Welcome to Empire Building, a Modern Approach to Building a Successful Online Business, created by me, Alexis Giostra. Empire Building is a self-paced online business course that teaches my 5 Pillar Method for Building a Business Online using tried and true methods and principles that I have learned as I have built my own media business over the past 8 years. Whether you are looking to start a Blog or YouTube channel to earn an extra income, or want to start your own Online Shop that gives you the flexibility of working from home, Empire Building is your guide to setting up and maintaining a successful business online!
At the Core of Empire Building is a lesson plan of 6 Video Lecture Modules that include guided workbooks with numerous activities and worksheets to help you apply the lessons of the course to your business. The first five modules of the program cover each of the 5 Key Pillars to Online Business Success, and the sixth module, Business Administration, will cover key topics aspiring business owners and entrepreneurs should know in order to manage their business successfully.
The 5 Pillars of Empire Building
The Empire Building Model is a structured blueprint for building and marketing your online business from the ground up. The model begins with Branding, the foundation of a good business and is crowned with Income, diversifying monetization so you can earn more while working less.
Within each module is a wealth of information, tips, tricks and a series of worksheets designed to help you make the most of the content while creating the foundation of your own business. These worksheets aren’t just learning activities, but powerful tools that will help you build your business as you work through them.
Empire Building now includes 4 NEW Upgrade Blueprints to cover some specific topics in depth outside of the individual Blueprints, as well as a few Video Master Classes on dedicated topics.
The 4 Upgrade Blueprints Include:
Writing Your Business Plan
Creating Click-Worthy Headlines & Content
Email List Building
Bonus Master Classes:
Blogging Master Class
New Year Business Planning Session
Planning for a Successful Holiday Promotion
New Content & Updates
Because the climate for online business and digital marketing is always changing, as a member of Empire Building you will automatically receive all future content and updates to the program. Although I have some amazing bonus content already created, I am always planning more and new content and resources are added to the course multiple times a year!
Mentorship & Business Consulting
But great content, bonus’ and continuous updates are just the beginning! Empire Building is also meant as a mentorship opportunity where you can get my help and advice while you are creating your own business, piece by piece!
Private Facebook Group
As a member of Empire Building you will be given access to a dedicated member’s only Facebook community where you can interact and network with the other students within the course. Empire Building boasts a roster of many excellent online business owners and entrepreneurs with a variety of business’ and experience. Here is a sampling of the types of business you can network with inside the Facebook group:
BUSINESS SERVICES: Business Coaches, VA’s, Editors
HEALTH & WELLNESS: Wellness Coaches, Nutritionists, Trainers, NPO, Women’s Wellness
ARTS/CRAFTS: Writers, Novelists, Hand Crafters, Musicians, Actors, Fine Artists, Makeup Artists, Photographers
Mentorship with Alexis
An additional bonus of Empire Building is that you have access to Alexis as your personal business mentor. This means that any questions or concerns you have about your situation can be brought directly to her and she will work with you to ensure you are getting the answers, support and resources you need. Empire Building is truly a unique program, because as a member you are given direct one-on-one access to the creator and Alexis will give you her best advice to help you advance in your situation!
Optional Consulting Path
Empire Building also includes an optional consulting path where you can upgrade to receive one-on-one calls with Alexis to help you apply the lessons in the course to your business and get you moving forward with a personalized plan for your year. You can choose to purchase this path of the program outright OR you can start with the basic Blueprint Path that gives you access to everything mentioned previously, and then upgrade to consulting by simply paying the difference between your initial investment in the program and the current price of the consulting option.
The consulting option is called Architect Path and it includes:
EVERYTHING ALREADY OUTLINED ABOVE
ONE (1) 60-MINUTE QUICKSTART CALL OR SKYPE SESSION WITH ALEXIS TO HELP YOU IDENTIFY THE IMMEDIATE STEPS TO TAKE TO BUILD YOUR BUSINESS AND BRAND
ONE (1) 90-MINUTE BUSINESS PLANNING SESSION WHERE ALEXIS WILL HELP YOU MAP OUT PLANS FOR PLATFORM DEVELOPMENT, CONTENT AND BUSINESS PROJECTS FOR THE NEXT YEAR
Deciding Your Path
To recap, let’s cover the options you have to join Empire Building and work with Alexis to build your online brand and business moving forward!
Blueprint Path is a full membership level of Empire Building that includes the following:
Full Membership into the Empire Building Course Website
6 Video Modules and coordinating Blueprint Workbooks and additional resources
4 Bonus Upgrade Blueprints & 3 Bonus Video Master Classes
Access to the Private Facebook Community
Unlimited Q&A Mentorship with Alexis
All future updates and upgrades to the program
Architect Path is a full membership level of Empire Building that includes the following:
EVERYTHING listed above in Blueprint Path
One (1) 60-Minute Quickstart Consulting Call with Alexis
One (1) 90-Minute Business Planning Call with Alexis
So, are you ready to get started building your own online business with me? Great! I’m so excited for the chance to work with you, but you will need to act fast to secure your spot in my consulting path. I only open limited for the Architect Level Path at a time, so if you want in on serious one-to-one consulting with me, you need to act fast!
Tonight at midnight eastern, my sale on the new and improved Empire Building eCourse comes to a close. So, I thought it might be helpful for any of you still on the fence about joining the program, if I did a little Q&A covering some of the most frequently asked questions I receive about the program.
Q: How long do I have access to EMPIRE BUILDING?
A: You have lifetime access to the program. This means that for as long as the course is available you can access it and you will get course updates, like the major upgrade I just completed, as well as the forthcoming additional master classes and educational webinars I have planned for 2017 and beyond!
Q: Can I buy now and get in on the sale price but then start when I’m ready?
A: Yes! Empire Building is intended to be completed at your own pace. You get all the information and materials upfront and can follow along with the courses as structured or you can jump around to the workbooks and modules that you need the most.
Q: If I have a question about the course materials or applying different aspects of it to my business, who do I go to for support?
A: Me, of course! As a member of Empire Building you get direct support from me via email and inside the community on Facebook. Remember, part of Empire Building is that I am your personal mentor here to guide you, answer your questions and provide additional resources as needed- so you aren’t alone on this journey.
Q: What types of businesses are already inside the program?
A: I am very pleased and honored to work with a variety of different businesses within my program and have students from a variety of online business fields and backgrounds. Students and businesses inside the online community include:
Business Services (Coaches, VA’s, Editors); Health & Wellness (Health Coaches, Nutritionists, Trainers, NPO, Women’s Wellness);
Finance (Accounting, Investment, Bookkeeping); IT/Web (Designers, Bloggers, YouTubers, Social Media Pros); Spiritual (Reiki, Tarot, Astrology, Ministry); Arts/Crafts (Writers/Novelists, Hand Crafters, Musicians, Actors, Fine Artists, Makeup Artists, Photographers)
Q: Do I need an existing business or idea to get started?
A: You don’t need an existing business BUT, I do think you’d get more out of the program if you have an idea of what you’d like to do getting started. Going through the program will certainly present you with different business opportunities online and different ways to make money. I do encourage you to consider different options to add to an existing business or idea in order to maximize your revenue online but I always think having your own idea first is best. I’ve had many students join Empire Building with an initial idea and then working through the course they figured out what they really wanted to do and were able to become successful at it in a short period of time. I’ve also had students come in with a general idea of want to start a blog or youtube channel and then come up with a complete business plan to execute with multiple streams of income. It’s all up to you and how diligently you work to apply the lessons of the program to your situation.
Q: Will this course teach me how to set up my website and/or online shop?
A: Yes, within the course I provide resources including step by step video tutorials for how to set up your website, blog or online shop.
Q: I need a community where I can get feedback, is that available?
A: Yes! That is included in Empire Building. You will get access to the private Facebook community for Empire Building where you can connect with my other students as well as me for additional support and feedback. But, the community is not available separately.
Q: My business (or idea) includes lots of different income sources and elements, will I have to streamline down or apply your program to each of those individual elements?
A: No, you do not have to cut out elements of your business unless you choose to do that on your own, but you may find that you’d like to apply the program to certain elements separately. I am a firm believer that a multifaceted business is the best type of online business because you are maximizing revenue with different streams of income, and within my program I teach that as long as the different streams fall under the same overall brand, there is no need to treat them like separate entities. However, sometimes the streams do fall under distinct brands and it’s best to keep them separate so they are more effective. If you have questions, this is definitely something I can help you address.
Q: Do I have to sell my own products or services to make money online with your program?
A: Nope! I’m going to teach you how you can make money without having to start a product line or building services. I know it sounds a little too good to be true but it’s not!
Q: Does the program apply if I’m planing to create a YouTube channel to make money?
A: Yes! It applies to starting a YouTube channel to earn money, a blog, or any social media platform really!
Q: Do you offer a payment plan?
A: Yes! I Do! However, it is ONLY available during this sale period, so click here to access the first installment of the 3 Payment Plan before the offer expires at midnight tonight! Payment plan is 3 payments of $100, each paid once per month over a 3 month period and your content is dripped to you within the course website.
Q: What is your refund policy?
A: Due to the digital nature of my programs and course materials, I do not offer refunds. So, it’s important to read through my program descriptions and ask me any questions you have before you purchase. I am committed to ensuring complete satisfaction from my students and if you do experience any unforeseen issues with the program, let me know immediately and I will address it with you quickly and find a solution we are both happy with!
I hope this Q&A has been helpful to you if you are still on the fence about joining Empire Building! Remember, the sale ends tonight at midnight eastern, so let me know if you have questions- you can email me here!
If you recall from reading last month’s installment of my entrepreneurial series, you know that I got something of a slow start to the year. Thankfully, however, February was a much more productive month for me in many ways. I would say possibly transformative, but it’s honestly too soon to say. What I can say for sure, however, is that I spent much of February laying a solid foundation for the future of my life and business. I was recently talking to a member of my community about Empire Building and entrepreneurship and how I really believe that what makes an entrepreneur successful is their devotion to the idea that they need to live their life in a particular way so their routines and days set them up for success. In many ways, I feel like I took a step up on my execution of this idea and it certainly had positive affects on my success this month. So let’s get into what I did this month to make it all happen.
What I Didn’t Do
1. Overwork: Perhaps it was a left over from January, but I made sure I didn’t overwork myself this month. Did I get everything done? Of course! But I didn’t push myself to work just for works sake, and I made a lot of time for myself, rest and self care.
2. Switch my focus between multiple priorities: I had a pretty single focus this month, which was the upgrade launch of Empire Building. Nearly everything I worked on in February was related to the launch or supported it. I really liked this approach because I feel like everything I did was moving that project forward and I was able to dive deeper into the topics of my launch because I had spent so much time thinking about it and working on it without switching to a different priority or focus.
3. Pressure myself to execute new habits: I know building my magnificent seven habits was a goal for myself this year, but I didn’t worry about those too much this month. Some items, like self care, where done daily, but others like journaling were pushed to the side. I’m okay with this because I know that had I forced myself to check a box
What I Did do
1. Hosted a webinar: It’s been a few months since my last webinar and I have to admit, I was a little nervous about how it would all turn out. Luckily, everything ran smoothly the day of the event and because I was keeping a single focus on the launch this month, I was able to spend a good amount of time creating key marketing materials around the replay!
2. Launched an upgrade: Like I already mentioned, my Empire Building Upgrade Launch was my primary focus this month. This was the biggest upgrade to Empire Building so far and transformed the program from a workbook based course to a video module based course. With the addition of a new 6th module on Business Administration, I know Empire Building is now an even stronger and info packed program!
3. Talked one to one with my community and customers: Again, having that single focus this month gave me a lot of time to get creative with marketing and promotion. One of the things I was happy I had a chance to do this month was actually schedule some one-on-one chats with potential Empire Building students in order to help them decide if the program was right for them. It’s very important to me that I get the right people into the course
What I Learned
1. Single focus is a magical state: Because I was able to keep a single focus on an important project this month, I was really able to find success with my new launch and lay the ground work for long term business success through different marketing collateral and assets I built up. Purposely making sure you have less items or priorities on your plate so you can spend dedicated time on a key priority really makes a difference in quality of output!
2. To keep it simple: In order to ensure I had the time to dedicate to my single priority this month, I also made sure to keep everything else about my life and days as simple as possible. I meal planned all month, making bulk meals for lunch and dinner to make sure I had my food situation in order, and I kept my other obligations to a minimum.
3. A well laid plan is the key to success: As much as I am all about planning as a time management and success tool, I often get into ruts or states of mind where I don’t believe the plan will work. It’s like, because I can’t see the outcome, I begin to fear failure. This happened to me once again this month with the launch of my upgrade. I began to worry that things weren’t going to work out, but instead of panicking and changing the plan mid-stream, I told myself that I had to stick it out and if I failed, I failed and it would be a lesson. Of course, I was proven wrong in the end. The plan did pan out, and by sticking to it, even in those tough moments, I was able to ensure I stayed on the path I had so intentionally laid out before my journey began.
Again, I hope you have found this post insightful and if anything in particular stood out to you, feel free to tell me about it in the comments. I’d so love to know how your month has progressed, so feel free to share some details as well!
If you haven’t heard the excellent news yet, EMPIRE BUILDING HAS REOPENED and I’m currently welcoming new students to the program as we speak! This year is a major year for Empire Building, because I spent the last few months completely upgrading the program from a workbook based course, to a video module course. Yes, that means it is even easier for you to enjoy every bit of information contained in Empire Building and get yourself up and running with your online brand or business even quicker. But the new format is not all that’s new with the program this year, I’ve also built out a dedicated membership site for the program so finally everything for the course in terms of materials and bonus content is under one virtual roof! My favorite part of the upgrade, however, is the completely NEW Business Administration Module I’ve added to the program! Yes, you read that right, Business Administration! This means my best tips for helping you with your business planning, systems and finances. This module is information I have never shared before that gives you insight into how I plan and execute for my business goals and bring multiple projects and products to fruition each year for additional income and growth! Of course, Empire Building is loaded with extra workbooks, dedicated single topic master classes and of course our awesome Facebook community where you can chat and network with other like-minded online business owners in the process of building their empires as well. So, are you ready to get started building your Empire with Empire Building? I’ll leave that to you to decide!
How to determine if you are ready to BUILD YOUR EMPIRE:
This questionnaire is designed to help identify whether or not Empire Building is right for your business. Check off each statement that applies to you. If you check off all statements, the Online Business Bundle is a fit for you and your business!
I am interested in generating income via online platforms (check if any apply).
I want to start a product or service based business that sells or promotes online.
I have an existing business that operates off-line but I would like to use the internet and social media to promote or sell via online platforms.
I have or would like to start a blog and earn income from it.
I have or would like to start a YouTube channel and earn income from it.
I would like to become a social media influencer on ________________ and earn income from it.
I would like to add new online income streams to my existing business.
I am interested in creating and selling physical OR digital products.
I have or would like to start a non-profit organization that promotes online.
I have the temperament for an online business program (check if all apply).
I have a Do It Yourself spirit (I’m willing to do things myself to save money).
I am not looking for an easy button solution (I know this doesn’t exist).
I am open to business advice, and am willing to try new strategies and ideas.
I am willing to accept constructive critical feedback from others.
I have realistic expectations for my business growth/revenue (check if all apply).
I do not expect to be an overnight success.
I prefer steady growth through consistent effort as opposed to using questionable marketing ploys to gain a temporary advantage.
I understand that the actions I take (or fail to take) directly impact my success.
I know not every strategy will work, but I am willing to test different ones to find what works for me.
I believe that I will get as much as I am willing to take from any program or course.
I plan to use the information I learn for my own personal business (check if all apply).
I am not creating a product or service, digital or otherwise, that competes with the Online Business Bundle or either of the programs contained within.
I plan to use the information and resources shared within the bundle programs for my own personal businesses now and in the future and will only share them with mutual business partners on a need-to-know basis.
I will not knowingly or willingly distribute the copyrighted information or resources shared within the bundle programs.
It’s no secret, we all LOVE free stuff! Especially if that free stuff is information in the form of a free webinar filled with information on helping us build a better business! I join my fair share of business webinars, they are one of my favorite ways to consume information online, and of course, I host quite a few myself as well, like my new webinar ENTREPRENEURSHIP IS THE NEW BLACK that opens today! So, with hundreds of hours of webinars under my belt over the past several years, I thought I would share my best tips with you for how to make the most of a webinar. After all, a free webinar isn’t like a free t-shirt or pen, it doesn’t have an intrinsic use and it does take us a dedicated period of time to absorb the lessons and information. So it’s up to us to make sure we are paying attention to the content, applying the information to our own situation and acting on what we learn.
Here are my BEST tips for making the most of a FREE Business Webinar:
• Show up LIVE: When I sign up for a webinar, I always put the date and time into my planner. I know most, if not all webinars provide a replay for at least a limited time, but for one reason or another I rarely watch the replay. I always get the most out of a webinar when I have time blocked off to watch it and show up live to make the most of the experience like I’m taking a live class.
• Remove distractions: As much as we have been mislead to believe we can multi-task, the truth is that humans cannot do to things at once successfully. So, I make sure that I remove distractions when I am actively trying to learn via a webinar. I’ll mute my phone, turn off notifications on my computer and put away other work. If I’m at home, I make myself comfortable at my desk, and if I’m out of the house for some reason, I wear headphones to keep myself immersed in the experience. I find that if I get distracted during a webinar, I end up loosing my place and don’t end up learning as much as I’d like, or worse, end up having to watch the replay just to catch the bits I missed and that ends up wasting a lot of time. It’s easier to just watch a webinar once and pay attention to learn what I need to know!
• Take notes: Most webinar hosts provide a download or worksheet to help you follow along with their information, but I think there is no substitute for taking your own notes as well. Note taking will not only give you information to refer back to, but taking notes also helps you to retain information better. Again, I don’t want to waste my time rewatching a webinar I’ve already blocked out time for, so I always take notes to make sure I am capturing all the key information I need.
• Watch actively: Along with taking notes, I also make sure I am watching actively. That means I am thinking about the ideas and information presented in real time. Although a webinar is a virtual experience, I approach the situation like I am watching a speaking live in front of me, sitting up straight, pen in hand, and fully emerged in the content.
• Keep track of ideas and inspiration: It’s not just notes on the content that I will track as I’m watching a webinar, but more importantly, the inspiration and ideas that emerge from the new information I am receiving. When watching a webinar, it’s not uncommon for me to think of great ideas that apply to my business or to learn specific steps I need to take moving forward. All off this is crucial information for how I can apply what I’m learning to my business immediately!
• Put actions on your to-do list: Once the webinar has ended, I review my notes and make sure to put any specific actions onto my to-do list or on a project plan. I want to make sure those activities actually get done and that I act on those great ideas that came from the content I learned in the webinar!
I hope you found these tips helpful to you for the next time you find yourself signing up for a free webinar! If you haven’t already, make sure to sign yourself up for ENTREPRENEURSHIP IS THE NEW BLACK, my new FREE business webinar that opens today. You can consider it practice for this post and pick up some excellent tips and strategies to use for your own brand or business online. Win-win situation if I say so myself!
How I Made $1,000 from 1 Instagram Photo and the Strategies You can use to Repeat My Success
I get asked all the time, “Alexis, is it possible to make money from Instagram?” The answer is YES! Today I want to share with you a few strategies for how to monetize your Instagram account and tell you about a strategy that I use to regularly earn hundreds of dollars for each promotional image I place. Now, before I begin, I do want to be clear, that these strategies are not about earning hard money from each and every photo you post on Instagram, in fact, these strategies rely on the fact that you will be posting more than just promotional images onto your Instagram feed in order to build your following. These strategies are also not a one and done deal, meaning they are most effective when you execute them regularly as part of a defined marketing plan for your Instagram account. As always with me and my strategies, it’s about finding a strategy that works for your brand and business and then consistently executing it and growing your results over time. Let’s get started!
First things first, growing your following!
Before I talk about the strategies for earning income from Instagram, we need to talk about the fact that you first need to have a following on Instagram for any of these to work. How big the following needs to be honestly depends on your brand and the market you are selling to, but I do believe that even a small following of 300, as long as it contains a few dozen active followers, will yield results. Obviously, the more followers you have, the more income you can earn! In the meantime, just understand that more followers usually mean more sales (usually because you can’t try to sell something that doesn’t relate to your audience and expect sales) so your personal results will vary, but I have used one of these strategies in particular to earn over $1,000 in 24 hours! Yes, it happens people. It’s not a daily occurrence but when you start integrating these strategies consistently, it is possible to have days where you make big bucks from one single image!
Strategy #1: Affiliate Links & Income
The first strategy for earning an income from your Instagram account is to feature affiliate products and use affiliate links to help people purchase items in your image. If you aren’t familiar with the term affiliate, what this means is that you are promoting the products or services of others and earning a commission from your referral. There are many affiliate programs you can join to help promote the products of other businesses, and the way you use this strategy is to take a nice styled photo of the product in question and then share a link to where people can purchase it in the description. To help with this, I tend to create short links via bit.ly which makes it easier to direct people to the product. Take a look at the image and description for Strategy #1 and see how I have used this strategy in the past!
Strategy #2: Sponsored Posts
The second strategy for earning an income from your Instagram account is to make sponsored posts, which means that a company or business is paying you to share an image of their product in your Instagram feed. More and more this has become a common practice, however, this route does tend to have two drawbacks. First is that when you get paid to sponsor an IG post, usually the amount isn’t a large sum of money. Maybe $20-$100, so you would have to find numerous sponsors or alternate income streams for your IG account in order to make serious money from this strategy. Second, finding sponsors for Instagram is very much dependent on you having a large following in the thousands at the very least. So you do need to have a larger following for this strategy to apply to you, but I have seen some instances of smaller businesses working with niche IG accounts. For me personally, I haven’t engaged in sponsored Instagram posts for a long time, because since starting my own business, I don’t need to get sponsors elsewhere, but check out the image and description for Strategy #2 for an example of how I have executed a sponsored Instagram post in the past.
Strategy #3: (THIS IS THE BIG ONE!) Product Promotion
The third and final strategy for earning an income from your Instagram account is to promote your own products or services via your account! This is the strategy that I have used time and time again to earn hundreds of dollars per post. In this strategy all you need to do is share nice styled photographs of your products and, ideally, run some sort of short term sale or promotion to encourage people to purchase your product as soon as possible! That’s it! I know that sounds pretty simple, and it’s because it is. The hard part is growing your following to the level where you can share one picture and a sale here and there and it yields you incredible results. So, let’s go ahead and take a look at the example for this strategy, that $1,000 photo and description I used to get quick sales in one single day!
Now that you know the strategies for earning income from Instagram, go forth and execute! Of course, I have one more little tip, or resource really that I’d highly recommend you check out if you are serious about growing an income on Instagram. My new FREE Webinar ENTREPRENEURSHIP IS THE NEW BLACK is coming soon and it is filled with key information and strategies you will NEED to build a cohesive online business strategy around instagram! Sign up TODAY for this FREE offer and you’ll be well on your way to Instagram success!
This article was originally posted on StrangeCharmed.com on February 8th 2016 and is being reposted for the new members of my community who may have missed it!
5 Stress Free Steps to Grow Your Instagram Following!
As you may already know, the other week I hit 20k followers on Instagram, which I was super thrilled about! My growth on Instagram has been a great testament to the fact that you don’t have to do a lot of work or feel overwhelmed hustling to grow your following. Once you find your niche, you can easily integrate slow, steady, sustainable growth for your account, even if you are like me and only want to post about one picture a day. You don’t need to overdo it on Instagram to make an impact, and your Instagram growth definitely shouldn’t be a source of stress for you and your brand. These 5 simple steps will help get you started!
Step 1: Choose the Theme for Your Account
In order to create an Instagram Account that grows consistently, you need to have a clear vision for the theme of your account. What will you be sharing, what types of photos or things you will show on your account, and what will people come to expect to see from you? You need to understand these key items in order to create a consistent theme for your account that is attracting a specific follower that shares your specific interests.
Step 2: Develop a Consistent Posting Schedule
Whether you want to share once a week or multiple times a day, it’s important to define this frequency and stick to it as much as possible. Consistency in your posting will help develop trust between yourself and your followers will ultimately help you gain more followers to your account.
Step 3: Share Great Posts
Remember, your Instagram post consists of two parts, your image and your description. Make sure you are using great photographs first and foremost, but also make sure to take time to craft eloquent descriptions. Although a picture says a thousand words, the message you choose to leave in the description of your post will go a lot further into developing your themes and your relationship with your followers. People love to feel connected to others online, make sure you use your images and descriptions to connect!
Step 4: Use Relevant Hashtags
Hashtags are the search engine of Instagram. If you want to be discovered by new followers and grow your audience, you are going to need to use hashtags to help you get it done! When it comes to hashtags you have a few rules you need to understand. First, you need to use relevant hashtags, meaning, the hashtags people would be using to find your image that make logical sense. If you aren’t sure what these tags would be, just do some research in Instagram and see what existing hashtags have a lot of pictures and if those pictures are similar to yours. Another thing you need to understand about hashtags is that, in my opinion, you should use as many relevant tags as possible. When I was in serious growth mode for my account, I was using around 20-30 hashtags and I think that is reasonable. Instagram does cut you off if you use to many so keep that in mind.
Step 5: Interact with Others!
The final step to growing your Instagram account is to make sure you are interacting with others in the app. Make sure you are replying to comments left on your posts, reach out to other creators on Instagram that are within your market or niche and collaborate, and of course, make sure you support the accounts of your best followers as well by liking and commenting on their posts as well. Remember, Instagram is social media, and the point of it is to be social. You’re not going to grow by posting a picture and walking away from your account, you need to interact in order to gain followers!
Don’t forget to sign up for my new FREE Webinar ENTREPRENEURSHIP IS THE NEW BLACK! This webinar is going to be jam packed with information and strategy for you to make the most of your online platforms, including Instagram, to support the development of your blog or business online!
This article was originally posted on StrangeCharmed.com on February 9th 2016 and is being reposted for the new members of my community who may have missed it!
We all know that Instagram is currently the fastest growing social media platform, so now more than ever, business owners— especially online entrepreneurs— should be using the application to the best of their ability in order to drive more traffic to their site and ultimately make more sales via the application. Unfortunately, Instagram doesn’t make it especially easy for businesses to drive leads and make sales, but a savvy business owner knows that there are ways out of this jam! So, today, I wanted to share with you three simple and easy to implement tips that you can use right now on Instagram to help you make the most of the platform and gain new followers and well deserved sales!
1. Take Styled Product Shots
The first thing that every business owner should be doing on Instagram is taking styled product shots. I wrote a whole post about how I take mine so check that out if you want more tips on this specifically, but obviously nothing is going to get you further on Instagram than great photos. If you sell physical or even digital products, you should be styling those items into shots to share. Above are a few examples of styled product shots for my digital/virtual products to give you some ideas. If you sell services, you too need to be styling shoots, but instead of showing a product you need to convey a message that aligns with your service. A home organizer may want to share styled shots of organized pantries and linen closets, a dog walker may want to share pictures of happy pets, whatever your speciality, get creative and start shooting some images that show your work in action!
When I said that Instagram doesn’t make it especially easy for businesses to drive leads and sales, this has to do with the fact that the application only gives you one single location for utilizing clickable links. For an online business, direct links to products, email lists or other online platforms is crucial to gaining more of a following and achieving more sales. To work around this issue, I highly suggest using a free resource called Bit.ly which allows you to take long URLs and turn them into custom short links. I then use these links in my Instagram feed by listing them as my location so that the link is clearly visible. Now, the link still isn’t clickable, but the idea is that a unique short link is easier for people to remember and if they are curious they can quickly type it into their browser and get immediate access to whatever you are promoting! Because I run an online business, I make sure that my location services are turned off on my phone before doing this so that the link doesn’t become a live location link for me, but if you run a brick and mortar or do want to mark your geographic location, feel free to skip this step!
3. Host a Photo Challenge
We’ve all see and perhaps even participated in a photo challenge hosted on Instagram, but have you utilized this great community building activity for your own business yet? If not, it’s a very simple promotion to set up. First, start off with a simple graphic of daily prompts related to your industry or the type of challenge you want to host. Above is an example of a graphic from a recent photo challenge I hosted which brought me thousands of new subscribers in just one month! Next, you will notice I gave my photo challenge a simple yet custom hashtag that is unique to me that people could use to tag their images. This is an important step you want to make sure not to miss because you want people to use that hashtag and that hashtag needs to lead them straight to you, so get clever with the tag but also try to keep it short and simple! Finally, you are going to want to set the time frame for your challenge and promote it through your Instagram and other social media platforms. I’d also suggest getting some friends or loyal customers on board with helping promote and share the image so that it gets around to as many people as possible. Once the challenge begins, feel free to take part in it yourself if you’d like, or simply spend some time each day going through the custom hashtag, liking and commenting on the photos from your participants. The more interaction you provide, the more followers you will garner for yourself!
BONUS TIP #4: Use Instagram as Part of a Cohesive Online Business Strategy
Instagram is a wonderfully powerful platform that is constantly evolving, but in order to get the most out of it for your business it should be used as part of a cohesive online business strategy. Now, if you are struggling to develop your strategy for your business, I have a wonderful FREE Webinar on the topic coming up soon called ENTREPRENEURSHIP IS THE NEW BLACK. I’d highly recommend signing up for the webinar and joining me live for some valuable Q&A time to get my direct feedback on your strategy moving forward. I only do these sorts of live webinars a few times a year, so make sure to sign up asap and plan to attend a live session to get the most out of the experience!
Those are my three tips for business owners to make the most of Instagram! Like I said, these are all simple enough to achieve and implement immediately, so I highly suggest spending a few minutes today (or scheduling some time coming up on your calendar) brainstorming some styled shots, and working on a photo challenge to promote your brand! Make sure you sign up for a free bit.ly account and start using those custom links asap, you can even go back and edit some old images with relevant links if need be! Let me know if this post helped you and if it did, I would love if you would share it in social media. Leave a link to this post in your Facebook feed or Tweet a link to it out! That’s a quick and easy way to share my content and I sure do appreciate it! Oh, also make sure you are following me on Instagram @MissTrenchcoat!
This post originally appeared on Strange & Charmed on May 14th, 2015 and is being reposted for any new members of my community who may have missed it!
I spent 6 years working on my business as a side hustle before I ever dreamed of taking my business full time! If you aren’t familiar with the term, a side hustle is when you have a 9-5 job (or equivalent) and then you have a project you are working on in your free time that is your own. Usually, when we talk side hustles, we mean a business we are running on the side as though it were a second job that may one day become our full time gig, but not always. It can also refer to a volunteer project or cause you are passionate about that you never intend to make any money from but just enjoy doing in your spare time. Whatever your side hustle may be, in order to give that project our full attention and really get the most out of it so that it can one day become more if we wish it to, I have a few tips to impart upon you as someone who has been there, done that and built a full time business from it! This is not the story of how I left my full time job for my side hustle, if you want to read that you can here. This post covers the important things you need to know and focus on to successfully balance your 9-5 job and your side hustle so that you can do both effectively!
Get Clear on Your Business Vision
The first thing you really need to understand when trying to balance a full time job with a side hustle is the vision for your side hustle. Is this something you want to make money doing? Is this something you want to become your full time job? What exactly are you trying to accomplish with your side hustle? What key activities do you need to accomplish to make your side hustle happen? You may not have a 5 or 10 year plan laid out for this yet, but having a well rounded sense of what you are doing and why is important!
Once you understand your vision, you need to set some goals for your side hustle! Goals in terms of your output and the activities you will perform on a weekly basis, as well as goals for input in terms of results you are seeking. For example, when I started my side hustle, it was just a blog in the beginning that didn’t have much direction or any goals, but once I set the goal to blog three times a week, my blog really started to take off because I was putting in consistent effort. Simultaneously, I had set goals for my blog in terms of monthly page views, at first I set those goals low, 1,000 page views a month, and once I hit that goal, I raised it to 5,000, then 10,000 etc! Setting goals for output as well as input are important to help you keep an eye on your results to ensure you are moving your side hustle along!
Make a simple project plan
When you have a full time job and a side hustle time can get very tight, so I think it’s always best to keep your side projects as simple as possible. Don’t put too much on your plate at one time or else you will get overwhelmed and one or both of your jobs will be negatively affected. For example, if you want to start an Etsy shop, keep your products as simple as possible. Don’t bite off more than you can chew by adding dozens and dozens of different items to your shop. Focus on producing a few items perfectly and promoting them regularly on the social media platform of your choice instead of spending all your time creating new items and leaving yourself no time for promotion.
Block out time to work on your side hustle
Time management is an essential skill you must master if you want to successfully pull off a 9-5 and a side hustle, and I am often asked how I was able to balance my full time job with all my social media promotion, blogging and YouTube video production before I went full time. The answer is that I blocked out time in my schedule to complete my activities. I spent some time a few evenings a week and usually one weekend day to get done my essential activities. Again, because I kept my projects simple and set goals, I knew what needed to be done and set aside the time to do it. If you are setting aside time for your side hustle but find that you aren’t accomplishing much, you may need to simplify your projects so that you have less on your plate.
Track your results
Now, the final thing you need to do to ensure your side hustle is successful is to track the results of the goals you set. You first need to make sure you are doing all the output that you said you would do because action is the only way you will move your business forward. Once you have tracked that you are completing the necessary output activities, you need to check the effectiveness of those activities against your input goals or results. Are you moving the needle week by week and month by month? You can’t expect huge amounts of growth overnight, but as long as you see growth from your actions, you know you are on the right path! But, if you go week after week with little to no growth, you may need to reevaluate your project plan and your output goals to ensure you are actually performing the right activities that will get you the results you are looking for.
Remember, it’s not easy balancing a 9-5 with a side hustle, it takes a lot of determination and clear expectation to manage both and most importantly, to make progress with your side hustle! It took me over 6 years to turn my side hustle into a full time career, mostly because it took me that long to learn all the strategies of online business and marketing that would eventually help me to create the business I wanted to run! If you are still on the hunt for strategies that will help you master online marketing for yourself, I welcome you to sign up for my upcoming Free Webinar Training ENTREPRENEURSHIP IS THE NEW BLACK!
So, you really want to start your own business and claim the title of #GIRLBOSS for yourself, but you aren’t sure you have the required skill set. While starting your own online business doesn’t require a specific resume, I’ve found that their are a few essential skills that tend to separate the successful from the average. Here are the skills I have found to be the most crucial as I run my own business.
Great communication skills are a very valuable asset for any #GIRLBOSS, but especially for one that deals with online business. In the real world, having strong speaking and writing skills are a necessity but online, they can mean life or death for your business. It’s so hard to communication online. Yes, it’s easy to send a tweet or leave a comment, but it’s hard to get your messaging across on noisy social platforms and through the hustle and bustle of ads and other constant interruptions on websites. You either need to have great public speaking skills so you can kill it on video platforms OR you need to have impeccable writing skills if you want to carve a name for yourself via a blog. If you have the complete package, you are golden, but if not, don’t fret because you can always improve either!
How to Improve Your Communication Skills: If you need to work on either of these critical communication skills, I have some recommendations for you. To improve your writing, I love the book On Writing Well. It’s a simple guide that can help anyone at any writing level clean up their written communication and start crafting better messages. If you need to improve your oral communication skills, I would suggest joining Toastmasters, which is an international organization that helps people improve their public speaking.
Design skills are another complete must for a #GIRLBOSS with an online hustle because everything online is driven by design. Your website, your content, and even your products need to have a great design to them in order to turn heads online. Yes, you can always hire out a designer to do this sort of work for you, but if you don’t have the basics down, you are leaving the design, and really the direction of your business, in the hands of a stranger.
How to Improve Graphic Design Skills: When it comes to improving your design skills there are a few things you can do. First, you can get a sense of what your ascetic is by searching through other websites, magazines, and through sites like Pinterest to understand what you like and what you don’t like. Next, I would put together collages via Pinterest to see how different images and design elements work together to create on cohesive vision. If you have a specific project you are working on, like a website redesign or you’re trying to research design for an upcoming project, you can make a board on Pinterest for the project and drop all your inspiration there. Be careful of what you curate because much of understanding good design is knowing that less is more and that a good designer knows how to build a great design with the fewest possible pieces.
Photography is another skill that is invaluable for a #GIRLBOSS to have in order to run a successful online business. Images are so much of what compels us to connect and purchase products and services online and so any serious #GIRLBOSS should be comfortable behind the camera. Styled photography is a key element of branding that is necessary for a variety of platforms such as Instagram, Twitter, and Facebook, not to mention how crucial it is for your website or online shop!
How to Improve Photography Skills: If you need to up your photography game, I would highly recommend my Digital Styling Lightroom Course. It’s a video based course with 5 modules designed to teach you how to shoot, style and edit great photography for your brand. Definitely check it out if you need to up your photography skills!
I know the average #GIRLBOSS hates thinking of herself as a salesperson, but you do need to have a basic understand of how “sales” works, in order to close the deal with your customers. The thing you need to know as a salesperson, however, is that sales isn’t really about selling your product. Rather, it’s about selling yourself. A good sales person can sell any product to anyone, they don’t really need to know much about a product, they just need to have confidence in themselves and a charismatic personality.
How to Improve Sales Skills: I know it’s probably not the first book that would pop up if you did a search for tools to help you become a better salesperson, but I’d recommend the book Think and Grow Rich by Napoleon Hill. The book is super old, but stands the test of time, even in the modern online marketplace because it isn’t about the products you are selling, its about the basic principles of selling yourself to another human being.
The final thing a #GIRLBOSS needs to be successful is a desire for personal development. A smart #GIRLBOSS knows that she doesn’t know everything and although she may have achieved much already, she has so much more to become and achieve. I find that the desire for personal development is absolutely necessary if you want to be a good problem solver and leader.
How to Improve Personal Development Skills: This one is simple- say YES to as many learning opportunities as you can manage! Keep up with current news, read the highly acclaimed best sellers, follow other successful #GIRLBOSSES online and of course, engage with as many free business resources as possible. One great personal and business development resource I have for any current or aspiring #GIRLBOSS is a new FREE Webinar ENTREPRENEURSHIP IS THE NEW BLACK where I will be sharing my secrets to creating an online business that defies trends and makes a lasting impact for your life! Feel free to sign up for more information today!
I’m sure their are other skills here and there that would benefit and savvy #GIRLBOSS, but these five are the crucial ones you need to have under your belt in order to really have what it takes to stand out in business, especially online business. If you’re lacking in a skill, definitely prioritize honing it because all of these skills are learnable!