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5 Tips to Maximize Productivity and Profitability

5 tips to maximize productivity and profitability for busy entrepreneurs

This post contains affiliate links for tools 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. 

5 tips to maximize productivity and profitability

If you’re anything like me, you’ve probably got a lot of things going on in your life. Maybe you’re still trying to balance a 9-5 job with a 5-9 side hustle. Maybe you’re in school and drowning in homework or you have kids who need constant attention or you have a busy travel schedule… whatever you have going on – I feel ya! So today I’m sharing 5 tips to maximize productivity and profitability – so you can spend less time working and more time living!

It’s easy to feel overwhelmed by #allthethings but I HATE, HATE, REALLY HATE hearing the excuse “I don’t have time for that” when it comes to things in your business.

If you don’t MAKE time for your business, then you don’t have a business.

Whether you have 5 hours a week or 50 hours a week to work on your business, you can make time for the things you really NEED to do, but you have to FOCUS!

I run 3 businesses working 3 weeks a month. It’s not always easy and there are definitely days or weeks when I feel like I have too much on my plate, but I make it work because I love what I do (and honestly I really love working… but I know it’s not healthy to be working all the time)!

When you have limited time to work, you HAVE to use that time productively. But busy does not equal productive. You can embrace the pomodoro method and turn off notifications and bullet journal your way into thinking that you’re being productive, but if your productivity does not translate into profitability, then you’re doing it wrong.

5 tips to maximize productivity and profitability

Prioritize

I feel insanely strongly about prioritizing. If you don’t know your priorities, you waste a ton of time trying to figure what to do. You also waste time on tasks that aren’t really that important. And you probably spend a stupid amount of time thinking about #allthethings you need to do because you haven’t narrowed down your insane to do list to the few priorities that actually matter.

If you’re thinking ok, great but how do I actually figure out what my priorities are? Or how do I make time to focus on them? Here are a few things that work for me:

Focus on one income stream at a time. Most entrepreneurs have a bunch of different things going on. Maybe you have a few different services.. or you have one on one services as well as sell digital products.. or you have a membership and a shop and you’re also trying to make income from affiliates.. or all of the above.. I get it. Back in 2016 I was consulting and launching courses and selling digital products and when I finally quit trying to do everything at once I doubled my income by focusing on one thing – the Styled Stock Society. That doesn’t mean it’s my only income stream (don’t put all your eggs in one basket and all that), but if you’re being pulled in too many different directions you’re probably not doing anything as best as you can, so I would say – take a step back, and prioritize one income stream at a time. Focus on getting booked out with one on one clients THEN think about launching that course. Focus on optimizing your online shop to the point that you have a steady stream of daily customers THEN think about creating that subscription program. Just focus on one thing at a time!

Focus on the marketing channels that convert. My clients and customers find me mainly through Pinterest + Instagram so I spend ZERO time on Facebook and Twitter. The only reason my Facebook and Twitter are even active is automation (and a bit of outsourcing) but really, it’s a waste of my time to spend time on marketing that doesn’t really matter. My highest converting marketing channel is my email list so I commit to emailing my subscribers regularly. If I miss a few days posting on Instagram or take a break from blogging, it’s not the end of the world because I know that I’m still reaching my audience through emails. I don’t care if everyone is telling you that you should to be doing Facebook Lives or you should have a Youtube channel or you should start a podcast – you SHOULDN’T be spending time on marketing that isn’t converting!

Focus on 2-3 priority tasks each day and get them done first. I’m the type of person who lives for my to-do list but the fastest way to get me feeling overwhelmed is seeing #allthethings that I need to do. My priority tasks are things that are essential to my business and typically take 1-3 hours to complete. For me, priority tasks are things like shooting Styled Stock Society collections, editing client photos, or writing email newsletters. Priority tasks are NOT things like making quick website edits, responding to non-urgent emails, or checking social media notifications. Priority tasks get done first. Period. If that means I don’t get to responding to a non-urgent email for days #sorrynotsorry

Systemize

Anything you do on a regular basis should be systemized. When you have systems for things, you don’t waste time thinking about “what’s next” because you always know. When you have systems, you create a more streamlined experience for yourself but also your clients / customers. Systems could be anything from how you publish new blog posts to how you onboard new clients to how you create social media graphics to how you categorize + respond to emails.

There are a lot of ways to document and implement your systems, but most of my systems are mapped out in Asana so I can easily duplicate workflows or share templates with my team.

Having systems in place also makes it easier to figure out where you can automate work or outsource it to someone else – which brings me to…

Automate

If you aren’t using any sort of automation in your business I guarantee you are wasting time! You cannot (and should not) do everything yourself, so taking advantage of the tools that can help you run your business on autopilot should be a no brainer. A few things I automate in my business –

I automate Twitter / Facebook posts using SmarterQueue* (just set up your social posts once and they can recycle automatically!)

I automate pinning with BoardBooster* (I schedule new posts via Tailwind*, but BoardBooster’s looping feature makes it super easy to pin on autopilot)

I automate a series of emails to anyone who downloads my free stock photos so they are introduced to the Styled Stock Society

I automate a series of emails (using Convertkit*) to anyone who signs up as an SSS affiliate so they get follow-up resources

I automate an initial response to any support requests we receive so that customers know what to expect (+ are also directed to our FAQ page where they might get answers even quicker!)

Most of the tools I use to automate in my business involve paying a small monthly fee (and if you click on any of the * links above, I may earn a small commission), but the amount of time I save by automating parts of my business is worth WAYYY MORE than the price I pay!

Outsource:

As a self-proclaimed control freak, outsourcing has probably been the hardest thing for me to do on this list. But here’s the thing – you are not the best at everything. There are certain things in your business that someone else can do better / faster / more efficiently – so why are you wasting your time trying to do them? There are also things you probably HATE doing – but someone else actually likes doing it. I love numbers but I still hate doing accounting. I personally I also hate doing a lot of “chores” so I outsource a lot of things in my personal life (cooking, cleaning, laundry, grocery shopping, etc.) Then there are probably a bunch of tasks that you can do and you don’t mind doing… but they’re just not the best use of your time. These are the the types of things that have been hardest for me to delegate (because again, I’m kind of a control freak), but honesty, I just know that for me, outsourcing things like copywriting / creating blog post graphics / scheduling social media allows me to focus on other things that I really don’t trust other people to do.

#realtalk I know that if I only want to work 3 weeks per month, there’s no way I have time to do it all. Overall, I outsource around 20 hours of work a month to other people, but if I tried to do everything that they do myself, I would probably be spending an additional 30-40 hours working because I’d be doing things I wasn’t good at and/or things I didn’t enjoy doing!

From a profitability standpoint, everything I outsource is worth my time. If my time is worth $300/hour and my VA charges $40/hour for a task that would take me 2 hours to do (yet it only takes her 45 minutes because she actually enjoys doing it), then it obviously makes sense to outsource it… but only if I’m using the time I “saved” in a productive way!

Batching

Last but not least… for all those things you are actually doing yourself and not automating / outsourcing, doing them in batches can save you a ton of time. You know how when you switch from one task to another it takes you a bit of time to get “in the zone” – when you batch your tasks you don’t have to waste time getting in the zone because you STAY in the zone. You don’t bake 1 cookie every time you want a cookie, right?! You do all the prep work for a whole batch of cookies and then make them at once because it would be silly to put in all the work for ONE FREAKING COOKIE (and who actually eats only one cookie?!) – the same idea can be applied to things in your business. Instead of making 1 blog post graphic, plan your blog posts for the month and create all your graphics at once. Instead of pinning whenever you can squeeze in time, spend an hour scheduling all of your pins for the entire month (this is totally possible)! Instead of taking a photo for Instagram every day, batch your photos once a month so you always have something to post (or ya know, you could save even more time and just buy stock photos ;)

So those are my tips to maximize productivity and profitability so you can spend less time working and more time living. Because I didn’t start my business so I could work a million hours and I’m guessing you didn’t either! Do you have other tips for maximizing productivity + profitability? Share in the comments!

Tools I use for productivity: SmarterQueue* (get a free 30 day trial!), BoardBooster* (schedule your first 500 pins for free!), Tailwind* (schedule a whole month of pins for free!), Asana (it’s free!), Convertkit* (try it free for 14 days!)

2018 Goals + Why I Rebranded

2018 goals + why I rebranded from wonderfelle to my name.

If you’ve followed me for awhile, you might have noticed a few changes recently…

I rebranded!

In case you didn’t know, my name is Elle Drouin (you might know me as “Elle from wonderfelle”) and while I’ve owned this domain for years, I have sort of been “hiding” behind the wonderfelle brand.

For 2018, my word is VISIBILITY.

I feel like I’ve done a “good” job at growing my business, but honestly, most of my marketing has been pretty passive – I’m much more comfortable behind my computer screen or behind a camera, but I think that more personal connection, more active marketing, and more VISIBILITY overall can only lead to being able to help more people through my business (and also more revenue).

“wonderfelle world” was actually the name of my (unrelated) blog many years ago, so when I started my business I just kept the first part of the name and turned it into wonderfelle MEDIA. As my business has evolved, I felt like there are a few different entities (and a few different websites) but none of them were really “me” – I originally thought my business could evolve into more of an agency model so naming it after something other than myself made sense, but after launching the Styled Stock Society and growing the Mochi and the City brands, I felt like my personal brand was sort of lost in the mix…

Since this is my main website, I decided to rebrand to make it a better representation of well, me!

Regardless of how my business shifts in the future, I think that this change makes the most sense for me moving forward. Whether I’m styling / photographing / consulting or doing something totally different down the line, my name isn’t going to change!

So here’s a quick rundown of updates / where you can find me online / what to expect in the future – 

Elle Drouin

This will be my main website and where you can find more information about how we can work together. I’ll continue to share business / marketing tips on my blog as well as more behind the scenes lessons from my own businesses.

Any old links should be redirecting to the new site, but if you come across any links that aren’t working, let us know and we’ll make sure they are updated!

You can get in touch with me directly via elle(at)elledrouin.com + follow along on Instagram, Pinterest, Twitter, and Facebook (note that my handles are all now @elledrouin instead of @wonderfelle)!

Styled Stock Society

The Styled Stock Society has become more of it’s own sub-brand with a separate website and a (new!) separate Instagram where I’ll be sharing more sneak peeks at Styled Stock Society collections as well as behind the scenes from our shoots. Next month we’ll also be launching the Styled Stock Society blog where we’ll be sharing branding and photography tips so stay tuned for that!

For customer support or questions about the Styled Stock Society – please email support(at)styledstocksociety.com and a team member will be in touch.

Mochi and the City 

And last but not least, I have big plans for growing Mochi’s brand in 2018 – if you’re not already familiar, Mochi is my 3 year old maltipoo pup and she’s kinda famous on Instagram. Next month we’re working on rebranding HER website, launching the Mochi and the City guide to NYC, and our first physical products!

If you’re interested in collaborating with Mochi, feel free to reach out to us at mochiandthecity(at)gmail.com (if you think it’s weird that she has her own email, you’d probably be surprised to know she also has her own phone too)!

2018 goals

I have a mix of professional and personal goals because, to be honest, they are often intertwined for me! I’ve built my business intentionally to enjoy certain freedoms (like being able to work wherever/whenever), but that also means planning work around life and vice versa (like planning trips around brand collaborations). These are a few of my “bigger” goals for the year that will guide what I focus on and how I manage my time, but I tend to break things down quarter by quarter to actually get things done!

1) As a mentioned before, my word of the year is visibility – so to quantify the ways in which I aim to be more visible, my visibility goals are 12 podcast interviews, 6 speaking engagements, and literally being visible (showing my face) on Instagram stories 100 times this year. Just typing that out makes me uncomfortable, but I’m pretty sure pushing myself out of my comfort zone is a good thing!

2) I have an income goal in mind, but rather than sharing that, I think it’s more important to focus on the things that I’m doing to actually achieve that goal. One of the things that has had the biggest impact on growing my income is growing my email list, so my goal for 2018 is 40,000 email subscribers. I still have some planning to do in terms of mapping out where all these new subscribers are coming from, but I am confident that if I put in the effort, this is a reasonable goal for the year!

3) This year I also want to commit to only working 3 weeks per month. Last fall I started working fewer days and intentionally taking a week or so “off” to travel each month, and I’ve really loved having that time away from work. For me, this makes more sense than taking Fridays off or taking a longer vacation a few times a year, but I am not always great about “not working” while I’m traveling, so I do want to make sure that I’m scheduling in non-working days too. I find that when I have some time for myself, I’m more inspired and more motivated on the days that I do work, so I guess focusing more on self-care is tied into this goal as well!

4) On a related note, this year I want to take at least 8 trips + 4 staycations. I’m not differentiating between work / personal trips because they are usually a mix of both, but I really want to take advantage of having the flexibility to work from wherever as well as do more travel partnerships with Mochi.

5) Last but not least, I ‘d want to a collaborate with other businesses at least once a quarter. When I say collaborate, I’m thinking larger scale collaborations like custom Styled Stock Society collections or joint venture partnerships that are more than just doing a webinar or an Instagram story takeover. I actually just added this to my list of goals so I have no specific ideas in mind yet – so if you’re reading this and want to collab, get in touch!

I’d love to hear your goals for the year as well – let me know in the comments!

How to Maximize Your Holiday Sale Revenue

Tips on how to maximize the revenue from your holiday sales - from promotion to affiliates to leveraging FOMO, make the most out of your holiday promotions with these strategies!

It’s the most wonderful SALE time of the year.

You might have planned a black friday / cyber monday / pre-holiday / post-holiday sale in hopes of giving your customers a treat – and let’s be real – also in hopes of ending the year with more money in the bank!

But sometimes sales don’t go as well as you’d hoped. You put the offer out into the world thinking people are DEFINITELY going to take advantage of it… and then crickets. Or maybe you get a couple more orders than normal, but it’s not the outcome you had hoped for.

Some people might tell you to not run sales / not discount whatever you are selling….

I am not one of those people.

I think sales or special promotions can be a great way to boost your revenue / get rid of excess inventory / incentivize your customers to take action… but there’s more to a sale than creating a discount code and sending an email or posting about it on social media.

In the past I’ve run Black Friday / Cyber Monday sales on physical products, digital products, and online courses and November / December are usually my highest earning income months of the year! This year was was a bit exceptional in that I had my biggest revenue driving sale ever… I earned what would be equal to about 2 months of my “normal” recurring income in just 1 weekend – without launching anything new! 

Ok #RealTalk – the week before Thanksgiving I ended up getting super sick and having about 5 million tech issues. I didn’t do as much as I wanted to do to prep for my sales, and I definitely ended up working on Thanksgiving Day for a few hours… but overall I’m happy with the way things went. In 4 days, I ended up earning almost 3x more than my original sales goal, so I’ve done some reflecting on what I did right / what I could have done better because you best believe I’m going to set even higher goals for the next holiday sale season!

Tips to maximize your holiday sale revenue (and what not to do)! 

1) Know your customers 

For a sale to be effective, you have to know what your customers want – is it a % off discount, free shipping, a value-based offer like a bundle or bonus, etc? Don’t just assume that the offer you want to make is the one that people want… if you’ve run sales or promotions in the past, make sure you’re keeping track of which ones were more successful than others. If you’re not sure what your customers want, ask them. Run customer surveys or Instagram polls or straight up just ASK people would they would prefer. Just because a particular sale worked well for another business doesn’t mean it will work for you!

On that note, I’m also going to say that while doing what has worked before is generally a good idea… sometimes trying something new is even better. This year I wanted to do a promotion with a $199 price point, but I knew my audience is more likely to buy something when the price point is under $100 – so I tried 2 different sales. Ultimately the $199 sale resulted in more revenue (even though the total number of sales was lower) because the price point was significantly higher! BUT I also knew that a lot of my customers didn’t like paying recurring fees so offering a 1 time payment for a lifetime membership was something that appealed to them!

2) Build up excitement

Similar to how brands build excitement before a big launch, you can built anticipation around your sales. Letting your audience know ahead of time that there will be a sale can help them plan ahead from both a time and budget perspective, and it also gives them time to think about what they want to buy. You can share the specific details of your sale or keep them a mystery, but either way, letting your customers know that something is coming helps them to be better prepared!

For my cyber weekend sales, I started “teasing” my audience about 7-10 days ahead of time to let them know that I would be running special promotions for black friday / cyber monday. This can also help to reduce the number of people who make purchases right before a sale period and then ask for price adjustments (whether you allow price adjustments or not, those customer service hours are precious during a sale, so do what you can to reduce them)!

3) Arm your affiliates

If you have affiliates or brand ambassadors (or even just business besties who love to share the word), it’s also a good idea to let them know ahead of time if you are running a sale so that they have time to plan for any promotion they want to do. I emailed my affiliates about a week before my cyber weekend sales letting them know the sale details as well as providing graphics that they could use to make their lives easier. I also sent a reminder the day before Thanksgiving knowing that it was a busy week for a lot of people, and honestly, I would have sent another reminder after the sales had gone live… but I totally forgot!

4) Schedule social posts in advance

Assuming you’re sharing about your sale on social media, try to schedule as many of your posts in advance as you can. While a sale is happening you’re probably getting more orders / questions / etc. than usual, and if you’re also trying to enjoy some of holidays yourself, it can be very overwhelming! Instead of trying to remember to post on Instagram between servings of turkey and pie, take some time to create and schedule your social posts in advance so that you aren’t scrambling during the sale (or forgetting to share completely)!

Remember those graphics I created for my affiliates to use to promote the sale? Well I used them for myself too! This saved a ton of time and also just made it easier for all of my sales visuals to look cohesive no matter who was sharing them!

5) Optimize your website for conversions

Not everyone is going to come to your website because they saw a sale promo on social media or clicked through an email where you shared in the sale info. To maximize conversions during your sale, make sure your website is optimized so that new visitors know of any promotions going on. That might mean adding a “sticky” bar at the top of every page (I use Sumo for this), updating your website graphics, or adding promo code details near any “buy now” buttons.

6) Make it easy for customers to ask questions

If you find that a lot of people are coming to your sales pages but not buying, it might be because they have unanswered questions and aren’t ready to make a purchase. Make it easy for customers to get their questions answered by either directing them to a contact form or FAQ page or using a support chat tool like Drift or Pure Chat to easily answer customer questions when they’re on your sales page.

Halfway through my cyber weekend sale weekend, I added a chat option using Drift (for free!) and had a few potential customers who were on the fence get their questions answered in real time!

7) Send more emails than you’re comfortable with

If you’re using email marketing during a busy sale season like black friday / cyber monday / any major sales holiday, you have to remember that everyone’s inboxes are overflowing with emails. People see your emails and don’t open them because they are busy / they get distracted / they forget / etc. so if you’re just sending a single email to tell people about your sale… you’re missing out on potential sales from the majority of your audience! You may feel like it’s annoying to send multiple emails, but the truth is that most people are not seeing every single email – and the people that get annoyed and unsubscribe were probably never going to buy from you anyway!

During my 4 day sale period I sent 6 emails and 2 of those emails I actually re-sent to anyone who hadn’t opened them within 12 hours… so that’s basically 2 emails a day over a 4 day period. Yes, that seems like a lot. Yes, it sort of made me uncomfortable. Yes, I had a bunch of people unsubscribe (less than 1% of subscribers overall). But most importantly, every single time I sent an email, I got a new influx of sales. 

8) Remember FOMO is real

Fact: people don’t like missing out on a deal. Every time I run a sale, I get emails after the promotion ends from people who missed out who BEG to get the discount. Using countdown timers like Motion Mail can help customers visualize how much (or how little) time they have left – there’s a reason a lot of brands use countdown timers – they work! FOMO is real and you are not “taking advantage of” your customers by reminding them that your offer expires.. so they need to act NOW!

So those are my 8 tips for maximizing holiday sale revenue – what other tips do you have for increasing conversions during a sale?!