Entries by Sandra Clayton

Social Media Cheat Sheet + Content Calendar for Biz Owners and Bloggers

If you want to use social media to grow your business, but are a bit stumped with what to do, this social media cheat sheet is for you! It will help you plan out your content so you know what to post, when to post, and how to post it. You’ll be on your way to blowing up on social media instead of feeling overwhelmed! I could have made this 30 days but actually you don’t need it – just repeat it all over again on Day 25.
Follow these simple tips and download the social media cheat sheet  for massive growth:

  • Share other people’s content and your own. Plan it all out and write it all down.
  • Part of feeling overwhelmed is when you plan out more than what you can actually do because it looks great on paper! If you can share your own content once every two weeks, just fill in with more quotes, announcements, roundups, and other people’s content to give yourself some breathing room. When you have more time, you can share more of our original stuff.
  • Pre-schedule your posts with services like Buffer, Hootsuite or Tailwind. This will save you tons of time!!
  • Be visual. Visual content is 40x more likely to get shared than other types of content. Use Canva to create appealing graphics and title images for your posts. Remember to brand each image with your logo!
  • As you build a following and engage with people, you’ll see a boost in traffic to your blog. Make sure your posts encourage people to sign up for your newsletter or opt in to a freebie so you can leverage the traffic to build a mailing list.
  • Study the things that other brands are doing to build their following and do that too.  Monitor everything after the first month to see what’s performing well. Then do more of it!
  • Click on the image below to download your cheat sheet and calendar.


    Let me know how you make out with this! Did I miss anything, anything else I need to add to help you save time?


    Sections of A Business Plan For Creatives

    This blog post is about how to write a business plan for your blog or small business. And of course, why you need one and HOW to create one that you will actually follow and use to achieve your goals.
    A business plan is important because it gives you a road map for your business, so that you know exactly what to do and where you’re going. I waited two years to write one and definitely wish I had done it sooner.
    Here’s why they’re important:

    • They help you visualize your future business. It’s kind of like writing a script for a third act in a play, and your business is the star. What role do you want it to play?
    • Validate your concept
    • Set realistic expectations about your resources and your budget
    • Give you a clear picture of how you will market your business and get to the next level
    • See the exact steps you need to take in your business so you can accomplish your goals
    • Foresee future challenges so that you can plan ahead for them
    • Develop repeatable processes for your business and your brand
    • Set a benchmark to analyze and evaluate your growth
    • See gaps in your business model and refine your strategy

    There’s a lot in this list and it may seem overwhelming at first and that’s okay. Take your time as you go through each step and have fun with it.
    What I do when I write a business plan is give myself a time frame to work on it, and what gets done is what gets done. Kind of like saying This window is open right now. At 5pm it’s going to shut and it’s not going to open again. Great way to make sure you don’t get stuck in planning mode too long. The thing that will stop you from achieving success faster than anything else is NOT STARTING, so give yourself a cut-off to get it done and move on.
    Here are the steps to write a business plan:

    1) Create a document for your business plan.

    A business plan is a fluid thing, so the first thing you want to do is to create a document in your favorite computer program. Two important things to point out here:

  • You want that you can modify the document throughout the year as you learn more about your biz, your goals, and your audience. You’re going to view your business plan every 3 months, because that’s how you’re going to work your goals and track your progress. So every 3 months you’re editing, tweaking, and updating your goals and steps.
  • You definitely want to keep the doc somewhere you can easily get to it, like Evernote or Google Docs. Don’t tuck it away where you can’t find it again!
  • To make it extra easy for you, I’ve created a business plan template you can customize for your

    The Newbie Biz Owner’s Guide to Success

    How can I market my business?
    This is the #1 question people ask me all the time. And I know what you’re really asking is: How can I set myself up for long term success with my business?
    Before I get to the answer, everyone’s business is different, and how you market yours will depend on things like:

    • Your industry
    • Your business model (product vs service, online vs local)
    • Your budget + resources (4-person team vs solopreneur)

    Having said that, there’s no line in the sand when it comes to marketing. Whether you’re just starting out or have been in business for a while, some or all of your marketing today will be done online.
    And even when you’ve been at it for years, things in your business today probably look much different than yesterday (maybe it’s time to branch out into a new market or launch a new product?).
    There’s just no one-size-fits-all with marketing. How you market an online business looks different than a local business, how you market a restaurant is different than how you market a construction company, and how you market a web design company is different than how you market a retail or ecommerce business. Each one requires a slightly different strategy.
    Related: 100+ Ways to Market Your Business on a Small Budget
    So, back to the question How do you set your business up for long-term success?
    Here’s what I think: you need a two-phase plan.
    Phase one: for the now
    Phase two: for the long term
    This two-phase idea is from Amy Porterfield and I love it because it makes things so clear. You need a strategy to get business today and you need a long term strategy for growth.
    I was so inspired by the concept of the phases that I flipped open my laptop and started writing! So in this post I’m sharing what I’ve learned over the years. Phase one includes tactics to set yourself up for success in phase two, plus gives you the quick wins and cash flow you need today:


    1) Lay a solid brand foundation

    Marketing really starts with a strong brand position, so this is the best place to start. Identify your “One Thing”: the one person that reflects your highly profitable customer; the one problem they have; the one solution you provide; your one offer that packages up your solution.
    Use that to create a buyer persona (aka customer avatar). Dive into their goals, aspirations, and challenges, and really what you’re going for is to get inside their conversations, so that you can start hitting them with the conversations they’re already having and become the go-to for their solution. This is the basis of your future marketing.

    2) Local networking

    Nothing beats face-to-face marketing, even though your reach will be smaller than online. Offer to speak to local businesses, organizations and professional groups relevant to your niche.

    How to Get 2,000 Twitter Followers in 2 Months (and 17K in 8 Months)

    If you’re a ninja Twitter user, 2,000 followers isn’t going to impress you, I know. But after staring at my account with 65 Twitter followers for a year, it’s a pretty huge milestone for me.
    I just couldn’t take the barren wasteland of followers and decided it was time to ramp up my Twitter game. And over 2 months later, I’ve added over 1,900 new Twitter followers to my account. And I’ve done this by sharing other people’s content, and just a few of my own original posts.
    These are the three strategies I came up with to boost the number of Twitter followers and engagement.
    Update: It’s been 8 months since I originally wrote this and I now have close to 18K followers, using these same strategies.

    1) Adopt a Twitter mindset

    Twitter is all about real-time conversations. And they’re short conversations. You’ve only got 140 characters to say what you want to say, and that character limit includes hashtags and links. The lifespan of tweets is about a millisecond.
    So you really have to adopt a Twitter mindset of following, tweeting, retweeting and messaging frequently. And understand that magic’s not going to happen overnight.
    If that all sounds daunting, trust me, I know.
    I mean, what are you supposed to do with Twitter? When I first created my Twitter account, I had no idea what to do first. I’d log in every week or so, search for some people to follow and try to figure out what the fuss was with #hashtags. That was pretty much it, and that got me to about 65 followers.
    Getting from 65 to 100 was hard. I simply lost my enthusiasm and couldn’t figure out a better strategy, so I stopped logging in once a week. A month or two later I finally logged back in and noticed that my number of followers had dropped off.
    So what should you do?
    The takeaway is that there’s a Twitter “code.” You have to show up and engage in order to even maintain your current followers, let alone try to get new followers.
    Start by setting aside a few minutes each day for Twitter. Enter keywords and hashtags that are relevant to your industry and your target market to find people you’d like to follow. Try to follow 10 to 20 people each day and watch your numbers grow as people follow you back.
    Once you hit 100 Twitter followers, it will be easier to get the next 100, and so on.

    2) Tweet frequently

    Because Twitter conversations are happening in real time, you need to post more frequently than on Facebook and LinkedIn if you want to grow your follower base.
    Up to about 300 followers, I’d tweet four or fives each day, excluding weekends.
    On my quest for the perfect Twitter strategy, I noticed that some people I followed were tweeting every half

    How To Create a Content Strategy That Works for Your Blog

    When you’re just getting started with blogging, probably the most important thing you can do is just start.
    Start writing.
    Start publishing.
    Start sharing.
    It can be challenging enough to get into the routine of it all. And you push yourself because you know there are many reasons you want to be blogging. Here’s just a few:

    • It can generate a huge amount of traffic to your business
    • It can help you become an influencer, with the right network
    • It can seriously boost your income and revenue

    So with all that it can do for your business, why does it feel like you get sucked you into a rabbit hole every time you sit down to write? Where’s the real payoff?
    The thing is this: without a strategy in place for your content, blogging can seem like a waste of time.
    The good news is that it’s pretty easy to put a well-crafted content and social media strategy in place for your blog. Especially once you’ve written your first few posts.
    In this post I’m going to explain why you need a content strategy for your blog, and simple ways to create one that works for your business:

    1) Content is the New SEO

    SEO, social media and content go hand in hand nowadays. You really can’t talk about one without talking about the other. Here’s why:

    • Google continues to change its ranking algorithms in favor of valuable content that provides a great user experience, so black-hat SEO tactics like keyword stuffing and hidden text doesn’t work today. Instead, search engines look at the relevance and popularity of your content as primary ranking factors.
    • Traffic from search engines isn’t the only way to generate a huge audience, which is where social media comes in. As a blogger and publisher, it’s amazing how you can leverage social media platforms to help people find your content and drive targeted traffic to your business.

    The one thing that SEO and social media has in common is content. You need content for your keywords and search engines, and you need content for people on social media.
    Content is the vehicle, and social media is the medium.

    2) Content is How We Do Business

    Consumer expectations are what’s really driving content marketing.
    You can see the demand for content everywhere…trains, sidewalks, cafes, restaurants, nail salons, hair salons, parks, bus stops, the list goes on. Everywhere you go, people are buried in their phones and devices either on Facebook, Pinterest, or Google hunting for something they need.
    They want access to the information they need, whenever they need it.
    All of this means that as a blogger and business owner, you have to feed this “research-and-validate” mentality. The way to do that is by creating and publishing original content.
    Content is how people do business. And it’s how people will find your blog.

    3) Content Is Here to Stay

    We’ve become a social world and that’s

    Blog Post Checklist: 14 Things to Do Before You Hit Publish

    So you’ve got your blog up and running and you’re posting on the regular. High five!! Today I have a blog post checklist to help you step up your game even more to get traffic to it (and leads from it!)
    In this blog post, I share 14 things you should do before you publish each post.
    Well, maybe not before every post. If you’ve got a flow going with your writing, you can always go back through the list after you publish and update it. I like to work in batches of five, where I publish five posts and then tweak them using the checklist.
    It may seem like a lot to do, but once you get into a workflow it gets a lot easier and quicker. And when you put so much heart and soul into writing your post, it makes sense to give it the best shot you can to rank higher on Google, get more shares, and build your list.

    Step#1: Write a catchy title

    You’ve probably heard this a hundred times, and it’s true. A catchy title is key to getting people to read your post. It’s your ticket to more traffic and more subscribers.
    A persuasive and descriptive title will grab people’s attention better than one that’s “fuzzy”. People are busy and will only commit to a click if they know what’s in it for them. The descriptive keywords are also great for search engines. You’ll get a boost in rankings just by including keywords in your title and in other places throughout your post, which I’ll get into later.
    I know the posts I’ve written with “meh” titles don’t get nearly as many opens as catchier ones.
    Here’s an example of a so-so title: “How to Double Your Blog Conversion Rates”
    This title is just hard to digest. First, you have to think about what “conversion rate” means. Then you have to figure out what it has to do with blogging. All of that thinking just hurts.
    Here’s a better title: “How Songwriting Helped Me Grow My Blog (Plus 10 Tips for New Bloggers)”
    The second is better because:

    • It’s highly targeted and direct. The title speaks directly to my audience.
    • It creates a curiosity gap. I want to know what songwriting has to do with blogging. It just sounds interesting.
    • It’s keyword-rich. It includes important terms that people might type into Google to find your post (grow your blog, new bloggers).

    Step #2: Make sure it’s easy to read

    Every time I read a post that’s like a chapter in a book, I think “time suck”.
    Here’s the thing:
    People on the web are looking for something and they’re going to scan your post to see if you’ve got it. Then they’re going to read the text. So you have to break your text up into sections that are easy to read.
    Here’s how you

    How to Use Facebook Contests to Generate Qualified Leads

    Facebook contests can help you generate qualified leads, and if done right can be a source of business for your sales funnel. They’re also a great way to create a buzz about your products and services and encourage people to become more invested in your brand.
    As with all marketing, relevance and emotion play crucial roles to your success. It’s all about qualified subscribers rather than empty leads: you’ll have to weed out everyone else and appeal only to your ideal prospect. To do that, you need to create a visually engaging campaign and offer a prize specifically relevant to your business and your target audience.
    Here are 6 steps to running Facebook contests that generate qualified leads:

    Map out a plan

    Having a solid plan for your Facebook contest will help you follow through and stay on track. What’s the intended outcome for your contest? Do you only want to grow your mailing list, or is increasing your fan base also important? Who is your target audience and what types of prizes will appeal to them? What incentive will you provide to encourage participation? Having your goals in mind when you start your contest will keep you focused and give you the best results.

    Pick something to give away

    This is where you let fans know why they should enter the contest. You need an exciting prize to generate the feedback you want. Understanding both your business and your audience is the best way to pick an appropriate prize. Prizes should be both relevant to your business and exciting enough to generate interest from your fan base.
    You can consider offering your service or product as the prize, but tread with caution here. If you’re an accountant, it may not be very enticing to offer a free consultation. You just won’t generate the interest you need, especially if you have a small fan page to begin with. A sporting store, on the other hand, would do well to offer fans free hiking gear. This type of prize is both relevant and exciting.
    In the example of the accountant, it may be better to offer a day at a local golf club. This is a win-win. It offers something exciting and targets your ideal prospect. Remember to think about your audience first, and be creative.
    What you don’t want to do is offer a generic price, like a new iPhone. This will generate the wrong type of interest and you’ll wind up with fake fans and empty leads. Keep the prize relevant to your business.

    Create your ad

    You can create your ad two ways. You can run a simple timeline contest by posting a status update in your news feed. This is ideal for business owners who don’t have time to create a page app or design graphics for a landing page. In this case

    13 Steps To a Powerful LinkedIn Profile That Generates Leads

    When you compare social media sites, Facebook and Twitter get a lot of hype. Every one seems to want more fans and followers. Facebook and Twitter can certainly boost awareness of your company and establish credibility, but when you need to measure ROI in sales and leads instead of likes and shares, you may want to consider focusing more of your efforts on LinkedIn, starting with your LinkedIn profile.
    What gives LinkedIn the edge over Facebook and Twitter is its direct access to C-suite executives. As of April 2016, LinkedIn had 433 million users, with an estimated 128 million in the US alone. Many LinkedIn members don’t even have Facebook or Twitter accounts. This means that LinkedIn is your only way to reach them via social media.
    There are over 1 billion searches per day for names and companies on LinkedIn. This gives you a real opportunity to build your business reputation, expand your professional network, and generate leads and sales.
    If you think of your LinkedIn profile as a one-page website, your first impression is crucial. With so many people fighting for attention, your ability to convince and convert potential customers can mean the difference between creating a lasting impression or creating no impression.
    Below are 13 tips to creating a powerful LinkedIn profile. Before you dig in, keep in mind that LinkedIn profiles are pretty extensive with sections for Summary, Experience, Education, Publications, and more. There are no short one or two sentence descriptions.
    It’s going to take some time to optimize your profile, and it certainly doesn’t need to happen in one sitting. Take your time, go through each section and gather the information and materials you need. You’ll be rewarded with more connections, increased visibility, and more leads and sales.
    All of the items listed here can be edited by simply mousing over elements of your profile and clicking on the pencil icon that appears.

    Use a current profile image

    Profiles with pics get an 11x increase in profile views. If you don’t have a high quality professional picture, get one taken as soon as you can. LinkedIn is all about the art of social selling, with “social” being the operative word. When I visit a LinkedIn profile without a pic, my first thought is that this is an inactive user. I’m also a bit frustrated, because I want to make an emotional connection and without a pic I can’t. I also don’t feel compelled to scroll the profile to find out more. To me, it means the person is too busy, uninterested or just plain boring to warrant more of my time.

    Let people know what you do

    Your professional headline is one of the first things people see when they land on your profile, right under your name next to your profile image. Give careful consideration to the title

    What to Do When You Don’t Know What to Do Next (For Your Blog or Business)

    Knowing what to do next for your blog or business can be hard. There’s so much to do and only you or your team of two to do it.
    There are plenty of experts who can help. The problem is that Expert 1 will tell you to do this and Expert 2 will tell you to do that. And when you search Google for guides and tutorials to help, somehow you wind up feeling even more overwhelmed than you were before.
    There’s no way you can do it all at once.
    And you know what? That’s you’re answer right there.
    When I started my design business a few years ago, one of the first things I did was to create a list of everything I wanted to achieve over a 6-month period. Then I put my To-dos onto a spreadsheet with columns for January through May.

    Here’s what my goals looked liked:


    • get one $20K client
    • write 4 blog posts
    • launch a webinar
    • create an ebook
    • create an online course
    • contact organizations for speaking engagements
    • create a presentation
    • Create a newsletter

    …And even more stuff.
    This is all great, and it definitely got me going in the right direction. But see the problem here? It’s completely unrealistic, especially given the fact that I was just starting out. I had never written a blog post, didn’t even have a topic for a webinar (forget about knowing how to create one!), and I had absolutely no idea how I was going to land a big client. Plus, I was clueless when it came to ebooks and guides.
    It was too much. I actually stopped referring to my spreadsheet because February, March and April had the same exact goals as January. By trying to accomplish everything at once like this, I wound up with the same goals rolling over to the next month.
    I couldn’t achieve any one of the goals on my list. And more importantly, I didn’t know HOW to achieve them.
    I kept staring at my list thinking, “Ok, I want to get a big client, start a blog, do a webinar, create an abook. Now what? Where’s the big client coming from? How’s the webinar coming together? No idea…”
    Then one day I realized that I was tracking the wrong goals. Even though writing down “get one big client” looked great on paper, it was a completely empty goal. And believe me, I worked at getting that client every day! I sent emails, reached out to subscribers, called friends and family, sent connection requests. I knew I was getting close, but something was off.
    I decided to break everything down into simple steps. I needed an action plan.

    Here’s what finally worked

    I picked just two of the goals to drill down on (get a big client and start a blog). Then I broke the two goals down into smaller tasks and created milestones for each of them. For the client

    100+ Ways to Market Your Business On a Small Budget

    There’s no question about it. Whether you’re just starting out or have been in business for a while, marketing can be intimidating.
    What do you do first? How do you know what will work for your business? What steps should you take? I hear questions like these all the time, and I get it.
    Marketing can seem like a moving target, especially when the way you approach it today is much different than yesterday and probably won’t look the same tomorrow. Just keeping up with the changes can seem like a full-time job.
    And yet, what matters even more than HOW you get the word out about your business is your mindset when it comes to marketing.
    Here’s how to think about it:

    • Pick one technique and follow through with it. Don’t try to do everything at once.
    • Use a tiny budget and test things out one at a time, then create a larger campaign around what works.
    • Don’t try to be all things to all people. Focus on finding the one perfect customer out there you were born to serve.

    Now that you have the right marketing mindset, I want to share with you some ways to market your business, both online and offline. These ideas work for any business type, just keep in mind that the best techniques for a start-up may look different from those for an established business.
    Use these 100+ marketing ideas as inspiration for your business. I’ve tried to group them so you can pick what makes sense based on where you’re at in your business. Some of these you may have tried, some may be new, and others may not feel right for you and that’s okay. There are plenty of ideas to choose from, so pick a few, test them out and tweak as you see fit.




  • Create a website. A simple one-page site or even a landing page will do the trick. It doesn’t have to be elaborate or take months to build. You just need a hub to drive traffic to. Tip: Use Wix or Squarespace if you don’t have the budget for a designer.
  • Create a Facebook page. Keep fans engaged and get a bump in engagement with helpful and inspiring posts around your business.
  • Create a LinkedIn profile. Treat it like your own personal website page so that people know exactly what you do and how it can benefit them. Add in keywords so that you show up during searches. Need some help? Check out this post for how to supercharge your profile.
  • Create a Twitter account. Include a link to