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5 Reasons You Should Create A Subscription-Based Offer

5 reasons you should create a subscription based businessLike most creative entrepreneurs, I started my business by freelancing / offering one-to-one services. But over time I realized that my time – and more importantly, my income – was limited. I wanted to leverage my time by creating something once and then selling it over and over again. Back in 2016, it seemed like “everyone” was creating online courses, so I did too. And from a revenue standpoint, it was great! I put a ton of work into creating and launching courses, marketed the hell out of them, and had huge-for-me five figure launches. And I did it over and over again earning more $$$ each time. I learned a lot of things from 4 back-to-back launches in 3 months, but the most important thing I learned was probably that I didn't really want to run online courses (more on that below). What I really wanted was recurring revenue. And while courses could have been the way to achieve that, I realized creating a subscription-based offer would probably be easier, and thus, the Styled Stock Society was born. Creating a subscription-based offer was literally the thing that changed my business and enabled me to work fewer hours while earning a more consistent recurring revenue so if that's something you're craving in YOUR business, here are 5 reasons you should create a subscription-based offer.

5 Reasons You Should Create A Subscription-Based Offer

You want recurring revenue

This is literally the reason I started my subscription-based business. In 2016 I was consulting, working with individual clients, and also launching online courses. I liked the idea of courses because my revenue wasn't tied to the hours I worked (unlike when I was working with clients), but I hated that I felt like constantly launching courses was exhausting – I was spending a TON of time creating all of the content for my courses and even though all my work paid off, I hated the extreme highs (launching = $$$) and lows (that time in between launches when I thought OMG I need to create something else so I can launch again). Part of my issue was that, at the time, I hadn't figured out evergreen sales funnels yet – but a bigger part was just knowing that there had to be some EASIER way to earn leveraged income on a recurring basis.

Creating a subscription-based offer has been the easiest thing I've done to create recurring revenue in my business. Essentially you just need to be able to solve a problem for a group of people on a consistent, recurring basis. I subscribe to a number of different tools like Tailwind, SmarterQueue, and Planoly that help me run my business more efficiently. I subscribe to Netflix because it enables me to binge watch tv and movies (and that basically describes my Friday nights). And one of the best presents I've ever received was a weekly flower subscription (because getting fresh flowers delivered every week was literally the gift that kept on giving)! There are a ton of different types of subscription-based businesses out there who are probably taking YOUR money every month, but have you ever thought of creating your own??

You want to help more people

There will (hopefully) come a time in your business when you're booked out with one-to-one clients. (Yay! This is a great thing!) But you'll also start to think about what to do when people continue to want to hire you for your services – should you start a waiting list? Should you raise your prices? Should you hire subcontractors? Maybe any or all of the above…

Or maybe, it's time to think about creating a subscription-based offer. Creating an offer where you provide a simplified version of your services on a 1-to-many basis can be a great way to create leveraged income (meaning you do the work once and get paid repeatedly for it). Just because your time is maxed out, that doesn't mean your income has to be!

Creating a subscription-based offer was literally the thing that changed my business and enabled me to work fewer hours while earning a more consistent recurring revenue. Here's why YOU might want to create a subscription-based offer too!Click To Tweet

You love creating content

#realtalk – If you don't love creating content – creating a subscription-based offer is probably not for you. If you want to continue to provide value to your subscribers, that means you're going to need to be creating “stuff” for them on a regular basis. Whether that's templates, videos, courses, workshops, photos, etc. – remember that recurring revenue also comes with a recurring obligation to create content.

Personally, I LOVE creating content. I didn't love creating courses (mainly because creating videos drained me), but I do love planning and creating other types of content. Back when I was consulting full time, I knew I wanted to pivot my business because I missed creating content (and I hated talking to people all day long). If you're the type of person who always has new ideas and wants to create new things while helping more people – a subscription-based offer is perfect for you! But if you want to be able to just create something once and try to sell it over and over again via an evergreen funnel, you might want to create a single digital product instead of a subscription-based offer.

You want more creative freedom

When you're working with clients one-on-one, your #1 job is to make your clients happy. Sometimes that means designing / writing / photographing / creating / etc. things that aren't exactly your favorite thing. Sometimes the things your clients love aren't the things that YOU love… but you have to do them anyway. But when it comes to creating a subscription based offer, you shouldn't be trying to make everyone happy.

There's creative freedom that comes with running a one-to-many type business. When I create collections for my Styled Stock Society members, I get to do whatever I want. Of course, I'm always trying to take into consideration what my members request (I ask for feedback and run member surveys twice a year) – but ultimately, I have the creative freedom to create the images that I want to create.

You want to streamline your business

Last but not least, you might want to create a subscription-based offer – specifically, a membership site – if you want to streamline your business. If you have lots of ideas and want to create different courses / trainings / etc. then it may be confusing for your audience. By housing all of your training under a single membership site, you can streamline your marketing by promoting a single offer (your membership) while still offering a variety of resources. 

12 Subscription Ideas for Online Business Owners

If you're thinking “I totally want to create a subscription-based offer for MY business now!” but aren't sure what to create, here are a few ideas for ya:

If you're a consultant / coach / strategist / educator, you could create a subscription around…

  • Pre-recorded video / audio trainings
  • Monthly group calls
  • Live webinars / workshops
  • Workbooks with helpful prompts to achieve specific results
  • Set “office hours” where you provide personalized advice
  • A membership community

If you're a graphic designer, you could create a subscription around…

  • Templates for ebooks, content upgrade pdfs, or other opt-ins
  • Printables like daily / weekly / monthly planning sheets, to-do lists, check lists, etc.
  • Pre-made social media graphics

If you're a photographer, you could create a subscription around…

  • Stock photos
  • Presets
  • Photography lessons / tutorials

Create Your Subscription-Based Offer

Ready to create your subscription-based offer? The most important step is validating your idea. Most subscription businesses fail because people don't take time to really understand their market and validate their idea! Don't waste your time creating something before you KNOW it's something that your audience wants. Grab my guide to validating your subscription-based offer idea below!

5 Questions to Ask Yourself Before You Pivot Your Business

5 questions to ask yourself before pivoting your business - tips for entrepreneurs and small business owners who are ready for the next step in their business.

Have you ever been at a place in your business when you felt like you needed to change? Maybe you're constantly stressed out, maybe you're not making enough money, maybe you just feel called to do something different! If yes, you need to use these five questions to ask yourself before your pivot your business.

I've been there, done that. Multiple times.

Sometimes, it's an easy decision. But more often than not, pivoting your business is more complicated than it seems. You can't just decide one day to change things up and leave your current customers / clients behind in the dust…

When it may be time to pivot

It may be time to pivot when you're not getting the results you want – maybe you've reached a plateau, or worse, your sales have been declining.

It may be time to pivot when you're no longer passionate about what you've been doing and you want to do something different.

It may be time to pivot when you're regularly dealing with burnout, stress, anxiety, or other physical / mental / emotional issues that are affecting your quality of life.

It may be time to pivot when your audience has grown / changed and you can better serve them in a different way.

There are a lot of reasons why it may be time to pivot your business – and knowing when it's time can make a huge difference in how happy / how successful / how stressed you are as a business owner.

How do you know when it's the “right” time – unfortunately there's no universal answer to that, but if you've been thinking about making a change, changes are… it's already the right time. I've never regretted pivoting in business or in life… but I have regretted not pivoting sooner!

5 questions to ask yourself before you pivot your business

If you're not quite sure if it's the right time to pivot your business OR you are ready to pivot but you're not sure what's next – these 5 questions can help you figure things out –

What do I really enjoy / not enjoy doing (and why)?

One of my priorities as a business owner is doing things that make ME happy. I'm guessing you started your business for some kind of freedom – whether you wanted to create your own hours or choose your own clients or work from wherever… but along the way, you might have fallen into the trap of doing things you don't really love doing – just because other people were willing to pay you for them! #beentheredonethat

I was totally guilty of this in my first year of business. I offered Instagram consulting sessions and then people would ask if I could just manage their Instagram for them… so I did. But one of the reasons I started my business was to get away from the day-to-day social media management that I was doing at my previous job, so I totally did NOT want to do this! I said yes – partially because I knew I COULD do it, but mostly because I didn't want to turn down potential clients, but eventually I realized how much I didn't really enjoy this part of my business and I stopped doing it.

If you're unhappy in your business, sit down and make a list of the things that you actually enjoy doing and the things that you don't enjoy doing, then figure out if you can eliminate, automate, or outsource the things that you hate so you can focus on doing what you love!

What are people actually paying me for?

Ok, #realtalk – if you're offering services that no one is hiring you for or selling products that no one is buying, it might be time to pivot. On the flip side, if a certain revenue stream is doing better than the others, you might want to focus on that rather than #allthethings (seriously, don't do #allthethings).

One of the reasons I quit teaching online courses at the end of 2016 is that my revenue from the Styled Stock Society was growing much faster and I knew that if I put more effort into that part of my business I would actually be happier (and more profitable).

Do the things that make you happy but also do the things that actually put money in your bank account! 

What do I want to be doing (that I’m not already)?

Sometimes pivoting is driven by a desire to do something different – and that's a totally a valid reason. But just because you want to do something different, that doesn't mean that it's a a “better” option. If you think you want to start doing something different, it's important to do market research to make sure that your new offer is something that people actually want. Assuming you have current clients / customers or any type of community, survey them to see if they would be interested in it. It's much easier to sell something to your existing audience than to find an entirely new audience.

if you want to pivot in a completely different direction (where your new target audience would have no overlap with your current audience), then you still need to do your research but you'll have to look outside your current clients / customers. Tap into other communities where your new target audience might hang out and make sure you're connecting with at least a few people who can verify that there's a need for the new product or service that you want to offer.

Either way, if you're pivoting in a new direction, I definitely recommend beta testing or pre-launching your offer to get feedback and validation before you go all in. I was NOT a photographer when I launched the Styled Stock Society, but I knew it was something I wanted to try, so I emailed my existing audience with a pre-launch offer to validate interest before I ever took a single photo or created a sales page for the SSS. You definitely don't have to have everything figured out before you put it out into the world to see if people are interested!

How can I better serve my audience?

In certain cases, it may be time to pivot because of changes in your audience's needs. This is something that I've especially seen over time – when you've been in business for a while, YOU have changed so it shouldn't be a surprise that your audience has changed too! If you think back to what your needs were 2/3 years ago, they are probably different now. For example, most of the Styled Stock Society members are 0-2 years into their business and can't afford custom photography whereas my custom photography clients are typically more established and have the budget to hire me for custom work.

You may find that you're audience wants more from you or you may find that your audience needs help with step one (when you were focused on helping them with step 2). I've heard from many of my web design friends that often when clients come to them for new websites, they actually need help with their brand strategy before diving into any brand design work. Or maybe your audience has grown so much that it makes more sense to transition from a one-to-one model to a one-to-many business model in order to be able to help more people – that's a great “problem” to have!

I can't state it enough – surveying your audience is SO important – make sure you're doing what YOU want but also giving them what they want!

What do I need to let go of in order to move forward?

Last but not least, unless you have tons of free time on your hands, chances are you're going to have to let go of something to move forward in a new direction. Whether you plan to stop offering a service in order to launch a new one or you scale back some other part of your business to allow for new growth, make sure you're planning for the new time you'll be investing in the pivot.

When I started to focus on styling + photography, I stopped taking on new consulting clients. I was willing to take a “pay cut” in one area of my business knowing that I would have more time to dedicate to growing something else – and that has definitely paid off! That doesn't mean that I will never take on another consulting client again (although I might not!) – but when I was first making the change in my business, I knew that I needed to spend less time on something in order to move forward.

Ready to pivot your business?

Take a few minutes to answer these questions for yourself – or, if you've successfully pivoted in the past, comment with any other tips! Styled Stock Society by Elle Drouin - free feminine stock photos

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…

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.Click To Tweet

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 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!

SmarterQueue - evergreen social media scheduling tool

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!

SmarterQueue - evergreen social media scheduling tool

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

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