Career 13 April 2017
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.
3 min read
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Help! My Friend Is a No Show
Dear Armchair Psychologist,
I have a friend who doesn't reply to my messages about meeting for dinner, etc. Although, last week I ran into her at a local restaurant of mine, it has always been awkward to be friends with her. Should I continue our friendship or discontinue it? We've been friends for a total four years and nothing has changed. I don't feel as comfortable with her as my other close friends, and I don't think I'll ever be able to reach that comfort zone in pure friendship.
Dear Sadsies,I am sorry to hear you've been neglected by your friend. You may already have the answer to your question, since you're evaluating the non-existing bond between yourself and your friend. However, I'll gladly affirm to you that a friendship that isn't reciprocated is not a good friendship.
I have had a similar situation with a friend whom I'd grown up with but who was also consistently a very negative person, a true Debby Downer. One day, I just had enough of her criticism and vitriol. I stopped making excuses for her and dumped her. It was a great decision and I haven't looked back. With that in mind, it could be possible that something has changed in your friend's life, but it's insignificant if she isn't responding to you. It's time to dump her and spend your energy where it's appreciated. Don't dwell on this friend. History is not enough to create a lasting bond, it only means just that—you and your friend have history—so let her be history!
- The Armchair Psychologist