3 Ways to Find Great Bloggers to Work with You

Maybe you’re expanding your own business and are ready to start building a team of bloggers. Maybe you’re looking to fill up your guest posting roster. Or maybe you’re managing a project for a client and they’ve decided that they want some blog posts — only you’re not really a great writer.

Whatever the reason, you need to find great bloggers to get on board, like, yesterday.

But where do you find them? What do you say? And how do you avoid getting inundated with a bunch of applications from people who don’t know their Oxford comma from their elbow?

Deep breaths — let’s break this down.

When it comes time to find great bloggers to work with you, you’ve got three approachable options: referrals, social media posts, and direct email pitches. But no matter which route you’re taking, you’re going to need to do a few things first:

1. Know exactly what you’re looking for.

If you’re not clear about the logistics of what you want people to do for you, there’s no way you can communicate that in your ask. So make sure you write down exactly what you’re looking for, whether that’s a one-off blog post for a client with a deadline of five business days, an ongoing series of guest posts of 500-1,000 words on XYZ topics, or a working relationship with a team of bloggers that you can contract work to, ad hoc.

2. Create a hiring page that includes tests.

Once you’ve figured out the details you want to share about the job right out of the gate, create a hiring page to direct people to. You don’t have to include every single detail about the job — for instance, you might want to keep information about rates back until you talk with people directly if you’re hiring, or you might be willing to negotiate deadlines for guest posts on an ongoing basis — but do include any dealbreaker-level things.

Also, make sure that you build in a couple of tests on your hiring page to help you filter out the people you really don’t want working with you. This is going to vary depending on the specifics of the job, but as an example, if you really need someone to be detail-oriented, then put out a list of things you want them to send you, from their social media handles to their rates to the answer to a specific question. It may sound arbitrary, but if someone can’t be bothered to get the details right when they’re pitching to you, they’re damn sure not going to bother when they’re working for you. (Here’s an example of what this can look like in real life.)

3. Think about what the next steps are, and do what you need to do to make that work.

Finally, make sure you’ve figured out a structure to manage what happens after you start getting applications, because these can spiral like you wouldn’t believe. The best way to figure out what this should be is to walk through the process in your mind step by step, thinking about what you’ll need at each point in the process.

A couple of things to think about include: scheduling links for follow-up calls or interviews, a spreadsheet or project management software to keep track of progress and deadlines, accounting software and legal agreements if you’re paying people, working guides or onboarding guides so people know what’s expected of them, information about your email hours, and of course, a backup plan in case you end up working with someone who really screws up and you have to salvage the project.

If nothing else, I recommend setting up a spreadsheet to keep track of who’s applied, whether they meet your criteria or not, any notes you have about them, and a record of your correspondence with them.

Now let’s talk specifically about how to put out the ISO (in search of) call for referrals, social media posts, and direct email pitches.

Tactic #1: Referrals

Always ask for referrals first. You’ll likely get your highest quality leads this way, and it’s really easy to write a quick email asking people for recommendations. Keep it short and simple: Start with an intro paragraph telling people that you’re looking for recommendations for bloggers. Follow up with a couple of bullet points that hit the highlights of the project, with the link to your hiring page for more info. Finally, thank them for helping you out. It’s simple manners, but a lot of people just don’t bother, so it can make a big difference in how the exchange plays out.

Tactic #2: Social media

If you get what you need from your referrals, great! If not, try putting out the call on social media. Facebook Groups are fantastic for this, but do know that you may get swamped with pitches. (That’s why it’s so very important to have your structure in place before you start!)

Make your post short and to the point. Start out with a headline that makes it really clear who you’re looking for, then, just like in the referral email, include your bullet points and hiring link. Make sure that the tone in your post is going to appeal to the type of people you want to work with. For example, if you want really serious grant writers, then write your post in more academic language. Or if you’re looking for sparky young bloggers, then keep your tone light and a bit irreverent.

Ideally, you should also create a graphic with the bare bones of what you’re looking for in it, since it’s much more eye-catching. Here’s a simple example of what that can look like:

Tactic #3: Email pitches

These are great for situations where you have a specific blogger in mind that you really want to get on board for a particular project. If you’ve connected with them before on their blog or via social media, so much the better, but you can also successfully cold pitch to bloggers if you know how to do it right. (Read: in a way that doesn’t make you come across like a high-handed jerk.)

The great thing is, you can reuse a lot of the text from your referral email for your pitch email. The bullet points are all the same; just change out the first paragraph to tell them a little bit about you and why you thought of working with them specifically. (Honest flattery can help!) Then include your bullet points, link them to the hiring page for further details, or invite them to email back or set up a call to chat about the specifics of the project.

TL;DR?

Here’s what you need to know:

  • Get clear on the details of the project before you ever talk to anyone else.
  • Use your hiring page as a secret way to sort people so you don’t get stuck filtering through a bunch of unqualified leads.
  • Think about what happens next before this thing balloons on you.

From that foundation, you can tailor your request for great bloggers for each medium: referrals, social media posts, and direct emails — and watch the pitches flow in!

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.

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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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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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.

How To Talk To Family About Being a Solopreneur

“So you’re between jobs?”

“Don’t worry, something solid will come up.”

“Having a 9-to-5 is the only way to get a mortgage, you know.”

“Don’t you want job security?”

“I guess you’re on a journey of ‘self-discovery’, right?”

If these quotes sound like your last family gathering, then you’re not alone.

Explaining your solopreneur venture to your family can be like trying to explain algebra to a trilobite. (That’s an extinct marine arthropod, FYI.) The idea of talking work at Christmas, Easter, Thanksgiving or whatever it happens to be can fill solopreneurs with dread.

You haven’t got a “normal” answer. You can’t answer with a one word job title because you’re a saleswoman, a marketer, an accountant, a visionary, and an investor…all in one.

At best, being a solopreneur is brave, and at worst, it’s career suicide — according to family.

Explaining your vocation to your family will be different for everyone; no one family is the same. Levels of support vary and mindsets change.

First thing’s first: Take a deep breath. You aren’t alone.

Upsetting the apple cart

I know the struggle.

I moved to a place where there were no starter jobs. It was a place populated with the semi-retired. Moving again wasn’t an option and I spent months trying to land jobs that weren’t quite right for me. I had hundreds of rejections.

It was soul-destroying.

I knew in my gut that my writing ability was exceptional. I’ll be the first to admit that I haven’t got a mathematical bone in my body, but words? I can do that. I was also well-educated and published in several newspapers.

But I was never the right fit. Not enough years behind a desk. Not enough willingness to subscribe to the outdated keyword-stuffing SEO ideas that still run this city.

Despite this, my personal blogs were getting shared and commented on. I was the go-to for friends who needed something written, so why was the corporate world so dead set against me?

One day, I snapped. They didn’t want me, so I didn’t want them.

I discovered the world of copywriting, an industry I — somehow — never knew existed.

I realized this was my gig. I could rock this.

I hit the ground running and got my first few clients in the first month.

My family’s response?

“At least you’ve got something until a proper job comes up.”

I felt the confidence bubble deflate like a cartoon balloon. You could almost hear the sad whizzing noise.

It took me a while to realise they weren’t being mean. Of course they weren’t, they’re my family.

Understand their mindset

They wanted what was best for me and could only express that by chiding me, trying to nudge me in the direction of a safe, secure 9-to-5.

Remember…a lot of these naysayers — parents, grandparents, extended family — spent their working lives as small cogs in big machines. They could only achieve success by joining a company young and staying there until they retired, slowly climbing the rank ladder.

There was little room for career moves, and entrepreneurship belonged only to those who could afford to be idle. In other words…it only happened to other people.

They don’t get it. They’re not being malicious, they’re just confused and worried.

Be confident

The best way to assuage their fears is to be confident.

Know exactly what you’re doing and be proud of it. If you’re unflappable, they’re more likely to realize they don’t need to fret.

You never know. A cousin might be belittling your work because they’re envious of your bravery and wish they could do what you do.

Be honest

One of the biggest stigmas associated with entrepreneurship is the risk factor.

There’s no point tiptoeing around it. Working for yourself has pitfalls a normal office job doesn’t.

You write your own paychecks and that can either be the best thing ever — or the worst.

Don’t deny it. Acknowledge the risk and explain that you are confident in what you do; you’re thriving despite the fear factor. If you make it clear that you aren’t blind to the risks, or simply ignoring them, you’ll seem far more competent.

Be encouraging

Explaining your business in a single breath and then changing the subject can give off a vibe of uncertainty. You might sound threatened or hostile.

Be open! If someone has questions, answer them.

Channel a little of that saleswoman flair and sell your work.

Your Uncle Jim’s questions that were meant to cut you down might change to genuine curiosity. How wonderful would that be?

Don’t be afraid to ask for help

Reaching out for support from family might seem like you’re admitting defeat.

Remember being a solopreneur is just that — solo. It can be very lonely and you don’t have colleagues to cheer you up on a bad day.

There is no shame in soliciting support from your family. Tell them how amazing your work is, but acknowledge that you sometimes go for days without connecting to the outside world. Admit that being your only advocate can be tiring.

When they realize how much you’re willing to sacrifice for your dream, they’ll be far more likely to offer a helping hand or a hug — without the whisper of, “I told you so.”

You’re in control, but you could use a sympathetic ear. That’s no different from someone in an office job suffering from burnout.

The uncertainty and quips about “real work” mostly stem from misinformation. If you break down that barrier in a calm, friendly way, you’ll never have to worry about awkward, talking-to-a-brick-wall moments at family gatherings ever again.

(Yes, they’ll still worry. They’re your family.)

But they’ll also be happy for you, and when you work for yourself, that counts for a lot.

P.S. Whether we’re willing to admit it or not, our family plays a huge factor in our solopreneur sanity.

4 Simple SEO Tips to Optimize Your Content and Attract Your Ideal Client

Using SEO effectively can seem like a headache. Keywords? Links? Content marketing? I’ve been there. If you’re a small business owner, you have enough on your plate, and learning about SEO can seem like more trouble than it’s worth.

But SEO is so much more than a marketing strategy. SEO, or Search Engine Optimization, is simply helping Google understand your site so that you can easily connect with people who are already seeking the solutions you offer. It’s a necessary foundation for your brand or business, not an online “trick” that requires endless research.

In fact, according to Search Engine Land, SEO is considered one of the most cost-effective digital marketing practices to grow your business. And, let’s face it — you’ve likely invested hundreds to thousands of dollars on designing your brand and developing your website, but is it worth the investment if no one can find it?

Here are four quick ways you can utilize SEO to find your dream clients and elevate your business in an authentic, non-salesy way.

1. Keep a list of Frequently Asked Questions from your target audience.

Keep an ongoing list of questions that continuously pop up among your target audience. You could find these questions in Facebook Groups, past client consultations, in replies to your email newsletter, or even while taking a class at the gym.

Use these questions for content inspiration. Answer them on an easy-to-access landing page or turn them into blog posts. Pay attention to the specific language your potential clients use and the way the questions are asked. Word questions and your answers in a way that you could see your clients Googling them. If you have Google Analytics set up on your website, you can see which Google searches have led people to your website, and form questions out of those phrases.

2. Take time to use categories and tags effectively.

When it comes to that “tags” box you see when creating a blog post in WordPress, do you fill it with related terms you think of on the fly? Don’t worry; you’re not alone. But it’s time to get organized! Think of categories as the top level, main topics of your blog. Then think of tags as supporting keywords. Choose 5-6 main categories and only a handful of tags for each category. For example, a main category could be “Fitness” and supporting tags could be “muscle recovery,” “at home workout,” and “activewear.”

3. Use Yoast and fill in your metadata.

Metadata is mostly behind-the-scenes data that helps a search engine understand and rank your site. The preview text that appears in search engine results when someone sees your site link is comprised of metadata. Take a few extra minutes to fill in the title tag, meta description and alt tags of your posts. The Yoast SEO plugin makes these updates, and therefore upping your SEO game, much easier.

4. Audit and update your old content.

If you’ve had a blog for more than a few months, chances are you already have a ton of content. In order to make sure your website is working for you, and not the other way around, go through your old content and see which posts and pages could be improved.

Find which posts are your best and make sure they’re properly tagged and categorized. Edit any content that is outdated or no longer relevant. Auditing your content will make sure your site is full of high-quality, valuable content for your readers. For more ideas, check out my post on 50 ways to give an old post new life.

SEO doesn’t have to be so hard

For many solopreneurs, SEO remains an elusive concept that’s just out of reach. But it doesn’t have to be. The four quick tips above are just a few examples of how you can optimize your site for search engines and make it easier for more of your ideal clients to find you.

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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How to Write the Perfect Guest Post Pitch

Guest posting is one of those things that everybody thinks they probably should be doing more of…but the whole process of putting a guest post pitch together can seem daunting. And the truth is, you can spend a lot of time and energy pitching guest posts that never pan out if you don’t know what you’re doing.

Good news: You can make the process much, much easier if you know how to write a decent cold pitch — and once you do start landing those posts, you can leverage those posts into a serious asset for your business.

It starts with knowing whether you should be pitching at all.

As you may have noticed, the Internet has become a much busier place these past couple of years. Which means that people don’t have a whole hell of a lot of mental bandwidth to spare.

You need to get a really good sense of whether a blog is even accepting pitches and guest posts before you take the time to write your pitch. There’s no particular secret to know here; most places that are accepting posts will have a page explicitly stating that.

If you can’t find it on their site, do a quick Google search along the lines of “[Site you want to guest post for] guest posting” and see if something comes up. Otherwise, check out their archives and social media feeds to see if they have any guest posts featured. If there’s nothing to let you know either way, then go ahead and pitch, if you really think that your idea is a fit. Just go into the process knowing that it’s a toss up.

OK, so you’ve decided it’s a go. Now what?

Now you write an email that gives them just enough information about you to know whether you’re a fit for their audience, piques their interest and shows off your expertise in the topic, and tells them that you’re not going to be a pain to work with.

Start out with a very clear subject line — something along the lines of “Guest post proposal — [your specific topic]”

Then (after you double extra check that you’ve spelled the person’s name right in your greeting), write a short intro paragraph where you talk about who you are and what your business is, as well as your particular reasons for being attracted to their business/blog/this chance to guest post.

Now that you’ve got their attention, add in a very short paragraph about why you’re a good fit for their audience. Here’s where you get to show off how great you are, plus how well you know their business and their audience.

Then introduce your idea. While it’s fine to pitch with just one idea, I usually like to include two or more and let them choose. This ups your chances of getting a yes and lets you highlight a couple different areas of expertise.

End by offering to provide alternative ideas just in case those don’t work, and give them clear next steps.

It’s all about making it as easy as possible for them to say yes.

You’ve got the pieces — now what does that look like, all put together?

Here’s an anonymized example of an email I pitched a while back that landed me a guest post within a few hours:

Subject: Guest post proposal — copy and content

Email:

Hi NAME,

I’m Rachel Allen, and I run the creative agency Bolt from the Blue Copywriting. I’ve had the biggest business crush on BIZ NAME ever since the first round of COOL THING YOU DID — the mix of lifting people up to be their best + the firmly grounded anti-bullshit stance really does it for me.

I write about voice, branding, copy, and content from a similar stance, and was wondering if you’re currently accepting guest posts? If so, I’d love to do one for you.

Here’s what I’m thinking:

A rallying cry for being a better human as you write (that also skewers the whole cottage industry that’s developed around quickie, template-based content).

or

A post about how access to other people’s brainspace is a privilege, with the main focus being on how you’re spam until you prove otherwise.

If neither of those ring your bell, I’m happy to come up with alternative ideas. If one or both does sound good to you, I can also send over outlines (or a completed article) if you want to move forward. I could have the article to you next week or an outline tomorrow.

Let me know what you think, and of course, if you have any questions don’t hesitate to ask.

Thanks!
Rachel

So…what do you do if you don’t hear back?

Give it a little time. Like I said, people are busy. If it’s been a week and you haven’t heard a word, then it’s time to follow up. Keep it short and low pressure, just checking in like the responsible guest poster you are. Something along the lines of,

Hi [Name],

Hope you’ve had a great start to your week! I wanted to follow up on my guest post proposal from last week. Did you have any questions or need any more information from me?

Thanks!
[Your Name]

What do you do if you do hear back and it’s a no?

It’s always disappointing, but it’s not the end of the world. If you do hear back and it’s a no, it’s totally fine to email back thanking them for their time and either giving a short alternative pitch or asking them if there’s a similar idea they’d like you to post on.

This does not mean that you ask them for feedback on your pitch, get upset and say weird things to them, or badger them to reconsider. Remember, people are busy, and nothing will get you mentally blacklisted faster than coming into this process with a sense of entitlement.

A few final do’s and don’ts:

  • Do triple check that you’re sending it to the right person and you’ve spelled their name right. If they have pitching guidelines posted somewhere, follow them. You’d be amazed at how many people ignore them entirely, so if you can get this simple thing right, you’ll have already made yourself stand out.
  • Don’t use hesitant language — anything along the lines of “just”, “I think”, “sorry”, etc. If you struggle with this, this is the plugin for you. And it goes without saying, but don’t have typos in your pitch, don’t pitch something you can’t follow through on, and don’t be a jerk if the answer is no.

So remember:

When hoping to land a guest post on a dream site, start off by figuring out whether you should be pitching at all. Follow any and all guidelines they give you to the letter. Write a concise, convincing email that makes it as easy as possible for them to say yes. Check in if you need to, and don’t take it personally if the answer’s a no — because it might not be a no forever.

P.S. Did you know that One Woman Shop accepts guest posts? It’s just one of the ways you can be featured on the site.

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