So, here we are at half past 2014, and it only seems like a moment ago when I sat down in January to map out my goals for this year.
2014 has seen the biggest growth of my online business, with so many leaps happening that it’s incredible to see how far things have come.
Now, I should clarify that whilst my business and online services have blown up this year so far with a great success, what I am calling “success” is not retiring with my mansion, outdoor pool and diamond encrusted Porsches.
Not quite yet, although you should see my vision boards
I call success seeing a huge increase in my reach and audience, successfully selling out my programmes, and reaching the point where I am not exchanging time for money.
So, that said, I want to share what changed for me this year so that others of you doing this online services thing might benefit too.
Firstly, I have never, ever planned things before.
I know, right?
8 years of self employment and I was always juggling varied business and income streams from design to social and teaching. But, this year I had my eyes firmly on the Dex Diva online biz prize, and I sat down with the lovely Leonie’s Amazing Biz and Life Planner and did it.
I now check in every week with my goals and it’s just incredible how many of them I have already hit.
Invest in myself + my biz
This has been so, so key in the success so far this year.
I joined a couple of business programmes in areas I recognised that I needed some help in (and wrote about that here).
Each time I have invested the associated growth and sales recouped has always made the investment pay back, usually really quickly, too.
Not only that but each time I join a new mastermind or bootcamp course, I have a whole new raft of like minded solopreneurs to jam with, many of whom have become my audience and new clients.
Masterminds, groups + my tribe
Being active in various masterminds and Facebook groups has meant I have connected with SO many new and fabulous people. These connections have turned into JV’s, clients, friends, subscribers, service providers, guest posters and all sorts.
I find that, for me, Facebook groups work really well (for some reason Linked In just doesn’t gel for me), and I am usually on Facebook so it’s easy to keep in touch.
I also started my own group for list subscribers, Dexterous Divas and Dudes (make sure you are on my mailing list for access!).
This group has grown into an incredible space where like minded biz owners share their highs and lows, ask questions and support each other in a really positive, encouraging space.
We also host Monday workshops which are free for everyone to attend right there in the Facebook group. This allows everyone to showcase their skills, adds value to the group and is a great mutually beneficial platform for everyone.
Podcast + using audio
Back in January I did two episodes of a podcast. I lost momentum, and got myself back on track just last month when the newly re-vamped show started airing, Work Smarter, Dream Bigger, Live Brighter.
The show has, incredibly, had over 1500 hits in the last few weeks, and is a great tool to reach new audiences and to add value in another medium.
I interview other entrepreneurs as well as some solo shows and audio blogs, and I am so excited to see where the podcast goes over the next few months.
You can find the show here on the site, on iTunes and Stitcher Radio.
I have also been experimenting with using audio on my blog posts in addition to text and imagery. I have been recording posts on SoundCloud with my Blue Snowball microphone, and the feedback from people has been really positive.
For those folks who don’t have time to read, listening to a post can be a great way to connect. It also gives me a new presence on a different platform to extend my reach.
Interview + press features
As well as hosting my own show, I have been asked to appear on several podcasts myself too, which has been a lot of fun. I am a member of the She Podcasts Facebook group and network with other female podcasters to swap interview spots and tips.
I would definitely advise you all to have a browse of podcasts that feature other entrepreneurs and reach out to them for an interview, it can do wonders for your reach and audience growing (feel free to drop me a line too, either via the voicemail feature of my site, or by the contact form).
I also keep my eye on the #journorequest hashtag on Twitter, and as a result have appeared in a few press articles this year in major magazines.
Guest posting has remained a large part of my content outreach strategy this year, and I regularly post on both large authority sites and other business blogs as a guest.
This has helped me to reach new people and to also help my SEO and authority for this site and Google Plus.
I currently write for Lifehack, have appeared on Lifehacker, the Selz blog, Prowess 2.0, the Talented Ladies Club , Regus and others.
As I teach on my Blogging for Business Bootcamp, guest posting can be such a powerful way to show your authority in your niche, and to connect with new audiences.
I took on an intern earlier on in the year, who is absolutely lovely. I offered to mentor her one to one and give her access to my training and classes in return for some help with updating social media and some admin/research. This has been a great way to leverage more hours whilst adding value to someone else.
I also use Fancy Hands a lot for tasks such as bookings, research, admin tasks and compiling resources.. The response time is super quick and they are a really affordable way to get extra help (they also link to Asana too, very clever!).
I realised I had taken my website as far as I was able to on my own, and invested in a new site by the absolutely awesome Marta from Polish Lab. The new site reflects me and my message in a MUCH more cohesive way, and it also acts as a client filter straight from the off; like marmite, you will either love me or hate me.
Making an investment like this is not for the faint hearted, and I would make sure you are clear on your aims, your message and get your copy sorted before you take the plunge. However, when selling online services this is my shopfront, and I am SO pleased with the new clothes it has now. Thanks Marta!
Saying no + keeping focussed
Saying no to work I knew wasn’t right as I focussed on online services has been hard, particularly when extra income would be welcome. But, I wanted to stay focussed on the goal of getting my Blogging for Business Bootcamp and other online services up and running, and needed to recognise that turning down work that would hinder that goal would be worth it in the long term.
I am happier when working on a one to many model, and have designed the business to work in that way. I concentrate on content marketing through guest posts, this blog and podcasts whilst mentoring in the bootcamp and devising new programmes.
Creating automated income + online programmes
This has always been my primary goal for my business, and this first half of the year has seen major progress in automated income from various sources.
Whilst I still offer limited one to one coaching and blogging services, the main focus of my work is on programmes like the Blog Biz Bootcamp and the tools and other programmes I am currently devising.
So, my income from automation comes from the Bootcamp, my Skillshare class and earnings from affiliate links.
I empower all members of the Bootcamp to become an affiliate too, a strategy which helps spread the word, and gives us both opportunities for abundance. Boom.
Leveraging the visual
Instagram and Pinterest are big traffic drivers for me, proof that we still love to digest images over words.
I take quotes from my posts and format them in a branded visual, which acts as a snippet preview of my content. I then add those to Pinterest and Instagram to engage with a diverse audience and re-air my content in a new way.
My Instagram reach has increased rapidly in 2014 so far, and I also link up my insta account with IFTTT to tweet my images as native Twitter pics for more reach and sharing.
A massive part of my growth this year too has been about mindset.
I am famed in Casa Diva for my midweek meltdowns of business overwhelm, and have put several practices into place to prevent the tears and dark chocolate consumption (ok, you got me, I still have the dark choc!).
I meditate twice daily to stay earthed and mindful (hear more about this in my interview with Gillian Rowinski in Episode #7 of the podcast). I also use EFT, a strong tool to help with money blocks, limiting beliefs, and subconscious programmes that hold me back. EFT seems to crop up a lot in my podcast interviews, and is a tool the fabulous Denise Duffield Thomas teaches in her Get Rich Lucky Bitch Bootcamp.
Working on mindset for both life and business is all part of this wonderful journey, and like all of us I have a long way to go. In fact, there is no destination, and I seek to tweak and make improvements to my personal life and business every day.
I have come to realise that what I have to offer is unique, not because of the content, necessarily, but because of who I am and how I deliver.
No-one has my unique set of skills, experience, set backs and learning curves. No-one else has my exact method of teaching or delivery, or content creation. So, if you are thinking “oh that’s fine for you but no-one will listen to ME”, take a look at what makes you unique, what your message is, and be confident to know that YOU ARE ENOUGH.
I really hope this mid-2014 round up of what has worked for me helps you in some way.
Have you implemented any of these? What has worked for you this year so far? How are you tackling the next 6 months? Let me know in the comments.
Love and lovely light evenings,
P.S for a LIMITED TIME I have a midsummer flash sale going down for the July intake of Blogging for Business Bootcamp. Join me with 50% off the usual cost if you sign up before 22nd June. Go!