This post is brought to you by a job you actually like, a decent paycheck, the letter F, and The Forté Foundation.
I knew it was time to change careers when I found a cockroach floating in my coffee cup.
At the time, I was working as an ESL teacher at a non-profit. I worked in a not-particularly-great neighborhood in a crumbling building that, apparently, had a cockroach problem.
Now, I should tell you that I loved the teaching part of being a teacher. I loved sharing insights, leading conversations, finding new ways to communicate an idea.
But there is SO MUCH MORE to being a classroom teacher than, ya know, teaching.
There are curriculum committees and budget issues and test prep. There are concerns about students’ safety and well-being. In my specific situation, there were concerns about cockroaches in the break room (!!!!) When the cockroach appeared in my coffee cup, I’d been blogging for a few years. I’d been getting a slow but steady trickle of emails asking for help with writing, social media, and marketing.
It was the turning point when I decided that it was time to get serious about changing careers. I knew I needed to learn some new skills and make the leap from education to self-employment.
Many of us have had our own cockroach-in-the-coffee moment.
Maybe yours is working at 2 am on a Sunday or having a boss who belittles you. Maybe it’s 200 travel days a year or discovering you earn 60 percent of what your male counterparts earn.
Whatever it is that’s turning your eyes towards greener career pastures, I want you to know that changing careers is totally, totally possible—but you want to be smart about planning your next move.
When I discovered that my friend Nicole was funding her amazing podcast Real Talk Radio via Patreon I was verrrrry intrigued. No sponsors? No ad breaks? But she wasn’t doing it for free? WHAT IS THIS SORCERY.
So I obviously asked her to tell us all about it! If you’ve ever wondered what the deal is with Patreon or wanted to try it yourself – read on! *
Have you ever thought of giving up your blog to try podcasting? Or creating a blog to complement your podcast? I’ve been intrigued by podcasting for years, but the learning curve! It seems really, really high!
My friend Kathleen blogged for years before launching her podcast Being Boss as a ‘fun side project’ – and now it’s her whole job! Today, she’s breaking down the blog vs podcast argument for us so we can figure out which one is right for us!
A few weeks ago I did something exceptionally brave.
I had to psyche myself up a bit and it took a few false starts, but after a few minutes of hovering and second guessing, I did it.
I was flooded with a mix of relief and guilt. I felt the internal click of an idea sliding into place, the realization that I could do things differently than I have in the past.
And what difficult, meaningful thing did I do?
Dear readers, I clicked ‘mark all as read’ on my RSS feed.
And when I saw newsletters from some of my favorite writers and bloggers filter into my inbox? I clicked ‘delete.’
Are you audibly groaning and rolling your eyes?
I realize it might not seem like a particularly revolutionary act, but this temporary ‘opting out’ has increased my productivity and cleared my mind like nothing else.
You see, I’m deep in ‘creation mode’ at the moment, I’m ghostwriting a book for Penguin. I’m writing a book proposal for another client. I’m completely rewriting, re-marketing, Kindle-izing and Amazon-ing two of my ebooks.
And all those great articles and clever blog posts and super helpful tutorials that I usually read aren’t helping me get any closer my goals. In fact, they’re distracting and misdirecting me.
Just learned 20 blog changing tweaks?I should probably stop what I’m doing right now and implement every suggestion in that 20-point list.
Just heard about the benefits of Periscope for the 50th time? Better scope riiiiiight now!
Happened upon Regina’s beautifully formatted and optimized images? Wouldn’t it be awesome if every image in my entire archive of 2,000+ blog posts looked like that? Clearly, I should start doing that now.
So I’m making the decision to safeguard my focus and productivity. I’m putting the proverbial blinders on and keeping my eyes on my own paper. And you can do exactly the same thing if you want to.
And while any suggestion that includes the word ‘ignorance’ might give you pause, hear me out.
Intentional Ignorance gives you space to do your best work. It frees up mental energy for big, exciting projects. It allows you to focus – with laser-like intensity – on one or two things.
What Intentional Ignorance is
It’s realizing that you’ve reached mental capacity and you don’t have time for another social media platform. It’s deciding that – while you’re sure webinars are great – you’re simply not going to learn about them right now.
It’s deciding that your SEO situation is good enough because you’re focusing on something else for the time being. It’s a temporary decision to put tweaking and fine tuning on hold because you’re busy putting E-V-E-R-Y-T-H-I-N-G into one (or two) projects.
What Intentional Ignorance isn’t
It’s not a long-term strategy. It’s not an excuse to ignore advances and changes in your field. Intentional Ignorance won’t save you when Google and Facebook change their algorithms.
How you can add a little Intentional Ignorance to your business life
Allot a specific amount of time for your information sabbatical
When are you going to resurface? A week after you launch your product? Once you’re done promoting your new ebook? January 1st? It’ll feel more professional (and less flakey) if you choose an end date.
Choose an area of interest and stick with it
If you’re working on defining your writing voice, those are the blog posts you should be reading, the webinars you should be watching, and the newsletters you should be opening. If doesn’t address the topic you’re working on, you officially have my permission to ignore it. (In the event that you need permission from some stranger on the internet.)
Resist the urge to pin/save/sort things that you’ll ‘read later’
I know, I know. You imagine resurfacing from your romance with Intentional Ignorance and actually clicking through everything you’ve filed in your ‘professional development’ folder.
I’m here to tell you that a) that won’t happen b) all those unread newsletters carry an immeasurable psychic weight. They make you feel bad just sitting there, all unread! Dude, delete them. That’s what Google is for. When you’re ready, you can just type ‘how to get more blog sponsors‘ into that search box.
Consider dialing back your other commitments + responsibilities
If you’re in the depths of a huge project, you should be intentional with your information consumption and intentional with your energy.
“Uuuuugh, everything on the internet is just listicles and reaction gifs.” “Nobody uses punctuation anymoooooooore!” “If I see another pale pink or gold anything I’m going to dig my eyeballs out with this spoon.”
Such were the complaints leveled against blogging at my most recent Internet Lady Brunch.
As we sipped our overpriced lattes, my ladies and I opened up our RSS feeds and tried to recommend blogs to each other.
Were any of us reading anything the others should know about? Was anyone writing interesting, hilarious, weird, personal stuff? Was there an oasis of good writing somewhere among the Buzzfeed lists? Not that we could find.
I realize, of course, that I’m just as guilty of listicles and caps lock as anyone else. And honestly, you should probably be writing how-tos and list posts BECAUSE THAT ISH WORKS.
Be that as it may, I miss the joy of discovering a new blog or Twitter feed or Instagram account that I immediately tell my BFF about. I miss becoming so emotionally involved in a blogger’s life that when they break up with their boyfriend I send them a pep talk email.*
So in the name of refreshing our RSS feeds, making new online friends, and finding new reading material for this, the back-to-school season, here are my five favorite ways to find awesome new blogs.
How to find new blogs
1. Go to a blog you know/like/trust and click through their sponsors and ‘friends’ tabs
In a perfect world, every blogger is intentional and selective about the sponsors they accept; they (hopefully) choose sponsors they know will resonate with their readers. Take advantage of that curation and click through! I discovered some of my favorite blogs because they bought ad space on Yes and Yes!
2. Click through the comments on your favorite blogs
Do you love the DIYs and recipes of A Beautiful Mess? So do all the commenters – and I bet a lot of them have sweet, DIY-filled blogs. Do you like the motherhood, family vibe on Bleubird? Her comments are probably filled with other mommy bloggers.
5. Click through link roundups and then subscribe in an RSS feed
If I had a nickel for every time I found an awesome blog through a friend’s link roundup and then forgot about said blog … I’d have like 85 cents. If you find something or someone awesome, follow along somewhere – on Twitter, Facebook, in an RSS feed or subscribe to their newsletter. Do something so you won’t lose them in the shuffle of Buzzfeed lists and photos of lattes.
My favorite blogs/Instagram feeds/Twitter feeds you might not know about:
Hosting a workshop is a lot like hosting a well-planned dinner party. You want to get together with a heap of your best client pals, talk about The Things That You’re All Really Good At and Love to Do, and encourage each other on ways to become even better at your business and life.
But it all seems so overwhelming. Where do I start? Do I pick a date and then pick a space? How to I set up my agenda?
Oooof! Professional workshop planner Lauren is here to rescue us! Thankfully!
How to host your first workshop
Step 1: Decide on your ‘Take Home’ idea
This is the most important step, and it’s the one that will set the tone for the rest of your event as well as the agenda.
Wanting your attendees to go home having set up their online mailing lists and gained each other as subscribers? You’ll probably want a creative studio with ample projection solutions, and WiFi to keep everyone working all day long.
Teaching a photography + styling workshop to brand-new photographers? You’ll want an open airy loft with lots of light, and lots of space to set different styling scenarios.
Hosting a mastermind style workshop where everyone gets to know each other’s businesses intimately? Think about a cozy hotel space or an inviting yoga studio during off hours.
Step 2: Search for a venue
This is my super secret trick for finding unique, budget-friendly venues:
Google ‘Event Space + (your city)’. Google ‘Coworking Space + (your city)’ and see if they offer event rentals on weekends. Google ‘Best wedding venues + (your city)’.
(That last one is actually so I can get a list of hotels or unexpected venues that have ballrooms that might also have small, funky conference-style spaces).
I also always check out Evenues or Air BnB to see if those spaces are cheaper (and if your event isn’t going to be huge).
Once you get the venue sussed, you can set a date and start selling tickets!
Step 3: Sort your budget
Once you’ve got your venue picked, you can suss your pricing structure. If the venue includes tables, chairs, and audiovisual, I’d say that should be about 50% – 60% of your budget. Other things to make decisions on are:
Food: If people are there for longer than 2 hours, give ‘em a snack and some coffee. Longer than 4? Lunch would be so nice!
Swag: Treat your guests like gold with a little goody bag! Either use it as a way to brand yourself with pens, mugs (especially if you’re serving coffee at your event), a journal, and something pretty like a motivational art print or your favorite industry magazine.
(PRO TIP: You can also reach out to your community to see if they’d contribute swag as a form of sponsorship!)
Decor: If budget allows (and you’re up for it), a few fresh blooms in some mason jars are an instant space spiffer-upper. If the tables you’re using need a covering, consider renting or buying white table linens to make the space look clean and neat.
Step 4: Host your event
Pretend you’re in school (but way more fun!). Take breaks often (every 60 minutes – 1.5 hours), leave plenty of space for chit chat, and don’t get too overwhelmed if people are asking more questions than you anticipated. It’s all a part of the process!
I highly recommend bringing a Hype Girl, aka a trusted friend who is a tiny bit Type A to help check people in when they arrive, call the space manager if the projector blows a bulb, and set out lunch for your guests while you’re wrapping up the morning session.
Have you ever hosted an event or workshop? I’d love to hear your tips in the comments!