Website Optimization Time! 9 Must-Have Elements to Convert More Clients

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9 High-Converting Website Elements | 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 feel like your website should be working harder than it is? Say, do more of the heavy lifting in your business…maybe get on out there and bring you some fresh leads + customers already? Or maybe even let the universe know about your superhero talents and creativity?

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 10 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 of 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 specific 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 get clear on your ideal customer and your blog's focus.

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 interests and 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 of your interests…some kind of angle that your topics are pointing to so that people know what box to put you in.

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 even more on YOU, your business, and why you do what you do.

Don’t hold back here! Your personal history has led you to where you are right now, and that’s the story your peeps want to hear. I call it “the story of you plus them” because what you’re really doing is connecting the dots between where your readers are right now 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?

When you can weave your story in a way that answers these questions, you’ll start tapping into how your audience secretly feels and building an audience will become effortless. People will perceive you as having the solution and naturally want to work with you.

Whatever you do, leave your heart on the table! Don’t hold anything back.

Related: What Should I include on My About Page?

3) Great Design

WHERE TO PUT: EVERYWHERE!

How do you want people when they visit your website? Energized and excited? Deep and mysterious? Powerful and independent?

Details like colors, fonts and graphics have a lot to do with the mood of your 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 distractions or things 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

Ok, before we move on there’s one more thing that I don’t want to forget:

Whatever you do, when you’re first starting out please don’t spend too much time on this step! You want to get out there as quickly as possible so that you can learn more about your business, and it’s easy to fall into a rabbit hole with design. I know this is true…it’s happened to me over and over.

I recommend using a theme like Divi as a jumping off point. Add your content, change the colors, fonts, graphics and 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

This is where you start turbocharging your website. I love opt-in forms + freebies because they build your list behind the scenes while you’re not even looking.

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 address 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 and you can tweak these babies all you want and then save them as templates.

Any type of form I 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 and 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 of 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 them on an entirely new page. by putting them on a separate.

How is a landing page different from any other page on your site?

Great question! I scratched my head on this one too. 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! This page is all about your freebie 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 pages! Yours can be short and sweet (an image plus a few bullets points) or long and detailed (more copy, more images, more wow).

Wondering how to create 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 your brand. While I like these guys, I found that customizing the template was harder than I wanted it to be. Plus the $25 monthly fee is just 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 the 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. 🙁 We can’t just leave it there.

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 buy a low-cost offer.

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! 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 and Aweber are good options 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 are some others:

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 haven’t already installed this plugin, I say get on it! What Yoast SEO will do is prompt you with a checklist of things to improve your SEO. Once you see a green light 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 let you know how to better optimize your posts.

Need more SEO tips? I cover the basics of it here, and if you want, you can download the SEO checklist I created so you know exactly what to do in order to rank higher on Google. Click the image below to download.

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Related: 12 Blogger Plugins to Skyrocket Your Blog

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

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.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 be naturally 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, High 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 need a peach color…

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, grab this free style guide template + workbook to help you define your brand and attract more of your dream customers. Click the image below to download.

Download the style guide worksheet and template so you can get clear on your brand's mission and purpose and start attracting more of the customers you really want.

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…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!

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!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 right and really 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. We want to keep our momentum going!

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 (which you can download here), 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.

[ SETTING GOALS AND TASKS ]

First things first, we need to set some goals so we know what to focus on:

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 will know where you’re at in your business and specific focus areas to tackle each month!

When you’re creating goals and milestones, you don’t have to get super specific. Really what you’re going for is a bird’s eye view of your business, where you’re at, and things you should be focusing on.

2) Make a list of tasks

Next up, break each month down into weekly tasks so you can start achieving your big vision goals!

Yep. I’m sayin’ it again because 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 tasks. Some things on your list will be 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 to start looking 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 tasks 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!).

Nice-to-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 tons of stuff to do and at the end of each day you haven’t even gotten to them. No more of that noise with time blocking, k? We’re going to be able to see how much we can really get done sow we can start feeling amazing instead of defeated!

How do we do it?

This is where we turn all of our “over 2 hours”, “1-2 hours” 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, k?

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 3pm, 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.

If you want to use my time-block template so you can get started, feel free to download it below:

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 saving you tons of trial and error here, with all the juicy new habits I’ve developed just by using this killer tool!

Ready for it? Let’s work it!

[ 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 write content, mid-day you take a lunch break, in the afternoon you have some errands, client projects, meetings, appointments, etc. It really helps to do those types of recurring tasks at the same time every day so you can 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 schedule like this, even those things that involve other people that you can’t get out of. Try to schedule them around the same time each day.

6) Include everything that might pop up

This is jumping off from the previous step. I’ve found that one of the biggest things that derails my schedule is all of those things that I really need to do, but didn’t think of. Like running to the bank. Like working out. Like going to pick up a prescription. Like running to Home Depot. Like… Like… Like…

All of 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, write a post at the same time. So stop thinking that you can!

The solve here is to focus on that one thing you have to do right now. You’ve already blocked out time for it, made it a priority, and identified what you need to do first. Now you have to stay with it and get it done. Don’t start the next task until that one thing is done.

Even if it means that you don’t get to that second thing 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 big projects up in the air, not getting done.

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 way 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.

One of the biggest things that helps me stay 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 are definitely, most absolutely, going to be tasks 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 with me, sooner or later the asks will stop coming and this step will be 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 up throughout the day? Do you use Evernote? How do you manage projects/team/tasks? With Trello or Asana?

What about your files? Do you use Dropbox, and if so, how well organized is everything? I highly recommend getting all of these things organized, even down to how you organize your folders, so that they’re the same everywhere. When I look at a huge list of random files, I get flustered in about a second. But when they’re neatly in folders that I recognize and can understand, it’s a whole different ball game.

Developing a standard workflow and project management system will help you knock off items on your to-do list quickly.

If you want, you can download the time blocking template I created to help you crush your to-do list and feel pumped about everything you’re accomplishing. Click the image below to download:

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

Have you tried time blocking? What do you use to manage week? Let’s add it to the list!

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 fonts!

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

8 Font Pairings for Social Media and Blog Post Images. Plus, a FREE font inspiration kit with more retro, modern, script + handwritten fonts to try. Click through to see them all!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

8 Font Pairings for Web Text and Headings | Plus, a FREE font inspiration kit with more retro, modern, script + handwritten fonts to try. Click through to see them all!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


If you want, you can use the font inspiration kit I created with over 60 free fonts and font pairings to spark your creative genius even more. Click on the image below to download your kit.

Printable font inspiration kit: over 60 free fonts and font pairings to use on social media, the web, blog post images, and 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 a 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 kit?

You’re seriously gonna looove it… I reach for mine all the time. Click here to download the kit.

What Should I Include On My About Page?

,

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 see all the tips!

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, 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 structure your About 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 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 really 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, what’s holding them back, and so on will help you visualize your person. And you’ll be able to write as if they’re right in front of you.

Related: How to Attract Your Ideal Customers

2) What do they most want?

Then, you need to show them that you know them and you get it. Let your audience know how you identify with them and what their biggest challenge is right now. 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.

See how this is a perfect set-up for my story and how I help? But first it’s all about my peeps, what they need, and how I relate to their problem.

When you’re framing 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”. And whenever possible, try to 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 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 try 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?

Don’t make them guess! 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 case, let people know what they’ll get when they sign up. Tutorials and guides? Lazy Sunday craft ideas? Value-packed tips?

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… 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?

 

The Ultimate Guide to SEO for Bloggers and Entrepreneurs

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If you're ready to get more blog traffic but a bit stumped with how to start, this post shows you how to write SEO friendly blog posts so that more people find your content through Google and other search engines. It includes a free printable SEO checklist too!

The Ultimate Guide to SEO For Bloggers + Entrepreneurs | If you're ready to get more blog traffic but a bit stumped with how to start, this post will help! It includes the non-techie and semi-techie ways to optimize your posts for search that are easy to do. It includes a free printable SEO checklist too!Search engine optimization is a big topic that can easily trip you up.

At least it tripped me up for a while. I felt like I was chasing some SEO phantom and was never really sure what to do first, why it mattered, and how crazy I should get with it.

Because you can get kinda crazy with it.

I know even saying the word SEO can get you all flustered thinking about the magical ways you can poof! get your posts ranked just like that. But there’s really no need to get crazy, unless of course you want to. 🙂

SEO is just a clever way of saying Let’s create engaging, relevant content for our readers. That’s it. Then of course, if we just tweak our awesome content a tiny bit, we make it a whole lost easier for Google to find us.

I like to think of SEO as having 2 parts:

  • The non-techie part: creating great content
  • The semi-techie part: tweaking your great content for search engines

And the semi-techie part isn’t really that techie, so not to worry. Want I want most for you to get out of this post is that if you’re absolutely insanely determined to get crazy about SEO, get crazy on the non-techie part. That’s what you’re in the business of anyway, right? Creating remarkable content for your audience.

Lucky for you, content is the name of the game for Google and other search engines like Yahoo and Bing. So you’re already halfway to the finish line, clever girl. Plus, once you have a foundation of great content, you can always go back and make your posts SEO-tastic, one semi-techie tweak at a time.

My take on SEO, algorithms, indexing and all that

If you’re curious to know what SEO really means, I’ll take a crack at it but please understand I know only what I need to know. Anything more than that and my creative brain gets a little woozy. Here goes…

Jane is looking for something, say “faded bell bottom jeans” (because she’s so over skinny jeans). She types it into Google’s search bar and hits Enter. What Google is going to do next is crawl and index its pages to see which ones would be most helpful for Jane. Then it’s going to take those pages and present them to Jane in the search results.

Now you’re a fashion blogger and you just happen to know a thing or two about faded bell bottom jeans. You want Google to know that you’ve got bell bottom jeans covered and to include your blog in the search results for Jane.

How do you do it? Basically, you want to use every opportunity you can to tap Google on the shoulder and say “hey this site is about faded bell bottom jeans”.

We’ll get into more on this in the semi-techie part.

First, let’s dive into the non-techie part because this will be intuitive stuff and easy for you to execute, so it’s the perfect place to start. The steps I’m sharing here are interrelated, meaning that the first step flows naturally into the second, and so on. I’m structuring it this way so that you can get your head around what to prioritize when it comes to SEO.

With me? Let’s take a look.

Before we dive in, I created this SEO Checklist to help put what you learn into action.

Use this SEO Checklist to get more traffic from Google!

PART ONE: THE NON-TECHIE SEO STUFF

1) Write great content

Can I say this enough, ya think? Creating great content should be the hallmark of your SEO strategy. Write content that engages your readers. Make every post epic. Put your heart and soul into helping your audience, which I’m sure you already do. So we can check the box on this one, awesome blogger.

When you write great content, you’re going to check the box on a few other SEO must-do’s at the same time:

  • Write enough content / long enough
  • Well-written content
  • Include multimedia
  • Predominantly text-based

If you forget about the things I listed above and just focus on writing great content, you’re probably going to include 3-4 of these in your post without even realizing it. Let me explain how that’s so:

  • Long enough: First off, it’s going to take you some time to create a really valuable post – and by time I mean words. So right there, your post will be long enough.
  • Well-written: How can you create a highly valuable post without writing it well? You won’t. Because it’s not going to happen.
  • Multimedia: Next, because you’re all about creating remarkable content, you’re going to include multimedia wherever you can. Things like videos, images and anything you can think of to make it easy for your audience to digest your message.
  • Text-based: That last one is a no-brainer. Blogging = Writing = Text-based. Done and done.

Check. Check. Check. And check.

See how focusing on just one thing took care of all those others? I’m pointing this out because sometimes we get caught up in minutiae and forget the bigger picture. Let’s go forth and write epic, remarkable posts.

I have just one other thing to say before moving on from this: the most important ingredient to creating truly great content. Is.You. I’ve worked with so many clients over the years who get a little nutty about “differentiating their brand”. What I think they miss, and what we can learn from that, is that brands are built from the inside out. Your brand starts with you.

You know that other bloggers will have covered your topic for sure, so there’s nothing original you can add. Or is there? Hmm…well, you have a relationship with your topic. Maybe you’re BFFs or maybe you’re on your first date together. Either way, that’s the inside scoop your readers want. They want your experiences, your insight, and your thoughts around said topic. And that’s all you, baby!

I’m saying this because, let’s face it, people want more than for you to regurgitate the same content they can find on 20 other blogs. They’re looking for you to help them interpret things and make sense of them. So make sure you’re in each post you write.

With that out of my system…

If by chance you’re wondering how to make your posts even more valuable and useful, there are a few things you can do. I’m sure you have a good idea of your audience and already have a bucket of post ideas. Still, we can all benefit from understanding our readers even more, no? That’s where a little research can be your friend. It’s actually pretty easy to get inside the head of your readers, you just need the right tools to do it.

Related: How to Create a Content Strategy for your Blog

Social media

Spend some time hanging out on the same social media sites where your readers hang out. When you see posts that get shared a lot, you know you’re on to something.

I’ve found Pinterest can be an invaluable resource here. When I first started my blog, my posts were pretty off-target, meaning I was kind of circling around my audience but not quite landing on the sweet spot. I decided to spend some time looking at popular pins around my niche, really trying to understand who my audience was and what they wanted/needed. I recommend doing this kind of research on Pinterest, Instagram, even Facebook and Twitter.

BuzzSumo

BuzzSumo is another resource where you can find the most shared content around a topic, niche, or even industry. So let’s say you search for the topic “photo effect tutorials”. You’d be able to see which content performed well and where it performed the best – Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter, Pinterest or Google+.

SEO for bloggers tip: Use BuzzSumo to get ideas for epic posts.

The idea behind BuzzSumo is to find popular content and then beat ‘em. Write something better, more epic, more detailed. Use more photos, a better design, more points, you get the gist. But I digress, because you’re already doing that :).

BuzzSumo is also useful if you need help finding out where your audience spends their time. When you see posts related to your niche are viral on Twitter or Pinterest, you know that’s where your audience is. Check out this post for more on BuzzSumo.

Google Keyword Planner

Let’s look at another way to research using Google Keyword Planner. Just so you know, this is going to help you with your keywords too, which is one of those semi-techie things I’ll get to next.

For the non-techie part though, the keyword planner is really great for understanding what people are searching for around your topic. Let’s say you know you want to write a post about SEO but aren’t sure which subtopic to focus on. You can use the planner to get some ideas.

What I love about it is that you get back hundreds of other ideas that you can use for future posts too. So in addition to being a powerful keyword research tool, it’s also a great brainstorming tool.

SEO for Bloggers + Entrepreneurs - use Google Keywor PlannerNow that we have the non-techie SEO tips covered, let’s get into the semi-techie stuff…and remember, you got this!

PART TWO: THE SEMI-TECHIE SEO STUFF

2) Use keywords that make sense

You know how we said you want to tap Google on the shoulder? This is where we start tapping…

Let’s say you just used the keyword planner to brainstorm a blog topic. It kinda makes sense to use that keyword throughout your post, right?

For instance, this blog post is about SEO for bloggers, so that’s the keyword I’ll use. And all that really means is that I think that you as a blogger might search for that phrase.

If you’re curious, a keyword is really a phrase and not just one word. Why is it called keyword, you ask, why not keyword phrase? I don’t know. What I do know is that using one word is too broad. If I use the keyword SEO for my post, you can be pretty sure it would be hiding out somewhere on page 357 of search results. You need to be more specific with keywords, so just remember we’re really talking about keyword phrases. With me?

Ok, so now I have my keyword SEO for bloggers, here’s what I’m going to do next (and what you should do with your keywords too). I’m going to strategically add it to my post, in these 7 places:

1) The blog title

If you only have time to change just one thing in your post, make it your blog title. You want to make sure you include your keyword in your blog title and try to keep it under 55 characters. That’s about where Google cuts it off.SEO for bloggers tip: add your keyword to the blog title!

2) The meta description

Meta descriptions are less about SEO and more about writing something that will grab people’s attention in the search results so they click through to your post.

SEO for bloggers tip: add your keyword to the meta description.But they’re still important and you want to include your keyword here too. Try to keep your meta descriptions at about 160 characters. Google will bold any keywords in your description so they stand out when people search.

3) Throughout the post itself

Sprinkle your keyword a few times throughout your post. Usually in the beginning where you’re introducing your topic and then again at the bottom, you can naturally fit it in. If you can weave it in a few more times in your post, you’re doing great!

4) In headings (or H2 tags)

Headings are your friends. They help to organize your content and make it easy for people to follow along. See how this post has sections with headings? They help you know what I’m about to say, right? They make it easy for you to read and keep track of where you are (at least I hope they do!)

Again, don’t go crazy here, but you wherever you can, try to make your keyword part of your headings too. Don’t force it though. If it works, great. If not, leave it alone. You don’t want to look spammy or start stuffing keywords in there just because… There are plenty of other places to include your keyword.

5) The alt text in images

Yes, it true! People can find your content through an image search. A few years back a fashion designer friend/client told me that people actually found her through the images on her website.

What images are we talking about, and what the heck is alt text?

To start, you know the image you share on social media and on your main blog page? That’s your main blog image. And since you’re an epic blogger you probably have a few images inside your content. Yep, you got it. Keyword there too.

Now for the alt text. Alt text is the text that appears in someone’s browser in case for some reason the image doesn’t load. In WordPress, this is where you can edit it. And while you’re there, add the keyword to the image title too.

SEO for bloggers tip: add your keyword to the alt text of your image.If you want to be extra clever for Pinterest, make your alt text something elaborate and descriptive so that when people save your pin, your description is in there.

6) Image names

Same thing for image names. All those images we mentioned above should include your keyword as a part of their name. What I like to do is to use my post title as the name of my main image, and then play around with different versions of the name for any secondary images.

For instance, the alt text for my main post image might be something like:

12 Blogger Plugins That Will Skyrocket Your Blog | Here’s a list of plugins I use on my blog and what I use them for. I’m hoping that a few of them will be useful for you too. Click through to see all the plugins!

And my image name would be:

blogger-plugins-to-skyrocket-your-blog.jpg

7) In the post URL

We’re almost there. The last place you want to include your keyword is in the URL of your post (for WordPress, this would be your permalink).

Adding keywords to your permalink is another blogging for seo tip.See how the URL for my SEO for bloggers post is conversionminded.com/seo-for-bloggers/, and not some strange set of numbers, like conversionminded.com/2017/5/6/, or even conversionminded.com/p25?. That’s what you want yours to look like.

Note: If you need to change your URL after you publish your post, use this redirection plugin to redirect people to your post’s new home instead of a Page Not Found.

 

Phew! You made it. Glad we got that out of the way. I bet you’re probably thinking That’s great, Sandra, but how do I get my keyword in all these places?

Stay with me, friend, here’s how:

3) Install the Yoast SEO plugin

You don’t have to remember all of these content tweaks on your own. If you use WordPress, the Yoast SEO plugin is indispensable. It’s actually the second on my list of blogger plugins that will skyrocket your blog.

Think of Yoast as your SEO detective. Once you install it, you’ll see a section beneath the edit window of every post for you to enter your keyword, create an SEO blog title (which should be just slightly different than the title at the top of your WordPress dashboard), and write a meta description.

Blogging for SEO tip: use Yoast SEO to optimize your content.From there, the Yoast plugin will prompt you with a list of content checks to help you optimize your post for search. These will include prompts to add the keyword to your content, URL, images, headings, and the other places we covered above.

Related: 14 Things to Do to Every Blog Post Before You Hit Publish

4) Link to other blog posts

Let’s say you’ve been blogging around a theme for about a month and have a number of related posts. When you start linking to other blog posts, you’re essentially ‘interlinking” these posts to each other.

Links are a big deal to Google. It’s tricky to control external links, meaning links from other sites back to yours, but interlinking is something you can do on your own.

The more you do it, the more you cast a vote for your site’s popularity, so Google will start to pay more attention. Interlinking also helps Google to understand what your post is about. The more it understands your content, the more frequently (and higher) it will start to show it in search results. Interlinking also encourages readers to spend more time on your blog, which Google loves because then it knows that people love your post = relevant.

Here’s an example of interlinking.

5) Check your site speed

People like fast sites. And Google does too.

It actually penalizes sites that take a long time to load, meaning that it will not rank you as highly. So site speed is a ranking factor for Google.

To check how quickly your site loads, use Gtmetrix, Pingdom and Google Pagespeed Insights. You want to shoot for under 5 seconds.

So what can you do to make your site faster?

Site speed can open up a whole can of worms, which can get pretty techie. But one thing you can do is to make sure your images are optimized and compressed. I use TinyPNG to reduce the file size of all my images, and I highly recommend trying it out.

It’s very simple to use. Just upload your image and then download the compressed version of it. Sometimes it will compress your images by a lot and other times just a little. Every little bit counts.
SEO for Bloggers tip: Use TinyPNG to compress your files sizes and increase your site speed.

6) Social media

Ok, I’m throwing this one in here. Social media doesn’t have much to do with the SEO of your actual blog posts, true. Everything we’ve covered so far has to do with what’s called “on-page SEO”, which is just a cool way of saying it’s all the SEO tweaks you make to your own posts.

Then there’s this thing called “off-page SEO” which is about getting those external links I mentioned earlier plus other things, including bookmarking and social media.

If we just look at social media, Google likes it when you’re active on social media and have a solid following, so much so that it is actually a ranking factor.

I bring it up here because I’ve found social media to be a huge traffic source. So not to get too stressed out, but worth mentioning that while you’re writing great content and making your SEO tweaks to it, why not start building a following? It’s really a win-win… Google will start to see how popular you are, plus you’ll be creating a separate traffic channel for your business. All on your own…

 

How to Increase Productivity and Get a Massive Amount of Stuff Done Each Day


Ready to turn your to-do list into a Get-It-Done Action Plan? This post will help! It’s a simple guide for entrepreneurs and business owners to help you prioritize goals, and identify specific tasks to achieve them. It also includes my secret “increase productivity” weapon – the Time Block Template. Use it to create a visual calendar so you know exactly what to do to each week. Click through to see the whole guide!I used to think I was super productive every day in my business until I realized that no…not so much.

If that sounds confusing, hang in there with me.

I was getting stuff done for sure, just not the right stuff.

I’d start writing a post and get briefly distracted by an email. Then I’d get up, go get a drink, come back, log in to Pinterest, check my feeds, log in to Skype, check my junk mail…

…and back to writing again.

Then a text would come through and I’d get sidetracked. Again.

Sound familiar?

Being an entrepreneur is tricky business. It’s easy to feel flustered and even a bit scattered. There’s so much we have to do, so many reasons to procrastinate, and tons of shiny bright things to take our attention away from the one thing we should be doing.

Oh, and by the way, how do we even know what that one thing is? How can we tell if what we’re working on right now is a must-do or if we’re just spinning our wheels?

I’ve been spending a lot of time on this and think I finally nailed it…

Here’s a short list of things that have helped me stay laser-focused and finally (finally!) get tons of the right stuff done. I hope they help you increase productivity and rock your To-do list too.

With me? Let’s dig in.

1) Get serious about your biz

I know this for sure. It’s super easy to put something down on paper, up on a wall, in Asana, Evernote, or whatever your project management tool is… then let it slide until the next day.

No big deal if you don’t get to it, right? You just start a new list. At least you’re doing something. 

Be honest, how many times have you started to write a post but didn’t finish it? Or it was on your list but somehow you didn’t get to it?

Me too…

It feels good to see a whole mess of things you have to do…makes you feel proud and accomplished. Look at how busy I am! Kinda reminds me of the way I hang out in my workout gear all day and think about going for a run. 🙂

At some point along your entrepreneurial journey, though, you’ve got to buckle down and start taking your business (and yourself) more seriously.

I know this is true. It happened to me. Just a few months ago, something shifted and I got serious about my business. I stopped making lists, at least for a while. I stopped checking my junk email 10x a day and spending hours on Pinterest.

The only thing I wanted to do was get things done. And I knew exactly what those things were, even without my list!

When your business really, really matters to you, you know what you have to do. It’s crystal freakin’ clear, friend.

When your business really, really matters to you, that's when you start getting things done. Click To Tweet

 

So my question for you is: What’s stopping you from taking your business seriously? In my case, it was lack of confidence. If this is the same for you, please know that you got this. I’ve got your back. Let’s do it together…

Let’s get super serious. Let’s trust our instincts.

This post is set to publish on Friday. I wanted to put it off because well, it’s been a crazy week and I’m beat. But I’m all serious business over here, what about you? Got a post due tomorrow? Shut down your email, stop surfing, conquer your FOMO, and block off the time to do it. We’ve got work to do! Let’s get it done…

2) Set the right priorities

You know I love my phases of business. We’ve got the early phase, the growth phase, and the blow-up phase.

Knowing what to do starts with looking at which phase you’re in, and then working back from that. This is because your goals will be different for each phase.

Let’s take a look.

In the early stage, your goal is to set a foundation and create a platform for your business. If this is you, your priorities are:

  • Brand development
  • Website, social profiles
  • Blogging
  • Building a following
  • Growing your email list

In the growth phase, you’re getting traction in your business and making some money. Your goal in this phase is to start shifting your business model from one-to-one, to one-to-many. Your priorities here look like:

  • Course creation
  • Webinars
  • Influencer marketing
  • Outsourcing non-core tasks

In the blow up phase, everything’s clicking. You’ve found your sweet spot, your courses are hugely profitable, and your webinars are converting off the charts. Your goal at this phase is to scale your business, so your priorities are:

  • On-demand webinars
  • Building a team
  • Advanced tools + automation

After that, the sky’s the limit! Now that you know your priorities, you can break them down even more and start taking action, which leads me to…

3) Turn your priorities into an action plan

There are a few ways you can do it.

1) Use the Eisenhower method

Named after former President Eisenhower, of course!

If you’re curious, this is just a simple box Eisenhower created to organize his own enormous to-do list. It’s become hugely popular because it works, and maybe it’ll work for you too. I actually prefer another method which I’ll share next, but I do like the way the box shifts my thinking.

Here’s what it looks like:

Use the Eisenhower box method to increase productivityHere are my big takeaways from the box:

  • Only do what you need to do right now – nothing more or less
  • Stop watching TV and wasting time
  • Always be thinking about what you can delegate

To be honest though, just about everything in between the Dos and Don’ts is where I get tripped up with this. I’m the kind of girl who has to know exactly what my week looks like. I’m always thinking After today, then what? And what about this HUGE list I have here:

Turning a scattered list into a To-do list on steroids will drastically increase productivity.

Here’s why I prefer this second way…

2) Use my Time Block Method

If your list looks anything like mine, it kinda sorta makes you want to take a nap. The problem with this list is that everything is a priority. How do you know what to do first?

Enter confusion and procrastination.

Let’s not get caught in that trap, k? Let’s break things down into manageable blocks of time.

The Time Block Method uses a simple Excel template that turns my scratchy list into this:

Increase productivity with my Time Block Template and guide.

Related: What to Do When You Don’t Know What to Do Next

See how I’ve included even more things on the spreadsheet? That’s because I’m keepin’ it real, yo. Nothing derails my day faster than things that come up out of the blue.

It’s usually the stuff I know I need to do but pretend I don’t, until of course Wednesday comes and yep, I do have to run to the bank! So now I make it a point to include both personal and business tasks on the spreadsheet.

If you’re curious about the parentheses, all it means is the number of times a task needs to be performed. For instance, let’s say you estimate 4 hours to pitch a guest post, but you don’t want to do it all at once. Instead you want to work in smaller blocks of time. You’d put a (2) next to the task, which means do it twice. In this case, each time block would be 2 hours, for a total of 4.

Want to grab a copy of the template? You can download it here.

We’re almost there, just one more step to go…

On a separate spreadsheet, you transfer your time block onto a visual calendar so you can see your entire week at a glance.

Here’s what that looks like:

One of the best ways to increase productivity is to create a visual calendar with all of your week's tasks on there.

In this example, I bit off more than I can chew with my scratchy list. Some things are going to spill over to the next week. But the difference between a scratchy list and my Time Block Template is that things gets very specific. You know exactly what you plan to accomplish and how much time it will take. You also get a feel for your work habits this way and start to plan your time according to the way you like to work. Plus, you can re-prioritize tasks based on your must-do’s and how much time you really have each day.

Tip: I added Asana to my toolkit a few months ago and absolutely love the way I can assign tasks and track everything. What I do is enter the tasks/time-blocks from my calendar and then assign them to either myself or my assistant, with deadlines for each task. Asana even sends me reminders, which helps me increase productivity even more by keeping me focused and on track with projects. I highly recommend checking it out!

If you’d like to use my Time Block Template to be more productive than you already are, you can download it below.

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

I hope these tips help you get a massive amount of stuff done! What productivity tools do you use?

How to Choose Colors That Will Make Your Brand Stand Out Online


How to Choose Colors That Will Make Your Brand Stand Out | Do you love creating mood boards and collecting colors, but then find yourself a bit stumped with how to apply them to your brand? This post will help! It includes tips for entrepreneurs and biz owners to help you select and apply your brand colors with purpose and intention. Click through to see all the color tips!!

How to Choose Colors That Will Make Your Brand Stand Out | Do you love creating mood boards and collecting colors, but then find yourself a bit stumped with how to apply them to your brand? This post will help! It includes tips for entrepreneurs and biz owners to help you select and apply your brand colors, with purpose and intention. Click through to see all the color tips!!

Color is such a huge part of how we experience the world. Everything in our world is made up of different colors. Some inspire and excite us and others can make us feel a bit down.

What does that mean for your website and brand? I think one of the hardest things with color is knowing how to apply it so that your brand stands out without being a freak show of colors. There are so many sites where you can get ideas for color palettes, but then what do you do with them?

I put together this quick guide and free printable color scheme kit that will help you choose (and apply) your brand colors with intention and purpose.

Choose a primary color

The first thing to do if you want to build an epic brand (and of course you do!) is to identify your brand tone. This really means deciding how you want your brand to look, feel, and sound to people.

Once you’ve done that, simply assign a color that matches your brand’s tone. Whichever color you choose will become your brand’s primary color. To help you decide, here’s a list of some colors and the moods they evoke:

  • Red: strong, powerful, fun, youthful, confident, exciting, loud, vibrant
  • Orange: friendly, energetic, unique, positive, upbeat, spirited
  • Yellow: happy, sunny, enthusiastic, positive, cheery, warm
  • Green: calm, refreshing, healthy, green, abundant, natural, motivated
  • Blue: open, airy, calm, credible, reliable, safe, serene, trusting, modern
  • Purple: creative, lush, luxurious, mysterious, regal, romantic, seductive, sumptuous, wise, powerful, strong, safe, timeless, edgy
  • Gray: neutral, boring, depressing
  • Beige: neutral, picks up traits of surrounding colors
  • Ivory: neutral, clean, simple, easy

Red gets more clicks

You know how a red top makes your shoulders look bigger and a pair of black pants makes your hips look smaller? Color has a lot to do with our visual perceptions of size.

If you play with color like this you can make certain elements stand out and grab people’s attention, even when they’re smaller.

Red and orange are like this – they get noticed online. They’re “action” colors. They look bigger than they are and grab your attention pretty quickly. People want to click on red and orange.

Just look at your Pinterest feed. Which color stands out to you the most?

Turn your primary color into an action color

Ok, so red stands out more. But what if red or orange doesn’t match your brand personality? Let’s say your primary color is blue. You can still make it stand out so people notice and click it. You just have to be more careful with how you apply it.

When you look at this shopping list, which word do you remember?

  • Apple
  • Orange
  • Banana
  • Pineapple
  • Lemon
  • Blueberry
  • Strawberry
  • Melon
  • Kiwi

Pineapple, right? This sounds pretty obvious, but when you have the same colors on a page and then one that’s different, that element is going to stand out more. This is called the “isolation effect”. You’re isolating that one color so it stands out more.

You can use the isolation effect to turn your primary color into your action color. This is just another way of saying that it’s the color you want people to click on. If you choose your color scheme with intention, which I’ll get into next, you can train people on your action color. Basically your action color needs to stand out from your other colors.

Compare color palettes

I love creating different color combinations. So much fun! Before you choose your brand’s color scheme, play around with some different color palettes for inspiration. Here are a few sites that I like:

  • Kuler  – Want to know what colors go with purple? Use the Kuler color wheel and select a rule (complimentary, shades, compound) to create different color schemes. It will give you the Hex code and RGB values for each color. You can also explore their library for ideas.
  • COLOURLovers – A community of creatives from around the world who share their color palettes. What I love about this site is that you don’t have to know a color’s Hex code to start getting ideas. If you want an orange color scheme, just search for “orange” and you’ll see tons of different orange color palettes.
  • Coolors – This one is probably my favorite.  It’s a color scheme generator that gives you an entirely new set of colors every time you press the space bar. Once you see a palette that includes your primary color, you can tweak the hue and saturation or even choose a different shade to see how that new color looks paired with the others.
  • Pictaculous – Super cool and tons of fun! Want to create a color scheme based on a photo or an image? Upload it to Pictaculous and it will generate a color scheme from it, plus additional color combos from Kuler and ColourLovers. Here’s the palette it generated from my image:

Pictaculous - color palette generator from an image

Create your own color scheme

Now that you’ve got some ideas for colors to pair with your action color, the next step is to create your brand’s color scheme.

First, a note. It’s fun to experiment with different colors and that’s okay at first. But then you’ll want to narrow it down to 3-4 colors so your brand doesn’t seem a bit all over the place. The most successful brands are strategic and cohesive with their brand elements, and you want to be successful too! So when you think color, think strategy.

Some more thoughts on color schemes:

  • Every color should have a specific purpose. Don’t just choose colors because you think they look pretty together. Of course you want that, but what’s even more important is how you apply colors to your brand elements, e.g. headings, titles, text, icons, buttons and links.
  • As I mentioned before, your action (primary) color is the one you really want to pop. Save this color for your links and buttons.
  • Choose 1-2 neutral tones for backgrounds. Neutral tones aren’t necessarily exciting, which is exactly what you want. Neutral make your action color stand out. They also work like white space to open up your page and break up contrasting colors.
  • Choose a contrasting and darker color for backgrounds, headings and text.
  • Ideally, your heading color should be different than your action color. This can be tricky depending on your color scheme, but is definitely something to keep in mind. If you use the action color only on buttons and links, your readers won’t be confused about what to click on.

If you want, you can download this as a printable kit to help you choose your brand colors. Click on the image below to download the color scheme kit.

Download the free color scheme kit to help you choose and apply colors to your brand!

Was this post helpful? What’s your brand’s color scheme? I’m happy to take a look and provide some guidance if you need!

 

 

 

 

How to Create a Brand Style Guide for Your Blog

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How to Create a Style Guide for Your Blog or Business | A style guide for your blog will help you be consistent, cohesive and harmonious with all of your important elements, plus save you time because you won’t have to stop and think about how to design your Instagram image or how to format your next blog post.I get it. And I’m sure you get it too. How important it is to really know your brand on a deep level. Things like:

  • What you stand for
  • Who you’re writing for
  • How you want people to talk about your brand
  • What your mission is

So. What’s next? What do we do with everything we know? I think maybe first, we should step back and take a minute to realize how incredibly amazing it is that we have the power to define how people experience our brands. And that the only thing that stands in between us knowing our brand and our peeps knowing our brand is…

…how well we communicate it to them.

That’s where having a brand style guide can help. A brand style guide is a document that will help you build your blog brand by being consistent, cohesive and harmonious with all of your important elements. It covers how you plan to treat things such as fonts, colors, images, icons, tone, messaging, and more. As I mention in this post, a style guide will save you time because you won’t have to stop and think about how to design your Instagram image or how to format your next blog post. And it will make it easy for people to recognize your brand online.

Before we dig in to how to create a brand style guide, I have to say one more thing because this is so very important and I don’t want to forget.

Let go of being perfect

Creating a style guide template is usually one of the last things I do when I launch a blog or a business. Why, you ask? Because I know me. I can get pulled into a design rabbit hole really, really quickly. I’m the world’s biggest perfectionist and I can get hung up on every last detail, the kinds of things others don’t even see. I’m a Virgo and that’s what we do, right?

The practical, business side of me doesn’t like falling into rabbit holes. That’s why I wait to create a style guide template for my blog until I have more information. There’s a lot that can happen in a year, especially if it’s your first:

  • Your audience can change
  • Your vision can change
  • Your products can change
  • Your tone can change
  • And more

So here’s the big question:

Do you need a brand style guide now or can it wait?

The short answer is Yes, you need one now. As I mentioned, it will save you time. But…

…how much time you spend creating it should be directly related to how long you’ve been in business.

If you’re just starting out, don’t spend a ton of time on a style guide. It’s too early in the game for a deep dive. Give yourself a certain amount of time each day or each week, depending on your schedule. Building a blog brand is important, but please don’t get hung up on things like finding the perfect font or the perfect colors. It is so much more important to get out there and start to interact with and build your audience! You’re going to learn so much about yourself and your peeps, and then you can bring that information back to the table and tweak and refine and edit your brand style guide until your heart’s content.

If you’re in a momentum or growth stage, congrats! You’re starting to establish your brand and really know who your readers are on a personal level. You’ve developed things like your tone and your blogging style, maybe you’ve pivoted your brand position once or twice and tweaked your offerings to get them where they need to be. You’re probably due for a complete style overhaul. In this case, you can and should spend more time on your style guide template.

For this post, I’m going to assume that you’re in the early stages of your blog. I really want you to get that things don’t have to be perfect to build a strong brand foundation, so I’m structuring this post as a quasi-challenge. If you’d like me to turn this into more of a formal challenge, where we break it all down and get things done each day, just let me know in the comments please.

Day 1: Create a Mood Board

This step is easy and fun! Gather inspiration. Don’t edit your ideas. Just find things you like. Create a private Pinterest board where you gather everything that inspires you on to a “mood board”. Pin anything that grabs you, especially:

  • Colors
  • Fonts and font pairings
  • Images and photos
  • Icons and graphics
  • Textures
  • Interiors, workspaces
  • Fashion styles
  • Anything else that grabs you

So week one is about igniting your creativity…

Day 2: Edit Your Mood Board

Look at your mood board. Do you see any common themes emerge? Is there a specific color you’re drawn to more than others? How about textures and fonts? Maybe it’s a certain contrast of colors that really grabs you. Or maybe the images make you feel a certain way. Try to get specific about why each element captures your attention. This will help you to recreate that mood/tone in your brand.

And! There’s no right or wrong answer when you’re doing this other than to identify the images, titles, colors, elements, and so on that make you feel the way you want your readers to feel. One of the biggest things that will help you create a brand for your blog is to edit. Narrow down and delete any elements/colors/styles that don’t connect with you or your brand. Continue refining your mood board and delete anything you have on there that doesn’t feel like you.

Day 3: Choose Your Colors

Pick 2-4 colors from your mood board that you will use for everything on your blog – headings, subheadings, text, images, icons, accent colors, background colors… all of it. Commit to using these colors and no other ones! The point of creating a style guide is to stick with it. Your brand will look inconsistent and fragmented if you choose a different color for your website than on Pinterest and Instagram.

To find out the Hex code (e.g. #000000) for a specific color in one of your pins, save it to your desktop and then upload it imagecolorpicker.com.  Once you have it, document the Hex code in your style guide so that you can make sure you’re using the exact same colors everywhere. If you need additional ideas or want to find colors that compliment others, use a site like coolors.co to generate color schemes. They even have the Hex code listed right there to make it easy.

 

brand style guide colors

 

For general guidance with colors, use black or dark gray (#333333) for text, a bright color for headings and subheadings, and then one or two accent colors for social media, ebooks, and other uses.

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

Day 4: Choose Your Fonts

Do the same thing you did in week #3, only for fonts. Decide which fonts from your mood board best reflect your brand’s personality and tone. You want to choose 2-3 fonts that compliment each other. Here’s a quick guideline for choosing fonts:

  • Text: The font you choose for the text on your website should be very easy to read at a font size of 16-20px. Make sure it also feels true to your brand. Sans-serif fonts are best for legibility.
  • Headings: If you choose a font like Open Sans for text, you just need to change the font size and weight and then you can use it for headings as well. Or you choose a different font, perhaps one where you can showcase your personality a bit more. Note: blog titles are considered headings and can sometimes run long. You want to make sure your heading font reflects your brand without distracting people or making it hard for people to digest your title.
  • Featured or emphasized text:  Here’s where you can have some fun and throw in some contrast! This is really to give readers some eye-candy and break up the page a bit. Think about choosing a jazzy hand-written type or whimsical script font for featured text. Of course, only do this if it’s appropriate for your brand!
  • Play with font pairings: It’s amazing how you can change your brand’s tone simply by pairing different fonts. If you combine a serif font like Playfair Display with Open Sans, you’ll get an entirely different mood than when you pair it with a narrow, bold type like Oswald.
  • Social media: Just a note that you will be using these same fonts for your blog title images and on social media. Make sure they all work together and will be easy to read when you overlay them on images and backgound colors.
  • Downloading fonts: Google Fonts and dafont.com are both good sources to download free fonts. Just be sure to check the license on dafonts.com to make sure it’s not limited to personal use.
  • Font weights: I recommend choosing font families with more than regular and bold font weights. This will give you some flexibility to be a little creative with some parts of your text so that they stand out from the rest. A font like Open Sans will have light, regular, semi bold, bold, and extra bold font weights. You’d be surprised at how much you can bring your page to life with all of these weights to choose from!

Once you’ve decided on a few fonts, write them down in your style guide and then stick with only these! Remember that every time you create a blog title image, your job is to get it done, not get creative, heh? All of your high-level creative choices are being made right now and documented in your style guide so you don’t have to waste oodles of time deciding which fonts, colors, and images you want to use later on.

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

Day 5: Choose your social media platforms

Based on what you know about your readers, where do they hang out? Which social platforms are they on? Choose 2-3 (max!) platforms that you will dig into and really build your following. While you’re at it, write down two other brands in your niche that you like based on their social activity. What strategies have they used to build their following? What types of posts and images are they sharing? Which ones have the most repins, retweets, and shares? You don’t want to copy your competitors, but instead use their strategies as inspiration and a jumping off point for your own images and themes.

Document everything from here in your blog style guide.

Related: Why You Need a Social Media Strategy and How to Create One That Works

Days 6-8: Choose Your Image Style

You know where I’m going. Based on your mood board, decide on the style of images you will use for your blog posts and social media.

First, decide if you prefer to DIY your photos or use stock ones. If the latter, spend time on these free stock photo sites to see which ones best suit your brand. I find that even though there are many great sites out there, I tend to use the same ones over and over simply because they reflect my aesthetic more.

Based on your mood board, colors, and fonts, decide if your image style will be earthy, bold and vibrant, muted and serene, whimsical, with lots of contrast, or maybe none at all.

Once you decide, document it in your blog style guide (you get the gist!).

Next, hop back on to your preferred sites and download your first ten images to Dropbox (or your desktop) inside an “Image Library” folder. Or if you prefer to DIY them, take your first ten photos and save them.

You’re doing great! We’re just about there…

Now you need to decide your image styles for these uses:

  • Featured blog post images: What sizes and styles will you use? Will you overlay text onto images or a color background? If you need some direction with share sizes, this post will help.
  • Secondary post images: The ones that are in the content of your post. What size will they be and how will they look?
  • Content upgrades: What image style will you use to feature content upgrades within your posts? You want these to stand out from your text so that your readers notice them.
  • Social media images: Will you watermark your images with your logo and colors? How will your Pinterest images be different or similar to your Instagram images?
  • Other image types: What will each different type of content look like: post images, quotes, regular images. How will you differentiate them and still remain cohesive? Is there an Instagram filter you like here?

Day 9: Create Your Image Templates

This is a huge time-saver! Create a template for your featured blog post images (that’s all you need to start) using either Canva or Photoshop. Select your size, add your colors, fonts and a branded watermark so all you have to do is simply update your image, change your title and you’re done!

 

Whew! That was a ton of work and you hung in there. You just created an killer brand style guide for your blog and business. Plus, you made it easy for your audience to recognize your brand because from here on out you’re going to present one consistent and cohesive brand presence everywhere. You got this!

Have you created your brand style guide yet? I’d love to hear about it!

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