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Your Dream Life and Business Workbook

A muddy vision equals ineffective marketing results.

If you’ve ever spent hours upon hours super glued to your laptop promoting your business only to feel like you could’ve spent that time perfecting a messy fishtail braid for all the good it did, something isn’t working.

Often that something is a lack of strategy and planning. A lack of vision of what you want your business to become when it grows up.

Before I can help you create a strategic marketing plan in my upcoming CreativeLive course, Double Your Followers with Creative Marketing, that will bring in hundreds of new followers and customers, you’ve got to have a clear vision of what the dream looks like.

Is the dream sipping a cappuccino dusted with cinnamon at your local coffee shop while you plan and write each day?

Is it running a virtual team of five while traveling Europe with your all of possessions in two suitcases?

Is it spending fifty hours a week in paint-covered overalls creating custom art?

Free Workbook

In my course, I’m going to teach you how to double your online followers—your blog readers, your email subscribers, your social media followers. But, that’s not going to put money in the bank if you don’t know what to do with those followers once you’ve captured their attention.

I receive at least one email a week that goes something like:

“I only have xyz amount of time to work on marketing. What should I spend it on?”

Unfortunately, I can’t answer this question because I don’t know their vision.

Double Your Followers Workbook

I can explain this best by giving you some examples of possible business and life goals:

Goal #1: To build a web design business with 10-15 employees in which I teach them how to create our style of websites for our customers. To make seven figures each year to support myself and my employees.

Goal #2: To build a jewelry business with one assistant who can help me with administrative tasks so that I can spend most of my time on creating the jewelry. To make $7,400/month to support my business, lifestyle, pay my assistant, pay for insurance and put away some money into savings. To stop doing craft shows and figure out other places to sell my work.

Goal #3: To build a business teaching online courses and speaking at live events. To make $9,250/month to pay my minimal business bills and support my love of traveling. To never stay in one place more than a few months and travel based on speaking engagements.

Each of these entrepreneurs is going to spend their marketing time differently.

Each of their promotional strategies will include similar things like blogging, emailing their lists, updating their social media accounts, but even the details of those tasks will look different for each of them.

While the entrepreneur creating a business based on teaching online courses might use webinars to market her business and grow her following, that doesn’t make as much sense for the jewelry designer.

And, the jewelry designer might spend a good chunk of her marketing time on contacting shops she wants to get her jewelry in, which wouldn’t work for the web designer or speaker.

RSVP Bonus Workbook

The stronger your vision for your business, the easier it’ll be to construct a marketing plan that’ll work for your brand.

That’s why I’ve put together this bonus workbook specifically for Double Your Followers with Creative Marketing.

(To access it, RSVP for my course. Then, scroll down to the bottom of the page where the downloads are and click on “Your Dream Life & Business Workbook.”)

It’s a workbook to guide you through thinking about what you want your business and life to look like, how you want to spend your workdays and what you want to use the course to work towards.

As you’ll soon see, this workbook isn’t just about answering questions. Through working with hundreds of creatives, I’ve found that they do their best work when engaging their right “creative” brains.

That’s why some worksheets encourage you to draw or doodle.

If you don’t enjoy drawing, that’s okay. Use them ANY way that works best for you. Make lists, write with different colored markers or pencils, decorate the pages with washi tape.

Do whatever you need to do to start thinking creatively.

CreativeLive Workbook

You should do this work before the course begins or within the first week of the course to get the most out of it. I’ll be referring to this workbook often, giving you ways to apply your marketing to your specific dreams and goals.

All you have to do to access the workbook is RSVP right here for my upcoming course. Then, scroll to the bottom of the page where the downloads are and click on “Your Dream Life & Business Workbook.”

Print the workbook, hunker down in your favorite comfy chair with some crafty supplies and start to uncover your dream life.

Once you’ve filled out your workbook, share some pics on social media with the hashtag #bellelive so that I can check it out.

I’d love to hear more about what your dream life and business looks like in the comments below. Share one thing that would be a dream (example: making ‘x’ amount of money each month, getting featured in ‘x’ magazine, taking a break three days a week for a hot yoga class).

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Why I Want to Kick Marketing Gurus in the Shins

Why I Want to Kick Marketing Gurus in the Shins

Have you ever shrieked (out loud) when you’ve read or heard someone giving potentially business-destroying advice?

Maybe you imagine kicking that person in the shin until they take it back?

No? Just me?

I’ve had a bunch of those “Noooooooooooooo…don’t tell people that” moments lately.

The more I tune into Periscope and online courses and the more I read other peoples’ blog posts, the more crazy bad business advice I see and hear.

A marketing “guru” saying that if you know your target market and their language, writing a sales email should take about 15 minutes. (Yeah…if you want to wind up scarfing mint chocolate chip ice cream by the gallon due to your failed launch, go ahead.)

A social media “expert” saying that you don’t need to blog (or have your own website) if you’re on social media. (MySpace. That’s all I’m gonna say about that.)

A well-known creative entrepreneur saying that if you only have 20 minutes to write a blog post, write and publish your next blog post in the next 20 minutes. (If you want to train your blog readers to stop paying attention to your blog posts, sure, publish crap.)

Sometimes, I read a blog post and my first thought is, “Whaaaaaat? That’s terrible advice.” And, then I realize that it’s not bad advice but it’s just not something that works for my business.

That’s different.

We need to be able to filter out advice that just won’t work for us. Having lots of treasure maps that lead to the same destination makes this world a wonderful place.

But, it can be really hard to tell that an “expert” is giving you bad advice, especially when they say it works for them.

(Side note: I’m using an awful lot of sarcastic quote marks in this blog post, but it’s either that or gag while typing out some of these words like “guru.”)

The magical thing about the internet is also the downfall: anyone can say anything.

Someone who is one week from closing their virtual business doors can tell you that they’re making six figures and that you only need to spend 20 minutes writing your blog posts.

And, you believe them and wonder what the heck is wrong with you when it takes you three hours to outline, write, edit, take pictures for and publish a blog post.

Or, worse…you start publishing blog posts after working on them for only 20 minutes. (Yep…that made bile rise in my throat.)

Part of the problem is that some people shouldn’t teach what they’re teaching.

If you don’t have any comments on your last five blog posts, you probably shouldn’t give blogging advice. (Can I get a #sorrynotsorry cause GAH?)

What happened to saying, “you should probably go to so-and-so for that?”

What happened to admitting that we’re not experts at everything?!?!

What happened to saying, “I don’t know,” when asked a question that you can’t answer instead of stammering over an answer that’s going to hurt someone else if they follow your advice.

I don’t know and I’m not sure are powerful tools when teaching. No one expects you to have all the answers. You’re not Hermione Granger. (Unless you are…and in that case, will you be my friend pa-lease?)

About a week ago, someone asked me for help with her Etsy shop on Periscope.

My reply went a little something like:

Oh man, I wish I could be more helpful but I haven’t sold on Etsy in years. And, to succeed on Etsy, you really need to learn about what works well on Etsy, so you should go to Danielle from The Merriweather Council. She’s amazing at selling on Etsy and I believe she has one-on-one consultations.

I’m not about to give someone advice on something I know very little about.

When I see people doing this, it creeps me out worse than the time I was lying in bed with my husband and a slug dropped onto the bed from the ceiling. (True story.)

The worst part is that sometimes these people seem credible at first glance.

If you want to teach online or at conferences, cover topics that you feel really comfortable with and refer people to someone else for the rest.

And, teach to people who are a few (or many) steps below you.

You have to be careful who you’re listening to, who you’re learning from.

This is your business, your livelihood. The thing that determines whether you spend your life counting down the minutes until five o’clock when you can drink a bottle (or two) of sauvignon blanc or spend every day immersed in your creative work.

Publishing a book doesn’t make someone an expert. Having a website doesn’t make someone an expert. Making six figures doesn’t make someone an expert.

There are entrepreneurs who pretty much scammed people out of money and aren’t in business anymore, but while they were in business, their claim to fame was making six figures. #notimpressed

I love you guys. Virtual hugs all around!

I don’t want you to make business decisions based on crummy, unfounded advice.

Fakers gonna fake fake fake fake fake

Here’s how you can protect yourself:

1. Stay away from people who give you the heebie-jeebies.

When something seems off, our bodies produce cortisol which makes you feel more uneasy. Pay attention when the hairs on your neck prick up. Don’t brush off those ‘something ain’t right’ feelings.

Example: My neck hairs start their uh-oh pings every time I come across sales pages with flashing buttons and too-good-to-be-true claims.

I always encourage my B-Belle family to learn from other people for a myriad of reasons including: 1) hearing something in a different way can click on your light bulb, making it easier for you to apply a concept to your business 2) it never hurts to hear something more than once 3) my way for doing something might not work for you but someone else’s might be exactly what you need.

I believe you shouldn’t put all your business eggs in my basket. Learn from others, but make sure they deserve your trust.

2. Check out what others are saying.

Look at what people are saying about that “expert” on Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram. You might not see very many negative comments but, if no one is raving about that person, there’s something wrong.

People who rock at what they do have raving, loyal followers.

Read reviews before purchasing a course. Are most of them positive? Let’s be real. There’s probably always going to be one or two unhappy customers who live in their mom’s basement eating hot pockets all day but you want to pay attention to the majority.

3. Pay attention to highlighter yellow flags.

When an “expert” gives advice that goes against what most others say, it might seem sexy and exciting. But, there’s a reason that most successful people disagree.

I’m not saying that unique ideas are bad but going against business advice that actually works could cost you thousands or millions of dollars.

4. Stick with people who care.

It’s pretty obvious when someone cares about YOU as opposed to your Kate Spade wallet. It’s never about what they say. It’s all about what they do.

5. Ask questions.

This is one of the best ways to hip check the phonies.

When you hop on her Periscope or tune into her webinar, ask a couple of questions about the topic. Ask her to expand on something.

Often the fakers rehearse and regurgitate what the real experts say, but they often stumble over hard-hitting questions.

If someone is teaching a course on blogging and she doesn’t have comments on her posts, ask her about it in a classy way. For instance, you might say, “Are comments important? How do you get readers to engage in the comments on your blog posts?”

If she can’t give a good answer, move on to someone else.

Let me be clear: I’m not saying you should go after these people with pitchforks. Just leave once you realize she’s not the right fit.

6. Once you find one trustworthy teacher, check out her recommendations.

Any good teacher will point you towards many others.

You still need to do your own research, but it’s a great place to start.

With that said, here are five other awesome ladies I think you should check out for help improving your business:

  1. Kris Windley
  2. Nikki Elledge Brown
  3. Amy Porterfield
  4. Mariah Coz
  5. Ashley Ambirge

7. Try out a bit of their advice before jumping in headfirst.

Before taking all of someone’s advice, test drive one of her tips. See how it goes for your business. Maybe try one or two more little things. Does it work for you? Or, does it backfire like a 1950’s Chevrolet.

If you can tell that person’s advice works, take off your floaties and dive into the deep end with her. Buy her course. Follow her path. But, keep in mind, that even for people who you trust, there are going to be things she teaches or does that won’t work for your business.

We’re all different and following someone else’s blueprint from a to z isn’t going to get you to the pot of gold. Instead, if something doesn’t resonate, check out someone else’s perspective on that topic.

Do you have any tips on figuring out who’s the real deal and who’s faker than Britney Spears singing acapella? Leave them in the comments below.

And, if you’ve learned from someone you really trust, tell us who that person was in the comments below. I’m all about spreading the wealth (and lifelong learning myself!).

If you haven’t RSVP’d for my upcoming CreativeLive course, pause and click that RSVP button right here. In the next couple of weeks, you’ll get access to a bonus workbook that will get you ready for the course. All you have to do is RSVP to get access.

If you’ve got a second, please CLICK HERE TO TWEET (and help me spread the word): If your marketing to-do list makes you wonder if a shot of tequila at 10am is a bad thing, RSVP for this course.

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Behind the Scenes: Preparation for CreativeLive

Behind the Scenes of CreativeLive Preparation

Check all that apply:

  • The word marketing induces your gag reflex.
  • You’re terrified of sounding sales-y or, even worse, like you have the personality of a dead blowfish.
  • When you glance at your marketing to-do list of blogging, posting on Instagram and Facebook, emailing your list and updating your product photos, you wonder if a shot of tequila at 10am is really such a terrible thing.
  • You believe there must be an evil monster working against you when you sit down to type up your sales pages because your mind goes blank, as if you have no original thoughts.
  • You wish a fairy godmother could tell you what marketing efforts will finally result in money in your PayPal account (so you can pay your light bill this month).
  • You love your creative work but sometimes it feels like you’d be better off flipping burgers at McDonald’s.

If you checked any or all of the above, I’m ready to help (and provide the tequila shots, if necessary).

At the end of September, my five-week CreativeLive boot camp, Double Your Followers with Creative Marketing begins. Insert happy dance here!

If you join me, you’ll have a doable, effective marketing plan that’ll help you double your online followers (blog readers, email subscribers, social media followers) in a matter of weeks.

And, the part that should make you wanna do seventeen somersaults is that you can watch the entire thing for FREE. All you have to do is RSVP right here.

I’ve been super glued to my computer, working on this course for months now, so I thought it’d be fun to share some behind-the-scenes secrets with you.

The Promo Video

My content producer and a videographer flew to Blacksburg (where I live) to shoot the promo video in June.

The month leading up to that, I completed eighty million house projects (well, it felt like eighty million), including putting up the gallery wall I’d been dreaming about for two years.

You’ll see that gallery wall in the video. Does it give you butterflies, too? It’s my favorite part of our house. It’s what I look at all day while I’m working in my office.

The Watercolors

My love for watercolor keeps growing and growing. Every day I get to spend time playing with watercolor is a magical, I-feel-like-a-kid-again type of day.

When I said HECK YES to teaching a CreativeLive boot camp, I knew that I’d include as many watercolors as possible. If you tune into the course, you’ll see watercolors on the slides and in the workbook.

I spent three full days on the one below! (If you’re interested in hearing more about my process of creating something like this, let me know in the comments below. I’d love to share more with you if it’s something you’re interested in.)

Video Essentials Print

This print (and many others) will be included in the workbook which you’ll get for FREE just by RSVPing for the course. No purchase necessary, my friend.

The Color Palette

Every time I teach a CreativeLive course, I spend a few days compiling a color palette for the slides and workbook because I want them to be extra pretty.

I use this color palette for any illustrations I create in Illustrator, for the text colors on the slides, for the workbook colors and more.

What’s your favorite color in this palette? (Mine changes daily but today it’s winter sky.)

Color Palette for CreativeLive

Topics I’ll Cover

Thank goodness this course is a boot camp, because I’ve got lots of topics I want to cover. By the end of the course, you’ll know everything you really need to know about marketing your creative business.

You’ll be able to create a marketing plan that leads to money in the bank, talk about your business with confidence, and enjoy marketing. I bet you’ll even look forward to it cause that’s what happens when you understand marketing and see the positive impact it can have on your business.

Here are the topics I’ll be covering:

  • Why your customers should choose you and your brand
  • What you really need to know about your target market
  • Writing an ideal customer profile that you’ll actually use
  • How to make marketing fun so you spend time on it
  • The psychology of marketing (a.k.a., what works and what doesn’t)
  • Compiling brand information and making a great first impression
  • Pricing your products and services
  • Branding with visuals
  • Taking swoon-worthy product photos
  • The power of video: getting started and beyond
  • Writing headlines that get your followers to click and share
  • Transforming ho-hum writing into content worth reading
  • The transcription and one-person methods
  • Persuade, connect and sell with story
  • Writing sales pages that actually sell
  • The basics of email marketing
  • Designing your email freebie and writing your intro email
  • Tracking your subscribers and readers behavior
  • Email segmentation and the practice of using autorepsonders
  • Doubling your blog readership
  • Choosing the right social media platforms
  • Growing your Instagram, Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, and Periscope following
  • Your marketing plan put together

If you need help with any of the above, RSVP right here so that you don’t miss out.

Special Guests

If you follow me on Persicope, you probably already know that Kris Windley is joining me for a segment to teach the writing process and how to combine the logical and creative parts of writing. She’s brilliant and I can’t wait for her to share that brilliance with you.

And, because product photos are critical to your marketing success, Candice Stringham is going to teach you how to take swoon-worthy product photos once and for all. Can I get a ‘oh YES pa-lease’?

Bonuses

Because the majority of the course will be pre-recorded (which means you can’t ask me questions during it), I’m hosting a live call at the end of each week where I’ll answer any and all questions you’ve got. (To join the live calls, make sure you RSVP for the course and you’ll get a PDF download with all the live call links. These live calls are also all free. All you have to do is RSVP.)

Plus, I plan on jumping on Periscope most days to chat about that day’s topic and answer your questions. (Another reason you should join Periscope NOW.)

There are definitely more bonuses but a girls got to keep some secrets. You’ll have to join me to find out what they are in September.

Heads Up

If you want to join me live in the studio audience, apply ASAP. The spots are filling up fast and I want you to have a chance if you want to come hang out with us and have the BEST time EVER.

It’s free to be in the studio audience. (I know I keep using the word ‘free’ in this blog post, but I think it’s pretty darn cool how much of this stuff is free.)

If you have any questions about being in the studio audience, email me at blacksburgbelle@gmail.com and I’ll get back to you as soon as I can.

That’s it for now. I need to get back to my watercolors…

I hope you enjoyed the peek behind the velvet curtains of what’s going on here at the Blacksburg Belle headquarters.

Don’t forget to RSVP to get access to all the free bonuses.

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5 Steps to Getting Started on Periscope

5 Steps to Get Started on Periscope

I joined the good times on Periscope about a month ago (whoopee!), so I’m not an expert by any means. But, if you’re new to the social media platform, I’d love to help you get started.

(If you’re wondering what Periscope is and why you should join, read this blog post and then come on back and I’ll give you some tips for your first scope.)

Playing and connecting with other creatives on Periscope has quickly become my favorite daily to-do. (Follow me @blacksburgbelle so we can hang.)

If you’re kinda freaking out about doing your first scope or want some tips to get going, I’m happy to give you a slight shove towards making your first move:

1. Take two or three days to get acquainted with the platform.

If you’re brand new to Periscope, give yourself a bit of time to check out the platform before your first scope, but not enough that you travel to procrastination station.

I spent two days watching other scopes so that I could see how people were using the platform. I started commenting and giving hearts, following people that I wanted to connect with and learn from.

Over the course of a couple days, watch 15-20 scopes to get a feel for things.

2. Plan your first topic and practice a bit.

If you’re nervous or haven’t done a lot of speaking or live streaming video, practice what you’re going to talk about. And, pick a topic that you’re passionate about—that you can talk about easily.

Even though I have plenty of experience speaking, I practiced before my first five scopes. When I hit the broadcast button, I felt more comfortable because I’d gone over what I planned on saying.

If you’re covering more than one or two points, jot down notes. I do this for almost every scope, because it’s easy to forget what you want to say when people are asking questions and commenting.

This also helps to avoid rambling. If you ramble on and on, people are going to lose interest.

I get annoyed when I feel like someone is wasting my time because they aren’t prepared or they spend five or ten minutes rambling before actually getting into the topic they’re scoping about.

3. Prepare for your first scope.

Check your lighting before you begin by opening up your camera on your phone and switching it to video. The lighting will look very similar when you scope.

When you start your scope, that’s it. You’re live immediately, so it helps to check this before you start. Move around until you’ve got good lighting.

Select the little Twitter birdie button before you hit ‘start broadcast’, so that it sends out a tweet to your followers that you’re live.

If you’re nervous about creepers saying inappropriate things during your scope, deselect the location button before starting your broadcast. If you don’t share your location, your scope isn’t shared on the map and you’ll get a lot less trolls. I’ve only had to block one person on my scopes, because I don’t share my location when I’m scoping from home.

Before you begin, stabilize your phone or device. You can use a stack of books, a box or a tripod. Videos are always better when they aren’t jumpy.

4. Do your first scope within the first week on the platform.

After you’ve practiced and set yourself up for success, it’s time to go live. Eeeeeeeep!

Take a deep breath and do your best. Your first scope probably won’t be amazing. You’ll feel a bit awkward, maybe even tongue-tied, but it gets easier.

If no one joins you live or only one or two people join you, keep going. Talk as if you’re talking to a group of your ideal customers. You never know who will watch the replay and join you next time! That’s how you grow your following on Periscope.

5. Do another the next day.

Just get it in your mind that your first scope is gonna be kinda awkward. You’re getting used to the platform. Remember the first picture you uploaded on Instagram or the first tweet you sent? They probably weren’t masterpieces.

Periscope is just like anything else. The more you do it, the better you get. You’ll start to feel a lot more comfortable after your first 10 scopes and you’ll be really good at it by your 50th scope. Don’t let the awkwardness of your first scope hold your back from doing another.

Everyone has a semi-awkward first scope, even those of us who speak or do live streaming video for a living (raises hand slowly).

Do your second scope that same day or the next. If you let too much time go by, you’ll come up with more and more reasons to delay. Don’t do that!

When you’re new to a social media platform, you don’t have many followers which gives you room to mess up. If you wait until 100+ people are following you, you’re going to feel more pressure to be perfect.

If you’ve joined Periscope but haven’t shared your handle, make sure you do so in the comments right here so that we can all connect. (And, if you’re looking for more creatives to follow and connect with, check out the comments on that post. We’re seriously having so much together. It’s like a daily slumber party with people all over the world.)

If you’ve already done your first scope and have tips for getting started, leave them below in the comments. Let’s learn about this new platform together. It’s more fun that way, don’t you think? I’ll bring the gluten-free oatmeal raisin cookies and cashew milk!

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10 Creative Entrepreneurs You Should Follow on Periscope

Creatives to Follow on Periscope

I’m still in the very new stages of Periscope but steadily climbing towards the addictive phase.

Over the past couple weeks, I’ve spent an average of 120 minutes a day on Periscope—through creating my own scopes and watching other people’s scopes.

I’ve unearthed lots of pockets of time to hop in and see what’s going on: while I’m doing my hair and makeup, while I’m relaxing in the evening, while I’m cooking, while I’m in the passenger seat as my husband drives us somewhere, etc.

I’ve seen some weird people doing some even weirder stuff. But, I’ve also discovered some really fun, smart people to follow and connect with.

If you’re new (or semi-new) to the platform, you might be looking for legit people to follow that can help you with your business, give you some creative inspiration or just to hang out with.

If that’s the case, I’ve listed 10 creative entrepreneurs below that I truly enjoy tuning in to watch their scopes whether they’re live or replays.

Each person on this list is someone that I’ve watched at least twice (but many are people I’ve tuned into five to ten plus times) and I enjoy myself each time.

1. Mariah Coz

Mariah gives super smart advice about blogging and online business in a relaxed manner that always makes me feel less stressed. From what I can tell, she only talks about what she actually has experience with which isn’t always the case with business “coaches.”

Whenever I tune into Mariah’s scopes, I feel like I’m hanging with a close friend.

2. Nikki Elledge Brown

Nikki is known as the woman who created A Course About Copy and while she’s brilliant at copy, she’s also down-to-earth and all around business-savvy. And, Nikki’s accent is adorable.

If you’ve got kids, she talks about work and mom life balance and I know some of you wish you had someone to get advice from when it comes to balancing kids and your business. She had a six-figure launch last year so she’s the real freaking deal. (And, she gives you sneak peeks of Hawaii! Yes, please, let me live vicariously through you.)

3. Laura Husson

Laura is known for making you look good online. If you’re struggling with your website or online branding, you gotta follow Laura.

Anybody else feel like they could listen to someone with a British accent talk all day long? Laura’s that gal for me.

4. Chris Ducker

There are two dudes on this list (probably because I tend to relate more to lady bosses) and Chris made that cut. He’s super smart and entertaining. The only thing I don’t really love about Chris’ scopes are that he tends to drag out his intro—not getting into the meat of the scope until a few minutes in. During those long intros, I pray for a fast forward button.

If you don’t mind the rambling intro, you’ll learn a ton from Chris. Come on and join duckerscope.

5. Dave Shrein

I believe Dave started by helping church communicators with their marketing. But, on Periscope, he’s all about helping all types of entrepreneurs get unstuck from whatever is holding them back.

When he’s scoping, it feels as if he’s talking right to you and he’s always giving out helpful information for online businesses.

6. Alex Beadon

Alex is another girl boss I can’t get enough of on Periscope. I laugh every single time I tune into one of her scopes whether she’s shooting the shizz while putting on makeup or doling out business advice. She’s a smartie pants creative business coach (and seriously looks like Spencer from Pretty Little Liars).

Alex almost crosses the line of my woo-woo comfort zone because she talks about the law of attraction and similar topics, but that’s only a small part of her scopes.

7. Holly Gillen

Holly is your go-to video gal. If you need help with using video in your business, you should follow Holly. She empowers female entrepreneurs by helping them move from confused to confident in front of and behind the camera.

I really enjoy her calming style.

8. Olivia from Random Olive

Olivia isn’t a business consultant or coach but she definitely inspires me. She uses Periscope in a very different way: to teach and show brush lettering. How cool is that?

I feel like Olivia is a GREAT example of how any creative entrepreneur could utilize this platform. I recently watched one of her scopes and struggled to tap the screen to give her hearts because I was putting on mascara and almost poked my eye. (The mascara struggle is real.)

9. Denise Duffield-Thomas

Denise helps women release their money blocks and create first class lives. Out of everyone on this list, I’ve watched her the least but it’s mainly because I’ve only been able to catch her live once. But, the times I’ve watched her broadcasts, I’ve really enjoyed them and found them useful.

10. Amber McCue

Amber helps entrepreneurs do business better than usual. She’s the friend you wished you had to Skype with whenever you need business support. Amber is bubbly, confident and personable. Even though I don’t have kiddos, if she’s scoping about something to do with parenthood and business, I still tune in. I can’t help myself.

And, I just wanted to give you a heads up, that like any other platform, there are people pretending to be experts or gurus on a topic that they really don’t have much experience in. Don’t get sucked in by something that smells tuna-fishy.

Whenever you start following someone on Periscope, do a little research to make sure they’re not a phony bologna. You don’t want to start following someone’s advice to then find out that they don’t really have any experience with what they’re teaching and they don’t know what they’re talking about.

First clue that something isn’t right: they can’t answer your questions. If they talk about a topic but they can’t give smart, solid answers on the same topic, they might just be regurgitating advice from someone else.

Second clue that something isn’t right: they call themselves an expert but no one else does. (And, anyone who’s saying he/she’s a Periscope expert is delusional since the platform is only five months old.)

Third clue that something isn’t right: their websites are unprofessional (or their websites are non-existent).

Fourth clue that something isn’t right: they don’t have any testimonials from actual people that you can find online.

Now that we got that little disclaimer out of the way, let’s have some more fun.

Please share your favorite person to follow on Periscope (other than me because duh!) in the comments below, so that we can all check them out.

If you didn’t see last week’s blog post on why you should join Periscope, make sure you read it and add your Periscope handle in the comments. We’ve all been connecting and watching each others’ scopes.

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Get Free Group Coaching From Me (and why you should join Periscope today!)

Why You Should Join Periscope

How cool it would be if you could connect with your favorite online people in real time?

How fun (and useful) would it be if you could hang with your mentors via live streaming video and ask questions that you get direct answers to immediately?

Sounds kinda like a dream come true, right?

Well, if you’ve heard of Periscope, then you know it’s actually quite real.

If you have no idea what Periscope is, I’m happy to introduce you…

You meet Periscope. Periscope meet you.

Periscope is a new-ish social media platform for your smart phone or iPad. It’s a live streaming app created by Twitter that allows you to connect with people all over the world with video.

Basically, it’s AWESOME.

It’s like vlogging with instant comments and feedback.

I stumbled into Periscope less than a week ago.

A lovely B-Belle family member, Erin Southerland (Periscope handle: @BeautifulBegin_ ), emailed me, telling me that I should be on Periscope and that she’d like to follow me there to connect further.

My first thought was, “What de heeeeeeck is Periscope?” (said in my best Miranda Sings voice)

I’d never heard of it and usually I’m a bit hesitant about jumping on social media platforms that I’ve never heard much about cause I’ve got that hermit (introverted) side that screams, “Not another social media platform! Noooooo!”

But, the side of me that loves connecting with you won the should-I-really-join-another-social-media-site debate.

I downloaded the app with the thought that I was ‘just checking things out.

During the first couple of days, I watched Nikki Ellege Brown, Amber McCue, Alex Beadon and Laura Husson live while they were scoping. I was able to comment and chat. And, I found myself wanting to spend more and more time on Periscope.

I’ve never been an early adopter of any social media platform.

Facebook was a thing for over five years before I joined. Twitter was up and running for about a year before I finally registered and sent my first tweet.

And, my friend, Mayi Carles, had to beg me to join Instagram for eight months before I finally succumbed to peer pressure.

I’m never eva eva one of the first entrepreneurs using a new form of social media.

So, I figured I’d check out Periscope and possibly start using it months down the line. I didn’t think it would quickly become part of my social media plan.

But, again, the part of me that loves connecting with you regularly won out. I didn’t make any excuses to procrastinate (which would’ve been really easy to do). Instead, I did my first scope two days after I logged into Periscope for the first time.

It was a little bit nerve-racking…live video in which anyone in the world could comment, including mean trolls. But after doing five scopes, it feels a lot more natural and I’m having a blast.

And, here are five reasons that you should join Periscope and start using it NOW (not eight months from now):

1. We can hang out daily.

I’ve been scoping every day since Sunday and going forward, my plan is to scope at least once a day, five days a week.

If you join (even if you don’t scope right away), we could hang out for 10-30 minutes each day. You can ask me questions and I’m happy to help you with any and all business struggles. It’s kinda like free group coaching. Whoop! Whoop!

If that’s not enough to get you to join, we’re no longer friends. (Just teasing. Sort of.)

2. You can be a pro by the time everyone joins.

Even though I’ve never been an early adopter of social media, I wish I had been, especially for Instagram. If I could do anything differently when it comes to social media, I would’ve joined Instagram the minute Mayi told me about it.

For one, I totally trust Mayi and should’ve listened to her. Also, I could’ve been growing my following on that platform so much sooner. And, when there are less people to compete with, it’s easier to gain followers.

You’ve the chance to start connecting with people now on Periscope and get comfortable with the platform. That way, when everyone starts to join in a few months, you’ll be one of the pros. Everyone will be looking to you for guidance and your know how.

3. You can connect with your target market in an authentic, natural way.

Here’s the thing about live streaming video: it’s raw and authentic. You feel like you’re actually seeing the person as they are—not as the edited version you get from their blogs and emails.

When your potential customers connect to YOU, they’re going to want to buy from you and support you.

This is a pretty easy (and totally FREE) way to break down the barriers between you and your customers.

4. It’s really fun.

If you enjoy watching vlogs or you get a little thrill from the behind-the-scenes stuff from your favorite online entrepreneurs, you’re going to have a lot of fun with Periscope. And, why not join something that’s going to add more fun into your day?

5. There’s not a lot of pressure to be perfect.

In the past year, Instagram has become less about sharing real life and more about sharing the perfect life and business. Your photos need to be edited and pretty and your captions need to be clever and entertaining. Everything you upload needs to be branded.

That’s okay. I kinda like Instagram that way, because I love pretty photos. They inspire me.

But, it feels nice to join a social media platform that’s new which means that there aren’t many pros, which also means there’s less pressure to be perfect.

There are a handful of people I’ve found so far that seem to have this down, but that’s five compared to the hundred of others I’ve checked out that all seem to be on a similar playing field.

Joining something when there isn’t as much pressure to be as good as all the people who’ve been using the platform for a year makes it easier to jump in and get started. Plus, it’s fun to learn how to use the site at the same time.

So, that’s my spiel on why you should join Periscope TODAY.

If you join, you can follow me by searching for April Bowles Olin or blacksburgbelle. Either will work. Make sure to follow so that you get notified when I’m going live with a broadcast, so that way we can chat about business, nail polish, and anything else you wanna talk about! See you there.

When you join, leave your handle below, so that we can all follow each other!

Comments { 83 }

Create and Sell Your Own Ecourses Part 6: Marketing and Selling Your Ecourse

Create-and-Sell-Part-6

We’re at the end of the ‘Create and Sell Your Own Ecourses’ series.

Sad face.

But we had a live Q & A call, and you can catch the recording here.

Happy face!

If you need to catch up before the live call, you can find the rest of the series here:

Part 1: Intro and Picking Your Topic

Part 2: The Tools and Software

Part 3: Step by Step Guide to Setting It Up

Part 4: Planning, Outlining and Naming Your Course

Part 5: Pricing and Your Sales Page

For the sixth (and last) part of this series we’re delving into selling and marketing your ecourse.

Marketing is a topic that needs it’s own series cause I could write an entire book on the subject. Oh wait, I already have.

Instead of going into the ins and outs of marketing, I decided to spend this part of the series giving you twenty-one marketing ideas for your ecourse. These are the main ways I market and promote my online courses.

21-Ways-to-Market-Your-Ecourse

Click-to-Download

1. Email your list.

Email is the BEST way to let your loyal followers know about any new product or service. (If you haven’t started an email list, make it the very next thing you do.)

2. Blog about it.

A really easy way to promote your ecourse is to blog about it. But, don’t just blog about the course—teach something related to your course. When you post free, high-quality information, you show your readers that you’re an expert in the topic which will make them more likely to trust you and give you their money.

3. Link to your sales page in your Instagram profile.

You know how you get one link to include in your Instagram profile? You probably use that for your website link. When you’re launching a new ecourse, you should switch out the link so that anyone who clicks on it goes to your ecourse sales page.

When you post anything about your online course on Instagram, you can include ‘link in profile’ in the picture’s caption.

4. Boost a Facbook post.

Because of the algorithms Facebook uses, your posts might get in front of 10-30% of your Facebook followers. When you’re posting about your new ecourse, you want to get that specific post in front of as many of your followers as possible. This is one of those times it’s worth it to pay $5-10 to boost your Facebook post.

Every time I boost a Facebook post related to something I’m selling, I always get at least two sales from it. It pays for itself over and over.

5. Tweet about it.

Use Twitter to spread the word about your amazing new ecourse.

6. Pin a photo on your sales page.

Pin a photo on your sales page in order to let your Pinterest followers know about your ecourse. You can do this once each day until you’ve pinned all of the photos/visuals on your sales page.

7. Host a scholarship giveaway.

Wanna know the marketing strategy that works better than anything else for me when it comes to selling online courses? It’s hosting a scholarship giveaway.

The reason this works so well is that the women who enter are already imagining themselves in the course. And, I usually ask for them to leave a comment entailing how the course would help them. So, they’ve already thought through the benefits they’d get out of taking the course.

Once I announce the scholarship winners, I always get a flood of sales from other women who entered the giveaway. It’s a win-win-win.

8. Guest blog.

If you don’t have a large blog readership, write a few guest posts about the course topic for popular blogs. At the bottom of each guest post, write a short paragraph, letting readers know that if they enjoyed this post and want to learn more, you’re teaching an online course and link to your sales page.

9. Do interviews.

Another way to get your ecourse in front of other people’s audiences is to land some interviews. I say yes to more interviews when I’m launching something new. Their audiences get access to my expertise and I get to promote my course.

Marie Forleo does interviews with Danielle LaPorte, Kris Carr and others every time she launches B-School. It’s another win-win.

10. Launch a free intro video series.

I’m sure you’ve seen the launches that include a series of free videos (usually three videos) that teach you something that pertains to the course topic. Then, the person sells you on the course if you want to learn more.

These video series work really well when they’re done right, because they give potential customers insight to what they can expect from the course. Potential customers think, “If this is free, the course must be amazing.”

11. Offer a guarantee.

If this is your first ecourse and you haven’t built up a lot of trust with your audience, one of the best ways to deal with that is to offer a money-back guarantee. You don’t have to do this, but it will help those potential customers who are unsure push past their uncertainties.

I offered a money-back guarantee with my first three online courses, and that is one of the reasons some of the women felt comfortable enough to sign up.

12. Give away a sneak peek.

If you don’t have testimonials, it’s especially important to build trust. You can do this by giving your potential customers a sneak peek of the course. You could give them access to one of the videos or show them a few of your worksheets in action. This alone will increase your sales.

13. Ask your peers to help spread the word.

One of the lovely things about building relationships with other creative entrepreneurs is that you can help each other out. Put together a few easy to copy and paste tweets and Facebook posts and email your friends/peers, asking them to help you spread the word about your upcoming course.

When one of my friends reaches out like this (making it super easy for me to share), I always say yes.

14. Provide successful case studies.

Whenever I’m thinking about registering for an online course, it helps to see the success of other students who’ve already gone through the course. One of the reasons I signed up for B-School was because I saw interviews with a handful of successful students.

If you’re teaching an online drawing class, you could show the before and after drawings of some of your students. Potential customers will then think, “Well, they started out just as bad as I am. If they can learn, then so can I.”

15. Use testimonials.

I’ve talked about the importance of testimonials in the last part of this series, so I won’t go into detail here. But, if you’ve got a few really good testimonials, use them on more than your sales page. Post one on Instagram. Post another on Facebook. And, another on Twitter.

16. Host a live Q&A call.

If you open up registration to your course and you get a barrage of questions or your sales are much lower than you expected, host a live Q&A call.

Even if I don’t get a lot of questions and numbers are good, I almost always host a live Q&A call (on Spreecast). After that kind of call, I always get a rush of sales.

Remember that a confused customer never buys so if you can clear up any doubts on a live call, you’ll get more sales.

17. Set a registration deadline.

We all tend to procrastinate when we can. To end the procrastination, give your target market a registration deadline for your course.

18. Host a launch countdown on social media.

When Mayi and I launched an online course together, we created a countdown for Instagram. Starting at 10 days out, we posted a picture of the two of us each day with the number of days away until the launch day (10…9…8…7…). We kept it pretty cryptic because we wanted to build a lot of suspense.

Creative strategies like this really stand out.

19. Talk about the benefits—not just the features.

When you’re marketing your ecourse, focus on the benefits—not the features. For example, a feature of your ecourse might be that it contains 15 videos and a benefit might be that by the end of the course, your students will be drawing with confidence.

20. Utilize SEO.

SEO stands for search engine optimization which is fancy for being found when someone searches for your keywords on Google or other search engines.

I don’t place a lot of significance on SEO, but every bit helps. If you’re on WordPress there are lots of plug-ins that can help you with SEO.

21. Start an affiliate program.

Another way to get a lot more promotion for your ecourse, without you doing all the marketing, is to pay affiliates to promote it for you. If you start an affiliate program, each time one of your affiliates makes a sale for you, she gets a part of the profit. When you set this up within your shopping cart, each of your affiliates will get their own unique link (to your sales page) and that’s how your shopping cart knows who gets credit for the sale.

For instance, if your sell your course for $50 and give your affiliates a 50% commission, each time someone bought your course by clicking on your affiliate’s link, you’d each get $25.

It’s a win-win. You get your course in front of people you’d never reach otherwise and your affiliate gets paid for the work she puts into promoting your products.

Those are just 21 ways to promote your ecourse. The more creative you get, the more successful you’ll be. Have fun with this—marketing can be fun!

And, don’t forget that you can check out the replay of the Q& A call!

Comments { 8 }

Create and Sell Your Own Ecourses Part 5: Pricing and Writing Your Sales Page

Create-and-Sell-Ecourses-Part-5

It’s time for the fifth part of the series on creating and selling your own ecourses: pricing your ecourse and writing your sales page.

For a lot of creative entrepreneurs, these two things provoke nightmares worse than the ‘show up naked to school’ variety.

Don’t sweat it. That’s why I’m here…to make this stuff easier.

If you need to catch up on the series, do so now so you can join the live Q&A call next week:

Part 1: Intro and Picking Your Topic

Part 2: The Tools and Software

Part 3: Step by Step Guide to Setting It Up

Part 4: Planning, Outlining and Naming Your Course

Grab yourself a glass of water with cucumber slices (because cucumber water is just so much more refreshing than regular water) and let’s tackle these topics that cause armpits to drip.

Pricing pricing pricing.

It feels like a bad word—like he who must not be named. So many people I work with hate pricing their work.

I know that if I gave some of my clients a genie in a bottle to grant their business wishes, they’d ask for him to price their products for them.

But, here’s the thing my friend: no one else understands your course more than you so they won’t be able to price it as well as you.

With that being said, too many entrepreneurs get engrossed in finding the “right price.” They waste time, often getting stuck in this phase for way too long.

When we’re talking about digital products, like an ecourse, there really isn’t a perfect price. So get that out of your head.

Instead, take these things into account to figure out what you should charge:

1. How much you want to make.

What’s the ideal amount that you’d like to make during your first launch? Be realistic but nudge past your comfort zone.

Then, decide whether or not you’re going to limit the amount of people who can register. If you’re providing one-on-one feedback or hosting live Q&A calls, you might want to restrict the number of students so your workload isn’t overwhelming, especially for the first run of the course.

If you do have a student limit, divide the amount you want to make by the number of students. That can give you a starting price point to work from. For example, if you want to make $5000 and you’ve got 100 students spots, you’d need to sell your course at $50 to reach that goal amount.

2. The quality.

The higher the quality of the course, the more you can charge.

You can charge a lot more if you hire a film crew to record your course videos than you can if you film them yourself. You can set a higher price if you record your videos with a nice camera and lighting kit than you can if you record the same videos with your iPhone with crap lighting.

Quality absolutely matters and price will alter your students’ expectations. You expect more from $297 course than you do from a $47 course.

3. The exclusivity of the content.

If you’re teaching something unique or rare, you can charge more.

For instance, when Bonnie Christine taught the ins and outs of surface pattern design on CreativeLive, they could’ve priced that course much higher because there weren’t a lot of other courses that go into that much depth on the topic (except for one that’s A LOT more expensive). In fact, people wondered why Bonnie was sharing her trade secrets when so many others refused to do so. (She’s cool like that–that’s why!)

If you have a distinctive style that people want to learn (meaning that they want to learn from YOU), then you can charge more. Let’s say that you’re a jewelry designer and you create truly unique pieces. If you decide to teach your skills, you can charge more because students are coming to you to learn how YOU make jewelry even though there are plenty of other jewelry making courses available.

4. The higher the investment, the higher the commitment.

Think about when you buy something. When you spend more money, you care more. You value it more.

We have two couches in our home, one that cost about $250 that we bought on Amazon and one that cost eight times that from Anthropologie. Guess which one I won’t allow my husband to drink red wine on? Guess which one I’ll keep for years and years?

It’s the same thing when it comes to courses. Let’s say you sign up for two different marketing courses, one being $15 and the other costing $475. Which one are you going to value more? Which one are you going to take more seriously, trying to attend the live calls and actually completing the assignments?

You might not like it, but it’s how it works. We value things more when they cost more.

Also, when you charge more, you weed out bargain shoppers. The students who register really want to learn what you’re teaching. And, that makes a HUGE difference.

This doesn’t mean that you have to price your courses higher, but keep in mind that cost does affect your students’ experiences and expectations.

5. Go with your gut. Sorta.

After you know the content of your course and the quality of that content, often you’ll know what you should price it.

So, simply ask yourself, “What should I price this course?”

What’s the first number that pops into your mind? Now, add a bit to it (because if you’re like most creative entrepreneurs, you underprice yourself). For instance, if your gut number was $37, up it to $45 or $47.

Ninety-five percent of the time, the gut price plus a bit more is the price I use. After I’ve thought about the first four considerations above, my gut number is usually the right one.

Now, that you’ve got a price in mind, let’s talk about writing your sales page.

Dun-dun-duuuuuunnn!

I know I know…I’m hitting you with the tough stuff today.

But, if you want to actually sell your ecourse, you’ve got to compose a sales page that does all the selling for you.

Before we get into specifics, consider the goal of your sales page.

The goal of your sales page is to get the RIGHT people to buy. The most important word in that sentence is RIGHT.

The goal isn’t to get as many people as possible to buy, regardless of whether or not your course will help them. (Unless you suck at life and business.)

It’s a subtle shift in thinking but I believe it makes all the difference.

By the time someone gets to the bottom of your sales page, she should know whether or not your course is the right course for her. And, she should be inspired and motivated to buy.

In order to accomplish this, you’ve got to connect emotionally with potential customers, let them know what they’ll be learning and gaining from taking your course and give them a reason to buy now.

If you do those three things, you’ll hit your sales goals and make your customers happy.

Here’s a step-by-step guide to writing a sales page that’ll sell:

1. You need to connect to your ideal customer immediately.

The biggest mistake you could make is starting your sales page by introducing yourself or talking about why you wanted to teach this course. Your potential students don’t care about YOU at this point. All they care about it is how this course will help them.

They want to know if they’re in the right place. The first few sentences on your sales page are some of the most important, because if you don’t connect right away, you’ll lose a lot of sales.

Click here and read the intro of this sales page for my course, Six Weeks to a More Passion-Filled and Profitable Business, to get an example of how I do this.

Right away, I’m speaking directly to my ideal customer, letting her know that I get her and I can help.

2. Then, you should explain why you’re teaching this course.

After you’ve connected with your ideal customer and she’s interested in the ecourse, you want to introduce yourself and share why you’re the right person to teach the course. Don’t spend a lot of time on this. Two to three short paragraphs will do the job.

3. Give a brief overview of the logistics.

If your course is less than $50, a brief description of what you cover in the course, a few testimonials, a snippet of the course material, and a buy button (or two) is probably all you’ll need to add after the introduction.

If you’re charging more than $50 for your course, you’re going to need to give your readers more details. That means your sales page will be quite a bit longer, so this is good place to give your readers a brief explanation of your course.

For example, you might tell them that the course includes 12 video tutorials, 3 patterns, and a private Facebook group.

You can see how I did this in the grayish box (containing bullets) near the top of this sales page.

Bullet points are your bestest of friends when creating sales pages. They’re easy for your readers to skim and read through, they break up the page and make big chunks of text less overwhelming, and they give you an easy way to share details. Use them frequently.

4. Build trust with testimonials.

The most effective way to sell without being too salesy is to let other people do the selling for you. Sprinkle testimonials throughout your sales page.

If this is the first time you’re teaching the course, you can do two different things to use testimonials:

a) Give some of your most loyal customers access to the course early in exchange for their feedback—and use their feedback as testimonials.

b) Use testimonials you’ve received for other products/services but clearly state that the testimonial is not for that particular course. I did this early on with one of my courses and with each testimonial I put the caption “Praise for Working with April.” And, if it was a testimonial for another course, I wrote a caption like: “Praise for Blogging for Creatives.” Even though it’s not a testimonial for that specific course, it helps in the same way, by showing potential customers that they can trust you.

5. Give more details.

If you’re charging more than $50, this is where you need to give more details about your course.

I usually do this by breaking down each lesson or week within the ecourse. You can see how I included more details on what would be covered each week on this sales page.

When you’re sharing details about what you’re covering and what the students can expect to learn, my trade secret is to always provoke curiosity. You want your bullet points (or details) to compel your potential customers to feel like they have to take your course to learn those things.

Some examples of bullet points I used to provoke curiosity on my last course’s sales page:

  • How to charge premium prices
  • The one thing that can dramatically increase your prices
  • Website mistakes that can cost you hundreds or thousands of dollars
  • How to make your competitors your friends and allies
  • How to dominate your competition by getting to know your ideal customer
  • How to sell to your ideal customer without being sales-y

When you read those bullet points, you want to know more, right? You want to know the one thing that can dramatically increase your prices and the website mistakes that can cost you hundreds or thousands of dollars. Those bullet points motivate you to stop procrastinating and buy.

I know this works because this course sold out without a big launch. It sold out after only five emails (only two were focused solely on the course) sent to my email list about the course or mentioning the course.

6. Include bonuses.

From creating and selling 17 ecourses, I’ve found that including bonuses on a sales page converts almost as well as testimonials.

People love to feel like they’re getting more bang for their buck. Don’t you?

What else will help your students succeed? Maybe you could include an ebook you wrote a year ago as a bonus. Maybe adding access to a private Facebook group for the students to encourage each other as a bonus could help them stay motivated throughout the course.

Here’s a tip that I don’t think I’ve ever shared before: if you don’t have anything to add as a bonus, take something from the course and make it a bonus. The course is the same but the perception is much different.

For example, if you were planning on including a live Q&A call at the end of the course, make that call a bonus. You could make a few of your video tutorials “bonus videos.” Anything can be a bonus.

Check out the bonus section of this sales page for an example.

7. Address objections.

Make a list of the top ten reasons your ideal customer might hesitate to register for your course. Then, make sure your sales page addresses these objections.

For instance, someone might hesitate to pay $27 for your knitting course when she can find knitting tutorials online for free. How can you combat that objection? You can: a) include a testimonial where a customer raves about your course, saying that it’s worth triple the price b) compare the price to something else such as “for less than a nice meal out, you can learn how to knit these adorable leg warmers you’ll be able to wear for years” c) show a clip of one of the video tutorials to show how the quality of your videos is well above most free videos online.

If you address each objection, your sales will absolutely increase.

8. Give potential customers more confirmation that it’s right for them.

On most of my sales pages, I include a section where I list who’s right for the course and who’s wrong for the course.

This does two important things: 1) helps weed out the people who shouldn’t sign up for the course 2) gives potential customers who are a great fit for the course additional confirmation that they should register.

You can see an example of this near the bottom of this sales page.

9. Get specific.

A confused customer never buys. (Repeat this out loud.) A confused customer never buys.

I always include a paragraph or two letting customers know exactly what to expect. That way they’re never wondering how they’ll access the course material or what to do next, because that’s one of the main reasons someone will hesitate to purchase.

Here’s an example excerpt from my Six Weeks to a More Passion-Filled and Profitable Business sales page:

“You can pay via credit card or PayPal. You choose!

You ready to join? If so, simply click the button below to check out with a secure shopping cart. Once you’ve made your first payment, you’ll be redirected to register for the course. You’ll choose a username and password and you’ll receive log in information via email. You’ll also get instant access to all of the RoadMap modules to tackle your procrastination and time management issues. Before the course starts, you’ll receive a notification email that the course is beginning. And, throughout the course, you’ll receive emails each Monday when a new set of modules is released (starting on January 26th).”

10. Insert multiple buy buttons.

If you have a lengthy sales page, you’ll want to place multiple buy buttons throughout. Unless you want to reduce sales. Then, just place one buy button at the very bottom. I usually include three to five buy buttons.

And, here are six more tips for writing a sales page that sells:

1. Write with one person in mind.

Have you ever written an ideal customer profile? This is the time to dust it off, read it and imagine that person when you’re writing your sales page.

When you do this, your writing becomes emotionally impactful. It’s funny how when you write as if you’re writing to one person, you end up connecting with a lot more people. Try it and see the magic that happens.

2. Edit. Edit. Edit some more.

Your sales page is not the place to sloppily slap something together. You’re trying to persuade people to give you their money. Edit each word, sentence and paragraph. Pay close attention to the verbs. Delete unnecessary adjectives.

Read each sentence out loud. Does it sound like you, like something you’d say to a friend? If not, it’s probably too stiff or too salesy. Inject your personality and get rid of the robot.

3. Share a sneak peek.

Show a screenshot of the inside of the course website. Share a snippet of one of the course videos. Include a photo of one of your worksheets.

Especially in the beginning, if you don’t give a preview of any of the course content, people will wonder why. They’ll think you’re hiding something.

Your customers are taking a risk when they sign up for your course, and you can reduce that risk for them by showing them a preview of what they’ll be getting. You don’t have to do this, but if your course content is high quality, it’ll increase your sales.

4. Use your customers’ language.

One mistake experts make when writing sales pages is using language that their customers don’t understand. Remember that your customers are trying to learn about your topic and probably don’t know the terms an expert would appreciate. You want to connect with your target market and using their language is one of the best ways to do that.

5. Give them a reason to buy now.

We all procrastinate whenever we can. Think about your own experiences. You know you’ve come across an ecourse and thought, “Oh that looks amazing. I should really take this, but I’ll wait until next month when I have more time.”

You have to give your ideal customer a reason to buy now…not next month or next year. The reason could be that registration will close in a week and you’re not offering the course again for another six months. The reason could be that your course on improving your relationship with your spouse could save your marriage and you need to invest in your marriage today.

You need to motivate your ideal customer to click the buy button instead of leaving the page.

6. Visuals matter.

You’re a creative entrepreneur which means that your customers expect more from you visually. It also means that many of them are drawn to visuals more than text.

Use photos and illustrations to break up the text. With your testimonials, use a photo of the person who provided the testimonial.

You need to use high-quality photos and illustrations. I suggest using your own photos, so that your visuals are branded. If your photo skills aren’t up to par, luckily you can find really good stock photos to use on your sales page. Investing $10-30 on photos for your sales page can make a big difference and often will pay for itself again and again.

Okay, I could ramble on and on when it comes to sales pages, but I think I’ve given you a solid starting point.

If you have more questions about pricing or sales pages, make sure you check out the replay of the live call we held at the end of this series.

Your question may have been asked by one of the other ladies!

Check out the next part of the series on marketing and selling your ecourse.

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Create and Sell Your Own Ecourses Part 4: Planning, Outlining and Naming Your Course

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For the fourth part of this series, we’re delving into my favorite part of creating online courses: the planning, outlining and researching phase.

Sound the trumpets! Throw the glitter! It’s research time.

We’re also discussing naming your course, so if you’ve ever had an idea for an ecourse but couldn’t think up a decent name, keep reading. (I’ve been stuck in that ‘if only I could think of nifty name’ land so often that I’ve built my own hotel there. So, I’ve created a naming strategy that I’m sharing with you.)

If you’re reading this intro and wondering what the bananas is going on, you’ve probably missed the first three parts of this series on creating and selling your own ecourses.

Not to worry, my friend. They’re FREE and you can find them right here:

Part 1: Intro and Picking Your Topic

Part 2: The Tools and Software

Part 3: Step by Step Guide to Setting It Up

If you’re all caught up, let’s skedaddle on.

Through teaching 17 online courses, I’ve learned a trick when it comes to naming your course.

Drum roll please…

If you’re struggling with the name, skip it until you’ve got a grasp of the content. Okay, maybe that’s not the best “trick” and it didn’t deserve a drum roll but it’s actually a trusty technique that will help. Come on…take my hand…and let me guide you through it.

When you plan your first (or next) online course, your first step should be deciding what the biggest takeaway will be for your students. What are the students going to learn? What will they complete by the end? What skills will they master?

Knowing the big takeaway will keep you focused during everything else—outlining, naming, pricing, designing and marketing the course.

One of the biggest mistakes I see entrepreneurs making when creating and selling their first online course is trying to cram too much information into it.

For instance, let’s say that you want to teach a knitting ecourse.

You want to help beginning knitters, so you’re going to teach them how to knit a specific scarf, going through the steps from a to z. The big takeaway is that by the end of the course, the students will have learned how to knit while creating their first scarf (and getting hooked on knitting).

Knowing the big takeaway makes the outlining process feel effortless.

You only include skills that pertain to that project. It makes the process of creating, marketing and selling the course that much easier. You’ve got a distinct target market and a clear skillset students will learn.

Consider that you want to teach a knitting course for beginners but you don’t pick a specific project. How much more difficult will it be to decide what to include in the course? What about when you sit down to type up your sales page? How about mapping out an ideal customer profile?

You don’t have to pick an explicit project to teach, but especially in the beginning, the more specific the takeaway, the easier it’ll be on you.

Think of the confidence boost you’d get from launching your first ecourse with success within the next three months. When you complicate things (like the content), it can take a lot longer to actually put together and get out into the world.

Now, let’s talk outlines.

I always outline a course before creating the content. And, I’ve found that the more detailed the outline, the easier it is to create the content.

Once you’ve determined what your students will get out of taking your course, it’s time to start your outline. Personally, I like to outline and then name the course but you might like naming the course and then outlining it. Do what works best for you.

For this phase, set a deadline or else you might find yourself at the bottom of the research rabbit hole months from now.

When I get to the outline stage, I predetermine a due date. Research is a big part of my creation process. It’s one of my favorite parts, so I can get swept up by it if I’m not careful.

Here’s how I outline and research (this may or may not work for you):

First, I gather a stack of 4×6 inch index cards and start to jot down any content I want to include in the course.

I only write down one idea on each card (which means most cards include one sentence or small paragraph). For instance, if I’m teaching a course on blogging, I might scribble “how to add social share buttons to your blog posts” on one card and “how to make blog images pinable for Pinterest” on another card.

After I’ve written down all of my ideas, I start researching other things I want to include in the course.

I begin by making a list of books, blogs, podcasts and articles I want to consume. For example, if I’m teaching a course on copywriting, I’d probably read 5-10 books and 50-75 blog posts on the subject as well as listening to podcasts and watching videos on the topic.

This submerges me in the topic. During the research phase, I keep the stack of index cards with me. Each time I come across something I might want to include in the course, I jot it down on another card. This includes quotes, examples I want to use, interesting ideas (and who to give credit to for the idea) and ideas I come up with while researching.

By the end of the research phase, I usually have hundreds of index cards with notes on them.

Next, I pick out the main lessons I’m going to teach in the course.

For instance, for the blogging course, the main lessons might be: 1) Why you should blog 2) How to get started with blogging 3) Taking photos for your blog 4) Using social media to promote your blog 5) How to write with personality and 6) The importance of headlines and first sentences.

I would write each main topic on an index card and tab them so that I know they are the main topics.

Then, I sift through all the other index cards and place them behind the main topic they fall under.

For example, I would place the index card with “how to add social share buttons to your blog posts” written on it under the social media lesson.

Once I’ve categorized each index card, I go through each main lesson one by one, laying out all of the index cards on the floor or taping them to a wall.

Then, I can easily see the main themes that I want to cover and I add them to my typed outline.

Next, I group together index cards that should be covered together. This clarifies what I want to teach in each lesson and what order they should go in.

At this point, I’ve got a main chunk of the content of the course done. I’ll sift through the index cards for each lesson, adding more to the outline until it’s a complete outline to work from.

This is when I do my happy dance because I’m ready to create the course content which usually either means constructing Keynotes or recording videos.

This might sound dramatic but my index system is life, because without it, I would miss points I want to cover and things that are significant to the topic I’m teaching.

I usually give myself about one month to fill out the index cards and research. For bigger courses, I might give myself two or three months.

Once I’ve defined the bones of the course but before I’m done with the research phase is usually when I decide on the name.

Naming a course or product is my nemesis.

I’m not good at it. And, I’m not just being humble.

Because of that, I’ve created a strategy that makes the naming process less sucktastic. If you feel the need to gulp down a giant slice of cake with buttercream frosting when you have to name something, this approach might help you. I mean, you can still have the cake. I’m going to. But, anything to make this easier is a win to me.

Step 1: Brain dump.

Set a timer for 10 minutes and write down all your ideas. Include words that pop into your mind, even if they don’t neatly fit into a title right now. Use this as your starting point.

Step 2: Put together five combinations.

From the list you’ve made, compile some possible course names. I try to come up with at least five to start with.

Step 3: Make the thesaurus your bestest friend.

When I’ve got an idea in mind, but something still feels a bit off I look up the words I’ve used on thesaurus.com and I play with different options.

Step 4: Step away.

Once you’ve done this much, taking a break will help your creative process. You know that feeling that bubbles up in your chest when you’ve been thinking about a creative problem for too long? Your inventiveness starts to stumble, you keep coming up with the same solutions and the frustration mounts.

That’s when you need to step (or skip because skipping is much more fun) away. Sleep on it. Take a walk. Think about other things like whether you should’ve painted your nails eggshell instead of paper white or if Kaitlyn is going to end up alone since she slept with that Nick guy (Bachorlette fans what what!).

Step 5: Review your list with fresh eyes.

Once you’ve gotten some space, you’ll make a better decision. You’ll probably have a couple of new options you’ve accidentally thought of during spin class or while folding laundry. You might realize that your favorite option isn’t that great. You might notice an option that you’d ruled out in the beginning in a new way. Play with your ideas some more.

Step 6: Narrow down your options.

Do some research to see if anyone is using the course names you’ve brainstormed. You’ll probably have to cross some out and possibly change some of the wording to make yours different. Then, pick your top three.

Step 7: Get feedback.

If you’re in a mastermind group or a member of a supportive Facebook group (like the B-School group), share your three top choices and ask for feedback.

Sometimes you’re too close to things to see what someone else might. Someone might share a word choice that you hadn’t thought of or someone might point out something confusing about your favorite name. That kind of feedback is critical.

Step 8: Pick a course title.

At some point, you’ve got to stop the brainstorm phase and name your course. After you’ve compiled different options, taken some space away from them, and gotten feedback, you’re ready to choose the name of your course.

Here are a few tips to keep in mind:

1. A confused customer never buys.

And, a confused reader never clicks. Clarity should always win out over cuteness. If your followers don’t understand what the course is (at all) by the title, they might not click to learn to more. You’ll absolutely lose sales.

Some “cute” names work but they work because people connect to them. For example, Mayi Carles’ Life is Messy Bootcamp isn’t completely clear by the name, but her customers emotionally connect to the phrase “life is messy.” If the name will inspire your followers to click and read more, then you’ll be fine.

2. Shorter equals better.

And, it’s easier to remember. One of my courses is titled, Six Weeks to a More Passion-Filled and Profitable Business, and because it’s such a long title, most of my customers call it “six weeks” which won’t make much sense to anyone else who doesn’t already know what the course is about.

Sometimes, it’s necessary to add more length to your course name but if you’ve got a shorter option, go with the succinct one.

3. Keep your brand in mind.

When you’re trying to brainstorm a name for your next online course, it’s important that whatever you pick works with your brand. Ask yourself, “Is this name something my customers would find jarring or unrelated?” If so, it’s probably not the best choice.

I hope this helps you when you’re in the planning, outlining and naming phases of your course creation.

If you have any tips to add or have any questions you’d like me to answer, leave them in the comments below!

Check out the next part of the series on pricing your ecourse and writing your sales page.

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Create and Sell Your Own Ecourses Part 3: Step by Step Guide to Setting It Up

Create-and-Sell-Ecourses-Part-3

This week for Create and Sell Your Own Ecourses, I’m showing you how I set up ecourses through my own website using WordPress and WishList Member.

If you’re just joining the series, you can catch up right here:

Part 1: Intro and Picking Your Topic

Part 2: The Tools and Software

In the video, I show you: 1) how I install another installation on my domain, blacksburgbelle.com 2) how I install WishList Member 3) what I do within WishList Member to set it up for an online course 4) how I design the website using Canvas by WooThemes and 5) how you can integrate it with your shopping cart and email software.

I tried to explain things in an easy-to-understand way. If anything seems confusing, it’s helpful to get into the program and play around a bit. Please remember that this technical stuff isn’t my area of expertise, but I knew it would help you get closer to selling your own ecourses if I shared this process with you so I’m doing it anyways. (So, if it sounds like I’m scratching my head trying to figure out how to describe something to you, I probably am.)

Because the video is close to 50 minutes, let’s just leap right in:

I hope this helps you see that creating and selling your own ecourses isn’t as difficult as it may seem.

If you still have technical questions, you can leave them in the comments below, and I’ll try my best to answer.

Through watching this video, maybe you’ve realized that you want to stick to ebooks, worksheets and other PDFs for now. If you’re interested in learning the technical parts of designing and putting together worksheets and ebooks, you should check out my CreativeLive course, Create Digital Products that Sell While You  Sleep. I spent over an hour showing how I use InDesign and Illustrator to create those digital products in that course.

Check out the next part of this series where I help you with planning, outlining and naming your course.

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