Apr 19, 2015

Simplify Blogging: Sarah Jensen On Her Blogging Journey

Today in Simplify Blogging, we're chatting with my good friend Sarah Jensen on her blogging journey. Sarah is a writer and coach based in Australia.

SS: Tell us about your blog + biz! Hi! My name is Sarah. I’m a writer and coach and what lights me up is seeing others achieve their goals and feel amazing about themselves.

SarahJensen.com.au is part story-telling, part straightforward, practical advice on how to love yourself, believe in yourself and live a happy, fulfilling life.

My focus is on honesty, connection and how to make change in the real world.
I’ve seen so many wonderful people stop themselves from following their passion or making their dream life their real life because they feel stuck, or overwhelmed, or not good enough. I’m here to say you’re so worth it, you’re so incredibly special and you absolutely deserve to love yourself and your life.

I’m not afraid to get a bit deep and meaningful or put myself out there so others know they’re not alone. I’m also a big fan of being a little bit silly and having a good laugh. What it comes down to is balance and I’m here to help people find their balance, along with their momentum and excitement for life.

Ultimately, connection and giving back are my soul purposes and through my website and coaching business I can do that. I’m so grateful to have the opportunity to connect with so many beautiful people and help them kick butt!

SS:I love that Rob Bell quote you have on your about me page that says some of the most comforting words a person can hear are 'me too'. When did someone say that to you in a meaningful way, and what Impact did it have on your life?

There hasn’t been one specific, stand-out ‘me too’ in my life. There have been a series of moments across the last few years that have helped me really put myself out there, to speak my truth, take down the walls and let people in.
The ones that come to mind are a counsellor who reassured me I wasn’t not alone in how I felt, a person I deeply admire and respect confessed that they struggle too, a friend who seemed to have it ‘all together’ shared some shocking personal struggles and a mentor who admitted she doubts herself too.
The other big ‘me too’ in my life have been the amazing and inspiring women in the Bright Eyed and Blog Hearted group. They’ve absolutely been my rock since I started this journey. They’ve celebrated with me, cried with me and encouraged me to keep going and keep believing. All of those things have added up to me feeling so much more confident in myself. I have down days, of course I do, but at the core now I feel hope, love and possibility.
What I’ve realised is that everything I’ve been through, all the negativity and self-destruction, has been a gift. It’s helped me become strong in myself. It’s helped me learn how to be vulnerable and how to really connect with others. But most of all it’s given me the experience and compassion to help others, and for that I’m truly grateful.

SS; what are the top struggles you've face as a blogger?

Comparing myself to others has been my biggest inner battle.
I spent a lot of time thinking I’m not good enough, my website isn’t pretty enough, my message isn’t clear enough, I’m not reaching enough people, I’m not providing enough value or making enough of difference. I felt like everyone was doing it bigger and better than me and it’s all been done before anyway. There have definitely been a few “why bother” moments.
At one point I had to sit myself down and say, ‘Sarah, you’re unique. You’re special. You matter and what you have to say matters. Even if you only help one person it’s worth it.’ And it helped. I think acknowledging that this is my unique journey freed me up to let it flow a lot more. I realised the growing, changing, learning and the trial and error are all part of the journey. It’s a beautiful evolution; an experiment. In moments of doubt or frustration now, I remember my why (helping others) and it keeps me going.
Other than that, my biggest learnings have been to be gentle and kind with myself, enjoy the process, never lose the joy and that everything takes longer than you expect.

SS: How do you use your blog to market your business?

It might sound strange, but at the moment I feel like my blog isn’t about marketing my business, it’s about offering love, kindness, honesty and a virtual hug to those who need it.
I want to make sarahjensen.com.au a place where people feel safe, comfortable, supported and nurtured. Where they feel like they’re not alone. Where they’re reassured that even though they might not be exactly where they want to be in life, it’s just logistics and we can work on that.
My message to each and every beautiful soul who kindly visits my website is this:
“You are wonderful, special and worthwhile. You matter. What you want matters and how you want to feel matters. You deserve to be happy and fulfilled. If you’re not where you want to be in life, please don’t give up. You’re not alone. I’m here for you and we can work on it together. You truly can live a life you love. It’s absolutely possible and I believe in you.”

SS: what are your blogging goals for 2015?

My goals this year are to focus on consistency, sustainability and learning as much as I can so I can be of greater service.
At the end of the day though, I really just want to help people believe in themselves, acknowledge the incredible person they are and embrace their incredible potential. I think everyone deserves to live a life where they feel happy and fulfilled, so my main goal for 2015 is to help as many people as possible achieve this.

Connect with Sarah on Facebook Instagram and Pinterest

3 Ways To Simplify + Your Life

Ease is important to me. That's not to say I don't love a good challenge ( I do). I just don't want my entire life to be challenging. If something can be done the hard way or a more enjoyable, ease filled way, I'll pick the latter any day.

One of the reasons I love simplicity-in all its many forms- is because simplifying things can bring ease. Decluttering can have ample affects on your mental and even physical wellbeing. It can also help you focus on what you love the most and get rid of what weighs you do.

I wanted to spend a second talking with you about what simplicity looks like in my life.

I'm not a minimalist, or at least not by the standard definition. We own waaay more than 100 items. And we don't live out of backpacks. Nor do we have a tiny house ( although that would be cool).

Simplicity, to me, is all about uncomplicating life as much as possible, and focusing on what matters most.

It isn't about competing about how little we own.

It's not about living a 'vanilla' life void of passion and adventure.
( in fact, you could say it's the opposite of that)

The reason I bring this all up here and now is because I recently got feedback on what a site devoted to simplicity should feel like. It was all common sense feedback. I'm just not very common sense I guess, and don't like being pigeon holed. Plus, simplicity may mean something different to me than it does to others.

Simplicity to me is savouring a meal with my family.
It's about being mindful.
It's not letting advertising influence how I view beauty.
It's giving up the obsession of competing with people who have 'more' than we do.
And it's letting go of buying stuff just for the sake of having more.

Simplicity is interlinked with savouring life. And that's why I named this very blog Savouring Simplicity.

As I began pondering how savouring simplicity has benefited my life, I also began wondering how I could help others savour life more by simplifying it, so I created a few resource pages on simplifying travel and blogging.

Now that we've had a heart to heart about how these two elements of your life ( and my site) are interlinked, let's dive into how you can savour your life while simplifying it.

1.) Let go of labels

Letting go of things is SO imperative in feeling good and enjoying life to the max. It's a major part of simplifying things too, so let's get right to the hardest thing to let go of, yet perhaps the most important.

Letting go of labels.

I mean all of them. Because let's face it, having a gorgeous Italian bag for the sake of owning a high-quality and long lasting item is one thing...buying it to make others jealous or only as a sign of status is another.

Yes, I'm looking at you Los Angeles. 

And not just the status-inducing labels of physical items, but the ones we attach to ourselves too.

Not good enough.
Better than everyone else.
Never enough.
A Failure.

ALL of them.

Labels are invented by mankind to determine a person's perceived value to society, and let's be honest: they are total BS and no indicator of your inherent value. Neither is your bank account, whether you have a lot in there or are overdrawn.

Labels have done nothing but screw things up. But they have lingered under the guise of being 'helpful' or letting you know what a person is all about. The fact is that labels are faulty and influenced by trends. Ditch them!

You being you. That's all that's important. Sans labels. You're enough, end of story.

2.) Slowing Down

You can't savour life without slowing down and being present enough to live it. People run around like that's the only way to live. I heartily disagree. Unless you live in NYC ( kidding), it's time to slow down and realize you're alive. You're floating on a ball of land and water in the middle of nowhere in space. That's pretty amazing.

This is one of the many reasons I LOVE the lifestyle in Europe, as well as here in South East Asia. They savour life and enjoy simplicity. Food is super important in these continents. In fact you could say they are obsessed with it. We see people stop by the road and forage food to accompany their dinners. Why? Why not. They see a few mangos, pool over and take them home. Sometimes they give them as presents.

3.) Determine what's most important to you

It's a fact that many people live lives that are influenced by what they think they 'should' be doing. Careers that will apparently make them more money or make their families look like they've raised a stellar kid turned professional.

But is this what they as an individual wanted or what they were told to pursue?

You can't savour life if you're living someone else's dream. The best way to determine what you want to do is to make a list of all the things that are most important to you.

What makes you feel the most alive?
What food gives you the most energy when you consume it?
How many hours do you spend with your family, as well as doing what you love?
What do you wish you could do more of?

I would love to hear how you are savouring and simplifying your life! 

Apr 13, 2015

Latrisha Jacobs On Maintaining Your Blog

 Latrisha Jacobs helps female entrepreneurs DIY and maintain their online businesses. With a primary focus on making sense of the techie side of business (WordPress, and brand design), Latrisha is changing the way women entrepreneurs approach building and maintaining their businesses online. 

SS: Tell us about your biz + blog!

I blog at Latrisha and Company to help female entrepreneurs take their dreams for their brand out of their head and onto the web.

With a primary focus on making sense of the techie side of business (specifically eCommerce, WordPress, and brand design), I feel as though I'm changing the way female entrepreneurs approach building and maintaining their businesses online.
It is also not uncommon to find me in front of a computer with split screens with some code on one side and Sephora up on the other, Starbucks cup in hand, and feet propped up with the most coziest footies in a bright pink or super cute gold color.

SS: What is the top techie issue bloggers face, and how would you suggest they handle it?

I would say that some of the top issues that I believe bloggers face when it comes to the techie side of things would be (1) knowing how to appropriately maintain their blog, (2) knowing how to really use Google Analytics to boost their blog traffic and conversions, and (3) knowing how to run their email and not let it run them.

First, knowing how to appropriately maintain their blog.

There is more to running a blog than making sure you have great content and images to match. There’s a backend piece that I see bloggers only pay attention to when something goes wrong on their blog. But, bloggers need to pay attention to this from the beginning. Having effective systems in place will hopefully stop that dreaded morning you go to look at your blog and there’s nothing there.

Simple steps that I would take would be to:

  1. if you’re using WordPress install Backup to Dropbox and backup your blog automatically to Dropbox
  2. set a monthly reminder on your phone to do an audit of any plugins or installations on your site and get rid of those that you no longer need
  3. do a links audit at least weekly (if you’re using WordPress you can use Broken Link Checker plugin) and make sure that there are no broken links or links that need to be updated

Second, knowing how to really use Google Analytics to boost their blog traffic and conversions.

Google Analytics is way more than just a tool that you can use to see how many people have visited your site or the amount of pageviews that you have gotten. If used correctly, Google Analytics can dramatically increase the effectiveness of your blog.

Five things that you can do to take your Google Analytics account to the next level are to:
  1. create a custom dashboard which features the reports that you want to see first when you login
  2. create shortcuts to the reports that you always generate when taking an in-depth look at your account
  3. link your Google Analytics to your Google Webmasters Tools so that you can have even more information about the people who visit your website
  4. setup goals to track the performance of metrics that are most important to you (example: you might have a goal for newsletter subscribers or amount of time spent on your site)
  5. setup Intelligence Events so that you’re immediately notified when something with your site is not right (for example: you have a dramatic drop in traffic.)

Third, knowing how to run their email and not let it run them.

If let up to it’s own devices, email would run a bloggers life. Between PR companies reaching out, social media notifications, reader emails, and subscription emails it can get a little hectic.

Features that I recommend bloggers implement into their email management plan would be to:
  1. use canned responses so that you don’t have to think of a reply for each email
  2. use filters to not have a crowded inbox and instead go through your emails at your own pace
  3. turn off email notifications and instead create a time for the morning, right after lunch, and before you shut down for the day to check your email for no more than 15-minutes at a time

SS: Many bloggers feel overwhelmed by Social Media. Do you have a specific strategy or schedule that helps you do your promotion and connect with other while not spending too much time looking at cat photos or whatever other distractions pop up?

I like to do things based on a schedule. I have set times for when I’m going to be engaging and interacting and then I turn it off. I don’t have the notifications pop on my phone or else I would be on social media pretty much all day.

I do have my favorite sites that I definitely spend more time on than others and I think that’s okay. Community building is very important to me and I’m okay with spending a little bit more time on a social media site than I probably should be.

But, for the most part each morning I sit down and I use Buffer to schedule some social media updates to make me visible when I can’t be there. And, then in the morning, early afternoon, and evening when I’m just lounging around I like to set a reminder to check in on social media.

I typically start with my favorites (Twitter and Instagram) and then check-in on the others. I use a timer like I do with email to make sure that I don’t get caught up in clicking on links and getting distracted.

SS: What are your blogging goals for 2015?

Since Latrisha and Company is just launching, this year is all about building a brand and community around my blog/business. I really am focusing on growing my social media following, getting new email subscribers, and using the income that I make from my site to officially live my 9-to-5 job in the dust.

Connect with Latrisha on Twitter, Instagram, Pinterest