Welcome to Tools We Love, where we highlight some of the tools that make us more efficient, productive, and effective in our businesses. Have a tool that you want to share with the community? Email us!
The online world can be overwhelming. Each day, we discover or are introduced to at least one new blog or website that we vow to keep tabs on, because we know it can serve as a resource for bettering our businesses or personal lives.
So it doesn’t take long to become overloaded, keeping at least 15 tabs open in a Chrome browser at all times, and having 10-15 newsletters flood your inbox per day. Sustainable? Not if you want to stay sane.
RSS feeds to the rescue
There’s an answer to the overwhelm: using an RSS feed reader. Back in the day (okay, just last year), the answer likely would’ve been Google Reader, but once Google nixed that service — to the panic of many-a-solopreneur — a knight in shining armor took its place: Feedly.
What is Feedly?
Feedly, founded in 2008, is a news aggregator application where you can search for the news sites, online magazines, and blogs that you don’t want to miss a beat of.
It’s ridiculously simple to add new content to your Feedly — simply paste the URL of the website or blog and Feedly will locate it, or you can use its search function and find the source by name. Once you’ve loaded your must-follow sites into Feedly, organization is easy. For the Type-A personalities out there (heck, I’m one of them!), being able to organize and sort by categories is a dream come true.
When it comes time to view and read, not only does Feedly easily aggregate updates, but it does so cleanly, with three options for viewing.
Personally, I use the Titles View most frequently, but each of the views are clean and intuitive, and the options are easy to toggle between.
While Feedly provides an in-depth tutorial on the mechanics of using the site, what One Woman Shop solopreneurs really need to know is how it can be used to better their productivity and business. Here are three ways it can do just that:
1. Content marketing + social media: By following news, your favorite blogs, or inspirational resources, your Feedly becomes a goldmine of posts to share via your social outlets and garner ideas from for your own content marketing and blogging. You can even share directly from Feedly, though I don’t often use this option, as I prefer to generate my own bit.ly links for tracking purposes.
2. Create a content library: Use Feedly’s “Save For Later” option to easily bookmark posts that you want to keep track of. This comes especially in handy if you’re a common curator of posts like One Woman Shop’s Weekly Finds.
3. Curate content + resources for clients: As a blogger and ghostwriter for several different companies, I find my Feedly invaluable to aggregating news, trends, and resources for each company I write for. I work with clients to find the best sources, do research on my own, then load them into a new category in Feedly. When it comes time to brainstorm topic ideas or find resources for posts, I have one place to go.
4. Consistent learning + updates: By cataloguing the news and blogs you want to keep track of most, you’re guaranteeing educational reading and consistent updates on your industry. It’s yet another way to satiate the need for perpetual learning, and a great way to keep in touch with what’s going on around your online space.
Feedly on the go
For the on-the-go solopreneur, there’s the free app for both iPhone and Android. And we promise you this — the mobile app is just as good as the desktop version.
Even the Google Reader fanatics agree — Feedly is an amazing tool, with a clean design, and an intuitive app to help you keep up on news and blogs from anywhere. It’s certainly our go-to, and after one day of set up, we’re confident you’ll find it to be yours, too.
As solopreneurs, we’re constantly on the lookout for ways to keep business booming. But a simple downside of solopreneurship is just that: you’re solo. And while you might think of yourself as Superwoman, in reality, you can’t do it all. So if you could create one product that would actively promote your business and services, increase your credibility, and start a passive income stream, you’d do it, right?
That’s where writing an ebook comes in. Every solopreneur out there could benefit from writing one, and you’re no exception. Here are my top five reasons writing an ebook could make your business boom:
1. Ebooks Build Your Audience
Launching an ebook forces you to go past your comfort zone and promote your work to people outside your usual circles. If you’ve been hesitant about self-promotion, having a quality ebook that will genuinely help people is a great way to introduce yourself to new markets without feeling pushy.
You can expand the reach of your new contacts even farther by including a simple Click to Tweet code throughout your book. This makes it easy for readers who are loving your ideas to spread the word!
2. Ebooks Promote Your Other Products/Services
There’s nothing like a little cross-promotion to boost your other products or services. The pricetag on your premium services might make new customers hesitate, but an accessibly-priced ebook gives them the perfect place to enter your sales funnel.
Think about what your customers need to know or do before they’re ready for your premium services. Give them that beginning information in your ebook—along with reminders that your other offerings are ready and waiting to help them.
3. Ebooks Enhance Your Credibility
It takes a lot of hard work to write a book, which is why having your name on the cover of your own ebook gives you a boost in credibility. There are a lot of people out there who want to write a book, but only a fraction of them actually take action and make it happen.
By writing an ebook, you’re showing prospective clients that you have the initiative and follow-through to get things done. With qualities like that, who wouldn’t want you on their team?
4. Ebooks Can Land You Speaking Engagements
Organizations look for speakers who are motivated, inspirational, and experts on their topic. By writing a book, you’ve already proven that you’re an expert in your field—it’s hard to write an entire book if you don’t know anything about your subject matter!
Your book also shows organizations that you know how to connect with and inspire an audience. No one wants to listen to someone who rambles without giving their audience what they need. As an author, you’ll already have proven that your ideas are well worth paying attention to.
5. Ebooks Earn Passive Income
Unless offering your ebook for free is part of your marketing strategy, you’ll be bringing in passive income with minimal effort. Since all the work of writing and publishing is done up front, you’ll be free to sit back and enjoy your passive income stream. (Just make sure you have an ongoing marketing plan so your book doesn’t fall off the radar!)
Writing a ebook isn’t easy, by any means. It takes hard work, time, and sincere dedication. But it’s ultimately rewarding. Ready to write an ebook for your business? My new e-guide Typing Away: Your Roadmap to Writing a Bookhas 25 resources and printables to make writing your book pain free. With an easy writing strategy to keep you on track, you can focus on running your business and having a life — all while writing your ebook.
Launching is a buzzword in entrepreneurial circles. It seems like everyone is launching something these days. Your colleagues are launching a website, a podcast, an online course, or a start-up.
Maybe you’ve even heard they are launching a launch! (Okay, too far?)
But what does it really mean to launch something? And should you buy into the launch mentality?
A launch is an “all-hands-on-board-let’s-get-this-puppy-off-the-ground” approach to getting something new out of your cradle and into the world. It’s about telling the story of a new product or service, then distributing that story in as many ways as possible.
If you’ve poured time into building something new, ask yourself a few questions before choosing to soft launch (release it into the world without much fanfare) or go big with your launch strategy:
1) Do I have a new product or service I want potential clients to know about?
To launch effectively, you MUST have something worth talking about. There’s a saying in the journalism business: “if it’s not new, it’s not news.” The same applies to your launch.
Get creative and find a new story regarding your product or service, a new way of packaging it or a way of enhancing it to freshen it up.
2) Do I have the emotional and financial support to invest in a large undertaking?
Launching involves an emotional and financial investment. If there’s already a significant amount of things going on in your business and life, it’s smart to wait until you have space to really focus on your launch. Be patient and don’t put pressure on yourself. Financially, if your budget is already stretched, running a large-scale, effective launch will be tough.
Depending on your strategy, you’ll want to have the funds to buy more product, hire that extra team member or handle any problems that come up – without going into debt.
3) Do I have systems in place to take advantage of this opportunity?
Every successful launch creates new opportunities for your business. Are you positioned to take advantage of these opportunities?
For example, you’ll want to make sure your email client is set up with an opt-in and auto responders for anyone who jumps on board with your launch. In addition, clear your schedule to give yourself time to be available for sales calls, interviews or Q&A’s. Have a post-launch plan in place to follow up with new and potential clients and keep the momentum when the official launch is over.
Launching isn’t for everyone.
A big push like this takes a lot out of any entrepreneur. It involves long hours, a few tears and many, many decisions. You need to be organized in advance with a plan. No one can launch alone (even a one-woman shop). You need to mobilize friends, family and your entrepreneurial colleagues to support you in getting the word out about your launch.
Successful launches, though…
…can yield fantastic results. There’s a buzz about launches for a reason. With a launch, you have the potential to build your list, generate more sales, and position yourself as an expert. All of which helps you in the short (and long) term for your business.
We often catch ourselves thinking that Google is always the answer. But it’s not- and here’s why that’s a good thing for you and your solo business.
It’s true that pretty much every question can be answered on Google (in fact, we just talked about our love of Googling the other day). Googling “How do I set up email reminders for myself” pops up Boomerang, Memo to Me, NudgeMail, and several other relevant email management tools.
Googling “how to pair boots with a dress” results in tons of advice from Harper’s Bazaar, MSN, SheKnows, and many others about how to wear boots with dresses.
Googling “how to integrate MailChimp with Google Analytics” shows some pretty handy tutorials on how to do just that.
So, yes, all of these answers are on Google- but what if your target client or customer had no idea that there were external add-ons to help them manage their email? Or that pairing boots with dresses was a cute option? Or that you could connect MailChimp and Google Analytics to get more advanced data?
Then they wouldn’t be Googling those things. But if you’re in front of them telling them about these things, they’re going to more likely to follow you, trust you, and hopefully even hire you when they need someone who specializes in productivity and systems, a wardrobe stylist, or an SEO expert.
Keep that in mind next time you feel like your content creation or curation is all for nothing.
If you’ve made a commitment to blog regularly- in order to strengthen your personal brand, attract more clients, or establish yourself as a thought leader in your industry, perhaps- but you’re having trouble coming up with things to write about, we have some quick and easy ideas to help you generate blog post topics.
Email friends, family, and current clients and ask them their top questions about your industry
Read a leading industry resource. If you agree with a point, write a post about it. If you disagree, write a post about it
Search a hashtag related to your industry on Twitter and see what questions people are asking
Any time someone emails you a question, turn your email response into a blog post
Search Quora for topics related to your work; write responses to these discussions or questions
Use Google’s Keyword Planner to find related keywords for your industry; write a post addressing the topics you find
Brainstorm a list of upcoming holidays and tie them back to your business- for example, May Designs might write a post about May Day (because of their name) or Earth Day (because of their environmentally-friendly product
Play off upcoming pop culture events or entertainment events- like the premiere of 24, the finale of Scandal, or the Superbowl)
Look through your old posts and see if there are any points that you missed or could expand on. Consider writing a Part II
Guest blog posting is a popular marketing tactic for increasing awareness of your business.
There is a lot of great things about guest posting, especially if you are in a build stage of your business, as it can help increase site traffic, drive subscribers to your email list and position you as an expert on issues related to your business.
You know you should be doing guest posts, but the question is how to actually make it happen in your business. Let’s face it. Guest posting is only one marketing activity, and marketing is only one part of running your business. As a one woman shop, there is a whole load of things to get done every single day.
Creating a 90-Day Plan for Your Guest Posting
As the saying goes, failure to plan is planning to fail- and guest posting is no exception. Start by creating a 90-day plan for your guest posting program that establishes:
The goal for your guest posting program. It could be a certain number of posts or a percentage increase in traffic to your site.
Your specific stories and themes for guest posting. Too often people start by deciding on a place to guest post, when they should really take the time to get clear on what stories they should be sharing. What issues in your niche need to be addressed? What things can you take a stand on?
The target audience for your guest posting efforts. Get really clear on your audience and where they hang out. This will help you determine targets for guest posting and keep you focused.
Putting these pieces in place will help make a major difference as you get started as you will be able to avoid shiny object syndrome. Consider guest posting in the context of your other marketing/sales activities and how it can support or leverage what you are already planning. For example, if you have a new service you’ll be offering, guest posting on topics related to that would be a great fit.
Creating Systems for Guest Posting
Once you have a plan, the next step is to operationalize your guest posting. By creating systems to support your efforts, it will help make the most of the time you spend on guest posting.
Specific systems to support guest posting may include:
An electronic folder with all of your assets for pitching guest posting including different versions of your two-line bio, your headshot, copies of your pitches and more.
A tracking sheet with all of the opportunities you identify and all of your activities such as when you sent pitches, when you followed up, and when your articles are submitted.
A pitch template to help you shortcut writing pitches (editor’s note: we love using Gmail’s Canned Responses for this).
Email folders or labels to track all correspondences related to guest posting.
Practical Tips for Keeping Guest Posting Going
Guest posting should be a year-round part of your marketing and publicity strategy, not just something you do when you have a launch coming up.
Over time, your enthusiasm for guest posting may wane or other things may start to feel more urgent. The true power of guest posting does not come from a single article but from you building up a body of work as an expert.
To keep guest posting going, first and foremost, be realistic. Map out a plan to pitch things in waves so you don’t become overwhelmed with writing, editing and submitting posts.
If possible, break down your 90-day plan into monthly and then weekly activities so you can set aside a block of time every week for guest posting. One week you may spend time on research, the next week on writing/sending pitches and the other on writing posts you’ve secured.
Finally, team up with a friend or colleague if you can to share resources and lend each other support. Brainstorming story ideas, researching or proof reading can be much more effective when there is two of you involved.
Guest posting offers a great way to get you and your business in front of new audiences and build your credibility but you need to make a priority in your business. By creating a plan and systems for guest posting, you’ll be well on your way to success.