Goals

  • The Power Behind an Email List

    When I first started out in business I had no one to show me the ropes, I didn’t know where to look for guidance, and I didn’t really realize there was more to business than trying to sell pretty things. I worked entirely too hard trying to get my products in front of an audience.

    Social media is great. I really do love it. I wouldn’t have a sustainable business without it. But if you run a business and you manage your social media, you know how hard it is to attract attention in a huge sea of a ton of other people trying to attract attention to their product as well.

    For a long time (and for way too long), I ran my online business just using my website and social media. It worked slowly and steadily but it wasn’t easy and I was overworked. Then I was introduced to the power of an email list! I was naive and I didn’t realize how much money I had left on the table by not using an email list years earlier. My business goals and sales became so much easier. Plus it was an awesome way to build a better relationship with my customers. So, dear friend, learn from my mistake. Take advantage of the ‘triad of success’:

    triad-successThere is much to be said about using your website, social media and email list in unison to grow your business. So don’t wait a second longer. Sign up for a email marketing company ASAP. By having an email list, you can send information and products out to your customers and not just hope they see it – as is often the case when you post something on social media. Email is a sacred space in terms of the whole internet online jazz. If you are able to send something directly to a customer, rather than just hoping they see it, you are far better off in terms of your business (i.e. you make more money!).

    So, where do you start? Well, there are several email marketing companies out there so I will tell you what I did. I first went with Mailchimp. Why? Well…it was free and they had a cute monkey mascot that drew me in. But mostly because it was free. I used it for quite a while and it is a great beginner email marketing solution. (I am sure it also works great for the more advanced user. I just didn’t personally use it long enough to know). My list grew and grew and I had to upgrade plans to accommodate my list size, plus I wanted to take advantage of some of the features the free plan didn’t offer. I really can’t say anything bad about Mailchimp because it was pretty much user-friendly and did its job of sending out my emails. The reports of how well your email did among your customers are easy to understand.

    As my list grew bigger, and I wanted to be able to do different things to reach different customers, so I switched to Aweber. I really didn’t have one big concrete reason for switching but after talking with one of my business friends and doing some research on comparisons between the two providers, I felt Aweber would be a better fit for my business.

    The switch was painless and relatively easy. Just a few download upload scenarios and I was able to bring my list with me from Mailchimp to Aweber.

    I have been with Aweber for quite awhile now and I will say this. Holy Smokes! They have some stellar customer service. You can actually send them an email, or call them up. Mailchimp had a database forum type thing and I didn’t feel it answered some of my more complex questions as my list got larger. (Now, it has been awhile since I have used Mailchimp and they may have upgraded their support). Aweber really impressed me with its level of support. When I first signed up, I was able to take advantage of a free trial and once that was over and I knew I was going to stick around, they sent me several videos on how to use their system, and a whole stash of resources to navigate my way. And, then I had a question so I sent an email to them. I got an auto reply that my question would be answered in one business day. Fair enough. I thought waiting a business day was more than generous. But then literally about 5 minutes later, I am contacted by a REAL person with an answer to my question. I was just really impressed.

    So, that being said, I really do like Aweber. There are things from Mailchimp that I liked, and if Aweber and Mailchimp ever had a baby it would be one awesome service. But, overall, I feel that Aweber has been great and my business has definitely benefited from using a list.

    In conclusion, get a list. If you sell anything online, or in the ‘real’ world, sign up for an email marketing provider now. The sooner you can start a list, and work on growing your list, the better your business will be. Your customers are invaluable and to be able to send something directly to them is one of the greatest things in the business world.

    If you have any questions, just comment below and I will be happy to help you out! Have a wonderful day and I will talk to you soon.

    kelli2

     

     

     

    Check out this blog post on ‘Email Marketing and Your Etsy Shop‘.

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  • I Completely Failed at My Career. Here’s Why That’s a Good Thing.

    I am thrilled to show off today’s guest post from Rachel Allen of Bolt from the Blue Copywriting. As so many of us know, life doesn’t always follow ‘the plan’. And, fortunately, sometimes that is the best thing that can happen to us. Take it away, Rachel! 

     

     

    No one’s ever accused me of being unfocused.

    If anything, I trend to the other extreme — and my “I will make this happen come hell or high water” attitude saw me really far in life for 22 years.

    In fact, it saw me through religious prep school, where I made excellent grades, did a slew of extracurriculars, and got a perfect verbal SAT score.

    Then it saw me into a private college where I was an honors student who double majored in journalism and Asian studies and minored in Mandarin.

    I interned at NPR, built a portfolio of published work with everything from interviews with rock stars to exposes of government officials, wrote and defended a giant of a thesis, volunteered, and worked retail in my spare time. I was going to be a journalist, and one with a really great resume at that.

    Then I graduated, and it all went up in smoke.

    Despite the fact that I was more highly educated than 70% of American adults, despite my pretty portfolio, and despite the 200 polished resumes I sent out … I was unemployable. No one was hiring for anything even tangentially related to my degree.

    I was the educational equivalent of all dressed up with no place to go. Cue panic.

    This goal that I had been working so hard for, that I had been promised over and over and over again was waiting at the end of college was just a mirage. In fact, the only job I could get was unpacking boxes on the 6AM shift at Old Navy.

    I felt like I was at a dead end. I now see it was a crossroads.

     I stuck it out for 6 months, saw the people just like me getting more and more entrenched in a job that was a waste of their degrees, knowledge, and talents, and I knew I had to do something. So I packed up and moved across the world … and I still couldn’t get any work.

    Then one day, I saw an ad for an online freelancing, and decided to go for it, just as a stopgap.

    I agonized over that first piece — ad copy for a gift certificate for a ride in a private plane. I spent hours researching it before lovingly crafted 400 words of copy, being sure to insert the required SEO catchphrases so smoothly that the reader would never notice.

    It was beautiful.

    I got paid $3.25 for it.

    I was ecstatic.

    I became completely hooked on the idea of working for myself. I started taking on job after job, learning on the go and realizing that actually, I liked this. And customers started to fall in love with me, and come to me exclusively, and recommend me to their friends. And I started charging more, doing more, and enjoying it more.

    And then one day, I suddenly realized … this wasn’t a stopgap any more. This was going to be my career.

    It totally freaked me out.

    At the time, I was living what looked like the online entrepreneur dream. I was living on a beautiful island in Greece, working from my laptop on a rose covered balcony in the mornings and sunbathing in the afternoons. I was having strapping young men bring me freshly pressed orange juice in oceanside cafes. And I was really unhappy a lot of the time.

    Because this wasn’t the plan. The plan was to be a journalist, to make that degree pay off, to get a “real job”. There were no rules for this new career, no one to tell me if I was doing it right or wrong. And if that was the case, then that meant that the only one who could decide whether this was right for me … was me.

    It took me a year of wrestling with this before I could finally work through whether this was really the right thing for me, and whether I had the moxie to step up and really go for it, instead of constantly having one eye on something else.

    And, though this is incredibly oversimplified, as all narratives are, once I finally did, things largely fell into place. Now, I work from a home office, charge more for a day than I used to make in a week, and travel pretty much whenever and wherever I want. And most importantly, I actually love what I’m doing, and wouldn’t want to do anything else. What I’m doing now is a much better fit for me than journalism ever would have been.

    Here’s the thing.

    This is not the part where I give you a nice tweetable about grit. It’s not the part where I tell you that if you just hustle, you too can create the business of your dreams. And it’s definitely not the part where I tell you that when one door closes, another opens.

    This is the part where I tell you that honestly, it doesn’t matter what you do. There’s no particular virtue in working for yourself, any more than there is any particular virtue in working for a company. The details of your goals don’t really matter — but whether or not they’re the right ones for you really, really does.

    It’s incredibly easy to follow a system because “that’s what you’re supposed to do” or “that’s the plan”, only to end up working very hard to reach one goal, when actually, there’s another one that’s a much better fit.

    So just think about it. Whatever you’re working so hard on right now, just ask yourself if it’s really, truly what you want. Because if it’s not, you can do all the hard work in the world … only to end up missing out on what you’re meant for.

     

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    Rachel Allen is the founder of Bolt from the Blue Copywriting, where she helps small and brave business owners like you shake up the world one industry at a time with devastatingly incisive copy and content that gets right to the heart of who you are and makes your readers’ synapses sparkle.

    Like what you see? There’s more at BoltfromtheBlueCopywriting.com, on Twitter, and on Facebook.

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  • Three ways I stay organized.

    We are focusing on goals this month and getting our business in shape so we can get to the next level of success. One of the top five questions I get over and over again is ‘how do I stay organized?’.

    So, I thought I would share how I stay organized in my business with these three easy steps and give you a peek into my own system.

     

    plan-six-months

    I usually have a focus or theme for my blog posts and newsletters each month. And I have a corresponding printable that I use to track each month of the year. It allows me to concentrate on the big picture and give me a general idea of what my focus is for that month. Plus, this system gives me a good way to brainstorm and make notes of upcoming events.

    content-planner-ad-organization
    Click the image to purchase the 6 month content plan for only $2.97.

     

    month-by-week

    For each month, I have a editorial calendar that I print out. It gives me a reminder of what my overall focus is for the month but then also breaks it down by each week of the month. I keep all of my systems flexible and work off of big blocks on my printable so that if I need to incorporate a different way of doing something I don’t have to create an entirely new system.

    plc-edit-calend-
    Click the image to purchase the editorial calendar for only $2.97.

     

    daily-visual-guide

    And, to stay on track for each day, I use my Daily To Do printable. This gives me a place to keep track of my goals for the day, things I need to remember, and what meetings I have that day. It also reminds me to focus on what I am grateful for each day (this, I believe, is a HUGE factor in getting to the next level of success).

    printable-daily-planner
    Click the image to purchase the daily planner printable for only $1.97.

     

    So that is the flexible system I use. As a creative, my brain goes all over the place so I like working off the big block system and not being too constrained my planners that work around time slots.

    This system has really made a difference in the way I run my business. And I like being able to have an overall glance of what all I am doing. I keep everything in a big binder. So, what kind of system do you use? What works for you? I would love to hear about in the comments below.

    kelli2

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