8 links for bloggers + small businesses that are helpful like WHOA

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There are so many smart, helpful people writing smart helpful things on the internet! I rounded up some particularly amazing things for you.

Wait, what? Did you know you can track which of your posts get pinned? And how frequently? And by whom?

Co-signed. Stop using Twitter as a Facebook feed. It looks laaaaazy.

Gosh, but I love transparency. Pinch of Yum is a super successful food blogger and each month she and her husband assemble (and publish!) a traffic and income report. Just reading this made me consider several new income streams! Because if she’s making $23,000+ a month it seems like she knows what she’s doing.

More transparency: the reality of many sponsored posts.

5 tips you’d never think of for personalizing stock photos in social media.

More things I didn’t know about! 12 blogger outreach programs you should sign up for – especially if you’re a fashion, design, or food blogger!

In case you need to be reminded how to run a smart, engaging social media campaign.

If you’re a copywriter (or a writer of any sort) you’ll enjoy these 12 writing exercises that will transform your copy.

Have you read/learned/encountered/written anything good lately? Leave links in the comments!

P.S. Work happiness secret: track your efforts, not your accomplishments and 5 ideas for interesting, I-actually-want-to-click-that tweets.

photo by aleksi tappura // cc

8 Things You Can (and Should!) Do When Business Is Slow

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It happens to the best of us. Things are rolling along nicely – new clients! big meetings! money dripping into your account at a sweet and steady pace!  And then allofasudden, nothing but the sound of wind down a long hallway and an owl in the distance. Whoooooo! Whooooo!  Whoooooo are you going to live with when business dries up? 

For the first few days, you treasure the empty inbox. You go to matinees, grab long lunches with friends, and catch up on your Netflix.

But after a few weeks, you start getting a little nervous. Nervous and twitchy and compulsively checking your bank account balance – as though seeing that number is going to help at all.

Dude. Worry not. All of us – every single self-employed human – has gone through dry spells. At the risk of being a total Pollyanna, let’s try to reframe this downtime as an opportunity to get some awesome stuff done.

Here are eight confidence-building, business-netting things you can (and should!) do when business is slow. 

Update your permanent pages
Despite my years as a professional copywriter, I had the same About page for, oh, ever. And my old sales pages? Well, they’re gone now AND THAT IS NOT AN ACCIDENT. I regularly look through and update older, high traffic posts but it’s rare that I look at my own permanent pages – and I bet you’re the same. Seems a bit narcissist to read your own bio on the regs, right?

But other people are constantly reading your About page and Sales pages – my Yes and Yes About page has 50,000+ views! Here’s a 15-part tutorial to help you write better sales pages and here’s a post full of great ‘cheats’ to finish your About page.

Also – you know your About page should end with a call to action, right? Like, you (charmingly) ask them to follow you on social media and/or subscribe to your list? Yeah, I thought you already knew that.

Update and gather testimonials
In a perfect world, you’d have an automated system in place to help you gather testimonials a week or so after you’ve wrapped up with a client. I’m still working out the kinks in mine, but thus far it consists of an email that I schedule for two weeks after we’re finished with a link that takes them to a Google form. The form elicits all sorts of feedback and they let me know if I can use that feedback on my testimonial page.

Not sure what makes a good testimonial?
1. Data! How many more sales? How many more Twitter followers? How many dates? How much money or time saved? We want hard numbers, son.
2. Barriers to purchase that were overcome. “I always thought life coaches were for hippies, but then I hired Nancy.” “$1,500 seemed like a lot of money to invest in my engagement photos, but it was sooooo worth it.”

Contact previous clients and see if they need anything
It’s a million times easier to get repeat business than convert a new customer. Go have a good online stalk of all your previous clients and see if there’s anything you can help with. They’ve been tweeting about a big new project – do they need your help designing the website? She tweeted that they’re expecting a baby – do they need pregnancy photos? Send a sweet, personalized email reaching out and offering to help.

Optimize some of your older, high-traffic posts and re-promote them
Make the post images Pinterest-friendly! Make the posts more readable! Include links to other posts within this post! See if you can use them as guest posts on other sites!

Then re-promote these newly awesome-i-fied posts on your social media channels. Eassssy.

Pitch guest posts or offer yourself up for interviews
When I offered myself up for interviews, I got about 15 takers (!) over a month and a half. That means that heaps of new readers and potential clients heard and read all about me. Nice, right? You can do the same. Find podcasts that regularly feature people in your field and pitch yourself!

You’d also do well to bookmark sites that feature guest posters in your field. Some particularly great ones: Freelancers Union, Oh My Handmade, and  Designsponge’s Biz Ladies column.

Create a different form of your offerings
Can you turn a one-on-one offering into a group offering? Could you turn an e-course into a live workshop? Could you repurpose an old, no-longer-selling-that-well ebook into a series of blog posts? Or guest posts? There are innumerable ways to reinvent your wheel.

Learn that thing you know you should be learning (but have been putting off)
Like, A/B split testing. Or Google Analytics. Or starting a newsletter. Or making videos. Or creating a series of autoresponders.  You knooooow you should be doing these things (and by ‘you’ I also mean ‘me’). Let’s make a pact to finally figure them out. Ready? Go.

Schedule out a bunch of social media updates
I’m a huge fan of promoting other people’s work and I think it’s been a big part of my ‘online success,’ as counterintuitive as that may seem.  I squirrel away great posts and links that I find all over the internet and then schedule out daily ‘Fave Read of The Day’ tweets. (Are we Twitter friends? We should be.)  These pre-scheduled tweets send traffic to lovely people, entertain my Twitter friends, and help me connect with the people I’m promoting.

You can also pre schedule tweets that promote your products and services or link to older, now-optimized posts.

What do you do when business is slow? Leave your tips in the comments!

P.S. If you liked this and don’t want to miss future posts (and you want two free ebooks that’ll help your business), may I be so bold as to suggest that you sign up for my newsletter?

photo by scott robinson // cc

I Made Something New! (Other people liked it. You might, too?)

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One of the ‘Executive Decisions’ I made when I started working for myself was that I wanted to keep my clients close and my work personal.

I have absolutely nothing against bloggers who run workshops/mastermind groups/group course but that’s not really my style. My own blog is a bit not-by-the-books (even if there’s a lot of strategy behind it) and when I’ve taken group courses, so much of the advice I received was one-size-fits-all-blogs.

While I appreciate your advice, Other Professional Blogger, I don’t do makeup tutorials so no, I shouldn’t pitch Benefit.
And no, I don’t want to do sponsored Twitter parties.
And no, I don’t want to go to an all-inclusive resort in exchange for 57 hashtagged tweets.

Again, there’s nothing wrong with any of those things (they’re all money-makers!) they’re just very much not for me.

But one-on-one consulting is speeeeeendy. If someone knows what they’re doing, their hourly consulting rate usuallystarts at $200. And ad space on high-traffic blogs can start at $900!

I wanted to create something for micro-businesses, bloggers, or shoe-string-budget sites that would pair customized, just-for-you suggestions and strategy with ad space on Yes and Yes at a rate they could actually afford. 

Enter: Secret Weapon.
Price: $250.

Secret Weapon is a built-just-for-you checklist of 15-20 suggestions for your online space paired with traffic-rocketing ad space.

Depending on your goals + products, we can get you
* more sales + better conversions
* readers that stick around
* heaps more newsletter signups
* a bigger, more engaged social media following
* guest posts on big, high-traffic websites
* more retweets, pins, likes

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“I’ve only been had time to implement half of the suggestions Sarah gave me. But with just two months and seven changes, I’ve seen a marked increase in comments (three times as many as this time last year), 140+ new Twitter followers, 460+ new Pinterest followers, and readers are spending 52% more time on my site. My Domain Authority increased from 23 to 27, which from an SEO perspective, is amazing! Her suggestions with a good mix of quick fixes and more long-term enhancements that I know will lead to big things. Sarah gives you a phenomenal amount of insight and traffic for your marketing dollar.”
Erika Sevigny, All Things E

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Interested? Here are the details:

  • Click that ‘Book Now’ to let me know you’re ready for your Secret Weapon
  • Fill in this handy, dandy form with your  URLs, traffic stats, and business goals so I can properly stalk you
  • Within 2 business days, I’ll send you a packet with 15-20 specific-to-you suggestions
  • You spend the next 30(ish) days taking some (or all!) of that advice and polishing your online life till it shines
  • At the beginning of the next month, your 220×100 ad goes into the Yes and Yes sidebar and your images, products, and social media links are included in a sponsor post seen by all of my readers (even the ones reading in RSS feeds)
  • You bask in the glory of new clients, more traffic, and an online space you’re proud of


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“Secret Weapon helped me gain so many Instagram and Pinterest followers! I can pinpoint the sharp increase in Instagram and Pinterest followers to the day I started using Sarah’s suggestions on my blog. I went from gaining a few new followers per week to a couple dozen. And the ad space was great! My data-loving jaw dropped when I looked at site statistics for readers from Yes & Yes: the average (lovely) visitor from Y&Y stayed on my site for 3:22 minutes compared to an average 1:22, the bounce rate was 44% compared to the average 78%, and Y&Y was my second largest traffic source for the month.  Alicia Johnston, Jaybird


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I really hope you’ll let me immerse myself in your online space, help you perfect it, and then introduce you to my readers. I just know that Secret Weapon will totally change your online life!

P.S. If you’re looking for your weekly dose of small business and blogging advice, check out my guest post post Coaching Blueprint about how to create a sane, sustainable editorial calendar!

 

Fix Your Time Estimates, Make More Money

This guest post comes to us from Michelle, who lives in Austin, TX where she teaches creative freelancers how to be more productive and organized and also does writing and content marketing for businesses. When she’s not working, she can be found hanging out with her Shiba Inu, watching an exceedingly nerdy show (or New Girl), and consuming copious amounts of dark chocolate and coffee/tea. 

make better time estimates

Service providers are often told to “productize” their services by creating packages – for example, instead of having editing services available at $50/hr, having a “blog post package” that includes editing of 5 blog posts (up to 1,000 words) and editorial calendar suggestions at a set package price.

There’s not a one-size-fits-all solution when it comes to freelancing, and this is no exception – billing hourly instead of creating service packages might be the best way for you to go. There’s definitely a few strong benefits to going the package route, though:

  • As you do the work, you’ll get faster at it – meaning that you’re making a better hourly rate per package without having to have the “I’m raising my hourly rates” conversation every other month,
  • Having set service packages can prevent “scope creep” syndrome (i.e. “Can you just do this one more thing?”) – clients may still ask for additions, but you have a clear set of services that you agreed to provide for them based on the service package they chose.
  • It makes monthly income goals easier and more attainable – “I need to sell five of this package and two of that one” seems a lot more doable than “I need to bill at least 80 hours this month at $X/hr.”

The main pitfall of going this route is that, as human beings, we notoriously suck at creating accurate time estimates. Our brains are just not wired that way, unfortunately – “accurately guessing how long it takes to write a blog post” was prrrobably a low priority compared to “knowing not to antagonize a saber-toothed tiger” and “ability to run quickly.”

Getting better at it takes practice, and you will improve over time – but I still regularly talk to freelancers who are several years in and figuring it out. Learning the trial and error way is long and hard and quite frankly, it sucks. Instead, today I’m going to teach you why you probably suck at time estimates and how to create more accurate ones.

Why you probably suck at time estimates

As mentioned, “creating accurate time estimates for abstract tasks” was probably pretty low on the totem-pole, evolutionarily. However, there’s another major culprit at play here, which is being in flow.

Most of the time you’re doing your work-work (writing copy or editing if you’re a writer, actually laying out design if you’re a designer, etc.) you’re in flow state – you’re totally engaged in what you’re doing, and you’re a little challenged but not so challenged that you’re frustrated. When you sit down to work, get engrossed in a project, and suddenly look up and it’s three hours later and oh yeah, you really need to eat something? 

That’s flow state.

There’s been several studies done on this and one definitive work. Being in flow state is a really good thing – it’s similar to meditating in that doing it regularly can help dial down anxiety and increase overall feelings of well-being. Not to mention if you’re in flow state, that means you’re creating higher quality work. The problem is that one of the defining attributes of the state is that you lose track of time – we literally have no concept of time while we’re in that state. Hence, bad time estimates.

The second thing that people forget about when creating time estimates is “switching cost.” This is what happens when you change from task A to task B, and you’re not quite engaged in task B yet, but you’re not working on task A any more either, so you have about 15-30 minutes (sometimes longer, but that’s about the average) where you’re much less productive than you’d normally be. This is one of the reasons that multitasking is supposed to tank productivity instead of helping it – you’re constantly going between tasks, so you’re not doing either thing to the fullest extent of your abilities.

Now that you know what’s going on behind the scenes, let’s talk about how to fix it. 

How to create an accurate time estimate for your service package:

  1.  Create a task list for the package. This list needs to include every. single. thing. that happens in between you receiving payment and the client getting their final product. The problem people run into here is that they say, “Oh, it’s simple! They pay me, I write the copy, we do a round of edits, and we’re done! So my task list is short.” Nuh uh. It’s more like: they pay you, you have to send the intake questionnaire, you book the first appointment, you have to review their answers and take notes before the appointment…you get the idea. Every single task, no matter how small, put it on the list. Administrative work, intake work, the process of them getting the deliverables and paying the final balance, everything.
  2. Once you have that task list, create a time estimate for every single task. Ideally, you’re basing this off of actual data you have, because you’ve been tracking your time. Less ideally and more realistically, you’re kind of spitballing it (but that’s okay, as long as you start tracking your time and check back to see how accurate your estimates were). Be as accurate as you can, and again, don’t forget to include things like email – how many emails do you send to a client on average? How long does it take you to type and send each email? And so on.
  3. Then, add 15 minutes between each task. This is to cover the aforementioned switching cost and make sure it’s not coming back to haunt you, come the end of the project.
  4. Add the time estimate up and then multiply it by 1.5.

You’re probably thinking that’s a lot of padding, and it kind of is. Part of the reasoning behind all the extra padding is that I have had freelancers do this exercise and then check back with me in a few weeks. And…they usually find that after tracking their time, the x1.5 estimate was, in reality, pretty close to how much time they’re actually spending.

Part of the idea is that not every service package is going to take exactly the same amount of time. Sometimes you just have a harder time nailing the design or copy or whatever – one client might use all the rounds of revisions, one might not use any. You need to account for both of those clients in your time estimates and create a range that you can use to double-check your pricing against – if you have a client who uses the amount of time in your high-end estimate, are you still making a livable wage? 

Crappy time estimates are a large contributor to “I’ve cut down my spending, I’m working way too much, and I’m still not making enough money – what gives?” syndrome. Which, personally, is a syndrome that I’d like to see eradicated once and for all – so do your homework and make sure your time estimates don’t suck!

Do you struggle with time estimates? What tricks have you used to get better?

P.S. An insanely basic plan for starting a business + working for yourself and How to juggle freelance + a job + a blog

photo by // cc

7 Crazy helpful links for bloggers + creatives + small business owners

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In which I round up incredibly helpful links for you! In the theme of self-employment, creativity, and small business!

I’ve hung up my copy-writing gloves (with the exception of this one client) but if you need guidance writing a sales page this 15-part blog series is SO INSANELY HELPFUL.

Is it just me or is Google Analytics ridiculously non-intuitive? Ugh. Never fear, Freelancers Union is sharing the basics with us.

I pour 90% of my social media effort into Twitter (are we friends?) so this super scientific breakdown of words to use (and avoid) is incredibly helpful.

You pre-schedule out your Tweets, right?  Are you using the Buffer app? And if you are, are you doing it correctly?

If work is wearing you down or you’re just having a tough time staying positive, here are five tips to staying happy even when you’re exhausted.

Did you know you can make your images more SEO-friendly?

Podcast recommendations for creatives and small business owners – I hadn’t heard of most of these!

And a few things you might have missed: Why you need to post consistently and How to blog if you don’t like writing

letterpress print by awkward ladies club

7 interesting, innovative blog posts ideas you haven’t seen a million times before

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It’s painfully easy to believe that there’s nothing new on the internet.
A vignette of adorable, striped clothing we can’t afford ? Seen it. 
A numbered list of ways you can improve something? I WRITE THOSE ALL THE TIME
Interviews? Dur. A bunch of curated links? Hell, I tell all my clients to do that (because those posts are incredibly effective.) 

But occasionally I stumble over something new and head-turning on the internet. Something that makes me think “Well, aren’t you clever?!  I think you might have just reinvented the wheel! Or at least framed something in a particularly awesome and new way.”

And then I add those blog posts to a folder titled ‘non-boring post inspiration.’

If you’re looking for a bit of motivation, or just some reassurance that blogging is more than product roundups and personal essays, look no further. Here are 7 I’ve-never-seen-that-before blog posts that might suit you and your blog, too.

1. Taking stock

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Posted by: Pip of Meet Me At Mike’s
Why it’s innovative: It’s community-building and meme-worthy. Lots of bloggers create posts that consist of their Instagram accounts or occasionally tell us what books they’re reading, but Pip’s 36-item list gives her readers an easy to digest but close look into her life – which readers usually love! It’s short, easy to read, and oddly fascinating. It’s also totally meme-worthy and I could see lots of other bloggers using this template and linking back to her.

Your spin on it: If you write a topic-specific blog you could create a list like this for you and your readers! If you’re food blogger it could be things like: currently eating, new recipe I’m trying, seasonal food I can’t wait to stock up on, latest kitchen purchase, cookbook I’m currently obsessed with, super unhealthy thing I love. You get the idea!

2. Links visually arranged by theme

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Posted by: Brittany of The House That Lars Built
Why it’s innovative: This is really just a link roundup (and you know how I feel about those) but it’s been framed in a fun, thematic way. Readers are much more likely to click on those links and showcasing other bloggers’ work in such a pretty, professional way is incredibly flattering.

Your spin on it: Wouldn’t this be a cute, click-catching way to arrange links for a topic-specific blog? If you’re a beauty blogger, you could round up DIY beauty treatments for hair, face, hands, and feet. If you’re a fashion blogger, you could round up accessories for head, ears, neck, wrists, and feet.

3. The world’s shortest, most engaging travel post

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Posted by: Amber of Code for Something
Why it’s innovative: It’s a short, engaging way to catalog memories of a specific time + place and share your travels (without boring your readers). If you’ve ever returned from a long, exciting trip and tried to tell your friends about it, you know that people have a verrrrrrry short attention span for travel stories. They weren’t there. They don’t care about squat toilets. The same goes for blog readers. They probably just want to see your photos and read the extremely abridged, bullet-pointed version of the trip. This post communicates novels of insight in just a few words.

Your spin on it: Tune into your senses when you’re someplace new. And then (succinctly) tell your readers about it.

4. A visual link roundup for an imaginary event

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Posted by: Kelly at Design Crush
Why it’s innovative: Again, it’s pretty much a link roundup, but it’s organized in a gorgeous way that’s helping readers accomplish something specific. Like, lots of readers probably saw this and thought “Oh, me too! I’ve been wanting to throw an appetizer party! And lo, now I have all the resources!”

Your spin on it: You could do this with just about anything – recipes, products, and resources that will help your readers plan an awesome camping trip. A roundup of useful things that would help someone with a cross-country move. A collection of things for new moms. Possibilities = endless.

5. 10-second video tour (using still photos) 

Posted by: Designsponge*
Why it’s innovative: We’ve all seen video tours of spaces or photo tours, but this is the first time I’ve seen still photos turned into a mini-video! It’s great for those of us with short attention spans and it’s a fantastic way to showcase something even if you’re not a super experienced videographer.

Your spin on it: The possibilities are endless: A tour of your space! Super simple DIYs! Recipes!

6. Audio-ified posts

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Posted by: Esme Wang
Why it’s innovative: Everyone and their brother has a podcast, but what about blog posts? If you’re an aural learner, dyslexic, or you like to cook and clean while absorbing lovely content, the audio versions of blog posts are super useful. It would be particularly fun to listen to blog posts read by your favorite bloggers who have regional accents!

Your spin on it: I’m not sure there’s a way to spin this – just give it a try! Maybe go through your archives, make audio versions of your best stuff, and then tell your Twitter friends to check out your new and improved blog posts.

7. Glorious promotional Instagram photos

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Posted by: Elise Blaha of Elise Joy
Why it’s innovative: Obviously, this isn’t so much a blog post as a way to promote blog posts – but it sure is clever, isn’t it? I’ve struggled to find ways to promote blog posts on Instagram, usually settling for one of the photos I use in the post. Which isn’t particularly engaging. This is so much more interesting!

Your take on it: Think about how you can use handwriting, actual photos, post its, tape, or even gift tags to create images that promote posts.

What are some of the most interesting, unusual blog posts you’ve seen lately? Leave links in the comments!

P.S. Need help coming up with blog post ideas? I can help with that!

photo by death to stock photo

How to take a summer vacation from your blog (without losing all your traffic or business)

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As the child of two teachers and an inveterate, unrepentant traveler I’ve developed a severe aversion to working during the summer
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What? Social media strategy? If by ‘social media strategy’ you mean ‘white sangria in my friend’s backyard.’
Can I do this conference call from the dock? Wrapped in a He-man towel? Because that’s what’s happening.

But since I spread my travel out over the whooooole year, taking three months off – smack dab in the middle of it – isn’t really an option. And I imagine you’re in a similar situation: wanting to slow things down a bit, but not quite ready/able to remove your foot from the proverbial pedal.

If you, too, would like to take a summer vacation of sorts from your blog (without falling off the face of the internet or losing all your business) here are six ways to do just that. 

1. Do a guest post swap
If you, like me, have been blogging for years upon years, you probably have some great content that’s accruing mold in your archives. And I bet your internet friends do, too. Why not ask them if they’re interested in swapping some particularly phenomenal older posts? New readers (and potential clients) will see your stuff and you won’t have to do any extra work!

2. Rewrite old posts
In those aforementioned moldy archives I bet you’ve got some great ideas that weren’t written or expressed particularly well the first time around. It’s okay! That’s the reality of blogging for years – you get shockingly, staggeringly better as you go. Dig through your archives and see if there are any low-traffic-but-good-idea posts that you can polish up, optimize, and repost.

3. If you have approval, post things you wrote for other blogs/websites/publications
Sometimes, when you write a guest post, you’re forbidden from posting that content anywhere else. If that’s not the case (triple check to make sure) repost it on your own site. To keep your karma clean, include an introduction that says something like “This piece originally appeared on Tiny Buddha but it got such a good response I thought you guys might like to take a peek at it, too.”

4. Reformat + repurpose old posts
THIS TIP IS WORTH ITS WEIGHT IN FINELY AGED CHEDDAR. All those clever, helpful posts in your archives? Take all the useful information contained therein and put it in a different format. My ‘How to get over a breakup‘ post is one of my most popular. I could turn it into an infographic, a podcast, a video, or create a worksheet to go with it, turn it into an ebook and use it to bulk up my newsletter list. Here’s an insanely helpful post about all the other ways you can repurpose content.

5. Schedule out posts and tweets into the future
If you’re super ambitious or reluctant to share blogging duties with anyone else, it’s totally possible to write all your own content and schedule your posts and social media weeks (or months!) into the future. When I’m traveling, I usually have 90% of my content scheduled and check in and update from time to time.

6. Just don’t post
Last summer, I made the executive decision that I wasn’t going to post on Fridays anymore on Yes and Yes. I felt like work was eating my life and that I was just doing a lot of things poorly and nothing very well. And you know what the response was? Good for you Sarah! Taking this time to do you will definitely help enhance all aspects of your life. Enjoy your summer!” and “You are one of the few bloggers I read who posts seven times a week. You deserve to do All The Things with happiness and ease. Cheers to playing outside instead of sitting at a computer! Happy Weekend. :)”

In the best and most loving way, let us remember that the world will turn even if we do not post. The internet will not break if we don’t post every day.

Are you taking a summer vacation from your blog or business? How are you managing it? Share your tips in the comments!

P.S. Want more super applicable advice like this – tailored to you and your business? Check out Laser Focus.

 photo by // cc

How to figure out pricing once and for all (and stop stressing about it already)

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This guest post comes to us via Temmy Ola, a copywriter who specializes in crafting crazy-awesome copy for entrepreneurs and online brands. She believes in love selling, and helps clients craft their core messages by lovingly connecting with their tribes on a deeper, emotional level to attract the right clients, make more money and live the life of their dreams. Download her bombshell kit for free here; bearing in mind that she doesn’t mind a little stalking on Twitter.

Sitting all alone in your home office, your stress level is slowly rising. I mean, you’re done with that genius of an idea you’ve been cooking up for a while, and you can’t wait to unveil it to the world as your ‘next big thing’. Palm sweating and all, you’re struggling desperately to find that ‘price’ – the right one for both you and your ideal clients. The answer is not that simple, you turn to Google and maybe other superstars in your niche, and then you see that same over-used cliché springing up every time – “Charge what you’re worth.”

Charging what you’re worth is misleading, to say the least, and shouldn’t by any means be the yardstick for pricing your products and services. Why? Because your worth cannot be quantified. Your worth equals everything that encompasses you – the summary of your years of experience, your level of education, the skills you’ve acquired over the years and everything you’ve invested in yourself, which frankly, is priceless. So instead of charging what you’re worth, charge what your product or service is worth. How to do that? Read on.

  • Premium positioning
    This doesn’t only apply to pricing models; it applies to every other aspect of your business. Position yourself as the expert. Don’t wait for permission to own your expertise, own it already. Premium positioning awards you the opportunity to charge premium prices. When people see you as the expert in your field, and are able to associate quality with whatever you lay your hands on, very few people will have issues with your pricing.

  • Do the quality test
    The next time you want to roll out a new product or service, or even a new launch, gather a group of trusted friends or colleagues to beta test for you. This is not for collecting testimonials, but for constructive criticism and feedback. They’re getting your product or service for free, and you’re testing the waters to know if you’re truly delivering value. After the beta testing, send them a follow up e-mail and ask a series of questions. This gives you an insight into how others see your product or service and enables you to add more value before you finally unveil it.

  • Think like your (ideal) client
    Chances are you’re not your ideal client. This is where you have to get creative. Step out of your shoes for once and step into the shoes of your ideal clients. How rich are your ideal clients? Will they be able to afford this? Ask yourself all these questions before deciding on a price point. Be careful here though, as most people will buy stuffs they may not otherwise be able to afford, if it addresses their “pain points” and they can clearly see the value.

  • Keep track of your investments
    Add up every little thing you invested to make that product or service a reality. This includes every dollar you spent and most importantly your time. How much do you need to break even and make profits? How many clients do you need to work with, without compromising on quality? Add all these together, and pick a price you’re most comfortable with.

Using the above mantras, pick a price that puts money in your pocket and value in your client’s pocket. Remember you’re in business to make money, and if you don’t, you’ll eventually become stressed out and burn out.

How do you set your prices? Tell us in the comments!

photo via tax credits // cc

8 Insanely Helpful Links For Small Businesses (And 1 T-shirt)

it-guy-t-shirtsuper helpful t-shirt for sale here

It’s been so long since I’ve had colleagues, I forgot to miss them! But they can help you workshop ideas, convince you to send (or not send) that email, and jumpstart your creativity. I really liked this post : 6 tips for staying creative without colleagues.

I’m late to jump on the Instagram bandwagon (let’s be friends!) so I gobbled up Justina’s 6 easy ways to grow your Instagram following fast.

A bunch of advice I need to follow: How to optimize a landing page.

This post is full of that totally-obvious-advice-you-haven’t-thought-of: 3 ways to make more money on your next sale.
Offer discounts on your passive products to your 1-on-1 clients.
You’ve already got clients who love working with you, so why not give them some extra perks? They’ll be getting an awesome deal and you’ll be making an extra sale. Set up a special VIP Client Club that has special discounts for each of your passive products. Make it even more customized by offering them discounts on the specific products you feel they could benefit from. You could include the suggested product and special discount codes in your wrap-up report you provide each of your clients.

Yes! In a perfect world (re: about 50% of the time) I do all my writing before noon and spend the afternoon on email/formatting/being outside doing things not related to work. Scheduling time to work is so important!
Include time spent working on your business, and not just in your business. Schedule time for blog innovation and experimentation—things like investigating new platforms and emerging technology.

Two of my favorite things: travel and self-employment! Traveling like an entrepreneur.

Always needed: How to fire through your to-do list (and have fun doing it).

You already know about If This, Then That, right? I’m still figuring out how to use it, but once I’ve got it sussed? Watch out, internet.

What awesome things did you write/read/discover this month? Leave your favorite links in the comments!

2 Lazy Things I’m Doing To Improve My Writing + Business By Osmosis* (Yes, Really)

lazy-ways-to-improve-your-business

Like most other Type-A humans, I am frequently haunted by the fear that I Could Be Doing More.  I could be styling my Instagram photos better. I could be delegating better. I could be re-writing my own copy and pitching new clients and ohgodtheresneverenoughtimeishouldprobablyeatthatwholebagofshreddedcheesenow.

Not surprisingly, this mindset is
a) exhausting
b) not sustainable
c) not particularly conducive to producing positive, proud-making things

So lately, I’ve been trying to toe the line between proactive self-improvement and cutting myself some effing slack. Giving myself the time and space to breathe. And play bingo with my dude. And discover $5 treasures at the thrift store.  But also move forward on big exciting projects and become the writer and do-er I know I can be.

Here are two little tweaks I’ve made that I think are making a big difference, without taking up more time or consuming my life.

1. I listen to business podcasts while I make lunch
As I’m assembling a salad or grilling a quinoa burger (or eat a giant bowl of popcorn), I’m listening to Social Triggers, The Lede or The Eventual Millionaire. I don’t take notes, I don’t pause the podcast if I have to pop out to put in a load of laundry, I just 80% listen. I have faith that if an idea is good enough, it’ll stick. If doesn’t stick, I’ll probably encounter someone else talking/writing/tweeting about it in the near future.

2. I read authors who write the way I write (but, you know, way better)
If you write for a living and spend a lot of your free time reading, you might do the same ridiculous thing I do: inadvertently start writing like the book you’re reading.  I DO THIS ALL THE TIME. In fact, if you look carefully you can probably tell which blog posts I wrote while reading Annie Proulx.

But I’ve decided to stop fighting it and start leveraging it. I have enough awareness of my own writing voice that I know a (much more talented) kindred spirit when I read them. So if I’m going to be writing like the people I’m reading, I might as well be reading people whose writing gently nudges me closer to a better version of myself.

Because I’ll never, ever be able to write like Paul Harding
“And as the ax bites into the wood, be comforted in the fact that the ache in your heart and the confusion in your soul means that you are still alive, still human, and still open to the beauty of the world, even though you have done nothing to deserve it.” 

But there is some hope that someday I could write like Bill Bryson
“As my father always used to tell me, ‘You see, son, there’s always someone in the world worse off than you.’ And I always used to think, ‘So?”

Of course, I’m not going to strictly limit myself to humorous, first-person writing but in those moments when I’m aimlessly casting around for something to read, I’m making an effort to choose people whose style is like a much, much better version of mine.

Do you have any tips for improving your craft without breaking a sweat?

* yes, I’m aware that reading and listening doesn’t really count as osmosis. But I tried sleeping under business books and that didn’t really accomplish much.

photo by Matt MacGillivray // cc