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!

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Ready to build the business you always dreamed of, but not sure how to do it? This post is for you! It includes 25+ mindset shifts that successful entrepreneurs make to help you reach your goals quickly and easily (plus have loads of fun in the process). Click through to learn each one!For a while I thought that being successful in business came from sheer luck or chance. It seemed like some businesses I launched were destined for success and others not so much.

Now I know there’s more to it than that. There’s a formula I’ve seen emerge from the businesses that work, and the successful ones always have the right mix of the right things at the right time.

The trick is figuring out what that right mix of the right things really means.

First, let me say, there’s no such thing as failure. I know you’ve heard it over and over again and it’s true. Failures are speed bumps and your goal should always be to get over them as quickly as you can to get to the other side.

Which leads me to my 25+ tips for being a successful entrepreneur. Follow these tips to get over your speed bumps so you can enjoy the freedom, fortune and amazing ride of being your own boss.

1) First, trust that you can be your own boss

Being an entrepreneur is like sailing out into a big blue sea without a compass. It’s much different than working in a corporate environment where the infrastructure, systems and team are in place to assist in getting things done. The boss who held you accountable in your previous job is now you, and those team status meetings may feel lonely for a while. Be okay with that. It’s going to take some moxie to navigate the waters until you can steer yourself in the right direction, and you can do it. Over time you’ll create systems and processes for your business. The real payoff is that you’re about to create your own compass for your business and your life. And that’s the thrill of being an entrepreneur, isn’t it?

2) Your most important asset is Staying Power

My father is my #1 business coach and mentor (thanks dad! not sure if you know this but it’s true). I always reach out to him when I’m stuck or can’t see my way to the other side. So when he told me that the secret to being an entrepreneur is to have “enough staying power until you figure it all out”, I listened. He’s been successful in business for 40 years and has navigated some pretty murky waters. It wasn’t always pretty, but he hung in there. I can’t even count the number of times he changed his business model until it all started clicking. You have to hang in there too. Things may not come together at once or even the way you planned.

Your first few years are about putting your ideas to the test. You’re going to refine your business model, positioning, products, brand, target markets, and sales processes many times before you hit the sweet spot. The big takeaway here is that you need to be able to sustain yourself until you do. That means you need money to pay the bills, money for product development, money for sales and marketing, money for food, and so on. Whatever you do, DO NOT blow your entire budget on any one thing. It will paralyze your next move and slow things down tremendously.

3) You’re going to need to take calculated risks

It’s not exactly like jumping out of an airplane, but you are taking a leap when you start a business. You need to accept the inherent risk with that and meet it head on. That said, you wouldn’t jump out of an airplane without a parachute, would you? Create a business plan, establish concrete goals to work toward and document a timeline, along with milestones and a plan to achieve them.

4) Know what you’re passionate about

I used to think my passion was being creative. It was how I defined myself and how I wanted people to view me. What a big mistake that was. Those ideas I had about myself led to some really poor business decisions, ones that took me years to recover from financially and emotionally. Once I got clear on my true passion, both my financial success and my confidence soared to new levels.

Yes, it takes passion to be an entrepreneur. At the same time you need to have eyes wide open so you can see things that are staring you in the face. Just be real with what you’re passionate about and what you’re not so passionate about. Know that you’re amazing either way.

5) Is it a business or a hobby?

Yes, you can turn a hobby into a business and many people will tell you to start there. Other people start businesses because they can’t find something they want in the market and that’s fine. I started a clothing line like that and then realized that I was really designing tops for myself and didn’t care if any one else liked them.

That’s a hobby.

Generally speaking, passion for business is one thing and passion for a hobby is another. Yes, the two can be the same, you just need to analyze your resources and business model to determine if your hobby would translate well into a business before you jump in with both feet. Most of my successful businesses have been driven by looking at where my ideas fit in the market. So you can love making blueberry muffins, you just need the right ingredients (ahem) to turn it into a business.

6) Test your ideas early on

As an entrepreneur, it’s easy to get emotionally attached to what you do. But those ideas…boy, they can steer you in the wrong direction if you’re not careful. Early on I thought that everyone in the world would want my clever invention because, well, I made it. I was so immersed in product development that it took me three years to realize that both the market and profit margin were so small I would never sustain myself. If I had only stepped back from my idea, mapped out a business plan and tested the market beforehand, I would have saved so much time and money.

The last thing I want is for this to happen to you. Find out if your ideas match what people want before you develop the “wrong” product. For info products this means offering a free course to gauge interest in a larger program, and for consumer products this means prototyping and user testing before going into production.

7) Find customers first and figure it out later

One of the biggest mistakes entrepreneurs make is perfecting things before they get out there. Now I’m a Virgo and a perfectionist by nature, so I get it. But I’ve also had enough businesses to know that customers don’t really care. They don’t notice those tiny imperfections. Get your prototypes together and find your customers. You’re going to need their feedback to fine-tune your products and the faster you get something in front of them the faster you’ll know what to tweak.

8) Have some kind of business plan

It doesn’t have to be formal, especially if you’re bootstrapping the early years. You just need something on paper that speaks to what your business is about. Here’s where you identify the market size, brand, value proposition, competition, costs, breakeven projections, timeline, management, and so on. This way you can see any gaps in your concept right there on paper. Take the time to tweak your plan until everything adds up and makes sense. Trust me, this one step will save you tons of time and money later on. Besides, this is all the stuff you need to know in order to create and market your product, so why not do it now?

➤ If you need helping creating a business plan, I walk you through what to include in this post.

9) Don’t get hung up on tactics

There are a million ways to find customers these days and tons of ways to market your brand both online and offline. When you’re first starting out, there’s only one thing that matters and that’s getting your first customer. Whether you do that through networking, trade shows, SEO, social media, offline, online, email campaigns…doesn’t matter. Start with what you know and learn as you go. Social media, content marketing and list building all take time. Think about the quickest way to reach your customer and don’t get hung up on tactics. Your customer is out there and you’ll reach them. What you need to be clear on is what to say to them when you find them.

10) Don’t try to educate the market

Everyone loves a niche market. With fewer players, it’s easier to stand out from the crowd and differentiate your brand. But when you’re so “niche” that you find yourself explaining why people SHOULD want your products, you’ve got a problem. Trying to educate the market is trying to fit a circle in a square. You may be too early or too late to market, or the pendulum just isn’t going to swing your way on this one. Move on. The last thing you want to do is try to sell people something they don’t realize they need. Find a hole in the market first and work back from there, or repackage what you have into something people DO want.

11) Pivot often and quickly

Positioning, products, pricing, marketing… it’s all going to change more times than you can imagine. Expect it and plan for it. It’s just one of the growing pains of being your own boss.

You’re going to have to get good at listening to what people say. I’m not talking about your friends and family, they’ll support you no matter what. I’m talking about people who don’t have to care about what you do. What are they saying? What do they really want around your business?

I promise what you learn will catapult your business, as long as you take notes and change what you need to change as fast as you can. For your business to explode you need people to buy your products, and aligning your business with what they want is the fastest way to get there. You may find that you already have exactly what people want. If that’s the case, high five! Your next step is to get the word out.

➤ Related: How to attract your ideal customers

12) You’re running a marathon not a sprint

Someone told me once that a successful business takes three times longer and costs three times more than you think. Is this true? Could be, then again maybe not. One of my most successful businesses was hugely profitable within the first two years. It really depends on your timing in the market, your business, costs, overhead, forecasts and so on. Every business is different and you’ll need more time to learn the nuances if you’re going in cold. You’ve got to go into business knowing that you’re running a marathon and will need stamina. Forget about how fast everyone else seems to be moving. Set your eyes on five years out and grab on to your Staying Power.

13) Find a way to create a recurring revenue

A steady cash flow is critical to your growing your business. When your pricing is hourly or project-based you can get caught in a feast-or-famine cycle where you either have tons of business or none at all. Try to offer retainer programs instead, where customers pay you monthly rather than all at once. If you’re a coach think about 6-month coaching packages and for a service business, offer monthly programs or annual contracts and think about turning your services into info products for a passive income.

14) Keep moving

I touched on failure before and here it is again.

You’re going to make mistakes.

What you thought was a smart thing to do will turn out to be not so smart and cost you money you didn’t have to spend. That’s okay, give yourself a break. You’ve got to keep moving and not get hung up on it. Learn from each obstacle so you can dodge the next one. In the marathon of running a business, you’ve got about zero time to feel sorry for yourself and zero time to beat yourself up.

15) Don’t compare your start to someone else’s finish

Comparing your start with someone else’s finish is like playing your first-ever game of tennis against Serena Williams and expecting to win. It’s not going to happen. When you compare yourself with big brands and competitors, the trick is to reverse-engineer their starting point and envision the next move they would make given your same resources and bandwidth.

I’ll give you an example. When I started my design business, I knew my website wasn’t up to snuff. Now I’m a designer so that’s kind of a big deal, but I didn’t care. I saw what established designers were doing and they were light years ahead of me at the time, so why would I compare myself to them?

And really, your focus should be on everything in between your start and your finish. That’s where the secret sauce is. What’s the next step that will bring in one more client? Keep your eye on what’s right in front of you and you’ll get to the Finish line soon enough, I promise.

➤ Related: The 6×1 Formula for Getting High-Paying Clients

(NOTE: Have an amazing product or business idea and not sure where to start? Get my 6-Step Blueprint on how to supercharge your launch. Learn what you need to do and when to position yourself, validate your concept and turn complete strangers into excited buyers.)

6-Step Launch Blueprint - ConversionMinded

16) Know what you can do and what you can’t

Before you jump into any business, you have to look at the fundamental requirements of the business itself. Are you planning on designing, manufacturing, and marketing the product yourself? You’ll need to find another way, because that’s going to be challenging.

If you’re a service business, how will you scale beyond a Rollercoaster Revenue that comes from the “sell-then-do” cycle? Can you stand on a handful of products or does your business require a slew of new products every quarter? If it’s a new industry, how much time will it take to learn and can you sustain that learning curve?

The fundamentals of any given business are pretty much set in stone and wishing them away may make you feel better, but it won’t change the facts. As an entrepreneur you’re about more than feeling good, right? Focus on the business requirements and be sure you have the resources to fulfill them before you commit.

17) Trust your instincts

When I started my first business the Internet didn’t exist. If I wanted to find out what other entrepreneurs were up to I either had to join a networking group or go to a library.

Nowadays, it’s hard to put one foot in front of the other without feeling like you’re missing something. Everyone else has got the key and if you just read one more article, you’ll have the key too. So you look for more stories to validate your own journey, and wind up feeling further away from where you want to be.

Half the battle here is monitoring your social time. The other half is deciding to trust your own gut and instincts. Listen to your story more and others less. Deep down somewhere you know exactly what your next move is. So shut down the computer, turn off the TV and crank up the volume of your inner voice. Then muster up enough courage to take the step you KNOW you have to take. Trust me, you already have the key.

18) Create a partnership

I’m not talking about a referral partnership here, I’m talking about taking on an actual partner in your business. You can go it alone and you can hire business coaches, still nothing beats having someone in the trenches with you every single day. You want someone whose skills compliment your own without overlapping.

I once partnered with my best friend who did the same thing I did, which meant neither one of us did all the other stuff. And my best partnerships have come about organically where we were naturally a good fit. So if you’re the creative arm, find a partner who has business development or sales experience to balance out your skills.

19) Market, market, market!

I can’t emphasize this enough. I’ve seen so many entrepreneurs forget about marketing and it kills me. You can’t put all your money into product development and leave nothing for sales and marketing. There’s just no place in the business universe where you can justify spending $50K on things like materials, labor or structural improvements and $0 on marketing.

Here’s the deal. If nobody knows you exist, then you don’t, period. People have to be able to find your business and they won’t be coming out of the woodwork to do that. It’s up to you to wave your brand flag and let them know you’re here, and it takes time and money to do that. If your marketing budget is small, be prepared to put more time in to things like social media, email, PR, and so on.

If you’re short on marketing ideas, check out this post where I list over 100 ways to market your business. The possibilities are endless!

20) Prioritize goals and tasks

It’s easy to get stuck when you’re staring at a huge To-do list and not quite sure what to do first. I know I’m a lot more pumped when I’m checking the box and getting things done.

Time management really boils down to three things: 1) factoring in everything – work, exercise, shopping, kids, date night…all of it; 2) getting better at estimating your time; and 3) breaking each goal down into sub-components. So if your goal is to launch a webinar, you’d break that down into smaller tasks like this:

  • Research webinar platforms (2 hrs)
  • Pick a topic (1.75 hrs)
  • Find a presentation template (1.5 hrs)
  • And so on…

➤ Related: How to Get a Massive Amount of Stuff Done Each Day

21) Find ways to automate things

Being an entrepreneur means wearing many hats and one of your biggest challenges is how to get more done wearing fewer hats. The great news is that a lot of the things you find yourself doing over and over again can be automated.

I used to spend hours each day scouring Google, LinkedIn, and Data.com for prospect lists. Then I’d research the email addresses, craft each email and send them out one by one. With automation I was able to create an email system that downloaded lists, gathered emails and scheduled email sequences without me ever lifting a finger. I now have my own “virtual assistant” reaching tons of people around the clock and the best part is that it freed up about 3-4 hours a day.

What hats can you take off? Start thinking about systems you can install to replace recurring or repetitive tasks.

➤ Related: How to Prospect Like a Pro on LinkedIn

22) Focus on one thing at a time

Feeling overwhelmed by all the things you need to do? The first thing to do here is to pinpoint the single most important thing you can today do to move your business forward. Make sure you block out time for that each week and do it. Then take a breath and know that everything will get done. Be okay with doing one thing at a time and follow it through to completion before you move on.

23) Get support when you need it

In the corporate world, team status meetings usually go something like this: one person brings up an issue and then everyone chimes in to find a solution. Somehow you need to play all of these roles in your business, and that’s where business coaches can be tremendously helpful.

I worked with coaches when I was starting out and still turn to them for guidance whenever I make major shifts in my business. Try to find someone who understands your business and can provide clarity and direction so you can keep moving your business forward.

24) Don’t procrastinate

The biggest reasons entrepreneurs procrastinate is because they don’t know what to do next – and deep down – they don’t really want to find out how to do it.

I get it. It’s a whole lot more fun to play in a sandbox, but being an entrepreneur means taking action. Have the courage to put your brand out there. Stop doing what you want to do and start doing what you need to do to skyrocket your business.

Yes, it’s hard to navigate social media, list building, Facebook and all the rest of it. You still have to do it. Don’t let confusion lead to procrastination here. Start with one channel, get comfortable with it, and then move on to the next. Before you know it you’ll know exactly what you need to do and when.

25) Know when to fold

So you want to be in it for the distance, but just how far will you go? How much money and time you will invest in your business before you expect to make a profit?

This is where having a business plan is crucial.

You have to set reasonable expectations for your business so you know what success looks like, when to keep pushing and when to call it. Your business plan is where you’ll project milestones for breakeven and profit points. Obviously you need some wiggle room, but the bottom line is this: what’s your strategy if you’re not profitable within that time frame?

You may need to tweak the timeline, or maybe you underestimated the resources you’d need. This happens a lot, so be flexible and fluid. It could just be that your first projections were off and you need to update your business plan. Just know that if you’re not showing a profit at year five or even year seven, it may be time to walk away. And remember it’s not what you’re walking away from but what you’re walking to that counts. Make an objective decision about what’s working.

26) There are some things money can’t buy

There’s a strange correlation we sometimes make between spending money versus spending time on things. I used to think that the sheer fact I was spending money related to my business meant that I would see a return on it, so I’d kind of sit back and wait for the sales to roll in.

But here’s the thing: money won’t solve poor positioning or a weak concept.

Spending money doesn’t replace the hustle you have to put in to your business. If your messaging or product doesn’t connect with people, then your cost of acquiring customers will be high.

So before you roll out a big campaign or make a huge purchase in your business, put the time in and make sure your products, offers, positioning and marketing techniques are all spot on. Once you do that, you’ll actually be able to spend LESS money to get those same customers, so your customer acquisition costs will be lower (and your profit margins higher).

27) Learn by doing versus reading

You can Google anything you want and spend hours searching for a solution, a path, the answer, a secret formula, the missing ingredient…or you can try something, see how it goes, learn from it, and create your own experiences. This is really the way you’re going to learn and move forward with your business. The bloggers you’re following are only walking you through what they’ve already tried or experienced and the difference between you and them is that they’re doing it and you’re not. So just start doing it too. You’ll get more confident as you go and light years ahead with your business this way.

(NOTE: Have an amazing product or business idea and not sure where to start? Get my 6-Step Blueprint on how to supercharge your launch. Learn what you need to do and when to position yourself, validate your concept and turn complete strangers into excited buyers.)

6-Step Launch Blueprint - ConversionMinded
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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.

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How to really use LinkedIn to get clients. These are the exact steps and tools I used to land my first $32K client.I love LinkedIn. I love its simplicity. I love that it’s all business. I also love that I can leverage it to win new business, because almost half of its user base is C-level executives.

I realized just how powerful LinkedIn is after trying other databases like Google, InfoUSA, SalesGenie, and data.com. I always found myself coming back to LinkedIn.

Here’s why:

  • My prospects are on LinkedIn.
  • Members keep their profiles up to date, so the information is accurate, unlike other databases where the info is often outdated.
  • It’s easy to perform and save searches.
  • LinkedIn mirrors live networking in a social setting.

Today, I’m sharing my system for getting high-paying clients with LinkedIn. Here’s what you will need for this system to work:

  • Sales Navigator account – starts at $75
  • SalesTools – $35 per month
  • Sellhack – $10 per month
  • An email emulator + Vibe – free (or a VA to do this part for you)
  • QuickMail – starts at $39 per month

What I’ve done with these tools (except for Sales Navigator) is keep them active when I’m in deep prospecting mode and turn them off when I don’t need them. With SalesTools, it’s easy enough to create an account later on, and QuickMail will let you go in sleep mode for $5 a month.

Here’s a quick rundown of the tools:

  • SalesTools is a search extractor tool that will save your searches to an Excel spreadsheet. There are others out there, this is just the one I prefer.
  • Sellhack and Vibe are both Chrome extensions that will help you gather email addresses for your list. I use them both. Sometimes Sellhack will find an email that Vibe can’t, and vic versa.
  • The email emulator is an Excel formula that creates email variations based on your prospect’s name and domain (firstlastname@domain.com, flastname@domain.com, firstname.lastname@domain.com, and so on).
  • I found an amazing VA to help gather email addresses.
  • With Quickmail, you can automate your outbound emails in batches, rather than manually one by one.

There are two ways to go about using LinkedIn to get clients:

Prospecting within the LinkedIn platform

You can make 1st degree connections and message prospects directly through LinkedIn. In this case, you won’t need SalesTools, Sellhack, Vibe or Quickmail. This is because you can message anyone you have a first-degree connection directly on LinkedIn. You also have access to their email.

Prospecting outside of LinkedIn

You perform searches with Sales Navigator, save to a spreadsheet and prospect outside of LinkedIn. This is the method I used. You will need all of the tools mentioned above for this method.

There are pros and cons to both approaches

With the first method, you’re building your LinkedIn network while you’re generating leads, so you can continue to engage your connections with new content and products. You also have access to their email, which is a huge plus. All you need for this approach is a spreadsheet to track your connections and messages.

The downside is that you have to message people one by one, which is time consuming. You may hit LinkedIn’s limit of invitation connections using this method. In that case, you’d have to hold up for a while. You also can’t save searches, so it takes a bit more admin to keep track of your progress.

With the second method, you’re working offline (meaning outside of LinkedIn). You’re not building your network, but you still have their data saved in your spreadsheet. It takes some time to gather email addresses, but once you do, you can set up sequences in QuickMail and automate your email outreach. I’ve found that with this approach, I can be a more direct in my emails.

Whichever method you prefer, here are some things you’ll want to before you begin:

 

PART ONE: SETTING THE FOUNDATION

1) Make sure your profile is up-to-date

Make sure your profile reflects your purpose and your message. What a lot of people do is to treat their LinkedIn profile like a CV or resume, when really you should treat it more like a mini personal website for you and your business. After all, you want to use it for lead generation and to grow your business, so you want to make sure you frame it around your value proposition, products and services.

This is especially crucial if you’re using prospecting method #1, where you’re networking within the LinkedIn platform. When you invite someone to connect, they will first visit your profile before accepting.

What they’re going to see first is your profile pic, headline, and your Summary. It should go without saying that you want a professional-looking picture for your profile a headline that clearly conveys what you do.

The area you want to pay special attention to is your Summary. It’s the first substantive section that people will see, and they’ll make a decision based on this to accept or decline your invite. What I like to do here is to tell a bit about myself and my business, with a focus on who I help and how. It’s also a good idea to list your specific services. You can check out my Summary to get an idea of what to include here.

LinkedIn profiles take more time to complete than Facebook, Twitter, and Pinterest. For my tips on how to optimize your profile, check out this post.

2) Create a prospect avatar

Next up, create a prospect avatar. Think about who you want to reach. If you’re unsure, take a look at your existing clients. Which ones do you wish you had 5 more of? Which are most profitable? Use those to create your prospect avatar.

Here are some things to include in your avatar:

  • Target industries: what specific industries do you want to target?
  • Location: What geographic regions do you want to focus on?
  • Revenue: LinkedIn doesn’t actually list revenue as a search criteria, but it’s still something you should know.
  • Company size: LinkedIn uses number of employees as a measure for company size rather than revenue. The breakdowns are 1-10, 11-50, 51-200, and so on. What size is a best fit for you? To get an idea of how revenue translates into company size, data.com will show you both for any company.
  • Titles/positions: Who are the key decision-makers for your product or offer? Do you want to reach marketing managers, presidents, CIOs?

Then take this info and document it on a worksheet so you can refer to it.

3) Export your current connections

Your current connections are a perfect place to start prospecting. You probably have connections with friends, co-workers, family, colleagues, and friends of friends. Some of these may fit your prospect avatar.

Here’s how to export your connections:

  • Under My Network in the top brown bar, select Connections. This will bring you to a page where you’ll see all your connections.
  • On that page, select the gear icon in the upper right.
  • On your Manage Connections page, under Advanced Settings on the top right, select the “Export LinkedIn Connections” link.
  • Export as an excel file.

Then go through your spreadsheet and make a note of anyone on there who fits your prospect avatar.

4) Use the Advanced Search tool

LinkedIn’s Advanced Search is an amazing tool. If you use it right, you can get pretty granular with your searches.

You want to focus your searches on 2nd and 3rd degree connections and group members. 1st degree connections you already have access to, so you don’t need to include.

All accounts, including free, have access to the filter criteria in the left and middle columns. The right column has two very important filters that you need in order to narrow down your searches and those are only available with a premium account.

Here are the filters you’ll use the most:

  • Location
  • Company, if applicable
  • Industry
  • Seniority level (requires premium account)
  • Company Size (requires premium account)

Once you fill out your desired fields, you can run the search. There’s a bit of an art to conducting searches and after a while you’ll get the hang of how best to use it to get the results you need. Try to narrow the results down to between 200 and 600. Any more than that and you’re probably not being targeted enough. You also want a number that’s manageable.

One thing is for sure. Upgrading to a premium account (at least for the duration of your prospecting) will get you more targeted results than a free account. You will literally get thousands of search results with a free account and it’s impossible to narrow it down further without access to Company Size and Seniority Level.

Two fields from the left column that may also be helpful, depending on your search, are Keywords and Title.

 

PART TWO: PROSPECTING

Now that you have your foundation set, you can start prospecting. I’ll be going into detail on the method #2 in this post.

Here’s what I will point out about method #1 before I get into it:

  • Start with the current connections that you downloaded and send a message to any profiles who look like they fit your avatar. Try to get in the habit of using your connection spreadsheet like a CRM. Make sure you make a note of the date you sent your first message, with a follow up date at least 2 weeks out.
  • Once you’ve messaged your current connections, then run a new search. Look at any profiles that seem like a good fit and send them a connection request. Note: Don’t use the default I’d like to add you to my network message. It’s much better to say something like I hope business is good. I came across your profile and thought it might be good to connect…
  • Try to send about 20-40 connection requests a day, or do something like 300 requests within a one or two-day period. Remember, with this method you can’t save your searches, so you need a way to track each search you perform and where you left off so you can pick back up the next day.
  • After a couple of months, go in and export your connections again. This is where it gets a little tricky because you need one master spreadsheet for all your connections.  You need to merge the two spreadsheets and get rid of duplicates so you can get your new connections into your pipeline and start messaging them.
  • Repeat these last few steps every couple of months

Now on to method #2.

5) Extract your search results

With the search results still open in your browser window, open up SalesTools and enter the URL for your LinkedIn search. SalesTools will save up to 1,000 profiles (which is another reason to narrow down your searches). It will take some time to process, so just let it run while you do whatever else you need to do. Once it’s done, save the Excel file.

You’ll see in the spreadsheet that you have a whole lot more information than you need, so you’ll need to clean it up a bit. The only sections you need are Name, Title, Company, URL, City/State (if needed). Get rid of everything else.

Next you need to start scraping emails, which leads me to the next step:

6) Gather the email addresses

You can either do this next part on your own or hire a VA with lead generation experience to help, which I highly recommend. It’s a monotonous process and you’ll want to stick a needle in your eye in no time (but the pay-off’s worth it!) Someone experienced with lead generation will have access to their own databases, such as data.com and more. I’ve found some great VAs on Upwork.

If you do it on your own, here’s what you do (use Chrome to do this):

  • First use Sellhack because it’s easier. Just enter the name, company, and domain for each prospect into Sellhack. Let it run and it will come back with an email and accuracy rating. If I get a 50% or better accuracy rating, I’m happy. Sometimes it can’t find a result, which is when you need to turn to Vibe.
  • Vibe works with the emulator and your Gmail account. An emulator is a simple formula made in Excel that will spit out common email variations based on your prospect’s first name, last name and domain.
  • Open Gmail and start composing an email. In the “to” window, start entering in different emails from the emulator. As you hover on each email, Vibe will hunt through Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn until it finds the email address. When it does, you’ll see the profile appear on the right and that’s when you know you have the right one.

You can see how tedious this step is. But once you have it down, it’s easy enough to train a VA to do it for you or find someone who has access to their own databases (meaning that they have paid accounts with SalesGenie, data.com, etc.)

7) Import your list into QuickMail

Once you have the emails you’re ready to start the outreach, which is where QuickMail comes in. QuickMail is a tool that lets you automate outbound emails and make them look like you sent them each personally, like the old fashion manual way.

The first step is to connect QuickMail to your Gmail account. You can specify another email address to send from, but you’ll lose some functionality if you do this.

Here’s what I mean: when you use your Gmail address to send from, any prospect who replies to your email will be removed from your sequence (not removed from your list, just your sequence). This means that if you have a 4-step email sequence and John Doe replies to the first email in your sequence, he won’t get emails 2, 3, and 4. But if you use a different email as your “from” you will need to manually go into the sequence and remove him. And that’s very easy to forget to do. It’s embarrassing to you and insulting to your prospect if you send follow up emails when he already expressed or declined interest. It totally kills the personalization, too. It’s happened to me and it’s mortifying!

Now that you’ve connected your Gmail, it’s time to import your list. QuickMail categorizes leads with Prospects and Groups. When you import your spreadsheet make sure you assign it to a group. I usually name my groups by niche or company. You can go back in and assign prospects to groups later, but it’s better to do it right away during the import. This way as you import new spreadsheets you have them grouped accurately.

Before you import your list, you need to make sure you follow QuickMail’s naming convention for the header row (Fname, Lname, Email).  If yours doesn’t match, the import won’t work.

And for an extra $10 or so, you can have QuickMail verify your email addresses, which I recommend you do. It will move any unverified email addresses to a new group so you don’t get high bounce rates or send to invalid email addresses. This step is to keep your sender reputation high so you don’t wind up in the junk or spam folder.

8) Craft your emails

Decide how many emails you want in your sequence and write them ahead of time (I usually send at least four). You’ll find that the follow up emails will often get you a better response than your initial email. This is because people are busy and may not have time to respond right away. Most will eventually reply, even if it’s to say No, which is fine because it will help you to focus your efforts on qualified prospects.

When it comes to what to say in your emails, there are a number of schools of thought. What I do is to quickly introduce myself, what I do and firms I’ve worked with (if you have a well known brand you can mention, it goes a long way). Then I list out how I help and how it will benefit them. I always close by asking if they have time to speak on a given day, say Tuesday, of the next week. It’s good to give people an option to choose another day or time that works best for them.

My follow up emails are even shorter – 3 sentences max. I mention my previous email and recap my value proposition and how I can help. I phrase each follow up email it a little differently. And again, I ask for a call. Some people add humor in their follow-ups and say things like I haven’t heard back from you so that means you must have fallen through the cracks like these ducks. This isn’t my style so I’ve steered away from it, but am still curious as to what kind of response a funny email like this would get.

The bottom line with email outreach is that if you don’t ask, you don’t get. Make sure you pick a day rather than “some time over the next few weeks”, so that all the recipient has to do is reply with a Yes.

9) Schedule your sequence

Now that your emails are ready, you can add them to QuickMail. You’ll need to create a new sequence to do this.

Note that Quickmail refers to individual emails in a sequence as Steps. So on the left side of the dashboard, select “1st Step”. You can then enter your email in the window on the right side. Don’t forget to add a subject line. Check out this post for how to write subject lines that stand out and get opened.

Below the main window you’ll see a list of merge tags you can insert, like Name and Company. These tags will pull the data from your list and merge it in your email. And this is how you get “Hi John,” and make it personal.  Use these tags to add the person’s first name and/or company as you see fit. Do the same for the 2nd and 3rd Step, and so on.

Make sure you test each email before finalize it so you can catch any typos or bad links.

Once you’ve entered your emails, you’re ready for the last and final step. Let’s start scheduling!!

Actually, scheduling is the easiest part in all of this. Just select the Schedules link from the left side of the QuickMail dashboard (under Sequences). You can specify the days and times you want to send your emails. You will also need to specify the number of prospects to pull from each group and which sequence to send.

It’s a good idea to start out with smaller batches so that your emails don’t get red-flagged as spam. You want it to appear as authentic as possible. I usually send 40 emails per day and break that down into batches of 10 prospects and 4 different times. So I’ll email 10 prospects at 8:00am, 10 at 11:20am, 10 at 4pm, and 10 at 5:30pm. As my campaign progresses I will increase the number to 60 or 70 per day. This will helps you avoid getting red-flagged as spam.

In terms of best days and times to send, I’ve found that I get better responses when I send emails either earlier in the day or later in the afternoon. And Tuesdays and Thursdays are hands-down the best days to send. You’ll need to test to see what’s most effective for you.

That about wraps it up. Happy prospecting and good luck with it! I know this is a lot of info – let me know if you have any questions or have used LinkedIn in other ways to get business. I’d love to hear!

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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.

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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!

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Follow these steps for creating a logo that reflects your brand tone and aesthetic.Branding is definitely about more than your logo and brand identity, but let’s face it, your logo is going to symbolize your brand more than anything else. So it pays to ask yourself the right questions before you start creating a logo.

Keep in mind that a logo isn’t supposed to be a fancy, ornate statement that describes what you do. The purpose of a logo is to identify rather than to explain, which simply means that what’s important is what the logo represents — your brand.

Here are five steps to creating a logo that does that:

1) Know what you’re looking for

Before you start working with a designer, ask yourself these questions:

  • What product or service do you sell and who are your customers?
  • How do you want to portray yourself to others? Friendly? Professional?
  • How do you want people to feel about your image? Inspired? Happy? Energetic?
  • Where will you use your logo? Just your website and social media, or on flyers too?
  • Will you need it for signage? On t-shirts? Will you need merchandising or tags?

This is where a bit of due diligence can really pay off and save you money. By answering these questions you’ll get an idea of which fonts to work with and whether to keep the design simple or more graphic. And you’ll get designs out of the gate that are closer to what you’re looking for.

2) Make it instantly recognizable

The shapes, colors and fonts used in your logo design should be unique and noticeably different from other logos within your market. Look at your competitors’ logos and make sure you’re not infringing on any copyrights. If you think your logo design is too close to that of your competitor, make sure you make the adjustments you need to differentiate it. The last thing you want is to find out that a health club down the road has a logo that looks just like yours. Taking the extra effort to create a unique, instantly recognizable logo will pay off in the end.

3) Keep it simple

Simple is the way to go, especially when you look at your brand from a high level. A logo represents your brand, but there are other elements that weigh in. If you make your logo too ornate, you don’t leave much room for your content, posts and images to do their part. You want everything working together to tell your story, so keep it open and leave room for other elements to do their part.

Simple logos are also easy to read. If you keep your design simple and bold, it will be just as readable as a favicon as it is on a trade show banner. You want it too look good in black and white and in color, so stay away from gradients and textures.

4) Focus on one main graphic element

Designing a simple logo doesn’t mean you need to sacrifice creativity. Experiment with typographic treatments like Verizon and bold designs like FedEx. If your company name fits, you can play with a graphic design like Starbucks. Whichever direction you decide to go in, keep in mind that your logo shouldn’t have more than one graphic element, whether it’s incorporated into typography or integrated as a separate mark. Too many graphic elements will not only make your company look confused, it will also it be difficult to work your logo in with other branding and marketing initiatives.

5) Choose an appropriate font

Choosing a font for your logo can be just as important as the overall design itself. If you’re in finance, for example, your font should convey trust, credibility and confidence. So you would choose a sans-serif font that is simple and elegant. You’d also want to choose a font family with different weights, such as light, medium and heavy so you can play with it. And your color palette would be more sophisticated rather than bright.

 

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How to Create a Brand System for Your Blog and Your Business | Here’s how to start branding yourself and your business so that all your brand elements work harmoniously together and are consistent everywhere. So that more people recognize your brand!Let’s talk about branding!

I remember when all you had to do was pick a logo and a color palette. Maybe you’d even create a tagline, but that was about it.

Anything more than that was for the big brands like Coca Cola. They had (and still have) 50-page style guides for everything – logos, fonts, images, graphics, placement, scale, proportion, ads, brochures, storyboards, radio, TV, web, print…all of it.

But a style guide for a small brand? That was just redundant. As a small business, your marketing was maybe a trade show booth, a brochure and a quarter-page spot in a local magazine.

Building brand awareness on a massive scale just wasn’t affordable for smaller brands.

Now everything has changed. Today every single brand is a publisher.

Can you see how amazing that is? We are publishing companies. Doesn’t matter if we have a team of one or a team of one hundred. We have the potential to reach the exact same audience as Coca Cola and get massive exposure for our brands.

What this means is that we need a whole lot more than a logo and a color palette. We need an entire brand system for everything so that all our brand elements work harmoniously together and are consistent everywhere.

If you look at all the places where people will experience your brand: your website, emails, landing pages, sales pages, CTAs, ads, Facebook, Instagram, Pinterest… It’s a lot. And you need a documented system for things like social media posts, images, content, calls to action, web copy so that you’re not chasing these types of things at the last minute.

Here’s what you need in your brand system:

  • Tone. How do you want people to feel when they experience your brand? Loyal? Creative? Bold? Humorous? Pick three words you want to be known for and use them to set the overall tone of your brand.
  • Logo. Your logo should be simple, bold, and instantly recognizable (especially on profiles and favicons). It should work equally well in color and in black and white. For more on designing a logo, check out this post.
  • Fonts. Choose a font or font pairings that speak your brand. Think about what fonts you want to use for your logo, and what fonts to use for headings, body copy and emphasized text.
  • Colors. What colors support the tone of your brand? Bright and airy, warm, vibrant, dark and edgy, neutral and balanced?
  • Image library. What types of images and textures reflect your brand personality? Smooth, soft, edgy? Start creating a library of images so that you have them handy. There are tons of free or inexpensive stock photo sites with amazing images. A few of them are listed here.
  • Graphics. Same thing for graphic elements. What graphic elements will you use for your brand? Circles, squares, icons? Freepik and Flaticon are great sources for icons and graphics.
  • Blog. Think about your short term and long terms goals for your business. How will you use blogging to achieve them? What types of content will you share? What content themes will you work with to provide the most value to your audience? I drill down on 14 ways to grow your blog audience in this post.
  • Social media. Who is your target audience and what channels will you build a following on to reach them? Create profiles on each and mark down specific goals. For social media profile and cover image sizes, check out this post.
  • Share images. Use Photoshop or Canva to create image templates for social media. Make sure you brand the share images with your logo, fonts, and colors so that people can instantly recognize your brand.

To make it extra easy for you to pull all of these elements together, I created the Build My Brand Toolkit. If you want a ridiculously in-depth, step-by-step system FULL of everything you need to build an epic brand that effortlessly attracts your dream customers, the Build My Brand Toolkit may be just what you’re looking for! Click the image below to learn more:

The Build My Brand Toolkit gives you everything you need to create a personal brand system.While you’re brainstorming your brand system, spend some time researching other brands that stand out to you. Look for quotes, images, textures, fonts, and so on that catch your eye. Pinterest is great for this. You can create a private board where you gather and refine your visual inspiration.

Once you have your brand system together, your next step is to document it in a style guide (yes, you need one!). Maybe not today, maybe not tomorrow. But at some point you will, and here’s why:

  • Posting on social media will take you minutes instead of hours.
  • Your ideal customers will easily recognize your brand.
  • Your image library will make creating blog title images effortless.
  • You will know exactly what to blog about, why and for whom.
  • You won’t get caught using off-brand colors and fonts. You will know exactly which fonts to use, how you want to juxtapose them, and what colors to use for each element.
  • You’ll have the confidence to hit the ground running knowing that your brand is consistent everywhere and that everything works seamlessly together.

A brand style guide is just ONE of the many brand elements we’ll cover in the Build My Brand Toolkit. With this kit, you will create an entire branding system that includes your visual elements (logo, colors, fonts, social media templates, style guide) AND your brand copy ( About page, Home page, blog tone and style, and more). Learn more about the Build My Brand Toolkit.

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19 Must Have Online Business Tools For Savvy Entrepreneurs | If you’re building your online business and not sure what tools and resources you really need and where to spend your money, this post is for you! It includes 19 tools that will help you build your platform, grow your audience and your business, and then automate and accelerate to scale it beyond start up. Click through to check out all the tools!If you’re like me, at some point in your entrepreneurial journey you’ve asked: Which tools and resources do I really need for my online business?

There’s a tendency to invest in more than what we need, simply because we’re trying to get to the bottom of things and figure it all out. What happens next is all that “over-purchasing” starts to get you stressed out on a whole other level, am I right? You’ve got all of these tools and no idea how or when to use them.

In this post I’m sharing must have online business tools that will help you scale your business without pulling your hair out! I get into more detail about some of the tools in this post, but today I want to break it down into 3 different stages for your business.

Stage 1:
The Early Years – Building Your Platform

These are the years of major overwhelm and uncertainty. You have ideas about what to do and are battling with a little bit of fear about whether it will all work out. You’re probably unsure about which tools you need right now. And you’re on a tight budget so you don’t want to overthink what you need.

Let me help. At this stage your focus should be on building a platform for your business and getting it ready for serious take-off.

The tools you need right now are ones that will help you:

  • Optimize your website for gathering leads, because your website is the hub of your marketing
  • Create consistent content, because content is the cornerstone of your business
  • Build your email list, because, well, it’s is a must-have and you need it

1) Bluehost

This might seem like the most basic step to take, but many people don’t have a website yet.

Your website is the #1 must have online business tool. It’s the soul of your business and the cornerstone of your brand and all of your marketing. It’s where you:

  • Show the world what you sell, your mission, and what you stand for.
  • Drive traffic and start building real relationships with your visitors
  • Build your mailing lists (a must-have for every online business!)
  • Gain clarity on your business model and your message

Have I sold you yet? I hope so, friend! Your website is seriously the Swiss Army knife of your online business.

I recommend WordPress and Bluehost for hosting. It’s affordable and you can always get reach tech support, which is a huge deal when your site breaks and you need to fix it, like, now!

2) Leadpages

You need a way to collect names and emails for your content. That’s where landing pages come in. Landing pages are different from other web pages in that their goal is to do one thing: gather names and emails.

Leadpages is pretty much the go-to for landing pages. You can choose from hundreds of high-converting templates from their page builder library and they even show you the highest converting ones. They’ve got everything from squeeze pages to webinars, lead magnets, sales pages… it’s all in there. Just pick a template, change the colors, text and images, hit publish and you’re done.

If you have design and coding skills, one downside has been the lack of customization features. Their new drag and drop builder addresses this and I can’t wait to try it.

3) Thrive Leads

I use Leadpages for the forms on my landing pages and Thrive Leads for all the other opt-in forms on my site.

Thrive Leads by Thrive Themes has the same functionality as SumoMe (plus more) without the monthly subscription. You pay once for Thrive Leads and its yours. I use it to for welcome mats, pop-ups, sidebars and content upgrades throughout my site. One of the things I love most is the “states” feature where you can show different content to people who have already subscribed.

I’m such a fan of Thrive Leads that I’m going to check out their page builder to see how it compares to Leadpages. I’m also going to do a detailed tutorial to show you how to use it, so keep your eyes open for that soon.

4) Drip

When it comes to email service providers, I recommend choosing a platform that has the features you need today, plus others you can grow into as your business and your list grow. You want to be able to stick with your platform once your list reaches 1K and beyond without having to switch.

I actually use Infusionsoft and find that it has a bit more features than what I need (and a hefty price tag too). If were to start over my choice would be Drip and here’s why. Drip looks super easy to use and you can still get robust features, like the ability string multiple campaigns together and create trigger events similar to Infusionsoft. It also integrates seamlessly with Leadpages.

5) Canva

Finally, we can dig into the art of things! Canva is a great tool for non-designers to create amazing visual content. You will feel like a pro, but you don’t need to be one (yet) to use it. Create eBooks, cheat sheets, workbooks, and checklists selecting from the huge library of over 700 templates. Just pick one, add a cover image, masthead, images and overlays for only $1, style your headline, add text, branded colors, fonts, and links. The interface is user-friendly so you can just jump in there and start creating.

If you’re more familiar with Microsoft Word or Powerpoint, you can use those for digital freebies too. Some other tools are Adobe InDesign (my favorite), PicMonkey, and even Google Docs.

6) Tripod Kit + Light

I recommend placing a focus on video right from day one. Video has definitely become a major player in the content game so it makes sense to get in on the bandwagon.  Plus, it’s so much easier to record your content than it is to write it as a blog post! Articles that take me hours to write literally take me 45 minutes to record from the minute the idea pops in my head to my final take. Here’s another perk – you can take that video and turn it into a post in less than an hour. It’s all about repurposing content, am I right?

This diva ring light will make it look like you’re in natural light regardless of the time of day or location. Even when natural light isn’t available, it will seem like daytime and you’ll feel (and look) like a pro on camera. While you’re at it, grab a tripod for your iPhone. You can set up a video station and be ready to record whenever!

Stage 2
The Growth Years – Course Creation

So you’re a few years into it and you’ve got some revenue coming in, your list is growing, and maybe (just maybe!) you still feel a bit overwhelmed about what to do next.

Now it’s time to move beyond selling one-on-one services and into a “one-to-many” business model. The best way to do this is to start creating online courses. These tools will help you do that:

7) Powerpoint

If your course is content-rich, you’re going to want to create a slide show for it. Even though I’m a mac person, I’ve used Powerpoint for as long as I can remember from my days as the “graphics girl” at a corporate gig. So it just works for me. If you’re a Keynoter, feel free to use that instead.

You can actually record your whole slide show from Powerpoint and Keynote, audio and all. It’s actually pretty simple to do. If you’re on a really tight budget or just getting started with courses, you might want to save yourself the extra expense of a separate app for that.

If you want to edit your videos, that’s where you’re going to get stuck. Powerpoint and Keynote do not have video editing capabilities. Which leads me to my next tool…

8) Screenflow

Screenflow is a video and screencasting app that will record your screen and is super easy to use. It will record audio from your external mic and even video from your webcam. And it’s got great editing features too. You can add text overlays, graphics, splice your video, and remove background noise, and more. If you want an even simpler solution, use Quicktime for free.

9) Blue Yeti Mic

Hah! I remember my music days when I would hole up in the studio recording vocals, switching mics, changing placements, getting all crazy about it and you know what? Sometimes a mic is just a mic. All you really need is a microphone that’s easy to use at a decent price that cuts out ambient noise.

The Yeti Mic is all of that and will make you sound like a sweet songbird for around $110. Just plug it into your laptop and you’re good to go. There’s also the Blue Snowball for about half the price. Really any mic made by Blue will give you great sound.

10) Vimeo

Once you’ve created your videos, you need to upload them to Vimeo, which is pretty straightforward. Just create an account, select your plan, and upload our videos. Depending on the size of your videos and how many you have choose the Plus or Pro plan.

11) Teachable

You made it! You’re almost there. Next you need a place to house all of your content behind a protected wall so people have to login to access it. That’s where Teachable comes in.

The interface is really simple, they’ve got a great design, you can customize and brand your school and they’ve got tutorials for how to create your first course. They even have an affiliate program which can help you get even more exposure for your courses. You can set up a school to house all of your courses, so as you go from one to many they can all site under the same roof. Everything is really well organized for a seamless and easy experience for you and your students.

Stage 3
Scaling Your Business – Automation

You’re ready to take your biz to the next level. Maybe you want to add more team members, but you still need to increase your revenue before you do that. The solution is to start scaling what you’ve already created. This is the stage to focus on automating your sales process so you can sell more with less effort.

The tools you need at this stage are about streamlining and organizing the work you’ve done so you scale quickly and easily.

12) Webinar Jam

Webinar Jam is pretty easy to use and works with Google Hangouts. There’s a one-time fee, which beats the monthly fees on other platforms like GotToWebinar and Crowdcast. Since it works with Google Hangouts you can have unlimited attendees and people will be to access the webinar on any device or browser (some of the other platforms have limitations on mobile and Safari).

The only downside is that because WJ is recording your live broadcast signal into a streaming video, there can be a delay of a few seconds. The delay is seen only on the presenter’s side. It can take a few seconds to see the questions people type in the chat box, but it’s easy enough to adjust the pace of your presentation to accommodate for the delay.

13) EverWebinar

Next, get set up to run live and automated webinars with ease! After you run your live webinar a few times and it’s working for you, the next step is to turn it into an “on-demand” webinar. That’s where EverWebinar comes in. It’s a powerful combo of webinar software and WordPress plugin that houses all of your webinars in the cloud. You’ll still have the same personal touch but your webinar will be automated.

Before you jump into automation, make sure you run through your webinar live a few times first. You want to get feedback first and tweak it until you feel like you’re really providing the value your audience needs. Also experiment with how you offer your product at the end so you can find that balance that sells without being overly salesy or icky.

Note: One platform I want to try soon and is worth mentioning: Webinar Ninja. It seems super easy to use and you can run live and automated webinars all in one, so you don’t need to buy two products. I’ll update this post once I give it a try.

14) Click Funnels

Click Funnels is like Leadpages’ bigger sister. It’s more like a funnel builder than a landing page builder. You choose a funnel and it will set up a sequence of pages for you (which you can add to, edit, or delete). So let’s say you’re hosting a webinar, it will create every page you need for that webinar. It’s easy to put sophisticated and high-performing pages together so that your campaigns convert at a high level.

15) Infusionsoft

I know I said earlier that Infusionsoft has more features than I need. It’s still a platform that totally rocks! It integrates a CRM, eCommerce and marketing automation all in one. Basically, you can automate your entire business there. Once you have the basics down with Drip (or Mailchimp or Aweber), it’s worth looking into.

Every Stage – Organization

16) Asana

A tool like Asana will help you manage your projects and get tons of stuff done. I’ve used other project management tools like Basecamp but this one is so much better! Plus, It’s free for up to 15 users! My virtual assistant and I know exactly what we’re working on and I can easily view tasks in their calendar, so I k now if what she’s working on and if she needs more to do! I can also prioritize tasks so she knows what to focus on each day.

Working this way also forces me to think through each task involved with a project, so inside of a Course project, for instance, I have itemized tasks and an estimate of time needed to complete.

17) Dropbox

This is a must for any business. Dropbox is a cloud-based server that will house all of your project files. You can assign access to different folders for any person on your team so that everyone is working from one central place. Files sync automatically as they’re updated so there’s version control. You can also easily restore deleted files or prior versions.

18) 1Password

You memorized your password, now you can’t remember what the heck it is, am I right? I’ve updated my password so many times on sooo many different sites, there’s no way I can keep track anymore! 1Password is a password management tool that solves all of that for you. All you need to remember is one password and that will unlock the vault to all the others. Total time-saver.

19) Evernote

Evernote is awesome! At first I had a hard time using it. I thought maybe I’d write my posts in there to keep them organized, but that didn’t work so well for me mainly because I like to see the files and have multiple pages up on my screen when I’m writing. Plus, the formatting can be sticky. But I DO love it as a way to store articles, post ideas, passwords, email sequences. Basically, anything I know I’ll want to reference but don’t need right away. I save keywords, fonts I like, tracking pixel codes, that sort of thing. And the Evernote Clipper is a fast and easy way to save and tag articles I find interesting but may not have time to read right away (so much better than bookmarking!)

What are your must have online business tools?

 

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How to Create a Brand Style Guide for Your Blog or Business | A style guide for your blog will help you be consistent, cohesive and harmonious with all of your important elements, plus save you time because you won’t have to stop and think about how to design your Instagram image or how to format your next blog post.Hey there! A brand style guide is just one of the many elements I cover in the Build My Brand Tool Kit, which is a ridiculously in-depth, step-by-step system FULL of everything you need to build an epic brand that attracts your dream customers. It may be just what you’re looking for! Learn more about the kit.

I get it. And I’m sure you get it too. How important it is to really know your brand on a deep level. Things like:

  • Your mission and what you stand for
  • Who you are speaking to
  • How you want your audience to feel when they experience your brand

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

…the way we communicate it to them.

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

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

Let go of being perfect

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

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

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

So here’s the big question:

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

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

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

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

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

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

Day 1: Create a Mood Board

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

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

So week one is about igniting your creativity…

Day 2: Edit Your Mood Board

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

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

Day 3: Choose Your Colors

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

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

 

brand style guide colors

 

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

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

Day 4: Choose Your Fonts

brand identity guidelines

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

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

Once you’ve decided on a few fonts, write them down in your style guide and then stick with only these! Remember that every time you create a blog title image, you want to use these same fonts so that people begin to recognize your brand.

Whatever you do, resist the urge to experiment with each new image! Part of the reason we’re creating these brand identity guidelines is to save you time. All the high-level creative choices are being made and documented in your brand style guide now so that you don’t waste oodles of time deciding which fonts, colors, and images you want to use later on. Make sense?

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

Day 5: Choose your social media platforms

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

Document everything from here in your blog style guide.

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

Days 6-8: Choose Your Image Style

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Day 9: Create Your Image Templates

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

 

Whew! You just created a killer brand style guide template for your blog and business. Plus, you made it easy for your audience to recognize your brand because from here on out, you’re going to present one consistent and cohesive brand presence everywhere. Great job!

Psst…A style guide is just ONE of the many brand elements you’ll create with the Build My Brand Tool Kit. With this kit, you’ll have an entire done-for-you branding system that includes your visual elements (logo, colors, fonts, social media templates, style guide) PLUS your brand copy (About page, Home page, blog tone and format) and worksheets to help you track each element. 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.Have you created your brand style guide yet? I’d love to hear about it!

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