Target Market Basics: What Is It and Why Is It Important?

Your Target Market

Raise your hand if you don’t know the definition of target market.

Raise it high. No need for shyness. We’re all friends here and I don’t know about you but target market wasn’t one of the phrases my parents taught me when I was trying to grasp the English language.

If you’re in the midst of starting a business or learning about marketing, it’s important to take a few minutes to learn the basics about what a target market is and how it can impact your business success. I tried to make it easy on you with this 5-minute video:

I hope that clears some things up for you.

Now that you understand the basics, you need to apply it to your business. Here’s a free worksheet you can download to get you started.

I’ve included some creative ways to think about your target market and ideal customer in that worksheet. It’ll get you thinking in new directions.

Still have questions? Leave them in the comments below and I’ll try to my best to answer or include them in an upcoming blog post.

Comments { 14 }

Behind the Scenes of My Survey: What I’m Changing Because of YOU

Behind the Scenes of My Survey

When I sent an email last week, asking you to fill out a short survey I felt like the suspender-wearing nerd asking the cheerleader to prom.

I’m still not sure why it made me feel a bit silly, but part of the reason I contemplated whether or not to survey my readers was because I know you’re busy. I don’t want to pile on another to-do to your already overwhelming task list.

So, I want to start today’s blog post with a BIG THANK YOU.

I didn’t expect that hundreds of you would fill out the survey. More than half the time when someone asks me to fill out a survey or review a product, I skip right over it, thinking that I don’t have time.

I appreciate you so much if you took a few minutes to answer my survey questions. And, I also appreciate you if you passed over it, thinking that you just didn’t have any extra time that day. I get it.

Whether or not you filled out the survey, I thought you might find the results interesting.

Here are the top 10 most common requests (and how I’m incorporating them into my business):

1. Share more behind-the-scenes type of content.

This wasn’t the most common request from the survey (that’s #2), but I thought I’d start with this one because I wrote this post based on how many of you asked for more behind the scenes type of content.

Some of you said that you loved my ‘Behind the Scenes of CreativeLive’ posts and wished I’d pull back the gauzy curtains and show more of the stuff that goes on behind running my business.

I think I’d bore some of you with my day-to-day life. That’s why I only share that kind of stuff when I think it’s exciting (like the CreativeLive posts), but because many of you requested it, I’m gonna do more of it (while still trying to keep it interesting—I don’t want anyone falling asleep in their Cheerios).

I thought it would be a great start to show the results of last week’s survey.

And, I’m considering uploading a vlog every once in a while (not daily or weekly—maybe more like once a month) to show you what some of my days look like. If that sounds interesting to you, let me know in the comments below and I’ll give it even more consideration.

2. Add a search option so it’s easier to find content on your site already! Come on, lady!

This was overwhelmingly the most requested change in the survey.

The last question on the survey asked if there was anything missing from the Blacksburg Belle website that would be useful.

At least 100 people said that they wished I made it easier to find archived content.

One person wrote: “Add a search option. Seriously. I’m sick of going to Google to search for your older posts.” (I laughed out loud so hard when I read this, so thank you to whoever put this so bluntly. You cracked me up and I’m going to change this so you don’t have to be so frustrated with me.)

And, I hear you. I’m currently working with a website designer to completely refresh Blacksburg Belle (which is part of the reason I sent out that survey) and we’re definitely adding a search option. Hooray!

If I’m being completely transparent, (and isn’t that what a behind the scenes post is all about) I used to have a search option in the navigation bar. The reason I got rid of it is because pages on my website were coming up in the search that I didn’t want people to be able to find (like a thank you page for purchasing one-on-one consulting or an old sales page) and I didn’t know how to include a search option while making those pages unsearchable.

But, don’t you worry. Come the end of the summer you will all be able to search my website to easily find what you’re looking for.

Can I get a high five?!?

3. I miss your videos. Please make more.

After the search option request, this was next in line for the most requested change.

Some of you said that you miss the weekly “Wednesday Wisdom” videos I used to publish.

Some of you said that you found me through CreativeLive and that you wished that I made more videos like that. While I don’t have a camera crew living in my guest room or a flying video camera to use at my disposal, I do want to publish more videos.

I have a few reasons that I stopped making weekly videos: a) I made the process of making videos harder than it needed to be by creating a new background for every video and I couldn’t keep it up any longer b) My health issues got worse and it was harder for me to get myself “video ready,” record and edit and was easier to write my blog posts c) It stopped being fun and I was enjoying writing more.

Now that I’ve had a break from weekly videos, I definitely miss it.

I’m not going to bring back “Wednesday Wisdom” videos but starting in June, I’m going to upload one to two videos per week on my YouTube channel.

Every Monday, I’m going to post a short video (less than five minutes) to get you motivated and inspired for the week. I’m calling it Monday Motivation.

Some weeks, I’m also going to post another video on Thursdays but these are going to vary. One week you might find a writing tip, the next week a vlog, the next week a book chat on a business book and the next week a tutorial.

I’m committing to this until the end of the year and then we’ll see. So, if you’ve missed my videos, make sure you subscribe to my YouTube channel so that you get notified each time I upload a video.

4. I need help with productivity, goal setting and just getting shizzle done.

The most common area that you wanted help with was getting stuff done.

You want productivity tips, help with time management, figuring out what to prioritize, tips on balancing a full-time job with your business and more that falls into this category.

I combined your request for more help in this area with more videos. That’s why I decided that I’ll post one video a week that has to do with productivity and motivation. I’m keeping those videos short, because if you need help in this area, you probably don’t have time to watch 30-minute videos on how to get more done.

5. If I were to join a membership site, I’d want to join a community—a place to get feedback and ask questions—with a leader who’s actually involved.

If you don’t know already, the next big thing I’m working on is a membership site for creative entrepreneurs.

I want to create a space where you can get support and encourage each other over a long period of time so that your relationships continue to grow, where you can get your personal questions answered and where you can find lots of helpful information that gives you the tools to reach your business goals.

My plan was to include a couple of Q&A calls each month. You’d be able to ask any question and get a personal response. For those of you who’ve ever attended Q&A calls with me, you know that I stay on the call until everything is answered and I give thoughtful answers (that can be quite lengthy if needed).

I’m still going to include a Q&A call each month, but I’m also going to include other types of live calls.

Like feedback calls. A call where you can join me on video to share a business idea and get feedback from the other women on the call.

Maybe chats on specific topics or lesson follow-up calls. After you’ve had a chance to digest a short-ish lesson for the month, we hop on a group call and I answer questions about that specific topic.

Maybe deep dive member calls where I pull one or two members on and we do a sort of one-on-one consulting type of thing but with other members watching and also providing feedback.

I haven’t decided on the specifics yet, but I got so many other ideas from those of you who filled out the survey.

I know the membership site will be better for it so thanks for all the feedback.

6. More worksheets and workbooks please.

Many of you said that you love my CreativeLive workbooks and would love more.

They take a lot of time, but I’m confident that I could add more worksheets to my weekly blog posts and some workbooks into the upcoming membership site. And, even though they take a lot of time, I enjoy creating them. Each time I’ve taught a CreativeLive course, I’ve looked forward to putting the workbook together.

This is something I’ll keep in mind each week. If I think a downloadable worksheet could help, I’ll do my best to include it.

7. I’m still stumped about the whole target market thing.

This was the other topic that many of you requested more information about. One of you said that people talk about the concept of a target market like you’re supposed to already know all about it and what it means.

I don’t know about you, but I don’t remember learning about what a target market is in elementary school.

I do have some previous blog posts that might help:

And, I’m brainstorming upcoming content to help you get to know your target market better.

If you have specific questions about the topic of target markets or ideal customers, leave them in the comments below and I’ll try my best to work them into upcoming blog posts.

8. I’d love more in-person events.

Many of you said that you’d like to meet with me and other creatives in this community in person. But, within the same sentence or paragraph, many of you said that you’d like these types of events to be inexpensive.

While I love the idea of working with more of you in person (and love every opportunity to do so like past CreativeLive courses and retreats), most in-person events that are high-quality and helpful take a lot of energy and time to put together and cost a good chunk of money to host.

I don’t think in-person event and inexpensive go together.

Because so many of you included something about meeting up with other creative entrepreneurs in person in your survey answers, I came up with an idea that might be helpful to some of you.

Within the membership site, I’m going to include two member directories. One of them is going to be based on niche so that you’ll easily be able to find other members who do similar work as you and you can connect if you want to.

The second directory is going to be based on location, so that if other members are in your area, you could find each other and meet up.

It’s not the perfect answer, but I think it’s a pretty good one.

9. I got so much out of the three detailed marketing plans and want more content like that.

This was the most surprising consistent response that I received.

I wrote a blog post in which I wrote out three detailed marketing plans for different creative businesses. It wasn’t my most shared and most commented on blog post, but it seems to be the one that’s stuck out to readers as being the most helpful.

I’ve already taken this into consideration while planning upcoming blog content. I’m thinking about doing a detailed launch plan, some content calendar examples for different creative businesses, some examples of social media plans for different businesses and more.

If you would like to see a specific example of something, let me know in the comments below and I’ll try to work it in.

10. Thanks for all you do.

The most common response fell into this category.

Many of you thanked me for past CreativeLive courses, the work I put into my blog posts, the encouragement I give you and more.

Those responses filled my heart to overflowing.

I was so inspired by all of the positive messages and support while reading through the responses this past Friday afternoon that I sat down to write this blog post at 5pm on Friday.

Usually, I’m reading or painting with watercolors or working on my Alabama Chanin project when Friday afternoon rolls around. I like to reward myself for working hard during the week. But this week, I was super inspired to work on this blog post instead. THANK YOU for that.

Those were the ten most common responses that I got.

I’ve read every single answer and if you didn’t see something you wanted on this list, don’t worry. All of my upcoming blog posts revolve around what you’ve asked for.

After reading through your responses, I wish I would’ve asked for you to include your names and email addresses, because I wish I could’ve emailed some of you to thank you for what you said or your idea.

Please know that I really appreciate it. You’ve got me buzzing with new inspiration!

Comments { 29 }

I need your help!

Survey for Blacksburg Belle

Blacksburg Belle has been a successful business for six years because of you.

You read my blog. You take my courses. You buy my book. You tell other people about me.

Thank you for that.

Sometimes I feel like this is one-way conversation, but it shouldn’t be. I spend hours writing blog posts and months creating courses to help you build the businesses of your dreams around the lives you truly want to live. And, I know with your feedback I could be doing an even better job.

I’m in the midst of planning some things (a new website design, a new program, and blog content) and I’d love your feedback before I finalize things.

This survey takes an average of 4 minutes and I’d be very grateful if you could take just a few minutes of your day to fill it out.

I will read every single answer and use them while planning my upcoming content and program. Thanks in advance.

Comments { 1 }

5 Questions to Answer Before Starting a Business

5 Questions to Answer Before Starting a Business

Entrepreneurship is not for everyone.

It’s not for the person who thinks a 40-hour workweek is a busy week. It’s not for people who can’t stand change. It’s not for people who lack drive and motivation when they’re working for themselves.

And, that’s okay.

We need people who aren’t entrepreneurs in this world.

Before you invest time and money into getting your business off the ground, I recommend that you get really honest with yourself.

Only you know whether or not running a business just sounds cool but isn’t the day-to-day life that you want to live.

It might sound nice to have a respected blog with thousands of readers, but if you don’t love to write or create videos, you probably shouldn’t start a blog. You might like the idea of being the boss but can’t get going in the mornings without deadlines imposed by someone else (and three Red Bulls that erode your stomach lining). You might think an Instagram following of 300,000 sounds like a dream but you don’t want to learn how to take beautiful photos or ever have to sit down and read your camera manual.

Reality is often different than perception. Do you like the reality that comes along with running a business?

Answering the following five questions will help you figure out whether you should go for it or stop before you ever get started.

1. Do you REALLY want it?

About half of the emails I receive from people who want my advice or help with something follow this pattern:

“I really want to do x but y and z are in my way.”

Some examples: I really want to start my own photography business, but I don’t have the money to buy the equipment. I really want to start a blog but I don’t know where to start and I have three young kids so I don’t have a lot of time. I really want to start a life coaching business but I suffer from chronic fatigue and I don’t know if I’ll run myself down.

If you’re in this type of situation where you want to start a business but you’ve got reasons why you don’t think you can, I’m going to tell you something that might hurt your feelings. You’re not special.

We all have reasons why we can’t, but some of us want it bad enough that we overcome those excuses and do the work anyways.

Do you want it that bad? Are you willing to face your excuses head on and build a business despite them?

If you don’t REALLY want it with every fiber of your being, you’ll probably give up when you hit a rough patch and I promise you that you will hit many rough patches.

When you really want it, you’ll keep going when you’re on day sixty-five of your website redesign and you just want to drown in a bucket of mint chocolate chip. Or when you kid is projectile vomiting and it’s launch day. Or when it’s your day to publish a blog post and you’re still staring at a blank screen. If you don’t really want it, that’ll be your last excuse to give up.

2. What are you doing it for?

Please don’t tell me that you’re blogging because you want to become famous or that you’re posting to Instagram because you want 100,000 followers. There are so many people online who are adding to the noise. The main reason they’re tweeting or posting videos on YouTube is because they want more followers.

You’ll get easily lost if that’s what you’re doing this for.

There needs to be so much more to it.

I don’t publish a blog post every Wednesday to get more readers. That’s not the purpose. If it was, I wouldn’t put in nearly as much time and I’d use scammy techniques to get people to click like click bait. The reason I publish weekly blog posts is to help the women who follow my blog build successful businesses around the lives they want to live. I want to help them for free. I want to share my knowledge and expertise with others who are just starting out or struggling to reach their business goals.

Those reasons keep me going when I’ve got a temperature of 102 degrees and still need to edit my blog post before publishing.

So think very carefully about why you want this before you start.

3. Are you ready to work harder than ever before?

There are people out there selling programs like ‘Six Figures in 30 Days’ and other nonsense. I say run in the opposite direction.

There is no magic pill or one strategy that’ll help you make loads of money and keep your dignity.

If you care about how you make money and aren’t willing to scam people, you have to work hard.

Overnight successes aren’t real. That person that seemed like she built her business overnight probably worked for years before that point.

Building a successful business isn’t easy. I won’t lie to you and sell you a fairytale. If you’re not up for the grind and if you don’t have the grit, don’t start a business.

Hustle has become this evil term, but if you’re truly afraid of hustling your buns off to get your business off the ground, you have no business becoming an entrepreneur.

There’s nothing wrong with you if the idea of blogging every week, building an email list, posting to social media every day, connecting with others in your niche and learning to take beautiful product photos sounds like a nightmare. It just means this probably isn’t the path for you.

4. Are you willing to look silly?

Most people will admit that they’re willing to fail. But, often they mean without others seeing it.

They don’t want their friends from high school to know that they’re latest product line completely flopped. They don’t want their family to know that they had to pick up a part-time job because they’re business isn’t profitable yet.

And, they certainly don’t want to do anything that their friends, coworkers and family might make fun of.

That’s why they don’t go all in when filming videos for their websites. That’s why they don’t talk to their spouses about attending a business conference titled Rich, Happy and Hot Live. That’s why they don’t tell anyone about their blogs.

If you’re serious about building a successful business, there are going to be times that you embarrass yourself.

You might blank out in the middle of a speech at a conference live streaming to thousands of people. You might say something you wish you could take back at a networking event. You might blush when a friend from college says that she read your blog and wonders how you can possibly make money from that.

Taking risks often means risking embarrassment. You can’t build a business worth having without either of those things. So, are you willing to look silly to reach your dreams?

5. Can you adapt?

This is the question that lots of people don’t think about until it’s too late. Something that will help you out more than most anything else in building a business is adapting.

The entrepreneur who refused to leave MySpace to join Facebook because hundreds of people were following her on MySpace is currently regretting it. Taxicab drivers who put down Uber are probably wishing they could have a do over. That shop owner who wouldn’t move from sending out physical mailers to email marketing is cursing herself for it now.

Things are constantly changing and if you fight change every step of the way, you’re going to find your business crumbling around you.

You have to move with what works and what your market wants.

You can’t refuse to have a business Facebook page when all of your customers are on Facebook and want to follow you there. You can’t build a website that isn’t mobile-friendly when everyone is glued to their phones. You can’t denounce email marketing when email is the one thing that pretty much every single person checks every single day, multiple times a day.

If you’re not willing to adapt, you shouldn’t become an entrepreneur. You’re just setting yourself up for frustration and heartbreak.

I know this post is a bit harsh, but it’s necessary.

If you’ve honestly thought about all of these things, then you’ll have a much better idea of whether you should start a business or spend your life doing something else.

Neither is the right answer. It depends on what you want out of life and how you want to fill your days.

If you’ve realized that running a business is your dream, welcome to the club! If you’re meant for this type of life, all the hard work is absolutely worth it.

Comments { 16 }

5 Questions to Ask Before Saying Yes to Anything

5

Two weeks ago I published a blog post on why saying no is important and how to say no in practically any situation.

I even snuck in one of my favorite Gilmore Girls quotes. (If you can find it, you officially become one of my favorite people.)

In the comments section of that post, Katie from Art Spreads Joy asked if I could write a follow-up post on figuring out when to say no, especially when you come up with a bunch of amazing ideas but you don’t have time to do all of them.

I’ve got ya back, Katie!

And, I absolutely know the feeling when you want to do all the things, but you have to choose because you also have to feed your dog and sometimes eat and sleep.

My simple yet effective way of figuring out what to say no to is to answer the following five questions. If you answer ‘no’ to any of these, you should probably say no to the opportunity or creative idea, at least for now. You can always scribble it down in an ideas notebook to keep for later.

Question 1: Is it a pop the champagne, sprinkle the confetti kind of yes?

This is the simplest way to rule out anything, especially when you’re almost booked to capacity and can only take on one or two more things before going into complete panic mode.

Is this the kind of yes that makes you want to pop the champagne and sprinkle confetti? You know what I mean. The kind of yes that makes you squeal a little. The kind of yes that you can’t wait to tell your best biz friend about. The kind of yes that makes you want to dance around your living room while blasting ‘Bust a Move’ by Young MC.

If it’s not that kind of yes, it’s probably not worth your time. You became a girl boss for a reason, right? Top of that list is that you get to make all the decisions. (Okay, top of that list is wearing fuzzy slippers to work but making all the decisions is next.)

When I start thinking about saying yes to something because I’ve got that ‘well-I-could-maybe-fit-this-in’ guilt because I care about the person asking or I’ve got a little extra time, I remind myself that one of the best perks of running my own business is filling my time with stuff that makes me feel great.

Whether it’s a ‘meh’ business idea that you think will be really profitable or an interview request that just doesn’t feel quite right, it’s better to say no so that you have time for the good stuff.

Question 2: Have I already committed to similar projects/opportunities/ideas?

You have a brilliant idea (light bulb moment!) for a new checklist for your email opt-in that you know your ideal customer will love but you haven’t even finished the last checklist that you wanted to use as an email opt-in freebie. Write down the idea and leave it for later.

As creatives, this kind of situation happens a lot. Look a squirrel! And, you’re off working on something else, leaving the last thing half-finished.

If you want to run a successful business, you have to finish projects and ideas. Make a rule with yourself that goes something like this: I can’t start another ______________ until I finish this _______________. And, stick with it.

Same thing for business opportunities. How many guest posts can you write each month? How many interviews do you feel comfortable accepting? How many speaking engagements can you fit into each quarter?

Be honest with yourself. Then when someone asks to interview you and you’re already booked, you can just let them know that you don’t have any openings right now.

Question 3: Will this help me achieve my current business goals?

As a creative entrepreneur, you’re probably inundated with ideas. One really good way to decide which ones to act on is to give it the ‘current business goals’ test.

Will this idea help you reach your business goals?

I’m usually working towards two to three business goals. For example, my biz goals list might look like this: redesign new website, get new program ready for launch and promote CL courses.

If those three things were my current business goals and I came up with a really great idea to gain new Instagram followers, I wouldn’t act on it right now. I’d write it down and give it time in the future if I switch my business goals (and want to work on growing my Instagram following) or have more time (look Ma….a business miracle!)

This also applies to opportunities. If one of your goals is to grow your email list from 200 to 1,000 and you get an interview opportunity that will get you in front of hundreds of your ideal customers, take it, knowing that if they love your interview they’ll probably sign up to receive your emails.

Question 4: Will my future self want to rewind to this moment to give my present self a high-five for saying yes?

I try to think about how I’m going to feel in the future if I say yes to something.

Will I resent having another interview scheduled next week or will I be excited for it? Will I be inspired by another watercolor challenge or will I feel pressure to create when I don’t really feel like it? Will I be glad that I took the time to have lunch with that colleague or will I wish I had spent it with my husband?

We can’t predict the future but we can think about how we’ll feel when it comes time to actually do the thing that we’re saying yes to in this moment. And, that might give you a bit more clarity.

Question 5: Can I realistically take on another project/interview/speaking engagement/creative idea this month?

This is the bottom line. Do you have the time?

I want to be clear that time is all about prioritizing. You can make time for anything that’s important enough. (Just ask my college self who was working 40 hours a week, taking a full load of classes and student teaching but still made time to drive from Virginia to Alabama to visit my boyfriend—now husband—once or twice a month.)

But, only you really know whether adding another to-do to your task list will turn you into the Hulk.

Will you feel even more overwhelmed and stressed, wishing you had said no? Business should be fun—not filled with hair-pulling tantrums. Leave that to toddlers and Donald Trump.

I hope these five questions help you determine what you should say yes to and what you should pass on.

I know it’s hard to pass on creative ideas that you’re excited about, but passing for now doesn’t mean passing forever.

Comments { 15 }

3 Detailed Examples of Four-Week Marketing Plans for Creative Businesses

3 Detailed Examples of Four-Week Marketing Plans

Are you in that awkward place where you know what marketing techniques you should be doing (like blogging, social media and interviews) but you’re not quite sure how to put it all together?

You get the individual pieces, but you’re uncertain on what the day-to-day implementation looks like.

And, when you go to promote your business, you end up trying random things without much success. Or, you give up before you really get started because you’re overwhelmed by all the things you’re supposed to be doing.

That’s why I took three different types of creative businesses—a jewelry designer, an Illustrator expert/teacher, and a family photographer—and planned out their marketing for one month in detail.

Before you read through their marketing plans, there’s one very important point I want you to keep mind:

Before I picked the individual marketing strategies for these entrepreneurs, I got clear on their main marketing goals for the month. If you plot your marketing without precise goals in mind, you might as well skip it altogether. It’s kinda like eating melting ice-cream with a fork. You’ll just end up frustrated.

Alright…let’s jump in:

Four-Week Marketing Plan for a Jewelry Designer

This jewelry designer specializes in metalsmithing. She sells her jewelry on her own website and on Etsy. She also has four wholesale accounts established and has really enjoyed working on expanding that part of her business. She’s still living month to month without any substantial savings and would like to increase her consistent income.

Her top two marketing priorities for the month are to: 1) get her jewelry into at least two more boutiques to grow her wholesale business and 2) prepare for the launch of her new jewelry line next month which includes 15 new pieces.

Week One

Sunday:

  • Write draft of this week’s blog post: 10 Reasons to Buy Handmade Jewelry Over Mass Produced

Monday:

  • Edit draft of this week’s blog post: 10 Reasons to Buy Handmade Jewelry Over Mass Produced
  • Take a photo (or pick a photo from collection) for this week’s blog post
  • Pin 10 new things on Pinterest, including two of my own items

Tuesday:

  • Publish blog post: 10 Reasons to Buy Handmade Jewelry Over Mass Produced
  • Email blog post to newsletter list
  • Share blog post on Instagram, Twitter, Facebook, and Pinterest
  • Schedule additional tweets and Facebook posts to promote blog post throughout the next six months

Wednesday:

  • Finalize and send in pitch to Belle Armoire Jewelry Magazine
  • Brainstorm 10 new boutiques to reach out to for wholesale opportunities
  • 10-minute Periscope: Let’s Chat About Buying Handmade vs. Mass Produced

Thursday:

  • Pick 5 of the 10 boutiques from yesterday to reach out to regarding wholesale opportunities
  • Research to see if any of those boutiques have special requirements for pitches
  • Pin 10 new things on Pinterest, including two of my own items

Friday:

  • Tweet a reminder to read this week’s blog post: 10 Reasons to Buy Handmade Jewelry Over Mass Produced
  • Begin taking product photos for new jewelry line
  • Share sneak peek of upcoming new jewelry line on Instagram, Twitter and Facebook

Saturday:

  • Get wholesale pitches ready to send, finalize them and send them
  • Post a picture of my workspace on Instagram

Week Two

Sunday:

  • Write draft of this week’s blog post: Audrey Necklace Styled Five Ways: Casual, Dressy, Office-Appropriate, Date Night and Brunch
  • Pin 10 new things on Pinterest, including two of my own items

Monday:

  • Edit draft of this week’s blog post: Audrey Necklace Styled Five Ways: Casual, Dressy, Office-Appropriate, Date Night and Brunch
  • Take photos of each outfit for this week’s blog post
  • Finish taking product photos for new jewelry line

Tuesday:

  • Publish blog post: Audrey Necklace Styled Five Ways: Casual, Dressy, Office-Appropriate, Date Night and Brunch
  • Email blog post to newsletter list
  • Share blog post on Instagram, Twitter, Facebook, and Pinterest
  • Schedule additional tweets and Facebook posts to promote blog post throughout the next six months

Wednesday:

  • Write product descriptions for 5 of the new pieces of my upcoming jewelry line
  • Share sneak peek of upcoming jewelry line on Facebook

Thursday:

  • Write product descriptions for the last 5 new pieces of my upcoming jewelry line
  • Send out a free shipping coupon to email list that lasts for 48 hours
  • Pin 10 new things on Pinterest, including two of my own items

Friday:

  • Write product descriptions for 5 more of the new pieces of my upcoming jewelry line
  • Tweet a reminder to read this week’s blog post: Audrey Necklace Styled Five Ways: Casual, Dressy, Office-Appropriate, Date Night and Brunch

Saturday:

  • Edit product descriptions for new jewelry line
  • Post favorite outfit from the week (that includes at least one piece of my jewelry) on Instagram and Facebook

Week Three

Sunday:

  • Write draft of this week’s blog post: Sneak Peek of My Upcoming Spring Collection
  • Finish editing product descriptions for new jewelry line
  • Send product descriptions to copyeditor to look over and give feedback

Monday:

  • Edit draft of this week’s blog post: Sneak Peek of My Upcoming Spring Collection
  • Pick photos from this month’s photo shoot for this week’s blog post
  • Pin 10 new things on Pinterest, including two of my own items

Tuesday:

  • Publish blog post: Sneak Peek of My Upcoming Spring Collection
  • Email blog post to newsletter list
  • Share blog post on Instagram, Twitter, Facebook, and Pinterest
  • Schedule additional tweets and Facebook posts to promote blog post throughout the next six months

Wednesday:

  • Post sketches that were the inspiration behind my upcoming launch on Instagram, Twitter and Facebook
  • 15-minute Periscope: Some Funny Stories from My Upcoming Spring Collection

Thursday:

  • Follow-up with the 5 new boutiques regarding wholesale from week one (sending in anything else they’ve asked for)
  • Share sneak peek of upcoming jewelry line on Instagram and Twitter

Friday:

  • Tweet a reminder to read this week’s blog post: Sneak Peek of My Upcoming Spring Collection
  • Post favorite outfit from the week (that includes at least one piece of my jewelry) on Instagram and Facebook

Saturday:

  • Post more sketches that were the inspiration behind my upcoming launch on Instagram, Twitter and Facebook
  • Pin 10 new things on Pinterest, including two of my own items

Week Four

Sunday:

  • Write draft of this week’s blog post: 10 Thoughtful Mother’s Day Gifts

Monday:

  • Edit draft of this week’s blog post: 10 Thoughtful Mother’s Day Gifts
  • Take a photo (or pick a photo from collection) for this week’s blog post

Tuesday:

  • Publish blog post: 10 Thoughtful Mother’s Day Gifts
  • Email blog post to newsletter list
  • Share blog post on Instagram, Twitter, Facebook, and Pinterest
  • Schedule additional tweets and Facebook posts to promote blog post throughout the next six months

Wednesday:

  • Make changes to product descriptions based on copyeditor’s notes
  • Pin 10 new things on Pinterest, including two of my own items

Thursday:

  • Finalize product descriptions

Friday:

  • Tweet a reminder to read this week’s blog post: 10 Thoughtful Mother’s Day Gifts
  • Pin 10 new things on Pinterest, including two of my own items

Saturday:

  • 10-minute Periscope: Let’s Talk Mother’s Day Gifts
  • Post favorite outfit from the week (that includes at least one piece of my jewelry) on Instagram and Facebook

Four-Week Marketing Plan for an Illustrator Expert and Teacher

This illustrator expert makes most of her income from teaching Illustrator workshops and classes. She has a course on Skillshare and two courses on her own website. She’d like to partner with companies like CreativeLive and Atly to offer more courses on different platforms. She used to create a lot of custom illustrations but she now likes to fill about 25% of her time with creating custom illustrations for brands and 75% of her time teaching Illustrator.

Her top two marketing priorities for the month are to: 1) grow her email list by 500 new subscribers 2) get in front of other bloggers’ audiences through guest posts.

Week One

Sunday:

  • Pick three bloggers to pitch guest posts to and look up any pitch requirements they have on their websites
  • Post reminder about tomorrow’s webinar (that requires email opt-in to access) on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram
  • Boost the Facebook post

Monday:

  • Write draft of this week’s blog post: Why I Use Illustrator over Photoshop When Creating Blog Graphics
  • Email reminder for today’s webinar to the list of people who have signed up to attend
  • Host webinar (that viewers have to opt-in to get access to) on how to create seamless repeat patterns in Illustrator

Tuesday:

  • First round of edits for this week’s blog post: Why I Use Illustrator over Photoshop When Creating Blog Graphics
  • Write guest post pitches, finalize and send
  • Post a quick Illustrator tip on Facebook for Quick Tip Tuesdays
  • Send email following up from yesterday’s webinar to all who attended, reminding them that they can sign up for my Surface Pattern Design Course at 30% off for 24 more hours

Wednesday:

  • Second round of edits for this week’s blog post: Why I Use Illustrator over Photoshop When Creating Blog Graphics
  • Create visual for this week’s blog post
  • 15-minute Periscope: Illustrator versus Photoshop
  • Tweet about email list, giving reasons why followers should join it

Thursday:

  • Finalize and publish this week’s blog post: Why I Use Illustrator over Photoshop When Creating Blog Graphics
  • Email blog post to newsletter list
  • Share blog post on Instagram, Twitter, Facebook and Pinterest
  • Add tweets for this week’s blog post to my Edgar library

Friday:

  • Tweet reminder to check out this week’s blog post: Why I Use Illustrator over Photoshop When Creating Blog Graphics

Saturday:

  • Day off

Week Two

Sunday:

  • Create downloadable PDF of favorite Illustrator Shortcuts
  • Post latest pattern created in Illustrator on Instagram and Facebook

Monday:

  • Write draft of this week’s blog post: My Favorite Illustrator Shortcuts + A FREE Downloadable PDF

Tuesday:

  • First round of edits for this week’s blog post: My Favorite Illustrator Shortcuts + A FREE Downloadable PDF
  • Check in with bloggers who I pitched guests posts to if they haven’t responded
  • Post a quick Illustrator tip on Facebook for Quick Tip Tuesdays

Wednesday:

  • Second round of edits for this week’s blog post: My Favorite Illustrator Shortcuts + A FREE Downloadable PDF
  • Create visual for this week’s blog post
  • Write draft of upcoming guest post on XYZ blog: How to Create Professional Blog Graphics in Illustrator

Thursday:

  • Finalize and publish this week’s blog post that includes an opt-in to receive the free downloadable PDF: My Favorite Illustrator Shortcuts + A FREE Downloadable PDF
  • Email blog post to newsletter list
  • Share blog post on Instagram, Twitter, Facebook and Pinterest
  • Boost Facebook post
  • Add tweets for this week’s blog post to my Edgar library

Friday:

  • First round of edits for guest post: How to Create Professional Blog Graphics in Illustrator
  • Create landing page (featuring an opt-in for email list) to welcome new readers from XYZ blog when guest post is published
  • 10-minute Periscope: A Free Downloadable PDF for Illustrator Shortcuts (chat about the free PDF and where they can opt-in to get it)
  • Add a pop-up opt-in to home page for the shortcuts PDF

Saturday:

  • Second round of edits for guest post: How to Create Professional Blog Graphics in Illustrator
  • Edit landing page (featuring an opt-in for email list) to welcome new readers from XYZ blog when guest post is published

Week Three

Sunday:

  • Finalize and send in guest post: How to Create Professional Blog Graphics in Illustrator
  • Finalize and publish landing page (featuring opt-in for email list) to welcome new readers from XYZ blog when guest post is published

Monday:

  • Film video for this week’s blog post: An Intro to the Pen Tool in Illustrator
  • Tweet about email list, giving reasons why followers should join it

Tuesday:

  • Edit video for this week’s blog post: An Intro to the Pen Tool in Illustrator
  • Post an illustration from my collection on Instagram and Facebook
  • 15-minute Periscope: 5 Custom Illustrations I’ve Created for Well-Known Brands
  • Post a quick Illustrator tip on Facebook for Quick Tip Tuesdays

Wednesday:

  • Write intro and any other copy for this week’s blog post: An Intro to the Pen Tool in Illustrator
  • Create visual for this week’s blog post

Thursday:

  • Finalize and publish this week’s blog post: An Intro to the Pen Tool in Illustrator
  • Email blog post to newsletter list
  • Share blog post on Instagram, Twitter, Facebook and Pinterest
  • Add tweets for this week’s blog post to my Edgar library

Friday:

  • Post latest pattern made in Illustrator on Instagram and Facebook

Saturday:

  • Feature a student from my Illustrator for Bloggers Course on Facebook showing examples of how she’s used the course to improve her blog graphics

Week Four

Sunday:

  • Brainstorm at least 5 more blogs that accept guest posts

Monday:

  • Write draft of this week’s blog post: 10 Techniques You’ll Learn in My Illustrator for Bloggers Course

Tuesday:

  • First round of edits for this week’s blog post: 10 Techniques You’ll Learn in My Illustrator for Bloggers Course
  • Post a quick Illustrator tip on Facebook for Quick Tip Tuesdays

Wednesday:

  • Second round of edits for this week’s blog post: 10 Techniques You’ll Learn in My Illustrator for Bloggers Course
  • Create visual for this week’s blog post
  • Post latest custom illustration on Instagram and Facebook

Thursday:

  • Finalize and publish this week’s blog post: 10 Techniques You’ll Learn in My Illustrator for Bloggers Course
  • Email blog post to newsletter list
  • Share blog post on Instagram, Twitter, Facebook and Pinterest
  • Add tweets for this week’s blog post to my Edgar library
  • 10-minute Periscope: Who’s Right for My Illustrator for Bloggers Course on Skillshare

Friday:

  • Email my newsletter list intro to guest post on XYZ blog and link to where they can read it
  • Share guest post on Instagram, Twitter, Facebook and Pinterest
  • Schedule tweets and Facebook posts to promote guest post over the next six months
  • Email blogger from XYZ to thank her for having me as a guest poster on her blog, letting her know that I’d be up for other guest posting opportunities in the future

Saturday:

  • 10-minute Periscope: My Guest Post on XYZ Blog
  • Share a personal photo from the week on Instagram and Facebook

Four-Week Marketing Plan for a Family Photographer

This photographer specializes in working with families with young children. Because she has three kids under the age of five, she’s great at knowing exactly how to engage kiddos during a shoot. She works in the Richmond, VA area but will travel up to two hours if the price is right. She moved to Virginia from North Carolina about one year ago so she’s still establishing her client base in the Richmond area.

Her top two marketing priorities for the month are to: 1) book three new families for family shoots 2) grow her Facebook following by 100 because she gets almost 40% of her clients from Facebook.

Week One

Sunday:

  • Post favorite photo from latest session on Instagram and Facebook
  • Boost Facebook post, targeting moms in the Richmond, VA area

Monday:

  • Publish a testimonial on Facebook along with the best shot from that family’s shoot
  • Boost the Facebook post, targeting families/moms in the Richmond, VA area
  • Write rough draft of this week’s blog post: Top 5 Free Places in Richmond Virginia to Take Your Kids on the Weekend

Tuesday:

  • First round of edits on this week’s blog post: Top 5 Free Places in Richmond Virginia to Take Your Kids on the Weekend
  • Host a caption contest on Instagram

Wednesday:

  • Second round of edits on this week’s blog post: Top 5 Free Places in Richmond Virginia to Take Your Kids on the Weekend

Thursday:

  • Finalize and publish this week’s blog post: Top 5 Free Places in Richmond Virginia to Take Your Kids on the Weekend
  • Email intro to blog post to email newsletter list
  • Share blog post on Instagram and Facebook
  • Boost post on Facebook, targeting families/moms in Richmond, VA
  • Schedule two more Facebook posts to go out over the next six months to promote this week’s blog post

Friday:

  • Have lunch with a respected newborn photographer in the area for networking purposes
  • Post favorite personal photo from the week on Instagram and Facebook with a short story explaining the photo

Saturday:

  • 5-minute Facebook Live video: Behind-the-Scenes of the Smith’s Family Session
  • Send hand-written thank you notes to all families who I had photoshoots with in the last 30 days

Week Two

Sunday:

  • Post photo from collection on Instagram

Monday:

  • Write rough draft of this week’s blog post: What NOT to Wear for a Family Photo Shoot
  • 5-minute Facebook Live video: At the Children’s Museum with My Kids in Richmond, VA
  • Post how many sessions I have available for the next six months on Facebook along with a link to book a session

Tuesday:

  • Publish a testimonial on Instagram along with the best shot from that family’s shoo, making the testimonial the caption
  • First round of edits for this week’s blog post: What NOT to Wear for a Family Photo Shoot

Wednesday:

  • Second round of edits for this week’s blog post: What NOT to Wear for a Family Photo Shoot
  • 20-minute phone interview for local magazine feature

Thursday:

  • Finalize and publish this week’s blog post: What NOT to Wear for a Family Photo Shoot
  • Email intro to blog post to email newsletter list
  • Share blog post on Instagram and Facebook
  • Boost Facebook post
  • Schedule two more Facebook posts to go out over the next six months to promote this week’s blog post

Friday:

  • Post favorite personal photo from the week on Instagram and Facebook with a short story explaining the photo
  • 10-minute Live Facebook: Let’s Chat About What NOT to Wear for a Family Photo Shoot

Saturday:

  • Day off

Week Three

Sunday:

  • Post favorite photo from latest session on Instagram and Facebook
  • Boost Facebook post, targeting moms in the Richmond, VA area

Monday:

  • Write rough draft of this week’s blog post: Why You Shouldn’t Skip Yearly Family Photo Sessions
  • Email last five families to encourage them to pass on my information to other moms who might be interested in family shoots—drop off additional business cards if needed

Tuesday:

  • First round of edits on this week’s blog post: Why You Shouldn’t Skip Yearly Family Photo Sessions
  • Publish a testimonial on Facebook along with the best shot from the shoot
  • Boost the Facebook post, targeting families/moms in the Richmond, VA area

Wednesday:

  • Second round of edits on this week’s blog post: Why You Shouldn’t Skip Yearly Family Photo Sessions

Thursday:

  • Finalize and publish this week’s blog post: Why You Shouldn’t Skip Yearly Family Photo Sessions
  • Email intro to blog post to email newsletter list
  • Share blog post on Instagram and Facebook
  • Schedule two more Facebook posts to go out over the next six months to promote this week’s blog post

Friday:

  • Email Smith’s family for quick follow-up survey and testimonial
  • Post favorite personal photo from the week on Instagram and Facebook with a short story explaining the photo

Saturday:

  • 10-minute Live Facebook video: Why You Shouldn’t Skip Yearly Family Photo Sessions

Week Four

Sunday:

  • Post photo from collection on Instagram

Monday:

  • Write rough draft of this week’s blog post: My Top Three Favorite Spots for Family Photo Shoots in Richmond, VA

Tuesday:

  • First round of edits on this week’s blog post: My Top Three Favorite Spots for Family Photo Shoots in Richmond, VA

Wednesday:

  • Second round of edits on this week’s blog post: My Top Three Favorite Spots for Family Photo Shoots in Richmond, VA

Thursday:

  • Publish a testimonial on Instagram along with the best shot from that family’s shoot, making the testimonial the caption
  • Finalize and publish this week’s blog post: My Top Three Favorite Spots for Family Family Photo Shoots in Richmond, VA
  • Email intro to blog post to email newsletter list
  • Share blog post on Instagram and Facebook
  • Schedule two more Facebook posts to go out over the next six months to promote this week’s blog post

Friday:

  • Post favorite personal photo from the week on Instagram and Facebook with a short story explaining the photo

Saturday:

  • 5-minute Facebook Live video: Behind-the-Scenes of the Robertson’s Family Session
  • Post how many sessions I have available for the next six months on Facebook along with a link to book a session

There you have it!

I hope that this gives you some insight into what your marketing plan might look like.

I showed you three different marketing plans with different goals, because I don’t want you to get stuck on the ‘what.’ Instead when you’re planning how you’re going to promote your business, start with what you want to achieve and then work backwards.

It’s much easier to figure out what you should do once you’re clear on what you want to accomplish.

If you’re still feeling overwhelmed after reading this blog post and want more help with compiling your custom marketing plan, you should check out my CreativeLive course, Double Your Followers with Creative Marketing.

In that course I cover everything from getting clear on your target market to taking beautiful product photos to writing copy that sells to email marketing and sales funnels. It’s the most comprehensive marketing course for creative entrepreneurs out there.

Review of Double Your Followers with Creative Marketing:

“I’ve taken quite a few online marketing courses for my blog and have read countless “how-to’s” as well. So I wouldn’t say I’m a beginner when it comes to knowing what to do. I almost didn’t watch this one but since I love April and her advice I figured “why not”. Well, I’m so glad I did! This is probably the most comprehensive how-to market your blog course I’ve seen. Better than and with tons more content than some of the $2000 ones I’ve taken from well-known marketing experts. I really like how she takes an idea and really expands upon it – example upon example, especially using audience members to show unique situations. Instead of just theory it shows how to put everything into practice. I highly highly recommend!” –DM Evans

Comments { 13 }

28 ‘Done-For-You’ Scripts to Say No In Any Situation

28

In my first year of business, I said yes to every business opportunity that came my way.

If someone asked to interview me, I’d move my entire calendar around to make it work.

If someone asked me to guest post on her blog, I’d stay up until midnight writing and editing to get it done.

If a blogger asked me to provide a quote for an upcoming blog post, I’d drop everything and email her back my opinion on the topic.

If someone asked me to speak at a conference, I said yes despite the nausea rolling around in my stomach because I didn’t know if I was ready.

I didn’t care how big the person’s audience was, how long they’d been in business or whether I was the right fit. If I could make the time (even if that meant waking up at 4:30am), I said yes.

Because I dove in headfirst, I grew my own audience pretty quickly, and doing all of those things helped me sell out my first group coaching program six months into launching my business.

I’m grateful for each of those opportunities, but it wasn’t sustainable.

I didn’t take a single day off (including holidays) in the first six months of business and I was newly married. I remember the day my husband came to me and said, “I want to support you and your business. I’m so proud of you, but I miss my wife.”

And, I could feel the exhaustion in my bones.

When you start your business, you need to say yes to figure out what works best for your personality and brand, to grow your audience, and to connect with others in and out of your niche.

But, after a year of jumping at every opportunity, you quickly realize that strategy isn’t going to work long-term.

Not only that, but it becomes clear that every time you say yes to one thing, you’re saying no lots of other possibilities.

When you agree to write a monthly column for another blogger, you’re taking away time you could be writing a post for your own blog.

That time that you spend prepping for a speaking engagement, traveling and speaking could be spent creating and launching an ecourse.

The hour you spent answering questions for an interview could’ve been spent at a yoga class or having lunch with a friend.

This doesn’t mean that you shouldn’t participate in blog tours or accept interview or guest posting opportunities. Making time for networking and marketing is important, but once you get past the very beginning, it’s essential that you say yes to the right things.

At this point in my business, I say no 90% of the time.

When someone asks me to advertise on my blog, it’s an automatic no (and I still get these requests pretty much daily).

When a blogger asks to interview me, I spend a few minutes checking out her website and past interviews to see if I feel like it’d be a good fit.

When someone contacts me to speak at a conference, I consider what other speaking engagements I’ve already agreed to, how much time I’d be spending on the prep and travel, and whether or not the audience is the perfect fit. Even though I love speaking and teaching, I know what works best for me and because I don’t have the travel bug (can I get a ‘what what’ from my fellow homebodies), I only accept one to three speaking opportunities each year.

As an entrepreneur, my most valuable resource is time. It took me a few years to really appreciate that.

Now that I decline most offers that pop up in my inbox, I’ve gotten comfortable with saying no.

At first, I struggled every single time.

I worried that I’d hurt the other person’s feelings or offend them. I also had that nagging feeling that maybe I’d regret saying no. What if that opportunity made a huge difference to my business?

I get it. It’s easier to say yes in the moment, but when you continue to say yes to the wrong things, you start to resent them and wish you had time to write your next ebook or walk your dogs or take that Instagram course.

That’s why I’m writing this post. Use the scripts below to say no—whether it’s to something ridiculous (like writing a sponsored post for a local mechanic when your wedding planning blog has nothing to do with cars) or something you might be up for in the future or something personal. I tried to cover it all!

You can copy and paste these scripts or you can use the basic idea and make it your own.

Saying no to people who want free stuff

1. I really appreciate your email and I know it’s not easy to reach out to someone you don’t know to ask for help. Unfortunately, I have to decline because I run a small business and every second counts. Working for free just isn’t an option. I have a package if you want to work together and you can find the details and pricing right here (insert link to sales page). If you’re not in a position to hire me, I’ve got a bunch of free resources on my blog. You can find multiple posts that’ll help you on my Start Here page (link to that page).

2. Thanks for contacting me! I’m so glad that you’re interested in _____________ (chatting with me on Skype, my website designs, etc.). I actually have a package for this. You can find it and my prices right here (add sales page link). I hope you have a great day!

3. I’m honored that you want to give away one of my custom necklaces (or whatever you sell) on your blog. Because of the time and materials, I can’t provide one for free, but if you decide to purchase one to give away, I’ll giftwrap and ship it for no extra cost.

Saying no to someone asking for trade secrets (like a list of supplies)

4. I could tell you but then I’d have to banish you to Azkaban. Just teasing…but I don’t share that information, because it’s one of my trade secrets.

5. It took me years to ______________ (find the best supplies, learn my craft, connect with the bloggers I guest post for, etc.), so I don’t share that information with anyone. I hope you can understand.

Saying no to interviews and guest posts

6. Thank you for the invite! Unfortunately, my calendar is booked for the next few months. If you’d like to contact me again in _______________ (month you might be available), we might be able to set something up. Thanks again for thinking of me.

7. I appreciate the invitation, but I’m overbooked with my _____________ (upcoming launch, book edits, prep for a speaking engagement, upcoming line of jewelry, etc.) and I promised my hubby that any spare time will go towards a date night. Thanks for thinking of me!

8. Thank you so much for thinking of me, but I’m not sure that I’m the right fit for __________________ (your podcast, this guest post topic, etc.). I wish you all the best!

Saying no to speaking engagements

9. Your event looks like a blast, but I only accept three speaking engagements per year and I’m currently booked for this year. If you want to check back with me when you’re planning for next year, I’ll lookout for your email.

10. Thank you so much for the invitation to speak at _______________ (name of conference), but I’m currently booked. I hope your event is a complete success!

Saying no to advertising or sponsored posts

11. I don’t advertise on ____________ (name of your website). I hope you have a great day!

12. My audience isn’t the right fit for ____________________ (whatever they want you to advertise). I hope you have a great day!

13. Since my blog is all about ______________ (whatever you blog about), I don’t think advertising ______________ (recliner chairs or whatever product they want you to advertise) makes any sense. (I realize this one is harsh…but come on people! Do a little research before emailing.)

Saying no to affiliate offers

14. Your _____________ (ecourse, launch, video series, etc) looks amazing. Congrats! I appreciate the invitation to be one of your affiliates, but I don’t join any affiliate programs. If you’d like to send me some tweets that I can copy and paste, I’d be happy to spread the word on social media—no incentives necessary!

15. Thanks for the invite, but this isn’t the right fit for my audience. I wish you all the best with your launch.

16. Affiliate programs aren’t really my jam but thanks for thinking of me. Congrats on your launch!

17. I appreciate the offer, but I’m completely booked with all of the affiliate programs I feel comfortable joining at the moment. If something changes, I’ll email you.

Saying no to someone wanting you to share her stuff (like blog posts or infographics)

18. This isn’t the right fit for my audience, but I wish you all the best.

19. Thanks for reaching out to me. While your infographic looks really cool, I don’t include other people’s infographics on my blog or in my emails. My visuals are a part of my brand so I only use my own. But, I couldn’t help but pin it and tweet about it. Thanks for sharing it with me.

20. I only share people’s content when I find it myself and know that my audience will love it. I’m sure your ______________ (blog post, infographic, etc.) is great and I’ll add it to my list of things to check out when I have a chance. If it’s the right fit, I’ll share it on social media. I hope you have a lovely day!

Saying no to a good friend who also runs a business

21. You know I adore you, right? And, I’m super flattered that you want me to design your website for you (or whatever she wants you to do). When we pair up, we do have a lot of fun and I’m so happy we can share business-y stories. I’m going to have to say no to this, because I feel like your style would be a better match with another designer (be honest but kind). I can recommend a handful of designers that I think you’d love (give a suggestion that works for the situation). We need to catch up soon. Skype date?

Saying no to friends and family

22. I can’t _______________ (go grocery shopping, talk on the phone, go get a manicure) during the workday. Even though I work from home, I keep strict hours. If you’d like to ______________ (go grocery shopping, talk on the phone, go get a manicure) after 6 or this weekend, I’m in.

23. I wish I would’ve known about ______________ (your bridal shower, your open house, etc.) sooner. I’ve already got something scheduled. Maybe we could grab a drink next month—just the two of us—and celebrate?!

24. Girl, please. Ain’t nobody got time for book club (or insert activity that applies).

25. I know I haven’t been able to spend a lot of time with you lately. This ____________ (launch, book, new line of knitting of patterns, etc.) is gobbling up all of my time. I seriously appreciate your support and patience and as soon as I’m done, we can spend an entire day doing anything you want.

26. Potluck dinners (or whatever activity you aren’t into) aren’t really my thing, but I’d love to grab brunch with you next week. I miss you and seriously need to know who you’re rooting for on Dancing with the Stars.

27. Mom, no. I love you.

Saying no to that rude family member that makes you want to poke out your own eyeballs when you have to spend more than 15 minutes with her/him

28. Sorry. *White Noise* You’re cutting out. *White Noise* The house is going through a tunnel. *Hang up* (If you know where this is from, you get eighty-seven million bonus points.)

When you say no to someone, no matter the situation, it’s best to: express gratitude, keep it short while telling them why you’re declining, and offer alternatives if that’s an option.

If you want to run a successful business, you’ve got to get comfortable saying no.

It’s integral to preserve your energy and focus your time on your priorities (like making money honey!).

What’s the hardest thing you’ve had to say no to this year? Did it end up being the right decision? Share in the comments below.

Comments { 42 }

Marketing from A to Z: 101 FREE Resources for Promoting Your Creative Business

101 Free Resources to Market Your Creative Business

If you’ve been stumbling around the internet trying to compile resources for learning how to market your creative business, I’ve got you covered. I’ve compiled 101 FREE blog posts, videos and downloads that’ll make promoting your business a lot easier.

Basics

1. Do You Really Need to Spend Time on Marketing?: If you’re wondering whether or not you really need to invest big chunks of time on marketing, read this post.

2. Why You Need a Marketing Plan + Basic Steps to Put One Together: If you know that you need help with marketing but you don’t know where to start, this post will help.

3. Find Your Great Big Why: If you don’t know why you do what you do, every part of the marketing process is going to feel like a struggle. Kris helps you figure it all out in this post.

Target Market and Ideal Customer

4. How to REALLY Find Your Target Market: Have you heard the term ‘target market’ but still don’t know how to figure out who your target market is? This post is for you.

5. How to Easily Get to Know Your Ideal Customer: Still trying to figure out how to connect with your ideal customer? This post includes a valuable shortcut.

6. 7 Tactics to Help You Get to Know Your Ideal Customer: More strategies to get to know your ideal customer.

7. How to Define Your Target Audience and Why You Need To: This post walks you through the step by step process of defining your target market.

8. Are You Selling to the Wrong People?: If you’re struggling to sell your products, it might be that you haven’t gotten them in front of the right people.

9. How to Position Your Product to Sell: If you have a great product but it’s not selling, you need to watch this video.

10. How to Create a Deep Connection with Your Prospects and Customers: If you feel like a lack of connection is your problem, read this post.

11. What if My Customers Aren’t All the Same? How Do I Appeal to Multiple Targets?: If you’re asking these questions, you need to read this today.

12. The Psychology of Your Customers: Learn about the different types of customers visiting your website.

Website Design and Branding

13. The Ultimate Guide to Planning Your Website: This is the BEST website planning resource I’ve ever found. It’s by the lovely Amanda Creek.

14. No You Can’t Just Use Your Favorite Colors On Your Website!: If you’re in the process of choosing your brand colors, you need to read this post.

15. How To Plan Your Website Using Wireframes: Another information-packed post by Amanda Creek that will make designing your website much easier.

16. Moving from WordPress.com to WordPress.org: It’s important to own your website. If you’re thinking about moving from the free WordPress platform to owning your site, this post will help.

17. 6 Key Elements of a Perfect Logo: If you’re currently designing (or redesigning) your logo, you should check this out.

18. 5 Types of Logos to Incorporate in Your Brand: Another helpful post on logos.

19. How to Utilize an Inspiration Board to Design a Consistent Brand: This is a super fun part of the branding and designing process.

20. How to Choose a Color Scheme When You’re Not a Designer: Feeling overwhelmed with all the color options? Read this post to help you make the best decision for your brand.

21. Five Tips for Improving the User Experience on Your Website: Your website is your online home and you want it to be as user-friendly as possible.

22. What You’re Paying for When You Hire a Designer: Thinking about hiring a website designer? Read this.

23. 10 Things About Your Site That Will Make Me Cringe: If you have a high bounce rate, you might be making one of these mistakes.

24. 10 Commandments of Business Card Design: Read this post before designing your business cards.

Blogging

25. 52 Blog Post Topics for Creative Entrepreneurs: Fill up your content calendar with these ideas.

26. Quick and Powerful Ways to Improve Your Blog: Four creative entrepreneurs share tips on improving your blog.

27. A Complete Beginner’s Guide to Starting a Blog: If you want to start a blog but you have absolutely no idea where to begin, check this out.

28. 50 More No-Fluff, Content-Rich Blog Post Ideas: Even more ideas to help you fill up your content calendar.

29. 30 Ways to Look Like a Blogging Pro (And, Not a Newbie): Afraid that you’re giving off that newbie vibe? Read this post to learn how to become a blogging pro.

30. How to Develop Your Blogging Voice: If your blog posts lack that oomph of personality, check out this post for tips.

31. 10 Most Frequently Asked Blogging Questions Answered: Have a question about blogging? You’ll probably find your answer in this post.

32. Is Blogging Dying?: Mayi Carles answers the question that lots of entrepreneurs are currently asking.

33. You’re Not too Busy to Blog: Why you should stop making excuses and get to work.

34. What to Do When Blogging Feels Like Pulling Teeth: Have you skipped your last couple of blog posts because it’s no longer fun? Read this.

35. 8 Questions You Need to Ask Yourself for Blogging Success: You need a solid blogging foundation to succeed.

Email Marketing

36. Your Step-by-Step Email Marketing Strategy Guide: It includes a free checklist!

37. The Email that Always Generates Sales: Use this email marketing idea to make money today.

38. How and Why to Create a Free Resource Library as Your Opt-In Freebie: If you’re a service-based entrepreneur trying to figure out your email opt-in freebie, check this post out.

39. 10 Clever Ways to Use Social Media to Grow Your Email List: Wondering how to use social media to get more email subscribers? Look no further.

40. 10 Ways to Get Better at Email Marketing: This is great for newbies and beyond.

41. How I Grew My Email List To 5,000 Subscribers In 6 Months: Such an inspiring example of how you can grow your email list faster than you think.

42. Are You Overthinking Your Email Campaigns?: Email marketing isn’t rocket science.

43. 6 Strategic Ways to Actually Make Money with Your Email List: Wondering how to convert your email subscribers into customers? Read this post.

Copywriting

44. Your Writing Process Matters. Stop the Cage Match: If you try to do every writing step (outlining, writing the rough draft, editing, revising, publishing) at once, you need to read this.

45. The Ultimate Copy Checklist: 51 Questions to Optimize Every Element of Your Online Copy: Such a great resource for copywriting.

46. Five Well-Written Copywriting Examples: If you feel like you need some real life examples of well-written copy, you’ll find them here.

47. Make This One Change to Inject Sizzle Into Your Writing: Instead of trying to change everything about your writing, make this one change and see immediate results.

48. What It Means To Find Your Voice: You’ve probably heard the writing advice that you need to ‘find your voice.’ What does that really mean? Found out here.

49. The Shocking Truth About Writer’s Block: You might not want to hear this but you need to hear this.

50. How to Stop Writing With a Stick Up Your Ass: I mean…this title pretty much says it all.

51. Better to Be a Mouse With a Backbone, Than a Lion With No Spine: On Writing Voice: One of my favorite bloggers of all time.

52. How to Immediately Become a More Productive (and Better) Writer: This will help in all areas of your business.

53. How to Use the ‘Rule of Three’ to Create Engaging Content: It’s all about quality over quantity.

54. Help! My Elevator Pitch is Falling (Seriously) Flat Chested: Ashley does it again with this witty (and super helpful) post.

Video

55. 10 Tips to Improve Your Videos When You’re First Starting Out: If you’re new to video, this post will help you improve immediately.

56. Why You Should Use Video to Promote Your Business: If you’ve been thinking about adding video to your marketing to-do list, this will help push you over the edge.

Social Media

57. 10 Tips to Double Your Instagram Followers in 30 Days: Grow your following on Instagram with these tips.

58. How to Make the 2016 Instagram Algorithm Changes Work for Your Biz: Worried that changes to Instagram will derail your marketing goals? Check out this post to make sure that doesn’t happen.

59. 5 Mistakes You’re Making on Instagram and How to Fix Them: Read this post to avoid Instagram blunders.

60. 100 Creatives to Follow on Instagram: Artists, Writers, Photographers, Crafters, Designers: Looking for other creatives to follow on Instagram? Look no further.

61. 6 Hashtags for Sharing Creative Work on Instagram: Wondering what hashtags you should be using? Danielle provides some great ideas.

62. 5 Steps to Getting Started on Periscope: Periscope is a great platform to connect with your audience in a raw and authentic way. Get started today.

63. How to Use Facebook to Market Your Creative Business: Why you should NOT delete your Facebook page and how to use it to promote your business.

64. How to Make Your Etsy Shop More Pin Friendly: If you sell on Etsy, you should make sure that browsers can easily pin your items.

65. The 7 Essential Elements of Effective Social Media Marketing: A must-read on social media.

66. 10 Social Media Don’ts: You don’t want to be making these mistakes on social media.

Photography

67. Product Photography for Beginners: Feel like the main reason you’re not selling much is because your product photos need work? Check out this helpful video on Etsy.

68. What Kind of Photographer Are You?: Figuring out what kind of photographer you are will help you become a better photographer. (And, quizzes are so much fun!)

69. 21-Day Photography Challenge: Improve your product photos with this 21-day challenge.

70. 20 Must Have Photos For Your Creative Business: Pick a day to batch these must-have photos and then you’ll have lots to choose from for your blog and social media platforms.

71. Four Ways to Organize Your Blog Images Fast: Do you have to wade through hundreds of pictures to find the right ones for your blog and social media? Get organized with this post.

72. DIY Photo Light Box: If you don’t have great sources of natural light or need to take your product photos in the evening, you might want to make a light box.

73. My Favorite Photo Props and Top 10 Places to Buy Them: If you’re looking to build a ‘prop library’ for your product and social media photos, you’ll get lots of ideas in this post.

74. Ten Holiday Photos To Take For Your Business: If you’re a product-based business, the holidays are probably one of your busiest seasons. Prepare early by taking these must-have holiday photos.

75. Death to the Stock Photo: A great place to get FREE stock photography if you’re in a pinch.

Creative Marketing Ideas

76. 21 Creative Marketing Ideas to Promote Your Business: If you’re in a marketing rut, check out this post for creative ways to promote your creative business.

77. How to Self-Promote Without Feeling Pucky or Being Annoying (20 Ideas Up For Grabs): Mayi Carles shares 20 marketing ideas that actually feel good!

78. 5 Tips for Landing Your First Speaking Engagement: Speaking is a great way to get your name in front of large groups of people. This post will help you land your first gig.

79. 12 Tips to Bring The House Down at Your Next Speaking Engagement: Once you land your first (or next) speaking engagement, you want to make the most of that opportunity.

80. How to Achieve Expert Status by Getting Published on a Major Website: If you’ve been wondering how you can get BIG websites to feature or publish your work, read this post.

81. How to Use Bonuses to Turn More People Into Customers: I’m a huge fan of bonuses. This post will show you how to use them to make more money.

82. Why Before and After Pictures Convert So Well: Have a business that before and after pictures can work for? This is why you should be using them.

83. How to Increase Sales by 300% with a Persuasive Guarantee: Along with 39 scripts that you can copy today.

Customer Service

84. How to Turn Down a Customer or Client Politely: Worried that if you say no to a customer that she’ll be gone forever or talk bad about you? Read this post to make sure that doesn’t happen.

85. 5 Tips for Improving Client Communication: The better your customer service, the more likely you’ll get referrals.

86. What You Can Learn From My Poor Customer Service Experiences: You don’t want to repeat these customer service mistakes.

87. Why You Should Go the Extra Mile For Your Clients: You want to make your clients feel like VIPs.

SEO

88. 7 Steps to Optimize Images on Your Website: If you’re not considering your images apart of your SEO plan, you need to start now.

89. What Is a Meta-Description and How to Write One: This post goes through some SEO basics that everyone should know.

90. What Is a Title Tag and How to Write One: Another must-read on SEO.

91. How to Use and Research Keywords: Keywords are the basis of SEO.

92. Basic Etsy SEO: Danielle from The Merriweather Council knows her stuff when it comes to Etsy. Want to get found selling on Etsy? Read this.

93. 3 Etsy SEO Myths: If you’re selling on Etsy, you need to check this out.

94. Why I Don’t Care About SEO: Should you really put time and effort into SEO? Find out here.

Pricing

95. How Your Prices Affect Your Business More Than You Think: You may not realize it, but pricing is a HUGE part of marketing. Make sure you’re doing it right.

96. Why You Can’t Charge What Your Products Are Worth: If you know that your products are worth much more than you’re currently charging but you feel like you can’t raise your prices, you need to read this today.

97. Your Guide to Pricing Information Products with Moxie and Confidence: Information products are one of the hardest types of products to price because you don’t have a base cost (of time and materials), but this video will make it easier.

98. Do Lower Prices Lead to More Sales?: If you’re thinking about lowering your prices to increase your sales, read this first.

Marketing Mistakes

99. 10 Reasons Your Marketing Efforts Aren’t Working: If you want to drown in a gallon of mint chocolate chip because your marketing efforts aren’t paying off, this post if for you.

100. The 10 Marketing Mistakes You Need to Stop Making Immediately: Learn how to stop doing the things that are turning off your target market.

101. Stop Wasting Your Marketing Budget on This: If you’re spending most of your marketing budget on this, you’re making a big mistake.

Have a resource to add to the list? Link to it in the comments below!

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Running a Business with Chronic Illness

Running a Business with Chronic Illness

If you’ve been following me for a while, you probably know that I suffer from chronic illness.

I’ve seen specialists at UVA, Johns Hopkins and Wake Forest and we’re still trying to figure out exactly what’s going on.

What we currently know is that my immune system suuuuuucks. If I get anywhere close to anyone who’s sick, I’ll get whatever they have times ten. A cold turns into pneumonia. The flu turns into a hospital visit. Biopsies of my throat literally turns into the inability to swallow due to my esophagus having spasms and closing every time I try to sip water.

I recently got a pneumonia vaccine to see how my body would respond. That was a big mistake. My arm swelled up, looking like a clone of my husband’s arm (he’s a foot taller and a hundred pounds bigger than me) with this huge red spot with red spider leg-like lines sprouting in every direction. It hurt so bad I couldn’t lift my arm past shoulder level for days. One doctor said it was a severe allergic reaction. Another said it was an infection. Antibiotics plus Benadryl plus cold compresses finally did the trick.

Most mornings when I wake up, I feel like I’ve got the flu. Some days that includes severe sore throats, others it entails constant nausea and others I’ll have fevers and chills on and off all day.

(The good news is that I finally have a treatment plan—as of March 15th of this year! YAY! If it works, I should be feeling a lot better by the end of the year.)

I’m not looking for sympathy. This post isn’t about my illness.

This is a post for those of you who are like me, suffering from chronic illness and running a business. I know there are lots of you out there, because I’ve gotten at least twenty requests asking if I’d write a blog post about how I manage being an entrepreneur while dealing with chronic illness.

First, I want to be clear: it’s not easy.

There are days when aching pain radiating through my joints and muscles reduces me to tears and the last thing I want to do is respond to emails or write a blog post or update my Facebook page.

There are times when a three-minute shower exhausts me, causing me to have to lay in bed for hours just to recover a bit of energy.

But, the best thing about running a business with a chronic illness is that I’m in charge.

I can work from home in yoga pants. I don’t answer to a boss who’s frustrated that I’m taking another sick day. And, I can take breaks every 30 minutes to recharge with some herbal tea (Tea Pigs sweet treat tea…yum!) and a book.

Because I’m going on year six of chronic illness, I’ve learned a few things that makes it easier to run a business while dealing with health issues, and I want to share them with you in case it helps you make managing your chronic illness and business easier.

I’ve had those days when it feels like everything in the world is working against you and you don’t know how you’re going to make it. I’m hoping this post will help you take a bit of that load off your shoulders.

Let’s dig in, shall we?

1. Take advantage of your good days.

Chronic illness comes with good and bad days. Some days the most you can do is roll over in bed and sip water (I suggest Gilmore Girls and Friends on Netflix for those days). But, some days you have a boost of energy and feel halfway normal.

When I’m having a really good day, I often want to do the stuff I enjoy most: watercolor, hang out with friends, have a date with my husband, walk my dogs. But, I always prioritize my work on good days.

That means I sometimes write my next blog post instead of going to game night (why can’t I ever win Scattergories?!?). Or, I work on my marketing campaign instead of spending a couple hours lost with my watercolors.

I don’t always work when I’m having a good day, but I try to get in at least a few hours on those days, because I don’t know when my next sick streak is going to hit. The next day I could wake up feeling like death and struggle to work for the next five days and then I’d regret not working when I could.

If it’s a good day and I get a lot of work done, I try to clear the evening for something like veggie sushi with friends or a date with my husband. It’s a balance.

2. Rest when you need it to get more done eventually.

In the first couple of years of dealing with my health issues, I used to push myself when I should’ve rested. And, that always resulted in me having to take more time off.

If I had given myself permission to take a nap that afternoon or take that day off to rest, I’d probably feel good enough to work the next day. But, if I pushed myself, it might end up with me having to spend the next three days in bed.

It always backfired. Thankfully, I had a husband to point this out to me and encourage me to rest when needed. He still has to step in every once in a while and tell me to slow down. (Love you hubby!)

We have to listen to our bodies and pay attention when they’re telling us to get back in bed.

3. Build up your support system.

I don’t just mean friends and family. When you suffer from chronic illness, you have less time to work on your business. That means you should probably hire out tasks that you don’t enjoy doing or aren’t that great at so that you can focus on the stuff in your realm of genius when you’re working.

If you spend the next week in a battle with WordPress because you’re struggling to build your website, that means that you didn’t spend that time on anything else (like taking new product photos or designing a new jewelry line).

I know it’s scary to hire out work, but it’s necessary when you’re limited by the amount of good hours you have in the day or week.

You know how they say it takes a village to raise a baby? I feel the same way about building a business, especially if you have serious health issues.

Start making a list today of the tasks you’d like to stop doing. Can you get one or two off of your list and onto someone else’s? Small shifts will make a big difference in how you spend your ‘business’ time.

4. Reduce your stress whenever possible.

Hiring out that web design mentioned above is not only a good idea for time management but it’ll also reduce your stress.

If you’re one of the unlucky who suffers from chronic illness, you’ve probably already figured out that stress usually makes your symptoms substantially worse. It takes your headache to migraine level or turns your minor cold into a two-month cough.

That’s why I hire out accounting, web design and tasks to my virtual assistant.

I know I’m not going to get rid of it all, but the less business-related stress, the better for my health.

5. Find workarounds.

One of the best things I’ve done for myself is to figure out what I can handle when I’m not feeling well and what I can’t and how to work around it.

For instance, if I’m having a semi-bad day, I can probably get an hour or two of blogging done if I’m snuggled in my pajamas with a cup of throat coat tea. But, I don’t have it in me to do my hair and makeup and chat on Periscope for 30 minutes (even though it’s one of my favorite things to do).

Or, I can brainstorm ideas in bed for my next online course, outlining it and jotting down notes on marketing concepts. But, I’m not going to push myself to start filming it or writing copy for it.

I know that I can’t book too many ‘time-sensitive’ things in one month. I sold out all of my individual consulting spots in less than three hours and I got requests from multiple people asking me to open up one more spot for them. I couldn’t do it. I know my limits and I need to be completely focused for the women who already registered to work with me. It wouldn’t be fair to them or good for me to add more clients.

You have to figure out what you can still work on when you’re not feeling as great and what should wait for a good day.

6. Remain positive.

This might sound silly but when I know I have something important to do but I’m not feeling very good, I can sometimes “trick” myself by remaining positive. I’ll tell myself, “You’re having a good day” or “Today’s going to be a good day” or “You can do this.”

Just keeping my mind from going to the dark places can give me the boost I need to accomplish that one thing that I really need to get done that day.

For instance, I got really sick the first time I taught at CreativeLive, but I woke up those days and told myself that I was going to have a great day. It didn’t make my symptoms go away, but it helped me to work through it.

7. Don’t rely solely on doctors.

Over the past few years, I’ve become a master at knowing what my body needs. I’ve also decided that I can’t just rely on my doctors to come up with answers.

I know I have less nausea when I take a daily probiotic. I know that I suffer from less fevers when I drink at least 32 ounces of water in a day. I know that an extra hour of sleep will allow me to do a few extra hours of work. I know that getting ready for the day, spending a bit of time on hair and makeup gives me a boost of energy. I know that pushing myself to do five or ten minutes of yoga results in more energy and happiness.

One of the best pieces of advice I could give to anyone who’s struggling with chronic illness is to take ownership of your health. Pay attention to what makes you feel better and what makes you feel worse. Learn how to give yourself more good days.

No matter what you take away from this blog post, I want you to know that if you’re running a business while managing an illness, YOU ARE AWESOME! It’s not easy but it’s worthwhile.

I hope this helps those of you who have to deal with chronic illness. If you have other tips or advice, please leave them in the comments below. We should all try to help each other!

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10 Reasons Your Marketing Efforts Aren’t Working

10 Reasons Your Marketing Efforts Aren't Working

Have you given up creating, brunching with your friends and date night with your man to spend all your time on marketing only to still have less than eight people subscribed to your email list (and two of those people are your mom and a friend who feels sorry for you)?

Maybe you want to smash your keyboard into itty-bitty pieces after spending two weeks learning how to market your business on Pinterest and testing what you learned to only get seven new followers and no sales?

Maybe you spent more than 10 hours writing your latest blog post and no one commented or shared it?

We’ve all had moments where we want to drown in a tub of mint chocolate chip because the hours we put in didn’t pay off.

If you’re having a lot of these moments, it might not be the actual marketing tactics that aren’t working. Marketing strategies don’t work when the basics aren’t there.

Here are 10 reasons your marketing efforts might not be working:

1. Your website is a mess.

Often when you spend time on marketing, you’re trying to get more people to your website, right? You want them to browse your online shop or sign up for your email list or read your latest blog post about your new product line.

You’ve got seconds to make a good first impression. If someone clicks a link from Facebook and they land on your website which looks like it was designed back in the 90’s, they’re going to skedaddle. It doesn’t matter how great your blog post is, because they won’t even begin reading it.

And, let’s say that by some miracle you get people to stick around and check out your products. They’re not going to trust your cluttered website enough to actually buy something. That would mean giving you their credit card information. Ain’t nobody got time to get scammed.

If your website needs an overhaul you’ve got two choices: 1) learn how to do it yourself or 2) hire a professional. Remember that this is your online home, so this is important.

If you’re going to do it yourself, you should at least learn how to do it right. I recommend Amanda Creek’s course: WordPress Made Easy. She walks you through how to set up your own site in less than three hours.

2. Your products photos are too blurry, small, dark, yellow, blue or anything else other than AMAZING.

If you’re a product-based business selling online, you’ve got to have professional product photos. That means you have to learn how to take high-quality photos or you need to hire a photographer to take them for you.

No matter how much time you spend on marketing, if your product photos don’t make your ideal customer feel like she has to have your product, you’re going to struggle for every single sale.

This is where you should focus all of your marketing time until you’re proud of your photos.

3. Your copy lacks oomph.

To connect to your ideal customer, you’ve got be YOU. I know that sounds like a cheesy afternoon special (which I totally dug in middle school and yes I was a geek), but if your product descriptions sound like everything else out there and if your blog posts read like anyone could’ve written them, you’re going to struggle to sell your products and grow your following.

You’ve got to move away from what you learned in school and leap towards how you really talk. Personality sells.

And, if you’re not editing every single word and sentence and paragraph, you need to start. Every piece of writing in your business gives you the chance to connect to the person reading it (hey there, beauty!). Are you taking advantage of those opportunities?

4. You don’t have a clear plan.

In my CreativeLive bootcamp, Double Your Followers with Creative Marketing, I talk about the importance of having a clear marketing plan.

If you’re just publishing blog posts, updating Facebook, posting on Instagram and pinning on Pinterest because you think you’re supposed to without any clear rhyme or reason, you’re going to land in frustration nation fast.

You need a plan that includes goals and how you’re going to accomplish those goals. If you need help with this, you should check out my course because I walk you through every part of marketing your creative business in it. Through that course, you’ll figure out how you should spend your marketing time and even more importantly, how to promote your business effectively.

5. You’re the only one talking about your brand.

What do you trust more? An ad for a new moisturizer or your best friend raving about how this moisturizer got rid of her acne and made her skin glow like when she was pregnant minus puking around the clock and oh yeah, growing a human?

You trust your friend more, right? The ad doesn’t necessarily make you want to drive to Sephora and pick it up but when your friend can’t stop talking about it, you get online and order it immediately.

What do you think your potential customers trust more? When you say your products are amazing or when other people say they’re amazing?

If you’re the only one talking about your brand and products, it’s going to take you forever to reach your sales goals. If happy customers and other creatives are helping you spread the word, marketing is going to feel so much easier.

6. You don’t have a way to keep in contact with potential customers.

If you’re new to business, you might not realize how important it is to have an email newsletter. Let me tell you: IT’S. THE. MOST. IMPORTANT. THING. EVER.

People often don’t buy on the first touch—the first time they see a product. Think about your buying habits. You see a pair of earrings that you really like. You probably don’t buy them right away. You think about it, you go back to the page a few days later and reread the description and any reviews, you think about it some more, you read some more reviews and then you finally buy.

What happens waaaaaay too often? You find something that you’re going to “come back to later” and you completely forget how to get back to it when you think about it a few days later.

If you’re not collecting email addresses, you’re losing a lot of potential business. If you get people signed up for your emails and you email your list once a week, you stay on their minds regularly.

7. You aren’t putting in enough effort.

I hear lots of complaints: No one reads my blog. No one likes my Facebook posts. I don’t get any new follows on Instagram. My email list only has 10 subscribers.

Not always, but very often, when an entrepreneur says something like that it’s their own fault.

No one reads her blog posts because she only spend 20 minutes on them, not caring enough to even edit them before publishing.

No one likes her Facebook posts—not because Facebook is an evil demon that only shows posts when people pay—but because she only posts when she adds a new product to her Etsy shop.

No one follows her on Instagram because her photos aren’t pretty. The latest post is a semi-disgusting photo of her mushy oatmeal.

You get the picture. If you don’t put in time and energy into your marketing efforts, they’re not going to get you far. If you’re complaining that something isn’t working for you, be really honest with yourself. Are you really putting in your best work?

8. You aren’t being social or helping others.

If you want other people to help you succeed in business, you’ve got to give as well. If you see a blog post that you think your followers would enjoy, post about it on Facebook.

If someone leaves you a thoughtful comment, respond. If someone asks you a question on Twitter, answer her.

We’re all busy and we all miss things every once in a while (I’m not perfect by any means) but if you make an effort to be social on social media, instead of only using it to promote your business, you’ll see that when you do promote your business people pay more attention.

9. You lack confidence.

If you lack confidence, it’s probably evident throughout your business. Your copy probably reflects your insecurity, and you might not be making the best decisions for your business. If you don’t have confidence in what you’re selling, you’re going to have a really hard time selling it.

Do what it takes to increase your confidence. Take a course to improve your craft. Spend the first hour of every day practicing your craft. Spend the next two weeks improving that ebook you sell—adding more content, redoing the photos and editing it again. Take whatever steps will make you feel good about yourself and your business.

10. Your prices say the wrong thing about your products.

Lots of creative entrepreneurs price their products lower than they should because they think that’ll help them sell more in the beginning. Often, that just makes your potential customers question the quality.

If your prices scream “cheap!” then you might be giving off the wrong impression.

What do your prices say about your products?

There are other reasons that your marketing efforts might not be working, but these are the big ones I see impacting creative entrepreneurs regularly.

If you’re struggling, be honest with yourself. Could one of these areas be the reason that your marketing efforts leave you feeling frustrated?

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