How to Optimize Posts for SEO | If you're ready to get more blog traffic but a bit stumped with where to start, this post shows you how to write SEO friendly blog posts to help more people find your content through Google. It includes a free printable SEO checklist too!

The Ultimate Guide to SEO For Bloggers and Entrepreneurs | This post includes easy non-techie and semi-techie ways to optimize your posts for search engines. It includes a free printable SEO checklist too!

Search engine optimization is a big topic that can easily trip you up.

It definitely threw me for a loop! I was never quite sure what to do, where to place keywords, or how long my posts should be.

Sound familiar?

It’s hard to know how crazy you need to get with SEO. So if just hearing the word makes you feel flustered and overwhelmed, don’t worry. I’m going to clear up any confusion you may have around it right now!

For starters, on-page SEO is just a fancy way of saying Let’s create content that people want to read.

And then…

Let’s tweak it so that more people can find it.

I like to think of it in two parts:

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

Not to worry, the semi-techie part isn’t all that techie. If you’re absolutely determined to go crazy on search engine optimization, focus on the non-techie part. After all, you’re in the content business. 🙂

Lucky for you, content is the name of the game for Google and other search engines. Every time you write an epic post, you’re creating an asset that will work like an employee for your business. Plus, you can always go back and make it even more SEO-tastic later on.

My take on SEO, algorithms, indexing and all that

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

Let’s say Jane decides she’s done with skinny jeans and wants a pair of “faded bell bottom jeans”. So she searches for them and waits for Google to crawl different websites and show her the jeans she wants.

Now, you happen to be a fashion blogger and know a thing or two about faded bell bottom jeans. And you want Google to show your blog to Jane.

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

We’ll drill down more on this in the semi-techie part.

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

Let’s take a look at my top SEO tips for bloggers.

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

basic seo checklist


1) Write great content

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

When you write great content, you’re going to check the box on a few other things at the same time:

  • Long-form, well-written content
  • Includes multimedia – graphics, charts, video
  • Predominantly text-based

If you forget about these and just focus on writing great content, you’re probably going to address them without even realizing it. What I mean by this is, you’ll be writing SEO content with very little effort.

Let me explain how that’s so:

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

How’s that for SEO-friendly content?

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

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

Other bloggers will likely have covered your topic. But that doesn’t mean there’s nothing for you to add.

Maybe you’re BFFs with your topic. Or, maybe you’re out on your first date together. Either way, that’s the inside scoop that readers want. They don’t need you to regurgitate the same content they can find on 20 other blogs. They’re looking for you to help them interpret things and make sense of them. Make sure you infuse each post with your experience and perspective.   

Okay, with that out of the way…

If you’re wondering how to make your posts even more valuable so you can really rock this whole “SEO for bloggers” strategy, there are a few things you can do.

I’m sure you understand your audience and have an editorial calendar full of blog ideas. Still, we can all benefit from knowing more about our readers. That’s where a little research can be your friend. It’s pretty easy to get inside the head of your audience if you have the right tools.

These are my favorite research tools:

Social media

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

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


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

qualitative content analysis - Buzzsumo


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

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

Google Keyword Planner

Let’s look at another way to research using Google’s free keyword research tool, Keyword Planner. Just so you know, this is a useful all-around tool that will help you brainstorm different blog ideas PLUS find keywords to include in your posts, which is one of those semi-techie things I’ll get to next.

For the non-techie part, Keyword Planner will help you understand what terms people are searching for on Google. Let’s say you want to write a post about SEO but aren’t sure which subtopic to focus on. You can use the Keyword Planner to get some ideas.

Let’s say you want to write a post about SEO but aren’t sure which subtopic to focus on. You can use the Keyword Planner to get some ideas.

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

keyword research tool - Google keyword Planner Now that we have the non-techie SEO tips covered, let’s get into the semi-techie stuff…and remember, you got this!

Related: How to Create a Content Strategy for Your Blog


2) Add the keyword to your post

It’s time to level up your post with keywords!

Let’s say you just used Keyword Planner to find some keywords. The next step is to add them to your post.

For example:

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

Psstt…Just so you know, a keyword isn’t a word. It’s a bunch of words strung together into a “keyword phrase”.  If I had targeted the word SEO as my keyword instead of the keyword phrase SEO for bloggers, I’d likely show up on page 357 of Google.

Ok, let’s move on…

So now that I have my keyword phrase, here’s what I’m going to do next (and what you should do too). I’m going to add it to my post in seven places:

1) The blog title

If you only have time to change one thing in your post, make it your blog title. Make sure it includes your keyword and aim for 55  characters. Any longer and Google will cut it off.seo title tag

2) The meta description

Meta descriptions are less about SEO and more about grabbing people’s attention in search results.

seo meta descriptionBut they’re still important! Include your keyword and keep the meta description at about 160 characters. Google will bold any keywords in your description so they stand out.

3) Throughout the post itself

Add the keyword to your intro and outro and a few times throughout the content. Be careful not to over-stuff your post with your keyword, though. Google’s onto that trick, *wink.

If you use Yoast SEO, follow the prompts and you’ll be on the right track.

4) Subheadings (H2 tags)

Headings are your friends. They streamline your posts and make it easy for people to follow along and keep track of what they’re reading.

If it makes sense, go ahead and add the keyword but don’t force it. For example, here’s what NOT to do:

  • Blog Post Checklist #1: Use a Featured Image
  • Blog Post Checklist #2: Optimize Your Posts
  • Blog Post Checklist #3: Add Internal Links
  • Blog Post Checklist #4: Add a Content Upgrade

Yep, I tried that and paid the price (what did I know?). Google caught on and dropped me from page 1 to page 7, quick like. So be careful and only use the keyword if it sounds natural and organic. Even then, limit it to just one subheading.

There are plenty of other places to include your keyword.

5) Image alt text

Yes, it true! People can find your content through image searches. In fact, my fashion designer friend gets most of her customers that way.

So what images are we talking about? And what the heck is “alt text”?

I’m going to clear it all up for you right now!  In terms of images, there are two kinds:

  • The featured image
  • Secondary images

The featured image is your main blog image and the one that’s shared on social media. Now, since you’re an epic blogger, you likely have images within your post too. Those are secondary images.

Next up, the alt text…that’s the text that would show in place of an image if it can’t load. It’s also a web accessibility thing.

From Moz:

“Adding alternative text to photos is first and foremost a principle of web accessibility. Visually impaired users using screen readers will be read an alt attribute to better understand an on-page image.”

Bottom line, Google takes alt text seriously so we should too. In WordPress, this is where you’ll find it (while you’re there, go ahead and add your keyword to the image title):

seo friendly images If you want to be extra clever, make your alt text something elaborate and descriptive for Pinterest so that when people save your pin, the description goes with it.

Update: Some experts say that alt text should describe the image, and that’s it. They argue that pin descriptions doubling as alt text can hurt your SEO rather than help. So if you want, you can use Social Warfare or Tasty Pins to separate pin descriptions from the alt text.

Either way, just know that your target keyword goes in the alt text of the featured image. Use related keywords for the alt text of secondary images.

6) Image names

Same thing for image names. All those images I mentioned above should include your keyword in the name. What I like to do is use the blog post title for the featured image name. And for secondary images, I’ll use different variations of my related keywords.

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

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

And my image name would be:


7) In the post URL

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

seo friendly url See how the URL for my SEO for bloggers post is, and not some strange set of numbers, like, or even That’s what you want yours to look like.

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


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

Stay with me, friend, here’s how:

3) Install the Yoast SEO plugin

Luckily, you don’t have to remember all of these SEO tweaks on your own! If you use WordPress, the Yoast SEO plugin is indispensable and tops my list of bangin’ plugins for bloggers.

Once you install it, you’ll see a section beneath the edit window where you can enter your keyword, edit the SEO title, and write a meta description.

wordpress seo by yoast From there, the Yoast plugin will give you a checklist of things to do, including keyword prompts for your content, permalink, images, headings, and other places we covered above. You’ll know Yoast is happy when you scroll up to the Publish section (top right) and see the green “SEO Good” icon. 🙂

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

4) Link to related blog posts

Links to your website are good! They send signals to Google that your content is popular and tell it to start paying more attention to your website.

Problem is, it can be hard to control external links (from other websites to yours). You know what you can control though?

Internal links.

Those are the ones that link from your post to related blog posts on your website. They help Google understand what your post is about, make you look popular, and increase your average visit time. All of this is good stuff, friend!

Plus, readers will spend more time hopping around from post to post. That’s another one of those things that tells Google, Hey people love my content. Gotta boost it now. *wink.

This right here is an example of interlinking.

5) Check your site speed

Google is all about the user experience and knows that people peace out when sites load slowly, so site speed is a HUGE ranking factor.

You can actually be penalized for having a slow site, which means that your posts won’t rank as highly as they could.

To check how quickly your site loads, use GtmetrixPingdom, or Google Pagespeed Insights. Aim for under 3 seconds.

If your site runs slow, what should you do?

Great question!

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

It’s super easy to use. Just upload your image and download the compressed version of it. Sometimes it will compress your images by a lot and other times just a little. Every little bit counts. 🙂

SEO for Bloggers tip

6) Social media

It’s true, social media doesn’t have much to do with on-page SEO. But I’m throwin’ it in here anyway!

I’ve found social media to be a huge traffic source. So not to stress you out, but if you don’t have a social media following you may want to start. You’ll get more traffic from both Google and social media. And you’ll likely get indirect traffic as more people link to your content on social media. It’s a win-win, in my book.

There you have it! That’s my ultimate guide to SEO for bloggers.

What SEO tips are working for you right now? Let’s add them to the list!


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!


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!



6 Easy Ways to Drive Traffic to Your Content And Your Business | Struggling with how to get more people to download your free checklist or template? This post is for you! It includes 6 tips to help promote your content and grow your email list. Click through for all the tips!Now that you’ve developed a super valuable ebook or checklist, you can sit back and wait for people to find it, right?

Hah! If only it were that easy.

Now it’s time to let as many people as you can know about it so that they can find it.

This is where having a content promotion strategy comes into play. Here are a few steps you can follow to drive traffic and get the best possible results for your lead magnet.

1. Create a landing page

The first way to drive traffic to your lead magnet is to create a landing page for it. This should be a simple page on your website with a description of your content and a form so people can provide their email in exchange for the download.

The landing page should let people know exactly what they can expect to receive once they click. Ideally, you’ll remove navigation and other links from the landing page so that readers have only one thing to focus on: the “submit” button.

Here’s a sample landing page to use as a guide:

landing page example

Once you have the landing page, you’ll need to create a call to action button or CTA. This button is different from the download button on your landing page. You’ll use this CTA throughout the rest of your website to drive traffic to the landing page.

Make sure the design of the call to action is unique so that it stands out from other elements on the page and captures people’s attention immediately. Do some A/B testing to find out which combination of colors, fonts, placement and size are most effective in getting people to click.

The best way to grab the reader’s attention is to use actionable verbs such as “Download Guide Now” or “Get the Report”. People need to know quickly what you want them to do, and if you use passive text such as “Report” or “Guide”, they may not get it right away. Be as clear and direct as possible with your call to action.

Here’s an example of a CTA:

Call to Action example

Notice how both the CTA and the landing page include an image of the book so that when people click through, there’s a clear connection. Visitors know immediately that they’re in the right place. Taking that a step further, it’s important to use consistent messaging, titles and naming conventions as well.  For instance, if you call it a “guide” in your CTA, don’t use the word “ebook” on the landing page. This is a small but important detail that can make a huge difference.

2. Place the CTA on high performing pages

One of the easiest ways to promote content is on your website.

If you have Google Analytics installed (which you should), you can easily see which pages are most popular and get the most visitors. Chances are good that your home page tops the list, so be sure include a prominent CTA there.

Don’t forget to include CTAs on your blog posts too. You may drive tons of traffic to your website through your blog pages, but if you don’t engage visitors once they read your article, you’ve got a missed opportunity.

A natural “next step” for readers to take is to download an ebook or guide that’s related to the blog post. Since they’re already engaged with your content and in “research” mode, there’s a good chance they will click on your offer in order to learn more.

Place the CTA in the right sidebar of you blog and within the article itself, either early in the post or at the end of the article.

Even though the bulk of your CTAs should be driving traffic to content, it’s okay to drive people to other pages on your site as well, as long as they’re related. And every now and again, use a call to action to your services or product pages. Some readers may be ready to purchase and want to learn about what you offer.

(NOTE: Want to create content that turns visitors into customers and grows your list by thousands?? Get my Irresistible Lead Magnet Checklist.)

Turn existing traffic into leads and more sales with my Irresistible Lead Magnet Checklist!

3. Email it to subscribers

You’ve got an email list. Use it!

Once you’ve developed your ebook or checklist, create an email campaign to let your subscribers know about it. Make sure your email includes the benefits of your freebie and answers questions that people will most likely have about it.

Keep in mind that each freebie you create may not be relevant to everyone on your mailing list. The more targeted your email, the better your conversion rate will be. You first need to segment your contacts and create targeted lists for each piece of content.

You also want to differentiate the content you offer existing customers from what you offer other people. You might offer one ebook providing special value and detailed information for customers and a more general introductory one for leads.

Emails can be simple text, like this one:

Email example

Or HTML with images and graphics like this one:

HTML email

Your HTML email can include an image of your ebook, a short description and bullet points highlighting the information. Once readers click through, they’ll be taken to your landing page with your opt-in form. Be sure to include share buttons on your email as well as your landing page so that subscribers can share your content with their connections.

4. Share it on social media

The same way that you use your social media profiles to share blog posts, you have to make people aware of your premium content. This may take a little extra work, but with the right social media strategy you can drive traffic to your content that rivals search engines.

Here’s a sample sequence for social media sharing:

  • Tweet about it. The first day your content is available, tweet about it 3 or 4 times and include a picture of your ebook and a link to your landing page. Don’t forget to include 2 or 3 hashtags as well.
  • Share it once to Google+. The best way to comment on Google+ is to use a bold, eye-catching title and short paragraphs that describe what your book is about. At the end of your commentary, ask people a question to start a conversation about it. Just like Twitter, you’ll want to include 2 or 3 hashtags. Once you’ve shared it, +1 your share to start the ball rolling and encourage others to share. You only need to share it on Google+ once on the first day.
  • Share to LinkedIn. Copy the Google+ commentary to share to your LinkedIn profile and groups.
  • Share to Facebook. Post the same commentary to your Facebook profile, business pages, and any groups.
  • Schedule additional tweets. Tweets are gone in a second, so use Buffer or Hootsuite to schedule more tweets for the first week. Keep your tweets fresh by tweeting something different each time and using different hashtags. Tweet an excerpt once, then tweet your thoughts about the book, ask a question, point out key takeaways, and so on. Make sure you add a picture of your ebook with a link to your landing page.

Once you create a following, you’ll have more visibility for your book. As your followers share your posts with their own connections, you should see a substantial boost in traffic. This type of social media sharing is what creates viral landing pages.

5. Create a Facebook Contest

Facebook contests are a powerful way to gain exposure and place your ebook in the hands of new audiences.

You’ll want to create a brand page for your ebook with the same information you included on the landing page: title, key points and benefits, bullet points, and so on. Include a link to your landing page on your brand page.

Once your page is up and running, it’s time to attract followers who will engage with your content and download your book.

Here are a few tips for creating your contest:

  • Make the entry steps simple. The shorter the entry the better.
  • Use an actionable CTA. (“Download the report here”, “Get the details”).
  • Include a great visual of your ebook. Use the same one you shared to social media profiles.
  • Promote the contest. Announce it on your website, on social media and to your subscribers.
  • Keep the enthusiasm going. Contact winners personally and announce your next contest to keep fans engaged.

6. Reach out to influencers

Guest posting on well-known blogs is a powerful way to drive traffic, especially if your own blog doesn’t have a lot of traffic already. By reaching out to influential bloggers, tweeters and brands in your space, you can reach their followers and generate qualified leads from new audiences.

And it’s not as hard as you think, especially when you offer an ebook that is packed with great information. There are many bloggers who like to share content that is relevant to their audiences.

The first step is to find top blogs and influencers in your niche and in your target market. In case you don’t already know, influencers are trusted authorities in their field and highly active in social media. Their content is always top quality and they’ll have a lot of followers. Once you find the blogs, you’ll want to subscribe to them.

You may have to do a little digging to find popular blogs that your ideal customers read. Technorati is a great source for finding popular blogs in your space. For influencer research, try Followerwonk or Little Bird.

Pro tip: If you haven’t already, try to find a way to include some targeted sources in your ebook. Mentioning influencers in your content gives them an added incentive to want to share your post.

Once you have your list of influencers, it’s all about the outreach. When emailing people, keep it personal, short and to the point. Make sure you answer these 3 questions right away:

  • What are you pitching?
  • What’s in it for me?
  • Who are you and why do I care about your brand?

If the outreach isn’t getting the response you expect, be persistent. It may be as simple as tweaking your subject line, or you may need to send two or three emails before you hear back. It’s a good practice to split test different subject lines to see which ones perform best.

And finally, don’t spend time creating the post until you have influencers interested in your topic. Your goal is to find compelling subject matter that both connects with their audience and relates to your ebook.

As with all marketing, influencer outreach is a number’s game. You have to reach out to at least 100 influencers if your goal is to target 10 or 20.

Key Takeaways

Putting a content marketing promotion strategy into action will drive traffic to your content, more targeted leads and and more sales. The best part about following these steps is that your content will always be working for you, from the moment it’s published and over the long run.

(NOTE: Want to create content that turns visitors into customers and grows your list by thousands? Get my Irresistible Lead Magnet Checklist.)

Turn existing traffic into leads and more sales with my Irresistible Lead Magnet Checklist!

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?


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

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

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

Uh…no idea.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Specifically, should you send them…

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

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

Mistake #1: Asking for a sale right away

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

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

HOLD UP. Can this strategy actually work?

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

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

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

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


Mistake #2: Asking for nothing

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

Sound familiar?

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

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

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

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

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

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


Facebook ad goals and objectives

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Don’t do what I did!

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

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

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


What is a sales funnel, anyway?

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

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

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

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

Here’s what a basic funnel looks like:

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

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

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

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

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

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

Side note: What should Harry do?

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

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

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

How to create your own sales funnel

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

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

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

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

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

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

  • Build your email list
  • Sell an introductory product


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

So, how do you make this work?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


What if you don’t have a product yet?

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

In this case, I recommend driving traffic to:

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

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

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

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

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

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


Attracting your ideal customers is all about knowing who they are, where they are and what motivates them. Here’s the low-down on how to use customer avatars to visualize their wants, needs & challenges (because when you can communicate the problems they have better than they can, they will automatically seek you out as having their solution!)

How well do you really know your ideal customers? When you sit down to write, can you visualize them in your head?

If not, it may be time to use a customer avatar worksheet, friend.

A customer avatar worksheet will help you zero in on your ideal customer so you can create content that is undeniably valuable to them.

If you’ve never heard of customer avatars before, they are semi-fictional representations of your ideal customer. Think of them as your customer. In the customer avatar template, you fill in basic info like income, gender, job title, and age. But you get even more granular and outline their fears, challenges, obstacles, and goals.

Using customer avatars helps so much because once you’re done, you have a core message that speaks to their needs and connects with them on an emotional level. And this core message is what you’ll use for all your future marketing.

In this post, I’m going to explain why you need to create a customer avatar before you start creating content. Then I’ll show you how to create one.

Here’s why you should be using customer avatars

Customer avatars start a conversation

We all can get caught in our comfort zone and slip into technical sales jargon from time to time. And most of us are comfortable using a first-person voice (“we”) instead of a second-person voice (“you”). As a business owner, this makes sense. You better than anyone know the history, intricacies and nuances of the products you offer.

The problem is that customers don’t really care, at least not when they’re still getting to know your brand. They care about what it means to them and whether or not you can help them solve their problem.

The more you can visualize your customers, the less you’ll talk about you and the more you’ll talk about them. You’ll start speaking directly to them with your writing about things they want and need to hear. And you’ll get better at creating content that attracts and converts them.

By putting a face to your ideal customer, your writing will naturally shift to a more conversational tone. You’ll start speaking to customers as if they were in the same room with you and be able to translate business goals into benefits that they can digest easily.

Customer avatars get you traction faster

If you’ve been blogging for a while without getting the results you need, it may be because you’re not creating content to attract the right people.

Will your content hit the mark some of the time? Sure. It will also miss the mark. And when you do attract the right customers, you’ll be left without a system in place to convert them into leads and sales.

Knowing who your customers are will take the guesswork out of your marketing strategy. You’ll be able to create targeted marketing campaigns that customers care about and like – with content that has the best chance of attracting your ideal customers, converting them into leads, and then nurturing that relationship until they close as customers.

Avatars deliver better quality sales leads

By creating content that attracts the right people, you can start to form a personal connection through email marketing, which will improve the overall quality of leads you have.

By understanding the needs, interests, and habits of your avatars, you’ll be able to create automated email marketing campaigns that nurture potential customers as they move beyond “getting to know you” and start to like and trust your brand.

Each touch point will encourage contacts to move deeper into your content. As people begin to evaluate products and services and move closer to a purchase decision, your content will reinforce their trust in you and keep your brand top-of-mind.

This gives you the opportunity to generate better quality leads and create customers that are well-aligned with your firm’s goals, values and objectives.

Avatars inform product development

If you truly understand what your avatars want, you can create great customer experiences and align your products with what they really want.

It could be a simple shift in packaging or an entirely new product that customers will respond to. Either way, the more you know who you customers are, the more you’ll be able to respond to their changing goals and challenges.

As you create products and services that respond to their evolving needs, you’ll reinforce their loyalty to your brand and be able to retain them as long-term customers.

(NOTE: Want my easy 3-step process to getting clear on who you’re selling to? Get my Customer Avatar Worksheet.)

Download the Customer Avatar Worksheet to get clear on who you're selling to.


Avatars helps you identify where your ideal customers hang out

Creating content and messaging that resonates with your customers is one step toward achieving marketing success.

Knowing how to reach them is another key step. Avatars give you insight into more than the pain points and challenges of your ideal customer. You’ll also know where they’re likely to spend time and get information online.

You can be more efficient with your marketing by putting resources into the channels that they’re already visiting.
If your persona spends most of their time on LinkedIn, you can explore using the publishing platform to share content with your connections. You can also experiment with participating in groups and even starting your own group specifically targeted to your customer avatars.

Avatars builds loyalty with customers

Customer avatars will help you create messages that put your customers first.

Potential customers will immediately sense that you care about what they care about rather than your own agenda.

Even though they may not be ready to buy today, they’ll become champions of your brand and remember you when they are ready to purchase.

Avatars help differentiate your brand

Positioning is about creating perceptions in the mind of customers about your brand. The goal of brand positioning is to carve out a distinctive place in the market and make sure customers have a reason to buy from you instead of a competitor.

If you want to influence the way people perceive your brand, you have to know that your products and services align with what your ideal customers actually want.

Avatars allow you to create a value proposition that will mean something to your ideal customers.

You’ll know where they shop, how they spend their time, obstacles they face professionally and personally, and concerns and fears they have regarding your product.

Not only will your value proposition be meaningful to ideal customers, but you’ll also differentiate yourself from other companies who aren’t using customer avatars to inform their marketing.

Unlike your competitors, your message will spark interest and curiosity instead of falling flat. You’ll evoke an emotional response and make an immediate connection with prospects.

How to create a customer avatar

1. Make a list of questions you’ll ask

All customer avatars should include some basic information as a starting point. Here is some information you’ll want to include:

  • Title
  • Age, gender
  • Company
  • Goals & challenges
  • Role at company
  • Buying habits and preferences
  • Personal background
  • How they measure success

Specific questions range from “What’s your daily routine?” to “What news sources do you read on the internet?”

These questions should be a baseline. As you evolve your customer avatars (which you should do every 90 days or so), you can dig deeper into intricacies and details specific to your audience and industry.

2. Gather your research

There are a few ways to get your questions answers so you can create your customer avatars.

The most straightforward is to select a handful of contacts who fit your criteria as an ideal customer and have them fill out a survey. Six to 12 customers will give you a good benchmark.

You can also ask your sales team and other client-facing members in your organization to gather insights and feedback they have on customer needs and interests.

This way you can uncover trends related to questions or comments people have relating to your product. By looking through your contact database, you can also uncover how people find you and consume your content.

If you don’t have existing contacts or leads for your research, create a prospect profile and then spend some time on LinkedIn, Twitter, Facebook and Google + to find out more about the interests and behaviors of your target audience.

You can then build your customer avatars using educated guesses to start and then when you know more come back and refine them.

Once you have your persona questions answered, look for trends in the responses.

What positions do they hold and what is the age range? Do most live in the suburbs or in cities? What do they enjoy doing in their spare time? How frequently do people use social media, and which ones are they most likely to interact with? Do they answer the phone or prefer email?

Some common themes should start to appear that you can use to develop your avatar.

(NOTE: Want my easy 3-step process to get clear on who you’re selling to? Get my Customer Avatar Worksheet.)

Download the Customer Avatar Worksheet to get clear on who you're selling to.

3. Use the research to build out your avatar

Now that you’ve completed your research, use some common best practices to build out your avatars:

  • Keep your person fictional. It should be a composite profile of all the people you interviewed.
  • Focus on one primary customer avatar and let the others be secondary.
  • Create a story from what you’ve learned that tells the “why” behind their behaviors. Use the narrative to identify common objections to your products or services and what factors influence these objections. Depending on the role they play within the organization, objections can range from budget concerns to lack of buy-in from C-level executives to a fear of becoming irrelevant in the marketplace. Whatever they are, knowing the objections will help you overcome them and address future concerns regarding your products.

4. Next steps and execution plan

Update your marketing message

First, update all marketing materials with messaging that speaks to your customer avatars. This includes everything from your website to ads, landing pages, emails, print, and so on.

Every interaction that prospects have with your company should be tailored to your avatars and consistently reinforce your new message.

Your website design in particular must immediately engage your ideal customer. Understand what your ideal customers want to know the moment they arrive at your site and what information would be most useful to them.

Prioritize your web content accordingly, and make sure your marketing message is clear and easy to read. Place the most important information in the top navigation and above the fold of the web browser so people see it without scrolling. This way they will know they’re in the right place immediately, because they’ll see that you have what they’re looking for.

Tailor your content to your customer avatars

Your avatars will be the foundation for all of your marketing from here on out. We’re talking all of your copy and design. Your goal with everything you write is to address the needs and interests of your avatarss at each stage of the buyer’s journey.

Tailor your blog posts and premium content so that they speak to your customer avatars. Remember that you’re building relationships and use a consistent voice and language across all content.

Keep an eye on your Google Analytics so that you can see on blog posts, offers and landing pages are getting the most page views and engagement. Staying on top of these kinds of metrics will give you even more insight into your ideal customer. Every time you learn something new make sure to update your persona.

Based on these new insights, you may or may not need to update your messaging and content as well. Your goal with each iteration should be to close any gaps in your content, so that you speak more and more clearly and directly to your ideal customers.

Create landing pages to capture important information

For your premium content, you’ll want to drive people to a custom landing page that lets people know exactly what they can expect to receive by downloading the content.

The landing page will include a form to capture their information. At a bare minimum, you’ll want to grab the person’s name and email. But you can take it a step further and also capture persona information, such as job function or company size. This way you’ll be refining the customer avatars so that they more accurately reflect your target customer.

Get feedback regarding leads

Pay attention to your sales efforts so you know where your leads are coming from.

How many of the leads have you been able to convert into customers? Are there similarities in job function, revenue or other demographics?

As you refine your avatars, make sure you tweak your content and marketing message so that it continues to resonate and engage the right prospects. Refining and updating your customer avatars as you receive new information will shape your inbound marketing campaigns for success.

Knowing the habits of your avatar is key to reaching them when and where they are most receptive. For instance, if your buyer is most likely to check emails early in the morning or just before the end of the day, make sure you schedule your emails accordingly. If they tend to be on Facebook during lunch time, schedule your updates so they show up in news feeds at 12:30 in the afternoon.

Key Takeaways

If you jump right into blogging and content creation without using customer avatars, you’re simply placing tactics before strategy and throwing time and resources out the window.

The same way architectural drafts are used as a guide for home construction, as a business owner and marketing you need avatars to inform your marketing. They’re essential to aligning your products and services with needs of your ideal customers, and to aligning everyone within your organization to meaningful  message that resonates and delights your customers.

Every 90 days or so, measure the response to your content and tweak your customer avatars accordingly. Your goal is to close the gaps where you’re losing potential customers and to continue to deliver qualified leads.

(NOTE:  Get my 3-step Customer Avatar Worksheet to start attracting your perfect clients.)

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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


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?


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. 🙂