Freedom Friday: Amp It Up!

Blogging Etsy Resources

(Photo taken at the Old Mission, Santa Barbara, California; July 2013)

Normally when I write a Freedom Friday post, I’m interviewing someone who is, in some way, striving to create freedom. Sometimes, they’re trying to free themselves from the confines of a cubicle and run their own business. Sometimes, they are trying to free others and are doing something great in human rights. Once, I interviewed Colin Wright, who is so ‘free’ that he moves to a new country every six months…just because he can.

Today, though, I want to focus on you – the blogger or Etsian. 

Earlier this week, I posted ‘How to Promote Your Etsy or Blog and Not Lose Your Mind!’ and received some wonderful feedback (Have I told you, lately, how I love you, dear readers?). In reality, that was a very, very broad post with just some general guidelines on a social media schedule. Today, I’m going to give you a very broad, general list of some awesome tools and resources to use as a blogger or Etsian. Over the next few weeks, I will be breaking these down and attacking, explaining, and linking each and every one of these.

You know what this means? This means you want to go right over there —> to my sidebar, and subscribe to my newsletter so you don’t miss out on this series. Lots of wonderful things to be covered!

We’re going to start with being an Etsy seller – we all know how frustrating it can be to spin your wheels and still not get a sale. Here are a few ways to make that much easier:

1. Join Etsy Teams! I know, they say this a lot, but seriously find some teams that are worth the time and effort, and just dive right in! My favorites are the Etsy Meet and Tweet, Etsy Success, and the North Georgia Etsy Team. Obviously, the latter will apply to very few of my readers. Like the lovely Tara Gentile says, being an independent business person doesn’t mean we should do it alone. Teams are there for a reason!

2. Etsy.fu – This is a lovely app within Etsy that will automatically tweet your listings at an interval of your choosing. Mine tweets once every six hours, to give room for all of my other tweets in between. (If you want to know why I do things that way, stick around for the Twitter post next week!)

3. Etsy’s LiveStream Library – If you haven’t utilized this, do it now. Some of the webinars I had little use for – for instance, I don’t need to know how to make letter press dolls. Though, I may try that for fun one day! The other stuff? Amazing! I listen to the webinars while I’m cooking, doing homework, taking a bubble bath, etc., and then I go implement the things discussed. Because of these, I have a customer-friendly shop that attracts customer attention rather than having to go chase after customers all the time.

Etsians, stick around because I’m not done with you yet!

For Bloggers:

1. ProBlogger – this is great if you’re looking to turn your blog into a revenue stream. I’m not, particularly, but I still get the newsleetter and some of the articles are great!

2. Find Blogging Networks! – BlogHer is a great one, from what I hear. Circle of Moms is great for mom bloggers. I am a part of the Green Moms Network, and the GMN community has done wonders for my blog. This goes back to the Etsy team and not doing things along – you don’t need to blog alone, either!

3. Youtube! – YouTube is a great space to learn new things about blogging. Want to know how to make something on your blog go away? YouTube it. Want to know how to add a Pin-It button over your photos that doesn’t interfere with your Lightbox plug-in? YouTube it. I built my blog via Youtube tutorials. Seriously.

4. A Beautiful Mess – I don’t follow their blog like I used to because they went the way of fashion blogging and I’m just not into that. However, the Blog Love eCourse from A Beautiful Mess changed my outlook on blogging forever. I still go back and utilize it over and over again. It helps you discover the important things about your blog, and organize it in such a way that, by the end, you have something that readers can’t wait to read. Their Blog (Design) Love eCourse is pretty awesome, as well.

 

Now, for both bloggers and Etsians, these other resources may be fantastic!

1. Tara Gentile’s Kickstart Labs – Tara is one of the best business coaches out there. I discovered her through an Art of Pricing seminar on Etsy, and have been following her ever since. After almost a year of business-and-inspiration-creating newsletters, I finally bit the bullet and joined KickStartLabs. I never expected to get this much out of the program! Not only does it include membership to a group of start-up business owners just like you (who do everything from photography to blogging, to yoga-instructing), but you get interaction with Tara, as well as access to her masterclasses. Her masterclasses? Well, those alone are worth hundreds. Of all the things I’ve tried in the last two years of blogging, this has, by far, been the best investment for my business.

2. The Wild Sisterhood – The motto of The Wild Sisterhood is ‘Love Yourself. Follow Your Bliss. Change the World’, and that is very much what the sisters are all about. Each month, there’s a Wild Sister Magazine that is the perfect bubble-bath-inspiration-read. There are two courses – one excellent eCourse on creating an eMagazine, and a ton of forums. While many join The Wild Sisterhood for business reasons, many of us also join for ourselves. If KickStartLabs was the best decision I’ve ever made for my business, The Wild Sisterhood was the best (online) decision I’ve ever made for myself. And, one thing I love: There aren’t hundreds upon hundreds or thousands of members. You don’t get lost – you form these amazing, supportive, sister-like bonds with women from across the world who really, truly believe and invest in you. And, who doesn’t want that?

3. The Amazing Biz and Life Academy-  I won’t lie – this one’s not cheap. It’s MUCH cheaper than some other options out there, though, and the resources available within the academy are endless. It’s like a wonderful mix between KickStartLabs and The Wild Sisterhood – joining business with friendship and bonding. There’s an endless stream of eCourses, such as the Business Goddess E-Course (LOVE that one), and the blogging business e-course. Just a warning, though: If you’re not one of those soul-loving, hippie dippy types, Leonie may be a big much for you to handle. This woman oozes sunshine, rainbows, and happy thoughts.

4. BlogcastFM – This one is free! BlogcastFm is ran by my friend, Srinivas Rao, who wrote both The Small Army Strategy as well as the bestseller, The Art of Being Unmistakable (that’s a $2.99 eBook, and it’s currently the #1 Bestseller in Amazon in Entrepreneurship. So proud of Srini!). BlogcastFM is basically a podcast about blogging, being unmistakable, and creating success in a very non-cheesy, non-power-of-positive-thinking kind of way. He interviews leading experts like Seth Godin and Erika Napoletano in very casual, true-to-life conversations.

In a ‘real’ job, you have co-workers, bosses, monthly or weekly meetings, etc., and have ample ability to bounce ideas off of each other, form strategies, and create things together. The resources above each provide that same thing for those of us who work by ourselves in our own home. If I could recommend *one* of the above things for an Etsian/Blogger, it would absolutely be the KickStartLabs (ironically, one of the cheaper options), because it really does suit just about everyone.

Now that you have resources to start building a supportive community around you, or to turn to for advice, tips, how-to’s, and instruction, lets get to the nitty gritty!

Next week, I’m going to cover the ins-and-outs of Twitter, and how to create a Social Media friendly blog post! 

What tips or topics would you like to see?

 

 

How to Promote Your Etsy or Blog and Not Lose Your Mind!

Blog and Etsy Promotion

via

I know…the photo I used today is a little bright and obnoxious compared to my normal photos. That was done intentionally, however, because that photo shows exactly how I used to feel when it came to marketing my work. There are few things in life that terrify me more than the interstate. Add the interstate to the dark and traffic, and I’m going to have a panic attack, not knowing which way to go and being too scared to do much of anything but stay in the same lane, going the same speed, until I can find a giant gap and get out of dodge.

It doesn’t have to be like that, though. 

As a small business person, blogger, or social media person of any kind, it can be hard to keep everything straight. I personally have the blog, an Etsy shop, and currently maintain the social media presence for five different organizations, blogs, or businesses (one of those being mine). This means that, every day, I have five organizations to promote, a blog to run, orders to make and ship, a shop to maintain, on top of all the networks and teams that I either run or participate in. Oh, and I’m in school and have four kids. The easiest part of my life? My husband, hands down. He’s a minimal maintenance kind of guy.

If you’re like me and your wheels are constantly spinning trying to remember or keep up with it all, no solution seems to encompass everything. If you find one program you love, it’s always missing something. Always. So I’m going to tell you what I do, and how I keep up with things. It may work for you, it may not. I highly suggest you try the social media schedule, though – I’ve had amazing results!

 

Blog Posts

My blog gets the least amount of attention from me, here lately, because I’ve been working on a senior thesis. My normal schedule, however, is to sit down two nights a week and do all of my blog posts at once. I normally post 4-5 times a week, but those are pre-scheduled. On weeks I only have 1 or 2 posts, I go ahead and write another one to keep on the back-burner for a later date when I may be busy. I then schedule those to post later via the Facebook preschedule function, Hootsuite, Buffer, or whatever app the company I am working with prefers. SO

1. Blog twice a week, multiple posts at once.

2. Schedule posts ahead of time

3. Schedule promotions on Facebook and Twitter for after posts go live (obviously, but I forget this one sometimes)

 

Facebook – 20 minutes, tops.

Facebook is easy, provided you don’t get sucked in. Don’t get sucked into Facebook! (I do, all the time)

1. Go check on updates from any work-related groups – respond to a couple posts and interact.

2. Schedule posts via Facebook preschedule function for support threads in those groups.

3. Respond to fan comments and messages

4. Schedule my own posts via Facebook preschedule function (or, Hootsuite, if you use that)

Twitter – 15 minutes

1. Respond to interactions

2. Favorite five tweets

3. Follow 5-10 people related to your field (or, potential customers)

4. Retweet 5 tweets

5. Schedule Tweets in Hoosuite

Twitter Tip: If you have Klout, and use the Klout app on Chrome, you can see people’s Klout scores right in the Twitter feed. Never, ever ignore or disregard people because they have lower Klout scores, but this is a great way to make sure you’re spending some time reaching up as well. Interacting with people who have higher Klout scores increases Klout. For those who don’t care much about Klout, interacting with these people means your tweets are more likely to be viewed because they have a larger influence or more interactive following (though, not necessarily a large number of fans – 1000′s of fans doesn’t mean people are actually paying attention!)

Newsletter – 30 minutes

1. Write once a week (or, once a month)

Pinterest – 5 minutes (Don’t get lost on Pinterest, either!!)

1. Check repins and make mental note of what is working and what isn’t

2. Repin 5 things

3. Follow three new people

4. Leave. Quickly.

Instagram

1.Favorite/Heart five photos

2. Follow three new people

3. Upload as you wish. Seriously. The great thing about Instagram is that you can see the people behind the business, blog, or organization. Don’t feel the need to fake it. If you don’t have something to photograph, don’t. You’d be surprised the little things that garner a lot of attention, though.

Etsy – 20 minutes, also tops

1. Return customer emails

2. Check on expired listings

3. Return favorites and follows

4. Favorite 5 items, Follow 1-3 people

5. Respond to your team(s)

6. Add new orders to ‘to-do’ list

7. Print shipping labels and invoices

 

Photography

1. Carry your camera or cell phone everywhere you go. Keep an eye out for interesting patterns, sunsets, and scenes that you could potentially use for a background on an image. Seriously. I stop and take photos of the ground or flat sides of buildings all the time because they’ll make a pretty background for a meme.

2. Sit down once a week and edit. I do all of my editing at once – for blog posts, reviews, Facebook posts, memes, Listing updates, etc. I do this, for some reason, on Friday nights or during Walking Dead on Sundays. I use Lightroom for product photos, and PicMonkey for all collages, memes, and other photos. PicMonkey is free, online, and ridiculously easy to use. I can create a meme in minutes.

 

Now, about this whole prescheduling thing – my social media time in the morning takes much less time than listed because I don’t generally have to tweet/post anything. Every few days, I sit down and schedule out ALL of my Tweets and Posts (and the tweets and posts for my contracts) at once, in Hootsuite. My morning time on social media is really just time to check up and interact a bit.

Social media is social – don’t forget that part and just blast things out to people!

Etsy is the very last thing I check in the morning, because I go straight from printing shipping labels to working. I immediately create the packaging, and then create the item. Backwards, I know, but it works for me – I have that empty, ready-to-ship package just sitting there staring at me and it keeps me motivated to fill them and ship them out.

For life-stuff, I use something called Cozi. When I run out of something, I add it right to the shopping list in Cozi via my app. I keep a running grocery list, plan my meals there. Cozi is very easy to work, and you can even schedule in repeated events (like, visitation weekends), which was a huge bonus for me! I have classes two days a week and, on those days, all orders go into my ‘to-do’ list on Cozi for the following day. All of my assignments go straight from my syllabus into Cozi at the beginning of the year. There are even different colored tabs to keep up with different people, so my husband can add his schedule in there, too.

 

Keeping up with all the different tasks that running a business involves can be tough. But, once you have a streamlined process and routine down, it becomes much easier!

 

Do you have any questions or tips about blogging, Etsy, or scheduling?