Weekly Finds

Welcome to One Woman Shop Weekly Finds - where we members of the community scour the web to bring you a curated list of posts, links, and resources that we they think will help your business—and maybe even your life! This week’s curator: blogger and web designer Desiree Jester.

Take advantage of the Cyber Monday craze, even if you aren’t Amazon! This fantastic podcast from Social Media Today gives you some great steps you can take to make the most of the holiday shopping season and improve your online and social media marketing all year long.

Instagram is my favorite social media platform because it is where you are more likely to see the genuine voice of a brand and where you (as a brand) can connect personally with your followers. Kat from The Gypsy Beard tells you how can you effectively use it for your business in this post.

No pain, no gain. Fear is always seen as a negative emotion, but it can actually help you up your game. Learn how to channel that nervous energy in this post from Abigail Eaton Masters, “Fear as a Gateway to Success.”

Lacy from Ghostblogger shares that our blogs should be a conversation. I love this concept! This article gives us questions to ask to get the conversation flowing and some advice about what to do with the answers you get.

We have all heard of the Pomodoro method, but Trista makes the case for a longer span of devoted work time before a break. This seems to jive much more with me as I hate stopping just when I find the flow of a project, but having the time limit forces me to focus.

Expertise is something that is highly valued when you are an entrepreneur, but what really makes you an expert at something? This post from Rebecca Beaton defines what being an "expert" really means, and how to figure out your expertise.

I firmly believe in realizing that art is not just the painting on the wall or the music on the radio. Art is the result of when a person pours their heart into the task that they are doing regardless of the medium. This short post by The Art of Simple reminds me of that today. Go be an artist!

14 Things We’re Grateful for at One Woman Shop

Today’s a big day in America (and Matagalpa, Nicaragua, if you’re Cristina!) -- one where families and friends gather around for feasts and fun. It’s also a day where we’re reminded to stop and consider the things we’re truly grateful for.

In honor of 2014, here are 14 things we count our blessings for every single day at OWS:

1. Community

…that makes going it alone not so lonely, whatsoever. (We’re lookin’ at you, OWS readers + members!)

2. Organization

...that’s pretty, and way too much fun to play with, like any one of these five planners that we’re still trying to decide between for 2015!

3. Resources and tools

…like HootSuite, Edgar, Boomerang, Google Docs, Click to Tweet, and more that each make our lives as solopreneurs not just more manageable, but totally, utterly enjoyable.

4. Location independence

...which enables us to work from places like a farm in Costa Rica surrounded by howler monkeys, the beautiful mountainous city of Matagalpa, Nicaragua, the fjords of western New Zealand, and even from the bed in the house of a homestay family.

5. Alternative workplaces

...like cafes, libraries, bookstores, coworking spaces, and coffices, for when the home office or your bed just aren’t cutting it.

6. Collaboration

...that allows us to do more than we ever could on our own, like offer insider information via Google Hangouts and create amazing e-courses.

7. Strategies and hacks for increased productivity and better time management

....like batching, the Pomodoro method, productivity porn (we’re looking at you, LifeHacker), and waking up earlier in the morning, even when we’d rather sleep in.

8. Family and friends

...who don’t judge us when we wear the same pajamas for three days in a row, who pretend to care about our MailChimp list stats, and who try to understand why we choose working ridiculous hours on our own to avoid working 40 hours for someone else.

9. Social media

...like Instagram, where solo business owners get to show us a day in their life by carrying the #OneWomanShopBaton, Twitter, where we form business partnerships and IRL (in-real-life!) friends, and Pinterest, the only rabbit hole we don’t mind slipping down. (Helllllo, DIY holiday projects!)

10. Learning sources and experts

...that allow us to keep growing our knowledge base without having to sit through thousand-dollar lectures in a university hall, fighting to keep our eyes open.

11. Choosing our own path

...and taking advantage of the autonomy and flexibility that comes with it, like setting our own schedules, taking mid-day yoga breaks, and working all night if the motivation hits us.

12. Doing it our way (a la Frank)

...recognizing that solopreneurship is not one-size-fits-all and having the freedom and flexibility to do what works for us.

13. Solid Wifi

...because how else can we make Twitter friends, find new productivity hacks, obsessively check our Google Analytics, and grow our solo businesses?!

14. Coffee

...for those mornings-after-late-nights, afternoon slumps, and literally everything in between -- we love you, coffee. Thank you.

One Woman Shops of the world -- what are you grateful for, today and every day?

Get Organized: The 5 Best Planners for Creative Solopreneurs

One of the best parts about being a business owner is choosing a calendar for the new year. After all, who doesn’t love gorgeous new stationary? But we solopreneurs have some unique needs when it comes to planners.

The creative in us wants something that will reflect our brand and make us happy to plan our days. The entrepreneur in us needs a workhorse calendar that will keep us organized while juggling multiple projects -- not to mention family, friends, and the never-ending to-do list.

Whether you’re a designer, copywriter, or life coach, these 5 planners are your best bet for making the most of your business goals in 2015:

1. The Day Designer

Whitney English Day Designer

This popular option by Whitney English has been considered the go-to planner for busy moms, bloggers, and entrepreneurs for several years. Designed specifically to help female entrepreneurs find clarity, achieve their goals, and retain work/life balance, the Day Designer has earned its spot as the darling of solopreneur calendars.

Pros: The strategic vision worksheets at the beginning of the planner encourage you to set your life goals -- and make a plan to achieve them -- for the entire year ahead. They’re a valuable tool to help you live intentionally in every area of your life, not just business.

Cons: Weighing in at more than 2 lbs, the Day Designer definitely isn’t a purse planner. If you’re a lady on the go who needs her calendar along at all times, this might not be your best option.

Best for: Work-at-home solopreneurs, multipassionates, mompreneurs

Price: $59

2. The Simplified Planner

Simplified Planner

Emily Ley’s Simplified Planner is another powerhouse among entrepreneurs. With its daily to-do list and hourly schedule plus space for notes and dinner ideas, this planner is comprehensive, while still living up to its simple name. There are no frills, bells, or whistles to overwhelm or distract a busy solopreneur. Bonus? The cute covers will look great in any home office.

Pros: The Simplified Planner also comes in a weekly edition for solopreneurs who prefer to plan ahead and see the big picture.

Cons: Weekend pages are drastically pared down, leaving little space for the entrepreneur who needs to plan her schedule on Saturdays and Sundays.

Best for: Minimalists, mompreneurs

Price: $58 for the daily edition; $42 for the weekly edition

3. The Passion Planner

Passion Planner

Designed by a college grad searching for direction, the Passion Planner is truly a one-stop shop for managing your life. It has everything from an appointment book and to-do lists to a journal and gratitude log. If you’re searching for a planner that can handle everything (and I mean everything) in your business and personal life, the Passion Planner is your new best friend.

Pros: The appointment calendar is broken into 30-minute increments, making it the perfect tool for the busy entrepreneur who needs to optimize her time.

Cons: The Passion Planner isn’t the cutest option out there. If you’re searching for a planner that reflects your personality and matches your office, this straightforward design isn’t for you.

Best for: Type-A personalities, busy solopreneurs

Price: $25+

4. Plum Paper Planners

Plum Paper planners

Plum Paper is a stationary company focused on personalized, beautiful designs, and it shows in every aspect of their products. Don’t let the pretty covers fool you, though. These planners still have all the tools you need to manage your life and business, including customizable calendar views and blank pages for notes at the beginning and end of each month. They also offer planners that follow the school year in case your kids’ schedule influences your business.

Pros: There are four options for your weekly page view. The super organized can view their days in hourly increments while the more spontaneous solopreneur can plan by morning, afternoon, and evening.

Cons: These planners only offer a weekly view, so if you prefer to focus on one day at a time, this isn’t the planner for you.

Best for: Stylish solopreneurs, mompreneurs

Price: $31 (One Woman Shop members: look for your Plum Paper discount in the weekly member update! Not a member? Learn more!)

5. May Book

May Designs planners

May Designs is a stationary company making a big splash: they were named as one of Oprah’s favorite things for 2014! With fully customizable, monogrammed covers and gorgeous eco-friendly notebooks, it’s easy to see why. You can even go all out and make your company’s logo part of the cover! The planners themselves are simple and functional with a classic monthly and weekly view. The May Books are also available as meal planners, budget trackers, and more for the solopreneur who likes to keep a little space between business and personal.

Pros: May Books are 5x8 in size, making them the hands-down winner for solopreneurs on the move.

Cons: The planner pages don’t offer much space for long to-do lists or extra notes. If your calendar quickly fills up with reminders and notes, you may want to pass on this one.

Best for: Ladies on the go, stylish solopreneurs

Price: $19+

Now that you know your options, you’re all set to get organized and make waves with your business in 2015! Which planner will you choose? Have a different one you love? Please share!

This post contains affiliate links. As always, we only include affiliate links for products + services we think might benefit you. 

Weekly Finds

Welcome to One Woman Shop Weekly Finds - where we members of the community scour the web to bring you a curated list of posts, links, and resources that we they think will help your business—and maybe even your life! This week’s curator: copywriter + editor Sara Frandina.

Ever have that project that NEEDS to get done but you just can't quite get yourself to do it? (Yeah, I might just have a few of those at the moment...) Christine Kane has nine fantastic steps to just getting. it. done.

You're in crisis mode. Burnt out. Just plain tired. Do as Cordelia does: Go Into Energy Saver Mode. Love, love, love this post -- printed it out to keep in a drawer for those days when my brain is turned off and the couch is calling. (This will be especially handy as the holidays approach!)

Still struggling to choose between WordPress and Squarespace? You aren't alone. Listen to this uber-helpful podcast from Website Superhero Natalia before making any snap decisions.

Feeling stuck in your biz? Take it from my good friend Misti: "You CANNOT THINK your business out of a block. You MUST WORK your way out of it." She'll help you get started in her complimentary Biz Therapy Session. I thoroughly encourage you to check it out -- but a quick note: it's not for the faint at heart!

Your request was sent over three days ago and you've been twiddling your thumbs (and perhaps pulling out your hair) ever since. It's time to follow up, friends. Cure your fear of the follow up with this how-to post from Careful Cents contributor Melanie: The Art of the Follow-Up: How to Get a “Yes” Without Being Pushy.

In this post, Erin from In Our Stillness wisely reminds us that "Wellness is personal. It doesn’t have one, universal meaning." Decide what wellness means to you, then live it.

Just for fun: the holidays are fast approaching, which typically means one thing for me -- panic over gift-giving. That's why I was incredibly happy to stumble upon The Thinking Closet's new e-book, "Thinking Outside the Gift Box." Dig in + have fun with these fun ideas!

Sell Your Products Online: Bootstrap an Online Store

Ready to sell products online but too caught up in the day-to-day tasks of marketing and management to build your online store?

We get it. As one-woman businesses, we’ve all been there. Our time is extremely valuable. We don’t have the space in our schedule -- or the skills -- to create an online store, especially when eCommerce is just plain intimidating.

There are a lot of moving parts to e-commerce: confirming secure transactions, solidifying payment methods, sorting out product delivery, and handling customer service, among others.

Overwhelmed yet? Don’t be. While there are plenty of e-commerce platforms you can choose from to build your own online store, I have great news for you: there are fast, affordable, and easy ways to sell your products online without the backend hassle. In fact, you could be selling your products in less than an hour!

Sell Your Digital Products Online

Digital products are one of the easiest and most cost-effective products to create. One of the biggest perks: you don’t have to concern yourself with inventory management. Another perk? There are a variety of digital products you can create. You could:

  • write a how-to eBook
  • create a video tutorial
  • record audio coaching sessions

Those are just a few examples. Selling digital products is a great way to grow your brand’s image and highlight your expertise, while making some extra money.

My suggestion for getting started: in less than an hour of your time (once your product is created), you can create a customized Selz store and start selling your digital masterpieces. Selz’ newest app, StorePro, allows users to create an online store using one of their professional themes. Plus, customers can shop from any tablet or smartphone. Setting up a Selz store is free, and they only charge a small percentage of each sale. One of the best parts about Selz is you don’t need any technical skills. They handle the entire sales process.

See it in action: Sofia Cope sells her Pretty Procrastinator Planner using Selz, which is an undated printable planner designed for busy women.

Pretty Procrastinator Planner Selz

Sell Your Own Line of Merchandise Online

One drawback when creating a line of brand merchandise is the enormous cost of selling it. This includes buying inventory, paying set-up and printing fees, and more. It can cost thousands of dollars, with no guarantee that it will sell, typically making it cost-prohibitive for most solo businesses. However, there’s a solution -- if you’ve got a great design or brand logo, you can create an entire line of merchandise without any upfront costs.

My suggestion for getting started: Zazzle allows users to create an entire line of merchandise, and sell if from your own Zazzle shop. You can customize a variety of products, including t-shirts, paper items, baby products, business items, and pet products. Simply apply your unique design to any product you choose, and Zazzle handles printing, shipping, and the entire sales transaction. Zazzle charges a royalty for each sale, but you don’t have to worry about having leftover inventory or shipping costs. You don’t need any special skills to create a product or set up a Zazzle store. It’s a great choice for any solo business!

See it in action: Artist Melanie Taylor sells hundreds of unique products -- from tote and messenger bags to mugs and iPad cases in her Zazzle store, The Creative Taylor.

Creative Taylor on Zazzle

Take Your Local Shop Online

If you run an offline business, you may not realize you can easily sell your products online. You’ll give your local customers a new way to buy your products, plus you can attract new customers outside your area.

My suggestion for getting started: Square allows users to create a professional online shop for their products. They cater to a variety of businesses, including food & beverage, retail, beauty, and health & fitness. It doesn’t cost anything to create a Square shop, and Square charges a small transaction fee per sale. You don’t need any special skills, and they handle the entire sales transaction. Square also has helpful features for offline businesses, including an appointment feature where customers can book an appointment with you online. Plus, your store will get listed in the Square Market, which may attract new customers.

See it in action: Alison Comfort is the owner of House of Moss, and sells creates miniature woodland-themed felted wool items from her Square store.

House of Moss Square shop

Anyone Can Bootstrap an Online Store!

In all of the above examples, One Woman Shops are selling digital products, merchandise, and physical goods online with no tech skills necessary and very little investment.

You don’t need to invest in inventory, an ecommerce website, or learn coding. You can easily bootstrap an online store by using an eCommerce framework like Zazzle, Selz or Square. For any solo business woman, using one of these platforms takes the risk out of eCommerce - and leaves the overwhelming aspects of selling products online to the experts.

Spend your time focusing on growing your business, and creating products you love. Remember, running a solo business is challenging – but creating an online store doesn’t need to be.

Getting Started with Affiliate Marketing

Curious about how to incorporate affiliate marketing into your solopreneur business strategy? It may be worth your time to explore how affiliate marketing can bring in a bit of passive income to supplement the revenue that your current products and services generate.

Brush up on the basics of affiliate marketing

Essentially, affiliate marketing entails promoting another business' products or services through your existing public platforms, such as your website, your email list, and your social media accounts. In exchange, you receive an agreed-upon percentage of the revenue generated by the sales you inspire. Though having a large audience is generally considered important for success as an affiliate marketer, a small but engaged community can also bring in a steady income stream.

Here's how it works: you post a unique link on your website or other online platforms, people click through to the website of the product or service you're promoting, and, if they make a purchase, you receive a pre-determined percentage of the total sale.

Want more in-depth information on how it works? Here are 17 articles on affiliate marketing that you should read.

Determine your stance on affiliate marketing 

Will you promote only products or services that you have used yourself? Will you consider promoting a service or product that you haven't specifically used but whose creator you trust? Will you promote any product that seems valuable to your audience? There's no right or wrong answer, as long as you openly disclose your experience with the product or service.

We here at One Woman Shop generally promote products and services that we use and love (like BluChic's WordPress themes, Evernote, and HootSuite), but we also occasionally mention products and services that we haven't used but trust because our familiarity with other work from the creator (like Alexis Grant's ebooks and the Small Business Bodyguard).

Brainstorm categories of products and services to promote

What products and services could your client base and those who land on your website benefit from that complement your current offerings? If you offer digital marketing consulting, your community might be interested in social media management tools, website hosting, and WordPress themes.

If you coach busy women, your clients might want resources for eating healthy on the go, reducing stress, and staying fit while traveling (think: cookbooks, a meditation app, and portable exercise equipment).

If you teach photography to beginners, your students might be looking to purchase a DSLR camera, a stylish but sturdy case, and an edition of Photoshop.

Think about the minute-by-minute daily needs of your community, as well as the products and services that you use on a regular basis if you are within your target market- whether it's a food processor, a convertible dress, a coding class, or a productivity e-course.

Find products and services to promote

Now that you have a sense of the kinds of products and services you're interested in showcasing to your community, it's time to find specific affiliate programs to join.

Search the sites of products and services you'd like to promote

Already have an idea of a product or service you'd like to share with your community? Search the website by using this Google search string: websiteurl.com affiliate OR "partner program"

For example: Googling "restored316designs.com affiliate" leads you to a page dedicated to information on their affiliate program

Email business owners that you respect

Can't find mention of an affiliate program on the website of someone you've previously partnered with or benefitted from? Email them to ask if they have an existing affiliate program or might consider an affiliate relationship with you.

Browse affiliate marketing networks

Many companies run their affiliate programs through networks like CJ Affiliate by ConversantShareASale, and E-junkie. These sites have directories of their partners so that you can easily scroll through to find fitting products.

Google it 

Think back to the categories you brainstormed earlier then turn to Google for a bit of help. Google ("affiliate" OR "partner program") AND (keyword related to your industry).

For example: Googling cookware affiliate program brings up several legitimate companies, such as the RachelRayStore.com, Le Creuset, and EmerilStore.com

Ensure that your chosen products and services pass your litmus test

A few questions to ask yourself: will my audience find this genuinely useful? Will my community feel alienated if I promote this product or service? Does this fit into the budget of my audience?

If you're not sure that you can comfortably vouch for the product or service, consider asking for a sample to review or ask the company or business owner if you can send them a list of questions you think your audience might want the answers to.

Stay tuned for more on properly disclosing your affiliate relationships and creative ways to promote products and services that you're an affiliate for!

Five Lessons Learned in my First Six Months as a Freelancer

Recently, I celebrated the six-month anniversary of opening the doors on my freelance writing business. I consider the day my LLC was approved to be my business’ “birthday.” And like any new parent, I have experienced joy and “What the $%#$ am I doing?” moments in equal measure.

Although my experiences in the publishing industry encompass a near-decade, this is the first time I have gone out on my own full-time. I’m sure many of you will agree that starting a chapter as a solopreneur is thrilling, daunting, exciting, testing, freeing, and challenging all at the same time (see emotions described above).

With my fresh perspective of the freelance world, I’d like to share some of the insights and epiphanies I’ve gleaned from my first six months for fellow One Woman Shops to learn from.

1. Learn to love a routine.

Although organization and orderliness is imperative in a freelancer’s career, we freelancers also tend to be a creative lot that thrives on the unexpected. Those unplanned moments are fabulous for inspiration, but leaving a workday to chance won’t always bode well for your business. Start your morning with a daily yoga class. Poach those eggs. Get dressed. Discover the routine that works best for you, and stick to it. Don’t turn on Gilmore Girls and get sucked in. (Cough, I have a friend who does this, cough…)

2. Overcome your fear of self-promotion.

Freelancing requires gumption, patience, and of course, talent. But in today’s digital age, it also requires bragging in the best sense possible. If you won’t talk yourself up, who will? I share my latest published work on Facebook and announce blog posts on Twitter without giving it a second thought (but not to the point of clogging peoples’ feeds). Marketing, especially free marketing, is oxygen to a solopreneur.

3. Don’t rely on coffee alone.

I wasn’t a regular coffee drinker before I started my business, and now I find myself making frequent trips to the Keurig. Coffee is good, but what’s even better is a midday walk in the sunshine with my dog or lighting a peppermint-scented candle. Solopreneurs are famous for burning the midnight oil -- especially when just starting out -- so find your ideal energy boosts.

4. Create an inspiring workspace.

Some freelancers are content to type away at a kitchen table or park themselves at a coffee shop. Personally, I’m all about creating atmosphere, so when I first started my business, I overhauled my home office. And I pretty much did it for free. I made an inspiration board of words, images, and photos. I bought a castoff office cabinet from the local university for $5. I set up an extensive library of publications I plan to pitch to. Now my office says, “Someone successful works here.” (It also might say, “Boy, someone sure likes bright colors.”)

5. Be authentic.

When I began this journey, I knew that my top priority was to be authentic in everything I do. Across my social media channels, website, and my dealings with clients both virtual and in-person, what you see is what you get. Authenticity builds a foundation of trust more than canned words ever will. When you put yourself out there, put your whole self out there -- quirks and all. It will pay off in your career and for you personally as well.

These are a few of the major discoveries I’ve made in the early stages of my journey that I hope can help fellow solopreneurs. I like to think I must be doing something right because this is the happiest I’ve ever been in my professional life. If we were all together in real life right now, this would be the time we would high-five each other and bask in our mutual solopreneur awesomeness.

How To: Gather Testimonials From Past and Current Clients

Testimonials. Raves. Reviews.

Call them what you want, but know that they all boil down to one thing: social proof. Proof from past and current clients that you do what you do as well as you say you do. (How’s that for a mouthful?!)

It’s this social proof that can make or break your solopreneur marketing. Consider when you hire a contractor to work on your home, or are searching for a great new restaurant to take your friend for her birthday: I’m willing to bet that nine times out of ten, you’ll scour a review site to make sure the person or place is as good as their marketing makes them look. Agree?

The same happens when people are searching for the solution you provide. They land on your home page, check out your about page to see who you really are, and maybe hit up your blog to get a better feel for your expertise. But before they hire or buy? They’ll want to read reviews.

That’s why, whether you’re brand new to a side hustle or are a seasoned business owner, it’s incredibly important to collect testimonials and use them effectively on your website and in your marketing. Read on to get started.

Who to collect testimonials from

Consider the services and products you offer. For example, I’m a copywriter. So naturally, I’ll look to my copywriting clients to provide testimonials about my copywriting skills and conversion rates. But, I also provide other ways of helping fellow solopreneurs and One Woman Shops. Each time I offer a service or jump on a “pick my brain” call with a fellow solopreneur, I immediately follow it up with a gentle ask for a testimonial.

This could go on -- if you’ve released an ebook, you’ll want to solicit reviews from readers. If you’ve built and facilitated a course, you’ll want to garner testimonials from participants. You get the idea -- take all of your services and products into account (including what you’d like to offer in the future), and make a list of people who can provide a testimonial for each.

And remember: testimonials don’t have to be limited to your current client base. Keep your past clients in mind when you’re making your list.

Then, it’s time to make the ask.

How to ask for a testimonial

There are two goals when devising your process for testimonial gathering:

1. Make it ridiculously easy for your client.
2. Make it ridiculously easy for you.

Sounds great, right? Here’s how you get there:

Create a template. No matter how many services or products you offer, you can build a few standard templates to be used over and over again. You’ll want certain things out of your testimonials, but remember -- your clients can’t read your mind. That's why it's important to create templates that prompt them for the exact information you’d like. Here’s an example of what mine might look like for my Copy Power Hour:

  • What was the biggest benefit you received from your Copy Power Hour?
  • Based on what you got out of your Copy Power Hour, how will your business’ copy change?
  • Would you recommend the Copy Power Hour to a fellow business owner?

I’m only looking for my testimonials to be about 100-200 words, so I keep my ask to three questions. For you, this might look different.

Templates are a great way to systematize how you ask for testimonials. (Click to tweet this!) Creating a few different templates tailored to your different products and services sets you up for easy asks when the time comes. And the real bonus? It makes it easy on your clients to answer specific questions and provide you feedback.

Load it into an easily replicable form. Once you’ve developed your set of templates, get them set up in an easy-to-share form. For me, that means loading them into Typeform. (I highly recommend it!)

The beauty of using a form generator like Typeform, Wufoo, or Google Forms, is that you can easily link to the form over and over again, and the software will gather the results and generate reports for you. Each time someone fills out a Copy Power Hour testimonial form, I get a beautifully organized email from Typeform with the answers, which I can then copy and paste into a testimonial on my site. Voila -- you’ve just made it easy on yourself.

Save an email draft that you can personalize when the time comes. The final step once your templates are turned into beautiful forms: distribute. Again, the goal here is to keep it simple on your part. To continue with my example, this means saving an email draft in my inbox labeled “Copy Power Hour feedback.” Just a few hours after our session, I’ll send a quick follow up to the client with a summary of our session, and a link to the testimonial form.

For products or services sold on a grander scale, you might have a campaign set up in your email client that automatically goes out once they’ve purchased or completed something. Consider the best process for your biz, and make it happen.

Make testimonials work for your business

Word-of-mouth and referral marketing are the bread and butter of gaining new clients at very little expense. Asking for testimonials means purposefully gathering that word-of-mouth and referral marketing so that you can use it to work for you.

Stay tuned: we’ve got a post coming up soon on how to effectively use the testimonials you’ve gathered throughout your website! For now, make your list of past and current clients, develop your forms, and start making your asks.

One Woman Shop Member Spotlight: Kendra Barnes

One Woman Shop member spotlight - Kendra BarnesWelcome to our One Woman Shop Member Spotlight series, where we highlight what's going on in the businesses and lives of One Woman Shop members. Interested in joining this ambitious group of go-getters? Apply today! Today's Spotlight is on CUTEnCRAFTY founder, Kendra Barnes.

Hi there, Kendra! Tell us about yourself and your business.

Hi! My name is Kendra. I am a wife, daughter, avid thrifter, DIY project enthusiast, and self-proclaimed foodie. By day, I am an International Economist and in my spare time I run CUTEnCRAFTY, LLC.

My company specializes in wedding gifts for the groom, bride and bridal party. My main product is the “Cold Feet” label which is a cute gift that is usually delivered to the groom by the Maid of Honor on the morning of the wedding. It can really put a smile on a groom’s face - which is great to ease those pre-wedding jitters.

What led an International Economist to start a business that specializes in wedding socks? Though I realized during undergrad that I was not passionate about my career track, I continued my education and went on to earn my Master’s … because it seemed like the thing to do. I received a B.S. and M.S. in Agricultural Economics and started working full time for the government. Soon after, I met my husband and we got married two years later.

I made my first “Cold Feet” label ever for my husband for our wedding in April 2013. The morning of, I took my husband’s wedding socks and I made a label for them that read: “Just to make sure you don’t get Cold Feet. With love, from your bride”. I had the “Cold Feet” socks delivered to him by the Maid of Honor. It made for a great photo opportunity, put a smile on his face, AND ensured that he didn’t wear a pair of his holey socks to our wedding!

That fall, my husband was wrapped up in fantasy football three days per week. I started to get bored and wanted a hobby of my own. I had been encouraging my cousin to get on Etsy and sell her products and it hit me - now was the time to act on my craftiness and my desire to explore my entrepreneurial spirit! I spent an entire weekend getting my own Etsy shop up and running… and the rest is history! Since then I have sold over 3,500 pairs of “Cold Feet” socks and other items via Etsy and in three brick and mortar stores in D.C. and Pennsylvania.

I started this business on a whim, and instantly fell in love with entrepreneurship and the creativity it allows me to exercise (while making a little extra money!). I daydream about pursuing entrepreneurship full time but can’t help but wonder if that is the responsible thing to do. Should I leave the stability of a government job to pursue a passion? For now, I am making it work doing both but it may not be sustainable for long, especially since my business is growing so rapidly. Do any of my fellow OWS members have this issue? If so, how are you handling it?

What's your favorite social media platform and why?

Instagram! Most of the business resources that I have come across (including One Woman Shop) have been found through Instagram! I truly believe that it is one of the most powerful forms of social media and has an extremely far reach and broad influence.

What is the #1 lesson you've learned since being in business on your own?

Accept failure, embrace the lessons learned, but don’t get discouraged… growth awaits.

What's your one piece of advice for new solo business owners?

Just do it… take a leap of faith. If I hadn’t stepped out on faith and pursued my dream, the question of “What if?” would have been worse than trying and failing.

Give us a shameless plug for your latest project/product/freebie!

For the past year I’ve only featured gifts for the groom and groomsmen, but I am happy to announce I’ve recently added items for brides and bridesmaids! These champagne labels are such a cute way to ask your BFFs to be bridesmaids, and this coffee mug is great for brides and brides-to-be! More new items to come so stay tuned! I am so happy that you took the time to read my story.

In fact, One Woman Shop ladies, I’m so grateful, I’d like to give you 10% off your order if you shop with me! Just use the code THANKYOU at checkout.

Thanks for taking the time to share your story with us, Kendra!

Did You Fall For This SEO Myth? (And How To Fix It)

My friend Joanne is a successful virtual assistant. Her clients adore her and consistently send her referrals. She was counting on her website to bring in new clients as well, but her site wasn’t seeing much traffic.

When I asked her what she does for search engine optimization (SEO), Joanne said:

“I have no problems with SEO. I come up first when I google my business name.”

Ding, ding, ding. SEO myth alert!

Unfortunately, this is a common conundrum for solopreneurs. And it requires a different mode of thinking.

Potential new clients don’t search for your business name because they don’t know who you are (yet).

What do they search for?

Solutions.

Think about the last time you were online. It’s a pretty safe bet you googled something (that might even be how you ended up here). And if you googled something, you were most likely looking for a solution to a problem.

People visit websites because they’re looking for solutions. Even when they’re playing Candy Crush, they’re solving a problem, like boredom or procrastination.

Let’s say I’m a single mom who runs a business from home. I’m struggling to get everything done before my kids get home from school. I could really use a hand, but don’t want the financial commitment of hiring an employee.

A virtual assistant would be a solution to my problem. It would help me get everything done without having to hire an official employee.

Since I’ve never heard of Joanne, I’m not going to search specifically for her business. So what would I search for instead?

  • virtual assistants in [location]
  • hiring a virtual assistant
  • what to look for in a virtual assistant
  • how to find a virtual assistant

This is where SEO comes in.

SEO is not about showing up first when someone googles your business name. That should happen even if you do nothing to optimize your website for search engines.

SEO is about showing up in google when someone searches for a solution to their problem.

What can Joanne (and you!) do to get found more in Google?

Identify the problems your potential clients are trying to solve. What problems do your side hustle or business solve? Consider what you think they are, and survey current or past clients to find out what they searched for when they found you. Get in the mindset of your ideal client(s) here.

Make a list of phrases they would search for to find solutions to those problems. Based on your own brainstorm as well as survey feedback, construct a list of phrases and keywords that should be strategically used to describe who you are and what you do.

Use those phrases and keywords on your website. Producing great content is the key to pleasing search algorithms, but keyword-stuffing will get you nowhere. Intersperse the phrases and keywords you’ve determined your clients will use strategically, and surround them by valuable, quality content.

By figuring out the problems and solutions her potential clients are searching for, Joanne now has an arsenal of keyword phrases for SEO. She can use those phrases in headlines, sales pages, and blog posts to help potential clients find her online.

Did you fall for this SEO myth as well? Now that you know how people search online, you can fool-proof your website by more effectively optimizing it for search engines.