What’s Been Happening? Decorating, Dogs, and Women in Business

A fall feast

Things have been crazy busy in the land of Tuxford. Back in March, our one dog household became a two dog household with the introduction of Archer to the fold. He’s a Staffordshire Bull Terrier, totally adorable, and a trophy collector. Tink is very bossy with him, but super loving too.

My two sons finished their year at school. Both had fantastic reports and came out of the year feeling great about their achievements. We also celebrated Jack’s birthday. He’s now a grown up seven-year-old.

I’ve been promoted at Exposure Ninja. I’m now managing our Project Management team. I’ve been in my new post for a month now. It’s great being able to work directly with our clients and help them to establish fantastic online businesses. I’ve been with EN for a full year now and have never looked back!

We’re continually decorating

We’ve been in our home for a year and a half now. It really feels like it’s time to start decorating the house completely. We’ve done our first living room and we’ve now started working on the bigger family living room. This is the room I work from, so I’m really eager to turn in into a place of perfection!

We’ve painted the walls a gorgeous light purple shade. added a small fire, and found some gorgeous bright floral curtains. We’ve still got a way to go with this room (including laying new flooring), but it’s starting to feel like a really great room. You know I’ll be doing my best work from that room!

I’m really enjoying seeing more female founded businesses

Yesterday evening I attended the opening event for a friend’s new shop Tallulah and Delilah. The store sells fabulous retro clothing and accessories and is owned by a mother of two who lives just down the street from me. It’s so satisfying to see women like her following their dreams and creating a business they love.

I want to see more mothers embracing their careers, starting businesses, and rocking the world of work. It’s inspiring to watch.

And if you’ve not already listened to it, why not check out my recent podcast with business woman and mother Alison May? Her story of taking Brocante Home from a hobby to a full-time business is absolutely inspiring.

So what does the future hold?

Well, the short answer – lots! The longer answer?

We’re going to Majorca next month for a family vacation. I’m looking forward to the last of the Spanish sun and enjoying a few cocktails by the pool. The dogs will be enjoying another stay at Babbington Boarding Home, who also own the rescue centre where we adopted Tink.

I’ll continue to get some great results at work. I have a fantastic team of project managers who are loved by our clients. I’ll be working with them to offer a fantastic service.

We’ll be completing the family living room update and then moving onto the kitchen. We’ve still not agreed on the unit style so will be taking a look at some kitchens once we get back from our vacation.

And the boys are back to school on Wednesday. I’ll be putting together some new healthy lunchbox ideas for them. Sandwiches can get so monotonous!!!

Catch up with me on my Instagram feed, to see the latest goings on!

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Personal SEO – Learn How to Control Your Online Brand

A sofa and books. Build your personal SEO and brand

As a blogger or digital persona, what is your most important keyword? Your name! In the digital age personal SEO is now more important that ever. If you want to control your online identity and brand, you need to ensure that you are ranking in the right way.

Googling Nic Tuxford tells you the following about me:

There’s also a few other pages that aren’t related to me, but that’s ok. I’ll soon fill them, and it’s clear these posts are nothing to do with me.

Why is Personal SEO so Important?

A pink drink - enjoy it while you work on personal SEO

Here’s the first reason:

80% of employers Google job applicants before interviewing them. Yep. 80%. So you’ll want to ensure that they see exactly what you want to portray online. You can bump up your Facebook privacy settings, audit your Instagram, and delete naughty Tweets, but what about selling yourself as an expert?

If the content isn’t there, there’s nothing to promote you

No results can be just as damaging as bad results. If you’re up against 10 other applicants with fantastic online personas and you have nothing, why would any employer even bother?

Don’t rest until the front page of the search results for your name is filled with your content. And ensure it’s good content that has come from you. I recently Googled an acquaintance, only to find a massive news site article that portrayed them as a spoiled brat. It’s hard not to be swayed by that type of content.

Personal Online Reputation Management

Start with a blog

There are a number of ways to build up your personal brand and improve your personal SEO. I recommend starting with a blog. And unless you’re a professional blogger keep your hobby blog separate from your personal brand blog. I’m a huge dog lover, but I’m fairly sure prospective employers are not interested in reading about my love for huskies and cute dog accessories!

Register your name as your domain name. It helps to associate your blog with your brand (again if you’re a professional blogger, this isn’t as vital). Write about your field of interest and share your knowledge. Don’t use it as a platform to insult others within your field. And ensure you keep the names of others out of your content. Keep your personal brand likeable and professional.

Embrace LinkedIn

Any modern professional needs a LinkedIn profile. I use my full name Nicola for my LinkedIn profile, and it ranks first in the search engine results for my full name. Using LinkedIn allows you to have an awesome visible CV to potential employers. I’d even recommend it for professional bloggers, because it allows you to connect with PR executives looking to work with a reputable site.

Ensure you regularly keep your profile up to date. Share guest blogs and articles you write or contribute to, and connect with those you work with in your industry.

Give yourself personality with Instagram


Forget about sharing embarrassing nights out on Instagram. Utilise this platform to share photos of you doing the things you love because employers want to see someone who is stable, reliable, and a great person to work with. I love sharing photos on my personal Instagram account. Taking a look at it will show prospective employers that I’m caring (for my pups, husband, kids, and job), I like to relax with a glass of wine at home, I work and enjoy working, and I spend my free time with my dogs. I’m a human being. I’m real.

Make connections with Twitter

I’ve had some great opportunities through Twitter. Following people within your industry will allow you to build professional connections and learn from the content shared by others.

I recently interviewed one of my professional heroes, who I’d been following on Twitter. It was a fantastic opportunity which I’m so grateful for.

Twitter is also a great place to find like-minded people to chat with. Just ensure you stay aware of the lack of privacy. If you want a frank conversation, get on Skype and chat face to face.

Start Building Your Personal SEO Today!

Personal SEO is not something that can wait – you need to start now! If you can’t afford a domain name right away (although I’d check prices – as there are some pretty cost effective opportunities out there), then focus on getting your LinkedIn account up, your social media accounts cleaned up, and connect with those who can provide you with guest blogging opportunities.

If you’re a student, get writing for your university or student union blog. And if you’re employed, find out about blogging opportunities onsite. Work hard to build that personal brand and become recognised as an expert within your industry.

How do you boost your personal SEO? Let me know in the comments below. And don’t forget to sign up to my mailing list and follow me on social media!

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Five Innovative Approaches To Eliminate Procrastination At Work.

A cup of black coffee - useful when avoiding procrastination at work

In a previous job, I had a brilliant assistant. He was awesome. However, he was terrible for procrastination at work. He’d leave the toughest tasks until the last minute and end up stuck in the office until 9 pm. Then complain to me that he had too much work and why wasn’t I working these ridiculous long hours?

The problem wasn’t that the work was unfairly split. What was happening was that I was working effectively and not procrastinating, and unfortunately he just wasn’t. I knew I had to do something to help him, as he was such a good assistant, so I developed a training programme for preventing procrastination at work.

A woman drinking black coffee at a desk avoiding procrastination at work

The Causes of Procrastination at Work

1/5 of adults and 1/2 of students are estimated to suffer from procrastination. There are a number of causes for this procrastination.

  1. Your Personality
    Studies show a correlation with those who have either a neurotic or conscientious personality.Neurotic personalities tend to worry about making a mistake, leading to them putting off the task until they absolutely have to do it. Conscientious personalities are more concerned with producing a perfect piece of work, again leading to procrastination via excessive planning or redrafting.
  2. Poor Time Management
    Not planning time properly, can lead to an assumption that a task with a longer deadline doesn’t need starting at the time it is assigned. When newer short term tasks come in this list of things to do grows and grows continually putting off the initial longer task.
  3. Previous Experience
    Perhaps you’ve done a similar task before and it didn’t go well. This can lead to a reluctance to get on with the task in hand and procrastinate at work.
  4. Fear of Failure or Acknowledging Your Weaknesses
    I confess this is something I’ve been guilty of. I put off starting this blog because I feared I would be bad at it. And I’m not alone. Fear of failure is a common reason people procrastinate at work. The thought of having your work thought of as poor can be paralysing for many.
  5. Stress or Lack of Self-Care
    If you are already stressed and not taking good care of yourself, you may be procrastinating further. This creates a vicious cycle of continued stress and procrastination.

The Consequences of Procrastination at Work

Procrastination can lead to an unhealthy work-life balance. Last minute deadlines and heavy built up workloads result in working long hours, as well as having the tasks continually on your mind.

Furthermore, this way of working can certainly contribute to stress and anxiety. The continual pressure of incomplete tasks, compounded by colleagues or clients questioning why work isn’t complete, results in a lack of sleep, feelings of dread, and overall tension.

At it’s most extreme, procrastination at work can lead to the loss of a promotion, client, or in some cases your job. Continually failing to meet deadlines gives you a poor professional reputation. By procrastinating you don’t just let yourself down, you let those working with you down too.

5 Approaches to Overcoming Procrastination at Work

  1. Eat the frog first
    Sounds crazy right? Who would want to eat a frog? But let’s imagine you’re in a survivor-style competition. To win £10,000 you need to eat three things; a chocolate bar, a cream cake, and a frog. You eat the delicious candy bar. Then down goes the cake. Now by the time you get to the frog it feels like the hardest thing to eat ever. So eat the frog first and you know you’ll have the candy bar and cake afterwards. It’s a much easier challenge. The same goes with your tasks – do the toughest task first, and the rest will seem like a breeze.
  2. Get a routine in place
    Automating your day helps you to keep on top of the regular tasks without forgetting or running out of time. Routines help you work your best and also reduce stress.
  3. Consider the worst case scenario
    If you have fear of failure consider the following – what is the worst case scenario if you do this piece of work? You might need to redo the work once or twice. Maybe you’ll identify a training need. You could even learn something new. Now compare this to the worst case scenario of not doing the work at all. Which scenario sounds better?
  4. Get a motivation buddy
    This could be a good friend, your spouse, a colleague, or even your boss. A person who will get you motivated to get the job done. Ask them to prompt you to talk about your task and encourage you to get it done.
  5. Take care of yourself
    Alleviate stress by taking care of your mental and physical wellbeing. Take regular breaks, and spend your evening doing something you enjoy. Get plenty of sleep, eat well, and drink lots of water. Limit your alcohol and prescription intake.

Do you have any recommendations for avoiding procrastination at work? Share them with me in the comments below.

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10 Unique Ways to Boost Your Digital Profile

Boost your digital profiles with great imagery like this

I’m taking responsibility for my digital profile by ensuring I present the best version of me online. This doesn’t mean I’m flashing cash like the Rich Kids of Instagram, nor am I humblebragging my way through Twitter. I’m simply presenting a strong professional identity through blogging, social media and other online communication.  If you are an online persona or simply somebody wanting to strengthen your career prospects, you need to boost your digital profile.

What is a Digital Profile?

I define a digital profile as “a number of ways a person is represented online”. For example, consider this article on digital tattoos and virtual shadows. There are positive and negative effects of an increasingly online society. By taking control of your digital profile you can ensure you present a positive image of yourself online.

The Best Digital Profile Examples

Rand Fishkin is a popular digital marketing expert and the brains behind Moz. He’s frequently quoted online and writes numerous successful articles on digital marketing. He’s positioned himself as the go-to expert in his industry.

Marie Forleo has created an online persona that resonates with ambitious businesswomen. She maintains a human approach to her work, which appeals to prospective entrepreneurs who are able to see themselves in her. Her online persona is real and genuine.

An image of rose gold items that can be used to boost your digital profile

10 Ways to Boost Your Digital Profile

  1. Get yourself a professional looking profile picture
    A poor profile image can ruin your online persona. Ensure your image is professional looking, as well as being “human”. Avoid images of you drinking, smoking, or looking miserable.
  2.  Be careful with your words
    I’ve written about the importance of maintaining a professional online persona. Keeping thing professional yet human is a key way to boost your digital profile.
  3. Keep your CV up to date
    Ensure your CV is regularly updated and includes your social media profiles and blog URLs. You should also include any guest posts or articles you have written.
  4. Get your personal brand on Twitter
    Put together an amazing Twitter profile and interact professionally with other Twitter users in your industry. Twitter is also a great way to find guest blogging opportunities that will get your name out there.
  5. Embrace Instagram
    Get yourself onto Instagram and represent yourself with amazing photos. Instagram is the opportunity for you to show the best of the “real you”. Just don’t make it too real.
  6. Optimise your LinkedIn Profile
    Ensure you have a well-optimised LinkedIn profile that links to your blog and guest posts. Keep it regularly updated with your latest achievements.
  7. Connect with key influencers
    Find key influencers within your niche and connect with them. Build relationships and even ask for mentoring. Moving into their social networks will help boost your digital profile and build your online reputation.
  8. Establish a niche expertise
    Position yourself as an expert within your niche. My own niche, for example, is digital marketing specifically aimed at the blogging community, although I also work in SEO for SMEs. To build on this reputation I’ve written guest posts such as my Beginner’s Guide to SEO For Bloggers. I also tweet about industry news and have a network of bloggers that I communicate with online.
  9. Don’t ignore Google+
    It’s a strange part of social media that is ignored by many. Despite this, I’d alway recommend embracing Google+ if you are building your digital profile. Get your account set up and share your articles and blog posts on there.
  10. Get your facts right
    You may have heard the recent news surrounding Jack Monroe’s libel case against Katie Hopkins. Kate used social media to falsely accuse Jack of supporting the vandalisation of war memorials. Katie had identified the wrong person. Jack won the libel case costing Katie over £300,000 in legal fees and compensation. Don’t be Katie Hopkins.

Many factors affect your digital profile so it’s important to ensure you keep on top of them. Regularly reviewing your social media accounts, keeping control of what is written about you, and strengthening your online networks will help to establish you as an industry expert. Use my guide to audit your online persona and appear in the search engine results in the way you intend to.

 

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Being Professional in an Online World

Coffee and notepad for the professional online

As a member of the digital marketing industry, my online persona is as important to me as my offline persona. So it’s key for me to be professional online without being robotic or dull. Who can forget the HUGE online blunder of PR professional Justine Sacco? That one unfortunate tweet destroyed her reputation and fundamentally changed her life.

It took a lot of consideration for me to start blogging. Time was a major player, but a secondary issue was my concern regarding my online persona. No one wants to read a boring, soulless blog, but on the flip side, I’m not keen on sharing my dirty laundry with the world, or worse causing upset to someone.

Social media is part of my daily routine. I use it to catch-up with industry trends, as well as to share my own insights. I also like to interact with friends and colleagues online too. But I draw the line between gossiping with friends over a glass of wine and sharing on social media. If I really want a frank and honest conversation with a trusted online friend I’ll Skype them.

Digital marketing personas, professional bloggers, and social media gurus all need to be conscious of their interaction online. So how can you ensure that you give the right impression?

If you can't be professional online why not use this gorgeous gold phone

Being Professional Online Whilst Still Being Human

  • Think of the online world as your digital office.
    You wouldn’t yell insults at a colleague across a desk, so don’t do the same to another social media user. If you have an issue that needs resolving, contact them privately. And for goodness sake never screenshot a private conversation and share it online. It will not be well received.
  • Have a sense of humour, but be cautious of ironic humour, especially if it could be construed as offensive.
    When Justine wrote her tweet, it was an attempt at ironic satire of the privileged attitude. It went down like a lead balloon. Irony does not translate well in text. It requires facial expression and vocal tone. So unless you can be absolutely clear that you are being ironic, don’t even bother trying.
  • Don’t bite off the hand that feeds.
    People are replaceable. It goes without saying that you don’t slag off your boss online, EVER, but further to this, don’t insult people in your industry. If you start ranting on social media about how all PR executives are awful (which, by the way, they aren’t – my PR colleagues are awesome) then don’t expect to be getting any outreach opportunities any time soon.
  • Respect those who’ve been in the industry longer than you.
    These people have the type of knowledge you can benefit from. I love getting tips online from digital marketing experts who’ve been in the industry for a long long time. Don’t shrug off online advice – you may need it some day.
  • Share but don’t overshare.
    Being professional online still allows you to share your personality, but there are somethings you just don’t need people to know about. I love to share husky photos on Twitter, but you’ll never hear about the ins and outs of my marriage!
  • Above all, be nice, respectful, and considerate of others.
    Gain a reputation for being a great person to interact and work with and your professional online persona will soar!

Think Before You Share

One of the best social media tips I ever heard from during the early days of Facebook. A good friend of mine made her mother sign up to Facebook and added her as a friend. When we all asked why she would want to do this (it seemed ludicrous to us early 20-somethings) she simply said, “If I don’t want my mum to read it, I shouldn’t be sharing it”. Don’t share something you wouldn’t be happy for your mum to read.

I’d suggest taking this another step, don’t share something you wouldn’t want your boss and/or colleagues to read. Because chances are they’ll find it somehow!

Any thought on your own professional online persona? Have you ever made a blunder, or are you as cautious as they come? Let me know in the comments! And don’t forget to sign up to my mailing list for future updates.

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Routines Are Not Soul Destroying

Set up your work day with great routines

When I had a little baby I bought a book by an author called Gina Ford. Now, if you’re a mum you probably know which book I’m talking about and are groaning at the thought. This particular book was advocating getting your baby into a routine. And I was obsessed with it. Routines were my life.

I’m a control freak. I like to dictate pretty much everything in my life and ensure that it is efficient and productive. It’s all well and good telling me to just “let it go”, but what if I don’t want to? What if an ideal day for me includes the knowledge of what comes next? Let me have that one thing!


The Routines of a Working Parent Should Not Be Messed With

Here's a nice lady who clearly has some good routines in place

I’m a mum yadayadyada, I work yadayadayada. There we go. You can always read more detail in my first blog post. What I want to talk about is my routine. IT IS VITAL FOR MY SANITY. If I don’t know that at 8 pm I’ll be sat watching TV with a single glass of wine and the company of the beardy one, I will go crazy.

My children are lovely, I adore them, but at some point, I need to say goodnight to the details of the latest Minecraft build or Pokemon caught on a mobile phone, and enjoy an adult conversation. Which is where the routine comes in.

Every morning I get up at 5.30 am. Except at weekends. And every morning I get my kids up at 7.30 am. Except at weekends. Then I know it’s breakfast, getting into uniform, bags packed, and school run. It allows me to settle down to work without any personal business cluttering my head. Which in turn allows me to be great at my job. And in the industry I work in, you need to be great. Mediocre just doesn’t cut it, sorry.

Work is work, home is home

It sounds kind of ridiculous saying this when I work from home! But, when I tell people I work remotely they reply in a typical fashion:

Oh wow, you’re so lucky! I’d love to work from home. I can just imagine it, doing a bit of work, getting a bit of laundry done, work some more, vacuum, have coffee with freinds, work some more…

This is not my reality. Work is work, and I define it clearly. I work in two chunks. My first chunk is triggered after I wake, shower, get dressed, and have my coffee. I work for 90 minutes before getting the kids up. Then I’m back into home mode. The second chunk is triggered after we do the school run and walk Tink. We enter the home and it’s now the office. I’ll work up until it’s time to pick up the boys. Then I’m back in home mode.

When I work I don’t answer personal calls, I don’t do chores, and I won’t meet friends for coffee. I dedicate my time to my professional purpose, to get websites noticed.

My Advice For Building Your Routines

  1. Define your working day – especially if you work from home
  2. If you have kids, then get them into a routine too (including chores and homework)
  3. Decide when you want to wake up and stick with it
  4. Remove distractions from your current task
  5. Do not answer your phone during work hours
  6. Only check emails at a fixed time (unless you’re expecting something urgent)
  7. Make your business calls at 10 am, when people are most likely to be available
  8. Keep at it – the longer you stick to your routines to more natural they become

And as an added extra – here is my full day’s routine:

5.30 am – I get up, shower, and dress

5.45 am – I stick the coffee machine on and switch on the laptop

6.00 am – Work (checking emails, planning, and client work)

7.30 am – The kids get up and dressed

7.45 am – Breakfast is served

8.45 am – School run followed by dog walking

9.15 am – Work

12.30 pm – Brief lunch break

12.45 pm – Work

3.00 pm – School run

3.15 pm – Homework

4.00 pm – Cooking and cleaning

5.00 pm – Eating

7.00 pm – Bathing kids and putting them to bed

7.30 pm – Dishwasher is on and I check my work messages to ensure nothing has been missed

8.00 pm – Wine in hand, TV on, the Beardy one next to me

10.00 pm – Sleep

TL:DR – you need a routine ok? If you’d like to hear more from me, keep up to date by signing up to my mailing list.

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Aren’t First Blog Posts Rubbish?

A woman trying to reasearch her first blog post before giving up and writing an about me post

A guilty pleasure of mine. Going to a long time established blog, and seeking out the first blog post to read.

Some are pretty good, written as though the blogger had been blogging for decades. But most are terrible. Not at the fault of the blogger. Blogs two, three, and four are normally awesome. But the whole first blog post thing is just a pain. Do I introduce myself? Do I say welcome to my blog? Do I acknowledge that this is my first blog post? Or do I simply write as though it is just another blog post in a sea of many?

A woman writing her first blog post

Here is my suggestion – EMBRACE THE TERRIBLE FIRST BLOG POST. It’s a rite of passage. Like the high school photos, that you posed for in a Victoria Beckham fashion, it will remain a long-term reminder of the fact that you aren’t always as cool as you think.

So true to my word, my first blog post will be rubbish. Vague (because I don’t have a clue what I want to write about yet), erratic (because I’ve been let loose with a publishing medium), and probably a bit boring (because really, who needs to read this stuff?).

First blog post tradition – a bit about me

You may have heard of me from my dear friend Vicki, over at the best lifestyle and mummy blog – Honest Mum. She’s been suggesting I start a blog for a while and I’ve finally sat down and done it. If you want to know more about me I’d recommend the Wonderful Woman interview I did. I’ve also written an informative post on SEO for bloggers which I hope has helped many.

Mum Life

I’m a mum of two. Both boys. They’re nice kids, one is quiet and one is noisy. As the only woman in the house, I get to be both the servant and the queen, depending on their mood.

I’m also married to fellow SEO specialist Andy. He’s a tall guy with a big beard. He knows lots about lots. And he’s currently doing a degree in Astrophysics. He’s useful because he helps me to solve those little math problems you have to do to prove you’re not a robot.

I also own a husky. When you join the exclusive society of husky owners, it changes you. You suddenly understand the purpose of sticky rollers. You stop leaving food out on the kitchen counter. And you become obsessed with huskies. They’re a fascinating and hilarious breed. Anyway, Tink (that’s her name), was a rescued dog. She’s two and she’s gorgeous. Tink is also trying to de-throne me from my position as house queen. She won’t win that battle!

Work Life

Work-wise I’m in digital marketing. I currently lead an SEO team over at the awesome digital marketing agency Exposure Ninja. I love it – it’s the best job I’ve ever had. I’m working from home with my beardy husband. And I have some of the greatest friends from across the globe. Remote working is fantastic – if you ever get the opportunity go for it! You’ll not regret it. I’ve worked in marketing for around 11 years now, with a brief interlude to stay at home with the kids. It changes a lot. I like change, though, so that’s no hardship.

Other (not so) interesting things for my first blog post

  • I like coffee – of course I like coffee, I work in marketing
  • I have big hair
  • I’m really competitive – especially with my husband
  • I sometimes lie about my age (I’ve been known to knock ten years off before)
  • I need control or I’ll get annoyed
  • I occasionally homebrew
  • I don’t cook though

Thankfully this painful experience is over. All I can suggest now is that you sign up to my mailing list in the hope that something good will come out of it. I’m hoping it will.

 

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