Web Tools and Resources I Can’t Live Without

I thought it would be helpful to share the tools and resource that help me almost daily run my business. Depending on where you are in your business these tools and resources will help you as well. I recommend bookmarking it for your reference and convenience. Enjoy!

Disclosure:  Please note that some of the links below are affiliate links, and at no additional cost to you, I will earn a commission if you decide to make a purchase.  Please understand that I have experience with all of these companies, and I recommend them because they are helpful and not because of the small commissions I make if you decide to buy something.  Please do not spend any money on these products unless you feel you need them or that they will help you achieve your goals.

Professional Web Hosting from HostMonster 2014-05-07 15-18-00Hostmonster  - I HIGHLY RECOMMEND
obtaining web hosting  and a domain with Host Monster. This is my web host whom I’ve been with for over 4 years. They are reliable, secure, great customer service (via phone and online chat), awesome written and video tutorials, and they constantly communicate with me to let me know about updates and upgrades. Note: Your first domain name is FREE.

  • Highest customer service
  • Quality equipment
  • Maximum guaranteed up time
  • Highly functional tools for administration
  • Secure backups

Studio Press Genesis Framework and Lifestyle Theme

studiopress_high_res-1024x189I use StudioPress very often because it works! Stylish online publishing has never been so easy than with the bright, magazine-style frame and amazing flexibility of the Lifestyle theme.

Lifestyle’s array of smart layouts and clean design options let you express yourself with articles, videos and everything in between, while valuing your strong point of view. Got questions? Click Here

1403728450_folder_textStorytelling and Sales Copy That Works!

by Nicole Baute at Story Factory

Nicole is so awesome! She is so nice and knows her stuff. She helped me with me with re-writing my sales page copy. It is so hard to really capture the attention of your reader through storytelling and pain points. However, she can accomplish that for you. Also, she has a very accomplished background in writing – she puts the pro in professional. If you do hire her let her know I recommend you. :)

Design:

Canva 2014-05-07 15-17-18

Adobe - I use photoshop and illustrator majority of the time. Adobe now has it where you can pay monthly to use their software. It is a bit of a learning curve for those who are new to designing.

Canva - This is great free tool with pre-made templates to create graphics for social media, blog, and more… I can’t recommend Canva enough for my do-it-yourself lovelies. Very easy to use.

OTHER RESOURCES AND TOOLS

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Email Subscription 

Mailchimp

Hello Bar

Membership and E-commerce Tools

Paid Membership Pro

E-Junkie

Images

Photo Dune

Bookkeeping Software

Outright

Tracking Time

Klok

Scheduling 

Time Trade

Schedule Once

Social Media 

Shareaholic

Hootsuite

 

Increase Your Email List with A Strategy That Works

blogpost_emaillistI’m not one who likes to hold my strategies that work all to myself. Ultimately, if I test something out and it works for me best believe I am going to be transparent and share with you exactly how I get things done. With that being said, let’s get down to business!

We all want to increase our email list, right? If you haven’t then I am telling you that you definitely need to. I wish I started years ago when I first started designing.

I use three social media platforms consistently: Facebook (800+ followers), Twitter (1300+ followers), and Instagram (700+ followers). Yet, those numbers don’t mean a damn thing to me without having their email addresses.

Now that we have that out the way, let me tell you how you can convert those fans into your email subscriber.

1. Create a FREE gift that provides value.

  • Checklist
  • E-book
  • Email video course
  • A video
  • Webinar
  • PDF
  • Consultation
  • Review or report
  • Coupon

If you’re not sure what to create then I suggest that you go onto social media and ask people what they want. Or pay attention to all the questions people are asking you in groups and in forums. Social media groups are the best location to capture this information because people are in there to connect, get help, or help others.

I joined a few groups, such as, genesis support group and health coach web support group where my audience spends their time. They have questions about coding, CSS, branding, Pic Monkey, Canva, design, plugins, membership sites, and more. People in the groups helped me form the idea to create a detailed Free D.I.Y Website Checklist.  And then later when I created a D.I.Y. WordPress Course for Beginners it was presented to my list of prospects.

2. Opted-in forms that stand out in the right locations.

I find having an email form under my header to be the #1 way I automatically get signups and that is because it’s above the fold on every page and in your face.

The #2 location is at the very top of your sidebar because it’s above the fold and it’s the first thing the visitors see when they land on your homepage.

#3 location is a page within your navigation. I’ve tested this on my website and my clients. Her page is titled “Subscribe” and mine is titled “Freebie or Free Checklist”. I’ve watched folks click on this page very often to sign up.

At the bottom of your blog posts and your about page are other locations I’ve often added a email form as well and it works time and time again.

Finally, add some color to your email form and if you don’t know how to do that feel free to contact me and I will be happy to help you do just that. This makes your email form stand out from the rest of the page and draws your visitor’s eye to this “call-to-action”.

3. Promote the heck out of your free gift.

You have to tell people about your freebie. Everyone loves something free especially if it solves a problem that they currently have. I use Hootsuite to schedule out posts like these for Twitter and Facebook reminding my audience that I have a free check list for them to follow while their building or re-building their website. Be friendly, keep them in mind, and self-promote your free gift constantly. Don’t be shy!

 4. Provide consistent value so they stick around.

This is extremely important! You got them on your email list, now what? Now you have to continue communicating with them so they don’t forget about you. Don’t wait too long to follow up with again. By you continuously provide them with useful information it builds your credibility and makes you their go to guy or gal.

5. Get feedback and thank them from time to time.

After a few days, get their feedback by asking them what they thought about your free gift. This will let you know if they found it useful or not. You can also ask them what else they need or maybe shoot out a few other ideas you might have in mind to see which one sticks. At the end of the day we are in business to serve.

I also thank everyone who is on my email list through automatic thank you confirmation and also sending them an email from my personal email. It tells them that I appreciate them and if there is any way I can help them progress more than I will.

Now it’s your turn…

Is it more beneficial to build your email list or your # of fans?

xoxo,

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A Healthy Boss is a Happy Boss

quote_healthbosshappy

Sometimes I have to remind myself this very thing especially if I’ve been sitting at my desk for a long period of time or I haven’t eaten or I haven’t been outside the house in days or spoken to my friends in days. We all want to work hard and progress, but don’t forget that you have to take care of yourself as well (inside and out). My reminder from me to you!

What do you do to stay healthy and happy? Share with me in the comment section below. :D

Can’t Be Everything to Everyone Find Your Target Audience

find your target audience copyYou might be thinking people are too vague and sugarcoat things too much in the marketing world.

You just want people to GET TO THE POINT ALREADY!

Really lay it out for you and show you exactly how to find your target audience.

Who are they? What do they want? Where do they hang out? How can I get them as a client?

I can honestly say from experience that you must figure out who you want to target yourself and you have to get VERY SPECIFIC because if not it’s going to be difficult for you to answer these questions and even more difficult for someone with a specific problem to hire you.

About a month ago, I had a message session with someone who helped me narrow down my core message and a few industries I am interested in targeting.

I re-designed my website, packages, and re-wrote my content instantly.

After some time I still felt something was missing; my target audience was still too broad.

However, lately the universe has placed specific people around me who are my ICA (ideal client avatar) and they are online health and life coaches.

Recently, it really hit me that I can’t just be a WordPress web designer for passionate and amazing people because that is too broad.

I want to be a designer for online health and life coaches who are still passionate and amazing people, but they help other women improve themselves, their health and lifestyles.

This still caters to my core message which is, “I want to design and develop websites for businesses that make a difference and have an impact in their communities and in the world!”

 

Strive to be great and show the world the real you.” – Siedah M.

 

Who am I? I’m a caring and passionate person who wants see people be good, do good, and live positive and healthy lives.

Why do I design? I design because I am passionate about expressing the story of others and my own. I feel more fulfilled in working with women who are passionate about empowering, educating, and guiding others to being better people. (FYI- you will be seeing some changes around here (my site) so keep in touch with me!)

Now on the other hand this might scare the living crap out of you.

You might feel like, if you do this than you might be limiting yourself.

Limiting = Bad in Our Minds

It doesn’t have to be and maybe there is another way you can think about this.

Put yourself in your CUSTOMER’S SHOES for just 10 seconds.

Sally is searching the web, looking for a cartoon illustrator specifically for a children’s book she recently wrote.

You are a cartoon illustrator who only works with independent authors who writes children’s books.

Pete is searching the web for a copywriter who is experienced with working with relationship coaches.

You are a copywriter who writes for personal and relationship coaches.

John and Mary are looking for a debt consultant who specifically works with married couples.

You are a debt consultant who helps married couples manage and get out of their debt.

This sounds simple, but I realize that this isn’t such an easy task as everyone might make it out to be.

Your customers are looking for a specific person with a specific service to help them solve their specific problem.

However, to get there you have to dig deep within yourself and figure out your true strengths and purpose.

This might be something you have to try over and over again until you get it right, but it is so worth it.

I think there are a few things you have to do first:

  1. Figure out your purpose:
    1. Who are you? (personality, personal and business weaknesses, personal and business strengths)
    2. What motivates you to do what you do? What makes you happy?
    3. What are your skills? What are you interest in learning?
    4. Why do people hire you? (ask your friends, family, and past clients)
    5. What industry connects with you the most? (for me it was nonprofits, philanthropists, coaches, and motivational speakers)
  2. Decide your WHO, WHAT, HOW, AND WHY:
    1. Who do you want to provide your service or product to?
    2. What are you providing them?
    3. How will you be delivering it to them?
    4. Why would they want to buy from you?
  3. Go out and talk to those people:
    1. Go to social media and social media groups (specific groups like authors, married couples, or coaches).
    2. Ask people on your newsletter list
    3. Ask people you already know who fit the criteria of your target audience
    4. Ask them questions that will help you and be very specific in the questions you ask them
  4. Research your audience and competition.

 

It’s never too late to be what you might have been.” -George Eliot 

 

It takes patience, research, and really diving deep to figure out who you are (your brand), who you want to target (your clients) and also making sure what you have to offer they actually want (supply and demand).

Now it’s your turn… Share with me below what you do and what makes you unique from others.

6 Lessons You Can Avoid in Your Business Right Now

lessons_to_avoid_businessWhen you own your own business you will have to make some really tough decisions and you will be accountable for everything that goes right and wrong in your business.

Although I have been designing websites since I was 14 years old, I have only been in business full-time for myself for the past 15 months.

In those 15 months, I’ve had a lot of high points and I’ve gotten through some tough times.

The following are 6 lessons you can avoid in your business.

1. You can NEVER stop educating yourself and investing in your business.

Looking back through my Outright bookkeeping software I realize that I spend a lot of money on courses and programs.

You will save yourself thousands of dollars on a degree by taking specific classes you need online (I wish I had years ago).

Just make sure you do your homework, educate yourself on the instructor, and possibly talk to their past attendees or beta testers before you purchase.

I just finished Marie Forleo’s B-school and I plan to take a branding identity and illustration course this summer to update my skills with Skillshare.

Never stop educating yourself and learning new things because you will grow as a professional and your business will grow as well.

2.Take your time and don’t skip your processes.

Don’t rush anything!

Whether that is giving your client your contract, getting a deposit, having a contractor sign a disclosure agreement, or submitting written material without proof reading three times.

I must admit, grammar isn’t necessarily my strongest skill and that is something I admit over and over again.

However, when I slow down and don’t do things last minute I have found that everything turns out great and there no pressure to rush.

You might be guilty of this as well.

Maybe not with grammar, but do you ever rush through something or skip over your own processes like getting a deposit first before you begin work?

We all have been there once or twice, but ultimately it is ourselves that we have to blame when things don’t quite pan out.

Stick to your guns always and take your time so you do things properly.

3. Don’t put all your eggs in one basket.

It’s so hard to depend on people and everyone doesn’t do business the same way as you or handle a situation the same.

I’ve learned over the years that it is always good to have a backup just in case someone gets sick, none responsive, or just not doing a good job.

This can be a contractor, accountant, virtual assistant, etc…

So, I would recommend that you keep contact information to backup person just in case the person you hired falls through.

4. Cut yourself a check.

I know you’ve heard this before, “keep your personal and business expenses separate”.

I have too and I didn’t listen from time to time.

It made things difficult when it came down to taxes to have my expenses together.

So ultimately, I must warn you that it is best to keep EVERYTHING in business SEPARATE from your personal.

I pay myself every two weeks so that way I can handle my personal bills and items from my personal debit card versus my business debit card.

I now find it easier to track everything because it is completely separate.

5. Save 20-30% of your earnings for savings and taxes each year.

This is something I have to continuously remind myself of.

I shouldn’t be struggling because my mother is an accountant, but I don’t necessarily take after her in this field (just saying :-/).

However, my mama knows best so she has instructed me to:

  1. Put aside at least 20% of my earnings each month towards taxes and savings.
  2. Pay my taxes quarterly instead of at the end of the year.

This is a habit I need to keep because ultimately you never know what can happen unless you’re consistently bringing in income.

Sometimes there are slow months for whatever reasons throughout the year and the savings will help you cope through those slow periods.

6. Don’t compare your journey to someone else.

This is something I am continuously reminding myself of.

I was subscribing to all the top players email list, tried to catch every podcast, interview, and webinar they had so I can soak up their expertise and try to earn the money they do.

Then one day it clicked – they have been doing this longer than I and their journey is different than mine.

  1. I unsubscribed to all of those who weren’t necessarily benefiting me.
  2. I stopped visiting their blogs so much and attending their webinars.
  3. I started concentrating on who I wanted to work with.
  4. Started creating systems that will make my process easier for myself and my clients
  5. I embraced who I am and let that be enough to share with the world

Do your own thing, follow your own path, and just be yourself in the process.

Well, now it’s your turn…

Share with me below one lesson you have learned so far in your business.

I was Interviewed by Revision Path

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This week, I had the pleasure of being interviewed by Maurice Cherry at Revision Path.

We chatted about my mentors, talked about what inspires me, how Marie Forleo’s B-School helped transform my business, and a lot more.

My mission is to inspire other designers to have a bigger voice. So I made a big announcement, so you’ll definitely have to listen in and find out what it is!

Listen to the Podcast Interview Here

 

With Love,

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Why WordPress and Not Websites like Blogger?

why blogger when wordpress copyHave you ever seen a pair of shoes in the window and thought, “I want those. No, I NEED them. They’re amazing!”

So naturally you walk inside and ask the cashier for those shoes in your size.

You decide to try them on, pacing back and forth until you get a feel for them; ultimately, they’re both comfortable and affordable – perfection! 

Finally, you decide to take them home.

A few months later you’re walking past the same store when you spot a newer version of the same shoes you just bought not that long ago!

Except these shoes are a complete upgrade with detailed designs and high quality material.

So naturally you walk inside and ask the cashier for those shoes in your size.

Once again you test them out in the store, walking up and down the aisles until you get a feel for them.

Lo and behold, they’re even more comfortable than the last pair! Of course, you end up taking them home.

Despite having bought similar pairs of shoes, you hardly think of that first pair now that you’ve realized you have something better…  

 And honestly, it can be the same experience when it comes to your website.

When you’re first starting out, sites like Blogger and Wix are so enticing because they’re free, simple to use and easy to get started on.

But after awhile you start to notice the various limitations, and when you’re ready to upgrade your blog/website, you turn toward WordPress.

Starting off small and then upgrading when you’re ready is a common piece of advice, but  honestly I think it depends on why you’re starting off small to begin with.

If you’re only interested in testing your business (or blog) idea on a free platform like Blogger or Wix, then it makes sense because of the fewer start-up costs so all you’ve invested was your time.

However, if you plan to stick around and grow your business/website over the years – why not start off the right way?

The learning curve is pretty steep if you later want to upgrade to WordPress.org from a site like Wix since you’ll have to find a way to redirect all your old links to your new site, get all your content onto the new platform as well as learning WordPress from scratch – not exactly my idea of a good time.

Getting started with WordPress will save you a ton of headache in the long run. But how much does it cost to get started? If you want to invest in WordPress.org, it can be anywhere between $25 to $50 depending on what you need.

What do you I need to get started with WordPress.org?

1. Domain name (approximately $11-14/ year)

2. Web host (approximately $5-15/month)

But now you may be thinking, “Thanks Siedah, that’s all well and good, but what exactly are the differences between WordPress, and the free platforms like Wix, Blogger, and Squarespace?”

Well, I’ve created this table at the bottom to go over just that:

WordPress.ORG Wix Blogger SquareSpace
Free Version Available YES YES YES NO – 14 day trial & then monthly fee
Start up Cost Approx $11 – 14/yr (domain name) + $5-15/month (web hosting) FREE (www.yourname.com domain name not included) FREE (www.yourname.com domain name not included) $8-30/month
User Friendly YES YES YES YES
Flexible YES NO NO NO
Applications & Widgets YES YES NO YES
Access to HTML & CSS Files YES NO YES YES
Integrate Blogging Platform YES NO YES YES
Fully Functional Editor YES NO YES YES
Fully Customizable YES NO NO NO
Premium Themes & Templates YES – unlimited NO NO YES – limited

Still on the fence about WP vs Those Other Platforms? Ask me your questions below and I’d love to help!

xoxo

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Bschool Journal: We’ve come to the end

b-school_week_theend copyWeek 6: Offerings – 4/18/14
Still behind in my work for b-school. It’s honestly like a domino effect.

However, I can honestly say this course gets better and better as you go.

I’ve been testing out my packages for the past 2-3 months.

I’ve asked freelancers, designers, and other entrepreneurs about offering packages or listing services with a starting price point.

After testing the packages out for three months, I decided to go back to listing my services with a starting price point.

Why?

No one bought the packages – doing what I do (web designer) – everyone’s needs aren’t the same.

So a package isn’t necessarily the way to go for what I do and my multiple ideal clients.

I was able to really figure this out this week in b-school.

Plus I’d rather learn about my potential client and their website needs in our consultation and provide them a price accordingly.

This week also helped me price my new  DIY WordPress eCourse for beginners I’m working on right now that I’m very excited about.

For this week I give it an 8 out 10.

Week 7: Marketing – 4/25/14

We’re down to the wire and this week isn’t technically the last week of b-school because graduation is on May 3rd, but it’s officially my last week of b-school.

I’ve listened to all the videos and went through half of the resources for this module.

I’ve found this module to be an 8 out of 10 as well.

There is so much great and useful information in this module that’s really helping me with mynew  DIY WordPress eCourse for beginners.

Ultimately, my accountability partner and I plan to go back through b-School this summer.

I’m moving in two months and working on this course which takes up ALL my time so I’m glad b-school is over (for now).

I’ve dedicated my life to b-school over the past 7 weeks and there have been both VERY HIGH points and VERY LOW ones.

Ultimately, there have been more highs than lows.

I am clear on who I want to work with, my core message, working on my first online course, and met a lot of beautiful, talented, and intelligent women who understand this lifestyle.

More importantly I’m CONFIDENT in who I am and what I do.

Although I have A LOT to still work on and improve I’m very happy in my participation and my progress over the past 7 weeks.

This course and community is so worth the two-thousand dollars and the time.

I’ll be spending my graduation day in Albany, NY with my family, but I want to leave you with this.

“Don’t be afraid to try. Don’t be afraid to give your all. Don’t be afraid to be yourself. “

What’s the difference between WordPress.Com and WordPress.Org?

If you’re new to WordPress you might be wondering what the heck is the difference between WordPress.com and WordPress.org? 

Knowing  the difference can help you  determine which one is for you and your business.

For starters, WordPress.com is a free hosted service that you can easily set up in seconds.  As soon as you’ve set up your account, your new blog name will have an address (ie: website URL). It’ll look something like this: yourbusinessname.wordpress.com

Although the initial setup is free there are fees for certain  features, so  if you’re looking to add or upgrade your blog, be sure to double-check if it’s free or not. For example, if you’d like to change your website URL from yourbusinessname.wordpress.com to www.yourbusinessname.com there’s an additional cost.
comorg_slide1 copy
And while WordPress.com is incredibly quick and intuitive to use (with many decent free templates to start), there are other barriers that can make the service harder to use if you’re trying to do something a bit more robust. For example, you can’t install third-party plugins (which can give additional functionality to your site) nor can you upload any themes. What you got is what you got

In general, WordPress.com is an excellent service to use if you need something simple (maybe just a blog to record your love of cats wearing scarfs), don’t have any interest in getting your hands dirty (WordPress.com does everything for you, like backing up and maintaining your site) and aren’t interested in paying extra bits of cash for special features. But if you’re looking to customize your theme, offer affiliate links, or even build in e-commerce features – you’re up a river with no paddle.

BUT if you’re super set on utilizing some of the features on WordPress.com, a premium account will cost $99 a year, which includes your domain name and there’s a one-time fee of $79 for access to theme collections.

Not exactly feeling WordPress.com? That’s okay, because you do have another, much more expansive option!

WordPress.org is a free, flexible, and  open source software that you can download and install directly to your server.  In order to get started with WordPress.org, you’ll need a domain name (which you can buy online), web hosting (like Bluehost or GoDaddy) who meets the minimum requirements, and a little time to get everything set up.

comorg_slide2 copy
Once your WordPress.org is set up, it’s incredibly easy to customize and shape into whatever you want and can be used for just about anything. Generally, there aren’t any  limits or rules to follow when using WordPress.org, but you’ll have to maintain and secure your own website. If anything goes wrong, you’d need to contact your web host provider or hire a WP developer to take a look. Additionally, the WordPress.org community is massive (and growing all the time), so if you experience any issues, someone can definitely help you in the forums.

While WordPress.org requires a bit more legwork (installing your own analytics), and more up-front costs (paying for a domain and hosting is a yearly expense), you can install many plug-ins for free, customize your website until your face turns blue (or even pay someone else to do it), and have generally more authority over your site because you own it!

Do you see the differences between WordPress.com and WordPress.org?

If not, that’s okay (and if you do, hurray!), because I want to share with you a great WordPress Course I’m offering that will teach you step-by-step how to design and develop a WordPress.org site so that you don’t have to do it on your own.

Still have questions? Please leave them in the comments and I’ll be more than happy to help!