What you’ll learn in this interview:
- Why you should always start (and launch!) before you’re ready
- How to automate parts of your blogging process to work smarter, not harder
- My best productivity hacks: one involves being watched by a stranger!
- Where someone who runs a blog to inspire women turns to when she needs inspiration
- Why you should never burn bridges, in blogging or business
How This Lifestyle Blogger Runs Her Business Behind The Scenes
1. What do you do? Who do you help?
My name is Emma Norris and I’m from the sunny Sydney, Australia.
I’m the founder of the women’s lifestyle blog A Girl In Progress, where I help women accept themselves exactly as they are, while working to become the best version of themselves.
Within my first year of blogging, I’ve the grown the blog to 90,000 monthly readers, over 10,000 Instagram followers and even scored a book deal with a global publishing house through the blog (coming in May 2020!)
I’m also the founder of Blogging in Progress, where I help businesses and bloggers generate quality leads, grow their influence and create passive income through blogging and content marketing.
When I’m not writing, I also run a podcast called A Day In Progress, where I interview women about the daily routines, productivity hacks and planning tools that set them up for success.
2. List your favorite business tools
- Planoly – I love this app for planning out my Instagram feed ahead of time and making sure everything flows and looks consistent and aesthetically pleasing.
- Facebook groups – This isn’t really a tool, per se, but Facebook groups have been absolutely instrumental for me in growing my business, as well as my blog. I find a lot of clients, contributors and collaborators in here and I’ve also used our amazing Girls In Progress FB group to build a loyal tribe around the brand. FB groups are a seriously underrated resource and they’re quickly growing to become the focus of Facebook — so get on the bandwagon now!
- Meet Edgar – I’m a huge fan of automation (especially when it comes to the blog), so this program is an absolute game-changer for me. You can load in all of your blog posts, set a schedule and it will automatically post your blogs on Facebook/Linkedin/Twitter in your chosen time slots. Genius!
- Mailchimp – I have been using Mailchimp for my email marketing since I started the blog and although it’s getting a bit pricier as my email list grows, it’s yet to fail me. You can create really beautiful custom newsletters on there and it makes it super easy to segment your lists.
- TryInteract – I recently used this platform to create a ‘what kind of blogger are you?’ quiz as an opt-in on my new Blogging In Progress website, which I’m going to use to segment my email list into different types of readers/customers and create email content accordingly. It was super easy to set up and integrate with my Mailchimp, so I’m impressed so far!
- The A Girl In Progress Goal setting worksheet – I might be a bit biased with this one, but I love our A Girl In Progress goal-setting worksheet! It breaks your big goals (across categories like career, health, money and personal) into smaller, more manageable chunks so you can take weekly action to achieve them. You can download it here.
- Momentum – I’ve tried so many to-do list apps, but this one is my favorite my far. It’s actually a Chrome browser extension that pops up every time you open your browser. It’s a personal dashboard that gives you a beautiful photo and inspiring quote each day. You can also create to-do lists and set your intention for the day, which I find really useful to help me focus on what’s important. It’s free, but I actually upgraded to the premium version (which was only a few dollars) which allows you to set countdowns up the top of the screen and I use this to remind me of what deadlines I have coming up.
- Focusmate – Okay, so this is going to sound crazy, and at first I definitely thought it was too! But I use a free virtual co-working program called Focusmate, which pairs you with a virtual study buddy for 50-minute, focused productivity sprints. You tell each other what you’re working on and they’re there in the background (via video) while you work away, then you both check in again at the end and say how you went. It’s definitely a little strange to begin with, but I’ve been about 10 x more productive since I started using it. The accountability of being ‘watched’ (even though they’re not actually watching you, they’re just doing their own thing) works absolute wonders for people like me who like to multitask and can’t sit still for longer than 5 minutes!
- Adios – I use this app to only send my email to my inbox at certain time slots each day (for me, 3 times per day). However, there is a way you can check it earlier than that, so I need to get better at actually sticking to it!
- Dubsado – I use this platform to send out all my proposals, contracts and invoices and keep track of everything from one place. My clients always comment on how streamlined the process is, which is really nice to hear!
- Raiz – (Otherwise known as Acorns in the US) I was never able to save money before I started using this app! It automatically rounds up your spare change from transactions and invests it, but I mainly use it as a savings account that’s hard for me to access (ie. it would take me around 5 days for the money to hit my account, so I normally don’t bother) with recurring direct debits.
3. What is a good course, website or book you would recommend and why?
- Kate Toon’s Recipe to SEO: I actually get the majority of my blog traffic from SEO, so I highly recommend this course to help you learn the fundamentals of SEO. It not only covers writing for SEO, but also the more technical aspects when it comes to setting up your blog. It’s an excellent, value-packed course and Kate is a great teacher.
Girlboss and The Everygirl are probably my two favorites, because they offer such relatable, practical and actionable content for millennial women and this is definitely something I hope to emulate in my own brand. Refinery29’s Money Diaries and Apartment Therapy are also my guilty pleasures — I’m so nosy and love to see how other people live!
I’ve been outsourcing a lot more in the last year (ie. a VA, Facebook group manager, editorial assistant, illustrator for Instagram posts) and Tim Ferris’ The Four Hour Work Week was definitely the book that started it all for me. It made me realize that in order to really scale and grow your business, you need to invest in the right people. My partner and I also plan to travel the world as digital nomads next year, so it got me really excited for that!
I also love anything by Jen Sincero and Sarah Knight — they both have such a hilarious, no-bullsh*t writing style but deliver really valuable and inspiring advice you can easily put into practice in your own life.
4. What is the best piece of advice you have received?
- I’m quite close with my Aunt and she is an amazing businesswoman. Something she’s really instilled in me is to never burn any bridges. This is something I’ve really taken with me over the course of my career. Whether it’s leaving a job or parting ways with a client, I’ve always made a big effort to end things on a positive note, and those editors have come back to hire me for other freelance roles, or those clients have referred me on to other clients. So, it’s definitely important to always take the high road, be considerate and treat people with kindness and grace (that’s just the right thing to do, anyway!
5. What advice would you give to other entrepreneurs?
- My biggest piece of advice to entrepreneurs is: start before you’re ready! I’m all about progress over perfection. I don’t believe in waiting until the ‘perfect’ time, or until that project is 100% ready, because perfect doesn’t exist. If I’m excited about something, I would rather just get it out into the world when its 90% ready, so it can start generating interest/readers/leads/hype. You can always go back and fine tune things as you go!
6. What is your beauty and/or fitness routine?
My beauty routine is quite simple and unfussy! However, I’m all about higher investment, lower maintenance beauty. I love getting lash lifts and tints, eyebrow waxes and tint/henna and keratin treatments that will keep me looking polished for longer with less daily effort on my part.
In terms of skincare, I take my makeup off with makeup wipes and I cleanse in the shower (morning and night) with a foaming gentle cleanser from the brand Go-To. I then moisturize with a natural moisturizer from the brand Saya (it smells sooooo good!) I also try to exfoliate around once a week.
In terms of makeup, I normally use an illuminating primer, tinted moisturizer, concealer under the eyes, Urban Decay Naked eyeshadow, Benefit mascara, Nars blush and eyebrow tint (if they’re not already tinted) And, I can never leave the house without a slick of lip tint, balm or lipstick!
I wash my hair around once every three days and barely style it, but I do use the styling brush tool from the Dyson Airwrap kit. It takes it from wet to smooth and straight within about 15 minutes without any damaging heat styling. It’s freakin’ amazing!
I’m usually a heavy weights lifting girl, but recently I’ve been going Barry’s Bootcamp 2-3 times a week and I absolutely love it. They’re 55-minute workouts split into half treadmill sprints, half weight training.
It’s very challenging and you leave absolutely dripping with sweat, but the pumping beats and nightclub-esque atmosphere is so motivating and really keeps you going! The studios are also beautiful and they have the most delicious smoothies. In general, I take much the same approach to my fitness as I do my career — work smarter, not harder
7. List the products or items that are indispensable in your life
- A backpack with a laptop sleeve (I’m always on the go and working in cafes and co-working spaces)
- My noise-cancelling Bose headphones as I love to listen to music and podcasts when I’m on public transport. I also use them while I’m working and listen to a playlist called ‘Deep Focus’ on Spotify
- My Dyson Airwrap
8. Which female entrepreneur(s) do you look up to and why?
Jenna Kutcher (founder of the Goal Digger brand and marketing entrepreneur), Zoe Foster-Blake (writer and founder of Go-To Skincare) and Drew Barrymore (probably needs no introduction but actress and founder of the Flower brand) are three women who really inspire me.
They’ve grown their service-based talents (photography, writing and acting, respectively) into full-blown empires that give them amazing balance to work, travel and spend time with their family. Most importantly, they’ve remaining incredibly humble and down-to-earth in the process!
9. List your social media platforms.
- Website www.agirlinprogress.com, www.blogginginprogress.com
- Instagram @_agirlinprogress, @emmajanenorris
- Facebook @agirlinprogressblog
- Pinterest @agirlinprogress