No, to be totally honest (and very, very serious)starting my podcastwas a flippant, heartfelt and totally deep-in-gut-creatively driven decision that I haven’t ever regretted for a second. It was one of those PERFECT timing, perfectly synced moments when what a kinda ‘lightbulb’ moment turned into some planning, a little self-doubt, and a whole heap of work.
And the most unexpected results.
You know when people say, ‘say yes, and more doors will open’?Sidenote: that isn’t an actual, comonly used phrase but humans have definitely said something similar to me before okay? So it’s a thing and we can all just go with it.
So, yes, when people proffer that wisdom I often recoil in horror. I hate blogging rules, I hate networking, I hate doing the things people tell me Ishouldbe doing. If you’ve been reading my blog for a while you’ll already know this. If not, this is new and fun info for you.
But podcasting? Well, nobody (in my echo chamber) was telling people to start podcasts as an extension of their blogging strategy. Which meant I was hopelessly (and, admittedly subconsciously) drawn to it.
Having no blueprint is scary though.Starting out when you haven’t seen your peers making mistakes you can dutifully avoid means you are the one making them. And in public too.
That’s not always comfortable, but it is motivating. It is empowering. And it has been the making of me.
Here are the myriad (okay, five) ways podcasting has changed my career:
My income increased
In an old episode of the podcastKayte Ferrisshared the importance of diversifying our income streams.
This is exactly what I’ve done through my podcast, attracting speaking engagements, creating courses and trainings*, podcast sponsors, Patreon and increasing my overall profile to the point where my audience flow through my blog, email list and Instagram too.
I found ‘my people’
As an INTJ personality type I’m used to being a loner (I make up less than 0.8% of the population).
Through the What She Said Facebook group (another whim!) I found a group of people who thought a lot like me. It’s mostly women, and we all support each other. We hate bullshit and we feel fear, often.
And most of all, we crave connection with people who aren’t annoying. This might seem like a small thing but to this introvert with no crew it’s been life-changing; a way to share my fears and hopes in a safe enviroment AND to serve. To serve in a non-icky way where the purpose isn’t leading to sales.
I learned my strengths
So, as it goes, I’m pretty good at interviewing people. That’s something that has come up a lot. From the people I interview to my listeners it’s a beautiful complimentary thread I didn’t expect to received.
As a journalist, I guess it’s in my (admittedly minimal) training to smell a story and I’m naturally prone to dig, dig, dig deeper until my curiositty and intuition is satieted. That means I like to get an interesting angle, and it often means I show a different side to my guests.
Tooting my own horn there 😉
I became an ‘expert’
Somewhat accidentally I might add! Doing it yourself either means you do it badly, or you learn to do it well. And while the latter is subjective what isn’t in question is the amount of hours spent teaching myself, reading around my subject and learning, learning, LEARNING.
And, as it goes, I’m quite a good teacher. I enjoy teaching others how simple it can be to start podcasting. Whether that’s a conference room of charity press officers, or in my home at a podcast workshop. Whether it’s through an online course or simply chatting about it on my podcast I LOVE seeing that ‘lightbulb’ moment in others. It’s magical.
Creating content became fun again
I never wanted to start a YouTube channel, and becoming an Instagram Queen wasn’t super accessible or appealing to me either.Writing’s my bag, always.
But sometimes it gets boring doesn’t it? The task of creating content for nobody but yourself (even when you have an audience) means you must be self motivated. You need to find inspiration when you cannot.be.arsed. And sometimes, that means you give up. Especially when creating content isn’t your main source of income. Especially when youcan.
Starting the podcast gave me a whole new way to create content. A way that meant I connected with my audience more intimately, more personally and, although it’s a whole heap of work, in a more creatively fulfilling way.
I still love writing the mostest ever. Like, the absolute mostest. But now I have a creative outlet that I rarely get sick of, one which fuels my writing and serves my content creation needs when writing is being a pain in the ass 😉
One of the misconceptions about Pinterest (apart from that it is a social media platform, which it IS NOT) is that it takes too much time and effort to master.
I honestly think folk think you are either a once a month pinner of fun DIY projects, a master Pinterest ninja driving insane traffic to your blog with nothing in-between.
The truth is that most of us spend a little bit of time each month, perhaps every three months and leave Pinterest to do its thing.
And when I say ‘leave it to do its thing’ I genuinely mean it. Not in that, “Just do this one simple strategy which involves creating high quality content and engaging for three hours every day”, I mean really. Just leave it alone.
I spend no longer than 30 mins on Pinterest a MONTH. And that includes creating new pins, pinning to group boards and Tribes AND filling up my Tailwind schedule with thousands of pins that’ll be pinned on autopilot.
And the clever little trick I use to do that is right here in this 6 minute video.
ps if you don’t already have Tailwind, you can grab a free month through my affiliate link below.
facebooktwitterpinterestinstagramlinkedin ....and other hyberbolic claims. No, to be totally honest (and very, very serious) starting my podcast was a flippant, heartfelt and totally deep-in-gut-creatively driven decision that I haven't ever regretted for a second. It...
My FAVE Pinterest Hack ever..... One of the misconceptions about Pinterest (apart from that it is a social media platform, which it IS NOT) is that it takes too much time and effort to master. I honestly think folk think you are either a once a month pinner of fun DIY...
I sorta hate this title. It feels dangerously close to me declaring myself a 'mumpreneur' and telling you how you can make your first 10k month using my patented methods. I'm not gonna do that. Promise. I've been working 'around' my little one, who is now two, for...
Oh Plastic Free July, you annoying, clever and necessary month. The first time I heard about Plastic Free July was maybe two years ago when I saw YouTubers sharing their progress, waste, and swaps. And, of course, their hauls.
I instantly hated it.
I should be clear at this point because I don’t want to put anyone off the movement, or the concept of ditching plastic for a month in order to make lifelong changes that ultimately benefit the world. Plastic Free July started as an offshoot month of encouraging folks to ditch single-use plastic pioneered by the amazing work being done by the Plastic Free Foundation. Similarly to Veganuary, you can pledge to join in for a month and get support along the way, ultimately aiming to change your own habits for good. It’s 100% free and a GREAT way to get tips and tricks from other people.
So why do I hate it? I don’t really. But I find that with any movement like this, and particularly one as on trend as zero plastique the most voracious, the most simplistic and, yes, the most privileged come out to play.
It’s when the NO STRAWS debate starts up again because, sure, most of us can easily ditch a plastic straw.
It’s when sustainability shaming is rife. Normally among the communities who hold the most power and have caused the bulk of the issue in the first place.
It’s where climate apartheid and greenwashing become so palpably clear the point of going plastic free is lost in a shouty Twitter rant.
Because what’s the real issue here? It’s not plastic straws which make up a TINY proportion of Global plastic waste (less than 0.5%) but that’s an easy scapegoat and guess why we all want them banned? Turtles.
But guess why plastic was invented? In part, to save elephants from poachers back in the day we all wanted Ivory everything. Without the invention of plastic we would potentially be further behind in medicine too. It’s helped countless people with life changing accessibility options.
But let’s face it, we need to address our over consumption of EVERYTHING. Including, but not limited to plastics. And within that discussion we also need to address our individual privilege. AND, most importantly, our very unique and individual needs.
Because, in my opinion, there is literally no one thing anyone can tell you is the ‘simplest swap’. Not one. What’s simple to one is a ginormous pain in the ass to another and vice versa.
And, as you may or may not not, I hate being told what to do. I hate rules. Having said that, I hate apathy just as much and as someone with hella privilege here I am, flexing mine.
Doing some research so you don’t have to.
SO, without further ado, here are my best tips for tackling Plastic-Free July (and beyond).
bespoke your PLAN
This is undoubtedly the most important step and one I honestly think we often forget to take (stock of?) Every single one of us is unique, right? So why do we think a list of ‘simple swaps’ that another human, with entirely different circumstances wrote?
I love a list as much as the next person but please only use these as jumping off points. Even better, look at your individual circumstances FIRST and the advice second.
For example, if you are a mum of three under three – nappies might be your biggest source of single use plastic right now. If you are a 21 year old uni student perhaps it’s easy to spend time DIY-ing toiletries but really rough on the budget to start bulk shopping.
And, for all of us, our location will dictate the types of shops we can source stuff from so think about all of these things before you commit yourself to a life of homemade deodorant.
This is my number one tip, and if you ONLY take one thing away from this post make it thus: PREPARE THYSELF WHOLLY.
That means that for whatever you’ve decided to ditch, get your alternative ready and a plan b too. I ALWAYS have a KeepCup and a few cotton bags in my handbag as takeaway coffee and pastries are my pleasure (not guilty, because nothing to be guilty about).
If you eat out a lot and need travel cutlery, buy some pretty bamboo ones if you want but you can also just take your standard cutlery from home with a hankie.
If you drink a lot of water out and about, grab a reusable water bottle/reuse a plastic one (not for too long as this isn’t great for your health – I had a friend who had an allergic reaction once due to the fact he’s reused his water bottle for about two months!)
Tupperware is obvs great, but I find it a little bulky so I just use cotton bags to take sandwiches etc out and about. And, honestly, for me the biggest thing to prep for is my kid – reusable wipes pre moistened, nappies and liners, wet bags and SNACKS are key to a smooth day!
I can’t emphasise this enough. My house is not a beautiful kilner jar filled home devoid of plastic. That’s just not realistic or achievable for me. But do I still get pangs of ‘I WANT THAT’ when I see folks with a beautiful, zero waste aesthetic? Yep. I’m human.
I’m not the sort of person who believes in absolutes. I don’t believe that we should aim for ZERO WASTE or ZERO PLASTIC or ZERO CONSUMPTION because, hello, life is really short and sometimes stuff brings us joy and that’s okay.
I still buy things. I still get a kick out of restocking my favourite ethical beauty bits and finding new low impact products to try. I guess the difference between me now and me a decade ago is that I think about my purchases for AGES before buying them. That might not be you, you might be more a go with your gut type shopper. That’s 100% okay.
What I think is important though is quitting that mindless purchase because you feel life will be better when you have XYZ. Do you know what I mean? Or panic buying five summer dresses from H&M when, realistically, you probably could’ve waited and sourced a more ethical solution (eBay, Vinted, Charity shops and Facebook Marketplace are all great for this if you are on a budget)
There’s so much nuance to this that I don’t want to teach you to suck eggs when it comes to your own shopping habits. Only you know what’s realistic and achievable for you. But I feel like it’s an sorta intrinsic emotion when you are buying unconsciously, as it were.
I dunno. Maybe not.
Anyway, I hope this poor excuse of a guide to ditching plastic this month (and beyond!) helped! Share your plastic free tips in the comments if you fancy.
I sorta hate this title. It feels dangerously close to me declaring myself a ‘mumpreneur’ and telling you how you can make your first 10k month using my patented methods.
I’m not gonna do that. Promise.
I’ve been working ‘around’ my little one, who is now two, for around eighteen months and I’ve learned a few things in that time. I’ve tried a few different options, and have had highs and lows in my own productivity…..and yes, the mum guilt has been ever-present throughout.
For clarity, Anaïs goes to nursery and we’ve never done anything different to that bar the occasional stint of grandparent help. I work from home, and my husband works pretty long hours in an office job, albeit a local one, but that means that like most mothers I pick up the slack if/when Anaïs needs to come home early. If you want to learn about other childcare options I wrote a post about freelance childcare options.
I ALSO decided to film a flipping video for this post! It felt like a good idea at the time, mostly because I’d just setup for my Patreon BTS video too. So there you go, a little unexpected treat!
But back to my productivity tips for those who’d rather skip my face waffling on a poorly-edited video.
1 | Childcare
Super obvious statement alert but, erm, have you thought about childcare? Yes, Lucy, you absolute knobhead I have.
Okay so this one is dependant on your situation but as I said, my situation has gone from zero childcare to some childcare (a day a week of grandparents) right through to a whole month of five days of 8-6 a week (that was expensive and nuts!)
Right now, Anaïs goes to nursery 5 days a week from 8-1pm. She naps from around 2-4 so ostensibly I get a full days work. Most days. Although as I write this she is not napping, but painting because…well, she didn’t wanna nap and that’s okay.
Although I don’t have any friends/family to help with childcare I am very lucky to have this setup. It works really well for us as a family and because I work, we also get tax free childcare which is an added bonus. And, as long as I continue to work, we will get 30 free hours of childcare when Anaïs is three. (COUNTING DOWN THE DAYS…..)
I’ve never used a nanny/au pair or a childminder but we have also used our regular babysitters (one of whom works at Anaïs’ nursery) to plu any gaps as and when we need them: usually this is for random work meetings or trips I need to take. That’s the nature of freelance life!
Unlike my last point, this really is an actual productivity hack. I can’t remember who told me about the Pomodoro method but whoever they are is an absolute angel.
The Pomodoro Technique was created by someone called Francesco Cirillo in the 80s and posits we work best on one thing at a time in bite size chunks.
In theory, it’s working in chunks of 25 minutes with a five-minute break between each chunk. Then, after you’ve done four rounds of Pomodoro chunks you should take a longer break. I take 15 minutes here.
How this works for me is that from 9-12 (I practice yoga/run/have a lie-in when I wake up, shower and start work at 9am….rarely before) I decide on my must-do tasks, then allot them a timeframe: Either one or two ‘PT’s’ aka 25 minute chunks.
This really works for me at the moment because I struggle to do that whole, ‘a day dedicated to this part of my business’ or even batching work. I need to work on things in a really dedicated way knowing I’ll have a break soon.
3 | Prepare
When Anaïs first dropped down to shorter hours I was always getting caught short when it came to getting my bag ready for pickup.
I’d mutter obscenities to myself as I packed a random, unappealing assortment of snacks and often forget my keys/wallet/coat. And I’d leave with a half-finished task, empty belly and stressed mind….which, I’d come straight back to once I got home and Anaïs was down for her nap.
So I now take my daily snack prep seriously. I do it first thing while making my own breakfast and never skip it. Because it just makes life so much easier.
Likewise I prepare my task list ahead of schedule. I use Trello to manage my recurring tasks, adding on new ones as they come in and plot them all out daily too. I know you can get a bit more jazzy with all of this but I keep it simple….I can’t cope with three or four to do lists; I’ve tried and failed multiple times!
4 | Find Your Flow
This has been a massive game changer for me. And before you think I’m going all Jess Lively on you (if you don’t know who that is, please watch this wonderful video where she writes to her intuition. I DIE.)
When I talk about finding your flow I honestly just mean asking yourself when you work best. If that’s convenient, try to only work in that time….or, at least, do your hardest/must-do stuff then.
For me. first thing is when I get my most techy stuff done; I’m talking podcast and video editing, planning, dealing with course stuff or editing photos etc etc etc. Writing comes easier a bit later in the day, so that’s when I sketch out blog posts, podcast scripts, newsletters or Instagram captions.
And, realistically, at approx 5pm I may as well go to sleep. I never work past this time unless I really have to. Mostly because I can’t…..my kid would never let me work while she played independently, which is fine by me!
5 | Do Less Stuff
This is a tricky one and I’m still reminding myself to take on less stuff every damn day. But saying no, keeping a clearer diary and definitely saying no to projects that aren’t going to serve me in whatever season I’m in.
This might mean my social life is a bit dry sometimes and it often means I say no to free stuff offered in exchange for Instagram coverage. Not because I’m against it (especially not with smaller brands) but because it’s gonna cut into my very precious time!
And lastly, lower the damn bar. Especially when you have extra-curricular work stuff like……pregnancy, house moves etc etc etc. You know the drill with adulting!
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Earning Google’s trust is the aim of the game in order to remove your site’s invisibility cloak.
To do this though you will need a good handle on SEO. This is the exact reason why you should learn how to use it properly for your blog or website. Although, at first it may seem like SEO is some kind of weird, witchery hocus pocus, with words like Googlebot Spiders, Black Hats and White Hats… yep actual SEO terms!
Along with all the jargon in SEO, Google like to throw a few algorithm changes around now and again. Which means, what might have worked last year may be detrimental to your site now. These constant changes means that there are lots of theories being bandied around by ‘SEO experts’ which just aren’t true.
Listen to my podcast episode with Simon Heyes all about SEO
Myth 1 | SEO is complicated
This is the myth I wanted to debunk first.
Yes, there are a lot of elements to SEO and you could spend months studying it.
However, you just need to figure out the basics and you’ll still be able to apply it and help improve the traffic to your site.
Myth 2 | Listicles are the only way to rank
I’m calling BS on this!
Google has become wise to the click baity ways of some listicle posts and have moved towards favouring more long form content.
The content must still provide value though, so good engagement from your readers will help your posts outperform listicles that may be full of keywords but do not have any engagement.
Myth 3 | Guest posting is bad for SEO
Guest posting can be bad for SEO…BUT it can also be good, if done correctly and following Google’s ethical guidelines.
The myth has come from a statement from the former Head of the Google Web Spam Team, Matt Cutts who said “guest blogging had become overused by a bunch of low-quality, spammy sites”.
The statement is actually true but you can avoid being penalised by making sure you’re guest posting on high quality, relevant sites with good content. The safest option is to guest post but have ‘no follow’ links and this will still generate referral traffic to your site.
Myth 4 | Alt tags for images don’t matter
This is one that many new bloggers overlook as it isn’t the most obvious part of SEO. It can also be a bit of a faff if you have lots of images on your site.
All images on your blog or website can be optimised for SEO by adding descriptions to them which are known as ‘alt tags’. It’s basically an exact description of the image, including your keywords if appropriate.
This means the Google Spider Bot (yes that pesky spider again!) can find your images as he doesn’t have regular human eyes :).
Visually impaired people using screen readers also benefit from alt tags as they get an exact description of what’s on your page.
Myth 5 | Optimising images isn’t important
This is another faffy part of uploading images to your site but it’s another contributor to ‘good SEO’.
Optimising your images means shrinking your image file size whilst keeping the high quality and resolution. Doing this will sure that your pages load quicker.
There’s nothing worse than finding an article you really want to read and it takes forever to load! Google now focuses on user experience as a key ranking factor.
If people are going back to search listings before your page loads, Google will see that as a negative user experience for your site thus affecting your ranking.
I hope this has been illuminating and, more than anything, I hope this will help you feel a little more clued up on SEO and how darn simple it can be.
If you’d like to learn more and take a big old deep dive into the dark arts, my self-paced course is right here.
Alternative title: things I don’t do and genuinely don’t care about!
Zero waste fails vs. low impact living
I talk a lot about how I believe zero waste isn’t a helpful term, or even achievable. It’s certainly not something I strive for and prefer aiming for low-impact sustainability as much as possible.
Sometimes it isn’t possible. For me, and perhaps for you too. Because the word ‘possible’ is subjective and wholly dependant on your lifestyle, your privilege etc etc and for me, that also includes emotional privilege.
As a pregnant mum with a toddler in tow my version of zero waste looks different to this time last year. And…..although I love all the ‘Gold star for just trying’ type stuff, I don’t really buy it. I call BS on myself because I’m barely trying at the moment.
Instead of beating myself up about it I thought I’d share the things I’ve given up recently. My zero-waste fails, if you will!
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Making my own EVERYTHING
From nut milk to vegan cheese, toddler-friendly treats and vegetable crisps…..just urgh. And that’s just the kitchen. Add in cleaning products, face masks, tile scrubber, nappy rash balm, bubble bath, bath bombs….OH HELL NO.
I should know my limits. I mean, I’ve mentioned before that DIY beauty is not my thing and I prefer to leave it to the professionals and shop mindfully.
Mostly though, the convenience food is a toughy. The whole family is vegan and both my husband and I work full-time so it started feeling kind of ridiculous spending every waking minute unhappy/dealing with a screaming kid who JUST WANTS A FREAKING SNACK or doing the alternative; knackering hours spent making crappy versions of the things I like.
Honestly, I know I can try harder on this one but I’m giving myself a pregnancy pass. For now.
Shopping for everything in bulk
We are very lucky in that there is a small bulk store within walking distance. However not everything they sell is quite what I want…..for example (and please don’t roll your eyes at me here) the chocolate buttons taste like shit.
So instead of buying stuff I hate and then feeling virtuous yet mildly depressed about my cup of tea and unpalatable chocolate I decided to get a grip and chalk that up to experience.
I do still compost…..just not on the scale I was previously. I had a great system of using my Bokashi bin for all compostable kitchen bits and food waste, leaving it to pickle for a couple of weeks then popping it in my big compost bin to work it’s magic.
But guess what? Composting is a humongous pain in the ass when you don’t know what you’re doing. The Bokashi part is the easy bit; getting the right layers of ‘brown’ and ‘green’ waste (which includes shredding cardboard and paper layers) to make the damn compost is the ultimate snoozefest.
We still have our big compost bin which is almost full and brewing beautiful compost as we speak but honestly…..what the fudge will I do with the compost when I’m finished? And how do I know when it’s done please and thank-you?!
I am not a big shopper, but sometimes, only Amazon has the thing you want. Or Etsy. And I buy all my clothes second-hand which, outside of pregnancy, is simple to do in charity shops.
But maternity clothes? I’ve solely relied on eBay and Vinted and that means packages of stuff.
Occasionally I also like to just buy something. Just because. And in those instances I email the seller and ask for no plastic packaging….this usually works a treat and often the seller is excited to come up with new plastic-free packaging solutions.
But it’s never zero-waste.
So there you have it. My zero waste fails. Ps – I am 100% totally okay with them right now too.