Tuesday, 15 August 2017

Your blog is not a business

If you've been around blogging, or digital marketing, for even half the time I have, you're bound to have heard someone mutter these words.

Your blog is not a business.

And if you're still muddling through like me, you muttered "yes, I'm serious about it!" just like I did, and kept following the same path you were on, without really getting anywhere.

But if we're being honest here, neither of us is getting anywhere fast. We're floundering and flapping about, and feel like we're drowning in ideas and to dos, and, and, and.

Years ago, back in 2010 to be precise, Steve and I bought a truck. He had been offered a job opportunity, but needed his own truck to make it work, so we took the plunge and started our own business.

The truck was an asset of the business.

When we'd been married less than a year, we bought our first house together.

The house is an asset of our marriage.

You can see where this is going, right?!

Your blog is an asset of your business.

But let's dive just a little bit deeper than that. Have you ever wondered what a business actually is?

Google defines business as
1) A person's regular occupation, profession or trade.

2) A commercial activity.
We're interested in the second definition - a commercial activity. Selling things.

So what are you selling? 

Using the previous truck example, the asset of the business is used to generate the income.

Makes sense, right?

But what about the blogging asset? What can you sell with that one?

That's easy! Blogging actually comes with two assets.

You can sell your location [advertising, sponsored posts] or your skills [freelance, product]

But why do the experts keep saying "your blog is not a business" if we've got something to sell?

Because we're not using it!

We're not out there, chasing advertisers (or applying for AdWords or whatever your jam is), and we're not chasing freelancing gigs or creating products, either. [This is as much a reminder for me as it is you, because I don't do any of these things either.]

Mind blown!

So what steps can you take to move from blog to business?

Change your thinking! 

I know, it sounds simple [believe me, I understand how hard it is, I am full of self-doubt, remember] but understanding that you do have something to sell, and that people do want to buy it, is the first step in clarifying what your business is, and how to achieve your goals.

Work out your products. 

Are you happy having sidebar adverts, or do you hate they way they look? Can you stay organised and on deadline, or do you drop the ball [like me]? Is your product affiliate links, or an ebook? What do you want to sell?

Create a plan.

If you're going to sell affiliate links, how are you going to find them? How will you market them to your readers? You need a plan for the content you'll use those links in, and how you'll market them. If an ebook is more your style, what will it be on? You need a plan to write it, market it, sell it. If writing for others is more your style, you need a plan for finding clients, and staying on track with the work. And don't forget to include how you'll stay organised with home, too.

Start selling.

Don't overthink it, don't make it harder than it already is, just start selling whatever the product is that you noted in the steps above.

Now, this is in no way to say that blogging for business is easy, but with a mindset tweak, looking at your blog as an asset of your business can make it easier to put in the hard work of making money.

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Monday, 31 July 2017

August 2017 Bullet Journal Set Up

I've been using the bullet journal system for four years now, but it's only been this year, as I've consciously written notes and ideas and tracked appointments that I've used it on a daily basis. And it's only through use that I've been able to find a weekly set up that works for me.
I use a composition notebook for my journal. It's a B6 size (approx. 7"x9.5" or 19cm x 24.5cm) I buy them from Officeworks at the start of each school year (and have a rather large stash of them tucked away.) B6 wasn't a common size when I first started 4 years ago, but there's a large range of hard cover notebooks in that size these days, although I still prefer to find some unused scrapbook paper (I've been known to cover with fabric as well) to decorate inside and out.
I'm starting a whole new book for August, so there's a couple of things that aren't quite the same as if the months followed one after another. Normally, the left side of this page will have the previous month's summary of events, and goals for the following month. On the right, I'll usually put a quote that inspires me, related to my word for the year (this year's word is GROWTH.)
I use a printable month calendar that I created a couple of years ago. In the column on the left, I make note of future dates that I need to remember, then fill out the calendar as it's needed. I've also tried using this for noting things I'm grateful for each day, and keeping track of each week's menu plan, but found it was becoming cluttered and difficult to read, as well as doubling up things I didn't really need in my bujo.
On the left is the monthly review that is usually opposite the quote page. These are my goals for each month for myself (usually the personal projects I'd like to work on), family (things like "kids cook one meal each week" or "family card night", etc.) and big blog priorities ("number of posts written" or "update old posts" etc.)

On the right I identify one smaller goal (or perhaps this could be an action step towards the monthly goal), usually from my blog list, and break it down using these questions. (Questions adapted from Marissa Roberts' money goal questions)

I've been using this layout for my daily & weekly pages since February after seeing it shared in a bullet journal group on Facebook and missing a couple of January appointments. I put any appointments for the week along the left hand side, then each day I write a to-do list (or sometimes when it feels like I've done nothing, I write a ta-da list.)

Each week I also draw up this page to writing out my daily review. Now, I'll be honest, almost every week only has 2/3 days filled out, and every one says "do better at filling this review out." I haven't found the time of day to fill it out yet, so I'm always forgetting.

I track the books I read each month, and the books I want to read, in the back pages of my journals, but for every other collection I just write it out where it occurs in my week. I've just added this "when did you last..." this month, because I was always forgetting when the dogs were wormed, or when Steve and Douglas need phone recharges. At the moment, that's the extent of the list.

I usually write an affirmation at the top of my goals page, then write it on the weekly/daily pages, so I'm reminded each time I see it. Being a new book, I'm creating a new collection to draw from, as well as adding some favourites from my previous collection.

Here's another example of a collection/task list. I use a cheap set of felt pens I bought from school late last year (that the kids aren't allowed to touch), and a regular ball point pen (because my favourite Sharpie fineliners ghost through the lighter paper) for writing.

Every Sunday night, once the kids are in bed, I take a couple of hours to set this up, and ponder the things I'd like to get done during the following week. Sometimes I get those things done, and sometimes I discover that something else is more important, or needs to be done first. But with it all written out, I can leave my brain free to keep track of other things.

Do you use a diary or journal?
Has it helped you feel less frazzled?

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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
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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.
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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!

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