10 Tips to Stay Productive while Working from Home

10 Tips to Stay Productive while Working from Home

For a lot of people, working from home is the dream.

They imagine working around their kids’ schedules, cooking a healthy lunch midday, working with their doggie snuggled up with them on the couch and doing work that they love all day every day.

While I love working from home with my three lab mixes snoring at my feet, there are some downsides.

You have to become an anti-procrastination queen or you’ll just end up spending the day doing laundry, mopping the floors and having Netflix marathons. You have to learn how to be a great boss or you’ll burnout when your health plummets from sitting at your desk for hours and hours without breaks or exercise.

Since May of 2009, I’ve worked from home. I quit my day job and became my own boss. And, let me tell you, I was in for a shock.

It wasn’t as easy as I had envisioned. I actually missed chatting with coworkers throughout the day (even though I’m an introvert), getting dressed in outfits that made me feel good about myself (cause what’s the point when it’s just you?), and working based on deadlines that someone else set for me.

I realized that I was going to have to create my own rules for working at home if I wanted to avoid having to return to my day job.

I’ve learned a lot over the past seven years and I’d love to share my top tips for working from home successfully.

1. Develop trigger habits.

When you do the same thing day after day when you sit down to write or to paint or to market your business, your brain gets triggered that it’s time to do that specific task.

Before I sit down to write, I brew a cup of tea and light a few candles. That tells my brain that it’s time to write a blog post or sales copy or young adult fiction. It makes transitioning from doing my hair and makeup or eating lunch to writing much easier.

What are the tasks you need to do every day to run a successful business? Do you have triggers already? If not, create some now. It’s fun and it works!

2. Keep set work hours.

This one is particularly hard at first. Either you get distracted and end up doing things like laundry and decluttering your closet when you’re supposed to be working or you overwork yourself until your body fights back and you get sick.

I’ve fallen into both of these camps before. When I first started my business, I didn’t take one day off (including weekends or holidays) for six months. Eventually, my husband told me that he missed his wife and I realized that I couldn’t keep that pace if I wanted to be healthy and in a happy marriage.

And, there have definitely been days where I’ve spent my work time doing things besides work.

Because I have serious autoimmune issues, this is still tough for me. But, I’m much more productive when I set specific work hours and spend that time working on my business.

If you find yourself procrastinating or working way too much, you should decide on your work hours and keep to them.

3. Don’t let friends or family stop by or call.

Another reason you should have set work hours is to be able to tell your friends and family when you won’t be available.

Sometimes friends and family members think ‘working at home’ means that you can talk on the phone for an hour when they want to complain about a coworker or that you can run to the grocery store with them.

When you take your business seriously, your friends and family will, too.

4. Get dressed.

In the beginning, I thought one of the biggest pluses to working from home was the ability to do it in my pajamas or yoga pants with a messy bun and no makeup.

I mean…why would I spend time picking out an outfit and doing my hair and makeup if the only people who saw me during the day were my husband and the mailman?

But there’s something about spending the day in yoga pants that gives you more permission to clean, watch television, and take a nap. When I get ready for the day, I feel a lot guiltier about doing non-work things. Even though it takes me 30-45 minutes to shower and get ready, I get more done on those days.

I also think it’s important to look your best for your spouse. I want to wear an outfit I feel great in and do my hair and makeup even if the only person who sees me that day is my husband. He’s the most important person in my world so he deserves my best.

If you’re currently a ‘work all day in yoga pants’ kinda girl boss, try getting ready each day over the next month. You don’t have to go all out. A nice outfit, brushed hair and lip gloss and mascara can do wonders for your mood and confidence.

5. Turn off notifications.

Unless you want to get pulled out of work every other minute (which means it’ll take you waaaaaaay longer to accomplish anything), turn off all notifications.

I know this is hard and you’ll probably even get a bit bored at first without that constant stream of interruptions, but you’ll realize how much more you get done. Totally worth it.

6. Move your body.

Most creative entrepreneurs sit or stay in the same position all day. In the beginning, you’ll probably just suffer from sore shoulders and a cramped neck at the end of each day.

But, as time goes by, your health will suffer if you don’t make a concerted effort to move your body every day.

You’ll also gain weight, feel more sluggish and be susceptible to depression and anxiety. So many of us get wrapped up in our work (which is a great thing to love your work that much), that we don’t look up until it’s dinnertime or too late to workout.

This doesn’t mean that you have to go to the gym for an hour every day. If that’s not your thing, try a few of these:

  • Start your day with 10 minutes of exercise. I start most days with 10 minutes of yoga.
  • Always take the stairs when that’s an option.
  • Take short walks (10-20 minutes) a few times a day. If you have a doggie, he or she will thank you for it.
  • Try to hit a certain amount of steps each day.
  • Replace your desk with a standing desk so you’re on the feet when you’re working at your computer.
  • Go for an evening walk with your spouse to share your highest and lowest moment of the day with each other.
  • Whenever you’re on the phone (for business or personal reasons), stand up and walk around during the phone call.

It’s not important what you’re doing for exercise. It’s just important that you exercise. You’ll be more likely to come up with creative ideas and feel happier when working.

7. Take breaks.

This one correlates with moving your body, because some of your breaks could be for 10 minutes of yoga or a walk around the block.

But, even if you’re not breaking for exercise, you should take a break every 60-90 minutes. Research has shown that we need breaks every 60-90 minutes. You know you need a break when you start to itch to check email or social media, you start to procrastinate or you feel like you need a snack or water.

These are signals that you should stop working and take 10-30 minutes to do something that will refuel you. That might mean eating a healthy snack of carrots and hummus or taking a quick 20-minute nap or drinking a cup of herbal tea while reading a good book for 30 minutes.

Lots of entrepreneurs don’t take breaks because they think that they’ll get more done if they skip them. The truth is that you’ll get more done if you take breaks because your mind will be sharper, your body will be refueled and you’ll be less likely to fall into a Pinterest or Instagram hole while you try to write your next blog post.

8. Have set email hours.

Don’t let email rule your day. If you keep your email open all day, constantly checking to see if there’s anything new, your day will revolve around other peoples’ priorities and needs.

Instead, set aside anywhere from 15-60 minutes a day to answer your emails. Only open your email during that time. Otherwise, keep it closed. You’ll find that the world doesn’t end if you take a few hours to respond to someone.

9. Make sure you still network.

Working from home is most introverts’ dream scenario. You get lots of alone time (unless you’ve got young children) and don’t have to make benign chitchat with coworkers.

I get it. I’m an introvert and I love working from home all by myself. With that being said, my best days include some form of communication with other creatives. That might be a 30-minute Google Hangout with my best biz friend, Mayi or a live call for Sunday Society or an interview for someone’s podcast.

I also know the power of networking. If you try to build your business by yourself without getting any help from anyone, it’s going to take so much longer. When other people talk about you, your business and your products, it’s much easier to spend time on the stuff you love (like creating) because you don’t have to spend as much time on marketing.

The bottom line is that working from home should not be your hall pass to stop networking.

10. Set a top three each evening.

The thing that’s changed my productivity more than anything else is setting a top three each evening before I stop working.

My top three are the three most important things I need to get done the next day. I don’t allow myself to stop working until those three things are accomplished. It also helps me to jump right into work the next morning, because I know all of my to-dos are going to get done so I don’t need to spend 15 minutes trying to figure out what to do next.

Almost always, I do more than those three things. Getting my top priorities out of the way (usually by early afternoon) gives me motivation to keep going.

And, I always choose my top three tasks based on the goals I’m currently trying to reach—that way, I know that those tasks are high-leverage tasks that will help me move my business forward.

A big mistake many entrepreneurs make when they start a new business is that they jump from updating Twitter to writing a blog post to photographing a new product to updating Instagram without a plan. They’re doing all the things they think they’re supposed to do without an end goal in mind. That leads to lots of frustration and feelings of failure.

You should always know what you’re working towards. That’ll make planning your days so much easier.

There you have it…my top ten tips for working from home.

Have a tip that I left out? Please share in the comments below. (Thanks for reading and commenting! You’re the BEST!)

Comments { 19 }

I’m Talking to YOU, Scaredy Cat!

I'm Talking to You

You: I launched a new product, and I’m really disappointed with the sales.

Me: What did you do to market your new product?

You: I emailed my list once. I blogged it about it. I posted a picture and description on Instagram and Facebook. I sent out a tweet. I scheduled a few more tweets.

Me: So you basically did the bare minimum?

You: What else was I supposed to do?

Me: Email your list with sneak peeks leading up to your launch. Email your list at least a handful of times during your launch. Set up a sales funnel. Mention it in all of your blog posts for a month leading up to the product release. Do a Facebook live video on launch day to celebrate. Try to book some interviews. Write a couple guest posts. Collect testimonials. Talk about it on social media over and over and over.

You: Won’t that make my followers mad? Won’t they get annoyed with me talking about my products so much?

Me: *Takes a deep breath so I don’t lose my mind* Are you trying to run a successful business or please the entire world?

You: Ummmmm….

Me: Excuse me for a moment while I bash my head up against this brick wall 57 times.

While this might be a bit of an exaggeration, I find myself in this kind of conversation ALL THE TIME. That’s why I created today’s video.

Warning for headphone wearers: this video includes yelling.

I hope this helped you get over your email marketing phobia, because it’s a big piece of running a successful business.

Still nervous about emailing your list? Repeat this mantra over and over: they signed up for my emails because they want me to email them.

Comments { 28 }

My Answers to “Dumb” Questions: Advice for Beginner Bloggers

Advice for Beginner Bloggers

I get a lot of emails and comments that start with, “This is probably a dumb question but…”

Many of these comments end with a question related to blogging.

This is probably a dumb question, but how often should I blog?

This is probably a dumb question, but what is the difference between WordPress.org and WordPress.com?

This is probably a dumb question, but should I create separate content for my blog and my email list?

These aren’t dumb questions.

None of us took Blogging 101 in high school—although I wish that was offered. We aren’t born knowing the ins and outs of blogging or email marketing or social media. We have to learn it.

Because I’ve now been a blogger for a decade (pretty cool, right?), I decided to make a list of the twelve things I wish someone would’ve shared with me.

If I were able to sit down with you over herbal tea and explain what you need to know to get started, this is what I would tell you. And, because I would’ve written much better blog posts in the beginning with this resource, I created a downloadable checklist for you to use when you edit your blog posts (spoiler alert: one of my tips is that you have to edit your blog posts).

1. Get a self-hosted WordPress blog from the beginning.

WordPress.org is the way to go when it comes to blogging. If you use a free blogging platform, you don’t own your blog. If you start with a free platform and decide to switch over later, it can be a hassle.

If you’re worried that your tech skills aren’t up to par, take this course, WordPress Made Easy, from Amanda Creek to learn how to set up your blog within a couple hours. There’s no excuse when resources like this are available! (Insider knowledge: I begged Amanda to create this course because so many people come to me with their WordPress questions and that isn’t my area of expertise.)

2. Stick to a schedule.

Establish a consistent schedule for yourself and your readers. Pick a day of the week to blog and publish each week on that day.

This will keep you from doing the ‘I’ll wait until next week to post’ shuffle that makes you look like an amateur.

3. Keep it simple.

The best blog designs are often minimal with lots of white space. They include easy-to-read fonts and two to three main colors. When in doubt, go with the cleaner option.

4. Write like you’d speak to a friend.

You probably don’t often say things like, “I glimpsed a gargantuan arachnid on the junction of my published document” or “My domesticated canine had flatulence and it smelled like a decomposing edible green plant.” You’d say, “I saw a huge spider on the corner of my book” or “My dog farted and it smelled like rotten broccoli.”

Give your writing the ‘friend test’. Would you say it like that to a friend? If not, rewrite it.

5. Write the blog that you want to read.

Writers are often given the advice to write the novel that they want to read. This also works for bloggers.

What’s missing in the blogosphere? What would you love to read about? What would you be really excited to write about? Start with those blog posts, because your enthusiasm will rub right off onto your readers.

6. Write with one person in mind.

When you write with a group of people in mind, it often feels like there’s a wall between you and the reader. When you write with one person in mind, you write something that makes the reader feel like you wrote the blog post just for her.

Don’t worry about alienating some readers. This technique has the opposite affect. Try it and see how it changes your writing.

7. Edit before publishing.

One of the biggest mistakes that newbie bloggers make (me included when I first started!) is that they type out their blog posts, copy and paste into WordPress, add a photo at the top and hit publish. If you’re currently doing this, let me introduce you to editing. And, I don’t mean looking for spelling and grammar errors. That’s a given.

First drafts are almost always filled with bad writing. If you want to do one thing to improve your blog posts, edit them. And, I’m making this super easy for you. I’ve created a FREE downloadable checklist for you, The Ultimate Blog Post Editing Checklist.


Use it and it will instantly improve your posts which will make it more likely that your readers share them on social media.

8. Make friends with other bloggers.

Growing your blog all by yourself will take you so much longer. The first collaboration I ever did helped me grow my blog from 20 to 800 readers a day. Listen to this interview for the details on how that all happened.

The real reason that you should reach out to other bloggers is because it makes this more fun. You’ll be more likely to keep up with it and you’ll get so much inspiration and motivation from chatting with other bloggers.

9. Keep in contact with your readers.

We’re all busy and we forget to check in with our favorite blogs. If you want people to remember to come back to read the blog posts you’re pouring hours into, you’ve got to get them on your email list.

You need an opt-in somewhere noticeable—like your header or sidebar. And, you should offer a freebie in exchange for your readers’ email addresses.

If this sounds complicated, check out my free guide on email marketing for beginners. I walk you through everything step-by-step.

10. Break the rules.

Besides the one above this (about having an email list), feel free to break the rules. The beauty of blogging is that you get to make every single decision from what your blog looks like to what kind of content you post to how often you post.

You’re probably going to learn a lot about blogging as you delve further into it, but always remember that you’re in charge. If something doesn’t feel right, don’t do it. If you come up with an idea that isn’t in line with popular opinion, try it anyway. The more you enjoy blogging, the more likely you’ll still be doing it years later with thousands of readers.

11. Don’t get discouraged.

It takes time to build a readership. It’s okay (and normal) that your mom and Aunt Edna are the only ones who read your posts the first three months.

It takes most bloggers years to build a readership in the thousands. It sounds obvious, but the bloggers who keep going and keep improving are the ones who reach those exciting numbers of readers. If you keep putting in the effort, you’ll see results.

12. Always try to improve.

Take a course to learn how to improve your blog photos. Watch a free tutorial on using Canva to create branded graphics. Read a book that helps you improve your writing.

Look at learning about blogging as a privilege, as something exciting. You have an opportunity to engage with people all over the world with your content. My grandparents didn’t have that option and I try to never take that for granted.

Want some resources to learn more about blogging?

1. Take a look at my comprehensive course, Build a Successful Creative Blog. It covers everything you need to know to effectively grow your blog.

“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.” -CreativeLive Student talking about my course

2. This month in Sunday Society (membership for creative entrepreneurs) we’re focusing on blogging and you can still join us: a) I added a 30-minute Intro to Blogging for Your Business course as a bonus b) The monthly challenge (that includes a 45-minute training video) is to brainstorm and schedule a year of content, and c) I answered members’ questions on blogging for over 90 minutes on a live call this week—and it was recorded and is available for members to watch any time.

“I can’t even believe how much effort and value you’re putting into this group. Not only is this workbook EXACTLY what I need this month, it’s beautiful, and you’ve clearly put a ton of thought into the challenge. Thank you!” -Janet Taylor talking about Sunday Society

3. Don’t forget to download The Ultimate Blog Post Editing Checklist–just click the banner below.


4. Check out this post for 75 Done-for-You Blog Post Title Templates.

5. Take this class on craft photography fundamentals to improve your blog and product photos. It’s so good!

Have a tip I didn’t include? Leave it in the comments below.

Have a question about blogging? Ask it in the comments below and I’ll do my best to answer.

Comments { 4 }

My Secret to Getting More Done

My Secret to Getting More Done

The sun warmed my face even though the air was crisp. It was one of those perfect fall days. The kind that makes you want to indulge in a caramel latte and take a long walk to enjoy the chilly, fresh air.

I was walking with my friend, Mayi Carles, and a few other creative entrepreneurs. We were on our way back to a conference we were all attending after our lunch break.

I was telling them about the ebook I launched while I was waiting on my flight at the airport to get to the conference and one of the women asked me how I get so much done. The rest of the women nodded, looking to me for my secret.

I scrunched up my nose, wondering if I really do get more done than the average person. I hadn’t thought I was more productive than other creatives trying to build their businesses.

But the more I talked to the other women at the conference, the more I realized that I did tend to get more things done than most.

They wanted to know how I stayed driven and how I did it all.

How did I write two blog posts per week (that’s how many I was publishing at the time), write four guests posts per month, spend time networking, write an ebook, launch a membership program, update social media every day and do all of the admin tasks necessary to run a business?

I laughed at the possibility of there being some secret reason that I get more done. I just worked hard.

But, so did these women. It’s not as if they were lying around watching General Hospital every day.

I started to pay attention to differences between the way I worked and the way other women building their own empires worked. Anyone who told me she was frustrated by the amount she accomplished, I tried to get to the bottom of it. Two differences stood out to me.

The first was that I prioritized high-leverage tasks.

While someone else was spending hours on email and social media, I was spending less than one hour on those tasks and the rest of that time on writing an ebook or creating content for my membership site or updating my sales copy.

I have a knack for knowing what I should spend my time on and not worrying too much if the little things don’t get done.

I mean, does it really matter if I respond to the person who wants to advertise tires on my website when it clearly states that I don’t advertise other companies on my site? To me, it doesn’t.

I’d rather spend that time creating a video that 50 creatives will benefit from or planning out my next course.

This is a pretty easy change that most can make right away. All you need to do is make a list of the tasks that will help move your business forward (and make you money) quickly and spend the majority of your time on those things.

You’ll probably end up with tasks like: create new product line, submit product to such-and-such magazine for a possible feature, write sales copy, create line sheet, contact five stores about wholesale possibilities.

And, you realize that if you don’t post the burrito you ate for lunch on Snapchat or get to inbox zero, your business won’t be affected.

Making the switch to focus most of your time on high-leverage tasks comes pretty easy to most people once they realize they’re making this mistake.

It’s the second thing that people struggle with the most. They either write it off as not being important or they know it would help but they just don’t do anything about it.

This second piece of the getting-things-done puzzle is accountability.

Most people procrastinate less and meet their deadlines when they’re accountable to other people.

If you’re the type of person who doesn’t mind pushing a self-imposed deadline but you always manage to get things done when someone else is counting on you, you need to build accountability into your business.

For instance, let’s say you want to rewrite your product descriptions. You know they’re not good and you’ve learned some great copywriting tips. Even though you want to do this and put it on your to-do list, you always find yourself pushing it to the next day’s to-do list. You need to give yourself more motivation and accountability is a great way to do it.

Unless what you’re what Gretchen Rubin calls a “rebel,” (which means that you won’t do things if someone tells you to do something or you’re trying to force yourself to do something) you’d benefit from adding more weight of responsibility to your tasks and goals.

Every single time I’ve wanted to reach a challenging goal that I know will take a lot of effort, I add in accountability and that’s how I get something that otherwise might not get done in a short amount of time done.

When I decided that I wanted to start my first membership program, ARTrepreneur, I announced that I would be launching it in one month on my blog, told my husband and told my accountability partner, Mayi Carles.

My husband and Mayi both thought I was being a bit unrealistic and they had good reasons to think so. At the time, I didn’t know how to set up a membership site, I didn’t have any of the content created, and I needed to find a photographer and website designer to create content in their areas of expertise for the program. I hadn’t even thought about the sales page or how I would create a sales video. I had to learn almost everything from scratch.

I ran into a lot of obstacles but I was determined to launch in one month because I’d told everyone I would. And, despite the challenges, I launched on time.

I would’ve taken another month or two to open registration if I hadn’t told everyone about my goal. Every time I thought about stopping work early to enjoy a glass of Chardonnay with my man or procrastinating with an episode of Gilmore Girls, I choose to keep working.

I’m not saying that you have to set improbable goals but think about how much more you might get done if other people are holding you accountable.

Now that I’ve convinced you (hopefully!), let’s dig into some ways you can add more accountability into your business.

1. Get an accountability partner.

Because of apps like Voxer and WhatsApp, it’s easy to check in with someone at the beginning and end of the day.

Simply tell your accountability partner what you want to finish by the end of the day and then check back in when you wrap things up to let your accountability partner know if you got it all done. And, during the day, you can check in with each other or ask for a boost of encouragement if you’re feeling sluggish or uninspired.

Another reason an accountability partner works so well is that it’s inspiring to hear about what other people are working on.

When they’re working on cool things, it makes you want to work on cool things.

I always feel more inspired after a Google hangout with Mayi. Even though we’re usually working on different kinds of projects, just hearing about the big things she’s working on gives me a push to work on my exciting projects.

2. Invest in your business.

One of the reasons that B-School helped me grow my business immensely is because I made the most out of it due to the cost. To register for B-School, you have to make a $1999 commitment and for me, that was an enormous investment.

I decided that if I joined B-School, I would not put off the work and I would do everything I could to make that money back as soon as possible.

It pushed me to work on things I had been putting off (like revamping my email marketing and rewriting some of my copy) and it helped me to focus on high-leverage tasks to make money right away.

What would motivate you to work harder?

What if you invested in that DSLR you’ve been looking at so often that it shows up as one of your favorite web pages? What if you finally registered for that course you’ve been thinking about for the past year? What if you started paying the monthly fee to Leadpages so you could start setting up landing pages and different email opt-ins?

Would that help you to end your procrastination (at least for awhile)?

3. Join a group that works on similar things together.

Have you heard of NanoWrimo? It stands for National Novel Writing Month and the goal is to write a novel in the month of November. You’re supposed to write as much as possible each day without editing too much—the goal is a large word count.

For those of you who aren’t fiction writers, you might think this sounds slightly insane, and to be fair, it is kinda crazy. But, it’s also so much fun and the reason it’s fun is because everyone is working on writing as much as possible, they’re sharing their word counts with each other, they’re encouraging each other, and they do things like Twitter sprints (to write as much as possible in 30 minutes) and live calls.

Many of the participants write a lot more than they would otherwise write if they were working on their own.

This same concept can work for you if you’re a member of Facebook groups or membership programs that encourage you to work on tasks together.

It’s one of the main components of Sunday Society (my membership site for creative enterpreneurs). We all work on a monthly challenge together—past monthly challenges have been creating a painted picture (goal setting and planning), organizing our social media strategies and decluttering our businesses and physical spaces. For October, we’re scheduling a year’s worth of blog posts.

I’m also hosting a ‘writing retreat day’ next week for the group where we all try to get a bunch of business-related writing done. The group is going to work on writing rough drafts of blog posts, sales pages, website copy, or sales funnel copy—most are going to try to write as many blog posts as possible in that day.

We’re going to kick off the morning with a short live call, we’ll have some dance breaks throughout the day, we’ll have some writing sprints (30 minutes of focused time), we’ll be sharing our word counts throughout the day, and we’ll wrap up the day with another short live call to celebrate and share our final word counts. Throughout the day, I’m also going to post writing and editing tips in our private Facebook group and another member who’s a writer and editor is going to post tips as well.

And, I bet this is going to give some members that nudge they need to write their blog posts for the next month or finally write the rough drafts of their sales funnel emails. It’s a way to make this stuff more fun. If you want to join us, you can do so right here.

Whether you join Sunday Society or another group, pick one that will motivate you to get more done than you would on your own and make it more enjoyable.

4. Attend a live event like a conference, retreat or course.

One thing that has pushed me to work harder in the past is attending something live. For instance, when I attended Marie Forleo’s conference, I worked day and night to launch my ebook beforehand and I was able to publish the sales page and email my list about my ebook the day I left for the conference. The entire weekend I was in New York, sales were flowing in. It paid for that trip and more.

One of the studio audience members for my CreativeLive course launched her signature program before traveling to San Francisco because she wanted it available to people who visited her website through watching my course. Another redesigned her website so that it would look more professional if I pulled it up as an example during the course. Another put up her first sales page so that viewers would have a way to work with her if they connected to her during the course.

Attending something live can give you a different kind of accountability, because it’s a real deadline—not one that you’re choosing just to have one.

And, it’s a reward! Retreats and conferences can be a ton of fun.

5. Take a course and do the work while it’s happening.

Lots of people buy online courses and watch a little bit of it or most of it but they don’t do the work. They tell themselves that they’ll do it later, but often, it never happens.

Some courses are self-paced—meaning that you can take them at anytime and get the same experience. Often they include recorded videos that you watch when you have time.

But, if you’re taking a course that has in-the-moment components such as live Q&A calls or an instructor who answers questions in a FB group during the course dates, take advantage of it. Do the work along with the other students instead of saving it for later. Not only does it give you the option to ask questions and get feedback, it ensures that the money and time you spend on it isn’t wasted.

Before you pay for another course, decide that you’re going to do the work as you go through it and you’re not going to buy another until you’re done.

6. Share deadlines and dates.

Want to motivate yourself to launch on a certain date or publish a blog post every Thursday? Tell people.

Let your blog readers know that they can expect you to publish every Thursday. When you wake up on Thursday with a sore throat and an itch to stay under your covers reading a good thriller, you’ll feel guilty because your readers are expecting a blog post and it might be just the thing you need to get it done.

Tell your spouse, accountability partner, Instagram followers, and blog readers when you plan on launching your next big thing. Tell your accountability partner and spouse to check in with you to make sure you’re staying on track. You don’t want to let everyone down, so you’ll be more likely to hit your deadline.

7. Plan your own game day.

When you’re an athlete, like a football player, prepping for a game day often gets you to practice longer and harder. It gives you something to work towards and this is often a missing piece for creative entrepreneurs.

What would your version of a game day be?

For me, it would be speaking at a live event. Whenever I’m speaking or teaching somewhere, I work extra hard leading up to it. I don’t need any extra motivation—the event is the motivation.

For a jewelry designer, this might be selling at a high-end craft show. This might push you to build up your stock that you could also use during the holidays when you’re super busy.

For a pattern designer, this might be showcasing your work at a trade show. This might give you that nudge to create a cohesive pattern set that you can license for fabric designs.

For an artist, this might be teaching at a retreat. This could drive you to create a bunch of art pieces you can use as examples at the retreat which you could later sell. Maybe it even inspires you to add a new revenue stream to your business plan by turning what you teach at the retreat into an online course.

Basically, these “game days” will push you to do more than you’d otherwise do and do your very best work. And, we all could use more of that.

Do you have other ways that you build accountability into your business? Have any of these ideas listed above motivated you to be more productive? Share in the comments below.

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Why You Should Stop Waiting for Someday (And, How to Live the Dream Now)

Why You Should Stop Waiting for Someday

Have you heard of the painted picture exercise coined by Cameron Herold in his book, Double Double?

If not, the short explanation is that you plan out what you want your business and life to look like in three years from now and then you work backwards to make it happen. You include lots of details like how many employees you have and what you do to market your business and what bloggers are sharing your products with their readers.

I changed the exercise for myself by planning for one year out, because of how fast things change in this world. I doubt many of us could really plan for three years away and get it right. I do this exercise about once a year, and I use it as a guidepost for my decision making over the course of that year.

Because I find this exercise fun and enlightening, I had the members of Sunday Society (my membership program for creativepreneurs) write out their own painted pictures for July’s monthly challenge.

Within that challenge some of the members mapped out their dream day—how their perfect day would go from the moment they woke up (even how they woke up) to the time they went to sleep.

One of the Sunday Society members, Inese, decided to live her dream day one day last week and she reported to the group that it gave her a huge boost of energy.

That got me thinking about how so many of us sleepwalk through our lives, hoping that at some point we’ll reach our business goals and be able to have that dream life we’ve been fantasizing about.

But, what if you didn’t have to wait for someday?

What if you decided that one day in this upcoming week you were going to follow your perfect day itinerary? (This is the point where you stop reading and plan out your ideal day if you haven’t done it already.)

If you work a day job, this might mean that you have to live your dream day one day on the weekend. If you have young kids, this might mean that you have to hire a babysitter or drop your kids off with grandma for a chunk of the day. If you’ve grown to dislike your business, this might mean setting it aside for a day to do work that you’re passionate about.

Maybe your perfect day includes something that’s completely out of the question for now such as living and working in Positano, Italy when you currently live in Texas. You can’t include that part but you might be able to take a day trip to the beach to work or you might be able to do all of the things you’d do on that perfect day in Texas, including sipping a margarita at the end of the day on your back porch while doodling in your bullet journal.

The point is to get as close as possible.

Whatever you have to do to give yourself one day next week to live as if you’ve reached your dream life, do it.

You might be wondering what’s so special about this exercise—why you should give up a day’s worth of work or a day of lounging on the couch watching Gilmore Girls.

I’ll tell you why it’s important.

It’ll give you a boost of motivation.

If you give yourself a day to live your dream life, it’ll inspire you to work harder to achieve it.

Once you know what it would be like—what it feels like—it’ll be easier to give the middle finger to procrastination. When your alarm blares the next morning and you consider tossing your alarm clock across the room, you can think back to why you’re getting up early and what it’ll feel like when you reach your business goals.

The next time something awful happens like your website gets hacked or a troll on the internet tells you that you need to hire a stylist because you obviously don’t know how to dress yourself well (yes…both have happened to me), you’ll be less likely to give up, because you know why it’s worth it to keep going.

I didn’t realize it at the time, but years ago, I used to live out my ideal day when I was juggling a full-time job and building a business. About once every three months, I’d take a personal day and I’d spend that day living the dream—waking up without an alarm, working out at the gym across the street from my apartment, writing all day long with short breaks to brew tea and stretch my legs, and ending the day in my fiancé’s arms watching Grey’s Anatomy.

Those days kept me motivated when I woke up exhausted and wanted to stay cuddled under our down comforter instead of getting up at 5am to write for a couple hours before work.

It’s like giving yourself a breath of fresh air. You can see that pinpoint light at the end of the tunnel and realize you can get there.

You can tell how far away you really are.

Here’s the thing about your dream day: you don’t know how far you’ve got to go unless you try. You might realize that you’re much closer than you thought and that you can follow your ideal day itinerary once a week.

You might realize that parts of your ideal day are doable on an every day basis like ending the day with a bubble bath and a young adult fantasy novel or spending 20 minutes meditating before you start work.

Whenever I work with a new one-on-one consulting client, I have them fill out a questionnaire and one of the questions asks them to describe their perfect day. When we start working together, I often ask them how far away they are from achieving it. I also go through it to see if they can start incorporating some of it into their daily lives now.

I had one client who said that her ideal day would start by working on her novel which was actually doable if she got up a bit earlier. Now she starts every weekday by working on her novel. I had another client who wanted to take a walk on the beach each evening and because she lived 10 minutes from the beach, it was achievable right away.

Sometimes we don’t realize how much better we could be living until we give ourselves the chance.

Now, you might be on the opposite side of things where you realize that you’re really far away from living this dream life. That can be motivating, too. It can get you thinking about what you’re willing to sacrifice now to reach your goals in a couple years.

In order to get to my ideal day, I had to give up all luxuries to save money. For almost a year, my husband and I stopped eating out, stopped buying clothes, stopped getting coffee or tea on the way to work, stopped meeting up with friends for a $15 drink at a bar in NYC. We stopped doing anything that cost us money, so that when I left my day job, we’d have savings to fall back on.

At the time, it felt like we were giving up a lot but we both think it was 100% worth it.

If your dream is really far away, is there anything you could sacrifice now to get closer?

We all make choices every day that either gets us closer or further away from the life we crave to live. What choices will you make today?

You’ll see if this is really the dream or if you’ve romanticized something that you don’t actually enjoy.

Sometimes we glamorize something that becomes a let down in real life. Maybe you thought you’d want to work from home by yourself but realize that it feels too lonely or maybe you thought you wanted to sell handmade jewelry for a living but realize that you become bored when you spend an entire day on it.

Maybe you have a reality check when you figure out that in order to live this ideal life you’d have to send your kids to a daycare or hire a nanny and that’s not something you want to do. Or, maybe you figure out that you have to be willing to network with other creativepreneurs and the thought of reaching out to other girl bosses makes your armpits start to sweat.

Almost always when I work with a creative entrepreneur who quits her day job, there is a tremendous struggle. Part of the time they can’t believe this is their life—that they get to do what they love day after day. And, part of the time they’re terrified or wondering if they made the right choice when they hit a bunch of bumps.

The grass always looks greener on the other side but is it really? In order to find out, you’ve got to give it a go.

I’m not naïve enough to think that spending one day in your dream world will make you realize you don’t want it. That’s why I also recommend that you live your ideal day as often as possible. Don’t do this just once—try doing it at least once a month (once a week is even better). That’s how you’ll figure out what you love and what you don’t.

You can make changes based on experience.

If you keep your head down and work hard without checking in with yourself on a regular basis, you might wind up creating a business and life that you don’t really love.

Maybe you realize that instead of working an extra hour in the evenings, you’d like to spend that time doing something fun with your kids like playing board games or going to get ice cream sundaes or reading Harry Potter.

Maybe you realize that pieces are missing—that you haven’t thought about the admin tasks and how they’d get done. You realize that you’ll need to include hiring an assistant and accountant in order to live more of these ideal days.

Regardless of whether you can start living most of your ideal life right now or if you can only include small pieces, remain aware of how you feel in the moment. It’s easier than most think to build a business and life that you end up resenting. If you continuously check in with yourself, you can make changes along the way and build the right business (and life) for yourself.

I’d love to know the CliffNotes version of your ideal day. What are some of the things that have to be included for it to be a dream day? Share in the comments below!

Want more information about Sunday Society, how you can join and work through these monthly challenges with a group of creative women? Click here.

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Why Some Make It and Others Don’t

Why Some Make It and Others Don't

Do you ever think about why some entrepreneurs make it and others don’t?

Maybe you wonder why others have found success when you haven’t? You might put in the same amount of time and effort. Your products or services might even be better than your competitors, but somehow they’ve reached their business goals and you haven’t.

You feel like everybody else knows the secret handshake that lets them onto the gravy train and you’re stuck on the outside begging for a seat in the cattle car.

If you feel as if you’ve been trying to get to the next level in your business for a long time and it’s not working, please watch the video I created for you today.

Over the past six years, I’ve worked with thousands of creative entrepreneurs just like you through one-on-one consulting, group coaching, retreats and courses. While working with those creatives, one of the things I’ve tried to figure out is why some make it and others don’t. And, it’s not what you think it might be.

I’ve come to the conclusion that it’s mainly two things that separate the haves from the have-nots. I discuss them both in today’s video:

I’d love to know if there’s anything you’ve been ignoring because it’s hard to deal with and how you plan on changing it. Share in the comments below.

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Behind the Scenes: Making Tough Business Decisions


You know the creative itch?

It’s that nagging sensation you get when you want to add a new product or service or project to your business plan. Creative entrepreneurs tend to get those itches a lot and unfortunately there’s no cream or antibiotic for this kind of itch.

We come up with so many ideas that we’re excited about that we leave some projects unfinished and we move on before we’ve given the thing we’re currently working on our very best.

I’ve done it. But I’m determined to not repeat my mistakes, and this particular mistake really impacts your success.

Over the past couple of months I’ve had to make some tough decisions about the future of Blacksburg Belle and my latest project, Sunday Society. Because you seem to love when I show you behind the scenes of Blacksburg Belle, I decided to take you through the process of how I make some of my big decisions. Watch today’s video to get the scoop:

Here’s the link to the podcast episode I mentioned in this video. I highly recommend you give it a listen while folding your laundry this week. (I could listen to Amy talk 24 hours a day–she has such a soothing voice.)

If you want to check out the details for Sunday Society, you can find them all right here.

I’d love to know your thoughts on when you decide to add another project or product to your business plan. Have you made the mistake of adding new things waaaaay too early before? Leave it all in the comments below. Thanks for watching!

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5 Signs Your Email Opt-In Needs a Makeover

5 Signs Your Email Opt-In Needs a Makeover

The set it and forget method hardly ever works in business.

If you set up your email opt-in a year ago (or a few months ago or a few years ago) and haven’t tweaked it since, you’re missing a huge opportunity. As I explained in my last blog post, there is no excuse for not putting effort into email marketing—no matter what type of business you have.

There also isn’t any excuse you can give me for not working to improve your email marketing that would fly with me.

I have not worked with a single entrepreneur who wouldn’t get closer to her business goals if she put more effort into email marketing.

Think about your business goals. Would email marketing help you reach them?

Let’s say you want to be taken seriously as a speaker and want to be invited to all the high-profile conferences in your niche. You need an email list to back you up—to prove that people care about what you have to say.

Let’s say you want to quit your day job in order to pursue family photography. Wouldn’t your spouse be more supportive if you had hundreds or thousands of possible clients on an email list who consistently book you for photo sessions?

Let’s say you want to land a book deal. You need an email list to show publishers that people love your writing and will buy your book.

Even though email marketing will help you make your business dreams come true, I work with creatives every single day who spend less than an hour on email marketing in a month.

If you’re one of them, decide that you’re going to put in the work. Be brutally honest with yourself as you read through this blog post to see if you need to update your email opt-in.

Let’s jump in. Here are five signs that your email opt-in (the design, the copy, the freebie) isn’t working:

1. Your email list isn’t growing.

First, I want to make it clear that this takes time. You can’t expect to set up your opt-in form and have a list in the thousands within a few months.

But, you should expect to see some growth. If not, you should ask yourself the following questions:

a) Is the design of my opt-in form attractive?

If not and you don’t have the skills to improve it, you should hire a designer for this one piece on your website. It’ll totally be worth the $100-$300.

b) Is the copy (promotional writing) something that grabs my ideal customer’s attention immediately?

If not, you should spend as long as it takes rewriting it and making it better. You could even hire a copywriter to give you suggestions or write it for you.

c) Is my freebie something my ideal customer can’t resist?

Lots of entrepreneurs slap something together to get going without creating the BEST freebie for their ideal customers. Take this month to improve and update your freebie and watch your list multiply.

d) Am I marketing my email list?

Yes…you have to promote your list. You should be talking about it in interviews, in the bio of your guest posts, in your blog posts and on social media. If you’re not working to get more people on your list, it won’t grow.

2. Your daily subscriber opt-in count isn’t increasing.

I don’t mean your total number of subscribers. I mean the amount of subscribers opting in each day—that number should be growing. This will ebb and flow. For example, if you write the best guest post you’ve ever written for a popular blog, you can expect your daily opt in count to grow a ton over a couple weeks and then start to trickle back down to normal.

But, if you’re averaging three new subscribers per day for over six months, then you know it’s stagnant.

What usually happens is that your subscribers enjoy your freebie and follow-up emails so much that they recommend it to others. They start to promote your blog posts and emails. And, if other people are recommending your emails, your daily count should grow.

If your daily opt-in rate isn’t becoming larger, you need to ask yourself these questions:

a) Why aren’t people recommending my emails?

b) Am I not doing my best work? Am I sending emails just to send them instead of making each one something I know my subscribers will love and gush over?

If you’re guilty of phoning it in, that needs to stop now. This is one of the most important pieces of your marketing strategy, so make sure you’re putting in the time it deserves.

3. Subscribers don’t download or click on your freebie.

Let’s say that your list is growing and your daily opt-in count is growing, but a very small percentage of your new subscribers actually download or click on your freebie. That’s not good.

You want new subscribers to use your freebie ASAP so they become more aware of your brand (and how awesome you are) and they start the habit of opening your emails and clicking on links.

If they ignore your welcome email, they might totally forget why they signed up for your email list in the first place. They might ignore most of your follow-up emails or report you for SPAM because they don’t even remember signing up to receive your emails.

If this is happening, you need to answer these questions:

a) Does my welcome email headline grab new subscribers’ attention?

It has to compete with all the emails your subscribers are receiving so you shouldn’t use the standard, “Welcome!” for a subject line. Give them a reason to click to open your email right now.

b) Does my ideal customer really want the freebie I’m providing?

Maybe in the moment they sign up but realize they actually don’t want to read another ebook or download another printable they’ll never actually print. Or, the excitement wears off and they never download.

c) Is the writing in my email enticing?

You’re still selling in your welcome email—you’re selling your freebie, you’re selling your brand and you’re selling them on staying on your email list. You’ve got to immediately capture the attention of new subscribers with your words.

4. Subscribers don’t open your follow-up emails.

This tends to happen a lot. You get a bunch of subscribers onto your list. They love your freebie but then they stop opening your emails (or even unsubscribe from your list).

If you fall into this category, you need to answer the following:

a) Is my freebie attracting my ideal customer?

At first, it seems like it is because your list is growing, but wouldn’t your ideal customer stick around and open up your follow-up emails? Let’s say that you got over a thousand new subscribers onto your list with a giveaway. Nice work! But, if they only came for the chance of getting something for free, you’re not attracting people who are willing to give you money. Those are two very different things.

b) Have I stopped putting my best work into my emails?

As soon as you stop creating emails that your subscribers love and can’t wait to open, you lose their attention. You become just another email in their inbox that’s cluttering things up. I know that sounds harsh but it’s the reality.

c) Do my subject lines provoke curiosity and get subscribers to click?

Lots of entrepreneurs make the big mistake of putting all their effort into writing a great email and then pick the first subject line they think of instead of putting the same effort into writing a click-worthy subject line. If you can’t get them to click and open, you’ve already lost the battle.

5. Subscribers don’t convert into customers.

No matter how many subscribers you actually get on your list and how many open and love your emails, if they don’t convert into customers, all that work is for nothing. You’re running a business and that means you need to constantly bring in new customers.

If you’re not converting your subscribers into customers, you should answer these questions:

a) Is my freebie attracting people who will eventually give me money?

Your freebie might be great but if it doesn’t get people onto your list who will actually buy your products, you need to change it.

b) Am I directly selling to my subscribers?

Some creatives are so terrified of ‘turning people off’ that they hardly ever sell to their subscribers. They feel bad being ‘sales-y’ so they don’t even try. If this is you, please get over yourself. Your subscribers signed up to your email list knowing that you would probably sell to them. They want to know when you release a new product, they want you to remind them where to buy your stuff, and they want to know when you host a sale.

c) Does my sales copy need some work?

You might be great at writing emails when you’re not trying to sell your stuff but turn into a ‘sales robot’ when you talk about your upcoming launch or why they should buy your latest product. You have to get comfortable with selling and/or hire a copywriter who can help you sell.

I hope this helps you figure out why your email opt-in isn’t working or if it needs work.

This is something we all need to be consistently working on—there is always room for improvement whether that’s testing out a new welcome email subject line or tweaking your opt-in form design.

Have anything to add or have a question? Leave it in the comments.

Want a place to get feedback on things like your email marketing from other entrepreneurs so you have a better idea of what you need to change? Come check out Sunday Society: Chats, Tea and Fishtail Braids. It’s a membership program for creative entrepreneurs looking for support, encouragement and feedback in a welcoming space. (Plus, we start every live call with a dance party!)

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The Beginner’s Guide to Email Marketing

Copy of 17

You’ve heard about this thing called email marketing. You’ve been told that it’s critical to running a business, but you’ve put it off.

Maybe you’ve procrastinated because you don’t know the first steps to getting started. Maybe you have you no idea which email service to use or how to put an opt-in form on your website. Or, maybe when you think about email marketing, a migraine forms behind your eyes at the thought of even attempting setting it up on your own.

Whatever excuses you’ve used in the past, push them aside and start building your first email list.

This is NOT an optional step if you’re running a business.

If smoke could come out of my ears (like in cartoons), it would happen every single time I work with someone who isn’t utilizing email marketing. It’s the best way to keep your products and services in front of your target market.

And, don’t you even say something like, “Well, I’m on Instagram and post at least once a day there, so I don’t really need email marketing,” or “But, I’ve built a following on Snapchat and that’s where I promote my stuff.”

A social media platform is NOT a substitute for email marketing for a few reasons:

1) You don’t control the platform and if they make changes to it that limits your ability to get your posts in front of your followers (I’m looking at you Facebook!), you’re completely screwed. You should never put your all your eggs in a basket you don’t control.

2) You could get kicked off the platform at any time for any reason. This happens waaaaaaay too often to leave it up to chance. What would you do if you woke up tomorrow and your Instagram/Facebook/Twitter/Snapchat/Pinterest account has been suspended? Weep and drink three glasses of Pinot Grigio at lunch? Save your liver and sanity by getting your social media followers to join your email list.

3) For the most part, your followers don’t check whatever social media platform you’re using as a substitute as often as they check email. I know I check my email more than Snapchat, Pinterest and Facebook combined. I also look at my emails more closely than any other social media app. When I’m scrolling through Instagram, I barely glance at half of the photos and captions.

Marketing on social media is also important, but it shouldn’t take the place of email marketing. When you use them together, you’ll have a much better chance at success.

Ready to tackle email marketing once and for all? Follow the steps below to get started:

Step 1: Choose an email service provider.

Some of the main email service providers are: MailChimp, AWeber, Mad Mimi, Convert Kit, Constant Contact, Ontraport, and Infusionsoft.

I’ve played around with MailChimp but not enough to say whether or not I recommend it. From working with lots of entrepreneurs, I know that the main con of MailChimp is that it’s hard to set up different segments. For example, if you sell jewelry and stationery, you’ll probably want to have two segmented lists so that women who are interested in only your jewelry, only receive emails about your jewelry and vice versa. Don’t worry too much about email segments now, but just know that if you’re going to want to set up different lists within your email system, MailChimp might not be the way to go.

I’ve used AWeber for six years and highly recommend it. It’s not the most user-friendly option available, but if you go through a few tutorials, you’ll get the hang of it pretty quickly. It took me about half of a day to set up my opt-in on my website through AWeber. If you’re going to hire a designer to create your opt-in form, AWeber is a great platform, but it does seem to be one of the harder platforms to create really pretty opt-in forms if you’re inexperienced.

Mad Mimi is a good option for those of you who want your emails to be super pretty. My partner in crime, Mayi Carles, has used Mad Mimi for years and that’s one of the biggest pluses for her.

Convert Kit is very user-friendly and makes setting up different segments incredibly easy. It’s the email service provider I’ve been recommending to most of my clients. The main con with Convert Kit is that it’s not as easy to use lots of visuals within your emails which is a sticking point for some creative entrepreneurs.

I don’t have any experience with Constant Contact, but I read some reviews and it seems like the biggest con mentioned regularly is that it’s not very user-friendly. However, they offer affordable plans and they have hundreds of templates to choose from.

I’ve also used Ontraport. When Mayi and I teamed up to create Connecting the Gaps that was the email service we used. We wanted more options than what AWeber and Mad Mimi provide. Unfortunately, we both felt that it was not at all user-friendly. Maybe things have changed. We haven’t used them for a couple years, but we both struggled with it when we used it. It took me about five times as long to set the same type of thing up in Ontraport than it did in AWeber. (P.S. Marie Forleo uses Ontraport.)

Infusionsoft is one of the most expensive options and also one of the least user-friendly. However, it seems to give you the most options. For instance, you can set it up so that you unsubscribe someone from a promotional list once they’ve bought your WordPress course so they don’t receive anymore sales emails about that course. Or, let’s say that someone clicks on a link to watch a video about a specific topic. You could move them onto the list where you go into more detail about that topic.

I would NOT pick one just because it offers a free trial. Most entrepreneurs that I know who do this end up regretting it when they realize they want to move to another platform and lose a bunch of subscribers in the process. A lot of these providers have budget-friendly options when you’re just starting out and as your list grows, it’ll pay for itself.

Step 2: Go through that platform’s tutorials to learn the backend.

No matter which email service provider you choose, you’re going to have to learn how to create emails, design an opt-in form and add it to your website and more. And, each email service provider is different, so there aren’t many shortcuts to this step. Suck it up and do it, my friend.

Schedule a two-hour timeslot for sometime in the next week to go through the tutorials. That should give you enough information to at least get started.

Step 3: Decide on your opt-in freebie and create it.

An opt-in freebie is the thing you’re going to give away in exchange for the person’s email address.

The biggest mistake entrepreneurs make when creating an opt-in freebie is picking the wrong thing to give away. You want to make it something that your ideal customer can’t resist.

For example, let’s say that you’re a web designer trying to get more web design clients. You might think about giving away a DIY WordPress tutorial to email subscribers, but that won’t attract the right people. That will only attract people who want to design it themselves or don’t have the money to pay a web designer. On the other hand, if you offer a downloadable checklist of the things they need to do before hiring a website designer, you’ll be attracting people who are thinking about hiring someone like you.

That’s a very important distinction.

Some people would tell you to do this later. Not me. If you do this step now, writing your welcome email and designing your opt-in form is going to be a lot easier. If you do this last, you’ll probably have to go back into your welcome email to add the link to your opt-in freebie and some copy about it. And, you’ll probably have to redesign your opt-in form, so that you feature your freebie.

Step 4: Write your welcome email.

Now that you’ve picked your opt-in freebie and created it, it’s time to write your welcome email which is the email your subscribers will receive as soon as they confirm that they want to receive your emails.

You should include your freebie in this email. You want your subscribers to instantly access it so they don’t forget about it.

Also, the copy you use in this email is very important. Do NOT rush this step. This is the first taste your subscribers get of your style. The copy should be branded and filled with personality. It shouldn’t read like any other welcome email. Add some sass or beauty or humor.

If you don’t put much effort into this email, you can expect to lose the attention of many of your subscribers.

Step 5: Design your opt-in form.

Now it’s time for the hard part if you’re not a designer. If you’re doing this step yourself, match it to your branding. Use your fonts and colors and feature the freebie. Keep it simple and get feedback from some of your peers.

If you have the budget for it, I highly recommend getting a professional to design your opt-in form. Five years ago, I hired a designer to create mine for $75 and I instantly saw results—my subscriber counts massively increased.

Step 6: Put your opt-in form on your website.

If you hire someone to design your opt-in form, make sure they’re also willing to put it on your site for you. This will probably take a web design professional a lot less time than it would take you to do it.

If you’re not hiring a designer, once you finish designing your opt-in form, you’ll get the code you need to put on your website. Copy and paste that code where you want your opt-in form on your site.

You should make sure that your opt-in form is placed above the fold (meaning that you don’t have to scroll down to see it) and is one of the most eye-catching things on your site.

Bonus Points:

a) Consider using pop ups.

A pop up is an opt-in form that pops up while someone is on your website. You can set up pop ups in a bunch of different ways such as an opt-in form that pops up after a specific amount of time (such as one minute) or an opt-in that pops up when someone clicks to leave your site.

As a consumer and blog reader, I hate pop ups. As a business consultant, I sometimes recommend them because they absolutely work. If you use a pop up on your website, you will get more subscribers. You have to decide whether or not that’s worth annoying some of your readers.

You can also use pop ups in a way that’s less obtrusive. For instance, you could place the pop up in the lower right corner so that it doesn’t obstruct the blog post when someone is reading.

b) Set up a sales funnel.

A sales funnel is a series of emails that tries to convert subscribers to customers.

When you get your target market on your list, you should take advantage of that opportunity by selling to the people on your list. Want more info on what a sales funnel is and how to set one up? Check out these posts: 1) A Sales Funnel Example and Workbook and 2) Tips for Creating a Successful Sales Funnel.

c) Use email marketing in your current content.

Because most businesses use email marketing, it’s not as easy as it used to be to get people to sign up. If you want your ideal customer to opt in to get emails from you, you can’t just add to the noise and clutter.

You can’t just put an opt-in box on your sidebar and be done with it, even if you have an awesome freebie.

If you’re already creating content on a regular basis (through blog posts or YouTube videos or Facebook Live), add something special to that content that people have to opt in to get.

For example, in a recent blog post titled 75 Done-For-You Blog Post Title Templates, I put together a download with all the templates listed on it. But, I didn’t just add it as a download. In order to access it, you have to hand over your email address. Anyone who wants to print out the list so they don’t have to keep coming back to the blog post to see the templates opts in to get it.

I just started doing this and it’s already increased my subscriber rates immensely.

d) Use landing pages to get more subscribers.

If you spend a lot of time promoting your business on social media, you should consider utilizing landing pages that you can send your followers to. It’ll make it easier to convert those followers into email subscribers. For more information, check out this video: Landing Pages: What They Are and Why You Should Use Them.

I hope this helps you get started with email marketing. Still have questions? Ask them in the comments below.

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Why Haven’t You Done It Already?

Why Haven't You Done It Already?

If I could do a little spell, point my wand (I don’t actually have a wand but I wish I did since Hermione Granger is one of my heroes) and make something happen in your business right now (other than more sales because duh!), what would you choose?

Would you ask for more email subscribers that you can hopefully convert into customers?

Would you want a list of bloggers to pitch guest posts to so that you could get your expertise in front of more people?

Would you request your own CreativeLive course?

Take a moment to really consider this before you keep reading or else you’ll lose a little bit of the magic. (Yes…I’ve probably watched Harry Potter one too many times if you can’t tell.)

Now that you’ve thought about the one thing you’d ask for, I’ve got a question for you:

Why haven’t you gotten it already?

No, this isn’t a trick question.

I really want you to think about it.

If there’s something in your business that you want more than anything else, you should be doing everything that you can to obtain it, right?

So, what steps have you taken this week to get closer to that goal? Have you done anything today to achieve it—even if it was only a small step? (Or, have you flopped down in front of a Friends rerun because you’re tired and you’ll ‘do it tomorrow?’ If that’s the case, give up the ruse now. We both know that tomorrow really means weeks or months from now—if ever.)

Maybe you’ve made excuses for why you haven’t achieved it.

You’re going on day eight of the worst runny nose of your life (summer colds are pretty terrible!). You’re homeschooling two young children. Your day job sucks the life out of you, leaving little else besides the ability to zap dinner in the microwave and lose yourself in Monica and Chandler’s relationship drama.

I get it more than you might know.

But, I also know how to break free of this wretched pattern and take charge of your life and business.

You do it through retaking your product photos because they’re not quite right even though you’ve already spent 80 hours on them. Through taking an extra hour at the end of the day to read Fascinate by Sally Hogshead to learn more about marketing. Through sending out another guest post pitch when you’ve received three ‘no thank you’ emails in a row.

From the outside, many successful businesses look like everything happens easily, but from someone who’s seen the inside of lots of these same businesses, a brand’s Instagram feed or blog posts can be extremely deceiving.

Most businesses only share the shiny parts. But, the shiny parts often only come from many, many messy middles (as my friend, Mayi Carles likes to say).

If you feel like your running up against obstacle after obstacle, you’re not alone. That happens to all of us.

The entrepreneurs who get back up, dust off their rompers and try again are the ones who have all the shiny things to share.

If this is your dream, you can’t let anything or anyone stand in your way.

That sounds extremely corny and I’ve almost deleted this entire post a bunch of times (due to abnormal amounts of corniness), but we all need a wake up call every once in a while.

Ding ding ding. This is yours.

Let’s get back to that thing you want more than anything in your business right now.

How hard are you really working for it?

Are you willing to double or triple your efforts today?

When you get caught up in your daily routines, you often lie to yourself about how hard you’re working. You don’t do this on purpose. It’s human nature.

You tell yourself that you worked as hard as you could when you really spent an hour too long scanning Pinterest instead of using it to market your business. You tell yourself that you couldn’t possibly do anymore when you’ve marathoned every season of Gilmore Girls in less than a month. You gripe about not having enough ‘me time’ even though you hit the snooze button seven times every morning.

Often what’s holding us back is ourselves.

Instead of working as hard as you’ve been for the past six months, amp it up. That might be exactly what you need to actually achieve this goal.

Let’s say that you know you need to get more email subscribers. Most online businesses make the majority of their profits from their email list. It’s important stuff.

So…you know it’s important. What have you done lately to get more subscribers?

Have you used all of your social media platforms to drive more people to your opt-in? Have you pitched a bunch of guest posts, interviews and/or features? Have you created regular blog content that would make someone feel like they have to sign up to get your emails so they don’t miss out?

Have you thought about whether or not you’re using the right opt-in to get the right people on your list? Have you experimented with anything different?

Have you hosted a webinar or tried a giveaway or boosted some Facebook posts?

If not, you’re not trying hard enough.

I know that’s hard to hear.

And, you might be coming up with excuses as you’re reading this. Maybe you’re saying something like, “She doesn’t get my situation,” to yourself.

Stop whining. Stop complaining, And, for holy guacamole, stop making excuses.

This is your one life. It’s not a dress rehearsal. Do you really want to spend it miserable in a day job that you hate or underperforming and underachieving? Is that the legacy you want to leave?

Make a pact with me right now. Over the next month, triple your efforts to achieve that one thing you thought about when you started reading this post. See what happens.

You might just realize that if you work hard enough, you can achieve anything. I know, I know…more corniness. But, it’s the truth and I want you to live your life on purpose, doing everything you can to make the most of every day.

So, what’s the one thing you’re going to triple your efforts in achieving this month? Leave it in the comments of this post so we can send you lots of positive vibes and cheer you on.

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