I got to #inbox zero this week for the second week in a row. It’s an immensely satisfying way to start my work week.
When your inbox is full of email subscriptions (updates from software you use, new products from a business you love, and notifications from the free challenges you don’t have time for) it’s hard to see the email that needs your attention.
Emails from customers, leads, and business colleagues get lost, missed, or found only too late.
You spend unnecessary time looking for emails when you’re sure you saw it come in and then aren’t sure whether it’s something you can respond to now or come back to later.
Then emails get pushed further and further down your inbox and things you meant to get back to later never happen.
This is one way that customers, leads, and collaboration opportunities start to fall through the cracks. You feel overwhelmed like you’re always running behind, and constantly disappointing people.
There is a way to get out of that situation, to make those important emails visible again in your inbox, to become pro-active in responding to customers and business opportunities.
Let me introduce you to Streak CRM for Gmail, the one tool that consistently helps me organise and clear my inbox.
My Virtual Assistant (VA) recently raised her rates and updated her packages which has been an awesome upgrade for her AND for my business.
Let me explain…
Where I used to know exactly the tasks I wanted her to do — and we’d both try to do them in as little time as possible to save money — now I’m committed to 12 hours each month.
I could look at that and think that I’m having to pay for more hours than I need for her to complete the work (it takes around 10 hours each month). Instead, I see the opportunity.
I have a HUGE opportunity to fill those extra 1-2 hours each month with tasks that will continue to save me time and make me more money.
I have the opportunity to look at all those small tasks that never even get considered for my weekly to do list but I know would attract, keep, and convert more of my ideal people.
(And you know what… it’s been amazing how EASY a mindset shift it’s been to go from 4 hours each month at the end of last year to 12 hours each month now. Thank you, Denise Duffield-Thomas.)
I feel that same excitement and open wonder at the possibility this has for my business and it’s future as when I first hired a VA.
The same excitement as when I first reimagined my work week, the impact to my business, and the impact to my lifestyle where I didn’t have to be the one doing it all.
You don’t have to do it all and there will come a point where your business cannot grow bigger without outsourcing.
Working with a VA and building a team to support you and your business can open the doors to endless growth.
If you get your VA to work on the right tasks… tasks that free up your time to work on money making activities (new products, working with clients, growing a bigger community) and tasks that directly make you more money (filling the gaps in your sales funnel, scheduling your consistent content, and moderating your Facebook groups).
And if the overhead of supervising their work, managing their tasks, and community your needs doesn’t suck up all the time you’re saving, or using up time you didn’t even have to begin with.
The VA Task Board I created in Asana (based on Kanban principles) keeps that overhead to a minimum while you maintain full control and full visibility of tasks and their priority.
How To Make The Best Education Investment For Your Business (And Take FOMO Out Of Your Decision Making Process)
I get so excited when I see a new course or program from one of my favourite business mentors.
Especially when it’s a topic I know I need help with.
Especially when I see the launch so well executed with tantalising bonuses, valuable free content, and excitement from my own biz besties.
You get into their sales funnel because you love their stuff! And any new freebies or webinars you are going to suck right up. You want to support them and you want to be in the know.
Then the sales emails start and you love reading the success stories, you know you’d learn a lot from this mentor because you already have, and that countdown timer is taunting you.
But… it’s a really big investment. And you’d probably have to have one of THOSE conversations with your significant other. And how would you make the time to actually participate?
But… surely you could make it work. Manifesting is a thing, right? And when you have a deadline you just push through and make it happen.
I have a love-hate relationship with setting prices in my business.
I love it because there is no cap on how much we can make, no glass ceiling, only endless possibilities.
There are so many ways you can pivot your offerings, pricing, and business model to keep increasing your income without working more hours.
1:1 services can shift from hourly rates to packaged pricing, then into group programs all while maintaining that live interaction with you.
You can take inspiration from services or products to create self study classes, masterclasses, DIY programs, and other digital products.
When you’re released from the limitations of your time to deliver a product or service you start to see possibilities in the math…
Price x number of sales = possibility
You are in control of your prices. You are in control of how big you grow your audience. Plug in some numbers and dream big, darling!
Now you start to get new questions. Not just what should I price this offer at but… How many people do I want to reach? How much money do I want to make?
And then the really important question… How much money do I need to live my dream lifestyle?
But then I hate it because to make those possibilities a reality we have to choose and we have to implement!
That’s where everything goes wrong.
We try to price our offers and instead we doubt ourselves, our abilities, the need for our products or services, the ability of our ideal clients to pay our prices.
We try to predict sales and instead we get lost in researching conversion percentages, sales funnels, audience growth, and marketing strategies.
Let me stop you right there and introduce you to the woman who will rescue you…
Three years ago I found my biz besties in the Facebook group of an eCourse about editing your life incrementally until it reflected your dream lifestyle.
I had wanted a close knit group of mastermind buddies for the three years prior to that when I had started immersing myself in the world of online business and trying to figure out what I could offer to the world.
I kept reading about how important it was to have the substitute work colleagues to brainstorm with, vent at, commiserate and celebrate with.
I kept reading about how you could find your mastermind buddies by networking, connecting in online groups, and asking — but never believed it could happen that way for me.
I was often too nervous to ask and if I did ask it would often be to only hear crickets or get a couple responses that never progressed. It was the same way if I responded to a post for accountability buddies or someone wanting to form a mastermind group. There would be a couple messages back and forth but nothing organised.
Until the lovely Erika Swafford (of Erika Swafford Photography) was encouraged by our eCourse teacher to ask in the group for accountability buddies.
This time it was different. This time when I put my virtual hand up the conversation quickly jumped to scheduling a Skype call.
And on our very first Skype call Erika, the amazing Emily Roach (of Biz BFF), and I clicked instantly. There was that feeling that we got each other, that we somehow already knew each other. We could have chatted for hours and excitedly scheduled in a recurring Skype date that has continued on three years later.
Now the online mastermind and mentoring world has solved this problem of trying to “organically” find your business besties by offering a myriad of paid mastermind and group mentoring programs.
And I love it! I think one of the still unvalued parts of any online program, whether it has a formal mastermind offering to it or not, is the community. The access to fellow participants, the shared philosophy you already know you have from deciding to join this thing, and the shared experience of going through it together.
But with so many options available and the added pressure of making it a really great investment we now have a new problem… How do we choose the “right” mastermind group for us?
Here’s what I’ve learned from being in a mastermind for three years and how you can use my experience to choose the right mastermind for you.
When I first started working with a Virtual Assistant I was very clear on the time that I was expecting to free up.
I knew how long the tasks I was handing over to her took me to complete. I had that time blocked out in my calendar every week. And I knew what I would rather be doing with that time.
I had income generating tasks lined up that would bring in much more money than my VA would cost me.
I’d created checklists and recorded training videos. Even though it’s not necessary to have all your processes in order before you outsource.
I thought I was ready with everything but I hadn’t thought about how I would communicate with my VA.
Communicating with my VA began to fill the time I wanted back to myself.
How would I assign her tasks? How would I indicate priority? How could I change priorities while she was working on things and have her see them?
What did I need to review in the short term while she learnt the ropes? What did I want to review long term? How would I send her my feedback? How could I create and assign “fix this” tasks?
How could I see what she was working on without interrupting her? How could I make my checklists and training videos available to her in a way that was easy for her to reference?
Not only was all this communication losing me unnecessary time. It was costing me the time my VA had to spend answering my questions!
Admittedly, I’m a little bit (okay, a lot) of a control freak. But it is a big step to open your business up to someone else, to have them publishing your content, communicating with your customers, and being a critical part of you keeping to your launch timelines.
I found a way to work with my VA that gives me complete oversight and control of prioritising her tasks without adding any extra effort for either of us, and you can too!
Watch this week’s featured Facebook Live video to learn……
- How to decide what tasks to hand off to your VA
- What you can do to setup a smooth onboarding process
- Ways to effectively cut down on time spent back and forth answering questions
- How to give your VA access to your software tools without compromising security
When I started this online business I had one very clear lifestyle goal in mind: to take all of December and January off every year to completely immerse myself and enjoy Christmas, New Year, and Summer Holidays with my family.
The idea of taking a two month summer vacation felt like the ultimate indulgence, the dream lifestyle, living a first class life. If I could achieve this one lifestyle goal in my first year of business then I would be winning!
So although we’re in the middle of winter down here in New Zealand (and I’m having calls with clients in tank tops while I’m cosy in a woolly jumper) I see you amazing mompreneurs torn between spending time at the beach and time at your desk.
I want to tell you that summertime is the time to prioritise family over work, lifestyle over business, and live your dream summer adventures.
What does your dream summer look like?
How are you present with your kids? What adventures are you going on with your family?
What work would be fun for you to do? What work activities might fit easily into the gaps between summer adventures?
A dream summer will look different for each of us. And year to year our dream summer may look different as our kids grow up and our adventures change.
The number one reason we create our own businesses is to have the flexibility and funds to spend time with our family and go on adventures when we want, for as long as we want.
We need to remember that we are the boss. We call the shots. We set the deadlines. We make the plans. And you have the power to change them all!
Let me talk you through how to reclaim balance between work and life during your summer vacation so you can enjoy time by the pool without feeling like you’re falling behind with work.
Watch this week’s featured Facebook Live video to learn…
- The secret to setting your ideal Summer work hours
- Where you need to get really honest with yourself
- What you can still get done on those laziest of Summer days
- How to prepare for an even more balanced Summer next year
I was embarrassed by the size of my email list for a long time.
I tracked my numbers. The traffic to my website, my social media followers, the readers of my blog, the subscribers on my email list.
I tried to remind myself that everyone starts at 0 and grows the same way, one new subscriber at a time.
I re-read this blog post from Alexandra Franzen to remind myself that one hundred people reading my blog is like helping and inspiring a sold out music venue.
And yet each time I went into my tracking spreadsheet my heart sank to see how slowly my audience was growing, or soared when I had an unusual spike in growth.
Tracking my numbers was doing nothing for my business… because I was doing it wrong.
The numbers I was tracking weren’t affecting the actions or decision I took in my business.
I needed to track numbers that told me how effective my marketing strategy, sales funnel, and customer relationship management were.
Did I need to focus on list building to get more eyes on content that was already converting well? Or did I need to up my copywriting game to increase sign ups, bookings, and sales?
Was my decision to ditch my entire online marketing strategy to focus on Facebook Live video paying off? Was the investment in a Pinterest course generating the increase in traffic I had expected?
I needed to track numbers that told me what was working in my business and what wasn’t, so that I could take action.
Ditch those vanity metrics, stop feeling bad about the size of your list (you don’t need a big list to generate great income anyway), and let me show you how to track the numbers that matter.
I remember when content upgrades became a thing.
The idea that you create a freebie for every blog post (or podcast episode, or video) that your audience can sign up with their email address to receive.
It made so much sense! I could see exactly why and how this would work. There were an ever increasing number of blog posts (ironically) that gave you ideas for what to offer that would compliment the free content.
But I couldn’t even get a blog post out on a consistent schedule. Let alone creating a whole other something to give away too. It already took me for-ever to publish a solid blog post.
I was using Mailchimp as my email marketing service at the time. How would I even offer more than one freebie? There was a whole sign up sequence (the opt in form, email confirmation, and delivery of the freebie) to create every time!
I thought I would never have the time to create and set up content upgrades for my regular content.
There is a next level you can take your opt in freebies right now to grow your list. And it’s not to go from 0 – 100 all at once creating content upgrades for everything!
Watch this week’s featured Facebook Live video to learn…
- The ONE step you want people to take once they discover you and your business.
- Why you don’t need to start creating a content upgrade for every blog post, video, or podcast & what to do instead.
- The SIX stages of upping your opt in freebie (aka: lead magnet, content upgrade) game.
- Why context is key to making it an easy yes for people to join your email list.
4 Steps To Publish Consistent Content On The Platforms That Matter For Your Business (With A Marketing Strategy To Back It Up)
For the longest time I couldn’t stick to a blogging schedule.
I tried all the things people tell you to do like brainstorm a bunch of ideas so you always have something to write about, and use an editorial calendar to plan out your posts. I even got my writing process really well defined with pre-writing questions and a publishing checklist.
But you know what? It still took me FOR-ever to get from idea to publishing that blog post and sharing it on social media. How long is forever? 3-5 hours.
(Not quite the same as tapping out a progress update on my latest novel like I used to do back in my fiction writing days on my blog: No Excuses. Just Write.)
How 3-5 hours of work each week fits into your week is going to be different than mine, or anyone else’s. If you’re working 40 hours a week and blogging is the core content you create for your marketing strategy then that’s pretty okay. If you work 15 hours a week, like me, then using a third of your work time for a blog post and a handful of social media posts is not an effective way to market your business!
Not only that but blogging is just one type of marketing you can do for your business, and marketing is just one of the MANY things you do to keep your business running and growing.
Now I do all of my online marketing in 3-5 hours a week. Every week. To consistently publish a blog post, daily posts on my Facebook Page, three Facebook Lives, three videos on my YouTube channel, an email to my subscribers, and three new pins of my own content on Pinterest.
It’s the holy grail of an online content marketing strategy, right? Posting consistently, every week, to your blog, email list, and social platforms.
How would you feel if you were sending consistent, valuable content to your audience every single week? What would it allow you to let go of? How many distractions would it remove from your daily work? How much confidence would it give you?
It is possible! And I want to uncomplicate it for you. You don’t have to go from 0 – 100 all at once. You can create a marketing strategy that fits where you and your business are right now. And remember that done is better than perfect. And done looks pretty awesome.
Let me step you through it…
Stop trying to do ALL THE THINGS!
Focus on what gets results for your business with the FREE Get Focused Workbook.
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