morning. This is seriously the best thing I could have done with my mornings, and I'm shaking my head at just how crazy I was to resist the morning workout regime before this month. Finally, a huge win that I'm tacking on from the last couple of days is that I hired a business coach. Just as all good therapists need a therapist, all good coaches need a coach. So I hired Jaime Tardy from Eventual Millionaire as my coach and I'm freakin' thrilled to work with her.
Things I Wish I Did Better
Ah yes. I've been inspired lately by James Altucher's principal that you should endeavour to be 1% better every single day, but there were things I wish I had done better in September. For example, I really struggled with…
Tracking Business Finances
In September (and many months preceding it) I had this scattered approach to my business finances where I'd track some of my expenditures but not all. My receipts are stored in a thousand different places and the invoices I sent out to clients are tracked loosely at best. This is something that doesn't hurt so much now but I know will be a huge sore spot for me come April 2016 when I bring documentation to my accountant to file my taxes. I finally started using FreshBooks. I have no idea what was stopping me before – it's cheap, easy to use, and a no-brainer – but suffice to say that I'm working on getting on top of this for the final quarter. Take this also as a cautionary tale for all of you just starting – you absolutely need a solid tracking system for the financials of your business. FreshBooks is a good bet, as is apps like Wave. Grab FreshBooks for free for the next month by clicking here and signing up.
Controlling My Focus
For all the writing I did in September, one thing that I wish I had done better was controlling my focus. I'm pretty impulsive by nature, so until I tracked my time on day in a time journal, I didn't realize how often my attention was pulled away from whatever I was working on to open Facebook, Twitter, email or WordPress. The worst thing was that I wouldn't even do anything on these platforms. I'd just open them, which would break my focus and gobble up my time. It's not just the 2 minutes I spend on Facebook each time. It's the fact that 15-20 minutes is lost each time you switch tasks, because it takes you that amount of time to get back into the task. That's the cost of task-switching and it has been eating at least two and half hours of my day. I'm looking into some website blocking tools to get a handle on this for October, but now that I'm more aware of it, I should be able to lessen the task-switching.
People Who Inspired Me
People are a huge inspiration to me and I hope you can find some inspiration in these awesome folk, too. Dale Partridge: Dale Partridge is a fellow pro-blogger and online entrepreneur and I've just been loving the way he uses words lately. His writing sort of “speaks” to me. Assya Barrette: Assya is a coaching student of mine and I've had the pleasure of working with Assya through the building of her sustainability blog, Green High Five, and she's just taking the internet by a storm. Not only were her articles picked up by Yahoo Makers, Rockstar Finance, and Salon, but yesterday (on her birthday nonetheless) her story was picked up by none other than Lifehacker. See what can happen when you take a unique view on something, roll up your sleeves and work your butt off to make it happen? Chris Guillebeau: I had the pleasure of interviewing Chris for the podcast (episode not released yet!) earlier in September and just chatting with him was inspiring and refreshing. Today I'm driving from BC to Portland to attend Pioneer Nation which is another one of his (I'm sure excellent) conferences he hosts. Paul Jarvis: Paul is a fellow Canadian, and not only that, but a West Coaster. He lives on Vancouver Island, and I live on the mainland. His new podcast The Freelancer is relatable and super authentic and I've been digging it. Kali Hawlk: I'm a part of Kali's mastermind group, and her writing has made me feel as if she's reading my mind lately. So many truths, particularly The Danger of a Little Success. Next month I hope to report even more big wins, fewer things I wish I had done better, and of course the knowledge that I did at least 1% better every day. I hope your September went just as well (or better!) as mine!]]>