This week there were things in our house that needed repairs. Like, baseboards that were wet and ruined in the bathroom and behind the fridge ( I will never buy a fridge with an ice and water thingy AGAIN!). I told my husband, no problem, I can find a you tube video on how to put new baseboards on and we can do it for free. How hard can it be to use a crow bar to pry those things off the wall anyway? He immediately told me to get my head out of the clouds and come back to earth. Then he told me to hire someone that knows what they are doing. I couldn't really argue with that.
We always want to save money, right?
We're moms with plans. We can figure it out, right?
When it comes to business, it actually saves you money in the long run to hire someone...unless of course you are utterly, stinkin' broke, like I have been for the last five years. If that is you right now, pick one that you will jump on board with, when you have the money.
You have to think of your time as money. If you pay for a service that saves you time, you will be free to put other things into place that will make you money.
Today, I am going to outline four services that you should spend some money on.
They will help you put some marketing on autopilot and give you peace of mind, more time to drink tea, browse antique shops and find new plants for your garden. For this to work though, you need to be ready to make a plan and do it, like I did last June.
Last June was when I decided my graphic design business needed to come into the current century. Since then, I have found that the following four things are absolutely worth spending money on. These will grow your business like miracle grow for plants! If you only have a website and want to increase exposure to your business (so you stop hearing crickets), this is where you start. Some of the links below give me a little credit for referring you if you decide to purchase a paid program, but I wouldn't be recommending them if they didn't work, plus I wouldn't be using them either!
Paid Apps Every Solopreneur Should Have
Social Media does for your website, like what the water cooler did for the office in the 80's and 90's. It brings people together by sharing info, wit and support from the comfort of your Target chair!
The first two apps on the list put social media on auto pilot. I am going to be honest here...these have been the hardest two for me to incorporate into my business. Planning ahead can be hard when you are learning so many different online marketing techniques! I know. I came from just having a website and a Facebook page for five years and was frozen with overwhelm, to starting and doubling my Instagram account following in 4 weeks. I have made valuable professional relationships in Facebook and grown my email list, to name a few successes.
If I can do this...while homeschooling my three kids...you can TOTALLY DO THIS!
I used to recommend Buffer for it's ease of use.
However, a couple of months ago, my friend Jenny, over at The Domestic Wildflower, converted me. Since I am a graphic designer and need to post what I create from my computer to Instagram, as opposed to only taking pictures for Instagram, I needed an app that would do this. Right now, you can't post straight to Instagram, so an app needs to build that bridge from computer to mobile device. Unfortunately, Buffer doesn't have an app to schedule posts for this platform, YET. So, Jenny told me how it worked for her and I was sold!
The benefits of Hootsuite are:
• You can schedule posts to Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, LinkedIn and Google+
This means that you can find articles that will help solve a problem for your target audience and put them on the Hootsuite calendar to be sent out on a certain day, at a certain time. You can also sprinkle in older blog posts of yours, in with images that feature inspirational or funny quotes. Use the 80/20 rule. 80% of interesting and useful info, and 20% blog posts and selling of your products and services. The reason that this is so powerful and will wind up being a secret weapon for your business, is that it helps you be consistently in front of your target audience AND not many solopreneurs or small businesses are committed to using social media to grow their business.
• You can take advantage of a 30 day free trial. When you are done with the trial, it is only $9.99 per month.
• You can install their app so you can push desktop designs and images to your phone. These can easily be scheduled or immediately posted onto Instagram. If you want to re-post any of your favorite images on your own Instagram account, the free app Regram is the perfect solution. I actually just checked my phone for its spelling and it looks like my kids deleted it so they could re-install Pandora! GRRRRR. Ok, I'll take care of that later. LOL!
• Follow existing customers and find new ones to connect with - "Create keyword search streams to track mentions, respond to customers, and nurture leads. Hootsuite lets you monitor every conversation across your social networks, so you’re always in-the-know."
• Efficiency equals effectiveness - "Never log into multiple platforms again. Hootsuite lets you manage 100+ social networks, share tasks with Team Members, and analyze performance using one login, in one dashboard."
According to Melyssa Griffin from what was formally known as The Nectar Collective, BoardBooster was a game changer for her. She grew her followers by 1000 people in one month, when her email list was relatively small. Many other bloggers feel the same way. Why? Because, this app puts your pins on a loop and re-pins them frequently, as scheduled, for extra effectiveness. Repetition is the magic fairy dust for solopreneurs and this program is the only one that has the looping feature.
The other secret is being strategic and boardbooster will help you do be just that. Without this app, you would spend a ton of time pinning 100 pins a day. 100 pins a day, seems to be the secret sauce of this app. I am starting it this week and will be tracking my progress for another blog post in one month. Stay tuned!
The Benefits of BoardBooster are:
• Schedule Pins/Strategic Approach
• Contribute to Group Boards with Campaigns
• Improve Pin Quality
• Clean Up Boards and Remove Unwanted Pins
• Host Top Quality Group Boards
• Optimize Your Best Performing Boards and See The Best Time to Pin
• Allows Content Upgrades to grow your email list by maximum exposure.
If you click on the graphic below, you can start with 100 pins for free and go up from there. Setting aside some time to learn boardbooster will increase your business, period.
Having and growing an email list can feel difficult enough, without having to try to figure out triggered emails for opt-in freebies. What is an opt-in freebie, you ask. Well, check out my last blog post that really goes hand in hand with this one. If you want a pretty, FREE opt-in freebie, Click the box below for a customizable freebie, on me, that you can use to help grow your email list.
Mailchimp has been my favorite email marketing app for years...until I wanted to do more than just collect email addresses. Many of us creative entrepreneurs and bloggers were pulling our hair out trying to figure out how to use it to generate more income. If you want to host an e-course, give your audience a free digital gift for inputting their email, or set up any other kind of email automation, ConvertKit will take the stress out of the whole process.
The Benefits of ConvertKit
• Create Opt-In Forms With Ease For Multiple Giveaways
• Design a Landing Page To Effortlessly Collect Email Addresses
• Allow Your List To Receive Personal Emails, Which Effectively Increase Trust + Contribute to Higher Conversions of Paying Customers.
• Automate your Email Marketing Campaign
• Drag and Drop to Re-Order Emails At Any Time
• Send Perfectly Timed Broadcasts To Announce Product Launches, Blog Posts and Other Announcements
Price $29.00 per month
4. 17 Hats
Having a project management program is a necessity for a creative entrepreneur. I don't know how I survived without 17 Hats for 12 years. It is such an asset to my business, that I can't say enough good things about it. You can easily send invoices, set workflows, create and sign digital contracts, link to your bank account and much more. Click on the graphic below to get your free trial started and find out what you have been missing. I couldn't afford the monthly, up until recently, so I understand that it isn't always something that is in the budget.
What I did, was focus all my efforts on making my website a well oiled, online machine. I spelled out my design services clearly, I made my process transparent and posted each step on my design services page and last but not least, I created well designed, pricing packages.
I narrowed down my target audience and stopped providing design services for just anybody.
Because of this laser focus...that I never had before...I just sold my highest priced package last week AND I booked out my services for July, to my target audience. Our consultation call was the best one I have ever had!
My biggest motivator was that I was tired of living paycheck to paycheck, and not being treated like the professional I knew that I was. If you can't afford some or any of these business building apps, make a plan. Use the free plans while you build your business online. Then add each one as you can afford them.
I know, because that is what I did. And guess what?
You've GOT THIS!
P.S. To fly higher, you need a blog!
I know. I know! Don't shoot the messenger! But, for your online business to grow, you need to give valuable info to build trust. A blog does this.
Having a blog, anchors all of the tools listed above, to your website. If you have been wanting to start a blog, or need to jump start one that you are not using, click the image below. My digital library is growing with the addition of my Easy Blog Planning Workbook! See how you can create plenty of related blog topics, to make you feel at ease with blogging. In one sitting, you will be prepared for weeks and weeks of blogging! This is definitely for you, if you are ready to do the work to grow your business.
This workbook will help you come up with one topic at a time, decide what skill level you want to help, what kind of content you want to provide and then, provides you with plenty of space to brainstorm different blog titles. It really is a simple process.
Once you have a blog...even if it is once a month, you will be able to grow your business in a way you couldn't have imagined!
If you have any other tools that have helped grow your business AND were worth the money, please tell me in the comments below. I love hearing what other girl bosses are doing. I also love the fact that we can all help each other. Please share!