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In today’s podcast we look at 10 small tweaks to help you thrive online.
My spotlight in the show today was my Resources page, where I share the tools and products that I use and love. You can find all the details here.
You can find a full transcript of today’s episode further down the page.
My previous podcast on Why You Need an Email List & How to Get Started. You can listen to episode 22 here.
Have a topic or question you would like to see featured on the show? Then Tweet me and let me know @alisonmwood.
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Transcript of the Episode
Hi everyone, and welcome to today’s podcast. I’m Alison Wood, I’m your host today and we’re going to be talking about 10 small tweaks to help you thrive online.
So before we dive into that, I just want to bring you my spotlight today. I thought it might be helpful to share with you the resources that I use in my business. So what I’ve found to be really good for website hosting, podcast hosting, who I use for my email letter,who I use for social media, scheduling, all those kinds of things. So if you want to check any of those out, just head over to NicheLifeSuccess.com/Resources. And as we’re going through today, some of the things that I mentioned, those resources will tie into these. So do check that out.
Okay, so some of these are, although I’m calling them small tweaks, they are going to make a big difference, basically. And some of them you’ve perhaps heard before, but hopefully there’s a little bit of a spin on it. And really, it’s coming from the things that I’ve learned in the last kind of 10 to 12 years, I’ve been running my business full time for 10 years. And I was doing it kind of part time as a side hustle before that. So it’s really the things that I’ve learned as I’ve gone along. And hopefully they’ll be helpful for you. Maybe you will do things in much less time. And you know, you’ll get up to speed more quickly because it is these little tweaks that you can make that are going to help with that.
Tweak 1: Treat What You Are Doing as a Business
Okay, so the small tweak number one. And a lot of these are about actually your mindset, how you’re approaching things. And the first thing I will say is whether you are doing something as a venture full time, or it’s part time, even if it’s something that you think about as a side hustle, I still want you to do this going forward. And that is to treat what you’re doing as a business.And what I mean by that is that if you think of your business as a job, in your job, if you’re employed by someone else, you have to show up, don’t you? Whatever it is that you’re doing, whether you’re serving coffees, or running something really high tech, or anything in between – whatever it is, if you’re employed by someone else, you have to show up, you have to show up to the best of your ability, you have to get the stuff done. Whereas when sometimes we’re in our own businesses, it’s easy to maybe let yourself off the hook a little bit.
Say you’ve committed to putting, let’s say a blog post out every week, and then you come around to the blog writing day and you are really not feeling it today. Well, if you had a boss, you wouldn’t be able to say that to them, you wouldn’t be able to go, I’m just not feeling this today. I’m not feeling like serving coffees. So I just don’t think I’m going to do it. And I think if you can bring some elements of that into what you’re doing online, or offline, it can really help you to have a different approach to your work. I’m not saying force your way through if you’re ill or there’s other extenuating circumstances, it is okay to give yourself a break sometimes. But if you’re giving yourself a break more often than you’re committing to get things done then there’s a problem.
It can sometimes be those things that you are less keen on. So maybe let’s just say you create something for your business, maybe you love doing all the creative side, but you’re less keen on, say, the marketing side, or getting all your finances in order ready for tax time. So just take that approach, think about your business as if it a job. And if I had to report this to somebody else, if I had to tell somebody else what I’d achieved today, then I would want to be able to say I crossed off X, Y, and Z and I got those things done. And you can even have a little check in with yourself. We can all have a big to-do list, maybe have an achievement list as well. At the end of the day, in your diary or your planner, wherever you kind of check in with yourself, have three things that you’re really proud of that you did that day. Because we don’t have other people to motivate us, sometimes we have to do that motivation ourselves. So that’s just a little tip. Instead of it just being I’ve got to tick off all these things on my to-do list. At the end of the day, maybe you ticked off lots of things, but just think to yourself, what are the key things that I’m really proud that I did. And they might be tiny things, it might just be that you did something on time, or you did that extra social media post, whatever it is, note it down and be proud of yourself for that. It’s also very motivating to look back on those kinds of things. Okay, so that was number one, treat what you’re doing as a business.
Tweak 2: Google & YouTube are Your Friends
So, when you’re starting out in business, or when you’re learning a new side- hustle, you have a lot of questions. And I think sometimes people don’t make the use of what’s out there. If you’re stuck on something, really have a good Google around that topic. And you will be surprised at what you find. You might get led off down a little rabbit hole of new information sometimes, and you don’t want to get sucked into too many things, but there is so much great information out there, whether it’s on Google or whether it’s on YouTube. If you need training on something, do a little search, if you’re trying to do something, let’s just say in Canva, and you can’t figure out how to do it, pop onto YouTube and have a look and see if there’s any training already out there that you can follow. If you’re stuck on WordPress, or you’re building a website, there are often things that you can find to help you. If you come across something, you know how people use words that we don’t understand. Sometimes when we’re new to something, I mean, that happens to me every day even now. But you know, if it’s like a tech thing or something, just Google it, and it really helps to build your confidence when you think oh, actually now I do know what that is. I know that a CTA is a call to action, all those kinds of things. And it can just help you to feel more confident about what you’re doing. So I really would stress that one, Google and YouTube are your friends. And there is so much information out there. Other search engines are available as well. It doesn’t have to be Google it can be whoever you want, Bing, Duck Duck Go, etc. But just remember, there’s a lot of information that can be helpful to you.
Tweak 3: Have a goal and make a plan
Now, you might not know the full scale of everything that you’re going to do, the same as I didn’t when I was starting out. I didn’t know everything that I was going to do along the way. But my very first thing that I did was to set up a couple of niche websites around topics I was interested in.
So there were certain things that I had to do to achieve that. I had to learn how to set up a website. I had to research what keywords to use on that site. I had to write the content. I had to source copyright free images or pay for images. So it doesn’t really matter in terms of what I’m saying the steps are here. What I’m saying is, there will always be a series of steps that you need to take in order to achieve what the next thing is in front of you. So don’t think too far ahead. When I was first starting out, and I was building my first website, I wasn’t thinking, oh, one day, I’m going to build a course around how to build websites, I wasn’t at that stage – that wasn’t even on the horizon, I was learning at that stage. So don’t let your mind spin out too far ahead. Just create that plan of action for what the next thing is, that’s going to drive you forward. Have a goal, write that goal down, make sure you know where you’re headed, write down the many steps that are going to take you to that goal. And for each part of that goal, there might be many steps within the steps. For example, when I was setting up my first website, it wasn’t that the to-do item on my list was just set up my first website, it was broken down into: decide who my host is going to be; decide where I’m going to buy my domain; decide whether I’m going to use WordPress or a different platform; decide which theme I’m going to use. You get the picture, there are lots of mini steps involved. Also have a goal in terms of what you’d like to achieve overall. This could be an income based goal at the start, it could be to get your first 100 readers to the website. So as well as what you’re going to do, actually write down the kind of bigger picture of what that’s going to mean for you moving forward. So that was number three, have a goal and make a plan.
Tweak 4: Start an email list as early as possible
This is my tweak for you, because it’s something that I didn’t do. I think I’ve talked about this on another podcast. So I’m saying to you now, as early as possible, and whatever you are doing, whatever you’re putting out into the world, whether you’re a writer, and you’re writing on Medium, whether you are a creative business and you are sewing children’s dresses, whether you’re an artist, whether you’re an accountant, whether you’re a plumber, start connecting with people and building an audience that you can keep in touch with going forward. It’s so important and an email list will make such a big difference to your business. If I’d started an email list at the start of some of my blogs, I would have grown much more quickly. Unfortunately, I didn’t do it until much later. So that is such an amazing tweak for you to do right now, you might think it’s going to be a big learning curve, it really isn’t. The platforms nowadays are relatively easy to use compared to what they were before. And if you want to go back on the process, there’s an earlier podcast on this. There’s one all about the process of building an email list, what all the different things mean. So feel free to listen to that one if you want sort of more of the steps. But just really, I’m begging you get started with this, because it will have a big impact on the amount of income that you can make. My recommendation is always ConvertKit, you can get started for free with that. Obviously, there are others out there, there’s MailChimp, AWeber, MailerLite, FloDesk, there’s lots of different ones, have a look and see what’s right for you.
Tweak 5: Commit to Courses You Purchase
Now number five, obviously, when you’ve got a big learning curve to go through, it can be really helpful to get some training around that. Now, don’t get caught up in shiny object syndrome, you don’t have to get every training course out there. You don’t have to do every single thing. But there will be some things that are going to be very specific to the information that you need to know. And sometimes it can be helpful to sign up for a course, whether that’s a paid course or a freebie course.
And what I’m going to say is commit to that course and the training, actually work through that course because you’ll be surprised at how much it can move you forward if you actually focus in on one thing at a time. Sometimes I think we can sign up for lots of different things, and then we get a bit befuddled by all the things that we signed up for. And then we never work our way through them. The open and watch rate for many courses across all industries is very low . So a lot of people sign up for things they never complete.
What I will say is the most value I’ve got from things that I’ve signed up for are those things that I’ve sat down, and I’ve watched all the videos or I’ve worked through all the worksheets. Or if it’s something that’s delivered, I’ve read those emails daily. And you might not get every single answer out of everything that you do. But if you come away from something, even with one, piece of information, with one nugget that can move your business forward – over time, that makes a huge difference to how confident you feel, what you know, and how smoothly and quickly you can move forward. So I’m by no means saying you have to get out there and buy every course there is. But what I am saying is anything that you do decide to move forward with make sure that you make the very most of that. That tweak alone will make such a big difference to your business, because you will have absorbed new knowledge. When you’ve gone through it, you do feel a sense that you’ve actually learned something, absorbed it rather than just starting something and then switching to the next thing. So I’m giving you a bit of a lecture there. But it’s all these things I’ve done myself, I’m not saying them because I’m saying you must do it this way. I’ve made these mistakes, I’ve done these things too. But what helped me was when I kind of had a change on some of these things, a change of mindset, a change of heart, I’m still far from perfect in any of these things. But it’s just things that have helped to move me forward.
Tweak 6: Build an Audience as a Priority
Now, number six is always to be focusing on building an audience, your audience, whether that is on social media, via an email list (that you’re busily setting up after this podcast). If might be readers of your blog or people that you connect with in networking meetings, whoever it is, those people are super important so treat them really well. If people have questions, answer those questions on social media and do what you can give back to people, when you’re first building an audience. Well, not just when you’re first building an audience, all the time. When you’re building an audience, you want to be able to offer things to people. And obviously, it depends on your business, that’s not always super easy to do, like in my kind of business, where I can give perhaps free access to things or downloadables – obviously, those are kind of helpful things. If you’ve got a business that is maybe more product based, that might be a bit more difficult. But you can often add benefits to people by for example showing them how to use your product. Say it’s clothing or jewelry. Could you put some looks together that people would find helpful – like an outfit for a wedding or an outfit for a summer’s day picnic or along those kind of lines. So there are always addons that you can give in terms of information. Or maybe you can offer free shipping occasionally or a discount code. So the things that you can be helpful to people with and to give back to people, those things are going to make a big difference.
So always be focusing on building your audience. And I’ve talked about this before, but I think authenticity is super important. You don’t have to be someone that you’re not, you don’t have to project an image of someone that you think you need to be. It doesn’t matter who you are – you don’t have to be a certain way or talk a certain way or look a certain way. People love the fact that they’re connecting with a real person. And you might not want to be on camera, you might not want to be on audio, but maybe you connect with people through your writing, through what you share on social media, or in your blogs and newsletters. So there’s always ways to connect with people, even if it’s not face to face.
But if you love doing face to face then obviously, Lives on social media, or videos, audios or webinars, really help to build a relationship with your audience. So do as many of those things as you can if you enjoy them. So always put your audience first, and always look to build that relationship with them.
Tweak 7: Make the Most of Freebies
Now, number seven is making the most of freebies. Okay, so by this, I’m talking about information and training. So we talked earlier about how if you purchase a course make sure that you follow through and that you absorb that information. But I think sometimes people don’t make the most of the free information that’s out there. There is so much, even if you look around in groups on Facebook, people offer things the same as you will be in order to build your email list, they offer things for free to get you to sign up to their email list, that is the exchange of value for value there. But that doesn’t mean that just because they’re giving it away for free, that it is not good information. In fact, often people will give their really good information away for free, because you think to yourself, well, if this is free, what an earth is their paid stuff going to be like? So I’m not saying there’s no kind of dud things out there in the world. But there is such a lot of value in the free things. So don’t sign up for things that you don’t need, you don’t want to overwhelm yourself with free stuff to go through. But I still really take advantage of a lot of free stuff, because there’s always a really good little nugget of information or really helpful stuff that I can use that helps me in what I’m doing in my business. So really take the time that if you download something, just have a look through it, see what’s in there. There is such a wealth of information out there for free, YouTube and podcasts etc. Podcasts are amazing, whatever you want to do, there are people out there giving you good solid information that you can use. There is so much value in so many different people’s podcasts. And it’s often when you connect with people in that way on, through listening to people or interviews on podcasts that you then go away, and you look into that person further. Maybe they’ve got a book that they offer or a course or just the blog that they write that you can get information from there. So don’t feel that if something is free, it is not good value, because I have learned so much from the free things that are out there. And, you know, in the early days when I didn’t have really any budget, that was the way that I found out how to do so many things. I didn’t follow a course to build my first website, for example, I muddled through with free tutorials and free information on people’s blogs, and I got the site built. And now I can build a site super easily because I’ve done so many over the years that it is one of the things that I offer. You get to the point where you’re the person that knows what you’re doing. And that came from originally looking at other people’s free information. So don’t kind of forget about that. There’s a lot out there that can help you, particularly in the early days when your budget might not be huge.
That was number seven, make the most of freebies.
Tweak 8: Outsource Before You Are Ready
Now number eight is outsource before you are ready now That is not to say that you should outsource if you are struggling to make ends meet. If you’re not able to pay the bills now, don’t rush out to outsource anything. However, there does come a time when income is coming in, and it is time to reinvest. Because the thing is you can’t do everything in your business and run the business and market the business at the same time. So what I would suggest with that is initially outsource the things that you find either the most difficult, or the things that you just really don’t like doing. Often those are things like technical things, maybe you’re not the best at doing changes on your website, or it could be graphic design. You know, we’re not all great graphic designers. So if you want stuff made, branding, or logos or anything like that, it might be good to invest in a graphic designer. It could be something more practical, like a bookkeeper or someone to do your taxes, all those things. Now, as I said, do not rush out and invest before you’re ready. But also, don’t wait so long that you’re spending all your time getting super frustrated, doing something that’s taking you hours. Time that could have been spent in your business doing much more valuable things,. And you do not have to hire somebody, I would always look for freelancers, initially. Maybe further down the line, you want to hire someone as an employee. But obviously, that’s probably when you’re a bit bigger. And you’re ready to have payroll and all those kinds of things. But at the start, just take people on a freelance basis that can do certain tasks for you. And that will get them off your plate and give you time for other things. Sometimes the expenses are not in our business, they’re in other things. Maybe it would be helpful for you if you’re spending the week cleaning your house, for example, is it helpful to have someone to come in to clean or to do some things in the house that you don’t have the time for? You can outsource in different ways, maybe you need some childcare support and would it be helpful to have some extra hours of nursery for additional support. So all I’m saying there really is sometimes it’s not directly in your business, maybe it is something that you can outsource in other areas of your life, that gives you more free time to focus on your business. As I said, do not do anything before you can afford to. But also, don’t wait too long on that one. And that kind of ties in a little bit to number nine.
Tweak 9: Track Your Money
This is so important in your business – track your money, the money that is coming in and going out of your business. So I basically have spreadsheets of everything in my life, making me sound a bit crazy now but you know, I keep a spreadsheet of what’s coming in and what’s going out. And it just really keeps you on top of those expenses that are going out firstly, so that’s important. And if something’s going out on a recurring basis that you don’t use any more then if you’re on top of it, that gives you the chance to go in and think well, I don’t need that anymore, I’m going to cancel it – maybe it’s a software tool or something that you’ve signed up for. Maybe it’s an app on iTunes or Android that you signed up for that you don’t use anymore. Make sure that you check in. Sometimes those annual things can get away from us. If it’s monthly recurring we notice it a lot more than if it’s annual. Check in on those things regularly. And also from the other side it’s really important to be on top of your expenses, but it’s also really important to be on top of what’s coming in because a) if not enough is coming in then you know you really need to return to those money making tasks, whether that’s marketing or whether it’s creating something to put out there to sell, or maybe it’s to get your products or services in front of new people. But also the flip side of that is, if money is coming in and things are going well, sometimes we don’t realize how well we’re doing, we might think, Oh, I’m not making any money. And then you sit down, and you actually look day to day what’s coming in, and you start to say, Oh, actually, you know, I’m up to the income level that I hoped to be at. And I’m already there. So you know, it might take a bit more of a push, and then you’ll be on to the next income goal that you’ve got. So there’s two sides to that, and only by being on top of what’s coming in, and what’s going out – and I mean, really on top of it, like daily – have a spreadsheet of what’s coming in, what money are you earning every single day and just keep a running total, whether it’s in your planner, or if it’s on a spreadsheet, just what money is coming in each day. And obviously, also what’s going out.
Tweak 10: Be Consistent
Be consistent in everything that you do, particularly in your marketing, because probably the actual running of your business in terms of what you offer, whether that’s products or services, whether that’s connecting with people, you sell your time for money, or whether it’s creating things as a product that you’re selling, that kind of thing, you will probably have to keep moving forward with because at the end of the day, that is what forms the core of your business. So sometimes we get very caught up in those things. And that’s only right, because we have to focus on them, we have to provide the services or the products that people have paid us for.
But it’s also important to be consistent in the other things like your marketing, like keeping on top of your money situation, like keeping everything together for your taxes. And this kind of does circle around to treating it as a business, it’s not something that can just be left to go by the by. It’s vital to make sure you are consistent in the things that you need to do in order to sell to people. So that is your marketing.
So whether you’re promoting through blogging, email lists, through social media, appearing on podcasts, creating videos, whatever it is that you’re doing for marketing, make sure that you’re being consistent about what you’re putting out. There is also making sure that you have consistency in doing things and connecting with people, and making sure that you have clear boundaries. So make sure, because this is a business, you have T’s and C’s on your website, you have the things that it’s important for you to have, like your privacy notice. If you’re doing
Phew, so that was a lot! Let’s have a quick recap. Okay, so number one, treat what you’re doing as a business. Number two, Google and YouTube are your friends. Number three, have a goal and make a plan. Number four, start an email list as early as possible. Number five, commit to courses and training you buy or you sign up for and really work through those things – that will make a huge difference. Number six, always put your audience first in terms of building your relationship with them. Number seven, make the most of all the free stuff that is out there in the world. Number eight, outsource before you’re ready. Number nine, track your money, what’s going in and out. Are you hitting your targets? And number 10, be consistent set boundaries, be clear on your terms and conditions and all those kinds of things.
So I hope that’s been helpful today, I really wanted to do one where it’s just like easy tweaks. And you might think, oh, you know, I’m pretty good on all of those. But number three, I just don’t do. And even if you take one tweak from this and it makes a difference in your side hustle or in your business, then I’m really happy about that.