Systems, Organization & Productivity

5 Tips to Help You Focus on Your Business (After Your 9 to 5)

The dream is real, y’all! Whether you work on your “hustle” full time or you balance your biz with another full time job, we get it. Sure, it would be easier to have every day, all day, to work on your dreams, but in reality, bills have to be paid and a girl’s gotta eat.

So where do you spend your extra sliver of precious time and energy once you come home from the 9 to 5? What are the key things that you should be focusing on that can propel your business forward? It’s easy to get side tracked on doing the “fun” things, but especially in the beginning there’s a lot of behind-the-scenes grunt work that’s just got to be done.

Since we know it can easily get overwhelming for you to know where to turn your focus, we’ve broken down the 5 key things that we think will make the most impact on your business.

The dream is real, y’all! Whether you work on your “hustle” full time or you balance your biz with another full time job, we get it. Sure, it would be easier to have every day, all day, to work on your dreams, but in reality, bills have to be paid and a girl’s gotta eat.  So where do you spend your extra sliver of precious time and energy once you come home from the 9 to 5? What are the key things that you should be focusing on that can propel your business forward? | Think Creative Collective

1. Start With a Clear Mapped Out Version of Your Week (Friday)

We suggest laying out your week on the Friday before, if not a whole month in advance. Sounds crazy we know, but if you can learn what is actually doable in the time you have, you can plan accordingly. Setup all the baby steps and must dos inside Trello, set dates, and then the Friday before copy the tasks over to My Week. Even if you’re not necessarily blogging (which we think you totally should be!) we bet there are still things that you can map out and designate days for to get completed. Not only will you have a clearer vision of what needs done, but you can clear up your headspace so we can be present with friends and family during the weekend. You’ll know that Monday is covered!

2. Spend Some Time Being Present Online (Everyday)

It’s really easy to get stuck in our own little “creative” bubble, but the power of being present online is incredible. We make sure to post on our favorite social media platforms (Instagram, Facebook, and Pinterest) multiple times a day. If you know you can’t be on your phone at work try a scheduling app like Later (for Instagram), Post Planner (for Facebook and Twitter) or Tailwind (for Pinterest), so you can plan everything beforehand.

It’s also beneficial to be present in any online groups you might be in. (Need one to join? We'd love to have you in ours! )

Becoming known for what you do is so powerful, and it easily transitions into more referrals. More referrals means more work (which is money in your pocket). Try answering questions as they come up in groups, adding advice when it’s asked for, and always try to give more than you promote. Work on building an authentic and knowledgeable brand.

 

3. Get Back to Clients or Customers (2-3 times a week)

There’s no reason you need to respond to emails every single day, so let yourself off the hook with this one. It’s easy to get sucked down the rabbit hole of Gmail, so dedicate 2 to 3 days a week where you respond to clients or customers and limit it to 20-30 minutes max. If you blog, this could even include responding to comments on your posts.

It’s never fun from a client’s perspective to hear crickets when they’re interested in your product or service, so be in tune with your response policy. It’s good to let them know up front (like on your contact page) how many hours or days it might take you to reply.

That being said, if this hustle is your full-time, make it as professional as any other job and always respond within 1 to 2 business days.

4. Take Note of Your Results

When you’re still working the full-time job you’ve got even less time to lose than most. It’s very important for you to take note of what’s working for you as quickly as possible, as well as what isn’t, and to be able to adjust accordingly. On the other hand, you want to be able to see what is working well and see how you can replicate this for other parts of your business.

Use our favorite method of “tweak and repeat” to try new things and measure the results. Not everything is going to work for you (wouldn’t that be great?!) so take note, make small tweaks, and try again.

See where people are hanging out the most on your website by utilizing Google Analytics. 

5. Work on Getting in Front of More People, not Necessarily Making More 

It’s so, so easy to convince yourself that if you “just make one more thing” or provide “one more option” that that will be the thing that’s going to make it or break it for you. Unfortunately, this just causes you to invest more money and time into the creation of goods or services that nobody knows how to buy!

You’ve got to work on getting in front of more people, being talked about by your peers, and being heard. You can try emailing business that are on a similar level with you and who reach a similar audience to see if they’d be interested in doing a dual shout-out. Or try sending freebie products to big name brands to see if they’ll share it on their social media.

Try to spend your week strategizing between one and three ways in which you could market your brand, and map them out. Then pick one of these to implement the next week, and see what works. You might be surprised by your results, and by who says, “yes!”


We believe in you and we know you can do this. Working a full-time job while working your hustle is no joke, but if anyone can, you can. If you feel like you need some extra help with getting it all organized we definitely suggest you check out TrelloForBusiness.com and heck, while we are at it, we got a super sweet freebie to unlock some awesome time savers.

We’ve put together our top 22 keyboard shortcuts for Trello and Mac users. What the what?! And we’ve conveniently put it in a PDF so you can print it out and reference it anytime you want. Genius, I know. You can thank us later.


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Business, Launching

How to Know You're Ready to Launch Your Next Big Thing

Emylee here. It seems that at any given moment a creative can have two to one bajillion products “on hold” for launching. They sit in real or metaphorical corners waiting to pass go and be launched into the real world. We keep them there for various reasons. Maybe “the market isn’t ready” or you “don’t know what to charge” or “you haven’t settled on a name for the collection” or whatever excuse sounds good that day.

It seems like we’re all waiting for something to push us over the edge and actually launch the damn thing. Why are we waiting? What’s the hold up and how can we get past it?

First, let’s address the mythical ding. 

There’s this thing that we call the mythical ding that we’re all waiting for. Some of us give so much power to this ding that it prevents us from launching our business, our blog or our latest creation for fear that we’re not ready. We convince ourselves that once it’s “ready”, we’ll know. That something will just shift in the air and we’ll know that it’s okay to launch the thing.

The ding doesn’t exist.

The ding is made up of excuses that we use to hold ourselves back out of fear. Period.

You can’t know until you try. 

Yes, yes, you can sit there and roll your eyes at us for making a total “mom” comment, but it’s true. You cannot know if your latest idea is going to work until you actually get it out there. But guess where it works the least? Guess where it will make you absolutely zero dollars? In the shadows.

We like to say “good is good enough”. We heard that phrase from our friend Nikki Elledge Brown and we clung onto that hard. We keep saying it to ourselves every time we put something new out into the world. Whether it’s a blog post, a webinar, a new program our even our brand new YouTube channel!

Good is good enough.

There is no guarantee. 

We tell ourselves that we’re waiting to launch until we know that the launch will go well. Until we have enough people on our list or a big enough social media following or enough blog posts written. We think that by having all those things that our launch will go splendidly and we’ll make 6-figures.

Those numbers don’t guarantee anything.

We’ve had fantastic and meh launches both with small audiences and big audiences. We’ve had launches that statistically should’ve gone a certain way (both high and low) but they flipped up on us. That’s okay.

We learn something new every time.

If you give yourself permission to fail and to succeed you’ll win every time.

So, since we know you’re just waiting for us to give you permission to launch here is a list of how to know you’re ready to launch your next big thing:

  1. You have an idea for something great (but haven’t made it yet)
  2. You’ve created something you want to share
  3. You have 17 blog posts in queue
  4. You have 1 blog post in queue
  5. You’ve asked your audience what they want from you
  6. You want to try something new
  7. You want to add on a new service that you’ve done a thousand times now
  8. You want to add on a new service that you’ve kind of sort of done (once)
  9. You have half of something new made
  10. You picked a price, but you might want to change it later
  11. You haven’t fully worked out all the details on your new thing yet
  12. You heard from Think Creative Collective that you should just launch the damn thing

Notice a trend? Notice that it doesn’t matter where you are in the creation journey, and that you should just launch it? You will learn so much just by getting it out there so your next launch(es) will be bomb diggity.

No one is sitting out there tallying up everything you “should’ve” done in your launch. No one is counting your mistakes. No one is saying you should’ve waited. Oh, wait. Yes there is someone.

It’s you.

So stop it.

Put your thing out into the world. Make waves with it (or ripples). Just do it.


If you’re all like “okay, I’m ready to launch, but….how?”. We’re here for ya. We’ve got a handy dandy launch checklist waiting for you right here. You’re going to figure out how to generate some hefty buzz so you can freaking launch baby!


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Why You Need to Create a Business Plan for Your Small Business

Creating a business plan is one of the best fundamental things you can do to promote success in your business. A business plan will help you stick to, well, your plan for your business. It also helps you think about things you haven’t thought about before and things you should know for your business.

I’ve started several businesses and they’ve all failed because I didn’t have a business plan in place. Once I decided to take this latest business seriously, I filled out a free business plan sheet and it’s been one of the best fundamental things I could do for myself and my business.

Creating a business plan is one of the best fundamental things you can do to promote success in your business. A business plan will help you stick to, well, your plan for your business. It also helps you think about things you haven’t thought about before and things you should know for your business.  |  Think Creative Collective

It’ll help you hone in on your ideal client and get you thinking about the products, verbiage and places to market. Which, in turn, means more revenue in your pocket. It also helps you think about places you’ve never thought to market to before.

Not only will you know your ideal client inside and out, but you’ll have a deep understanding of purpose in your business. If your purpose is to make money in your business, chances are it’s not going to make it off the ground. How do I know that? Because that’s what happened with all of my failed businesses. My focus was on my own gain and not the gain that others would receive from my business. If you’re marketing to a client, you want to make sure the focus is on them because they’ll feel like you’re really investing in who they are and bettering their life.

A business plan will also get you thinking about the future of your business. When you’re creating or building a business, you generally focus on how to lift that business off of the ground. You’re not focused on what you want to be in 5 years or how to handle employees at that point. With a business plan, you’ll be forced (in a good way) to think about how you manage your business and how you would manage other employees. You’ll be more inclined to create systems in place so employees or a virtual assistant could swoop in and help you instead of putting them through rigorous training (which is exhausting for both parties).

As you can see, a business plan is great for many reasons. I want you to plan for your future and the future of your business, grab a paper and pencil or open up a google doc and write down everything that comes to mind in the following questions. Remember, everything you write down is invaluable and is a living document. Just because you wrote it down doesn’t mean you can't change it. If your purpose for running this business shifts or you find your clientele wants something different, then allow it to flow and shift depending on your needs and the needs of your clients.

Blog and Brand Outline

This is one of the more in-depth sections you’ll have to go through when it comes to creating a small business plan. Your brand isn’t just your logo. It’s how you walk, talk and breathe. It’s you. For some reason, it’s hard to write down who you are on paper; at least it is for me. Think about big questions like who you are and what you stand for. What’s something you want to deeply accomplish with this business? That’ll be your driving force behind it all.

Blog Standards

You need to be consistent when you’re online. Your ideal audience will thank you. Otherwise, they’ll have a hard time keeping up with you and end up losing interest. Which is something nobody wants! Let’s help you create blog standards. What will you be posting about? What categories will they be in?

Products and Monetization

Are you selling physical products? Or digital downloads? Do you provide services? Write down everything that you can think of to monetize your blog or website. You might even branch into writing e-books or creating and selling courses depending on your specific niche. Think about ways that you might want to monetize in your future, as well.

Market Analysis

Next, analyze your market. Market analysis is figuring out who your biggest competitor would be, who they sell to and their offerings. Your job is to figure out who you want your market to be and to provide your audience with the best information out there. You should always be promoting value over quantity. Be sure you’re giving your audience the most value so they don’t have to look anywhere else for it!

Promotion on Social Media

How are you going to promote and market yourself on social media? What social media site are you going to utilize for your business? Create a consistent posting schedule so your audience knows what and when to expect posts.

Start-up Costs

Remember: running a business isn’t necessarily cheap but it doesn’t have to be expensive either. Starting your own small business is meant to give you the freedom you deserve and crave. It’s not meant to make you feel trapped in small business loans. If you’re a brick and mortar startup, chances are you’ll have to take out a business loan. But, if you’re an online business, it doesn’t have to be expensive at all. Check out this blog post for more information.

Continuing Education

When it comes to online businesses, you’ll always be growing and learning. I don’t think there’s ever a point where you can stop and say, “I’ve arrived. I know all there is to know” because technology is ever expanding and helping us reach, teach and grow our following. Be sure that you don’t fall behind in the learning curve. Stay ahead and don’t hesitate to invest in furthering your education in your business. Have you been dying to take classes or invest in a business coach? Do it. You’ll take the information you learned and put it right back into your business.

Now that you've mapped out everything about your business, you're ready to take it full time! You've figured everything out. You know who your audience is, how to write to them, how to promote yourself on social media and how much it'll take for you to get this business up and going. My friend, you're ready. Take that leap of faith and join some of the most supportive people you will ever meet. You just gained a new family – a family of entrepreneurs. We welcome you with open arms and we're popping the bubbly already!



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Marketing, Instagram

How to Find + Collaborate with Instagram Influencers to Grow Your Brand

Instagrammers. Influencers. Tastemakers. These are a lot of the buzzwords that have been circling the marketing realm in the past few years. It may seem super daunting and corporate but influencer marketing is something that can be scaled back to work for your small business. But how?

Getting your brand out of the shadows and reaching out to Instagram influencers can be terrifying. You’re putting yourself out there and you're getting visible. The idea of this makes a lot of us recoil and want to get back into bed. (Try to resist that temptation and hear me out. I know it’s hard!)

But, it can also bring invaluable results to your business. By creating meaningful collaborations with Instagrammers, you can increase your brand exposure, grow a community  and build trust in your brand. Let’s get started!

Instagrammers. Influencers. Tastemakers. These are a lot of the buzzwords that have been circling the marketing realm in the past few years. It may seem super daunting and corporate but influencer marketing is something that can be scaled back to work for your small business. But how?  |  Think Creative Collective

What is influencer marketing?

Before I dive into anything, let me first just clarify what the heck influencer marketing is all about. Here’s the scoop:

Influencers are authorities within your niche that have a measurable* influence over your ideal audience.

*Yup! You should be able to measure their influence by looking at their engagement rates, asking for past campaign experience and monitoring their comments to see if your ideal audience is influenced by them.

Influencer marketing is all about forming relationships with influencers and collaborating with them to get your brand in front of their audience.

My influencer marketing mantra is all about engagement: “Count the impressed, not the impressions.”

Define your purpose

Okay, now you’re clued up on what I’m rambling on about, you need to have a think about why you’re looking to work with influencers in the first place. This just really helps you keep focused and build a strong foundation for your influencer marketing strategy.

You don’t want to be searching for any ol’ influencer and working with anyone who’ll have you, do you? You want to keep everything intentional and work towards the purpose of this project.

Here are some examples of the purpose of your influencer collaboration:

  • To increase brand exposure
  • To reach a new audience
  • To build brand trust
  • To grow your community

Action task: Take a moment to think about what your purpose could be! This is imperative to narrow down before you start searching for influencers.

Hone in on your ideal audience

Oh god, I bet you’re super tired of hearing people talk about your “ideal audience”. I know I am! I’m not going to go into too much detail about this because there’s an amazing blog post that covers this over here.

What is important to think about in regards to influencer marketing is the areas of interest your audience have within and outside of your niche. You want to know who your ideal clients and customers are looking to for recommendations - whether that’s bloggers, YouTubers, celebrities or magazines - and you also want to think about other brands, services and products they buy into that you aren’t in direct competition with.

What on earth do I mean by that? Well, two yoga instructors within the same location and the same specialties would be in direct competition. A yoga instructor and a dietician in the same location that share the same audience are indirect competition. You want to be building partnerships with your indirect competition. They can have influence over your ideal audience - especially if they are already selling to them.

Action task: Brainstorm your ideal audience's inspirations, influencers and other brands they look too for recommendations. These are a great starting point to help you find more influencers within your niche.

Find your influencers

So, you’ve got your purpose and know your audience. Time to whip out the flashlights and the treasure maps because we’re going on a hunt to find some Instagram influencers!

I have 3 key ways for you to find influencers on Instagram. Let’s dive in:

Use hashtags to find influencers on Instagram:

Write a list of 10 to 20 hashtags that are either within your niche or tags that your ideal audience is using. Search through these tags and have a look at users within the “Top Posts” section of each tag. These users are likely to have high levels of engagement! Take a look at their profiles and see if they are a good fit for a collaboration. Look at their engagement rates, the profiles of their followers, the type of content they are posting, etc. Do you think they are the right person to collaborate with for your brand?

Search through “related profiles” on Instagram:

When you’ve found someone that is a good fit for your brand or you have an idea of who is your indirect competition, head to their profile. Click the drop-down arrow under their following count and Instagram will show you a bunch of relevant accounts. This is a great way to find more and more influencers in your niche (no matter how small your industry) that you may not have come across before. Remember the above criteria still applies. When you land on their profile, look at their engagement, followers and content. Are they are a good fit?

Investigate your own followers and see who they’re following:

Alternatively, you can take a more grassroots approach and head to your own follower list for inspiration. Take a look through the “following” list on their profiles and you might see the same names popping up again and again. You can also head to your followers’ content to see what hashtags they are using themselves and head back to step 1 to find more influencers.

You’ll find that you’ll see a lot of the same names coming up but keep persevering and you’ll end up with a decent list of diverse influencers that could help you reach your ideal audience.

Action step: Start your search! Try to create a list of 10 to 20 influencers you feel are a great fit for your brand.

Warm up the connection

Like most things in business, it’s best to start small. From your list, choose 2 to 4 influencers you feel are the best fit for your business and take the time to make a connection with them.

Taking the time to warm up a connection with influencers will help you stand out to them when you send your initial email as well as helping you become a recognizable member of their community. You want to become a familiar face to the influencer as well as their audience!

So, how do you do this?

  • Follow them on Instagram - simple!
  • Turn their post notifications on. Take the time to interact with their Instagram posts with relevant and authentic comments
  • Watch their Instagram stories and message them when appropriate
  • Follow them on another social media page and interact with them there
  • Check out their blog content and comment on their posts
  • Join their mailing list or FB group and perhaps even sign up for a webinar if they are hosting one soon

This should feel as organic and meaningful as possible. Don’t go too overboard on all the comments and DMs. You want to be interested in what they’re doing without driving them away!

Action step: Pick 2 to 4 influencers to start connecting with and give them a follow on Instagram! Set a daily reminder to interact with their profiles and any new content.

Make the first move

You’ve set your purpose, found your influencers and warmed up the connection. Now it’s time to make the first move and send your initial email to your 2 to 4 chosen influencers!

Hands up if you hate writing pitch emails?! I hear you.

We’ve all been there, staring at a blank screen wishing the words would just appear ready in time for you to hit “send”. Luckily for you, you’ve stumbled across a killer blog post that is going to cover that all for you.

There are two key things to mention before I give you my outreach template:

Keep it personal:

Always use their first name. Try to use information from your time spent warming up the connection to throw in something personal (e.g., “Hope you had a lovely holiday!” or “P.S. LOVE your new puppy!”)

Keep it concise:

Who knows how many emails these guys are getting every day? Short, sweet, and simple is the way forwards.

Okay, onto the good stuff. Here’s an example script of how to write your initial outreach email to an influencer:

Subject: Collaboration with [INSERT YOUR BUSINESS NAME]

Message: Hey [INSERT NAME],

Hope you’re well and having a great week so far.

I’m not sure if you recognize me from Instagram but I’ve been loving your content recently! I wanted to reach out to see if you would be interested in chatting about a collaboration with my business, [INSERT YOUR BUSINESS NAME].

[TAKE A MOMENT TO DESCRIBE YOUR BUSINESS/PRODUCT/SERVICE]

I feel like our audiences and values align perfectly. I would love to work with you to get [INSERT YOUR BUSINESS NAME] out into the world!

I’d love to chat about [INSERT COLLABORATION IDEA] with you on Instagram but I’m more than happy to take your creative lead on this. You know what’s best for your audience!

If you’re interested in this opportunity, please let me know!

[SIGN OFF]

P.S. [ADD PERSONAL TOUCH]

Action step: Choose one Instagrammer to reach out to with a personalized email! I know it can be super daunting but just take a deep breath and hit the “send” button before you change your mind!

I really hope everything in this blog post has helped you find your purpose, discover your audiences’ inspirations, find influencers, and approach them with your collaboration idea! If you have any questions at all, please leave a comment below and I’ll get back to you ASAP.



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