I have a question for you that I really want you to consider.
Over the past year, how much of your time has been spent just keeping up with things?
Rushing to publish your weekly blog post. Deciding to host a black Friday sale a week beforehand. Taking a so-so photo for your daily Instagram update.
You probably have the best intentions.
You want to be the type of entrepreneur who plans her blog content at least three months out and has two backup blog posts in case of an emergency.
You’d love to put together an onboarding process for new clients so that they feel like they made the right investment as soon as they pay you.
You’ve got an amazing idea for hosting an Instagram challenge to grow your following and connect with other creatives.
But, then you get hit with real life.
You scramble through most days, working in your business instead of on your business.
When you work in your business, you do things like posting a quote on Facebook, answering emails for an hour, packaging and shipping two new orders and pinning five new things to your bullet journal ideas board on Pinterest.
When you work on your business, you do things like plan and prepare for your annual sale, decide how you’re going to grow your email list in 2017, and book a speaking engagement you’ve dreamed of getting.
Working in your business feels like a mad dash to get through your to-do list, like there’s never enough time to get it all done. Working on your business feels like progress, like your business is moving forward and you’re actually accomplishing things.
So, how do you move from always working in your business to working on your business?
Smart question, my friend.
You have to decide to work differently.
Instead of letting new orders, emails and social media notifications dominate your day, you have to take back control.
Of course you can’t stop shipping your products or answering emails, but you can choose when you’re going to do those tasks.
This past summer, I realized that two things were running my life: email and Voxer.
I kept my email open almost all day (even though I always tell people NOT to do this) and I checked for new messages at least a few times every hour as if any email is so important that it needs to be answered within seconds.
And, Voxer is the app that I use to communicate with my lovely virtual assistant, Amanda Sue. It’s kind of like using a walkie talkie: you press a button and talk and it makes a beeping sound to let the other person know they have a message.
It makes my life a lot easier, because I can easily explain something in less than a minute instead of having to type it all out via email. But, it soon became something that was taking up way too much of my time.
While I enjoy chatting with Amanda Sue (we both love young adult novels and DWTS and Gilmore Girls which means we could basically talk all day every day!), talking back and forth on Voxer about non-work related things was gobbling up my work time.
So, I stopped cold turkey.
I let Amanda Sue know that I wasn’t going to check email, social media or Voxer until lunchtime. This gave me a few hours in the beginning of the day to get important things done and I spent a lot more time working on my business instead of in it. My productivity increased immediately.
The other stuff still gets done.
I reply to emails and check in with my virtual assistant and respond to people on social media. I just don’t stop what I’m working on to reply. I set aside two 30-minute blocks of time for email, Voxer, and social media.
You have to decide that your time is valuable and treat it that way.
When you check your email and every social media notification that lights up your phone, you’re pretty much saying that your time isn’t worth much.
We live in a world filled with noise created by millions of people who want your attention. They want you to like their photos and reply to their emails and watch their videos and comment on their FB posts. If you give other peoples’ wants and needs priority over your own, you’re going to struggle to get anything worthwhile done.
That’s the first part of the equation: actually making time for the most important parts of your business and valuing your time.
The second part of the equation is knowing what you need to prioritize during these chunks of time you’re reclaiming.
I’m going to make this part easy for you.
If you’re not reaching your sales or income goals, there’s one area of your business that can make the most impact: email marketing.
If you get strategic about growing your email list and selling to your subscribers, you can drastically improve your sales.
Did I just hear you groan?
Before you click over to YouTube to watch another cute kitten video, give me a few more minutes.
No matter what type of business you run, email marketing can make or break it. Every successful (a.k.a., making a full-time income from her business) creative entrepreneur that I’ve had the pleasure of getting to know makes the majority of her money from her email list except for one who makes the majority of her income from wholesale orders.
That means that if you want to increase your sales in 2017, you’ve got to get serious about email marketing.
The people who sign up to receive emails from you are your biggest fans. They want to know when you have new products, when you’re having a sale, and when you publish new content.
They’ve raised their hands to say, “I want to hear from you on a regular basis.”
Now, it’s your job to take care of them—to send them valuable, entertaining content, to let them know about your new products and to give them a heads up about your cyber Monday sale.
It’s also your job to grow your list.
You want to get as many people in your target market on your list as possible.
Once you get people who are interested in your brand onto your list, you can convert them into customers through regular content and sales funnels.
If you’re looking over your sales for this past year and you’re bummed by the lack of digits, email marketing is your answer. It’s the way to change things so that when you’re looking at your sales this time next year, you’re feeling proud and have something to celebrate.
Because I know how important email marketing is to creative entrepreneurs, I made it the focus of my membership program, Sunday Society, this month.
Throughout the month, the members have been strategically planning their email marketing for 2017, including brainstorming one way they’re going to grow their email lists and one way they’re going to sell to their email lists each month in the next year.
For example, the growth strategy in January could be using FB live to promote a content upgrade and the sales strategy might be highlighting a best-selling product from 2016.
The members got a short intro video, a workbook and a five-page cheat sheet with ideas on how they can grow and sell to their lists.
If you feel like you need some help in this area, it’s not too late to join us.
As soon as you join Sunday Society, you’ll get instant access to all of it, along with a community of women who want to help you succeed.
You can also do this activity on your own. (It probably won’t be as fun or as easy, because it’s a lot more fun doing this work with other creatives.)
But, you could sit down today and decide the ways you’re going to grow your email list and sell to your email list next year. In fact, I highly recommend it.
This is one effective way to work on your business instead of in your business. It will absolutely help you have a more successful year in 2017.