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

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

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

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

This post contains affiliate links.

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

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

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 Aweber seemed a bit outdated.

Let me share my Infusionsoft story.

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

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

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

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

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

That’s when this thing happens:

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

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

I see a message on my dashboard:

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

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

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

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

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

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

X to that.

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

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

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

There are 3 things I love most about Converkit:

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

Let’s start with their pricing:

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

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

ConvertKit’s customer service

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

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

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

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

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

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

ConvertKit customer support

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

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

The easy-to-use interface

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

Here’s a look at the ConvertKit dashboard:

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

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

Let’s dig into each of these tabs, k?

How I use ConvertKit Every Day

Forms

ConvertKit forms

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

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

Sequences

ConvertKit sequences

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

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

Broadcasts

ConvertKit broadcasts

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

Subscribers

ConvertKit subscribers

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

Automations

ConvertKit automations

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

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

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

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

4) How to Use ConvertKit to Grow Your Business

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

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

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

Creating forms in ConvertKit

From the main dashboard, select the + Form button.

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

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

Otherwise, you’re good with just the form.

ConvertKit has 3 form variations:

How to create your first form in ConvertKit. Woo!

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

ConvertKit form colors

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

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

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

Psst…LeadPages has beautiful thank you pages.

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

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

Creating your first sequence

Sequence time. This part is super easy!

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

Here's how to create your first ConvertKit sequence!

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

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

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

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

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

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

Here’s where you can do things like:

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

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

3) Set automation rules

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

by

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Here’s the thing though:

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

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

Sound good? Here are my website optimization tips:

PART 1 – THE ART OF THINGS + LAYING THE FOUNDATION

1) A Value Proposition

WHERE TO PUT: ON YOUR HOME PAGE

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Here’s why:

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

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

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

2) Your Story

WHERE TO PUT: YOUR ABOUT PAGE

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

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

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

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

Related: What Should I include on My About Page?

3) Great Design

WHERE TO PUT: EVERYWHERE!

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

PART II: REVVIN’ UP THE MACHINE

4) Opt-in forms + freebies

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

5) Landing Pages

WHERE TO PUT: THESE ARE CUSTOM PAGES

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

6) Call-to-Actions

WHERE TO PUT: EVERYWHERE

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

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

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

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

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

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

You want these babies ev’rywhere:

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

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

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

7) Thank You Page

WHERE TO PUT: THIS IS A CUSTOM PAGE

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

8) A sales process

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

9) Plugins

WHERE TO PUT: SEE BELOW

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

Shareaholic

Put at the bottom of your posts

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

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

Contextual Related Posts

Put below your share buttons

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

Google Analytics

Add to the <head> tag of your website

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

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

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

Yoast SEO

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

SEO Checklist For Creating An SEO-Friendly Website

Related: 12 Blogger Plugins to Skyrocket Your Blog

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

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

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

15 Ways to Make Your Brand Stand Out | A step-by-step guide to help you effortlessly attract the right people to your business, including branding tips, personal branding tips, branding design, branding identity, and a customer avatar worksheet you can start using today! #branding #brand #personalbranding #designlovers

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

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

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

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

No to that…

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

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

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

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

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

1. Be consistent

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

How do you rise above all that noise?

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

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

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

The best way to stay consistent with your brand is to use The Build My Brand Toolkit and choose styles for everything…colors, fonts, images, social media, messaging, web copy…all of it. It’s like a “brand in a box” FULL of everything you need to build an epic brand that attracts your ideal customer. It may be just what you’re looking for! Learn more about The Build My Brand Toolkit.

2. Take a stand

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

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

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

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

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

3. Let your personality shine through

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

4. Be your brand every minute

Hmmm…this one can be scary.

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

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

Sound familiar?

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

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

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

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

5. Tell your story

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

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

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

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

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

6. Host a challenge

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

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

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

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

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

7. Create a brand style guide

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

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

Here’s the thing though:

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

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

Can you see things unraveling here?

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

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

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

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

A style guide is just ONE of the many brand elements you’ll create with The Build My Brand Toolkit. It’s a complete done-for-you branding system that includes all your visual brand elements (logo, colors, fonts, social media templates, style guide) PLUS your brand copy (About page, Home page, blog tone and style) and more! Click the image below to learn more.
The Build My Brand Tool Kit gives you everything you need to brand yourself like a pro! Click here to learn more.8. Check your online presence

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

Here’s a quick list of places to look:

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

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

As you go through everything, ask yourself these questions:

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

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

9. Update bios and descriptions

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

So my question for you is:

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

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

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

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

10. Master social media

Gotta get visible, baby!

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

11. Blog consistently

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

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

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

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

I’m so excited about the new content calendar template I created. It will help you plan the content you’re going to share so you’re always one step ahead of blogging instead of five steps behind. Been there, done that! You can download the done-for-you calendar template right here.

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

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

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

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

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

12. Watermark your images

Yep, you have to brand everything.

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

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

Related: How to Create Branded Social Media Images with Photoshop

13. Host a webinar

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

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

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

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

14. Review your offers

Silly question, would you rather be:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Click here to download my Find your Blog Niche Workbook!

 

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

15. Update blog categories

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

 

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

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

We also have about a gazillion things to put on our weekly schedule, and not enough time to get them all done.

But feeling scattered, flustered, and generally overwhelmed can be one of the worst feelings, especially when we feel like we’re doing everything we can and want to focus on the “the right” things to take our blog biz to the next level.

Having a to-do list that crushes you – instead of you crushing it – is just not going to work.

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

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

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

Now, you may be thinking That’s easier said than done, Sandra! Been there, done that.

I hear ya. There’s a way to make sure you stay on track with your schedule, and a lot of it has to do with how you manage time blocking, which I’m going to show you how to do that right now!

Click here to download the time blocking template and start planning your week.

[ SETTING GOALS AND TASKS ]

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

1) Create a high-level plan

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

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

2) Make a list of tasks

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

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

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

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

Essentially, you’ll be breaking down your tasks like this:

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

If you want, you can use different colors for must-do vs nice-to-do tasks so you can differentiate them.

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

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

Must-do tasks get scheduled first. Nice-to-do’s get put on the calendar next. With me?

3) Start time blocking

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

How do we do it?

Great question! First off, we’re going to create time blocks for each task.  Then, we’re going to get very specific with what we plan to do and make sure we account for every minute of our workday.

HEAD’S UP. You want errrrthang in there. Even personal tasks.

So if your daughter’s play date is on Wednesday at 3 pm, make sure you block out time for it. Dropping shirts off to the cleaners on Tuesday? Block it out, baby! You’d be amazed at how much you can get done when you put it ALL on your calendar.

It you want, you can use my time blocking template to create your weekly schedule. Click the image below to download it.

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

 

I want you to be super successful with time blocking. In the next steps, I’m sharing productivity hacks and tips that will help get the most benefit from it.

Let’s start working the template.

[ HOW TO WORK THE TIME BLOCK TEMPLATE ]

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

This one’s a biggie: Schedule must-do tasks during your most productive hours.

Are you a night owl? Block out time to create content at night. Do you like to do your deep work before the world wakes up? Make sure you use that time to do the things that ONLY YOU can do. Don’t waste it on checking your email or Instagram.

5) Schedule tasks at the same time each day

Let’s say you like to create content in the morning, break for lunch at 1:00, and manage client projects and meetings in the afternoon, and workout at 6:30pm.

These are called recurring tasks. Try to block out the same time for them to give your days structure and help you get into a routine.

For instance, I spend ten minutes on social media in the morning, and another ten minutes at night when I’m catching up on Hulu. I also like to coordinate with my team in the morning. I spend the rest of the day creating content and working on client projects.

I recommend planning everything on your weekly schedule template like this, even those events that involve other people (that you can’t reschedule or cancel). Think of them as “recurring events” and plan them at the same time.

6) Include everything that might pop up

This is jumping off from the previous step.

What derails my schedule more than anything else are the things I forget I need to do. Like running to the bank, working out, picking up a prescription, going to Home Depot. I call them the incidentals.

Incidentals need to be on your schedule. Otherwise, you’ll think you can write that entire blog post today but whoops! You can’t really. That oversight bleeds into the next day, and the next, and so on.

Once you start getting off track like this, it’s easy to feel defeated. Better to plan for everything and set yourself up for success.

7) Focus on one task at a time

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

So stop thinking that you can, friend!

Instead, focus on one thing at a time. It’s on your time schedule template, which means you’ve made it a priority and identified that it needs to get done. Now it’s time to follow through with it. This is where done means done (not “almost done”, not “about to start”). Force yourself to finish one task before you move on.

And if you don’t get to the next task for two weeks, that’s perfectly okay.

8) Give yourself enough time to complete tasks

Some of your two-hour tasks will wind up taking you eight hours. Heck, you may not even finish them today.

Those gaps that can mess up your schedule and make you feel defeated, even when you’re crushing your to-do list.

The best way to avoid this is to be as accurate and realistic as you possibly can. Make sure you block out enough time for each task. Then pad in some wiggle room.

For instance, if you plan on spending two hours to create a lead magnet, block out four hours for it. If you don’t know how long something will take, triple your time estimate. Let’s say you need to schedule time to outline your first course. Instead of blocking out two hours, block out six hours.

Whatever you do, don’t trick yourself into thinking you can get an eight-hour task done in three!

I speak from experience on this one:

I’d block out three hours to write a post because I wanted to write it in three hours. To this day, my posts take me between five and six hours to write. And I’ve tried so many tricks to speed things up. Never happens, friend!

Point is, by wishing I could write my posts faster I would load up my schedule with more tasks:

  • Write post: 3 hrs
  • Social media graphics: 1 hr
  • Lunch: 1/2 hr
  • Create a freebie: 2 hrs
  • Record a video: 2 hrs

Can you see how going “overtime” on any one of these tasks can throw out your week, in a minute?

Try to be realistic when you’re using the time blocking template.

9) Turn off your cell phone and email

Like the plague!

Let’s face it, it’s waay easy to get distracted. I even find myself LOOKING for distractions.

I’ll check my junk mail, Pinterest, Facebook, Instagram, anything I can get my hands on. I’ll remember the eggplant lasagna recipe I want to try. That I forgot to text Laura. That I need to call John real quick.

We’re all victims of shiny object syndrome, especially with new tasks. When it’s too far, large, hard, confusing to tackle, we start reaching for busy things so we can feel like we’re being productive.

Being busy does not equal being productive.

So close your email, turn off your cell phone, and log out of Facebook and Instagram (yep, even the apps).

Don’t turn them on until you get your deep work done. You need to focus on what’s in front of you so you can get it done.

Your texts and emails will be there later. Promise 🙂

10) Review and reschedule

There will most definitely be tasks you can’t get to. You can count on that. 🙂

Whatever you do, don’t get flustered by it. That’s why we’re throwing a time blocking party. Woop Woop!

At the end of each day, review what you got done and reschedule anything that you didn’t. This way, you’ll wake up fresh the next day, ready to pick up where you left off.

Psst…Make sure you block out time to review your schedule. It usually takes me 15 minutes at the end of the day to review my schedule and shuffle things around for the next day.

11) Train your friends + family

You have your week schedule template, but let’s be real. You’re a one-person team, and only you know when and IF you need to get something done.

Remember, you’re answering to yourself now. Your friends and family may not think the time spent on your blog biz is valuable. Or, maybe they think working from home means you can run to the dry cleaners anytime you (they!) want.

(This is especially true if your biz is new and you have yet to earn money from it.)

Here’s where you have to play two roles:

Role one: Employer
Role two: Employee

As the employer, you decide which tasks need to get done. As the employee (hey there, that’s you too!), it’s up to you to get them done.

The only way you’re going to reach your goals is if you make them happen, so say no to random asks that interrupt your schedule.

You’ll likely get push-back here. But if you say no long enough, the asks will stop coming and this step will get a whole lot easier. Pinky swear.

12) Organize your workflow

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

Where do you keep all the ideas that pop in your head? Do you use Evernote?

How do you manage projects/team/tasks? Do you use Trello or Asana?

What about your files? Are they in Dropbox, and if so, how well are they organized?

Having a cluttered desktop is the enemy of an effective weekly planner template, including the time blocker. I know this to be true.

I’m notorious for creating a new Word doc for every new idea (gotta jot it down quick, right?). When I see them on my desktop the next morning, I’m instantly overwhelmed and flustered. It’s a whole different ball game when I take the time to place the docs in folders that make sense, with names that I recognize and understand.

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

If you want, you can use the time blocking template I created to help you plan your weekly schedule. Click the image below to download.

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

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

by

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

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

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

1) Narrow down your niche

Why is this even important?

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

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

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

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

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

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

2) Step up your social media game

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

Wanna know what that looks like?

Something like this:

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

3) Create click-worthy freebies

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

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

What types of freebies to create?

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

How to create your freebie?

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

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

4) Crank up the visual volume

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

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

HOLD UP – 75%?

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

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

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

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

And then poof! Just like that…

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

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

 

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

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

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

8 Font Pairings for Social Media + Blog Title Images:

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

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

8 Font Pairings for Web Headings + Text

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

Click here to download:

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

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

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

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

Want the Build My Brand Kit?

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

by

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

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

You’re just about to launch your blog or business and have a rock-solid brand identity that includes social media profiles, your website, logo, messaging, and more.  Now you’re ready to share your brand with the world. You want your readers to be able to learn more about you and your business, why they should stick around and what’s in it for them.

Could it be time to create an epic About Page?

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

Here’s what your About Page should do

Preferably in this order:

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

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

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

Correction.

Your About Page is the story of you AND them.

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

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

1) Who are you speaking to?

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

Picture one specific person when you’re writing. What are their core desires? Being very specific with things like their name, age, where they work and what’s holding them back will help you visualize your one person.

Related: How to Attract Your Ideal Customers

2) What do they most want?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

If you need help here, the Build My Brand Toolkit includes an entire section on crafting your About Me Page. Plus, sooo much more. You’ll have everything you need to build an epic brand that stands out online – done for you logos, social media images, web copy, brand elements, spreadsheets, templates, and more. It may be just what you’re looking for! Learn more about the Build My Brand Toolkit.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

4) What do you want them to do next?

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

Tell them!

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

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

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

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

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

Putting the stories together

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

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

Answer these questions as though you are talking right to them and addressing them personally. Picture that YOU are your one person, and ask yourself:

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

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

by
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.

At least it tripped me up for a while. I was never really sure what I needed to do, where to place keywords, and why it even mattered. On top of that, SEO for bloggers is a little different than SEO for agencies, so it’s hard to know how crazy you should get with it.

Because you can get kinda crazy with it.

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

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

I like to think of on-page SEO as having 2 parts:

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

And the semi-techie part isn’t really that techie, so not to worry. Want I want most for you to get out of this post is that if you’re absolutely insanely determined to get crazy about search engine optimization, get crazy on the non-techie part. After all, content is king in the SEO world and that’s what you’re in the business of doing anyway, right? Creating remarkable content for your audience. If you focus on providing insane value for your readers, you’ll like be creating SEO friendly content in the process. You got this!

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

My take on SEO, algorithms, indexing and all that

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

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

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

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

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

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

With me? Let’s take a look 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

PART ONE: THE NON-TECHIE SEO STUFF

1) Write great content

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

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

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

If you forget about the things I listed above and just focus on writing great content, you’re probably going to include 3-4 of these in your post without even realizing it. What I mean by this is that you’ll be writing content for SEO 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 and anything you can think of to make it easy for your audience to digest your message.
  • Text-based: That last one is a no-brainer. Blogging = Writing = Text-based. Done and done.

Check. Check. Check. And check. 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 over the years who get a little nutty about “differentiating their brand”. What I think they miss, and what we can learn from that, is that brands are built from the inside out. Your brand starts with you.

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

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

With that out of my system…

If by chance you’re wondering how to make your posts even more valuable so you can really rock this whole “SEO for bloggers” strategy, there are a few things you can do. I’m sure you have a good idea of your audience and already have a bucket of post ideas.

Still, we can all benefit from understanding our readers even more, no? That’s where a little research can be your friend. It’s actually pretty easy to get inside the head of your readers, you just need the right tools to do it.

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

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

PART TWO: THE SEMI-TECHIE SEO STUFF

2) Use keywords that make sense

You know how we said you want to tap Google on the shoulder? This is where we start tapping. It’s time to bump up our SEO by adding researched keywords to our blog posts.

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

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

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

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

1) The blog title

If you only have time to change just one thing in your post, make it your blog title. You want to make sure you include your keyword in your blog title and try to keep it under 55 characters. That’s about where Google cuts it off.seo title tag

2) The meta description

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

seo meta descriptionBut they’re still important and you want to include your keyword here too. Try to keep your meta descriptions at about 160 characters. Google will bold any keywords in your description so they stand out when people search.

3) Throughout the post itself

It’s generally pretty easy to add your keyword at the beginning with your introduction, and then again at the end with a “wrap-up” or “key takeaways” paragraph. If you can weave it in a few more times throughout your post, you’re doing great!

4) In headings (or H2 tags)

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

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

5) The alt text in images

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

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

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

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

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

6) Image names

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

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

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

And my image name would be:

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

7) In the post URL

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

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

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

 

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

Stay with me, friend, here’s how:

3) Install the Yoast SEO plugin

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

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

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

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

4) Link to other blog posts

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

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

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

Here’s an example of interlinking.

5) Check your site speed

People like fast sites. And Google does too.

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

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

So what can you do to make your site faster?

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

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

6) Social media

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

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

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

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

So there you have it! This is my ultimate guide to SEO for bloggers and entrepreneurs to help you get more traffic from Google.

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

by

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

If that sounds confusing, hang in there with me.

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

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

…and back to writing again.

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

Sound familiar?

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

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

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

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

With me? Let’s dig in.

1) Get serious about your biz

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

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

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

Me too…

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

2) Set the right priorities

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

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

Let’s take a look.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

3) Turn your priorities into an action plan

There are a few ways you can do it.

1) Use the Eisenhower method

Named after former President Eisenhower, of course!

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

Here’s what it looks like:

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

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

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

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

Here’s why I prefer this second way…

2) Use my Time Block Method

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

Enter confusion and procrastination.

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

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

Increase productivity with my Time Block Template and guide.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Here’s what that looks like:

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

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

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

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

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

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

by

How to Choose Colors That Will Make Your Brand Stand Out | Do you love creating mood boards and collecting colors, but then find yourself a bit stumped with how to apply them to your brand? This post will help! It includes tips for entrepreneurs and biz owners to help you select and apply your brand colors with purpose and intention. Click through to see all the color tips!!Color is such a huge part of how we experience the world. Everything we experience is made up of different colors. Some inspire and excite us and others can make us feel a bit down.

So what does this mean for your website and brand?

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

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

Choose a primary color

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

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

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

Red gets more clicks

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

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

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

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

Turn your primary color into an action color

Got it, red stands out more. Buut, what if red or orange doesn’t match your brand personality?

Great question! Let’s say your primary color is blue. You can still make it stand out so people notice and click it. You just have to be more careful with how you apply it.

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

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

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

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

Compare color palettes

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

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

Pictaculous - color palette generator from an image

Create your own color scheme

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

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

Some more thoughts on color schemes:

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

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

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

Psst…Colors are just ONE of the many brand elements we cover in The Build My Brand Toolkit. With this kit you will create an entire branding system that includes all your visual elements (logo, colors, fonts, social media templates, style guide) PLUS brand copy (About page, Home page, messaging, blog tone and style) so you can build a brand that makes you smile. Click on the image below to learn more!
The Build My Brand Tool Kit gives you everything you need to brand yourself like a pro! Click here to learn more.

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

by