I used to think I was super productive every day in my business until I realized that no…not so much.
If that sounds confusing, hang in there with me.
I was getting stuff done for sure, just not the right stuff.
I’d start writing a post and get briefly distracted by an email. Then I’d get up, go get a drink, come back, log in to Pinterest, check my feeds, log in to Skype, check my junk mail…
…and back to writing again.
Then a text would come through and I’d get sidetracked. Again.
Being an entrepreneur is tricky business. It’s easy to feel flustered and even a bit scattered. There’s so much we have to do, so many reasons to procrastinate, and tons of shiny bright things to take our attention away from the one thing we should be doing.
Oh, and by the way, how do we even know what that one thing is? How can we tell if what we’re working on right now is a must-do or if we’re just spinning our wheels?
I’ve been spending a lot of time on this and think I finally nailed it…
Here’s a short list of things that have helped me stay laser-focused and finally (finally!) get tons of the right stuff done. I hope they help you increase productivity and rock your To-do list too.
With me? Let’s dig in.
1) Get serious about your biz
I know this for sure. It’s super easy to put something down on paper, up on a wall, in Asana, Evernote, or whatever your project management tool is… then let it slide until the next day.
No big deal if you don’t get to it, right? You just start a new list. At least you’re doing something.
Be honest, how many times have you started to write a post but didn’t finish it? Or it was on your list but somehow you didn’t get to it?
It feels good to see a whole mess of things you have to do…makes you feel proud and accomplished. Look at how busy I am! Kinda reminds me of the way I hang out in my workout gear all day and think about going for a run. 🙂
At some point along your entrepreneurial journey, though, you’ve got to buckle down and start taking your business (and yourself) more seriously.
I know this is true. It happened to me. Just a few months ago, something shifted and I got serious about my business. I stopped making lists, at least for a while. I stopped checking my junk email 10x a day and spending hours on Pinterest.
The only thing I wanted to do was get things done. And I knew exactly what those things were, even without my list!
When your business really, really matters to you, you know what you have to do. It’s crystal freakin’ clear,
Want to schedule social media posts using tools like Buffer, Hootsuite, Edgar, or SmarterQueue, but don’t have the budget (or simply don’t want to pay the fees)? Today I’m sharing an amazing process that will allow you to schedule – and loop – your posts for free.
Even if you use a scheduler and want access to more accounts without having to upgrade, with this method you can schedule social media accounts for free. For instance, my current plan in SmarterQueue allows scheduling to 4 social media sites and I really need 6. What I’m about to show you enables me to schedule and loops posts to my additional accounts for free. Doesn’t get better than that, right?
Here’s what you’ll need for this process to work:
an IFTTT account, which I’ll explain in a minute
a Google Calendar
This quick guide and .csv Auto Post Template, which you can download right here:
Note: This method is best for scheduling posts to Twitter, Facebook, and even LinkedIn. If you need a Pinterest scheduler, Tailwind and BoardBooster are still the best platforms to schedule and loop your pins.
Related: 14 Ways to Get Massive Traffic from Pinterest
What is IFTTT?
With IFTTT you can connect apps, devices and services like Feedly, Buffer, Twitter, Hootsuite, Youtube, and many others, and then create “applets”, which are really actions triggered by events defined in the connected services.
IFTTT stands for “If This, Then That”. What this really means is that if “this” event happens on Service #1, “that” event happens on Service #2. As an example, I use IFTTT to connect my favorite RSS feeds to my Buffer account so that when a new post is published to a particular feed IFTTT adds it to my Twitter Buffer queue. Pretty cool, huh?
What I love so much about this new IFTTT trick is that you can set it up to post directly to a Twitter profile or Facebook page, and it’s absolutely free.
Here are the steps to schedule and loop your posts with IFTTT and Google Calendar:
If you’re rather read than watch the video, I’ll do my best to outline the steps for you. I’m using Twitter as an example in this post, but you can just as easily do the same thing for Facebook.
Step 1: IFTTT
Create an account on IFTTT. Then select New Applet from the dropdown menu in the upper right. This is what you’ll see:
Select the “+this” link. On the next screen you want to choose Google Calendar as your trigger source and then select the “Event from search starts” box.
Next, enter the keyword “#twitter” and select the Create Trigger button. In this example, we’re using Google Calendar to schedule tweets, so this applet will fire whenever it sees the #twitter hashtag on a calendar event. If you’re scheduling Facebook posts, the keyword would be #facebook.
I confess! I had no idea what blogger plugins were when I created my first site. I only knew I needed them.
Blogger plugins are software “snippets” that add additional functionality and features to your WordPress website. You need them too! They will make your blogging life so much easier and help you build an audience that much faster.
Here are some of the features you can add with plugins:
Social media share links
and tons more…
There are literally tons and tons of blogger plugins to choose from. So how do you know which ones you really need?
Today I’m sharing some of the plugins I have installed on my blog. Some I use for SEO, some for social media, some are more administrative, and others are for email list building. These are grouped in order of priority (what to install first, what to install next), and I’m hoping that a few of these will be useful for your blog too.
INSTALL THESE BLOGGER PLUGINS FIRST:
USE TO: BLOCK COMMENT SPAM
You get so excited when you see 25 comments on our dashboard, but then find that 95% of those are spam. Bleh, who has time for that? You don’t! Time to shut down spam comments before they happen.
Spam is such a huge issue for WordPress sites that each install actually comes with a spam filter plugin called Akismet. I’ve never used it, though, because the set up seemed like too much work. Plus, I’ve heard that the filtering can be too aggressive, meaning that it will block valid comments as spam so you won’t have a chance to see real, true reader comments.
WP-SpamShack is very effective and easy to use. Just activate it and you’re good to go. What can be easier than that?
USE TO: HELP SEARCH ENGINES FIND YOUR CONTENT
WordPress is by default a search engine-friendly platform. But you’ll need the help of Yoast SEO to optimize your site even more for search engines. I use it on every one of my posts. If you want to make it easy for people to find your work on Google, you need to use it too!
Yoast SEO will analyze your posts and give you a checklist for headings, content, post title, description, and images and even URLs to make sure that everything on your page is optimized for any keyword you choose. It does a whole bunch of other things too, like Facebook OpenGraph data and XML sitemap generator.
Just download it and play around with it a bit!
USE TO: CREATE CONTACT FORMS
Do you even need contact forms anymore? Not many people actually use them, but I like knowing that my audience can reach me easily. Anything that gives readers a channel to get in touch with you is a good thing, so why not include?
I actually prefer Contact
Color is such a huge part of how we experience the world. Everything in our world is made up of different colors. Some inspire and excite us and others can make us feel a bit down.
What does that mean for your website and brand? I think one of the hardest things with color is knowing how to apply it so that your brand stands out without being a freak show of colors. There are so many sites where you can get ideas for color palettes, but then what do you do with them?
I put together this quick guide and free printable color scheme kit that will help you choose (and apply) your brand colors with intention and purpose.
Choose a primary color
The first thing to do if you want to build an epic brand (and of course you do!) is to identify your brand tone. This really means deciding how you want your brand to look, feel, and sound to people.
Once you’ve done that, simply assign a color that matches your brand’s tone. Whichever color you choose will become your brand’s primary color. To help you decide, here’s a list of some colors and the moods they evoke:
Beige: neutral, picks up traits of surrounding colors
Ivory: neutral, clean, simple, easy
Red gets more clicks
You know how a red top makes your shoulders look bigger and a pair of black pants makes your hips look smaller? Color has a lot to do with our visual perceptions of size.
If you play with color like this you can make certain elements stand out and grab people’s attention, even when they’re smaller.
Red and orange are like this – they get noticed online. They’re “action” colors. They look bigger than they are and grab your attention pretty quickly. People want to click on red and orange.
Just look at your Pinterest feed. Which color stands out to you the most?
Turn your primary color into an action color
Ok, so red stands out more. But what if red or orange doesn’t match your brand personality? Let’s say your primary color is blue. You can still make it stand out so people notice and click it. You just have to be more careful with how you apply it.
When you look at this shopping list, which word do you remember?
Pineapple, right? This sounds pretty obvious, but when you have the same colors on a page and then one that’s different, that element is going to stand out more. This is called the “isolation effect”.
It’s official. I’m a Pinterest junkie.
It’s become my #1 source of traffic – over Stumbleupon, Twitter and Reddit. So for the next few months my goal is to double down and see if I can boost my traffic even more.
I’ve been a bit of a slacker when it comes to scheduling my own content. I just don’t have the time! Yes, you say, but it only takes 15 minutes or so each day. That’s what you think until you go on Pinterest and see all the beautiful content, and then it’s 2 hours later and you haven’t started the blog post that’s due, like, today. I know this is true. It’s happened to me. Alot.
So I decided to stay away from Pinterest and all those addictive pins. But alas, that didn’t work either! My traffic dipped and – bottom line, I needed to get better at scheduling my own pins.
If you’re experiencing the same thing, today I’m sharing a tip that will help reduce your social media time and boost your traffic significantly using Tailwind’s scheduling and looping feature. USING TAILWIND TO SCHEDULE YOUR PINS
With Tailwind’s regular scheduling, the pins you share will be sent in sequence. So let’s say you pin something to five of your group boards. It will go out to each board, one after the other, according to the timeslots you have set up there.
But if you pin them this way, you might start to look a little spammy. Your peeps may be following you on more than one board and you don’t want it to look like you sent out your pin to all of them on the same day. Plus, your preset time slots may conflict with the rules of a particular group board and have you pinning more than once per day in the same group. This could put you over the daily pin limit on a specific board and get you banned (which is what happened in my case).
Yes, you can go in to Tailwind’s queue and manually shuffle your pins to avoid looking spammy. Trust me, this takes a huge amount of time. I’ve done it, I know.
With looping, you can automate your pins without making it look like you’re automating them, if that makes sense. Setting up board lists with interval delays lets you stagger your pins so that one goes out to each of your boards in a day, then the next pin goes out to your boards the next day, and so on.
It’s not exactly like looping your pins in Board Booster, but it still saves you tons of time because you can loop your pins for an entire week and then you’re done. And with your pins going out to all of your boards like clockwork, you’re going to see a huge increase
It drives massive traffic to my site, easily OVER 60% of my total traffic
It’s fun to be on and look through all the beautiful images
I find great content to share
Unlike Twitter and Facebook where your post has a short shelf life, pins take on a life of their own as more and more people repin your content
So let’s jump into how to drive tons of traffic with Pinterest! SETTING UP YOUR PINTEREST PLATFORM
As with most things, getting results starts with a strong platform for growth. There are some things you want to do before you get going on Pinterest, like set up your account, boards and pins the right way.
1) Create a business account
If you have a personal account, turn it into a business account. This will give you access to analytics so you can see which pins are getting the most repins, comments and likes.
2) Tailor your profile to attract your target audience
Whether you have 100 followers or 5,000, there are probably tons of people who see your profile each month. You want to make sure it’s targeted to the right people so they stick around once they find you, right?
Include a friendly photo that reflects your brand and a brief bio that explains what you do and how you help. Tip: keep the focus of your bio description on your target audience and not you! Check out this post if you need help crafting a killer message.
If you’re featuring a course or a freebie, this is a great place to include it. Take a look at Sarah Morgan’s Pinterest bio:
3) Create boards that are relevant to your audience
To rock this strategy you want to have at least 10 boards that your readers would be looking for.
You probably have “categories” for your blog, right? Your Pinterest boards are kind of like that. Create different boards for each category or subtopic around your niche. This makes it easy for your readers to find the boards that interest them without having to sift through irrelevant pins and boards.
I like to name my boards in terms of what my readers want to achieve, such as “Start a Blog” or “Grow a Blog”.
While you’re here, delete any boards that don’t fit with your brand, personality or niche.
Note: When you delete a board, you will lose the people who are only following that one specific board. Don’t worry, though! It’s perfectly okay to lose followers who aren’t interested in your main message. By narrowing your focus, you’re going to attract more of the right followers and that’s what you want.
Ok, I know I just said to delete boards that aren’t relevant to your blog’s focus, but…
It’s okay to include others as long as you keep your most relevant boards higher up on the page
I get it. And I’m sure you get it too. How important it is to really know your brand on a deep level. Things like:
What you stand for
Who you’re writing for
How you want people to talk about your brand
What your mission is
So. What’s next? What do we do with everything we know? I think maybe first, we should step back and take a minute to realize how incredibly amazing it is that we have the power to definehow people experience our brands. And that the only thing that stands in between us knowing our brand and our peeps knowing our brand is…
…how well we communicate it to them.
That’s where having a brand style guide can help. A brand style guide is a document that will help you build your blog brand by being consistent, cohesive and harmonious with all of your important elements. It covers how you plan to treat things such as fonts, colors, images, icons, tone, messaging, and more. As I mention in this post, a style guide will save you time because you won’t have to stop and think about how to design your Instagram image or how to format your next blog post. And it will make it easy for people to recognize your brand online.
Before we dig in to how to create a brand style guide, I have to say one more thing because this is so very important and I don’t want to forget.
Let go of being perfect
Creating a style guide template is usually one of the last things I do when I launch a blog or a business. Why, you ask? Because I know me. I can get pulled into a design rabbit hole really, really quickly. I’m the world’s biggest perfectionist and I can get hung up on every last detail, the kinds of things others don’t even see. I’m a Virgo and that’s what we do, right?
The practical, business side of me doesn’t like falling into rabbit holes. That’s why I wait to create a style guide template for my blog until I have more information. There’s a lot that can happen in a year, especially if it’s your first:
Your audience can change
Your vision can change
Your products can change
Your tone can change
So here’s the big question:
Do you need a brand style guide now or can it wait?
The short answer is Yes, you need one now. As I mentioned, it will save you time. But…
…how much time you spend creating it should be directly related to how long you’ve been in business. If you’re just starting out, don’t spend a ton of time on a style guide. It’s too early in the game for a deep dive. Give yourself a certain amount of time each day or each week, depending on your schedule. Building a blog
OMG!?!! What’s wrong with me! I’ve GOT to move on, I mean, it’s just a name. It should be so simple and I can’t figure it out. How am I ever going to be successful if I can’t past this?
Ughhh, that was me trying to choose names for my first few businesses. I just couldn’t figure out whether I should name them something creative and catchy or name them after myself. By the time I launched my clothing line biz I was so exhausted with the topic of names altogether, I thought I’m going to pick any name and just get out there with it. This naming thing had me tripped up and I so desperately needed to move on!
If you’re stumped with what to name your blog or business like I was, or have been putting your biz entirely on hold simply because you don’t know what to call it, I put together this list of tips and strategies that will help you choose a name for your blog with ease so you can unleash all your great ideas!
1) First, try not to stress
Don’t let your name make you loony the way mine did! Your brand name is a big deal and not a big deal at the same time. Let me explain. I know you want to find your dream name, that perfect name that rolls off your tongue and captures everything about you, your brand, and your audience. That’s the holy grail of names, right? But what’s even more important is what your brand stands for. People are going to care less about your name than you think (trust me!) and care a whole lot more about your why, your mission, your values, and your vision. Those are the things that actually define your brand, not the other way around. It all starts with the You in your brand. Your name, tagline, logo, colors – all of that is pretty packaging for your brand. You may think there’s some better name out there, and truly, there may be. You can always change your name when your brand becomes hugely successful, and you know it will!
2) Give yourself a time frame
This is absolutely key, because you can easily fall into a rabbit hole and wind up putting off all your great ideas, simply because you can’t decide on a name. Get in the habit of working within a deadline and then try hard to hold yourself to it. If you feel like you’re close to deciding or maybe you’ve narrowed it down to two or three names and you’re almost there, bravo! Why not give yourself until the end of the week and then call it? If you need more time to discover what your brand is about, that’s okay too. It’s just important
Choosing your blog’s niche and focus is one of the easiest ways to grow your audience and sometimes the hardest thing to figure out.
If it’s super early in your blog-as-a-biz journey, you may be struggling with this right now. I know I did! I felt incredibly flustered and my mind was spinning with all of my interests and big ideas for my blog.
I’d spend hours on Google hunting for an answer to point me in the right direction. Expert #1 would say to look at the money first and Expert #2 would say to blog about something I loved.
I had a huge list with “Pros” and “Cons” for each of my ideas. I even walked away from my ideas thinking that would bring me clarity, but alas, I was stumped!
I finally picked one (or two, actually – fashion design and music production). And after about 10-15 posts on each, I was completely out of ideas! I thought How could that be? My two biggest passions and I’m fresh out of ideas already!?!!
It made me realize that some of the ideas I had for my blog weren’t blog niche ideas at all, they were ideas I had about myself. Ideas about the person I thought I was supposed to be. Ideas about what I was supposed to excel at. And secretly I was hunting for a guarantee that they were winners (I drove myself crazy tracking monthly search volumes and competition for my ideas), because that would mean I was a winner too.
It wasn’t until I let go of those ideas that I was able to discover my true passion and blog’s niche. I’m sharing this because I think we all have internal voices we battle around shining our light for the world to see. It’s a scary thing to do, I know. In this post, let me hold your hand and share some tips to help you discover what truly inspires you in life (and in business) and to celebrate your blog’s niche.
I’ve also created a Blog Niche Workbook which I’m hoping will help you find the sweet spot for your blog too. You can download it here.
Let’s dig in!
First, start with what you love
This should be a no-brainer, right? You have to really love what you’re writing about in order to keep doing it after six months or a year. You should wake up dreaming about it, spend every minute thinking about it, and have at least five post ideas you can’t wait to write. When you have this kind of energy on your topic, it’s a win-win! You will love writing your posts, and the readers you most want to connect with will pick up on your enthusiasm and love seeing your posts. Writing about something that interests you will also make you write longer content, which tends to rank higher and get more
If you’re like me, at some point in your entrepreneurial journey you’ve asked: Which tools and resources do I really need for my online business?
There’s a tendency to invest in more than what we need, simply because we’re trying to get to the bottom of things and figure it all out. What happens next is all that “over-purchasing” starts to get you stressed out on a whole other level, am I right? You’ve got all of these tools and no idea how or when to use them.
In this post I’m sharing must have online business tools that will help you scale your business without pulling your hair out! I get into more detail about some of the tools in this post, but today I want to break it down into 3 different stages for your business.
The Early Years – Building Your Platform
These are the years of major overwhelm and uncertainty. You have ideas about what to do and are battling with a little bit of fear about whether it will all work out. You’re probably unsure about which tools you need right now. And you’re on a tight budget so you don’t want to overthink what you need.
Let me help. At this stage your focus should be on building a platform for your business and getting it ready for serious take-off.
The tools you need right now are ones that will help you:
Optimize your website for gathering leads, because your website is the hub of your marketing
Create consistent content, because content is the cornerstone of your business
Build your email list, because, well, it’s is a must-have and you need it
This might seem like the most basic step to take, but many people don’t have a website yet.
Your website is the #1 must have online business tool. It’s the soul of your business and the cornerstone of your brand and all of your marketing. It’s where you:
Show the world what you sell, your mission, and what you stand for.
Drive traffic and start building real relationships with your visitors
Build your mailing lists (a must-have for every online business!)
Gain clarity on your business model and your message
Have I sold you yet? I hope so, friend! Your website is seriously the Swiss Army knife of your online business.
I recommend WordPress and Bluehost for hosting. It’s affordable and you can always get reach tech support, which is a huge deal when your site breaks and you need to fix it, like, now!
You need a way to collect names and emails for your content. That’s where landing pages come in. Landing pages are different from other web pages in that their goal is to do one thing: gather names and emails.
Leadpages is pretty much the go-to for landing pages. You can choose from hundreds of high-converting templates from their