To say that launching a start-up is challenging is an understatement. Particularly when you throw a horrific Australian bushfire season and a global pandemic into the mix.

Frustration with ill-fitting swimwear, that often compromises quality and durability for fast fashion, is where Ellenny Swim began. Most women dread shopping for swimwear, and I, Megan Davis, was one of them. I noticed a gap in the market for swimwear designs that were sun-safe, supportive and sustainable. A brand that caters to the ‘average-sized’ women.

The launch of my eco-conscious swimwear label was delayed not once but twice. Back in January, the bushfires first delayed my progress and soon after COVID-19 sent the world into a spin. Now that it’s spring and we are coming out of COVID-19 hibernation, Ellenny Swim is already growing a strong online presence.

Here’s four lessons I’ve learnt since starting Ellenny Swim.

Don’t be afraid to ask for help

It is often expected you should know everything about the industry before starting your business, although this isn’t usually the case. I had little fashion experience, but I had a clear idea of what I wanted my product to be. As a graphic designer, I have an eye for design and a strong attention to detail. I knew where my strengths were.

I knew the importance of creating a strong visual brand was essential to connect with an audience. My skillset was an ultimate strength, but I knew I had many gaps I needed to fill. Realising very quickly that I couldn’t do it on my own, I sought help from business mentors, manufacturing agents and garment designers.

I joined a number of business groups to learn from the advice and experience of other business owners. Also, don’t underestimate the power of social media. I have collaborated with female models and influencers on Instagram that have continued to grow my strong online presence.

Resilience is key

Launching Ellenny Swim was a really challenging time as I had already bought all the stock but had to keep delaying the launch. I kept finding myself back at square one as disaster after disaster hit. Like most businesses this year, I had to shift and find other ways to get my brand out there.

Despite all of the hurdles I faced launching Ellenny Swim, my passion for the brand never faltered. Maintaining a clear goal in mind for my label helped me stay motivated and on track through those tough times. The reason I created Ellenny was to fill a gap in the market.

I wanted to create a brand that aligned with my personal ethos of being as environmentally friendly as possible. I can also empathise with women of all shapes and sizes that are often let down by brands that don’t cater to them. I’ve always been curvy and have felt frustrated with swimwear that doesn’t fit properly. I’m very proud to help women feel confident and empowered while relaxing by the pool or beach.

Be patient – it’s a long process

I was determined to create swimsuit designs that were sustainable and durable, instead of producing fast fashion that only creates more problems for the environment. However, I didn’t realise how complicated the process was from idea to prototype. It’s much more complicated than other clothing garments.

I had to be patient. Sourcing an eco-friendly fabric manufacturer took time. My research led me to Carvico – an Italian textile manufacturer that uses recycled old nylon products such as discarded fishing nets to create material that is perfect for swimwear.

There were many features that I wanted to include in my designs that took time to perfect. We’ve all experienced swimwear with removable pads that scrunch and fall out, so I wanted to create a secure rashie design with a built-in-bra that didn’t move around in the water. It was also important to me that my designs provide strong support while also being sun-safe with a UPF50+ rating to block out 98% of the sun’s harmful rays.

Once I got the samples, I tested the swimsuits on myself for at least six months, to make sure they survived the harshest conditions. I tested them in chlorine, salt, 45-degree Celsius temperatures and ran them through the washing machine to ensure they were durable and didn’t fall apart.

Despite the lengthy process, I have created a product that I am incredibly proud of. A range of swimwear designs that are high quality, eco-friendly, flattering and durable.

Support other business owners

I couldn’t have launched Ellenny Swim without the support of other small businesses. I feel very proud to support a whole line of small businesses, particularly in Australia, who are benefiting from my business.

Supporting women in business is also very important to me. I worked with a number of business owners and leaders, some who are also mothers, that helped me navigate the process.

 

About the author

Perth stay-at-home mother of two, Megan Davis is a former graphic designer who created a brand aligns with her personal ethos and is environmentally friendly. Check out Ellenny Swim.


Great businesses are born and developed every day. Yet with the constant pressure of making money, remaining ahead of trends, staying afloat and thriving in a competitive and overcrowded marketplace, it’s no wonder business owners turn their attention to ‘experts’ and outside opinions to improve their business. As a business owner, what happens when a once-thriving business suddenly declines? Is it the market, the conditions or something even less conspicuous… you simply lost your way?

How business owners can stay accountable and true to themselves

  1. Review your reasons for why you are in business

    List the reasons you decided to start your business in the first place. Once you have listed these reasons, ask yourself, are you still are aligned with these, or have things changed for you since you first established your business? Are you are still contributing in the same way you did when you first started? If not, what needs to change? Take the time to brainstorm to ensure you are really honest about your current feelings and reasons.

  2. Take a moment to get some honest feedback

    Our customers and clients can offer valuable feedback, as after all, they are the ones who already engage with you, and may continue to do so. These are the opinions other than your own, that you may need to explore. Make a few phone calls to gather this information on their experiences with you. Listen to the feedback and consider the responses to this collective information. How can you adjust different areas of your business that may need improving, and strengthen the ones that are valued?

  3. Take time out for you

    What activities outside of your business make you happy? Ensuring we have regular time in our personal lives to exercise, connect with loved ones, engage in hobbies, or to simply rest, impacts our ability to feel happier, energised, and more engaged in our business. We are less reactive and more proactive in our business operations and decisions. This investment in ourselves is invaluable and allows for greater long-term sustainability to continue running a successful business.

  4. Do a ‘gap’ analysis

    Take an inventory of your business. Where are you now and where do you want to be in one year, 10 years from now? What are you good at? Who do you need to hire? Who are your clients now? What clients do you want to work with? Who are the clients you do you not want to work with? What products and services can you offer? Are there additional revenue streams? Take a broader look at your business, your life, your targets and be accountable.

  5. Project Manage Yourself

    Ask yourself what daily, weekly, and monthly action steps you can take today, that will create change or improvement in your business? Use tools that can help you do this easily and successfully. Many digital applications now make this helpful to keep yourself, and your team, on track. This can reduce the feeling of overwhelm, improve efficiency, and develop a sense of achievement.

  6. Measure your success

    It is important to give yourself feedback about where you are now and where you are going. What activities are you doing now that will grow your business and help you achieve the targets you have set? How can you measure those? Is it by looking at the numbers – an increase in revenue, profit or cash flow? Or is it looking at how much fun, joy and adventures are you having in your business? Or is it both? Whatever that measurement is will shine clarity on the choices and actions you would like to continue or adjust.

You create your experiences just as you create your business. You are also accountable for what you create. Be honest of where you need to improve, or become more efficient, and enjoy your business again.

Arlene Schmidek discusses businessAbout the author
Arlene Schmidek is a
Being You facilitator and has been in the industry of business, life and wellness development for more than 30 years. Arlene is co-owner of a multi-million dollar family-owned dealership, which is now celebrating its 44th year of operation, in addition to being a co-founder of a consulting and training business. She brings a wealth of experience across many disciplines, coupled with a passion for creating positive change with her work with Access Consciousness.

 


You have finally started your blog and are looking to turn it into a business, but these three annoying letters keep popping up everywhere. What even is SEO? Isn’t it dead? Let’s dive into creating SEO-friendly blog posts!

Relax! Search Engine Optimisation doesn’t have to be complicated and it’s most certainly not dead. It has simply evolved: gone are the days of keyword stuffing at the bottom of the page. Those little crawlers the automated bots used by search engines to index datahave actually become pretty smart and can smell that spam from webpages away.

You must understand the basic principles of SEO if you want your blog or website to rank high on Google. However, SEO is really just common sense. You need to make your blog post enjoyable for both human readerswhich you can easily do, since I assume you are oneand search engines’ crawlerswhich, I’m going to make a bold guess, you are not. Not to worry: given their lack of human emotions, it’s very easy to think like one.

Do your keyword research when you’re creating SEO-friendly blog posts

You should be able to sum up your post in one long-tail keyword, which is just a fancy word for ‘a phrase consisting of three or more words’.

If you were breaking down the procedures to brew your own lavender tea, your keyword wouldn’t be just ‘lavender tea’. Your potential readers are more likely to Google ‘how to make lavender tea’. That’s your long-tail keyword. Make a note.

Now you can find some related keywords. How? It’s so easy peasy lemon squeezy that it sounds too good to be true. Just pop your long-tail keyword into Google’s Keyword Planner or Moz’s Keyword Explorer and you’ll find what users usually type when searching for the same topic (e.g. ‘How to make lavender tea from leaves’). Simple as that. As you build your confidence in creating SEO friendly blog posts there are more technical strategies you can explore, but for now, let’s keep it simple!

Integrate keywords organically into your blog post

We’ve already established that crawlers don’t like keyword stuffing, but I’m going to stress organically again because it’s very important. Your blog post must flow smoothly. Resist the impulse to chuck all the long-tail keywords one after the other without creating an actual meaningful paragraph.

You must sprinkle them strategically: in the blog title, the URL, headings, meta descriptions and image names, as well as repeating them organically in the body of the article, just as casually as I’ve repeated the word ‘organically’ in this one.

You still need to write quality content

Yes, you are here to learn how to please those little crawlers, but don’t forget that, at the end of the day, it’s not them who are going to share your blog post or subscribe to your newsletter: it’s us humans!

Your blog post must bring value to its readers. After reading it, they should always walk away with something.

Make it scannable

Had you bumped into this exact same blog post but without any paragraph breaks nor headings, would you have still read it? Probably not. I don’t blame you: you simply haven’t got time, and neither have your potential readers.

You need to make your blog post easy to scan so that they can figure out whether it’s the answer to what they were looking for, and crawlers can find it more easily. It’s a win-win.

Optimise images when creating SEO-friendly blog posts

You have found the perfect, Instagrammable and Pinterest-worthy pictures to go with your blog post. That’s great! Your human readers are going to be very impressed, but I’m afraid crawlers can’t see them, even if there’s text in the image.

What they can see, though, is their name. So ditch any lazy ‘image07.jpg’ and use relevant keywords instead.

Add a call to action

I assume you don’t want your readers to just read your article and then forget about it for the rest of their lives. You might want them to comment, share, subscribe to your newsletter, or follow you on social media.

Then add a question at the end to encourage discussion, have some ‘share’ buttons, link to older posts, or ask them to subscribe to your newsletter if they enjoyed your article.

The more people interact with your blog post and explore your website, the higher you are going to rank in the long run.

Choose the perfect title

You might have written the most impressive article since the birth of the Internet, but… who’s going to read it, if nobody clicks on it?

Your title should hook the reader in. For example, you can use long-tail keywords to state exactly what the blog post is going to offer (e.g. ‘The beginner’s guide to creating SEO-friendly blog posts’: it seems to have worked for you. Gotcha!).

You could ask a question, or state something controversial or unusual that your readers will want to check out (‘What no one will tell you about growing on Instagram’, ‘Why your beard needs caffeine’).

Listicles perform particularly well, especially when they include numbers or, even better, odd numberspun intended (e.g. ‘43 ways to cook pasta’).

Or you could address the reader directly (‘How you can quit your day job and live the life you deserve’).

How does this sound? I bet you can already think like a crawler.

Now, to stay true to my penultimate point, I’m going to slide in a cheeky call to action and ask you to let me know what you thought about these seven easy steps.

Giada Nizzoli

About the author

Giada is a copywriter who enjoys blogging about finding magic in slow life, loves the Oxford comma, and has ink in her veins (not literally, or she’d be dead by now). Find out more about Giada’s work.

Looking for more blogging inspo and tips? Check out our range of blogging articles.

 


So you want to start a podcast. However, you are worried because you do not know where to begin and may be concerned that you are not “techy enough” to pull it off. Isn’t podcasting super complicated? Let’s dive into how to start a podcast.

One of the biggest misconceptions about starting a podcast is that you have to have an audio engineering degree. Or that you have to have the latest and greatest equipment, and know all the technical lingo.

I am not a super techy person and I work in the podcasting space full time. Hopefully that encourages you that if I can do it…you can too.

The number one thing that you “need” to start a podcast is the resolve to start one. Everything is “figureoutable” including gear, tech, and RSS feeds. I promise.

I hope through this post, to demystify some of the technical blocks that keep people from hitting “publish” on their show. It will hopefully encourage you that if hosting a podcast is of interest to you, you should give it a shot.

You never know, you might love it, and it might just change your life.

Forming your show’s concept

Looking back, one of the things that I wish I would have spent more time on was forming my show’s concept. I knew that I wanted to talk about leadership but how was I REALLY different from all the other shows on leadership?

Let me give you an example. Let’s say you want to start a marketing podcast. How will your show stand out from the rest? Can you explain in a few seconds the core philosophy of your show and what listeners will gain by listening to YOU?

When someone sees YOUR marketing podcast will they know immediately if it’s for them or not? Is it for women and men? Is it for beginner marketers or advanced? How is what you teach different from other marketing shows right next to it in iTunes?

Now when you start to dig in and research what is already being done do NOT become discouraged. The fact that there are other shows like the one you want to start is a great thing, it means that there is a market for it. Don’t allow fear to set in and think, “There is nothing special about my podcast. My industry is oversaturated. I do not need to start a show.

This honestly is just a bad mindset. There are leaders who I ADORE (and follow all of their work) and I have friends who have NEVER heard of them. If leaders with HUGE audiences still have yet to reach everyone, there is surely plenty of listeners to go around.

If you struggle with separating yourself from other shows ask yourself, “What do I wish existed a few years ago that I did not have access to?” or “How can I add more of my story or personality into this show?”. We are all unique so do not be afraid to add more of YOU in your show to separate you from the crowd.

 

The break down when thinking about how to start a podcast

To simplify podcasting for you here are the most basic of steps. Of course, you can dig and learn/implement many more details to this process, but technically this is all you need to get started.

First, you need your audio, then you need to submit that audio to your “feed”, then that feed updates all the directories (iTunes, Spotify, Stitcher, etc). That’s really it. Not as bad as you thought, huh!?

Audio

Seriously, you honestly do not need to spend tons of money on audio equipment. There are actually many people who record a podcast simply from their phones.

You technically only need a .mp3 recording of your voice (and that of your guest, if applicable). As for equipment, you can always start small and build. Buy something to get you started and upgrade when you can.

Same goes with editing your show. You can download a free program like Audacity and watch tutorial on Youtube on how to perform basic editing techniques to your file (adding an intro/outro or taking out filler words like “um, ya know, etc”)

Hosting site

There are many, many, many sites that can host your podcast. You need these sites to actually “house’ your show and give your podcast an RSS feed that you can submit to directories like iTunes, Spotify, Stitcher, etc.

These hosting sites range from free to only 30 or 40 bucks a month. Usually, they charge for more space (how big is your file?) and how detailed the analytics you receive are.

The simple idea behind hosting is that you only have to upload shows to one place and it does all the heavy lifting for you (hold your actual shows and distribute them to all the directories).

Submit to the directories

Once you have your audio, upload it to a hosting site, you take the RSS feed that the site creates for your show and submit it for (normally) free to a variety of major platforms. No, you do not have to continually update these platforms, they pull information from your RSS feed, so when your feed is updated (shows added, cover art changed, etc) your show will be updated too.

Every once in a while you have to go in and manually update your show on some of these platforms however that is very rare. Normally hosting sites like Libsyn allows you to update your show in all the places right there on their platform.

Wait, no. Shouldn’t there be more?

There IS more you need to consider when starting and growing your show. We could go into things like branding, distribution, whether you should have a website or not, etc. etc. However, these things can be figured out and tested as you get more comfortable with podcasting.

One of my favourite quotes is, “Action creates clarity.” and it’s true in podcasting too. Sometimes you don’t know “all the things” you should be doing until you simply START. When you have people listening, and you get more comfortable, it will become clear what you need to grow.

The real reason that’s holding you back isn’t that you don’t know how to start a podcast

I think what keeps people back more often than not from podcasting is the simple FEAR of starting. Often we make things more complicated than they are and allow perfection to keep us immobile from taking action.

No matter how much you plan, your podcast won’t be perfect. Even more, your podcast is probably going to change as you grow your show and “find your voice” podcasting.

Planning is GREAT and you should be clear on what kind of show you want to create and who it’s for (remember what we talked about with your show concept) but the actual tech side of your show is fairly simple. Remember that there is a natural learning curve to just about anything worthwhile and if you hang in there, producing your show will get easier and easier, I promise.

Let us know what questions you have and maybe we can answer them in upcoming posts!

Heather Parady should I start a podcastAbout the Author – HeatherParady

Heather is the host of The Unconventional Leaders Podcast. She interviews successful entrepreneurs who have overcome great adversity and built something great.

Creating a website, whether personal or professional, can take a lot of work. There is so much room to show your creative flair. However, you also need to consider the practical aspects, such as how to select hosting for your website.
There are a number of different options to consider, primarily determined by your budget, but also consider the specific requirements of the platform or content management system (CMS) you are using.

Where to start

Each CMS has a specific list of minimum hosting requirements. This will include the type of web server, the programming language or runtime that needs to be supported and the database it needs to use. Different versions of a CMS may also require a specific version of the language and that additional features are installed on the webserver.
Hosting a website requires a web server. You can choose between cloud hosting (public or private), dedicated hosting, virtual hosting or shared hosting.


Cloud Hosting

In principle, cloud hosting is the idea of hosting your website where it doesn’t exist on one specific physical server. Instead, you pay for a level of processing power, memory use and disk space.
Cloud hosting is best for websites that require a high level of availability and are available in multiple world regions. It does require a high level of expertise to setup correctly and optimise. However, you pay for the resources you use rather than a fixed amount. Cloud hosting can also be less performant but offers flexibility to increase the server resources available when required.


Dedicated Hosting

A dedicated hosting plan is where your website is hosted on physical servers with exclusive use. Dedicated servers generally offer the best performance and you have complete control. Some hosting companies do offer managed VPS plans where they will look after the maintenance, backups and monitor usage and network availability.


Virtual Hosting

The virtual will have a dedicated amount of processing, memory and disk space allocated to it and often come in a range of sizes to suit small to large busy websites. In it’s simplest form a virtual server appears as if it is a single dedicated server but is one of many virtual servers sitting on one physical server.
A virtual server is a good option for small to medium-sized businesses. Maintenance and backups can be handled in-house or outsourced to a managed web hosting provider. As with a dedicated server, the virtual server will often give you full control over the environment.


Shared Hosting

Shared hosting is the budget solution that is a great option suitable for small businesses. It is a shared environment so your website can be affected by the other sites the hosting is shared with. This means selecting a reputable company is important.
Shared hosting is cheaper, you may pay $15 dollars per month, rather than hundreds for a virtual or dedicated server. However, shared hosting also limits your ability to run specific environments. Shared hosting is commonly used for CMS systems.

How to select hosting for your website

Small businesses

A dedicated server may be overkill and cloud hosting too unpredictable in cost for a small business. Shared hosting is most likely a good option for you however, check if your CMS has extensive functional customisations.


Medium – to large businesses

For a medium to large organisation, a virtual or dedicated server would be a better choice, especially if you’re running an online store or if you handle sensitive client data.
If you have a large customer base in other parts of the world, then a cloud solution may be better. This is especially true if your web site is duplicated across a number of regions but still appears as a single website for administration.

Considerations when migrating your website to new hosting

  • Your email may also need to be re-hosted. You could continue to host it yourself either in the same hosting environment as the website or on an in-house mail server. Many organisations are increasingly switching to third-party providers such as Office365 or GSuite. Whichever way you go, don’t, forget to run a back-up first and ensure this is copied outside of your mail program. For example, run a backup onto a USB just in case something takes an unexpected turn.
  • When updating your DNS records to switch the address from your old hosting to the new, there can be a period where visitors can be sent to either server. This is not a problem for information-only sites as visitors won’t experience any downtime. For an online store or custom application, this can be problematic should a customer place their order on an old website.
  • switching on the quietest day of the week, and possibly outside of business hours is beneficial.

About the author

Katrina O’Connell is the Managing Director at kmo. Having started her career in the early days of web, Katrina was a part of a team that was one of the first to build a multi-currency payment gateway for both real-time and batch payment processing. In 2007 Katrina started kmo, a web development agency located in Brisbane and works with both clients and agencies throughout Australia. Read more about their work at kmo.com.au


It’s one of the most visited pages on many websites and yet easily overlooked by business owners. Often it’s relegated to the bottom of a website, and for other sites, it is missing. So, we’re here to share how to write the perfect About Us page for your website.

A client of mine recently confessed to me that after a year of putting it off, she had finally begun writing her About page. The reason for the sudden action? A customer had emailed and asked why she didn’t have one! That was enough to get her moving on it quickly.

For many people, it is the most difficult page on your website to write. It can be hard to know what to say when you live and breath your business every day. Writing their passion and brand story succinctly is a task many would rather avoid. However, done correctly it can have a massive impact on your personal brand and business.

Creating your About page

When thinking about how to write the perfect About Us page, it’s important to remember that people want to do business with people. A bright and engaging About page gives readers the opportunity to get to know the person behind the brand. A common mistake people make when writing an About page is thinking that it is a page about them. Instead, remember you are writing this page for your audience whether that’s your customers, client or readers. Consider what information your audience needs to know about you, to like and most importantly to trust you enough to want to do business with you.

First person or third person

Choose whether you will write your About page in the third person or the first person. There is no right or wrong, and both work well. Although there are many ways to write an About page, it should always be authentic and personable. Here is an excellent example from Time Stylers of an About page that is written in the third person but is still relatable and provides insight into the person behind the brand.

How to write the perfect about us page

Keep it short but informative

Many people find that they either have too much to say or not enough. If you find yourself wanting to tell your life story, consider writing a separate post specifically about your journey and provide a link on the about page so that those who are interested in reading more about you can do so at their leisure. If on the other hand, you find you are stuck for words, ask a friend who knows you well to help you identify the information you should share.

Tell your brand story

Include the brand story or the history of the business and how it has changed or grown when thinking about how to write the perfect about us page. Provide some insights into why you started your business and the values your business represents. The Thankyou company does a great job of using statistics and facts to share their brand story and passion for their cause as well as introducing the key players in the business.

How to write the perfect about us page

Explain the problem your product or service solves

Describe the people that you help, outlining the typical issues that they face and how you help solve the problem for them. Here is an example by Moxie, who make sanitary products. The note from founder Mia Klitsis effectively explains problems women can easily relate to when it comes to menstruation.

How to write the perfect about us page

Share something personal

To avoid oversharing and boring your readers keep it light, humorous and exciting. After sharing your story, you could try including five things your readers may not know about you!

Choose a conversational tone

Write as if you are speaking to a friend. A great way to do this is to shorten your words.

For example, I have not been in the industry as long as others, so my ideas are fresh.

can become;

I haven’t been in the industry as long as others, so my ideas are fresh.

Keep the page engaging by breaking up the layout

Keep people reading your page by ensuring its design is pleasing to the eye. Avoid too much text, create intentional spaces and different elements for the readers such as images, video, breakout boxes and infographics.

Include an Image of yourself

An image of you is a must for an About page. Choose a high-quality image that is authentically you and demonstrates how approachable and professional you are. Photos of you doing what you love is always a good idea. If you are a gardener, include images of you in the garden. If you are a cook, then have some photos of you in the kitchen. Another option is to have a short welcome video on the page that people can view if they choose.

Introduce the team

If you have a team, then a picture of you with them can work well. The Big Group, a catering and events company, does this particularly well. They have included some fabulous fun images of their team in different working environments

How to write the perfect about us page

Include social proof

When you’re thinking about how to write the perfect about us page, remember it’s not just a bio. A great way to gain trust and credibility is to include some of your success stories, your best reviews, logos of companies you’ve worked with or awards you’ve received.

Call to action

Every good About page should have a call to action. This is a great place to encourage your readers to connect with you. A link to subscribe to your newsletter or an offer on your product or services works well here.

Don’t forget to share how your reader can get to know you better by providing your social media handles.

There is no time like the present. Its time to get writing and sharing with your readers an insight into why you do what you do.

Have you got any other tips you’d like to share?

Sarah Makris
About Sarah Makris
Sarah Makris is a Personal Branding and Communications coach based in Melbourne, Australia. She teaches clients how to upgrade their communications skills so they stand out in their industry and get the flexibility and rewards they want in their careers. Visit her website www.sarahmakris.com.au.