What You Can Learn from TheSkimm as a Business Owner

theSkimm lessons for business owners

theSkimm lessons for business owners

By now, you’ve probably heard of theSkimm, the startup run by friends and business partners
Carly Zakin and Danielle Weisberg. In case you haven’t: It’s a daily email that rounds up news from around the world in a bite-sized, snarky format. If you’re not yet convinced, keep this in mind: Oprah reads theSkimm every day, they’ve received $6.25 million in funding, and in just two years, they hit 500,000 subscribers.

How does this relate to your solo business, even if you aren’t necessarily looking for venture capital or a business partner?

Here are a few lessons from Carly, Danielle, and the rest of theSkimm team that you can apply to your solo biz:

Make opting in the obvious choice

Shaming your readers? Probably not the best idea. Gently poking fun at them? Gold mine. theSkimm does this by making people feel silly for not opting in. When you land on the site, a pop-up appears with two choices: to click the sign-up button or to click the button that says “No thanks, I prefer to be miserable in the morning.” Kinda makes signing up seem like the obvious choice, right?

You can apply this in your business by utilizing a pop-up that evokes the same emotional response (it probably sounds something like this: “Haha! Welllllll...okay!”) or providing an opt-in that’s so valuable it seems silly not to sign up.

Tell people what to expect

theSkimm markets itself very clearly as a daily email delivered to your inbox at 6am EST. Their tagline is “We read. You skimm,” which notifies potential subscribers that they should expect an easily digestible format.

We’re not saying you should send out a daily email to your community (in fact, that seems like a completely unnecessary undertaking for a solo business owner!), but you too can capitalize on this transparency in your business. We sought to create consistency by scheduling The Hot Seat, our weekly “talk show,” every Wednesday so that people know exactly where and when to find us. Another common example? Marie Forleo followers know that every Tuesday, Marie will post a new episode of MarieTV.

Telling people what to expect isn’t limited to scheduling. Marketing a blog post as a “primer” or “101” instantly tells people that it’s basic, introductory content, just like titling a YouTube video “Quick Tip” indicates -- you guessed it -- that it’s a short video.

Create an instantly recognizable brand

You’ve probably heard more about branding than you care to know. (No? Then check out our Personal + Professional Branding theme!) But it bears repeating: your images, your colors, your tone, and your formatting should be recognized by your community no matter where you happen to be, online or off -- your site, on social media, in the comment areas of other blog, or while giving a live presentation.

We’d wager a guess that any Skimm reader could tell you their signature color (Skimm Blue, as they call it), a few of their memorable subject lines (like Gobble Gobble in honor of Thanksgiving and Espresso Yourself), some of their frequent categories (Quote or Word of the Day, Repeat After Me, Skimm Reads), and their classic first line, “Skimm’d” which is always completed with both cheeky and relatable examples like “over Pillsbury cookie dough,” “watching the Emmys” and “from bed.” They even have a name for their “language”: Skimm-ese.

Capture your own signature pieces and rock those babies anywhere and everywhere.

Speak to your audience

It’s immediately obvious whenever you interact with theSkimm -- on their site, on their Instagram account, or in their actual emails -- who their audience is: busy millennial women who want to stay up-to-date on world events but don’t necessarily have the time or energy to seek it out. How do we know that’s their audience? They tell us -- through that shade of Skimm Blue we mentioned and through references to white wine, “Law & Order: SVU” marathons, Equinox gym memberships, and the US Open.

How can you do this in your solo business? We’ll assume you know who you’re speaking to. Make two lists: one list of things that you identify with and another of things you constantly hear about from your community. In an actual or figurative Venn diagram (love us some Venn diagrams!), find the overlap. This is a version of the method we used to create some of our most popular offerings, like our Solopreneur Sanity Handbook (from conversations about productivity and self-care) and our Location Independence Month (from conversations about the desire of so many in our community to be able to travel and run a business simultaneously).

Make people feel included + incentivize sharing

We personally can’t stand the Mean Girls-inspired graphic circulating on Instagram that says “You can’t sit with us.” We’re opposed to references to exclusion and love the opposite approach: inclusion. theSkimm makes people feel included -- and therefore, more inclined to share -- in several ways: by mentioning all reader birthdays and by encouraging people to become Skimm'bassadors.

We do the same by allowing people to carry the #OneWomanShopBaton on Instagram, providing a badge that our members can put up on their sites, offering opportunities for members to be featured in the Member Spotlight, and choosing a Member of the Week at random, not to mention special little treats like a chance to win a Starbucks gift card (for a Pumpkin Spice Latte, of course) if you send out a tweet on our behalf.

Find creative ways to loop your community into your mission -- and then make it easy for them to showcase their participation by creating Swipe Files of the content you want them to send out, including pre-drafted Click to Tweets, for example.

For goodness sake, make it fun

We imagine it’s a bit of a challenge to make serious world news both informative and fun, but theSkimm does just that. Likewise, teaching people about WordPress, for example, could be incredibly dull, but Shannon of WP+BFF does it in a fun, relatable way. Talking to people about productivity + self-care, like we do in The Solopreneur Sanity Handbook, could feel heavy-handed and boring, but we do our best to make it relatable with personal anecdotes and examples.

How can you make things just a bit more relatable, digestible, and yes, flippin’ fun for your community of clients, customers, and collaborators today?

The Ultimate Guide to a Successful Blog Tour

If you have a launch coming up, or simply want to get together with a few of your favorite bloggers to build your community, a blog tour might just be your new favorite way of collaborating.

Having hosted my own blog tour for my personal development site, Becoming Who You Are, and taken part in several as a blogger, I find them to be a win-win way to share my work with a wider audience, plus a super fun way of cross-promoting with other fab bloggers out there.

In this post, I’ll share the basics of what a blog tour is, plus a few best practices you can use to make your blog tour as successful as possible.

How does a blog tour work?

In its simplest form, a blog tour works as follows: you, the host, decide on a theme and time period for your blog tour, and reach out to fellow bloggers asking if they’d like to take part. On a pre-agreed date, they publish a post about that topic on their blog, including a small text snippet about the tour (plus any relevant links), and you share all posts on your site as they’re released.

Tips for hosting a successful blog tour

Blog tours are fairly simple to set up, but they do require organization and planning. Here are a few best practices you can use to ensure your blog tour runs as smoothly as possible:

1. Get clear on the details

There are two questions to ask yourself at the start:

1 - “What is the purpose of this blog tour?”
2 - “What is my metric for success?”

Do you have a product or service you want to promote? Who are your ideal clients for that product or service? What is your ideal outcome for the blog tour, and what metrics will you use to measure that? Your answers to these questions will influence the topic of your tour, who you invite to take part (you’ll want to invite people whose communities will be interested in what you’re offering), the call to action you provide, and where you link to on your website, so it’s important to get clear on these points from the beginning.

Once you have the foundation for your blog tour, it’s time to decide practical details like duration (most blog tours are a week or less, however some big launch-related tours can last as long as a month), how the bloggers will notify you of their posts, and how you’ll go about posting them on your site (individually; in a daily roundup, etc.).

2. Plan in advance

Many bloggers plan and schedule content weeks, sometimes months, in advance and won’t necessarily be able to accommodate an additional post at short notice.

Inviting people at least a month in advance will increase the likelihood that they’ll be able to take part without it being a last-minute stress. It also frees up more time for you to spend on sharing and promotion closer to the event.

3. Make it as easy as possible for participants to contribute and share

With your cadre of bloggers on board, the fun really begins.

As a blog tour host, you want to make it as a easy as possible for your participants to take part and share. This starts with giving them all the relevant information they need from the beginning. This might include:

  • The date you’d like them to publish (or a calendar where they can easily snag a date if they’re exclusive)
  • Any graphics or links you’d like to include (I created a text snippet bloggers could copy and paste, which you can see below)
  • Pre-written tweets they can use to share their post when it’s live

Here is the initial email I sent out to potential participants:

“Hi X,

I hope you're well! I've been a huge fan of your blog for a while and so appreciate all the goodness you've been putting out into the world. I run a site called Becoming Who You Are, where I teach people how to be kind to themselves, and I'm reaching out to invite you to take part in a blog tour I'm putting together later this month.

The Thriving Blog Tour will run from 24th to 31st March. The theme of the tour (as you might be able to tell... :)) is thriving. I'd be so honoured if you'd be willing to take part, share your insights around this topic, and help me spread the word about self-kindness as widely as possible.

The Blog Tour will be celebrating the start of my upcoming course, From Coping to Thriving, and, on a broader level, I hope it will get people thinking about where in their lives they might be settling for coping and could use a little more self-care.

I'll be posting a link to each post on my site and sharing them far and wide on social media. I'll also be compiling the posts into an ebook at the end of the blog tour (working title: The Little Book of Thriving) and you'll be free to distribute this to your audience as you wish.

I have some topic suggestions and pre-prepared tweets ready for you to share but I want to be respectful of your time so I'll keep this as brief as possible for now.

If you're interested in taking part in the tour, please send me a quick email back, and I'll get the relevant info to you ASAP. If it's not a good fit for you right now, no worries at all and thanks for taking the time to read this 🙂

Thank you for all the great work you do!”

Once a blogger responded in the affirmative, I sent them the following info:

“Here is some additional info about the tour:

1. Timing

Would you be willing to post on {insert specific date}? Let me know if this isn't going to work, otherwise I'll assume you're good to go on this date.

2. Topics

Here are some potential topics for you to choose from:

My story of shifting from coping to thriving
My biggest self-care mistake, and how I came back from it
What self-care means to me
How I changed [X] habit (and why I'm happier as a result)
5 lessons I've learned about thriving in life

And, of course, if you have a topic in mind, please feel free to go for it! 🙂

3. Decoration

To show you're part of the Thriving Blog Tour, please add the italicised text below to the top of your post and/or use one of the graphics I've attached to this email (feel free to adapt the text to fit your own voice).

"From Coping to Thriving is a six-week journey that will teach you how to turn your coping strategies into self-caring behaviours, leaving behind struggle and learning to thrive. This post is part of the Thriving Blog Tour, which is spreading self-kindness to the masses. To learn more and join us, click here."

4. Sharing

As I mentioned in my first email, the aim of this Blog Tour is to spread the word about self-kindness to as many people as possible. Feel free to share your post widely around social media and I'll do the same.

Here are a few pre-written tweets to get you started:

I'm writing about self-kindness for the Thriving Blog Tour with @becomewhour [http://linktoyourbloghere.com]

Want to learn how to shift from coping to thriving? Check out my post for @becomewhour's Thriving Blog Tour[http://linktoyourbloghere.com]

Do you have habits you want to change? Read about what helped me in my post for @becomewhour's Thriving Blog Tour[http://linktoyourbloghere.com]

5. Thank you!

Thanks for participating in the Thriving Blog Tour! I know it's going to be a ton of fun and a way to spread a valuable message. I am running an affiliate program for the course so let me know if you'd like to join and I'll send you the details.

Please email the link to your post and your Twitter handle the day your post goes live so I can share it and add it to the Thriving Blog Tour webpage.

If you have any questions about any of the above, or anything else to do with the tour, feel free to get in touch :)”

I also sent a follow-up email a couple of days before their post was due to go live, reminding them to email me a link to their post so I could share it.

4. Provide clear CTAs

Just as you want to make it as easy as possible for the bloggers to take part, you also want to make it as easy as possible for their community to find and follow you, which means you need to create a clear call to action.

When you first started thinking about your blog tour, you’ll have identified your ideal outcome—the action you want people to take as a result of reading a blog tour post. This might be subscribing to your mailing list, signing up to hear more about a particular service or product, or even purchasing the service or product you’re promoting. Provide your bloggers with a snippet of text they can include with their post that asks people to do that as clearly as possible.

For example, when I hosted my blog tour, my aim was to encourage readers to visit the registration page for my course so they could learn more and, if it was a good fit, sign up. As you can see from the email above, I asked bloggers to include a specific snippet of text that encouraged people to do this.

5. Be a gracious host

This goes without saying, but coming out of a whirlwind blog tour and launch, it can fall by the wayside. Say thank you to everyone involved in the tour after it’s over. Share a couple of stats with them, like how many people were spreading the word and educating people about your chosen topic or any positive feedback you received so they can see the impact of the collective project.

6. Accommodate post-tour traffic

Just because the blog tour is officially over doesn’t mean that people aren’t still going to be finding your site through the different tour posts. Even if you were running a time-sensitive launch that ends shortly after your blog tour, include an opt-in form on the page where latecomers can register to hear more the next time you open for registration.

Blog Tours Done Right

As you’ll see from the examples above, blog tours come in all shapes and sizes so don’t be afraid to put your own stamp on your tour! Done right, blog tours are a fabulous way of spreading the word about a new book, course, or event and connecting with similar-minded bloggers and business owners in the process. Although they do take some organization, hosting your own blog tour is a great chance to build relationships, grow your audience and have fun in the process.

Have you run a blog tour, or contributed to one? What are your best practice tips? Leave a comment and let us know. And stay tuned for The Road to Solopreneur Success blog tour, starting Monday, September 14th to promote One Woman Shop’s limited-time Solopreneur Success Bundle!

building your online community e-course

How the One Woman Shop Partnership All Began

how the one woman shop partnership began

This is a story, all about how…

Now that we’ve firmly implanted Will Smith (AKA The Fresh Prince) into your head, we thought we’d actually share a story: the story of how we -- Sara Frandina and Cristina Roman, also known as the Co-Head Honchos of One Woman Shop -- met (since behind-the-scenes posts are our thing these days).

This past April, One Woman Shop became an official LLC partnership between us. This was the icing on the cake -- you see, it was an unofficial partnership for just about the past year, and was run solely by Cristina prior to that.

So how did two solopreneurs in different parts of the country end up teaming up to co-run a community for other solopreneurs?

It all started with an opt-in. As a career coach, Cristina created a downloadable worksheet that helped professionals determine their career priorities. Sara, a frustrated 9-5er on the verge of making her leap into full-time solopreneurship, entered her email and snagged the freebie.

After receiving an email from Cristina about career coaching services, Sara booked a session and we jumped on a coaching call. After learning about Sara’s interest in freelancing (and giving her pro-tips regarding invoicing, legal contracts, and more), Cristina suggested that she check out her new site, One Woman Shop. Included in the email was a survey about how much Sara might be interested in paying for a membership to said site.

Sara immediately saw the value of a community + resource hub like One Woman Shop and responded enthusiastically (to say the least), offering to help out in any way she could. Her first guest post landed on the site in April of 2014, and in May, Cristina and Sara hopped on a brainstorming call to follow up on the survey. Just a week later, Sara began writing and editing for One Woman Shop and...

Fast forward a bit and a fun, productive partnership emerged!

Why are we telling you this? For us, the story of how we met online -- and what came of it -- perfectly encapsulates the concepts we present in our brand new Building Your Online Community e-course.

We don’t want to give too much away, but we’ll talk in detail about some of the things you’ve seen here:

  • creating an opt-in
  • promoting that opt-in to those who might benefit from it
  • taking new relationships deeper through phone and video calls
  • collaborating effectively with your new online friends

...and those are just the highlights.

We are solopreneurs. We know the value of community. We’ve built one we’re incredibly proud of -- and we want to give you the building blocks to do the same.

Building Your Online Community

Have questions about building your online community, or the course in general? Join us for our #BYOCommunity Twitter Power Hour on Monday, 6/15 at 9pm EST where we’ll answer your questions live! To submit questions beforehand, email us!

How To Ask For The Support You Need

There are few things that strike fear into an entrepreneur. Networking. Taxes. Tech glitches on launch day. And asking for help. After all, we’re in charge of everything – doesn’t that mean we’re supposed to be the expert on everything?

Nope. Not at all – the pressure is off.

It can be tough to fess up when something isn’t your strong suit and humbling to ask for a helping hand, but reaching out for support isn’t a sign of weakness - it’s a sign of strength.

Asking for support will require effort and vulnerability on your part, but before deciding to stick it out on your own, consider the impact of not asking for help: hours spent slogging through trial-and-error; not having energy or time to create new content or connect with potential clients; the added expense of bringing in a pro to save the day after something goes wonky. Or worse - being stuck in the status quo, and not moving your business forward. Facing risks like these, asking for the help you need trumps stubborn independence, every time.

Read on for three steps to getting the support you need to help your business thrive.

1. Clarify

First thing’s first: figure out what you need help with. Get clear on what will move you forward, and what you can’t do yourself. It’s important to fill this list with intentional and strategic activities.

A good place to start is your to-do list. If an item has been making multiple appearances, yet never getting crossed off, it’s a good candidate. Whether it’s fear, skill set or lack of time that’s preventing you from getting it done, that can be overcome. Another good place to find items you need help with is in your future plans. What big, exciting services or products are you bringing into the world? Do a quick brainstorm of all of the moving parts associated with each of them, and circle the ones that aren’t in your sweet spot.

2. Curate

With your list of ‘help me!’ items in hand, begin compiling a resource list of people who have the needed skill sets. Think of it like building your business’ go-to team. Look towards your friends, family, and colleagues (both online and in real life). Start with going through your social media contacts and jotting down which areas of expertise jump out at you. It’s not about delving into profiles and portfolios just in case they’ve got a secret super power you haven’t noticed before. Most of us have a stand out specialty that will be top of mind. Still have something you can’t find a resource for? Tap into your second circle of connections. Know a gal who knows a gal? Ask for an introduction or referral. [Editor’s note: the One Woman Shop directory is a great place to start your search for talented solopreneurs.]

3. Communicate

The final step is to reach out and ask for the support you need. This involves clearly expressing what you need help with, outlining expectations, and aiming for an ‘easy yes’ for the other person. Let’s see how those wrap up into your request.

  • Get Specific: Asking for ‘help with your website’ is far too broad. Narrow it down to the specific action item you need help with. “Can you please help me come up with a great headline for my sales page?” is much better.
  • Outline Expectations: What kind of support do you need? A quick email? Phone call? A done-for-you tweak? Spell out how you’d like to receive help, and what your timeline is. “I have a few ideas, and would appreciate your thoughts via email or Skype. My launch is scheduled for 4 weeks from now.”
  • Easy Yes: Your chances of receiving help are greater when you bring down the barriers to someone saying yes. Consider their schedule, how long helping you will take, and the strength of your connection to them when asking for support. “I know you’ve got a full week, but am hoping that you’d have 15 minutes to hop on the line and help me through this. I’ve attached the ideas I’ve come up with, and your input and perspective would be very much appreciated.”

Shifting your mindset is key in taking these three steps. It requires understanding that admitting blind spots and asking for help makes you a stronger business woman, capable of tackling – with the help of your go-to team - whatever life or business throws your way.

Support is a Two-Way Street

Now that you’ve unlocked the keys to asking for support, be open to offering assistance, or stepping up when someone has the courage to ask you for help. The impact of helping others will be more valuable than you can imagine. As solopreneurs, contributing to the success of others is just as important as making sure our own needs are met. After all, we may be one woman shops…but we’re certainly not in it alone.

Tonight: Inaugural One Woman Shop Twitter Chat!

It's finally here! Tonight, from 9-10pm EST, Cristina and Sara of One Woman Shop will be hosting the first monthly #OWSchat Twitter party!

Join us for a fast-paced hour where we're talking solopreneurship, goal setting, and inspiration for 2015.

Can't wait to "meet" you tonight!

PS - First ever Twitter chat? We highly recommend using a platform like TweetChat to make it easy on you!

Guest Post: 4 Tools to Help Grow Your Community

As a solo business owner, you’re probably looking to grow your community of collaborators, fellow business owners, mentors, clients, and customers, right? If you’re impatient like me, the “build it and they will come” mentality just isn’t cutting it for you. You know that with a little bit of resourcefulness and a touch of proactivity, you can grow your community much quicker than if you post and pray (okay, enough with the business catchphrases, I promise).

Click to Tweet

Click to Tweet is a free tool that lets you create pre-drafted messages for Twitter that others can send out. Top startups have incorporated viral sharing into their business models (think: Groupon and Instagram.) Consider Click to Tweet to be your own little exercise in viral sharing growth hacking.

You may already include Click to Tweets in your blog posts and on Facebook groups, but have you thought to incorporate them on your slides when doing a speaking gig, in your email signature, and in your emails to your list?

Read the rest of the post over on Freelance to Freedom Project!

Guest Post: How to Proactively Grow Your Email List

If you’re like most solo or small business owners, you’re constantly on the lookout for ways to grow your community of supporters, clients, customers and collaborators.

At One Woman Shop, a resource hub and community for female solopreneurs and freelancers, we have a secret weapon that we use to proactively grow our community: email. No, not email marketing, just email.

Since adding smart, resourceful solo business owners to our community is one of our top priorities, we decided to take matters into our own hands. Sure, we spend time pinning, tweeting and Facebooking and yes, we set up a pop-up plugin on the site and started offering an opt-in freebie, but one of our biggest initiatives recently has been direct outreach through email.

It’s simple, really. Anytime we see a female solo business owner online, we send them an email telling them about our community and asking them if they would like to join our email list.

Read the rest of the post over on Design*Sponge!