October #OWSchat: Diminishing Distractions

#OWSchat from One Woman Shop

We're a little nervous to admit this, but here it is: we're sick of talking about productivity. (A bit strange coming from the creators of an e-course about productivity, huh?)

Here's the thing: while we love making the most of productivity hacks as much as the next person, sometimes we want to stop talking about the benefits of this project management software or that social media management tool and just get shit done. But it's not always that simple. There are distractions -- both in your business and outside of your business -- that keep you from being the engaged, efficient, kick-ass business owners you are (or want to be). Let's talk about those.

That's precisely what we're doing. Mark your calendars! Today at 9pm EST, we're hosting our monthly #OWSchat -- and it's all about identifying + combatting the distractions that hold us back.

The comparison trap. Family. Social media. We're talking about these and the other (inevitable) distractions that come up, and sharing strategies for making distractions less of a burden on your day, so you can fully own your freedom.

See you TONIGHT, Wednesday, 10/7 at 9pm EST in the Twitterverse!

PS – First ever Twitter chat? We highly recommend using a platform like TweetChat to keep things organized.

August #OWSchat: Creating Systems with Heather Crabtree

#OWSchat from One Woman Shop

Mark your calendars: this Wednesday, August 5, at 9pm EST, we're hosting our monthly #OWSchat -- and it's all about a topic that can seriously change the way you do business: creating systems + streamlining.

Whether you're just starting out as a solopreneur or you've been in the game for years, there's always room for improvement when it comes to efficiency.

Even better? We're bringing in a pro to help: Heather Crabtree. Heather helps creative entrepreneurs create strategies + implement systems. During the chat, we'll be riffing on Heather's "Keys to Streamlining" -- from your inbox to editorial calendar, your bookkeeping to projects, and more.

Want more freedom in your biz and less stress in your life? (Yes, please!) Join us as we talk systems, and kick off August right!

Looking forward to chatting Wednesday, 8/5 at 9pm EST!

PS – First ever Twitter chat? We highly recommend using a platform like TweetChat to keep things organized.

Tools We Love: Edgar

Tools We Love: Edgar social media scheduling

Welcome to Tools We Love, where we highlight some of the tools that make us more efficient, productive, and effective in our businesses. Have a tool that you want to share with the community? Email us!

Meet Edgar. He’s an octopus who just so happens to be a social media wizard. (Really, it’s a social media curation + scheduling app that allows you to automate your social updates like no other third party app out there.) It currently supports Twitter, Facebook personal profiles, Groups, and Page, and LinkedIn. And it just so happens it’s branded with an octopus full of personality.

Edgar seems to come up in any and every conversation I have about digital marketing -- because he’s just that good.

What Edgar is

Created by the LKR team, Edgar is, in their words, “the only app that stops social media updates from going to waste.” Tall task, wouldn’t you say? Well, he lives up to it.

Here’s how it (he) works: you create content and add it into your back end library in Edgar, organizing it by category. Once you’ve built a library of updates, you create posting schedules on a nifty calendar for each account you’ve set up. At the times you’ve specified, Edgar will choose an update from the designated category and post it to your account(s).

Here’s how that looks:

1. I have several categories set up in my library.

Meet Edgar - categories

2. I create a schedule for each account I’ve linked up with Edgar.

Meet Edgar: schedule

3. Edgar pulls the needed updates from your library and creates a queue.

Meet Edgar: queue

It’s genius, yeah? Edgar effectively automates your social media -- but leaves you in control. You create the categories, determine the schedule, and have the ability to view the queue days in advance and swap updates as needed.

That’s the basic gist of Edgar’s functionality. Here are some nitty gritty details that make him even more awesome:

Take advantage of the ‘Use Once’ category. Sure, most of the content you’ll load into Edgar will be evergreen content or content that has a decent lifespan (since that is the point of revolving it, after all). But not everything you want to post should be repeated. No worries -- just choose the default “Use Once” category, and Edgar will know not to go back to that particular update once it’s been used.

Batch upload with import functionality. If you’re a Google Doc addict like some of us (ahem, Cristina and I here at OWS), you like to collaborate via shared documents before finalizing anything. Fret not: you can draft those social media updates in a spreadsheet and use the Import button to bring them all in at once.

Take a break. Let’s say you’re going on vacation or just want to go dark for a while. Or perhaps you want all of your social content to point to something like a launch (like we did for Building Your Online Community!). There’s a handy “Pause Queue” button that freezes Edgar and his revolving content and makes it ridiculously easy to pick up right where you left off when you’re ready.

Add photos. Edgar doesn’t just support plain text updates. With a handy “Add Image” button for each new update you add, you have the ability to easily enhance your post.

See how you’re doing. Edgar’s got a built-in statistics dashboard that’ll give you a quick glimpse at how each of your posts are performing. After all, social media requires strategy -- and strategy requires metrics to benchmark yourself on.

Those are just some of the features -- the fun doesn’t stop there.

The most grateful octopus you ever did meet

There are different perceptions on what good customer service is, but I think every user of Edgar can agree: Team Edgar nails it. Beyond easy email access to the Edgar pros, the team also runs an “Edgar HQ” Facebook Group where there’s a fair share of learning and celebrating going on. The best part of all this access? The team is incredibly receptive to requests for upgrades to their own application. In less than a year since launch (I’ve been a user since day 1!), I’ve seen countless changes made based directly on user requests -- a true testament to caring about your customers.

Okay, okay. I’ve got one last thing to gush about. You see, Edgar is just downright grateful to have you as a user -- and it shows. I was glowing a bit the day this came in the mail: his response to my Facebook post about him. What a guy! (The back had my post printed out with hearts surrounding it, and a note that “Edgar loves you, too!”)

Meet Edgar: love note

Things to keep in mind

Naturally, nobody’s perfect -- even this little guy. A few things to keep in mind as you consider the use of Edgar:

1. He’s not exactly a cheap date. It’s up to you to weigh both the time he’ll save you in streamlining your social media as well as the benefit of having a consistent presence with the price tag. There are two account levels: $49/month for up to 10 accounts and 1,000 stored updates, and $99 for up to 25 accounts and 5,000 stored updates. On the fence? Request an invitation (average wait time is 24 hours or less!) and give a 30-day trial period a go.

2. He’s not the be-all, end-all. Like most things, you don’t want to put all your eggs in one basket. When it comes to social media monitoring and engagement, automation is fantastic to keep things consistent, but checking in live on a regular basis to respond to and interact with others is paramount to an honest, successful social strategy. For that, we layer on Hootsuite and the native Twitter app, as needed. (And TweetChat for our monthly #OWSchat, of course!)

What Edgar means for social media

For a solopreneur running the rat race of serving clients, creating new revenue streams, and handling all the day-to-day happenings of running a One Woman Shop, Edgar means a stress-free approach to social media management and consistency in your social media marketing.

Oh -- and it means for the first time ever, you can call an octopus your friend.

July #OWSChat: Location Independence with Susan Shain!

#OWSchat from One Woman Shop

Mark your calendars: this Wednesday, July 1, at 9pm EST, we're hosting our monthly #OWSchat -- and it's all about one of our absolute favorite topics: location independence!

Whether you're currently a digital nomad or aspiring to run a location-independent business, this is a chat you won't want to miss. We'll be discussing what makes a location-independent business work, the common fears that hold aspiring travelers back, and more.

Even better? We're bringing in a pro: Susan Shain (the blogger formerly known as Travel Junkette!). Susan has been traveling the world and running a location-independent business since 2008. (Want to know more? Check out our Digital Nomad Profile of Susan from last year!)

What better way to kick off July than to explore the world of digital nomadery? (That's a word, right?!)

Looking forward to chatting Wednesday, 7/1 at 9pm EST!

PS – First ever Twitter chat? We highly recommend using a platform like TweetChat to keep things organized.

How to Make the Most of Facebook Groups for Online Business

While the organic reach of Facebook Pages has (drastically) dwindled, there's one aspect of the social network that Zuck + friends have gotten right for your online business: Facebook Groups. To make the most of this fantastic tool for solopreneur networking and community building, we asked our One Woman Shop members for their #1 tip for utilizing Facebook Groups. Here's what they said:

Be extremely selective on which Facebook groups get your time and attention and then show up consistently.

Coach Jennie

Be sure to read any policy documents, and do your best to stay on the right side of policies. If you're unsure, reach out to the moderator. Also, focus on the positives whenever possible -- even when you may be doing a critique, start with something nice to say. (Editor's note: try the Hug Bump Hug!)

Rachel Formaro

Branch out to look for groups filled with people that work with similar clients to yours. Skill sharing and collaboration is sure to happen that way, and you might get some referrals as well!

Desiree Jester

Be helpful + give advice. Sometimes it feels like people are sales-pitchy in groups, trying to offer their services or products. If you know how to solve a problem, walk them through it instead of trying to make money right off the bat.

Jessica Freeman

Read the entire thread before posting, offer solutions rather than opinions, and don't be afraid to share a solution that goes against the norm.

Shannon Mattern

Remember that everyone is in a different place and business isn't one-size-fits-all. What works for you might not work for someone else.

- Cristina Roman

If you're in a lot of Facebook groups, pick 2-4 that have the most value and focus on building a strong presence in those. Bookmark them on your Facebook sidebar and turn on notifications for them so you don't miss any conversations.

Brittany Berger

Join them! Some of my client come from referrals, but A LOT come from entrepreneurial Facebook groups. Play nice. That means 'following the rules.' Those rules are usually there to make the group "unattractive" to people who are just looking to sell to the other members. The main purpose of most groups is idea-sharing & networking. Selling & collaboration is usually a natural by-product of that.

Julienne DesJardins

If you have a question, use the search function first! Often, someone else has already asked and gotten great advice. By tapping into the feedback that's already been posted, you can help cut back on the same repetitive questions that are asked in the groups.

Amy Chick

What did we miss? Leave us your #1 tip in the comments below.

PS -- Looking for an active, engaged Facebook Group to join? Apply for OWS membership!

PPS -- Want to build a full marketing plan using Facebook Groups? It's possible -- and Val Geisler shows you how in Growing With Groups.

solopreneur membership

This post may contain affiliate links for resources mentioned. As always, we only promote what we feel may benefit your biz!

This Monday: #BYOCommunity Twitter Power Hour!

Here at One Woman Shop, the energy is palpable (even though we’re running this show 5,100 miles apart from each other)!

You see, we are just three days away from launching our Building Your Online Community e-course. We can’t wait to get this baby in the hands of One Woman Shops everywhere so they can get to work building and strengthening the online communities that will boost their solo business.

To celebrate the launch -- and connect with you in one of our favorite ways -- we’re hosting a live #BYOCommunity Power Hour at 9pm EST on Monday, June 15th in the Twitter-sphere.

We’re taking questions beforehand (email us!) and will fill in extra time with live questions during the chat! Join in by following the #BYOCommunity hashtag on Twitter (we recommend TweetChat for first-timers!).

Can’t wait to chat soon!

In the meantime? Head on over to the Building Your Online Community landing page to sign up for an email when it goes live on Monday.

Building Your Online Community

June #OWSchat: Income Streams + Making Money with Alexis Grant!

#OWSchat from One Woman Shop

Mark your calendars: tonight, Wednesday, June 3, at 9pm EST, we're hosting our monthly #OWSchat.

It's the topic we all love talking about: making money. We'll be chatting about your current revenue streams, what's holding you back from making more money in your solopreneur biz, and what needs to happen to get you where you want to be.

What better way to kick off the summer months than to find like-minded solo business owners working hard to up their income -- and with a fantastic guest, to boot? That's right, we're super excited to welcome Alexis Grant of AlexisGrant.com and The Write Life to the Twitter party this month! Her transparency when it comes to making money is just one of the things that make her such an amazing solopreneur + role model.

You'll want to be there: Alexis is giving away a copy of her go-to guide, Turn Your Side Hustle Into a Full-Time Business, to one random chat participant!

Looking forward to chatting tonight at 9pm EST!

PS – First ever Twitter chat? We highly recommend using a platform like TweetChat to keep things organized.

Why I’m an Instagram Convert

Instagram Convert

I’ll admit it - I used to be one of those people who said “I just don’t get it” about Instagram. While my One Woman Shop partner, Sara, was counting the days until she could start using Instagram back when it wasn’t available for all devices, I was decidedly holding out.

But since implementing the #OneWomanShopBaton and now #coffeewithaview, I can safely say this: I, Cristina Roman, am officially an Instagram convert.

If you’re also an Instagram junkie, none of facts below will be news to you. But if you aren’t yet on the #InstaBandwagon, here’s why I love it and encourage you to consider using it in your solo business:

It’s not just photos

When I was under the impression that Instagram was “just photos,” I didn’t see much value in it. Once I discovered that you can do quite a lot with the captions and hashtags, it was a game-changer. Now, I periodically search relevant hashtags, like #solopreneur, #solobusiness, and #creativeentrepreneur, to find women who might be interested in the One Woman Shop community.

There’s an incredible amount of engagement

Facebook and I are on rocky terms, but Twitter and I are in it for the long haul. But despite my love of the little blue bird, I have to admit that Instagram posts get far more engagement- both likes and comments- than most Facebook posts and tweets. Research proves it (this Business Insider piece says engagement on Instagram is up to 50 times higher than on Twitter), and so does our experience with One Woman Shop’s Instagram account.

It’s user-friendly

Instagram is ridiculously straightforward. Still haven’t grasped the ins and outs of RTs, DMs, favorites, and lists on Twitter? With Instagram, you “heart” a photo or you comment. That’s all.

It adds a human element to your business

Those behind-the-scenes photos we post of our inbox after an #OWSchat or the #coffewithaview pics from various coffeeshops and poolsides in Antigua, Guatemala? They add a human aspect to our business, which we think is pretty critical as a solo business owner. If there’s one thing we’ve learned from the #OneWomanShopBaton, it’s that our community loves a little “inside” peek into the lives of their fellow solopreneurs.

It capitalizes on mobile

I won’t bore you with stats about the increase in mobile usage worldwide, but we all know it’s happening. (The fact that Google has changed its algorithm to emphasize mobile certainly says something). Instagram is nearly 100% mobile-based, which means it effectively capitalizes on the growing mobile trend. Grabbing the attention of potential One Woman Shop members while they’re grabbing a latte or riding in a tuk tuk (as the case may be) = priceless.

Of course, it’s not all rainbows and sunshine.

The few downsides of Instagram

You can’t add links on Instagram, so it’s a bit hard to track who is coming to your site because of your Instagram presence. Anyone who finds and follows you on Instagram has to make the extra effort to track you down elsewhere online.

Also, Instagram- more so that other social media networks, in my humble opinion- contributes to the comparison trap that we solopreneurs are often so guilty of entering. Instagram is most often a perfectly curated stream of the highlight reel of people’s lives and businesses; we rarely see the less-than-perfect moments captured.

But speaking of Instagram and transparency! We want to do our part to show what running a solo business is really like, which is why:

One Woman Shop Instagram Challenge: #OWSBehindTheScenes

Announcing: our first Instagram challenge! We love being as transparent as possible in how we run One Woman Shop, and always enjoy getting a glimpse into how others’ structure their days through the #OneWomanShopBaton. So this month, we’re opening it up to our entire community -- over 12 days, we’ll be prompting you to share what’s going on behind-the-scenes of your One Woman Shop! We're getting started in one week -- and here’s what we’d love to see from you:

One Woman Shop Instagram Challenge

Monday, May 18th: Where I’m Working
Tuesday, May 19th: Starting My Day
Wednesday, May 20th: Planning My Day + Staying On Track
Thursday, May 21st: How I Manage My Inbox
Friday, May 22nd: My Favorite Way to Network
Saturday, May 23rd: Moving My Body
Sunday, May 24th: My Meals + Meal Planning
Monday, May 25th: My Much-Needed Breaks
Tuesday, May 26th: How I Manage My Website + Blog
Wednesday, May 27th: My Favorite Solopreneur Task
Thursday, May 28th: My Solopreneur Reading List
Friday, May 29th: My End-of-Day Wind Down

How to participate:

1. Upload a photo to your Instagram account that corresponds to the day’s theme. So, on Monday, the 18th, post a photo of your workspace, on the 19th the first thing you do in the morning, and so on! Miss a day? Don’t worry about it. Jump back in when you can!

2. Include the hashtag #OWSBehindTheScenes when you upload your photo for the day. It’s the only way we’ll be able to follow along -- and we’ll be re-gramming a few each day from the @OneWomanShop account! (Bonus points for fun captions!)

3. Remember, Instagram is a social network. Be sure to explore the #OWSBehindTheScenes hashtag and interact with others participating in the challenge. (You might even grow your following in the process!)

Let’s have fun interacting on Instagram while inspiring others with the nitty gritty of our day, behind-the-scenes -- what do you say?

Are you in? We’ll see you on Instagram on the 18th! Need a quick nudge when we kick off on Monday, the 18th? Sign up for a reminder below or be sure to check back on the OWS calendar!

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We can’t wait to go behind-the-scenes of your One Woman Shop!

April Pinspiration: Collaboration, Partnerships, and Hiring

Our March jam session got us particularly pumped about our theme for April: Collaboration, Partnerships and Hiring. Collaboration has been the key to growing One Woman Shop, and so many other "solo" ventures.

So, along with our April solopreneur playlist (hello, Missy Elliot + Ciara!) and our monthly #OWSchat with Charissa Moore, we headed back to Pinterest to bring you our April Pinspiration.

See pins you think would fit great here? Leave us a comment below or on Pinterest and we'll add you as a collaborator on the board!

Follow One Woman Shop's board April: Collaboration | Partnerships | Hiring on Pinterest.

PS - In the spirit of collaboration + hiring, we chatted with event planners in the most recent edition of Prior to the Hire to get the inside scoop on what to know/prepare before you hire them.