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3 Time-Saving WordPress Plugins

WordPress has always been my top choice when it comes to blogging. I love to be able to customize my blog to look however I want and have complete control over everything. I also love the variety of features and options that WordPress has, especially with their vast amount of plugins.

Some of my favorite plugins are ones that make my blogging life easier and even increase my productivity. So today, I thought I’d share my top three plugins that save me quite a bit of time and help me get more done!

Broken Link Checker

No one has time to go through every post and page on their blog to verify that all of the links are still accurate. In addition, no one wants a reader to come across a post from a few years ago, try to click through the various links or videos within the post, and find out that none of them exist anymore- not to mention that these missing links are bad for SEO. Broken Link Checker solves both problems! Once the plugin is installed, it searches for missing images and broken links on a regular basis. Once it finds them, it notifies you that there’s an issue in the dashboard and you’re able to edit it. Really easy, really valuable.

Editorial Calendar

Unfortunately, WordPress doesn’t provide an easy-to-use overview of your posts that allows you to see what’s coming up in the next few weeks or months. But the Editorial Calendar plugin does! Not only can you see when posts are scheduled to post (along with drafts and pending posts) within a monthly calendar overview, but you can also drag and drop posts if you’d like to change their posting date. Want to change the time, title, or tags? You can do that right in the calendar grid with the Quick Edit feature. Whether you have a co-authored blog or a single author blog, this simple plugin is a must for anyone who posts regularly.

Duplicate Post

If you post regular features (think: link roundupsinterviews, or a blog series), Duplicate Post is a must-have plugin. It allows you to clone a post or a page and keeps all of the information within it, including tags and categories. You can also set the options to copy only certain aspects of the post or page, too. It’s a huge time-saver if you have regular features on your blog.

What plugins would you recommend for increasing productivity?

5 Plugins to Boost Your WordPress Comment Section

You’re blogging for your business, just like everyone says you should.  You’re putting out this great content, but somehow you feel like it’s not drumming up the kind of connection that you hoped it would.  What’s missing?

If you’re leaving your comment section totally unattended, you might be missing out on valuable community building through discussions on your site. Being active in your own comment section usually helps, but there are also a few plugins that can help grow your community and help things run smoothly once those comments start rolling in.

1. Comment Reply Notification: If you’re going to take the time to respond to comments in your comment section, you want people to be able to see it!  This plugin automatically emails commenters to tell them when their comment is replied to.  This is much better than a system where you have to opt in to get emails for all comments.

2. Add New Default Avatar: This is just a fun little thing to make your comment section prettier.  Ideally, all commenters would have their avatar set up with Gravatar (and if you don’t, DO IT! I wrote about why it’s important here) but for those that don’t, it’s nice to have something branded to match your site as opposed to that boring mystery man.

3. CommentLuv: I don’t use this personally, but this shows a link to a commenter’s latest blog post underneath their comment, which encourages your community to check out other readers’ sites- and encourages them to comment, because they know their own blog will get some publicity. Pretty cool!

4. Akismet: Nobody likes spam.  Akismet is the most popular spam plugin, and I’ve had good luck with it. Some bloggers use and like FV Antispam if Akismet isn’t cutting it for some reason.

5. Recent Comments widget: Okay, this isn’t a plugin.  But by using this simple built-in widget in your sidebar, you can help generate discussion by drawing readers’ attention to the posts that are currently attracting the most comments on your site.

Last but not least, my favorite tip for generating comments on your posts is to directly ask your readers a question at the end of your post.  A lot of times readers want to give you feedback and connect, and by asking a question you’re giving them something specific to talk about.

What is your favorite plugin for managing your comments section? (See what I did there?)

5 Ways to Make More Money Using On-Brand Affiliate Marketing

You have a creative business, which means, most days, you feel like you’re on top of the world. You can work when you want to, with whom you choose, and take vacations on a whim because hey, you are boss like that, right?

Unless, of course, you’re not feeling confident with your income. That changes things a bit.

As glamorous as being a solopreneur seems, we all know that working with clients can often times be unpredictable and stressful.

The feast-or-famine mindset is real, and can leave you convinced that searching job boards may be a better choice than trying to keep at this ‘“own-my-own-business” thing. We get these feelings in months where we have way less clients, our course sales dip or our Creative Market income has been dryer than Schweppes ginger ale.

Yet many service-based businesses are leaving a ton of money on the table, solely focusing on services, courses and product creation that they ignore affiliate marketing and how it can complement their small biz income.

But wait, affiliate marketing is dead…right?

You probably already know what affiliate marketing is (if you’re shaking your head no, start here), and may have even explored it a bit and earned a couple of bucks.

But, I’m seeing two things:

1 – Some solopreneurs I’ve spoke with tell me the earnings don’t amount to enough to spend their time on it.

2 – Other say that affiliate marketing is dead.

Oh contraire!

Neither of these could be further from the truth. Think about all of the products and services you use every single day while running your business. Now, consider all of the frequent purchases and investments (the online courses, ebooks, business tools). And how about that one “thing” you always recommend for every single one of your clients to help them get from ABC to XYZ?

If you do the math, you’ll probably feel a bit queasy at how much money you could have been making, just by simply adding an affiliate link to the products and services you love and trust to people who already love and trust you.

#facepalm

Where to start with affiliate marketing

The next greatest hesitation I hear is that people simply don’t know where to start without feeling like a car salesman. Fret not; there are so many great ways to not be cheesy OR greasy.

Without further ado, here are five authentic ways to add a bit of padding to your service-based business by using on-brand affiliate marketing…minus the ick factor.

1. Create a resources page

A resources, or tools, page is an effective way to help your visitors help themselves to the tools, courses and services you rely on to run your business. Get creative by adding images and banners, or simply use shortcodes and columns to create categories and embed your affiliate link into each resource.

Link to your resources page from your blog posts, include it in your email footers, and write social posts highlighting each resource on the page.

2. Make recommendations to your clients

You may be a web designer, virtual assistant or accountant who’s always getting asked what you recommend for solving your clients’ problems. You may also have certain things your client must purchase before you can start working with them (such as a theme or hosting, if you are a web designer).

When you onboard your clients, include a list of your favorite tools with your affiliate links in your welcome packet. Alternatively, if you send your clients a goodbye package, include a list of resources that will be helpful on an ongoing basis.

More than anything, they will appreciate that they can trust your recommendations and that they aren’t stuck having to Google for answers.

3. Build affiliate mentions into your editorial calendar

If you have a blog that complements your business, I imagine you are already sharing high-quality posts that position you as an expert in your niche, so why not turn these posts into money-generating machines?

Some of my best performing blog posts that have affiliate links are resource roundups and tutorials on how to do something that others often struggle with. Review posts of products you have tried and compared are also a good way to introduce your audience to amazing assets while helping you earn more money.

Pro tip: Content is key, but don’t ignore your images. Include high quality, pinnable images for people to share. Add keyword-rich descriptions in your images’ alt text if you want to tap into Pinterest for referral traffic.

4. Complement your newsletters

Dedicated emails about products you love can make you feel like you’re always trying to sell your audience something.

To avoid that, try sharing your experience with them. For example, if you took a totally ah-mazing course that skyrocketed your website traffic and you’re now an affiliate of, share the story of how your stats increased.

You can also write your newsletter content as usual and include links to some of your most recent affiliate-rich posts. Likewise, if you know your affiliates are having a sale and you genuinely don’t want your peeps to miss out, use a PS note at the bottom of the newsletter or within the content itself if it’s relevant.

An example: If you’re writing to your audience about how they can choose the best theme for their business and you happen to know that Bluchic* is having a sale, share it. Don’t be random. Weave it naturally into what your readers know you for.

5. Enhance your infoproducts

You may already have some great infoproducts (ebooks; worksheets; email courses) in place that help you grow your list or populate your shop. What if I told you that there is a way to monetize your free goodies and help you earn more with your paid offerings? Hold the phone, sista!

With on-brand affiliate marketing, it’s totally possible. When crafting your offering, you’re likely linking to tools and resources that are helpful for those who are downloading or signing up for your product.

By using affiliate links, you can make more money while continuing to deliver your high-quality content for free or increase your earnings with your paid products. For example, I have an email course that helps new bloggers or businesses set up their very first blog on WordPress. Even though it took a ton of hours and energy, I was able to justify giving it away for free because there were so many opportunities to earn money from the free course by mentioning amazing affiliates for WordPress hosting, themes, styled-stock memberships, and more.

But FIRST, here’s what else you need to know about doing affiliate marketing right

When adding a slew of affiliate links to your site, you can consider adding “no follow” links in place so that you aren’t oops-ed by Google (though there is a debate on whether it’s necessary or not). You also want to make your links cleaner with a plugin like Pretty Link Lite, or bit.ly.

Most importantly, and I can’t stress this enough: DO IT LEGALLY. (Caps + bold, necessary.)

You have to have disclaimers on your site that let your visitors know that they may be clicking on affiliate links. You have to share in your newsletter that links are indeed, affiliate links. You have to give a heads up about affiliate links even if you are just recommending a product to someone in a Facebook Group. Recommending something to a client? Gently let them know that they are clicking on an affiliate link.

When in doubt, remember this: Any time you drop a link, drop a hint!

Your turn

Evaluate your current affiliate strategy and choose one of these methods to start or improve upon today. Need more of a nudge? Sign up for Affiliate Crush, my free, 5-day email course that helps you get started in choosing the right affiliates and helps you create a strategy, track your earnings and lots more.

*Some of the links contained in this post are affiliate links. (See what we did there?) As always, we only promote products and services we trust and believe in.

Shop Talk: Looking Past Your Own Biases

d: biases

d: biases

Here’s an important lesson that we seem to learn and relearn here at One Woman Shop: Just because we don’t behave in a certain way doesn’t mean others don’t.

(Did that sentence confuse you? Us too. Keep reading, it gets better.)

We’ve been working hard to run Facebook Ads more strategically lately — which means running multiple versions of each ad to see which performs best. (This could mean mixing up the graphic, the copy, or the audience — but only one at a time in order to have a control. Hello, #highschoolscience.)

We started by testing three different graphics for our Road to Solopreneur Success ebook. One explained what the ebook is, one used the term “free ebook,” and one said “free download.”

biases

biases

biases

 

This test stood out to us for a reason: We were both hesitant to include the word “free” on the graphics, because those aren’t the kinds of ads we tend to click on ourselves.

Of course, that’s why we experiment: The two ads with “free” on them far outperformed the other one.

Lightbulb moment: We never would have known this if we had only acted in accordance with our own biases. The lesson here? Just because you behave one way as a consumer doesn’t mean all other consumers behave the same way.

Case in point:

  • Just because we might not use the “Pin it” buttons on websites we hang out on doesn’t mean we shouldn’t install a Pinterest plugin and then optimize our images for maximum pinning — because other people do use these buttons.
  • Just because we might not follow brands on Instagram doesn’t mean others don’t — so we should consider actively updating our Instagram account and mentioning our latest product and service launches.
  • Just because we might not watch videos doesn’t mean others don’t love them. So we might host regular shows for those in our community who do love video.

We have found that this trap is especially tricky when you’re in the target market that you’re serving — it’s easy to feel like you speak for your whole audience, but often you don’t.

As usual, a caveat: We’re not encouraging you to do anything that you feel uneasy or icky about. If you have a strong opposition to something, go with your gut. But if you have a sneaking suspicion that your personal preferences may be hindering your potential reach, it might be time to think outside of that box.

Do some market research. Ask your solopreneur friends about their experiences. Heck, ask your community what they like and dislike. Go forth, friend, and get creative.

Your Editorial Calendar on Display: 5 Ways to Visualize Your Content

editorial calendar

editorial calendar

It happens to the best of us. We’re going through our day, when a great idea for a blog post pops into our head. And that’s when we tell ourselves the biggest fib of our blogging careers…“I’ll remember that later.”

Ladies, don’t do it.

Write down all of your magical ideas in a notebook as soon as you think of them, whether it’s a physical notebook, a bullet journal, or something digital like Evernote.

Even better than getting them in a notebook? Putting them down directly in your editorial calendar. When you assign a date for your idea (even if you change it later), it suddenly takes on a whole new level of importance. It becomes less of a scrawled thought, and more like you’re writing an article for your very own magazine.

But what to use for an editorial calendar? Like anything else in life, this is a super personal decision. Ask a dozen bloggers, and you could get a dozen answers…it’ll vary by personality, work style, and a million other variables. But just to kickstart your thoughts, I’ll go over some of the ones I’ve tried:

1. Simple notebook

I’ve done this by just assigning a notebook page for each month, and writing 1, 2, 3, 4…or however many posts I wanted to do that month. You can use fun notebooks from makers like Erin Condren and May Designs, or hit up the $1 section at your local office supply store to get a basic pad.

2. Post-It calendar

You can buy this from several places, but I picked mine up at Target. There are a few limitations: each page is only for a week, and there are less than 52 pages, but it’ll get you a decent way. And because each page is for a week, the squares are a great size for writing in. Plus, you can easily rearrange the Post-It notes.

3. Door full of Post-Its

Speaking of easy rearranging, in the early brainstorming phases, I have been known to paper the back of my door with all of my ideas on Post-Its. I’m a visual person, so it makes it easy to look at all of my ideas in just a few moments, and figure out which one is really grabbing me.

4. Year-at-a-glance calendar

I know I’m on a Post-It kick, but really this works quite well with the smaller Post-Its. You can scribble down an idea, slap it on the calendar and rearrange it to suit your needs. It makes it easy to to figure out where your posts need to fit in coordination with holidays, launches, and other major events in your business.

5. WordPress plugin

Tada! This one has nothing to do with Post-Its at all. And, it’s digital! There’s a WordPress plugin that’s simply called “Editorial Calendar.” It lets you create draft posts and schedule them out, so you can see what you’ve got coming up that you’ve finished writing, or still need to work on. They even set it up to enable you to drag and drop the posts, so if you realize that something is trending, or you accept an interview, you can easily reschedule one of your upcoming posts by scooting it to a different date. Cool, huh?

Of course these aren’t the only options, and some people use a combination of these and/or other methods. But with a plethora of easy options, there’s no excuse for not getting started.

Tell us: What’s your favorite way of organizing your editorial calendar?

So You Wanna Be A…Web Designer/Developer

So You Wanna Be A Web Designer or Developer via One Woman Shop

SoYouWannaBeA_WebDesignerDeveloper -- blog

You’re ready to start your solo business — you’re craving the freedom, the versatility, and the chance to put your passion into play — but you’re not quite sure where to start. You’ve come to the right place. In our So You Wanna Be a… series, we highlight entrepreneurs who’ve built successful businesses doing what they love.

This month, we’re chatting with four web designers + developers — Sarah Eggers, Aleia Walker, Alison Monday of tiny blue orange, and Melanie Karlik of A Prettier Web — to get their inside advice on how they got their web design + development careers started.

(Editor’s note: The terms designer + developer are sometimes used interchangeably. The women interviewed here each have their own specialties, which you’ll notice in their responses. For a breakdown of the differences between designers and developers, check out this post.)

So you wanna be a web designer/developer? Here’s what you need to know…

Tell us exactly what a person in your role does.

Sarah: A freelance web designer helps people accomplish amazing things. No really, we do! There are thousands of people out there with life-changing ideas, but they stop and give up when they shudder at the idea of creating a website. Web designers are here to eliminate that website-building barrier and help people use their saved time to focus on their strengths.

Aleia: I am a freelance Web Developer who focuses on Front End Development. As a Front End Developer, I build the parts of the website that you can see. I also have a design background so I frequently handle projects from design to development. That includes figuring out how a site can have maximum impact for the client.

Alison: I’m a WordPress developer, so that means I create custom themes for WordPress based on designs that my clients have from working with a designer. I also input site content (blog posts, pages, etc.), run site updates, and do on-going maintenance/tweaks. Long story short, I spend all day being super nerdy with code + servers.

Mel: I help women tackle WordPress! I spend about 70% of my time with content creation — I test out plugins, write blog posts, create videos, create visuals collateral, PDFs — anything to share information that I think will be helpful for bloggers and online business owners. I have two WordPress themes that I sell right now.

How did you get your start? What are other ways someone else can get started?

Sarah: I got my start back in 2014 when I enrolled in a Skillcrush Blueprint for web design. I took the leap and paid for my first ever course, and I was totally blown away just a week in. It was super easy to learn, and my classmates and instructors were amazing. I highly recommend to someone starting out to take a high-level, paid course like Skillcrush. Before then, I just played around with free courses and never really learned much before my interest faded.

Aleia: I got started by taking a Web Designer course with Skillcrush. It was an intro course that catapulted my love for all things design and development. I definitely suggest taking a structured course to get your feet wet and determine if development is your path and what part of development you like.

Alison: I started out as a designer but loved bringing my own designs to life by coding them. All of my designer friends thought I was crazy because they hated coding + felt completely limited by it. The more I started helping them, the more I realized that I was happiest coding themes that others had designed.

Mel: I was working as a software programmer when I started my first WordPress blog, back around 2002! I really wanted to learn how to “tweak” the look and feel of my site so I taught myself HTML & CSS with whatever resources I could find online. Then, I took a part-time degree in Graphic Design from a local college. I’d spend some money and invest in a good course.

Is there a certain kind of person that would thrive in your role?

Sarah: You’ll thrive if you 1) love to create things and can get in the flow and 2) can communicate well with people. I know a lot of web designers who love to create and get in the flow but have a hellish time communicating. You can be the best web designer in the world, but if you can’t make your client happy and translate their words into design, then you’re actually the worst web designer.

Aleia: A person who loves learning would do very well as a developer. There are always new technologies and tools. The learning never stops.

Alison: You certainly need a little bit of love for the nerdy things in life. I spend a good chunk of my day working with HTML, CSS, PHP + JavaScript/jQuery. I also work on server settings for clients because they don’t want to touch their hosting account with a 10-foot pole. It helps to understand a bit about design so that you can communicate with the designer and understand why they did some of the things they did.

Mel: People who are creative would thrive doing design work. As for the tech side, I think it requires some persistence, resourcefulness and enthusiasm. It’s easy to tell right away if tech is going to frustrate you or motivate you.

What do people need before they can get started in your industry?

Alison: If you have a way to write code, technically you can get started. I don’t think it’s necessarily required, but I’m happy as heck that I have business insurance, a legal business entity + a lawyer that I can send questions to. I’d suggest making sure you have a solid agreement/contract template to protect both you + your clients. Aside from that, you’ll typically need Adobe CC or Photoshop as most designers work in that.

Mel: Making WordPress websites doesn’t require any special degree. There is ample resources available for you online. Then, start doing it! Make some websites and build up a portfolio of great work. If you’re interested in creating apps, plugins or any kind of programming beyond HTML, CSS and Javascript then a degree could be of benefit. Again, you can learn a lot from online courses but if you are looking to work for a Google, Amazon or Uber then they often ask for a degree.

How do you currently seek out clients or customers? What are some ways you’ve considered seeking out clients or customers that you haven’t tried yet?

Sarah: The traditional way to attract clients is to seek them out on job boards, whether through Upwork, Craigslist, or other markets. The non-traditional way to attract clients is to join Twitter chats and Facebook groups of your target audience. Someone in a group is going to be asking for web design advice and you can swoop in to save the day—and impress the rest of the group!

Aleia: I currently use word of mouth, but I’d like to step it up and make more effort in marketing my services. I am looking into building an email list and ramping up my blog game by providing useful content to prospective customers.

Alison: Because of how long I’ve been doing this, most of my customers come via word of mouth or by clicking my site credit link at the bottom of a site I built. In the past, I’ve done a lot of sharing/helping in Facebook groups. I also reached out to mentors who in turn would send work my way that was a good fit for me but maybe too low of a budget or not complex enough for them.

Mel: Everyone that has purchased my themes has either found me through my website, social media or on Creative Market.

How do you normally work with clients or customers?

Sarah: I work with clients 1-on-1 in-person or through video chats. I strongly believe in spending important decision-making time face-to-face. What a client says to you in-person vs what they may say they want their website to do in an email can sometimes be two different things.

Aleia: I generally start and end client engagements with 1-on-1, in-person contact when available, especially when working with non-tech clients (i.e. small business owners). During the project, all of the communication is online — Google Hangouts and emails galore. When our lines get crossed, I will hop on an impromptu phone call or Hangout to get us back on track.

Alison: I typically work with clients online in a 1-on-1 or small group setting. There are times where I work directly with the designer and don’t interact with the client much at all, but I’m happiest when the designer, final client, and I are a small team. That way questions are directed to the right person.

How did you decide how to set your pricing when you were starting out?

Sarah: Pricing is a mystery to early career freelance web designers. We sort of shake the eight ball of arbitrary pricing. After a while, we then start to research the market and get a better understanding of our work quality, how price affects what type of clients we get, how it all fits into our finances, and the going rate in our area.

Aleia: I played around a lot. I didn’t want to under or overcharge and ended up doing a lot of free jobs before I eventually started charging. While learning I preferred to charge flat fees instead of hourly rates to take into consideration the time that I would spend looking things up that a more seasoned developer would already have a grip on.

Alison: I used the AIGA survey on industry pricing based on my area to set my base hourly rate. As I did more and more projects, I tracked my time and figured out approximately how many hours I spent on each site build. From there, I created a flat fee so that I benefit from being faster and clients know exactly what to expect on their invoice.

What is an industry-specific tool that you couldn’t live without?

Sarah: Inspect element. (Click that link to get a preview lesson from my course that describes how to use it.) Looking at what’s behind the website and making live changes is amazing.

Aleia: Git [a version control system] & GitHub [online project hosting]. I love being able to keep track of and share my code without needing to keep hundreds of versions of a project on my desktop.

Alison: I know everyone has a preference, but I can’t imagine coding outside of espresso. It’s my absolute favorite software for writing code.

Mel: Photoshop, Sublime Text [a text editor] and WordPress (of course).

What are some great resources for people looking to learn more about your industry?

Aleia: Twitter is a great catch-all for information, especially if you follow the right accounts. It’s an awesome place to learn of new tools, tips, and products. There are also a few great resources to stay current on all things development: A List Apart and its counterpart A Book Apart, Webdesigner Depot, and of course the Skillcrush blog!

Alison: Codecademy is a great website for learning code. I got my most “hands-on” learning by taking existing WordPress themes (especially the ones made by WP) and making changes to them. Create your own child theme (‘cause that’s a great first lesson too!) and then start changing things. You can learn a lot by breaking and changing something that’s already built. I also love Codrops for tutorials, CSS-Tricks for ways to rock CSS, and Google for searching for specific tutorials + problems.

Mel: Look for courses from Codecademy, Udemy, and Treehouse.

What is something that someone getting started in your type of business would be surprised to hear?

Sarah: The #1 thing brand new freelancers are surprised to hear is that their pricing dictates the kind of clients they receive. If you have cheap pricing, then you’re more likely to have someone who tries to barter with you, or give you major scope creep. If you have high quality work and high prices, you’ll mostly get people who are extremely appreciative of your time.

Alison: I’m still surprised by the fact that simply replying to emails sets me lightyears apart from others in this industry. “My developer fell off the face of the earth” is something I hear every single week, without fail. Life/things happen, but to me it’s about being respectful to those that are paying you.

Mel: You don’t need a degree to make websites – you can learn it all online!

This post contains affiliate links for resources mentioned by those we interviewed. Anything you purchase may net us a bit of money, which helps us further our mission of supporting One Woman Shops across the world. Thank you!

How to Make Long-Distance (Business) Relationships Work

How to Make Long-Distance (Business) Relationships Work

How to Make Long-Distance (Business) Relationships Work

Ahhh, long distance relationships.

They start out so full of hope and enthusiasm – but all that sizzle can quickly fizzle.

The phone calls become texts, the texts become emails…and before you know it, your communication has been reduced to a “Happy Birthday” one-liner on your Facebook wall once a year.

That’s because long distance relationships — personal and professional — take work.

But cultivating and nurturing a network of clients, peers, mentors, media contacts and other influencers that you can take with you anywhere is well worth the effort.

If you and your business are hitting the road, here are some ideas for keeping your long distance relationships fresh and fun.

Set up video call dates

It’s Friday, the sun is setting on your oh-so-dreamy destination, and there’s a Pink Starburst cocktail with your name on it. Why not take it international by inviting an online friend to join you via video call?

An after-work drink or coffee date over Skype or FaceTime is the ultimate way to connect with someone new or touch base with an old friend from a distance. Yes, video calls do require a little more effort than email or social media (getting out of your pajamas, for one), but they’re as close to an in-person meetup as you can get when that’s just not possible.

Tech Tip: Arrange your video calls using a free scheduling tool such as Acuity or Calendly to avoid time zone confusion.

Bust a cheerleading move

No matter where you’re from, chances are you’ve watched enough American teen movies to know that if you want to Bring It On, you need to pack the pompoms. (Stick with me here.) Cheering on your tribe from afar is one of the most effective ways to deepen your connection with them – and best of all, it’s easy to do.

A fellow coach has a new podcast interview or guest post coming out? Leave a comment to let them know you were listening/reading and which parts you enjoyed the most. Your mentor is launching a new program? Pop the virtual champagne by sharing their offering on social media. A friend in one of your Facebook groups is feeling nervous about a big speaking gig? Pump her up with positivity or send her something funny to loosen those pre-speech nerves.

Tech Tip: Use online monitoring tools such as Hootsuite Streams, Mention or Google Alerts to listen for conversations about specific contacts and keywords.

Treat social media like a cocktail party

Instead of social media networking feeling like another task on your to-do list, imagine you’re attending a cocktail party, champagne glass in hand, mixing and mingling with a room full of lovely new people. (Just don’t stay out too late if you’ve got work to do…) This is your opportunity to be a charming conversationalist — generously sharing your own expertise and insights, making introductions, and endorsing the skills of people you’ve worked with.

Groups on Facebook and LinkedIn that attract the people you’d like to meet (clients, influencers, peers) and have the right vibe for you (structured vs. organic, assertive vs. nurturing, etc.) are a great place to start making new friends online — especially if you’re feeling a little isolated on the road. For a more real-time experience, join Twitter chats or Facebook Live events. (Editor’s note: Find relevant chats on the One Woman Shop calendar!)

Tech Tip: Add the Rapportive plugin to Gmail to get LinkedIn profiles right inside your inbox — a great memory-jogger for details about new connections who email you!

Keep your “wolf pack” in the loop

With most community-building advice focused on being generous and adding value, it’s easy to forget relationships are a two-way street and that you can, and should, share what you’ve got going on in your own business. People who know, like, and trust you will genuinely want to support you (because that’s what friends do), so give them the opportunity to help.

Being Boss founders, Emily Thompson and Kathleen Shannon, explain how to email your “wolf pack” – a close group of peers, clients, mastermind friends and mentors – prior to launching a new offering in episode #63 of their podcast (around minute 28). Your wolf pack email simply explains what you’re up to, politely invites recipients to share the details (if they wish), and includes a swipe file of share messaging and graphics to make it super quick and easy. (See how to create an epic swipe file here.)

Tech Tip: Create a Google Drive or Dropbox folder for launch images and messaging to share with your “wolf pack.”

Long distance doesn’t have to mean long gone

The beauty of our online businesses is that we can take them anywhere — and when you cultivate relationships that can stand the test of time, you better believe they’ll follow you anywhere, as well.

Digital nomad and location independence resources

Tools We Love: PopupAlly

Tools We Love: PopupAlly

Tools We Love: PopupAlly from Nathalie Lussier

Welcome to Tools We Love, where we highlight some of the tools that make us more efficient, productive, and effective in our businesses. Have a tool that you want to share with the community? Email us! Today’s tool we love: PopupAlly!

Which email marketing platform to choose. The best social media platform for business owners. Which planner to use at the beginning of each year. And…whether or not to use a pop-up. These are just a few of the things that cause great debate amongst solo business owners around the world. (And…the types of things that make us think, “You know you’re a solopreneur when…”)

Installing a pop-up has dramatically increased our conversion rate for email sign ups. Want proof? As we mention in Building Your Online Community, we credit the combination of a pop-up (installed 5/19/2014) and our opt-in freebie (promoted 6/1/2014) with this little increase in our subscribers:

email list growth chart with popupally

And given that our email list is one of our top sources of sales, collaborations, and more, we’ve found it to be worth the risk of potentially irritating a minor subset of our website visitors in order to best serve our community.

Our weapon of choice? PopupAlly from Nathalie Lussier (who you might recognize from 100 Best Sites for Solopreneurs) and her husband, Robin, who together make up the AmbitionAlly team.

Some of our favorite things about PopupAlly

  • The free version is extremely robust, but there’s a paid upgrade if you need more
  • You can choose between an exit-intent pop-up (it triggers when a website visitor is about to leave the site) and a time delayed pop-up
  • It syncs with popular email marketing platforms, like Mailchimp, Aweber, and yes, ConvertKit
  • It’s super easy to customize the look of your pop-up so that it reflects your brand
  • You can create two pop-ups with the free version, which means you can have both an overall pop-up, as well as a targeted one (we did this on our 100 Best Sites for Solopreneurs page to increase downloads of our Road to Solopreneur Success ebook)
  • You can split test two different pop-ups to track conversion rate (only with the pro version)
  • The AmbitionAlly website is chockful of best practices for pop-ups. In fact, we would wager a bet that you can find the answer to any question you have about PopUpAlly or pop-ups

Limitations + drawbacks

To be honest? As of right now, we can’t think of any limitations of PopupAlly, so we’ll just say this: The biggest “problem” is that we can’t do absolutely everything we’d like to do with the free version. But, as fellow business owners, we really can’t complain about a company providing an awesome free version and then trying to upsell to a paid version. More power to ‘em for roping us in so effectively and making us loyal fans!

How to get started with PopupAlly

Even for those self-proclaimed “tech-illiterate” solopreneurs, we can pretty much guarantee that you’ll be up and running with a pop up in no time when you use PopupAlly pro. (We can say this, because we might just be those people…)

PS — In case you were wondering, we also like to riff on our favorite email marketing apps, social media platforms, and planners.

PPS — A popup is just one of the tools we use to build our online community. Want more tried-and-true methods? Click below.

Building Your Online Community

Just a head’s up: As you might’ve guessed, we are affiliates of PopupAlly — we promote the platform because we love it!

OWS Experiments: Learning to Code with Skillcrush Blueprints (Part II)

One Woman Shop Experiments: Learning to Code with Skillcrush, Part II

One Woman Shop Experiments: Learning to Code with Skillcrush, Part II

Welcome to One Woman Experiments, where daring business women experiment with different parts of their business in order to find best practices. We hope these experiments help improve your business and inspire you to test-drive new strategies. Have an experiment you want to test out and document? Check out our ideas and guidelines!

This experiment in web design + business building is currently being embarked upon by OWS community member Ashley Rustad, who is on her second Skillcrush Blueprint and is kindly documenting the process for us here! Take it away, Ashley.


(Editor’s note: Last month, Ashley broke down how a Skillcrush Blueprint works for us as she was completing the Web Designer Blueprint. Now, she’s on to the Freelancer WordPress Developer Blueprint, and is letting us following along!)

April was all about transitioning from the Web Designer Blueprint I completed during the winter and beginning the Freelance WordPress Developer Blueprint. The first class? Introduction to WordPress. This class is the primer on all things WordPress: It teaches the history of WordPress, how to install it, the WordPress Admin (which includes Posts, Pages, Setting, Widgets, Themes, and Plugins), Introduction to PHP, the WordPress loop, debugging, creating a homepage, QA, launching WordPress, and security.

Also, throughout the course there are “career sections” which include revamping your resume, using Adobe Photoshop, using social media to get hired, and writing cover letters. Needless to say, there is a ton of stuff packed into this first month of the three-month Blueprint. Below, I’m sharing my takeaways, as well as who this class might be a good fit for (and who it might not be).

Freelance WordPress Developer Blueprint: Takeaways

I have one overall takeaway that I should share first: This class is the primer for the rest of the Blueprint. That being said, if you already know certain aspects of WordPress, some sections may be more of a review for you than others. That was the case for me.

Takeaway #1 – If you know the WordPress Admin, be prepared for review. If you know nothing about WordPress, there is a big learning curve, but everything is explained very well.

By “knowing” the WordPress backend, I mean you can create a post and page, you know what all the settings are and what they do, you know how to create and organize widgets in the sidebar and footer, you can create menus for the navigation bar, and you can download and install themes and plugins. If that’s all in your wheelhouse, those parts will be a refresher, which was the case for me. But…that’s all I knew.

Takeaway #2 – The bigger learning curve comes with an introduction of PHP. (Already know PHP? This may be a review for you, too, but can be a really good refresher.)

I didn’t know any PHP, which is the programing language that WordPress uses. (It’s amazing.) The Blueprint taught the sections by recording Adda write PHP, having us then copy her on our computer. (It sounds much easier than it is because if you miss one character, it won’t work.) Since this was all new to me, I had to go back and watch a few sections over again to see what I missed. I was never worried about not being able to figure it out — Skillcrush also provides the written out pieces of code to compare against, so I could easily see where I may have gone wrong. Truth: It could be frustrating at times, but when I got it right on the first time, it felt amazing! There was no better thought than, “I’m actually getting this.”

Takeaway #3 – The videos are well done, but be prepared to pause, rewind, and rewatch when it comes to the actual PHP programming.

One thing I didn’t like about the PHP videos is that they went too fast for a beginner like me. Adda is a pro-programmer, so her mind works quickly, sometimes making it hard to keep up with her. Having the video at my fingertips to watch at my own pace meant rewinding to go back and see exactly what she typed. And when all else failed and I couldn’t quite figure it out, the Blueprint provides the actual code to install if I just wanted to move on. Patience is key in learning code.

Takeaway #4 – It’s not just about learning to code; it’s about learning how to apply it as a career.

The program is broken up into weeks and days. There’s homework each weekday for three weeks, then the fourth week is filled with what Skillcrush calls “Career Content.” These weeks have information-packed webinars about the career side of becoming a web developer.

There are three Career Content sections: revamp your resume, Photoshop & social media, and cover letters. Each of the career content sections have a webinar-style video that’s at least 45 minutes long. Skillcrush includes the webinar slides and sometimes an e-book type of download for further reading. I haven’t actually watched all the webinars yet, but ones I have watched have been super informational and helpful in the career aspect of the class. Since they are webinar style, they don’t have the extra graphics and video quality like the rest of the videos from the class, and I do wish they were divided up into shorter segments since they are so information rich. I would have preferred to watch four, 15-minute videos over the course of a week about cover letters.

Who is/isn’t this course for?

The introductory class of the Skillcrush Freelance WordPress Developer Blueprint is great for anyone who has little-to-no knowledge about WordPress and/or PHP. With an introductory level knowledge of WordPress and PHP, this course would be a good review. Since I’d worked with the WordPress Admin in the past, that portion was a review for me, while the PHP section was brand new, and more challenging for me to learn.

Overall, I really enjoyed the course and learned a lot. Learning all about WordPress and PHP are the building blocks of becoming a great WordPress Developer — and I can’t wait to go through the next two courses of this Blueprint. Before long, I’ll be building websites for clients and helping them get their message out into the world.

Stay tuned for next month, when I share the behind-the-scenes of the second course in the Freelance WordPress Developer Blueprint: Git, Github and the Command Line.

What questions do you have about Skillcrush and/or tech skills, in general? Leave ’em in the comments below!

We are affiliates of and may receive commission from sales of Skillcrush Blueprints. As always, we only promote products and services that we love and/or think you might benefit from — and Skillcrush is among the best of the best!

Help Us Build the 2016 Solopreneur Success Bundle!

We’re coming at you today with a special announcement: The Solopreneur Success Bundle is returning in September!

In case you’re not familiar: The Bundle is a round up of insanely helpful resources from a handful of creators, available to you at an incredibly steep discount ($99). There is a catch though: It’s only available for five days.

(Last year, it was made up of 19 resources worth over $1,500. Hence, our excitement!)

Though we wish we could get it in your (virtual) hands today, it takes a boatload of planning to pull off a big, collaborative project like this. Which is where you, friend, come in!

Here’s how you can get involved:

Help us build the Bundle

Last year, the Solopreneur Success Bundle included products/courses on everything from beta testing to systems and productivity to finances to website help. What would you like to see this year? Let us know here, by 5/31. (And don’t be afraid to think outside the box — paid WordPress plugins? Software subscriptions? Fun stuff? We’re all ears.)

Submit your product for consideration

We know without a shadow of a doubt that our community is full of talented, innovative women who have created top-notch products that address the various needs of their fellow business owners. If that’s you — and you’d like to get said product in front of hundreds of new eyeballs — head here to submit your product for consideration by 5/31.

Pre-register as an affiliate

The reach of last year’s Bundle can be highly attributed to our awesome network of affiliates. As a Solopreneur Success Bundle affiliate, you’ll receive a 30% cut of sales made through your unique affiliate link. We’ll provide you with all the promotional materials you could need, and don’t require any sort of official commitment — though we know you’ll be excited to promote it as far and wide as you can. (A quick heads up: When you pre-register now, you’ll receive information about promoting our current products, since the Success Bundle isn’t officially available yet. It’s up to you whether you start spreading the good word about One Woman Shop now or hold off until the Solopreneur Success Bundle is live in September!)

We can’t wait to hear from you!

Questions? Hit us up at hello[at]onewomanshop[dot]com.

PS — If none of the above applies to you, but you’d still like to know when the Bundle is live, jump on our email list!

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