How to Design a Super Simple Productive Week Without a To-Do List


The other day I reached for my notebook and realized. Something. Big:

I’m 100% notes-free, yo.

I don’t write things down anymore. I don’t scribble frantically the way I used to. And I don’t make to-do lists.

Seriously?!? No more lists?

Weekly planner printable and tips to help you increase productivityYep. It happened organically, really. No Aha moment here, where I thought I’m not using lists anymore. More like I simply got tired of lists.

It always seemed like I added things TO them faster than I could check things off. And I so wanted to feel good about the things I was accomplishing instead of feeling defeated by words and lists.

Plus, my lists were seriously messing with my focus.

I’d sit down to write a blog post, bang out the first few sentences, and then off my mind would go to a lesson I needed to create for my online course.

Then, while I was working on the course, I’d remember a video I wanted to record. When I switched gears to work on the video, I’d remember a pin I needed to create for last week’s blog post.

Sound familiar?

You’re all set to dig into a given task. Then your brain goes into overdrive on your list. Gotta shoot Michele an email real quick. Oops, forgot to regram @PinkDiaries. Lemme text Blake about dinner.

Let’s flip the switch on all that, friend. Let’s take back control and plan a Freedom Week that plays out exactly the way we envision it. I want to help simplify your schedule and free your mind so you can spend more time in your Passion Zone (step #1 below).

Freedom Week = A Week With No Lists.

My hope is that this design will make you feel excited and energized about the things you’ve already accomplished and the things you can’t wait to do.

Now, if lists are still your thing, I’ve got you covered! These posts will help you manage your list and plan your week effectively:

Ready for it? Let’s kick it all off with some prep work.

 

PREP FOR FREEDOM WEEK

1) Tap into your Passion Zone.

Your Passion Zone includes those things you can do relentlessly, effortlessly, and repeatedly with a big huge smile on your face. All those things that you get excited about doing.

To help you tap into this, think about the tasks that make your heart soar. What in your work are you most passionate about? What sets your spirit free?

Once you know what those things are, your next step is to clear out your day so that you can spend more time in your zone.

Head’s up: It may take planning to weed out the tasks you shouldn’t be doing so you can open up your day for the right things. Start by putting the wheels in motion to outsource, delegate (or even drop) tasks that lie outside your Passion Zone. You may be surprised at how quickly things drop off your list as your re-prioritize.

2) Give yourself permission to focus.

Want to know what my success formula used to be?

Juggling a million things at once. In fact, the more things I had up in the air, the more successful I thought I’d be.

In reality, success comes from tackling one small task at a time.

The reason is that even the smallest tasks require intense focus, depth, and concentration to complete. You need to go all in to reap the rewards of your hard work.

But going all in can be scary, right? It takes moxie to focus on one thing and forget about everything else.

Here’s where a little faith can go a long way. Give yourself permission to be wildly, amazingly brilliant at one thing (and one thing alone) this week, k?

I’m pretty sure all the other stuff will be waiting for you next week. 🙂

3) Be present.

When you’re in the middle of writing a post and can’t stop thinking about the images you need to create for it, or the landing page you have to design, it might be time for a gut check.

Is writing a post really your top priority today?

Maybe not. It might be on your calendar, but your gut could be steering you toward something else, say, that course you started.

It’s hard to be present with your work if you’re fuzzy about what you should be working on in the first place.

When this happens, there are two things you can do:

First, trust your instincts.

Feel something tapping you on the shoulder? It’s a good thing, friend! Your instincts are like an inner guide nudging you in the right direction.

Gentle nudges usually mean big things. Maybe you’re ready to take a huge leap in your business. Or, maybe it’s time to shift gears and start a new project.

Whatever that big thing is, go with it. Your inner voice is talking to you and it wants you to listen.

Which brings me to:

Follow your instincts.

We’ve all done this.

We play a game with ourselves where we ask the same question twice, hoping to get a “no” instead of a “yes” the second time around.

If writing a blog post passes your gut check, you’ve got your answer. Time to roll up your sleeves, put your head down, and follow through with it.

You’ll be on to your next task before you know it. Pinky swear.

 

ROCK THE FREEDOM WEEK

4) Throw away your list!

This is what I’m talkin’ about. No to the lists, yo.

My hunch is that to-do lists are doing us more harm than good by blocking our ability to stay in our Passion Zone.

Here’s why:

Having a list = spending time managing it = less time crushing it.

See where I’m going here?

We spend so much time managing lists and juggling all the tasks on them that list management is about all we have time to do. You wind up with a list that gets so long you can’t get to everything. Then, instead of feeling great about the things you ARE accomplishing, you feel like you’re failing.

This is why I think lists are slowing us down instead of driving us forward.

So go ahead, friend. Do it. Right now! Toss your list in the garbage.

Done?

Great! Let’s keep going…

5) Pick 3 priority tasks for the week.

Three is the perfect number to set your week free.

I started working with three tasks when I quit my list, and let me tell you, it’s magic. No more clutter. No more noise. No more hopping around from task to task. Just a wide-open canvas and a huge playing field to do my deep work.

You probably know a handful of things that you (and only you) should be working on that will:

  • Have the biggest impact on your business
  • Keep you in your Passion Zone
  • Make you feel energized about your work

You’ve just designed your Freedom Week. Bump. Without a huge list of things to do, your mind will now be free to dive into the work you love to do.

6) Commit to one hour.

This one’s pretty powerful.

When I go running, the first mile is always a bear. I want to stop. Turn around. Go right back inside and call it a day.

But, if I hang in there and get past the start, I can tap into a zone and forget about everything else.

Tacking projects that seem overwhelming is like waiting for that runner’s high to kick in. You have to give yourself enough time to get past your own resistance and into your zone.

Give each task one uninterrupted hour.

That means no email. No Facebook. Shut them down. No texts and no calls. If you have to, turn off your phone.

You may find that your first 20 minutes has you staring at a blank screen. Keep staring, even if you start feeling squirmy at this point. It takes at least this long to context shift, which is a fancy pants way of saying “task shift”. Your brain needs time to shift away from previous activities and process the task at hand.

Whatever you do, please resist the temptation to go do something else! When we have big projects or things that overwhelm us, we tend to want to do things like:

  • Run to the girl’s room real quick
  • Clean up your desk area
  • Poke around social media (a HUGE one for me)
  • Check your email
  • Count your Instagram followers
  • Text a friend
  • And more

One hour, friend. That’s all you need to get past your resistance. After that, you’ll be fully immersed and crushing it.

7) Develop a routine.

My husband and I went on vacation this summer and after four days, I couldn’t wait to get home. I missed my routine.

Sounds boring, right?

There’s something about doing the same thing every day that gives you a sense of purpose and reaffirms your ability to achieve your weekly tasks.

Here’s my daily routine:

Every morning I get up, make a cup of tea, straighten up my apartment, and get myself together. Doing these simple things every morning gives my brain time to gear up for the day.

I take a half hour to read through email before I dive into my deep work, which is most often content creation.

Mondays, Wednesday, and Fridays, I go for a run around lunchtime to shake off the morning and gear up for the afternoon.

Later in the day, I meet with my team to coordinate projects. Then, I recap where I’m at so that I can pounce on the next day.

From there, it’s rinse and repeat.

See how doing things repetitively like this can give your day a sequence? There’s little room for guesswork because there’s not a whole lot to think about.

Doing things habitually is like strength training for the mind, in my book. Because your brain already knows what to expect, it can fire on all cylinders right away.

How’s that for a super productive week?

Create a Killer Facebook Ad Strategy For Your Email List and Products

,

My first stab at Facebook ads was a simple Page Like campaign. I remember feeling nervous and scared about it, and maybe a little dewy-eyed at the same time.

I had no idea what I was doing, what type of ad I should run or why I was even running an ad in the first place. My Facebook ad strategy left a lot to be desired.

It all started with my clients throwing me curveball questions like What type of ad should I run? Where should we direct people? How do we track the ads? How do I get people back to my website?

Uh…no idea.

Want to sell more products AND grow your list at the same time? I’ve got a Facebook ad strategy for bloggers and entrepreneurs that leverages sales funnels. Time to put rocket fuel on your list and product sales using other people's money to pay for ads. Woo!

I finally broke down and asked my business coach for help. Together, we created my very first campaign. All the while, I wondered why we were spending so much effort, time, and money on Likes (like…what’s that about?).

Vanity, I guess. Wanting to impress my clients. Or, maybe fear that if my page had fewer than 1,000 fans, I wouldn’t be one of the cool girls.

Fast forward a few months later and my Facebook ad campaign strategy turned out to be a success, in more ways than one.

First off, my page got over 1,000 likes. Woo! More importantly, I learned a valuable lesson:

You need a Facebook ad strategy that’s bigger than Likes.

In this post, I’m sharing some hidden gems I’ve discovered since then that will help you use Facebook ads the right way – to build your list and get more sales.

Before we dig in, there are three main components to Facebook ads:

  1. Ad creative – your ad copy, image or video, and call to action
  2. Ad targeting and budget – how much you want to spend per day and who you want to reach based on interests and audiences
  3. Your landing/sales page – Where you direct people once they click your call to action

Much of what we’ll cover has less to do with the creative/techie side of things and more to do with sales funnels. I want to put #3 under a microscope and drill down on where to send people once they click on your ad.

Specifically, should you send them…

  • To a sales page where you ask them to purchase right away?
  • To a separate landing page with a free offer?
  • To no page at all (gasp)?

To help answer these questions, let’s look at two common mistakes people make with Facebook ads:

Mistake #1: Asking for a sale right away

Driving people directly to a sales page and expecting them to dish out on a first date is tricky business.

Let’s use Harry as an example (Harry is a fictitious name based on a real person). Harry has a nutrition program to offer and is eager to bring it to market. He’s been working on it for months and thinks Once this product is finished, I’m set. This is so great, everyone’s going to want it! All I need to do is run an ad, send people to my sales page and then sit back and watch the money roll in. (not)

HOLD UP. Can this strategy actually work?

Sure it can. IF Harry has seed funding and a fat checkbook.

He’ll have to run his ads long enough to figure out: 1) who his target audience really is, and 2) if they love his product as much as he thinks they will. Plus, he’ll have a high customer acquisition cost (aka: huge ad spend) because he’s going directly for the sale.

Doesn’t matter where he runs the ad either. Harry can use Facebook, Google, Pinterest, Instagram, or Twitter for his ads and get similar results. His cost of acquiring customers will most likely be higher than he anticipated and higher than his budget. In my opinion, this is not the best Facebook advertising strategy.

#TAKEAWAY: Don’t send people directly to a sales page.

 

Mistake #2: Asking for nothing

This is the mistake that I made. Page Like and Brand Awareness ads keep people within the Facebook platform rather than driving them to a page on your website. Basically, asking for nada.

Sound familiar?

Based on my experience, what’s typically at fault is a lack of clarity around what you’re trying to achieve with your Facebook ad strategy.

Here’s where we can learn from Harry. Even though he’s misguided with his approach, he is crystal clear about his end goal: to sell a product. He simply needs to incorporate a sales funnel (more on that later) that will “pull people into a sale” rather than “push a sale on people”. Make sense?

Now, you’re probably thinking Okay then, where SHOULD I take people who click on my ad? And what should I ask them to do?

These are both great questions! The best ad strategies are ones that direct people to a landing page. First, I want to help you get crystal clear on what you want to achieve with Facebook ads.

#TAKEAWAY: Be very clear about what you want to achieve and make sure you send people somewhere.

Be very clear about what you want to achieve with Facebook ads before spending a dime.Click To Tweet

 

Facebook ad goals and objectives

You probably have many things you want to achieve in your business, such as:

  • I want more coaching clients
  • I want more consulting clients
  • I want to sell a digital product
  • I want to grow my email list
  • I want more sales on all my courses
  • I want more sales on my new products
  • I want to grow my Facebook engagement
  • I want to grow my Facebook group
  • I want more followers
  • I want more traffic to my site
  • I want to be known online

Whew! It’s a big list. To make it even more confusing, there are as many Facebook advertising options (or objectives) to choose from:

  • Boost post – promote your blog post to increase reach
  • Brand awareness – increase visibility of your brand and name
  • Reach – get your ad seen by as many people as possible
  • Traffic – drive people to a blog post of podcast
  • Engagement – engagement on your ad (like, comment, share, reactions)
  • App installs – get people to download your app
  • Video views – get people to see videos you uploaded
  • Lead gen – get people to sign up for your opt-in right on Facebook
  • Conversions – drive people to a page where they take a specific action (sign up, download, buy a product)
  • Product catalog sales – for e-commerce stores to promote their products
  • Store visits – for local brick-and-mortar businesses to reach people nearby

The trick is to choose the right goals from the first list and the right objectives from the second list. We only want goals and objectives that will help us increase sales.

If you’re confused by all this, I’m going to clear it up for you real quick…

First of all, forget about every ad objective except Conversions. Bump.

Now, from our goals list, let’s call the top six (in bold) our Power Goals. These are the ones that will directly impact sales and business growth.

The bottom ones…those leading to more followers, traffic, brand awareness, and visibility…are lacking muscle, meaning that they won’t have a great impact on your bottom line. Since these Wimpy Goals will likely happen as a result of your Power Goals anyway, there’s no need to chase them down with Facebook ads.

I’ll go so far as to say that Wimpy Goals will leave you thinking that Facebook ads don’t work. After my first Facebook campaign, I steered clear of Facebook ads for a looong time. They’re a total waste of money I thought. Which, of course, they were because I’d set out with a wimpy Page Like goal.

Don’t do what I did!

Next up, remember those sales funnels I mentioned? Time for a funnels throwdown, yo.

#TAKEAWAY: Always aim for a Power Goal with Facebook ads.

Aim for a primary goal with Facebook ads – your secondary goal will likely happen as a result.Click To Tweet

 

What is a sales funnel, anyway?

A funnel is simply a sequence of events you set up, where your target audience is first pulled into your content via a free training or awesome resource you offer, and then “gifted” additional content pieces that serve two primary purposes:

  • To educate them about said topic
  • To help them take actionable steps toward achieving something
  • To lead people to a purchase

Essentially, funnels take people on a scenic route to their destination, which is your solution for them.

Even though your funnel has one business goal, the most heart-felt funnels will provide amazing value that potential customers would gladly pay for…only they don’t have to because you gift it to them. This means that if at any point they drop off without purchasing, they will be taking with them actionable steps to help them achieve a mission-critical goal.

Here’s what a basic funnel looks like:

The best way to advertise on Facebook is to use salse funnelsIf funnels sound open-ended, as if you’ll be giving away the farm, I get it. Creating content takes a lot of time and effort. I’m five hours into writing this post and not one word has come easy, friend.  🙂

Still, I’m happy to do it! You know why? Because I get this little factoid:

People need a deeper relationship in order to buy from us.

Today, face-to-face networking is a ghost in our past, which means that the subtle innuendos and gestures we pick up on in person are missing. We have to rely on our content to fill in that gap and communicate who we are and where our expertise lies. Bottom line, gotta keep showing up, creating, and publishing.

#TAKEAWAY: Free content pieces should provide extreme value and lead to your end goal.

Sales funnels should include free content that helps people achieve something and leads them to a purchase.Click To Tweet

Side note: What should Harry do?

Harry should shift his strategy from pushing a sale to pulling people into his content. Focus on building relationships with people first. THEN, after he’s provided value and earned the trust of his audience, he can gently introduce his product.

Here’s what Harry’s funnel might look like:Facebook ad campaign strategy includes a sales funnel

Now, let’s put funnels to work for your ad campaign…

How to create your own sales funnel

First, work backward from your end goal. Think about what it would take for you to reach that goal.

Step back. Even further. Step waaay back from your product. Imagine that you’re no longer the creator. You’re no longer YOU. You’re a complete stranger who will be discovering said product for the first time.

Now, ask yourself What would it take to get me excited about this? What would be most helpful to me at this point in my journey?

Next, put on your inventor hat again. What content pieces can you create that would be most relevant to your product? What would organically lead people to a purchase?

By looking at your product from both angles like this, you can bridge your free content pieces to your business goal. Don’t limit your content to blogging and Ebooks here. Mix it up with videos and/or podcasts to give your people a sense of a one-to-one interaction with you.

For example, let’s look at what it would take if your Power Goals are to:

  • Build your email list
  • Sell an introductory product

A SUPER SIMPLE LIST-BUILDING FUNNEL EXAMPLE

You’d start with a funnel that includes these pieces:

  • A product – it can be a low-cost Ebook or workshop or a higher-priced course
  • A free course or resource – relevant to both your audience and product
  • A Facebook ad – with a conversion objective
  • A landing page – where people can sign up for your free resource (use LeadPages)
  • A thank you page – with an option to purchase the paid product
  • An email provider – ConvertKit is my new fav (read this post for how to set it up)

Can you see how this type of funnel would put rocket fuel on your list AND increase sales at the same time?

Let’s do some math. Say you spend $100 to test your Facebook ad. The ad gives you 20 new email subscribers, three of whom buy your ebook for $40. You make $120 in revenue and $20 in profit.

If we play this out for a minute, here’s what would happen if you ramp up your Facebook ad strategy and spend $100 a day:

  • 20 new subscribers a day
  • 3 new customers a day
  • $120 in revenue a day ($20 profit)

In one month, you’d have 600 new subscribers, 90 customers, $3,600 in revenue and $600 in profit. Bigger budget = more subscribers = more revenue.

So, how do you make this work?

The formula above uses a 20% conversion rate on ads and a 15% conversion rate on new-subscribers-to-customers.

I’m not going to lie. Hitting those numbers will take some work! First of all, you will need to create the content pieces. Then, you’ll need a winning combination of ad + landing page + free offer + paid product.

On the art side of the equation, you’ll need to have a deep understanding of what your audience most wants or needs. This is a biggie. If you jump into a full-blown ad campaign without solving a specific problem for people, it’s going to be hard to get results.

This is why starting with a small budget is so crucial. What you’re aiming for is to test your ads until one outperforms the others and yields a 20% conversion rate.

Don’t stop there…test your product, free gift, and landing page too.

I know you’re probably thinking This sounds like a ton of work!

I hear you. If you hang in there and stick with it, your investment will pay off as you get more subscribers and customers and see higher profit margins on your ads.

#TAKEAWAY: Use this funnel to supercharge your list and sell your products without spending money on ads.

 

What if you don’t have a product yet?

That’s perfectly okay. You can still dabble in FB advertising. You’ll be looking at a longer-term play and a different Power Goal, which is to fill your list with people who may be interested in a future product. (Psst…want to know my top 4 list-building strategies? Check out this post.)

In this case, I recommend driving traffic to:

  • A standout blog post with a free offer
  • A landing page with a free offer

Since your ad revenue here will be future-based, stay with the small budget and plan on gradually building your list until you’re closer to launch. By then you should know which ads are working and where to invest your dollars.

Include content pieces in your funnel that prime people for your product AND offer amazing education and value. Remember, we’re killin’ two birds with our funnels.

If you’ve been following our Blog Profit Plan series, you’re already blogging around content themes and it will be easy to gather valuable pieces. Then, all you have to do is to gift these resources to your audience in a natural, organic, and sensitive way. Easy peasy.

#TAKEAWAY: Use a small daily budget if your Power Goal is to build your email list and you have yet to create a product.

There you go! Funnels are hands-down the best way to advertise on Facebook. Have you created one yet?

What Should I Be Working on Right Now? (The DIY-Your-Biz Blueprint)


Online Business Blueprint | This post includes a blueprint to help bloggers and entrepreneurs prioritize and focus your time on the specific things you should be working on right now to grow your business. Click through to see the blueprint!

If you’re a bit stumped with what to do right now to grow your blog business, this post is for you! I break down the exact things to focus on so you know what to prioritize and when. Click through to see the blueprint!Hi friends!

We’ve been tackling so many aspects of making a full-time income from a blog, I thought it might be cool to take a little breather.

I really want you to step away from the minutiae of DOING for a minute. Let’s look at your business from a different perspective so you can see where you’re at right now, and more importantly, what your unique success formula looks like moving forward.

No specific action steps today. More like a bird’s eye view, k?

Here’s what I’m covering in this post:

  • How to know what you should be focusing on now
  • How to “work” your stage to get to the next level
  • Setting high-level goals for each stage
  • Breaking those down into bite-sized goals

Let’s dig in…

What should you be focusing on now?

This is a great question! It’s so easy to feel a kind of push and pull between what you think (or even know) you should be doing, what the experts say to do, and what other brands and competitors are doing right now.

Should you be doing those things too?

It depends.

First things first, you need to pinpoint what stage of business you’re in.

This is massively important because there are certain things you need to focus on at each stage of your business. Knowing where you are right now will help you build a platform for your next stages. Think of it as a road map for getting from Point A to Point Z with your blog biz.

Now, you’re probably wondering about these stages of business. I’m going to break them down for you right now.

Stage #1 – The Launch Stage

FOCUS ON: BUILDING YOUR BLOG + PLATFORM

Time to get your blog up and running. Your focus is on narrowing down your passion/niche, validating your profitable idea, laying the foundation for your brand, and getting your first few subscribers. This means writing your core message, identifying your target audience, designing a logo, launching your social networks and writing your first posts.

Whew! It’s a lot. You’ll definitely need some time to implement everything.

In case you’re curious, you’re in the Launch stage if…

  • you’re still in the process of validating your business idea.
  • you’re a bit unsure about how to pursue your idea and turn it into a business.
  • you don’t have a website or social presence just yet.
  • you’re on a tight budget and need to launch your biz as affordably as possible.

If you feel a bit flustered and overwhelmed during this stage, that’s completely normal, so don’t worry. This is a time of major uncertainty. You have ideas about what to do and are battling with a little bit of fear about whether it will all work out. This is perfectly ok and how you should be feeling right now (even though it’s not fun)! If you hang in there with me, your vision will come together. Promise.

 

Stage #2 – The Hustle Stage

FOCUS ON:  GROWING YOUR AUDIENCE + TRAFFIC

High five! Your blog is up and running and you’ve built a platform for your business. Now it’s time get your hustle on.

While you’re in the hustle stage, you’re going to be building your audience, driving traffic, and generating initial sales. You’ll want to focus on social media, building a following, growing your email list, and of course, creating original content on the regular.

You’ll also want to follow these steps to optimize your website so that it generates leads, subscribers, and sales.

If you want, you can download the web optimization checklist I created so you know exactly what to do. Click the image below to download.

Want to know how to drive and convert incredible amounts of traffic to your business? Download this web optimization checklist so you can turn your website into a 24/7 sales machine!

How do you know if you’re in the hustle stage? I’m glad you asked!

You’re in the Hustle stage if…

  • you have 2-5k email subscribers.
  • you’re publishing original content on your blog or video consistently.
  • your combined social media following is between 100 – 10,000.
  • you’re generating revenue (or close to generating revenue) but it’s not enough to replace your salary just yet.

If you really want to build your traffic and grow your social media following, grab my blog promo plan. It will help you create a plan for what to share and where, and how frequently you should share your blog posts to get the most traffic to them.

In the Hustle Stage, focus on building a following, growing your list, and creating original content.Click To Tweet

 

Stage #3 – The Growth Stage

FOCUS ON: CREATING COURSES + FUNNELS

This is where you’re really going to start seeing some traction in your business, where all your hard work spent building your platform and audience will start to pay off.

During this stage, you’re going to focus on streamlining your sales process, building funnels and setting a foundation for scalable growth. Your goal now is to move beyond selling 1-to-1 services and toward a “1-to-many” business model. The best way to do this is to create online courses and digital products. These will allow you to free up your time and prepare your online business for success, which is up next in stage #4.

You’re in the Growth stage if…

  • you have more than 5k email subscribers and your list is growing on autopilot.
  • you’re starting to generate enough revenue to sustain yourself and pursue your biz full time. Woo!
  • your business is gaining momentum month after month.
  • you have more than 10k social media followers.

 

Stage #4 – The Profit + Scale Stage

FOCUS ON: AUTOMATING YOUR BUSINESS

You’re ready to take your biz to the next level! In stage #4, your business is growing consistently, and it’s time to add more team members and implement even better business systems. Buut, you may not have the resources just yet to do all that. You may need to increase your revenue first.

I’ve got the solution right here!

In this stage, your goal is to start scaling the things you’ve already created so you can generate even more revenue and profits from them. Your focus is on automating your sales process and offers so you can sell more with less effort. You also want to start streamlining and organizing the work you’ve done, so you scale with ease.

You’re in the Profit + Scale stage if…

  • you have 15k email subscribers or more.
  • you’re generating at least 50k a year.
  • you’re selling courses and offers that free up your time every day.
  • you’ve completely moved away from offering 1-to-1 services.
  • you have 2-3 sales funnels that are converting consistently.
  • you’re ready to hire at least two staff members (even if they’re part-time).

 

Next up, how to work the stages

Here’s where you start identifying what you should be working on right now so that you can get to the next stage as quickly as possible. Before we dig into specific goals though, we need to know what we’re aiming for.

For example, let’s say you’re in Stage #1 and just launching your blog. Or, maybe you’ve been at it for a while but want to shift your blog’s focus, which means that your blog is “new”, inasmuch as you’re rebranding or charting a new path with it.

What you want to do is to create high-level milestones that you plan to achieve during this stage. I love working in 3-month time chunks because that is far off enough that I have something to work toward, but not too far off that I can’t see my end game, make sense?

Here’s what your milestones for stage #1 might look like:

  • Launch blog and brand
  • Publish 9 blog posts
  • Complete social media profiles
  • First 100 subscribers
  • 500 combined followers

This means that at the end of stage #1, you will accomplish each of these milestones. If we look at it another way, these are going to be your focus areas until you get to stage #2.

Phew! Now we’re getting somewhere. This gives us something to sink our teeth into. From here you’re going to specify goals and tasks that will help you accomplish them.

 

Next, create high-level goals

Now it’s time to break the milestones down into goals. We’re not getting super granular with these just yet. Right now all you need to do is set high-level goals for the next few months. Make sure you account for each bucket in our Blog Profit Plan:

  • Content
  • Traffic
  • Subscribers
  • Profit

Now, I know you’re probably thinking How am I going to get it all done? I have a hard time focusing on just one of these buckets!

I get it.This is one of those things where not all of the buckets will have an equal focus each month. Still, it’s important that you try to address each bucket, ev’ry month.

Why is this so important?

The reason is that addressing each bucket will give you a direct route to your next stage. Think of it as if you’re driving down a superhighway going 100mph. It’s a beautiful sunny day…you’ve got the sunroof down and there are no cars, lights, or speed bumps up ahead to slow you down. Just you and your destination.

That’s how we’re gunnin’ here. We’re tossing all four buckets in the backseat and hittin’ the highway. The point here is to get into a habit of constantly juggling the buckets.

Using our same example above, here’s what your goals might look like:

  • Evaluate my niche for profitability
  • Finalize logo
  • Pick a theme for my blog
  • Write my first 5 blog posts
  • Create my social profiles
  • Share content each day on Pinterest, Instagram, and Facebook
  • Choose an email marketing platform
  • Send my first 5 broadcast emails
  • Create one freebie
  • Create my first welcome email sequence

Your goals may look different than this depending on which stage of business you’re in.

 

Finally, break down your goals

This part is pretty straightforward. Usually, one goal will precede another, meaning that in order to tackle the next goal, you need to do “x” first. For example, if you’re in stage #1, your order of things may be to tackle these first:

  • Evaluating your niche
  • Researching products
  • Setting up your blog
  • Writing your first few posts
  • Choosing brand elements – logo, colors, fonts

Then move on to:

  • Creating social profiles
  • Sharing content each day
  • Creating your first freebie
  • Setting up your email marketing platform

In the two examples above, the items listed would be your priorities for the month. What this means is that no matter what else is happening, these things get done. When other things pop up, you reschedule them or put them aside to make room for your must-do items.

This is easier said than done, I know! But there’s a way to make sure you stay on track, and that has a lot to do with how you manage each week and each day.

I have a great time-blocking template I use to prioritize my time. If you want, you can use it to plan your week too.

Download my Time Block Template to help you increase productivity and get even more stuff done each week!

This template is the best little tool for staying on track, not getting distracted, and ultimately, rockin’ your to-do list.

Let’s hear it! What’s your plan for your blog/biz? Have you created one yet?

How to Really Use ConvertKit to Grow Your Business


Ready to supercharge your email list? Here's why I switched to ConvertKit, and how I use it to get over 1,500 subscribers a month PLUS sell my products. Click through to get started!.About 2 months ago I made the switch to ConvertKit and fell in love.

So today, I thought it would be fun to share my email marketing journey, plus the simple and effective ways I use ConvertKit to get 1,500 subscribers a month.

Here’s what I’m covering in this post:

  • Why I switched to ConvertKit (and why I stayed, even when Infusionsoft offered me a 70% discount)
  • Why I love ConvertKit
  • How I use it every day to build my list and sell products
  • How to set up ConvertKit and use it to grow your business

This post contains affiliate links.

1) First, here’s why I switched to ConvertKit

I highly recommend using ConvertKit to manage your subscribers and build your email list.

The reason is that I’ve used Infusionsoft, MailChimp, and Aweber, but none of them hit the sweet spot for me. Infusionsoft was too complicated. MailChimp didn’t have the functionality I wanted. Aweber seemed a bit outdated.

Let me share my Infusionsoft story.

I signed up for Infusionsoft a year and a half ago after taking a list-building course. My instructor used Infusionsoft and I thought Kamila’s successful… I want to be successful too. Let me try it.

So I did. Even though the monthly fees were steep, I was happy with my decision. Seeing subscribers pop up every day was a thrill. Woo! What a rush…

After a few months, though, $249 a month seemed like a lot (yes, that’s what it cost).

Still, the thought of migrating my campaigns to a new platform was a big fat turn off, so I stayed with Infusionsoft even though the high monthly fee was starting to make me sizzle.

Then one day a light bulb goes off and I decide to cancel my Infusionsoft account. By this time, I know that ConvertKit is an amazing platform with better pricing options.

That’s when this thing happens:

Infusionsoft drops their price to $199. Boom. Just like that. They even offer additional free training, which I accept because I really (really!) dread switching to a new provider.

So we’re all good until a few months later, when this other thing happens.

I see a message on my dashboard:

You’ve reached 2,000 contacts. Either delete contacts to continue (really?!) or upgrade to $349 a month (say whaaa?).

I can’t even access my dashboard unless I pay $349. Right then and there, I sign up for ConvertKit. And here’s where it gets even better:

I spend the next 3 days migrating my list, learning the ConvertKit interface (which is super intuitive), importing contacts, creating tags, testing, and so on.

Once I’m all set, I call to cancel my Infusionsoft account again.

On that call, Infusionsoft offers me $99 a month FOREVER. No increases. Ever.

Come on, Infusionsoft, really? You just bumped me to $349. Now your “customer experience” rep drops the price to less than one-third the price you bumped me to, for the same exact service? Did somebody just say “shady pricing”?

X to that.

Now, maybe I would have stayed with them for that price. But 3 days was all it took for me to become a die-hard ConvertKit fan, which I’m going to tell you all about right now.

Click here to learn more about ConvertKit’s pricing and services.

2) Next up, why I love ConvertKit and how I use it every day

There are 3 things I love most about Converkit:

  • Their insanely straightforward pricing
  • Their bend-over-backward customer service
  • The interface itself

Let’s start with their pricing:

After my experience with Infusionsoft, transparent and honest pricing is a biggie for me. Here is ConvertKit’s pricing:

ConvertKit pricing: 0-1K Subscribers: $29 a month; 1-3K subscribers: $49 a month; 3-5K subscribers: $79 a month. Click here to sign up!Easy peasy, straightforward pricing that scales as your business grows, so you don’t get walloped in the earlier stages of your biz.

ConvertKit’s customer service

ConvertKit’s support stood out to me, and I’ll tell you why.

First off, I half expected it to be lame after my experience with Infusionsoft (long waits, curt responses). But the folks at ConvertKit are on the case the minute you pop in with your question. Boom. Someone’s on the other end asking How can I help?

That’s just the tip of it. The best way I can describe it is to say that their support team feels like they’re YOUR team. This is huge when you’re a team of one or two, no? We need peeps in our corner. Until ConvertKit’s support team resolves your issue, they’ve got nowhere to be except right there in the trenches with you.

To show you how ConvertKit’s support makes you feel all warm and fuzzy, here is my very first experience:

Right after I signed up, I tested my sequences and noticed that some emails went straight to the junk folder. I was concerned about what this meant for email deliverability, so I popped into their chat support.

I couldn’t believe how thorough ConvertKit was with their response. They walked me through a few standard things to start. Then they kept digging. Here’s the first email I received from them:

ConvertKit customer support

Can you see how amazing these guys are? This one response helped me to write better emails and avoid the junk folder. From there, they continued to troubleshoot. They added over 400 test subscribers to my account with various Outlook, Hotmail, and Gmail accounts, all to make sure that my emails were indeed making it to the inbox.

That’s impressive, in my book. ConvertKit spent a whole week running tests. Just shows you how much they care about our success.

The easy-to-use interface

As a visual person, the look-and-feel of things matter. The biggest difference between ConvertKit and other email providers is the intuitive interface. I just love ConvertKit’s navigation. It’s simple and effortless. No poking around in submenus trying to find what you need.

Here’s a look at the ConvertKit dashboard:

See the blue bar at the top? Those are the sections you’ll use to grow your list and sell products. You’ve got Forms, Sequences, Broadcasts, Subscribers, Automations…all the tabs you need right at your fingertips.

This is worth a li’l happy dance. Great design = seamless experience, which is exactly what ConvertKit provides here. With Infusionsoft and Aweber, I always had a hard time figuring out what to click.

Let’s dig into each of these tabs, k?

How I use ConvertKit Every Day

Forms

ConvertKit forms

I use ConvertKit forms to create an opt-in form, which is your first stop for growing a list. You can style the form, add a custom image plus your text, and embed the form directly on your site.

But you know me…I love my Thrive Leads, so I create forms in ConvertKit that “speak to” the Thrive Leads forms. Even if you use SumoMe or Thrive Leads for your opt-in forms, you still need to create a mirror form in ConvertKit (minus the styling) which is a simple 1-2-3 process. Takes seconds.

Sequences

ConvertKit sequences

I use ConvertKit sequences to build a relationship with my subscribers by creating value-packed emails that are automatically delivered to them once they sign up. Sequences are all pre-written and pre-scheduled, which takes more time upfront for sure, but well worth it. These are essentially set-it-and-forget-it sequences that work for you behind the scenes once you set them up.

I also use sequences for my automated product funnels, which means I make money on autopilot.

Broadcasts

ConvertKit broadcasts

I use ConvertKit broadcast emails to offer even more value to my readers or share a new post or product. These are weekly or bi-monthly emails that are one-offs (separate from automated sequences). I don’t schedule broadcasts unless it’s late in the day and better to send the next morning.

Subscribers

ConvertKit subscribers

Here’s where I can see my list of subscribers, the freebies they’ve signed up for and the products they’ve purchased. I can also filter my ConvertKit subscribers by emails opened, links clicked, freebies downloaded, products purchased, and so on. This filtering is based on tags to help you segment your list and send specific announcements to only those people who signed up for X freebie.

Automations

ConvertKit automations

In ConvertKit, automations are If This, Then That conditions where one action triggers another event or state.

Think of it as an iPhone. You can’t dial anyone without putting your fingers on the keypad, right? Your iPhone sits there waiting for an action to trigger a call.

Sequences and forms are a bit like that…they wait for an action. The only difference here is that instead of taking an action, you create an action that triggers the call (or in our case, the email).

That’s what Convertkit automations are all about. You create an automation rule that says When a subscriber opts-in to X freebie, add them to X sequence. Then that action triggers the sequence to be delivered. Make sense?

4) How to Use ConvertKit to Grow Your Business

First thing you need is a freebie of some kind. It can be a cheat sheet, PDF of your post, template, workbook, Ebook…anything that provides extra value to your readers and extends on your post.

Make sure you include a call-to-action within the post. A simple Yes, I Want! graphic will work perfectly. If you need help here, I’ve got 9 ways to optimize your website where I drill down on freebies, CTAs, and more.

Once you have your freebie, it’s time to head over to ConvertKit and create your first form.

Creating forms in ConvertKit

From the main dashboard, select the + Form button.

You’ll be redirected to a page where you can select a form or a landing page.

I use Thrive Architect and LeadPages for landing pages, so a form is all I want here. If you’re looking for a landing page builder, you can easily select one of ConvertKit’s landing page templates in addition to (or instead of) the form.

Otherwise, you’re good with just the form.

ConvertKit has 3 form variations:

How to create your first form in ConvertKit. Woo!

Once you select your form, you can easily edit the text, upload your freebie graphic and change colors to fit your brand.

ConvertKit form colors

I use the name of my freebie/product as my form name.

Next, select the Settings tab. If you created a form, make sure you select “Just a form to embed on my site.” Below that, you’ll see an option to “Redirect to another page”. I like to send subscribers to a custom page where I thank them for signing up and let them know the freebie is on its way.

Make sure you select the Settings tab for your ConvertKit form!

Psst…LeadPages has beautiful thank you pages.

Almost there. Next, select “Incentive Email” from the left column. Here’s where you can select single or double opt-in. If you’re curious, single means that a person becomes a subscriber as soon as they fill out your form. Double (or incentive) requires an email confirmation first to make sure the email address is correct. This prevents your emails from bouncing and gives people a better chance to receive your freebie.

Here's the second part of ConvertKit's form settings: select single or double opt-in.

Creating your first sequence

Sequence time. This part is super easy!

Each new sequence kicks off with a mini-tutorial courtesy of ConvertKit:

Here's how to create your first ConvertKit sequence!

You’ll want to write a compelling subject and change the delay time (tip: set your first email to 0 days so subscribers receive it immediately!). Then select either Draft or Publish. Make sure you preview your email before sending it.

As I mentioned above, my emails ended up in the junk folder during testing until I adjusted the length and number of links. Bottom line, you want more copy and fewer images + links. If you stick to that, you can feel confident that subscribers will receive your emails.

Once you’re happy with email #1, select Add Email from the left side and write emails #2, #3, and so on. Depending on your sequence, you might follow up with:

  • A reminder to download your freebie
  • An exclusive tip
  • A roundup of your top posts
  • Case studies + success stories related to a product
  • Your story
  • A link to a video

Before you publish your new sequence, jump over to the Settings tab real quick:

Here's how to adjust the settings of your sequence.

Here’s where you can do things like:

  • Specify how you want your sender name to appear (I had to adjust mine to include my name)
  • Select your preferred send days and time
  • Exclude subscribers – if someone has downloaded X freebie, you can and should exclude them from X freebie sequence.

You’re doing great! We’re just about ready to wrap this up. Ready for it?

3) Set automation rules

Remember those triggers and actions we talked about? Here we go, baby! ConvertKit’s automation rules confused me at first, so if this part seems overwhelming, I get it. But really, this is the quickest part. It takes less than 10 seconds.

First, select + Add Rule. Here’s what you’ll see:

Here's how to create your first automation rule in ConvertKit. Woot woot!

For the trigger event, select “When someone subscribes to a form” and select your new freebie form. For the action, select  “Subscribes to a sequence” and select your freebie sequence.

I recommend testing your opt-in form using your own email address to make sure:

  • Your email is added as a subscriber in ConvertKit
  • You are added to the correct sequence
  • You receive the first email in the sequence

That’s all there is to it! You’ve just kicked your email funnel into high gear. So what’s next?

Get busy blogging. The more content you share, the more traffic you’ll drive to your blog, which means the more people will sign up for your list. I also recommend creating as many freebies as you can. You never know which ones will capture people’s attention and outperform the others. It’s helpful to have a few cheat sheets and Ebooks you can put into rotation.

And of course, I recommend signing up for ConvertKit. You can start building your list for only $29 a month. Click here to learn more about ConvertKit’s features and services. Woo!

Website Optimization: 9 Must-Have Elements to Convert More Customers

,

9 Website Optimization Tips to Convert Customers | Ever feel like your website should be working harder for you? This post is for you! It includes 9 elements every blogger and entrepreneur must have on their website to generate leads and sales 24/7, even while you sleep. Click through to see all the high-converting elements!

9 Steps to Optimize Your Website For More Traffic + Customers | Ever feel like your website should be working harder for you? This post is for you! It includes 9 elements every blogger and entrepreneur must have on their website to generate leads and sales 24/7, even while you sleep. Click through to see all the steps!

Ever wonder how to optimize your website so that it does more of the heavy lifting in your business? Say, get out there and bring you some fresh leads + customers already? Or, maybe give the universe a shout-out to your superheroness?

I’m so with you on this one! Our websites should work harder. In fact, we want our websites to be the swiss army knives of the machine we’ve been working so hard to build.

The machine that’s going to drive traffic, build our audience, and make us profitable.

Today, I’m sharing 9 website optimization tips to help keep that machine running at peak performance. These tips will be especially helpful if your blog biz isn’t quite where you want it to be, or if you feel like you’re doing everything right but something is still a bit off.

You probably have questions about your website, or maybe you’re thinking…

  • I don’t have time
  • I’m done working on my site
  • How can this bring me customers?
  • Is spending time on my site even worth it?

I get it. Another thing to add to the list, right? And YES, optimizing your website for more leads and customers will take time.

Here’s the thing though:

Most people who visit your website are doing a quick fly-by, looking for something specific. Once they find it, they’ll likely peace out unless you give them such a bangin’ experience that they want to stay longer.

The beauty here is that once you optimize your website, you can pretty much set it and forget it. This is because all the heavy lifting will start happening on autopilot. You’ll have a system that builds relationships with complete strangers and a website that delivers leads + customers while you sleep.

Sound good? Here are my website optimization tips:

PART 1 – THE ART OF THINGS + LAYING THE FOUNDATION

1) A Value Proposition

WHERE TO PUT: ON YOUR HOME PAGE

A value whaaa? This is a fancy way of saying let people know that you solve one problem for one specific person. A value prop should be the first statement people see on your homepage and it looks something like this:

I help (who) do (what) so that they can (benefit).

Confused by this? I’ve got tons of value prop variations, plus a template for you in this post. Your goal here is to let your audience know exactly what those 2 “ones” are above and to clearly communicate the value you provide. What do you do? How do you help? Who do you help? 

If you need help with your one person, you can download the customer avatar template I created to help you attract the right customers to your business. Click the image below to download it.

Download the Customer Avatar Worksheet to learn how to optimize a home page with a targeted message that attracts your ideal customer.

I recommend placing your value prop front and center on your homepage, ideally above the fold (which is another jargony way of saying don’t make people scroll for it).

Now, I know coming up with this kind of statement can be tricky, especially if you have a million topics you blog about, and that’s perfectly ok. Just know that if you have a hard time building an audience for your brand, your value prop is likely at fault.

Here’s why:

You need a wrapper for all your interests…some kind of angle that your topics point to so that people know which box to place you in. Plus, having a strong value prop is the best way to check the box on homepage optimization.

Note: When it comes to website optimization tips, people often skip the value prop step and head straight for SEO (step #9 below). This is a huge mistake, in my book. The reason is that after all your hard work driving traffic to your website, if you don’t grab people right away you’ll likely lose them forever. Please, friend, don’t skip this step!

Related: How to Find Your Blog’s Niche and Focus

2) Your Story

WHERE TO PUT: YOUR ABOUT PAGE

Your About Page is where you hook people on YOU, your world view, and why you do what you do.

Don’t hold back! Your personal history has framed who you are and that’s the story your audience needs to hear. I call it The Story of You Plus Them because you’re connecting the dots between where your readers are in their journey and where you can take them.

Your About Page should communicate that you get how your audience feels. What have you experienced that may be similar to what they’re going through right now? How have you overcome your challenges? How do you personally know how they feel? What will change for them AFTER you?

Once you weave your story in a way that answers these questions, you’ll tap into how your audience secretly feels. Building an audience will become effortless because people will perceive you as having a solution and will naturally seek you out and want to work with you.

Related: What Should I include on My About Page?

3) Great Design

WHERE TO PUT: EVERYWHERE!

Wondering how to optimize a home page? It starts with knowing how you want people to feel when they visit your website. Energized and excited? Deep and mysterious? Powerful and independent?

This is true for more than just your home page. Details like colors, fonts, and graphics have a lot to do with the mood of your entire website, and more importantly, how long people hang around. Your goal is to help readers get lost in your copy, with me? You want them to experience your website with no distracting elements to take their attention away from what you want them to do.

When you think about it, the function of design is to interpret copy. Ask yourself questions like How can I turn that huge block of boring text into an eye-guzzling graphic? What design elements can I add that will make it easy for people to digest my copy?

What you’re aiming for is to create a hierarchy of importance so that people know what to read first, second, and so on. We’re talking about deets like:

  • Easy navigation
  • Clear calls to action (step #6 below)
  • Harmonious colors, fonts, and graphics
  • Use of white space
  • Strategic positioning and scale of elements

When you’re first starting out, please don’t spend too much time on this step. The reason is that it’s easy to fall into a rabbit-hole with design. In the early stage of your business, your goal should be to get out there as quickly as possible so that you can learn more about your audience.

I recommend using a theme like Divi as a jumping off point. Add your content and change the colors, fonts, and graphics. Then you’re good to go. Easy peasy.

#BOTTOMLINE Yes, design is important, but don’t spend so much time here that you put off other important things like LAUNCHING.

Related: How to Choose Colors That Will Make Your Brand Stand Out

PART II: REVVIN’ UP THE MACHINE

4) Opt-in forms + freebies

WHERE TO PUT: YOUR HEADER, FOOTER, SIDEBAR, BLOG POSTS

When we talk about how to optimize your website, this one’s a biggie. Opt-in forms and freebies are where you start turbocharging the machine and building an email list while you sleep. What’s not to love about that, right?

I include them on my home page and in as many posts as I can, without interrupting readers of course. If a freebie naturally fits and would help extend a post with even more value, I’ll include it.

I actually recommend including a freebie for as many posts as you can, which sounds like a lot more work than it is. You can start with a few that are related to your blog themes and use the same freebie on numerous posts. The double-whammy here is that the more freebies you create, the more you’ll understand what your audience secretly wants. You can use that intel to frame future products around.

Remember, freebies are a huge part of our content funnel, which I cover in this post. A high-converting freebie is:

  • Targeted – speaks to one specific person and addresses their most pressing pain point.
  • Actionable – is easy for people to digest and implement. Checklists, cheat sheets, templates and short workbooks (less than 10 pages) work well.
  • Simple – covers one simple topic rather than multiple topics. Your goal is to offer the easiest steps for people to get from A to Z.
  • Delivers results – gives people steps they can actually move forward with and see results.
  • Builds trust – establishes your authority and primes people to buy from you in the future.
  • Sparks curiosity – offers enough value to get people excited about future products, without giving away the farm.
  • Provides real value – is something that people would actually consider paying for.

For opt-in forms, I’m in love with Thrive Leads! They have so many options. You can tweak these forms all you want and then save them as templates.

Any type of form you want, Thrive can make it happen. Take a look:

  • Welcome mats – Full page opt-ins similar to Jeff Bullas’ home page. These are supposedly the highest converting. I can’t wait to test.
  • Standard pop-ups – I use these as “exit pop-ups”, where visitors are prompted to opt-in right before they leave.
  • In-content – Clicking on an image or a link triggers a pop-up. I use these for all of my content upgrades.
  • Ribbon forms – Appear as a bar across the top of your website, like the one on Twelveskip’s site.
  • Sidebars – Display on the right side of pages and posts.
  • Footers – Sit at the bottom of your site and prompt people after they read your content.

Can you see how powerful freebies are? I highly recommend purchasing the Thrive Leads’ plugin ($67 one-time fee) and experimenting with each opt-in form.

5) Landing Pages

WHERE TO PUT: THESE ARE CUSTOM PAGES

If we’re really going to make our opt-in forms stand out, we need to give them a dedicated landing page. Here’s why:

All the forms mentioned in step #7 are designed to appear on an existing page or post on your website. They’ll pop up, slide in, slide down, or hang out at the top/bottom of a page. If we really want to shake things up, we’ll put our opt-in form on an entirely separate page, so people can’t help but notice it.

How is a landing page is different from other pages on your website?

Great question! I scratched my head on this one too at first. What makes landing pages different is that they include only 3 things:

  1. Details about your freebie
  2. A call to action (step #6 below)
  3. Your opt-in form

That’s it! The best converting landing pages are all about freebies and nothing else. We’re talking no blog posts, pages, sidebars, or even top navigation. Basically, no ANYTHING that might distract people from signing up for your freebie.

So there you have it! That’s my skinny on landing page best practices. Yours can be short and sweet (an image plus a few bullet points) or long and detailed (more copy, more images, more wow).

Wondering how to make a landing page? I’ve got 2 options for you:

  • LeadPages has a huge library of high-converting templates that you can easily tweak to suit both your freebie and brand. While I like their templates, I find that customizing them takes more work than I want. Plus, the $25 monthly fee is too steep, in my book.
  • Thrive Content Builder is a relatively new plugin that’s been giving LeadPages a run lately. These guys boast a huge template library too (162 and counting) and charge only $67, with a full year of support. That’s a one-time fee and a no-brainer, right?

6) Call-to-Actions

WHERE TO PUT: EVERYWHERE

As people read your content, you want to encourage them to take another step. The way to do that is to use a combination of buttons, links, and copy that calls them to action (hence the term “call-to-actions” or “CTAs”).

CTAs have the smallest amount of copy you’re likely to write, but don’t let that fool you! This is one of those cases where big things definitely come in small packages. Here are a few CTA examples:

  • I’m In!
  • Heck Yes!
  • Hook Me Up!
  • Get Started Here

You’re probably thinking Why are CTAs such a big deal? Can’t I just say “Download” or Buy Now” and that’s it?

It depends. Sometimes that will work and other times not so much. I recommend brainstorming your CTA a bit more. If you hang in there, you’re likely to come up with text for your CTA button and heading that will get people fired up to sign up.

Take a look at Melyssa Griffin‘s website. See how she prompts people to Take Action: Click An Option Below…? It doesn’t get any clearer than that! Follow this example with your call-to-actions and you’ll be buildin’ your machine, quick like.

You want these babies ev’rywhere:

  • On your home page
  • About page
  • Contact page
  • Blog posts
  • Opt-in forms
  • Landing pages
  • Thank you pages
  • Sales pages

Remember, CTAs are a huge part of creating an effective content funnel. People need to be drawn to both the copy and design of your call-to-action. This is the way you’ll be able to capture their attention long enough to guide them through your sign-up process.

Related: How to Build Your Blog Audience (Like You Mean Business)

7) Thank You Page

WHERE TO PUT: THIS IS A CUSTOM PAGE

When people opt-in, you need a way to assure them that their freebie is on its way. That’s where a thank you page comes in. You literally say something like Thanks for signing up! Your freebie is on its way! And leave it at that.

Nope, sorry. In reality, we can’t leave it at that. 🙁

We need to dig into the real potential of thank you pages and help people take the next step. After all, they’ve already raised their hands and said yes, so they’re likely ready to build a relationship, or maybe even purchase a low-cost product. Now we’re talkin’.

This page has some serious lifting to do! First, think about what you want people to do. Then make sure your thank you page includes:

  • A confirmation message
  • Specific instructions on what to do next
  • A clear call-to-action (step #6 above)

Speaking of CTAs again, here are some great call to actions for this page:

  • Ask people to whitelist your email address
  • Share on social media
  • Register for a webinar or event
  • Purchase a low-dollar offer
  • Purchase a related or affiliate product

Whatever you do, please make this page a priority! This is a huge website optimization step. Don’t back-burner it or treat it as an afterthought. Your thank you page doesn’t need to be long and it doesn’t need to be pretty. It just needs to prompt people to take a very specific action.

8) A sales process

What I mean by this is that you need a system to deliver your freebie, prime people for future products, and nurture the relationship you’ve started to build with your subscribers. That’s where automated email marketing comes in.

What you want to do is to create a 2-email sequence (one to deliver the freebie and one to introduce an offer). Now I get that delivering a freebie doesn’t sound like a sales process, but let’s take a closer look, k?

First off, you send an email that delivers your freebie. No brainer, right? You’ll want to tag subscribers with this particular freebie and then you can:

  • Send them weekly updates and blog posts
  • Tell them about a product you’re creating that is related to the freebie and offers tons more value
  • Tell them about a service you provide, again related to the freebie
  • Share an affiliate product that will help them implement an action step in your freebie

Can you see how this is shaping up into a bangin’ sales process?

Now that you know your audience and what they’re trying to achieve, your job is to build a relationship with them and get them excited about buying.

Of course, I’m not suggesting you bombard subscribers with salesy emails, but you get my gist. Setting up an email sequence to deliver your freebie is the first step in building your sales process, and it’s all going to happen on the same platform.

Looking for an email service provider? I recently switched from Infusionsoft to ConvertKit and am loving it. MailChimp is a good option here too.

9) Plugins

WHERE TO PUT: SEE BELOW

Let’s take a look at some plugins that will help turn your website into a sales machine. I’ve already shared Thrive Leads and Thrive Content Builder, which you can purchase at Thrive Themes. Here’s how to use other plugins that will turbocharge your website:

Shareaholic

Put at the bottom of your posts

See the social media buttons at the bottom of this post? Those are share buttons from Shareaholic, which is a free plugin. Woop Woop! Share buttons encourage people to share your posts and send a strong social signal that your content is popular.

You can also place share buttons at the top of your posts or on the left side. I’m excited to try Social Warfare, but right now I’m shying away from their $25 monthly fees.

Contextual Related Posts

Put below your share buttons

A lot of what we’re doing with plugins is encouraging people to click through to other sections of our website. That’s exactly what Contextual Related Posts does best. Once you install this plugin, you can display 3-4 related posts based on the content of your current post. It’s easy to tweak the design too.

Google Analytics

Add to the <head> tag of your website

If you hired a sales person, you wouldn’t cross your fingers and hope for the best. You would track and measure their performance. The same is true with your website. You have to know which pages are most popular so you can optimize them for even more conversions.

Many themes have a clear section for adding Google Analytics, so you may not need this. But in case things get wonky and it’s not as easy as it seems, install this plugin, add your code, and you’re all set.

I recommend logging in to Google Analytics to check your site’s performance at least once a month.

Yoast SEO

Nothing to “put” here. Simply follow the SEO prompts at the bottom of the WordPress edit window.

Popping up in search engines doesn’t happen overnight, but anything worth having is worth waiting for, right? That’s how SEO works. You lay the groundwork, plant your seeds, and then wait for spring.

I’ve been spending a lot of time on SEO lately, and let me just say that it’s a big deal.

Get more traffic? Check.
Get clear on your ideal customers? Check.
Create better content? Check.

If you’re wondering how to make a blog post SEO-friendly and haven’t already installed this plugin yet, I say get on it. What Yoast SEO will do is prompt you with a checklist of things that will help you optimize your blog posts. Once you see a green light (right up there near the Publish button), you’re all set.

While this handy tool doesn’t replace SEO keywords or even Google’s ranking algorithms, it will help you optimize your posts with SEO-friendly content, title, headings, tags, descriptions, images, and more.

Need more SEO tips? I cover the basics of it here. If you want, you can also download the SEO checklist I created so you know how to get your posts ranked on Google. Click the image below to download.

SEO Checklist For Creating An SEO-Friendly Website

Related: 12 Blogger Plugins to Skyrocket Your Blog

Related: 7 Things Every Blogger Should Do After You Hit Publish

There you go! Those are my 9 website optimization tips to help you put your blog on autopilot and generate leads and sales while you sleep. Nite nite.

15 Ways to Make Your Brand Stand Out


15 Ways to Make Your Brand Stand Out | Struggling to attract your dream customers? Ready to stand out and get noticed online? This post was created just for you. It include 15 things bloggers and entrepreneurs can do to stand out above the rest and effortlessly attract your ideal customers. Click through to see all the tips!

15 Ways to Make Your Brand Stand Out | Struggling to attract your dream customers? Ready to get really visible and noticed online? This post was created just for you! It include 15 things bloggers and entrepreneurs can do to shape your brand for success and effortlessly attract more of the right people to your business.Hey there! My new kit, The Build My Brand Toolkit, is a ridiculously in-depth, step-by-step system FULL of everything you need to build an epic brand that stands out from the noise and grabs people’s attention. It may be just what you’re looking for! Learn more about the Build My Brand Toolkit

Does the thought of creating images, brand statements, and style guides put a big smile on your face?

I wrote this post a while back about creating a branding system for your business, and since then I’ve learned so many things that I can’t wait to share with you.

Now, to be fair, I can’t say that branding is my favorite topic just yet. To do it right, you’ve got to be relentless about every single detail and element. Ugh.

And does “branding your blog” even sound half as sexy as getting thousands of subscribers?

No to that…

But that’s not the question we should be asking. The real question is Why do we need to brand ourselves at all?

I’ve been thinking about this one for a while, and here’s what I’ve got:

  • First off, if we don’t define our brands, other people will do it for us, and that might not be a good thing.
  • If we’re going to stand out the way we truly want, branding is something we can’t afford to overlook.
  • Branding with purpose and intention will help us attract more of the right people to our blog.
  • We want visibility, baby!

We’re not building wallflower businesses here, k? We’re building climb-to-the-top-of-the-mountain, shout-me-loud brands that people notice.

So what are the things you can do to make sure your brand stands out above the rest? Let’s take a look!

1. Be consistent

This is one of the most important aspects of building a strong brand. There are a gazillion ways that people will find you and a gazillion different brands out there.

How do you rise above all that noise?

Pay attention to everything. Deets like your website, social media, fonts, colors, vibe, voice, the people you hang with, the emails you send, the way you respond to blog comments…all of it frames the way people think about you and your brand.

Your goal should be to present a consistent and harmonious brand image everywhere, online and offline.

For example, if you saw your pin in your Pinterest feed, would you immediately recognize your brand? That’s the kind of consistency and detail we’re aiming for!

2. Take a stand

You may not think this is an important step, and I get it. Trust me though, it’s a biggie.

Not only for the reasons listed here but because taking a stand will help you guide your brand in the right direction. Think of this as if you’re drawing a line in the sand between your tribe and everyone else.

Everything you do with your brand is going to etch that line deeper and deeper. With me?

Being 100% confident in what you stand for is one of the things that will help you effortlessly attract more of your dream customers. Those who heart what you heart will naturally be attracted to your brand’s purpose.

No better way to stand out than that, in my book…

3. Let your personality shine through

So, this thing just happened that’s a perfect example…

I’ve been creating some nutrition products with my brother, Dave, and yesterday he sent me a video to review.

Now, I didn’t have the heart to tell him this, but I started watching the first video and nearly fell asleep in less than 20 seconds.

His voice was literally knocking me out cold! It was completely dull, flat and lifeless. I honestly didn’t even want to hear what he was saying.

The funny thing is that I was so mesmerized by his earlier videos… I listened straight through each of them, stopping and pausing to take notes and rewinding to make sure I got all of it.

See the difference here? I wanted to hear more vs. couldn’t listen to another minute!

#LONGSTORYSHORT It’s your shiny personality (even more than what you say) that makes your brand truly stand out. Don’t be afraid to show the real you! Your audience will love you all the more for it, plus you’ll have a much easier time driving traffic to your posts. Promise.

4. Be your brand every minute

Hmmm…this one can be scary.

Truth is that building an epic brand isn’t something that just happens. You have to steer the ship, and one of the best ways to steer it in the right direction is to live and breathe your brand ALL THE TIME.

When I asked my brother what happened with his videos, he said that he just “wasn’t into it anymore”. He’d been working on those video trainings for so long, he just wanted to be done already.

Sound familiar?

We’ve all been there, where you feel like you can’t muster up the energy for another post, podcast, video or freebie. Creating content requires a huge amount of effort!

But what happened with Dave is an example of what happens when you forget to be your brand every minute.

Your content will start sounding off-brand and just plain icky, like you’re talking to a corpse. Definitely not the way to make your brand stand out!

#MORALOFTHESTORY Don’t push yourself through a funk just to “get it done”. This is one of those things where, if we really want to stand out, we have to be fired up and in character all day, every day. If you need to, walk away for a bit and come back when you feel more energized.

5. Tell your story

Want to really stand out among the hundreds of people in your niche doing the same thing as you?

It’s right there on your About Page! Bump.

No one in the universe has the exact same story as you, special girl. When you share the why behind your brand, and the experiences that make you so uniquely qualified to solve X problem, that’s where the magic really happens.

When you think about it, telling stories is a natural exchange. It’s what we all do when we make new friends. See how I worked my brother’s bit into this post?

What ways can you infuse your story into your content? How will you shake hands with your peeps to let them know that you get them and give them a peak into your world too?

6. Host a challenge

This one is so exciting! I’m about to launch my first challenge and have to admit I have a butterfly-in-my-stomach feeling around it. Wonder if you guys are going to like it or not? Guess I’ll find out soon!

If you’re curious, it’s the Higher Purpose, Higher Profit Challenge. It’ll walk you important things like:

  • Narrowing down all of your amazing ideas to just one
  • Finding the sweet spot in your business
  • Gaining clarity over the one thing you were born to do
  • Building a tribe around your brand

If you’re interested in this, let me know in the comments and I’ll keep you posted when the challenge starts.

I get excited by challenges because I think they’re a great way to connect with you guys and get a feel for where you’re at in your business, what you’re struggling with, and how I can tailor my content to help you.

7. Create a brand style guide

I know you’re probably thinking Do I really need a style guide right now? There are so many other things I have to focus on with my blog business. I can’t even get my head around this yet!

I’m with you on this one. I didn’t even think about creating a style guide until I was 2 years into my business.

Here’s the thing though:

I started noticing that my brand was looking a bit fragmented and all over the place. I was feeling fragmented too, and I knew my confusion was seeping into my brand materials.

Every time I created a pin, I’d start with a blank canvas, which for me was a big huge playpen. Every pin was an entirely new creation and experiment. Looking back, everything took much longer as a result. Oooh, let me try this pretty font. I really like this photo too, can I make that work? My pink color won’t work with the photo, though. It needs a peach color – lemme change it real quick…

Can you see things unraveling here?

There’s nothing wrong with creativity like this. But when you freestyle your brand in this way, things can start getting confusing for both you and your audience FAST.

So if you want to really stand out (and I know you do!), you have to create clear boundaries around your brand’s style.

It’s ok to experiment a bit until you find your voice, but at some point, you’ll need to pull in the reins and decide exactly which colors, fonts, imagery, and graphics you will use for your brand.

Since we’re on track to build an epic brand AND blog biz, and since all successful brands use style guides, we need one too, don’t ya think?

While you’re here, my new kit, The Build My Brand Kit, may be just what you’re looking for! A style guide is just ONE of the many brand elements you’ll create with the kit. It’s a complete done-for-you branding system that includes all your visual brand elements (logo, colors, fonts, social media templates, style guide) PLUS your brand copy (About page, Home page, blog tone and style) and more! Click the image below to learn more.
The Build My Brand Tool Kit gives you everything you need to brand yourself like a pro! Click here to learn more.

8. Check your online presence

Next up, take a look at your entire web presence and make sure it all fits your brand’s style and purpose.

Here’s a quick list of places to look:

  • Blog or website
  • Blog posts
  • Blog post images
  • Secondary post images
  • Opt-ins + forms
  • Forms
  • Buttons + links
  • Landing pages
  • Pins
  • Social media image templates
  • Social media profiles

I’m sure there’s more to add to this list. If you think of any others, please share!

As you go through everything, ask yourself these questions:

  • Do I have the same colors, fonts, and graphics everywhere?
  • Will people be able to spot my pins right way?
  • When someone reads my blog, is it fun and relevant to them?
  • Are there any odd graphics/images that jump out in an icky, outdated way?

You know what to do here…update, tweak, edit, delete. Woop Woop!

9. Update bios and descriptions

Your biz probably has experienced a lot of twists and turns as you’ve learned more about your audience and your business.

So my question for you is:

Are your bios and descriptions right there with you every time you shift gears or are they a few steps behind? If you’re like me, you check your Twitter profile every now and then and think Huh? That’s not me. That was like 6 months ago.

Let’s whip our bios into shape. We want to take people on our amazing ride, not leave them behind, right?

Here are a few places to look, edit, update:

  • Author bio
  • Blog sidebar bio
  • Speaker bio
  • Media kit
  • Social media profiles
  • Blogger outreach
  • Short description
  • Long descriptions

10. Master social media

Gotta get visible, baby!

Speaking of which, I wrote this post on creating a social media strategy that will help you stand out, get visible, and drive traffic.

What you want to do is to pick 1-2 platforms and really master those first. Don’t worry about trying to be everywhere at once. It’s not going to work (trust me, I’ve tried). Once you’re really making progress on those, move on to the others.

If you plan on starting with Pinterest, here’s how to get massive traffic from it.

What you’re really going for is to create a social media system where you engage and share on autopilot. That means your goal is to spend as little time on social media as possible. Social media can be overwhelming and time-consuming, so you don’t want to fall into a rabbit hole with it.

Ok, don’t shoot me for saying this, but…

When you’re starting out, you will need to spend more time than you want. If you hang in there with me though, this is another one of those things that will save you incredible amounts of time later on, once you set up scheduling, automation, and maybe even outsourcing. Pinky swear.

If you really want to level up your social media game, grab this social media cheat sheet and content calendar with 24 days of content to share.

A social media cheat sheet for bloggers and entrepreneurs so you know what to post and when, plus tools to help you automate everything from scheduling, to growth and engagement, and creating images.

11. Blog consistently

The second half of visibility, and something we can’t forget, is to post consistently.

It doesn’t have to be every day, and it doesn’t have to be 2x a week like some other bloggers tell you. I’ve tried like crazy to post more than once a week and just can’t do it! Grrrr…so frustrating!

Still, staying consistent with my blogging schedule (1x a week) has made it possible to grow my traffic to over 35K in just a few months.

So, we get it. We know that we have to blog regularly.

You’re probably thinking How do I get ahead of blogging? I always feel like I’m falling behind schedule!

Honestly, I’d love to know the secret to this one myself! Seriously though, there are a few things we can do to maintain a consistent schedule:

  • First, block out time at the beginning of the month to write all of your blog posts (you can use my time blocking template if you want).
  • Keep a laundry list of blog post ideas, arranged by theme. Use Evernote or Google docs for this.
  • Gather ideas in Trello. I’m so pumped about Trello, guys. I’ve just taken a peak and can’t say a whole lot yet, but it looks like you can create boards/cards for just about anything. Editorial calendar, anyone?
  • Create a weekly schedule where you write, proof, SEO, create images, and promote, all on separate days.

That’s all I have so far, but I’ll be looking into more ways to get ahead of blogging, because we need it!

Related: 32 Insanely Easy Ways to Boost Your Blog Traffic for Free

12. Watermark your images

Yep, you have to brand everything.

Add your logo, colors, fonts, and other brand elements to your blog and social media images. This way people will recognize your brand in their feeds.

And if you’re curious about how to share photoshopped images on Instagram, I highly recommend Planoly for uploading and scheduling posts directly from your desktop. Woo!

Related: How to Create Branded Social Media Images with Photoshop

13. Host a webinar

Another one I’m excited about. I’m no master of webinars yet (Amy Porterfield is all over this one). Buut, I have done 2 and they were much easier than I thought. Scary, but easy.

Here’s why you and I both want to do more of them:

Everyone’s blogging.
Not everyone is webinar’ing
.

So if we host more webinars, we’re sure to stand out from everyone else.  Let’s set a goal to do at least one webinar by the end of the year, k?

14. Review your offers

Silly question, would you rather be:

  • A commodity (just like everyone else)?
  • The go-to-authority (people seek you out for your expertise)?

Uh, duh… Of course, you’re the expert.

That means you have to be fierce about narrowing down your offers to just those things that you’re crazy passionate about and/or know really well.

The reason is that when you try to be all things to all people, you actually water down your brand and confuse the customers you most want to attract. They just won’t get that you’re a good fit for them.

The way to switch that all around is to review your offers every 3-6 months and make sure that they:

  • Fit your current brand statement and mission
  • Are unique enough to charge premium prices
  • Solve one specific problem for one specific person

If you want help here, grab my Find your Niche workbook, which covers all of this and more. Click the image below to download.

Click here to download my Find your Blog Niche Workbook!

 

What you’re aiming for is to wrap your offers in a pretty peach bow (insert your brand color), so your peeps know what box you’re in. 🙂

15. Update blog categories

Categories are easy to overlook because, well, you just don’t think about them every day, right? I happen to be going through a rebrand right now, which is why they’re fresh on my mind (and how I know that as your blog biz shifts, your blog categories will too).

Is it better to have tons of categories or just a handful?

It really depends on your preference, but here again, I recommend cutting the fat where you can. The more focused you can be, the better.

First of all, when you give people too many categories, they won’t know what to click on. Even I’m confused by the laundry list I see when I’m selecting categories for my posts.

Since we’re really shining brightly now, let’s get rid of this last fuzziness, shall we?

Take a look at your categories and narrow them down to just the ones that are relevant to your brand and audience.

Tip: If you have a WordPress blog, leave your existing categories as is, meaning don’t delete. It gets a little funky with SEO and XML sitemaps when you do this. Instead, add new categories and then manually update your posts.

So there you go! Those are my top 15 ways to make your brand stand out. Which ones are you working on?

 

 

12 Time Blocking Tips for a Super Simple Weekly Schedule


Time Blocking Tips for a Super Simple Weekly Schedule | Feeling overwhelmed by all the things you have to do? Not sure how you’re going to get them all done? This post will help! It includes 12 productivity hacks for entrepreneurs and bloggers to help you simplify your week and get tons of stuff done, PLUS a free time blocking template. Click through to see all the tips!

Weekly Time Blocking Template for a Super Simple Schedule | Feeling overwhelmed by all the things you have to do? Not sure how you’re going to get them all done? This post will help! It includes 12 productivity hacks for entrepreneurs and bloggers to help you simplify your week and get tons of stuff done, PLUS a free time blocking template. Click through to see all the tips!You know what every entrepreneur has in common?

We all have a million things to do, and not enough time to get it all done.

But feeling scattered, flustered, and generally overwhelmed can be one of the worst feelings, especially when we feel like we’re doing everything we can and want to focus on the “the right” things to take our blog biz to the next level. Having a to-do list that crushes you – instead of you crushing it – is just not going to work.

A while back I wrote this post where I shared the time blocking template I use to organize my week and get things done.

Hands-down, this is my most popular post to date! So if you feel like you’re juggling too many things and have no idea which to tackle first, you’re not alone, sister.

Today, I’m sharing a handful of things that will help you get the most benefit from the time blocking template, so that everything gets done in a way that makes you feel calm, centered and in control of your week.

Now, this is easier said than done, I know! But there’s a way to make sure you stay on track, and that has a lot to do with how you manage time blocking, which I’m going to walk you through right now.

Download the time blocking template here so you can get started.

[ SETTING GOALS AND TASKS ]

First things first, we need to set some goals so that we have a clear focus:

1) Create a high-level plan

Before we start time blocking, it’s important to have high-level goals and milestones in mind for what you want to achieve. If you’ve followed my last post, you already have or are working on your 12-month plan (at a minimum, your 3-month plan). This will make is so much easier to plan your week, because you’ll have clearly-defined focus areas and priorities.

When you’re creating goals and milestones, there’s no need to be uber-specific. That will come later. What you’re going for here is more of a bird’s eye view of your business and the general things you should working on.

2) Make a list of tasks

Next up, break down your big vision goals into weekly tasks so you can start achieving them.

Yep. I’m sayin’ it again because I really want you to get this. Make sure you set tasks for each of the 4 buckets from our Blog Profit Plan (content, traffic, subscribers, profit).

Beyond that, the most important step here, and what you can’t forget to do, is to prioritize your the tasks on your work schedule template. Some things on your list will be a high priority and others not so much. Your high priority tasks are the ones you MUST do, no excuses! That means when other things come up you postpone them or put them aside so you can address the things you absolutely have to get done.

I know, so much easier to say than to do! This is one of those things that will make a world of difference if you can stick to it.

Essentially, what you’re going to do is look at your tasks like this:

  • Must-do: will take over 2 hours
  • Must-do: 1-2 hours
  • Must-do: 15-30 minutes
  • Nice-to-do: over 2 hours
  • Nice-to-do: 1-2 hours
  • Nice-to-do: 15-30 minutes

If you want, you can use colored post-its to help you visually see must-do vs nice-to-do tasks.

Let me clarify one thing that will help you get the most benefit from time blocking:

Nice-to-do tasks are just that: it would be nice if you could get to them. That means it would be a major perk if, once you complete your must-do’s, you have extra time to crush these too.  If you don’t get to them, no sweat. You’ll simply roll them over to the next week (and I’m going to show you how to do this next).

Must-do tasks get scheduled first, and then nice-to-do’s get put on the calendar after that. With me?

3) Start time blocking

Nothing makes you feel more defeated than when you have a million things to do and at the end of the day you haven’t gotten to one of them. No more of that noise with time blocking, k? We’re going to know how much we can really get done on any given day so that we can feel pumped and excited!

How do we do it?

This is where we turn all of our “over 2 hour”, “1-2 hour” tasks into individual time blocks. Plus, we’re going to get very specific with what we plan to do each day, right down to each 15-minute break.

It’s important to include business and personal tasks in your time blocks. You want errrrthang in there. What that looks like is if your daughter’s play date is on Wednesday at 3 pm, you block out time for it. Dropping shirts off on Tuesday? Block it out, baby! You’d be amazed at how quickly managing your schedule like this will help you get more done.

It you want, you can grab my time blocking template. Click the image below to download.

Download my Time Block Template to help you increase productivity and get even more stuff done each week!

 

I want you to be super successful with time blocking, so the next steps are about working the template to get the most benefit from it. I’m giving you all the juicy productivity habits I’ve developed by using this killer tool.

Ready for it? Let’s start working the template.

[ HOW TO WORK THE TIME BLOCK TEMPLATE ]

4) Schedule must-do’s when you’re most productive

This is one those things that’s a biggie but doesn’t seem like it. Match your must-do tasks to your most productive hours. Are you a night owl? Or, maybe you like to get a head start before the world wakes up in the morning. what I’m trying to say is block out those times for your most important work. For instance, If you’re the most “on” in the morning, that’s when you want to write your content, NOT when you want to be commenting on Instagram or checking your email!

5) Schedule tasks at the same time each day

Maybe in the morning you create content, then you break for lunch at 1pm. In the afternoon you run errands, manage client projects, juggle meetings and appointments, and so on. Slotting recurring tasks like these at the same time every day will help you get into a routine with them.

For instance, I check in on social media in the early morning and then later in the evening, when I’m catching up on Hulu. I also use the mornings to coordinate with my team. The rest of the day is creating content and working on client projects. I also try to eat breakfast and lunch at the same time each day. I highly recommend approaching everything on your weekly schedule template like this, even those things that you can’t cancel because they involve other people (eg, play dates). Try to plan ahead so you can schedule them at the same time.

6) Include everything that might pop up

This is jumping off from the previous step. I’ve found that what derails my schedule more than anything else are the personal things I need to do that slip my mind when I’m planning the week. Like running to the bank. Like working out. Like going to pick up a prescription. Like running to Home Depot. Like… Like… Like…

All these things should go on your list. Now they may not be must-do’s, so you’d want to work them around your priority tasks. But if you need to do them, make sure you include them. Otherwise, you’ll think you can write that entire blog post today, but whoops! You can’t actually. Then that bleeds into the next day, and so on.

Once you start getting off track like this, it’s easy to feel defeated. A better way is to include everything you can think of so you set yourself up for success.

7) Focus on one task at a time

Whatever you do, stop multi-tasking. Like right now! There’s no way you can email a client, jump out to Facebook, create an Instagram image, schedule your social media, and write a post at the same time. So stop thinking that you can!

The solve here is to focus on the one thing you have to do right now. You’ve already blocked out time for it on your time schedule template, which means you’ve made it a priority and identified that it needs to get done. Now it’s time to follow through with it. Done means done here. Don’t start the next task until you complete the previous one.

Even if it means that you don’t get to that second task for 2-3 weeks, that’s the way it goes! You’re going to feel so much more accomplished this way because you won’t have a dozen projects up in the air, floating around in Neverdoneland.

8) Give yourself enough time to complete tasks

Sometimes there’s a gap between what you think you can do and what you can actually do. Kinda like ordering mussels, rock shrimp, and crab cakes when all you can eat are the mussels.

The reason for the gap is because some “over 2 hours” tasks are more like 8-hour projects. Heck, you may not even finish them in a day! That’s the kind of gap that can mess up more than just your schedule.

It sets off a domino effect where you feel like you’re falling behind, even when you’re actually rockin’ your to-do list. And that feeling all started from under-estimating how long a task would take.

The best way to avoid this is to be as accurate and realistic as you possibly can. Give yourself enough time to do the task, and even then, give yourself some wiggle room. If you think a task will take 3 hours, double up and set aside 6 hours for it (I find this is usually more accurate).

Whatever you do, don’t trick yourself into thinking you can get an 8-hour task done in 3. I speak from major experience with this one! I used to block out just a few hours to write my posts, simply because I wanted to be able to write them in under 3 hours. But it never happens! Like EVER. And I’ve tried so many times. Ugh.

Anyway, the point here is that by “wishing” my posts to take 3 hours, I’d plan the afternoon to get even more stuff done. In actuality, writing a blog post plus creating images is a full-day event for me, and I’ve learned to be realistic and block out the time I need. You will want to do the same thing with your time blocks.

9) Turn off your cell phone and email

Like the plague! It’s easy to allow yourself to get distracted. I actually find myself looking for distractions. I check my junk mail, Pinterest, Facebook, Instagram, anything I can get my hands on. I remember there’s that eggplant lasagna recipe I wanted to try. Whoops! Forgot to text my friend, Laura. Must do that too…

We’re all victims of shiny object syndrome. When something seems too far, too large, too hard, too unknown, we start reaching for busy things so we can feel productive.

But being busy isn’t the same thing as being productive.

What helps me stay extra focused is turning off my email, cell phone, and even social media during my most productive hours.

HOLD UP. Shut them down?

Yep. Log out. Turn them off.

Wait until the end of the day, mid-day, or whatever you choose to turn them back on. Point is to avoid temptations and distractions so you can focus on what’s in front of you so you can get it done. Your texts and emails will be there later. Promise 🙂

10) Review and reschedule

There will definitely, most absolutely, be tasks that you can’t get to. Plan for it. Know it. Whatever you do, don’t get flustered by it! In fact, you should expect it. That’s why we’re throwing a time blocking party! Woop Woop!

At the end of each day, review what you were able to get done and reschedule anything that didn’t get done. This way you’ll wake up fresh the next day, knowing where you left off and ready to tackle the new items.

Psst…Make sure you create include reviewing your schedule in the time blocking template. It usually takes me about 15 minutes (at the end of the day) to review what I did/didn’t get to and shuffle things around for the next day.

11) Train your friends + family

You have a set schedule, but let’s be real, you’re a one-person team and only you know that you need to get something done. So you’re answering to yourself here.

Your friends and family may not think the time spent on your blog biz is valuable (yet!). Or, maybe they think that because you work from home you have the flexibility to do, say, whatever…run to the dry cleaners, Home Depot, grocery store…you name it.

This is especially true when your biz is new and you’ve yet to earn money from it.

Here’s where you have to play 2 roles:

Role one: Employer
Role two: Employee

As the employer, you know the items on your list MUST get done. Then there’s the employee (hey there, that’s you too!). You’re also the person who has to get it all done. My point here is that you have a goal you want to achieve, and let’s be brutally honest, it’s only going to happen if you make it happen.

I recommend getting into a habit of saying “no” to random asks that interrupt your schedule. Now, I know from personal experience that you’re going to get push back on this one. If you hang in there and stand your ground, sooner or later the asks will stop coming. This step will get a whole lot easier. Pinky swear.

12) Organize your workflow

This is a biggie. Much bigger than I thought initially.

Where do you keep all the ideas that pop in your head every day? Do you use Evernote? How do you manage projects/team/tasks? With Trello or Asana? What about your files? Are they in Dropbox, and if so, how well organized is everything?

Having a cluttered desktop is the enemy of every effective weekly planner template, including the time blocker. I know this to be true. I’m notorious for creating a new Word doc for every new idea (gotta jot it down quick, right?). When I see them on my desktop the next morning, I’m instantly overwhelmed and flustered. It’s a whole different ball game when I take the time to place the docs in folders that make sense, with names that I recognize and understand.

I recommend coming up with standard workflows for all things administrative – right down to naming conventions – so you have what you need, where you need it, when you need it (and not a minute before). This will help you approach your day with a clear head so you can knock items off your list quickly.

If you want, you can use the time blocking template below to crush your to-do list.

Download my Time Block Template to help you increase productivity and get even more stuff done each week!

There you have it! What’s your favorite time management tool? Have you tried time blocking?

4 Focus Areas to Help You Build Your List Fast


4 Focus Areas to Build Your List Fast | Ready to get serious about getting more email subscribers? This post will help! It includes the exact 4 strategies I used to 10x my email list. Click through to get started growing your listYou know you need to grow your list, but what if you’re putting a lot of energy into it already and still only seeing 2-3 signups per day?

To that I say I feel your pain, friend. I was there not too long ago, and today, I’m growing my list at about 600-900 per month. Let me help you do the same…

Here are 4 focus areas for building your list and hitting your $$ goal:

1) Narrow down your niche

Why is this even important?

Because if you’re not growing your list as fast as you’d like, it could be that people don’t know how to digest what you’re writing.

People have a limited amount of space in their minds and need to be able to put you in a box. Give you a label, type thing. A girlfriend is different than a wife, a boy is different than a girl, a chair is different than a table. You get the gist. A travel blog is different than a cooking blog.

This doesn’t mean you can’t write about multiple things, but it does mean that people need to know what they are getting from you (and that niche is not a four-letter word!)

Plus, if YOU don’t even have an understanding of your own category, how can you expect others to? I’ve had so many clients come to me wondering why their content isn’t sticking, but then they stammer and stall when I ask them what they do and who they do it for.

To be fair, I’m at fault here too. When I first started blogging, I thought I was writing for my person but I was missing the mark entirely. Once I got my focus on, my list literally doubled, tripled and quadrupled.

#MORALOFTHESTORY Defining your one person and your one thing should be at the core of your list-building strategy.

2) Step up your social media game

Hopefully you’re optimizing your posts for SEO so people can find you through Google and Yahoo. But search traffic can take some time to build up. You have to be posting regularly and for some time before Google takes notice. In the meantime, start creating your own traffic source via social media.

Wanna know what that looks like?

Something like this:

  • You are everywhere, but then you pick 2-3 channels to become a ninja master of…You start building your audience, your business and your list at the same time.
  • You follow people who follow others in your niche. You follow people with relevant hashtags or keywords in their profile. You follow people who follow and comment on your posts.
  • Every time you publish a new post, share it everywhere. And then share it again a few days later. And then a week after that. And then one month later. I’m not saying you stalk people with your content, but the truth is you can’t be bashful about it. Feeds move quickly and your post can virtually disappear the minute you share it, so share it again and again to give it the best chance of people finding it. This blog promo plan will help you get started.

3) Create click-worthy freebies

Adding freebies (content upgrades) to my posts is the #1 thing that’s skyrocketed my list.

Ideally you’ll include a freebie in every blog post. Yes, that’s a lot to tackle but just so you know, it’s something to work toward. You can kick it off by adding a freebie to 5 of your most popular posts. If you’re curious, head over to Google Analytics (Behavior>Content>Landing Pages) to see which of your posts have the most page views.

What types of freebies to create?

The sky’s the limit. Cheat sheets, a PDF of the post, templates, swipe files, blueprints, checklists, Ebooks. Anything that will help your audience progress along their journey in a meaningful way. You don’t have to go crazy with it. Up to 10 pages is fine. It can even be a single page as long as it’s helpful. You don’t even need a fancy design. I know many successful bloggers copy their posts into Word, save as a pdf, and that’s it.

How to create your freebie?

My favorite tool is InDesign. There’s also Canva, Powerpoint, Keynote, Google Docs, Google Slides, and others.

Note: Not all freebies are created equal. Sign up rates depend largely on how relevant your post is to begin with, and how much your audience has a need for your freebie. Which, my friend, takes you back to tip #1.

4) Crank up the visual volume

This is a biggie. Such a biggie, and it’s still sinking in even for me. How your images look makes a huge difference in how much traffic your posts get.

You may know this already…over 75% of my traffic is from Pinterest, so it’s a no-brainer that I focus most of my efforts there.

HOLD UP – 75%?

Yep. Pinterest is huge for traffic. You definitely wanna get in on it. I literally spend hours tweaking, testing, refining, editing, chopping up my pins like some neurotic warrior princess.

And here’s how I know what visual content can do for your list:

A few months ago, I shared a pin that I knew would help my audience in a big way, and I wanted to share it in a BIG way too. So I saved my pin and kept checking in every day to see how many saves it got. After 2 weeks, it only got 400 saves and drove a tiny bit of traffic to my site. That bugged me, because a lot of people were missing out on my ridiculously helpful tip 🙂

So I created a second pin. This time I was more graphic, more descriptive. I made sure people knew what was behind the click and why they should take action. I even highlighted important points from my post. I went all out – there was no way people weren’t going to click, I thought.

And then poof! Just like that…

4 hours after I shared this new pin, it had more saves than the first one. PLUS, 15 people signed up within the first hour I shared it. Now get this. I was paying to promote my first pin, something like $200 a month. This new pin got more saves and shares than the pin I was paying for. That’s the power of visual content. I didn’t need to spend money to promote my pin anymore, because now I was getting crazy traffic.

#TIPOFTHEDAY Play around, look at other popular images, try different things, ABT (always be testing) and all that. If you know your post is what your audience needs, don’t settle for mediocre visuals. Make sure you shout it out loud and strong so it grabs people’s attention. Sometimes you have to shake things up a bit, right?

 

Free Fonts and Font Pairings for Web, Social Media and Blog Images


Font Pairings for the Web, Social Media and Blog Images! Plus, a FREE downloadable font inspiration kit to experiment with! Click through to see all the free fonts!

Hey there! My new kit, the Build My Brand Toolkit, is a ridiculously in-depth, step-by-step system FULL of everything you need to build an epic brand that stands out online. It may be just what you’re looking for! Learn more about the Build My Brand Toolkit.

I’ve been in a bit of a font craze lately, hunting for the perfect fonts to use for Pinterest and Instagram, and today I’m sharing some gems I discovered so you can use them too! If you want to rev up your creative genius even more, head over to dafont.com or Google fonts to find others you like – they’re all free. Woo hoo!

8 Font Pairings for Social Media + Blog Title Images:

Free Fonts and Font Pairings for Blog Images and Social Media | Get my complete font inspiration kit here. It's a great resource when you're looking for free fonts!Click here to download:

Helena Script;   Nexa Light;   Sweet Pea;   Marchy Script;  Playball;   Aaargh;   Gardenia;   Keytin;  Alex Brush;   Ecuyer Dax;   Chamomile Tea;   Thirsty Script;  Melanie BT;   KG Skinny;   Angelface;   Bebas Neue

8 Font Pairings for Web Headings + Text

Free Fonts and Font Pairings for Web Headings + Text | Get my complete font inspiration kit and resource to help you choose fonts for your brand.

Click here to download:

Montserrat;   Merriweather;   Minimo;   Pontano Sans;   Playfair Display;    Tradition Sans XLight;  Libre Baskerville;   Josefin Sans;   Melbourne;    Fauna One;   Raleway;   PT Sans;   Oswald;    Source Sans Pro;   Noto Sans;   Esteban

Fonts are just ONE of the many brand elements you’ll choose and create with the Build My Brand Toolkit. You’ll have an entire done-for-you branding system for all your visual elements (logo, colors, fonts, social media templates, style guide) PLUS your brand copy (About page, Home page, blog tone and style) and more. Click the image below to learn more!

The Build My Brand Tool Kit gives you everything you need to brand yourself like a pro! Click here to learn more.Some things to keep in mind when choosing fonts:

  • Make sure they’re super easy to read (no strain on the eyes, please!)
  • They should complement each other beautifully.
  • Test each character in a font family to make sure everything looks cohesive. Some fonts can have odd characters and numbers, like a  cap “G” that just looks funny, or a “17” that drops below the baseline and is hard to read. Play with the font a bit to make to make sure you’re happy with all of the characters and you won’t have any surprises later on.
  • Get creative with social media share images and blog title images. For branded quote images, why not try a bold condensed font paired with a delicate script? This will help you decide which of your title words you want to emphasize and draw attention to.
  • For your website, you can be creative with headings (think block-style or handwritten type). But for web text, stick with a simple sans-serif font. You want your readers to have an amazing experience when they interact with your brand without struggling to read what you’re saying.
  • You’d be surprised at how many interesting font combos you can create by using just one font family. To get the most out of each font, try to select a font family with many different weights (light, medium, bold, and black, etc). Open Sans and Source Sans Pro are great places to start here.
  • For logos, think about the uses and applications you’ll need for it ahead of time. I’m talking about more than your website here…uses like favicons (the icons you see in the web browser), social profiles, branded share images, and more. Your brand name and logo should be instantly recognizable, even in tiny pixels.

Want the Build My Brand Kit?

You’re seriously gonna looove it (I reach for mine all the time!). Learn more about the Build My Brand Tool Kit.

How to Write An About Me Page That Grabs People’s Attention

,

What Should I Include in My About Me Page | This post is for entrepreneurs and bloggers to help get people hooked on your blog and your business, why you do what you do, and how you can help them. Click through to get started!

What Should I Include in My About Me Page? If you’re asking that question, this post will help! It includes all the points entrepreneurs and bloggers need to cover to get people hooked on your blog, your why, and how you can help them. Click through to see all the tips!

You’re blossoming online, seriously putting your business out there and getting things done. Now you’re ready to show the world just how incredible and amazing you are. And you want new readers to be able to learn more about you and your business, why they should stick around and what’s in it for them.

Could it be time to create an epic About Page?

Absofreakinlutely. Today, I’m going to walk you through how to write an About Me Page so that you cover all of the important points to make this page one of the most useful and popular pages on your blog.

Here’s what your About Page should do

Preferably in this order:

  1. Communicate that you know who you’re speaking to
  2. Let them know that you get what they want / need
  3. Tell your story and how you can help
  4. Ask them to do something

That, my friends, is all there is to it. When you get this right, you’ll have all of the ingredients to grab people’s attention, make them fall in love with you, and turn those first-time visitors into raving fans and subscribers!

In a nutshell, your About Me Page is the story of you.

Correction.

Your About Page is the story of you AND them.

Your job is to weave these two legendary stories into an experience, or a movement even, that hooks people on your blog and your business. And also on YOU, your world view, how they connect with you, and why you’re the perfect person to help with their problem.

So how do we weave these two beautiful stories together? Let’s start by drilling down on each of the points above.

1) Who are you speaking to?

This one’s a biggie. Even though your About Page is about you, it’s mostly about your readers. You want to connect with them and let them know right away that you know who they are and what they’re struggling with right now.

Picture one specific person when you’re writing. What are their core desires? Being very specific with things like their name, age, where they work and what’s holding them back will help you visualize your person. Try to write as if this person is right in front of you.

Related: How to Attract Your Ideal Customers

2) What do they most want?

Next up, you need to show your audience that you know them and you get it. Let them know how you identify with them and their challenges and struggles. What is it that they want to do, but aren’t able to do right now?

I find it helps to describe their current situation, like this:

  • What do they have right now? (chaotic mornings, marketing that doesn’t work, not enough time, boring exercise routine, flat hair, tasteless meals loaded with carbs, you get the gist)
  • What do they want right now? (calm quiet mornings, effective marketing, time to do the things they love, exhilarating workouts, vibrant hair, delicious healthy meals, and so on)

What this helps you do is to understand the pain points your audience has in their before state, and what changes for them in the after state. Make sense? Then all you have to do is connect the dots and get them from Point A to Point Z.

Let your audience know how you identify with them and what their biggest challenge is right now.Click To Tweet

If we put steps #1 and #2 together, we can start to see a story unfold. For example, my audience is entrepreneurs and bloggers, so I lead with:

We’re a lot alike. We both want to make a successful career and life as entrepreneurs. Which means that neither of us can fall behind with the latest marketing trends. What we really need are operations and systems to put our brands out there strategically.

Can you how this About Me Page example is a perfect set-up for my story and how I help? But first it’s all about my crew, what they need, and how I relate to their problem.

When you’re writing your story, try to paint an uplifting picture that makes people feel excited about where they’re at right now. Infuse your story with inspiration, hope, and a sense of “we’re in this together”. Whenever possible, stay away from words like don’t, can’t, and no.

3) Explain what you do and how it relates to them

Next, tell the story behind your blog or business, sharing why you love to do what you do and how you got here.

This is where you share the story that only you have…your personal history, the obstacles you’ve overcome, how you view the world, what made you come to do what you do…you want all of you in there.

Make sure people understand how you’re uniquely qualified to help them and how you help.

What do you offer to help them bridge the gap between where they are and where they want to be? How will you take them from Point A to Point Z? What does it look like to work with you?

Paint as vivid a picture as you can, and as your story unfolds, let go of any idea of what your About Me Page is supposed to sound like. Just have fun with it and let the words flow. Pages are never perfect right out of the gate. That’s why we edit, edit, edit later!

All you need to do now is to connect with your readers and speak to them as you would a friend, so they can get to know the real you. Knowing you is the first step to trusting you, and you’ve got to earn their trust.

So just be real. Be bold. And leave your heart on the page.

4) What do you want them to do next?

Want to really know how to write an awesome About Me Page? Don’t make people guess what you want them to do.

Tell them!

Do you want them to check out how to work with you? Great! Make that easy for them and put a link at the bottom of the page.

Maybe you want them to read some of your latest blog posts. Again, let them know where to go next.

Maybe (just maybe!) you’re super sassy and want to encourage them to subscribe. Maybe you want an opt-in form to pop up when they reach the end of the page. If that is the case, let people know what they’ll get when they sign up. Tutorials and guides? Lazy Sunday craft ideas? Value-packed tips? Make it clear.

Point is, whatever action you want people to take next, make sure you are very explicit with it.

Whatever action you want people to take next on your About Page, make sure you are very explicit with it.Click To Tweet

Putting the stories together

So you know who you’re speaking to, what you do and how you help. But how do you create a story around that? How do you write a whole page that’s compelling and interesting and portrays both your audience AND you?

First, take a deep breath and think about that one person you’re speaking to. Is it your favorite client, or maybe someone you’d love to have as your client? Pretend you’re sitting in a room with this person or simply writing them a letter.

Answer these questions as though you are talking right to them and addressing them personally. I’m posing these questions as though I am your reader, so you can respond most naturally and directly. Take your time, and answer them one by one:

  • Who am I? What’s my name?
  • How am I feeling right now?
  • What am I trying to do but can’t?
  • What’s stopping me?
  • How do you know what it’s like and the feeling I have around it?
  • Why do you do what you do?
  • How can you help me?
  • What will change for me after YOU?
  • How will I feel when I’ve overcome this problem?

That’s a wrap! I plan on creating an About Me Page template to help you write your story. Let me know if this is something you’d like and I’ll set it up!