Category Archives: creative tea time

Do we want a small boutique or a department store?

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Imagine your nearest supermarket. Imagine all the people working there and think of the hours that goes into running that store smoothly. The store is organized in categories and the isles are straight and clutter free. There are signs pointing you to the right direction and if you don’t find what you need, you can ask someone to assist you. Everything seems to have a logical place.
When you walk into this store and you know what you came here for. Maybe just to browse some section that interests you or you came with a shopping list. You have a clear idea where to look.
When you walk into this store you know where and how to get out.

Let’s imagine there would be a supermarket that could only pay for one employee and that person would have to do everything. This department store didn’t hire anyone to plan out the floorplan or say what goes where and on what logic. There’s only the one person who works and this person hasn’t got the time to everything.

Shopping in this store would be a nightmare!

Now lets picture that your website is a supermarket. Can you honestly say that your website is runs smoothly like this imaginary department store? Maybe it does, maybe you have a system that makes sure your website will not turn into a maze of links. I have to say that most of us can’t handle running a supermarket online or offline all by ourselves and will indeed get lost in the maze. Still, for some reason many people insist on building a huge website with many options to click and thousands of pages to scroll filled with tens of links and options.

Yes, it’s ridiculously easy to build a website but managing and optimizing a website is a different thing.

Analyzing what works and what doesn’t isn’t obvious. Improving your website, optimizing content, making it visually appealing and making it work for your goals and in a way that it meets clients needs is not a walk in the park. Problem solving and fixing broken links might take more time than you know when packing your site with links.

Managing a website is can be a fulltime job to a few people depending on the size and function of the website. A tiny boutique selling only eyewear is a fulltime job for one and easily there is work enough for few employees. Managing a website doesn’t have to be a full time job. When planning a website we should really think of time and the real job behind this site. Do we want a small boutique or a department store?

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Working for the prize only

Last week I didn’t get anything published. I was feeling bit lost and blue. The more I felt lost and blue the more I tried to come up with an amazing idea to write about and publish. Then I started thinking about writing about that!

                                         Chasing the perfect idea instead of getting something done.

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I was looking things from the bad angle. The angle where nothing is good enough and where it’s hard to see the trees from the woods.

The gaining kudos or credit angle.
The angle where you only work for the prize. The kudos angle is a complicated trap in many ways. For one it’s selfish and when trying to create something, anything for others and being selfish at the same time, well they might cancel each other out and you end up doing nothing.

We all want to be unique and create something special, right? Something completely new and memorable. To create something that would be solely traced back to one person and that person would be the creative genius and idea generator behind this amazing something.


Often we seem to care more about getting credited for ideas than actually creating meaningful or even helpful content and work. Kudos trap is slick, it hides behind “dream big” statements and “be you, be unique”. Getting our name out there, chasing that big dream, making a big impact but just dreaming and not doing anything about it. Then we feel sad and try even harder to get some amazing idea and the circle of nothing is created.

Meaningful content can be created without getting credit for an unbelievably unique idea.

Elizabeth Gilbert talked about how people treated her like she was doomed after her eat pray book was released. People were worried that she wasn’t going to come with more ideas, better ideas inspiration to work anymore.

For some reason we see creative work very different than other kind of work. Even when many jobs that don’t seem creative need creativity. We think that creativity and work don’t really mix. But gaining credit is something we always see the same. We also think that what we get credited for and what we publish is all that matters. We need witnesses to get credit.

We have a choice to be the person who gets credited for chasing the most amazing, unique idea or we can be the person who got something done. Getting something done requires taking responsibility and understanding that this might not lead anywhere. But focusing on the responsibility of creating and getting work and will make getting work and much easier. From crap ideas there can come a realization of a better idea. We get better with practise.

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10 reasons to start a newsletter

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1.FUN

Newsletters are fun. Not always. But mostly newsletters are fun.
It’s fun to see people subscribing and your list growing. It’s fun interact with your readers and really bond with them.

2.NEW

It’s something new every week! If you have never had a newsletter then doing something new is refreshing. New ideas, new people, new opportunities…

3.LEARN

Learning will happen if you are open to it. Writing weekly, photographing weekly or just
creating new ideas weekly or even few times a month will sharpen and hone your skills. There is great opportunity to learn something new about your readers, yourself and maybe even learn a new skill.

4.VALUE

Good newsletters provide valuable content to their readers and bad newsletters provide value to the creator of that bad newsletter. A bad newsletter is valuable because it provides the opportunity to question and make improvements and learn. Good newsletters are valuable because they help creating a online community and people to connect and get to know each other

5.ENGAGE

The word engage can be translated into around 25 ways in Finnish. Engagement
happens many ways through newsletters. People will take action in surprising ways and react in ways you couldn’t predict. You’ll make promises to send emails weekly or less frequently and this is a form of engagement. You will work to create content, you’ll do editing, you’ll engage in conversations…

6.NETWORKING

Get to know someone. Show interest, be interested. Open up to someone getting to know you. Be open to communicate and introduce people to each other. Why not?

7.SHARE

Sharing is caring. There is ton of stuff that you can give and different ways you can give. By giving you could help something and someone. Share what you love, share what your readers love. Share what you don’t love or care for, share a conversation, share ideas, share recipes and moments. Share feelings and lessons learned.

8.FEEL

Like crap. Ashamed, joyful, content, tired, happy, sad, angry. Were dealing with people and dealing with people tends to be emotional.  See how you feel when you let your feelings guide you. Guide your actions towards how you would like to feel. Oh emails and newsletters and people and groups of people, there’s a lot of feelings involved.

9.MISTAKES

Do them and learn how to react. Learn how to make things OK or even fix your  mistakes. Learn how to deal with the fact that everything didn’t go as planned. Do different kinds of mistakes and see if anyone sees or cares.

10.EXPERIENCE

Experience a rainbow of feelings. Experience the joy of getting something done.
Experience how it feels to have routines. Experience how being loyal makes you feel and what it does for your community. Experience being helpful, experience being a time waster. Experience something new. Experience something… See how it goes.

If you don’t like reading you could still love newsletters!

Are you curious about newsletters and would like to create your own, but feel guilty because you keep subscribing to newsletters, but never actually read them?
Or maybe you need to create a newsletter, but you don’t actually believe in newsletters because you don’t read any of the ones you’ve subscribed to.

Don’t worry.
First Of All you shouldn’t feel guilty or ashamed. I think it’s great that you know what you like and what you don’t like. Stay true to your taste!

There are many different types of newsletters, but if you are a newbie (and even if you have subscribed to many) chances are you have seen only a few types and if you are not happy with them it’s OK.

If the reason why you keep deleting or unsubscribing to newsletter is that you don’t actually like reading you have the options of subscribing to newsletter with audios, videos or just images with minimal amount of text.

You could also try to create your own audios or even videos if you prefer them over written word.  A beautiful newsletter filled with gorgeous photos would be lovely too.

Not all newsletters have to be filled with minimum 1000 words and heavy with information and facts.

You might want to think about the subjects you are reading about. If you not liking to read it might be because you are not interested in the subject you are reading.

How to organize your inbox

Are you drowning in email and getting lost in your inbox?
Do you remember when was the last time you didn’t have a single unread new email waiting to be dealt with? I have around 85 unread emails and by main inbox folder is nearly empty. Those 85 unread emails can wait for sure and I’m not worried or stressed about getting to them. These emails have been organized in a way that doesn’t bother my work or flood my main inbox folder. I’ve created a system where I’m not overwhelmed with the amount of email I’m getting. But of course I love email and subscribing to awesome newsletters. If you don’t, we’ll need to work on that later if you would like. But today I could help you relieve that  stressful situation in your inbox.
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Here are some tips to get you started and helping you get to the surface of that sea of of email. Take a cup of tea if you would like this might take a few minutes and a cup of good tea is always a good idea.

Steps for clearing and relaxing your inbox

Folder time
You should have at least one folder that you’ve created yourself for your inbox. You’ve got two choices for naming these folders: important or not important. Important folder means that everything that goes into that folder needs to be dealt before you can get to the rest of your mail. This works best if you have one email and lot of different types of mail coming in but very limited amount of time sensitive messages. Not important folder is for all the emails that can wait. These messages and emails are not time sensitive and don’t have to be answered in the next few days or at all. Everything that doesn’t go into ‘not important’ folder needs to be dealt within a couple of days. (I know there are people who don’t check their email this often and if you are one of those people and still find yourself being stressed and overwhelmed with your email, then feel free to leave a comment on this post and maybe I can help you) Later you can go deeper into the wonderful world of folders and get a little more creative with organizing your inbox. I’ll do another post just for inbox folders.

Get clear and find your focus
What is your main focus with this email account? Is it for business, school, work or just personal? If you don’t know you better find out. Not knowing where your focus is with an email account might lead to the drowning feeling all over again. You can use that same account for multiple purposes but it should have a main focus. Meaning that all emails that are related to this subject are more important than other mail regarding something else. Let’s say that you are a student, then school related mails trump subscription from Asos or your weekly email from Pinterest (these can wait). There are exceptions let’s go with the same school example. Let’s imagine that you’ve applied to some jobs and are using that same account. In these situations you want to be on top of your school work but also you don’t want to lose that important email regarding a job opportunity. Then you really want to keep your main inbox clear from unimportant not time sensitive mail.

Prioritize
Now it is time to prioritize your emails and your email tasks and habits. With emails there are actions like read, answer, categorize and delete. If you are not on top of your habits and mindful about time spent on working on your emails, you might find yourself spending too much time and increasing your stress. What is the most important goal to with your focus subject? Maybe it’s work and you finding a new job. This might mean that you need to write and send emails. Then writing and sending emails are your top priority. Reading emails is only second and being careful about what emails you actually open and read is important. If it’s not work related and exceptionally important it can wait until you get your applications sent or whatever you need to do.

Extra tip
Reading starts before opening an email and opening an email can lead to time wasted. Most of the time the subject line and the senders information should be enough for you to know what to do with it without actually opening that email. If it’ isn’t top priority, don’t open it before you’ve done your most urgent email tasks, even if you might be curious. Just like reading, answering and categorizing and deleting messages have more to be noticed. Well talk about that later in another post. Setting different time for different email related tasks can ease your overwhelm.

Just few extra biscuits for your tea time with email
*If one account seems not enough don’t hesitate to add a second account.
*Get to know your inbox features
*Don’t be afraid to try out different email account providers they are not all the same If you liked this article and want more tips on emails and newsletters sign up for a weekly dose of inboxteatime 

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3 things that emails and cups of tea have in common

Emails are a lot like life and tea when it comes to the saying “life is like a cup of tea it’s all in how you make it…”

Cups of tea and emails
1. They are easy to learn how to make
You don’t have to struggle much to send an email and it’s quite easy to receive one. Also it doesn’t take too much time and require many appliances and stages (like maybe making a crockenbouche).

2. It’s hard to fail
You don’t have to be a trained chef to make a great cup of tea. You can learn at home at your own pace and experiment on different flavors and types of emails and also tea. If you know how to boil water and get a cup you are half way there. It’s the same with emails, if you know how to type even your name you are capable of creating some pretty good emails.

3. Making more its quite easy
Serving multiple guests a cup of tea doesn’t take an acrobat and so if you need to connect with many via email it’s almost as easy as pouring a cup of tea. Except when sending the same email to 12 people you don’t actually have to do it 12 times so maybe it’s easier than pouring a cup of tea!

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4 excuses that are not valid

Why should a small business owner start a newsletter

There is something wonderful in newsletters. It’s amazing how versatile and creative they can be. They are a great way to deepen customer relations and highlight your brand.
What a lovely way to get to know your customers and gain important insight so you can do your work even better.
Here are some reasons that are not valid reasons for not starting a newsletter.

Are you busy?

Then starting a newsletter might be one of the best investments of your time that you could do. With a newsletter you can do customer service, promote, do customer research and keep growing and deepening the relationship with your customers and clients.
You don’t need to spend 3 hours every night to have a great email newsletter. You can start with a couple of days in a month even. You can start with 15 min a week even.

Are your resources limited?

That’s not a problem or a reason to say not to starting your newsletter.
Newsletters work well with limited time and budget. Newsletters are flexible and they can be fitted to many needs. You can start a newsletter with very minimal budget.

You don’t like spending time on computers?

No problem. There are great time and energy saving resources like AWeber and Mailchimp.
You could even write your letters by hand and then type them out for sending.
There are even ways you could limit the time spent on computers and still have a wonderful newsletter.

You hate learning new technology?
That’s OK. You could still love newsletters. Emails are in a way very old school and very user friendly.

What is your excuse or reason for not starting your newsletter yet?

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Warning: Blank Page

As I’m writing this post I’m sipping tea from a mug that I got as a wedding gift. I’m sitting comfortably on the sofa under a blanket. I’m listening to music. I’m making these moments really enjoyable these days. What’s not enjoyable is the anxiety of facing a blank page and feeling empty.

Nothing to say.
Complete stillness. Without a blink it waits. It’s there for you.
Blank Page.
Do you ever get afraid of it?

I’m sure many do.
Even when I write every day I get scared of that white stillness. I’m sure it’s normal. It’s ok to be scared.

Are you postponing writing something because suddenly you don’t feel inspired?
Procrastination gnawing time away…
Or every time you even take a peek at that blank page you remember ten other things you should do?
Hiding behind “I’m so busy” veil.

Whatever the excuse is, the fact is if you want something you need to do something. If you want to get some writing done, some writing needs to happen.
Getting frustrated, angry or avoiding writing completely won’t help.

Using a pen might help, have you tried it? Not a pencil, but a nice pen with a good flow.
That’s how I start most of my blog posts – old school.
There is something wonderfully satisfying about observing handwriting and seeing that page fill up. Handwriting reflecting my emotions. I can see if I’m nervous, relaxed, confident or excited.
For some reason my fear of blank pages is much less when using real paper. Even when that paper doesn’t have any lines or grid.

It’s so much more satisfying editing a full post or an article than getting stuck on every sentence before the whole thought is even let out.

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Remember pen pals?

I still love putting pen to paper and writing like that

I do. I remember even who I was writing nearly twenty years ago. I remember the excitement when our 3rd grade english teacher gave us the opportunity to get a penpal from a different country. I remember reading horse magazines and scanning through the sections where people were looking for penpals.
Few years later I got my first email address and immediately I wanted to get a “penpal” to write emails with. I subscribed to some early day newsletters and was so excited to get email.

Some more years later I was starting my first business. I spent too much time online, subscribing to tons of newsletters and trying to figure out what was the key to success.
I slowly (or not that slowly) started spending more time on figuring out communication aspects of a business and online marketing, social media. This was not good for my business! A surprise and a defining moment.

Most of online marketing experts tell that it’s good if you take your business online. Most of any kind of business coach, mentor or even the kids at middle school know that online and social media is where everything happens.
Yes, and no. My business was local and I had to meet clients face to face, facetime or Skype wasn’t enough. My clients meetings were offline and I was spending more time online.
This was a route that led me close my first business. There were other factors involved (Like the fact that I hate phones) but now I do know this was the best that could have happened.

After closing my first local business I started to explore opportunities to soak myself in communication, technology and online media. I enrolled to school for a year and that year clarified to me that this is the right path.
Starting the Inbox Tea Time journey gets me excited like that little girl got excited on writing a new letter to a penpal. I hope you find a way to have a good time with emails and newsletters. Maybe inbox tea time can help you find that good time.

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How to End the nagging feeling that you are a copycat

No kittens were hurt!

That nagging feeling or the annoying voice in your head whispering that you have nothing original to say or that you feel like a copycat. Know what I’m talking about?
Or maybe you are hiding behind other peoples content and instead of creating your own content and making space for conversation you keep just shyly linking to blogs and websites with great content.

Surprisingly a little guilty pleasure might help.

First I’ll tell you a secret: I’m hooked on essiebuttons youtube videos. Behind essiebuttons is Estée, a fresh and sweet youtube and blogger professional, creating videos and writing about lifestyle but focusing mainly on the beauty side of life. She is one half of a sweet couple living in London, with a cute and modern love story. Together they own a gorgeous and silly greyhound.
I’m a busy modern day woman who shouldn’t have time for light amusement like the sorts. Oh, but I do have time and I make time because it’s helpful and it fuels my creativity.

What’s the helpful guilty pleasure that can help you too?
– Relaxing by reading blogs outside your business field!

Getting a nice mug of freshly made tea, getting a soft pair of wool socks or slippers, then getting comfy under a throw blanket with your laptop. Soak up that passion of people who are completely in a different field. This is helpful because it’s guilt free inspiration time.
Curling up on the sofa with my dogs, latest knit project and watching Essies videos is my idea of a relaxing evening.

I feel that is refreshing to even look at blogs and websites that have a completely different feel and visual vibe than what I see in online marketing or communications sites. But the content is inspirational too!

My guilty pleasures are beauty and style blogs. Choose yours by visiting blogs and websites that do not participate on your field of business. Something that you will enjoy but seems to be completely a waste of work time. Something that an annoying voice might say “you have better things to do”

Here are 3 lessons we can learn from beauty bloggers

1. Share your excitement unapologetically

Are you familiar with hauls and unpacking?
These hauls are videos or blog post about someone getting excited about new products they just got. Unpacking is a way to share first impressions. This type of content might seem crazy, random or even lazy. But sharing honest feelings helps your audience to connect with you.
Share something that you are excited about and fuel your content with that emotion.
In the beauty blogger world you can’t really crown yourself the perfume queen and forbid anyone else talking about eau de toilettes and scents. In the same way in your field there are plenty of topics already covered but a fresh point of view is warmly welcome.

2. Embrace your weirdness by giving it a warm hug

Do you love eating something a little strange like salad with cheese flavored crisps for lunch or maybe your morning routines are a little different and something your friends might describe weird. Gently guided curiosity can be turned to a creative tool.

What’s in your bag? Yes there are people both interested to find out what others carry in their purses and bags and people happy to share the insides of their bags. Yes that is weird. But that’s cool. The willingness to be open is awesome!

Being this comfortable with your community is amazing.

Share your weird curiosities and learn something new about your customers. Your weirdness might be helpful for them. Instead of always playing safe get comfortable in the “why not”.
Sharing your weird habits is something that often comes with a unique story.
Curiosity did kill the cat, the copycat!

3. Sharing is caring

Getting free products is cool but it’s much more convenient to actually learn something.
Beauty bloggers are very generous in their how to guides and giving information about what they have learned.

We’re here to help and giving something for free can make you be kinder to yourself.
Being friendly might relax you and take the pressure of from creating “professional” content and checking if there’s enough value to meet the price tag. Sharing your wisdom and even your mistakes and regrets is caring about your audience.

There are different ways to share your knowledge and lessons learned. If you are stuck in the same way of doing it, then take a peek what others are doing in a different field.

And you can get to know my favorite beauty blogger by visiting her website http://www.essiebutton.com/

What is your guilty pleasure blog?

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