BUSINESS STRATEGY

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?! 

3 Tips To Keep Your Business On Track When You Get “Too Busy”

3 tips to keep your business on track when you're too busy. Automate, delegate + prioritize to focus on the things that matter. BONUS download of 10 free feminine stock photos to help you save time!

I was 100% not prepared for March. I told myself I had a “plan” but in reality, what I had was a really, REALLY long “to do list” and very little strategy in place. It can be hard to keep your business on track. So needless to say, I’m glad April is here because I need a breath of fresh air. Like literally. I did not leave my apartment for 6 entire days because I was buried in work.

Moral of the story: don’t be like me. As I wrapped up some projects this week, I knew I wanted to get my sh*t together before the new month so I’m better prepared for April. I’ve always been a planner but I’ve found that as a business owner, sometimes it’s honestly just HARD to plan for everything. New opportunities come up when you least expect it. Great ideas sometimes turn into bad ideas. 2 hour projects can turn into 10 hour projects. If you’re not building in a cushion for your workflow, you’re always going going going. (Note to self: build in more cushion)

While you may not be able to prepare for everything, you can prepare for some things. It’s easy to let the “little things” slip through the cracks – but planning ahead can make your life SO MUCH easier. As I prepped for April I knew that even though it will be a little less crazy, I still need to make sure I have systems in place to make things happen. So here are 3 tips to keep your business on track when you get “too busy” to  eat / sleep / leave your home like a real human being.

Tailwind - best Pinterest scheduler for bloggers

AUTOMATE 

I’m not really sure what the world was like before technology, and I’m pretty thankful for that. For those of us that don’t have time to be on social media all day (that would be everyone, right?), scheduling tools are the best thing ever. I use SmarterQueueTailwindIFTTT, and ConvertKit to schedule / automate a lot of my social media and email marketing which is SO helpful to keep things going when you get busy with work, life, and the unexpected.

Obviously these things require some up front work to run smoothly, but I do find that it’s much easier to spend a few hours scheduling things out in advance rather than trying to keep up with doing ALL the things every single day. One of the things I didn’t do in March was schedule my Instagram posts in advance, so unfortunately I went silent on the platform for almost a whole week! I was still posting for Mochi and my other accounts, but @wonderfelle didn’t get a lot of love. I spent a couple of hours taking photos yesterday so I’m better prepared for next month, but I honestly took too many – so if you want 20 free, feminine stock photos – you’re in luck! 

I know a lot of people are hesitant to invest in support, but if you really want to grow your business, there's no way you can do ALL the things. You just can't. People don't build empires on their own.Click To Tweet

DELEGATE

Automation is definitely a time saver, but if you can actually delegate business (or personal) tasks, that’s even better. I know a lot of people are hesitant to invest in support, but if you really want to grow your business, there’s no way you can do ALL the things. You just can’t. People don’t build empires on their own. I have a virtual assistant who helps with design, a virtual assistant who helps with social media, and honestly most days, I feel like I could hire someone else just to help me keep up with my dog’s emails. (Seriously, she gets a lot of emails)

PRIORITIZE

But here’s the thing – I don’t really believe in perfect balance. I don’t actively seek it, because I don’t think its a real thing. There just aren’t enough hours in a day… even if you’re Beyonce. I do think you can “have it all” – just not all at the same time. As Shonda Rhimes says, “whenever you see me somewhere succeeding in one area of my life, that almost certainly means I am failing in another area of my life.” Meaning if I’m really focused on a launch or huge client project, date night is probably not happening. And when I’m enjoying a lazy night watching Bravo tv, I’m also trying to not feel guilty that I’m not catching up on emails.

But that’s fine. That’s just how it is. 

You can’t do everything, every day – but you can prioritize so you know that at least you’re getting the most important things done every day. I use Asana for project management and I love it because it helps me plan ALL the things I need to do… but on a daily basis it can be a little overwhelming. I mainly look at my tasks using the calendar view and I think because I’m only focused on a few tasks per day and only looking at 1 week at a time, this really helps me feel less overwhelmed even when I know there are 1,000 other things I’d like to get done.

So these 3 things may seem like common sense, but if you’re feeling overwhelmed in your business, it’s a good idea to take a step back, refocus, and make sure you have the systems in place to keep things running smoothly. Last month would have gone a bit more smoothly if I had been on top of everything, but now I know better and can start April (and the second quarter, eeek!) on the right place!

What are you automating and delegating for your business? If you want to free up some of your time to focus on your work and not on your visuals, I’m sharing 20 free feminine stock photos that you can download below!

GET FREE STOCK PHOTOS IN YOUR INBOX EACH MONTH

*TERMS OF USE*  You may not sell, lease, loan, transfer, assign, or give away any image or a derivative thereof. You may not use these images as part of any products intended for sale. You may crop the images, overlay text or your product photos, but please do not otherwise alter, edit or manipulate the images. wonderfelle MEDIA remains the sole and exclusive holder of the copyright in the image. If you are using these images for commercial purposes, please credit by linking to our website or mentioning @styledstocksociety.

Legally Speaking: What You Need To Know About Collaborations

Legally Speaking: What you need to know about collaborating with bloggers + small business owners. Read this to make sure you're legally covered when it comes to creative collaborations.

I’m excited to welcome my friend Jackie to the blog today – she’s a blogger, lawyer, and dog mom to some adorable pugs. When it comes to the legal side of blogging / small business, she knows what she’s talking about – so pay attention y’all! 

One of the things I love the most about blogging is the sense of community it creates. You get to meet so many other amazing bloggers and learn from one another. It’s super awesome. But every once in awhile, just like with anything else in life, it can turn sour. Although 99.999999% of the time, working with other bloggers is an amazing beautiful sunshine-y walk in the park, there is sometimes that 0.0000000001% of the time when things are gonna go south. Fast. (These “statistics” are super made up – but you get my point!)

So what do you do when a collaboration with another blogger goes bad? Today I’m discussing what you can do. And, more importantly, what you can do BEFORE working with someone to make sure it never gets to that breaking point.

Types of blogger or business collaborations

First, let’s look at some of the ways that our blogging relationships can go bad…

  • Your joint venture webinar co-host never pays you your share of the bundle proceeds (or she pays you less)
  • Your collaborator in a webinar ends up keeping the entire slideshow presentation and claims it as her own work
  • Your co-host keeps the webinar video but won’t send you a copy for your website or course
  • You write a guest post for another blogger and she never credits you for it – she takes your work and posts to her to blog as if its her own
  • You’ve agreed to be an affiliate for someone and then they never pay you

The list goes on and on, but you can see my point. The main issues here revolve around: money and attribution. The other person has either not paid you for your fair share of the work and/or has failed to give you credit or attribution for your work and is claiming it solely as her own work product. And none of us want to be in these sorts of situations.

What do you “own”?

So first let’s discuss who owns what, when you’re working with another person. This is based on US contract and copyright laws. So, if you are international or working with someone internationally, be aware that the situation may differ.

If you are working for yourself (meaning you aren’t doing the work as part of your work for an employer), you own your own work product. In the US, you don’t need to affirmatively copyright your work in order to own the rights to it (though having an official registered copyright can give you more legal protections, but I won’t be getting into that here). So once you create something, you own the rights to copy it. (Get it, “copyright”?) If you are working for an employer, they likely own that right. But in the blogger / small business owner context, you are probably the copyright holder.

Now the waters get a little muddy when you’re working with someone else (who isn’t an employee or coworker of yours). Whatever that other person creates – she owns THAT. So now who owns that slideshow or ebook or ecourse you co-created? Well, that’s not easy to untangle! It could be argued that you each just own what you created or you both own all of it. It all depends. The law is often retrospective – if a dispute came up, a court would actually look back in time to try to figure out what happened. And this can be a hot mess. And expensive. And time consuming.

You don’t want to get to that point. Instead of letting the court be retrospective, you should be proactive TODAY.

A contract is basically an agreement that is a “meeting of the minds.” It’s where you have all the terms and information regarding your work together laid out. It’s your safeguard IN CASE something goes wrong.Click To Tweet

Protecting yourself before starting a collaboration

Once you’ve decided to work with another blogger, you should lay it all out there. You basically want to look forward into the future to try to foresee any problems that might arise. Is it possible the other person will keep the video of the webinar to sell and never give you a copy? Is it possible she will sell the slideshow or claim it as her own? Etc. Think of every scenario.

In order to safeguard against those nightmare scenarios, we want to have a very clear and detailed contract in place. Now, people get really scared when it comes to that work – contract. It sounds so big and legal and scary. It definitely can be, but it doesn’t have to be. A contract is basically an agreement that is a “meeting of the minds.” It’s where you have all the terms and information regarding your work together laid out. It’s your safeguard IN CASE something goes wrong.

A legally binding contract doesn’t need to be written on fancy paper or in a wordy document by a lawyer. It just needs to have all the info surrounding your working relationship. It doesn’t even need to be one piece of paper – an entire email thread can basically constitute a contract. So the best way to not have issues when doing collaborations is to have all the details ironed out BEFOREHAND. Creating a contract will keep you both accountable for your work and will also lay out how you’ll resolve any disputes. Here are some of the contract terms you should consider when working with someone else:

  • Division of work – who will be doing what
  • Timeframe and deadlines
  • Payment terms – who gets paid, how they get paid, when they get paid, etc.
  • Who owns the work once it’s completed – will you both be able to use the work or not
  • What to do if something bad happens – if someone can’t complete her end of the bargain, what happens?
  • Anything else you can think of that could be an issue. Seriously, anything!
  • Since I know that this can be a lot to remember, I created a quick downloadable checklist for you – use this anytime you work with other bloggers and want to make sure you’re including all the important stuff in your contract!

Collaboration-Contract-Checklist

What if a problem comes up?

Now that you have this contract in place, this should help keep you both on task. However, if an issue arises later on, the contract can save you. We all hope to never have to hire an attorney (even me and I am an attorney!), so attempt to resolve any issues directly with your collaborator. If you didn’t have anything written down (perhaps you had come up with your working arrangement via Skype or text messages that are now deleted), then it will be hard for you to say “Hey – you promised to pay me 60% and you only paid me 40%!” Nothing is in writing, so that’s going to be hard to prove.

But if you have your contract in place (which, I mentioned above can be something as casual as your series of emails), you can point that out to her. Everything is in black and white, which will hopefully quickly resolve any disputes.

Your last resort would be to contact an attorney if you can’t get resolution. Even in this situation, your contract will be a huge help since it will be something concrete instead of a “she said/she said” battle.

So there you go. The best way to avoid issues when working with other bloggers or small business owners. I’m so not a sports person, but really this is so true – the best offense is a good defense. Protect yourself before a problem arises and it should be much smoother sailing!

Collaboration-Contract-Checklist

Legal Disclaimer: I am an attorney, but I am not your attorney. The information in this article is for general informational purposes only and is not legal advice. This article does not create an attorney-client relationship. I am not liable for any losses or damages related to actions or failures to act related to the content in this article. If you need specific legal advice, consult with an attorney who specializes in your subject matter and jurisdiction.

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[one-half]ABOUT THE AUTHOR:

Jackie is an attorney and a blogger. She helps put the scary legal side of business into easy to understand terms for other bloggers and small business owners. She has built up her blog while working full time and aims to show other bloggers how they can easily do the same (it’s all about that time management!) Visit her (and her two sweet pugs) over on her blog, Jade and OakYou can also find Jackie on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and Pinterest.

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