Let’s get this straight – follow/unfollow the good, the bad and the ugly!

If I could wave a magic wand and change one thing for all of you it would be to stop this dreaded follow/ unfollow game!

Why in the world do people still do it! It f**king drives me crazy!

Picture this, you start your new account, this is your dream business and you are putting your heart and soul into building it and getting your message out there and then you hit 100 followers, 200 followers, 300. But, every time you hit that milestone you drop right back down again and it takes you another couple of weeks to creep back up to that spot that you already hit.

Why do people do it?

In short, because it works. People wouldn’t still be applying this method if it didn’t get results! But, it only gets them a number. It gets them no authentic engagement or true fans! They do it for the vanity of saying they have X amount of followers.

Meanwhile you’re sat there trying to figure out why you had 510 followers last night and 487 this morning…

You can’t work out what you posted that turned so many people off, did you say something that offended them? Where your prices too high?

No, none of that. You my friend did absolutely nothing wrong. Your content was never of interest to them in the first place. So, the first thing I want to say is try to just ignore those feelings that you and your business are not good enough. Those people that keep dropping off only wanted one thing from you and that was to get a reciprocating follow from you.

But chances are you don’t want to follow them because maybe you don’t relate with their content or they have nothing to do with your industry or ideal client. You might however be tempted to hit that follow button just so you ‘keep’ them as a follower.

Here’s the problem with that though, if you do decided to hit follow one of two things is going to happen. Either as soon as you tap that follow button they are going to hit unfollow, because they don’t want their ‘figures’ to be skewed. Which means they don’t want to ‘look’ like someone who follows to many people so they have to unfollow to keep their following number lower.

Or you’ll actually retain them as a follow (in which case this is someone pretty amateur trying to play at the follow unfollow game but doesn’t really get the concept) and they will never interact with your posts they will never like or comment on anything you put out there and so they become a ghost. The deal here though is that you can physically only follow 7500 accounts and believe me there is no way you are going to want to follow that many, I follow over a 1000 and I know I miss content from some of my favourite accounts daily!

What’s a ghost?

A ghost is someone who lurks, they decided to grace you with a follow and then basically bugger off and never look at your account ever again.

Ghost followers can be so damaging to our accounts because they decrease our engagement rating. The algorithm ranks content according to how many people interact with it. The more people interact, the more the algorythm pushes our content out to new accounts its like a snowball effect.

When ghost accounts don’t interact with our content our rating goes down and it signals to the algorithm that OUR people are not interest in our content and so it should share it wider. Meaning, you are going to struggle to grow as your content isn’t going to be seen by a wider audience.

What should you do then?

My advice is when you see someone follow you who just feels a bit fishy, perhaps it’s a massive account that is in a completely different industry, or they are following 1000’s of accounts. Block them. Block them straight away and pretend they never existed, forget about the vanity of the extra follower you might have had. It is far better to have a smaller more engaged audience who want to buy every single product or service you put out there than a huge following of people that buy nada!

Have you joined my free facebook group for ambitious creative business owners? In there I share all the insta goodies not available anywhere else! You can check it out HERE

 

How to use Time Blocking to drastically increase productivity

Time blocking is a type of scheduling that can help you manage your time better. Instead of working by the clock, you focus on finishing big and small tasks one at a time. This will help you limit distractions, get things done faster, and leave you less overwhelmed by lengthy to-do lists. To time block effectively, you’ll need to figure out what sorts of things you need to do each day, month, and year. You can then put a schedule in place and stick to it.

PHASE ONE

Think about what’s most important for you to work on each day. This could be slowly completing a long-term project, or finishing something you have been procrastinating on for a while. Make a list of your top three work priorities.

Make a list of your typical workday tasks. Beyond the bigger stuff, you’ve probably got tons of other things going on that take up time every day. Write down these smaller tasks, noting about how long they usually take you to complete. This could be answering emails or phone calls, promoting your company on social media, or posting an online comment about a book you’re reading in a networking group.

Block time for your hardest tasks when you’re most productive. For most people, this will be right at the start of the workday. Dedicate a minimum of one hour to your highest-priority task. Start there, and then move through to the next time block in order of priority.

  • For example, if you know you work best before noon, plan to spend the block before your lunch break on your toughest task
  • Usually, time blocks aren’t effective if they last more than a few hours.

Make a list of your non-work activities. Think about what’s important to you that’s not work-related. This could be spending time with your family, going on a date with your special someone, or catching a movie every so often. Don’t forget to also note big vacations!

PHASE TWO

Plan to finish tasks, not work by the clock. Don’t think about your workday as revolving around a clock. Instead, you should have several tasks that you set aside blocks of time to finish. Once you finish the tasks, you’re done with work.

·       So rather than having a random to-do list that you have to finish before five o’clock, you’ll have several blocks of time dedicated to completing individual projects one at a time.

·       This doesn’t mean you won’t still be in a routine. Your blocks of time should be consistent from day to day.

Block time for your hardest tasks when you’re most productive. For most people, me included this will be right at the start of the workday. Dedicate a minimum of one hour to your highest-priority task. Start there, and then move through to the next time block in order of priority.

·       For example, if you know you work best before noon, plan to spend the block before your lunch break on your toughest task

·       Usually, time blocks aren’t effective if they last more than a few hours.

Block out the rest of the day by tasks. Schedule the rest of the day in shorter blocks dedicated to one task per block. These blocks should go in order of priority, since your energy level will probably go down over the course of the day. You’ll also feel better if you know the hard stuff is done as early as possible.

·       If you’re the type of person whose energy increases as the day goes on, feel free to reverse the order of the tasks you’re tackling. Make the schedule work for you!

·       So, for example, if you’ve handled the hardest task first thing in the morning, break the afternoon down into two, three, or four blocks of time (each lasting an hour or two).

·       Everyone’s schedule will be different. You’ll need to decide what’s most important for your work on any given day.

Handle lowest priority items at the end of the day. Address less complicated issues late in the day, when you’re tired and probably not feeling particularly productive or creative. These should be tasks that are relatively mindless or monotonous, and don’t require a lot of critical thinking.

·       Lower priority tasks could include answering emails and calls. You should plan to do this at the same time each day.

Add in blocks for planning. Since time blocking is all about scheduling and advanced planning, you need to make time for that too! Set aside one day each year for annual planning (for long-term projects), an hour each month for monthly planning, and an hour each week for weekly planning.

·       This means that all your scheduling and writing of to-do lists should occur only in the blocks you’ve set aside for planning.

Don’t forget to reserve time off. Schedule in time to spend with your family and friends each week. Input a large block of time for a big vacation once or twice per year. Remember to also add blocks for working on your house or cleaning.

Schedule an empty block of time each day for flexibility. This doesn’t have to be a huge block. Try having a 30-minute block and increase it if you need to. This can be for tasks that overflow beyond their set blocks, or unexpected disasters you have to deal with right away.

PHASE THREE

Use a paper or digital calendar to keep track of your blocks. Especially when you first start out, it may be hard to keep track of your different blocks. Use a calendar app on your smartphone with timers and reminders. You can also buy a large desk calendar and label the days, months, and year with your block.

Color-code your calendar. Both paper and digital options give you the ability to color-code, and you should take advantage. Label different time blocks in set colors. You can even match this to priority level. Red can be high-priority tasks, yellow moderate, and green low.

·       For paper, use different colored markers or highlighters. For digital, check the settings on the app or software you’re using and follow the instructions to color-code.

Be open about your schedule with coworkers and family. In order for your schedule to work, other people in your life need to learn to respect it. Consider sending an email to your coworkers about your time blocks so they know what to expect from your workday. You can also tell your family about your plans, and ask them to help you stick to it.

·       Don’t expect everyone to mold their schedules to yours. Before you finalise your blocks, make sure your time blocking doesn’t cause scheduling problems for someone you work or live with.

Commit to the routine for at least a month. Like any routine, you need to commit to time blocking to make it effective. It’ll probably feel overly rigid at first, but give it at least thirty workdays. By the end of the month, you’ll be able to tell whether it’s helped you become more productive.

Avoid distractions when working. When you’re in the middle of your time blocks, it’s important to only focus on the task that’s in front of you. Put your phone on silent, minimize background noise, and turn off notifications for your social media and email – THIS IS A MUST!

Track your productivity to see if time blocking works for you. Time blocking may not be for everyone. Make sure it works for you by seeing if you become more productive once you organize your schedule this way. To track your productivity, note how long tasks usually take you at the beginning and the end of the first month after you put the new schedule in place.

Three Ways Automation Can Improve Your Business

When I decided to start my own business the most important element of any business I was going to create was it had to be flexible around my little boy Henry.

I needed a business that allowed me to spend time with him when he needed me and get work done in the short amount of time when he napped (fingers crossed this lasts a while longer, I feel I’m running out of time with an 18 month old).

WHERE TO START

Before I talk about how I have implemented automation in my own business I want you to consider a couple of things. Ask yourself:

  • What tasks do you find yourself doing repeatedly?
  • What day to day tasks do you find tedious/boring?
  • What things are time consuming in your business?
  • Are there things more than one person to handle in order to complete them?
  • Are there things you’re doing over and over that not only need to be automated, but could also be outsourced to someone else?

1. Email Automation

If you haven’t already set up an email marketing campaign I urge you to go do it now. It is a way you can nurture your audience, getting them to like, know and trust you with out spending too much personal time daily sending emails.

I personally use ConvertKit I found it much easier to use than other email marketing platforms out there. It allows you to create a form which you can embed on your website or link to it on your social media platforms, this form ideally promotes a freebie or blog post which is so enticing it encourages the user to part with their email address to get the freebie.

Once they have entered their email address they get sent an email with the freebie and then they should be placed on what is called a welcome sequence this is usually a 5 email long sequence which introduces the new subscriber to who you are why they should care about you and your product or service and then in the final email you can offer them the opportunity to buy into you.

By doing using a service like this it is a once and done scenario, you write the freebie and welcome sequence once and then promote it continuously across different platforms so it keeps bringing traffic to your site.

2. Time blocking

Whilst this isn’t true automation it means you can get a lot of important work done in a couple of hours meaning you don’t have to spend all day working. If you want to read more about Time Blocking check out my blog post HERE but here is a quick condensed version.

Think about what’s most important for you to work on each day. This could be slowly completing a long-term project, or finishing something you have been procrastinating on for a while. Make a list of your top three work priorities.

Make a list of your typical workday tasks. Beyond the bigger stuff, you’ve probably got tons of other things going on that take up time every day. Write down these smaller tasks, noting about how long they usually take you to complete. This could be answering emails or phone calls, promoting your company on social media, or posting an online comment about a book you’re reading in a networking group.

Block time for your hardest tasks when you’re most productive. For most people, this will be right at the start of the workday. Dedicate a minimum of one hour to your highest-priority task. Start there, and then move through to the next time block in order of priority.

  • For example, if you know you work best before noon, plan to spend the block before your lunch break on your toughest task
  • Usually, time blocks aren’t effective if they last more than a few hours.

3. Social Media Automation

You didn’t think you could read a blog post from me and I wouldn’t talk about social media did you? I have spent a lot of time reading and researching this because I needed all the help I could get initially, I used to find myself going round in circles on various social media platforms and an hour would pass and I wouldn’t really know where it had gone or what I had done.

To stop this time wasting carousel I decided that at the beginning of each month I would sit down and map out my content for social media. By planning my images, captions, hashtags and strategy. This completely changed the amount of time I was spending on social media.

Whilst I still hang out there regularly, I can spend the time engaging with followers and discovering new accounts rather than scratching my head trying to think of a witty caption that helps my overall business plan.

Need a little extra help with what to post? I’ve got you covered, check out my free 30 day content plan guide below. Using this it will help your customers get to know, like and trust you and not over sell your business each time you post which will help to eliminate that feeling of being sleazy selling online.

What are favourite ways to automate your business? I’d love to know.

Love Abi x

4 Steps to a successful Instagram giveaway

Giveaways are a great way to reward your current followers and entice new followers to join your journey. Giveaways are often done because a company would like a little more exposure or when a big milestone has been hit like reaching 5k followers for example. 

So the real question is how do you run an Instagram giveaway and make it a huge success? How do you announce the winner without losing followers who were only there for the giveaway? How do you get more than just your best friend to enter?

These steps are going to be a step by step guide to running a killer giveaway on Instagram. #You’reWelcome (forgive me! The joys of having a 1 year old mean I have seen Moana far too many times and I cannot say this with out singing it! If you haven’t got a clue what I am talking about – you are lucky). 

1. Pick the product/service you want to give away.

What do you want to offer as a gift? I recommend sticking with a product. Giving away services often tend to means a lot more of a financial loss, as well as a lot more time and work. 

2. Choose your giveaway team, or go solo!

This one can be a little tricky.
I rarely recommend group/loop giveaways. However, those are a great way to gain more followers.
If you go with a group, ensure every single participant’s Instagram followers are in your target audience. If you sell to mum’s, don’t join a loop with a travel blogger, a web designer from Australia, and wedding planner from a small town in the middle of nowhere. You might get the participation but you won’t get loyal followers.
If you decide to go it alone, that’s perfectly fine! Just plan to do some extra engagement during the giveaway to increase profile views and (hopefully) entries.  

Often the best giveaways are small, one or two participants and a business, if you are the business team up with one or two influencers max it helps followers from getting board and annoyed by the amount of people they have to follow. 

3. Plan out the captions, rules, and hashtags.

Caption: Make it immediately obvious it’s a giveaway. I like to start off the caption by literally typing, “GIVEAWAY!” as my very first word. It also doesn’t hurt to add some text to your image so the people who just scroll through images without reading captions are also immediately aware.

Here is the template I often use when doing a giveaway:

*GIVEAWAY*
(Blurb about why you are doing the giveaway for example…)
I am so excited to have reached 1k followers and as a way of saying a massive thank you to you all for all of your love and support I have teamed up with BRAND to bring you this amazing PRODUCT which DESCRIPTION. I just know you will love it as much as I do. 
To enter all you need to do is 
1. Like this image
2. Follow me and BRAND
3. Tag as many friends as you like in the comments below. Each additional tag counts as an extra entry. One tag per comment. 
4. For an extra 10 entries share this post in your stories
Entries will close on X date and the winner will be announced on X date. 
This giveaway is open to UK participants only and is not endorsed by Instagram.

Your caption should clarify what the prize is and why you are doing a giveaway, any geographical limitations, when the giveaway will end, when the winner will be announced, and a statement explaining that Instagram is not endorsing or sponsoring your giveaway.

Hashtags: Who are you trying to reach? If you only want to gain local followers, avoid #giveaway or #freestuff, and stick with your usual hashtags. If you’re wanting followers from all over, you can broaden your scope a little bit and aim to reach the niche. For instance, I would use #creativesofinstagram to reach creatives rather than people just wanting free stuff. I may get less entries, but they’ll be a lot more meaninful and likely to convert.

4. Pick a winner!

If you required tags, simply access your Instagram post from a desktop computer. Copy and paste all of the comments into an Excel document and go to table tools –> remove duplicates. 
If you allowed additional entries such as tags or reposts, you will need to enter those individually.
See how many entries you have had and enter that number into googles random number generator. Ensure the user follows you, liked your image, didn’t skip any steps. If they do not follow you or missed steps, simply draw another number until you have a winner.

When announcing the winner, DO NOT CREATE A NEW POST TO ANNOUNCE ON INSTAGRAM OR IN YOUR STORIES. Unfortunately, giveaway entrants are famous for unfollowing you if they do not win. Instead, simply tag the winner in the original post which should by now be a few posts old so no one else is notified! Then send the winner a DM. Once the winner has acknowledged the prize you can archive the giveaway post.

I hope you found this helpful, if you have any questions leave me a comment below and I promise to answer. 

Are we already friends on Insta? If not you can find me scrolling here @themediagirlcreative

Love
Abi x