Focusing on mental health will give you the confidence you need to trust your instincts to know what is best for you. You know your needs better than any other person, device, or app. So don't rely on others to validate your feelings. Trust yourself.

Why I’m Taking a Mental Health Break from my Smartwatch

Too much of a good thing can still be unhealthy. Just like obsessing over food, nutrition, or fitness can cause burnout, so can the little things we think are helping us. I was sick recently with a sinus infection, and I knew my body was working extra hard to kick the cold to the curb. I could physically feel my heart racing, and I told myself not to, but I couldn’t stop checking my heart rate and stress levels on my watch. I knew my body was stressed, I knew why it was stressed, but I still looked at my stats and panicked every time. Classic self-sabotage right there.

Focusing on mental health will give you the confidence you need to trust your instincts to know what is best for you. You know your needs better than any other person, device, or app. So don't rely on others to validate your feelings. Trust yourself.

This week, I’m feeling back to my old self. All my stats (including blood pressure) went back to normal, and I just can’t stop thinking about why I put myself through that. I should have given myself a break. I should have given my body the space and grace it needed to get better.

Mental health doesn’t always need to be focused on how you’re feeling right here and now. It can also be simply acknowledging a worry or feeling that you already had, taking note of what happened, and being aware of how you can make adjustments. You don’t have to fix everything immediately.

So it’s a bit retroactive, but I’m giving myself that mental health break now. No smartwatch this week. Let’s face it, we all know that 90% of the time we look at our smartwatches it’s not to see what time it is. A health coach once told me that we’re guaranteed 5,000 steps a day, and you have to work for the rest. As a parent of excited toddlers, I’m pretty sure I’m guaranteed at least 7,000 steps. I’ve also worked really hard at being in-tune with my body along my health journey the past few years. I know when something feels off and I don’t need a watch to tell me so.

You’ll see this theme often in my self-care messaging and it’s to trust yourself. Let your own mind and body drive your decisions. Do not let external people, things, or ads influence how you think you should feel. You are doing a great job keeping yourself and your little ones healthy, so keep on going and take that mental health break from whatever stressor is causing you doubt.


Heart Healthy and Healthy Living Blog | bethbackes.com

Identify the areas in your life that need more self-care | bethbackes.com

Identifying Areas in your Life To Focus on Self-Care

What is an unexpected way you find yourself practicing self-care? For me, it’s paying attention to the out-of-the-ordinary aches and pains of my body. We put a lot of strain on our bodies through pregnancy and keeping up with toddlers. I believe I’m referred to as a geriatric millennial, and honestly, I get it. I’m sitting here writing a post about how my joints hurt for crying out loud… and I just used to term for crying out loud. So yeah, it me.

Need help identifying areas of your life that need the most self-care? Look inward and trust your instincts. Many times, it's the thing we're putting off or neglecting because we don't want the attention on ourselves. But you deserve that attention and focus.

But anyway, I developed tendinitis in my wrist from carrying around my 1-year-old so much this past year, and knee problems from squatting with improper form to pick her up 10 billion times a day. Because of the pandemic, I’ve had more time with my kids (not complaining about that!), but at the same time family and friends haven’t been around as much to share the carrying/cuddling duties, and my body really feels it.

I thought I could push through if it only hurt when I picked her up, but it eventually got so bad I could barely type on my computer, and that got me thinking. Us moms tend to “push through” things too often on the mom side of things, until the issue starts to affect other areas of our lives. I was seriously willing to wince in pain every time I picked up my daughter, until I realized it was also affecting my work life too. Most of the time, we give everything we’ve got to our families and work, and don’t leave any space for ourselves.

So here is your cue to tune in to your mind and body and notice how you’re really feeling. Don’t just push through something to make it work. Identify the heart of the issue and find something you can do for yourself to make it better. It could be something seemingly little, like a little pain in your wrist, that could improve multiple aspects of your life if you gave it the attention it needs. Be true to yourself, practice self-care, and never forget to treat yo’ self.

The lotus flower is an inspiration to me as a mom. A symbol of triumph for its ability to grow strong and beautiful through muddy, imperfect conditions.
The lotus flower is an inspiration to me, as a mom. A symbol of triumph for its ability to grow strong and beautiful through muddy, imperfect conditions. Through the murky waters blooms a clean, bright, beautiful flower.
It’s the perfect metaphor for this messy and unpredictable thing we call mom life.

Heart Healthy and Healthy Living Blog | bethbackes.com

Hydration Pro-Tip Series Beat The Summer Heat by bethbackes.com

How to Rehydrate After a Day in the Sun

We drink a lot of water over here. But even so, it’s still not enough to keep up with the summer heat. In our house, we call this the sunshine hangover.

Last weekend we spent most of the time outside playing hard. We lathered up the sunscreen multiple times, made sure to drink our water (I had 10 glasses!), and indulged in lots of fresh, juicy fruit. And yet, I still woke up totally parched, headachy, elevated heart rate, and hot. Dude, what’s the deal, sun?!? I just want to hang out with my kids outdoors and not feel like I partied all night long!

There are a few “hangover” electrolyte drinks that I swear by to get me through the after-sun post-party feeling without all the sugar. I’m usually feeling good an hour or two after waking up if I drink one of these first thing, before my coffee.

Did you spend a little too much time in the sun and are feeling dehydrated? Check out my 3 favorite ways to overcome the sunshine hangover and get feeling back to normal in no time!

Beachbody Energize

You can’t buy this one at the store or on Amazon, but it’s my absolute favorite and the one I swear by. I can hook you up with one of my good friends, and Beachbody Coach, if you want it. I add double the amount of water it calls for to maximize my water intake while still getting the flavor and nutrients to fend off the hangover feeling.

Biolyte

My favorite local pharmacy carries this (check out yours too — shoutout to shopping small!!!), and I like to keep a few in the back of my fridge for when they’re needed most and I need an ice cold drink to feel better. There are a bunch of flavors, fun seasonal ones too, and I do the same here where I tend to water it down just so I get more water.

Vita Coco

Last but not least, we have coconut water. This one isn’t my favorite, but will work in a pinch if you don’t have access to the other two that can sometimes be hard to find. It has the hydration factor, antioxidants, minerals, and natural electrolytes that fend off the unwanted hangover when your kids wake you up at 5:30 and are ready to play. We all need that saving grace sometimes.

Did you spend a little too much time in the sun and are feeling dehydrated? Check out my 3 favorite ways to overcome the sunshine hangover and get feeling back to normal in no time!

What are your post-sun (or hangover) self-care tips? Please share! I’m always looking for new life hacks.


Heart Healthy and Healthy Living Blog | bethbackes.com

Slow and steady wins the race. Find out how personal growth helped me identify my ideal workout.

How Personal Growth Helped Me Find My Ideal Workout

You know that feeling when you realize you’re doing a task with ease that used to be extremely hard for you? I had that experience this week while working out. I used to hate planks. I always felt weak and shaky, and there was no way I could even attempt plank jacks or other variations the badass coaches were doing in the videos. I assumed it would just be a move I would never be very good at, and accepted it.

Cut to this week during a yoga session. I was just chillin’ in down dog and then slowly moved into plank. I was focusing on my breath and core, and before I knew it, I was in a strong, solid plank for longer than I’ve ever done before. And I wasn’t hating it!

Slow and steady wins the race. Find out how personal growth helped me identify my ideal workout.

It took a long time to get to this point. Years, in fact. I’ve learned a lot about myself and my body through this newfound heart-health journey. I know that if I go all-in on a hardcore workout or diet program right off the bat, I will quit. I know that I hate cardio and get more out of slow and steady workouts. I know that the numbers on the scale and my pant size don’t actually reflect my health. These are not things I knew about myself years ago. I even tortured myself for 2 whole years trying to tell myself I was a runner and absolutely hated every single run and felt like I was dying with every step. Was it worth it? Well, it’s cool I can say I once ran 8 whole miles (ha!). Was I healthy physically and mentally? No. Not in the slightest.

This is growth, my friends, and I am damn proud of it! Now give me a yoga mat and resistance band and I’ll happily be on my way.

Listen to the podcast and meditate with me as I go on this personal growth journey to find happiness through mindfulness.


Heart Healthy and Healthy Living Blog | bethbackes.com

The perfectly balanced snack hack: don't be restrictive in what you're allowed to eat, instead invite more variety onto the plate.

The Perfectly Balanced Snack

I am constantly learning new life skills/hacks from my kids’ daycare. One thing in particular from this year are the snacking requirements that I’ve now adapted into my own life too.

Protein + Veggie + Fruit + Grain

At daycare, meals and snacks must include a protein, veggie, fruit, and grain. In other words, I call it the PVFG plan. I have PVFG written on the fridge whiteboard that I’m always considering when meal and snack planning. And let me tell you, my fruit and veggie intake has wildly increased over time because of this, with almost no effort.

The perfectly balanced snack hack: don't be restrictive in what you're allowed to eat, instead, invite more variety onto the plate.

What I like is that it’s completely unrestrictive. It’s not saying “no, don’t eat that food”, it’s saying, “hey, think about including this if you’re going to eat that”. So if I’m craving something salty and want a handful of pretzels, I’ll also include sunflower butter and carrots. Think of it as a mini charcuterie board, every day, if you will. I know for a fact I’m eating less pretzels now than I would have if I grabbed “just a handful” of them….every time I walked past the kitchen. Now I have a satisfying, nutritious plateful and won’t be reaching for more snacks the rest of the afternoon.

My kids have subconsciously adopted these habits as well. My toddler often asks for a fruit and grain for her post-nap snack. She likes to pick her own food, so as long as the healthy options are visible to her, she will likely pick them. But that’s not to say she won’t try to consume an entire bag of BBQ chips in one sitting either. We all have our moments.

What are your healthy snack hacks?


Heart Health and Healthy Living Blog | bethbackes.com

Legs-Up-The-Wall -- my favorite relaxation technique to lower my blood pressure and heart rate.

My Favorite Relaxation Technique

Legs up the wall — the easiest way to relax and replenish, even with the kids running around. My heart rate and blood pressure immediately lower whenever I get into position, and I can just feel the tension melt away.

This position originates from a yoga pose called Viparita Karan. I love restorative yoga and practice it regularly to strengthen my mind and heart. You can view instructions on how to perform the position on Healthline or Yoga Journal. But I’m just here to rave about its awesomeness.

Legs-Up-The-Wall -- my favorite relaxation technique to lower my blood pressure and heart rate.

So how do I accomplish maximum relaxation with kids in tow? Easy, get them involved! Whenever I feel the tension rising, my blood pressure increasing, or just all-around stress, I yell “tunnel time” and the kids cheer and make a space on the floor for me to lie down. Then I get into legs-up-the-wall position, but leave enough space between my butt and the wall for the kids to climb through, like a tunnel. They are entertained for at least 5-10 minutes of solid running, jumping, giggling, etc. And, no, I don’t get peace and quiet zen time, but I do get to give my heart a break and be mindful and peaceful for a few minutes while also being present in my kids play time. Note: only a few times have I been injured during this activity because a kid trips and falls on my face. Ha. But the benefits outweigh the risks.

If someone were to ask me my favorite way to lower blood pressure quickly, this would be it. Try it, and let me know what you think!


My Journey to a Healthy Heart | Blog

A glass of water can change your life.

Living the Hydrated Life

Drinking water was engrained in my life at an early age. From ages 14-19, the only beverages I drank were water and diet peach Snapple. Where are my fellow people who used to think drinking diet sweetened “tea” was healthy?!?!? Ditto. My drinks of choice have expanded over the past 20 years (re: coffee, beer & wine!), but my hydration motivation dwindled.

Since becoming pregnant with my 2nd in 2019, I worked really hard to bring my water consumption back up. I drink my 8-9 cups every single day now. I’ll be honest that it’s been a lot easier working from home because I always have water available. There’s no planning ahead to make sure I have accessible refills like at the office. But there are two really noticeable differences in my body since improving this habit.

My number one piece of advice in my heart-health journey is to be hydrated. Water is the most important factor in my nutrition plan and has changed my life in 2 ways. See what water can do for you!

My Heart Rate Decreases

Thanks to smartwatches and being in-tune with my body, I know exactly when I haven’t had enough water. My heart rate is increased. I know my norm rate for the average daily routine, and if I feel a little off, the first thing I check is how much water I’ve had that day. 9 times out of 10, that’s the case, and it almost immediately goes back to normal after I sit and half a glass or two.

I Start the Day off Right

I feel so much better in the mornings! My mind and body have done a complete 180. I used to often get headachy and nauseous if I didn’t eat anything, and it would stick around most of the morning. But now, I wake up feeling good, focused, and as energized as possible (from interrupted sleep with a teething 12-month-old). This has been a game changer for setting the tone for the rest of my day, and I am here for it.

Being a morning person is not in my blood, but it’s becoming more enjoyable the more I focus on myself and my health. I’m also more present and patient with my 1-year-old on the days she wakes me up before my alarm. Gone are the days that I give my child the side-eye while wishing I was still in bed, and instead, I have a simple glass of water to thank for me being a better mom.

What do you notice about how you feel when you’re properly hydrated?


My Journey to a Healthy Heart | Blog

Intuitive Eating Challenge: try eating when your body tells you to eat, not at set times every single day.

The Best Time of Day to Eat

Whenever, wherever.

This is a habit that has been hard for me to break. It’s a well-known fact that parenting and work schedules don’t always allow us to eat when we want to, but there are always a few adjustments we have the freedom to make. You don’t have to eat at 12:00 just because that’s what society tells us when lunchtime is. Listen to your body and eat when it feels best for you.

Challenge: try eating when your body tells you to eat, not at set times every single day. See how it makes you feel.

The first thing I adapted was breakfast and everything else followed suit. I used to have to eat breakfast first thing in the morning, but now that I’m more hydrated, I don’t NEED to eat until later. Bumping a balanced breakfast until after 8:30 has been eye opening. I don’t need a mid-morning snack anymore, and I make better choices at lunch because I didn’t just scarf a bowl of cereal before heading out the door. Now I can be thoughtful and prepare (or pack) a meal that I enjoy after dropping off the kids or in between work meetings.

Fast forward to dinner and even my kids have become more adaptable. They are usually famished when I pick them up, so I used to think I had to hold them off and scramble to get whatever I could on the table by 5:30 to stop the screaming. Wrong. Now I provide a snack while I’m getting us settled in the house for the evening and then they play until dinner is ready. It’s been a life-changer for our evenings. No more hangry temper tantrums (from them or me). Pushing dinner back has made the dinner-bath-bed routine a little more crammed, but now we’re also not scanning the pantry for post-dinner snacks. A win-win-win!

So sometimes just one small altered habit can create a domino effect of healthy choices the rest of the day.


My Journey to a Healthy Heart | Blog

My top 5 grocery items to have on-hand for easy, healthy options.

My Top 5 Grocery Items

Here are the items I buy every single time I go to the grocery store. These are the go-to foods that I can sneak into almost any snack or meal at a moments notice if I need an extra whole food boost.

Strawberries

When I was little we dipped strawberries in sugar as a snack. Yep, we did that. Kudos for ruining a healthy food, fam. But my kids eat a handful every day (in their whole food, natural state…not in sugar) and I throw a handful into my smoothies. You can’t go wrong with strawberries. They’ll brighten up any day.

5 simple whole foods you can add into snacks and meals anytime.

Bananas

I consider bananas an easy versatile fruit since they don’t contain a lot of water that can make other foods mushy when you throw them on/in another sweet dish. The ultimate breakfast food addition.

Spinach

Spinach is such an easy way to sneak in those extra veggies. Avocado toast? Add a handful of spinach. Smoothie? Handful of spinach. Pasta? Handful of spinach. If I’m ever feeling like I didn’t get enough greens in a day, the answer is always… you guessed it… handful of spinach.

Plant Milk

When you live in a small town, sometimes you just have to go with what the store has in stock. I opt for the highest protein content ones when available, but I’m not always successful. My favorites (in order of preference) are oat, soy, and pea protein. Luckily, my kids will drink whatever I give them, and honestly it’s a little fun to constantly have different milks to give our taste buds (and recipes) some variety. You should see the milk situation in our fridge. It’s quite entertaining.

Avocado

Oh look, another whole food I can sneak into a bazillion recipes! I loooove how silky smooth it makes my smoothies. And again, you can throw this onto/into everything. Salads, sandwiches, pasta, rice, brownies. You name it, I’ve probably done it.

What are your go-to items you can’t live without?


My Journey to a Healthy Heart | Blog

A busy mom's life hack guide: how to workout when you don't have time for a workout

How to workout when you don’t have time to workout

Old me: If I don’t have enough time for a full workout it isn’t worth it. Just skip it.

New me: This water is going to take 10 mins to boil? Let’s do some crunches, planks, and babybell lifts (that’s what I call sets of lifting my 20 pound baby instead of a kettlebell).


Old me: Ugh, I feel like I’m wasting time straightening my hair.

New me: Squats while straightening! Woo!

Getting in sporadic workout moves has helped improve my healthy mindset immensely. I used to feel let down and like a failure if I didn’t fit in my workout, and I’d easily use the excuse that I didn’t have enough time to workout, shower, and get ready, so why even bother. But let’s be real, if my goal is to workout at 5:30 and the baby wakes up at 5:15, I didn’t fail and I didn’t balk out with an excuse. I’m a mom.

But now I love those few minutes throughout the day that get my blood pumping. Not only do I feel healthier (both physically and mentally), but I feel more productive. Multitasking at its finest. Do what you gotta do, busy mom. Get those heart-pumping moves in whenever you’re inspired to do so. We got this.


My Journey to a Healthy Heart | Blog

Super Simple Hydration Pro Tip | bethbackes.com

Hydration Pro Tip

Fill a couple of glasses of water and put them in areas of the house you spend the most time. And use a {reusable} straw. It’s easier to drink more when you have a straw, right? And if you have kids, they’ll be excited to have an easily-accessible sword at all times.

I’m so good about drinking water during the day while working, but in the evenings? Forget about it. So I started filling a glass and putting it right next to the stove before leaving to pick up the kids from daycare. I’m 100% more likely to sip while I cook when it’s already there for me. I’m so busy from the moment we get home that it’s 9:00PM before I know it, and all I had time for was half a glass at dinner. This trick has definitely helped me stay on track for the 2nd half of the day.

What are your hydration pro tips?



Glass of Water On The Go
Using my smartwatch to monitor heart health.

Heart Health Check-In

Between doctors visits, I monitor my heart health by keeping track of heart rate (active and resting), blood pressure, respiratory rate, and how I feel in general after getting my blood pumping. I use my smartwatch to help me learn about my common stats and what is normal for me. I’ve learned to really be in tune with my body. How am I feeling? What is by body trying to tell me? It looks like I didn’t drink much water yesterday, is that why I feel icky today?

By the way, smartwatch apps REALLY need a “new mom setting” where it doesn’t sleep shame us for only getting 5 hrs of sleep because of a fussy baby. Am I right or am I right?!?

I used to be able to get my heart rate up enough during a brisk walk to call it a workout. Today I went for a quick 1.5 mi stroll and my Garmin was like, umm your heart rate never left zone 2. Those were steps, not a workout.

That’s great progress in my book! Never forget the little accomplishments on your journey. They add up to create important milestones to a happier, healthier you.

What’s something small that has helped improve your overall health?


My Journey to a Healthy Heart | Blog

Heart health check-in: count the little steps that add up to a big impact.
Producing meaningful content that brings your followers back is what we strive for in the blogging world. Find out how to create, and update, those timeless blog posts to gain more traffic.

How to Increase Blog Traffic The Easy Way

Scenario 1: You publish a post, get a bunch of likes/views/engagement in the first 24 hours, and then go about your life continuing to post more content and never looking back at that original post. It already got the attention it needed, let’s move on.

Scenario 2: You publish a post, get a bunch of likes, views, and engagement in the first 24 hours. You publish a few more posts, and then a couple of weeks later you go back to your original post and update the content, respond to new engagement, and link back to that post in a new post.

How do you think your web presence will be affected by these two publishing behaviors?

Producing meaningful content that brings your followers back is what we strive for in the blogging world. Find out how to create, and update, those timeless blog posts to gain more traffic.

Now, obviously, not all of your content will always be considered memorable, timeless, and search engine worthy. There needs to be a balance so that your evergreen content sticks out. Go ahead and tweet about the funny thing that happened to you today, Instagram your morning coffee views, or blog about your holiday travel plans. That’s how you stay personable and gain invested followers.

Then, make sure you’re also providing your followers valuable information. That’s why you started the blog, right? This will show that you are a reputable source for information on the internet (because nobody ever lies on the internet……..). This will also help non-followers to find you. If someone is looking for information on How to Customize Pinterest Board Cover Photos , if your content is relevant and has a decent amount of traffic to it, Google will be more likely to list you higher in the rankings. See what I did there…..linking back to my own updated post? Smart, eh? Evergreen content, it’s where it’s at!

Common evergreen posts often consists of:

  • Lists (aka Listicles)
  • Tips
  • How-to Info
  • Videos about lists, tips, or how-to’s
  • Interviews with other experts in the field
  • Product Reviews or Resource Guides
  • Statistics, research, case studies

But guess what, the fun doesn’t stop there. Remember how I mentioned in scenario 2 that you go back and update the content on your original post? What makes these above items evergreen is that the body of the content is everlasting, but the physical list items, stats, instructions, etc. can change with time for accuracy. If you posted instructions for how to edit a video in YouTube and 6 months later YouTube updated its settings, go ahead and make note of these changes in your post.

How evergreen content can be updated over time:

  • Upload new images
  • Edit how-to instructions if steps have changed
  • Edit lists if there are new relevant items to be considered
  • Include new research or statistics that have come out
  • Add a paragraph that makes it sound more current
  • Update title

Not only does this keep your content fresh, but it helps with search engine optimization! One of the key things I ask myself when planning evergreen content is if this is something I could link back to in the future. Is this a piece I’m proud of and would be willing to reference later on? For instance, every year I remember to post about and link back to my Social Media Spring Cleaning Tips blog post. It’s technically something that could be useful year-round, but I have a specific time of year that I know it will be 100% relevant and new followers may not have seen it yet.

Not only does refreshing content drive more traffic to your blog, but it can also give you easy content to schedule on social media! Not sure what to post on instagram this week? Head over to an old blog post, update content if necessary, and shell it out. Hopefully you have a folder of possible photos to use for future posts on this topic, and then not a lot of extra planning is needed (*hint hint). It’s a win-win in my book!

Do you have other ideas for evergreen content or how to easily update an old blog post? Share your thoughts!

If you’re new to the search engine optimization game and want to learn more, here’s a great post I like to reference explaining what SEO is and how it affects blogs.

Continuous and valuable engagement is the ultimate goal to increase blog traffic. Find out how to create the best evergreen content to gain more followers.

How to Become a Hashtag Pro with Hashtag Groups

So you’ve found the perfect hashtag that increases your social engagement by 100% on every single post and you’re on your way to becoming a highly paid influencer. What next?

Oh wait, no? That’s not you? Okay great, me either. We’re all in the same boat…but if you do actually know Kim K’s secret, feel free to share with this community. We won’t tell!

Need help remembering all the hashtags you use? Find out what my top 3 hashtag management apps and tips are to save you time and energy!

If you’re doing social media right, your content is going to vary. Not every post will have the same content, so there will never be that one magic hashtag. And if you’re a social media manager, keeping track of these hashtag niches can become a headache! While my profiles focus mostly on social media management, I’m a real person so to best engage with my community my posts range anywhere from social media, technology, skincare, outdoors, travel, and my family. So I’m not going to use the hashtag #MomMomments on my post for this blog about hashtags. But I have plenty of others to choose from in my groups!

I started out old-school and simply kept a list of hashtags in the Notes app on my phone and copied and pasted them into Instagram. That’s a great way to start if you’re new to this and don’t have too many to manage yet. Instagram lets you post up to 30 hashtags in one post. I certainly don’t recommend going all-in like that, but I do think you can reach your main target audience by using about 5-10 per post. I have 4 main hashtag groups that I regularly use that can be adapted to most of my posts. Not to mention, if you frequent the same hashtags, Instagram will start suggesting you follow those hashtags, as well as others to follow you. So it’s a win-win!

I’ve since moved away from the Notes app and now use a couple of scheduling platforms which offer this saved hashtag feature. Not only can you save your hashtags to automatically add into your posts, but some of the platforms even make hashtag suggestions depending on your content. This is a great option if you’re still struggling to find what works for you! Here are the apps that I use:

Planoly : Scheduling for Instagram

Planoly is my dream scheduling app. It speaks to me. It’s pretty and it’s simple. You can drag and drop your photos into the order that you like best in your grid. You can edit your photos, tag people and places, and schedule both your feed and your stories. And of course, you can save your hashtags. Bonus: Planoly also lets you format your captions that actually convert over to Instagram! Want a line break? Press Return. Easy peasy. This was a huge struggle for me before discovering Planoly!

Here’s an example of the view for saving, editing, and adding hashtag groups to your posts.

If you're doing social media right, your content is going to vary. Not every post will have the same content, so there will never be that one magic hashtag. Find out how to best manage your hashtags to save you time and energy!

Tailwind App: Scheduling for Pinterest and Instagram

Tailwind is the magic wand for Pinterest which we’ll talk more about in a later post, but it’s also pretty rad for scheduling Insta posts with hashtags. This app is one of those that offer hashtag suggestions based on your caption content. It also demonstrates the art of hashtagging and suggests how to best follow these rules by color-coding their suggestions:

  • Rule 1: #don’t #use #hashtags #on #unimportant #words;
  • Rule 2: don’t use hashtags that are highly competitive and have millions of posts if you don’t want yours to get lost in the crowd;
  • Rule 3: know what a hashtag means before using it and keep within your niche market.

Here is an example of me using some of my saved hashtags in a Tailwind caption along with the suggested hashtags for my content. I think it’s pretty accurate!

If you're doing social media right, your content is going to vary. Not every post will have the same content, so there will never be that one magic hashtag. Find out how to best manage your hashtags to save you time and energy!

Buffer: Scheduling for Insta, Twitter, Linkedin, and Facebook

I’ve had the longest relationship with Buffer. It was the first scheduling app I signed on with, and it will continue to be a favorite for Twitter and LinkedIn. They’ve gone through some changes over the years and it only continues to get better. I’ll just stick with the hashtag features for today, but be on the lookout for a more in-depth post soon.  Specifically for Twitter and LinkedIn, you only want to use 1-3 hashtags (less than on Instagram), so we don’t need to bother with saved groups here. Buffer’s hashtag suggestions are quick and easy. Start typing in a hashtagged word and the top ones for that word will immediately start to populate for you to choose from.

Need help remembering all the hashtags you use? Find out what my top 3 hashtag management apps and tips are to save you time and energy!

The Art of Hashtags

You may be saying to yourself, that’s 3 different apps I’d have to keep track of, why not just use one app? You certainly could! But I find that each of these apps have their own strengths and connect to certain platforms more seamlessly. Plus, having multiple apps with differing options keeps my creativity flowing. I’m afraid that if I were to stick to just one app I’d get more monotone and repetitive in my messaging. But with different options (both visual and operational), I have so much more to choose from, and maybe one app will give me a new idea (or hashtag suggestion) that I hadn’t seen before. Keeping up with the app trends also keeps your content fresh!

If you’re still wondering about hashtags, I enjoyed this article from Buffer titled How to Use Hashtags: How Many, Best Ones, and Where to Use Them. There’s so much info behind hashtags I feel like I could write a whole book on them. But the 3 rules I listed above are the main ideas I’ve been preaching for years on best practices. However, if you only take away one thing from this it’s rule #3: always to check the hashtag before posting! Make your list, then check it twice. As Kevan Lee stated in the Buffer article above, “the worst thing that can happen when using a hashtag is to realize after it’s tweeted that the same hashtag is used for an entirely different topic”.

So now that you know my secret for saving time with hashtag groups, let’s start connecting out there in our posts!

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Save time with hashtag groups.

Smart Business Decisions: Turn On Two-Factor Authentication

“We sent a code to phone number +1(***)***-1234, enter the code to continue”.

This is your favorite notification ever, right? Especially when you left your phone charging in a different room. Fun times.



But whether we like it or not, this is one of the more important notifications we receive. This is for our own protection. A friend of mine, who runs her business on Instagram, was hacked a few weeks ago. Her account was deactivated and she lost thousands of followers and basically has to start from scratch again to build it back up. We can never be too cautious online, especially if you manage your brand or career…or someone else’s brand or career online! Never, ever, take this for granted.  Just like when you were little and your mom made you bring a jacket with you. You might not need it, and you’re sure as hell not going to admit that you were wrong, but you were occasionally thankful to have it. That’s what it’s like for these notifications to slide into your texts. 

How many of these situations apply to you?

  • You have credit cards and financial information saved online or in an app.
  • You have personal information stored online or an app.
  • You run your business from email, online, or in multiple apps.
  • When your browser prompts you to “save your password” you opt-in so you don’t have to remember it.
  • You’re not creative with passwords and basically use the same 3 over and over again.
  • You’ve worked hard to build your professional web presence through websites and social media platforms.
  • You manage information, websites, or social media for clients or businesses.
  • You have pictures of yourself, family, and children on your devices.
  • You use multiple devices and are constantly on the move.

I bet most of these apply to you, but even if just one of them does, you NEED to be using two-step verification for all of your accounts. If you get hacked, just one simple mishandled tweet could ruin the reputation, or dedicated followers, you’ve worked so hard to build, and don’t even get me started on what could happen if you’re hacked and you manage social media for clients or businesses! That’s a nightmare none of us (or your bosses) want to think about. They are trusting you to do right by them, so you need to trust the process and get over the fact that two-step authentication is annoying or that your passwords are secure enough.

Pro Tip: Protect yourself with two-step authentication. You can never be too cautious with your private information online. Never take this for granted. #techtips #blogger #socialmedia #girlboss #mompreneur

In most apps and on Apple, you can go to your account settings > privacy and/or password to set up two-factor authentication. For Google, go to your account > security > two-step authentication > get started. And for new sites that you sign up for, you are often prompted to set it up when creating your account.

So do the right thing and get double coverage. Please, and thank you.

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Pro Tip: Protect yourself with two-step authentication. You can never be too cautious with your private information online. Never take this for granted. #techtips #blogger #socialmedia #girlboss #mompreneur

How to Save Time & Energy by Creating Your Own Brand Templates

When I first started blogging, I had a problem. A confidence problem. I always wanted to make sure everything was absolutely perfect before hitting publish…and rightly so. The writing came easily for me. It was the visual aspect that would trip me up. I’d have multiple posts written in my queue that were just waiting for an on-point image to really make the post stand out. I’d spend hours upon hours on Canva, Pexels, and Lightroom trying to create the perfect image or graphic.

Pro tip: Create your own colorful post templates to save time & energy in your blog and social media! #blogging #socialmedia #blogginghacks #template

But it finally clicked for me in the past few months when I’ve been short on time (hello new mom life!). I realized that there is no perfect image for any blog or social media post. It’s about what you make of the post, and no image or graphic will please everyone’s visual interpretation.

One thing that drastically helped, though, was creating my own branding in Canva. I sat down and spent an afternoon creating my own logo, color palette, and font. Then I created a few graphics that I could use as templates whenever I was in a pinch. This has saved me TONS of time lately! Like, seriously, I have been given the gift of time with this trick.

Whenever I’m stumped on a visual I go to my template. Now, be careful not to overuse your templates. Don’t use them as an excuse to not dig deep into your creative brain; it’s not there to give you the easy way out. But DO use it as an assist to help inspire more creativity. Now that I have a solid place to start and don’t feel like I’m starting from scratch every. single. time, I feel like I have more opportunity to visualize within my branding toolkit and am able to create more creative posts.

Not only that but having a set color palette helps me identify images that will look better on my page. Knowing that I will be slapping my logo in the corner, or will be putting a purple overlay with text on top of the image, helps me narrow down the search much faster. And it gives me the visual eye to think “Hey! That would look great on my page!” when I randomly see something that fits into my theme. My design eye is more focused and I am more focused.

Check out my templates and share in the comments what has been a huge time-saver for you in the blogging and social media biz!

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My Pinterest Template

Pro tip: Create your own colorful post templates to save time & energy in your blog and social media! #blogging #socialmedia #blogginghacks #template

My Facebook Template

Pro tip: Create your own colorful post templates to save time & energy in your blog and social media! #blogging #socialmedia #blogginghacks #template

My Twitter Template

Pro tip: Create your own colorful post templates to save time & energy in your blog and social media! #blogging #socialmedia #blogginghacks #template

Pro tip: Create your own colorful post templates to save time & energy in your blog and social media! #blogging #socialmedia #blogginghacks #template

 

The Amazing Editing Tool Every Blogger Needs

What’s one thing that can totally turn readers away?

TYPOS.

Did you hear that? Yes, I said typos.

Now, don’t get me wrong, we all make mistakes, and nobody is immune to the dreaded typo that will be on the internet forever. It happens to the best of us, and usually, it’s the tweet you’re most excited to post for the day, right? Thanks, karma.

Don't turn followers or clients away because of typos! Use this great editing tool to help you display your best writing in any blog or social media post you do

*This post contains affiliate links. For more information, see my disclosure here.

 

But here’s the thing, if your followers know you to normally be on-point with your proofreading, they’ll most likely look past the occasional typo so it won’t hurt you too much. There are some failsafe tools out there, though, to help you out a little.

My go-to app is Grammarly. Grammarly is absolutely fabulous and has saved me and my quick witted fingers quite a few times.

Don't turn followers or clients away because of typos! Use this great editing tool to help you display your best writing in any blog or social media post you do

Grammarly is a free browser extension (and downloadable app) that will proofread anything you write in the web browser, and will automatically underline items it thinks needs editing, and offers suggestions. You just click on the word and a popup comes up where you can accept or decline the edit. In most cases, the suggestion is, in fact, something that needs correcting. The times the suggestion isn’t accurate is when I’m talking about a brand, or using a slang term or hashtag, and it’s not understanding the type of word or tense.

Grammarly checks for common spelling and grammar mistakes including punctuation, word usage, sentence structure enhancement, and even plagiarism. I’m a very fast typer (80 wpm, thank you very much!), and sometimes my fingers get a little ahead of my brain, so it’s great to have a helper up in the top corner of my screen.

Here’s an example of Grammarly working right there beside me. Notice that it picked up on different types of errors, but it’s pretty hip with the internet, and could detect a website so didn’t flag that as incorrect.

Grammarly is a great editing tool for bloggers that will fix your typos and help you display your best writing skills.

So if you are a blogger, use social media, or are an avid emailer (that basically covers everyone who uses the internet, right?), Grammarly is a must-have tool that is totally worth it! Plus, I also suggest following them on social media. Their posts are fun, intriguing, and often make me smile. Like this one:

Grammarly is a great editing tool for bloggers that will fix your typos and help you display your best writing skills.

 

What is the biggest typo culprit you’d like Grammarly to help you fix? Mine is misplaced commas. Sometimes I get a little comma happy, but don’t get me started on the Oxford comma. The Oxford comma is an absolute must in my book!

 

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Don't loose followers or clients because of typos! Use this great editing tool to help you display your best writing in any blog or social media post you do.

Customizing Pinterest Board Covers

Pinterest Cover Photo Examples for Your Blog or Website

Last month we talked about cleaning up your Pinterest profile. This month we’re taking it one step further to make your profile really pop! Did you know you can customize board cover photos? Nothing makes me happier on Pinterest than when I click on a person and their boards are branded with customized board covers! It’s like feng shui for Pinterest. Just looking at it makes me more relaxed. Ahhhhhhhh.

How to upload cover photos to Pinterest boards

BethBackes.com Pinterest Profile

Why are custom board covers important?

They allow you to brand your Pinterest page even further than your profile. You can use your brand color scheme, logo, and fonts. We talk about searchability a lot on this blog, and this is just another factor. You want your target audience to recognize you and remember you easily. So let’s include Pinterest into the branding bunch!

 

Step 1: Create your template.

Like many bloggers, I use Canva as my go-to design app. You can choose their “Pinterest Graphic” setting so you have the right dimensions from the get-go and lovely/editable template suggestions. I suggest using the same template, image, and colors for all your boards so they look cohesive (and hopefully reflect your branding). This also makes it so much easier for you because you can just copy the image and change the text to match each board. No extra design work involved.

Get insider tips for how to take your Pinterest page to the maximum level! Pinterest is one of the best search engines for driving traffic to your site, and you can use it too!

Step 2: Choose a template or upload your own images, fonts, and logos.

Your image will work best if you have your text positioned in the top half of the design. Make sure the text is clearly visible, and your image isn’t too busy where the text gets lost and is hard to read. You’ll spend the most time on this step, but don’t get discouraged. It doesn’t have to be perfect, and you can always change them later if you update your branding.

Get insider tips for how to take your Pinterest page to the maximum level! Pinterest is one of the best search engines for driving traffic to your site, and you can use it too!

Step 3: Upload your image to Pinterest

Next, you will upload your image to Pinterest. Click the red “plus” button on the top right corner of your screen, and select “upload image”.

Get insider tips for how to take your Pinterest page to the maximum level! Pinterest is one of the best search engines for driving traffic to your site, and you can use it too!

Drag and drop your image into the “Create Pin” window. Make sure to tag your website here so people are redirected to YOU. That’s the goal here, right?!? If you have a specific page or category for this pin topic, you can send them directly to that page, otherwise, your homepage is fine. Then create a description that targets keywords, like we talked about in my previous post. I often just copy and paste the board description here. Then, select the board you’re pinning this pin to.

Get insider tips for how to take your Pinterest page to the maximum level! Pinterest is one of the best search engines for driving traffic to your site, and you can use it too!

Step 4: Change the board cover photo.

Ok, so your pin is on your board. Yay! There’s just one more step left. Click on the pencil icon on the board to edit it (and go ahead and double-check your board description here for keywords!). Click the “Change” button for the cover, select the new pin from the choices, and then drag and drop the crop box around your text. This won’t actually crop your image, it’s just an approximate area that will be shown. You may need to refresh your page once you’ve made these changes for it to show up properly.

How to Change your Pinterest Board Cover

Awesome, that’s it! Get ready to kill it in the Pinterest game. I’d LOVE to see what you’ve come up with! Comment below with your Pinterest link, or connect with me on Pinterest, and I’ll send you a shoutout! I can’t wait to see your designs!

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Upload Pinterest board cover photos to gain more followers and more traffic to your blog.

3 Steps For Cleaning Up Your Pinterest Profile

Remember the days when Pinterest first began and we’d just spend hours upon hours scrolling and repinning? In my mind, those days are over and Pinterest has more of a purpose. We’re over the mindless scrolling and can now easily find exactly what we’re looking for within minutes. It is a powerful search engine.

But here’s the thing. Not all pins are created equal. Are you pinning relevant, up-to-date information? Do the pins go to the sites you think they go to? Well, let’s find out and do a little Pinterest spring cleaning!

Step 1: Clear out old pins

This one will take some time, but it’s really important. You need to go through all those old boards, scroll to the bottom, and start getting rid of the clutter that isn’t accurate, isn’t of interest, or just doesn’t reflect the image you want to portray. I almost made a huge Pinterest faux pas the other day with the “pin now, review later” mentality. There was a pin that showed a social media posting calendar that looked pretty spiffy and I thought I might want to look at it in more depth later. Then a little Google+ icon caught my eye, and I was like, time out. Who is recommending I waste time on Google+? So I took a deeper look and not only was it recommending Google+, but Instagram wasn’t even listed! So obviously, I don’t want to repin this in 2018. And while you’re at it, take it a step further and actually click on the pins that make it through the first filter above and make sure they’re still going to an accurate site. Many pins lead to non-existent (or inappropriate) websites, and you don’t want to be known as the person that sends people to “no man’s land” through pins.

Step 2: Reorganize/Rename boards

Now that you’ve gotten rid of the clutter, let’s think about reorganizing those pins. Go through the same filter process with your boards as in step 1. Are the board names old terminology? Could topics be combined or split up? There’s a great new feature on Pinterest where you can now create sub-categories (or “sections” as Pinterest calls them) within a board. So for instance, you could create a travel board with sub-categories like Europe, Carribean, Disney, etc. This is a great addition for organizing boards with a lot of pins! Again, we’re trying to minimize the need for endless scrolling, and create direct search results.

Get insider tips for how to take your Pinterest page to the maximum level! Pinterest is one of the best search engines for driving traffic to your site, and you can use it too!

Step 3: Write a description for your boards

Now that you’ve cleared out old pins and reorganized your boards, you need to make sure people can find your stuff! So lastly, don’t forget to write a board description for each of your newly categorized masterpieces. Be specific to your topics and be sure to use keywords around your niche to improve searchability. People are becoming smarter about searching what they want to find on the internet, so you want to use words that lead them directly to it.

So for instance, if you have a board about blogging, write a description about what types of things people can learn from your board: “Collaborate with other bloggers to learn about incorporating SEO, affiliate marketing, keywords, social media marketing, and royalty free photos into your blog”. The more specific keywords you use, the better quality audience you’ll reach.

3 Steps forCleaning Up Your Pinterest Profile: Get insider tips for how to take your Pinterest page to the maximum level! Pinterest is one of the best search engines for driving traffic to your site, and you can use it too!

Want to share more ideas? Follow me on Pinterest and let’s get pinning!

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Introducing Brooke Elizabeth Backes

I’ve been absent on the blog for a few months, but I have a good excuse! Her name is Brooke Elizabeth Backes, and she’s my favorite thing in the whole world. She didn’t come to us in the most conventional, or easy manner, but she’s a true miracle baby.

I won’t get into the fertility journey here (you can read about it in this post), but Brooke is the IVF rainbow baby that we waited for for 5 years. She apparently thought we’d waited long enough, though, and decided to join us 5 weeks early!

It started off as a regular checkup with our doctor when things got a bit crazy. My doctor sent me right over to the labor & delivery floor and got me settled in with an IV. I was admitted for preeclampsia with dangerously high blood pressure that could have resulted in a stroke for me, and could have been fatal for her. They did some blood work, gave me a steroid shot to help speed up Brooke’s lung development, and called in an ambulance that transferred me to a high risk children’s hospital nearby (since she was going to be a preemie). I actually didn’t know this until her birth, but IVF pregnancies tend to be high-risk more often than not. So we’re always monitored a bit more closely.

Once I got to the hospital and was induced, things moved along so fast I never really had the chance to let it sink in that we were having a baby, like, right now…in 2017, not 2018.

Brooke totally handled the birth like a pro and came out happy and healthy at 4 lbs 9 oz. She was crying and breathing on her own. She was able to keep her weight up with stable blood sugar levels and a steady temperature. She never even had to be admitted into the NICU. In fact, she was discharged from the hospital before I was! Therefore, we call her our 34 week Supergirl.

Social Butterfly will still remain a professional outlet for all things social media and technology, and I will only highlight Brooke and/or parenting if it’s relevant to a certain topic or trend. I’m not a Mom blogger, and never see myself doing so. I’ve had some fun with blog brainstorming during midnight and 3AM feedings, so we will be back to regularly scheduled programming soon enough.

So please join me in welcoming Brooke Elizabeth to the online world. It can be a scary and unpredictabe place, but I know she will be looked after by our wonderful friends, family, and community.

Cheers!

Our fertility journey