Tuesday, 11 July 2017

Low Cost Self Care Ideas

I spotted a list over at Fat Mum Slim a while ago, with ideas for a self-date [or me-time] Now I'm all about taking time and doing things for myself at the moment, but my heart sank as I read the list - over half of the ideas involved spending money! Our budget is tight right now, and while I'd love nothing more than to head off to the movies, I just can't afford it. So I challenged myself to come up with at least ten activities that didn't involve spending any more money than usual.*

Visit a store and dream big Who doesn't get inspired by tackling a big project? Taking yourself off to the hardware store, or furniture shop, or even Kmart with a challenge in mind like pulling up the carpets can open you up to new ideas and challenges.

Watch a different genre on TV Binge-watching is the new black. But we often fall into the habits of watching the same style of shows again and again [I love my English murder mysteries!] But taking a chance to watch say an action movie could open you up to a whole new experience.

Shop your wardrobe We all have clothes that we wear over and over again, firm favourites in the wardrobe. But sometimes there's a piece tucked away in the back that we just weren't sure about, so we hid it. Dig it out, and find a new favourite outfit to wear!

Bake something new I love baking muffins. They're quick, simple, and yum. But just recently I've started baking cakes. They take a little bit more time to produce, but the yum factor is still there [and it feels as if they last just a little bit longer!]

Make something I am a scrapbooker who doesn't scrap, a sewer who loves her sewing machine but rarely uses it. But when I do take the time to create something I can feel myself relaxing, calming down, inspiring myself.

Read an old book in the sun Avid readers are bound to have shelves upon shelves of books. Books that have been read once, then tucked away, or discarded if they didn't fulfil their potential. Taking the time to go back and read something older gives space to books that may have been passed over for something shinier, or allow an old favourite to resurface in our minds. And sunshine is best for blowing off the dust.

Learn something new I am a perennial learner. Google was made for my random brain wanderings, but it isn't often that I take the time to learn everything I can about a subject. Pick something you've struggled with, and check out YouTube for free videos, or a platform like SkillShare.

DIY pedicure or facial Taking the time to soak your feet and do your nails really is a luxury in our fast paced world, but it can be so much fun! [And if it's really impossible to get rid of the family, teach the kids to paint your nails!]

Walk a different route Sometimes I walk the dogs in the same direction every time. It's easy for them, they just go, we know where all the barking dogs are, we know how long it takes. But it gets monotonous, for me and for them. Just in the small block that we walk, there's over ten different combinations we could take to mix it up for all of us. And it's always an exciting night for the dogs, because they never quite know which way I'm going to lead them next.

Be a tourist in your town Is there a popular spot you haven't been to for a long time? Or some place you've never been before? Set a date, and go check it out.

How do you take time for yourself, without spending too much money?

linking with Kylie Purtell for #ibot
Read more »

Thursday, 6 July 2017

5 tips for breaking the scrolling habit

With almost ten years on Facebook under my belt, and over 6 years on pinterest, I think it's safe to say that I've got the scrolling habit. I've noticed that it's been especially bad the last few months as Steve has moved to night shift, and those long evening hours before bedtime have seen me sitting in front of the computer far longer than I should. It's no wonder that Douglas is developing the same bad habits [although he watches videos more than he mindlessly scrolls.]

So when something has become a mindless habit, how do you break that habit? Well, there's some sound advice in all those articles that you can find on Google. But what really works for actual people?

Tip 1 - don't turn it on
I know, easier said than done. I kick myself every Tuesday and Thursday for sitting down at the computer and opening Facebook. Because it isn't hard to access, so it's easy to start. Actually turning the computer off has really helped reduce the scrolling for me. But I'll be honest, so far I've only managed to turn it off on Saturday afternoons, and not turn it on again until Monday morning. But that doesn't take away the temptation of phone or iPad. I'm still working on those.
Tip 2 - turn off notifications.
I didn't realise until recently that I had been doing this without realising it. About 6 months ago my iPad crashed, and when I reset it, I unknowingly turned off all notifications. So when I picked up my iPad and there was nothing on the screen, I was putting it back down again, instead of opening it. I've now turned off most notifications on my phone, and I'm expecting the same result. [The only notifications I've kept are phone, message, FaceTime and messenger. because, you know, it's a phone, sometimes Steve calls me. And I chat to my mum via messenger sometimes.]
Tip 3 - log out of everything
Before Steve and I met, I didn't have the internet at home, so I went to uni and used the computers there. Which meant that I had to log into everything while I was at the computer, then log out when I was done. So it was a real novelty when we met to have a computer that saved all the passwords and I didn't have to remember them any more. Now our gadgets remember everything as well. For me, logging out would be a last resort, but it is worth considering if turning off isn't enough for you.
Tip 4 - have a research list.
I find my biggest time waster is having an idea, and needing to research right.now. So a couple of weeks ago I started writing down those ideas as they struck, with a note to get to them at the end of the day. I haven't gone back and looked at the list to research yet, because the idea wasn't as burning as it fet at the time, and I've managed to stay on track witht he task at hand, instead of getting lost down the rabbit hole.
Tip 5 - do something else.
This has become a bit of a mantra in our house during the school holidays, but it's probably the biggest lesson I can learn, and also teach the kids. When all else fails, read a book, bake a cake, go for a walk, put a load of washing on. Just walk away and do something that isn't in front of a screen.
Do you have a scrolling habit?
What's your best tip for breaking it?

PS I opened my emails while waiting for Canva to load, and spotted this awesomely helpful post from Sarah at Yes and Yes.
Read more »

Saturday, 1 July 2017

Cinnamon Doughnut Banana Bread

What is it about cinnamon doughnuts that make us feel so good? The warm, sugary sweetness? Or biting through the crunchy, fresh cooked outer layer? Whatever it is, this cake has got it, too!

We have a tonne of bananas in our freezer, courtesy of Steve's job over the summer at a local greengrocers - how can you say "no" to $5 boxes of bananas? [Believe me, it was easy some days!] but when our freezer recently tried defrosting itself, and we caught it just before we lost all the food in it, I realised that I couldn't keep storing those bananas until one day, and that day needed to be now. [side note, it's easy to overdo bananas, the kids won't eat any banana cakes at the moment.]

Ingredients Batter 1
1 cup self raising flour
½ cup caster sugar
¼ cup milk
1tsp white vinegar
75g butter, melted
1 banana, mashed
1 egg

Ingredients Batter 2
1 cup self raising flour
½ cup dark brown sugar
¼ cup milk
1tsp white vinegar
75g butter, melted
1 banana, mashed
1 egg

Cinnamon sugar
2Tbs caster sugar
1 ½ tsp cinnamon
* whisk together

* place milk into two cups, add vinegar to both, allow to sit 10 minutes
* place flour into separate bowls
* add sugar to each bowl, whisk to combine
* add wet ingredients to each bowl, stir well
* pour half of 1 batter into base of lined loaf pan, spread to edges
* sprinkle with ¼ cinnamon sugar mix
* pour half other batter over top, gently spread as far as you can
* sprinkle with  ¼ cinnamon sugar
* repeat with remaining batter and cinnamon sugar
* bake 180°C 50-60min

Best eaten warm from the oven to inhale those warm cinnamon aromas, but perfect for lunch boxes!

Read more »

Thursday, 22 June 2017

Stop crowdsourcing in Facebook Groups

Facebook groups are amazing. They have truly worked their way into our every day, and can connect people together in ways that we may never have expected even ten short years ago.

One of the best things about Facebook groups is when they're created around one specific topic or niche. This gives you the opportunity to learn so much from other people, whether the group is related to a paid course your doing, and the discussion supports that course, or it's a generalist group about lunch box contents.

But this can create some problems too.

The number one thing that I see again and again is people crowdsourcing for support.

I'll explain what I mean.

Business A posts "I'm thinking of using these colours for my products, what do you think?" or "which logo makes you think earth mother who does xyz?" *
Blogger B posts "I'm trying to choose between this blue or this pink colour palette" or "which logo makes you think earth mother who does xyz?" * (Logos come up a lot in these two niches!)

(If I was in other niche groups, I'm sure I'd see it play out in them, too.)

But we [the group members] are not your ideal audience.

Sure, we buy things, and like to support other businesses. But shopping is such a personal thing, just because we tell you we like it doesn't mean we'll actually buy it.

Related - How to be useful in Facebook Groups

What happens when your raving fans (AKA buyers) don't like the pattern you chose based on that business group advice? Or no one reads the post you wrote based on blog group advice?

If you're a self-doubter like me, you take that on as your failure, rather than realise that you made a bad decision at the start of the process by not asking your audience for feedback.

So what's a better way to get advice related to your specific issue?

Getting help from the people who buy your product or service will always work better for you than crowdsourcing in Facebook groups. Sure, it's possible to get great advice and support from groups, if you ask precise and direct questions. But as a general rule, don't make crowdsourcing part of your strategy. Try these four things instead.

Send a newsletter

If you're not collecting emails from readers or buyers yet, why not? Asking for feedback from your list is the perfect way to connect with them, without being salesy. If you're using ConvertKit, you can make it super-simple by setting up a link trigger  (if you haven't figured that out yet, here's a simple tutorial from Shell at The Funnelry) which is an easy one-click from your readers.

Ask your social media 

Whether it's a VIP group, or a Facebook page, or even an active Instagram tribe, asking the people that buy from you what they want to see is much better than asking in a business-related group.

Talk to your mentor 

Most business people have mentors, even if they don't realise that's the relationship. A friend you always talk to, someone you met in a group, someone you click with [not often a relative or spouse, they never seem to understand], a mastermind group. They are the perfect person to chat to about whatever weird and wonderful idea is running around your head.

Follow your gut instinct 

You started your business for a reason. Sure, it was probably because you had a passion for your product, but ultimately, your gut guided you to it. Follow that instinct, and trust your first thought. Would you buy your product?

Facebook has brought many great things to our worlds, but it's taken away a lot of our autonomy. Trust that you know what you're doing with your business, or know where to find the answers you need.

* no specific business or blog name comes to mind, it's just a random question I've seen more than once.
Read more »

Thursday, 15 June 2017

How to figure out if the expert is right for you

Experts are a dime a dozen. Gone are the days of experts being the people with university degrees and years of work experience under their belts. Now, they're generally the people who had an idea, failed, and got up and tried again and again and again. So how do you figure out who to hand your hard earned dollars over to (or even who to listen to)? With these tips, you'll be assessing everyone with a better eye, instead of falling for the hype.

1 - they interact with people. 

Whether it's through facebook groups, or the comments section of their blog, do they take the time to be a part of the discussion around their words? Some of the loudest experts we see in our newsfeed grew that way because they stopped consuming other people's content, but some stopped talking to people too. If they don't have time to talk to you for free, they probably won't talk to you when you pay for their thing. Is that the sort of course you want to be taking?

2 - the free information is actionable immediately. 

I've seen free webinars that are five minutes of information you could have found on google or pinterest and 45 minutes of hard sell about the class the expert is launching. And I've seen webinars where I took ten pages of notes (complete with example steps) and 2 hours later the expert said "you're asking so many great questions, I think we need to do this again next week" before they remember to tell you about their course launch. Guess who's class I bought? Being able to take something usable straight away is more likely to show an audience that the expert knows their stuff and can show you more.

3 - they care about their message, and that you understand.

Tying in with the first point, experts show they care about your understanding of their message. They take the time to explain things when the 3000 word posts that they spent a week crafting still doesn't explain it for you. They respond to emails in a timely manner, and take the time to answer questions during webinars, not just at the end. And they say thank you for supporting them, regularly.

4 - they don't sell hard. 

Sure, they have a sales funnel that you slip into when you sign up for the free webinar, but the right expert doesn't have to sell to you. You already read all their blog posts, follow their socials, hand over your email address for every freebie they make. They know they don't need to sell hard, even to the newbies on the list, because their list is filled with raving fans already.

5 - it doesn't stop once you buy. 

In some instances, once the hype of a launch is over, the expert disappears, too! It leaves you wondering how you got sucked in, and how you can get your money back. But for the best experts are still there, by your side, answering questions, creating videos, sharing their knowledge. [And for the experts listed below, even the free stuff gets this level of attention!]

6 - they stick with what they know

In the digital world, people are always learning. My bullet journal is filled with notes from random ideas I've struck upon searching for something else, but I haven't called myself an expert in those areas. The best experts stick to the stuff they know, and keep the things they're learning about to themselves. That doesn't mean to say they don't share that stuff later, but they have runs on the board first.

7 - they're not that far ahead of you on the journey. 

This has been the biggest eye opening point for me. I heard this quote in a blog post from The Art of Simple, and it resonated so much! Sometimes, if people are further ahead of you in the journey to success, whatever that may be, it can be hard to relate to them and turn their methods into success for you. The right expert is only a step or two ahead of you in their journey, and are teaching you how to take those steps to get to their current level, while pushing themselves forward, too.

Which experts do I love?

There's this saying that I love that goes something like when the student is ready, the teacher will appear. I've always believed this of my own learning style, not just in blogging but in all areas of my life. There's a reason so many people say niched blogs work better, because people want to learn from someone who knows everything about their topic, and can answer any question thrown at them. I consider the following people to be the experts I love.

* This post contains affiliate links. If you choose to use them, I earn a commission, at no extra cost to you.

For tips to grow your email list in a unique way, check out Terra from Uncork your Dork. Last year Terra nailed growing her email list with free challenges, and has pivoted her whole blog to focus on teaching people how to run them successfully, and how to make money while doing it.

For tips on making money, Melanie Miller from The Profit Lovers. I'll confess, I've been on the Profit Lovers email list for a long time, but never done more than quickly read and rushed on to the next thing. But recently, I randomly signed up to a free webinar, and watched it, and was blown away! The Create Your First Course course is on my wish list! [And she agreed with me, people want to learn from someone not too far ahead of them.]

For tips on building a sales funnel that sells, Shell Higgs from The Funnelry. Now, I'll be honest, I've known Shell for a long time, but I only discovered a couple of weeks ago that this was her new project, and I'm in love with it. She gets straight to the heart of sales funnels with no BS [but there's a few swears involved.]

For tips on telling your story, your way, Allyn Lewis from Hit the Gem. I noticed Allyn floating around in American blogging groups over the last couple of years, but over the last few months I've subscribed to her newsletter, and started taking her $5 Masterclasses. She's an advocate for including you in your writing, and telling your story where you're at right now, even when you're struggling. And she doesn't tell you she's keeping it real, she just does it. [Her free #SparkYourStory course has blown me away]

For video marketing tips, Niamh Arthur of Light It Up! Video Marketing * has changed my world. Connection marketing is the new buzz word in the digital world, and Niamh has struck it out of the ball park. I'm still new to using video online, but Niamh has made it so easy to be comfortable and relaxed, and able to create videos. She's built a supportive facebook group, and the material in the program is easy to apply straight away. [Considering that six months ago I wouldn't even watch videos, this is huge for me.]

What's your best tip for choosing an expert?
Have you got a favourite?
Read more »