I really want to share more about the planning and preparation and what goes on behind the scenes. I think so often, people only get to see the glamorous side of adventures and not the reality of what it is like to get everything ready to undertake a challenge like this. I’m going to share as much as I can about what I need to do to get everything ready. I’ll be documenting the journey and showing you how I mange it, how I figure stuff out and what I do, to get stuff done.
At the moment, this is what I have going on:
Regular blogging, podcasting & social media -The Tough Girl Podcast comes out every Tuesday 7am and also a few extra episodes for Tough Girl Extra come out on a Thursday at 7am. I also need to create artwork for these episodes, as well as creating other social media content, running the Tough Girl Tribe and managing Tough Girl Challenges. I can’t even explain how much time this does take up, writing, editing, planning, producing, creating images, uploading blog posts, adding in links, responding to comments on social media, responding to e-mails via the website. It’s a huge amount of time. I normally spend about 3 or 4 hours daily on social media, which can include, scheduling posts on FB, replying to messages, reading FB posts, sharing content. Basically engaging and building an audience. I’m also trying to find women for the podcast, I research them, follow them on social media, read their blogs, their books, watch Ted talks etc. It all takes time, but this is huge part of the job, which is building engagement and building relationships. I would love to do more collaborations with other podcasters and bloggers. I also give interviews to other podcasters which takes time in arranging, doing, and sharing the content when it goes live. At the moment I have 4 episodes scheduled for the Tough Girl Podcast, I also have 6 interviews which I need to edit and upload and I have 2 episodes which have been edited, but just need to be upload onto the podcast host website and also upload the corresponding blog posts. 2 of these episodes are for Tough Girl Extra, so I am 3 interviews short to get me to September. One interview is with a very special guest who I have been trying to get on the podcast for a long time, and there is lots of back and forth and we still don’t have date set. But this episodes would be for the 3 years anniversary (4th August) which I do want to make a big deal off! So that means, 3 more interviews I need to arrange, record and edit. Editing can take anywhere from 3 hours to 8 hours depending a lot of the guest and sound quality. I've recently had 2 episodes recorded, but due to bad sound quality, and the guests being very nervous, there was no way I could share those episodes, the content was great but how it was presented just wasn't of a high enough standard. So I’ve had to go back and ask the guest to do more preparation for the interview, which in turn is more work for me, as I need to send detailed questions over and re-record the episodes again, as well as arrange the logistics for another interview. Which all takes time!
General e-mails and admin - which does take up a huge amount of time - most offers and opportunities don’t lead anywhere - but you still have to respond, do pitches, sign NDAs etc. I love having an empty e-mail box! It just doesn't happen that often.
Hosting FB Live for the Tribe - First season starting in July! Really excited by this - all the images have been created, all the events have been created and the schedule is ready. Once the FB live has been recorded, I then go through and respond to any comments, I will then download the video and add to youtube to share with Patrons via Patreon.
Holiday in Italy for 4 days - time to relax with the family!
Heading to NYC for Women in the Outdoors Week (11th - 17th June). This is going to be great. I’m going with Adelaide Goodeve and we’ve already put a huge amount of work into this in terms of planning, who we are meeting, what we are doing, what questions we want to ask. We are going to be recording interviews, blogging and podcasting. I was also thinking about vlogging the week...but it also comes down to time, as you have to edit the videos together which takes forever. I do want to be able to share it though - so I need to think about this a bit more. This is also a great time for me to network and to build up more contacts in the USA and plus you never know who you are going to meet. Also I just love NYC and want to go exploring, eat great food and have some fun!
Working at Royal Ascot (19th - 23rd June) - I’ve done this for the past few years and it’s really good fun. I sell silk top hats - but it is hard work, lots of chat and very full on days. I also do interviews for TV channels talking about silk top hats. I'm working on commission, so the more hats I sell the more money I make, but when you are selling silk top hats for between £3K and £7K - it’s not that easy to sell lots!!
Working at a local coffee shop at weekends - I help with the dishes and do waitressing. As well as making me extra money, I also do this for the social interaction as I just don’t get to speak to people in real life.
Adventure/Coaching - working with clients to help them achieve their goals - this is awesome, I love this work! It’s something which I haven’t really advertised, but I do need to let people know I do this. As it’s great not only for the clients but also for me. However, coaching is very intensive and very individual, and I want to ensure my clients are fully supported on their journey. If you do need help with your goals/adventure planning/podcasting - then let me know!!! I can help you!!
Writing my dissertation for my Masters, (20,000 words) which is due on the 31st August - next meeting 6th July and final meeting 24th July. I’m writing about women, adventure and fear. I’m about 7,500 words in, but there is so much left to do. It is very intensive, as there is lots of reading, making notes, researching and writing. I’m more of a journalistic writer than an academic writer, and it is challenging for me to write academically and to reference everything! With the other work I am doing, it is a struggle to fit it all in - as I will be away for 3 weeks in June (Italy - NYC - London) and then my dissertation supervisor is away for 3 weeks at the start of August. So I really do need to get moving on this! I also need to add in time at the end to get it proof read and spell checked, and printed and bound. I don't want to be leaving it to the last minute as I will need to be focusing on the challenge.
Gym- trying to go 3x a week (not really managing this at the moment), I just get sucked into work, and to be honest it is really frustrating, not being able to lift weights, or squat or to do anything with my knee without it hurting. So I’m doing lots of stretching, glute work and pull ups. But I can’t lift the big weights or do the classes - such as the HIIT circuits.
Celebrating the 3 year anniversary of the Tough Girl Podcast (4th August). I want to host a party/BBQ/Lunch at mine! I need to arrange this, invite guests, plan the day, organise and buy food (mum’s won’t be there so it will be up to me!).
*I am very fortunate that I do live with my parents, so I don’t need to think about food, cooking, cleaning or washing. I can just focus 100% on the above. However, it does mean that I’m sat working in my bed for about 15 hours per day, (somedays I don't even bother to get dressed) and I’m not going out and meeting people. Which can make it very lonely, but I do have a clear vision of the future and what I want to do, and in order to make it happen these are the sacrifices that need to be made. I don’t go out (apart from the gym, and working in the coffee shop), I don’t spend money (a) I don't have any spare money lying around and b) I know how hard it is to make - especially when you spend your weekends washing dishes and waitressing for minimum wage). I don’t buy new clothes, I don’t buy anything really unless it is for the business and it is going to be an investment.
I will be spending money on a PT and getting massages, but I look at those costs as an investment, as I need to get physically ready for the challenge and working with a PT takes this responsibly off me, so I don’t need to think about training. I have a plan given to me each week and I just follow the plan and do the work every week.
For the next 3 months... I now need to add the following:
Planning and preparing for the 2018 Challenge. This is going to be huge. What I do find is, the more you start looking into any challenge, the more you need to prepare. Everything needs to be looked at, clothing, equipment, accommodation, food, hydration, supplements, safety, fixing bikes, where to go, what route to take, what to stop off and see, specific places I want to visit, who to stay with etc. A huge amount goes into planning for a trip like this. There is always more than you think there will be especially in relation to sorting out the logistics of the journey e.g. Researching (Visas, flight, insurance, equipment etc -trying to find the best ones at the right prices)
Figure out how to pay for the big ticket items - e.g. flights, insurance, a bike? For the AT I did this piecemeal by piecemeal, e.g. I did a speaking gig and got paid £250 - that then paid for my flight. I did a corporate job and that paid for my insurance. I was still buying gear right up until I left. I only got my backpack 2 weeks before I left. I can see the same thing happening again with this challenge. I will create my list of what I need and when I can afford it, buy the piece of equipment, or make do, or borrow!
Physical training, to get my body prepared. I need to pack on muscle and build up a base level of endurance, so I can start the challenge with a reasonable level of fitness, I know after 2 weeks I will get by bike legs! I need to sort out PT and get my schedule in place, so I will look to start this after I come from from London - that will give me 10 weeks to prepare. I will start the taper in September. This will be £300 for a 10 week block, but this is worth every penny to have someone else do your training plan and for them to worry about my training and now me!
Rehab on my knee to get it fully functional again - which may mean physio, yoga, massages etc. If I start getting massages once I start back with my PT w/c 25th June - 10 massages will cost £250. That's if I do them weekly - which would be ideal. But I may have to do them every 2 weeks because of the costs so 5 sessions £125.
Earn money to fund the challenge (Ideally to take on a few more coaching clients, arrange more speaking gigs (pitch myself to local schools etc), host an online Blogging and Podcasting workshop - decide on date, make public, share, get people to sign up, create the content, host the workshop etc). Money is a huge part of the challenge of living a life style like this. Can I make enough money from doing what I do. At the moment, I can’t, which is one of the reasons I’m going on this challenge and not basing myself somewhere permanently. It is much cheaper for me to be out of the road travelling than it is for me to support myself (paying rent, bills, food etc) while living in the UK, living costs are just too high for me. Especially if I did want to move back to London, which would be my choice, as all my friends are there and there would be more business opportunities there as well, in terms of events, networking etc. The ultimate goal is to be abel to make enough money though Patreon, so that I don’t need to do all the extra jobs that I currently do, and then I can focus all of my time on creating the content and sharing the content. I have to believe this can happen. I keep giving myself more and more time. Part of the reason for doing the Masters was a) to learn about a subject I’m passionate about and b) so that I have a qualification in case I need to change careers again. c) It also gave me more structure for a year. With this next challenge, I’ve got until the end of the year to make it work. Not to be boring but I’m in my late 30s, I need to save in case I want a family, I need to be able to save for my retirement, and I need to be able to look after myself, plus it would be nice to go out everyonce in a while!
Figure out if it’s worth getting a sponsor - There is lots of work behind doing this, trying to find the right sponsor, creating the pitch documents, reaching out, connecting, e-mailing etc verses self funding? The podcast isn’t sponsored at the moment, even though it has huge numbers and a global reach. But the benefits of that, is by not having a sponsor it doesn’t impact the listeners, and I don't have to answer to anyone. Ideally I would like the podcast to be sponsored by the listeners, and then there is no need for me to have sponsors which I'd have spend time on promoting them and their business. There are always strings when you have a sponsor, but that is the compromise in order to get the money - which I do need!
Increase patrons to 300 by September. This is my regular source of income (at the moment I have about 200 patrons) which fund the running costs for the website, the podcast and my daily costs of living at home (phone bill, gym membership, Netflicks) as well as helping me to pay for other business costs such as attending events, being able to go to NYC for women in the outdoors week. This also allows me to save for new equipment, and for me to start saving to help fund the cost of the challenge and the costs while being out on the road. The question is how do you get more patrons, without increasing my work load - as I don't have anymore capacity? How do you encourage people to pay for content which is essentially free for them to watch, listen and read. How do you change a mindset to encourage people to support you? How can you persuade people that you are adding value? - It is not as easy as you think. For me, I think if people listen to the podcast, use the resources etc and don’t support me, then that’s on me not them. It means to me, that I’m not providing enough value for them to want to support me each month. So I need to take responsibility for that and provide even more value. Hence why I have started doing FB live events in the tribe (which is now a closed FB group with over 1600 members, now only open to paying patrons). I want to do more interviews, share more stories. If I look at what some previous guests are doing at the moment I want to get them back on the podcast (tough girl extra), but getting them back on is a huge amount of work, on top of the weekly podcast. At this moment in time, as it is just me - I can’t do this. Which upsets me, as there are so many women who are not getting their stories heard and I know I can help them. I just don’t have the resources.
Preload podcast and blog content for September to December. In terms of podcasts - I need to upload 4 in September, 5 for October, 4 for November and 4 for December. Which is 17 podcast episodes. 2 of these episode will be me being interviewed - e.g. 4th September - all about the planning and preparation before heading off, and the 25th December, which will be all about the challenge, what it was like, what I learned etc. So I need to record 15 episodes and edit and upload before September. Which is huge, there are also further challenges with preloading as I only have a limited capacity of storage each month. To go over that, costs me more money. I also run all my podcasts through Auphonic to improve the sound quality. At the moment I pay for 9 hours a month, to go over this amount, again costs me more money. So I need to be really strategic when I upload to ensure I manage the capacity issue as best as I can. In terms of blog posts, new blog posts come out every Friday. I do have help writing these posts, but I still need to create the artwork, upload on to the blog, and share on social media when it goes live.
Have a social life (I don’t have this at the moment and this would be fun). It would be nice to meet someone who has similar interests as me and has similar values and outlook, as I do want a partner. Occasionally I go on tinder, but get so turned off within minutes, I delete it again, who has the time for that! It would be nice to go on some dates and get dressed up every once in a while!!!
I’m sure I have forgotten stuff from these lists, but hopefully it will give you a sense of how I spend my time, how I priorities what needs to be done, it will also tell you why I’m working 15 hours a day from my bed! At the end of the day, there is a lot of stuff, which needs to be done, and if I want it done. I need to be the one to do it. I have the responsibility to make this happen, it falls on me, there is no boss to complain to, there is no one else who can do this. Success and failure rests with me. I am my own champion, my own motivator and I have a very clear vision of what needs to be done.
Ps. It’s always great getting suggestions and ideas about what I could be doing differently, and how I could be more efficient and I do appreciate them. Please just remember the two constrains I am working with are time and money. There are opportunity costs in everything I do and I weigh them up, e.g. working in the coffee shop for minimum wage - is obviously not the best use of my time, when I could be doing coaching sessions for £150 an hour. However, coaching is very intensive and very draining to do, and I can’t coach all of the time, as it takes a huge amount of work to ensure I’m giving everything I can. I work in the coffee shop so I can have human interactions which I don’t have at the moment. It is all a balance and I am just trying my best to do what I can, to make this life happen for me.
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