From Marketing

Blog Organization for Creative Businesses

Blog organization for creative businesses, Dannielle Cresp of Style for A Happy Home

Many of you will have blogs that relate to your handmade and creative businesses. You know they can be a great marketing tool, and you know that you need to spend some time working on them. But I’m guessing that for at least some of you, there’s always that pull telling you that you should be creating or making and not blogging.

There’s always something that needs doing when we run creative businesses. Whether it’s making a product, taking photos or just trying to keep up with a to-do list that has more things added than we tick off. It can be hard to justify that time to work on the business instead of in the business. If we want to do well, there’s always going to be that fine balance: Marketing vs Making.

We know that having a blog is great for marketing our businesses, but they take a lot of work, so I wanted to give you some tips to not only get your blog working for you, but also make it just that little bit less of that thing you can never make time for.

Have an Editorial calendar that’s realistic and achievable

Editorial calendars are the best. They let you plan your content in advance and let you see the big picture of what’s going up when. But, the trick to really making them work for you is not to get carried away with trying to have content everyday. If blogging is not your main business, then you don’t need new content on your site every day. Think twice a week and plan it in advance.

Think about your product release dates ahead of time and create content that compliments your product

Once you’ve got yourself an editorial calendar (mine is a large desk calendar from an office supplies store and some post-its), write in all your product release dates. If you don’t have any, it could be a good time to make some, they can always be moved if needed. Think about the content you could create that goes with the launch of that new product and how you can be useful to your customers. Try to think outside the box and not only about your product all the time. Your product fits within a niche, think about content that fits within that.

Batch your blog posts

If you’d rather be working on your business than blogging, batching posts is a great way to go. Write your editorial calendar for the month and then set aside a day, (or a few half days) to write as many of the posts for the month as you can. This works well for businesses because your content doesn’t have to match the news. Schedule them and mark them in your editorial calendar as done as you complete each. This also gives you a backlog of posts for when you’re heading into a busy season, and the beauty of having them scheduled is that if you have new content you must share quickly, you can always shift your content around without losing any of it.

Keep it simple

Your blog posts don’t have to be essay length. Write what you need to say on your topic of the day and keep it relevant and lighthearted. You could share some sneak peeks of up coming products or even a little bit of your process. If you want to mainly share some photos, then you only need as many words as fills in the story that’s being told through images. Keep the photography a great quality and think about your customer and what they’d like to know.

Blogging can be a wonderful tool for your creative business and it takes just a little bit of organization to get it running smoothly and allow you to get back to what you do best.

What organizational tools do you use to stay on track with blogging for your creative business? Share with our community in the comments!

Growing & Organizing Your Subscriber List: Interview with Caylie Price

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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!

How to Run A Successful Crowdfunding Campaign to Grow Your Business

How to Run A Successful Crowdfunding Campaign, MoolaHoop for Oh My! Handmade

Crowdfunding has become an increasingly popular approach to raise funds in support of a project to grow your business. Rewards-based crowdfunding, where you solicit pledges from your customers, family and friends in return for special deals on your product or service,  is appealing as a debt-free way to raise capital. But there are also other benefits. Not only does using your social and professional networks to gain support for your business goals and engaging your customers in the success of your enterprise can have a long lasting impact on customer loyalty but the process of preparing and conducting a campaign also requires that you “crisp up” your marketing messages and eventually provides you valuable feedback on the appeal of your pitch and your product or service.

Here are a few tips to ensure that your next crowdfunding campaign is successful:

Build a solid network.  Just before your campaign launches is not the time to start to engage with your customer community and professional network.  Begin to create a conversation even before your business is formed.  Ask for input and feedback from friends, family and organizations that share your passion. And make sure to collect the email contact lists for existing and potential customers along the way. Become a subject matter expert about your business or industry and provide tips or helpful information.  Create an online identity that draws people to you as someone interesting and engaging.  In this way, you will create a loyal following and build the foundations of a tight customer community.  A business Facebook page is critical, and depending on your audience as well as the visual appeal of your crowdfunding rewards, a Twitter account, Pinterest, Instagram and a blog are also beneficial.

Be concise. While having a conversation is critical, social media is not the place to write the next great novel.  This communication medium is best used for short, pithy messages.  So, be clear and be brief.  If your product photographs well, then post images (and even include customers in some of them).  As we all know, a picture speaks a thousand words.

Tell a story.  Once you have engaged your community, tell your network what you are planning to do to grow your business and how their support will make a difference for you. What project goal are your trying to achieve to grow your business –  a new location, a new product line? The best description of your goal is one where your customers will see how it will benefit them if you achieve that goal (i.e., a bigger location means more yoga classes to chose from!). But also be interesting and a little entertaining. Between posts with compelling requests for support, include live action video segments of you behind the scenes at your business or photos and videos of customers telling others why they support you.  Make it real, make it current and make it personal.

Offer Value.  People want to see you succeed, but they also want something in exchange for their support.  Consider a variety of rewards that allow many different supporters to participate in your success.  Some people may not be able to use or access your business products, so allow them to donate in exchange for a thank you or a shout out. If all your rewards are also currently available in your online store or at your place of business, people will not be compelled to act immediately.  So offer new items, exclusive products or early availability.   And create some scarcity by offering rewards that have limited supply.

What about that big dollar contributor?  Offer something extra special such as an experience or a unique way to mark their support permanently in your business.  Conduct a personal class, host a private party, name a product after them, or include them in special “behind the scenes” events at your next launch.  There may be very creative and exciting ways to entice supporters to pledge larger dollar amounts.

Share the Love. Once the campaign has begun, work continuously to update your supporters.  Tell them how things are going and how to share the story with others.  One key to a successful campaign is the volume of “views” your campaign page gets. Campaigns typically raise only a percentage of the total funds from their own existing networks and customers.  It is generally matched equally by supporters who are in the extended networks of your contacts.  So sharing, reposting, forwarding and retweeting your campaign can multiply your chance for success.

Don’t stop communicating.  After you have reached your goal, there may be a temptation to sit back and take a break from the stress and pace of the campaign.  Don’t do it.  Thank your supporters and keep them updated.  Let them know how things are going and what progress you are making.  Keep the story alive and cement those relationships that you’ve worked so hard to develop.

There is little that is more satisfying than seeing this kind of grassroots support build and grow around your dreams.  While it is hard work to run a successful crowdfunding campaign, the benefits you reap in market validation and customer engagement go far beyond the fundraising result.  So jump in!  

Have you ever run a crowdfunding campaign to raise money for your business? Share your experience with other makers + entrepreneurs in the comments!

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Meet Brenda & Nancy | MoolaHoop CoFounders

Brenda Bazan and Nancy Hayes are CoFounders of MoolaHoop a crowdfunding platform that helps women with small businesses reward their customers and themselves. You can get started at www.moola-hoop.com.

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