2016 is the year for my blog, and that was one of the reasons I was so excited to win a strategy session with the lovely Bri of XXO Bri. Bri is an all around amazing brand expert and she is located in Northwest Arkansas, you can imagine my joy when I found out I won (although I was also a little nervous because I hate phone calls.) She made the whole experience so joyful and I left with so many great ideas for my blog in 2016. I wanted to take a quick second to fill you in on why I think strategy sessions are the thing you need to kickstart your blog.
I had no idea I may need a strategy session about my blog The Happy Arkansan, but once I talked with Bri I had so many ideas and it gave me a really awesome kick in the booty to get my blog planning done and work on defining my niche. In this article I am going to talk about some reasons you may need to invest in a strategy session, what you need to do before your strategy session, supplies you need for your strategy session, as well as some of my highlights from my strategy session and why I adore them so much.
Reasons You May Need To Invest In Strategy Sessions
A blog is not built in a day. It is never truly done being built. The best bloggers out there will tell you that they are always progressing, always learning, and so is their blog. A strategy session is such a great way to make a solid investment in your blog and help it grow. If you are feeling the things below you may want to invest in a strategy session.
You Have Lost Motivation To Blog
The blogger burnout is real. Your strategist can really help you by giving you motivation. They are a clean slate and they can give you so many ideas you never would have thought of. This is such a great way to get your motivation back and get you from so-so about blogging to gung-ho!
You Have Hit A Snag In Your Blog Growth
Hitting a snag in blog growth happens to the best of us. With blogging the goal is to always progress towards your goals. A blogging strategy session can be so helpful with setting you up with some great tools of the trade.
You Have Ideas You Want To Run By Someone
I had so many ideas in my head that I wanted to run by someone. It's hard to talk about ideas for your blog with people who just don't understand. I know I also don't like to share my ideas in too many places on the internet. It's really awesome if you can talk through some of the ideas you have in your head in a uncompetitive environment and that is what a strategy session can do for you.
You Need Help Managing Time
Time management is everything to a blogger. We are always just trying to find ways to work smarter not harder. Strategy sessions can be great if you need help managing time so that you can be the best blogger you can be with half the effort.
You Need Help Defining Your Niche
It's easy to want to blog about a million things, but sometimes it's better to pick one or two things you really like and forget the rest. A strategy session is great if you need help defining your niche because they can listen to what you have to say and help you find the topics you are most excited about.
Things You Need To Do Before Your Strategy Sessions
Your strategy session will go a thousand times smoother if you actually think through a few things before your strategy session even gets started. Below I am going to talk about a few of the things I thought about before I hopped on my call with Bri.
Think About What You Want To Discuss
The person you book your strategy session with probably has a layout of how she wants the call to go. It's important, though, that you have an idea of what you want to discuss before the call takes place so you don't spend too much time on things that aren't important to you. Luckily Bri was perfect and covered so many of the things I wanted to talk about, but there were a few things that I mentioned before we hung up to make sure that we covered all the things I was worried about in 2016.
Think About The Direction You Want For Your Blog
Your strategist will definitely help you refine your direction on your strategy call, but it's also important to have these things sorta figured out in your head before you make the call. These strategy sessions usually last about an hour, and if you have the right strategist that time is over before you know it. It is so important to at least think about where you want to take your blog before you hop on a strategy call.
Think About Other Blogs You Love
Who is your blog inspiration? You obviously don't want to copy your favorite blogger word for word, but having a blog to look up to as you think about where you want to take your blog is so important. I have so many favorite bloggers that I look up to for various reasons. I cover quite a few topics on this blog so I have my favorites from each topic I cover.
Supplies You Need For Your Strategy Sessions
You don't want to show up to a strategy session empty handed. To make sure that you can actually get the most of your session the tools below can really help you out.
I wrote down all of my thoughts in my adorable Kate Spade notebook that I adore so much and I couldn't write enough during my entire session. You definitely need either a few pieces of paper/notebook or a computer to write down everything. I wanted to shut down for this session so I wouldn't be tempted to peek at Facebook or Twitter.
Pens are totally essential during your session. I only used black ink, but it might make your notes even better if you used various colors and color-coded all of the great advice you get throughout the session. I would suggest though, that whatever color coding technique you decide to use, that you keep it totally manageable. You don't want to focus so much on color coding your notes that you miss out on important information during your session. Another alternative to color-coding during the session, is color-coding after the session. Take the time and write everything down, stream of consciousness style, and then organize it later when you have an hour to burn.
Quiet Place To Have The Session
It might be totally appropriate for you to have a session in a coffee shop (especially if your session is face to face) but make sure that whatever session you have you are free from distractions. I happened to be in my room at home when I did my session. I made sure to tell my parents beforehand (because my mom has a habit of screaming at me in my room, and not stopping until she gets an answer, typical mom behavior.) Having an environment that is comfortable and free from distractions gives you the ability to focus on what really matters--the strategy session.
Phone That Works Well
Obviously the last thing you want during a strategy session over the phone, is your phone to break up or go dead. Make sure that the phone you use works well, maybe even use headphones to cancel out background noise. Also be sure that your phone is charged and ready to roll before the call, don't have your call on a 10% battery, for obvious reasons.
With permission from your strategist (of course) recording your session would be a great way to keep the session for a while, and make sure you got all the little nuggets of information possible. Even if you use a recorder, I would still take occasional notes, because sometimes voice recorders fail.
My Strategy Session Takeaways
I could literally go on and on about all the fun things that I learned during the session. There are so many amazing things that I talked with Bri about and this gave me such a rush. I literally couldn't wait to work on my blog and my blog goals after I got off the phone with Bri. Here are some of my favorite takeaways from this whole shebang.
Your Brand Is So Much More Than Your Logo
Bri does so much more than strategize. She has worked on some amazing websites and branding might as well be her middle name. I'd really love for her to work on the design for The Happy Arkansan one day, she is literally bae. Seriously--go check out her portfolio. One thing she kept stressing throughout the entire phone conversation though, is that your brand is more than your logo, and I couldn't agree more. She is so knowledgeable and that point really drove home to me. Before I can really get a new design with my blog, I have to take a step back and see what kind of image my blog is giving off content wise. Your brand is your logo, your content, and everything everyone says about you when you aren't in the room.
Come Through For Your Reader, When She Needs You.
This is another great message for bloggers everywhere. Often we come up with a great idea and we want to execute it right away because it seems like the best thing to do. It's not always the best thing for our brand or our readers. Coming through for our readers, not when we want to, but when they need us to is key. I am so thankful for that message because it definitely made me re-think how I wanted to go about my projects in 2016.
Schedugram. This is probably one of the best takeaways ever from the call, because I had no idea this program existed. I have no idea how this company does what it does, but it's basically amazing. It's an Instagram scheduler that actually posts things for you! Most Instagram schedulers out there don't actually post things--they just allow you to push the things out there when you want them to. Learning about Schedugram will completely revolutionize the way that I post on Instagram now. It's not free, but it's only $20 a month if you have less than 10,000 followers and it's perfect. It's already saved me so much time and I am still in the free trial period. Love it!