Entrepreneurial: Laying a Solid Foundation

ENTREPRENEURIAL My Monthly Entrepreneurship Journal for February 2017

Entrepreneurial: Laying a Solid Foundation

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!

xoxo,

MARCH FREEBIES: Dashboard, Monthly To Do List & Wallpapers

NEW January Planner Printables You Won’t want to Miss

MARCH FREEBIES: Dashboard, Monthly To Do List & Wallpapers

Let’s get our March planning started with some free printable planner inserts and new calendar tech wallpapers, shall we?

March 2016 Free Tech Wallpapers

 

Of course, I love to see pictures of your planner inserts and wallpapers at home on your planners and tech gadgets! If you share a picture, please use #CharmedGTD so the whole community can see your setups and of course tag me @MissTrenchcoat as well in your pictures on Twitter & Instagram!

Happy March Planning!

xoxo,

ARE YOU READY TO BUILD YOUR EMPIRE?

Are you ready to build your empire?

ARE YOU READY TO BUILD YOUR EMPIRE?

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:

• First, check out my latest FREE Business Webinar ENTREPRENEURSHIP IS THE NEW BLACK. You can sign up for the webinar here and get access to the replay and some additional Q&A as well! If you watch the webinar and decide you’re not on board with my strategies for online business or you aren’t interested in building a multiple income stream business, we’re all good. No harm, no foul! BUT, if my strategies make sense to you and you want to replicate success like mine online with passive income and social media marketing, you are in the right place and can proceed to the Empire Building Questionnaire below!

IS EMPIRE BUILDING THE RIGHT FIT FOR YOU?

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. 

So how did you fare? Are you ready to get started BUILDING YOUR EMPIRE with me and Empire Building? If so, CLICK HERE to get started now!

xoxo,

How to Get the Most from a FREE Business Webinar

How to Get the Most from a FREE Business Webinar

How to Get the Most from a FREE Business Webinar 

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!

xoxo,

How to Use Functional Planning for a Busy Work Week

How to Use Functional Planning for a Busy Work Week

How to Use Functional Planning for a Busy Work Week

For the last few weeks, I have been prepping for the upgrade launch of my new webinar ENTREPRENEURSHIP IS THE NEW BLACK, so naturally, I’ve had quite a bit to handle and very little room to waste time. So, of course, I’ve been using my functional planning method inside my Charmed Life Planner to ensure I have a game plan for each day. Yesterday on my YouTube channel, I shared a video walking you through how I functionally plan during busy work weeks. The video gives you a birds eye view of my planning process and thought process for how I will lay out my tasks for a full week. Now, if you are familiar with my functional planning process, you know I don’t normally lay out all my plans for a full week at one time, I prefer to take it day by day, but during busy weeks I find it necessary to lay everything out so there is no room for error. That doesn’t mean that I don’t allow for wiggle room in my schedule, just in case, but it means that I’d prefer to walk into my week with it set up for me to just knock out tasks and projects without having to plan and replan on the daily.

If you haven’t watched the video yet, I recommend checking it out! The following are some major points that the video covers if you want a summary of what you will see:

• Functionally Planning for a whole week begins with setting my Top 5. These are the 5 projects I need to complete or make progress on during the week because they are priority items.

• Next comes the Secondary or “Other” to do list. Of course, there are always tasks outside of my Top 5 that need my attention during the week and listing these out keeps me on track so I don’t forget anything else that may be important. Although these tasks may not be part of my highest priority projects, I do make an effort to complete as many as possible.

• Daily Top 3. In order to functionally plan and create mental focus for my workday, I set a daily top 3. These are 3 individual tasks that are the highest priority for the day. Generally these are project based tasks that must be completed in order for me to move on to future tasks in a project, but they can sometimes be tasks from my secondary to do list as well.

• Organize special information in open boxes. The Charmed Life Planner layout that I use for A5/Half Letter includes a blank open space at the bottom of each daily list. I use this space to break down special information, lists or project details that belong together. I find this is the best way to ensure I keep relevant information in the same place for tracking and completion.

• Build in white space. You will notice in the video that I do not fill up every inch of my planner before the week begins, I like to leave white space for me to add other information that may pop up during the week. I also make sure to balance my top 3 list so that I am mixing more time consuming tasks with some easier “lay-ups” as we can call them. This ensures I don’t over do it with my top 3 and end up with too much on my plate.

• Other weekly prep. In the video I also explain another weekly prep ritual I’ve been using, especially during busy weeks and that is meal prep. I will prep my lunches and dinners for the week ahead so I don’t need to think about them during the work week when I may be too busy to bother with cooking. It’s too easy for us to just autopilot to take out or skipping meals when we are busy and a bit of meal planning and prep before the week begins is the perfect solution.

I hope you enjoy the Plan with Me and my functional planning process. I’d love to know what you thought of the video and what points stood out to you. Let me know in the comments below!

xoxo,

How I Made $1,000 from 1 Instagram Photo and the Strategies You can use to Repeat My Success

How I Made $1000 from 1 Instagram Photo & the Strategies You Can Use to Repeat My Success!

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!

How to use Affiliate Links to Earn Income from Instagram

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.

How to use Sponsored Posts to Earn Income from Instagram

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!

How to Use Product Promotion to Earn Income from Instagram

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!

xoxo,

Alexis-Signature

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!

5 Stress Free Steps to Growing Your Instagram Following

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!

xoxo,

Alexis-Signature

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!

3 Instagram Tips All Business Owners Should Know!

3 Instagram Tips All Business Owners Should Know!

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

Take Styled Product Shots for Instagram

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!

2. Use Custom Bit.ly links

Use custom Bit.ly Links In Instagram

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

Host an Instagram 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!

xoxo,

Alexis-Signature

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! 

How to Balance a #SIDEHUSTLE with Your 9 to 5

How to Balance a #SIDEHUSTLE with Your 9 to 5

How to Balance a #SIDEHUSTLE with Your 9-5

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!

Set goals

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!

Sign up to get more details, access to the Live event, as well as to the event replay! Hope to see you there!

xoxo,

Alexis-Signature

The Essential Skills of a #GIRLBOSS

Do you have what it takes to be a #GIRLBOSS?

The Essential Skills of a #GIRLBOSS

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.

Communication

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.

Graphic Design

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

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!

Sales

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.

Personal Development

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!

xoxo,

Alexis-Signature

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