How to Write a Business Plan | Plus why you need one and how creative entrepreneurs can rock your business just by getting all your ideas down on paper and in one place. It doesn’t have to be fancy or elaborate, just a simple road map for where your business is going so you know what to do and WHEN to get there faster.This blog post is about how to write a business plan for your blog or small business. And of course, why you need one and HOW to create one that you will actually follow and use to achieve your goals.

A business plan is important because it gives you a road map for your business, so you know exactly what to do and where you’re going. I waited two years to write one and definitely wish I had done it sooner.

Here’s why they’re important:

  • They help you visualize your future business. It’s kind of like writing a script for a third act in a play, and your business is the star. What role do you want it to play?
  • Validate your concept
  • Set realistic expectations about your resources and your budget
  • Give you a clear picture of how you will market your business and get to the next level
  • See the exact steps you need to take in your business so you can accomplish your goals
  • Foresee future challenges so that you can plan ahead for them
  • Develop repeatable processes for your business and your brand
  • Set a benchmark to analyze and evaluate your growth
  • See gaps in your business model and refine your strategy

There’s a lot in this list and it may seem overwhelming at first and that’s okay. Take your time as you go through each step and have fun with it.

What I do when I write a business plan is give myself a time frame to work on it, and what gets done is what gets done. Kind of like saying This window is open right now. At 5pm it’s going to shut and it’s not going to open again. Great way to make sure you don’t get stuck in planning mode too long. The thing that will stop you from achieving success faster than anything else is NOT STARTING, so give yourself a cut-off to get it done and move on.

Here are the steps to write an effective business plan:

1) Create a document for your business plan.

Before we look at what to include in a business plan, keep in mind that planning your business is a fluid process. The first thing you want to do is to create a document in your favorite computer program. Two important things to point out here:

  1. You want that you can modify the document throughout the year as you learn more about your biz, your goals, and your audience. You’re going to view your business plan every 3 months, because that’s how you’re going to work your goals and track your progress. So every 3 months you’re editing, tweaking, and updating your goals and steps.
  2. You definitely want to keep the doc somewhere you can easily get to it, like Evernote or Google Docs. Don’t tuck it away where you can’t find it again!

Is this what you want to say?

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

free business plan template

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

small business plan template

2) Client Summary

One of the hardest things can be identifying your one ideal customer. Everyone from solopreneurs to the biggest brands and corporations struggle with this one.

I think what makes it hard is fear:

  • Fear that if you focus on one ideal customer, you may actually lose business
  • If you let go of trying to be all things to all people, you’re going to wind up being one thing to no one
  • The customers you really want won’t want to work with you

But in reality, the exact opposite is true. When you zero in on your ideal customer, you naturally become a magnet for them. They know right away that you’re a good fit for them and start seeking you out vs you hunting them down.

You probably have a good idea who your target audience is. Most of my clients can say things like, “I’m targeting professional high income women with children.”

Well ok.

What do you do with that? You say it. Write it down on paper. Make a mental note of it when you need clarity. And then you completely forget about it. Because it doesn’t really MEAN anything.

If you’re going to catch the attention of your ideal customers, you have to be besties with them. That’s just the way it works. Beyond their age, title, gender and all the basic stuff, you have to know things like:

  • The way they see themselves
  • Issues they struggle with
  • Problems they have
  • How they feel
  • What their average day looks like
  • Things they want to achieve

For help with your one person, check out this video.

Need help with this? I’ve got a free customer avatar template right here that will walk you through exactly how to get clear on your ideal customer and the true value you provide!

sample business plan pdf Click here to download the customer avatar template so you can get clear on your ideal client!

3) Brand Summary

Now that you’ve gotten clear on your ideal customer, it’s time to create a summary of your business. You’re going to want to create two “statements”:

A vision statement (the long term vision you have your business)
A mission statement (how you plan to achieve it)

The vision statement is part of your strategic plan and it’s just for you. This is where you dream big. Where do you see your business going? What difference will you make for your customers and for your own life? Make it passionate and emotional. Visualize your success, what your day looks like, what car you’re driving, what kind of customers you have, all of it.

Here’s what mine looks like: My vision is to create a clear and direct path for business owners and entrepreneurs to build a profitable online business.

The mission statement is about how you’re going to achieve your vision statement. Here’s where you want to document why your business exists, meaning:

  • What specifically do you do?
  • How do you do it?
  • Who do you do it for?
  • What value are you providing?

My mission statement looks like this: I support this by providing education and training about growing an online brand, supplemented by creative and marketing support to achieve it.

Next steps
In case you want to know, your next step from here is to take these two statements and create a value proposition. Think of it like this: your mission and vision statements are for you. The value prop is for your customers. It’s your 30-second pitch and the message that gives people a reason to choose you over a competitor. If you need help with this, check out this post.

Here’s something I need to point out because it’s easy to get stuck when you’re writing brand statements:

Vision and mission statements will get you absolutely nowhere without the right product/market fit, which we’ll cover later on. People have to want what you have. What I mean by this is that your business will be shaped more by how people perceive it, not by how you perceive it. So until you test the waters, you won’t know if your vision aligns with what they want or need. Or you may realize that you have to adjust how you deliver your vision.

Point is, don’t spend too much time wondering how to write a business plan or perfecting “statements” until you validate your concept.

Brand look and feel
All strong brands are consistent and strategic with their visual identity. So think about how you want readers and customers to feel on your site. What do you want your brand to say about you? What voice do you want to write in? What will you show people? What types of pictures will you use? What graphic elements or fonts will you use? Take all those notes and turn them into a brand style guide, so people will recognize your brand. All your brand elements should have a cohesive look everywhere – blog, website, email, signatures, business card, sales pages, social — all of it.

4) Validate your idea and your market

Two things you need to dig into here:

Market size: The market you’re targeting must be large enough to sustain your revenue goals.
Product/market fit: There needs to be a sufficient demand within that market for what you do.

When you can place a check next to both of these, you’ve got market validation. If you can’t, save yourself the headache and move on to a different market. I’ll give you an example:

For my design business, I was all set to target health clubs. Since there’s literally a gym on every corner where I live, it seemed like a no brainer. The problem? Turns out that gyms don’t care so much about marketing. For whatever reason, it’s just a not a priority for them. So it would have taken me a ton of work to get even one gym customer. And since the market didn’t inherently value my services, I wouldn’t be able to charge enough to meet my revenue goals. What this means for gyms is:

Size of the market: Check.
Product/market fit: X.

You need to do the same for your business. Spend some time researching potential markets before you start going after them. You just need to know that there are enough people who need what you have and are willing to pay for it, so that you can meet your revenue goals in a time frame that works for you.

5) Competitive analysis

Whew! You’re doing great. We’re just about done creating a business plan step by step…

Now, this next step can pull you into a rabbit-hole if you’re not careful! Like the brand statements I mentioned earlier, the problem with competitive analysis is that the focus is on competitors instead of your customers. What I’ve learned is that there are a ton of people out there doing a ton of things, and how you stand out is really a matter of how much (and how) you put yourself out there.

Still, you want to be aware of who else is in your space. Who do you like, who you don’t like? Don’t copy other people, but even the best artists take inspiration from other artists and then make it their own. That’s what you should do with competitor analysis.

Take a look at their pricing, their offers, their processes, how they move people from the “get to know you” stage to becoming a customer. You can use what you learn to model your own offers and services.

Be careful not to compare yourself to your competitors. You’re starting out and they’re probably halfway to the finish line. Just take a look so you have a better idea of where you fit in the market and how you want people to perceive your brand.

6) Business Goals

So now it’s time to move past the warm and fuzzy side of planning and get your hands a little dirty. If you’re going to be in business, you need to know what breakeven and profitability look like.

How much do you need to make right now, so that you can be in business at all, and how much do you want to make tomorrow, when you scale your business beyond startup?

To figure it out, first make a note of all your operating and overhead costs (rent, utilities, supplies, support, hosting fees, cost of goods, travel, payroll, marketing, and so on). Yes, you need a marketing budget – doesn’t have to be huge, but you need it.

Write down everything you can think of around maintaining your business. You’d be surprised at how costs can creep when you’re not looking! Make a note of variable costs vs fixed costs. It’s good to know where the floor is and how much wiggle room you have.

What you’re going for is to establish a breakeven point first, and then project how much profit you want to make in years 2, 5 and even 10.

How will you hit your goals?
Now that you know what your financial story is, you want to map out specific tasks to achieve your goals. If you’ve ever tried to lose weight, you know there’s a big difference between saying I want to lose some weight and I want to lose 5 pounds in one month.

If you’re going to hit your goal, you need to reverse-engineer it. What specific tasks will help you achieve it? Hold yourself accountable and write down specific numbers. What exactly do you want to achieve and in what time frame? Do you want 20 subscribers? 100 Twitter followers? 3 new clients? In 2 months? One Year? You get the idea.

Click the button below to grab a copy of the business plan template so you can start reaching your goals!

effective business plan template

7) Services and Products

Making money online is all about having sales funnels. And the best way to create sales funnels is to have some idea about the products you are going to offer, both today and tomorrow. Ideally, you want to manage the way people experience your products and services, AND how quickly you meet your revenue goals.

What services do you offer right now? What about down the road, do you have ideas for that? Will you sell products? Make a list of your current and future products. Your goal is to tie both your content and your process together into a sales process that lets people get to Know, Like and Trust you, and then Try and Buy. Basically, you want to create a process for how people will experience your products and services.

A good way to do this is by bundling them into packages. For example:

  • Intro Package: Free Consultation, Strategy Call or Freebie. Your goal here is to introduce people to your brand with tons of free info.
  • Trial Package: Low-Cost Analysis, Masterclass, Bootcamp, Ebook – get them to commit to an inexpensive transaction with you.
  • Standard Packages: Basic, Premium & VIP based on scope, needs, and budget
  • Recurring Packages: Nothing beats guaranteed monthly revenue. What services/products can you offer on a recurring basis now and in the future?

Bottom line, different customers will have different needs, interests and budgets. A solopreneur or small business owner is not going to be able to afford the same price structure as a larger corporation. By lining up your packages ahead of time you can meet their needs and your goals at the same time.

8) Pricing

If anyone knows how crucial pricing is, it’s yours truly! In the early days of my design business, I was throwing estimates out there that were all over the place. Some were super low and some were outrageously high. What I did was start out with high pricing and then I’d just drop them for customers with smaller budgets.

There’s nothing wrong with this, except that I would deliver the same exact end product, regardless of whether my price was high or low. So most of the time I wound up doing way too much work for very little income. I didn’t think ahead for different price points and budgets.

Part of this comes from needing customers. There’s a tendency to do whatever it takes to make a sale, and when you’re on the spot a lot of times it can come down to price. Which is why you need those packages.

Each package reflects a different scope of work. Basic and premium packages will require less work than a VIP package and should be priced accordingly. Fewer people will have the budget for VIP and that’s okay. At higher price points, it’s not a volume play. What you don’t want to do is sell customers a basic and deliver a VIP.

Make sure you price each package so that it:

  • Makes both you and your customers happy (not just one or the other)
  • Accurately reflects the true value of what you’re providing
  • Has a decent profit margin so you don’t hit burn out
  • Provides you enough income to help meet your revenue goals

Another thing to keep in mind is how you’ll produce each package. Will you hire people or will you do it yourself? How long will it take to deliver and at what rate? What things will you outsource? What things will you do yourself? Factor those rates into your pricing.

9) Marketing Plan

The universe wants you to succeed! People want and need new services and products like yours. So when you think about it, all you need is visibility so the universe knows you exist.

I stumbled on this quote the other day and it’s so simple but sooooo true:

Startups don’t fail because they don’t have a product, they fail because they don’t have customers.

I’ve seen many people put time and effort into developing their brands, their products, throwing money at things like infrastructure, inventory, materials, and staff, and then have absolutely no plan for sales and marketing. Just a few months ago a friend of mine closed her fashion design business after years of developing her line, getting line sheets together, working with printers, the whole nine. In all that time, what she never did was contact stores, send samples to bloggers, blog, dig into Pinterest or Instagram. Nothing.

href=””>Being an entrepreneur means you need to follow all the steps to starting your own business. And one of those steps is to become an expert at marketing. Period.

I’m not saying you have to become a full blown marketing expert or excel at every technique. But you do have to commit to rolling up your sleeves, testing out a few tactics, and then leaning on the ones that work. This post on 100 different ways to market your business will give you some great ideas to get started.

Think about how you’ll structure each day so that you carve out time for marketing and lead generation. Your mindset should be to split your time equally between product development/client work and marketing.

Quickest way to get customers today. How can you set yourself up for success today and in the long term? What will you do right now to spread the word about your brand? For example, you could email or call people you know, do local speaking events, connect with people on LinkedIn, join Facebook groups. Think about the easiest, fastest path to getting customers now. Write down every possible strategy you can think of, and then choose the least expensive, quickest path to test out.

Future growth. What else will you do in the next 6-12 months to spread the word out about your brand?

Social media/content strategy. Based on what you know about your ideal customer, what are the best channels to reach them? Write down what your strategy will be for each. For instance, you could write something like, “spend 10 minutes a day liking, interacting and comment on Pinterest and post at least 1 pin a day.” Look at how other brands are presenting their content and think about what types of content you’ll share. Do you notice some posts that stand out more than others? Write down how frequently you’ll blog and what you’ll write about. You should check out this post for some great ideas!

Your email list plan. If you don’t have a list, it’s time to start growing one! Start making a plan to grow your list. Think about things like content upgrades, webinars, email marketing providers. This post will help you get started with building your list.

10) Workflows

Workflows, baby, that’s where it’s at. They’re such a time saver! With so many things to juggle, setting up systems and workflows will help you automate those tasks that you do over and over. You might be tempted to skip over this, but please don’t. It will save you pain and frustration down the road, plus it’ll make things run smoother, I promise!

Automating tasks. Think about things that you do over and over again, like email marketing, outreach, billing, presentations, proposals, blog title images, editing photos, social media, blog posts. Walk through your workflow for each of these. Can you create templates for your photos, proposals, and presentations? How can you schedule your posts ahead of time? If you’re emailing prospects, what software can you use to automate it so that you can reach more people quicker?

Social media + blogging. Come up with a plan for blogging and posting on social media. How often will you post? What will you write about and how frequently. Consistency here is what’s going to make your readers trust you and help you build an audience.

Your process. Branding your processes is a huge time saver in the long run and ensures consistency. Take some time to write down each and every step of your different processes. Examples of processes include how you onboard a new client, and the exact steps you take with them from start to finish.

Your schedule. Consistency and taking action are really important for growing your business! Try to schedule your day so that you’re doing the same things each day so you get into a routine. For instance, schedule time for client work, time for marketing, blogging, and time to develop future products. Try to stick to it as closely as possible.

There you have it! I hope these steps cover everything you want to know about how to write a business plan. Remember, don’t get stuck. Keep movin’ forward! Time to build a life you love and enjoy the thrill of being your own boss!

Grab the business plan template below to get started!

free business plan template small business plan template

Whether you’re a newbie biz owner or you’ve been at it for a while, here’s a two-phased approach to help you grow your small business or direct sales biz. Phase 1 will get you clients and cashflow you need today, plus set you up for unbelievable success in phase 2. Click through for all the steps!How can I market my business?

This is the #1 question people ask me all the time. And I know what you’re really asking is: How can I set myself up for long term success with my business?

Before I get to the answer, everyone’s business is different, and how you market yours will depend on things like:

  • Your industry
  • Your business model (product vs service, online vs local)
  • Your budget + resources (4-person team vs solopreneur)

Having said that, there’s no line in the sand when it comes to marketing. Whether you’re just starting out or have been in business for a while, some or all of your marketing today will be done online.

And even when you’ve been at it for years, things in your business today probably look much different than yesterday (maybe it’s time to branch out into a new market or launch a new product?).

There’s just no one-size-fits-all with marketing. How you market an online business looks different than a local business, how you market a restaurant is different than how you market a construction company, and how you market a web design company is different than how you market a retail or ecommerce business. Each one requires a slightly different strategy.

Related: 100+ Ways to Market Your Business on a Small Budget

So, back to the question How do you set your business up for long-term success?

Here’s what I think: you need a two-phase plan.

Phase one: for the now
Phase two: for the long term

This two-phase idea is from Amy Porterfield and I love it because it makes things so clear. You need a strategy to get business today and you need a long term strategy for growth.

I was so inspired by the concept of the phases that I flipped open my laptop and started writing! So in this post I’m sharing what I’ve learned over the years. Phase one includes tactics to set yourself up for success in phase two, plus gives you the quick wins and cash flow you need today:


1) Lay a solid brand foundation

Marketing really starts with a strong brand position, so this is the best place to start. Identify your “One Thing”: the one person that reflects your highly profitable customer; the one problem they have; the one solution you provide; your one offer that packages up your solution.

Use that to create a buyer persona (aka customer avatar). Dive into their goals, aspirations, and challenges, and really what you’re going for is to get inside their conversations, so that you can start hitting them with the conversations they’re already having and become the go-to for their solution. This is the basis of your future marketing.

2) Local networking

Nothing beats face-to-face marketing, even though your reach will be smaller than online. Offer to speak to local businesses, organizations and professional groups relevant to your niche. It’s also a great way to get started with webinars. You can turn those successful presentations into online events pretty easily.

3) Direct outreach via email

You can get some pretty quick wins by sending emails to prospects. Create a list of about 200 people you want to target and then create a 5- to 6-part email sequence. Make sure a few of your emails share content and resources, and a few of them request a call. You can pretty easily automate this whole process once you have a workflow down.

Pro tip: Always include a question at the end of your email so people feel like they need to respond.

4) LinkedIn

I know everyone’s all about Facebook, but I have a little love for LinkedIn because I’ve gotten great business through it. When you don’t have a mailing list (or even if you do), it can really be a goldmine of contacts. It’s basically a huge database of C-level professionals who keep their profiles current, which means you don’t have to worry about the info being outdated or incorrect.

Here’s what you do. Optimize your profile, especially your headline and Summary. Then use your customer avatar to create a Prospect Profile. Start sending sending out connection requests to people who match your criteria. Since you’re reaching out to people who don’t know you, they will first glance at your profile before accepting, which is why you want to make sure your summary is compelling.

For tips on how to optimize your LinkedIn Profile, check out this post.

5) Blog & content strategy

Okay, here’s where you start laying the groundwork for phase 2. You need a strategy for content so that you don’t spin your wheels with blogging.

With your one person in mind, create an editorial calendar around those conversations and challenges they’re having. Try to work with one theme at a time, so that you can pull 3 or 4 of your posts into an ebook or slideshare later on. Writing in themes also helps brand your content because you can create a journey for your readers (almost like a free course).

A lot of people ask about blogging frequency. Don’t worry about it. It’s much better to blog regularly, even if it’s one per month, and really provide value with each post. The better and longer your content, the more opportunity you have to hit some keywords and the more shares you’ll get.

Pro tip: an easy way to get started with themes is to answer common questions that people have.
Newbie Biz Owner's Guide to Success

Phase two

6) Supercharge your blog

So now you’re blogging and you’ve got a few posts under your belt. Great! It’s time to keep it going and get people (and search engines) to find it.

Basically, what you want to do is write long, information-packed posts (some people call this “epic content”) that contain important terms people would use to find you on Google. If you’re not sure where to start with this, try using BuzzSumo to find content that’s really popular, then write something similar, only better.

Install Google Analytics on your site and pay attention to which posts are getting the most views. Then extend on these with future posts. You can also take the themes you started in phase one and interlink them so that each post links to the other.

End each post with a question to encourage comments, and then respond to readers’ comments to show them that you care about their opinions and to encourage them to interact. Add share buttons to the end of your post (and also to your images) so that people can easily share your post.

I know this part is a lot to digest! I go into a lot more detail on each of these steps here.

7) Grow your following

Figure out which social platforms you’re going to dig into and start building a following.

Wherever your one person is, that’s where you want to be. Focus your time and energy on developing a following on just one or two sites. Otherwise you’ll spread yourself too thin. Share other people’s content along with your original content while you’re building up your blog. Determine the best posting frequency for each site and then automate scheduling and posting. Feedly, IFTT and Buffer are great for scheduling other people’s content and Hootsuite and Meet Edgar are great for scheduling original content.

If Pinterest and Instagram are important to you, try Tailwind or BoardBooster. And if you’re on a budget or just don’t want to pay monthly fees, here’s a free way to schedule posts to Twitter and Facebook using IFTTT and Google Calendar.

Related: 14 Ways to Get Massive Traffic From Pinterest

8) Promote your content

Now that your content strategy is in place, your blog is up and running, and you’re building a following, it’s time to really promote your content.

Create a commentary that poses a question and then Pin it, share it on Google+, Facebook, Facebook Groups, LinkedIn, and on LinkedIn Groups. Then tweet it a few times throughout the day. Also share it on Reddit, Digg, Delicious, Tumblr, BizSugar, ViralWoot, Triberr, Ping the Blog, and Instagram.

Re-share it throughout the day and then schedule more shares a few weeks later. You can also create a Facebook ad to drive traffic to it. I recommend FB ads only for your optimized posts so you can capture leads, which brings me to:

9) Optimize & repurpose content

Take popular posts from your Analytics report and turn them into downloadable ebooks, workbooks or templates. Add them to your post as a “content upgrade” (this is an easy way to start building your list). Then create landing pages for them and advertise on Facebook. LinkedIn ads are certainly worth a try, but I can’t speak to them as I’ve found Facebook works well for B2B.

You can also repackage your post to reach even more people by turning it into a video and uploading it to Facebook, or maybe turn it into a podcast. This will give you more opportunities for people to share and more links pointing back to your post. Or turn it into a webinar with a call to action at the end and advertise that on Facebook.

10) Automated sales process

Automation is what’s going to help you turn leads into customers behind the scenes so you can focus on doing everything else you need to do to run your business. This is essentially the same as the email sequences I mentioned in phase one, only you’re using different tools and targeting subscribers and people who have opted in, so they’re warm leads rather than cold leads.

When someone opts-in to your ebook, or signs up for your newsletter or webinar, you create a sequence that basically deepens the relationship and extends the conversation around the topic. Generally toward the end of the sequence you’d include a call to action. You can combine this with a sales call if you added a phone number in your opt-in form. You can use standard email marketing providers to set this up. Mailchimp, Mad Mimi, Infusionsoft, Aweber are all good ones to try.

11) Use your list

Every time you publish a new post, let your subscribers know about it. Also keep them updated on new offers and specials. Create a private page on your website with a video filled with exclusive tips just for them. Engage with them and ask them questions to find out more about their needs. This way you’ll stay top of mind, plus you can use the feedback to shape future products.

12) Tweak your business model

It’s a good idea to start tweaking your business model at this point. You want to make sure that you have content, offers and packages that move people through the entire sales cycle and give them an easy way to get to know, like and trust you, and then try your product or services before purchasing.

Think about refining your business model to include low-tier, mid-range and top-tier or VIP packages.

13) Track and monitor

I’ve found the best way to monitor is to start with an end goal, but it needs to be specific.

You want to track how much time and money you spent to acquire a customer. Here’s what I mean:

  • How many prospects does it take to land one customer – how many connections, how many messages, how many hours each day?
  • How many posts – which topics get the most traffic, and how long did they take you to write?
  • Which combination of ad spend and offers/upsells yields a breakeven? What about a profit?
  • How many times do you have to hold the webinar to reach your sales goals, and then of course, what tweaks can you make to your ad/landing page/sales pitch to get that number up?
  • More metrics like this, you get the idea…
Newbie Biz Owner's Guide to Success

What To Do When You Don’t Know What To Do Next (For Your Blog or Business) | When you’re starting your blog or business, there’s so much to do and only you to do it all. And even though there are plenty of experts who can help, one person will tell you to do this and another person will tell you to do that. Don’t worry, help is here! This post gives you a simple 3-step action plan so you know exactly what to do and in which order. Click through for each step!Knowing what to do next for your blog or business can be hard. There’s so much to do and only you or your team of two to do it.

Yes, there are plenty of experts who can help.

The problem is that Expert #1 will tell you to do this, and Expert #2 will tell you to do that. When you search Google for guides and tutorials to help, somehow you wind up feeling even more overwhelmed than you were before.

One thing’s for sure:

There’s no way you can do it all at once.

And that’s your answer right there.

When I started my design business a few years ago, one of the first things I did was to create a list of everything I wanted to achieve over a 6-month period. Then, I transferred my list onto a spreadsheet.

Here’s what it looked like:


  • Get one $20K client
  • Write 4 blog posts
  • Launch a webinar
  • Create an Ebook
  • Create an online course
  • Contact organizations for speaking engagements
  • Create a presentation
  • Create a newsletter
  • And more

I don’t need to show you the other months because they all looked the same. 🙂

Can you see the problem here? Putting pen to paper got me moving in the right direction, but my goals were unrealistic. I was just starting out and had never written a blog post, didn’t have a topic for a webinar (forget about knowing how to create one!) and had absolutely no idea how I was going to land a big client.

Plus, I was clueless when it came to Ebooks and guides.

It was too much. I actually stopped referring to my spreadsheet because February, March, and April were mirror images of January. By trying to accomplish everything at once, I wound up not being able to achieve most of the items on my list.

More importantly, I didn’t know HOW to achieve them.

I kept staring at my list thinking:

Okay, I want to land a big client, start a blog, do a webinar, create an Ebook. Now what? Where’s the big client coming from? How’s the webinar coming together? Where do I even start with the Ebook?

Absofreakinlutely no idea. Until one day it hit me:

I’d been tracking the wrong goals.

Sure, writing down “Get one big client” looked great on paper. Problem was, I had no idea how to do it. Believe me, I worked at getting that client every day. I sent emails, reached out to subscribers, called friends and family, sent connection requests.

I knew I was getting close, but something was off.

I decided to create an action plan and break my goals down into smaller steps.

Here’s what finally worked

First, I picked 2 goals (get a big client and start a blog) and created milestones for them. Then, I broke them down into bite-sized tasks.

For the client goal, I decided to focus on how many connections, contacts, and emails I would send each month. For the blog goal, I decided to start by picking a topic and writing my first blog post.

(Which seems pretty straightforward now, but I was stumped with the whole blog thing at the time).

My list started to look like this:

  • Post in 2-3 Facebook groups
  • Post in 2-3 LinkedIn groups
  • Send LinkedIn invitations to 500 people
  • Pick 3 target industries
  • Create a prospect list for first industry
  • Create an email sequence to send to prospects
  • Sign up for a free trial
  • Write a 700-word blog post about web strategies

Now we’re talkin’. Finally, I had measurable and attainable goals.

The 3-Step Action Plan

What helped me narrow down my goals is a simple 3-step action plan.

Here’s how it works:

You take your high-level goals and break them down into months, weeks, and days using my Time Block Template. For instance, a 6-month plan would become:

  • Monthly goals
  • Weekly tasks
  • A daily to-do list

With the action plan, you can drill down on specific tasks related to your monthly goals, PLUS any personal things you need to do (working out, errands, breakfast, and so on). Throw everything in there and estimate how long each task will take.

By including both personal and professional tasks on the list, you’ll have a crystal clear view of the week and fewer surprises that come up.

You’ll start to get a sense for how long things really take to get done. For instance, there are times when I’m overly ambitious and estimate 4 hours for an 8-hour task. When that happens, I do my best to forecast it better the next time.

Sandra Clayton 3-Step Action Plan - weekly tasks

Next up, place your list of tasks onto a visual calendar. Block out hours for everything on your list. I can’t tell you how much this step has helped me. It’s like turning your to-do list into an infographic where you see exactly what you need to do and when you need to do it.

No more questions. No more scratching your head. No more wasting time.


Sandra Clayton 3-Step Action Plan-weekly calendar

Every Sunday night, create a new calendar so that you’re full-steam ahead come Monday morning.

At the end of each day, make sure you tweak your calendar according to what your got done – or didn’t get done. No matter how much we plan, there are things that will come up and that’s okay. That’s why the action plan is there. You can shift tasks around until you get it all in there.

The best part?  You won’t feel overwhelmed anymore. There’s only so much time in a week…when your time blocks are filled, your week will be too. Push back everything else on your list to the next week.

Tip: I recommend jotting down 6 months worth of goals as a starting point. For instance, what things must you absolutely do today (get clients), and which ones can wait until next week or even next month (tweak website, update social profiles)? If you decide that you need clients immediately, make sure you put it on the top of your list.

To grab a copy of my Time Block Template, download it below:

Download my Time Block Template to help you increase productivity and get even more stuff done each week!
100+ Ways to Market Your Online Business On a Small Budget | Ready to market your business like a boss? I've got over 100 ways to do it! Just pick one or two to start, test them out and tweak as you go. With so many to choose from, you'll find marketing tips that work for you. Click through to see the full guide. Woo!

100+ Ways to Market Your Online Business, Even On a Small Budget | Looking for new ways to market your small business? Whether you’re just getting started or have been in business for a while, these tips are for you! I’ve grouped them in 2 sections: for when you’re starting out and when you’re ready to take it to the next level. Either way, there’s something in here for every entrepreneur and business owner to help build your brand and get more customers. Some are new, some you’ve tried, and others may not feel right for you and that’s okay. With so many ways to market your business, just pick one or two, test them out and tweak as you go. Click through for all the ways!
There’s no question about it. Whether you’re just starting out or have been in business for a while, marketing can be intimidating.

What do you do first? How do you know what will work for your business? What steps should you take? I hear questions like these all the time, and I get it.

Marketing can seem like a moving target, especially when the way you approach it today is much different than yesterday and probably won’t look the same tomorrow. Just keeping up with the changes can seem like a full-time job.

And yet, what matters even more than HOW you get the word out about your business is your mindset when it comes to marketing.

Here’s how to think about it:

  • Pick one technique and follow through with it. Don’t try to do everything at once.
  • Use a tiny budget and test things out one at a time, then create a larger campaign around what works.
  • Don’t try to be all things to all people. Focus on finding the one perfect customer out there you were born to serve.

Now that you have the right marketing mindset, I want to share with you some ways to market your online business. These ideas work for any business type, just keep in mind that the best techniques for a start-up may look different from those for an established business.

Use these 100+ marketing ideas as inspiration for your business. I’ve tried to group them so you can pick what makes sense based on where you’re at in your business. Some of these you may have tried, some may be new, and others may not feel right for you and that’s okay. There are plenty of ideas to choose from, so pick a few, test them out and tweak as you see fit.


Start with these ways to market your online business when you're starting out.


  1. Create a website. A simple one-page site or even a landing page will do the trick. It doesn’t have to be elaborate or take months to build. You just need a hub to drive traffic to. Tip: Use Wix or Squarespace if you don’t have the budget for a designer.
  1. Create a Facebook page. Keep fans engaged and get a bump in engagement with helpful and inspiring posts around your business.
  1. Create a LinkedIn profile. Treat it like your own personal website page so that people know exactly what you do and how it can benefit them. Add in keywords so that you show up during searches. Need some help? Check out this post for how to supercharge your profile.
  1. Create a Twitter account. Include a link to your website right in the description and use hashtags so people can find you.
  1. Create an Instagram account and start building your following. Use your amazing visuals and images to build your brand. Instagram is great if you have a graphic product or if you’re a photographer, designer or fashion stylist.
  1. Create a Pinterest profile and pin videos and images of your products and your business.
  1. List your business and URL on your personal Facebook and Google+ profiles.
  1. Create a Google My Business page. Select appropriate categories and upload photos of your business and include keywords in both your descriptions and in your images. Add a link to your website in your description.
  1. List your business on Yelp, with some photos of your business and a call to action. Send a friendly email to customers with a link and ask them to leave a review. Do this after you complete a project and your customers are thrilled!
  1. List your business on Yahoo Local, Manta, and other local directories to give you a leg up on local search.
  1. Communicate the same benefit-rich message everywhere…on your website, email, social media, business cards and more… so that people connect with your brand and understand the value of what you provide, online and offline. If you’re struggling with your core message, here’s a template that will help.
  1. Get creative with your business card so when you give it to people at networking events, they remember you. Don’t just list your name and phone number like other people do. Add a benefit-rich message with images and graphics and a free consultation or coupon on the back.
  1. Go to book stores and slip your new business cards into books that talk about your niche.
  1. Get in the habit of telling everyone what you do and what you’re working on. It helps reinforce it for you, plus you never know who might bump into at Starbucks or the grocery store.
  1. Call or email your family and friends and let them know about your business and ask them if there’s anyone they know who could use your services.
  1. Make cold calls. Don’t be afraid to pick up the phone and call people. Marketing is a numbers game and the more people you call, the faster you get to yes, plus it’s great way to get comfortable telling people what you do.
  1. Send a personal email to 20 people you know, including friends and acquaintances, and tell them how excited you are about your new business and offer them a special discount or package just for the opportunity to work with them.
  1. Send handwritten letters to a special list of people that you crave working with and include a flash drive or a link to a promo video where you introduce yourself and your services.
  1. Send thank you cards with your personal signature to show people how much you appreciate their business and give them that personal touch so you stand out from the crowd.
  1. Over-deliver on everything that you do. People will remember it and tell their friends. 
    Idea #20: Over-deliver on everything you do for customers. They'll remember and tell people about it.Click To Tweet
  1. Start a business blog and remember to include keywords for SEO so that people can find you.
  1. Volunteer your services or products to a cause you really care about in exchange for a testimonial, then feature it on your website, blog, Facebook and email. Ask the charity or non-profit organization to include your link on their website too for extra traffic.
  1. Join groups and organizations around your interests and the hobbies you love. I personally like Women in Music and there are many others you can get involved with that reflect your interests.
  1. Give away a special gift or incentive to those people who were you very first clients to thank them for their business and to let them know how much you appreciate them.
  1. Ask happy customers for testimonials and then put them on your website so others can see the results they would get working with you. Social proof like that is so powerful!
  1. Give special deals to customers you absolutely love working with. You’ve worked hard to get them, now keep them! Let them know about new programs you’re running and offer loyalty discounts on their next purchase.
  1. Send a personal email to customers and ask them for referrals. As soon as you wrap up a project and your customer is thrilled, ask if there is someone they know who might benefit from working with you. You can even create a referral program, where you offer discounts.
  1. Offer free consultation calls. This is a great way for people to try your product out at no risk. Put it in your email signature, business card and on your website.
  1. Contact a shared work space near you and offer an educational workshop. Let them help boost attendance by including it in their newsletter.
  1. Have a grand opening party. Or a grand-reopening party. Or a one-year anniversary party. Or a 10th fabulous customer party! You get the idea, be creative with how you can engage your local community. You can even turn it into an online event.
  1. Partner with other businesses. Referral partners can be a great way to build your business. Try to find non-competing partners who sell to the same customers you do.
  1. Give a testimonial to a company you’ve worked with on their site or create a LinkedIn recommendation for an someone who has provided you value. Just make sure you can actually say something authentic, even if it’s to comment on how their great content has helped you.
  1. Be active on Google+. Join Communities and answer questions. Be engaging and ask questions too. It’s a great way to get your blog posts and content in front of others.
  1. Attend trade shows and conferences around your niche or interests. Walk the floor, introduce yourself and hand out your business cards. Bonus if you can find conferences that include time for open networking and socializing.
  1. Exhibit at industry trade shows. These can be expensive, so you may want to share booth space with another non-competing company. Create a press release around it and reach out to media with your booth number and info about the show.
  1. Organize a Meetup group and invite people in your city to join. Also reach out to other similar Meetups to let them know about your new group and ask if they’d like to join.
  1. Join industry organizations and networking groups in your area. They’re a great way to practice your elevator pitch and get comfortable talking about yourself. Be ready with business cards but let it be organic. Networking is just like content marketing – give first and then make the ask. Engage people in conversation before you go on about yourself.
  1. Join a local Chambers of Commerce. These can be great when you’re first starting out. Meet other professionals, participate in committees, and even offer to give presentations.
  1. Sponsor local charities and events to get super visible within your own community.
  1. Donate to local or national charities and get listed on their donor’s page with a link back to your website.
  1. Print some flyers and mail them to people in your area or put them up in local cafes and coffee shops.
  1. Go to strip malls and shopping centers and put the flyers on cars. You can even put them on cars parked in the street if you’re in a city. Tip: people will only pay attention if it really speaks to them, so play around with your message a bit.
  1. Give away branded promotional items, like t-shirts, mugs, hats, pens and key chains.
  1. Contact a niche publication and see if you can purchase a partial list. Filter it by region to keep your costs down. You already know they speak to your audience! Then send a personal email introducing yourself. Just make sure you nail down your message before you do this.
  1. Advertise your products and services on Craigslist.
  1. Create a shop page on Etsy where you sell your products and then create Pinterest pins to drive traffic to your store.


Next, use these ways to market your online business and double sales!

  1. Create a Gravatar so that when you guest post and comment on blogs and forums, people see your picture next to your author bio instead of an anonymous pic.
  1. Grow your Twitter followers. Look at what your competitors are tweeting and who their followers are, then post similar tweets and follow their followers. Many of them will follow you back once they see your tweets. For the exact steps I used to grow my following, check out this post.
  1. Hold a high value, information-packed webinar where you give people a ton of value and show them how to do something. This will help you build your list and showcase your authority. Bonus: Create a Facebook ad and drive signups to a landing page for your webinar.
  1. Build a mailing list. Email lists are one of the most powerful and cost-effective ways to grow your business and increase your revenue at the same time.
  1. Subscribe to HARO (help a reporter out) and get alerts when media are looking for ideas in your niche, then pitch a story around what they’re looking for. This tip works well for online businesses with a national or global audience.
  1. Use Twitter to find journalists and editors. Follow them, retweet their tweets, and then pitch them your story! Look for handles of big-name and local publications. Bonus: Use Followerwonk to do your research.
  1. Create a freebie. It can be a checklist, cheetsheat, blueprint, ebook or video series. Just make sure it’s got loads of valuable content that people would pay for.  Let people download it in exchange for their email address.
  1. Turn your Pinterest profile into a business account. Add branded watermarks to your images and use rich pins so people recognize your business and your brand.
  1. Find pins to share related to your business and then use Tailwind to schedule them so you can scatter your pins throughout the day.
  1. Hold your own local event or host an event with a non-competing business and then promote the event to your subscribers and on Facebook, Twitter, Google+, and Pinterest.
  1. Use your mailing list. Stay top of mind and build deeper relationships with your subscribers by reaching out to them at least twice a month.
  1. Get busy on LinkedIn. Use it, especially if you’re B2B. Make connections and start conversations with people you want to work with on LinkedIn. Since people keep their profiles current, you’ve got a huge database right there! This post gives you some power tips on LinkedIn prospecting.
  1. Participate in 2-3 Facebook groups every day and give away as much value for free as you can so people start to see you as the expert. Check the group policy before posting anything too promotional or salesy.
  1. Join LinkedIn groups. Look for ones in your industry or topic-related that are active and have real conversations happening, not all promotional.
  1. Publish your own book with loads of great value and mail it to businesses in your community. This way they’ll always have it around and will start to think of you when they need the services you provide.
  1. Use Leadpages to create a landing page for your freebie and let people know what they’re going to receive by downloading, with your form right up top so they can see it right away.
  1. Use Facebook ads to drive traffic to your freebie landing page and use the same bullet points for consistency. Start with a small budget until you get the conversions you want. This post will help you get started with Facebook ads.
  1. Create your own Facebook group. Participating in Facebook groups is a great way to boost your visibility, and creating your own group will skyrocket both your engagement and your business over time.
  1. Create your own LinkedIn group. Members automatically view group managers as experts, so groups are a great platform to share, network and promote your business.
  1. Guest post on other people’s blogs. Reach out to popular bloggers in your industry who have a lot of traffic. Tip: a lot of comments usually means high traffic.
  1. Hold Facebook contests. Contests are a great way to build your list. Pick a prize that your fans will go crazy for and make it really easy to join. Check out this post on how to create a Facebook contest.
  1. Optimize your site for search engines. Overlook this step and you’re missing out on a big opportunity to get traffic to your site. The right tweaks to things like page titles, tags, keywords and content can magically boost your rankings and even get you on the first page of Google! I go into more detail about SEO here.
  1. Create a promo video and upload it directly to Facebook for a boost in organic reach.
  1. Create a promo or content video and upload it to YouTube and Facebook. Use search keywords and your branded keywords in your title, tags and description to make it easy to find and share.
  1. Turn a post into an infographic on your website and add social sharing buttons to encourage sharing. Then promote it on Pinterest, Facebook, Twitter, Google+, Tumblr, and Flickr, and submit it to infographic directories like Submit Infographics.
  1. Comment on popular blogs and include your website so when people read your comment they can find out more about you. Bonus tip: include a link to relevant content, like an ebook or a cheat sheet and enjoy an increase in subscribers.
  1. Create a Quora profile and answer questions that pop up around topics you know. This way you can showcase your expertise without being pushy, and as you impress people with how much you know, they will naturally want to take the next step and find out more about you.
  1. Create an epic piece of content. Use BuzzSumo to research the most popular content in your niche. You’ll see the number of shares for each social media site. Then create your own post on the same topic, only make yours better…longer, use more pics, more descriptive… things like that. This is a fast way to put yourself on the first page of Google!
  1. Promote your blog everywhere, even on sites like Reddit, Digg, Delicious,, BizSugar – you’d be surprised how much of a bump you can get in traffic.
  1. Use Periscope to broadcast a live video to your potential customers and let them get to know you personally, as if you were in the same room. Make sure your video is packed with content. Think of challenges and tutorials you can stream.
  1. Create a Q&A post where you interview other people in your industry with a link back to their website. Then let them know about the post and encourage them to share it. Tip: Look for bloggers with a decent following if you can (and do it anyway, even if you can’t!).
  1. Allow comments on your blog and then take the time to read them and respond to them. If you see common questions or themes, you can always use that as inspiration for your next blog post.
  1. Create a speaker demo reel and offer to speak at conferences and associations in your niche. If you’re new to speaking, try joining a local Rotary Club and offer to speak there first before branching out to a wider audience. Bonus – bring a friend to your first talk and ask them to record you.
  1. Turn your content into a Powerpoint or Keynote presentation and upload it to Slideshare, then include it in your LinkedIn profile so members can see it.
  1. Hold a telesummit. Showcase your expertise, build your fan base and grow your mailing list at the same time!
  1. Offer a free email course and promote it on your website and social media, then feature it in your newsletter and include share buttons so people can share it with their friends.
  1. Feature your newsletter sign up where visitors can see it right away. Try putting it at the top of your site and throughout your content, or use a popup or welcome gate so that people can’t miss it.
  1. Upload promo videos onto your Facebook page for a boost in organic reach, especially if it’s already active with a good fan base.
  1. Join affiliate programs. If there are online tools or products you love and use every day, sign up for affiliate programs and talk about them on your website, with a link back to the product’s site. When someone clicks on the link, you get a commission.
  1. Offer a content upgrade. Turn a blog post into a checklist or cheat sheet and add it as a download in the middle and at the end of your posts. This is one of the most powerful ways to grow your mailing list, especially when people love all the value you provided. Leverage it! 
    Idea #86: Need another way to grow your list? Create a content upgrade.Click To Tweet
  1. Use your Facebook timeline cover photo to promote your new blog post, webinar or freebie and enjoy the boost in engagement and newsletter signups. You’ve got prime real estate here (it’s the first thing people see on your page), so no sense wasting it! Include a call to action so people know where to click.
  1. Add live chat to your website so that visitors can ask questions and get them answered live. This makes it super convenient for them and at the same time you keep them engaged longer so they don’t leave.
  1. Start a podcast. Interview experts, authors, bloggers and influencers and also feature your own content.
  1. Invite others to post on your blog. Guest blogging like this can be great for you and other bloggers too. Build out your blogosphere and enjoy the boost in traffic!
  1. Create a weekly Q&A video series. Use the videos to answer common themes and questions around your niche, then upload them to your website, YouTube and Facebook.
  1. Add social sharing buttons on your blog or website. The more shares you have, the more people will want to share too because they will see you as an authority. Tip: Use Shareaholic or SumoMe.
  1. Add share buttons to your blog images. This way when people hover over them, they can easily share to Facebook or Pinterest. This works great for infographics too.
  1. Create an industry round-up. Make a note of your favorite new tools, tips or content you come across each month, then feature them in a Round Up series in your newsletter.
  1. Create press releases and send to local media. Pay attention to the editorial calendar for local magazines and newspapers, then pitch your story around special segments or trending topics.
  1. Give bloggers in your niche a free sample of your product and ask them to review it. The more mentions and links back to your site, the more traffic and exposure you have!
  1. Use Feedly to collect other people’s content. Pull in your favorite blogs and online sources so you have them all in one place. When you find articles your audience would find interesting, share it right from here.
  1. Use Buffer to schedule content. Instead of sharing your Feedly posts immediately, schedule them to go out with Buffer so you can spread your posts out.
  1. Use Hootsuite to keep track of mentions and schedule original content you want to send each month.
  1. Create IFTT recipes for Feedly, Buffer and Twitter so that when a new article is added to your Feedly, it immediately goes into your Buffer queue for Twitter.
  1. Upload an exclusive, information-packed video to a private page on your site and then send a link to your subscribers. Make sure your video has some extra valuable tips they can’t find anywhere else on your site!
  1. Create a 5-day challenge that helps people achieve something they want to do but have been putting off. Make it simple and actionable, so they really feel like they’re getting closer to their goal just by completing the challenge. Then promote your challenge in Facebook groups, on Periscope and on your site. Let your subscribers know about it.

I could keep going… but I think I’ll cut it here.

With all these ways to market your business, there’s definitely a few that will work for you, whether you’re a startup or have been in business for a while. Just pick some that seem like they may work and try them out. I recommend a minimum of 3 months to test each one. This will give you enough time to experiment, edit, tweak, revise and update so you can measure how well each technique works for your business.


Download the cheatsheet: 100+ ways to market your business




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 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

After months of experimenting and preparation with social media and blogging, you’re finally starting to get some traffic to your website!

A Seriously Simple Website Tweak That Will Double Your Website Revenue | Feel like you’re spinning your wheels with marketing? It’s not your fault! Your message just needs some tweaking so that it grabs the attention of your perfect clients and readers. Here’s a simple, effective way to make your website work harder to bring in leads and sales. Click through to find out how!Whether you’re a veteran or just starting out in the online business world, increasing sales on your website can be challenging even with increased traffic.

Aside from creating quality content regularly, leveraging social media and using the highest quality images for your blog, often times we need a little something more to give us a boost.

Luckily, there’s an easy way to give potential customers that push. And it’s a simple tweak you can make right on your home page.

Here’s an example:

Let’s say you want some advice on how to manage your money so that you can save for the future and still enjoy all the things you want to do today, like go on vacations.

So you decide to look for someone who can give you some guidance. You search Google for “financial planner” and find these two websites:

Weak Value Proposition Example


Strong Value Proposition Example

Which one makes you want to find out more about what they do?

I’ll bet it’s the second one. Because the reason to do business with you is the first thing you see, with an image that reinforces the value you’ll experience.

Contrast that to the first one, where the first thing you notice is their logo and then some bullet points about them, followed by a lot more text about them.

Now compare these examples to your own website. When someone arrives on your home page, is it immediately clear what your business is about? Will visitors know right away the value they can expect?

So many entrepreneurs overlook this step when they’re building their websites. And then even though they start getting traffic from organic search, social and email campaigns, that traffic doesn’t translate into more leads or customers.

If you find you’re getting decent traffic but no targeted leads, it’s the message (or value proposition) on your home page that may be at fault. In this article, I’m going to show you how to create a strong value proposition that will convert clients and bring you more sales.

Here’s what I’m going to cover:

  • What is a value proposition?
  • What goes into creating a value proposition?
  • How to create a winning value proposition
  • An example of a strong value proposition
  • A value proposition worksheet

What’s a value proposition?

Using the earlier example, if you’re a financial advisor and someone searches Google for “financial planner” and they land on your site, you want them to stay.

So this is your chance to communicate your value in 30 seconds or less and pull them deeper into your content.

Your value proposition tells people why they should do business with you. It should clearly state what you do, who you do it for and how it helps.

Being very clear on these three things is what’s going to convince people not to hit the back button and search for another trainer.

In a nutshell, a value proposition is a clear statement that

  • explains how your product solves customers’ problems or improves their situation (shows relevancy),
  • delivers specific benefits (aspect of value),
  • tells the ideal customer why they should buy from you and not from the competition (point of differentiation).

It should pass the word of mouth test

Your value proposition should be so simple that even a 10-year-old can tell his friends about your offer and how they would benefit.

But it shouldn’t be so simple that it forgets the value mention. A statement like “We provide financial advisory services,” doesn’t mean anything to people. There’s just not enough information here for people to remember you, let alone tell their friends.

On the other hand, a value proposition that people can’t understand enough to explain to their friends what your offer is and how they can benefit is equally damaging.

Take this example:

Bringing together military and industry veterans in the relentless pursuit of our clients’ success. We understand that the financial industry is first and foremost a service industry and we seek to be consistently recognized for exceptional client service resulting from teamwork and living by our principles.”

Do you have any idea what they do? Ready to run and tell your friends about it? Didn’t think so.

Your value proposition isn’t the place to impress people with how smart you are. Technical jargon-propositions like this will kill your chances of converting clients. Stay away from them at all costs.

Remember to keep the focus on your customer:

  • What do they want?
  • Why are they here?, and
  • How do you help?

Use the right language

Your value proposition needs to be in the language of your ideal customer and join the conversation that is already going on in their minds. You need to speak in the words your customers use to describe your product and how they benefit from it, not your own.

Don’t try to guess what that language is. The way you speak about your services is often very different from how your customers describe it. You need to find out by either interviewing your customers and your sales team or through social media.

What goes into a value proposition?

The value proposition is usually a block of text (a headline, sub-headline and one paragraph of text) with a visual (photo, hero shot, graphics).

While value propositions come in many forms, here’s a basic formula you can use:

  • Headline
  • Sub-headline or short paragraph
  • List of key benefits or features
  • An image

The headline is your attention grabber and the most important part of the value proposition. It’s what people will spend the most time looking at. Give them one short sentence here summarizing the end-benefit you’re offering.

You sub-headline is where you add more detail about what you do, who you do it for and why it is useful. This should be no more than 2-3 sentences.

Use bullet points to show benefits and features people can expect.

An image is worth a thousand words, so be careful which image you choose.  Show your product or some image that emphasizes your main message. An irrelevant picture will confuse people and won’t do much to emphasize your message.

Evaluate your current value proposition by checking whether it answers the questions below:

  • What product or service is your company selling?
  • What is the end-benefit of using it?
  • Who is your target customer for this product or service?
  • What makes your offering unique and different?

Use the headline-subhead-benefits-visual formula to structure the answers.

How to create a winning value proposition

The best value proposition is clear: what is it, for whom and how is it useful? If those questions are answered, you’re on the right path. Always strive for clarity first.

If your value proposition makes people squint their eyes and tilt their head, you’re doing it wrong. If they have to read a lot of text to understand your offering, you’re doing it wrong. Yes, a sufficient amount of information is crucial for conversions, but you need to draw them in first before you get in to all that.

Here are some steps to help you come up with a winning value proposition:

1) Create a Customer Avatar

You need to know what motivates your ideal customers in order to craft a message that’ll make them take notice.

The best way to get this kind of insight is to create a Customer Avatar, which is a profile of your ideal customer.

Do you have a favorite client that you love working with, one that just happens to be a highly profitable client? Use that profile for your customer avatar.

If you don’t have clients yet, think about who would value most from your products or services. Why would they want to choose you over someone else? Think about what problems they have and how you can uniquely help. Then just update your avatar later one when you know more about your ideal clients.

Here’s what you need to include in your profile:

  • What do they do?
  • What are their basic demographics: background, age, income, gender?
  • What’s the biggest challenge they face?
  • What are their aspirations?
  • What would make their job/life easier?
  • Are there any other people involved in the decision-making process (spouse, boss). If so, you’ll need to create an avatar for each.
  • Have they used other products or tools similar to yours, and how did they like them?

You may discover some things you didn’t expect.

Don’t be afraid to focus solely on this one profile. You really want your avatar to reflect highly profitable clients only, and let the others fall off. It’s time to get laser-focused on your ideal customer (the ones that are super easy to work with, love what you do, and bring in the most revenue).

(NOTE: Want my easy 3-step process to create your customer avatar? Get my Customer Avatar Worksheet.)

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


2) Define what makes you truly unique

When I think about what separates me from other marketers, the first thing I think about is why clients pick me.

And then I think, “I’m good at what I do, I have a great service and I provide a great value.”

But here’s the thing. These are the same exact things that everyone else can can say. Service and value are a given today and something that customers expect. These claims will get you a seat at the table, but they’re not tipping points.

You really need to reflect on the one aspect of value that you excel at over your competitors. This is the secret to creating a strong value proposition, especially if what you sell isn’t all that unique.

In my case, I’ve learned that my tipping point is that I’m a marketing team in-a-box, kind of like a CMO on steroids. When clients work with me they don’t have to shop for a separate writer, designer, business strategist, SEO person or IT person. So my real value is that I make marketing easy for companies by saving them time and energy and holding their hand through the process.

You might discover that it’s the little things that really matter to customers, like all the things you overlook and are already doing that absolutely thrill them. For instance, as a remodeler it might be how clean and tidy you keep the project site that matters most to your customers and not your craftsmanship or attention to detail.

Knowing these little things will make all the difference in the way you market yourself. When you clearly communicate them throughout your website, you’re going to immediately attract the exact customers who want to work with you.

Here’s an example of a great value proposition

Check out Wix’s homepage:

Wix value proposition

There are tons of website builders out there, so how does Wix stand out from the pack?

They focus on how easy it is to create a beautiful website.

Which makes sense, because if you think about it many people looking to build their own website are entrepreneurs like you and me who have a million things on their to-do list.

Chances are their background isn’t in technology, so being able to easily build a website is super important to them.

Do you know what’s super important to your customers? Make sure they see that message right away.

If you’re saying too many things, or you’re saying them in ways that confuse people or don’t convey value, it means your value proposition is unclear. And if it’s unclear to you, it’s definitely going to be unclear to visitors.

Value proposition template

It can be tricky to know where to start writing your value proposition, so I’ve provided a template to help get your creative juices flowing. First write out your responses to these questions. Take your time and try to answer them as completely as possible.

  • What product or service are you offering?
  • Who is your ideal customer?
  • What do they need or desire?
  • What problems do they have?
  • How do you solve their problems?

Then plug in your answers here (you don’t have to follow this template exactly, but it should have these basic components).

For_____________________(your ideal customer)

Who____________________(what does your customer seek or need)

(Your product) is a ________________________ (describe you or your product)

That____________________(your solution/key benefit)



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A good way to test your value proposition is to create two home pages and run Google ads to see which one performs better. You won’t be able to test your actual ad conversions this way because there are other factors involved, but you’ll be able to tell which value proposition is stronger. Keep testing and refining your message and product/market fit until it’s solid.

(NOTE: Want my easy 3-step process to create your customer avatar? Get my Customer Avatar Worksheet.)

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



6 Marketing Tools for Your Blog + Business | Struggling with how to get started building your email list? This post was created with you in mind and shows you six essential tools to automate your list building. Click through for all the tools!You know you need an email list. I know it. We all know it.

But the thing is, where do you start? How are you going to get those subscribers?

Hopefully when you started your website design, you thought about how to optimize it beyond just a newsletter sign up form. What you really need is a complete opt-in sales process to turn web traffic into leads and paying customers.

The good news is there are some really simple marketing tools you can use to boost your website with an irresistible opt-in that builds your email list quickly and effectively.

This article will cover tools to create a killer opt-in and sales process:

  • Getting ideas for your opt-in
  • Designing your opt-in
  • Creating a landing page
  • Creating opt-in forms
  • Social sharing
  • Automate following up
  • Automate social posts



1. BuzzSumo: Content ideas for your opt-in


You might know what content your ideal customers need for their business to flourish, but sometimes the key to getting more leads and sales is shaping that same content into something they want.

And that can be tricky if you don’t know what people want to read. It makes sense to do a little research before you spend time creating your freebie.

One way to research popular themes in your niche is to use BuzzSumo. A content research and monitoring tool, BuzzSumo lets you see what content and blog posts are shared the most so you can see what’s trending right now for your specific topic.

BuzzSumo can help you answer these questions:

  • What topics resonate most with my audience?
  • What social networks should I focus on distributing my content?
  • What headlines are working and on which networks?
  • Which influencers are sharing and amplifying content related to my topic?
  • What other content are these influencers sharing?

Once you find popular content related to your opt-in idea, all you have to do is improve upon it with an epic piece of content and then  turn that epic content into a PDF.

Here’s a bit more information on the features and how BuzzSumo can help you create an irresistible lead magnet that grows your list:

  • Research Content: You can research any topic to see what posts get the most shares. All you have to do is input a topic or keyword and BuzzSumo will give you a list of posts ranked by the amount of social shares each receives! This is a great way to look for popular posts and then see how you can improve upon them and make them even more usable (like an epic blog post and then convert it into a lead magnet format!)
  • Research Headlines: Need headline ideas? With BuzzSumo you can see which headlines work the best and on what social networks, so you know how to position your opt-in headline.
  • Social networks: BuzzSumo monitors the most shared content across Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter, Google+, Pinterest. This is a great way to gauge where to promote your freebie and which social networks to focus on.
  • View sharers: You’ll need to upgrade to the Pro version to see everyone who shared each post, as well as their Twitter followers and other content they’ve shared. This is how you would outreach to people who you mentioned in your content or people who shared the post so they can share yours too.
  • Filtering: There are so many filtering options! You can narrow your search results by, say Facebook or Pinterest, to see what content that is most popular on each network. You can also filter by date, domain (great way to spy on the most shared content for your competitors!) and by the type of content to find out which infographics or videos are most popular.
  • Content alerts: This is a great way to monitor when blog posts mention you, as well as when new blog posts are created by your competitors or around your keyword. You can even create a custom dashboard to monitor your alerts.
  • Twitter influencers: You need the Pro version for this, but is helpful if Twitter is your go-to social network. Just run a search for your keyword to find the top influencers, view the links they’re sharing and view their followers. A great way to build a target list to reach out to as part of your overall content strategy.
  • Trending Now: This dashboard will show you the most trending content for set categories such as fashion and marketing, but you can also create your own custom dashboards for topics or domains. You can even create RSS feeds to bring the content into Feedly.
  • Export data: With the pro version you can export any dashboard results to an Excel spreadsheet


  • Individual account (with limited features): Free
  • Pro – Starter plan for entrepreneurs & small teams. $99/month or $79/month with annual contract
  • Agency – all Pro features plus the Facebook Analyzer. $299/month or $239 with annual contract
  • Enterprise – Unlimited everything with advanced functionality: $999/month

Alternative: If budget is a concern, you can use Google’s Keyword Planner and Google search (both are free) to do your research.


2. Canva: Drag & drop design

Canva makes designing easy

Now that you’ve done your research and created your opt-in, how do you go about designing it, especially if you’re not a designer and need to get it done quickly?

That’s where Canva comes in.

Canva is a free design tool that makes designing anything fun and easy. You can easily turn your content into a stunning design with the drag and drop platform. It’s as easy as selecting a template and then dragging shapes, text boxes, images and icons from the library onto your template. You can even share your design and get feedback while you’re working on it.

Here’s some more info on Canva features:

  • Drag-and-drop template: Love, love, love the templates they have! Over 100 layouts to choose from – for everything from social media posts (Pinterest, Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, Tumblr), presentations, ads, blog graphics, PLUS they just added an eBook template. They’re constantly adding new templates too or you can create a custom one.
  • Design elements: You have so many design elements to choose from… images, fonts, icons, shapes and images. The design possibilities are limitless! Some are premium and others are free, but even the premium ones are only $1. And you can upload your own images if you can’t find something from their library.
  • Design options: So many fonts, so many colors to really get creative. It’s pretty easy to crop photos and add filters to image, like for when you want to darken a background image with overlaying text. You can also adjust the transparency of shapes to add some dimension.
  • Pages: This is what makes this so simple for creating ebooks, where you need multiple pages. It’s super easy to add more pages, copy pages, and delete them.
  • Download, share & make public: You can download your file as a png, pdf or jpg or  post it directly to Facebook and Twitter. You can also email it as an editable graphic if you’re collaborating with a team.
  • Subscription service: If you need more design flexibility and consistency, you can upgrade for more features like customizable templates, magically resizable designs for difference social media channels, and creating your own branded theme with colors and fonts.


  • Free – The Canva library gives you access to a whole stack of free images, graphics and fonts.
  • Premium image – $1 from the premium library. You can try the elements in your design before purchasing them.
  • Canva for Work – For teams of designers and content creators. $12.95 monthly per team member or $9.90 per member billed annually.


3. Leadpages: Landing pages

Leadpages is top landing page builder

When you want people to opt-in for your freebie, you need a dedicated page where you can collect contact information.

The best way to do that is to create a landing page for it.

Landing pages are pages with the specific goal of capturing contact information in exchange for your freebie. They generally have nothing else on the page except for some information about your download, your logo and the form (no other navigation or links to distract people).

Using Leadpages is the easiest way to create high-converting landing pages.

A landing page builder, Leadpages lets you quickly and easily create landing pages using pre-designed templates that you can customize and integrate with your subscriber lists.

They put a lot of research into what prompts visitors to take action, so when you publish your landing page you know it’s already designed for conversions. All you have to do is add some great copy and tweak the design to fit your brand and then track how it’s performing.

Here’s what else you need to know about Leadpages to kick-start your lead generating system:

  • Templates: Here’s the best thing about them, you can pick from templates for any freebie you have, whether it’a a webinar, ebooks, PPC campaign, sales page and so on. All you have to do is add your copy, upload your logo and images, and change the colors to match your brand. And you can sort by highest converting pages.
  • Responsive + mobile friendly: Shows up just as perfect on any device!
  • Analytics: This is such a simple feature, which is what makes it so great. Right on your dashboard you can see how your page is converting so you know if you need to tweak and test another version to increase conversions.
  • Drop-in Pixel Tracking: It’s super easy to paste your Google Analytics code or Facebook pixel to keep track of campaigns.
  • Leadboxes: You don’t even need another sign-up plug in! Right from Leadpages you can build a sign up form and add it to any page on your site.   … a real time saver when you don’t want to deal with learning another tool.
  • Publishing: You can publish your landing page on Leadpages, WordPress or right on your Facebook page as a custom tab.
  • Email + CRM: Integrations include iContact, ShoppingCart, Aweber, Constant Contact, ActiveCampaign, Infusionsoft, ConvertKit, Drip, Emma, GetResponse, MadMimi, MailChimp, SendReach, Ontraport, Zoho, and Infusionsoft. With the advanced plan you can integrate Hubspot, Marketo, and Salesforce.


  • Standard – for entrepreneurs. $25 per month.
  • Pro – for small businesses. $49 per month. More advanced features like custom landing pages, priority support + live chat, A/B split testing, and more
  • Advanced – For teams and agencies. $199 per month. Enterprise-level features like integration with Hubspot, Marketo, and Salesforce, coaching programs, etc


4. ThriveLeads: Opt-in forms


Thrive Leads for opt-in forms

According to Thrive Leads, about 50-80% of website visitors will leave and never return. I don’t know where they got this stat from, but it sounds about right.

If you think about it, when was the last time you visited a website twice? It’s one thing to check out a fashion brand like Brandy Melville to see their new styles. But let’s face it, most of us entrepreneurs don’t have the bandwidth to create new products fast enough to make visitors crave coming back.

That’s why you need opt-in forms and sign up boxes on your site so you can capture contact information from every visitor. This is the quickest way to turn your website into a lead generating machine.

There are tons of WordPress plugins you can use to build your list, but my latest favorite is Thrive Leads.

I love how easy to create a great looking form, and the fact that they have tons of location options like header, sidebar, popup box, ribbon, footer, in the content and more.

Plus it’s full of features that go way beyond standard functionality. It also integrates with just about every email service provider and autoresponder out there, which makes it an ideal solution for both entrepreneurs and enterprise businesses.

Check out how easy it is to create opt-ins with Thrive  Leads:

  • Templates: No technical skill required! Just select a form template and start tweaking, designing, and adding your content. The pre-designed templates look great and are so simple to use. You can choose your brand colors and even select a Google font for your forms.
  • Integrations: Mailchimp,AWeber,GetResponse, MailPoet, Onraport, iContact, ConvertKit, ActiveCampaign, Infusionsoft, SendReach, KlickTipp, Sendy, ArpReach, Drip, Madmimi, Hubspot, SendinBlue, WebinarJam, GoToWebinar,Mandrill, Postmark, Mailbgun, Amazon SES, SendinBlue Email.
  • Form options: Slide-In, popups, exit intent trigger, smart exit, header, ribbons, widget forms, in-content, footer.
  • Visual Editor + Interface: Love the simple dashboard! I can select my form or add another form type without having to figure out where I am like some other plugins. It’s also easy to see your edits in real time, so you know exactly what your form will look like as you’re tweaking it.
  • Responsive + Mobile-friendly: …no mater what device!
  • Tutorials: I love their tutorials and webinars. I was able to create my first opt-in after about 20 minutes scraping through their materials, which are pretty comprehensive. Even if you’re not that techy in under 45 minutes you’ll know enough to create a high-converting opt-in.
  • A/B Testing: You can test your designs, triggers, offers, and form types. This is great when you want to compare offers or which placement gives you the most conversions!
  • Technical support: Free support for one year, which is really helpful. I’ve used the support forums pretty extensively and they’ve always been able to solve my problem. They respond generally within 24 hours and once the year is up you can purchase another year for only $40, or become a Thrive Themes member and get it free.
  • Upgrade: If you start out with a single site license and then need more, you can upgrade to an unlimited personal site license and pay only the $30 difference.
  • List building strategies: The plugin authors are big on helping you build your mailing list as fast as possible, not just the functionality of the plugin itself. They share list building strategies to help you get the most out of it.


  • Single site – for one site. $67.
  • Unlimited sites – Use on all of your own websites. $97
  • Agency License – $49 per month. For client sites

Alternatives: If this seems pricey, try Optin Forms or Magic Action Box Pro (I haven’t used Magic Action Box Pro but have heard great things). Optin Forms has fewer integrations and is still super easy to set up and use.

5. AWeber: Email marketing & auto responders

Aweber email marketing management


Syncing your opt-ins to an email service provider like AWeber will help you build relationships with people who have shown an interest in your business.

Sending out regular emails to your subscribers is a brilliant way to connect with your target audience on a deeper level, and also a proven method for converting clients.

Aweber is a popular email platform for your campaigns because it’s easy to use, affordable and very professional.

It’s got a ton of features, with gorgeous plug-and-play designs that will impress your subscribers, grab their attention and pull them back to your site.

Here’s how Aweber will help amplify your opt-in and your business:

  • Easy to use: Aweber is very simple to use and doesn’t require coding. Even if you’re not techy, you can build a beautiful email in no time at all and the monitor conversion. You can also use one account for lists across multiple sites, which is a huge advantage if you’re dealing with several brands.
  • Stock Images: If you need images for your emails, they’ve got more than 6,000 to choose from.
  • Templates: They’ve got over 700 design templates to use that are really visually appealing for a wide range of marketing purposes. The designs are responsive so they’ll look great on mobile devices too.
  • Auto responder: Successful email campaigns are built with auto-responders, which means that you plan your emails ahead of time and then schedule them at predefined intervals once they opt-in. This is a huge time saver because by automating you emails like this, you can be reaching more and more people in less time and with less effort. You create your emails once, and then queue them up to send out on the back end. It’s also a great way to filer out discounts and offers over a period of time, as well as delivering courses and tutorials for new subscribers.
  • Reporting: Reporting and tracking are really great. You can easily see the number of emails sent, how many opens, clicks, undelivered emails and more.
  • Split Testing: You can send out different versions of your emails on a few contacts and then take the best performing one and send it out to the rest of your contacts. It’s a great way to test headlines and intros to know which ones really grab people’s attention.


  • Up to 500 subscribers: $19 a month
  • 501 to 2,500 subscribers: $29 a month
  • 2,501 to 5,000 subscribers: $49 a month
  • 5,001 to 10,000 subscribers: $69 a month
  • 10,001 to 25,000 subscribers: $149 a month

Alternatives: MailChimp and MadMimi are both great tools for mailing lists that are super easy to use and really visually appealing.

6. SumoMe: Social sharing buttons + shareable images

Sumome image sharer buttons

This tool is more about having strong social media and getting more traffic to your site and your opt-in. It’s a simple way to amplify your social presence even more.

The SumoMe plugin is one of the best tools on the market for increasing social shares and driving traffic through social networks. It’s quick and easy and bursting with features.

When people hover over an image, they can share it. How cool is that?

SumoMe is free and if you want even more functionality like A/B testing, premium templates, more customization, tracking and more you’ll want to upgrade.

Here’s what you can do with SumoMe:

  • Design: SumoMe has incredibly attractive sharing buttons. And you can easily change the colors, sizing, style, and number of buttons, and more!
  • Shareable images: This is a great thing about this plugin. I think Shareaholic has this feature too, when you hover on images you can have multiple share buttons come up Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest so people can share your images.
  • Ease of use: Simple sharing to Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, LinkedIn, and more. And it’s easy to set up and integrate with most email marketing services, like AWeber, Mailchimp, GetResponse, MadMimi, Constant Contact, Infusionsoft and more.
  • Flexible placement: And you can place the buttons on the top and/or bottom of your posts, or have them float on the side of your content. Place them above or below your posts.
  • Text Highlighter: This one is pretty cool, when people highlight a phrase on your site, a box will appear asking them if they want to tweet it. Pretty awesome, right?
  • Analytics: You can see the top pages, number of clicks and shares right from your WordPress dashboard. You can also see how much of your posts are being read so you can optimize them.


  • Free – just install the plugin and get free access
  • Upgrade: SumoMe Pro includes all their apps (List builder Pro, Sharing Pro, Heat Maps Pro and more); varies from $20 – $119+ per month depending on your site’s traffic
  • Visit SumoMe

Alternative: Shareaholic is another free sharing plugin that works with WordPress. I had some problems getting the image sharer to work correctly, but didn’t do much testing and have heard it works well for others.







Check out these website features that will help you turn your blogging, web copy, and offers into a cohesive marketing system that works for your business.Implementing an effective small business marketing system is like putting a puzzle together. From blogging and SEO to social media and premium offers, the pieces are so intertwined and crucial in their own right that it can be hard to prioritize what to do and in which order. Each piece of the puzzle must link together perfectly, and no piece can be left out.

That’s why you want to avoid implementing random tactics, such as blogging before a conversion funnel is in place or posting on social media without a content strategy.

Having said that, your website should always be a priority. It’s where your traffic lands and a crucial factor in your ability to convert visitors into qualified leads and ultimately, into customers.

Given that your website is the hub of most of your marketing activity, here are six crucial features to make it highly converting and highly engaging.

1) Unique value proposition

The first thing to do if you want a high converting website is make sure visitors know why they should do business with you.

When visitors land on your website, they need to see right away what it is you do and why they should do business with you.

A great example of this is Wix.

Wix Homepage

There are many website builders in the market today, so how does Wix stand out from the pack? They focus on how easy it is to create a beautiful website.

If you think about it, many people looking to build their own website are entrepreneurs who have a million things on their to-do list. Chances are their background isn’t in marketing or technology. So being able to easily build a website is super important to them.

Do you know what’s super important to your customers? Make sure they see that message right away. Nine times out of 10, when clients come to me asking why their marketing isn’t working, a quick look at their website reveals the answer.

If you’re saying too many things, or you’re saying them in ways that confuse people, it means that you’re unclear about your unique value. And if your value proposition is unclear to you, it’s definitely going to be unclear to your readers.

2) The homepage

Most of your traffic will pass through your home page, so it’s very important it makes a good impression. In some cases, it’s the only chance you have to make a lasting impression on a potential customer. If your homepage looks great, functions well and loads quickly, there’s a good chance visitors will navigate to other pages of your site and continue to engage and move through their journey. Get any one of these things wrong, and visitors will probably leave and visit another competitor entirely.

Make sure visitors can easily find what they’re looking for on your website. If there are any interruptions at all that make it hard for people to navigate the site easily, people will be more likely to give up and go elsewhere. Give them what they want right away and don’t leave any gaps between what they want to do and a clear, easy way to do it.

3) Landing pages

When a visitor encounters an ad or offer that makes them want to click through to your site, they have a strong expectation that what they’ll see next will match that hook exactly. By creating compelling, laser-targeted landing pages, you can make sure your site won’t frustrate their expectations. A good set of landing pages will help your site seem as if it is speaking directly to your prospects no matter how they got there or what motivated them.

4) The user journey

Whether your visitor arrives on a landing page or your home page, there has to be a clear path for them to navigate. That path should lead through the fewest number of other pages and clicks possible – and it should go straight to your website conversion goal. In the early stages of designing a site, you should define the actions you want users to take and then streamline the path to those actions as much as possible. With a landing page, website conversion could take as little as a single click: Ideally, your home page adds only one new click to the equation.

Navigation should be intuitive and make sense. Anything that causes confusion will make it unclear what you do and why people should care. Your navigation should be labeled clearly and lead people to pages where the content supports what the page is about. When you can, avoid drop down navigation.

5) Content

Sooner or later, whether it’s after their first conversion or while contemplating their first buy, visitors will break away and go off the beaten path. As they explore your site, they’re on the lookout for signs that you’re an expert and an authority in your space. Those signals comes from your web content. It should be helpful, informative, and directly related to the big questions that occupy prospects’ minds. If you have strong ideas about who your ideal customers are, it will be easy to uncover the challenges they have relating to your products, and give them the solutions they need through articles, videos, podcasts and more.

6) Offers

Once a visitor leaves your website, odds are good that you won’t see them again unless they have a good reason to come back. This means you may be leaving money on the table. By offering premium content that provides real value to your target audience, you can drive engagement and develop lasting relationships with visitors long after they leave your website. Make sure your premium offers provide real value to your target audience and use compelling titles to capture their attention.

Key Takeaways

Optimizing your site for conversions is about making sure potential customers have the information they need to make decisions and take action. The path to their journey should be clear and straightforward, with minimal distractions to prevent them from taking the action you expect. Over time, you’ll gain a deeper understanding of what motivates your potential customers to purchase your products and can modify your website accordingly for even higher conversion rates.


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

Hah! If only it were that easy.

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

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

1. Create a landing page

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

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

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

landing page example

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

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

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

Here’s an example of a CTA:

Call to Action example

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

2. Place the CTA on high performing pages

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

3. Email it to subscribers

You’ve got an email list. Use it!

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

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

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

Emails can be simple text, like this one:

Email example

Or HTML with images and graphics like this one:

HTML email

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

4. Share it on social media

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

Here’s a sample sequence for social media sharing:

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

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

5. Create a Facebook Contest

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

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

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

Here are a few tips for creating your contest:

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

6. Reach out to influencers

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Key Takeaways

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

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

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

How To Create Irresistible Call To Action Buttons That Get Clicked | If you're ready to convert more readers into customers, this post is for you! It includes 11 tips for entrepreneurs and bloggers that will help you write persuasive call to action buttons that readers can’t wait to click. Check out all the tips here! When was the last time you spent more than 5 minutes reading a subject line? How about a navigation link? What about a form title?

In the world of marketing, short copy rules. People love it. It’s inviting and unintimidating. People read a short title and think, “Good, I won’t have to spend a lot of time on this.”

But that same short copy can be really hard to write. You have to grab people’s attention. You have to encourage them to take action. When you have less copy to play with, every word counts that much more.

Copy that can be easily overlooked is on those little buttons we use everywhere. It’s easy to treat them as an afterthought. But after spending months brainstorming your campaign, you shouldn’t settle for a simple “read more” or “submit” button, because that’s not going to have the big impact you need.

Those little call to action buttons and links actually have a big job to do. They have to convince people to click through and take the next step.

Follow along with the checklist below so you don’t miss any crucial components.

Elements of a Call to Action That Works

1) Use actionable language

One of the reasons why people may not click your CTA is that it doesn’t really push people to act. If you use static messages like “free trial” or “demo”, you’re not telling them what to do. It’s all too easy for people to glaze over buttons like these.

Effective copy boils down to action-oriented, second-person verbs (talking to “you”). Try some of these verbs for your next CTA:

  • “Get more info”
  • “Discover”
  • “See full article”
  • “Tell me more”
  • “Get my (book, guide, template)”
  • “See what happens next”
  • “Count me in”

Buttons like these empower and excite readers to click on your button. Keeping your CTA copy short and sweet also helps make it stand out from the rest of your copy and design elements.

2) Avoid friction verbs

“Read more” is a pretty common call to action. We see it everywhere. Compared to buttons like “free trial”, you’d think it has a leg up. For starters, it’s a verb. Theoretically it should push people to act.

Not all CTAs work the same today.

Verbs like “read more” are friction verbs that cause uneasiness and apprehension with some people. They can easily turn them off by seemingly inconveniencing people who don’t have a lot of time to spare.

Friction verbs imply work that needs to be done, something lost, or time that needs to be given up in exchange for the click. The more you imply work with CTAs, the less likely you are to get a click. For people who are busy and don’t have a lot of time on their hands, friction verbs can actually discourage them from taking action.

Ultimately, you want your conversion path to be as easy and painless as possible.

3) Speak directly to your customers

The difference between average conversion rates and rockstar conversion rates is related to how well your messaging aligns with what your target audience needs.

Use your buyer personas to get a window into the motivations, behaviors, and goals of your ideal customer.

For example, if you know your customers don’t have time for heavy reading, instead of saying “read more” you can say “view more” or “discover what happens next”. These buttons highlight benefits and create intrigue, and at the same time downplay the reading that’s behind the click.

4) Make the actions clear

Too often we just put buttons on a page because we think they need to be there. If you plan your campaign ahead of time, you know what action you want people to take. What should they do once they read your copy? Is this some kind of offer, a new product, or something they can download? Maybe you just want them to click to the next page. Knowing what action you expect people to take will help frame the copy that leads up to your CTA so you can get the conversion.

5) Create copy that engages

Buttons are only going to get a click if your copy sparks action. When you’re creating button copy, you want to make it work in conjunction with your landing page or blog content to convince visitors to take the next step.

One way to do that is to avoid using any internal links in your copy so you can keep the focus on your button. Another thing that will help you create engaging copy is to understand where your target audience is in terms of purchasing. Are they new prospects just getting to know you, or are they middle of the funnel and researching trial options?

When it comes to button copy, pay attention to the small details. If your page is promoting a new guide, make sure you call it a guide in your button or link rather than an ebook or whitepaper. These details make a big difference because readers know exactly what they’re getting.

6) Create a sense of urgency

People are busy. While they’re browsing your website or blog, they’re also scheduling meetings, interacting with emails or taking calls. Anything they can put off until later has a good chance of being shelved.

The best way to keep them away from these distractions and focused on your button is to create some sense of urgency.

Help people to perceive your button as an urgent call that needs to be acted upon right now by adding words like “now” or “today”. This way you’ll remind them to do something right now, before their phone rings again.

7) Be clear with your value proposition

People need to know why they should take action at this specific moment. They could be skeptical or have questions. They may not know if they need to or if they’ve already seen something like this on another site.

Your job is to make your offer really unique and make the benefits of clicking on your button super clear. You want to assure them of the value you’re going to bring to them in exchange for the time and email.

If you’re offering a guide, give readers multiple reasons to download it. Talk about the benefits that people can expect. Will they save time? How about increase sales? Help them trust you by explaining what they will get and how they’ll be able to use it. It should be very clear what is going to happen when people click.

(NOTE: Getting clear with your value proposition is about getting clear on what your ideal customers really want around your brand. Check out my FREE Customer Avatar Worksheet to help you understand who you’re selling to.)

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

8) Make it stand out from the crowd

Don’t do what everyone else is doing with their buttons and links. Your readers will just glaze over generic and vague buttons like “download”, “click here”.

Give your button the best chance to convert by using personalized text that sets you apart and grabs their attention. Make them want to click that button.

You can add a personal touch by using “me”, “you” and “yours”. Instead of “download”, try “get my copy now”.

9) Use design to draw attention to the button

Another way to attract people’s attention is with the actual design of your button. The button should match your branding in terms of fonts and colors, but the way you put it together should clearly make it pop on the page.

One way to draw attention to it is by designating certain colors for buttons in your style guide, such as blue or gray. That way when your designer uses gray or blue throughout rest of the page they’ll know to use them only sparingly as accent colors.

Another thing to remember is that if you want people to click on your button, you have to make it look clickable. Use contrasting elements like borders, background, depth and dimension to make it look like an actual button you could press in real life. Really push the envelope so that visitors notice it.

10) Make sure your button is prominent

By prominent, I mean make it big, bold and easy to find. You want to make sure people notice it. Place it above the fold before people start to scroll will generally get you more clicks. But, on the other hand, placing it below the fold will give you a higher quality of leads from those clicks. So you have to test different placement to know where to place it

Wherever you decide to place it, make sure people can see it. What about putting it high up above the fold, and then repeating it further down the page? As people read on and become more and more convinced to take action, the ones who didn’t click on it the first time will be more likely to click on it if you repeat it.

The thing to remember here is that the more prominent your button is and the more times people see it, the more likely they are to click.

11) A/B Test Your Buttons

Don’t settle for the first button you create. This is your chance to get the click, so it pays to test a few out to discover the best performers. Keep trying different sizes, copy, designs, and placement until you find the magic combination that converts the best.

And don’t stop there. If even your best button performer is getting lots of low quality lead conversions, take a look at your landing page copy and make sure it’s speaking to the right customer. If both your landing page and button are high performers and getting clicks and conversions, but you still get few signups, you may need to create a stronger offer or update your overall value proposition.

(NOTE: Getting clear with your value proposition is about getting clear on what your ideal customers really want around your brand. Check out my FREE Customer Avatar Worksheet to help you understand who you’re selling to.)

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