A Free Ebook Full of Insider Secrets for Coaches and Creatives

 Insider Secrets for Creatives Book Cover

Two bonuses for newsletter subscribers this month! A special discount code to Creative Market PLUS a 56-page ebook of insider secrets! Interested? Read on!

Did you follow along with The Jump Blog Tour that I participated in during January? Remember how I shared 10 ways to expand your small business? If you don’t remember, it was hosted by Stephanie Hall and Ashley Wilhite to get the word out about their ecourse for new coaches & creatives. Which is amazing by the way!

For the entire month, 23 brilliant bloggers shared their secrets on brand consistency, work/life balance, investing in yourself, creativity, standing by your rates, authenticity and SO much more! THEN Stephanie and Ashley compiled all of these posts into an awesome, interactive 56-page ebook full of these big-time secrets!

Want a copy of Inside Secrets For New Coaches + Creatives? I’ll be sending it out in my next newsletter, so if you are not already subscribed, sign up before it goes out on Monday!

If you want to take your blog to the next level, build better habits, learn a few design tricks, or hear behind-the-scenes stories of how these ladies started their businesses, you’re going to want to check this out. Once you read through the ebook, comment here telling me what you discovered! 

 

Blogging With Intention

Quality Over Quantity - Blogging With Intention Tips Plus Free Worksheet

With the new year comes a new set of goals you promise yourself you’re going to reach this year – you’re going to simplify, organize your life, grow your business and make time for what matters most. 

But when you’re trying to expand your small business, you can get stuck in the everyday muck of catching up on emails, putting together proposals, planning your blogging calendar and putting the finishing touches on that blog post you wanted to have up yesterday. It’s hard to keep up with the everyday stuff and make time for the big things you want to accomplish too. 

While blogging is an important aspect of growing your small business, blogging without passion just to have a post up on your site is the wrong way to go about growing. Lucky for us, there’s a trending idea in the blogging world: blogging with intention. 

It’s writing posts that contain all original content, it’s researching the topic and coming to your own conclusion and it’s blogging only when you devote the time and passion it takes to write a great post, even if it’s only once a week or once a month. 

Here are some ways to craft a quality, well thought out, intentional blog post: 

1. Do Your Research

When planning out your posts, draw up an outline and schedule in time to do some research behind the topic you’re writing about. The more you can share with your readers, the more they’ll feel like they got something out of your post.

For example, if you’re featuring a certain artist on your blog, do some research on their story – share how they got started, the idea behind their brand and what their design process is. If they use a particular technique with their work, research the technique and share that with your readers as well. Reach out to them to get the answers to those questions, or do your own research to find those answers.

Anyone can share an image of the artist’s work, but if you can get the story behind that particular piece, you’ll add more value to your post. Make sure you cite where you found your information and give credit wherever you can. 

When you add research to your process, the quality of your posts will increase and you’ll be providing your readers with real information they’ll want to bookmark and share. 

2. Only Write About Topics That Inspire You

If you’re not inspired by the posts you’re writing, it’s time to take a look at the type of content you’re blogging about. One way to fix this is to go back to the beginning of your business and ask yourself some questions. Why did you want to get started? What inspired you back then? Has that inspiration grown or changed at all?

If you go back to the root of why you started and what inspired you most back then, you might be able to come up with some great blog post ideas that won’t leave you procrastinating to get the post written. Focus on just writing about topics you like to talk about or are interested in exploring more, and go from there.  

3. Use Your Own Photos

One way to really slow down and take your time with blogging is to create an entirely original post – sharing both your own ideas and your own photographs. While throwing together recap posts or inspiration boards with other people’s images or post content (while properly crediting them, of course) is still very popular, when you create an original post you’re putting something out on the web that hasn’t been seen before.

I’ve noticed that the posts I’ve provided original content for have been pinned and re-pinned more times than any of my themed inspiration boards or style posts – pinned DIY projects and design projects I’m working on bring more people to my website than just about any other source. 

THE WORKSHEET

[download id="64" format="10"] to help you get started!

 Coming up with all original content for your posts definitely takes more time, but your readers will be able to tell that you spent more time on the post and it will hopefully bring some additional traffic back to your website after it gets shared around the web.

When you’re blogging with purpose about topics you really want to talk about, you’ll add value to your brand, contribute some amazing new things to the internet and save yourself the stress from trying to throw together 5 posts a week.

The first few months of the new year are a great time for starting new habits, slowing down and focusing on what you really want to accomplish this year. If you’re blogging with intention you’ll have better chance of accomplishing your goals, and you’ll enjoy blogging even more.

What are your blogging goals for this year? How will you slow down and blog with more passion and intention? Share your ideas in the comments! 

For Bloggers: WordPress Plugins

My Favorite WordPress Plugins

I’ve been asked a few times what WordPress plugins I use to do certain things on this site, so rather than respond to individual emails, I thought I’d share with all of you guys!

First, a few notes on plugins in general: they are super easy to install and great for adding features to your blog even if you don’t know how to code BUT they can slow down your site. To prevent this, only add the ones that are necessary and delete plugins if you decide not to use them. Sometimes a plugin can cause conflicts within your site so always install one at a time and backup your site regularly.

Comments

I try to reply to every comment left on my blog to keep the conversation going so using Comment Reply Notification is a great way to make sure that the commenter sees my reply. It automatically sends an email to anyone who has received a reply to their comment. 

Pin It Button

You’ve probably seen this in action a lot by now, a pin it button that hovers over images making it convenient for readers to pin images. I use jQuery Pin It Button For Images for my pin it hover image. The reason I chose this plugin is because of the customization options and that you can use a custom image to match your branding.

Post Footers 

You may have noticed that at the bottom of each of my blog posts, I have the same call to action that points my readers to Facebook, Bloglovin etc. Instead of pasting this content separately into every post I write, I use WP Post Footer which allows you to create a library of code snippets and easily include them at the bottom of posts.

Editorial Calendar

I am a visual person so this plugin is one of my favorites to keep my posts organized. The WordPress Editorial Calendar makes it possible to see all your posts on a calendar and drag and drop them to manage your posting schedule.

Backup

This one is huge because you MUST backup your site! For backup, I use the WP Backup to Dropbox plugin, because it drops my files from scheduled backups right into a folder in Dropbox!

SEO

I’m pretty lazy when it comes to my SEO but the All in One SEO Pack makes it a little easier on me. It has fields at the end of each post for you to fill in to help optimize your WordPress site for Search Engine Optimization.

 

These are just suggestions and what works best for me. There are usually several plugins that do the same thing, so do your research and some testing to see which works bests for your needs!

I hope this was helpful! Do you have any favorites that weren’t mentioned here? Please share!

plug icon designed by Ben Johnson from the Noun Project

10 Ways To Expand Your Small Business

Today I’m excited to join the Jump Blog Tour, hosted by Stephanie Hall and Ashley Wilhite, the co-creators of Jump: Into your business, your life, your dream, a must-have digital guide for new coaches and creatives. They believe in the transformational power of taking the jump and creating a business you love. This all-inclusive eBook will teach you how to start a business, find your niche, brand like a pro, and make the jump with confidence.

10 Ways To Expand Your Small Business

For those of you who don’t know how I made the jump, I’ll give you a little background. I got a job right out of college at a great advertising agency and gained a lot of experience in my four years there. However, a time came when I was no longer growing or enjoying the type of work I was doing so I decided it was time to move on. Rather than looking for a position at another agency, I decided to go freelance and pursue the type of work I was interested in. I started getting connections by doing pro bono work while I still had my agency job and it transitioned into full-time freelancing in 2010. 

Over the years, I have been slowly branching out and really trying to perfect my dream business. First of all, I don’t want to have all of my eggs in one basket. If I happen to have a slow month with custom design clients, I want something else ready to supplement my income. I’m also not just going to sit around and wait for people to come to me with work. Each year I continue to branch out and expand my business. Here are ten things that can help you to expand your small business:

1. Grow your offerings, products and services

Think of new and different ways can you serve your customers. Maybe you can add entry and advanced levels to your current options. Think of logical extensions of what you currently offer. You want to keep your clients coming back for more, so what else can you offer them?

2. Take a class

I am continuously learning about design and striving to be better. Taking local classes also doubles as networking but if you don’t have access to any, there are some amazing resources online! My favorites are Skillshare and Lynda.

3. Create a passive income stream

It’s really great to have some income, with little effort required to maintain it. You could sell products on Etsy, use affiliate marketing, sell digital files, downloads or ebooks.

4. Start a blog or new blog post series

Blogging not only helps with SEO but is also an amazing way to get your business out there and position yourself as an expert in your field. Guest blogging is also a great way to get your name out to an expanded market. Not convinced? Read Why You Should Have a Blog For Your Business.

5. Network and collaborate

While online networking is great, you should also really get yourself out there and network in person! Attend a conference or find a local meet-up. Networking is also a good way to find people to collaborate with. If your city doesn’t have a local meet-up, see how to start your own here!

6. Do Pro Bono Work 

As I mentioned, I started my business by doing pro bono work. This made me realize that I love helping my community, small businesses, creatives and entrepreneurs. So I continue to work with clients that I stand behind and that have a positive impact on the community. Not only has this given me a great deal of personal satisfaction, but also so many new connections!

7. Step out of your comfort zone

If your client work doesn’t allow you to do this, start a personal project to spark your creativity. I use my blog freebies to explore design techniques and new ideas. Take on a project that may be out of your comfort zone if it’s something you’ve been wanting to learn about. Remember that you don’t have to add everything to your portfolio just because you did it.

8. Ask for help

You can’t do it all, hire people to do certain things for you and learn to say no to the things you are not interested in. This gives you the time and energy to do the things you love!

9. Teach

This could be as simple as writing a blog post or a more extensive option like writing an e-book, teaching a Skillshare class or even speaking at a conference.

10. Expand client base

Your small business may have great brand awareness in your community, but what’s involved in expanding that awareness to a much larger market? Getting new customers is essential to growing your business. One of the easiest ways to do this is to ask your current customers for referrals. Testimonials from clients are important because without them, potential clients don’t always know your credibility or what you’re like to work with. It’s someone’s outside perspective that gives them the confidence to buy from you instead of moving on to the next website. Here are a few ways to get really great testimonials

Jump Blog Tour

Tell me in the comments below how you are thinking about branching out your business.

P.S. I got to check out a draft of the ebook and it has some amazing stuff in it y’all! Learn all about Jump: Into your business, your life, your dream and pre-order today!

Sprucing Up Your Branding

With 2013 coming to a close, you may want a fresh start for the new year, one with new ideas, new goals and new looks – including a spruced up look for your brand. An updated look for your business can give you the new beginning you are looking for in 2014, but rebranding (even when you don’t have a huge following) can be a lot of work.

Sprucing Up Your Branding Worksheet

Before you invest on a new logo, website, web copy, professional photos and business cards and set up meetings with designers and copywriters and photographers, take a moment to ask yourself these few questions and write your answers on this worksheet I created for you.

1. Why do I want to rebrand?

A fun new logo is always exciting, but ask yourself why you want to rebrand. Are you adding new offerings? Are you trying to reach a different target market that your brand doesn’t appeal to right now? Or do you just need a freshened up look?

Knowing why you want to rebrand is one of the most important things about the rebranding process. Knowing the goals you have set up for your new look will help your designers and developers with their job, and you’ll have a better idea of what you’re looking for in your redesign.

2. Is my customer changing?

If you’re doing a rebrand because your customer is changing, you’ll want to do a profile on who your new customer is going to be. Get to know everything you can about your new customer so you can direct your rebranding efforts specifically to them.

For example, if you’re a photographer who has mainly worked with babies and seniors in the past and you want to rebrand to target brides specifically, you’ll want to find out everything you can about your new ideal customer – what types of photos she likes best, what blogs she reads, where she finds most of her wedding inspiration. When you know all of the specific details about your ideal customer, you’ll know exactly how to talk to her, how to form packages around her wants and where to market your rebranded business.

3. What do I want my new look to say about my brand?

Having a clear idea of what you want your look to say about your brand will always help your designer when you’re getting the branding process started. Having a few examples of brands you admire can help your designer and developers envision the direction you want your look to go.

One way to paint a clearer image of what you want your brand to portray is to start a pinterest board full of brand inspiration. Include pins of colors, patterns and styles that inspire you in your brand, along with images of your ideal customer. This will give you a reference point for all of the design and branding decisions you make in the rebrand process and also comes in handy when making branding decisions down the road.

THE WORKSHEET

Download the [download id="63" format="10"] to write your answers out!

Asking these questions about your new brand image are important in creating a brand that lasts – the more you know about where you want to go in the future will help you with your rebrand right now.  And if you’re all ready to start the rebranding process, make sure you check out Ciera’s great packages – check them out here.

Are you thinking about a new look for 2013? Share how you want to update your brand in the new year!

Four Ways to Spark Your Creativity

Let’s face it – as people with creative businesses, there are times when we feel a lack of vision and innovation. Whether it’s because we’re working on projects that leave us uninspired or we just simply can’t get our creative juices flowing, it’s a slump we don’t want to be stuck in for long.

Four Ways to Spark Your Creativity

It’s something I’ve been struggling with lately, so I’ve come up with four ways to get re-inspired:

1. Try to remember the time when you were feeling the most creative or inspired.

There are moments in our lives when we feel like nothing can stop us and we can’t stop coming up with great ideas. The key to reliving those moments is to figure out what made those moments so special. Where were you at? What were you doing? Who were you with? What were you feeling? Try to recreate that moment as best as you can and you’ll be on the right track to getting your creativity back.

2. Take a class

We’re often inspired by new adventures and meeting new people, so taking a class or doing a workshop will help kick your creativity back in gear. Make something by hand, learn something new and connect with other creative people and you’re sure to get inspired. Some courses to check out are the Alt Summit Classes, Skillshare, Nicole’s Classes and sign up for workshops like BlogShop and Anthro Events.

3. Visit Your Favorite Places

Our surroundings are one of the things that inspire us the most, and we all have places where we feel most inspired. When you’re feeling less creative than normal, it’s a no brainer to visit your favorite places to get yourself going again. Whether you’re influenced by the displays at your favorite store or by a landscape or park you love the most, take time to visit those places, enjoy them and let them motivate you.

4. Spruce Up Your Resources

Just like buying new workout clothes might help you to get back to the gym, new creative resources can help amp up your inspiration. Download some new fonts, explore new color schemes, try out a new program or let a new design book help you dream up new ideas. Something as simple as a new font to play with can totally transform your mood and your work.

 

What do you do when you’re feeling uninspired? Share your tips in the comments!