Many of my clients are trying to reduce the number of hours they spend online. A study by USC Annenberg’s Center for the Digital Future found that Americans spend about 24 hours a week online. How crazy is that?
The thing is, if you have your own business, you have to spend a certain amount of time online each week to do outreach. As a result, you can end up feeling pulled between your personal needs and your business needs. If you have an aversion to doing outreach online: both the outreach part and the online part, you may avoid it completely.
If you’re reading this, you’re probably a creative entrepreneur, writer, or healer who wants to make the world a better place. It’s important that people find your work, so I’ve compiled 5 Tips for How to Do Outreach Online Without Feeling Icky below.
1. Think of outreach as an act of service
I think Alyson Stanfield is the first person who shared this idea with me during our Arts and Healing Podcast interview almost a decade ago. Some people get tripped up with doing outreach (online or otherwise) because it feels like it’s all about them.
The thing is, your marketing/outreach efforts shouldn’t be about you. Yes, you’ll be sharing your products, or your services, but your social media posts, blog posts, videos, podcasts, and even your website should be of value and interest to the people you want to reach. As you create things, you should be thinking about what would be fun, interesting, and helpful to them.
ACTION: Think of one challenge the people who you want to buy your product, or service deal with often. Now create a social media post, blog post, or e-newsletter that would make their life better in some way. Think of it as a little virtual gift for them ( :
2. Go online with a purpose and a timer
When I talk with tech-reluctant clients about doing outreach online, they often say things like, “I get sucked in,” “I go into a vortex,” or “I feel drained afterwards.” If you feel this way after doing outreach online, you’re not alone.
The thing is, you control your online life. It doesn’t control you. One way to shift your online experience is to approach it with purpose and a timer. Think of going online like going into a meeting, but it’s online and with a lot of people who you may never meet face-to-face. A well-planned meeting has a purpose, a start time, and an end time. Your time online should too.
Before you even log on, or open your computer, ask yourself:
- What is my purpose for going online right now?
- How long do I want to spend here?
Use your answers to help you avoid the online “vortex.”
Think of one online outreach/marketing task you need to complete. Get clear on your purpose and how much time you want to spend online. Now set a timer and dive in! When the timer goes off, move on to something else.
3. Get truthful about time
Many of my online-resistant clients say things like, “Being online is such a time suck,” or “I don’t have time to be online all day.”
My first question is often, “Do you know how much time you’re spending online? Are you really spending all day?” This is when time tracking can be really helpful. Knowing how much time you’re spending online will help you decide if you’re truly online all day, or if it just feels like it. I use TopTracker to track how much time I spend on various work projects. I’ve also heard good things about Harvest.
Keep track of how much time you spend online for work. If possible, notice how much of that time is spent being online with purpose (e.g. posting, commenting, sharing) and how much is mindless scrolling.
4. Embrace medium
We’re not big fans of being medium, at least in the U.S. So when it comes time to do online outreach, we may think we have to do everything, spend all our time doing it, and be amazing at it. These beliefs can cause us to feel overwhelmed and not take action.
Try the middle path.
Do a medium amount, for a reasonable amount of time, and do a good job (but it doesn’t have to be awe-inspiring).
Take a moment to list the things you want to do, or think you should be doing for outreach online. Now half your list. If it still feels overwhelming, half it again. Get your list down to a size that feels like you could actually complete it. Now go do it!
5. Take breaks
If you end up spending more than an hour on social media, be sure to take breaks. Studies have shown that taking breaks actually makes you more productive.
If you have trouble taking a pause, find a virtual, or in-person “break buddy.” Prompt each other by text, or by swinging by each other’s offices to step away from your computers for a little while.
Try taking 10 minute breaks every hour, or so during your workday. Be sure to stand up and walk away from your computer. Leave your phone behind too, if you can. Try to spend your break entirely tech free. No peeking!
At this moment in human history, our culture spends a lot of time online. At some point, the pendulum may swing back to a more analog life. Or it may not. If you have a Big Vision you want to share with the world, you’re going to need to find a way to share it online that is healthy for you and valuable to the people who would benefit from it.
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