Natalie Lue – Founder of Baggage Reclaim

[quote style=”boxed”]There aren’t enough hours in the day, so you’ve got to manage your own expectations, slow down a bit, delegate, and ensure that you’re not spending too much time on time-sucking activities that distract you from where your efforts should be focused. [/quote]

Natalie Lue is the founder of Baggage Reclaim, a site that empowers people to offload their baggage–and discover their great selves–by providing advice, tips, tools and inspiration to help them navigate dating and relationships (although much of what Natalie shares is applicable to life in general). Founded in 2005, it is largely inspired by Natalie’s own journey through unhealthy relationships and low self-esteem. She uses what she’s discovered along the way to translate many of the things that perplex people, and to help them change their lives. Baggage Reclaim is Cision’s 2012 #1 relationship and dating blog in the UK, and with its huge following, has become a leading voice on modern relationships.

Born in the UK and raised in Dublin, Ireland, Natalie Lue worked in various media roles until she went full time with writing at the start of 2008, while on maternity leave. She started blogging after a bad date eight years ago, and has been madly in love with blogging ever since. Very much a modern-day version of an independent publisher, she’s written several ebooks and self-published a self-help book Mr Unavailable and the Fallback Girl. On the flip side of her life, she’s also a coolhunter and founder of one of the largest lifestyle blogs, Bambino Goodies, which is for parents who love design and style.

What are you working on right now?

I’m birthing a wedding, a 5th birthday party and five books (three are updates to old ones). I’m also writing up an ecourse and planning a number of events.

Where did the idea for Baggage Reclaim come from?

I started a personal blog after going on a bad date and feeling a tad frustrated with my contrary ways. As I shared my thoughts about relationships and my life in general, people wanted to know more and more. It occurred to me that I could write a relationship site that challenged a lot of what’s out there and empowered readers to have better self-esteem and relationships. As the idea took form, it coincided with me making major changes in my own life after experiencing a series of epiphanies that inspired others to look within themselves. Nearly seven years later, I’ve still got plenty to share.

What does your typical day look like?

I’ve got two young daughters, so my working day is sandwiched between the school run. I try not to look at emails until after 9:00 a.m., which I find is good for getting your head in the right mindset. Once I’m back home, it’s a blur of replying to the avalanche of emails that never seems to stop, liaising with my assistant and contributors, preparing snippets for Facebook and sometimes Twitter, and trying to write at least 3,000 words a day (which may be a mix of ebooks and blog posts, although I often write significantly more). A couple of times of week I need to organize the book delivery for Amazon, and my weeks are often punctuated with press days, interviews, workshops, or even getting privately hired to work with readers.

How do you bring ideas to life?

I start off on paper and flesh it out into a structure. Sometimes I bounce it off readers, but more than likely, I turn to one of my crew of close friends who also work online, my boyfriend or my assistant. I keep track of all of my ideas, as I may not be in a position to do something immediately. Sometimes I also look to collaborate with others, which helps to bring ideas to life much quicker.

What’s one trend that really excites you?

I think it’s great that it’s actually a trend that bloggers are making their own opportunities and being full-on brands and publishers, instead of waiting around to be scooped up. When I started out, it was all about hoping to be discovered. Now we can discover ourselves and cut out the middle man.

What was the worst job you ever had and what did you learn from it?

That’s a tough call, as it’s between when I worked at a credit card company and when I worked at a clothing store. At the former, I was incredibly uncomfortable with sacking off my values for the sake of a sale. I’m the type who worries about people who take out credit cards or sign up for payment protection insurance (and we see how that one panned out). At the latter, my boss sexually and racially harassed me in a rather covert manner.

My takeaway was: no matter what aspect of your life you’re in, don’t compromise your values. It’s better to align yourself with opportunities that are congruent with your own beliefs. Never waste away your time wondering what you did to make someone treat you in a poor manner. Recognize poor values and behaviors for what they are, and distance yourself or make an exit.

If you were to start again, what would you do differently?

I wouldn’t load myself up so much. However, I am getting better at managing people’s expectations and not being a perfectionist.

As an entrepreneur, what is the one thing you do over and over and recommend everyone else do?

Take time off. Sometimes when you work at something at the time and burn the candle at both ends, you’re not at your most productive–mentally or physically. I’ve reclaimed my weekends and now I charge in on Mondays. I also find that I relax enough to let solutions that I’ve been struggling to find pop into my head.

What is one problem you encountered as an entrepreneur, and how did you overcome it?

There aren’t enough hours in the day, so you’ve got to manage your own expectations, slow down a bit, delegate, and ensure that you’re not spending too much time on time-sucking activities that distract you from where your efforts should be focused.

What is one business idea that you’re willing to give away to our readers?

If you have an expertise on a niche, you have an authority that’s marketable. Write an ebook or put it on Kindle.

If you could change one thing in the world, what would it be and how would you go about it?

There are a lot of grownups who haven’t been raised with good self-esteem, and have in fact been raised to doubt themselves and question their value. This has huge repercussions on interpersonal relationships, as well on what people think they can or can’t achieve.

Maybe a mandatory life skills course for teens would help teach them about the facts of life and getting healthy beliefs so that they don’t go around trying to make a fairy tale out of poor ingredients.

Tell us a secret.

I do very few of the things that people insist are critical for blogging for business (like guest posts or doing loads of social networking).

What are your three favorite online tools or resources and what do you love about them?

Hootsuite is great for managing social media accounts. I love Flipboard on iPad for reading my feeds on Google Reader as well as for discovering lots of wonderful blogs and sites that they curate from various sources. Evernote is like my online dump of stuff I’m interested in, stuff I might need at a later stage, ideas, notes and pictures.

What is the one book that you recommend our community should read and why?

Getting Things Done: How to achieve stress-free productivity. While I’m never one for following things to the letter, once I understood how the mind deals with what it thinks are outstanding tasks, I could see why I was experiencing so much stress. This book is good if you need a system for not going crazy from work.

Three people we should follow on Twitter and why?

I’m not a major Twitter person, so this is a tough one. But if I’m wanting to laugh or discover new things, I’ll be eager for the following people’s updates:

@designtrust: An ex colleague of mine runs this organization, which provides advice and tools for designers and crafts people. She shares a hell of a lot of interesting stuff that’s often relevant, even if you’re not in the industry.
@catesevilla: She’s sharp, smart, hilarious, and not afraid to be frank about the crazy things that people say about women.
@shaawasmund: I listened to this entrepreneur and author speak a few months ago, and she’s rather funny.

When was the last time you laughed out loud? What caused it?

*Cough* Catching up with my not-so-guilty pleasure last night, Made In Chelsea. I doubled over laughing while watching the faces during a confrontation.

Who is your hero?

Truthfully, I don’t have one. There are people I like and admire, but I’m not really a hero person.

Any tips for bloggers with ideas?

1. Give yourself time. You’re not going to have an instant following or make money immediately.
2. Pace yourself. It’s easy to be gung-ho in the beginning and then burn out and lose your mojo, so make it easier by gradually increasing how much you post and managing your expectations.
3. Don’t follow the herd. If you aspire to turn blogging into a career, doing what the herd isn’t doing is going to help you carve out your niche and develop your voice.
4. If you’re at the start of a career change, be business-minded. While writing a personal blog may yield a book, it’s not really a business that you can work on and grow immediately.

What’s a quick stress reliever?

Sometimes I’m really frazzled and people want me on email at the same time the kids are fighting, and just as I’m about to erupt, they say or do something that not only makes me laugh out loud, but also reminds me to pause for a moment and remember why I do what I do. It also reminds me of all the things for which I am grateful.


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