Watch me launch a website LIVE

I talk a lot about building your online platform. I really think ANYONE can start a little online business that can help them make a little money on the side, or raise their public profile or help promote their cause.

Anyone can do this. Anyone! This is more or less what Gary Vaynerchuk talks about it Crush It! You can just figure out what tiny little niche you love, and work on connecting with the other weirdos who love it too.

So I’m gonna do it. Are you busy August 8? Because I am going to be online that morning, and I thought you might want to join me.

On August 8 I will be setting up a new minisite LIVE online!

That sounds weird, right? So here’s the deal:

About a year ago I registered a URL for a little niche site I wanted to set up. I’ve been putting it off and putting it off because it involves creating a *bunch* of content that I just haven’t had time for. But I LOVE the niche – it’s so close to my heart and something I’m involved in anyway and (let’s be honest), if I can figure out some way to make it part of my business I will love my job that much more.

I’ve been brainstorming how and when to launch this little niche site…..  But, the more I think about it, the more I realize some of you might be interested in what I’m doing and why I’m doing it.

So, Friday, August 8 at 9:30am PT I’m going to get on Google+ and do a LIVE hangout and show you what I’m doing to create this new site.*

I have no idea how long it will take, or what *exactly* will be included. I have a big to-do list, but I’m going to stay flexible. The site will be called TravelScrap HQ, and I’m pretty excited! I believe it will be recorded and I’ll put together my whole to-do list and related resources so you can launch your own minisite.

And the whole event is totally free! I hope you’ll join me!

Make sure you’re on my email list and I’ll send a reminder that morning.

*Note: Specific technical steps with secure info like setting up an email address and creating a Pinterest account will NOT be done live. But I will tell you about all of those steps and do everything that is *not* security related live.

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in blogging, BUILD YOUR PLATFORM

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Connect Guest Blogging ebook redesigned!

Connect: Guest posting templateGood news! Another one of my ebooks has now been redesigned by Alexandra Rae Design to match L&R branding!

I could not be happier.

Grab yours: Connect: A simple template to make guest posting work for you

I love the practice of guest posting – both giving and receiving. In the 6+ years I’ve been blogging, I’ve have DEFINITELY found guest posting to be one of the most effective ways of promoting my site.

Guest posts are valuable as marketing, as a form of networking or as just a way of connecting with a new audience.

When pitching your guest post, what is the best way to make that post work for YOU – instead of just the blog’s owner?

Guest posting can be used for

  • Marketing. Growing your audience, gaining a few more customers, increasing your visibility.
  • Networking. You will start to connect with new readers and other blog authors and start to gain name recognition in your little industry
  • Practice. Practice practice practice. Writing well takes practice and the more you do it the better you will be.

I try to brainstorm a guest post whenever I’m sponsoring a site, as well as every couple months in between sponsoring a site.

But any guest post I write, I always have a goal. I always have a reason for the guest post. And I always give that new audience a reason to come visit Lemon and Raspberry. And it has WORKED. Worked to grow my audience (in REAL numbers). Worked to make sales (tracked directly to guest posts).

I figure, if it’s working for me if can work for you too ….

Written by me and designed by Allie Trumpower, Connect contains the basic structure to help you build a guest post that both connects with new readers, and guides them to follow-up with you to help grow your business or blog audience.

The simple structure outlined in this pdf is easy-to-use and perfectly adaptable to any subject or niche you may be blogging about.

This guest post template – Connect – gives specific steps to crafting a guest post that is both promotional for your new product or service, but also intimately connects with the reader in a way that does not feel “salesy”.

Add to Cart

Download yours and let me know if you have questions and how guest posting has worked for you!

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in blogging, BUILD YOUR PLATFORM

Your choices are not the only right ones

A few months before I was able to quit my job, but after Andrew and I had started talking about that being the goal, I saw a long-time-friend-of-the-family who has 3 kids a bit younger than me… We talked about my hopes and L&R and what I was working on and all the reasons I needed to leave my day job.

And to all of this talk of career and goals, she replied, “And, of course, now is really the time you need to take care of your home, and take care of your husband and take care of your marriage.”

I am sure she would never deliberately be rude to me, nor do I think she was judging me …..  but the way she said this sounds like her choice of staying home with her kids and not working outside the home for 20+ years is the only “right” way to live and something I “should” be doing if I wanted my marriage to work.

Even though my marriage is awesome (waaaay better than some). Even though (aside from the day job) I was perfectly happy. My husband is proud of me and wants to support my work.

I’ve talked about this before – I don’t have it all together.

But neither do I regret my choices.

Choosing to live on one small income while Andrew went to school. Choosing to move to one of the most expensive cities in the country. Choosing to buy a house that needs a lot of work. Choosing to continue to work the day job until we could save a little bit of money.

And, now, choosing to NOT work the day job even though the choice drastically reduced our income. Now, I’m sure, we have friends who think we’re being crazy because now we don’t have money for vacations, or landscaping for the backyard or a new iPhone. While I sit at home all day and read history books or build little websites.

It doesn’t matter what you are choosing to do – someone else will be choosing the exact opposite for incredibly valid reasons.*

Having me working from home is not something Andrew and I feel we are supposed to do because of gender roles. Nor is it something we are doing to impress anyone. We are the first to admit that having me not work a full-time day job is the biggest luxury that we are choosing despite not having any extra cash.

So … Try not to make hasty judgements or unrealistic expectations because you will never know what someone else is dealing with….. And remember to “be kind, for everyone you meet is fighting a hard battle”.

*Caveat: Of course, there are always those heinous and destructive decisions that are never a good idea, but let’s all agree that’s not what we’re talking about here and that even the people who make those decisions THINK they have valid reasons.

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in dreaming and planning, FIND YOUR GREAT WORK, happiness is

Giveaway and Review: SPARK ecourse

review spark ecourseMy brain stops working about mid-afternoon and my energy gets depleted after about 6 months of hard work. I can’t help it. I’m not Beyonce. Sometimes a girl just needs to reset everything and start again.

I’ve let myself have a slow 2014 so far, but around about May or so I started feeling like I would never get it back. My drive. My insane ambition and focus and ability to finish things. My awesome friend Kam happened to launch her new SPARK ecourse about that time (lucky for me) and I have spent the last few weeks going through all her tips to help rekindle that fire that I used to have for blogging.

Kam is one of the smartest bloggers people I know; I am always so grateful when she has time to help me talk through my own overwhelm and BLAH.

And now I have a few live events coming up, and I’ve gotten so much done and I honestly feel so ready to kick my blog into high gear come this fall.

What is the SPARK ecourse?

Spark will take you through the 30 day process of getting out of a blogging rut. It’s an email based course so the daily content is delivered straight to your inbox – no hassle of remembering a password to some website you’ll only visit once or twice. Some of the tasks are a little unconventional, but if you trust the process and you have a little fun while finding your spark, you’ll understand why Kam included some of the sillier things with each email. This is the prescription she gave herself to halt her blogger burnout in January. In fact, I’m sure she used some of the lessons again recently when she was burning ALL of the midnight oil.

To be honest, for me the daily emails were too much. I barely have time to manage my inbox as-is and an extra email plus task every day was more than I could handle. BUT all I did was create a folder in my email account, file them away and revisit them when I could. It probably took me close to 60 days to get through the 30 day course (and that doesn’t include adding some tasks to my calendar for the future).

That is how full and thorough the SPARK ecourse is. Each email has a main task – including why it matters and easy ways to break it down – plus another small handful of external resources for additional reading.

I’ve got so many ideas now!

Plans I have after taking the SPARK ecourse:

  • Reconfigure my workspace. I need a dedicated one instead of just taking my laptop all over the house
  • Pitch some guest posts. Particularly to promote the new tiny niche site I will be launching next month.
  • Add more to my ‘working’ playlist. It’s not quite long enough yet.
  • Scheduled a re-read of the SPARK emails starting Jan 1
  • … plus a few more things I have spread out over the next 6 months.

CLICK HERE to register and join me!

Even better? Use discount code SPARKLEMON for 20% off

 

…or you can enter below to win a spot! There are several ways to enter and odds of winning depend on how many entries are received. One winner will be randomly selected by Rafflecopter and will be notified via email by the end of next week.

 

a Rafflecopter giveaway

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Take time off

Don’t forget – you need to set aside your to-do list for a few days. Take time off. Take a sabbatical. Here are some more resources and inspiration:

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in BUILD YOUR PLATFORM, dreaming and planning, entrepreneurs, productivity

What I learned on my sabbatical

2 weeks ago week I wasn’t here.

I mean I was ‘here’ in my house, but there were no blog posts going up here at Lemon and Raspberry. I gave myself a teeny tiny sabbatical. For a lot of reasons, but mostly because I am really working on NURTURing this year. Time off is totally part of that.

When I was in grad school I was fascinated by the idea of sabbaticals. One of my thesis advisers was on sabbatical the semester I graduated so I had to find someone to take her place on my thesis defense panel. She studied early American literature, material culture and women’s studies, primarily. If I remember correctly, she had gone to England for her sabbatical to do research for her next book Women and Things.

The idea of a sabbatical was totally new to me at that time. You’re telling me that you’re taking MONTHS off of your regular job to go do some side (work-related) project that interests you? And they’re paying you? I admit, I was definitely tempted to go into academia.

Unfortunately, working for yourself isn’t the same thing. I am slowly (slowly) building up my passive income so I can give myself mini-sabbaticals here and there, but for now just a week off has been so great! I was so ready to return and jump back in to the work I love.

So, what did I do when there weren’t posts going up on the blog? I … wrote blog posts for the following week. I finished brainstorming the BUILD virtual retreat. I wrote Andrew 33 love notes for his birthday present. I wrote an entire short story (in 1 afternoon). I read for fun. I chatted with my brother about self-publishing. I caught up on some (long-ish) videos I have been saving.

These are all things I would have done anyway, but not having to think about L&R posts gave me a little cushion of a few hours to focus on these other projects.

I feel so much more productive now that I’ve given myself that teeny tiny break!

It’s remarkable how much good a little bit of rest can do.

Coincidentally, that week happened to be the same time that all of Andrew’s work stress finally caught up with him and he spent hours in Urgent Care and a fancy schmancy chiropractor because he couldn’t move his shoulders or arms. I literally had to roll up his sleeves for him one of the days. He couldn’t shave because he hurt so bad. This isn’t a new phenomenon. 2 years ago he landed in the emergency room because of stress.

He was told to take time off to rest. Yea, like that is going to happen. He regularly works 90 hours each week and has some very stressful responsibilities. But! Saturday being his birthday, he actually got most of the day off work. He ….. well, he kind of rested. He spent a good portion of the day going through boxes of CDs deciding to get rid of some. But, for Andrew organizing like that IS relaxing.

And, what do you know? Just that Saturday afternoon and evening rest helped so much that Sunday morning he woke up and almost had full mobility of his shoulders again.

So, when are you going to take time off?

Take out your calendar. Block off a day. Or two. Or 7. Release yourself from your regular responsibilities. Just for a little while.

You’ll love it. And then you’ll be so energized to return.

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in BUILD YOUR PLATFORM, dreaming and planning, FIND YOUR GREAT WORK, productivity

LIVE: Virtual retreat for BUILDers

Mark your calendars! I will be hosting the first virtual BUILD retreat August 22 – 24.

virtual retreatYou *must* be a registered BUILDer to attend, so be sure you join now! It’s the best time to jump in – the price of BUILD will be raising on September 1 to reflect all the extra content that has been added in over the last year since it was originally launched.

Which means, if you register now you will be getting:

  • Lifetime access to the full (giant) self-paced ecourse (including any and all additions)
  • Access to the private mastermind Facebook group
  • Access to the virtual retreat in August
  • The original price before it goes up!

Plus, of course, you will have the blog-building tools right at your fingertips for a big fall push!

This is the perfect opportunity to set aside some sacred focus time to get done what you want to get done.

The BUILD ecourse is self-paced, so I know everyone will be working on their own thing. The retreat will be structured as a series of themed Q&A live events, so if you are working on building your email list you can pick my brain during the marketing session, or if you are working on your editorial calendar, jump on for the content section. This format allows me to exactly personalize the weekend experience for the BUILDers who attend.

Please note: We will all be in different time zones, but I would be useless at 3am, so you will be able to submit your questions ahead of time.

Schedule:

Friday, August 22:

  • 7pm ET: General mixer and discussing goals

Saturday, August 23:

  • 10am ET: Design
  • 3pm ET: Content
  • 8pm ET: Monetization

Sunday, August 24:

  • 11am ET: Marketing
  • 3pm ET: Maintenance
  • 8pm ET: Congrats! You did it!

There is a private Facebook event where links and discussion can be posted. Plus each Q&A will be recorded and live in the BUILD ecourse content, so you can come back and listen as many times as you like.

Be sure you REGISTER soon – so you can jump in to the virtual retreat!

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in blogging, BUILD YOUR PLATFORM, Lemon and Raspberry

September Journaling: 30 Days of Lists returns!

30lists kam30 Days of Lists is returning!

So very soon! Registration will be open in a month (August 4, actually. Be sure you’re on the mailing list for first news).

Last week Kam and I had a Skype chat (3 hours!) to talk about details, dates, and how to make this round of Listing even more special!

(I’ve already grabbed what I need to make my list book. Going to be EASY this round!)

This is now the 10th round of listing we have done together – and each time is just as new and just as fun! We love how many of you have joined us time and again!

Registration opens Monday, August 4, but in the meantime we have so much to do! Coordinating with sponsors and affiliates (spots filled the first day), lining up the exclusive designed products for registered Listers, writing all the email blasts to remind you when to register, adding inspiration to our Pinterest board … and on and on.

I can’t wait! Running 30 Days of Lists twice a year is both a roller coaster of adrenaline and oddly comforting. We’ve been doing this since early 2011 …. which is a century in internet time! You can see my previous #30Lists posts here or follow the hashtag on Twitter and Instagram.

Don’t forget to sign up for the email list to get first news of registration August 4.

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in 30 Days of Lists, TELL YOUR STORY