3 Questions To Ask When Your Writing Mojo Fails

By Sian Yewdall

Hands up who’s ever felt the powerful energy of a blog post writing it self?

When real motivation strikes, magic happens. Wherever you are, whatever you’re doing, you can feel the vaults of inspiration surge from your toes to your nose. The words start flowing. It’s electric and your fingers can’t keep up with your mind as they dance over the keyboard.

Then…Boom! You’re done. It’s the best work you’ve ever produced and you walk away feeling like a sassy combination of Beyonce and Jane Austen because your work was just so darn good.

Slayed it!

But what happens motivation fails?

You know those days when you write simply to put words on a page to produce something and your mind has already left the laptop to prepare dinner, write a mental draft of tomorrow’s social media posts, and strategize your next free resource to boost your mailing list?

I’ll be the first to admit I’ve had many days when I’ll only do what’s necessary in order to get it off my to-do list and not infuse my words with the empowering energy they require.

Then, even when I know the article is less than stellar, somehow I still expect my tribe to fawn all over my post with gushing comments, just because I typed up a few notes and emailed them a personal message with a link to the article like I was the Queen gracing them with my presence.

Now, don’t mistake me, I’m not advocating perfectionism. But I do believe often as writers, bloggers, small business owners and Oprah-style entrepreneur enthusiasts, we feel compelled to write and produce content because it’s what the ‘rules’ say.

Yes, we’re well aware that consistent, valuable, entertaining and sharable content is gold. We know what makes the blogging online world go round.

But have you stopped to ask yourself what you really need in order to guide your next step and connect with that magical mojo again, or are you just putting one foot in front of the other because you fear being left behind?

If at some level you’re feeling a heart-driven pull to slow down on content creation to conjure up that magical writing mojo, here are three questions to ask yourself:

1.    Am I OK?
Does the sensation of sitting down at your laptop send a cold shiver down your spine? Are you tired? Exhausted? Drained? Frustrated? Is there a weight on your shoulders that you’ve not yet acknowledged?

Stop for a moment and ask yourself, ‘Am I ok? How do I really feel?’  Take a few deep breaths and give yourself permission to connect with your heart to find out what’s really going on for you underneath it all. Perhaps your lack of motivation goes deeper than not having a good blog post idea to latch on to?

2. Am I still on purpose?
If the word purpose doesn’t sit comfortably with you, then change this question to, ‘Am I still having fun? Am I happy with what I do generally? Does it still bring me joy?’

In order to reconnect to your motivation the original desire and purpose of why you do what you do needs to exist. If you left the 9 to 5 hustle to experience more fun and freedom as your own boss, or blogging is your creative outlet, does the intention behind your decision still hold true?

If at your core, you are still captivated by your service, then it sounds like you just need time out. If not, you may have hit on something deeper. Are you ready to acknowledge it and let go?

3. What can I do now to honour this feeling?
In an email I received from a Life Coach, she admitted she had returned after entire month off. No social media. No newsletters. No pre-scheduled articles. No connection with her tribe at all. She realised one day she hadn’t taken a significant break from her business in nine years and her heart and soul was calling her to step away. So she did.

The point being, she obviously loved herself enough to feel in to her heart, ask herself what she needed and then honoured the realisation by making it happen.

If she didn’t disconnect and gain space then the only person she would be letting down was her self. Her tribe, because they love her, completely bowed at her awesomeness and cheered, ‘Hell yes! Go you!’

Your tribe is your tribe because they love you. They will support you if you’re open, honest and transparent about why you need to do what you do, and if they don’t understand, then I’d question whether the relationship was a genuine heart-driven one in the first place.

In a world of constant connection and other people’s motivated energy coming through in your news feed, it can be very easy to believe you need to keep going at optimum pace everyday to maintain the hustle and strive to be a success.

But I like to think of the Hare and the Tortoise. You’ll get there in the end if you run your own race with love, honour and grace.

Sian Yewdall is the Founder of  The Woman Rising Network , a space dedicated to providing online workshops to help you cultivate your best life offline. 

She lives in Townsville, Queensland with her partner and two children, is addicted to dark chocolate and Netflix. Connect with her on Instagram via @WomanRisingHQ or @SianYewdall

The Journey To Believing In Yourself (It's Not Always An Easy One)

Belief-in-yourself

By Jenipher Lyn

One of the hardest things I’ve ever had to do (and still have to do all the time) is to believe in myself. Life is a pretty challenging place, especially when you’re going after your dreams!

Believing in yourself with your whole heart is the only thing that will get you through the rejections, the setbacks, and the disappointments that come unexpectedly and often all at once.

Your true self is the part of you that dances when you think no one is looking and sings at the top of your lungs even though you might be a little tone deaf. It’s being the person you always felt you could be if the pressure of being someone else wasn’t so heavy.

Are you hiding your true self or doing things just because you feel like you’re “supposed to”?

When I was a teenager, I felt like I had to be a “girly girl”, so I had days where I played dress up. One of my friends would invite me out with her friends and I’d go.. but I felt SO insecure being myself. So I would wear my girliest clothes, sometimes even makeup, and try my best to emulate what I thought I was “supposed” to be like. It felt mechanical, exhausting, and I felt like a fraud.

At the time I think I really believed that if I tried harder to become someone different than myself, then I would... but I learned that’s not the case. After a handful of pretending adventures, I burnt out on not being true to myself, so I started figuring out what made me “me”.

Believing in your true self (and not the person everyone else wants you to be) will come more easily once you start to truly get to know yourself.

As an adult I now know my style is cute and comfortable, and I’m certainly not a make up girl. I’d rather paint than spend time doing my hair and feel confident in my messy buns and colorful mixed matched socks than trying to look sophisticated or trendy. And for me, this is my true self!

Here are a few tips to help you begin your journey to believing in yourself:

  • Keep trying new things. Then decide what you like the best. Once you know the answer, DIVE IN and learn as much as you can. DEVOUR your craft and you’ll FLOURISH! The more you know, and the better you feel doing things, the easier it will be to believe in yourself!
  • Throughout your life you will try lots of different things; some activities will stick, some will feel like chores. My creative journey took me to jewelry making, horseback riding, making dollhouse food, painting, food photography, fashion design, and FINALLY illustration.
  • Not everyone will believe in you, and that’s okay too!
  • I have been surrounded by naysayers many times in my life. Especially on my journey trying to find my purpose. Throughout each chapter in life, i felt lonely at certain points. (many points to be honest!)
  • When I finally figured out that I wanted to encourage people for a living, little sparks began to form around me. Until then, my family really didn’t trust my judgement to be an illustrator. Something changed in their eyes and perspective when I started encouraging others, though. My family began to tell their friends about me, and people were excited to share my work. Wanting to encourage others changed my life, it made me believe in myself, which made my family and others believe in me too.
  • Try and find someone who believes in you, even on the days you don’t believe in yourself. Someone that helps build you up and not people who make you feel bad about yourself. There’s something really magical when you find someone [a friend, family member, or significant other] who really understands all of you (both good, and messy you!)

My husband is the KING of pep talks for me. I’m very quick to freak out, pile in the cookies, or take a nap. He is often blunt, and very honest, but in a kind way, he builds me up often and I’m so grateful for him in my life. When I was growing up, my GREAT Aunt Kiki was my only 100% confidant. I felt comfortable to share every thought and dream with her and I’m SO grateful to have had her in my life.

My great aunt was my safe place and I miss her every day. She was the person I went to throughout my whole life. When I needed a trusted friend, a listening ear, and a comforting meal. She made me feel heard and loved. Calm and understanding, even when she didn’t understand.  Someone like this, even just one person makes ALL the difference in the world.

Remember that relationships take time, and just because someone isn’t your go to person right now, you never know what they will become, or who else you’ll meet in time. Give others a chance to believe in you, and show them who you really are.

Ultimately, you’re the only one who can truly believe in yourself. The only one who feels the flutters in your belly when you know things are how they are meant to be so trusting your gut is crucial. Over time, believing in yourself will be super easy!!! Except for on the days it isn’t. And those days are okay too! ;)

Jenipher Lyn is a self-taught artist who believes the more genuine encouragement in the world, the better! Her goal in life is to inspire as many girls and women that they are not alone! She accomplishes this with whimsical illustrations and vulnerably humorous articles.She can be found drawing and eating cupcakes in the middle of Florida with her amazing husband and giant cat, Baby.

How To Expand Your Business Into Overseas Markets

By Jennifer Robson

Going global is a significant undertaking for any business but can be even more significant for small businesses.  So getting it right is vital.  Undoubtedly going global will disrupt your existing business activities in some way; your resources and team will be affected. So its crucial that business owners determine the full impact of an international move before jumping in feet first.  You need to determine if the rewards outweigh the risks. 

Taking your small business global is a complex process, which requires planning and research. Before you begin you need to gain a better understanding of your target markets.  It is useful to conduct market analysis and comparative market analysis to help you to understand the pros and cons of your strategy.  You also need to understand your best route to market and analyze different approaches to understand which is the best fit for your company.  You may find that you need to take a different route to market in each new target country. 

Before going global, it is critical to understand what the full impact on your business will be.  Due diligence is critical.  Think about the impact of the new venture on your whole business.  If you suddenly get an increase in sales can your manufacturing processes cope? Do you have an internationally focused sales team? Will you need to change your office hours to accommodate new time zones? How will you deliver customer service across borders?

Planning tips

  • Prepare a market segmentation analysis to determine if your product will sell in the local market.
  • Prepare a product gap analysis against local products. Is there a demand that is not satisfied by a local company?
  • Your product will likely be higher priced than local products. Will the market buy your product
  • Consider market opportunity/sizing. How big is the market and how long will it take you to capture your targeted sales?

Each market has its own nuances due to economic, cultural, governmental, and market conditions.  Before you begin working in a new market create a business plan.  The business plan should integrate with your existing business plan and outline the impacts and how you intend to mitigate against any threats.

One of the major factors to consider is your team.  Who is going to run the new business venture for you? How will they work with your existing team? What skill sets do you need? Do you need to recruit locally? How will you do this?

During your research you should have analyzed your products fit for the market.  Now’s the time to make any necessary adjustments. Be sure to review government and industry-specific regulations to ensure that your product or service is compliant.  You may need to obtain country specific certifications. Pay close attention to the translation of the name of your product in the local language. Do you need to make adjustments to your branding and packaging? Consider a local logistics and distribution network. Who will sell your product and how will it get to them?

Next you need to determine how you will sell your product or service in the new market.  What’s the optimum sales model? What’s the best marketing channel? Do you need an Omni channel approach?

As part of your country business plan you should also develop a finance strategy and predict your profit and loss.  Develop key performance indicators, which can be owned by your local team.  Also develop KPIs for your existing team to encourage the two to work together and support one another. 

Expanding your business overseas is not for the fainthearted, but for most businesses it offers far greater opportunities for growth than limiting yourself to your domestic market. With the right strategy “going global” can produce great results.

For more information about how Routes and Branches Limited can help your business go global please contact Jennifer Jennifer@routesandbranches.com.

Behind The Blog Scene // Alisha Johns of LISH Creative

I'm excited to be back this week spotlighting one of my fav ladies on social media - Alisha Johns of LISH Creative! I've never been shy about sharing my love of Instagram and I've been lucky through this journey of running Blog Society to get to meet some pretty talented #girlbosses both online and off.

Alisha is one of those ladies.

She is a whip smart marketer and creates one of the most vibrant and colourful feeds out there. I just had to sit down with her to find out what really happens behind the scenes of her biz and how she's using social media to kick MAJOR goals. Enjoy... x Jac

Tell us a little bit about Lish Creative and your background?
LISH Creative is a social media agency for fashion, lifestyle & hospitality brands. My clients appreciate design, want to be inspired, and know the value of creative content for their businesses. After I graduated from Virginia Tech, I held various social media and creative roles at advertising agencies in Pittsburgh and always freelanced on the side. I knew I wanted to be an entrepreneur, but I also knew that it was important to gain industry experience first. But when I started to get burnt out, and had to turn down great freelance projects because of my day-job, that’s when I knew it was time to take the leap.

What is your creative business manifesto?
Beautiful & smart content can change the face of your brand. It provides the ultimate first impression. It attracts & retains a community.

Without social media, and a platform like Instagram to create content to share with the world, I personally would not be where I am today. That’s why I am so passionate about helping others to achieve the same.

What fellow #girlboss inspires you at the moment?
I’m so inspired by Kelly Mindell of Studio DIY. She’s been able to work with some incredible big brands (like Starbucks and Coca-Cola…!) yet she always stays true to her brand and offers a unique spin. Her dedication to incredible original content is an ideal that I am always striving for in my business.

We adore your colourful instagram feed - what role does social media play in your business?
I started to get serious about Instagram after college, as a way to differentiate myself when applying to creative jobs in the advertising industry. Employers kept wanting to push me into Account Management roles and I was trying to find ways to break out of that box. Not only did my imagery catch the attention of my former employers, but it also helped me to discover my love for styling and creating visual content. As my community continued to grow, my work began getting picked up by media outlets and brands started asking me to style their products. That’s when it really hit me that there’s a business here. I’m not trying to be dramatic, but Instagram literally changed the course of my career - it has opened so many doors. And now, It is my primary source for new clients and networking.

My biggest biz moment/milestone was....
I secured my first retainer client while I was still working full-time. That was really a turning point for me and led to me submitting my two weeks notice! It’s crazy how one client can give you so much confidence.

My dream collaboration would be?
This is a tough one! There are so many colorful brands out there that I adore, but I would love to style a campaign for Jcrew.

Best piece of advice to all the budding entrepreneurs out there…
Don’t be afraid to put yourself out there! Developing an online and social presence is essential for networking and for building your credibility. Start creating amazing content to share with the world and tell people about, everyone!

Behind the scenes of running Lish Creative looks like…
Props, props everywhere! I’ve become quite the collector of little odds and ends for styled shoots and they’ve made their way all over my studio space.There’s also a daily dose of avocado toast for lunch and netflix watching after 7pm.

My tip for handling fear, envy or comparison is…
When you’re feeling afraid, remind yourself of all of your wins and the incredible things that you’ve had to accomplish to make it to where you are right now at this very second. For me, fear comes with overwhelm and with looking too far ahead into the future.I have to take a step back, reflect, and focus on the present day.

This year I've been most excited about...
My new freedom from the 9-5 and the ability to travel more! That was huge motivator for me in deciding to take the leap. I’ll be able to spend more time in Los Angeles, in particular, and that’s something I’m really looking forward to!

Top Image: Tracy Mele

5 Must Know Tips for Taking Better Blog Photos

By Kimberly Murray

Everywhere I look it seems that someone is posting a beautiful picture online. Have you noticed that, too? Whether on Instagram, Pinterest, or your blog, visual images are key to communicating to people more about yourself, your brand, and/or your products and services. For bloggers, high-quality visual images are essential to securing the best sponsored post opportunities with the brands that you love. For businesses that sell a product, they are crucial to showing how your product looks or works. Many creatives choose to hire a professional photographer to create images for their visual marketing strategy. However, you may want to create them yourself. There are a few simple things you can do to make sure that your photos stand out.

1. Learn Your Camera
Regardless of the type of camera you are using (e.g., DSLR, point-and- shoot, cell phone), it is important to know all of the features that are possible to adjust. Sure, you can take a decent photo with your camera on “auto,” but you have so many more options if you learn to adjust some of the manual features. Instead of having the camera guess the type of look you are trying to achieve, you have control over whether you want everything in focus, the background blurred, a really bright image, etc.

Sometimes, when your camera is on “auto,” the resulting image will be underexposed or too dark. You might think to yourself, “I can just fix it in photoshop.” But, you shouldn’t have to. Take time to learn your camera settings so that you can get it right “in camera.” If you aren’t ready to jump right into full manual mode, many cameras have in-between settings, where you adjust one component, such as the aperture or f-stop (which controls the amount of blur in your photos), and the camera automatically adjusts the other settings for you.

2. Turn Out the Lights
After learning your camera, the number one thing you can do to improve the quality of your photos is to turn out the lights. It sounds counter-intuitive, but it’s true. In my opinion, natural light is the best way to go! (Unless, of course, you have an awesome studio lighting set-up. In which case, you probably wouldn’t be reading these tips.) When I am at home, I take my photos near the windows in the mid- to late-afternoon, which is when my living room gets the best light. If I am in a cafe or restaurant and know that I want to snap a picture with my cell phone to post to Instagram, I always choose a seat by the window.

Turning out the lights applies to shoots outdoors, too. If you do “outfit of the day” posts, try taking your next photo in the shade and avoid the urge to use your pop-up flash. This creates an image with nice, even lighting. If you want to try that hazy or sun flare look, then stand with your back to the sun and have someone take a photo of you. This is referred to as a backlit photo.

3. Study Your Surroundings
Spend a day studying the light in your home. Turn out the lights and see which rooms get the most light and at what time of day. What if none of the rooms get ample light? Take your setup outdoors. Mother nature provides the best light there is! If you opt to stay indoors, shoot in the rooms that you’ve learned get the best light. Hey, no one needs to know that you shot images for your latest recipe post in the bathroom…unless of course, you have tell-tale signs in the background. Speaking of which, once you decide on where you want to shoot, take a moment to make sure that there is nothing distracting in the frame. There’s nothing worse than getting ready to upload your image to your blog or website only to discover that you forgot to remove that dirty mug. Finally, it is wise to look around and make sure that there is nothing nearby that is creating a color cast (or unintentional tint) in your image. For example, if you are trying to achieve a bright image with lots of neutral or light tones and there is a bright pink object nearby (but out of the frame), that pink color might create a tint to your otherwise neutral scene.

4. Buy White and Black Foam Core
Most craft stores sell foam core in white or black. They can double as both backgrounds and objects to reflect or detract light. When I’m shooting an image and I notice that the shadows are a little deeper than I’d like, I prop up a piece of white foam core next to the setup (and opposite the window) to reflect light back into the scene and lighten or remove the shadows. Anything white or silver will do the trick…a white sheet of paper, a white pillowcase, or a piece of aluminum foil wrapped around cardboard. The opposite is true with black foam core. I use it when I want to create more shadows.

5. Experiment with Angles and Aperture
Once you’ve learned to adjust your camera settings, found the best light, removed distracting elements, and set up your scene, it is time to take the picture. If you are using a digital camera or cell phone, there are an endless number of exposures you can take. So, don’t be afraid to snap away! Typically, I either shoot my images straight on, slightly above the scene at an angle, and directly overhead (oftentimes called the “bird’s eye view”). Which angle I choose depends on what I want to highlight. The angle also affects what aperture or f-stop I choose. (Again, the aperture dictates whether some aspect of the photo is blurry or whether everything is in focus. It is adjusted by changing your f-stop.) When I take photos straight on, I almost always blur part of the background to make the main focus of the image stand out. I achieve this by choosing a smaller f-stop, such as f/2.8 or f/2.2. For extreme blur, some lenses go down to f/1.2. I also achieve this by moving whatever I want in focus away from the objects in the background and closer to my camera lens. The closer they are to the objects in the background, the more everything will appear in focus. When I shoot at an angle, I typically want to focus on the object in front and show the other objects in back, but slightly out of focus. When I shoot from above, as I do with flatlays, I always shoot at a higher f-stop (e.g., f/16) so that everything is sharply in focus. In general, if you want to show height, such as with a stack of cookies, you will choose to shoot straight on or slightly above at an angle. If you are shooting something flat (e.g., pizza, invitation suites, what’s in your bag), you will likely choose to shoot from above.

Those are some of my top tips for taking better photos for your blog or website. With a little bit of practice and experimentation, you can create images that make your brand stand out. How will you use these tips for your next photo project?

Kimberly Murray is a product, lifestyle and portrait photographer. She works with creatives to enhance their visual marketing strategies prior to their launch and throughout the life of their businesses. She also collaborates with bloggers on special projects. You can find her on Instagram, Facebook, and at Kimberly Murray.