Brand New Blogger List Building Tips

When you first join the blogging world it can be really exciting. You have so many ideas and dreams for your blog. Your thoughts are completely consumed with amazing blog topics and you feel like you're a walking content machine.

While you're submersed in blog posts, you may be forgetting something SUPER important. Your list. So many new bloggers put this off until they feel like they're more established and I'm here to tell you that that's a huge mistake!

Brand New Blogger List Building Tips

List building gets pushed to the side much too often because brand new bloggers may not be aware that email marketing isn't just for selling. So, when you're just starting out, it can be pretty intimidating to enter this field. But, let me tell you, this thought process could be doing your blog a lot of damage.

So, before you sign up for your ESP (email service provider) let's talk about 4 things you need to be amazingly clear on first.

  • Know exactly who you are serving
  • Know their pains and struggles
  • Feel confident in your solution(s)
  • Adjust as you go (blogger growing pains)

Know exactly who you are serving. As you've been traveling along on your blog journey, you may have heard this phrase (or variations of it) quite a bit. You know it's important, but you may not feel like you have this down yet. On a scale from 1-10, how well do you feel you know your ideal client? Write that number down.

let's do a fun little exercise.

I want you to seriously get a notebook out or bring up your notebook app. on your phone and answer these questions. Close your eyes and write down everything you feel and know about this person you serve. Pretend you're sitting at a park bench with your ideal reader/client/customer and answer the following questions:

  • Male or female?
  • How old?
  • Pets?
  • Family?
  • What does he/she do for a living?
  • Are they happy?
  • What keeps them up at night?
  • What excites them in the morning?
  • What are their goals?
  • What kinds of questions do they ask you?
  • What could you two talk about for hours?

After you've written down your answers to each of these questions (extra credit if you can elaborate and add extra details!) I want you to rate yourself again, from 1-10.

Did your number increase or decrease? Take a step back and ask yourself why? Were you overly confident and your answers didn't come easy to you? Or did you surprise yourself?

Know their pains and struggles. We touched a bit on this topic when you went through the exercise above (what keeps them up at night). Now, I want you to dig even deeper. Think about their biggest pain. What keeps them up at night and what kind of answers are they looking for. I want you to write down their biggest pain. Then ask yourself , "why?" 5 times! This process will get you so crystal clear on their problems you will be amazed! So, here's an example: 

Clients biggest pain: She wants to lose 20 pounds.

WHY? Because she gained a lot of baby weight.

WHY? Because she ate too much ice cream when she was pregnant.

WHY? Because she had huge cravings!

WHY? Because she wasn't eating the right/healthier foods.

WHY? Because she had no guidance when it came to diet during pregnancy.

Wow, do you see how I narrowed that down? Originally you thought you knew your clients biggest problem, lose 20 pounds. But, how generic is that? Pretty much everybody wants to lose 20 pounds, so that doesn't help you create your own market, much less show people that you are the expert. You can't be the expert in helping everyone lose 20 pounds. That's too generic and way too broad. What you can do, is specialize in helping women stay at a healthy weight during pregnancy by providing guidance, education, etc.

Feel confident in your solution(s). Now, let's talk about your solution. You identified with your client's biggest pain, now think about how you can help them. If your client came to you and asked you to help them with their 5th WHY, would you be able to? Think about what kinds of solutions you would have for this problem, topics you could cover, programs you could offer, etc. What kind of transformation are they looking for? Asking yourself the WHY's and brainstorming each of them is an excellent way to create content your readers and clients will adore!

Adjust as you go (blogger growing pains).  If you do your job well, your blog will grow and evolve. You may find that a different group of customers/readers are totally into your blog while the original group you had set it up for went to a different party! And you know what? That's totally ok! The important thing is that you are always in the right mindset to serve and help others and accept the people who show up at your blog door because they're the ones who feel a connection with you and need your help.

When you have all four of these things down, you can then start focusing on building and nurturing your list. Content will come so much easier to you now!

5 Lessons I Learned About Money My First Year of Business

One thing no one talks about when it comes to being a small business owner is how much there is to learn. There are so many aspects of running a business and most of the time you don’t even know that you need to learn something until it’s midnight and you’re like, “Oh and then there’s that thing.”

If you’re lucky, you have a business mentor, but many of us are students of Google - which really means that we’re figuring it out all on our own!

The financial side of running a business is no different. I remember during my first year of business there was SO MUCH to learn about how the money side worked. From creating a budget to saving for taxes it took me a long time to get it all figured out.

There were times I really wished someone would just tell me what I needed to know or, let’s get real, just do it all for me. Which is why I wrote this post. I’m going to tell you everything I learned about money my first year of business so you don’t have to struggle like I did!

Here are my top 5 money lessons:

[LESSON 1]- Don't put off your bookwork. You will regret it. Trust me.

[LESSON 2]- Keep track of all your subscription expenses (Dropbox, Canva, Haute Stock, etc.)

[LESSON 3]- Create a folder in your email account (sub-folders if you're feeling extra organized) for all of your receipts that come in.

[LESSON 4]- Use Google Sheets to set up and keep track of your expenses. Or you can sign up for accounting software like Wave or Every Dollar.

[LESSON 5]- Don't skimp on learning about this aspect of your business. Learn from people who know what they're talking about and make it work for you. 

While I learned a lot about money my first year of business there were so many times that I just wished someone would tell me exactly what to do! Which is why I’m so excited to introduce you to Andi Smiles and her new program Bad Ass Business Finance!

Bad Ass Business Finance is an 8-week program that teaches small business owners how to build healthy financial habits into their business. Andi goes over EVERYTHING you need to know about your money- from income tracking, tax deductions, and annual tax prep to how to save for taxes, pay yourself, and set long-term financial goals that are actionable.

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This course is everything I wish I had when I was first starting off!

Enrollment is open until October 13th. And guess what? If you purchase from my affiliate link  (and then send me your invoice) I will also give you full access to my list building course, List Building Mania for free!

So, that's an $87 gift from me to you :)

If you’ve been waiting for the perfect moment to get control of your business finance- now is the time! Learn more about Bad Ass Business Finance here.

PS: Also, if you want to get to know how great Andi is, you can listen to our conversation earlier this year on my podcast here.

How to Create a Thank You Page in Squarespace

Having good manners with your business is really important. That's why we never want to forget to say, "thank you!" when someone gives us their email address in exchange for information. 

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We always want to go above and beyond here. That's why instead of using the standard thank you message built in your email service provider we are going to create a new page on your Squarespace website that is strictly dedicated to thanking your subscribers AND offering them even more goodies! I'm going to show you exactly how and why I have set up right now. Ready?

So, this is my thank you page. If you want to see it live just click here. I have 4 key elements on it. Let's dig into them further:

1: When your subscribers land on this page, let them know they are all set. Thank them and make them feel good about what's to come. 

2: This is a great place to put an invitation to your Facebook group community. You can also change this page to reflect any upcoming webinars, live events, etc.

3: Add a button for extra emphasis!

4: This is one of my favorite features. I added a summary block to my page that automatically shows my latest blog posts (which all have freebies attached). So, the majority of the time when I see a subscriber come in from one blog post, I'll also see them sign up for the additional posts that pop up on the thank you page. 

Once your thank you page is created you will be able to use that link in your email service provider and any other space when appropriate. It's a lifesaver!

PS: If you you're loving the way this looks and want to set up your own account in MailerLite for free then click here to get started!

How to Send PDF's in MailerLite

One of the best ways to build your email list is by offering freebies. A freebie is something you give away to a potential subscriber in exchange for their email address. The most common form of a freebie is a PDF. They're easy to send and anyone can open and save them.

When I switched from ConvertKit to MailerLite I ran into a bit of a snag when I was setting up my automations and forms. I couldn't attach a PDF! I did some digging and found out a super simple way to get the job done.

How to Send PDF's in MailerLite

So, let's say your latest freebie is a 5 day challenge that's dripped in once a day for 5 days. What you'll do first is create your form:

Click on forms.

  1. Choose which type of form you would like to create. For most of my freebies, as you can see, I use embedded forms.
  2. Click on CREATE EMBEDDED FORM
  3. Name your form. I like to name it the same as my freebie title.
  4. Choose your form type. You can choose from a button or an actual form. We are going to choose the form for this example.
  5. Click CREATE EMBED FORM
  6. Now you need to select your subscriber group. You may not have anything under here, which is totally fine because you can create a new one under this tab. If you need to do that, then just claim ADD NEW GROUP. I like to call my group the same thing as the freebie as well. 
  7. Scroll to the bottom and hit SAVE AND CONTINUE.
  8. We will start from the bottom and work down. You can choose to turn your double opt-in on or off. I'm going to turn it off for this one.
  9. Change the copy in the title, text, and button title. You will see the form on the left will auto-populate your changes.
  10. You can leave the text or edit it in the thank you message box or you can redirect the url. I have a separate thank you page on my site that I like to take subscribers to, so I change it to that. Here's an example.
  11. Change the look of your text box as you fit. I like to center mine and bold the lettering.
  12. Click on DESIGN. This is where you change the colors to match your branding, center the title, and change the form layout.
  13. Click on FIELDS if you would like more information from a subscriber besides their email address.
  14. Click on GROUPS to double-check you have the right group selected. As your groups grow you can click on more than one. For example, I may want to click on one of my course funnels as well. 
  15. Hit SAVE once you're done.
  16. You are automatically brought to your coding. This is where you grab the java script and/or link to embed your form.

Now that you have your form created, we can go ahead and set up the automation portion.

  1. Click on AUTOMATION
  2. Click on CREATE A NEW WORKFLOW
  3. Name your workflow. I use the title of whatever I'm promoting
  4. Choose your trigger. I'm going to pick "When a subscriber joins a group."
  5. Choose your group. Use the same group you used when creating your form.
  6. Hit SAVE

The purpose of choosing a group is you are telling MailerLite "when a subscriber signs up under the 5 day challenge form I then want this email to go out to them automatically."

Now you're brought to your flow screen. This is one of my favorite parts about MailerLite. I'm a visual person and I love to see all the emails literally right in front of me on a piece of paper. This is so helpful when you're creating a drip course or a series of emails for your marketing funnels.

For this challenge, our plan is to send one email each day for five days. We want the first email to go out immediately after they fill out the form. So, we will go ahead set up our flow:

  1. Click on the + sign
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2. Since you want an email to go out immediately, you're going to choose EMAIL.

Now, you'll look over to the right hand side and fill in all your information. The subject line, your name and email, if you want Google Analytics (I always check this box, and your language.

3. Click DESIGN EMAIL.

You have a few choices here. You can use the drag and drop editor (if you're familiar with MailChimp then this is almost exactly the same), rich text editor (what I use 99% of the time, or your own HTML. I'm going to choose rich text editor for this example.

4. Now you can write your email.

This is where we are used to attaching our PDF's. MailerLite is a bit different and since you're reading this blog post this is the moment you've been waiting for!

We are not allowed to attach a PDF in MailerLite. BUT, we can link to one. So, what you're going to do is go into your Google Drive (sign up for one if you don't have one yet) and then drag your PDF into the drive.

5. Click on the share button up on the top right hand corner.

6. Click on the drop down box and pick ANYONE-PUBLIC ON THE WEB

7. Copy the link

8. Click DONE

9. Now go back into MailerLite and hyperlink (clink on the chain link) your copy with the link you just copied.

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10. Click OK.

11. Finish up your email. Make any changes needed.

12. Click DONE EDITING.

13. Your next step (well the next 4 emails will be the same) is to click the + sign again.

14. This time you'll click on delay, because we want these emails spaced out a day for each one.

15. One the right hand side you'll see this is where you can choose your timeframe. Hit SAVE when you're done.

16. Go back to your flow chart and click the + sign and then EMAIL.

You're going to do the exact same thing for any and all emails going forward.

Super simple right!?

Make sure when you are all done setting up your automation that you turn it on! TOP RIGHT HAND CORNER.

There you have it! Email automation made easy!

PS: If you you're loving the way this looks and want to set up your own account in MailerLite for free then click here to get started!

Why I Switched From ConvertKit to MailerLite

As small business owners and bloggers, we all know how important it is to have a list. The confusing part comes when it's time to choose an email service provider. MailChimp and ConvertKit seem to be the most popular right now. I've worked with them both for several months and now I'm not with either of them. I found something so much better. Let me tell you why.

Why I Switched From ConvertKit to MailerLite

I started my business over two years ago. Signing up for MailChimp was one of the first things I did. I saw so many other people use it that I admired and my business coach at the time even used it. So, I figured it was a no brainer. 

As my list grew through my first year I started to get frustrated with all of the duplicate subscribers counting against me. I had multiple freebies and it was doing me a disservice. I started to look into how I can segment my lists and it was terribly confusing. I'm pretty savvy when it comes to this stuff, but MailChimp could seriously make a lot of lives easier by simplifying some processes. 

After a lot of work, research, and frustration I decided to leave my paid MailChimp plan (at that time they were charging for automation) and head over to where it seemed all the cool bloggers were hanging out, ConvertKit.

I was paying triple the amount with ConvertKit than I was with MailChimp, but I kept telling myself it was worth it. ConvertKit is definitely pretty user friendly in general. I know a lot of people who get crazy strategic with tagging etc. but that's just not me. I really liked how I could build my email funnels, implement tagging, and the analytics were really great.

I like to evaluate my systems and processes every 6 months or so and ConvertKit was really sticking out in my mind.

What I didn't like about ConvertKit:

  • I needed more visuals (explained further below)
  • I didn't like the price
  • It didn't integrate with Squarespace
  • No drag and drop templates

What I liked about ConvertKit:

  • Simplicity of creating forms
  • Analytics were easy to understand
  • Tagging was helpful to keep subscribers sorted
  • Building Sequences was pretty simple

 

After looking and comparing several email service providers I finally made a decision. One of my clients mentioned that she was using it and after I looked into it more I could see that this could actually be pretty promising! 

It's pretty simple to sign up for an account, but you know what's not simple? Transferring all of your email funnels, creating new freebie forms, and landing pages. Let me clarify. It's actually really simple to do, but very time consuming for me as I have over 30 freebies alone. Not to mention all of my funnels. It took me a few days to do it all. Keep in mind I have a newborn and two other children to interrupt my work time too!

I wouldn't have been able to do it so seamlessly if I wasn't such an organization freak from the beginning either. I used my blog planning template and just worked my way down the list. Here's how simple it is:

1. Open up your template or go off of your own list and identify the first blog post you need to change.

2. Go into your blog post that has a freebie where you need to change the form. 

3. Go into MailerLite (sign up for your free account here) and update the necessary business info to get started. 

4. Click on forms.

5. Choose which type of form you would like to create. For most of my freebies, as you can see, I use embedded forms.

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6. Click on CREATE EMBEDDED FORM

7. Name your form. I like to name it the same as my freebie title.

8. Choose your form type. You can choose from a button or an actual form. We are going to choose the form for this example.

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9. Click CREATE EMBED FORM

10. Now you need to select your subscriber group. You may not have anything under here, which is totally fine because you can create a new one under this tab. If you need to do that, then just claim ADD NEW GROUP. I like to call my group the same thing as the freebie as well. 

11. Scroll to the bottom and hit SAVE AND CONTINUE.

12. We will start from the bottom and work down. You can choose to turn your double opt-in on or off. I'm going to turn it off for this one.

13. Change the copy in the title, text, and button title. You will see the form on the left will auto-populate your changes.

14. You can leave the text or edit it in the thank you message box or you can redirect the url. I have a separate thank you page on my site that I like to take subscribers to, so I change it to that. Here's an example.

15. Change the look of your text box as you fit. I like to center mine and bold the lettering.

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16. Click on DESIGN. This is where you change the colors to match your branding, center the title, and change the form layout. 

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17. Click on FIELDS if you would like more information from a subscriber besides their email address.

18. Click on GROUPS to double-check you have the right group selected. As your groups grow you can click on more than one. For example, I may want to click on one of my course funnels as well. 

19. Hit SAVE once you're done.

20. You are automatically brought to your coding. You can either grab the java script or grab the link.

21. I paste my coding into my blog planning spreadsheet so it's easier to grab. Get that template here.

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22. Then I go into my blog post and change the coding/link and ta-da everything is updated!

Now, you may be wondering, "How does my subscriber get her freebie then?" Great question! Here's a tutorial on how to automatically deliver a freebie to your subscribers. I will also show you another really simple way as well. 

In step 14 I had you put a link to your thank you page. So, the process for a subscriber would be:

  1. They'd read your blog post
  2. See your form
  3. Give you their email
  4. Redirected to your thank you page
  5. Freebie delivered to their inbox

But if you don't have a thank you page built yet then you can go another route. Let's say you have a PDF you want to send to your subscriber once they sign up:

  • Open up your Google Drive account (sign up for one if you don't)
  • Find your PDF (or any other kind of document)
  • Drag it into your Google Drive
  • Open up the document
  • Click on SHARE (top right corner)
  • Click on GET SHARABLE LINK
  • Click the drop down box and click on MORE
  • Click on ON-PUBLIC ON THE WEB
  • Copy link provided
  • Change the link in your MailerLite form (where the thank you page link goes) to the sharable link Google gives you.

Now the process is a bit different for your subscriber:

  1. They'd read your blog post
  2. See your form
  3. Give you their email
  4. Redirected to your freebie

I mostly use my thank you page because I want them to come back to my website and see what else they can learn. I don't want them to get side-tracked and move away from me.

Once your form is created and ready to go, you are able to see the analytics laid out very plainly for you. Just click on FORMS to view.

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Like I said, this took time with all of the freebie forms I had to update, but it was completely worth it. I now have an email system that is doing exactly what I want and need for FREE.

What email system do you use? Do you love it?

How to Be the Most Organized Blogger Ever

Don't you hate it when you have nothing planned ahead? It makes me so nervous. The very last thing I want to be doing is staying up too late (past ten for me) or working during my non-work hours on something I really could and should have done a long time ago.

I work best when I'm strict with myself and when I create a system that I can stick to. I've shared this template before, but I want to share it again because it keeps me on track and it helped me plan months ahead for my maternity leave. 

This template helps you go from the ideas in your head to putting down the final blog post link. It also has the reminders that I need to have in order to officially complete a post. So, yours might be a bit different, but you'll get the gist!

I love creating templates like this on Google Sheets because not only can I work on it on my desktop computer, but I can also access it from my phone too, which is super handy!

So go ahead and grab all of your blog post ideas that you have written everywhere, download the template, and make it your own! You will be the most organized blogger ever!

How to Stop Doing Things that Aren't Working

It is so easy to convince yourself to try this and to try that when it comes to new and bright ideas for your online business. We are all so desperately trying to make something stick that we suddenly realize we have about 4,000 irons in the fire.

Now you can go and learn this lesson the hard way (have everything come crashing down on you) or you listen to me and take a look at what you have going on in your business life. 

When I first started my coaching business I was FULL of ideas. I was constantly listening to podcasts, writing down everything that came to my mind. I was so anxious to get out there and stand out I was willing to try a little bit of everything until "my time" came. I was involved in WAY TOO MANY PROJECTS. 

And the worst part of all was I was the creator of them all. So, I felt like I had to keep them going otherwise I'd look like a quitter. 

Are you nodding your head? Do have a feeling in your gut that you're tackling too much?

One of the first things I started to look at when I was feeling a bit overwhelmed was money. I wrote down all of "irons" I had in the fire and then I wrote down if they were passion projects, money makers, time suckers, making me money or costing me money (you get the picture). 

I noticed there were a few things on my list that I spent way too much time on AND that were costing me money. No brainer huh? It took me a little time, but I finally made the decision that I was going to step away from those time and money suckers. These projects didn't relate to my main purpose and goal and the more I thought about it I was totally OK with letting them go. 

I'm a pretty spontaneous person, but I did take my time closing the curtains on the projects I could no longer devote to. I mean I spent a lot of time on these things and it sure wasn't easy to let them go!

One thing you have to remember when you decide not to do something any longer is..sadly...not many people will even notice. And the few that do will just shrug their shoulders and think, "hmm, she must be focusing more on ___." It's really not as big of a deal as you may make it out to be. 

So, what are the projects that you're devoting all of your time and money on that don't bring in any money?

I'm not all about the money here. Don't get the wrong idea. But it's a big priority! However, another really important (actually the most important) thing to me is TIME! I have a full time job, three kids, a husband, and a home to take care of. I literally CANNOT spend all my time doing things that have no promise. 

Once I got that through to myself and scraped some things off my plate I felt like I lost 100 pounds. It was so much easier to schedule my work time, plan ahead, and focus. Now, when I think back to everything else I used to do for pretty much no reason, I just shake my head. I can't get mad at my past because it taught me a lesson and made me who I am today.

How to Host a Webinar for Free

Webinar, live class, workshop, whatever. They're all same. Right? I think I can speak for many of you when I say that I have a love/hate relationship with them.

What I love about webinars is the intimacy and the value that they hold. 

What I don't really love is the mystery behind them. When I first started coming to them a few years back I thought these gurus must be HIGH TECH! They were using expensive software like WebinarJam and they just made me feel like hosting one of my own was completely out of my league. 

After attending so many webinars on various platforms I finally decided to do one on my own. So, I went out on an exploration to find the perfect software. To me, the perfect software was going to be FREE and not buggy at all. 

My first webinar was done on Zoom and it worked really well. Zoom is still one of my favorite platforms to record (that's a paid feature by the way) podcast interviews on, but I don't use it anymore for webinars. 

This is what I've learned in the past couple of years hosting webinars and some of the mistakes I've made.

  • RECORD THEM. Even if you said you aren't recording (to urge attendance). If it turns out flipping amazing then you have a live class to have on your site (hello email list sign ups!) or you could even sell it for a few bucks! RECORD!
  • My first webinar was on Zoom and it went pretty well. BUT,  I was devastated to learn that it didn't record...because I didn't pay to upgrade. Boo. I learned that the hard way. 
  • Make sure your slides are clean and simple. I'd rather you'd have 80 slides than 40 with a bunch of text on them and so would your students.
  • Send out reminder emails (don't go too crazy and annoy people). I like to send two on the day of the class. One three hours before class starts and one 5 minutes before class starts.
  • Give them an incentive to stay until the end.
  • Engage with them and ask them questions. 
  • BREATHE. Don't take yourself so seriously. I fly by they seat of my pants with them. I don't freak out and I don't even practice because that makes me nervous. Do what makes you comfortable and feel prepared. 

The best part about webinars is you don't even have to show that gorgeous face of yours. You can look like a complete mess, sitting on a laptop, hiding in your messy bedroom with the door locked and no one would know the difference!

The steps I go through to host a webinar:

  • Create a registration page. I create a cover page on Squarespace, link a form to Google Docs, and then load my ConvertKit when it's time to send out the first email.
  • Invite and promote on social media. Sometimes I'll buy ad(s) and sometimes I don't. 
  • Write a blog post that goes out the day of that promotes the class.
  • Make sure the reg. page link is on all of my social media accounts
  • Create a stand alone page for the webinar (I, once again, just create a new page on Squarespace)
  • Schedule a Live Event in YouTube
  • Embed on webinar page
  • Add any buttons or calls to action on the live page
  • Create emails that need to go out to students the day of
  • Write "after class" emails and attach recorded video

I created a checklist of everything I am currently using for webinars. I still don't pay for expensive software or anything really fancy. I just make sure to deliver valuable content and I have an end goal in mind every time I decide to host one.

What you Need to Start a Blog

Starting a blog sounds so fun right? Once you finally decide to actually go ahead and start one you then realize that there are a lot of pieces to the puzzle.

The hardest part is trying to figure everything out yourself. You have so many questions like:

  • what should I blog about
  • where should i blog
  • what template should i pick
  • how will I get website traffic
  • how will I monetize
  • and about a million more...

What's really difficult about the whole process is there really isn't one way to do anything. You either have to find someone you trust to do it for you or teach you how or you have to learn it all by yourself. 

I created my first website in an advanced computer summer class 16 years ago. Yes. I was that girl.

I've created a ton of different sites on several platforms for myself since then. The domains are no longer valid and no, I didn't save any screenshots of them. #embarrassing #didtheyevenhavescreenshotsbackthen

Once I learned what the heck I was doing and found my footing I started building sites for clients and businesses (on Squarespace of course). 

And what I've learned by doing all of this work is THEY ALL START OUT THE SAME. 

A blank template with a dream. So many options and so much to think about. And that's where people get completely lost. 

All of the Squarespace templates look amazing right? Of course they do. Why? Because they all have professional photography and are created by designers. The biggest drag is when you finally select your template of choice (expecting it to look just like theirs)  and then you slap up your photos and you wonder what the heck happened? My site looks nothing like the Pacific template example! You throw up your hands and walk away.

So many people get stuck at this step. They don't even move onto something else because they aren't even aware they CAN move onto something else. They just stop. And that's just sad.

I created a checklist that I use personally and that  I recommend to all of my Blogging Accelerator Club members to help guide them through the fun and not so fun tasks of creating and launching their blogs. 

How to Get Your Act Together and Get Things Done

When you work from home, the best feeling ever is having a a clean and organized workspace where you feel like you can be creative and work as efficient as possible. It gets a little chaotic work from home though.

Random things end up on your desk. For me it's little toys, snacks, diapers, or sippy cups. When things get cluttered around me that's how my brain feels and that doesn't work to well. Especially when this is a one woman machine. And I know I'm not alone!

I created a challenge to help you GET IT TOGETHER! If you have kiddos at home, they'll be starting school again soon. And how nice would it be to just finally....have it together. 

I like to make lists and work in doable sets. I learned that tactic from my lovely grandma. So, I took that approach when I created this challenge. Each day is a new and totally doable assignment for you to get it together. 

By the time you're done with this challenge you are going to feel so amazing and proud of yourself! And it's only 5 days! I am super excited because this is not just a challenge you can and will do once. It's something you can come back to again and again when you need it. 

So, what are you waiting for? Let's get it together!

How I Prepared My Business for Maternity Leave

As I'm writing this post I am 28 weeks pregnant and it's April 19. When you finally get to read this I will have a newborn hanging out with me and I will NOT be worried about blogging, social media, or building my list. The only things I will be focused on is our new baby and my family. And I'm only allowed to do this because I prepared myself and my business. 

Having a baby is a pretty major life event. Even if you get months to prepare it seems like the last couple sneak up on you. Especially when you have other little ones running around. 

My online business is very important to me. When I found out I was having number 3 I knew right away that I didn't want to hit pause. I went into full blown planning mode for a few reasons:

  • I didn't want to have to worry about blogging for at least a month
  • I didn't want to have to worry about social media for at least a month
  • I didn't want to have to worry that my email list was collecting dust

The thought of nursing a baby and trying to figure out what to blog about just didn't mesh well. I wanted all my focus to be on this new little person (right now I don't know if it's a boy or a girl.) #drivingmycrazy

So, I thought about the next (this was at the beginning of April) 5 months and I started writing ideas on a piece of paper. I ended up with 17 different ideas.

Then I looked at each one and labeled them as to what category/theme they would fall into. Like email marking, personal development, sales, etc. 

I ended up with 5 different themes, which worked out perfectly. I like to plan my months in chunks so I knew this system was working well for me so far. 

Here's an example: for the month of May I blogged about email marketing. I had 5 different ideas/blog posts and they fell under the email marketing theme. So, May's blog schedule looked like this:

How I prepared my business for maternity leave

I did this type of planning all up to the end of August. I assigned myself to get 1 blog post done a day (more on the weekends) and I ended up finishing everything in less then two and half weeks. That's a lot of blog posts for that amount of time! 

It's the best feeling ever to see all of the scheduled posts ready to go in the backend of my site!

I also scheduled all of my Instagram posts, Pinterest pins, and Podcast images (and episodes) in this amount of time as well.

I wouldn't have been able to do all of this so seamlessly if I didn't have a template to guide me right through it all. I got a huge feeling of satisfaction every time I got to check off a new task as complete. 

You don't need some fancy project management system to get things done. All you need is all you need. Make sense?

You can use this template for anything. Being pregnant is not a pre-requisite ;) I highly suggest you take a peak and see it's something you'd use because it saved me!

10 Blogging Tips for Introverts

Blogging is the perfect pastime/profession for introverts. But in order to do it successfully there are a few things to keep in mind.

We talked a bit about how introverts can grow their business here, but today I want to give some advice to my fellow introverts who are trying to do this all alone and have no clue how to handle everything that's thrown at them. Because...we don't really like asking for help...

10 Blogging Tips for Introverts

  • Start slow.
  • Plan ahead.
  • Work ahead of yourself.
  • Follow a schedule you can handle.
  • Keep personal and business accounts separate.
  • Set your hours.
  • Make your contact system seamless.
  • Automate as much as you can.
  • Network on your level.
  • Know your audience.

Let's dig into these.

Start slow. With everything! It takes a while for us to get comfortable with a setting or a process. When you attempt to do anything new with your business it can be tempting to go full speed ahead (because you sort of think that will propel your business forward even faster). Instead of taking off with a sprint and never paying attention to anything around you because you don't want your business to fail try doing the complete opposite.

For example, let's say you want to get into Pinterest more and you sign up for BoardBooster and Tailwind in the same day with absolutely no clue what your strategy is. What happens? You get completely overwhelmed and both of these incredibly helpful tools start collecting dust and you jump onto the next thing. 

What you should do is research and write down everything you learn. Look on YouTube for tutorials or read blog posts. Soak up everything you can and write down what you took away from your learning experience. Then go back to the software and implement what you know. You're starting slow. As you keep working with something, the more questions you will have, and you will continue to improve your experience.

Plan ahead. I'm a big believer in planning. My favorite planner right now is from here. I love it because it's very basic and doesn't have a lot of random junk in it that I don't need. The minimalist approach will get me every time. Use a physical planner to help retain and record your future events and important dates. I also have a calendar marker board as well. It's duplicate information, but it helps me remember everything that our family and business have going on.

Work ahead of yourself. For your business, I recommend planning and scheduling at least a month ahead of time. Only do this if you want less stress and more time though...

Follow a schedule you can handle. It's so easy to go crazy and fall into the trap of claiming you can be super woman next month when you're planning ahead, but make sure you're being totally realistic with yourself, your business, your family, and your sanity. You can always set the "extra to-do's" aside incase you happen to have the time to do them, but don't overwhelm yourself.

Keep personal and business accounts separate. I remember when I first started I noticed that everyone I followed (bloggers) were very transparent with their family and personal life. For some reason I thought that was something you had to do and I did not feel comfortable with that. I personally, just didn't like the fact of putting my kiddos on social media/on my website or anywhere really. That's completely my choice and I think that so many people feel they have to share or tell their life story if they're a blogger when the truth is...you don't. It's your business. It's all completely up to your discretion and comfort.

Set your hours. I only get "in the zone" a few hours per day and that's between 1 and 5. Winging things gives me major anxiety and I have to have that structure to keep me happy/sane.

Make your contact system seamless. When people email you or set up an appointment with you make sure you have a seamless line of communication. I used to get so nervous when people would set up a call with me and I had no standard email to send them. Again, winging it does not work for me.

Automate as much as you can. This is huge and is a big lifesaver. Invest in the extra $10 a month in your MailChimp account for automated emails or upgrade to ConvertKit when you're ready. I promise you, you will not regret it. When someone signs up for a freebie, you no longer have to wonder and worry how and when they're going to get what they asked for. Automation just makes life easier. Take the time and look at  your systems of communication. What can you automate? Make your email system WORK for you. 

Network on your level. If reaching out to people you think are more advanced in this journey than you, then reach out to people you feel comfortable reaching out to. Just because you're at home, behind your computer does not mean you don't ever have to talk to anyone again. The beauty of it all is that it can be done via text (our favorite way of communication).

Know your audience. If you're a bit clueless in this area then of course you're going to be uncomfortable when you have to "get out there" and talk. When you post on your social media accounts, send out an email, or write copy for your site think about who your audience is, what their problem is, and how you can help them in a way no one else can. 

How to Create a Digital Vision Board

I have always loved the idea of a vision board. I really believe visual inspiration is very effective. I have one problem though. I literally have no where to put one. I've moved my office 3 times in the last six months...

This Spring we made a lot of changes to our home. Our family was growing and we were busy playing switcheroo with rooms trying to find the best spot for this kid and that kid, mom's office, and mom's other office. I finally ended up in a good spot, but there's just no room for a board. I also don't want one hanging up where my office is either. So, I had to get creative. Which means...I went to Pinterest and started pinning away!

I knew this wasn't the way I wanted to visualize my goals because, let's face it, I can't focus on Pinterest. I'm all over the place. One minute I'm looking up hairstyles and the next I'm looking up fun Summer homework for the kid. Then I thought, this was a really great starting point though. So, I just kept on pinning and it finally led to the ideal vision board! Let me show you how I did it.

This vision board is purely business goals. Since I'm going digital, I'm going to categorize my visions. So, I will create a business board, health board, and maybe a home board. That's off the top of my head right now, but you get where I'm going.

Here are the "topics" of my business vision board:

  • Office space inspiration
  • Wall decor
  • Motivational quotes
  • Vacation goals

Creative process:

  • I went and pinned around 5 different pins from each topic to a new board I created in Pinterest.
  • Then I took a screen shot of each pin and saved them to my desktop.
  • I opened up Canva and I chose to create my own design. I used custom dimensions of 800/600 (because I wanted to use this has a screen background.)
  • I drug all of my screenshots that were saved to my desktop over to my Canva photo uploads.
  • I decided against their layouts because it messed with the photos too much. So, I went ahead and grabbed some rectangle frames as most of my photos were that size anyway. 
  • Then I went ahead and started dragging pictures over and rearranging them until I was satisfied with the look.
Vision Board

And that's it! What took the longest was making my template in Canva, but I kept you in mind and I created two templates for you to use! So this will literally take you minutes!

So, now I don't have to have a bulletin board up or random pieces of paper on my wall. I can just save the image on my desktop or print it out on one page and clip it into my planner. Easy peasy.

How Introverts Can Grow Their Business

Our time has finally come fellow introverts. The time for us to shine. From the comfort of our homes. 

I love this quote I found on Pinterest. It reads, "Introverts unite! Separately. In our own homes." I can totally relate. What about you?

I didn't even know about the word introvert until I heard someone talk about it on their podcast a couple of years ago and I thought immediately to myself, that is so me!

I resonate a lot with being an introvert, but I don't like titling myself as that because I don't want to fit into just one space. Does that make me even more of an introvert? 

So, why is it our time to shine? Because we love being in our comfort zone. And for the majority of us, our comfort zone is our own home. How great is it that we can work from our comfort zone yet too? Pretty dang great. 

But, how do you grow your business if you're an introvert?

Never follow one set of rules. Take bits and pieces from different people/areas of expertise and use the ones you like and know you can handle. I like to make things my own so I'm comfortable with the process and the end result.

So, let me tell you what has worked for me.

I found it very helpful to join Facebook groups that I knew I had something in common with. I've said it before and I'll say it again, my favorite Facebook group is Melyssa Griffin's Online Business BFF's group.

I've met so many amazing women here that I've collaborated with on my podcast, guest blog posts, virtual blog summits, and jv webinars. I found it so easy to reach out in a group where I felt comfortable and I love how everyone is or has been in the same boat. 

If this would have been in real life at some kind of networking event... Yeah. None of this magic would have happened. 

This worked and continues to work for me because I was able to test the waters on my own time, reach out when I felt it was right, and know that I was going to be accepted in one way or another. 

The best way to grow your business as an introvert is to develop relationships that you feel comfortable with via your preference. So, you're not a phone person right? Me neither. That God for email and DM's!

Have you downloaded my template for tracking your Connections Catalog? It will help you keep track of all of the relationships you want to build and are building. 

I love this type of relationship building because I feel in control and in my zone. As you start building these relationships your confidence in what you do and who you are is only going to increase and who knows, maybe you'll start doing some Instagram stories or going live in your Facebook group! These are big steps for those of us that prefer to hide behind our screen!

As long as you're willing to grow in some way or another a shift will happen. As you keep taking these new and small steps your business will grow. People will start to take notice in what you do more and more because you are portraying yourself in a new light and you're exposing yourself to new audiences that never even knew you existed all from the comfort of your home office/dining room/bedroom/living room. Now how great is that!?

 

 

How to Build Relationships Online

Running your own business from home can seem a bit lonely and isolating at times. I mean, you can only talk with your family and friends about your blog so much...

That's why it's important to build relationships online. Why? Because the connections you make will not only spring into possible friendships, but they could also bring you great exposure to your business.

Think how amazing it would be to have a group of friends know exactly how it feels when you write a kick butt blog post that you can't wait to publish. Think about how amazing it would be to have a group of friends that could talk about what type of landing page software you should use. These are conversations I can't have with my mom or my best friend since kindergarten. And that's okay! That's why we live in the world we do now, where everything is at our fingertips.

Think about the bloggers or business owners you look up to online. Can you really relate to their story? Do you admire their work and secretly wish you could collaborate with them some day on something? Because, that's awesome and totally doable!

Everyone started from scratch just like you. We are all just on a different mile in this journey and it's important for us to stay connected so we can support each other and keep moving forward.

So, how do you reach out to these people you ask? Simple. First download my Connections Catalog for you to keep track of all the amazing relationships you will start cultivating.

You can never think too big on this! Don't be afraid to reach out to something that you think might be totally out of your league! You just never know. 

But, here's what not to do.

You don't to reach out to someone for the first time and ask them to collaborate with you on ANYTHING. Doing this seems pushy and way too rushed. You're building a relationship, so you don't want to start out with asking them to get married. Okay?

Here's what you should do.

After you downloaded the template I made for you, you're going to start adding to it. Make the list as big as you wish. You're going to look online, Instagram, Facebook, Twitter, etc. for influencers that you have some some commonality with. Your audiences should be similar, but you should both have your own area of expertise.

If you do have very similar areas of expertise and you still feel drawn to them then go for it, because down the road there still is a chance for some time of collaboration, so always listen to your gut and dive in.

When you have your list of connections then this is where you start showing your genuine interest.

Ways to show your loyalty:

  • Follow them on all of their social media platforms
  • Like and share their articles
  • Comment on their posts 
  • Tell them how much you enjoy their latest blog post/podcast episode
  • Sign up for their webinars and actively participate 
  • Join their Facebook group
  • Sign up for their email list 
  • Interact with them via email. 

By doing these things, you are showing people that their work matters and that what they do is really helping you and others too. You're making yourself known to them. They might be super busy or they might have a VA handling a certain piece of their business, but if you show up and you're consistent with acknowledging what they do, then they will notice. Trust me. 

Another great way to build relationships online is to form a mastermind.

I really love the concept of masterminds because they can really be what you and the group of people in it want it to be. It does not have to be complicated or cost a ton of money to be a part of one. You can put one together for free via Google Hangouts or Zoom. Put the word out there that you would like to form a mastermind group.

My ideal group would be 4 other women who have families and run their business from home. I would like to have women of different areas of expertise like social media. copy writing, etc. 

Think about your ideal group and who would fall in this space from the list you've been creating. Once you both start to get to know each other you'll find it really easy to ask if they would like move the relationship further/collaborate.

Now that's how you build strong and healthy relationships. 

Change the Way You Feel About Selling

Do you cringe when you get to the "sales" part of a phone call with a potential client? 

Do you feel like your personality switches gears and you become this weird late night infomercial? 

You actually don't have to sell when you're on the phone or sitting down with someone who could potentially pay you. Your goal during that conversation is to get them to ask you one thing, "HOW DO WE GET STARTED?" #bestquestionever So, how does that happen?

It all starts with your mindset.

You will not feed your ego with anxiety and negative thoughts. Your day will begin by you writing down what will happen. Seriously. Write it down.

For example, if you have 3 calls today that could bring in some great client work, you're ready for it, and you're really positive about the experience it will give you then write down, "I will book 3 new clients today over the phone."

You can even get specific and write their names!

Then write down all the clients that you have booked and share your gratitude for them on that same piece of paper. You gotta say thank you!

Think how amazing it will be to book these clients! Think about the feelings and emotions that would go through you and then carry those with you throughout your day. Walk around like you already booked them!

When you get on that call you're going to be so confident, friendly, helpful, knowledgeable, easy to converse with that they will be asking you, "How do we get started?" before you know it!

How to Market Your Business Organically

When your budget is low or basically nothing, it can get a little intimidating when you start thinking about marketing. You feel like you need to become a Facebook ads expert and spend every hard earned penny on them. There's so many other places that are tempting to spend money on advertising too like Google, Instagram, and even Pinterest. Where do you start and where do you stop?

You need to first start from the very beginning. I know, what a concept huh? This is what usually happens: you start a blog, write some posts, pay Facebook to "boost" the posts, and then wonder why no one is coming to your site. 

Or this scenario: you create a digital product or course, buy some Facebook ads, and then the conversion rate totally stinks. 

What the heck huh? Why isn't anyone stopping over and buying? 

Because you completely skipped over a GIGANTIC piece of building yourself up organically.

If you can identify with this then let me ask you this, when you purchased your Facebook ads what type of audience were you paying Facebook to market too? Did you just take a shot in the dark/throw money away? It didn't quite work the way you thought it would right? Know why? I do!

Because they don't know you and they don't know how awesome you are.

You just hopped right out there asking for money before introducing yourself, building a relationship, and cultivating it into something rich and long-lasting.

Do you see where I'm going with this? You are rushing your relationships. You're paying people to like you when you don't even know if you'll be good for each other. You need to go way back and figure out who those people are. How do you do that then? Glad you asked.

Start out by taking a look at the audience that you do have. You know the ones that interact with you via social media, emails, and blog comments. Write down what they all have in common and get to know them.

Here are some other things you could think about and do:

  • ask your biggest interacting readers/communicators if they would like to hop on a call with you so you could pick their brain. Ask them about their biggest pains and struggles and what they wish they could get help with now.
  • take a poll via social media. Maybe you have Facebook group you could ask or inquire on your Facebook page and just ask basic questions about your audience. People love to give information about themselves. This could get some great discussions going.
  • take a look at your most popular blog post. Can you create more blog posts/freebies that bounce off of that post? Can you revive the post to get it more exposure by creating a new content upgrade for it? People are really interested in what you have to say. Don't ignore your greatest hits! Use them!

There are so many ways that you can grow your business organically and I believe that this is the best way to start because you will never really know who needs you unless you get in there, get dirty, and find out for yourself. Then as your business grows, your income will grow and you'll be able to finally start paying for marketing that actually PAYS because you know exactly who they are and what they need from you.

How to Sell More Digital Products

When I first started my online business I admired other bloggers who had a plethora of digital products.  I fantasized about having a product suite that everyone could come to and find something they needed. I wanted to help everyone. I soon found out a few things...

After I spent night and day at the computer for months creating as many digital products as I possibly could I was not only burned out, I was pretty unsuccessful. I had over 6 digital products on my site (that's a lot in this space) and nothing was selling.

All that work. For nothing.

After a while I finally came to my senses and realized a few things and I made some big changes:

  • I took down all of my digital products
  • I narrowed down my focus of expertise
  • I learned how to properly launch a  product
  • I got to know my audience more through list building, holding live workshops, and networking

These were pretty drastic changes for me because I spent so much time creating these products. They were my babies. I had written out the email sequences and everything! 

I was really scared to narrow down my focus too because I thought that would make me sound less knowledgeable. Which is the wrong way to think completely. By narrowing down your focus shows your audience that you know your stuff! I always say, "you're not WalMart. You can't sell everything. 

I then invested in myself and learned how to properly launch a digital product/course. When I first created my products I didn't do a launch whatsoever. I made them, stuck them on my website, and expected the sales to come ringing in. After I learned the proper way to do it that's when things started to change!

List building was the most important piece I incorporated. I started working really hard at providing value, creating blog posts that I knew my audience needed, and started building relationships. 

My list grew fairly quickly and I knew that after a certain number I would officially launch my first course. 

When I finally hit that magic number, which was only 400, I launched my first "real"course, List Building Mania. 50% of my sales came from my email list and the rest came from promoting it on social media for FREE. I didn't sell any by advertising the first week, I just went with my gut and did it the way that I thought best and it worked.

This went against everything I thought I knew when I first started. I launched to small list, I only had one product on my site, and I didn't need to spend a bunch of money advertising. What a relief huh?

So, don't think you have to wait until you have a ton of product ideas, a huge list, and a huge budget to go along with it before you launch your first thing. It simply isn't necessary. The most important thing is to just get it out there and make it amazingly helpful for your customers. 

Why All Makers Need to Have an Email List

All is a strong word, but I really mean it. ALL makers need to have an email list. Last week we talked about email marketing for your handmade shop. And this week we're going to go a bit further into the topic. Why do I think all makers need a list? Let me tell you.

But first, if you haven't downloaded this nifty guide that'll show you how to design your emails with a checklist included click below:

If you're new here, you should know that I'm very big into List Building. So much that I even created a course about it!

I'm so passionate about list building that I've spent the majority of this year talking about it! I want everyone to be building their lists, but I have a soft spot for the handmade/makers/creatives out there. 

I know several creative business owners and I purchase from them as much as I can. With all of the purchases I've made in in the past couple of years I've received 1. Yes 1. Email from a handmade business owner. It just baffles me. 

I purchased multiple things through this shop because of her email marketing. She let me know when she was having sales, surprise discounts for her list only, and she had a blog I could follow.

This type of marketing really put a face behind the business. I felt like I was personally connected to her and I found myself wanting to support her. 

And that's what we all really want right? Support.

You don't have to drown yourself in work and promoting yourself on social media. You can just simply get started and go slow. No need to overwhelm yourself!

Think about your audience and your customers. What kind of information could you provide via email that they would gobble up? In last weeks blog post we talked about marketing and promoting your products, but this week I want you to think about providing value. If you have a blog then you will probably be good at this already. If you don't then think of your email list as your blog audience. Let's say you had an organic skincare line and you want to plan out 4 emails for the next month. Here are some topic ideas:

  1. 10 Ways to Get Super Soft Skin This Summer
  2. How to Protect Your Skin from Sunburn this Summer
  3. 5 Ways to Use Coconut Oil That You've Never Hear of Before
  4. Should You Change Your Skincare Routine Each Season?

I'm not deliberately shoving product in their face. I'm offering value with these posts/emails in hopes that I can build the know/like/trust factor with my readers. 

It's perfectly okay to link up your shop or products in the email, you just don't need to be salesy. 

I recommend sending 2-4 of these each month and keep the day and duration consistent as well. 

Also, don't worry if you don't have all the answers! You can link to other articles that you found helpful and point them in that direction too!  

Email Marketing for Handmade Shops

There are so many handmade shops online. The surprising part about their marketing plan is the majority of them do not do any type of email marketing. They simply rely on social media, new customers, and crossing their fingers on the repeat customer part. They are totally missing out.

I know the biggest reason why handmade business owners shy away from email marketing is time. I totally get it. They're busy creating products, packing them up, shipping, and everything else that comes with it. 

Imagine what your business could do with some email marketing?


Here's a scenario for you:

You start building your list by offering 10% off on their next purchase.

People give you their email address in exchange for 10% off.

They get an email with the special code and BAM they're on your list. (This is just one great way to build your list there are a ton more).

Your list continues to grow and grow.

Now it's time to think about marketing to these lovely people, whether they're customers yet or not.

Create a marketing plan that sends an email out once a week to your list. Your emails can be featuring one product or a collection of products that you are trying to sell at that time. 

The subscribers on your list start to really take notice. They see you so sporadically on social media that they're surprised and happy to hear from you. 

They start to look forward to your weekly emails, open every single one, and then the best thing happens...

THEY CLICK YOUR LINK AND PURCHASE FROM YOU!


So to accomplish this, you would just need to plan 4 emails per month. 4!  How many social media posts do you create a month? Way more than that right? 

Making your emails can be super simple too. Choose a look that reflects your branding, be consistent, and make sure you choose an email service provider that's easy for you to start with if this is new to you. I recommend starting with MailChimp. 

MailChimp has many great templates that you can use to design your emails. You can also use PhotoShop or Canva. I've used them all for myself and for clients. I would say my favorite, like usual, is Canva

What if you're not creative on the computer? No worries! I created a guidebook for you to get inspired and pick a look! So, be sure to download that and start creating and marketing! You will NOT regret it! 

When you get your email list started let me know so I can sign up and check it out!