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How to manage your finances as a freelancer

How to manage your finances as a freelancer

It’s tax return time for sole traders here in the UK and that means one of a few things; you’ve filed it and have to dig into your savings to find the money to pay, you haven’t done it and are panicking about where your expenses are or you’ve done it and feel smug, like moi.

In fact, I did it last October and that was late for me. *Realises anyone reading is now pelting rotten bananas at their screen*

I’ve been freelance for about five years now and I’ve only just realised how bloody good I am at managing my finances. Also, isn’t it great to start a post with an obnoxious brag? No? Woops.

I’m naturally very analytical and have always been pretty good with numbers, something I fought against for a long time because it meant I wasn’t creative – at least, that’s what my parents and school told me. You might relate to this, or perhaps you are in the camp of hating numbers or even being scared of them.

I’m lucky in that I’m not, I know that. Because even I found the most difficult element of switching from traditional employment to self-employment was the money bit.

I found it scary, confusing and overwhelming. I’ve been through three accountants because they are typically men who deal best with other corporate men, or women who earn a lot more than I ever have as a freelancer. And in more traditional forms of freelancing too. I’ve been patronised, ignored and laughed at but guess what? Those fools didn’t realise who they were dealing with, namely someone who used to manage millions of pounds for big name retailers, answering to stuffy, cross men in suits daily.

So, yeah. They all got TOLD is what I’m saying. I found a great accountant who has helped me plug the gaps in my knowledge and empowered me to manage my finances in a way HMRC won’t shout at me about.

So in this post I want to share my process with you, from tracking my income and pulling monthly profit and loss reports right through to what business accounts I use and recommend and finally, how I file my tax return too.

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Managing your finances as self employed freelancer TAX RETURN

Freelance Finances: My Process

I am a touch old school in that I have an excel spreadsheet, where I manually track my expenses, income (both projected and actualised) as well as an monthly profit and loss summary. This helps me plan for the year ahead and make tweaks ahead of time, avoiding the panic of overspending.

I also use an amazing accounts software system my accountant recommended where I create, send and track invoices, project proposals nd I can also file my tax return straight from it.

This might sound a bit unnecessary but the reason for having both systems is twofold: It means I don’t miss anything and therefore know I’m compliant, and I’m actually able to save money as an accountant doing my tax return is three times the price of my subscription.

Here’s what I do:

Daily  

  • Add any incomings or expenses to my spreadsheet and ‘explain’ transactions in Free Agent.

Weekly

  • Check exchange rate and update formula based on fluctuations.
  • Chase late invoices, create new ones etc.

Monthly 

  • Review profit and loss and make necessary adjustments to future months.
  • Based on the above I might decide to cancelling unnecessary direct debits or invest in training.

Quarterly 

  • Proof previous quarters numbers against automated system
  • Plan next quarter: Do I need to increase my prices, drop a client or find more?

Annually

  • FILE MY TAX RETURN! (Ideally in June, but no later than October)
  • Pay Tax and NI contribution.

My favourite tools

Tiny Scanner

For changing receipts into PDF on my phone.

Excel/Google Sheets

I used to only use Excel but the cost of Microsoft Office wasn’t worth it so now I simply use Google docs and sheets.

Free Agent (affil)

Things like Honeybooks and Freshbooks are both much sexier, however I hated that neither were setup for UK accounts.

You can sync your bank account with Free Agent (affil) // (although not my Starling business account yet) and it’s a super sophisticated yet intuitive piece of software.A

Further Resources

This Guardian article is really helpful as is this blog post by Easy as VAT (which is, incidentally, an EXCELLENT resource for anyone self-employed.)

HMRC guidelines and videos are a bit snore but useful for the nuances of tax.

My biggest business mistakes

My biggest business mistakes

This post was originally sent to my newsletter subscribers, who I send Sunday letters to twice a month. 

I trust November’s treating you well and you’ve found some time to chill out with a pumpkin or two. I’ve had a delightful weekend exploring Brighton and eating good food with friends so today, I write to you from a place of calm and peace.

Although, of course, it’s me so I’m also writing this letter to you from a place of cringe-worthy honesty and lols. At my expense,naturally.

I also always want to offer value (Which feels like a buzzword recently: “Are you offering value? HOW?!” Well, sometimes the value is in the creating….not in how the reader feels about it, mmmmkay?)

Anyway, I definitely feel like it’s the right time to share some of my worst business mistakes. I don’t know why now’s the time, but it just feels like it is. Perhaps because I feel at peace with my business, my why and my purpose…for now, anyway.

Doubting myself

I know Sas Petherick (https://saspetherick.com/) would agree with me on this but seriously – self-doubt is a BITCH, amiright?

I’m a real people pleaser, and that sometimes leads to hearing what others are saying, suggesting and doing and feeling as though I should do the same.

I know I appear confident, but guess what? I’m not. Like most people I dwell on the criticism and brush off the compliments.

Buying into hype

Probably to do with the above, I bought into lots of hype — about courses, and blueprints. Even about blogging platforms and video content.

More often than not, buying into the hype means drowning out your own intuition. Which is fatal for me.

I know that as soon as I stop listening to my gut and to the people who matter I start to make decisions out of fear, out of scarcity.

And ultimately, I’ve spent thousands over the years on listening to slick marketers tell me they can fix XYZ.

Comparison IS THE THIEF OF JOY.

I just don’t know what else to say about this, except that if you are in a comparison hole – STOP. Because you’ll never get that time, energy or money back from the hours spent scrolling Instagram, pounds spent on products you’ve swiped up or happy moments ruined by thoughts they weren’t ‘good enough’.

NOT outsourcing

This has been one of the best lessons I’ve learned but I still feel icky about it at times.

Spending money when you technically don’t need to is tough but I now outsource as much as I can because it pays off time and time again.

Sometimes it’s not the best, and yep – I could have done the job as well as, if not better, than the person I pay BUT that’s rare.

My time is SO important to me. So I now outsource childcare, I have the MOST amazing virtual assistant in Sarah Starrs who does things quicker, and more efficiently than I ever could and I’ve even outsourced my podcast editing too.

I make plenty of small tweaks in order to do this though. I don’t buy a coffee every day (small violin plays gently) because that £80 goes into paying for the copywriting I might want to outsource. I sold my podcast microphone to pay for a new WordPress theme for my website.

This probably all sounds a little trite, but it’s simply to say I prioritise time and energy above stuff.

For me, outsourcing is a necessary business expense.

Not using contracts

I’ve been lucky in that I haven’t had anyone not pay me, but I’ve certainly spent far more time than necessary chasing payments, clearing up miscommunications or clarifying my terms.

That’s MY fault.

Now (and when I say now, I mean literally two days ago!) I have a contract, and terms of service I expect everyone to sign before work starts.

Sidenote: I also use an amazing bit of accounting software called Free Agent where I create estimates, invoices and save all contracts.

I hope this helps if you, too are having a bit of a business wobble and think nobody makes mistakes.

We do.

We just don’t talk about it much and, moreover, we bloody learn from it and come back stronger.

L x

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I share some of my biggest business mistakes made in 5 years of blogging, so you don't do the same thing! Read more business and blogging tips at lucylucraft.com #bloggingtips #onlinebusiness
Why are we so willing to criticise each other?

Why are we so willing to criticise each other?

This post came about because, you guessed it, someone criticised my work. Again. And this time, it REALLY hurt my feelings. Something snapped.

I’m writing this a bit after the fact because I was WAY too emotional and hot-headed to do so in the moment…...praise be for restraint.

I’m not even remotely going to go into details because I think that would be a bit unkind and bordering on gossipy. Not that I’m averse to a cheeky bit of gossip you understand, but….ya know, enlightenment is calling.

But to be fair, I guess the title is a little misleading as I use the word ‘we’ to feel more inclusive. Less defensive. You got me though, I’m asking YOU the question.

Why do you feel okay criticising my work?

Not a trick question, I’m genuinely interested. Because personally, I don’t feel super comfortable criticising others content creation. I don’t proffer critique and back-handed compliments to fellow influencers and I certainly don’t leave negative reviews to fellow one-girl-bandits creating for free, for my pleasure.

Of course, that’s because I do it too and have been on the receiving end of one too many off-handed, helpful comments and know first-hand how unbelievably frustrating it feels.

Lucy Lucraft working pictures Brighton beach -1

Are we all fair game?

I’ve noticed a bit of a theme in content creation and those who have opinions about it (myself included.) And it seems to be a lot more okay to tell a podcaster the content they’ve created is……crap.

More often than not, I’m surrounded by a whole heap of incredibly positive and kind people who tell me nice things, which I am SO bloody grateful for. My podcast has brought me incredible opportunities and a whole load of joy. In truth, I never thought anyone would listen – I thought it would be a long hard slog to get any kind of momentum but in week three, iTunes noticed me and put me on their home page.

That was bonkers. And lovely…….and a little scary too.

So overall I’m profoundly happy that each week people join my Facebook group and leave me lovely reviews, include me in podcast roundups and DM me to tell me they liked an episode. But even so, I still smart at those occasional stings. For a few reasons, both human (we all like to be liked) and business (it never looks good to be told in public my work is crap.)

Why aren’t we allowed to be less than perfect? Why are we pitted against professionals in podcasting? Expected to be better than in any other content medium.

It’s so ungracious. Chatting to my wonderful (and anonymous) friend she pointed out the same criticism, namely that my older episodes aren’t as good, wouldn’t swing in any other form of content creation.

Of course, it wouldn’t happen. Imagine someone commenting on a blog post that you’re spelling was a shocker back in the day, or sharing an early Instagram post on stories with the caption: ‘dodgy picture alert!’…

I create the podcast for free for the listeners. It takes time, money and effort on my part and that makes it extra shit when I’m told it isn’t good enough. That I’m not good enough I guess.

When I realised this (okay, when anon realised this for me!) I got REALLY angry. And then I calmed down and realised it’s not okay to be that mean…..I will never do it. But it’s also not remotely my business what other people think about my blog, Instagram or podcast. It’s not my business at all.

So that’s where I’m at right now. Trying to unhook from anything that doesn’t serve me. While silently swearing at my laptop…..I’m a work in progress okay?

L x

What Do You Want to be Known For?

What Do You Want to be Known For?

This post was originally one of the letters I send to my newsletter every other Sunday. But it had such a nice response I thought I’d share it on my blog too. If you want to sign up to receive them, head over to Mailchimp to subscribe in accordance with GDPR laws.

Have you ever heard someones ask you to use the following statement to help you hone in on your niche:

What do you want to be known for? 

I hear this all the time, and to be honest, it used to really bug me.

I DON’T KNOW WHAT I WANNA BE KNOWN FOR OKAY!

Being nice, and good at my job? Being a good writer? Not being shit?

But this year I finally got it. I want to be known for being honest, and not following the crowd.

So I’m gonna flip it over to you. What do you want to be known for?

Hear me out.

You’re a blogger who writes about lifestyle, and you have just started dabbling in IGTV as OMG YouTube is TOO MUCH. But everyone’s doing that aren’t they?

Yeah, they are. That doesn’t mean you can’t do it too if that’s your passion. But is that your passion?

In my SEO course, and with coaching clients I often talk about WHY. Like an annoying toddler, I’ll keep asking why. Sometimes that’s to crickets and that’s okay too.

It’s a thinker!

girl working in a hut in pai, thailand

The amazing Lola Hoad often talks about ‘finding your why’ as the most important tool within your business and I’m inclined to agree. It’s the thing that pushes you on when you feel demotivated and how you distinguish yourself from the crowd too.

So how are YOU going to define your why? Simple. It’s how you want to be known. What you wanna be known for, or as.

If you’re a maker with a passion for blogging about small business perhaps your why is to help people just like you.  And what you wanna be known for is for sharing your business tips and tricks in a fun and informative way.

Or maybe you have a lifestyle blog and love to write about style from the perspective of a thirty-something mama. Your ‘why’ is probably to show the world a body that you can’t see online right now. And you want to be known for pushing fashion boundaries and not dressing like a typical mum (yep, might have been thinking of Zoe de Pass for this one…..)

My why is to help bloggers who feel like I did when I started out. Confused, unworthy and totally disheartened. I want to be known as someone who shares advice honestly, and with 100% authenticity (I know, I know….that word!)

So every piece of content I create, from my blog, Instagram posts to my podcast episodes reflect this. Even when I’m a guest on other people’s podcasts.

My challenge to you today is this. What’s your why? And what do you want to be known for?

L x

woman self portrait with text overlay

P.S. I’m there is only ONE SPOT LEFT in my How to Start a Podcast Course. It’s gonna be so much fun, because the course won’t be my usual online module setup…..it’s over two GROUP CALLS with email support too.

Both calls are in August (1st and 7/8th) and if they don’t suit you have the option to schedule in a 1:1 call with me instead. The idea is that I’ll take you through the process from start to finish and we can focus TOTALLY on your idea (everyone will get a chance to talk in the group!)

Be sure to click the button below so you don’t miss out!

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Squarespace or WordPress: Which Should you Use for your Blog?

Squarespace or WordPress: Which Should you Use for your Blog?

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Long mage with title text over image of computer

Many of you will know my long and tortured history with Squarespace because of angry Tweets and rambling Instagram stories. I have been planning this post for AAAAAAGEEEES. Planning it, promising it and definitely not delivering it. Sorry.

I guess the reason for this mega procrastination is the fact I just can’t seem to gather my thoughts on whether Squarespace is better than WordPress, or vice versa. I don’t know which platform is better for blogging, and as one of the relative few in my niche who has used both I feel a weight of responsibility.

But enough time has passed and I’m finally ready to share my thoughts on blogging platforms and give you the pros and cons.

Squarespace or WordPress? 

I get asked the question a lot, and I find it tricky to answer without layering on a load of bias. I also feel a bit defensive as I know people are aware of the difficulties I had when joining Squarespace and I think sometimes that means my overall opinion might be dismissed as being an anomaly.

So I wanted to make this post as factual as possible. I want to share with you what I honestly think of both platforms, not as an expert (because I’m not!) but as a blogger.

Let’s start with my background and experience with both WordPress and Squarespace.  I started my blog on WordPress back in 2014 ish because that was the only platform I knew. I started on the free, hosted WordPress.com before moving to a self-hosted WordPress.org site.

To be totally honest, I did this against the recommendation of my more techy friends who all seem to hate WordPress! And I can understand why. The downsides are easy to see straight away, and there’s a steep learning curve — one riddled with obstacles and room to fudge up.

But learn I did, and although I always hated a few aspects of my blog, on the whole I felt comfortable with WordPress.

Until I became obsessed with the idea of moving to Squarespace late last year. Why? Blame podcast advertising, boredom and a desire to be a little bit different. Hardly any of my blogging friends used it so I kinda liked the idea of being a bit different.

And I was hugely swayed by the pros to using Squarespace – the fact the platform boasts award-winning customer service, superior design and is unlikely to be infiltrated by the Russians swung it for me.

The migration was NOT remotely successful. In fact, it was a monumental fuck-up. One that was never fixed.

 

But I got over it and moved on. Until I discovered more errors. New errors. Finally, enough was enough and a couple of days ago I decided to move back to WordPress.

I’ve never felt as relieved! This has been a costly, time-consuming and VERY stressful six months. But guess what? I gots me some EPIC blog fodder so here goes; my (balanced) opinion on Squarespace vs. WordPress.

SQUARESPACE

Pros

It looks beautiful | You don’t need to be remotely techy to make your website look dreamy, and it comes with some awesome design features such as Google Fonts as standard and the ability to tweak just about everything on your site while previewing the effects.

It’s intuitive | If you are brand new to blogging, it’s a simple platform that has everything in the place you’d expect it. Want to write a post? Hit ‘text block.’ Need to add a jazzy looking image gallery? Simple. The fact you can see how your blog post will look as you compile it is great, and I love the drag and drop style functionality.

It’s secure | Because SS is closed-source (meaning you cannot access the platform backend) it’s pretty near impossible for someone to hack into your back-end (guffaws) and mess things up.  WordPress is notoriously buggy and prone to hacks (I’ve even had a few attempts) due in no small part to the millions of developers making plugins who have access to the platforms inner workings.

It’s modern | It’s great for today’s blogger who might also have a podcast (you can host your podcast through Squarespace) as well as a YouTube channel (you can really easily embed video and audio blocks into your posts.)

Great customer service  | Okay, this is a pro and a con because the customer service can be excellent. It can also be shite. It depends who you get, so I can’t honestly give this as a reason to use SS over WP. But the cs advisors are all human, and they always get back to you….however useless their response may be.

And now for the cons. Settle in 😉

Cons

It’s clunky | Yes, the drag and drop is great but holy crap have I cursed Jesus a few times trying to slot my image just so. It can be overly sensitive and really irritating to move things around and you can really mess up your post too. Images have dropped off the page, text blocks have disappeared through me moving things around as the platform has been designed to do.

Lack of basic blogging utilities | What world do we live in where there’s NO AUTOSAVE?! I was warned about this by the lovely Helen and Sarirah so I didn’t lose any work (this way at least) but it hasn’t stopped me thinking it’s a HUGE con. Especially as there’s no warning anywhere. So I wrote all of my blog posts in an external editor first, a pointless extra step in my opinion.

Also, can I get a ‘Hell’s NO’ to the fact you can’t easily add a nofollow link? I spent AGES trying to work this one out before using the Markdown block instead of the text block. Whereas in WordPress you can seamlessly switch between the visual and text editor within the same blog post.

You can add internal links to categories and tags but to link to a single blog post is a faff. You have to find it manually and add it in.

In terms of SEO, which SS claims to have at the forefront of the platform I’ve struggled with endless AMP errors and incorrect image tags even on things only uploaded within Squarespace. I’ve reported them endlessly but to no avail, simply being told it’s an issue ‘with many moving parts’ and one that ‘may never be fixed’.

You can’t easily edit alt-tags. In my theme, I have to add them as a caption which is super irritating although not the worst thing I guess. But for Pinterest (where the Pin description is pulled from your alt-text) AND from an accessibility point of view, I think this is a con.

Yes the customer service is award-winning, but it should be because you’ll need them to do almost everything. Squarespace can be buggy and it isn’t always intuitive. I’ve found the endless tutorials to be filled with holes I uncovered after discovering a fault, or basically f@*cking something up and having to go to cs to fix it anyway.

You are not in charge of your backups They are performed by Squarespace (when? how many times a month? I dunno) and you have no control over whether it’s done properly. If you ever want to leave SS you can obviously export your data but there’s no way of knowing how up-to-date it is. That’s an issue for me. I think the lack of ‘caching’ is why there’s no autosave too….unbearable.

When it comes to exporting your data, not everything is involved.  This is not stated obviously anywhere (if at all!) and I had to push for a definitive answer from customer service who confirmed that audio and video blocks wouldn’t be included in your export. So…..if you have a podcast, and choose to host it on Squarespace? yEP. F*&ked.

Okay, let’s talk IMAGES. I mean….pretty important to a blogger right? Squarespace doesn’t host your photos like WordPress. So if you move your site from WordPress you will undoubtedly end up with image issues.  They don’t tell you this before you move…..

WORDPRESS

Pros

A huge majority of websites are powered by WordPress so there’s loads of free support out there if you need it. I find that to be a huge pro, but it’s not necessarily a downside that SS has less experts…..I guess for me, it helps that bugs are easily identified and a work-around by some geeky developer is normally found swiftly!

SEO is far superior using WordPress (although SS uses SEO as a selling point for their platform) and you can tweak and manipulate things much easier. I love having the power to tweak things quickly and utilise the power of the Yoast plugin too!

Yes, it’s harder to create a beautiful looking website BUT I love the fact there are so many people making gorgeous (affordable) themes. And you can tweak ANYTHING to make it your own.

Final point on customer service? I’ve never had to use WordPress’ customer service due to the fact there is far more info out there on how to combat issues and it’s a better product.

It’s REALLY hard to lose a blog post. Because WordPress autosaves your work, you can also see the revisions and go back to an earlier version if you want. I love that functionality! I also adore being able to write my posts in HTML if I want, and then edit in the ‘visual editor.’ You can be as technical or basic as you want 🙂

It looks as though there aren’t as many pros, but basically….all the cons of Squarespace have a WordPress pro partner.

Cons

Hmmmm, well — It can be buggy, as it’s open-source which means that any plug-in you use could infect your website with a virus at any stage. That also means it’s easier to hack into your website.

Although this is unlikely.

But unlikely isn’t never so you have to take a little bit of extra care to protect your data. A few simple (free) plugins can secure your site and I used to pay £20 a year for an amazing service that stopped spam comments, hacks and monitored my website.

The learning curve is a lot steeper. WordPress isn’t as intuitive at first but after a month you’ll know it like the back of your hand.

Overall I would really, really recommend using WordPress.  And I would 100% not recommend migrating from WordPress to Squarespace! But I can totally understand the draw to the sexy, design-led dream that is Squarespace and if you are a shop? Yep…..I’d probably choose it over WordPress too.

Anyhoo, I really hope that was both balanced and helpful!

L x

Helpful resources

WP Beginner post on the two platforms

Squarespace vs. WordPress postPin

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The Best Things I Did for my Blog This Year

Goodness, I feel like I haven’t written a blogging advice post for ages. I think that’s potentially because I haven’t.

And that’s simply because I’ve been knee deep in writing my new course, and wrapping the second season of my podcast which finished last week. But my blog? Yep, that’s been left to gather dust. Despite the fact it is the start of my story and the root of everything I’ve achieved work-wise.

I’m inclined to blame the patriarchy for this……;)

That segues nicely into the fact I’ve been back at work for about four months now after taking nine blissful months off to enjoy maternity leave. I’m privileged to have been able to do that, but if you know me you’ll have noticed that I never really stopped working.

Sure, I stopped pitching and chasing commissions for writing gigs. But what I did was quietly (okay not that quietly at all) squirrel away at my blog. I did a couple of courses, and focused heavily on what I could achieve because here’s a little bit of honesty for you: I’ve always avoided trying to become a full-time blogger in case I failed.

Phew, glad that’s off my chest.

 Photo by Poike/iStock / Getty Images Photo by Poike/iStock / Getty Images

Blogging Experimentation

So what did I get up to in my nine months of blogging experimentation? Well, I guess the bulk of it came from my the release of my weekly podcast, What She Said, which I’d been planning since late 2016.

But there was also a joy in just playing. With Instagram, with Squarespace, with networking and writing posts about whatever I wanted.

I acted as though I already was a full-time blogger, and that professionalism helped somehow.

I guess there was also an element of ‘fuck it’ because I had the comfort blanket of having a baby, being on maternity leave and not having to worry about appearing to ‘achieve’.

But at the end of this strange sort of gap year, I realised a whole lot. I set goals I never really expected to achieve and went back to work on January 9th with hella trepidation. I fully expected to just go back to journalism and spent one whole week pitching like crazy on the two days I’d allotted for Anaïs childcare knowing that every hour I didn’t get a commission I was going into negative salary for the month.

Then I chose something a bit radical. Well, it felt radical as I didn’t have a blueprint I could folllow of someone doing the exact same thing anyway…..

I paid for a whole month of full-time nursery for Anaïs and I looked back over my goals from the previous year.

I wanted to make more passive income, it said.

Less sponsored content.

More podcasting.

And less freelance writing.

I started a podcast

Starting a podcast hasn’t just been a way for me to ‘meet’ and interview stacks of awesome bloggers. It’s been a way to connect with my audience, some of whom had never heard my voice. It’s been a way to share my opinions, have a giggle and fast-track how quickly my ‘readers’ get to know me.

Unlike my blog where comments are sparse at best, podcasting is such an intimate way to consume content (lots of people tell me they listen in the bath!) it’s a really good way to show your ‘real’ personality in a less vulnerable way than on camera. I’m pretty happy on Instagram Stories but what changed things for me, what. made me truly comfortable being seen was my podcast. The interactions I have daily, the proven influence etc etc has all given me a huge confidence boost I’m worthy of my space on the web.

And on a truly literal level each week as listeners learned amazing tips and got inspired, I did too. My guests genuinely helped me as much as they helped my listeners and there’s nothing like the power of community to spur you on to do amazing things.

I PUBLISHED MY BLOG STATS

I explained more about my Squarespace issues in a solo episode of my podcast last year but since I switched, and my stats dropped I’ve been so ashamed I didn’t want to update my media kit. But then i stopped caring, realised I’m achieving my goals regardless and freed myself up to stick with Squarespace and stop worrying aout chasing vanity metrics.

But I took it a step further when I published this post putting my money where my mouth is and showing I really am HONEST to a fault. It had a good reaction and more than anything I proved to myself I could share something I wasn’t proud of and I’d live to breathe another breath.

In all seriousness I didn’t necessarily want to publish the post at first. But when Jen Carrington and I chatted she reminded me that honesty is kinda my ‘thing’…..my niche. So I have to walk the walk! That gave me the push I needed and I’m so happy I pressed publish.

I INVESTED IN courseS

This one’s a funny one because I often hear of people saying they’ve bought stacks of courses they haven’t even started. And I agree e-courses are rife….some better than others and not all right for everyone. So I wouldn’t encourage this step as something you should add to your ‘blueprint for blogging success’ but within the chuff I invested in two courses that genuinely paid off for me.

Firstly I bought Monica Stott’s *The Blogger Course, which I’ve talked about on the podcast a few times, and I honestly didn’t expect it to be as good as it was. Yes, there are some bits I don’t feel I need to implement to be a success and some bits I initally struggled with before realising it’s okay not to do every step, but Monica explains things in such an honest way I felt totally safe in the knowledge she wasn’t asking me to do anything she hasn’t done herself.

The course covers things like affiliate marketing (which blew my mind) as well as giving me a whole new perspective on press trips. The lessons are actionable and really practical and I’d earned the course fee back a few times over before I’d finidhed the course.

The other course I can’t stop raving about is from Krista Dickson who I found when looking for tutorials about Teachable when I started writing my SEO e course. She’s a bit of a Pinterest expert and has stacks of tutorials on her blog too, but I love her for creating the BEST e course ever! *Your First Course Launch does exactly what it says on the tin. I had some experience of using Teachable but in simple, actionable videos Krista explains the difference between an evergreen and open/closed launch, sales funnels and how to give value to your students (along with pricing, branding and helping you plot out the content too)

**I genuinely loved both courses, and my raving reviews are why I’m an affiliate of both (meaning I get a commission if you buy them through my links because…..well, a girls gotta eat.)


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I stopped worrying about Pinterest

This one’s pretty funny because this time last year I was convinced I’d become a Pinterest VA at some point. But realistically it’s 100% against my values to encourage people to focus on Pinterest purely to gain meaningless traffic. I do believe it’s a great way to grow your blog and especially when you have specific goals and a clear focus (see Jessica Rose Wiliams for a great example of this.)

I still recommend Pinterest as the best way to while away a blissfully happy hour, but I’m not worrying about it as a traffic growth strategy for now.

I ACCEPTED MYSELF AS I AM

This has been the biggy to be honest and I am STILL a total work in progress. But for so many years I’ve to’d and fro’d over ‘who I am’ and what my tagline is etc etc etc. I started as a beauty blogger, then a travel and beauty blogger, then a travel blogger because someone told me you ‘can’t merge those niches’ then a lifestyle blogger with no focus. And after feeling completely over it all, Monica pointed out in her Blogger Course Facebook group that I totally have a niche — my audience.

Leaning into who I am, and why people connect with me has been a game-changer. I’m not a fashion blogger and I’m not a mummy blogger or a food blogger or a travel blogger but the thing that merges everything I write about is me.

I write about my life so I guess that makes me a lifestyle blogger, if pushed, and guess what? I totally blog for other bloggers. I’ll never be able to explain my blog in one snappy little sentence but I feel so much more comfortable with myself and my blog this year than any other year.

So yeah niche, I have one. It’s me.

L x

 If you've ever hit a wall with your blog, I feel you. These are the best things I did to grow my blog over the years....spoiler alert, you don't need big numbers to be a success! If you’ve ever hit a wall with your blog, I feel you. These are the best things I did to grow my blog over the years….spoiler alert, you don’t need big numbers to be a success!