Back to School for Internet Biz Peeps & Content Marketers

by Annie

in brain hacks, strategery

Image of composition books with blue pen

Pencils up, y'all! What are YOU ready to learn?

It’s the most wonderful tiiiiiime … of the year …

Sing it with me, y’all! The swelter is swaggering off the heat index … the pencils and pens and binder displays are evicting the beach-blankets and plastic-pail displays at the local superstore … the kiddies are looking waaaaay glum …

It’s back to school time! (Aka “silly season.”)

Brief interlude: behold, the most awesome back-to-school commercial EVER:

So what’s in it for us, the busy biz owners and the content marketers and the couch warriors? Oh, SO many things. Here, I’ll count ’em for you …

Good Thing #1: More TIME For the Couch Warrior Parents

Let’s get this out of the way right off the bat: summertime, for us work-at-home types with kids (WAHKas?) can — I’ll be succinct — suck.

Unless you’re one of the fortunate ones with a financially well-endowed spouse (lucky, lucky you) and can afford to hire a nanny or pack the wee ones off to summer camp, it’s been you + kids all summer long.

This has its perks, to be sure. My kid keeps me young and hip. (What? She DOES. Shut up.) She also encourages me to get off the couch from time to time, put the laptop up and go DO something. These are all good things. From time to time.

But day in and day out, let’s face it: having to supervise the small ones wears you down and majorly cuts into your productive time.

There’s also this corollary I’ve found to be universally true: when you work from home, well-meaning Others in your life do not see this as work.

“What do you mean, you can’t run these fourteen errands for me?? You just sit on the couch all day and play with the computer!”

“It’s OK if I drop my five kids off at your house to play with your three, right? I mean you’re home all day, right?”

“Must be nice to sit at home all summer and watch TV … ” (OK, this one’s actually true. It is nice. Thanks for asking.)

And so you get sucked in to their crap, routinely. (Repeat after me: “NO. I can NOT ________ [fill in the blank with favor-request du jour]. I HAVE TO WORK.”)

The return of school days means you get a respite from all this. The insanity settles down and you can focus on YOUR crap for a sweet change.

Good Thing #2: Deeply-Ingrained Impulse to Start New Shit

It’s beaten into us from the age of four or five on up: end of summer = time to start something new.

As highly-trained, tightly-focused couch warriors, we can tap into that deep-seated energy and use it to … oh, I dunno .. how about….

  • Revise your marketing plan?
  • Start a new coaching package or service?
  • Write an ebook?
  • Tackle a new joint venture?

Harness the energy of the back-to-school season, grasshopper, and you will prosper. I mean, sure, you can do this stuff any time of the year and do it successfully, to boot. But why not take advantage of that inner pull on your soul that’s coaxing you forward into new-ness and embrace a project that can turbo-charge your business?

Good Thing #3: Permission to Learn

One of THE coolest concepts of Zen that can be applied just about to any situation or circumstance is beginner’s mind. It’s the idea that we all learn best when we let go of preconceived notions, detach our egos from the equation, and make our minds like absorbent sponges. Basically, beginner’s mind is the state of being teachable.

I’ve found the back-to-school days give beginner’s mind a boost for me, probably for the same reasons as those at work in Good Thing #2 (the impulse to start new shit). We associate this timeframe with learning new things, and so we’re sort of primed for it, so to speak.

So what have you been putting off learning, or learning more about? Can you ramp up your expertise in a newish area related to your field, and thus increase the complexity (and cost!) of services offered? Can you tackle a new market group, learning what those folks need and are willing to pay for? How about learning more about WordPress, to make your website work even easier and open up new options for yourself and your site? Or a new language, maybe, to reach a new demographic?

The world is chock full of Stuff to Learn and the spoils will go to the curious among us.

Embrace the Awesomeness

So, for myself, I’m publicly announcing my back-to-school intentions: I’m going to up my knowledge of CSS and PHP. I’m also going to finally get that ebook done.

What’s on your course schedule for the year? Got your pencils sharpened and your backpack ready to go? Share in the comments!

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{ 5 comments… read them below or add one }

Shakirah Dawud August 23, 2011 at 4:22 pm

I’ve built up a whole lot of “Let’s do it!” inside me in terms of ramping up content, design, marketing copy, and prospecting over the summer that will probably swell and swell until it pours out around November (that’s a bit specific, I know, but something tells me…). I like the idea of remaining teachable, but it gets hard when you’re bombarded with content that ostensibly wants to teach you something all day every day in the blogosphere (summer webinars blow up your inbox much?). Thanks for reminding me to loosen up the crust of jade (not the stone) on my brain for this season.
Shakirah Dawud recently posted..Genuinely Curious Monday: Do You Use “Commercial Breaks” On Social Media?


Annie August 23, 2011 at 4:37 pm

“The crust of jade” – I am in love with that phrase.

In all seriousness, though, I am totally with you. There’s way too much out there for us to pay attention to everything in the inbox but on the other hand, now we’ve actually graduated from the lower grades, the good news is that we have no more required courses. It’s ALL electives from here on out, girlfriend. The trick — as always — is in choosing wisely.

Can’t wait to see what comes pouring out in November!


Shakirah Dawud August 23, 2011 at 5:29 pm

“… no more required courses. It’s ALL electives from here on out, girlfriend.”
Oooooh, love that you pointed that out. You’re absolutely right. Thanks for the reminder. That helps with the jade a li’l bit.
Shakirah Dawud recently posted..Genuinely Curious Monday: Do You Use “Commercial Breaks” On Social Media?


Sandy August 24, 2011 at 1:57 am

Couch Warrior and Crust of Jade. Two new lovely slogans to bandy about in my head this week and have fun with. Thanks.

You have reminded me of the years of the 6 week summer break, which here, downunder were over December and January and yes, they were ENDLESS! But now with grown up children who I love to see all the time if I can, we should have enjoyed it more. Really the work I did get done or didn’t get done, doesn’t matter a fig now.

Loved the video too. And concur. How to sift through all that knowledge screaming at you from the inbox. I read yesterday that we are constantly creating neural pathways when we learn, so perhaps just have to find a way to allocate an hour a day or something to it as that will keep us alive longer to keep on doing it! And writing ebooks, blogs, client work, linkedin, facebook …….
Sandy recently posted..Give it away, give it away, give it away, ask gently for a sale.


Annie August 24, 2011 at 9:38 am

Ohhh, good point, I forgot about you guys in the other half of the world. 🙁 My bad, creating an American-centric post and forgetting the rest of y’all! (Now I totally feel guilty.)

I love your comment about allocuting — I’ve often wished there was more of an emphasis on *how* to learn in the lower grades here in the US, and one thing I always found helpful was teaching what I was learning to others — my mom, the dog, whatever.

Thanks for the comment!


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