We always appreciate when business owners give us the inside scoop on the behind-the-scenes of their business. Those income reports from big-time bloggers? We eat that stuff up. We admit it: we’re super nosy — and we love to learn.
Given that we love transparency, we figured you might, too — which is why we launched our monthly Behind-the-Scenes column. Instead of cramming information on our recent 100 Best Sites for Solopreneurs list into that post, we decided to dedicate a whole post to the secrets behind our recent launch — so you can learn alongside us (and we can reference it when it comes time next year!).
The end goal was two-fold: first, we wanted to provide an amazing resource for solopreneurs just starting out or looking for sites to help them level up in certain aspects of their biz — sites complementary to ours, from digital marketing to finance, and more. Second, in the spirit of true transparency, we’ve seen how effective bundled opt-ins and roundup posts can be to engaging others in sharing. By highlighting 100 different sites, we hoped most who were nominated would share the win with their audiences, thereby expanding our reach.
We’ll start off by saying one thing: we had no freaking idea how time-intensive building the list would be! #truth
That being said, we were delighted that we met both goals. Solopreneurs mentioned their excitement over having such a comprehensive resource at their fingertips and most of the people on the list were more than happy to share their accomplishment with their communities. So without further ado, let’s get into the behind-the-scenes.
Here’s how we made it work:
- We involved our community from the get-go by putting up a nomination form on the site and promoting it through an email to our list and on social media. We asked for their favorite solopreneur resources and why they liked the site.
- In the 11th hour, we realized that we needed a bit of external help to finish things off, so we turned to our members. For the nominations that were missing the why piece, we asked members to weigh in. It saved us tons of time and ensured a variety of unique insights and perspectives.
- We set several internal deadlines, but other projects kept taking precedence. We eventually knocked things out with several long, live Google Hangouts sessions (complete with wine, popcorn, and perhaps a few too many Reese’s Cups — just kidding, never enough).
Here’s what we learned:
- When in doubt, get on a Hangout. Don’t have a business partner? We host both general and themed coworking sessions for our One Woman Shop members, as well as a monthly accountability group for our Espresso Level members. Live Hangouts helped us to get out of our own heads, talk stuff out, and get back to action.
- Google Docs = a life savior. Okay, we more re-realized this than learned it, but WOW — thank you, Google Gods, for all that you do! If you’re not a Google Doc user yet, finish reading this post then make it a priority.
- Categorization is tough. We felt strongly that The List should be divided into categories, because a list of 100 of anything is overwhelming. But — we found it tough to create fitting categories and then categorize each site accordingly. We chalk this up to the fact that many solo business owners dabble in a variety of different services and products.
- Coming up with unique descriptions is tough. While every site is certainly different, our vocabulary only expands so far when we’re time-strapped and tired. In later editing rounds, we had to remove “cute” and “spot-on” from many a-description 🙂
Despite the challenge of compiling The List, the result was well, well worth it. One word to sum up feedback and outcomes? Stellar. Here’s what we saw:
A ton of people mentioning the list, including:
- Start Your Week Right- Sunday Links and Goals via Jess Lawlor
- Sunday Link Love: Best Sites for Solopreneurs + Buying Self-Confidence via Danielle Zeigler
- Must-Reads for Creatives 5-2-15 via Julie Fiandt
- Blog <3: Links to Check Out via Marilyn Perez
- Around the Web: April 2015 via Kali Hawlk (check out that sexy badge in her sidebar, too)
- Weekly Resources — 5.1.15 via Kirsten
- The 100 Best Websites for Solopreneurs via Shannon Mattern
- Nurture Your Life & Biz via Clara Jones
- Weekly Coffee Break: 5.13.15 via Callie Gisler
(If you included the 100 Best Sites for Solopreneurs in a post on your site, let us know and we’ll include a link above!)
The most traffic in one day that we’ve ever had on the site:
These kind words + awesome reactions (and names in our inboxes that made us nerd out):
What surprised us + where we made mistakes (oops):
- Surprising: Facebook was far and away the biggest driver of traffic for the post. We credit this to the fact that we invited (read: asked) all winners to share our Facebook post about The List.
- Surprising: There are a TON of sites not on our radar. We were so thankful for the plethora of nominations that alerted us to new sites + resources!
- Oops: We forgot to include the hashtag #100BestSites, so we had to do some last-minute edits.
What we did right:
- We made it easy for all of the site winners to share about their wins by providing them with pre-drafted social media content, as well as a handy dandy badge (making things easy for those you collaborate with is something we talk about a lot in our new Building Your Online Community e-course)
- Instead of sending a mass email to all of the winners, we sent personalized emails (which we think contributed to the fact that the engagement from those on the list was so high)
- We created individualized recurring tweets in Edgar mentioning the Twitter handles of each winner (so that they can easily retweet and spread the word to their respective audiences)
What we still need to do:
We love the idea of repurposing content into more than one form to make the most of it. And given how much time we put in, we plan to milk this baby for all it’s worth! Here are some ideas we’ve had (more to come, we’re sure):
- Create a YouTube video announcing the winners
- Turn the list into a Slideshare
What we’ll do next year:
Our hunch is that next year’s list will be a million times easier to create, given that we have a previous example to refer to, we know how to #getitdone, and people might know the list a bit more and want to be on it. Here’s what we plan to do to ease our workload:
- Email all previous list winners to ask for their nominations and self-nominations
- Email all those who commented on the post on our site
- Email all previous nominators
- Encourage people to write more unique, specific descriptions, beyond “great tips!” or “fantastic resource!”
Even still, we’re sure there will be surprises in store for us next year, as well! (And we can’t wait.)