Indie Author Weekly

177: Ideation, content creation, and writing process for my Solopreneur Diary Entries weekly newsletter

February 20, 2024 Sagan Morrow Episode 178
Indie Author Weekly
177: Ideation, content creation, and writing process for my Solopreneur Diary Entries weekly newsletter
Show Notes Transcript

In our previous episode, Episode 176, we talked about what it means to be a creative and an indie author — and how it can be so much more comprehensive than book writing! That's why, in today’s episode, I want to build on that and share with you the idea creation and writing process around my weekly Saturday email newsletter: the Solopreneur Diary Entries.

Tune in now for the inside scoop on what that weekly newsletter is all about, an exercise to expand your own creativity, why I never worry about coming up with fresh new ideas (even after writing these emails for 8-ish years), the logistics of my writing process, and more...

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Hello and welcome to the indie author weekly podcast where I take you on the behind the scenes journey of my adventures as an indie author. I'm your host Sagan Morrow, and I'm an eighth time polyamorous romcom. Author. Plus I've also written several business books for solopreneurs. When I'm not writing books, I work as a personal fulfillment and solopreneur success coach. Let's dive into this episode. In our previous episode, Episode 176. Here on the podcast, we talked about what it means to be a creative and an indie author. And we explored how it can be so much more comprehensive than just book writing. So go back and listen to that episode if you haven't already. Now, in today's episode, I want to build on that and share with you about the idea creation and the writing process around my weekly Saturday email newsletter. The solopreneur diary entries. So a little bit of background about solopreneur diary entries. This is something that I started many many years ago. I can't actually remember exactly when I started it. It began as a monthly newsletter. I started doing my very my very first email newsletter was a monthly email newsletter. And it was related to my lifestyle blog at the time. And over the years I transferred my lifestyle blog into a business blog. And very quickly, I'm sure I feel like it was very, very quickly that I transferred from a monthly email newsletter to a weekly email newsletter. So I have been doing this for again, many, many years have lost track of how many years has been, it has evolved over the years and I actually only rebranded it to give it the name of solopreneur diary entries. It was last year that I did this. It was not too long ago that I actually started calling it the solopreneur diary entries. Before that for many, many years. I simply refer to it as my weekly email newsletter. So it's kind of fun that it actually has finally has a name. And each article that I send on a weekly basis is essentially a story or a lesson learned, often relating back to solopreneur ship so the average of each article is about 1000 Words, words long, and I will talk about something that happens in my personal life or something that's happened to my business recently. I will share what I kind of might have learned from that experience or that story and because solopreneur ship really encompasses so many things of both the business and the life. It can really relate back to a lot of different aspects of all of this for other solopreneurs and it can be really interesting even if you are not a solopreneur yourself, which can include any type of small business ownership or freelancer. That is a one person type of business. Even if you aren't that it can still be a really interesting newsletter because you get some insights into the business world and into how my personal life lessons can connect back for you. So I typically include three thought provoking questions, or small tangible action steps that you can take to implement the lessons from that week's addition into your own life and or business. That's one of the really great things about these emails, they always connect things back for you. So you'll get again, generally three questions or three, or a three part thought exercise or a three part sort of action step that you can then implement based on that particular lesson or that story. I also always include at the start of each of these weekly newsletters, a link to the latest blog post or the latest YouTube video. If a new one for whatever reason has not been published that week, then I might share one from the archives or I might share about one of my paid products or paid services or some kind of freebie that I have maybe like a free checklist or something like that. So I always have a specific link to another resource beyond the Saturday newsletter itself. Now when it comes to idea creation again I have been doing this for many, many years. And one of the things that I absolutely love is that I never run out of ideas. There's always, always something that I can find to talk about. I often come up with the ideas for these weekly newsletters when I'm out for a walk or when I'm doing non business tasks. So it's very, very rare that I will be stuck for an idea of what to talk about in one of these email newsletters. And anytime that that does happen where I sit down on the computer and I go okay, it's time for me to write these. If I get stuck, then I know that I just need to go away from the computer, not do business stuff for three minutes or 30 minutes or three hours and something will come to mind. It's very beautiful. There are always so many more ideas to come up with. So I'm never concerned about running out of ideas and I know that this is a really big concern for many people who do this type of thing. The idea of committing to a weekly email newsletter or weekly blog post or whatever it may be. It can feel very daunting, and it can feel intimidating around like what if I run out of ideas, but ideas are not are not limited. You know, there is not a point when your ideas are going to dry up. The creative well, is endless. It's limitless. There's always more that you can tap into and I love that I think that that is just so cool. So over the course of all of these years, which let's see we are in 2024 right now. I think it actually might be it might be a good eight years or 10 years that I have been doing this weekly newsletter like it has been a long, long time. And over that, the course of that time. I don't think I've ever
reused a previous email.
I don't think I've ever, you know, copy and pasted the content from several years ago and use it in a new Saturday newsletter. I don't need to do that. I might refer back to a past story. But each story is always a new version of it or a new angle of it or a new perspective of it. And even if I am referring back to a previous story or a previous lesson, that doesn't happen very often, but it's always again that sort of fresh take on it. So the stories that I might share in the solopreneur diary entries weekly newsletter include anything that has happened in my personal life or my business because again solopreneur ship encompasses all aspects of life or business. So some of the different things that I have talked about as the topic of the newsletter might be something like catching a cold going on vacation. What happened when I thought that I'd cracked my phone screen? The simple pleasures of using silverware instead of regular cutlery getting delayed or caught in traffic, right like all manner of seemingly mundane sort of things. And then I will also talk about business stuff so that might include things like conversations about working in the evenings or on weekends. Whether that is you know, quote unquote, good or not and and when we might want to do that versus not do it, the reasoning behind it. Or I might respond to questions that I see posted on social media. Or if someone reaches out by email to ask me a particular question about business. I might take that question and expand upon it and turn it into a weekly newsletter. I might talk about how I navigate the temptation to participate in hustle culture or I might share about business mistakes that I've made all of these different types of things. So as you can see, there is a lot of expansive creativity in this because it's kind of an exercise in exploring what business lesson can I extract from virtually anything? There is a lot of creative opportunities in that. And I love this creative aspect to it. It really connects back to being an indie author, which is of course the entire concept of this podcast. Because no, the Saturday newsletter is not a book, but it is still a solo writing project that I am essentially self publishing by publicly sharing it as a weekly newsletter. And as we explored in last week's episode here on the indie author, weekly podcast that counts under our definition of creativity and indie authorship. So there's a lot of creativity, of creativity that can happen in this and I would encourage you again, I know that we've talked about this previously on the podcast, but I would really encourage you as a creative exercise to look at the seemingly mundane things in your everyday life and explore what can I extract from this? How could I take this thing and pull a lesson from it? What are all the different ways that I can look at this thing that might have happened? It's a lot of fun. It's a really great creative exercise. Quite a few people have told me that they have a special folder in their email inbox, where they keep all of my weekly newsletters because they like to revisit them and because we get so much value from them because they're so thought provoking. I love that. And again, I really like to make these newsletters relevant by sharing that particular story or lesson, and then bringing it back to the reader and how they can apply the lesson learned in their own life or business. So these newsletters can be a lot of fun because even if that particular story that I'm sharing that week is not something that has happened to you, you might relate to it. Or at the very least you will get those questions that thought exercise those action steps for how you can take this story in this lesson and apply it to your own situation. So if you want to check out this newsletter for yourself, you can sign up to receive the solopreneur diary entries weekly email at Sagan Link is in the show notes so that's kind of some background about the creative process for this. Now the actual writing process. The sort of logistics behind doing the Saturday newsletter is that I have a full spreadsheet with all of my email newsletters. So I have the dates I have the specific topic that I want to talk about and the link that I want to include in that week's newsletter. I have the A B subject lines so two different subject lines that I like to use. I have a little preview statement and then I also like to keep track of open rates and click rates and things like that. And I like having it in a spreadsheet because when I have the topics all listed out like that, I can I can really see okay, have I talked about this particular side of things or this particular topic in this way? Recently, I don't want to necessarily be talking about the exact same things or in the exact same way every single week. So being able to sort of see it at a glance is really helpful. I also have a Google Doc that I pre write all of the content in I do this in case the email platform that I'm using has like glitch when I'm in the middle of writing. That has happened a couple of a few times in the past that hasn't happened anytime recently. But that has happened to me before in the past and it's always it's always frustrating when you're like really in the groove with writing. And you're writing in the email platform itself and then for whatever reason, it doesn't save or the program crashes and you lose that good writing, right? We never want that to happen. So I find that writing it in a separate document and then copying and pasting. It is so much so much less stressful because you don't even have to worry about any glitch happening. And so because I have this Google Doc, where I pre write all of my content, I can basically insert those ideas as they come to me. So at this point what I am doing is I will anytime that I come up with an idea, any type of idea and I think to myself, oh that could be kind of fun to write about in a Saturday newsletter at some point. Maybe in the near future or maybe just to keep in the back burner for later. I will add the idea to the Google Doc. It might be one sentence, it might be a few paragraphs or a few bullet points. It might be a rough draft of the entire email based on whatever I might be experiencing in that moment. And whatever the the thoughts and the creative burst that might be in that moment. Previously. What I used to do in the past is I would write the emails that week. So I didn't use to have this Google Doc with the pre written content. You know, I might just write down a quick idea in my spreadsheet and then I would cut and paste that idea wherever it actually needed to fit into the spreadsheet. But I used to actually write the email the week that it was going out. It will often be like the Thursday. So two days before it was going to be published is when I would actually write it. So there were very real time sorts of things that I was experiencing that particular week. Whatever was going on in my personal life or my business that week. That is the story that people would get in their email inbox. Now over time, I've adjusted that so much more recently, this year in particular, I am free writing an entire month's worth of emails. And I am doing this largely in part because I have restructured my entire approach to basically everything I'm trying to I'm working toward free recording many my YouTube videos. I'm working on pre recording these podcast episodes. I'm working on prewriting and pre scheduling my email newsletters, all of these different things. And I'm working toward making sure that these are done a month in advance. And I'm doing those because it then gives me more space to do other things like book writing. And because I am going away on quite a number of trips this year, so it just gives me that extra buffer time. And it really just allows me to know that these things are done in advance. So that I don't need to tasks switch every single day from one thing to the next and try to keep on top of things on a weekly basis. It's kind of nice to be able to sort of batch the content or just get ahead on it. So that's been really good.
And it's fun as well. What I have noticed about bounce rate in prewriting an entire month's worth of weekly solopreneur diary entry newsletters in this Google Doc is that I can write down I can write the four weeks in this Google Doc and then I can go through and read and reread all of them in a row. Right I can see what the flow is like. And I can review that they are all interesting, and also different enough so that I'm not talking about the same thing in weeks one and three, for example. And that might not have necessarily been the case in the past when I was doing on a weekly basis, right. So in this case is kind of nice because I can look at okay, if I'm talking about a particular service or product, right, a different program that I run and that particular Saturday newsletter is maybe a little bit more you know, quote unquote salesy. Then Are they are the next three newsletters,
much more anecdotal, or are they much more focused on a specific lesson,
right? If I've been talking about my personal life in one newsletter or two newsletters or three newsletters in a row, am I making sure to to talk more about a story from my business in that sort of third email or the fourth email, so making sure that there's a nice variety all month long, that's been really really useful. Once all of those are pre written, and I have reviewed them all and I've gone through and and edited them then I will copy and paste them each individually into my email platform. I will reread and do any edits in that moment for that particular email. Then I will send a test email to myself and I will look at it in my email inbox again reread it, make any edits that I need to make in the email platform itself to do that final edit, and then I will schedule it. And I will do that for each of the emails for that for the month ahead. So there's a lot of reviewing and rereading and editing of each newsletter that happens. It typically takes me I would say about on average, an hour to do one email newsletter. So it's not actually that, that like it sounds like it's a lot, but it's not really that much. And this is again, each email typically is about 1000 words. It might be a little bit less sometimes sometimes it's a little bit more, but that that is kind of the case for me. And I also don't think that it was necessarily that it would have necessarily taken me about an hour in the past. I feel like this is a really good amount of time for me. Some newsletters come you know that the thought process and the idea and the writing is much it comes much more easily and it flows much better than in other cases. So it really just depends on that particular newsletter. So there you go. I think that's everything that I wanted to share about the idea creation and writing process for my weekly solopreneur diary entries newsletter. And again, you can subscribe to receive the free newsletter in your inbox every Saturday at Sagan Please reach out via Twitter or Instagram to let me know your thoughts and all this. My handle is at Sagan lives. That my friend is a wrap for today's episode, access the shownotes as Sagan And please take two minutes to rate and review indie author weekly on Apple podcasts. By the way I do take requests submit your questions and podcast topic ideas at Sagan so I can keep them in mind for future episodes here on the indie author weekly podcast. Thank you so much for tuning in and I will see you next time for another episode. of indie author weekly