Lorna

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Your to-do list is always a work in progress. At the end of each day, you wonder why there’s still so much left to do. You can’t remember the last time you took a proper lunch break, and breakfast is something you eat at your desk.

I get it, your business is your baby. But that doesn’t mean you have to do everything yourself.

Those tasks that aren’t your strong point, the ones you spend ages deliberating over – you can take them out of the equation. You can invest in your business and pay someone who knows what they’re doing. And that includes hiring someone to write your content too. If writing isn’t your strong point, the thought of producing a weekly blog post won’t make you punch the air Team America stylee. Chances are, it either won’t get done, or you’ll be up until midnight staring at a blank word document frantically trying to come up with the goods. While you understand the importance of having a blog, you just don’t have the time to maintain it. Let’s face it, blogging is time-consuming and posting new content on a regular basis takes a certain kind of dedication. But luckily for you, you can pay someone to do it for you.

Last week I looked at why it’s important to have a blog for your business. This week, I wanted to share the benefits of hiring a professional blogger.

To save time

Blogging is time consuming. Researching, writing, editing and finding images – it all adds up, and producing one blog post can take hours. If writing isn’t your strong point, chances are, you could also end up sitting staring at a screen for hours, struggling to string together a coherent sentence. By hiring someone to write your content for you, it means you can spend your time working on other areas of your business.

To have a consistent posting schedule

When maintaining your blog isn’t your number one priority, it’s easy to let it fall by the wayside. Outsourcing to a professional means a new blog post will land in your inbox every week. Or if you prefer, uploaded straight to your blog. They can even be scheduled weeks in advance. There’ll be no faffing around, or last-minute panic because you’ve forgotten to write your weekly blog post – it’s in the bag! What you get is a consistent posting schedule which will leave your audience happy, rather than disappointed.

To have well written, knowledgeable articles

A professional blogger knows what information to include and what to leave out. And sometimes, an outsider can understand your business needs better than you can yourself. A blogger understands how to craft words, knows how to research properly, and will provide you with a professionally written article that’s grammatically correct and speaks directly to your audience.

It can save you time and money

That’s right, hiring someone to look after your content could save you money. If you’re a small business owner, chances are you’re either writing blog posts yourself or giving the task to an employee. This means that other areas of your business are being neglected. As mentioned earlier, producing a finished blog post can take hours – sometimes more if writing isn’t your strong point. This means removing a member of your team from their current role at least one day a week to complete this task. And even then, the finished article might not properly convey what you’re trying to say. Also, you don’t have to pay a blogger sick pay or holiday pay.

You’ll have original content

A professional blogger knows it’s not okay to copy work from other sources. This isn’t only limited to words, but includes copyrighted images as well. Taking information from another website hoping that someone won’t notice is a big no, no. A blogger knows how to research information, and then turn it into an original article that’s aimed at your target audience.

Final Thoughts

I realise the thought of someone else writing your content may feel a little scary, but with one less thing to worry about, you’ll wonder why you didn’t do is sooner. Apart from giving you the opportunity to spend more time on other areas of your business, you’ll get a consistent posting schedule with carefully crafted content for your target audience.

If you’re still undecided about hiring someone to write content for your blog, drop me a message and I’ll answer any questions you may have.

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With information so readily available, we walk around with the internet conveniently tucked away into our pockets. In just a few seconds we can be online accessing our favourite websites, and for many of us, we live in a world where we can now run a business from our mobile phone. The whole world is at our fingertips and you’d be crazy not to take advantage of it. If you’re a small business owner, chances are you’ve got a website, several social media accounts and possibly an online shop. But what about a blog? It’s probably something you’ve pondered over and possibly something you’ve even talked yourself out of, questioning if it’s worth the trouble. Well, the answer is yes – it is worth the trouble. Read on for 5 reasons why you should start a blog for your business.

To connect with your audience

A blog is a wonderful asset for your business. It’s the ideal online space where you can share relevant information with your customers and prospective customers. It’s a place where you can connect with your audience using more than 140 characters and include images too. You can share information not only about the benefits of your products or services but also snippets of real life. If you’re a small business, sharing a few personal stories that your audience can relate to is something that helps build trust. It helps customers get to know the real people behind the company.

To sell products and services

If you’re launching a new product or service, one of the best ways to promote it is to blog about it. Post sneaky peaks of what’s going on behind the scenes and get people intrigued. You can have a whole series of blog posts on the run up to the launch, and depending on the nature of your business, you could run a competition, a giveaway, or even promote an early bird price for the first few customers who sign up or purchase something.

To show your expertise

Having a blog is a good way to show your audience you know what you’re talking about. Whether you’re selling a service or a product, a blog is the perfect platform for you to share your knowledge and expertise. You can provide customers with all the information they’ll ever need about what you’re selling and answer questions they didn’t even know they had.

To build trust

Blogging on a regular basis, sharing your knowledge, and keeping your content fresh and relevant, all help build trust between you and your customers/potential customers. Even if you only produce one blog post per week, people come to expect it and will return on a regular basis to read what you have to say.

To win more clients

If you produce regular content for your blog, you’ll get potential customers more likely to buy from you. You’ve gained their trust, shown them you’re an expert in your field and you’ve given them important information about your products and services. The next logical step is to either make a purchase or point other potential clients in your direction.

Final Thoughts

Success with your blog won’t happen overnight. But then it’s not about a race to the finish line, it’s about turning up on a regular basis, getting your message out there and building trust with your audience. It’s about giving people the opportunity to understand what you’re all about, learn about your ethics as a company and find out relevant information about your products and services.

Next week, I’ll be looking at why hiring someone to write your blog content could help your business and also save you money.

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My First Adventure of 2017 – Walking Jenkin Crag

Walking up the windy road of Skelghyll Lane I snuggled down into my scarf, then zipped up my coat as far as it would go. I pulled my gloves over my fingers and then immediately reached into my pockets to find my mittens. Ian looked at me and shook his head. I laughed and gave him a high pitched ‘what?’ all the time struggling to get my mittens on over my gloves. It was the 2nd of January and we were embarking on our first adventure of the year. It was cold. I let out a loud over-dramatic ‘oh no!’ as I realised I’d forgotten my earmuffs – something I forget every time I go anywhere they might actually be needed. But as cold as it was, this would be my preference over chiselling plaster, ripping up floorboards and anything else related to renovating a house.

Views of Windermere

Continuing up the tarmacked road we were protected by the trees as they stood tall, meeting in the middle to form an apex. It wasn’t something we needed, it was cold enough without the added shelter. Striding upwards we caught glimpses of blue sky through the leaves and then eventually, as the foliage thinned out we were greeted with views of Lake Windermere off in the distance. This is one of my favourite spots to stop and take photos, and just like anywhere in the Lakes, the view can vary depending on the weather and time of year. Today, the landscape was a mix of browns and greens and the water looked cold and icy as it lay nestled between the countryside. Looking down at the boats on the water I shuddered – it wasn’t something that held much appeal on such a cold and wintry day. I passed my camera to Ian as I battled once again with my gloves and my mittens. With my camera now safely packed away and my hands snuggly protected, we turned our attention away from the water and back towards our walk.

Skelghyll Woods & Jenkin Crag

Continuing up Skelghyll Lane we reached the sign for Skelghyll Woods. Although it had been frozen first thing that morning the track through the woods was surprisingly damp. But hidden underneath all that foliage, I shouldn’t have been surprised. To the right, we ignored the pathway leading through the ferns and decided to stay on the main track instead. We followed it straight through the woodland, clambering upwards over tree roots and mud until we reached a gap in the wall on the right-hand side. Passing through the hole we climbed up the rocks and found ourselves stood on top of Jenkin Crag, looking down on Lake Windermere for the second time that day. A short distance from Ambleside, it’s a popular spot for walkers. Some people walk up here just for the view and then make their return, while others use it as a place to grab their lunch before continuing on their way. Today, arriving in the Lakes a little later than planned we did the latter. Acknowledging a couple already enjoying the view, we bypassed them and found ourselves a rock a bit further down, cracked open our jamwiches and looked at the canvas laid out before us. The lake was still with only the occasional ripple, as a single boat went speeding through the icy looking water. Most of the trees were bare, apart from a few immediately in front of us where crisp, orange leaves clung to the branches, refusing to believe they should be on the ground already.

By the time we were ready to leave, the couple who were there before us had already left – but it didn’t take us long to catch them up. We played a game of cat and mouse, taking it in turns to overtake one another. It was only when I stopped to take some photos that I realised they were catching us up, and if it wasn’t for that they would have continued meandering along behind us. After they overtook us for the second time I realised they weren’t in any hurry. They were quietly talking, stopping occasionally to look at the view and then eventually, they sat down in silence on a nearby bench to appreciate the landscape. It was at this point I became aware of the fact I’d been striding along in my usual determined manner. Yes, I’d stopped to take a few photos here and there, but in between, neither of us had stopped to admire our surroundings. I pointed this out to Ian and then immediately turned to look at the countryside in all its glory. There were stone walls, wire fences and wooden gates, tarmacked paths leading through undulating farmland, trees standing strong on the hillside and sheep scattered throughout the fields. The sky was blue with barely a cloud in sight and the wintry sun hung low in the afternoon sky. Life was good.

We stood for a few moments breathing in the cold January air, looking around at the world before us. Having the attention span of a goldfish, it didn’t take me long to decide we should continue on our way. We followed the path through the rolling hillside and as we approached two wooden gates we stopped for a moment. I’d love to say it was to appreciate more of the countryside, but unfortunately, it was so we could decide in which direction we should be heading. After spending a couple of minutes watching people come and go we decided it was the right-hand gate, and as we passed through it were met by a sturdy looking tree standing alone on top of a hill. A lone tree is one of my favourite things to photograph, so much to Ian’s dismay I asked him once again to get my camera out of my bag. He stood there with his bored husband look spread across his face while I found myself lost in the moment. Over many years of standing around waiting for me to take a photo, it’s a look he’s perfected down to a tee.

I decided to keep my camera out for a while to save all the stopping, starting and bag rummaging, and once again we continued our way. We weaved our way around farm houses and tracks, walked carefully along narrow roads, all while dodging cars and other walkers along the way. When we started to descend a particularly rocky trackway, I decided it was time to put my camera away and once again Ian started rummaging in my backpack, making sure my equipment was secure.

Brockholes Visitor Centre

If you’re familiar with the Jenkin Crag walk, you’ll know that the guidebooks suggest walking down into Brockholes – which is something we’ve never done. We always turn right off the track and head through the woods, but today we decided to take the detour. It was a narrow, soggy pathway only just wide enough for a single person, so as we met other walkers coming in the opposite direction, we found ourselves squidging up close to the stone wall trying to make as much room as possible. When we reached the bottom of the track we headed out through a gate, which two girls coming in the opposite direction carelessly left open. Looking like they should have known better, they made no attempt to shut it. Rule No. 1 of the countryside – never leave a gate open. As we turned left along the concrete path we soon reached a road and both had a hand to forehead moment when we realised where we were: Brockholes Visitor Centre. Passing it on the main road every time we go to Ambleside, neither of us had made the connection. It was full of families with kids playing in the high wire tree tops, so we had no intention of staying – only long enough to drink a cup of tea, eat a snack and use the toilet. With an empty bladder and replenished with food we found our way back up to the woods. We traipsed through the damp and earthy woodland, jumped over a stream and then found ourselves on a narrow grass track between fields of sheep. Striding along in single file and squinting against the afternoon sun, we soon found ourselves at the kissing gate behind The Low Wood Bay Hotel. We’ve passed over the field here many times over the years, but now, apparently, the right of way had changed. The hotel is expanding, and the footpath that leads from the back of the hotel through to the front is no longer accessible to walkers. Instead, we must walk round. But being a walker, having already covered nearly 5 miles, that’s not really a biggie – right?

So, we continued on, walking along the field looking at the trenches and passing by huge diggers that hadn’t started work yet after the Christmas break. After nearly losing our footing a few times, and sinking into various parts of the ground, we made it safely back to the road. This time, the traffic was queuing the other way and we waited patiently as day trippers and holiday makers crawled at a snail’s pace trying to get out of Ambleside. The afternoon sun started to waiver and with it, so did the temperature. It was the perfect time for us to be heading back to the car. When we finally arrived at the car park it was only half full and I imagined the recently departed cars now crawling along the road, queuing in traffic on their way out of the town.

As we pulled out of the car park I snuggled down into the passenger seat, suitably satisfied with our first adventure of the year. And although we ended up in the line of traffic with everyone else, I had to be grateful that I wasn’t stuck at home chiselling plaster or ripping up floorboards. They were all things that could wait until tomorrow.

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What Shapes Us?

The older I get, the more I find myself pondering over questions about life: what do I want, what’s holding me back, what helped shape me into the person I am? And to be honest, it was only recently that I realised how much of my childhood contributed to where I find myself today.

Family

Growing up, I didn’t realise how lucky I was. My parents were fans of family days out and always encouraged me and my brother to spend time outdoors. There were the days when we would stay local, visit a park, play football or have a go at crazy golf. Then there were the more adventurous days where we would visit the seaside or climb a mountain. And then, there were the days when dad would have random surprises planned and wouldn’t tell us where we were going until we were nearly there. Like the time he took us to visit the grave of Little John, followed by a trip to Nottingham so we could explore the alleged home of Robin Hood and his Merry Men. These were the type of days when he would also decide to take us all on a walk. The days where we would end up in a field of bulls and he would reassure us that everything would be okay – if we kept walking slowly and didn’t make any sudden movements of course. These were the days where I would be windswept, running through a field (minus the bulls) as fast as my legs could carry me, playing chase with my older brother and mimicking every movement he made because I knew it would annoy him.

Even on the cold and rainy days, we were never encouraged to sit inside in front of the TV. Instead, the opposite was true. We were encouraged to either wrap up warm or put on a cagoule and make friends with adventure – and the weather. Holidays were the same. My parents have cine-film footage of me running along the beach at Burnham-on-Sea waving my fishing net around while it was hail stoning. There was never a dull day on a Wild family holiday. Some of my happiest memories are of me clambering over boulders at the seaside and searching rock pools, looking for crabs and anything else that may have survived after the tide had made its retreat. One year, when I was in my early teens and my brother felt he was too old to come on holiday with us, I took a friend instead. She whined and moaned relentlessly. It was too cold, it was too wet and she felt car sick. She didn’t like the things we were doing or the food we were eating and apart from the day my dad slipped in some mud, she didn’t crack a smile all week. She complained the whole time and my mum described it as one of the worst holiday’s she’s ever had. But regardless of my friend’s incessant whining, we still didn’t let her – or the weather – dictate our holiday. It wasn’t necessarily that she was a bad person, she’d just had a completely different upbringing and wasn’t use to our way of living.

Then there were my grandparents, who always seemed to be off with their caravan somewhere. They used to go on holiday to far-away places like Yugoslavia, and return home with photos of them wandering around in the sunshine. And at a weekend, my grandma would turn up with homemade jam tarts, chocolate cake and caramel slices – which now makes me see where my love of baking comes from.

As the years progressed, and I left home, my sense of outdoor adventure continued. There were camping trips, woodland walks and hiking up mountains; I found myself bungy jumping, sky diving and rock climbing. I believe it was a very wise man who said, ‘There’s no such thing as bad weather, only unsuitable clothing.’

The Early Years

But it wasn’t just being outdoors that turned me into the person I am. My parents taught me morals and values and to have respect for others. To play on the field instead of kicking a ball near people’s cars and houses. To share, to take it in turns when playing with toys and to be kind to others. My mum spent afternoons with me before I started school, teaching me to read, write and count. I was taught to stand up for myself and not let anybody take advantage of me. And although letting me watch TV gave mum half-an-hour or so to do some housework, it was by no means a way of keeping me quiet all day. It was an after-dinner treat. I remember staring at the clock on the wall, waiting for the hands to fall into place and getting excited because it was nearly time for Finger Mouse or Willo the Wisp. But as soon as it was over, she would switch the TV off and we would do something else. There were many hours spent potato printing, drawing or making things out of pastry. We lived on a tight-knit street where everyone knew each other and as I got older, I was encouraged to mix with the other kids, play out on bikes, go roller skating and generally spend time outdoors. Now, I live on a street where the family across the road have their TV on all day, every day. I just want to go over and scream at them to take their kids outside, to play with them and introduce them to nature.

Friends

It’s not only our family who are responsible for helping us to grow, it’s the friends we keep as well. They introduce us to new ideas that don’t necessarily match those from our family unit and they help us to decide what traits we like and dislike in others. Growing up I had multiple groups of friends and found myself having to choose. Which friends served me, shared the same set of values, supported me and lifted me up? And which friends put me down, always had something to complain about and fuelled my life with negativity? I had to decide what was important to me and in which direction I wanted my life to go. What baggage did I need to eliminate and what would help shape me to become the person I wanted to be? For me, walking away from my best friend of 16 years was the only option I could see. My life would have taken a completely different route had I not made that decision, and I wouldn’t be the person I am today.

Relationships

Good or bad, they’re a part of life and just like with friendships, they either lift us up or drag us down. Unfortunately, love isn’t always straightforward and relationships can sometimes make us lose sight of our moral values. As time goes on and beliefs start to merge, it can be easy to forget who you are and what’s important to you. In the past, I wasn’t always supported in my crazy dreams and I found myself being put down for wanting something more. I had to do a lot of soul searching, and decide whether to lock my dreams away through fear of not being good enough or go ahead and push through regardless. I chose the latter. When an ex-boyfriend repeatedly told me I wouldn’t be able to stand in front of a class and teach aerobics, I went ahead and proved him wrong. The fact that he told me I couldn’t do it only made me want it more, and growing up I’d always been taught to stand up for myself.

Final Thoughts

Now that I look back over the years, it’s easy to see what helped mould me into the person I am. The years where I was encouraged to read and write, draw and paint, wrap up warm and spend time outdoors – they had more of an impact than I realised. And the older I get, the more everything makes sense. The quiet time I like to spend with a book and the hours where I can lose myself crafting words – they stem from the early years when I was first introduced to them. My sense of adventure and my love of the great outdoors, it was a seed that was planted which continued to grow. And as much as I loved my childhood adventures of exploring castles and rock pools, I think along with my grandparents, it’s also the thing that made me so determined to explore other countries as I got older.  I always knew there was more to see.

There are many things that shape us and help mould us into the person we become. And just like me, if you take some time to look back through the years, I’m sure you’ll find plenty of aha moments as things fall into place. Whether it was the first time you held a paintbrush or the first time you did a handstand, you might be surprised at what you find.

For me, it’s become abundantly clear that these are the things that helped shaped me.

What shaped you?

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