The Friday Files

Happy Friday guys! As I write this I'm currently in the Sunshine Coast in Queensland where for the past week I've been blissfully chilled out in baby moon mode.

This means I've (tried) to stay away from laptop and emails but nevertheless wanted to pop in today so say hello, share some of the gems from this part of the world and of course keep you inspired with what's caught my eye in the land of link love.

I'll keep this short and sweet but this time away has really made me think about self-care and the need to slow down. Often it takes a big moment like a baby moon or holiday or illness for us to truly disconnect and give ourselves permission to shut off.

Never ending to-do lists and obligations keep us working at full speed, all.the.time and it's something I'm absolutey guilty of. Being pregnant you have a responsibility to take care of yourself but I'm urging all of you to take a moment and be still this week. You don't need a babymoon to slow down, and that is been a complete eye opener for me this week. Here's to carrying a bit of calm and slow back to the big city upon my return and encouraging you take a bit of time for 'you' this weekend too.

Enjoy below...x Jac

  • Loving this series on real talk from biz mamas sharing their honest advice
  • Did you see our free list building ecourse is live? Check it out here
  • Because everything is better with a kitchen dance party playlist on hand
  • Digital calendars are a life saver, this might convince you too.
  • An April moodboard to sum up all the feels
  • I'm updating our laundry room and using this image as inspo #goals
  • This past week summed up in one photo (p.s. I never want to leave)

How To Stop Hiding and (Finally) Grow Your Business

By Jessica Ruprecht

Here’s what I know to be true: growing your first business or blog is scary. It asks you to show up in public in ways you’ve probably never dared to before and to make yourself visible before a larger audience than you’re comfortable with.

Growing a business is not for the faint of heart!  But here’s the thing: some of you might desperately want to start a blog or a business, but feel stuck because you’re equally afraid of being seen. For years this was me. I desperately wanted to grow an audience for my blog and launch an online business, but every time I put myself out there I got so scared I eventually gave up. It was too much for me – too uncomfortable, too scary, too difficult.

I felt like I was never going to be brave enough.

The courage that I saw in the women around me successfully launching and growing their online businesses just didn’t seem to be accessible for me. No matter how hard I tried I just wasn’t able to fight my way through my fears and “do it anyway”. The truth is, trying to force myself to act more bravely than I felt never made me feel courageous. It only ever made me feel smaller, more cowardly, and less worthy.

The good news is that it doesn’t have to be this way.

It took me years to figure out that there’s a way of working with your fear that doesn’t involve holding on for dear life and trying to fight your way straight through it. I learned to navigate my fears in way that was gentle and compassionate – and it was learning this that ultimately made it possible for me to stop hiding, show up in the world, and build my business.

You can learn how to navigate your fears, too. Here’s how.

The first step is to learn to recognize when fear is present.

The purpose of this step is simply to help you become more aware of when fear (or the avoidance of fear) is motivating your actions. To do that, it is helpful to learn to recognize what fear feels like in your body – do your palms sweat, does your heart pound, does your belly clench, or do your feet itch to get up and go somewhere?

Fear wears many disguises: it may look like apathy, exhaustion, procrastination, avoidance, restlessness, distraction, or numbing. But no matter what disguise fear might be wearing you’ll always know it if you become familiar with the sensation of it in your body.

The second step is to listen to your fear and honor it.

When we try to force ourselves to take action in spite of our fear we are not honoring fear’s purpose – which is to alert us the presence of danger. Instead, when we try to white-knuckle our way through fear we are ignoring how scared we feel and disregarding our own intuition.

Our fears are not silly or foolish – they are doing their very best to protect us from getting hurt. The trouble is that sometimes our happiness is worth running the risk of getting hurt. Unfortunately, our fears will never understand that we might be willing to risk a few mean comments for a chance to share our message with the world.

The truth about fear is that most of the time it really just wants to be heard. Your fear wants you to be aware that danger is present. Most of the time your fear only wants your attention – it wants to let you know that it perceives danger, so that you can be cautious as you take action.

Step two is about engaging with our fears in an honest dialogue. It’s about acknowledging that our fear serves a useful purpose and is never malicious. Step two is about asking ourselves what about this situation is my fear reacting to? And what does my fear need from me in order to feel safe?

It is important to ask these questions because this is how we allow our fear to protect us – by acknowledging that danger is present and acting to first meet our own needs in order to help ourselves feel safe.

For example, regularly publishing content to my blog is a way that I choose to grow my business; however, if I am afraid of publishing content because I’m worried that I will say the wrong thing and upset people, then publishing content to my blog is going to be a constant battle. I’ll perpetually be resisting actually doing it even as I pressure myself into blogging because I know that I should.

But here’s the thing: my worry about what other people will say isn’t foolish – it’s about protecting myself from getting hurt. What I’m really afraid of is that if I receive criticism for my words that my feelings will get hurt. So then the question is how can I protect myself from getting hurt and still publish my blog post?

This is what I can do: I can choose to not let someone else’s criticism or praise change my own opinion of myself. I can choose celebrate the courage that it took to publish my thoughts no matter what someone else does or doesn’t say in response. And I can choose to take care of myself if my feelings do get hurt – I can soothe my hurt feelings with my own affection.

When I do this, my fear eases because it knows that I have seen the danger and have taken steps to protect myself from being hurt, no matter the outcome of publishing my blog post.

As we learn to listen to our fears and honor their wisdom, we no longer have to fight our way through them in order to achieve our goals – which makes attaining our goals so much easier.

The third step is to have compassion for yourself as you struggle with fear.  I used to see my struggle with fear as cowardice. I’d tell myself, If only I were braver… then I’d be able to achieve my dreams. This approach never helped me move forward; usually, it only made me feel worse.

So this third step is an invitation to embrace your glorious humanity and be gentle with yourself as you navigate this process. You are allowed to find things frightening. You are allowed to feel uncomfortable.

In no way do these feelings detract from your inherent worth. This process doesn’t always work overnight. Sometimes our fears are deeply seated and it takes time to soothe them.

But if you keep showing up to listen to and honor your fears and keep having patience with yourself as you struggle it will become easier to step outside your comfort zone, stop hiding, and take action in your business. Because the truth is that the courage you need is already inside you. You just need to learn how to wield it.

Jessica Ruprecht is a life coach and writer at http://jessicaruprecht.com. She works with women entrepreneurs and creators who have big dreams, but whose fear of sharing their work with the world is holding them back. She helps women trust that their work is good enough so that they can finally stop hiding and start living. Her new ebook, Practical Courage: A Heart-Centered Guide to Achieving Your Dreams, will be released this spring. Sign up here to receive her free newsletter, designed to help you live your life with less fear and more courage – plus, be the first to know when Practical Courage is released!

Event // An Abundant Life Book Launch

So often we are stuck behind our screens creating digital magic that we neglect the true magic that comes from face to face connections. I got a great reminder of this recently when I headed out to the 'An Abundant Life' book tour hosted by Soul Sister Circle in Sydney.

It was a beautiful event, the kind that immediately calms away the stresses of the day and makes you focus inward, realising yet again how importance self-care - or soul care - really is. Ezzie Spencer's new book, An Abundant Life is all about embracing the lunar cycle, something that I admittedly knew little about but I left intrigued and absolutely spellbound at the undeniable lunar energy that not only radiated from the room but from Ezzie herself.

We've just welcomed a brand New Moon so it's time to give yourself permission to really dream and feel into your intention for this upcoming cycle. Commit to your intention by vocalising or writing it down, and make a firm commitment to sit with your intention throughout the entire lunar cycle. 

For a bit of guidance on what intention to set at the upcoming New Moon, listen to Ezzie's most recent Podcast or to track the moon through all of it's phases during the lunar cycle, download Ezzie's free 2017 Moon Phases Planner.

Sol+Co_SSC-60.jpg

Photo credits: Sol + Co

The 5 Steps To An Instagram Strategy That (Really) Works

Instagram Strategy

By Sofia Garcês

Of all the social media platforms out there Instagram is by far my favourite. I love everything about it from the interface to the amazing images shared to the interaction with other content creators. If you love Instagram as much as me then you now that growing in a consistent and authentic way can at times seem tricky if not completely impossible.

So today I’m sharing with you my 5 strategies to growing your Instagram in a way that is authentic to your and your brand. There’s plenty of tools that will promise you fast growth by I much prefer that you grow with substance.

Here are my 5 strategies for Instagram:

1. Show Up Consistently
I’ll be the first to admit that this is my biggest weakness, showing up and posting on your feed daily can be hard but whenever I actually do this and stay consistent the results are easy to see.

Try to post at least once per day and don’t forget to ask your audience questions for more interaction. If you can post 2 or even 3 times a day, more is always better and you’ll see results almost immediately.

2. Use Hashtags and Then Use some More
Now you can be posting every single day but no one will find you unless you use hashtags the right way. Hashtags exist in every social media platform but for me Instagram is the King and Queen of hashtags.

Create a solid list of about 15 hashtags that represent who you are, what you do and your target audience and add them to every single one of your posts. This will make you easy to find for the people who are looking for you!

3. Engage with the Community
Commenting and liking other people’s posts takes time and I know that you could be doing something infinitely more exciting but please do this at least for 10 min every day.

Be a real person and engage with other people. Like and reply to comments on your posts but also go out and comment on other people’s content this is how relationships are created. And isn’t that why we got on social in the first place?

Instagram Strategies

4. Share your Day to Day using Stories
I love Stories! The stickers the markers and everything about them! Don’t let them intimidate you, there’s no need to overthink the content you share here just share what you’re working on or something funny that you found while you were going about your day. Most of all have fun!

5. Search is your Friend
My final trick to engage and have fun on Instagram is using search to find people you want to talk about. Search for your audience using tags and keywords and engage with them! Comment on their posts, like their photos and all that good stuff.

Instagram can be a lot of fun so if all these tips seem like to much to take on then just be a human being and have fun! After all there’s no point in doing this if you’re not having fun!

Sofia Garcês is a Marketing Strategist from Portugal that helps you find clarity and focus in your online marketing by developing a comprehensive strategy around your marketing so that you know exactly what you need to do to reach your business and marketing goals and connect to your dream clients. Want to learn more visit her site at: www.sofiagarces.com

The 7 Essential Tools For Leveling Up Your Blog

By Rachel Beaney

Whether you're new to blogging or you've been doing it for years, there's no denying the time and effort that goes into crafting a stellar post. But being a blogger these days is about more than writing a stellar post: whether you're distributing your content, jazzing it up with images or jumping into new mediums like podcasting, the world of blogging continues to evolve in exciting, sometimes unpredictable ways - and it's up to us to keep up with it.

For many of us, these new avenues are out of our comfort zone. If we're blogging for business, we don't have time to play with new tools, and for some of us all this tech stuff might be a bit much. But if you're looking to explore new ways to level up your blog, I've got a list of killer tools which save time, are easy to use, and make you look like a pro.

Here are my favourite tools for creating stunning and shareable blog posts, from concept to finished product:

Get your words down
For many of us, our focus is on our business. Blogging might be a form of content marketing to get our brand, values and skills out there in the world. So grammar isn't always our first thought. But as the old joke goes, "Let's eat, Grandma!" as opposed to "Let's eat Grandma!" - grammar matters. And it helps our business and brand look more professional.

For this, Grammarly is my BFF. Spellcheck will pick up regular typos, but if your word order is incorrect, or if you've repeated a word, Grammarly will be all over it. There's a free Chrome plugin for your browser for the basics, or you can pay for the advanced features. It works all over the web - whether you're creating a post in Wordpress, LinkedIn Pulse or drafting in regular old email.

Make it gorgeous
Canva is the darling of Australia's start-up scene - the graphic design tool that is drop-and-drag simple, but has the eye of a brilliant graphic designer at its core. Canva is amazing for creating all kinds of content. While it's most famous for pulling together gorgeous Instagram quotes, I use it on my blog every week, whether I'm creating a title image, a banner ad to cross-link between posts, or an infographic for a post. If you level up to a paid subscription, your business colour palettes and folds can be saved as a default. Love it!

Make it shareable
Did you know that SEO takes into account social links? So the more your community shares your content, the greater the SEO love. There are a few nifty tools out there to help you help your audience share your content.

Click-To-Tweet lets you pull a quote from your blog to highlight and embed it so that your reader can tweet that quote in one click. There's a straightforward wizard which means it's easy to use, and embeddable with a simple bit of code.

But not everyone is on Twitter. If fact, if you're a creative businesswoman, you're far more likely to be on Pinterest. If you're targeting other women on Pinterest, make sure your content is easily accessible to your fellow pinners.

One method you might consider is to take a quote from your blog, pop it in Canva, and jazz it up so that it's utterly Pinterest-able. Make it easy for your audience to share your content on their Pinterest boards so it's a new traffic generator for you.

Get Inspired
Looking for new content ideas for your blog? Use the data you've already got! Turn to the analytics of your social media channels to find out what your audience is passionate about, and turn that data into blog posts.

Look at the articles you've tweeted over the past month (even if they aren't yours!), export the analytics and see what content people have retweeted the most. From there, see if you can pivot on those ideas for new content.

I recommend cutting the data over different time frames to see which kinds of content engage people - you might see different kinds of content if you look over a week, a month or a year. What topics, headlines, themes or mediums are people sharing? Go bold and give them a go!

Schedule It
Using a social media scheduler like Hootsuite means that you can create content and schedule it over the course of the week without posting it to each of your social media channels each day. Hootsuite also has a rad bulk upload feature which makes it even easier to upload hundreds of posts at once.

If you have a lot of evergreen content, you might find a social scheduling tool like Buffer or Meet Edgar is more useful for you as they perpetually recycle your content over months, alleviating you of the burden of perpetually scheduling it yourself.

Cross it over
While cross posting to other sites can be controversial from an SEO perspective, it can be useful to cross-post to gain new audiences, especially if those sites are social media sites. With the shift in sites like Medium and LinkedIn Pulse having their own community and algorithms, posting your content there using the right keywords or hashtags might just expose you to new audiences.

If you're using Wordpress, there are a few nifty plugins which automatically cross-posts all your posts to Medium as you publish them.

Explore new territory
There's a time in every bloggers life where they might want to experiment with a new medium. It might be a one night stand, or the start of a new relationship. Either way, new mediums help you share your content in new ways, spice it up for your audience and give you a new outlet to sink your creative teeth into!

There are some amazing services out there to help you mix up your content. Wideo.com, for example, provides a cloud-based video editing option on a subscription basis, while Biteable lets you create cute animated videos which are incredibly flexible. Similar to Canva, you can choose templates – either animated or stock footage – and completely customise them.

You might even want to branch out and host an interview on Facebook Live (using an extension like BeLive.tv to add guests) and embed it in your blog, or recycle it (the mantra of every blogger!) and turn it into a podcast for easy listening (and embedding!) later on.

I hope I've given you some new tools to play with and inspired you to jazz up your blog - and if you've got recommendations for any others, I'd love to hear about them in the comments!

Rachel Beaney is a freelance social media specialist who writes over at rachelbeaney.com. A freelancer with extensive experience working on big brands like Microsoft and Samsung, she enjoys teaching businesses of all sizes how to level up their social media with strategy and killer content. You can catch her regularly posting about dogs on Twitter or Instagram @beaney.