How many people want to journal, but don’t because they “don’t know what to write about”?
If this is your issue, I’m going to make it pretty easy on you …
I’m not suggesting a typical journal, it doesn’t have to be anything fancy, and there are zero writing prompts.
Instead, what I’m suggesting is business journaling — or recording notes, ideas, thoughts, and lessons as you start or run your web-writing business.
Business journaling is such a powerful method to success that many famous writers, artists, and even scientists do it …
“I write journals and would recommend journal writing to anyone who wishes to pursue a writing career. You learn a lot. You also remember a lot … and memory is important.” — Judy Collins
“I keep a quotes journal — of every sentence that I’ve wanted to remember from my reading of the past 30 years.” — Richard Powers
“I’ve been keeping a diary for 33 years and write in it every morning. Most of it’s just whining, but every so often there’ll be something I can use later: a joke, a description, a quote.” — David Sedaris
“So far, you truly have been a source of great comfort to me, and so has Kitty, whom I now write to regularly. This way of keeping a diary is much nicer, and now I can hardly wait for moments when I can write in you.” — Anne Frank
Now I’m suggesting you do the same …
But, give yourself permission to relax and write however you choose — scribbles, incomplete thoughts, zero punctuation, whatever … you’re probably the only one who will see it anyway.
Experts say typical journaling provides a lot of benefits … stress reduction, better focus, self-discovery, enhanced creativity, a record of your “life story,” and increased self-confidence …
But, business journaling can be even more beneficial.
A business journal gives you a chance to reflect on what you’ve learned, remember the decisions you’ve made — and why you made them, keep track of what works — and what doesn’t, and more.
So what should you write about? Let’s talk about that …
Here are six things worth noting in your business journal:
1. Ideas for Products, Articles, and Projects
Two things that contribute to my consistently-booked schedule are:
- Immediately sending a new idea once I’ve finished a project.
- Following up with past and potential clients with idea after idea.
So where do I get all these ideas? The same place you do — daily life. It’s just that when I have an idea, I immediately save it in my journal instead of letting it disappear. Right now, I have hundreds of article ideas, a few dozen product ideas, and even a handful of ideas for new businesses.
If you think you don’t have any ideas, try recording your thoughts for a few days. You’ll come up with more ideas than you think … if you need help, check out this article.
2. Insights Learned From Experience
As you’re learning and writing web copy, you’ll undoubtedly have many insights. I know from experience, if you don’t record these, they can quickly slip away and have to be re-learned later. I like to call these insights “a-ha moments.” I have a whole notebook full of them.
Next time you feel like a light bulb has lit up above your head, stop for a moment and jot the thought down in your journal. You never know how valuable this a-ha moment could be. What if it leads you to a Big Idea for a product promotion that goes on to sell millions?
3. Things That Inspire You
We all know how important it is to be inspired — and stay that way … that’s why I firmly believe in keeping a journal for things that inspire you — images, quotes, ideas, success stories, and more.
In fact, I even go so far to have a notebook I (sort-of-jokingly) call my “Wall of Conceit.” Every time I receive a compliment on my writing or the way I do business, I take a screenshot of that “testimonial” and add it to my “Wall of Conceit.” Then, when I have moments of doubt — “Am I cut out for this?” “What if they don’t like this?” — I review all the nice things people have said and pull myself together.
If you don’t already have a notebook of things that inspire you, please start one as soon as you can. Then stuff it full of inspiring things. This will help you immensely when you feel less than motivated — or if you ever consider giving up.
4. Client Quirks and Preferences
Every client is different. Some prefer Word documents, others want Google Drive documents … some want a lot of check-ins throughout the process, others just want me to handle it all … some like to receive invoices once a month, others want them after every project. I’d go crazy if I tried to remember everything.
That’s why I have a notebook for each client. Anytime I learn something new about their “quirks” or preferences, I jot it down. Then, I can quickly review this when I start a new project for them. I strongly believe this process helps me get many repeat clients and referrals. Plus, it saves me a lot of time and frustration.
5. Extra Content
No matter the project, it seems there’s always copy left over — either Big Ideas, leads, or headlines that weren’t used, statistics that weren’t needed, or even whole pages that didn’t make it into the final draft.
That’s why I recommend a notebook for extra copy. You can use this content for articles, blog posts, or even additional projects for the same client. For example, if you write a sales letter for a client and save the “leftovers,” you have a lot of material to use as a jumping off point should they ask you to write other supporting copy — like emails.
I try really hard to never make the same mistake twice. Keeping track of feedback really helps with that. For instance, let’s say a client tells you they don’t like certain phrases you use because they come across as a little negative. If so, save that feedback, and next time you have a job for that client, review their feedback and make sure you’re not making the same mistake again. They’ll appreciate your willingness to learn and you’ll save time in the revision stage.
These six items are just a few examples of things you can save in your journals to make your life and job easier. You could also keep track of time invested into projects, sample websites you like, pieces for your swipe file, and even your goals and the progress you’re making.
If you don’t have a business journal, why not start one today? Even if you’re a complete beginner, a business journal will help you absorb what you’re learning.
Choosing a Journal
A “journal” could be as simple as a spiral notebook — in fact, I believe in keeping it simple to eliminate the pressure of typical journaling …
I used to have a journal with a beautiful cover and great quality paper, but … there was so much pressure to fill it with “valuable” thoughts, ideas, and reflections. I rarely wrote in it.
Skip to today and I use Evernote to record everything! (I’m so into Evernote that I should buy stock in their product — seriously.)
Here are a few reasons why I think Evernote is so amazing:
It’s as simple — or complex — as you want or need. I record nearly everything in Evernote and then use the easy search function to quickly find what I need. This is a very simple method. However, if you want organization, you can use “notebooks” to organize everything in Evernote.
It’s free to use!
It can be updated and accessed anywhere. You can quickly add an idea from your phone or use a computer and keyboard when you have more to write.
You can doodle or sketch on anything — even napkins — and then just take a quick snapshot to add it to Evernote. (And, Evernote even makes your handwriting in the images searchable!)
Plus, it’s private and password protected — which I think we all desire from a journal.
If you’re not ready to give Evernote a try, you can keep a journal in almost anything — a Word document, a paper journal, text documents in a folder on your computer, your email account, or anything else you can come up with.
No matter what journaling format or tool you use, the important part is that you write and add to your journal when you have an idea, a breakthrough moment, or you want to remember something …
Do you have a business journal? If so, what things do you save? If not, what’s stopping you? Comment below to join the discussion.