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  1. Encouraging my children to find a hobby, or several, that they love is really important to me.  It’s only now I’m in my 30s that I feel I have found a few hobbies of my own which mean I’m quite content spending time by myself to pursue these interests.  It means I never get bored as there is always something I can do that interests me.  In fact, I never have enough time for all my hobbies nowadays!

    I don’t want to force my children into hobbies they won’t enjoy, but I do want to encourage them to try extra-curricular activities to discover what they enjoy.  It’s also good for them to experience settings other than just home and school and interact with a broader range of people.  I hope these classes will bring them new friends and build their confidence.

    Here are some tips to help find your child a hobby they’ll love:

    Finding your child a hobby theyll love

    Ask them

    Firstly ask them.  Have a conversation about what activities they might enjoy or would love to try.  Write a list and do some local research to see what’s in your local area for their age range.  Check with their school too as they may already have after school clubs or external companies hiring the school hall or field for your child’s chosen activity.

    Encourage, but don’t force

    You may be able to tell your child’s strengths and may already have a suitable hobby in mind for them, but try to encourage this rather than enforce.  Let them find their own hobbies and interests and don’t be disheartened if they really don’t go along with your suggestion.  After all, you don’t want them to dislike something just because they feel pressured to do it and perform well just for you.  A hobby should be something they enjoy and thrive at, otherwise it will just become another chore.

    Try a taster session

    Lots of clubs offer a taster session meaning the first class is free.  This allows your child to try a variety of clubs and activities to see which they enjoy before committing to any sort of contract.  It sometimes gives parents the opportunity to stay for a session to watch, so you can also have peace of mind about the intended class.

    Only buy or rent what you need

    Think of the short term and only buy or rent what you need for the next few months.  Don’t go crazy and stock up on uniform for the next year or two, however much you want to encourage your child to commit to their new hobby. It can take time for children to find what they love and they may change their mind, lots.  Luckily you can find lots of affordable kit easily nowadays, such as great children's ballet shoes from online stores, hockey sticks, football kits and whatever else your child may need.  If they are learning a new instrument and the upfront cost is high, consider renting an instrument until you know they are serious about their hobby.

    Enjoy it with them

    If possible, then do their hobby with them sometimes.  If it’s a class then go along to watch when they have open days.  If your child has awards ceremonies or shows, make sure they can attend them and go along to show your support.  Just knowing you are there to support their interests and you’re proud of them, will really boost their confidence and help them to enjoy their hobby even more.

    Hobbies and extracurricular activities are the perfect way for your child to grow as a person and discover a lifelong passion.  Good luck finding your child’s perfect hobby!

    Related posts: 

    Bella Interview 5 years and 3 months old
    How to exercise with a toddler or children at home
    Mummy Guilt: Forcing My Daughter to Swim 
    Proud Mummy: Encouraging My Daughter to Swim

    Finding your child a hobby theyll love

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  2. Starting your own business takes a lot of effort and hard work.  There’s a great saying that goes along the lines of ‘entrepreneurs are the only people who work 80 hours to give up working 40’.  In the beginning, when you start your own business, you might very well be able to cope with everything by yourself, just about.  But as time goes on and your business grows, the amount of work­ involved can become overwhelming for a single individual.  This is when it’s time to reflect on your practices and think about adapting your processes to best allow your business to grow.

    Consider the below tips to help grow your small business:

    Actionable tips to help you grow your small business

    Seek professional advice

    For valuable business and financial advice enlist the help of a professional consultant such as Trevor McClintock.  Learn from those who have built successful businesses before and already know what works and what doesn’t.  Receiving coaching or a mentor to guide you through the next steps could be all you need to achieve your business goals.

    Automate tasks

    There are several mundane tasks that can be automated every day to save you precious time and allow you to focus on growing your business.  Email marketing, social media updates, website logins and website reporting are all examples where you can save time each day through automating.  If you sell goods use a customer management system to track orders and manage stock control.  Small businesses and the self-employed can even automate their accounting with thanks to online software such as Quickbooks.

    See also: How I save hours every week scheduling tweets with Social Oomph

    Hire a virtual assistant

    When growing a business, particularly if you are a solopreneur, you may not want to commit to hiring a permanent member of staff.  It may be too expensive at this stage and you may not have a consistent workload to give.  This is where a virtual assistant is a great idea.  As they are self-employed you can hire them on an ad-hoc basis as the workload demands.  Let them take over non-essential tasks that are wasting your precious time each day; phone calls, email filtering, bookkeeping and social media management, for example.

    As well as reducing your own personal workload and growing your business, there are several things you should focus on to maintain the business you have successfully created:

    Create an email list

    Depending on your type of business you’re going to want to be capturing emails.  Whether it’s customer emails for you to increase sales or a personal list of business contacts.  Both are beneficial to your business.  Let your website capture these emails for you with inviting sign up forms.  Growing an email list is often cited as one of the best things you can do for your business.

    Be consistent

    Have clear branding and ensure your brands message is consistent, particularly if you hire staff.  Make sure they understand the brand and represent it just as you would.  Ensure your branding is consistent across all online platforms and marketing materials.  Not only does this look professional, but it means your brand will be recognised and remembered.

    Ask for referrals & testimonials

    Ask your existing customers if they know anyone else who needs your services.  If they are happy with the service received, encourage them to spread the good word or alternatively provide you with a testimonial you can use in your marketing materials or on your website.

    Provide great customer service

    Your customers are only going to return if the service they receive is above and beyond.  Make it impossible for them not to recommend you to others or return for more.  Nurture existing customers with loyalty rewards, email newsletters and discounts to keep them interested and show appreciation for their custom.

    Related blog posts:
    The Ultimate Marketing Strategy to Give Your Business a Boost
    6 ways being online can improve your small business
    7 tips for a successful small business
    Five Ways You Can Get Ahead In Your Business
    How to get your business seen in a crowded online marketplace

    Actionable tips to help you grow your small business

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  3. The whole point of blogging is to be casual and relaxed. So, it seems counterproductive to appear as professional as possible. “Won’t that kill my vibe?” It’s easy to see why you would think that, but the reality is different. On the whole, consumers still want sites which are pretty, organised and which don’t smack of mediocrity. They are all traits of professionalism and need including in your platform as soon as possible. Bloggers may not know where to start after a lifetime of trying to be out there and uncouth, but the following can help set the story straight.

    Pro Blogger Brilliantly Unprofessional Ways To Appear Professional

    Bend The Truth

    The most reputable brands on the planet don’t tell white lies, or do they? The truth is that advertising isn’t a confession where you reveal your deepest, darkest secrets. Marketing is a dog eat dog world where competitors try to lure in new audience members and increase traffic. To hit this goal, the blog has to have a sound reputation. The good people at physicaladdress.com understand your plight and are here to help. The company provides a virtual mailbox with a physical address.  This is great for bloggers who don't want their personal address at the bottom of emails.  They'll upload your mail so you can access it virtually.  Just don't give this address out if you're reviewing products, or you'll only be able to access a photo of it!  You know, I always wondered how full time RVers managed their mail and this must be how.

    Write With Style

    The written word is still a powerful tool, even when it is conversational. A professional outfit would never use vernacular to converse with customers, but you are different. Blogs are informal spaces where readers and audience members can stop by to read funny, informative and entertaining posts. They are the exact opposite of sites with long, preppy prose which go on for ages. Therefore, it’s essential to write in a chatty style. The use of ‘you’ as well as slang adds a sense of character as well as humour. Don’t forget to add images and videos too.

    Reveal Your Features

    No, this doesn’t mean the qualities of the blog which set it out from the crowd. Well, you should do that too but that’s a different conversation. Revealing your features is about putting a face to a name. Many CEOS and bosses prefer to work in the shadows and that the brand act as the figurehead. However, shoutmeloud.com says your face is your logo and that is why people come back to read, buy, or make a conversion. Publishing an image of yourself and your family on the blog’s ‘about me’ page makes it easier for your base to relate. It also adds an element of trust and makes them like you more.

    Tell The Truth

    Remember point one where I told you to bend the truth? Well, it wasn’t entirely accurate funnily enough! White lies in marketing are a necessary evil, yet fibs don’t always help. Your base asks questions because they want to hear the truth, so lying takes away that privilege. Plus, it makes your position as an authority blogger vulnerable. When you tell a lie, another blogger could counter with the truth and make you appear silly.  Yes, you might want to lie about your real address on email newsletters, but no you shouldn't lie about yourself or your beliefs in your writing.  Stay true to yourself and your readers.

    Ultimately, unprofessional behaviour the most professional way to be a blogger!

    Related:
    Make money from your blog without Google ads 
    4 places to find paid blog opportunities
    How to improve your domain authority (DA)

     Pro Blogger_ Brilliantly Unprofessional Ways To Appear Professional

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  4. Welcome to today’s giveaway.  Today I’m giving away this beautiful scarf!

    If you love printed scarves, do pop over to my online fashion accessories boutique for a good browse where you'll find approximately 100 in stock! 

    The minimum spend is only £4.99 per order and 2nd class UK delivery is free.  Perfect for gifts for her.

    Win this scarf in my blog giveaway:

    Blog Giveaway win a blue dog fashion scarf

    The full terms and conditions are below, but simply enter using one or more of the entry methods in the Rafflecopter widget below and remember, if you win your delivery address must be in the UK.

    Good luck!

    Check out my Giveaways section for more amazing prizes!

    ENTER HERE:

    a Rafflecopter giveaway

    PLEASE PIN ME:

    Win a LYLIA ROSE Blue Dog Print Scarf

    Term and Conditions:

    • There will be one winner
    • The prize is the item pictured above
    • The prize must be claimed within 28 days of the first winner's notification email being sent.
    • There is no cash alternative
    • There is no limit on the number of entries per person, follow the instructions to enable multiple entries
    • Winners will be notified within 28 days
    • The winner must claim their prize within 28 days or it will be forfeited
    • All entries must be received by the date and time specified
    • The winner will be picked at random by Rafflecopter & notified by email
    • Giveaways are open to the UK only
    • The winner's name and county is available upon request
    • Entrants will be signed up to the Lylia Rose newsletter to receive blog posts and giveaways.  Subscribers are also entered into a monthly prize draw to win a scarf of choice from my online fashion boutique -  You can unsubscribe at any time, but this will stop your entry into the newsletter giveaway.
  5. With less than a month to go until Valentine’s Day, the loved up of us will be hunting far and wide for the perfect Valentine’s gift for our other half.  If you’re bored of the same of chocolates, flowers and perfume, then why not try to mix it up a little this year and choose her a Valentine’s gift with a twist.

    Here are some modern takes on the classic Valentine’s gift to inspire you:

    Valentines Gift Ideas For Her With A Twist

    Chocolates

    Along with flowers, this is probably the most expected gift: a box of Valentine’s chocolates.  But why not make yours more special by adding a personalised message to the chocolate itself?  There are also several online companies who can create a name or message out of the chocolate itself.  This really turns a standard gift into something extra special with a little more imagination.  You can even have the box itself personalised online at Thorntons.

    Flowers

    If you’re one of those guys who hates giving flowers because they don’t last, then think again.  There are now online florists that specialise in ‘forever flowers’.  These are real flowers that have been preserved in oils so they last at least one year.  You’ll also save on having to buy fresh flowers each week (if that’s her thing) as this bunch will last a good 52 weeks.

    Perfume

    Before you think buying her a bottle of her favourite perfume can’t get much more imaginative, you’re wrong.  For less than £100 you can let your other half create their own perfume scent.  Companies such as The Perfume Studio send a box with a complete set of fragrance accords, allowing you to create your own bottle of tailor made perfume.  The bottles can even be personalised.  Their sets allow you to create your own signature scent in the comfort of your own home.

    Photos

    Gone are the days of giving a picture of the two of you together in a nice frame, however lovely that may be.  Now you can get creative with the pics of the two of you and have them printed on literally anything from cushions, to phone covers, to chopping boards.  Instead of a framed photo, why not create a photo book of your very own love story?

    Jewellery

    With the likes of Etsy and NOTHS you can find unique handmade ethical jewellery in a flash.  These handmade pieces are so much more sentimental than buying readymade jewellery from the usual culprits.  Many of the creators offer custom designs too.

    So before you stop off at the petrol station to grab a box of chocs and bunch of roses, use a little imagination and forward planning to give her a customised thoughtful gift instead this year.

    Related blog posts:
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    Valentine’s Gift Ideas for Her with a Twist

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