Today, I think we should discuss time. Specifically ways to invest your time that will have epic effects on your brand and the way you do business.

I want to share seven areas that I’ve invested major time in and I hope you’ll stick with me as I explain the multiple benefits and applications of each area. I really think making these time investments can help any freelancer, infopreneur, blogger, or solopreneur . . . but if you disagree with me by the end of the list, just know I was under the influence of a long IKEA trip (by myself) when I thought this up . . . and no one should be held responsible for what they scheme up by the end of a 3-hour IKEA marathon. No one.


1. Making videos. Even though I hated being in front of the camera when I first started.

As an introvert with unruly hair, I thought it wise to stay off-screen for most of my life. But, with the way the Internet evolves and explodes every single day, I thought it unwise to not try multiple forms of media. If you run an Internet business like I do, then my #1 rule for us is:

Once you arrive, don’t stay at your destination too long; you have to set a new course.”

Whatever goal you’re setting right now, once you hit it, celebrate, have a Martin Scorsese marathon, play some Scrabble and drop Z’s and X’s and J’s on your opponent, then set a new course. Even if your new course is taking your current project to the next level. Trying to apply IRL (in real life) speed to an online business is like trying to apply tortoise speed to the hare. Wait. Bad example. The tortoise beat the hare . . . but you get what I mean.

Area #1: Make some videos, yo. All the videos.

Benefits:

  • Videos increase the chances of people on the Internet finding you.
  • They take your brand to the next level of helpfulness.
  • They attract people who are prone to get a little lost in too much text.
  • They allow you to communicate certain things (tutorials, deep thoughts, etc.) more effectively than screenshots or words that don’t come with tones or facial expressions.
  • You can get out your thoughts faster when you speak (on video) than you can in text.

Try: G+ Hangouts On Air, YouTube tutorials, screencasts of your computer screen, recorded presentations, or any other type of video that helps you communicate with your ideal audience.

P.S. >> Tools: I use Camtasia or QuickTime for screen recordings, a DSLR and a lavalier mic for recording myself, and I upload most of my content to YouTube + Vimeo.


2. Writing a book.

Let me tell you about the hardest thing I’ve ever done professionally. And the second hardest thing I’ve ever done professionally. It’s the same darn thing. Writing a book.

One was a physical 200-page manual and the next one was a 200+ page digital book. I just want to be honest with you here. THEY WERE NOT EASY TO CREATE. At all. But, I don’t want that to scare you off from it. Writing that first book is probably the best thing I’ve ever done for my business.

Do tell us why, Regina.”

I will, my friend. I will.

Even though I feel my writing has changed + grown so much since my first book (so yeah, it’s a little painful when I read it), I’ve been able to use that book for IRL classes and its organization and information seem to truly make a difference for people who are just getting started in business. I’ve been able to take some of the book’s content and make blog posts out of it; I’ve been able to modify some of the book’s sections and make them more specific for certain industries . . . then include them as content in my online classes and products.

Oh, and it’s made a little money over the last year or so.

Area #2: Invest some (serious) time in writing a book.

Benefits:

  • Writing a book will force you to create lots of content. Whether you give it away for free or charge for it, the amount of content you have to work with and form into different things will be worth it. You feel me? I know you feel me.
  • Your book makes you look legit. Straight up. It just looks sooooo legit that you have a book in your niche/genre/area.
  • Your book can help you make income. You can sell it solo, or bundled with other materials, or as a part of your workshop, or packaged with a baby tiger that you ship to my house. Seriously. I want a baby tiger. Please say I’m not the only one. And yes, I realize it’s not 100% legal or whatever.
  • Writing a book is just such a milestone that I truly believe you will experience a mindset shift after you’ve completed it. You’ll see your business and yourself differently.

3. Learning doc layout + design.

If information is your game (infopreneurs, bloggers, authors, coaches) or if you’ll be sending your clients documents (freelancers), then learning how to lay out and design attractive documents is key. I invested time into learning Adobe InDesign at first. I could tell that it was going to take a bit more time to master than I had to spare in the moment, so I instead invested time in learning Apple Pages. Best decision ever.

The Free Create a Course Workbook The #LoveMyBrandKit, for you, for free

Now I’m able to create workbooks (like the ones you see above) that don’t take forever to prepare and publish.

eBooks and digital workbooks

Area #3: Learn how to lay out documents in the program of your choice.

Benefits:

  • You’ll be able to quickly create documents to add value to your content (checklists, media kits, guides, etc.).
  • You’ll be able to dream up digital products you can create and then actually execute them.

Try: Checklists, individual worksheets, adult homework, workbooks, products, eBooks, media kits, and other guides with your word processing or layout software.


Let’s take an almost half-way through break for a cute little phrase you can tweet out (please!) to share these seven time investments with all your buddies. They’ll love you, I’ll love you . . . as you can see, there are really no downsides to this plan.

Invest-in-your-business-CTT


4. Learning graphic design software.

I have invested many hours into learning Photoshop (as well as Pixlr and Canva), and it is so useful. Even if you just edit templates or designs you have made for you, knowing a bit about graphic design software will help you create the promotional materials you need much sooner than hiring someone every single time.

I honestly believe that graphics are what will initially help you stand out. Whether it be your Facebook cover photo, your blog post images (examples of mine are below), or flyers + business cards to promote your brand, knowing how to “whip something up” can be crucial in this fast-paced business world.

Follow byRegina (blogging + business)’s board Blog Posts on Pinterest.

Area #4: Find graphic design software that has the functions you need and doesn’t seem to have the largest learning curve ever (unless the software is going to be a key part of your day-to-day operations).

Benefits:

  • You won’t have to constantly wait for your designer to complete things if you’re able to do them yourself.
  • You’ll be able to quickly take advantage of any opportunities you see to promote your brand or products with graphics.
  • You’ll be able to add more to your emails, blog posts, social media accounts, and website when you know how to create or modify graphics.

5. Learning to take + edit photos.

Photography makes a huge difference on social media channels (like FitMenCook’s Instagram feed below), your blog, in products, and anywhere else you need on-brand images.

Learn photography and editing with your device.

Area #5: Put an emphasis on learning the basics of photography and lighting, whether you use a phone, or a point-and-shoot camera, or a DSLR.

Benefits:

  • You won’t have to always use stock photography to get your point across in your posts and products.
  • You’ll be able to catch more moments as they happen instead of needing to hire a pro just to get great images.
  • Custom photos will help you stand out, especially if you develop a style of your own.

Try: Learning the settings of your device and taking multiple pictures to get the hang of what makes something awesome vs. ordinary vs. poor quality.

P.S. >> Tools: Most of the photos on my Instagram feed are taken with a Canon T5i and a 50mm lens. But, some are taken with my phone. Almost all of them are edited with VSCO Cam.


6. Creating templates for blog posts and resources.

This has straight saved me from going insane. All the content you create and clients you serve can be a lot to manage, there’s no need to add blog post graphics to your list.

Now that I’ve created a template (but you can always get one created for you if you don’t like design), I literally have a 3-step process (shown below) to get a new image going for my newest post: (1) I open up my template, and (2) bring in the new photo I want to use, then (3) change the text.

How I use and modify my blog post templates.

Area #6: Develop templates (or hire someone to develop them for you) for any items you’ll be repeating somewhat frequently–blog posts, resources, etc.

Benefits:

  • All your images on the various social media channels will have the same feel to them and help your brand become more recognizable.
  • You will save a lot of time by using templates as opposed to creating something from scratch each time you want to publish a new resource/article.

Try: Multiple software platforms that are affordable and have support videos or free tutorials for you to refer to.


7. Creating a challenge (or even an email course).

I’ve said it quite a few times before, but I’m saying it again because I really, truly believe it works. Host some challenges. This is one of the main ways my blog traffic grew when I was first starting out with this brand. I created a challenge (the 30-day cleanse) that I thought might be fun to do with a few people, but it started sending my site more traffic than any of my other articles. People like to be challenged because they love to reach milestones.

Check out this 30-day challenge by Jen Carrington as an example.

Area #7: Create a challenge your ideal audience would consider extremely important or engaging. Consider surveying some of your audience, family, or friends to see what they think a good challenge might be.

Benefits:

  • Challenges can be great for spreading your brand name.
  • Challenges are awesome for engaging and connecting with other people who have similar goals.
  • Challenges are typically pretty share-worthy.
  • Challenges usually only last a certain amount of time, which creates a sense of urgency for participants.

Pssst, huge shout out to Lauren, who suggested I come back to the blog–didn’t realize the absence was so long or noticeable. Sorry about that! So, what do you think? What are some epic time investments you have made or want to soon make in your business?

Main blog post photo: Alexey Kuzma
Graphic design and article: Regina Anaejionu