Business Advice Isn’t Universal

Business Advice Isn’t Universal

Have you ever tried on an article of clothing that claimed to be “one size fits all”? Unless you are a fit model, you’ve probably realized—at best—those clothes are actually “one size fits most” (or, more likely, “one size fits some”). The same can be said for most business advice, courses, tools, and services…what works well for one business owner may not work for you.

Unfortunately, too many companies and consultants take a one-size-fits-all approach to sales. Without context or caveat, they propose their solution as the solution to every business owner’s problems.

Just take a look at a few subject lines from emails sitting in my trash right now:

“The proven 3-step process to land high-value clients”

“3 simple secrets to get perfect clients (even if you don’t have a list!)”

“3 simple sales secrets to render your potential clients objectionless”

(Clearly, there’s power in threes!)

To be clear, I’m sure the experts who sent these emails know their stuff and truly believe in their business advice. They better if they are teaching others, right? I’ve sent many emails offering business advice, too.

The problem is when buyers take claims like these at face value. They fork over hard-earned cash (or worse, go into debt) believing they’re buying the key to their success. Without—insert course, tool, or service here—their business is doomed to fail.

Inevitably, however, the purchase doesn’t change much in their business. Maybe things get a little easier or less confusing, but very likely they don’t suddenly achieve the explosive success they hoped. Why? They put all their eggs in one faulty basket.

They believed that doing one thing (or, more likely, a magical three things) would unlock the doors to success. In truth, it’s almost never so easy. In fact, there is no single secret to success.

So, before buying into any one person’s business advice or investing in any one solution, I urge you to slow down and think critically.

Being in a mastermind or other community (like my Own it, Crush it VIP membership) is a great start. It allows you to turn to other business owners you trust and ask for their input. What purchases did they make that worked out? What didn’t? What do they think about the course, tool, coach, etc. that you’re considering? Do the claims sound legit?

Similarly, this is one way a business coach can help. They should be there to talk you through these decisions and look at them from every angle. Are they right for yourbusiness? Does this serve your goals?

More than anything, though, it’s important to trust your own intuition. What is your gut telling you about a purchase? Do you have that pesky “too good to be true” feeling? Trust that inner voice.

Too many of my clients end up investing in things from a place of fear—FOMO anyone? They’ve lost sight of their mission and values, they’ve lost trust in their instincts, and they’ve let all the voices around them drown out their own.

You know your business better than anyone else. Period. If you don’t feel right about something, it doesn’t matter how many other people are telling you it’s the greatest thing since sliced bread.

So, the next time you get a “buy this or you’re doomed” or “pay me for the secret to success” type of email, think long and hard. It’s not necessarily a bad purchase, but just be sure it’s the right purchase for you.

My Business Tools

My Business Tools

Before I give you the rundown of the business tools I use and how much I spend, let me offer a little food for thought. If you’re still bootstrapping #AllTheThings in your business, consider this:

Not spending money may be costing you more than you realize. Let’s say your hourly rate is $50. If it takes you 5 hours to manually post to Instagram, Facebook, and Twitter, that’s $250. If a social scheduling tool costs you $20 a month, and a VA would take 2 hours to load it up for $60 a month, that’s $80. So … $250 vs. $80 …  the decision now seems like a no-brainer, right?

It’s hard to part with money, especially for something you could do yourself. But if you actually think through the time you spend vs. the low costs for automation tools, it quickly becomes clear these programs are worth their weight in gold.

Here are the 7 tools that I’m willing to hand over money for every month (that’s saying a lot because I love my money!).

Also, I’m totally transparent. There are affiliate links for each of these business tools. You’ll pay what you would anyway, but if you sign up using my link, I get a small reward (typically in the form of a free month or discount on my fees).

7 business tools worth every penny

 

The 7 Business Tools I Use & Recommend

1. Podia

launched my first course in 2017 and thought about bootstrapping it using YouTube and a password-protected page on my website, but then thought better of it after chatting with other more experienced course creators. I started on Thinkific, but in 2018 I upgraded to Podia. You can read here why I made the switch, but in short I’ve become a die-hard Podia fan. It allows me to host my courses, sell digital downloads, and manage my membership community. It does more than the competition and costs less. You can’t beat that.

Investment: $79/month

2. Honeybook

It took me years to finally admit I needed a customer resource management (CRM) tool. The truth is, though, I was so sick of manually sending my coaching clients applications, welcome emails, invoices, contracts, homework assignments, and more. Honeybook now automates all of it. I have a custom workflow that handles everything from the point of a client inquiry to their end-of-engagement survey. I can’t even tell you how much time this saves me each month, so it’s absolutely ridiculous that I waited so long to spend a measly $40 to do it (and it’s less if you pre-pay for the entire year. If you need a CRM, use my link to get 50% off for your first year. No more excuses!

Investment: $40/month (or just $20 with my promo code)

3. QuickBooks

I finally stopped my Excel spreadsheet madness this year and started using QuickBooks like a grown-up business owner. It integrates with my business bank account/debit card so I don’t have to remember to manually track expenditures anymore. I can categorize income/expenses and it adds repeat items automatically. I also use it for invoicing, which is leaps and bounds better than my old-school method of making them in Word and tracking them in Excel.

Investment: $10/month

4. Acuity Scheduling

I really resisted paying for a scheduling system. Why pay when I can just add events into my iCal? The truth is I have a ton of appointments—virtual coffee dates (integral to growing your network), interviews for my podcast and for the masterclasses for my membership community, and discovery calls for my coaching work. Managing all of that was cumbersome back when I had to go back and forth via email to nail down times with people. Now I can just send a link and they can book themselves into my calendar. The system sets different available times based on the type of appointment, and it integrates with my iCal and my Gmail, so I can easily block off time without having to go to the Acuity site.

Investment: $15/month

5. ConvertKit

When I started my email list in 2016, I used Mailchimp because it was free and easy. As my list grew, I wanted to do things like automatically send my opt-ins, create automated welcome and sales sequences, and segment my list based on purchases. That’s when I switched to ConvertKit. I paid someone about $200 to help me set everything up, but now it’s pretty straightforward to add new opt-ins and sequences, write regular newsletters, and manage my subscriber list. Also, paying for a list based on its size has made me more inclined to prune cold subscribers on a regular basis (something I never did before because I was so caught up on vanity metrics). Now my list is more engaged than ever, with an average open rate of 40%.

Investment: $49/month (I was paying $29/month, but recently moved up to the 1,000-3,000 subscriber plan)

6. Zoom

For the longest time, I used Skype (free) for video calls. The problem, though, was figuring out how to record those sessions if needed. Also, they didn’t allow for group calls. I like to provide recordings of my coaching sessions so my clients can review them as needed. Also, I host virtual co-working and masterminds for my membership community, so I need to be able to host dozens of people. Enter Zoom. This very cool, and super affordable, tool solves all my problems. I’m also using it to record my podcast interviews.

Investment: $14.99/month

7. SmarterQueue

I don’t know if I have the words to describe my love for SmarterQueue. I’ve been using Hootsuite for free for years, and I hated the idea of paying to schedule social media posts. I only switched to this program recently, and it’s already my favorite tool. It replaces everything I managed on Hootsuite (Facebook page, Twitter, and LinkedIn), plus can manage Instagram and Pinterest. What’s so great about it? You can create content categories—tips, blog posts, quotes, as examples—and fill them up with evergreen content. Then you can let those posts recycle as many times as you want. There’s also a cool drag-and-drop calendar where you can plot out which categories will be used at which times on which accounts. Like, seriously, this thing is so incredibly robust for the price. I can’t get over it.

Investment: $19.99/month

In all, I spend $227.98/month on tools for my business. At a billable rate of $100/hour, I’d have to handle all of those tasks in less than three hours a month to make it worth the DIY route. Impossible.

If you’re reading this thinking, “Oh boy, that sounds familiar. I am totally DIYing things I shouldn’t,” then take my advice and start investing in your business. It’s really true that you have to spend money to make money. Just be sure to spend it wisely!

Oh, and if you’re a paper planner kind of person like me, check out this list of my favorite planners.

Planners for 2019: 12 Must Haves

Planners for 2019: 12 Must Haves

This is third year in a row that I’ve run this list of the best planners made for creative women business owners by creative women business owners. These lists are—far and away—the most popular posts on my blog. If you’re finding me because of this post, I’m so happy you’re here!

I’m a coach for women business owners. When I start working with my clients, almost all of them feel overwhelmed and scattered. They have so many ideas, but lack a clear plan of attack. Sound familiar?

I love a pretty planner (I mean, I’m like a giddy school kid when I work on these best planner lists!), but it’s unlikely to help you much if you don’t first get clear about your goals. That’s why I highly recommend you sign up for my free Crush Your Goals course before you dive into your shiny new 2019 planner. It will help you get clear about what matters most, and finally develop a system for prioritizing your ideas.

Okay, now let’s get to it! I hope you have as much fun reading about these 2019 planners as I had pulling this list together. This year’s list includes some of my favorites from previous years, along with a few new ones.

Among these 12 planners, I’m hopeful you’ll find just the right one for your organizational and inspirational needs!

 

This is the comprehensive list of the 12 best planners made for women entrepreneurs by women business owners.

(This post contains affiliate links. If you purchase via a link here, I may receive a commission. The price is the same for you whether you use my link or buy directly from the vendor.)

 

The Day Designer Planner

Whitney EnglishWhitney English Day Designer faced an overflowing email inbox, a hand-scribbled to-do list, a pile of meeting notes, and felt overwhelmed and disorganized back in November 2011. She needed a solution—quickly. That’s when she came up with the Day Designer™. It was my first “real” (non-drugstore) planner, and I remain totally smitten with it.

The Day Designer PlannerThe Day Designer ($59) is the original daily planner. It’s a simple and easy system created to help women find balance and productivity. There are yearly and monthly glances, but this one is all about the daily pages. There is a focus on the top three things you need to do each day (my favorite part!). There’s also a ton of space for events, to-dos, notes, meal planning, gratitude, and more. I really love the inspirational quotes. If you’re a daily planner user, I doesn’t get better than this!

Learn more/order: DayDesigner.com


The Refresh Weekly Planner

Jenna Murillo Planner RoundupJenna Murillo has felt a sense of magic with paper since childhood. She’s energized by turning a blank canvas into something beautiful. That’s what led her to planner design. “Designing a product that’s a stunning and functional tool for others was always a dream,” she says. “In 2015, fueled by the encouragement of friends and family and a fire inside of me to create, I fulfilled that dream.”

Refresh PlannerThe Refresh Weekly Planner ($39.95) is back for 2019 slimmer than ever before, and featuring three cover design options (I don’t know how to choose among them!). The Refresh Planner includes an updated pocket design, goal-planning pages, monthly and weekly spreads, and a notes section. It’s all beautifully bound with hard covers in a new, lightweight design. Plan for progress and take some serious action on your goals with the 2019 Refresh Weekly Planner. This one always makes my list because it’s so pretty and practical!

Learn more/order: WorkSpacery.com


Inspired Year Planners

Kathy Pine Planner RoundupKathy Pine started her first company at age 25. After navigating the challenges of balancing entrepreneurship and early motherhood, Kathy realized she had a passion for helping women pursue their dreams and she began making inspirational and practical paper products. She created her first planner with a successful Kickstarter campaign in 2017. Now the Inspired Year planner is the flagship product of her One Love Paper Co.

Inspired Year PlannerThe 2019 Inspired Year Planner ($49) is the ultimate goal-setting calendar for busy creatives who are juggling it all. Its no-nonsense approach, functional design, and roomy pages provide everything you need to stay organized and inspired. It’s designed with goal-setting and work-life balance in mind. It’s uniquely suited to manage your busy days while making space for your dreams. My favorite part of this planner is all the incredibly helpful and inspiring annual, quarterly, and monthly goal-setting exercises. The “wheel” activity really opened my eyes!

Learn more/order: 1LovePaper.com


The Life Planner

Erin Condren Planner RoundupErin Condren left 12-hour days in the apparel industry to become a stay-at-home mom of two. She developed a case of cabin fever, and searched online for career opportunities she could do from home. She began making cards for friends, as birthday gifts, new baby announcements and hostess gifts. Her friend encouraged her to sell her designs at a “shopping party” at her home in June 2004. The rest is history.

The LifePlannerThe LifePlanner™ ($50+) is the ultimate planning system to get organized, achieve your goals, and preserve memories in one stylish space. This feature-packed planner boasts two-page spreads per month, three layouts (vertical, horizontal, or hourly), stylish design elements and inspirational quotes, coiled-in stickers, and a two-page goal setting spread. It’s ideal for anyone who loves scrapbooking or is otherwise artistic. There are so many accessories you can use to personalize your planner and make it a true reflection of you!

Learn more/order: ErinCondren.com


Perfect Project Planners (digital download)

Eve TokensEve Tokens Planner Roundup says she created a planner to keep her life on track. “I was using a bullet journal for managing my personal life, Trello for my online business, and my phone calendar to keep track of both and random other appointments,” she says. “It was too much, and I found I was getting less done than ever before.”

The Perfect Project PlannerThe Perfect Project Planner (£27 or $34.91) is designed for bloggers, small business owners, and entrepreneurs who need a planner that does all the things. Download and bind this planner and use it to track everything you need for your blog/business. Key features include a 2018 review, goal planning for 2019, important dates, book list, 2018 and 2018 Google Analytics overview, weekly stats tracking, quarterly financial goals, project idea areas, 90-day sprint planning, and more. I love this one for bloggers (or any business with a blog) and for anyone who hates lugging around a heavy planner.

Learn more/order: Gumroad download


The Bulletproof Business Planner

Yvonne “Yvi” HeimannYvonne Heimann Planner Roundup set out on a mission to integrate her work and life passions fully, simply, and in a way that would do what “planners” are actually meant to do—magnify our greatness! After years of trying to find the perfect planner, app, or productivity tool, Yvi decided to revolutionize the planner industry. The Bulletproof Business Planner (formerly known as ProtoPreneur Planner) empowers us to cultivate our life’s The Bulletproof Business Plannerpassions and bring our deepest desires to life.

The Bulletproof Business Planner ($59) empowers you to design (not just dream about) your destiny. It helps you become the most clear-minded, productive, motivated, inspired, and kick a$$ version of yourself. It’s like a best friend who remembers and reminds you of your most important projects and dreams, encourages you to track and be proud of your personal accomplishments, workouts, and everything in between. I love this one because it’s undated so you customize it to fit your schedule. Plus, the leather-look cover is GORGEOUS and durable. This is a beast of a planner!

Learn more/order: AskYvi.com


The Happiness Planner

Mo Seetubtim always dreamed of having an inspirational brand that people love. Her dream finally came true in March of 2015 with the launch of The Happiness Planner. It’s a beautiful journal designed to help people become happier and more fulfilled by embracing positive thinking, mindfulness, gratitude, and self-development.

Happiness PlannerThe Happiness Planner® ($46-$59) will help you not only manage your to-do list, but also live a truly happy and fulfilled life in alignment with your core values, personality traits, and strengths. There are four main elements: the Happiness Roadmap (become more self-aware and set fulfilling goals), the Planning Pages (stay focused and motivated on monthly goals), the Daily Pages (fill your days with inspiration), and the Reflection Pages (learn from the highs and lows of each week/month). As a mindset coach, I absolutely adore this comprehensive approach to a planner!

Learn more/order: TheHappinessPlanner.com


Have all the ideas, but not sure what to do or when?
Tired of spinning your wheels and wasting your time?
Sick of bouncing from one shiny object to the next?
Stop the confusion and find clarity!
It’s time to Crush Your Goals… (a free course)


The She Plans Planner

Ashley StaumAshley Staum Planner Roundup‘s dream started late one evening while in grad school. In order to avoid studying for a few hours, she decided to design her own planner to stay on top of everything on her plate. She fell in love with the process of designing that first planner, and continued to make her own planners each semester and later for co-workers. In early 2013, she began selling digital versions and now physical planners.

The She Plans PlannerThe She Plans Planner ($20-$46) had some big changes for 2019. There are now daily, weekly, and monthly versions so you can choose the one that fits the way you plan. There are full 7×9-inch sewn notebooks in monthly ($20), weekly/quarterly ($38), and daily/quarterly ($46) offering the size of a traditionally bound planner with the ease and simplicity of a sewn notebook. This year’s layouts include extras like a unique 4-page weekly spread in the weekly planner, and both week-at-a-glance and full Sat/Sun pages in the daily planner. New this year is a loose daily planner with tabs for those who love a binder system.

Learn more/order: ShePlans.com


Rule The World Planners

Ilana Griffo Planner RoundupIlana Griffo decided to make a planner when she couldn’t find one that fit her needs. “As a design student, I wanted a place I could doodle, take notes, and stay on track of my classwork,” she says. In the last five years, Griffo’s planner has evolved to reflect her creative journey and her customers’ needs. Rule the World Planner

The Rule The World Planner ($36) is full of goal-setting tools bound to help you crush your goals. From budget-planning worksheets to inspirational quotes, this planner is bound to make this year your best yet.

Learn more/order: IlanaGriffo.com


The Ashley Shelly Planner

Ashley ShellyAshley Shelly Planner Roundup started designing planners soon after creating The Budget Notebook, her first official product, because customers asked for it and she felt the time was right. “I’ve been a planner user for years, but I always wanted to improve on the designs I saw,” she says.

The Ashley Shelly PlannerThe Ashley Shelly Planner ($44.95) helps women create their best days by planning on paper. It features the perfect combination of organization and inspiration. This functional planner includes special features that guide you through organizing and staying inspired throughout the year. It includes a weekly layout with schedule and to-do list sections, and a spot for due today and dinner, equal space for all days of the week, and a hard, glossy cover (7.25×9.25 inches including binding).

Learn more/order: AshleyShelly.com


The Anchored Press Devotional Planner

Anchored Press is part of the comprehensive list of the 12 best planners made for women entrepreneurs by women business owners.Deana Uhrig created a planner to help women keep organized and help them find daily time with God. Her biggest prayer is that her planner keeps people focused on God as they plan their days.

The Anchored Press Devotional Planner ($49) is a Christian planner full of Bible verses and devotional content. Each weekday includes a devotion written by a different (godly, gifted, and inspiring) contributor that focuses on a specific theme. Following each, you’ll be guided through a full week of reflecting and growing in that area of your life. Also included are meal planning, goal setting, notes pages, prayer request pages, pockets, and other organizational tools.

Learn more/order: AnchoredPress.com


Fulfill Your Dreams Life Planners

Anung VillayAnung Villay Planner Roundup is the mastermind behind Courageous Creativity, a place for introverts and homebodies to go on with their life and live with some adventure.

The Fulfill Your Dreams PlannerThe Fulfill Your Dreams Planner ($9.99 – $14.99) will help you plan and prioritize your dreams. You get pages to mind map life goals. Each step is spelled out for you so you can take your time. There’s plenty of space to add new ideas (and even add you own little designs). Everything gets broken down from your big ideas, all the way down to what you need to do this week to get there.

Learn more/order: CourageousCreativity.co

This is the comprehensive list of the 12 best planners made for women entrepreneurs by women business owners.
This is the comprehensive list of the 12 best planners made for women entrepreneurs by women business owners.

 

There you have it! My list of the best planners for creatives and entrepreneurs. I hope you loved this list of planners for 2019, but if you know of one that you think should be included, just let me know in the comments below. I love finding new planners to include in the future. Also, if you found this post useful, please share it with your friends and on social media. Help me spread the love for these amazing women creatives who are making beautiful tools for us all!

Mastermind Retreats

Mastermind Retreats

Do you spend most of your time working in your business and not on it? Can you even remember the last time you took a few hours (let alone a whole weekend) to really focus on the big picture? Are you constantly wondering if you are doing the right things, but don’t really know who to ask?

You’re not alone. So many solopreneurs and small business owners feel busy, overwhelmed, alone, and confused.

That’s why I love business mastermind retreats.

Mastermind retreats for entrepreneurs are small events with a focus on improving your business. Here are 5 reasons you should attend one.

What are mastermind retreats?

Here’s my take: A business retreat is an intimate event with only a few attendees. Very often, there’s a focus on relaxation, deep thinking, and connection.

(This is unlike a traditional business conference, which is a large event with keynote and breakout speakers, panel discussions, vendors, and more—usually for hundreds or tens of thousands of attendees.)

Mastermind retreats are even better, I think, because they take the best parts of a typical business retreat and add in all the great things about mastermind groups.

5 benefits of mastermind retreats

1. They are small, allowing for a personalized experience (unlike a large conference where speakers must offer up generic business advice for a roomful of people). You get to dive into your business and your challenges and get advice specific to your needs

2. Again because they are small, retreats allow for deep connection and community. Spending days together with a group of other business owners means you really get to know (and love) each other. You’ll create relationships that last long after the event ends.

3. Thanks to the custom nature of retreats, you have the rare opportunity to get actionable and specific advice from other smart business owners. It’s easy to get caught up in your own head as a solopreneur, so these outside perspectives are incredibly valuable.

4. Most of us never (or very rarely) find quiet time for big-picture thinking, but being strategic (vs. reactionary) is what sets the highest-achieving CEOs apart. It’s not a luxury, it’s a necessity to running a successful, sustainable business.

5. Burning the candle at both ends (like so many of us business owners tend to do) is a surefire way to burnout. Retreats force you to take time away, have some fun, do some deep breathing, and recharge your batteries.

All of these benefits come at a cost, of course. Retreats can be many thousand dollars. But it’s an investment in your business and in yourself—one that most of us don’t make nearly often enough.

Own it, Crush it Mastermind Retreats happen twice a year. These long weekends include 1-hr deep dives into each attendee’s business, professional head shots, and plenty of quiet time for co-working and/or introspection. They are limited to 9 attendees. Click here to learn more or sign up for the next event, Oct. 12-15th in St. Louis, Mo.

Note: If you’re already in a mastermind or consider joining an existing one, read about the 5 signs of a bad mastermind to make sure it’s a great fit. And if you’re wanting to start your own peer-led mastermind, here are my best tips.

Mastermind retreats for entrepreneurs are small events with a focus on improving your business. Here are 5 reasons you should attend one.
The Secret to Success

The Secret to Success

Ever attend a webinar that made you wait until the very end to learn whatever it was they promised to teach you? I won’t do that.

Without further ado, here’s the secret to success as a business owner: There is no secret.

I probably sound like a Debbie Downer, but nonetheless I feel compelled to shout it from the rooftops. Why? I’ve noticed a scary trend of business gurus making big promises about their “foolproof methods” and “simple 3-step programs” for guaranteed success.

Learn THE secret to success as a business owner (hint: it's not what you think), from Becky Mollenkamp, business coach for women entrepreneurs

As an example, I just saw a sponsored post in my Facebook feed from a productivity coach. It was about how implementing her perfect morning routine was the key to succeeding in business and in life. A bit down in the scroll was a post from a coach who prescribed 5 steps for making 6 figures. That was followed by a Pinterest pro promising 3 tactics to go from 0 to 100k page views in a month.

I’m sick of these pie-in-the-sky promises. While these folks likely share some good information, the way they package it is obnoxious. Selling generic, one-size-fits-all advice as if it’s the only or best way of doing something, or as if it can deliver guaranteed results for everyone? That’s dangerous.

The problem is they’re preying on a pretty vulnerable group. New or struggling entrepreneurs want to believe those promises. They need to believe them.

Starting and running a business is hard. It’s easy to get overwhelmed and frustrated by all the things required of a solopreneur—marketing, sales, networking, accounts payable and receivable, taxes, customer relations, etc. That’s a lot for most entrepreneurs, who often started their businesses to pursue a single passion.

Most business owners aren’t MBAs; they haven’t received formal training on the myriad elements of running a business. They turn to books, podcasts, social media, and the like for help. And by the time they take this step, they may already feel close to giving up. They’re looking for something, anything to save them from throwing in the towel.

They know about 20% of small businesses fail in their first year—50% by their fifth year—and they’re desperate not to become a statistic.

When someone promises sure-fire success, of course they bite. They buy into it (even if their gut tells them it’s too good to be true) because the truth that there is no secret formula is too hard to bear.

You can’t do 3 prescribed things, follow 5 universal steps, or copy/paste someone else’s road map and—poof!—suddenly turn your business into a well-oiled, money-making machine. That’s not how business works, and anyone who says otherwise is simply trying to get your money.

This is not to say you can’t learn from these gurus and their amazing programs. Of course you can. You can learn best practices and things that worked for them. The key is understanding they won’t necessarily work the same way for you.

That perfect morning routine of meditation, yoga, journaling, and a healthy breakfast may have worked miracles for the 24-year-old woman touting it. But if you have 2 young children to get off to school, it may not quite work the same way for you.

Or, the strategist sharing Pinterest tactics that took her from 0 to 100k page views may fail to mention she did them in 2012. They worked when the site was new and uncrowded, but that doesn’t mean they’ll help you find traction in today’s saturated space.

Here’s the truth. Every business and every business owner is unique. Your challenges are different from everyone else’s and they require custom solutions. Forget a copy-paste roadmap. You need your roadmap.

Stop throwing money at plug-and-play solutions. Instead, trust your gut more and do what feels right for you. Learn from others, but always through the lens of it does and doesn’t apply to your particular situation. Take what you learn and create a custom solution (or hire a business coach to help you do it).

The secret to success? Stop believing there is a secret. 

Learn THE secret to success as a business owner (hint: it's not what you think), from Becky Mollenkamp, business coach for women entrepreneurs
Learn THE secret to success as a business owner (hint: it's not what you think), from Becky Mollenkamp, business coach for women entrepreneurs
Why Your Website Is Not Converting

Why Your Website Is Not Converting

GUEST POST from Jock Purtle

Lots of traffic but few sales? Consider these reasons why you might not be converting as many of your website’s visitors into customers as you may like.

The Internet has business owners chomping at the bit over how it can help them grow. This is good. You should be excited. But for those who think the value of the Internet is in generating shares, likes, and links—you’re missing the point.

This stuff is important, sure, but the real purpose of all this, as with nearly every activity your business does, is to generate sales. In other words, to make money.

Getting people to engage with your content, visit your site, or read your blog is fantastic, but unless you can convert people into customers, much of this effort will be for naught. Yet this is much easier said than done, as you may well know. The average landing page conversion rate is around 3 percent, with the top 25 percent converting at a rate of 5 percent and the top 10 percent convert at a rate of around more than 11 percent. Of course, these numbers vary by industry, but this is the general trend.

Imagine you’re currently converting at 4 percent. Now imagine what your business would look like if you were converting at 9 percent. That’s more than a 200 percent increase in customers, and depending on what you’re selling, this could mean massive increases in revenue, and subsequently, a massive increase in the value of your business.

If you’re having trouble reaching these conversion numbers, don’t worry. You’re not alone. Many people struggle with this, yet it’s possible to do better. Consider these reasons why you might not be converting as many of your website’s visitors into customers as you may like.

 

1. You’re At the Wrong Part of the Sales Funnel

This is marketing and sales 101. For those who don’t know, the sales funnel is the process a person goes through as they make the decision to buy something (or not). There are many different variations of the sales funnel, but they’re all similar in principle to this: Awareness / Interest / Decision / Action.

So how does this relate to conversion? Simple. If people are arriving to your site when they’re in the Action stage, and the content you are presenting them is geared towards the Interest stage, you’re creating a dissonance between you and the person visiting your site that will result in them turning away and searching elsewhere.

To give an example, if you’re driving people to your site based on their search for “the best shampoo for hair loss,” you need to understand this person has already decided they’re going to buy a hair-loss shampoo. What they’re looking for is the best one. You don’t need to spend time convincing them why they need the product or explaining how it works. They already know this and are now looking for the best deal on the market. They’re in the Action stage.

If they’re searching for “shampoos that prevent hair loss,” however, there’s a good chance they’re in the Interest or Awareness stage. This doesn’t mean you can’t convert them. It just means your content needs to match this motivation. This is where you would want to inform people about how the product works, what are some common pitfalls, why they might need it, etc. The recommendations you make after giving this information are your conversion strategy.

 

2. You’re Not Empathizing Enough

I’m sure in your day-to-day life you’re plenty empathetic, but if you’re struggling to convert visitors into customers, there’s a chance you aren’t being sensitive enough to your readers’ needs.

Understand that people are coming to your site because they have some sort of problem, and they’re looking for you to fix it. You want to do your best to get into their shoes and to empathize with their pain. This way when you offer a solution, they’ll see you understand what they’re looking for and are offering something that will satisfy them.

You don’t want to overdo this stuff, but this is where anecdotes and personal experiences come into play. It’s also where having a great content writer becomes critical. You want to be empathetic and understanding without sounding patronizing. If you can do this, you can expect conversion rates to improve.

 

3. Your Content Isn’t Engaging Enough

Most people read a blog post for less than 15 seconds. That’s right—15 seconds. What does that mean? You have very little time, probably only about three or four sentences, to hook your reader and get them to engage with your content.

This is where the previous two points become so important. If you can understand someone’s motivation and identify with their need, the next step is to convey this to them as quickly and as concisely as possible. This way they know right away they’ve come to the right place for the information they seek, and they’ll be more likely to stick around and arrive at your calls to action, which is how you will eventually convert them into customers.

 

4. You’re Not Authoritative Enough

To convince someone to buy something from you, they need to believe you know what you’re talking about. Support any claims you’re making with evidence, and spend some time building up your credibility. If you’ve been featured in some well-known publications or have some qualification to verify your expertise, share this with people. It’s not bragging; it’s just evidence.

This part is hard to fake, and people can usually tell when you’re doing so. Get someone you know that isn’t connected to the business to read your content and tell you where you’re stretching it a bit. Eliminating the parts where people scrunch their eyebrows and say, “Really?! I don’t believe that” is critical to a good conversion strategy. You want to be personable and relatable, but you also want people to think they’re getting information from someone who knows more than their friend Joe or Sally from work.

 

5. You’ve Misplaced Your Calls to Action

Again, the better you do at understanding your audience, the better your conversion rates. Your calls to action (CTA) are critical to online sales. They’re when you literally direct someone to spend their money. Of course, people act on their own accord, but if you do this wrong, your conversion rates will suffer.

Oftentimes, less is more when it comes to CTAs. Site owners have the tendency to include many of them, thinking that people will be more likely to click if they have more opportunities to do so. This isn’t true. It’ll often feel spammy and will turn people away.

Limit CTAs to moments when you’ve really addressed the reason the person came to your site. When you give a detailed review and when you’ve compared two products are both good times for a CTA, but they are also effective in the beginning and at the end, especially for motivated buyers who are just looking to get some info about a product they are already planning to buy.

 

Wrapping Up

If I could conclude with one piece of advice that ties in all I’ve shared here, it would be this: Know your audience. This is the most important thing for any sales and marketing strategy.

As you can see, there are lots of different things you need to learn about your audience, but if you’re struggling with conversion, there’s a good chance you’re misunderstanding something about why your customer is at your site and what they are expecting from you. Solve these problems, adjust your content and watch your conversion rates soar.


About the author: Jock is the founder of Digital Exits, an online brokerage service specializing in the buying/selling and appraisal of online businesses. He has started and sold several internet companies in his lifetime and is a big believer in the “content is king” mantra. Most of his work nowadays is helping others maximize the profitability and value of their online ventures.