Hello Alicia. Please introduce yourself to the Glitterati Girls:
I’m Alicia Cowan, social media + online marketing mentor at AliciaCowan.com, and creator of the online training community Twitter Brilliance.
Tell me a bit about your business:
I demystify social media and online marketing for solo workers and entrepreneurs. I teach them how to create buzz for their business and be brilliant online using time efficient, results oriented systems so that they can enjoy the business and life of their dreams!
Describe your typical day/week schedule.
The beauty of running my own business means that I get to choose my schedule, and I like to keep things varied! I listen to my body and energy levels – sometimes that means starting at 8am, other times it’s 11am. The time I start will determine when I finish but if I start early I like to take an extra long break for lunch and begin my ‘second shift’ working into the evening.
I’ve got the worst habit of reaching for my phone the moment I wake up no matter what time it is. Checking the time ALWAYS leads to browsing my emails, social media and the weather (what can I say? I’m a weather obsessed Brit!). It actually works for me because it means I’m not distracted by emails as a first task when I start work – I’ve already done it.
After I’ve fed Humphrey, my cat, I rustle up a nutrient-packed green smoothie and mentally prepare for the day. Three times a week that involves a 4 mile run in the park where I have my best ideas. Sometimes I’ll be blessed with a shopping list of beauties. So desperate am I to remember them that I have to race back home to note them down. Then, I get on with my day…
How do you plan and organise your time? What are your biggest challenges with this? What tips can you offer?
Over the years I’ve learnt to plan my time according to my needs and energy zones. For instance, I’m not great in the morning – I hit my best time after lunch so I don’t schedule important meetings or calls too early.
This works well for me as many of my contacts, team and clients are based in the US who are up to 9 hours behind where I’m based in London and Ibiza so I do most of my own business planning and marketing in the morning. It’s not unusual for me to be working into the evening.
I plan my next week out before finishing up on a Friday but I love to lock everything down on Mondays getting a head start on big tasks and I use Fridays as a ‘mop up’ day to clear the decks before the weekend. That means I usually keep meetings to Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursdays.
Email is my biggest distraction so I keep it closed for big chunks of the day. Another distraction which is harder to control is social media! As it’s part of my business I often have to go check things on Facebook or Twitter and invariably the moment I’m in I lose myself and momentarily forget why I’m there! A good tip I practice is remembering my intention before jumping in so that I can do what I need and jump out again without too much interruption.
My biggest challenge when planning my time is that my days can easily span 12-15 hours. This used to be a regular occurrence but having burnt myself out working long hours and 7 day weeks in the past I have more discipline now. These days I’m mindful of why I choose to work for myself – the freedom and lifestyle that creates for me – so I make a point of making the most of that.
[Tweet “”I’m mindful of why I choose to work for myself, the freedom and lifestyle that creates for me, so I make a point of making the most of that” @AbsoluteAlicia via @EmmaGwillim”]
What are your essential office tools?
I can’t work without…
Seize the Year planner – a lovely designed wall planner for the year. It’s not only functional but also looks great! Mapping out my year and seeing it laid out in front of me keeps me focussed, motivated and inspired.
My desktop PC is a big hulk of a thing with lots of memory and I have a Mac Air for when I’m working away from my office. Plus my iPhone – it’s my back pocket computer.
Notepads – my guilty work pleasure. I’m forever scribbling in notebooks and doing that in a nice book is much more fun and productive than on the back of an envelope!
Are there any websites or apps that you’d recommend to other entrepreneurial women?
I have soooo many but here are my top picks…
Hootsuite and Buffer for managing my social media marketing. I believe without tools like these you can’t successfully manage your online marketing and expect results from your efforts.
Google Apps for everything from email, my calendar and documents so I can easily share them with my team, and access them from anywhere.
Trello is a new addition for me. I’m using it to manage the 4th launch of Twitter Brilliance happening in October. It’s a free and really intuitive project management system to share out tasks with my team. I LOVE it.
Contactually is a really fabulous contact manager that helps me manage my relationships with private clients and prospects. Follow-ups are key for running a successful coaching business and Contactually helps me do that easily saving me time and brain space.
Dropbox. This has been an invaluable tool since I started my business over four years ago. It’s ideal for file sharing, especially big files, and it means I can access my files wherever I am – whether I’m on my desktop or working from my laptop in Ibiza or my iPhone on the go.
Skype for keeping in touch with mostly everyone. Many of my 1:1 client sessions and consultancy calls happen over Skype, although Google Hangout is becoming a firm favourite for mastermind sessions and group meetings.
As for websites, I’m a regular contributor to Women Unlimited and I also love the digital monthly magazine This Girl Means Business – both have fabulous articles and tools to inspire and educate female entrepreneurs.
Describe your workspace and how it integrates with your working style. How does it motivate/focus your work?
It was always my intention to be location independent so that I could work from anywhere I choose. It means that working from cafes, my garden or Ibiza, where I’ve recently bought an apartment with my husband, is easy. I love the feeling of space and freedom that presents.
Saying that, I get more done working in my home office and prefer the familiarity of a base. That’s why having a place in Ibiza is a perfect solution for me.
I strongly believe that working should be a pleasurable experience so wherever I am I make my workspace as inviting and comfortable as possible. I want it to be a space that’s practical and also soothes, motivates and inspires me creatively. My essential office items are all within easy reach and I add finishing touches; fun notepads, fresh flowers, candles, mood lighting and my favourite music making my work more of an entertaining past time than hard graft.
[Tweet “”I strongly believe that working should be a pleasurable experience” @AbsoluteAlicia via @emmagwillim”]
What book has most inspired you?
Wow, so many! The books I’ve read most recently that had a profound affect on my outlook are Start With Why by Simon Sinek and Anything You Want by Derek Sivers. Next on my reading list is Turning Pro by Steven Pressfield.
What’s your typical working lunch?
I always start the day with a powerful green smoothie to rev me up for the day. I make enough for an extra hit mid afternoon. Lunch is usually something light – fresh fruit, some rice cakes with almond butter and banana. Yum!
And how do you switch off once the working day is done?
Even though I often work into the evening I don’t work too late – for me that spells doom for a good night’s sleep. My working day ends when my husband comes home or Humphrey nags me to pay him attention.
My wind down process starts with me checking my schedule for the next day, giving my desk a tidy and switching everything off in my office (so I can’t sneak back in to do ‘just one more thing’).
I’ll catch up with Matt, maybe watch some TV, read a book. I’m learning Spanish and spend 15-30 minutes a day on that. In the evening I make a point of trying not to check my phone for emails, Twitter or Facebook updates. Working in social media, that’s a hard ask!
What makes your life sparkle?
Having the freedom to create a business I love and knowing that I’m helping many other business owners do the same by helping them get their message out into the world. Meeting countless business owners online – learning and being inspired by them everyday thanks to social media and the internet – that gives me goosebumps! Hanging out with my husband,Matt, Humphrey the cat and friends in the sunshine.
Alicia Cowan is a social media and online marketing mentor for solo workers, and creator of the online Twitter training community, Twitter Brilliance. Having been featured on ProBlogger and Social Media Examiner, in 2013 TopRank named her one of the UK’s top 50 online marketing influencers and bloggers.
Alicia combines her love of systems and marketing geekery with straight talking clarity. Finding simple ways for her clients to attract more business buzz in an authentic and practical way is what she gets excited about.
You can sign up for her bitesize marketing tips here