By Kimberly Kling

2015 Super Simple Intention Setter

Simple Intention Setter Image by Joyful Roots

It’s that time of year again where fresh ideas and a blank slate await! Do you find that wonderfully exciting or does it bring up some feelings of anxiety or down-right dread? For me, it’s a little of both.

This is my second New Year as a mom and with a very mobile toddler running around and little sleep, I’m looking for ways to plan my year and find some focus without making it very complicated. If you want to add some intention to your year but don’t have a ton of time or aren’t really into planning, I’ve created a printable that might help you, the 2015 Super Simple Intention Setter worksheet, which you can download below.

Each year, I start out by picking a word of the year. For good or for bad, I’ve never spent a lot of time choosing a word, but rather went with my gut instinct. Last year my word was “Focus.” This word was pinned to my brain the whole year and I actually managed to gain some focus by the end! While I intended the word to direct me into focusing my business, the word gained another meaning – I learned to better focus on life around me by being more present. Each time I felt my focus was at stake, it was like having a little bird on my shoulder to remind me of my goal.

This year, my word is “Organize.” It’s not the most exciting word but I’m really looking forward to de-cluttering my physical and mental space in order to start becoming better organized and a bit saner. Having a 15-month-old running around can create quite a bit of chaos, so I feel like I’m in great need of creating a little more zen in other parts of my life.

What will your word of the year be? Fill it out in big, bold affirming letters on the free worksheet. If you need help discovering it, Susannah Conway has a great little activity to help you find your word that you can access here.

After I have my word, I like to pick five actionable steps that I can take to live my word to the fullest that year. (Hint: Save your biggest, most bold, most courageous act for the end of the worksheet). These steps help to solidify and guide me by having a simple plan. Of course, as the year goes on, your steps might flux, but I think it helps to have a starting place.

For example, one of my actionable steps is going to be planning out major deadlines and things I want to accomplish in my calendar now, while also setting e-mail notifications so that I can stay on task. What are some actionable steps that you can take to make your word of the year take shape? Write them down.

Now here’s your chance to really push yourself. What’s that one big move that you know would really launch you forward, but you maybe have been holding back? For me, it’s showing my work to art licensing companies. I’ve been meaning to do this for the past two years, but this year I am going to make it happen! I’m writing it down on my worksheet so that it is set in ink and there’s no going back. I said it, so now I have to hold myself accountable! Do you have one big move you know you want to make happen this year? Write it down! Better yet, tell us in the comments for an extra layer of accountability.

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Click here or on the image to download your PDF worksheet 

Happy New Year! I hope you make big dreams happen! What big move do you want to make happen this year? 

Growing & Organizing Your Subscriber List: Interview with Caylie Price

ohmyhandemade-subscriberlist

I’m going to be honest, I’m not the best at being organized. Yes, I’m that typical creative bird with her mind off in the clouds so much of the time. So when I read about the theme this month my first inclination was to find someone else to interview who is much more organized than I. Almost immediately, I knew who that was – Caylie Price of Better Business, Better Life!

Caylie and I have known each other via the online world for years and she’s has always amazed me with her ability to stay focused, organized, and create such wonderful results for her clients. We’ve worked well as a team on many projects because what I lack (eh hum…organization), she excels at. She’s also the first person I think of when I think about building a subscriber list, so today I’m thrilled to be able to share this valuable interview with you!

1. Hi Caylie! Can you tell us a little about your business and how you got started with it?

Better Business Better Life helps energised entrepreneurs create opt in strategies that result in a steady flow of red hot leads. The business focuses on taking the ‘tech’ and overwhelm out of online marketing while supporting clients to grow subscriber lists and sales funnels.

Better Business Better Life was initially started as a hobby providing clients general business advice. At the time I was working full time between managing a business incubator and teaching business/IT courses.

The thing that really stood out was many business owners weren’t sure how to take advantage of online opportunities, particularly in terms of building ongoing relationships with prospects and converting them to clients. I had an incredible interest and passion for online marketing so I chose to niche the focus of my business.

2. What is a subscriber list and why is it so important? Does every business need one?

A subscriber list is a group of email addresses from people who have opted in to receive updates from a particular website. It’s vitally important that every business has one.

Your subscriber list and website are the only online assets you own. You can promote your business on Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, Instagram, Google+, LinkedIn, Slideshare, Medium and more but you don’t own those platforms. You don’t have control of those platforms and they can change at any time meaning they can quickly become ineffective or expensive promotional tools.

Further, your subscriber’s inbox represents the best option for ensuring your audience reads your content. Even if your website is an audiences’ favourite, it’ll easily be overlooked as they cope with day-to-day pressures and distractions. We are busy and in a state of information overload but we also have a habit of checking our inboxes.

Do your best to consistently convert readers to subscribers so you can control your communication with an even bigger audience.

3. What are your top 5 favorite ways to build a subscriber list?

Oooh there are so many amazing ways to build your list.

The first thing you need to provide is an incentive for your potential subscriber. You need to offer them something of value that encourages them to join your list.

In terms of the incentive you might offer, I created a free guide to the Top 8 Opt In Offers Exploding List Growth In 2014 that you might find helpful.

4. Out of those methods, which do you think is the most effective and why?

When it comes to subscribers and growing your list there is no one right way. Every business is unique in regards to the products/services offered and the potential clients it targets when marketing.

You need to clearly identify who your ideal clients are. What demographics, interests, attitudes and behaviours do they have? Where do they spend their time online? Which incentive format would be most appealing?

For example, if you are teaching screen printing, then your opt in incentive might be a quick video or infographic on how to create and print your first image. You may choose to promote it via YouTube, Pinterest, Facebook and Instagram.

If you sell ‘back to school’ themed items, your opt in incentive could be printable labels for naming school books. You might promote them by guest posting on parenting blogs, forums or Pinterest.

Keeping your ideal client front of mind, create a couple of opt in incentives and see which gets the best response.

5. Once you have a list, what do you do with it?

When someone decides to opt in they are essentially giving you permission to email them in the future and as Sonia Simone of Copyblogger fame says you need to build know, like and trust with your subscribers.

Enable them to get to know and like you. Provide value so that they trust you.

How?

By sending autoresponders, broadcast emails or a combination of both. Autoresponders are evergreen emails saved within your email marketing service that are delivered at predefined intervals i.e. day one, three, seven after an individual subscribes. Broadcasts are newsletters with current content that are sent to all subscribers at the same time.

6. What tools do you use to keep your list building organised?

When list building there are three key areas to keep in mind:

  • Creating your opt in incentive
  • Promotion of your incentive to attract subscribers
  • Managing your subscriber list

Earlier this year I created a tool to keep your list building and lead generation organised and productive. My planner and tracker ensures you know exactly where your next subscribers are coming from, how you’re going to attract them and measures your progress so you’ll always know if you are on the right path (or not).

The tool I love for creating the graphical elements of opt in incentives is Canva.com. It’s quick, easy and has loads of free layouts (great for me as I struggle with design). It also stores images so that if I want to use an image I’ve creating previously but make a small change, perhaps update a heading or dates, I simply log in and it’s all there.

In terms of promoting the incentive, I love to load social updates into BufferApp.com. It’s free for the first 10 scheduled or $10 per month for up to 10 social accounts and 100 scheduled updates. This means you can organise a range of promotion at once and it will automatically be published as you require.

Two tools fabulous for managing your subscriber lists are Aweber and MailChimp. Both are email management platforms that keep your subscribers organised and your newsletters delivered with ease. MailChimp is a great option when just starting out as it’s free up to 2000 subscribers however you do have to pay to set up autoresponders. Aweber starts at $19 per month including autoresponders. Both platforms have double opt in which is important for businesses in countries such as Australia where double opt in is a legal requirement.

7. What are some big mistakes people often make when it comes to growing their list?

A. Becoming disheartened when people unsubscribe.

When you start consciously building your subscriber list, someone unsubscribing can really knock the stuffing from you. Fear not. Unsubscribes are perfectly normal and par for the course.

There are at least a million and one reasons why people unsubscribe, from they’re getting too many newsletters to the kids going crazy on the computer to your content simply not being the solution they were seeking.

Don’t take it personally. Think of unsubscribes as making room for more of your ‘right’ people. Keep going.

B. Not having a good mix of helpful and/or entertaining content versus making offers.

In the previous question I mentioned know, like and trust. You definitely want to be generating goodwill with your subscribers but goodwill without sales doesn’t equal a business.

By not making product or service offers you might maintain your list, even grow it faster, but if you’re a business owner you’ll want to leverage your subscriber list and generate income.

There is no point having the largest list if you aren’t making money. Either send the occasional dedicated offer or make a small mention of your products and services in every email.

Caylie HeadshotYou can find Caylie at the Better Business, Better Life blog, on Twitter, and on Facebook. Check out her feeds for more great tips for building your business and subscriber list!

Lumberjack Attack! An OMHG Collaboration

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I had a gut feeling that advertising in the Oh My! Handmade Creative Marketplace would be one of the best business decisions I’ve ever made, but I had no idea how much goodness would come in the way it did. When I signed up, I wasn’t aware that I’d also get a membership to the community forums which were still being built and I also didn’t know how many amazing people I would connect with there.

When the forums launched, I joined in slowly, traipsing around behind the scenes for a while, posting the occasional comment but really just soaking it in. Around June, I started to feel a little lull in my workload and I popped into a thread about collaborating on “sweet t-shirt designs.” Jenelle, from TrashN2Tees, was looking to pair up with some designers that have the skills to make designs for screen-printed t-shirts, a new product she wanted to explore.

Although I’ve worked with many clients on graphic designs, this world of more unstructured, community driven collaboration was new to me. I followed along behind the scenes for a while again, watching the brainstorming and excitement unfold…until…Jenelle posted a list of fun character ideas and my eyes stuck on the word “lumberjack.” I have no idea why I was so drawn to that idea, but I started to sketch some different lumberjack characters and then shyly shared my favorite sketch in the forums. He was a pretty big hit, a heart-throb with the ladies!

Lumberjack WIP - TrashN2Tees and Joyful Roots

Jenelle was a fan as well, so we set up a phone date to talk about the details, and how working together could be mutually beneficial.  We spoke on the phone for nearly two hours- our creative minds connecting instantly. I learned more about TrashN2Tees business philosophy and the incredibly creative and driven woman behind it. We brainstormed other products that could coordinate with the tees, like a fabric collection, a cut and sew kit, pillows, paper products, etc. We started to dive into the details of cross-promotion. Jenelle even gave me some excellent advice on SEO and streamlining my Etsy shop. Not only did I make a business connection, I made a friend!

After that, things pretty much started to rock-and-roll. I got to working on drawing up the lumberjack in Illustrator and creating the fabric designs, while getting input from Jenelle and the OMHG community. Jenelle worked on important business details, figuring out how to make the screen-printing come together, while also whipping up some wickedly handsome little lumberjack appliques made from t-shirt scraps.

Lumberjack Color SeriesLumberjack Fabric Line Joyful Roots and TrashN2Tees

Because of Jenelle’s brilliance with her business and with her networking and marketing genius, some big things started to happen! Jenelle was invited to show off her goods at the 2013 New York City Times Square EcoFest Fashion Show, which happened on August 25th. What a perfect opportunity to share the new lumberjack line with the fashion world!

Lumberjack Party
Photos and Styling by TrashN2Tees

But before the fashion show, she put her brilliance to the work again and came up with the idea to have a lumberjack party with some friend’s children, with the intention of rallying excitement and also getting some fantastically styled pictures. Since the fabric was just about done, I sent her a few yards of it and she sewed her heart out, making some skirts, constructing the cut and sew plushies, and creating some marvelous lumberjack hats. The party was a success and the pictures that came from it are adorable. She honestly amazes me.

As August 25th closed in on us, I helped Jenelle put together a lookbook to bring to the fashion show along with the added help of Jessika and the OMHG community. Jenelle was nervous about being part of such a big event, but we (OMHG) had faith in her and cheered her through! The fashion show was full of excitement and went off without a hitch, as the lumberjack line was debuted for the first time!

Today we are excited to announce the launch our full line of lumberjack goodies! TrashN2Tees is featuring recycled screenprinted & appliqued tees and cut and sew softie kits in her shop. Joyful Roots is carrying coordinating fabric for all the sewists and DIYers out there. We are still brainstorming more ideas like lumberjack party invitations, printables (thanks, Jessika, for the idea), and cell phone cases and it’s most likely that the range of products will continue to grow. We still have a couple of limited edition items in our shop from our pre-release, like hybrid screenprint/applique shirts and limited edition fabric bundles but they are going fast.

What’s more, a portion of the proceeds from our launch sales at both TrashN2Tees & Joyful Roots will be used to plant trees in the Atlantic Forest, to help protect and restore a natural treasure through PlantABillion.Org.

You can join us on social media today via the hashtag #lumberjackattack to get involved in the fun! We have a few things up our sleeves, that may just involve adorning yourself in an orange burly beard.

Lumberjack Attack Product Launch

We will also be taking part in some other exciting opportunities like the National Sewing Month Giveaway at The Sewing Loft starting September 22nd. Jenelle is on a roll, having recently signed a book deal and been declared a finalist for the 2013 NYER Small Business Awards  in Green Business Best Practices (at which ceremony she will hopefully be adorning a cute lumberjack dress).

For me personally, I can’t imagine how different my business and my day to day life would be without the Oh My! Handmade Community. Not only did it open the doors for such a significant collaboration, it has brought me deep and lasting friendships, advice & support, taught me new skills, pushed my creative boundaries, inspired me to advance my business, and has given me the feeling of belonging while I work alone from my home studio.  Thank you, Jessika, for creating such a magical place. I know something like this could not exist without your wise and kind heart, dedication, and bravery!

The OMHG community helped start this collaboration now let’s help launch it! Visit Jenelle’s launch party post  & learn how you can join in the party. Spread the news far and wide using the #LumberjackAttack hashtag, and meet up with Jenelle and Kimberly when they co-host an #OMHG chat on creative collaborations Thursday, September 19 from 1-2pm EST!