sales strategy

3 Things I Quit Doing to Grow My Business This Year

3 things I stopped doing to grow my business this year - how I streamlined my small business to grow my revenue while doing less work.

You don't have to do #allthethings to be successful.

Last year in my quest to figure out what it is I “really” want to do with my life, I launched WAYYY too many things. So this year has been all about trimming the fat. Getting rid of the things that 1) I hated doing 2) weren't profitable enough for me to want to do more of 3) weren't allowing me the freedom to live / work the way I wanted. There are three things I quit doing to grow my business with the help of these guidelines.

Streamline.

I'm not really into picking a word of the year, but I guess you could say that's what mine would be.

One of the things that sort of bothered me about being a marketing consultant was that I felt like I was always telling people what to do. I mean people were literally paying me to tell them what to do, but in general I felt like I was constantly shouting “you should do this because….”

I'm sure you see / read / hear it all the time…

You should post on Instagram every day. You should blog every week. You should start a YouTube channel for the SEO benefits. You should be doing Facebook live videos to connect with your audience. You should launch an online course so you can stop trading your hours for dollars.

#realtalk – You “could” do all of these things and still not be any more successful than you were before.

I'm not saying any of these things are “wrong” or that you “shouldn't” do them…

BUT AT SOME POINT YOU HAVE TO STOP LISTENING TO WHAT OTHER PEOPLE TELL YOU TO DO AND FOCUS ON ACTUALLY DOING THE THINGS THAT DRIVE YOUR BUSINESS FORWARD.

You don't need to be active on all the social media platforms – spend the majority of your time on the 1-2 platforms that have the highest ROI and don't stress about the rest!Click To Tweet

Wanna know what I quit doing over the summer that made absolutely no difference in my business?

  1. Blogging regularly – I used to publish new posts every. single. week. and long story short, I haven't been doing that regularly this year. Yes, this has (slightly) affected my blog traffic, but more importantly it has not negatively affected my revenue! Quick tip: if you don't want to make time to blog regularly, make sure you have evergreen blog posts that can consistently drive traffic back to your site even when you're not publishing new content. The main reason I continue to get consistent traffic > subscribers > customers is that I have Tailwind working on autopilot to promote old posts!
  2. Being active in Facebook groups – I used to waste SO MUCH time on Facebook. Yes, connecting with other people in Facebook groups can be a great way to grow your business / make friends / build community… but it can also be a time suck. Personally, I wasn't seeing the ROI from Facebook that I wanted, so I archived my own Facebook group and (accidentally) stopped being active in other people's groups as well. Ya know what changed? Nothing. Most of my traffic / customers / clients come from Pinterest and Instagram so spending less time on Facebook has made no difference in my business other than having more time to spend on other things! Quick tip: You don't need to be active on all the social media platforms – spend the majority of your time on the 1-2 platforms that have the highest ROI and don't stress about the rest!
  3. Working with new clients – Yup. I had a lot of things happening over the summer (travel / moving / life / etc.) that made it hard to commit to custom photography projects in advance, so I decided to take a 2 month break from client work. I was slightly terrified at first (my client work made up roughly 1/3 of my total income as of May), but I had my biggest revenue months EVER without working with a single new custom photography client. This is the most surprising one for me because I honestly expected a dip in my revenue from making this decision, but I think removing client work from the equation gave more more time to focus on growing other income streams – and I didn't hate it. I'm not giving up custom client work forever (for now!), but this revelation is definitely making me rethink how I structure my time and packages for the future! Quick tip: Sometimes you have to step away from one thing to move forward with something else. Don't be afraid to change the way you do things in your business when they aren't the best fit for the life you want to live.

Spending LESS time on all these things has led me to have more time to focus on other priorities like the Styled Stock Society and also to take advantage of other opportunities. Like…

So one more time…

You don't have to do #allthethings to be successful.

Tailwind - best Pinterest scheduler for bloggers

8 Ways to Increase Your Revenue Now

8 ways to increase your revenue right now - short term strategies for small businesses to make more money now and avoid the summer slump!

This post contains affiliate links for products I use and recommend which means at no additional cost to you, I may earn a small commission if you decide to make a purchase. 

With the ebbs and flows of business throughout the year, summer tends to be a slow time, but that doesn’t mean we can totally slack off until September! If you're feeling the summer blues and wondering what you can do to keep bringing in the $$$, I’ve put together a list of 8 easy ways to make more money in your business right now without spending a ton or launching something completely new. With these short-term ways to increase revenue, you can avoid the summer slump, and increase your income – or even take a vacation of your own! 

8 Ways to Increase Your Revenue Right Now

1. Run a Sale

A lot of people talk about discounting as a negative thing to do for your business, but I don’t think it's necessarily bad if you’re trying to bring in new customers or clients. If you position your sale a limited time opportunity, you’ll get people to act now rather than later. This is a great way to get rid of excess inventory if you have a product-based business and encourage get your audience to purchase something before it's gone for good! Earlier this summer I did this with a couple of courses that I was closing by offering them at a discount before they were closed for enrollment forever. 

2. Offer a Limited Time Bonus

If you don't want to discount your products or services, you can incentivize new purchases by offering a bonus or a bundle for people who are going to purchase from you. This is where handy ‘buy one get one’ offers come in. Or tell your clients if they book a consulting session, they get a free eBook or a gift card toward a future purchase. With this strategy, you're not just selling products, you're giving your customers something in addition to motivate them to act now.

3. Announce a Price Increase

If you’ve been in business for a while or you're expanding your offerings, you can give your audience the opportunity to hire you or purchase something at your current rates before they go up. This definitely increases customer interaction because everyone wants to feel like they got a deal. I recently raised the prices for the Styled Stock Society and a week prior to raising the prices I let everyone know it was going to happen, so whoever wanted to join before the prices went up had the opportunity to do that!

4. Add a Tripwire to Your Sales Funnel

A tripwire is a low cost ‘easy yes’ offer that helps you turn a lead into a customer. It’s an item that solves a very specific problem in your target audience’s life. This could be something like a template, a sample, access to an archive, training, or content you've already created. It’s something that’s small and has a low price tag so someone would be excited to pay a small amount of money for something that has a lot of value. The idea is that once someone buys from you, they are more likely to purchase again. By getting them to buy the small offer you create an opportunity to upsell them a larger package or product. In the meantime, it’s an easy way to make money while you're growing the know / like / trust factor with your customers!

Not a designer? (me neither!) – Bluchic's landing page templates make it easy to set up your tripwire in minutes!

If you position your sale a limited time opportunity, you’ll get people to act now rather than later.Click To Tweet

5. Offer a Popup Service

If you provide services, think about how your could take one specific part of your existing service offerings and create a mini version for a limited amount of time. You want this new offering to be smaller in scope and smaller in price. For example, photographers who offer portrait photography might do a smaller mini session with a specific theme. A health coach could offer a one week quick start meal plan instead of a 6-month program. A social media manager could create a limited time service like social media profile audits rather than their typical ongoing service. Popup services are a great way to introduce new customers to what you do without the pressure to invest in larger, more time consuming packages.

6. Run an Affiliate Campaign

If you have affiliates for your business, create a short series of emails to remind them how they can promote your business while earning money themselves. You might give them specific ideas on how they can promote your business with emails or social media updates. You could also provide graphics to help them promote your business and even swipe copy so you make it as simple possible for people to share how much they love your business! If you don’t have affiliates yet, you can still have brand ambassadors and even just business besties who share a word about your business you give them credit to your shop in return. Sometimes the easiest way to get new eyes on your business is by having other people promote it to their own audiences!

Convertkit now Seva email marketing

7. Update Your Evergreen Sales Sequences

First of all – if you don’t have evergreen sale sequences, you should definitely create them!  A lot of people will get their audience to subscribe to an email list and send them one thing and then… nothing. Research shows it typically takes at least 7+ touch points for a customer to feel comfortable with investing in your business. If you stop after one or two touch points then you're missing the opportunity to reach people who want to potentially buy from you! Create or update your evergreen sale sequences and add additional automated emails. Think about what else you can add to them to help educate potential customers and also remind them of the products and services you offer. Remember – just because you sent one email three months ago doesn’t mean someone's going to remember who you are today! 

If investing in costly landing page software like LeadPages is holding you back from creating sales funnels, check out Bluchic's landing page templates for a more budget friendly alternative!

8. Ask for Referrals

Asking for referrals can be uncomfortable for some people, but if you've provided your clients with value, there's no reason they wouldn't want to refer you to other people who could also benefit from the same services. This is a simple strategy that most people don’t do! If you don’t have a system in place for following up with your previous clients, checking in to see how they’re doing, and seeing if they need anything else, you should put one in place – AND use this as an opportunity to get repeat business by asking them if they know anyone else who could benefit from the same service :)

So those are 8 easy ways to increase your revenue and avoid the summer slump! What other strategies are you using to make more money right now?

What I learned from 4 launches in 3 months

What I Learned from Four Launches in Three Months - Launching Courses + Subscriptions

 

Some of y'all may know that in March I started to shift my business from primarily client-based work to incorporating online courses and other more “passive” forms of income. I kinda hate the term passive income because (in my experience) A LOT of work goes into creating / marketing digital products, but it is pretty damn cool to literally make money while I'm sleeping. With that said, I still enjoy one-on-one client work and am (currently) not trying to replace it completely with other income streams. I've been getting a lot of questions about launching, so I thought I'd share a few lessons I've learned from launching 3 online courses + 1 membership during the past few months!

Fail Fast + Get Better

I'm somewhat of a chronic over-planner, but for some reason this hasn't translated to my business – and I'm thankful for that. Instead of spending months planning + agonizing over every aspect of my launch plans, I can go from idea to live sales page in less than a week. I set a “minimum goal” for pre-sales and once I hit that, I create + launch within 2-3 weeks. My first launch wasn't perfect. My second launch wasn't perfect. There's always something to improve or try differently the next time and I don't really think there's such a thing as a “perfect” launch.

My “plan” for the last 3 months was essentially, fail fast + learn + tweak + repeat. I actually closed the cart on my first launch + opened the pre-sale for my second launch exactly 12 hours later. I wouldn't recommend that timeline to anyone else (take a freakin' break y'all!), but if you've been planning your launch for awhile and haven't just DONE it already – make it happen. I wouldn't consider any of my launches actual failures – I hit my minimum sales goals every time, and I hit my target sales goals most of the time. I still haven't hit my “stretch goals” for any of my launches, but I'm continuing to grow my email list, try new strategies, and tweak my sales funnels.

Key takeaway: Assuming you have an audience (even a small one) – create an MVP and put it out there. You can always make it better, but you'll never know unless you just do it.  

The More Specific The Better

I talked about how finding a niche made SUCH A DIFFERENCE in my first launch vs. my second launch in this post. And a couple of launches later, I still feel the same way. As long as you can find your audience and validate your idea, I think the more specific it is, the better.

It's a little weird because you'd think a general course on something like “Photoshop for bloggers” would attract more people than something really specific like “Photoshop for nomadic food bloggers in Europe” – but in that example, I'd bet most of the nomadic food bloggers in Europe get excited about the course because it's REALLY specific to them. If you create a generic product or service, you're probably going to have a lot of competition. And if you can stand out, that's great – but it's much easier to stand out when you're doing something that no one else is doing in a particular niche! 

Key takeaway: If your idea is so specific that it makes you a little uncomfortable, that's probably a good thing.

There's A Good Reason I'm My Own Boss

I'm kind of a control freak. I prefer being in charge of (most) things because I know I'm picky about the way they get done. So it's probably no surprise I was never big into team sports (I was a competitive swimmer) or group projects (my “less-motivated” friends loved being on my team for group projects because they knew I would do all the work and just put their names on it).

When it comes to launching, I like to get a LOT done in a short amount of time. My schedule is a bit manic and I wouldn't impose it on anyone else. It wouldn't be fair. While I'm not great at delegating, I'm working on it. I love my VA but we basically just check in once a month so it's not like we're actively communicating all the time. And my solo webinars have all been more profitable than my joint webinars. It's not that I can't play well with others, but I'm just more comfortable working on my on terms. And that's ok.

Key takeaway: The “best” way to launch something is the way that works for you.

There's always something to improve or try differently the next time and I don't really think there's such a thing as a “perfect” launch.Click To Tweet

FOMO Is A Big Motivator

I've done both open/close cart launches and evergreen launches. I've experimented with price increases, bonuses, upsells, downsells, bundles, etc. but urgency has been the biggest motivator for generating sales. Meaning EVERY time I send an email about an offer ending soon, I get sales. FOMO is real y'all. People don't like to miss out.

Limited time offers are your friend, but that doesn't mean you constantly have to have “sales” or discount your products / services – on the flip side, you can always give MORE value for a limited time by offering a bonus.

Key takeaway: Wish you were getting more sales right NOW? Launch a time sensitive offer.

It's Easier To Sell To Your Existing Audience Than To Find A New One

There are a lot of articles (and a few well-known courses) out there that will tell you that you don't have to grow your audience before you launch, because you can launch with a small audience and/or grow your audience while you plan your launch. I agree to an extent (you gotta start somewhere) BUT, from my experience it's easier to create something that your existing audience already wants, rather than find a new audience to buy the thing you want to create. For my first course – I chose my course idea before I had a targeted audience (don't do this). Even though I had over 1,000 people on my email list when I launched, but only about 300 were really interested in the course. I felt like I had to spend a lot of time trying to convince people WHY they would benefit from it, and in the end it didn't convert as well as well as I wanted.

For my most recent launch – I had quadrupled the size of my email list, and I also realized that I had over 1,000 people interested in a specific product, so I created a membership based on something that I already knew people wanted. I didn't need to convince people it was good idea, because they already wanted what I was selling. It was a much easier (and more profitable) launch. 

Key takeaway: Give your audience want they want, not what you think they need.

List Building + Nurturing Is Sooo Important (So Important)

Speaking of email lists, it's worth repeating that while you can launch with a small audience (especially if they are SUPER engaged), list building is soooo important if you want to sell digital products and especially if you want to sell evergreen products. If you want to sell (and keep selling), you need to keep growing your list + converting more subscribers into customers. So if your list growth is stagnant, it taps out. BUT a bigger list isn't necessarily better IF it's not targeted. Meaning if 2,500 people opt in to your email list because you gave away free stock photos, and then you try to sell them a ecourse on Facebook ads – its probably not going to convert very well. So make sure your opt-ins relate to your paid products (or services)!

Key takeaway: Focus on growing your email list if you want passive income! 

What's Next

So those are a few of the key things I've learned from 4 launches in 3 months – though there could easily be a part 2 of this post with even more of the technical lessons I learned from launching (comment if that's something you'd want to see)! Now that the year is halfway over, I've been re-assessing where my business is and where I want it to be at the end of 2016 so I can plan for the next few months. Even though I keep track of things month-to-month, it's been helpful to take a step back and look at my overall goals for the year.

If you've launched digital products, can you relate to any of these lessons? And if you're thinking about launching – what questions do you have?!