How to Keep Clients Happy While Traveling the World

It's Location Independence Month on One Woman Shop!

Working from a laptop on a beach: the entrepreneurial dream. Straight out of a Corona commercial, this picture often represents the ultimate freedom in business.

Yet most location-independent entrepreneurs will tell you that it doesn’t really work that way. First off, it’s way too hot at the beach to put your Macbook through that. Add water and sand, and you’ve got yourself a disaster waiting to happen. I hope you brought an extra laptop!

In all seriousness, this isn’t what being a digital nomad really looks like. Most entrepreneurs find a cafe or coworking space (with power, wifi and AC!) to get their work done -- and keep clients happy -- before heading to the beach or out sightseeing. Priorities definitely have to be set and kept to live this lifestyle.

While most entrepreneurs who’ve taken on the digital nomad lifestyle know this, their clients might not. Problems can arise when clients think that you are lounging on a beach, 24/7.

I learned this the hard way on a recent trip to South East Asia with Hacker Paradise, when a client thought I would be abandoning her for four months while on an extended holiday. Far from the truth, I learned a few things about how to keep clients happy while traveling:

1. Explain that you are not on vacation

Start by making it very clear to your clients that you are not simply taking an extended vacay. Assure them that this is just remote work, which you are likely already doing anyway.

What most clients care about is knowing that the work is going to get done on time, so reassure them that this remains your number one priority.

If they are still weary of your work ethic on the road, you can try a few things:

  • Share your goals/reasons for being location independent. It may give them a better understanding of your choice to work from anywhere.
  • Tell them about the spaces you plan to work in so they know you really are prioritizing work and you’ve planned ahead.
  • Traveling with other entrepreneurs? Share that information, too. It makes it clear that everyone will be working, not just partying or getting Thai massages.

Most clients will actually be really excited for you and your adventures, so don’t fret about this conversation too much.

2. Set your schedule, but be flexible

Be as firm as possible with your schedule: build a routine you can stick to, and put important work deadlines in your calendar, along with any travel days or activities. This way you can see everything in one place and work backwards from your deadlines to make sure you can get enough work time in to get it done.

That being said, always schedule more time than you think you need. Delayed flights. Last minute trips to see a temple with friends. Power outage. Seven hours at the immigration office to renew your visa. Things come up and you have to be flexible and roll with the punches when you’re traveling.

A good schedule for me was to work from about 9am - after my morning run on the beach - until 1 or 2 in the afternoon. After 2pm, I could go for a swim or go sightseeing for a while and not worry about work because it was already done! Then if I wanted to look at work again before or after dinner, I could.

There will be days when you are going on a day-long trek, or traveling to a new location, and on those days you can expect to not do any work. Use your other activity-free days to make up that lost time if you need to.

This flexibility allows you to satisfy client commitments while still enjoying yourself and your freedom.

3. Make scheduling meetings easy

To avoid back and forth emails, or worse - missed meetings - solve the time zone confusion with an app like YouCanBook.me.

A 12-15 hour time difference makes for awkward meeting times. YouCanBook.me allows you to set your available times so that your clients can go in and book something that works for both of you. No questions and no back and forth emails. It also automatically converts the time zone to wherever you are so no Google searches are required.

If you can, try to set aside one day a week or month, depending on your client needs, where you will wake up extra early or stay up extra late for meetings. It might put a damper on the day, but at least it’s not every day and the structure will make your clients happy.

Get the work done

The best way to keep clients happy while you’re exploring the world is to get the work done. Keep your schedule flexible, be transparent, and work when it’s best for you. Finding your balance might take time, but you’ll get into a groove soon enough.

And don’t forget to enjoy yourself and go on adventures. That is, after all, why you chose this crazy life.

Digital nomad and location independence resources

9 Ways to Prepare Your Location-Independent Business for the Road

It's Location Independence Month on One Woman Shop!

One of the biggest perks of having a location-independent business is, as the name implies, having the freedom to travel with it. Last year was my first time testing this out. It came in a sudden flash: “I could work from anywhere in the world...so why don’t I?”

Inspired by that thought, I decided to travel around South America while working for clients in the U.S. I ended up traveling for almost five months, maintaining my business and clients because of the key preparation before I hit the road.

If you’re thinking about taking your business on the road, here are my top tips to prepare your location-independent business for travel:

1. Tell your clients far in advance

Many people worry what their clients will think when they say they’ll be traveling, especially internationally. While some of my clients were a bit uncomfortable with the idea at first, it ended up working out well for them and for me. First, give your clients a lot of lead time. Tell them at least one month in advance to give them time to warm up to the idea of you being so far away. Second, when you tell them, do not position it as a vacation (because it’s not; you’ll be working!). Here’s what to give them the details of:

  • Where you’ll be
  • How you’ll be contacted
  • Hours you’ll be available
  • How you plan to stay on top of their work, specifically

Expect a lot of questions, and be prepared to reassure them of your commitment to delivering high-quality work.

2. Choose the best ways to stay connected

For texting and data while traveling internationally, the best cell phone carrier out there is T-Mobile. Starting at $50/month, you get unlimited text messaging and data in 120+ countries, and calls are 20 cents per minute.

For calls, you are better off purchasing a Skype subscription (unlimited U.S. and Canada calls start at $2.99/month) plus a Skype Number (a 3-month subscription is $18). This will give you a dedicated phone number for clients to call.

Another option is to use Wi-Fi calling from your cell phone. Make sure your cell phone has this capability. You can connect to Wi-Fi and call people free of charge. A word of caution: I found Wi-Fi calling to be the least reliable, with shoddy audio quality. Stick with Skype if you can.

3. Prepare for mishaps (mostly, prepare to not have Internet)

What would you do if you couldn’t get online? Really think about this because Internet can be very unreliable, especially in certain foreign countries. (And you’d likely be surprised to find out which ones.) Don’t wait until the last minute to finish assignments for a client, as you never know when a bad Internet connection may strike. For me, whenever the Internet was down at my hostel in Peru, I had cafes I knew I could go to for reliable Wi-Fi. I’d walk there and finish my work.

You can also look into getting Wi-Fi extenders to try to catch that faint signal barely being picked up at your hostel. Or you can purchase mobile Wi-Fi hotspots to connect to while you’re on the road.

4. Hire an accountant

Taxes can become tricky, especially if you decide to take up residence in a foreign country. Make sure the accountant you hire is accustomed to working with location-independent businesses and solopreneurs. You’ll want to check that they have an easy and secure way to digitally receive receipts and other documents from you as you travel.

5. Buy travel insurance

This is essential any time you travel. It protects you in the event you need to cancel your trip because of an emergency, or if your laptop gets stolen. Take a careful look at your policy before selecting it, though. Many policies will not cover stolen equipment if it is an item used for business purposes (yes, that could mean the laptop you work from). So read the fine print and call the insurer before purchasing.

6. Get a mailbox and ensure you can get paid while traveling

There are a lot of options here:

  • Have mail picked up by or forwarded to a friend or family member.
  • Rent a P.O. box from the US Postal Service.
  • Rent a mailbox. I rented a mailbox from The UPS Store. They can send text or email notifications when mail arrives, and authorize people to check mail for you.
  • Use a virtual office. Companies like Regus can be your business presence in the U.S. while you are abroad. They can handle mail for you and even serve as receptionists to receive your business calls.
  • Use travelingmailbox.com. Your mail can be sent to one of their centers, where they will scan the envelopes and upload the images to your online mailbox. From there, you can have them open your mail and scan it, forward it, or shred it.

If any of your clients are paying you by check, get them to switch to direct deposit or PayPal. Otherwise, you’ll need to get someone to check your mail and deposit any checks into your bank while you’re gone. Streamline payment to avoid extra steps.

7. Plan a work schedule and stick to it

Yes, we travel to escape routine, but without one, your business will suffer. Even if you’re at some exotic location with tons of sights to see and people to meet, set aside time for your business and stick to your schedule.

8. Learn to work across different time zones

Use an app like everytimezone.com or FIO to make sure you keep track of clients across different time zones. Be open to late-night or early-morning phone calls so the inconvenience doesn’t fall on your clients. (Remember: you can always power nap!)

9. Be transparent and keep communication flowing

The key to working remotely is keeping the lines of communication open and being transparent about the work you’re doing. Maybe that means you send your clients a monthly report of how you spent your time on their projects, Maybe you do a weekly check-in call. Or perhaps you send them relevant metrics every two weeks. Whatever you choose to do, be sure to show them that even though you are traveling, you are still accessible and still focused on the work you’re doing for them.

Packing up your life and business to hit the road is not always as romantic as some may make it sound, but if you follow these nine ways to prepare your location-independent business for travel, it’s definitely an adventure unlike any other.

Digital nomad and location independence resources

Debunking SEO Myths for Solopreneurs

There have been so many changes to search engine algorithms over the years that many businesses aren’t able to keep up. For some, what was once a proven keyword strategy becomes a recipe for disaster after stricter SEO codes are put into place. For instance, websites could once get links using techniques such as directory submissions and comments, among other, spammy (read: sneaky and not well-intentioned) techniques that are now frowned upon by Google. Some of these “black-hat” techniques can now even get you penalized.

If there is some confusion about which search metrics are actually important and which can safely be ignored, it’s not just you. The landscape is constantly changing, and those running the show have control -- we’re looking at you, Google.

Having said that, it’s clear entrepreneurs who understand the role of SEO and how to use it stand to benefit from higher customer loyalty and increased brand recognition. Here’s what you should and shouldn’t be spending your time on.

1. Take click-through rates (CTR) with a grain of salt

Click-through rates refer to the frequency at which users actually click on a given link compared to how often it is viewed.

The goal is to get people to click because they’re having a positive experience on the site. While actual clicks are harder to generate than views, the figures are measurable. Experts agree that views or impressions are virtually impossible to track and monitor; however, there is mounting evidence that the metric is being used as a ranking factor in natural search engine results pages (SERPs). This effectively pushes popular content toward the top of Google.

What this means for you: While click-through rates might mean more to conversion for a solo business owner (encouraging your visitors to take action), they aren’t as important as views when it comes to search ranking. This means you should be trying to get your content in front of as many eyes as possible and should optimize your content to be easily read by visitors. Keep a clean design and be sure your site is mobile friendly.

2. Broad match terms aren’t worth your time

Over the years, keywords have become the focus of best practices in SEO, and business owners are using them to target their online audiences. However, the nature of keywords continues to evolve.

In an article from WebpageFX,  broad match keywords (think: “coffee” instead of “where to find coffee with wifi”) were listed as the first of four SEO metrics that will waste your time, and for good reason.

It’s no longer enough to create broad match keywords for use in pay-per-click ad campaigns or for insertion into blog posts. With the increasing sophistication of search engines and their ability to process queries in ways that a human might, specifics are key.

What this means for you: Make sure the keywords you choose relate to your target audience, are associated with your visitor’s purchase intent (what are they there to do or buy?) and closely resemble what people are typing into search. For example, use detailed keywords like “order running shoes online” or “how to make a green tea smoothie” as opposed to simply “running shoes” or “green tea.”

3. Forget about bounce rates

What is bounce rate, exactly? This is a figure that represents the percentage of single-page sessions on your site (they enter and leave on the same page) and tracks the average time users navigate your pages, factoring in refreshes to avoid a skewed estimate.

In many ways this metric can be said to mirror that of click-through rates, but the most important thing to note is that bounce rates are not considered by search engines in any way, shape or form.

Ultimately, bounce rate is more concerned with the ingrained behaviors of search engine users – such as pogo-sticking -- jumping from listing to listing because the first page doesn’t fit your needs. As such, bounce rates rarely have anything to do with your site’s optimization levels.

What this means for you: All that said, your content should still pass the five-second test. In five seconds, visitors will be able to judge your website and determine whether or not they would like to stick around. In those five seconds, they should be able to effectively determine who you are, what products or services you provide, and what value you can offer them. These things are conveyed through your site’s design and copy. If you can communicate these three elements in five seconds or less, you’re on your way to better conversion and ROI.

4. Always question your conversion rates

Conversion rates are the rate at which users convert, or take the action that you’d like them to take -- whether that be a newsletter signup, a purchase, a download, or something else entirely. Conversion rates are arguably the most important metric you need to consider, as the more people you can get to spend money through your site’s checkout process, the better. The thing is, there are a number of A/B testing success stories that are reinforcing outdated best practices. What’s best for one company may not be best for you, so you shouldn’t always mimic their success stories and hope for the same results.

It’s important to remember that business isn’t one-size-fits-all, especially when they are operating in different industries or provide different products and/or services. To that end, keep conversion rates in mind, but don’t go overboard in pursuit of them.

What this means for you: Depending on what your goal is, you will need to take action to get your visitors to convert more easily. If your goal is to build your online community through newsletter signups, your focus should be on sharing quality content and making sure your readers have an easy way to sign up. Try having a call-to-action (CTA) at the end of each post, directing your readers to a sign-up form. It’s also a good idea to have one, non-intrusive pop-up for a newsletter sign-up, and to only require the essentials. Rather than requiring them to fill out multiple fields, have the form only include name and email address -- or even just the email address. The easier the process is, the more likely they’ll be to convert.

5. Share counts don’t count for much

We all know that social media is the hot topic of the day and there’s a lot of buzz around social sharing. Yet the truth is, it holds very little significance in the grand scheme of your SEO.

There are correlations between the number of shares a website receives and how well it performs, but these figures are too easily inflated, according to McGill University researchers. Their impact is also short-lived, and can’t really influence your ranking for the long-term.

What this means for you: Don’t focus entirely on share counts as a measure of success. Before you can take this metric seriously, you should think about installing powerful analytics tools, provided they’re able to identify and filter out any bots that may be distorting a significant portion of your share counts. (Google Analytics does the majority of this automatically.) Check out the link above to find the tool that’s best suited to you and can help you best track your statistics and use the data to make good choices.

What you can do to improve your business’ SEO

Now that you’re more aware of the pitfalls surrounding some superfluous metrics surrounding SEO practices, you’ll be in a better position to take the necessary steps in growing your business through web traffic and conversions. It takes time to figure out what works for your business and is sustainable for you, solopreneur, but it is certainly worth it.

4 Must-Have Elements to Rock a Location-Independent Routine

It's Location Independence Month on One Woman Shop!

Most of us tend to think of “routine” with a bit of a negative connotation. We start by thinking of all the responsibilities we have to cram into our day - emails, meetings, work, exercising, etc. It sounds monotonous and ordinary, and as a solopreneur, I think we can all agree that we’re anything but ordinary.

In the beginning of our location-independent solopreneur journeys, we rejected routine. We tossed it out the window, replacing it with constant movement, travel, adventure and change. That’s what location independence is all about, isn’t it?

After all, everything we knew about routine had come from previously working corporate and being in school for 16 years. Early morning alarm, breakfast, commute, work, lunch break, work, commute, workout, dinner, sleep…repeat. Routine left us feeling uninspired and tired and frankly - we wanted nothing to do with it.

Fast forward two years later, as two successful location-independent solopreneurs working online and traveling the world. We now not only embrace routine -- we love it. It all started with changing our negative perception of routine with what we now like to call “designing our ideal lifestyle” in each new city or country we travel to.

Why do we need routine as location-independent solopreneurs?

You’ve probably read before that the top productivity experts and entrepreneurs thrive on routine. Is it possible to combine that with the freedom of location independence and being in total control of how you spend your days? Absolutely.

While at home, you’re probably aware of your most productive working hours, the time of the day you’re most likely to hit a slump, where you find inspiration, and your favorite way to relax after a long day.

As a location-independent solopreneur, it is just as important, if not more, to incorporate these aspects into your daily routine in a new country or city. The overwhelm and excitement of a new place can easily hinder your progress in your online business, and routine seeks to prevent that from happening. In fact, routine is the key to not only enjoying your experience abroad, but also becoming as successful as possible in your solopreneur business.

As perpetual travelers, our routine looks a bit different in each city, but overall, integrating a routine is a constant. Through our experience over the past two years, we’ve come up with four key elements you can use to design your ideal lifestyle or “routine” as a location-independent solopreneur. Find them below, along with how we incorporated them into our daily life while we were in Chiang Mai, Thailand.

The elements of a successful routine on the road

1. Work time + work space: Find your most productive work times and work spaces and rock them. Do you thrive in the early morning or late evening? Are you most productive working from home, your favorite local coffee shop or the cool co-working space in your new city? Do you prefer to use techniques like Pomodoro to tackle your work? Building a routine starts with figuring out the schedule and locations that are going to allow you to be as efficient as possible in getting your work done. Once you’ve decided on the best way for you to be the most productive and produce your best work, set your business up to match it.

For us in Chiang Mai, here’s what that looked like:

Work Time: Mornings 8am - 1pm, evenings (if necessary) 7pm - 10pm

Favorite workspaces: A'b Petite Cafe, Kaweh Cafe, Wake up Cafe

2. Healthy habits: Staying healthy looks different for everyone. If it’s about eating healthy, do your research ahead of time and ask locals to find where you can eat well in your new city: shopping at local markets, cooking from home, or choosing healthy restaurants? When it comes to exercise, find your go-to for your preferred activities: safe routes or parks to run through, a studio to practice yoga or pilates, a shop to rent a bike or surfboard. Maybe staying healthy is all about building in 30 minutes of meditation each day. Plan ahead and build these activities into your schedule to make them part of your routine.

For us in Chiang Mai, here’s what that looked like:

Eating Healthy: Salad Concept restaurant, Shopping at local night markets for fresh food

Exercising: Pilates classes

Other: Green Bamboo Massage

3. Social activities: Staying inspired in both business and life, for us, requires a certain level of social engagement. That’s why it’s crucial that it’s part of our routine. Think of different ways you can meet new people in your area: through co-working spaces, meetups, dance classes, and more. This not only plays a big part in your mental health and feeling satisfied with your life on the road, but also can improve your business. When you’re out engaging with new people, you’ll hear about all the amazing things other digital nomads are up to. This not only serves as inspiration -- it might even end up turning into new clients or collaborations.

For us in Chiang Mai, here’s what that looked like:

Meetups: Chiang Mai Digital Nomad Facebook Group, live jazz music night, co-working spaces, coffee shops

4. Trying something new: Incorporate things other than work into your routine that bring you joy! Especially because you’re in a new city, sign up to try something new at least once a week: cooking classes, language lessons, local activities and more. Trying something new pushes you outside of your comfort zone, where you learn things about yourself you didn’t even know existed. When you take risks in your life you’re more likely to take bolder, calculated risks in your business that will result in bigger wins for you.

For us in Chiang Mai, here’s what that looked like: Thai cooking classes, elephant caregivers, explore temples, local night markets etc.

Routine provides the foundation

Designing the routine behind your ideal lifestyle will be anything but boring, ordinary or monotonous!

When you’re constantly on the road as a digital nomad, sometimes the only way to stay sane and satisfy client requirements is to rely on your routine. At the end of the day, it’s all about making the commitment to incorporate these aspects into your “routine” to thrive in your business and life!

If you’re a soon-to-be location independent solopreneur or if you’re already on the road, use our free PDF worksheet at this link to start creating your ideal lifestyle!

Digital nomad and location independence resources

How to Experiment with Location Independence as a Solopreneur

It's Location Independence Month on One Woman Shop!

Imagine waking up to the sound of exotic birds, throwing on a sundress and walking out of your condo straight onto a gorgeous beach. It’s early morning and the only people up yet are the fishermen coming back in with their catch. You yawn, put on your flip flops, grab your bag and head over to the local coffee shop.

In fact, this is the only coffee shop on this tropical island that has a steady wifi connection, and you’re now a regular. From your spot in the corner you are totally rocking your business, working with clients from all over the world.

When the work for the day is done, you wrap up, head back to your cabin, leave your laptop and go for a swim. Other days you head over to the local market, meet up with your friends at the beach bar, head to a yoga class or take the boat back into the mainland to explore the nearby towns.

Then, when you’re starting to feel an inkling to move on, you pack up your backpack, say goodbye to your friends and board the next bus. Somewhere, a new exciting place is waiting for you. A new culture, a new coffee shop, a new group of friends.

A new life.

Does it sound like a dream?

It doesn’t have to be.

If you feel like the thought of becoming location independent is alluring, but scary – let me show you how you can make it happen -- while at the same time limiting risk, fear, and overwhelm.

Experiment your way to freedom

Treat it as a science project

The thing is, you can’t really fail at an experiment. You can only learn and improve. This takes the pressure off! Start by thinking about location independence as if you were a scientist crafting out a research project. What is your hypothesis? How long will you need to experiment for before you can conclude? How much can you scale down while still getting valid results?

Change your mindset

Repeat after me: I. am. not. on. vacation. Say it again: I am not on vacation! This shift in thinking is the most important thing you can do to succeed at location independence. Don’t plan your trip as if you were planning a vacation. In other words: unless you are already swimming in money, stop yourself before you start to imagine your last vacation, just indefinitely. Instead, try to imagine living the same kind of life you are already living now, or even less fancy. It will make the financial side of things much less overwhelming to plan out. Also, stop yourself before you imagine sleeping in, chilling out all day or exploring your new place for hours on end. As a location-independent business owner, you still put in the normal work hours, if not more.

Keep it open

Find a way to experiment with location independence without having to move, cancel your cable or give away your cat. Your regular life is your safety net, and the more you can keep it as normal while you experiment, the less overwhelmed you’ll feel. If you can’t afford to pay double rent, rent out your home or experiment with leaving on multiple shorter trips.

Start small, but not too small

As a scientist planning out the best way to conduct an experiment, you have to figure out the best way to plan everything to increase your chances of getting the right results. This means to find the balance between how long you can take time off from home and how long you need to stay to be able to focus on your work. If your trip is too short, you may not have enough time to really get into the flow – as the first days/weeks in a new place tend to get taken over by excitement and wanderlust. However, if you plan to stay too long, your planning and taking care of everything at home could be much more difficult to navigate.

Go to a place you’ve been before

For your very first experiment with location independence, visit a place you have been before. This way, you’ll be able to experiment and focus on your work without being distracted by a new, overwhelming and exciting place. Anything you can do to “lower the bar” will make your experiment more likely to happen!

Location independence is within reach

Location independence doesn’t have to stay this thing you dream about, but never make happen. By experimenting and starting small, you can overcome the overwhelm and create the lifestyle that you have always dreamed of.

If you were location independent right now, where would you go?

Digital nomad and location independence resources

6 Packing Essentials for Your Next Digital Nomad Adventure

There's nothing better than an extended vacation, am I right? A few extra days in the mountains; on the lake; in the sand to relax. But with work, email, keeping up with Twitter and all the other bits it takes to run a business, sometimes taking time off is easier to do when it’s a few hours a day instead of a few weeks a year.

As newly-minted solopreneurs, my husband and I have been experimenting with extra long road trips that mix fly-fishing with work hours, stops on the water with wifi and giving ourselves a few extra days of exploring to conquer both. We've seen the Smoky Mountains, snacked on Alligator wings in Southern Georgia, climbed the fossil hills of the Badlands, kayaked in one of Puerto Rico's bioluminescent bays and used the wifi at every Starbucks we passed along the way.

With three road trips under our belt since our wedding in March, I've put together a quick list of six digital nomad essentials that have made our road trip life of biz time and break time easier:

1. Pocket-sized notebooks

If you're anything like me, your brain is chugging out genius plans just as your iPhone hits that dreaded "no service" zone. I make sure I bring a notebook to document any brilliant ideas that come to me at the edge of Lake Coeur D'Alene. My favorite notebooks: Moleskine. I particularly like the blank-paged ones and the grid paper: perfect for organized lists of client work and plenty of space to sketch my surroundings. As an illustrator, I never leave home without a Sharpie. For road trips, I pack at least six. (I tend to lose at least a few along the way.)

2. Extra USB cords

We have at least four USB cords for our iPhones to plug into the car charger, the computers, and many budget hotels now offer USB ports in addition to outlets in their rooms. Inevitably one gets left behind. It pays to pack a couple just in case. (Side note: bring. your. computer. charger. They are expensive to replace and oh-so-necessary on the road. I charge my MacBook over night to make sure it's pumped up and ready for my morning work hours.)

3. Yakima Rocketbox

This car topper was a new addition to our road trip chariot (the beloved Hyundai Santa Fe) and let me tell you, it was the very best. When we're on the road we're fishing, exploring, and wandering in Filson pants, t-shirts and, sometimes, waders. On our first extended road trip we packed work bags with our rugged clothes (and camp chairs and fishing rods and snacks) and things got very crowded. The Yakima Rocketbox was a life saver. It allowed us to keep outdoor gear up top, leaving the car feeling a bit more organized. I could quickly grab my work bag when we pulled into a coffee shop, rather than dig through the blankets and tackle box to find my MacBook.

4. Business cards

While you might not always be working on the road, you never know who you might meet along the way. I've exchanged contact information with a business professor I met while dining in Idaho, who just so happens to specialize in entrepreneurial business. I met a super talented calligrapher/barista who dreams of a creative business plan. I still keep in touch with a financial advisor I met in Italy AND illustrated some thank you notes he sent to fellow trip goers. Business cards are key, friends. As key as connecting with the sweet souls you meet along the way. Pack more than you think you'll need. (And I always forget to put a few in my evening clutch. Be sure to stash some in all your bags.)

5. Mini file for receipts

My accountant suggested this to me and it's been a GREAT way to keep tabs on all my potential write-offs on the road. You know those plastic coupon books you've seen to sort the egg discounts from the 2-for-1 cereals? Pack one of those in your glove box. Mark the tabs with key tax categories (i.e.: meals and entertainment, travel, postage, etc.) and stash your receipts accordingly and immediately. This will save you a ton of time come April, especially if you make a habit of labeling the receipts before you file them. Also -- don't forget to do your research on write-offs. That dinner I had with the business professor: it quickly became a write off-able meal as we talked marketing strategy and business planning over marinated cucumbers and garlic bread.

6. Stamps

I never leave home without them, especially postcard stamps. There's nothing better than writing "home" about your trip. I send clients and friends postcards from each city we visit. (And occasionally a note to my husband documenting our day. It's a nice surprise in the mail hold pile when we return.) Pack 20 of them in your wallet and document your adventure. Have a client who mentioned they've always wanted to see Mt. Rushmore? What a thoughtful way to let them know you're still focused on their projects -- send them a quick postcard from below George Washington's chin.

A couple other tips for mixing vacay and work day:

Can’t let these go by the wayside:

  • Let your clients know what's happening. I try to sign my emails with "from the mountains of Montana, LP" or other bits that give clients a window into where we are, but also let them know that I'm accessible.
  • Check with your cell provider before you hit the road and ask about: roaming data limit, turning your phone into a hot spot and about coverage in the states you're visiting.
  • Use your early morning hours as work time if possible. You'll be amazed by how efficiently you can use the first three hours of the day if you know your afternoon is being spent at the Cody, Wyoming rodeo.

We're still learning the digital nomad basics, yes, but with each trip we take, we get a little bit better.

(And honestly, for an artist, seeing beauty on the road inspires all kinds of new work!)

So what are you waiting for? Get out there. Explore. Pack your laptop charger and bring a pen. It'll be worth it.

Digital nomad and location independence resources

7 Sales Tips for Online Entrepreneurs

The marketplace is full of competitors, which can be intimidating when you are starting out on your entrepreneurial journey. This is exactly why it is important to learn how to feel confident selling your products/services. Depending on your personality type, this may come easier for some than for others -- but every solopreneur has to be a saleswoman. So, why not get comfortable with it now and save yourself the headache later?

I have struggled in getting comfortable with everything from pitching, to selling, to pricing. But over time, I’ve learned a few key lessons that make sales more formulaic and less emotional. Here are my top 7 sales tips for online entrepreneurs:

1. Build trust with your audience.

Before you sell anything at all, you should build trust with your customers. Your customers can go anywhere for products, but why should they buy from you? Is your site personal? Are you transparent? Do you give value to your visitors? Or, are you throwing ads in your visitors’ faces as soon as they’re on your site, asking them to buy before they’ve had a chance to get to know you?

People buy because of a feeling more than anything. Give your customers reasons to like you, trust you, and want to buy from you before you even offer them anything. For example, if you send an email newsletter, connect with your subscribers by being open and transparent (like you would with your friends). Create a free, valuable opt-in -- perhaps a free checklist, template, or bundled advice. Find ways to create value without asking for money. After you build trust and your audience likes you and is connected, then you can offer them something for a price.

2. Get your visitors used to clicking links.

If you have a subscriber list, consider including links in your emails. This will get your readers used to clicking and will help them become more receptive to promotional links (a tip I learned from Dan Faggella in episode 159 of Pat Flynn’s Smart Passive Income podcast). Again, keep in mind that you want to build trust first (the email shouldn’t open with an offer to buy your latest product if it’s the first email you’re sending someone).

Instead, draft emails to your subscribers that engage your readers, help them to get to know you, make them trust and like you, and then include links throughout the email to your work, including your latest product. The links can be in the middle of the page or toward the bottom, after you have engaged your readers. In fact, some will argue that you should include just one link in your email -- and that’s fine, too. The point is to get your visitors used to the idea of you providing stuff (some free; others for a price).

3. Use your analytics.

Decide where you want to sell your products by paying attention to your analytics. A good place to start is by looking at your page views. Where are most of your visitors going when they land on your site? If your visitors hang out on your resources page much more often than in your store, then it would be wise to include your products on your resources page.

For me, the most visited page (by far) on my personal finance blog is my store. I know this because of my analytics -- and it’s helped me optimize the page. It would be a shame if I had my products hidden on miscellaneous pages that didn’t make it clear to my visitors where they can spend their money.

Use your analytics (I use Google Webmaster Tools) to help you make intentional choices about where to place your products. For you, it might be a “Start Here” page, a “Work With Me” page, or something entirely different. Once you see trends in how your visitors navigate your site, you can learn how to better optimize it for sales.

4. Pay attention to your brand and your target customer when pricing.

Keep prices in line with your overall brand and your target customers. You pay more at Nordstrom than at Walmart -- but you expect it to be that way. Which brand are you, and are your prices in line with that? There is a market for both Walmart and Nordstrom – you just need to figure out which you are.

Consider your customers, specifically. What types of customers are you targeting? Are you targeting everyone? Females? Female nurses? Female nurses under the age of 30 who have expendable income? Pricing is about the marketplace and it’s about the customer – it is not about you. Be very thoughtful about who your products are best suited for. This will help you be strategic in your pricing and your marketing.

5. Do your market research.

Consider your competitors. Look around and compare what prices competitors are selling similar items for in your niche market. Doing this will give you an idea of what’s already out there and what things are selling for. You can adjust your prices accordingly, or you can completely ignore them if you want to. Generally, it’s smart to stay within what’s considered “market” for what you’re selling because that’s what people are paying, but you might have a good reason to go outside market prices.

For example, maybe all of the online courses that you see for sale include 7-12 modules and are selling for $300-$700. If you have a 20-module course with other extras, you may want to consider pricing your course at $1,000 even though that’s above market for what you’re selling. Regardless of what you decide to do with the information, it’s still better to have the market research and at the very least, have a starting point from which to work.

6. Offer packages with different price points.

Offer packages that give your customers options based on price. This is a lesson I heard on several Smart Passive Income podcast episodes and seems to be widely accepted. Bundle your product into three different priced options ($29.99, $59.99, and $89.99, for example). This allows people with smaller budgets to buy your product while it still gives you the opportunity to earn a lot more from -- and provide more value to -- the people who have more money to spend.

Most people end up buying the middle option (think about it – do you order the cheapest glass of wine on the menu or the second-to-last cheapest?). And quite often, businesses earn the most revenue from the highest-priced item. So, having three packages is a good way to maintain lots of customers and also increase your revenue.

7. Have confidence to sell.

Before you’re convinced that you’re Walmart, I urge you to consider whether you’re actually Walmart or whether you’re Nordstrom that just lacks confidence. It is scary selling products – especially in the beginning (and it is okay to feel this way). Instead of discounting yourself, take a step back and reevaluate your product.

Think about what you’re selling. Think about the value you’re providing to your customers. It’s really important to believe in what you’re selling or you shouldn’t be selling it at all. If you review what you’re selling and you know you are providing tremendous value to your customer, price what your product is worth and not any lower. There is no reason you shouldn’t price high if you’re providing high-end value to your customers.

Start selling, solopreneur

March on and have the confidence to sell, sell, sell. Confidence comes from putting yourself out there through trial, error, and revision -- but you’ll never know if you don’t first try. These steps will get you started. For more specific tactics on gaining confidence selling, I highly recommend To Sell Is Human by Daniel H. Pink and Sell or Be Sold by Grant Cardone.

PS - One of the best ways to cultivate more sales? Building a loyal, engaged community.

How to Create an Opt-In Offer Your Audience Can’t Resist

Create an irresistible opt-in offer

If you’re focused on building your email list, you probably have at least one opt-in offer already. But how well is your offer converting? If the results haven’t been quite as good as you imagined they might be, it could be time to look at your opt-in with fresh eyes.

The mistakes we make with our opt-in offers range far and wide, from offering something your audience doesn’t want or need to being a ‘nice-to-have’ rather than a ‘must-have.’ And in truth, given the sheer number of people offering an opt-in gift in exchange for an email address these days, there’s a lot of clutter to cut through to convince your target audience that what you’re offering is worth their time.

Luckily, there’s a few simple guidelines you can follow to make sure the next opt-in offer you create is one that your audience can’t resist.

1. It solves a problem they’re experiencing right now.

A good opt-in offer identifies an existing problem and offers to (at least partially) solve it right now. The key is to make sure the problem you’re solving is specific and something that requires a solution. This is ultimately what makes your offer valuable.

Once you’ve created an offer that solves a real problem, you need to convince people that your opt-in offer is the real deal (aka it works!). In other words, even though your offer is free, you still need to sell it to your audience. Your audience isn’t giving you money for your opt-in offer but they are giving you perhaps the next best things – their time and space in their inbox. Write your squeeze page copy to position your opt-in offer as the solution to their biggest problem and you’ll be absolutely irresistible.

2. It is highly actionable.

Your opt-in offer should be something your audience can act on. Many people make the mistake of offering something like the first chapter of an eBook without realising it contains little actionable content. Don’t just give your audience something to think about, give them something to do. Great opt-in offers inspire and educate your audience to take action in their life or business. Think about what you could offer that would have your audience scrambling for a pen and paper to take notes and write a to do list! Can’t think of anything actionable you could offer? Try a simple one-page checklist or a two-page workbook to guide them through a difficult task within your expertise.

3. It is consumable within 15 minutes or less.

A short opt-in offer is a good opt-in offer! Most people are time poor and have a relatively short attention span, particularly when they’re online. Make your offer consumable within 15 minutes to ensure it is completed and used. Opt-in offers that are used are going to produce much bigger results for your audience than those that sit unread in an inbox. And results mean they’re much more likely to come back to you for more. Good examples are a five-page eBook or a 10-minute video workshop.

4. It aligns closely with the products and services you offer.

Though it might seem obvious that your opt-in offer should align closely with your product and service offering, this is one that many new business owners get wrong. Your free offer should align closely with your paid offerings, meaning it appeals to the same target market and falls into the same broad topic area. This will ensure that the people you are attracting to your email list are the kind of people who will move on to buy your paid products. (Once you’ve impressed them with what you’re giving away, that is!)

Your next step

By following these four guidelines, you’ll ensure you create an opt-in offer that is enticing, actionable, highly valuable and leads people to your paid products. If you have an opt-in offer already, consider whether it meets these four criteria. If you don’t have one yet, it’s time to get to work.

Need a nudge to get your opt-in going and strengthen your community? The One Woman Shop Building Your Online Community e-course is here! Click on the image below to learn more.

Building Your Online Community

3 Effortless Steps to Infuse Personality Into Your Brand

Absorbed. Connected. Engaged.

These are three things we all want our audience to feel when they read our website.

And the way to allow them to feel all of this? It comes down to your brand personality: the words you use, the images you share and the colours that tie it all together.

But what if, when it comes to personality, your website just… falls short?

Read on. Here, I’ll go into the detail of pinpointing exactly what your brand personality is, and how to use it effectively to attract, engage and connect.

1. Know your audience

Your brand will stand for nothing if it doesn’t connect with your audience.

Which is why it’s important to understand who they are, so you can tailor your messaging to them specifically.

Here’s an exercise that’ll help you understand them:

  1. Look at all the interactions you have with your audience: blog post comments, emails, social media interactions, call notes, etc.
  2. Go to sites your audience engages with that you might not (think forums like reddit.com, news sites, other sites in your niche) and make a list of the questions they ask, advice they want, struggles they detail.
  3. Write down what personality traits you notice, their profession, demographics, etc.

To organize your findings, create a spreadsheet with the following headings and copy and paste the relevant text you found in the steps above into each section:

  1. Problem/Struggles - What specific issues are they writing about? (for example, I don’t know how to start a Facebook group; Creating a header for my website’s a nightmare! or I have too many business ideas and don’t know which one to choose!)
  2. Desired solutions - Note those sentences that start with phrases like:  I want help with …, I really want someone to…, I wish I could…
  3. Service or post ideas - Using the text in the above two sections, write all the ideas you now have for services you could offer, or posts you could write, that help solve the problems your audience is struggling with.
  4. Demographic - In this section, write any details you find about their personalities/lives - age, location, cultural interests - anything that helps you define which demographic categories the majority of your audience falls into.

For your copy, the table you populated above is a goldmine of ideas. What patterns do you notice in the kinds of struggles they discuss? What pain points have you identified that you can you address as part of headlines, opening lines or sales copy? Also, what ideas do you have for blog posts, services and products as a result?

2. Simplify the complex

Your personality is yours and yours alone, but it’s never simple. With a personality (and history) that’s complex, how do you simplify this down to core messages that represent your brand and resonate with your target audience you’ve worked so hard to get to know?

The key to brand consistency is to repeat certain, relevant messages, so they stick in the minds of your audience and become associated with you and your brand.

You don’t have to share every detail. To figure out which parts of your personality are significant to share (and worthy of repetition), answer these questions:

  • What life experiences connect you with others? What difficulties have you experienced, and what risks have you taken (or not taken)?
  • What are your beliefs? What do you stand for?
  • What are your cultural influences?

Decide which stories/anecdotes are part of your bigger message, and most significant to the audience you most want to connect with. Start including these in your marketing messages.

From there, pinpoint your brand vocabulary down even further by paying attention to the words you use in your everyday communication. Try this exercise:

Keep a notebook (or app like Evernote) with you for a week and notice the words you use. Which ones do you use repeatedly? Which ones feel satisfying to say?

Jot these down.

Next, take a page on your website, or a blog post you’ve written, and edit it with the words and stories you noted. Slowly edit your work over time, and infuse your brand vocabulary into new work you create. Over time, with enough repetition of these words, your brand personality will start to shine.

Here are some examples where personality branding with consistent messaging and vocabulary works swimmingly:

Ashley Ambirge: Talks about life in Costa Rica and her experiences as an entrepreneur with a sarcastic and ever-entertaining tone. This connects her to her audience who are entrepreneurs (or aspiring to be) that enjoy the freedom that travel brings and the snarkiness of someone who tells it like it is. Her consistent message: smart businesses don’t do boring.

Danielle LaPorte: Her social media and blog updates consistently mention her spiritual side, her dog and her son. Is it a coincidence that her audience have these things in common with her? I think not. Her consistent message: it all gets back to desire.

Ramit Sethi: His audience largely consists of 20-30 year old men, so Ramit references his college scholarship applications, the bi-coastal life he lives and the fun he’s having in New York. His audience both relates to his past and wants his present to be their future. His consistent message: I will teach you to be rich.

How will you use the significant pieces of who you are to build consistency in your messaging and connect with your tribe? (Editor’s note: All three of these examples ended up on our 100 Best Sites for Solopreneurs list for a reason!)

3. Try something different

If writing isn’t your thing, find what medium is.

Whether it’s videos, podcasting, infographics, photos – find something that both you and your audience are comfortable with, that genuinely reflects your personality.

To discover which medium works best for your business, try these ideas:

  • Are you confident on camera? Rather than writing your blog posts, or having a PDF download for a teaching document, record videos instead. Don’t worry about “wowing” with technology in the beginning - get some videos out there and see how your audience reacts.
  • Do you interview experts as part of your business? Record the interviews and offer replays using voice alone - but don’t hesitate to offer the transcript for those who prefer to read.
  • Change text documents to infographics to appeal to visual learners.

What other interests do you have that you can bring into your business? For example, if you’re into photography but your business is unrelated, use your own photographs with text overlays as images on your site. It beats paying for them, amIright?

Being creative takes the limits away from how you present your material.

Branding takes less investment than you may think...

We often look at personality-driven brands and assume some huge branding exercise went into creating the brand we see today. While that is, indeed, sometimes the case, to create a brand around your personality doesn’t always require that level of investment. In fact, what the owners of brands like Ash Ambirge, Danielle LaPorte, and Ramit Sethi have done is decided to use their unique selling point - themselves - to differentiate their brands in the market.

In turn? This has meant their audience is always absorbed, connected and engaged.

Now, I’m curious: What aspects of your personality do you infuse in your writing to attract the kind of audience you most want to engage? Tell me below.

Motivation is a Solopreneur’s Worst Enemy

After checking your email on your iPhone for any emergencies, you finally decide to crawl out of bed and start the coffee. While the coffee pot steams and sputters, you’re opening up your laptop for another day of solopreneurial bliss. You pour yourself that first cup and begrudgingly sit down to officially start your morning.

For one reason or another, you are just not feeling “it” this morning. Perhaps if you check your email again, something in there will motivate you to get to work. You delete two or three junk emails, reply to one message real quick, mark all the other client messages as new so you can respond to them later when you’re fully caffeinated. Then you promise yourself that you will also get back to the dozen or so newsletters that you’ve not read yet later because surely there is information inside that you absolutely need. Maybe it’s just too early.

Email feels overwhelming, so you move over the Facebook. Much more fun. You post a few comments here and there until you stumble upon a genius quote that inspires you. It’s so good that you just have to share it. But what to do with it? Should you share it on your personal Facebook timeline? Or maybe create a graphic for Pinterest? Ooh yes! And then you could put the graphic on Instagram and then link it to Facebook and Twitter. Yeah. That’s what you do. It’s so pretty!

Dammit. Coffee got cold. Time for a refill.

Okay. It’s been almost an hour since you got out of bed and you’re still not feeling motivated. After beating yourself up for what you haven’t done yet, you finally bust out your to-do list and ask yourself a seriously dangerous question: what do I feel like doing?

Why Motivation Sucks

If the scenario above resonates for you, then you are probably using motivation as your go-to productivity strategy - and it’s the worst strategy imaginable. This is where you hope that some external pressure (read: motivation) will come along and prod you into action. While it does feel good, motivation is completely unreliable. Motivation relies on your emotions and your emotions are constantly changing. And as a solopreneur, you simply do not have the luxury of waiting to feel working on your top priorities.

You need to get shit done! Immediately, if not sooner.

Want to radically upgrade your day-to-day productivity? Here’s the big secret:

Ditch motivation and choose tenacity (aka willpower) instead.

Here are three tenacity tips to help you get started:

1. Stop Learning

When we become solopreneurs, the first thing we do is become students of all things entrepreneurship. How many ebooks and bootcamps and programs and infoproducts on entrepreneurship have you purchased?

Now, how many of these programs have you actually implemented?

This stuff is inspiring and motivating and oh-so-easy to buy into. I get it. But most of these things end up in a dusty folder on your desktop.

Enough already! Stop buying new programs and downloading new opt-ins. Implement all you’ve already learned from the dusty ones. You know more than you think you do.

2. Launch a Consistent Activities Plan

Most solopreneurs I know work in constant project-mode, moving from one project or launch to the next with little happening on a consistent basis.

To stoke your tenacity, build and execute a solid Consistent Activities Plan. Develop a list of things you need to do daily, weekly, biweekly, monthly, and quarterly to grow and upgrade your business. These are not things you want to do when inspiration strikes; these are hard and fast commitments that you will do whether you feel like it or not.

3. Build in Solid Accountability

When you work in a job-job, there is accountability around every corner. You’ve got bosses and coworkers and sometimes even your bosses’ bosses with defined expectations and clear deadlines. When you run a solo biz, all that built-in accountability is gone and it becomes far too easy to let yourself off the hook.

Add some serious accountability into your life by drawing on the strengths and support of others. This may mean hiring a business coach, joining a mastermind group, working with an accountabilibuddy, or a combination of the three. More than just personal cheerleaders, accountability partners are there to track your progress, keep you inspired, and ensure that you don’t quit. Perhaps you don’t need a whole team of people - like mine - and just one person will do. Everyone could use someone to push them along towards their short-term goals.

Let go of your need for motivation and choose to do something that propels you forward today - starting right this minute - whether you feel like it or not.