Word-of-mouth advertising is the most effective and affordable way to get new business (92% of consumers believe a recommendation from a friend or family over any other type of advertising).
Here are a few ways to get people talking about your business and sending new clients your way.
- Make your customer service so memorable that people are compelled to tell others (for example, send handwritten thank-you notes or give small gifts on clients’ birthdays).
- Add a line at the end of your e-newsletters encouraging readers to forward to their friends.
- Create a referral program to motivate customers to send new business your way.
- Create a company page on LinkedIn and share valuable content your target audience will want to read and share.
- Send press releases about your company’s newest products or latest achievements to trade magazines.
- If you’re quoted or featured in a news story, share it on your website, push it out on social media, and include it in your e-newsletter.
- Attend industry events to build your network of referral partners. Make sure you spend time talking to people and learning about their businesses; networking is a two-way street.
- Speak at conferences, networking events, or even the local library. Hand out business cards and encourage attendees to share your contact information with anyone who may need your services.
- Ask current customers for testimonials you can add to your website.
- Refer business you can’t handle (whether you’re too busy or it falls outside of your scope) to other businesses, and they’ll be more likely to return the favor.
- Run a highly targeted Facebook ad focused on influencers in your niche.
- Join LinkedIn, Facebook, and Google+ groups where your customers spend time. Contribute to the conversations and provide helpful information (not promotional content).
This is the fourth in an ongoing series of expert interviews. Check out the earlier ones: A Taxes & Accounting with Amy Northard, the CPA for Creatives, Facebook Groups with Emylee Williams of Think Creative Collective, and Hiring an Attorney with Joey Vitale of Indie Creative Law.
Do you love podcasts? Me too. I have so many I love and not nearly enough time to listen to them all. One of those can’t miss shows for me is The Creative Empire with co-hosts Reina Pomeroy and Christina Scalera.
This dynamic duo’s show features the creative industry’s thought leaders in easy-to-digest 20- to 45-minute interviews. They started their show on May 18th last year, and since then have shared 87 amazing episodes covering a wide range of creative and entrepreneurial topics.
Today, the incredibly sweet and giving Reina is sharing a bit about the podcast’s start, along with some super helpful tips for anyone thinking of starting their own podcast (and at this point, it seems like almost everyone is!).
Q: Why did you and Christina start The Creative Empire podcast?
A: Christina came to me with the idea. She saw a need in the creative industry. There are a ton of creative conferences, but not a lot of other free, reliable educational tools out there. We wanted to interview people who our listeners would be really excited about, and would want to see at a conference but might not be able to pay for. Not just the pretty Instagram feed content, but nitty-gritty tactical things that people can use in their businesses.
Q: What do you love about podcasting?
A: When you take away the frustrations about the technology part, you can actually enjoy the process of teaching and being creative with the work we do. It allows us both to be really nimble in our businesses. It allows us to be ahead of the trends.
Q: What do you like about doing your show with a co-host?
A: People who solo host are so courageous. I think I feel blessed I have Christina. We get to do a lot of tag-teaming and collaborating. We sometimes disagree and that allows people to see two perspectives.
Q: How expensive is it to run a podcast?
A: Podcasting does cost quite a bit of money. I knew there would be some costs incurred, but I wasn’t sure what that meant. We had to pay a designer for branding, buy microphones, build the website, and every single episode is edited and transcribed. We have a paid team to help us create, edit, and market the episodes. I don’t think people realize that.
Q: Why is it worth it to you financially?
A: It’s been a huge marketing platform for each of us. Our voices are elevated because people hear us. If we get 2,000 or 3,000 downloads on an episode, I don’t think I get that many page views in a day on a new blog post.
Q: What did you do right with your podcast from Day 1, and what’s a mistake you made?
A: We wanted branding to be good from the get-go, and I’m happy we made that investment. At the beginning, Christina was editing our podcast to keep costs down and we realized it was worth the investment to outsource that. People who do this all day every day are much faster and efficient.
Q: What are some practical tips you can share for people who want to start a podcast?
A: Think through how a podcast fits into your marketing strategy. Interviewing people willy-nilly won’t cut it. It really needs to fit into the rest of your business. Don’t do it for the fame. The median download is 179 per episode. Most people don’t get past episode seven—that’s an interesting statistic. If you’re going to do it, go full out. Create a content plan and editorial calendar. Create procedures for yourself to actually get it done. There’s so much education out there on how to launch a podcast, which is totally different than producing a podcast. You need to study both.
Q: What’s something that really surprised you about podcasting?
A: Podcasting is a systemized process. There’s a list of 50 different touch points that have to happen on every single episode. Fine tuning that list of actions and having those systems down is really crucial. We have six people touching each episode so it can be confusing.
Q: What do you say to someone who is thinking of starting a podcast but has never been a guest on one?
A: I was on four or five podcasts before we started ours and I loved it. I loved every single one I did. If you feel awkward or nervous doing it, you may just need to grow into it, but it may be that it’s not the way you like to provide content. Find the ways you feel comfortable interacting with your audience.
Q: What advice do you have for people who are wanting to guest on your (or another) podcast?
A: You have to be really good at learning how to pitch. The pitch is not about you. The pitch is about where you’re trying to get your work featured and how you can serve their audience. Listen to the podcast first. You have to know who you’re speaking to if you want to be featured.
Q: What do you see for the future of podcasting?
A: Everyone is going to have a podcast this year. Last year was the year of Facebook groups. This year you’re going to see a lot of podcasts, especially in the creative industry. It went from courses to Facebook groups to podcasts.
Q: What’s in the cards for The Creative Empire?
A: We’re going to keep challenging ourselves to pitch to scarier folks, people who intimidate us but inspire us and that we get excited about learning from.
Visit The Creative Empire podcast website to learn more or subscribe. You can also get to know the hosts better by visiting their own websites. Reina Pomeroy is a life and business success coach for heart-centered creatives, and can be found at Reina + Co. Christina is a consultant who helps creatives streamline their businesses and can be found at ChristinaScalera.com.
You have the freebie. You know what you want to sell. But how do you bridge the gap between the two in an engaging and effective way using your email sequence?
There are four kinds of emails for a sales funnel that should play a role in your email sequence. Let’s go through each one, and then how to string them together.
1. Welcome Emails
The welcome email is the first one your new subscriber gets after confirming their email address. It delivers your freebie and gives them some tips on how to use it. You can also provide a short introduction to who you are and what you do.
But that’s not the only welcome email you’ll send. There’s also a second welcome email—a check-in email—sent six to 24 hours later with a reminder about your freebie. This email can separate you from the pack of other emails they’ve subscribed to receive. Use this welcome email to remind your reader why they signed up for your freebie in the first place, include another link, and explain what they will gain from using your freebie.
Depending on your email service provider, you can set this email to send only to people who haven’t clicked on the link in your first welcome message, but I like to send the reminder email either way.
2. Value Emails
Another email to include in your sales funnel sequence are value emails. The content and number of these depend on the freebie around which you’re building your funnel.
If it’s an email course or challenge delivered over the course of X number of days, those emails will make up your value emails. If delivering your freebie in a single email, find other related blog posts, content upgrades, and videos to add into your sequence.
Some points to check to make sure you’re creating engaging value emails:
- Is the email interesting?
- Think of the purpose of your freebie. What does it help your subscriber achieve? Does your email help them move toward that goal? Or take what they’ve learned to another level?
- Think hands, heart, and head. Does it help them do something (hands)? Does it make them think (head)? Does it make them feel (heart)?
- Does it lead toward your offer you’re going to make even though you’re not making that offer quite yet?
In most cases, you want two or three value emails in your sales funnel sequence.
Ready to build an irresistible online presence? Download the FREE Monthly Content Planning Kit and get started. This 16-page workbook will help you create content your audience actually wants to read.
3. Decoy Sales Emails
As a way to prepare your subscriber for the offer you’re going to make in your sales funnel, we can use decoy sales emails. These talk about your offer and show your offer in use (and the results it gets) without making an explicit offer to them to sign up or purchase it.
Even though you’ll add two or three links to your offer within the email as you mention your product or service, you won’t be making an offer in this email.
The key to making these emails a success? Make it valuable. You’re still teaching something.
For example, if you sell subscription boxes, your decoy sales email might be showing people how to pick the perfect presents for their friends. Include your subscription box as one of the tips.
Another example for service-based businesses: If you’re a bookkeeper, your decoy sales email might have to do with setting up their financial systems, getting a great bookkeeper to help you set these up like your package (link to your package), which focuses on X, Y, and Z (insert the features of your package).
You’ll want two of these emails before you make the offer. There will likely be people who will purchase your offer right away from these emails, so include a rule that removes them from your email sequence once they’ve bought your offer, or do it manually if your email service provider doesn’t have this ability.
4. Offer Emails
Finally, your offer emails! You’ve delivered value and introduced your subscribers to your offer in a way that demonstrates how it can be used and get results for them. If they’ve been opening and reading your emails, the hard work is done.
Now you just have to make an offer and then send a reminder about it.
The key to a great offer for a sales funnel is to build in some urgency. Why does your subscriber want to take action right away? In 24 hours? In 48 hours? What will they lose if they don’t? Or what will they gain?
- Will they save money?
- Will they get some one-on-one time with you?
- Will they score a sweet bonus?
If you just leave the offer open-ended, they’ll push off taking action until tomorrow. And I can tell you that it’s pretty a rare event when tomorrow actually comes around.
Putting It All Together
How you put your emails for a sales funnel together will ultimately depend on what your freebie is, and if it’s spread out over a few (or many) days.
But for a one-day delivery email, your email sequence would look something like this:
- Welcome Email (Day 1)
- Check-In Email (Day 1)
- Value Email (Day 3)
- Decoy Sales Email (Day 5)
- Value Email (Day 7)
- Decoy Sales Email (Day 9)
- Offer Email (Day 10)
- Reminder Email (Day 11)
- Optional: Value Email (Day 13)
- Move subscriber to your main list or out of sales sequence
Be Okay with Imperfection
Want to know my absolute favorite thing about sales funnel email sequences? They’re not set in stone. You don’t have to get all of the emails perfect in the first go. You can add to your sequence, change the content or delete emails entirely.
Hailey Dale of Trunked Creative is a content strategist and chief marketing officer for small business owners who are totally over the shoulds and ready to build their content empires—their way. Through her online programs and DIY kits, tell-all blog posts, and strategy sessions, she gives them the tools to get more visible in their businesses, while making it feel like a streamlined and strategic delight. Get Hailey’s amazing FREE monthly content planning kit and get started creating content that converts.
Creating your first ecourse is like magic. You pour in time, love, and brilliance, and—poof—you get a fantastic product, ready to go out into the world.
Course building is an intensive process that looks easy but leaves most entrepreneurs feeling like ‘wanna’preneurs. If building your first ecourse is on your to-do list, but all you’ve managed is a folder full of good ideas, here are three actionable steps to get you on your way.
1. Decide who the ecourse is for
This might sound obvious, but it’s a step so many course creators overlook. It’s more than defining whether your course is for bloggers or business owners. It’s about digging deep to create a real profile of your ideal student to help drive validation, building, and user testing. The more specific you get now, the better results you’ll see later.
Is your course for absolute novices looking to hit the ground running, season experts looking for a new perspective, or folks who fall somewhere in between? Are your students coming to you because they want a deep dive into theory and philosophy, or because they need to solve a problem and they need to solve it now?
It also helps to think about your students’ situation and availability. Can they dedicate an hour of uninterrupted time? Or are they balancing your course with business tasks and caring for family? Disruptions, stressors, and time crunches can (and do) affect learning. Make design decisions with these factors in mind.
Once you have a good idea of who your ideal student is, go out and talk to people who fit the description. Invite them to tell stories about their experiences with your topic, and ask follow-up questions. You may find your idea, as it exists, is validated in its entirety. Or, you might find you may need to retool certain aspects. While this can be frustrating or disheartening, it’s not a bad thing. Instead, getting this information early allows you to refine your idea into an even stronger product—a winning situation for all involved.
2. Decide what will make your content pop
This is a tougher question, especially if you’re designing your first ecourse. Not all delivery options are created equal, however, there’s no one best choice. Depending on the nature of what you’re teaching, and to whom you’re teaching, you’ll find different delivery media are best.
Let’s talk about some different situations.
If you’re teaching a technical skill (how to use a program), a physical skill (exercise), or how to work through a specific process (building a mind map), you’ll likely find video is your best fit. This allows users the chance to see what you’re doing. If you’re asking learners to follow along, this is absolutely essential. You’ll want to consider adding a transcript with descriptions of what’s happening on the screen to ensure visually impaired students are still able to benefit from your content.
Video has one major disadvantage—we can’t focus on it for long. Research has shown the optimal length for an instructional video is anywhere from five to seven minutes, and 10 minutes is near the upper limit. The longer a video goes, the more likely your student will tune out, unless they’re actively engaging (e.g. following along with what you’re doing). Video can also be expensive to produce and edit, and can add an extra layer of anxiety.
A text and audio combination is a great combination for teaching raw information, theory, or skills that don’t require visuals (e.g. meditation, mindset, etc). They’re easy to produce and access. Providing audio and a written transcript (or written instructions and an audio recording) allows students to pick what method works best for them. Text and audio combinations can also be great for learning on the go, or if your students will primarily access your content through their cell phone, as these are less data intensive.
You may find, however, a text and audio combination is not rich enough for more involved skillsets. It’s also important to note if you’re combining audio and text into a Powerpoint presentation or eLearning module that you should not have your audio and text be the same, as it can actually prevent your students from remembering what you’re teaching. Text can be short phrases from the audio, but it should not be a direct transcript.
3. Decide on an end goal
One of the most important parts of a course is the information structure. Everything needs to be building to a single goal. The cycle of introduce-reinforce-build upon for content is not useful if you don’t know what level of capacity you’re looking to build in your students.
You want to create an end goal that’s concrete and demonstrable. Students should be able to see a noticeable change between where they were when they began your course, and where they are at the end. By opening your course with the end goal, you give students a framework of what to expect and a way to benchmark their progress.
As a course creator, defining the end goal is a key step in making sure your information structure flows. When you look at your end goal, ask yourself, “What’s the first thing someone needs to know about this?” For example, if you were teaching a child to read, the first, most basic skill someone needs is the ability to recognize all the letters to fluency. You then ask, “For what is this the foundation?” In the case of our reading example, it means your student then learns the sounds associated with each letter.
By repeatedly asking yourself these three questions, you create a roadmap of what content you’ll need to include and the order in which it will need to go.
Building a ecourse, like running a business, gets easier once you understand the systems that make up the foundation. Put these tips into action and get building!
Sami Yuhas is an instructional and graphic designer, specializing in taking entrepreneurs and businesses from the inspiration phase of courses, workshops, and the like and walking them step-by-step to a ready-to-sell program, whether that’s a one hour workshop or a one year intensive. She founded Orange Juice Diaries with the goal of helping specialist solopreneurs bring their gifts to a wider audience, allowing them to generate more impact and income. Find her via her website or on Facebook.
GUEST POST from Fox Emm of Blogging Onward
Have a blog? You know it’s important to create high-quality content readers want to bookmark and share with their friends and colleagues. But why stop there? If you have enough useful posts, you can easily make them into eBooks without adding much additional content. EBooks can be used as incentives for people to sign up for your newsletter or, if you add “bonus” content, you may sell them to grow your passive income stream.
There are a variety of ways to create eBooks, but I’ll cover how to make your blog posts into a book using Microsoft Word. (The same principles apply when using other programs, but this is the easiest way I’ve found that requires very little design background.)
1. Choose Posts Carefully
I’m sure your blog is full of great posts your customers and readers would love to check out, your eBook must be focused. Decide on the topic you’d like to cover within the eBook, and go from there. Great topics for content upgrades include: how-to articles and information collections, but you know what your audience likes.
2. Open a New Word Document & Create a Cover
The first page of your eBook will be the front cover, so keep that in mind as you design. If you’re artistically inclined or make your own blog graphics, you can insert an image into the first page of your Word Document and have it fill the screen for your cover. If you’re not, use these guidelines to make a basic cover for your content upgrade:
- Hit return fourteen times and align the text to the center.
- Change the font size to 72, choose a legible font and font color.
- Type the title of your eBook and hit return 1 time.
- Change the font size to 36 and type ‘By’ and your name, your blog name, and/or your business name.
- Go to the “insert” menu and select “break” and then “page break” to skip to the next page.
3. Create a Table of Contents
If your eBook will cover more than 10 subjects, include a table of contents to help readers keep track of where they can find certain information. (If you’re creating a shorter project, then skip to number 4.)
- Make sure your font size is still 36, and the text is still centered.
- Type ‘Contents.’
- Hit return four times.
- Change the font size to 28, and begin a centered numbered list containing the names of each of your blog posts.
- Insert a Page Break at the end of the table of contents to reach a new page.
Don’t worry about page numbers just yet. If your book is less than 50 pages you don’t need to include them at all. You just want to be sure readers know the order of the topics you’ll be covering.
4. Add Content
This is the fun part. Set your font size to 38 and enter the title of your first blog post, then hit return and change your font to 12 for standard reading. Now you’re ready! Open a tab with your first blog post in it. Select and copy the first blog post you intend to use, then paste it into the Word document. If the formatting from the blog carries over to your Word document and you don’t want it to, you may select “paste text only” or highlight the text you’d like to change and make individual changes in Word.
If you’d like to include images from your blog in the eBook, download them onto your computer. You may insert them by using Insert -> Pictures -> Picture from File, and selecting the images you’d like to use. You may drag them around, resize them, or make more changes once they’re copied into your book. After each blog post, insert a page break before starting to copy the next round of content. Rinse and repeat for every post!
5. Write Additional Content
If you’re going to be publishing your eBook, you’ll want to add some additional content so folks who already read your blog feel like they’re getting something extra. The easiest way to add more content is to add an introduction and conclusion to your book.
Introduction: The introduction doesn’t have to be more than a few hundred words. It should be an overview of what readers can expect from your eBook. You can discuss why what you’ll be teaching is important, and who you are or why you know enough to write a book on the subject. You can mention your website or services in passing here, but this isn’t a place to make a hard sell. The main purpose of this section is to provide value, not to make a sales pitch.
Conclusion: The conclusion should wrap up your content and tie the book together. Thank folks for taking the time to read the book, and if you don’t intend to put an author’s note into the book, this is the place to plug your company, blog, or website to let readers know where they can find additional content.
Author’s Note/About the Author: If you’ve put together a long eBook that justifies an author’s note (a dozen chapters or so), then include one. This should have details about your website or business, kind of like the “about” page on your website.
Chapters/Posts Not from Your Blog: If you intend to sell the eBook you have written, you’ll want to add additional content to justify the cost. Charging people for information you already provide for free on your website isn’t the most ethically sound action, and many readers will resent it. Fit the new chapter(s) you write in wherever they make sense/flow within the context of the rest of the book. You may also add worksheets or a workbook section of your book (depending on the topic) in lieu of writing additional chapters. The opportunities are limitless.
6. Make it an eBook
The best format for your eBook is a PDF. If your book will contain a lot of images or photographs, you’ll want to export the PDF in higher quality, which will result in a larger file size for the download. If you don’t feature a lot of images in your eBook, then you can get away with exporting at a lower quality, which will give the book a smaller file size.
Ta-da! Now you have an eBook you can send to your newsletter subscribers, new customers, or giveaway in your next blog post. I recommend hosting your downloads through Dropbox so they don’t leech your website’s bandwidth. If you change the last digit of the sharing link from Dropbox from a 0 to a 1, your visitors will never know they didn’t get the file directly from your website.
For more information about how to write better or improve your website/blog, check out BloggingOnward.com
Fox Emm is a freelance writer and editor with Blogging Onward who lives with two tiny Chihuahuas and a Corn Snake in rural Virginia. When she isn’t copywriting or ghostwriting for business owners and organizations, you can find her writing horror entertainment reviews or short stories that will make your skin crawl.
Do you publish posts, only to realize seconds later that you needed to add headings or alt tags to your images? With a checklist right inside your WordPress post editing screen, you can make sure you’ve taken care of all the important bits before you publish. I use the free Advanced Custom Fields plugin to create this functionality.
Create a new checkbox field
Checkboxes are a built-in option with ACF, all you need to do is just list the options on their own line in the box. Here’s what my field looks like on the back end:
Looking for what to include in your checklist? Here are some ideas:
- Take a break between writing and editing
- Craft a better headline
- Use headings and bullets
- Images are uploaded in the correct size
- Images have alt tags
- Get Yoast SEO to green
- Get Yoast Readability to green
- Include a branded Pinterest image
- Link to other posts
- Assign categories and tags
- Include a call to action: end with a link to a service, product or opt-in freebie (content upgrades)!
- Will my customer care about this content?
- Preview the post
Set up the field view options
You only need this checklist to show up on posts. By default, the location rules are set to have it show up only if the post type is a post, so there’s no need to change that.
You might like to change where and how the checklist shows up on the edit screen though. You’ll probably want it in the sidebar, so change the position to Side.
You could also change the style, if you have a preference for how you want your checklist to look. This is how the Standard (left) and the Seamless (right) look:
With those settings in place, as soon as you save the custom field it will appear on all edit screens you’ve specified in the options.
If it’s missing, check the Screen Options tab on the top right of the edit screen to make sure it’s enabled there.
The field values are saved whenever the post is saved (no matter the status), but since we haven’t added any template code they’re only used on the admin side. That’s the goal here, so we’re done!
You could easily use this same method to create an empty text area for notes and reminders. You can also add your own custom fields that you do want to show up on your site.
Anouska Rood is a web designer and developer working with clients 1-on-1 to create or improve their websites. Sign up for her free Upgrade Your Site 14-Day DIY Challenge.