Create blog contentA while back, I asked you guys what you were struggling with most in your blog or business. And wow, your answers surprised me! Turns out, many of you (like me) struggle to work on your blog consistently.

Here are some of the things I heard:

  • I have trouble finding time to write with a full-time job and a 7-month old
  • The hardest thing is regularly creating blog content
  • I’m overwhelmed with decisions, so I don’t make any
  • It’s hard to find the motivation to sit down and write for an hour with two jobs
  • I don’t know what to write about
  • I have a lot of blog topics but don’t know where to start, so I don’t finish
  • I’m so tired by the time I get home that I just want to veg for an hour then crawl into bed
  • My family thinks blogging isn’t a real job until I make money, so they keep interrupting me

So in this post, I’ve got some tips to help keep our momentum going.

First, I’m going to drill down on time management and motivation. Then, I’ll share blogging systems that will help you maximize every hour you spend on your blog.

Ready? Let’s dig in.


Step 1. Is blogging a priority right now?

If you’ve been trying to blog consistently but can’t seem to get there, hold the phone. Depending on your business model and growth, blogging consistently may NOT be your main focus right now, and that’s perfectly okay.

Let me explain…

>> Business growth

If you’re familiar with my DIY Your Biz Blueprint, you know my four phases of building a successful online business:

  • Phase #1 (The Launch Phase) – create your website and brand identity
  • Phase #2 (The Hustle Phase) – drive traffic, build your platform
  • Phase #3 (The Growth Phase) – generate leads and sales
  • Phase #4 (The Profit + Scale Phase) – automate sales processes, build your team

I go into loads more detail and cover specific milestones for each phase in this post.

BONUS: If you want, you can grab the Online Business Roadmap so you know exactly what steps to take. It’s broken down into 4 easy to follow sections with prompts, milestones, and goals. Plus, you’ll have the resources and tools to help you reach them. Just click the image below to download it.

Get the Online Business Roadmap from ConversionMinded

Roughly speaking, the closer you get to phase #4, the less frequently you’ll be blogging.

(at least for a stretch)

Last year, I switched my focus from regular blogging to creating new products, webinars, and sales funnels. Every month, I could only manage to bang out a post, if that. And every month I’d stress about it! First off, I know that blogging is a non-negotiable for my business. Plus, I can’t wait to share everything I’ve learned this past year. It’s killing me!

But here’s the thing:

I spent two years (in phases #2-3) building my platform, gaining visibility, driving traffic, and generating leads and sales. Now in phase #4, my focus is on sales systems and automation. So that’s what I’m doing.

As entrepreneurs, we like to think we can tackle everything, all at the same time. But there are only so many hours in a week, and we have to learn to say No to things that we desperately want to say Yes to (more on that below).

Bottom line, if you’re at the tail end of phase #3 or the first part of phase #4, you may need to pull back on blogging until you have sales funnels and automation in place.

>> Business model

There are two ways to build an online business:

Way 1: From the ground up – Build your platform first and worry about money later
Way 2: From the top down – Start with a product first and build your platform later

Which one should you choose?

Great question! I’ve been mullin’ this over for a bit. And the answer is that it comes down to timing and pricing.


How quickly do you need to make money? If your business is a side thing right now, you may have time to build from the ground up. In that case, #1 could work best.

On the other hand…

If your goal is to make money within a specific time frame, or if you want to leave your 9-to-5 by a specific date, #2 is the way to go.


This has more to do with HOW you build your platform than which model you choose, but it’s something you need to consider. So let’s take a look.

If you sell low-cost products (under $500), you’ll want to start from the ground up and go all-in on organic growth. By that I mean, blog your little tush off and forget about Facebook ads!

If your products cost $500 or more, I would focus on Facebook ads and webinars before you even think about blogging. At that price point, you can absorb the cost of ads and still make a killer profit.

Keep in mind that there are always outliers. Depending on your niche, you may do very well with Facebook ads and lower-cost products. Just sayin’. One never knows. 🙂

These business models aren’t exclusive. We’re talking about where to place your focus FIRST.

Even if you build from the ground up, you should set a goal to create a minimum viable product (or service) within, say, the first six months. For more on this, check out this post.

Bottom line, if you sell low-cost products and/or you’re building your platform organically, blogging should be your main focus right now. If you have high-cost products, Facebooks ads and webinars should be your main focus right now.

Step #2. Find your motivation

Motivation has a huge impact on productivity. When you can’t find your ‘why’ and don’t see the reward for all your hard work just yet, it can be hard to justify putting in the time.

I mean, who cares if you’re not bangin’ away at your blog when there’s no payoff, right?

Off the top of my head, I can think of three reasons we lose motivation:

Reason #1: Lack of support
Reason #2: Confusion + overwhelm
Reason #3: It’s not working

On some level, these all come down to fear but let’s drill down on each.

Reason 1: Lack of support

If your friends and family are 100% in your corner, high five! That’s amazing! You’re incredibly lucky to have their support.

Many times, it doesn’t go that way. As much as you want and need it, your loved ones may not support you in your entrepreneurial journey.

To them, the hours you spend banging away at your laptop probably seem like a colossal waste of time. And I’ll bet they think your business is just a hobby, to boot.

They might show you their “un-support” in different ways. Like all the times they interrupt you while you’re working because, well, you’re not really working, are you? It’s amazing how a simple question like, Do you know where I put my wallet? can throw you off track and shake your confidence.


Maybe your family is even more un-supportive and wants you to quit entirely.

I can relate to this one:

For the first two years of my business, my husband begged me to stop blogging. Every week, I heard some version of, “The blogging thing is cool and all that, it’s just not going anywhere.”

Finally, by year #3 things started to change. I was making money. Once I earned enough to replace my income, my hubby was all-in.

(he even comes up with blog ideas for me now!)


The early years of any business are hard. There’s this mountain of stuff in front of you. You feel overwhelmed and fed up. And you forget why you started your business in the first place.

But you know what?

Your belief is what’s going to carry you through the storm. In my case, it didn’t matter what my husband said. I knew my business was going to work, and I wasn’t about to back down. Every time he’d challenge me, I’d work harder and longer. At some point, he got tired, and I won. 🙂

But if I’m completely honest, I felt like quitting ALL the time. It’s hard to stay strong, no matter how much experience you have.

Here’s what helped me keep going:

  • Experience with start-ups – For better or worse, self-doubt is part of the entrepreneurial journey, in my book.
  • Knowing my why – Every time I doubted myself, I’d tap into my vision and purpose.
  • Having a buddy – I check in with my pal Taughnee every Friday to chat about our goals, what we’ve accomplished, and so on. That time is pure gold!

Bottom line, your loved ones may or may not support you in the beginning. Either way, don’t leave the future of your dream business up to them. Build your own support system. Hire a coach, join a mastermind, find a buddy in your niche…whatever you need to do to stay motivated.

Reason #2: Confusion + overwhelm

You can’t take the next step in your business if you don’t know what that step should be.

When things are fuzzy, and you’re working two jobs plus taking care of a family, it’s nearly impossible to carve out time for your new business. You don’t know what you’re carving out time for!

Even so, I think there’s a deeper truth here.

Confusion and overwhelm creep up most when you’re unsure if your idea will work. Maybe you half-started (or will start) your business and now you’re wondering if you chose the right niche. Or, maybe you don’t know if you have the passion and will power. Or, you wonder if you’ll be able make money.

That’s when it’s nearly impossible to make decisions. Heck, even when you’re crystal clear on your niche, there’s still no guarantee it will fly.

And that’s just it:

There’s no “flying” or “not flying.” There’s only DOING.

The business you start today will look much different than your actual business. What I mean by this is, it will take on a life of its own as you evolve and learn more about your audience, yourself, and where you want to be.

That’s why it’s crucial to take action. Your future business is at stake here!

Now, you may be thinking, Sure, Sandra, but what if I make the wrong choice?

I hear ya! It’s totally normal to have fears like that. Making your move is a scary step. But when it comes right down to it, the only *wrong* choice is not taking that step.

Or to fool yourself into thinking you’re taking action when you’re not. I call that the Maybe Mindf*&k.

Maybe I’ll do it later…

Maybe I’ll try to get a client…

Maybe I’ll write that post…

Giving yourself an out keeps you stuck in a revolving door of indecision.

These days, I’m more afraid of not making a decision than making the wrong move. And believe me, I make A LOT of wrong moves.

Think of it this way:

Every question that stays in your head holds you back. Period. What you need, and quick like, are answers. You want to shove those questions behind you as fast as you can. Turn uncertainties into certainties, good or bad.

Here’s an example:

Somehow, I got myself in a jam by trying something new with a recent promotion. I had just signed up some affiliates and wanted to give them swipe files so they could share the sale with their audience.

Problem was, I didn’t have time to create the swipe files. It took me three days to get them together, which left me very little time to prepare stuff for MY audience.

Now, I wouldn’t run a promotion like that again. But I’m glad I followed through. Know why? Because I answered one of the biggest questions I have right now:

Should I invest time in affiliate programs?

Turns out, the answer’s no. And that’s perfectly okay, because I know what to focus on now.

Bottom line, if you’re not sure if your idea will fly, take action. Go back to your business plan (you have one, don’t you?), evaluate your choices, and give yourself a deadline to make a decision. Then run with it.

Reason #3: It’s not working

At some point in your blogging journey…

You’re going to be doing everything right…creating content like it’s your job, sharing it everywhere, showing up everday bright and cheery…and nothing will be working.

You won’t have the page views you expect, or the subscribers you want, or the customers you need.

And you’ll be thinking, Why am I spending time blogging? It doesn’t work! 

I feel your pain! Whether your blog is your business or you’re blogging for your business, if you’re not getting results, you need a better content strategy.

Maybe you’re not covering topics that truly resonate with your audience (see “research blog topics” below). Or, maybe your blog format doesn’t convert subscribers and customers. Maybe you’re even a bit all over the place wth blog topics and need to narrow your focus and niche.

The good news is:

When you hit this road block, you’re officially out of Launch Phase and into Hustle Phase! High-five!

Now it’s time to get serious about every word you write. Keep readin’ for content strategies that will get you big results.


Step #3. Block out time for your blog

It’s easy to feel stuck when you’re juggling work, a family, and a social life, *gasp.

But if you want to change your life, you have to change your behavior.

Unfortunately, it’s not enough to say, “When I have time…” 

You really do have to MAKE the time.

The good news is, you can get a lot done in just a few hours when you focus on the right things. So if you find yourself wondering, “Should I even bother to write? I only have an hour right now!”

Absolutely! If an hour is what you have, make it work. Whatever you do, don’t look at blogging as one of those “all or nothing” things, like I used to do. Small chunks of time add up to big results!

Maybe weekdays won’t work, but what about Saturdays and Sundays? Can you get up an hour earlier? Ask for help with the kids?

How about these time-sucks…

  • Texts
  • Emails
  • Instagram
  • Facebook
  • Netflix
  • YouTube

…can you shut those down?

If you take an honest look at your daily routine, you can probably save a few minutes here and there. Block that time out now, friend.

Once you’ve set aside specific times for blogging, the next step is to maximize your productivity. Here are a few of my favorite blogging systems and workflows to help you get loads more done in less time.

>> First, don’t overthink things

Too often, we spend more time dreading than doing. We imagine things as monumental tasks that will take FOREVER to complete. Know what happens then? We get stuck before we start.

Overthinking leads to procrastination.

In reality, progress comes from baby steps. All you need to do in the beginning is to get your blog up and running, and write your first posts. They don’t have to be fabulous works of art. In fact, your first posts will probably be crappy, and that’s perfectly okay.

The first time you rode a bike, you sucked at it, right? But you kept getting back on until one day, it was easy.

It’s like that with blogging.

When I look at my first posts, I literally cringe. Even now, I look at stuff I wrote three months ago and cringe (and I will probably look at this post and cringe, too!). Your audience may not love your first posts. Stick with it anyway.

Blogging is a journey of discovery. At the end of the day, it’s just something you do. Write words on a page and let the rest evolve.

>> Research blog topics

When I get writer’s block and don’t know what to blog about, I put off writing until I have more time to brainstorm ideas.

Sound familiar?

No matter what phase of business you’re in, bangin’ out blog posts is hard. First off, you have to come up with topics in the first place. Then you have to narrow your ideas down to the ones that are most relevant to your expertise and audience. Then you need to develop the idea and start writing (see below).

Instead of leaving it to the last minute, set aside the first Sunday of every month to research and brainstorm ideas. Open up Google Sheets and dump your ideas into a blog idea library.

Try to organize them in themes that make sense for your audience.

For example:

My audience is interested in business, social media, and blogging, so those are my categories. Every idea needs to fit into one of the categories to “make the cut.” If not, I move on to the next idea. This is a great way to rein in your ideas, zero in on your focus, and avoid overwhelm and confusion.

When you have a library of ideas to pull from, you’ll be much more likely to sit down and write at the end of the day.

>> Start with an outline

There’s a structure to writing blog posts, much like there’s a structure to writing songs. Verses lead to pre-choruses, and pre-choruses lead to the main hook (or chorus). In our case, paragraphs are verses, content upgrades are pre-choruses, and the call to action is the main hook.

Here are the five main sections to a killer post:

  • The headline should make people want to click in the first place
  • The intro should hook people in and make them want to keep reading
  • The main points should help people achieve a specific outcome
  • Content upgrades should help people take the next step in each section
  • The outro (or conclusion) should wrap up the main points with a call to action

When you use the same structure for every post, you’ll save loads of time. And you won’t feel like a slacker, staring at a blank screen wondering what the heck to write!

How do you develop a great blog post structure?

Good question! The answer is pretty simple: Start with an outline. 

And outline goes beyond loose planning. This is where you get a bird’s eye view of your post. Develop your blog idea, brainstorm any details you want to include, and ensure that each point makes sense. No more going off on tangents!

Over time, you’ll develop a skill for training your thought process. Every post should have a specific goal.

Ask yourself:

Why am I writing this post? What do I want to convey? How will it help my readers? How will it support my business and sales goals? Is there more than one idea in here?

Some of my outlines are comprehensive, 1,000-word posts all on their own. Others are loose ideas and bullet points. Those usually start as offshoots of the main post, where I’ll jot down any secondary ideas that come up. If I can flesh the ideas out into a full outline, I’ll move forward with it. If not, I’ll ditch the idea and move on.

If you’re curious, here’s what to include in your outline:

  • A working headline
  • An intro – one to three paragraphs
  • 3-5 main points you want to cover – with subheadings
  • Up to five bullet points for each subheading
  • Content upgrades you want to include
  • An outro, or conclusion
  • The main call to action – what do you want readers to do next?

>> Batch-write blog posts 

Once you’re in the zone of writing, you’ll likely find that one blog idea will inspire other ideas. Take advantage of that *zone* by writing several posts at once.

Batch-writing posts works best when you take one blog topic and turn it into several posts. Every time you write a new post, ask yourself:

  • Does this idea make more sense as two posts instead of one? (aka: am I going off on tangents?)
  • Is there a specific section that would work beautifully on its own? (aka: can I offer more detail in a separate post?)
  • Can I turn this post into a series (aka: can I take people on a journey from one post to the next?)

Can you see how writing this way is a win-win! You create more content, save hours of time, and feel encouraged by all the progress you’re making. And these types of posts can easily be repurposed as a content upgrade or digital product. Brilliant!

>> Use ghostwriters

Sure, it’s better to write original posts that are infused with your unique voice and perspective. But some weeks you just can’t squeeze in the time. Don’t let limited resources crush your momentum. Find writers who can help.

(that’s what I did with this post!)

Now, I know it’s not ideal, but it works in a pinch. Ghostwriters save time, which is what you need most.

And yes…

You’ll have to edit and refine their posts. The role of ghostwriters is not to replace you as a writer. It’s to help you write faster. It’s a lot easier to edit an existing piece of *anything* than to start from scratch, in my book.

At the very least, a ghostwriter (or a guest blogger) can outline your idea, research important details, and flesh out the main points so you have a foundation from which to work.

Need help finding ghostwriters? Try Content Runner.

>> Blog less frequently

Who said you have to blog once a week?

If you’re really strapped for time, don’t stress. Reduce your blogging frequency to biweekly or monthly.

Be careful, though. Keep your readers in the loop when your schedule changes. Let them know when to expect new content now.

Here’s an example:

It’s been a while since my last post! A lot has been brewing lately, and I can’t seem to catch my own shadow these days! Just so you know, I’ll be blogging less frequently over the next few months so I can focus on sales funnels and webinars. I can’t wait to share everything I’m learning with you! Good news, I’m kicking it all off today with the five phases of profitable webinars to help you make more sales.

When people know what to expect and feel connected to your journey, they’ll keep reading.

>> Use an editorial calendar

Once you have a blog idea library, the next step is to plan a month’s worth of posts. Some bloggers like to schedule three months of content or more. I find that too overwhelming. Honestly, I have a hard time planning four posts!

Create a Google Sheet that includes:

  • Blog titles
  • Target keywords
  • Blog images
  • Word counts
  • Keyword competitions
  • Writers (if you’re working with at team)
  • Notes (this will help you with the outline)
  • Content upgrades you want to include
  • Due dates
  • Publish dates

Quick Tip: Use Trello to set due dates, gather blog assets, and images, and manage your schedule.

>> Have 2-3 content upgrades ready to go

Relevance is king with content upgrades. You want to give readers multiple opportunities to subscribe as they read through your post.

What I mean is:

Include more than one content upgrade if you can. Content upgrades work best when they are directly relevant to a specific section.

But that doesn’t mean you have to create a new content upgrade for every post!

Start with one or two that are most relevant to the topics you write about. If you have them handy, you can quickly grab them and add them to the appropriate section.

(just like I’m doing below!)

BONUS: If you need help creating freebies and content upgrades, this lead magnet template pack may help! Just click the image below to get access. 

Download the Lead Magnet Template Pack

That’s an example of a content upgrade I created ahead of time. I keep an Evernote note with Thrive Leads shortcodes and descriptions for all my content upgrades so I can grab them quickly.

One last thing:

It’s super important that your opt-in graphics stand out from other images in your post. Use different colors, fonts, and sizes to make them pop. Make sure they show up well on mobile because that’s where 80% of your traffic will likely come from.

>> Don’t compare your blog to others

Ever read someone else’s blog and wonder if you’ll ever catch up?

It used to drive me nuts!

It’s sooo easy to feel discouraged by other bloggers who seem to have it all figured out…a brilliant blog design, epic content, clever phrases, seamlessly flowing language, beautiful graphics…all of it. Argghhh. They make it look so easy!

Here’s what I’ve learned:

We can’t compare our start to someone else’s finish.

Bloggers who are *ahead* of you in their blogging journey simply started before you. That’s it.

The only thing you should measure is your own progress. What did you achieve last week? Are you blogging more consistently? Have you carved out specific time blocks that will work for you, where you won’t fall prey to distractions and interruptions? Did you create an editorial calendar? Did you write that post you were supposed to?

And remember this, friend:

Your audience wants to hear from YOU. They want your voice, your inspiration, your insights, and your expertise. Most of all, they want you to help interpret all the conflicting information out there in the blogosphere. That’s all you need to do.

That’s a wrap! Now I’d like to turn it over to you. What helps you create blog content on the regular?


10 Businesses You Can Start for Less than $1K | Wondering how to start an online business so you can make money from home? Make sure you choose the right niche! Here are 10 side hustle ideas plus a step-by-step business plan template to help you get started. #startup #businessideas #onlinebusinessLooking for new business ideas?

Back in the day, the only way to achieve your dreams was to:

  • Find a job working for a company
  • Stick with it through long hours and hard work
  • Save up your paychecks until you could fund your dream, whether it was buying a home, traveling, or retiring altogether?

Fortunately, technology has changed all that. The internet has opened several pathways for brave and resourceful people to work toward their dreams by starting their own business.

If you’ve ever thought about being your own boss or living beyond paycheck-to-paycheck, this may be the perfect time to go for it. You don’t even need much capital to start an online business today.

To make it extra easy for you to get started, I’ve created a business plan template you can customize for your biz! Just click the button below to grab it.

Grab Your Creative Business Plan Template

PLEASE NOTE: In order to be able to edit and customize it yourself, when you’re viewing the template go to File and Make a copy, or you can simply download it as a Word doc or copy and paste it to your favorite program!

Grab your Creative Business Plan Template so you can get started mapping out your freedom biz and reaching your goals!

Here are ten new business ideas you can start for $1,000 or less:

1. Consulting Services

A consulting business can be lucrative once it takes off. And it’s the perfect type of business to start if you have expertise and skills to share.

Many businesses rely on consultants to supplement their in-house staff, provide organizational training, or identify problems and provide solutions. Businesses aren’t the only ones who need consultants either. Consumers also seek out expertise.

Some high-demand niches include:

  • Accounting, taxes, and payroll management
  • Marketing and advertising
  • Home design and color
  • Gardening
  • Green living
  • Spatial organization and efficiency
  • Career counseling
  • Human resources
  • Insurance
  • Public relations
  • Home security

Since you can perform consulting from home, or even your smartphone, there isn’t much overhead involved.

Depending on the type of consulting you’ll do, you might need specialized software, or samples to show your work. If your niche requires certification, be sure to obtain it before launching your business.

So think about the marketable skills you have and offer up your knowledge. The opportunities for consulting are endless!

2. Dropshipping

Imagine that you want to start a business selling T-shirts online. You might think that you’d need to own a warehouse filled with inventory first — but if you use the dropshipping approach, that’s not necessary.

Instead, you buy products from third-party vendors, sell them via your website, and have your vendors ship the merchandise directly to buyers.

Dropshipping doesn’t require a lot of startup capital; in fact, you can build and run it from a laptop. This booming business model offers a number of benefits, including minimized risk, lower costs, and the ability to offer your customers greater convenience and a wider array of products.

There are downsides, of course. A lot of preparation is required on the front end to build sales infrastructure and market the business to potential customers. You also might need to try several methods to locate wholesale suppliers, like contacting product manufacturers, ordering from the competition, participating in trade shows, or even using a good old Google search. Networking is paramount, especially at the beginning, so start connecting!

Related: How to Start an Amazon FBA Business: A Step by Step Guide

3. Blogging

In the early days of the internet, blogging was looked upon as a hobby. Today, bloggers can make a full-time living and support their families and lifestyles. Other bloggers use their blog as a side gig to bring in extra cash.

Blogging takes both time and effort, and the payoff may not come overnight. So don’t quit your day job just yet. Wait until you get a better feel for blogging and your niche. Then see if you can gain enough traction to turn it into a full-time gig. One huge advantage of blogging is, you can start one for less than $50.

Related: How to Start a Business with No Money, a Laptop and An Idea

4. Pet services

Many people need someone to check on their furry companions while they work or travel. So they hire pet sitters to come and feed, walk, and/or groom their dogs and cats.

To get started in the pet care business, you’ll need to ask yourself the following questions:

  • What services do I want to offer?
  • Will I need office, storage, or kennel space?
  • What licensing or certifications are needed in my state or county?
  • Do I need or should I obtain insurance?

You can typically get started for around the $1,000 range. One plus about a pet service startup is that it can start small and grow as demand or services require, making it the perfect business for either a full- or part-time commitment.

It’s also the ideal business for animal lovers. What could be better than getting paid for doing something you love?

5. Tutoring

A great low-overhead business is tutoring. If you have strong math or language arts skills, you can tutor children or college students. Want to share your music, art, or craft talents? These are subjects that students of all ages want to learn.

A tutoring business doesn’t require much capital or logistical prep to get going. You can do this in your home, from a rented space or online.

6. Jewelry design

Do you spend your free time designing and making jewelry? If so, for under $1,000 you can start your own business doing what you love! You’ll have to put some effort into marketing, but you can showcase your work in a low-cost fashion by setting up a website and/or opening a shop on Etsy.

Make sure you create a strong social media presence on Instagram and Pinterest to help spread the word.

And remember: Protecting intellectual property is a necessity for designers, artists, craftspeople, and other makers. Before you put your designs out into the world, be sure to protect your legal rights to them.

7. Handyman services

If you’re comfortable with tools and have a knack for fixing things, why not turn it into a business?

Take advantage of apps that can help you with bidding, scheduling, and invoicing. Get visible on online forums and social media to promote your services. You can even use your smartphone to film and post tutorial videos of the work you do. Virtual help is another viable avenue, using video chat to coach DIYers through their own jobs.

8. Event planning

Do you love throwing parties? Use your passion for it to build a business.

Most people think of wedding planners when they think of event planning. But there other events that a cool head and methodical mind can help make happen.

For example:

  • Educational conferences
  • Artistic and cultural events
  • Corporate seminars or shareholders’ meetings
  • Any large social gathering

Keep in mind that events can take up space. If you don’t have room to store things like tables, chairs, gifts, tableware, and other miscellaneous items, you can always rent a small storage unit and write off the cost on your taxes.

9. Graphic design

A lot of businesses and organizations need professionally designed marketing materials. If you’re familiar with the latest graphic design software, and are good at creating graphics in a reasonable time frame, you’ll likely always have clients.

If you currently have a full-time job, you can always test the waters first with freelance work. Reach out to friends and family and let them know you’re interested in picking up some extra work. You never know who they know!

As with any business, you’ll want to start with a clear business plan to identify target markets for your graphic design biz before you jump in full-time.

10. Virtual assistant

If you’re conscientious with details and great at prioritizing, you could try your hand as a virtual assistant. The range of duties can include scheduling, social media, research and data mining, email marketing, and much more. Use your accounting, technical, and marketing experience to provide administrative support for executives and companies.

There you have it…10 new business ideas you can launch for next to nothing!

There are so many different types of new businesses to start, and so many ways to get started. The first step is to decide what you excel at and love, and then see how you can make money as an independent.

So if you get a windfall this year in the form of a bonus, insurance settlement or other *gift*, take it as a sign. Launch your new business and experience the thrill and freedom that comes from being your own boss! In most cases, you can run your biz right from your laptop.

Psst…don’t forget to grab the business plan template so you can narrow down your new business idea! Just use the button below to grab it.

Grab Your Creative Business Plan Template Grab your Creative Business Plan Template so you can get started mapping out your freedom biz and reaching your goals!

How to Plan Your Schedule with Time Blocking (Plus a Video Tutorial!) This post includes time management tips and time blocking template, plus a step by step planner and video on how to use time blocking to plan your schedule and increase productivity. Click through for the template! #timeblocking #timemanagement #productivityHey there, friends!

You know what we all struggle with as entrepreneurs?

We have way too much to do and not enough time to do it. It gets even harder if you’re juggling a full-time job, school, a family, and other *life* things on top of running your online business.

So today, I’m sharing five quick time blocking tips to help with time management. This post is a follow-up to my original post on time blocking, where I explained:

  • What time blocking is
  • How to use a time blocking calendar
  • A simple process to break down high-level goals into smaller ones

Here’s a link to that post in case you need a refresher:

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

If you’re curious, time blocking is a process where you create a visual calendar of your to-do list. Here’s an example:

The Time Blocking Template

Now, since my original time blocking post still seems to be popular, I know you’re like me and wrestling with a growing to-do list (probably tired of feeling defeated by it too, amirite?).

So in this post, I’m sharing simple time management tips to help you use the time blocking calendar effectively.

I made mistakes at first and had a hard time sticking to my schedule. A few of those mistakes are:

  • Underestimating how long things would take
  • Planning too many tasks back to back (aka task-shifting)
  • Trying to get everything done in a week

My hope is that these tips will help you follow through and feel excited about everything you’re getting done!

If you want to use the Time Blocking Template I created for you, you can download it right here: 

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

These tips will be super quick…you can probably do them in less than 10 minutes each…

1. Plan your week ahead of time so you can hit the ground running.

You know what will make you feel great on Monday morning?

Having an action plan and a clear focus on what you need to get done.

So every Sunday, set aside some time to plan your week.

It won’t be set in stone, don’t worry. Think of it as more of a high-level view to make sure you can get everything done. And that you’re focusing on the stuff that matters.

You’ll be updating things as you move through the week…

2. Focus on 1-2 work-related tasks a day.

If you’re using the time blocking calendar the way I recommend, you’ve got EVERYTHING on there…biz time, family time, school, work, meals, errands…all of it.

And that’s great! They need to be in there.

But sometimes we think we can do things faster than we can.

(Write a post in an hour, anyone?)

And you may be tempted to schedule more than you can do – partly because it looks good on paper, partly because you’re not sure how long it will take, and partly because you just want to get it done.

But there’s only so much time in the day! We can’t get to everything…

You may even have a full-time job or family to take care of outside of running your online business! And there’s nothing worse than feeling like you’re falling behind on things. Bleck.

So don’t try to be a superhero when you plan your week. Schedule just one or two “work” things a day and then immerse yourself in getting them done.

Oh, and make sure the things you plan will grow your business, not just eat up your time.

Which leads me to…

3. Cross off things that eat up your time each day.

When you think about it, there are only a handful of things that will really impact your business. Those are things like:

    • Creating content (free and paid)
    • Client projects and meeting
    • Creating products
    • Planning workshops and events

Sounds pretty straightforward, right?

Ahh, if it weren’t for those sneaky time-crushers…

The Facebook ping you have to check…
A message you forgot to send…
An email that just popped in…

But let me ask you a question:

When is the last time you read an email that positively impacted your business? (except for mine, *wink)

The thing with emails is, most come with their own agenda.

So if we’re being totally honest, you only need to check it 1x a day, and that’s just for sanity’s sake.

Which means you can block out time for email + admin stuff, say, on Fridays. Or first thing in the morning. Or whatever.

Then after that…

Shut it all down and get to work. Don’t let distractions stop you from growing your business.

4. Take 15 minutes to plan your day tomorrow.

Make sure you block out 15 minutes a day to review your progress.

(should be the last thing you do each day)

That’s when you cross off things you got done, reschedule things you didn’t, and update tomorrow’s schedule so you can crush it again without wondering where the heck you left off.

And here’s the REAL magic of reviewing your day…

Once you see what you achieved (vs what you planned), you start to become a ninja planner. The best part is, you get real about how you’re spending every minute of your day.

For example:

Sometimes I’ll *pretend* to start working at 8:30am but not really do much until 11.

That’s two and a half hours, friend…

We can’t waste time like that!

5) Quick Recap

Plan your week on Sundays. Then, at the end of every day, review and update tomorrow’s schedule.

Cross off things that are time-suckers. And don’t worry if you don’t get to something. Or if something needs to drop off your list completely

Because the goal of time blocking is to help you get better at:

  • Estimating how long things will (really) take
  • Planning enough time for complex projects
  • Squashing multi-tasking
  • Working in your passion zone
  • Getting more of the right stuff done

One last tip before I sign off, make sure you block out 15 minutes between tasks. Every time you switch gears, your brand needs time to catch up, and that will help. 🙂

Here’s the Time Blocking Template again if you want to grab it: 

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

How to Start an Online Business While You're Working Full Time, plus grab the free business plan template. I've got 10 ways to start a business and creative business tips to help you make money online. Side Hustle Tips / Creative Business Plan #startup #makemoneyBuilding an online business is hard work. There are a lot of moving parts and it’s on you to push them all forward so you can grow and scale quickly.

So you’re always on the look-out for marketing tools that can save you time and help you get more done.

Here are seven marketing tools that can automate many of the tasks involved in promoting your business. Read on for the best-of-the-best and start putting tedious marketing tasks on autopilot.

1) Blogger Outreach Tools


When it comes to growing your blog or business, blogger outreach can help you increase your SEO rankings, build backlinks to your website, and find influencers and joint venture partners to promote your products and services.

Problem is, link building and blogger outreach can take a serious amount of time. You have to do things like:

  • Find interesting blogs
  • Search for contact info
  • Write a personalized pitch (not a must, but you should)
  • Manage responses
  • Follow up with non-responders

Every single one of these steps can take hours, which is why a lot of people give up. For an outreach campaign to work, you have to reach out to hundreds of blogs and publishers. Without tools to speed up the process, it can be hard to hang in there and follow through to get results.

Outreach tools can help by automating the process of finding websites, scraping them for contact info, sending emails, and following up.

Try these tools:


Pitchbox will help you find and send customized emails to bloggers, publishers, and influencers. Pitchbox pricing starts at $95 a month, so make sure you’re serious about blogger outreach before using it.

(Looking for a more affordable alternative to Pitchbox? Try Outreach Ninja.)


BuzzStream is another outreach tool worth trying. It’s a relationship and outreach CRM that lets you manage and grow a huge list of outreach campaigns. Be ready for a learning curve though….it can take some time to master.

For more on outreach tools, read this complete review of best blogger outreach tools for marketers.

2) Social Media Tools


Social media marketing can be hugely effective in promoting your business.

If only there weren’t so many channels to tackle! Nowadays, people use at least three social media channels. To reach your target audience at the right times on each, you’ll need to be sharing on multiple platforms throughout the day.

But let’s face it, you’ve got more to do than be *social* all day…

Just imagine trying to manually post to Twitter, Instagram, Facebook, AND LinkedIn…every day. You’d have to create two to three posts for each channel. Plus, design each post to grab people’s attention quickly.

If you’re already sharing posts regularly, you know how hard it can be to find content that resonates with your audience.

That’s where social media management tools come in.

Social media management tools can make you look like a ninja marketer, sharing custom variations of your posts on each platform – around the clock.

Tools to try:


Buffer is the perfect tool to use if you’re just starting out with scheduling.

And when you combine it with IFTTT, it can be a powerful way to fill up your Twitter queue with an endless stream of tweets.

What makes Buffer so popular is how easy it is to use. Want to rearrange your posts? No problem. Set a custom posting schedule? You can do that too. See which posts have the highest engagement? Head over to the analytics dashboard and you’ll see.

The best part is, Buffer is free for one account (up to 10 scheduled posts). From there, pricing starts at $15 a month for 8 social channels (100 scheduled posts per channel).


SmarterQueue is another popular scheduling tool that makes it easy to share original and user-generated content, all from one place. Import your Feedly bookmarks and RSS feeds, create categories for each type of content you share, and monitor your schedule with SmarterQueue’s weekly calendar.

SmarterQueue pricing starts at $25 a month (up to four channels).


DrumUp is a content curation and social media management tool that does the heavy lifting of finding content for you to share. If you feel like you’re spending more time than you have each week managing social media, DrumUp can save you hours.

Just enter a list of keywords and topics, and DrumUp will scour the web for interesting articles. From there, you can customize your posts and tweets with hashtags, emojis, mentions and GIFs.

Pricing starts at $15 a month.

3) Visual content creation tools


Many bloggers and entrepreneurs struggle to create stunning graphics – it’s one of those things that can really make you feel stuck.

Truth is, if you want to build a stand-out brand, your visual content has to have impact. You can’t get by with ho-hum graphics that blend in with the others.

And while there’s no simple workaround for creating visuals that make people want to swerve over, there are tools that can save you from hours staring at a blank screen, *gasp.

Tools to try:


Canva is an all-in-one design tool for creating social media graphics, ebooks, opt-in promo graphics, and more.

With Canva for Work, you can save branding elements, organize and manage projects, create shareable templates, resize designs, and more. Canva also has a huge library of elements, photos, and overlays to get your creative juices flowing.

Canva for Work costs $12.95 a month.

Psst…Check out these design templates and tutorials that will help you quickly create graphics that stand out and get noticed with Canva.


PicMonkey is similar to Canva, minus the pre-made templates. So while you’ll have to start from scratch, you can quickly build a library of custom templates from your own designs.

What makes PicMonkey unique are the photo editing features. Need to tweak a photo to match your brand? No problem. Just use one of PicMonkey’s effects to change the color and create a custom graphic that is uniquely you (a great way to breathe new life into old stock photos).

PicMonkey basic pricing starts at $5.99 a month.

Want to see PicMonkey in action? Here’s a step-by-step tutorial.


Want to really speed up things up? PromoRepublic may be the answer.

It’s a content creation, curation, and scheduling tool with 100,000+ pre-designed posts for just about everything…motivational quotes, trends, holidays, events…and more.

All of the designs are done for you and ready to share. Just tweak your posts using the graphics editor, then schedule them to social media. PromoRepublic can even automate Facebook and Instagram promotions to help you generate more sales for your business.

PromoRepublic pricing starts at $9 a month.

Headline Analyzer

CoSchedule’s Headline Analyzer tool will help you improve headlines and titles so you get more clicks.

For example, my working title for this post started out as:

7 Time-Saving Marketing Tools Every Savvy Blogger Needs
(score of 57)

After plugging it into the Headline Analyzer and following their tips and prompts, it became:

7 Powerful Marketing Tools You Should Be Using Right Now
(score of 72)

The best part? Headline Analyzer is 100% free.

4) Content Promotion Tools


Creating engaging content is only part of the equation when it comes to building an audience and driving traffic…

The harder part is promoting your content and getting it in front of your audience. You need a strategy for how and where you share your posts.

That’s where automated content promotion tools can help.

Content promotion tools are similar to social media management tools. They allow you to schedule and post to multiple channels at different times for increased visibility on each platform. Plus, you can see what your competitors are posting and use that to inform your content strategy.

If you need to drive even more traffic, content promotion tools can point you in the right direction by showing you the types of content that perform best in your niche or industry.

Tools to try:


Quuu is a content curation tool that hand-picks content for you to share on Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn.

It also has a sister site, Quuu Promote, that works in conjunction with Quuu by promoting your posts (as suggested content) through their community.

Quuu pricing starts at $15 a month.
Quuu Promote costs $40 a month for one piece of content.


If your niche is marketing, Zest is a Chrome extension that can boost your traffic. Just submit a post, wait for the Zest team to review and approve, and start promoting.

Zest is free to use.

5) Keyword Research Tools


(not an automation tool but a must to grow your business!)

Since you’re already doing the hard work of creating content on the regular, it makes sense to take an extra step and optimize your posts and pages so that people can easily find you on Google.

Keyword research tools can help you optimize your existing posts, plus understand what your audience is actively searching for. You can use this intel to create future posts that address their queries.

In this way, keyword research is good not only for SEO, but for attracting more of your ideal customers to your business.

Tools to try:

Adwords Keyword Planner

The Adwords Keyword Planner has gone through changes recently but is still a strong keyword research tool, especially for bloggers who aren’t ready to spend money for keyword research (it’s free).

You’ll have to create an ad account and keep your credit card on file to access. Still, you can easily work around this by simply “creating” an ad campaign and pausing it.

Even when you add other SEO marketing tools to the mix, the Keyword Planner is helpful for finding related keywords to include in your posts.


KWFinder is a relatively new keyword research tool that is gaining popularity due to its ease of use and accurate data. You can also see the top ranking domains for each keyword on the same dashboard, which is convenient. Most paid tools offer keyword difficulty scores so you know what you’re up against, and KWFinder is no different.

One thing to point out with any tool, competition and search volumes for any keyword tend to be a moving target. So even though you may find a keyword with great ranking possibilities today, that may change tomorrow. Make sure you check each keyword in real time (vs. keeping a spreadsheet), so you know how much work you’ll have to do to rank your page or post.

KWFinder starts at $25 a month for 100 searches a day.

6) Email Marketing Tools 


Almost half of all customers are more likely to buy from a brand that stays in touch with them through regular emails.

And of course, you’re not going to manually email your subscribers one by one! You’re going to use tools to automate your campaigns and broadcasts.

At their most basic level, email tools allow you to send different emails to subscribers based on their engagement and behavior.

But they can do much more…

More advanced email tools can integrate with your e-commerce platform and send emails based on purchase or browsing history. They can help you improve sales by segmenting your list and sending emails based on actions your subscribers take.

They can also show you statistics to help improve the ROI of your email campaigns (subscription rate, unsubscribe rate, open rate, click through rate, and more).

Tools to try:

MailChimp is a great tool if you’re just starting to build your email list. You can send up to 12,000 emails to 2,000 subscribers for free each month.

MailChimp is free for up to 2,000 subscribers.

ConvertKit has sophisticated features that allow you to create tags, rules, and segments for your subscribers so you can build highly targeted and effective sales funnels.

For a complete tutorial on how to use ConvertKit for your business, read this post.

ConvertKit pricing starts at $24 a month for up to 1,000 subscribers.

7) Analytics Tools


You may be thinking that one marketing strategy is all you need to grow your business.

Unfortunately, that’s not the case.

You need to test multiple strategies to find the ones that work.

The reason is that your customers’ behaviors and needs are constantly changing. What they want today may not be what they want tomorrow. And the platforms they use today may not be where they hang out tomorrow.

Which means that what’s working for you today may not be as effective tomorrow.

Automated analysis tools can help understand what’s working where, how people are engaging with your pages and posts, which channels are most successful, and where there’s room for improvement.

A good analysis tool will track and display things like conversion rates, engagement, sales, refunds, and more.

The idea is to provide you with a comprehensive overview of the success of your efforts so you can make decisions going forward.

Tools to try:


Mixpanel tracks the actions or steps people take on your website, landing page, or sales page (watch a video, share a post, click a button).

Because it tracks more than pageviews and length of visit, it can help you learn which pages you need to optimize to drive more sales.

Mixpanel is free for up to 2 data points.

Facebook Ads Manager Tools

Facebook ads can burn a hole in your budget quickly, but with over 2 billion users, you can’t afford NOT to use them, especially if you host things like webinars and workshops.

To avoid exhausting your budget too soon, be sure to test your ad copy, images, targeting, objectives, and more.

Within the Ads Manager, you can create reports to measure number of leads, registrations, purchases, CPM, CPC, costs, and more.


LuckyOrange is a website conversion tool that will help you understand which pages people visit, how long they stay on your site, and where they drop off.  You can also use it to discover keywords and referrers that drive traffic to your site.

LuckyOrange pricing starts at $10 a month.

For a complete list of analytics tools across social media, read this post.

Wrapping it up

Why do the hard work when software can do it for you? Use the automated marketing tools listed here to free up your time so you can focus on everything else you need to do to grow your business.

What marketing tools are you using to promote your blog or business?


Wondering how to start a business while working full time? I've got 9 side hustle ideas to help you make money online as quickly as possible.Are you finally ready to launch your freedom business? I’m so excited for you! Entrepreneurship is one of the most enriching things you can experience in life, and I can’t wait for you to start your journey…

Now, I totally get that you can be wildly thrilled about starting your new business and STILL have a hard time staying motivated with a 9-5 gig weighing you down.

Maybe you’re wondering if it’s even possible to start a business while working a full-time job…

Or, maybe you’re wondering how to go about it in a way that sets you up for huge success today and tomorrow

Lately, I’ve been getting start-up questions from the wonderful members of my Facebook group (and from you guys). Here’s what I’ve been hearing:

  • How do I manage going to school, starting my business, and a social life?
  • I work a full-time job and then come home and spend time with my three children. By the time they go to bed, I’m wiped out. How do I squeeze in the time for my business?
  • I feel like I’m not getting anywhere with my business idea. What should I do differently?

Sound familiar?

If you’ve been struggling to launch your side hustle, you’re in luck! Today, I’m sharing strategies to help you carve out the time (and stay motivated) to make it happen, f’real.

Before we dig in, what I’m covering here can apply to just about ANYTHING you want to launch…a new business, a new product, or a new service.

So whether you’re just tossing around business ideas right now, have been at it for a while, or are gearing up for a new product launch, I’m hoping you’ll find something of value in this post. 🙂

#FULLDISCLOSURE My only stint as a 9-to-5’er was the year I launched my temporary tattoo business (my most successful business to date). I’ll be using that experience as a reference, plus what I’ve learned from starting up businesses while running a full-time business.

Believe me, I feel your pain. It can be hard to find the time. Hard to juggle everything. And, most importantly, hard to know when you should ditch the 9 to 5 for good.

Before we dig in, I created a business plan template you can use to create a roadmap for your new biz! Just click the button below to grab it.

Grab Your Creative Business Plan Template

PLEASE NOTE: In order to be able to edit and customize it yourself, when you’re viewing the template go to File and Make a copy, or you can simply download it as a Word doc or copy and paste it to your favorite program!

Grab your Creative Business Plan Template so you can get started mapping out your freedom biz and reaching your goals!

So let’s dig in and see if we can make heads or tails of it all, k?

1) First, hold on to your day job for as long as you can.

There’s no way around it, you’re going to need a cashflow. The last thing you want to do is to jump ship on your job without having financial security.

You’d be walking into a train wreck:

  • You’d start feeling desperate
  • Go into “survival” mode
  • Make the wrong business decisions
  • Scramble to look for another job

The good news is, there’s A LOT you can do to start your business while you’re working full time. At a minimum, aim to have these things complete before you sign off on your job:

  • Market research – make sure you understand your target audience and what they want
  • A working brand identity – the bare essentials are all you need (logo, business card, website)
  • An online presence – be active on at least one social channel
  • Your first 10 blog posts – you want to launch with a handful of posts
  • A minimum viable product – can be a physical product, digital product, or service offering

2) Next, save your money.

Try to put aside at least six months of income before you leave your day job. This will help you make objective decisions and give you enough time to navigate earning an income from your business.

If you can save a year’s worth, even better.

3) Start with the right business idea.

This one’s a biggie.

In fact, it’s such a biggie that I’m going to create a workshop on business ideas – how to weed out the duds, sort through the noise, and choose the right one…

Here’s why:

Your business idea ALONE can literally make or break your success.

Take it from me on this one! I’ve been *around the world* when it comes to launching businesses and can finally tell the difference between a good business idea and a bad one.

The last thing I want is for you to put in the hard work upfront, only to lose your enthusiasm when the ROI takes longer than expected and you can’t sustain an income.

Besides, nothing spells buzzkill faster than not making money.

Let’s say you’re married with two kids and a demanding job – one that requires your full-on attention. At night, you like to spend time with your kids before they go to sleep, which gives you two hours to work on your business idea before you clock out. You decide to spend that time learning how to code so you can start your web development business.

Can you see what’s wrong here?

Starting a business is SOOO hard! Don’t make it even harder by learning a new skillset before you even start!

Here’s the thing:

You probably have about 15 hours a week to work on your business. In that time frame, you’re going to need to see REAL progress to stay motivated. Otherwise, overwhelm and defeat will start to creep up on you. Slowly at first. Then bam. Like a ton of bricks.


It’s much easier to start a business based on what you already know. Look at your skills, research the market, and find the place where they intersect. That’s your success path.

4) Be all in.

Total immersion or bust, that’s my motto…

You’ve got to be “all in” on your business idea and make a conscious decision to succeed with that vs your job. Then shift your mindset to make it happen.

Here’s how that plays out in the real world:

  • You stop being an over-performer at work.
  • Let others get promoted instead of you.
  • Work on your logo during lunch.
  • Design your website when you have downtime.
  • Set the alarm an hour early to get your creative juices flowing.
  • Write your business plan instead of reading emails and texts.
  • Create a Facebook page instead of “socializing.”

You get my gist. When you’re all in, every minute counts and you get to work…

5) Forget about Plan B.

Now, I know this may go against every grain in your body. But it’s true.

Back-up plans make you lazy. They keep you fearful and second guessing. They make you settle for so much less than what you were born to do in this world.

If you really, REALLY believe in what you’re doing, there will be a tipping point…

When every bone in your body screams I can’t do this anymore!!

When your future’s in limbo and you’re stuck between your day job and your biz…not getting anywhere with either one.

Now, I don’t have a specific date or milestone for you, but it will be sometime after you create a foundation (step #1 above). When you’re ready to make real money and can’t possibly do it in your current situation.

That’s when it will be time to leave your 9 to 5.

6) Establish clear priorities.

Starting a business takes deliberate focus and attention. If you back-burner it, you’ll risk not reaching the finish line.

But hey, when you really, REALLY want something, you don’t back-burner it, right? You make it a priority.

You inherently *get* that you won’t be able to have your cake and eat it too. Not today, anyway. So you start de-prioritizing other things.

Maybe you don’t go to every party. You hang with your friends less. Or, you get your spouse to help with the kids. Can you cut down on the number of hours you work? Heck, maybe you can look for part-time work rather than full-time!


You say No more than Yes.

(I’ve been saying no for a looong time now, *wink.)

But you know what? You’re EXCITED to make the sacrifices today in exchange for your FREEDOM tomorrow.

#HEADSUP Your friends and loved ones may not be keen on your newly-found priorities at first. But if you can hang in there, they’ll get on board. Promise.

7) Develop a routine that you can follow.

Set a minimum number of hours each week that you will work on your business idea. Then use a time blocking calendar to set specific time slots each day.

(Don’t forget to look for “hidden hours” you can squeeze in, say, during or after work.)

Now, when it comes to sticking with your routine, I’ve got two strategies for you! These will be especially helpful on days when you feel extra stressed and ANYTHING BUT motivated.

First off, plan your week every Sunday.

When you’re crystal clear on what you will be doing and when – down to the tiniest details – you’ll be more inclined to show up and execute on them.

But when it’s Wednesday and your brain is fried already, THEN you have to figure out what the heck to work on, you know what happens?

You put it off ’til tomorrow.

And then…

You stop seeing consistent progress…

Which makes you less motivated to work on your business idea…

So you put it off again…

Then you’re off to Procrastinationville! Don’t go there, friend. Plan ahead and stay on track.

Psst…What can really help with time management is my time blocking template below. If you want, you can use it to create a *visual to-do list* and block out your entire week.  Include everything…work, kids, school, social, and your biz, so you know exactly how much time you’ll have to focus on your business idea each week. Totally helps beat procrastination because you can see how much time you really have available!   

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

Second, understand your work patterns and when you feel the most creative.

For example:

Instead of trying to do your deep work during the week, plan simpler tasks like:

  • Designing your logo
  • Creating a social media image
  • Drafting a blog post

Set aside Saturday or Sunday for projects that require more brainpower (like products and content).

It also helps to develop rituals and “pay-it-forward treats” to help you get in the mood to work.

Do you like meditating first thing in the morning? Staring at your computer with a cup of coffee? Watching TV? Give yourself that treat BEFORE you start working. During this transition time, visualize WHY you’re going to haul yourself up and work. Imagine what things will look like on the other side.

For me, listening to my music gets me all pumped and fired up to work.

What’s your thing? Think about what excites you to do the work, then do that every day before you get started. When you follow the same routine and consistently put in the work, you’ll be motivated to do even more.

8) Spend more time doing and less time planning.

It’s easy to fall into the trap of over-planning and under-executing.

To avoid that, give yourself a time slot for planning (preferably on Sundays). Leave the other time slots for doing. Then hold yourself accountable to show up and get them done.

It can also be tempting to think Since I won’t get much done in an hour, I’ll wait until the weekend when I have more time.

This is dangerous territory for so many reasons (step #6 above).

When you put it off today, the next thing you know you’re blowing off an entire Saturday or Sunday. I mean, if you didn’t make it a priority on Monday, why should it be a priority on Sunday, right?

Wrong. You’ve got to make it a priority e’erday.

Even if Monday morning all you do is stare at your laptop for an hour, the fact that you’re sitting there reinforces your commitment to your business. Plus, trust me. You won’t be able to stare at your screen for an hour! You’ll get bored in 15 minutes and start digging in.

9) Focus on the process.

It’s easy to feel defeated when things take five times longer than you expected (which ALWAYS happens!).

Instead of focusing on the end goal, focus on your daily progress. Keep a journal or use the time blocking template so you can feel good about what you’ve accomplished.

When you review your progress like this each day, something else starts happening…

You know what you REALLY need to work on the next day.

(which can look a lot different than what you planned on Sunday.)

More often than not, we *think* we can do A, B and C when we can really only do A. Then we get bummed and feel like we accomplished nothing!

Setting unrealistic expectations usually comes from being fuzzy about how long A, B or C will take in the first place. When you start tracking your progress daily, you’ll know how long things REALLY take and be able plan your time more accurately.

Then you keep on doin’.

10) Find ways to get less (other) stuff done.

There are things you need to do and things you don’t need to do.

For example:

When I get the urge to create a family picture wall in my hallway (something I’ve been wanting to do for some time now), I think about how long it will take. Then I ask myself if I really need to do it now. Or if it can wait.

Calculate how much time it will take you – door to door – to go shopping, run an errand, and so on. Do you have that time to spare? Does it really need to get done? What could you accomplish in your business in that time?

Plus, let’s be real for a sec. Every time you switch gears, your brain has to play catch-up. You’ve got this delay thing happening that turns four hours into six.

You know what your brain says next, right?

I’ll just work on my biz tomorrow…

And it’s off to Procrastinationville again.

The good news is, you can use these steps to get back on track quickly. 🙂

That’s a wrap! What strategies have you used to start a business while working full time? I’d love to hear them!


Have you found gorgeous styled stock photography to use in your blog? Need some inspiration to create branded blogging pictures? You’re in luck! I’ve got an amazing Picmonkey tutorial that shows you how to edit free stock photography to fit your brand so you really stand out on social media. It even includes a free downloadable set of ULTRA beautiful, creative photography you can start using today. stock photo resources / stock photography ideas / feminine stock photosBy Aminta Demadura

Have you ever come across styled stock photos you absolutely love, and then wondered how you could make them fit with your brand?

I wondered the exact same thing.

And as it turns out, adding your own branding to modern stock photos is really easy!

Branding and customizing stock photos is a super important step in creating a unique business that your readers and customers absolutely love. This type of branding helps your followers relate to you, form a connection with you, and in the end, purchase from you.

So it’s important that your visuals represent who you are and what you do.

In this post, I’m going to show you how to create social media graphics that stand out above the rest using styled stock photos (and my favorite tips to customize them and make them your own).

Before we get started, let me show you the original styled stock photo we’ll be working with below:

super high resolution stock photos

If you’re curious, styled stock photos are created with entrepreneurs, bloggers, and business owners in mind. I like to think of them as “startup stock photos.” They’re incredibly handy when you’re starting out and don’t have the time, expertise, or space to take your own photos.

Styled stock photography makes use of props (office supplies, household items, plants, stationery, flowers, mugs, and so on), and can range from flat lays, to mock-ups, close-ups, and still lifes. And with the rise of free feminine styled stock photos, there are new sources popping up every day.

Let’s have some fun and see how you can make this image fit your brand.

1) Use Fun Filters to Brand Your Photos

My favorite free image editor is Picmonkey. If you’re a Canva fan, that’s fine too (I won’t hold it against you!), but I find Picmonkey to be more intuitive, easier to work with, and I love that it comes with SO MANY features.

In the images below, I added a simple filter to each of the photos. Specifically, the Yester-year filter and the HDR filter.

how to create social media graphics free

As you can see, a filter can really change the mood and vibe of a photo, which is perfect if you’re trying to add your own style to a stock photo. Picmonkey has many, many filter and effect options, so spend a little time going through them and find out what works best for your style and the photos you have to work with.

(If Photoshop is more your style, you’re gonna love this tutorial.)

2) Use Effects to Make a Photo Instantly Unique

Have you checked out Picmonkey’s effects yet? If not, you’re seriously missing out. Effects are the fastest way to make bold changes to a photo that really makes it your own. In this image, I used the sunglow effect to add a radiant center with a vintage tint to the original image.

startup stock photos

I love using these types of effects for social media, especially Instagram. Trust me, there’s nothing worse than finding a ton of other accounts using the same feminine stock photos as you in their feeds (hint: It’s not good for branding!)

And if you want to get really wild? Try layering two or three effects and see what you get. Many combinations look really cool together.

Effects are the fastest way to make bold changes to a photo and really make it your own.Click To Tweet

3) Gradient Overlays Are In

Here’s a fun one. If you want a super fast way to add your brand colors to an image in a unique way, try adding a gradient overlay, like this:

free open source stock photos


I always hear bloggers complain about how hard it is to find styled stock images that fit their brand colors. But the truth is, it doesn’t have to be!

With a little creativity you can take almost any image you love and customize it to suit your brand style. Make the gradient as light or dark as you want to get the right look, and know that if using a lighter photo, it may work best if you’re not going for that Lisa Frank look.

4) Take Horizontal and Vertical Crops of the Image

Depending on how detailed the original image is, you can easily squeeze another 10-20 images from it by cropping it in different parts of the photo:

feminine stock photos

Vertical crops are great for Pinterest and square crops are best for Instagram. You can also take horizontal crops like the one shown above to use in your blog posts and tweets.

On top of that, you can also create header images for Facebook, Twitter, and your blog by taking super wide but short crops of your image. How cool is that?

And if you want even more options beyond just cropping, try flipping, rotating, or changing the angle of your cropped versions.

5) Create Pinterest Pins that Stand Out from the Crowd

If we’re being honest, we all know it takes some amazing looking pins to really “make it” on Pinterest. They need to be bold, beautiful, and easy to read. They need to entice people to click through to your blog.

This is where making some savvy edits to free styled stock images can really help you make attention-grabbing pins.

how to create a pin in Pinterest

In the pin above, you can see that I added a filter to the cropped image to make it a little more artistic. Then I added a transparent white box, my brand fonts, and my logo to complete the pin.

BAM. You’re done.

6) Make Inspirational Graphics to Connect With Your Audience

Inspiring your audience and encouraging them to return to your blog over and over is a big part of any blogger’s job. You need to motivate and inspire your readers to really form that connection, and inspirational graphics can be a great way to do just that.

Thankfully, making inspirational graphics is easy and quick.

In the photo below, I simply added a darkening filter to the vertically cropped image that I extracted from the original. Then, I added a large white script font over the top of the darker areas to create a unique and attractive, inspiring image.

how to use PicMonkey for free

If you aren’t already, I highly recommend you try out this tactic on Pinterest and Instagram. Both platforms are super visual and people loooove inspirational images on them. Give it a shot – I promise you’ll see a little boost in traffic and engagement.

7) Feed the ‘Gram with Some Branded Squares

Does the thought of having to come up with yet another amazing photo for Insta ever give you a little anxiety? Yeah, me too. It takes so many photos to really grow a large Instagram following, and most of us just don’t have the time to plan, shoot, and edit that many photos.

If that’s your predicament, this tip will help. I recommend taking a bunch of square crops from different parts of your original styled stock photo (step #4, above).

Then, make them even more unique by flipping or rotating them in new directions, and adding filters and effects to really amp up the style. There are seriously hundreds of different possibilities you could make here, so spend about 30 minutes tinkering in a free image editor. You’ll be creating your own Instagram styled stock photos in no time!

8) Create Promotional Graphics that Make People Click

Once you have a product for sale, you’ll need to start spreading the word. Promotional graphics (used sparingly) on Pinterest, Twitter, Instagram, and other social media accounts will let your followers discover your new products and will help give you some social cred.

amateur stock photos


You can see from the image above that not only did I crop it, I also rotated it to a completely new angle. After that I added a pretty script font on top of an overlay to help promote the sale.

9) Make Twitter Images that Stop the Scroll

If you’ve been on Twitter more than once or twice, you know that tweets with pictures are waaay more noticeable than text-only tweets.

Standing out is an important part of gaining Twitter followers and encouraging your current followers to actually click through and read your blog posts. Images play a huge part in catching the eye and enticing the reader to click through. Not only that, but they also help to establish your brand and your professional image.

Lucky for us, making Twitter images is a cinch. I use Picmonkey’s Hub to save templates for each of my graphic types.

instagram styled stock photos

Once the template is there, all I have to do for each new image is go in and change the text and background image. Three minutes, tops.

Where Will You Go from Here?

Is your brain overflowing with ideas on how to doll up your own free styled stock photos? Once you’ve gone through the editing process a few times, you’ll quickly find that it’s really easy and makes a huge difference to the visual appeal of your business.

I highly recommend creating branded templates for Pinterest, Instagram, and Twitter using an editor like Canva or Picmonkey. Templates will save you so much time, and they’ll also help keep your branding on track. Good luck!

Before you go…

Don’t forget to grab your free styled stock photos pack right here! This pack is perfect for blog posts, Pinterest pins, Instagram posts, tweet images, and more. And of course, you can customize the photos as much as you’d like using my digital photo editing tutorial above.

Click the image below for your free high-resolution stock photos download:

free high resolution stock photos download


How to make your opt-in forms GDPR-compliant.Can we talk about the new European data protection regulations (GDPR)?

Because I think we need to.

I’ve been trying to put the whole GDPR thing off as long as possible, but it’s time to dig in, guys. And in case you’re late to the party like me, the regulation goes into effect this Friday, May 25th.

We have to catch up real quick.

Now, I won’t be doing a deep dive on what GDPR means for the future of email marketing or anything like that. I just want to help you understand what it is and share the changes I’ll be making so that my opt-in forms are compliant.

Disclaimer: These are only my interpretations of the regulations. This post is not legal advice. Please make sure you consult with your own legal counsel to help you make the right decisions about GDPR.

First off, what is GDPR?

GDPR isn’t really about email marketing, and yet it is…

Here’s why:

The GDPR is really about regulating how the personal data of EU citizens is handled. And since email marketing contains data in the form of email addresses and other contact info, GDPR most definitely applies to email marketing.

The regulations will give EU citizens rights about their data regarding:

  • What will happen with it (before they submit it)
  • Providing explicit consent before it’s collected
  • Knowing what data will be collected
  • Knowing why you’re collecting their data and how you plan to use it
  • The right to modify, update or remove their data completely

What do we need to do to be compliant?

For email marketing, the regulations translate to:

  • Tell people what you will do with their email address before they sign up
  • Let people see the data you’ve collected about them
  • Give them a way to modify their data and unsubscribe
  • Remove all data you have if they request it

Next, how can you make your opt-in forms compliant?

It’s no longer enough to say “Hey! Grab this awesome freebie” and then send people emails. That’s not GDPR-compliant.

The reason is that people are not explicitly agreeing to receive your emails. All they’re explicitly agreeing to is the PDF, so that’s all you can send them. And nothing else.

From here on out, we need to be more transparent with our opt-in forms and let people know we’ll be sending them emails.

Now, you could add a checkbox that says something like this:

[ ] I agree to receive the weekly newsletter.

BUT HOLD UP. What you can’t do with that checkbox is have it pre-checked by default! People will have to manually check it, which we all know is a pain.

Here’s what I’m doing to make my forms GDPR-compliant:

I’m not a big fan of checkboxes and prompts, so I’m going to tweak the copy on my forms instead. I’ll make it clear that people are signing up for my newsletter first and foremost, and the PDF as a bonus. Plus, I’ll add a link to my privacy policy.

As an example, here’s one of my current opt-in forms:

See how there’s no mention of a newsletter or regular emails? It’s all about the PDF.

Here are the changes I plan to make:

Here’s what makes this GDPR-compliant (as far as I can tell so far):

  • People know they’ll be “signing up”
  • My newsletter is mentioned in the text.
  • The main call-to-action is to sign up for my newsletter – the freebie is a bonus.
  • There’s a link to my privacy + terms.

A few other things I’ll be doing:

  • Adding a “modify my subscription” link next to the “unsubscribe” link in emails (so that people can easily update their info)
  • Double opt-in forms. It doesn’t look like this is required for GDPR…just feels like a best practice thing to do from here on out
  • Sending re-engagement emails to current EU subscribers
  • Applying similar copy changes to landing pages
  • Experimenting with the above form changes vs. segmenting EU subscribers (I may prefer to leave the opt-in forms as is, deliver the PDF, and ask for consent to my newsletter in the delivery email.

That’s it!

Again, this is just my interpretation of the regulations and how I plan to be compliant. I’m sure I’ll be tweaking my forms, landing pages, emails, and website as GDPR rolls out and things become clearer…

…and I’ll keep you posted on it all.

Over to you! What changes will you make to comply with GDPR? Are you all set? Or, is your brain still feeling a bit woozy from it all?

I’d love to hear your thoughts, feedback, and tips. Let me know in the comments so we can all benefit and make sense of the new regulation.

I’m off to change my forms. 🙂


Have you been wanting to start a Facebook Group but not sure where to start? This post is for you! I share my best tips for growing an engaged Facebook Group to build an incredible community and increase sales!Hi friends!

If you’re a member of Facebook Groups, you already know what sanity-savers they can be.

Now, I’m not talking about the kind of sanity-savers that drive incredible amounts of traffic or help you grow your business.

Yes, they can do that, but I’m talking about the kind of sanity-savers that make you feel connected to the universe again.

When you’re sitting at your kitchen table in sweats and a t-shirt bangin’ away at your laptop, it’s easy to feel disconnected. And being able to pop into your favorite group, get feedback, share tips, ask questions, and partner up with other members makes you feel like part of something bigger.

(Fo’sure, there’s the dark side of Facebook groups. But that’s for another day!)

Many of you have asked me how to create and grow a Facebook Group, and today, I’m sharing the strategies that have worked for me to help you do the same.

I’ll be drilling down on the art side of creating and promoting a group. For the techie side of how to create a Facebook Group, Neil Patel has a step by step guide for you.

Ready? Let’s dig in.

First, why should you start a Facebook Group?

Well, for starters, you’ll have the opportunity to meet amazing individuals with similar interests and goals. Just like you can in other groups.

But here’s the difference:

In your own group, you have center stage. It’s much easier to be visible as a group owner vs a member because people HAVE to notice you. It’s like networking on steroids.

Here are some other perks:

  • You can reach a broader audience with your posts – you’ll likely get more traffic than other groups
  • More comments on your posts – you can use these to fuel other posts and threads
  • Draw attention to your freebies – pin them to your group for all to see
  • Announce your courses and programs – increased sales
  • Showcase your expertise and build trust – hold Q&A sessions and challenges

Of course, I wouldn’t write about building a Facebook group without pimpin’ my own. 🙂

If you want to network with other professionals and have multiple opportunities to promote your business, I’d love for you to join my Facebook community!

Before you create a Facebook Group

You’ll want to spend some time researching, taking notes, and creating brand assets before you set up your group.

I recommend creating a Google Spreadsheet (or Word doc, Evernote, Excel) so you can keep your ideas in one place. Here’s what mine looks like:
The first step on how to grow a Facebook group is to start with a worksheet to keep track of daily threads.

I create multiple variations to keep my daily threads fresh and new. Then all I have to do is put them in rotation in SmarterQueue. No last-minute wondering what to post. It’s all ready to go!

1) Decide what type of group you want to create.

Here’s where it pays to “think it forward.”

What level of engagement do you want your group to have?

Do you want it to be a promo group where people can sell their products, a group for sharing ideas and tips only, or a mix of both?

And what types of daily threads will you have?

For example:

If you have a wedding planning group, your thread may include the wedding planning highs and lows, best wedding plans, tips, budgeting, and finding photographers, bands, florists, invitations, caterers, and so on.

What about location? Will it be a local, regional or global group where members can buy and sell old wedding items and advertise their services?

As a rule of thumb, sharing groups have higher engagement than promo groups. Buut, it may be easier to get members if you mix it up. Just sayin’.

2) Create a group description.

Take the ideas you have from the previous step and create a group description.

Make sure you include the purpose of your group, who it’s for, and any group rules you have so that everyone can see.

For example, here’s my description:

Promote Facebook Group

See how I include a link to my free resources and my website? Boom.

3) Create a cover photo.

Doesn’t have to be anything fancy. Just a photo of you or a graphic image with the group name.

If you want, you can take it up a notch and brand your cover photo with colors, a logo, and other elements. It’s really up to you.

What size should your cover photo be?

Great question! I’ve got Facebook group cover dimensions and a free template for you.

4) Create daily thread images.

If you plan to run the same threads each week, creating images and scheduling them in advance will save tons of time and headache. This way you can have your group running on semi-autopilot.

Here’s a 1020 x 800 template I use:

Facebook Group daily thread image example


Related: How to Use Photoshop to Create Branded Social Media Images

The last thing you’ll want to do before you create your group is to gather up some Facebook friends and invite them to join. You need to add at least one person (besides you) in order to create the group.

Remember, you can always remove them later!

how to grow a facebook group

Next, it’s time to promote your Facebook Group and get some members!

5) Invite Twitter followers to join.

I send new Twitter followers a message to thank them for following me. In that message, I include an invitation to download a freebie or join my group.

When you do this, make sure you frame your invitation around what’s in it for them. Don’t just ask people to join your group!

Be authentic and human, strike up a conversation. Then let them know about the group and why they should join. What’s in it for them? More sales, networking, support, encouragement? Whatever it is, put it out there!

Whatever you do, don’t send people messages like this:
Grow your Facebook Group using Twitter direct messages.

Ick. What a buzz-kill.

Make sure you make it about them and not you. With me?

6) Invite email subscribers to join.

Don’t forget to email your subscribers! They’re your biggest fast and will likely get the most benefit from joining.

I always include a shout-out at the bottom of my emails, like this:

-P.S. Want your marketing questions answered? I’d love for you to join my Facebook Community where you can network with other professionals, share tips, join forces, and have multiple opportunities to promote your business. Join Online Biz Superheroes.

You can mention your group wherever you prefer – at the beginning, middle, or end of the email.

I like to keep the focus of my email on-topic and close with the group link. Too many buttons and links in the body of the email can be overwhelming, in my book.

7) Include a link on your website.

I just added my Facebook Group to my site navigation. So every time people visit my site, they’ll see the link which will redirect them to the group.

The way I see it, it’s just one more way to make the group visible.

More visibility = more people who know about it = faster growth.

Hmm…sounds like the formula for anything we want to promote, no?

Anyway, we’ll see what happens with it!

8) Mention the group in autoresponders.

When people opt-in to your list or sign up for a freebie, include a link to your group in the Welcome sequence.

Something like:

Hey there! Here’s the link to download the Guide to Wall-Hanging Art.

If you’d like more free resources like this, plus tips to design and sell your wall hangings, join my Facebook community [link].

If you include this extra line in all of your welcome sequences, everyone who signs up for your free offers will have an opportunity to join. And it’s all happening behind the scenes.

The best part is, the more opt-ins you have on your website, the more members you’ll likely get.

9) Add to social profiles

This one sounds like a no-brainer, but it’s easy to overlook. And really, it’s not hard to add a link to your group in your social profiles.

What IS hard is deciding how many calls to action (CTAs) you should include. After all, Instagram, Twitter, and even Pinterest don’t give us much real estate to work with, friend. It’s up to us to choose our primary CTAs.

My picks? My free resources and Facebook Group. Here’s how I include both in my Twitter profile:

Promote a Facebook Group from your Twitter profile.

What about you?

Are you looking to promote a new course or program? Get more subscribers? Or are you all about your group right now?

Psst…Curious about that fancy URL for the group?

You can do it too! Just create a branded domain (through GoDaddy) and have them forward the domain to your group.

I came up with the idea when I started my YouTube channel. There’s no way to create pretty links in YouTube descriptions, and this is my workaround.

#SHAMELESSPLUG Subscribe to my channel! It’s brand new and I can really use your support to help grow it. ✨ You’re the best!

10) Invite members of other Facebook Groups

This one has worked well for me. If you’re in a number of groups, you can direct message people who seem like they may be a good fit.

#WORDOFCAUTION You have to be careful with this strategy. Make sure you follow the group rules. If they don’t allow direct messaging or promoting groups, don’t do it.

And don’t go crazy inviting 100 people a day or anything like that. Maybe ten people every other day, you get the gist.

As long as you mention the benefits of your group (and follow through with your promise), people should be receptive to your invite. Most people have thanked me for inviting them…

11) Invite people who sign up for webinars.

This one I haven’t tried and am so excited to test for my upcoming webinar:

When people register for the webinar, instead of redirecting them to a Thank You page, send them to your Facebook Group. Simple.

I’m going to try this one soon and will keep you posted on my results. If you get to it before me, please let me know in the comments. I’d love to hear all about it!

12) Pin a post or a tweet to your timeline.

This is another one of those things you can put into rotation with other promotions.

Create a post/tweet about your group, then pin it to your Facebook and Twitter timeline. It will be the first post people see when they land on your page.

Pin a group post to your Facebook Page.

Pinning a post is super easy. See those three dots in the upper right of the post?

You can boost the pinned post and reach a bigger audience.

(I’d keep the budget small, say $5-10 a day for a week, and see what happens.)

Even if you boost another post and people visit your page, they’ll see the pinned post first. Woo!

13) Create an Instagram Story about it.

Instagram Stories work! I easily 2x my Instagram traffic every time I create a story.

The best part is, they’re fun and easy to create. Record a quick video or create a graphic about your group and use Instagram’s editing tools to add colors, text, hashtags, and more.

If you enable Save to Archive in your settings, the story will appear on your profile until you remove it, so new followers have a chance to see it.


Create an Instagram Story about your Facebook group.


14) Share your Facebook Group on social media.

You know what? I ALWAYS forget to promote my offers.

It’s terrible! I had to create a product promo worksheet to force myself to get into a routine of promoting offers in the same way I promote blog posts.

And to this day, I haven’t shared a single post about my group on social media (except for the pinned post, step #8 above).

So, friends, I’m off to start sharing!

Here’s my plan:

  • Create three Facebook/Twitter images
  • Create three IG posts
  • Create one pin

Hook those bad boys up in SmarterQueue, post them to my “freebies” category, and let them loop.

Curious about how to schedule posts with SmarterQueue? I’ve got a full guide for you right here.

That’s a wrap! Those are my tips on how to create a Facebook Group (and how to grow it to get more customers). What tips do you have to share?


Step by Step Guide to Amazon FBA for Beginners | Want to start a business from home, or just looking for side hustle tips and ideas? In this post, I’m breaking down the steps to all things Amazon FBA. Click through to learn the best ways to get started, source products, and brainstorm Amazon products ideas so you can start an online business that makes money. #makemoney #makemoneybloggingWant to know how to get started with an Amazon FBA Business?  Looking for a good Amazon FBA course?

Have I got a surprise for you guys!

Today, an amazingly talented member of my Facebook group, Paige Cole, is giving you a peak behind the curtain of her Amazon FBA course.

Amazon FBA whaa?

It stands for Fullfilled by Amazon and is an e-commerce business model for selling products on Amazon.

We’re talkin’ real, physical products. Things like cups and pens and magnetic clips and holders. Remember those? 🙂

Here’s the perk:

Instead of you warehousing and shipping out products one by one, Amazon will store your products in their fulfillment center and ship them out to customers as they order.

In a nutshell, an Amazon FBA business entails:

  • Sourcing products
  • Private labeling / branding
  • Storing products in Amazon’s fulfillment center
  • Marketing and selling

Read on for Paige’s guide on how to set this up.

This post contains affiliate links, which means I may receive a commission if you click a link and purchase something that I’ve recommended.


It’s been said that 2018 is the year of private-label products.

In fact, Digiday and CNBC both posted articles about 2018 as the breakout year for private label.

I began private labeling on Amazon last year!  So, you could say I jumped in before the craze. After experiencing my own trial and errors in launching private-label products, I’m breaking down how to get started with Amazon FBA step by step.

1. Rifle through the Amazon “Under $25” bin

The first step is to decide what to sell on Amazon.

You know that “under $25” bin some retailers have? Amazon FBA has its own version. If you enter any ‘ole search term in the Amazon search engine, you will be presented a list of products. Mozy on over to the left of the product list and you will see a list of categories and subcategories.

Let’s say Liza is an up and coming Amazon seller. She enters a search term to narrow her search.  Let’s say she is starting from scratch, though, and is selling based on niche market and opportunity.  In that case, she hits “Today’s Deals” under the search bar.

A list of items will pop up running the gamut of kitchenware to electronics. Liza clicks “Under $25 on the left hand column under “Price.” PRESTO! Now her search is limited to items that are more generic and less brand-name oriented.  She scrolls a couple of pages and finds yoga mats. There’s a lot more that goes into selecting products to sell on Amazon. You can read all about it here.

You can buy an inventory order of yoga mats, on the cheap, and give them an edge over the other Amazon yoga mats with your specialty design.

VWALLAH!  You have a private label product. But wait there’s more . . .

2. Contact a manufacturer

If you are selling a high volume of product for an affordable price, you are going to need to negotiate with an international manufacturer.  Why? International manufacturers simply offer exponentially more competitive prices for affordable goods. is the most common platform but here is a list of some additional manufacturers to check out:

You’ve heard the term “fake it til you make it?”  Even though you’re a first-timer, just express confidence and remember to come across professionally. Remember this is a business relationship we are trying to build.

3. Branding is everything

Let’s face it, you are selling something generic. The way you bring value, then, relies on how well you brand yourself and design your product. Let’s return to the example of Liza and the yoga mats for a moment. Liza is selling yoga mats. A lot of people are selling yoga mats. The way Liza can add value, is to hire a designer to create specialized graphic designs for the yoga mats or maybe choose a softer more padded slip resistant material.

If she is creating seasonal yoga mats, she might have a graphic designer add a personal touch to summer, winter, spring, and fall themes (which she can stamp or sticker onto the yoga mats along with her logo).

Fiverr is a great place to hire a freelance designer. is also a hidden gem because of the level of vetting the company does. With FreeeUp, you get personalized attention throughout every step of the hiring process, and its still affordable!

4. Create an Amazon FBA  listing

An Amazon FBA listing is the last step between the product and the sale. It should deliver four high-value touchpoints:

  • Upload high-resolution product image
  • Include product specifics
  • Deliver a unique value proposition
  • Create a company page

What is a unique value proposition?

A value proposition is marketing speak for “answer these 4 questions”:

  • Why is your brand better and different than the competition?
  • Who specifically does your product target and what type of specific topics, words and phrases appeal to them?
  • Where did your company come from & how does your company’s context put you in a unique position to provide this product?
  • Why should the customer trust you to be an expert in this particular category of product (aka niche)?

You should write the answer to these four questions out in paragraph form and then use them to inform your crisp, bulleted product description and paragraph on your brand page describing your context and vision. Remember to incorporate your targeted keywords here as well!

5. Link up with Amazon

Thanks to the boom in private label business, Amazon offers Fulfilled by Amazon as a service. They’ll do everything from packaging to providing special exposure to the Amazon prime market.

FBA covers:

  • Customer delivery
  • Returns
  • Customer service

This will save you much sweat and furrowing-of-brow as some of the intricacies of the delivery process are curated for you!

6. Spread the word

There are 3 main ways to promote your products:

Amazon advertising

You can sign up for Amazon advertising here.  By integrating your advertising directly on the Amazon site—you will reap the benefits of special access to built in resources, exposure, & analytics you wouldn’t otherwise.  Also—experience shows that ranking increases with use of the Amazon advertising platform.

Email marketing

Email marketing via ConvertKit gives you higher status in the Amazon ecosystem by bringing leads from the interwebs back to Amazon!  You can send a welcome e-mail when customers sign up for your newsletter or buy a product. Then follow up with a drip campaign that shows off your expertise in your product niche! Here’s a complete tutorial on ConvertKit to help you get started.

Social media marketing

It’s free to set up an Instagram & Facebook account. Reaching out to Instagram influencers via Direct Messages and email is a great way of raising awareness for your product. And hey, add-on tools like ShopTab (only $10 a month) make a storefront with clickbacks to Amazon immediately available and visually appealing on your Facebook page.

???? Ready to start selling on Amazon? Click here to find out more about Paige’s Amazon FBA course.


Simple productivity systems for busy bloggers to help you streamline and scale your business! It includes time management tips, goal planning ideas, goal planning tips for bloggers, business goal setting, and productivity hacks to help you get more done in less time, plus a free goal setting planner.Have you tried time blocking to help with time management?

I was introduced to it a while back and let me just say, total game-changer.

Seeing what I had to do each day, down to the minute, made me feel like a productivity goddess.

I finally had an intelligent way to organize my list and a system that accounted for everything, even things I always forget like exercising, taking breaks, and running errands. I’d even gotten into a routine of blocking out the same time every day for similar tasks, which was like, whoa. I thought for sure that would 10X my productivity right there.

Problem was, my perfect time blocking calendar still didn’t translate into a perfect 40-hour workweek.

I still had more to do than I could manage and was struggling to get everything done. I’d go from writing a post, to working on a project, to meeting with clients, to working out, to writing my blog post again.

Sound familiar?

Most of us know that multi-tasking doesn’t work, but it’s hard to stop trying!

I think I finally nailed it this time, though.

I figured out why time blocking ALONE isn’t the answer, and why we need a whole new productivity paradigm. In fact, today, I’m putting our entire concept of productivity under a microscope and giving it a face-lift.

Here’s what I’m covering:

  • Redefining what productivity means
  • The power of short-term “sprints”
  • The right way to drill down on your goals
  • How to stay in your Passion Zone (more on that in this post)
  • Life-saving systems that you can’t do without

Let’s dig in.

Step 1: Time to redefine productivity.

The standard definition of productivity is some variation of: a measure of output per unit of input.

Now, this input/output formula might work for machines but not so much for humans. It’s turning us into robots, y’all! All we care about is getting more done, and quick like.

I’m a huge fan of productivity but we seriously need to flip the switch on all this.

Imagine what it would feel like to spend LESS time getting MORE done! That’s what we’re shooting for. And the best way to do it is to establish criteria for our to-do lists.

Time to shrink ’em down, friend.

I know you may be thinking How can I even think about trimming down my list? Things need to get done and I can’t just drop them!

I’ve got you covered! We’re going to create a plan to find your freedom and increase productivity at the same time. I want you to be able to work in your sweet spot 24/7 and still get incredible amounts of stuff done.

What we’re aiming for is a better process to manage your workweek, so that when tasks pop up (and they always do!), you run them through these four filters before adding to your calendar:

  • Is this something YOU need to do?
  • Does it need to get done AT ALL?
  • Is it a priority?
  • How can you outsource it?

These next few steps will give you a framework to do just that.

Step #2: Set short-term goals.

Everything starts with goals . . . the trick is to set the right ones.  Here’s a quick exercise to help you do it:

Grab a piece of paper and write down five things that ONLY YOU can do for your business. These are things you can’t outsource even if you want to desperately!

I’ll bet sharing posts on Facebook and creating images aren’t top-of-mind, amirite? The reason is that when we dig deep, we know the difference between busy work and real work. We just need a little structure to help us act on it.

That’s where goal setting comes in.

In my mind, the best goals are short sprints over a period of, say, three months. Far away enough to allow you to focus and really dig in, and close enough to see the end goal.

Here’s why I say this:

As a short-distance runner in high school, I’d leap ahead of my teammates and sprint straight to the finish line. But longer races? Eeeks, I was a mess. I’d either run out of breath after the first mile or drop back because it kept going and going, with no end in sight.

I thinking building an online business is a lot like running. We need to see the finish line to keep our momentum going. Three months is a perfect sprint. 🙂

So my question for you is: What sprint are you in?

If you’re a bit stumped with what your goals should be right now (most of us could use a nudge to validate and act on our instincts), it may help to look at your business in sprints, like this:

  • Launch Sprint: Launch your website and brand
  • Hustle Sprint: Get traffic, subscribers, and clients
  • Growth Sprint: Create courses, products and funnels
  • Profit Sprint: Automate and scale

Each sprint has its own strategic focus and priorities (more on this in my DIY-Your-Biz Blueprint).

For example:

If you’re in the Hustle Sprint, your goals are to get traffic, subscribers, and clients. Everything you do in this sprint needs to support your goals. That means when other things pop up, you put them on a waiting list or delegate to a team member.

Bonus: I created this simple planner to help you put what you learn into action and clarify the goals for your next sprint. Click on the image below to get started.

Use the 90-Day Blog Planner to set goals so you can get to your next level quickly.

What if you need to rerun your sprint?

Great question!

That’s perfectly okay . . . Rome wasn’t built in 90 days. In fact, I ran the Hustle Sprint for the better part of 2017. I’d run it over and over until I hit my traffic and subscriber goal.

Today, I’m in the Growth Sprint and have to admit, feeling a bit out of my comfort zone. I’m creating courses instead of blogging and have less time to develop infographics and content upgrades. And it bugs me to see my traffic fluctuating when I know I can easily increase it.

I also know I can catch up to it later. I read once that women can have it all . . . wonderful kids, an abundant career, amazingly supportive family . . . just maybe not all at the same time.

That applies to building a business. One sprint at a time, yo.

Step #3: Drill down on your goals.

Here’s where you start getting specific. In the Hustle example above, your goals might be to:

  • Get 5,000 subscribers
  • Hit 10,000 pageviews
  • Win three $10K clients

From here, it’s time to figure out the specific projects and tasks that have to happen to hit your goals. If we break these goals down, your individual tasks might look like this:

  • Write blog posts
  • Create share images
  • Create infographics
  • Share on social media
  • Join and share to Facebook Groups
  • Share to Pinterest Groups and Tribes
  • Create content upgrades
  • Do keyword research
  • Add keywords to blog posts (on-page SEO)
  • Look for guest post opportunities
  • Create YouTube videos
  • Start a Facebook Group
  • Message potential customers in Facebook and LinkedIn Groups
  • Join and share to LinkedIn Groups
  • Host a giveaway
  • Do a webinar
  • Make connections on LinkedIn
  • Create email sequences, landing pages, and opt-in forms
  • Create cold email sequences to potential customers
  • Find stock images (or take original photos)

Phew! This quick list just keeps growing – I’m sure it can even double from here.

Can you see the problem here? Even when you use amazing tools like the time blocking template below, you’ve got two things to add to your list for everyone one you check off.

Not anymore, you passion-zone-goddess, you! You only have to choose five tasks. My picks would be:

  • Write blog posts
  • Create content upgrades
  • Host a webinar
  • Do keyword research
  • Add keywords to blog posts

I chose the first three because content needs to come from you. Those last two, keyword research and SEO? Every entrepreneur should know how to optimize content for both organic search and social media. Traffic is the lifeline of your business, and the last thing I want is for some SEO’er to get your site penalized by Google.

If you want, you can use the time blocking template I created to put this new productivity paradigm to the test. Click the image below to download.

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

Step #4: Next up, what can you outsource?

A wonderful member of my Facebook group was having a hard time staying consistent with social media, especially sharing to Facebook Groups and Tribes.

Sound familiar?

When this happens, you’ve got two choices:

  • Create systems and workflows (step #5 below)
  • Hire a virtual staff to assist

Now, you may be thinking It’s too early on to hire an assistant! I still have a full-time job and am not even monetizing my site yet!

I hear ya! It can be hard to bite the bullet. This is one of those things you should do early on in your entrepreneurial career. Hiring virtual assistants is the smartest move I ever made. They are life-savers! If you don’t have one on your team yet, stop what you’re doing and hire one.

Generally speaking, virtual assistants fall into these roles:

  • Video editing
  • Web design
  • Graphic design
  • Social media management
  • General VA (GVA)

First of all, that last one is the person every single employee should have on your team. My GVA is the person I lean on day to day in my business, and she helps me more than any other employee!

The other thing I’ve come to respect and acknowledge is that no one person can wear every hat. To maximize the potential of your team, you want to keep every employee working in their Passion Zone.

It’s best to hire a general assistant for daily admin tasks, a graphic designer for all things graphic, a video editor for courses, screencasts, and YouTube videos, and a social media manager.

Some tasks you can outsource:

  • Social media
  • Moderating Facebook groups
  • Content promotion
  • Graphic design and images
  • Adding tags and images to blog posts
  • Publishing blog posts
  • Proofreading posts
  • Ebook design and layout
  • Opt-in form design
  • Promoting Facebook pages
  • Monitoring Twitter accounts
  • Sharing to Tribes
  • Sharing to Facebook Groups
  • Creating spreadsheets and worksheets
  • Miscellaneous tasks
  • Creating and editing landing pages
  • Outreach on social media
  • Research guest post opportunities
  • Invite LinkedIn connections
  • Researching user-generated content
  • Scheduling to Instagram

Where can you find virtual assistants?

Great question!

Upwork, Facebook Groups, and online marketplaces like are places where you can find extremely talented employees.

Pro tip: Effort in = effort out when it comes to building your team. Be explicit with what you expect and provide clear job descriptions upfront. Whatever you do, don’t expect employees to figure out what to do on their own! Record training videos, hold weekly Skype calls, and use time tracking software. Thank me later. 🙂


Step #5: Create systems and workflows.

If you can create a system for what you want to achieve in each sprint, you can reach your end goals a lot faster, and stay in your Passion Zone for the entire race.

And the best part is, you can rinse and repeat over and over again to keep hitting massive goals with your next sprint.

Kick-butt systems = Insane time-savers

Funny, even the simplest system can make big tasks seem small. Here’s an example:


Duh, right? Seems like an obvious thing to number your Dropbox folders.

Alas, only in hindsight! I picked this gem up from Amy Porterfield. You’ll be amazed how fast you can breeze through folders when they’re organized like this.

Here are other business systems I use every day:

Google Spreadsheets

My secret weapon! I use spreadsheets a million times a day.

Anything you can do in Excel you can do in Google Spreadsheets  . . . format text, merge cells, freeze columns, clip text, customize fonts, import colors, create formulas, add borders, add/delete rows . . . and then some.

But what really sealed the deal? I can instantly share spreadsheets with my team and track what they’re working on, what needs to get done, and who’s slackin’ off (kidding).

Here’s how we use spreadsheets:

We have one master marketing sheet that includes multiple spreadsheets for everything we do, including:

  • Tribes tracker
  • Facebook Group promo threads
  • Blog Promotion
  • Product promotion
  • Pinterest keywords
  • Keyword Research
  • Blog ideas
  • Sales funnels worksheet
  • Hashtag worksheet
  • Pinterest Groups tracker
  • LinkedIn Groups
  • Images to create
  • Old blog posts
  • Online Biz Superheroes threads
  • Best pins / tweets
  • Affiliate programs
  • Income tracker

Want to see spreadsheets in action? I created this blog promotion worksheet you can start using today:
Download the Blog promotion worksheet to get traffic to your blog.

Every project or task gets its own spreadsheet where my team and I collaborate, track progress, and brainstorm new ideas.

For example:

Once a month, we grab quick stats on Pinterest Groups and Tribes and document them on the sheet. Then, we use that data to drive our pinning strategy and track share dates to each group/tribe.

Can you see how much time that saves?

No more scratching your head wondering why or when you shared a pin. And the best part is, you’ll only be sharing to tribes or groups that drive traffic.

Same thing for keywords and hashtags. You want to have them at your fingertips, ready to post. When your GVA asks which hashtags to post on IG, just point her to the spreadsheet. Check.

Templates, templates, templates!

You need them, friend. Alot of ’em! The more templates you have, the faster you and your team can get things done.

I recommend you keep templates for these on hand:

  • Landing pages
  • Opt-in buttons and forms
  • Share images
  • Social media profile images
  • Ebooks and printables
  • Email marketing

What tools should you use to create them? My vote is Canva or Photoshop for image templates, Canva or InDesign for Ebooks and printables, and hands down, ConvertKit for email marketing.

Related: How to Create Branded Social Media Images in Photoshop

A Content Calendar

Having a hard time figuring out what to post on social media?

Wish you had a system to plan your content so that you always have something to share?

A content calendar is a tool I’ve come to appreciate BIG TIME. One thing’s for sure, a content calendar will help you post consistently, organize your blog ideas, set monthly social media goals, plus gather images, keywords, publish dates, and deadlines all of your content.

The best part is, you get a high-level view of every piece of content you plan to share so you can coordinate it with important events, promotions, and products.

If you want, you can download this free content calendar template and start using it right away.

That’s a wrap! Hope you guys have your best sprint ever!