Productivity experts, business gurus, mindset teachers…it seems like everyone says journaling can change your life. You want to learn how to journal for success, but aren’t sure where to start.
You’ve tried to journal, but usually the blank page stares you into submission. After one or two entries, you quit. Or, it’s like you’ve been transported back to your teenage years and you can’t shake the silly “Dear Diary” feeling.
Don’t worry! This guide will teach you how to journal in a way that works for you.
This guide is packed with journaling methods and resources to help you get started—and stick with it. It’s specifically for small business owners who want to harness the power of journaling to grow personally and professionally.
General Benefits of Journaling
Life can get hectic, and it can be easy to get consumed by all we have going on. Journaling is a way to slow down and take time for reflection.
Journaling is more than a feel-good, sound-good activity. There is plenty of scientific evidence to support that it actually delivers real and important results.
What’s more, writing accesses the left hemisphere of the brain, which is analytical and rational. This frees the right hemisphere to create, intuit and feel. That means writing harnesses all of your brainpower to find better solutions to problems.
Benefits of Journaling for Business Owners
Journaling is clearly useful for self-growth, which is useful for business owners. Additionally, there are other business-specific reasons that journaling can help create success.
Whether you are hoping to launch a new business or wanting to grow an existing one, journaling can help.
1. Journaling sets ideas free.
The brain only has room for so many thoughts and feelings at once. Keep too many ideas locked up in your mind, and you’ll lose some as your brain makes room for others. Getting your brilliant business ideas out of your mind and onto paper captures them forever.
2. It increases productivity.
By releasing your brain from the responsibility of holding onto #AllTheIdeas, you free up space for others to take root and expand. That’s effectively doubling the number of ideas you can generate at any given time.
3. Journaling fills in the blanks.
Seeing all your seemingly disparate ideas on paper can help you (quite literally) draw connections among them. Finding those creative relationships can be difficult or darn near impossible when they’re trapped in your mind.
4. It weeds out bad ideas.
Journaling allows you to look at your business musings in black and white. This judgement-free space can help you more accurately evaluate which truly have legs—and those that sounded better in theory. Letting go of bad ideas quickly will keep you from wasting time and money on them. Even better, it can help you learn from them and perhaps reshape them into good ideas.
5. Journaling creates a record.
Tracking your ideas from fruition beyond implementation creates a record that can later be quite useful. When an idea comes to life and is successful, you can accurately reflect on how it all happened. This can help you re-create what led to your best ideas, and help lightning strike again.
Small business owners can use journaling to capture and track ideas for new businesses or offers. It can also help with brainstorming content ideas, planning social media, or mapping out sales funnels.
To get even more ideas for how journaling can help you and your business, check out How 14 Business Owners Use Journaling to Grow Their Businesses.
How to Journal for Success
There are as many ways to journal as there are people. Your journal is your own, and you can create it and use it however best suits you.
Not sure where to start? Here are a few ideas to help.
Journaling for success
As a business owner, a journal can be incredibly helpful in going from probable hunch to profitable reality (see above). You can use a journal to do biz-y things like hone your elevator pitch, brainstorm solutions to your customer’s problems, keep track of competitors and how you can separate from the herd, reflect on your values or your “why,” brainstorm ideas for scaling, dream about the future, and more.
No subject is off limits
Using a journal for business is great, but you don’t have to stop there. You can capture ideas of all sorts. Record your nightly dreams, write out a bucket list, jot down favorite mantras, or just jot down any random thing that pops into your head. If you do this all in one journal, you can later look for connections between seemingly random ideas. Or, you can use separate journals for different concepts.
Put pen to paper
Many studies have shown the benefits of handwriting vs. typing. Not only does it help you better retain information, it activates more areas of the brain to better unlock memories and trigger creativity. If you’re physically able, put pen to paper when you journal instead of typing or dictating.
Let it flow
Freewriting is a powerful journaling method. You write without stopping for a set length of time or until you fill a certain number of pages. Even if you only write, “I don’t know what to write,” you just keep going until time is up or the pages are full. The purpose is to free your brain from editing (or censoring) in real time. This allows our deepest feelings and ideas to flow.
Too much can be too much
For journaling to have the greatest affect on your life and business, it helps to do it consistently over months and years. That said, too much of a good thing can actually be too much. Research suggests that doing it every day can be overwhelming, and that three to four days a week for 15 to 30 minutes at a time is ideal.
Shake things up
It can be easy to get stuck in a rut with anything, including journaling. If you’ve been doing it for a while and are feeling creatively stunted, do something unexpected. Write with your nondominant hand, try audio entries rather than handwritten, head outdoors or somewhere new to journal, use crayons, etc. Experiment from time to time to keep the creative juices flowing.
Let go of perfection
Nothing is a bigger killer of journaling (or any creative outlet) than perfectionism. Remind yourself that your journal is a private space only for you. Write quickly to help free your brain from worries about spelling, punctuation, and grammar. The more you can learn to accept and embrace bad writing, the freer you’ll be and the more rewarding journaling will become.
Try using prompts
There’s nothing worse than staring at a blank page. When you encounter writer’s block (and even the best writers do from time to time), journaling prompts can be a useful tool to help the words flow. More on that next.
The only rule with journaling is there are no rules! Treat your journal like an accepting, loving confidant, or like a free therapist. The more you open up to it, the more it will reveal to you.
Journaling can be messy, and that’s okay. In fact, in journaling and in life, in the mess is often where we find the magic.
Best Journals to Buy
If possible, use old-fashioned pen and paper to journal. Research has shown that people learn better and retain more information when they write things down instead of type. Even so, journaling in any form can be incredibly beneficial, so don’t let this be the thing that keeps you from starting!
Most stationery designers offer blank journals that are beautiful and may help inspire you to start writing! If you’re like some people and don’t want to “ruin” a pretty journal by actually writing in it, then consider using a basic notebook.
You can also maximize productivity (and ensure you don’t forget to do your journaling) by having your planner double as a journal. Most daily, weekly, and even monthly planners have space for taking notes.
Prefer digital journaling? You can use the notes section in your phone or computer, or choose among the many online options for capturing your thoughts. Penzu is a private, totally customizable online journal (also available as an app) and Evernote has a very robust notekeeping desktop and mobile app that can be used for journaling (along with any business/personal notekeeping). Both programs have free versions.
Still unsure how to get started? The easiest journaling practice is to simply take a few minutes and reflect on your day or dream about the future.
Each day, take out a sheet of paper (or your journal or planner) and answer one or several of these questions:
- What made yesterday great?
- What could have made yesterday better?
- For what are you grateful?
- What do you want to accomplish in the coming years?
- How could you push closer to those dreams today?
Some other journaling exercises include things like writing out a simple pro/con list for a challenge you’re facing, doing a brain dump to get all of the thoughts in your head onto paper, a to-do list or a list of big-picture goals, or just writing uninterrupted for 10-15 minutes about a thematic word of the day (family, community, mindset, change, hope, etc.).
If facing a blank page feels overwhelming, but you want more variety than what I’ve already suggested above, then you may love using journaling prompts. These are questions or other starters to unlock your brain.
A few examples of prompts include:
- Words to live by…
- What I wish others knew about me…
- I’m most content when…
- What I’ve learned from mistakes/failure
If you love journaling prompts, check out these posts: Morning Journaling Prompts, Creative Journaling Prompts, and Journaling Prompts for Self-Discovery.
I’m not one for hyperbole, so it means something when I say Podia is the best thing to happen to my business.
I switched to Podia in early 2018, and have not once regretted that decision (find out why I dumped Thinkific for Podia). It’s a one-stop shop for my offerings and makes my life so much easier. My favorite part, though, is that I’m PAYING LESS and getting so much more. How often can you say that?
In this post, I’m sharing my review of the 10 features that I love most about Podia. If you run an online business or just want to make extra money from online offerings, Podia could be the best platform for your selling needs.
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This post contains affiliate links. If you purchase via a link here, I’ll get a commission. The price is the same for you whether you use my link or buy directly from the vendor.
1. Create Online Courses
Creating an online course is a great way to showcase your authority and earn money. With so many hosting platforms out there, why choose Podia? For me, it’s simple—because you can sell courses but also make extra dollars by also selling digital downloads and memberships. Oh, and Podia is REALLY easy to use … their new, more robust editor is pretty intuitive and customizable.
There’s no limit to how many courses you can sell, and you can easily include video, audio, downloads, quizzes, and more in your courses. You can also deliver the content all at once or drip it out over time.
CHECK OUT PODIA FOR YOURSELF!
2. Sell Digital Downloads
One of the best ways to showcase your style and expertise is with a digital download. It’s also one of the easiest ways to start earning money online. It’s so simple to put together a PDF, eBook, guide, or workbook using Canva, or to create a template or audio file that you can sell.
Also, if you’re not yet ready to invest in an email marketing platform like ConvertKit, you can use the digital download option as a free way to deliver your opt-in (also called a lead magnet or freebie).
3. Host a Membership
The reason I switched to Podia was because I wanted to create a membership and my previous course-hosting platform didn’t provide that service. Now, I can sell everything in one place rather than having to pay separate providers for each thing (ie, Thinkific for courses, Gumroad for downloads, and Kajabi for memberships).
Memberships are an awesome way to earn recurring income from your audience. It allows you to build a community of fans who love your content, engage with you, and support your work. You can even set them up “Patreon” style but without all the extra fees!
4. Make More with Bundles
Combine two or more products together and sell them as a package to generate additional revenue. Offer multiple products for a single price (that’s lower than the sum of the original prices), incentivize prospects to purchase a new product (by including another product with their purchase), or create customized bundles for different customer personas (e.g. “The Course Creator Bundle”, “The Blogger Bundle”, etc…).
Bundles are a smart way to make more money per sale, and to help your customers with a more comprehensive offering.
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5. Use Upsell Offers
Upsells are a great way to increase the size of your orders by giving your customer a great deal on adding additional products to their purchase. You can set up an upsell for any course or download so customers who are already buying from you can very easily make an impulse buy of an additional product.
Using discounts on the upsells can incentivize someone to make an additional purchase they may not have otherwise, which ups your total earnings without all the extra effort of a lengthy email sales campaign pushing other offers.
6. Basic Email System
Podia has a very basic email marketing system actually built into it. This is really great for anyone who is newer to online selling and doesn’t yet want to invest in a more robust and pricey platform like ConvertKit (what I use and love).
While not comprehensive, the internal email system does allow you to create drip campaigns that are triggered with a purchase (perhaps a series of emails to sell a buyer of a digital download on a more expensive course), or one-time campaigns that can be used for weekly newsletters or to update students/members about changes to your courses/memberships.
You get basic analytics (how many people received the email and when, plus open and click rates). You can’t yet schedule emails, but it is a feature that is likely to be added soon (I’ve requested it, and Podia is usually good about getting to customer requests pretty quickly).
7. Create Quizzes for Courses
A pretty snazzy (and newer) feature on Podia? Quizzes. You can now add them easily to your courses to help to reinforce what your students learn. They are simple, clean, and easy to use—plus, they work on mobile.
Just ask whatever questions you want and then when a student finishes answering all of your questions, they’ll see their final results before moving onto the next lesson in your course.
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8. Embed the Buy Button
These features aren’t necessarily listed in order of preference because the embedded checkout is probably my very favorite feature. It allows you to turn any web page into a sales page, meaning visitors can buy your Podia products without ever leaving that page.
Seriously, this was a game changer for me. Now I can create my own landing pages on my WordPress site and allow people to buy my course or digital download (or enroll in my membership) without having to navigate away from my website. Remember, the more steps someone has to take to purchase, the more likely they are to change their mind.
You can see how the buy buttons work on this page where I sell low-cost masterclasses. There are also options to create product cards (with an image, product title, and description along with the buy button) or text links that embed the checkout trigger directly into a text hyperlink.
9. Set Start Dates
If you don’t have evergreen courses (those that are available for purchase and automatic start at any point), don’t worry. You set a course to start at a future date, so you can pre-sell your courses and get paid while you create!
This can be helpful in a few different scenarios:
- You’d like to pre-sell your course and allow students to pay for it before the launch date.
- You’d like to have all of your students start your course at exactly the same time.
- You’d like to run your course multiple times per year (and have everyone start at the same time).
With this feature, your students will be charged immediately after they purchase. This is different from Podia’s pre-launch feature, which simply collects email addresses of people interested in buying your course when it launches. You can also remove a start date (and give everyone access immediately) anytime before the start date passes.
10. Integrations Make Life Easier
Podia integrates seamlessly with most major email marketing platforms, including ConvertKit, Mailchimp, AWeber, Drip, MailerLite, and ActiveCampaign. There is also an integration that allows you to connect your shop with ThriveCart for affiliate marketing (although I just use Podia’s built-in affiliate system because it works for my needs at this point).
Also, you can use Zapier to automatically do a ton of super specific tasks. You can create a Zap to add a new member to a Google Sheet or to receive a Slack message for every new purchase, as examples.
CHECK OUT PODIA FOR YOURSELF!