And The Winners Are… (The Top Picks From the 2017 100 Best Sites for Solopreneurs Are In!)

The 100 Best Sites for Solopreneurs from One Woman Shop

Welcome to the third edition of the 100 Best Sites for Solopreneurs from One Woman Shop!

Just over a month ago, the third edition of our 100 Best Sites for Solopreneurs list went live — we’re not saying it broke the internet, but we’re not not saying it.

For one month, we gave you the chance to vote for your top resource across each of our seven categories. Without further ado, our winners:

The top picks for the 100 Best Sites for Solopreneurs are in!

Digital Marketing

Meera Kothand

As one nominator put it, Meera “goes out of her way to help readers with exceptional content” — and we certainly don’t disagree. Her in-depth and actionable advice on both blogging and email marketing will have all solopreneurs feeling like digital marketing champs by the time they’re done here.

Must-read post: How to Survive, Seduce and Sell With Your First Email Sequence

(Shout-out to runner-up Hey Jessica with Jessica Stansberry)

The top picks for the 100 Best Sites for Solopreneurs are in!

Publicity, Launching and Sales

Femtrepreneur with Mariah Coz

Mariah’s been helping solopreneurs turn their blogs into “badass, profitable businesses” for years, and her suite of resources for building and launching online courses is key to helping them get there. From your first online course creation to your 15th, Femtrepreneur is the place to go.

Must-listen episode: How to Break Down Creating a Course into Small “Sprints”

(Shout-out to runner-up The Rule Breaker’s Club with Courtney Johnston)

The top picks for the 100 Best Sites for Solopreneurs are in!

Branding, Copy, and Content Strategy

byRegina with Regina Anaejionu

One look at Regina’s website will leave you wondering “How does she do it all?” And she doesn’t just do it — she does it with humor and grace. With a biz school called “Business School for Humans” and a Twitter bio claiming that she’s a “Stage 5 clinger to #business and healthy living,” Regina is the natural pick for fun-loving infopreneurs in need of resources.

Must-read post: Think Twice about Your Online Course’s Refund Policy

(Shout-out to runner-up BraidCreative)

The top picks for the 100 Best Sites for Solopreneurs are in!

Biz Growth, Systems, and Productivity

Tara Gentile

When she’s not devising her own business strategies for challenging the status quo and stepping outside of cookie-cutter approaches, Tara’s interviewing others doing the same on her podcast, Profit. Power. Pursuit. From marketing to business models, she’s a go-to on all things “running and growing a company in the New Economy.”

Must-listen episode: Discovering a Need And Filling It–Twice–with Marie Poulin

(Shout-out to runner-up Work Brighter with Brittany Berger)

The top picks for the 100 Best Sites for Solopreneurs are in!

Finance, Law, and Other Things We Might Not Like to Think About

Making Sense of Cents with Michelle Schroeder-Gardner

You might initially visit Michelle’s blog to grab some free advice on budgeting and paying off debt — but with nearly 300 pages of archives, you’ll walk away with so (so) much more. With endless ideas for bringing in extra income to an inside look at how she runs her blog and business, we love the mix of aspirational income reports that help us dream and solid financial advice that helps us make it happen.

Must-read post: Great Financial Lessons My Dad Taught Me

(Shout-out to runner-up Amy Northard CPA)

The top picks for the 100 Best Sites for Solopreneurs are in!

Mindset and Solopreneur Lifestyle

Lucky Bitch with Denise Duffield-Thomas

Denise — a.k.a. DDT — is our go-to Money Mindset Mentor. She provides high-level, mindset-shifting advice to help you remove your money blocks and stop your self-sabotaging money habits. She says, “I’m like a gateway drug to a life-long love affair with money.” We say, “Bring on the drugs.”

Must-read post: You’re Too Expensive: How to Deal with Clients Who Say They Can’t Afford You

(Shout-out to runner-up Seth Godin)

The top picks for the 100 Best Sites for Solopreneurs are in!

All Around

Think Creative Collective

Not to toot our own horn, but we know the work that goes into running a high-quality, consistent, multi-author online platform. (We never said modesty was our best trait…) Which is why we know how to spot ‘em. Props to Think Creative Collective, which, in the words of OWS member Danielle “always approach[es] digital strategy and business growth from a fresh and fun perspective.”

Must-read post: 4 New Ways You Can Get in Front of a New Audience on YouTube

(Shout-out to runner-up Marie Forleo)

The top picks for the 100 Best Sites for Solopreneurs are in!

…And now, enjoy falling back down the rabbit hole that is #100BestSites. It’s the list that keeps on giving as you seek out the best resources to help you navigate your solopreneur journey. Thanks to all who cast their ballots and supported their fellow business owners!

Why Your Solopreneur Business Needs an Operations Manual (And How to Get Started for Free!)

Create an operations manual. It’s probably business advice you’ve heard on more than one occasion. If you’re like most solopreneurs, it’s one of the things you skip — maybe because admin tasks just aren’t what you got into business for, or perhaps because you’re not sure what it is or why you need one.

We’re going to fix that today. Even if you’re just starting out, you can benefit from creating an operations manual! Let’s start at the beginning…

What is an operations manual?

Think back to the last time you started a job. You probably received a company handbook. That handbook laid out the company’s mission, rules, and procedures. They’re a required read to learn about the company’s expectations for you as an employee.

That document was the company’s operations manual. They built it over time as the company grew, likely adding to it as they found information they need to reference and relay to other people. It helps ensure the people they hire know what to expect and do while at work.

Even if you’re a one-woman show today, an operations manual can save you time, money, and headaches down the line.

Why create an operations manual for your solopreneur business?

There are a few reasons an operations manual might be a wise addition to your solo business.

1. Increase productivity. As your business grows, you’ll find your responsibilities do, too. Keeping track of every task you need to do will become impossible if your brain is your only storage system. You’ll inevitably start to miss steps in tasks you do on a regular basis. You’ll spend hours looking for a document because you don’t remember where you saved it. Soon you’ll find you’re spending more time fixing mistakes than moving on to the next task. Creating an operations manual will ensure you never miss a task or a step to complete things, saving you time and unnecessary stress.

2. Get organized. Organization should be a top priority as your business grows. It’s inefficient to have the tools you need to run your business scattered across a variety of platforms, apps, and devices. You end up wasting precious time trying to remember where the thing you need is, then searching for it across all the places you use for storage. By creating an operations manual, you build a central hub where things are all in one place and easily accessible.

Prepare to grow. Your business goals include growth right? While growth comes in many forms, many times it means bringing people on to help you. These people could be employees, freelancers, or collaboration partners. An operations manual will help you bring them up to speed quickly on what your business is about and how you run it, saving time (and money) in the onboarding process.

What to include in your operations manual

Your operations manual can be as simple or as robust as you’d like. There’s no right or wrong answer here. Keep this in mind, though: As your business continues to grow, it is much easier to implement new ideas if there is already a record of how things are currently done.

I know getting started can be hard so I’ve put together a few suggestions to help you out:

  • System or process documents
  • Your brand style guide
  • Logo files
  • Your mission statement + core values
  • Links to your systems
  • Templates for documents you use often (proposals, contracts, social media graphic templates, etc.)
  • Swipe files
  • Website and social media links for easy reference
  • Information for the courses you’ve purchased and any membership sites you’ve joined
  • Testimonials

The options for items to include in your operations manual are endless. Decide what’s important to keep your business running in top form and put it in your manual.

Where to create your operations manual

I recommend creating your operations manual in a system you already use. I like to access my operations manual from anywhere, so I built mine in Trello. You might find Google Drive, Evernote, Asana, or some other system works better for your business. If you prefer to use a non-electronic operations manual, a binder with dividers is easy to update and copy.

Start building yours today

If your business plan includes growth, it’s never too early to start creating an operations manual. Next time you write and upload a blog post, for example? Take note of all the steps you take. It may seem like a lot of work, but an extra hour or two now can save time in the long run — and who doesn’t love saving time?

Your days, back in your hands.

Get instant access to 5 Days to Reclaiming Your Time, a free email course with the mindset shifts + action steps you need to get started in reframing your relationship with time. Sign up below!

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4 Steps to Mastering Customer Referrals

As any seasoned solopreneur knows, customer referrals are critical to growing your business. Whether it’s finding the right first hire or getting traffic through the door, having a trusted network endorse your business is what inevitably leads to success. It’s time to start paying attention to your network of referrals, if you haven’t been doing so already!

Referrals, sometimes called word-of-mouth marketing, are the most powerful form of brand building out there. Measurement firm Nielsen reports that “92% of consumers believe recommendations from friends and family over all forms of advertising.”

The power of referrals isn’t limited to friends and family, either. Wouldn’t you rather eat at a restaurant rated 5 stars on Yelp by 435 people than pick one off the street and hope it’s a great meal?

Of course, it might all sound like a great idea — but the idea of generating customer referrals might leave you with a few questions: As a small business owner and entrepreneur, how can you harness the power of referrals? What’s the best way to activate your loyal customers to speak on your behalf? And, most importantly, how can you be sure your referrals are being seen by the people who matter most: your target customers?

Keep reading, one woman shop: I’ve got a few ideas to get you started in mastering customer referrals.

1. Lead with your personal reputation

People want to buy from businesses and causes they believe in. Millennials especially want to buy from brands and companies they can feel proud to support. Marketing firm Cone LLC discovered that “an astounding 94 percent of consumers would switch brands if one carried a cause and another did not.” That good cause can be as simple as supporting an entrepreneur or strong female business owner they believe in.

Bottom line? Customers (read: millennials) want a personal relationship with the businesses they support. The best way to build that relationship is to lead with your personality. Infuse your brand with your own vision, passion, personality, and vibe. Communicate what you’re about and why you’re excited about what you do! This will help others who relate recommend you like crazy.

Where’s the single best place to start in building your reputation? Start by asking your friends and family to recommend you to others. They know you best and can speak to your personality and strengths. From there, it’s about connecting, not collecting: Follow up and start to build genuine connections with the people your family and friends refer. You can start to grow your referrals from those few initial contacts.

2. Show the good with the bad

Part of building your personal brand is recognizing that you’re not perfect. (Fact: No one is.) Referrals are strongest when they’re honest. That’s why sites like Yelp and TripAdvisor offer the opportunity for companies to respond to a negative review. Research shows that a company that responds to a negative Yelp review will see more positive marketing than sending a direct mail ad to their local area. It is so powerful to take the time to correct a wrong or own up to a mistake.

“Responding to negative reviews shows both the reviewer and potential customers that the business cares about its customers, and is willing to make things right when mistakes are made,” says one expert in the Huffington Post. Moreover, millennials trust companies that are transparent and authentic. They’ll be more likely to refer you and your business if you’re not trying to fool them by looking perfect all the time.

3. Create a referral program

Once you know your own personal brand and have activated your friends and family to recommend your business, it’s time to start a more formal referral program. We suggest reaching out to your most loyal customers. According to the New York Times, “When you are clear about describing the recommendations you want, you make it easier for your referral partners to identify prospective customers for you.” If you’ve taken the time to make meaningful connections with the people you connect with regularly, then this ask should feel natural.

Should your referral program involve incentives? This is tricky: You don’t want it to seem like you’re bribing customers for a good review. One blog suggests forgoing your referral incentive for a customer loyalty reward: “The type of incentive you offer must fit with the kind of business you run. It could be a discount, service credits, an upgrade, a free item, or some other trigger that will entice clients to provide referrals.”

If you’re not comfortable with directly asking for referrals yet, find or build a system that makes it easy and seamless for your customers to leave you feedback. Over time, you can choose to broadcast these reviews or build connections with the clients you know have had a positive experience with your brand.

4. Activate social media

Make it easy for people to refer you! By hosting reviews on your Facebook Page or on a site like BULLIT, you’re really becoming your own reference when you post on social media.

Customers truly trust the referrals and updates they see on social media: “Regularly updated Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram accounts with solid followings and positive fan interactions, are likely to outweigh a less than stellar Yelp page.” Continue to broadcast your personality and your brand’s purpose by updating and responding to your curious customers. Plus, check out these tips to benefit from your profiles with these nine do’s and don’ts for cleaning up your social media.

Build your business with referrals

It’s tough to argue with the power of referrals: Most often, you’re not only building a reputation that precedes you and takes significant weight off your need to market your business — you’re also getting in front of people who you’ll enjoy working with, because they’ve been referred by people who know you best.

How can you get started today? Head to BULLIT.me to build a free profile where you can start to see referrals work for you right away.

Shop Talk: Build in Bonuses (A Short Guide to Goal Setting)

goal setting

goal setting

Welcome to Shop Talk! While we love providing you with jam-packed, actionable posts, we also wanted to share quick, thought-provoking snippets here and there — from our brains to yours.

We often find that our members and coaching clients are driven, motivated business owners who fall into a trap of feeling guilty for not doing more.

On a recent call, one member mentioned that she’s been setting high goals for herself and her business each month. Although she feels like she’s accomplished plenty by the end of the month, she’s still disappointed that she hasn’t quite reached her lofty goals. The issue isn’t in her productivity — it’s in her goal setting.

Our suggestion? Implement the “bonus” trick.

Here’s how it works: On your to-do list, create your “must-do” section, as well as a “bonus section” of tasks that you would love to do but aren’t absolutely critical to the success of your business. If you get to the tasks on the bonus section? Extra brown points within your biz! If you don’t? No guilt.

A similar trick is using the phrase “at least” when goal setting.

  • Is your goal to pitch guest posts? Set a goal of “at least 2 pitches.”
  • Is your goal to go on daily walks? Make a goal of “at least 3 walks this week.”
  • Is your goal to be in touch with your email list more? Set a goal of “at least 12 times this year.”

It’s the same mental game as the “bonus” trick: You have a minimum goal to reach, but if you go above and beyond, you’ll positively impact your business and your mindset.

Let us know if you implement the “bonus” trick and how it shifts your mindset towards goal setting!

Your days, back in your hands.

Get instant access to 5 Days to Reclaiming Your Time, a free email course with the mindset shifts + action steps you need to get started in reframing your relationship with time. Sign up below!

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12 Freelance Niche Writing Markets You Probably Haven’t Considered

If you’ve been stuck thinking there just aren’t enough clients in the world, it’s time to turn that scarcity mindset around. Reframe it like this: As a solopreneur, you’re a problem solver. And it’s likely that there are more people experiencing that problem than you might initially realize.

For the purpose of this post, let’s pretend you’re a freelancer writer. (Or maybe you are!) While you might be serving the same types of clients over and over, maybe you’re seeing the well dry up — or you’re just looking for a new project to invigorate your love of writing.

It’s time to open yourself up to niche writing markets you may never have considered.

Here are 12 niche writing markets to get you started:

1. Menus: Not every restaurant needs you to write highly creative and exciting descriptions, but they all need menus. You’ll need to be able to make any meal sound delicious and worth ordering. If you know your food, this might be your new favorite market.

Example of a niche website for application: MustHaveMenus

2. Writing prompts: Good at brainstorming? Try writing prompts for budding authors. Everyone needs some inspiration from time to time, and you could be just the person to provide it. Try sitting down and thinking up as many story seeds as you can for your favorite genre — come up with enough, and you could become popular with fiction writers.

3. Resumes: If you’ve had a lot of success with your own resumes, why not try writing them for other people? It’s easy to find work as lots of job seekers are struggling with writing theirs. With the right set of info, it’s easy to get started.

Example of a niche website for application: Resumention

4. Product descriptions: Anyone can open an online store these days, but they need an expert to really describe their products. That’s where you come in. If you can position their products in a way that sells them to their ideal audience, you could be worth your weight in gold to any seller.

5. Academic writing: Great at essays when you were at university? Don’t let that skill go to waste now. There are plenty of sites that allow you to sell your writing to students that need it — especially if you’re a specialist on the subject needed. (And you don’t have to pull an all-nighter like you did back then!)

Example of a niche website for application: Essayroo

6. Event programs: Strike up a relationship with a local printing company, and you could be referred to anyone who needs an event program. Ideas: Couples getting married, theatre companies, tradeshow attendees, event hosts — they all need a program to let people know what’s happening.

7. Content for educational portals: A lot of what you know as a writer can be translated into advice for students. Education portals like Australian Help are always looking for people who can write grammar guides, explain what plagiarism is, or just write advice on how to complete assignments.

Example of a niche website for application: Academized

8. Instruction manuals: Often called ‘technical writing’, instruction manual writers can explain how to do something clearly and concisely. If you’re good at getting instructions across, this could be a good source of revenue for you.

9. Proofreading: Writers can always use an extra set of eyes. People who have written pieces but don’t want to proofread them could send them to you. A lot of writers find proofreading easier than writing itself, so it could be an easy way to make some extra cash on the side.

Example of a niche website for application: UKWritings

10. Greeting cards: The verses inside greetings cards are called ‘poems’, and you can make a tidy amount selling them to greeting card companies. Be aware that they will buy them, but they’re not always going to use them. They do happily accept unsolicited verses though, so it’s well worth a try.

11. Band bios: Passionate about music and know the music scene well? Welcome to your new favorite market. Bands need help with bios, websites, and pretty much all marketing for shows.

Example of a niche website for application: Bandzoogle

12. Editing: Along the same lines as proofreading, you could offer your editing services. (A more involved form of proofreading that looks at the developmental side of things rather than just grammar and spelling.) This is a good idea if you have an eye for what works and what doesn’t in any text.

Example of a niche website for application: BoomEssays

Hey, solopreneur: Think outside the box

This is just a small sample of the niche writing markets that freelancers could branch out to in order to shake up their normal routine, secure new clients, and perhaps renew their love of writing.

Whether you’re a freelance writer, designer, coach, speaker — you name it — don’t be afraid to think outside the box niche.

Who knows where small niche jobs could lead you?

P.S. When that scarcity mindset kicks in again, look for the wiggle room.

Finding the Sweet Spot Between Dreams vs. Reality in Business

“Never pretend to be a unicorn by sticking a plunger on your head.”

Sage advice from Martίn Espada in ‘Advice to Young Poets.’

Unicorns are iconic. Emblematic. They symbolize the effortless realization of dreams.

The thing is, dreams are real, but unicorns are not.

That seems like a despondent note to start on, but it’s actually kick-start positive.

Having dreams is healthy. It gives you goals and ambition — a driving force for all that you do. It reassures you in the face of failure and encourages you when you’re out of ideas. Solopreneurs often have no one to rely on but themselves. We all need an inner unicorn.

But business success isn’t magic, no matter how much we might wish it to be. Reality has a nasty habit of making dreams slow and difficult to realize.

Here’s your first reality check: Nothing is impossible.

Not if you set realistic goals, work hard, and never falter in your self-belief.

Let’s say you want to offer a business coaching program: A six-figures-in-twelve-months sort of thing, with mindfulness and wellbeing to boot. (Not just another get-rich-quick gig.)

This program will cost in the realm of $10,000. You know people can and do pay that kind of money for great programs.

It is, however, unlikely you’ll get to that point overnight.

Don’t despair. Finding the balance is tricky, but plotting a realistic goal to success will make achieving that $10,000 dream much more achievable.

Because why shouldn’t you be earning that much per client if that’s your dream?

It’s just a matter of discerning dreams vs. reality in business, then taking it one step at a time.

Step 1: In five years’ time

Close your eyes and think about what you want to achieve in five years’ time.

See yourself bathed in success. Your program is a hit and you’ve got a waiting list. You’re living in your dream home, you’re loving life.

See the dream. (Your own, that is.) Fall in love with it.

Promise yourself you’ll make it.

Once you’ve got the dream down in Technicolor, you need to add some black and white realism.

How are you going to get there?

Step 2: Pen and paper

Get out your trusty moleskine, or your laptop, or phone.

I have a ‘Dreams For This Year’ list on the Wunderlist app, for instance, that I check every morning to remind myself why I do what I do.

Putting your dream to paper (or screen) makes it physical. It makes it something you can touch. It’s your accountability on dark days.

It makes it real.

Step 3: Go digital

Businesses are bedfellows with the Internet now. It’s almost impossible to launch a business without a website to match.

Getting your dream domain, setting down a design (either yourself or with a professional) and launching it makes it all official.

It doesn’t matter if you don’t have your product ready to go yet — having a mesmerising landing page and opt-in form is a great way to get the ball rolling.

Work on amassing a stellar email list. Spread the word about your product. Send your loyal subscribers some high-quality newsletters or mini e-books with actionable, unique takeaways. Write a blog to underpin the product.

Is this quick list a lot of work? Yes. Is it worth it? 100%.

Think of it as laying the groundwork for your main product. You wouldn’t leap into a marathon without any training. If you build up a solid audience then market your product well, the launch will be far more lucrative and you’ll see a positive ROI much quicker than delving into a cold market.

Ongoing: Love your stumbles

Learning from your mistakes is one of the best qualities in any business person, particularly a solopreneur.

As a one woman shop, you can’t handle everything all at once without occasionally slipping up. Take the falls on the chin, make a note, and work to ensure it doesn’t happen again. Likewise, figure out what does work and stick to it.

Ongoing: Pen Pencil and paper

People change as they grow. You might suddenly want a tattoo, or a cat. Your dream of a skyscraper studio apartment might morph into a cottage with land to keep miniature donkeys.

Dreams can change, too. They might shift into something bigger, something with a new end game, targeted to a different market.

That’s okay. That’s natural.

Don’t feel you’ve failed. Pencilled dreams can be rubbed out and altered, whereas dreams written in pen are final and can only be crossed out.

Keep an open mind. There’s more than one way to achieve success.

Ongoing: Value your critics

…what?

That might seem self-destructive, but your naysayers act as free consultants.

It might be difficult to see the faults in your program because you’ve invested so much of yourself into it. An outside opinion could actually be beneficial.

There’s a difference between someone trying to cut you down and someone trying to cut you a break.

Listen to them. Think of what your product will look like if you implement their changes. Don’t be too proud and reject outside help, whether in the form of assistance or criticism.

View critique as a free screening. If any glaring errors are found, you’ll be glad you listened to your cynical friend.

Ongoing: Embrace your inner unicorn

Be bold. Be brave. A unicorn is a mythical creature that has stood the test of time, despite being literally impossible.

You can do the same. Know the difference between dreams vs. reality in business, then be like a unicorn and never give up on that dream. It might take a little longer than a day but you’ll get there so long as you stick to your plan, maintain your work ethic, and learn as you progress.

Keep a clear head and a focused goal. Don’t be afraid of change and criticism.

And know that when — not if — when you get there, you deserve every bit of it.

P.S. On the other hand? Perhaps it doesn’t matter if you don’t deserve it.

Your days, back in your hands.

Get instant access to 5 Days to Reclaiming Your Time, a free email course with the mindset shifts + action steps you need to get started in reframing your relationship with time. Sign up below!

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We Get By With a Little Help From Our Friends

Are you coffee or espresso? Apply for One Woman Shop membership today!

TL;DR: Even as solopreneurs, we can’t do it alone. The doors to One Woman Shop membership are open until Friday, May 26th at 11:59pm EST!

One Woman Shops:

If you’re on our email list (you rock!) you got this note in your inbox last week. (That said, it might be worth another read!) If you’re not? Keep reading…

We’re nearly halfway through the year (whaaa?) and we have no doubt your to-do list might look like this: overstuffed — with stress levels that just might match.

This is when we remind ourselves that:

a. We can’t do all.the.things, every day.

b. Of what we can do, we can’t do it alone.

We have a few stellar suggestions for taming that out-of-control to-do list and reclaiming your time (point a) — but for the purposes of today’s letter to you, we want to focus on point b.

You might be wondering, what the heck do other people have to do with getting my work done?

Our answer: Everything.

We’re not talking about building a team or outsourcing. Yes, there’s a season for both those things — but one thing that’s always in style is having a strong community behind you.

Specifically, a community of people who get what it’s like to set up onboarding systems for clients, or to design nurture sequences to sell that product, or to build a business budget. A community that also considers putting jeans on “dressing up” — because, hey, they’re not yoga pants — and who has no shame in taking an afternoon nap or waking up to work at 2am because an idea struck.

Solopreneurship is a misleading term — because even as a company of one, we need to know there are other people out there who get it. Who can help us through it. Who have the expertise, insight, and honesty, we might not have at that moment.

That’s what we’re all about at One Woman Shop: Community. A tight-knit group of ladies who quickly become friends as they support each other on this winding road of solopreneurship.

Doors have re-opened to One Woman Shop membership. We’d love to have you join us before they close again on May 26th. All it takes is a brief application so we can both make sure we’re a fit.

After all, the Beatles knew best: In business, as in life, we all get by with a little help from our friends.

To community!

P.S. Here’s what a few of our members have to say about being part of OWS.

Successfully Start Live Stream Video Marketing (Yes, you!)

There’s something to be said about not jumping on business bandwagons.

Deciding to not join in on the latest “business trend” might mean you’re keenly aware of how the trend fits into the bigger picture and whether it would be smart to adopt, or maybe you’re not taking it on out of fear even though you know it would be helpful for your business.

That last one, the fear, is something I’ve found a lot of people are experiencing with the latest business trend: live stream video marketing.

At this point, calling it a trend isn’t even accurate.

According to Livestream, 81 percent of audiences on the internet and mobile consumed more live video in 2016 than they had the year before, and 80 percent of those people also prefer live videos over blogs, while 82 percent prefer consuming live video over social posts.

With stats like that, it’s not crazy to claim that you might want to make live stream video broadcasting a defined facet of your overall marketing plan. Here’s why:

  • It captures attention. People like seeing people, and we also are drawn to things that move and make noise. So, in a sea of static updates in a newsfeed, a piece of media that’s moving and has sound naturally captures attention. Of course, more factors go into keeping that attention, but we’ll get there in a minute.
  • It helps build your credibility and trust factor. The sheer inability to edit when you’re live-streaming gives you instant credibility. You’re not able to cut out flubs, you have to respond to live engagement off the cuff, and you’re making yourself available in real time. That level of accessibility is huge for displaying your expertise and allowing people to see your personality and know they see the real you.
  • It’s quick and easy. With live-streaming, it’s as easy as opening an app and hitting “go live.” No need to get graphics together or have an editor on hand. Live-streaming lends itself to being as easy to create as it is to consume, which is ideal for audiences with ever-increasing demands on their attention spans and business owners who want to see a good ROI with the time and money spent on marketing.

So, now that you know why you might want to be incorporating live stream videos into your content strategy, here are the main things you need to consider when determining how you’ll create videos that get watched and drive results for your business.

1. Your content

Beyond the fear of simply going live is the fear of “what do I talk about?!,” and there’s one important thing I want you to keep in mind: Just because you’re recording live doesn’t mean you can’t go in with a plan.

Although you don’t want to sound like you’re reading off of a script, there’s no problem with creating an outline and having some notes to keep you on topic.

Some things you can talk about or show on your live broadcasts include quick tips, behind-the-scenes of your business, peeks into your creative process, exciting announcements, simple hellos to your followers, something cool you think they’d enjoy, or education content based on your expertise.

And that’s just the tip of the iceberg, because live-streaming lends itself to sharing anything from super-short, fun glimpses into your day all the way to sitting down and having an in-depth conversation with your audience.

Start small and with some notes, and eventually, you’ll get more comfortable to the point where you don’t need to do any self pep-talks before going live (we’ve all been there), and you can speak to any topic on the fly.

Also, don’t forget to give a call-to-action in your video. Do you want people to sign up for your list, check out your latest items in your shop, or give you feedback? Tell them what you want them to do!

That’s how you’re going to see the tangible benefits of how live-streaming can benefit your business.

2. Your setting

Once you’ve got an idea of the various types of live stream videos you’ll want to create for your brand, you’ll want to give some thought to your filming locations.

Listen, as exciting and dangerous as it sounds, just because you can live-stream from the back of a motorcycle doesn’t mean you should. (Unless your business involves making custom hot rods in which case, carry on.)

Otherwise, it’s helpful to think of a few areas that you can consistently turn to as the backdrop for your live broadcasts. Maybe it’s a corner in your office or your back patio. Maybe it’s the awesome coworking space you go to a few times a week.

Then, of course, comes the scenario of live-streaming because you’re sharing the location you’re in and what you’re doing there.

In either case, there are a couple of important things to keep in mind: light and sound.

Try to find a well-lit area where the source of the light is shining on you and not behind you so that people can see your face. The best light source is diffused sunlight, so if you have a well-light room without the sun directly beating in, that’s ideal.

For sound, indoors is preferred so you don’t have to worry about being drowned out by gusts of wind or traffic. But if you can’t help but be outdoors due to the nature of your video, try to get as far away from sources of loud sound (like a street) or find a barrier that blocks some of the noise.

3. The right equipment

One of the beautiful things about live streamed video is that people don’t expect it to be perfect, which means that not having a DSLR camera isn’t an excuse for skipping out.

However, just because it’s unedited, raw footage doesn’t mean you shouldn’t take steps to ensure good audio and visual quality.

Circling back to having good light and sound quality, Photojojo! has a variety of unique tools to help you improve your video quality that won’t break the bank. For example, their Pocket Spotlight is perfect if you need a little help bumping up the brightness of your video and The Mighty Mic will help you achieve crisper, clearer, higher quality sound.

In addition to finding a place with good lighting and low wind (if you’re shooting outdoors), it’s also helpful to have a tool you can use to go hands-free and keep your phone or camera stable.

The Smoovie Video Stabilizer and Gorillapod Mobile are both great tools that allow you to capture video on the go without the motion-sickness inducing camera shake.

Also, Facebook recently rolled out live streaming on your desktop to all users, so if you prefer the look your webcam gives you over your smartphone, you’ve got options.

But, at the end of the day, if all you have is your smartphone, you have everything you need to get started. Don’t let the idea of “perfection” hold you back from connecting with your audience and growing your business.

Finding the right live streaming platform

Now that you’ve got an idea of what you’d like to share through live-streaming and how you’re going to go about producing your video, now comes the big question, “Where is it going to live?”

There’s Facebook Live, Instagram Live, Periscope, and YouTube Live, and, like most things in life, you can’t do it all.

(Although you can be live in two places at once, so that’s one way to defy physics.)

Here are some of the key differentiators for each live streaming platform and a few tips on how to choose which platforms are best for you:

Facebook Live

  • Helps boost your post/update in the Newsfeed
  • Allows you to go live via your phone or laptop
  • You can post your live broadcast as a page post after your broadcast has ended
  • Allows for broadcasts up to four hours long (as of April, 2017)

Instagram Live

  • Your followers receive a notification that you’re live when they’re in the app
  • Your video disappears from the app once your live broadcast has ended
  • You can save your Live broadcasts to your camera roll

Periscope

  • It’s built entirely on the concept of live-streaming (unlike Facebook and Instagram)
  • Live streams can be recorded with mobile devices and watched on all devices either through the Periscope app or on Twitter

YouTube Live

  • Now available to anyone (Prior to late March 2017, only YouTube accounts with 10K or more subscribers could go live)
  • If your channel subscribers receive Youtube’s email notifications, they’ll receive an email when you start your live broadcast

Platform picking tips

1. Go with your primary platforms

Are you already active on Facebook? Have an engaged following on Instagram or Twitter? Start with the top one to two platforms you already use and have a greater following on. Then, if you find that you love live-streaming, you can branch out to creating live streams and building an audience on additional platforms.

2. Get crafty with “repurposing”

If you want to share content that you think your audiences on multiple platforms would appreciate, let your content stretch further and go live simultaneously. Of course, this will take a multi-device setup, but if you have a laptop and smartphone or smartphone and tablet, it’s totally doable.

Just make sure you’re letting your followers know you’re live in multiple places. That way if you reference the platform you’re on, your watchers on the alternative platform don’t get confused. Another benefit to this method is that you’ll be helping to cross-promote your other social media channels.

3. Take it for a test drive

One of my best social media secrets is that I have “test” accounts for my top platforms that I only use when new features roll out so I can test them and see how they work before committing to trying something new on my official page.

I don’t think everyone needs to try that method; you could just ask a biz friend to give you a quick tutorial, but I’m a visual, hands-on learner, so test driving features in that way helps me decide whether I’m ready to go public using a new feature.

You can start live stream video marketing today

As you can see, today’s digital landscape has made it inevitable for live stream video to become one of the biggest mediums for content creation. You’d be missing out on a big chunk of the marketing pie if you don’t consider weaving this type of media into your content strategy.

The key thing to keep in mind is to embrace the unpolished nature of live-streaming and just start.

As you gain more practice with each video and you incorporate some simple tools into your production, you’ll look like a pro and be consistently creating content you’re proud to promote in no time.

Content might be king…

but it doesn’t have to rule your world. Drop your email below to get even more great tips on content as a solo business owner!

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Shop Talk: If One Person…

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solopreneur

Welcome to Shop Talk! While we love providing you with jam-packed, actionable posts, we also wanted to share quick, thought-provoking snippets here and there — from our brains to yours.

Today we’re coming at you with a reminder that we always tell ourselves. (Pretty much all of our Shop Talk posts could also be filed under “Notes To Self.”)

If one person is vocalizing something, there are probably other people out there thinking it.

How can this reminder help you in your solo business?

If someone emails you a question about how to set up ConvertKit, there are probably others wishing they had a useful tutorial to refer to. Consider writing a step-by-step blog post with instructions.

If you offer an e-course that’s normally delivered week-by-week and one of your community members asks if it’s possible to access it all at once, there are probably other people out there who are afraid to look demanding or hadn’t even thought to make such a straightforward request. Consider offering the e-course both week-by-week (for those who want to take bite-sized steps so they don’t feel overwhelmed) and all at once (for those who like to batch their tasks and/or want to do it in one fell swoop while they’re energized).

If one person emails you telling you that they’re having trouble downloading their brand new Solopreneur Success Bundle because of tech issues, there are probably at least two (okay, ten) others who are also having trouble. Consider double-checking the delivery process, changing the number of downloads each person can have, and having a backup method for delivering the Bundle if all else fails.

And after you’ve taken action steps, take a minute to thank the people who are taking time out of their days to articulate what others in your community might very well be thinking.

P.S. Because every post we write and video that we record must have at least one caveat, here it is: If someone is expressing a completely outlandish or irrational opinion, feel free to let it silently disappear into the black hole of “What in the actual…..??”

7 Steps to Create The Perfect Pin

7 Tips to Create the Perfect (Attention-Grabbing) Pin

You’ve likely heard this shouted from fellow business owners everywhere: Pinterest drives more traffic to my website than any other social media platform!

Well, it happens to be true for me. I see growth in my email list daily, and I get consistent sales for my ebook, pretty much all thanks to Pinterest. But, of course, it wasn’t always that way. It wasn’t until I studied the ins and outs of Pinterest strategy — and made some strategic moves — that my website traffic, email list, and sales increased.

Today, I’m going to share one (very important) secret to getting loads of traffic to your site from Pinterest: How to create the perfect Pin.

It probably goes without saying, but Pinterest relies on visuals, so it’s extremely important that the Pins you upload look attractive and, well…pinnable.

Here are a few tips on creating beautiful, attention-grabbing Pins for your blog:

1. Get clear on your brand

First and foremost, get clear on your brand’s colors, fonts, and tone or “mood.” It’s extremely important that your Pins be consistent and look on-brand.

Example: If your brand is punk rock, then something light and airy with pastel colors wouldn’t be on-brand, but something edgy and bold with bright colors would be. Colors and fonts are a great way to express your brand so be sure to choose wisely!

Below are two Pins that are different, yet similar. The trick is to use the same colors and fonts, and use photos that have a similar mood.

2. Create a template (or two)

The easiest way to maintain consistency (see above) is by creating templates for your Pins. That way, you can simply plug in different titles and images while keeping the overall look the same. (Bonus: This also saves you time!)

I shudder thinking about the awful blog graphics I had on my first website. They were all over the place, with no consistency in font, color, or size. Now I create all my Pins using Canva, a free online graphic design tool. You can create your own templates in Canva or use the templates that Canva provides that already have the ideal size and proportions for an attractive pin.

3. Stick to vertical pins only (No landscape, please!)

Vertical images (tall, not horizontal or square — see One Woman Shop’s example below!) tend to get more clicks and repins. One main reason is because they’re easier to see. Most Pinterest users are on their mobile devices, so it’s important to make your Pins easy on the eyes.

Images that use the ratio of 2:3 or 4:5 are best. I make my Pins 600px by 900px and it works perfectly. When I upload the Pin to my blog it doesn’t look overly huge, yet it looks clear when viewed on Pinterest.

Again, Canva’s Pinterest templates already have the perfect ratio so there’s no stress about getting the correct ratio. #loveyoucanva

4. Make it easy to read

This tip is short, but not always easy: Make sure you use an easy-to-read text overlay. Remember, most people are on their tiny phones looking at these pins. If pins are difficult to read, it’s unlikely they’ll inspire people to click or repin.

5. Choose eye-catching photos

Beautiful images are key. If you’re using your own images, make sure they look professional (even if they’re shot from your iPhone). You want to avoid anything dark, out of focus, or messy-looking.

If you’re using stock photos, be sure to steer clear of anything cheesy. (You know what I mean. We’ve all seen those goofy photos with fake smiles and garish colors. Leave the cheesiness for the infomercials!) You want something on-brand and inspiring that your ideal client will love.

Some of my favorite stock photo sites are Haute Chocolate, SC Stockshop, and Bloguettes. They’re not free, but their photos are worth it. Instead of wading through pages and pages of questionable stock photography to find one beautiful, on-brand photo, you’ll have lots of gorgeous photos to choose from.

Remember to always keep your target audience in mind and choose photos that both showcase your brand and appeal to your peeps.

6. Get strategic with your blog titles

Creating a snappy title is just as important as creating consistent-looking Pins.

Your title needs to be specific and communicate exactly what your audience is going to get out of the article. You want to stir up an emotion in them and make them curious enough to click through to read your article or repin it to their board to read later.

For example, if you’re a health coach creating a Pin about what you eat in a day, the title “What I Ate Today” isn’t going to get many click throughs or repins. It’s too general.

Instead, try a title like “What a Health Coach Eats.” That’s much more intriguing, because your reader probably assumes that a health coach is more knowledgeable on healthy eats than the general public.

For extra credit, include a tantalizing subtitle. For our health coach example, you can try “What a Health Coach Eats (It Might Not Be What You Think!)” That title suggests that perhaps the health coach doesn’t eat healthy all the time, piquing your curiosity even more as to what exactly they eat. Makes you want to click through and see for yourself, doesn’t it?

Still need help finding a catchy title? Here’s a great article to get you started.

7. Add keyword-rich Pin descriptions

The Pin description is the text that shows up under the Pin.

Your description should include keywords and phrases relevant to your blog post and brand to help people find your Pin when searching Pinterest. Explain the purpose of the article without giving too much away and perhaps even invite the pinner to click through to read more.

For instance, if someone was looking for a yellow chair on Pinterest, they would search “yellow chair.” If your pin is a picture of a yellow chair but doesn’t have the words “yellow chair” in the description, it’s going to be very difficult, if not impossible, to find.

How exactly do you add descriptions to your Pins? When you upload your Pin to your blog post you’ll want to add the description to the Alt Text of the image. And if you’re using an SEO plugin like Yoast SEO you’ll want to write a description for the meta description, because sometimes this shows up on Pinterest too.

Once the Pin is uploaded to your site you can use your Pin It button to save to your Pinterest boards.

Make the most of your Pinterest presence

In addition to creating pinnable Pins, you’ll want to repin fresh content to your boards daily or almost daily (a mixture of your content and others’). Consistency is key! Pinterest rewards those who pin great content and often.

Pinterest is an amazing platform with tons of potential for driving high-quality traffic to your site. (And it’s so much fun!) Use these tips on how to create the perfect Pin and you’ll be on your way to growing your business using Pinterest!

P.S. Get 7 steps to creating a consistent overall brand here.

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