#ThingsILoveFridays 29 November


What's that I hear you say? No Black Friday offer? Nope, not from me, not sure how I feel about it tbh so instead, I'm focusing on my usual #ThingsILoveFridays💖 where I celebrate all that went well each week, giving me the opportunity to stop, and be grateful! I don’t think we give ourselves enough credit for doing all this hard work, right? 

I've upgraded this into not only what I love but what I think you'll love too - useful, loveable, funny, no not just adjectives to describe me but also what I love to share....LOL.
  • Feeling completely stuck on where to start with your SEO for 2020? I am running a challenge next week in my Facebook group and would love you get involved
  • I prioritised self care landing back in the UK this past week, and I didn't hate it, so I updated my healthy habits at a computer blog post - still one of my most popular pieces ever - How to take care of yourself when at a computer
  • I went to see a Guardian Live event with Emma Thompson and friends at the Barbican talking about their book Last Christmas - it is very emotional as people share their stories of Christmas.
  • I got last minute tickets to see Ian McKellen's one man show - he's in London until 5th January and highly recommend (and I spoke with him!)

And now I'm off to finish writing the challenge for next week, getting some pampering done before heading to Devon tomorrow for a James Bond party (and yes I will be putting my own spin on Bond - check out my Stories to follow the adventures!) 

What did you love this week? Come and tell me on Instagram 🙂 

Maddy

Photography by John Nassari

How do I rank for this keyword? #SmashingMyths

Let's cut straight to the good stuff, shall we?? How do I rank for this keyword is one of the most common questions I get asked.

The kind that gets you grinning at four o'clock in the afternoon as another enquiry lands in your inbox.

That gets you high-fiving your(self? Cat?) as you wrap up another order.

Keyword ranking may not sound all that sexy, but it can do A-grade things for your creative business. So exactly what do you need to do to get in on the action, and which of the so-called tips and tricks are nothing more than myth?

  1. It's time to be choosey

Whenever someone asks me (i.e. every day) 'how do I show up in search engines for this keyword?', then I ask them in return, how did you choose that word? It's so often picked at random, guided by the not-so-specific method of 'Ooh I like that yes', rather than what their ideal clients are actually searching for. It can be as simple as the choice between “floral designer” vs “florist” or “illustration” vs “painting” that really can make all the difference.

But, if you aren't sure, what else can you do? Here are some questions you can ask yourself to figure it out because yes, there are tools to help figure out the popularity of any particular phrase but if you don't do this ground work first you're going to be going round in circles.

Get a pen and notepad out and write down...​​

  • Where in the world are you based? Be specific
  • Where in the world is your audience based? Be specific
  • What do you offer
  • Are there different ways to sum up what you do?
  • Are you clear on how you differ from your competitors (this can be the difference between wedding bouquet illustrator and wedding day illustrator, both of which are great businesses but are quite different in terms of actual service where one shows up to the big day and the other does not)
  • Are you clear on how you add value to your audience's lives?
  • How well do you understand what they're looking for?

If you design clothes or take photos it's not just - my clients need clothes or they need new photos, it's the kind of clothes, it's the kind of photos they need, and what they will use them for.

  1. One word: phrase

When is a keyword not a keyword? When it's a phrase! Don't get caught out by thinking your keyword is 'photographer' when actually it's probably more like 'Birmingham wedding photographer'. Because here's the secret: more often than not, that's what people are typing into Google. Think about the last searches you made, then apply the same logic to the queries your ideal client could use to find you.

  1. #Daretobedifferent

Often, creative business owners bundle up hashtag and keyword choice in one fell swoop. Your time is valuable, so streamlining makes sense, but don't try and skip this key step just to save time (instead psst...find the places you totally CAN save time in your business right here). Keywords are what get you found on Google, hashtags group your social media posts. They're both ways to bring new eyes to your brand, but they work in different ways so don't assume one works for the other.

  1. On target

If I asked you to describe your ideal client, what would you say? (Apart from rolling your eyes, because isn't it enough that you've got one, do you really have to deep dive more?!?) Could you tell me their age, their likes, dislikes and favourite places to splurge? Could you tell me their pain points and the things that spur them on to get out of bed in the morning?

You may be feeling a bit smug right now as you've got this information down, but even if you haven't, don't let the research stop there. Include it in your keyword ranking planning too. You can find out how many people search each month for phrases linked to your business (start with Google Keyword Planner, but on my SEO course Let's Get You Found I teach you much more specific ways to do this). Check out your competition, too - what are they using? You always need to know what you're up against before you can take top spot, otherwise you're just fighting against yourself.

  1. Play the game

Competing for number one takes courage, confidence and clarity (I talk about it in my free trainings, which you probably wanna hear more about, right?). If you've got your keywords right, you'll face plenty of competition in your bid to top the charts, so you need to play the game to win! Using the exact same keyword phrases on multiple blogs and pages means you'll be in direct competition with yourself - and only one page can be number one. So instead use similar phrases that mean the same thing on different blog posts you write. Get clear on where keyword phrases work best on your website. This very idea is debated widely amongst SEO experts and is different for every business, so take the time to work out what is best for you.

  1. One size does not fit all

It used to be the case that you could create a page, add the search phrase, link the page on your menu or footer, name it with your keyword phrase and that would be enough to ace your keyword ranking. But as with most things in life, times change.

Google is getting cleverer than ever, tracking not just what people search but also their intent behind it. Make sure you tailor your keyword phrases specifically to each page to ensure they display in search for what potential customers will actually find.

  1. Wrong place, right time

One of the most common mistakes I find on client websites is that they've used one keyword phrase in a lot of places, or they've not used enough at all. The trick to scoring great SEO results and watching that organic traffic roll in is to put the right keywords in the right places, every time.

  1. Pare it back

When you've done your research for keyword ranking, it can be oh-so tempting to pour all that time and energy into the next post you write. Don't! Because trust me, we've all been there, done that and ended up with a post you can't make head nor tail of. Packing in every possible variation of your keyword phrase won't a readable page make, so choose one for this time, and save the others to enhance your strategy another day.

Once you've nailed your audience targeting, it's time to hone in on your strategy too. Strategy doesn't have to be a scary word, and in fact I love helping people sort theirs out. Scaling back your keywords to cover a chosen area or niche won't limit your potential. Far from it, in fact, because by doing this you'll appeal to the people who matter most.​​

OK, so you've done some thinking, come and tell me on Facebook which tip helped you the most....

Chat soon,
Maddy

P.S. If you're in the mythbusting mood, you might also wanna check out my post on whether SEO is dead.....

#ThingsILoveFridays 8 November

It's all go pre-holiday this week which is why it's so good to look back on the week and go ahhh, I achieved a lot, had a lot of fun, but I'm quite ready for some time off 😀By focusing on what went well each week, it gives me the opportunity to stop, and be grateful! I don’t think we give ourselves enough credit for doing all this hard work, right? I've upgraded this into not only what I love but wha I think you'll love too....so here’s what I loved this week:
And now I'm off to get blued up, spruced up and pack up as I'm off on my trip to Mexico on Sunday.
Come and follow me on Insta as I'll be popping on there to spread some sunshine with any luck 🙂 Dance break requests on the beach anyone?
What did you love this week? I love to hear from you 🙂
Maddy
P.S. When I get back, I'll be sharing some juicy announcements, so watch this space!

How to Find More Time to Work on Your Business

Anyone can fill up their day with tasks. Anyone. Every day I hear the same thing - "I'm so busy!" to the point where it's glorified and, rather than actually looking at whether the tasks on your massive To Do list are driving you forward, instead we get lost in being busy fools.

When you bit the bullet and launched your business, you had a big dream. A dream of working on projects you're crazy passionate about and meeting talented individuals who share those interests. You didn't worry about how to find more time to work on your business, because in the beginning? you had PLENTY of that.

But as your business grows or your lifestyle changes, working out how to find more time to work on your business can feel like Mission Impossible.

Your inbox and phone ping every few minutes with a fresh message to reply to. There's a list of invoices to raise and others to pay. Your social media needs updating. You need to write a blog. Your email newsletter needs a tweak... But your hands are full with the dream client work you set out to do.

Sound familiar? We've all been there, and we've also all fallen down the deep dark rabbit holes of Facebook group advice encouraging you to work smarter, not harder. But what does that really look like? What steps do you need to take?

In this blog post, I'll help you identify 9 simple actions that will help you be more productive and give you a better work-life balance, all while your business pulls in the bookings.

1. You have to want it

I once heard a wise business coach tell me - "it doesn't matter what is true, only what you believe to be true, because with work it will become true." You have to want it to happen, but also you have to believe it will happen. Committing to the idea of working smarter not harder is the first leap towards change. There's a difference between liking an idea and actually investing in making it your reality. Be ready to change your work dynamics and embrace a fresh approach.

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2. Get organised

No matter how polished your Instagram feed, that shiny exterior can be concealing sky-high piles of paperwork, due dates and invoices. Get organised. Put systems in place to track payments, on-board clients and deliver a sparkling service. All of a sudden, tracking down an invoice won't take 30 minutes and without realising, you've worked out how to find more time to work on your business.

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3. Cleanse your desktop

Raise your hand if you're guilty of a cluttered desktop. Today, it's time to change it! Organise your desktop files and browser bookmarks into clearly labelled folders to dip in and out of with ease. Client Work, Research, Finance, Social Media and Blogs make great starting categories.

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4. Cut back your tabs

It's tempting to try to juggle it all, but I promise you'll get things done faster if you don't. Limit yourself to two or three browser tabs being open at any one time and see what difference it makes. You'll instantly pay more attention to the task at hand and notice if you're becoming distracted.

Source

5. Create a new homepage

What pops up when you open the internet - Google, your email, or some other landing page? Give yourself a daily dose of motivation by setting your list of goals as your browser homepage (on my Let's Get You Found program, I recommend participants have their Spreadsheet of Dreams set as their homepage - a specially designed resource with their goals as part of it). Every time you hop online, this will remind you why you're here and why you're going to nail it today.

6. Start task tracking

Break down your daily to-do list into bite-sized chunks. Not only will this give you a more realistic idea of how much time you need (and therefore how you can find more time to work on your business in the gaps), it also allows you to check them off as you go. No more avoiding the paperwork or losing an hour scrolling through social. Every action will have a business-boosting purpose.

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7 Make time to review

Celebrate the end of each week with a mug of coffee or glass of wine, then sit down and work through what you've done. Identify the tasks you enjoyed and aim to do more of them.

Acknowledge those that you were less keen on and consider why. If these are tasks that tend to lead to procrastination, consider outsourcing them. This can be a great solution to how to make more time to work on your business. You don't have to be queen of everything to be a boss in business!

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8 Download your to-do list

With 101 things to do whirling round your mind, you're never going to be as productive or creative as you could be. You're busy trying not to forget other tasks for later on, and that's distracting. Let yourself download your mental to-do list with the help of an app like Asana. Then you can focus on the moment, free up your head space and get creative, revisiting other jobs later on.

9 Give yourself time

One of the easiest mistakes to make in business is to spend all your time working in it, but none on it. Every business needs nurturing, through marketing, client communication, brand research and more. And that means every business comes with a to-do list beyond client commitments themselves. Book out time every week that is exclusively reserved for your business to-do list. How to find more time to work on your business is much simpler if it becomes something you make time to focus on in the first place.

So there we have it....how to find more time to work on your business. What would making more time for your business mean to you? How could it transform your life, career and business?

Armed with these actionable tips, you're ready to take control of your schedule and carve out time for every part of your business in a realistic and achievable way. Reduce the constant feeling of business and bring back the balance. Find out how you can make time to relax with a really busy schedule - you'll be glad you did.

Which one was your favourite tip? Let me know.

Maddy

Is SEO dead?

Last week it kicked off on my social media. Someone had heard from someone else that SEO is basically dead. Time was when I would read these kinds of things and go OMG my career is over. I’m dead. How will I ever recover. OMG, I’m off to ask for a job at my local coffee shop. Goodbye cruel freelancing world. So, this kind of stuff happens most weeks and I’m sure in hundreds of other conversations that I’m not privy to. See also: a beer out with a friend a few weeks ago where they told me that they didn’t think people were using Google in the same way any more and that I needed to find something else to do. The thing is, is SEO dead?

So often people come to me and say "But XYZ is the thing now".

To them I say this:

The thing is, SEO isn’t dead. People (i.e. your potential clients) are googling stuff just as much as ever.

As a small business owner, you probably think SEO is a luxury. But to make more money from your website, you want more people to see it. To get more people to see it, you need to increase your rankings on search engines. To do this, you need to work on your SEO. You may have heard that SEO is dead and past it, but this couldn’t be further from the truth. My personal opinion is that people just say that so that they don’t have to work on their SEO. (Or worse yet, and this is truly cynical, that they are working on their SEO but don’t want to let on that they’re not doing well with it).

I hear every day that the market is saturated, but no one is talking about the really obvious solution: promote why you’re different. The way to do this is to work on your SEO. It really isn’t as dry and dull as it’s so often made out to be. Let’s pick it apart like a Terry’s chocolate orange (too early?) (for more on what is SEO you can check out my blog post here)

If you hop on to Google Trends or Google Adwords keyword research and start searching for your type of business and commonly asked questions you’ll find out how many people are looking for you….

which finger does a wedding ring go on - 12,100 people a month on average are searching for the answer to this worldwide! A perfect opportunity for you to showcase engagement photos, the I do moment in your favourite venues

london wedding photography - 1300 couples a month are searching for you, yes it’s competitive, but it’s not impossible

wedding songs 2019 - a whopping 18,100 a month and not enough people are embedding Spotify playlists and Youtube videos in blog posts in my opinion!

I could go on - London wedding venues 8,100 a month, Cornwall wedding venues 2900 a month, calligraphy wedding invitations 1600 a month

It's not just wedding suppliers either, 40,500 people a month are searching for a chocolate brownie recipe, 210 people a month are searching for the answer to "how do i know what to do with my life", 1900 women are searching for "dating advice for women" and 2160 people are searching for gifts for newborn babies.

So what can YOU do with this information?

It comes down to three very practical tasks:

  1. Creating content (blogging on your website (read: do I really need to blog) + then promoting on social media - here's my tips on how to use social media for SEO)
  2. Tracking how well that content does (checking your Google Analytics + insights - here's how to set up Google Analytics)
  3. Create more content based on the results (it doesn’t matter if it overlaps because people aren’t paying nearly as much attention to us as we’d like them to.)

It’s up to you to remind them you exist. So plan some blog posts to publish between now and the end of the year, share them strongly on social media. Don’t hold back (for tips on this check out my blog post "Six ways to put yourself out there")

If you work on it from now on and you’re consistent, your efforts should pay off in enquiries. You can't just turn up and expect to get lucky on the first date i.e. stop publishing one blog post a year and expect to get bookings from it. I wrote more about dating + SEO here.

Useful? Hit me back and let me know your favourite bit. I love hearing from you!

Maddy x

Six Ways to Put Yourself Out There More (and not run out of time)

Today marks a new day *breaks into song*. For whilst I have no lion cub to raise in the air, I *do* have Elton John playing in the background and I am feeling particularly optimistic. Last week I put something really big off all week. Scratch that, I actually put something really big off all month. I had finally done all my chores (because you know laundry only gets done on procrastination days) I delved deep into what's really going on and I realised what I really found absolutely joyous about what I do.

It all started two weeks ago when I had a bit of a meltdown. I know that that doesn't sound particularly optimistic does it but bear with.

You see, I had just done an Instagram story takeover, where I had literally hundreds of messages and new followers, and I was completely overwhelmed. I felt like such a total failure. Imposter syndrome kicked in. I'm supposed to act like a big (well, small to medium) hotshot success right? Like, who am I to be a human bean or something?!

Come on.

I had a good truth serum served by people close to me. The next day, I stripped back a whole load of stuff on my To Do list that was making my business feel bloated and wham bam I felt a million times better. 

Free of the shackles of my own doing (I never promised this email would be drama-free) I came to a realisation.

And?

I decided to put myself out there more. Not just for any old thing but in a very decisive way.

You see, when I put myself out there more I actually enjoy what I do more. I get more enquiries. I feel *in control*. Oh yes we love a bit of control round here.

And guess what? I get SO many questions asking how you can put yourself out there more and so I put them together in one handy place....

Getting found online (i.e. SEO what I do) is about stepping up and stepping out. It’s about saying “Dream clients here I am, come and get me!"

1. Stop comparing yourself to everyone else who does what you do.

If I compared myself to other SEO consultants there’s no way I would do anything like I’ve done. If I compared myself to other business coaches there's definitely no way I would be able to muster up the courage to show up online. As the great Dolly Parton says 'Figure out who you are and do it on purpose'.

2. Stop worrying about what others think of you. 

I have a newsflash for you: no one is thinking about you nearly as much as you'd like them to be. It used to consume me too. As soon as I just relaxed and continued on, I started having a lot more fun and actually enjoying all these things. What you love to see is what you do, because it’s your passion. So don’t be afraid of heading out there. If others don’t want to see it, they won’t interact with it, and you'll learn from that. It won’t always be just family and friends who are supporting you.

3. Keep a note of why you're awesome.

Realise that just as new competitors emerge each and every day, the market is saturated, argh what about Brexit, that they cannot actually directly affect what you sell as a product or service. You have had clients before and you will have clients again. Read through your testimonials to remind yourself of why you're amazing at what you do. (I do this every day, it's a wonderful habit).

4. Stop getting scared of doing it wrong.

It’s not actually that a big deal of a deal to do the hard things (whether it's write a blog post, get your website updated etc). Once new tasks become everyday habits, you find you learn by doing and hire experts *ahem* to help you upgrade that plan.

5. Set goals for what you want to do and make a plan of action.

I *love* helping others plan and sort out their business brains + lives. What do you want to sell, how often do you want to sell it, and where have you sold it before that worked well? Promote on the channels that work for you. Hire an expert to help you in the areas where you're stuck. Don't let fear of lack of time get in the way. Think of the time you're wasting deliberating and instead move on up!

6. Believe in yourself.

You've come this far already! If you follow me on Instagram (hello!) then you'll see I regularly post reflective posts recognising how far I've come, focusing on my wins of the week on my #ThingsILoveFridays💖 If you don't believe in yourself you'll watch Netflix all day and never achieve anything you want to do. With self belief comes positive action. It's not wishy washy. It's fact.

Tell me in the comments - which tip hit home for you?

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