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!

3 Pricing Strategies to Make Money (and What to Consider to Make the Best Decision)

As business owners you want to make money and get paid (right?)...but most solopreneurs don’t take the time to back up to confirm that their pricing strategy has them set up to make money.

Which means oftentimes, there’s a better option.

And it’s worth looking into, when a better pricing strategy means you get paid more or more consistently so you can make those adventure plans happen, enjoy friend dates to the movies, go camping with the family and/or buy that new ‘thing’ you’ve been lusting after.

In this post, I’m digging into the most common pricing strategies: retainer, project, and hourly pricing; peeling back the layers of each one to understand the pros and cons, keys to success and views from the client side.

Let’s get started.

Pricing strategy #1: Retainer-based pricing

A retainer is a pre-set fee for a set period of time. The fee holds a set number of hours to do work during a specific period. Retainers generally don’t specify the type of work to be done. Virtual assistants, graphic designers, and website maintenance professionals frequently use a monthly retainer for a set number of hours.

Examples:

  • Virtual Assistant: 10 hours a month, $200
  • Graphic Designer: 5 hours a month, $300

Pros, as a biz owner:

  • You can predict your hours
  • You can rely on steady income
  • You can work with clients consistently and build longer term relationships

Cons, as a biz owner:

  • Multiple clients may all request use of their hours at the same time
  • Vacation, illness and time away coverage is essential since your time has been committed and paid in advance
  • Projects may require more hours than the retainer covers since clients may be uncertain what projects would be needed or how long it takes
  • Without proper planning, you may not know what type of projects you’ll be asked to do can lead to projects outside your expertise

View from the client side:

  • Great for routine activities
  • Predictable monthly expenses
  • Use or lose: may not use all the hours purchased

Key to success with retainer-based pricing:

  • Set clear guidelines on how you’ll work together and your work hours (which may not include email requests at midnight or phone calls at 7am). This avoids clients who expect you to be ‘on call’ for those hours they’ve purchased.

Pricing Strategy #2: Project-based pricing

Project-based pricing: a pre-set fee for a specific product or package with a defined set of components. This pricing strategy is based on delivering an agreed-upon result regardless of hours or costs it takes to do the work.

Examples:

  • Squarespace website set up with four page layouts, $1,500
  • E-course content development with 10 lessons, 5 worksheets and 3 videos, $997

Pros, as a biz owner:

  • Ideal for routine types of projects when you can easily calculate the time required
  • Increases ability to predict income
  • Incentive to minimize your time, be efficient and still deliver a quality result

Cons, as a biz owner:

  • Difficult to estimate pricing if you haven’t completed enough similar projects
  • Have to manage client expectations for elements not included in the defined project (scope creep)
  • Projects may take longer than you estimated, which means less profit for you

View from the client side:

  • Easy to know and plan for the project cost
  • Lack of transparency to the level of effort required for the project
  • Project definition may not exactly align with what they need

Keys to success with project-based pricing:

  • Be diligent in defining what’s including and not included in the project and how requests outside the definition will be handled
  • Don’t be afraid to iterate your packages with what you learn each time you do the project

Pricing strategy #3: Hourly pricing

While perhaps not the most advantageous, hourly pricing is by far the easiest to implement and is, from my experience, the most commonly used pricing strategy. Hourly pricing is simply the price charged for each hour of work.

Pros, as a biz owner:

  • Easiest to use
  • Increases likelihood of being paid for all the hours you work (if you estimate well in your proposal)
  • Great approach if you haven’t done many projects
  • Easiest for managing time off

Cons, as a biz owner:

  • No incentive to be efficient with your time
  • Requires you to work a set amount of hours to reach your revenue goal
  • Difficult to incorporate value as part of price

View from the client side:

  • Most transparent pricing
  • Easiest to compare between competitors
  • May not get most efficient work from you

Keys to success with hourly pricing:

  • Ability to provide a solid estimate of the time required for a project
  • Clarity on what’s included in the scope of work for the time and price and how requests beyond the scope will be managed

Choosing your pricing strategy

What makes the most sense for your business where you’re at today? Consider your ideal clients, your specialty, and the results you can deliver. Know yourself and your ability to estimate time. Give your ideal clients the best opportunity to say yes(!) to working with you.

But perhaps most important to know is this: You don’t have to pick only one pricing strategy. Offering a combination approach may make the most sense for you and your client. Have a routine set of activities you offer? Consider project-based pricing, with hourly pricing for additional, ad-hoc requests. For highly customized and tailored services, retainer and hourly rates may be ideal. Offer a retainer package of hours then add in hourly rates for unexpected needs.

(What you should charge for your services is a separate and super important topic, too. Be sure you understand both your pricing strategy and what you should charge, because they go together like wine and chocolate or peanut butter and jelly. Yum.)

The easier you can make pricing for your clients, the easier it will be for them to say yes. It makes it easier for you too, so you can spend less time on preparing proposals and talking about pricing, and more time doing the work and growing your business.

PS: Want even more on pricing? Rebecca Tracey’s Get Paid (How to Price Your Services + Programs) e-course will be in this year’s Solopreneur Success Bundle! Head over to the Bundle page + sign up to get notified when it launches in September.

The 5-Step UX Process That Helps Solopreneurs Craft Sell-Out Service Packages

As a one-woman shop, I know how frustrating it can be to develop your service packages. When you have so many aspects of running your business that are constantly vying for your attention, it’s easy to bundle up your offerings and call it a day.

But, as time passes, you find that you’re not bringing in as many clients as you’d hoped. So you tweak your offerings or your prices, trying to find that sweet spot.

This is the trial-and-error method of packaging services that so many solopreneur use -- and it’s time to put an end to it. I’ve got some (good) news for you: There’s a better way.

In user experience design (UX), there’s a process for developing a viable product that I’ve found useful for developing packaged services as well. UX isn’t just for start-ups and techy people; it’s a set of practical processes for how to best serve your users (and turn browsers into buyers).

The product/package development process consists of five steps:

  1. Customer validation
  2. Problem validation
  3. Concept validation
  4. Experience validation
  5. Technical validation

That’s a lot of validation. Let’s break down each step.

1. Customer validation

It starts with an idea. You have an idea about a problem that your target client has and an idea about who that target client is. During the customer validation phase, you make sure that both the target client and the problem exist. This can be done by what UX designers term “contextual observation,” but I like to think of it as “listen-only mode”.

When you’re in listen-only mode, that means you’re visiting relevant Facebook groups, Twitter chats, or forums to listen for what problems your target audience is facing. I say “listen-only” because you’re not there to self-promote, network, or even answer questions. At this point, you’re just observing that the problem exists for a certain person or group of people.

2. Product validation

Once you’ve validated that your expected problem exists for your target customer, it’s time for the product validation stage. The title of this one can be a little misleading, because you’re not actually introducing a solution to the problem yet (no, this is not when you beta test).

What you’re looking for in this stage is to learn the extent of your target client’s problem and her willingness to solve it. What products or services is she currently using to solve this problem? If she hasn’t purchased any solutions, what other means is she using to alleviate that pain? A couple of UX tools you can use at this stage are diary studies and customer interviews.

Diary studies are pretty cool, because you’re able to get the first-person language of your client during the moments when they’re experiencing the problem. During a diary study, you gather a small group of participants and ask them to write briefly about what they’re experiencing at certain defined times (these can be scheduled times or triggered by certain events, such as “write a few sentences in your journal whenever you get stuck when working on your website”). The participants should do this for 5-7 days and you could collect the responses digitally (in a Google doc or form) to make it easier for you to analyze.

Customer interviews are self-explanatory, but not to be confused by surveys. It’s best to speak face-to-face, via Skype, or over the phone. When you interview customers, here are some good questions to ask:

  • “Tell me about a time when you experience [your problem]?"
  • “Why was it hard?"
  • “How did you solve it?"

Remember, you can always ask “why?” to get deeper into the reasons behind their responses.

3. Concept validation

Now that you’ve got a thorough understanding of your target client, her problem, and the current solution she’s using, it’s time for concept validation. In this third stage of product development, you generate your conceptual solution (your service package). It’s important that you don’t let yourself get bogged down in all the details right now, because you’re only testing the concept.

To determine viability of your package concept, you essentially pre-launch it. Set up a landing page for your service and start directing traffic to it (this can be through social media campaigns, webinars, or targeted advertisements). Basically, you want to make sure that your service package is going to sell before you get into all the nitty-gritty of designing it.

4. Experience validation

The fourth step in the process is experience validation, which means that, after you sell your service package, you continue to make adjustments based on client feedback. This can be gathered in client surveys, emails, or from informal conversations. At this stage, you know that you have a viable package, but you can continue to improve it by making minor tweaks to better suit your clients’ needs.

5. Technical validation

The final stage, technical validation, isn’t as relevant in this case, but should still be considered. It’s more about making sure that all the bugs are worked out of your process and no tech glitches get in the way. Go through your own “run-of-show,” from the moment a potential client finds out about your service to the actual purchase, to the service itself, and the final sign off on the work. The idea is to test all your systems throughout the process to ensure a seamless client experience.

Using UX principles to design your service packages

The UX industry likes to put technical terms on everything, but it’s more than just jargon; it’s really an intuitive process of gathering relevant data and developing a solution in a way that limits your risk of failure. The idea is not simply to create a service package based on what you can do, but based on what problem you can solve for the person you most want to work with.

Which is something we all want to do as service-based solopreneurs, am I right?

PS -- A foolproof method for beta testing your packages and a free preview of Hey, Nice Package!

Why I Chose the Location-Independent Life — and 4 Ways To Dip Your Toes In, Too

How To Use Your Offline Travel Time Productively For Your Business

How To Use Your Offline Travel Time Productively For Your Business

Location, location, location. It’s not just an expression used by real estate agents. It’s something you might want to give some serious thought to.

Three years ago on a particularly rainy day, I was sitting on the train doing my normal one-hour commute to work and I was thinking about the meaning of life. Cue existentialism central.

I was working crazy hours as a city lawyer in London (I once arrived in the office on a Monday and left on a Thursday -- no joke) and I was starting to think that maybe, just maybe, this was all some horrible joke. In the time it took me to finish my latte I made two very important decisions:

  1. Since, by the age of 28, I had still not decided what the purpose of my life was, I decided to make the purpose of my life a life of purpose. It’s not as circular as it sounds. It just means that I’ve decided to do a lot of living and learning.
  2. If my life was going to be a joke then I should be the one laughing. End of story.

So, with nothing even resembling a plan, I headed straight to my senior partner’s office.

And no, I did not quit my job. I know that’s probably what you were expecting to hear, so this is a good time to explain that I’m adventurous...not impulsive. Sure, some people just quit their job and fully commit to their new goals in a sink or swim sort of fashion. I prefer testing the waters.

First step: new location. And that’s what I asked for. An assignment to a different office (in Dubai, as it happened). That first step lead to another (a roadtrip through Oman where the idea and the first sketches of Tibba App was created), which lead to another (finding partners and building the app). A year later, the app was built and launched in Dubai -- and it will very soon be available in London and the wider world.

It started with a small step, not a giant leap into the unknown, but I had to start somewhere -- and that starting point was a new location. The growth will come from many, many more locations.

I decided to live a life of purpose, and becoming location independent is helping me do that. Here are four ways I recommend dipping your toes into the location-independent life, yourself:

1. Start with the purpose and work backwards

Why are you running your own business or looking to create one? Money and financial freedom is a very good answer to this question. So is adventure, lifestyle design, independence, freedom or anything else that you feel passionate about. Whatever it is, really think about where you are best placed to make this happen.

2. Don’t assume you have to live in Bali. What other options are there?

Have you ever researched the living costs in other places? Could you maybe save a small fortune by living in Barcelona instead of London? It’s really not that far, the cost of a flight is super cheap (£25 or so) and the cost of living is a fraction of London prices. You don’t have to live in digital nomad havens like Bali to be location independent and get the same benefits. Check out places closer to home that would allow you to maintain regular meetings with co-workers or clients, but that provide your preferred weather and cost advantages.

3. Trade skills, not bills

I might be slightly bias here since this is what my company, Tibba, does but trading skills instead of bills makes a huge difference to your cashflow. If you’re a photographer, why not trade your skills for everything from free yoga lessons at a local studio to help with your website from a SEO specialist. Work smart. This is often easier in digital nomad hubs and remote coworking spaces as everyone is already doing it, but we’re hoping to bring it to the wider market. What would you do if you didn’t have to pay for everything?

4. Outsource

The cost of hiring a freelancer varies dramatically in different countries. And if you’re actually in the same place as the person you’re outsourcing to (be it Poland, Buenos Aires or Manila) they can effectively become part of your team. The biggest frustration with outsourcing is miscommunication. The odds of successful communication increases drastically if you’re actually working in the same place (even if it’s just for a short while). Posting a job advertisement (in English) on Craigslist in whichever city you’re visiting will get you applicants that speak English (helpful), and you have the benefit of actually working with this person for a period of time. The difference in efficiency is massive compared to training someone over emails or the phone.

Determine your purpose, then get out and pursue it

It’s not all or nothing -- and going after the location-independent life doesn’t have to be hard. Know your purpose, then find ways to start small while you fully explore the adventure.

Digital nomad and location independence resources

5 Challenges of Being a Digital Nomad (And How I Overcame Them)

How To Use Your Offline Travel Time Productively For Your Business

How To Use Your Offline Travel Time Productively For Your Business

The benefits of being a digital nomad are well publicized and are what draw so many to this lifestyle in the first place. What’s harder to talk about, and what often gets glossed over, are the very real obstacles you will encounter along the way.

It’s been more than three years since I started my location-independent business and I’ve seen my fair share of highs and lows. Below are the top digital nomad challenges I’ve faced, and the exact solutions I found to overcome them.

1. Friends and family not understanding how I could be "at work" when I’m not in an office.

Of all the challenges I’ve faced, this one hurts the most on a personal level. People mistakenly believe my life is an endless vacation. Whenever I travel abroad, whether it's Peru or France, someone asks if they can join me for extended stays. While I’d love to see them, the fact of the matter is I’m working. Asking to stay with a digital nomad for an extended period of time and expecting them to host you is basically like barging into an employee’s office in the middle of a workday. You wouldn’t do that to a friend who works a desk job, would you?

Solution: Set boundaries -- and stick to them!

I find it’s best to let go of the expectation that your relatives or even your best friend will ever understand your digital nomad lifestyle. Even so, it is important to set boundaries with them. Make it clear when you are at work and when you are not. If they want to join you on your travels, make sure they’re okay with exploring the city on their own while you work, or ask them to visit you on weekends (if those are the days you have off).

It’s been hard handling this because I don’t like to hurt people’s feelings, but even when I’ve had friends join me in a foreign place, I let them know when I have a deadline, and then I go do my work in a separate place (usually a local coffee shop). They can go exploring, and we meet up later. Those who truly love you will respect your boundaries and your work.

2. Not having a stable address.

Digital nomads love to say they have no set address -- but that simply can’t be true. You have to have an address. It's required to pay taxes, it's required for your ID cards, and it's definitely required for any business!

Solution: Pick a city to use as your home base, and open up a private or virtual mailbox there.

Since I move so much, I opened a private mailbox with The UPS Store in my home base, San Francisco. Employees will email you notifications whenever you receive mail. You can also authorize people to pick up mail for you.

Alternatively, you can use a virtual mailbox like TravelingMailbox.com. They’ll scan all your mail so you can access it online from anywhere in the world. I haven’t used them myself, but I’ve heard good things.

3. Feeling lonely.

I'm an introvert and a solo traveler; I do really well alone. So I was shocked when I found myself feeling depressed after I quit my desk job. Without the constant interaction with my coworkers and the supervision of my manager, I felt down and unmotivated.

Solutions:

Join online entrepreneur communities. Ones I recommend: One Woman Shop (of course!) and Blog + Biz BFFs.

Ask a fellow business owner to be your accountability partner. It is crucial to have a confidante who is also a business owner; they can understand you on a level that friends and family can’t. I have a “business bestie” who’s also a solopreneur, and we check in via video chat every Friday for one hour. This has done wonders for my productivity and sanity. She holds me accountable and offers advice that others simply wouldn’t know how to give!

For fun, try Meetup.com. When I was feeling lonely in Paris, I went to a Spanish conversation Meetup. It was great to connect with locals and expats while also practicing my Spanish skills!

4. Juggling travel and work.

Constant travel can undermine your personal and business health. Many of us live this lifestyle because we dread routine, yet routine is essential to productivity. Each time you travel to a new location, you’re having to find the stable wi-fi connection, where to live, where to buy groceries, and more. If you’re constantly changing locations, your mental energy will be spent on making sense of your surroundings, and there won’t be much left to focus on your business.

Solution: Travel slowly.

This is why I’m an advocate of slow travel. I stayed in Cusco, Peru, for four and a half months. This allowed me to rent an apartment, set up my own wi-fi, and work as needed. I stayed in Paris for five weeks, also renting my own apartment and settling into a routine. Now I’m based out of San Francisco and spend most of my time here. Being location independent doesn’t mean you have to change locations every day. Go with what works best for you.

5. Feeling burnt out.

As a location-independent solopreneur, work life can sometimes overlap with personal life to the point I can’t even distinguish between the two. This becomes especially problematic while traveling. My hotel room, airplane seat, or restaurant table becomes my office, and it can be hard to switch out of “work mode” and enjoy my surroundings.

Solution: Take a real vacation!

As an employee, you’re given vacation days. As a solopreneur, you have to give yourself the vacation days! It’s so easy to forget, especially because you’re the sole person responsible for your business, but taking a vacation is crucial to recharge your batteries and come back to work refreshed and productive.

Though I'd traveled a lot since starting my business in 2013, I didn't take a real vacation (you know, the kind where you don't do any work) until late 2015! I was so caught up in making sure I was growing my business that I neglected my personal well-being.

Before taking my vacation, I wrote an email to all my clients one month in advance, explaining that I would be on vacation (it’s important you use that actual word!) and would be unavailable for one week. I told them if there was anything urgent, they could send me an email with “urgent” in the subject line. A few days before I left, I sent them a reminder email going over what they could expect from me while I was away. I then had a friend check my inbox daily and let me know if there were any urgent emails (you can also hire a virtual assistant for this). At the end of that week, I felt amazing and was able to be more creative and productive with my clients! Vacation does wonders.

I hope sharing my lessons learned as a digital nomad will help others going through similar challenges. Whenever you find yourself struggling, just remember why you began. Being location independent is not easy, but it affords you the freedom to work from anywhere, call your own shots, and explore the world -- something most people only dream about. For me, it is definitely worth it!

Digital nomad and location independence resources

How To Use Your Offline Travel Time Productively For Your Business

How To Use Your Offline Travel Time Productively For Your Business

How To Use Your Offline Travel Time Productively For Your Business

I run not just one, but two online businesses. Yet I spend a lot of time offline on airplanes and expedition ships, and I take road trips frequently. It might seem strange for someone who makes their living online to constantly espouse the importance of consistency in being offline for stretches of time...but it’s quite the blessing in disguise.

Because being online all the time can distract you from tapping into some serious creativity.

Rather than seeing my offline time as time that I’m away from my business, I treat it as my creative getaway time to write, write, write, or to generate ideas without all the noise of the internet getting in the way.

Here’s how I leverage my offline time best:

Prepare for offline time

Making the most of your time offline means preparing for it before it happens. Here are a few ways I recommend you do that:

1. Clear enough space on your smartphone to capture some voice recordings and/or photos if the opportunity comes up and inspiration strikes.

2. Make sure you have the right software/apps on your phone and/or laptop so you can do some distraction-free work offline (see the apps section below for my recommendations) or go old school and have a journal at hand for your journey.

3. If you’ve already written up outlines or brainstorms for your business (or have other materials, like emails, that you need to reference), make sure you’ve synced them from wherever they are onto your laptop hard drive and can access them during your offline time.

4. Pay extra attention that you have all the chargers and adaptors you need for your electronics. I keep all of mine in one large pencil-case style holder in my laptop bag. I also have a multi-adaptor for working in different countries and a tiny portable battery pack so I can recharge my iPhone twice if I’m remote for a few days.

Enjoy distraction-free writing

During your time offline, write like your life depends on it.

Being on trains or planes or in automobiles is hands down where I get the most writing done. It's easy to be lazy and stare out the window or watch movies. But sister, plug in those earphones and write like your life depends on it. It can be blog post content, detailed to-do lists, the framework for your next course, random Facebook rants you want to share on a topic that's important to you...just write.

Hash it out, verbally

If you're traveling with a partner or friend, talk through concepts, projects, or ideas that you've been incubating. I often talk through blog post ideas or even course content with my husband while on road trips, and not only do I get clearer on the language I want to use, but he asks me great questions for clarification.

I’ve come up with some of my most powerful creative ideas and content during a verbal brainstorm. It helps if the person you’re hashing things out with isn’t an online entrepreneur, because they can give you an unbiased perspective. Take notes as you go (Richard Branson does this on his hand) or, even better, record it with your smartphone and transcribe the good bits later on.

Strategically re-enter the online sphere

It’s all-too-easy to write drafts or capture ideas while offline and then come back to have them languish out of sight and out of mind. Don’t let this happen! If you’ve written some great stuff, use Google Keep to set yourself a to-do related to each specific piece. (More on Google Keep, below.) Maybe it’s a blog post you want to polish up, or a chapter of your next book you’ve drafted that needs an edit. Set a due date and reminder to hold yourself accountable for following up and getting it out into the world.

On another note, got photos of magnificence you want to share? Instagram doesn’t always have to be instant. Go ahead and post some images for us to see or batch schedule an “offline series” through Later so that your followers feel like they’ve come along on the journey with you.

Apps I use and love

Here are the apps I use to make the above possible, and why they're awesome:

  • Dragon Dictate - I love Dragon Dictate because it transcribes my recordings for me, saving a lot of time. It’s a one-time, upfront investment but it’ll pay off for years if you’re the type of person who likes to think out loud.
  • Evernote - Evernote is everything to me. I keep blog post ideas, recipes, resources I plan on referencing, household budget stuff, and everything you can imagine in there. It’s such a great repository because you can add the web clipper to your browser and clip items from the internet into Evernote for later reference. What?! Awesome. I even write my blog posts in Evernote and then use the Share function to send them to my virtual assistant.
  • Later (formerly Latergramme) - I love Later because while I usually use Instagram in real time, I have oodles of great images from years past that I want to use for my brand’s visual storytelling. I spend a couple of hours each month loading those images into Later and scheduling them out for the month, so that my content is varied.
  • Google Keep - For someone like me, who’s online then offline then online and offline again, I desperately needed a place where I could keep to-do’s that would auto-sync in the cloud with my other devices. Google Keep is fantastic and it’s more dynamic than a simple to-do list. You can set reminders, add images or files to the to-do, and even color code the to-do item. It’s just cool. Try it. (Editor’s note: Asana makes a great alternative, as well.)

And now, for a final alternative: Don't do anything related to your business

For real. Sometimes, I decide to completely unplug and read things that feed my creative and critical brain, like re-reading one of Russell Brand's autobiographies or listening to This American Life. A great lesson I’ve learned in my six years as a content creator is that the more great quality content you consume, the better a content creator you’ll become.

How do you leverage your offline time best? I’d love to hear your additions to my list.

Digital nomad and location independence resources

How to Make Long-Distance (Business) Relationships Work

How to Make Long-Distance (Business) Relationships Work

How to Make Long-Distance (Business) Relationships Work

Ahhh, long distance relationships.

They start out so full of hope and enthusiasm – but all that sizzle can quickly fizzle.

The phone calls become texts, the texts become emails…and before you know it, your communication has been reduced to a “Happy Birthday” one-liner on your Facebook wall once a year.

That’s because long distance relationships -- personal and professional -- take work.

But cultivating and nurturing a network of clients, peers, mentors, media contacts and other influencers that you can take with you anywhere is well worth the effort.

If you and your business are hitting the road, here are some ideas for keeping your long distance relationships fresh and fun.

Set up video call dates

It’s Friday, the sun is setting on your oh-so-dreamy destination, and there’s a Pink Starburst cocktail with your name on it. Why not take it international by inviting an online friend to join you via video call?

An after-work drink or coffee date over Skype or FaceTime is the ultimate way to connect with someone new or touch base with an old friend from a distance. Yes, video calls do require a little more effort than email or social media (getting out of your pajamas, for one), but they’re as close to an in-person meetup as you can get when that’s just not possible.

Tech Tip: Arrange your video calls using a free scheduling tool such as Acuity or Calendly to avoid time zone confusion.

Bust a cheerleading move

No matter where you’re from, chances are you’ve watched enough American teen movies to know that if you want to Bring It On, you need to pack the pompoms. (Stick with me here.) Cheering on your tribe from afar is one of the most effective ways to deepen your connection with them – and best of all, it’s easy to do.

A fellow coach has a new podcast interview or guest post coming out? Leave a comment to let them know you were listening/reading and which parts you enjoyed the most. Your mentor is launching a new program? Pop the virtual champagne by sharing their offering on social media. A friend in one of your Facebook groups is feeling nervous about a big speaking gig? Pump her up with positivity or send her something funny to loosen those pre-speech nerves.

Tech Tip: Use online monitoring tools such as Hootsuite Streams, Mention or Google Alerts to listen for conversations about specific contacts and keywords.

Treat social media like a cocktail party

Instead of social media networking feeling like another task on your to-do list, imagine you’re attending a cocktail party, champagne glass in hand, mixing and mingling with a room full of lovely new people. (Just don’t stay out too late if you’ve got work to do...) This is your opportunity to be a charming conversationalist -- generously sharing your own expertise and insights, making introductions, and endorsing the skills of people you’ve worked with.

Groups on Facebook and LinkedIn that attract the people you’d like to meet (clients, influencers, peers) and have the right vibe for you (structured vs. organic, assertive vs. nurturing, etc.) are a great place to start making new friends online -- especially if you’re feeling a little isolated on the road. For a more real-time experience, join Twitter chats or Facebook Live events. (Editor’s note: Find relevant chats on the One Woman Shop calendar!)

Tech Tip: Add the Rapportive plugin to Gmail to get LinkedIn profiles right inside your inbox -- a great memory-jogger for details about new connections who email you!

Keep your “wolf pack” in the loop

With most community-building advice focused on being generous and adding value, it’s easy to forget relationships are a two-way street and that you can, and should, share what you’ve got going on in your own business. People who know, like, and trust you will genuinely want to support you (because that’s what friends do), so give them the opportunity to help.

Being Boss founders, Emily Thompson and Kathleen Shannon, explain how to email your “wolf pack” – a close group of peers, clients, mastermind friends and mentors – prior to launching a new offering in episode #63 of their podcast (around minute 28). Your wolf pack email simply explains what you’re up to, politely invites recipients to share the details (if they wish), and includes a swipe file of share messaging and graphics to make it super quick and easy. (See how to create an epic swipe file here.)

Tech Tip: Create a Google Drive or Dropbox folder for launch images and messaging to share with your “wolf pack.”

Long distance doesn’t have to mean long gone

The beauty of our online businesses is that we can take them anywhere -- and when you cultivate relationships that can stand the test of time, you better believe they’ll follow you anywhere, as well.

Digital nomad and location independence resources

5 Myths You Might Believe About Running a Location-Independent Business

How To Use Your Offline Travel Time Productively For Your Business

How To Use Your Offline Travel Time Productively For Your Business

We’ve all read articles about running a location-independent business and working four hours a week, while sitting on the beach and raking in the money.

This isn’t one of those articles. What this is: My honest version of what my location-independent lifestyle looks like as I travel and run my solo business.

In my reading about being location independent (I’ve done a lot), I’ve discovered several myths that are believed to be true -- ones I’ve been able to debunk throughout my experiences. Before I get to those, though, please remember this: Everyone’s version of running a location-independent business and living the digital nomad lifestyle is different.

Now, let’s dig in.

Myth #1: Running a location-independent business is lonely

I’m not going to lie -- yes, it can be. You have most likely left your family and friends back home to travel to places where no one knows you. But, it doesn’t have to be lonely.

First thing’s first: Go slow -- you’re not on a vacation. Meet your neighbors, learn the basics of the language, find niche communities in your area. One of the best ways to assimilate as a business owner is to find co-working spaces and/or cafes where other people are working -- and strike up conversations. Often, these people are in the same boat as you and you can find common ground.

In my case, I am currently in Mexico doing volunteer work with my husband, so our community of fellow volunteers has become our “Mexico family,” relieving any feelings of loneliness I experienced when first arriving.

Other ways to beat the feelings of loneliness are in online communities. It’s not always the same, but often there are entrepreneurs traveling through the same area that you can catch up and share your experiences with.

Of course, sometimes nothing beats catching up with family and friends back home. Fortunately, there are a plethora of apps that allow for regular catch-ups without breaking the bank. Some of my favorites: Skype, WhatsApp, Viber, and Voxer.

Myth #2: You get to work from the beach every day

We’ve all heard this one -- and it’s a big attraction for some, but not for me. Don’t get me wrong, it can be done in certain places. But in my case? It doesn’t quite work: the best beaches are deserted, which means no internet, I don’t enjoy having sand in my laptop keys, and I don’t associate the beach with work -- I associate it with relaxation.

Instead, I work from my little apartment most of the time, sometimes breaking it up to work at a cafe. To get outside and enjoy the scenery, I’ll often take a break and go for a walk to the Malecon (ocean boardwalk) to enjoy the sunset with the locals, then come back and finish working.

My working hours vary depending on the project and the client, but on average I work 20 hours per week, and I am more productive in an environment where I can concentrate without too many distractions. The beach just isn’t one of those.

Myth #3: Running a location-independent business is easy

This isn’t meant to scare you off; rather, it’s to point out that it’s not as easy as packing up your laptop and charging cord and hitting the road.

A truly location-independent, digital nomad lifestyle takes a lot of initial planning to get your mindset right, prepare your family and clients back home, figure out what to do with your stuff (sell or store), successfully set up your finances, and more.

Once you start traveling, language barriers can be difficult. There are times when you get frustrated because you don’t understand what is going on, but it all comes down to your mindset and your attitude. Quite simply, if you can laugh at yourself, you will be fine.

Here’s a story that might help with that: When my husband and I were first here in Mexico, we learnt the correct phrases (in Spanish) to ask for people who spoke English. One afternoon, my husband was having difficulty pronouncing certain words and rolling his ‘R’s. (We’re Australian -- we don’t pronounce ever our R’s!) So instead of asking for people -- “personas” -- who speak English, he was asking for nipples -- “pezones” -- who speak English! The locals had a good laugh at his expense, and so did he once he realized what he was saying. Making an effort to learn some of the language gives you insight into their culture, and sometimes into your own personality flaws.

Another difficulty can be time zone differences. In my case, all of my clients are back home in Australia. This means a time zone difference of 16 hours, so if I want to schedule meetings, it’s always in the afternoon-evening or late at night, if needed. It’s all part of being location independent.

Myth #4: Location independence is expensive

If you live as a location-independent business owner in the same way you vacation, then yes, it can get expensive. You cannot maintain that level of spending and live long term as a location-independent entrepreneur.

It’s important to establish your level of what you can and can’t live without. When on the road, can you live without hot water; plush comfy sofas; air conditioning? In my case, here in Mexico, I can live without hot water in the summer. (It’s too hot to have a hot shower!) But, air conditioning is essential for me. Knowing what you can and can’t live without will help you determine your expenses. You’ll be surprised at what you can do without and still enjoy the experience.

Living frugally doesn’t mean that tickets, other accommodations, food, memberships, and more, won’t add up. This is where you need to get creative: There are always deals on flights, and if you search for accommodations where the locals search (not always on sites like AirBnB and Craigslist), you can find some good deals. I found that searching for accommodations online in Spanish allowed me to find cheaper accommodations here in Mexico.

Myth #5: That much time spent with your spouse/partner is crazy

To be honest, this is one I was concerned about most, as since my partner and I have been together, we had always worked full time for different companies. In fact, back home, I worked out that I was spending more time with my co-workers than with my husband.

In reality though, this lifestyle has brought us closer together. For one, we are experiencing different things together, both good and bad. Second, while I still have my work, he is able pursue his own interests, and though we spend most of our time together, we haven’t gotten sick of each other, even after six years of living as on-and-off digital nomads.

A truth: Running a location-independent business isn’t for everyone

Everyone’s version of location independence will differ -- and for some, the lifestyle may not be appealing at all.

Sometimes, I find it challenging and frustrating because nothing is the same as the comfort zone of home, but overall I find it extremely rewarding. I have learnt a lot about myself as a person, and as an entrepreneur. (Not all of it good!) But the biggest truth I’ve learned is this: As long as you have the right mindset and don’t take yourself too seriously, you can do it, too.

Are you currently location independent? What are the biggest myths you’ve found? Tell me your version.

Digital nomad and location independence resources

How to Prepare for Working Without Wifi

How to prepare for working without wifi

How to Prepare for Working Without Wifi

Have you ever picked one coffee shop over another just because it had better wifi? Yep, me too. The ability to work anywhere is amazing, but it comes with a catch -- constant reliance on connecting to the Internet. Needless to say, as digital solopreneurs, we live on wifi -- and tend to panic when it comes to working without wifi.

So what happens when we don’t have consistent access to a strong network? I’m about to find out: I’m preparing for a 10 day road trip* from Raleigh, NC to Seattle, WA and will be working as I can along the way. Half of the time I’m staying in Airbnb properties, which will more than likely have wifi, but the other half, I’m camping off the grid.

As I prep for working offline, I want to share what I’ve learned with you. So before the panic sets in as you go wifi-less, let’s explore our options.

1. Come down from the cloud

Draft what you can

Don’t let the lack of internet stop you from drafting an email, blog post, etc. When it comes time to write something (anything!) type it out in draft form. You can use Microsoft Word, Evernote or Google Drive Offline.

Evernote is my go-to option for drafting. If you have the app installed on your computer, the free application will work as normal when offline. It just won’t be syncing your data to the cloud until you reconnect.

Google Drive’s offline ability syncs all your G-Drive files locally to your computer (which does take up space on your hard drive), and then syncs back to the cloud when you are online again. It’s a good option for those who use Google Drive a lot in their business. Note: You must have internet access to turn on Google Drive Offline, so prep this before going into that wifi-less zone!

Save resources

When you know you’ll be going offline soon, it’s a good idea to copy and paste/save anything that you might need to refer to while you’re working offline. This includes:

  • Emails/email attachments (are there any important instructions in emails that you will need to look at while working on a task?)
  • Online articles (Go to file > print > then at the bottom of the print dialogue there should be an option to save as a PDF)
  • Documents from cloud-based storage (i.e., Google Drive, Dropbox, Box, etc.)
  • Images

A few more notes

  • Since most of these options for working offline require storage on your hard drive, consider getting an external hard drive to host your downloaded files.
  • If your computer isn’t available and you need to write out long drafts on your phone, I recommend getting a Bluetooth keyboard to save yourself from Carpal Tunnel. I have this one and love it.

BYO-wifi

Hey, no one said you can’t bring your own wifi to the wifi-less party. Since I’m going to try to work some in the car, and at camping spots, I decided to get a mobile hotspot. While you can use your phone as a mobile hotspot, it drains your battery fast. Also, I happen to have unlimited data from AT&T, so they disable the ability to use your phone as a hotspot (sneaky fine print).

After doing some research online about mobile hotspots, I decided to go with Karma Go. This was one of the few (if not only) hotspots available that didn’t go through a cell phone service provider.

Why I chose it:

  • Pay as you go, or pay monthly - both do not require a contract
  • Small, portable size (fits in your back pocket)
  • Cool brand - they are a company who is trying to disrupt traditional internet service providers. And I like their design, both on their website and the physical product. Cue the, “Brand loyalty is an important factor for Millennials.”

Downsides:

  • Upfront cost of $150 for the device (but I got it over the 4th of July sale for $100)
  • May not be the most secure option. They don’t have password protected wifi on the standard plan. I upgraded for $5.00 to include the password protection.
  • Coverage - since they are fairly new, they don’t have as complete of coverage as AT&T or Verizon. I haven’t tried it out yet, but reviews say it has not been a problem.

Make friends with pen and paper

Okay, so there will be times when there is no wifi signal in sight. And there will be times when our devices lose power and there is no electricity in sight. That is when pen and paper might be your best bet. For me, using my planner is perfect because I can schedule calls, write down my list of things to do and jot down ideas as they come to me. There is also a pocket in it for stashing receipts if need be. I keep my planner in my laptop bag so I always have it on hand when I need to check my schedule.

Another great option for writing things down is a Moleskine notebook. The quality is great so you don’t have to worry about it getting beat up in your purse. (This is also a great way to record memories while traveling!)

Life doesn’t have to come to an end without wifi

Armed with these tactics for working offline, I feel prepared for a road trip of limited to no wifi. But that doesn’t mean that I won’t shout “hallelujah!” when I spot a Starbucks.

*For anyone interested, here is a rough game plan for the road trip -- cheers to location independence!

Day 1: Raleigh, NC --> Nashville, TN
Day 2: Nashville, TN --> Oklahoma City, OK
Day 3: Oklahoma City, OK --> Santa Fe, NM
Day 4: Santa Fe, NM --> Telluride, CO - Moab, UT
Day 5: Moab, UT
Day 6: Moab, UT --> Salt Lake City, UT
Day 7: Salt Lake City, UT --> Grand Teton Natl Park, WY
Day 8: The Tetons --> Boise, ID
Day 9: Boise, ID --> Seattle, WA
Day 10: Seattle, WA!

Digital nomad and location independence resources

Get More Attention to Your Social Media Posts With These 3 Copywriting Hacks

Remember when Facebook decided to update its newsfeed algorithm so you pretty much had to pay any time you wanted to show up in your fans’ newsfeeds?

Sucked, didn’t it?

So now you’re faced with keeping a social media advertising budget, but making sure you get the absolute most out of the money you spend can be hard.

A major way to stand out, though, is to tweak the copywriting you’re using in your posts to say something different than what every other one of your competitors is saying.

It’s a lot easier than it sounds, and no intensive copywriting tutorials will be involved, I promise. In fact, I've got three copywriting hacks for your social media posts that you can test today. Let me show you how.

1. Say what your competitors aren’t (and maybe even what they’re afraid to)

It might sound a bit mystical at first, to figure out the things your competitors aren’t saying... but it’s actually pretty easy to figure this one out.

The thing is, as business owners (and especially as women, if I can say that), we tend to under-value what we do and the products and services we have for sale.

Denise Duffield-Thomas illustrates it perfectly in this video:

But the thing is, men and women both have the tendency to do this from time to time, which likely means that your competition probably isn’t tooting their own horn as loudly as they (or you) should be.

Because within every single industry, the vast majority of business owners and marketers unknowingly fall into saying exactly what everyone else is saying. They sell the same products, offer the same services, and say the same things about them.

This might make it “easy” when deciding what to write in your social media posts, because you can just check out what everyone else is writing. But when you sound no different from your competition, your prospective fans and customers aren’t going to notice or appreciate your differences, and it’s those differences that make you and your business worth their time and attention.

“Forge your own path and leave your own mark,” said Drew Eric Whitman in Cashvertising. “You don’t need permission from anybody to do things your way. You be the leader. You be the one people copy because what you’re doing is so unique. Shake people up in your industry. Why be just another person in your industry who does nothing new, nothing worth noting, nothing that gets people talking and buying?” (emphasis mine)

Copywriting Hacks for Social Media posts

This guy, for example. Not to hate on him, but he’s trying to use every emotional-ridden jargon word for his industry, and it’s killing him. Not to mention that pose. So cliche. And the screaming caps. Just no.

Copywriting Hacks for Social Media Posts

Or this post. It’s way less painful to read and doesn’t make you cringe, but he could definitely be getting more (& better) attention, increasing his click throughs and leads.

But by breaking out of the industry norms and saying things in a way that shamelessly help the people behind these ads toot their own horns (in a non-douchey way, of course), we can really help these ads stand out.

Copywriting Hacks for Social Media Posts

I can’t edit the bottom half, but look at the new top half I’ve written. I’ve taken out most of the jargon, spoken to pain points without using all caps, and make a promise I can deliver on if you click through.

Copywriting Hacks for Social Media Posts

I open this ad with a hook that’s focused on a pain point so many aspiring travel writers feel threatened by. Then I “buddy up” to the reader to show that I share in their annoyance. Finally, I make a promise to let them see how people who have their dream job did it, so they can do it to. And suddenly, you’re clicking on it, aren’t you?

2. Ask only for the next step - not the main goal

Social media is social media.

It’s not a product shopping cart.

It can be tempting, though, to use the time and effort you spend on social media to go ahead and ask for the sale. After all, you don’t want to waste your time pansy-footing around when you’ve got a business to run and money to make, do you?

But that’s not what social media is for.

Getting people to click through to your site from social media is much less about getting the sale right away and much more about building up their momentum to keep clicking and subconsciously saying “Yes!” to you.

“You’re helping them focus on the benefit they want from the product rather than their hesitation to make the investment to own it,” said Tom Hopkins on Entrepreneur.

So by only asking for the next step (which might be to read a blog post or get a free ebook), you’ll generate more clicks and get more traffic to the pages you want people on.

Copywriting Hacks for Social Media

Become an owner of an Allstate agency before I’m ever even a customer or in their professional HR pipeline in any way? Don’t think this ad is going to work on me, sorry.

Copywriting Hacks for Social Media

On the flip side, though, even though I am in this guy’s ad network because I’ve visited his site, he isn’t asking me for much—just for an email subscription in exchange for his advice (which he knows I’ve already seen). It’s a much more likely step, isn’t it?

What’s more, when you do get people to your site, you’ll be able to pixel more visitors for your custom advertising audience even if you don’t ask for any kind of conversion or sale the first time they’re on your site, so you can continue to reach out to them via retargeting. (More on that from Facebook, here.)

This is particularly helpful for those of us who sell higher-priced items that usually aren’t purchased in a split decision after clicking through on an ad.

By exposing people to who you are, your expertise, and your offering over time, you build their trust instead of putting them off by asking for hundreds (or thousands) of dollars right away.

Max Chierruzi, CEO of AdEspresso, a Facebook advertising agency, said that when they started focusing on the next step instead of the major goal, their cost per click went down from $0.10 to $0.03 or $0.05.

They did this by targeting ads towards people who hadn’t visited their site to simply visit and receive value. Then, after they visited and were pixeled, they ran ads to get them to sign up for a lead magnet.

3. Use testimonials & customer photos as your ad content

Now this is something which is very much worth testing.

Social media is one of the best ways to advertise to your target demographics, especially when Facebook has so many pieces of demographic information you can sort through and target based on.

By using a testimonial from a person that most closely matches the target demographic you’re going after for a particular campaign, you immediately increase your relevance and credibility with those who see the ad.

“We’re comfortable with what we know, and what we know best is our own face,” said Kate Hakala.

Extending beyond just our face though, we also know our life situation, job, industry, and region better than others, so we tend to have higher trust towards things that seem to be affiliated with those things.

If you’re showing an ad on LinkedIn, for example, you can focus the testimonial text you use around the numbers you know your target audience there would be most concerned about during the workday, when they’re most likely to be on the site.

Copywriting Hacks for Social Media

In an article about how to hire more women, LinkedIn suggests placing images of women in the recruitment ads.

It's time to start hacking your social media posts

So now you’ve got three things to try to get more attention to your brand’s social media posts:

  • Use different language than your competitors.
  • Ask for only the next step, not the sale.
  • Use testimonials and ideal customer’s faces in your ads.

All three of these copywriting hacks for social media posts are fairly easy updates, and worth testing to improve your attention and ROI. Then, you can sit back and let those social media platforms work their magic.