One thing I hear a lot is, "how do you find the time." I hear this a lot when I tell people that, in addition to my (very full) full-time job, and being a wife and mom, I run and market an Etsy shop.
This is not about "having it all," because we all know that’s a fantasy. But I have learned some strategies for working smarter while building my brand. Here are a few ways to follow your passion when you’re short on time but long on inspiration:
1. Do what you can, when you can
Think about the space you have in your day. Maybe it's 15 minutes on your lunch break. Maybe it’s a few minutes while riding the train to work. Maybe it's the half-hour when your kid is at swimming lessons.
Now try to imagine what you can do during that time. Can you answer emails, or post to social media? Can you plan out your next project, or return a few phone calls? Build routines that help you tap into those little windows of time in a strategic, organized way. I keep a list of little things that I can do when I have a bit of down time, like commenting on other blogs or sharing my products on Pinterest, that might otherwise fall by the wayside.
Now, I'm not saying you should spend every waking moment focused on your project. You deserve down time, too. But 10 minutes roughing out a blog post may be more energizing than aimlessly browsing Facebook.
2. Quit (or pause) what isn't working
When you're trying to launch a brand or build your following, staying on top of multiple different social media accounts can feel totally overwhelming. So don’t panic — just take it one step at a time.
If you’re just getting started with social media, take a look at what others in your niche are saying, and try imagine yourself joining the conversation. If it doesn't feel like the right fit, don’t force it.
If you're struggling to craft the right tweet, or your Instagram photos always fall flat, it's OK to let that platform go — maybe for now, maybe forever. Your audience isn't just on one platform; they're everywhere. You'll be able to connect with them much more easily when you find a space where you can be your best, authentic self.
3. Look before you leap
When I'm excited about something, whether it’s re-branding, launching a new product line or collaborating with someone, I want to do everything right now. And while that enthusiasm can be a great catalyst, it can also lead to rookie mistakes — which can be a huge waste of your precious time.
Give yourself permission to spend time on blogs and social media sites in your field, and pay close attention to what others are doing. Ask yourself, “What do I like about this? What does this person do well?” Inspiration is out there if you’re open to it — which leads me to my next point:
4. Say "I can" instead of "I can't"
It's way too easy to compare yourself to others, and feel frustrated or discouraged. It's the trap of thinking, "Well, if I could afford to hire models, my products would look terrific too!" But that kind of thinking is only a waste of time. So focus instead on what you can do.
For years, I used a terrible old iPhone 4S to take product photos. They were grainy, and the color balance wasn’t great. That was my reality until I could afford a better camera. So I worked hard to improve my photos, seeking out the best possible light, learning more about my photo editing software and focusing on composition. If you keep sight of what’s possible, you won’t get stuck pining for the things that aren’t yet within your reach.
5. See what sticks
If you just launched a cooking blog, but you suddenly have the urge to do a style post, I say go for it. Give yourself permission to experiment — to see what your audience responds to, and also to see what feels right for you.
While building a consistent brand is important, you may have to feel your way a bit to get there — and that’s OK. When I started blogging, I tried everything from giveaways to DIY and craft posts, just to see what worked. Taking an idea from concept to reality requires some flexibility.
6. Be smart about stats
Stats can make you crazy, and can gobble up a lot of time as you sit there staring at the numbers, wondering why no one liked your post from last Tuesday. But I am a serious stats lover. Give me a good data set, and I'm like a kid with a new toy. The key is to ignore the numbers, and focus on the trends.
My blog stats showed me that my most popular posts by far were interviews, and refashion posts. Rather than getting hung up on the individual numbers, I can use this information to guide my content going forward. I won’t tie myself in knots to chase stats, but on the other hand, it’s exciting to share things that I know my readers will respond to.
7. Ride those coattails
I've joined linkups and fashion challenges, interviewed other bloggers, reached out to local Etsy sellers and joined a blogging network. These no-cost strategies got my brand out to new people while also helping me create a network of like-minded people in my niche, who happen to also be super awesome.
When I started blogging, I had an "if you build it, they will come" mentality. Which is pretty hilarious, given how much competition there is for people’s time and attention. Since then, I've learned that partnering with others in my field who are more well established is a much better strategy — and it doesn’t have to cost you a dime.
We all wish we could have more time in our days. But with these seven smart strategies, you can get the most out of the little time you have.
I walk into a room full of men and I know exactly what they're thinking: "What does she know about whisky?"
I know this because many men have asked me that same question from the moment I started my career in spirits a decade ago.
In a male-dominated industry, I realized early on that I would always have to work harder than my male counterparts to prove my credibility, ability and knowledge in order to earn the trust of leadership stakeholders, coworkers, vendors and even consumers of our products. I am no stranger to hard work and appreciate that everyone needs to prove their worth when starting any career or role. What struck me however, was how the recognition and opportunities seemed to differ between genders. Women usually had to prove themselves before they were accepted and promoted ("do the work first and earn it"), whereas men often were more easily accepted and promoted on future potential. It seemed like their credibility was automatically and immediately assumed. Regardless of the challenges and adversity I faced, my focus was on proving my worth within the industry, and I know many other women were doing the same.
Thankfully, the industry has advanced in the last few years since those first uncomfortable meetings. The rooms I walk into are no longer filled with just men, and perceptions are starting to change significantly. There are more women than ever before making, educating, selling, marketing and conceptualizing whiskies and spirits of all kinds. Times are changing for the better and it's benefitting the industry overall, which is exciting to see.
For me, starting a career in the spirits business was a happy accident. Before spirits, I had worked in the hospitality industry and on the creative agency side. That background just happened to be what a spirits company was looking for at the time and thus began my journey in the industry. I was lucky that my gender did not play a deciding role in the hiring process, as I know that might not have been the case for everyone at that time.
Now, ten plus years later, I am fortunate to work for and lead one of the most renowned and prestigious Whisky brands in the world.. What was once an accident now feels like my destiny. The talent and skill that goes into the whisky-making process is what inspired me to come back and live and breathe those brands as if they were my own. It gave me a deep understanding and appreciation of an industry that although quite large, still has an incredible amount of handmade qualities and a specific and meticulous craft I have not seen in any other industry before. Of course, my journey has not been without challenges, but those obstacles have only continued to light my passion for the industry.
The good news is, we're on the right track. When you look at how many females hold roles in the spirits industry today compared to what it looked like 15 years ago, there has been a significant increase in both the number of women working and the types of roles women are hired for. From whisky makers and distillers to brand ambassadors and brand marketers, we're seeing more women in positions of influence and more spirits companies willing to stand up and provide a platform for women to make an impact. Many would likely be surprised to learn that one of our team's Whisky Makers is a woman. They might even be more surprised to learn that women, with a heightened sense of smell compared to our male counterparts, might actually be a better fit for the role! We're nowhere near equality, but the numbers are certainly improving.
It was recently reported by the Distilled Spirits Council that women today represent a large percentage of whisky drinkers and that has helped drive U.S. sales of distilled spirits to a record high in 2017. Today, women represent about 37% of the whisky drinkers in the United States, which is a large increase compared to the 1990s when a mere 15% of whisky drinkers were women. As for what's causing this change? I believe it's a mix of the acceptance of women to hold roles within the spirits industry partnered with thoughtful programs and initiatives to engage with female consumers.
While whisky was previously known for being a man's drink, reserved for after-dinner cigars behind closed doors, it is now out in the open and accessible for women to learn about and enjoy too.
What was once subculture is now becoming the norm and women are really breaking through and grabbing coveted roles in the spirits business. That said, it's up to the industry as a whole to continue to push it forward. When you work for a company that values diversity, you're afforded the opportunity to be who you are and let that benefit your business. Working under the model that the best brand initiatives come from passionate groups of people with diverse backgrounds, we are able to offer different points of view and challenge our full team to bring their best work forward, which in turn creates better experiences for our audience. We must continue to diversify the industry and break against the status quo if we really want to continue evolving.
While we've made great strides as an industry, there is still a lot of work to be done. To make a change and finally achieve gender equality in the workplace, both men and women need to stand behind the cause as we are better collectively as a balanced industry. We have proved that we have the ability to not only meet the bar, but to also raise it - now we just need everyone else to catch up.