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Want to write compelling content that stands out? start by just starting.

Language is wine upon the lips. – Virginia Woolf 

Much of our writing in the digital age is made to be read in a flash. People’s attention spans are shorter than ever, and as such, our writing must swiftly grab attention! I personally am not a fan of the immense speed with which most people consume content in our era. It lends itself to shallow consumption, no time to digest, and impulsive “reactions” via social media and divisive comment threads. And yet, we cannot resist the times. As writers, we have to strike a balance between writing for today and writing with integrity. Whether you’re writing website content, a blog post to be used for attraction marketing, or pure creativity, your writing must stand out! Having written for editorial outlets, brands, and social media copy galore, I have come across a few formulas that help make the process of writing for a digital audience less daunting. Most people who want to write typically face blocks that keep them from pursuing it long-term or even starting in the first place. (Who can relate?) As a writer, you want to break past those barriers and write compelling content that stands out. 

Whether you’re a new writer or would like to refresh your craft, below are a few tips on how to break past that sneaky barrier. I’ll expand upon these at Shefari’s upcoming She Succeeds retreat Retreat for entrepreneurs.

 

1. Start by just starting

Perfect is the enemy of good (aphorism attributed to Voltaire), at least in your first draft. When starting out, the best thing you can do is begin – with literally anything! Writers’ block is often resistance to getting started rather than to the process of writing itself. Let your first draft be a messy “brain-dump” if necessary. All that matters is that you get something down on paper (or screen). Your draft will give you a roadmap. You may scrap most or all of it, but I guarantee that getting something from your head to the page will produce some magic, even if it’s just a line or idea of where you’re taking the piece. 

2. Grammarly is your friend 

Want to write but feel embarrassed that all of your grammatical knowledge is long forgotten? Enter Grammarly. This is available as a free tool or a paid-for plugin. It auto-checks your work for basic errors, but also offers suggestions for style and syntax. Not sure precisely where that comma should go? Let Grammarly catch it for you! When you remove some of the obstacles to writing well, you’re likely to want to write more. 

3. Let your sense of humor shine 

Things don’t have to be so serious! As Maya Angelou once said, people remember how you make them feel, not what you said. Make people laugh and they’ll want to read your writing! Don’t be afraid to make that quip, but at all costs, avoid cliches. Which leads us into…

4. Avoid cliches!

This one couldn’t be more important in an era when anyone and everyone fancies themselves a wordsmith. Avoid overused phrases and cliches. It’s ok if they slip into your drafts – more than ok, in fact. As you edit, replace those with your own original thoughts and analysis. If something reads like a cliche, kill it. The phrase “kill your darlings” exists as part of the writers’ unspoken “Holy Book” for a reason.

5. Take the time to research subject lines

The subject line is your hook – both for eyes and SEO! Take the time to research whether your subject is “competitive” and try, for the sake of balancing SEO and the needs of readers, to find something that falls under the category of moderately competitive. You don’t want your keyword to register at highest levels or you’ll be buried in search engines. There are many tools available in 2019, but you can use Google’s Keyword tool for free! It provides you all the info you need to know on whether your keywords and potential subject lines are low, moderate, or highly competitive. How will you choose? More on that in a future post, or on Shefari’s upcoming She Succeeds Retreat, where we’ll discuss how to write compelling content. 

6. Have an Ideal Customer Avatar (ICA) in mind

To whom are you writing? This is the perfect opportunity to bring to life your ICA, aka ideal customer avatar. Writing to a screen is not always fun or inspiring. Imagine you’re writing to a person, instead. Having a target avatar can mean a fictional character or an actual human. This tool also helps if you’re feeling the writers’ block or are low on motivation. Imagine the friend who you share the juiciest, most thought-provoking conversations with. You might even call to mind someone you flirt with! If it’s marketing content, envision your ideal customer: his/her lifestyle, frustrations, questions, and needs from your product or service. It helps to imagine that you’re engaged in witty banter or a thoughtful conversation rather than typing on your work machine… you may be amazed at what you produce! When creating your avatar, you can even write about her/him/them. What do they like to wear? Where do they go on the weekends? What’s their favorite band or book? The more specific, the more you’ll feel it when you write to them – and your audience will relate. 

writing compelling content that stands out takes practice and discipline, carrying a journal helps
Your journal is your friend!

7. Take your journal everywhere

I couldn’t emphasize this more. You may be familiar with a scenario that looks like: “Wow, I felt so inspired two hours ago at the park. Now that I’m home, I’ve completely forgotten what I wanted to write!” Carry a notebook to jot down ideas when inspiration strikes. You can also take notes on your phone, but writing by hand is more relaxing and has been proven beneficial to your health. Writing notes on your phone can also easily lead to getting lost in the world of social media, a time suck that is an enemy of the written word. Get into the habit of writing more often, even when it may seem trivial. This simple journaling trick will improve your creativity, and you may end up with a running list of blog ideas or topics to have on hand should that dreaded writers’ block strike.

 

Want to learn more tools and tips of the trade from content pro Kristina Headrick? Curious about how to write compelling content that stands out in the digital era? Want to do all of this… while on a Greek island? We’ve got you covered! Click here for more info on Shefari’s upcoming She Succeeds retreat. We’ll enjoy workshops from several boss-women, including a daily writing workshop. 

 

Women's Entrepreneurial Retreats are an amazing way to increase your bottom line

Gather with like-minded women to build your business and the life of your dreams.

 

When you scrolling through Instagram you may encounter one of those dreamy, post-card perfect retreats. From your workspace, you practically feel the sun warm your face and hear the lulling tide. You may even imagine the inspiration and renewal you’ll feel, not to mention the lifelong friends and business besties you’ll make. A women’s entrepreneurial retreat sounds like the perfect way to add momentum to your personal and professional life. Then, the inevitable happens. You cringe and brace for the price tag, adding up just how many clients you’d have to nail to really afford it.

Before your dream fizzles, consider mapping out the value a retreat delivers, and how it’s really an investment in your future. How can a women’s entrepreneurial retreat affect your business? Could a retreat actually be the key to making MORE money and creating the lifestyle on your vision board?

Read on for 5 ways you can use a women’s entrepreneurial retreat to your financial advantage.

 

on a women's entrepreneurial retreat you can network and increase your bottom line

Network with a purpose on an entrepreneurial retreat.

 

Invest in your company’s most valuable asset: YOU.

Sure, this may be one you’ve heard before. But there’s a reason for it. It’s been proven that a vacation – at the very least a change of scenery – improves productivity. And creativity. Energy. Health. Ambition. Relationships. Fill in the blank. A mindful, intentional vacation such as a retreat is a great way to refocus and recharge, then come back better equipped to pilot your business. After all, who will refill your tank, if not you?

Learn best practices from a focus group of your professional peers.

A retreat packs a multi-punch. In addition to amazing workshops and sessions, it’s essentially a round table of like-minded people exchanging ideas, including invaluable ones you may have never thought of. You can easily adapt these into your business and boost your bottom line exponentially. Ever wondered: How did she get that many leads from a simple social media campaign? Where did she build that unique niche audience no one else thought of? Take part in a retreat to have these secrets shared with you directly. Genius!

It’s the perfect team-building meet-up if you work on a virtual team.

When you’re connected with VAs, content creators, marketers, and bookkeepers remotely – why not meet in an amazing place where you each can also (a) grow your network (b) develop professionally and (c) touch base on your shared business interest? Many retreats offer “bring a friend” discounts, so it pays to show up in numbers. Bring your team and grow together!

It’s a bona fide business expense.

For true professional retreats, if you incorporate work daily, it is 100%. Tax. Deductible. Vacations can’t boast that. Note that not all retreats are created equal – check with your accountant ahead of time to be sure it meets the requirements.

The whole is more than the sum of its parts – but less expensive.

This is, perhaps, the biggest benefit. If you paid for online business courses, coaching, mentorship, networking events, yoga classes, meditation training, professional workshops, and an all-inclusive vacation separately – it would cost far more than a retreat. It would also be a series of one-offs in your busy daily life instead of an incredibly immersive experience. For all of the above reasons – plus that it’s an ideal way to visit a new place – there’s no question as to the value of a retreat. Straight up, it’s a worthwhile investment!

The upcoming Shefari She Succeeds retreat is an amazing way to experience a luxury women's entrepreneurial retreat

Imagine networking with these sunset views?

 

If this all sounds like something you need, we have you covered! If you’re looking for an upcoming women’s entrepreneurial retreat to jumpstart your business, check out our She Succeeds Women’s Entrepreneurial Retreat this October. Held on the storied island of Corfu, this retreat will be the perfect way to improve your bottom line – personally and professionally!

Did we mention you can WIN the entire retreat via a full scholarship by sharing your story? Click here for more information.

 

Incredible Group Trip Locations and Tips

Whether you’re a seasoned traveler or are just dipping your toes into the world of wanderlust, it’s likely you’ll want to take a group trip at some point. Group trips are amazing ways to bond with family, friends, and even coworkers. All cliches aside, you’ll create the types of memories you simply won’t experience by opting to stay on your home turf. From the amazing photos and wonder to the foibles that inevitably happen along the way, group trips are a recipe for joy. Many group trips are well-established, such as family reunions and bachelorettes. As travel planners who specialize in curating experiences for smaller groups, we have also seen a crop of newer group trips pop up, such as girlfriend getaways just for the heck of it, or a much-needed post divorce-cation. Planning an incredible group trip is a great way to get over a hump in your life, shift your perspective, and generally broaden your horizons.

If you’re planning a group trip, know that it can be a lot of work (this is also why we do what we do!) You’ll have to balance multiple budgets, opinions, and of course make some compromises. While the end result is almost always magical, we know the planning can be stressful. It’s always a good idea to get some input from your group: are you looking for a nature-fueled escape? A cultural or urban adventure? Anywhere with a beach? Set some parameters, then get to planning!

We’ve curated a list below of the best locations and times of the year for planning an incredible group trip. While this isn’t an exhaustive list of the types of group trips or destinations, we’re sure it’ll spark some inspiration!

Family reunions

When: In general, summertime is the best time of year to consider for any trip that is highly likely to include children. Another option would be the winter holiday season, after Christmas and before or leading up to New Year’s. Family reunions can range from small, intimate gatherings to convention-like productions. First, you’ll need to consider the size of your family reunion and how organized you want it to be. If a lot of extended family or people who you haven’t seen in years are coming, organized activities will help break the ice and provide some structure so the group doesn’t

Location: If you’re in need of somewhere with a lot of space, consider a beach location where you can rent a large home or villa. You may also look into hotels that are friendly for group accommodations. Kiawah Island, SC, is one amazing option. The beaches are stunning, it’s very safe to bike, and it’s close to Charleston if you want to take an adventure as a family into town. Plus, it’s one of the most relaxing places on the East Coast.

As an international option, consider renting a home in Tuscany, Italy. Tuscan villas can run for surprisingly cheap rates! You can have space with a chef, a massive yard for children to play, and all the beauty you can imagine. Plus, it’s a great central location for day trips to Pisa or Cinque Terre!

Tuscan villa, photo by Beth Evans

 

Photo by Elias Kordelakos

Bachelorettes

When: You can’t always optimize the time of year for a bachelorette party as it’s likely to depend on your wedding, the bride’s needs, and occasionally, coordinating between the busy schedules of many women. That being said, when it comes to a bachelorette, it’s a great idea to avoid traveling to places during their peak season. It’ll be much easier to get reservations at restaurants when things aren’t jam-packed. We suggest a spring or fall bachelorette.

Location ~ Austin, TX is one of our favorite bachelorette locations and really has it all. From incredible dining options to a very fun bar scene, there are many reasons Austin reigns supreme as a destination for bachelorette (and bachelor!) parties. The tech-infused town in Texas’ Hill Country is teeming with young folks, as well. We love staying at Archer Austin, the only property with double king suites outfitted for the perfect girls getaway, including giant mirrors for getting ready and a convenient shower bar for shaving. (Shefari bonus: a special gift in room and on-site credit.) Consider an afternoon at Barton Springs or a day boating trip on Lake Travis for your crew. At night, be sure to stop in at Rainey Street, a formerly residential area converted to off-beat bars. We adore the whimsy of Unbarlieveable – a circus themed bar with a 2-story slide. Nashville and New Orleans are both runners-up for US-based bachelorettes.

As an international option, we love Tulum in Mexico for its mixture of nature-fueled activities, hip hotels, and incredible international DJs.

an incredible group trip is a great way to help your broken hearted friend heal
Heal your friend’s broken heart with an incredible group trip! Image by Kelly Sikkema

Divorce-cation

When: Literally any time. This is one of those trips that may be planned unexpectedly… As such, the location may be chosen to fit the time of year versus the other way around. Anytime you’re planning something post-divorce or breakup, consider self-care. It may be tempting to plan a blowout party trip, and that’s certainly an option. But we have some other types of trips in mind to help heal the heart.

Location: Santa Fe, NM. Sante Fe is simply stunning, and it’s one of those locations with a reputation for its healing vibes and natural beauty, aka the perfect divorce-cation spot. Nourish your spirit with a visit to the legendary Ten Thousand Waves Spa, a Japanese style spa that is pure zen. You can soak in the thermal baths, including private baths for your group or ones that are just for women. Follow it up with one of their lavish treatments and izakaya-style small plates at the onsite restaurant. Santa Fe is also known for its distinctive southwest architecture and art scene. Not only can you nourish your soul with the spas and land, but the galleries of Canyon Road will leave your crew (and broken hearted friend) feeling inspired and uplifted.

As an international option, you might consider Florence for its amazing food, inspiring art, and uplifting Italian culture.

Girlfriend getaways make for an incredible group trip

Girlfriend getaways

When: Anytime, but it can be fun to pick one or two weeks a year and make this an annual ritual!

Location: Tour some US Vineyards! As we’ve written about before, the US has some incredible wine country. You can pick a region and go from there. Consider, for example, a multi-day trip to upstate New York where you can rent an amazing cabin or Airbnb near the Finger Lakes for optimum bonding time. Plan some activities, and be sure to include at least a day or two of exploring the incredible vineyards. It’s a great way to leave any city hustle and bustle behind and really bond with your girlfriends. Plus, wine always wins.

As an international option, look to Medellin, Colombia! This is a great place to wander and discover a vibrant city and culture, all while bonding with your girlfriends. Medellin also has a vibrant international scene, so you never know who your single gal pals might meet!

If you’re looking for more inspiration, check out our Shefari signature destinations. We’re happy to help you curate the group trip of a lifetime!

How to Master The Art of Travel

master the art of travel with these off the beaten path trips and techniques
Embrace the art of travel in Italy’s Puglia region via its friendly locals and delicious local fare, photo by Mariano Colombott

One of the core philosophies of Shefari is something we like to call the art of traveling. We believe travel is an experience meant to awaken our senses, help us connect more deeply to other humans and cultures, and find inspiration. Travel isn’t just tourism. Rather than playing tourist and attempting to see (and Instagram) as many of the top sites as you can, we suggest a very different way of doing things. If you’re reading this, you’re likely already interested in the immersive experiences afforded by smaller group trips and the little luxuries that come along with that. Read on for ways to experience the #artoftraveling, as well as a few trip ideas you can take!

Spices will ignite your senses, photo by Akhil Chandran

1. Use your senses

Travel with your eyes, ears, heart, and NOSE open. Did you know that smell is heavily linked to emotion? It’s why certain smells spark intense memories. As you visit markets, bakeries, restaurants, or even hike, let your nose linger and take you on a journey. You may remember the smell of fresh bread from a French bakery longer than you remember rushing to get a perfect selfie in front of the Eiffel Tower. On a hike, stop and smell the herbs. You can even plan specific experiences around this idea (more on that below). Travel this way to indulge your senses and experience the real art of traveling.

2. Plan thoughtfully

We aren’t saying you should skip every major site, but practicing the art of traveling means your approach is mindful. You’ll never experience the pure essence of a place without making space for its magic to unfold. If you need help planning a trip that simply oozes #artoftraveling, Shefari is happy to help!

3. Make time for spontaneity

Speaking of a mindful approach, the art of travel takes time. Your itineraries should include space for flexibility and unexpected discoveries. As mentioned, you don’t want to pack every major site into one trip, especially if your time is limited. Even if you manage to “see it all,” it’s rarely worth it to try. You’ll spend most of your time in transit, rushing, and missing out on the details that make a place special. Master the art of traveling by making time for to do nothing at all, or at least for more mindful activities such as wandering a city with a notebook so you can pause to sketch a scene or journal. You never know when an encounter may lead to to a spontaneous afternoon with locals or new friends!

4. Connect with people

Speaking of connecting with people over lunch, don’t be afraid to make friends along the way. Locals appreciate it when you take an interest in their communities. For example, look at the city of Barcelona. It has become so touristic that its locals are actually protesting the number of tourists. Remember that wherever you are, even if it’s somewhere incredibly touristic such as Rome, there are still people who live, work, and make their lives there. These same people are the ones with all the insider information. Make a point to connect with locals rather than seeing them as workers in some theme park you’re visiting. Remember: a local is more likely to tell you the better place for pasta in Rome than your hotel concierge. Human connection and the activities you discover as a result of connecting with locals is the very core of the #artoftraveling.

Boutique hotels offer a more intimate experience than a large chain, image via Hotel 41

5. Choose small hotels over large chains

We can’t preach this one enough! Shefari always makes a point to partner with thoughtfully curated hotels. When you can, choose locally owned over chains. The hotels will have more character, the experience will be more authentic, and you’re bringing more of your cash to the economy and people of the place you’re visiting.

A few unique activities that ooze art of travel.

Don’t just tour a perfume factory, but make your own for the ultimate olfactory experience, photo by William Bout

Now you may want to take your trip to the next level by planning some activities that capture the art of traveling. Read on for a few of our ideas!

Become a Florentine merchant for a day ~ Florence may be touristic, but it’s that way for a reason. Known to breed and host world-class artisans, craftsmen, and artists of all sorts, this is the perfect way to fuel your own creatives juices. Historically, Florence was the hub of creation during the Renaissance. To this day, it remains a center of creation. Across the Arno, a little quarter called Oltrarno is filled with small boutique shops and studios. Take a workshop and immerse yourself in trades such as jewelry making, leather processing, sculpting, and more. 

Heal with an Amazonian Medicine Man ~ Learn about healing remedies indigenous to the Peruvian Rainforest from a local medicine man. You’ll learn how to naturally heal yourself via the gifts of Mother Nature.

Take a Greek Lover’s Tour of Athens ~ Discover the archetype of Eros, the Greek god of love. On this tour, you’ll explore the meaning of “erotas” and how Athenians have expressed it for centuries. Stroll the Athenian streets to learn about the people who invented drama. Your senses will be ignited by histories of Greek passion, famous affairs, and homoerotic scandals. It’s a fun, unconventional way to see the city and hear unexpected tales. The guide tells some steamy stories, so be prepared to blush!

Spice up your life in Morocco ~ Morocco is known for its open-air markets and many, many incredible spices. You can plan an entire afternoon dedicated to just this! Learn about the many cultures that have cross-pollinated to produce Morocco’s legendary scents and flavors. You can take a planned tour, or simply do some reading in advance, then set out on a tour of spice markets where you practice mindfully engaging with all the sights, scents, and sounds!

A French perfume experience ~ What’s a top note? Did you know that perfume makers are, in a sense, both artists and chemists? Take yourself on an olfactory journey with a visit to a real perfumery. The French are known for having mastered the art of perfume, and France is home to many smaller perfumeries where you can create your own signature scent. For something off-the-beaten-path, we love this perfumery in Grasse, a town now famous for its perfumes with a legacy of scent-making that dates back to the 16th century. For Paris, check out Le Studio des Parfums (which uses ingredients from the aforementioned town of Grasse) or Candora for an immersive, intimate experience. 

the art of travel asks you to become the artist!
Learn from Florentine artisans and become the artist

Ready to plan the ultimate experience that captures the #artoftraveling? Reach out to us at Shefari! You can also share your photos and images for a chance to be featured by tagging us and using the hashtag #artoftraveling

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Seeking travel inspiration, or other destinations? We offer trips all over the globe.

Contact us anytime and let’s build your trip together!

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