Kick Up Your Social Media Game

Running an online business is hard enough, with all the management, making, bookkeeping, email writing, and so on. Throw on top of that the world of social media, and whoa! - there goes your weekend plans.

For most of us, social media is the hardest part of running an online business, but with a couple of steps, you can make it productive without it being distracting.

1 - CREATE A PLAN FOR CONTENT

Everything comes out better when you go into it with a plan. For social media, I like to lay out what each week will look like. What's my tweeting schedule? How often do I post on Instagram? What days do my emails go out?

When you create a plan for social, you can more easily and productively take action, putting you in control of your social media, instead of allowing it to control you.

2 - AUTOMATE YOUR SOCIAL MEDIA

The best thing I ever did for my own time management was to get on the automation train. Toot toot!

I can now sit down once a month and schedule a month's worth of Instagram posts, write a bucket of Twitter posts, and get Facebook over and done. Then I schedule it all up and let 'er roll. I can spend the rest of my month just doing the [non-social] work.

3 - PUT ENGAGEMENT IN YOUR CALENDAR

Instead of keeping Facebook open and constantly scrolling through Instagram, try focusing your social media attention to just a few times per week. This way you can engage when it's time to engage, and work when it's time to work.

Blocking time off on your calendar a few times a week to reply to your Instagram comments or catch up on Twitter will do wonders for your productivity, making you a boss of your to-do list and still an engaged online business owner in your community.

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This content was first delivered to my email list on 9/22/16. To receive posts like this from me first, sign up here.

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Reevaluating Your Role in Your Business

Working for yourself means that you spend a lot of your time doing things you may not necessarily love, like invoicing, emailing, or marketing yourself. Basically, this is just part of the gig, but it's important to keep in mind what you love most about your job, and what you wish you could do less of.

What I love doing most in my business:

  • I love recording podcasts. Kathleen and I have a blast showing up and jamming about all matter of bossness. And it's not just about sharing my own opinions, because I swear I take just as much out of our recordings (especially with guests) as our listeners do.
  • I love planning large projects in Asana. My brain works really well with breaking down large things into little actionable steps, and doing this makes everyone (including just myself) super productive. It facilitates big things to happen with ease. Makes me feel boss.
  • I love doing webinars, masterclasses, and Q+A calls. Sprinkling some planned screen time with my tribe throughout my monthly calendar makes me happy. I love showing up, sharing my gifts of knowledge, and helping my fellow creatives run a better online business.
  • I love working through systems to make everything run better. From how I onboard clients to what we do when someone new purchases a product, I like making my business run smoothly. Because smoothly means everyone is happy, and profit it easier.

What I want to do less of:

  • I hate managing my inbox. The amount of little emails that stare me in the face on a daily basis makes me cringe away from even checking my inbox. Also, typing has started bruising my finger tips (not even kidding), so I'm developing a particularly strong dislike for all the typing. I'm trying to keep my inbox from making me develop some scary anxiety, but it seems to be happening anyhow.
  • I'm about done with writing marketing emails. I've not-so-joked many times that I make a living not as a podcaster or web designer, but as an email writer. And, really, it's not a joke; it's real life.
  • Social media-ing. I feel like as I get older, I'm wanting to become more and more of a hermit, because I don't care about sharing my food much anymore. Or, maybe I just need a serious vacation. We'll start with that.

Now, when it comes to hiring and delegating, I know what items I want to keep for myself and make more time for, and what things I need to be handing off to others.

Because if you don't like doing something, you're not going to do it your best.

You could be handing those "I want to do less of" items off to someone who likes doing them and will actually do them better than you do!

Or, at least you will know that these are the frogs you need to eat first thing so that you can spend more time doing what you love.

For more about my quest to live what I love and help you do the same, check out my blog post on Being Boss, Live What You Love.

TO-DO FOR YOU:
Do your own lists for what you love doing and what you want to do less of. See what comes up for you, and see how you can begin transitioning yourself in your business.

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This content was first delivered to my email list on 8/18/16. To receive posts like this from me first, sign up here.

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Sometimes I find myself being the harbinger of tough love with my clients.

It's very hard for me to "lay down the line" when a client starts getting wishy-washy about working on their business. It gives me a stomachache. It makes my arm pits sweaty. It makes me really need a peanut butter cracker. Or twelve.

But it just has to happen. I want to see them succeed.

The wishy-washy usually comes when it's time to invest. Whether it's time or money - or both, the time to invest will stir up insecurities and doubts. And these will either kill momentum, or set a client up for major success for the future, depending on the path they take.

To stave off insecurity and doubt, realizing that it's time to invest can help you get in the right mindset to achieve your goals. And here's how I like to discover if it's time or not:

Realize When DIY Isn't Cutting It

I spent years being a DIY indie business owner. I branded myself, I designed everything myself, I developed my own marketing plans, I took my own stuff to the post office. I did everything.

And then I hit a ceiling.

Building an indie business by doing everything yourself is do-able. I did it. Lots of really great indie business owners do it.

But DIY-ing it is not for everyone. And it's not forever.

I made my biggest jump in growth when I realized it was time to outsource. I hired an assistant, a bookkeeper, a marketing specialist. I got someone else to do my branding. I have realized that I can be much better at what I do if I let other pros do what they're good at for me. DIY won’t cut it forever.

KNOW YOU'RE READY

It is startling to me how impulsive people can be with their business. And with large sums of money. They wake up one morning with an idea, a fat wallet, and a drive to expand. They call up a web designer (or some other business related service person), tell them their ready, and then fall on their face. Because they're weren't really ready.

Before you hire someone to take your indie business to the next level, know you're ready to take it to the next level.

  • Have you already established yourself, even in a relatively small way?
  • Do you have a clear direction for growth and expansion?
  • Are you ready to put in the work?
  • Are you in it for the long haul?
  • Are you ok with change?

If you answered 'no' to any of these, then you're not ready.

Some solutions:

  • Stick out your current situation a little longer. If you're still growing and interested in 3-6+ months, then it might be ready to make a bigger commitment.
  • Clarify your personal goals. I'm a firm believer that you should not focus on an outside entity before you have thoroughly focused on yourself.
  • Do your research. Know what work is going to go into what you're wanting to do. It makes change more gradual, and therefore less painful.

KNOW YOUR BUSINESS IS READY

Few things make me more sad for an indie business owner's planning skills than getting knee-deep in a large business renovation just to find that their business can't sustain the growth.

So, what? You have your products, you have a name, and you purchased a domain, yes? All set.

NO!

  • Do you have a clear and concise brand? (Not just a logo, but a brand. P.S. If you don't know the difference, you're not ready. Period.)
  • Can you afford growth at the moment? (More product, more packaging, consultants, designers, infrastructure...)
  • Do you have any money in a business-only savings account?
  • Do you have for-serious business goals?
  • Do you have a marketing plan?

If you answered 'no,' or were even a little undecided, then you are not ready. Trust me.

Some solutions:

  • Clearly define your brand. Either do a ton of research and business discovery, or hire a professional. (P.S. People who just "design logos" [including me] are not usually brand specialists. I know I much prefer it if a client comes to me with a full brand summary before requesting me to design anything. There's definitely a difference.)
  • Clarify your goals by getting your plans for the next 12 months down on paper.
  • Develop a marketing plan. This often-forgotten element is key to reaching sustainability in your desired growth.
  • Budget, budget, budget. Budget. Got it? And make sure it's sensible.

EXPECT TOUGH LOVE

If you're not quite there yet with yourself and your business, and you make the jump anyhow, I hope someone stops you in your tracks with a little (or a lot of) tough love.

If you hire me and you're not ready, I will tell you. And I will make you get ready. I'm not trying to hurt your feelings, I'm trying to show you the way.

If you hire someone else, I hope they'll give you tough love if you need it, too.

Designers and other indie biz professionals can only help you build your business if you're ready. And if you're not, you're just wasting everyone's time.

LET SOMEONE HELP

It's time we indie business owners get over this Superman/woman complex we all inherently have and ask for help when it's needed. Stop cutting corners, and invest in your business.

These very issues are why I have created Indie Shopography. If you think you're ready to start heading in the direction of business growth online, then it's a great place to make sure you're ready with the knowledge required to get you there.

If you're one of these indie business owners thinking of taking a leap - whether it be with a new brand, a new site, a killer marketing plan, whatever - don't do it blindly! You won't be doing yourself, your business, and definitely not your wallet any justice by just taking the leap.

Let's be real here, guys. Let's show the world how awesome indie business are. Let's show them how we will make it past that dreaded 2-year statistic. We will succeed. We will turn the economy around.

But we can only do so if we're smart. If we're ready. And if you're open to the tough love.

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How to Love Your Business

When I shut down my physical studio space to hit the road for #indiegoeswest and move to Chattanooga in 2015, it was bittersweet.

We loved our studio space and working with our team every day.

But I had boxed myself back into a 9-to-5 job without even realizing it. And shutting it down to take my work back into my own hands to fit it into my life (instead of making my life fit around my work) was imperative to keep me loving my business.

I've come across this scenario a couple of times in my business: I get far down a path just to realize I'm going towards a destination that I don't necessarily want to go. So I course-correct.

In a Being Boss Clubhouse secret episode, Kathleen and I talked about how we have the ability to run a business with our gut and our heart. We have the ability to change and adjust our businesses to fit our needs.

Because our needs and our interests change.

If you're building a truly flexible business (which I know most of us are at least intending to do), then you can - if you do the work - continually make shifts in your business to fit your needs.

This year it may be one-on-one client work, and then you transition into group offerings.

Right now you may be focusing on consumer sales, but soon you may focus on wholesale.

You may need to settle down and hustle out the work, and then pack it up and hit the road.

Whatever it is that you choose, the key to staying in love with your business are these:

  • Know what you want from your business.
  • Know what your business needs from you.
  • Take the steps to get there.
  • Rinse and repeat.

When I look back at where Indie Shopography has been, I see distinct seasons: solopreneur, growing my team, the studio, IndieBOOM, digital product. The mission has stayed the same - helping creatives make money online - but the way I've accomplished that mission has changed as my life has changed.

I have no desire to grow an empire of 100+ employees, work a 9-to-5, or have to ask permission to go on vacation.

I'm building a business to fuel my freedom, my passion, and my life. And my mission is to help others accomplish the same.

Is this the traditional trajectory for a small business? Eh, not so much. But running an online business is anything but traditional. So, screw tradition - I'm going to focus on what I love doing in the way that I love doing it.

I encourage you to do the same.

TO-DO FOR YOU:
Take a look at your day-to-day responsibilities in your business. How do you feel about them?

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This content was first delivered to my email list on 8/4/16. To receive posts like this from me first, sign up below.

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Test and Change

I once thought about becoming a stationery designer. I tried it out for a few weeks, and it wasn't as fulfilling as I thought, so I stopped. Instead, I decided to get back to doing what I already found fulfilling.

There was another time that I tried my hand at being a travel writer. Not my forte, but it was fun.

I spent over 6 years designing websites for creatives. It taught me a lot of things and fed my family, but it started standing between me and my next thing. So I moved on to focus on not only what fed my belly, but what fed my soul.

"Play is the highest form of research."
-Albert Einstein

Test and change could become my catch-phrase, if only it were funnier. Because, boy is it useful.

Going at life as if it's just a giant experiment is how you have fun! It's how you make discoveries, about yourself as well as the world around you.

A decision is only wrong because you tell it that it is. Your decision to launch the thing, send the email, ask for what you want is not wrong, even if you "fail.”

Me? I've had 5 businesses so far in my life. FIVE! I've never made a wrong choice. Maybe not the best choice a fair handful of times, but never a wrong one. Each choice has taught me something, either about what works or doesn't work, and now I'm here stronger because of every decision, no matter the outcome.

They key is that I made the decision in the first place.

Because I understand the ease with which you can test and change.

Want to try a pop-up on your homepage? Give it a go - you can remove it if you don't like it. Test and change.

Want to see if you could rock out being a redhead? Hell, why not. Test and change.

Interested in learning to start a podcast, hand-letter, or speak Russian? Take it for a whirl. Test and change.

The only thing you'll regret is not doing anything. So, make up your mind and see what happens. Because even if the outcome isn't exactly what you want, you'll know how not to do it the next time. Like a boss.

TO-DO FOR YOU:
I want to challenge you to adopt the "test and change" mindset. Make a decision today just to test something out. See what happens.

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This content was first delivered to my email list on 6/9/16. To receive posts like this from me first, sign up below.

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Building an online business is the best decision that I ever made. I love the internet, I love how it connects us all, and I love that it gives me the ability to use my entrepreneur brain in a way that also allows me to build a life that I love, working from home, homeschooling my kid, with mid-day walks when I please.

But, the self-discipline, the not knowing, the constant fucking hustle sure wears me out, and I know I'm not the only one.

If you're struggling with making this work for you, I encourage you not to give up. Not yet.

I've been thinking back to my first year or two of business a lot lately. As my own business(es) grow, I have to admit that a lot of the same questions and uncertainties from 5 or 6 years ago are still ringing true.

No matter the season, I catch myself staring longingly out the window, wondering what I need to hustle out to retire when I'm 35, because sitting in front of this computer really isn't the most inspiring place for me to spend my day.

I don’t have all the answers, but I can offer some guidance. To those of you out there struggling to make this work, in whatever way that means to you at the moment, here are some little tasks to help you move forward - some tips to help you gain some traction today:

1 - Write an essay.

You know that topic that's nagging you in the back of your head? Get it out of you. Then publish it - to your blog, your email newsletter, or your Instagram feed.

Make it long, short, emotional. Just get it out, and share your message.

2 - Write that email.

You know the one. The one to praise that inspiring client, or to fire that client that's making you miserable, or to your business bestie, or that potential lead.

Keep this one short and sweet, and hit send.

3 - Outline that thing.

Your next digital product, product line, marketing campaign, website sitemap - whatever it is, put it on paper. Get it out of your head, and into action.

Then task it out, and make it do.

4 - Take a breather.

Yesterday I walked away after a meeting to sit in the sunshine on my front porch. I was leaving an intense to-do list and a swirl of post-meeting ideas, but I had to walk away.

It's easy to get caught up in All The Things and forget to take a moment to let things settle, to recalibrate your priorities, and to live in the moment, and not in your task list. It's ok to step away.

You'll be able to get it done once you have a moment to reset.

If you're feeling the pressure to succeed, sell, grow, and share, do something to move you along, and change your perspective around how you feel about it. If you're choosing to run an online business, this is your life. You chose this. Come to terms with the energy it takes to do this thing, this thing that you know will make a difference in people's lives (or else you wouldn't be doing it).

If you learn to manage it, you'll get there. It's just one tiny step at a time.

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This content was first delivered to my email list on 5/5/16. To receive posts like this from me first, sign up below.

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