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Listen to your Heart

Listen to your heart - Tracey Hutchinson guest blog header

Listening to my Heart is my life’s ‘work’ and it totally lights me up. You see, we all have an inner guidance system. Call it what you like – intuition, gut feeling, inner being, source – I know that this resonates with you. You know you have it. You’ve had that absolute knowing about whether something is right for you. You’ve felt that calling and known what the right thing was to do.

We all have it, we all know about it, but we’re not all deliberately connected to it. Because life gets in the way. And as a youngster we were actually trained away from it by [well-meaning] teachers, parents etc who wanted us to do as we were told by them. In life we encounter all the shoulds; all the advice and feedback from others; all the concerns about what others will think of our life, decisions and actions.

Connecting to my inner guidance and listening to my heart has led to so much ease and joy in my life. I love encouraging my daughters to listen to their own hearts. They won’t always have me to guide them, but they will always have their own inner guidance. And no one knows us better than we know ourselves, right!?

5 ways to connect to your own inner guidance system and leverage the energy that creates everything you desire in life:

1. Meditate daily for 20 minutes.

This is the absolute cornerstone of connecting to your own inner guidance system. Meditating allows you to quieten your mind and connect to the power within you. Consistent daily meditation is so powerful – you won’t recognise yourself after 30 days! I am currently running a 30-day meditation challenge in my Facebook parenting group (an inspired action straight from the heart of course!). Join us if you feel inspired (link below).

2. Be present.

Being present in the moment and focusing on the Now is super powerful – after all, the Now is all we ever have. By doing this we are able to enjoy each moment for what it is. Focusing on the past creates depression; focusing on the future creates anxiety. Why wouldn’t you choose to live in the present?

3. Calibrate negative emotions.

Everything you need is already within you. But from those lower vibration emotions (depression, fear, anger, doubt, blame) you are unable to tap into it. Soothing those feelings enable you to move forward in Love, Joy, Peace, Ease and Satisfaction (those delicious high vibration emotions) – and thus connect to your own inner guidance system where you will be able to see things from a higher perspective and literally manifest the right people, ideas and experiences. This is the work I do with people as a Clarity Coach.

4. Unfocus regularly throughout the day.

Taking 2-5 minutes throughout the day to close your eyes and breathe deeply allows you to unfocus and reconnect to your inner guidance system.

5. Flow activities.

Find a ‘flow activity’ that suits you. Flow activities are those which take you away from your mind and require you to put your focus solely on what you are doing. For example, running, colouring, crafts. What do you enjoy doing that helps you to unfocus from the world around you?

About the Author

Tracey Hutchinson lives in Leicestershire, UK and is a wife and an Unschooling Mum to 2 incredible girls – 10 and 1. She loves nothing more than to support Mums to go beyond traditional parenting, into the realms of parenting in the present moment with Joy, Ease, Love and Connection. As a Clarity Coach, she works with clients to release negative feelings, thoughts and beliefs around a particular topic and come into alignment with their own inner guidance system.

Facebook profile – https://www.facebook.com/traceyhutchinsoncoaching

Facebook parenting group – https://www.facebook.com/groups/abeparentingbeyondparenting

You Tube Channel – https://www.youtube.com/channel/UC01Ce3yOr4JsZArWbY6df9w

Book a Clarity Coaching session with Tracey – https://bookclaritycoachingbytraceyhutchinson.as.me/

Tracey Hutchinson
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My favourite things about Christmas

A picture of one of my favourite things about Christmas - the lights, not the unknown headless woman.
Photo by Valeria Boltneva from Pexels

It’ll soon be time to hang up the ‘closed’ sign and head off for Christmas. (My closed sign is metaphorical – my office is in the garden and I don’t get visitors.) I know that there are lots of things that are traditionally great about Christmas, but it can also be hugely stressful. The conversation at a recent networking event turned towards gratitude and how much it can benefit our mental health. It got me thinking about the things I actually enjoy about Christmas, so I decided to write them down. Here are my 5 favourite things about Christmas…

Time off

I love taking the school holidays off. There’s nothing quite so joyful as turning off the alarm clock until January. I get to visit people I don’t get to see and spend more time with the ones I live with.

My favourite day off is the one I take on my own before school finishes. I know, I’m weird. I spend the day pottering about doing whatever festive thing comes to mind. It might be ‘Muppets Christmas Carol’ (again) or it could be wrapping presents with a mug of mulled wine and a mince pie. Bliss.

Eating

I’m a vegetarian so I’m not talking about turkey (although I do love Paxo). It’s all the other stuff that goes with Christmas. The cheese, the mince pies, opening the Prosecco at breakfast time. It’s the ridiculously huge tubs of Twiglets, Cheeselets and chocolates that you don’t get at any other time of year. I know I could eat pickled onions all year round, but I don’t. It’s all part of the festive feast and I love it.

Christmas lights

If Christmas trees were banned tomorrow, I wouldn’t mind, as long as I could still have my lights. I love wearing jumpers and scarves and the fact that cold weather makes hot chocolate essential. The only thing I struggle with is the lack of light. A lot of my favourite things about Christmas involve lights – the Christmas tree, the candles and the high street displays. When January comes and the Christmas lights go out, the winter always feels just a little bit harder.

Singing

I’m not a religious woman, but I always head to church at Christmas. One of my relatives is a churchwarden and it’s always fun going to Christingle and watching lots of small children handle naked flames. Also, Christmas carols are brilliant, even if you’re not a believer.

There are also loads of good tunes on adverts and in the shops (although I was once a Christmas shop assistant and I know how wearing they get by Christmas Eve). It’s the one time of year that you can sing to your heart’s content and no-one bats an eyelid.

Murder

Don’t worry, I’m not about to start bumping off family members. Christmas is often associated with ghost stories, but I’m a crime writer. ‘Hercule Poirot’s Christmas’ is a fixture in my festive viewing, along with any new Agatha Christie adaptations that pop up. My husband bought me a copy of ‘The Mistletoe Murder and other stories’ by PD James a few Christmases ago. Since then that bit between Christmas and New Year, when you can’t remember what day it is, finds me curled up on the sofa with a new seasonal crime collection.

What are your favourite things about Christmas? Leave a comment and let me know!

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What do you get a business owner for Christmas?

Business owner with a gorgeous Christmas gift
Photo from freestocks.org via Pexels

I know that when you buy Christmas presents it’s because you love the person you’re giving it to and you want to give them a treat. Buying them a business-related gift can feel a little bit boring. It doesn’t have to be. If you ask most business owners what they want you’ll get something along the lines of more sleep, snacks, alcohol and financial security (that last one applies every year, but especially now). The thing is, you can make their business owning life better and still give them a great Christmas present. Here are my top 5 ideas for great gifts you can buy your favourite business owner this Christmas.

1.      Entertainment

A business owner’s mind is constantly buzzing, so get them a present that helps them switch off. That could be a film to watch at home, or cinema or theatre tickets for a night out together.

If they love reading, a Kindle could be perfect. I resisted one for years until my husband got me one for Christmas. I still love real books, but now I can carry a whole library wherever I go. Alternatively, buy them your favourite book or vouchers to choose their own.

2.      Stationery

Stationery addiction is real and occasionally necessary. I get through notebooks at a ridiculous rate so tend to shop at the budget end of the market. (I’m looking forward to being back at expos where I can snaffle them for free.) One of my favourite gifts was the beautiful pen and pencil set that I use every day. It’s a small thing that makes life better. You could choose lovely pens or a classic Moleskine notebook. You can even get fab digital notebooks if you prefer.

3.      Time saving Christmas gifts

No-one can buy time, but you can buy help.  If you want to outsource to a particular VA/designer/writer but can’t afford it, drop some heavy hints. Share this post on Facebook and say, ‘did you know Kirsty does gift vouchers for her blogging packages (or service of your choice)?’

If that feels weird, choose something fun that will save time in other areas of their life. A nifty gadget, meal subscription or some chloroform to help them get the kids to bed. (Joke. I hope that was obvious.)

4.      Lovely things for their office

A lovely office space became more important during lockdown, when we couldn’t easily go out for a change of scenery. I have a miniature chimp and a couple of plants on my desk, it’s very cheerful. A good Christmas gift could be a plant or a beautiful print.

You could also choose a gadget that makes their office a more pleasant place to be. Would they like to work to music but don’t have the kit? Could an office water bottle help them stay hydrated?

5.      Things to eat and drink

Yes, I know, this is a gift you could buy for almost anyone. The truth is, I’ve never known so many snack addicts since I started hanging out with other business owners. Buy one of us a snack basket with biscuits, crisps and chocolates and you’ll have a friend for life. Tea and coffee will also be gratefully received.

It probably goes without saying that alcohol is always a win. I know a few freelancers who don’t drink, but not many.

What do you want to ask for this Christmas? Leave a comment and let me (or your family) know!

If you’d like to treat a business owner to my services this Christmas, visit my shop to find out more! (Or if you just want to treat yourself to some high quality content in 2022, let’s have a chat.)

Alternatively, why not start the New Year with regular content writing hints and tips straight to your inbox? I hate spam (I’m a vegetarian), I won’t share your details with anyone else and you can unsubscribe any time. I promise I won’t cry. Much.

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Case study: Just Jules jewellery

Jules from Just Jules jewellery at work in her studio.
Image by Just Jules jewellery

Freelance life has its ups and downs, but sometimes you get lucky. One of my lucky moments involved meeting the lovely Jules Baines from Just Jules jewellery. I met Jules networking (I know, this is a recurring theme for me). We became friends and I bought a lot of gifts from her (because she’s a genius who can always be relied on to come up with the perfect present). It meant that when she needed some help with her marketing and content creation, I already knew all about her brand and how she looks after her customers. Now we work together regularly and it’s always new and exciting.

What Jules needed

When we first spoke, Jules already had a flourishing website and she shared occasional blog posts alongside news and updates. She wanted to make more of the blog and start posting more regularly. Then, as we chatted, she started talking about the other website updates that were going to happen. She didn’t feel that the copy in certain areas really reflected her brand, so we talked about ways I could change it. Then, before you know it, we’d landed on the subject of product descriptions and how much new stock gets added to her website every year.

Since then, we’ve worked on blog posts, updated website copy and product descriptions. The work is always fun because Jules is incredibly creative and the brand takes in jewellery, candles, wax melts and home décor.

How we work

Since I first started writing for Jules, we’ve had a global pandemic and Just Jules jewellery has become a permanent fixture in a bricks and mortar shop. (The Lifestyle Barn at Bawdon Lodge Farm, in case you’re wondering. If you’re in or around Leicestershire I highly recommend a visit.) The website is still thriving, helping Jules to stay in touch with her customers.

We get together about once a month and work out what we’re going to do next, then I go away and do the work. This often involves Jules sending me loads of gorgeous pictures, which is a lovely thing to have in your inbox. I’m about to start work on a Christmas blog and can’t wait to see what’s coming next!

You can have your own Just Jules shopping experience at the Lifestyle Barn or visit her website.

I can create the content you need, when you need it. Let’s have a chat and you can find out how it works.

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How you can start creating evergreen content

Creating evergreen content means making something worth reading.
Image by Suzy Hazelwood via Pexels

It’s all very well knowing that you want to include evergreen content in your marketing. (If you don’t know what evergreen content is or why you’d need it, start here.) The real question is, how do you start creating it? Read on for five quick ways to help you get started.

Know your audience

When you start creating evergreen content, it’s important that you know who you’re writing for. The normal rules of getting to know your audience apply, but when you’re creating evergreen content, you need to go a bit further. Identify the beginners in your audience and what they need to know. Experts will look for the latest news and updates and that’s not what evergreen content is about. Write for the newbies and you’ll be heading in the right direction.

Keep sharing

Evergreen content is great for SEO because it’ll turn up in Google searches for ages after you wrote it. That doesn’t mean you can ignore it completely (sorry). Give it a little boost every so often by resharing it on your social media platforms. You could also include this kind of content in a welcome sequence for new email subscribers. It can work as an introduction to your area of expertise and will help new subscribers understand the work you do.

Creating evergreen content: format ideas

There are a few kinds of content that lend themselves really well to this. If there’s a topic that most of your audience want to know about or questions that you answer all the time, start there. Here are a few examples.

Frequently asked questions

If you already have a FAQ page on your website, you’re off to a flying start. If not, start thinking about the questions you get asked all the time when people first get in touch. These are the kinds of questions that they’ll be typing into Google as well. You can even improve your SEO by linking to these posts from your FAQ page so visitors can head there for a bit more detail.

How to guides

When it comes to creating evergreen content, these are a classic. They’re ideal if you do the kind of work that your audience might want to DIY to start with. My version of this is a series of blog posts that show you how to write your first blog post. (If you’d like the full series straight to your inbox you can sign up here.) Create a guide that walks your readers through a topic step by step and you’ll have created a resource that’s useful for both new and existing visitors.

What to expect

Most people don’t like trying new things. I know that sounds pessimistic, but it’s true. You might have loads of potential customers who aren’t booking because they’re scared what might happen if they do. The best thing that you can do is to talk about what they can expect when they contact you. What happens at the first consultation or after they fill in that contact form? This is different from an FAQ; people won’t ask because they’re worried about looking stupid. Put their fears to rest by telling them what to expect.

Are you ready to start creating evergreen content? I can help with that. Just click here to book your no obligation chat.

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Evergreen content: what is it (and why do you need it?)

Evergreen content blog header - with literal evergreens!
Photo by invisiblepower from Pexels

If you’ve ever heard the phrase ‘evergreen content’ you might have written it off as a bit of a buzzword. You might have heard it described as ‘cornerstone’ content in those SEO guides too. The thing is, if you haven’t got to grips with evergreen content yet, you’re missing out. It’s incredibly useful and could save you a heap of time. So what is it and why should you care? Read on…

Evergreen content stays relevant for longer

Evergreen content got its name because of its resemblance to evergreen trees. It might not look at home covered in fairy lights at Christmas, but it does last for ages. This kind of content doesn’t talk about current news, trends or even a particular season. They’re the sort of posts that your audience could find any time, for years to come, and they’ll still be helpful and relevant. It’s the difference between talking about panic buying petrol and how to maintain your car between services.

It’s great for SEO

Evergreen content is great for SEO because it covers the kind of topics that people search for time after time. You could write a blog post about how to soothe a screaming baby now and new parents might still be finding it in 2031. Posts about current affairs or new trends will get you website traffic in the short term (which is still a great thing). Evergreen posts will keep going for longer. Your figures might drop a bit, but they’ll keep going, quietly working away in the background to bring you new visitors.

It has wide appeal

The key thing about evergreen content is that it generally isn’t for experts. Someone who’s experienced in your field already knows the basics so will only be looking for updates. Evergreen posts work better for people who need a beginner’s guide to a topic. This is great for you because if you’re an expert working with non-experts, it’s an opportunity for you to share your knowledge. Your visitors might learn from you and do a DIY version, but they’ll still remember you as the expert who helped them when they’re ready to pay someone else.

Some examples of evergreen content

If you like the sound of this evergreen lark and you’re starting to think about topics, here are some ideas. In every industry there will be perennial subjects that never go away. Your audience could be interested in time management, parenting skills, how to write their first blog post or questions to ask a new supplier. When you come up with an idea, ask yourself whether anyone will care about this in five years’ time. If the answer’s no, you might still have a great idea for a post, but it probably won’t be evergreen.

Keep it updated

It’s tempting to think that once you’ve created your evergreen content you can just ignore it until the end of time. Sorry, but that’s not how it works. While the posts will definitely stay relevant for longer, it’s still worth checking in on them from time to time. Attitudes change and while your advice might be spot on for a few years, it won’t necessarily stay that way forever. A quick read through every year or so will tell you if anything needs updating to extend the life of your content.

Are you ready to start creating evergreen content? I can help with that. Just click here to book your no obligation chat.

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I need a wedding cake but where do I start ….. ???

Guest blog from Toni Adam at Red Velvet Bakery, wedding cake maker extraordinaire!

Ordering your wedding cake is definitely one of the fun parts of organising a wedding but it can feel like a minefield. There is more to think about than just “cake”.

As bizarre as it may sound, choosing your wedding cake is just as integral part of organising your wedding day as invites and venue hire. All your guests will want to take photos of you both during the day, but the cutting of the cake photo is the one everyone wants to capture. It’s the one your mum is likely to put in a photo frame and it will definitely make the wedding album.

Where to start?

When the time comes to plan your wedding cake, the obvious place to start looking for ideas are apps like Pinterest or Instagram. These sites are great and offer a fabulous range of styles and ideas, but sometimes too much choice can feel overwhelming.  A great place to start is by choosing your colour scheme. This will help narrow your search and start steering you in the right direction. You may come across a lot of styles and finishes that you do not like and that’s ok. Not every wedding is the same nor should it be. Your wedding and your wedding cake should reflect who you are as a couple. Create a mood board if that helps. You’ll soon discover your favourite style.

Choosing the right cake maker is just as important as choosing your cake style. Shop around, do some research and read reviews. Find “your person”. There will always be someone who fits within your budget but do remember that you get what you pay for!  Visit wedding fayres, meet suppliers and choose someone you feel comfortable with.

Talking to your cake maker

Remember your cake maker is the expert so ask lots of questions, such as:-

How much cake will I need for the number of guests at my wedding?

Do you offer a design and consultation service?

What about a cake tasting?

Ask about deposits, final payment and refunds

Does the price quoted include delivery to your venue or is that extra?

Discuss personalised cake toppers and cake stands

Can they accommodate special diets, i.e. gluten free

What flavours do they offer?

How much will your wedding cake cost?

So how much does a wedding cake cost?  Each supplier has their own rates and will charge you accordingly so expect to pay in the region of £350 upwards for a 3 tier cake. Obviously the bigger and more elaborate the cake, the more expensive it will be. Remember you are not just paying for a cake, you are paying for the personal touch. You are paying for their time from your initial consultation to delivery. You are paying for the freshly baked-to-order yumminess and love that goes into each tier, the quality ingredients and the attention to the details that make your cake unique to you. Be honest with your chosen your cake maker and tell them your budget up front. This will help them create a design that you can afford and save any disappointment on your part with not being able to have what you really want due to the cost.

And most of all, just have fun. It is your wedding day after all!

Kirsty’s note

Toni is an utterly brilliant wedding cake maker (and generally ace human) making wedding and celebration cakes in Derbyshire.

You can find out more about the Red Velvet Bakery by visiting their website: www.redvelvetbakery.co.uk