Style tips that don’t go out of fashion

The beginning of a new year is a great time to think about how you want to look. Give your wardrobe a refresh and ensure you’ve got clothes that work for your lifestyle and make you feel good. Here are a few of my simple styling tips to help you smash 2017.

Wear colour

Styled by Lucy personal fashion stylist

As a Personal Stylist I am always telling my clients about the importance of colour. Wearing the right colours for your skin tone, hair and eye colouring can instantly make you look younger, more radiant and healthier by diminishing lines, blemishes and dark circles, bringing definition to your features and defining your bone structure.

So many men and women opt for black as it is the safe option, goes with everything, think it makes them look slimmer and doesn’t show the dirt. However not everyone can wear black. It can be draining, cast shadows and have a negative and ageing impact. I think black can be boring and dull – if I am wearing black on my top half I will usually glam up with a slick of red lipstick, add statement jewellery or a bright accessory. Most Personal Stylists offer colour analysis as part of their services if you want to find out your most flattering colour palette. Wear colour and shine!

Dress for your body shape

I love fashion and follow the latest trends but I know that not every look will work for me. The high fashion trends we see on the catwalks always diffuse down to the high street in a more wearable look but they still aren’t for everyone. I strongly believe in style over fashion and dressing for your body shape.

Styled by Lucy personal fashion stylist
Body shapes (left to right): round; rectangle; inverted triangle; triangle; hourglass

Look at your figure, identify your body shape and recognise your best bits to draw attention to and the areas you want to distract from. Don’t be governed by fashion, only wear the trends that are flattering for your figure.

If you love it, buy it!

When personal shopping I always have a plan of action, a list of what my client needs and a targeted approach but actually I’m all for impulse buying too. Sometimes you just spot an item and know it is right for you, in which case if you love it and can afford it, definitely buy it. Most of my favourite things have been bought on impulse, snapped up instantly with no regrets as I know it’s ‘so me’.

If you love it, wear it!

Don’t keep clothes for best. Think of how you can work the items you love and been complimented on into your every day wardrobe. You deserve to feel fantastic all the time so style them up for any occasion. Dress down your favourite dress with a denim shirt over the top. Team those killer heels you bought for your Christmas night out with jeans and a jumper. Wear that summer dress you love also in the colder months layered with tights, boots and a leather jacket. Think about making your wardrobe work harder and wearing your favourite clothes in different ways.

Show your personality

Styled by Lucy personal fashion stylist

Does your style reflect who you are? If you are stuck in a style rut and need inspiration think of a celeb or someone you know whose style you admire and look at what they wear and how they put together an outfit. Pinterest and Instagram are a great source for style inspiration. Also consider making an appointment with a Personal Stylist. They are no longer just for the rich and famous and will save you time and money in the long run by teaching you how to dress for your colour and shape and avoid making fashion mistakes in the future. They will pass on tips and styling hacks to freshen up what you already have in your wardrobe too.

Add interest to your outfits

Look at how you can implement updates to the clothes you already have in your wardrobe and show your personal style. Experiment with different ways to wear your clothes.

Play with cuffs: roll up sleeves to show off your wrists, a flattering part of a woman’s body and show off bracelets. It’s also fun to layer different sleeve lengths in colder months.

Play with collars: colour on coats and jackets can frame your face or undo an extra button on your shirt to open up the neckline and reveal your décolletage or a layer underneath.

Styled by Lucy personal fashion stylist

Half tuck your tops: tucking a t-shirt in on one side is a way of adding a little definition to your shape and creates a relaxed look.

Turn up your jeans: experiment with cuff thickness depending on the style of jeans and the shoes you are wearing.

Wear your accessories

Styled by Lucy personal fashion stylist

In my opinion jewellery doesn’t get worn enough. So many of my clients have beautiful items stored away never to be seen. When I ask why, they say it’s either too special or stored in a way that it is forgotten about and not considered when putting an outfit together. Belts are a great way to tie a look together and highlight your waist. Scarves add a pop of colour or a different texture and can be worn in so many different ways. Quality accessories can make a budget outfit look expensive and unique. If you pay attention to the details you’ll achieve a high-end look for a fraction of the price.


Lucy Eastment is a Personal Stylist who lives in Bristol with her husband and two children (aged 4 and 2). She runs her own business Styled By Lucy and works with men and women of all sizes, shapes, ages and lifestyles using colour analysis, wardrobe consultation and personal shopping. Lucy offers simple solutions for everyday style problems and inspires her clients to look good and feel good, even when juggling family, work and social life.

Lucy’s career story…

“I was a PA for many years but when I returned to the office after maternity leave I decided it wasn’t for me and if I was going to be away from my gorgeous babies I wanted to be doing a job I loved. I was always a wannabe fashionista keeping an eye on trends and I was often asked by friends, colleagues and even strangers in the street about my style and where I bought my clothes so I looked into a career change as a Personal Stylist. I trained with Style Me Training Academy in London, following that I became the Bristol based Personal Stylist for Style Me and have since launched Styled By Lucy. I absolutely love my job and feel so lucky that I have found a vocation that I am passionate about.”

Lucy on social media…

“I have found that potential clients look at websites to find out about services and prices but they want to know more about you and see your personal style before they book. I have a website and Facebook page but it is Instagram that has really helped me grow my business. I use Instagram to show my own personal style and Instagram Stories when I’m out and about to show great buys I come across when I’m out and about in the shops or looking online. I find selfie taking all a bit cringe but I’ve had great feedback from my Instagram page and I’ve been told by clients that my visuals are why they have chosen to book with me rather than other Personal Stylists in Bristol.

Lots of my clients use Whatsapp to keep in touch with me. If they are out shopping or trying on outfits at home and aren’t sure about something then they’ll ping me a photo for advice. Likewise if see a killer outfit I know would suit a certain person I will snap it and send via Whatsapp instantly. It is a great way to connect again with previous clients and easily show them new looks and how to update their wardrobe whilst I’m on the go.”


Lucy is following…

Chloe Loves to Shop

@chloelovestoshop: “My Instagram fashion crush is west London fashion blogger Chloe, a classy mum of three who shares her daily outfits. I love how she mixes high street with designer. Her Instagram Stories are full of good buys and a glimpse into her world which is the reason I look at her Instagram account every day.”

Selfish Mother Molly Gunn Fmly Store

@selfishmother: “Molly Gunn mother of two with another on the way is the founder and editor of selfishmother.com blogzine, sells #goodtees through thefmlystore.com to raise funds for charity and is a freelance journalist. The super mum has also recently opened The FMLY Store a funky shop in Bruton, Somerset selling her iconic slogan clothes and other lifestyle and homeware brands and hosting events. I have paid the shop a visit and loved the vibe and the welcoming family feel.”

Elena Perminova model russian

@lenaperminova: “I follow Russian model, socialite and mother of three Elena Perminova for style inspiration but mainly for extraordinary luxe life ogling. She flaunts her lifestyle and wealth with a feed of dreamy couture dresses and exotic family holidays. Elena is the founder of the first global Instagram charity auction for her childrens charity @SOS_by_lenaperminova with donations from fashion houses and her high profile friends.”


Lucy’s work

styledbylucy.com
instagram.com/styled_by_lucy
facebook.com/styledbylucy1

Solving the work puzzle

Meet Anna Ives, owner of HR Puzzle, an independent HR consultancy. Anna’s story is strangely similar to mine in many ways – she took redundancy from a career job whilst pregnant and then struggled to find flexible employment post-baby. The frustration we collectively feel as women in this regard seems to be having positive outcomes however. Firstly, women are campaigning harder than ever to achieve flexible working rights for all (not just mums and dads), and secondly it’s breeding a new generation of female entrepreneurs, surely something to be celebrated? Anna’s new company offers support, advice and assistance to those very women.

What led you to setup your HR consultancy?

Picture the scenario, you’ve just found out you are pregnant, you feel amazingly happy, scared, excited and in shock all at the same time. You’ve made the decision to only tell your family and a few close friends before your first scan and you’ll tell your employer after that. Then you get called into a meeting at work and are told the life changing news (at any time, let alone when pregnant) that you are being made redundant.

That’s precisely the situation I faced just over two years ago. I literally couldn’t believe it. I had worked at the insurance company in question for about two and a half years as a HR Business Partner. I had graduated with a BA in Business and HR and started my first role as a HR Assistant 10 years prior. I had experience in working in a number of different sectors such as the NHS, education and local government, as well as large national and multinational private companies across IT and communications, insurance and service provider consultancies. I even went back to university to gain a Masters in HR Management (studying part-time, while working full-time) and I’m a Chartered Member of the Chartered Institute of Personnel Development (CIPD).

What was I going to do? I didn’t want to be out of work for the next six months of my pregnancy (although it would be lovely, and I wanted to have time off with the baby when she arrived).) So, I took a few short-term contracts and ended up working two days before my little girl Beatrix was born in November 2015.

Fast forward nine months and I felt I was ready to start looking to return to work, I was fully aware the redundancy money wouldn’t last forever and I was looking forward to finding a new flexible/part-time role. After about two months of searching I hit a wall, I just couldn’t find any flexible or part-time positions in HR. I knew I didn’t want a full-time role, and it had always been a dream to set up my own HR Consultancy, so why not now? So with the rest of my redundancy money I set up HR Puzzle. I specialise in helping mums and women with SMEs, for those who already have or want to take on an employee/s and all things HR related.

How is digital technology and social media enabling the way you work?

The whole process of setting up and running my own business was new to me. Digital technology has enabled the flexible working pattern I require. Not only does it allow me to work where I want, and when I want, but also allows me to serve clients who aren’t always local me to. I can send emails with a sleeping baby lying on me, or after we visit the park and she is napping on the way home in her buggy. In many cases HR can be dealt with remotely and digital technology enables this.

Social media has also taken on a whole new meaning. I have always had a love affair with Instagram and it was one of the things that inspired me to set up my own business. Lots of really inspirational women, some who are parents, and have great careers or have their own business – showing you can have it all.

I have found lots of great people to speak with and to also help share my journey with through social media. I also regularly use LinkedIn, Twitter and Facebook. It does take a long time but I can already see the rewards and it’s a great way to find new opportunities. After all I wouldn’t be writing this piece on here if it wasn’t for the power of social media.

What are your top tips for women starting a new business?

  1. Follow your passion. It may sound like a cliché but when you do, it doesn’t really feel like work. What I am really passionate about is helping others, especially those I can relate to – in this case women and mothers.
  2. Find a shared work place. I started off working at home to save on costs and a few months in was going stir crazy. I’m a people person and I am at my best when around others. I found a local hot desk via Wenta who offer loads of free business support including a three month free trial. This really helped with bouncing ideas off others in similar situations. I even joined a few Facebook groups who have meet-ups for those who work from home.
  3. Market your business. There are lots of free ways to do this out there, especially on social media, so make use of it. Join groups, follow others (even those with the same businesses) and comment on people’s posts. You never know where this will take you. Don’t get me wrong it’s a long and hard process but it will pay off. Why pay someone else when in the early stages you will have the time to do this yourself.

Anna is following…

Laura from @themodernnursery: she actually inspired me to set up my own business. Her blog post about how she started her business when she had her little girl inspired me to do the same.

Next is my new girl crush! The gorgeous @Eimearvarianbarry. I first heard her of her when I signed up to a Mothers Meeting session on “How to Get Social Media Savvy”. She is so down to earth and talks nineteen to the dozen but you can’t help but watch her. She has two little girls and works around them flexibly, another inspiration of mine.

Finally, it has to be @blossomingbirds not only do we share the same name but again she is an inspiration. She has a really good career and is a mother with two little girls, and has an amazing blog. I just don’t know where she gets her energy!


Anna’s work

hr-puzzle.com
instagram.com/hr.puzzle

My HR services include contract writing, policy & processes, employment law advice, recruitment, training, company handbooks, performance issues and absence management.

I am also campaigning for more businesses to take on flexible roles and helping to support mums with getting back to work after maternity leave/applying for flexible working, just to name a few.

I have some great events coming up, but one that I am really excited about is the Mums Enterprise Roadshow, a child friendly work and business exhibition for mums on a mission (#shootforthemoon). I will be an exhibitor at the London show on Monday 25th September 2017.

Making your voice heard

Consumers make quick judgements about brands. We spend so much time online these days, we are constantly making snap decisions on who to follow. There can be different motivations as to why someone chooses to follow you, but for the purposes of this article I want to focus on businesses who are trying to attract new customers, and retain existing ones. If you’re looking for some quick pointers to help you stay on track with your marketing strategy read on.

BE CONSISTENT

One of the biggest turn-offs for a lot of people is inconsistency. As a consumer if you aren’t sure what a brand represents it can be confusing and you are less likely to commit to following and engaging with them. If you are starting out and want to build a community (and ultimately attract customers) you need to set out a clear brand identity for your company. I’m not just talking about visuals, but knowing how to translate your brand’s personality into the written word is crucial too. Are you funny, informative, irreverent or serious? Try anthropomorphising your brand – for example if Social Butterflies was a person it would be a career driven mother who was a savvy consumer of lifestyle products and services. If you can define its personality and attributes you can begin to see its place in the market. Being confident about this information will help you stand out from the crowd and create a niche for your business.

STAY TRUE TO YOU

Don’t keep chopping and changing your offering. Nothing says “I don’t know what I’m doing” more than a company that regularly changes its image and business offering. Being consistent doesn’t mean you can’t evolve of course, but over time. If you’re overhauling your entire proposition within a matter of months from launching (or even every couple of months) then something is seriously wrong. You need to take time out, reassess what it is and have a clear business strategy before you start marketing your services. Particularly if you are offering any kind of marketing services – this could be the kiss of death for your business otherwise.

THINK LIKE A CONSUMER

The best way to get back to basics with your online business presence is to think about how you interact with social media as a consumer. Sometimes you can be so immersed in the day to day running of a business you forget to put yourself in the consumers’ shoes. Look at how other businesses project their image online – what works and what doesn’t.

BE A LEADER

But don’t follow a lazy business model by simply copying what other people are doing. Authenticity and originality are the attributes which will engage and retain your customers, so keep it real. You’ll find that customers in a niche audience will tend to follow the same people, so you will stand out as a copycat pretty quickly. If you’ve been inspired by someone else’s success then that’s great, but trying to keep up appearances and shadowing someone else’s online persona will only lead to feelings of disappointment. Concentrate on your own strengths, your company’s USP and carve out your own voice.

DON’T OVERSTRETCH YOURSELF

Don’t compare your business offering to others and simply try to match or exceed it. If you have a strong offering in one or two keys areas, then focus your energy on building those up and making them pay. Once you’ve honed those, then you can look to expand your services or product range. Spreading yourself too thin just to keep pace with competitors is not good business practice. Always remember what your key skill sets are, refine them and teach yourself new ones.

IT’S NOT ROCKET SCIENCE

The message is pretty simple: know who you are and what you do. It’s not rocket science, but so often people get overwhelmed by the mass audiences online and start to panic. This is totally understandable; it can be an overcrowded marketplace. But all the more reason to take a step back and have a clear digital marketing strategy in place before you go live. Be confident in your offering and if in doubt seek advice from professionals.


If you’re interested in finding out more then visit my new digital marketing consultancy website: amywhitedigital.com.

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Time for a positive change

Something occurred to me this week after I’d read some lovely emails from readers of Social Butterflies, there is a never-ending discussion online (and offline) about ‘honest parenting’, we can’t get enough of books like Hurrah For Gin and The Unmumsy Mum. But how about some ‘honest career chat’? I’m not talking about flexible working – there are huge strides being made in that area, thanks to amazing ambassadors like Mother Pukka and Digital Mums. I’m talking about the identity crisis so many women feel when they put their careers on hold to have a family. So why does this issue still feel like a taboo subject?

For many women of my generation (born in the 70s/80s) we had established professional identities long before children came along (not forgetting spontaneous mini-breaks, oh how I miss you mini-breaks). But no-one, it seems, feels comfortable talking about the lows of career compromise in motherhood. The most obvious reason is because people don’t want to prejudice future job opportunities or damage their image. But I’m not talking about committing an act of career self-harm. It’s just about acknowledging those lows so you can refocus that energy on creating new highs. If you’ve taken time out, or your foot off the career accelerator, then your confidence needs building up. You’re not going to get that by feeling unable to talk about it. Knowing others feel the same way is both reassuring and empowering. When you feel part of a movement don’t you feel more energised to make a change?

So I would like to open up the conversation. But this isn’t a drowning your sorrows exercise. This is very much about focusing on the positives. It’s about recognising your worth, valuing your experience, honing your skills, retraining in some cases, pursuing a passion and giving each other a leg-up! (I’ve been there, so I should know). I took a three-year career break a few years ago (but I did have two children) so I never feel awkward about explaining that time off to prospective employers. Maybe if I hadn’t done that I might be earning more money, or have a more impressive job, but I don’t like to look back. I am where I am because of the choices I made – no regrets. I think one of the best things you can do if you are on a career plateau is to skill yourself up. Even now, with over 16 years’ experience behind me I still think it’s important to attend courses, workshops and industry events. You should never be complacent about your knowledge in the workplace. I work in digital marketing where innovations and trends move so fast I have to keep pace.

If you’re feeling out of touch with your career identity and looking to try something new, or maybe just want to enhance your existing skills, then take heart from all the amazing women we feature on Social Butterflies. So many of them have taken career breaks, or left behind stellar jobs to try something new that suits family life. You can achieve that too – all it requires is a positive attitude, determination, a healthy dose of confidence and a good support network. You too could feel like the lady in the photo (looks like a Bodyform advert, I know).

TOP TIPS

KEEP ON LEARNING
The best advice I can give anyone who is feeling out of touch with the work place is to continuing learning: take a course, attend a workshop, go to a talk. Find something that interests you and meet like-minded people. Taking courses purely for professional reasons is great too (I’m currently learning all about analytics…) but be clear about what you want to get out of it, particularly if you’re paying a lot of money for something.

RETHINK YOUR STORY
Even if you’re not currently looking for work, try writing your CV out as you would a diary-style story. It’s a great exercise to help order your career thoughts and reexamine what you have to offer in an informal way. Once you’ve got a clearer sense of what that story is, you can translate into a CV format (have a look at Pinterest for CV style inspiration). Set yourself up with a LinkedIn profile and connect with old colleagues – you never know where Barry from accounts is now working and how he could help (by the way, Barry is a fictional character, purely for illustrative purposes).

EXPERIENCE NOT AGE
With age comes wisdom. We should be proud of the experience we have gained, and not compare ourselves to twenty-somethings. Each generation has their own unique skill set  – ours is multitasking experience (in bucket loads!). Taking time out of work has reinvigorated your desire to work, not diminished it. I’m in my late-thirties and we’re not having any more children, so I represent a whole load of women who are not going to go on maternity leave and we’re less likely to flit from job to job. This is an advantage for a future employer. It’s all about changing negative perceptions and seeing the positives.

POSITIVITY PEOPLE
It’s therefore crucial to surround yourself with positive people. There’s nothing wrong with constructive criticism, but the doomsayers can quite frankly f**ck off! If you’re trying to lift yourself up you need people with a glass half full attitude. I always think if you project positivity you will attract it (you can have that as a motivational fridge magnet, you’re welcome).

I’m really hoping by getting this topic out in the open it will help other women out there, who felt like I once did. I’d love to hear from anyone who has felt like this and has made positive changes in their career. Please email hellosocialbutterflies@gmail.com. I’d love to feature your story and inspire other women to do the same.

CV reality check

I work from home a couple of days a week, and like all women I end up doing chores in between work. Loading the washing machine, unloading the dishwasher (and reloading), checking the fridge for missing items before the inevitable ‘top-up’ shop to the supermarket later (I feel a sad sense of achievement if I can avoid going at least once a day). My ability to multi-task is second to none, as is my ability to procrastinate. The internet has been calling me today with its cheeky loveliness and I’ve been powerless to resist. However, and quite unbelievably, amid endless cups of tea, a quick power-up in the form of a few ‘Waitrose-mini-hot-cross-buns’, I have actually written my CV. I know, I’ve even impressed myself.

I run this magazine alongside my day job, and I’m currently trying to find time to launch my freelance business (digital marketer and editor). During this process I’ve been going through my CV for the first time in a long while, and oh my lord it’s been an uphill struggle. Does anyone else find writing in a self-promotional style buttock-clenchingly awkward? I’m happy to write about other people and tell their story, but when it comes to listing my own experience and achievements I feel out of my comfort zone, much like Nigel Farage at a Eurovision party.

Writing down your professional story is an exhausting process, but once you’ve written it you can spend an infinite amount of time refining it, or as I like to call it, disappearing down the rabbit hole that is Pinterest (goddamn you Pinterest). There are so many styles and designs these days for CV writing that I find it all a bit overwhelming. So I’ve decided to stick to my guns and opted for simplicity. A clean design coupled with riveting lists of experience and achievements *should* speak for themselves.

Part of the reason I’ve done this, is so I have a clear vision of what I can offer, what I know and how much that is worth to a business (and I don’t just mean financially, don’t underestimate sparkling wit and personality). If you’re thinking of returning to work, looking for a new job or perhaps starting a business, writing a CV can be a cathartic process – think AA meets NCT (but with jobs) – the first step is admitting you’ve got a problem, and remember, it’ll be worth the pain! It’s a good idea to get other people to check for errors obviously, but most importantly, writing about yourself in the third person (always a bit weird, but necessary in this context) helps you think objectively about what it is you have to offer. Which, I can guarantee will always be more than you think – age for once is a distinct advantage!

Desk reality: clearly need to buy A LOT more wine by the way

I’ve used two photos to illustrate visually what I mean about having a ‘CV reality check’. The main image is obviously not mine but an idealised, Instagram composition (credit to desk of dreams creator: Emma Highfield). The second one is the reality of my home working situation (it’s my kitchen table surrounded by crap). My point is that you need to think of a CV as you would the picture perfect desk – it’s a contrived version of reality. We recognise the same concept in the real picture, i.e. there is a table and a computer, the similarities end there sadly. So don’t stress about how to present yourself on paper – just write it down and tidy it up later.

We all have bundles of experience to offer future employers, particularly once you’re over the hump of, ahem…35 (ish). We should learn to celebrate our achievements for what they are, not compare ourselves to Instagram perfection (that gorgeous desk can bloody well piss off with all its neatness). Being a mum unofficially qualifies you as a PRINCE2 practitioner, referee, chauffeur, wine taster extraordinaire, UN diplomat (I could go on). Basically you’re awesome, even if at first glance your CV needs sprucing up.

We are all Social Butterflies

So often in the conversations I’ve had with women about careers post-children there is a reoccurring theme: dissatisfaction with the inflexibility of the workplace.

It’s a universal problem and it’s one which a lot of women are turning to their advantage. The personal experiences amongst working women may be diverse but the feelings are generally the same. There is a guilt attached to motherhood that only women can relate to – it’s an overwhelming, sometimes suffocating mix of duty and ambition. The two don’t always correlate and it’s this desire of wanting a career and needing to be the best possible mum which can often lead to disappointment and feelings of resentment.

The modern workplace should be able to accommodate this new breed of women who are having children later with a career firmly under their belts. But it seems that so many talented, uber-multi-tasking women feel locked out of a workplace which still retains a presenteeism and traditional working structure popular in the 1950s. It’s not all doom and gloom however, plenty of forward thinking companies are tapping into this amazing pool of talent and embracing flexible working.

Working it

But not all of us work in industries which think creatively and sensibly about employment. For a lot of women who have had children and taken time out of a career the only feasible option is to start working for themselves. What might have started out as a necessity for some women has clearly been a major game changer and in some cases they have finally found the courage to pursue their passion. Turning an apparent disadvantage into an advantage is what women have been doing for hundreds of years – in fact I think you’ll all agree we’re pretty damn good at it!

I’m talking about the women who are ‘winging-it with style’ (no panty-liner references intended). And I don’t mean that women are playing at being businesswomen: there are some amazing women out there whose professional confidence has taken a few knocks since having children but they are still having a go. I count myself in this category – someone who despite having been on the equivalent of a confidence rollercoaster finally feels able to say “f**ck it – if I don’t give it a try now, I never will”. So this year I will be starting to work for myself – and hopefully for you too.

Women who are succeeding in business, bringing up children and maintaining relationships (in whatever form that may be) are what truly inspires me and makes me want to achieve. I didn’t realise when I started this magazine that the outcome would be such a positive one but I’ve decided to “stop talking and start doing” as my Dad would say. That’s why I spent so long deciding on a name for the magazine. I wanted it to be feminine (but not label us as mums), reference how digital-savvy we all are (or aspire to be), and quite simply I just love a good pun (it’s the sub-editor in me). But best of all I wanted to create a sense of community and by using the hashtag #wearesocialbutterflies create a positive label for women working online in business.

Getting digi-with-it

So, with that in mind I’m going to start offering my digital marketing services to women in business like you. It will be a unique package of services to compliment the magazine and its ethos (I even have plans to expand the concept offline). I want to create a collaborative community of like-minded women who are embracing digital (you might even call it a club).

But for now I’d like to use this opportunity to do some important research. What do you need help with when it comes to digital marketing? I think most people reading this will have one or two areas they excel in and a few they don’t enjoy doing or simply don’t understand. That’s where I plan to help you in the future – plugging those gaps of knowledge and supporting you along the way. I would love to know which areas you struggle with so I can use this information to design packages that work for you. I’d also love to connect with a graphic designer and someone with expertise running events.

Please get in touch if you’re interested in my business idea: hellosocialbutterflies@gmail.com

Amy White, Social Butterflies editor

How I got my confidence back

Confidence is a complex thing. I lost mine massively after having children. But I’m pleased to say it’s coming back in bucket loads and to prove it I’m even posting a selfie! (a frigging selfie godammit!). Something I would never have dreamed about doing a year ago. No, it’s not because I’ve washed and blow dried my hair (husband breathes sigh of relief), or because I’ve put some makeup on. And it’s not just so I can show off my new leather jacket (OK, it might be a little bit).

This photo shows the reality of life but also reflects my new-found confidence. It’s proof that I’m comfortable showing you ME (as well showcasing a terribly composed photograph). It’s a scene we all recognise: messy living room, inability to take decent selfie (what’s the best angle to avoid triple-chinnage?), dirty mirror covered in little finger prints, slightly awkward smile. I am happy to share it because I feel happy in my own skin again. If you’re feeling further back on this journey I just want to say ‘hang-in there’, it will get better!

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My confidence is back where it matters – inside. I wanted to share this with all of you today (hopefully not in a patronising self-help, Jerry Springer’s last word kind of way), but to speak to (and for) all the women out there who are lacking in self-confidence. I know what it’s like and it can feel crushing at times. Having children, taking a career break (not taking a career break) and making endless sacrifices can make you feel like a dry old husk some days. My route back to feeling like my old self is pure and simple: I finally have found a sense of professional worth through this website and I feel energised, full of purpose and brimming with ideas.

I’ve had a couple of major knock backs professionally. I went for an interview a few years back and all was going swimmingly until the subject of hours came up. The atmosphere became noticeably frosty when I suggested alternatives to the 9-5. Needless to say that didn’t go anywhere as I didn’t want to work somewhere like that (I’ve written a piece on the issues surrounding flexible working – have a read). I then had a seriously confidence-knocking experience quite recently where I helped out someone in a bid to achieve some particular experience I was lacking. After the job was done I was promptly dropped like a hot potato – no credit or thanks. All pretty ego-bruising stuff that really hit my confidence in my own abilities hard. But what doesn’t kill you makes you stronger so I decided the only way to make a career work for me is to take back control (in a totally non-Brexity way of course). Hence starting this magazine and my plans to work for myself.

This magazine and the community it’s building has lifted my spirits and made me excited about work again. I’ve got big plans for this year and I want you all to join in (watch this space).

Written by Amy White, editor of Social Butterflies

Why do men never get called dadpreneurs?

Dadprenuer, dadboss – we’ve all heard of these terms, right?

Wrong – that’s because they’re not well-used labels attached to men who are successful in business and happen to be be fathers. My point? Well, I came across an article this morning by a writer called Alice Judge-Talbot, aptly titled ‘We’re not sodding mumpreneurs’. It hit me so hard I felt compelled to write this before I head out for lunch with my mates (not working on Fridays is the best now the kids are at both at school).

It spoke to me on two levels: Alice articulated exactly what I’ve been feeling since having kids AND reminded me of an embarrassing truth. What’s that I hear you ask? Well, I started Social Butterflies for two reasons (part therapy – ask any blogger and that’s usually on their list) and also because I felt marginalised as a ‘mum’ who wanted to redefine herself in the world of work again. But I’ve been too afraid to be outspoken about how uncomfortable I feel with the whole ‘brand-mum’ phenomenon. I’m savvy (and cynical) enough to realise it’s a marketing tool but when I go to work I’m not being a mum at that moment – I’m me!

social butterflies magazine

I’m not trying to fight a cause with my magazine/blog (call it what you will), but to give a voice to all the women like me who happen to have grown babies in their tummies AND ALSO enjoy working and crave a different identity to that of mummy. I love being a mum – I stayed at home while they were little and loved doing it. But it gets a bit boring after a while (if you’re honest with yourself) and that’s why I want to work, not just so I can justify a retail splurge in Cos and Whistles, but mainly because I’m a better mum, wife and friend when I am fulfilled.

Do labels matter? Well they shouldn’t, as the old playground chant goes: “sticks and stones may break my bones but names will never hurt me”. It’s all about personal choice and what you feel comfortable with. Personally I have several identities: mum, wife, friend, daughter, sister, colleague. But importantly the identity of being a mum for me is entirely wrapped up in my kids – it’s got nothing to do with me at work.

So, I guess my message is this: women should push against this reductive label which limits us. We are women first and foremost and we should be judged in the workplace by our abilities not by our wombs and boobs. Rant over, but not without thanking the far more articulate Alice who inspired me to write this morning (no mean feat before I’d had my second cup of tea!).


By Amy White

How to boost your brand online

If you’re thinking about starting a business or have a business that needs more strategic direction, then you could benefit from branding knowledge and expertise. One thing is clear though – success will not come overnight. “Building an online brand can take years” says Janet Murray, PR consultant and business owner.

It’s always prudent to speak to experts if you want to impartial advice. With that in mind I spoke to Janet Murray owner of Soulful PR – she specialises in teaching and empowering people to take control of their own PR. By sharing her expertise, individuals and businesses can raise awareness of their brands and attract more customers without hiring an expensive PR company or writing numerous press releases. With a proven track record in pitching, writing and editing, Janet has had countless stories published in national newspapers and magazines including the Guardian, Telegraph, Independent, Times, Sun and Daily Mail. Having worked as a journalist for over 15 years she knows what other journalists are looking for in a story “and, crucially, what they’re not”.

If you’re looking for some straightforward, easy to implement advice then follow the simple rules outlined below and you can start to measure success in the short term.

Janet Murray Soulful PR
Discover how to get media coverage in national newspapers and glossy magazines by visiting Soulful PR (image credit: Janet Murray)

Regular content

The key to successfully promoting yourself or your business depends on ensuring your customers are receiving useful, valuable content alongside the product or service you are offering. With so many businesses embracing online marketing you need to stand out from the crowd and offer something extra. Janet strongly suggests “posting regular content: blogs, vlogs, podcasts, newsletters, at least once a week”. By adding value to your business offering you can create a community of people who engage with you and share your content amongst their colleagues and friends. People are increasingly media savvy and will spot a hard-sell so by providing genuinely useful content in the form of an article (you might be a food company providing recipes), or video content (a yoga instructor providing YouTube video exercises), you can start to build subject-related content.

Janet Murray Soulful PR podcast
Janet regularly posts free, useful content such as Podcasts

Be consistent

Building a successful brand means being consistent across all media channels. In simple terms this means ensuring your brand identity is distinct and recognisable so you can start to build a strong presence across all your social media platforms. Creating graphic elements with a strong aesthetic, colour palette and photographic style have helped Soulful PR build a beautiful Instagram account (see images below). Janet’s top tip in this area is to “hone your skills on one particular social media platform” and once you have established a look and feel and built an engaged audience then you can focus your efforts on replicating this success on other platforms. Rather than spreading yourself too thin over multiple platforms, this way you can experiment with one and when you feel you’ve nailed it (this will be measurable by analysing your insights, comments and follower numbers) apply this winning formula for continued success to other platforms.

Janet Murray Soulful PR

Janet Murray Soulful PR

Data capture

Often overlooked when starting out – collecting email addresses from people visiting your site is an important way of gathering data and reaching out to your customers. “Too often successful businesses discover too late that they’ve missed an opportunity to collect customer data”. Set up an account with an email marketing platform such as MailChimp from the very start and begin to capture email addresses by offering useful, exclusive content. Use this information to talk directly with your customers in the form of a newsletter and offer discounts. By creating a special ‘club’ for people who subscribe you can entice them in – but don’t forget people don’t give away their details freely (do you?) so offer something they don’t get on the website as a casual browser.

Collaborate

Don’t be afraid to “work with your competitors” says Janet. The internet has democratised information in such a way that users have become arbiters of consumer choice. Just look at the plethora of comparison sites like moneysupermarket.com and Google Shopping etc. Use this to your advantage by working with and linking to your competitors. It might seem like an odd thing to do but by creating a niche for yourself as the “go-to business to discover what’s happening in your particular industry” you can make competition into a positive attribute of your business identity. Also by keeping an eye on what your competitors are up to you can be quick to offer alternatives.

Invest wisely

When starting out in business it’s difficult to know how and when to invest in your brand. One piece of advice Janet feels strongly about is your brand identity (unique logo, website, marketing collateral, product design). We all have such short attention spans these days and the internet is a visual medium so investing in a strong brand which is aligned with your company values can really help make you stand out from the crowd. Websites which hark back “to the 90s” won’t help you either. These things needn’t cost a lot of money particularly if you can’t afford a graphic designer or a web designer. There are plenty of free online tools now that can help you create artwork and logos, such as Canva and website building sites such as WordPress and Wix. The important thing is to keep it clean and simple if you go down this route – you can always add photographs and illustration to liven up content – sites which offer free photos such as Pixabay are a good place to start if you don’t have a budget. If you are using your phone camera to take photographs then try using apps such as ColorStory and Snapsneed – both excellent photo editing tools which enable you to add filters, crop images, overlay text etc.

Janet Murray Soulful PR
Keep your messages simple and clear. Complicated and confused communications could alienate your customers (image credit: Janet Murray)

More top tips

If you’re starting out and have limited funds you can access free information from Janet to help you with PR matters: blog posts, online training programmesFacebook communitypodcasts.

If you are a bit further along your business journey and want to take things to the next level then Janet offers in-depth training and services: Soulful PR Studio (£42 p/m, or £378 per year); book coaching or consultancy (£300 – £2300 +VAT); sign up for the Done-with-you PR service £5000 (&VAT).


Janet is following…

me and orla Sarah Tasker

 

 

 

 

Sara Tasker: Me and Orla

Me and Orla is a highly successful lifestyle blog by Sara Tasker. With a focus on beautiful, ethereal photography and styling, Sara documents her life in rural Yorkshire with her daughter Orla. Her success on Instagram has created a demand for courses teaching others how to take better photographs and grow an online brand. Janet has learnt a great from Sarah about how to improve and grow her Instagram account and is a big fan of her work.


Janet’s work…

Janet Murray Soulful PR

www.janetmurray.co.uk

twitter.com/jan_murray

instagram.com/janmurrayuk

Email: janet@janetmurray.co.uk


By Amy White

Top tips if you are thinking about going freelance

Practical Advice for Working Mums

Have a plan

Even if you’re not looking for investment, you need a plan. Having a well-considered business strategy will define what it is you’re trying to achieve and prevent you from swerving any tricky decisions.

In addition, it will help you benchmark your success every couple of months and identify what needs tweaking. It will also give you a clear picture of where your time is being best spent and flag up any vanity projects that are holding you back.

If the thought of a full-blown business plan is too much, start by writing down some ideas to help clarify your goals and how you will achieve them. Think about who your target audience is and define what makes you stand out from the competition. If that’s still too daunting, do a simple SWOT analysis to identify your strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats.

Once you’ve written it, USE IT!  Don’t stick in in a virtual drawer and forget all about it.

Freelance work laptop mobile phone notepad

Get support

Take full advantage of any local schemes or awards on offer for small business owners. Decide which trade bodies, unions or more informal groups you could get in touch with to grow your network.

If you’re not sure where to start, have a look at the National Enterprise Network website for details of organisations in your area. If you want to cast your net wider, think about joining a national body like Enterprise Nation.

This is a brilliant organisation offering practical support for start-ups and more established businesses looking for opportunities to promote their services. Members benefit from practical online advice across a wide range of subjects plus PR and marketing support and the opportunity to participate in international trade missions. If you’re not quite ready to go global, there are plenty of regional events, master classes and webinars offering practical support and useful tips.

Find out whether you’re eligible for grants such as the Government Growth Voucher Scheme. It’s easy to apply online and designed to help small business owners develop skills across any one of five key areas where they might be lacking in expertise. The scheme will match fund your contribution up to a certain amount and put you in touch with a local business adviser who will help you pull together a plan and determine which area would benefit your business the most. These include raising finance, marketing and making the most of digital technology.

If your business is already established, you can apply to be an approved service provider and get yourself in front of a whole raft of potential clients. Don’t be put off by the amount of form filling – it’s all very self-explanatory once you get started and there’s a helpline to call if you need more information

There are lots more organisations offering practical advice for freelancers. We’ve listed some below to get you started.

www.nationalenterprisenetwork.org/business-directory

www.enterprisenation.com

www.gov.uk/government/collections/growth-vouchers-programme

www.weliketowork.com

www.freelanceuk.com

www.freelancerclub.net

www.ipse.co.uk

www.smallbusiness.co.uk

Do the hustle

Now you have a clear plan, it’s time to share your vision. Make sure your website or LinkedIn profile is up to date so any prospective clients can see you mean business. If you’re new to web design there are plenty of free website builders like Wix, SquareSpace and WordPress that have templates for every type of business. Keep it simple and make sure your branding and tone of voice is consistent across all your social media feeds or print materials so people can find you easily.

Use social media to grow your business for free. Engage with potential clients and influencers on Twitter, start a conversation on Facebook. Research local tweet hours to share ideas and pick up tips. If you’re not sure where to start, have a look at what your competitors are up to and plunder their follower lists.

Leave no stone unturned when it comes to networking. If you have the budget, it’s worth considering joining your local Chamber of Commerce to see what opportunities they offer to get amongst the local business community. It can be tricky to decide which networking groups are most relevant to you so ask to attend an event for free before signing up to an expensive membership plan. That way you can get a feel for which ones are the best fit and avoid any that are over-subscribed.

Your elevator pitch may have morphed into a playground pitch but don’t underestimate the power of a quick chat at the school gate, you never know what may come of it. Remember to be a generous networker – always listen to see if there are ways you can add value rather than trying to do a hard sell.

Time management

Freelance work notepad to-do list

Now you’re ready to go, make sure you get yourself into a good routine. This doesn’t have to mean regular 9-to-5 hours but it’s important to set aside pockets of time that work for you.

Working mums tend to be naturals at time management because they’re used to getting the maximum out of every kid-free minute. If you do find yourself getting side-tracked, be disciplined and write a daily ‘to-do’ list so you can check your progress and give some structure to your week.

For example, if you need to make lots of new business calls, do them at the start of the week when you’re feeling energised and motivated. Save the end of the week to update your website, send out invoices and tidy up your inbox.

Get into the habit of blocking out time for work, family and yourself and make sure you’re clear about when you’re available. If you’re not comfortable taking business calls outside your working day, lay down the ground rules early and train clients to respect your hours. Likewise, if you have clients who often email you in the evenings, check if it’s urgent and save your response in drafts so it’s ready to send in the morning. This is a great tool for working mums who need to be on message even if they’re in the middle of a school run.

Decide which projects can overlap into your multitasking zone and which require your undivided attention. A lot of working mums have a tendency to confuse multitasking with efficiency so you need to be realistic. You cannot proofread documents or pitch for new business whilst juggling small children. You will just end up doing both jobs really badly which is bad time management and could end up costing you business.

Separate tasks into those that can be handled whilst supervising a play date or waiting for the dentist and those that can’t. This is all dead time that cannot be billed to clients so use it to respond to routine queries, manage your diary and update social media feeds.

If you’re still struggling there are plenty of online tools to help you manage your time more effectively and keep track of your tasks.  Here are some useful links to get you started.

www.trello.com

www.evernote.com

www.rememberthemilk.com

Keep learning

As a freelancer it’s vital to keep learning so you can stay ahead of the competition and exploit any opportunities that come your way. Make sure you’re aware of new technology that could add value to your clients and remember, the fact that you’re a one-man band means you can be nimble and react to changes much more quickly than a larger organisation. There is no lengthy decision making process or hierarchy so if you see an opportunity, weigh up the pros and cons and go for it!

And finally…dress the part!

Freelance work Digital Mums Imogen Bowen Word Works Media

Even if you’re working from home, make sure you dress like you mean business. There is nothing more demoralising than slaving over your laptop wearing baggy leggings and old Ugg boots. You don’t need to give it the full Joan Collins every day but you do need to feel confident and professional so you can project that image to the outside world, especially if you’re hustling for new business.

Not only will it help you to get into work mode, it will also ensure people take you more seriously and stop you feeling overdressed when you do head out for that important client meeting. It will also lift your mood if things aren’t going well, or as somebody once put it: “Never underestimate the power of a good outfit on a bad day”.


Author Imogen Bowen is a 44-year-old freelance Social Media Manager living in Wimbledon, London with her two children Orla (10) and Phoebe (8). She runs social media marketing business Word Works Media.

Freelance work Digital Mums Imogen Bowen Word Works Media

 

 

 

 

Imogen is following…

Freelance work Digital MumsDigital Mums

“I’m all over social media for my job and spend a lot of time searching for engaging content, connecting with influencers and making sure my own channels look good. Having recently graduated from the Digital Mums social media programme, I always check their feed for useful updates.”

dr sue black #techmumsDr Sue Black

“I also like to see what tech whizz and the brains behind saving Bletchley Park Dr Sue Black OBE is tweeting about.”

 

 

savvy mums freelance workSavvy Mums

“I go to the Savvy Mums Facebook page for advice on self-employment”

 

 

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Dress Like a Mum

“Outside of work I can’t resist a bit of fashion advice from Zoe de Pass aka Dress Like A Mum which is a brilliant source for freelance mums who are stuck in a fashion rut somewhere between Top Shop and Boden.”

 

Imogen’s work…

With over 15 years experience in marketing and communications, Imogen has worked on a wide range of projects from big budget ad campaigns to product launches and live events. Imogen started out at Nick TV soon after its launch and was lucky enough to have a brilliant female boss who inspired her to work hard and build a career in marketing. After honing her skills she moved to Nick’s sister channel, Comedy Central which meant a shift from meetings about Peppa Pig to late nights watching stand-up gigs at the Edinburgh Festival.

After having children, Imogen went freelance and set up an agency working with broadcasters and creatives who needed reliable translators, foreign voiceovers and subtitle editors to reversion their content. This worked really well around having young children as her studio partners were often in multiple time zones, so sending emails and editing scripts at odd hours of the day and night meant she could juggle family time around running a business.

In 2016, Imogen decided to stop wearing so many hats and get back into full-time marketing.  With things having moved on apace, she spent 6 months brushing up on her social media skills thanks to the Digital Mums Associate Programme which helps mums get back into flexible work.

Since then, she has been running freelance projects for small businesses looking for support with their social media marketing. This includes day-to-day account management, bespoke campaigns, training and marketing audits to help business owners work out which channels are the best fit for their brand.

Imogen is interested in helping start ups get the most of the free marketing opportunities presented by social media and the changing landscape means she is always up for learning new skills and sharing ideas with clients on how to make their social media work harder.

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www.wordworksmedia.com

www.twitter.com/WordWorksMedia

www.facebook.com/wordworksmedia/

www.linkedin.com/in/imogenbowen

Tel: 020 8543 9432

Email: imogen@wordworksmedia.com