I’ve seen this question asked about a thousand times in about a thousand places, so I figured it was time to shoot straight. This topic can have some varying opinions, sometimes controversial about which way is better. But after trying both methods in the last couple years, I’ve discovered it all boils down to a few different factors to consider.Read More
Last week I posted a picture on Instagram of my computer as I was planning out aaalllll my 2017 tasks in just a few days. Yes, that’s right, an entire year’s worth of projects in about one week. And people freaked out. Rightfully so! I know how crazy it sounds, 12 months of work scheduled out on a calendar is a little control-freak-ish right?! It’s okay, you can say it. But this method helps me brain dump all my ideas + plans for the coming year in an organized way so I can actually accomplish the things I set out to do on January 1. Granted, things will change. Trust me, I’m used to change 😉 So the key to making this work is to be flexible and realistic.
This post is a doozy, so prepare yourself. Pour a nice stiff drink, and settle in. First, a disclaimer.
This method of planning focuses all around the calendar, and an app will make this process even more organized. I use Asana (it’s free!), but you could also use Google Calendar or iCal or maybe even Trello (I’m not very familiar with Trello, so not sure if it has a calendar view or not). Any app that lets you assign tasks to dates will do. You can also just use a good old fashioned physical calendar or planner – same concept. For the rest of this post, I’ll be referencing Asana + it’s features a lot, so just go ahead and try it out for free why don’tcha?!Read More
Wow, I have derailed on the blogging train the last few months. Sorry about that. Honestly, I was running low on content ideas and just wasn’t feelin’ it. At first I felt guilty for not keeping up with it, and then I sat down and wrote this quick year-in-review, quickly got over the guilt, and just decided I’d recommit to the blog in the new year. And that felt much better 😃
To help me get over the slump, I took a look back at the last year and how my business has grown and changed, and whoa – it seems so different now! I did a little year in review post at this time last year, and it was so helpful to reflect, for myself, as I go into a new year, but I also hoped it would be an inspiration to my readers to see what can be accomplished in a year if you put in the hard work, make time for your priorities, and do things a little differently every once in awhile 😉Read More
I’ll cut to the chase: sharing your story with a bunch of strangers on the internet can be down right scary.
A little over a year ago, I had no blog and had just opened my business Instagram account with my teeny tiny following. No one knew my name, much less what I had been through in the two years prior. But I had an inkling to write, and I knew I needed to finally start blogging. Not just for my business, but for my own journaling of sorts – to keep a record of this wild journey of entrepreneurship and motherhood. But blogs were exploding online and I didn’t just want to be another one thrown into the mix. I didn’t know how I would set myself apart, but I knew I wouldn’t start blogging unless I did just that. I put it on the back burner until I felt more inspiration, or had an epiphany or something.
Then one day I found myself standing in my backyard looking up at the sky with tears streaming down my face, listening to my screaming baby inside. And then it hit me: write. Write now. Write all this down.Read More
You guys. A note in Evernote has been sitting, unwritten in, with this title for a good 6 months. I’ve been unsure about writing it. Unsure about sharing things. Unsure about people reading these things. But here we are, and we’re talking about dating. Oh boy.
After wading through these waters, I couldn’t help but notice the similarities between the online dating world and the online business world. When you’re an entrepreneur, you’re kind of like a single-something looking for a new, exciting relationship. You’re sharing all your best qualities, and hoping the people like you. You’re trying different approaches, but trying to stay true to yourself at the same time. You don’t know what’s around the corner, but you’re hoping for the best.Read More
Online courses. Er'body's making them. They're a great way to share what you know about specific topics, while earning some passive income in the process. But online courses can be beasts. I've said it before – "passive" income is a bit of a misnomer because it glosses over the amount of work that goes into creating the product in the first place. For each of my online courses, I spent a good 4-6 months creating the content + promotion that went into those product launches.
The InDesign Field Guide and Etsy on Autopilot are my two online courses, and both of these had A LOT of material to cover. The concepts + strategies taught covered a wide range of topics, so making sure it was organized in a logical way for my students was vital to the success of each of them.
Organizing your content is an important first step as you begin to create your online course. This is the step that a lot of people get hung up on. Maybe you know you have knowledge on a specific topic, but you don't know the best way or order to communicate that to a student who's eager to learn. I’ve got one main method that I used to create both of my online courses, and it gets you away from the screen and down on the floor... with good old-fashioned notecards.
MY NOTECARD METHOD
1. Brain dump.
Write out every specific topic you want to cover, each one on a separate notecard. Don’t worry about organization at this point, just brain dump onto those notecards. Try to keep your smaller topics somewhat grouped together for things that are obviously related. Here's an example of what I mean:
For my course The InDesign Field Guide, rather than writing character size, character spacing, line spacing, character width, etc. on different notecards, I already knew that all of these topics would need to be taught together and they fit in the larger category of just Character Styling. So I just used one notecard for that topic, labeled Character Styling, and then I wrote out a few of these smaller items on the same notecard as a reminder to myself later.
2. Group 'em up.
Once you have everything you think you want to cover written out on your notecards, start organizing the notecards into groups and orders. For ideas on how to organize your groups, here are five common ways to divvy it up:
- Sequential / Chronological – go in order, step 1, 2, 3, 4; everything builds on the previous thing
- Cause + Effect – think problem + solution; great for teaching how to troubleshoot or solve problems
- Simple to Complex – start basic and build to more complex ideas; gives a good foundation and confidence that they can tackle the next thing.
- Big Idea to Specific Idea – start with a big picture view of your topic, then start to get more specific and more specific with each additional piece of content; could also be viewed as showing the “whole” first, then elaborating on each “part” that makes up the whole.
- Categorical – topics that generally fit in the same category are grouped together; chronological order doesn’t really matter, just that the groupings naturally go together.
3. Type your outline.
Type up all your categories + notecard topics in an outline form – and here’s your outline for your online course! The groups + categories you created become your lessons (or some people call them modules), and the notecards in each group become the content for that lesson. You could use Word, Pages, or Google Docs to type up your outline, but I prefer Evernote (here's why).
Once you have a handful of lessons organized, you can break down each lesson even more by grouping similar content together again. This will help you develop some sub-lessons and break your content into smaller bites for your students to digest.
4. Fill in the gaps.
Once you have your outline, you can start expanding on each section with more ideas and content to further expand on your topics. Think of different ways you could present your information. Is a PDF best, or would a video be better to explain this point? Would a worksheet be helpful for the student to fill in their own answers, or would something more visual like a chart or map better fit that section? Here’s a quick list of five common types of content that you could use to share about your topic:
- lists — pros/cons, quick tips, top ten
- reference guides — quick start, shortcuts, glossary, cheat sheet, how-to
- interactive — checklist, worksheet, form, planner, fill-in-the-blank, homework
- samples — examples from your own experiences or case studies of others’
- video — screenshare tutorials, slideshow presentations, workshops, webinars
5. Set up your notes.
For my online courses, I then create a separate note in Evernote for each lesson + sub-lesson – you could use separate documents or pages if you’re using a word processing program. It makes for a lot of notes / documents, but it lets me see everything I have to expand on for each lesson in one quick glance.
You may also have a miscellaneous category for things that don’t quite fit in your other categories. This is okay! You can use these as bonuses, extra resources, or even freebies to promote whatever your course. Don’t scrap those ideas just because they don’t fit. Get creative with how you could use them to add value to your product.
These methods don't just apply to online courses – you could use this same notecard method to organize your content for an e-book, a webinar, an email course, or even a live event.
For more info on creating an online course, check out this post which includes a free download for some unique content ideas.
How do you organize content for larger products like online courses? Anyone else love getting away from the computer screen and getting back to the basics with pencil + paper every now and then?! Just me?
All morning I’ve been fighting with a toddler to eat her breakfast. Just eat. the dang. toast. She’s a little stubborn – like her mama. And her mama’s mama. And her mama’s mama’s mama. The little stubborn thing celebrated her second birthday last weekend, and as she spent most of the day with her dad, it was a bittersweet day for her mama. These early birthdays are more of a celebration for the parents than the kids, right? Celebrating the fact that you’ve kept another human alive for 2 whole years. Celebrating the fact that you’re still somewhat sane and standing upright. Remembering the day, not so long ago, that you welcomed the little thing into the world. I did all those things, but the latter is always a toughie.
The day my daughter was born was bittersweet because I was immediately a single parent. Actually, I was a single parent my entire pregnancy, but the day I finally held her in my arms, the realness of doing this job alone became overwhelmingly evident. And so her birthdays are reminders of her day of birth – and that day was not at all what I had imagined it would be. I was overjoyed to be a mother, but saddened to do it alone.Read More
Last week, I talked about a few reasons why Etsy is a good option for selling digital products online. But what’s the number one reason people shy away from selling on Etsy (at least from my unofficial research)? I’ve noticed that most people who are hesitant about selling on Etsy are worried that their product, whether physical or digital, will get lost in the shuffle. And by shuffle, I mean the literally millions of other product listings on the site, thousands of which show up every time a customer types something into that search bar.
Yes, Etsy is massive. As of today, their platform boasts over 35 million products for sale among 1.6 million active shops. Thaaaaat’s a lot.
I totally understand the daunting feeling you get when you see just how much is already on Etsy. I get asked a lot – “I want to sell XYZ product, but it looks like there are already a ton of those on Etsy. Is it worth it, or should I sell something else?”
While there are definitely a lot of the same products on Etsy, I always think there's room for everyone – as long as there's something to make yours different than all the rest.Read More
There’s no doubt digital products are on the rise, and a common question among newbies looking to break into this billion dollar industry, is where the heck do you sell them? That question elicits tons of answers, and it all depends on your personal preference, your product type, and your selling style as to which one you should host your products on. When most online entrepreneurs list off the best digital product websites, there’s one that doesn’t get included very often but deserves a spot on the list – Etsy. Etsy is typically known for it’s large community of handmade artists – which implies that it’s physical products only. But in recent years, Etsy has expanded to include digital product delivery as well, and their system is pretty slick. Combine their trusted platform, seamless checkout process, with the pool of customers coming to Etsy to search for products of all kinds, and Etsy becomes a huge contender in the digital product world.
Let’s dive into the reasons I love selling digital products on Etsy, and several other options that are out there as well that warrant some recognition.Read More
There can be a fine line between inspiration and plagiarism. It’s a gray area that a lot of Etsy shop owners (and even just creative entrepreneurs in general) are afraid to go near. With such a huge platform like Etsy, it's not hard to come across products from different shops that show eerily similar aesthetics or content. When you're just starting out as an Etsy shop owner, or just a creative business, it's easy to look to successful shops and try to emulate their style or ideas. But try to refrain – because there's a fine line between inspiration and plagiarism, and you don't want to be on the wrong side of it. Rather, when you’re creating new products or services for your shop, it's super important to make your work stand out from the crowd and not look like someone else's. Not only is this ethical, but it's also just smart. You don't want to blend in, right? By the same token, you work hard on your own business / shop and you want others to respect that. Show that same respect for your competitors, and honor the work they’ve done by being original in your own shop. After many many years on Etsy, here are a few ways I've found to help you spot the difference between inspiration and plagiarism, if you're noticing that line getting blurred.Read More