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.
I’ve been creating and producing a weekly podcast for two years now, and while in that time I’ve had production and editing support I have largely done it all myself.
Which isn’t a brag. It’s a comforting bit of information because if I can do it…..ANYONE can. Fact.
I’ve also been running courses, workshops and consulting for others who want to start a podcast/make their podcasts better.
So I know a thing or two about it and that baffles me. Because….well, I’m a moron, mostly. Especially when it comes to scary new stuff.
Yeah, I’m logical and geeky and I like the technical side of things (hello SEO!) but I absolutely detest the idea of creating video content, I hate the idea of using Photoshop to do crazy edits and I’d happily outsource everything bar writing and taking pictures.
But podcast editing costs money and even when/if you start monetising your show it’s a necessary evil for most of us.
I get asked about editing a lot. I think it’s definitely the thing most people worry about and it’s why I didn’t launch my own podcast for almost a year after coming up with the idea.
In this post I want to dispel a few rumours about recording and editing, and show you how to do it, Lucy-style (aka with minimal effort!
Content matters more than audio
A note on why I like to keep the editing simple; to sustain a podcast it needs to be sustainable and that includes your budget, time and effort. Editing can take up all three of these elements and it’s a big part of why many of us consider giving up on our podcast before we even begin.
Audio is SO important, but guess what? Content is more important. If your content is shit, if you’re parroting lines you’ve heard on another podcast or imitating someone else’s style then it doesn’t matter how slick and jazzy your audio is. Truly.
I see this time and time again, when other podcasts in my niche are nominated for awards or pop up in my ether with slick artwork and, to be totally honest, not much substance.
The bar has been set high in podcasting, so similarly to blogging, expect to see slick-as-fook blogs appearing to be successful (often winning those same homogenous awards). Try to ignore these and stay in your lane.
I also see this the opposite in crappy, early episodes of some of the BEST podcasts out there; the ones that have stayed the course, stayed interesting and who’s hosts I respect.
All that’s to say is that CONTENT MATTERS. And there’s time to improve on your audio.
Editing your podcast
In this post I’ll cover:
Non-essential gear (nice-to-haves)
My simple editing tips
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1. Essential equipment
The equipment is pretty exciting and I see so many people buying expensive stuff before they’ve even started. Which really isn’t necessary, although it is quite fun!
I started with my iPhone headphones and my laptop and Sara Tasker told me she started with the same setup!
iPhone headphones are particularly good as they cover both the headphones and microphone aspect and are cheap, In fact, you’ve probably already got some knocking about.
But when you want to move to the next level I suggest the following….
Depending on your
I’ve used all of the below, or been recommended them by fellow podcasters. They vary in price and quality so bear in mind your own personal circumstances (budget, recording environment, podcast type) when you choose what’s best for you.
Blue Yeti: I love mine! GREAT quality, and comes with it’s own stand (although I use a boom stand and pop filter)
Blue Snowball: This is great value, easy to use, light and great for travel. You can get better for the same price though….
Rode Smartlav: I have two (plus splitter) and use for in-person recording into my smartphone.
Audio Technica ATR2100: Like a karaoke mic, this is GREAT value and great quality too. You need a boom stand for it though.
If you record interviews like I do, via Skype, then you absolutely cannot skimp on using headphones OR let your guest get away without using them.
But, as above, you could simply use the headphones that came with your smartphone (iPhone are best I think). (Note that smartphone headphones have an inbuilt microphone though so bear this in mind this when recording)
I was lucky and in my second season I had a sponsor (Sudio Sweden) who made headphones so…..yep, I got a pretty decent pair! I haven’t used any others but have popped a selection for you below.
This can feel more complex than it needs to be, especially as the bulk of information out there appears to be written by white men who love overcomplicating podcasting.
Essentially all you need is something to plug your mic and headphones into……so, your phone, iPad, laptop, dictaphone or digital recorder.
What you use depends on how you need to record, too. For in-person interviews you probably don’t want to use your laptop, so something portable (your phone!) is perfect.
And if your microphone only has an audio jack, not usb, then you need to take that into account and get a converter or use a different piece of equipment to record.
I use my laptop and record using a few different methods. See below…..
Like everything I’ve talked about already, where and how you record your podcast will entirely depend on what you need to achieve.
If you are recording solo episodes then a simple mic and headphones into your laptop or phone will suffice.
But when you need to record an interview with someone long-distance you have a few other considerations.
It’s mostly a case of picking Skype, Zoom or Zencastr. I’ve used all three and would recommend choosing Skype with an additional piece of software called eCamm call recorder, which sits with Skype and records both sides of the call. You can record within Skype, but the recording you export will only be a one-track mP3: not good enough quality for editing.
Whatever the scenario, ensuring your environment is quiet and fairly sound-proof is better than editing it to buggery afterwards.
Soft-furnishings help (think bedrooms!) and you can drape a blanket over your head while recording too.
I use a boom stand to make sure the mic is perfectly positioned to hear me and I also have a pop filter to block out extra noise/control my plosives (those ‘P’ and ‘S’ sounds we all make!)
3. Non-essential gear (nice-to-haves)
I use a boom stand to make sure the mic is perfectly positioned to hear me and I also have a pop filter to block out extra noise/control my plosives (those ‘P’ and ‘S’ sounds we all make!)
You could also get a shock mount which stops the sound of any knocks and bumps affecting your mic. I don’t have one but might get one as my mic is pretty heavy so has a wee tendency to wobble.
One of the cheapest things you can buy is a pop filter. You can even make one out of old tights but…..I just bought mine for £5 instead because CBA with crafting. A pop filter helps to block out any extra sound and adds a bit of polish to your sound.
Lastly, you could buy a digital recorder even if you don’t technically need one because jazzy. I don’t recommend it buying one for the sake of it, but I also don’t believe in listening to other people’s rules so….do whatever the fook you want!
4. My simple editing tips
You might’ve gathered by now but I really like to keep thing’s BS-free and SIMPLE. Especially when it’s something men have consistently told me is hard, or needs to be done in a certain way.
Not today, patriarchy, not today.
When it comes to editing I follow The Podcast Hosts MEE process (minimal effort editing) which I’ve built on over the years to come up with my own, unique formula.
My golden rules are:
Get the recording environment right
Prepare or leave the waffle in
Add minimal effects
What this looks like in practice is……
Record the podcast using good equipment in a good environment.
If I make mistakes, I leave a pause and then click/clap three times so I can see it straight away when editing.
Upload to Audacity and chop the beginning/end/any ‘click/clap’ sections off.
And that’s it. Genuinely!
There are some specific settings I then use when it comes to exporting my MP3 (I edit in WAV) and subsequently uploading my file to Libsyn, my podcast host, but ostensibly this is the bulk of the work done.
Does that sound simple or have I lulled myself into a state of tech-blindness whereby I’ve slightly lost it?!
Psssst if you want to start a podcast but need some help getting it from seed to launch, I can help.
I offer group courses or 1:1 consulting and aim to work on a sliding scale to ensure affordability. Email me for more details.
A few weeks ago I wrote a post about how I grew my blog. I thought it was all super simple stuff and felt a little silly even recommending stuff I thought everyone knew about already (hello imposter syndrome!) but I was SO wrong. It really seemed to resonate with people and I was overwhelmed with the positive response to it.
Needless to say, I’ve gained a few coaching clients since then and the number one thing people are keen to work on is this: PINTEREST.
Goodness, it’s one of those how I make money blogging posts…..
I never expected to write this because, quite frankly, I never expected to make a decent income when I started this blog.
So when I did, I really didn’t expect to be one of those bloggers who writes about how they made 6 figures by blogging, or scored so many free products they were crushed under the weight of them. (Okay, that last line might be made up. I’ve never read that.)
Money, Money, Money, Money
But recently, I shared I might write this on my Instagram and I had an overwhelming amount of DMs saying, “YES PLEASE WRITE THIS”, which shouldn’t surprise me because really, how often do any of us talk about money? In particular, how and how much money we make.
I’m not a huge proponent of everyone writing income reports and demanding 100% transparency 100% of the time, each to their own. But on the flipside I do think those of us who throw shade at the lack of lucidity in the industry have an obligation to put our money where our mouths are (fitting amiright?!) and share what we are asking others to.
First off, I won’t be publishing jazzy pie charts or monthly reports of how my income has flexed up or down. I won’t be sharing my outgoings or talking you through my secret pastry addiction. I will be sharing the breakdown of everything I earn right now, how I do it and my rough rates for each.
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A bit of background first.
When I first started the blog I was travelling and did the most random things to make ends meet; mostly social media management (which I’m crap at) and VERY poorly paid freelance writing gigs; mostly for other people’s blogs.
That changed when I came home to London where my living wage was significantly higher. I temped in offices doing admin work, then worked in-house for Lonely Planet Traveller Magazine.
I was still travelling a lot, so picked up work with a big travel blog doing the founders social media management, managing their Instagram as well as the agency he also managed. That was crappy money, and as I wasn’t the favourite I never got the trips he’d promised would be given on a ‘first-come, first-served’ basis when I took the role, BUT it was great for networking and I was fairly quickly approached for a role with a HUGE travel blogger in NEW YORK. The role was actually remote but the first week involved training with his team in New York and I was seriously pinching myself when I was shortlisted.
HOWEVER. Said potential boss told current boss I’d applied so current boss sacked me. It was hella awks.
Luckily, I was in the right place at the right time and started working with Traverse doing anything and everything for their digital agency. Not only was the THE MOST FUN EVER I also got my teeth stuck into proper freelance life, networking, hustling (ick) and generally learning lots.
Freelance writing was always my first love though, so again, I lucked out and landed my second ever staff writer role for the Express. Total baptism by fire going from full-time freelancer to full-time tabloid journalist but it taught me everything I know. I left when I was five months pregnant with Anaïs which brings us to where we are now…..
So, deep breath, here’s everything I earn, how I do it and how I make money blogging.
Journalism has long been my bread and butter. And in the year after I left the Express I was making a decent monthly income PURELY from cold pitching newspapers and magazines.
It’s only recently I’ve understood how rare it is for freelancers to make 100% of their income from writing the sexy stuff. Honestly. Most of my journo colleagues earn a chunk here, a chunk there usually making money through things like PR consulting, writing for trade mags, copywriting….all sorts.
In truth, I was incredibly lucky.
Now, freelance writing makes up a far smaller chunk and that’s on purpose. I no longer crave those bylines, I crave ease and a decent income.
Although I have to add a disclaimer here; I’ve read a fair few times from bloggers that freelance writing isn’t where the big bucks are. That’s true when you are a blogger writing occasionally, as opposed to building relationships with editors and writing professionally.
This is such a small part of my income but it has been bigger in the past.
I use three main affiliate networks; Amazon, Skimlinks and Affilinet. In truth, I haven’t focused very hard on this for a few years but I probably make about £25-40 a month across the board.
And I utilise a few referral programs for things I use and love which gives me money off stuff, as opposed to cold, hard cash.
However, I recently closed my zero waste shop page because so much of the stuff was from unethical companies (read: Amazon) and tbh I don’t wanna be *that* influencer. So I expect this income stream to drop while I work on new, ethical affiliate streams!
In the past I’ve done lots of brand collaborations now this makes up a very small part of my job, mostly because I have a small audience.
Previously I’ve made around £150-200 per Instagram/blog post but I recently signed up for Whalar where I earn……well, sweet FA.
Overall, I don’t love working with brands……it’s really hard to find a good match and those who are often have very small budgets so, going forward this will probably remain as small a part of my income as it is now.
This is where I was able to take control of my income, and the feast to famine cycle was a little less raw. Having said that, there was still a month where I made 5k and a month where I made £200 so……such is life I guess?
I started with a very simple self-paced course hosted on Teachable and ended last year with two more, more intensive courses, taught live by me.
However I wanted scalability and less 1:1 time because…..time is precious! Especially with another on the way. So I digged into price points, teaching platforms and now have a programme of courses I’ll release throughout the year that’ll, hopefully, be less time-intensive, more affordable for students and provide a source of reliable income.
Without realising it I’ve always consulted for others. A while back, for bloggers wanting to strategise and now for business owners needing digital marketing guidance.
I thought I wanted this to be a big part of my business but I don’t, so I do this on a word of mouth basis and don’t advertise my services. I’ve done corporate podcast training, right through to SEO strategy and it’s one of the most fun parts of my job.
But I typically make £250 – £500 per consulting client depending on whether the work is a 1/2 or full day.
This is a very new income stream for me and I put it in place to fund the podcast. Last season two sponsors funded the entire season, bringing in £1,750 in total.
This season my outgoings are exactly the same but this season I wanted to find a way to fund the podcast without them so my Patreon is 100% for that.
In theory. Because I only have 8 so this doesn’t bring in a whole heap right now……but, it’s better than nowt and I’m endlessly grateful for it 🙂
Recently an article calling out a bunch of influencers using bots went viral. I didn’t read the piece which was taken down fairly swiftly, so missed the juicy deets of the people named and shamed but it doesn’t really matter.
I hate articles like that authored by the anonymous, immediately dampening my trust.
The other reason I didn’t really care about the piece was because…..well, it’s nothing new.
I wasn’t even remotely surprised so many influencers were called out for allegedly using bots (note, allegedly, as I didn’t read the piece and couldn’t comment on its accuracy).
This isn’t a new thing. And it started even before Instagram became everyone’s preferred social media platform. You know why people do it?
Because the whole industry is built on smoke and mirrors. It’s built on opaque media kits and silence.
I’m specifically talking about travel blogging because that’s what I know, or knew. It’s where I built my career and where I fell out of love with blogging for a bit too.
The trouble with travel blogging is that everyone lies.
And because everyone lies, nobody seems to have a solid grip on what their numbers ‘should’ be. And that silence and lack of transparency leads to confusion among new bloggers, mistrust in the ‘OG’ crowd and hella blurriness when it comes to knowing who is successful.
I wrote about how I lost my head and used a bot for a week a while back, so I’m not judging those who do. Well, not much 😉 The reason people use bots in is symptomatic of a diseased industry run by a homogenous group of men who seemingly all started their blogs in 2009. And the occasional woman who, arguably, churns out far better quality content than her male counterpart.
I’d like to name names, but that would be gross and pointless. If someone is asked to go on a press trip despite their crappy writing, mediocre photography and manipulated stats it’s not really their fault. It’s the fault of the industry.
It’s the fault of the PR agency who assigned blogger outreach to the clueless intern or outsourced it to a blogger agency professing to know all the best names (but who actually pick from a pool of their drinking buddies and girls they fancy).
The funny thing, I think, is that every year I went to World Travel Market or a blogging conference I heard people saying the same thing; “It’s about quality, numbers are only important if they’re real…..” but honestly? I call BS.
Vicky Flip Flop talked about the fact she was nearly overlooked for a press trip because her Instagram wasn’t big enough. Which, frankly, is utterly ridiculous if what you want is a quality travel writer to create reliably good content for you.
Of course, not every press trip or brand collaboration has the same goals. If your goal is to increase brand awareness and reach your audience who you know use Instagram, then of course, you need someone with a solid presence and great engagement.
But realistically? What most PRs want is to keep their clients happy. Clients who perhaps don’t understand the inner workings of Instagram and Facebook or truly understand why digital is even better than print coverage….some mightn’t even be on board with the idea of bloggers.
So why would they want the added hassle of having to explain why this person, who has a VERY engaged following and write high-quality content but yes, they are under the brands demands of a 50 DA…..
I get it.
But because of this toxic environment the industry is like a boys club. With a few cliques thrown in for good measure.
Those starting out feel they SHOULD do this, that and the other to succeed and start out with a very blurred view of what they need to aim for. I’ve talked at length about in the past and, despite the fact I KNOW my version of success isn’t to be a full time travel blogger anymore it still rancours when I look back and realise I could’ve been schmoozing and lying my way onto press trips for years instead of doggedly trying to increase my traffic to the magic number that never was….
So, the trouble with travel blogging, the trouble with it all is that it’s all smoke, mirrors and thinly veiled bullshit.