3 tips to help you get that newsletter out

Newsletters are by far one of my favourite online marketing tools (which is why I talk about them so much!) but sometimes they can be hard to get done. I asked our community for some of the common reasons that people don't get their newsletters sent and I'm going to give you some tips on how to deal with those reasons.

I can't find the time. 

There are so many things to get done as a business owner that vague deadlines are the ones that often get pushed off the fastest. A "January newsletter" means that you just have to find the time at some point in January to get a newsletter ready and it will often get pushed off the priority list over and over again.

Set specific dates for when your newsletter will go out. It can be once a month (third Wednesday of every month) or more frequently (every Thursday morning). Once you have a set date that your email is going out, you have a deadline that isn't as easy to push off. The bonus is that your audience starts to expect your emails on those dates and are more likely to open them - that's extra incentive to get the newsletter out on time.

My list size isn't big enough to bother. 

Quality over quantity - we say it a lot, but it's true! You can have a list with 200 people that converts way better than a list with 2000 or even more. Spend time finding the people who you actually want to have on your list and then build relationships with them. Give them valuable content that they appreciate and in time they will become your biggest cheerleaders.

The other thing to remember is that the more newsletters your send, the better you get at it. Practice and perfect your style by sending consistent newsletters even when your list is still small.  

I'm not seeing results. 

It's easy to feel discouraged when you don't see a lot of sales that are directly related to newsletters you're sending. There are a few things you can do here:

- Realize that with a lot of online marketing, it's a slow build. People need to see your name, your content, your product, etc., multiple times before they buy. Don't get discouraged if it doesn't happen right away.

- Analyze what IS working. Make sure you're including links so you can see where people are clicking, test different kinds of subject lines to see what people open, and check your stats. You can learn so much from what you've already sent so you know what to keep sending moving forward.

Leave a comment and let us know if you have any other reasons you don't send your newsletters. And if you need some extra help understanding how newsletters work, check out our Newsletter Course.

 

Should you outsource your social media?

If you had asked me this question a couple of years ago I would have said no, you should keep it in house because nobody knows you better than you. 

But here’s the thing… social media has continued to evolve and as a busy business owner, you may not have the time to learn how to use social media effectively and create quality content. And that’s okay. So, should you consider outsourcing your social media? Absolutely.

Quality content

When you’re creating content to use online it needs to look professional. People expect a business to put together something that looks like a graphic designer or professional writer did it, not an amateur. Why? Because there is so much content to sift through on a daily basis they can’t be bothered with anything that doesn’t stand out.

What does that mean for you? It means that you need to make sure that you’re creating images and putting together content that speaks to your audience. This is a lot more time consuming than you might think, or like, or have time for.

Quantity of content 

The world of online content is fast paced. You want to have regular content to stay top of mind and so that you get picked up in search and algorithms so people will seeing what you’re saying. 

This means that you should have daily content going out on channels like Facebook, Twitter or Instagram, you should be blogging weekly (or more) and that you should be sending regular email newsletters (I recommend at least two a month, if not weekly.)  It’s a lot of content and you may not have the time to do it all.

It keeps changing

Facebook reach is down – should you keep using it? My audience says they aren’t using Facebook – where do I find them? What is Snapchat and do I need to care?

People keep changing where they’re spending their time and as a busy business owner you may not have the time to keep on top of what tools make the most sense for your business and how they’re changing (for example, while Facebook is certainly not a tool to ignore, it’s absolutely true that to get the best value out of using it you probably want to invest in Facebook advertising). 

Time

Are you sensing a theme? Time is precious and I know that creating quality online content may not be the best use of yours. If that’s the case (because there are certainly many business owners who CAN do their own social media) then outsourcing is probably a great solution for you. 

Hire someone who can take away the stress of having to create regular content for all your channels, who knows how to create images and where to find good links and information that your audience will value. Hire someone who will let you know if things are changing and if you need to change your focus and the type of content you’re sharing. Hire someone who will take the headache out of online marketing and leave you with the value of finding new customers and building relationships with them. 

Who do I hire?

Do you know anyone who has experience in online communications who offers these types of services? There are quite a few people who have a lot of experience in the online space who can help you. The key is to make sure that they understand your business and your goals and messaging.

Wellman Wilson is now taking on social media content creation and management because we recognize that business owners just don’t have the time to do it all. If you’re interested in chatting with us, send us an email or check out the content creation services section on our website.

Online marketing can be time consuming, but it is also the key to reaching new audiences, getting repeat business and increasing revenue. Don't let time or overwhelm stop you from establishing your online presence in 2015!

Mastermind your way to success in 2015

Have you ever heard of a Mastermind Group? I'm lucky because I got to be a part of one over a decade ago (though it wasn't called that then) and it was instrumental in helping me grow my career in the field of communications. I've now created one for myself as a business owner and in the few short months since we began, the members in my group have been pushing me to new places with my business - it's incredible!

What is a Mastermind Group?

A Mastermind Group can be run in many different ways, but the basic explanation is that it is a group of people (in my case, business owners) who come together on a regular basis to support each other and help each other achieve goals. That's it. How it runs is often different, but the basic concept is that this group of people is there to make you the best that you can be.

What are the main benefits of being part of a Mastermind Group?

There are many many benefits, but here are my top five:

1) Support

It can be hard (and kind of lonely) to be a business owner. Finding a group of people who understand what it's like to do what you do, who have experienced what it's like to run a business, and who can support you as your run your business is extremely valuable all on its own.  

2) Accountability

I don't know about you, but I often need outside accountability to get things done. In each meeting everyone in the group sets out three things that they will do before the next meeting and they tell the group how they did on the three things they committed to at the previous meeting.  Admitting to not doing what you said you would can be incentive enough to scramble in the hours before the meeting (I say this from personal experience).  Accountability is huge.

3) Insight

At every meeting someone is in the hot seat. This means that almost half of the meeting is devoted to just them and their business. They bring a question or an issue and the entire group is focused on giving them their thoughts, ideas and insight to solve that problem or move things forward.  

We need people on the outside to be able to tell us what they see looking in to our businesses and the members of a Mastermind Group can do that.

4) Safe space

All of the members of my Mastermind signed a Non-disclosure agreement when we started. It's made talking about anything and everything we're worried about or considering safe to talk about when we're together. 

Not every problem we face as business owners can be discussed publicly - that's just how things go in business. Being able to talk with others who understand what it's like to run a business about the things that are concerning or scare you is huge.

5) Push

My Mastermind Group isn't afraid to push each other. Scared to do something? Too bad - your group thinks you should and CAN do it so they'll push you to do it. Trying to hide in that comfort zone? No go with a Mastermind Group watching what you're doing. Putting yourself into a position to be pushed to be all you can be is a scary but amazing thing to do.

How can you be a part of a Mastermind?

Keep your eyes open. A lot of business coaches run them and you might be able to Google and find something in your area. Or do what I did and set up your own.  

My Mastermind Group runs every two weeks for two hours and has six members. I did a lot of online research to try to figure out what I thought would work best and then went looking for people I thought would blend well together as a group. We then set up a Facebook Group so we can stay in regular communication and publicly list our accountability actions. It's pretty simple to set up once you start!

Have any questions?  Leave them in the comments - I'd be happy to try to help you figure out how you can get the incredible value I do out of your own Mastermind Group!

 

Three words for 2015: Teach, Create, Grow

Happy New Year!

I love starting out a new year with picking three words.  We've done it severals times in the past and the words don't often change significantly, but taking a little bit of time to think about the direction we want to head in to the new year with really helps us focus on what and how we do things.

This year our three words are Teach, Create and Grow and I'm really excited to see where they take us.

Teach

Teaching is definitely one of our passions at Wellman Wilson.  Helping you figure out how to use social media to grow your business online with simple step-by-step processes is something we pride ourselves on doing well.

In 2015 we will continue running our two online courses - Simple Start and Simple Start Newsletters, and we will also launch a third course, Simple Start Blogging.  These courses are designed to walk people through the steps of learning to post on Facebook, Twitter, start sending email newsletters or posting regular blog posts, without feeling like it's an overwhelming and unachievable task.

We will also continue running webinars, taking on speaking engagements and running our own workshops. (Be sure to stay tuned for one coming up early this year!!) If there is anything in particular you'd like us to teach, whether that be as a course, a webinar or a speaking engagement, leave a comment or send us an email and we'll see how we can fit it into our 2015 schedule!

Create

Creating content, courses, videos, blog posts, etc., is something we do a lot of and will continue to do.  But this year we're going to be creating even more than that because we understand that no matter now organized you are, and how well you come to understand the importance of social media and online marketing and how it works, you sometimes just don't have the time to create your own content. This year we're taking on more clients that want us to do the work for them.

Don't let the overwhelm of content creation slow you down.  If you'd like to chat about how we can help you with content creation email us and we'd be happy to set up a call to talk about how we can help meet your needs!

Grow

Most of us hope to grow our  businesses but we've chosen this word because in 2015 we really want to continue to focus on growing our knowledge, growing our services, and growing our business. In 2014 we hired an amazing virtual assistant (now business manager) who has helped up have more time to focus on content creation of all kinds and we intend to keep on that path with more support and more staff.

We want to move forward into 2015 with a lot of serious intention to grow to a place where we can provide you with amazing content and service and grow is the word that will help us get there.

What are your three words?

Leave a comment and share your three words, as well as anything you'd like to learn more about this year.  You are who inspire us in our business. Understanding how you're working on your businesses as we move forward helps us make sure we're creating the right content for you.

Happy New Year everyone!  Here's to an amazing 2015!

It's been a very good year...

This year has been an exciting year of growth for us as a business. Our third year of being in business together has brought Lara and I so many good things:

  • More really interesting and fun clients to work with,
  • We launched a new program to help you launch or refresh your email newsletter,
  • We said goodbye to Social Capital Conference (a bittersweet decision, for sure), 
  • Our website got a nice refresh,
  • Lara and I have evolved to a more strategic approach with planning - and we get together regularly to keep things fresh and moving forward,
  • We started doing webinars! The latest that we had on planning had a great turnout and lots of interaction which made it very successful,
  • Lara has turned into a video-making machine, which means we have great content on our YouTube channel for you,
  • One of the very best things we did this year was hire Tracy Noble, who has become our business manager. She has her own business and we are not her only clients, but she has become integral to our success. (In other words, she makes us look good and keeps us on track!)

We're looking forward to even more great things happening in 2015. Next week, we'll give you a little preview of how that's going to look and what you have to look forward to...I'm having a hard time not spilling the beans now!

From Lara, Tracy, and myself, we hope you are having a lovely holiday season!

You have more to say than you realize

Show me what you've got to say - I bet it's really good!

Show me what you've got to say - I bet it's really good!

There's a common piece of advice given by big name marketers that says you should only write when you have something to say. It's meant to be applied everywhere - your blog, your newsletter, and social networks. In theory, it makes sense: Don't overload/bore/waste your audience's time with content that you share just to have content to share.

For a small business, with a small audience, that's trying to build up engagement, this is not good advice. Here's why:

1) It requires a critical mass of engaged followers/subscribers.

The marketers who say this have all done their time, building up a good sized audience that trusts their expertise. They have loyal followings that look for their content and interact with it when it comes. As a small business owner, it takes time to build that kind of relationship with your audience. To remain successful with a "write when you have something to say" strategy, you need a critical mass following you. Can your business grow if 50% of your followers convert to paying customers? Depending on the size of your audience and what you do, many can say yes to that. The reality is that most businesses won't convert nearly that many people. So, how many people would it take to build your business to the level you want to reach? Now, you'll likely have to grow an audience that is at least 20 times that size (or more!). That's why it's important that you know that when content isn't delivered regularly, your audience will not grow consistently or as fast.

2) Credibility starts with visibility.

The point of posting content regularly is to keep your business and expert content top of mind with your audience. If they don't see or hear from you on a regular basis, they can't learn to trust what you have to say. Whether you're sending a newsletter, writing a blog post, or posting to social media, each of those touch points is an opportunity to provide value that builds your credibility as an expert in your field. As your audience sees the information you share, they will respond in various ways: by filtering it out or ignoring it, reading it, taking some kind of action - like, comment, share, tweet, or apply it to their work. Each of these responses is important - some can be measured and give valuable insight to you for future content. Stay visible with your content by delivering consistent 

3) You have more to say than you realize.

Has anyone ever said, "There's a reason we have two ears and one mouth," to you? Human nature is that we like to talk and some people need a gentle reminder that listening is important too. It's a rare person who truly doesn't like or want to talk. Posting content without thought or for the sake of putting something out there isn't valuable to you or anyone else. But if you think about the interactions you have with your customers and clients each day, how many times did you find you had nothing to say to them? What about associates? 

On January 13, 2015, Lara and I are leading a Content Mindset Workshop that will help you see how much content you truly have. Whether you've been creating content for many years or you're just starting out, we have some exciting plans for this day that will help you look at the creation of content from a different angle. We're going to spend time teaching about various types of content, and tools and tactics that can help you create more effective content. You'll walk away at the end of day with content to use for your business. We strongly believe that you have more to say and this workshop is designed to draw those things out of you - for the benefit of your audience and your business.

Join us - I promise you won't regret it!

Small business resources: 2015 planning

2015planning

Karen and I are always on the lookout for tools that will help us stay focused and working as efficiently as possible. As we get closer to 2015 we're getting ready early and want to make sure that we're on track for 2015 to be our best year yet. With all kinds of new programs, products and directions we have a lot of planning to do this year!

Leonie Dawson

I discovered Leonie Dawson a couple of years ago. She’s a self proclaimed hippie and I will admit that at first I didn’t really think her content would be for me, but I was wrong. Last year we bought her business planning document and liked it so much that this year we went on to buy both her business planner and her life planner (affiliate link).

I really like that she helps you close off the previous year and figure out what you learned, what you achieved and sometimes what you need to let go of. Then she helps you figure out what your goals are for the coming year and how to break them down into achievable pieces.

Her planners, in her words:

The 2015 Create Your Shining Year workbook & calendar is an incredibly popular & useful tool to help you plan out & make happen your most incredible year in life or business (or both!). Over the last six years, thousands of women have used this workbook with the most amazing results. It’s the best planning tool available to help you make your year your most exceptional yet!
Used by entrepreneurs, artists, mamas, creatives, coaches, teachers and women of all ages, the Create Your Shining Year in Life and Biz workbooks are filled with dozens of pages of powerful worksheets & a printable calendar to help you create your amazing new year.

Planner Pads

I’m not very organized; I readily admit it. We were told about Planner Pads by Amanda from Little Lotus Yoga and right away I saw how my brain and this planner could work together. :)

The concept is of a funnel. You list everything you have to do at the top and then funnel it down to the right date and time. If you don’t do it when you funnelled it down, it’s still at the top of the list to funnel down elsewhere.

Since I’m also a big fan of writing things out by hand, this planner has worked really well for me - and everyone else we’ve recommended it to has loved it as well. I keep trying other planners to see if anything works better and nothing ever does. A small note, I tried the executive size this year because there would be more room to write and I found it a bit too bulky to carry around. If you bring your planner with you and you're out and about a lot, I'd suggest sticking to a regular size.

What planners work for you?  Leave us a comment and tell us how you're getting ready for 2015!

Do people know what they can buy from you?

"Don't be too salesy." 

"Give your audience value."

"It's not all about you, it's about them."

whatcanibuy.jpg

These are the messages that you hear over and over about your content and they are true. You don't want to sound like a sales pitch, but you also have to make sure that you don't end up being the opposite (this is something we've struggled with ourselves).

While you don't want to constantly sell things to your audience, you also have to make sure that you're making it clear to your audience what they can buy when they're ready.

What do you sell?

How easy is it to find things that people can buy on your website? What are the things you want people to buy? Make sure that you have a list of several options that you can promote to people in your blog, on Facebook, in your newsletter, etc.  Keep in mind that the easier you make things for people the better. Whenever possible, instead of telling someone to get in touch to buy something, have a "buy now" button next to the product because people don't like taking extra steps.

For a long time we simply told people we could help them with social media and waited for them to decide how. It turns out it really helps to have tangible products that people can buy (like the newsletter course or the Simple Start program.)

How often should you promote your products?

You need to be careful about ONLY trying to sell things. What you want is a blend of valuable content (this should be the majority of your content) without forgetting to promote yourself too. While giving specific numbers for this kind of thing can be hard because it depends on your audience (as with everything) and what you're selling, a safe zone would be that 10-25% of your content can be purely self promotional. This doesn't mean that 25% of the time you're specifically trying to sell them something (though it could), but it could mean linking to newsletter sign ups, asking your audience for input or linking to your testimonials page.

Nobody engages

When you post links to your content that's for sale, people aren't going to be inclined to 'like' or comment or even share that content. That makes analytics particularly important. I had a client who was convinced that she shouldn't be posting links to her products, but when we went into her Facebook insights, the posts with the products were among the most clicked on content she had. While she was worrying that people weren't interested and that she was bothering them, her audience were rushing over to her website to find out more. Check your numbers to see how your audience is reacting to your content.

Give it a try

This week, promote some of your products on some of your social channels and let us know how it goes. You may be surprised at how easily people will buy something when simply given the opportunity.

The what, who, when, where & why of Facebook

Facebook is easily the most controversial major social network. Seemingly constant changes to Facebook's user interface, its functionality, and the algorithm that controls what we all see have led marketers and users alike to feel nearly constant frustration with the service.

So, if it’s so bad, why do we keep logging in? What keeps us coming back to this Web site that inspires such frustration?

Our friends. Our business. Our interests.

Yes - even if we see each of them less and less. The thing is, I doubt we'd like it if the algorithm wasn't prioritizing our newsfeed. And Facebook is still the largest and most-used social network on the Internet, which makes it relevant and important to your business.

What is Facebook?

Believe it or not, I meet people regularly who don't have Facebook accounts. They have their reasons, but if you're not on Facebook yet, it's hard to know what you're missing. Facebook is the quintessential social network. It started out as a two-way connection - reciprocity required. I send you a friend request, you accept or don't accept. One choice means I have access to your content and you have access to mine. Declining my request means we don't. 

"Friendship" is still the primary focus of the network, though they have since added Pages, Groups, Interest Lists, and Followers - all of which are not reciprocal connections.

Who should use Facebook?

From a personal perspective, I think that anyone who wants to connect with other people can get value out of Facebook. The idea that social media makes us less social doesn't have to be the reality - and it isn't for most. From a business or entity perspective, Facebook is a valuable marketing tool. There are over 1.3 billion active accounts on Facebook. It would be a rare business that can't find its audience in a pool of people that size.

When (and how) should I post?

Post at least daily, but not too often. The frequency your audience will respond to is potentially different from my audience and likely based on what kind of business you run. Media outlets can get away with posting numerous articles every day. A small business might post only once per day. For the majority of businesses, a maximum of 2-4 times a day is a good guideline. Facebook users will “unlike” your page if you annoy them. I know I have.

Be sure to share a mix of content - status updates, links, videos, photos - so that you get a better idea of what works best. The algorithm changes, so maintaining a mix ensures you won't get caught up in some of the silly (and fleeting) trends that don't work in the first place. 

Where should you post?

Over the years, Facebook has done a lot of work to improve its mobile app - from splitting out Messenger and Groups to improve loading time, to adding more and more of the browser app's functionality, such as editing, comment replies, and more. The list of actions you can only do in the web browser is getting shorter and shorter all the time. So, where should you post? Pretty much wherever you want.

Why should you be on Facebook?

I really like Facebook. The potential for collaboration, connection, information consumption are all pretty much endless. I've created and found support networks, small and large, through Facebook. I use Groups for my work with Lara on WWC, as well as part of the delivery of our programs. A lot of the issues people have with Facebook tend to be rooted in unrealistic expectations. Your audience has never all been guaranteed to see your content - not in newspapers, on television, on your website, on Twitter, or any other medium that you contribute to - not even when Facebook didn't have ads was 100% your audience guaranteed to see your content.

Developing a presence on Facebook can bring good things in the form of better relationships personally and professionally. It can also have an impact on the bottom line for businesses. However, no one should have a presence unless it makes sense to achieve business goals and they have the resources to be consistent. 

What would you add to the 5 Ws of Facebook?

How to schedule posts on Facebook

To be successful on Facebook you need to be posting content on a consistent basis. We recommend that you post something at least one or two times a day. The best way to take the stress out of posting regular content online is to have a plan, create a lot of content at once and schedule it. This means that on a daily basis all you need to do is monitor how things are going on your Facebook page instead of wasting time trying to figure out what to say.

But how do you do that?

Good question. Facebook keeps changing the "how" part and they don't make it obvious, so today I'm going to walk you through how to schedule posts and how to update them or edit them if you need to change anything later.

Schedule

Start by creating your content. Then select the "Post" button from the bottom right and then select "Schedule Post" from the drop down menu.

Once you've selected "Schedule Post" a window will pop up. You then select the date by clicking on the calendar icon and then typing in the time. This is a great way to experiment with what time works best for your audience by trying different times of day, from early morning to later into the evening.

Hit "Schedule" and you're done - it's that simple.

What if I need to change my post?

Sometimes things change and we need to be able to edit our content. If that happens it's easy to go into your scheduled content and either change the time it will go live, edit the text or delete it entirely.

To find your scheduled content you will see the following right under the status update box. Click on "See posts" to open up the content.

From here, you select what you want to change by selecting the arrow in the top right corner of the post in question.

And that's it.  Try it out and let us know in the comments if you schedule posts.

Beyond planning: The importance of strategic planning

plan-to-succeed

The longer we run our business, the more emphasis and priority Lara and I put on planning. And I don't mean just laying out a plan for what we want to do. Every year, we take a more strategic approach to setting goals, developing products, and creating content. It's making us better at what we do, better at helping our clients, and understanding our clients' needs. 

We have started having 3-4 planning days per year to set priorities, plan timelines, discuss ideas, etc. It's time we spend away from doing any work for clients or product development. However, it's absolutely critical to the short- and long-term progress and success of our business.

So much of what we do as business owners applies to planning and using social media in a strategic way. Imagine, if you will, a person who has what they feel is a fabulous idea for a business. Remember the jump to conclusions mat from Office Space? (Warning: there's a little four-letter language in this clip.)

Starting a business without clear goals, research into marketability of products and services, or realistic view of what's involved can lead to a rude awakening. I think every business owner has experienced this to some degree - whether a product or service completely bombs or they have to rethink their entire business model. That's usually when you come to the fork in the road and you have to decide which new direction to take.

Strategy is just as important to social media success

We make every effort to simplify social media for our clients. It's not rocket science. We know this. However, between using the actual tools and crafting messages with a strategic focus and tying it all in to your business objectives, the process can get overwhelming. Small business don't need a 100-page strategy document, but they do need to start with identifying goals, audiences, and key messages. Once they know the what and the why, then they can move on to tactics (the how). The "how" is pretty easy once you've established "what" and "why".

Answer these questions for your business

  • Why do we use <insert social network>?
  • Is our presence effective?
  • Are we using it to our advantage?
  • Have we gained any customers through that channel?

They aren't easy questions, but it's worth reflecting. This is the time of year that we all start looking at a fresh start in the New Year. We all want to be more organized, focused, productive. 

You can do all of those things, but it starts with a plan. I'm personally terrible at setting goals for our business in the areas that I am responsible for - Lara is pushing me and reminding me to be better (or just do it). I know the importance. I know why I struggle with it. I'm working on a solution that works for me and our business because without setting those goals, even knowing my audience and key messages, I'm holding myself and my business back from being the best we can be.

That's my area of struggle with planning. What is yours? What are you going to do about it to make 2015 even better than 2014?


Webinar - Get Results in 2015 using Social Media with a Plan!

Lara and I are going to talk about planning tips, advice, and resources during our December 9th webinar. Sign up here!


Do you struggle with staying focused in your day-to-day use of social channels? That can derail your plans for social media AND other areas of your business. Our Daily Social Media Checklist can help.

Just enter your email address and we'll send you this free tool to help you focus your efforts. You'll also receive weekly emails from Lara and I with valuable tips and information about how to grow your business using social media. 

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Watching YouTubers doing it right

I may have a bit of an obsession with YouTube. It's a hobby and I love it, and I can chalk it all up as business research now that I'm writing this blog post!

In the year or so that I've found a lot of the big name YouTubers (those are the ones who make substantial livings off their YouTube fame) time and time again I've seen that most of them are doing a lot of what we advise our clients to do and slowly but surely it has turned into Internet fame.

I'm not promising internet fame here, but let's pull out the important pieces:

Great content

Good YouTubers figure out what their audiences want and they provide it. It also needs to be in line with what they want at the same time for it to be successful and for them to want to keep doing it.

Music covers are one my favourite things to watch on YouTube. High quality covers of recent popular songs are gold for a musician making videos (I make no apologies for loving Taylor Swift's new song. I even like the original!).

I could post examples of great YouTube content all day from comedy to musicians to cooking shows, but that would be too distracting so I'll just share one more. I made this meal and it was amazing and now I can't get enough of all the Sorted Food videos.

 

Consistent schedule

Most YouTubers have a schedule they stick to. Grace Helbig of It's Grace made a video Monday through Friday for years and has only recently gone down to three videos a week.  

Hank and John Green (the vlogbrothers) post a video every Tuesday and Friday.

Fans expect the content and if they go to the channel on those days and there aren't videos they are disappointed.

It's not fast

A lot of these people have had YouTube channels for years. It's take awhile to get to the point where they now make enough money to make YouTube (and all that it's brought them) their career, but slow and steady wins the race.

Opportunities come knocking

While a lot of YouTubers make money on their content alone, they also make money from advertising and from companies, such as Patreon and Subbable that have popped up to help content creators find ways to make money online. For example, Walk off the Earth gets a dollar from me every time they make a new video through Patreon. In addition to this, there are also lots of opportunities that pop up as a result of their internet success, including:

Book deals:

Opportunities to be on Broadway and Tours

TV show deals

Consistent quality content aimed at your audience is what helps grow your reputation online. Whether you're creating content to help business owners learn to use social media or you're just out to entertain, it always come back to quality content.

Leave a comment and let me know if you've seen anyone online slowly grow to huge success with the delivery of consistent valuable content. And also let me know if you have any favourite YouTube channels because I'm always looking to check out more!

Tools to create appealing images

A few weeks ago, I wrote about the components of a blog post. One of the 7 critical pieces is a featured image. A good graphic serves a few purposes:

  • Your blog post graphic can help compel readers to click through from social networks when there's a thumbnail preview showing. 
  • The featured image can double as a shareable image when you promote your post on various networks.
  • It breaks up the page and assists with readability.
  • When the graphic lends support to your post and adds visual appeal, you help readers connect with your message and purpose.

Beyond featured graphics on your blog posts, images are used all over the place, because humans are visual. We like imagery. It helps us relate to and process information.

With all this pressure to have images at the ready, some businesses are searching for tools they can use to create graphics on the fly without having to hire someone. Today, I'm going to tell you about two tools I use all the time that I really love.

Canva

Canva.com hasn't been around for very long - maybe 6 months or a year. I can't remember how I found out about it, but I'm so glad I did. If you ever used Picnik (the image editor that Google bought and shut down), Canva is better. It started out as a browser-based tool and they've just recently released an iPad app, so you can make images on the go quickly and easily. Here are some of the images I've created using Canva:

Each of these shareable images was created with a stock photo, which I purchased from Canva for $1. Three eye-catching, meaningful images and they cost me $3 and a little bit of time. There are many, many free backgrounds, shapes, symbols and images that you can use as well. 

I use Canva exclusively for web graphics so far, but you can also create documents for printing as well. Canva even provides pre-sized templates for all the current optimal sizes for graphics on social networks, such as Facebook, Google+ and Twitter cover images, as well as timeline graphics. 

The image I sent to Lara and our amazing VA, Tracy Noble. :)

There are some functions (like using any font I want) that keep me using Adobe design tools more than these tools, but that tends to be for graphics that I want clearly branded. Fortunately, Canva gives you lots of options for changing colours to complement your branding and they have some very nice fonts to use as well.

Wordswag

I stumbled upon Wordswag a few weeks ago by complete accident. It's only available on iOS, but for $2.99 you get forever free access to a really cool tool. I've talked to quite a few people since I found Wordswag and almost all of them bought it right away and love it as well - so you won't be disappointed! I've honestly never had so much fun designing quick images.

Just to give you an idea, I decided to see how many different versions of the same image I could create in about 5 minutes time I didn't really race through, but I still managed to get 8 done! 

The variety is pretty impressive and since you can use your own photos and images, there's no need to feel like your text graphics look like everyone else's. Here's a video intro to Wordswag so you can see how it works:

The really wonderful thing about both of these apps is that you can make images right on your phone or iPad and then upload them to any social network, including Instagram. 

Bonus Tool - OUTSOURCE!

Lara and I are big believers in outsourcing work that isn't our genius. (That's one reason why we have that fabulous VA I mentioned earlier - we'd be lost without Tracy.) 

I'm very excited to announce today that Wellman Wilson is now officially offering design services. We recognize that creating images can be stressful and time-consuming if that's not what you enjoy or feel is a strength. We can help save you time and stress - allowing you to do more of the things that are your genius work!

Do you have a favourite tool for creating images? Tell us in the comments! (Especially if you have suggestions for Android users.)

How speaking can help you build online relationships

Social media for business isn’t always about making connections online. It’s also about making connections in person and then bringing those relationships online so you can nurture them far more frequently than you could if you had to wait until you saw that person again.

A great way to get in front of new people is to offer to speak at events. I do this a fair amount around Ottawa and it has not only been a great way to grow my network, it’s also been a great way to grow my mailing list.

Today I’m going to share a few tips on what I’ve done with in-person networking and speaking opportunities that you can use for yourself. 

Offer to share your expertise

Knowing what value you bring to your audience is key whenever you’re marketing yourself and your business. Come up with a few topics that are in line with your key messages that would be of value to others and offer to share them with the group. This often means a quick 10-15 minute talk, not a full hour or longer.

Some of the main topics that I suggest for myself include:

  • Is social media important for business?
  • Do I need to send email newsletters?
  • How to create a simple plan to simplify use of social media for your business

If you aren’t B2B (business to business) this may feel like more of a struggle, but it's doable, especially if you do the work to find the right event.

  • Share personal stories of success that incorporate what you do. This way you’re sharing a lot about your business while also providing them with value.
  • Find events that make more sense to your group. 

Do you teach “mom and me yoga”? Reach out to  some breastfeeding groups, early years centres, pre-natal workshop leaders, etc. and offer to do a 10 minute talk on how to relax, find calm and maybe go through a few simple poses on your own.

Do you clean houses? Find an event that helps promote work life balance and share tips on how to stay on top of cleaning without feeling overwhelmed.

Do you sell shoes? Find some women’s events and offer to talk about the latest fashion in boots or how to transition shoes when fashion changes.

Tips for speaking

If you don’t do much speaking the idea of getting up in front of a group of people and talking about something, even for ten minutes, might feel really scary. Here are a few tips to help:

  • Make basic notes (bullet points) so that you don’t end up reading a speech instead of talking to the crowd.
  • Have a hand out that you can refer to and look at. It becomes a prop and something to help you stay on track when you lose focus.
  • Find someone friendly in the crowd to look at whenever you feel overwhelmed or nervous. There’s always at least one friendly face in the crowd.

How to then get online

One of the biggest reasons you're doing this is so that you can start connecting with the people you're meeting online so, here are a few things to do during and after the event to do that:

  • Tell people what you do and carry around a paper newsletter sign up sheet and ask them to sign up to keep getting more free valuable content from you on a regular basis.
  • Connect with the people you meet within a day or two on Facebook, Linkedin or Twitter. Let them know it was nice to meet them and that you'd love to keep in touch.

Leave a comment letting me know what kinds of events you've found speaking opportunities at and how well you do at bringing your in-person networking contacts online after the events.

Join us tonight for a Twitter chat about email newsletters from 8-9pm using the hashtag #wwcnewsletters. Twitter chats are a great way to learn a lot in a short period of time AND meet some great people to stay connected to online!

Building relationships online - an interview with Rebecca Stanisic

I've been trying to do a lot more video this year and this week I tried a new type - the interview video!  

Rebecca Stanisic, from A Little Bit of Momsense and RebeccaStanisic.com agreed to let me ask her about how she has successfully built relationships online.

Rebecca started online with a personal blog and has since not only successfully monetized her blog, she also acts as a brand ambassador for several companies and helps other companies manage their social media.

As someone I have personally witnessed have so much success building relationships online, she was the perfect person to sit down and chat with.

If you enjoyed this video, make sure to subscribe to our YouTube channel and to like the video, as well as leave a comment here or on the video! Let us know what you have found works well for building relationships online.

Benefits of customers telling your story

Who doesn't want this?

Who doesn't want this?

Last week, Lara wrote about how you can invite your customers to tell their story. Taking this step may be slightly anxiety-inducing if you’re worried about what people will say. However, when your business is delivering high-quality and meeting the needs of clients and customers, the risk is minimal.

Customers who support your business and have a relationship with you or your organization will be happy to spend some time making recommendations. And, though some pretty sensationally bad customer service situations get a lot of attention, those instances truly are the exception to the rule. Even most complaints don’t make it onto the Internet.

There are two really good reasons to ask your clients and customers to talk about you:

  1. If they feel strongly enough to say something - positive or negative - they are more likely to talk about you with or without a prompt.
  2. Ask and you shall receive. It’s not always top of mind to relay a positive experience with a business. By asking, you’ve brought it to mind in the context of the positive.

THREE BENEFITS OF ASKING

I recently liked my chiropractor’s Facebook Page (Dr. Surbjit Herr). Within a day or two, I received an email from his assistant thanking me for liking the page and asking me to post a review. (Very smart tactic…hint, hint.) So I did! It was actually a very easy step, because I’ve been talking about Dr. Herr to anyone who will listen for nearly a year. However, I hadn’t thought to post anything online, so I’m really glad his assistant asked.

How many of your customers might have a similar story?

You will get access to your customers’ and clients’ network of friends, family, and associates.

We all know and influence different people. When I post about the experience I’ve had with Dr. Herr, my network will see it and (since I’ve been actively encouraging a few friends to go to him anyway) someone may finally take the plunge because of comments I’ve made in such a public place.

You’ll find out (sometimes surprising) things that are important to your clients and customers.

Every business puts a certain effort into delivering service in the way that they feel will be well-received by patrons. However, some of the little touches can mean a whole lot. For example, Dr. Herr ends each of my son’s adjustments by telling him to close his eyes. While Brandon’s eyes are closed, Dr. Herr gets a bottle of bubbles and gets ready. Brandon covers his eyes with a huge smile on his face and waits for Dr. Herr to tell him to open his eyes. He gets such a kick out of popping the bubbles and he plays along with the “surprise” even though he knows it’s coming. The trust and affection my son openly shows Dr. Herr makes me feel good about taking him for treatment.

When your clients and customers are willing to talk about you, it increases your credibility to those who don’t yet know you.

It’s easy to go to a grocery store and hand over money for things you need. The trust required is small. However, maybe your business (like mine) requires trust in a concept that invites skepticism. Or, perhaps your business (like Dr. Herr’s) requires a level of personal interaction and information that may be uncomfortable for some. Seeing the testimonials of others who have had a positive experience can help overcome doubt and uncertainty.

YOUR TURN!

I challenge you to talk about one great experience with a business. Tell us in the comments who they are (share links if you can!) and why the experience you had was so positive - or post an online review for that business and then share the link with us. Then go and ask at least 5 of your own customers or clients to do the same for you!

Invite your customers to tell your story

There is little more powerful than someone else telling people what you do, or that you’re good at it. That’s why testimonials are so important. But there are many other ways that you can get your customers to help tell your story, both to their friends, and to yours. Today I’ll run through three ways that you can get your audience talking about you, creating powerful content, and taking some of the pressure of creating content off of you!

1) Create opportunity and reason to check in

Whether people are using Foursquare, Facebook, or Instagram, you want them to check in to your location and let their friends know they’re there, and you want to make it as easy as possible for them.

The first thing you need to do is make sure that you’re set up on all of the different apps so that when they try to check in, you appear. If I’m out and want to share my location with a picture, and the location pops up for me to tag, I do it. If the location doesn’t show up, I don’t. This is easy to do on Facebook (by putting in your address and making sure your page is listed as a place), and adding your location to Foursquare makes it available both there and on Instagram as well. On top of making it easy for people to check in, be sure to encourage them to do so - either by asking them to check in, or…

2) Have contests

Contests are a great way to get people to share content for you. Put up signs in your location or promote them online to get people to share photos, stories or quotes that have to do with your business. Create a hashtag that then ties all the entries together and that leads people back to your site or business.

Here are examples of the types of contests you can run:

Ask people to Tweet or Facebook their favourite thing that you sell. Let them know to tag you or use a specific hashtag, like this company did:

The contest will encourage people to post photos like this:

or this one:

Ask a social media question for a chance to win a $25 Amazon gift card with a hashtag that corresponds to your business (i.e., #AskWellmanWilson)

3) Ask for their story

People like sharing their story and are often willing to do it as long as you ask. There are many ways to do this:

  • Ask them to write a sentence or two describing what they like about your company or your product.
  • Ask for a guest post that details their experience with you or your product.
  • Send them a questionnaire they can fill out and then post their answers as an interview.

Being the voice of your business and telling the story of your brand is made easier when you invite your clients and customers to join in. Our next blog post will give you some of the benefits that encouraging your customers to tell your story can bring.

What are some other creative ways you’ve seen businesses invite their customers and clients to tell their story?

Is your content inclusive?

The language you use to communicate with your audience says a lot about your business. If you’re using language your audience is unfamiliar with then you are less likely to have your message heard, or if it is heard it may be misunderstood. Your online content is sometimes your audience’s first impression of who you are as a business and the last thing you want to do is leave them feeling excluded or confused.

So, how do you make sure that you are creating inclusive content?

Use plain language

When you use plain language more people understand what you’re saying. This means your message will not only be heard more often, but that it is more easily sharable between your current and potential audience.  Think about some of the greatest brand slogans, such as Nike’s “Just Do It” – it’s easy to remember, easy to type and easily associated with the brand. 

Use conversational language

Whether you’re creating content for your website, blog or social networks, keep the language conversational. This means avoiding convoluted terminology and using words that you would hear in every day conversation. If it isn’t a word you would feel comfortable using all the time, don’t use it, and the same goes for a word that you don’t know the definition of – if you have to look up the definition, don’t use it in your content.

The best thing about conversational language is that it is more likely to generate a conversation between you and your audience, which could result in great things for you and your business!

Write more like you would speak than in what would be considered a “professional” way. A great way to practice doing this is to draft your post orally and record it and then listen to it and transcribe it. This will give you a great starting point for conversational sounding content.

Don’t think of it as “dumbing down”

The following video from the Government of Digital Service in the UK explains it best:

The term “dumbing down” is offensive and just because your audience doesn’t necessarily want to read complex content doesn’t make them dumb (as the term implies). It simply means that your wording is confusing or it takes more effort to read when people want to be able to skim.

Using complicated language excludes people from learning about what it is you have to offer, which could result in loss of sales or revenue.

Think of your content as an extension of yourself.  If you were in a room surrounded by your ideal audience would you want them to feel welcome or excluded? Use language everyone can understand and relate to and you will better the chances of one-time visitors becoming a part of your loyal audience.

Leave us a comment and let us know what you think.  Do you prefer content written simply and in a conversational tone or does it feel too simplified for you?