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3 Tips to Preserve Your Most Valuable Business Asset

By Laura Kalister

It’s Saturday morning. Your family is still asleep and you know you have a good hour before anyone wakes up. How do you spend the time?

A) Check email

B) Finish your latest project

C) Enjoy a cup of tea

D) Workout

If you chose A or B you are not alone. Being an entrepreneur is hard, especially when it comes to self-preservation. It’s easy to lose ourselves in our business when we are the boss, and success rides on our results. Add in the other hats we wear – mom, wife, partner, daughter, friend – it can be hard to carve out “ME” time.

Self-preservation can even come off as selfish, right? And sometimes it might even feel like we don’t have a choice – we go to the bottom of the list.

Unfortunately, I learned the hard way that when we don’t carve out time for self-preservation, we risk burnout, illness or other health issues, including depression. I would also offer that as entrepreneurs, we have an excellent opportunity to create a self-preservation model that is as individual as we are.

Prior to becoming an entrepreneur, I worked in corporate management, where long hours and intensity were expected. Despite the red flags going on in my head, I chose to ignore them, determined to be successful.  Only a few months in to my last job I became concerned about the toll it was taking on my mind and body. So I did the only thing I knew to cope. I turned to food as my form of self-care to numb out the stress of the day. I would overeat whenever possible, disconnecting from my body to keep pushing myself. Each night after 2-3 hours of “catching up” I crashed, exhausted and physically uncomfortable. Rinse and Repeat.

Do you see a theme here? It didn’t matter if I liked what I was doing. I was miserable because every waking moment was about my job. I was so afraid of failing that I ignored every signal from my body. More hours gave a false sense that I was that much closer to catching up…hamster on a wheel.

I gained over 80 pounds that year. I went from an outgoing woman who took really good care of herself to an isolated, depressed person just surviving. I was trying to pour from an empty vessel and nothing was coming out.

The intensity was part of the organization’s culture so I had a choice to take it or leave it. I was seriously worried about the weight gain was affecting my emotional and physical health.

After a disastrous “vacation” where I spent most of the time working and being a bitch to my family, I finally paid attention to myself and made the decision to resign. I took a break, redefined my priorities and made a commitment I would never erase myself again.

I offer this as a cautionary tale because now, on the other side as an entrepreneur, I can easily see how this could happen again. Our business and personal life often meld together and before you know it, we aren’t turning off the electronics and our “ME” time is pushed aside for time to catch up. We promise we’ll take care of ourselves later. Yeah, right.

Here’s the truth, though. I’ve learned that when I take care of my body, mind and spirit, I am actually a better business owner and provide a better service to my clients. I have the stamina to put on my other hats when the work is done. Self-preservation has become one of the necessary tools for me to be a successful entrepreneur. Self-preservation is now something I want to do, not must do.

Here are three key strategies, which still help keep me honest and tuned in:

Schedule it in ink

My standard lines used to be “I’ll do it tomorrow” or “I’m just too busy”, but I wouldn’t use these excuses to stand up a client so I began practicing the thought 'I am worth the time to take care of myself'. P.S. – notice I said practice…it takes time. But, what you practice is what you get good at.

Now, my self-preservation activities are scheduled, in ink, like any other appointment. Of course there are days I would rather put it off, but I always feel better when I’ve kept my commitment to myself. It is non-negotiable time and it is easier to show up knowing I have my own back.

Be willing to suck at it

Since my previous idea of self-preservation was a fast food binge, I knew the transition to making it a priority would not be easy. When I decided to take the first step I expected to suck at it. It felt weird and uncomfortable – I seriously had no idea what to do with myself other than eat. I got comfortable being uncomfortable and when I believe I was being selfish, I considered the perspective that taking care of myself was really a gift to others. Then I made a list of activities that recharged me, no matter how small and started actively doing them, whether I sucked at it or not. With more practice, sucking wasn’t such a factor.

Watch for Red Flag Warnings

With self-preservation a priority, I had to get real with myself. This meant telling myself the truths that could easily send me down the wrong road. I came up with a list of Red Flag Warnings, which are clues when I’ve made a detour. Here are a few examples of mine:

  • Two weeks without any exercise
  • No current book for pleasure
  • Eating out more than 3 times in a week (excluding vacation)
  • Isolating, napping more than normal

When I trip over one of these triggers today, I know it is time to spend some time regrouping with myself and paying attention. It has served me so well to catch myself early and I can get back to my preferred route much quicker.

Today, I rely on my self-preservation list. I decide at night what will work for the next day, depending upon my schedule. For example, I may take a 20 min break from writing and read. Or, if I am in between events, I will do a short meditation using a phone app in my car. Weekends when things are crazy and my family is home, I take refuge in my adult coloring books or a relaxing yoga class.

Finding the right self-care plan for you takes experimentation and may change depending upon changing schedules and evolving business commitments. I know, however, without a doubt, choosing the time to preserve your mind, body and spirit is the most valuable thing you can do for yourself, others and your business.

Laura is a Certified Weight Coach and self-professed “Shame Slayer” for emotional overeaters. As the owner of LK Weight Coaching Laura teaches women to find freedom around food, bringing wisdom and experience from her own journey. Laura’s passion is to show women that food is not the enemy and listening to the innate wisdom of our bodies provides us all the answers we will ever need. Find her on Facebook.

3 Steps To Balance Your Blog And Your Full Time Job

By Jenna Black

You’re on a mission to become a full time blogger and really turn pro with your blog. With laptop in hand and a huge goal for your blogging career, you know you want to go from blogger to boss as soon as possible, but there’s a catch – you’ve got to somehow manage your day job while blogging at the same time! 

Before panic sets in, let me sooth your inner turmoil by telling you that it’s 100% possible to manage a blog while working full time. I know this because I’ve done it myself and I’ve seen others successfully do the same! 

What’s the secret key to success? It comes down to these three core pillars; savvy strategy planning, smart scheduling and brilliant focus. 

I used these three core pillars while I was working full time, running my blog and freelancing. After 5 months, I quit my full time job to follow my entrepreneurial spirit and start my own business. I used my blog as the platform to get me there, and now I want to show you how you can do the same thing! 

Using these three core pillars and a hefty dose of self-motivation, you can truly run a successful blog and find balance with your day job. Ready to get smart and strategic? Let’s dive in!

1. CREATE A SAVVY STRATEGY PLAN

The first key to finding balance with blogging and your day job is to get seriously savvy with the strategy and direction of your blog. If you don’t have a plan or a roadmap of where you’re going, you’ll likely struggle to turn your blog hobby into a business. Yet, with a plan in hand you’ll be on your way to blog success!

Each blog is unique but when you create your strategy plan, there are a few things to include, to ensure you stay on track and feel balanced.

Set long-term goals for growth

The first place to start in creating your strategy plan is to set some goals around the long-term growth of your blog. Do you want to turn it into a business? What’s the goal for the next 6-12 months of your blog? Get really clear on where you want to take your blog, and from there you can work backwards to achieve your ultimate goals.

Get insights into your target market – clarity is key!

A common mistake I see many bloggers make, is they fail to research and fully understand their core readers and target market from the start. If making money from your blog is a goal of yours, it’s important to get crystal clear on who your target market is, why they are coming to your blog and how you can best serve them with amazing content. 

Start by defining who you target reader is and then develop insights into the specific problems or questions they have that are relevant to your blog. How does your blog help solve these problems or questions for your reader? Dive deep here and really think from the reader’s perspective so you can build a strategy plan around their wants and needs. 

Devise a content plan

Once you’re clear on who your reader is and why they are coming to your blog, it’s time to create a content planner to keep your blog focused and on track for success. Plan ahead of time and prep your blog content ideas for the next 3 to 6 months. Focus your content on your target market’s core problems, questions and concerns and be super specific on how and why you’re creating this content. 

Creating a content plan and knowing where your blog is going is really going to help you create success while juggling your blog and your job. 

Your action step:

Use your long-term goals, target market insights and content ideas and create your own savvy strategy plan. Refer to this when you’re feeling unbalanced or lacking motivation!

2. CREATE A SMART SCHEDULE

One of the biggest challenges as a blogger with a day job is to find the time to actually blog! It can be tricky but there is no better way to stay on track with your blogging goals than with a smart schedule. 

Set a smart (and realistic) schedule

Start by setting your blogging schedule in a realistic way. You know your life best, so find a schedule that is going to work for you. Jot down specific times into your work week and go even more pro by creating themed days. 

For example – Tuesday evenings could be your blog writing time. Thursday mornings could be marketing prep and strategy and Saturday afternoons might be focused on list building and community engagement. Find a schedule that works for you and stick to it!

Treat your blog like a business

When I was blogging and working full time, I quickly learnt that I had to treat my blog as a business if I really wanted to quit my job and work for myself. I encourage you to do the same, especially if your goal is to make money and become a full time blogger. It’s so crucial to treat your blog schedule with respect and really show up and do the work. Consistency and a smart schedule are your keys to success!

Your action step:

Create your own weekly blog schedule that works for your lifestyle. Allocate key times to create content, market your blog and build your community and show up at those times with respect, pride and passion!

3. PRACTICE BRILLIANT FOCUS

The final pillar in mastering your blog/work balance is to practice brilliant focus. Having a core focus on the direction of your blog and learning to work smarter, not harder is going to really help you find balance while working your day job. 

Batch your content

One of the biggest mistakes I made when starting my blog was creating content as I needed to. I quickly realized that I not only needed a content plan and strategy, I needed to get savvy with my time restrictions and batch my content.

If you’re seeking that blog/work balance, batching content is your savior. I personally recommend batching a couple of blog posts at a time and then batching social media updates for your next week or fortnight in one go. This simple tip will save you time and make your blogging efforts more productive. 

Eliminate distractions

When you’re feeling a bit burnt out or overwhelmed, go back to basics and focus on your ultimate blogging goals, and from there, focus on the work that’s going to move you closer to those goals in the shortest amount of time time. 

Eliminate any distractions that aren’t actively helping you grow your blog or reach those goals you set in your strategy plan. Getting lost in your Facebook feed? Install a site blocker. Caught up in reading other people’s blogs without doing anything on your own? Turn your wifi off and just write blog content instead. 

It all comes back to eliminating distractions and focusing on the stuff that’s going to move you forward, fast.

Your action step:

Create time in your smart schedule to batch your content or social media. Be aware of any distractions in your life that may hold you back from blog success and find a way to get rid of them to help you stay focused!

Remember, it’s totally possible to run a successful blog and have a full time job. Setting these three core pillars into your routine from the start is going to help give you clarity, purpose and focus to achieve your blogging goals! Keep at it and you’ll be going from blog to boss in no time!

Jenna Black is an online business coach for rising female entrepreneurs and bloggers. With over 8 years experience in online business, Jenna works with women from around the world to help them build their online empire with purpose, strategy and heart.

Top Photo Credit: Death to the stock photo

Tips For Product Makers

By Erin Aldersea

What maker doesn’t dream about seeing their product up in lights in a beautiful magazine layout? 

When I launched my own product range on Etsy all I dreamed of was seeing one featured in a Real Living spread! I became a little obsessed. I researched the editors to contact and tried a few different tactics to get my products in their hands and along the way I even had a little success.

I got a lovely email from a past client the other day asking for some tips and tricks to get her product featured in magazines. Although there's no exact formula to guarantee success I've put together a few tips to help makers get their products in front of the right people.

 - First things first, come up with a list of magazines you'd love to see your product in and find the best person to contact. This could be an Editor, Stylist or Staff Writer. Get digging as you want to find the direct email address for this person if you can, it may take some intense Google-ing or buying the latest copy of the magazine to find that email but it will make all the difference if you can get straight into their inbox rather than go through an assistant.

 - Write a media release about your product, including information about yourself and             your business. Send the media release as an attachment to a personalised email - make sure     this email is as personal as possible. For example, find the name of the editor/writer/stylist and mention a little of what you loved about their latest issue. Keep the email brief and to the point as these guys don't have a lot of time and get hundreds of requests every month.

 - Also attach 2-3 low res images of your products - send 1 deep etched and 1-2 beautiful in situ    shots so they can get an idea if they want to use the product as part of a photoshoot.

Extra tip: It really is worth investing in some magazine-worthy images to show off your products, I did this last year and it's really paid off.

 - Let the magazine know you can supply the product for them to use in a shoot/giveaway/their personal use easily and that you can also send through high res images for print purposes.

 - Include links to your website and social media so they can see you have a loyal following and you're a legitimate maker!

 - Make sure the subject line in your email is really catchy and not too spammy.

 - As a follow up, send a sample of your product - make sure this is beautifully packaged with a copy of the media release and a nice personalised hand written letter as an intro. This has worked for me in the past!

 - Don’t forget to look into blogs you can target as well as magazines - everyone's hungry for new content and amazing new products to feature.

All the best with getting your beautiful products out there into the world makers.

Erin’s a writer, traveler, maker, coffee-lover, curiosity-follower and social media coach from Melbourne, Australia. At The Hiatus Collective Erin writes for freedom-seekers with a glimpse into her life, business and travels. For more tips and inspiration head to Erin’s Instagram , blog  +  Pinterest.

Puno Dostres of Made With Map // Behind The Blog Scene

As we kick off our month of #maybizmakeovers and help you fine tune and refresh your biz, we thought it was the perfect time to talk to our LA pal and all around biz boss, Puno Dostres, Founder of I Love Creatives and Made With Map. Puno has mastered the art of Instagram, growing her following in one year to over 95K and has a new online course she has just launched (in addition to a million other super cool side projects - the girl is BUSY!). I was lucky to grab a minute with her to pick her brain on all things social...

Describe your blog or biz in 3 words…
We love creatives!
What is your blog/biz manifesto?
It’s OK to be a slashie (i.e. designer/brand strategist/director). “Jack (or Jane) of all trades, master of none.” I appreciate mastery, but what if you want to try a lot of different things? With the right community and tools, we think it’s completely possible to live a Slashie life.
Top 3 biz essentials?
Aw man! Only three? I could go on forever about biz tools. :) Dropbox is a lifesaver. We use it to organize our editorial calendar for @madewithmap’s instagram. I use it for my freelance clients. If I ever mess up really bad on a photoshop file, I can just go back to the history and recover. I put all my screenshots on there automatically so I can send auto-created links. It’s the best.

Multiple Desktops + Google Chrome Users so I can manage multiple accounts! One day, I was complaining to the husband about how it’s hard to manage multiple accounts on Instagram. He told me about Google Chrome Users and I just about died that day. Died of joy! It’s amazing. Combine that with multiple desktops (and unique wallpapers to visually distinguish) and you’ve got mini portals to your slashie life. Cie la vie logging in and out!

Wacom Tablet - I’m on the computer a lot and the mouse just makes my wrist hurt. It’s a learning curve, but I highly recommend using a Wacom Tablet if you work on your computer a lot. Especially if you use photoshop or illustrator.

My biggest moment/milestone was....
Was when I quit my job. I was at Activision for three years and it really drained me emotionally. I loved the work, but the politics got in the way. I realized that most of my work was spent managing expectations and defending ideas. I was so unsatisfied with that slow moving boat.

My husband quit his job a year before and we knew that we wanted to do something together. It’s amazing how much we’ve learned in these past two years. It’s not easy and it definitely takes a type of person to do it, but if you have the discipline to be persistent and passionate for a whole year, go for it.

My dream collaboration would be?
NastyGal’s GirlBoss and ilovecreatives.

I would love to redesign the “Job Fair”. Nasty Gal’s GirlBoss Foundation help inspire and support a generation of young women to take their careers into their own hands. With the internet, jobs are being made up left and right! There are people that are looking for more interesting, creative jobs. There are people who are interested in freelance. I want to bring all of that goodness under one roof.
Right now I'm listening to…
I really dig this song by Birthday Boy:
Best piece of advice to a newbie blogger?
I’m actually not a blogger right now, but I was a food blogger for a stint. I couldn’t believe how well received it was. People don’t care how small you are.

I feel like ilovecreatives is a mini blog in that we produce content every week. The only difference is that they are in a form of an “ad”. Haha, I even used the Squarespace blog block.

If you are going to build a blog, I would definitely create a growth spreadsheet so that you understand the trajectory of your blog. Are you growing? If you keep going at this pace, what will your blog grow to in six months? A year? Understanding where you will be be based on your effort now makes the journey less overwhelming. The worst is when you’re up all night wondering if your efforts are going anywhere.
If I wasn't building a badass business I'd be...
Working for an Incubator helping founders build their business! Right now in my life, I love building businesses, but I am craving a trip to Alma too. :)
Behind the scenes of my biz looks like…
Emails, spreadsheets, and a lot of in-person meetings in the Arts District.
This year I'm most excited about…
Launching PeopleMap. My husband and I built it a year ago. We needed a tool to help us manage our outreach for @madewithmap’s instagram. I never thought that someone would pay for it. One day, I showed it to a friend who does Social Media marketing and they were like, “I needed that yesterday. When can I sign up?” I had NO idea.

We’re hoping to launch it end of May, but you can play with the calculator now. :)

Photos Credit: Sisilia Piring

Strong Content vs. Big Following: A Blogger's Journey

Places

By Sarah Harrison 

In my current paper that I am studying as part of a Bachelor of Communications, it is suggested that good speechwriters are able to access their own emotions. An example of this that I like to draw upon is the scene from the film Walk The Line in which record producer Sam Phillips gives advice to the young Johnny Cash and his band:

“If you was hit by a truck and you was lying out there in that gutter dying, and you had time to sing one song. Huh? One song that people would remember before you’re dirt. One song that would let God know how you felt about your time here on Earth. One song that would sum you up. You tellin’ me that’s the song you’d sing?...that same Jimmy Davis tune we hear on the radio all day, about your peace within, and how it’s real and how you’re gonna shout it? Or....would you sing something’ different. Somethin’ real. Somethin’ you felt. Cause I’m telling you right now, that’s the kind of song people want to hear. That’s the kind of song that truly saves people. It ain’t got nothin’ to do with believin’ in God, Mr Cash. It has to do with believin’ in yourself”.

Although blogging is not speech writing, I do believe it comes pretty close. As bloggers we are trying to create a piece of communication that is personal and relevant. We want to offer our audiences something new; ideas that will challenge them, and inspire them. I personally love the beauty of words. I draw inspiration from cinema, music and literature. You can never underestimate the power of words. They have the power to make audiences reflect upon their own values and beliefs and have the ability to change thought patterns. Words can open up an audience’s world to new, exciting concepts and ideas. 

I started my blog, Our Young Hearts, about six months ago. It has been a wonderful creative outlet for me as a busy full time Mum and part time student. I wanted to create a blog that would offer women and mums everyday inspiration with beautiful imagery and stories to match, but the key difference being that the ideas covered were accessible and attainable. I felt a lot of the blogs and magazines I was following were not in my reach on a financial scale, and truthfully, I was bored. I wanted to celebrate everyday women and mums that I am lucky enough to know. I wanted to showcase affordable clothing and brands and suggest fresh and yummy food ideas without having to spend a fortune. The content on my blog may not be ‘mainstream’ and as a result it may take me that much longer to get a good following. But that’s ok. My content, and staying true to myself is more important to me than having a huge following. All good things take time and it is important to remember that although people may not remember what we have to say, they will remember how we made them feel.

You can find Sarah blogging over at Our Young Hearts or on Instagram

All Images from Our Young Hearts blog.