2017 Content Excellence Challenge: The October Prompts

Content Excellence Challenge: October Prompts

Here are your content challenge prompts for October!

Each month this year, we’ve offered our community a pair of prompts. One is designed to improve the creativity and quality of your content. The other is designed to help you get more of that great stuff done.

Feel free to jump in this week with either prompt — or both, if you’re feeling ambitious!

The October productivity prompt

October in Sonia Simone’s world is tax month. (Yes, April is official tax month in the U.S., but October is the last month to get them in.)

This year (not for the first time), I’m wishing that I had thought about my “Future Self” starting at around November last year.

This is a technique that’s been shown to help people who put off things like retirement savings.

The idea is to visualize your “Future Self” — you in a year, or five years, or twenty — and how that person will feel when you make the good decision (save money, eat something healthy, write a page of your novel, work on your taxes) versus the poor decision (spend on silly things, eat a whole box of cookies, say you’ll work on the novel tomorrow, put off working on your taxes).

I’ve decided enough is enough. So as soon as my paperwork goes off to my very patient accountant, I’ll be setting up my “Future Self” pattern for the following 12 months.

Here’s how it will work …

Step #1: Think about your Future Self

In my case, I’ll be thinking about that person who would like to enjoy her October without sitting for endless hours at the desk finding miscellaneous bits of paperwork.

Heck, she might even file her taxes in April. Stranger things have been known to happen.

How will things be for your Future Self?

  • When you’ve posted on your blog regularly for months?
  • When your savings account is nice and healthy?
  • When your regular workout habit has you feeling fit and strong?
  • When you’ve launched your side hustle?
  • When your novel is finished?

And of course, if you don’t get those habits in place — how disappointed, stressed, anxious, uncomfortable, or cranky will you be?

Take a few minutes and picture it. Even better, write down a few lines.

Step #2: Find a time of day for a regular really small habit

I’ve decided that every work day at 3:00 p.m., I’ll spend 15 minutes entering any receipts into a proven system. For the first week or two, that time will be spent putting the system in place — finding the right software, entering accounts, that kind of thing.

You don’t want to make this habit too big. Don’t promise yourself you’ll write 5,000 words every day, or save a full half of every paycheck, or do back-to-back CrossFit workouts five times a week.

Make it something very easy and doable. You want to be able to fit it in even if the day goes sideways on you. (Because days do tend to go sideways.)

Great Future Self habits are the kind of small changes that roll up into major life transformations — because they’re so easy you can do them every day.

Try for perfect consistency — but realize, also, that perfection isn’t our lot in life. If you do fall off the wagon, it’s no big deal, just pick up where you left off. Don’t try to do a marathon to make up for the missed time (you’ll put that off forever) — just restart.

Step #3: Create support for your new habit

I’ve already set up a Freedom session for every weekday at 3:00 p.m., so if I’m on Facebook or some other site that doesn’t support my goals, the app will kick me off.

I’ve also already blocked that time (just 15 minutes) on my calendar five times a week, so I won’t schedule over top of it.

And I’ve let my family know that I’m unavailable between 3:00 and 3:15 p.m. on work days, so I won’t let myself get drawn into puppy babysitting or “just a quick coffee.”

That’s it! The more teeny-tiny you make your new habit, the more likely it is that you’ll keep it going. And if you feel tempted to skip a day (or a week), think about your poor Future Self. She deserves your help and support!

The October creativity prompt: Find your three Ps

This month’s creativity prompt comes from a “Blog Post Tear Down” we recently did with our Authority community.

Our community members come to us with blog posts and other content that they want our feedback on, and we offer constructive advice about how they can make things better.

A couple of themes emerged from our most recent session, and I realized they can be expressed as three questions you can ask yourself about any piece of content you create.

  • What’s the Point? Why does your audience want this piece of content? How does it help them?
  • What’s the business Purpose? What role (or roles) does this piece of content play in your overall strategy? Of course, to answer this question, you have to have an overall strategy. If you need some help with that, you can check out our free content strategy ebooks in the MyCopyblogger library.
  • What’s the next step on the audience Path? What do you want them to do after they’ve read this post or listened to this podcast? Should they sign up for something? Check out some more free content? Everything you publish should have a call to action to a well-defined next step … even if it’s just reading another article on your site.

Take a look at any content you created in September. How are they doing on the three Ps? Could you go back in and sharpen them up a bit?

Now take a look at the content you have planned for October. How could the three Ps make your blog posts, videos, podcasts, infographics, and other content even stronger?

Trying them out? Let us know!

Drop a comment to let us know which (or both) you’re interested in trying for yourself — and of course, let us know how it turns out!

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