advice

Are You Sharing Too Much Information With Your Readers?

By: Cassandra Lane

It’s a dangerous word.

And if it conjures up thoughts of being fearlessly real, daringly vulnerable and knee-knockingly personal, you’re not alone. After all,  you’ve probably heard this oft proclaimed (but seldom examined) nugget of  wisdom.  “To foster authentic connections with your customers and readers, you need to be real. You need to be vulnerable. And you need to be willing to share personal information. So naturally, fearfully, you plunge forward with being daringly real. You roll up your (heart on your) sleeves, whip out your laptop and begin sharing. Business challenges and triumphs, inspiring conversations with your companions, tales of adventure and daring, the stories pour out of you like blood from an open wound.  

When Blogs Bite
But then everything goes pear shaped. Readership drops, haters start hating and all of a sudden you’re feeling uncomfortably exposed. What went wrong? Ah. Good is the question, young Jedi. And the answer is reassuringly simple: there is a fine line between sharing personal information with your readers and accidentally oversharing - and unnecessarily revealing - the deets of your latest pap smear. But no harm no foul, right? You didn’t mean to tippy toe over that fine line, so it’s not a major problem.

 Well …not necessarily. 

You see in addition to potentially alienating your audience, Dr. Rebecca Ray, Clinical Psychologist and creator of the Happi Habits program, suggests that by sharing too much online “bloggers leave themselves open to risk psychologically”. This, she believes, is because “it’s likely that he or she is attaching their worth, or at least the worth of their creative blogging endeavours, to how well they are received. This can then cause them to experience negative effects to their self-esteem if they are openly criticised or ridiculed.”

But this doesn’t mean that you shouldn't share any personal information or stories with your tribe. I actually believe that sharing is caring and that the more real and honest you are with your readers, the more real and honest they will be with you. Again though, there’s that fine line. 

So what’s a mindful blogger to do? Here are five questions to ask yourself if you’re worried you’ve accidentally submitted a membership request to the TMI club:

1. Do you feel uncomfortable about what you’ve shared? And not in a consciousness expanding, cleansing, bettering yourself way, but in an oh-my-gosh-what-have-I-done-where-is-the-delete-button way. 
2. If you’re comfortable with your article, ask yourself whether it has a purpose and positive intention for your readers. I.e. why should your readers see your article? What value does it add to their lives? If there isn’t any, Dr Rebecca recommends questioning your own motives and considering whether it’s an attempt to be liked and to gain followers or to be seen in a certain way. 
3. In two, five, ten years will you still be happy with that article being online?
4. Does the article make you feel connected to your online tribe and readers, or disconnected?
5. Are you willing to accept the repercussions of posting the article online? For example, it may be a story that puts somebody else in a bad light. Can you deal with the repercussions of having that person see the article? Consider all aspects and possibilities before hitting the publish button. And if you’re still unsure whether your article has shared TMI, ask a (trusted) friend to give you their advice. Sometimes we’re too close to the subject matter to tell whether we’re being delightfully vulnerable or overwhelmingly personal, but an honest friend will be able to help you see the difference. 

Happy blogging! 

BONUS!
Not sure if your blog content is hitting the sweet spot? Wish you could combine passion and strategy for a high-vibing experience for your readers? Drop a comment below and tell us why you love blogging to go in the draw to win one of five free blog assessments from Cass and Wild Spirit Co. (valued at $300) 

Each blog assessment includes a review of your blog and the last three-months worth of posts as well as invaluable advice on how to harness your passion and creativity to foster a six-figure readerships.

Cassandra Lane is the happy Editor-in-Chief of online publication, Happiness + Wellbeing Magazine, designated Word Wizardress at her copywriting agency Wild Spirit Co. and the Blogger Extraordinaire at the Fauna Philosopher. A quintessential daydreamer with a penchant for cloud-watching, reading, chocolate-drinking and crisp, mountain air (or really, nature of any kind, but mountain air sounded a lot cooler), she can usually be found with a book in one hand and a journal in the other. The pen, of course, will be tucked behind her ear and quickly forgotten as she floats though the rest of her day.

3 ways to use your fear to skyrocket your business

By Luisa Zhou

When I first started my business, I thought I was doing something brave in pursuing my dreams. What I didn’t realize though, was that I was actually scared out of my mind.

I was scared of disappointing my parents who didn’t understand why their up-until-now perfect daughter would want to “throw away” everything she’d achieved for what they viewed as a fantasy. I was scared of the unknownness of a path that was not predefined and didn’t have set benchmarks for “success.”

And more than anything, I was scared of being seen by everyone (even strangers) as less than perfect, of being judged as “not good enough,” and of being mocked as the once-envied success who threw everything away for a pipe dream.

Because of those fears, my business floundered. I sat back and convinced myself that I was being a courageous entrepreneur when in fact, I hid. I didn’t tell anyone what I was doing, I didn’t try to make sales or find clients and the only marketing I did was through impersonal social media ads. I was up to my eyeballs in debt, I wasn’t making enough to sustain my business and my life was crashing down around me.

Then, in literally the blink of an eye, it all changed.

Attending a conference with some of the most successful, high-profile women in the online business world, I was stoked by all of the strategic takeaways I was sure to get from their talks.

However, my biggest takeaway was far less tangible and far more valuable. Watching the successful women giving advice from the podium to those who waited in long lines to ask for it, I realized that only one thing separated those on stage from those off stage.

It wasn’t knowledge or time or talent or luck.

It was fear. Or rather, the ability and willingness to act despite it.

In that moment, I was struck by a fear greater than any I’d ever known—the fear of failing. Because I knew I wasn’t acting like those women who put themselves out there no matter what without even pretending at perfection.

Fast forward to today, and not only is my business more successful than ever, but I’m also finally at peace with myself. I feel fulfilled, happy and possibly even more importantly, unafraid.

In the hope that my experiences will be useful to you, I want to share with you 3 tips that helped me use my fear to skyrocket my business instead of letting it hold me back:

1. Use your fear of NOT succeeding to help you move past your fears around putting yourself out there.

I never want to be that struggling businesswoman whose business appears glamorous and seductive on the outside but who is in truth barely breaking even. Who can’t afford to take care of her family or live the life she created her business in the first place to be able to live.

And that fear of not having my dream business and life, of not being able to provide the life I’d envisioned for my loved ones—that was far more powerful to me than the fear of stepping out of my comfort zone and the fear of being judged as not good enough.

2. List out your fears and excuses and the worst case scenarios - you'll realize they aren't as bad as you think.

This exercise is both deceptively simple and incredibly powerful. Listing out our fears forces us to confront them instead of letting them grow in power in our imagination.

And oftentimes, the worst case scenario, when we’re forced to confront it, means simply returning to a job for the short-term or a slight bruising of our ego.

3. Fall in love with your fear.

Spanx founder Sara Blakely often credits her upbringing for her success. In particular, her father used to ask her everyday at the dinner table to share one thing she’d failed at that day, which helped her develop the attitude that failure is only a stepping stone on the way to success.

Learning to embrace fear instead of dreading it will make the entrepreneurial journey so much more enjoyable. And to put our fears in perspective, remember Steve Jobs’s powerful words: "Remembering that I'll be dead soon is the most important tool I've ever encountered to help me make the big choices in life. Because almost everything - all external expectations, all pride, all fear of embarrassment or failure - these things just fall away in the face of death, leaving only what is truly important."

Luisa Zhou is a Business Architect for women ready to build profitable online businesses. She’s also a former International Space Station engineer, an educational entrepreneur, a mobile payments start-up co-founder and a digital advertising manager overseeing millions in ad revenue.

For her stories, tips and inspiration on building your dream business and life, visit luisazhou.com, and get her free training series on jumpstarting your business and getting your first paying coaching clients here.

Photo Credit: Top: Picjumbo

5 Ways Working Mums Can Look After Their Mental Health

Working Mothers

By Ellie Hodges

The early years of motherhood are an amazing time. Full of love, hope and wanting to provide the best for your family. Those early years are also a time of incredible change and pressure for women. Navigating new roles and new identities open us to highs and lows of a whole new scale. Comfort zones become stretched in ways that can’t be prepared for, even though you tried, inviting in feelings of doubt and not being good enough. The sense of responsibility is immense and trying to do it all can feel like you are compromising yourself and the people you love daily.

Then there is the over focus on physical form and societal ideas about what being a good mum means. Conflicting advice and judgements abound no matter what you decide which just amplifies the pressure boiler that early motherhood is.

It is no wonder that women struggle most with their emotional and mental wellbeing in the first year after giving birth. But there are things, small and big, that working mums can do to look after their mental wellbeing. When women are grounded, calm, nourished, reflective and connected they live their best lives.

Be Grounded.

Being grounded is about connecting to your why and living from your values. It is the foundation of taking stock in the moment, harnessing your resources and knowing that you will get through no matter what.

  • Tune into what is going on in your life right now: What is going well and feels good? What is tough at the moment and stops you from living how you want to?
  • Remind yourself of your parenting and life values: What sort of parent and person do you want to be? How do you want to be living and spending your time? What relationships and activities sustain and energise you? What matters most to you about parenting and family life? What is important to you as a woman?
  • Make a list and take action: What are the gaps between what you really value and how things are for you at the moment? What small changes would make a big difference to your life right now? Make a plan and implement these changes at a pace that is doable for you.

Be Calm.

We respond best to situations when we are calm and non-reactive. This is helped with forward thinking, routine, feeling unrushed and looking after yourself.

  • Have routines in place for your family: Set a routine that works for your family. Routines that are structured yet flexible and evolve with your family are best. Make sure there is time for yourself and individual interests too.
  • Be an example of calmness in your home: Humans feed off the emotion of others. When you are calm your children will be calmer and how you respond to their emotions in any given moment has a big impact on what will follow. Remind yourself that you have a choice to respond or to react and of the example that you set.
  • Know and practice what keeps you calm: What helps you to feel calm? What helps the other people in your family to be calm? Teaching these skills young will benefit everyone.

Be Nourished.

When we are nourished physically, emotionally and spiritually we show up best for ourselves and for others. Nourishment is beyond basic needs and is essential to vitality.

  • Make space for what nourishes you: What fills you up? When do you feel truly alive? What feeds your soul? Engage in these things regularly and without compromise.

Be Reflective.

Taking the time to reflect on your situation brings perspective and can help you share the load.

  • Keep your expectations in check: Are your expectations appropriate for your current situation?
  • Be gentle with yourself: You are able to do this. You have been doing your best. Having more ‘good’ days than ‘bad’ days is what matters.
  • Balance the overwhelm: Pay attention to the good times. Notice all of the small ways that make your life yours. Appreciate what is going well and do more of it.
  • Let your partner in: Talk to your partner about what is going on for you. Share the load. Ask for help or for things to change that need to.

Be Connected.

I really think there is something in the old saying that ‘it takes a village to raise a child’. Parenting can feel like an isolating and insular experience that doesn’t need to be.

  • Connect with your community: Find and be with your community, whatever it may be. For example: a mum’s group; your church group; a local playgroup; online forums and groups like Working Mum’s Collective; and so on.
  • Ask for and accept help: From your partner, family and friends. Adjust work schedules as required and look at all childcare options that are the best fit for your family and circumstances.
  • Strengthen relationships: Relationships where we feel valued, understood and supported can make all of the difference. Strong relationships are created mutually and start with the people we care about most, including our children and ourselves.
  • Reach out for professional help: Accessing extra help could be the best thing for you and your family and is not a reflection of weakness. You don’t need to wait for the wheels to fall off completely before reaching out. Here are 7 things that I know about mental health that you may find helpful. Beyond Blue is another great resource and starting point.

These are just some of the ways that a mother can look after her mental health and emotional wellbeing. When a woman looks after herself she is more available to the people that she loves and supports. It is not selfish and it is not a sometimes task. Grounded, calm, nourished, reflective and connected women are resilient and create environments where children thrive.

Quick Practices for Wellbeing
Ellie has kindly put together a downloadable PDF containing quick practices for wellbeing. Download it. Print it. And put it somewhere you will see it on a regular bassi to remind you to look after your own wellbeing.

Ellie Hodges is an Adelaide-based counsellor and coach + curator and creator. She has particular experience and passion for supporting women to (re)claim their lives from: food, eating and body struggles; anxiety; trauma and illness experiences; the journey of pregnancy and parenting; life transitions; and feelings of wanting more but not knowing how.

Ellie believes that recovery, (re)claiming our lives from struggle, and living an emergent life is absolutely possible … for everyone. She has seen others do it and she has done it herself. You can find her on her blog, Facebook or Pinterest.

Image: Unsplash

Part 1 // What Was The Biggest Lesson You Learned In 2014?

2014-Lesson-Learned

I'm a big believer in looking back and appreciating how far you've come (compared to always looking at how far you have to go.) This time of the year is always one for learning and to take onboard what may have worked (or didn't work) for your blog or business and aim to change and amend in the year ahead.

This year has been a HUGE learning curve for me and if there is one lesson that I can take away from the many that I have experienced, it would to not let fear hold you back from going after what you truly want. That one small lesson has been at the forefront of my mind for a while and I was curious what other bloggers had to say so I set out to ask some of my favourite blogging friends what their biggest learning lesson was in 2014. Here's what they had to say:

"This year I learnt the importance of delegation and outsourcing if you want your blog to become a full-time, long-term, commercially viable business. Blog doesn't have to mean solo operation and having paid help is nothing to be ashamed of; in fact it's a sign you're doing well! This is really part of my strong belief that if you want your blog to become a business you need to treat it like one." - Jen Bishop, Interiors Addict

"The biggest lesson I learnt in 2014 was the importance of promoting my blog and using social media to it's full potential. For so long, I had been hitting publish on posts and then just expecting readers to 'find me'! As soon as I started using social media for more than just pictures of cake and puppies (and Blog Society has been a huge help in figuring this out!), I noticed such a difference in views and audience engagement." -  Laura Murray  

"Every image counts, so take the time to produce beautiful, original content. Keep trying to do bigger and better and only publish posts you are really proud of. 1 really great post is far better than 5 ok ones. Oh and networking is everything! Even online. Email the people you admire, speak to strangers at those awkward events - put yourself out there. The support, motivation and collaborative opportunities that you'll receive as a result will never cease to amaze." -Fiona Michelon, The Craft Hunter

"The biggest lesson I learned as a blogging in 2014 was that it is ok to write what you want to write. Don’t just write what you think people want to hear, but writing from your heart and what you are passionate about is the only way to stay happy and motivated as a blogger." - Amanda Fuller, Kaleidoscope Blog

"Branding is key. I completely overhauled my website, went from Summersalt Life to katetoholka.com, hired a marketer and graphics designer and have just seen my blog soar to new heights. By going through a thorough process of my brand, including what I want to be known for to who I want to help, I have been able to produce better quality content and actually put it on the screens of those who need it the most." - Kate Toholka  

"Just ask : no matter how wild the idea or crazy the collaboration is, put it out there you never know what the response will be if you dont ask." - Samantha Dunne, Dunne With Style  

"As a blogger, I think the biggest lesson I learned in 2014 is the valuable worth of collaboration with other bloggers. I built up my blog traffic this year, purely out of collaboration. In creating a Contributors Team, I was able to blog "blissfully" (less stress) and grow my natural network, because each contributor brought with her her own unique audience. It also gave birth to a "movement" of sorts, under #makeitblissful, which I have been able to activate recently on Instagram, which has all the more built up my brand. Connection and collaboration — here to more of it in 2015" Martine Cosio de Luna, Make It Blissful 

"My biggest lesson for 2014 would have to be to not only listen to my gut, but to act on it also, regardless of the fear. I'm doing this by changing the name of my blog and working on a complete restyle. If I had listened to the fear of potentially losing readers, I would probably have lost them anyway because I had outgrown where I was and was losing the passion. The reality is that I've had such an encouraging response from my readers for what I'm doing. It took me almost nine months to make that decision, but since making that commitment to myself, I feel so energised and excited for all of the possibilities ahead." - Mel Chesneau, Armoire, Pegs and Casserole 

"For me, 2014 was about blogging less frequently, but more robustly. I resisted the urge to whip up a quick post to 'feed the monster' and instead spent more time creating posts that were meatier and had more crafted content. I haven't always been successful at maintaining this new rhythm, but each week and each month are an improvement. The best part has been forcefully carving out more time and space to be more creative, and I'm much more proud of my content than I was one year ago." - Steph Bond Hutkin, Bondville

What was YOUR biggest lesson in 2014? I'd love to hear your thoughts so please don't hesitate to share them below...also for those wanting to dive in and get involved with our community, we'll be hosting another Blog Society Twitter Chat at 7:30pm TONIGHT - find us on Twitter here and look for the #blogsociety

Twitter-Chat



10 Ways To Love Your Life A Little Bit More

Samantha-Sunderland

By Samantha Sutherland

I don’t really believe in work-life balance. There is no magical balance, just choices, about how you feed your body and spirit that either make you happier... or don’t. So I’ve come up with a list of things that make me happier. I know if I do these things each day then my life feels free-er. I’m happier, I feel the love, and my business works. When I don’t? Well, things are a little bit tougher, caring for the little dude is a bit more stressful, I pick fights with the big dude, I feel lonely and I work really hard without getting anything done (that may be, in part, to convincing myself that scrolling Facebook counts as ‘work’). You know the feeling when everything’s just a little bit off? That. I’m obviously no saint though, and I don’t do all these things every day. But I try, and that’s all you can do, too.

Which brings me to my ten simple steps to get happier today.

  1. Sleep more. 
    Arianna Huffington famously recommended that we all “Sleep your way to the top.” Most of us run on less than a full tank, and lack of sleeps sends me to crazyland. After a few nights of deprived sleep I tend to cry at the drop of a hat, feel like I have no friends, think I’m trapped in this life I never wanted anyway... (so you can imagine, the newborn months were a piece of cake!). More scientifically, most people need between 7 and 9 hours of night, how much do you get?
  2. Move your body 
    And I don’t mean in a no-pain-no-gain-bigger-loser-crossfit-till-your-knees-break kind of way. I just mean move. In a way that you love, every day if you can. My top picks for happy movement are horse riding, hiking, and yoga. I go to the gym sometimes, and mix it all up, but I try to do something, every day. 
  3. Laugh 
    It reduces stress, releases endorphins (happy hormones), and works your tummy muscles. Plus laughing together makes you feel together, so it increases your connection to the people you’re laughing with. If you want the advanced version of this one, laugh at yourself! By being silly yourself, you will give permission for those around you to be silly as well.
  4. Learn something new
    You could also read this one as challenge yourself. I’m often not very good at the in-the-middle-of-it phase of learning, get frustrated and want to give up. But when I don’t, and I keep going, and then at the end I have a finished product (like my beautiful WordPress blog that I mainly did myself) then it is super satisfying. Stretch yourself, learn new things, keep on growing.
  5. Don’t eat junk food.
    Your health, energy, and vitality all rest on a healthy diet, it’s the foundation to enable you to do everything else you want to do. So eat lots of green things, and not too many things made of white sugar.
  6. Give up gossip
    I know a group of girls where there’s always some kind of drama. This one said that, and that one told that other one about it and analysed it until this one became the worst person. In. The. World. Then someone else jilted someone else, and all the drama swung around. Seriously, it was difficult to keep up with who was in and who was out, but even worse, I obviously couldn’t trust at all that none of them weren’t gossiping about me when I wasn’t around! If you gossip, people will fear the same of you. If you trust a gossip, there’s a good chance your secrets won’t be secrets for long. So just don’t gossip.
  7. Do more of what makes you happy.
    To paraphrase the Dalai Lama, in The Art of Happiness he says that to be happy, we just need to do more of what makes us happy, and less of what doesn’t make us happy. It sounds too simple to work, but try it out! Write a list of things that make you happy. Some ideas are: hosting a dinner party, reading a book lying in the sun on the floor, naps, spending time with friends, hiking, eating sushi, sending cards to friends, binge watching TV series on weekend evenings at home. Then try to do something from your list every day. 
  8. Do less of what doesn’t make you happy.
    Another one to help with this is believe that ‘No’ is a complete sentence. An example I always use is one of my close friends feels like she has to hang out with her husband’s brother’s girlfriend every time she asks. My friend doesn’t like this girl, and actively feels WORSE after seeing her, but regularly meets up because she doesn’t feel comfortable saying no. Learn to say no, and don’t hang out with your husband’s brother’s girlfriend anymore if you don’t want to.
  9. Connect with your circle.
    Your circle is whoever you choose. Your family, friends, mastermind buddies, online blogging friends, entrepreneurial support groups, mothers’ groups, old school friends. Whoever you love to be around. Then spend time with them. I’m not saying you have to turn into an extrovert-on-steroids like my good self! Just find the people you love and connect with them. In real life, not just online. Laugh, cry, chat, dream. Love is what gives everything meaning and growing connections grows the love that surrounds you.
  10. Connect with yourself.
    Talk about saving the best for last! To be truly happy, you need to know yourself. To know yourself means you need to spend some time in silence (meditate or do yoga) and you need to be willing to look at what shows up. Are you happy with who you are and how you are spending your life? Every day is a new chance to shape things how you would like them to be. Know yourself, so you know what dream you’re even chasing.

Bonus number 11 (since everyone loves a bonus!) - Play and have fun!

Samantha Sutherland is the excitable founder of The Everyday Adventure where she encourages women to live through play in their everyday spaces. It's possible to live your life joyfully, full of freedom, connection and adventure! She runs in person retreats and events, a Fun-Life Overhaul Challenge and blogs regularly. She's a corporate refugee who is a certified Health Coach, a mother of one as well as being chief fun-maker of The Everyday Adventure. Come join us and be happy! Connect with her on Instagram, on Facebook and via email: info@theeverydayadventure.com