There will always be things that I’m dealing with. There will always be that sense of ebb and flow through seasons, times where my life seems more peaceful than others. But my happiness doesn’t depend on those circumstances.

Learning all the Time

In the last year, I have been on a journey of learning how to market my personal brand. It has been interesting and challenging, especially as I don't usually have as much time to devote to it as I would like.

Even though I have been a musician for, well, my whole life, and even though I took music in college, most of my business experience has been in fields not related to being an artist. When I went through Red Deer College, their business track was still separate from their other tracks, and I chose Composition. (Thankfully, they have since remedied that, and ALL music students now take a business class, which is as it should be.)

What bits and pieces I have picked up over the years for how to market myself (which eventually grew to include being a designer and author), and the changes implemented, were gained haphazardly and in pieces, without much rhyme nor reason behind them. Okay, so I needed a musician's website. I got one in 2010. Now what? I already had a family blog, which I maintained regularly, and maintaining a separate, "music-only" blog was a lot of work. In fact, by that time, I think I had four blogs on the go that were aimed at each of my different ventures, and the only one I could seem to update with any regularity (or garner much following on) was my personal, family blog. There was just too much to do!

And I needed a Facebook page, apparently. So I got one to go with every blog, plus one more for my Young Living business. Whew! That's a lot of work, too! (I still have all of those. I am seriously thinking of paring down.)

Last year, as I finally reached the lesson in Holly Lisle's "How to Think Sideways - Novel-Writing Course" about building your author platform, I realized that I was spread way too thin to actually have any time at all left to do what I really want to do to earn a living--namely, write books, music, and knitting patterns. So after thinking long and hard, I decided that all of those things were part of me, the creative me, and all of those things (plus my family blog, which I love, and other people seemed to like to read) could live and breathe in the same space on the web, just like they do in my head.

On any given day, I will spend time:

  • working on the revision or formatting of my upcoming story
  • thinking about and/or writing my next novel
  • thinking about and/or working on my next knitting design
  • blogging
  • thinking about and/or writing a song or arranging music I have already written
  • putting in volunteer hours for Heart4Children Canada

Now, granted, I only have SO much time. So those things do NOT all happen on the same day (or rarely.) Usually, 3-4 of those happen on any given day, and I try to make sure that all of them happen every single week.

So, that is why I redesigned my web presence last summer and created the new, improved Now, instead of maintaining nearly a dozen sites (plus associated social media) really, really poorly, I figured I would have a shot at doing a handful of things well, or at least better than I had been. So far, that's been working out pretty well, but there is still room for improvement.

It was also thanks to Holly Lisle that I started using Twitter for the first time ever. I kinda had to be dragged kicking and screaming, because I already had enough things taking up my time. And honestly, some days I wondered if the time invested in building a Twitter following would be worth it and pay off in the end.

But! It was because of someone's post on Twitter that I found the awesome website of Kristen Lamb, and started following her blog. Not to mention, I really have met some very cool and interesting people on Twitter, and have even met other musical theatre composers (which, strangely, there are not a lot of in the Peace Country!) Kristen Lamb's passion is to teach other writers how to succeed, and a good part of what she teaches is the effective use of social media.

I have lapped it up, in the small bites I have had the time to chew on it.

Then, I got asked to teach a class on Online Marketing. After my initial reaction of "I don't think I'm qualified", I thought about it and realized that even though I may not be an "expert" yet, I do know a lot. I definitely know a few things not to do. However, I thought it might be a good idea to gain a little more information from a real expert. So on Tuesday night, I bought Kristen Lamb's book and started reading.

WOW! The stuff in there is blowing my mind. On the one hand, it has been gratifying to know that some of the steps I have already taken (motivated by the desire to preserve my sanity) such as gathering all my different creative aspects into one place were the right thing to do. There are a few other things I have been doing right, too. Yay!

And I wouldn't say that I have been doing anything wrong, precisely, except maybe blundering around without much of a plan. I had vague notions of what I wanted to accomplish, but no real direction on how to get there, and not much evidence that what I was doing would get me there, either.

I am SO excited about what I am learning. The more I learn, and more experience I have, the more I can see how achievable my goals and dreams are, with consistent work and effort. I know, we hear that all the time, right? But doing the wrong kind of work will not get you what you want. Tinkering with the tractor all day, every day will not get the field plowed.

So often, young artists are willing to put in the work to achieve their dreams (I know I was, and still am), but have absolutely NO idea what that work should be. The advice one receives is often vague and hazy, because those who made it as musicians and writers using traditional models don't know how to do it in this brave new digital world (and they don't really need to), and the few runaway internet successes (like Justin Bieber) often seem to get there more through chance than actual work--but those are what young people look at and try to emulate as "the way to do it." With an actual plan, one knows what steps need to be taken to achieve the goal. Steps that have a track record of success for hundreds of other people. And suddenly, the work required does not seem so daunting, or the dream so frustrating.

Kristen's book is geared toward authors. However, as someone who writes more than just books, I think the advice is applicable to anyone whose brand is themselves. When she talks about selling books, substitute your own product. The advice she gives about how to use social media is applicable across the board--and in fact, I will be able to incorporate parts of that into my retail, investment-capital-business, too.

Do you have any great resources for online marketing that you would recommend? What are your top five favourite social media platforms for your own online marketing?

Happy Thursday, friends!

Happy Anniversary at the Winters Day In(n)

I was so intent on posting my newsletter yesterday that I completely forgot that it was also my one-year blogaversary, too! I've been mentally planning this post since before Christmas, but I think it shows a new level in the evolution of procrastination to be planning a post that far in advance, and to still not write it until one day late. Heh. (And that does not, by any stretch, guarantee that the content will be any more worthwhile than normal, just because I've planned it for three months instead of three minutes.)

Blog This!

I have started using my family as marketing tools.

I realize this is not a new strategy. People have been doing it since the first kid said "Daddy said I could!" to his mother's stern face, hoping she would buy it.

Except I'm not actually trying to get anyone to buy anything. All I'm advertising is this page you're sitting on. This one. Right here. (And all the other ones on my URL.)

Good for the head. Good for the heart.

"When I was a kid I learned how the world was. I held my paper up to the light and traced out what I saw, true in every detail. I neither learn nor see as well now as I did then, and I can't keep up with all the adjustments to the lines of my tracing. Instead, I've learned to love the blurred lines. I tell myself this." A. Scott White

What's in a blog?

Well, I am finally joining the ranks of those who post their thoughts, ideas and activities on the ethereal World Wide Web. Is this in some vain hope that someone out there might be interested? Perhaps. But there's more.

I have always been fascinated with documentation and history. I also have a lousy memory, and lose more and more of those memory-retaining cells with the birth of each successive child, it seems. I love words. Once upon a time, I faithfully kept a journal, using real paper and ink. This is a time-consuming habit that has long gone by the wayside. However, I often find myself writing journal entries in my head throughout the day--thinking what a great read that would be in a few years, if only I actually ever had the time to write it down. Of course, if I ever DO have the chance to sit down, all the clever lines and funny anecdotes I wanted to record have long since flown from the windy vault of my mind.

At long last, perhaps this, ah this, will work. Maybe if I make it my homepage, so I cannot forget about it. Maybe...

If anyone else finds entertainment from the reading thereof, that is a bonus. I admit my desire to begin a blog is almost purely selfish--so looking back at my life in a few years, there isn't this long stretch of blurred history where all I can remember are vague impressions of millions of diaper changes blended with getting up in the night for months at a time, controlling 3-year-old temper tantrums in the grocery store, and calling the loo a "potty" and nothing else.

Perhaps I'll actually REMEMBER all those cute things my kids did.

Perhaps someone else will read this and realize they are not alone!

Then I will look back and laugh at this first blog, when I was trying to type and breastfeed at the same time. (This looks awkward, and believe me, it's not as easy as it looks!)

I am looking forward to Jason's return this evening from his two-day training session in GP. He began his new job at Micro Computer Plus yesterday, and I think he is excited/scared about the change in field. Happy to be using his training, but feeling a little out of the loop from long disuse of some of those skills.

Jude has been asking to see him since yesterday morning (he left on Sunday evening).

Speaking of Jude, it is nice to see how he is maturing. We are working with him more trying to get him to say his words more clearly. Every day he speaks a little better, but I think both he and the other kids he plays with are a little frustrated at times with his inability to communicate. Even when he plays with Noah, I think there would be less conflict between them if he could make himself understood.

I cannot WAIT until Noah starts using words. He does try to make them occasionally, but there is nothing that even we can recognize yet, except when he is trying to copy something we have just said. I'm not sure if it's a good or bad thing that most of the time he doesn't feel the need to tell us anything, anyway.

Jabin has become quite the little porker. I had hoped he would be going longer at night between feedings, but he still usually only makes it from 9 p.m. until about 3 a.m., then eats again at 6:30-ish. I guess his metabolism must be closer to Jude's than Noah's, because that's how Jude's pattern went. Noah was sleeping 10-12 hours straight through by three months, which Jabin is only 2 weeks away from!

While Jason has been away, I have managed to do a little bit of everything, and accomplished nothing, really. I got part of a wall painted in my kitchen. I got 1 1/2 scrapbook layouts done. I almost finished LAST week's laundry, so I can finally get started on THIS week's! The never-ending cycle.

What did women do a hundred years ago when they did their dishes and clothes by hand? How did they ever manage to have free time when they had to make clothes for their entire family? I imagine "free time" was a concept unknown to them.

Well, apparently Jude needs me to go protect him from the "sharp tooth" in the Land Before Time movie he's seen dozens of times already. A mother's work is never done. Perhaps I should enjoy these interruptions more--soon enough he may have little need for me at all.