The Simple Way to Streamline Your Blogging Process

blogging process

blogging process

Blogging can be the bane of a solopreneur’s workday. You know it’s important to share valuable content with your readers, but it kills you to think of spending the majority of your day writing one. single. post.

Luckily, there’s a way to streamline your blogging process, and it all starts with batching. You’ve probably heard of batching: The productivity hack that tells you to spend focused chunks of time on similar tasks instead of cutting up your day with a series of unrelated projects.

You can batch many of your solopreneur tasks, but my favorite is blogging. By nature, blogging requires you to focus on several unrelated tasks: brainstorming, planning, writing, design, formatting, and proofreading. Batching allows you to streamline your blogging process in a way that isn’t possible if you try to take a post from “brainstormed” to “scheduled” all in one day.

It takes time for your brain to move from writing mode to design mode to proofreading mode, but if you batch pieces of your blogging process, you can take advantage of focusing on a single task and shorten the overall time you spend creating content.

All it takes is a little planning ahead and a few smart systems to streamline. I rely on these four systems to shave hours off my blogging process!

1. Capturing and organizing ideas

Ever sit down to write a post and waste an hour on social media because you can’t figure out what to write about? Having a system to capture your blog ideas when they come to you will save tons of time and help you be prepared to write as soon as it’s time to crank out a post.

There are plenty of apps to help you store and organize your blog ideas, including Trello, Asana, and Evernote. Whatever option you choose, be sure your system includes writing down each of these elements when an idea strikes:

  • Possible headline
  • SEO keyword
  • Main ideas for the content
  • A launch, promotion, affiliate offer, or series the post fits into (if applicable)
  • Possible call to action

Just imagine pulling up a note with your latest blog post idea and having all this information already at your fingertips. You’ve practically got a post outline with all the relevant information ready to go!

2. Blog post template

Thanks to the extra details you wrote down when you first had your post idea, you’ve already got the bare bones of your content ready to go. Now you can speed up the writing process by having a blog post template to plug your ideas into.

Most of your posts probably follow a similar pattern, right? It only makes sense to write that pattern out as a copy/paste template for speedy blog writing. You could even streamline further by creating a template for each different type of post you write, such as tutorials, income reports, and lists.

I like to create my templates in Google Docs with full formatting using their built-in headers and subheads. Here’s an example of what a post template might look like for you:

[h1] Headline

Introduction

[Insert blog image]

[h2] Subhead

Main Point 1

Bulleted List

[h2] subhead

Main Point 2

Click-to-Tweet

[h2] subhead

Wrap up

Call to action

3. Blog graphic template

Having a template for your blog images makes it simple to switch out colors or photos, add in your new headline, and have an on-brand graphic ready to go in just a few minutes. Instead of starting from scratch every time, you’ll be able to create consistent, branded images in a snap.

You probably already have a preferred program for creating blog graphics. If not, I’d recommend one that lets you save a template to work from, such as Canva, Pages, or InDesign. Your template will look different depending on which program you use and what your brand looks like. Most brands use a formula to create consistent blog images, such as

stock photo + solid shape overlay + text

or

colored background + border + text

Play around to find the formula that fits your brand and is easy to create with the design template you use. (This resource from the Branded Solopreneur will help if you get stuck, and sometimes, outsourcing the initial template design is easiest.)

4. Social media promotion

One of the most time-consuming parts of blogging happens after a post is published! Unfortunately, it’s not a “write-it-and-they-will-come” scenario, in most cases. Promoting your work on social media is a necessity if you want people to actually read your content, and it doesn’t have to be a huge time-suck.

Creating a system for your social media promotion not only lets you batch-schedule posts in advance, it keeps you from getting lost in your Twitter feed when you should be focused on client work.

Use different scheduling tools for social, to plan out your posts in advance. Here are a few examples:

  • Twitter/Facebook: CoSchedule, Buffer, and Edgar make it easy to schedule posts in advance to several different platforms.
  • Pinterest: Boardbooster and Tailwind are simple options for getting your posts pushed out
  • Later is the perfect way to plan your Instagram posts.

(Bonus tip: Many of these apps work with Zapier and IFTTT to send out automated social media updates each time you publish a new post -- you won’t even have to lift a finger!)

Every solopreneur has preferred tools that work the best for them. Spend some time experimenting until you find your favorites, then set aside one block of time to batch-schedule your social media promotion for the upcoming week. Having a system for this step alone has saved me hours per post!

Ready to streamline your blogging process?

A few smart systems and the magic of batching are all it takes to shave hours off the time you spend blogging each week!

What are your favorite tools and systems for keeping blogging time to a minimum?

8 Best IFTTT Recipes for Solopreneurs

It’s every solopreneur’s dream to do less mundane work so you can focus on the passion projects you truly love. Workflow automation processes like IFTTT recipes make it possible to do just that.

Apps like IFTTT (short for “If This, Then That”) allow you to set up recipes that automatically connect one app to another. You can set recurring tasks to be taken care of automatically, or with the simple push of a button. Think of it as outsourcing your least favorite tasks to robots (and then feel like a genius).

Whether you’re a veteran IFTTT user or you just hopped on board, you might be overwhelmed by the vast number of recipes available. You need your automation workflow to save you time, not distract you while you search for the best recipes!

Try these 8 best IFTTT recipes for solopreneurs to get you started.

IFTTT recipes for social media

1. Add articles saved in Pocket to Buffer

Imagine being able to share quality content with your followers with just the click of a button. That’s exactly what this recipe does for you. Now when you come across an actionable article you know your tribe would love, all you have to do is add it to Pocket, and IFTTT will automatically add it to your Buffer schedule.

Don’t use Buffer? You can also connect Pocket to Asana, Evernote, or Google Drive to quickly gather all those shareworthy articles in one location. Then you or your VA can easily batch your social media sharing for the week in one sitting!

2. Track mentions of a specific hashtag in Google Sheets

Hashtags are a great way to categorize information, but they don’t do you any good if you don’t have an easy way to refer back to them. This IFTTT recipe fixes all that by automatically adding any usage of a specific hashtag on Twitter directly to a Google Spreadsheet.

These are just some of the Twitter hashtags you might want to hang onto for later use:

  • Your brand or product’s custom hashtag (like #OneWomanShopLife!)
  • A Twitter chat that always shares helpful insights or resources
  • A Twitter chat you run yourself
  • A hashtag your dream clients use repeatedly
  • Hashtags prospective clients use to post job listings in your industry

All you have to do is check your spreadsheet to keep up with your favorite hashtags -- and they’ll be saved there forever, so there’s no fear that you’ll lose them in your fast-moving Twitter feed.

3. Share your latest post on LinkedIn

Let’s be honest: LinkedIn is very few people’s favorite social site. But regularly sharing your posts there can go a long way toward landing new clients! Having an active LinkedIn profile shows that you’re invested in your career, and your latest posts will immediately display your skills and expertise to anyone who stumbles upon your profile.

This recipe is the easy way to keep your LinkedIn profile current and your connections up to date on your recent work without your having to lift a finger.

IFTTT recipes for goal tracking

4. Track work hours in Google Drive

Ever wonder how many hours you really put into your solo biz? Most of us are bad at estimating how many hours we work in a week, which is a problem when you need to calculate an accurate hourly rate to base your project fees on.

Logging your time manually can be tedious, but this IFTTT recipe makes it a snap to track your work hours. This recipe doesn’t track the specific task you’re working on, but it can help you notice important patterns in your work day. Most importantly, it will tell you without a doubt how long you spent on the clock on any given day. (Goodbye, 16-hour days! Maybe…)

5. Keep a tally on anything

All solopreneurs have goals both within and outside of their business. This IFTTT recipe lets you keep a tally of anything you choose and store it in Google Drive with the single click of a button. This is a great way to aim for more self-care activities or fewer distractions in your day.

This recipe can help you track almost any goal or activity, but these are some of my favorites:

  • Finishing a glass of water
  • Getting up from your desk to stretch and move around
  • “Quickly checking” social media
  • Switching from one task to another, even if it’s just for a moment
  • Connecting with someone, whether online, in person, or over social media

IFTTT recipes for productivity

6. Add starred emails to Evernote

Evernote is a big player in many solopreneurs’ day-to-day organization. Now you can use it even more efficiently thanks to this IFTTT recipe. Starring emails and then archiving them is the easy way to get your to-do list out of your inbox and into your actual to-do list in Evernote. Inbox zero, here we come!

7. Receive an email for new Craigslist posts that match your criteria

Solopreneurs can use Craigslist to find everything from a great deal on office equipment to supplies to be used in their products. You can even find the occasional client on the Craigslist job board!

Scouring through Craigslist can be time consuming. This recipe takes care of the work for you by emailing you when a new Craigslist post matches your search criteria. So the next time you’re in the market for a used printer, you can wait for the perfect match to find you instead of the other way around!

8. Automatically schedule recurring Trello cards

If you’re regularly using Trello to organize your solo biz, you’ll love this recipe. Most of us have recurring tasks that happen on a daily or weekly basis. Save yourself the time it takes to manually create those Trello cards each week and let IFTTT automatically do the job for you! Any recurring cards will be ready and waiting in your Trello board with no extra work on your plate.

Which IFTTT recipes keep your solo biz up and running?

Did we miss any IFTTT recipes for solopreneurs that you can’t live without? Tell us about your favorites in the comments!

Get Your Legal Ducks in a Row with Small Business Bodyguard

Small Business Bodyguard

Most of us solo entrepreneurs and freelancers are really great at doing our thing, but behind-the-scenes business tasks can throw a wrench into our smooth-running operations.

The worst of those dreaded business chores? Legal issues.

Many entrepreneurs pretend legal considerations don’t exist because they don’t want to deal with lawyers. You’re just designing a logos or selling knitting patterns . . . do you really need to pay an expensive lawyer?

Not necessarily. You do need solid legal advice, but you might not have to shell out thousands of dollars to a business lawyer. Enter: Small Business Bodyguard.

What Small Business Bodyguard is all about

Small Business Bodyguard is a resource for anyone doing business in the US . . . and “doing business” includes everything from selling ebooks or running an Etsy shop to writing a blog that includes the occasional affiliate link.

SBB was created by Rachel Rodgers, a practicing business lawyer and intellectual property expert. She’s on a mission to bring affordable legal protection to entrepreneurs everywhere and in plain (if irreverent) language anyone can understand.

This comprehensive guide covers the most common legal questions entrepreneurs and bloggers are likely to run into, including a handful many people are unaware of! Chapters on setting up your business, recordkeeping, writing contracts that work, and managing your intellectual property do a fantastic job of communicating what you need to know about doing business legally, without giving you a headache from all the tricky lawyer-speak you might hear elsewhere.

The best part? The Small Business Bodyguard includes copy-and-paste templates and scripts for you to use in your own business! You’ll be able to whip your biz into shape in no time with done-for-you contracts, privacy policies, and more.

All this legal goodness is available as a PDF download for $595 (or two payments of $327). Note: that’s a lot cheaper than hiring a traditional business lawyer!

How this real-life entrepreneur uses the Small Business Bodyguard

I grabbed the Small Business Bodyguard for my editing and content marketing business in early 2014. I’d been operating for more than a year without knowing exactly what I was doing legally, and I knew it was time to step up my game.

Since I jumped into the SBB after my business was already up and running, I skimmed over some sections (like how to set up recordkeeping, or deciding which business entity is right for you), but I dove into others headfirst.

The chapters on staying safe and successful in the online world prompted me to finally get my blogging shiz together with a privacy policy and terms and conditions. (Are you blogging without these legal terms publicly posted? If so, you’re breaking the law!) Next, I made sure my contracts were airtight by combining some of the phrasing from the done-for-you contract template into the contract I was already using. Last but not least, I learned about the inner workings of intellectual property and copyright so I’d be prepared when I published my first ebook (and so I didn’t accidentally violate someone else’s copyright!).

I don’t need to look at the SBB as often now that my legal ducks are all in a row, but it still comes in handy from time to time. If someone stole my writing or images or I needed to brush up on the finer points of advertising laws, you can bet that the SBB is the first place I’ll turn. If my business ever reaches the level where I’m ready for personalized legal advice, the SBB has my back with a list of additional legal resources in each state.

How to know if the Small Business Bodyguard is right for you

So, is the Small Business Bodyguard really going to be worth it for your business? It depends. If any of these scenarios sounds like you, getting the SBB is a good bet:

  • Your business operates out of the United States
  • You’re a fairly new or aspiring business owner
  • You’ve never been clear on exactly what’s expected of you legally as a business owner
  • You hold your breath every time you send a contract because you have no idea if it would hold up in court
  • You’re unsure about when it’s okay to use someone else’s writing/photo/recipe/etc. on your own site and how to give proper credit if you do use it
  • You’re producing intellectual property like ebooks or courses with no idea how to protect your products
  • You don’t have time to Google the answers to all your legal questions (or you don’t understand the answers you find)
  • Your legal strategy up until now has involved crossing your fingers and hoping no one sues you

New or established business owners who have been steadfastly ignoring the legal side of business would do well to hear what Rachel Rodgers has to say in the Small Business Bodyguard.

Then again, this resource isn’t for everyone. If this sounds like you, you may want to think twice before buying:

  • Your business operates outside of the United States, or you do business with many international clients
  • You’re an established business owner who has already pieced together a solid plan for your business entity, contracts, copyrights, and recordkeeping and tax paying
  • You run a business that has special legal considerations, such as licensed therapists or accountants
  • There’s no doubt in your mind that your business and website are operating legally
  • You already work with a reputable business lawyer

The information in Small Business Bodyguard is only applicable to the US, so it won’t do much good for international entrepreneurs. And if most of your clients are outside the US, it’s probably best to hire a lawyer with international business experience to make sure you’re complying with laws in those countries especially when it comes to taxes.

SBB is a general primer to doing business legally. If your business is already well established (as in, you know for a fact that you’re rock-solid legally) or your business has special considerations that won’t be addressed in a broad overview, you’re better off getting personalized help from a lawyer in your area.

The bottom line

Lawyers are expensive, but so is getting sued. You don’t want to find yourself on the wrong side of the law (unless you’re totally okay with paying fees, settlements, and overdue taxes).

Every entrepreneur needs to know the legal implications of running a business (even if you think you’re just small potatoes). Ignorance is, unfortunately, no excuse for not running your business according to the laws of the land.

No one is excited about paying for legal counsel, whether it’s thousands of dollars for a business lawyer or $595 for Small Business Bodyguard. But I’ll leave you with one final caution: getting your business set up legally from the get-go is a heck of a lot cheaper than paying for it down the road.

We are affiliates of and may receive commission from sales of Small Business Bodyguard. As always, we only promote products and services that we love and/or think you might benefit from!

How to Build Your Own Conference: A Guide for Solopreneurs

OWS goes back to school

How to Build Your Own Conference: A Guide for Solopreneurs

You already know the value of a good conference. Not only will you gain invaluable insights from expert speakers at your sessions, they’re also a great way to connect with other solopreneurs who could turn into lifelong friends (or business partners!). If you’re like most solopreneurs, you’re itching to go to the conference everyone in your industry is talking about.

Unfortunately, you might not have enough time or money to make it happen.

Travel and hotel expenses, the cost of closing up shop for a few days, and the tickets for the conference itself all add up to a hefty chunk of change. On top of that, most conferences only cover one or two topics. That leaves multi-passionate solopreneurs making tough decisions about which conference will be most worth their while.

Luckily there’s another option for those of us who are eager to learn: build your own conference.

Building your own conference is the perfect option for solopreneurs who are limited by time, location, or money. Affordable online classes make it a snap for you to put together personalized sessions that will help you grow your solo biz.

Here’s your step-by-step guide to creating your own one-of-a-kind conference.

1. Set a conference budget and schedule

Your conference will never be a success if you don’t treat it like it’s a big deal. That means creating a budget and blocking off time in your schedule well in advance.

You’ll save a lot of money by building your own conference, but even a DIY conference comes with costs. Crunch the numbers and decide on your budget before you start signing up for classes.

Once your budget is in place, decide how many days you’ll need to spend away from client work so you can focus on attending your conference. Traditional conferences run from Thursday through Saturday, but maybe you’re at the top of your game on Mondays or you want to dedicate an entire week to your conference.

As soon as your dates are set, notify ongoing clients that you’ll be unavailable those days. Don’t forget to block off that time in your Google calendar or online scheduling software!

2. Choose a theme

Building your own conference allows you to focus on many facets of your multi-passionate business. You no longer have to worry about wasting money on a conference with a narrow focus. But that doesn’t mean you should sign up for any random class that catches your eye. A successful conference will always have a goal.

Decide what you want to accomplish with your conference. Once you know how it will impact your business, you can choose a theme to help you stay on track. For example, maybe your conference theme is to learn how to land more clients. The following classes would all help you achieve that goal:

  • Beyond Social Media: Meeting Your Ideal Client in Real Life
  • Copywriting 101: Connecting with Your Readers
  • Creating a Website that Sells
  • From Blog Reader to Paying Customer in 8 Simple Steps
  • How to Price Your Services (Without Giving Your Clients Sticker Shock)

3. Choose your classes

Now for the fun part! There are plenty of options for affordable classes taught by experienced instructors who know their stuff. Check out these platforms to find classes that match your conference theme and budget.

  • Udemy and CreativeLive each offer both paid and free courses for students at all levels of learning. With a vast catalogue of courses available on demand for each, you’re sure to find a few that fit your needs.
  • Skillshare is the perfect choice for solopreneurs on a budget. Choose from free online access, or take your learning offline with an $8/month premium membership.
  • TED and TEDx Talks live up to their motto “ideas worth spreading.” These educational videos from experts are short and free -- not to mention they cover every topic under the sun. Perfect for the solopreneur on a time crunch!
  • Podcasts are a great way to customize your learning. Podcasts like Being Boss, The Lively Show, Make It Happen, and She Did It Her Way are great starting points for all things solopreneur!
  • Online courses and ebooks designed by fellow creative entrepreneurs are sure to be chock-full of the actionable info you need to level up your solo biz. Check out A Course About Copy from Nikki Elledge Brown, Creative Coaching From Scratch from Regina Anaejionu, or One Woman Shop’s own Building Your Online Community e-course.

Remember to keep your conference theme in mind while browsing class options. If an interesting class or podcast episode doesn’t tie in, put it on the back burner for now. You’ll get more bang for your buck by focusing your energy on a single goal.

4. Build community

Conferences are a great way to connect with other solo biz owners. You don’t have to miss out on networking opportunities just because you’re DIY-ing your conference!

Send a quick email to other solopreneurs to see if anyone else wants to build their own conference alongside you. Even if you take different classes, you can plan to check in with each other on Twitter or Google Hangouts to share what you’re learning.

You can also create a hashtag to document your conference and invite your readers to follow along. (Editor's note: might we suggest #BYOConference?!) Your fans will love to see a blog post, video, or live Periscope recapping everything you learned!

What type of conference will you create to boost your biz? Share it with us in the comments!

[Yet another editor's note] The One Woman Shop Bundle is here! With four OWS-created courses and workbooks, you can create one heck of a conference. Check it out!

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. 

5 Reasons Every Solopreneur Should Write an Ebook

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 Book has 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.

3 Ways Entrepreneurs Can Create Passive Income

As solo business owners, we often feel like there are only two ways for us to make money:

  1. Raise prices
  2. Work more hours

And since most of us can’t charge whatever the heck we want for our products or services, we get stuck in a cycle of working long hours just to give ourselves a raise.

But trading time for money is never going to work to our advantage. The solution? Passive income.

Passive income is anything you can do to make money while you sleep: you put the time in upfront, and your revenue accumulates indefinitely. Here are three ideas for earning passive income no matter what industry you’re in.

1. Sell information products

You see this one happening a lot in the entrepreneur world. We’re talking ebooks, behind-the-scenes guides, cheat sheets, knitting patterns, cookbooks, etc. At first glance, it may not seem profitable. After all, you have to go through all the work of creating the product, which takes time and money.

The trick is to use knowledge that’s so familiar to you, compiling it into a product will hardly feel like work at all. Then you need to price your product so that you can reasonably recoup your costs within a month. After that, it’s all profit!

Ask yourself these questions for ideas:

  • What knowledge do I have that others value?
  • What have I succeeded at that has others wondering what my secret is?
  • What behind-the-scenes process could I let people in on—for a price?

With a little brainstorming, any entrepreneur can develop an information product that will be hard at work earning money while you sip margaritas on the beach.

2. Create an online course

Some online courses require you to be available to facilitate live groups, events, or Q&A webinars, but others are set up to run themselves.

For example, you could use MailChimp, Aweber, or CourseCraft to create an automatic email course (editor's note: like this 16 week productivity e-course!). Your customer pays via PayPal and your email service kicks in with a series of timed auto-responders to deliver them your pre-written content each day, week, etc.

Getting your email lists set up might take a bit of time, but the initial costs to create an e-course are pretty low. Depending on your list size, email service will cost as little as $10 - $20 per month!

Many of the same ideas you thought of for information products can be created as an online course if that’s more appealing to you. Bonus: most people are more willing to pay a premium price for an e-course—even if it includes the exact same info you would have included in an ebook!

3. Run a membership site

Sites like Hope*ologie, The Influence Network, and our very own One Woman Shop are an awesome way to keep money steadily flowing in. With this model, you create a private website that’s only available to subscribers. For a monthly fee, your customers get access to whatever resources, webinars, or community groups you post to the site!

Membership sites require plenty of maintenance and have a higher startup cost, but the reward is loyal subscribers who automatically hand you their hard-earned cash every month. Because customers are forking over a fair amount of dough, you’ll need to make sure you keep your site well-stocked with new goodies each month so they get a reasonable value.

If you’ve got the wherewithal to plan ahead and create amazing resources each month, the profit you’ll see rolling in will more than make up for your efforts!

What are your favorite ways to earn passive income?

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: ebook editor Ashley Brooks.

Most people shy away from anything that makes them leave their comfort zone, but Jessica is reminding us that every new experience is a new opportunity to be inspired. Get out there and try something scary and new!

As one-woman shops, we all know how hard it is to step away from the business for even a few hours, much less a few days. But eventually, a leave of absence for vacation, maternity leave, or a medical situation will come knocking at your door. These 5 tips from Cori will keep your business running smoothly while you take a much-needed break.

We all need a little encouragement from women who have trod the hard road of business before us. This advice from Sara Blakely, founder of Spanx, is sure to put some pep in your day!

Promoting your business without being obnoxious is like walking a tightrope. Ash from The Middle Finger Project reminds us that facts and figures bore people—and what you should do to promote yourself instead.

It's way too easy to get sucked into a cycle of doing whatever your client asks at the expense of your business (and your sanity!). Darling Magazine reminds us to say NO to people-pleasing and take back our lives!

If you're a blogger, you know how hard it can be to come up with new content. Luckily Alexandra Franzen has these amazing writing prompts to unlock new post ideas and general business inspiration!

Routines can be good, but sometimes they hold us back. Nicole shares the time menstrual cramps rocked her world and taught her to stop making excuses by breaking her out of her routine.

One Woman Experiments: The Covey Time Management Matrix

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


We were recently introduced to The Covey Time Management Matrix, which some people swear is hands-down the most effective tool for time management. Ashley Brooks of Brooks Editorial stepped up to test-drive using the matrix. Here are her thoughts and the outcome.

What is your experiment and why?

For nearly a month, I’ve been using the Stephen Covey matrix to determine which work gets done first, and what gets pushed to the back burner.

This productivity system is based on figuring out which tasks are urgent (need immediate attention) and which are important (don’t need to happen right away, but are necessary to achieve your professional goals).

It’s arranged as a graph with four quadrants. These quadrants are:

  1. Tasks with high urgency and high importance
  2. Tasks with low urgency and high importance
  3. Tasks with high urgency and low importance
  4. Tasks with low urgency and low importance

According to Covey, most people get stuck in a pattern of “firefighting” and only focusing on the most urgent tasks. I have to admit, I’m one of those people. By always placing the most urgent work first, I was never able to carve out time to focus on important things like business planning or writing an e-book. I was hopeful that this experiment would help me stay on track with my long-term goals.

Without sounding too much like middle school science class, tell us about your methodology.

At the end of each day, I list everything that’s still on my to-do list for the rest of the week. I decide how urgent and important each task is, then assign it to the quadrant that’s the best fit.

Using my list, I begin every day with high urgency, high importance tasks—like a client project with a looming deadline. From there, I need to evaluate my unimportant, urgent tasks (which Covey refers to as “interruptions”). If they’re not too time-consuming, I’ll take care of them right away. But if they’re bigger than that, I’ll try to reschedule or delegate the job so I can focus on more important tasks. This is also a good time to figure out why it’s so urgent. Is it because I procrastinated, or did I say “yes” to a last-minute request I should’ve turned down?

Questions like these allow me to prioritize the kind of work I take on, especially regarding my overarching business goals. As I made my way down the list, it was easy to focus on one thing at a time instead of being dragged down by the thought of other things that needed to be done.

By the end of the week, I would hopefully have finished all my urgent tasks and left myself time to focus on important goals. The end of the week is also when I would force myself to be honest about the jobs I hadn’t completed: if they’re low urgency and low importance, they probably don’t need to be on my list at all.

For example, I was in the habit of replying to e-mails that didn’t need a response because I thought it was the polite thing to do. I also learned I was spending way too much time on Facebook and LinkedIn discussion groups. Even though they’re work related, I was letting them throw my true priorities off balance.

How did you feel when you adopted the new practice?

It took some getting used to, but the results have been fantastic! I’m able to be more productive without feeling guilty about pushing certain tasks aside for the day. It’s freeing to look at a task that feels urgent and remind yourself it’s not important in the long run. I was motivated to finish urgent tasks quickly since I could see that they were taking time away from more important goals.

E-mail and social media engagement were the two biggies that always fell into that tricky “urgent” category. The matrix provides a nice way to keep everything in perspective: getting my client work done and writing incredible content is more important than being constantly accessible through social media.

What was the toughest/best part of the experiment? Do you think you’ll stick with it?

One of the toughest parts was recognizing that sometimes client work isn’t urgent. It felt weird to be doing business development ahead of a billable project — even when its deadline was still several weeks away. It’s a great reminder that your business is built on more than just client work.

Another tricky issue was realizing that certain tasks consistently showed up as not urgent and not important. Stephen Covey calls these “distractions” and tells us to drop them completely. It’s hard to give yourself permission to take something off your list for good, but it’s so rewarding once it’s gone.

My favorite part of the experiment was giving myself time each week to focus on an important part of my business. Sometimes it was catching up on accounting, reading a business book I’d been meaning to get to, or working on the e-book I’ve been planning forever. Sometimes big business goals seem unattainable, but using the matrix has already brought some of mine much closer to completion.

I don’t know that I’ll continue writing out how urgent/important each task is, but the matrix itself will definitely continue to be part of my business. Now that the system is in my head, I’d like to keep using it as a way to organize my to-do list and vet new projects. Hopefully I’ll use it so much, it’ll become second nature to give important tasks the time they deserve.

Thanks for taking us through your experiment, Ashley! Now, it's your turn: Give the Time Management Matrix a go and share your results in the comments!

3 Ways That Being Picky Can Save Your Business

As entrepreneurs, we’re hardwired to do anything and everything to make our business thrive. Unfortunately, we’re usually overworked and stressed out because of it. Worse yet, our bank accounts often don’t reflect all that hard work.

The good news is, there’s one thing you can do to keep yourself sane and your business thriving: be picky. Why?

It will save you money

Many entrepreneurs are drawn to the latest gadgets and tools to keep their business on the cutting edge of what’s possible. After all, if the big names are using the new technology, it must be good.

But if you choose the wrong tool for you, it’ll all be a waste of money.

Don’t spend a fortune on InfusionSoft if your needs are manageable through cheaper services like Aweber or Mailchimp.

Do your research, and be picky. Evaluate what your needs are before looking for a product or service to meet them. If you keep your actual needs in mind while you search, you’ll be able to compare apples to apples as you investigate what each tool is capable of.

It will save you time

There are some amazing free resources for entrepreneurs. From newsletters and ebooks to webinars and workshops, a lot of useful information is being offered for nothing.

But that’s just the problem: as fun as it can be to gain all that info for free, it’s counterproductive. With each free download you accept, you have one more thing to tend to on your to-do list. Too many free resources can clutter your mental space.

On top of that, many of these information goldmines aren’t applicable to your business. You are not everyone’s target reader. When you accept a free resource from someone who isn’t speaking to you specifically, you’ll begin second-guessing what works in your business. What you learn from one guru will conflict with what another says, and in the end, you’ll feel helpless and stuck.

Don’t sign up for things just because they’re free. Instead, choose resources and webinars that are applicable to your business as it is right now. Pick newsletters that come from a trusted source and provide practical, actionable tips.

It will make it easier to connect with your target audience

Many entrepreneurs attend conferences to keep their ideas fresh and to network. But it’s easy to get sidetracked by signing up for expensive conferences that don’t match your company’s needs.

It may feel like you’re making progress by attending World Domination Summit—after all, that’s where the big bloggers hang out. But take a step back and think about how that conference you’re looking at actually fits in with your business. Going to niche-specific events is usually more beneficial (and cheaper!) than scrambling for tickets to the biggest general conference in the nation.

At a niche-based conference, you’re more likely to run into potential clients, make worthwhile connections with your peers, and glean knowledge that directly relates to the day-to-day work of your business. By being picky and attending the right conference, you can make huge strides toward connecting with your target audience.

Questions to Help You Be Picky

The next time you need to make a decision about how to spend your time or money, use these guiding questions to stay picky and keep your business on track:

    • Am I interested in this product or event based on what it is, or because the popular bloggers are using it?
    • Is there a cheaper option that still meets my needs?
    • Will this fill a specific gap in my business strategy or knowledge, or will it add needless clutter to my life?
    • Am I the target reader for this ebook or webinar?
    • Are my target clients likely to attend this conference?
    • If I attend this conference, will I learn new information that directly benefits my target clients?

I know you want your business to grow, and you’ll do whatever it takes to get there. But it’s impossible to do everything. Spreading yourself too thin won’t grow a business—focus will.

Do yourself and your business a favor and start being picky.