Tech Talk: The Apple Watch

Tech Talk is a monthly series where I highlight pieces of technology that have helped streamline and improve my business and personal life. Let me know your favorite tech tools in the comments! 

I'm going to be honest with you—I love technology, but when the Apple Watch was released, I was skeptical. The price was way outside of my budget, and, as someone who's already glued to my phone, I was worried that having one would only help technology monopolize more of my time. But, when my mom so kindly gave me one for Christmas, I was excited to give it a shot. 

I've had it for three months now, and I've been pleasantly surprised by its ability to cut down on my tech-time instead of increasing it. I get a lot of questions from people asking if I think they're worth the investment, so I've decided to share the top Apple Watch features that have helped me run my business and my personal life more efficiently. 

Texting/Call Capabilities

I thought that the Apple Watch would make me more attached to my phone because you get notifications on your wrist when you get a call or text, but it's been the opposite. Because I get the messages straight to my wrist, it's freed me from having my phone nearby all the time. Now, as long as my phone in my apartment with me or in my pocket or bag when I'm out, I know I'll get any messages to my wrist and I can scan them and decide whether or not they need to be addressed on my phone right away. 

I also love the ability to answer phone calls on your wrist. Not only do I feel like James Bond, I also can catch up with friends or family on the phone while doing something else, like cleaning my room or cooking. 

Phone Finder

I lose everything. I mean EVERYTHING, and my phone is one of the biggest victims of my forgetfulness. The Apple Watch has a great feature to "ping" your phone anytime you misplace it, and I use it at least once a day. 

Activity Tracker

I was a big Fitbit fan for awhile. It helped me increase my exercise, but once I got out of the habit of wearing it, I never put it back on again. Because the Apple Watch does more than track my steps, I'm more diligent about wearing it every day. The activity tracker marks your active minutes and calories burned, and it helps remind me that every little bit of activity counts and adds up during the day. It's helped me get moving more, and I've lost 10 pounds since January because of it! 

I also love that I can connect with friends and family and get notifications when they complete workouts or hit their goals. Getting a message that my husband, brother or friends have completed a workout is the perfect extra bump of motivation when I'm having a lazy day!

Stand-Up Reminders

The activity tracker also sends you an hourly reminder to stand up if you haven't in the last 60 minutes. I get a little buzz on my wrist the last ten minutes of every hour if I have been sitting the whole hour. Working from home, this really helps remind me to get moving, even when I'm in the zone!

The Timer

I never would have imagined this would come in handy so much, but we cook so often that it does! Anytime I'm cooking and need to set a timer, I can say, "Hey Siri, set a timer for X minutes" and it starts right away. This hands-free tool has been so helpful while trying to juggle multiple tasks in the kitchen. 

Do you have an Apple Watch? What do you think about them? Let me know in the comments! 

Quick Copy Tip: When to Nix the Numbers

"Yes, what you say is crucial. But how you say it can make all the difference."

Amen, Copyblogger. Amen. They hit the nail on the head in this post

Sales copy is often packed with statistics and numerical information to illustrate a bigger point. But is that the best way? 

Consider this example from Copyblogger. Which would you rather read?

OPTION ONE: A typical bag of movie popcorn has 37 grams of saturated fat, while the USDA recommends you have no more than 20 grams in an entire day.

OPTION TWO: A medium-sized ‘butter’ popcorn contains more artery-clogging fat than a bacon-and-eggs breakfast, a Big Mac and fries for lunch, and a steak dinner with all the trimmings — combined!

Option two is clearly more powerful because it uses a statistic to tell a story. Many audiences glaze-over when presented with a barrage of numbers, but most are attracted to and remember a relatable comparison - even if it holds no numerical evidence. 

How can this apply to your business? Consider impressive, "fun-fact" information that you can present to your customers in a more visual, dynamic way. For example:

  • If your restaurant wants to illustrate the number of happy customers it served last year:
    • OPTION 1: "We're honored to have served 36,500 happy customers last year!"
    • OPTION 2: "Last year, we were honored to serve enough people in our community to fill five hundred school busses!" 
  • If your Greek yogurt brand wants to illustrate its high-protein content: 
    • OPTION 1: An 8 oz. serving of our product has in 23 grams of protein!"
    • OPTION 2: "Just one serving of our Greek yogurt packs more protein than four eggs and a fraction of the fat."  

QUICK COPY FIX: Look through your website copy today. Are there places you're using numbers instead of illustration-infused copy? Are their claims that could be better backed by presenting the information in a new way? Let me know what you find in the comments! 

5 Quick Steps to Crafting Better Captions

This is a guest post that I wrote for one of my client's blogs. Imagine Media Consulting is THE BEST social media management agency in the biz, and it's an honor to work with them. Thanks for letting me guest-post, gang! 

It’s no secret that social media is a visual business. As companies up the ante on visualization, stylized photography is almost a necessity to keep customers engaged with your brand. However, that doesn’t mean the little caption box below your beautiful photos should be ignored!

A picture may be worth 1,000 words, but just a few well-placed words in a caption can pack a serious punch. Here are five of our tried-and-true quick steps to better caption writing.

1. Always Speak To Your Audience

As a copywriter, there is one earth-shattering talk I have with each of my clients before beginning any project: IT’S NOT ABOUT YOU. Your social profiles, your marketing collateral, your website, even your ABOUT page are NOT about you. It’s about your target customer, their problems and how your product or service can solve it for them.

Once you realize that, it makes writing a lot easier. I encourage my clients to to picture who their ideal or current customer is (it’s okay to have a few!) -- what do they look like? What are their needs? What do they find entertaining? What media do they digest when they aren’t interacting with you? Why are they drawn to you?

When you have an idea of WHO you’re talking to, even if it’s imaginary, you can picture them as you write anything for your business. If you imagine you’re writing to THAT person every time it won’t feel as impersonal.

2. Engage, Educate and Entertain

Now that you know WHO you’re writing to, we’ve got to dig deep and find out WHAT to write to them. For that, I lean on my three E’s to better caption writing: engage, educate and entertain.  Every piece of content that you put out into the world should fill one of these buckets, and you should have a clear idea of which you’re trying to achieve with each caption.

  • Engage: attempts to involve your followers in a discussion. Imagine Media is all about building relationships, not profiles so this is a key step for the team! Consider captions that ask questions, re-post user-generated content or build community. This is all about getting your ideal customer INVOLVED with your brand instead of merely listening.

  • Educate: This does not always mean sell. This means providing your followers with information that they find useful. Own a yoga studio? Share healthy recipes. Sell glasses? Share eye care tips. This establishes expertise and trust with your followers.

  • Entertain: This is important, but is not the same for every brand. Humor, memes and GIFs aren’t for everyone - for some brands, this simply means providing a smile, motivation or inspiration instead of a laugh.

I see many brands fail in the social space because they rely too heavily on one of the three buckets - too much entertainment, not enough product or industry education. Or, on the other hand, too many education-driven sales captions and not enough entertainment. It’s all about finding balance that makes sense for your brand’s audience.

3. Cash-In on Calls-to-Action

The simplest tip I offer to brands complaining about lack of follower engagement is to occasionally place a call-to-action in your captions. This doesn’t always mean, “Check out our product - link in bio!” Although that works for many, here are a few I keep in my back pocket:

  • Tag a friend who _____

  • Double tap/like/RT if you agree!

  • What’s your favorite _____? Tell us in the comments!

4. Run It By Someone

I love puns. I mean LOVE them. But, they aren’t for everyone (and remember, it’s not about you!). To keep my punning in check, I always run “questionable” captions by a friend, colleague or family member or two. It’s not enough to ask if they like it, though. Here’s my formula:

“Hey, (friend whose opinion I trust and is always willing to be brutally honest). I wrote this caption for a brand that’s ideal customer is _____. Do you think this would resonate with that audience?” Bonus points if the friend IS the ideal audience, but it’s not necessary.

5. Test, Measure, Re-Test

Running it by someone is a pre-test, but you’ve still got to check-in after publishing. Every week or two, I like to look at the analytics or scroll through a client’s content to see how each photo/caption combo performed. Obviously, there’s a lot that goes into performance analytics - time of day, visuals, the caption, the platform - but, you can usually pick up on trends. My best advice is not to be too tied to any idea - a lot of captions that I think will be a smashing hit totally tank. Don’t take it personally, just learn it’s not for that audience and move on!

What caption copy tricks do you have up your sleeve? Let us know in the comments! (Holla, rule number 3.)

To learn more about the amazing work Imagine Media is doing, click here

The Key to Happiness: Building An Atmosphere of Growth

I read a quote the other day that seriously stuck with me.

It also motivated me to share this story with you today. 

"If you have a creative mind, it’s like owning a border collie. You have to give it something to do or it will find something to do, and you will not like the thing it finds to do.” -Elizabeth Gilbert

LOSING CONTROL

In 2015, my border collie brain went totally rogue when my dad was diagnosed with terminal cancer. When he died at the beginning of 2016, I tried to be my usual, proactive self and "re-train" my brain: I read books, saw a therapist, listened to podcasts and probably broke the Google search results on "recovering from grief." I thought I had it totally under control. My husband and I moved across the country, I launched this wonderful copywriting business and I thought I was fully-equipped and ready to tackle this "New Year, New Life, New Me" approach. (Spoiler: I was wrong.)

ROCK BOTTOM

In late 2016, nearing a year without my dad, I was, by all definitions, a mess. While attempting to maintain an "I Got This" appearance, I totally neglected myself, my health and my personal needs. "Self care" became about laying on the couch, eating bad food and crying. Somewhere around November, my mom flew to Denver for a pseudo-intervention. She and my husband lovingly pushed me off the couch and into various doctor's appointments until we got a grasp on why I was completely losing touch with the person I used to be. 

FINDING MY WAY

On this path to recovery, I reopened some of the books I had picked up on happiness and self-development and I found two concepts that really resonated with me. 

1. Gretchen Rubin's "The Happiness Project" talks about a person's need to live in an "atmosphere of growth" to be happy. Meaning, if you aren't learning, growing and experiencing new things, you're more likely to be unhappy or feel "stuck." 

2. Mel Robbins' "Stop Saying You're Fine" discusses the major reason people fail at Rubin's "atmosphere of growth" quest. Our brains are wired to be lazy and value repetition and routine. When a new opportunity arises, it is often our brain's first reaction to reject it altogether, pushing us into the path of least resistance. For me, that's crying and the couch. 

When I first read about Rubin's atmosphere of growth, I thought I had it down. "Well, I've changed everything in my life this year. How's that for growth?" I thought to myself. What I didn't realize was although I altered everything externally, internally I wasn't growing at all. I was letting my brain take the path of least resistance in every aspect of my life: mind, body and soul. While the newness of the move helped initially, it wore off quickly. Not pushing myself personally lead me down a darker hole of depression. I've always enjoyed learning and growing and sharing that experience with others, but somewhere along the road I'd lost it. 

I'm not going to lie to you: part of my problem was a thyroid imbalance. But, I'm also not going to lie to myself: the biggest part of the problem was me and my mindset. So, thanks to encouraging friends, family and therapy, I changed it. 

REBUILDING A TRUE ATMOSPHERE OF GROWTH

In December, I took full inventory of my life. I found a new therapist, had my first physical in probably ten years, restructured my business, found an accountability partner (hey, Kenan!) and bought Lara Casey's Powersheets - a helpful workbook/guide for setting and maintaining meaningful goals all year. I talked to my husband, family and friends about what used to fire me up, and ways I could get back to that feeling. 

I broke this down into categories and areas that my "border collie brain" needed to work on: heart, mind, body and wallet. I built mini-goals within those bigger buckets that I could implement each day/week/month in an attempt to get my life back on track. Here are a few of the goals that I've built into my routine, if you're interested:

  • DAILY
    • Make a to-do list
    • Walk, exercise or stretch - I've learned I love Barre 3!
    • Eat at least one fruit and one vegetable  
    • Drink more water
  • WEEKLY
    • Free write (not for public consumption) 
    • Schedule an activity with a friend  
    • Schedule a phone-free date night 
    • Call and catch up with an out of town friend
    • Listen to a podcast
  • MONTHLY
    • Read one book 
    • Have a family and business "financial meeting" 
    • Meet with my therapist
    • Skype with Kenan, my accountability partner

I am by no means perfect at hitting these marks, but my monthly check-ins with Kenan sure do help! At the beginning of each month, we discuss what worked, what didn't and how we can improve moving into the next month. I track my progress on each goal so I can hold myself accountable and celebrate progress and success as it arises. 

MOVING FORWARD

The past two months haven't been total smooth-sailing, but they have been two of the best I've had since that dreaded diagnosis in July 2015. I'm waking up happier, I've lost weight and I'm regaining clients and purpose in my business.

I know that people like to talk about happiness as this abstract idea that you can't always grasp, but through trail and error, I've learned you can create it for yourself if you're mindful and willing to put in the work. Proactively and diligently working on my own "atmosphere of growth" has been a real game-changer for me, and I'm sharing it today in hopes that if you're lost, you can re-train your "border collie brain" too. 

Starting next week, we'll be back to your regularly-scheduled, business-focused blogging. But, I believe before you can talk about where you're going, you've got to be honest about where you've been. Thanks for hanging in there with me. 

WHAT AREAS OF YOUR LIFE ARE YOU TRYING TO GROW? LET ME KNOW IN THE COMMENTS SO WE CAN SUPPORT EACH OTHER!