Wednesday, May 10, 2017 by Shayla PriceWhere’s the money? As a creative entrepreneur—graphic designer, blogger, photographer—you’re always searching for ways to earn more revenue with your talents. To attract more sponsors, try creating a media kit. “The media kit is a great tool because it essentially gives [brands] all the information they could possibly need in one easy-to-navigate document while often cutting our correspondence time in half because it’s already answered most of their questions,” writes Shauna Haider, a creative director, entrepreneur, and blogger. Be proactive about making more money. Tell brands and sponsors you exist with an impressive media kit. Here are five things you should include.
Tuesday, April 25, 2017 by Shayla PriceAn impressive online presence matters. It’s the difference between visitors learning more about you or losing interest in your brand. To grab your target audience’s attention, upgrade your copywriting skills to engage with visitors. “You can’t transform a crappy painting into a masterpiece with a few brush strokes. Likewise, you can’t transform crappy copy into a persuasive message with a few minor tweaks. You need good copy at the heart of your message,” says Nick Kolenda, author of Methods of Persuasion. Effective copy helps your business sell more products, boost brand awareness, and dominate the competition. Try these seven copywriting tips below to create a memorable visitor experience. Sujan Patel, co-founder of Web Profits. Targeted copy will pinpoint the solution you offer visitors. You’re not just a food blogger or a website designer. People want to know how you can help them with their problems. In the image below, The Art of Sculpting tells you exactly how they serve their potential customers—taking their fitness to a new level.
2. Make the Visitor the HeroLet’s set the record straight: your copy isn't about you, your business's achievements, or even your latest TV appearance. If your desire is to transform visitors into leads (or customers), your copy must focus on your audience and their needs. All the copy should center around helping the visitor. It starts with telling a great story and creating a journey that involves the visitor. Much like the movies, the copy will discuss the challenges and the triumphs of the hero. Copy isn’t always about getting someone to take action. It’s also about etching a unique memory into their minds. That emotion will stay with them after they leave your site.
3. Express Your ValueVisitors are interested in knowing how you can change their lives. What value will you provide to customers to improve their outcomes? This value will separate you from the competition. In-home care startup Honor establishes value quickly on its homepage. Their team offers services to help seniors live better, while offering families peace of mind. Be descriptive in your language and avoid the over-the-top tone. It’s perfectly fine to boast about the benefits of your product. However, you don't want to over-exaggerate. “People don’t want to be sold to. Tone down the hype and write your web copy like you’re talking with your ideal customer face-to-face. Your audience can tell the difference, and will be more likely to participate,” says Christina Walker, a professional freelance web copywriter. To show your value, highlight the results of your services. Get people engaged in doing things differently with your business.
4. Craft a Compelling Call to ActionEffective copy leads visitors to your desired next step, and that's where your call to action comes in. Your website consists of several pages with different purposes. If you’ve worked with marketers, they may have suggested creating pages consistent with your sales funnel. For instance, with new visitors, your goal may be to turn them into qualified leads. The call to action might convince your audience to sign up for a free ebook or checklist. While for your returning visitors who already possess interest in your products, the call to action would be a 10% coupon or a bonus gift after an initial purchase. No matter the call to action, it should speak to the audience’s needs and desires. They should be eager to receive your offering and ready to move down the sales funnel.
5. Add Social ProofYour brand centers around perception. It’s about credibility in the eyes of your future customers. They want to know that your products and services are worth their hard-earned money. Moreover, visitors are curious about whether or not they should associate themselves with your brand. With so much competition in the marketplace, sometimes the only differentiator is the prestige and external validation of your brand. People want to be affiliated with success. We buy cars to transport us from one place to another. So why would anyone want to purchase a Lamborghini or a Tesla? Because customers also seek vehicles to represent their status in society. Leverage social proof, like customer testimonials, to influence your audience. Entrepreneur contributor Gail Goodman agrees: “Do you have a great customer quote that you can include in your e-mail? A brief and convincing quote can add credibility to your campaign. The more real you can make the person to your readers, the better.” Check out this example from Backlinko. Brian Dean backs up his expertise with quotes from industry influencers.
6. Avoid JargonHave you ever sat in a meeting where you didn't understand anything? Everyone was talking in your native language, but every word seemed foreign. You probably felt confused or as if you didn't belong. It’s an overwhelming feeling that just makes you want to stand up and exit the room. That’s a similar feeling your visitors experience when landing on a site stuffed with jargon. They don't understand the content, so in a split second, they decide that this brand isn't for them. To keep your target audience interested, you must speak their language. Instead of using unfamiliar terms, stick to words your audience knows. Pay attention to the words your current customers use to describe your business. Use social media to learn how your audience talks about your brand. With this insight, you can create copy that invites them into your website experience.
7. Experiment With Different VersionsYour first draft of copy isn’t your last. Just like other aspects of business, the best way to learn if something works is to test it. So try not to fall in love with your copy. Remember that every word on the page is to help visitors understand you better. It’s important to keep that principle in mind when A/B testing your copy. Experts suggest changing only one variable in your experiments. You might test the headline, then the call to action. If you test everything at once, you’ll lose sight of what your visitors actually like about your copy. Below is an example of an A/B test on the call-to-action-button text. The new variation focused on what the company’s offer provided the visitor. Be willing to experiment with your copy. It’s the best way to learn what connects with your visitors.
Conveying Your Brand MessageWhen visitors land on your site, your goal is to gain their interest and establish trust quickly. Copywriting is a critical component to telling your story to your audience. Write compelling copy that makes every visitor the hero, and use social proof to add to your credibility. Improve your website with better copywriting.
Thursday, April 13, 2017 by Shayla PriceBlogging isn't easy. There’s a common misconception that bloggers just write. And as a full-time blogger for your own site or maybe multiple clients, you know that writing is just one of many responsibilities. Beyond writing creative text, bloggers must develop attention-grabbing topics, create eye-popping visuals, and promote their posts on social media. Plus, there’s the business of blogging that includes tracking time, signing contracts, and collecting payments. That’s why it's so important for bloggers to use tools to make their lives less hectic. Here’s a list of 15 tools every ambitious blogger needs to excel in their craft and business.
1. Hubspot’s Blog Topic GeneratorSo, it’s time to write. You sit down at your computer and stare at it for 30 minutes. You’re experiencing a bad case of writer’s block. The creative juices aren’t flowing. To break through this mental barrier, try using Hubspot’s Blog Topic Generator. This tool will help you generate ideas fast. Type in a few terms in the form. And voila! The generator produces a week’s worth of blog topics.
2. GrammarlyMost writers will agree that writing is only 20% of your job. The other 80% is editing. Writers continue to refine their writing to give readers their best work. It’s how they master the skill. Grammarly makes you a better writer by spotting grammatical errors and offering synonym suggestions. It’s like having a virtual editor. “With Grammarly, we have managed to eliminate almost every type of mistake that could potentially sneak their way through our editorial process. Grammarly has lead us to much higher customer satisfaction rates and fewer headaches for everyone involved in the content creation process,” says James Kosur, chief marketing officer at Presto Media.
3. CoSchedule’s Headline AnalyzerHeadlines rank as one of the most significant parts within a blog post. If you can’t capture people’s attention in a few seconds, it’s likely that your post will never get read. CoSchedule’s Headline Analyzer helps you solve that problem by scoring your titles. The analysis includes the overall structure, grammar, and readability of your headline. Moreover, you’ll learn whether your title needs an added boost of emotion.
4. BuzzSumoBlogging is very competitive with the growing number of content pieces being published every single day. People want their voices heard. To scope out the competition, use BuzzSumo to explore what types of content get traction. Also, learn who is sharing content and how that content compares to your posts. “With BuzzSumo you can type in a specific keyword and get a list of the most shared content related to that keyword. That way you can see what was involved and attempt to duplicate the results (or "10x" as they say),” writes Jordan Lore, a content marketer and PPC manager at Wishpond.
5. CanvaResearch uncovers that content paired with a relevant image boosts people’s retention of the information by 65%. Therefore, it’s essential that your blog post contains jaw-dropping visuals. With Canva, you can produce high-quality graphics for your post. Choose from millions of images and hundreds of fonts. It’s drag-and-drop feature makes designing easy for beginners. If you ever need inspiration, check out the brand’s interactive tutorials.
6. Keyword PlannerHow will your target audience find your content? It all starts with boosting your organic search traffic. Google’s Keyword Planner is effective for forming keyword ideas, viewing historical statistics, and generating traffic forecasts. “Google’s Keyword Planner is a great place to start plugging in keywords that are relevant to your site to see what the competition for each of those keywords looks like. This will help you eliminate the ones you shouldn’t be optimizing for and select the ones that can work best to drive traffic to your site,” states Forbes contributor Jia Wertz.
7. Sprout SocialContent promotion amplifies the reach of your work. So it makes sense to use social media because it helps spread your message to a diverse audience. However, managing multiple platforms is a time-consuming task. That’s where Sprout Social comes to the rescue. This platform lets you schedule and publish your content across several social channels. With its powerful analytics, you’ll identify your best content and discover trending topics in your mentions.
8. Constant ContactEmail marketing plays an integral role in connecting directly to your audience. Your subscribers are already familiar with your content and want to read your emails. With customizable templates, Constant Contact gives you the flexibility to shape your message. And you can track your success in real-time. “One of the key perks to using Constant Contact (vs. sending emails manually) is that you can track the successfulness of your emails. Constant Contact tells you how many people opened the message, clicked a link inside the message or forwarded the email to a friend,” says Jeremy Marsan, a business analyst and staff writer for Fit Small Business.
9. HostGatorAn online presence is critical for bloggers to build their brand and attract new readers or clients. A website makes it possible for you to show off your skills and portfolio. From site building tools to templates, HostGator gives you everything to launch your website right now. The WordPress Hosting plan also empowers bloggers to manage website content more efficiently.
10. TogglWhen you’re engulfed in your work, it’s easy to forget how much time has elapsed. Knowing the time it takes to complete specific tasks helps you manage your time efficiently. Toggl makes sure you never lose a minute of your billable time. To increase client satisfaction, you can send reporting straight to their inboxes. No Wifi? Not a problem. The tool offers offline support.
11. WaveWhen tax season rolls around, scrambling for pertinent documents will only add to your frustrations. Every professional blogger needs accounting software to create, send, and track invoices. Wave helps you stay organized and run a better business. Within the software, track income and expenses to understand your cash flow. You also can connect your bank accounts for transactions to appear in your bookkeeping.
12. SortdIt’s difficult to stay productive when you receive hundreds of emails per day. Without even noticing, a few crucial emails might slip through the cracks, causing more chaos. Sortd maximizes your productivity by turning your inbox into an organized workspace. Tori Reid, a contributor at Lifehacker, writes: “With Sortd you can sort your emails into actionable lists. Just drag and drop an email from the left pane—your inbox—into one of the lists you've created on the right. You can use the lists for follow ups, receipts, or anything else you see a need for.”
13. DocuSignWhether you’re signing brand partnership agreements or a new client contract, you don’t want the burden of paperwork. You need a digital solution. DocuSign starts the signing process with quick access to your documents. Trust that your electronic signature is secure and legally binding. The platform uses the strongest data encryption technologies to protect your privacy.
14. DropboxWe live in a mobile culture. You constantly bounce around between multiple locations. So it’s common to forget your laptop that contains all your work files somewhere. Dropbox solves that problem by giving you access to your files from any device. Forgot your laptop? Just open them from your mobile phone. The tool also makes it convenient to collaborate on projects with your partners or teammates.
15. TransferWiseWant to receive timely payments? Of course, you do! However, invoicing payments to your overseas clients isn’t always a simple task. TransferWise calculates the real exchange rate so you don’t lose any money. Choose to send payouts to your email or bank accounts. On top of that, this tool is 8x cheaper than banks.
Take Your PickYes, the life of a blogger is sometimes unorganized and stressful with back-to-back deadlines. Fortunately, you can move in a positive direction. Start using these tools to accelerate your writing and business. They will help you increase your productivity, so that you can become a better blogger.
Friday, April 7, 2017 by Shayla PriceMore often than not, consumers trust industry influencers over paid advertisements. Customers crave honest and candid messages that speak their language. And brands are starting to recognize that trend. Research found that 84% of marketers are employing an influencer marketing campaign. This finding presents an opportunity for bloggers to collaborate with their favorite brands. With a robust platform, bloggers can talk directly to a company’s target audience. From posting product reviews to hosting a video tutorial, bloggers have the power to influence a generation of consumers. But how can bloggers garner the attention of top brands? Here’s five creative ways to land your next big gig:
1. Tell the WorldLet’s face the facts. There are millions of blogs on the Internet and hundreds more are cropping up everyday. If you want to work with corporations, you must spread the word. Start by dedicating an entire blog post to discussing your desire to partner up brands and why you would be a perfect fit. This content should highlight your knowledge as well as your accomplishments. Consider the post like a Batman signal. You’re placing everyone on notice that you’re ready to engage in business. And by telling your audience, you’re tapping into their network of colleagues. Also, take the time to develop a page dedicated to attracting companies. Provide brand managers with details about your services and how they can contact you. Serial entrepreneur and bestselling author Gary Vaynerchuk possesses a ‘Hire Me to Speak’ page on his website. He pinpoints exactly what he can offer brands and includes a contact form, along with his most recent talks. And don’t limit marketing efforts to just your blog. Share the news on all your active social media accounts. Send a teaser tweet with a link to your promotional post. Or record an Instagram story about the announcement. No one knows that you’re open to brand opportunities until you tell them. So, tell as many people as possible.
2. Target Specific BrandsCan I share a secret with you? Not every brand will match your blog’s audience or needs. That’s why it’s so important to narrow down your options. To target specific brands, learn more about your readers. What are their behaviors and interests? And what companies do they currently buy from? Use this knowledge as a foundation to focus on certain brands. Because if you’re already catering to their customer base, they may feel more comfortable spending advertising dollars on your site. Next, do some research on those particular companies. Make sure their values coincide with your beliefs. For instance, if you’re an advocate for clean energy and Company X doesn’t believe in that cause, you may want to eliminate it from your list. The last step is to actually reach out to the brands. Send an email or write a letter expressing your interest in establishing a partnership. And don’t let the fear of rejection stop you. “Companies will say no that is a fact. But you will be amazed at how many people will respond with a polite letter explaining why they can’t sponsor you at this time. Thank them for their time and keep them in your database for future reference,” state Dave and Deb, the smiling faces behind The Planet D. Not every business will meet your standards. Therefore, conduct research to find the ones that do.
3. Sell Your NicheAs a blogger, you’re doing something very special. You’re writing posts, recording sound clips, or maybe even talking in front of the camera. The uniqueness lies in your ability to offer your perspective about a chosen topic. You might be sharing family recipes or giving readers your personal gardening tips. And all of that content matters to companies. Selling your niche means showcasing your distinctive traits that make your blog outstanding. Why do your subscribers sign up? What keeps them coming back for more? “The fact is that most of us will never compete with the broad publications that are out there...sell the fact that you’re different and that you can reach a narrow and targeted group of people that makes the money an advertiser spends much more effective,” writes Darren Rowse, founder and editor of ProBlogger. Brands are hungry to collaborate with bloggers that will make them stand out. You can offer a vertical of exclusive content, or let companies receive access to your VIP audience. While most fashion bloggers cater to petite women, Tanesha Awasthi at Girl With Curves is doing something different. She is empowering curvy women to live their lives with confidence. Stand up and be heard! Demonstrate what sets you apart from all the other bloggers.
4. Create a Media KitAfter you get the word out, it’s possible that you may receive a few inquiries about your work. Executives will be curious to know what you’re doing and who you serve. Prepare for this conversation early by creating a media kit. A media kit is usually a PDF containing the nitty-gritty about your blog. It should include an introduction about yourself, your mission, notable clients, website statistics, and frequently asked questions. If you already know what type of partnerships you want, provide a section about your services and package rates. “I can’t stress this enough – the energy and effort you put into your media kit can either open doors of opportunity for you or slam them in your face...if you want to be competitive and really shine in front of brands, do yourself a favor and invest in a professional design for your media kit,” says Jeni The Blog Maven. Spice up your media kit with images. Below is an example from Jessica Fiorillo at Feed me dearly. Professionalism is part of connecting with brands. Invest some money into producing a quality media kit.
5. Showcase Brand ResultsIt feels amazing to have relationships with brands. They recognize your talent and see the value in what your blog brings to the table. However, it’s still a business. And brands are interested in knowing if you can deliver results. Can you drive significant traffic to their websites? Can you persuade 200 of your readers to enroll in their free webinar? At the end of the day, your record of results will matter. Social proof is an effective way to present your achievements to potential brands. Ask previous clients to give a short testimonial of how you executed on a marketing campaign. You also may want to develop case studies. These detailed stories outline how you solved a company’s problem. Blogger Kristi Hines offers a few suggestions for creating a case study:
- Write about past experience your ideal brand can relate to.
- Tell a story from start to finish.
- Provide an easy-to-read format.
- Talk about specific strategies.
Build a Solid ConnectionInfluencer marketing isn’t anything new. However, bloggers can seize the opportunity to work with major brands. Spread the word about your hunt for partnerships via your blog and social media channels. Attract brands with your expertise in a specific niche. And create a media kit for executives to learn more about your blog. Ready for the big leagues? Start connecting with brands today.
Tuesday, March 28, 2017 by Shayla PriceOnline entrepreneurship isn’t as simple as people think. Similar to a brick-and-mortar business, internet entrepreneurs are managing various tasks, like sending relevant customer messages and collaborating with team members. That’s why it’s important to stay organized throughout the entire process. “Some of us are energized by the chaos. Others of us are totally thrown off by the chaos. For the entrepreneur, it’s important to make sense of the chaos in order to truly succeed,” writes serial entrepreneur Neil Patel. Use tools to help you manage the chaos. Here’s a roundup (not an exhaustive list) of the best tools for internet entrepreneurs.
1. TrelloEntrepreneurs are never handling one task at a time. They must focus on several projects at once. Project management tools like Trello give business owners the confidence to stay motivated. Trello keeps your whole team connected with drag and drop cards. Organize multiple projects amongst several people without worrying if someone received your message. Communicate with your team members by adding comments, uploading file attachments, and setting due dates.
2. BufferSocial media helps spread brand awareness about your business, and it’s key for telling fans about your products and upcoming events. Share content during peak times with Buffer. This social media management tool also tracks your engagement and conversions. “If you’re looking for software that is easy to navigate, looks simple, and can make your team more efficient, then Buffer is definitely your key to managing social media,” says Kenneth Waldman, editorial assistant at EssayMama.com.
3. WistiaBased on Cisco’s Visual Networking Index, global consumer internet video traffic will account for 80% of all consumer internet traffic by 2019. So, if you’re not investing in video marketing now is the time. Wistia takes your video marketing to the next level. Generate new leads with its Turnstile email collector, and customize the color and controls of your videos. Plus, you can track how each viewer interacts with your content.
4. IntercomStay in constant contact with your customers. Conversations ensure that your team is addressing current problems and meeting consumer expectations. Intercom offers the personal support your customers deserve. Establish a knowledge base for buyers to solve their own problems, or manage support tickets with a help desk. “With Intercom, all of our customer support conversations happen in one place, and we can automate messages based on complex behavior aimed at making sure our customers are happy and that our service is as effective for each person as possible,” states Corbett Barr, CEO of Fizzle.
5. HostGatorFor internet entrepreneurs, online presence means everything for your business to thrive. Websites broadcast your brand image and showcase your products to consumers. HostGator makes building sites easy with its one-click application installer and templates. Need help? A support staff is available 24/7/365 to answer your questions.
6. HAROShape how your target audience views your brand. Earning recognition in publications adds to your credibility and builds trust amongst your followers. HARO (Help A Reporter Out) connects journalists to a database of sources for their stories. Join the daily email list to sift through potential media opportunities and then send your pitches directly to the journalist. “When it comes to finding existing media opportunities that make sense for your client or brand, this subscription-based newsletter is the ‘right tool for the job’,” writes Ashley H. Sherman, director of digital media relations at DigitalRelevance.
7. SlackCommunication holds your team together. Entrepreneurs must interact with their co-workers to complete projects and plan future growth. The Harvard Business Review reports that “over the past two decades the time spent by managers and employees in collaborative activities has ballooned by 50% or more.” Slack releases your team from email and improves everyone’s work productivity. Not only can you send direct messages, but you also can start voice and video calls.
8. SquareKeep the sales rolling in with straightforward payment solutions. Thanks to technology, business owners can take payments and track profits without the hassle. Square offers a variety of software services to manage inventory in real-time, reward repeat customers, and collect customer feedback. Start selling more with the customized business dashboard.
9. Google AnalyticsThere’s power in understanding data. Analytics helps your team acquire insights from consumer behavior to increase your ROI. Google Analytics gives you the knowledge to create a better customer experience. Gain a complete picture of how your content and products perform, and permit your team access to shareable reports.
10. PexelsContent is essential to educating your customer base. You want to attract and maintain their attention. Vivid imagery can tell your story better. However, most small businesses don’t have the time to capture original photos. Pexels provides an arsenal of 25,000 free stock photos under the Creative Commons Zero license. Search through their tagged collection to find what works for your brand.
11. SkypeThe McKinsey Global Institute found that companies can increase their employees’ productivity by 20-25% by using social technologies. Create the conditions for workers to build trust and earn one another’s respect. With Skype Meetings, your team can join online conversations from any device. Use the tool to record meetings, share screens, and annotate PowerPoint presentations.
12. HelloSignGone are the days of waiting for someone to sign physical paperwork. The digital age has introduced us to electronic signatures. HelloSign equips your business with the tools to request signatures and receive notifications about your documents. Insert your logo and tagline to enhance the signer’s experience. “HelloSign’s saved signatures are a timesaver, too, or you can type in a signature, add initials, or fill out a form with text editing. If you're the one needing to collect another person’s signature, send a document by email right from the app,” states Paula DuPont, a contributing writer at Zapier.
13. FreshBooksWhere’s your money? Accurate accounting ensures that your business maintains profitability, and financial reports are essential to gaining insight on how to move your company forward. Spend less time on invoicing and focus on serving your customers. With FreshBooks, you can automate several tasks, including organizing expenses and tracking time. Get paid faster by accepting credit card payments from your customers.
14. GoToWebinarWebinars rank as the second most effective type of premium content for marketers seeking to increase their lead generation efforts. Are you taking advantage of webinars? GoToWebinar lets you tell your brand’s story and grow your business. During live presentations, you can engage the audience with polls, surveys, and Q&As. Generate a list of engaged attendees and turn those qualified leads into customers.
15. MeetupJust because your business is online, doesn’t mean you’re limited to communicating with people only on the internet. Some of the best opportunities happen offline. Meetup lets you experience more in real life. Discover groups in your local area to learn new skills from others. Can’t find one that appeals to your interests? Start your own and find like-minded individuals.
Fill Up Your ToolboxAs an internet entrepreneur, you’re faced with the same challenges as any other business owner. You must manage your team, review data reports, and interact with your target audience. From accounting to social media management, tools help streamline your company processes. So try a few and take your business to new heights.