June 2016

Six Lessons I've Learned Since Making The Leap To Full Time

We passed my six months full time mark earlier this month (woo!) and I thought I should share with you six lessons I’ve learned over the past six months of doin’ this thing full time. As some of you may know, I went full time on December 1 of last year. Technically I guess it was December 2, because on December 1 my cat, all my belongings, and I drove the 7 hours from my hometown to Charleston, South Carolina. My leap into full time wasn’t very well planned out. I was leaving a part of my life behind in a rush and with the support of my parents managed to move all my crap from southwest Florida to central Florida (my hometown) on a Friday and then turn around and bring it all up to Charleston on a Monday. This came with a solid two weeks of planning before hand (when I put in my two weeks notice). So… a leap of faith, or stupidity, launched me into full time.

My goal was to find a job in Charleston. It really was. At least something part time. But December hit and things just started…working out. Falling into place, if you will. Granted, I wasn’t paying rent or utilities at first (crashing with my sister was so, so nice), but still… things were working. So I didn’t find a part time job, I just kept chugging away at TheCrownFox.

In February I moved into my own place and thought, okay, now I’ll find a part time job. But things just kept working and I was busy, and booked, so I didn’t. It’s been an interesting transition, to be honest. In the same way that freelance has the “feast and famine” danger, my mindset has the “feast and famine” danger too. It’s been a real personal battle figuring out my weaknesses (sticking to a schedule) and my strengths (interacting with clients). But six months in I can say this: I’m the happiest I’ve ever been in a really, really long time and I’m not too worried about how it’s all going to work out. Which for a worrier is a pretty good feeling.

Here’s six things I’ve learned over the past six months that hopefully help you in your own business.


MAKE A SCHEDULE

Hi, so important. It is the easiest thing in the entire world to waste an entire day if you don’t have a schedule. You’ll be “working” on something (non-important, like updating the icons on your sales page) and suddenly it’s 4:00pm and you’re like “what did I even DO today?!” 

Make a schedule. Then actually STICK to it. I get really intense with my schedule because it’s very easy for me to make excuses or find something that suddenly becomes very important (it never is). I break down into 15 minute blocks what I should be doing every day. I make myself literally write it down on a piece of paper to hold myself accountable. If you have the tendency to fall on the lazy side (hi, I live in the most fun city ever, it’s easy to get distracted) then be strict, be regimented, and be intense with yourself. 


DON’T BE AFRAID TO SAY NO (OR NOT RIGHT NOW)

I ran into this issue in March/April of this year. I said yes to EVERYTHING. I overbooked myself client wise because I was too afraid to say no to a project or tell them I could work with them on a projected date. Instead I just slammed my schedule so full that I was panicking all the time about getting things done, and making time for blog posts, and other content creation. My business saw a dip overall because I was less accessible during those times, and it has honestly been a struggle to get back on the bandwagon since then in some instances – like making time to be present on social media and growing/fostering relationships.

So my advice for you is this: it’s okay to tell a potential client that xyz is your availability. If they are going to work with you, then they are going to work with you. You have to focus on doing what you can, when you can. 


CREATE INCOME STREAMS

In our world “feast and famine” is a real thing and it’s really scary. Especially if you just up and quit with no real savings base (woo). The best thing to do is to get some money coming in from other avenues. Host a masterclass (I’ve done two: Systemize Your Branding and 404 Page Masterclass). Affiliate for companies you use and love. Create Ebooks (Building Your Base). Sell templates on Etsy. Heck, it doesn’t even have to be business related – babysit some kids in the afternoon, or drive Uber at night. Just make sure that you don’t have to feel that pit in your stomach when a client doesn’t book and wonder how you are going to pay rent.

In our world creating a course is a very popular income stream. I think creating a course is a phenomenal idea but I will say from my own personal experience that you should be prepared for A LOT of upfront work in creating course and the potential of a crash and burn. I tried to unsuccessfully launch a course earlier this year and am still licking my wounds a little bit, because I was (and still am) convinced it’s a good idea. But that being said, there’s a lot of ways that positioning, timing, reach, etc. all come into play, so even if a course doesn’t work out on round 1, doesn’t mean it’s a total lost cause. I say this to say that if you are HARD UP for money and getting worried about bills, I wouldn’t start with a course. I’d start introducing your value in smaller scales first so that people come to associate your name with good products, quality information, and actionable content. This might seem like a controversial statement, but I am basing that 100% on my own experience. 


TAKE BREAKS

Here’s one that is essential to your sanity. Even on your hardest, busiest day – take a breather. Even if it’s just a 10-minute walk around the block or a trip to the drugstore – do something else. Let your mind wander a bit. Nothing adds to stress like being immersed in a stressful situation all day. You started working for yourself for freedom, right? Give yourself some.

If you’ve already acknowledged your ability to get distracted (like me, ahem) then make sure you schedule your breaks in a way that they end at a certain time. So a yoga class that has a definitive end is a good solution. A show on Hulu that rolls right into the next one is not a good solution. Take smart breaks.


FIND OTHER PASSIONS

Building off of breaks, it’s also a good idea to develop an interest outside of your business. For starters, your friends are going to get really bored of hearing you talk about blogging and Pinterest and things that don’t make any sense to them. But more importantly, you can’t lose your life (or the freedom) to sitting at a desk all day. That’s the opposite of why you got into this! So find other passions and make time to enjoy those.

Your mind will thank you, your work ethic will thank you, and you will find it easier to stick to a schedule when you know you have to finish something so that you can go enjoy your new underwater basketweaving hobby (or whatever it is you take up). I’ve been trying to find my other passions in the form of some sort of physical exercise these past few months – I’ve tried Barre (and I love it!), running (I really want to love it, but ugh), and strength training (weirdly my left arm is stronger than my right arm).  It’s nice to walk away from work and focus on something else entirely. In the same way that the best ideas come to you in the shower or at 2 in the morning, some of my best ideas recently have come while I’m focusing on not falling over while trying to run.


ALWAYS BE LOOKING FOR CLIENTS

So, here’s something that I’ve learned the hard way. Three times. I don’t carry business cards around with me because I have always worked online, with online clients. That’s bitten me in the butt now THREE TIMES. You think I would’ve learned after the first time, right? Nope.

This is a big one – when you are out there finding your other passions, taking breaks, etc. still be looking for clients. Everywhere. Because they are everywhere. I still get a little awkward when people ask me what I do because I feel really young and silly being like “I own my own business.” But why should I? I own my own business. That’s SO cool. I’ve been working on being more confident in saying that (and carrying business cards) so that I can constantly be looking for clients and bringing in inquiries. 


Phew. This ended up much longer than I realized. What have you learned in your fulltime boss mode lately? I’d love to hear. Let me know in the comments below what new discoveries you’ve made lately!



kaitlyn.jpeg

I’m Kaitlyn, your design assistant! I work with successful creative entrepreneurs to create cohesive, clean, and compelling visuals for their businesses. You can keep being the #girlboss you are (but with more time to focus on growing your empire)! Let's set up a time to chat!


8 Ways To Improve and Grow Your Blog Traffic Today

You want to grow your blog, get viewers, and get interactions, right? I get asked how I do this on my own blog a lot, so I thought I'd share some things I do in my own business to grow my blog. My methods are a combination of trial and error, things I’ve read, and instinct, so take these 8 ways and see what you can implement into your own business. 


BE SOCIAL ON SOCIAL MEDIA

Here’s the thing about social media – it only works when you do. I can attest to this on personal experience! When I get overwhelmed work-wise, social media is the first thing I abandon. I ALWAYS regret that decision, too! It definitely reflects immediately in page views, interactions, and inquiries for me. 

I’m not just talking about scheduling your tweets and pins; I’m talking about actually getting on there and connecting with people. When you join a Twitter chat or spend time watching other’s Periscopes you begin to interact with people that want to find out more about you and so they head to your site. Chances are if something resonates with them they will share it, thus sending their peers to you.

Now, I don’t mean this manipulatively. Don’t just get social in a fake way in hopes to grow your blog. Instead realize the importance of this networking (the same way you would network for a brick and mortar business) and devote time to doing that. Even if it’s an hour a week in a Twitter chat, I know you will see results. Some of my favorite Twitter chats are #CreateLounge from Kayla Hollatz and #CreativeCoffeeHour from Callie Gisler.


GET ACTIVE ON PINTEREST GROUP BOARDS

Pinterest is a hugely valuable tool for growing your blog – if you use it right. Yes, you need to be sharing your content to your Pinterest account and yes, you need to be repinning other people’s content, but don’t forget to get active on group boards! There are so many out there that are hyper focused to whatever your niche is and they are SO useful for getting your content seen by THOUSANDS of people.

Finding group boards and joining can be a little bit of work up front. I went to some of my “Pinterest Idols” and researched what group boards they were a part of, and then made a point to join and get active on those ones. I also created my own group board to help myself stand out as someone worth following and looking into.

Some group boards that I really like browsing through (and sharing my content to) are Creative Bloggers + Biz Owners and the Blogging Boost Official Board.


USE THE DAILY EVENTS IN FACEBOOK GROUPS

Other amazing resources include the Facebook groups that different entrepreneur’s run. They usually have some sort of themed day where you can share things like a tweet or a blog post or a promotion. These are great because you can get exposed to a new audience and also you can find new people that you want to follow and interact with.

There are usually rules for these interactions and I think following them is a vital part to the ‘trust system’ of these Facebook groups. Basically, don’t be greedy. If you expect others to share your content, then be sure to share their content too.

Facebook groups are also a fantastic way to research things that people have questions or concerns about and make sure you are putting out content that answers those needs. But we will cover that a few points down!

I love the Freelance to Freedom Facebook group so much! The Tweet Tuesdays are my favorite day because you can customize a tweet and have so many new people share it with their audience. It’s easy promotion and also a fun way to meet and interact people (and makes filling up my buffer queue a lot easier)! 


WRITE (A LOT OF) GOOD + SHAREABLE CONTENT

This is another one that I can say from personal experience – don’t sacrifice your content when your schedule gets crazy. I am still recovering from a period of absent-blogging because I was just too overwhelmed. Now, I know, easier said than done. Things get busy and get hard and life happens and something has to be sacrificed but having content that is good, shareable, robust, and pertinent to your business is so incredibly valuable. 

The more good content you have out there the more reasons someone has to visit your site, stick around, and share it with their peers. Content doesn’t necessarily have go come in the form of traditional blog posts either. It can be videos, checklists, guides, etc.


MAKE YOUR WEBSITE EASILY NAVIGABLE

As a designer I can't emphasize enough how the experience someone has on your website is so essential to their overall impression of your brand and your business. You need to have a website that is efficient and easily navigable so that it’s obvious how to get to more posts, how to search for posts, how to read more related posts, and how to get around and see what else you’ve got to offer. Make it foolproof. Make it obvious. There is absolutely no reason to try and be elusive on your website.

Something I highly recommend is having an avenue to more posts at the end of your blog post. So I include a summary block that links to “Posts You Might Be Interested In” in an effort that by the time they get to the bottom of one post they will click over to another. I see this in action too because I’ll get comments from the same person back-to-back, clearly clicking between posts. It’s an awesome pat on the back that one of my systems is working! 

I also encourage clients to utilize their archives or categories to make it easy for someone visiting your site to find more similar content. If they really like one post, let’s make it super easy to find more. 


ANSWER QUESTIONS WITH YOUR BLOG POSTS

I started to mention this earlier, but just to expound on it more: make your blog posts (or other content) relevant. If you get asked the same question repeatedly (like how do I get more blog views – the inspiration for this post) then make a point to make the answer readily available. If you know people want to know the answer, then answer it for them!

Think of this scenario: you want to cook dinner for your significant other, but you have no ideas. You search for a recipe and find one, cook it, make an amazing meal that he/she LOVES and raves about. You are so excited! Then of course you tell your friends, your sister, your mom, the girl at the counter at Target, and anyone else who will listen about it and refer them to this website because clearly they have amazing recipes.

You want the same thing to happen with your blog. You want to answer someone’s question SO expertly that they can’t help but be overjoyed at the knowledge bombs you dropped that they have to share it. 


LINK TO YOURSELF (+ OTHERS) 

Another great way to grow your blog traffic is to link to yourself throughout posts and link to others. Linking to yourself works similarly to the point I was making before about having people know where to click next. I’ve done it throughout this post – linked to any of my services, offerings, or other relevant blog posts that I’ve mentioned. This is so you, potentially a first time reader, can learn more about me and what I do and continue to peruse my site.

Linking to others works in a few ways: it can help build authority, for starters. If I link to people that are making waves and doing awesome things then it shows that I to follow them and want to make waves and do awesome things. It also helps to establish that we run in the same circles and are friends by association. Another way it works is that it puts you in front of that person and increases the chance that they might share your content.

Now, again, don’t be greedy and expect a share automatically. But maybe you can tweet and say “Read this post about 8 ways to grow your blog traffic, featuring @whoeveryoumentioned and @theotherpersonyoumentioned” and a simple retweet might send 100s of new fans your way.


MAKE IT EASY TO SHARE

Lastly, and perhaps most importantly, make it EASY to share. Put social links everywhere. Put pinnable graphics with descriptions already written. Put social share links on your website that pop up (like the ones I have to the left). Put click-to-tweets. Make it so dang easy that there is no reason NOT to share your amazing content.

We are all super busy and the easier you make it for someone to add you to their buffer queue or pin your blog post, the more likely it will happen. Heck, ask for the share! End your blog post with a call to action that says something like “Would your friends want to grow their blog traffic? Share this post now!” and include social links.


Overall I hope one or more of these ideas help you to increase your blog traffic. Let me know in the comments which ways you are going to try out in your own business or blog! I can’t wait to hear your responses!



I’m Kaitlyn, your design assistant! I work with successful creative entrepreneurs to create cohesive, clean, and compelling visuals for their businesses. You can keep being the #girlboss you are (but with more time to focus on growing your empire)! Let's set up a time to chat!