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Dear Blog No. 1

Dear Blog,

I haven’t been posting or sending out newsletters in a while and it feels bad. Because when I do WANT to post or send something out, I feel ashamed and then I give up.

It’s like that time I went to an all-females gym before I was married. I went almost every day, then I started not going. Because of some reason or another (I can’t remember).

The gym owner even started messaging me on Facebook asking, “Aina bila nak datang gym lagi? 😊” That coming from her, a warm and friendly lady, wasn’t offensive at all.

But still, it felt impossible for me to SHOW UP and start going to the gym again.

Maybe I’m not confident anymore. Maybe I feel like all my progress is lost. Maybe I’m aiming too high with my starting-again plan. Maybe I don’t need to go to the gym yet for things to start moving?

Well, back to writing. It’s not like I haven’t been writing at all. But I know I need to publish these writings for people to read. (That’s the part I’m struggling with) I guess this Dear Blog post is my way of slowly gaining the momentum back again.

What I have been doing instead:

  • Playing around with Excel and organizing data for my dayjob. Very surprisingly, I find myself getting obsessed with Excel and organizing data feels almost like a guilty pleasure. I’m even reading up on Excel tips on a daily basis. (For me, that’s weird)

  • Eating meat with my husband. My husband (let’s call him ‘S’) is a meat-enthusiast. We’ve been partying it up at Beard Brothers’ BBQ and Wagyu Kokoro recently.

  • NOT being on social media for almost 3 weeks. It first started off as a temporary thing. Delete the apps during the weekdays and reinstall them Friday night. But after a few tries, it felt more natural to just NOT install them back again. It’s been a nice break!

Well, till the next time then, dear blog. I’ll be back.

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The 3 Types of Content You Should Be Creating For Your Brand

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Picture this situation: You have a product or service that you want to promote. And you know that being active on social media like Instagram and Facebook is GREAT because you want to reach potential customers.

But when it comes to creating the content that you want to post -- it feels like you’re posting the SAME THINGS over and over again.

It feels like you’re just using synonyms at this point. “Amazing”, “excellent”, “high quality”. What to do at this point?

The normal things that people post on their brand’s social media, website or blog are usually things that actually revolve around their product or service. Makes sense right? When you have a product or service, you need to be talking about it to promote it and make money. If you don't talk about it, people won't know and won’t buy.

But, does that mean that you have to talk about your own product/service ALL the time? The answer is no.

A brand that only talks about its products or services is like a person who only talks about themselves. That kind of person doesn’t care about others, so it’s only logical that others don’t really care about them too.

If that’s how your brand has been operating, it’s time to look at what you post on social media and create content a DIFFERENT WAY.

Let me walk you through the THREE types of content you can create for your brand.

 

1) Promotional content

Promotional Content is content that is 100% about your product or service.

Examples:

  • SALE! 50% off for all tops

  • The CNY 2019 line of skirts

  • Buy 1 free 1 for website purchases only

These are called Promotional Content because you'll be promoting your product/service and inviting people to BUY. There's no secrecy or hidden motives here. It's all transparent.

Note: Posting Promotional Content isn’t a bad thing. But that’s not all you can post...

2) Informative content

Informative Content is content that won't mention your product/service AT ALL. 0%. Nada. Zip.

You may be thinking: Nowwwww why would I do that? Doesn't make sense at all to talk about other things. I thought I have to be *focusing* on my brand?

You thought right.

In Informative Content, you're not going to talk about your product or service, but you'll be focusing on your BRAND.

What does your brand mean to you, in 3 words? (Humour me for a bit)

For me, the Narrativity brand is about passion, fun and learning. Regardless of what I sell, this is what *my* brand means to me.

Products come and go, but brands are forever. Think about it. This year's line of products won't be the same as next year's -- but your brand will hopefully last for years and years to come.

That's why Informative Content will focus on what makes your brand special for your customers. So instead of promoting your product/service in this content, you’re going to be promoting your brand.

What happens is that your customers don't only USE your product, they LIVE with your brand. They don't only buy one product and forget your brand, but they'll be returning for repeat purchases and become a lifelong fan. They’ll be telling their kids about your brand!

So how do you create Informative Content? You need to go one step further than the average brand, focus on what your potential customers care about in relation to your industry, and create content about THAT.

For example, you sell blouses so you're in the fashion industry. What do your potential customers care about in relation to fashion?

  • They care about looking fashionable without draining their bank accounts before the next payday.

  • They care about buying quality clothes that will last them more than 6 months.

  • They care about maintaining their clothes and being able to wear them regularly.

There’s so many aspects of fashion that they probably care about, which means you have plenty of material to create content with.

Your Informative Content can be something like this:

  • How to determine if the clothes you’re buying are high quality (seams, buttons, etc)

  • The lazy person's guide to doing laundry

When your potential customers see and read this kind of Informative Content (which they’re interested in, btw), they’ll see that there’s MORE to your brand than *just selling another product that other brands are also selling*.

You’re differentiating your brand from other brands.

And because you won’t promote anything in the Informative Content, they’ll see that you’re giving away the valuable information for FREE. People like free stuff, man.

 

3) Hybrid content

If the promotional post is 100% about your product/service, and the informative content is about your brand, the hybrid content will be a little more subtle…. It’s going to combine both.

You'll basically start out with an Informative Content, and include your product/service as a PART of your Informative Content.

For example, you want to write about your special sambal paste that you're selling.

Your Hybrid Content: A blog post about the 5 Ways Busy People Save Time Cooking:

  1. Always wash dishes right after cooking your last meal.

  2. Go for simple recipes unless you have time for complicated ones.

  3. Buy pre-cleaned ingredients like pre-cleaned chicken or fish.

  4. Use ready-made pastes (like this sambal paste that you’re selling… hint hint)

  5. Chop up some ingredients in advance like onions and store them in the fridge.

See how your product is mentioned naturally in the blog post? By doing this, you're giving valuable information to your potential customers AND making them see that your product will fit right into their lives.

Side note: these are all tips I’ve implemented in my own kitchen! Haha.

When you want to create Hybrid Content, keep in mind that your product/service is only a part of that content. It’s fine if it’s just a small part. That way, you’re not limiting yourself to the kind of Hybrid Content you can create AND still mention your product/service.

 

How will all this info translate into, you know, actually creating those content?

I have a 2-Week Content Calendar that you can follow for 2-weeks worth of posts for your brand’s social media!

What do you usually like to post on your brand’s social media?

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4 Common Design Mistakes You're Making (and how to fix them in < 1 minute!)

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You have….

  • A new blog post that you’ve spent hours on, and you want to promote it.

  • A sale that you have going on for your products that you want to spread the word about.

  • Just a quote post that you want to share on social media to get your brand some visibility.

And you’re designing the graphic yourself.

You know you've got good taste, but when you compare your design to the ones you see on the Internet or famous brands on the market, yours doesn't look as cool or sophisticated.

Good design is important. It attracts people to your offering (a product, service, blog), and it tells your potential customers what kind of a brand you have.

On the same note, BAD design affects your brand negatively. It doesn’t matter if your actual product is high quality — if your design is not on par, you risk turning away potential customers.

People take one look at the bad design and instantly decide in their minds that this brand is NOT for them. “Nope, that’s not my style.”

Fortunately, you can achieve good design simply by TWEAKING what you already have in front of you.

What I’m sharing in this post are the commonly diagnosed design mistakes that people make and how to fix them easily and quickly. Each mistake will take less than 1 minute to fix (not including snack breaks). 

 

Common Mistake #1: Not enough contrasting colours.

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I LOVE monochromes. Monochromes are different shades of the same colour.

For monochrome design, you pick one colour (like the teal green above) and use its darker and lighter shades as the supporting colours.

But while monochromes are pleasing to the eye, they don't POP. They're essentially the same colour and since there are no other colours, your eyes have nowhere to jump to. The design doesn't grab you by the eyeballs.

And because the design is NOT attention-grabbing, it's so easy for your readers to skip it altogether or not process the text or information accordingly. This is bad. Very bad.

Let's fix this!

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  • Start with your monochrome colour palette that you want to use for your design. In this case, I'm going with the teal green.

  • Based on the content of your design, which is the message that you’re trying to convey, choose the MAIN POINT that you want to highlight to the people reading. This MAIN POINT is the part of the design that has to ‘pop’.

  • For the MAIN POINT, you use a CONTRASTING COLOUR. Everything else is monochrome, but the MAIN POINT has to be in a CONTRASTING COLOUR in order for it to pop.

  • A contrasting colour is basically the opposite of the colour you’re using, based on the colour wheel. Here’s a few contrasting colour pairings for you to use:

    • Red - Green

    • Yellow - Purple

    • Blue - Orange

  • By the way, it doesn’t mean that you need to use those really bright, kindergarten-style primary colours in order to make your design pop. You can use SHADES of the colours. For example, I’m obsessed with dark green - light pink pairings! (Pink is a shade of red)

  • For the design above, I used a coral orange shade as the contrasting colour to highlight ‘Summer Fashion’.

 

Common Mistake #2: Too many contrasting colours!

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It's also possible to overdo the colours. While it's important that your design 'pops', too many things 'popping' can lead to sensory overload for your potential customers.

Other than the sensory overload, too many contrasting colours in one design ruins the brand look. Your potential customers can’t get a sense of your brand personality because everything is mixed together like a bowl of nasi goreng. (No offense to nasi goreng)

Let's fix this! 

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  • If there are multiple points you want to convey using the design, there’s no need to use contrasting colours on all of them. You’ll need to choose the MAIN POINTS (yes, again) and only keep the contrasting colours for that. Stick to monochrome colours for the rest.

  • The TITLE and SUBTITLE are usually the main points for any design. In the design above, ‘Raya Sale’ is the title, and ‘Up to 50% off’ is the subtitle. The dark pink for the subtitle ties in nicely with the pink border-shapes at the side.

  • It’s OK for other points to be less contrasting. The main goal is to catch the customer’s eye and they’ll read the rest.

  • When in doubt, WHITE is a great option. White usually contrasts with many colours (except for pastels) and are neutral, so they’re a safe bet.

 

Common Mistake #3: Too much space between each line of text.

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The space between each line in a paragraph is called the "leading" or simply "line spacing".

Back when we're doing assignments and needed to achieve the minimum page requirement, increasing the line spacing is our go-to trick. Eh? (Don't tell me you didn’t do this. I won’t believe you)

But when there's too much space between them, each line isn't read together. So instead of reading it as "10 Travel Tips for Newly-Weds That No One Tell You", what the reader is saying in their head is "10 Travel Tips. For Newly-Weds. That No One Tells You."

The sentence doesn't flow smoothly and it reads as if there are three different titles in there. The design also doesn’t look as neat or put-together.

Let's fix this!

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  • If the content of your design is made up of one sentence, the lines of text have to be grouped together.

  • Simply reduce the line spacing gradually until there's a healthy amount of space between each line, i.e. words in the top and bottom line aren't touching each other. While you don’t want the lines to be too far apart, you don’t want them to overlap either. Give ‘em some healthy breathing space like you would in any healthy relationship.

 

Common Mistake #4: Using too many fonts in one design.

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I get it, there’s so many beautiful fonts out there. I wish I could use ‘em all too.

But your design is the LAST place where you should use all those fonts on. (Suddenly I’m reminded about how excited 11 year-old me was to test all those fonts on Microsoft Word)

Too many fonts in one design makes it look messy and childish. Imagine those fonts like different types of VOICES. Too many voices saying the same thing will be too distracting for the customer.

LET’S FIX IT!

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  • Like the contrasting colours in Common Mistake #1, pick two fonts that contrast each other. One font is considered your ‘base font’ and the other is the ‘contrast font’. More than two fonts will be too many.

  • There are 3 basic types of fonts that you can choose from:

    • Sans serif (like ‘My Best’ and ‘Tips & Tricks’ in the design above)

    • Serif (like your good old friend Times New Roman)

    • Script (like the ‘Photography’ in the design above)

  • So if your base font is sans serif, your contrast font can be either serif or script. (Or any other pairing you like)

  • Use the contrast font for the MAIN POINT in your design. The MAIN POINT doesn’t always have to be a phrase or a sentence. Sometimes you may just want to highlight a single word, like “Photography” in the design above.

  • If you feel like two fonts aren’t enough, explore different weights of the fonts. There are sometimes semi-bold, bold and black options of the fonts you’re using, which you can use as contrast. But because it’s still technically the same font, it won’t look messy.

 

Infusing good design into your brand.

The main thing that people seem to overlook about good design is CONSISTENCY.

It’s not always about pushing the boundaries or being creative. If you’re designing for fun or one-off projects, yes, go crazy!

But creating good design for your brand means making consistent choices in terms of colour, fonts and other aspects. This makes your brand MEMORABLE and RECOGNIZABLE.

Can you spot the consistent choices I make for my brand?

Can you spot the consistent choices I make for my brand?

I have a few more blog posts on design and branding that you can continue reading:

Tell me, what’s your biggest design pet peeve?

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How to Structure Your Blog Post to Make It Flowy & Understandable

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In some places around my website, I created mini surveys that would help me figure out what people ACTUALLY want to read about. So about a year ago, I received this response to one of my surveys:

What’s your biggest problem when it comes to writing blog posts?:  How to structure a blog post to make it flow and understandable for the audience.

What’s your biggest problem when it comes to writing blog posts?: How to structure a blog post to make it flow and understandable for the audience.

If you’re wondering why it took me that long to write about this topic, well, the answer’s gonna make me look bad. I just completely forgot about the responses to my surveys. It was like, “Oooh! Somebody took the survey!” and I never thought to actually write blog posts on what they were asking.

(Yes, you have my permission to look disgusted.)

Anyway, I thought, better 13 months late than never! Plus, it’s also a very popular question that I still get from my readers and newsletter subscribers from time to time. So, still helpful to discuss now.

 

How to structure a blog post to make it flow and understandable

It was an anonymous submission so I can’t ask the anon to clarify, but I think I understand what they’re asking.

If you’re already a blogger, or if you love writing, writing itself may already be easy for you. (Most of the time)

What’s hard is converting that writing into something that readers can understand and enjoy. Editing, refining, and sometimes re-writing what you wrote in order to make it ‘publishable’.

Case in point: I wrote the points for this blog post in about 2 days, but editing the blog post to make it understandable took more than a week. It wasn’t easy.

 
 

Is it hard to look like you ‘flow’?

Let me tell you a story. Of how I performed when asked to do a presentation in front of the CEO of my company, Heads of Department, and also two impressive and respected experts in my field — during the first 6 months of being hired there!

The summary: I screwed it up.

How I screwed it up: First of all, I lost my voice. Whenever I get nervous, my voice dies in my throat. I don’t mean a sore throat — I mean my voice disappears eventhough I’m speaking. So imagine how awkward it was when suddenly at the end of the sentence, no sound came out!

Secondly, I started to ramble. Eventhough I had slides ready, I completely messed up the flow of the presentation. Should’ve just followed the slides but noooo. My smartass brain thought it could do better. I could see my supervisor looking all eyebrow-raised but semi-amused at the same time.

Thirdly, I didn’t get to say what I came to say. The side effect of rambling is that I completely missed certain points. Because when your mouth is busy saying things, it’s hard to suddenly stop yourself and say “OK, that’s not exactly what I wanted to say.”

So. My presentation wasn’t structured, I’m pretty sure it wasn’t understandable, and I most certainly DIDN’T FLOW. In front of people I wanted to impress. It was a cringy moment even nearly 2 years later.

 

You want to impress your readers with your flow.

You may be thinking: How is your story relevant, Aina? Presenting is a whole different thing compared to writing.

OR IS IT?

Let me tell you something. When the reader is reading your blog post, they’re reading it out loud inside their head. Or rather, they’re hearing your voice inside their head.

Your readers are reading your blog post out loud in their heads.

So if your blog post is as messy and rambly and awkward as my presentation, the effect is the same.

I completely understand why ‘the flow’ is so important to writers/bloggers. When you have that flow, your blog posts are easy and enjoyable to read. Your blog posts become natural to read. And you’ll look effortless.

We want our writing to be cool but effortlessly cool. Not like we’re trying too hard to be James Bond. Ya get me?

But writing naturally and achieving that flow takes some strategies. Which are exactly what I’ll be discussing with you in this blog post.

 

First strategy: Paint the big picture by writing a general introduction.

Don’t be that friend who starts the story with the tiniest details and then you have to ask a million questions to get the full story. That friend is a horrible storyteller.

What you need to do is to make your writing UNCOMPLICATED to follow. That means starting from the big idea and then zooming into the small ideas.

That’s the structure that you want: BIG CONCEPT > SMALL CONCEPTS.

Quick example. Let's say you want to write about the benefits of argan oil for your face. Sure, you can dive straight away into the benefits. 1st benefit, 2nd benefit, 3rd benefit…

But then about halfway through, you feel like it gets harder and harder to explain the benefits. You have to deviate from your current track to explain about things in general. In short, your thoughts become messy and you don’t see how to finish writing your points. You feel like you’re swimming through seaweed.

How to fix this? Zoom out of the points you were focusing on and start again. Firstly, what the heck are face oils?

Face oils are oils that you put on your face to moisturize and hydrate your skin. They’re like the face creams you usually put on before bed, but are in oil form instead. (There, that’s a good general introduction.)

You may think, isn’t it cliche to talk about general things? Plus it’s so unnecessary because the general points are usually too basic. I don’t want to write a school essay.

I hear ya, but here’s the thing:

  1. Not everyone that reads your blog post knows everything (or even ANYTHING) about the topic you’re writing about. You can't assume that you are writing for people who have the same level of information that you do.

    So, rather than leave the beginners totally confused and abandoned, a general introduction will equip them with the right concept and terminology to properly understand the rest of your blog post.

    (If you had skipped the explanation of face oils, people who have never heard of face oils would think it’s crazy to put oil on their faces.)

    BTW, for readers who already know the general stuff, they'll just skim through that intro part. It won't be an issue.

  2. Even if you’ve explained the general idea in a different blog post before, it’s NOT REDUNDANT to write about it again. You can’t assume that your reader has read that particular post before.

    The readers who are currently reading right now may be totally new to your blog. So it doesn't hurt to re-explain stuff for their convenience.

    It doesn't mean that you have to explain it from A to Z. Just briefly explain AND link that part to the previous post. You can add, "I've talked about face oils and why they're actually good for your skin in *this post*."

Making your writing easy to follow may mean that you have to write a little bit more before diving into the points, but it's better than confusing them!

When your writing is easy to follow, no matter if your reader is a beginner or otherwise, it’ll just flow better.

 

Second strategy: Make it conversational by including your friend.

A blog post is NOT supposed to be a lecture. And you’re not a lecturer.

The best outcome of writing is when your reader feels that you’re speaking to them, and there’s a conversation flowing between you and them (for the whole blog post!).

If you want your reader to be your friend, write as if they're your friend.

When this happens, your writing will be conversational. The words that you use are more informal (and casual) and you phrase your sentences differently. It’s the difference between writing “There are several varieties of face oils in the market” and “You can check out a few different face oils in the market”.

(OK, maybe not a perfect example there, but you get what I mean)

But how to make it conversational when you’re writing on your own? You can’t always have your friend with you to help you write.

Well, you’re gonna have to work double-time and cover for your friend too. Basically, write AS IF you’re having a conversation with your friend.

If your writing still doesn’t feel conversational enough, no worries. It’s time to edit. (My writing rarely turns out conversational enough the first time — I usually need to edit in the conversation)

Here's how you edit in the conversation:

1) Take whatever you've written. Look at it in front of you.

2) Paragraph by paragraph — read it out loud. It has to be out loud. Not just in your head, OK? You have to hear what you’re writing for this strategy to work.

3) Read it in the best intonation possible, as if your friend is in front of you. Like you're telling your friend something.

4) Occassionally, switch roles and become your friend for a bit to ask questions. Like, suddenly, you'll be the friend who asks, "Wait, I thought it's bad to put oils on your face??" This will be a good opportunity for you to include the questions as well as the answers.

When you write as if you’re having a conversation with your reader, you’ll hit the natural flow of the conversation. What question will your friend ask first? How will your friend react to this or that? You’ll KNOW, because the conversation is happening inside your head! Now you just have to put them into words.

 

Third strategy: Relate to your readers by finding out WHO they are.

The way to REACH inside and GRAB your reader’s brain is to understand this: WHO is your reader?

Day after day, when you’re tapping away on your laptop, or scribbling away on your notebook, who do you imagine you’re writing to?

If you say you’re writing to Anyone or Everyone, that means you’re not PERSONALIZING your writing enough.

Structure is important, but knowing who you write to is even more CRUCIAL to making your blog post understandable.

When it’s not personalized, it means that it’s general. Like it’s not intended for anyone. Your reader is reading and he/she isn’t feeling special, because it’s not personalized to him/her. Your writing won’t flow the way it’s supposed to in his/her head.

At work, there’s usually a few talks every month that everyone is supposed to attend. And I’m REALLY bad at listening to talks. I either fall asleep (despite my good intentions) or play with my phone. The talks are usually too… General. And general = boring. So I don’t pay attention.

To get my attention, the speaker would have to speak as if they’re speaking to me PERSONALLY. They have to mention things that relate to ME. Not the person beside me.

Make your reader feel special by making the blog post ABOUT THEM.

That’s how it works in writing too. You need to personalize your writing based on who your readers are (or who you WANT to write to).

Here’s a few things you can find out about your readers:

1) Gender: male, female, others

2) Age: school children, teenagers, young adults, 30 year-old adults, mature (40+ and above)

3) Occupation: student, SAHM, executives, freelancers, business owners, office jobs, retail jobs

4) Level of interest in the topic: hobbyist, freelancer, business owner, professional

Those aren’t the only things, but they’re a solid place to start.

Let me give you an example. If you’re writing about budgeting money and your audience are teenagers — then tips like how to apply for loans and financing from banks won't be relevant to them (yet). Teenagers can’t apply for loans and financing.

So not only do you personalize the content, you also personalize your examples, writing style, and also language.

I have another tip. The thing about bloggers or writers is that they're usually sharing things that they themselves have experienced. So they share with people who are similar to them. So another way to understand your audience is to look at yourself.

Your own age, gender, occupation, etc all plays into how you write and personalize your writing.

 

Fourth strategy: Have mercy on your readers by embracing learning aids.

Learning aids are those things you can find in a school textbook. Diagrams, charts, etc… Learning aids make learning easier because you’re not just reading TEXT.

OK, so I’m writing about writing, but I’m telling you to use things other than words. Seems funny, right?

In my first year of university, reading law, I made this meme:

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Why? Because everything was just ENDLESS text. Paragraphs upon paragraphs with no end in sight, and I was just supposed to digest everything by reading? No way jose.

I like reading, but reading to understand something is a whole lot different than reading fiction.

So would you, as someone who’s passionate about educating your readers, inflict on them the same kind of pain? There are things, ideas and concepts that MERE WORDS cannot explain.

There are points that you can more readable and understandable with learning aids like diagrams, etc. Takes more effort for you to prepare a blog post, yes, but your readers will understand what you’re writing. I’d say that’s worth it.

Here’s a short list of learning aids that you can use in your writings:

1) Photos. Ohhh boy. If you can insert photos into your blog, I would really recommend it. Especially if you're writing tutorials. Sometimes it’s better to SHOW the steps rather than tell.

2) Videos. Videos are a bit difficult to produce and let's face it, video-editing is something that most people just don’t have time for. Me included. BUT, make short videos. Even if it's without any voiceover or captions or fancy editing, it can still be useful.

3) GIFs. If you don't feel like videos are your thing or they’re just too hard to produce, use GIFs! GIF stands for Graphic Interchange Format and it's like a hybrid between a photo and video, that will play on loop. I've used this before my Ultimate Guide to Microblogging on Social Media using a free tool called LiceCap. I know, weird name. But it works great!

4) Diagrams. Examples are the Venn diagram, flowcharts, pyramids, etc. Sounds a bit nerdy to make diagrams about argan oil or the best way to pack electronics or cupcake frosting, but WHAT ELSE ARE YOU GOING TO BE NERDY ABOUT? Tip: You can use the SmartArt on Microsoft Word and screenshot from there, or use a graphic design tool like Canva.

5) Analogies. Analogies are when you compare Concept A and Concept B. Concept A is the one you’re trying to explain, Concept B is something that your reader is already familiar with. For example, an analogy that I've used before is to explain the concept of a website:

  • A website is like a house.

  • The pages on the website are like the rooms. A blog, which is a page, is a room inside that house.

  • The About Me page and the Contact Me page are also other rooms in the house.

  • The domain (or the link that you type) is the address of the house.

If there's something you'd want to 'nerd out' for, it's your blog!

I use all the above (except for videos, still working on that), but my personal favourite is using analogies. I find it easier to create diagrams and graphics when I have a visual idea of what I want to explain.

 
 

Bonus strategy: Accept that there is no such thing as a perfect, 100% flowy blog post.

Even after all your editing and getting to know your audience et cetera, you will never achieve the 100% flow. And here’s the thing: it’s NOT IMPORTANT and it’s NOT REQUIRED.

I'm not saying you shouldn't try to make your writing flow nicely. I'm just saying, it matters less than you think. What matters is actually conveying your message/points/lesson/tips to your readers.

So if you’ve gone through all the strategies and there’s still something not quite perfect, LET IT GO. There's no need to force it. Your time is better spent writing another blog post!

Let me know in the comment section: How much time do you usually spend on your blog post to make it ‘flow’?

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Leveraging Your Skill To Create A Dream Business or Career

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I only drink lattes. I both like the taste AND like the hipster feeling that accompanies coffee-drinking.

When I'm broke, it's my instant coffee mix (if you're wondering which one, it's the Nescafe Oh So Creamy White Coffee with milk), but when I'm feeling a little luxurious, I go to the café in my office building.

Anyway, since payday is only a few days away from today, I thought I'd swing by the café and grab a hot macadamia latte to accompany today's writing session.

As I was waiting for my order, I noticed how quick the barista was in making it. And it was good, just as it always has been.

It's not easy to make good lattes. It's not just a "pour water, pour milk" kind of thing. I've tried making my own from scratch and it's hard to CONSISTENTLY get right.

I've lost count of how many times I went to a café / restaurant / the local Starbucks and thought, "The coffee was good last week, but today it sucks. I'm disappointed."

It takes SKILL and EXPERIENCE to be able to do things perfectly -- consistently. Good equipment does help, but NOT all the way.

Back to the barista.

As I was gratefully sipping my latte, I thought about how awesome it is if the barista could use her coffee-making skill to build her own career or business.

  1. CLIENT-ORIENTED CAREER/BUSINESS: A barista for hire

    What if the barista could freelance and provide coffee-making services at events? (I've seen this at weddings)

  2. TEACHING-ORIENTED CAREER/BUSINESS: A barista guru

    What if the barista could train the employees of new cafes and coffeehouses on making good coffee?

    What if the barista could train those employees on the tips and tricks to efficiently make good coffee when there's a loooong line of customers? (Without messing up all the different orders!)

    What if the barista could create an online educational course on making good coffee for caffeine-heads at home? (Basically, people who don't have the fancy equipment)

    What if the barista could teach a specific coffee-related skill, like how to make beautiful foam art?

  3. CONSULTATION-ORIENTED CAREER/BUSINESS: A barista expert

    What if the barista could provide consultation to café owners on what kind of equipment works best and how to structure the processes (from taking the order to preparing the coffee to the presentation)?

It's so exciting to think about the paths that the barista could choose if she decides to leverage her skill.

Leveraging your skill means you get to maximize your money-making potential by utilizing your skill. In short, make money from something you’re good at AND you like doing.

With any new venture, it takes time to really bear fruit. Even if that barista is ready to quit her job tomorrow and start teaching employees of new cafes and coffeehouses, the clients won’t be lining up to hire her right away. That’s a given, right?

But if she leverages her skill AND brands herself AND starts to market herself as THE PROFESSIONAL BARISTA — who’s to say that her dream career or business is out of reach?

Here's a little challenge for you: Think about the people you meet in your life. People who work retail jobs, your relatives, your colleagues, that person you follow on Instagram.

Brainstorm 3 different ways that person can use that ONE skill that he/she has to build his/her own career or business.

I know it sounds like you're just daydreaming on behalf of that person. But it's a great exercise for you in adopting the mindset of CAN DO, WILL DO.

Even if you're doing this for someone else, it’s great to step outside the beaten path.

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