One of the questions I am asked frequently by writers of all stages is how to balance writing and marketing with the demands of real life. Woo, is that a tough question! The struggle is real!  It’s definitely something I’ve been working on in my own life. Recently, I’ve been thinking a lot about FOCUS and the creative person’s tendency to get distracted by  OMGALLTHESHINIES  and/or procrastinate important tasks in favor of watching nerdy historical videos on Youtube (not that I do that *shifty eyes*).  This week, as I was watching my husband teach a ballet partnering class and repeatedly tell an inexperienced dancer to  look  where she wanted to go (in this case, UP!), it hit me.  Balance is all about FOCUS.  If we’re constantly looking around and trying to go a bunch of different directions at once (I call this shiny squirrel syndrome…it’s a thing), we will spin in circles and fall on our face. BUT, if we actually focus consistently on where we want to go and what we want to do, we might actually make progress toward our dreams—and feel much less frazzled in the process.  Sometimes more isn’t always better. I’m always over-thinking things. Making them more complicated than they have to be. Or letting myself get caught up in the details instead of focusing all my efforts on what will move the needle most in my writing life and business.  Sound familiar? So, how do we learn to focus and achieve better balance in our lives?            For me, the key has been  simplifying.  I create a path based on my Top Three Goals. Let me explain what I mean.   Step #1 : I pick my top three goals for the quarter. I do this for my life, marketing efforts/business, and my writing.    Step #2 : I write down what it will take to accomplish those goals, and break it down into my top three (and only three!) for each month and week.    Step #3 : I prioritize my top three goals. Life happens. Stuff comes up. Just this week my husband and I’s phones died and he was in a car wreck. Prioritizing your goals based on what will move the needle the most (aka give you the most progress in your life/marketing/business for the effort) will tell you where to  focus  your limited time and resources when life happens and you can only get one or maybe two of the three done.    Step #4 : At the beginning of each week, I look at my schedule and top three goals in each category, and decide what needs to happen when in order of priority. Then I do the  most important task first, then the second, etc.  This helps keep me from procrastinating and wasting time on unimportant tasks that are “more fun.”    Step #5 : At the end of the week/month, I re-evaluate. What progress did I make on my goals? Do I need to reassign anything? Alter my goals and priorities to make them more realistic? Simplify my efforts or postpone a project?            Proper planning and prioritizing doesn’t keep setbacks and life disappointments from happening. But it WILL help you focus on what’s most strategic and important, so you can maintain the delicate balance and make progress toward your goals  without  feeling frazzled and overwhelmed.       Question of the Week: What are your top three goals for this month?

Balance is all about FOCUS.

If we’re constantly looking around and trying to go a bunch of different directions at once (I call this shiny squirrel syndrome…it’s a thing), we will spin in circles and fall on our face. BUT, if we actually focus consistently on where we want to go and what we want to do, we might actually make progress toward our dreams—and feel much less frazzled in the process.

     

  

  	
       
      
         
          
             
                  
             
          

          

         
      
       
    

  


     Your visual brand is what most people think of when they hear the word “brand.” It's what they see when they visit your website, check out your logo, or follow you on social media. It’s the colors, fonts, and images that tell your audience who you are and what to expect from your work.  But your visual brand is only a small part of the puzzle. Your aesthetics aren’t your brand any more than your clothes are the real YOU.   Visual branding is just the outward style that represents your inner story. That's why it's so important to create a visual brand that feels authentic to you and your story.  So, what story do you want to tell?                Think about your stories and characters. What colors or imagery come to mind? Do you write fun, whimsical fairy tale retellings for a YA audience? Maybe you can represent that whimsical feel with pastel colors and scripted fonts for an old-fashioned feel.   Do you write fast-paced action thrillers or psychological mysteries? Perhaps the imagery you use to represent your personality and your stories should use darker, bold colors and fonts. Make it edgy and a show the tension.   Think about how you want your reader to feel when they see your visual aesthetic. Try to represent the feelings you evoke in your writing with your graphics, photography style, and color scheme.   Just like fashion stylists use color, shape, and texture to create a visual aesthetic that promotes a certain feeling or idea, you can use them to create a visual brand that authentically attracts your ideal readers.    Action Step: Create a Pinterest board of images that you like and seem to fit your personality and the tone or imagery in your stories.    Note what colors and ideas tend to be common. Choose three fonts (a fun font for your primary header, a basic font for your sub-headings, and a simple body copy font) and three colors (two neutrals and a “pop” color) for your visual brand. Create a photo collage to represent your brand and refer back to it often.        

  

  	
       
      
         
          
             
                  
             
          

          

         
      
       
    

  


           

  

  	
       
      
         
          
             
                  
             
          

          

         
      
       
    

  


     Want to learn more about creating a stand-out author brand that converts potential readers into life-long fans?  Get access to my FREE workbook, “5 Steps to a Tribe-Building Author Brand.”      
 
	 Get your free workbook!

Your visual brand is what most people think of when they hear the word “brand.” It's what they see when they visit your website, check out your logo, or follow you on social media. It’s the colors, fonts, and images that tell your audience who you are and what to expect from your work.

But your visual brand is only a small part of the puzzle. Your aesthetics aren’t your brand any more than your clothes are the real YOU. 

Visual branding is just the outward style that represents your inner story. That's why it's so important to create a visual brand that feels authentic to you and your story.

So, what story do you want to tell? 

     

  

  	
       
      
         
          
             
                  
             
          

          

         
      
       
    

  


      Sometimes it can be hard to condense all the ideas floating around in your head into a cohesive, clear vision for WHY you write and WHO you’re writing to.    Can I get an amen?  So,  today we’re going to look at a simple tool I use to clarify your vision for your writing and why you go through the pain and frustration of the author journey.  Hint: It has to do with your WHY and your audience.    It’s called an author purpose statement.  Here’s an example:       Hi, I'm Jennifer and I'm a YA fantasy author writing for teen girls, ages 16-18, struggling with    body image and self-image issues. I help them embrace their natural shape, so they can be    confident in the person they were created to be.      Simple and straightforward, right? Let’s unpack this a little bit. What are the elements covered in this author purpose statement?      Hi, I'm    [NAME]    and I'm a    [BOOK GENRE]    author writing for    [YOUR IDEAL READER]    who are    struggling with    [THEIR BIGGEST FEAR/STRUGGLE]   . I help them    [MINDSET SHIFT]   , so they can     [POSITIVE IMPACT ON THEIR LIFE]   .      Okay. So, now we can see the puzzle pieces that make up this very clear vision. What does this look like for you?       STEP #1: What’s your book genre?  This includes sub-genres as well, like steampunk, space opera, urban fantasy, etc. A clear statement of your (sub)genre  tells your reader what to expect . This lowers the risk for them, and makes them more likely to buy your book.       STEP #2: Who is your ideal reader?  If you’re not sure who is your ideal reader (or how to start finding them),  start with last week’s blog post  on identifying your ideal reader. This includes information like age, life stage, etc. Hint: If you’re writing YA, your audience is teenagers.       STEP #3: What is your ideal reader’s biggest struggle or insecurity?  This is super, super important to know about your readers. I suggest creating an ideal reader profile with this information. More about how to uncover your ideal reader’s deepest struggles in  my FREE workbook, “5 Steps to a Tribe-Building Author Brand.”        Step #4: What mindset shift do you want to see in your readers?  At its heart, we write stories to communicate with our readers. Yes, we want them to be entertaining. But we also want to emotionally engage with our readers and impact them in some way. Maybe you want to encourage your readers through a tough time, or help them not feel alone in their struggles. Think about what shift you want to create in your readers’ thoughts and emotions.       Step #5: What positive, tangible change do you want to see in your readers’ lives?  Maybe they have the courage to ask for that raise, stand up to a bully, or launch their own business. Maybe they stop placing their identity in others’ opinions, and start doing what they love (no matter what someone else thinks). This is key to your purpose statement. It’s WHY you write.      Okay, time to bring it together!  Plug your answers into the author purpose statement. Does it feel clear? Authentic? 100 percent in line with you and your passions? If not, tweak it. Get more specific. If anything feels fuzzy or not quite right, dig deeper and get more specific.    Then, take this purpose statement and apply it to everything writing and business. Use it as the filter for your marketing. For the types of stories you tell. For the way you speak to your audience.    Show you know your ideal readers and can help inspire them to overcome their biggest fears and struggles, and achieve their dreams.        Craft your author purpose statement, and then post it in the comments! Who are you writing for and why?            

  

  	
       
      
         
          
             
                  
             
          

          

         
      
       
    

  


     Want to learn more?   Get access to  my FREE workbook, “5 Steps to a Tribe-Building Author Brand.”       
 
	 Learn more

Sometimes it can be hard to condense all the ideas floating around in your head into a cohesive, clear vision for WHY you write and WHO you’re writing to.

Can I get an amen?

So, today we’re going to look at a simple tool I use to clarify your vision for your writing and why you go through the pain and frustration of the author journey. Hint: It has to do with your WHY and your audience.

It’s called an author purpose statement. Here’s an example…

     

  

  	
       
      
         
          
             
                  
             
          

          

         
      
       
    

  


     Who is your ideal reader? Do you even know?  (If your answer is “No frickin clue,” don’t worry. You’re not alone).  Identifying your audience is a vital step to connecting with your audience and building a tribe of life-long fans. But the reality is, most authors have no idea where to start! Today I’m taking you through a few simple steps to identify your ideal reader and begin making those connections!      Tip #1: Get to know yourself!    You're going to find it easiest to connect with readers who (*shocked gasp*) are most like you. Amazing, right? I always tell my coaching clients to think of marketing as less like selling a product and more like making new nerdy friends and fangirling with them.    So, what do you like? What hobbies do you enjoy? What books have you read recently or what tv show/movie did you binge last weekend? Think about how the things you love come out in your story. These are all potential connection points with your ideal reader. What are common characteristics of people you like to hang out with? Why do those interactions feel natural?  Most of the time, our ideal reader looks a lot like the face in the mirror.       Action Step: Make a list of 10 potential connection points with your readers.        Tip #2 Get to know your reader demographic   People go through different stages in life, and those seasons dramatically affect what characters and stories will resonate with them. Think about your genre and niche. What age is your main character? That is often about the same age (or a few years ahead) of your ideal reader.   For example, if you're writing YA fantasy, you are writing for teens 13-18 years old. What life issues are relevant to that age range? Common themes are identity, self-image, finding purpose in life, acceptance, and social issues like bullying or racism.    Action step: What is the age of your ideal reader? What life stage are they in? What life issues are they dealing with right now?        Tip #3: Get to know your ideal readers' fears, desires, and struggles.    What fears and insecurities are your characters in your books facing? What are your potential readers struggling with right now? What do they desire most?   You want your readers to have a strong emotional connection to your story and your characters' journey. Your reader loves your book because they experience the hero's journey and, in the process, find courage to overcome their own life challenges. Touching on your readers' fears and struggles help your reader to become emotionally invested in your story.   You have to know your readers at a heart level to speak into their lives in a meaningful way.   Action Step: What are your ideal readers' top three fears, struggles, and desires?       Now that you know a bit more about your ideal reader, I challenge you to dig deeper. Get even more specific. Create a detailed profile of your ideal reader, just like you would a character in your novels.   The better you know your ideal reader, the more you'll be able to make lasting meaningful connections. Remember, it's all about relationship! In your books and marketing, your goal is to make your ideal reader feel like you can see into their mind and are speaking directly to them, so they emotionally connect with you and your stories!   Want to learn more?   Watch my Facebook live video Q&A on Identifying Your Ideal Reader  .      

  

  	
       
      
         
          
             
          
             
                  
             
          
             
          

          

         
      
       
    

  


    
 
	 Get access to your FREE workbook!

Who is your ideal reader? Do you even know?

(If your answer is “No frickin clue,” don’t worry. You’re not alone).

Identifying your audience is a vital step to connecting with your audience and building a tribe of life-long fans. But the reality is, most authors have no idea where to start! Today I’m taking you through a few simple steps to identify your ideal reader and begin making those connections!