Posted on Leave a comment

What success means to me

successI sometimes feel that I get bombarded by other people’s definitions of success. I hear all the talk about hustle and being a weekend warrior. Someone in one of the business Facebook groups I’m in even asked whether members were aiming for ‘five figures or six’ this year. I’m not saying that people shouldn’t have those goals, if it makes them happy. My only issue is when it becomes the only definition of success.

I was at my regular networking lunch earlier this month and the host asked us to think about how we defined success. The people who spoke up all talked about being healthy and happy. They thought there was no point having financial gain if you couldn’t enjoy it. It got me thinking about how I define success for myself. Here’s what I came up with.

Having it all is tough

I used to have a prestigious career. I was a solicitor on a decent salary (not fat cat levels, but still pretty good). Between us, my husband and I earned enough to cover the essentials and still have enough to treat ourselves when we fancied it. My working hours weren’t too ridiculous but I still found myself arriving home worn out and snapping at my children. I can only imagine how bad it must be for people whose working day extends into the evening.

The crunch came for me when it became clear that I was going to have to go for promotion to stay in the profession. I chose to leave. I won’t go over that here but here’s the story if you want the background. It was a scary step but mostly it felt like a massive relief.

What comes first?

To be honest, I wasn’t really thinking about how I defined success when I first started my business. We had bills to pay so I didn’t think much beyond needing to make some money. Over time I realised that I wasn’t necessarily reaching for the things that the business gurus were talking about. It wasn’t about mansions and having millions in the bank. I wanted to build a business that helped me to put the important things first.

Beyond having enough to live on I wanted time with my family. My kids are still small and I want to spend time with them. There were times when I felt as if I’d be heaped with scorn for only working during school hours or taking weekends off. Where’s the hustle in that? Over time I’ve realised that the people who’d be put off aren’t the ones I want to work with anyway.

Do I have success?

I’ve realised that I have more than one definition of success. On one level, I’m successful now. I’m (fairly) healthy and working flexibly so I can enjoy time with my family. Working this way can mean that financial success comes more slowly. For example, I’ve turned down endless invitations to networking groups because they clash with the school run so I daresay I’ve missed out on some business there. I’d like to have more regular work to make my income a bit more predictable so that’s the next level.  But even if I end up as a millionaire author one day I can’t imagine myself moving to a massive house in the middle of nowhere. I’m part of a great community where I live and consider that another form of success.

I suppose the important thing is that I’ve decided where my priorities are. When I think about financial goals they’re tied to personal ones, like a great family holiday or building my writing shed in the garden. What’s your definition of success?

Posted on Leave a comment

Why you need to track your marketing data

Track your marketing dataYawn. I know what you’re thinking. I’ve gone from creating mildly entertaining blogs about writing and marketing to suddenly deciding to bore you all to death. Unless you’re someone who loves numbers and digging into an analysis of the figures. If you are, thank you. I love you for understanding figures and data because that may mean you’re an accountant and people like me need people like you. However, this blog isn’t really for you. It’s for the people whose eyes glaze over when you mention analytics. If you don’t know why you need to track your marketing data, read on. I may never teach you to love analytics but hopefully you’ll see the benefits.

Numbers tell the truth

When you create content for your business you’re bound to have bits that you’re really pleased with and others that felt a bit half hearted. Some things will get planned ahead and others will be ad hoc depending on what’s happening that day. If you’ve shared something on social media and it gets lots of comments you might feel that it’s done well. However, your impression of how a piece of content has performed might not be accurate. Only the numbers will give you the real picture.

For example, a blog post that appeared to gather tumbleweed when you posted in on Facebook might have brought lots of new visitors to your website. Unless you’ve got Google Analytics set up you won’t know. It might have brought you a new customer or two but you’ve written it off as a failure.

Where do you focus your attention?

The way you analyse your data can be quite individual but there are a few common features. The easiest way to look at it is by focusing on your goals. For example, if you want to increase the number of customers you have look at where the existing ones came from. Did someone get in touch because they saw a post that dealt with a problem they’re having? Have they read your blog and followed through to sign up for your email list? If you want to build your social media profile look at where you’re getting the most likes, shares and comments.

Of course, this isn’t an exact science. People might lurk for ages without responding to your posts at all. Then before you know it you’ve got a new customer. However, looking at what your audience did respond to gives you a general idea of what’s going down well. It can also tell you when something hasn’t hit the mark. I once did a campaign aimed at travel agents. The responses I got were mostly from VAs. They were lovely people but I’d clearly got the message wrong somewhere.

Marketing data saves you time

You might still be wondering what the point of all this marketing data analysis is. The simple truth is, scattergun marketing doesn’t work. Even more importantly, you don’t have enough time to post here there and everywhere hoping that something connects.

Your marketing data will tell you if your customers are coming from Facebook, LinkedIn or somewhere else. They will tell you if your audience love quick tips but hate memes. It may even tell you that the blog post you thought was a dead duck brought masses of traffic to your website. The point is, your marketing data will tell you what to do more of to achieve the result you want so you can focus on the things that matter instead of guessing.

If you want some help looking at your data and developing a strategy that gets results, get in touch. Or if you’d just like some ideas for new things to post so that you can start tracking your numbers, just click on the image below.

Further reading

How to analyse your Facebook page post metrics

How to get an overview of your Facebook Insights

An absolute beginners guide to Google analytics from Moz

Posted on Leave a comment

Why you need to keep your marketing tone consistent

marketing tone consistentThis is another one of those subjects where I’ll forgive you for reading the title and saying huh? The question should really be – when you look back over the blogs and social media posts you’ve written, do they all sound like you? When you keep things consistent you’ll get better results from your marketing and your life will get easier.

Getting to know you

The phrase ‘know, like and trust’ comes out of my mouth with alarming regularity. That’s because it’s one of the key things you should focus on as a small business owner. It’s rare for people to see an advert or a post and respond immediately. Generally speaking, you need to build a relationship with your audience.

You’re probably already well aware of the importance of consistent visual branding. Using the same colours and fonts makes it easy for your customers to spot you in their news feed. It’s the same with your copy. People stop and read because they know what to expect. If your posts are generally chatty and fun a sudden run of bland and boring ones will be a real turn off.

Easy outsourcing

Do you have brand guidelines? That sounds very formal, but it doesn’t have to be. It’s basically having a strong sense of how you want to come across. I use the same colours throughout my marketing and choose images that I hope my audience will like. I also aim to write in quite a natural and friendly way. All of my guidelines are in my head but if I was working with a graphic designer it would be quite easy for me to brief them on the style I’m aiming for. They could also get a pretty good idea from looking at my social media feeds.

You might not be ready to outsource your design or writing to anyone else yet. But having a clear idea about how you want to come across will really help when you are ready. You can send a brief that says “I aim to appeal to professional women and want my copy to be chatty and friendly.” Simple, right?

Consistent shouldn’t = boring

The last thing you want is to send your customers to sleep. Just because they want to know what to expect from your posts doesn’t mean they all need to sound exactly the same. Just because you mostly talk about light hearted things it doesn’t mean you can’t throw in something serious now and again. If anything, it gives the serious stuff more impact.

You can keep things varied by telling your customers something surprising. Cover the same topic in different ways. If you find that all of your posts start with the same few words, try some different ones. As long as it still sounds like you, it’ll be fine.

Review your marketing

Are you good at keeping your tone consistent? To find out, one of the best things you can do is to review what you’ve already done. When you read your blogs or look through your social media feeds, do they all blend into one? Maybe you’ve gone in the opposite direction and everything sounds as if it was written by a completely different person. This can be a problem in bigger businesses where content is often written by lots of different people, but sometimes it can just depend on what mood you were in when you wrote it. When you’ve finished, think about how you actually want to sound. What will work for your audience?

If you’d like to get back to basics with your blogging and make it sound like you, no matter what you’re talking about, join me for my last ever blogging workshop on 4th June. All of your refreshments are provided and you’ll have time to write so you’ll go home with a finished blog and a plan for more. Along with a renewed sense of your own ability to put your personality into your marketing. Click on the image to book your place!

Further reading

If you need to do some work to help you work out who your marketing needs to talk to, start here.

Posted on Leave a comment

How often should I blog?

how often blogIt’s the million dollar question (well, probably). More importantly, it’s one of the number one reasons why people are put off writing a blog for their business. You probably already know about all of the benefits of blogging, like getting your customers to know, like and trust you, but somehow it keeps getting put to the bottom of the to do list.* If you’ve googled ‘how often should I blog?’ you may well have encountered articles that talk about putting a new blog post out once or twice a week. Yikes. The good news is, you don’t have to write a blog every week if you don’t want to. Here are some things to consider when you’re working out how often to blog.

*If your blog is at the bottom of the list because you don’t know where to start, click here to book your place on my last ever full day blogging workshop.


SEO is often one of the first things that gets mentioned in connection with blogging. It can also be a bit scary, so let’s get it out of the way early on. Blogging is great for boosting your search engine rankings because it gives you regular updates to your website. It encourages the Google spiders to index your site more frequently and helps it to be seen as relevant, so you’re more likely to turn up in a search. There isn’t a set definition about what ‘regular’ posting actually means, but the general consensus is about once a month.

It can help to give your blog posts some longevity too. If your blog turns up in searches people can still find it months or years after you wrote it. That means that you don’t have to post constantly to keep getting new visitors to your website.

Quality over quantity

One of the main objectives of blogging is to offer your audience something they’ll find useful so they see you as someone who knows what they’re talking about. You stand a much better chance of that happening if you give yourself the time to write a good quality post. If people read what you’ve written and enjoy it they’re much more likely to read the next one and the one after that. If you’ve churned out three or four posts without putting much thought into them, people won’t come back for more.

When you’re coming up with topics, think about the areas where you have something valuable to say. (If that sounds scary, read this blog or come along to my workshop.) If you write one blog post a month you only need 12 for the whole year.

Give yourself time

I sometimes feel as if marketing has taken over my life. Thankfully, I’ve now recognised that as a sign that I haven’t got myself organised. Winging it generally ends up with faffing and suddenly an afternoon’s gone with nothing to show for it. Planning ahead, whether it’s for the whole year, the next quarter or even a month at a time, gives you a focus. Then when you sit down to schedule your Facebook posts or write a blog you know exactly what you’re doing.

Only you will know how long it takes you to write a blog post. If you’re writing for the first time maybe block out an afternoon to focus on it. Then make it a regular thing. Put it in your diary once a month – if you’re busy and it’s too much you can reduce the frequency. Alternatively, if you have the funds you can always write a couple and outsource the rest.

If you’d like to learn more about blogging and develop some seriously good blogging skills of your own, join me for my full day workshop at Bawdon Lodge Farm on 4th June. It’s the last one I’m doing so book now if you’re even remotely curious. Tickets are available here.