Work-Life Balance – What Does that Really Mean?

Work-Life Balance – What Does that Really Mean?

Work-Life Balance: lately an over-used phrase that is used to explain that human beings require a stability or an equilibrium between work and their personal life. In the media, work-life balance has been portrayed as an impossible notion – workers need to be forever accessible, connected to their work for fear of losing their jobs or their clients.  

In a Harvard Business School survey, it has been noted that 94% of workers reported that they worked more than 50 hours per week and nearly half said that they worked closer to 65 hours per week. The media goes on to talk about how stress and mental health issues are also arising out of the lack of work-life balance which consequently affects happiness, relationships and health.

When we turn our heads to the balancing factor in work-life balance, we are encouraged to spend time with our children, husbands, friends and of course, to practice “me” time; go to the gym, go for a walk, get a manicure, practice yoga, treat yourself to a day at the spa…and this is done with the intention that we don’t burn out.

As a wife, mother and business-owner, I often revisit this notion of work-life balance – what does it mean to me specifically and my thoughts on this overused, and in my opinion misunderstood phrase. 

“Work” Has an Inherent Negative Connotation

For whatever reason, whenever used, “work” comes with a negative implication suggesting that individuals require the “life” aspect as a means to balance their “work” life. Yes, I agree it is important to spend time with your loved ones, to break away from your computer or your phone and to enjoy your surroundings. That is a practice that needs to be embedded in our everyday life…and not just as a means to balance work and life; but as a means to practice healthy habits. We are all connected to our screens, to emails and iMessages and as a result, we miss out. 

When talking specifically about taking time for yourself as a way to achieve a healthy work-life balance, I have to ask: could it be possible that “work life” provides a healthy balance to one’s personal life?

As a mom of two young children, here is what evenings and weekends look like: cooking, cleaning, grocery shopping, changing diapers, bottle feeding my youngest, meal preparation for my eldest, baths, approximately 2-3 outfit changes daily, nap times, activities and then about a 1-2 hour bed time fiasco involving “no”, “more water”, “another story”, “cuddle more”… and the list goes on. 

When Sunday night rolls around, Monday morning isn’t looking so bad. I love my children with all of my heart, but let’s be honest – being a parent is a job in itself…sometimes two!

…this leads me to my next point. 

It Takes a Village

For women who have children and also work and contribute to a two-income household (even moreso for single mothers – all the power to you!), there is an inherent desire to provide for the family, not to miss out on important events, but also to practice that “me” time – fitness, quiet time, whatever it may be. Rarely do articles mention what exactly needs to be in place in order to accomplish this.

In our home, my husband is beyond helpful, our nanny is god-sent, our parents play a vital role, half-day nursery is essential and time management is a MUST. Needless to say, there must be a method to the madness… we work hard to play an integral part of our family and we both value our work life, as well as our personal life.

Healthy Habits

More so than a push to practice a healthy work-life balance, I would stress that it is important to set healthy boundaries and implement healthy habits in your life – in whatever way works best for you. 

Here are some of my top tips:

  • Set boundaries between work time and personal time – it is OK to disconnect
  • You are allowed to put family first 
  • You are ALSO allowed to prioritize your work as well
  • Time block 
  • Take time for your relationships – friendships, marriages, etc.
  • Consider what success looks like in your work life, personal life as well as your relationships?
  • Identify what specifically is important to you and take the time to practice that – whether it be a work objective or personal objective 

…last but not least… try to find a job that doesn’t feel like WORK! When you truly love what you do, it doesn’t!

Photo Editing Tools for Instagram

Photo Editing Tools for Instagram

I know what you’re thinking. Doesn’t Instagram already have built-in photo editing tools? Yes. Absolutely. But if you want take your Instagram game to the next level and do like the pros do, consider expanding your photo editing ambitions just a little bit. 

The following list includes the top editing apps used by social media managers and Instagram stars alike to craft eye-catching, flawless images for their feeds.

  1. Darkroom – This app is as close as you can get to having a Photoshop-level editing program on your smartphone. Darkroom gives users complete control over every aspect of the photo editing process. With this app you have best the chance of creating images that are totally unique to your vision and style. In terms of ease of use, Darkroom is a middle of the pack kind of app. There are plenty of features to keep more savvy users happy, while still offering enough preset filters to help less tech-savvy users produce equally stunning images. Photographers will love this app. 
  1. PicTapGo – As the name implies, PicTapGo is ideal for users on the go. This app is a great fit for people who are pressed for time but still want the option of cropping, filters, lens effects like soft focus, and so on. There 70 filters that come built-in, but if that’s not enough to satisfy, you can opt to purchase an expansion pack. Stand-out features include the ability to control the strength of applied filters and stack filters on top of each other. 
  1. Snapseed – New to photo editing but willing to learn? Snapseed is the app for you. The pop-up tips and guides included in the app give users just the right amount of hand-holding to achieve photo editing mastery. There is a little bit of a learning curve with this tool, but once you get the hang of it, there is plenty of fun to be had with features like filters, perspective, glamour glow, tuning, brushing and more (29 in total). It even allows RAW file editing and exporting to JPEG when you’re ready to post. 
  1. VSCO – If you want poppin’ pics without having to buckle down with learning the specifics of photo editing, VSCO is the tool for you. It is well-regarded among many social media gurus as user-friendly but high-quality. VSCO gives users a massive range of preset filters that do all of the work for you. This app is a great choice if you want your images to have a film-like quality. VSCO also has mobile video editing capabilities. Editing newbies are encouraged to give this tool a go.

Photo editing does not have to be scary or intimidating when you have apps like these at your disposal. Use these tools to your tailor your Instagram feed to reflect your personality and stand out from the crowd. Let your creativity run wild. 

For even more insider tips on how to upgrade your Instagram presence and other social media bites of wisdom, check out the other posts on our blog! 

The Secret to Smarter Hashtags

The Secret to Smarter Hashtags

When used with a little extra thought put into them, hashtags can greatly improve your visibility. Smarten up your hashtag strategy with these top tips. 

Go Public, or Go Home

This is a bit of common sense advice that can slip your mind if you’re not too familiar with the privacy settings on your account. For marketing purposes and growing a following you will need to make sure your social media accounts are set to public, not private so that new followers can find you!

Hiding Hashtags on Instagram

Instagram is a visual platform. The focus needs to remain on the image content of your posts. Your caption should be directly connected to the image. Instead of crowding the caption space with hashtags, make a separate comment on your post containing the hashtags. This allows you to gain the benefit of your posts appearing in those tags without cluttering your caption space. 

Change It Up

Copying and pasting the same batch of hashtags for all of your posts is easy, sure, but it is also limiting. Using the same hashtags repeatedly limits your exposure to those hashtags alone. It also gives viewers the impression of complacency. If you want to show your audience that you are engaged and “listening” so to speak, cycle through a variety of hashtags on your posts. Not only will you expose your content to a larger group of people, you will also create a feed that lets followers know you’re there and ready to engage with them. 

Quality Over Quantity

Could you litter your posts with every hashtag under the sun? Yes. Will that tactic get you a lot of likes? Probably. BUT, it can also reek of greediness. When you’re doing it right, social media isn’t about collecting likes. It’s about creating engagement. Followers who eventually become customers are genuinely interested in your content. These are the people who you should be trying to engage. So, focus your net.

Choose your hashtags carefully. Make them specific and relevant to your posts. Using hashtags that are smaller in scope, but more closely connected to your content will increase the likelihood it will be seen by real people who also have a personal connection to that topic. 

Emotive Hashtags

Humans are emotional creatures. As consumers we find it easy to connect with content that has an emotional element. Incorporate an emotional element into your hashtags. Think about the moods and feelings evoked by the topics you’re posting about, and create hashtags with this in mind. 

Become an Early Adopter

Every second a new hashtag is born. Sometimes those hashtags become viral sensations. Keep an eye on the trending lists of hashtags so you can hop on the bandwagon when it’s still fresh and new. Viral hashtags can be great for exposure if you use them early enough in their rise to the top. Use them too late and you’ll look like you’re just following the crowd. 

A Hashtag Just for You

Ultimately hashtags are a filtering tool. They make it easier for users to find content they are interested in. Make it easy for your followers to find your content by creating hashtags that fit your niche. You can also use unique hashtags to organize your content. Remember to include any hashtags that are unique to your content and brand in your bio. 

Want to learn more about how social media can help your business grow? Contact us! We have a roster of social media and marketing experts ready to help your businesses thrive online. 

Why You Should Be Blogging

Why You Should Be Blogging

It seems like these days everyone has a blog, and there’s a good reason for that. When it comes to online advertising, blogging is a vital resource for convertible leads. If you’ve been thinking about starting a blog but hesitant to take the plunge, here are a few big benefits for your consideration:

Drive Visitors to Your Webpage

The more high quality content that can be linked to your web presence, the better. Think about topics, questions or solutions that will resonate with your target audience. When these customers are searching the internet in need of help, your blog could be the resource they turn to. Maximize the chances of potential customers finding your business by posting evergreen content that offers actionable advice. 

Show Off Your Subject Matter Expertise

Your customers are shrewd and discerning. Before they can trust you to deliver the goods, they need to know that you are an expert in your field. Blogging gives you a cost effective platform to share your subject matter expertise. If your blog posts offer real, well-researched information readers are more likely to trust your ability to provide a satisfactory product. Your blog is a great place to offer readers the kind of insider information only learned through years being on the job. For instance, the owner of a landscaping company might post seasonal tips for dealing with pests and insects.

Increase Engagement From Customers and Followers

Posting consistently on your blog will help you stay top of mind with your followers. While your followers may not always require your products and services, but when they do need them your company should be the first option they think of. The valuable content posted to your blog will encourage readers to see your company as a resource for quality advice. 

Within the blog posts themselves be sure to include your contact information and hyperlinks to other areas of your website like your services page, about page, and any additional high-value content like eBooks and newsletters. 

For more expert tips on how to get the most out of your online presence, check our other blog posts! Better yet, contact us directly to get specific advice on how to take your web advertising strategy to the next level. 

Becoming a “Thought Leader” in Your Niche

Becoming a “Thought Leader” in Your Niche

Are you an expert in your field? Share that knowledge with your followers and grow your reputation among industry leaders with our top tips. 

What Makes a Thought Leader Special?

The term “thought leader” was first coined to recognize industry leaders with a knack for problem-solving. Thought leaders are the go-to experts. They share their knowledge freely and often take young up-and-comers under their wing. They are insightful innovators propelling their industries towards a better future. 

Share Your Know-How

To be recognized as a thought leader you will first need to prove your worth. Forget your certificates, degrees and resume, this is all about the real world advice you have to share. This is about the kind of know-how you can only develop through years and years of actually doing the job. 

To be an authority in your niche, you’ll need to start by thinking about your industry peers. What tips and advice do you have that your peers would be able to verify and connect with to some degree? 

Avoid talking to your readers as if they are completely ignorant. Start with building an audience among your peers and then expand and tailor your content for the layperson as you grow your brand. 

Diversify Your Products and Services

People consume content in different ways. Some prefer watching videos, while others prefer listening to podcasts or reading. How you share your knowledge with the world is up to you, but just make sure you give your followers plenty of options. 

Take a look at the catalogues of some of the most successful thought leaders out there. People like Amy Porterfield, Dave Ramsey and Christy Wright all offer a variety of ways to benefit from their expertise and consume their content.

Here are few distribution options to explore:

  • Blogging
  • eBooks
  • podcasts
  • online courses and workshops
  • YouTube videos and Facebook Live shows 
  • Apps, browser extensions and mobile tools

Trends and You: Post Timely Insights

Maintain your relevance in your industry as a whole by sharing your insights on timely topics and newsworthy events. Not only will you reach more people by creating content on timely topics, but you’ll also establish yourself as a resource for useful information. 

The internet has a short memory, so if you want to stay relevant make both posting frequency and crafting high-quality content your top priorities. 

Looking for some personalized advice on how to shape your brand into an authority in your field? Contact us today. We have a whole team of web marketing experts standing by to share their expertise with subject matter experts just like you!

Recent Algorithm Changes: Facebook and Instagram

Recent Algorithm Changes: Facebook and Instagram

In 2018, some of your favourite social media platforms have given their algorithms a much needed update. Facebook and Instagram have rolled out their changes with the hopes of improving user experience by focusing on what their users are actually interested in. 

Facebook Algorithm Changes

The updates to Facebook’s algorithm are placing a higher importance on what the company calls “meaningful interactions.” Users will be presented with more high quality content that focuses on posts from accounts with which users most frequently interact. The ultimate goal is to reduce spamming and increase the prevalence of content from family and friends. 

What Brands Need to Know

  • Posts that rely on engagement-baiting will see a decrease in views. 
  • Comments, shares and reactions will boost visibility for posts, while clicks, hovering and views will not register as active interactions in Facebook’s algorithm. 
  • Brands should be posting content that aims to make a genuine connection with audiences as opposed to begging for “likes.” 
  • Facebook Live videos have been shown to create meaningful interactions among users, so brands will be rewarded for posts with more live video content where viewers can connect with each other through commenting and posting reactions. 
  • Create Facebook Groups to tap into your niche and provide your followers a space to share and discuss the topics that are important to them. 

Instagram Algorithm Changes

According to Instagram, the new algorithm features a few key traits: 

  1. Interest – Instagram will take your past behaviour into consideration and show you more of the type of content you have “liked” in the past. 
  2. Timeliness – More recent pictures will appear higher in your feed. 
  3. Relationship – If you frequently comment on posts by certain accounts or if you’re frequently tagged in posts by specific accounts, Instagram will include more posts from these accounts on your feed. 
  4. Frequency – The more you open Instagram throughout the day, the higher the chance that the algorithm will show you posts in a more chronological order. Less frequent users are more likely to see posts that Instagram believes these users will “like.”
  5. Usage – Those who spend less time on Instagram will only see highlights from the day on their feeds. Heavy Instagram users will experience a feed filled with more fresh content.
  6. Following – Instagram will show you posts from a selection of accounts if you are following a large number of people, which means if you want to reduce the dilution of posts you will either have to mute some accounts or unfollow them. The posts in your feed will be curated by the app.

What Brands Need to Know

  • Changing a personal account to a business account will not get your account more views. 
  • Videos will no longer be prioritized. 
  • Using Instagram Live or posting more Instagram Stories will no longer result in more views. 
  • Posting too often will not hurt your ranking in feeds. 
  • Shadow banning is not part of the algorithm, so your posts will not be hidden for using too many hashtags. 

For more hot tips on managing your social media presence, check out the other posts on our blog.