Thu, 28 August 2014
So many of the women we have interviewed have shown us how they pursue integrity in their small business. In talking with Hayley and Katie, I was especially struck by the fact that ethical business practices were so important to them. This got me thinking about ways each of us can pursue integrity in our own businesses.
As small business owners, our personal integrity is inexorably linked to the integrity of our business; the two are almost synonymous. So as we strive for integrity in our personal lives or business, it will naturally fall into the other area as well. Integrity is something that is a constant pursuit, we can never say we have arrived, but let us always strive toward integrity in everything we do.
"If you have integrity, nothing else matters. If you don't have integrity, nothing else matters." -Alan K. Simpson
"Whoever walks in integrity walks securely, but he who makes his ways crooked will be found out." Proverbs 10:9
Honestly, if you do this one thing, you'll stand out in a crowd! People are so rude anymore, and in the episode I get on a little soapbox about this and start harkening back to the difference in years gone by! I really feel very passionately that people need to be more kind, more gracious, more forgiving, and just generally nicer to each other!
Related to this, when you are wrong, admit it. And if you're not wrong, admit you might have misunderstood and might be wrong! This position can lead to a conversation with the unhappy party instead of just the mutual pointing of fingers.
#2 Be Honest and Trustworthy
Make sure that your product is as you described and does what you say it will do.
Do the advertisements on your blog go against something you believe in? Above all else, make sure you are genuine. Don't pretend to be something you are not just to get more readers. Everyone loves an honest blogger who will give full disclosure on her life and her projects.
Conversely, don't be self deprecating just to fit in. Be proud of your accomplishments and strengths, and don't pretend you stink at something just to fit in. You have a unique set of talents and strengths. Be yourself, because you are great!
#3 Meet Obligations and Be Reliable
This one goes beyond more than just saying you'll do what you say you'll do. Are you doing 10 things and all of them poorly? Maybe it's time to trim down your commitment load and focus on only doing a few things well.
How are you on answering emails? Even if you need to tell someone no, the courteous thing to do is to honor everyone with a reply. Being disorganized is not an excuse. If you are letting people down and letting emails go answered, then you have three choices: Get more organized and find better systems, say no to some commitments, or get help.
#4 Be Passionate and Engaged
If you are passionate about your business, you will produce a better quality product for your customer or client. Maybe you can take this one a step further and only hire people who are passionate about the business too. This will lead to happy customers, a happy business owner, and happy employees.
#5 Be Consumed with the Needs of Others
Wow! This was a point mentioned by Dave Ramsey on his Entreleadership site. This one can be tricky. It is so hard to put others before ourselves and worry about our customers more than our bottom line. You will have to listen to the episode though to find out what company I called out as being more interested in sales than me as a customer.
"The greatness of a man is not in how much wealth he acquires, but in his integrity and his ability to affect those around him positively." -Bob Marley
"Live so that when your children think of fairness, caring, and integrity, they think of you." H Jackson Brown Jr.
A life of integrity is an ongoing pursuit. Let's encourage each other to live our lives and conduct our businesses with integrity.
Tue, 26 August 2014
With a thriving blog, conference, and membership site under her belt, there isn't much Hayley Morgan hasn't done.
Not so fast... add designer and creator of an ethically-made clothing line for kids to the list! (Did we mention she has 4 young boys too?!)
Hayley blogs at TheTinyTwig.com where she focuses on helping women to create lives with more passion and less fuss. Hayley is author of the e-book, The No-Brainer Wardrobe and Co-founder of the Influence Conference and Influence Network.
Her newest venture is Wildly Co. – a collection of ethically manufactured kids clothing that Hayley designs herself. Just this month, her husband Mike quit his corporate gig to join Hayley on the business full-time. We love the faith and spirit of this entrepreneurial pair!
Today on the podcast:
03:13 - What Tipped the Scale for Hayley and her Husband Mike
What Tipped the Scale for Hayley and her Husband Mike
Hayley’s husband Mike was doing small business development for a major corporation. He’s really gifted when it comes to working with small businesses and helping them to grow.
Mike has been helping Hayley with her blog and other business ventures for quite a while, but the scale tipped when it became way to hard for him to balance his full-time job and their new company, Wildly Co. Hayley simply couldn’t grow the business anymore with just what she was able to put into it. She needed both Mike’s talent and time to take the business to the next level.
Raise Money for your Business without Giving Away Equity
Crowdfunding is a great way to raise money for your business without taking on investors and losing equity. With crowdfunding platforms like Kickstarter, a lot of people give small amounts of money. Instead of equity, the small business gives its funders something else of value such as a good or service.
Wildly Co. launched a Kickstarter campaign on August 5th to raise $20,000 in 30 days in order to produce their fall capsule of clothing. With Kickstarter, the full goal must be met in order for the campaign to be funded and move forward.
Wildly Co. is offering rewards from Hayley’s e-book, The No Brainer Wardrobe and a hand-written thank you note on a vintage postcard for a $10 contribution all the way up to a paid trip to design clothing with Hayley, see where Wildly clothing is made, and pick her brain on blogging and business for a $1000 contribution. (Sounds amazing!)
Between these levels of funding, there are a wide range of receiving different pieces of apparel from the Wildly Co. collection. The clothing choices that backers make also helps Hayley and Mike to gauge interest in different colors, styles, and designs to help them make the right decisions moving forward. (a win-win!)
How an Item we Use Every Day Became the Inspiration for an Ethical Business
As a mom to four boys, Hayley knows firsthand what a central role clothing plays in the life of a family. As she pulls each pair of clothing back out for the next little boy, she’s reminded of all the memories that have been made.
As Hayley learned more about standard practices within the textile industry around the world, she realized that she couldn’t in good conscience, support her boys wearing clothing made by another mother’s children.
Hayley and Mike created Wildly Co. to provide an ethically-made alternative for children’s clothing. While they fully support eco-friendly practices, for Hayley and Mike, the people have to come first. Their most important focus is on supporting the lives of the people who make their clothing and ensuring that they are paid a fair wage and work in a safe environment.
See their story below:
From Kindred Friendship to an Event and a Community of Like-Minded Women
Hayley Morgan and Jessi Connolly feel that they were put into each other’s lives for a reason. They both connected over having children who were very sick for a time. Hayley says that she watched Jessi walk through that journey respectfully, joyfully, and faithfully. God was watching out for her by putting Jessi on her radar to prepare her for her own difficult journey.
Finally, Hayley and Jessi were able to meet in person in a loud diner with many little kids between them. They walked away with a kindred friendship.
A week later they began planning for the Influence Conference. Their vision was to bring like-minded blogging and business women together to pair a message of faith with a message of strategy.
Hayley and Jessi committed to a conference contract with a hotel that cost as much as a new car, and they both found out that they were pregnant with child #4! (You two are rock stars!)
As both Hayley and Jessi hobbled around the conference (each of them approaching 30 weeks!), they realized that the fun, creative, vibrant group of women who came together for the conference would want to connect for much longer than that weekend in September.
The Influence Network, a membership site, was born and it is a much larger network than just the people who attend the physical conference each year.
Futon Marketing and a Resounding YES!
While sitting on a futon in Jessi’s office, she and Hayley made a list of their dream speakers for the conference. Every single one of them said YES!
These two women “went to town marketing” as Hayley says. They rallied the women they saw, called out what they saw in them, and hoped they would be leaders within the Influence community. As they did this, these leaders brought their “people” with them, and a successful conference was born.
The Women of Influence
Hayley confesses that setting up the membership site for the Influence Network was technical, which she didn’t know when she first started. She’s not sure if she would undertake the project again –knowing what she knows now—but that’s true of most of her projects.
Hayley was building the website for the Influence Network right up until she had her fourth baby!
Now, the Influence Conference and Network are run by Hayley, Jessi, and four other women.
Ashley runs the conference. Lindsey is the content manager and lines up interviews and photo shoots for marketing and member resources. Mariah is the customer care person before the point of sale. Rachel is head of member care. She runs the forums and coordinates the care and prayer team for any member who is going through a hard time.
Each woman was hired in January of 2013, and they’ve had zero turnover. All but one are women who attended the conference and were already invested in the community. Hayley and Jessi knew their strengths ahead of time, and they are still doing great today!
Hayley says it’s been a big shift from doing everything herself to delegating and learning people management skills.
Hayley’s White Knuckle Period of Life (and what life looks like now!)
When Hayley was starting the conference, she had one boy in kindergarten, one in preschool, one always with her, and was pregnant.
It was one of those times of life where you kind of white knuckle and hold on and you wouldn’t want to do it for an extended period of time, but you get through it.
Hayley says that she was still good at being a mom for the parts that were important to her, but she let things go like being a great school mom and doing field trips and snacks.
Life with Two Full-time Entrepreneur Parents:
Hayley says now that Mike’s home, life is super fun. They have a lot more man hours to work with.
On Mondays, Wednesdays, and Fridays they have a nanny who comes to the house from 8AM – 1 PM and stays with their two youngest boys while she and Mike go to the library to work. Then, they come home, put the little guys down for a nap, do quick little chores, and wrap up work around 3.
Once the kids go to bed, Hayley and Mike wrap up a few more things and try to be completely done with work (computers and cell phones shut down) by 9 PM.
(Sounds like a great system to us! Now if only Sarah and I could get our husbands into this entrepreneur thing!)
What to Do when You Can’t Eek Out Any More
Hayley tries to look for help when she reaches that pain point –the point where you can’t grow to where you want to be with the resources and hours that you have to give.
For Hayley and Mike, this happened when they decided that they needed to hire a nanny, and again when Mike quit his corporate job to do the entrepreneurship thing full time.
Sarah and I were kind of hoping for an easy answer that, of course, the income your business is generating makes it easy to hire on help or quit your day job. Hayley let us know that this wasn’t necessarily the case.
She said that sometimes you have to take the risk before you have the extra income to support it. It helps you to work smarter and better when you take that jump
“I’ve never had a situation where it hasn’t reached that difference in the income gap”
Things Successful People Don’t Say
Hayley said they wanted to build up Wildly to match her husband Mike’s income before he made the leap and quit his corporate gig. Yet, that just wasn’t going to happen. There was no amount of her doing that was going to grow it. They needed two people to do both family and work.
(We love Hayley’s entrepreneurial spirit, and we’re so excited to see Hayley and Mike grow it into a huge success! Kudos to you two for not playing it safe!)
Hayley’s Tips on Crafting a Great Video for Your Brand
Although Hayley is multi-talented and so smart she could learn just about anything she wanted to (our words, of course – she’s way too humble to say that!) she realized that creating a video for Wildly Co. herself would not be the best use of her time or talents.
As Hayley put it, the return on investment was way bigger to hire someone else to do it.
The end result is pretty amazing, don’t you think?
Her Business Anthem
The One Word with a Million Meanings (Hayley’s Funny Mom Moment!)
Tune in to hear about this one. It’s really cute!
Stay in Touch with Hayley!
What are your thoughts? Were you inspired after hearing from Hayley? (I know I was!) While most of us probably won't start an ethical clothing line tomorrow or even start a new conference, what leap are you ready to take after hearing Hayley's story?
For one thing, I know I'd love to have a video made for our business as soon as possible - what a powerful message the video for Wildly Co. conveyed!
Thanks for listening! We think you're all brilliant!
~ Beth Anne
Thu, 21 August 2014
You've opened your etsy shop (woohoo!). Sales are beginning to trickle in at a steady pace, and you're getting great feedback from your customers. Things are going well.
Why should you spend your precious time and resources on creating new listings? What you have is working. Why complicate things?
There are a few reasons why you should complicate things.
When you're in a creative slump, Pin this List for some quick ideas on adding new listings.
P.S. What do you think? Is this list eye-catching or just crazy? I couldn't decide ;)
So what will you add to your shop today? I can't wait to see all of your new creations and the new traffic and sales it brings you as a result. Happy creating, Brilliant Business Moms, we love you!
Another P.S. - Is saying we love you weird? Seriously, I have such warmth in my heart for you guys and I don't care who knows it!
~ Beth Anne
Tue, 19 August 2014
Katie’s story began as she was learning to fly airplanes. As with most entrepreneurs, when she should have been studying for something sensible, she was instead innovating and thinking about her life in new ways.
To be fair, it’s not quite accurate to state that her story began just then. Katie had plenty of stories worthy of documenting and sharing before she learned to fly in rural Montana. The difference was simply the realization that she had important stories to tell, and the realization that so many of us are missing opportunities to tell our stories too.
Katie is now a self-proclaimed storycatcher and journal crafter who is devoted to helping her customers find their voice, document memories, and embrace their lives. Katie and her team make journals in a repurposed airplane hangar that serves as her family’s home and her workshop.
Today on the podcast:
03:30 - How Learning to Fly Airplanes Led to a Journal-Making Business
How Does Learning to Fly Lead to a Journal-Making Business?
Katie’s husband Martin has his private pilot’s license, and when they moved back to rural Montana, he began teaching her how to fly. Learning to fly is one of those things that men dream of and not very many women do. For a while, Katie sort of took the whole process for granted. Flying was just ok.
She was supposed to be studying for her private pilot’s license but got the idea to create writing prompts for herself so that she could tell this really cool story about learning how to fly. This got her thinking about all the other rare and awesome things that other women are doing. Many of these women may not even realize that their stories are worth telling.
Why Katie Moved her Shop to Her Own Website from Etsy
Katie wanted to add certain features to her shop to create an experience for her customers. There are many limitations to what a seller can do or customize on Etsy. At Gadanke.com/share, Katie’s customers can share bits of their own journals and stories and the ways that they are documenting their lives.
How Katie Gets Loads Done, Even with Just 10 Minutes
Katie uses Excel to have a running list of projects she’s working on and actions needed for each one. If she has just 10 minutes, she can pull up her spreadsheet and quickly assess what she needs to do in that moment.
“You could easily spend that entire 10 minutes thinking about what work you should be doing, and then the 10 minutes is over,” says Katie.
On Writing Things Down Just to Cross Them Off
Katie doesn’t like to spend time writing things down just to cross them off or put a check by them.
“I want the feel-good awesome things to be sitting down and laughing with my son or looking at the same peek-a-boo book over and over and seeing how much he lights up.”
Her Proudest Accomplishment
Katie gave a TEDx Talk on Storytelling last September.
She also shares what TED is all about. (It sounds pretty incredible to me, but Sarah has banned me from attending!)
How the Weather Affects her Sales and Other Thoughts on being Busy
Katie shares that no matter how much you prepare for Christmas, you’re still going to be slammed. It continues to be true for her because the business just keeps growing.
During the slow season of summer, Katie and her husband Martin still make it busy by re-vamping journals and creating their new affiliate program.
They try their best to create systems and train employees during the slow months so that when Christmas (and January too!) roll around, everyone is ready.
Katie shares that January is just as busy for her business as December, because journaling tends to be a cold-weather activity. (We had no idea!)
Why Thank You is Something Katie Says Every Day
Katie has two part-time employees. One is an artist and the other, a student. She loves that the jobs she provides them helps to support their personal goals and not just financial goals. Her employees are passionate about what they’re doing.
(Katie sounds like the perfect boss! What do you think, Sarah, ready to move to Montana?)
Airplanes Contributed to the Start of Her Business, but also to its Lowest Point
Katie describes the slowest time in her business as being self-induced. She was trying to juggle running Gadanke and building a home out of an airplane hangar.
She and her husband Martin sat down and said, “do we want to make Gadanke into something awesome, or do we want it to just be on the side….?”
Katie and Martin could be doing a dozen other things, but they have decided to make Gadanke their career right now. (We’re so glad they did!)
Katie’s Powerful Words
Favorite App or Tool
Katie surprised us by confessing that she doesn’t own a smart phone. She confessed to using Instagram on her iPad, but finds that most apps and online tools can take away from the energy that she could be putting into her business.
The Single Best Way Katie Grew Her Business
Katie was a blogger before she opened her shop. She already had a community of women and men that she could relate to and could relate to her. She wasn’t going online to push a product on them; she was going online to connect with them.
Those relationships ultimately helped her to build a meaningful business.
Katie’s Way of Saying Thank You to Bloggers and Customers
Katie and her husband Martin just launched an affiliate program. Anyone with a blog or even just a social media account can join. She realized that by creating the program themselves, they could cut out the percentage that goes to an affiliate network and pass along the extra percentages to the customers and bloggers who love them.
Her Best Business Advice
“Believe in yourself. It’s so easy when things are hard – when you don’t have the sales that you want – you don’t have the pageviews that you want – whatever it is you’re wishing you could do - just keep going.”
Katie also keeps a spreadsheet of customer feedback. When one negative review or the stress of the day has her discouraged, she is reminded of all the incredible stories and lives she’s had the chance to impact.
Adorable Mom Moment
Katie’s baby boy Niklas has just figured out how to pull himself up to stand. Katie says that she’ll turn around for 5 seconds, look back and realize that he’s pulled himself up.
“There he is holding himself up with a big smile.”
We love those sweet moments when our little ones are so proud of their accomplishments! So precious!
Stay in Touch with Katie
What do you think? Will you start writing down more of your stories? Will you tell those who help you the most “thank you” a little more often? Or will you dive head-first into your business, believing without a doubt that it matters a great deal.
We’d love to hear about it in the comments!
~ Beth Anne
Thu, 14 August 2014
Hello from Vermont! I'm on vacation this week with my husband and our 3 fun kids! We're visiting a college friend and her beautiful family.
I just had to pop in and say hello and leave you with some words to think on today.
“Our greatest fear should not be of failure, but of succeeding at something that doesn’t really matter.” D.L. Moody Click to Tweet!
What do you think? Are you struggling more with the fear of failure or the fear that what you're doing may not matter?
I've definitely struggled with both!
Have a wonderful week, Brilliant Business Moms, I'll be sure to share some pictures of our trip next week!
Wed, 13 August 2014
Many bloggers and website owners forget that their About Me Page is one of the most visited pages on their website. It's vitally important to make a meaningful first impression.
Read the Compelling Narrative on One Mom Entrepreneur’s Website that Led us to Take this Page More Seriously
Why does Elizabeth’s About Me Page work so well?
She includes all 9 Keys to a Compelling About Me Page. Can you find them all?
On the podcast:
These Nine Keys Won’t Write Your About Me Page For You, But They Will Give You a Great Start
1.) Grab your reader’s attention with your first sentence.
This is often called “the hook” Catch your audience off guard right away, if possible.
Surprise them, be unusual, or ask questions (see Derek Halpern’s page).
Derek does a great job of letting people know that they are in the right place.
Keep in mind, your about me page is not actually about YOU – it’s about your readers.
They need to know how you’re going to help them, what you’re going to provide, or why you’re different from every other blogger on the block.
Stumbling over that perfect first sentence? You can use a video for your hook!
2.) Share the benefits of what you and your site have to offer.
Again, it’s all about your readers or customers and how you can help them or solve their most pressing problems. (Even if you sell hand-knit baby shoes - you can still accomplish this. You may be solving the problem of someone finding a unique heart-felt gift for their friend who just had a baby. Perhaps you solve the problem of being a comfortable, eco-friendly, ethically-made baby shoe that moms can feel good about putting on their baby's feet.)
An example for Sarah and I would be a focus on the community of moms we are creating. Starting a small business or blog on the side can be really stressful and overwhelming.
We’re here to help and come alongside moms who are ready to grow. We’re not claiming to be experts or gurus, we’re moms just like you who are learning and implementing as we go.
Lots of people online are sharing facts about how to be successful, but implementing all of those facts and growing your business is really, really hard. We believe that moms need support and encouragement to make it happen and keep going when things are tough. We’re lucky enough to have each other as business partners, and we don’t believe that any mom should have to “go it alone”
3.) Social Proof
Natalie Lesnefsy of TheBusyBudgetingMama.com shares some of the positive feedback that she’s gotten from her readers. If you have happy customers or readers, have them share a bit about how your site or business has helped them.
Social proof could also mean that you share your credentials or that fact that you've spoken at conferences or were featured in magazines.
Your About Me Page should convey some feeling. How do you want your readers to feel when they’re on your site? Should they feel at home, a sense of peace or calm? Do they feel joy or excitement? What about motivation?
Sarah and I want you to feel a sigh of relief – that you’re not alone in this crazy world of blogging, business, and being a mom. (Feel free to let us know if we’ve accomplished this or majorly missed the mark!)
5.) Fun Facts or Tidbits About You!
Your readers want to get to know you. Avoid generics like “I love the outdoors and sipping coffee in the morning.” Be unique.
Ask your family and friends what makes you the fabulous person you are.
It’s ok to be vulnerable here.
Abby of JustaGirlandHerBlog.com strikes a great balance by sharing about being a BRCA1 breast cancer gene carrier but also sharing lighter things like the fact that everyone says she looks like someone they know.
As Neil says, no matter what you look like, you have to share a photo of yourself.
If you’re providing value and helping others, no one cares what you look like – they just want to put a face with a name and get to know you.
Mom bloggers seem to be ahead of the game on this one. Many are creating a virtual scrapbook of multiple photos with fun tidbits about each one. Again, Abby does a great job!
7.) Link to your popular posts
Which posts get tons of comments or personal emails describing the difference that you’ve made?
If you’re brand new to blogging or starting your own shop/website, then pick the ones you think showcase both your best work, and also let the reader get to know you a bit more.
P.S. Very sorry for the jet noise during point 7 of the podcast! I’m around it so often that I usually don’t even notice it.
8.) Make it easy for others to find you and connect with you.
There are a variety of options here. You can include an email address, social media links, a contact form, or all of these.
When your readers and customers are ready to keep the conversation going, don’t keep them hanging.
9.) Include an Email Opt-in Box on your About Me Page
Pat Flynn gets all the credit for this brilliant recommendation.
Resources Mentioned in the Podcast
Ask Pat Episode 1 - How Do You Craft the Perfect About Page?
Amy Lynn Andrews - How to Write an About Page
In Spaces Between - How to Write your About Me Page
QuickSprout - The 4 Essential Elements of an About Me Page
Search Engine Journal - 25 Creative and Engaging About Us Pages
Seven of Our Favorite About Pages
Not all of these About Me Pages Include every single point, but many do! What catches your eye about these pages? Do you plan to change anything on your own page as a result?
Let's chat in the comments :)
Tue, 12 August 2014
Elizabeth Potts Weinstein is a lawyer, writer, and explorer. As a small business attorney, she helps entrepreneurs, artists, coaches, and consultants to find simplicity in the law, so they can get back to spending their time helping their clients and changing the world.
Not only is Elizabeth a successful entrepreneur, she is also a single mom. She and her nine year-old daughter live in an apartment in the Silicon Valley with one cat, nine+ Apple products, twenty-one containers of craft supplies, and hundreds of books.
What you’ll learn on the podcast:
03:59 - Elizabeth's Revelation that Led to her Current Career
Crafting the Ideal Business
Elizabeth got rid of the things she didn’t like about the law to create her dream job.
• No billing by the hour
Finding Your Ideal Client is Like Dating
1. Elizabeth states what and who she is NOT. She’s not an attack-dog lawyerShe doesn’t have a fancy office or wear fancy clothesYou won’t find her awards on her wall or a focus on prestige.
2. She uses the exact words and phrases that her ideal customer would use.
3. No insider lingo
4. The break-up
Why Relationships are Vitally Important to Any Business
You may not be handing out business cards at your local chamber of commerce (Elizabeth is pretty sure she doesn’t have business cards anymore!) but connecting with others is still vitally important.
Oftentimes, someone who knows Elizabeth will see a legal question in a Facebook group. This person will tag Elizabeth and let them know that she may have the answer.
Elizabeth is always paying attention to what people need and meeting those needs within her business.
“Even if you don’t know what kind of business you want to do yet, you can still have a list, and you can bring those people with you wherever you end up going.”
Business is still all about personal contact but in different ways.
Legal Tips for Mom Entrepreneurs
1. Start as a Sole Proprietor until you really start earning money.
2. Your business should have its own bank account.
3. Use a separate credit card for your business.
4. Make sure you have a written agreement if you hire someone to help with your business in any way.
Designing Both Sides of Her Life
Elizabeth says there is a huge list of stuff she doesn’t do because she owns her own business.
They ask, “Can you have it all?”
“It really comes down to being picky and designing how you want both sides of that life to be.”
Products and Services at Different Tiers to Meet Different Needs
Elizabeth has 3 tiers of services within her business so that she can meet a variety of legal needs that entrepreneurs might have.
1. If a small business owner just needs to pick Elizabeth’s brain on a few questions, they can pay by the minute to call her via Clarity.
Elizabeth also follows the principle of giving away tons of value for free. There are plenty of checklists and excellent free materials on her website.
Elizabethpw.com will take you there
Google Calendar - for scheduling appointments with her clients
Elizabeth also has a paper calendar on the fridge so that her daughter can go and read it. Her daughter then understands what her life will look like for the next week which is important to her.
Elizabeth is also trying a new trick that’s very low-tech but will hopefully save a lot of time: cooking all her meals in one day for the whole month.
Get in Touch with Elizabeth
Did you learn some new legal tips for your business? How about tips for designing your dream job so that you can have more time for the things that matter most?
Let's chat in the comments :)
~ Beth Anne
Direct download: Episode203020Elizabeth20Potts20Weinstein_mixdown.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 3:30am EST
Sun, 10 August 2014
A meaningful quote has the power to change your perspective or motivation.
This one from Zig Ziglar is no different.
Sarah and I realize that oftentimes, getting handed multiple points and steps of business advice can be helpful, but other times it can be overwhelming.
Today, we're keeping it simple.
In light of this very simple advice to be specific --to stand out, the whole focus of your business or life could take a radical change.
Perhaps you have a blog that addresses all the aspects of being a stay-at-home mom. You share recipes, cute stories about your children, DIY projects, homeschooling advice, and thoughts about current events.
With a broad brush-stroke focus, how can you stand out?
The truth is, you probably won't.
What if instead, you let more of yourself and your passions show through?
Perhaps you are passionate about not wasting food and living a frugal, eco-conscious lifestyle like Kristen at The Frugal Girl.
No, it's not exactly sexy to talk about food waste, but it sure does set Kristen apart, and she has a loyal following because of it.
Do you have an Etsy Shop, and in it you sell paintings, handmade clothing, and craft supplies?
What sets you apart from the other shops out there?
It's hard to become a true master at a skill if your focus is torn between multiple projects. Try focusing on one skill or product, and make it as extraordinary and unique as you can. Others will begin to know you as the talented artist with a unique take on multi-media creations.
The struggle to stay focused and be unique
Sarah and I have certainly struggled to stay focused in our own business as well.
I'm an "ideas girl", and so my mind is always spinning with new business ideas. What I've learned, though, is that unless the idea has a direct contribution to the projects we are already doing, it's probably not worth my time. None of us can be good at everything. We simply can't.
Put another way by an incredibly successful entrepreneur, John Lee Dumas
Do you make things happen or let them happen to you?
As Sarah states in the podcast, it can be really hard to stand out. It's a tough road.
Is it tougher, though, than looking back on things wishing you had stuck to your guns more... wishing you'd taken that passion of yours and ran with it or wishing you hadn't worried quite so much about what others would think?
I've seen many eyes glaze over when I talk about our podcast.
I'm so passionate about helping other moms to grow their businesses that nothing is going to stop me from giving as much of my blood, sweat, and tears as possible to make this dream a reality.
Be unique and amazing at that one thing you're called to do.
Then tell us all about your unique, amazing talents and vision in the comments!
~ Beth Anne
Wed, 6 August 2014
Crafting a great blog post involves a whole lot more than just solid writing and an interesting topic.
Many bloggers are lucky enough to have those skills, yet their posts are routinely ignored. What's at play here? Let's explore what goes on after a post is published.
I finally did it! I hit the publish button on a post that I spent hours on. Before I began the writing process, I spent days debating the nuances of each thought and idea contained within.
At the end of the day the post goes live, I check the blog's stats. This one doesn't seem to be making a dent. No one is commenting. No one is sharing. No one seems to care at all.
Let's start at the very beginning.
Research shows that many readers do not make it past the title of your post. Was your title too long or confusing? Did you hook your reader by making them curious or evoking emotion?
The research says that the first 3 words and last 3 words of your title are all that your readers will see. Did you pack the most important words towards the beginning and end of your title? The beginning of your title is also more weighted for SEO, so fit your key words into the title quickly.
(Hint - 9 Keys might be great because people are interested in numbers, but if I really wanted to rank, I would have started off with Blogging: 9 Keys to Crafting a Killer Post.)
Take a Look at some of Anne's Killer Blog Post Titles
She uses numbers, evokes emotions and curiosity, and utilizes 6 words or less to make sure the entire title is read by her readers.
Are Your Paragraphs Putting People Off?
Let's talk about that killer blog post you just finished writing. Did you write it as though it were a novel?
In the online space, ease of reading and the ability to scan a post are KEY. Use paragraphs that are 1 to 4 sentences long. Yes, I know this seems ridiculous.
No, it's not actually ridiculous. Your readers may just make it all the way through your post if you use this technique.
Photos Belong on Your Blog even if You Stink at Taking Them
Photos are necessary.
If you're awful at photography, I recommend you find a great service like Dollar Photo Club * so you can still populate your blog with eye-catching photos related to the discussion topics.
At a minimum, your blog post must have a header photo or featured image at the top.
On Anne's fashion posts, she routinely includes 4 photos or more to keep her readers' attention and communicate the message of the post effectively.
Interlinking is Your Best Friend
This is one of those blogging talents that Anne does amazingly well.
Every one of her posts is skillfully linked to multiple other posts. You hardly notice that the links are there because they mesh so seamlessly with the message. At the same time, you can't help but to click them and read more.
Linking to Valuable Resources is Another Vote for Your Credibility
You may worry that linking to other blogs or websites will just direct the traffic away from your site.
This may be true in some instances, but the truth is, Google loves relevant links. Most of all, your readers will love the fact that you curate helpful content for them and aren't afraid to share it.
Share the love. Share resources that are helpful, and your readers will come back, promise!
Check out Anne's What I'm Into post for an example of doing this well.
Long is the New Short
When I first started blogging, I heard over and over again that keeping things short was an important key to success.
"Your readers don't have time for anything too long. You'll lose their attention," the powers-at-be would say.
Recently, though, some studies have proven just the opposite.
Google loves helpful, detailed posts that are excellent resources for the reader. Incidentally, readers love sharing posts that are helpful with others!
1500 words seems to be the sweet spot for getting more attention from Google and more shares.
This is the one principle of crafting killer blog posts that Anne does not use. Anne calls herself a maximizer by nature. Her goal is to communicate as much as possible with as few words as possible. She is a master at this!
There is something to be said for using the talents that you have.
Anne's readers also expect short, witty posts from her.
In our case, as new bloggers, we're trying to use every possible method to improve SEO. We're also trying to use every possible method to be as helpful to our readers and listeners as possible. So we continue to type out many, many words.
Make Your Content Really Easy to Share
Even if a reader loves your post, if it's not easy to share it, they won't.
Add sharing buttons in every place that seems relevant. Make it easy for others to share your hard work!
If Your Blog Post Doesn't Compel Action, then What are You Writing for?
End each post with a call to action.
This could be as simple as asking for your readers' thoughts on the post and asking if they would share them in the comments.
Maybe you'd like them to sign up for your email list to grab a great resource that pairs perfectly with what they just read.
Whatever the action, give your readers some step they can take next after reading your killer post.
Use Headers and Sub-headers to Make Your Post Easier to Read
These are important so that it's easier for the eye to scan down the page.
This means using the <h2> and <h3> tags when you write. The larger titles you see on this post are done with the <h2> tag.
Bullets and numbers are also an easy way to make your post feel more organized and easy on the eyes.
The 9 Keys to Crafting a Killer Blog Post
Is there something your killer blog posts are missing when you hit publish? What will you change today as a result?
Direct download: Episode202820Anatomy20of20a20great20blog20post_mixdown.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 3:44am EST
Tue, 5 August 2014
Anne Bogel blogs at ModernMrsDarcy.com and is the author of How She Does It: An everywoman's guide to breaking old rules, getting creative, and making time for work in your actual, everyday life.
Anne writes about the best in the world of books as well as what it looks like to be an accomplished woman in our modern world. Her readers are a smart, kind, compassionate, and loyal bunch!
Learn why she believes she was able to grow such a meaningful following, along with the process of getting her book into the Kindle store. Of course, Anne recommends a slew of great business books for you!
On the podcast:
The beginning of Modern Mrs. Darcy
Anne and her husband were having a New Year’s conversation to discuss the big picture for their next year. They were talking about a post her husband had done for someone else’s blog.
Anne's husband said, "You know who should have a blog?!"
Anne replied with, "No who?!"
She shrugged it off at first, but a few minutes later she was convinced. The blog didn’t go live for a couple of months but she started the planning and prep that very night. This was 3.5 years ago.
Anne's Encouraging Words
"Everybody starts at zero; there's nowhere to go but up."
The Blog Posts that Make an Impact
How She Does It
Work-life balance is not Anne's favorite phrase. (Ours either!) How about working towards doing the things you love the most in life?
Anne says that there aren't really typical days at her house, but there are seasons that follow a pattern such as the school year versus summer.
They use a nanny a couple of time a week, and she helps with some of the homeschooling. The kids are also out of the house one day per week so Anne can do things like chat with us for a Podcast. (Hooray for an empty house!)
The kids have rest-time every day, and Anne is very deliberate about how she uses that time.
Sometimes the schedule goes out the window, for example, when they moved this Spring.
Anne relates to the moms who are struggling with the decision to bring on help for their day to day.
Coming to Terms...
Anne has had a hard time coming to terms with the fact that she’s a blogger.
She takes her writing seriously and treats it like a job. When she’s among a literary crowd and mingling with people who are writing a memoir or the next Great American Novel, she can feel so low-brow. She may come home from what should have been a really inspiring gathering and think, "I have a blog." She’s had to work through that a little bit.
The Unique Ability of Bloggers
Plans for another book?
Good ideas tend to come fast from unexpected places, so maybe inspiration will strike. Unfortunately there are no plans for a second book at the moment. (I know. We were grieving too. Although if Anne needs some ideas... I've got about 100 per day! Let's chat, Anne!)
Her first book sprung from a conversation with a friend who was struggling to make everything work within her marriage and as a mom with all of the hats she was juggling.
Anne told her husband, “I think I’m going to write a blog post about that”
He said, “Forget that, you could write 20,000 words on that!”
Authentic Blogging = Authentic Community
Anne is really proud of the community that she’s created at Modern Mrs. Darcy. It’s not just her, but she got the ball rolling on it.
Thoughts on growing a loyal following
Anne thinks she got a little bit lucky.
In addition to that, she read early on that as the blogger you’re the host in your living room, and you need to set the tone
She tries to be very warm, welcoming, and open. She writes about possibility, exploring new things, other options, and looking at life from a different angle. That general tone tends to facilitate respect and openness to other people and their ideas
She feels like she’s in some sort of virtuous cycle, and she’s really grateful for it.
Are the lack of giveaways, link parties, and sponsored posts intentional?
Anne doesn’t do a lot of link parties or sponsored posts.
She’s a maximizer by nature, so she doesn’t want to waste anyone’s time. If she doesn’t want to read it on her site or elsewhere, then she doesn’t want to put it on her blog.
If it’s not worth reading, she’s not going to post it.
Revenue Streams for Modern Mrs. Darcy
Favorite Online Tool or App
Google Calendar: helps her to keep track of which blog posts are coming down the line.
Anne usually has 100 post ideas and about 10 in her short-term horizon, so she’ll put them into Google calendar and move them around so that she doesn’t have too many book posts in a row or fashion posts in a row, etc.
How Anne Avoids the Facebook Rabbit Hole
Coschedule for Social Media. You can schedule out your social from Wordpress itself. It’s faster because you don’t have to wait for pages to load to do tweets or facebook. It also keeps you off those social media platforms so you don't get sucked down the rabbit hole of social media!
Best way to Grow her Blog
Quite literally, Content Marketing Itself
Anne has been lucky in that the posts she’s gotten a lot of buzz about are also the same things that people who l would want to stick around for a while would like. Readers may be drawn in by the summer reading guide but then find very similar content and related content that makes them stay.
Her summer reading guides are shared widely all over Pinterest and other forms of social media. They also get a lot of buzz from other bloggers.
"If you like the summer reading guide, then you’ll probably feel like you’ve found a happy place with ModernMrsDarcy so it works really well in terms of not just great content but great advertising for the blog."
The summer reading guide was her husband’s idea – no surprise there!
There are just so many (books), Anne. How do you do it?
Anne is a slow runner but a fast reader. Maybe it all balances out this way?
She has made it her job, in a way, but never want reading to feel like something she has to do, but rather something she gets to do and chooses to do. She is very conscious of that.
Anne is a natural introvert, so reading is a good way for her to recharge or wind down at the end of the night.
She tries to sit down with a book for 20 minutes during rest time with a coffee cup and just “be” so that she can take on the rest of the day.
Reading is built into the rhythm of her day which helps her to get through more books.
How did you get your Book in the Kindle Store for Amazon?
Anne's husband did it for her. He’s since told numerous people that it’s very easy to do.
Amazon has directions for how to format your book for Kindle. He said that it was very tedious to make the changes in the file, but it wasn’t difficult. Once he made all of the required changes he just uploaded the book file to the store, and then Amazon notifies you when it’s ready.
The process usually takes a couple of days.
Favorite Business Books
There is no way the Lady of Pemberley could have picked just one - so Anne lists several for us! Listen to the podcast starting at 21:21 to get Anne's take on all of these thoughtful recommendations.
The Power of Habit by Charles Duhigg
Decisive by Chip and Dan Heath
Lean In by Sheryl Sandberg
(The Confidence Code is on her stack right now.)
So who is this new, up and coming blogger?
You'll have to listen to the podcast to find out, but this is what Anne has to say about her:
Connect with Anne Bogel
Her blog: ModernMrsDarcy.com
Fri, 1 August 2014
Did you listen to Episode 22, work on your detailed pricing model, and discover that no one can afford you or your product? Is your labor intensive product not a good fit for a business model? Does that mean you have to start from square one with a whole new business idea? Not necessarily. Don't automatically assume you need to reinvent the wheel.