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3 Hacks to Automate your Business

To Survive a busy season ( You need to check out number 3!)

We have all been there, it’s half term or you are about to switch into holiday mode and the panic starts… how can we manage our work load whilst the kids are home or we are off travelling?

Well, I wanted to put together a guide with some quick tips to help you manage your workload and automate some key aspects of your business so you can actually take the break you need.

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10 things people don’t know about me

A few fun facts that you may or may not know about me…

The other week I announced that I’m pregnant woohoo, and shared a little about how I was feeling. Well as a continuation of that theme ‘personal stuff on the blog’ I thought I would create a little post so you can get to know me a little better. Because lets be honest sometimes that is far more interesting than the business stuff!

It’s like having a good old stalk on someones social page and finding an absolute gem of a fact or picture… well to save you the stalking I thought I would share some fun facts beyond the fact I love wine, coffee, twiglets and candles!

1. I didn’t pass my driving test till I was 26

Not only did I not pass it was the 4th time!! OMG right. I took the test 3 times when I was 17 and lets just say I was a little hot headed back then. When I was 21 I got a scooter for Christmas, I think my parents felt sorry for me having to walk everywhere since I had no money for the bus! I loved my scooter and it definitely helped me with road awareness because trust me when I say if you’re on two wheels you have to make damn sure you are seen. Basically scooting around helped me eventually pass my test… I think the saying is 4th time lucky right?

2. I have been with Ian since I was 18

We are pretty much childhood sweethearts and this September we celebrate 5 years married and this year is 12 years together! Not sure how we have done it but I am pretty certain it has involved a lot of wine, cheese and a mutual love of winding each other up.

3. I used to be a Cheerleader

Ok so this is linked to the previous one, technically I met Ian because he was the quarterback of our university American Football team and I was on the cheer squad. I can tell you honestly I lasted 3 months because I absolutely sucked at it!! The cheers were just not my thing!

4. I actually used to be a competitive gymnast

This is what got me into the cheer team, there was no gymnastics team at our uni and so I settled. I absolutely love Gymnastics to this day if I am drunk I will always do something to show off either a cartwheel or the splits – both of which usually result in a sprained ankle due to heels and intoxication but I just can’t resist.

5. I Managed a hotel at 21

Having gone to uni to study tourism management I quickly discovered you didn’t need a degree to do what I wanted to do. So, I got myself a job at the only 5 star hotel in Bristol and worked my way up. At 21 a role at a boutique B&B came up for a live in general manager and I applied never thinking I would ever get it. The owner thought I was about 27 (hmm thanks..?) and offered me the job because of my previous experience. I think he was a little shocked when he finally figured out my age.

6. I graduated from my Law Degree when Henry was 2 weeks old

When I was at the hotel I started to regret not finishing my degree (or more correctly not having one) so I signed up to the Open University to do a law degree. It took me 5 and half years to complete whilst working full time and I graduated with a 2:1 – This is probably my proudest achievement apart from having children.

7. I was part of a circus

This runs along the theme of trying to find something to substitute for gymnastics but I joined a circus troupe of acrobatics in Bristol. This faired far better than the cheerleading, I absolutely loved it and would sign up again in a heartbeat.

8. I love decorating cakes

I say decorating because I actually despise making them! I just like making them look pretty!

9. I draw a portrait for the singer Anastasia

It’s safe to say I have always loved being creative and went through a stage of drawing all the time. but one night I was drawing in a bar waiting for Ian to finish his shift and a man walked up to the bar to order a drink and saw what I was drawing and asked if he could commission me to draw his wife. Turns out it was Anastasia’s husband, ended up also getting free tickets to her show the following night. Win win.

10. I bungee jumped off the highest bridge in the world

Not much to say about this one except it was soooo scary but I am so glad I did it

I hope you found this post interesting… It also serves as a little reminder that letting people peek behind the scenes of your ‘real life’ in business isn’t always a bad thing. People want to find true connection and they enjoy getting to know the person behind the business.

So could you show up on Instagram or on your blog in a slightly more vulnerable and open way? Let your audience connect with you on a level beyond what you do or sell.

An Ultimate Guide to IGTV

An Ultimate Guide to IGTV

IGTV is short for Instagram TV

Since the launch of Insta stories in 2016, more and more people are consuming video content on their phones. According to Cisco we can expect to see about 80% of internet traffic in the form of videos by the end of 2019. Meaning the majority of all mobile data traffic will be video content which means huge things for IGTV.

Youtube viewers already consume 1 billion hours of content a day so with IGTV being a less saturated platform now is a great time to start creating content for the site.

IGTV video is an app that can be used alone or in tandem with Instagram. It’s essentially Instagram’s answer to YouTube in that it’s designed for the mobile-optimized viewing of long-form videos.

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tips to writing amazing instagram captions

8 secrets to writing amazing Instagram captions!

Instagram is a great social media platform to promote your brand. With over 1 billion users and 95 million posts per day, it is the perfect place to reach and grow your audience. However, an interesting and engaging Instagram post doesn’t just consist of a pretty picture. It is like a puzzle and you need all the pieces to fall into place for it to work well for you.


To succeed on Instagram, you must have more than just a pretty picture. While a picture is worth a thousand words, a good Instagram caption is key to encouraging users to take actions like leaving a comment, taking a mooch on over to your website or purchasing your product or service.

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How to attract your ideal client on Instagram

When you are starting a business there is always so much talk about who your ideal client is and that you need to know your ideal client avatar in order to sell and whilst that is completely true it is often never followed up with how you should actually find them in order to be able to sell to them.

How to find your ideal client on Instagram

Are you ready to start thinking about your feed more strategically and attract your ideal client on Instagram? Then you’re in the right place. Today I’m so excited to be sharing my tried and true tips that I use to leverage my own account with the followers I already have. As a smallish account, I have found ways to SERVE the followers I already have, let go of the vanity of the like count, and create a community of engaged followers that are interested in BUYING FROM ME, I get tagged in posts daily by my followers when someone is looking for the products I sell.

I’m passionate about this topic because I started my business by leveraging this platform, it worked when I had a 1000 followers and it continues to work now. I believe so strongly in this next statement so listen up.

YOU DO NOT HAVE TO HAVE THOUSANDS OF FOLLOWERS TO MAKE THOUSANDS OF POUNDS!

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We’re having a baby!

I want to caveat this post and say if you are currently struggling or have struggled to start a family this post may be triggering so you might want to just skip on by. I’m aware how heart wrenching posts like this can be so I just want to give you the heads up. xox


We are so excited to share some big news in the Hugo household!! We are expecting baby no. 2!!
Making an announcement and sharing this news online is a really big deal for me as I did absolutely nothing to announce Henry’s pregnancy. In fact the only way people found out beyond our immediate friends and family was when Ian posted a picture of me celebrating getting my law degree when I was 34 weeks pregnant. As you can imaging people were a little shocked to see me sporting a massive bump!

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How to Create a Beautiful Instagram Theme

HOW TO CREATE AN BEAUTIFUL INSTAGRAM THEME 

5 WAYS TO CREATE A CONSISTENT INSTAGRAM THEME

I truly believe an Instagram theme is one of the single most important strategies to growing your account. Why? Because it is like any aspect of marketing it is what makes you recognisable and lets you stand out. You need to think of it as part of your overall brand.

If you don’t have a theme people will struggle to remember your content because it just looks like everyone else’s. It won’t stand out and it won’t encourage people to follow you because they don’t know what kind of content you will be creating on a regular basis. People are creatures of habit and they want to know that when they click follow they are going to get more of what the content they already like.

Hint: Think about the accounts you go back to time and time again, chances are their content is pretty consistent. 

Think of your Instagram feed as someone’s first glimpse at your business or brand. You want them to be drawn in by it and captivated right off the bat before they ever watch your stories or read through your well thought out captions, right?

Having a good looking and cohesive feed on Instagram is really important when it comes to building loyal followers. Aesthetic is everything but remember you can still be authentic to be true to yourself as well! Having an aesthetic doesn’t mean you’re not being real, it just means you understand how important it is for a business to have a brand and that doesn’t just mean a pretty logo.

 

I have a interiors and lifestyle account because that is my niche but these tips can be applied to any type of account so don’t worry! 

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Why Blogging is so important for your business in 2019

and not to mention your Instagram strategy!

Blogging is such an important tool for small businesses, but it can seem like such a daunting task and another thing that is tacked onto the end of your never ending ‘to-do’ list.

And if writing just isn’t your thing (which I honestly hear all the time, and trust me it definitely isn’t mine!! Hello dyslexia!) you probably want to stay as far away from blogging as possible!

Especially if you don’t know the benefits that blogging can have on your business, you may decide it really isn’t really worth it, or maybe worse still you might start one and only post once and then forget about it.

So, I am going to detail the benefits to blogging and why blogging is important and how you can incorporate a ‘blogging’ strategy into your marketing plan. I also want to tell you why it’s a crucial aspect in turning your Instagram followers into paying clients. I’ll even share some ways to blog if you don’t want to blog! Sound good?

BENEFITS OF BLOGGING

EXPANDS TRAFFIC TO YOUR WEBSITE

If you have an online business especially, your website is the equivalent of a brick and mortar shop. Instead of having customers who can walk into your store to see your products, you have to rely on traffic coming to your website.

Blogging is important as it allows you to increase the amount of traffic coming in to your website.

If you have a blog that you are updating weekly, all that extra content you are creating increases your chances of being found online via multiple sources!

The more extra traffic that falls onto your website has a higher potential of converting into sales/potential clients, which leads me to my next point…

INCREASES YOUR CLIENT LIST

It is all well and good having a blog, but you need to consider what is the aim of each post is, is it to target clients or generate leads. Keeping this in mind, what do you from this blog post, is it to get more email leads? Is it to sell? Is it to get inquiries from a contact form?

Try and find a way to weave that into your writing, offer an option to respond with their opinion. Or sign up to your email list to get more information on the topic.

Knowing the end goal of the blog post is incredibly important as it will shape your tone, the way you write and the keywords you are targeting.

EXPANDS YOUR SEO (AKA FREE MARKETING)

SEO stands for Search Engine Optimization and is the process of obtaining free traffic from Google and other search engines.

Search engines favour websites that continuously create new content, which is why blogging so advantageous for SEO.

Not only that, having a blog will allow you to get in front of potential customers far easier.

For example, let’s say I sell baby sleep routines online. (Something I definitely purchased when I was a sleep deprived mum to a newborn baby).

With a blog, I’d be able to write posts on various topics about motherhood (but more specifically for new mums who are desperate to buy anything that helps them and their little one sleep) such as:

  • a post on how much a new-born should be sleeping (someone looking into this is probably struggling to get their child to sleep through)
  • a post on the top sleep accessories for babies (again someone searching for this is probably desperate to try anything to get some sleep)
  • a post on why sleep routines are good for babies and how they thrive on them.

When someone is searching for queries around babies and sleep, your blog posts could show up in the search results. It also means these people are your ideal client and are looking for a solution and your product or service could be that solution to their problem.

Without a blog, it would be much harder to get organic traffic into your website.

BE SEEN AS AN AUTHORITY IN YOUR NICHE

When someone new visits your website, it’s so important that they feel a sense of trust that turns them from ‘first time visitor’ into ‘raving fan’ and then ‘loyal customer.

And a blog plays a huge influential role in that, as it showcases your knowledge and positions your brand as a leader within your niche.

When someone lands on your website and reads through your blog posts, you are able to develop a connection with them without having to actually speak to them.

I know my ideal client and so I craft blog posts around FAQ’s, problems they might be facing and any anticipated needs they have. Any questions my visitors have can hopefully be answered through a blog post!

And if they are, that will have started to build that valuable ‘like, know and trust’ factor that is essential for any business and customer relationship. It will also show them that I know what I am talking about and so leave them wanting to hear from me more often.

IMPROVES YOUR INSTAGRAM STRATEGY

With Instagram the aim should be to send people down a rabbit hole. The last thing you want is for them to ‘like’ your pictures ‘comment’ and then click away. Your strategy should alway be to keep them wanting and learning more. You should be gently guiding them through a series of steps which help them get to ‘like, know and trust’ you and your business.

You also own your blog space, where as any social media platform could disappear tomorrow meaning all that hard work you put in to growing it would be wasted. So driving your followers onto a platform you own and giving them an opt in to sign up to your mailing list should be your number one priority.

If people choose to sign up to follow your blog and join your email list those are people that really want to hear from you and should be considered warm leads when it comes to selling.

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SHOULD YOU START A BLOG?

 Is starting a blog for everyone? Ideally, if you have a website, I’d say ‘YES! Start that blog!’ but there are some cases where I think maybe it’s not for you…hear me out.

Incorporating a blogging strategy can be very time-consuming. Search engines favour long-form content and if you want to start blogging, you should be aiming to publish at minimum a few long-form blog posts each month.

If you can’t commit to this, reconsider your blogging strategy. It’s better to not blog than to keep an empty blog on your website that only has one post that you wrote over a year ago. An empty blog can make it seem as if you aren’t active on your website anymore, and you don’t want potential customers to think you don’t have time to manage your site. Instead, consider some alternatives to blogging.

But what should you do if you understand the importance of blogging but still don’t really want to blog…? That’s when you will want to blog, without actually having to blog.

BLOGGING WITHOUT HAVING TO ‘BLOG’

WRITE CASE STUDIES

When some people hear the word ‘blogging’ they run in the other direction. Let’s change it from ‘blogging’ to content marketing’. Content marketing is a marketing strategy where you create content in order to drive traffic and leads to your website. A blog is a form of content marketing but can really be any type of content that you plan to update your website with!

Perhaps you could do case studies or publish reviews on products or services?

HIRE A COPYWRITER

If a blog is something you want to have but don’t have the time for, or truly hate writing, you still have options!

You can always consider outsourcing your content creation to a copywriter. There are a lot of websites where you can hire someone to write ghost-written blog posts for your business!

GUEST BLOGGERS

Consider asking guest bloggers to write pieces for you, it helps with exposure on both sides and it helps you by creating content for your site without having to write a single word.

And again posting to your site helps drive traffic to your site.

VLOG or PODCAST

Some people, myself included if I am honest find it far easier to talk to a camera than sit down and write. I however am limited to the amount of time I can talk toddler free, so I choose to blog in the majority instead, as it doesn’t matter if Henry is nattering away in the background.

But if talking comes far easier to you, record yourself speaking and upload that to a blog post with a little summary of what you are talking about and ta-dah you have a blog post.

 

7 tips for using Canva for your business

Launching a online brand can feel like you have to suddenly become a graphic designer and web developer or at least have one on tap to create all sorts of funky designs you didn’t even realise you needed.

Creating a business doesn’t end once you have decide on the look and feel of your web site. You’ll need to make sure your brand’s design aesthetic carries across all your online platforms in order to become a recognisable brand.

As female entrepreneurs, we are constantly reminded of how important it is to have an online presence that is cohesive in content, design, and structure to enhance our client experience and drive brand recognition. But between balancing life and business building, you may find that you don’t often have too much time for creative play.

The good news is that Canva has you sorted. This online software allows you to create professional graphics for your website and social media feeds for free. It even let’s you save templates so you can just tweak the wording and your new graphic is ready to go. You can see I do this for all my blog posts, it keeps it simple for me but also allows my brand to stay consistent and recognisable.

Here are our 7 c’s to using Canva effectively for your social media:

1. The Canva Colour Picker

It’s important to make sure you know the colour “number” code. This is called the hex colour value often seen as “colour code #”. Using the Canva colour picker you can simply type this number into the box and it will match your brand font or background colour, allowing you to design with consistency.

2. Consistency is Key

I recommend you design with consistency in mind. What are the fonts, colours, background images and textures of your brand look and feel? Deciding on your brand style as early on as possible and sticking to these decisions whenever you’re designing in Canva will ensure you create consistent content no matter which pre-made design you choose to work with. It will help to make your brand ‘instantly recognisable’.

3. Create for All Platforms

Canva makes it really easy to select which social media platform you’re working on. Once you choose from a variety of pre-made designs for Instagram, Facebook or Pinterest, you can constantly view “my designs” and bulk design for across all platforms to promote the same update for your viewers.

It’s also a good idea to include your URL address at the bottom of your design, allowing whoever views your content to know where else to find you.

Quick tip: try and design with the platforms you want to share to in mind, for example if you are going to promote something on Instagram stories and in feed you could pick the story template and make sure the bulk of your design is in a square so that the same image can be used in feed. 

4. Create Interest

Canva allows for several design layers, fonts, and images to be combined into one design. Make use of this feature when tweaking pre-made designs to create interest. We recommend you use up to three different type fonts, alter the layer transparency and carefully select your copy that keeps your ideal clients interested in your products.

5. Curate Your Own Backgrounds

While Canva has many styled stock images you are able to purchase, this can get costly. We recommend making use of your own stock library, or creating custom brand images or basic coloured backgrounds that suit your brand, to then upload as you design. This helps with your brand consistency but also with keeping your design costs to a minimum.

You can also grab 5 FREE #girlboss stock images by clicking here 

6. Build Your Community

Canva makes it’s quick and easy to create visually consistent and shareable images for your brand. By following the colour and consistency “rules” while designing to create interest, your site visitors and social media followers will begin to know your style. Seeing one of your designs in their feed will immediately get them thinking of your business and brand, creating the recognition that results in sales.

7. Don’t Play The Comparison Game

With such a wide selection of pre-made designs and ready-to-use stock images, it’s easy to start playing the comparison game when using a program like Canva. Try to get clear on your own style before starting and always stick to your style guide.

It’s useful to sketch out what you need the design for before starting. Planning ahead and design in bulk whenever possible will save you time and effort and free up your creativity to focus on what you love doing for your business.

You NEED a mentor!

We were having a braai (BBQ to any none South African’s) last night with Ian’s cousins and we were talking about the power of having someone in your life as an entrepreneur who is a few steps ahead of you to help guide you through the ups and downs of being a business owner.

These people can be the magic ingredient a small business needs to thrive, the person who tells you to keep at it when you’re at your lowest point, or just someone who gave the right advice at the right time. Whatever the situation, many people owe a great deal of gratitude to their mentors.

And it got me thinking about my own mentors, I have been lucky enough to have several people who have all helped me in different ways but one mentor in particular came into my business at the right time and helped shake things up and got me thinking about my business in a completely different way.

 

Lisa Johnson has been a mentor to me for the about 6 months now, her no fluff approach to business is so refreshing as is her super honest get s**t done as done is better than perfect mentality.

Today marks a huge milestone in Lisa’s own business journey as she has been featured in the one and only Forbes magazine you can check out the article HERE, as any entrepreneur will know this is a huge honour and could be a massive quantum leap forward for her business.

If you are looking for an inspirational story that is going to help kick your butt into gear this is for you! I highly recommend you read Lisa’s story, it shows what pure determination and a bloody strong will can do and just how any of us can succeed if we are concentrate on the parts of our business that actually make money rather than all the ‘other stuff’ that just keeps us busy.

You can check out Lisa’s free facebook group HERE and connect with her on Instagram here if you are intreugied to find out more. 

Let me know what you think? Do you have a mentor? Why not hit the reply button and tell me how having a mentor has positively impacted your life? I love nothing more than hearing powerful stories of women helping women! 

Love Abi x