Month: October 2020

How to Stay Sane

How To Stay Sane

There is no doubt that being a working mum is difficult but throw in school holidays, add in a pandemic and it gets a little bit stressful. I thought that it might be helpful to give you my top tips for staying sane being a working parent.

Plan

Top tip number one is to plan.

For example, I’ve known for the last few weeks that half-term is coming up so, I can plan my work around that time. It’s difficult if you are a working mum and you are going to an office to work, as you’ve got to juggle that around kids and stuff, but if you’re employed you can probably take time off or arrange childcare.

When you are self-employed or when you work at home, it’s all just thrown into one, so planning is key in order to stay sane.

Knowing that half-term is approaching I can figure out what work I’ve got on and make sure that I do the majority of that work before half-term arrives, so that I can really be flexible in what I’ve got coming up.

I create lists. Who’s not a list lover? I use something called ‘Asana’, which is a really good tool for project management and writing tasks and keeping you on track. I also write lists of all my different clients and all the things I need to do. Then I write a daily list, so I know exactly what I’ve got to do each day.

Planning and being organised is definitely the best tip.

Turn off the Tech

Top tip number two is to turn off the tech.

When the kids are at home and when I have got my dedicated time with my little girl, I make sure that I turn my devices off, put my phone on silent and out of reach. This doesn’t always work; I have to say. It’s just so I’m not distracted by emails and social media.

Now it’s not always easy, is it? Especially if you’ve got important things to do. If there’s something urgent then fair enough, go onto your computer and have a look. But generally, if you are organised, and you’ve planned your time, then you shouldn’t need to be checking emails or checking social media all the time, and that time with your children is really precious, and that’s what I try and do.

If somebody rings me when I’m not at my desk and I’m with my little girl, I just don’t answer it. I know that if I answer a work call when my little girl is there, she’ll be like “Mummy. Mummy. Mummy.” I can’t give my client the full dedication and attention that they need during that time so, I just don’t answer my phone when I’m with her. I catch up with work during the time I allocate for just that so I’m not distracted.

At the end of the day, if I don’t answer an email straight away, nobody has died. An old boss of mine once said that to me. “How important is it? Has anybody died?” It gives you a new perspective on the way you look at things. Turn the tech off if you can.

Don’t Feel Guilty

Tip number three, which I think we are all guilty of, is don’t feel guilty.

One of the things I think about being a working mum is that I am setting a good example for my children for the future. They see me busy, that I work hard, that I’m making money and understand that’s how I can afford to take them to nice places and do nice things. I want them to feel inspired by that. I know that those times that I need to work, that I shouldn’t feel guilty for it.

If I was answering my phone to my client, whilst I was meant to be with my little girl I would feel guilty. However, I take dedicated time to work and say “You’re in childcare, you’re with your Dad.”  We split mornings and afternoons at the moment. I’m not going to feel guilty about working, and my daughter understands that I do it to make pennies to buy her toys.

We all do it. We all have Mum guilt, we all have parent guilt, but we have got to “Let it go!”

This week was particularly challenging for me because my little girl is also self-isolating from somebody in her school who has got COVID, somebody that she has been in contact with. So all our plans for half-term have gone out the window. I have lots of juggling going on.

It’s not as bad at the moment because my husband is at home, so we can do mornings and afternoons between us, but next week he’s back in the office, so I’m literally on my own. I’m going to try my hardest to make it work and just go online in the evening and do my work then.

To reiterate my top tips to help you stay sane currently… Plan, organise your time and forward plan for when you’ve got things coming up, and then you know to do the majority of your work, so you’re not stressing about it during half-term and the school holidays.

Top tip two is turn off the tech. Try and leave it aside when you are not working, and then you won’t be distracted with it. Turn off your notifications and don’t have the temptation to pick up your phone all the time.

Tip three, don’t feel guilty. You’re rocking it being a working mum, a working dad and we are all just doing the best we can to crack on and make some money, and give our children a good example of what it is to be a hard worker.

So, today wasn’t a marketing tip, but it was just tips that I’ve learned over the years that I’ve been running my business, how to juggle… because it is a juggle, being a working mum and running a business.

Do check out my blog which has a variety of topics and tips to help you with marketing and your business.

How to use Hashtags

How to use hashtags

If you want to know how to use hashtags, then this is the blog for you.

First of all, what are hashtags?

Hashtags are a simple keyword or phrase with the little hashtag symbol (#) in front of it.

Think of hashtags as a way to connect social media content to a specific topic, event, industry, theme, subject.  That’s what they do.

They make your posts easier to find on social media.  So, if you don’t use any hashtags on social media (depending on which social media platform you are on) your social media pots, will just get seen by your existing followers.

If you use hashtags on your social media, it opens up whatever you are posting about to a greater and wider audience.  So, they are really important for getting a new audience and building your audience or online community.

There is also a question of where to use them as well and there are so many different social media platforms too.  But different platforms use hashtags in different ways.  So, Twitter is a great place for using hashtags, if you can fit them all into the 280 character limit that you’ve got in there.  In Twitter, you often hear people say “it’s trending.”  That’s because people are using hashtags and that topic or subject is being found with that hashtag.

For example, if there’s a football game on then you may see #LiverpoolFC, or if there’s an event or a tv programme #BritainsGotTalent or #BGT.  So, then everyone can see the conversation that’s happening around Twitter.

Instagram is an amazing place to use hashtags as well, and you can use up to thirty hashtags on your Instagram posts.

On Facebook there is really no significant impact of using hashtags, particularly on your personal page.  A lot of personal pages are private, so they would never get found.  Some brands do use them, so you could have a look at those, but to be honest, they don’t really serve much purpose on Facebook.

You can also use them on LinkedIn, as long as they are nice and relevant to your post, and probably between five and ten.

Tip 1- How to find hashtags

So one of the first things to know is how to find hashtags.

A lot of people just don’t know what words to use as a hashtag and don’t know what they should be picking.  A really good tool for trying to find what hashtags you should use is Instagram itself.

Using the search tool, you can type in keywords and phrases.  Under the ‘tags’ section, it will show you everything that comes up that’s relevant to that hashtag, and it will tell you how many people have used that hashtag as well.  So, it is a really good tool for looking at what hashtags you could be using.

Another good tool if you are using Twitter, again in the search, having a look at what is trending on different days, having a look in the search bar and searching for different subjects, and that will bring up more ideas on what you can do.

You could also go into Google and put #anniversaries or #days and all the possible hashtag ideas you could use will also come up there.  For example #TopTipTuesday, #marketingtips, #MotivationMonday #WednesdayWisdom #ThrowbackThursday #FactFriday or #FunFriday #SaturdayVibes #SundayVibes #SundayChills

My favourite place to find hashtags is within the Instagram search; it’s a really good place to see what hashtags are popular, what’s relevant in your industry and how many people are using them as well.

Tip 2 – Create a hashtag bank

So, once you have all these hashtags and you sit down to write your post it’s hard to remember them or know which ones to use.  So, you should create a hashtag bank.  It’s entirely up to you how you do this.  With different clients, sometimes the easiest thing to do is just to make an Excel spreadsheet.  There are online tools such as Planoloy, or Later where you can do your social media scheduling and save hashtags in there.

It’s also really useful to create categories within that hashtag bank, so for example, for marketing I might have a marketing one, which might be like #Marketing #Marketingfun #Marketingconsultant #Marketingtips #Marketingadvise.

And I might have one that is social media.  #Socialmedia #Socialmediastrategy #Instagram #Twitter

Then I might have some that are relevant to where I live, so #Cumbria #CumbriaBusiness #Cumbrianbusinesses #Smallbusiness

If I’m writing one that is specific to me about being a working mum, I might put #Mumpreneur #Workingmum #Mumsrule or something like that.  And I would have found them because I’d done my search on my Instagram search and I know how many people are using them.

If you’ve searched and nobody has used them then there’s maybe not much point using them.  So find some that are popular, that people are sharing and will get your posts seen.

Tip 3 – How to use hashtags

So, there are different rules on different social media platforms about how to use hashtags.

As I said before, let’s forget about Facebook for using hashtags.

Pinterest, you can use loads of them; they will get your content found, drive traffic to your website which is good if you’ve got a product or a visual graphics, crafty sort of business.

Twitter.  However many you can fit in the 280 characters after you’ve written whatever you’ve written.  You can use them within your text or at the end of your text.

LinkedIn, I would recommend five to ten, but make sure they’re very relevant to what you are posting as well.  Don’t get too spammy

Instagram.  Instagram is brilliant for hashtags, and you can use up to thirty.  Really try and utilise those thirty.

Ensure that the first five hashtags are really specific and relevant to your post.

Then you want to add in some location hashtags as well, so I might put #Cumbria.  I’m in Penrith, so I might put #Penrith or if you’re doing some work in Newcastle #Newcastle.  Or even like, say I was sitting in a local venue, like the North Lakes Hotel whilst I’m sharing a post, I would put #NorthLakesHotel #Penrith #Cumbria.

Then you want to add in some industry-specific hashtags.  So, for me, it would be #marketing, #social media, #Instagram, #strategy and #planning for example.  So, think about what industry you’re in, and you want to create some industry-specific hashtags.

Then you want to have a think about niche hashtags as well.  So, some of the niche hashtags I use are specific to my business.  I use #marketingfun if I’m doing something interesting and fun that’s exciting.  I might use #AcornMarketing #MarketingPenrith.  So some that are really niche and specific to my business as well.

So, then if anybody clicks on that, they see all your posts that come up.

The other thing to think about is not adding in too many really popular hashtags.  So, if you go into the Instagram search bar again.  If I typed in, for example, #Marketing there are 46.5 million posts using that hashtag.  So, my little old post is probably not going to be seen.

However, if you type in #MarketingCumbria, there are 345 posts, so it’s more likely that my post would be seen.

So, try not to use too many of those hashtags that have millions of people using them.

Really do your research and have a look at how many people are using those hashtags as well, so then you can get a feel for what millions of people are posting about, as opposed to hundreds of thousands.  You want to be in that region or the niche and specific ones.

So by having that broad mix and different type of hashtags within your posts, you are more likely to be seen by people.

I’ve now got people that follow me from all over the world, and I don’t know how they find me.   It’s all because of hashtags.  So all those people that are following me from America, all those social media strategists, people that are engaging with me that I’ve never heard of before, they’ve probably found me because of my use of hashtags.

So, if you’ve not thought about using hashtags before, use this as a guide to doing a bit of research, create your hashtag bank, start searching for those hashtags, make different categories and make sure you use different hashtags for each time you post as well.  Make them relevant and specific to what you are posting about.

Hopefully, now you feel more confident in how to use hashtags!

Download my top tips to ‘pack a punch with your social media here or find out more about what I do here 

How to Start a Business

Starting a business

I thought, as somebody who found themselves in a really horrible circumstance years ago, I could share my advice and experience on starting a business. I was made redundant and literally had no savings, nothing. I’d moved to a new area, and I thought, “Oh, I’m going to start a business!”

So, from somebody who has been running a business for ten years now, I’m doing alright, I’m quite good at what I do and I’m successful with my business. I thought it might help some people who are maybe teetering on the edge of starting their own business or maybe had never thought about it before and were thinking “Maybe this is something I could do.”

Do Something you Love

My first tip is if you are thinking about starting a business, you have to do something you love.

If you are currently working in IT for example, and it’s a job that you sort of fell into, you’ve always done it, but to you, it’s just a job to make ends meet. There’s probably no point in you running a business that’s going to be in IT.

It’s got to be something that you’re passionate about. On Sunday night, I was thinking about my business, and I couldn’t wait to get up on Monday morning to get to my computer to start doing work. You’ve got to have that passion for what you are doing.

It can be something completely different to what you’ve done before. If you’ve got a passion or a love for it, you’ve got skills, expertise and knowledge in that area, then that is going to be something that is really good for you to do.

There’s no point doing something where it’s like “Well it’s alright. I’ve got skills in that; I can do it.”  You’ve got to live and breathe it. It’s got to make you tingle. You’ve just got to want to do it.

That’s top tip number one, do something you love.

Make Connections

Top tip number two is to make connections.

Everybody knows that word of mouth marketing is the best form of marketing. I’m a marketing consultant, but I am always going to say that word of mouth marketing is the best form of marketing. If you can make connections with people when you start your business this will help you gain clients or customers.

The first thing you should be doing is going out and networking, meeting people, getting your name out there and meeting like-minded business people. Find businesses that you can do some collaborative work with. Those connections can see you through really rough patches or enhance your business, and just make it so much easier to do what you love.

Find a really good solicitor, a really good accountant that you meet, that you get on well with and other people that might prove useful for your customers and clients in the future as well.

Making connections is one of the best things you can do and then other people will be a great advocate for you as well.

Ask for Help

Tip number three is to ask for help.

There is no shame when you run your business in asking for things or asking people for help.

Ask questions constantly. When you’ve made your connections, people are really willing and open to share their knowledge of how things work. If there is something that you are struggling with, whether it’s “How do I do my accounting?” or “How do I do some marketing?” Ask people. Ask other businesses what they’ve done.

The other thing with that is as well, is about delegating. If there is an area that is not your skillset, don’t do it. I’m no good at maths! I’m the first person to hold my hand up and go “I don’t do maths!  Where’s the calculator?”

I know when it comes to my accounts, I’m not going to do that myself so, I pay an accountant to do it. It’s worth every penny because it’s done properly and leaves me time to do my marketing work.

So, you delegate, ask for help, ask other people their opinion. Those connections that you make, and those people that you meet are the people who can help you, but you must shout for help.

Finding a business mentor as well is a really good thing. When I was younger, actually before I started my business, I had a couple of mentors in marketing, and they were amazing. Now I do that for other people as well, which is really rewarding.

These are my top three tips. However, some other things to think about when running your own business. Running a business is really hard. People will expect you to work seven days a week, twenty-four hours a day. People will email all times of the day. People call me at eight o’clock at night.

People do expect you to be on call and work all the time when you run your own business. It’s hard to say “No”, especially when you’re starting, it’s really difficult to say “No.” You want to say “Yes” to everything just to make some money, but you learn which people to say “yes” to and the people to say “No” to.

A big thing to consider if you run your own business is that no one is going to pay you if you’re sick.  No one is going to pay you when you go on holiday.  So you have to plan so you manage in those times as well.

I had a period of my life when I was in hospital for three months. Nobody paid me. Luckily, I had a business model, and I’ve been savvy in business to make sure I was covered for that ‘rainy day’ period. That is a negative of running your own business.

There is no doubt that it is a roller coaster. Some days you are like flying; you’re like, “I’m on fire!”  Then like other days things like Coronavirus hit, and it’s a bit s**t. Or you lose a client, or somebody says something negative.

Generally, there are loads and loads of positives for running your own business. Namely, you can be flexible; you can work what hours you choose, you can fit your work around your life. I work to live, not live to work. Basically, I work so I can pay my bills, but spend lots of time with my family and be there for the kids. I take them to school in the morning, pick them up, go to school plays. I’m not going to be one of those people where the business takes over my life. So, being super flexible, that is a massive positive of running the business.

Also, being able to have a bit of time to have self-care as well. Although sometimes that doesn’t always work because you end up working on your business leads. But having that bit of time, just to think “I’m going to go for a walk” or “I’m going to go and meet some friends for a coffee today.”

You can do that when you run your own business. When you are restricted with a nine to five job, you can’t. So, that is a massive positive, having that flexibility is fabulous.

Don’t get me wrong, it is hard running your own business, but it is so rewarding. I can’t tell you the joy and the positivity and the love that I have for running my own business, seeing it grow, and taking it to the next step. It’s fantastic.

If you are thinking about starting your own business, go for it. Reach out to people, ask people what they think. What have you got to lose? If you’re in a situation where you are going to potentially lose your job, or you are going to be made redundant, take it from somebody who was redundant and had zero savings in the bank. You can do it, and you can make money and make it successful.

It’s quite poignant at the moment for anybody that’s teetering on the edge of starting a business. I hope that it may inspired somebody to think “Right. I’m going to do this. I’m going to look into this.”

It’s hard, but it’s worth it.

Here’s some inspiration for you. “Apparently more millionaires are made during a crisis than otherwise.”

Seize the day, do it and let me know how you get on because I love hearing a positive, good news story. You can read more of my blog tips for marketing your new business here.

Join my Marketing Made Easy by Lisa Facebook Group and make connections, ask questions – we’re here to help.

Personal vs Business Facebook Page

Personal vs business Facebook pages

I have never really used my personal Facebook profile for marketing. I’ve always been an adamant believer that you should use a business profile, but it did get me thinking about any benefits to using a personal versus business Facebook page and would that be beneficial for marketing.

Sometimes, if I’m working on a really cool project or something, I will share it on my personal page. However, for me, my personal stuff is personal, and my business page is business.

Posting on your personal page actually gets seen by more people. It’s a fact. More of your friends are going to see the things that you post. There are still times when I post things and not every single one of my friends would see it, but personal posts do get more engagement than business posts.

I have done a bit of research to try and find out the differences, and what I would recommend that people do in terms of marketing.

I’m going to give you some of my top tips on why using a business page is probably more effective than using your personal page.

Scheduling

Tip number one. With a business page, you can schedule.

On your personal page you can’t do any scheduling, but for busy business people, who have got things to do and a business run, scheduling on social media is a really helpful tool. I’ve talked about this in previous Facebook lives that I’ve done. If you can schedule posts, say once a week, you can plan out your content, then you can sit back and you can forget about your social media for a week. Other than commenting and engaging with people, your posts are sorted.

You can’t schedule posts to a personal page. Now this is fine if you don’t believe in scheduling. If you don’t want to schedule stuff and you’re quite happy to sit down every day and churn out posts, that will work for you.

Advertising

Tip number two is advertising.

On a personal page you are not able to do any advertising to promote your business, whereas on a business page, you can.

I’ve had some really successful campaigns for clients where we’ve done Facebook advertising.  Whether that’s getting more likes, encouraging people to view certain posts on your page, driving traffic to your website, increasing sales, generating leads. Doing all this through your business page is possible, but it’s not possible on your personal Facebook page.

So, it depends on if you want to do any advertising for your business or not, but that’s something to consider.

There’s also the thing about, if you have a business page then you can create this little bit of code called a Pixel. A Facebook Pixel that you can plant in your website and then your Facebook page and your website talk to each other. Facebook knows who has been looking at your website, and you can send messages to them as well. You can do something which is called re-targeting and send specific adverts to those people too.

Again, you can do that on a business page, but you can’t do it on a personal profile page.

Analytics

The third tip is Analytics.

On your business page one of the best things you can do is look at your insights.

If you’ve never scrolled and looked through that extra menu where it says ‘Insights’, and you run a business and have a Facebook page, I would urge you to go and look at your insights because it’s a hive of information and it tells you all sorts.

You can see who’s been on your page, when they’ve been on your page, you can see how many new likes you’ve got, you can see where your followers live, you can see what posts are performing well.  That’s a really good one to know what does work and what doesn’t work.

Have a look at this extra analytical data. Again, you can’t do that on a personal page.

There are many more benefits of using the business page over a personal page.

However, there is a school of thought that you could use a bit of both. Now, personally for me, I wouldn’t want to start using my personal page because I’ve got all my past school mates on there, I’ve got all my university friends, I’ve got random people I know from the town, I’ve got all my family on there. You know, those are the type of people who engage with my personal page.

If I were to start writing loads of business posts on there, it’s going to get seen by my Mam who is going to comment on it, but really are they going to buy my services? They will probably tell people about stuff I do, but they are not really my target customer.

I would say if you’ve got a personal page with loads of friends on it, either delete all your mates and be strategic about how you friend new people. Befriend business colleagues, people that you would want to do business with because, like I said at the beginning, there is a school of thought where you do get more engagement on personal posts.

If you make lots of friends who are business colleagues, potential customers, that kind of thing and you post a few general posts, chatty engaging posts, then you are probably likely to get good engagement as well.

The other thing to think about is the kind of things you post on there as well. You don’t really want to be posting if you’ve been on a hen-do or stag-do with all your drunk pictures. You’ve got to think about having your personal page, but with a business hat on. Is it appropriate for business?

Now if you think your friends list is all business colleagues, and that you’re going to post work related things, then potentially having a personal page that is work focused and a business page, could work, and doing a bit of both on each. It could be a good thing.

Don’t think “I’m not going to have a business page” because you lose all those useful attributes like scheduling, the advertising, the insights and so much more. But if you really want to increase engagement, you could post on your personal page as well.

I would also say, try and keep some branding on your personal page. So, you know you have your cover photo on your personal page. Make it an image from a networking event or something work related, so then people can identify that it’s you. A lot of people know me and my business by Acorn Marketing, but then if they get a friend request from Lisa Jackson, they might not know who I am until they click on my page and see “Ah, it’s Acorn Marketing”. So, try and keep some branding in there.

Be selective with your friends if you are going to be using your personal page for business. Be very aware of what you post and don’t be overly salesy. I would still have a business page so you get the insights, analytics and the benefits of having a business page, and try different posts on both.

Personally, using a personal page for business is not for me, but I know my good friend Chris is trying out, there is no harm in giving it a whirl.

If you are really focused on your marketing, it is best to use a business profile, but there are a few little advantages of doubling up and having your personal profile for work as well.

I hope that’s been helpful and makes you consider the pros and cons of personal versus business Facebook pages for marketing.

Do read through my blog on a variety of other marketing advice and social media tips to help your business.