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‘Business’ and ‘inspiration’ are often not words that people would expect to see together. Oh, how wrong they are. It takes a lot to build something from scratch and develop it to the point where you’re not only living, but living comfortably while doing something you love. Below, you’ll find a list of resources which we think could help you to build your business into something truly special.

XOSarah

Sarah’s blog is specifically aimed at people who want to make money out of their blogs. It might seem like the lessons don’t apply to people with a very different business idea. However, blogs are a great thing to have for pretty much any business, so Sarah’s super-informative site is a great place to start. We especially love this post about how best to handle a really busy day.

Two Scots Abroad

While Two Scots abroad is a travel blog, we came across this post and we love it. It gives some great info that works for people who are just starting out, or for those who want to step up their game. Fine, you might not be promoting your own travel blog, but if you’re trying to sell anything online the tips they offer would be a great way to start.

Adore Creative Studio

Chloe is a freelance designer. She runs a beautiful website, as you would expect from a designer. However, we want to talk about her blog. It’s a fantastic example of how a business can use a blog to showcase their work, as well as creating a ton of business-related content which people will want to share. If people share your content, they spread the word about you. This post gives some great ideas for what to post on social media when you get stuck. And you will get stuck eventually. It happens to us all.

Living For Naptime

Living for Naptime is designed for mums who want to start a blog in their free time. But if you’re starting a business while dealing with something else that takes up a lot of time and attention (ie. that full time job you want to get rid of some day) we think there’s a lot to be learned from the brilliant time-saving tips on there. We particularly love this post about growing your Instagram. Give it a try!

Snap Creativity

Tauni Everett has an amazing ‘Blogging + Entrepreneur Tips’ section on her website, which is packed full of information which is really useful whatever your business. For those looking to increase their social media following, we particularly love this post about organically upping your Facebook likes. But, really, the whole blog is a treasure trove.

Nesha Woolery

Once you’ve got yourself set up and your website looking great, you’re on the right track. But it’s not enough to just sit there and wait for your clients to roll in. This post on Nesha’s blog is especially great. It provides a run-down of loads of ways you can go about attracting clients. It’s all about putting yourself out there, and that post will show you how.

Now. Real talk time. Did we miss any amazing sources of business inpiration that you think we should know about? Where do you turn when you need a kick up the backside? If you take away one tip from all of this, what will it be?

 

Valentines day is fast approaching and, yes, it’s a fake holiday invented by corporations to sell extra pink stuff. However, there’s generally still an expectation that if you’re coupled up you’re going to get involved. Luckily, there’s a load of gift ideas floating around on the internet, so we picked some of our favourites because our Valentines gift to you is to save you time shopping for presents. You’re welcome.

Bacon hearts

We could really just stop this whole post here. As everybody no doubt knows, the purest expression of any emotion is through bacon. So if’s only natural that on Valentines day that bacon wold be moulded int hearts, isn’t it?

Candy Heart Bracelet

A little bit like those crappy candy bracelets you used to have as a kid, except this one uses sweets people actually like. On top of that it will have obviously taken time and care to make. And, on top of that, there are sweets out there these days that actually look super cool. You never know, your partner may never remove their Valentines gift. Watch out for the ants, though.

Caramel Heart Brownies

You know how cake is the answer to everything? Oh, you don’t? OK, well, cake is the answer to everything. Therefore, brownies are almost inevitable. There’s a lot of food involved with Valentines day so it’s best to just lean in to it. Plus, at least this way you probably get to help in the eating process.

Sharpie Mug

We mentioned the sharpie mug idea in our Christmas gifts post, but for the time-poor and uninspired it really can’t be beaten, so it’s worth repeating. You can recreate the designs from this Valentines day-specific tutorial, or you could do your own thing. A thousand points if you use it to propose to someone. Also, you have to invite us all to be bridesmaids. We’re a 75% male team, but we’ll make it work.

Valentines Day Jenga

What better way to let someone know that you love them than by letting them win something? Or than by reminding them that you’re still better than them at the childhood games of your youth. Luckily, with this DIY version of jenga you can charm your other half as you play until they completely forget the fact that they just got pwned.

Heart-Shaped Bath Bombs

A fun gift that includes a little bit of science, and will probably make you look super-impressive. If you need to subtly hint to your loved one that they need to be a bit more vigilant with the personal hygiene, this is also an excellent way to go about it. Who said Valentines gifts couldn’t multitask?

Printables

Printables are amazing. There’s an awesome selection to be found on Landeelu in particular, but they’re all over places like Pinterest these days. Forgot to buy a card? Printable. Need to make a crappy gift look a bit more polished? Printable. Forgot to get anything at all and need to fake your way through it? Printable. Honestly, whatever’s going awry, printables can save the day.

A Year of Dates

If, for whatever reason, you need to in on ths year’s Valentines gift, you could try a years-worth of dates. The idea is, you book an activity every month for a year, and hand over a selection of tickets and entry passes for all kinds of fun stuff. Slightly less organised people could also probably get away with vague promises of days out. It has the potential to get expensive, but it’ll make you look like the thoughtful person you always wished you were.

So what will you be doing this Valentines day? Something thoughtful? Something last-minute? We really don’t have a lot going on in our personal lives, so feel free to share all.

We’re all familiar with the concept of bloggers. They’re often called ‘influencers’ these days, and they lead spotless, minimalist, neatly-curated lives. Or, at least, that’s what it looks like on the surface. There’s nothing better than sitting down and reading through all of the new stuff in your Bloglovin’ feed, but sometimes it can leave you feeling cold as you read about one aesthetically-perfect life after another. Luckily, there are other bloggers out there. They keep it real. They give a glimpse into their actual lives the way they actually are. And, most importantly, they write about what they want to write about, rather than just covering the next trending topic. Our very own Nicola shares her favourite ‘keeping it real’ bloggers. Are you ready? It’s girl crush time.

1.The Daily Tay

Taylor Wolfe lives in Chicago with the best dog ever. Her blog is funny and gives an insight into the lives of people just makin’ it work in one of the best cities in the world. She writes about animals and life as a freelancer, as well as whatever happens to be on her mind on any given day. Her Snapchat is also one of the only ones I properly follow. Oh, and there’s also the t-shirts. She’s just great in pretty much any medium.

2. The Bloggess

Not only does Jenny Lawson run a hilarious blog, but she’s also written two books, which have spent an absurdly long time in the Hew York Times best seller list (this is not absurd at all. They are both great.). She writes about dealing with mental illness, so-bad-it’s-great taxidermy, and her small menagerie of brilliantly-named animals, among other things. Whether she’s making me laugh or cry, she’s always on my ‘to read’ list.

3. Superlatively Rude

You might recognise Laura Jane Williams’ name from her recent book, ‘Becoming: Sex, Second Chances, and Figuring Out Who the Hell I Am‘. Or her Grazia column. She first gained my admiration with Superlatively Rude’s tagline, which is “Because none of us is fucking up like we think they we are, is what I’m trying to say”. That basically sums everything up really, doesn’t it? She’s getting shit done and she’s taking us along for the ride.

4. Girl Stole London

Around four weeks ago, Lauren Mahon was diagnosed with breast cancer. Her Instagram was always great anyway, but now she’s giving us all a glimpse as she navigates her treatment. She gives an insight into the bad days just as much as the good, which isn’t something you always see, and she’s absolutely kicking butt while she does it.

5. Roots and Refuge

If you’ve ever fantasised about jacking it all in, moving to the countryside, and growing your own, then Jessica Sowards is living the dream. And, as with anything, its a little bit rougher around the edges than Tom and Barbara from The Good Life always implied it would be. With Roots and Refuge, you get a warts-and-all insight into the modern homesteading lifestyle and everything that come with it. Plus, there’s loads of animal posts, and those are always fun.

6. Deliciously Stella

Bella Younger’s Instagram account is the antidote to all of the clean eating, fitspiration bloggers out there. Not that photos of avocado on toast aren’t great but, y’know, there’s more to life. Deliciously Stella raises a laugh through a heavy use of both sweets and puns, which are two of my favourite things. She also did an awesome show at this year’s Edinburgh Fringe, so you should keep an eye out for that in case it comes to town.

7. Humans of New York

It doesn’t get much realer than actual stories from the lives of everyday people. At Humans of New York, it’s members of the general public, rather than bloggers, that take centre stage. They post a picture of a random person every day, who then shares something about their life. Sometimes it’s uplifting, sometimes it’s tragic, sometimes it just makes you realise that you’re a garbage human being in comparison. But it’s always interesting.

…But HOW.

So. Real talk. Who is your favourite blogger? I’m always looking for great people to follow. And yes, I really am using this company blog post for my own personal gain. Because I am a professional like that.

 

Blogs. These days it seems like the world and his wife has one. They’re a great way to earn a bit of extra income, and can even lead to a full-time career. They’re a great way to show off your expertise and attract followers and job offers. But if you’ve never been in the blogging game before, what should you be thinking about before you begin your blog? We made a list of some of your key considerations:

 

1. Set a goal

Back in the day, the most common way to monetise a blog was to sell advertising space on your site. There’s less demand for that these days, so you need to be thinking differently. Is your aim to find clients through demonstrating your expertise? Perfect. Do you want to sell products through an online shop? Great. Basically, just know what you’re aiming to achieve. You don’t have to make the knowledge public, but it’s good to bear in mind.

2. Pick a niche and stick to it

The internet is packed with beautiful lifestyle blogs featuring minimalist design and perfectly-Instagrammed pictures of lattes. Unless you have something very different to add to that field, there’s not much to be gained from producing more of the same kind of content. The more specific your subject matter, the quicker you’ll find you rise above the noise. If you’ve got lots of passions, pick one. If you’re a dog groomer looking to attract new customers with your blog, keep your writing about dog grooming, rather than all of the cafes you visited when you went to Paris.

2.5 Know your audience

This is too similar to point 2 to warrant it’s own number. Once you’ve found your niche, you also need to know who you’re writing for. It’ll make it much easier to target your content. After all, you won’t get anywhere if your writing is littered with ‘LOLs’ and ‘YOLOs’ and hashtags and you’re writing a blog for retirees who like waterskiing (it could happen).

3. Don’t take shortcuts with your content

Yes, SEO is great. You need to understand it if you want to bring people to your site. But once you’ve got them there, they won’t hang around if the content isn’t great. And the chances of them making a repeat visit are even less likely. Once you’ve honed your SEO skills, they won’t really change, while reader expectations for great content will keep shifting. So make sure you’re keeping up with what’s trending in your field, and which kinds of articles are popular.

4. Don’t live your life by pageviews alone

It’s easy to get disheartened if your pageviews don’t match up to those of the superbloggers everyone knows and loves, but try to remember that that’s not the be-all and end-all. If you blog about the paintings that you sell and only have 10 followers, but they each spend £1000 on your art, that’s way more valuable than 1000 followers who don’t engage. So when you find yourself comparing yourself to other people (and you will), remember the goal you set yourself and chill out.

 

5. Get involved

It’s all very well to write a killer blog, but how will anybody know you’re doing it? If nothing else, you should be engaging with other bloggers in your area of interest by reading and constructively commenting on their posts. You’ll also need to be sharing your content on social media so at the very least a Facebook and Twitter account wouldn’t go amiss. If you’re creating business-related content, you might benefit from being on Linkedin, and if you’re all about fashion or lifestyle, Bloglovin’ is a great place to be. The benefit of social media is that you can do so much more than simply share your own content – you can discover new people to follow, join conversations, and maybe even pick up a few new contacts.

6. Keep it regular

You keep followers by being trustworthy. Once people have discovered that your blog is great and has the exact kind of content they’ve been looking to read, they want to know when to come back for the next pearl of wisdom. They’re not going to keep coming back if they’ve seen nothing new for three weeks, so you need to make sure you’re regularly rewarding them for their loyalty with brand new posts. It’s sometimes worth making clear on your ‘about’ page when new content is posted, or even starting a newsletter so people can have your latest material sent straight to their inboxes.

7. Have a great ‘About’ page

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Now that you know your audience, what you’re writing, how you plan to write it, and how often, you need to think about introducing yourself to your readers. Why should they trust what you have to say? Make sure your ‘About’ page lists all of the reasons that your readers should consider you to be an expert in your field: Do you have a lot of experience? Did you study the subject? Are you working in the industry you’re writing about? Have you won awards? If you’re learning as you write, that’s also good, it just helps to add context to what your saying if people know where you’re coming from.

8. Stick with it

Picture the scene: It’s been two months. You’ve been posting regularly, SEO-ing everything, writing high-quality and original content, and you’ve set yourself up with a shiny new Twitter account. But you’re not seeing much action. Don’t freak out, and do not quit. In those first few weeks when nobody’s heard of you and you’re struggling for followers, remember that Rome wasn’t built in a day. And neither are blogger reputations. It takes time to start getting noticed. Keep at it, and it’ll happen in the end.

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So, what will you be blogging about? We’d love to see once you’re up and running, and don’t forget to keep browsing HowNow to find some amazing experts who can help you along the way.