Jun 16, 2018, updated
Sep 17, 2018
What’s the best thing about freelancing or being a digital creative/nomad?
You get to work from anywhere as long as you have wi-fi and your laptop.
But if you’re new in town, it almost feels like when you started your business. You already know what you’re doing and you have a routine down, but now you have to start from scratch in a new city.
If you’re moving to the next town over or out-of-state, it’s a planned or last-minute move, your brain is doing too much trying to remember #allthethings when all you want to think about is does that Thai food spot deliver.
If you’re looking for a guide to help you handle your personal life + freelance business, you’re in the right place, doll face.
We’re going to find out how to make connections with the locals, build a client list, and get to know what the new city has to offer.
Before you move to a new city
After you change your address and forward your mail to the new address, make sure you update all of your accounts (insurance, banks, Paypal). Tell your close friends and family your new address.
If you’re selling anything on Craigslist or letgo, make sure to put up those items ASAP. If you’re donating items, don’t wait for the last-minute to schedule a pickup. Places like Goodwill and Salvation Army need about 2 weeks to pick up your items. And save all receipts from moving expenses.
Tell your current and former clients about your move. Give them a date to get in touch just in case they need you. Outsource business and website tasks so your backend stays up and running while you’re offline.
Give yourself a break
Don’t go into hustle mode just yet. Enjoy this break and chillax for a couple of days (or a week if you can) after you’re done unpacking. And read more Self-care Tips for Solo Bosses.
While you’re on break, be down with OPP – other people’s people. Tell a friend to tell a friend and connect with other freelancers and creatives. (A great way to get referrals for work if you’re looking.)
Post on Facebook about your move. Ask around in your FB groups or join Meetup to find local peeps. Find your local Spark group on Freelancer’s Union and mingle with other business owners.
Research the area
Sign up for alerts on Yelp or Zomato to find your new favorite restaurant, nail/hair salon, or dog park.
Find a great deal on Groupon and use that discount to try something new. If you’re mobile, download Waze or Scout and go exploring.
Search Pinterest for places to go and people to see in your new city. (“places to go in [city]”). Type in your city in Instagram, Facebook, and Twitter to find out what’s poppin’ and who to follow. Find local groups on Linkedin and Facebook.
Don’t forget to bring your biz cards and leave one wherever you go. (Salons, barber shops, mom and pop shops)
For art + music lovers
Check out Ticketmaster, Last.fm, or Spotify to see when your fave artist is performing. Look up free music, art, or food festivals. Check out Spotify and type in your city to hear what your new neighbors are listening to. Search for local radio stations (“[zip code/city] + radio stations”). Or use TuneIn Radio app if you’re missing home.
Get updates from media outlets – subscribe to newspapers and newsletters or read WordPress posts from locals.
Add people, places, or things to do to your bucket list – Pinterest (secret board) or Pocket (tagged your new city so it won’t get lost in the shuffle)
Time to get to work
When you’re ready to get back to hustle mode (I seriously hope you took a break, friend), find a cozy spot to get back to work. Find inspiration here if you plan on working from home.
Or for those days you want to step out, head over to the local coffee shop or find a coworking space (The Mission/Medium).
Take a look at what the local folks or agencies in your industry are doing. You can also reach out to them and see if they need any help. ([your city] + [your title] – “Atlanta Web Developer”)
Make updates to your social media bios and popular blog posts. Update your pages and add your new location or closest major city – footer, contact, home, about page, and author bio. Read more tips on updating your website.
If you’re using WordPress, update the site description (“Ms. Guery | Atlanta Web Developer”). And if you’re using the Yoast SEO plugin, add your location to the “meta description” section.
Follow this tip by Tola Shasanya from Levo: “Whatever you do, try as much as possible to put it down, even if it’s just for the sake of posterity. You’ll appreciate looking back at it years from now!”. Use Journey app so you can look back on all the good/bad/confused moments. Plus, you can add pictures to document all of those moments.
Good luck to you in your new city. And if you’re moving to Atlanta or already here, hit me up.
Been gone for a minute, now I’m back with the jumpoff relaunch.
So I learned how to create custom themes during my #100DaysofCode challenge, and I decided to put my new skills to use by redoing my website.
For my last two themes, I used the Genesis Framework (Workstation + Twenty Seven Pro) so I wanted to keep the same minimalist style. And what you see here is the final-ish product.
I got carried away by adding a whole bunch of features I didn’t need last time when all I wanted to do was share resources and put myself out there. So I used a few of this designer’s tips and website goals for 2018 so I can stay on track and focus on the important things.
Faster load time
I didn’t check the speed before this update, but the last year it took longer than 5 seconds to load. #nobueno
So after the update I tried pingdom and GT Metrix to check my website speed and performance.
The good thing about using Pingdom is you can download a report so you can know how to improve your site before your next update.
Changes to the site
– bigger font size, darker color text for main content, light colors for icons and buttons
– back to top button (less clicking for longer posts)
– the design looks similar in Firefox, IE, and Chrome
– fixed navigation (easily find what you’re looking for)
I used this checklist from StayinTech to improve accessibility and user experience, and create a better layout + navigation. Plus, checked for errors with the Theme Check plugin.
Had a resources library for my subscribers but I moved all the freebies to my resources page. All of the freebies and recommended tools to use for your business and blog will be there – no sign up required. Instead of the freebies, I will be creating video tutorials for subscribers. These videos will be about managing + using WordPress and other business tools. Sign up here to get notified.
My services page has been revamped after my lessons learned last year and I added a new service for web designers: WP Development for Designers.
There are a few of things I need to do, so I’ll keep making weekly improvements as I go (and grow with the new skills I learn). My goal now is to create more content and share with my peeps on Twitter and Pinterest. And I’ll also work on posting on more Facebook and Instagram.
Would love to hear some feedback from you – tweet me or leave a comment below.
Interested in upgrading your DIY website? Let’s team up to relaunch your WordPress website. Start your project!
Jan 09, 2018, updated
Sep 17, 2018
Business + Goals
New Year. Same Goals.
You have a list of things you wanted to do in 2017. Probably the same goals from 2016.
You started off strong the first month + then hit reset again in March. Then in August. And again in November. Welp. I’ll try again next year.
You’re going over your goals again in December and figured you can change the “7” into an “8” and call it a day.
Then the cycle begins again.
I’m definitely not judging because I’ve been there and done ‘alladat. Used a sharpie and turned 2015 into 2016. Made a list of 20+ things I thought I was going to do, learn, and be.
No plans set and lots of distractions. Then the end of December came and not one thing was crossed off my list and now I’m feeling like a loser. Trying to figure out who do I have to talk to and get a do-over.
So, to break what feels like a never-ending cycle, I have a roundup of great articles to help you reach your goals and make this the year you get things done. Finally.
And when it’s time to do your review at the end of the year, you can high-five yourself for handling your business, champ.
What you’re going to do is pick a strategy/system below to help you get started. And if you need some inspiration after your note-taking, I’ve got you covered. You’ll find a Trello board below with some ideas you can add to your goals list – personal or business.
3 Mistakes You Make When Planning
“When planning, don’t fall prey to the tendency to begin discussing actions, or actually performing actions, before you are clear about what needs to be accomplished.” – (Ann Latham/Forbes)
How to Squeeze a Full Year out of 12 Weeks
“Get rid of annualized thinking: Ditch the 12-month calendar (at least when it comes to your business) and strip it down to 12 weeks. Every month is condensed into a week and every week is boiled down to a day.
Imagine getting a week’s worth of progress made in one day. That doesn’t mean doing the same amount of activity in a single day – it means thinking critically about the tasks that are truly most important to your goals and spending time on those things.” – (Carrie Dils)
10 Insights That Will Change the Way You Set (and Achieve) Your Goals in 2018
“1. Focus on the process, not the outcome. Why are goals that focus on process so much more effective? First, by definition process-goals require you to come up with a more specific, concrete plan for achieving your longer-term goals. Second, they force you to focus on your present actions and therefore feel more urgent than longer-term goals.” – (Doist)
Don’t set goals for yourself—instead, create systems that make it easy for you to succeed
“So I set about creating a system, using the project management app Trello, that would give me a bigger, birds-eye view of how I live my life. To design it, I broke it into four sections: Two focused on big-picture issues, and two that dealt with concrete changes. The basic idea was that with a system that was actionable, yet not overwhelming, I could generate a lot of “small wins” on a daily basis—providing momentum for much bigger projects.” – (Khe Hy/Quartz)
The 90-Day Plan: How Goals Become Targets You Achieve
“As a freelancer, you’ll find yourself working within the following 4 major areas of focus:
1) Your OFFERS;
2) Your MARKETING + PROMOTIONS;
3) Your GROWTH + BOTTOM LINE; and
4) Your BRANDING + ONLINE PRESENCE.
The more focus you dedicate to one area, the more concentrated you can generally expect your results to be. The more areas you expand your focus to, the more divided your attention will be.” – (Lanie/Miss GSD)
15 Bulletproof Strategies for Achieving Your Goals
“Instill self-discipline. By instilling the right habits into your life, you can become self-disciplined. Habits such as waking up early, practicing gratitude, eating healthy, exercising and getting ample sleep help to instill that much-needed self-discipline into our lives. With the right set of habits in your life, anything is possible.” – (R.L. Adams/Entrepreneur)
Why You Should Choose a Theme for the Year Instead of Making Resolutions
“Choosing an overarching theme allows it to take shape in various aspects of your life, versus one specific area. For example, your resolution might be to drink more water or join a gym. Those are great goals, but instead, you could make your theme for the year “Experience Health.” Choosing “Experience Health” as your theme could lead to much more than upping your water intake and joining that gym, you may also begin to consider other aspects of your health such as mental clarity and healthy relationships.” – (D’Ana Joi/Joi-Knows-How)
I break down my life into 4 ‘task buckets’ — and it’s helped me be great at everything I do
“I use a modified Pomodoro Technique with a 50-minute “on” and 10-minute “off” for every task slated for that hour. During the 10 minutes is when I do a good deal of my texting, daydreaming and whatever else there is. Rest and relaxation is scheduled where applicable. All tasks fall into one of four main buckets. Learn, Build, Experience, Share.” – (John Gorman/Business Insider)
At the end of the year, you can Conduct Your Own Annual Review (Elana Lyn Gross/Career Contessa). Even though this is for work performance, you can answer some questions and use it for your next review.
And there you go! All the resources you need to handle your business in 2018. Tell me below what you’re working on this year. I also recommend reading The 12-Week Year by Brian Moran. I’m still going through the book but there are a lot of tips and tricks to help you win this year.
Also: one thing to remember – Goals are subject to change. Life happens. Feelings change. Better ideas pop up. And things don’t go according to plan. So, don’t trip if you need to take a step back and go a different direction.
You’ve probably heard about the Equifax security mess a few months ago. It’s happened to Yahoo, Target, and HBO. Hackers are busy finding ways to gain access to your personal info or attack your website.
If you’re a solo boss on a budget, you may not have the same resources as the big dogs like hiring a cybersecurity pro. But there are some tools that can help you keep your info safe, website secure, and desktop (and other devices) protected from attacks.
This post contains affiliate links, this means I receive a commission (at no extra cost to you) if you make a purchase using one of my links. Thanks for your support!
Use a password manager
No need to remember 20+ passwords when you’re using a password manager like LastPass (free or $24/year).
After you save your accounts/profiles to your LastPass account, alls you have to do is sign in using just your email and one master password to gain access to your vault (where all your usernames and password hang out). When you sign up, you’ll have access to your vault whether you’re on a desktop, laptop, or mobile device.
Using the same email and password combo for all your accounts? If your G Suite/Gmail account ever gets hacked, the hacker can try to use the same password on your social media, bank accounts, or WordPress website.
Let LastPass generate a strong password that’s hard to crack and it will save this info for you. A strong password will have at least 8 characters including upper and lower case letters, numbers, and special characters (!@#$).
Whether you’re using public WiFi at Starbucks or a coworking space like WeWork, it’s a good idea to use a Virtual Private Network (VPN) to keep your info secure.
Companies like Private Internet Access ($6.95/month or $34/year) lets you hide your IP address and browse the web without ads or trackers getting your info (IP address, location, what kind of device you’re using).
One account can protect your laptop, phone, and tablet when you sign up and install the app on your browser and iOS or Android device.
All of your hard work can be gone just like that. You don’t want to start from scratch if your device is lost, stolen, or damaged. So add your files, photos, and apps to the cloud storage. Backblaze ($5/month or $45/year) has unlimited cloud storage for your Mac or PC.
Just download the app + it will copy everything on your laptop to the cloud. You’ll have a full backup of your laptop where you can get access to your files from your iOS or Android. And when you make changes or add a new file, it runs in the background and autosaves it for you.
You can also locate your computer if it’s lost or stolen. And if you need to restore a backup, Backblaze can send you a hard drive with all of your data so you can upload everything to your new device.
Many accounts like Gmail or banks offer something called Two-factor Authentication (2FA). This lets you take an extra step to verify that it’s you.
For example, logging in to your Capital One account with your username and password, the app will ask you to enter a 6-digit code (sent via email or text) to gain access to your account.
Some social media accounts will send you a link to the email or phone that’s linked to the account. Clicking that link will confirm it’s you and then takes you to the page you’re trying to view.
Look under security settings on your profiles to set up 2FA or use Google Authenticator. You can also sign up for email alerts so you’ll know if someone is trying to log in to your account.
Update your desktops + mobile devices
To protect your computer from viruses and malware, make sure you install any updates for your operating system (Windows or Android), anti-virus software, and enable firewalls.
If you’re on a Windows device, go to Settings > Update & Security > Windows Defender then Security Center to keep your desktop protected.
For your Android device, Lookout takes care of malware scans on your apps, protects your data from threats, backs up your contacts, and locate your device if it gets lost or stolen (must turn on your location settings).
Just like your desktop and devices, your website needs to be protected and updated. Hackers can find ways to hack into your site and install malware that can send your visitors to another site, add spam links, and mess with your Google ranking.
If your username is “test”, “admin”, or domain name (yourwebsite.com), you can change it to a username that’s hard for hackers to figure out or your email. Use LastPass to generate a strong password. And after you back up your site, you can delete that admin, test, domain name account.
Tip: Create an Editor account for when you or your writer need to publish a blog post, for example. So only you and your web developer will have access to use your Admin account for tech updates. After you backup your site, go to Users to add or delete a user.
Turn on your alerts so you’ll know what’s going on behind the scenes. Also go through your security settings on Jetpack to handle login attempts and spam comments. And for extra security, use Google Authenticator to log in to your account.
After backing up your site, always keep your plugins and theme updated (and delete the ones that you’re not using). Some web hosts like Siteground automatically updates to the latest version of WordPress. And having a backup helps so if the latest update messes up your website, you can restore the last update to fix the problem.
If you’re having problems logging in to your dashboard, scan your site with the Sucuri SiteCheck scanner. It will check the website for known malware, blacklisting status, website errors, and out-of-date software for free.
For the tech-intimidated, hire a dope developer that can take care of all of that for you.
If you’re handling sensitive info like credit cards, you can get a SSL certificate which will encrypt any personal info that’s being transmitted on your website. Learn how to How to Install an SSL Certificate or use Let’s Encrypt. Some web hosts like Siteground offer free SSL for your site.
Tip: Try Hover or Google Domains to keep your contact info private. Prices start at $12/year and privacy is included. And use the password generator to create strong passwords for your web host and domain name accounts.
Most important thing to remember: Backup then update.
Keep clients + team members in the loop
Let’s not pull an Equifax and wait until months later to tell your customers/clients. Notify your clients, team, and contractors ASAP. Let them know about your security issues and what steps they may need to take to protect themselves (reset passwords, close accounts). You want to keep your data safe but if you have access to SSN/Employee IDs, credit cards, and contact info, you should also let them know what’s going on.
Privacy on your browser
Is Chrome your default browser? Click the 3 dots that are under the close button (X), go the settings, and click Advanced on the bottom of the page. Then go through the options to make changes to your privacy settings – turning on settings for “Send a “Do not track” request with your browsing traffic” and “Protect your and your device from dangerous sites”. Want to keep your searches private? Use DuckDuckGo for your search engine.
Things happen. Things get hacked or get stolen. You want to prepare for the worst-case scenarios so make sure you take the time out of the day or on your next break so your business can keep going + growing without a major hitch.
Want to add a security tip? Share your thoughts below!
Instead of winging it every time a new lead comes knockin’ on your digital door, create your process now so you can stay consistent and look professional when working with clients.
In this post, I’ll help you set up and organize your process with some free tools (for my fellow bosses on a budget). There’s also a free Onboarding Toolkit with a done-for-you Trello board for your projects, 3 email scripts, and resources so you’ll know what to do after they pay their first invoice.
This post contains affiliate links. That means I receive a commission, at no extra cost to you, if you make a purchase or sign up using one of my links. Thanks so much for your support!
How to create one with Google Forms
I use Google Forms because it sends me an email notification to my G Suite account and I can use canned responses when it’s time to reply to the new lead’s email.
Creating Google Form
Go to Google Forms and sign in with the Gmail account to want to use and click create a new form
Add your questions to the form – name, email, link to site, list of services they can choose from, what they need help with (their struggles), and budget
After you create your form, click the responses tab and turn on “Accepting Responses”
Above that, click the 3 vertical dots and check “Get email notifications for new responses”
If you want all responses on a spreadsheet, click “Select response destination”, then “Create a new spreadsheet”, and name your spreadsheet
On the top right corner, you can change the color of the form and add your branded image. Click Preview to see the front end of the form. Make sure you test out your form while you’re there. You should get an email notification and a new entry on your spreadsheet (if you created one).
Click Settings next to Preview and in the Presentation tab, add a thank you message in the “Confirmation message” section. (e.g., “Thanks for your interest. I’ll reply to your message in 1-2 business days.” or link them to your Intro packet/page.)
Once you’re finished creating your form, click Send at the top right corner. Send via email or copy the link and add it to your canned emails or intro/welcome packets. To add the form to your site, click Embed, then copy and paste the code into any page on your website.
Goal – Ask + answer all the questions to make them comfortable and see if you 2 would be a great fit for each other. You can use tools like Zoom for video calls or Google Hangouts for phone or video calls.
After your call with your future client, thank them and let them know what’s going to happen next in an email (e.g., sending an invoice and agreement, then a welcome packet with details of the project).
If it’s an estimate or quote (or your prices are not listed), gather everything you need (from their social media accounts, blog, industry + use their answers from the contact form and phone/video call) to create the best proposal.
Using Bonsai for everything
Out of all of those listed, Bonsai is my favorite. You can track projects, send proposals, edit agreements that are made for freelance designers, coders, and photographers.
There’s a client portal where they can view and accept proposals, make payments (Stripe, ACH, Paypal), e-sign agreements all in one spot. You can also message each other and attach any docs like your welcome packet.
Note: And of course, all good things come to an end. Starting July 2017, Bonsai will be a paid-only service (no more free forever plan). Plans start at $9 for sending contracts + proposals OR invoices + time tracking. The next plan is $19 for all of those features. If you’re still interested, head over to read more about Bonsai pricing.
My favorite part of Bonsai is it integrates with Zapier – a tool you can use to automate all the things.
How I use Zapier with my fave apps
After I create an invoice and send it to a client, automation with Zapier starts as soon as the invoice is paid. A paid invoice creates a new card to my Client Projects in Trello.
This new card created in Trello adds a new event/project on my Google Calendar. That new event creates a new project folder in Google Drive. I have a template folder that I can copy, so all I have to do is drag and drop it into the new folder that was created. This is the folder I’ll share with the client so they can upload or download everything they need for the project – proposals, welcome packets, a copy of the agreement, and all of that good stuff.
The only problem when using Google Drive is I can’t drag and drop folders so I use their free desktop app.
No worries if this doesn’t make sense. Zapier has you covered with a step-by-step guide to creating your zaps. Just create a sample project/invoice/response or whatever you need to test out your zap. The best part about all of this is you only have to set this up once and you’re good to go.
Apr 14, 2017, updated
Sep 17, 2018
You probably have the basics of writing your about page:
“Who are you? Where you’re from? What’s your struggle story? How you got started in your field? What are your skills and experience? What do you love about what you do? Who do you want to help? What are your beliefs/values/passions?” – How to Improve Your WordPress Website + Get it Client-Ready
Maybe you want to add a little oomph to it to stand out from the crowd. Maybe you’re just starting out and don’t think you have enough info to add to your page yet. Or, maybe you’re like me.. just avoiding it altogether, pretending it doesn’t exist. #HeyTwin.
For those perfectionists or newbies out there, here’s a roundup of 11 resources to help you create one of the most important pages on your website. You can choose one of the posts or courses/quizzes to guide you or combine your favorites and get started on your about page aujourd’hui.
5 Things You Need In Your About Page
“My suggestion would be your city and niche you most commonly discuss. For instance yourblog.com/miami-fitness-blogger or yourblog.com/seattle-mom-blogger. Since I made this change to my about page 5 plus years ago, I am constantly at the top of search for Dallas Lifestyle Blogger and Dallas Beauty Blogger.” – Neely, It Starts With Coffee
To help with this, imagine a conversation in which your name comes up (in a good way). What do people say – or what do you want them to say – to complete this sentence, “I know him/her, he/she does this!”” – Leanne, Make Creativity Pay
How to Write the Perfect About Me Page (With Examples + Printable Graphic!
“After reading your about me page, your reader should be crystal clear on who you are helping and the purpose behind your blog. Whether it is to entertain, inform, or to solve a particular problem, you have to ensure that your about page evokes an “OMG YES!” reaction from your target audience.” – Raelyn Tan
How to Write An “About Me” Page for Your Blog
“Share Your Values: Having a set of values can contribute significantly to your brand. It shows the type of blog or company you aspire to be and the morals you follow.” – Postach.io
How to Write an extraordinary About Me Page (plus examples)
“Now that your readers have a brief idea on who you are and what your Blog is about, market your services. Remember to keep this section updated. As your Blog evolves, your services may change as well. Make sure that you update it every 6 months, just to keep it fresh.” – Mary Angela
How to Write a Killer About Me Page For Your Blog (Free Worksheets)
“A call to action (or CTA) is something that encourages your readers to…you guessed it, take action! This could be something like asking them to subscribe to your newsletter or to say “hello” to you on Twitter. The reason why your CTA is SO important is because you want the person reading your About Page to stick around for the long haul.” – Melyssa Griffin
Ever thought about switching up your style and adding a little “je ne sais quoi” to freshen up your site?
Maybe you’re promoting the hell out of your content but you’re still not getting any love.
You could be just starting out and have no clue what to add to your pages and posts to attract the right folks.
Instead of having you in these biz streets wondering what to do or where’s the love, keep reading to find out how you can improve your WordPress website and get those clients rolling in. Then you can start swimming in Scrooge McDuck money. (Maybe not that much but anything is possible, yeah?)
Ask yourself a few questions before you get started:
What are the top 3 main goals for your website?
Do you want visitors to view your sales page and schedule a call? Show off your portfolio so visitors can see what kind of work you’ve done? Want your audience to sign up and download a lead magnet that gives them a taste test of what you have to offer? Donate to your non-profit organization? Or maybe you want to sell info products or courses that teach folks how to DIY what you do?
What problems are you solving and who should stick around?
Who are you helping? And how can you help them go from point A to Z? What’s in it for them when they call/buy/sign up? Is it related to your products and services? Will your blog, brand, and business help them do/make/achieve better things for their biz?
After you answer those questions, you’ll pick one goal and add it to each page on your website. Let’s get started!
Know what to write on your essential page and all you’ll have to do is add your voice to it. Whether it’s class clown, corporate-y, or cussing, be yourself!
What do you love to do? Who do you want to work with? Why should they work with you? How can you help them achieve their goals? What’s the next step they should take?
“I’m [name] and I help [audience] with [their goals or struggles] by [your solutions]. Read more about how I can help you achieve your goals [linking them to your about page, services page, or portfolio].”
Same as the Home page but also tell them about the person behind the brand.
Who are you? Where you’re from? What’s your struggle story? How you got started in your field? What are your skills and experience? What do you love about what you do? Who do you want to help? What are your beliefs/values/passions?
Add a picture of your gorgeous face and workspace. Add some fun facts about you and then tell them what to do next (aka your CTA – call-to-action).
Make sure your posts are useful + relevant to your audience.
Did you answer the most frequently asked questions on that topic you’re writing about? Are you using graphics (screenshots, GIFs, stock photos) to break up your content? How about adding bold or emphasis tags to highlight the important deets? Can you make it Google-ready and SEO-friendly by adding important keywords in your post, URL, and alt text for your graphics? What content upgrade can you add to make it an even better blog post? Can you add click to tweet quotes to make it shareable? Did you add opt-in forms throughout the post? (Don’t forget to test the forms!)
Tip: Become an opt-in beast: add one to your home page, about page, footer, end of every blog post, and sidebar. Add a link to the Subscribe page on your menu or use Hellobar to add one to your header. You can even add a checkbox on your contact form like I did on my 17 Hats contact form:
What do you enjoy doing? What problems do you solve? Who do you want to work with? What’s your process like? How do you take them from point A to B then C? How long does it take? What are the benefits of working with you? What do they get after working with you? Did you add “starting at..” prices? How can they get started? Did you answer the FAQ? Any myths/assumptions people have about your industry?
Sprinkle some results-focused testimonials. Add a link to your portfolio. Make it easy to contact you by adding a link to your “Hire Me” form or add it to the bottom of the page.
On your hire me form, ask for their name, email, link to your website, budget. Leave a text area so they can ask questions or give you details about their project.
Tell folks who you are, what you do, and who you want to work with. How long does it take to respond to their message? What are your business hours?
Add a link to the FAQ page (or add FAQ on the same page). Add a link to “Hire Me” form. Add your business email and links to active social media accounts. Add a quick form to fill out (first name, email address, message). Make sure your form works by sending a test email.
Add the work you love and want to do more of. You can keep it simple by adding a screenshot or mockup with a link to the project. Or you can keep it fancy and use a method mostly used for job interviews: STAR method. You can also use it for your next blog post, proposal, or your portfolio:
Situation: details about the project – who’s the client, what they do, what goals and struggles they had before working with you Task: what was your job, what’s the solution/service you provided Action: how you handled it – your process to solve their problem (no tech talk, speak their language) Result: what was the result – link to demo site or project, show the finished product (before and after screenshots or mockups – Smartmockups or take a screenshot on Am I Responsive)
Don’t forget to add their testimonial. And then end with a call to action – “Now accepting clients for March 2017. Get Started on Your Project” or “Let’s Work Together” linking to your services page or Hire Me form.
Tip: If you’re just starting out and don’t have anything to add to your portfolio, get started with these projects:
your very first client is you, so any work you did for yourself, add it!
rebrand/refresh/redesign your favorite shop’s logo/website/design
create a sample project for your dream client (and turn that into a blog post – “Behind the Scenes: My Web Design Workflow” or “Beginner’s Guide: What I Need From You Before We Work Together”)
Answer the who, what, when, where, and whys. How can they get in touch for more questions? Add the same questions from sales page and a contact form on the bottom. Make sure you answer these 4 questions on your FAQ page.
Add links to popular posts, a search bar, and an opt-in form. You can also add a general freebie where no signup is required. (Like a list of your favorite tools.)
If you’ve done this for a while, round-up your popular posts. You can find out from Pinterest – https://www.pinterest.com/source/yoursite.com, Google Analytics, or your WordPress dashboard. Share your latest posts and what topics you’ll talk about. Add a mini-bio with a link to your about page and how to get in touch with you.
Make sure you add those 2 pages to your site. Use free generators like Terms Feed and Iubenda.
Your Website: Beauty and The Brains
Freshen up your website and keep it updated and secure with a few recommended plugins.
Make sure your site is distraction-free by adding more whitespace and fewer ads/badges. If you want to keep the ads, create some graphics to match your brand. Choose between 1-2 font styles and make sure they’re easy to read. Stick to 2-3 colors that aren’t too bright. Add some images or icons to stand out. Make sure your navbar is easy to find and has a path leading them to your main goal (Home -> About -> Blog -> Services -> Contact/Hire Me Form)
Use a mobile-friendly theme. Most themes are viewed on mobile devices, but if your site is a bit outdated, it’s about that time to upgrade since most of your visitors are will be using their phone or tablet to view your site.
Update WordPress core as soon as possible or find a great web host to keep your site up and running with the latest version of WordPress. Or skip the boring tech stuff and get a developer to handle it for you.
Download Jetpack – “The one plugin you need for stats, related posts, search engine optimization, social sharing, protection, backups, speed, and email list management.” And then try one of these plugins to make your site better:
Time to update your social media accounts. Add info about what you do and who you work with, plus a link to your freebie, subscribe or sales page on all of your profiles.
Pinterest – edit your showcase and highlight your boards (latest blog posts, your portfolio, group board)
Twitter – pin your latest post or subscribe page, share your posts and follow-up by posting it the next day, next week, and month
Facebook – add your business page to your personal profile (when you’re connecting and engaging in Facebook groups, folks can check out your page), pin your latest post to your business page, and use the button to link to your subscribe or services page
Linkedin – You have a lot more space on Linkedin so you can add that same formula on your home page here. Don’t forget to add a call to action.
After your website and social media revamp, it’s now time to organize your process. You’ve made changes to your website (and maybe your offerings), so it may be time to refresh your process also.
Before your clients start rolling in, think about ways to make your workflow easier for you and your clients. It doesn’t have to be a perfect system since you’ll make some changes as you grow, but planning your process will save you time and headaches so you don’t have to do all the things at the last-minute. The first step is to learn how to onboard new clients faster with 6 free tools.
Figure out your main goal for your site and point your visitors in that direction.
Opt-in here. Opt-in there. Opt-in everywhere!
All social media roads lead to your website.
Create dope and relevant content and share with your followers on social media
Do the same for your email list and remember to educate and share what you have to offer
Keep up the good work and then bada bing.. bada boom – notifications from PayPal singing “Just Got Paid“.
Have some tips you want to add? Tell me in the comments below. And don’t forget to share this post with your folks.
For the last part of Create Your Dope Biz series, we’re talking about the free and low-cost tools you can use to run your blog and business. From project and time management to creating content (PDFs, webinars) and web tools and resources for your website.
Most of these free tools are perfect for the bosses on a budget. And when it’s time to upgrade, you can purchase the premium plans. Prices are listed below and are subject to change.
Go ahead and bookmark this list and use it as a resource.
Note: There are too many apps to keep up with so instead of updating this post every few months, please check out Product Hunt to find your new fave tool. Thanks for understanding!
PDFs (worksheets, checklists)
Web Host + Domains
More Resources + Tools
This post contains affiliate links. That means I receive a commission, at no extra cost to you, if you make a purchase or sign up using one of my links. Thanks so much for your support!
Perfect for bloggers to organize your content, service-based businesses to streamline your client process, and students for your class notes and projects.
We’re going to start with my favorite tool: Trello (free, $9.99+/month). Picture Pinterest for your to-do lists and projects. So if you’re obsessed with Pinterest (don’t worry, you’re among friends), then you’ll love Trello. You can drag and drop cards. Add members/clients to your boards. Integrate with other tools like Dropbox, Google Drive, or Slack.
Dropbox Paper is another way you can manage your projects and collab with teams and clients. A helpful tool for “capturing ideas and gathering quick feedback from your team. The flexible editor allows for text, task lists, code, file and app embeds, and images”. Watch the demo for using Dropbox Paper.
With Evernote (free, $34.99+/year), you can write, type, or record notes and have it synced to your desktop or mobile devices. You can create to-do lists and set reminders for anything you’re working on. Read How To Use Evernote: 21 Creative Uses.
Resources: Want to know if a project is worth your time? Take this Client Screening Quiz to help you choose. Read Project Management for Dummies by Stanley Portny. Even if you’re not a project manager, this can help you organize and schedule projects, plan and stay within a budget.
Track time for personal projects or client’s projects. Stay focused and productive in everything you do. Also, automating = major key. And good for your skin. Don’t question me, just go with it.)
If This, Then That aka IFTTT connects with all of your apps and devices. You can link up with your Twitter account, for example, and save liked tweets to Pocket to read later. You can sync it with your Gmail account to automatically add all starred emails to Evernote. And those tasks are all called “recipes”.
Zapier is like IFTTT, but has limited features with the free plan (only 5 2-step “zaps” and basic tools). You can integrate your apps and automate your processes and workflows. For $20 a month you can have 20+ zaps at once, set up 3 or more steps, and have access to all 500 apps.
Use Toggl to track time, set billable rates, share time reports, and share progress for you or your team. They have free and premium plans starting at $9 to $49 a month.
Now Do This is a really simple to do list you can use. You add each task on a separate line, click ready and after you’re done with that task, click done to move to the next. Dasit.
Workflowy is another simple tool. It’s a checklist and you can add hashtags to make your list searchable or @someone to filter your list.
Auto Text Expander is a Google Chrome extension. You’ll save time by creating shortcuts (or snippets) for those longer texts. Perfect for canned email responses or codes that you don’t want to type out every single time. In the gif below, all I had to do was type “@quote” and my blockquote snippet popped up with the whole HTML code. Voila!
Organizing, saving, and sharing files (pics, videos, PDFs). You can keep track and gain access from your computer, mobile devices, or cloud storage with Google Drive which starts you out with 15GB of free storage. For more space, upgrade to their $1.99/mo plan for 100GB or 1TB for $9.99/mo.
You can also use Dropbox to manage your docs for free or with plans starting at $8.25/mo for 1TB or $12.50 for unlimited space.
You can use Evernote again, for project management. You can create notes (written or audio) for your project or save blog posts ideas. You can save articles or images to read later or for inspiration. Plus, share those files with team members, family, or clients. You can choose from the free Basic plan with 60MB of new uploads per month, Plus plan with 1GB for $34.99 per year, or Premium plan with 10GB for $69.99 per year. And you can now sync Evernote and Google Drive together.
Evernote Plans – Basic, Plus, and Premium
With Backblaze you can backup unlimited data for $5 a month (or save money with their $50 a year plan). I use this to backup all of my files on my laptop. So if something happens to my laptop, all of my files will be in cloud storage. I can also locate it by using their Mapping system if it gets lost or stolen:
If your computer uses WiFi, the Backblaze application can see the identifier of the WiFi networks available to the computer. Backblaze then cross-references the WiFi network identifier against a location database.
Email Management Unroll.me keeps your favorite emails that you actually read in your inbox, unsubscribes you from the ones you don’t read, and Rolls up everything else into one folder so you can read it later. It’s free and works for Gmail, Outlook, Yahoo, AOL, and iCloud.
I use Inbox by Gmail to organize my emails into categories: Forums (for newsletters), Social (social media updates, Slack mentions), Updates (confirmation emails from webinars or conferences), and Finances (receipts from online purchases, updates from Wave or Mint).
Add important dates and sync it to other calendars like Google Calendar, set reminders to send to other parties, and more.
With Acuity Scheduling, you can “automatically send branded & customized confirmations, reminders & follow-ups—via email or text message—and even accept payment and tips via Stripe, Square, PayPal, Braintree & Authorize.net with the click of a button.” They have free and paid plans starting at $10 to $34 a month for advanced features.
Calendar Management with Acuity
Calendly is similar to Acuity but beautifully designed and easier to use. No more email/phone tag, just set your availability (and blackout dates for holidays or vacations) and send the link to your prospects or clients. Their basic plan is free and you pay $8 for premium.
Alternatives: Quickly share your schedule on mobile with Freebusy or Doodle.
Keep track of money coming in and out. Send invoices to clients and reminders when they forget to pay. Quickly take or send payments online or in person.
Wave lets you manage your personal (any bank account) and business accounts (Stripe or Paypal). You can create, send, and track your branded invoices. It’s free to use for accounting and invoicing. If you have employees to pay, use their payroll services which starts at $19 per month.
Mint helps you manage your money and budget. You can check your credit score, receive notifications from your bank accounts, plus get tips on saving money or how to improve your credit score. You can also check your score at Credit Karma.
Quickly receive or send payments using PayPal.Me. Just share your personalized link: “paypal.me/yourname” to anyone and your money is deposited to your PayPal account. It’s free to the sender, but you pay the usual PayPal fees, 2.9% and 30 cents per transaction if you’re using the account for “Goods and Services”. The “Friends and Family” account is free if you’re depositing funds to your bank or PayPal account.
Alternatives: For more accounting software, try Xero which starts at $9 a month and goes up to $70 a month. Use it for invoicing and quotes, track payment transactions, handle purchase orders, payroll, and inventory. AND CO ($9/mo) helps you go from proposal to payment in one spot.
Accept payments online or in person (from a mobile app or free reader you can attach to your mobile device to swipe credit cards) from Stripe, Paypal, or Square.
Resources: Get accounting and tax tips for your small business from Bench and Careful Cents.
Templates, proposals, and contracts for business owners
Docracy is a collection of legal contracts and other docs. You can download, customize, and sign documents online for free99.
Legal Documents from Docracy
Alternatives: Using those templates from Docracy, you can also get them signed online using SignEasy (free, $3.33+/month), HelloSign (free, $13+/month) or Shake by LegalShield. Try AND CO to create easy to read contracts for your new clients.
Bonsai (free, $16+/month) is perfect for designers, developers, photographers, writers, and other contractors. Send contracts or use the template and plug in your info, sign docs online, send invoices and accept credit cards or bank transfers.
Check out Proposify for proposals. You can design and create templates, send them for online signatures, track your close rate (and see how long your future client looked at the proposal), and integrate with accounting software like Quickbooks or Harvest. They have plans starting at $25 a month, but if you’re on a budget, you can take a look at their 24 templates for inspiration and then create your own on Canva or Google Slides.
Proposal Templates from Proposify
Customize templates and send proposals to prospects with Bidsketch. Integrate with apps/software like Zapier and Freshbooks with plans starting at $19 to $149 a month.
Patrice from Creative Genius Law has a free course called “Protect Your Brand in Cyberspace“. She goes over trademarks and copyrighting – how to name your products and services, protecting your brand and creative work from copycats.
Notarize is an online notary service. You can get your documents notarized online anytime from any state for $25.
Real-time messaging, video chats, group conferences, screen sharing with anyone, anywhere.
Slack is a real-time messaging app/software where you can set up channels (chat rooms) and categorize by departments, send direct messages to other members, and integrate with Google apps on your desktop or mobile device. They have a free plan and paid plans starting at $6.67 to $12.50 per user/per month. Learn how to use these 17 Slack Integrations to Spice up Your Team Communication.
Join.me lets you collaborate quickly with screen sharing, simple video conferencing, and unlimited audio for free.
Use Zoom.us for video and web conferencing. Up to 50 attendees and 40 minutes each meeting for their Basic plan. Paid plans start from $14.99 to $19.99 a month.
Invite folks to chat with you on Skype or Google Hangouts. You can video chat, text, and make calls for free.
Set up a Google Voice number and use that as your business phone instead of using your real number. You can forward all of your calls and messages (text and voice) to your phone.
Customer Relationship Management (CRM)
Improve customer service and your workflow by using a CRM system. Track everything from when your prospect fills out the inquiry form to the end of the project where you can send emails to get feedback or referrals from your client. Plus, other tools for connecting with clients and team members.
Streak has a free plan and premium plans starting at $19 to $89 per month. If you’re just starting out, the free plan will probably be all you’ll need. You’ll have a CRM system, see when your email was opened, send emails in advance, have private inboxes or share with other team members, and snooze your emails to read later all in Google Apps for Work or Gmail account.
Use Streak to track leads, emails, and more
With 17 Hats, you can basically run your business and save a lot of time with this all-in-one tool. Send quotes, contracts, and invoices. Track leads, sync projects with your Google Calendar, plus track time. They now have a free Basic plan for up to 3 projects, and prices start at $25+ a month or pay $299 per year.
17 Hats Features
Alternatives: Sync your Gmail or Outlook with HubSpot CRM and see your project from beginning to end for free. Or use Zoho CRM which can be integrated with your Google Apps. Their Forever Free plan is great for up to 10 users and their premium plans start at $12 to $35 per month. Freedcamp is a free project management tool similar to Trello but with a CRM system for $12.99 a month.
For customer care, you can use Zendesk as a help desk center and connect with customers/clients in one spot with emails, social media, phone, or chat support. They have plans starting from $5 for “Essential” to $99 for “Enterprise”.
Blog and Social Media
With Buffer, you can schedule up to 10 posts per profile for free with your Twitter, Facebook, Google+, LinkedIn, and now Instagram. For $10 a month you can add Pinterest and schedule up to 100 posts per profile.
Hootsuite includes scheduling for up to 3 social media profiles and basic analytics for free. For their Pro plan, $10/month includes up to 50 profiles, bulk message scheduling, and an enhanced analytics report. When you sign up, use the dashboard to monitor your feed, check out your branded hashtag, or view twitter chats all in one window.
Alternatives: Coschedule is an all in one calendar for your blog and social media scheduling. For $15/month this includes 5 social profiles and $30/month with 10 profiles and bulk scheduling. Use Tweetdeck to view multiple windows like Hootsuite.
Crowdfire lets you keep track of your Twitter and Instagram followers. Find out who follows, unfollows, and inactive followers. You can also publish and schedule posts.
Pinterest tools Boardbooster to schedule pins, contribute to group boards, test broken pins, clean up boards, and more. Free trial includes 100 pins, $5 for 500 pins, $10 for 1000 pins, and so on. Pingroupie to find group boards in any topic. Pinterest Analytics to see average daily and monthly views by demographics and interests. Increase engagement with Rich Pins and learn the Easy Way to Set up Rich Pins.
Instagram tools Squarelovin to check stats, followers, and know the best time to post. Later to schedule and manage your posts.
With Alerts, you can monitor the web for content or check what other people are saying about you and your business. You’ll receive an email whenever your topic (or brand) is published. Find out what’s happening now around the world with Trends.
Use Analytics to monitor your sites and newsletters to gain insights and improve your business.
For easy to read Google Analytics, use Quill Engage. You’ll receive 1 basic GA report, weekly and monthly reports (every Tuesday and on the 2nd of the month) for free. For $20 per month, it’s up to 3 reports (Mondays and 1st of the month), up to 5 email recipients, PDF files to download and more.
Quill Engage for easy to read Google Analytics
Blogging Grammarly is a free grammar and spell checking app. Grammarly is free to use and can be used anywhere (e.g., email and WordPress post/pages) once you download their Chrome extension. You can install it to your desktop and use their app or in Microsoft Word. Prices start at $29/month, $59/quarter, and $139/year for advanced features.
Hemingway Editor is similar to Grammarly. The web version is free and $9.99 to download their software.
Keyword Tool is a free tool similar to Google Keyword Planner. It helps you find keywords people are typing in Google search, Youtube, Bing, and Amazon. You can then use those keywords people search for and add them to your posts to improve your site’s SEO (search engine optimization).
You can use Yoast SEO plugin or SERP (for non-WordPress users) for SEO help.
List of sites that offer free stock photos. Make sure you read the fine print to know if attribution is needed and if it’s ok to use for commercial or personal use. **Royalty-free images starting at $10.
Tools: Use Tiny PNG to reduce your PNG and JPG images and speed up your site. For mockups, use Smart Mockups or Graphic Burger. Create free mockups and templates for your ebooks with Adazing. Use Zoommy App ($4.99) to view and download over 10,000 free stock photos.
Use one these email marketing tools to keep your readers updated behind the scenes.
MailChimp’s “Starting Up” plan lets you have up to 2,000 subscribers and send up to 12,000 emails per month for free. The “Growing Business” and “Pro Marketer” have monthly plans starting at $20 per month for unlimited emails and extra add-ons like automation (perfect for email courses) and segmentation (target based emails).
With Mailerlite, you can send unlimited emails for up to 1000 subscribers for free. You can also create landing pages for your e-products and webinars for free. MailerLite has the same features as MailChimp, but less expensive and automation is free. See MailChimp vs. Mailerlite for comparison.
Newsletter Templates from MailerLite
Another tool I want to use in the future: ConvertKit. I signed up for a free 30-day trial courtesy of Mariah Coz of Femtrepreneur and fell in love. insert heart eyes They have landing pages you can add to your website, “Broadcasts” for timed content (onboarding, launches, email courses) and more. You can check out their demo or sign up for their webinar for a walkthrough.
What they don’t have, unfortunately, is a free plan, so their paid plans start at $29 a month for up to 1,000 subs, $49 for up to 3,000 subs, and so on. All plans include unlimited forms, courses, landing pages, and emails. And you can integrate with tools like Zapier, Gumroad, LeadPages, and Shopify.
You can use Mailmunch or Privy to grow your mail list with fancy mobile-friendly landing pages and opt-in forms to collect emails, and check your stats. You can integrate with MailChimp, ConvertKit, and more. They both have free plans and plugins for WordPress. You can also use Hello Bar to add pop-ups, sliders, or site bars (see mine above the nav bar) to any website to turn visitors into readers or clients.
Tools: Convert documents to PDF, JPG, PNG, and TIF. Plus, merge docs into one file with PDF Forge or PDF Joiner. PDFescape is a free PDF editor and form filler. Use this to create workbooks so your readers/viewers can type their notes instead of printing them out.
Create webinars to grow your audience, screencasts for tutorials.
Jing is a free way to share 5-minute videos or screenshots. For longer videos (up to 15-minutes), try Screencast-o-matic for screen and webcam recording. You can also publish those videos to YouTube. For $15 a year, you can create longer videos without their watermarks, record audio, edit, and add it to Google Drive, Vimeo, and Dropbox. Here are some tips to set up your own home studio for video production.
Use Webinar Ally to host your webinars. It’s a WordPress plugin that you’ll use with Google Hangouts on Air. It’s $27 for unlimited webinars on unlimited personal websites, no attendee limits, and 1 year of email support and updates. Developers can pay $97 to use on your sites and client sites.
WebinarAlly Plugin for WordPress
LiceCap is a free software that lets you create animated screen captures from your desktop and save it as a GIF. You can add these GIFs to your tweets, blog posts, or emails.
With CourseCraft, you’ll pay $49 per paid course that you create for unlimited attendees and uploads (they host it all for you), custom branding, quizzes, and forms. No monthly fees, just 5% plus PayPal/Stripe fees (2.9% and .30 cents) per transaction.
Use Teachable to create free or paid courses like Regina of by Regina. She created Scrappy Courses for infopreneurs, bloggers, and creatives. You can build your own school with courses that are viewable on mobile and the web. You can also create a community, add forums and quizzes with their free plan or paid plans starting at $39 a month.
Alternatives: Teachery has $49 per month and $470 per year plans with no transaction fees. With Skillshare , you can earn money every month just by teaching what you know. Create and sell online courses with Zippy, a WordPress plugin you can integrate with Aweber, Mailchimp, Infusionsoft, Stripe, and Paypal for $199 a year.
Create podcasts so your readers can listen on their way to work or add music to your courses with free audio tracks.
Password managers, browser and website security, and two-factor authentication (2FA)
Use 1Password or Last Pass to save all of your login and credit card info, and any important details. You can generate passwords to improve your online security. 1Password has a 30-day free trial and $5/month after. LastPass has a free plan but for $12/year you can use features like syncing it to all of your mobile devices.
Use Sucuri’s free website malware and security scanner to check your site. And if you ever get hacked, use their Website Malware Cleanup and Repair service to clean up your website. Plans start from $16.99 to $41.66 per month/site.
For my fellow lifetime learners, you can learn a LOT on the web. Take “TMI” to another level. Plus it’s a great idea to start a hobby so find something non-business related below.
Learn design (logo, web, graphic, interior), photography, web development, music, and cooking classes at Skillshare. Their free plan gives you access to 600 courses that can be viewed on your desktop or mobile device. To view all of their 5,500+ premium courses offline, their paid plan is $8/month. Start off with a free month here.
Learn languages like Italian, Portuguese, Irish, Russian, Spanish, and French (what I’m re-learning now) with Duolingo. It’s a free app you can use on the web and mobile. You’ll be able to read, listen, and speak with quizzes. And you can add a badge to your Linkedin account to show your progress.
Creative Bloq has courses for aspiring photographers, game or app developers, copywriters, web or graphic designers, and more.
Aquent offers free courses for designers and developers. They’re self-paced and taught by experienced pros. After you finish a course, head over to their job search page to find local or remote opps.
Learn how to code, build your portfolio, and help nonprofits with Free Code Camp. It’s an open source community that helps you become a software developer. Or try Code for Social Good to “improve your skills and the world”.
What are the benefits of finding your peeps? You can get answers to your 50-11 questions from people who’ve been there and done that. You can share your struggle stories or hear from others. And you can share your small + major wins to inspire others in your community.
It’s time for you to find some BBFs, my friend. Either best blog friends or best business friends, whichever you need. People who understand how important spikes in blog traffic, how exciting repins are, and how meaningful things like guest posts and blog comments are.
Your BBFs are going to be people like you, who “get” you, even if they’re not in the exact same niche or line of work. They are crucial to your success because if you don’t have others to celebrate with, to bounce ideas off of, to plan, scheme + dream with, then your creative growth might get a bit stunted. No one likes that.
The Foxley Rockstars is “for kick-ass designpreneurs who are ready to take the fiery business bull by the horns, hunt down those big dreams of theirs and bitch-slap them into reality.” What she said. Join 3000+ freelancers and entrepreneurs to get tips to grow your business.
Swap skills, spaces, and objects in OurGoods FB group with 800+ creatives in NYC.
If you, A) want to build a business and B) want to make money from that business, you gotta get over all of those things real quick.
People have followed you online because they want to hear from you. If they like your free blog posts and your weekly emails, they will probably be all about whatever product you’ve just launched. Don’t deny them the opportunity to work with you or advance their skills. Because that’s what you’re doing when you don’t promote – you’re making sure they miss out.
Learn How to Guest Blog Like a Boss by Mariah Coz of Femtrepreneur. This post will help you get guest-post gigs without being a recognized “blogger” (even if you’re new), build your email list, build relationships with other bloggers you want to collaborate with, and grow your blog and audience.
FIRE YOURSELF. Outsource some of your life. Because you know what won’t be cute on a tombstone? “Her grind was impeccable and she did it all by herself.” We have no one to prove anything to. Especially for those of us who have established ourselves for over a decade. What other receipts do we need to show? We are usually Type A, perfectionist types who do not know how to let go of reins.
It is time. Let them go. Build your team. Find your helpers. Get some more sleep.
Barter Babes exists to help bold, ambitious bosses embrace entrepreneurship with confidence and a community of like-minded girl bosses behind them. Our online platform connects you to women locally and virtually who are willing to exchange their services and talents to help empower you and your business.
Have more tips for growing your blog and business? Share your thoughts below. And don’t forget to share with your buddies on Twitter + Pinterest.
This post is Part 4 of 5 for Create Your Dope Biz series. The last post of the series will have a detailed list of 101+ tools (free to low-cost) to help you streamline your workflow and keep you productive (and sane).101+ Free to Affordable Tools for Your Business.
In the last post, you researched and developed your business plan, figured out how to price your products and services, and found out how to find and attract your ideal clients. It’s about that time to tell other folks on the world wide web who you are and how you’re going to help them by creating and launching your website.
We’re going to create + launch your business website and turn it into a reader and client-attracting, problem-solving and money-making machine.
This post contains affiliate links. That means I receive a commission, at no extra cost to you, if you make a purchase or sign up using one of my links. Thanks so much for your support!
Since we’re setting up new + important profiles, the first thing we need to do is sign up for a password manager account. We want to keep our info secure and passwords hard to crack. So those same usernames and passwords you use all over the webs won’t cut it, dollface.
Using password managers, like LastPass, you can save all of your accounts and passwords in one spot (which makes it easy to fill out web forms). Lastpass is also a password generator, so it can create a strong password with numbers or characters (!@#%). All you’ll need is your email and one master password to get access and that’s it.
This is sorta like your home address. When someone types your link in the browser’s address bar, they’ll be sent to your website.
For your business website, instead of using www.nameofsite.wordpress.com, we’re going to change it to www.nameofsite.com. It’ll be easier to remember and look professional on your marketing material (biz cards, flyers, etc).
To buy a domain name, you can get one from a web hosting company or from Namecheap which is $13.57 per year ($10.69 + $2.88 for WhoisGuard to protect your personal info).
You can also try Google Domains which is only $12 per year and WhoisGuard is included. And if you decide to go with Google Domains, use Google Apps for Work account for your business emails ($5 a month). Instead of using firstname.lastname@example.org, you can switch over to email@example.com. This will also make you look professional and manage your emails easily since you’re still using Gmail’s interface.
Tips: Remember to use NameChk to see if your domain and usernames on social media are available.
And keep your domain name and web host companies separate. If your website is ever down, you’ll still have access to your emails to keep in touch with prospects and clients.
The most popular platforms are Squarespace and WordPress. There are a few pros and cons to using either one, but it all depends on you and your business needs. Ana of The City Sidewalks talks about those pros and cons of using Squarespace or WordPress.
If you’re #TeamWordPress, watch this video to know the difference between a hosted WordPress.com + self-hosted WordPress.org. (TL;DW version: Free but with limited control on WP.com. You need a web host and domain to use WP.org but you have more control, like adding plugins.)
Your digital office space. Your 24/7 business card. Your one-stop shop and #1 marketing tool. And you have hundreds of companies to choose from, but think about the following questions before you make a purchase:
Is there 24/7 customer support? How fast do they respond? Will my site be up and running 99% of the time? Can they handle a blog with heavy traffic? Is it extra for e-commerce shop? It was $50 when I first signed up, but how much will after a year?
If you decide to go with WordPress, make sure your host is compatible with it. The following hosts are perfect for beginners and non-tech savvy folks. After you set up everything, all you’ll have to do is log-in from your WordPress dashboard since they both have the one-click WordPress install feature:
I’m using Siteground’s Startup plan for hosting and Google Domains for my domain name since privacy is included. (I mean.. why pay extra just to keep your name and address private when Google Domains handles that for you for free?)
Tip: If you’re not ready to purchase hosting, register your domain name with Namecheap or Google Domains and forward it to the site you’re currently using. (e.g., forward your .com or .net to yoursite.wordpress.com or any other site until you’re ready to purchase hosting.)
Your brand is your voice, logo, site, slogan, and how others see you when you’re not in the room. It comes with expectations + emotions. So be authentic and accessible. And keep your visual brand consistent.
Think about your target audience and how you want your site/brand to look and feel. Use the following resources to help you choose.
More resources: Take a look at the Extensive Guide To Website Design from the Blogger Network. Download their free eBook on learning how to use Canva. Use Frontify to create your style guide with your fonts and new color scheme.
Instead of going through hundreds of sites to search for the perfect pic, download this app called Zoommy App for $4.99. It’s a round up all the free stock photo sites all in one spot.
Search by color, landscape or portrait, and people or things. You can download any photo to your desktop and use it for your blog, Pinterest, or Instagram posts.
More resources: Use The Stocks – “the best royalty free stock photos are delivered now along with videos, audios, icons, fonts and colors.” Follow my Pinterest board for more tips on Visual Marketing.
When choosing a WordPress theme, make sure to check the ratings, comments, and the date it was last updated. And since most of your viewers will be checking out your site from their mobile device, make sure your theme is user and mobile friendly. When you find the perfect one, try the demo version before you install or buy it.
More resources: Creative Market has a wide selection of fonts, logos, themes, photos, graphics, and templates you can choose from. You can get all the goods you need to build a brand and a website.
The following sections are some essential pages you’ll need for your site. Your main goal on any page or blog post is to create a call to action – that one thing you want your visitors to do after they’ve read your content.
Do you want them to sign up to your newsletter? Get in touch to work with you? Ask questions or share their thoughts on your last post? Whatever the goal is, you’ll learn what to say on these pages to attract the right crowd.
Coming Soon Page
The first thing to do before you start working on your site is to set up a coming soon page. When people visit your site, the Coming Soon page will be the first thing they’ll see.
First, choose a launch date and give yourself a little wiggle room just in case there are some last-minute changes before launch. Next, give a little info about yourself and what your blog and business.
This will also be the perfect time to collect emails so you can keep subscribers in the loop. Here’s a Mailchimp tutorial from Melyssa Griffin when you’re ready.
Mailerlite is another option to use for your email list. Why use Mailerlite? Automation is included and you can send unlimited emails for up to 1000 subscribers for free99. So, if you plan on giving a 3-day email course for your launch, for example, that’s all free, buddy.
If you’re Squarespace user, go through this list to find the perfect Coverpage.
That disclosure notice I used up top is required when you’re using affiliate links. Whether you’re getting paid or receiving something free, display your notice in the beginning of your page or post. Check out Blog Disclosures – What You Need to Know from Jade Oak:
Besides it being the law, making disclosures shows your readers you aren’t being shady and trying to hide anything. Being transparent and upfront will build trust with your readers since you aren’t hiding your relationships or vested interest when you recommend something. – Jackie
An unforgettable About page has to be more than a biography or a bulging list of qualifications and your biggest achievements. It has to give your reader an insight into who you are, what you blog about and – importantly – why they should stick around for more. – Rachel
More resources: Courtney Johnston from The Rule Breaker’s Club has 11 short (less than 6 minutes) videos you can watch that’s all about creating your Sales Page. Check out her YouTube channel for more info.
Having a clear purpose for your blog will give you FOCUS. Your content will be stronger, your goals will become more defined, people will know what you’re all about and you can develop a tribe of readers. – Allison
Try one of these 101+ Blog Post Title Templates or use CoSchedule’s Headline Analyzer so you can increase traffic and improve SEO. And while you’re over there, subscribe to their blog. So many great posts and freebies to help you and your blog/social media grow.
Use Grammarly to check for grammar and spelling errors.
Content calendars help plan, organize and schedule every single piece of content you publish online. It’s the place where all of your social media posts, your blogs, your newsletters, your videos, podcasts and your graphics strategically come together to grow your business. – Kimberly Ann Jimenez
Any thoughts, comments, or feedback? I’d love to hear it in the comments. And if you find this post helpful, make sure you save it on Pinterest or click to tweet below. Thanks so much for reading, folks!
This post is Part 3 of 5 for Create Your Dope Biz series. Next post will be on finding your tribe, your clique, your crew – no need to do this on your own, darling. And adding other dope doers to your team. Read more here: 8 Things You Can Do to Grow Your Blog and Biz.
In last the post, we talked about how to handle your mental + physical health while running an online business. There were tips from bloggers + entrepreneurs on handling self-doubt or burnout, creating a schedule to work and play, and avoiding comparisons from 6-figure income reports. If you haven’t already, check out 20+ Self-care Tips for Solo Bosses.
Today’s post is all about creating a business/action plan to keep on moving, using a perfect formula to find your niche, and pricing your services. Plus, you’ll learn basic tax and legal tips to keep your business legit, and how to find and attract the right clients.
freelancer or entrepreneur
turn idea into plan
from full-time to boss
Find Ideal Clients*
attract and find your clients
keep the good ones coming back
spot and let go of the not-so-good ones
The Whats and Whys
Why do you want to start freelancing? What’s your ideal day as a solo boss? What’s your definition of success? Why now? What do you need to do today/this week/this month to get started + live the good life?
From 2009 to 2016 (+ 3 states later) – I was fired. Had to break my lease to move back home. Went from job to job and settled for minimum wage. And that led to stress, anxiety, depression, and a lot of hospital visits. With all that going on, I figured there has to be something better than this. And with nothing but time on my hands, I created my dream job.
All that to say: if it has crossed your mind and you know you want to do more, get started on your backup plan now so when you’re ready to take the leap, you can throw up the deuces with ease. Plus, this is the perfect time to start with all of the tools and resources available now. So, moving on…
From Idea to Business
Go from “I have an idea” to “I have an online business” with one of these 10 business models.
No clue on what you should do? Figure out what you love to do and how to get paid for it. You can become an Event Planner or Notary Public if you’re a people person. Start off with editorial services like copywriting if you’re a wordsmith. Or maybe pet sitting if you’re good with Fido and Heathcliff. Try those or one of these 51 ideas from Entrepreneur.
Find Your Niche
After you figure out what you want to do, it’s time to organize and figure out your biz name:
Mariah Coz of Femtrepreneur created the “Perfect Niche Formula” to get you started. Take your skills and knowledge you’ve gained from school or work + your obsessions and passions (find your passion here) and then create something for a specific audience (e.g., college students, personal trainers, or new moms).
For example, I took my 10+ years of administrative + customer service experience, my web/tech obsession and created Client Care and WordPress services for creatives + non-tech savvy bosses.
Another formula from Elle and Company Design: find a need in your industry and use your strengths to Create Your Own Niche.
Figure out your strengths and how you work by taking one or all of these tests:
How to Fascinate
“Your hidden talents, your highest worth, your unrealized potential – the best parts of you might not have been obvious to you before. But now they can be. And with that knowledge, you can use your Fascination Advantages to grow your life, your team, and your career.”
“Vetted by science, the Plum assessment can credential you for your priorities and identify your strengths. All it takes is approximately 20 minutes to find out what your strongest behavioral traits are, the types of environments you’re best suited for and more importantly, take steps to apply for jobs that offer you the perfect environment.”
“Take our Personality Test and get a ‘freakishly accurate’ description of who you are and why you do things the way you do.”
After you have a few names under your sleeve, it’s time to check if they’re available on the web. Save yourself some time by using Namechk to see if it’s available on all social media accounts and domains for free. Just type your chosen name and voila!
If you’re not using your name (Pics by Chicks instead of Jamie Smith Photography), make sure you register at the US Patent and Trademark Office to protect your name and brand by applying for a trademark.
Choose one of these 3 plans then remix, add, or delete as your business grows:
Mini Plan – Answer these 4 questions from Kidal of Lera Blog: What are you offering? Who you’re going to sell it to? Why would they buy from you? How are you going to reach them?
Master Plan – Or, from Regina of ByRegina.com, develop a Creative Action Plan to help you make ish happen.
A Creative Action Plan (CAP) is a document that you add to and access regularly that contains action items in 10 key areas of your business so that you always have steps you can take to move forward. – Regina
Now for the boring but required parts of your biz. Please note: I am NOT an attorney or accountant, nor do I play one on TV. Please hit up a professional to get the best advice for YOUR business. Thank you kindly.
Sole proprietorship, LLC, or S Corp?
Most freelancers start out as a sole proprietor and move on to LLC. You can learn more about choosing the right business structure at Freelancer’s Union.
A single member LLC offers the major legal advantage of protecting your personal assets from the creditors of your business. By setting up an LLC, you also avoid paying both personal and business taxes on your freelance income. As a “pass-through entity” all the income and expenses from your LLC get reported on your personal income tax return as the business operator. – Jonathan Medows of CPA for Freelancers
Employer Identification Number (EIN)
Apply for a free EIN online so you don’t have to use your social security number on any business-related forms.
When you’re really good at something and you absolutely love doing it, it’s only natural to want to turn it into your profession, hence why you became an entrepreneur in the first place! But – often, for passion-focused businesses, we often feel afraid, or unworthy to charge for the products or services we provide when it’s something that we already love doing in the first place. This is particularly true for artists or service based businesses.
There’s a course from Double Your Freelancing about Charging What You’re Worth. It’s a free 9 lesson e-course you should definitely check out.