15 Sweet Ideas to Grow Your Solo Business
Do you want to stop using your website as a placeholder for your domain name, and make some money?
You are a creative entrepreneur with great services and products, right? But, if you are fairly new to this online biz thing, there are a ton of questions that need answering.
I am also a creative entrepreneur and I make marketing pretty. Since I don't stop there, let me take you where the pretty go to make money.
So, today I am going to shine a light on 15 ideas that are invaluable at growing a creative, solo business. These are foolproof! Start with one and commit to focusing on that ONE. Then pick another. Take baby steps and overwhelm will take a hike! This is what I have done and I have grown my Instagram account more than double in 4 weeks! Facebook is my next focus.
Success is on the horizon, can you see it?!
- User-Friendly + Professional Website | TIP: squarespace.com
For $12 per month you can have a professional looking website. You can hire me to customize your site with pretty design elements and marketing techniques that grow your business or you can create your own. It is the type of program that beginners can tackle, when the budget is small. If you don't have a website or want to switch providers, you need to check out Squarespace. After years of using Wordpress, I can't recommend it enough, especially for home-based business owners and creative entrepreneurs. Why? Because it is easy and professional looking, two great reasons. No more needs to be said!
A color style guide, a logo, image styles, template designs for social media marketing and print materials, including a welcome packet design for new clients, are all must-haves for a successful brand.
- Opt-in Freebies
Create a worksheet that will help your audience out. How about a calendar or mini course? Then, make these FREE when they sign up to get on your email list. The goal is to grow your email list. Don't use the words, "sign up for my newsletter". That strategy doesn't work anymore. Be specific.
These freebiees are like delicious little appetizers that wet the appetite of your target audience. Don't know who your target audience is? Click here for access to my Target Market and Marketing Goals Worksheet. I would definitely start here if you don't know who your perfect client is. Marketing to a question mark will get you nowhere!
These are great tools to establish yourself as a thought leader in your field. Remember, you do not need to be established to do these. You just need to have the desire to learn + do. I've experienced this first hand! Doing webinars will HELP YOU BECOME ESTABLISHED.
The best way to learn is by taking one. Every big marketing expert has one for free. Amy Porterfield shows you how to make them, but their are many different styles. So, just don't just watch Amy. Take a couple of free ones and see how you want to model your first simple, straightforward webinar. Another one I like because she is easy to follow and doesn't go as fast as Amy, is Caitlin Bacher. Caitlin is a social media expert and was the one that helped me double + my Instagram followers. Here she will show you how to get people to sign up.
A webinar is an informational series of slides and images. These are used as a way to build trust and sell products. At $397 per year, there is Webinar Jam. This is highly recommended, but the price tag may be more than you want to spend. If that is the case, try Google Hangouts on Air. It is free and allows you to have an unlimited number of viewers.
Periscope is a live streaming app from Twitter that allows you to casually connect with viewers and conduct simple tutorials that are free lead-ins for a webinar, e-course or product launch. The possibilities are endless! Oh, and did I mention it is free?! Kim Garst is one to follow on this topic, as well as Melissa Griffin, from The Nectar Collective. Melissa makes periscope look easy! Here is a video from Kim called "5 Ways to Build Your List Using Periscope".
Like Kim says: "The money is in the list!" So start learning about this awesome, free relationship marketing tool, today.
- Landing Pages
Landing Pages are pages that make growing your email list a breeze. Having a landing page simplifies what you want your viewers to do. A website has many choices, but if you make your landing page your home page, you can increase engagement. Squarespace has free cover pages that do just that.
According to the Hootsuite article by Olsy Sorokina, "Landing pages are an inseparable part of the web browsing experience: we have all visited one at some point, whether or not we were conscious of the fact. Whenever you click on an online ad, register for a webinar, download a survey or a white paper, it’s likely that a landing page facilitated your experience. It’s not surprising, then, that these types of pages are an essential tool for a marketer, as they help move the potential lead down the sales funnel, converting a visitor into a customer." This is a great article if you want to use social media ads to grow your biz. Read the rest of the article here.
Paid apps are Lead PagesSumoMe + LaunchRock (Free or $5 option) LaunchRock and Squarespace are the least expensive options and I love both, because I have used both.
Teach your audience how to do something that comes easy to you, but not to them. If it solves a problem for them, you will be their hero and they will come back to you for more. Make a simple FREE mini e-course that will make them want to opt-in for a paid course. They will sign up and receive a series of emails with step by step instructions from yours truly. I am launching my first e-course at the end of February. Click on the green box at the end of this post to get on my email list. This will keep you in the loop about my free mini course and valuable bonuses that you won't want to miss!
I am going to be completely honest. I didn't want to blog. I wanted to design. I built my squarespace site WITH a blog...not AS a blog. But, with the way social media works, a blog is another must-have. Build trust with small step by step articles. The light bulb went on after I noticed I was going back time after time to the same blogs that answered my questions. "I can do that", I thought. And I am!
Just this week I was in Fresno window shopping and recharging my batteries. We live about an hour away from anything other than Target, Kohl's, Michael's and Marshall's. I went into a store that everyone talks about, called Anthropologie. I had never been in it! After chatting it up with the stylist, she asked if I would like to give an in-store workshop. Of course I said yes and am now working on the details, but anyone could do it. This will help you gain a local following. Ask local stores that cater to your target market and create a simple workshop. How fun! I will definitely keep you posted, and you betcha that I will have a blog post and probably video to share. Stay tuned!
- Start or Join a Facebook Group
Interacting with like-minded entrepreneurs in this way is great for your business and your confidence. Being a solo biz owners can be a lonely road, but while you are walking on the road, why not chat with others walking the same path? Search Facebook Groups and find one that is right for you. Join my group for creative entrepreneurs, freelance graphic designers or whatever solopreneur title you go by...creative momboss works too.
- Coupon Codes + Discounts
Offer discounts. Run coupon code special on social media, if that applies to your business. Everyone loves a discount!
- Professional Photos
Sometimes it isn't in the budget to hire a photographer, but where there is a will, there's a way. Professional photography shows professionalism and helps your brand. Get out that pretty lipstick, clean your desk and flash those pearly whites! CHEESE!
This is for social media marketing, which is relationship marketing in action. Being consistent is possible with a little planning and some help from Hootsuite. Schedule your posts in advance, for as often as you want. Hootsuite has a free plan you can try. I used to use an app called Buffer, which I loved, but they don't have automation for Instagram. So I have the Hootsuite app on my phone and with that, I can send my images to Instagram. EASY! There is also Buffer, and for Instagram there is PLANN, Grum, + Planoly. PLANN and Planoly allow you to drag and drop into a grid, so that you can get your layout just right. Grum allows you to create designs on your desktop and schedule them out as far in advance as you want. It is really helpful and I use it all the time.
- Social Media Image Posts
Image posts keep you connected to your viewers with quotes that range from funny to touching. If you show that you have a sense of humor that they connect with, or engage with heartfelt sentiments that make an emotional connection, they will be more likely to buy from you. This takes patience, but if you use automation like I mentioned above, it will be a no brainer after scheduling. Canva is a free app that allows you to use templates to make your posts the right size. They also have an extensive photo bank with photos priced at $1 each! You can't beat that!
Follow their blog for great tips on how to use their app, along with insider tips and tricks for graphic design. You can also read my latest blog post that takes you step by step through creating your first template in Canva. You'll be hooked after you get the hang of it.
- Pay for a Course
About a month ago, I signed up for a free webinar on Instagram and Facebook Marketing. I had no intention of paying for anything, but after the free stuff was presented, I found myself hitting the "BUY" button! And, just like that, I became a paying customer of Caitlin Bacher and Ferideh Caesar. It was totally worth the money. I have more than quadrupled my Instagram followers and I am establishing relationships that are providing support and, at times, comic relief. As a reformed, SERIAL FREEBIE TAKER, I can tell you that it is worth it to pay for information that you don't know.
Sure, you can get it for free, but nothing compares to the paid stuff and professional support. It is just not the same!
This simple list was made from my own experience in the last year. I re-branded my business in June of 2015 and since applying almost all of these things, my business has changed for the better! Webinars and e-courses are on my list for this summer, and I will be adding Lead Pages too. This is all a process, because just like Rome wasn't built in a day, neither is your business!
I'm still plugging away, doing things I've never tried before. If I can do it, you can do it!
Which one on this list would you try first? Let me know if I can help.