Going Offline with an Online Business

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I've been following the likes of Emily Ley and Lara Casey for a while, and I love what these women espouse -- having offline time or social media free days so that you can focus on cultivating what matters most. 

And it all sounds great, honestly! I know I would love time off social media and the internet in general so that I can stop getting caught up in highlight reels and comparisons and focus on doing the work. But I repeatedly tried and failed to really achieve true offline time... Simply because my business was wholly online.

I spend almost all of my time on my computer and internet daily, answering emails, engaging on Facebook Groups and Pinterest, researching and doing work online. How am I supposed to go offline and stop engaging in the spaces that are bringing me business and keeping me top of mind? 

After a month or so of tweaking, I found some tips that help me stay focused and intentional with my online time, and hopefully they will be as useful for you too.

STEP #1 :: Reevaluate how you use your online time

Sounds duh, but hear me out. There's a formula of sorts for this. I gotta admit, as much work as I do online, I also spend a lot of time just hanging around and scrolling through social media platforms and forums. It's scary how fast an hour goes by when you're scrolling mindlessly!

So really track your online habits for a week. How much time do you spend on each social media platform, and why are you on it? Be truthful! It's okay to spend time mindlessly scrolling (some days, this is what helps me get out of bed), it just needs to be tracked. Also take note of how much time you spend advertising and engaging online for your business, and how well each action performs for you. 

For example, I spend most of my "work" time on Facebook in two main groups, one of which is a mentoring group I paid for. The non-paid group serves mainly as an advertising platform, and I get on average 56 views for every promo post I make on Wednesdays in the promo thread. It's a zero-cost, low-effort, medium-return action item, but the bonus is, 1-3 of those people who visit my blog post end up signing up for my $27 classes, too. What this means for me is, if I consistently post every Wednesday, I will have some tangible results. I can also add to that by searching the group for keywords and offering help for questions that relate to my business.

Action: Post recent blog post promo thread, engage in 3 others
Best day to take action: Wednesday
Time Taken: 10 minutes
Results: Average of 56 views added to blog post + 1 class sign-up

I also spend time in my paid, mentoring group mostly on Mondays and Fridays. We post our goals on Mondays, and I take the time to look through the threads on the group to see if I can help with anything, or if anything is of interest to me. Then on Fridays, I come back in to report my goal score for the week, and do the same thing as Monday. 

Repeat this for all social media platforms you find yourself constantly on.

STEP #2 :: Pinpoint trends and make adjustments

After the evaluation, you should be able to quickly pinpoint highlight "peak" days and times where being online will garner the best results for you. For me, it is M/W/F, but tracking if posting on Wednesday itself will bring more views VS the results of posting in the thread on Friday instead will help me decide if I can bring the peak days to two days instead of three.

Find your non-negotiable days (for me it's accountability in the paid mentorship group on Mondays and Fridays, which take me quite little time anyway), and then make adjustments on the other days to fit this schedule. Try to whittle the "peak" days down to 2-3 days a week and not more. Weekends can or cannot be included, it totally depends on your schedule and trends you've identified.

STEP #3 :: Allocate time and schedule it in

With your "peak" days and times in hand, put them into your schedule reasonably. When do you wind down and can spend a bit of time scrolling through and engaging on social media? How well do these times play with your "peak" days and times? What trends have you recorded from the different times you've posted over the last week?

Find the best intersection (best results X fits in your schedule) and BINGO! You've got your golden periods to make magic happen online. 

It will take some testing and tweaking, but you should be well on your way after about a month. After this, it'll be a breeze to schedule online and offline time, and stick to them (most of the time - progress not perfection here!).

Monday: 
10pm - Post goals on thread in FI
10.05pm - Engage in all threads since Friday in FI
10.30pm - Research trending Pinterest posts and repin

Friday:
6pm - Post goal score in FI
6.05pm - Engage in all threads since Friday in FI
6.30pm - Post blog ads/links to RT, BS and CWB
7pm - Evaluate FB ad results and boost FB post of the week

TOTAL TIME ESTIMATE: 2.5 hours 


Your small great task: 

Download the easy cheat sheet PDF here and start recording data so you can minimize your mindless online time, and take much-needed offline time to spend doing what matters! 

 



To make things simpler for you to track, I've created a FREE online time tracker PDF for you. Click to download here.

 

The Truth About Running a Joyful Business

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Last week, I took a small break to spend some much-needed time with my husband as he wasn't feeling too good, and he hadn't taken a break from work in a while. I sat back for the week, taking in the new things that were coming up in the entrepreneur sphere - courses, up-and-comers, programs and blog posts...

It occurred to me that there was something for everyone online, which is amazing. I am constantly pleasantly surprised by how great the internet is for making things happen for all of us. But I also realized something that was pretty much what ran me into the ground last year... There was a general lack of joy. I'm not talking about the happiness and freedom that comes with running a successful business - that's great and many people are amazing teachers at getting people there. 

The joy I'm talking about was why I revamped my business and pared it all down. This joy doesn't talk about 6/7-figure businesses, about what next big thing you have to do to become more visible, or the perfect technique for running a webinar... This joy is simply about you.

Because so little is said about the ugly days. Not the sweatpants-wearing-workdays. Those are commonplace and awesome for entrepreneurs and online business owners. The ugly days are the days where there is a business lull and you're scrambling for clients, or the days when you don't even know what the heck you're doing and you want to go out and grab the first job you can find, the days you believe the lies about your incompetency, the days when you don't want to talk to clients because your anxiety is through the roof, the days when you just don't know what to do and who to turn to.

I got the success I thought I wanted last year. A good income, constant clients, a beautiful home, great acquaintances... But I lost the joy of running my business. The days that run me rugged drove me into the ground. I didn't know what to do next. Everyone seemed to be much further along than I was. I didn't know how to keep up with the new changes, social media platforms, products. I was just going with the motion and didn't feel the love for my business anymore.

The truth was, a joyful business is one that not only earns income and impacts others... It is one that also fills you up instead of draining you. I'm not talking about drained as in the 16+ hours you work because you just get going. I'm talking about being drained creatively and emotionally, being so tired that you end up not doing anything else at all because you just can't and don't want to.

Truth #1 :: There is no room for comparison.

A joyful business is being comfortable with where you are at and where you are going. It is a commitment to staying contented even when things are going a little less rosy, and blooming where you are planted instead of being distracted of what could have been. And it is hard to keep this commitment. Because a joyful business focuses on all the insides and none of the outsides. No highlight reel. No big money. No attention-grabbing headline. Just a simple, quiet joy that keeps you going even when it gets tough. That lets you know you are on the right track, even when you've hit a bump. That reminds you that what you are doing has purpose, even when no one seems to be watching.

Truth #2 :: You can't follow someone else's path.

A joyful business is being true to what works for you, even if it is unconventional. It is a decision, again and again, to do the things that work for you, even when the entire (online entrepreneur) world seems to be going in the other direction. We all know that chasing the next shiny thing isn't good for us... But subconsciously we think the more difficult option must work better because so many other people get success from it. Running a joyful business means just choosing the simplest option that works for you so you can get things done, even if it is a different way.

Truth #3 :: It has nothing to do with money.

When you focus on your joy, it is unlike any other "focus." You don't get more clients, necessarily or directly. You don't get more visibility or fame. You don't get more money, per se. But a joyful business constantly fills you up, so you don't need to always find something to light a fire at your behind to get you going, you have inspiration to give. A joyful business doesn't run you ragged or require 16+ hour days, so you won't always feel busy and neglectful of all the other aspects of your life. The beautiful balance between doing what you love and living your life will create more genuine results than chasing money and following formulas ever would. 


Your Small Great Task

Are you running a joyful business? If not, what is the one small thing you can do today to make it more joyful? 

 

How to Simplify Your Brand (& Why You Should!)

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Branding can be really, really complicated. After all, a brand is made up of a lot of things. Between trying to figure out your core, nurture how potential customers view your business, and having your entire suite of brand identity elements (logo, colors, website etc) designed just right, it can be a lot of work.

But what it all boils down to is really one thing: being remembered. Staying top of mind for potential customers and being memorable. Leaving legacy.

Isn't that the end goal, really? To have people remember your brand so that they can reach out to you if they need a product like yours or a service you provide. 

So today we're really breaking it all down and making your brand really simple so that you can focus on building and growing what matters most to your customers, and stop getting overwhelmed by all the other stuff that seemingly makes a great brand but really just adds more to-dos to your already-full list.

1 :: Reframe your mindset 

So often, when we try to tackle branding, we think of a brand as mainly the "backend" of our business -- clarifying the business core and mission and then having the visuals reflect that. In that way, we really are putting way too much emphasis on ourselves

These things make up a good brand, yes, but they aren't the crux of a brand and it often becomes the tripping stone to us growing our business. We think that we need to talk to a coach to get clear on our business mission and goals. We think that we need to hire a great logo and web designer so that our "brand looks pretty". And so we avoid any real work behind creating a great brand... Figuring out what the people want.

The truth is, a brand is simply what people think of when they hear your brand name, and in that way, it exists only in that person's mind. (Forbes

Reframe your mindset and drop the excess, a brand is merely a perception. Our goal is to frame and nurture this perception in a genuine way.

2 :: Discover what brings them joy

Because a brand is merely a perception, all we have to do is simply to discover what brings your people joy. Often in business, we busy ourselves with setting up things that bring us joy over what brings your customers joy. We do lots of backend work that we know is good for the client, but that they quite honestly might not bother about or even understand.

A great (and smart) brand therefore pinpoints exactly where the client wants to feel joy when working with you, and caters its product or service and experience to just that. There is no perfect business, and many times as business owners we fall short. But if you know just what and where it matters most to your customer, bingo! You've hit jackpot.

I'm not asking you to give up or stop doing everything that they don't understand that is good for them (we run businesses with integrity, right?!), but to instead focus your efforts on things that are both good for them and that they (not you) care deeply about.

When you can fulfil the "joy requirements", you will automatically be a notch above the rest and be remembered for all the right reasons. 

3 :: Do the small things, and do them often

When you've hit the customer jackpot on the "joy factor", it's time to build on it. Discovering what they care about is your gateway to building trust (which leads to sales). You've heard about the know, like and trust factor, and this is really the third step.

Regularly providing information or help on the things that matter to your people, whether free or paid, is your key to getting into their hearts. You don't need a fancy logo or website, you don't need to have your brand mission and core all set in stone. Those are all good things, but by doing the small things, and doing them often, you not only are helpful, you become top of mind for them. And the bonus? You beat procrastination. You can get things done and build your business, and do them now.

Remember? Simple is my thing for 2017. Because small and simple get done. Big, lofty, complicated dreams are all well and good, but they also deter you from taking action


Your Small Great Task

What brings your customers joy and hits the experience of working with you right out of the park? What is the small thing you can do today to make it happen? 

 

Squarespace vs Wordpress :: Not a debate

I love Wordpress. But I'm with Squarespace now. It's not you, it's me. 

I was (and still am, actually) a Wordpress website developer for many years. I started out in Blogspot when I was just 14, and have continued designing and building websites in Wordpress, and now in Squarespace. 

So many developers are so intense about this debate, because I know that Wordpress is great. It's flexible, has all the functionality in the world you'll ever need, it's cheap and you can move mountains with it. You really can. And Squarespace? It's just Wordpress' little brother. You are limited with what you can do with it, and you may not get all the bells and whistles that come with Wordpress, as hundreds of thousands of plugin developers add to its functionality daily.

Believe me, I have fought this. There is some sort of snobbery that comes with being a "website developer" that most people don't want to admit, but exists. Somehow, the better and smarter web developers choose Wordpress, while the other less-smart wannabes go with the limiting Squarespace (the debates all become this after a while, on the Facebook groups).

So... Why am I on Squarespace, having said all that?

Because for me, it really isn't a debate. I don't want to spend (or waste) time arguing with someone that I can code in Wordpress and how it is more superior. I get it. Everyone gets it. Wordpress has great flexibility and functionality. No one is disputing that. Yet more and more people switch to Squarespace everyday, as I've observed over the last two years. 

Reason #1: Because it's just simpler

And simple is my thing in 2017. I just want to get things done. Because we spend far, far too much time trying to choose the best platform, trying to plan for the future "growth" and debating with people about what is the "right" thing to use or do. Bleh. Doesn't sound one bit like what I want to do with my online business. 

True, Wordpress has all the bells and whistles. With the right developer, your options are limitless with Wordpress. But I have to ask you just one thing... Do you actually need all the bells and whistles, or are you just happy they're there?

For the most of us online businesses, we don't need the limitless functionality. There is a limited purpose for our website that quite frankly, Squarespace does and does well enough. So yes, in 2017 in my book, sometimes limiting our options can be better than having it all.

For example: You can sign up for Marie Forleo's B-School for $1999 (not an affiliate, launch period's over). You can also sign up for many, many months of membership on Skillshare. Both platforms are great. Both platforms teach you things. But B-School only teaches you one main thing. On Skillshare, you can learn almost anything you would want to.

But how many of us actually go ahead and learn everything we can on Skillshare, vs learning something really useful for ourselves with B-School? 

For many of us, learning something meaningful and tangible in B-School trumped having the many months of Skillshare membership we never touched. 

With Squarespace, I no longer have to worry about my hosting my website (though I still host my domain elsewhere) and transferring things here and there. I only need to login to Squarespace and manage everything right here. I don't need to worry about an update breaking my site (most of the time, anyway) or new security leaks from one of the 10 plugins I use on my site. 

And for many of my clients, they want simple. They want to be able to make edits without running for the developer every time. They want to change something out without being afraid of breaking the entire site. They want to be comfortable with their website. They want their website to work for them, not the other way around.

Reason #2: There is always a better way to do things for someone

We all work in different ways. Different things work for different businesses. That's the beauty of running one! There is no one-size-fits-all and there shouldn't be. So for some businesses, Squarespace fits the bill. For others, Wordpress does a great job. We really shouldn't get caught up with which is "right" or "better". 

New software and systems get invented every day for that very reason. Different people need different things.

I love that many landing page creation systems are being used right now (like ConvertKit, LeadPages, InstaPages and the like). Similarly, there are many course-running systems/software that are getting increasingly popular. Yep, you guessed it. You could create it with Wordpress, too. For pretty much free if you could do it by yourself or with a cheap plugin. 

So why then do these systems/software exist? Because there is always a better way for someone to do things. Some people prefer spending a monthly fee on Teachable, for example, to get their courses set up and easy to use, because then they wouldn't have to worry about video hosting, payment issues, or designing a professional-looking course page. Others prefer spending a few thousand dollars on a great backend on Wordpress, custom designed and coded by a great Wordpress developer. 

Is any of them wrong? Not at all! Different things work for different people. Squarespace is merely a better way for many of us to get our websites up and running well. 

Reason #3: I get things done faster

I used to be paralyzed with perfectionism when I wanted to launch something new on Wordpress. Because you could spend hours researching the best, new plugin for SEO, for speed optimization, for opt-in forms, for quizzes, for anything you could think of under the (digital) sun!

And guess what? I never launched. I stuck with my old website (which was outdated and needed refreshing) for a long time because I didn't want to go through all that trouble again. Sure, I had all the control and flexibility, but I also had a lot more work on my plate.

Everything was my issue. Mobile-friendliness. Security Updates. Plugin Updates. Wordpress Updates. Theme Updates. SEO. Speed. And it's not like I couldn't deal with them. I just didn't want to, anymore. My clients didn't, either. In fact, most clients don't even know or understand the amount of work we put in the backend of developing a Wordpress site so that it has all the functionality they need (cue custom code or new plugin I spent hours finding, researching and styling). They don't bother, yet I'm spending sweaty hours on something that doesn't necessarily bring them more joy.

With Squarespace, I don't need to worry about tech support anymore. Squarespace has pretty great customer service, and everything else is pretty much built-in. I follow their guidelines so my site is optimized, but that's about it. I launch my beautiful, user-friendly website with half the stress it would've taken me to launch a custom Wordpress one. I still enjoy designing around and with the templates that come with Squarespace, and I make far less edits. Clients are generally happier with the system, too! 

Spending less time fussing over the website and finishing website builds faster (I brand and build websites in 12 working days, y'all!) also frees me more time to do the other things in business that bring me joy and that matter to me, i.e. my coaching services and honing my branding and designing skills. Win win!


So there you have it. My top three reasons on why I switched to Squarespace. The fact that many talented brand and website designers also stand by it for years have helped me take the leap, too. While this may not be my ultimate destination (as I said, I still love Wordpress!), for this season, Squarespace works for me.

It is just what I need, nothing more, nothing less. :)

And as with everything on the internet, take what you need and leave the rest. You can run your business (and your life) much simpler and with more joy this way.