I have a love-dislike relationship with the beginning of the year.
I love that most people are in a positive, goal-oriented state of mind. I love that my favorite stores have amazing sales (hello, Anthropologie!). And, I love the ‘I get to start fresh’ feeling floating through the air.
I dislike going out to lunch with friends and feeling a tad bit guilty that I’m the only one not ordering a salad consisting of iceberg lettuce, two cherry tomatoes, a sprinkling of carrot shreds and two pieces of congealing grilled chicken with low-fat, no taste dressing on the side.
I dislike that yoga classes fill up a week in advance with people who won’t be there in a couple months cause they’ve given up on fitting into their skinny jeans. Who needs skinny jeans when you’ve got Friends on Netflix, right?
And, I really dislike when dreaming gets in the way of action.
Don’t get me wrong. I’m all for dreaming BIG.
But, it can turn into a cycle of procrastination uglier than your great aunt’s extra large baby pink silk granny panties that are riddled with unidentified stains and have a hole in the crotch as large as your fist.
You know what I mean.
The people who dream and plan and research for hours upon hours, leaving no time to actually do anything they plan or dream about.
I groan every time I read an email or social media update that says something like, “I’m going to start my business in six months after I finish my research” or “I’m going to create my first digital product in three months after I finish taking an Illustrator course, researching the competition and planning it out.”
Yes, there is absolutely a need for planning and research. But, don’t use it to procrastinate.
Dreaming and researching isn’t going to pay for a new Macbook Pro or medical bills or the ticket to that retreat you really want to attend to hang out with other creative entrepreneurs.
In the beginning of your business, it’s important to start making money for a few reasons: 1) It gives you a boost of confidence that you can do this. 2) You can pay your bills and invest in your business. 3) You can send that blogger who gives you great advice an Anthropologie gift card. Insert diabolical laugh here. (Just kidding.)
But seriously. You’re running a business, so money is an important factor.
With today’s post, I’m going against the grain of the normal “how to achieve your goals in 2015” or “my dreams for this year” blog posts you see at the beginning of every year.
Instead, I’m going to give you five actionable tasks you can do this month to start making money from your business.
You ready to stop dreaming about earning money from your passion and actually do it?
Did you say yes or just grumble?
Once more with enthusiasm?
Okay! Here we go:
1. Ask for the sale.
Before you give me the ‘but I don’t want to come across as too salesy’ excuse, I’ll let you in on a little secret. Business is about selling things. You provide a product or service and in return you get money. Fancy concept, right?
I can’t tell you how many times I’ve worked with creative entrepreneurs who have NEVER really sold their stuff to their blog readers, email list, or social media following for fear of sounding too pushy.
These people fall into the ‘I hope they find me and fall in love and buy my products’ business death trap. Ninety-nine percent of the time, it doesn’t work.
Depending on the size of your email list, blog readership and social media following, you can probably get at least a handful of sales if you…yep, you guessed it…sell to them.
Mark a day in your calendar right now to send an email to your list and publish a blog post in which you highlight and sell your best-selling product from last year. People want what’s popular, so letting your audience know what your best-selling product is can boost your sales.
(If you didn’t have any products to sell last year, you can still do this step. Just pick the product you’re the most proud of right now and highlight it.)
Tip to make this work for your business:
Don’t JUST sell. Tell a story. Write with charisma and personality. Spend time on the email/blog post, carefully choosing each word. Entertain or educate and then sell.
2. Launch your next product or service.
Instead of simply adding your next product to your offerings or Etsy shop, launch it. Build up anticipation through social media updates, blog posts, emails, guest posts, videos, and interviews.
When you release your next product, you’ll have a group of people ready to buy. Cha-ching!
Don’t let the word “launch” intimidate you. You’re the boss which means you decide how big or small your launch will be. It could be as simple as posting on your Facebook wall three times, sending out five tweets, publishing two blog posts and sending one email newsletter.
If you work on your launch material for twenty to thirty minutes a day, you can get all of the above done in a couple weeks.
Tip to make this work for your business:
When planning your launch content always keep in mind that: 1) You want everything related to the launch to prime to your audience to buy. 2) You want to attract your ideal customer to your product which means you need to “know” her really well and speak to her.
3. Consider what worked last year.
Jot down the things that you did to market your business last year. What worked the best? Do that again (or something similar) this month.
My top marketing strategies last year were (in no particular order): speaking engagements, boosted Facebook posts, well-written emails/blog posts that contained a link and brief introduction to a product, frequently asked questions emails and blog posts, blog tours, and interviews.
If I ever want to boost my income, I know I can pick one (or more) of those things and I’ll most likely see an increase in sales.
4. Strategically use social media.
We both know that social media can either help or hinder a business. If you’re always wasting time on social media, it’s a hindrance but if you have a plan and stick to it, social media can absolutely help you increase your income.
For this month, pick one social media platform to focus on (preferably the one that your target market frequents and that you enjoy using), spend thirty minutes developing your plan for the next thirty days focusing on building your following and selling your products, and spend ten to fifteen minutes a day implementing your plan.
Example: Let’s say you’re a jewelry designer and you want to focus on Pinterest for the month. The beginning of your plan might look like this: establish boards that your target market will want to follow, pin 20-50 pins a day including one of your jewelry items each day (that links to where people can buy it), and write a blog post about why your blog readers should follow you on Pinterest.
You’d want to get even more specific but that’s a pretty good direction to start. By the end of the month, if your strategic plan worked, you’ll have made sales from people who found you and/or follow you on Pinterest.
Whenever I do this, it works for me. If I’m focusing on Facebook, I’ll notice more traffic and sales coming from Facebook. If I’m focusing on Pinterest, I’ll see that more traffic and sales are coming from Pinterest. It’s all about making a plan and sticking to it.
5. Collect and use testimonials.
Most of us have been burned from buying online (shame on you ebay seller who sold me a Vera Bradley purse ten years ago, took my money and never sent me the purse) and we don’t want a repeat of that experience.
One of the best (and easiest) ways to build trust is to share the lovely things your customers say about your products and business.
When people see that others have bought from you, received what they expected to get, and really enjoyed their experience with your business and products, there’s a level of comfort that helps them hand over their credit cards.
Think about your online purchases.
Do you read reviews? Do they sway your buying habits?
Aren’t you more likely to buy that gel nail polish when you read that other women love it and don’t mind paying more because they only have to paint their nails once a week or less because their nails don’t chip and always look shiny and newly polished?
It’s human nature.
Collect five testimonials for one of your products. Add them to the product description or sales page. Then, highlight the best testimonial in your next email newsletter or blog post.
Tip for making this work for your business:
Ask specific questions to get quality testimonials. (Examples: What is your favorite feature of ________________? Why? Would you recommend this to a friend? If so, why?)
There you have it: five ways to start making real money from your business this month. If you can only do one, that’s totally fine. If you can do them all, you’ll see that they build upon themselves. Get ready for an influx of cash!
Share in the comments below an action that you’re taking in the next thirty days to make money from your business. I’d love to hear your plans for making 2015 a profitable year.
If you want to join myself, Bonnie Christine, Lisa Jacobs, Kerry Burki, and Paige French at the Movers and Makers Summit February 27th to March 1st, secure your spot here. The early bird price ends in four days and almost half of the spots are already claimed. It’s going to be an amazing weekend.
You can find all the details here.